Thursday, April 7, 2016

Get to Know K.W. Taylor

Dog Star Books welcomes K.W. Taylor! K.W. is the author of the Sam Brody urban fantasy series, about a dragonslaying disc jockey (The Red Eye and The House on Concordia Drive, both published by Alliteration Ink). She has short stories in the anthologies The Grotesquerie (Mocha Memoirs Press, 2014), 100 Worlds (Dreamscape Press, 2013), Sidekicks! (Alliteration Ink, 2013), Touched by Darkness (Etopia Press, 2012), and Once Bitten, Never Die (Wicked East Press, 2011), as well as many print and electronic magazines. Taylor holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She teaches college English and Women’s Studies in Ohio, where she lives in a restored nineteenth-century home with her husband and the world’s most rambunctious kitten. The Curiosity Killers is her first science fiction novel. She blogs at www.kwtaylorwriter.com and is hard at work on The Girl with Mechanical Wings, the second volume of the Jonson’s Exotic Travel series.

Tell us about your first Dog Star release!

Dog Star is publishing my novel The Curiosity Killers this spring. It’s my first foray into science fiction, having done largely urban fantasy and horror up to this point. The Curiosity Killers is a time travel novel about a historian and a physicist who run a travel agency that, instead of sending people to exotic places, sends them back in time instead. There are a lot of classic historical unsolved mysteries at the heart of the book, most prominently Jack the Ripper, the Mothman, and the lost colony of Roanoke, and it features Wilbur Wright as a supporting character.

Who and what were your influences for this book?
I’ve always loved time travel fiction, both in literature and in media. While some people of my generation think of the original Star Wars trilogy as their SF cultural touchstone, mine is the Back to the Future trilogy. I also grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries and was fascinated with the idea that being able to time travel to the scene of an unsolved crime or disappearance or other mysterious happening and simple observation would unravel all these loose threads of history. While this obviously isn’t literally possible, we can still postulate and observe and draw interesting conclusions, or simply make up our own theories. I also live in Dayton, the hometown of the Wright brothers, and the original idea for the book was a sort of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen concept with both brothers inventing time travel and then going on adventures together. As I developed the storyline, though, I grew more interested in linking the past and the present and Orville’s role diminished in the editing process. Twenty-second century historian Ben Jonson is the protagonist, as I wanted to explore someone in an academic field similar to my own who struggles between scholarship for its own sake and applying that scholarship to something more hands-on. For me, that struggle is between literary analysis and the performative act of creative writing, while for Ben it’s the struggle between being an observer of historical events and actively time traveling to participate in or change them.

Describe your writing process, especially for this manuscript.
I wrote this book as my thesis project for my MFA degree, though one chapter near the middle began life as a standalone short story in 2011. Because it was originally an academic project, the process of writing and revision took a lot longer than for other works of mine; my 2014 novelette The House on Concordia Drive, for instance, went from first draft to revision to publication in a little over a year, whereas The Curiosity Killers was obviously more ambitious in so many ways. I also had to do a ton of historical research, especially on the Wrights and on all the various mysteries I cover. I can tell you way more than you ever wanted to know about the D.B. Cooper hijacking or about the Black Dahlia, because even if I didn’t deal with a particular mystery more than in passing, I still read a ton to prepare. I don’t usually need to do quite so much research on a more contemporary piece. So the writing process was generally done in fits and starts and binge sessions a few times a month in between tons and tons of research reading. I also took the entire manuscript apart in several ways; due to the non-linear nature of telling a time travel story, I had to reduce my reliance on flashbacks so as not to confuse the reader. I usually love flashbacks and for a more straightforward piece without a lot of literal time hopping, using them sparingly is not often a problem. Here, I was color coding and shifting and moving scenes and entire sections of the book around even up to a few weeks before submitting my final manuscript. One of my thesis advisors, the SF author Heidi Ruby Miller, was so helpful in guiding me through the unique structural challenges of writing the time travel subgenre!

