Coming to Town: Adam Christopher for Made to Kill at Flyleaf Books, interviewed by Mur Lafferty

New Zealand-born British novelist Adam Christopher (Empire StateThe Burning DarkSeven Wonders, and Hang Wire) is making a rare US appearance at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books this Saturday [Facebook] to read from his forthcoming novel Made to Kill, which begins his new “L.A. Trilogy” from Tor Books: “Set in Hollywood 1965, Made to Kill is very much a noir mystery, except that the detective is a robot (with a heart of gold) and his Gal Friday is a supercomputer with a Lucille Bluth sensibility. The novel was born out of short story written for called “Brisk Money” whereby the author imagines an undiscovered sci-fi novel written by Raymond Chandler.” Joining Christopher in conversation will be Durham author Mur Lafferty, who also took the time to ask Christopher a few questions about juggling genres and projects. Do note the start time for Saturday’s event is 6 pm as opposed to the usual 7 pm, and! There will be wine and snacks, and with both Lafferty and Christopher, it’s sure to be an entertaining time. I’ll see you there! And do check out the fantastic book trailer over at, and if you’re reading this from further afield, you might want to check out  the official L.A. Trilogy website for the other remaining events on his tour.

Adam Christopher Banner(1)

— Interview by Mur Lafferty —

Q: Your work is heavily entrenched with American Noir elements. How long have you been a fan of the genre, and what made you want to write your own twist?

I love mystery and crime fiction, and in particular the hardboiled and noir varieties. I’m a huge fan of Raymond Chandler in particular, and I knew that he wasn’t too keen on sci-fi – but at the same time, I thought that a Raymond Chander SF novel would be really interesting. My editor kinda challenged me to write it, and that became the novelette “Brisk Money”, and from that, I suddenly found myself with a whole trilogy of books about a robot detective who is really a robot hit man. This kind of genre mash-up is a lot of fun to write!

Q: You’ve had a very busy year, with novels, tie-ins, and comic books. How do you structure your schedule to handle these projects, and how do you keep so many stories straight in your head? Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Alexandra Duncan on Sound, ahead of her appearance this Sunday at Flyleaf Books

Asheville author Alexandra Duncan’s new novel Sound is the stand-alone companion to her award-winning novel Salvage, a debut that internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins called “kick-ass, brilliant, feminist science fiction.” But I believe my interest was piqued when it was being described as perfect “for fans of Beth Revis, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica.” In Salvage, the action focused on Ava, “a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean.” In her adventures (which The Exploding Spaceship reviewed here) she meets Miyole, the young daughter of the ship’s captain who helps her get to earth. In Sound, the perspective shifts to more directly tell Miyole’s story: “As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever.”

When Duncan wrote about the hardest part of writing Salvage back in 2014, ahead of her appearance in a YA panel at Flyleaf Books shortly after the book’s release, she described her struggles with her own neurochemical balances. For book two, she’s also coming to town as part of a fantastic YA author panel at Flyleaf Books, which includes Amy Reed and Jaye Robin Brown and is this coming Sunday (October 11) from 4 to 5 pm. But this time around, it was the “curse of the second book” that Duncan struggled against. In another fantastic essay for “The Hardest Part” guest column, she writes about having to learn how to write all over again. Enjoy!


— By Alexandra Duncan —

Among writers, there is an urban legend — the curse of the second book. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Your first book may have been magical and transporting, a critical darling. But your second book? It’s going to be terrible. And it’s going to bomb. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Paul Tremblay for A Head Full of Ghosts at Flyleaf Books, interviewed by Richard Dansky

Interview by Richard Dansky:

With A Head Full of Ghosts, Paul Tremblay has catapulted himself into the front rank of American horror authors. Born in Colorado but currently residing in Boston, Tremblay teaches AP Calculus by day and then unleashes an entirely different set of horrors by night. His previous works include Swallowing A Donkey’s Eye and the short story collection In The Mean Time, both from ChiZine Publishing. Nominated twice for the Bram Stoker Award, he also serves as a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards. He was kind enough to take time out from his Guest of Honor duties at NECON to talk a little about the role of pop culture references in fiction, blogging as a framing device, and why he’s disappointed in Les Stroud, ahead of his appearance this Sunday (July 26) at 4 pm at Flyleaf Books [Facebook].

Q: First question: Do you believe in Bigfoot?

Do I believe in Bigfoot? I do not. You know, I kind of want to, but I’m kind of taking up the “no Bigfoot” position just as devil’s advocate because my ten year old daughter is so [into it]. She hasn’t watched it much in the last six to 8 months, but my daughter had a section of time where she was totally obsessed with Bigfoot. She has a Bigfoot t-shirt and loves the show [note: the reality show Finding Bigfoot, which features prominently in A Head Full of Ghosts] so I would playfully argue with her that there was no Bigfoot. “How come they don’t find any bodies” and she always responds with “well, they bury their dead”. But I have a hard time believing that there’s a Bigfoot.

