Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Shadow Day

Happy Shadow Day!

To celebrate, I have a treat for you: the world premiere of the first-ever book trailer for my upcoming book, Shadow’s Lure. This beautiful video was created by the multi-talented Susan Griffith, co-author of The Greyfriar (Pyr Books).

But first let me explain the concept behind Shadow Day. Simply put, my goal is to encourage as many people as possible to pre-order Shadow’s Lure. How well a book does in its first couple weeks is very important, and pre-orders are an important part of that. We want to make a big splash that sends ripples throughout the literary world!

And it starts with you. If you’ve already pre-ordered Shadow’s Lure from an online source (like Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble) or from your local bookstore, then I thank you from the bottom of my evil little heart. But don’t let it end there. Tell your friends and family about the book, your co-workers and classmates. If you have your own website or you’re on a social site like Facebook, spread the word. Everybody has a cousin or a brother or an aunt who reads voraciously. Clue them in. Or order them a copy as a gift. Nothing says love like an assassin bent on revenge.

Thank you all very much. And now, without further ado, the video trailer for book two of the Shadow Saga. . .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meet Author Kimberly Bennett

Kimberly Bennett is one of the wonderful authors I met at both Steel City Con and the Pittsburgh ComiCon. She is a lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio. Kimberly released her first book, Twisted Delights : A Thrilling Short Story Anthology, in Sept 2010 and is scheduled to release her second, A Degree of Wickedness, in Dec 2011. If you like Tales from the Crypt and the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, then Twisted Delights is up your alley!

Find out more about Kimberly and her work at:

Pittsburgh ComiCon 2011

Hey folks,

This past weekend I was at P.C.C, which was held at the same venue as the Steel City Con from last month. The crowd was good. Some great costumes. And I was really impressed by the quality of the artwork that could be found (as well just about every comicbook ever created).

I wasn't the only author there. The con had several small presses in attendance, as well as some individual authors like Kimberly Bennett. I'll throw some pictures up on my facebook page in the near future.

I also want to give a shout out to my buddies, Chris and Christina and Brian from Fortress Publishing, who were at the con also. Much alcohol was imbibed after hours, and the entertainment alone made the trip worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lure Cover

Here's the finished cover for Shadow's Lure. Special thanks to Lou Anders for his art direction, Nicole Sommer-Lecht for the cool design work, and Michael Komarck for another fabulous piece of art.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Villains of Shadow's Son

In my last post, I talked about the heroes of Shadow’s Son, and this week I want to explore the other side of the tracks.

I’ve always enjoyed writing (and reading about) villains, sometimes even more than the heroes. Even when I was little, I was attracted to the dark side. Darth Vader, the Terminator, Hannibal Lector, the Ringwraiths – these were my idols. They didn’t take shit from anyone. Okay, so maybe they exterminated a few people here and there, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Am I right? (Don’t answer that. I know I have issues.)

When I think back to writing Shadow’s Son, the first villain that comes to mind is Ral. Ral was an accident. He just showed up on the page. I originally planned for him to be just a side character who shows up now and again to irritate Caim and then go away, but from their first interaction on the stairs at The Three Maids, Ral carved out a more unique role for himself.

Ral is Caim’s flipside. He’s what Caim might have become if he started actually enjoying his work. Ral was fun for me because he has no rules. While not as crazy as Heath Ledger’s Joker character, he’s definitely in it for himself and screw everyone else.

Levictus is Caim’s other flipside. Like Caim, he also has a troubled history, but instead of being raised by a nurturing friend like Kas, Levictus is adopted by a man with no scruples, and so any chance he had of letting go of his past and living a normal life is gone from the start. With Levictus, I wanted to show the effects of evil on other evil things. Levictus was created by Vassili, but then grows beyond his creator’s ability to control. That theme of unintended consequences really resonates with me.

Then we come to Archpriest Vassili, the spider at the center of the web. I’ll admit, I don’t really like Vassili much. He’s corrupt, faithless, cowardly, a hypocrite on several levels, and without a single redeeming quality. He ought to run for Congress. But he’s a man with a vision. To be sure, that vision is of himself sitting at the top of the world dictating to everyone else how they should live their lives, but he gets things done, dammit! Well, he tries to, but he’s largely ineffectual because he tries to manipulate events from the back instead of getting in front of them, and that’s something I personally cannot stand. So, killing him off was a pleasure.

