Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category


Stan Sakai Interviews Usagi…Or Does He?

February 22, 2011

The interview’s conclusion can be found here at Dark Horse’s official site.

I thought this was a lot of fun and wanted to be sure to share it with you guys.

Ah, and while I’m here, please pick up the latest issue or trade-paperback of Usagi Yojimbo. I’d pick it up for you if I could, it’s that good!


An Interview with Peter S. Beagle

January 19, 2011

CBR has a great interview with Peter S. Beagle about his critically acclaimed novel The Last Unicorn, the upcoming Blu-Ray release of the classic animated feature of the same name, his breadth of short stories and upcoming projects:

More than being one of the most beloved and critically praised fantasy novels in recent decades, “The Last Unicorn” was also adapted into a wildly popular animated film in 1982 and has since been released in a restored Blu-ray edition. Most recently, the novel was adapted into a comic book miniseries from IDW Publishing. Beagle spoke with CBR about the project, taking a look back and forward at his long and storied career.

The full article can be found here and proved to be a very interesting read. I wholeheartedly recommend that fans of The Last Unicorn, or those simply looking for a great fantasy writer to follow, that they track down Beagle’s other works as well as he’s, ahem, definitely no one trick pony. Come Lady Death, which he cites in the article, is one of my favorite short stories in fact and given how prolific he’s been as a writer I’ve no doubt you’ll discover any number of gems that you’ll be proud to have in your collection. I know I have and that I continue to look forward to more.


On J.R.R. Tolkien’s Birthday…

January 3, 2011

A hearty “thank you” for all the memories, and for a life full of devotion, wit, and fantastic imagination on his 119th birthday.

I don’t drink myself, but I’d happily raise a tall glass of milk for this grandfather of fantasy today!

Tolkien Wisdom: “I do not love the bright sword for it’s sharpness, nor the arrow for it’s swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”


The Way of Kings (Audio Reminder)

October 27, 2010

Like so many other Brandon Sanderson fans, I pre-ordered The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive in tome form, and was extremely impressed with the production values that went into the hardcover (though how my shelves will hold the weight of this hefty multi-volume series is beyond me) but with Michael Kramer and Kate Reading (of Wheel of Time fame) providing voice work  for Macmillan’s audio version of the series I couldn’t help but purchase it in audio as well to experience what they bring to the table.

Eleven chapters into the audio book and I think these two fine voice actors have manged to get even better since my last outing with them in the Wheel of Time series, they’ve really managed to bring the characters to life with their incredible ranges, and it’s been a joy all this week to get in the car and listen for an hour or two each day on my drive to and from work (it’s also been a great way to get my mind off of this week’s mid-terms, if for a little while).

If you’re interested in experiencing the book this way, remember that has the book for only 1 credit (a book of this length usually costing 2) until October 31st. Happy Halloween!


Douglas Clegg’s Neverland On Shelves Today

April 13, 2010

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the good people in the public relations behind New York Time’s Best Selling Author Douglas Clegg’s newest novel Neverland, at both Wunderkind and Vanguard Press, who were kind enough to send me an advanced reading copy (unfortunately I just received it this past week and haven’t had the opportunity to peruse the contents just yet) of the book. And while I’ve had my face planted firmly in the other wonderful novel that they sent, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven, I did have the opportunity of inspecting the book and I’ve got to tell you that it feels great in your hand, that they’ve paid great attention to detail with a striking cover, and old-fashioned pages that make it feel as if you hold a classic in your hand.

And maybe it is, if the praise propelling the momentum of the award winning author and his newest work is an indication:

Neverland is a masterpiece of dark suspense that will forever haunt your dreams.”

— Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling author

“Clegg (The Vampyricon) crafts a haunting story redolent with the influence of Arthur Machen, H.P. Lovecraft, and other classic horror writers. His credible rendering of the internal lives of children and their imaginations give this flight of dark fancy a firm and frightening foothold in reality.”Publishers Weekly

“Douglas Clegg . . . could have hung out with Robert R. McCammon, Bentley Little and Stephen King. These are guys who know America, and know how to literally scare up the best and worst aspects of the American character and slap them into a ripping yarn full of monsters, terror and enough action to keep the pages turning late into the night.”

— Rick Kleffel, book commentator for NPR

Says Clegg himself on writing NEVERLAND:

“This novel, my favorite of anything I’ve written, is about absolute innocence embracing the wildness—and darkness—of the imagination. I was able to explore the destructive nature of family secrets, and how children sometimes create rituals of power as an escape from the world their parents have made.”

