Blog Tour: The Arrival of Missives By Aliya Whiteley

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Synopsis

The Arrival of Missives is a genre-defying story of fate, free-will and the choices we make in life. In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as predictable as the changing of the seasons.

The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning. Will it prevent her mastering her own destiny?

As the village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations, where a new queen will be crowned and the future will be reborn again, Shirley must choose: change or renewal?

How to Enjoy Writing Historical Fiction

By Aliya Whiteley

I always start writing in the same way. I take up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write until a voice emerges. Then I place that voice in a setting, and start finding out what that new character cares about.

When I found out that the main voice in my novella The Arrival of Missives belonged to a teenage girl who wanted to change the world for the better I liked her straight away, but I was also terrified of the challenge she represented. I usually write contemporary fiction, and she definitely came from a different time. She belonged to a small village in the UK countryside in 1920. It was a time I knew very little about.

Historical fiction can be scary to write. There’s the need to represent the past accurately, in a way that feels truthful and also reflective upon the way we live now. That need to be accurate began to affect my enjoyment in writing the story, until I worked out a few techniques to help me concentrate on the voice and not the setting:

  • Use research to work out what your character knows

There’s no way of getting around research; it has to be done to bring the period you’re writing about to life. But find your character first (this applies particularly to writing in the first person) and then concentrate on how they’ll view the time they live in rather than in trying to formulate every aspect of life back then. People often live in small bubbles of experience; trying to place you reader within that bubble is more rewarding.

  • Don’t stop every time you come across something you don’t know

At first I’d put down the pen and turn to the laptop to search for answers every time I came across a detail that I didn’t know. I’d look for how long sheep slept for, or what version of the Bible would be in the village church. Then I realised that I really didn’t have to know straight away. I started to put a row of crosses whenever I came across a small issue, and that meant the flow of words was no longer broken. At the end of writing my first draft, the crosses were easy to pick out, and it was fun to go back through finding my answers without feeling pulled out of the story.

  • Don’t feel constrained by what others have done

When I decided to write about life in a rural setting in 1920s Britain, I wanted to see how other modern authors had tackled the period. The more I read, the more disheartened I became. How could I ever hope to capture the time in the same way? Then I realised my task wasn’t to capture it in the same way. I needed to portray it in my own way, using my own skills as a writer. Remember your own strengths, and create the setting using those rather than attempting to follow somebody else’s strategy.

There is never only one way to write about the past. It’s filled with so many different voices. I only had to remember what I love about writing to drown out the fears I felt. When I’m caught up in the moment, writing fast to get all my thoughts down, swept up in my character’s voice, I really enjoy my job as a novelist, and through this experience I discovered that there’s no reason why historical fiction can’t be just as exhilarating to write as those stories set in the here and now.

Author Biography

What can I tell you?

WhiteleyI write about all sorts of things but it would be fair to say I’m drawn to the darker side of life.

My favourite writers are a diverse bunch. Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch and George Eliot. Rupert Thomson and Christopher Priest. Octavia Butler, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Dylan Thomas, TS Eliot. My favourite Shakespeare play is King Lear. No, Much Ado About Nothing. It depends if it’s a tragic or a comic day.

I like those moments in stories where you have no idea what’s going to happen next. The moments when genre can’t save you.

 

Next Stop on The Arrival of Missives Blog Tour

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Book Blast: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color

I feel very honored to have been asked to take part in the Book Blast for New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nishi Shawl and published by Rebellion Publishing.

New Suns Cover-2‘THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, BUT THERE ARE NEW SUNS,’
PROCLAIMED OCTAVIA E. BUTLER.

            New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange.

Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichéd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

TABLE OF CONTENTS – NEW SUNS, ed. Nisi Shawl.

  • Foreword, LeVar Burton
  • The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex, Tobias Buckell
  • Deer Dancer, Kathleen Alcalá
  • The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations, Minsoo Kang
  • Come Home to Atropos, Steven Barnes
  • The Fine Print, Chinelo Onwualu
  • unkind of mercy, Alex Jennings
  • Burn the Ships, Alberto Yáñez
  • The Freedom of the Shifting Sea, Jaymee Goh
  • Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire, E. Lily Yu
  • Blood and Bells, Karin Lowachee
  • Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • The Shadow We Cast Through Time, Indrapramit Das
  • The Robots of Eden, Anil Menon
  • Dumb House, Andrea Hairston
  • One Easy Trick, Hiromi Goto
  • Harvest, Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Kelsey and the Burdened Breath, Darcie Little Badger
  • Afterword, Nisi Shawl

