Tesla and Holmes: An Interview with Author Martin Hill Ortiz

Martin Hill Ortiz has written many novels that explore the thrilling side of history. Açedrex editor Jessica Knauss asked him about his process and his literary heroes.  A Predator’s Game debuted on March 30.

 

JK: What’s special or different about writing a prequel? Was the inspiration or process the same?

MHO: While putting together the publicity for the first book, A Predatory Mind, I assembled the research I had undertaken into the lives of Nikola Tesla and Henry H. Holmes and I realized just how fascinating they are. They had taken up maybe ten percent of the first novel and they were the best part. I decided to devote an entire novel to their interaction.

Instead of a prequel, I chose to take an event that was mentioned in passing in the first novel—that Holmes had gone to New York and stolen Tesla’s invention—and make that into a full story. The form is sometimes called a “throughquel,” but that’s an ugly word.

JK: Do you feel a special responsibility to get it accurate because you’re using real people as characters?

MHO: My answer might seem strange: with Tesla, yes; with Holmes, no.

Tesla was wonderfully contradictory: two parts saint, a man who set as his goal the betterment of the world; and one part intolerant who couldn’t deal with individuals. As Linus Van Pelt once said in an old Peanuts comic: “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.” I wanted to be true to Tesla’s character.

Holmes, on the other hand, was an inveterate liar and exactly who he was is up for debate. It is possible he was a rank, measly sadist and I didn’t want to write him out that way—I didn’t want to spend time with that character. It is possible he was not terribly bright. Medical education was different in the nineteenth century. In 1869, when some at Harvard Medical School proposed to include a written final exam, the dean complained that “more than half of them [the students] can barely write.” I created a Holmes character for my novel who was more suave, more intelligent, and more self-disciplined than the murderer. I made him reflect Moriarty.

 

I have posted extensively on my blog about the lives of Tesla and Holmes.

JK: Do you write for yourself or for your readers?

MHO: I write for my readers. I want to tell a good story and I am happy enough when that is accomplished. I am the first of my readers, so I am demanding in satisfying myself.

JK: What is your least favorite word?

MHO: Unmicrowaveable.

JK: Do you have a favorite author?

MHO: I used to. I used to read up everything a particular author has written. Two of these were James Thurber and Milan Kundera. Now I find myself author jumping, trying to sample a hundred and one authors to see more of what’s out there. I spent a considerable time last year reading selections from the list of the all-time best mysteries. It was a topic of my blog and I managed to scratch off my reading list another forty of the hundred best.

This year I have told myself I will read up on the works by female fiction authors and more contemporary novels. So I’ve been reading Laurie R. King, Sarah Waters, and Marisha Pessl, along with some others.

JK: What are you currently working on?

MHO: I have the sequel to Never Kill A Friend almost finished. Then I’ll crank a short story or two I’ve been waiting to write. After that I’ve been plotting a Y/A magical realism novel in the back of my mind.

JK: We’ll all look forward to those!

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A Predator’s Game is available in ebook and softcover in the following venues:

Kindle | NookKobo

Indiebound SoftcoverSoftcover | Amazon Softcover

Coming March 30: A Thrilling and Cerebral Adventure

APG 1Great news for fans of Martin Hill Ortiz’s exceptionally imaginative thrillers!

A Predator’s Game, long-awaited prequel to A Predatory Mind, will be released March 30. You can preorder it now for Kindle or Kobo and get ready to chase clues all over turn-of-the-century Manhattan to end up at the classic venue for thrillers, Niagara Falls.

Kindle PreOrder | Kobo PreOrder

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on a different, evil Holmes. Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the city. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger, and invention, Conan Doyle, Tesla, and the madman engage in a deadly game of wits.

Surprises at every turn and many moments that are so clever, you’ll wonder how the author came up with it. He must’ve had Arthur Conan Doyle at his shoulder as he wrote. Don’t miss it!

Softcover | Amazon Softcover | Other stores coming soon! Request it at your local bookstore!

New Amazing Book Available for Bargain Preorder

Unpredictable WorldsAçedrex is proud to present a new book of short stories!

A teacher controls her students with an edible microchip. A reporter turns into a rhinoceros. A couple’s efforts to eat local go frighteningly awry. If you’re looking to be surprised, puzzled, or just plain entertained, pick up this omnibus. There’s something for everyone!

More than twenty years in the making, Unpredictable Worlds contains all of Jessica Knauss’s published and prize-winning short fiction as of March 2015 and a few of her best stories never before seen in print or ebook. Zany plots and outrageous characters will stretch your belief and tug at your heart.

WARNING: These stories contain exaggeration, elision, and disregard for “the real world.” Some even exhibit a tone of blatant optimism. However, they respect human speech patterns, admire good grammar, and hold proper punctuation in the highest regard.

Unpredictable Worlds will release for Kindle on May 15, but you can preorder it now at the special reduced price of only 99 cents. Save 66% off the post-release price and get this unique book delivered to your device on release day so you can start enjoying it before anyone else!

