Book Review: The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

I absolutely adored this. Magical realism at its finest! And even though it wasn’t exactly what I had expected, I can’t really say that I minded. Otherwise, as a character so deftly put it in this book, I would be like “a man who complains that someone stole the eggs from his henhouse and replaced them with rubies.”

This fantasy novel is also a touching and meaningful immigrant tale at its heart, combining religion and mythology to tell a story of two supernatural creatures who find themselves in New York City in 1899. Chava is a magically-crafted clay golem, brought to life to serve a husband who dies at sea while on the voyage from Poland. When the ship reaches NYC, she is left directionless and without a master. Ahmad is a jinni, released accidentally after being trapped in a copper flask for hundreds of years. Though freed from the vessel, he finds himself still bound to the physical world by a band of iron around his wrist, placed there by the wizard who imprisoned him so long ago.

The story plays out like a fairy tale for adults, complete with elements like love and villains. It is filled with wonderful, fully-realized characters which hooked me from the start. The multiple narratives paint an enchanting picture of the bustling and culturally rich setting of turn-of-the-century New York, where immigrants from so many places around the world settled in the hopes of finding a better life. In this milieu, the golem and the jinni become two more faces in the crowd trying to seek a new beginning in America. Despite being creatures of lore, their struggles and aspirations make them feel entirely too human.

Both the golem and the jinni face questions and obstacles that deal with the notion of freedom versus subjugation; how the two characters approach these issues and choose to deal with them is what forms the basis for this story and makes it so interesting. In this novel, everyone you meet will guard their secrets and hold mysteries in their past. As you read on, the fun is in watching all these histories unfold and the connections start to form.

Just simply a beautiful book, and a great choice if you’re in the mood for some literary fantasy.

4.5 of 5 stars

Audiobook Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This is the third Neil Gaiman book I’ve read and I’ve noticed a trend:

An average, unmemorable male protagonist with slightly/over-controlling girlfriend/recently turned fiancé crosses paths with an unusual human that turns out to be magical and leads the protagonist into a whole new world of magic that has always been there for those willing to see it. Apparently, this is such a common occurrence for Gaiman’s characters, that he’s even written instructions on what to do in such an occasion in A Wolf at the Door: And Other Retold Fairy Tales. Unfortunately, Richard, in this case, has never read those instructions, and, as with the other characters I’ve met in the other books, spends a frustratingly large amount of time in disbelief of the world unfolding around him. This reminded of Alif the Unseen, where the main character, an avid fantasy reader, stumbles into the same situation. The creature in question notes that North Americans in particular love science fiction and fantasy stories, but are the least likely to believe when presented with the reality of them.

In Neverwhere, Richard’s life is significantly altered when he stops to help a wounded girl. She is the Lady Door and she’s being hunted by some very dangerous men. She leads Richard to the London beneath where the people who slip through the cracks reside. Don’t be so quick to discount the street people wrapped in blankets, the story seems to say. All sorts of knowledge and magic could be wrapped up within their filthy coats and blankets.

Once Richard is forced from his dull life, the adventure becomes fairly typical and Richard works his way through various gauntlets to prove himself a hero in the end and change his perspective on life and on himself. Again, this is a similar theme in the other Gaiman books, however, each one does it in a unique way with very memorable supporting characters so, while the process might be similar, the journey is still fun and interesting each time.

This was an audiobook listen, and I was pleased to discover that it was narrated by Gaiman himself. Since beginning my foray into the wonderful world of audiobooks, I’ve wondered how much the narrators deal with the authors (not much or at all, it seems). Do they get the pronunciations right? Have they captured the author’s intent with the various characters and situations? For the most part, the answer seems to be yes to the latter, at least, but with Gaiman reading his own works, the answer is absolute

3 of 5 stars

Mogsy’s Book Haul

Added a few more books to both my physical and digital library since my last book haul update! First, the mailbox pile:

Ex-Communication was a book I received from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers, which I was very excited about! I very much enjoyed the two books that came before and just love this fun and action-filled series about superheroes and zombies. 

Generation V was a review request, and my thanks to the author M.L. Brennan who kindly sent me a copy of her very awesome and original urban fantasy novel. Both Ex-Communication and Generation V were great! I think I devoured both these books within days after they arrived, so be sure to keep an eye out for the reviews in the coming weeks.