The beautiful cover was created by Yoshi Yoshitani (http://www.yoshiyoshitani.com/)

 

Blog Blitz for Avian by Emma Pullar

What is it that we love about end of the world stories? Is it the idea that humans will no longer be on the top of the food pyramid? Or is it the idea that our luxuries will be gone? Personally, I think it is a much more complicated situation then that. Something that lives in the reptilian parts of our brains that crave light in the dark. Which is one of the reasons why I love dystopian fiction and the Skeletal duology bu Emma Pullar is one that you aren’t going to want to miss.

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Hardy

 

Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and Children’s books. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, was a national bestseller and named best opening lines by NZ Post. Emma has also written several winning short horror/Sci-fi stories which have been published in four different anthologies. Emma’s latest picture book, Kitty Stuck, has been hugely popular and her novel, Skeletal, and the sequel, Avian, have been described as disturbing and not for the faint-hearted. She also writes articles for an online advice site called Bang2write and dabbles in screenwriting.

Twitter: @EmmaStoryteller

Instagram: @emmapullar_storyteller

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4795002.Emma_Pullar

Website: www.emmapullar.come

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Emma-Pullar-Storyteller-315550881823466/

 

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Synopsis

CENTRAL IS LOSING ITS GRIP ON THE CITIZENS OF GALE CITY.

Megan Skyla, who refused to play by Central’s rules and become a surrogate for her masters, has thrown the city into chaos. Corrupting those around her, she and her friends are forced into hiding – hunted by Central, the evil rulers of Gale City. Skyla’s desperate attempts to keep everyone alive ends when they’re kidnapped by feuding gangs.

Skyla cuts a deal and then betrays both gangs. Now there is nowhere left to run. It’s the desert or die. Her best friend, Crow, thinks she still wants to find a way to cure the Morbian masters of their obesity and finish what she started.

But Skyla has other plans. She’s sure there are settlements in the desert, there must be something out there … and there is. Something terrible.

Skyla is about to find out there’s more than one way to bring about change but one truth remains … Central must be destroyed in order to ensure her survival. There is no other way.

Avian is the second book in Skeletal Duology. The first book is Skeletal.

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Gale City is the last city in the world and under the strict control of the illusive Centrals.

When females reach adulthood, they’re given the chance to compete at Showcase for the honour of becoming surrogates for the Morbihan – a highly intelligent, obese race of people, unable to procreate naturally. All the other girls are excited to become hosts, all except Megan Skyla.

Convinced there’s more to life, Skyla teams up with an unlikely friend and they go in search of a cure for the Morbihan condition. Things don’t go to plan and their journey becomes a harrowing quest fraught with danger and deceit.

How can Skyla discover the truth when everything she’s been told is a lie? Can anyone in Gale City ever really be free?

Avian is out on September 4th, 2018. You can purchase both titles on Amazon.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emma-Pullar/e/B01N5FM39O

To find out more about Avian lets keep the blog blitz going tomorrow. Check out any of the other blogs listed below to find out more.

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Blog Feature for Into the Sounds by Lee Murray

Today in my small piece of the internet I get the privilege of being a member of the Blog tour for Lee Murray. For those of you who don’t know who Lee Muray is let me introduce you to her.

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Lee Murray is a multi award-winning writer and editor of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (Australian Shadows, Sir Julius Vogel). Her titles for adults include the acclaimed Taine McKenna series of military thrillers (Severed Press) and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra co-authored with Dan Rabarts (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Among her titles for children are YA novel Misplaced, and best-loved middle grade adventure Battle of the Birds, listed in the Best Books of the Year 2011 by New Zealand’s Dominion Post. Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, the first book in a series of speculative middle grade antics, is forthcoming from IFWG Australia. An acquiring editor for US boutique press Omnium Gatherum, Lee is a regular speaker at workshops, conferences and schools. She lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

Lee’s latest foray in to the world of kaiju is Into the Sounds. 

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Synopsis

On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribes’ survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. A soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?

I got to Lee about her favorite monsters and kaiju!! Come on who doesn’t love monsters!!

What is your favorite creature feature movie?

