eSpec Books interviews Greg Schauer, editor of The Awakened Modern, with Hal Greenberg, now funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: What challenges did you find editing stories for a pre-existing shared universe?

GS: For me, hardest thing about playing in someone else’s world is making sure everything meshes with, in this case, Hal’s vision. We have brought together some very talented people to play in his world. This being a modified version of our world means that the things we take for granted in our modern need to stay consistent story to story.   .

eSB: Can you tell us a little bit about your favorite story or stories from the book and why?

GS: My favorite stories involve the human/animal bonds that form after the second moon appears in the sky.

eSB: Sunrise or stargazing?

GS: Definitely Stargazing

eSB: What other projects have you worked on previously?

GS: Stories in Between from Fantasist Enterprises a collection celebrating the 30th anniversary of my bookstore, Between Books, With Great Power from Dark Quest, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson, The Side of Good/ The Side of Evil from eSpec Books, Arden House by Rob Bryan

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

GS: Most of my time is spent working on projects for eSpec, mostly as a copy editor. There a few things of my own in process but none are close to being finished.

Greg Schauer has been a bookseller for over 33 years as the owner of Between Books in Claymont Delaware. He has also helped produce concerts by local and national bands at the Arden Gild Hall in Arden Delaware, one of the country’s oldest continuously run secular utopian art colonies, for the past 10 years. He has previously worked on Stories in Between: the Between Books 30th anniversary anthology with W.H. Horner and Jeanne Benzel, Steampowered Tales of Awesomeness Vol 1 by Brian Thomas and Ray Witte, With Great Power with John L. French, and The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson with Danielle Ackley-McPhail. He can be contacted at gschauer@betweenbooks.com.


Facebook –Greg Schauer, Between Books

Book Review: Wilders, by Brenda Cooper

Here’s a great review on Wilders by Brenda Cooper (POST, eSpec Books).

The Skiffy and Fanty Show

Author Brenda Cooper describes herself as a futurist and as being passionate about the environment, and you’d better believe she’s dead serious about it. Which is to say that, unlike most of the books I’ve gotten to review for Skiffy and Fanty this month, Wilders is many things, but fun isn’t one of them. Like so much ecological science fiction (or ecopunk, if that’s a thing? I’m pretty sure it’s a thing), Wilders is written in deadly earnest. Look elsewhere for lighthearted escapism.

Refreshingly, though, unlike a lot of books I’ve stumbled across in this genre, Wilders manages not to get too preachy. Herein, Cooper works under the assumption that her readers are proficient singers in the choir, and proceeds to focus on telling us a story rather than trying to persuade us that wilderness matters, that the environment matters, that extinction hurts us, etc., etc.

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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.


Facebook –  Kenneth C Shannon III

Twitter – The Witching Hour

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


…Just wanted to share our exciting news…

Here is the cover for The Awakened Modern, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

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.

With stories by Ed Greenwood, James Chambers, Jennifer Brozek, Torah Cottrill, Ty Johnston, Hal Greenberg, Kenneth Shannon III, Drew Bittner, and Walt Ciechanowski.

About the Artist – Jhoneil Centeno is a Los Angeles based artist. A graduate of the renowned Art Center College of Design, he primarily works in digital media but recently found a new enthusiasm in working with oil paint again. His paintings have been featured in numerous books, galleries, and websites. In his spare time, he plays the ukulele badly, takes pictures of random things, and explores LA’s diverse food culture. He loves all things archery, specially the Asian variety and can hit an apple consistently at 20 yards using a traditional recurve bow. “My work explores the relationship between the body and romance tourism. With influences as diverse as Rousseau and Sriracha Marconi, new combinations are created from both traditional and modern textures. Ever since I was a student I have been fascinated by the unrelenting divergence of the mind. What starts out as triumph soon becomes manipulated into a carnival of lust, leaving only a sense of dread and the dawn of a new synthesis. As shimmering derivatives become transformed through studious and diverse practice, the viewer is left with a testament to the possibilities of our world.” His website is http://www.jhoneil.com/.


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. 


Twitter – @TorahCottrill

Amazon Author Page –

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


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+.


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 –

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

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



eSpec Books interviews Erik Scott de Bie, contributor to The Awakened Modern, edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer, funding now on Kickstarter.

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

EdB: It starts like this: The first thing you need to know is that this is not an admission of guilt. It’s not an accusation, a cry for help, or a suicide note. It’s a record.

Magic seems great and all, but it’s just as much a curse as a blessing. On her 19th birthday, my heroine manifested the power to drain away memories at a touch. Her first victim? Her then girlfriend, who doesn’t remember her at all. Since then, she’s been on the run from family, friends, and a mysterious government agency determined to control her devastating power.

eSB: What interested you in writing for this series?

EdB: Aside from it being hard for me to say no to Hal, I find the concept of the Awakened mythology fascinating. We humans have been telling stories about the transition from child to adult for as long as there have been stories, and the Awakened presents a new kind of coming of age story. And applying that logic to our own world? Fantastic.

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

EdB: Teleportation, no question. The ability to be anywhere at any moment? That would be amazing. And save me a lot of GenCon expenses.

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

EdB: I am the author of several novels in the iconic Forgotten Realms setting, as well as an ongoing post-apocalyptic epic series called the World of Ruin, which I describe as a collision between Game of Thrones and Fallout. I’m constantly writing more, and the best way to keep up with me is online.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you? 

EdB: Read my work, play a game with me, and/or hang out with me at a bar at GenCon. You can find out a lot about a person from how they write, how they game, and how they drink. 

Erik Scott de Bie is an American fantasy author and technical writer who has authored several Forgotten Realms novels. He has a degree in English composition and literature from Willamette University in Oregon. 


Facebook – www.facebook.com/Erik.S.deBie

Twitter – www.twitter.com/ErikScottdeBie

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Erik-Scott-de-Bie

Blog Address – http://erikscottdebie.com/