Monthly Archives: December 2015


Today I am pleased to host my first guest-post ever!

T. Frohock, author of the awesome In Midnight’s Silence and Without Light or Guide, has stopped by to discuss romance and SFF.

And so…


I’ve been lurking around online threads, stealth-reading and not commenting when I see people (men and women) sneering on female authors. We all know what you’re saying: that women put romance in their stories–more so than male authors, because you know, women do things like that.

A lot of women authors don’t bother responding to individual comments on this subject anymore, because trying to stamp out ignorance is like stepping in shit. It just makes a big stink, and in the end, everyone stamps off in a huff, spreading around more shit, which just fertilizes the ignorance.

I watched all of this go down once before when people claimed they could TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STORIES WRITTEN BY A MAN OR A WOMAN. I stamped in that shit until I got tired of it and proposed an experiment. I, along with several talented writers, blew the misconception to hell in a handbasket with the Gender Bending Contest ( For this experiment, we provided samples, ran a contest, and analyzed data, which essentially proved that people can’t tell the difference between male or female writing styles based on the prose alone.

So now I’m seeing similar arguments springing up across the interwebs that intimate women are habitually sticking icky-old-romance in every story that springs from our keyboards. A certain group of readers doesn’t want any kind of romance whatsoever in their novels. They make it perfectly clear that they want characters to be cold killers, who kill, Kill, KILL … and they repeat this mantra until I start to hear Arlo Guthrie in the Shrink’s office, screaming: “Shrink, I want to kill. I want to kill! I want to see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth! Eat dead, burnt bodies! I mean: Kill. Kill!”*

You get the picture.

That wouldn’t bother me, except this same group of people claim that male authors DON’T use romantic elements in their stories. As a matter of fact, male authors are lauded for having “realistic” relationships in their novels.

At this point, I cheerfully call bullshit.

In the Broken Empire series, Jorg spends a good deal of time thinking about Katherine in a very romantic way. At times, he is downright pining for the woman. Meanwhile, in Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption Bedeckt and Stehlen have a thing for each other, which went beyond drunken sex in the alley. Stehlen genuinely cared about Bedeckt, whether she ever admitted it to him or herself.

Or we can cite Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Trilogy and Kvothe’s love for Denna. I mean, good God, even in the most sacred of sacreds, A Song of Fire and Ice, Rob Stark FALLS IN LOVE with Talisa, and ditches a political marriage that could help him win the war, because of TRUE LOVE.

I could name more. To the best of my knowledge, no one classifies these works as “romance,” nor have I heard readers decry the romantic nature of these pairings. When men do it, apparently the relationships are considered to be “realistic” [a word that I am beginning to loathe whenever I see it flung into a sentence in order to justify the way a man writes his story versus the way a woman writes the same kind of story].

The existence of two people who care about one another in a story does not automatically make the novel a romance. In a romance novel, the love affair is the focal point of the story. The entire plot and characterization are developed for the sole purpose of moving two people into a relationship.

I have not read an epic fantasy by either a man or a woman where romance is the focal point of the story. There might be some romantic involvement between the characters, but the entire plot and characterization are NOT developed for the sole purpose of moving two people into a relationship.

Most often in fantasy, the entire plot and characterization of the story are developed around an adventure of some kind. Fantasy is usually about the rise and fall of kingdoms, the slaying of monsters, and bringing myths to life. Therefore the plot and characterization of the story are developed in order to bring down kingdoms, slay monsters, or bring myths to life, and so and so forth.

HOWEVER, the story, which is about bringing down kingdoms, slaying monsters, or bringing myths to life, will also involve characters. These characters will develop relationships of all kinds. Some will hate each other, others will tolerate one another, a few will kill-Kill-KILL, and some will even FALL IN LOVE (see Rob and Talisa Stark).

Just because two people connect emotionally and even … oh-the-horror … have sex, does not make the novel a romance even when a woman writes the story.

Shocking but true.

