My Books

“I actually could not put the book down. It is well written and kept my interest. I want more from this author.”
Reader review of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead on 
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Monday, August 29, 2022

Time for a Cover Story

At a similar point as this three years ago, I shared some of the influences that went into creating the story of The Curse of Septimus Bridge. I also shared the unadulterated illustration that was featured on the cover.

Since I am all about consistency and tradition, let me now do the same for Septimus’s sequel, Last of the Tuath Dé. Embedded in this blog post is the original artwork that was provided for the book by the rather talented Tamlyn Zawalich, who also created the cover art for Septimus. I was delighted that she was willing and able to do the same for the new book. As I just recently said, I’m all about consistency and tradition. So you can see the two illustrations together, the original art for The Curse of Septimus Bridge is embedded in this blog post as well. Enjoy.

So what were my influences? Was it mainly Dark Shadows as was the case with Septimus? Well, there’s a bit of that, but this story doesn’t really do the Gothic schtick. There’s no old, mysterious house on a cliff with waves crashing on the rocks below. Well, at least except maybe for a page or two.

No, this time around my mind was infused with the creepy, otherworldly horror of H.P. Lovecraft. And now that I’ve mentioned him, let me just acknowledge that some people have been put off by Lovecraft because of certain things he wrote and certain beliefs he held. Fair enough, but the man is dead and buried, and in mentioning him, I only mean to honor the work that inspired me and which still exists—and not endorse everything said and done by a flawed man who is now dead and consigned to history.

On Last of the Tuath Dé’s dedication page, I acknowledge Lovecraft as well as his fellow early-twentieth-century pulp-fiction writer Robert E. Howard and also the immortal J.R.R. Tolkien, who is always in my head.

Who else is on the dedication page? The German guys behind the Netflix series Dark and French writer/photographer/filmmaker Chris Marker. I could have also included the many minds behind the venerable BBC series Doctor Who. Hmmm… what do all of those—and Dark Shadows for that matter—have in common? Well, if you’re familiar with them all, then probably something that comes to mind is time travel.

Does time travel exist in the Septimus/Tuath Dé world? The question was actually posed, though not answered, in Chapter 24 of The Curse of Septimus Bridge:
   As the three rested and shivered on the pier, Kyle could not stop laughing. “That was the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me! How did you do that, Lola? Was it hard? How does it work? Can you teach me? That was amazing!”
   Maria was less impressed. “Would you have a trick up your sleeve for drying us off or warming us up, like?”
    “Hey!” said Kyle. “Can you turn back time? That would be cool. What about time travel? Is that real? This is so unbelievably amazing.”
So is time travel real in this world? Spoiler alert: technically, no… but perhaps there are exceptions?

I’ve never been particularly interested in writing a time-travel story (though I obviously do love consuming ones created by others) because logic and coherence very quickly become trampled casualties unless you simply require readers to suspend disbelief and not ask too many questions. What does particularly intrigue me, though, is the way the aforementioned writers seriously attempt to deal with the logical—and emotional—consequences of time displacement.

By the way, if you want to see a good attempt at a complex but totally consistent time-travel movie (and on a shoestring budget), then Shane Carruth’s 2004 flick Primer is what you need. Its escalating paradox-on-conundrum narrative becomes mind-numbingly overwhelming.

Last of the Tuath Dé is not like that. I like to think it’s just a good old-fashioned adventure story with epic pretensions—and maybe with a bit of temporal inventiveness.

Oh yeah, and a really cool cover.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Shop Around

   “The journalists. They’ve been here the whole time. They know there was no terrorist attack. We came to rescue the child you kidnapped. I’ll tell them myself if I have to.”
   Izanami was bluffing, but it didn’t matter. Bob only laughed.
    “Do you think they’d listen to you? Who do you think pays their salaries?”
    “You own a television network?” asked Sapphire.
    “No, but a good friend of mine does. Another owns a major newspaper. Others own the main social media sites. We’re all united in the effort to save the planet.”
    “Do you know what you’re supporting?” asked Izanami. “Do you understand what this whole thing is really about?”
    “I know there’s no point in having one of the largest chunks of net worth in the world if I don’t use it for something monumental, something to fundamentally change history. If you want to debate specific merits, Alaric’s your man. He’s the vision guy.”
One of the characters in Last of the Tuath Dé is a tech billionaire who is the head of a software company. As evidenced in the excerpt above, a fellow tech billionaire friend of his owns a newspaper and is apparently not adverse to suppressing or filtering information if it is in service for what he believes is a good cause.

