It’s rough being a Japanese vampire! Julie Hutchings talks “Running Away”

Running Away - Julie Hutchings

Y’all, I meet a lot of cool people on the internet. And one of the coolest, most instantly adorable writers I’ve glommed onto this year is Julie Hutchings, who writes rad new adult paranormal novels, edits other people’s books, and LIKES TO TALK IN ALL CAPS ON TWITTER. Which of course I love.

And today, Julie has a brand-new book out!  *throws confetti*

And I get to interview her about it!  *throws streamers*

So, first off, here’s the official summary for Running Away:

Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.

You already added it to Goodreads, didn’t you?  Good.

Now! Enough of the official shenanigans. Let’s talk to the lady herself!

Let’s begin with the most clichéd possible question: Where did you get the idea for this book?

Ha! Jesus, I’ll give you the most cliched answer: it just showed up! It was the natural progression for Eliza, and it’s set in Japan where of course, the Shinigami vampires originated. There’s a thick mythology under the surface too, that worked coincidentally a little too well with the plot, ancient Japanese mythological figures that showed up and refused to leave. A lot of coincidences happened with this book that made it, if I have to be so annoying, perfect for the story.

Running Away is a sequel (to Running Home, for those playing along at home), and there’s a third book in the pipe. What have you found most rewarding and/or most difficult about writing a series?

The rewarding part is definitely amassing a bit of a cult following and being able to surprise them, satisfy them with some answers in the following books. I enjoy one upping myself, too! Readers so far are feeling Running Away is actually better than Running Home, and I am totally cool with that. The challenge is in making sure to give enough of the original story while not overloading with a bunch of exposition. Tough stuff.

Some folks don’t buy that sci-fi/fantasy/horror novels have anything important to say under the braincandy shell. Which is obviously bullshit. What are the Serious Ideas you’re trying to get across in this book?

That no matter how bleak and out of control circumstances may be, there are always choices. They may be terrible, but they exist. More importantly, if choices aren’t good enough, make your own. Take your world into your own hands. There’s always a way.

In today’s book world, writing novels simply isn’t enough to build an author’s career – we’ve got to branch out, experiment, and get all guerrilla-creative. What are your grand plans and big dreams for this series? Any other media you’d like to test it on?

I suck at that stuff so much. I’m always open to ideas, but I suck at executing them. Book trailers, for instance. Suck at execution. Kristen Strassel, my writing and blogging partner, is the brains behind this operation. She knows all The Stuff. I’ll try anything though. I’m sort of a jumper inner to things.

And just to wrap it up for those folks with short attention spans, what’s the Too Long; Didn’t Read version of everything you want to say about Running Away? 140 characters, max!

Prepare for the death and betrayal of death gods themselves, consuming passions of all kinds and a brand of vampires you’ve never imagined. (Was that 140 characters? Screw it.)

Pick up Running Away on Amazon

OR start with Running Home! (or get both)


Author Julie HutchingsJulie’s debut novel, Running Home, giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie.  Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.  Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and her blog.


 

Be a Good Dog: Eddy Webb talks about the Pugmire RPG

Pugs of Westeros by pupstar sonoma - pugs in Game of Thrones gear - Pugmire

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Pugs in Game of Thrones outfits?”

Yes! Dogs with swords!

Today, I’m interviewing game designer, short fiction writer, Sherlockian, and all-around cool guy, Eddy “with a Y” Webb. At this year’s GenCon, he announced that he’ll be working with Onyx Path Publishing to create a new roleplaying game entirely populated by domestic animals.  Dogs and cats, living together – mass hysteria! It’s going to be totally awesome, and I can’t wait to beta test it (hinthint).  But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Without further ado, here’s Eddy to tell you allllll about it.

Let’s begin at the beginning with the most clichéd possible question: Where did you get the idea for Pugmire?

