The promotional tour for Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 continues at the site of digital book distributor Smashwords, with an interview with author Steven A. Roman (that’s me). That’s where you’ll find me discussing Pan’s adventures, as well as topics like the benefits of being an indie author and publisher, my favorite books, and what’s my greatest joy as a writer.
Smashwords is the company through which StarWarp Concepts makes Blood Reign and its preceding volume, Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1, available for sale through iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, and Oyster Books (as well as at Smashwords itself). Head on over to Smashwords and give the interview a read.
And in case you hadn’t heard the news, Smashwords isn’t the only place you’ll find me chatting about my work. Over at my Goodreads author page I’ve activated the “Ask the Author” function. So if you’re a Goodreads member and you’ve got a question about The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy, or any of the other projects I’ve written over the years, head over there now and ask away!
Today, monster lover and horror artist supreme Tom Sutton, who passed away in 2002, would have turned 78. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, let me tell you, the man was one of the kings of horror art, especially in the 1960s and ’70s: the original artist of Vampirella; artist for Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, Godzilla, and Man-Thing, as well as the one issue of Marvel Premiere that starred Alice Cooper; and the writer/artist of many original stories—as well as occasional cover painter—for Charlton Comics (some recently reprinted in the collection Tom Sutton’s Creepy Things), and adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe stories for other publishers.
And if you head over to the StarWarp Concepts blog, today’s post details some of the interactions I had with Tom, including one of the last projects he worked on before his death. As the saying goes, the guy was a real character—and that’s part of what made him so awesome.
Happy birthday, Tom!
A special programming reminder: This Saturday, April 18, I’ll be appearing on the popular podcast series Sci-Fi Saturday Night. It’s not a live event, though—we’ll be taping the show on Wednesday night for broadcast on Saturday. Showrunner The Dome and his crew of pop-culture lovers will be interviewing me about Pan’s latest adventure, Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback: Book 2, and probably a few other topics as well. Don’t miss it!
In case you’re interested in hearing my previous appearance, which took place back in December 2011 to promote Blood Feud, the first Pandora Zwieback novel, you can check it out by visiting the Sci-Fi Saturday Night website and downloading it from right here. I come in along the thirty-minute mark. And then be sure to tune in on April 18, 2015 for my triumphant return!
And in case you hadn’t heard the news, over at my Goodreads author page I’ve activated the “Ask the Author” function. So if you’re a Goodreads member and you’ve got questions of your own about The Saga of Pandora Zwieback or any of the other projects I’ve written over the years, head over there now and ask away!
The first review has come in for Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2—and naturally it’s a positive one! Over at the vampire-centric site Taliesin Meets the Vampires, reviewer and site owner Andrew Boylan—who also gave a glowing review to Blood Feud, the first novel in the series—shares his opinion of Pan’s latest adventure:
“If the first volume took some deliberate pacing steps to build Pandora’s character, this volume eschews that as it thunders along at breakneck speed, barely pausing for breath at any given time (and, I must say, the volume was devoured at speed as well). The book doesn’t suffer for this…I thoroughly enjoyed this volume.”
You can read the entire review here.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with this project (and if you are, how did you wind up at this site? ), The Saga of Pandora Zwieback is my young adult, dark-urban-fantasy novel series, starring a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets a shape-shifting monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world.
Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is the beginning of Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents, and her friends, are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:
Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan faces even greater challenges as the clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover!
Visit each of the titles’ product pages for more information, including sales links and sample chapters.
The latest edition of New York and New Jersey’s zombie-tastic Walker Stalker Con returns to New Jersey’s Meadowlands this December, and StarWarp Concepts will be making its debut appearance there!
A spin-off of the popular Walker Stalkers Podcast, this mega-con franchise—with stops in Atlanta, Boston, and other major cities—mainly celebrates the shambling pop-culture juggernaut known as The Walking Dead, but it’s also a gathering spot for horror fans of all types. And with Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 and Lorelei Presents: House Macabre released this year, it sounds like the perfect venue to introduce horror aficionados to the magic of SWC’s other titles. And wait’ll they find out that among the dangers Pan faces in Blood Reign is an attack by a zombie horde—only these ravenous monsters are addicted to sweets!
