Interview with Joseph D'Lacey

A little while ago, I reviewed the books Black Feathers and The Book of the Crowman. They were excellent books, and the author, Joseph D’Lacey, was kind enough to take time out of his schedule and answer some questions for us. Yay!

1. The Black Feathers Duology is quite unique in its premise and themes. How did you develop it?

I’m fortunate in that ideas seem to happen to me regularly and naturally without me having to do anything. If they’re good ideas, they hang around and bump into other ideas, getting bigger and heavier. Eventually, if I can’t ignore a subject any longer, I start working – that’s the point when I happen to the idea.
Quite honestly, most of the ‘development’ happen as I write, with many notions arising spontaneously. It’s haphazard but it works for me.

2. How long did it take you to write the books?

I wrote both books as a single novel, initially. I never expected to see it split up, even though a psychic friend told me back in 2010 that that’s what would happen. The first draft took seven months and the initial editing another four.

3. I understand that you normally write horror. What made you decide to write a fantasy? Do you see Black Feathers as a fantasy?

I’m known as a horror writer because that’s how I got my break – with MEAT in 2008. But I write all kinds of things. I love humour as much as horror and there are often strong elements of SF and Fantasy in my stories.
Writing The Black Dawn wasn’t a decision to change genre, it was simply the next thing I needed to write. But, yes, I see it as either a dark or apocalyptic fantasy.

4. Let’s talk about the themes in the book for a moment. Did you actively decide to include the religious parallels, or did that happen organically? What about the technology vs nature conflict? How did that come about?

I’m fascinated by spirituality and sacrificial figureheads. I think it’s visible even in my earliest work. In The Black Dawn, I wanted to chronicle the life of a martyr from birth to death whilst exploring our broken relationship with the land that supports us. The themes worked together very naturally and I still contemplate them daily.

5. Do the book’s themes about nature, technology, and people reflect your personal views?

They reflect my concerns and I investigated those concerns as deeply as I could within the fiction at the time. Actually, I don’t feel the ‘conclusion’ I reach at the end of The Book of the Crowman is conclusive enough. I may need to write a third book to reconcile everything!

6. I was sad about Gordon’s ending, but at the same time not surprised. It seemed like the perfect ending for his character (as sad as it was), given the parallels in the book. Did you always know that was what would happen to him?

I knew his birth and I knew his ‘death’. All I had to do was take him on a journey from one to the other.
But, of course, there is no death; only a change of worlds…

6. What happened to Megan?

I think it’s more a question of what will happen to Megan. 🙂

7. Will you write more fantasy now?

I’ll probably keep doing what I’ve always done, which is to please myself before I think of anyone else! That said, I love the imaginative opportunities fantasy offers and the epic possibilities it lends to central characters, so the short answer is ‘yes’.

8. We have a few writers in our audience (and here at ICoS). Can you describe your writing process? Do you have any advice for beginner writers?

Having taught writing at various levels, I’ve learned that every writer is different and that they progress through many phases of development. There’s no single piece of advice that works for everyone.
I’ve spent many years flogging myself in a variety of ways in order to achieve results. I think, on some deep level, I must have believed that suffering was essential in order to write well. Nowadays, I’m not so sure. I want to be happy and I want to enjoy my life. Because so much of my life is about stories, I’m doing everything I can now to make the actual process of writing pleasurable. After all, if you’re not getting happier as you get older, something’s wrong.
Out of all of this, though, there are a few things that might be of use:

  • write in the knowledge that you will make mistakes and let yourself make a ton of them.
  • try every method you can find and quickly discard what doesn’t help.
  • don’t let other people tell you there’s a single, foolproof method. It’s bullshit.
  • that being the case, be true to yourself and find your own way. Because your own way is the only one that will sustain you.
  • consider what success really means and define it in your own terms.

9. What projects do you currently have in the pipeline?

I’m writing a series of children’s books for 5-7 year-olds and a psychological thriller screenplay. When that’s done, I plan to write a new novel; very likely a fantasy.

10. Out of curiousity (and to pad my own reading list), what books are in your Kindle (or on your bookshelf)?

Since September last year, my genre reading has been, exclusively, horror or dark fiction by women. This is a result of my ignorance becoming very public in a Halloween article I wrote for The Guardian.
Best by far, to date, is HOME by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone. Go and get a copy immediately if you enjoy dark, challenging fiction. I have many more female authors on my TBR pile and hope to interview some of them in my new TV slot – ‘The Vault’ on The Book Show.
You can see a list here.

11. Because this is In Case of Survival and we like the apocalypse, I have to ask: What does your apocalypse look like? (Personally, I favor an evil space monkey apocalypse, but realistically I think we as a species will find a way to destroy ourselves without interstellar help.)

Yes, our overlords are doing such a superb job of killing us and our planet, it appears their nefarious schemes are far more inventive than any fiction I could create! In the meantime, what can I do but take each day as it comes?

