Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You thought YOU wrote a lot?

No are here for Janet Morris so let me get out of the way...

Share some information about your work with us: (feel free to be as in depth as you like…you have a lot of stuff out there and If I have to split your interview into two parts, I will.)

We really weren’t intending to get into publishing again.  We simply wanted to write The Sacred Band novel...  We returned to fiction with The Sacred Band after years of doing nonfiction for limited distribution.  In this epic novel, Tempus and his ancient cavalry rescue twenty-three pairs of fighters from the Sacred Band of Thebes and whisk them a world away, first to Lemuria and then to Sanctuary.  The decision to write The Sacred Band novel was really made by the characters’ insistence.  The book is my favorite of all we’ve written, along with an historical called “I, the Sun.”

Taken at face value, the plan was a bit daunting:  fuse the historicity of the Sacred Band of Thebes to my own intricate version of Tempus’ universe, which mixes history and fantasy in equal portions.  I had long known the story line, and knew the story wanted to be about two hundred thousand words, which is really my favorite length.  Writing this book was a remarkable experience and required extensive research, plus careful handling of the issue of the sexuality of Sacred Bands.  I truly loved the drafting process from the very first page, when Critias insisted on grabbing the narrative reins.  Off we went, on an effortless and mystical foray which, as we say, is an “adventure like no other.”

“The Sacred Band” got a hardcover from Kerlak, and an international trade edition; we did a Paradise trade edition in a larger format, and there’s an e-book for Nook and Kindle. We fell back in love with the characters instantaneously:  Here were all our favorites from times gone by, and new characters as well:  new blood for a new Sacred Band.  We loved every second, fell through the dimensions and rode beside them – felt the weather, smelled the grass, fought the fires....  Characters from previous books came back, villains and heroes and heroines in this story about love in war, loyalty, courage, and honor.

Publishing “The Sacred Band” made us realize that all the other Sacred Band of Stepsons stories and novels should be reissued in print and as e-books, for people such as ourselves who think these books speak to all times, across the generations.  Thus we devised the “Author’s Cut” program, and Paradise Publishing soon turned into “Perseid Publishing.”  In the “Author’s Cut” editions, we fix bothersome typos in multiple previous editions, as far back as the 1980s, revise and expand each volume, produce a higher quality book than older editions.  With our reissue program, we can ensure that all our backlist, including what Tempus and the Band has to say,won’t be lost.  The first “Author’s Cut” reissue, “Tempus,” became Tempus with his right-side companion Niko because Amazon insisted that the words on the cover must appear in the title, but never mind:  we had a chance to fix and polish and enjoy anew these canonical Sacred Band in Sanctuary stories that helped make Thieves’ World a million-copy bestseller.

Having done the reissue of Tempus, we relaxed a bit, and decided we would tackle the three “Beyond” books next.  Beyond Sanctuary, Beyond the Veil, and Beyond Wizardwall,” taken together, comprise a subset of the Sacred Band of Stepsons series.  We have recently published the first of these, “Beyond Sanctuary,” with a Rubens cover and beautiful production values, with new material added.  “Beyond Sanctuary,” the original edition, has been widely pirated, so the ten-thousand word expansion and the quality of the new editions makes it attractive to own, even if someone bought the old Science Fiction Book Club, or Baen hardcover, or mass market editions in the 20th century.

Reissuing our backlist and doing these “Author’s Cut” editions had become our program plan, along with writing and publishing new works that please us.

So next we thought, “Let’s revive the “Heroes in Hell” series.  It was a trailblazer, had two Nebula nominated stories and a Hugo winner in the 20th century, and would be easy, or so we told ourselves.  Chris and I would write an intro, and each write one story, first or last; we’d use select writers from the old series, and recruit some new ones.  This shouldn’t take very long – should it?  As it happens, putting together a secret writers group to coordinate a shared anthology these days has tremendous possibilities, but takes a very long time.  However, Lawyers in Hell was built exactly this way, under our direction.  As was our tradition in 20th century Heroes in Hell books, we include brand new writers, emerging writers, and established writers.  Lawyers in Hell also is available in a hardcover from Kerlak, an international trade from Kerlak, a Perseid trade, and Nook, Kindle, and iBook editions.

