Tag Archives: David Anthony Durham

It’s Giveaway Time!

Everyone loves giveaways, and I have a fondness for giving things away.

I do have a Rafflecopter linked below (WordPress STILL doesn’t allow them to be integrated on sites), however, I want to do something a bit more fun than that.

After careful deliberation and crawling through Google, we’ve come up with:


Comment with one (or two) quotes from a novel, which, without context are seemingly inappropriate/absurd.

(Click here for some examples)

You can of course comment with more than two if you so desire, but you’ll only get bonus entries for the first two. They’re worth +2 entries each.

At random, one grand-prize winner will be selected, as will five others.


Not pictured (still in the mail):  Jim Butcher bookplates 2 Sam Sykes bookplates

Not pictured (still in the mail):
Jim Butcher bookplates
2 Sam Sykes bookplates

  • 5 signed Brandon Sanderson bookplates
  • 3 signed Jim Butcher bookplates
  • 3 signed David Anthony Durham bookplates
  • 3 signed Sam Sykes bookplates
  • 2 signed Brian McClellan bookplate
  • 2 signed The Rithmatist bookmarks
  • (many) Tai’Shar Manetheren bumper stickers
  • 4 Wheel of Time info booklet
  • 3 Signed Larry Dixon art prints

The grand-prize winner will receive one of each available prize, provided they respond within 48 hours of being contacted. The five other winners will be able to pick a prize of their choice, subject to availability, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As mentioned earlier, there’s also a rafflecopter live on our Facebook page right now. Head over to check it out. The winners will be chosen from both the comments and there.

The contest is open worldwide, and ends November 13th, 11:58pm. EST; winners will be contacted no later than November 15th.

Good luck!

Unfettered Anthology edited by Shawn Speakman : Review


Normally in my reviews I’ll take a step back, and try to remove all bias. They’re formulaic: a description, the good, the bad, something else good, a general summary, and the release date of the novel, or the sequel, if there is one. That’s not something I did here. Be warned, this is a long one.

Unfettered is a fantasy anthology, containing stories from many of the biggest names in fantasy out there right now. It’s a wonderful amalgamation of talent, put together by and for the editor, Shawn Speakman. The anthology was put together in order to help Speakman’s medical debt after a fight with cancer back in 2011. The stories in this anthology are exactly what the title says — unfettered. They’re all unique; some take place in familiar worlds, while others are a step away into a different fancy of the authors.

I’ve met a bunch of the authors in the anthology, and for many of those I haven’t  yet had a chance to meet, I’ve read their books, talked to them online,  or heard things about them… and it’s one thing to know them and to think of them as being good people, but it’s another entirely, to realize just how caring, and how close the SF/Fantasy community is. If anything can show it, it’s this anthology — the 20 or so authors coming together to support one of their own in a time of need. It really is amazing, and it made this anthology all that much better. To me, it kind of served as an affirmation of the good that is out there.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to write this review — so, I’ve decided I will start at the beginning, and just have a few sentences for each of the stories. For some of them, I could write full reviews on, but I think it will be best this way.

Anyways, without further ado, the stories:

Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks:

This is an older story by Brooks, first published back in 1990, and served as a prototype of sorts for his Word and the Void series. It was an interesting read, and very different for me, as I’d only read his Shannara books previously. It’s an enjoyable read of self-discovery and overcoming challenges.

How Old Holly Came to Be by Patrick Rothfuss:

First off, don’t go into this story expecting a story from the Kingkiller Chronicles world; it isn’t. I’m not entirely sure on my feelings about this story, it’s very different and interesting. It’s written in a very rhythmic and almost simplistic way… I found it to be poetic, and rather sad.

The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams

This story was a bit of a fun twist on the old “Knight vs Dragon” story. In this one, the knight and the dragon work together to con the kingdom. I found it to be a cute read, well written and very enjoyable.

Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn

This was the first story of Vaughn’s that I’ve read, and I think it to be a good introduction to her writing. Her story contained a dynamic world, backstory, and characters — it felt to be that this was part of a novel, not just a short story.

The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey

This one was another first for me, having never read her Kushiel series or anything else by her before. However, The Martyr of the Roses serves as a precursor to the Kushiel series, and serves as an interesting introduction to the world, though I did find myself feeling a bit lost at times.

Mudboy by Peter V. Brett

Brett’s story is probably amongst the top three stories I was looking forward to reading most in this anthology. Set in the Demon Cycle world, it’s the story of what would have been one of the main characters in the series. It was similar to that of Arlen, Rojer, and a few of the other characters in that it’s an encounter with the corelings. It was quite good, well written; and helps as a tie-over while waiting for book 4. (Plus, it included bacon!)