But imaginative games are not always innocent . . . and when Beau travels to the Retreat, his grandmother’s forbidding home on Gull Island off the Georgia coast line, resigned to a boring family vacation, he finds that his cousin, Sumter, has other plans.

Sumter has found a run-down shack hidden in the woods, a place “where you ain’t supposed to go,” a place forbidden to them that smells of socks, dead sea creatures—and dread; Sumter christens it Neverland.

Fascinated and terrified by Neverland but thrilled to have made a secret life for themselves in a shack full of old Playboys, smuggled beers, and forbidden words, Sumter and his cousins create a hallucinatory world of dark fantasy, a world ruled by a god of shadows, who Sumter calls “Lucy.”

But the shack is the key to a terrible secret, and the world the children create away from their parents, bound to each other by blood oaths, is anything but innocent. As tensions build at the Retreat and the adults start on their gin and tonics earlier each day, Sumter’s games begin to invoke a nightmarish presence that cannot be contained within the bounds of imagination any longer . . .

The excitement that the publishers have for this book is palpable and the buzz its been receiving is infectious, so I’m really looking forward to tearing into that first chapter to see why its putting such a smile on so many faces. If you’ve got a moment or two, please enjoy the trailer above and then jump on over to Douglas Clegg’s official site for the chance to enter and win a grand prize of an Amazon Kindle, or B&N Nook. You can also read a special excerpt of the novel, and conveniently purchase the book while you’re there.  And I’ve got to say, if you value the people behind the scenes who ultimately get these books in your hands, consider giving this one a shot because they’re going above and beyond to support something they feel is really special. It’s evident in their enthusiasm to share it.

Anyhow, I’ll have more to share of my own about my experiences with Neverland in a future post.


Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn & Ravens

January 19, 2010

Who knew that Peter S. Beagle’s first novel, A Fine and Private Place had much to do with ravens? Well, I didn’t at least, and so I’ll have to busy myself reading it (a story Beagle penned at  age 19 no less) now that I’ve managed to track down a copy of his fantasy collection, The Fantasy Worlds of Peter Beagle, which also features one of my favorite childhood tales, The Last Unicorn. In addition, the collection also features the short stories Come, Lady Death and Lila, The Werewolf, both of which sound great.

But all of these will have to wait until I can tear through The Last Unicorn, as well as his 2005 novelette, Two Hearts, where Beagle once again returns to the world of the Last Unicorn as well as one or two of its principle characters. Also of interest to fans, IDW will be adapting TLU in comic form beginning this April, so keep an eye out for that in the months to come.


Storytelling in Six Words You Say?

October 26, 2009


Wired recently recounted that Ernest Hemingway once penned a story a mere six words long, which went: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” According to the article Hemingway considered it his “best work.”

Well, Wired challenged some top flight talent to come up with their own and I thought that was a lot of fun and that you might enjoy a few of them. From Wired:

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
Joss Whedon

Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
Alan Moore

Easy. Just touch the match to
Ursula K. Le Guin

Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
Eileen Gunn

And now my own humble attempt…

; )


“Finished A Jon Snow Chapter…”

October 7, 2009

Dance With Dragons_C1Those were encouraging words to read by George R.R. Martin, author of the highly (highly, highly) anticipated novel A Dance With Dragons. And not necessarily because there’s some real progress being made on the book (for me, it’s simply done when it’s done and I’ve plenty on my plate to enjoy until that day) but because Jon Snow has become my favorite character in the series and I’m not quite as caught up as others as of yet so I’m encouraged to learn that Jon is…well…and that there’s so much more yet to come. This is A Song of Ice and Fire after all, so perhaps you can understand my fears as I progress.

Anyhow, here’s the rest of what GRRM had to say about his work on the latest installment:

Finished a Jon Snow chapter, and have just passed the 1100 page (manuscript pages, the page count in the final printed book will be different) mark on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. That’s counting only finished chapters in something close to final form. I have considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs. Even with just the finished portions, DANCE is now longer than A FEAST FOR CROWS and A GAME OF THRONES, and I’m closing in on A CLASH OF KINGS. I do hope I can wrap things up before I approach the 1521 page length of A STORM OF SWORDS. Making a new run at the Meereenese knot, but maybe not tomorrow. I think I’ll hang around at the Wall a bit longer, and maybe visit Winterfell.


