Star Wars: Aftermath Out Now

Force Friday is over, and many of the new Star Wars toys and goodies were unveiled, and since we know that all comics, books and video games from this point forward are all official canon, Disney are revealing lots of products ready for December’s new film, The Force Awakens.

Chuck Wendig’s book focuses on events after Return of the Jedi and is available now, and you can read an excerpt here.


The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire, and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance-now a fledgling New Republic-presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world-war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is-or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit-to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies-her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector-who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

The Devotion of Suspect X

I’ve been trying to read more novels lately. Here’s a brief review of the latest one.


I picked up The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino as it was a recommendation from the owner of a small bookstore owner. (I always like to support the non-chain bookstores).

I did notice a handful of grammatical issues, especially in the early pages of the book, which I found surprising. Sure, it’s been translated from Japanese, but this 2011 English version has also been nominated for two awards for its translation.

Set in contemporary Japan, it focuses on Yasuko, a quiet single mother who has moved to escape her former husband. However, when he shows up at her apartment one night, it doesn’t end well for anyone, and when her neighbour Tetsuya Ishigami offers his genius-level maths approach to assisting the young family, the stakes are raised, and the plot becomes complicated, but thankfully, still easy to follow.

It’s the third book featuring the Detective Galileo character, known as Manabu Yukawa, who is an old college friend of Ishigami and whose investigation, coupled with his knowledge of Ishigami’s eccentric behaviour, leads to the novel’s intensity in the latter half. I haven’t read the other two books featuring the detective, and it wasn’t an issue. This is a stand-alone novel that you can delve right in to.

The first half is a bit slow, but it certainly picks up in the last half, and as I got down to the final chapters, I couldn’t wait to finish it. There are surprising developments which work splendidly in raising questions about various characters’ integrity and true motivations.

There are two film adaptations out already, (a Japanese, and South Korean version), with a third American remake on the way. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one novel spawning that many international adaptations in such a short amount of time.

Although there are crime elements, seeing as it is a murder mystery, it never becomes gory or gruesome. It is a story about murder, sure, but it is more about the exploration of unusual relationships, the line between respect and romance, and the depths one can sink to to rationalise horrific acts, as well as the effects of loneliness and social isolation.

The Dark Communion

My friend Joey Ruff has just published his first novel, and it’s now available on Amazon, with the Kindle version landing soon. The Dark Communion (Volume 1) is a massive 408 page supernatural thriller. I read an early draft and it was rather intriguing I must say. You can buy the book on Amazon right here (it’s only $15) and it will be available to order through libraries and Barnes and Noble stores soon.


Star Wars Reads Day

There is such a thing? Yep! It sounds like Read Comics In Public Day, which is held in August every year, but this event is obviously focused on George Lucas’ greatest creation. You can find more details right here.

Find a Star Wars Reads Day Event Near You

On October 6th, 2012, fans will come together to celebrate reading and Star Wars. Join in the fun by finding an event near you in the map provided below. All events will have giveaways and a raffle. Select events will have authors and/or costumed characters on hand from the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, the Mandalorian Mercs and the R2 Builders Club.

Relentless Novel for Free

For a limited time, you can grab a digital copy form Amazon of author Robin Parrish’s book, Relentless. This over 400 page novel is the first in Parrish’s Dominion trilogy and has been widely praised.

Grab a free copy here, and keep your eye out for his latest book from Stonehouse Ink, Corridor, which is described thusly:


On the eve of his seventeenth birthday, Troy Goggin finds himself inexplicably transported to an impossibly huge, miles-long structure called the Corridor. But what is the Corridor, and why was he brought to it?

It’s a place of mystery, wonder, and heart-stopping danger. It will test him and push him both mentally and physically. His only companion is the girl whose voice he hears inside his head, explaining the rules he must follow if he hopes to escape.

But there is much more to this extraordinary place than Troy could ever imagine. The Corridor’s true purpose — the biggest mystery of all — is revealed only to those who make it to the end.