About Joseph D’Lacey

JDL_bio_pic_20.08.12Joseph D’Lacey writes Horror, SF & Fantasy, often with environmental themes, and is best known for his shocking eco-horror novel Meat. The book has been widely translated and prompted Stephen King to say “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!”.
His other published works to-date include Garbage Man, Snake Eyes, The Kill Crew, The Failing Flesh, Blood Fugue, Black Feathers, The Book of the Crowman and Splinters – a collection of short stories. He won the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer in 2009.
He enjoys being outdoors, eating vegetarian food and was recently adopted by two cats.
 

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Book review: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

the mirror empire coverThe Mirror Empire
Author: Kameron Hurley
Series: Worldbreaker Saga (book 1)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: September 2, 2014 (North America); September 4, 2014 (UK)
Note: This book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

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Book review: Some Fine Day by Kat Ross

some fine day coverSome Fine Day
Author: Kat Ross
Genre: YA SF
Publisher: Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot
Release Date: July 1, 2014 (North America and digital); Jul 3, 2014 (UK)
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She’s smart and deadly and knows three things with absolute certainty.
She knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.
She knows that the only species to thrive there are the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.
Most of all, she knows there’s no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.
Jansin has been lied to. On all counts. Faced with the truth in the form of a charismatic young survivor named Will, Jansin vows that her former masters will regret making her what she is…

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Book review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel

the buried life coverThe Buried Life
Author: Carrie Patel
Genre: Dystopian, SF
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: July 29, 2014 (North America), August 7, 2014 (UK)
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.
When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

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Book review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

kiss of deception coverThe Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Holt/Macmillan Children’s
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. In The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

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My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces (by Evonne Tsang)

On a whim I picked up a graphic novel from the 80% off shelf at Comicopia with low expectations and a piqued curiosity for something apocalyptic (as always). One of the books I grabbed was My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang. This is one in a series of books about girls who love boys lacking some of the qualifications to make them human. Most of these boys are also deadly dangerous and in the case of I love Him to Pieces, deadly contagious. Le Sigh. Dumb bitches live for love.
In I Love Him to Pieces Dicey is a Jock (the only girl on the school baseball team) and Jack Chen (always referred to using his full name) is a nerd. They’re paired up together on a project to raise an egg for health class and end up getting along swimmingly. Jack Chen is awkward and doesn’t have many friends in school. He’s an only child and his parents are always away on business because they’re both scientists. Dicey on the other hand, is popular with a super close relationship with her widowed father and young brother.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because that what the books is about mostly. Page after page of a cutesy, high school relationship in its budding stages. It was well crafted and well drawn and well… if you’re looking for a zombie tale, it’s well boring.
So, against all odds (expect not really at all), Dicey and Jack decide to be a couple and go on a corny date during the school day. They ditch school and take the bus to a park where they hear police and stuff going places… Finally, the zombies!?
Psych, this is where we spend time chatting with their parents and being lame as shit.
So I won’t spoil it but this is like three quarters into the book so it’s not exactly a riveting tale of survival and mayhem.

Final Thoughts on My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces [SPOILERS]

  1. I get why this was 80% off. It’s nothing that would call for high demand. A very ordinary tale on both the romance and zombie fronts.
  2. Jack Chen’s parent’s know exactly what caused the zombie outbreak, and how to cure it and it’s totally a non-issue and all the fucks can go back in the box because there was no need to give them.
  3. The characters are kind of stick figures (not because of the art, which is good) in that they’re just very basic outlines of individuals. Jock and Nerd. Jock carries bat all the time, Nerd knows everything about all the things.
  4. This isn’t a BAD book per se. It’s just not a good book or graphic novel or story… I think a middle school girl might like it. It has that simplistic story telling and happy-go-lucky outlook that’s just not realistic for those of us well versed in the apocalyptic fiction.
  5. For 80% off, I Love Him to Pieces was worth a read. It was easy and light and good looking.

Free Comic Book Day 2014: IMAGE Comics

Gasp! Not only will there be free comics on Free Comic Book Day but Image Comics  is using this wonderful geek holiday to allow even more newbies entry into the wonderful world of comics and stories with pictures.  Image Comics is launching $1 first edition first issues!
Comics are an investment and people want to know if there worth the price of a mediocre sandwich or nah. This way you can get a variety of stories from Sex Criminals to Lazarus to try and, maybe, like.
Check out the list of Image firsts below:

