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.

Sigrid and Elyn cover

Sabitha: Today we’ll talk to Edale Lane about her newest novel, Sigrid and Elyn: A Tale from Norvegr (Tales from Norvegr). Edale, we’re excited to have you! Tell us a bit about your book.

Edale Lane: Attracted by passion, repelled by war. Can two shieldmaidens navigate battlegrounds of the sword and the heart?

Sigrid the Valiant is legendary throughout the kingdoms of Norvegr for her many heroic deeds, but her heart has not found a home. Now, racing on the heels of their father’s murder, a neighboring kingdom’s raids threaten an all-out war.

Elyn is a young shieldmaiden with a score to settle, fighting her own insecurities along with enemies who threaten her homeland, but she remains unconvinced all is as it seems.

When the two clash on opposite sides of their shield walls, sparks fly from both their swords and passions. But when they talk, the two discover an antagonist’s plot has pitted their kingdoms against each other.

Will Sigrid and Elyn move past their suspicions to forge a relationship and foil the villain’s scheme, or will the enemy’s assassins end their search for the truth?

Sabitha: We love a good sapphic romance! What inspired you to write this book?

Edale Lane: I am a historian and primarily a writer of historical fiction. I love anything Viking and have been excited by recent archeological discoveries confirming the authenticity of women warriors’ roles in Scandinavia’s past.

Sabitha: That’s fantastic. Once you have the idea, what’s your writing process?

Edale Lane: I’m a “plantser.” I engage in tons of research, write out character sheets, plot outlines, and lists of facts to include in world-building. But as I write, invariably new characters are added, plotlines may veer from their assigned paths, and I try to infuse something previously unexpected. Therefore, I plan a lot and pants a little for good measure.

Sabitha: What was the hardest part of editing?

Edale Lane: Not catching every mistake. I can take advice on content edits from betas, use my software, and hire a proof-reader, then reread. After half a dozen sets of eyes have scoured the manuscript, it still goes to print with a few mistakes. Luckily, as a self-published indie, once a reader points them out, I can easily upload a corrected copy.

Sabitha:  Which character do you relate to the most and why?

Edale Lane: I relate to both of my main characters for different reasons. As a younger person, I often found myself in doubt and indecision, like Elyn, but now, with years of experience and wisdom behind me, I display Sigrid’s confidence. At heart, I am as much a peacemaker as Elyn, but ready, willing, and able to fight off an attacker as they both are. I don’t have Sigrid’s temper or Elyn’s figure, but both women’s passions burn in my soul. I don’t shy away from a challenge.

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

Edale Lane: She or he is someone who loves to become immersed in another world, who enjoys action, adventure, and romance, and is a sucker for a happily ever after. Ideally, this reader would love this book and go buy all my other ones—and post reviews!

Sabitha: We can relate—reviews are like gold for an author. 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?

Edale Lane: You can find more about me at my website, my Goodreads page, my BookBub page, or by signing up to my newsletter. You can buy Sigrid and Elyn here, or see all my books for sale here.

Book Report Corner

by Zilla N.

Phantom of Nob Hill theater cover

We were given a review copy of The Phantom of Nob Hill Theater in exchange for an honest review.

This book is ridiculous in the best possible way. John Luke Maxwell wrote a gay romance with enough spice to burn off the roof of your mouth. An ordinary guy falls in love with his former porn-star crush, who is also a top-notch chef, painter, and sleuth. Named, appropriately enough, Holmes. Good thing too, since crimes seem to be piling up all over the place. The world needs a man with a smoking pipe, deductive reasoning, and several pairs of tearaway pants, and Holmes is up to the job. Very up for it.

The writing in this book is solid, but the style is playful. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. I never had a moment’s concern that the men might fall short of their happy ever after, but I was still curious enough about the murder mystery to stay engaged the whole way through.

A perfect book for a summer read! Find it on Amazon 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 Shareholders cover

Sabitha: Today we’ve got H.S. Down talking about a dark and exciting novel, The Shareholders. Can you tell us a bit about your book?