Obviously, I love the Jurassic movies. [Please no spoilers on the latest instalment because I haven’t see it yet!] In a former life, I was a research scientist, so I know exactly how it feels when you open the centrifuge to discover one of your test tubes has exploded in the drum… I love the Kong movies too, perhaps because they were the signature kaiju movies of my generation, but also because of their romanticism: the sweeping landscapes and that sense of awe at nature’s dogged determination to survive, and a need to connect in times of crisis.

In a battle between Godzilla and the kaiju from your first book, who would win?

Difficult question! Certainly, if size has anything to do with it, Godzilla has the advantage since even the 1954 movie version stood around fifty metres tall (164ft). By comparison, the Sphenodon kaiju in Into the Mist ‒ who Taine’s soldiers have nicknamed Sampson ‒ is tiny, just three metres tall (10ft) and fifteen metres (50ft) from head to tail, but I still believe he could hold his own in a battle. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, because my creature is conjured from a real biological Order, the Sphenodontia, he’s equipped with the natural superpowers shared by the other representative of that group, the tuatara, features such as: an armoured hide with spiny ridges and sharp talons, hearing sensitive enough to detect an insect’s wingbeat, and a parietal eye in the middle of its forehead, which scientists believe were for testing the air temperatures. Like his close cousins in the reptile family, our friends the crocodiles and snakes, he’s a formidable hunter, able to learn from past experiences, which means if he survives the first onslaught, my Sphenodon likely to come away with some new knowledge which will make him better equipped in the event that the pair clash again. And finally, my kaiju is not just a primordial monster, he’s also a living mythological creature, a mighty taniwha with its own wairua (spirit) and that gives him the edge.

Why do you think more girls aren’t writing kaiju books?

I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I have a story called Maui’s Hook coming out soon in a fabulous kaiju anthology from Outland Entertainment called Kaiju Rising II. The book is full of wonderful women authors, all writing monstery fiction of the oversized variety: Mari Murdock, Marie Brennan, Melanie R Meadors, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and Zin E Rocklyn, so if readers are interested in discovering women writers in this genre, I recommend picking up a copy of this book as the perfect sampler. And in answer to your question: this particular kaiju anthology was by invitation, so perhaps if we want to see more girls writing kaiju fiction, the answer is “if you ask them, they will come”

What was the oddest bit of research you have done for this series?

Since you asked, here it is: Te Urewera, the setting for Into the Mist, is the name of one of our most beautiful national parks and the spiritual homeland of the Tūhoe tribe. However, it is also the Māori term for “burned penis” named after the war chief Murakareke, who turned over in his sleep one night, rolling into the fire where he singed his family jewels!

Is there any other cryptid out there you kind of secretly hope is real?

Do you think a lot of Harry Potter fans are going to be disappointed if I don’t say Griffin? To be honest, it’s a difficult choice since so many cryptid species might more than a little dangerous if we were to actually encounter them in the flesh. Down here in New Zealand, our mythology supports a lot of potentially lethal cryptids: massive carnivorous birds, serpent beasts, mammoth primates. Let’s hope no one finds the elixir that brings them all to life ‒ unless of course it’s in a story.

What is your personal favorite kaiju book (that you haven’t written)?

I absolutely loved Jeremy Robinson’s Apocalypse Machine. Kaiju fiction is one of Robinson’s favourite genres and all his monster books are great, but that one really hit the spot for me. Now there’s a monster who could give that fifty metre Godzilla a run for its money. A fabulous high action, fast-paced read. Highly recommended.

Lee has allowed me to share a sneak peek of her newest release Into the Sounds.

Excerpt

Letting himself be carried along, David tried to get his bearings. Saltwater met freshwater in these Sounds where the sea carved great caverns into the land, some of them more than 500 yards deep. He could believe it: below him, the saltwater layer was dark as an All Black jersey. Broadnose was sticking to the murky freshwater layer and a shelf about three yards below the surface. The other men, still dragging Wallace, had entered a cave. David’s pulse pounded as they followed them inside.

Not a cave, but a tunnel. Does this go anywhere? Running out of air.

Broadnose moved them swiftly through the silence. A horizontal fissure as big as a truck gaped to their right. Through the murky gloom, David spied movement.

Something was in there. Something huge. Oh my God, it was coming out. David wanted to scream, to tell Broadnose to get them the hell out of Dodge, but the pale man just tightened his grip on David and continued on. Helpless, David could only watch in horror, his lungs bursting, as slowly, slowly, a monster emerged.