Walker Stalker Con takes place at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, in Secaucus, NJ, from Friday, December 4, to Sunday, December 6. As always, look for the distinctive Pandora Zwieback banner. For more information, including travel directions and ticket purchases, visit the Walker Stalker Con website. I won’t know the location of the SWC booth until we get closer to the event, but when I find out, so will you.
Hope to see you there!
The promotional tour for Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 continues to take shape, now that I’ve been booked to make a return appearance to the popular podcast series Sci-Fi Saturday Night; my episode will air Saturday, April 18. Showrunner “The Dome”—who fell in love with Pan after reading her debut in the first novel, Blood Feud—and the rest of his crew of pop-culture enthusiasts will be chatting me up about Pan’s latest adventure, and probably cover a few other topics, as well.
In case you’re interested in hearing my previous appearance, which took place back in December 2011 to promote Blood Feud, you can check it out by visiting the Sci-Fi Saturday Night website and downloading it from right here. I come in along the thirty-minute mark. And then be sure to tune in on April 18, 2015 for my triumphant return!
And in case you hadn’t heard the news, over at my Goodreads author page I’ve activated the “Ask the Author” function. So if you’re a Goodreads member and you’ve got questions of your own about The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Lorelei: Sects and the City, or any of the other projects I’ve written over the years, head over there now and ask away!
Stop the presses! The promotional tour for Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 continues this week in print and digital forms at the newspaper Queens Gazette, with an interview with author and Queens resident Steven A. Roman (that’s me). If you’re in the borough and pick up a copy of the paper (free at many outlets), you’ll find it in the column “Local-Express.” If you’re not a Queens resident, you can find the online version right here at the Gazette’s website.
Being interviewed by a Queens newspaper makes perfect sense: The ’Warp’s office (okay, our PO box) is located in Dave Zwieback’s Sunnyside neighborhood, close to the White Castle burger joint where Pan and her fellow Fiend Club members hang out; Dave’s museum, Renfield’s House of Horrors and Mystical Antiquities, is based in Long Island City, within steps of the UA Kaufman movie theater, Kaufman-Astoria Studios, and the Museum of the Moving Image (not to mention it’s just a few blocks from the offices of the Queens Gazette); and the car-chase scene in Blood Reign starts at the museum and ends up at an abandoned airfield in another neighborhood, College Point. For a dark-urban-fantasy adventure about Goth chicks, shape-shifting monster hunters, and vampire-clan shoot-outs, you can’t get more Queens-centric than that!
And in case you weren’t aware, over at my Goodreads author page I’ve activated the “Ask the Author” function. So if you’re a Goodreads member and you’ve got your own questions about The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Lorelei: Sects and the City, or any of the other projects I’ve written over the years, head over there now and ask away!
In case you hadn’t heard (and seriously, how could you have not, at this point, on this website?), Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2—the highly anticipated follow-up to Blood Feud, the critically acclaimed first novel starring the teen Goth monster hunter—was recently published by StarWarp Concepts. (Yes, we also mentioned it quite a bit over there, too.)
So with that in mind, it only seemed natural to have SWC editorial director (and Blood Reign editor) K. C. Winters sit down with Saga of Pandora Zwieback author Steven A. Roman to discuss his latest work and a few other topics….
KC: Okay, let’s get started. What’s your latest book about?
SR: Well, in general, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback is about a 16-year-old “Goth” girl coming to terms with her parents’ divorce and some strange supernatural powers she’s been exhibiting, all while trying to survive a possible war between the monster realm and humanity that’s been initiated by a fallen angel. Pan’s story started in the novel Blood Feud, and it continues in the new book, Blood Reign, which takes place about five minutes after the cliffhanger ending of Blood Feud.
KC: Five minutes after?
SR: I got the idea from that James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Its opening scene takes place, like, five minutes after Casino Royale. I thought doing the same thing with Pan in Blood Reign made sense, to get the cliffhanger resolved and keep the story moving. I’m not gonna say what that cliffhanger was; if anyone reading this hasn’t checked out Blood Feud already, I’m not gonna spoil it for them. So go and buy it, already!
KC: They should. And I did notice a sort of cinematic quality in the way you describe settings and action sequences. So, what’s your favorite movie?
