21 Sept 2021

Blog Tour: BLACK PANTER THE YOUNG PRINCE: SPELLBOUND by Ronald L. Smith

21 September 0 Comments

 

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the BLACK PANTHER THE YOUNG PRINCE: SPELLBOUND by Ronald L. Smith Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

BLACK PANTHER THE YOUNG PRINCE: SPELLBOUND

Author: Ronald L. Smith

Pub. Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Marvel Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 272

The second book in the hit Young Prince series from Ronald L. Smith, recipient of the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award.

In the sequel to the hit middle grade novel, The Young Prince, T'Challa is heading back to America to visit his friends Sheila and Zeke, who are staying with Sheila's grandma in Alabama over their summer break. T'Challa is excited to see his friends, but his fun summer vacation quickly turns into a nightmare. The small town has fallen under the sway of a charismatic politician named Achebe who is there to retrieve a spell book full of dark magic. When strange events start to take place, T'Challa begins to think that it's no coincidence that Achebe arrived in Beaumont at the same time he did.

Will T'Challa figure out his role in Achebe's sinister plot and break the spell he has over the town?

Purchase:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | TBD

Prologue 

The words club fear blinked in bloodred neon above the door’s entrance. 

A stone gargoyle, or some nightmarish creature, perched above it as if surveying its prey. 

The stranger, who wore a clean white suit, handmade Italian shoes, and a feathered fedora hat, tapped his walking stick against the door three times. He waited patiently as the spine-rattling thump of heavy bass pulsed from inside. 

The solid iron door opened with a groan. 

A woman with short red hair and black lipstick stood before him. 

“Hello,” the stranger said, his eyes hidden by the brim of his hat. 

The woman snapped her gum and gave him the once-over. “Yeah?” she asked, not too kindly. 

The stranger grinned, and it was a wide grin that seemed to take up his whole face. 

“I’m here to see a friend,” he said. “His name is Nightmare.”


Chapter One

T’Challa rested his head against the cool glass of the plane’s window. He was exhausted. 

The flight to Alabama was a grueling sixteen hours, and the last leg of the journey was quickly coming to an end. 

The flight attendant, a very tall man with a Southern accent, came through the first-class cabin. “More orange juice, sir?” 

T’Challa shook himself awake. “No,” he said, rubbing his eyes. “Um, no thank you.” 

“Very well, sir. We will be landing shortly.” 

Finally, T’Challa thought.

Even though he was the Prince of Wakanda, a technologically advanced nation hidden from prying eyes on the continent of Africa, he had to settle for a first-class seat on a regular flight—although the hot towels, slippers, and salted cashews were an unexpected treat. Of course, he could have begged his father, T’Chaka, the ruling Black Panther and King of Wakanda, to hire a private jet for the trip. But then, T’Challa thought, where would we have landed? They couldn’t just fly into an ordinary airport. The jet would attract too much attention. Air traffic control would probably think it was a UFO and shoot it down. 

Unfortunately, his seatmate, a businessman from a place called Dover, Delaware, tried to engage T’Challa in conversation several times: 

“Where in Africa did you say you were from again?” 

“Have you ever seen a rhino?” 

“What kind of business is your family in?” 

Americans sure do ask a lot of personal questions, T’Challa thought. 

The only answer he gave, after much persistence, was that the family business was “mining.” 

A deafening screech jolted T’Challa fully awake. He peered through the window. A flight crew in orange vests swarmed the tarmac, waving their batons. T’Challa released a satisfying sigh. He had pestered his father for weeks to allow him to visit his friends Zeke and Sheila in America. Sheila was spending the summer in Alabama with her grandmother, and Zeke had come in a few days before T’Challa was scheduled to arrive. They had planned it out for weeks through video calls. 

Finally, after much back-and-forth, and his father’s insistence on T’Challa being careful, the King of Wakanda had allowed T’Challa three weeks’ vacation. T’Challa was ecstatic. He couldn’t wait to see his friends again. 