The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian

Instead of being a short story, this one was more of a novelette, or a novella. Set in the same universe as The Vault of Heaven, it had an interesting magic system based on music. There’s a lot of raw emotion in this story; frustration, anger, regret, grief and mourning. This story is written in response to the question: What would you write if you thought your friend was going to die?

The Coach With Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore

I expected something very different when I saw that Salvatore had a story in the anthology, after all, I’ve read almost all of the Drizzt Do’urden novels, and yet, this was very different. This story was probably the hardest for me to get through, as it was a baseball story, following a young timid baseball player.

Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood

Lockwood’s story is another that I was really looking forward to. I grew up recognizing his art; seeing it on many of my favourite novels, and admiring his talent. So when I heard that he was going to step into writing, I had an immense curiosity as to if he could write as well as he could draw, and well.. I really enjoyed this story, it was interesting and well-written. I think Lockwood is a promising writer, and I look forward to reading more of his writing.

Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton

I was really uncertain about this story at first, quite frankly I found it odd, and I wasn’t sure if that was in a good way or not. However, after a few short pages I found myself loving it. It has an interesting concept; the story was beautiful, and so very sad.

Dogs by Daniel Abraham

I was kind of at odds with this story; as with Salvatore’s story, it wasn’t really fantasy. However, after rereading it, I find that it was a good read, it’s a horror story more than anything, and quite well-written.

The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne

This story was a retelling of The Holy Grail story, only, it was very different. The changes to the story, featuring Attricus O’Sullivan (from The Iron Druid Chronicles) as Gawain, and as the finder of the Grail. It was certainly interesting, and not a bad read at all.

Select Mode by Mark Lawrence

This is a Jorg story from The Broken Empire novels, I found it to be a good read, and it certainly doesn’t require you to have read the series in order to understand what’s going on. Though, it does serve as a good introduction to Lawrence’s writing, and the series in general.

All The Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham

I don’t really have any words for this one other than “cute”. I heard Durham read this story back in November at the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto. It follows Michael Stein, the ghost of a dead cat who won’t let death get in the way of him caring for the girl he loves, and was his companion in life.

Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth

This is the origin story for Iris and Ivan from Bosworth’s Struck. It can be read without reading the novel. The story was interesting, though I think it may be easier to appreciate the story already knowing the characters.

Nocturne by Robert V.S. Redick

Redick’s story is another that took me a little while to get into before I enjoyed; however, after reading a bit of it I found it to be an engaging story. I don’t know if I’d say that it’s a great introduction to his writing, though, that could just be me.

Unbowed by Eldon Thompson

I haven’t read the Thompson’s Legend of Asahiel series yet, but this story serves as an introduction to Kylac Kronus. The series, and Thompson’s writing seem to be interesting and quite good, after reading the story I find myself looking forward to reading the series.

In Favour With Their Stars by Naomi Novik

Set in the Temeraire-universe, fans of Novik’s novels, and readers who haven’t yet picked them up will enjoy this story. I believe it serves as an intriguing introduction to her world, and writing. I’ve only read the first novel so far, but this story reminded me of how much I do enjoy her writing.

River of Souls by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

… Can I skip this one, please…? This story was extremely bittersweet. As a longtime Wheel of Time fan, I had reconciled that A Memory of Light would be it, then shortly after, I heard about this short story. So, there’s a lot of the same feelings, the knowledge that after so many years: this is it. River of Souls is a deleted scene from AMOL, featuring Bao and his time in Shara. Though, readers who haven’t read the series or AMOL should be wary of some minor spoilers.

The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan

The Jester is a standalone story that takes place after The Rose and the Thorn and before Theft of Swords; it features an adventure that Royce and Hadrian go on. This was quite possibly one of my favourite stories in the anthology, I found it to be a quite enjoyable read, and simply put, I love his writing.

The Duel by Lev Grossman

Set in the same world of his Magicians trilogy, fans of his writing and the series should enjoy this story. This was my first time reading a story by Grossman, and while he’s undoubtedly a talented writer, I couldn’t quite get into his story. Though, I intend on rereading it.

Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks

The penultimate story in this anthology, it’s probably more along the lines of what I went into his first story expecting: a Shannara story. This story is exactly what the title says it is — a discussion between Walker Boh and the shade of Allanon. I enjoyed reading the interactions between the two. This story is a short deleted scene from one of the Shannara novels. Though, readers who have no yet read the Shannara series may find themselves lost. I’m not entirely sure.

