D.B. Jackson - Tor/Forge Blog

On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in July

Hurricane Fever by Tobias BuckellA Plunder of Souls by D. B. JacksonThe Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. AndersonFull Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in July! Once a month, we’re collecting info about all of our upcoming author events. Check and see who’ll be coming to a city near you:

Thursday, July 3

Jo Walton, My Real Children
Flights of Fantasy
Albany, NY
7:00 PM

Thursday, July 10

Kevin J. Anderson, The Dark Between the Stars
Connecticon, July 10-13
Connecticut Convention Center
Hartford, CT

Saturday, July 12

Jane Lindskold, Artemis Awakening
Albuquerque, NM
3:00 PM

Sunday, July 13

Paul Park, All Those Vanished Engines
Brian Staveley, The Emperor’s Blades
Max Gladstone, Full Fathom Five
Felix Gilman, The Revolutions
Barnes & Noble
Burlington, MA
3:30 PM

Monday, July 14

D. B. Jackson, A Plunder of Souls
Rock Hill, SC
6:00 PM

Tuesday, July 15

D. B. Jackson, A Plunder of Souls
Books A Million
With authors Faith Hunter and A. J. Hartley
Gastonia, NC
6:30 PM

Max Gladstone, Full Fathom Five
Pandemonium Books & Games
Cambridge, MA
7:00 PM

Thursday, July 17

D. B. Jackson, A Plunder of Souls
Fountain Bookstore
Richmond, VA
6:30 PM

Paul Park, All Those Vanished Engines
Barnes & Noble
Holyoke, MA
7:00 PM

Friday, July 18

Tracy and Laura Hickman, Unwept
Barnes & Noble
Orem, UT
7:00 PM

Paul Park, All Those Vanished Engines
Amherst Bookstore
Amherst, MA
7:00 PM

Monday, July 21

Glen Hirshberg, Motherless Child
Literati Bookstore
Ann Arbor, MI
7:00 PM

D. B. Jackson, A Plunder of Souls
Quail Ridge Books
Raleigh, NC
7:30 PM

Wednesday, July 23

Max Gladstone, Full Fathom Five
Barnes & Noble
Framingham, MA
7:00 PM

Saturday, July 26

Jane Lindskold, Artemis Awakening
Steven Gould, Impulse
Barnes & Noble, Coronado Mall
Albuquerque, NM
2:00 PM

Julia Mary Gibson, Copper Magic
Benzie Shores District Library
Frankfort, MI
3:00 PM

Sunday, July 27

Tobias Buckell, Hurricane Fever
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
3:00 PM

Monday, July 28

Tobias Buckell, Hurricane Fever
University Book Store
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Tuesday, July 29

Tobias Buckell, Hurricane Fever
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:00 PM


Confessions of a History Geek: Blending History and Fantasy

Confessions of a History Geek: Blending History and Fantasy

Thieves' Quarry by D. B. Jackson

Written by D. B. Jackson

Writing historical urban fantasy presents interesting challenges, particularly for someone like me. I’m a refugee from academia with a Ph.D. in history, which means that I’m a nerd with a nearly obsessive desire to keep my history accurate. So, when I was writing Thieves’ Quarry, the second book in my Thieftaker Chronicles, I faced something of a conundrum.

A little background: Thieves’ Quarry begins on September 28, 1768. Citizens in the Colonial city of Boston, which has seen rioting and political unrest throughout the summer and early fall, cast a wary eye toward the waters of Boston Harbor, where more than a dozen British war ships lay anchored. Aboard the ships are soldiers, a thousand strong, who stand ready to begin their occupation of the city.

My hero, Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker, was once a sailor in the British navy, and he remains a Tory — a Crown loyalist — although recent events have tested his faith in those serving His Majesty, King George III. He is also an ex-convict who was once imprisoned for mutiny, and who is rumored to be a “witch,” as people of the time called those who wield magic.

My idea is to use the presence of the fleet and the impending occupation as backdrops for a mystery. And I need a crime so cruel and brazen that it will force the Crown authorities to turn to a man of Ethan’s dubious background. I also need for this event to draw the notice of Samuel Adams and others who oppose Parliament, as well as the notice of Ethan’s rival in thieftaking, the lovely and dangerous Sephira Pryce. Finally, I do not want this event to alter drastically the true history as it unfolded in those clear New England autumn days.