H.S.: In the late 21st century, Earth is ravaged by climate change. The billionaires have bioengineered immortality, fled to Mars, and rule Earth’s last biospheres as their personal shares. Those left on Earth struggle to find balance as the planet tumbles into its terminal years of habitability. Ian Gateman, one of Earth’s last bureaucrats, is tasked with finding a buyer for a fledgling colony of newly settled ecological refugees. As Ian travels to the estates of several visiting shareholders, it becomes clear the shareholders have other plans for humanity’s future. 

Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?

H.S.: Panic. I am terrified that we will leave it up the billionaires to solve the climate crisis. The Shareholders explores this fear to what I believe will be its conclusion. The world building focuses on immortality, the colonization of Mars, and ecosystems sustained solely by prostheses. Many of the characters are hell bent on preserving an unsustainable status quo at the expense of life itself. I think the politics for the rest of this century will be framed around ‘letting go’. Letting go of postwar expectations of luxury consumption, perpetual growth, of capitalism as an organizing principle. I see The Shareholders as a crude and embryonic form of art for this movement. 

Sabitha: Was there any music that inspired you while you were writing?

H.S.: I listened to Dies Irae composed by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind for the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. It is a heavy, solemn electronic piece, but it’s the banshee caterwaul that calls just out of frame that does it for me. For Kubrick, the piece was an exploration of colonialism and the unspeakable violence that haunts western societies. A careful reader will see that The Shareholders is preoccupied with these themes as well, and that preoccupation registers in the names of some of the characters and the novel’s setting.      

Sabitha: How did you choose the title?

H.S.: In the novel, the billionaires of the early 21st-century have become shareholders of the last biospheres on Earth. They also own shares of a virus that extends their lives considerably. So, the title is a good description of the key antagonists in the novel, but there is more to it. As the world plummets into climate crisis, the action or inaction of governments and corporations is very much circumscribed by groups of shareholders. Shareholders are determining humanity’s future. The title puts that into focus. 

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

H.S.: I am drawn to the irreverence and storytelling of Kurt Vonnegut and J.G. Ballard. I’d love to receive notes from them on craft for this book, but not now of course, because that would have to come from beyond the grave, which would be, at the very least, distracting. Margaret Atwood wrote some of the first dystopian climate change novels, so I’d like to get her take on The Shareholders as part of the genre.

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?

H.S.: You can find my book here, and I’m on Facebook.

Sad Bastard Cookbook Updates!

We all need a friend like The Sad Bastard Cookbook. Someone who makes you laugh. Someone even nerdier than you are. Someone who doesn’t judge you when the only thing you can get into your face hole is peanut butter on a spoon. We are delighted to say that the The Sad Bastard Cookbook is getting closer and closer to being a real live book who can be that supportive friend!

Sad Bastard Cookbook Cover Teaser 2

Two truly marvelous editors, Victoria Rose of Flickering Words and Lindsay Hobbs of Topaz Literary volunteered their skills and their time to proofread the manuscript. And so many of you beta tested the recipes, or contributed ideas. Thanks so much to all of you, we are nearly ready to launch.

The e-book will be available to newsletter subscribers in early December. If you want to gift the e-book for Christmas—sign up for the newsletter, and go for it! The e-book will be “sold” for free to the general public a month later, in January.

The print book will be for sale on Amazon in early December, also in time for Christmas gifting. Rachel is working on layout as fast as she can so we can (hopefully) make it available in time for shipping deadlines! It will cost actual money to buy the print edition. If you prefer to download the free pdf and print that instead of purchasing from Amazon, we are cool with that.

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this happen. We can’t wait to share The Sad Bastard Cookbook with all of you.

Rachel A Rosen’s Author Talk – And More!!!

Rachel sitting on a rock which has extremely good taste in Premiers

Rachel A. Rosen talks climate disaster, wizards, Cthulhu, and Canadian politics, and how they all come crashing together in her debut novel Cascade.

