Some of you know I’ve been working on a new project with friends called Boralis Books. Boralis Books arose out of my frustration with New York publishing rejecting strong, well written page turners because they “didn’t know how to market them.” It’s happened to me several times and I know other authors have experienced the same frustration. So I decided to publish some novels myself, and to me, the best way to do it is to create a press and recruit staff—editors, proofers, designers—and try and put out quality product that rivals New York quality books.
Eventually, Boralis Books will release titles by multiple authors: novels, anthologies, collections, maybe a few novellas too. But for now, it is starting with three near future procedural thrillers by me. Every project will depend upon the success of prior projects for funding, so the initial plan is to release three books a year, one every four months, and see how it goes. Books will be released in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebooks—with audio to come as available. All books will be distributed via Ingram Sparks so bookstores anywhere can stock them if they desire, with ebooks initially exclusive to Kindle and then expanding from time to time to other mediums. We will, of course, also set up a Boralis Books store for selling the other formats as soon as we can.
For information on what we have so far, please check out Boralis Books at www.boralisbooks.com, a work in progress for sure. As more authors and projects are chosen, we will post information there. We will not be doing open submissions at least initially. I don’t have the time or resources to review them adequately and keep up with other plans. But we leave open that option for down the road.
Meanwhile, we plan to publish both speculative fiction and mystery/thriller with a few others possibly mixed in. We hope you’ll check out what we’re doing. Our first release will be Simon Says, the firs in my John Simon thrillers, which is Bosch meets Lethal Weapon with robots. It’s filled with action, strong memorable characters and humor and set in 2029 Kansas City, with a tough Luddite cop teaming with an android witness to solve a nanotech crime and his partner’s kidnapping. Future books will follow.
As always, launching a small press is a challenging endeavor, but having edited numerous novels and short stories, I hope I am up to the task with a lot of friends for support. Our editorial staff includes Guy Anthony Demarco, an MFA in Creative Writing, who also does our interior design. A.R. Crebs will be our book trailer and cover designer and artist, though we may employ others as time goes on. I also have some proofers and a few others as well.
Be sure and check us out. Simon Says is up for preorder now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold!
For those wanting to connect, here are my confirmed tour dates so far for Fall 2017. Still trying to fill in open weekends in November with dates in either Arkansas, Nebraska, or Iowa. John Morris (aka Alexi), hope to see you there.
Oct. 5-8, 2017 New York Comic Con, Javits Center, New York City, NY, Guest, Book Launches: Predator: If It Bleeds (Titan) and Infinite Stars (Titan)
Well, I said I was going to do it, and so here I am. At present, I don’t do general open calls because I just can’t read through all that would come in for the 3-4 anthologies I do a year. But one reason I got into anthology editing was to create opportunities not just for me, but for other writers, so instead I have decided to offer two week annual submissions periods for basically earning your way onto my invite list. So that first period will begin Monday and run two weeks, through September 21st. Here are the parameters:
1) Send your best story in RTF, DOC or PDF format. Make it easy on me to read your work. If I can’t open the file, I won’t read it.
2) Send me the best thing you have, published, unpublished, etc. I am NOT BUYING. All my current projects are full, BUT I am starting to pitch for anthologies in 2017 and 2018, so I will need writers when they sell, which means, I want to see what you can do. If I like your voice, craft, and style, then I will put you on my list.
3) Expect to wait a while. I am going to read through what I get, but it will take a while to read it because other ediitng and reading priorities must come first. The good news is, you can go about submitting elsewhere and living your life, because I am not buying right now so I don’t need exclusivity.
4) Please use standard manuscript formatting. I.E. double spaced, serif font, 12 point type, italics instead of underlining, wordcount and contact info above title on front page, etc. Also, NUMBER PAGES so if I read offline and drop one, I can easily find where the pages go and in what order.
5) If you story is over 7500 words, please contact me first.
6) If I have already bought stories from you or you know I own your books or stories, you just need to ask to be included. Please feel no need to submit pieces to this call. I will have enough to read already.
That’s it. That simple. Send these files to bryan at bryanthomasschmidt.net starting Monday with the subject: OPEN CALL (story name).
I will read and let you know if you’re invited to my list.
