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Fantasy Firsts Sweepstakes

It’s November, which means we are entering the last month of our Fantasy Firsts program. We wanted to say thank you with a special sweepstakes, featuring ALL the titles we highlighted this past year. That’s 40 fantastic reads from 40 different series to add to your TBR stack! Plus, we’re including an added bonus: two sandblasted book dragon mugs, so you can enjoy your coffee or tea in style while you read.

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Who are the American Craftsmen?

Placeholder of  -7Welcome back to Fantasy Firsts. Our program continues with a guest post from Tom Doyle about the crypto-historical past behind the heroes of American Craftsmen. The final book in the alternate-history series, War and Craft, will be available September 26th.

Written by Tom Doyle

In my new contemporary fantasy novel, American Craftsmen, a craftsman or craftswoman is a soldier or spy magician, usually descended from a family of such practitioners. Though my thriller plot doesn’t assume any particular literary or historical knowledge, I hope you’ll enjoy finding some Easter eggs of this nation’s past in this thoroughly modern story. One of the reasons I wrote it is that too often when we search for an interesting angle on the fantastic, we neglect the weird mythos waiting for us in our own backyard.

The magical rules of my special ops world are partially drawn from early American fiction, which, let’s face it, is awfully creepy. The founders of our independent fictional canon aren’t known for stage comedies filled with wordplay or for novels centered on the marriage plot. Nor did they master the simple pragmatic optimism that on the surface seemed to be the national zeitgeist. Rather, in tales filled with occult obsessions and morbid fascinations, writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne explored the shadowy underside of the New World’s psyche.

For my novel, I’ve imagined that these authors had written thinly veiled fictional accounts which, woven together, formed a cryptohistorical backstory. The family of my main protagonist, Captain Dale Morton, is full of homages to writers and stories from America’s past. I’ve modeled two of Dale’s evil, inbred ancestorson the twins from Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” With a power inspired by Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the atheistic Dale can see the sins of others as glowing letters radiating from their bodies.

I created other abilities for my soldier-mages based on uncanny occurrences in military history. The primary power of the Mortons, the thing that makes Dale the most valuable solider-mage in the world, is the ability to change the local weather, for better or worse. Early in American Craftsmen, Dale uses this power to pursue a hostile sorcerer through a sandstorm. This magic was inspired by the number of times that weather completely altered the outcome of American battles. For instance, bad weather saved George Washington’s army at Brooklyn Heights, while an improvement in otherwise terrible weather allowed for the success of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

But the most dangerous and readily available power that a craftsman has is over his opponent’s mind. I drew this power from those instances in war where confusion scatters an army or, as in the killing of Stonewall Jackson, causes death by friendly fire. My present-day craftspeople carry precautions against such psychic warfare, but these don’t save Dale Morton from an opponent’s curse, a curse that will by twists and turns lead him to the demonic horrors corrupting the heart of American magic.

Order Your Copy

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Find Tom Doyle on Twitter at @tmdoyle2, on Facebook, and on his blog.

(This is a rerun of a post that originally ran on May 5th, 2014.)

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The American Craftsmen eBook is now on sale for $2.99

Place holder  of - 95Our Fantasy Firsts program continues today with an ebook sale of American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle, on sale now for only $2.99!* In an alternate America where magician soldiers fight black magic, a U.S. Army Captain confronts a demonic evil that’s taken root in the United States. The next book in the series, War and Craft, will be available September 26th.

About American CraftsmenAncient magic meets SEAL Team Six—with the fate of the United States hanging in the balance—in Tom Doyle’s American Craftsmen.

US Army Captain Dale Morton is a magician soldier-a “craftsman.” After a black-ops mission gone wrong, Dale is cursed by a Persian sorcerer and haunted by his good and evil ancestors. Major Michael Endicott, a Puritan craftsman, finds gruesome evidence that the evil Mortons have returned, and that Dale might be one of them.

Dale uncovers treason in the Pentagon’s highest covert ranks. He hunts for his enemies before they can murder him and Scherie, a new friend who knows nothing of his magic.

Endicott pursues Dale, divided between his duty to capture a rogue soldier and his desire to protect Dale from his would-be assassins. They will discover that the demonic horrors that have corrupted American magic are not bound by family or even death itself.

Order Your Copy

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This sale ends September 1st.