Dragons and a Princess with New Artwork

SAMSUNG TECHWIN DIGIMAX-230

The Trossachs, Scotland by Shirley MacKenzie

I asked Seymour Hamilton, author of The Laughing Princess, how it came about that he met Shirley MacKenzie, who did the lovely new cover and many other drawings for that book. This is how he explains it:

I met Shirley MacKenzie at a reading soiree at a now defunct indie bookseller which had our books on consignment.  Shirley had written and illustrated a moving account of her search for her birth mother and father. The emotional impact of Shirley’s story was in her drawings, which are at the intersection between personal and universal.  She does not tell her reader what to think or feel: she presents evocative images of loss, longing and fulfillment that haunt me still.

"Ryll's Fortune"

“Ryll’s Fortune”

Shirley bought a copy of my book, The Laughing Princess, and was moved to draw a scene from one of the stories, “The Wizard and the Fire Dragon,” and later another, “Ryll’s Fortune.” I was amazed to see how close her vision came to the one in my mind when I was writing.  Her charming rendition of The Littlest Dragon, the character that ties the twelve stories together, is now the cover art for both The Laughing Princess and the Spanish edition, La Princesa valiente.

Cover art for Shirley's book, Orphan Sage

Cover art for Shirley’s book, Orphan Sage

Shirley’s search for her birth parents took her to England and Scotland, where she travelled with sketchbook in hand.  In London, her paintings feature views of and through the peculiarly English iron railings that most people see but do not notice.  In Scotland, she captured the muted colours of a Scottish autumn with a vividness that refreshes the memories of those who have been there.

Back in Canada, she continued to find ways of taking us through the picture frame into the world that she sees in such vivid detail.  Her paintings of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have the quality of a shared experience, when one person says, “Look at that!” and both enjoy the moment.

Illustration is Shirley’s latest enthusiasm.  She started with well-known children’s classics such as The Little Prince, Charlotte’s Web and Treasure Island.  Her drawing of a pivotal emotional moment when Jim Hawkins makes an important step towards manhood illuminates the text, making us aware that Robert Louis Stevenson was not just writing adventure: his story has emotional depth that we often lose in the many films, cartoons and re-interpretations of the famous tale.

The most poignant example of Shirley’s ability to read into the deeper dimensions of a story came when she drew a couple of incidents in stories by Spider Robinson.  I was impressed by the appropriateness of her treatment of these emotion-laden scenes, and sent copies of them to Spider, who I have known since we both lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory concept by Shirley MacKenzie

Here is a part of his response:

“I am seriously mind-boggled.  I just sat and looked at that sentence for ten minutes, trying to figure out what to follow it with.  I failed, but have decided to keep on typing, anyway.  But mind-boggled pretty much sums it up. The surely accidental resemblance of Erin to my granddaughter Marisa is uncanny.  (For which reason I have forwarded it to her mom in Connecticut.) And that happens to be the way I was wearing my hair and beard when I wrote that book.  And I lived in converted school buses on Stephen’s Farm long enough to recognize the interior of one when I see it.  Right down to the inevitable tape-patches on the seats. What a beautiful piece! If we ever succeed in getting the e-book rights to that book back from Bantam, that’s the cover I’ll recommend for it to my agent. Please tell Shirley I am highly pleased and deeply moved.  And thank her from me, big time.  It never fails to awe me when some words I stuck together end up inspiring a work of art.  Especially one that good.”

9781937291464The Laughing Princess is available with its beautiful new cover in soft cover: Soft cover | Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound (shows the old cover, but never fear!)

And in ebook:  Kindle  | Kindle CanadaKindle UK | Nook | Kobo | Sony | Google PlayBook Country | and Apple iBooks

Y en español: Amazon | Amazon España | Barnes & Noble | Pídela en tu librería preferida

Kindle | Kindle Canada | Kindle España | Kindle México | Nook | Kobo

All images in this post are © Shirley MacKenzie and must not be used without permission. Please see Shirley’s other work at artspace59.com.

Dragones en tapa blanda

TLP Esp

Han estado esperando muy pacientes. Han leído y disfrutado de “La bruja y la moza de la taberna.” Han comprado copias digitales.

Por fin llegó el momento que tanto esperaban: el libro infantil más interesante del año, con princesas, dragones, playas, piratas, un mago y una bruja ¡ya llegó en tapa blanda!

Petra y Daniel tienen poco interés en el pueblo pintoresco de pescadores que sus padres los han obligado a visitar de vacaciones. Ellos no saben que este pueblo tiene un legado de dragones.

Más divertido que la exploración de museos o ruinas pintorescas, una pequeña piedra en una playa desierta les ofrece la posibilidad de realizar magia, discutir con seres elementales, robar corazones, ir a la guerra, escribir poesía, escapar de un surcador de mares, y navegar el barco la Princesa valiente. Su mundo gris de llovizna nunca será lo mismo.