Atria Books also just had one of their Galley Alleys which was how I got sent a copy of Dragon’s Child, the first book of M.K. Hume’s The King Arthur trilogy. Originally published in 2009, the Atria paperback and ebook edition will be available later this year in the fall. It looks interesting, so I’ll probably get to it closer to the release.

Finally, I won an Amazon gift certificate last month for a review I wrote on Worlds Without End, so naturally, it went towards buying — what else — more books. That’s how I got Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. I probably could have waited until later when I’ve whittled my summer reading list down some more to pick this up, but it just looked really good. I suppose I wanted it on hand in case the urge to pick it up and read it becomes overwhelming.

On to the digital pile:

I told myself I would try damn hard to hold myself back from requesting any more eARCs from NetGalley until I catch up a bit on my reading list, and so far I’ve been doing really well. Of course, it’s also a new month now, so we’ll see how that goes. On the other hand, I did get a few new ebook additions, and the two above are a couple of the highlights.

I was practically beside myself with happiness when I received Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan. It’s not due for wider release until next year, but people who backed the Kickstarter campaign were able to get it first. Much respect to Mr. Sullivan, as the book was sent to readers in July like he originally promised, with only an hour to spare. I have to say it was a great way to end day, though, seeing that in my inbox.

And lastly, The Red Knight was a book that caught my eye when it was a Kindle SFF daily deal, and it seemed like a few of my friends on Goodreads had rated and reviewed it quite highly. For $1.99, I couldn’t pass it up, and from the description it looks like something I’d love to read.

Books in the cloud

I discovered a new toy today and have been making clouds of all the things! Here is the cloud of words commonly used here at Bibliosanctum. Looks like we’re doin’ it right! We hope you like read more, too. 😉

Book Review: The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Yeah, my summer reading is in a funny cycle right now, and my current bender has been focused on The Walking Dead.

Anyhow, I pretty much have to cut this whole review for major spoilers, and it’s a little hard to talk about the story without talking about the biggest spoiler of them all in this book. So, I’ll just use this little quote from the book as a spoiler warning and for spoiler space:

As they drive off, each and every one of them–even Penny–glances back through the rear window at the little square sign receding into the distance behind them:

ALL DEAD
DO NOT ENTER

Read More

August Book Club Read: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

From this list of recommended summer reads, members of the LeVar’s Rainbow Book Club selected Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane for August.

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Book Review: The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Yeah, my summer reading is in a funny cycle right now, and my current bender has been focused on The Walking Dead.

Anyhow, I pretty much have to cut this whole review for major spoilers, and it’s a little hard to talk about the story without talking about the biggest spoiler of them all in this book. So, I’ll just use this little quote from the book as a spoiler warning and for spoiler space:

As they drive off, each and every one of them–even Penny–glances back through the rear window at the little square sign receding into the distance behind them: 

ALL DEAD 
DO NOT ENTER 


Rise of the Governor is the first book in a trilogy that sets the foundation for Philip Blake’s reign as “governor” of Woodbury. The story begins with two brothers, Philip and Brian Blake, and Philip’s daughter, Penny. The brothers, Penny, and two of Philip’s friends, Bobby Marsh and Nick Parsons are hiding out from walkers in the affluent neighborhood Whiltshire Estates. The decision to hide in the neighborhood seemed the best idea at the time, but the gated community had been ravished hard and fast by the outbreak. They try to stick it out and fortify their position at Philip’s demand, but after a zombie kills one of Philip’s friends, they finally decide that it’s time to cut their losses and move on to Atlanta where they receive the Rick Grimes zombie horde welcome, which eventually leads to their departure and taking up residence in Woodbury.

Much of this book is told from the point-of-view of the brothers, and they couldn’t be more different if they tried. Brian is the oldest, but he’s frail and a bit sickly. Before the outbreak, he’d been living with their parents mourning another failed business venture and the loss of his Jamaican wife (seriously). He admires his brother’s toughness and dominance even though Philip is younger, but I didn’t really feel like Brian wanted to be an alpha male more than he wanted to be seen as someone who contributed something to their survival.

On the other hand, Philip is blessed with all the “good genes.” He’s tall and intimidating. He’s a manly man tempered with a little softness thanks to his daughter. He looks out for his brother, but think Brian is pretty useless. The only thing Philip really trusts Brian to do is look after his daughter, who is beginning to pull further and further into herself, during attacks. After the death of his wife, Philip’s main concern became Penny and doing whatever he needed to do in order to make sure she had everything she needed. He takes charge of their group, often making decision without much input from them (or still outright ignoring their suggestions). He has the presence of a leader, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the various leader types shown in the comic, on the show, and in this book, people are going to lean on the leader with an almost blind loyalty because of the high stress situation.