Oh, a couple notes on taste:
I like adventure stories more than lesson stories, but if you can do both, I will be awesomely impressed and pleased. I like character driven stories. I like heroes I can admire, but if the story is strong enough, of course, any of this won’t matter. I also do not like overuse of foul language or gratituitous sex and violence, so keep in mind that since I do PG themed anthologies mostly, your story samples should fit those parameters as much as possible. Beyond that, I like all kinds of genres, but I am not a huge vampire or zombie fan, just a warning.
I do reserve the right to just say no. I don’t owe you a slot, nor do I owe you an explanation. Unfortunately, this has to be said given the nature of the www world today, sot here it is. It is not that I plan to just arbitrarily say no without some kind of explanation, but I probably don’t have time to give long notes on every story. I don’t promise to read the whole thing either. If I don’t like it, I will treat it like any other slush. Time management is key. It is not personal. It is subjective and ruled by my personal taste, yes. I am open to people of all beliefs, lifestyles, ethinic backgrounds, cultures, etc. In fact, I strongly seek it out and don’t get enough from POC and non-western writers, so by all means, let me see what you’ve got.
I appreciate the opportunity to look at your work and your patience through this process, and I look forward to working with many of you in the future.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children’s science fiction and fantasy novels and anthologies. His debut novel, The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011, and was followed by two sequels. As editor, his anthologies include Shattered Shields (Baen, 2014), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, 2013), Raygun Chronicles (Every Day Publishing, 2013) and Space Battles (Flying Pen Press, 2012) with two more forthcoming from Baen Books and St. Martin’s Griffin in 2015 and 2016. He is also developmental editor for WordFire Press, owned by New York Times Bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Books he’s edited include The Martian by Andy Weir, My Big Fat Demonslayer Wedding by Angie Fox, The Outpost by Mike Resnick, A Game Of Authors by Frank Herbert and more. From December 2010 to earlier this year, he hosted Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat the first Wednesday of every month at 9 P.M. ET on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht and is a frequent guest and panelist at World Cons and other conventions. His website is www.bryanthomasschmidt. Twitter: @BryanThomasS
As most of you know, I am a very busy anthologist, with 8 projects in various stages of contract and development through 2017. Most of these have their allotment of writers already, but as I develop new projects, I hope to expand my stable. Because of budget and busyness, my reading time is limited and so slush is just not something I can manage at the moment, however, I have come up with an option that will appeal to some of you.
I am ending Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat in August. This is because of sheer exhaustion from four years, fading enthusiasm from me and regulars, and also needing time to read for both fun and work that I can’t find anywhere else. Interviewing people, even twice a week, and reading one of their books to do so, is a tremendous time commitment. I have had to put in 20 hours a week to it since starting in 2010. I just can’t keep up with that and slush, and I can’t read novels by friends or colleagues for fun, blurbs or more. Add to that my work in Acquisitions and Development for Wordfire as a Junior Editor, and I just am falling further and further behind. I hate that, so something had to give.
So the solution is that I will be doing an open submission period of two weeks, starting this Fall (September 1 through 15) where writers can send me their best work. The idea is to give me a chance to get to know your work–voice, style, etc. for consideration toward future projects with openings. I am not going to buy these stories. So send your best, whichever speculative genre you want. The sole exception is erotica. I don’t publish or buy it so it won’t be the best sample for me. I don’t promise quick turn around. It may, in fact, take me months to get through the submissions. But if you are professional quality in your writing, you will be considered for invites to future anthologies. You will be in the door. I will limit the word count, probably 6k words and under, but those details shall be announced when the Fall comes. And I will limit to one piece per writer as well. I need to be able to see an end game here if I ever hope to do it again. Published work is fine. I will be flexible on format as well. I will make it easy for you, so please do the same for me.
Further details will be announced when the submission time gets closer. But since many busy anthologists just don’t have time and resources to do many open calls, consider this a great chance to get into projects that may interest you in the future. If you are put in my pool, I will notify you and invite you to appropriate future projects. You also have the right to ask about openings when I announce projects you want to be invited to. Yes, people do that anyway, but if I don’t know your work, I almost always say no. Just a practicality. In any case, get those submissions ready. Reading stuff I’ve edited for taste might be a great way to see what I like in the meantime. I look forward to discovering new colleagues to work with.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek for Baen, Mission: Tomorrow, Galactic Games, Little Green Men–Attack! and Monster Hunter Tales (with Larry Correia) all forthcoming also for Baen, Joe Ledger: Unstoppable with Jonathan Maberry for St. Martin’s Griffin (forthcoming 2017), Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.
