AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – KENNETH SHANNON III


eSpec Books interviews Kenneth Shannon III, contributor to The Awakened Modern, edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer, now funding on Kickstarter

eSB: What do you like most about The Awakened series, and why?

KS: Hal Greenberg’s word is great as it toes the line between full on fantastical elements and real life. The concept of this connection between animal and human or human and the elements/magic breaks the standard mold because it doesn’t go all out. Like a nice blend of super hero and fantasy fiction.  In this Modern take it allows for some interesting elements. 

eSB: What kind of challenges did you find writing for this series?

KS: Answering some of the questions for our story.  What would a gorilla do when it became sentient? How would it act? When technology and magic meet what and how does that work? In real life if this was occurring how would people really react? Answering those and still finding a bit of humor in them was a fun challenge to tackle.  But a challenge none-the-less.

eSB: What interested you in writing for this series? 

KS: I love writing and Hal and I go way back making it such a pleasure to work together. But what makes it holds my attention, is the Awakening process and the exploration of what would happen when that happens. Exploring not just the what, but later the why is fascinating. Any the fun of slowly seeing so many excellent authors get the ability to cross their characters paths and in unexpected ways in the future adds to the excitement for me.   

eSB: If you could have a special power or familiar, what would it be and why? 

KS: I would have mind control and/or reading peoples’ thoughts. Basically, Professor X.   I love exploring the wonders of what other people are thinking.  And to know what is really going on in their heads would likely be terrifying, but also would unlock more for me on the human condition.  Something I enjoy exploring. We humans are interesting creatures.  But our minds and our souls, or just the concept of those souls, is intriguing to me. I think that power would help me develop a better understanding.  Maybe in the long term also help people who want to change destructive behavior.  LOL.  So apparently, I want to be a superhero psychologist.

eSB: Sunrise or stargazing?

KS: Stargazing. 

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up? 

KS: I work with Hal at a company called Samurai Sheepdog and am in charge of board game design and development. I have a number of projects in the works both with and without Samurai involvement. Tournament of Camelot is a fun easy, trick taking card game with the sotyr text derived directly from the original text in the Library of London on the Arthurian legend. I also uses a “Catch up” mechanic which makes it fun for experienced players to play with casual players because the worse you’re doing the more fun stuff you get! Also have a game with Wizkids call The Witching Hour coming out at GENCON in which you play a team of Witches who are part of Coven.  One of you has done something bad with their magic and demons manifest to try and take all your souls. While 100% cooperative, everything you do to help yourself, hurts another player!  Games farther in the distance include Ettin, a game which can play 2-100+ people (16 per box) and Beyond the Edge, a massive Space game which has a growing list of amazing authors working on it including Richard Lee Byers and Ed Greenwood!  Both of those should arrive in 2018.


Born in West Palm Beach Florida, Kenneth Shannon (aka Ken) is a veteran game designer who has designed and written for board games such as Tournament at Camelot and Approaching Dawn: The Witching Hour as well as award nominated RPGs. He is currently lead designer on Adventure IN, a principal designer for Fall of Man, writing for the Awakened II, Awakened III and Awakened Modern, and has a candy-coated assortment of other projects. Since his start 12 years ago in the industry, he has edited and/or written for Mystic Eye Games, Thunderhead Games, Bastion Press and more recently for Samurai Sheepdog.

SOCIAL MEDIA USER IDs

Facebook –  Kenneth C Shannon III

Twitter – The Witching Hour

Websites –
www.samuraisheepdog.com, www.wizkids.com, www.quicksimplefungames.com

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – TORAH COTTRILL


eSpec Books interviews Torah Cottrill, contributor to The Awakened Modern, edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: Can you tell us a little about your story, Return of the Devis, from The Awakened Modern?

TC: When Hal Greenberg first suggested that we bring the premise of The Awakened into the 21st century, I wondered how people in the developing world, without access to 24-hour media coverage and with much different cultural lenses, would think about the sudden appearance of individuals with powers. Would they seem like gods, or monsters? Once I found my protagonist, a child with little formal education or knowledge about the world beyond her village, a girl too young for powers, I had a way to tell a story about what watching the world around you blossom with the Awakened might be like, a view from below the clash of powers.

eSB: What do you like most about The Awakened series, and why?

