Interview with Brian Francis Slattery

I’ve had the great pleasure of interviewing Brian Francis Slattery. Brian Francis Slattery is the author of several books and one of the authors of a serial that I write a lot about- Bookburners. He has won the Philip K. Dick Award with his book Lost Everything and is a prominent short story writer.

In this interview, I’ll especially focus on Bookburners. Bookburners is an episodic series in which we follow Sal, a former cop who, instead of jailing bad guys, finds magic artifacts and locks them away. Want to read it? Click here.

Now, for the questions:

Given that this is the first question, I’ll ask you about the beginning. How did you get into writing?

I’m one of those people who always wrote, from a very early age. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t into writing. But I got into writing professionally pretty slowly. Baby steps. I was an editor first, and still am. Then I tried my hand at journalism and it stuck. I got very lucky and had a first book published. I pretty much pinch myself about the rest.

Following up on that, how did you get sucked into the Bookburners’ world?

After writing four books on my own, I was interested in some sort of collaborative project. Maybe a graphic novel? Some other multimedia thing? I was open to anything (still am). When I heard Serial Box was starting up, I jumped at it. Four years later, I’d say collaborating with other people is even better than I expected it to be. Working with Andrea, Margaret, Max, and Mur has been one of my most satisfying writing experiences so far.

Every author has a special kind of writing, we can see that in Bookburners. However, the writing’s quite cohesive too. How do you manage that?

We talked from the very beginning about how to balance our individual voices and overall cohesiveness. Because we were deliberate about it, we settled pretty easily on a certain mode of writing—simple, clear, straightforward—that could serve as the best vehicle for the story we wanted to tell, while also letting each of us flex our particular writing muscles in new and interesting ways. A great editorial team helps, too.

In Portugal, there are a lot of sacred cities, how come the Bookburners haven’t come here yet?

It’s funny you mention that, because my wife and I took a trip to Portugal several years ago that remains quite vivid in my mind—from the architecture to the food and music to the people we met to the general feel of the landscape—and I have been looking for an excuse to set one of the episodes there from the beginning. We do have another season ahead of us, so who knows? A chase through the near-vertical alleyways of Lisbon? A secret society in Évora? A dive into the river in Porto? It could happen.

In your episode “An Excellent Day for an Exorcism”, we know that demons live in a different dimension from ours. Is it Hell? If so, does that mean that God is real?

You’re asking me a lot of interesting questions! I imagine you’d get a somewhat different answer from each writer on the Bookburners team, but at least from my perspective, I’ve operated under the assumption that the wide world of magic is essentially incomprehensible to us. It’s bigger and weirder than the reality we’re used to, and the various concepts we have to try to get our minds around it—from religious and spiritual to paranormal and pseudoscientific—latch onto pieces of a much greater puzzle. So I write from that point of view. That isn’t to say that one interpretation is right and another is wrong. Part of the fun for me as a writer (and hopefully for readers) is to leave room for readers to make sense of the magic in Bookburners in their own ways, much like the characters in the story do.

You’ve written some of the most gruesome episodes so far. Whilst writing, did you ever think you were going too far?

Part of the pleasure of collaboration is the ability to take risks. We all suggest ideas in our initial story meetings that end up on the cutting room floor. We all try things now and again that don’t work, and we take out those parts. I’ve pretty much written every episode with the intent to push things as far as I can, and regarding the gruesomeness of them, I’ve been waiting for my collaborators to pull me back. So far they haven’t.

On that note, how do you manage to write something that will both shock the reader but also make them want to read more?

I’m pleased that the gruesome stuff is having that effect! From my perspective, I write scenes like that with two things in mind. First off, I see myself as essentially a journalist in the world of magic. I try to convey what happened in the most straightforward way I can think of. But we also try to write from a specific character’s perspective at any given point, and I don’t like writing scenes of consequence-free violence. One way to make sure those consequences are felt is to write from the victim’s perspective rather than the perpetrator’s. I do this as often as it makes sense to do so (though there are exceptions), and it’s definitely my hope that this helps the reader connect to the story, even if that connection might hurt a bit.

Now, to finish things off, which of your works do you recommend to those who love Bookburners?

