Thursday, December 1, 2016

Steampunk Author Interview: Robyn Bennis

I first met Robyn Bennis last year after a panel discussion I was on at FOGcon, whereupon we immediately began chatting it up about steampunk. I quickly realized she knew way more about the genre (and its subgenres) than I do, and so was thrilled to find out she had her first novel, a rollicking airship adventure called The Guns Above, forthcoming from Tor books this coming spring. Robyn was kind enough to sit down and chat about her new novel, her experience working in the sciences, and copious reading recommendations.

GC: Based on my exhaustive Google search, there’s not much out there in the way of published fiction from you (although I did find at least one scientific article in Nature that it looks like you co-authored). Is there any fiction you have that readers can get their hands on before the The Guns Above comes out next spring?

Author Robyn Bennis
RB: Unless I come up with a killer short story between now and May, The Guns Above is going to be my first publicly available fiction. I've been very shy about posting any of my previous fiction, and I almost never submitted. Something changed after I finished this book, though. I think Sam from Quantum Leap may have been involved, because all of a sudden I was submitting personalized queries to every agent with even a vague interest in steampunk. And my memory of those months of querying is pretty much Swiss-cheese, so the data all fits. My next clear memory is signing the agency agreement with Paul Lucas at Janklow and Nesbit. (Alas, Dr. Sam Becket never returned home.)

GC: What can readers expect in the new novel, style-wise? From the cover blurb, we know there’s going to be a lot steampunk and airship action, but is it fast-paced, more character oriented, geared toward all-ages or YA? And can we expect to see any of your dry sense of humor that readers of your blog have come to know and love?

RB: Oh, it's going to be dry. Let me give you a little taste from the opening scene, as Lt. Josette Dupre lies wounded in the aftermath of a chaotic battle:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In Light of the Presidential Election, a Promise to Readers and Friends

Dear readers and friends,

I rarely write about real-world politics, focusing instead on issues like misogyny, authoritarianism, environmental destruction, and fearmongering in my fiction. I make my characters face these issues because they’re problems that affect real people I’ve met, known, and care for.

It’s for this very same reason that, today, I feel obliged to discuss real-world politics. I won’t bore anyone with a long tirade, or levy accusations at anyone. There’s plenty of that to be found elsewhere online. Instead, I offer a plea and a pledge in the wake of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

To those who are scared and uncertain as to what their future will be like under a Trump presidency, I understand. Know you have a friend in me. I’ll speak to that more in a moment, but first…

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How Would You Finish George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire?

George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire currently stands at five books, with book six, The Winds of Winter coming soon, and then likely another two books to “wrap the story up.” I’m using the quotes there because like many readers, I’ve noted that the story is becoming increasingly complex, with more than 24 viewpoint characters and counting. Even with his penchant for killing characters off, Martin has no easy chore before him to wrap up the story.

How in the world can Martin resolve so many storylines to the satisfaction of readers? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, I’ve asked a handful of authors how they would finish the series. Please share how you would finish the series in the comments section. Just subject yourself to the same restraints I placed on the contributors here: try to keep it under 400 words!

With the coming of winter, magic is alive again…

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

SF/F/H Author Interview: Wendy Wagner

Garrett and Wendy at Westercon 2016
Wendy Wagner is the managing editor at Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines, as well as a fast-emerging novelist. Her newest book, Starspawn, is a Pathfinder Tale novel that continues the adventures of the ex-pirate-extraordinaire Jendara, who readers first met in Skinwalkers. Walker also has a new, unrelated novel coming out from Angry Robot books in the summer of 2017, called An Oath of Dogs.

Wendy was kind enough to sit down with me for an interview back in 2013, but a lot has happened since then. In addition, to the new books, she’s taken part in the release of a series of special issues from Lightspeed and Nightmare that feature underrepresented voices in the genre. And of less import to the world at large, but important to me, she was also kind enough to write a blurb for my newest novel, Souldrifter.

All things considered, I figured it was hi-time we caught up, and once again she was kind enough to sit down with me to talk about her new books, her influences, promoting diversity in SF/F, and maybe travelling to Mars…

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Con-Volution 2016: My Monstrous Schedule

Con-Volution 2016: The Age of Monsters is this weekend, I'm excited to be participating in a whopping five panels. This will be my first time attending Con-Volution, located in San Francisco, California, and I'm looking forward to hopefully meeting a lot of great new people.

If you'll be in attendance, please flag me down and say hi. Here's the schedule of the panels I'll be appearing on. I'm stoked to chat about the making of monsters, and particularly Saturday's panel, "Fear of the Other," which should touch upon some important issues in the genre (and the world) right now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Celebrating Seven Years: Best of The Machine Stops

Saying goodbye to the old Machine Stops logo
August 8, 2016 was the seven-year anniversary for this blog, and I finally got around to giving the site a facelift. Hopefully, the new layout will make reading easier on they eyes. I'm also going through and updating broken links, including making sure all the book titles and images now have active links.

The Machine Stops started out with me intermittently rambling on about what I was working on in the infancy of my writing career, but as I became more involved in the SF/F community as a professional (sometime around 2011), the blog become infinitely more interesting, featuring interviews with other authors and the occasional SF/F lists.

Looking forward, I'll still be blogging about my own writing updates (about once a month), but you can expect to see a lot more interviews with other authors and fun features like top-10 lists and whatever other strange ideas pop into my head.

To celebrate the first seven years and kickoff a new chapter for The Machine Stops, here are the

Top 10 Most Popular SF/F Posts

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dreamwielder Ebook Sale and Writing Updates

Good News. Diversion Books has put the ebook version of Dreamwielder on sale for only 99 cents through September 13, so if you've been holding out for a good deal, now's the time to go for it. That price should be valid at all ebook retailers. For your convenience here are some quick links:


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Introducing DREAMRUSH

I'm very excited to announce the release of DREAMRUSH, my first collection of short fiction. The collection includes several stories that were previous only available in ebook format, including the Dreamwielder prequel "Wulfram," as well the never-before-published story "Deus ex Aurum," which is set during an alternate California gold rush.