One of the enduring themes I’ve noticed with Kirkman and his leader-types is that many accept or put themselves in these positions, and eventually, the stress seems to work them over double time, as it should. It’s not an easy task to try to ensure the surivival of a group of people or make most of the decisions that could potentially get them killed. You have zombies to worry about, but you also have the pressure of everyone looking to you for answers, support, etc. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting, and the leaders suffer so much more for it. Some of them still try to rise above that. They try to adapt this new harder stance they have to take while still maintaining some sort of decency and fairness. However, some take the other road and decide that you have to be a monster to survive the monsters. Philip falls in this latter group.

We watch Philip tread further and further down away from his own humanity while reasoning he’s doing these things for his daughter’s safety. After his daughter’s death and return as a walker, he becomes downright vicious and insane. None of the these things are surprising. This is the Governor after all, and we know that he employs some brutal methods. At times, though, some of his behavior makes you wonder how he comes back from that insanity at all to be able to put up the facade of the Governor.

Answer: He doesn’t.

Philip Blake is not the Governor. Philip eventually forces the hand of his friend, Nick, who fatally shoots him. In turn, Brian murders Nick and holds his dying brother in his arms. Assuming the identity of his brother, Brian takes over the town of Woodbury from its current governor and begins preparations to take the town back from the walkers.

While I liked the little twist at the end, it’s also one of my chief complaints. Brian’s decision to take on his brother’s name at the end of the story didn’t really seem like the thing he’d do. The two brothers didn’t seem particularly close, even as they survived through that horror together. Brian sought Phillip’s approval, obviously, but beyond that I don’t really feel like Brian wanted whatever alpha male presence his brother possessed.

Maybe this is Brian’s way of dealing with the loss of his family. Maybe this broke him in some ways, even though he sees his actions following the death of his brother as sensible and strong, and there were a few instances in the book where he’d thought about wanting to do the “manly” things Phillip and his friends had done. He also mentioned early in the novel that his brother was changing for the worst and this change reverberated through him. Also, the book makes it a point that Brian is out of place in the world and doesn’t really know his calling. Apparently, the outbreak showed him his place in the world. So, I’m trying to look at it in that vein.

I had some other minor annoyances with the book. There were parts that I wished were fleshed out more, and there were some things that I felt were just unnecessary. While this is a decent foundational read even for those who aren’t familiar with the show or comics, readers jumping in from this point may find the world building lacking in some ways. Overall, however, I enjoyed this more than the comics. Also, I really appreciated this look at how the Governor came into power.

Final Verdict:
3.5 of 5 stars


Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

The book is called A Wizard of Earthsea and that’s exactly what it is about, no more and no less. It introduces Duny, a young boy who displays power that leads him to study with a local witch, draws the attention of a great mage, and then proceeds on to study to be a true wizard, but not before awakening a dark evil that will haunt him for many years.

This is the first book in Le Guin’s Earthsea saga. I’ve read other books that serve as an introduction to a main character and their world, but some of them have tried too hard to throw in extra details and events and characters to build that character and world. Le Guin skillfully weaves Duny’s life through a series of important moments and people in under 200 pages. I try to use the word “pithy” at least once a week, and it definitely suits the way Le Guin tells Duny’s story. Every character and plot device has a purpose in shaping the boy who will become one of the greatest mages known.

The dialogue is a bit unusual, but it works for the flow of the story. In fact, “flow” is another word I willuse to describe the book because everything moves smoothly, like a river flowing out to sea. Perhaps the title and the many journeys that Duny takes by boat have influenced that feeling, but that’s exactly what I imagined as I read through it. There were quiet, slow moving moments, like his time with the mage Ogion, or the more rushing moments of his battles with dragons and shadows. But everything stayed the course.

Duny himself is an interesting character. He begins as a typical young teenager full of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, but we also see his strong sense of pride develop as his knowledge increases and we see the horrible results of that pride and how it all is integral to the wizard he’s meant to become.