Q: Just a spoiler alert here – the last few episodes of Finding Bigfoot, they have not actually found Bigfoot. I know that’s a tremendous shock. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Darin Kennedy for The Mussorgsky Riddle, at Flyleaf Books this Sunday

As I wrote in the intro for his The Hardest Part essay: “Charlotte “doctor by day, novelist by night” Darin Kennedy‘s debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is squarely right up my alley. “The Great Gate of Kiev” (part of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) is one of my favorite pieces of Russian symphony, and Kennedy turns the mythopoeity up to “11” combining music, paranormal mystery, and classical mythology in a heady, panpsychic mix. All set in Charlotte — and the infinite mindscapes therein.” In that essay, he wrote about the hard part of discovering the first person present tense voice of psychic Mira Tejedor, as she struggles to unravel the riddle of 13-year-old Anthony Faircloth’s catatonia, as well as the difficulty and payoff of writing first person from the POV of the opposite gender in and of itself, and of making the various pieces of Pictures at an Exhibition and Scheherazade fit together. Here, Kennedy took the time via email to answer a few brief questions ahead of his upcoming appearances in the Carolinas, at Flyleaf Books (this Sunday, June 7, at 2 pm) [Facebook],  at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on the 11th (Thursday), and Joe’s Place in Greenville, SC on the 20th (Saturday). Enjoy!

Q: The phrase “paranormal thriller” isn’t all that common. Are there some more well-known cultural referents that can help shorthand things, like maybe the J-Lo film The Cell, or is that the wrong direction?

Let’s see… Paranormal Thriller vs. Paranormal Mystery seems to be where Mussorgsky lies. The main character is Mira Tejedor, a psychic who explores a comatose boy’s mind for the answers to both his catatonic state and a missing persons case in the real world. Between her psychic abilities and the dreamscapes she walks to find her answers, I think these are the best descriptors. It’s funny you mention The Cell, as there are some similarities there. I actually hadn’t seen that movie until after I finished The Mussorgsky Riddle, but I think that writer and I definitely touched on some similar themes, albeit coming at them from very different directions.

Q: Do you believe in any psychic phenomena yourself? Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Marie Brennan for Voyage of the Basilisk, at Quail Ridge Books and Flyleaf Books, with Mary Robinette Kowal

Fantasy author Marie Brennan is on tour for Voyage of the Basilisk, the third novel in her Memoirs of Lady Trent series which began with the World Fantasy Award nominated A Natural History of Dragons. Once again, she’s touring with fellow fantasy novelist Mary Robinette Kowal, and this time, as Kowal and I hoped at about this time last year in Kowal’s now-yearly return to her Raleigh hometown, Brennan will be joining Kowal for not one but three reading in North Carolina next week: Monday (May 18th) at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books, Tuesday (May 19th) at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, and Wednesday (May 20th) at Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore. Brennan and Kowal have been on tour since May 6, with readings this week at Powell’s in Beaverton (Tuesday, May 12th), Weller’s in Salt Lake City (Thursday, May 14th), The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale (Saturday, May 16th), and Houston’s Murder by the Book (Sunday, May 17th), with the tour concluding at San Francisco’s legendary Borderlands Bookstore on Thursday, May 21st.

As in their previous tours together, Brennan and Kowal have more than the usual readings planned, ranging from puppet shows to Regency costume, and invite fans to come in period costume of their own for both “a small prize” as well as “a great deal of squeeing.” Here via email, Brennan answers some questions about the series, ranging from the meta (what did trilogies ever do to her, that’s she’s avoided them thus far in her career?) to the embarrassing (for the interviewer; indeed, what is it about a book cover with the internal musculature of a dragon that sets my heart a-flutter?) to her quest for anthropological ideas in need of plots. Read on for this and more, though, sadly I neglected to ask the all-important barbecue question. And, really: catch her and Kowal at a reading if you can. Their books are really something not to be missed.


BS: In fantasy, we’re as readers seemingly conditioned for the trilogy. However, this is a form you’ve yet to commit, with a duology, a quartet, and the planned five books in The Memoirs of Lady Trent. What did trilogies ever do to you?

They snubbed me once in high school, so now I’m snubbing them back.

More seriously: I didn’t make a conscious decision to avoid trilogies, though I did notice at one point that I hadn’t written one yet, and that amused me. I’m actually mid-trilogy right now: the Wilders series (Lies and Prophecy and the upcoming Chains and Memory) will be three books long when it’s done. But I think that structure works best for things that are telling a more continuous story, which isn’t true of the Onyx Court series (the quartet) and the Memoirs: both of those have a through-line, but each volume is a stand-alone episode in that larger picture. That means I can choose the number based on other considerations. In the case of the Memoirs, it was “what’s a nice middle range where I can send Isabella to lots of different places, but not run out of scientific things for her to discover?”

