Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vacation Reads Blog Tour - week 2

If you're planning your holiday, don't forget to pack an exciting book.

This week's Vacation Reads Blog Tour features four new titles, including interviews with the authors, book blurbs, and more. Check for more information at the Vacation Reads web site and don't forget to leave comments on at least one of the participating blogs (see Vacation Reads for the full list), as well as on the site itself, to enter the drawing to win prizes that include copies of the authors' books, and more!

AETHER AGE ANTHOLOGY, edited by Brandon Bell

A past remade…

Take flight on airships, balloons, and wooden rockets. Soar with winged hoplites, exiled princesses, explorers and philosophers. Witness the struggle for equality, freedom, and power like you never have before.

Explore a history transformed and travel into the heavens to discover what awaits the civilizations of Humanity in...

Tell us about this anthology, Brandon. What was it like for you to work as editor?

Aether Age: Helios was my first crack at working as editor. By the time Aether Age grew into something almost ready to open to submissions, Chris Fletcher made the offer for me to co-edit the anthology, probably on the basis of my involvement to that point, coupled with what he knew of me as a writer. Being a decent writer does not equal a decent editor, but I'd also done the guest post on M-Brane outlining my ideas about what makes a good story, so Chris must have believed he had enough data about what kind of editor I might be to feel some confidence.

I've read interviews with editors that I respect and blog posts by writers discussing their experience in magazines and anthologies. Writers sometimes feel betrayed by the inclusion of another story, or otherwise compromised due to an inclusion, exclusion, or lack of editorial vision. And depending on the lens, Chris and I could look either terribly unpromising or a potential win —at least in the matter of a diversity of views: two white guys (ah, hmmm), a gay guy and a straight guy (oh, could be interesting), a non-christian and a buddhist (really?). All these are just details, though. Diversity was never even a discussion we had, it just happened. I'm happy on this point: we have a nice balance of female to male and a great world-spanning contributor list.

Ok, but what about the stories?

Yes, that's what matters. I won't name names, but I find reassurance that the tale I liked least during our reading period has grown into one of my favorites. Story, well told, trumps the most jaded of reader expectations.

Our guiding editorial principle was simply to cover the range of time envisioned with interesting tales that varied in tone. We didn't want a bunch of dark stories or only stories that dealt with swashbuckling and adventure. Though AeA has all that.

Some of the stories are not 'my type of tale'. Not the sort of thing I'd typically read. And I'm really happy about those stories. I know a book like Aether Age, so difficult to blurb or explain, is going to be a hard sell for readers of a more romantic or mainstream bent, but I wish I could put it in the hands of exactly that reader. There's just enough darkness, danger, and adventure to make the gentle moments and so very human relationships echo in the way that only seems to happen when a set of stories are presented as facets of their own history.

We all love superstars. Having a superstar in AeA would help sell copies, for sure. Well, we didn't get the literary equivalent of U2 or The Beatles. And that is good. If you are like me, you've had that pet band you know and love that just never attained the household name-recognition of the superstars. The Mars Volta, The Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Portishead... notwithstanding my Canadian readers for whom a couple of these ARE huge bands, down here in Texas these are the good stuff that no one seems to know about.

Maybe we have some future superstars in our midst among the AeA table of contents. We certainly have writers who are widely published and making names for themselves. But for now, here's the short story equivalent to the 'educational mixtape' you might put together in the hopes of pulling your hopelessly misled buddies away from Lil Wayne and Justin Beaber.

In that same spirit I present to you The Aether Age: Helios. For your enjoyment and edification.

THE KULT by Shaun Jeffrey

The Kult - People are predictable. That's what makes them easy to kill.

Tell us about yourself, Shaun.

My name’s Shaun Jeffrey, and having grown up in a house in a cemetery, it’s pretty safe to assume I was never going to be writing love stories, and perhaps goes some way to explaining my attraction to the dark side of the literary spectrum.

I’ve been writing on and off for around twenty years, and it never gets any easier. But then that’s all part of the challenge and the fun. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and while everyone may have a story to tell, not everyone can tell it.

Now along with cover pictures, I think taglines are important. They sum up the story in as few words as possible and hopefully entice readers to buy the book. Or at least to give it more than a passing glance. ‘People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.’ That’s the tagline to my novel, The Kult, which is a fast paced serial killer story that contains a mix of horror, crime and mystery.

Is it true that it has been optioned for a movie?

The book was optioned at the end of last year by Gharial Productions, and shooting on the film begins in September. It will be interesting and exciting to see my story brought to life, a story that award winning author Jonathan Maberry called ‘a bumpy ride through nightmare country’. I have two other novels available, ‘Deadfall’ – when the dead won’t stay dead there’s going to be hell to pay. And ‘Evilution’ – humankind is about to change.

Details of these and any other projects can be found on my website: and sample chapters and my previously published short story collection ‘Voyeurs of Death’ can be read for free at


What is your book about, Alix?

Based Upon Availability delves into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women, each who pass through Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel. While offering sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest and twisted moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love, and death. Trish, a gallery owner, obsesses over her best friend’s wedding and dramatic weight loss. Robin wants revenge after a lifetime of abuse at the hands of her older sister. Anne is single, lonely, and suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Drug-addicted rock star Louise needs to dry out. Southerner-turned-wannabe Manhattanite Franny is envious of her neighbors’ lives. Sheila wants to punish her boyfriend for returning to his wife. Ellen so desperately wants children, she’s willing to pretend to be pregnant. And Morgan, the hotel manager— haunted by the memory of her dead sister—is the thread that weaves these women’s lives together.

In this an utterly original read, I try to ask and answer the age-old question; ‘what happens behind closed doors’ while examining the walls we put up as we attempt intimacy, and inspecting the ruins when they’re knocked down.

Alix Strauss

NATIVE VENGEANCE by Julie Achterhoff

Julie Achterhoff is the author of three books, Native Vengeance, Quantum Earth, and Deadly Lucidity. They are paranormal thrillers. She grew up reading such authors as Stephen King and Dean Koontz, which influenced her own writing. She has been writing since childhood, scaring her teachers with her horror stories. Reading has also been a great influence on her. Her books can be found on in regular form, and now on Kindle for $3.19 a piece. They can also be purchased from the publisher at You can read parts of her books on BookBuzzr.

Why did you become involved in your particular genre?

I just love scary stuff! It's exciting for me to write stories that will scare people and make them wonder if something like that could really happen. When I was a kid I read every scary book I could get my hands on. I loved H.P. Lovecraft and others that kept me up at night. I enjoy creating characters who are strong, yet also vulnerable, so the reader can relate to them throughout the story. I also enjoy writing a strong storyline that will keep readers engrossed until the very end. I also like adding a romantic element in my books. I think that gives them a little spice. I believe that thrillers are the most interesting books. They can really get to you!

Read more about these, and other great titles at Vacation Reads.

No comments: