Posted by Dianna Gunn
I originally met Martin Bolton through Musa. One of Urania’s many authors, he generously provided me with my first ever guest post, and, even better gave me a copy of his co-written fantasy novel to review. Due to a combination of mountains of homework and other obligations, it took me about two months longer than expected to finish the Best Weapon, but I can say it was certainly worth the wait.
The Best Weapon is the story of two brothers created by the ‘Lords of Hell’ as a last ditch effort to save themselves from an unnamed evil force. These brothers, Naiyar and Fulk, are placed on opposite ends of the planet so they won’t draw attention to themselves or discover themselves until the time is right. This book tells the tale of these brothers discovering their true natures and finding each other. Each faces trials which test their will power and strength while showing them that they are more than human.
From the very first scene—the scheming ‘Lords of Hell’ creating the two sons—I was entranced by this novel. I greatly enjoyed the vastly different cultures Naiyar and Fulk belonged to. Both Naiyar’s Djanki and Fulk’s Templars were created with tender care and great detail. While both sons came from deeply religious warrior cultures, the similarities end there. From the dress to the food to the rituals, the reader is shown just how different these two cultures are—and how beautiful, and twisted, each is in its own way.
As a writer, I find it incredible that these two authors managed to create a masterpiece together. I’ve never co-written anything, and to be honest, I’m afraid co-writing would lead to a lot of conflict for me; I have an incendiary personality and I don’t play well with others. So the fact that this world and book were brought together seamlessly by two authors is particularly impressive to me. While I’m pretty sure each writer took on the perspective of one son, there’s no noticeable change in style or writing quality, so you’d never be able to pinpoint which part is which author.
All in all, The Beast Weapon is well worth reading. It involves conflict at every level imaginable, fight scenes on a grand scale, incredible sacrifice and suffering for both brothers, and a beautifully detailed world. I’m thrilled I had the opportunity to review it and I highly recommend you purchase your copy today—and with any luck, you’ll be seeing these two lovely authors here for an interview sometime in the coming months. If I had to give this book a rating out of five stars, I’d give it four out of five stars because it’s a great book but it never quite moved me to tears, which is to me the mark of a book that surpasses even the idea of great.
You can purchase your copy of The Best Weapon here.
Martin Bolton was born in Cornwall in 1979 and now lives and works in Bristol. Previously he concentrated on his artwork and writing small pieces of nonsense for the amusement of his friends, before deciding to do some serious creative writing. His first published work, a full length novel co-written with David Pilling, is The Best Weapon, is due to be released by Musa Publishing on 02 March 2012. His work is inspired by authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Robert E Howard, Bernard Cornwell and Iain M. Banks.
Posted by Dianna Gunn
Today I am very pleased to introduce Stephanie Campbell, author of Dragon Night. I am currently reading Dragon Night, published by Urania, Musa’s speculative fiction imprint, on the Kindle I got for Christmas. I’m more than halfway through the book and I’ve enjoyed every step along the way. It’s a great honour to have her here today.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your book, Dragon Night?
I’m twenty-one years old and have been writing since I was twelve. People in the publishing world often tell me that I’m “still a baby.” I have heard that phrase used on me quite often. I’m a go-getter, at least when it comes to the things that I want and love, so I don’t let my age or anything else get in my way. I think that’s how I first ended up published. The poor editors probably got so darn sick of me harassing them that they decided to throw the dog a bone.
I got my first book, Until We Meet Again, published when I was seventeen. Since then, I’ve had the books Poachers, Where All Rivers Meet, P.S. I Killed My Mother, and yes, Dragon Night, published.
Dragon Night is my favorite book out so far. It’s about a boy who discovers that his father isn’t really his father. He goes on a quest to find his biological dad, and along the way he discovers that he’s a half-dragon in a world where dragons and half-dragons are at war.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
I’m very lucky that I discovered that what I loved more than breathing early in life. (That isn’t even a hyperbole. I really do.) I’ve always been a clumsy, forgetful mess of a girl, and don’t ever ask me to solve a math equation. But writing made me very happy so I worked at it. I could always imagine myself getting up and writing the whole day and being the most blissful person on this planet. When I got out of high school, I was still logical about the whole situation, though. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me, “Writers don’t make much. You won’t be able to live like that.”
I tried my hand at a few different things, still writing all the while, but I was miserable that way. That was when I realized that I was being very dumb about the whole thing. I wanted to be a novelist. The best things in the world take time. Listening to myself was the smartest thing that I’ve ever done. I’ve got a ton of book contracts out right now, and I’m very successful under multiple pen names. I think some part of me always knew that I was destined to be a writer. I just had to have enough faith in myself to believe that it was possible for me.
