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Peternelle van Arsdale


Paula Stokes


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Peternelle van Arsdale Author Interview

Photo Content from Elena Seibert

Peternelle van Arsdale grew up in Newark, New Jersey, where she attended public school through the eighth grade. After that she attended three high schools in three different towns in four years, was deeply unpopular, and counted the seconds until graduation. She majored in English literature at Bryn Mawr College, and then landed in book publishing, thinking it was a good way to be paid to do what she liked to do anyway (she was only partly wrong). She worked her way up from editorial assistant to executive editor of adult fiction and nonfiction, and eventually struck out on her own as an independent editor.

Her first young adult novel, The Beast Is an Animal, is being developed by Amazon Studios for a feature film produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free and directed by Bert & Bertie. Her essays have been published by LitHub,, and Culturefly, and her short fiction has been published by The Whitefish Review.

Her second novel, The Cold is in Her Bones , will be published in January 2019. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she continues to edit and is at work on her third novel.


What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I was inspired by the classic fairy tales, especially my favorites recorded by the Brothers Grimm. I’ve always been fascinated by the especially dark and morally ambiguous ones such as “Rumpelstiltskin.” When I wrote my first novel it felt really natural to me to go back to that rich trove and create my own morally ambiguous fairy tale.

Tell us your latest news.

My second novel, THE COLD IS IN HER BONES, which is very loosely inspired by the Medusa myth, is coming out in January of 2019. I’m very excited about it.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
In addition to fairy tales and myths, I’m certainly influenced by everything I read and see—from books to artwork to forests. I try to create the transportive feeling in my writing that I seek in other experiences. I would love to write a novel as thoroughly engrossing and satisfying and artistically gorgeous as THE GOLDEN COMPASS (Philip Pullman) or THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Margaret Atwood). I’d also love to write a novel that makes the reader feel the way I do when I walk through a mossy forest. I hope I do a little of both in THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I’d love it if readers could really settle into the novel’s gray areas. I love it when I hear that a reader was surprised by a particular character and how their feelings toward that character changed over the course of the novel.

Did you learn anything from writing THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL and what was it?
I learned how to write a novel! It truly was a massive learning experience. While I was a book editor for decades prior to writing THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL, no amount of editing can really prepare you for what it’s like to construct a novel. I refer to BEAST as my amoeba. I didn’t so much construct it as it…grew. And it ended up being an organism that I love very much but I couldn’t possibly have imagined at the start.

What part of Alys did you enjoy writing the most?
Alys is a character very close to my heart and what draws me to her and to all my protagonists is their willingness to engage with their weaknesses and not just their strengths. Her determination to seek out her dark places and figure them out. I think she’s very brave.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Oh! What an interesting question. I would love to introduce Mother from THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL to Mary, the scientist who befriends Lyra and Will in the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy by Philp Pullman. I think those two curious-minded women would have a lot to talk about.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would have to say Margaret Atwood, for sheer imaginative and artistic brilliance. I’ve never met her and never expect to, but I love that she exists in the world.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about what or who you truly love.

Last thing you made with your own hands?
I’m knitting a blanket—not finished yet. Last thing I finished was a painting for my son. He does gorgeous nature photography and I like turning his pictures into paintings.

What are you most passionate about today?
I’m in the early stages of working on my third novel and I’m really excited to see where it takes me.

What is your favorite restaurant in town and why?
Hm. I’m not a big restaurant goer. I eat at home mostly. If I could slightly bend the rules I’d say my favorite thing to do to feed myself is to go to the Prospect Park Greenmarket, which is right near my home, and then make whatever I find there. Especially in the summer, really all I need to be happy is a pile of lovely lettuce. I know, I sound like a rabbit. But there’s nothing like fresh-picked lettuce with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. And an avocado. And toast. I love toast.

Can you define love in your own way?
Love is vulnerability. And vulnerability is scary and honest and risky and beautiful.