It was colossal. More than fifty yards from tip to tail. With a cone-shaped body the size of a whale, it glowed eerily. Squid tentacles, white and thicker than a tōtara trunk undulated in the swell. A gigantic pupil eyed David malevolently.

Into the Sounds is out NOW. Click on the picture of the cover (which is exquisite by the way).

Blog Tour for The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

I am really excited to be part of the blog tour for The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield. The first line of Setchfield’s book just pulls you in and keeps you there until the last page. The action starts and just keeps going. I will have a complete review up next week but lets just say I am really excited for everyone to read The War in the Dark.

Synopsis:

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.

“James Bond meets Indiana Jones… a rip-roaring adventure. This is the book you’ll be reading on the beach even when it rains or the sun goes down” Mark Millar

“A rattling good read… it’s thrilling” Russell T Davies

“An assured, memorable debut.” Tim Lebbon

“Kept me riveted.” Genevieve Cogman

Excerpt:

He snatched his hand back.

The rose had pricked him, drawn blood. He sucked at his smarting thumb, and squatting on his haunches, examined the handle. There was a spiked metal thorn, located just below the bloom. A malicious little touch. This time he twisted the handle more cautiously, lifting his fingers away from the hidden barb. He felt the bolt shift, the hinges loosen. The door opened.

Another corridor confronted him. This one was darker, more tapering, its doors firmly shut. Winter couldn’t quite see what lay at the end of it.

He tried to recall the shape of the building. He had studied it through the binoculars but the structure he had seen from the hill refused to map onto the mansion’s interior. A corridor of this length didn’t belong here. The

dimensions simply didn’t fit.

There was an unusual taste in his mouth. He took a moment to identify it. It was almost like diesel, just at the back of his throat. Odd.

Winter began to explore the passageway. He tested a couple of the doors and found that they were locked. He pressed an ear against one of them. He couldn’t hear anything. Not even the sounds of the party below. The dark length of the corridor was completely hushed. This was clearly a private wing of Harzner’s residence, off limits to the pleasure-seekers.

He continued walking, his vision struggling in the gloom. Something stung his right eye, causing him to blink. It was a drop of his own sweat, beading from his forehead. Another followed it, hitting his cheek. His shirt-cuffs, too, felt clammy.

The taste in his mouth was stronger now. A rising sense of nausea accompanied it. He thought of that metal thorn, the prick of pain in his thumb. Could it have been laced with a toxin? Christ, he was an amateur.

Yet another door waited at the end of the corridor. Winter warily rotated the handle. This door, too, swung open.

He was back where he had begun.

Winter stood on the landing, at the top of the great stairs, by the stuffed remains of the fox, the white leopard and the wolfhound. And there were the mounted insects on the walls, their glass cases bright as mirrors as the light

from the bone chandelier hit them.

He could hear the party now.

His internal compass spun. This made no sense. It was impossible. For a moment reality lurched. Winter focused his thoughts. This was an illusion, he told himself. Momentarily inexplicable but just an illusion. It was something an opponent had designed to confuse and disorientate. Standard psychological combat procedure. Clever, but you could conquer it. You just needed to crack how it was done.

So how was Harzner doing this? Winter had a sudden vision of Krabbehaus as an immense Chinese puzzle box, its walls sliding and realigning in ever-shifting combinations. Hidden engines, concealed mechanics.

He balled his fists and scrubbed the sweat from his eyes. And then he entered the corridor he had originally chosen, the one that led to the door with the carved rose, the one with that damn silver thorn.

It seemed to be exactly the same passageway as before. Did it seem darker this time? A little narrower? Possibly. But then his vision was beginning to telescope, fuzzing at the edges. Winter wasn’t sure if he could trust his eyes.

He stepped cautiously along the corridor, past the open doors and the shadowed couples, his senses alert for any trace of architectural subterfuge. He heard nothing, saw nothing. There was no hint of secret clockwork turning in the walls.

Again there was a strange taste in his mouth. The diesel flavour was gone. In its place was something brittle and metallic on his tongue. He found himself wondering if this was how mercury poisoning tasted.

A door flew open. The same door as before. And the same woman strode out, as defiantly naked as the first time Winter had seen her. But now there was something very different about her. Something terribly wrong.

There was the skull of a beast where her head should have been.

If you want to see more about The War in the Dark check out the next blog tour stop. You can follow Nick on twitter @NickSetchfield.

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