SR: Geez, I’ve got a few favorite movies. The Blues Brothers, Phantom of the Paradise, Army of Darkness… I guess the original Star Wars would be my number one, because it came out when I was fifteen—the perfect age to go see a movie about another teen who dreamed of doing bigger things…even though I thought Han Solo was the cooler character. (You know it’s true.) It’s also the movie that was one of my inspirations as a young writer—in fact, a Star Wars-y short story that I wrote for my high school’s magazine won me the “Best Fiction” award that year; I think the prize was $20. [Note: That story, “Again: He Who Stalks,” was the subject of a 2014 post on this very site, and can be found here.]
KC: What’s the last movie you saw?
SR: The Yards, from 2000. It’s a crime drama set in Queens, about corruption in the Metropolitan Transit system; the “yards” are the Sunnyside train yards. The cast was pretty impressive: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, James Caan, Faye Dunaway, Ellen Bursten, and Charlize Theron, and Steve Lawrence as the borough president. It’s a really slow movie, but very character driven. The ending’s a little too convenient, but otherwise it’s not a bad film. I checked it out because I’m always curious about how Queens is depicted in movies. It’s a hometown thing.
KC: So not everything you’re involved in has to do with horror or comics.
SR: Well, especially as a writer you can’t be locked into reading or watching just one category—it can’t be horror all the time, or comics all the time. That can limit the kind of stories you want to tell. I read Doctor Who novels, too, and the occasional mystery, and books about baseball and other things. The one thing I can’t get into is fantasy—Game of Thrones and that kind of stuff. It’s just never appealed to me.
KC: Which characters in Blood Reign did you find most challenging to work with, and what was it like to write with them? Conversely, do you have any characters that came particularly easily to you?
SR: Well, Pan was always a challenge, right from the start, because I’d never written a teenage girl before and I wasn’t even sure I could do it. It took some trial and error to get her personality right, but a major hurdle was cleared way back in 1998, when my creative partner, a comic artist named Uriel Caton, came up with Pan’s design. (Back then we’d been trying to pitch an early version of Pan to Parachute Press, the company owned by R. L. Stein, of Goosebumps fame.) Having that visual helped me get a handle on who Pan is, and once I’d gotten comfortable with her, the writing became increasingly faster. By the time I was done with the first book, Blood Feud, she’d become the easiest character to write, and that continued into Blood Reign.
The bad guy in Blood Reign, a fallen angel named Zaqiel, is a little harder, because I keep trying to avoid having him fall into stereotypical villain tropes—you know, the maniacal laugh, referring to himself in the third person, that kind of stuff—but every now and then it slips in. I guess that’s my comic book upbringing as a reader—you can’t help but pick up those sorts of elements along the way. I try to balance it out by exploring the relationship that Zaqiel had with Pan’s mentor, Annie.
KC: That’s the monster hunter Pan met in the first book, Blood Feud.
SR: Sebastienne Mazarin, yeah. Annie’s this 400-year-old shape-shifter who hunts monsters, and two hundred years ago she and Zaqiel were an item. But after he made plans to conquer the world and raised an army of monsters, she killed him and cut off his head. He’s a little pissed off about that. And he and Annie have some scenes together in Blood Reign where he gets to…express that displeasure.
KC: Vocally, or physically?
SR: A little of both—I mean, it is an adventure story—but Annie gives as good as she gets. She’s not the type who takes crap from monsters or psychotic ex-boyfriends, and she keeps promising Zaqiel that, one way or another, she’s gonna see him dead. Again.
KC: And will she make good on that promise?
SR: What, like I’m gonna tell you? (laughs) You’ll have to wait for the next book, Blood & Iron, to find out. That’s when the whole “vampire war” storyline comes to a close—including what happens between Annie and Zaqiel.
KC: All right. Now, you mentioned your “comic book upbringing.” What first inspired you to become a writer? Was it comic books?
SR: Absolutely. Stan Lee was my first writing influence, especially his Spider-Man stories. I never really got into Batman or Superman when I started reading comics, but Spider-Man…I don’t know. I could just understand Peter Parker better than the guy who could move planets with his bare hands! Maybe because Peter was a nerdy teen and I was a nerdy kid, or maybe because we’re both from Queens and I liked that connection. But yeah, Stan was the one who inspired me to get into writing, and when I stumble into using villain tropes…well, I learned from the master!
