Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sci-Fi Encounters: Interviews with Sheryl Nantus, Laura Kaye, Mur Lafferty

Veronica Scott)

Today I'm talking about several new favorites ranging from a sci-fi/romance/murder mystery to myth-based paranormal to zombies in New Orleans. Leading off my new book collection: the terrific In the Black (Tales from the Edge) by Sheryl Nantus. If this book doesn't give you a Firefly vibe in the best possible way, I'll eat my blaster!

First, a little background about Sheryl: Born and raised in Canada, she met her husband through the online fan fiction community and subsequently moved to the United States. She's won various awards for her Blood of the Pride series, including several second- and third-place Prism Awards from the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA.

And I have to tell you about the book itself, which is an impressive combination of science-fiction, romance and a murder mystery that kept me turning the pages!

Here's the story (courtesy of publisher Carina Press):

When Sam Keller left the military, she ran to the far end of the galaxy. Now she captains the Bonnie Belle, a spaceship full of courtesans who bring a little pleasure to hard-up men on mining colonies. When one of her girls turns up dead, it's Sam's job to find out who killed her, fast.

Marshal Daniel LeClair is as tough as steel and quick on the draw. But when his vacation gets replaced by an assignment to help find the killer, he can't help angling for a little action with the saucy, hard-charging Sam. She's got brains, attitude and a body he wouldn't mind investigating.

Sam, six months lonely, might just indulge him. But the Guild that owns the Belle wants the case closed yesterday. With pressure coming from all quadrants, Sam and her marshal clash over false leads and who's on top. But when the killer threatens the Belle again, romance will have to wait. It's a captain's job to save her crew, no matter the cost.

Let's talk with Sheryl …

Veronica: What's your favorite line from the novel?

Sheryl: "Everyone loves a Mercy woman." It's said a few times by different characters, and I think gives a great example of what the profession is all about. A little geisha, a little prostitution, a classy woman, someone no one would have a problem with — until someone gets killed, of course.

Veronica: What made you decide to write an SFR murder mystery of all things?

Sheryl: I've always liked murder mysteries generally — I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan and decided to mix that with my love of science-fiction and space opera.

The first scene came to me out of the blue (or out of the black, if you prefer,) of the death scene. I won't spoil it for the readers, but that image stuck in my mind and demanded I write the rest of the story around that one powerful image.

Veronica: Who or what were your greatest influences or inspirations?

Sheryl: Firefly, of course! That was the first and biggest influence on the book, followed by the recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica and all the great space shows I've grown up with, from Star Trek to Stargate SG-1 and so on.

Nathan Fillion with Adam Balwin and Gina Torres in "Firefly."(Photo: Michael Lavine, Fox)

Veronica: Nothing wrong with that roster! Is this the start of a series? Can you share some of what we might see in the future?

Sheryl: In the Black is the first in the Tales from the Edge series, each dealing with a different member of the Bonnie Belle's crew. The next book, In the Void, comes out in October and deals with Sean Harrison — the medic/courtesan and an emergency call for help that places the entire crew in danger.

Veronica: What's your guilty pleasure?

Sheryl: Chocolate. Chooooccooooooollllaaaaatttteeeee ... *sighs*

Veronica: How do you celebrate when you finish a novel?

Sheryl: Usually the hubby and I go out for a nice dinner. We've been together for over 20 years and he was my first real fan — when I was writing fan fiction decades ago, he wrote me a nice e-mail and I wrote him back and so forth and we got married! He's my biggest supporter and I include him in every dedication because he's such a sweetie ...

... did that answer the question?

Veronica: Excellent answer. Everyone should be so lucky to have such a devoted fan close at hand to celebrate with!

What book by another author would you recommend to readers who are new to reading science-fiction and/or fantasy romance?

Sheryl: Right off the top of my head, I'd suggest Linnea Sinclair. Her Dock Five Universe books are faboo and a must if you like hot military sci-fi romance!

It's a great time right now for those looking for science-fiction romance because there are so many new and excellent authors out there. I'm thrilled to be joining their ranks and hope to keep on writing more Tales from the Edge stories for years to come!

Find out more about Sheryl and her books at


Another recent book, East of Ecstasy by Laura Kaye, completed a much-beloved series featuring an intriguing set of characters from Greek mythology. I'm always excited by stories using myths as source material. Let's start with Laura's background, as she writes quite a variety of genres: A USA TODAY and New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, Laura grew up amid family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing her life-long fascination with storytelling and the supernatural. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and a cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Here's the blurb about East of Ecstasy (courtesy of Entangled):

Annalise Fallston made peace with postponing her big-city dreams to care for her ill father, but lately she's been filled with a restlessness not even her beloved painting dispels. Worse, the colors don't speak to her as they always have, and all her efforts produce dark, foreboding images of a dangerous man and a terrifying future.

Devlin Eston, black-souled son of the evil Anemoi Eurus, is the only one who can thwart his father's plan to overthrow the Supreme God of Wind and Storms. But first, Dev must master the unstable powers he's been given. Distrusted and shunned by his own divine family, he never expected to find kindness and passion in the arms of a mortal.

