Interview with Author T.K. Anthony

[Photo of T.K. Anthony]My very special guest today is author T.K. Anthony. Her amazing debut science fiction romance novel, Forge, is out now. (I finished it in one gulp and reviewed it here. Trying to write the review without revealing the name of the main character (see below) was difficult, but worth it)

Marlene: T.K., can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?

T.K.: Marlene—thank you for having me! My eldest sister (the MaryBeth in Forge’s dedication) is a librarian, too. I have a huge respect for the keepers of the keys to the knowledge kingdom. And I am awed by your ability to cater to four cats. I have two co-owners, and I know the saying “Dogs have masters, cats have staff” is no joke. I’m looking forward to spending time with you and your readers.

Family is important to me. I come from a large family; my husband’s family is even larger. So we spend quite a bit of time visiting relatives. This summer was a madhouse of weddings, reunions, picnics…and, sadly, two funerals…in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, and Ohio. When I’m not writing, or on the road (or both) I’m reading, doing crosswords or sudokus, baking, and playing way too much Spider solitaire. And singing. A lot of singing, with some guitar pickin’ thrown in. And a smidgen of mandolin.

Marlene: Forge is described as romantic science fiction. What made you choose to write in the science fiction romance end of the space opera galaxy?

T.K.: I didn’t really choose the story, the story chose me. For a couple paragraphs I thought I was writing a western, until I looked up in the night sky and saw two moons. (This was the scene that became the second chapter of Forge.) Then, I thought I was writing a straight SF, but Nica popped up almost immediately, and I realized there’d be romance, too.

The hero, Keir, gets into dire trouble right from the start. An unidentifiable and nameless amnesiac (“Tazhret” means “Nameless” in the Tormin tongue) Keir’s sold as an indentured servant to an abusive master. He needed some reason to hope, to endure…even if his hope is only an elusive vision of an unknown woman who tells him he has a good name, despite all evidence to the contrary. He’s not even sure if Nica is real. He thinks she might be just another remnant of his drug-induced hallucinations.

Only later, as I got into the story, did I realize that Keir and Nica’s relationship is the crux of the whole story: the power of unconditional and sacrificial love in the face of evil. I had no idea the tale would go there, when I first opened a file and just started to describe the picture I had in my head.

Marlene: Have any of the places that you’ve traveled to made their way into the intergalactic scenes in your science fiction?

T.K.: Absolutely. Keir’s experience of Invershin’s civil circle is an almost direct steal from my visit to the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium—except the Grand Place is a town square. I’d say the Smokies along Skyline Drive inspired the Green Mountains, while the Rockies inspired the Grey.

Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

T.K.: Some of both. I get scenes in my head, which tend to be key events in a story—sometimes, right down to specific lines of dialogue. I’ll start to write based on those scenes, just to see what direction the story wants to take. Then, I’ll sit down and put together a rough outline, finding the steppingstones between the key scenes. But the characters have the right to veto the outline. When they do, I feel like I’m walking a wire over a snake pit without a net…but they’ve never let me down.

Marlene: What was the first moment you know you wanted to write?

T.K.: Ever since I read Little Women in second or third grade (it might’ve been the summer between). I idolized Jo March, tomboy and writer. But although I wrote a few stories for the entertainment of my sisters and close friends, I didn’t really think I’d write published fiction. Where would I get the ideas? It wasn’t until I had some real trauma going on in my life that writing became my outlet…and the ideas just wouldn’t stop.

Marlene: From your blog, I can tell that music is a big part of your life. Was there a “playlist” for the writing of Forge, or are there some tunes you recommend that might serve as “themes” for some of the main characters?

T.K.: What a great question about main characters’ theme songs. The best answers can be found in Celtic folk.

Keir saves himself from getting recycled with the trash by singing, in a roaring drunk, “Star of the County Down”—which has lines about “the maid with the nut-brown hair,” and “I shook myself to see I was really there.” Clearly a reference to Nica, the beautiful woman of his drug-induced visions. (And, yes…I realize this is an Irish song, with Irish place names in a mostly Scots-influenced tale. But the reference is very oblique, and the lyrics were otherwise perfect, and it is the kind of song you can sing after you’ve hoisted a few…I’m sure that’s why Keir thought of it for Nica. :D)

For Keir, the Scots’ folk song, “Will Ye No Come Back Again?” The tune and lyrics are full of love, longing, and loyalty. For Col, I think the best song is “Minstrel Boy”—he’s someone who’s spent his life in service to the Scotian Realm, no matter the odds or the cost. And for either of the villains, Saril or Gar genZeren…my mind jumps right to Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars!