Highlights from Three ConFusion Reddit AMAs

Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle

In case you missed it, ConFusion was last weekend! Reddit took advantage of having so many authors gathered in one place to conduct some fun, possibly alcohol-fueled AMAs.

Here are the highlights from three of those AMAs, featuring authors Cherie Priest, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Tom Doyle.

Mary Robinette Kowal: I’m here at ConFusion doing panels on fiction, costuming, and carrying two flasks of scotch with me. Ask me anything. No. Really. I might lie to you, but I will answer.

Howard Taylor said to me at the San Antonio World Con that your presence on Writing Excuses made the podcast worthy of a Hugo win, and them muttered something about herding cats being your super power. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a cat herder on Writing Excuses?

Realizing that I just need to let the cats sit wherever they want.

What kind of pie would best accompany The Glamourist Histories?

This is tricky, since the pie as we know it is a conspicuously American invention. I think we’d have to go with a pie relation, the tart.

Apricot and chocolate seems most appropriate as it combines tart sweetness with a dark, bitter underlayer.

You did a tour with Marie Brennan for your books recently, if I recall correctly. What was that like? You guys are my two favourite authors that do Austen-esque fantasy novels.

It was SO MUCH FUN. We both wear costume and have a bit of additional stuff that we do, in addition to reading. Tor actually put together a video that shows sort of what it’s like. AND we’re touring together this year.

Cherie Priest: They’ve given me rum. Let’s do this.

Clockwork Century—Done for good or something you could go back to someday?

Done with Jacaranda, which comes out in a week or so. Jacaranda is sort of an epilogue to that series…and I’m very fond of it, but—barring fat sacks of unforeseen cash American—this is where it stops.

I’ve got needy pets (and a new needy baby), and it’s really hard to get stuff done. How do you structure your writing day around your pretty beasts?

Wake up and walk the dog. Come back and get dressed. Spend the hour or two before lunch answering business emails and doing Writer Business Stuff. Lunch. Write until supper. Husband goes and walks the dog for the afternoon/evening. Play video games and/or watch TV and have a drink and tweet.

That’s more or less how it goes, most days. My pets are kind of low-maintenance; the dog is big and lazy, the cat is elderly and sleeps about 20 hours a day. So I’m lucky, there.

I was wondering about working in the Wilds Cards universe. If you use another writer’s character do you need to get permission from the writer or do you just need to run the story idea by the editor(s)? Also do you plan on revisiting the Wild Cards universe and or Kilgore Jones?

It’s a little hard to explain—you can use other writers’ characters, but you talk to them first, and get their permission for anything major (killing them off, marrying them off, etc. etc. etc.)…it depends on the project, really. In the end, the editor is always GRRM. He’s the only one whose approval you really need. It’s nice, really—it’s not like working in oh, say, video games—where everything happens by committee. There’s just one person ultimately in charge, and if he’s cool with it, you’re good.

I hope to keep writing in WC, but lately I’ve been pretty busy. I have four books coming out this year, if that tells you anything—thought I did do a novelette on Tor.com last year called “The Button Man and The Murder Tree.” And Kilgore Jones turns up in the Rogues anthology (coincidentally, also via GRRM)—in a story called “Heavy Metal.”

I love KJ and will probably continue to tell stories about him 🙂 (He’s based loosely on an old friend of mine, who finds the whole thing hilarious.)

Tom Doyle: I’m the author of American Craftsmen (Tor 2014) and its sequel, The Left-Hand Way (August 2015)—contemporary fantasies of military intrigue that imagine Poe and Hawthorne wrote thinly veiled nonfiction.

What are you working on now that you would like to share?

Finishing the galley proofs for my 2nd book, The Left-Hand Way, and working hard on book 3, tentatively titled War and Craft.

Modern military fantasy is something I hadn’t even known existed, and was something I had no idea I’d love, until I read Myke Cole’s trilogy. I know that his trilogy was highly informed by his time in the service. Do you have a similar background in the military? What inspired you to join this (thus far) incredibly niche genre?

I haven’t had the honor to serve, but I spoke at length with a friend from grade school who served in Special Forces in the First Gulf War for sensory and technical details. My initial thought was that I wanted to write a fantasy with a distinctly American mythos grounded in American literature, history, and folklore. I wrote the military scene first, and my first reader (Stephanie Dray) said that should be my focus for telling the rest of the story.