A lot of fantasy books that exist within their own unique worlds preface with a map. This book doesn’t need one. There are a lot of places mentioned and visited in Duny’s travels, but I felt like I could create the map myself based on how clearly and concisely Le Guin took us from place to place. I also love the way magic works, with so much power placed on words – on names specifically.

4 of 5 stars

Book Review: Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test by Mark D. White

Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test edited by Mark D. White

This is my first venture into the Philosophy and Pop Culture series. I wasn’t disappointed with most of what I’d read. I was a little hesitant to read this at first because I thought these essays might’ve been just slapped together to appeal to an audience, but it was much more than that.

The topics span a range of ideas in philosophical context including feminism, virtue, homosexuality. As with any book that has multiple writers, the essays themselves were hit or miss.I enjoyed most of the essays on Rorschach and Ozymandias. There was a great essay about The Comedian and Nite Owl. The essays centering around Mr. Manhattan were a little bland, though.

These essays posed great questions for discussion such as: Would superheroes work in a real life setting? Could we really trust them to be objective creatures who didn’t give into personal biases? Or would they be whim to changing the rules to suit them since no ordinary man could challenge them and win?

I probably would’ve given it 4 stars, but I deducted for a couple of reasons.

First, the guy who wrote about homosexuality in Watchmen seemed like a poor candidate to touch on the subject. His view was very biased as a man who admitted that he was “sickened” by homosexuality and nothing about his argument was compelling. But he did manage to come off like that one guy who can’t be racist because he has “black friends.” Just replace “black friends” with “gay friends,” and you have this guy. He tried to be objective, but it came off very forced.

Secondly, while I enjoyed the essays on Ozymandias and Rorschach–and not so much Dr. Manhattan, I wished it’d touched more on some of the other characters. Most of the book was dominated by those three with Rorschach being a character who had roused Kant in the writers. It would’ve been nice to read other ideas about the other characters and their actions beside what virtue Nite Owl’s potbelly represents and a rambling essay about feminism that seemed to lose the plot.

Overall, a nice collection of essays. If you like Kant, you’ll probably love this. He comes up fairly often. If you’re looking for a well-rounded book that pays equal tribute to the characters, then you’re not going to find it here.

Final Verdict:
3 of 5 stars

Interview with Jason M. Hough, Author of "The Darwin Elevator"

Hello all, today we have a very exciting interview with Jason M. Hough, author of the highly anticipated science fiction novel The Darwin Elevator, which comes out today!

Jason’s excellent debut features a thrilling adventure set in a savage world decimated by an alien plague. Survivors have found refuge in Darwin, Australia, where a massive space elevator has become humanity’s last hope. Be sure to check out out the book, available in bookstores now! Fellow co-blogger Wendy and I thoroughly enjoyed it (Mogsy’s review; Wendy’s review) and we hope you will too.

As a special treat, Jason and I opted for a more casual style for this interview, and we were able to have a nice chat about a great many things. Jason was kind enough to answer questions about his book, his experience with writing, NaNoWriMo, and thoughts on being an author. Couldn’t have been a nicer guy, and I had a lot of fun! So it is with great honor and pleasure that I present to you, The BiblioSanctum’s interview with Jason M. Hough, after the jump. Enjoy!


Mogsy: Good morning, Jason! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. If you can’t tell already, I’m really psyched to be talking to you right now. I have to say “The Darwin Elevator” was one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read this year and that it was an incredibly strong debut. I hope it’s okay to jump right into questions about it.

Jason M. Hough: Fire away!

The Darwin Elevator, available now

M: Great! Okay, you’ve probably been asked this a million times already, but I’ve been curious and dying to ask ever since I picked up the book: What made you choose Darwin as the setting?

J: The reason is kind of embarrassingly shallow. For a space elevator to work it needs to be near the equator. So with that in mind I was spinning around a globe trying to find a place that jumped out at me as interesting, and my eye was immediately drawn to Darwin because of the name.

“The Darwin Elevator” – the title just hit me instantly. I loved the extra connotation the name brings, so I set my sights on that place and started to research it. The more I learned, the more I loved it.

M: Speaking of research, did you have to do a lot for this book?

J: A fair amount. Mostly related to space elevator physics, which are generally pretty solid in the book (I fudged a few things), and Darwin itself. There was a bunch of other random things, but probably 90% went into those two areas.

I still don’t consider myself an expert in either topic. I’d say my research was enough to make me dangerous.

