Archive for October, 2012

Meet Matt Forbeck

October 25, 2012 - 2:25 pm No Comments

Matt Forbeck took time out from his busy writing schedule to talk to me about his career.

TD: Hi Matt, how about a short intro/bio about you?

MF: Hi, My name’s Matt Forbeck, and I’ve been a full-time author and game designer for the past 23 years. I’ve had countless games and twenty (countable) novels published to date, including books based on Dungeons & Dragons, Guild Wars, and Leverage. I also write the Magic: The Gathering comics for IDW. I’ve won bunches of awards for my work, but I don’t much worry about those. I’m always more excited about my next projects than my last ones.

I live in Wisconsin with my wife and our five kids, including a set of quadruplets. Life is an adventure.

TD: So, tell me about Monster Academy

Monster Academy is a trilogy of young adult fantasy novels set in a kingdom in which good has triumphed over the Great Evil but is still dealing with all sorts of little evils. Case in point, the kingdom has all sorts of young monsters running about that haven’t hurt anyone — yet. Since it’s wrong to harm the innocent, the good king sets up a reform school for them, a place charged with habilitating the monsters so that they can become valuable members of society.

If the kids fail, of course, they face banishment or even execution. They start out with the world stacked against them, and it’s up to them to figure out a way to not only survive but thrive in this kingdom that doesn’t want them around. You can find out more about it on the page for the Kickstarter drive I’m running for it right now.

TD: Rumour has it you plan to write a book a month over the next year. Is this true? If so, how will you balance it all?

It’s a bit insane, but I think I have it figured out. I set up a challenge for myself called 12 for ’12, and with that I’m trying to write a dozen short (50,000-word) novels this year. To help fund them, I broke them up into trilogies that I’ve been running on Kickstarter (a creators crowdfunding website), one at a time. So far, three of them have been huge successes.

We have a few days left in the final drive right now. It ends on Sunday, September 16.

As to how I manage it, I outline the books beforehand, which frees me up to write fast. My outlines are loose, but they give me a map to where I want to go. I regularly write about 5,000 words a day, and I can often top that when I have some momentum.

TD: Carpathia tackled the Titanic historical incident with a horror/comedy slant. Any plans to tackle other historic events?

I love history — it’s such a rich source of ideas — so I have little doubt I’ll return to it again. I don’t know if that will be for a sequel to Carpathia or for an all-new tale, but it’ll happen.

TD: A little birdie tells me you started off in role playing games. Can you tell us about this?

I made my living as a tabletop roleplaying game designer for many years. I wrote books for most of the games publishers in the ’90s, and I even co-founded Pinnacle Entertainment Group and served as its president for its first four years. It’s a great deal of fun, but sadly RPGs don’t have a huge audience, which makes feeding a family of seven with them a real challenge.

That said, I still do a little bit of game design every year. I love it too much to ever abandon it, although I make most of my living from novels, comics, and computer game writing these days. The 12 for ’12 challenge has taken up most of my time this year, of course, and I’ve had a wonderful time with those.

The third 12 for ’12 trilogy was called Dangerous Games, and it’s a trio of thrillers set at Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in the USA. This crosses a few of my passions into the story, and I’m looking forward to setting to work on those soon.

Take care,

Matt Forbeck

A Beast in Spring

October 21, 2012 - 3:24 pm No Comments

A Beast in Spring
Author: Eric Dimbleby
Publisher: Graveside Tales
Page count/size: Kindle 505 KB
Release Date: 4th June 2012
Reviewer: Phil Andorra
I was not looking forward to reading this book. Without wanting to sound prudish, the pain and suffering of children does not really appeal to me. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was bad enough. The poor kid in the gas chamber at the end, I couldn’t watch the film version. Similarly I found the Shack hard to take. The bloodstained little girls dress. Pitiful. Both stories tell of a shocking end for two young children but the reader is left to imagine their fear, emotions and pain without describing in vivid detail their deaths. In the author’s note at the beginning of A Beast in Spring, Eric Dimbleby offers an apology for what is about to follow. He warns the reader his first draft was ‘brutal and mindless’. He is not wrong.
This is the story of two brothers who collect 18 newborn babies to raise on their secluded farm. Constantly faced with a threat from a ‘Beast in the Woods’, the boys are brought up to compete and grow strong. In true Darwinian tradition, only the fittest survive. Even from the start while still cot bound, they are starved until one succumbs. The trials facing the boys only grow worse.
This is clearly not a book for everyone and personally I found it uncomfortable. However, if that is your bag – go for it.


October 20, 2012 - 3:16 pm No Comments

Author: Tim Lebbon
Publisher: Hammer
Page count/size: 632pp
Release Date: 11th Oct 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

