Across the Pond : Interview with Sarah-Jane Lehoux

masquerade book coverAs a fan of the Sevy books I am eagerly awaiting the third of the series which comes out 26th February 2013. I persuaded the author, Sarah-Jane Lehoux, to answer a few of my questions about Sevy, the books and what the future might hold.

1. While Sevy is a definitely flawed lead character she is also a strong female who doesn’t need or want to rely on others to survive. I get the feeling strong female characters are something you feel passionate about yes?

Yes, I’m definitely pro-strength in female characters. There’s been too many years of too much media that portrays women as little more than arm candy, and I’m glad that so many authors are trying to change that stereotype. But it’s not that I want every single female character to be kick-ass fighters; rather, I want them to be realistic people. Women in real life are varied in the strengths and weaknesses they possess, so I think it’s only fair that this is reflected in the characters we create. Same thing goes for male characters. It’s about subverting traditional gender roles and allowing people to be who they are, instead of what society expects them to be.

2. After three books do you think Sevy’s story is told?

Nope. Sevy’s story is far from over. I have two more books in the series in the works that feature Sevy as a main character. And you never know—I love the universe, so maybe I’ll write more books in the future where Sevy will make cameos. She’s a complex chick who’s done a lot of personal growth, but who still needs more time to sort her shit out.

3. I love the way the three books have such different settings which, I feel, affect the language and tone of each. What drove you to write them this way?

Everything I write is inspired by my dreams. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. I have a sleep disorder that causes extremely vivid, bizarre dreams that stick with me long after I’ve woken up. I use the imagery and themes from these dreams as the basis for my stories. For example, I dreamed of a cold, wintery landscape with a hut with a lot of furs and fires, which became the basis of Sevy’s home village of Willing’s Cove, which is a mix of Nordic and Inuit cultures. Shades of War was inspired by a crazy dream I had about a screaming monkey, a woman’s bloody shoe, and a blue and red snake slithering through a jungle. As for Masquerade, all I can remember is water, sand and leering faces. Generally, I’ll take bits and pieces from multiple dreams to create one story.

When I first realized that Sevy’s story could not be contained to one single novel, I wanted to make the series as diverse and innovative as possible. Rather than relying on a traditional European medieval environment, I thought it would be so much more interesting if I mixed up the world and the cultures as much as I could.

4. So these books are crying out for a movie script. Who would you cast as Sevy in the movie?

Ooooh, this is something I often day-dream about. I have Sevy narrowed down to Rhona Mitra or Noomi Rapace. Both of these actors are amazing, so I think they could pull off Sevy’s tumultuous temper without turning it into a farce. I also want someone with a strong face that isn’t exactly pretty but is interesting, and small breasts are a must! If they ever make a movie and they cast some buxom beauty as Sevy, I think I might cry.

5. What would be your ideal day as a writer?

Waking up to a lovely homemade breakfast, which I can eat at leisure while I pursue fan mail Smile with tongue out Then, ideally, to be able to write, uninterrupted, for hours at a time. It’d be nice if I could put aside the worries and stress of life long enough each day to get a novel done in half the time it usually takes me.

6. Now that the book’s out and once the promotion work is done (and you’ve maybe found time to relax) what plans are you plotting for the future?

I’ll be taking a nice break from all things writerly for at least two weeks after the bulk of promotion for Masquerade is done. Then I have to decide which of three WIPs to work on first. I have a horror, a comedic fantasy, and a YA paranormal that I’ve already started. I think I’ll go with the YA paranormal, since I’m already around 30K, but we’ll just have to wait and see what catches my attention first.

Watch the video trailer then go and order from Mundania Press (available as dead-tree and e-formats)

Across the Pond : Review of Hathor Diaries

Based very loosely on the the Danger Days universe from My Chemical Romance’s album of 2010 Ren has taken the idea and created a slew of exciting characters and engrossing storyline. Her unique style and creative imagination has given us a fresh and thought-provoking tale.

Amber is a runner, orphaned, alone and trying to survive in the desolate sandlands created by the Rei Wars. Each day is a struggle to find food or precious water whilst evading the Zoids who hunt down renegades to take back as workers … or worse. Her luck seems to change when she discovers a trailer with supplies, however, meeting the stranger Red was not on her agenda. Nor was what followed.

Overcoming problems together they find themselves thrown together and searching for allies. They plan to infiltrate and destroy Bastet City where the Wizard seems to hold thrall and the inhabitants are compliant users of Soma-Joy. Naturally things do not go to plan but the allies find help from an unlikely source.

Ren’s prose is beautifully crafted, I’ve read this book through twice now and each time found fresh pleasure in the vivid descriptions and lively dialogue.