Join us on November 11, in Toronto, for an in-person author talk and book signing with Rosen will discuss her genre-blending work – part techno-thriller, part response to “hopepunk”, part urban fantasy – and the inspiration behind it. Sign up here.

Can’t make it to Toronto? Prefer online talks? We got you. 

There’s a talk online at Brighton Public Library on Dec. 6 at 6:30.

Rachel is speaking about book deisgn at FyreCon Nov. 13 at 4 pm.

Can’t make any of them? You can still read Cascade through Amazonany ebook retailer, or direct from the press.

Book Report Corner

by Zilla N.

In Flames cover

In Flames opens with Sera telling us, “I am attuned to three things: blood, fire, and love”, and this book delivers on all three.

Sera is a sorceress with a rare gift for predicting love matches, and when she goes to college—a magical medical school—she meets her own celestial matches. But nothing is as she expected. Instead of one partner, she’s matched with two men, and they matched with each other as well as her. And the college itself holds darker secrets, secrets of blood and murder. Sera and her partners need to fight for their match to survive.

This book is in the best tradition of magical dark academia. Imagine a grown-up, poly Harry Potter. A sexy Ninth House. I’d originally been quizzical about the idea of a matchmaking sorceress, but I loved the worldbuilding of a sex-positive culture where love is considered divinely inspired. The world exists at an intersection of magic and technology, where sorcerers text each other on their phones and hockey fans are kept magically warm in the arena stands. Then, of course, the mystery calls into question the entire society which built this so-called school of healing. It’s a delightful play on a familiar genre, and I was left hoping for a sequel where I could see something of the world outside the school.

“But I’ll burn for you, Seraphina. I’ll burn for you if you ask me to.”

Then there’s the romance plotline, which is sizzlingly hot. There is a reason this book is called In Flames. Do not read this book in a drought or you might be accused of arson. I adored Seri, Alexi, and Dario, and it was pure delight to have a novel where no one had to choose between love interests in a love triangle. I will avoid spoilers, but I’ll leave you with two words to end this review: hot chocolate.

We received a review copy of In Flames. Get your copy 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 cover of the sad bastard cookbook

Sabitha: Today we talk to one of the Night Beats creators, Zilla Novikov, about The Sad Bastard Cookbook. Full disclosure—I beta read this cookbook, and I love it already. But for people who haven’t had the chance to read it yet, Zilla, tell us about the project that you created with Rachel A. Rosen and Marten Norr.

Zilla: Thanks Sabitha! The Sad Bastard Cookbook is a cookbook of coping mechanisms and dark humour. There’s a lot of mental illness in the Night Beats community—and the world. We wanted to share how we get through eating on the days when picking up a spoon seems impossible. Also, we wanted an excuse to make jokes about Watchmen when we eat beans straight from the can. This cookbook let us do both at once.

Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?

Zilla: I realized I needed to write this book while watching Mrs P stream Dead by Daylight on Twitch. We were discussing ramen hacks, and someone mentioned adding egg to ramen soup to up the protein. Mrs P asked whether you needed to cook the egg first, and the whole community chimed in with suggestions for ways to make egg-in-ramen soup. Before that chat, I thought everyone already knew about eggs in ramen. And I thought there was only one way to prepare them. 

As we’ve worked on this project with our community, I’ve realized that everyone has a version of my story. Sometimes it’s about teaching their sibling, sometimes their students, or sometimes their friends. Eating is essential, but when you’re depressed, or exhausted, or overworked, it can be really hard. Little tricks like eggs in ramen can be so important. This cookbook meant Rachel and I could share our coping strategies, and at the same time learn from everyone else in our community. 

Sabitha: You’ve written two books already, Reprise and Query, and Rachel’s published Cascade. How did writing The Sad Bastard Cookbook differ from writing fiction?

Zilla: You’ve already mentioned the first difference—this is my first time co-writing a book, and my first time having it illustrated. I’m so lucky to work with such fantastic, creative people, who understand what I’m trying to express even when I can’t put it into words. Which is a bad trait in a writer!