Why sci-fi/speculative fiction?
Instead of calling myself a “SF author” or a “horror author” or what have you, I’ve always just wanted to call myself a “speculative fiction” author. No matter what the specific genre, any work that starts out with posing the question “what if…” is something I want to read and, by extension, write. I think, too, that science fiction is uniquely useful as a genre through which an author can postulate ideas about sociological issues, political issues, and issues surrounding topics that are difficult to talk about, like race and gender. The Curiosity Killers can, I think, be read as a fairly straightforward adventure novel, with fun elements sprinkled in that tie it to larger SF traditions as well as a variety of subgenres (steampunk, dystopian fiction, and even science fiction romance), but I certainly think readers can take more from it, if they want.

What do you hope readers will take from this book?
I hope readers will see the book as a thrill ride with some layers to it. It’s fun for people who like neo-Victoriana, it’s fun for people who like aliens and weird creatures, and it’s fun for people who like a bit of thriller mixed in with their SF. But the other layers, which have varying levels of subtlety, deal with some difficult subjects as well. The setting for most of the action is a post-war, divided nation, with one country’s leader holding disturbing opinions about race, gender, and violence. I also handle the Jack the Ripper plot a lot differently than most works of either fiction or non-fiction, unflinchingly reminding the reader of the suffering of the victims, who were not Sherlock Holmes-esque plot devices in a cozy mystery but were real, flesh and blood women victimized by someone who clearly hated them for their gender. I think writing about these themes in the confines of mainstream, realistic fiction without a speculative bent could be hard to swallow or extremely painful, or even fail to be so inclusive in some ways, but speculative fiction can allow the writer to use allegory to make subjects like these more applicable to a wider range of social problems.

Can you leave us with a teaser?
A young man stood in the now-open doorway, studying her. He was of South-Asian descent and had wild dark hair and thick eyebrows. His velvet blazer looked soft to the touch but also somewhat frayed around the hems. His voice was deep, deeper than Violet imagined someone with his boyish looks would have.
Violet blinked. “Was I thinking out loud?” she asked the man as she stood up.
He smiled and nodded. “You wonder how we actually do the time travel thing, hmm?” He strode across the room and stretched a hand out to her. “I’m Jonson, Ben Jonson.”
Violet shook his hand. “You own this?” she asked.
“I own the building and the business,” he replied. “But my partner owns the tech.”
“Tech,” Violet said. “So . . . ”
“Yes. It’s true. My partner owns and operates a time machine.”
“You think so, but I’m a rational person, Mister Jonson. I have a really hard time believing that.”
“It’s easier to think I’m crazy?” Ben asked. “Go ahead. Sometimes I think I am, but I know too much.”

Connect with K.W. on Twitter @kwtaylorwriter and attend her Fiction with Limits workshop at the Broadkill Resort from April 15th to April 18th!

Monday, March 28, 2016

REVIEW: Starrie by Heidi Ruby Miller at Publisher's Weekly

REVIEWS


Nice review from Publisher's Weekly for Starrie (From the World of Ambasadora) by Heidi Ruby Miller! Though it is a standalone novel, this book takes place chronologically right after Greenshift and runs concurrent with Marked by Light.


"Miller’s short third novel in the space-faring, caste-bound, hierarchically polyamorous, and socially striated Ambasadora universe (after 2013’s Greenshift) manages to balance the exoticized presentation of the setting with relatable human interaction...the romance between Ben and Naela highlights the emotional side of reaching out to those who are different from you, even in a world where those differences are stylized and codified."

Read the whole review here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Get to Know Laurel Myler

Dog Star Books welcomes new author Laurel Myler! Laurel is a Salt Lake City native graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in Psychology and Latin. She enjoys British lawn sports, collecting model ships, manga, and watching trash TV with friends. Her work has been performed at Westminster College and the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. City Ash and Desert Bones is her first novel. You can find her on Twitter @victorylaurels.

Tell us about your first Dog Star release!
Three hundred years in the future, a tiny town called Big City in the middle-of-nowhere Nevada is finally getting apostles. The United States is run by a church government called the Theocracy and apostles, acting as liaisons, are how they police it all. A brand new pair has been sent to Big City to retrieve the desperately needed oil from the reserves under the land. Little do they know that the town is under siege by beings the locals call “takers.” Reesa, one of the apostles, is a sort of Frankenstein's monster created by the takers out of dismembered pieces of Big City citizens, only she doesn't know it yet. Everything pretty much goes to hell as soon as she arrives.

