Guest Post – Noir Fantasy: Cynicism in a World of Magic by R. S. Belcher (plus GIVEAWAY of The Night Dahlia)
Giveaway , Guest Post / April 3, 2018

Today we are excited to host an guest post from R. S. Belcher, author of The Night Dahlia. Sub genres can feel somewhat nebulous at times, so we are very grateful and happy to help get this clearer explanation on what differentiates Noir Fantasy. And as an added bonus, we also have a GIVEAWAY, so be sure to scroll to the bottom and enter. Noir Fantasy: Cynicism in a World of Magic by R.S. Belcher Before we get our knuckles bloody, I wanted to thank the wonderful folks at the Speculative Herald for the privilege of allowing me time and space to talk about the genre of Noir Fantasy and about my new book, The Night Dahlia, coming out April 3rd from Tor Books. The Night Dahlia is the second novel in my “Nightwise” series. The Nightwise books are Noir Fantasy (with some Hardboiled genre thrown in too, but that’s a post for another day). But what exactly distinguishes Noir Fantasy from say Urban Fantasy? In one word, one of my favorite words: cynicism. Noir’s origin references back to a 1945 french pulp magazine and to crime movies of the 1940s and 50s. I think the noir atheistic may have come…

EXCERPT: Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe by Marshall Ryan Maresca (Plus GIVEAWAY!)
Guest Post / March 5, 2018

Today we are excited to host an excerpt of LADY HENTERMAN’S WARDROBE by Marshall Ryan Maresca. Of Maresca’s three series, I have to confess that this one is my favorite so far. I mean, thieves and heists and a criminal underground? It’s just absolute fun. And as an added bonus, we also have a giveaway for THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW, the first in this series. EXCERPT FROM LADY HENTERMAN’S WARDROBE By Marshall Ryan Maresca About the Book About the Author Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives in Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage     Giveaway

Guest Post: Gareth L. Powell Shares Five SF Books That Influenced Embers of War
Guest Post / February 19, 2018

Five Books That Influenced Embers of War By Gareth L. Powell  With my latest novel, Embers of War, I’ve returned to one of my favourite subgenres: space opera. The story follows the exploits of the sentient warship Trouble Dog as she gets embroiled in a plot to conceal the true contents of an ancient alien vault. As a lifelong reader of stories set in space, I knew some of those books would inevitably end up influencing my writing. After all, we’re all made up of everything we’ve ever consumed. So, after much thought, I’ve prepared this list of the books I feel had the biggest impact.   1. NOVA by Samuel Delany Set a thousand years into the future, NOVA tells the story of Lorq Von Ray, last scion of a powerful and rich dynasty, and his quest to harvest the rare mineral illyrion from the core of an imploding sun. He believes a cargo hold filled with illyrion will be enough to tip the balance of power between Earth and the quasi-independent Pleiades Federation. Operating on several levels, the book explores Von Ray’s childhood and current quest, and relates them to Arthurian Grail lore, while also using the literary…

Guest Post: Shared Settings by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Guest Post / October 3, 2017

Today we are happy to welcome Marshall Ryan Maresca to The Speculative Herald. His latest book, The Imposters of Aventil, releases today (October 3, 2017) and is the final book in the Maradaine trilogy, but also ties in with another one of his current series, which share a setting. Mr. Maresca was kind enough to share a blog post about what makes shared settings work. Also, if you have not yet started this series, don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY below! DAW was kind enough to offer up one copy of the first book, The Thorn of Dentonhill, for a giveaway! (Who doesn’t want to read about a vigilante magic student??) Shared Settings and The Imposters of Aventil  By Marshall Ryan Maresca   The Imposters of Aventil is the third Novel of Maradaine.  It’s also the sixth novel set in the city of Maradaine, because the “Novels of Maradaine” is just one of the three series set in that fantastical, magical clockpunk city.   Of late— by which I mean in the past decade— we’ve seen a lot more of the idea of several different series taking place in a shared universe.  It really is nothing new, but like many things in…

Guest Post: Tents, Saws, and Ether: Civil War Medicine by Eric Scott Fischl
Guest Post / February 9, 2017

Today we are excited to welcome Eric Scott Fischl to The Speculative Herald. His book Dr Potter’s Medicine Show, released February 7, 2017. Be sure to check out the details below, it’s a post-cival war featuring quite an interesting cast of characters! Tents, Saws, and Ether: Civil War Medicine by Eric Scott Fischl   The eponymous protagonist of my novel DR POTTER’S MEDICINE SHOW, Dr Alexander Potter, is a former Civil War surgeon.  A haunted man, he’s the self-professed “fastest man with a bone-saw in the Hospital Corps”.  As a history aficionado, I went into the book thinking I had a fairly reasonable understanding of what medicine and surgery was like during the war; namely, I had visions of filth-caked surgeons hacking limbs off with saws, while the unfortunate patient was held down by burly men, a Minié ball jammed into his mouth to bite on.  When I started researching the book, though, I learned that that image, while having some veracity, was only partly true.  I’m a fiction writer, and not a historian, and there were a few items that were not quite as historically accurate that I chose to keep in the book for purposes of story.  The real…