I don’t always listen to music when I write, but when I do, it’s got to be instrumental. I get really distracted by lyrics. Some of my favorites, when I was writing the chase scenes, were from the group Blazing Fiddles out of Ontario Canada, and Bela’ Fleck’s hard-driving bluegrass banjo, or the alternative jazz of his “Tales of the Acoustic Planet”—music that holds a lot of Celtic flavor, so it was perfect for my Scotian ‘verse. Christopher Parkening’s amazing guitar work on his “best of” CDs made a great accompaniment for some of the softer scenes.

Marlene: What can we expect of Forge?

T.K.: Sixteen planets, three peoples, two scary-bad villains from a race of psychic predators, a sweet romance, and a hero in dire need of rescuing. Yes, it’s built along epic lines.

Because the story is big, I should mention that there is a cast of characters…but you’ll have to scroll to the end to find it. Decadent’s standard practice is to put it up front. But one of the characters doesn’t know who he is when the book begins, and another is traveling incognito, so reading a cast of characters for Forge is the ultimate spoiler. But some people like to read the last page of the whodunit first!

Marlene: Will there be more books in this series? (You did say it was “book one of the Thrall Web series…) What is next on your schedule?

T.K.: The working title of the second book is Web of Destiny. I’ve got it drafted, and am now editing it—using all the lessons I learned from working on Forge with my wonderful editor, Laura Garland of Decadent Publishing. Meanwhile, a contemporary fantasy is peeking out of the shadows of my mind.

Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?

T.K.: 1. Because everyone needs a trip to escapism, and a wormhole to the Scotian Realm is just how to get there.

2. You’ll meet people you’ll love, and people you’ll love to hate.

3. Because I need to feed my cats! (You know how demanding they can be be…)

Marlene: What book do you recommend everyone should read and why do you recommend that particular book?

T.K.: I don’t know about a particular book, but I always recommend a particular author: Lois McMaster Bujold. If you haven’t read Bujold…you’re missing a rare treat. Whenever her latest book comes out, I sit down with some homemade cherry cordial (my sister makes it) and some Dove dark chocolate, and indulge in unforgettable characters, excellent plots, pithy dialogue full of wit, wisdom, and humor.

Marlene: Just how do your cats (Pip and Taz) collaborate in your writing? (Mine are a demanding nuisance) What’s your secret?

T.K.: My cats insist they are not nuisances, so my secret is in redefining the word “collaboration” to include Pip hovering over me on the back of my chair, and Taz laying his head on my wrist—or on the keyboard—while I type. They are equally collaborative in household tasks; for example, when I make the bed (flinging themselves under the sheet and coverlet), or do laundry (diving into the basket of clean clothes out of the dryer). My husband tells me I don’t have to put up with that. I don’t know what he means….

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

Most definitely a night owl. I once had my handwriting analyzed by an expert who had worked with the FBI and police. She took once glance at what I’d written, and said, “You are not a morning person. No matter how early you get up, you’re not firing on all cylinders until 10am.” She gave me a great respect for graphology!

Thanks again for allowing me to visit, Marlene! And good luck to the folks who comment today. In addition to the blog tour prize of the $20 Amazon gift card, they’ll be eligible to win another Decadent title in the e-format of their choice.

Thanks, T.K. for such a fantastic interview. I’ll say that Web of Destiny can’t come soon enough for me. But about re-defining what the cats do as “collaboration”, good luck on that one! Mine have discovered a new super-power. Instead of omniscience or omnipotence, LaZorra aspires to omni-nuisance…and totally succeeds!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: Forge by T.K. Anthony

Format read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance, space opera
Series: Thrall Web #1
Length: 377 pages
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Date Released: July 21, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

Warned by a Seeing…

The high king of the Scotian Realm expects the arrival of an enemy, a race of psychic predators bent on galactic conquest. The Realm’s one hope is alliance with the neighboring star domains in defense of a shared colony, Forge.

Caught in Fate’s grim weaving…

Mindblind, amnesic, Tazhret lives out his drug-induced visions of servitude on Forge. He wants to believe the beautiful woman with the nut-brown hair who whispers reassurances to his harrowed heart: “You have a name.” But is she even real? Or just one bright thread in his dark dreams?

An unexpected hope…

Tazhret’s destiny leads him to freedom and the woman he yearns for—and to a desperate struggle against the enemy.

Tazhret can save Forge, and the clan of his beloved. But only at the cost of all he has hoped for: his name, his freedom, and his love for the woman with the nut-brown hair.

Forge is the name of a planet in T.K. Anthony’s amazing combination of space opera, science fiction romance, and interplanetary intrigue.

It’s also a metaphor for the transformation of the characters in the story from merely human, into the roles that have been cast for them by destiny. Forges create weapons by fire, hammer and strength. The weapon being forged gets pounded on–a lot.

