Ep 58 – Worldbuilding with J.M. Frey

Worldbuilding is one of the most enjoyable aspects of genre writing, but it can also be quite daunting. Luckily J.M. Frey, author and giver of nearly ten years worth of talks on the subject, is releasing a new book to help!

Check out the book on Jess’ author site
Architect Breaks Down “Bridgerton” Mansions | Architectural Digest

New Edge Sword & Sorcery Mailing List, FB, Twitter, IG, and the site itself.

Click through to buy the book!

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Ep 56 – Interview with Scott Oden

Oliver sat down with author Scott Oden to discuss the challenges of writing in another person’s voice, especially one as well known as Robert E. Howard, and spiraled off into a wide variety of topics related to the life of a writer.

Scott’s Author Page (FB, Twitter)

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Ep 55 – Writing Workshops with Christopher Rowe

Oliver talks with author and writing teacher Christopher Rowe about writing workshops, such as The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, where he recently taught. What exactly does a workshop involve? How do you get into one, and what can you expect to get out of it? How, if at all, are they changing with the times? They discuss all this, and more.

Christopher Rowe’s author site (Socials: IG, FB, Twitter)
Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping by Matthew Salesses
The Whetstone Tavern Discord

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Ep 54 – Weird Fiction & Sword & Sorcery with Scott Dorward

Weird Fiction is a term from the days which birthed Sword & Sorcery, arguably a key ingredient in the genre, but what is it exactly?

To discuss this curious intersection of horror, science fiction, and S&S, Oliver sits down with Scott Dorward, an experienced horror TTRPG author, podcaster, and scholar of fiction both weird & Weird…

The Good Friends of Jackson Elias (Scott’s podcast he co-hosts)
Beyond Lovecraft (Oliver’s other interview with Scott, over on Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection)
The Tale of Satampra Zeiros (The Clark Ashton Smith story whose name you’ll hear Oliver fail to recall…)
Under the Spell of Keith Taylor’s Bard Songs by Brian Murphy (Quoted in the interview)

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Ep 48 – Interview with Steve Babb of Glass Hammer

Oliver finally dives into the musical side of sword & sorcery by speaking with author & composer Steve Babb, of the band Glass Hammer!

https://stephenrbabb.com (FB)
www.glasshammer.com (Twitter, Youtube)
Buy Skallagrim – In The Vales of Pagarna
The Lay of Lirazel

Available in Kindle, softcover, and hardcover!

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Ep 47 – Interview with Kirk A. Johnson

I spoke with Kirk about his new book The Obanaax and Other Tales of Heroes and Horrors.

We cover the afternoon movies which helped form Kirk’s idea of what heroes should be, his own first collision with Conan and Frazetta, why martial arts films were such a big thing in the black community back in the day, is Robin Hood S&S?, Fafhrd & Grey Mouser in The Wire, the film Thief remade as S&S, S&S and the hard boiled crime genre, periods of great economic strife being ripe for S&S, the folly of trying to write a story that “isn’t political”, Kirk’s first short fiction sale (to Milton Davis’ firs Griots anthology) and his journey developing as a writer, Charles Saunder’s Imaro, his first rejection and the importance of the feedback given within, what he’s proudest of in how his craft has evolved since his first publication, Kirk’s approach to using violence in his stories and necessary limits with gore, MONDO VIDEO, sword & sorcery as a genre of the body, “The Big Book of Sword & Sorcery Farts”, a key scene in The Northman, Kirk’s attitude on when to speak more plainly and when to turn the prose a brighter shade of purple, working people from life into your out there fantasy genre tales, the joys of being published with or having your work shared by authors you admire, the real life African cultures Kirk drew from in his worldbuilding, mixing invented language in with real ones, Jack Vance’s “The Dragon Masters” and the importance of using context to help your reader absorb invented language without needing to check a glossary, the journey of writing his new book, “Spear & Fang”, the animated series “Primal’, Kirk’s experience so far with self-publishing, tells us about BookBaby,

Buy the book!
Far Afield Press’ site (on Facebook, and on Instagram)
Kirk on Twitter
The State of Black Science Fiction-NYC, a group Kirk is a member of which you too may wish to join.
Beef, Wine and Shenanigans – a fun podcast Kirk co-hosts!

Click the image to go where you can buy the book!

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Ep46 – Fresh Blood and New Thunder! Bringing New Readers to Sword & Sorcery, with Sof Magliano

Oliver experimented with sending six S&S tales to a younger, contemporary fantasy fan, then got her reactions, and discussed promoting sword & sorcery to younger, more diverse audiences.

Among other things, we discuss the work of Robin Hobb, the dilution of the term “sword & sorcery” and other branding issues, living in a character’s head, struggling to connect with Tower of the Elephant, reading trope-setting classics as a contemporary reader, connecting more with emotion-driven sword & sorcery, backfiring magic, quick-moving plots and pacing, how Sof felt S&S has a unified feel and how it differs from the broad trends of contemporary fantasy, Brian Murphy’s definition of sword & sorcery, short stories as a break from the 500+ page installations of trilogies or longer, the evolution of Sof’s own writing, how DO we recommend S&S to people who don’t read it – young and old, why telling someone something is short isn’t actually a great selling point, how S&S’s outsider protagonist tradition primes it for more diversity in its protagonists and appealing to people outside the classic white cishet male demographic, best online platforms for reading younger audiences and the challenge of self-reinforcing popularity, the importance of making books look pretty on social media, the strong art tradition of sword & sorcery, the “convincing you to read based on aesthetic” TikTok format, author newsletters, the fallacy of expecting self-published authors to do everything a publishing house can do, changing trends in fantasy cover art, this thing called “Google”, Sof’s own novel she’s working on, Elizabeth Olsen’s early film “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, and more!