But Devlin's love puts Annalise in the path of a catastrophic storm, and in the final Armageddon showdown between the Anemoi and Eurus, sacrifices will be made, hearts broken, and lives changed forever...or lost.

Let's talk with Laura …

Veronica: What's your favorite line from your new book?

Laura: This was not an easy choice, but I'll go with:

For the record, Devlin said, the tone of his thought almost a growl, I would've given just about anything for your first time truly flying in the wind to have been with just me.

Veronica: What's your guilty pleasure?

Laura: The Walking Dead is my favorite TV guilty pleasure! And Ben & Jerry's is my favorite food guilty pleasure! Ben & Jerry's: I'm a chocolate-chip cookie dough girl. Walking Dead: Daryl, naturally! ;)

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon and Danai Gurira as Michonne on "The Walking Dead."(Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3, AMC)

Veronica: Good choice with Daryl! I'd be sticking close to him and that crossbow myself.

How do you celebrate when you finish a novel?

Laura: By sleeping! LOL Sad, but true.

Veronica: What's on your Bucket List?

Laura: See the Northern Lights. Do a lot of traveling. Drive cross-country. So many things!

Veronica: What book by another author would you recommend to readers who are new to reading science-fiction and/or fantasy romance?

Laura: Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series, starting with Obsidian.

Find out more about Laura and her books at


And my final interview today is with Mur Lafferty, whose Ghost Train to New Orleans (The Shambling Guides) was a fun read and very timely since I'm going to NOLA myself for a writers conference very soon. I hope my adventures there are a bit less exotic than the ones Mur's heroine has!

Mur is a podcaster and writer from Durham, N.C. She made her name with podcasting (I Should Be Writing, The Angry Robot Podcast, and Escape Pod, the premier SF podcast magazine) and has written for magazines, role-playing games, and audio and video podcasts. She's received a number of awards, including the 2013 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

I really enjoyed Ghost Train to New Orleans, found a new skill I desperately want to have — "citytalker" — and will admit the romance was not front and center (sorry). I was so beguiled by the world-building and New Orleans as depicted herein that I had to share it with you.

Here's the blurb (courtesy of Orbit):

Zoe Norris writes travel guides for the undead. And she's good at it too -- her new-found ability to talk to cities seems to help. After the success of The Shambling Guide to New York City, Zoe and her team are sent to New Orleans to write the sequel.

Work isn't all that brings Zoe to the Big Easy. The only person who can save her boyfriend from zombism is rumored to live in the city's swamps, but Zoe's out of her element in the wilderness. With her supernatural colleagues waiting to see her fail, and rumors of a new threat hunting city talkers, can Zoe stay alive long enough to finish her next book?

Let's talk with Mur …

Veronica: What's your favorite line from your newest book?

Mur: Our hero Zoe is discussing with Opal why a vampire turns a human:

"You turned him in order to keep talking about books?" Zoe was incredulous.

"Dostoevsky wrote some very long books," Opal replied patiently.

Veronica: Guilty pleasure?

Mur: In food, it's often fast food, and American cheese, often together. With television, it's Phineas and Ferb (I'm a mom, I see a lot of awful kids TV and this is the best there is). And with video games, my guilty pleasure is replaying games incessantly to test out different parts of gameplay. And in books, it's Christmas stories. SF, romance, mystery, whatever the genre, if it's got Christmas in it, I'm there.

Veronica: Nice set of guilty pleasures you've got going there!

How do you celebrate when you finish a novel?

Mur: Usually a nice bottle of wine and a book or video game I've been eyeing. I often have a debriefing over coffee with a close writer friend because we both recognize that ending a book is both exciting but can give you a sense of letdown and it's good to have a friend there.

Veronica: What's on your Bucket List?

Mur: Read all the books on my to-be-read list, go diving off the coast of Australia, learn how to scuba dive (not in that order), learn how to landscape so my yard doesn't look like a tragedy, learn how to bake bread, run a marathon.

Veronica: What book by another author would you recommend to readers who are new to reading science fiction and/or fantasy romance?

Mur: I love work by Diana Rowland and Seanan McGuire. Both write great urban fantasy, and books about zombies (McGuire writes horror under the name Mira Grant). I'd recommend My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Rowland if you like slightly twisted humor/romance, and Rosemary and Rue by McGuire if you like more urban fantasy/adventure with a touch of romance.

Find out more about Mur and her books at


If you haven't seen the 2013 movie Warm Bodies, it's an excellent little romance with a very different take on the whole zombie experience and how love can save the world. Not icky, I promise!

Amazon best-seller Veronica Scott is a two-time recipient of the SFR Galaxy Award and has written a number of science-fiction and paranormal romances. Her latest release is Magic of the Nile. You can find out more about her and her books at Please e-mail Veronica at about content related to this column. Due to the volume of mail, e-mails may not be answered personally, but all will be read.