Let me emphasize that these characters are fictional and exist only in service to the plot of a fantasy novel. If you want to consider whether anything remotely like this could happen or has happened in real life, that’s entirely up to you.

Still, I find myself wondering if someone at Amazon chanced to read that portion of the book and took umbrage. (In an entirely random and unrelated real-life coincidence, Amazon founder and chairman Jeff Bezos happens to own The Washington Post.) If they did, they shouldn’t have. That plot element was a pure invention of whimsy on my part in an effort to concoct an engaging story. Nothing more. No inference was intended about any real person, living or dead. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

Why am I even pondering this question? Well, I’ve noticed some strange goings-on with the pricing of the paperback version of Last of the Tuath Dé on Amazon’s US website. The book’s price has gone through some gyrations, but generally has been well above the official suggested retail price. Also, if you want free delivery, you are told not to expect the book until September. Maybe this is because the default purchase choice is through a third-party seller. Actually, if you click through to the extended purchase choices, you do find that you actually can order it directly from Amazon at the SRP (with free Amazon Prime delivery) but you are told to expect it even later in September. Also, there is a whole range of other third-party with widely varying prices, some even offering used copies of the book—which blows my mind because the book has only been out now for a week and a half.

To be clear, this isn’t just happening with the new book, and this isn’t a new thing. But why? A possible clue may be found just beneath the bad news about prices and delivery times: “As an alternative, the Kindle eBook is available now and can be read on any device with the free Kindle app.”

It almost sounds as though Amazon would prefer you to buy the Kindle version rather than the paperback. Well, it’s hard to argue against the fact that it is indeed faster and easier to acquire and read the book on your Kindle device or app. And I am grateful to each and every reader who does that—and also to Amazon who has made that platform available. That’s how most of my books get sold.

At the same time, it’s interesting that the company seems to be discouraging purchases of books printed by someone other than themselves. You see, I could have Amazon print those paperback versions of my book that are sold through Amazon. Many author/publishers do just that because it means less hassle and delay for their paperback readers. I, on the other hand, have chosen to have all copies of my paperbacks—whether sold by Amazon or not—printed by a single company (it’s called Ingram) simply because the quality is better. I don’t feel that disadvantages buyers of my book (well, too much anyway) because, unlike Kindle readers, paperback readers aren’t locked into a single seller. Actually, Kindle readers aren’t either, but it’s more hassle for them to buy a digital book from someone else and then get it loaded onto their device or into their app.

So, my advice is that if you are a person who prefers to read my (or anyone else’s) books in paperback form, then shop around. There’s a whole choice of sellers over on the right-hand side of this page as well as many others out there. For example, you can buy paperbacks from my own Afranor Books—at least if you’re in the US or Canada.

A more interesting option for you, though, might be, which was launched at the beginning of 2020. They provide centralized ordering, delivery and customer service for a network of local independent bookstores. They are mostly in the US, but recently they have begun expanding internationally, specifically in the UK and Spain. Their website claims they’ve raised nearly $22 million for local bookstores.

This is how it works. On their website you select a local bookstore (there are more than 1,400 to choose from) you want to support. Once you’ve done that, any online orders you make from the website are fulfilled by and the local bookstore gets 30 percent of the retail value.

Given where I live, I haven’t had an opportunity to try out their service yet, but as described, it sounds like a pretty good idea to me. You get the convenience of online browsing and ordering while at the same time knowing that the cozy, friendly neighborhood bookshop down the road just might survive so that you can still drop in to them in person from time to time to do real-world browsing.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Question of Order

Besides questions about the title, the most common inquiry I get about the new book is this one. Since it’s a sequel, is it absolutely necessary to read the first book, The Curse of Septimus Bridge, first?

Allow me go into analytical-personality mode and say, no, there are no laws on the books or anything else that would prevent you from reading the second book without first having read the first one. It’s not as though you have to swear an affidavit or pass some kind of knowledge test about Septimus in order to be issued a copy of Last of the Tuath Dé. Of course, people aren’t really asking if it’s possible to read one without having read the other. They want to know if it’s a good idea.

At least half the answer to that question depends on you, but I can do my best to fill in the other half, which may help you do your half.

