It’s been a good week! I managed to get a plug in for science fiction romance at my day job this week. The Seattle Public Library blog Shelf Talk mostly talks about books (surprise!) My post this week, Romance, with a little rocket fuel, highlighted some recent SFR. I’ll be posting semi-regularly on romance, but I wanted to start off with a bit of a zing.
Back to our regularly scheduled Sunday Post on this blog.
We have a Winner! The winner of The Magic Touch Blog Hop last week was Trix. I’ve already contacted her and sent her the $10 Amazon Gift Card. I hope she gets something really wonderful (dare I say magical) to read.
There is still time to enter the giveaway this week for an autographed copy of John Marco’s The Forever Knight. This one is print, so it’s US/CAN shipping only.
And, there is still time to enter Gina L. Maxwell’s Seducing Cinderella/Rules of Entanglement swag pack giveaway AND her tourwidegiveaway of a Kindle Fire HD or $200 Amazon Gift Card.
Coming up this week, on Tuesday Lori Foster’s Bare It All tour will be stopping at Reading Reality. In addition to a review of the latest book in her Love Undercover series, I have a Q&A with Lori and a chance for one lucky commenter to win a copy of the book.
On Thursday, Robin Covington will be here for an interview, and readers will have a chance to win a copy of her new book, His Southern Temptation. (My review of that delicious story was posted on April 17)
Today I’d like to welcome author John Marco, who recently published the latest book in his Bronze Knight series, The Forever Knight. John also has the best online ID ever, “happynerdjohn” and he’s probably pretty happy right now, since Kirkus Reviews chose The Forever Knight as a TOP PICK for April. I’d have to agree (read my review here).
Marlene: John, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
John: Marlene, I’d like to start by thanking you for doing this interview with me and for agreeing to take part in my blog tour. I say this all the time, but I’ve met so many helpful book bloggers over the years who’ve been willing to take a chance and review my books even though they’ve never heard of me. The book blogging community has been wonderful, and I appreciate it.
It always feels a bit strange to talk about myself, but I’ll start by saying that I’m a writer, a husband, and a proud father of a great nine year-old boy. I pretty much always wanted to be a writer, and a fantasy writer in particular, because that’s what I grew up reading and loving. I spent more than enough time as a technical writer in various jobs, and now I am writing fiction full time again. Overall I think of myself as a very average guy who just happens to write stories.
Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
John: I’ve had friends along the way who have been very encouraging. Once you actually make the decision to become a writer and get published (or try to get published), it’s good to have people who believe in what you’re doing and support you. There’s always negative people around as well, but you have to ignore them. Those are usually the people who’ve never really accomplished anything in life anyway, so why listen to them? Once you decide to be a writer, you’ll have enough of your own doubts anyway.
Marlene: What is your favorite thing about the writing experience and why?
John: This is a difficult question to answer. I think most writers would say they have a number of “favorite” things about writing, and find it tough to select just one. I love creating worlds and characters, and I’ve always had a need to tell stories. I’m not sure why that is. It just feels like something I was born to do.
Besides that, I love the intimacy of writing. I’m a real introvert, which means that I like to be alone with my own thoughts and I’m comfortable in my own head. Writing gives me the chance to embrace that part of me, to be by myself and be in control. I like being my own boss, in a sense.
Marlene: In The Forever Knight, you changed from third-person narrative to first-person. In general, do you try to experiment with writing style intentionally, or do you find that it just evolves over time?
John: Both. Yes, definitely both. I have always wanted to do different things, to grow and stretch and test myself as a writer. For one thing, I’m very easily bored. I find it surprising that so many writers are able to write in the same world with the same characters over and over and not try something different in between books. That’s never been for me. So trying to write a first person story was always in the cards for me.
On the other hand, there are changes in writing style that come without warning and aren’t by design. I have definitely felt myself “evolving” over the years. For one thing, I’m not as descriptive as I used to be. I used to write really long passages describing things like architecture and culture and dress, and now I do less of that. I just figure that a little goes a long way when it comes to that stuff, but when in my earlier books I really piled it on.