In the end, what I have done is both simple and bold. I have added a ship to the fleet: HMS Graystone, out of Bristol. She is a fourteen-gun sloop of war, carrying a complement of nearly one hundred men, including soldiers and army officers, naval officers and the Graystone’s crew.

And after establishing her history and her role in the coming garrisoning of the city, I have killed every man on the ship with a powerful burst of magic that Ethan senses but cannot explain.

To some this may seem like a good deal of unnecessary effort. There were plenty of “real” ships in the harbor at that time, including several sloops. I could have aimed the killing spell at any of them without significantly altering the background history of the book. But this is where that obsessive nerdy thing that I mentioned earlier comes in. I wanted to be able to describe the landing of the occupation force in as much detail as possible and with absolute confidence that I had it right. I didn’t want to account for missing soldiers or ships, nor did I wish to create potential problems by making the initial occupying force smaller and therefore potentially less effective than it really was.

By adding the Graystone and then immediately subtracting it, I maintain the historical integrity of the events as they unfold, while at the same time creating a compelling mystery for Ethan to solve.

This is, in essence, the way I approach all of the challenges I face when blending history and fantasy in the Thieftaker books. The historian in me strives for accuracy. The novelist in me seeks the most exciting and intriguing narratives possible. Balancing those exigencies demands both an understanding of historical forces and a willingness at key moments to stray — sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes by killing a shipload of soldiers — from strict historical fact.

With Thieves’ Quarry, just as with, Thieftaker, the first book in the series, I want the resulting story to grab my readers by the collar and refuse to let go. But even more, I want the narrative, setting, and characters to transport readers to a Colonial Boston that is accurate and intriguing, a Boston that may not have existed exactly in this form, but that could have been.


From the Tor/Forge July 8th newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.


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#TorChat July 2012 Sweepstakes

Tor/Forge Blog

Did you participate in today’s #TorChat? We hope you enjoyed it and look forward to your participation in next month’s big Young Adult chat on August 15th!

In the meantime, here’s your chance to win some amazing books, plus a t-shirt! Two lucky winners will receive a copy of Thieftaker, plus a Thieftaker t-shirt (men’s large), a copy of The Coldest War, and a copy of Wake of the Bloody Angel, the latest Eddie LaCrosse novel. Leave a comment below to enter.

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And again we’d like to thank D. B. Jackson, Ian Tregillis, and Alex Bledsoe for joining us on Twitter today.

Sweepstakes closes to new entries on July 25th at noon.

And don’t forget to come and join us for our very special Young Adult themed #TorChat on August 15th! It launches the Girls’ Nightmare Out tour, featuring Tor Teen authors Marta Acosta, Kendare Blake, and Lisa Desrochers!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins July 18, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. ET. and ends July 25, 2012, 12:00 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules go here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

July #TorChat Lineup Revealed

Tor/Forge Blog

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This month, #TorChat is looking backward—in time! Joining us on July 18th from 4 to 5 PM EST are D. B. Jackson, Ian Tregillis, and Alex Bledsoe, to talk about historical fantasy!

Tor Books (@torbooks) is thrilled to announce the July #TorChat, part of a monthly series of genre-themed, hour-long chats created by Tor Books and hosted on Twitter.

This month, #TorChat is looking backwards—in time, that is. We’ll be chatting with three authors who’ve written historical fantasy or alternative history. Joining us will be D. B. Jackson, the author of Thieftaker, featuring a conjurer/thieftaker in Revolutionary-era Boston; Ian Tregillis, whose Milkweed Triptych is set during a World War II that sees fighting between Nazi supersoldiers and British warlocks; and Alex Bledsoe, whose Blood Groove looks back at the seventies…with vampires. Last month, we looked toward the future, so this month, we decided to chat with three authors who’ve looked into the past and changed it to suit their own visions.

The chat will be loosely moderated by Associate Publicist Leah Withers (@PhaeTo). We hope that fantasy fans, historical fiction fans, and alternative history fans will follow the chat and join in using the Twitter hashtag #TorChat!

About the Authors

D. B. JACKSON (@DBJacksonAuthor) has been writing fantasy and science fiction under a different name for over 15 years, and has published novels, short stories, and media tie-ins in more than a dozen languages. He also has a Ph.D. in U.S. History. Now, as D. B. Jackson, he is working on something new, combining his love of fantasy with his fascination with American history. His first novel, Thieftaker, was published on July 3rd.