Well, another Con has arrived. From Friday through Sunday, I’ll be in Springdale, Arkansas at the Holiday Inn Conference Center for GlitchCon with the lovely Claire Ashgrove, my best bud and editing partner in Finish The Story, Jonathan Maberry and David Farland and several others. Here’s a full schedule of programming. See participants at the website at http://www.glitchcon.com/
FRIDAY, August 1
3:00 – 3:50 pm Creating Comics and Graphic Novels (Jonathan M. /
David F. / Kyle / *Tommy) (Steam Room)
5:00 OPENING CEREMONIES (John Q. Hammons Hall)
6:00 – 6:50 pm Pulp Fiction (Jonathan M. / David F. / Tommy / Bryan
S. / Phillip D.)(Steam Room)
6:00 – 8:00pm Story In A Bag, lead by Dyann Love Barr & Claire A. (Anime & Cosplay)
7:30 p.m. — David F. / Jonathan M. / Claire / Bryan to dinner
SATURDAY, August 2
10:00 – 10:50 — Collaboration (Sue S. / Bill A. / Brad S. / Dyann) (Steam Room)
12:00 – 12:50 — Series Writing (Saranna D. / David F. / Jonathan
M. / Bill A. / Claire A. / Dyann LB) (Anime & Cosplay)
1:00 – 1:50 — Writing 101 (David F. / Phillip D. / Sue S. / Dyan LB
/ Claire A. / Saranna D. / Bryan S. (MOD)) (Steam Room)
2:00-2:50 – Old School Monsters (Jonathan M.)(Steam Room)
3:00 – 3:50 pm Horror – Then and Now (Jonathan M. / David F.
/ Brad S./ Saranna D.)
4:00 – 4:50 — The Fantasy Allure (Jonathan M / David F. / Bryan S.
/ Brad S. / Claire A. / Saranna (MOD))(Steam Room)
7:00 – 7:50 — World Building (Sue S. / Bill A. / Dyann LB / Bryan
Well, for the third year in a row I am a panelist and moderator at CONQUEST 45, the local Kansas City Con on Friday May 23rd through Sunday May 25th. Well attended, with, as usual, a great lineup of guests and panelists, CONQUEST is the largest local Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention. And it’s always a blast, but also always hectic for locals like me, especially those of us who are members of the local fan club KacSFFS.
This year’s Guests of Honor are Glen Cook (Author GOH), David Lee Pancake (Artist GOH), Bridget Landry (Science GOH), Ray and Barbara Van Tillburg (Fan GOH), and also Caroline Spector (Toastmistress). Also attending (besides myself) are local professionals like Robin Wayne Bailey, Kij Johnson, Rich Horton , K.D. McEntire, Mark W. Tiedemann, Rob Chilson, Selina Rosen, Claire Ashgrove, Bradley Denton, H.G. Stratmann and Chris McKitterick. A full list can be found here.
Returning to downtown this year, CONQUEST 45 takes place at the Downtown Marriott, just off the famed Power and Light District, pretty much the center of Kansas City’s nightlife.
Room assignments are not final, but here’s the panels, panel descriptions and list of panelists in which I’ll be participating. As you’ll see, it’ll be a really hectic weekend for me. I also hope to have books on sale at Glen Cook’s dealer table, and we are working on a possible Raygun Chronicles party. When details on room assignments and the party are final, I’ll do another post, closer to the Con.
Here’s the schedule as it stands now:
Friday – May 23, 2014
Reading (Big Joe Turner A) Friday 1400
Author/Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt reads from his forthcoming epic fantasy series The Dawning Age.
SpecNoir (Count Basie Ballroom A) Friday 1700
Speculative fiction and noir mix particularly well in many subgenres and forms. What is noir and what are some examples of who’s writing what and good reads out there?
Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt Panelists: Glen Cook, Mark W. Tiedemann
Raygun Chronicles Launch Party Friday 2130 (Room 619)
Authors Todd Hunter and Robin Wayne Bailey join me to celebrate our pulp-style space opera anthology, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age. Party with snacks, drinks and giveaways.