An excellent example of this is Laura Bickle’s Petra from her Dark Alchemy series. Petra is attracted to Gabe, but their relationship is woven into the greater plot, which is about Petra solving the mystery of her father’s disappearance. Petra is aware of her attraction and the ramifications of being drawn to a dead man, but at no point does Bickle use the plot to move Petra and Gabe into a romantic relationship. It is simply an organic part of the story.

Likewise, in my own Los Nefilim series, Diago and Miquel share tender moments, but their love is not the focal point of the stories. I’m not moving them toward a relationship, they’re already in one. Their feelings for one another often motivate their actions or reactions to the circumstances around them, but the story itself is not about their relationship.

The point is that these relationships are just as “realistic” when there is a woman’s name on the cover of the novel as it is when a man writes the story. If you really hate “romance” in a story, then let’s have a little more parity here.

Start bashing the male authors who write romantic relationships into their works and drop the double-standard.

*Lyrics taken from Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”



T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and numerous short stories. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is from Harper Voyager Impulse.

You can find out more about T. at her website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

IMSMidnight’s Silence



Barnes and Noble




WithoutLight coverWithout Light or Guide



Barnes and Noble



Publicity and a Small Thank-You

First, this is not a list of everyone who has helped out ever. It’s not even a list of everyone who helped me in November. That list would be much, much longer and I’m already feeling stressed about not writing.

The people listed here are the bloggers, reviewers, and writers who helped out in the last month or so (Nov/Dec) with my attempt at increasing the visibility of Beyond Redemption. The list is alphabetical. If I forgot someone it’s because I’m an ungrateful bastard and not because I’m a brain damaged alcoholic cheesey.

Below the list are links to most of the articles, guest-posts, interviews, and reviews that were released in November (and early December) as a result of their efforts.

Adrian Collins and the entire crew at Grimdark Magazine ( Amazing grimdark stories in every issue along with author interviews and book reviews.

Anna Smith-Spark shared a prett sweet list of UK bloggers and reviews, has been awesome, and is currently trying to find a home for a book which will make Beyond Redemption look like puppy kisses and a long walk in the flower garden.

Anthony Ryan ( Having one of your favourite writers blurb your book is the dream of every writer. But then Anthony went on to mention it in various interviews! Thank you!

Bob Milne ( Blogger and SFF reviewer, and a man with excellent taste in books.

Eric Fomely ( Looking for good grimdark/dark fantasy, check out his site.

James Schmidt ( Blogger and SFF reviewer and all round awesome dude.

Jeremy Szal and Tony C. Smith ( Starshipsofa are producing a narrated version of one of my very first short stories for release in the near future. Details to come!

Katrina Sisowath ( A site dedicated to mythologies real and imagined.

Kristopher Kneidecker ( has offered invaluable help in maintaining my site and helped incredibly with building the various wikis I have on the go. I couldn’t do any of this stuff without him.

Leona Henry ( Leona is currently working on her first novel.

Lorina Stephens published my first novel, 88, and has been a never-ending source of guidance and wisdom and all around awesomely supportive.

Marc Turner ( Author of the epic fantasy When the Heavens Fall which I am currently reading.

Matt Staggs ( Matt writes for Suvudu (which I think has something to do with Random House) and loves metal and fantasy and gaming and MMA. He rocks.

Matthew Summers ( One of the first folks to review Beyond Redemption and help spread the word. Check out his site for a plethora of fantastic interviews with all your favourite SFF authors.

Mogsy AKA Steff ( All things gaming and reading. Lot’s of great interviews and reviews.

Peter Fugazzotto ( Author of Five Bloody Heads which is sitting high on my TBR right now.

Rob Bedford ( Rob writes and reviews for SF Signal, an excellent SFF resource.

Rob Matheny and Philip Overby ( These guys run the best grimdark podcast on the planet. Their roster of guests is nothing short of the who’s-who of fantasy fiction.

Sadir Samir ( Reader, writer, game producer, and solid dude.

Teresa Frohock ( Author of the excellent In Midnight’s Silence, a very messed up interpretation of angels and demons.

Timothy Ward ( Author of the excellent Scavenger: Evolution.