What was your favorite childhood television program?
Ha! The first thing that comes to mind is this old scary black & white B-movie series called “Chiller Theater.” This was back when there was no cable and you just watched whatever was on TV. From a very, very tender age I loved those dusty old horror movies, and I really loved the opening credits prior to the movie coming on—it was this Claymation corpse-hand coming out of a grave. This reminds me, I have to do a YouTube search and see if I can find it.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?

Oof. My mind is always working, for better and worse. It’s hard for me to quiet it. That’s why it’s good for me to read fiction right before bed, and ideally I’m thinking about the last thing I read.

Where can readers find you?
Subscribe to my newsletter via my website (! I’m active on Instagram (@peternellevanarsdale), and I’m also reachable on Twitter (@peternelleva) and Facebook ( 


  • You love to be immersed. 
  • You love to be a little creeped out. 
  • You love to be surprised. 
  • You love a strong female protagonist. 
  • You love dark fairy tales. 
  • You love deep, thick forests and are curious about what lurks in them. 
  • You don’t want a retold fairy tale, you want something you’ve never read before. 
  • You like timeless stories that will still feel relevant ten years from now. 
  • You like a little romance. 
  • You’re a feminist and want to read novels that reflect those values.

A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.


"A dark atmospheric fantasy debut...achingly poetic." Kirkus Reviews

"A swift and compelling read that will be popular with fantasy and retold–fairy tale readers." 

Rock-solid setting and a Salem witch trial–like culture ground readers in this slow-moving but psychologically intense fantasy.... Van Arsdale sets up her dominoes so that when the first is finally knocked over, subsequent events cascade the story forward in a rush of energy through to the final showdown. 
Horn Book

The opening chapter, detailing the origin of the sister soul eaters, sets the disturbingly eerie tone of the book, and the atmosphere becomes oppressive in its darkness as the years move on and Alys’ inevitable meeting with the soul eaters come closer.... The detached narration and prolonged timeline makes this a slow burn story with a slightly folklike feel, and the few pages from the sisters’ perspective ratchet up the suspense to an almost unbearable level. The unsettling actions of the Puritan-like Defaiders and the chilling legend around the Beast combine to create a truly horrifying tale of revenge, murder, and evil. 

Atmospheric and immersive, van Arsdale’s eerie fantasy keeps its focus on Alys’s struggle to reconcile who she is with what she wants to be as it builds toward a poignant and satisfying conclusion. 
Publishers Weekly

"The book reads like a historical fairy tale set in Puritan America. The mix of magic, folklore, and human struggle will appeal to a variety of readers. It explores the nuance of humanity, while also being about the things that go bump in the night." 
School Library Connection

You can purchase The Beast Is an Animal at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you PETERNELLE VAN ARSDALE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale. 

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

S.K. Dunstall Author Interview

Photo Credit: Andrew Kopp ©2015

S.K. Dunstall is the pen name for Sherylyn and Karen Dunstall, sisters who have been telling stories—and sharing them with each other—all their lives. Around five years ago, they realized the stories they worked on together were much better than the stories they worked on alone. A co-writing partnership was born. They are the the national bestselling author of the Linesman series, including Linesman, Alliance, and Confluence. Find out more online at

Where were you born and where do you call home?
We were both born in a little town in North East Victoria, Australia. Just down from the bottom of the mountains. You’d think as a result, that we’d like cold weather. We don’t.

We’re still in Victoria, but nowadays we both live in Melbourne, the capital. The weather’s better here, and it’s changeable. We have a saying in Melbourne, “If you don’t like our weather, wait five minutes.”

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Write. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. Write what you want to write, because when writing stops being fun it’s not worth doing. Finish your stuff. Then learn how to edit.

If you can, develop a thick skin so far as your writing is concerned. Because eventually it has to go out to other people, and you need to take their feedback.

What were your inspirations for the character development?
For Nika and Josune? That’s hard. We’d have to say they both evolved organically. Nika came from the idea of body modding—a perfectionist, and artist, someone who’s into her work. Once Alejandro arrived, also from people we knew who’d been in similar situations.