Who and what were your influences for this book?
This book is a strange sort of conglomeration of all kinds of weird media I’ve consumed and internalized over the years. I can point to Rango and Back to the Future: Part III in particular. Bits of it also come out of my own frustrations and education, particularly a psychology class I took my junior year of college called “Sensation and Perception” (which happened to be both frustrating and educational).

Describe your writing process, especially for this manuscript.
Every day, I typically wake up an hour earlier than whatever time I need to start getting ready and use that time to write. This could be drafting, experimenting, editing, you name it. I also keep a journal on me to jot down any notes that pop into my brain during the day.

This manuscript was unique in that I composed it as part of the novel workshop course in the Honors College at the University of Utah. When I woke up, nine other people were waking up with me and working on their novels in their homes. We met weekly and workshopped regularly. My peers became a backboard for ideas and a tremendous support structure. Those friends kept me going when I wanted to give up.

Why sci-fi/speculative fiction?

Honestly, because I hate dealing with reality. I think there’s a bit of an escapist, an imaginer, in all of us, and mine tends to dominate my thoughts. Writing for me is a refreshing break from the day-to-day trudge, and it wouldn’t really be a break if I wasn’t off in some alternate universe messing around with some other reality. I’ve had a great love for fantasy and science fiction since childhood. I blame The Twilight Zone.

What do you hope readers will take from this book?
I hope I’ve captured a bit of the beauty that is the hopeful hopelessness of mankind’s existence. We’re funny little creatures rolling around on the surface of a giant rock hurtling through space and everything we do is at once redundantly useless and tremendously important. Not everything has a happy ending, but that doesn’t make a life any less valuable.

Can you leave us with a teaser?

Here’s how it all begins:

“Reesa did not know it yet, but when she stepped from the coach she was putting her foot down in the dirt where she would die, or that she was many different pieces of seven people who already had. The crystal white sole of her shoe set down on the ground with a crunch. The sound made her feel like she was stepping out of a time machine to the past. Away from the skyscrapers, away from the lights, away from everything she knew, to a tiny desert town too far west to warrant a dot on a map. Big City was certainly not what its name implied.”

Friday, February 5, 2016

BOOK: Starrie (From the World of Ambasadora) by Heidi Ruby Miller

BOOKS


STARRIE IS AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER FROM DOG STAR BOOKS!!


In this caste-ruled society, where multiple partners are the norm, celebrity, beauty, and power mean everything. Love and jealousy are considered emotional fallacies, nothing more than fleeting moods and sentiments biased by hormones. But sometimes people just fall in love...and that can be deadly.

Ben Anlow and his team embark on a revenge mission to bring down serial murderer and rapist, Liu Stavros, at his fortress in the inhospitable mountains of Tampa Three. But contractor Naela Starrie already has her own kind of vengeance planned for Stavros. Even as a battle-hardened soldier, Ben's not prepared for the darkness he sees in the female assassin, nor the way she challenges his prejudices about her people when she makes a sacrifice to save to his life.

COVER ART by Bradley Sharp

FOREWORD by Jason Jack Miller

Find out more about this new novel on the STARRIE page at Heidi's site.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Introducing Laurel Myler and K.W. Taylor

Laurel Myler is a Salt Lake City native graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in Psychology and Latin. She enjoys British lawn sports, collecting model ships, manga, and watching trash TV with friends. Her work has been performed at Westminster College and the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. City Ash and Desert Bones is her first novel. You can find her on Twitter @victorylaurels.






K.W. Taylor is the author of the urban fantasy Sam Brody series, about a dragonslaying disc jockey (The Red Eye and The House on Concordia Drive, both 2014 from Alliteration Ink). She has an MFA from Seton Hill University. Taylor lives in a restored Victorian home in Ohio with her tech writer husband and—unlike every other novelist in the world—an insanely photogenic kitten. She teaches college English and Women’s Studies and blogs at kwtaylorwriter.com. The Curiosity Killers is her first science fiction novel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Event Photos: INDELIBLE INK and STEEL VICTORY Launches

Friday, June 26th saw the launches of Matt Betts's INDELIBLE INK and J.L. Gribble's STEEL VICTORY at the In Your Write Mind conference book signing. Heidi Ruby Miller, Albert Wendland, and K. Ceres Wright were also on hand to represent Dog Star.






 
  

Raw Dog and Dog Star