Reading ‘Atlus Shrugged’

July 21, 2009

atlas shruggedI’ve been itching to read Ayn Rand’s Atlus Shrugged for years now, but I’ve never quite had the time to sit back and digest this mammoth of a novel, so I figure that instead of waiting for the perfect opening that I had just better get started and see how things unfold. And without being too political it also appears as if this might be just what the doctor ordered as we enter an era where socialized programs and increasing  government involvement and control throughout the public and private sectors seem the destructive order of the day (as I approach it anyhow). I’m a good 3-4 days worth into the ride and while it’s shaping up nicely it’s going to be an awful lengthy ride, devouring that brick of a book, so I also plan to tackle a more fantasy themed offering simultaneously if I can manage it.

I’ve been itching to dive into Brandon Anderson’s Elantris (beyond the first dozen pages) sooner rather than later but I also kindly received a review copy of Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, The First Law Book One which I’ve heard nothing but great things about, so I may try to see what lies in store there first. I also have Carol Berg’s Song of the Beast, Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice, and Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, Malazan Book of the Fallen to get back to (I got a little lost in the story there for a season so I’m in the midst of re-reading and getting myself caught up again).


‘My Father’s Swords’ by Stan Sakai

July 15, 2009

uybook13cAfter mulling over the possibility for a couple of weeks, I decided that if you’d be so kind to indulge me, it might be a lot of fun to highlight and/or review select graphic novels here at Follow That Raven from time to time. I don’t plan on turning the blog into a comic-centric one by any means but there are indeed works of graphic fiction that more than deserve the consideration of not only a diverse reading audience, but those that profess to simply love good literature. That said, I’ll try my best to restrict myself to great independent works such as Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, Kazu Kibuishi’s Flight anthologies, Mike Allred’s Madman, Jeff Smith’s Bone etc. as not only are these personal favorites that I believe should get all the attention they can, but because they also represent some of the best stories being published today. I hope you’ll pick them up.

For your consideration then: My Father’s Swords, a stand alone story in Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 13 – Grey Shadows TPB collection by Stan Sakai.

First, for those that are perhaps unaware, Usagi Yojimbo is the story of a masterless samurai named Miyamoto Usagi who travels a sixteenth century Japan trying to apply bushido, or “the way of the warrior” as best he can, often lending his good heart and expert blade to the poor, downtrodden, haunted and the afflicted. Oh, and he’s also a rabbit — which is awesome. Our long-eared friend is actually enjoying his 25th anniversary this year so there’s never been a better time to see what’s made him such an endearing character for as long.

Anyhow, one of the great things about Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo stories is that he’s able to hit you right smack in the gut when you least expect it, but in the most natural of manners. Take, for example, this short story in which, on his travels, Usagi runs into a young samurai named Donbori Chiaki. Recognizing Chiaki’s unique sword technique as he observes a (non-lethal) duel he congratulates the boy on his sound victory, and upon uy3cov23learning his name reminisces that he had known and admired his father Donbori Matsuo while they served together under lord Mifune’s banner, before he died at the Battle of Adachi Plain years prior. Over the course of the story the two talk of the inspiration Matsuo has been for the boy and even see that illustrated when Chiaki defends a crippled man from a drunk samurai before leaving the city.  As they part on their respective journey’s Usagi wishes him the best as he inwardly praises the boy’s commitment to the memory of his father in the way he lives his life. But ‘lo, off in the distance Usagi spots a group of brigands laying in wait for Chiaki and his purse strings, and unable to reach him in time to lend a hand Chiaki is left to fight the band himself, that is until the same crippled man who he had rescued earlier leaps to his aid… Well, I won’t spoil what happens for you but rest assured that it isn’t your typical ending and that it may just pull at your heartstrings more than a little.

Stan is an expert of visually crafting his scenes, be it a peaceful walk as Usagi strides through a forest where a mushroom takes center stage on an old tree, or an action-packed battle scene where the reader cheers the ronin on through seemingly overwhelming odds, Stan pulls you into the world he has created and once he has successfully done so it isn’t a place you want to leave any time soon. Stan’s artistic style can be described as “cartoony” in the same sense that, say, Carl Barks is “cartoony” but like that comics legend he grabs hold of your visual senses and nearly forces you to see the wisdom and skill in the approach. Yes, these are indeed “funny animals” but at the same time…not so much. Likewise, the black and white artwork perfectly captures his steady line work, slick use of blacks, and all the intricate detail.

Rounding out this splendid volume are several other stories including: The Demon Flute, Momo-Usagi-Taro, The Hairpin Murders, The Courtesan, and Tameshigiri. All excellent (and it was a real treat to see Usagi, kinda take the center role in the famous Japanese folk tale of the Peach Boy in Momo-Usagi-Taro). Perhaps more on these later, but please do yourself a real favor and check this out for yourself.