The other difference is that this cookbook was sourced from the community. We asked around widely for suggestions about recipes to include, and we were not disappointed! From Cheater Channa Masala to a new pancake recipe, I learned so many tips and tricks, and it’s been wonderful seeing how caring our community is.

Sabitha: It’s an unusual process, but also an unusual sales tactic. You’re making it free.

Zilla: We’re making the e-book free. Unfortunately, we don’t have the wealth to make the paper copy free to everyone who wants it. But we’re not impressed with how capitalism makes it expensive to be mentally ill or in poverty. There might not be much we can do to fight that system, but we can make our book free for people to learn these coping strategies. 

We’re going to release early December, in time for Christmas gifting. The paper copy will go up on Amazon then, and our newsletter subscribers will get access to the free e-book. Both editions make great gifts! We’ll “sell” the e-book version to the general public in Jan, but newsletter subscribers get the bonus of early access to the e-book. We hope you like it!

The Fear Round Table

A picture of cocoa the cat with a pumpkin

It’s spooky season! Which is our favourite season. Rachel begins prepping for Halloween in July. For our October feature, we thought we’d take a look at reading and writing horror, fear, and the uncanny.

Sabitha: Do you read or write horror? If so, what kind? If not, do you incorporate horror elements into your writing?

Rachel: I always say that I don’t, and horror elements keep creeping into my writing like a sleeping Elder God under the ocean. Cascade has more than a dash of cosmic horror to it. I tend to gravitate towards works that are horror-adjacent, that have a lot of that creeping sense of menace and the uncanny but aren’t necessarily shelved in the horror section.

Rohan: When it comes to horror I am a complete wuss, despite being born on Halloween. I have never watched or read an out-and-out horror movie or book. But then I don’t class movies like Alien or zombie movies as horror in my mind. I think because they are so far fetched that it doesn’t scare me. And just like Rachel I definitely have horror elements that sneak into my Sci-Fi. Alinda was very much Alien inspired. 

Sabitha: What are some of your favourite horror tropes?

Zilla: I am a total sucker for “the real horror is our own humanity”. It’s admittedly a bleak outlook on life, but not terribly surprising if you’ve met me. Give me Night of the Living Dead and Twenty-Eight Days Later where racism and male entitlement are scarier than zombies. Horror holds up a funhouse mirror to the world, but the scariest things are always on our side of the reflection.

Rachel: A big shoutout to Get Out, probably my favourite horror movie of all time, for really bringing the terror in that regard.

I adore the uncanny and the unsettling. That deep-seated feeling of helplessness within a context that is much larger than you and doesn’t care one bit about your existence, when done well, is absolutely stunning. Peter Watts’ Blindsight has one of the most effective uses of a truly hostile and uncaring universe I’ve ever seen in fiction. Not to mention it has vampires in space.

Sabitha: What are some of your least favourite horror tropes?

Rachel: I’m not a big fan of a lot of the moralism that ends up in a lot of horror works. Women punished for being sexually active, that kind of thing. And of course I can’t mention cosmic horror without shooting old H.P. Lovecraft a giant side-eye, though personally I’m a little thrilled to know how terrified he would have been of my very existence.

Sabitha: Recommendations time! Which book really scared you? Besides the IPCC Report, Zilla.

Zilla: Wow, spoilers Sabitha. Some people might not know how the IPCC Report ends yet.

Rachel: Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin made waves for a certain throwaway line of worldbuilding, but it’s one of the cleverest horror novels I’ve read in ages. It’s a fresh take on the “gendercide” narrative: a splatterpunk survival horror focusing on trans people’s experiences after a virus has turned anyone with a high enough level of testosterone into vicious monsters.

Sabitha: Last and most important question: What are you dressing as for Halloween?

Rachel: The haunting reminder that the pandemic isn’t over. Or the comics version of Death of the Endless. Some kind of memento mori, anyway.

Rohan: I usually go for something controversial. But I am stuck for motivation with the farcical being too close to reality these days. 

Zilla: The scariest thing of all: a millennial trapped in late capitalism.