Wade Garret ( Author of Genesis (Kingdom Come #1), another book sitting high on mount TBR.

Wendell the Bookwraith ( Wendell reads and reviews more books in a week than I manage in several months.

What follows is a list of the interviews, reviews, guest posts, and miscellaneous thingies (shut up, it’s a word)  that were released in November. This was my best attempt at a publicity push.

November 2: Surviving NaNoWriMo

I used to think Nanowrimo was a town on Canada’s west coast where writers flocked once a year to work on their novels. I still think that’s a great idea.

It seems a little cheeky of me to write about NaNoWriMo when I’ve never actually done it, but on the other hand I did finish a novel (147,000 words) in three months which is a hair off three back-to-back NaNoWriMos. I’m going to pretend that qualifies me to spout advice. Most of this will be coming too late for you this year, but remember it for next year.

Nov 4:  The NaNoWriMo Diet

It’s tempting to let this devolve into a humor piece and talk about my love affair with whiskey and how sometimes, when my brain won’t shut-up and let me sleep, I bludgeon it into submission with liberal doses of Jameson. But no. I’m gonna keep this serious. Well, mostly serious.

My suspicion is that successful writers all have at least a little OCD. Who else would sit for hours on end mashing away at the keyboard with their face? What, you don’t type like that? Weird.

Nov 5: The Cult of the Dead Cat

Teresa Frohock, author of the fantastic In Midnight’s Silence, and Without Light or Guide, talks about Beyond Redemption and American politics.

Nov 9: Facebook Give-Away

A quickie Beyond Redemption give-away on facebook.

Nov 10: Rules of a Responsive Reality – part one

Some background: My dark fantasy novel, Beyond Redemption, takes place in a world where reality is responsive to the whims and desires of humanity. Mass belief—be it shaped by religion, politics, or public opinion—can cause sweeping changes in physical reality. Conversely, a single person, if insane enough to believe the impossible with utter conviction, can also twist reality. What follows is a brief discussion of some aspects of that reality.

Nov 11: Rules of a Responsive Reality – part two

Factors Defining and Limiting the Abilities of Geisteskranken

The insane and responsive reality of Beyond Redemption is nonetheless defined by rules. Geisteskranken, while capable of altering—and to some degree defining local reality—are not gods. There are limits to what they can achieve.
On the other hand, if enough people worship them, they might Ascend to become gods. How lovely is that thought? Who demands worship? Sociopaths! And thus most of your favourite deities are Ascended self-centred arseholes.
The factors below are not quite as simple as they seem. They’re interrelated, each touching upon the others.

Nov 11: Teresa Frohock reviews Beyond Redemption

Fletcher’s characters–Bedeckt with his desire to retire; Wichtig, who is determined to be the Greatest Swordsman in the World; Stehlen, who isn’t exactly as she seems; and Konig, who is racing against his own madness in search of wholeness–are the very thing that redeems Beyond Redemption.

Nov 12: Rules of a Responsive Reality – part three

In this post I’m going to look at the many and varied types of Geisteskranken and give a few examples as to how their powers (delusions) might manifest. What follows is hardly a definitive list; there are as many kinds of Geisteskranken as there are people. There is no reason two people’s Cotardism must manifest in exactly the same way.
All of these delusions are based on real/reported cases of unstable behaviour. That said, I have played with them (and how they manifest) to suit the stories. In some cases I have made use of out-dated psychiatric diagnoses because frankly they are cooler. In most cases I have included a link to the relevant wikipedia page on that delusion. It’s been a while since I put this together, so might see text lifted pretty much verbatim from wikipedia.

Nov 13: Grimdark Review – Interview

Nov 13: Bookwraiths review: Beyond Redemption

Exquisite mayhem and madness, Beyond Redemption is a novel which appears once every few years; a harbinger of things to come that takes the familiar fantasy tropes and twists them into something fresh and original.

Nov 14: Beyond Redemption review: Timothy Ward

“Ingenious insight into the human mind of those who feel the pull of failure and the hopelessness of redemption.”

