Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Sabitha: F.K. Marlowe joins us to tell us about her books and free flash fiction. F.K., what kind of stories do you tell?

F.K.: I write horror with a paranormal twist, and YA fantasy with fangs and sass.

Sabitha: What inspired your current work in progress?

F.K.: I’m amazed how many horror stories I’ve released into the wild. This is my attempt to corral them.

Pennies for Charon is a nice fat collection of my horror stories, some already published, some brand new. It’s packaged in a frame narrative about a vengeful sybil who’s been trapped in a bottle for three millennia and is rather miffed about it. To revive her powers, she sneaks into Charon’s shack while he’s punting dead souls across the river Styx, then steals and eats the “pennies” hoarded there. Each penny is a story collected from one of his passengers, and as the sybil digests them, she absorbs their emotions. Since they are horror stories, the emotions are predictably dark, and you can guess where that might lead, for an already twisted soul!

Sabitha: That sounds delightfully dark! What’s your writing process for horror?

F.K.: Mercurial chaos! Like a magpie, I’m attracted by anything shiny, including new ideas, so my writing folder is a jumble of scattered thoughts and plots in various stages of development. It sounds unproductive, but I don’t often suffer from writer’s block – if something’s not working, I just skip onto the next idea. I can’t sit down to write without a cuppa though.

Sabitha: Can’t get anything done without tea! If you could pick any author to read your book, who would you want to read it? Why them?

F.K.:  Neil Gaiman! His imagination seems to spark endlessly. Wouldn’t he be fantastic company on a long plane flight?

Sabitha: When you picture your ideal reader, what are they like?

F.K.: I’m sitting in a cozy pub with them, spinning a tale over a pint, in front of a roaring fire. It’s raining outside, and we’ve a long evening ahead of us. As I tell them my story, I can see them chuckling along with some parts, clutching the arms of their chair at others. When I finish, they sit there quietly, considering, then ask me questions that make me think about my own story in a completely new way. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Sabitha: It sounds just about perfect. What do you most want your readers to take away from reading your book?

F.K.: Firstly, simple enjoyment. Beyond that, I believe everyone recreates the stories they read in a whole new way based on their history and experiences. So, readers say, “Hey, X character represents idea Y, right?” and it’ll be an exciting, different slant that deepens my original idea in ways I’d never anticipated. So, creating something in their own imaginations. If they’re kind enough to tell me about it, well, that’s just the best buzz in the world.

Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

F.K.: My Amazon page is here. I post a free flashfiction horror with an audio version each month on my website. Tell me what ideas my stories gave you on Twitter under my alias ‘The BelleDame’! 

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Cover of Eyes on the Blue Star

Sabitha: Today we’ll talk to Dewi Hargreaves about his new release, Eyes on the Blue Star. Tell us about your experimental dystopian novel!

Dewi: My new book, Eyes on the Blue Star, came out a week before Christmas! It’s a short dystopian novel set in far-future America, long after the fall of the United States. Our modern world is little more than myth, and the US has been replaced by regional successor states, some democracies and some dictatorships, with the anarchic Ganglands lying between them. We follow the stories of an ex-mercenary, a teenager, and a freedom fighter as they make their way east to Bostonia in search of a better life.

Sabitha: That’s such fascinating world building. Can you tell us about your writing process for a novel?

Dewi: My process changes between stories depending on the project, but right now I’m having the most success with writing out a scene-by-scene outline before I begin and then following that – it keeps things on track and minimises the need for rewriting.

Sabitha: Do you have a “fan-cast” – do you have actors you’d cast as your main characters?

Dewi: Ooh, that’s a fun question. I don’t think much about how characters look when I’m writing – beyond the general details like build, hair colour, age etc—but I think Henry Cavill could play a brilliant Housen—the ex-mercenary character who wants to settle down and start a family. I could see Kirsten Dunst doing a good job as Ryley, too—the tough, witty rebel who is working underground to overthrow the Governor-General’s dictatorship. They spend a lot of the book together, and I would love to see those two actors traversing a post-apocalyptic world together.

Sabitha: What book do you tell all your friends to read? Besides yours of course!

Dewi: There are so many—too many, probably! At the moment it’s A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R R Martin, which is a collection of three heroic fantasy novellas—they’re brilliant examples of how to write neat, tidy short fantasy fiction, so I recommend it for that reason alone—though the Games of Thrones-ness is an added bonus.

Sabitha: How did you choose the title?

Dewi: It took some choosing! For most of the drafting process it was known as Bostonia, which is the name of one of the successor states. When it was finished I brainstormed a few names, including We, the People, but in the end I settled on the Eyes on the Blue Star because it is the catchphrase of the rebel group in the story who are trying to restore democracy, and I liked the sense of hope in bleak times that it evokes.

Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

Dewi: Night Beats readers can find purchase links for the book over at my website, and from there they can find the Amazon link for their country! And they can find me across the internet in various places. This link collects my website, social media, and book links all on one nice, neat page.

Sausage and Potatoes paired with A Man Called Ove

Fiction To Sink Your Teeth Into, a feature from author and professional chef Rohan O’Duill!