And now he was here. 

He wondered, not for the first time, what surprises the trip would hold.

Outside the International Arrivals gate, T’Challa was met by a wave of sweltering heat—not the dry and pleasant heat of Wakanda, but a stifling, humid heat that made the collar of his shirt stick to the back of his neck. 

Footsteps sounded behind him. 

He spun around quickly, his defense training kicking in. 

A girl with tiny freckles and curly hair stood in front of him. She smiled, revealing straight white teeth. 

“Welcome to Beaumont, Alabama,” she said. 

T’Challa exhaled a sigh of relief. “Sheila!” he said, giving her an awkward hug. Her hair smelled like strawberry shampoo. 

“I can’t believe you’re here,” his friend Zeke added, pushing his glasses up on his nose. “I mean, all the way from Wakanda!”

Zeke raised his hand for a high five, and T’Challa returned it. 

Zeke was skinny, with close-cropped hair, chunky glasses, and a quick wit T’Challa had seen on several occasions. 

“Is that the only bag you brought?” Sheila asked, looking at the glossy black leather shoulder bag he carried. 

“Uh, yeah,” T’Challa replied. “I didn’t bring a lot, and I didn’t want to check it.” 

Sheila fanned herself with a hand and put on an exaggerated Southern accent. “Well, it’s so hot here, all you’ll need is shorts and a T-shirt, anyway.” 

Zeke waved her off. “She’s been talking like that since I got here.” 

T’Challa chuckled. The only Southern accents he’d ever heard were from old American TV shows he had watched in Wakanda. “So when did you get here?” he asked Sheila. 

“About a week ago,” Sheila replied. “I haven’t been here in years! The last time was with my parents and I was like five or six.” 

“What about you, Zeke?” T’Challa asked. 

“Three days ago. I’ve been researching various food groups.” He licked his lips. 

Sheila poked a sideways thumb in Zeke’s direction. “All he’s been doing is eating.” 

“I’m a growing boy,” Zeke said, patting his flat stomach. “Plus, there’s a whole lot of food I have to try out!”

T’Challa chuckled again. He’d heard how good Southern cooking was, and he couldn’t wait to try some. 

Zeke eyed T’Challa’s bag with curiosity. “So . . . what’d you bring? Some secret high-tech gadgets? The suit? Please tell me you brought the suit.” 

T’Challa suppressed a groan. 

Last year, Zeke and Sheila had found out exactly who T’Challa really was on his first trip to America. His father had sent him to Chicago due to a looming threat in Wakanda. Once in the Windy City with his friend M’Baku, they were enrolled at South Side Middle School with fake names. His father didn’t want any of his enemies getting word that his son was in America. 

He soon became fast friends with Zeke and Sheila, and together, they stopped an evil force that had put the whole school and the world itself in danger. It didn’t take long for his friends to discover that he was more than an ordinary exchange student from Kenya, which was his cover. When the threat became so serious that T’Challa had to wear the panther suit his father had given him for protection, Zeke flipped out and wouldn’t stop talking about it. It seemed that he was still obsessed. 

“Yes, Zeke, I brought the suit,” T’Challa confessed. “My father insisted. But he did say to use caution. He doesn’t want me getting involved in some kind of dangerous adventure like last time.”

Zeke raised a mischievous eyebrow. “You never know though, right?” 

T’Challa shot Zeke a cautious smile. 

“Speaking of which,” Sheila put in, “how exactly did you convince your father to let you come to America again?” 

“It took some pestering,” T’Challa replied. “But I finally wore him down.” 

T’Challa thought back to the moment. At first his father was totally against the idea, but when T’Challa reminded him of how he had handled an unexpected threat on his last trip, and the fact that he was now a year older and wiser, the King of Wakanda nodded thoughtfully and folded his hands together in front of him. It also helped that Queen Ramonda was on T’Challa’s side. “T’Challa needs to see more of the outside world,” she had said. “The best time to do it is now, when he’s young.” 