The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman

Yet another bittersweet moment, though, that was mainly due to it being the final story in the anthology. This story is set in Speakman’s The Dark Thorn world, though, many years before the events of the novel. At first I was a bit put-off, as in the introduction he mentioned that it contains both vampires and urban fantasy — two things I tend to avoid, yet, I’m glad that I stuck through it, as it definitely was an enjoyable read and quite interesting.

Well, that’s my two-pence on each of the stories. I tried to keep it brief for each of them, not wanting to give anything away, while still sharing a bit of my opinion on each — I hope I succeeded in doing so.

I implore you to go out and get a copy of the anthology and support Shawn Speakman. He’s a deserving guy, and can really use the help. Plus, it IS filled with fantastic stories from some of the masters of fantasy, you’ll get a bunch of great reads, and snippets from authors you might not yet be familiar with.

E-copies are available on Amazon, or if you’d like to get a physical copy, head over to Grim Oak Press to order a copy — there’s a limited number of them, so get it while you can.

If you could be any flavour of ice cream…


If you read the interviews that I’ve been posting, you might notice something they (almost) all have in common. (Well, okay, I’m sure there are multiple things they all share, but still…) I almost always ask the same closing question: If you could be any flavour of ice cream, what flavour would you be?

A couple people have noticed this, and they’ve asked me if there’s any significance to that question. Honestly? No. But, on one hand, it does make for an interesting list to compile after doing a number of interviews (and in some instances finding the authors on Twitter/Facebook and asking them.. with no context.)

So, here’s the list! Now that this list has been posted though, I do think I’ll be switching to a new question. If you have any suggestions, please do let me know!


Stephen B. Pearl:
“I guess blueberry, to be specific Hewits Goat Milk Blueberry”

Jeffrey J. Mariotte:
“I’d probably be Neapolitan. I’m kind of a basic guy, nothing fancy or overly complicated. But I can’t settle on any one thing …  I couldn’t be any single flavor. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry is probably just about right for me.”

Tad Williams:
“I would be Sublime Ripple, with Cayenne Pepper bits.”

Karen Dales:
“Strawberry, definitely strawberry.”

Timothy Carter:
“Chocolate chip. Best flavour of ice cream ever. Not mint chocolate chip, mind you – I can’t stand mint.”

Myke Cole
“Dried Seaweed.”

Patrick Rothfuss
“Death and thunder flavour ice cream!”

David Anthony Durham:
” Pistachio. But definitely one that is green. If it’s not green.. It’s not me.”

Brandon Sanderson *new* – February 15th
“I would be Brandon flavoured ice cream.”

*Clicking on their names, in most instances, will take you to the interview where they said it. However, for the few whose answers I got elsewhere, it’ll just take you to their website.


Roger Bellini – A Daily Dose of R&R
“Pineapple coconut chunk ice cream.”

Andy Angel – Ebookwyrm
“Choc. Mint”

ARamone – The Arched Doorway
“I’m not sure.. Probably something sour.”

Why? Because, why not?

If you have any suggestions for silly questions to ask next, please let me know in the comments! (Or, feel free to leave your own answer!)

Interview with David Anthony Durham

Last weekend at the World Fantasy Convention here in Toronto, I had the opportunity to interview several authors, a couple of those interviews have already been posted over the past few days. Today, I will be sharing my interview with David Anthony Durham, author of several historical fiction novels such as Gabriel’s Story, and author of the epic fantasy series Acacia. 

For convenience,
D = David Anthony Durham, and = Rebecca (myself).

R: What would you say is the main inspiration for your writing?

D: This is going to be kind of vague… Just life in general. I sometimes get surprised by stories, often though, they slowly creep up on me, and are some aspect of things I have observed or am experiencing. Sometimes it’s something that sticks and doesn’t want to go and needs to find a story for me to work through that.

Other times it can be pretty random, an inspirational moment. My son once borrowed a book about Egyptian gods from our next door neighbour and it was on the coffee table. I had just mowed the grass. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was flipping through the book and I just loved it. For the first time these weird, exotic, strange gods jumped off the page and seemed very alive to me. Hours later I was there with a notepad scratching out notes, with a series concept which I’ve been working on since. Of course I’d known about ancient Egypt, and had been interested in it for a very long time… But something happened that day. I just so happened to flip through that book that afternoon and it just clicked. I’m glad it did cause I’m enjoying writing this series very much. Hopefully, it’ll be in print before too long.

R: Is there anything more you can tell us about that book? Any title or release date?