People like me, who have a compulsive element to their personality, prefer to read things in order. If there is a series of books, movies or television episodes, I want to read or view them in the order they were created. Or maybe in whatever order keeps the overarching narrative chronological. Or maybe not. I actually dealt with this conundrum 13 years ago on my movie blog when I pondered the question of whether a new viewer should watch the Star Wars movies beginning with A New Hope or The Phantom Menace. I came down on the side of experiencing the movies in the order they were created and in which the world originally experienced them, as opposed to following the saga chronologically.

So, if you’re that type of person, then the answer is clear. You should read Septimus Bridge first and Tuath Dé second.

But not everyone is that type of person. I’m not even that type of person all the time. Maybe the descriptions of the second book sound more interesting to you, and those of the first one not so much. Maybe you’re just not as interested in reading books that have been around awhile and you like your reading material to be new and fresh.

Still not sure? Here’s what else I can tell you. I wrote Last of the Tuath Dé, as I do all my books, with the intention that it stand on its own and be a complete and satisfying reading experience all by itself. Though many of the characters were introduced in the earlier book and events in that book have a bearing on occurrences in the new book, I did my best to bring new readers up to date without boring established ones. It’s a new story with its own beginning, middle and end. Though there are characters and events referred to—sometimes quite significantly—from the previous volume, that was also sort of true of the first book. People were referred to in that book whom we had not met, and prior events were mentioned that we had not experienced. That’s how I approach my storytelling. The characters are not born full-grown (like Athena emerging from Zeus’s forehead) the minute you start reading about them, and their lives don’t stop when you get to the last page. Yeah, if you read Tuath Dé first, you’ll be playing some catch-up, but there’s always catch-up to play with three-dimensional characters.

I made a deliberate choice not to organize any of my books as part of a series—even though that’s a particularly trendy thing to do these days, particularly when it comes to YA lit. I discussed this topic here in some detail five years ago when I declared that the Dallas Green books—and now, separately, the Septimus/Sapphire/Izanami books—are part of a novel sequence rather than a series. That kind of gives readers permission to read the books in whatever order they want.

So, here’s the bottom line. If it were I, I would read Septimus first, but if for whatever reason, you really want to just read Tuath Dé, I think you’ll be okay.

For what it’s worth, my beta readers didn’t find the question any easier to answer than I have—and for the same reason. It’s hard, if not impossible, to put yourself in the place of someone who hasn’t read something that you’ve read. Even people who had read the first book didn’t necessarily remember all the detail of it anyway.

And here’s something else. A couple of those early readers said they thought that Tuath Dé was a better book than the first one. On the other hand, at least one other preferred the first one. In case we needed reminding, choosing what to read and when—and whether we’re happy with those choices—is very individual and pretty darn subjective.

Of course, my wish is that you will read both books and in fact all my books—in whatever order you prefer—and that you will enjoy them.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Two a Day

What else can I tell you about the new book?

One source of additional information might be the interview I did with myself on my movie blog. I won’t repeat that experience here because I’ve learned that self-interviews can quickly turn weirdly passive-aggressive. Also, I addressed the question of whether there is political satire in the book in my expat blog if you’re interested in that. As for this blog, let’s spend some time dealing with other questions that potential readers might have. For example, what is the meaning of the book’s title?

To give them their full name, the Tuatha Dé Danann were a supernatural race of beings in Irish mythology. The name translates as the people or folk of the goddess Danu. She was a primordial mother goddess. Tuath Dé is an older name for them, and it translates as tribe of the gods.

These beings dwelled in the Otherworld, but they did interact with mortal people. Their enemies were the Fomorians, or the Fomóire in old Irish or the Fomhóraigh in modern Irish. Disclaimer: Despite a couple of decades in this country, I make no claim to be an expert on the Irish language (or on anything Irish for that matter), as my wife and daughter are all too eager to remind me. If you want more authoritative information, do your own research.