Josune just turned up and took over.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
Not really. We always wanted to write for publication, although we didn’t always pursue it because life got in the way. If you’re looking for actual events it would probably be when we signed with our agent. It made us feel as if we were on our way.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing STARS UNCHARTED?
When we introduced Josune. The story started to feel as if it was coming together then.

Are there authors that you’re excited to engage/work with?
We don’t have a lot of contact with other authors outside of conferences and social media, so we’ll talk about some of the writers that have influenced us over our writing.

Diana Wynne Jones would have to be the all-time favorite for both of us. She was an amazing writer.

Ilona Andrews—they can write, but they also engage their readers amazingly. And though we only meet them at conferences and on social media, the whole Australian writing community is generous and supportive.

What part of Nika did you enjoy writing the most?
All of it. Nika was satisfying to write because she wasn’t perfect. She had her faults, but she was also a strong woman who ended up in a really deep hole with Alejandro (and later, Wickmore) and didn’t know how to dig herself out of it. Yet despite that, she remained strong.

Trying to keep her in character was difficult. This is a woman who was obsessed from an early age. She wanted to be the best at something she loved, and all she wanted to do was to make people feel better about themselves and turn out pieces of art. Later, even though she didn’t realize it, when she was kept isolated by Alejandro and Wickmore, it was all she had.

The bits we laughed aloud to, however, and read out to each other, were her interactions with Snow.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
A single book. Hmm. That depends on our mood. Today, Sherylyn would recommend Anne Bishop’s The Others series, Karen would go for Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Josune and Hammond?
The surprise was probably Josune herself. She wasn’t in the first few drafts. Wasn’t there until the last draft before we sent it to our agent. She turned up, settled in, and took over her part of the book. We sat back and let her tell her story.

As for their relationship, (mild spoiler coming, don’t read the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to know), we don’t generally plan relationships. They happen or they don’t, and if we’d chosen to make a relationship, it would have been Nika and Roystan. This time Josune was, “No, I like Hammond. And look, he likes me, too. See,” and we authors go, “Oh. Okay. If that’s the way it is, that’s the way it is.”

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
There’s a follow-up book to Stars Uncharted, tentatively titled Stars Beyond. That’s with our editor now. It’s due out September 2019.

Outside of that, nothing concrete. We’re playing with a couple of ideas. Two stories in the Linesman universe but not about Ean Lambert, and another standalone space opera. We’ve given ourselves a few more weeks to play, before we get back to our agent with proposals.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sherylyn wanted to be a librarian, Karen wanted to be a scientist. Needless to say, we’re not either.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
For both of us, it was probably Sherylyn getting retrenched.

Before that, she worked stupid hours—8:00am to 9:00pm five days a week and brought work home and did it on the weekends. She lived to work.

Now, she works three days a week, leaves mostly within half an hour of finishing time, and actually has a life outside work. She volunteers, she gets time to paint, time to write, she’s even taken up uni to finish her degree. She has a life now.

For Karen, it was the fact that when Sherylyn retrenched, she received enough of a package to pay two years’ house payments in advance. We’d just bought a house together, and being two years in front freed us from the worry of how we were going to pay for it.

That sort of financial freedom is amazingly relieving.

Who has had the most influence in your life?
Our parents, most definitely.

Who was the last person you ate dinner with?
It was going to be dinner with two close friends, (one of Sherlyn’s friends from school, whom she has remained close to) because they’ve moved to the country and we were in their town last weekend. Unfortunately, the friend has just come out of hospital, and is on a very limited diet right now, so we didn’t have dinner.

Before that, it was one of our beta readers. His wife and Sherylyn have been good friends all their working lives (they started at the same company, the one Sherylyn was retrenched from), and have remained friends ever since.

A ragtag band of explorers are looking to make the biggest score in the galaxy in the brand-new science fiction adventure novel from the national bestselling author of Linesman.