3. What made you decide to write fantasy?
Because I love the idea of disappearing in another world completely. Harry Potter did something to me—well, I’m pretty sure that it did something to most kids. J.K. Rowling is a brilliant woman. I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts, and I’m still harboring a deep rooted belief that I am actually a fairy that was swapped out of the real Stephanie’s crib. YA fantasy is what I love to read.
4. Have you ever tried your hand at other genres?
Yes, I write in every genre—quite literally. I have an adult mystery and an adult sci-fi coming out. (Case Closed has a superb cover .) I have a YA drama. I’m currently writing an adult suspense called Racing Death, about a man who’s trying to save his significant other’s life. Basically, you name it, chances are good that I’ve written it…except for non-fiction. I’ve tried it, but I just can’t do it, even if it’s regarding a top that I know everything about.
5. What does the writing process look like for you?
I have a step by step process. I’ll usually be working on four or five projects all at once. I’ll edit one book, write another, and then be publicizing a third. Here is my outline for one of these books. Just imagine it at high speed with three other books at different points of the process thrown in:
Step 1) I’ll get the idea, which usually happens when I’m writing a completely different book.
Step 2) I’ll outline it chapter by chapter. This usually takes me about thirty minutes, and the book will look completely different by the time that I’m done.
Step 3) Write the book. This step usually takes me a month and a half.
Step 4) I’ll put my book in my “limbo” pile. I won’t touch it for two months.
Step 5) Edit the book twice. This step usually takes me two months.
Step 5) Get so darn sick of the book that I will have extreme urges to throw my computer out the window. I will then cry and procrastinate. (As funny as it is, this is not a joke. It’s one of my steps.)
Step 6) Go back. Pout. Edit for the third time.
Step 7) Send to one of my editors.
Step 8) Line edit with my editors. This can be painful or enjoyable, depending on how much is changed. At least somebody is suffering with me. (Just kidding this time. I’m happy during this step)
Step 9) I’ll review the cover, galley, and publicity details.
Step 10) Done! I’ll go to eat some ice cream.
Rinse and repeat.
6. What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you, and how have you learned to make it easier for yourself?
The third time edit. I love my books. They are seriously my children. But have you ever had a child during a difficult stage that has temper tantrums over and over again, and you seriously can’t control them no matter how hard you try? Even parents need a “time out” sometimes where they have to go someplace alone and breathe, that way they can be a full and calm parent again. They still love their child, but they need a breather.
That’s how I feel about my third edit. Little mistakes slip in. I read all of my manuscripts out loud times, and my third time is my breaking point. Those words are “screaming” out at me. I feel sick of my story line and am mad at my characters. In order to deal with it, I will occasionally put my book in “limbo” again. That’s what happened with my sci-fi, and now it’s fine. If someone is waiting on the manuscript, then I give myself rewards for finishing it. I remind myself of the reasons why the book was written, even if by the third run I feel like I’m reading a terribly story.
7. Who are some of the authors that inspired you to start writing?
J.K. Rowling—I know that it’s silly, because everybody adores her. I just respect her grit. I mean, Harry Potter, one of the best books in human history in my opinion, almost didn’t happen. She was divorced and a single mom who couldn’t get a job, and she did something incredible during her hard times. She isn’t just a literary genius, she’s a person who deserves respect for not giving up. She deserves all of the wonderful things and the money that she’s received. If I can eventually become half of the woman that she is, then I’ll consider my life to be complete.
8. How did you decide on eBooks versus print books?
Actually, I go both ways on that. I would rather have my book be an eBook if it gets the time and attention that it deserves. I actually prefer paper if the publishers had an equally good staff, but nobody will buy an unknown print book, even if it’s on paper.
9. Why did you choose Musa Publishing instead of another ePublisher?
Dragon Night went to Musa Publishing because I adore Celina Summers, my editor who was over at Aspen Mountain Press. My book was picked up there, but I ended up declining and giving my manuscript to Musa. It was a great decision, even if Dragon Night never does make it to print. (Though I hope it will.) Musa has a fantastic team.
10. What are you working on next that readers can look forward to?
Well, Icy Tales of Draga is an interesting YA about aliens. I’m hoping that it will be picked up. I’m currently writing the novel that I mentioned before, Racing Death, and another book called Mirrors of Darkness. Mirrors of Darkness is about a boy who gets pulled into an alternate dimension by his little sister’s alter ego. His little sister’s alter ego wants him to kill himself. It’s all very interesting! I’m almost on the third edit during that one. *Gulp.*
You can purchase Dragon Night here.