To be clear, my book is not actually about the Tuath Dé of genuine Irish tradition. My book’s mythology is my own invention, though I obviously used themes common in most mythologies. As for the names of my supernatural beings, I borrowed (okay, appropriated) them. This is explained in Chapter 9 when an old Master tells Izanami and friends about the Old Ones:
  “Is that what’s happening now?” asked Izanami. “Are the Old Ones coming back?”
  “Perhaps,” said the old woman gravely.
  “All of them?” asked Peter. “Or just the ones who wanted to get rid of us. You know, the bad ones. Are they coming back? Sorry, do the two circles have names?”
  “Whatever names they have for themselves are beyond our ability to conceive and enunciate, so we have had to invent our own names for them. The most useful names to have survived down through the ages are in the Irish language. It is in that tongue that the old stories have come closest to surviving intact. That’s not to say that the Irish legends weren’t embellished or combined with other historical events, but it’s their names that have been adopted by Masters who research the lore. …”
I suppose the novel’s title could be misleading, especially for people who have some familiarity with Irish legends and might be hoping for a treatment of that subject. On the other hand, people with a particular interest in the Mexican emperors Maximilian and Carlotta, the Chilean freedom fighter Lautaro or Voltaire’s literary heroine Cunégonde could well have been similarly disappointed by the titles of my other books.

The main thing to know about the Tuath Dé, at least when it comes to the mythology in my book, is that among the Old Ones the Tuath Dé are the good guys—and we are apparently down to the last of them. Who or what is the last of the Tuath Dé? Well, finding that out is pretty much the point of reading the book.

Never mind the meaning of Tuath Dé, though. The first question I usually get when someone sees the title is… how do you pronounce it?

This too is dealt with (sort of) in Chapter 9:
  “So to answer your question, lad, the circle of Old Ones that wanted to purge the universe of humans is called the Fomóire. The entity which guides them—their leader if you will—is called Balor. Many are the legends that have survived of Balor of the Evil Eye. We call the other circle—the ones who argued for our survival—the Tuath Dé.”
  “The ‘two a day’?” asked Peter.
  “Not too bad an attempt at the pronunciation.”
Young Peter is not given any further instruction on the pronunciation, and I suspect most readers may be happy enough with the “two a day” approximation. (It’s also not a bad target frequency for mixing evening martinis for oneself.)

If you really want to know the correct pronunciation, don’t expect me to embed an audio clip with me pronouncing it on this page. As mentioned above, the women in my house have done their best to forbid me any attempt at pronunciation of Irish words or names. My efforts only seem to hurt their ears. (This is quite a blow to the ego of someone who has gotten many compliments on his pronunciation of Spanish and even French over the years.)

The best I can do for you is to transcribe the pronunciation of Tuath Dé in the International Phonetic Alphabet. In Old Irish, it’s [t̪uaθa d̪ʲe]. In Modern Irish, it’s [t̪ˠuə(hi) dʲe] in Connacht and Ulster, and [t̪ˠuəhə dʲe] in Munster.

If you don’t want to get that technical about it, the New York-based website, which styles itself the news hub for the Irish diaspora, in an article titled “The Tuatha De Danann: Were they Irish gods or aliens?” offers a simpler pronunciation: “Thoo-a day.” Personally, to my ear, though, names beginning with “tu” (at least in my part of the country) sound like they begin with a “t” followed by a lightly aspirated “h” or even no “h” at all.

Yeah, probably easier for us Yanks to just stick with “two a day.”

Monday, August 15, 2022

Answering the Musical Question

Now that Last of the Tuath Dé has been released, I can’t wait to write and talk about it, you know, to give you some background and insights into the creation process.

First, though, it’s become sort of a tradition for me to share a Spotify music playlist to go along with the new book. My playlists for Lautaro’s Spear and The Curse of Septimus Bridge were basically collections of selected tracks that I listened to while I was writing those books, you know, to put me in the frame of mind for the time and place and mood. Then with my playlist for Searching Cunégonde I tried to do something clever (so often a mistake in my case) and strive to make the list of track titles match (as closely as possible anyway) the book’s table of contents. That definitely made for some interesting choices. Who knew it would be so easy to find songs called “Toque de queda,” “Querétaro,” “Paperasse” and “Algeciras” but impossible to find one called “Reports of a Murder”?

The following-the-table-of-contents thing was definitely not going to work for Last of the Tuath Dé—at least not for every chapter—so I opted instead for a track list that followed the book’s plot sequentially by including character names, chapter titles and themes—as well as the one song actually mentioned in the book itself. Needless to say, this provided ample opportunity to include a few of the surprising number of tunes out there that deal with the topic of the world ending. R.E.M. and Elvis Costello are just a couple of the myriad artists who have employed Armageddon as subject matter for songwriting. It also allowed me to sneak in a favorite Doctor Who track by Murray Gold.