Three people who are not who they claim to be:

Nika Rik Terri, body modder extraordinaire, has devoted her life to redesigning people's bodies right down to the molecular level. Give her a living body and a genemod machine, and she will turn out a work of art.

Josune Arriola is crew on the famous explorer ship the Hassim, whose memory banks contain records of unexplored worlds worth a fortune. But Josune and the rest of the crew are united in their single-minded pursuit of the most famous lost planet of all.


“A fresh concept, cutting edge technology, and characters that pop! A must-read.” —William C. Dietz, New York Times bestselling author of Battle Hymn

“An absorbing space opera, in the tradition of The Expanse and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.” —Charles Stross, award-winning author of The Delirium Brief

“Masterfully [weaves] hard science, such as telomeres and theoretical chemical elements, with engaging characters and a touch of romance, resulting in a brilliant female-driven tale. . . . Readers of Asimov, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, or Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series will enjoy this story.“ Booklist (starred review)

You can purchase Stars Uncharted at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you S.K. DUNSTALL for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall. 

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

Praise for A TOUCH OF GOLD

A dazzling retelling full of adventure with a dash of betrayal, A Touch of Gold will grab your heart and not let go Brenda Drake, New York Times bestselling author

This debut holds no surprises, but fans of reimagined fairy tales may find Koraand rsquo;s maritime adventures, and her hopeful romance with a young man also touched by a curse, a diverting addition to the genre. 
Carolyn Kelly Booklist

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

You can purchase A Touch of Gold at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a copy of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan.
A Touch of Gold will be purchased through Book Depository.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lawrence M. Schoen Author Interview

Photo Content from Lawrence M. Schoen

Lawrence M. Schoen holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, with a special focus in psycholinguistics. He spent ten years as a college professor, and has done extensive research in the areas of human memory and language. His background in the study of human behavior and the mind provide a principal metaphor for his fiction. He currently works as the director of research and chief compliance officer for a series of mental health and addiction recovery facilities in Philadelphia.

He’s also one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Klingon language, and since 1992 has championed the exploration of this constructed tongue and lectured on this unique topic throughout the world. In addition, he’s the publisher behind a speculative fiction small press, Paper Golem, aimed at serving the niche of up-and-coming new writers as well as providing a market for novellas.

In 2007, he was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He received a Hugo Award nomination for Best Short Story in 2010 and Nebula Award nomination for Best Novella in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2016 he won the Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and his book Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard was finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel and went on to win the Coyotl Award. In 2017 he turned in the sequel to that work (codenamed: The BARSquel) as well as the fourth novella in his Amazing Conroy series, the ongoing adventures of ta stage hypnotist traveling the galaxy in the company of Reggie, an alien buffalito that can eat anything and farts oxygen. By the end of the year he anticipates completing the first book in a new series about lost cities and the advancement of human civilization.

Lawrence lives near Philadelphia with his wife, Valerie, who is neither a psychologist nor a Klingon speaker.


File Size: 4850 KB
Print Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (August 14, 2018)
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Sold by: Macmillan
Language: English


"Weird, wise, and worldly, Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard is a triumph.” —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

“The second you encounter the arboreal uplifted elephants who speak with the dead, you know you're reading a work of singular imaginative power. It's a delight from beginning to end.” —Walter Jon Williams, Nebula Award-winning author of the Metropolitan series

“A captivating, heartwarming story in a unique and fantastic world... as rich and mysterious as Dune.” —James L. Cambias, author of A Darkling Sea

“A heartfelt and wonderfully weird book: a space opera about kindness and memory.” —Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence

“A masterful, onion-layered tale of pariahdom, treachery, and genocide that ultimately reveals the true deathlessness of hope and love.” —Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire

“Combines excellent characters and a fascinating world. What really makes it work is how he deftly weaves together startling SFnal ideas with character-based intrigue. You'll really care for these characters, even as you find them believably alien. I found it a compulsive page-turner and immensely enjoyable.” —Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep

“Powerful. Grand in scope, yet deeply intimate. Schoen gives anthropomorphism some serious spirituality. It got inside my head in the way that only an exciting new idea can.” —Howard Tayler, Hugo Award-winning creator of Schlock Mercenary

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
I've never thought of writing as a hobby, so this is a tricky question to answer. Writing, and more generally storytelling, is something that I've always done. I had an obscure leg disease that limited my physical activity from age 5 to 13 and often had my leg in cast. As a result, I started reading way above my grade level from day one. When the other kids were running around on the playground, I was sitting on a bench with a book. I think that naturally led to where I am today.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
“Long” is one of those relative words. It seemed like forever to me, certainly. But in fact it was a natural extension of writing short stories. In fact, I'd been selling short fiction to Eric Reynolds, the man behind small press Hadley Rille Books, who at the time was only publishing anthologies. We met face to face for the first time at the Denver Worldcon and agreed that we both wanted to be publishing novels. I sold him my first book on a handshake in the Dealers' Room and emailed him the manuscript from my hotel room that night.

In your new book; THE MOONS OF BARSK, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
It's several years after Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard. A lot of what you think you know to be true from that book turns out to be wrong! Pizlok, the precognitive (elephant) boy who believes he can speak to moons is back, but now he's a young adult. For the last few years he's been educated by a long dead artificial intelligence that contains all of humanity's stories, and he decides it's time for him to go on his “hero's journey.” Because this is a novel, things don't go simply and he gets it horribly wrong. The boy who cannot feel pain nonetheless learns what anguish is. He also grapples with questions of destiny and determinism. Or more specifically, if the future is fixed and he can see what is going to happen, how then can he have free will? In addition we have half a dozen other POV characters including his mentor Jorl, his young daughter, more developments of future physics around the subatomic particles of memory and personality from book one, spies, intrigue, betrayal, galactic politics, and questions of how to resolve intertwined issues of history and racism. Obviously I'm biased, but I think it's even better than the first book.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
There's that transition between something you know, a fact or an idea, and truly understanding it. In the course of this book, Pizlo recreates Joseph Campbells classic The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It's one thing to believe that, yes, sure, everyone of us has a story, that we're all the heroes of our own tales. Embracing this idea, carrying it from the novel into real life and seeing everyone around you — not just people you know but folks in line ahead of you at the market, sitting next to you on the bus, yelling at you in traffic — is the hero, that villains are heroes, that little children who have no idea what the future holds for them or what paths they'll walk, all of them are heroes too. So many stories going on all around us that we'll never learn. It's… sobering.

Aside from Pizlo, which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
There's a minor character in the first book, Dabni, who is a major character in this book. I can't tell you how she changes without giving major SPOILERS and I don't think anyone reading this wants that. So let me instead point to Jorl. He's the protagonist of the last book, and while he's still important here, he's dropping back. He's tired and spent from the actions of book one, he might even be broken. But here he is still trying to do the right thing, trying to make a difference, being a force for good in a complex universe that would really rather he just gave up. Jorl reminds me of a very important lesson: that no matter how futile one's actions may seem, as long as you have heart they will sustain you and make a difference. Jorl is at the point where he's done the Big Thing in his life and now has to continue living. It's not like he's Frodo and gets to sail away to the Grey Havens with the elves. He has a wife and child, friends, responsibilities. He's changed the galaxy and now he has to live in it like an ordinary person.

What was the most magical thing that happened during your writing process?
There's a new character in the book who shows up in the very first chapter. He was supposed to be a minor character only he wouldn't let that happen. Seeing him unfold was magical. I knew a couple things that he had to do, but most of what ended up in the book with him was a complete surprise to me.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Oh my god! Where do you get these questions? Um... off the top of my head, I suspect it would be big fun (and dangerous for the galaxy) to introduce Pizlo to a young Ender Wiggins.

Any new and exciting books that you would like to share?
I just had the privilege of reading an advance copy of The Sol Majestic by Ferrit Steinmetz. It was sooooo good. I'm not sure when it comes out, but you definitely want to get him on here and share the book with your readers. Right now I'm finishing up reading the most recent book in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series, and it's a hoot and a half.