Ove tells us about his childhood and being brought up by his single father. In the evenings they ate sausages and potatoes. This is a simplified version of a Danish Sausage casserole. I feel that Oves father may have left out some of the flourishes such as cream that would normally be added in but feel free to add a drop yourself if you are in the mood. This is a very simple and cheap dish and I could see why Ove’s father would have this as a staple. I couldn’t find Danish sausage in my local supermarket so I used Kabonos sausage instead. But any tasty sausage should do.

Sausage and Potatoes paired with A Man Called Ove
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Weird, Touching, Agenre Queer Books … on Sale???!!! 

Til Feb 1 (well midnight Jan 31), name your own price (suggested $20) and grab tRaum Books’ entire 2022 catalogue!

That’s seven books, ranging from novella to art book to long novel, from a group of various trans/queer indie authors from all over the world. 

covers of some trauma books that you need to read

Darknesses by Lachelle Seville (neogothic homage) Recovering and broken, Oasis falls right into the arms of Bram Stoker’s original inspiration, currently inhabiting the form of Laura. ||  Most Famous Short Film of All Time by Tucker Lieberman (postmodern philosophical) Life takes a sharp turn for the Kafkaesque when Lev gets an anonyominous email at work. ||  Noema by Dael Akkerman (Mesolithic thoughtful) She’s a girl, she’s a bird, she’s a god; a re-imagining of our original cooperation and betrayal story. ||  It Helps with the Blues by Bryan Cebulski (subtle Midwestern) An introspective modern story about five Midwestern teens feeling their way through an unexpected tragedy. ||  Airy Nothing by Clarissa Pattern (Elizabethan daymare) A gentle, touched boy who longs to become a Shakespearean player gets his heart stolen by a pickpocket in seething London. ||  a/e by Ryszard Merey (novella, art uncomfortable) It’s an early 00s friendship mess. || The Pink and the Blue (art book PDF) by R Merey (neonvomit confessional) Created when the author had the worst extended insomnia of HIS LIFE and was possibly legally insane.

Have all our published books at your fingertips! Purchase this to get everything we put out in 2022 (and our one book from the end of 2021), in instantly downloadable digital form. What a mix of short and long, novella and art book; a range of storytelling styles from indie authors Lachelle Seville, Tucker Lieberman, Dael Akkerman, Bryan Cebulski, Clarissa Pattern, and Ryszard Merey. We want our books to be available to all, so for a limited time, there is the option to pay what you want for the entire bundle (suggested reduced price is 20 USD).

Book Report Corner

by I. Merey

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook. It has a photo of uncooked ramen and a plastic knife, but no spoons.

I’ve never reviewed a cookbook before, but there is a first time for everything!

Let’s start with the cover: This design took me back to the cookbooks my parents used to have–the composition, the color–the ramen… with ketchup on it? Siracha? Is that blood??? Ok, this isn’t my parents’ cookbook. Childhood and nostalgia is over and cooking is actually a bitch (and if you live alone/are broke/are sick/unlucky at feeding yourself or some intersection of multiple of those, it’s just that much worse). Luckily, the authors get that entirely.

So this is a collection of not so much recipes (which promise to make a delicious presentation in fantasy, but in reality, often provide more stress with complicated ingredients and preparations and PRESSURE to not fuck up)–it’s more a collection of tips; concrete looser guidelines that result in meals, without strict measurements. Which results, hopefully, in another day where one of us could feed our sorry asses and feel a little less like a fuckup. It’s also funny! And this book is free ❤ So I recommend you give it a download; the recipes are great to peruse and to collect ideas for those mental rainy days :/ (weeks?? :////)

Get your free e-book PDF here.

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

The Dawnhounds cover

Sabitha: We’ve got the incredible Sascha Stronach with us today. Sascha, please introduce us to your queer science fiction novel The Dawnhounds (Against the Quiet #1).

Sascha: Gideon the Ninth meets Black Sun in this queer, Māori-inspired debut fantasy about a police officer who is murdered, brought back to life with a mysterious new power, and tasked with protecting her city from an insidious evil threatening to destroy it.

The port city of Hainak is alive: its buildings, its fashion, even its weapons. But, after a devastating war and a sweeping biotech revolution, all its inhabitants want is peace, no one more so than Yat Jyn-Hok a reformed-thief-turned-cop who patrols the streets at night.

Yat has recently been demoted on the force due to “lifestyle choices” after being caught at a gay club. She’s barely holding it together, haunted by memories of a lover who vanished and voices that float in and out of her head like radio signals. When she stumbles across a dead body on her patrol, two fellow officers gruesomely murder her and dump her into the harbor. Unfortunately for them, she wakes up.

Sabitha: Everything about this sounds amazing. I’m curious about the creation process. Was there any music that inspired you while you were writing?

Sascha: I had a playlist I had going in a loop for most of the writing process, and the one song I keep coming back to Stick and Poke’s Teeth on a String. It’s this dark surreal fairy tale told in only three minutes—what is Hainak but a dark wood with a couple of street signs? 

Sabitha: From music to movies! Do you have a “fan-cast” – do you have actors you’d cast as your main characters?

