Books

Feel the Holiday Spirit! Impromptu giveaway of Tad Williams’ upcoming book ‘The Heart of What Was Lost’!

Here I am, feeling very excited to hold this amazing book, and I can't wait to get it into your hands!
Here I am, feeling very excited to hold this amazing book, and I can’t wait to get it into your hands!

I’m feeling the holiday love today, and in the spirit of the season I decided to do an impromptu giveaway of a book that I’m finding is highly sought after before it’s January release: The Heart of What Was Lost by fantasy author superstar Tad Williams!

This book is the new book in his beloved Osten Ard series, and in case you’re not sure what it’s about, check out the summary below!

As a book reviewer I’m lucky enough to get a lot of amazing books in the mail, and I happen to have two copies of this, an ARC and an actual copy. That feels rather selfish for a book that so many people are craving, so, just for a few days, I’m doing a giveaway to win the ARC. It only lasts till 11:59 pm EST on Monday December 26th, because I want to get it in the mail first thing Tuesday for the winner to get and enjoy before the new year.

So! Rules! US only, sorry, I’m paying out of pocket for shipping. Be sure to enter below (past the summary) before 11:59 pm EST on Monday December 26th. And HAPPY HOLIDAYS, BOOK LOVERS!!!!! Spread the love when and however you can! <3

Book Summary:

downloadNew York Times-bestselling Tad Williams’ ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! 

The perfect introduction to the epic fantasy world of Osten Ard, The Heart of What Was Lost is Tad Williams’ follow-up to his internationally bestselling landmark trilogy. Osten Ard inspired a generation of modern fantasy writers, including George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Christopher Paolini, and defined Tad Williams as one of the most important fantasy writers of our time.

A NOVEL OF OSTEN ARD

At the end of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Ineluki the Storm King, an undead spirit of horrifying, demonic power, came within moments of stopping Time itself and obliterating humankind. He was defeated by a coalition of mortal men and women joined by his own deathless descendants, the Sithi.

In the wake of the Storm King’s fall, Ineluki’s loyal minions, the Norns, dark cousins to the Sithi, choose to flee the lands of men and retreat north to Nakkiga, their ancient citadel within the hollow heart of the mountain called Stormspike. But as the defeated Norns make their way to this last haven, the mortal Rimmersman Duke Isgrimnur leads an army in pursuit, determined to end the Norns’ attacks and defeat their ageless Queen Utuk’ku for all time.

Two southern soldiers, Porto and Endri, joined the mortal army to help achieve this ambitious goal—though as they venture farther and farther into the frozen north, braving the fierce resistance and deadly magics of the retreating Norns, they cannot help but wonder what they are doing so very far from home. Meanwhile, the Norns must now confront the prospect of extinction at the hands of Isgrimnur and his mortal army.

Viyeki, a leader of the Norns’ military engineers, the Order of Builders, desperately seeks a way to help his people reach their mountain—and then stave off the destruction of their race. For the two armies will finally clash in a battle to be remembered as the Siege of Nakkiga; a battle so strange and deadly, so wracked with dark enchantment, that it threatens to destroy not just one side but quite possibly all.

Trapped inside the mountain as the mortals batter at Nakkiga’s gates, Viyeki the Builder will discover disturbing secrets about his own people, mysteries both present and past, represented by the priceless gem known as The Heart of What Was Lost.

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Book Editorial, Books, Editorials

Author guest post: Tad Williams breaks the boundaries of writing through the genres

We featured author Tad Williams recently, and promised you a guest post. There was a schedule mixup, and so things got delayed. However, trust us, this guest post was worth the wait. We asked Tad to chat about what it’s like crossing into so many different genres over a lifetime’s career as a professional writer. We figured it anyone had good insights, it would have to be Tad. And so without further ado, here’s Tad!

****

TRANSGENRE

Another minority getting zero respect.

dragonbone chairOne of the most common questions I get is, “Hey, Tad, what’s with you and this changing genres stuff?  One day you’re doing epic fantasy, furry animals, science fiction, the next day you’re doing angels and devils.  You’re confusing us?  What’s the dealio?”

(Yes, people say “What’s the dealio?” to me all the time.  It’s one of the reasons that most mornings I wake up screaming.  The other is that I sleep with several pet hedgehogs, who are sharp and spiny and pokey.)

Now, the obvious answer is that as long as I keep changing genres, I will confuse readers and publishers and thus stay one step ahead of the big bucks.  Writing the same thing over and over again would lead to steadier sales, more recognition in market, and my wife and children not looking so gray and hungry — a bohemian’s nightmare.  But I have always had the courage to say “no” to consistency and good financial planning.