TC: One of the first things that excited me about the series was the fantastic roster of authors already on board. Who wouldn’t want to contribute to an anthology featuring writers like Jaleigh Johnson, Ed Greenwood, and Rosemary Jones? But the aspect of the series that continues to draw me in is the flexibility of the setting, and the number of different stories you can tell about what having a difficult gift, a power, feels like, and how it affects your life and the lives of the people around you.

eSB: What interested you in writing for this series?

TC: With the potential to write a story about characters who have superhuman powers, it’s easy to find yourself writing about spectacular clashes between Awakened, to turn a story into a series of bigger and bigger confrontations, until you’ve turned your story into a series of mind-blowing CGI fights! Those are a lot of fun to write, so part of the challenge of writing for this series is to bring the story back to the characters’ internal conflicts, the struggle to know and understand yourself. I do really enjoy those glorious wuxia ballet fight scenes, though.

eSB: Do you have any plans to expand your story…or write in the same universe? If so, what more can your readers expect?

TC: My stories in Awakened I and II follow one young woman through her awakening in the Frozen Wastes through her impressment into (and escape from) King Stewart’s forces in his push to conquer the Open Lands. Right now, I’m working on a story for Awakened III that explores the cost of using your power in war and the idea that sometimes a power can be more burden than gift.

eSB: If you could have a special power or familiar, what would it be and why?

TC: I’d like to be able to slow time, so I could get everything done in a day that I intend to. Wouldn’t we all?


Torah Cottrill is a professional editor and amateur video gamer whose short stories have appeared in Stupefying Stories, Luna Station Quarterly, Ares Magazine, and Tokyo Yazuka, among other publications. She wastes her free time researching hand-to-hand combat techniques for her novel and failing to complete the seasonal set dungeons in Diablo III. 

SOCIAL MEDIA USER IDs

Twitter – @TorahCottrill

Amazon Author Page –
http://www.amazon.com/Torah-Cottrill/e/B00AMNM0FS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Blog Address – http://torahcottrill.weebly.com/blog.html

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – RICHARD LEE BYERS


eSpec Books interviews Richard Lee Byers, contributor to The Awakened Modern, edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: Can you tell us a little about your story from The Awakened Modern?

RLB: Actually, no, because it isn’t written yet. My story is a stretch goal.

eSB: What do you like most about The Awakened series, and why?

RLB: I like the limited magic. It allows writers to create formidable, interesting characters without falling into the trap of making them so powerful that nothing can challenge them. The clear parameters of the magic should also give readers the feeling writers are playing by the rules. Unlike some fantasy, the audience shouldn’t have the feeling that the writer can get the hero out of a jam by just having any random, arbitrary thing happen.

eSB: What kind of challenges did you find writing for this series?

RLB: The only story I’ve actually written to date is in the second Awakened anthology. It was set in a city-state that’s basically a fantasy version of ancient India. I’ve never written about that kind of setting before, so I had to do some research.

eSB: What interested you in writing for this series?

RLB: As I mentioned previously, I like the premise, and it’s always good to work with friends you respect and trust like Hal.

eSB: Do you have any plans to expand your story…or write in the same universe? If so, what more can your readers expect?

RLB: If I get into the anthology (like I said, I’m a stretch goal), I imagine I’ll write something that can continue into a hypothetical The Awakened: Modern II. But I don’t know yet what that will be.

eSB: If you could have a special power or familiar, what would it be and why?

RLB: If eternal youth and health counts, I’d take that for what I think are fairly obvious reasons. If that’s not on the menu, teleportation would be nice. Being able to instantly zip to anywhere in the world would greatly enrich a person’s life, or so it seems to be. Lunch in Paris followed by your kung fu lesson in Hong Kong followed by an evening stroll on the beach in Tahiti…pretty great!

eSB: Sunrise or stargazing?

RLB: Stargazing. I’m definitely not a get up early kind of person.

eSB: What are some of your own works readers can look for?