Saturday – May 24th, 2014
Military Fantasy (Lester Young A) Saturday 1000
What is it? Who’s writing it? How does it differ from high fantasy? What are some examples?
Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt Panelists: Glen Cook, Kij Johnson, Robin Wayne Bailey
What makes a hero/heroine? (Jay McShann A) Saturday 1200
A discussion of what defines heroism today and what qualities we want to see in our heroes and heroines that make them heroic. And how are definitions evolving in the modern age.
Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt Panelists: Dennis Young, Gera Dean, Kij Johnson
Writing for younger audiences (Jay McShann B) Saturday 1300
Writing for adults and writing for YA, MG and Children differ. Authors and Editors discuss the differences, the approaches, and fine examples.
Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt Panelists: Chris McKitterick, Deanna Sjolander, K. D. McEntire
KID’S READING: Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Big Joe Turner A)
Children’s author Bryan Thomas Schmidt reads from his chapter book series ABRAHAM LINCOLN DINOSAUR HUNTER, a humorous, action adventure, alternate history for all ages.
Self-Editing 101 For Writers With Finish The Story (Mary Lou Williams A/B) Saturday 1600
Editorial team Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Claire Ashgrove discuss tips for basic editing of manuscripts, how to get perspective, common issues, and more.
Moderators/Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Claire Ashgrove
Sunday – May 25th, 2014
GOH Interview: Glen Cook (Count Basie Ballroom A)
Come here me do a live SFFWRTCHT-style interview with the amazing Glen Cook. And you can ask questions, too!
Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt Panelist: Glen Cook
Editors are not the Enemy (Mary Lou Williams A/B) Sunday 1100
What editors do, why it matters to writers, and why writers should consider them an asset not an enemy. An exploration of author-editor relationships.
Self-Publishing — Taking the Leap! (Mary Lou Williams A/B) Sunday 1300
Considering self-publishing your novel? It isn’t as easy as publishing a book and reaping the royalties, nor is it for every author. Discover pros and cons of the Indie market, tips to launching a successful book, and whether you’re prepared for the business demands.
Moderator: Claire Ashgrove Panelists: Karin Gastreich, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Brett Williams
Hope to see some of you there. Be sure to come by and say hello!
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut science fiction novel, The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011, and was followed by two sequels The Returning and The Exodus (forthcoming).His children’s books include 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter–Land Of Legends. Schmidt has edited edited anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age and, with Jennifer Brozek, coedited military high fantasy original anthology, Shattered Shields. Several more anthologies are under contract and forthcoming. Schmidt hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.
My friend Gene Doucette has a new book out called Immortal. A combination of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, it’s hard to categorize neatly by genre, but he’s given me the opportunity to review the book and do an interview as well. As a bonus, you can find an excerpt below. I hope you’ll check it out, and, if you like it, you can order the book here:
I don’t know how old I am. My earliest memory is something along the lines of fire good, ice bad, so I think I predate written history, but I don’t know by how much. I like to brag that I’ve been there from the beginning, and while this may very well be true, I generally just say it to pick up girls.
Surviving sixty thousand years takes cunning and more than a little luck. But in the twenty-first century Adam confronts new dangers: someone has found out what he is, a demon is after him, and he has run out of places to hide. Worst of all, he has had entirely too much to drink.
IMMORTAL is a first person confessional, penned by a man who is immortal but not invincible. In an artful blending of sci-fi, adventure, fantasy and humour, Immortal introduces us to a world with vampires, demons and other magical creatures, yet a world without actual magic. It is a contemporary fantasy for non-fantasy readers and enthusiasts alike.
Here’s my brief chat with Gene:
Immortality is a popular subject for a lot of writers. What made you decide to investigate it with Immortal?
To be honest, I had no idea how popular it was until I started promoting it. Then every few days it was, “Have you read…” or “Did you see…” I usually nod and try to point out where Immortal is different. And it is quite different. (I think the one story it has the most in common with is The Man From Earth, and the two stories are not at all close.)
I imagine I was drawn to it for the same reason most people were: the idea of being alive for long enough to have experienced things the rest of us have to read about is interesting. Maybe it’s a fear of death manifesting itself creatively, I don’t know.
