Thursday, October 13, 2011

Villainous Hordes and Free Giveaway

We have another guest with us today on The Villain's Worst Nightmare. I met Joe on the Kindle Boards and he offered to provide a guest post showcasing the inspiration for his own Villainous Hordes from his exciting new epic space opera series.

Without a doubt, the most badass warriors in all of history were the Mongols. Not only did they build an empire stretching across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, but in 1258 when they conquered Baghdad--then the center of the civilized world--they completely annihilated the city, leveling every building and massacring almost a million people!

When I learned about this in college, I immediately knew that I would have to write a story about it. Instead of setting it in the Medieval Near East, however, I decided to set it in space. I'd already come up with a far-future universe where Earth was a forgotten holy legend, and the idea of a barbarian horde in space fascinated me.

One of my favorite Heinlein novels is Citizen of the Galaxy, which features a society of interstellar traders who spend their entire lives on their starships. Heinlein is a master of the genre, and the way he built the society from the ground up completely entranced me, so that by the end of the book I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life on a starship.

I decided to take the same world building approach when I wrote my spacefaring barbarian horde. First, I tried to imagine what their universe would look like. Terraforming takes a long time, so the fringes of colonized space would feature several uninhabitable or barely habitable planets, with scattered small settlements and outposts. Without the major capital to build large ships from raw material, the only way for a spacefaring society to expand would be to conquer living space from their neighbors. Therefore, barring any central authority to keep the piece, society would soon fragment into a collection of warring tribes, each with their own battle fleets.

War would be a way of life among these people, because they would live and die on their own battleships. As with Heinlein's traders, their society would be extremely hierarchical, since failure to obey orders could threaten the survival of everyone on the ship. Captains would hold nearly God-like status, while slaves and prisoners would be treated like cattle, tossed out the airlock if there weren't enough resources to justify keeping them.

All of this was good and well, but to make them truly terrible, I needed to give them a secret weapon--something that made them almost invincible. The Mongols had horse archers, a type of unit that the Arabs and the Europeans had no idea how to face. For my space barbarians, I decided to make their leaders telepathically linked, so that they could instantaneously communicate by thought.

Battlefields in space aren't like battlefields on Earth; distances can span hundreds of thousands of kilometers (or more), and orbital dynamics and delta-V govern where your battleships can go and how fast they can get there. Throw in jump drives and hyperspace, and you get a situation where the enemy can knock out your entire fleet the instant your defenses get knocked out--if they can coordinate an attack.

Since I decided not to incorporate ansible technology in this universe, most battle fleets would only be able to communicate at the speed of light--a difficult task when your forces are scattered across half a star system. But these starfaring barbarians don't have that problem, and so they can bring their forces to bear almost the instant an opening presents itself.

Once I had all this figured out, I knew I had the makings of something awesome. I named my starfaring barbarians the Hameji, after the Arabic word for "barbarian," and the story practically wrote itself.

Now if this were an epic fantasy, it would probably be about the little boy from Samarkand who forms an unlikely bond with some misfit friends and somehow manages to kill Genghis Khan just as his forces lay siege to Baghdad. Yeah, this isn't that story. My little boy from Samarkand doesn't know it, but his sister has become a concubine to the Hameji overlord, and his brother has been brainwashed and turned into an elite soldier in the Hameji army. With his homeworld slagged in the second chapter, he'll be lucky just to survive.

The book is Bringing Stella Home, and it's the first in an epic space opera series where I hope to bring back the Hameji many more times in the future.


For followers of The Villain's Worst Nightmare, I'm doing a week-long giveaway for the companion novella, Sholpan, which follows the events of the first half of the novel from the viewpoint of Stella, the girl who becomes a Hameji concubine. To download a free copy, select your preferred format on the book's Smashwords page and use the coupon code WN98M (not caps sensitive).

You can also find me online at my blog, One Thousand and One Parsecs.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Interview with Vincent Zandri and Moonlight Rises Giveaway

Today I have the distinct pleasure of having Vincent Zandri, author of the recently released novel Moonlight Rises, swing by my blog on his Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tour. I met Vincent this pasty summer at ThrillerFest and am glad to be able to count him among my friends. He has been wildly successful (he is nearing 200,000 copies of his novels sold worldwide in 2011 alone) because he is an amazing writer.

I mean really, how many authors do you know who can kill off their main character in the first sentence and still craft an exciting story?

I know of at least one.