Guest Post: Doing the Dark Pop Apocalyptic Genre Hop by Christopher Hinz
Guest Post / November 11, 2016

Today we are excited to welcome Christopher Hinz to The Speculative Herald!      His latest book, Binary Storm is published by Angry Robot and is out now. A streetwise computer wiz, his politically savvy girlfriend and a tormented supersoldier form an uneasy alliance to stop assassins existing simultaneously in two bodies from threatening the world with apocalypse. The standalone novel serves as a prequel to the more distant future of “Liege-Killer” and the Paratwa Saga.   DOING THE DARK POP APOCALYPTIC GENRE HOP By Christopher Hinz   About the Author Christopher Hinz is the author of five science fiction books. Liege-Killer won the Compton Crook Award for best first novel and was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. He has written screenplays and a graphic novel, scripted comics for DC and Marvel, and has worked as a newspaper reporter and technical administrator of a small TV station. You can find Christopher online at his website:     About the Book

Guest Post: Into the Depths By Fran Wilde
Guest Post / September 27, 2016

Today we are excited to welcome Fran Wilde to The Speculative Herald. She is here to tell us about all the fascinating (and potentially bad) things that can happen with altitude changes. Her latest book, Cloudbound, releases today, and unfortunate for her characters, they are faced with the altitude change from heading down to the clouds in this book. Into the Depths By Fran Wilde   While Updraft (Tor 2015) is a pretty level novel — flying-wise — Cloudbound (Tor 2016) does exactly what it says on the tin… by heading into the clouds. In this case, vertical worldbuilding became an important part of the characters’ plight, and very quickly, because: science!   How does a high-altitude culture experience a plunge into the depths? My research suggested a couple of potential reactions, and follow-up discussions with several physicians helped support this.   One reaction was a variation on over-oxygenation, hyperoxia, or oxygen intoxication, where the brain gets a rush of unexpected 02 – much more than it’s used to, and too quickly. Side effects can include: disorientation, breathing problems, and vision changes such as myopia. Other observed effects of more oxygen than normal can include elation, a natural high, and/or…

Guest Post: Marc Turner with Five Fantasy Tropes That Should Be Consigned To History
Guest Post / September 19, 2016

Today, we welcome Marc Turner to talk about Tropes! Namely, those top 5 overused Tropes. Marc’s latest book, Red Tide, is the final book in The Chronicles of the Exile trilogy and releases tomorrow! Five Fantasy Tropes That Should Be Consigned To History   As an author, you need to be careful when talking about fantasy tropes. If I were to make an exhaustive list of tropes, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single book in the genre that didn’t contain at least one of them. Most would contain several – but not my own, of course.   Ahem.   Obviously, not all tropes are “bad”. If we define a trope as being a significant or recurrent theme in the genre, then you’d have to include dragons in that, wouldn’t you? And I, for one, will never tire of dragons. You might even find one or two lurking in my new book Red Tide.   Also, a good writer can do something new with a trope and keep it interesting. For example, I’ve lost count of the number of wizard schools I’ve seen. There were three alone on my walk into town this morning. Yet I enjoyed reading about the University…

Interview: Christopher Buehlman
Guest Post , Interview / July 1, 2016

Today, we are welcoming Christopher Buehlman, one of my favorite, must read authors. His latest books, The Suicide Motor Club, recently and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should (along with the rest of Buehlman’s books). If you need more convincing, see our review of The Suicide Motor Club.  Thanks so much for joining us today!!   So, I’m going to start off asking about ants. Yep. Ants. Readers are probably scratching their heads, but we’ll clue them in. I hate to admit it, but when I read your book, I had no idea there were ants that smelled, much less what they smelled like. I know. I had complete and utter olfactory ignorance when it came to ants but my good friend Google helped me out a bit. So, to help clear this up for any other potential readers that share my olfactory ignorance, What DO ants smell like?   As any boy (or tomboy) in North America will tell you, common black ants have a pungent, acrid scent when fucked with. This has to do with the chemicals they produce to warn others they’re under attack, and to kill microbes. That smell is strong, memorable…

Guest Post: Worldbuilding for a Fantasy Series by Anna Kashina
Guest Post / June 7, 2016

Today we welcome Anna Kashina, whose latest book Assassin Queen is out today.  She’s here to talk about her experience with worldbuiling! ______________________________________________________________ Worldbuilding for a fantasy series. My just-released novel, “Assassin Queen”, the concluding book 3 of the “Majat Code” series, is a historical adventure fantasy featuring political intrigue, swordplay, and elements of romance. I had lots of fun creating these series. Much of this creative work went into worldbuilding, which seemed so natural at the time, but also ended up being fairly systematic. Today, I wanted to share the key steps of this process, which has become both my enjoyment and my routine and taught me so much building new fantasy worlds. I planned out the “Majat Code” world as the blend of East and West, which reflects my own origin from Russia, a true melting pot for eastern and western cultures. The setting in the “Majat Code” resembles medieval Europe, but with a lot of Asian elements – such as the ninja-like fighting style of the Majat warriors. This concept became my starting point, on which I built the rest. After writing a few opening scenes I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to get any…