Archive for January, 2009
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, 99.9% of this site is currently offline. Bet you’d like to know why. The short version is that Niteblade got ‘hacked’ and so rather than trying to clean it up surgically and risk missing something, I decided to delete it all and start over. That’s going to take some time.
The longer version of the explanation is I use a one-click install to put WordPress on this website. When I upgrade the installations my host saves a copy of the old configuration on the server with .old added to the file name. I thought that was a handy thing to have, in case the upgrade didn’t work or something. I didn’t think ‘Hey, having an old version with whatever vulnerabilities they’ve discovered and fixed with the patch sitting on the server might not be such a good idea.’. I think that’s where the *insert very un-nice name here* got in. I suck.
I have, however, learned my lesson.
Trust me, the work involved in restoring this website should be a pretty good start toward my penance.
If you need to contact me, my email is always open firstname.lastname@example.org
A few months ago I was in my local library and as I was walking by the racks of paperbacks a cover caught my eye. It was the cover for Jim C. Hine’s book Goblin Hero. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but after just a quick glance at that one, I had to read that book.
I’m so glad I did.
The novel was awesome. It was witty and funny and kept me turning the pages. In short, I loved it.
When I was done, I looked up its author online and discovered that not only was the novel pretty made of awesome, so was its author. I’ve been following Jim’s livejournal for quite some time now, and that’s how it was that I happened to comment to one of his posts and say, not really expecting an answer, “Hey, when are you going to do a guest-blog spot for Niteblade?”.
Happily Jim said, “How about an interview?”. As you can imagine I jumped at the chance.
Jim’s newest novel, the first in a brand new series featuring some ass-kicking princesses, is called The Stepsister Scheme, and that is mostly what we talked about. Of course, since I first became enamored of his work through the goblins, I couldn’t resist make a quick side-trip to that subject too 😉
Okay, before we get to the Princess series and The Stepsister Scheme in general, I have got to ask – why did you make your goblins in the goblin series blue? Was it specifically to be different or were there deeper forces at work there?
I’m afraid there were no deep forces involved. Not even any shallow forces. I just like blue, and I figured a dark blue color made sense for a race who lived in the darkness. My cover artist painted the goblins much more brightly than I had imagined, but I think that worked well. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t go with green, if only to keep people from thinking I had ripped off Shrek. (I wrote the book before Shrek came out, even if it wasn’t published until afterward.)
Where did the inspiration for the princess series come from? What about the Stepsister Scheme specifically?
The princess books were inspired by my daughter. Like many young girls, she went through a phase where she was a little infatuated with all things princess. We’ve had princess movies, princess dolls, princess tissue boxes, princess bedsheets. . . . They’re like pastel tribbles, multiplying until they fill up every room in the house!
The movies were all right, moving a little beyond the “helpless damsel in distress” thing, but a lot of the merchandise was just painful. “Simpering” is the best word I can find for some of the imagery.
I decided I needed to present a different kind of princess, women who could save the prince, fight bad guys, and generally kick butt. Sort of a cross between the old fairy tales (pre-Disney) and Charlie’s Angels. And of course, the first book is dedicated to my daughter.
Can you tell us a little bit about Stepsister Scheme?
This is the first in a series of at least three books. Danielle (Cinderella) is our viewpoint character. She’s just married the prince and is trying to settle down into her new life when all hell breaks loose. Assassination attempts and kidnappings, not to mention secrets of every kind.
Enter Snow (White) and Talia (Sleeping Beauty). If you read the old fairy tales, Talia was gifted with perfect grace and dancing skills . . . just the kind of thing you need if you want to be a martial arts master. As for Snow, she’s inherited her mother’s magic mirror and a whole lot of power. Add Danielle into the mix, with her gift for communicating with animals, and you have an impressive little team.
I seem to remember reading that one of the princesses is based on your daughter, which one is it and how does your daughter feel about that? I’ve got to think it would be pretty darn cool.
The character isn’t based on my daughter, but when we were working with our cover artist, I sent along a photo of my then seven-year-old girl, asking if there was any way the artist might be able to use her as inspiration for Princess Talia (Sleeping Beauty). He did, and did an amazing job.