If I can be a bit more serious, though, it’s mostly a matter of perspective.

Perhaps because I have always read widely both inside and outside the world of science fiction and fantasy, I always find the idea that there are distinct genres of fantastic fiction somewhat confusing, or at least irritating.  Most of my favorite SF writers when I was growing up — Bradbury, Sturgeon, Le Guin, Zelazny, Ellison, Moorcock, and Leiber, to name a few — never seemed to care much about what sub-genre they were working.  Bradbury wandered back and forth between low-science, high-concept stories about Mars and outer space, and magical tales based in his small-town Illinois childhood.  If you’ve read work by the rest of that list, you’ll know they were all much the same.  They went after ideas, and the publishing industry of their era didn’t distinguish hugely between SF and Fantasy.  In fact, one of the earlier reviewers of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings called it “super Science Fiction!”

That’s because the division of the genre into two distinct sub-genres, SF and F, occurred mostly because of Tolkien himself and his phenomenal success.  It was essentially a commercial designation.  In that same era, the 60s and 70s, the influence of Robert E. Howard’s revived Conan stories brought on a third somewhat arbitrary sub-genre, “Sword and Sorcery”.  Later, the success of Stephen King encouraged a hard delineation between Horror and the rest of the field.  The common denominator was and is, “When something becomes popular, let’s publish a lot of it and mark it clearly as such, so readers don’t have to try different things.”  Makes perfect sense from a commercial point of view, I guess.  Not so much from the writer’s side.

Heck, the distinction of Science Fiction itself from fantastic fiction as a whole is quite recent.  Science Fiction barely existed until the early part of the 20th Century.

happy hour in hellBut there’s more to this problem than simply history and the narrowing, separating effect of modern marketing.  When you examine it closely enough, the entire genre of the fantastic, or speculative, or whatever you want to call it, is really all one genre anyway, a single continuous surface with folds that come and go, and are labeled according to the customs of the era.  Magic Realism?  It’s fantastic fiction.  Anything based around ideas that we think are unreal or extremely unlikely is a form of fantastic fiction.

(Some of us, the non-religious types, would include sources as far apart as the Iliad and Dante’s Paradiso, Purgatorio, and Inferno, but I don’t want to get into an argument about which myth-structures are really real, and which are just make-believe.)

The ancient Greeks loved superheroes like Hercules, and superheroes fight monsters.  The acknowledged Greatest Ever Writer of the English Language, Shakespeare, used fairies, witches, wizards, and the occasional monster himself, not to mention all the other tricks of genre fiction — mistaken identity, sword fights, gender confusion, and the race-against-the-clock.

This stuff has always been part of our literature, and Dickens’ ghosts are not a lot different than Poe’s Telltale Heart.  It’s all out there already, and it’s all part of  the history of fiction.

So how could a guy like me who grew up with Rat and Mole on the river, and Eeyore and Pooh discussing birthdays, and even the Cowardly Lion, not want to write a book about talking cats?

How could a guy like me who read Tolkien and William Morris and Eddison and Fletcher Pratt not want to write epic fantasies?

Similarly, I grew up reading Poe and Lovecraft and Shirley Jackson and M. R. James.  How could I not love horror?  I put it in all my work, and have even written a few short stories that are as pure examples of the (sub)genre as you can find.

And a guy like me who also grew up on Wells and Verne, on Asimov, Pohl, Heinlein and many others who were exploring the great outer frontiers of the future . . . of COURSE I’m going to want to write some science-fiction.

So to me, the latest foray into weirdness — angels and devils and the torments of Hell and whatnot in the Bobby Dollar books — is only a part of the larger world, a world too large to fit into any single genre, but which is nevertheless a genre itself: that is, the fantastic, the weird, the imaginary.

ALL fiction is imagination.  In our genre, we just admit that we’re making things up from the very beginning.  I love that freedom.  I love the many trails that have already been blazed, and but I also love trying to find places no one’s been yet.

To my publishers, my family, my frustrated readers who wish I’d just settle down and do one thing, I render my apologies.  I can’t: there’s too much to imagine, too many places to go.  I don’t want to be a science fiction writer, or a horror writer, or any other single thing.  I want to be a WRITER, and this writer likes to write about imaginary things.  When an idea comes, I have to follow it.  When a story wants to be written, well, even my editors and my hungry children have to be a bit patient with me sometimes.  I just tell the stories that make themselves known to me, I don’t decide which ones shove their way to the front of the line.

And if a reader of mine worriedly dips into a science fiction story by me, even though they normally don’t read science fiction, what’s the worst that can happen?  If they don’t like it, they can always put it down.  But if they do give it a try, maybe afterward they’ll want to try some other new stuff, and not just by me.  Maybe they’ll discover an entire universe of new ideas and great writers, half on accident.