After that, his father finally relented. 

“Remember who you are,” he demanded of T’Challa. “You are a representative of your nation. Use the wisdom and judgment you have been taught. Do not let me down.” 

T’Challa’s father had spoken quietly, but the strength behind the words was clear. There was no other way to interpret it: 

Do not get into trouble. 

“C’mon,” Sheila said, pulling T’Challa away. “Mr. Perkins is waiting.” 

“Mr. Perkins?” T’Challa asked.

“He’s like a handyman,” Sheila replied. “He does a lot of stuff for my gramma, like cutting grass and fixing stuff. He’s waiting for us in the parking lot.” 

Mr. Perkins, an older Black man with graying hair, didn’t speak much but played gospel songs on the car radio. T’Challa hadn’t heard anything like it before, but some of the melodies reminded him of Wakandan folk songs back home. He closed his eyes and let the music wash over him, which almost sent him into sleep several times. 

After a short drive, Mr. Perkins dropped them off in front of a quaint yellow house with a nice green lawn and giant magnolia trees on either side. 

“Thanks, Mr. Perkins,” Sheila said. “We really appreciate it.” 

“Tell Miss Rose I’ll be by next week to get rid of that tree stump out back, okay?” 

“Sure thing,” Sheila replied. “Thanks again.” 

T’Challa gave Mr. Perkins a smile and a nod, then made his way out of the car. 

“Get ready for a wet grandma kiss,” Sheila warned T’Challa. 

When T’Challa and his friends stepped inside, he was immediately met by an aroma that made his mouth water. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he couldn’t wait to find out. The living room was large and comfortable-looking, with a big sofa, several wingback chairs, and a large dining area with a massive china cabinet. Pictures of family members were framed on the walls, and fresh flowers sat above a fancy fireplace. A bookshelf took up one wall. T’Challa smiled. Sheila was a big reader and, judging by the numerous books on display, her grandmother was, too. Must run in the family, he thought. 

“Something smells good,” Zeke said as he sniffed the air. 

At that moment, a woman appeared from the back of the house. She had short, tightly woven braids and wore a dress printed with bold geometric patterns of green and yellow, which reminded T’Challa of the colorful clothing people wore back home. 

“You must be T’Challa,” she said, approaching. 

T’Challa gulped at the mention of his name, but then realized he didn’t need to keep it a secret. She didn’t know where he was really from, of course, only that he was a friend of Zeke and Sheila’s—one they had met in Chicago as an “exchange student.” 

Before he knew it, Sheila’s grandmother hugged him and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Nice to meet you, T’Challa,” she said, breaking the embrace. “You can call me Miss Rose.” 

“Nice to meet you, too, Miss Rose.” 

There was a moment of silence. T’Challa stuck his hands in his pockets, not knowing what else to do with them. 

“Well,” Miss Rose finally said, stepping back with hands on hips. “Who’s hungry?”

***

had attended a lot of feasts in Wakanda, but Miss Rose’s table was a sight to behold. Zeke pointed everything out. “We got catfish, corn muffins, short ribs, baked mac and cheese, fried okra, boiled peanuts, hush puppies, kale, succotash, red beans and rice, and sweet tea.” 

“And some Wow Burgers,” Sheila added. “They’re made from plants.” She was a vegetarian but was considering becoming a pescatarian after trying baked salmon. 

“Yuck,” Zeke complained. “Who wants fake meat?” 

“It’s healthier,” Sheila shot back. 

Zeke shook his head and reached for another piece of fish.

T’Challa watched them go back and forth like this for a few minutes. He grinned. This is what they were always like, he remembered. They’d argue, joke, and tease each other for hours, but deep down, they were the best of friends, and would do anything for each other if push came to shove. They had both proved that on T’Challa’s last trip to America. 