Marlene: Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
John: They do, yes. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s frustrating. I make a fairly detailed outlined each time I start a book, so I have a pretty good idea of what’s supposed to happen. But very often characters come to the forefront of the story in a way that’s unexpected. Sometimes they’re just stronger characters, and instead of taking a minor role they wind up with a much larger one. And sometimes there are characters in the books that aren’t even in the outline at all. That’s happened to me twice so far with fairly major characters.
Marlene: Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?
John: Yes, there will definitely be more books in the Bronze Knight series. I am contracted for two more at the moment, and have some ideas for the next one. Before I get to that, however, I will finish up the book I am writing right now. It’s called The Bloody Chorus, and it’s an epic fantasy novel, the first in a new series. I’m also slated to contribute a short story to an upcoming anthology of military fantasy stories. I’m particularly excited about that, because I love writing short stories and don’t get the chance to write them as often as I’d like.
Marlene: What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
John: Oh, so much. Publishing has changed a lot since I first started, and I’ve changed too. The first thing I learned was that publishing a book is only the beginning. I had thought that once I got my foot in the door it would be easy, but that’s really not the case at all. Some books do well, others not so well, and you have got to be ready and willing to weather the storms, because they always come eventually. And then there’s the technical aspects of writing that I’ve gotten better at over time. Again, when I first started I used to say that I was always willing to learn, but it was mostly lip service. I suppose I meant it, but I hadn’t really internalized that idea. It was just something that I would say, kind of like a cliché. Now, however, I’m eager to learn and grow as a writer. I see things that other writers do, and they don’t scare me anymore. I want to be as good as I can be, but I realize that the whole thing involves constant striving.
Marlene: What book would you most want to read again for the first time?
John: That’s a real book lovers question! A tough one to answer to be sure. I’ll say Demon by John Varley. It’s one of the first serious science fiction novels that I ever read, and it filled me with an almost indescribable sense of wonder. Not a lot of books do that for me any more. Maybe it’s because I’m so much older now, and wonder is such a rare thing when you’re older. I’d love to experience that feeling again.
Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask.
John: I wish I knew how to draw or paint. I wish I was an artist. If there was any other “art” form that I could participate in besides writing, that would be it. It was fantasy art that first drew me into the genre in the first place.
Marlene: Coffee or Tea?
John: I’ll have to say tea, because I don’t drink coffee at all and never have. It’s just one of those things that I never grew into. And to be honest I’m not nuts for tea either, unless it’s iced tea. I don’t even drink alchohol. Really, I drink like a big kid—soda, fruit drinks, Snapple, that sort of stuff.
About John MarcoJohn Marco is the author of several novels of epic fantasy, many of which have been translated into various languages throughout the world. His first book, The Jackal of Nar, was published in 1999 and won the Barnes and Noble Maiden Voyage Award for best first fantasy novel. John writes full time from his home in Kings Park, NY, a north shore Long Island suburb, where he lives with his wife Deborah and his young son Jack. Though most of his days are consumed with writing, John enjoys spending free time biking, visiting the beach, flying, and of course, reading good books.
Lukien is the Bronze Knight, beloved by his kingdom and renowned in battle throughout his world. After betraying his king and losing his beloved, he wishes only for death, but rather than die, Lukien is given a chance for redemption: to be the protector of the Inhumans—those fragile mortals who live deep in the desert, far from the prying eyes of their world. These remarkable individuals have been granted magical powers in exchange for the hardships and handicaps life has handed them. And Lukien, now immortal himself, must be their champion. But how can one man, even an immortal warrior, protect hundreds from a world of potential enemies?
Reboot and redemption, keywords for The Forever Knight.
Don’t let the fact that this is book 4 in the Bronze Knight series deter you from reading this book! Lukien, the Bronze Knight of the series, drops just enough hints about the past that he’s trying leave behind that unfamiliar readers seldom feel lost in the sands of time.
Not that what Lukien does reveal about his past doesn’t sound plenty interesting, because it does. I’d like to go back sometime and learn more. But he does tell readers enough so that I felt teased but not befuddled.