Amazon Novel Contest

From January 25 until February 7 you can enter your unpublished novel in the General Fiction or Young Adult Fiction categories. It’s all part of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and you can win $15 000 and a publishing contract with Penguin USA. It’s a great opportunity if you have a novel sitting on your desktop ready for the world to see. Go here to get the full lowdown.

Offworld Signing

Novelist Robin Parrish (The Dominion Trilogy) will be signing his brand spanking new book, entitled Offworld on Saturday, June 27. We have an interview with Robin in the next issue of Extra Sequential (yes, it’s coming). Offworld has a rather intriguing set-up, as described here;

Christopher Burke and his crew of NASA astronauts are the first human beings to walk on the surface of Mars. Their return to Earth was supposed to be a momentous day. But a surprise is waiting for them there that’s beyond imagining.

Safe after a treacherous landing in Florida, the crew emerges to find the unthinkable: every man, woman, child, and animal has vanished without a trace.

If you’d like to see Robin and grab your copy off the novel, details of the signing are below.

Saturday, June 27, 2009
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Barnes & Noble of High Point
906 Mall Loop Road
High Point, NC

You can also read the entire first chapter of the novel here.


Gotta admit – that’s a great cover.

Kevin J. Anderson Interview

Enemies and Allies CoverHis name may be familiar to some, thanks to all the Star Wars novels he has written, but he’s also written his own works, plus novels set in the world of Dune, and even a few comics. I recently finished his book, The Last Days of Krypton, which is about , well, the last days of Krypton. I was pretty impressed by it. There’s a few things that puzzled me, such as a few grammatical errors and the use of other characters names instead of Non and Ursa. You may remember those characters primarily from the first two Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. Perhaps due to copyright reasons, their names are changed, but their personalities are clearly those of the fesity woman and brute mute. No-one but hardcore Superman fans will notice however, and the replacement names Aethyr and Nam-Ek belong to a pair of characters from earlier episodes of Smallville, taken from the comics from decades ago. However, it’s not a biggie really. General Zod is a manipulating genius who uses fear tactics to get what he wants after Braniac shows up and takes the whole city of Kandor away. The budding romance between respected (for the most part) scientist Jor-El and artist Lara is handled beautifully. The age difference between the pair and the fact that they’re newlyweds before shuttling their baby Kal-El off to Earth seemed somewhat unusual, but only because I’ve never seen them portrayed that way before. 

Last Days of KryptonThis is a book for Superman fans, or at least those vaguely aware of the character’s origins. Anderson is a good writer, and I felt at times like I wanted to wring the necks of the stuffy Council for ignoring Jor-El’s pleas and ultimately giving rise to Zod’s megalomania. Most of the characters are fully developed, though Anderson has the uncanny need to describe everyones hairstyles. He does take this vague knowledge of Superman’s distant origins and throw in nice cameos such as the Phantom Zone, and Martian Manhunter, and even hints at the Green Lantern Corps. Comics scribe Geoff Johns has taken these concepts and run with them with his Last Son arc and the more recent New World of Krypton maxi-series that has most of these characters appear once more. Plus the cover by Fables cover artist James Jean is grand. If Warner Bros. ever wise up and give writer Mark Millar his dream job of creating a Superman film trilogy, this book would be an awesome opener. There’s no Superman in sight, yet it is a surprising and often riveting sci-fi tale.

You can read my interview with Anderson about his new book, Enemies and Allies here. It’s about the first meeting between Superman and Batman in the 1950s Cold War era. It’s an unusual take, but it has guest stars galore, including the supporting cast and baddies from both heroes worlds.

Fantagraphics Goes To Jordan

Press release below regarding a new book from the son of Peanuts creator, Charles M. Schulz, which is only the second novel to be released from indie comics publisher, Fantagraphics. The book, entitled, This Side of Jordan will be unveiled at the 2009 Book Expo America in New York on May 29-31.