What more can you tell us about your novels? Style of writing and what readers can expect? What process did you go through to get published and what advice could you provide? What are your go-to book recommendations and why?

The style is a combination of fantasy and technothriller, with lots of allusions to American classics and history. Getting published was one of the most difficult things in my life—years of hunting for a good agent, and then getting a publisher. I recommend attending the SFWA industry reception in NYC whenever possible to contact agents and editors. Lately, I’ve been recommending Leviathan Wakes just so friends can get ahead of the new TV series. I recommend China Mieville and Paolo Bacigalupi frequently.

What does success mean to you?

Writing is the pie eating contest where the prize is more pie. If I get to keep doing this, that’s success.

If you were forced to sing karaoke, what song would you choose?

Force isn’t necessary. I have a weekly rock jam at my house. My go to karaoke song in Japan was “Jumping Jack Flash.”

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Who Are the American Craftsmen?

American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle

Written by Tom Doyle

In my new contemporary fantasy novel, American Craftsmen, a craftsman or craftswoman is a soldier or spy magician, usually descended from a family of such practitioners. Though my thriller plot doesn’t assume any particular literary or historical knowledge, I hope you’ll enjoy finding some Easter eggs of this nation’s past in this thoroughly modern story. One of the reasons I wrote it is that too often when we search for an interesting angle on the fantastic, we neglect the weird mythos waiting for us in our own backyard.

The magical rules of my special ops world are partially drawn from early American fiction, which, let’s face it, is awfully creepy. The founders of our independent fictional canon aren’t known for stage comedies filled with wordplay or for novels centered on the marriage plot. Nor did they master the simple pragmatic optimism that on the surface seemed to be the national zeitgeist. Rather, in tales filled with occult obsessions and morbid fascinations, writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne explored the shadowy underside of the New World’s psyche.

For my novel, I’ve imagined that these authors had written thinly veiled fictional accounts which, woven together, formed a cryptohistorical backstory. The family of my main protagonist, Captain Dale Morton, is full of homages to writers and stories from America’s past. I’ve modeled two of Dale’s evil, inbred ancestorson the twins from Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” With a power inspired by Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the atheistic Dale can see the sins of others as glowing letters radiating from their bodies.

I created other abilities for my soldier-mages based on uncanny occurrences in military history. The primary power of the Mortons, the thing that makes Dale the most valuable solider-mage in the world, is the ability to change the local weather, for better or worse. Early in American Craftsmen, Dale uses this power to pursue a hostile sorcerer through a sandstorm. This magic was inspired by the number of times that weather completely altered the outcome of American battles. For instance, bad weather saved George Washington’s army at Brooklyn Heights, while an improvement in otherwise terrible weather allowed for the success of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

But the most dangerous and readily available power that a craftsman has is over his opponent’s mind. I drew this power from those instances in war where confusion scatters an army or, as in the killing of Stonewall Jackson, causes death by friendly fire. My present-day craftspeople carry precautions against such psychic warfare, but these don’t save Dale Morton from an opponent’s curse, a curse that will by twists and turns lead him to the demonic horrors corrupting the heart of American magic.

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From the Tor/Forge May 5th newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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Book Trailer: American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle

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American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle

In modern America, two soldiers will fight their way through the magical legacies of Poe and Hawthorne to destroy an undying evil—if they don’t kill each other first.

US Army Captain Dale Morton is a magician soldier—a “craftsman.” After a black-ops mission gone wrong, Dale is cursed by a Persian sorcerer and haunted by his good and evil ancestors. Major Michael Endicott, a Puritan craftsman, finds gruesome evidence that the evil Mortons, formerly led by the twins Roderick and Madeline, have returned, and that Dale might be one of them.

Dale uncovers treason in the Pentagon’s highest covert ranks. He hunts for his enemies before they can murder him and Scherie, a new friend who knows nothing of his magic.

Endicott pursues Dale, divided between his duty to capture a rogue soldier and his desire to protect Dale from his would-be assassins. They will discover that the demonic horrors that have corrupted American magic are not bound by family or even death itself.

In Tom Doyle’s thrilling debut, American Craftsmen, Seal Team Six meets ancient magic—with the fate of the United States hanging in the balance….

American Craftsmen, by Tom Doyle, publishes on May 6th.

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