RLB: Recent books: Black Dogs (Privateer Press), The Impostor: Half a Hero (Rothco Press), The Ghost in the Stone (the Ed Greenwood Group), Dead Time (Crossroad Press.) All my stuff is available on Amazon.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

RLB: Black Crowns (Privateer Press), This Sword for Hire (Rothco Press), Dark Fortune (Crossroad Press), The Things That Crawl (Crossroad Press), The Ire of the Void (Fantasy Flight Games.)

eSB: How can readers find out more about you? 

RLB: Check out my Amazon info and connect with me on social media. Catch me at a science fiction convention like Gen Con or Dragon Con.


Richard Lee Byers is the author of over forty fantasy and horror novels including Pathfinder Tales: Called to DarknessBlind God’s Bluff: A Billy Fox NovelThe Reav er:  The Sundering Book IV, Black Dogs (first in his new “Black River Irregulars” trilogy), The Ghost in the Stone, and the “Impostor” series. His novel The Spectral Blaze won Diehard GameFAN’s award for the Best Game -Based Novel of 2011.

Richard has also published dozens of short stories, some of which are collected in the eBooks The Q Word and Other Stories and Zombies in Paradise. His first graphic novel, the latest installment in the “Basil & Moebius” series created by Ryan Schifrin, will be out soon. He is also working on new electronic games.

 Richard lives in the Tampa Bay area and is a frequent guest at Gen Con, Dragon Con, and Florida SF conventions.

 He invites everyone to Follow him on Twitter (@rleebyers), Friend him on Facebook, and add him to your Circles on Google+.

SOCIAL MEDIA USER IDs

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rleebyers

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rleebyers

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/32916.Richard_Lee_Byers

Amazon Author Page –
http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Lee-Byers/e/B001HPY8NM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1392748380&sr=8-2-ent

Blog Address – http://rleebyers.livejournal.com/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/rleebyers/

 

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – TY JOHNSTON


eSpec Books interviews Ty Johnston, contributor to The Awakened Modern, edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer, currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: Can you tell us a little about your story, Cold Snap, from The Awakened Modern?

TJ: An old cop and a young cop team up to face a brave, new and deadly world of criminals with super powers. That’s the basics of Cold Snap, and it sounds like something out of a comic book, but I wanted to go deeper than that, to become more personal. How would law enforcement handle such situations? How would an older person, here a detective, find himself in such a world? I wanted Cold Snap to be real, down to earth, not exactly gritty, but to focus on everyday people dealing with new, unusual situations. I hope I’ve succeeded and readers will find something to enjoy.

eSB: What do you like most about The Awakened series, and why?

TJ: The mundane character who discovers they are actually something special, or that they have unique abilities, is a common enough trope in the fantasy genre, but in The Awakened series this has expanded beyond the simple individual to a larger scale. Practically anyone can become an Awakened. Practically anyone can find out, literally overnight, that they have special powers, and that their future, their destiny, will be changed forever. This is one of the big draws to me for this series. It opens up possibilities, as a writer, and as a reader it keeps me guessing.

eSB: What kind of challenges did you find writing for this series?

TJ: When working on short stories, I tend to focus upon smaller events and, in a certain manner of thinking, smaller people. I stay away from the big sweeping stories and the larger-than-life characters, the royal figures, the movers and shakers. That stuff is for novels where there is room to expound. So, one of my challenges with The Awakened series was to take these potentially powerful characters and keep them in settings and situations that would not stretch too far beyond rather small environs. At first I found this daunting, but then when I realized the potentials, the rest came relatively easy.

eSB: Do you have any plans to expand your story…or write in the same universe? If so, what more can your readers expect?

TJ: With The Awakened series, I prefer each of my stories to stand on its own. This way, I get to explore different facets of the world, the different emotional parameters my characters find themselves in. So, each of my stories should be a different experience for the readers.

eSB: If you could have a special power or familiar, what would it be and why?

TJ: Hmm, some sort of time travel would probably be my preference. That way I could explore the ancient world, re-discover things we have lost or forgotten, see events, and maybe meet a few people from the past. I likely wouldn’t be as interested in meeting the famous — no Caesars or Khans or religious figures for me — but there are a handful of writers with whom I wouldn’t mind having a chat.


Ty Johnston copyOriginally from Kentucky, Ty Johnston is a former newspaper journalist of 20 years who now spends his days writing fiction in North Carolina along with memories of his loving wife. When not writing or reading, he enjoys longswording, tabletop role-playing games, and hiking. He is the author of several fantasy series, including The Kobalos Trilogy, The Sword of Bayne Trilogy, and The Walking Gods Trilogy.