“This all looks delicious,” T’Challa said, digging into a piece of hot fried fish. The flaky, succulent meat melted in his mouth. He smiled and savored the taste. The food in Wakanda was very good but also a little too healthy for T’Challa’s liking—lots of green, leafy plants and lean meats. Any chance he could get to try out new flavors would not be passed up. When he and his friend M’Baku had first come to Chicago the year before, they ate everything in the hotel mini-fridge and M’Baku got sick from too much chocolate. 

Zeke devoured the food like he hadn’t eaten in weeks. 

Miss Rose looked at him for a long moment. “Child,” she said, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms. “I don’t know where you put it all.” She shook her head. “Skinny as a beanpole.” 

“It all goes to my brain,” Zeke replied, mouth full. 

“Well, you better eat more,” Sheila snapped, “because there’s a whole bunch of empty space in there.” 

Even T’Challa had to laugh at that, and he did without hesitation. Zeke mumbled a retort, but Sheila had already won the round. 

T’Challa let out a breath and sat back in his chair. He was glad to be here. His time in Wakanda was always full of responsibilities, like meeting with his father’s advisors and attending weekly briefings on Wakanda’s latest concerns. He also had to oversee a group of gifted students in Wakanda’s Academy for Young Leaders, boys and girls who would one day run the government. He did get a little overwhelmed now and then. After all, he had just turned thirteen and still enjoyed Wakanda’s lush forests and crystal-clear rivers. He loved tending to the old and disabled animals in the sanctuary, feeding giraffes and rhinos who responded to his soft words and gentle touch. But his father never forgot to remind him of his place and duty in their powerful nation.

You will lead one day, he would say, his voice deep and full of strength. That is our destiny.” 

“So what do y’all have planned for the summer?” Miss Rose asked, bringing T’Challa back to the moment. “Vacation doesn’t last forever, you know.” 

T’Challa’s ears perked up at her Southern twang—it was the same tone Sheila had tried to imitate, but this was the real deal. 

Sheila reached in her jeans pocket and took out her phone. “Well, I’ve got it all right here.” 

“She’s a planner,” Zeke said. 

Sheila scrolled through her phone. “Tomorrow it’s the Alabama State Fair. Then I was thinking about a canoe trip on the Tuscaloosa River, and then there’s the botanical—” 

“Is this just one day,” Zeke cut in, “or over the whole summer?” 

“Let’s start with the state fair tomorrow,” Sheila replied, ignoring Zeke’s snarky attitude, “and then we’ll go from there.” 

“Sounds like a plan,” Miss Rose said. She turned to T’Challa. “What about you, young man? What are you looking forward to?” 

T’Challa thought on that a moment. He hoped he could do as much as possible on the trip, but the only thing they had really planned out beforehand was arriving in Alabama around the same time. “Well,” he said, searching for a good answer. “It’s just fun to see someplace different.” He shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m up for anything!” 

Miss Rose cocked her head. “Sheila said you’re from Kenya? So what’s that like? I’d love to see the motherland one day.” 

Zeke and Sheila glanced at T’Challa, wondering what he would say. He didn’t want to lie to this nice lady, but he thought he should keep any mention of Wakanda to himself. Most Americans were under the perception that Wakanda was a poor country in need of global aid, but that was all a facade, as Zeke and Sheila knew very well. T’Challa thought it would be easier to just say he was from Kenya, rather than make up stories about how poor Wakanda was. That seemed more of a lie than saying he was from Kenya, to his thinking. He shifted in his chair and scratched his head. “Well,” he said. “It’s always hot there, like here.” 

Miss Rose chuckled. “Tell me something I don’t know.” 

T’Challa swallowed hard. “There are all kinds of animals. Lots of, um, things to do.” 

Zeke snorted. 

“T’Challa’s family is very wealthy,” Sheila said, which made T’Challa stiffen. “His father is very high up in the government.” 

T’Challa shot Sheila a look, and Zeke stifled a laugh. Come to think of it, though, T’Challa realized, she isn’t lying. 

“Oh, really?” Miss Rose said, seemingly impressed.

“Well, that’s very exciting. Guess some of us are just born lucky, huh?” 

