Sometimes I get interesting reader questions on social media or the website. I’ll be taking some of these questions and posting them (new ones at the top) as they grab me. So it’s not so much Frequently Asked Questions as questions that appeal to me or that I think other readers might be interested in. I’ll try to avoid spoiling any important plot points, but if you wish to remain absolutely pure of hints, best to read my work before coming here.
When does the next book come out?
My newest Old World novel is Blood Gamble, which came out July 25, 2017 (unless you’re in Europe, in which case it was 25 July, 2017). The next book after that will be called Shadow Hunt, but it doesn’t have a release day yet. Probably very early 2018.
Will there be a new Lex/Scarlett/book? When?
Theoretically…yes to everything. The plan with the Old World books is to do a Scarlett trilogy, then a Lex trilogy, then Scarlett, etc. I’ll keep going as long as I can think of new stories, and as long as someone will keep paying me.
What’s the order of the Old World series? Do I need to start with book 1?
I actually have included a handy Suggested Reading Order page on this website, which you can find here. However, the Old World series was designed to have multiple entry points. There’s a Scarlett Bernard trilogy, a Boundary Magic trilogy, and a Disrupted Magic trilogy (which follows the further adventures of Scarlett, years after the first books). In theory, you can jump into the series at Dead Spots, Boundary Magic, or Midnight Curse. If you like Scarlett best, you can jump right from Hunter’s Trail to Midnight Curse, skipping over Lex. If you decide Scarlett’s not for you, you can head right over to Boundary Crossed.
However, if you want the full experience with the short stories and novella, see the Suggested Reading Order page.
What about Nightshades?
Yes to that as well. I have been contracted for two more in the series, titled Switchback and Outbreak. Switchback is out October 24, but you can preorder it anytime here. I do not have a release date for Outbreak yet, but when they’re announced I’ll be posting it here and on social media.
Will you explain that thing that happened in that one scene on page 354, because I don’t get it.
No, I’m sorry, I won’t. From time to time I do get emails or messages asking me to justify or elaborate on something that happens in the books, and I just can’t do it. As a writer, my job is to write the best possible book I can, put it out into the world, and fervently hope people enjoy it. That’s where my participation ends, if for no other reason than me needing to get back to writing more books. I’m happy to live in a time when I can interact with readers and vice versa, but for the sake of my sanity, that just can’t mean putting my writing on trial and asking me to defend it. I will never claim any of my books are perfect, but I do promise that I always do my best to make them so.
Meanwhile, I always encourage readers to talk to each other and compare notes. Start a wiki, or a book group, or a website devoted to hating me. Leave reviews, suggest the book at book clubs, use the many tools on Goodreads. We live in an age where you can interact with each other even more than with me, and I think that’s awesome. You should take advantage.
Can I meet you in person?
I wish you would! I spend a lot of time attending science fiction/fantasy conventions, and do the occasional reading/signing at bookstores. Whenever I have solid plans, I put them up on my Appearances page, which is on the top toolbar, toward the right. I’m always delighted to meet readers who liked the books, and happy to sign anything that’s not human skin. Okay, maybe human skin, depending on location and/or number of drinks I’ve had.
Will there ever be a Sashi series?
Short version? Probably not. But I am asked this question with some regularity, so here’s the long version: Bloodsick was a short novel that I wrote to be part of a boxed set with some very talented urban fantasy authors. The box set has since retired, but I still sell Bloodsick on my own. I don’t have the time (or the aptitude) to really devote myself to indie publishing, especially when I have responsibilities to my publisher to keep writing the longer works. I just don’t feel like it would be professional for me focus my attention on Sashi when I’m under contract for other novels.
However, that doesn’t mean I’m done with Sashi or that she won’t keep popping up in the Old World books.
What inspired you to write about a female combat veteran? Is Lex based on a real person?
No, Lex is not based on a specific real person (nor are any of my protagonists). I would find that way too difficult, since I write in first person and am therefore “inside” Lex’s head. If she were based on a real person I’d have to constantly call that woman up to find out how she’d react to things.
As far as writing a female combat vet, that actually goes back to Scarlett. In many ways, Scarlett is a typical urban fantasy heroine: smart, sarcastic, mouthy, independent. After Hunter’s Trail, my publisher asked me to write a new protagonist, and my first thought was “oh no, how can I write someone who’s different from Scarlett?” It’s hard to write multiple first person protagonists without them all sounding the same, but I didn’t want to just write the opposite of Scarlett, either, because that seemed boring and pat.