And so the two series restarted, within one year.  We soon agreed to publish a “few” other select writers, including one anthology series (Sha’Daa) for Michael Hanson and a novel, “Bridge Over Hell,” by Michael A. Armstrong.  We will soon reissue “I, the Sun,” the story of the greatest king of the Hittites.  We continue to find other books that have the combined traits we like – immediacy, lucidity, lyricism, inherent value in the worldview– books for experienced readers:  books we enjoy reading or writing or both.  We know this market is there:  we are part of it.

However, my great love is still writing.  This year we published my newest work, the Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl, the second volume of “Sacred Band Tales,” which includes the novella by the same name, as well as tightly-woven interstitials and the remaining Thieves’ World Sacred Band stories.

I adored writing the Fish the Fightersand the Song-girl with Chris Morris:  new characters and new challenges emerge here, and the stage is set for the Sacred Band’s next great adventure, while all Sanctuary loose ends are tied up and we say goodbye to that hellhole for the last time.  Structurally, the book was tricky to conceive, since we wanted it to echo the format of new/old stories that we’d used in “Tempus.”  Threading the necessary interstitial work around the old Sacred Band stories was a bit of a brain-teaser, but the drafting process was a joy.

For the publication of the Fish theFighters and the Song-girl, Chris and I not only extensively revised and expanded the final six Sacred Band in Thieves’ World(R) stories, but created nine new tales.  We wrote about Sanctuary after the war for Meridian in the title novella, and wrote a bridge into unknown realms.  Fish/Fighters clears the way for a new group of Sacred Band novels and stories, set in a milieu more closely linked to history and mythology.  I can hardly wait.  Now all the tales of the Sacred Band in Sanctuary have been told that must be told, and our Unified Sacred Band is free to adventure in places and times unexplored.

With the two “Sacred Band Tales” anthology volumes now available in print and as e-books, our characters’ survival is no longer linked to whether people can find old copies of mass market paperbacks or Science Fiction Book Club compilations – or must buy eleven mass market paperbacks to find all the Stepsons stories:  all the important stories are assembled in these two volumes, and put in their proper context with material available nowhere else.  About that, Chris, Tempus and I are greatly pleased.

We are also offering select Kindle singles, an experimental project, releasing some Sacred Band Tales (and eventually Heroes in Hell stories) as stand-alone electronic works for Kindle.  So far the response to these has been good.

So far we have produced as short Kindle editions:

Mage Blood, from “Beyond Sanctuary,” to introduce people to the Beyond series;

“A Man and His God,” the famous and much-anthologized story contained in the first anthology of Sacred Band Tales, wherein the Sacred Band of Stepsons is formed to entice people to read the entire “Tempus with his right-side companion Niko” volume;

Wake of the Riddlerfrom the second anthology of Sacred Band Tales, to draw people to “the Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl,” and introduce new readers to many important characters:  the ghost horse and his Sacred Band friends, Tempus’ daughter, Kama, and Sync of the 3rd Commando, to name a few.

We’ve had fun choosing these Kindle “singles”, and this format allows us to provide some very inexpensive e-reads for people who want to get a taste of the series.

From the Heroes in Hell series, we published Interview with the Devil a very short Kindle story first published in “Lawyers in Hell, and available by itself for $1.49.  

The second 21st century  HIH anthology, Rogues in Hell, was released in July, 2012, and from it one can see that the character of hell is changing, becoming more daring and more literate as writers test their wings.  Hell’s landlords host Heaven’s auditors, and hell’s denizens turn upon one another in frustration as hell becomes more hellish.  I myself and Chris as well have added new characters, including Erra, Babylonian god of pestilence; the Kigali, the indigenous tribe of hell; and Shakespeare and Marlowe, as insightful a pair as ever prowled the afterlife.  Rogues is available in a trade from Perseid and as an e-book for Kindle and Nook.

We are currently working on the reissue of “I, the Sun.”  I have no cover yet to show, but it has been called “A masterpiece of historical fiction” by Jerry Pournelle, and garnered kudos from O.M. Gurney, the Oxford Hittite scholar.

Those who know us know we don’t accept limitations.  We do gore oxen, slaughter sacred cows, and tilt at windmills.  Perseid is a tiny, grand experiment to see whether, in a time of deconstruction of the novel, a small publisher can publish books written by and for the literate.  We’ll see.  We enjoy the effort greatly.  The chance to write more Sacred Band stories, as well as whatever else we choose, is too good to miss – quality editions, intelligent editing and copy-editing, beautiful covers, and respect for content...  How can a writer turn away?

Miss any of the links? Here they are again:

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