Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seventh Star Press Author Interviews and Give Away!

I'm excited to bring to you all the first interview of the year. And if I do say so myself, what a way to start off the year!

I've been a fan of Seventh Star Press for around a year now, so when they announced that they would be doing .$99 e-short stories, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I've been wanting to find a way to share the works of the Seventh Star authors I've read, without have to lend out my personal copies. So, when Stephen Zimmer asked if I would be interested in doing an interview with himself and two of the other featured authors and do a massive give away, I jumped at the opportunity.

There will be three give aways. Each contest winner will receive the eight short stories in their choice of electronic formats (Kindle, Nook).

In order to win, just leave a comment at the end of this post with your name and e-mail, or you can just e-mail me directly at scifiguysbookreview (at) gmail (dot) com or,  ( The contest will run from today until January 19th at midnight. The winners of this awesome give away will be announced the next day.

For those interested here's a breakdown of the short stories by their authors (with my rating of each next to the titles):

Stephen Shrewsbury:
Author and Finisher of Our Flesh 4/5
Insurmountable 4/5

Stephen Zimmer:
Temples Rising 3.5/5
Lion Heart 4/5
Land of Shadow 3.5/5

Michael West:
For the River is Wide and the Gods are Hungry 4/5
Goodnight 5/5

Now, without further ado, I give you three of Seventh Star Press' authors, Steven Shrewsbury, Stephen Zimmer and Michael West:

SFG: “For the River is Wide and the Gods are Hungry,” has a very Harlan Ellison feel to it. Was that intentional?

MW: Well, the title is a tribute to Ellison, not the story itself.  I'm a huge fan of his work, especially his work for Sci-Fi televison. One of my favorite titles ever was for a classic Star Trek episode, "For All the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky." I always wanted to have a long, cool-sounding title like. The original title for my short story collection was My Skull Is Full of Dark Kisses, but some writer friends urged me to shorten it. Most publishers want short 1-3 word titles for novels and collections now, so I thought my best chance to have that long, cool title in was on a piece of short fiction, and this one really fits the story well.

SFG: “Author and Finisher of Our Flesh,” and “Insurmountable,” are the two Gorias La Gaul short stories that have been released in the first wave of the Seventh Star Short Stories. Because La Gaul has such a vast history, does it matter in which order these two shorts are read?

SS: Gorias is 700ish in THRALL. I’d say AUTHOR takes place probably two hundred years before that (and there are a few hints at the forthcoming prequel, OVERKILL, and a General from that novel, and a different realm, are mentioned in foresahdowing events there). For example, the monarch that might come to the throne is mentioned in AUTHOR, but in OVERKILL that man is long dead and his aged daughter rules. In this pre-flood world, many live to be to their 900s, but in different points of the world, the process is slower. INSURMOUNTABLE is earleir than AUTHOR by quite a bit, showing La Gaul a tad younger.

SFG: Your four short stories all seem to have a certain feel to them, each one striking a different chord with me as I read them. Is music a major factor in your writing? Were there any specific soundtracks or albums that you listened to while writing these stories?

SZ: I always listen to music when I'm writing, which is one of the main elements in my routine/setup, in addition to having a dedicated place in the house where I do my writing, and writing alone. The music helps me create that bubble that helps block off the outside world, and get me into the right zone every day.

As far as what I listen to, I primarily listen to hard rock and heavy metal, ranging from the more straightforward stuff like AC/DC, ranging up to the heavily orchestrated/symphonic like Nightwish, and everything in between. From Black Sabbath to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I love heavy-edged music in all of its forms. Sometimes I find myself gravitating to a certain kind of music on certain scenes, such as something big and epic like Symphony X, Nightwish, or Dream Theater for a large-scale, grander scene, to something like Slayer, Machine Head, or Testament when I'm doing a horror genre story, or one of the Abyss scenes in the Rising Dawn Saga. The music does help with the mood, as well as forming that nice backdrop that keeps outside sounds and distractions at bay.

With three of the short stories, I didn't have my mind set on anything absolutely specific music-wise. The fourth is an exception, as there is a fantastic Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath song, Glory Ride, off of their very underrated Eternal Idol album, which was part of the inspiration for the story Into Glory Ride. The song would fit very well with Marragesh at the end of the story! I titled the story Into Glory Ride as a tip of the cap to this inspiration!

SFG: “Goodnight,” your second short story from your TALES FROM HARMONY series, is an emotionally charged, hair raising story. After re-reading it several times, one thing stood out in my mind, and that was the old adage: “Write what you know.” Does this saying have any relativity to your story “Goodnight?”

MW: I’d had the idea of twins trying to fool Death for some time, but I didn’t really know what to do with it until I had children of my own. One night, while reading my sons a goodnight story, I had this image of my grandmother reading to them instead. So I decided that was the way to approach the tale.  When I finished “Goodnight,” I showed it to my living grandmother (something I’d written that I thought she might be able to stomach). She read it in one sitting, then told me that her childhood neighbor actually had the same accident as one of the twins in the story. She said she didn’t remember ever telling me that, and I didn’t remember ever hearing it.  I like “Goodnight” a lot, and it thrills me that the story strikes a chord with so many. It was named the Best Horror Short Story of 2005 in the annual P&E Readers Poll, and people still come up to me and tell me they’ve read it to their own children. One day, I hope to read it to my children’s children.