The book is available in trade paperback and ebook formats at Amazon and all major online book retailers.

Here's the full book jacket blurb:

"Calcaterra's stories, long and short, are well-crafted, innately readable, and thoroughly kick-ass." –Ahimsa Kerp, author of Cthulhu Kaiju

From the author of The Dreamwielder Chronicles comes 5 tales of fantasy, future past, and gaslamp frontierism, including...

"The Knight's Dog" – The gritty fantasy that's been read over 80k times and is oft compared to The Game of Thrones.

"Page Fault" – A thrilling mashup of cyberpunk, fantasy, noir, and post-apocalyptic fiction.

"Deus ex Aurum" and "Gold Comes Out" – Groundbreaking tales of gaslamp frontierism, set during the California gold rush.

"Wulfram" – The prequel to Dreamwielder, chronicling the story of the mysterious sorcerer Wulfram.

-Garrett Calcaterra

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Spring Recap and Summer Events

It's been an eventful spring and early summer of 2016. I kicked things off with a book signing at the Book Carnival in Orange back in April, along with steampunk legend James P. Blaylock. The event was well attended and my trip back down to southern California afforded me the opportunity to meet up with family and the crew from my writing group, The Biscuits.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dreamwielder ebook: 99 cents all week!

In honor of the Nebula Awards, which happen this week, my publisher, Diversion Books, is running a promotional deal on the ebook edition of Dreamwielder. All week (May 10–17, 2016), you can download the book for 99 cents.

Download a copy if you haven't already, and if you have, well heck, please help spread the word.

I'm also getting in on the Nebula action. No, not by getting nominated for an award (I wish!), but with my article on the Nebulas at The Book Stops Here, "7 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors You Won’t Believe Have Never Won a Nebula Award for Best Novel."

To download a copy of Dreamwielder, cheap, click here.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spring Doings

Dreary, rainy weather inspires me to read and write, but I somehow always manage to be more productive in the Spring than in the winter. Seems a little cliche, what with all the spring "rebirth" symbolism and what have you, but there you have it. I'm a busy bee when it comes to writing in the spring.

Here's a quick recap of what's going on.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Garrett Calcaterra at FOGcon 6

I'm very excited to be participating in this year's FOGcon, FOGcon 6 to be precise. The guests of honor are Jo Walton, Ted Chiang, and Donna Haraway. The posthumous "ghost of honor" is Octavia Butler. Butler is a big influence of mine, and incidentally enough, I just discussed her novel Wild Seed in a guest blog post I wrote called "The Fantasy and Sci-Fi Novels that Inspired The Dreamwielder Chronicles." I'm pretty excited to catch some panels on her work. I'm also excited to hopefully meet Katherine Kerr, who will be appearing on several panels. I remember enjoying her Deverry series when I was in my early teens.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Upcoming Appearances

It's mid-February, and I'm finally settling in to the new home, new freelance work, and my new writing schedule. I'm excited to announce several appearances at conventions and signings in the coming months. If one of them happens to be in your home town, I hope you'll stop by.

FOGCon: Fri, Mar 11 — Sun, Mar 13, Walnut Creek, California
I'll be giving a reading on Friday, and then appearing on two panels on Saturday. It'll be my second time at FOGcon and I'm really looking forward to it. Weekend and day passes are still available for purchase on the FOGcon website if you wanna go.

Monday, January 11, 2016

An Interview with Thriller Author Mia Thompson

One of the coolest things about being an author is having the opportunity to meet other authors. Mia Thompson is one of the authors I've been fortunate enough to get to know. She's author of the internationally bestselling Sapphire Dubois series, which includes the novels Stalking Sapphire, Silencing Sapphire, and Sentencing Sapphire. She also happens to have the same agent and publisher that I do.

I'm continually blown away by Mia, not only because she's a great writer, but because she was born in Sweden and English wasn't even her first language. The fact that she writes about serial killers is pretty cool, too.

Garrett: We’ll get right to the good stuff. Where did your fascination with serial killers come from?

Mia: I write about things that perplex me, and evil does. I have a hard time comprehending where it comes from, and why it evolves in some while not in others, so I write about it to try and understand it.

Garrett: Any chance that you’ll delve into supernatural horror in future books?

Mia: Supernatural, yes! I have a book plotted and planned in that very genre. Horror, no. Years ago, I tried to write a horror story about a haunted kindergarten. It creeped me out so badly I couldn’t sleep, so I swore to myself I would never attempt it again.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Wulfram: Cheap as Free

Happy new year!

I'm excited to announce that Wulfram, a prequel ebook that ties into Dreamwielder, is super cheap all January long. Like free cheap. There is one catch, of course. You need to to sign up for my mailing list on my website, Okay, you don't actually have to sign up to download the book for free. Since I'm nice, here's the cheat code (aka the direct link to where you can download the ebook files for free):

I do ask, pretty please with a cherry on top, that you sign up for the mailing list, though. I promise not to sell your info to a pharmaceutical company marketing genetically engineered flying monkeys that are guaranteed to be toilet trained but really aren't. Pinky swear.

All you'll get from me is an occasional newsletter announcing new releases of mine and whatever else worthwhile I have going on (probably not much). So yeah. Download your ebook for free, before it goes on sale at Amazon (not for free), and sign up for the email newsletter if you want.

That's about all for me. I'm about to go into heavy research mode for my new book project, but no spoilers yet.

-Garrett Calcaterra