Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Joshua Palmatier Author Interview

Photo Content from Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier was born in Coudersport, PA, but since his father was in the military he moved around. Alot. He's lived in the states of Pennsylvania (three times), Florida (twice), Washington, California (briefly), Virginia, Texas (twice), and now resides in upstate New York. He has spent the majority of his life so far going to school, earning a Bachelors of Science and a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University, followed by a PhD in mathematics from Binghamton University. He is currently teaching mathematics (what else) at the State University of New York--Oneonta, taught for two years at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, and taught for three years at Bloomsburg University while taking a break between his masters degree and the PhD.

Joshua started writing science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories in the eighth grade, when the teacher assigned a one page Twilight Zone-ish short story. He wrote a story about Atlantis. It was from the perspective of one of the inhabitants as he escaped in a spaceship, watching his world being destroyed by water from one of the viewports of the ship. He got an A. Joshua has never stopped writing since, mainly focusing on novels.


What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing? 
Two things: First, be persistent. Nothing in publishing happens fast, including that first sale. You’ll probably spend a lot of time writing and receive a lot of rejections, but if you’re persistent and you learn from your mistakes, eventually you will get that sale. Second, don’t quit your day job. You need something to pay the bills while you’re writing and being all persistent AND even if you do get that first sale, it probably won’t be enough to live off of. Not right away. A steady income is a wonderful thing and it’s not going to come from writing.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? 
I’d have to say the greatest thing I learned at school would be to write what you’re passionate about. Until the 8th grade, English classes consisted of writing the three paragraph argument. But then my 8th grade teacher assigned a Twilight Zone story and I suddenly realized that writing could be fun … as long as I wrote about subjects that intrigued me or sparked my imagination. If it wasn’t for that 8th grade teacher essentially saying, “Writing fantasy and science fiction is OK. Go for it!” I probably wouldn’t be writing today.

Are there authors that you’re excited to engage/work with? 
Pretty much any writer who gets excited about writing and the process is fun to engage with. That’s why I go to conventions, to meet other people like me and to talk craft. It’s also one of the reasons why I founded the small press Zombies Need Brains—so that I could work with writers on an actual project, such as a short story. It’s fun working with them to turn an already good story into something great!

What part of Varis did you enjoy writing the most? 
I think my favorite part of writing Varis was her transition from a young, vulnerable girl barely surviving in the slums of the city into a powerful, confident woman who—despite the drawbacks of where she came from—realizes that she is worth as much, if not more, than any of those around her. That’s essentially the entirety of the story told in the “Throne of Amenkor” novels.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters? 
Oh, the great thing about writing and creating characters is that they’re always full of surprises! I write without an outline or plot synopsis, so the story is unfolding before my eyes. As events happen, it’s always surprising how my expectations of where the novel is going get subverted by the characters and what they want to do. For the “Throne of Amenkor” series, Varis certainly had her own ideas about how the events would unfold in the third novel, THE VACANT THRONE. That novel completely changed during the writing. The lesson I learned with that book was that you REALLY need to listen to your characters; I spent far too much time trying to get Varis to what I wanted her to do, rather than just letting her tell her own story. Since then, when a character is going in a direction I don’t expect, I just try to relax and enjoy the ride.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us? 
My most recent projects include finishing off the “Ley” series for DAW Books with the release of REAPING THE AURORA, the third book. I’m also working on editing the three new SF&F anthologies I kickstarted for Zombies Need Brains, including THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR (for submission guidelines, check out tinyurl.com/ZNBGuidelines). As for future projects … well, I’m working on the start of a new series set in an entirely new universe from all of my previous novels, so new magic system, new characters, new history, new everything. This one uses my day job—teaching mathematics—as inspiration. I don’t want to say more about it than that, since I’m only a few chapters into it and who knows if it’s going to work out.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know while writing THRONE OF AMENKOR SERIES
Obviously, Varis. She is the driving force behind all three of those novels. It’s really her story, told through her eyes. When I sat down to write THE SKEWED THRONE, the first novel, all I wanted to do was write an assassin story where the assassin actually killed people. But after Varis walked onto the stage, that changed into writing about how this young girl, orphaned in the slums, managed to survive and how she pulled herself up and saved herself using her own innate talents and the opportunities she was presented with.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
I would probably introduce Varis to George R.R. Martin’s Arya. I think they’d get along just fine.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood. 
All of my favorite memories from early childhood relate to the boat that we owned. We lived in Key
West and would take the boat out almost every weekend, traveling to various keys, anchoring in a little cove, walking the beaches searching for shells. I remember seeing giant sea turtles swimming far beneath the boat. I remember returning to the boat after walking a small key and finding it circled by sharks. I remember a hammerhead shark bigger than the boat itself swimming beneath us once. Then there was snorkeling and hunting lobsters and the time my dad threw a sea cucumber onto the boat and it squirted purple ichor all over. There are lots of fond memories associated with that boat.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager? 