Sascha: I do but for time I’ll just go for the big one: Shohreh Aghdashloo as Sibbi. In early drafts the character was a lot physically larger, alchemically roided-up, but I saw Shohreh in—god I think it was Grimm of all things—and went “Oh, yeah, that’s her.”

Sabitha: What book do you tell all your friends to read? Besides yours of course!

Sascha: VanderMeer, Mieville, right now I’m really enjoying Kerstin Hall’s Second Spear. If The Dawnhounds didn’t give it away, I kinda like fungi. 

Sabitha: Everyone should love fungi. If you could pick any author to read your book, who would you want to read it? Why them?

Sascha: Jeff VanderMeer. I feel like I’m too old and hirsute to say “Senpai notice me” but The Dawnhounds never would’ve happened without his influence. 

Sabitha: When you picture your ideal reader, what are they like?

Sascha: Rangy old punk, fine with a little darkness in their fantasy, mycology enthusiast, willing to punch a cop to protect a queer.  

Sabitha: I suspect we have some of those in our community! What do you most want your readers to take away from reading your book?

Sascha: The police exist solely to protect capital and will act in ways deeply harmful to society in order to remain that way. Also mushrooms are cool and you should be fucking more gay people.

Sabitha: Indeed! Thanks for sharing your story. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

Sascha: You can get it now at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can find me on Twitter.

Book Report Corner

by Sabitha F.

Cover of A+E with Ash and Eu

A + E by Ryszard Merey. This one gets a trigger warning from me, although it’s less the scenes of sexual violence (of which there are a few) and more that the author—who wrote this book well before he met me—somehow knows about my teenage life in startling ways.

Allow me to digress on one of the reasons why I tend to dislike YA—the characters are blank slates, meant for the reader to relate to. I know a lot of teenagers. Very few of them are blank slates. Very few of them fit neatly into “jock” “artsy” “popular,” etc. categories. They are, in fact, people. And the choice of nearly an entire marketing category to eschew specificity for broad appeal is, I believe, doing a disservice to young people.

Anyway this book isn’t YA, it’s just about teenagers. It’s a book I would have wanted when I was that age (I was deeply uninterested in books for my age range because they weren’t like this.) Two gender non-conforming kids—the effeminate, artsy Ash and the loud, brash goth Eu—meet and become friends with the kind of passionate intensity that happens when you’re smart and mentally ill and young. They fall in love, kind of, and they fuck up, and they hurt each other in devastating ways. I felt Seen. It’s also just gorgeously written.

A note for people attempting to read this (and you really should read it): There are two versions, a graphic novel and a novella. I’m talking about the novella, which you can find here. I haven’t read the graphic novel (yet).

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Brain Created Intelligence cover

Sabitha: AJ Pagan IV joins us to talk about his thought-provoking science fiction novel, Brian, Created Intelligence. AJ, can you start by telling us a bit about the book?

AJ: This story revolves around the world’s first bodiless human brain, created to study and produce real artificial intelligence. Brian the brain does not know he’s a human—he’s been told and believes himself to be an artificially intelligent system.

Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?

AJ:  As I earned my Master’s in organic chemistry and wrote my thesis, I was searching the job market and came across the still burgeoning technology of 3D organ printing. Well my brain had a thought, what if someone created a brain? 

Sabitha: It’s always fun when a scientist writes science fiction. What’s your writing process?

AJ: My writing process: brain brew for months or years and research the hell out of what I want to write so I’m not ignorant of what’s real. Once it feels right, wake up at 4AM and write ~2k words a day or more every day until the story is out of me. There are minor exceptions.

Sabitha: What book do you tell all your friends to read? Besides yours of course!

AJ: Hyperion (and The Fall of Hyperion) is the best book in existence. 

Sabitha: What do you most want your readers to take away from reading your book?

AJ: I want people to realize this sort of horrible technology is getting close and we need to ensure it never comes about. I don’t want to be a slave nor create one nor have ANY in existence. Everyone deserves all human rights. Body or not. 

Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?
AJ: You can find my book on Barnes and Noble, all independent book stores can order it, and Apple/Google/Kobo ebook as well. You can find me on Twitter, on my website, and in Southern California most days.

Book Report Corner

by KaptenSiri

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook. It has a photo of uncooked ramen and a plastic knife, but no spoons.

I received an Advance Reader Copy in return for an honest review.

Some days, there’s not enough time. Some days, you just don’t have the energy. Some days, you feel like a sad bastard and literally don’t know what to do. That’s when you pick up The Sad Bastard Cookbook and just read. It will make you laugh. It will keep you company. It will help you find something to cook, on your level for the day. Make the core recipe, add something if you feel for it, or—on a good day—go all in.

The Sad Bastard Cookbook has already saved my ass several times when it comes to solve the “what’s for dinner” question. The recipes are simple and you’ve probably made most of them before. But here’s the thing; it’s up to you where you set the bar. You don’t have to follow the recipe strictly, but, if you need it, there are a lot of suggestions how to pimp your food. And, it will taste good!

Get your free e-book PDF here.