Find Ren on Twitter or her blog where she is in the process of writing her second novel, Pitchfork Red.


Across the Pond : bright/night

I asked on Twitter for a writing prompt the other day and my good friend and great writer @SarahJaneLehoux responded with a first line. This is the beginnings of a story that somehow my brain won’t continue – yet. 

It was a dark and stormy night, except that it was daytime and sunny. Rolfe jumped from brightside to nightside and wondered at the strangeness of living on this new world where half the planet always faced the sun while the other half was in perpetual darkness apart from the starlight of the unending universe.

‘Come back here Rolfe,’ his mother’s strident call echoed around the clearing and he obeyed quickly. No point in getting told off just before her tasty cooking was brought to the table. He stumbled over tree roots as he moved away from the nightside, unaware of two sets of pale eyes watching him from the shadows. His parents were not happy about being this close to the nightside, folks were odd over there, but trade was trade and night folks were fair in their dealings. Plus they had certain items that fetched a good profit in brightside markets.

Rolfe wasn’t sure what woke him. He was tucked up with his parents in the night-room and it was too early for the artificial sunrise to kick in. As quietly as a gawky teenager can be he slipped out of the door. Shading his eyes from the sudden glare Rolfe gazed around the campsite, everything seemed normal but something was tapping his senses on the shoulder to get his attention. Rolfe decided to do a circuit, even as a young teenager he had family responsibilities and he was conscientious.

It wasn’t until he returned to the night-room that he found it.

Marked on the door was a weird sigil. Rolfe traced it with his finger, the lingering dampness made his finger tingle and he hastily wiped it on his night robe. Unsure what to do he returned to his bed to wait for the proper waking time. Snuggling under the blanket he slept.

“Come on lazy, time to get moving.” Rolfe yawned and opened one eye to see his mother laughing at him. “You been at the soporifics in my medicine chest young man?”

“No mam, just didn’t sleep well.”

“Well make a move, we have lots to do today. Market day tomorrow.”

Rolfe clambered out of bed and ran out of the room after his mam. “Hey, mam. I remembered.”

“Remembered what son?” Rolfe’s pa sat with a mug of java gazing over the morning news.

“Something woke me last night, when I went to look someone had drawn a sign on the door.”

“A sign? Let’s be having a look then.”

Rolfe and his parents opened the door of their caravan but there was nothing on the door. The sigil Rolfe swore was there last night had gone.

Across the Pond : RATS!

Lurking around Google+ a few weeks ago, I saw a plea for help from Uri Kurlianchik. He wanted voiceovers for a video to promote the fundraising for his RPG game. My daughter got involved and I thought you guys would like to see what Uri is planning.

RATS! is a satiric role playing game chronicling the rats’ awakening and subsequent holy war against modern humanity, other animals, each othe,r and numerous inanimate objects as well. Players take on the role of intelligent rats who participate in various insanely dangerous, or just plain insane, missions to further the rodent cause.

Using streamlined mechanics based on third edition d20, RATS! allows the rapid creation and decimation of rat characters. There are thirteen diverse cultures, three elite cultures, six races, twenty starting habitats, and a gazillion feats, skills and mutations (inspired by a hundred years of misunderstanding radiation) to customize characters. Thus, while characters are very simple to create and play, they are highly diverse.

There are no classes or levels. Rat characters advance by gaining new abilities and mutations, which are bought directly with XP, and by growing in size. A sufficiently experienced character is a right proper ratzilla. There are no hit points, either. Every time your character is hit, a consequence is rolled. These range from the embarrassing (you make an undignified sound) to the horrifying (you blow up like a watermelon in a Gallagher show). This means that you gain mutilations and scars even as you grow in fame and power.

Players can take on the roles of heroic rats on a grand quest to make the world a rattier place, or manage packs for many litters, placing the good of the collective before their own (yeah right!). Rats can also be used as antagonists in a human-starring horror or science fiction campaign, but that’s a really mean and unfair thing to do.

Rats can be found on Facebook

Help fund Rats

Across the Pond : Q&A with Rafael Chandler

I reviewed Hexcommunicated last week and was lucky enough to chat with Rafael after I had read his book.

Hi Rafael, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Q. Being a science fan, though not necessarily understanding much of it, I was interested in your ideas for human ‘enhancements’. Do you think we will ever do anything like that outside of literature and would you think it ethical to do so?

A. Some of the inspiration for my novel’s Force Amplified Entity (FAE) enhancements came from the US military’s Future Force Warrior program, which envisioned armored exoskeletons, nanotech enhancements, and liquid body armor. Other augmentations mentioned in the novel, such as the extracellular matrix enhancements, are also based (albeit very loosely) on actual projects.