What part of Jorl did you enjoy writing the most?
His relationships. Even though he takes a step back from the spotlight in this book, he actually gets more complex. He's saved his world from two major threats in the last book and almost no one knows. He's balancing knowledge and power (which he doesn't want to use) with the responsibility of being a galactic senator, mentoring an adolescent who can see the future, being a new husband and father, and all the minutia of daily living (like arguing with his landlady). For an anthropomorphic elephant living tens of thousands of years in the future, he's remarkably human to me.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I was sitting in a bookstore with my writing group doing the critique thing as we've done for more than a decade. One of them had brought in a copy of Barsk for me to autograph. A young couple are walking by and they stop and approach us, asking “Are you Lawrence Schoen, the author of Barsk? We loved that book!” I was utterly gobsmacked and my writer friends all laughed at me. I'm glad they were there because otherwise no one would believe such a thing really happened.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?

Years ago, a routine medical exam revealed that my wife had the early stages of a kind of cancer that is almost never diagnosed until it's too late to do anything about it. But by this fluke we detected it while the whole thing was still self-contained, “encapsulated” was the word the doctors used. She had surgery and they pretty much just plucked this thing the size of a plum out of her chest. One moment she had cancer and the next she was completely cancer-free. I think about this often and it reminds me how blessed I am. There's still plenty of crap in my life, but so much that is miraculous as well. I choose to focus on the latter. It's a better way to live.

Who was the last person you slow danced with?
That would be my wife, Valerie. I'm a terrible dancer, but it makes her happy to dance with me, so I do.

Who was your first girlfriend?
Ann Richardson (if you're reading, this, “hi, Ann”). Ann wasn't the first person I dated, but certainly the first person with whom I had any kind of “relationship.” Ah, to be sixteen again.

Tell me about your first kiss
So, I was young and in love and the object of my affection had moved from Los Angeles, California to Dallas, Texas (or rather, her father's job had moved them). The summer of my sixteenth birthday I boarded a bus to Dallas and spent about a week visiting her. I remember we went into the guest room where I was staying in the late afternoon and spent hours and hours kissing.

What did you do for your last birthday?
Absolutely nothing. It was just a couple weeks ago. I was busy with writerly stuff and really didn't get around to observing it other than to proclaim when I woke up “Today is my birthday and I don't have to do anything I don't want to do.” My wife and my dog were both present. Neither said a word.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
I'm one of those people who somehow hasn't retained many memories from childhood. This is somewhat ironic because my doctorate is in cognitive psychology and I'm supposed to be an expert on human memory. But you asked for a memory, so… my parents both worked, and they worked hard. Maybe once a year they'd take a few days off, throw the kids into the station wagon, and drive to Palm Springs. We'd check into a crappy motel and all my parents wanted to do was just relax, lay out by the pool, soak up the sun, and not do anything. I remember one time though that I'd read through all the books I'd brought and was bored bored bored. I persuaded my parents to take me to the local public library. I was able to get a temporary library card and could check out five books. I took them back with me to the motel and was happy.

Where can readers find you?
In the flesh, I'll be at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention (aca WorldCon) in San Jose, August 16th to 20th. I expect to show up for the first day of the Baltimore Book Festival on Friday, September 28th, and then spend the rest of the weekend at Capclave in D.C. From November 1st to 4th, I'll return to Baltimore for the World Fantasy Convention, and on the 16th I expect to spend the day at Philcon.

More generally, I have an active presence online. My website continues to have a weekly blog piece in which authors drop by to talk about their most memorable meals. I probably spend more time on Facebook and Twitter ( and respectively) then is good for me, but that's par for a genre writer in the early 21st century.

In no particular order:
1) Restaurants. The demands of sharing food with another person, be they friend, lover, relative, business associate, or enemy, creates a great dynamic and the particular demands of a restaurant colors and (you should forgive the word) flavors the encounter in ways that other venues cannot touch.

