The Geomancer

10/25/16

A perfect tale for Halloween

Halloween is almost here, and there's nothing better than a supernatural story to get you in the mood!  If you crave something other than witches and vampires and werewolves (oh my!) then Barbara Barnett's debut The Apothecary's Curse might be just what you're looking for. Rene Sears, editorial director of Pyr, recently chatted with Barbara about her writing style and inspiration behind this tale of the true price of immortality.  Read on for more!



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The lives of two men become entwined for centuries after an apothecary creates an elixir from an ancient manuscript. Physician Simon Bell and apothecary Gaelan Erceldoune are able to conceal their immortality, but the only hope for reversing their condition rests with the now missing manuscript. When a modern-day pharmaceutical company unearths diaries that could lead them to the fabled "elixir of life," Simon and Gaelan must race to find the manuscript before their secret is discovered.


Rene Sears: I love the way the story in The Apothecary's Curse weaves through two timelines. What led you to such a that structure rather than a more linear timeline?

Barbara Barnett: My original road map told the story in a much more straightforward linear narrative. But as I wrote, two things happened. One, I realized I had to either do a very long time jump from 1842 to the modern-day story or fill in the story of the intervening years more fully, which would have led to quite a different (and much longer) novel than I desired. Second, as I developed the relationship between Gaelan and Anne Shawe, I began to see parallels with his Victorian-era story and I wanted to really explore that. So rather than keep it linear, I thought it would be much more interesting to integrate the two storylines, revealing both simultaneously.

In the book, a geneticist speculates about human immortality in relation to Turritopsis dohrnii, the immortal jellyfish. How did you come to be interested in the jellyfish, and how did it relate to the genesis of some of your ideas for this book?

I knew I didn’t want the immorality to be explainable only by some sort of magic event. That would never do for my skeptical hero Gaelan Erceldoune! He would say that all magic is simply science we did not yet understand, so I had to find science that might explain his immortality.

My undergrad studies were in biology and chemistry, and I have always been fascinated with genetics. So when I came across the 2009 Nobel Prize-winning research on the “immortal” jellyfish and its telomeres, I thought I’d hit on something that could play very well in my story. How can the jellyfish be immortal? Its extraordinarily sturdy telomeres (the chromosome end-caps, more or less) keep the keep the chromosomes from deteriorating and the jellyfish from aging. So, my fictional geneticist’s research is based upon the Nobel work and fueled by her family’s genetic history.

What goes into your writing process, and do you outlines before you write or discover as you go? Apothercary's Curse has such wonderful mood and atmosphere; I also wondered if you write to music, and if so, do you have a playlist for the book?

I tend to write road maps rather than hard and fast outlines. I keep in mind the classic “three-act” structure and put bullet points just under the chapter headings so I know where I want to go by the time I’ve gotten through a chapter. Beyond that, I really like the journey of discovery along with my characters. I started The Apothecary’s Curse with a fairly detailed road map, and then my characters took on a mind of their own, but even so, every time I got stuck or lost in the journey, my outline guided me back to where I wanted to be, at least in broad strokes.

As far as writing to music goes, I’m a professional singer, and when I have music in the background, I get distracted and listen to the music. So I generally do not listen to music while writing. However, I was listening to music when I wrote the Simon’s first scene visiting Bedlam. I was listening to Mozart’s Requiem, and when I went back to re-read, I was stunned by the sheer number of musical metaphors that had found their way into that scene!

The scenes in Bedlam seem really appropriate this close to Halloween! We'd love to know any scary details you came across about Bedlam in the course of your research.

Bedlam was in itself a scary place—especially for the poor wretches sent there. I thought it was interesting that in the pre-psychiatry days, the doctors treating mental illness were called mad doctors. Apothecary’s “mad doctor” really is a mad doctor. So many of the treatments used there would now be considered extreme torture, and if a person wasn’t insane when admitted to Bedlam, he or she surely would be in short order. Horrendous experimentation on patients was common as were “freak shows” not unlike to which Gaelan was subjected. Many died at the hands of Bedlam’s mad doctors and were buried in mass graves on the grounds. 