There are worse ways to confuse people.

****

Thanks Tad! Be sure to follow tad on twitter and facebook, and check out his great website.

Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Tad Williams talks going to the dark places, writing, and other things in this exclusive interview!

Tad Williams fans, you’re in luck! Lytherus was able to snag this exclusive interview with the author. Tad talks about the world of Bobby Dollar, what it was like going to the dark places in Happy Hour in Hell, his writing routines, and more! Enjoy!

****

tad_williams_interviewFor fans who are unfamiliar with the Bobby Dollar series, can you give us a general description of this fun series?

Bobby is an earthbound angel (aka Doloriel) who argues on behalf of the recently deceased, to help them get into Heaven.  But politics quite often get in the way, especially when the conflict is as complicated and serious as the eons-old cold war between Heaven and Hell.  Bobby has always gone his own way, but with the first volume he finds himself in deeper than ever before, in a situation where he can’t even trust his own side, let alone the forces of Hell.  Oh, and it’s funny, too, and scary as well.  Lots of monsters, lots of jokes, lots of action.  What’s not to like?

You are best known for your epic fantasy with the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series and futuristic cyber-world in Otherland. What made you want to get into the gritty world of urban fantasy set in today’s world?

I’ve never thought of myself a particular type of writer, I’ve just written long stories, so it takes a while to see me change direction (kind of like an ocean liner).  Every form and every genre has things that make it especially fun. This time, I wanted to write something that was a) a bit faster-moving, and b) utilized a main character narration, like some noir fiction.  It gives me a chance to really get into the character’s head, and also to carry the reader along in a different way.

Why angels, heaven and hell? What drew you to these being the boundaries of fantasy in this series? And was it a challenge to decide where to put the boundaries of the ‘magic’?

I’m a world builder by inclination, so I can’t invent anything without trying to make it feel “real”.  Heaven vs Hell is interesting because it’s like the Cold War of the best espionage fiction, but bigger and wilder.  Also, these are the myths (if you see them that way) of our Western civilization, so I thought they’d be fun to play with.  As for how everything works, you have to keep reading to keep learning, but I aim for consistency and sense even when I’m inventing crazy stuff.

In book one you showed the readers some creepy and sometimes graphic things (we’re talking about hell, after all!), and in book two you take it to a whole new level of scary. How was it writing this for you? Fun? Did it keep you up at nights? Weird you out at all? Take us into the freaky inner workings of your mind as you created the darker sides of this series.

happy-hour-in-hell-ukActually, for me writing awful, horrible stuff is more of a writing discipline than a soul-searching exercise.   I’m just trying to keep my foot on the brake and the accelerator at the same time, pushing forward hard when the reader doesn’t want me to (without, I hope, completely alienating them) and slowing down just when they think they’re prepared for the next shock, to force them to wait in (a small amount of) discomfort.  I need to give them what they came for, but never just the way they expect, and with scary stuff that’s even more important, because surprise is one of the most important elements of any extreme effect.

As we delve further into Bobby Dollar’s world we see more and more that heaven and hell, good and evil, isn’t black and white. We see it in the relationship with Caz and Bobby, we see it with beings he meets and deals with on both sides. Why did you make the bending of these expected absolutes such a strong presence in the story (for example, I’d argue that one of the bigger questions you ask in book two is does the common sinner who has been sent to hell really deserve to be punished for all of eternity)?

Because when I build a world, I build it real.  I have always had these questions about the tenets of the modern Judeo-Christian religions, so how could I build a world where that seems to be the dominant paradigm without dealing with the weird inequalities and inconsistencies?  I’m writing a scary, funny sort-of-detective story, so I have to approach it with a little more scope than if I was writing for a Sunday School audience (or an atheist website, for that matter).  These questions are nearly automatic.  The answers, however, THAT’S the part nobody ever gets.  I’m trying to give them a few possibilities.

Tell us about your writing process. Writing big series, I think it’s safe to assume you outline. Is that a huge process with tons of detail, or do you just hash out the broad strokes and leave the finer details to the actual writing?

Most of my outlining takes place in small increments, and is mostly to keep timelines straight.  When I’m first beginning, I usually have to write some kind of broad outline for my publishers.  Other than that, I keep most of it in my head because it’s easier to make global changes that way: as soon as I write things down, they become more real, and then they’re harder for me to change, at least in my imagination.  And, really, that’s all I have.  So I like to keep stuff fluid and figure it out as I go along.

