I want to welcome fellow writer Kath Marsh who has agreed to appear on this blog from time to time, including providing an occasional book review. Have at it, Kath! AS Storm Front (Book One of the Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher:
If Ivanhoe was a wizard for hire in modern day Chicago, he’d be Harry Dresden. Harry, who owes back rent and lives on the edge of eviction, is truly good, truly a defender of the weak, and assuredly the foe of evil. When a woman comes to Harry’s office begging him to find out what is going on with her husband, when at the same time Lt. Murphy asks for Harry’s help in solving the murder of a couple whose hearts burst out of their chests (according to Harry, not possible for just one wizard to have this much power), Harry won’t stop until he fulfills his promises to both. Doing so puts Harry on the wrong side of a major criminal, on Lt. Murphy’s enemies’ list, in the cross hairs of a White Council warden who wants Harry dead, and next on the list of the murderer. True to his heroic nature, (which Harry easily sees in others, but not in himself) Harry won’t quit until the murders are solved, and the evil is destroyed. Even hamstrung by the rules for a white wizard, Harry is awesomely powerful. No wonder the White Council fears him. Harry, with his tall good looks and his wise-cracking sense of humor, enchants. This was the third time I’ve read this book. I rarely read a book a second time, but I would read this one and the whole series over and over. To escape to Harry’s world of good and evil where good is funny, handsome, has the devotion of his thirty-pound cat Mister, and triumphs over evil is ... perfect.
Review by Kath Marsh. Visit her Letters from Earth blog
Good Morning, booklovers!
If you're a SciFi fantasy reader, you need to pay special attention today. Author Dan Levinson is here to talk about writing and his latest release, Fires of Man. I had the opportunity to read the ARC and have included my own review.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Dan, what may I get you to drink?
Ally: Ah, hard core, huh? Coming right up while you show them your bio plus something personal they might not know.
Born and raised on Long Island, NY, Dan grew up immersing himself in fantastical worlds. While other kids dreamed of being astronauts and cowboys, all he ever wanted was to be a novelist. Now, he’s living his dream.
And that additional fact: I was a drama major in college. I can act, sing, even dance a little. By the time I graduated, I already knew I didn't want to pursue acting, but it's been invaluable in helping me channel the emotions of my characters onto the page.
Ally: Why did you choose to write science fiction? Was there a certain author who inspired you?
DAN: I'm actually more a fantasy buff. One of my primary inspirations when I was younger was Robert Jordan (who penned The Wheel of Time). I've always had a desire to tell epic stories, to follow in the footsteps of writers who've crafted compelling, sweeping series. And things like extraordinary powers, prophecies, and momentous confrontations always stoked my imagination. The world of Fires of Man is one that has existed in my mind for quite some time—about 15 years, in fact. I feel as if I've been able to deliver all the things that excited me about fantasy in a modern sci-fi framework. I think it's a happy marriage!
Ally: Describe your writing day. Where, when, writing goals?
DAN: I tend to write most often in the early afternoon (my mornings are exercise time). I have a 1,000 words/day, six days/week minimum goal for whatever my primary project is at the moment. Sometimes I manage to write more, other times after I meet my quota I'll work on side projects. I write my first drafts longhand, so I definitely enjoy hanging out in bed, writing in my notebook. I've also had a membership at the Paragraph NY writer's workspace, which is a wonderful environment for peace and quiet, while simultaneously being surrounded by other working writers; feeling the energy in that room is a great inspiration.
Ally: Which character from Fires of Man was the easiest or most fun to write?