SOCIAL MEDIA USER IDs

Facebook – www.facebook.com/htjohnston

Twitter – twitter.com/htjohnston

Goodreads – www.goodreads.com/author/show/2348979.Ty_Johnston

Amazon Author Page –
https://www.amazon.com/Ty-Johnston/e/B002MCBQRU

Blog Address – tyjohnston.blogspot.com

Tumblr – tyjohnston.tumblr.com/

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – ED GREENWOOD


eSpec Books interviews Ed Greenwood, contributor to The Awakened Modern, edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: What kind of challenges did you find writing for this series?

EG: Cutting back on my natural urges to write madly off in all directions, detailing lots of territory and writing about the intertwined lives and subplots of a huge cast of characters. I cut down to a single focus, and had fun that way, instead.  

eSB: What interested you in writing for this series?

EG: Hal Greenberg asked me to, I thought the central idea was fun, and I liked my co-contributors…and have liked them more with each GenCon breakfast with them I’ve managed to attend. It’s been a blast so far!

eSB: If you could have a special power or familiar, what would it be and why?

EG: I would want the special power of being able to stop time (with objects frozen in mid-fall, cars and people in mid-rush, and so on) so I could improve my failing-with-age powers of doing sixteen things at once. Without dropping anything.

eSB: Sunrise or stargazing?

EG: Both. As a writer and late-night reader, I see the stars often. And as a husband with a day job and a wife to care for, I see the sunrise all too often!

eSB: What are some of your own works readers can look for?

EG: As a young boy, I created the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting, later adopted as the “world” of the Dungeons & Dragons game, and have published over 20 Realms novels. I’ve also written five Aglirta novels about The Band of Four, a Falconfar trilogy, a Niflheim duology, a steampunk novel entitled The Iron Assassin, and many more; I’ve written, co-written, or contributed to over 300 books thus far. Yes, my house is groaningly crammed full of books. And I’m taking it easy, these days: I’m writing only a novel a month.

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eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

EG: I’ve started a new transmedia publishing venture, The Ed Greenwood Group, for creatives interested in working in new genre settings I’m creating, such as Hellmaw (daemons lurking among us on Earth, who consider us food; dark urban fantasy); Stormtalons (a medieval-cum Renaissance world in which a tyrant archwizard tries to control other wizards, and is defied by priests of the Six gods, as magical mists, the Stormtalons, ravage the world, and the mighty Sleeping Dragons stir; high fantasy), and almost 30 other settings.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you? 

EG: On the web, drop in on onderlibrum.com (where I blog at “The EdVerse”) or theedgreenwoodgroup.com, or find me on Facebook (I’m, yes, Ed Greenwood) and on Twitter at @TheEdVerse


Ed Greenwood is a New York Times-bestselling Canadian writer, game designer, and librarian best known for creating The Forgotten Realms® fantasy world fifty years ago. His 350-plus books have sold millions of copies worldwide in more than three dozen languages. Ed was elected to the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art & Design Hall of Fame in 2003, and has won multiple ENNIE and Origins and other awards. Through The Ed Greenwood Group, he now helms many shared storytelling worlds he’s created; they can be found at OnderLibrum.com

EARLY WARNING SYSTEM


Our next campaign is about to launch:  

eSpec Books is working in conjunction with The Awakened editor and game designer Hal Greenberg to bring you the first-ever incursion of The Awakened phenomenon in the modern world.  

The sudden appearance of a second moon in Earth’s sky awakens latent abilities in humanity…a link to a familiar, control of the elements, and so much more becomes possible as the second moon takes effect. What impact will this sudden change have on society? Only time will tell.  