M: So have you ever been to Darwin? Or any plans to now? 😀

J: Never been! But I definitely want to go now. We’re waiting for the kids to get a bit older before we make a trek that far, but we’ll get there at some point.

M: Yeah, now you totally have to go! But while we’re on the topic of the technological aspects, those were some of the things I enjoyed most about the book. There’s the elevator, this huge structure stretching into the sky. Then there’s the world in crumbles, overrun with sub-humans. It’s a very rich setting. What were some of the things that inspired it?

J: Well, the space elevator is definitely something that captures the imagination. There’s been a number of times now where I’ve found myself explaining the concept to someone unfamiliar with it, and they all get the same wondrous look on their face.

At some point early on I was looking for a way to force humanity to use the thing, rather than it just being there for them to ogle. That sparked the idea for the disease, and I think it really worked out well. The combination of these two worlds tied together by a strand really appealed to me.

M: How about the characters? Can you give us some insights into your main protagonist Skyler? What went into developing his character?

J: Skyler is a character I came up with about ten years ago, originally for a different story.  Like many characters in the book, he’s inspired by different facets of people I know.

As I started to come around to the idea of trapping humanity around the base of the Elevator, the idea that there should be some small subset that can go out and scavenge came to me. A pilot makes perfect sense for that role, and once I started to think through that more he quickly became the main character.

M: Is science fiction your favorite genre? What about it draws you in?

J: I don’t really play favorites with genre, it’s just one of the many that I enjoy. I think I read science fiction and fantasy in almost equal proportion, along with espionage thrillers, horror, non-fiction, and random other things.

What draws me in about sci-fi – Often it’s simply the “what if?” scenarios, or the examinations of where technology will take us. Beyond that, it’s mostly just the fantastic stories that take place in a world different from, but clearly connected, to ours (as opposed to fantasy).

M: As you know, I was really excited when I found out that “The Darwin Elevator” actually started out life as a project for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the event in November that challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel. If you don’t mind, I’m really interested in how all that came together for you, as it’s always fantastic to see NaNo success stories. First of all, what motivated you to participate?

J: Well, somewhere around 2003 I got it in my head that should write. Over the next four years I’d written a grand total of eight pages, because on the rare occasions I’d sit down to write I would spend all my time hemming and hawing over those pages.

By 2007 I’d about given up, but then I heard about NaNoWriMo and decided to give it a try. It sounded like the kick in the pants I needed. So I did it in 2007, finished with a complete 50,200 word novel, and I was hooked. The technique of writing TONS every day and then editing it into something decent later really worked for me.

But that novel was crap. It fell apart at the halfway mark and so the second half was terrible. In 2008 I went in with a solid idea and a very detailed outline for “DARWIN”, and after NaNo ended I just kept going. First NaNo: 2007 with a romantic comedy that I had no game plan for. 2008, “The Darwin Elevator”, with a solid outline. That’s how I learned I’m not a “pantser”.

M: What were some of your challenges you came across when it came to NaNoWriMo? And how did you overcome them?

J: Well, the biggest challenge is just to keep up. The daily word count is crazy. So in 2008 I kept this elaborate spreadsheet that tracked my progress. Each day I’d enter my total word count, and the spreadsheet would tell me how far ahead or behind I was. That made it much easier to stay on target.

I also started to burn out about halfway through the month, only to have my energy renewed by one of those inspirational emails they send out — one by Neil Gaiman. It really clicked for me and drove me to finish. These days I go at what’s basically a half-NaNo pace, about 800 words a day is my average.

Book 2, available Aug. 27, 2013

M: So “The Darwin Elevator” is part of the Dire Earth Trilogy. When you first started out writing it, did you have an idea that it was going to be a series already, or did the ideas grow from that first book?

J: I really only knew that it would be more than one book. But beyond book one, all I had was the overall conclusion to the mystery of what the aliens in the story are up to. How many books it would take to get there, and what would happen along the way, I had only a few vague ideas.

When the book went out on submission to publishers, I was terrified that they’d all come back and want to see a detailed plan for the series. To my surprise, for the most part they didn’t even ask. Not where it was going, not how many books it would be, nothing. It was more like “Hey, this is great. We’d like three books.”

It worked out in the end, though, because I was able to collaborate very closely with my editor on books 2 and 3, and get his thumbs-up on the outline before I started writing. Given the breakneck schedule, that was important for me.