And finally, particularly as you have written extensively and analytically about television shows, I'd like to hear what shows you're watching. :)

My favorite shows right now are Game of Thrones on HBO, Poldark (season two is upon us!) on PBS, Man in the High Castle on Amazon (I’m a huge Philip K. Dick fan, and I adore alternate history stories). The newest one on my screen is Designated Survivor with Kiefer Sutherland. I was not a big fan of 24, but I really liked the first episode a lot.

I watch Once Upon a Time, though not as intensely as I did during its first couple of seasons. I adore the mashups of fairy tale and mythology, and I liked their original take on Rumplestiltskin (yes, it’s spelled that way on the show!), especially as portrayed by Robert Carlyle (who would make a fantastic Gaelan Erceldoune, by the way!) but I think the show’s gotten a bit away from the original concept over the last two seasons, but I’ll keep watching and hoping.

I’m a politics junkie, so cable news is often my writing white noise, while Real Time with Bill Mahler and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (both on HBO) are appointment TV for me.


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6/30/16

Whelp, Tom Cruise agrees.

If you're looking for a fun, fast-paced book to pick up this summer then we've got you covered. In less than two weeks Laurence MacNaughton's urban fantasy It Happened One Doomsday comes out, and if you don't believe us when we say it's highly entertaining then take a look at its trailer!

Seriously.





July 12 can't come fast enough.

6/2/16

New for June!

In just five days (less than a week!) the second and final installment in Brenda Cooper's Glittering Edge duology, Spear of Light, hits shelves!  Long ago, an advanced human society banished a group of near-AIs to the darkest corners of the galaxy. Now they've returned to build a new home for themselves next to the very race that tried to destroy them.

If there's anyone you really should trust with your science fiction, it's Brenda Cooper.  Why, you ask?  Because she's a futurist.  Her job is literally to think about the future of mankind and our world.

To get yourself pumped up for this sequel, head to Pat's Fantasy Hotlist now to read the first chapter. Oh, and there's only one day left to enter the Goodreads giveaway for a finished copy!

If you're a fan of Cooper and have read Edge of Dark, then you absolutely need to get your hands on this one. Spear of Light hits shelves this Tuesday!


Don't miss out on these other books by Brenda Cooper:


4/22/16

New cover alert!

Ok so it's actually been a couple of days since we officially released the cover for Laurence MacNaughton's It Happened One Doomsday, but here it is!



Magic is real. Only a handful of natural-born sorcerers can wield its arcane power against demons, foul creatures, and the forces of darkness. These protectors of the powerless are descendants of an elite order. The best magic-users in the world. 

Unfortunately, Dru isn’t one of them.

Sure, she’s got a smidge of magical potential. She can use crystals to see enchantments or brew up an occasional potion. And she can research practically anything in the library of dusty leather-bound tomes she keeps stacked in the back of her little store. There, sandwiched between a pawn shop and a 24-hour liquor mart, she sells enough crystals, incense, and magic charms to scrape by. But everything changes the day a handsome mechanic pulls up in a possessed black muscle car, his eyes glowing red.

Just being near Greyson raises Dru’s magical powers to dizzying heights. But he’s been cursed to transform into a demonic creature that could bring about the end of the world. 

Then she discovers that the Harbingers, seven fallen sorcerers, want to wipe the planet clean of humans and install themselves as new lords of an unfettered magical realm. And when they unearth the Apocalypse Scroll, the possibility of a fiery cosmic do-over suddenly becomes very real.  

There’s only one chance to break Greyson’s curse and save the world from a fiery Doomsday – and it’s about to fall into Dru’s magically inexperienced hands....

Look for it in stores July 12!

4/5/16

Countdown to Masks and Shadows

Only one week left until the highly anticipated release of Stephanie Burgis's adult debut Masks and Shadows! Travel back to a time of grand music, dark magic, and deadly secrets...

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy's carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus's mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband's death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace's golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress--a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.


Can't wait to get your hand on a copy?  Thanks to technology, you can travel back in time via Pinterest!  It, uh, can't send you to the future when Masks and Shadows it out yet though.  Sorry.

Follow Pyr® books's board All things Masks and Shadows on Pinterest.