I am the worst at self-promotion, and one of the things I love about Bookburners is the way the collaboration has changed both the kinds of stories I’ve been telling and the ways I’ve been telling them. That said, I’d say in some ways that Bookburners is a cross between my second book (Liberation) and my fourth book (The Family Hightower), in that it’s a collision between weird stuff and a detective story. But I’d suggest that people who are interested in what makes Bookburners tick should check out all of our creative output. And maybe watch more Spanish movies.

 

That’s all we have (for now!). Thank you so much, Brian Slattery, for giving me this opportunity and answering my questions.

 

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Taproot – Book Review

35833506Author: Keezy Young

127 pages

Genre: Fantasy Graphic Novel

Synopsis: Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means… leaving him.

Source: Netgalley (in exchange for an honest review)

This book tells the story of a gardener who can see ghosts.

The book’s concept is very interesting and its execution is done perfectly.

The art’s beautiful and I love how the colors work, how they change throughout the story and how they work with each character.

The story’s short, simple, sweet and compelling.

All of the characters are lovable and have something special about them.

I really like this book, I hope you read it too.

Rating: 5 stars

A Stolen Kiss (Stolen Royals #1) – Book Review

28497161Author: Kelsey Keating

346 pages

Genre: Fantasy Young Adult

Synopsis: A stolen kiss. An unstable curse. One big mess in the making.

Derric Harver never expected to amount to anything more than the palace stableboy, but when Princess Maria’s curse keeps her from accepting a prince’s proposal, she turns to him for help, and he doesn’t dare refuse.

With the help of a lady’s maid and a prince, Derric and Maria embark on a dangerous adventure to find the sorceress who cast the curse. Along the way they battle deadly creatures and make new friends–all the while struggling with the undeniable chemistry between them. Reaching their destination won’t be easy, but the true danger peril in the truths they’ve fought for years to keep hidden.

Source: Borrowed (from Every Book Counts)

I’ve always loved fairy tales, specially when they’re ”adapted” to audiences that aren’t kids, so when my sister told me about this book, I knew I needed to read it.

This book tells the story of a princess trying to break her curse.

The writing itself is simple yet compelling.

This book has an amazing story. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and yet, it’ll make you want to read more and more. It also features hilarious moments and unexpected plot twists.

To top it off, this book has an amazing set of characters. They’re lovable and yet they’re not that kind of innocent and “lovable” they’re annoying. They also experience amazing character development.

Rating: 5 stars

Anything worth having is worth struggling to achieve.

Book Club Discussion: Black Seed (Seed World #2) by Kenneth Marshall

So, this month’s book club pick was Black Seed by Kenneth Marshall. Neither one of us could finish it. We already discussed the first book of the series (that we both read) on another post (LINK).

What did you think of the synopsis? Did it reveal too much plot or too little?

EveryBookCounts– I think the synopsis is good. It makes the book sound interesting, even though it is not.

ThatOneNerdyGirl -I think it hypes the book way too much. It promises a book about mystery and doesn’t deliver. Also, it’s way too long.

 

What did you think of the characters? Was there character development?

T- Overall, I think there isn’t one good person in that book. Also, there are only two types of female characters: badasses (Kaera and Kali) and sweet innocent angels (Ai).

E- I agree. The characters were the same as in the previous book, I felt like I was reading it all over again. I don’t consider that there was any development at all.

 

What did you think of the plot?

E- The plot felt like a repetition of the first book. It was about the same characters in almost the same circumstances as we saw in White Seed.

T- I think the author also tried to make the book’s mystery a lot more complex than it was in the previous book, but he didn’t make us care.

 

Were there problems in the story?

T- It has the exact same problems that I had with the first book.

E- My biggest problem was exactly that. It was almost a copy of the first book, that I didn’t even enjoy that much

 

What do you think the author did right?

E- I think the concept was pretty good. It sounded interesting but the execution was lacking.

T- The concept is interesting, it’s what made me pick the first book up. However, as you’ve said, it could have been better explored.

 

What do you think the author did wrong?

T- This book could have let us know more about Athena, how it works, how Kaera rose to power and things like that. However, it has the same plot as the previous book but with higher stakes (with the black seed and all).

E- The author should have spent more time thinking about this sequel. It should feel different from the first book.
As you can see, this book was not for us. That doesn’t mean other people won’t like it, just that we don’t.