There is another villain in the book, one who didn’t get much face time, but who influenced every page. I’m talking about the Shadow. In Shadow’s Son we only get brief glimpses of the real power behind the plots. But the next book will take Caim (and you, Gentle Reader) deeper into the rabbit hole. I suggest you bring a flashlight and something warm to wear.

The villains of Shadow’s Son. Whether you loved them or hated them, I hope you found them compelling.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Heroes of Shadow's Son

I love the heroes of my first book.

Writing about Caim, Kit, and Josey was thrilling and rewarding. I had never felt such a connection to characters before. Now they’re like members of the family. Sometimes I half expect to see Caim coming up from my basement on his way for an evening constitutional and a little mayhem.

The idea of Caim was a process. I had written the beginning of a fantasy assassin novel years and years ago, but abandoned the project after a few chapters. But the idea of the character always stuck with me.

Insider tidbit: Parts of the first scene in Shadow’s Son, when Caim assassinates Duke Reinard, was borrowed from the beginning of that abandoned project.

Years later, I got an idea for a roguish character who gets sucked into a political scheme. I tried plotting the main character as a thief, a sort of cat burglar, but I ran into some snags. Then I remembered that old project with the assassin, and the two ideas merged. That was the real birth of Shadow’s Son.

Writing Caim was a challenge for several reasons. First, Caim is a physical person. He’s not afraid to mix it up with anyone. And although I’ve been a rather physical person for most of my life, including years of martial arts study and working at a job that required “hands on” counseling with sometimes-violent inmates, my personality generally steers me away from conflicts. So I had to subdue that impulse with Caim. Whenever a situation got intense, I tried not to let myself, or him, back down.

Also, Caim has a trouble past. This is something I share with him (although not in nearly the same proportion), and there were times when tapping into that turbulence was painful. But it felt right at the same time, like I wouldn’t be doing Caim proper justice if I didn’t dig deep for those emotions.

Then there’s Kit. When I talk to people who have read the book, they always want to talk about Kit. Yeah, Caim is interesting and conflicted, but Kit is just too cool for school. And she was a blast to write. Letting her say just about anything that came to mind (and there wasn’t anything Caim could about it) was so much fun. And I really liked how she evolved into the perfect foil for Caim. Where he’s often morose and pessimistic, she’s carefree and lighter than air (literally). He wants to live life on his terms, and she’s happy to take things as they come. Oil and water on the surface, but they get along like peas and carrots. The hardest part about writing Kit was not including her as much as I wanted. Shadow’s Son could have easily turned into Kit’s Happy Adventure Time if I wasn’t careful. But the good news is that if you are one of the people who wanted more face-time with Kit, just be patient. She has all new tricks in the sequel, and I think (I hope) you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ah, Josey. The damsel in distress. According to some, a wooden stereotype who exists only to give Caim someone to rescue. Well, that’s not how I see her. While Caim is the muscles of the book, and Kit is perhaps the soul, Josey is the heart. I only had a rough idea of who she was when I started writing, but with every scene she became clearer in my imagination. By the end I knew she couldn’t be just a throw-away background player; she needed a spotlight of her own. That impression stuck with me after I’d finished the first novel and started on the second. One of the most difficult parts about writing Josey wasn’t her gender, but writing a believable seventeen-year-old without making her into a caricature. Teenagers are so often maligned and patronized in literature, I wanted Josey to ‘sound’ real. And judging by the responses I’ve gotten from actual teenage readers, I feel good about my efforts.

There’s one other hero I’d like to mention. Of all the book’s secondary characters, the one I loved the most was Mat, despite his brief appearance in the book. Mathias Finneus, the extravagant godfather of Othir’s assassination ring. Originally, Mat was the leader of a guild of assassins, and Caim was his star pupil. But as I wrote their scene the idea took hold of me that Mat was more a business partner than a boss (and assassin guilds have been done to death, let’s face it). I was sorry to see Mat go, but I only killed him because I loved him so much.

If there was a hero of the book that you particular enjoyed (or didn’t), let’s talk about him or her.