In the Appalachian mountain deep beneath the earth is a subterranean facility called Coldbrook, after its founder Bill Coldbrook, scientist and inventor. Bill is now dead, having committed suicide, so the facility is now run by Jonah Jones aged 76 years, sleep deprived and haunted by nightmares of a plague ridden burning world. And within Coldbrook is the breach, a gateway to another Earth, another universe, where strange creatures exist, and those living creatures who attempt to enter Bill’s version of earth are immediately killed with Holly’s device, the eradicator.
Celebrating the discovery of the breach with his colleague Bill, Vic Pearson seems assured of their place in the history books. All experiments are progressing well, that is until the shambling humanoid creature which comes through the breach isn’t stopped after three attempts at the eradicator. Holly assumes the creature is human, but there is something so very wrong with that assessment, which she realises as the thing attacks a fellow scientist with claws and teeth. Coldbrook is thrown into lockdown, but not before Vic can escape through a duct to try and be with his family, and not before Holly runs to the alternate earth to escape the monster, and not before . . . something, escapes the facility.
The other side of the breach, as seen through Holly’s eyes, is extraordinary, as is one of the ‘locals’ she meets.
In this z-poc thriller, Lebbon brings something new and original to the genre with his alternate universes and the breakdown of society he explores as the world is devoured in disease and decay. This is an apocalypse on a grand scale, reminiscent of King’s The Stand or The Mist, brutal, gruesome and an honest portrayal of the reactions of humanity in the midst of death and destruction.
Events are initially relayed through radio broadcasts, which add realism and an extra dimension to the novel. We often see the disaster striking a variety of places across the world and this makes the book a groundbreaking piece of work, and most certainly an original take on this well harvested genre.
The apocalyptic visions and survivors fights are vicious and gripping. Though a little long, it is still well paced and incredibly visual, reminding me of an epic mini-series. Despite the feel of it being ‘epic’ Lebbon still creates vivid characters through an ensemble ‘cast’, which breathes life and individuality into the book. In fact, as mentioned earlier, through its brutal imagery, plot construction and strong characterisation, I felt as though I were almost reading a middle period Stephen King book, if it were not for Lebbon’s distinctive authorial voice.
A truly breathtaking horror fantasy that had me reading into the wee hours of the morning in order to reach the end. Well done Mr Lebbon.

Andy Remic’s new series

October 19, 2012 - 11:43 am No Comments


Angry Robot is reeling with the news that maniac fantasy author Andy Remic is returning with a brand new series.

See attached press release for this news bulletin.

Detachment – David Moody Blog

October 13, 2012 - 2:52 pm 1 Comment

To get you in the mood for Hallloween, I have a guest blog from successful horror author David Moody, who talks about . . .
David Moody
How many times have you been watching a movie or reading a book and you’ve found yourself screaming at the characters to not go down a particular dark hallway, or to stay away from a certain locked room? We curse these mindless idiots who stumble around in the dark for our entertainment, almost applauding when they get their inevitable comeuppance. Countless whole franchises are built on the premise that stupid people will be killed. Without these morons there would be no chainsaw massacres in Texas, no nightmares on Elm Street, and Friday 13th would be just like any other Friday down at Camp Crystal Lake.
But you know what? I think maybe we should go a bit easier on these gullible victims, and here’s why: there’s an enormous difference between doing and watching. In the heat of the moment, if it was you with your back to the wall, maybe you’d make the same fatal decisions they do. We’re watching from a distance. We have the benefit of detachment.
Have you ever been caving? Spelunking, some folks call it. I used to love it, back in the days when I had a). spare time and b). no responsibilities. I’d think nothing of suiting up and disappearing down into a hole in the ground with a load of mates for endless hours of crawling, squeezing and climbing through the cool darkness and eerie subterranean silence.
It was only when I got home and thought about what we’d been doing, that I realised how dangerous it could have been, and it was only then – post-event – that the nerves set in.
I remember a particular occasion – I was in the middle of a party of ten or so, and we had to get through a low tunnel to get any further forward. And by low, I mean low, as in crawling on your belly to get through. And did I mention the stream? Picture the scene… (I’m six foot tall and weigh about fifteen stone, by the way): ten similar-sized blokes, facedown, crawling over rock and mud through a passage no more than a metre wide, filled with running ice-cold water, and with just a few centimetres clearance above our heads. You had no choice – once you’d started to crawl, you had to keep going. There was no way of turning back, even if you wanted to – no space to turn around, and people directly behind and in front. I can still vividly remember the frequent banging of my safety helmet on the low rock ceiling above me, and the way my battery pack would often snag and stop me moving forward. I remember the lack of light – only being able to see the soles of the boots of the guy in front of me and a little of the surrounding area, often having to keep my head down because there wasn’t even enough room to look up. I remember the discomfort at the cavern’s lowest points, when the water and low ceiling combined to leave just enough room to keep breathing and drag myself through…
At the time, it was an adrenalin rush, and getting through and out the other side was an enormous buzz. But it was only afterwards that I started to question what the hell we’d just done. I remember getting home and having nightmares about that cave. Even now, many years later, writing about it has made me feel really uneasy because, with the benefit of hindsight, I’m thinking ‘what if?’ What if I’d got stuck? What if someone else had got stuck? What if we’d all been trapped down there? Can you imagine the horror – wedged underground, lamp batteries fading, claustrophobia building, numb with cold, bodies cramped, unable to even stand up… It really doesn’t bare thinking about, and maybe that’s why your mind keeps such thoughts at bay when you’re actually in danger. Dwell on the risks and you’ll start to panic. Start to panic and you’re probably screwed.
Like I said earlier, when we’re watching a movie or reading a book, we have the benefit of detachment. We’re separated from the action and, to an extent, the real emotion. So maybe we should give the protagonists of the horror stories we love a break? They’re running on nervous energy – fight or flight, sink or swim. Mark my words, they’ll feel it later when they stop and look back at what they’ve been through. That’s if they survive, of course!