Nov 15: Q&A with BookWraiths

Nov 17: Santa and Fantasy – Guest post at Leona’s Blog of Shadows:

My five year old daughter recently lost her first tooth. She was very excited at the prospect of a visitation by the Tooth Fairy and asked many intelligent questions. How will the Tooth Fairy get in when the door is locked? Does she come through the window? How big is she? Can she carry the tooth if she’s really small?

My wife—who grew up without Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy—let me field the questions. As I answered I began to question what I was doing.

Nov 17: Rob Bedford at SFWorld Reviews Beyond Redemption

Beyond Redemption might be the grimdarkiest grimdark novel to ever grimdark.”


Nov 18: MIND MELD: Our Favorite Animal Companions in SFF

I tend not to pay a lot of attention to pets and animal companions in fiction. I suppose my issue with them is that all too often they are simply a plot device. As soon as you see that the protagonist has an animal companion you know at some point it’ll get hurt or killed and that’ll be the emotional pivot driving the character to do something.

That said, Pip the minidrag from Alan Dean Foster’s “Humanx Commonwealth” books is easily my favourite ‘animal’ companion. She was a character in her own right, not just a crutch for the author.


This will ramble because that’s the way I roll. I can’t plan breakfast, never mind a blog post or a novel.

I have come to realize that I spend a lot more time thinking about themes than I do plot. I know what my next book’s themes are long before I know what horrendous shit happens to the characters. Take Beyond Redemption for example. I had the title before I’d written the first word.

I wanted to write a book where no one learned anything. The novel starts with a host of shitty human beings and at the end of the book I wanted the few survivors to remain shitty. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but I stayed true to that vision. This grew out of a suspicion that people are basically too stupid to learn or change. What can I say, I was in a bit of a dark place. If I wrote the book today it would be different. For one thing, I’ve managed to learn a few things myself—who I am and how I interact with people has changed in the last year.

And if I can change, anyone can.

Nov 18: Grimdark Magazine hosts a Give-Away for Beyond Redemption and 88

The Grimdark Magazine crew have been absolutely amazing.

Nov 19: Smash Dragons Interviews my Doppel, Rage

Feeling somewhat burned out by all the guest posts and interviews, I allowed one of my Doppels out of the basement to handle this interview.

Nov 21: The Mythology of Beyond Redemption

Nov 24:  Writing Crazy – A Guest Post

Today I’m pleased to present a guest post from the one and only Michael R. Fletcher, author of Beyond Redemption and also Grandmaster of the Insane! *whispers* Trust me, folks, he knows what he’s talking about. Don’t believe me? Just get a load of his crazy post! And also don’t forget to check out his book, which is bar none the best grimdark fantasy novel I’ve read this year, out now from Harper Voyager.

Nov 25: Music and Writing – Guest Post

I am at war with reality. And if you’ve read Beyond Redemption, this will make some sense.”

Michael R. Fletcher Guest Post!

Nov 27:  Pants or No Pants

Matt Staggs collected a few quotes from the AMA I did at r/Fantasy and put them together into a post that makes more sense than I usually do.

Nov 27: Getting to “The End.” Standalone Fantasy Books That Came Out in 2015

Nov 29: Lightning Round Guest Post with Michael R. Fletcher

Philip Overby (of the Grim Tidings Podcast) and I play a mad word-association game.

Lightning Round Guest Post with Michael R. Fletcher

Dec 2: Reseña: Beyond Redemption de Michael R. Fletcher

A review of Beyond Redemption…in Spanish!

Dec 3: Best of 2015: A 5-Star Year in the Ruins

Bob Mile at Beauty-in-Ruins picks his favourite n=books of 2015.

“This is dark, grim, and gritty stuff, with a wild imagination that is just as often manifested in moments of bleak, black humor.”

Dec 5: The Speculative Herald’s Best of 2015

Beyond Redemption takes the #6 spot!

Dec 8: Favorite New Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite New Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

Dec 9: Smash Dragons Best of 2015

Beyond Redemption takes the #2 spot!

“Truly the best fantasy début I’ve read in the last decade, and the new standard-bearer for the Grimdark movement.”