So without further ado, I give you the official Spotify playlist for streaming while reading your copy of Last the Tuath Dé

Oh yeah, and if you want to try making your own musical playlist based on the book’s chapter titles, here they are…

Friday, August 12, 2022

Today’s the (Tuath) Dé!

It’s finally here. It seems like I’ve been talking about (and more to the point, working on) this book forever. And now it’s suddenly crossed the finish line.

Last of the Tuath Dé, sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge, is at long last released and available for your perusal.

You may well have questions, like… Can I read this without having already read The Curse of Septimus Bridge? How the heck do you pronounce the title? Will we find out what happened to Lola Blumquist’s parents? Did Sapphire ever master teleportation?

Some of the answers will be found in the book. Others I will address in coming blog posts. Right now, the main thing to know is that I think this is pretty darn good adventure (if I do say so myself) that will entertain you and maybe even get you involved emotionally with characters. The cast, the scope of the action, and the stakes for our heroes, the world, the universe and existence itself are bigger than ever. Several characters are back—including perhaps ones you may not have expected to see again. There are also some intriguing new characters. At the heart of it all, though, are the last two remaining Demon Hunters, Sapphire and Izanami, and the fate awaiting them.

So, where can you get the book? All the usual places, of course.

Most of you will read it on a Kindle device or app. The digital version is now available in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and everywhere else Amazon sells Kindle books. If you don’t find a direct link on this page for your country, just search for the book on your usual Amazon page.

Other online sellers have it too, including Barnes & Noble and Rakuten Kobo. Or if you don’t mind just downloading an epub file yourself for your preferred gadget or app, you can click on the portal at the top of this page and purchase the book from my very own Afranor Books store.

As of this writing, it still hasn’t shown up in the Google Play or Apple Books online stores, but it should only be a matter of time until they appear there as well.

But what if you’re one of those people who prefers to have a real book made of paper in your hand? No problem. Generally, online sellers of books should have it if you search by title, author or the ISBN number, which is 978-1-7331947-6-1. Theoretically, you should be able to get your local neighborhood bookshop to order it as well, although from what I hear, they (the big chain ones anyway) are likely to tell you to just order it yourself from their website.

Online sellers that definitely offer the paperback version right now include Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. And of course, Amazon has it worldwide, including at their sites in the US, Canada and the UK.

So what are you doing still reading this blog? Go get the book already, read it, and then let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

At Last… the Tuath Dé!

Hey, everyone! I am happy/thrilled/relieved/excited to announce the impending release of my sixth novel. It’s called Last of the Tuath Dé, and it’s a sequel to The Curse of Septimus Bridge.

Here is the official description (as submitted to the various sellers):

The world has changed. Septimus Bridge, greatest of all Demon Hunters, is gone forever. Only two of his former disciples remain to confront hellion invaders from the Netherworld. A far greater threat, however, looms, and the portents are impossible to ignore. Izanami, who has not dreamed in decades, is plagued by nightmares. Her partner Sapphire has gone missing. As hysteria takes over the airwaves and social media, law and order breaks down around the world. In the most worrying sign, the dead have returned to walk the earth. What is the secret of the mysterious crystal that has fallen into Izanami’s possession? Who are the Zen’ei, and what explains their relentless control of so many minds all around the world? Why are ruthless Mercenaries hunting a young boy, who has no memory of who is or where he came from? Can Izanami, alone and on the run, keep him alive long enough to solve the mystery? As the truth is revealed, all hope appears lost. The Old Ones, who held sway long before recorded history, are stirring again—and they want this world back.

And here’s the cover, featuring another wonderful illustration by Tamlyn Zawalich:

The official release date for the paperback and e‑book versions is just a couple of days away. Specifically, it’s Friday the 12th of August, although digital versions sometimes show up slightly earlier than advertised in some places. Epub versions will be available for purchase from Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Rakuten Kobo, Apple Books, and of course, my own Afranor Books site. If history is any guide, though, most of you will be getting the Kindle version from one of the various Amazon sites around the world. The paperback version will be available to order from major online sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million among others.

More information/teasing/coaxing to follow.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Septimus Successor

This is the month!

After weeks/months of promising/teasing, my next book is now scheduled for release. I am just waiting to get a proof copy of the paperback in my hands before announcing the title and release date. If the UK’s Royal Mail, Ireland’s An Post and the Brexit gods are all willing, it shouldn’t be much longer.

In the meantime, here is a teaser detail from the cover.

Nearly time to crack open a new bottle of Writer’s Tears.