2) Ancient cities. The history of the place, the things that everyone knows about them juxtaposed with some obscure facts that I've uncovered in my research makes for a great mix. Then add characters and plot conflicts and everything that is old becomes new again.

3) Future cities. Everyone knows how things work now, and how they don't work. Changing a few of these things because “it's the future!” allows me to take the familiar and turn it on its head. The readers expectations are challenged and transformed.

4) Alien cities. Much like future cities except the ordinary things form human civilazation may not apply, may be completely wrong, or may be mofidified in ways that croggle the readers' understanding.

5) Home. Specifically, a character's home. Because it's not about the physical place, but rather what that place evokes and elicits for the character. Little things, stupid things, are going to have ridiculous amounts of emotional weight that simply doesn't exist for the other characters. It's a great opportunity for a writer.

6) Libraries and used bookstores. For many writers, as for many many readers, these are holy places. Even if you're not writing a fantasy, even if nothing magical actually happens, there is a feeling of “potential” present, all those worlds that exist between the covers of those books.

7) Spaceships. What can I say, I like to write science fiction and that often involves travel between planets or between stars. What will we take with us when we go into space? How comfortable will we make the experience? How difficult/different from other modes of travel will it be?

8) Mexico. I'm not sure why, but I keep finding myself being drawn back to vanished Mayan cities. Sometimes I'm writing about them as they exist today, in ruins, surrounded by jungle, devoid of inhabitants. Sometimes I'm writing about the past and the places are thriving centers of culture and ordinary life. And you know, I've never actually been to any of them. Maybe next year.

9 & 10) Archipelagos and Rainforests. Much of the action of both Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard and The Moons of Barsk take place in cities built high in the trees of rainforests, rainforests that happen to exist on islands strewn across a pair of archipelagos. When I wrote the first book, I'd never been to either an archipelago or a rainforest, except in many hours of research to get my facts right and create the proper feel for these kinds of miraculous places. Last summer I was able to visit both kinds of places. I hiked through El Yunque, Puerto Rico's (and the U.S.'s) only tropical rainforest. And then a month later I traveled to Sweden and rambled over and across bridges between the islands that make up Stockholm as well as boarding a boat to explore them from the water's perspective. In both cases, I was really happy to discover I'd gotten them right for my books.

Years after the events of Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard, the lonely young outcast and physically-challenged Fant, Pizlo, is now a teenager. He still believes he hears voices from the planet’s moons, imparting secret knowledge to him alone. And so embarks on a dangerous voyage to learn the truth behind the messages. His quest will catapult him offworld for second time is his short life, and reveal things the galaxy isn’t yet ready to know.

Elsewhere, Barsk's Senator Jorl, who can speak with the dead, navigates galactic politics as Barsk's unwelcome representative, and digs even deeper into the past than ever before to discover new truths of his own.

You can purchase The Moons of Barsk at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LAWRENCE M. SCHOEN for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a Copy of THE MOONS OF BARSK (Barsk #2) by Lawrence M. Schoen. 
AUGUST 15th WEDNESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT
AUGUST 16th THURSDAY Book Queen Reviews EXCERPT 
AUGUST 17th FRIDAY Nightly Reading EXCERPT
AUGUST 18th SATURDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW
AUGUST 18th SATURDAY TMBA Corbett Tries to Write EXCERPT

AUGUST 19th SUNDAY Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW
AUGUST 19th SUNDAY Twirling Book Princess EXCERPT
AUGUST 20th MONDAY A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW
NESDAY Insane About Books REVIEW
AUGUST 22nd WEDNESDAY Lisa Loves Literature EXCERPT
AUGUST 23rd THURSDAY RhythmicBooktrovert REVIEW

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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|Podcast| Her Universe - Ashley Eckstein Interview

Photo Content from Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein has been widely recognized and honored as an actress, entrepreneur, fangirl trendsetter leading voice for female fandom and now, author. Most known as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars, Ashley also founded Her Universe in 2010 - the groundbreaking fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand. As the Founder and GM of Her Universe, Ashley continues to oversee all aspects of the company and she interacts daily with her fanbase of over 350,000 fans on social media and through

A leading authority on female fandom, Ashley has been featured in stories on CNN, MTV, Forbes,, ABC News, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal among many others. She has been chosen by Good Housekeeping magazine as one of their 25 Awesome Women and was recently chosen by CNET as one of their Women Who Inspire for 2018.