What’s your writing day like? Do you have a strict schedule you follow? Any funny author quirks or habits that help you in the process?

A general writing day will start with correspondence, social media, etc.  Then I have a good long stretch of thinking time, then (usually after lunch) I write.  With the Bobby Dollar books, which move fast, I shoot for a chapter a day.  With the bigger, more complicated stories I aim for anywhere from 1500 to 2000 words or so.  I have no funny quirks, except for my deep, deep hatred of work.  That’s kind of funny, since I wind up doing so much of it.

What books have you read recently that you’ve loved? We have tons of big readers on the site who are always looking for new books to read. 

I’m involved in a bunch of non-fiction, as usual, so I’m reading a great book on the history of the Central Asian steppes — Attila, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, sweeties like that  — plus other history, science, and several biographies.  (Most recent one finished was Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin.)  I found a cool book on forensic science for writers, which I’m enjoying.  I’m also re-reading some Cordwainer Smith (brilliant) and just finished a Lindsey Davis Falco novel (crime fiction set in Flavian Rome).  Oh, and re-reading Daniel Clowes’ comics, as I tend to do frequently because I love his work.  There are about five or six other books half-read around the house, but I’d have to find them to list them, since that’s pretty much always true with me so they sort of blur together in my mind.

What can you tell us about the next Bobby Dollar book? Any details you want to share? And what are you working on next – any new projects in the works?

The second book, Happy Hour in Hell, is just what it sounds like — Bobby goes to Hell — except it’s not happy and he’s there a lot longer than an hour.  Then the third, Sleeping Late on Judgement Day, wraps up most of the plot-threads from the first books, while leaving a few interesting puzzles unsolved, hopefully grist for further adventures in San Judas with Mr. Dollar.  Surprises will be had.  Mysteries will be solved.  Secrets will be revealed.  There’s a lot more Bobby D. coming if I have my way.  (Although I intend to do other projects, too!)

****

Thanks Tad! And what about you, readers? Did you enjoy the way book two went to a dark place? Or was it too much? Let us know in the comments!

Curious about Tad? Check him out on twitter, facebook, and at his website. And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a one of three copies of Happy Hour in Hell and a set of both Bobby Dollar books all week long!

Book Events, Books, Events

Giveaway: Three copies of ‘Happy Hour in Hell’ by Tad Williams & a set of both Bobby Dollar books!

happy hour in hellAs part of the Tad Williams featured author week, we’re giving away three copies of his new book Happy Hour in Hell, along with one set of both Bobby Dollar books (The Dirty Streets of Heaven and Happy Hour in Hell)!

Our giveaway is simple. Unfortunately, it’s open to residents of North America only (sorry, international fans!). If you’re under 18, please make sure to get your parents’ permission to enter the giveaway. You can earn a total of six entries in the giveaway:

  • ONE entry for simply entering the giveaway
  • TWO entries for following us on Twitter
  • TWO entries for “liking” us on Facebook
  • ONE entry for talking about the giveaway on Twitter

The giveaway will stay open until Tuesday, September 10th, at 12:01 am. Winners will automatically be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The first name of each winner will be announced on this post and winners will be contacted by a member of our staff to begin the process of shipping out your prize.

Good luck, and don’t forget to enter in both contests!

Enter below to win a copy of Happy Hour in Hell!

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Enter below to win a set of both Bobby Dollar books!
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Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Review: Tad Williams goes to dark, creepy and awesome places in ‘Happy Hour in Hell’

Bobby Dollar is back! Tad Williams released his second book in this series today, Happy Hour in Hell. This time the earthly angel advocate isn’t just trying to save his own behind while trying to figure out a mystery … well, he sort of is. But this time he also heads down into the depths of Hell itself to save his demon girlfriend Caz from the clutches of her evil ex and hell lord. This book is packed with the same humor, creep-factor, and internal morality that readers enjoyed in book one, but even more so in book two.

What’s it about? Here’s the summary from amazon, in Bobby’s own words:

happy hour in hellI’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m
actually going.

My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel,
and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me—I’m an angel. They
don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they
have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess
of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not
because it helps my career.

She’s being held hostage by one of the
nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld—Eligor, Grand Duke of
Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on
me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal
body.

But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell,
make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pan-
demonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out
from under Eligor’s burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers,
hellhounds, and all the murderous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And
even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, I’m also being stalked by an undead
psychopath named Smyler who’s been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention
that he can’t be killed?

So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand
Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, I’ll still
be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. Gotta have
something to look forward to, right?

So just pour me that damn drink,
will you? I’ve got somewhere to go.