THISSIDEOFJORDANThis September, Fantagraphics Books is proud to publish This Side of Jordan, by Monte Schulz, only the second original prose novel (following 2007’s Laura Warholic by Alexander Theroux) in the company’s 33-year history.

This Side of Jordan is a tapestry of American life in the summer before the economic crash of 1929, and a quintessential novel of the rural Midwest offered unexpectedly as a crime thriller. Full of American landscapes and totems, images and notions, foibles and fables, beasts and the blessed, it follows the experiences of 19-year-old tubercular farm boy Alvin Pendergast. The novel begins with an ill-fated dance marathon and a chance encounter with a slick con artist and gangster named Chester Burke. Fearing relapse of his consumption and a return to the sanitarium that had already stolen a year of his life, Alvin imprudently follows Chester across the Mississippi River only to enter a vortex of criminal violence and deceit.

With Alvin in tow, Chester’s insouciant disregard for life serves him well during a series of bank robberies and senseless murders, the sociopathic gangster assuming the role of a dark angel on Judgment Day, cleansing the scrolls of those whose sad fortune draws them across his path. Too ill to flee, too morally weak to object, Alvin resigns himself to what seems like certain doom. Fortunately, Alvin finds another companion on the road, a lonely, eccentric, and grandiloquent dwarf named Rascal, whose own infirmity binds their destinies together. Eventually, the young farm boy must make a decision: stick with Chester, who will surely kill him at the slightest hint of betrayal, or muster the courage to stake his life on faith in Rascal’s clever plan to save them both.

MonteSchulzMonte Schulz is the son of Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, and in This Side of Jordan one of his ambitions was to recreate the time of his mother’s and father’s Jazz Age childhood, when America was making the irresistible transition from rural to urban life.

“When I was in my early twenties, and Dad saw that I was developing an interest in writing, he showed me some of the beautiful passages of Thomas Wolfe and John Steinbeck, and lent me his copies of Complete Poems by Carl Sandburg and Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, and Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. He told me the writer’s gift is to be able to express for people certain ideas and emotions they cannot express for themselves,” says Schulz.

Told in the voice of a lost generation hurtling toward the Great Depression, This Side of Jordan evokes crowded Main Streets and tourist camps, miles of cornfields, rural churches and musty parlors, with the momentum of a freight train, but delivered in the seductive, rhythmic tradition of Southern lyricism reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor and Truman Capote.

Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth said he was leery when Schulz asked him to read the novel “because, after all, how does the publisher of The Complete Peanuts reject a novel by Charles Schulz’s son?” After reading it, however, he was “bowled over by the beauty of the prose and Monte’s command over every aspect of the form. It isn’t hyperbolic to say that Monte is as good a writer as his father is a cartoonist. That’s why we wanted to publish it.”

This Side of Jordan is Schulz’s second novel. His first, Down by the River, was published by Viking in 1991. Library Journal raved that it compared to Stand by Me and Twin Peaks, and seemed “ready-made for Hollywood.” He spent ten years writing Crossing Eden, from which This Side Of Jordan is drawn as the first of three interconnected novels; the second and third, Fields of Eden and The Big Town, will be published in 2010 and 2011. This Side of Jordan will be published as a jacketed hardcover this September by Fantagraphics Books, with a painted cover by noted cartoonist Al Columbia. Schulz will make his first public appearance promoting the novel at the 2009 Book Expo America, signing galleys on Saturday, May 30, at 2:30PM in the convention’s autographing area. A West Coast tour will follow in the Fall (dates and locations t.b.a.). Schulz received his M.A. in American Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He lives in Northern California.

Joe Graham’s Omni

Recently I met a man by the name of Joe Graham through the modern wonder that is MySpace. Joe’s a 41 year old computer scientist married to a beautiful woman name Jana.  They have six children together and live in Grand Blanc, Michigan.  Joe reads comic books, watches TV, spends as much time as possible with his kids, and enjoys his wife’s cooking. A former military man as well as martial arts enthusiast, Joe wanted to meld these passions with his creative pursuits in describing combat scenes and large scale battle sequences. With his first, self-published novel, Omni – History Begins it looks like he’s achieved just that.