“Um, yeah,” T’Challa said quietly. “I guess so.” 

“You should see T’Challa wrestle,” Zeke said. “Last year, he pinned our old gym teacher, Mr. Blevins, in like thirty seconds flat! It was fast, like . . . cat reflexes.” 

T’Challa gulped. 

“Can’t say I’m a fan of wrestling,” Miss Rose put in. “Why do boys always want to fight?” 

“And that is the eternal question,” Sheila said. 

T’Challa sat through this whole episode trying to keep a smile. His friends were really giving him a good ribbing. It was great to see them again, he realized. He had truly missed them, even if they were putting him on the spot. 

“Oof,” Zeke said, pushing his plate away and settling back. “I’m stuffed.” 

T’Challa breathed easier, relieved that the joking was finally at an end. 

Zeke’s eyes roamed over the remaining food on the table. “Um, what’s for dessert?” 

Dessert was a choice of peach cobbler or pecan pie, topped with Blue Bell ice cream, one of the South’s tastiest treats. T’Challa chose the peach cobbler and ate every bite until he felt his stomach was about to burst. 

Afterward, Sheila led T’Challa and Zeke to their room.

It was a small space with bunk beds and a shaggy orange carpet that looked a hundred years old. Zeke had already claimed the top bunk. The room had been vacant since Sheila’s two uncles—Miss Rose’s sons—moved out long ago. Faded posters of old soul bands were on the walls along with a beanbag chair, a lava lamp, and a few abandoned toys heaped in an open footlocker. 

“Well,” Zeke said, stretching his arms behind his head as he lay in the top bunk, “what do you think of Alabama so far?” 

But the only response from the Prince of Wakanda was loud snoring coming from the bunk below.

Ronald L. Smith is an award-winning writer of children's literature including the middle grade novels Black Panther: The Young PrinceThe MesmeristThe Owls Have Come To Take Us Away, and Gloomstown, a Junior Library Guild Selection. His first novel, Hoodoo, earned him the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award and the ILA Award for Intermediate Fiction from The International Literacy Association. Before he became a full-time writer, he worked in advertising and wrote TV commercials for big corporations. He is much happier writing books for young people.



Connect with the Author:

Website |Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads 

3 winners will win a finished copy of BLACK PANTHER THE YOUNG PRINCE: SPELLBOUND, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

9/20/2021

YA Books Central

Excerpt

9/20/2021

Kait Plus Books

Excerpt

9/21/2021

BookHounds YA

Excerpt

9/21/2021

Books and Ladders

Excerpt

9/22/2021

karendeeandabc

Spotlight

9/22/2021

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Review

9/23/2021

Rajiv's Reviews

Review

9/23/2021

More Books Please blog

Review

9/24/2021

Review Thick & Thin

Review

9/24/2021

Locks, Hooks and Books

Review

Week Two:

9/27/2021

Nay's Pink Bookshelf

Review

9/27/2021

booksaremagictoo

Review

9/28/2021

The Momma Spot

Review

9/28/2021

Lifestyle of Me

Review

9/29/2021

Cocoa With Books

Review

9/29/2021

Midnightbooklover

Review

9/30/2021

@fictitious.fox

Review

9/30/2021

Sometimes Leelynn Reads

Review

10/1/2021

Two Points of Interest

Review

10/1/2021

laura's bookish corner

Review

Review

20 Sept 2021

Audio #Review: RAGE by Cora Carmack

20 September 0 Comments

RAGE

Author: Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #2
Source: Downloaded from Audible Plus
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Summary:
Princess or adventurer.

Duty or freedom.

Her Kingdom or the Stormhunter she loves.

If Aurora knows anything, it's that choices have consequences. To set things right, she joins a growing revolution on the streets of Pavan.

In disguise as the rebel Roar, she puts her knowledge of the palace to use to aid the rebellion. But the Rage season is at its peak and not a day passes without the skies raining down destruction. Yet these storms are different—they churn with darkness, and attack with a will that’s desperate and violent.

