Writer and editor Jeanne Cavelos founded the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 1996, and it quickly became an invaluable experience for writers of genre fiction. She joins us to discuss the workshop, her own fiction and anthology projects, Dracula and Van Helsing, and rituals involving plush animals and condensed milk. Not for the faint of heart! (PS – The Early Application deadline for next year’s workshop is January 31st. Get those apps ready!)
First, we reveal the books we’ve chosen for our recommended reading challenge! Chia will read The Red: First Light, Chris has chosen Double Whammy: A Davis Way Crime Caper, George has queued Say Yes to the Marquess, and Cath is reading The Bourne Identity. Start your book engines!
Then we return to a frequent subject of discussion, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Is it still relevant to our goals? Is there an alternative? It seems we always have something to say on the subject when November rolls around.
Happy Halloween! George, Chia and Chris indulge in our annual Halloween movie watch. This year: Halloween, Pulgasari and City of the Living Dead. Which flicks made us scream? Which cried out for the MST3K treatment? There’s one way to find out, gentle listener. (Actually, there are two. Consult our Unreliable Narrators Watch… series of posts for gory details in our watch transcripts.)
My agent mate Rati Mehrotra has written the first book of her new series Markswoman. The book is exactly what I’ve been looking for–a gripping fantasy about a strong group of woman, focusing on strength and revenge.
Markswoman takes place in a post-apocalyptic future Asia, where groups of assassins bonded to special daggers keep the peace among clans and their own orders. The story centers on Kyra, last of her clan, focused on becoming a markswoman to avenge her family’s death. When the head of the order of Kali is killed mysteriously, Kyra finds herself on the wrong side and flees. She spends time among the male assassins of the order of Khur, held in disdain by the predominantly female assassins. There, she learns to fight to face her ultimate battle with Tamsyn the usurper.
Markswoman centers on a strong female lead. Kyra has fears and flaws, but also has a strong moral core, and she knows what she must do when the leader of her order is killed. Against all odds of success, she decides she will challenge Tamsyn to a duel. There is a romantic element to the book, but it is a side plot rather than the point of the endeavor. Kyra coming into her own, learning her true potential, focuses the reader and pulls us through the book.
Mehrotra descriptions are transporting. I found her landscapes immersive and her technological descriptions mysterious. The world of Markswoman, all aspects of it, are deftly weaved into a rich, textured whole. It is hard to find your way out of this book in certain sections, as it seems to envelope.
One of the added bonuses for me, an older reader, was finding so many interesting “elder” characters to read about. Even though this is a YA book, I found myself enjoying the portrayals of many of the wise and experienced people in the orders of Kali and Khur, which transcended the stereotypes of older people generally found in books about younger people. I felt validated.
There are dangling plot points. What is Nineth’s ultimate fate? Shurik’s? What happens after the ending of the book, which seems so abrupt? And that big reveal about parents and children I can’t tell you about? What are the implications of that? I hope we will get the next book in the Asiana series to answer these questions.
Should you read Markswoman? Yes, you should. You can buy it on January 23rd, 2018. You can pre-order it now.
Unreliable Alum Rachel Marks does not disappoint with her latest book, Fire and Bone, a YA Urban Fantasy featuring Celtic mythology.
Way back in the beginning of our podcast, we were lucky enough to interview Rachel about the first book of her Dark Cycle trilogy Darkness Brutal. Fire and Bone kicks off Rachel’s The Otherborn series. Sage, the second born daughter of the Celtic goddess Brighid, finds herself suddenly in the world of the Celtic Penta and all that surround them. She also becomes involved in a centuries old tragedy, and it becomes difficult for Sage to sort out which life is present, which is past, and who her allies and enemies are in this new and strange world.
Marks presents us with some winning characters. Sage is vulnerable and lost, yet is solidly grounded and knows herself, sparing us some of the insecurities that have haunted YA heroines in years past. The romance between her and Faelin is compelling, but stays at a level which drives it forward in unrelenting tension. All the characters are dimensional and intriguing. It will come as no surprise to the people who know me I become a fan of the dark prince Kieran, and yes, I’m not giving away any spoilers at all here. Go read the book. You’ll get there.
At the same time Sage is thrust into the intrigue and politics of the Celtic gods, an undercurrent of a tragedy in the past presents as a mystery, and then as very relevant to the current day. The mystery of the past blends with the discovery of the present skillfully, and by the end of the book, both plots come together. The only real flaw of this book is that it ends, and we’ll have to wait for the next one for a while. Since I received an ARC, I have to wait longer than you will, so be grateful for that, at least.
Fire and Bone is available at Amazon from Skyscape in all the usual ways: Kindle, CreateSpace, and Audio. If UF, YA or Celtic is your jam, you should go pre-order.
Tonight we watch…Friday the 13th. That’s right, the grandaddy of slasher flicks! Camp Crystal Lake is open for business again, and you’re all invited. The question is…will you survive the experience?
WARNING: the following contains spoilers!
Dramatis Personae: Chia, Chris, George…and special guest-star Morris the Cat!
george_galuschak [8:00 PM] Friday the 13th!
chialynn [8:00 PM] Friday the 13th!
chris [8:00 PM] Friday the 13th!
Welcome to the third and final episode of this year’s Halloween edition of “The Unreliable Narrators Watch…,” starring The Unreliable Narrators. This week we’re watching John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” the quintessential movie of this wonderful holiday!
WARNING: the following contains spoilers!!!
Dramatis Personae: Chris, Chia, George…and special guest-star Taz the Dog!
chialynn [9:44 PM] Three… two… one…
george_galuschak [9:44 PM] Halloween!
chialynn [9:44 PM] Halloween!
chris [9:45 PM] Halloween!
chris [9:45] piano!
chialynn [9:45 PM] For our readers at home, I’m the only one here who hasn’t seen this before.