Del genio del autor famoso de la Trilogía Astreya, estas historias fantásticas y ligeramente melancólicas resonarán con las preguntas profundas que te haces mientras realices las tareas diarias.

“Una colección encantadora y original con personajes memorables y lenguaje elegante.”  —V. E. Ulett, autora de Captain Blackwell’s Prize

“Inteligentes y elegantes cuentos… Este libro debe ser considerado un clásico de la fantasía.”  —Spider Robinson, premio internacional en literatura fantástica

Amazon | Amazon España | Barnes & Noble | Pídela en tu librería preferida

Y sigue disponible en todos los formatos digitales:

Kindle | Kindle Canada | Kindle España | Kindle México | Nook | Kobo

Las ediciones electrónicas de La Princesa valiente (And meanwhile, in English…)

TLP Esp¡Llegó el gran debut!  El resultado de mucho trabajo duro fundado en el amor de estos cuentos tan especiales, La Princesa valiente de Seymour Hamilton ya se encuentra a la venta en ediciones electrónicas. ¡La edición en tapa blanda llegará pronto, también!

Petra y Daniel tienen poco interés en el pueblo pintoresco de pescadores que sus padres los han obligado a visitar de vacaciones. Ellos no saben que este pueblo tiene un legado de dragones. Más divertido que la exploración de museos o ruinas pintorescas, una pequeña piedra en una playa desierta les ofrece la posibilidad de realizar magia, discutir con seres elementales, robar corazones, ir a la guerra, escribir poesía, escapar de un bucanero, y navegar el barco la Princesa valiente.

Su mundo gris de llovizna nunca será lo mismo.

Del genio del autor famoso de la Trilogía Astreya, estas historias fantásticas y ligeramente melancólicas resonarán con las preguntas profundas que te haces mientras realices las tareas diarias.

Puedes leer más sobre y por Seymour Hamilton yendo a la página SeymourHamilton.com. Allí encontrarás links para descargas de podcasts gratuitos de La Trilogía Astreya y La Princesa valiente, leídos por su autor en inglés.

Kindle | Kindle Canada | Kindle España | Kindle México | Nook | Kobo

9781937291464Meanwhile, in English… The Laughing Princess‘s ebook editions have undergone a facelift with new covers based on the artwork of Shirley Mackenzie. They match the gorgeous Spanish editions.

Check them out in their accustomed e-stores (we’re still waiting on some of them), and also in expanded distribution to Book Country (with more to come!). A new soft cover edition should come out before the end of the year — watch this space to find out when!

Kindle  | Kindle UK | Kindle CanadaNook | Kobo | Book Country

¡Los más vendidos de 2012! Bestsellers of 2012!

Para terminar el año y empezar el 2013 (número con suerte) con mucha esperanza, parece interesante presentarles los libros más vendidos de Açedrex del 2012.

To finish the old year and start a a lucky 2013 with lots of hope, it behooves us to list Açedrex’s bestsellers of 2012.

Juana cover1. Historia de la célebre reina doña Juana de España, llamada vulgarmente “la Loca”

¡Muchas gracias a este autor anónimo! Me sigue sorprendiendo el entusiasmo por este título, pero es natural, después de todo, que los lectores de hoy quieren leer una biografía corta y fácil de leer de este personaje histórico tan importante.

El Abencerraje Esp Cover2. El Abencerraje

La primera versión electrónica de este libro clásico, que nos puede enseñar tanto hoy en día. ¡Muchas gracias a otro autor anónimo!

Novelas cover3. Novelas ejemplares / Exemplary Novels Español & English – Miguel de Cervantes

La mejor literatura en dos idiomas. The best literature in two languages.

Don QuijoteEl Gaucho Cover4. EMPATE: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha – Miguel de Cervantes y El gaucho Martín Fierro – José Hernández

Dos personajes ingeniosos vendieron el mismo número de ejemplares. Dos libros de los máa grandes. No hay otro que los iguale.

97819372915255. Los cuatro viajes y el testamento – Cristóbal Colón

Es importante leer las mismas palabras de esta figura tan polémica, y ahora los libros electrónicos ayudan a diseminar la verdad y que cada lector decida por su cuenta.

Nolicover6. Noli me tangere – José Rizal

Otro libro importante que no se puede ignorar.

Top 207. The Abencerraje: A New Translation

Although more copies of this book went out to the public than any other, most of them were complimentary. Enough money changed hands to put this title into seventh place.

More amazing books await you in 2013! Happy New Year!

¡Feliz y prospero 2013 a todos! En el nuevo año, podrás reír con Superhéroes sin trabajo del autor argentino Manuel Arduino Pavón y soñar con las versiones en español Un hogar en los árboles de Jessica Knauss y La princesa que se ríe de Seymour Hamilton. ¡Y muchos más!

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