So instead I asked myself what Scarlett would never do. One of the answers that came to me was “join the army.” At the beginning of her story, Scarlett is a reluctant hero – she wants to just go about her life, and it annoys her that she keeps getting sucked into these big dramas. So a soldier –a person who willingly goes into battle and is prepared to make huge sacrifices for her country– that was someone different from Scarlett, but still interesting for me to write.
Why write about a null?
Well, when I started writing, I wasn’t sure I wanted to write an urban fantasy. First, as any publisher will tell you, it’s an oversaturated market. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t write about something just because other people have written about it before, but I didn’t want to just be another identical entry in the crowded field. So I promised myself that I would never write an urban fantasy unless I could come up with an idea I hadn’t seen before. No one was more surprised than me when I actually did.
(Note my careful phrasing: an idea I hadn’t seen before. I’ve never claimed to be the first person to think of a null character – after I’d written Dead Spots someone pointed out that the X-Men character Leech is a lot like Scarlett. I have also heard about similarities to Gail Carringer’s series. I have never read those books, and because I’ve heard the comparisons, I probably never will.)
If magical creatures stay away from each other, why doesn’t Scarlett apply? Are nulls a 4th branch?
It’s true, interspecies romance isn’t a thing in my world, because my mythology always leans heavily on the basic rules of evolution. (Read more about this here.) Whenever I get tangled up in my own questions, that’s where I go first. One of the most fundamental principles of evolution is the continuation of a species – we have a biological need to procreate. Werewolves and vampires can’t make babies in the traditional sense, but they can theoretically turn a human, which is why both species consider humanity part of the dating pool. But if you’re a werewolf, there’s no appeal to dating a vampire, because there’s no way you could ever procreate with that person. Witches do have babies the old-fashioned way, but they wouldn’t be able to make babies with vampires or werewolves, so humans are part of their dating pool, too.
In Bloodsick, the novella that covers Will’s origin story, we get a little more detail about how the whole chemistry works, and you see that the physical aversion between species isn’t set in stone.
The thing to remember about Scarlett, though, is that she negates all those rules, anyway. She’s the ultimate even playing field, so anyone who might have been attracted to her when they were human will be attracted to her now. So it’s not that magical creatures stay away from her, it’s that when she’s around there are no magical creatures.
No, nulls aren’t a 4th branch of magical species. I think of them more like a zonkey – a strange aberration in the evolutionary record. But like zonkeys, there are reasons why nulls happen, they don’t just drop out of the sky. (Guys, wouldn’t it be crazy if zonkeys dropped out of the sky?)
Are there any other forms of supernaturals in the Old World?
That would be telling. I will say for certain that once upon a time there were other creatures roaming the earth – Eli mentions it briefly in Dead Spots – and they died away when they couldn’t evolve to co-exist with humans. Vampires, witches, and werewolves adapted best because they evolved from magical conduits who were very similar to humans.
Do you see spin offs from this wolds continuing, featuring on different characters, maybe ones we don’t yet know about?
How many ideas for stories are you carrying around right now? How many never make it?
Oh, man, I have so many other short stories and novellas I’d love to write in this world. The two biggest ones I hope to get to are: 1) Scarlett’s time in New York between Dead Spots and Trail of Dead, and 2) what happens to Corry right after Dead Spots, while Scarlett is out of town and Will, at least, is aware of her status. I’ve had the Corry story in particular plotted out for something like two years now, but I have to focus on the books that I’m under contract to write first. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for side projects, unfortunately.If I had nothing but time, I’d also love to write Kirsten’s origin story (she’s the only one we don’t know now!), and follow what happens to Lizzy right after Hunter’s Trail. I’ve also had a seed of an idea in the back of my head for what happens to Esther after she flees Olivia’s Scarlett-shrine in Trail of Dead.
For me, one of the most fun thing about writing is getting to explore all these little pocket stories that are possible for literally any character in the books. Sometimes I think I should get my act together and set up a Kickstarter for a whole book of Old World short stories. But then I remember that I’m on a deadline and I have to get back to work.