IAN TREGILLIS (@ITregillis) attended the University of Minnesota for both college and graduate school. Eventually, the university decided it had seen quite enough of him, so it politely asked him to leave, grow up, and get a real job. Ian’s parting gift was a doctorate in physics for his research on radio galaxies. He now lives in northern New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists, and other disreputable types. His latest book is The Coldest War, the second book in the Milkweed Triptych, which publishes on July 17th.

ALEX BLEDSOE (@AlexBledsoe) grew up in west Tennessee, and now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls. He has been a reporter, editor, photographer, and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He spends his days writing and trying to teach two sons to act live they’ve been to town before. His new book is Wake of the Bloody Angel, the fourth in the Eddie LaCrosse sword-jockey series, which published on July 3rd.

About #Torchat
#TorChat is a genre-themed, hour-long chat series created by Tor Books and hosted on Twitter. Guest authors join fans in lively, informative and entertaining discussions of all that’s hot in genre fiction, 140 characters at a time, from 4 – 5 PM EST on the third Wednesday of every month. Each #TorChat revolves around a different genre topic of interest, often of a timely nature, and strives to provide a new media opportunity for readers to connect with their favorite authors.

About Tor Books
Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books. Founded in 1980, Tor annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher. In 2002, Tor launched Starscape, an imprint dedicated to publishing quality science fiction and fantasy for young readers, including books by critically acclaimed and award winning authors such as Cory Doctorow, Orson Scott Card, and David Lubar. Between an extensive hardcover and trade-softcover line, an Orb backlist program, and a stronghold in mass-market paperbacks, books from Tor have won every major award in the SF and fantasy fields, and has been named Best Publisher 25 years in a row in the Locus Poll, the largest consumer poll in SF.


Finding Research Treasure

Tor/Forge Blog

Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson

Written by D. B. Jackson

Researching a novel like Thieftaker, my Revolutionary War-era urban fantasy, which was released by Tor on July 3, can be a roller coaster ride. Success gives way to frustration, which in turn gives way to new successes.

Sometimes the questions I found myself asking were straightforward, the information fairly easy to find. The book opens on the night of August 26, 1765, when rioters protesting the Stamp Act rampaged through the streets of Boston. I needed to know the exact path followed by the mob as they ransacked one house after another, so that I could place a fictional murder victim somewhere along their route. I consulted history texts, as well as reprints of eighteenth century newspaper articles and an old book on Boston landmarks. In the end I managed to reconstruct the events of that night and set up my murder mystery.

At other moments I struggled with much tougher research questions. And this is where the roller coaster imagery applies: I ultimately found several treasures that had me doing my best Snoopy dance in the middle of my office. Two of these gems were particularly cool.

The first I found while trying to write a description of King’s Chapel, Boston’s oldest Anglican church, which figures prominently in Thieftaker. I was able to find references to the church’s exterior, but almost nothing about the interior. That is, until I struck gold in the form of a document that turned up on the fourth or fifth page of an internet search. An architectural firm had recently begun renovating King’s Chapel and had put a summary of their work online. They gave detailed descriptions of the structure’s interior, specifying the locations of windows and columns and the type of wood used for the pews. They even provided bore-test results on the walls, which revealed the paint color for different time periods, including the 1760s. Suddenly I knew exactly what the Chapel’s interior looked like.

My second golden discovery also grew out of my need to write a physical description, this time of a person. Sheriff Stephen Greenleaf, a recurring character in the Thieftaker books and stories, was Boston’s leading law enforcement official in the 1760s, when the city had nothing resembling an organized constabulary. He managed to keep the peace, though he had no police force or soldiers at his disposal. I knew he had to be a formidable figure, but I had no idea what he looked like.

I did several internet searches, scoured my bookshelves, went to the local university library, searched interlibrary loan—nothing. Until finally, while online, skimming through an old text, I found not just a description, but a pen and ink drawing. I remember gaping at my computer screen. There was the man himself, staring back at me. Broad face, strong hook nose, pale widely-spaced eyes: I’d actually imagined him that way, but the confirmation was invaluable.

Researching a novel—any novel—is always a voyage of discovery. Writing Thieftaker, I realized that the search for information takes on added urgency with historical fiction, when authenticity is crucial to the success of the book. Not all of my finds were as dramatic as these two examples, but each was precious in its own way. Taken together they enabled me to write a tale that will, I hope, transport my readers to another time and place. No author can ask for more than that.


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