Bits of it have been rolling around in my brain for years: the name “Pugmire” was something Rose used in her D&D game years back, and I had a desire to work on a fantasy game that was different from the traditional “elves and dwarves and orcs” tropes. But it really came into place when we were moving between houses.  The house we wanted to move to wasn’t ready before the house we sold needed to be vacated. The company I used to work for (CCP, hf.) had a company apartment in town, and they let us use it for the week or so we were between houses. This meant that I was stuck in a one-room apartment with two pugs and a cat. On top of this, my laptop met with a fatal beer accident, so all I had was a Chromebook to keep my occupied.  So I’m spending a lot of time observing my pets, and since I couldn’t get to any of my writing projects, I started a new one, just thinking about the mindset of dogs. At one point I was reading up on AKC breed groups, and was struck by how well they matched up with D&D classes. At that point a lot of those ideas coalesced in my brain, and Pugmire was born.

I have to admit that I laughed when you told me the original idea for the game. I mean, come on – dogs in armor fighting evil cats? But it’s done straight where it could be cutesy, and it totally works. Tell me about that decision. Are there serious ideas you’re trying to get across with the game?

There are. The first is that there isn’t a pure Good or Evil in the game — even the Cats are just another race that the Dogs don’t trust. It really revolves around a commandment: Be a Good Dog. It sounds so simple, and it’s something we can connect to because we want to have good dogs in our lives (if we’re dog people). But if you take it as a religious tenet, it becomes more interesting. Who is a Good Dog? Who gets to decide that? What does that entail?  Also, since this is a game about dogs, I can also explore some other ideas that would be harder to address in a more human-centric setting, like racism, sexism, and ethics. The game isn’t all about that — if you want to play a badass Great Pyrenees with a battle-axe, you absolutely can — but it’s more than just a silly action-adventure game about cute animals. Books like Maus, Mouse Guard, and the Nimh series have been inspirations.

You’ve written across a broad spectrum of genres and styles—gaming books, short stories, fan-based non-fiction—both as collaborations and solo. What have you found most rewarding and/or most difficult about developing and writing Pugmire?

It’s the same — developing my own world, for me, from scratch. A lot of my work has been in other people’s sandboxes, or are projects set at least partially in the modern world. This is the first time I’m building something purely speculative from the ground up. That’s extremely challenging, but it’s also incredibly freeing. A lot of times I’m just tossing out ideas because they sound good, and then I discover they actually work extremely well. It’s even better when I pitch them to some of my friends, and they get even more excited. I’m loving the process, but it’s very new to me.

Having been privileged to peek behind the curtain of Pugmire’s development, I’m struck by its massive possibilities. Because you’re creating a world with a history rather than a set of rules with story crammed around it, it seems easy to branch out into other media (novels, video games, film). What are your grand plans and big dreams for this project?

Indeed! I’ve already written a short story (which will be in the Sojourn Anthology, volume 2), and I’m working next on the game, but I have lots of ideas. I plan to chat with an established comic writer about ideas for a comic book, and I’ve got enough friends in the video game industry to kick around a potential video game. I also live in Atlanta, which is a hub for cartoon companies, so even a cartoon is possible. The sky’s the limit!

And just to wrap it up for those folks with short attention spans, what’s the Too Long; Didn’t Read version of everything you want to say about Pugmire? Let’s shoot for a tweetable – 140 characters, max.

Augh! Only 140 characters?! Uh… let’s try this: Dogs have inherited our world in the far future. They explore this strange and dangerous world, while always trying to be Good Dogs.


 

Eddy Webb - writer, designer, consultant

Eddy Webb (with a “y,” thank you) is an award-winning writer, game designer, and lifelong Sherlockian. Since 2002, he has worked on over 100 products, including Lead Developer and writer for Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition and five years as Content Designer on the World of Darkness MMO. Today he is a freelance writer, designer, and consultant for video and role-playing games, but he cranks out words for other things in his spare time. He lives a sitcom life with his wife, his roommate, a supervillain cat, and an affably stupid pug. He can be found at eddyfate.com.