D: Not yet, we’ve had some negotiations with publishers, including an actual offer. It’s sort of been locked up for a while with one publisher, but we didn’t come up with terms that were agreeable to both of us. We’re going out with a wider range of submissions now. Hopefully, in the next couple of months it’ll land someplace else. I can say that the first book is entirely written, and the second book – I see the series as being 6 books – is drafted as well. So when someone does pick it up, things will roll quickly from there.

R: Awesome, and do you have a name for this series?

D: I do! It’s called The Shadow Prince and it is going to be for the middle-grade audience, set in ancient Egypt. Quite fun, I think. Strange gods, demon fighting, magic based on writing spells in hieroglyphs, and a bit of humour woven through it all. I like to think of it as Jonathan Stroud territory. Very different than anything I’ve published, but I really enjoyed writing it. My kids are my primary readers for it. They’re 11 and 13, and it’s been great to finally be writing something that’s completely for them.

R: That kind of leads into my next question.. You’re written historical fiction, like Gabriel’s Story, and Walk Through Darkness, and you’ve also written epic fantasy like Acacia, what were the challenges you faced switching in between the genres like that?

D: There were a lot of them, but I seem to have a hard time sticking to any one thing. Gabriel’s Story and Walk Through Darkness were two 19th century African-American historical novels and in a way they were more literary. They were well-received, and I could have stayed in that territory. But it seems to me that each book you write – and get fortunate enough to publish and are going to ask people to read – needs to be something you’re fully invested in and care about.

So when it came time to negotiate a new contract for my third book, I did have some ideas that were similar to the first two, but I thought about what I really wanted to do, and that was to write a novel about Ancient Rome and the war with Hannibal. There was no particular reason for me to think that I could do that well. With the large cast of characters and all the research it was a very different book, but my publisher was behind it, and so we went there.

After that was done, I could’ve done another historical novel like that, but what I really wanted then was take a lot of the largeness of the story like Hannibal’s War with Rome but put it into a fantastical setting. I had been a fantasy reader as a kid. That’s where I learned to love reading. In a way, the idea I had was to write a historical novel for a place that doesn’t exist, and that had a little bit of magic. That helped me quite a bit because some of the things I had learned to do in a historical novel for world building was equally applicable to a fantasy setting. Also, the Acacia books we begin fairly low in magic, and they get more magical as they proceed… In a lot of ways, that paralleled changes in me as well. I knew the books were going to get more fantastical as they went, but it was a way of me working my way into the genre and becoming more at home in it, more comfortable with writing fantastical.

And it also made for a whole new puzzle for my publisher. They did a great job of bringing in a consultant who could help them place the book because they don’t normally do fantasy. It meant meeting an entirely new group of writers and coming to conferences, and meeting the fans in the community of science fiction and fantasy. That was actually all new to me. A lot of fantasy writers came up through that. My first convention was World Fantasy Con in 2007. Acacia: The War With The Mein was already out at that point. Fortunately, getting to know the sff community has been great. I love that I can go into a bookstore and look at the titles and be like, “I know that person. And that person. Oh, isn’t that a great cover for so and so’s book!”

R: And “I wrote that one!”

D: At which point, I turn the book to face out. Every bit helps.

R: Do you ever sneakily sign any while you’re there?

D: Yeah. Normally, I would get them and take them up to the desk and say, “Hi, this is me..” But sometimes I just kind of scribble on them. It does feel a bit stalkerish, like I’m doing something mildly criminal.

R: Going back to the historical fiction and fantasy. Which do you enjoy writing more? Do you think you’ll return to fantasy?

D: It’s a work in progress. The next book I’m contracted for – Doubleday has already bought – is a historical novel about Spartacus. It’s a return to the ancient world and warfare, and I am thoroughly behind doing that novel, but it’s been difficult re-entering purely mainstream storytelling. For a while there, I couldn’t help but want to change it to a werewolf vs. vampire thing… I actually spoke to my publisher about that and they said they were interested, but worried that it could either be really good or really bad. I agreed. So I’m keeping it straight historical.

But it does seem like having opened up the fantastic in my approach to storytelling, it’s not easy to put that back into the bottle and then just be Earth-grounded again. I think where I’m getting traction with the book now is finding the fantastic within the ancient world setting. And it’s there, because they have strange names, worship different gods and believe different things, and in a way it is a world that doesn’t exist now. So it is quite fantastical, in a realistic way – if that makes any sense…

If you were to ask what was the funnest to write so far…

R: Funnest?

D: Funnest… Is that a word?

R: Nope. Definitely keeping that though.

D: And I’ll say it again. What’s funnest to write has been the ancient Egyptian stuff, because a lot of my writing has been kind of serious, intended for adults. Finally writing stuff for kids – and particularly writing fantasy for kids – has been really engaging.