3/7/16

Gats, goons, and ghosts

“Brimming with authentic vernacular and a glimpse into the world of Al Capone and his cronies, Black City Saint is historical fantasy at its best. From bootleggers and shadow goons to ancient enchanted swords and tommy guns, the unique combination is exhilarating. This is a fast moving tale of power, love, loss, and redemption."
Foreword Reviews


Get your hands on the newest book by the New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling author Richard A. Knaak, Black City Saint!  

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal and Feirie realms separate, seeking absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All the while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet for the past fifty years the Gate has, unknowingly to him, been open for the darkest Feirie-folk to enter the world of 1920s Chicago. Now, not only has an evil been resurrected from Nick’s own past, but also his lost Cleolinda, destined once more to die.

Does Nick have the strength to protect the way between realms and destroy the most vicious creature to ever walked in both worlds? 

Available now!


1/28/16

Get your hands on some ARCs!

Over at Goodreads we've got giveaways up for two of our biggest books coming this Spring. Enter now before they're over!




Chicago,1920s. For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate between the mortal realm and Feirie, seeking absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the Dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the darkest of the Feirie­folk have been secretly trespassing through the Gate. Now, not only has an evil been resurrected from Nick’s own past, but also his lost Cleolinda, destined once more to die.

Amidst a brewing gang war between Prohibition bootleggers, Nick must protect the way between realms.  If he fails, not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal world.

Enter now!





The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy's carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus's mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband's death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace's golden walls.

Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress--a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

Enter now!

1/15/16

Start something new this weekend

Check-in time.  We're almost halfway through January...have you ditched your New Year's Resolutions yet?  If your resolution is to start something new, or even to save money, then you should be doubly excited to hear about this.  As part of the Barnes & Noble "First in Series" promotion you can get the below series starters for only $2.99 each until Monday January 18th!



"This is space opera at its best -- simultaneously pulse-pounding and mind-expanding. [He] is the twenty-first century's master of excitement and adventure. Enjoy!"
Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

The Dead Enders are a team of military heroes who only take the most impossible missions in a galactic war between humans and an alien race. Clone a high-ranking general, infiltrate the enemy fortress, and escape without getting caught? Just another day in the office.
    




"Sword of the Bright Lady is an exciting new take on the modern-man-meets-magic conflict -- it's a how-to guide for surviving in a world of gods and monsters."
Dave Gross, author of Prince of Wolves

Christopher Sinclair, a contemporary man from Earth, will overthrow the entire social and political system of a fantasy world he accidentally entered in order to return home to his wife. 

     

  



"Peopled with compelling characters, filled with action and intrigue, set in a fascinating world at the boundary between history and legend, Grudgebearer is a gripping and ultimately satisfying novel. Highly recommended."
D. B. Jackson, author of the Thieftaker Chronicles

The leader of a warrior race works with his daughter to overcome their people's enslaved past and secure their future in a struggle against their creators, the enemy they were bred to battle, the oaths they have sworn, and the gods themselves.

    

12/18/15

#Season'sGreetings

Everyone knows who's coming down our chimneys next week. If you plan on starting your shopping this weekend―well, good luck. Even if you started shopping before the bird was on the table last month, there are always a few people who seem impossible to shop for (or who you forgot!)  So to cover all your last-minute gifting needs, here are some ideas for the readers on your list:


Action, adventure, and humanity against the world



A fresh take on the vampire legends 

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How about some fantasy on an epic level?



We're talking dragons and killer dwarves



Thrillers with a quantum physics twist



Gimme the science fiction, but take it out of this world 



BONUS! Be their favorite aunt or uncle and get the entire series





When all else fails, settle for a bit of everything


11/13/15

Want to put your love to the test? The Buzzfeed test, that is.

Yeah ok so we all know Adele and Gareth are an amazing couple, and if you didn't already then...surprise!  And just when our hearts were finally healing after being separated so long, Clay and Susan brought back the deadly duo in the newest Vampire Empire book The Geomancer!

Are you and yours like Adele and Gareth?  Or are you a bit more at odds like, say, Katniss and Peeta?  Are you ready to test your love? Well it's not that kind of test, exactly.  It's less intense than a test, makes up much less of your GPA, so let's call it a quiz.

Want to know which crossed couple best matches your relationship?

Take the Buzzfeed Quiz now!