KC: Is there a favorite place you have to write?
SR: There’s a reading room at the main branch of the New York Public Library, in Manhattan. I go there whenever I either start a writing project, or get stuck with trying to find the right words to write. Or I’ll wander over to Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, down by the East River, and sit under a tree with my notebook.
KC: What’s your cure for writer’s block?
SR: Other than just getting up and walking away from the computer? That’s really my cure. I grab my notebook and go somewhere to write longhand—usually to that room in the public library. Or go and wash dishes, or take a walk—whatever it takes to get my mind off the writing for a while.
KC: What’s your cure for procrastination?
SR: God, I wish I knew of one; I haven’t found it yet. I mean, I’ve been meaning to look, but I always seem to keep putting it off…
KC: Funny. What one project do you daydream about accomplishing as a writer—your magnum opus?
SR: I think I’m already writing it, with The Saga of Pandora Zwieback. Pan is probably the most three-dimensional character I’ve ever written, and I really enjoy working on her stories. And based on the reactions I’ve gotten from readers, they’re enjoying my work, too. I’m grateful there are folks out there who like reading about this attitudinal Queens Goth chick who’s dealing with all these monsters, but who’s really more concerned about untangling all the complications in her life.
And I think they’ll be pleased with the direction Pan’s story is taking in Blood Reign—there’s even more depth to her character, and the challenges she faces this time really push her to the limits, both physically and emotionally. For all the “big budget” set pieces and action scenes and supernatural overtones, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback is really all about this teenaged girl trying to figure out her place in the world. Hopefully her fans will continue to come along for the ride!
Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 is now on sale and can be ordered in print and digital formats from brick-and-mortar and online retailers. Visit the Blood Reign product page at the StarWarp Concepts website for sales links and a downloadable free sample chapter.
Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is still available and also can be ordered in print and digital formats from brick-and-mortar and online retailers. Visit the Blood Feud product page at the StarWarp Concepts website for sales links and a downloadable free sample chapter.
What you see here is a photograph of Spain’s very own mega-talented artist, writer, and self-described “happy Goth,” Henar Torinos, holding up a copy of The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, for which she provided the incredible cover art. She thinks it rawks!
Henar made her comics debut as the creator/artist of the two-volume graphic novel series Mala Estrella (Bad Star), published by Ediciones Babylon; the series won the award for Best Manga of 2012 at Ficomic, Barcelona’s International Comic Fair. She currently works as a freelance illustrator and designer. I met her through deviantArt, the online art community, shortly after I joined; I’d been looking for artists for the Pan-themed promotion “The 13 Days of Pan-demonium,” and a site search for “Happy Goths” led me to her page—specifically, two pieces entitled “Happy Goths Exist” and “Still a Happy Goth.”
To see more of Henar’s creations, visit her deviantArt page. I’m pretty certain you’ll like what you see!
The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, published by StarWarp Concepts, is a 56-page, full-color special that contains stories by Steven A. Roman (that’s me, the author of the Pandora Zwieback novels, as well as X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy) and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up, The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold). In addition to Henar’s wonderful cover, you’ll find art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (writer/artist/creator of the comic series Charm School and the steampunk novel series The Dark Victorian). The comic is available in both print and digital formats, so visit the Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 product page for all the ordering information, as well as sample pages.
The Zwiebackian takeover of digital readers continues, because now you can find the ePub edition of Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2—my young adult, dark-urban-fantasy novel—at Kobo! Here’s the synopsis:
She was stabbed in the heart with an ancient mystical spear. Her mother was kidnapped by a band of vampires led by a fallen angel—their goal: unleashing hell on earth. And every living creature on the planet faces extinction at the hands of a race of biblical monsters. But for Pandora Zwieback, the worst may be yet to come.
In this terrifying next chapter of the story begun in the critically acclaimed novel Blood Feud, join the teenaged Goth adventuress as she discovers that death is only the beginning of her saga…
You’ll find Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 here for $2.99 at the Kobo Store. Order it today!
And don’t forget: the first Pandora Zwieback novel, Blood Feud, is still available from Kobo. Want to know how Pan begins her saga? Then purchase Blood Feud and Blood Reign and get started reading!