This feels like more than rage.

It feels like war.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
See my review of ROAR, the first book in this series!

Okay, so when is book three coming out?? There are so many unanswered questions that I have now and I just really want to know what happens next! I really liked that this one continued right where we left off with ROAR and then only expanded the universe, the magic, and the character development throughout the course of the novel.

I really like Aurora as a character and am glad that she got to learn more about herself and her counterpart but I still have SO many questions about how she plans to reign, her magic, and the way that she is interacting with everyone. It seems like she is really split between being the person she always was and the person she was meant to be - and I think a lot of people have that issue, especially as they start to grow up.

I am meh on the romances in this series and am really here for Aurora and Jinx and Novia (sorry if I spelled those wrong - audio!) just living their best lives being witches, honestly. I think there are much more cool and interesting dynamics between the friendships in this story than in the relationships.

I love love love the worldbuilding though. If nothing else, Aurora learning how to use her magic and "meeting up" with the Stormlord to learn more about how to take in souls and storms was literally the best part of this. I am so intrigued to learn more about Stormlings, Tempests, and the old ways of magic that seem to be in Aurora's blood. I am so intrigued to figure out who the Stormlord is too! I have some running theories and want to hear yours if you've read this one!

TLDR: I NEED the next book in this series. I must know what happens next and what the conclusion to this story is. I'm so invested and SO sad that I chose to read this before the third book had a release date. But like, honestly, read this. It's a great twist on the typical princess turned rebel story.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick up this or the sequel?

17 Sept 2021

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: Event Recap of Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey!

17 September 0 Comments

 

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!
I spent my Friday night with Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey, thanks to Copper Dog Books and Erewhon! It was such a neat event, completely virtual, and it was great to get some "behind the scenes" access to their writing, books, and all others!

Below you can learn more about the books and some of the conversation!

Cassandra Khaw in conversation with Richard Kadrey

Spotlight on Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is an award-winning game writer, whose fiction work has been nominated for several awards. You can find their fiction in places like F&SF, Year's Best of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Tor.com. Their next book Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out in 2021.

THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD

Author: Cassandra Khaw
Series: N/A
Publisher: Erewhon
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Summary:
A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all. 

Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a page-turning exploration of humans and machines that is perfect for readers of Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.
Preorder:

Spotlight on Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey is the New York Times-bestselling author of fifteen
novels, including the Sandman Slim supernatural noir series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime.” Chad Stahelski of John Wick fame is directing the book as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include The Grand Dark, Hollywood Dead, The Everything Box, and Butcher Bird. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s also been immortalized as an action figure.

Connect with the Author:

SANDMAN SLIM

Author: Richard Kadrey
Series: Sandman Slim #1
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Publication Date: July 21, 2009
Summary:
Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero in Sandman Slim, star of this gripping, gritty new series by Richard Kadrey.

Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.
Preorder:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD

The event started off with Richard telling us about the time he punched a horse, so you knew it was going to be a great event. (Spoiler: About half way through the walk with his niece and his ex on the horse, it started bucking and was about to throw them off. He used to box and knows when you hit someone in a specific spot on their jaw, it can snap them back into reality, so he punched the horse there. The horse stopped and no one was injured.) Richard does not recommend punching horses.

But then we got more information about how Cass has punched a lot of people in her past. The high school they went to was rough and a girl threatened her with glass, so she went with it. 

The theme of crime believes into the books that both of the authors have written. This includes smoking and stealing cars in Richard's books. But karma got to him: someone stole his car when he lived in San Francisco for a joy ride. 
Crime leads us into THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD which is mainly about crime and the main interview between the authors. It was a nice conversation and I've pulled out some of my favourite parts!

Richard: Was it a conscious thing? Did you see it as an opportunity to put your past into your writing?