I’m not how long it will be before someone develops exoskeletons that grant superhuman strength to soldiers, but given the events of the past decade, I can see no good resulting from placing such technology in the hands of the military. The idea is frightening, actually.

Q. Who or what are your inspirations?

A. Clive Barker is a phenomenal writer, and he’s also worked as a playwright, a movie director, a comic book creator, and an artist. He’s created legendary works that transcend genre, like his novel Imajica, and he’s left an indelible mark on modern horror fiction. I admire him immensely. And he needs to hurry the hell up and release The Scarlet Gospels.

Q. Describe your typical writing set up.

A. Depends on my mood. Some days, I sit down with a notebook and scribble. Other days, I set up the treadmill desk and hammer out text while trundling along at 3mph. Then there are days when I feel like going outside to see what the real world looks like, and I stumble through some hiking trail in hundred-degree humidity while muttering into a digital recorder, swatting mosquitos and watching for mambas. And then sometimes I just sit down and write with my headphones on, blasting black metal (Lord Belial), death metal (Amon Amarth), or thrash metal (Evile). I’ve been writing full-time for about a decade, so I switch things up to keep it interesting.

Q. The ending left some questions, are you thinking about a sequel or do you like to think of your readers imagining their own possibilities?

A. Hextermination (Agent Tepes, Book 2) is underway, and it will answer many questions. Various loose threads will be tied up in Grand Guignol style, but new problems will emerge.

Q. What question do you wish I had asked you?

A. Hmm. Interesting question! It’s always fun to talk about my career as a video game writer, so had you asked me about the differences between writing a video game and a novel, I would have talked a little about that. The short version is, video games are written by committee (even if there’s only one writer on the team), and novels are typically written by a single author.

Thanks for giving me a chance to chat with you!

Across the Pond : Serenity Forever Convention

Heads up to all readers on the British side of the pond.

Starfury Events have announced “Serenity Forever” convention September 13 – 15th 2013 in London. Allegedly first confirmed guest is Jewel Staite. I now have to save up as I am determined to attend this one – it’ll be my first convention.

There’s nothing on the Starfury website as yet but there is a Facebook event. I tweeted about it and got confirmation that it is definitely on. I’ll update as I find out more.

Across the Pond : Review of Hexcommunicated

I’ve been reading and reviewing outside of my “comfort-zone” lately and, with “Hexcommunicated”, I find myself yet again jealous of the wealth of different ideas out there that deserve recognition.

Agent Tepes is a Hex agent, a Forced Amplified Entity in service to his country. Yet when he discovers a dangerous threat he finds himself on the wrong side of the law fighting to survive and save his country. Sounds a familiar plot, yet the characters and ideas make this something different.

Hexcommunicated, the debut novel by Rafael Chandler, has vampires and werewolves, but not in the way you’d imagine. Government-funded secret medical experiments have led to genetically modified humans, FAEs, created for the purposes of … well whatever nefarious purposes governments have.

The plot is convoluted but not confusing and I enjoyed seeing the characters worm their ways out of various situations. Rafael certainly put a lot of thought into how the story was going to play out and manages to keep you guessing – right to the end and beyond.

Even though fundamentally he is a killer with various personality problems Tepes still managed to make me worry about the outcome of his day – he’s supposed to die according to a psychic vision. I don’t give spoilers though so don’t ask what happens. You can buy the book (e-version & dead-tree) from various sources, all of which are listed on the author’s website.

As Blackadder might say, this book twists & turns like a twisty-turny thing, but it’s fun & exciting and you should totally go buy it.

Look out for my short Q & A with Rafael next week.

Across the Pond: Review of Exhumed

Exhumed is the fourth book in the “Demons of Oblivion” series by Skyla Dawn Cameron. Read an overview of the first three here.

Each of the first three books are told from a different character’s perspective. The first introduced us to Zara Lain, a sassy vampire assassin. She had a job to do, and her reputation was on the line, so she completed her assignment … sort of.

Her “assignment” has now awoken. A little sooner than expected. With problems she had never foreseen.

The trouble was, Zara had collected the payment–the rather large payment–then proceeded to build her reputation on a completed task that wasn’t really completed. People are not going to be pleased.

Together with her cohorts (not friends; definitely not friends) Zara now has to resolve unforeseen problems, defend her reputation, and deal with the unexpected plot twists that Ms. Cameron’s (evil) imagination created.

I set aside an evening to finish this book, I knew that once I was into the story I’d be reluctant to put it down. I was right.

Read my interview with Skyla.

Purchase (for a very reasonable price) from Mundania Press – dead-tree and various electronic versions available.

Author, Artist, Editor
New series website:
Mundania Press LLC

Blog at

Up ↑