Lukien has fought someone or something (or lots of both) for all of his life. He brought peace to the kingdom of Jador, but at a high price. Cassandra, the love of his life, died along the way. He hopes that someday, he’ll join her in the land of the dead. But not for a long, long time. Lukien is virtually immortal, his life sustained by the spirit in his sword, the Sword of Angels.
Jador is at peace, but it is an immutable law that warriors with nothing to fight tend to get restless. So the ruler of Jador sends Lukien out as a knight-errant. And Lukien, stubbornly refusing to listen to reason, takes the young girl Cricket as his squire on a dangerous journey to a place known as the Bitter Kingdoms.
Malator, the spirit of Lukien’s sword, knows that Lukien’s mission is a test. The mission is one that will teach Lukien about the being that he has become, but it leads through death. Kingdoms of death, monsters of death and battles with death and that lead to even more death.
Places generally are not given names like “Bitter Kingdoms” without reason.
Lukien is not ready to face who he has become. He is a leader who will change the face of the world. No one, and nothing can be allowed to stand in his way.
But he is also doomed to walk alone. A lesson he will have to learn over and over again.
Escape Rating A-:The Forever Knight is Lukien’s journey. We see all the action from inside Lukien’s head, and it’s a pretty bleak place to be. Lukien is not, as the phrase goes, a “happy camper”. I don’t think that state of being exists in his world view.
Lukien is a man looking for a mission. He’s immortal and he needs something to fill his time. Lots of time. The spirit of the sword, Malator, has a mission for him, but Malator seems to be the king of “I’ve got the secrets”. Malator only speaks in riddles. Lukien wants everything clearly laid out. They argue. A lot.
The person who gets caught in the middle is Cricket. She’s restless in Jador because she can’t remember her life before she became a refugee. She’s attached herself to Lukien and doesn’t relate well to others. They are both outsiders. He brings her along on his knight-errantry as an act of kindness, but also so he won’t be lonely on the trip. She’s his light in the darkness. Of course, that light gets snuffed out.
This is a transformation story. Lukien has to change to be ready for the next phase of his journey. Poor Cricket is part of the price of that change. Damn it.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
In case you’ve missed it, we’re Star Trek fans. If you are, and you missed the showing of the Star Trek TNG episode The Best of Both Worlds on the big screen this week, you missed a real treat. Not just because the remastered edition is awesome (and a terrific commercial for the Blu-Ray edition damn it!) but because it was great to be in a theater full of fans. Trek can still fill a theater. The original canonTrek can still fill a theater. <insert raspberry here> Which doesn’t mean I didn’t like the reboot and that I’m not going to see Star Trek Into Darkness.
The reboot is fun, but it isn’t quite my Star Trek.
Getting down off my soap box and moving on to the blog, there is still time to enter the Magic Touch Blog Hop. Lots of people are saying that the magic touch they would most like to have is the power to heal. I’m still thinking of Suzanne Selfors book, The Sweetest Spell. I want the power of CHOCOLATE! With enough chocolate, you can heal pretty much anything.
There is also a bit of time to get in on the giveaway for 4 $25 Amazon gift cards from Elise Sax in celebration of her hilarious new romantic suspense story, An Affair to Dismember. Her guest post about a day in the life of her heroine is a laugh out loud read!
And finally, Jenny Davidson is giving away a copy of her fascinating look at immersion in games, and the difference between playing and role-playing, The Magic Circle. This one haunts.
I have two guests this week! Speaking of reboots, on Monday, John Marco will be here to talk about the reboot of his Bronze Knight series, an absolutely awesome epic fantasy series. Since his reboot is starting with The Forever Knight, I’ll also have a review of that book and John will be giving away a signed copy of the book.
On Thursday taking a completely different tack, I’ll be reviewing Rules of Entanglement, the second book in Gina L. Maxwell’s Fighting for Love series, after the tremendously fun Seducing Cinderella (reviewed at Book Lovers Inc.) I’ll also have a guest post from Gina and she’ll be giving away a copy of Rules to one lucky winner.