You have a chance to get an eCopy of Moonlight Rises for your very own. Leave a comment for this posting to be in the running for your fee eCopy and return to this blog on Tuesday November 1st to find out if you won.

And now, without further ado, I give you Vincent Zandri:

Q: Thank you for this interview, Vin. Can you tell us what your latest book, Moonlight Rises, is all about?

A: Moonlight is chased down by a bunch of black clad men wearing President Obama masks. They beat him and insist they he reveal the location of a "zippy box." But he has no idea what they are talking about. They beat him so badly he actually dies. When he's dead he has an out of body experience and sees his girlfriend Lola with another man, and realizes she's been cheating on him. The two plots eventually come together to give Moonlight a nightmare of a case, that is when he eventually floats back into his body and becomes a alive again. Moonlight Rises!

Q: This is the first book I have read, or even know about, where the main character dies on page one and the story is not a flashback, reflection of past events or some alternate dimension. What could have possibly possessed you to even consider taking such a drastic (and unique) measure with your main character for this story?

A: I never considered starting it any other way.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I know the basic premise and it all works itself out along the way.

Q: Your book is set entirely in Albany, New York yet you made your story very international. Can you tell us why you chose that location in particular?

A: Albany is my home base. Around here I'm consider a "local author." And the locals who read me get a kick out of seeing not only their hometown in my books, but occasionally one of them will show up somewhere in the pages.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Absolutely...In the follow up to Moonlight Rises, Blue Moonlight, the story is continued to Florence, Italy, my second home...Now how can I have Moonlight in Florence and not write an action seen on top of the Duomo?

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Oh brother...I don't have the book on me since I'm writing this in a bar...But I'm sure it's something cool and disastrous.

Q: Give me your favorite excerpt from Moonlight Rises?

A: I'll have to do this from memory, but I believe its:

     Life sucks. Then you die.

     Or, in my case, you die and then you live. That sucks too.

Thank you so much for this interview, Vincent. I wish you much success and can't wait for more Dick Moonlight novels.

Purchase Links:
Amazon | BarnesAndNoble

Book Details:
Genre: Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: StoneGate Ink
Publication Date: August 13,2011

“Life sucks. Then you die. Or, if you’re Dick Moonlight, first you die and then you live.”

Dick Moonlight is dead.

Really dead this time, now that three President Obama-masked thugs dressed all in black and communicating only with hand-held voice synthesizers pressed up against their voice boxes have beat the life right out of him inside a dark, downtown Albany alley. What are the thugs after? A box. Size, weight, description unknown. They also want him to stay away from his newest and only client: a handicapped nuclear engineer of dubious Russian heritage by the same of Peter Czech.

But then, now that they’ve killed him, Moonlight’s problems seem to be over. In fact, as he undergoes an out of body experience, his soul floating above his train-wreck of a corpse inside the Albany Medical Center I.C.U., he feels pretty damned good. Great in fact. To make death all the more sweeter, his one true love, Lola, is standing by his bedside. With her long dark hair draping her chiseled face and big round Jackie O sunglasses hiding tear-filled eyes, she appears every bit the grieving sig other. Nothing could make the dead-and-gone Moonlight prouder.

But then something happens. Something bad. A man enters into the I.C.U. Some young guy. He takes hold of Lola’s hand, and pulls her into him. Together, the two share a loving embrace over Moonlight’s dead body. Now, what seemed like a peaceful death is anything but. Moonlight wants back inside his body so he can face-off Some Young Guy and find out if his true love has in fact been cheating on him. At the same time, he wants to find out the true identity of those thugs who killed him so he can exact his revenge. No doubt about it, Moonlight needs to live if he’s going to uncover some pretty painful answers and take care of business.

Like a little kid dropping down a playground slide, Moonlight slides right back inside his bruised and broken body. Opening his eyes the white light blinds him. He feels the pain of his wounds and the pain of his breaking heart.

Life sucks, then you die.

But Moonlight rises.

Author Bio:
Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon Kindle author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, CONCRETE PEARL and the forthcoming MOONLIGHT RISES. He is also the author of the bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described his novels as "...gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting," while the New York Post called THE INNOCENT, "Sensational...Masterful...Brilliant!" In March, April and May of 2011, he sold more than 100,000 Kindle E-Books editions of his novels, and is rapidly closing in on the 200K mark all totaled. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri's work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he divides his time between New York and Florence, Italy.

Connect With Vincent:

The Next Stop for Vincent on his whirlwind tour:
October 9th-Review@For The Love Of Reading