Tad’s first book in this series, The Dirty Streets of Heaven, laid a great foundation for book two. But whereas book one had more detective elements, book two has a more classic “hero takes a journey” element, which I adore. Yes, he still has some mysterious things happening (including figuring out why an impossible-to-kill man/creature is after him), but for me the road through hell to rescue Caz, and all the experiences and questions that came with it, was the highlight of the book.

I also love how Tad bends the expected black and white nature of heaven and hell. Nothing in these books is absolute. There are some pretty decent people stuck in hell, and this begs the question, do they really deserve to suffer for all of eternity? Tad started blurring these lines in book one when a non-trustable demon and an angel of heaven came together, and these questions continue to be raised in the second book, but on a much bigger scale. Without giving too much away, I was surprised at how much this escalated, and it made me think, which for me is a sign of a good book.

Let’s not forget  the creeptastic-ness that is Happy Hour in Hell. Tad throws some intense and graphic stuff at the readers on occasion, but for me it made things feel more real, even in the unfamiliar elements of hell. I think he nails it, really takes the reader to a dark, gritty, sad place.

Fans of book one will definitely enjoy revisiting this world and these characters, and Tad delivers them in a most wonderful fashion in a way that only a Bobby Dollar book can do. Plus, there’s the whole creepy Hell thing. It’s kind of awesome.

Happy Hour in Hell comes out today, Tuesday September 3rd, 2013.

Book Editorial, Book Events, Book Interviews, Book Reviews, Books, Editorials, Events, Featured Author Week, Interviews, Reviews

Featured author week: Tad Williams (‘Happy Hour in Hell’) visits Lytherus!

tad williams featured week

Tad Williams, author of the Happy Hour in Hell, book two in the Bobby Dollar series, will be joining us this week for reviews, an interview, a guest post, and an awesome giveaway!

Happy Hour in Hell is out this week, continuing the story that The Dirty Streets of Heaven began. What’s it about? Check out below:

happy hour in hellI’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m actually going. 

My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me—I’m an angel. They don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not because it helps my career.

She’s being held hostage by one of the nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld—Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal body.

But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell, make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pan- demonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out from under Eligor’s burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers, hellhounds, and all the murderous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, I’m also being stalked by an undead psychopath named Smyler who’s been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention that he can’t be killed?

So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, I’ll still be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. Gotta have something to look forward to, right?

So just pour me that damn drink, will you? I’ve got somewhere to go.

Here’s a breakdown of this week’s featured author articles:

  • Monday (September 2nd): Introduction to the Tad Williams Featured Author Week
  • Tuesday (September 3rd): Review of Happy Hour in Hell
  • Wednesday (September 4th): Giveaway!
  • Thursday (September 5th): Exclusive interview with Tad Williams
  • Friday (September 6th): Guest post with Tad Williams

Looking for more to read? View our past archive of featured authors, with a stellar lineup including Lev Grossman, Stefan Bachmann, Colleen Houck, and more!

Book News, Books, News

Book to Movie News: Tad Williams’s OTHERLAND Series Coming to the Big Screen!

Fans of cyberpunk, here’s some good news: Tad Williams’s Otherland series is coming to the big screen!

Warner Brothers just acquired the rights to the entire Otherland series, which is to be made into a set of films. There are four books, set in a futuristic world. Here’s a summary by sciencefiction.com:

The first book revolves around a world where normal people are able to plug themselves into a massive virtual reality simulation known as “The Net”. The Net is sort of like the world of ‘The Matrix’ except that anything can happen. With such a playground at people’s disposal, it’s easy to see why everyone would plug in every day. But The Net may not be all that it seems. Children, who have been plugged into The Net, begin popping up comatose. Now it’s up to Irene “Renie” Sulaweyo, a virtual engineering instructor, to discover the meaning behind the children’s illnesses. As Renie begins pulling strings, a vast tapestry of virtual (and real) conspiracies emerge.

The first film is set to be produced by Dan Lin (who produced the second Sherlock Holmes film), and written by John Scott III. No predicted date has been announced.

Want to read the books before the films come out? The books, in order, are:

Book News, Books, News

Discussion with Tad Williams

Penguin.com in their Water Cooler series this week interviewed Epic Fantasy mastermind Tad Williams. He’s had numerous best-sellers, including the Shadowmarch series, which the most recent book,Shadowheart, was released on November 30th.

The chat interview was live on their site last night, December 9th, at 9pm EST. Here is the link to the entire interview. It’s a really cool and informative, with him discussing and answering fan questions about his books, characters, and other fun things (it reminds me a bit of the Christopher Paolini Random Buzzers Q&A that you can view condensed into three parts on our sister site Shurtugal.com).

Enjoy!

[via penguin.com]