M: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

J: Well, the first thing I’d remind aspiring writers is that when it comes to writing advice, repeat this mantra: “There’s no rules, only tools.” Take any writing advice with a grain of salt. Be willing to try stuff suggested to you (like outlining versus pantsing), but also have the confidence to know when something doesn’t work for you. Even if your favorite author of all time does it doesn’t mean it has to be the way you do it.

Bearing that in mind, one thing that’s helped me but I’ve never heard given as advice is this: listen to audiobooks.

M: Wow! Can you go more into that? All my co-reviewers and I on the blog love audiobooks. That definitely is new but interesting advice.

J: I really think audiobooks have made me a better writer. There’s something about hearing the words spoken aloud, by talented narrators, that really makes the language come alive.

The big difference between audiobooks and print, for me, is that you can’t skim. It’s natural when you hit a big paragraph to skip down to the next bit of dialog or action. But in an audiobook you really have no choice but to get swept into the entire text. For me I think it’s really helped me pace my action scenes, and know when I’m rambling on about something.

In other words, I think it just helps you to hear your own writing in your head, and compels you to make it sound good. They always say you should read your own stuff aloud to help spot awkward phrasings, and I think the more you can do that internally as you write, the better.

M: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background? Growing up, did you ever see yourself becoming a writer?

J: Well, I’ve always had a creative itch. When I was a kid I was always sketching. I did take a stab at writing when I was in junior high (in fact I just did a “Dear Readers” post on SUVUDU about that), but my passion back then was really art. Specifically 3D modeling and animation, which I put all my energy into and eventually landed a job at a game studio.

Eventually I started doing game design, which covers a lot of skills including world-building, character development, and story aspects. Write the word baccarat on my Facebook page the day this interview goes live and I’ll pick someone at random for a signed copy of the book. When I left that for a more stable job, my life had a creative void, and I decided to try writing again. My reasoning was it was something I could do entirely on my own, which appealed to me after a decade of doing big projects with a large team.

M: What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do to wind down/relax when you’re not writing?

J: For a long time writing was my hobby, and I guess I haven’t had a chance to replace it with something else yet. These days…”Relax” isn’t in my vocabulary! While writing these books my wife and I also welcomed two babies into our family, and so virtually all my time when I’m not writing is devoted to them.

Once the kids are in school I hope to get into something like building replica movie props, and also go back and play through all the games I’ve missed in the last few years.

M: Grats! That sounds busy. How do you feel now balancing family, life, etc. with writing?

J: It may sound clichéd to say these books wouldn’t have been possible without my wife’s support, but that’s the truth. She lets me escape the house every morning before dawn so I can go write before the kids wake up. I’d get my writing in from 5am to 7am, then go to work, then home by 4:30 or so to take over with the kids.

It’s fine now because I’m writing full time, but for a few years there it was rough. My wife’s a trooper.

M: That’s fantastic! And about writing full time, I know before we talked about how as readers, the authors we love are celebrities in our eyes. How does it feel now as a published author to be on the other side of that? 🙂

J: It’s really weird. Last year I met my editor for the first time at ComicCon. I remember I was walking up to the Del Rey booth, and before I could get there this stranger steps in front of me and says something like, “I just wanted to say I loved your book”.

It was the first time someone I didn’t know had commented on the book, and it really freaked me out. Turned out it was the editor-in-chief at Del Rey.  But still… it’s a strange thing when your work is suddenly out there in the world. I thought publishing a bunch of games would prepare me for that, but those were all big team efforts. This feels much more personal.

Book 3, available Sept. 24, 2013

M: What are your future plans or projects?

J: Right now I’m just enjoying doing interviews like this, and writing some short stories that help flesh out the backstory of “The Darwin Elevator”. One of those is up on Tor.com, by the way. Beyond that, I’ve got a fantasy idea I’ve been itching to write for a few years now, so I’ll probably start on that until I know if Del Rey wants more Dire Earth books.

M: Ooh, so there is a possibility we’ll see more Dire Earth books? 😀

J: I hope so! I’ve got plans for more, but sales will dictate what happens and I think it takes about six months to know one way or the other. So, until then I’m going to work on new ideas and keep my fingers crossed.

M: Keeping my fingers crossed too! It really is an exciting trilogy. Thanks so much for talking with me today, this has been fun!

J: No worries at all, and you were great. It’s been a lot of fun chatting with you.