DAN: Dr. Faith Santia, the archaeologist. As the only POV character in the narrative without special abilities (save, perhaps, her brilliant mind), it was a pleasure to explore this world from her perspective. I've also always been fascinated by ancient civilizations, by new discoveries shifting the narrative of the human history we've told ourselves. It was such fun to delve into that with her. Furthermore, amid all this incredible, superhuman conflict, it was great to address some very real challenges. Being young, Hispanic (or, rather, my world's equivalent), and female, while working in a conservative, patriarchal field—dominated by an "old guard," if you will—she feels a constant need to prove herself, despite the fact that she knows she's the best one for the job, the most qualified. The words "strong female character" get thrown around a lot, and while she certainly could be classified as such, I find the term to be reductive. Faith—like all of my characters, I think (I hope)—is a real, imperfect human being; she is resilient, yet vulnerable; confident, yet at times plagued by self-doubt; logical, pragmatic, but sometimes to a fault. Could she be called a "strong female character"? Absolutely. But I think she's much, much more than that.
Ally: What do you enjoy doing when your not writing? hobby, sports, etc.
DAN: I'm a TV addict, I admit. These days I find there's hardly enough time in the week for me to catch up on all the shows I like. I'd say my favorite show currently airing is HBO's True Detective. Incredible writing, incredible direction, incredible performances. I'm also champing at the bit for the return of Game of Thrones in April. I also love to participate in NYC's wonderful writing community. There are constant readings and events going on. I'd highly recommend anyone in the NYC metropolitan area look into the KGB Bar, on E 4th St., which runs such events every month, all month long. Additionally, I love reading, attending theater, seeing good films, socializing (and enjoying a glass of good scotch), as well as playing video games. I'm not as avid a gamer as I used to be, but there are always a handful of games I have to play each year.
Ally: Now let's tackle a few quick answer, get-to-know-you questions:
Ally: It's been terrific having you on the blog, Dan. Good luck with the rest of your book tour. Please tell us more about the Fires of Man.
- a. pantser or plotter: Both.
- b. have you or would you bungee jump? sky dive? No thank you! I'll let my characters do that.
- c. an item on your bucket list: Learning Japanese.
- d. favorite summer drink: Mojito.
- e. favorite tv show, past or present: Too difficult! Call it a cop-out, but it's a three-way tie. Lost, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones.
"In a world where a gifted few can manipulate reality with their minds, two great nations—Calchis and Orion—employ these psionic powers in a covert war for global superiority. In the heart of Calchis, a powerful young psion named Aaron Waverly is kidnapped, and forcibly conscripted. To the north, in the capital, a plan is hatched to decimate Orion, to be carried out by the ruthless operative known only as “Agent.”
In Orion, fresh recruit Stockton Finn comes to terms with his new powers, and learns firsthand just how dangerous they can be. Meanwhile, officers Nyne Allen and Kay Barrett navigate the aftermath of their shattered love affair, oblivious to the fact that Calchis draws ever closer to destroying the tenuous peace.
Amid this, Calchan archaeologist Faith Santia unearths a millennia-old ruin in the arctic land of Zenith. This lost temple might hold the hidden history of psionic powers, as well as hints of a deeper mystery that could shake the foundations of all mankind."
Fires of Man is the first book in a scifi war series by Dan Levinson, and I can't wait for him to publish the second. Epic science fiction stories aren't hard to find, but the Psion stories are a worthy and unique addition to the field. The author knows his craft, combining a smooth writing style with a flare for story-telling, an interesting fictional world, and characters you'll care about.
Two great nations currently in a cold war standoff are on the brink of open warefare. Both have amassed and trained secret specialty units of psions, those humans with the ability to manipulate reality, delivering death and destruction with their minds. Into this landscape are dropped a cast of fascinating characters, including two young men who are both reluctant warriors; a long, lost brother; a woman afraid to fall in love; a soldier who believes there can be a better way, and a robotic-style human killer named Agent. But what I found the most unique is that likable characters are presented from both sides of the conflict, forcing the reader to identify with the characters rather than the cause.
The only complaint I have is the book ended on a cliff hanger, and I wanted to know immediately what happened to each of the characters!
Fires of Man is fast paced and reads quickly. Highly recommended. Well worth your time.
Terrific job, Dan!
Thanks for stopping. Drop in again soon!