R: Do you think you’ll ever return to writing epic fantasy?

D: Yes, I would like to. I don’t have a plan exactly for what that is, but there is some talk of revisiting the Acacian world – not in a trilogy or big one again, but in stand alone books. That attracts me. I spent a lot of time creating that world and I’ve only just looked at half or it. I’d like to see more of that world.

R: It is pretty interesting, because the map does even say “Map of the Known World”, and there is a lot you can add to that. So, I’m sure it’s safe to say that myself, and other readers would love to see more of it.

D: Well, thank you. I hope they would! The maps of the three books kind of reflect that. The first one is just the Known World, and then the second one expands and has the edge of the Other Lands across the ocean. The third one expands a bit more and goes a further as the story moves more inland of the Other Lands. At the edge of that map is a mountain range. I’d love to see what’s on the other side of those mountains. I do not know. But it’s something really cool.

R: I think that could be interesting to read.

D: Thank you.

R: Alright… Hm… If you could spend a day with any one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

D: I would hang out with Mena and Elya, and go for a flight. I’d love that. Elya is kind of a dragon-y thing, but she’s feathered and smells citrus-y and is a little bird-like and is very lovely. The notion of flying into the air above the Acacian ocean is pretty exiting. Of course, this is just a pleasure fight. I’ll leave the aerial battles with other winged creatures to Mena. Going across the Grey Slopes seems pretty exciting too, but I guess you can’t just do that on one day…

R: No, probably not. Maybe if you had a weekend or something. Okay, and not to do so much with your books, but you teach creative writing. Are there any points of advice you could give to people who are trying to get into writing?

D: Nothing that doesn’t always get said, the common wisdom of “Read a lot” and “Write a bunch” and know that you can make time to be productive even though it can be a challenge. For me, on a daily basis the hardest part of the day is beginning to write. It’s looking at the blank page and putting something on it. But it seems to be the case that if I can finish the hardest part of it and push through it, then it’s easier once there’s material to work with.

Also, one thing in terms of productivity, Steven Pressfield – a historical fiction writer – has said something about “resistance” that I find quite apt. It’s his way of talking about all the different ways people manage to not do the things they want to do the most. It’s like this nebulous force that takes on all sorts of shapes. You want to be a writer but maybe you drink to much. You don’t get enough writing done at night, and then you’re hung over in the morning… Or you want to write but you have a bad relationship and that throws you off. There can be so many different things that can emerge each and every day, every time you want to achieve what you most want to creatively, that you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot. I love the concept that these aren’t all necessarily different things. They’re just different ways of falling prey to resistance.

When I was writing Pride of Carthage, there would be these times that I’d realize I was outside weeding the path in the middle of the afternoon. I’d kind of look up and go, “What the hell? I don’t need to weed this path. I’m supposed to be writing!” Almost without noticing it, I’d managed to go up and outside, and kill an hour. And I found it was really quite helpful to be able to name the thing that wasted that time “resistance”. With a title, I can spot it, and smack it about and then get back to work.

I encourage people to read broadly. That’s something I have always thought, but now I think it even more, with the broadness being across genre as well. Having begun as a literary writer, and then moving into genre, I realize I have learned a great deal from reading commercial fiction, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and crime. I like to think that mix of reading has made me a better writer at whatever I attempt to do. I would encourage others to read things that aren’t necessarily what they aspire to write yourself. Get outside your box and get exposed to new ideas.

R: Okay, and are there any books that you think everyone should read? Like, ones that you’ve finished and just though “Wow, people have to read this.”

D: I could name a lot of good books, but that doesn’t seem like the right answer… There are books that I think speak to each person at the right moment in their development. I don’t know that there need be one book that can do that for everyone. When I think of some of the books that really hit me, it was really just the right moment for me to be exposed to that, and the books themselves almost seem random. The important thing was that I was reading, and that my growth as a person is bookmarked by great books along the way.

R: Sounds good.. and time for a silly one I think, it’s one that I’ve asked a few people, but if you could be any flavour of ice cream, what would it be?

D: I’m going to answer that with the first thing that came to my mind: Pistachio. But definitely one that is green. If it’s not green.. It’s not me.

R: Alright, and that’s all I have.. So thank you very much.

D: Rebecca, thank you.

It was great meeting David, he was a blast to spend time with and get to know. His books are definitely worth reading, and I’ve (apparently) not posted any reviews of his books, which will have to change — I do recall writing one for the first in the Acacia series, so I’ll be hunting through my binders in search of that. So I’ll hopefully have that review up sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you, David!


Visit David’s website here


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