Ashley is an accomplished and recognized actress with numerous film and television credits to her resume. She is also an in-demand host and inspirational speaker for major studios, networks and companies such as Disney, HSN and Comic-Con International.

Married to former Major League Baseball player and World Series MVP, David Eckstein, they both enjoy traveling the world, teaching kids how to achieve their dreams and they take their love of pizza very seriously!

JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast

Known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, actress and entrepreneur, Ashley Eckstein, founded Her Universe – the groundbreaking fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand. Ashley has been widely recognized as a business woman and Fangirl trendsetter. She was recently chosen by Good Housekeeping magazine as one of their 25 Awesome Women for 2016. Her Universe is a proud licensee for Disney/Star Wars and Marvel, BBC /Doctor Who, CBS/Star Trek, Studio Ghibli as well as a growing roster of properties.

Ashley is a recognized personality in the “geek world” and an in-demand actress and host starring in several TV specials, live shows, events and videos for Disney, HSN, Comic-Con HQ and more. In addition to Star Wars’ Ahsoka Tano, Eckstein is also the voice of Mia the bluebird on Disney’s Sofia The First, Dagger on Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man and the voice of Cheetah on DC Super Hero Girls. Eckstein was also heard on the big screen in 2016 as the voice of Yaeko in the English adaptation of Studio Ghibli's beloved film Only Yesterday alongside fellow Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley and acclaimed actor Dev Patel. Most recently, she can be seen starring in her own show on Comic-Con HQ, The Her Universe Fashion Show: Fashion Meets Fandom.

On October 2016, Her Universe was acquired by Hot Topic, Inc. and joined their stable of brands as a stand-alone subsidiary, e-commerce and wholesale brand. Ashley will continue her role as Founder and GMM of Her Universe and will oversee every aspect of the company.

Ashley Eckstein grew up inspired by all things Disney. She launched Her Universe, an apparel company catering to fan girls, which has become a preferred partner for Disney and their girl power initiative.

In IT'S YOUR UNIVERSE, Ashley shares her own life lessons, as well as lessons from iconic Disney characters, as a way to inspire girls to create big dreams and work to make them a reality.

Ashley tells her story of being a little girl dreaming of being on a Disney stage, voicing the first female Jedi, Ahsoka Tano, and starting Her Universe, a blockbuster clothing line and community for fangirls.

With space for readers to make journal entries and quotes from iconic Disney characters, Ashley shows how princesses, Jedis, and super heroes were great role models for choosing her own path.

Her Universe, the groundbreaking fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand, is the vision of Ashley Eckstein, actress, entrepreneur and voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Ashley has been widely recognized as a business woman, Fangirl trendsetter and leading voice for female fandom. Founded in 2010, Ashley launched Her Universe with the mission to create stylish, fashion-forward merchandise for female sci-fi fans. Her Universe is a place for fangirls to step into the spotlight and be heard, recognized and rewarded. Ashley’s goal, from the beginning, was to build the company into a stand-alone entertainment and merchandise brand and, today, Her Universe is leading the way. Hoping to change the perception that science fiction and fantasy is just for boys, Her Universe has joined forces with some of the biggest names in the sci-fi/fantasy world to create fangirl apparel and accessories for such well-known names as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek and Marvel.

Today, Her Universe, a stand-alone subsidiary of Hot Topic, Inc., has expanded into entertainment and is also known as a lifestyle brand. Her Universe produces a “geek couture” fashion show every year at San Diego Comic-Con called The Her Universe Fashion Show, as well as a docu-series based about the fashion show for Comic-Con HQ.
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