Sof’s Bookstagram!

The six stories I assigned Sof to read for our discussion. You don’t have to read them, but maybe you’ll want to?
1) Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard (Free!)
2) Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore (Free!)
3) Mzee by Charles Saunders (Flick through to page 60)
4) Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
5) The Second Death of Hanuvar by Howard Andrew Jones (Featured in Tales from the Magician’s Skull issue #3)
6) The Gate of Mist by Cora Buhlert (Absolute last story in this free magazine)

Click through to check out Sof’s Bookstagram!

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Ep45 – Interview with David C. Smith (Part Two)

David C. Smith remains a lovely and talented author with whom Oliver spoke for so long we decided to split the interview into two parts. Here’s that second part!

In this half we discuss the 80’s sword & sorcery publishing implosion, the importance of adapting to changing tastes and not just telling the same limited range of stories ad infinitum, how expanding something – like a genre’s possibilities – means more and doesn’t take away what’s already there that people like, the fallacy of thinking you can write a story with no theme or message or opinions or “politics” in it, David’s latest novel (Sometime Lofty Towers), avoiding the white savior pitfall and otherwise best practices when writing fictional indigenous peoples, the history of The Other in western civilization, cultural appropriation, writing outside
“the usual sword & sorcery template”, silent film and westerns, Unforgiven, earning the trust of the reader so they’ll follow you through dark passages (of writing), philosophy in sword & sorcery starting right at the beginning with Robert E Howard, asking yourself if there’s enough meat on a character’s bones, how David’s writing style has evolved since he wrote the first Oron book, David’s influences, the exercise of typing up stories by a beloved author, David’s plans to republish his Oron novels, the importance of reading widely, learning by teaching, diagramming sentences, what has kept David writing all these years, David’s opinion on where to start if you want to begin exploring his work, and more!

David’s Author Site
David on Goodreads
The Gonji series David mentions
David’s silent era film mystery novel “Bright Star”
Tales of Attluma and Sometime Lofty Towers
Dark Muse

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Ep 44 – Interview with David C. Smith (Part One)

David C. Smith is an author whose career began in the 1970’s during the second wave of sword & sorcery, he still writes to this very day, and Oliver felt very lucky to get the chance to have this epic, first-ever two-part interview with him!

In this first part we cover David’s original aspirations to work in film, the incredible role having the right English teacher can play in your life, discovering Conan, the real life model for Norman Bates, how Lord of the Rings helped David see Robert E Howard more clearly, the grounded nature of sword & sorcery and how it contrasts to make the weird elements shine brighter, too many elephants in too many towers, “when everything is special than nothing is”, the 70’s fanzine community and the role it played in David’s career, zine letter’s pages as the “online” forums of the pre-internet era, David’s first time selling one of his stories, getting his first rejection out of the way, the value of feedback with rejections and getting roasted in the letters column, selling his first novel – Oron, using zines to promote sword and sorcery today, how David distinguishes S&S from Heroic Fantasy, trying to attract fans of the romance genre to S&S, how only having serious musclemen protagonists and stories limits things, when there was a midlist in publishing, the second wave of sword and sorcery, how the Esoteric Order of Dagon played a key role in David’s career, potentially finding direct influences on Lovecraft’s invention of weird cultist language, David’s line between fan fiction and true pastiche, the Greek style heroic arc, the truth behind a rumor Oliver heard about David being called in to finish a Karl Edward Wagner novel, Black Vulmea, and more!

David’s Author Site
David on Goodreads
Sword & Sorcery: “An earthier sort of fantasy” Goodreads Group

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Ep 42 – Writing Anxiety with Mike Harrington

Oliver discusses with Mike the ways anxiety has affected them when trying to write, and how Mike overcame a thirty year block to end up making his first ever short story submission!

Subjects they cover include playing Dungeons & Dragons leading to creative writing, the potential long-term impact of complimenting your child’s creativity, the validation brought by writing, a state of flow found when writing and the peace found within it, the merits of escapism, the editor in the back of your head, nurturing empathy through writing and reading, when writing anxiety first truly manifested for Mike, conflating an author’s writing in a character’s voice with the author’s own self, how writing anxiety can manifest and be triggered, the whole “always have a notebook handy” thing, outlining, the fallacy of seeking the One Right Method, “well, that isn’t realistic…”, feeling “behind” other writers or on your reading, comparing ourselves to what others show of themselves, the myth of the “self-made man”, the compulsion to tell stories, how Mike got over thirty years of writer’s block, the importance of finding a good writing community, learning to accept where you are, the advice Mike would give the Mike of a year ago (when he was still stuck), writing as a process of discovery and self-discovery, what kind of writing makes Oliver anxious, “REAL writers write every day…”, the story Mike wrote for his first ever submission, the importance of reading broadly, and more!

Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Vettius and His Friends by David Drake
Since recording, Mike has dared to make an author Twitter account for himself!
The Whetstone Tavern Discord
Black Gate
The Silver Key (Brian Murphy’s blog!)
Howard Andrew Jones’ author page
Imaginary Cities: A Tour of Dream Cities, Nightmare Cities, and Everywhere in Between by Darran Anderson

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