BS: One of my weaknesses as a reader has been tending to avoid books which might focus too much on romance. Even after A Natural History of Dragons was named a World Fantasy Award finalist, I put off picking up the series for far too long, only to later kick myself for missing out on the (equal parts?) science travelogue, adventure, and mystery, and yes, some (particularly well done) romance. Do you see the books in any kind of “balancing act” sense, with knife fights, dragon autopsies, politics, and romance as equal players, or is that a gross simplification? Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Fred Chappell for “Familiars”, interviewed by Warren Rochelle

This Wednesday at Quail Ridge Books marks the first of three Triangle-area readings for North Carolina’s own Fred Chappell. While I personally know his work best for his short speculative fiction (particularly his “shadow” stories in F&SF) he has enchanted readers of every mode, from Southern novels, to the horrors of Dagon, poetry to prose. It is for his poems that he returns this year, for a new chapbook Familiars: Poems from Louisiana State University Press, for readings at the aforementioned Quail Ridge Books (Wednesday, December 10, 7:30 pm), Flyleaf Books (Thursday, December 11, 7 pm as part of their “Second Thursday Poetry Series & Open Mic”, with Pat Riviere-Seel), and The Regulator Bookshop (Tuesday, December 16, 7 pm). Below, author and academic Warren Rochelle reviews Familiars, interviews Chappell, and provides a brief biography as well. I hope you manage to catch (at least!) one of his readings — for myself, I should be (again, at least!) at Quail Ridge Books on Wednesday. See you there!

Interview by Warren Rochelle:

The Little Gods at Our Feet, the Mythic and the Mundane, Whimsy and Mystery and Cats, or

A Personal Essay and a Conversation with Fred

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I am an ailurophile. First, there was Osito, a Siamese mix, rescued as a kitten from a flea-ridden house. This lilac-point beast saw me through graduate school, my first post-doc job, and my first year here in Fredericksburg, at the University of Mary Washington. Then, Alex and Festus, two brothers (but not littermates, and believe me, it made a difference), from the local shelter, and a Yogi and Booboo combo, if there ever was one. Alex weighed in at 17 lbs.; Festus, about 10. Now, there is just Festus, my little godling, my familiar, the muse at my feet when I am writing, an old guy, now, almost fourteen. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part/Coming to Town: Beth Revis on The Body Electric

North Carolina author Beth Revis achieved fantastic critical and commercial success with her Across the Universe series, a young adult science fiction trilogy about “a love out of time and a spaceship built of secrets and murder” that has been translated into more than 20 languages. For The Body Electric, Revis once again offers a young adult science fiction novel, this time focused on memory, identity, and trust: “The future world is at peace. Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift, the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother, to help others relive their happy memories. But not all is at it seems. Ella starts seeing impossible things, images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience, and influence, the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love, even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing? Someone’s altered her memory. Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings. So who can she trust?”

Here, Revis writes about the difficulties in revising what had been meant as the first book as a trilogy into one standalone novel. It — and the novel — makes for intriguing reading. I’d originally asked her about this “hardest part” for The Hardest Part guest column series, and then saw that she has 5 events scheduled across the Carolinas from November 1-5 including Quail Ridge Books, Flyleaf Books, Malaprop’s, Park Road Books, and Fiction Addiction, as part of the Compelling Reads Tour which also includes (among others) Meagan Spooner and Megan Shepherd. So! I’m including this in the Coming to Town column as well. I hope you enjoy!

By Beth Revis:

The hardest part of writing The Body Electric was the revision process. In its original inception, the book was going to be the first of a trilogy and heavily focused on a government subplot. My agent and editor, however, pointed out that dystopian was fading, and the government subplot was distracting from the main plot of the book–a more personal story about a girl whose memories have been altered without her knowledge and who is wrapped up in something far bigger than her. Taking out the subplot was a huge change–but not as huge as cutting the book from three to one. Taking out the strings that led to sequels made the story tighter and stronger in the end, but it was excruciatingly painful to revise!

Once the book was done and edited, the rest sort of…fell into place. I did have a set back when I learned it didn’t fit with my publisher’s catalog, but the actual decision to self publish was fairly easy, mostly due to my wise agent, who was behind me the whole way. I’d worked with a graphic designer before on other projects, and she was available to do the exterior and interior design of the novel. I had great friends (and the internet!) to show me the ropes of self publication, and a wonderful indie bookstore that helped with the launch of the book. After years of writing and three published novels, it was amazing that the hardest part of the book was in the writing process, not the publication process!


Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s latest book is a new science fiction novel for teens, The Body Electric, which released October 6, 2014.