In what way is Immortal different from the other stories?
When I began writing I posited one basic assumption: maybe this is all there is. I don’t mean religiously (although it made sense for my main character Adam to be an atheist) so much as intellectually and socially. On the scale of Adam’s lifetime societies are extremely temporary and knowledge is largely localized. There is a limit to the number of higher truths one can become aware of. In other words, grasping Plato doesn’t change anything if you’re still stuck in Aristotle’s rational reality.
So there is no magic, or true gods, or unnamable higher powers. And Adam has not become so detached from the world that he’s drifting through it like Bowie’s character in The Man Who Fell To Earth. He experiences. He interacts. And he drinks too much. He is a living representation of the history of mankind, but that history is messy and violent and not particularly full of enlightenment.
But you’ve included vampires and demons in this world.
I did. And pixies and iffrits and dragons, and in the next book you’ll see satyrs and werewolves and a few other things. But I took these beings and put them into a world without magic, and a world where history unfolds the way it has in the real world, in our world, meaning these creatures can’t have been significant enough to have had a direct effect. These are beings on the margins.
Including extra-human creatures was a concession I found I had to make to tell the story. And I’ve found that as long as readers find Adam plausible—and so far they have—the beings he associates with occasionally are equally plausible.
One of Adam’s themes throughout the book is that people exaggerate things, and that while some of the legendary things or events may have existed or happened, they were not as epic as described. It’s not a leap to have your main character declare on one page that the French Revolution was just an after-the-fact rationalization of a street riot, and on another page point out that the proportion of vampires that are also evil killers is roughly the same as the proportion of humans that are also evil killers.
Is this book part of a series or a standalone?
It’s part of a series now. When I first wrote it back in… good lord, 2004? I wrote a story that answered most of the questions raised within the book, such that a second or third book would have been less necessary, let’s say. But in rewrites I realized I’d crammed far too much into the final portion of the novel and it was killing the pace. So I pulled out some things—the most significant being his history with a certain red-haired woman. And then I went and wrote a second book that still didn’t answer those questions. So it’s going to be at least three books long.
What other books have you written?
My other published work is in humor. In 1999 I put out a collection of my humor columns called Beating Up Daddy and in 2001 I released The Other Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: A Parody which is a collection of fake “chapters” I did on my old website for fun. I just released an anniversary edition of that with new chapters as an ebook. I also put out a second collection of humor columns called Vacations and Other Errors In Judgment as an ebook a year or so ago.
For novels, I wrote a book called Charlatan before Immortal. It was agented and shopped but didn’t get published. I turned it into a screenplay a few years back, and that screenplay has won a few awards but isn’t currently optioned. Which is a shame; I think it’s better than most thrillers out there right now. And while Immortal was being shopped I wrote a novel called Fixer for which a deal may be pending. Then there’s Hellenic Immortal, which is in process.
What made you decide to become a writer?
I don’t think I ever made that decision. It was something I expected to be doing with my life as far back as when I learned how to read.
Do you outline, do character sketches, etc. or let the story unfold as it comes?
I start at the beginning and do the best I can to get to the end. So no outlines or character sketches or anything like that. But all that means is that I hold everything in my head rather than jotting it down. It’s easier for me to make changes if it’s not committed to “paper” somewhere. And my characters reveal themselves to me at the same time as the reader, usually through dialogue. It’s not something I’d recommend to someone who isn’t really good at writing dialogue, to be honest. (If I am allowed one moment of egotism: I am very good at dialogue.) Character delineation through conversation was one of the first things I learned how to do well, as a playwright.
Intrigued? I know I was. So here’s an excerpt from Immortal chapter four, in which Adam ponders the nature of the only other immortal he’s ever encountered, a red-haired mystery woman he’s never spoken to and only seen in glimpses throughout history.
I ran through the possibilities again. Vampire was one that was most likely, as they are hypothetically just as immortal as me. Except I’d seen her in the daytime on more than one occasion. And, every vampire I ever met had black eyes. Possibly she was a vampire that didn’t need to hide from sunlight and had blue eyes, but thats a bit like saying something is a cat except it walks on hind legs and has no fur or whiskers.