Contents  

  • Wolves Run by Night by Ed Greenwood  
  • Little Sisters of the Hourglass by James Chambers  
  • Cold Snap by Ty Johnston  
  • Return of the Devis by Torah Cotrill  
  • Silverback by Hal Greenberg and Ken Shannon  
  • Whiteout by Erik Scott de Bie  
  • Details in Death by Jennifer Brozek  
  • Song of Tyrta by Drew Bittner  
  • Fire and Brimstone by Walt Ciechanowski  

If you would like to check it out, the URL is http://tiny.cc/AwakenedModern  

Best,  

Danielle

eSPEC EXCERPTS – SELK-SKIN DEEP


proof-tbobafThis is a part of our series of excerpts connected with our campaign for The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries. All of the authors have been selected based on fan and reviewer recognition as some of the best examples of Bad-Ass Faeries, representing over a decade of this award-winning series. If you are interested in learning more about The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, please check out our Kickstarter. #Make100


Selk-Skin Deep

Kelly A. Harmon

Cade Owen stood on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Livingstone, watching the crew of an ammunition ship loading armaments on board. The night sea cooperated. Gentle waves in the Gulf of Tonkin lapped at the two navy vessels. Men from the other ship, the USS Redoubt, sent over bomb after bomb until a crewman from the Livingstone pointed to a large wooden crate and made a cutting motion with his hands, halting the transfer.

Cade itched to know what the man’s agitation signaled. But from this distance, and under these lighting conditions, he couldn’t make out the problem. The carrier needed those munitions. Without them, the fighter jets couldn’t make their ordered strafing runs north of Hanoi in the morning, and he couldn’t rendezvous with the other SEALs later in the week with the Biet Hai Commandos in Da Nang.

Thank Manannán mac Lir. And President Kennedy, he thought, who created the SEALs only recently. He hoped this special mission would grant him a reprieve from the boredom his nearly immortal life provided him, even if he had to live among humans to find surcease. Humans weren’t a bad sort; he just couldn’t fathom why they seemed to live their lives so intensely.

Didn’t they realize that life is a series of up and down cycles? What made it so hard for them to accept that and move on? How can there be anything worth fighting over—dying over—when all things circle back in the ebb and flow of life?

He would love to discuss it with Friedman, but that would mean telling Friedman his bunkmate wasn’t human. Perhaps they’d known each long enough to swim that current. Long days confined together with the threat of war hanging over their heads had shaped their friendship far more quickly than a casual friendship might have. He’d give it some thought.

Until then, he would observe their intensity first hand. For now, he was just another man on the ship. And if he died serving? More the better, for it gave his life a purpose: something more than living and dying with the sea; yet, still living and dying by the sea.

The trident insignia of the Navy SEALs on his lapel gleamed in the moonlight. The brooding look on his face took on a more thoughtful aspect. He reached within his coveralls and pulled a small, rolled fur from around his neck. Shaking out the seal-shaped pelt, he moved into the darker shadow cast by an F4 Phantom and stripped out of his clothes. He draped the skin over his shoulders, letting the length of it drape down his back. Then, he grabbed the edges, pulling and tugging, smoothing the skin around himself until it grew large enough to cover him, turning him into a seal.

In an instant, the darkness disappeared, and Cade could see almost as well as if there were daylight. He opened his mouth, tasting the salty tang of the ocean on his tongue. He drew in a large breath, savoring the smell. He had waiting too long to return to true form. It always felt this way to him, after the change, like the sea wooed him back. If he were his human self, he would have smiled from the pleasure of it.

He dove into the water, falling forty feet through the air, cutting into the sea in a graceful arc. He plunged deep into the water, then surfaced and made his way around the side of the carrier and closer to the argument.


Kelly A. Harmon used to write truthful, honest stories about authors and thespians, senators and statesmen, movie stars and murderers. Now she writes lies, which is infinitely more satisfying, but lacks the convenience of doorstep delivery. She is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. A Baltimore native, she writes the Charm City Darkness series, which includes the novels Stoned in Charm City, A Favor for a Fiend, and the soon to be published, A Blue Collar Proposition. Her science fiction and fantasy stories can be found in Triangulation: Dark Glass, Hellebore and Rue, and Deep Cuts: Mayhem, Menace and Misery.  

Ms. Harmon is a former newspaper reporter and editor, and now edits for Pole to Pole Publishing, a small Baltimore publisher. She is co-editor of Hides the Dark Tower along with Vonnie Winslow Crist. For more information, visit her blog at http://kellyaharmn.com, or, find her on Facebook and Twitter: http://facebook.com/Kelly-A-Harmon1, https://twitter.com/kellyaharmon.