Summer is here and it’s time for fun! To welcome in the season, Black Spot Books has launched its first Street Team, inviting bloggers, book reviewers, the #bookstagram community, and other avid book enthusiasts to join the Crew.
Street Team members are the first to be invited to receive and review upcoming ARCs and share cover reveals, release day blasts, special sales promotions, and more! Our Street Team members also receive exclusive content and are the first people to hear upcoming news, earn special swag, and connect directly with our authors. Plus they get discounts and receive new books before publication date!
Learn more and sign up here.
Sloot Peril has a lot of things to worry over. What he doesn't have to worry about? Well, making some pretty rad friends is one thing.
After reading Peril in the Old Country, the first in Sam Hooker's Terribly Serious Darkness series, thirteen-year-old reader Josh thought it would be just the thing for his school book report. And so, Sloot Peril had the honor or visiting Josh's class, where his fumbling first adventure was regaled in terms of the fantasy's characters, setting, and plot. Author Sam Hooker himself even added to the literary endeavor, sending along a selfie to say 'hi' to Josh's class...and adding a special warning about the use of swear words inside Josh's copy of Peril in the Old Country.
We're honored, grateful, and (as the big bunch of book nerds who have done our fair share of book-reporting) a little bit giddy to share Josh's book report (below), and we can't wait to see his follow up thoughts after finishing Soul Remains (upcoming April 23, 2019). He might just be the coolest old Salt we know. Thanks, Josh!
Images property of Joshua Miller. Shared with permission.
pretty extensively and actually spent time sailing on some old wooden ships so I could get the details of the Riptide perfect. I went to pirate museums from here to Nassau. I even learned how to play (horribly) the hurdy gurdy. I research in batches...I find that I discover new research topics as I write. It makes writing adventurous, and it's part of the reason I write historical fantasy. I just bought a bunch of books on old Southern folk legends in the South for my next project!
What did you edit out of this book?
Honestly, mostly the romance. There is importance in Tom and Merrin's relationship--it parallels her parents' romance and Evangeline and Winters'--but it wasn't the focus of the story. I was much more interested in seeing Merrin evolve from a hesitant orphan to a literal captain in her own right more than I was seeing her fall in love, and I think that was the priority for her, too. I also edited out some of Winters' scenes, as he's such a magnetic character that I was worried he might get too much spotlight in Merrin's story. But don't worry, I have a lot more to say about Winters and Tom and the rest of the crew, so they'll all get their turn.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The historic scenes were the easiest, because they were so research-based that I couldn't wait to get my notes onto paper. The most challenging scenes, ironically, were those between Merrin and her mother, Melusine, and also Evangeline. These are three incredibly strong, resilient, and enduring women--and all so distinctly different. There's a hint of a Triple Goddess structure here, and all of these women approach their feminism very differently, so it was a challenge to keep them all true to themselves, but I think I did it.
So it was no surprise that I missed Mrs. Littlefield calling us to circle time when I was so close to the end of my book. In third grade, though, tattle-tales abound, and another student soon pointed me out to Mrs. Littlefield. Sternly she called me over to her chair, where she was surrounded by the entire class. Her grim demeanor changed, however, when she saw my face streaked with tears. "What's the matter?" she asked. Sobbing, I jerkily informed her that I had just finished Old Yeller. She dropped her own book, opened her arms, and pulled me close. "Well, then, that makes perfect sense," she told me. "We all cry at Old Yeller."
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
This feels like a trick question, since Bury The Lead is all about connections, both real and manipulated. Which is fair, because I only have a trick answer. At face value, my work is primarily composed of stand-alone novels and poetry. However, the questions addressed by all of them are the same. How does love alter us and our reality? What is truth? What price will we pay for liberty - and can we even define what liberty is? What makes us human, and at what point do we leave our humanity behind? I write in many genres, but the questions - those tricky connections - remain the same.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Never let it be said I came late to my melodramatic sensibilities. I was in junior high when I first noted that my great - and ever unrequited - love, who was also a writer, was carrying around a big red-and-black hardbound book everywhere he went. Since true love means reading all the same books (yes, I scoured his library card records, and yes, I was a scary little stalker,) I of course set myself to discovering what it was. It turned out to be Roget's International Thesaurus, Fourth Edition. I saved up my birthday money and bought a copy of my own at the mall bookstore. I quickly discovered its many magical properties, and to this day, it sits ever at my side as I work. Most of the time I find that the word I want is the one already in hand, but just the flavor and feel of the words, sliding over my lips and into my mind, are a delight. And sometimes whole stories arise from the invocation of a single word.
In Concord, Massachusetts, I checked out Walden Pond and the houses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then, for good measure, I went to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to visit their graves. I particularly loved Emerson’s grave. It’s just a boulder with a plaque on it, which is so perfectly Emerson. I also went to the other, bigger, more famous Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Tarrytown, New York. The Washington Irving one. Besides gravestones that have the names of characters from Sleepy Hollow, Irving is buried there, too.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
When I first started writing, I considered a pseudonym or using my initials since, as a female writer, I know I’m at a disadvantage right off the bat. It’s a pretty well proven fact that male writers have a bit of an edge in the literary world. However, I decided not to go that way because, for one thing, I think those days are fading into the past, and for another thing, hiding the fact that I’m a woman just did not sit right with me. I touch on aspects of feminism in all my books, and those ideas wouldn’t come across the same if people thought they were coming from a man.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I should probably blather on about one of Dostoyevsky’s lesser-known books right now, but I’m going to go with the pirate books by Gideon Defoe. He has five. The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists is the first one. They’re perfectly, amazingly, beautifully funny. They’re like Monty Python but in book form and about pirates. The humor is just so right in ways you’d have to read it to understand, so you should probably go ahead and buy all five of them. Right now. You’re welcome.
The pirates all have names like the pirate with a scarf, the pirate with the Brooklyn accent, and the albino pirate. There are running gags about ham, and funny footnotes, and in each book the pirates have lovely, historically inaccurate adventures with the likes of Ahab and Charles Darwin and Lord Byron. They’re written in a casual style that reminds me of The Princess Bride in a way but is also uniquely its own; as a writer who values creativity, humor, pushing boundaries of the established rules of writing, and the use of one’s own true voice, I could gush about these books forever, but I’ll try to restrain myself and end it here. Done.