Black Seed (Seed World #2) – Book Review

White Seed (Seed World #1) – Book Review

34325240Author: Kenneth Marshall

316 pages

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: The White Seed Brings Life to Worlds

Three thousand years ago, the seeds arrived from Earth on hundreds of worlds. The developed worlds formed the Network, connected only by radio and laser. Since the time of the seeds, nothing but information has traveled between the stars. Now a starship, The Child of Ambition, is changing that. Her first mission: to explore the dark worlds, the ones that failed.

The Black Seed Folds Space

Not an object, but a place—a manifold in space. A thing so hard to create, the Ancients only ever made three. The heart of a starship, or the core of the deadliest weapon in human history. The most precious thing in the Universe—or the most dangerous.

Alon Ienian—scientist, soldier, assassin. Member of a force so secret no operative will speak its true name. He came out of retirement to kill an old friend, and accepted a mission from his worst enemy, to save his home world from itself.

The black seed must be controlled, and Aestas—Summer World—holds the key. Outside air temperature: minus fifty degrees Celsius. After the oceans freeze and the weather ends, only the dead remain.

Source: Netgalley (in exchange for an honest review)

This book is a somewhat direct sequel of the previous.

Writing wise, it’s a lot less messier than White Seed. It still has an assignment sheet, which is still useless.

Character wise, it’s the same, only Alon seems to have changed. Also, there are only two types of girls in this book- the badasses who use the word ‘fuck’ in every sentence and girly girls who are really cute and must be protected at all costs.

Story wise, it has the same skeleton as the previous book and I was able to predict plenty of plot points.

Overall, I didn’t like this book and wasn’t even able to finish it.

Rating: 1 star

Book Club Discussion

 

 

Smosh – Book Review

32471986Authors: Michael McDermott, Yale Stewart and David Atchison

Contributors: Franco Viglino and Jerry Gaylord

Genre: Graphic Novel

Synopsis: SMOSH, the Kings of YouTube Comedy, now bring their wildly popular humor sketches — namely, Super Virgin Squad, Box Man, and That Damn Neighbor — to comics! Behold, the Super Virgin Squad! Gathered together in the V-Cave, this group of unique individuals channel their sexual frustration into superhuman abilities to defend the physically weak, the socially awkward… the geekiest among us! Billy, Paulie, and Stevie’s latest mission? To save one of their moms from the presumably slimy seductions of a website swinger! Beware of That Damn Neighbor! Benny Jean and Cletus just want to drink beer and admire their lawn flamingo, but the weirdo next door will not be ignored! Witness a tale of friendship, fame, and freak accidents as Box Man’s origin springs to life, in crazy detail! Thrill as Box Man and friends try to make sense of his weird twist of fate, attempting to make him the first-ever cardboard hero and, when that fails, settling on celebrity spokesperson. But can a move made in desperation ever go wrong?

Source: Netgalley (in exchange for an honest review)

This book’s art is very similar to that of vintage comic books, which is possibly the only thing this book did right.

The story is uninteresting, it’s, in a word, boring.

The character’s aren’t that great either, they’re simply annoying.

Rating: 1 star

The Mistery of Marie Rogêt (C. Auguste Dupin #2) – Book Review

C. Auguste Dupin #1 – Book Review

26474525Author: Edgar Allan Poe

76 pages

Genre: Classic Mystery

Synopsis: Poe’s detective character C. Auguste Dupin and his sidekick the unnamed narrator undertake the unsolved murder of Marie Roget in Paris. The body of Roget, a perfume shop employee, is found in the Seine River and the press takes a keen interest in the mystery. Dupin remarks that the newspapers “create a sensation … [rather] than to further the cause of truth.” Even so, he uses the newspaper reports to get into the mind of the murderer. Dupin uses his skills of ratiocination to determine that a single murderer was involved who dragged her by the cloth belt around her waist before dumping her body off a boat into the river. Finding the boat, Dupin suggests, will lead the police to the murderer.”

Source: Bought (in English)

This book tells the story of yet another murder that Dupin needs to solve.

The writing’s absolutely charming, even though it can get difficult to read more than 12 pages in one sitting (or maybe that has to do with my copy’s lettering, perhaps it’s too small).

The cast of characters is the same as they were in Rue Morgue.

Story wise, there isn’t much to it. This book is simply a conversation between Dupin and the narrator (even though Dupin speaks practically to himself) about pieces of news. It feels underwhelming after the amazing first story.

Rating: 3 stars

Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger, portion of truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.