I dont know any other sentient humanoids that have a get-out-of-death clause. Well other than me. And I don’t have porcelain skin and haunting eyes. So she might be like me, but was she the same thing as me?
What was she?
Mind you, I’d run through all this before thousands of times. I’ve taken suggestions, too. A succubus I used to hang out with insisted my red-haired mystery girl was death incarnate, meaning my endless search for her was actually a complex working-out of my immortality issues. (A note: succubi are notorious amateur psychologists and have been since well before Freud. In fact I have it on good authority that Freud stole his whole gig from a particularly talkative succubus he used to know. And if you don’t believe Freud knew a succubus, you haven’t read Freud.) I didn’t find the argument convincing. If I am to believe in some sort of anthropomorphic representation of mortality I should first develop a belief in some higher power, or at least in life-after-death.
I’m a pretty sad example of what one should do with eternal life. I’ve never reached any higher level of consciousness, I don’t have access to any great truths, and I’ve never borne witness to the divine or transcendent. Some of this is just bad luck. Like working in the fishing industry in Galilee and never once running into Jesus. But in my defense there were an awful lot of people back then claiming to be the son of God; I probably wouldn’t have been able to pick him out of the crowd. And since I don’t believe there is a God, I doubt we would have gotten along all that well anyway.
I probably wasnt always quite so atheistic. I don’t recall much of my early hunter-gatherer days, but I’m sure that back then I believed in lots of gods. And that the stars were pinholes in an enclosed firmament. There might even have been a giant turtle involved. And I distinctly recall a crude religious ceremony involving a mammoth skin and lots of face paint. But after centuries on the mortal coil I’ve come to realize that religion is for people who expect to die someday and really want to go to a better place when that happens. It doesn’t apply to me.
Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider is the story of the famous novelist Beth Rider, author of vampire books and a Christian, who finds herself being pursued by the Rakum, an ancient order of vampires. Labelled a “Rabbit,” a marked target, by an Elder, she is hunted by all Rakum to be tortured again and again because her books have started causing Rakum to leave the fold in search of a better way.
When some of the vampires try and protect her, she finds herself surrounded by conflict as the power struggle rages around her. As the conflict grows, Beth finds her faith a pillar of strength in the midst of it and soon her strength inspires those around her. They began asking questions and seeking answers they’d never thought about before. The “virus” sweeping through the Rakum, so feared by Jack Dawn, Beth and Michael’s nemesis, begans spreading all the more, until the final confrontation with the Rakum Fathers and Beth’s God.
I have to admit, when Ellen first described her book, I was skeptical. I had no concept of how Christianity and Vampires could be in the same book. Other than a vampire hunter priest, it just didn’t make sense to me. And I also have to say the book had a slow start. Despite the short chapters and moving between characters, it didn’t really hook me until 40 pages in when the back story of one of the supporting characters just touched me. After that I devoured the book rapidly, page after page.
First novels are tricky, especially then they are self-published, which is becoming more and more common. But Maze avoids most of the pitfalls. There are some missed words, such as “to” for “too” and such, but even novels from the major print houses let those slip through sometimes. For me the novel’s major weaknesses were two holes in character motivations. First, with Michael seeming to flip over Beth because she’s a pretty girl and looks too nice to be an enemy of the Rakum. Given the risks and potential costs for him, I expected a stronger reasoning. The second involved Beth herself, whose faith is so solid and even that she seems to hardly fear the events unfolding around her. In my experience, even strong, devoted Christians would have moments of fear and questioning under such circumstances, but Beth never seems to. Additionally, faced with the possibility of extraterrestrials at one point, she finds them hard to believe while fully accepting the vampires and other craziness consuming her days.
These are small issues however when the book sweeps you away. Maze does an amazing job with pacing, keeping things moving at a lightning pace in a way that catches you up and takes you along for the ride. The plot continues unfolding with various complications that raise the stakes as the book races toward the inevitable confrontation between the Rakum and Beth’s God.
A powerful first novel, I am surprised a mainstream house has yet to snatch this up. It may be because of the present competitive environment, but I have no doubt that as this book keeps growing in popularity, they will take notice. I have the pleasure of proofing/editing the sequel next month, and if it’s this good, the series can only become more popular.
Whether you’re a vampire story fan or reticent as I was, I highly recommend this book from an exciting new talent.