I always admire anyone that can follow their creative hopes while still living a so-called normal life. It takes determination and faith. Joe’s updates at the official Omni site are pretty helpful and encouraging for those wanting to see their name on the front cover of a book, and was kind enough to chat with me about the process of putting it all together.

OmniOkay the first obligatory question – what’s Omni all about?

Here is the synopsis that I used as a press release.  But, before all that the answer was a simple concept.  Time and time again superheroes are the epitome of self-sacrifice, heroism, truthfulness, and all the other characteristics that comic fans have come to love.  How did they get that way? In my superhero universe I wanted to show not the end result, but the process of becoming a superhero.  These are not the first superheroes to be training in this manner and the coaches that train them have done this before.  It’s how it’s done in my world, you find that out when you read it.  It’s more Jedi temple than your parents get killed and you just figure everything out.

620 pages is pretty impressive for a first novel, but do you see this as the first of many adventures in the Omni Universe?

620 large pages with trade paperback size text.  The book is 360,000 words. The largest Potter book was about 275,000 words.  It’s a monster book, but it was meant to setup the series and the war to follow.  I’ve had many people tell me to break it into smaller books, but this isn’t how the story should read.  It’s a complete epic the way it is.  Yes, this is the first of many.

Omni Back CoverCan you give us a breakdown of the main heroes and what they bring to the team?

In the book you meet hundreds of heroes and villains – ask me how many original superhero names I had to come up with!  The team with the main focus has six members and these are their names.

Darkspeed, leader – super speed, tough, smart, darkness powers; he’s a good problem solver and tactician.

Olympian, hitter – great invulnerability and strength, flight, speed; fighting is just another sport to him.

Shi, stealth – repel and attract fields, strength, agility, fighting skills, and invisibility; she was raised by heroes and has the advantage in skills.

Virtuoso, brain – mind reading, telepathy, illusions, and teleportation; raised by artists she takes a non tactical approach to problems.

Bioforce, healer – bio-manipulate herself and others, bio scan others, heal, very smart; her powers have her both fighting and taking care of the wounded.

Midas, anchor – matter transmutation; as the youngest and weakest, he seems underpowered for the team.  As the book goes on his true powers become evident.

logoWhat was the motivation for setting up Rejection Press?

This is an easy one.  I wanted to get my book out to as many people as possible and I’m impatient.  I spoke to someone on line about the publishing process.  They said and I quote, “Expect to send out 200 query letters over a two year period just to have someone read your work.”  I thought about being rejected 200 times and just thought to myself, “I am not into that kind of rejection.”  So, I founded Rejection Press and the book is available on Amazon US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany.  I’ve also got it on the Barnes and Nobles web site and I’m working on getting it on their shelves.  It’s much more work for me, but I didn’t have anyone reject me.

What were the milestones you faced along the way?

Self editing sucks, I couldn’t do it.  I had to line up 20 test readers and ask question after question.  In music terms, it would be more like a live album than a studio washed version.  In some ways it seems more real editing this way.  I know I feel much more confident with the plot after talking it out with so many people.

Joe and OmniWas there any step in the whole process that you weren’t quite ready for?

The patience needed as the project grew.  At first you think, “I’ll be done with this in a few months.”  Then 14 months later you have something you are very proud of, but you really wanted it done awhile back.

How did you stay focused during the time it took to complete the novel?

I would have been lost without two things.  One, I made a detailed 75 page outline at the start.  That way I knew what I was going to write about when I sat down.  Two, my kids enjoyed the book and kept asking for new pages to read as soon as they were done.

What’s your ultimate goal for Omni?

My ultimate goal is for there to be a full blown series of books for Omni.  I can’t think of anything that would be more rewarding than for this first work to help spawn that.

Omni Site

You can check out Omni – History Begins at the official site, or at Rejection Press and you can order it from Amazon.

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