I think the time I was actually a teenager, the 1980s, was great. Some of the best SF&F movies came out over that decade … some of the best movies of all time. Things were uncomplicated then, and everyone was simply trying to have fun.

If you could live in any period in history, what would it be and why? 

I’d like to live during the Renaissance in Europe. It seems to me it would be a time of great creativity and excitement. But only if I were rich or at least had a rich patron.

What book would you recommend for others to read? 

There are so many! I just finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s MISTBORN, which was a great read. (I know, I’m a little behind on his stuff.) Going even more old-school, I’d recommend Tad William’s THE DRAGONBONE CHAIR. More recently, and to recommend some SF rather than all fantasy, I’d suggest Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet” series.

What is your greatest adventure? 

Embarking on a new novel. There’s a whole world and new characters to explore and discover.

Where can readers find you? 

You can find more about Joshua Palmatier at www.joshuapalmatier.com, on Facebook (joshua.b.palmatier), Twitter (@bentateauthor), and Instagram (joshuab.palmatier). You can find out more about the small press Zombies Need Brains at www.zombiesneedbrains.com, on Facebook (zombiesneedbrainsllc), and on Twitter (@ZNBLLC).

1. There were originally three additional chapters at the beginning of THE SKEWED THRONE, but they were cut.

2. I signed the contracts for the “Throne of Amenkor” series the same semester I graduated with my PhD in mathematics.

3. At my first signing/reading event for THE SKEWED THRONE, I was asked why Varis didn’t have a pet. My response was: “Because she’d have eaten it.”

4. THE SKEWED THRONE was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award. It was up against Scott Lynch’s THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA and Naomi Novik’s HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON.

5. Borund’s name was supposed to be changed to something else before it was sent to the editor, “Borund” just being a placeholder, but after writing a few more chapters it grew on me.

6. I received hate mail when THE CRACKED THRONE first came out, because of what happens to one particular favored character. The hate mail was followed up with apologies later.

7. The plot synopsis for THE VACANT THRONE bears almost no resemblance to the final book.

8. The “Throne of Amenkor” series is set on the same world as my two other series, the “Well of Sorrows” series and the “Ley” series … but it’s on a different continent.

9. I have concepts for at least two additional trilogies that use either characters introduced in the “Throne of Amenkor” series or Varis herself; I have concepts for at least five additional trilogies set on that same world.

10. THE CRACKED THRONE practically wrote itself in less than six months; THE VACANT THRONE fought me the entire way and took forever.

The Throne of Amenkor Trilogy omnibus brings together The Skewed Throne, The Cracked Throne, and The Vacant Throne for the first time.

One young girl holds the fate of a city in her hands. If she fails, it spells her doom--and the end of her world.

Twice in the history of the city of Amenkor, the White Fire had swept over the land. Over a thousand years ago it came from the east, covering the entire city, touching everyone, leaving them unburned--but bringing madness in its wake, a madness that only ended with the death of the ruling Mistress of the city.

Five years ago the Fire came again, and Amenkor has been spiraling into ruin ever since. The city's only hope rests in the hands of a young girl, Varis, who has taught herself the art of survival and has been trained in the ways of the assassin. Venturing deep into the heart of Amenkor, Varis will face her harshest challenges and greatest opportunities. And it is here that she will either find her destiny--or meet her doom.


“I give The Skewed Throne four and a half out of five really creepy-ass iconic chairs, and a strong suggestion that it not walk down any dark alleys alone. I highly recommend it” 
Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the Toby Daye series

“A gritty, edgy, unsettling book. This tough young woman makes her choices in a world where good and evil often look like twins. I was riveted by her story!” 
Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author of the Song of the Lioness series

“Joshua Palmatier has written a vivid, passionate story about a tough-minded heroine fighting for survival. What makes her especially compelling is her own struggle to understand right and wrong, and to confront what necessity can force you to do. This promising first novel should lead to equally confident sequels” 
Kate Elliott, New York Times bestselling author of Spiritwalker series

“The strength of Palmatier's book lies in Varis. Varis is a bitter girl, hardened by years of living in the Dredge, but she retains a core of humanity. Her ability to slip into what she calls the river, where threats stand out as splashes of red in the currents of the world around her, makes her an intriguing point of view character . . . if you enjoy grittier fantasy, I would recommend picking up The Skewed Throne” 
Jim C. Hines, author of the Magic ex Libris series

“If you are familiar with Arya Stark in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, you'll love Varis, who has a similar tenacity and toughness. I highly recommend The Skewed Throne and fans of gritty fantasy will love this book” 
Paul Genesse, author of the Iron Dragon series

“This novel grips the reader with a swift-moving tale of political intrigue and economic survival in a world where the most dangerous secrets are never forgotten” 
Publishers Weekly

You can purchase The Throne of Amenkor at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Throne of Amenkor by Joshua Palmatier.


  1. The Hobbit, of course, though I do have more favorites than that.

  2. "Favorite fantasy book?" I like a lot! How about various Aldous Huxley books?

  3. My favorites are Fore and Bitterblue

  4. My favorite fantasy books are the Demonica series by Larissa Ione