ALEX + ADA #1
A sci-fi drama set in the near future and perfect for fans of the TV show Fringe and the Spike Jonze film Her. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But when Ada is dropped into his life, will Alex keep her? Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148356.
BLACK SCIENCE #1
Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: he has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos. Now Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long-forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms. The only way is forward. The only question is how far are they willing to go, and how much can they endure, to get home again? Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148357.
DEADLY CLASS #1
Welcome to the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical, nor is your fellow classmates’ poison. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148358.
EAST OF WEST #1
He has been called Abaddon. The Reaper. Fool’s Bane. The Grey Walker. You speak his name in hushed tones, if at all. You fear him and all he represents. He is the ultimate state of all things. He is Death. But, in the past, Death found peace. For his betrayal, the rest of the Four Horsemen snatched happiness away from him forever. Now, Death rides with Crow and Wolf in search of those who wronged him. We would tell you to pray, but it wouldn’t do any good. You have earned what is coming to you. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148359.
LAZARUS #1
In a dystopian near-future, government is a quaint concept, resources are coveted, and possession is 100% of the law. A handful of Families rule, jealously guarding what they have and exploiting the Waste who struggle to survive in their domains. Forever Carlyle defends her family’s holdings through deception and force as their protector, their Lazarus. Shot dead defending the family home, Forever’s day goes downhill from there… Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148360.
MANIFEST DESTINY #1
In 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the uncharted American frontier. This is the story of what they discovered lurking in the wilds… Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148361.
PRETTY DEADLY #1
Sandman meets Preacher in PRETTY DEADLY, where Death’s daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. Her tale of retribution is as beautifully lush as it is unflinchingly savage. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148362.
SEX CRIMINALS #1
Suzie’s a normal girl with an extraordinary ability: when she has sex, she stops time. One night she meets Jon… who has the same gift. And so they do what any other sex-having, time-stopping, couple would do: they rob banks. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148363.
VELVET #1
When the world’s best secret agent is killed, Velvet Templeton, the Personal Assistant to the Director of the Agency, is drawn off her desk and back into the field for the first time in nearly 20 years… and is immediately caught in a web of mystery, murder and high-octane action. Sexy and provocative, VELVET is a dark twist on the spy genre. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148364.
ZERO #1
Edward Zero is the perfect execution machine—a spy who breaks the rules to get things done. When a stolen device appears in the center of a long-running conflict, Zero comes to retrieve it. The problem is, the device is inside a living, breathing, bio-modified terrorist and there’s an entire army after it. Image Firsts edition available with Diamond code FEB148365.

 

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Book review: Last God Standing by Michael Boatman

LastGodStanding-144dpiLast God Standing
Author: Michael Boatman
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: March 2014 (US/Canada/ebook); April 2014 (UK)
Blurb:

Creator. Supreme being. Stand-up comic…?!
When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.
Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.
Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.
How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
The Ultimate in Divine Comedy…

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PAX East 2014 | Organic Panic


1978876_224701924385529_1851087260_nOrganic Panic
is a  puzzle-platformer about a Protein vs Produce apocalypse. Technically the protein (Meats and Cheeses) have already won and the Produce are living in fear while they’re hunted for sport.

LastLimb, created by brother David and Anatole Branch, funded Organic Panic through a kickstarter campaign and got greenlit on Steam Greenlight. Obviously this game makes a good impression.

But what was it like to play Organic Panic in real life?

Kae and I played Organic Panic at PAX East and got a copy of the comic which details the story. We used XBox 360 controllers on a PC build.983632_226653834190338_414048056255896916_n

  • Single player was fun and reminiscent of old-school platformers like Sonic The Hedgehog or Donkey Kong with a bit of a Super Meatboy twist.
  • Each character has special abilities (fueled by collecting magic stars) like the ability to shoot whatever material they’re in contact with, throw water, set things on fire, and telekinesis.1010122_224401007748954_746872795_n
  • Each ability comes out in the comic (Produce is magical and Protein is technological, duh), which explains how the Protein took over, what the Produce plans t do about it, and why there are all these portals around.
  • The levels weren’t exactly continuous stories (at least not what we played) as much as they were action based puzzles — which is totally normal for levels on platformers. Each level started with a different character so you couldn’t really choose your favorite and stick with it. The cherry with it’s shooting ability was really fun. But if you can only be one character per level, it means the characters aren’t all equal on all the levels. However, it makes sense if you read the comic and know that the old Apple is sending the fruits on missions through portals to support his master plan.1975125_224032251119163_885536456_n
  • In multiplayer, we were each given a character that had to work with the the other to solve our way to the door (end of the level).
  • Multiplayer levels were more like single-screen puzzles with each fruit on one side and the objective door some where visible but out of reach.10014643_225249220997466_1604416436_n
  • Playing with a friend in this way was fun and frustrating. If one player dies, you reset. And boy did we die a lot. You have to talk it out and point and shout and try and fail and finally, victory fist pump when you win.

Organic Panic was a fresh take on cute and campy platformers and post-apocalyptic resistance. It felt both familiar and unique with a solid psychics build and “fleshed out” characters. The game was easy enough to pick up and play though there were some place where you could run out of mana and then you were just stuck and had to restart the level. They’re short levels so it wasn’t a big deal.
Keep an eye out on Steam, because it’s coming soon.

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Review: The Book of the Crowman by Joseph D'Lacey

ThTheBookOfTheCrowman-144dpie Book of the Crowman
Series: The Black Dawn
Author: Joseph D’Lacey
Publisher: Angry Robot
Genre: Fantasy
Release date: March 2014
Blurb:

It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying.
It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.
The search for the shadowy figure known only as the Crowman continues, as the Green Men prepare to rise up against the forces of the Ward.
The world has been condemned. Only Gordon Black and The Crowman can redeem it.

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