The analogy holds up all too well for the characters in this story. The mindblind slave Tazhret in the book blurb, needless to say, he was not originally a slave. And how he got into that condition, uncovering that is just the beginning of a vast, galaxy spanning plot.

The woman with the nut-brown hair, she’s real all right. And he shouldn’t have had the ability to find her in any dream state, even before he was mindblinded. But there’s that destiny thing again.

They have, not just one star-empire to save, but three. Three races who will all become slaves if they don’t uncover all of the deeply laid nefarious interlocking plans, before it is too late.

If you’re thinking that the slave is going to turn out to be a prince in disguise, you’d be wrong. He’s not. We’d call him an engineer, but among his people, the Scotians, it’s a bit more complicated.

But complicated in a spell-binding way. Rescuing the slave, restoring him to his true identity, starts a chain reaction. The conspiracy that made him a slave stretches back decades, and across the galaxy to the deadly enemy of the Scotian Realm, the Khevox Dominion. The Khevox once enslaved the entire Scotian people, and stands poised to make history repeat itself.

Unless one slave can defeat them. Again.

Escape Rating B+: I did think Tazhret would turn out to be a “lost prince”, and was surprised (and pleased) to discover that the author had not done anything nearly so obvious.

Instead the tale spins into intergalactic plots involving chillingly evil methods and villains who operate from the shadows.

What enthralled me was the way that the story kept peeling back, layer after layer, from a simple tale of one man’s fall into ruin, to something that encompasses empires. And a love worth any, and every sacrifice.

What drove me absolutely crazy was that the story is not complete in one volume. Forge is book one of the Thrall Web series. Fine and dandy. The series is off to an amazing start. But Forge ends on an absolutely hellish cliffhanger, and there is no projected publishing date for book two in the series.

Not fair. Are they saved? Are they damned? When will readers get to find out?

***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.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-7-12

Today has been a very sleepy Sunday. It would have been a terrific day to curl up with the cats and just let the day segue from the morning nap to the afternoon nap. And for all I got accomplished today I probably would have been better off if I had!

Two things I did manage to get done, with a little help from my friend Rafflecopter, was to pick the winners for recent giveaways.

Joy Flynn won the paperback copy of Carol Tibaldi’s Roaring 20s suspense thriller, Willow Pond. And the one that everyone was drooling over, Suzanne Selfor’s Chocolate Giveaway was won by Jennifer Stewart Shaw.

Let’s take a look at the wrap-up of this week’s posts:

Ebook Review Central Featured Titles from Carina Press for August 2012: #1 Men of Smithfield: Mark and Tony by L.B. Gregg, #2 The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti, #3 Planning for Love (Aisle Bound #1) by Christi Barth
B+ Review: Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts + Interview
Celebrate the Freedom to Read! (Banned Books Week)
B+ Review: Operation Endgame (When the Mission Ends #1) by Christi Snow + Interview
A+ Review: Local Custom (Liaden Universe #4) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Last week is over. So what’s coming up this week?

There’s a Monday holiday (admittedly a minor one) so there’s no Ebook Review Central this week. Instead, I’ll be reviewing Zoë Archer’s Skies of Steel, the third book in the steampunk romance series The Ether Chronicles, that Zoë is co-authoring with Nico Rosso. I enjoyed the first two books in the series, and this was my treat to myself.

On Tuesday, my guest will be T. K. Anthony, the author of Forge, the first book of the Thrall Web series. If the phrase “Thrall Web” isn’t a hint, Forge is science fiction romance, a genre that is near and dear to my heart. I couldn’t resist this title. I’ll have an interview with T.K. as well as a review of Forge.

And Wednesday my guest will be my fellow SFR Brigade member Diane Dooley, to give us a peek into the science fiction world of her books Blue Galaxy (see review) and her latest Blue Nebula. Diane will be giving away copies of her books, as well as answering a few questions. I’ll have a review of Blue Nebula, too.

Thursday we’ll leave the future, science fictional or steampunk, to return to the contemporary world of Lori Foster’s latest romantic suspense novel, Run the Risk. Lori’s tour will be stopping at Reading Reality for an interview with Lori, as well as a review of the book and a giveaway.

It’s going to be another busy week! I also have two pretty intense historical fiction reviews that will be posted this week at Book Lovers Inc: Before Versailles by Karleen Koen and C.C. Humphreys’ A Place Called Armageddon.

And next week is shaping up to have a theme all its own! Courtney Cole’s Of Blood and Bone,  Louisa Bacio’s A Date with Death, and Sheila Stewart’s The Naughty Angel–all in the same week. Followed by the Wicked Romances Blog Hop. Sounds positively, well, wicked! And a perfect lead-in for the Halloween season.

Weren’t we just talking about chocolate?