Cass: A little bit of both. When I was younger, I was poor and had to be a pick-pocket. I also tricked men into giving me money because I needed to pay for college. I mostly did outside pockets of people, just running into them and taking what I could. In THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD, I wanted to explore if you've been involved in crime, the military, or jobs that make you feral, how do you fit back into society? Your brain can't always bend back into normal, civilian state.

Richard: Crime is part of who you are and who the characters are, but their brains are wired for a certain kind of life.

Cass: When you're exposed to something for so long, it is inevitable. Rita, the mastermind, alters them a little bit to make them more likely to want to do these crimes.

I enjoyed making this book very cinematic. There is an explosion scene where the entire ship explodes and the main character is trying to fight and survive knowing she needs to get somewhere.

This is something I rexplore in my books - what are the limits of what people can face and still live? How does it change a person? Do they resign to their pain? So far, my characters have all put themselves back into that pain or conflict.

Richard: There is a lot of PTSD in your characters, especially in this book.

Cass: I've joked a few times that this is my way of interrogating abuse and life. THE ALL-CONSUMING LIFE is about impurity and immortality - how do you process trauma and PTSD? I wanted to look at a way that we deal with trauma in a variety of ways through the main characters in this story.

I think it's one way people deal with abuse - jumping at life, gobbling it down because you realize how much has been taken from you so you want to make up for lost time. Some people can be so broken by things that happen to them that they want to go into the evil or the greater horror to protect themselves from it happening again. And some people are petty and need to get revenge.

Cass: Eventually you force your main character to confront everything that has happened to him and I'm wondering if that was intentional?

Richard: The twelve book arc was meant to rexamine the meaning of monsters. In SANDMAN SLIM, our main character is clinically insane and learns to kill. By the time he escapes, he is nothing but a vegenance machine, he just wants to kill, kick, and take on the world. Over the course of the books, I wanted to rehabilitate a true monster into someone who can function into the world. He consciously deals with PTSD, takes medication, and becomes better with it over time. That life of chaos and violence breeds behaviours that if you don't take them in hand, you won't get past them.

Cass: Have you gotten any negative reviews for "foul" language?

Richard: That's an interesting topic because "boy" books have very few complaints about the language in them. I have seen my women counterparts getting complaints about the language or the content in general - the themes, the characters, the fact that you are writing in a cyberpunk universe - has made people upset.

Cass: I wouldn't be surprised - I remember when Cyberpunk 2077 came out and people raised their eyebrows about it. What do you think about the new wave?

Richard: I'm sick of what I see of the public perception of "cyberpunk" which is sunglasses and guns in their bodies. Neon, wet streets - I'm tired of it. But there seems to be a huge amount of sexism in Science Fiction - and in "Cyberpunk" it's heightened. Do you have feelings about that?

Cass: At this point, I am resigned to it. I don't know what to say about it. A lot of early women writers who built elements of "Cyberpunk" are completely erased from the narrative. I see online men saying: "Women are writing a specific genre to fit in with the boys." Maybe in a few years the gender disparity will stop being an issue.

Richard: I wonder if it's also a combination of the book being queer. The boys reading feel as though they can't "see" themselves in the book because they aren't men and that impacts how they view the book as "good" or "bad."

Cass: I think that may be part of it too because women and non-binary folks in my book are along the LGBTQ+ spectrum. They have no time for boys. I hope people can see themselves in the book no matter how they identify.

Richard: You're so known for fantasy and horror - what SciFi or Cyberpunk works that made you want to write this?

Cass: The Matrix. I loved it growing up and broke my brain in the best possible way. I ran around for the next 15 years or so wanting to do something like that. I don't know if I succeeded at it but I had my brain tweaked a few times while writing it.

Richard: I had the idea for SANDMAN SLIM for about 10 years but waited for the right time to write it. Was it similar for you for THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD?

Cass: It kinda did. It was supposed to be a tie-in novella for a game, but it didn't happen. So it got stuck in my brain and I had to finish the book. I hadned it to my editor saying I need to write this and the editor wanted to make it into a novel.

Have you read any of these authors books?