I asked my daughter before doing any of this. At first I think she thought it was a little weird, but she was okay with it. Then my niece came over, and they were both looking at the cover. My niece decided she wanted to be Danielle. At that point, once my daughter saw how jealous her cousin was, I think she decided this was pretty darn cool indeed.
Retold or modernized fairytales and fairytale-inspired novels seem to be very popular right now, what do you think your princess series will add to this growing body of work?
The absolute best use of tableware in melee combat ever!
There are a few things I tried to accomplish with the book. One is to portray three strong female characters who aren’t caricatures. Some of the early “warrior woman” fantasies give you characters who are all but indistinguishable from their male counterparts. The “Men with boobs” phenomenon. I wanted my characters to be real people with strengths and flaws and their own personalities, personalities which sometimes come into conflict and don’t revolve around men.
I also wanted to have fun. Sure, I’m dealing with some deeper issues, but I want people to keep turning the page and saying, “That’s awesome! I know it’s late and I’ve got work/school tomorrow, but I’ve just got to find out what comes next!”
What is the one question you love to answer or the one you’d love to answer but never get asked?
“Where can I sign up to be your rich patron so you can quit your day job and live a life of spoiled luxury?”
Ooh good one, I wish someone would ask me that question too! Thank you for taking time out to talk with me Jim.
If you’d like to check out Jim you can find him online at http://www.jimchines.com
Oh. And did I mention that The Stepsister Scheme was just released today? It was! Go! Go! Go! My copy was pre-ordered, don’t worry about me 😉
*Photo of Jim by Craig Hebert
When I lucked into an ARC of Robert J. Sawyer’s book “WWW: Wake” I knew exactly what to do with it. I lent it to the guy who first introduced me to Robert J. Sawyer’s work and asked him to review it for me. Wake is scheduled for release April 7, 2009.
Wake Review by Aaron Clifford
Wake, the first novel in the WWW (Wake, Watch, and Wonder) series by Robert J. Sawyer is exactly like the 1995 movie, Hackers. For many people this may seem like a ludicrous idea, comparing a high gloss techno teen angst movie with a novel crafted by a celebrated author and futurist, but for me the only thing that separates the two is time and perspective.
Let me explain.
When Hackers was released over ten years ago I was living a carefree life; revelling in the joys of an untamed internet, spending my free days off drinking Jolt Cola, rollerblading, and playing video games. It just so happens that Hackers was about a bunch of teens who spent their days rollerblading, drinking Jolt Cola, and… You get the idea. Needless to say I felt as if someone had somehow reached into my brain and slopped all of my favorite things onto the big screen. I couldn’t believe my luck.
Fast forward to present day and set Wake down in front of an older, slightly wiser, me and you will notice the same effect. Now I am interested in the internet and social networks, the ever growing influence of the Chinese market on Western business and technology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. Wake takes all of these things and wraps them in the plausible and touching story of Caitlin, a blind girl who is given the opportunity to see for the first time.
The WWW (Wake, Watch, and Wonder) series is described on Sawyer’s blog as being “about the World Wide Web gaining consciousness, and the relationship humanity builds with this nascent global brain”. But “gaining consciousness” doesn’t really cover the feeling that Wake conveys, it felt more like I was witnessing a birth. Caitlin’s struggles to perceive an unfamiliar world are mirrored by the nascent intelligence of the internet. By the end of the first book in this trilogy I found myself not wondering if this could actually happen, but why it hadn’t already.
Reading Wake was like meeting the movie I used to get drunk with on the street thirteen years later to find that it is all grown up, doing well for itself, and has a lot more interesting things to say about the world we live in and the nature of intelligence. I can’t believe my luck.
Aaron Clifford is a writer who sees the world through pixellated panes. Almost every free moment is spent online as an avid blogger, independent game developer, and developer of web applications for writers. Aaron has written for Niteblade before (“Lady” in the June 2008 edition) and is also a two-time National Novel Writing Month winner.