SFG: With the release of your next Gorias La Gaul novel coming out sometime this year, is there anything you could tell readers about it?

SS: OVERKILL takes place several years before THRALL, and everyone will get more glimpses of Gorias past, his upbringing and past exploits. Gorias’ is contracted by Queen Garnet of Transalpina to secure her lost granddaughter, who was abducted years before and lives amongst the pirates. But while he prepares to leave, aided by an amazon guard, a series of murders take place in the Capitol via the use of dragonfire. That is impossible since all the dragons are gone. Gorias is knee deep in royal intrigue, religious fanatics and pirates dealing in dragonfire from the mobile realm of the fallen angel, Pergamus. The book is an action packed, raw ride, full of dark humor and a few twists I think that will stun everyone.

SFG: Each of your short stories set in both your urban fantasy and epic fantasy series' are large, and sweeping, with each series consisting of six to seven volumes. Now that you're at, or close to the halfway mark in both series, have you found it harder to juggle of the characters and worldbuilding?

SZ: I haven't had any trouble at all. If anything, my understanding of the worlds just deepen and grow with the progress though the novels. I know Ave and the realms in the Rising Dawn Saga even better through the experiences of the short stories and the ongoing novel titles. As the two series have each been concentrated on, construction-wise, as full series, I have a very purposeful approach to each title in relation to the whole. Readers will find the first books to be very foundational, and subsequent books to have smoothly flowing threads from earlier installments, as well as a continuing acceleration in pace. The grand finales will be spectacular in scale, I can assure you of that, LOL!

SFG: With the announcement of POSIEDON'S CHILDREN, the first book in a four part urban fantasy series titled “Legacy of the Gods,” is there any chance that we might see some short stories released in the future, set in this urban fantasy series?

MW: I'm sure you will. I would love to put out some shorts between each novel to serve as a kind of bridge from one to the next, or to explore more of the mythology beyond what's in the books themselves. People who have read Poseidon tend to get very passionate about those characters and the world they live in. There are a lot of possibilities there. 

SFG: Yetis, giant flesh absorbing monsters, beholders, and dragons are just a few of the creatures that readers will experience when reading your stuff. With the antediluvian world that you have created within the mythos of THRALL and soon to be released OVERKILL, would it be safe to assume that Gorias La Gaul has seen and fought just about everything that stalks his world?

SS: You haven’t even seen the Cytaurs in OVERKILL yet…but he’s been through the ringer. In this time, everything was a different, I reckon, so Gorias has a long history to explore. He’s a fun character and at times the twists surprise me.

SFG: How does writing large novels compare to short stories? Which do you prefer more?

SZ: I love the novel format because it gives me the room to develop a number of threads, and weave together a more complex plot. As far as the process goes, novels and short stories are very different entities, and readers expectations can be quite different as well. Readers will give you a little more room pace-wise to develop a novel-length story, whereas an author really has to connect very rapidly in short fiction. Both still require the creation of compelling characters and good story concepts, but in short stories you do not have the time to thoroughly flesh a world out, or gradually develop a character like you do in a novel.

SFG: Is there anything that you gentlemen would like to add?

MW: I would like to thank Seventh Star Press for giving its authors this sandbox to play in.  It's a lot of fun for us as writers to be able to continue to explore our various worlds and characters outside the confines of the novels; it gives faithful readers a way to stay connected to the series, and new readers a way to discover us.  People are much more willing to take a chance on something unfamiliar if it costs less than a cup of coffee to try.

SS: Nab the eBook shorts and prepare for OVERKILL, a hard hitting work any action lover will enjoy. Be on the look out for me on the road this year at a Con or if my truck breaks down…

SFG: Thanks so much gentlemen, for taking time out of your busy lives and writing schedules to sit down and have a chat! I thoroughly enjoyed each and every short story that's been released through Seventh Star Press' e-book line thus far, and I can't wait to see what else you all have up your sleeves!

SZ:  Thank you Rodney! And thank you to everyone who has read this interview. Great to be here, and don't worry, there's a ton up my sleeves. Both series are fertile ground for a huge number of short stories in the long run, and I will be developing my steampunk characters, Harvey and Solomon, in further adventures, and also making some forays into horror very soon. Going to be a busy year! :)

Update: This contest is no longer open. Thanks go to those that submitted their information for some great reads!


  1. I love Goodnight by Michael West and look forward to checking out the rest very soon.


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  3. I am really looking forward to these stories.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. I stumbled upon you as I was looking for my own site on Google (just started a podcast). I bow down to your commitment! And I thought that I read a lot of fantasy and scifi. I'll be sure to visit back again soon!

  5. Thanks for having me on your blog and thanks to everyone for reading it! I love those two rascals with me in the interview (Shrews and Mike) and definitely encourage people to pick up their books! :)