King of the Dead - Tor/Forge Blog



#TorChat November 2012 Sweepstakes

#TorChat November 2012 Sweepstakes

Did you participate in today’s #TorChat? We hope you enjoyed it and look forward to your participation in next month’s chat on December 19th!

In the meantime, here’s your chance to win some amazing books! Two lucky winners will receive copies of River Road, The Rise of Ransom City, and King of the Dead. Leave a comment below to enter.

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And again we’d like to thank Suzanne Johnson, Felix Gilman, and Joseph Nassise for joining us on Twitter today.

Sweepstakes closes to new entries on November 21st at noon.

And don’t forget to come and join us next month, on December 19th, at 4 PM Eastern!

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 November 14, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. ET. and ends November 21, 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.

November #TorChat Lineup Revealed

November #TorChat Lineup Revealed

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This month, #TorChat focuses on the importance of setting, from real world places to imaginary spaces. Joining us on November 14th from 4 to 5 PM EST are Suzanne Johnson, Felix Gilman, and Joseph Nassise, to talk about the richly developed worlds they’ve populated in their books!

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

Setting is, arguably, just as important as the main characters in a novel. How an author creates and describes their world can give us chills, thrills, joy, and even tears. What does it take to create a realistic world, even one that comes populated with ghosts, demons, or monsters? We’ve invited three masters of the subject to chat with us on Twitter about how they do it. Joining us will be Suzanne Johnson, the author of River Road, the second book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, featuring a beautiful, fragile New Orleans post-Katrina; Felix Gilman, the author of The Rise of Ransom City, a book that shows that steampunk is an ideal fit for not just Victorian England, but the American West; and Joseph Nassise, whose book King of the Dead features a protagonist who gave up his normal sight to see the true world that surrounds us – one filled with ghosts and things much worse. These three authors know how to set a scene, and they’re ready and willing to dish their secrets!

The chat will be loosely moderated by Tor Associate Publicist Leah Withers (@PhaeTo). We hope that urban fantasy, horror, and genre fiction fans in general, as well as aspiring writers, will follow the chat and join in using the Twitter hashtag #TorChat!

About the Authors

SUZANNE JOHNSON (@suzanne_johnson) is a magazine editor and features writer with more than fifty national writing and editing awards. A longtime New Orleans resident, she helped rebuild for two years after Hurricane Katrina. She currently lives in Alabama. River Road, her second novel, publishes on November 13th.

FELIX GILMAN (@felixgilman) has been nominated for the John W. Campbell award and the Locus Award for best new writer. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Thunderer, Gears of the City, and The Half-Made World, which was listed by Amazon as one of the ten best SF/F novels of 2010. His latest book, The Rise of Ransom City, publishes on November 27th.

JOSEPH NASSISE (@jnassise)is the author of the bestselling Templar Chronicles series and Eyes to See, the first novel the Jeremiah Hunt Chronicles. He lives in Arizona with his wife and four children. His new novel, King of the Dead, publishes on November 27th.

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.


The Care and Feeding of a Villain

The Care and Feeding of a Villain

King of the Dead by Joseph Nassise

Written by Joseph Nassise

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of psychopomps; those creatures, spirits, or deities that show up in many myths and religions, whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife, and while looking for a villain for the sequel to Eyes to See, I decided to dig into the idea a bit more to see what, if anything, might work. The more I dug, the more interested I became.

While you might not have heard the term “psychopomp” before, I’m sure you’re familiar with them. Charon the Ferryman, the Greek mythological figure whose job it is to guide the dead across the River Styx, is a psychopomp. The Valkyries of Norse legend, who bring the vanquished to Valhalla, are likewise psychopomps. The Morrigan, the Celtic Goddess of War and Death, is another.

Psychopomps exist in modern culture as well. Stephen King uses sparrows as psychopomps to great effect in his novel The Dark Half. George Lass and the other reapers on the television program Dead Like Me could accurately be described psychopomps, as could the Reapers from Supernatural. Even Grim, the hound from the wizarding world of Harry Potter, might be a psychopomp.

Everything I’ve read states that it is not a psychopomp’s job to judge the dead, but solely to escort them to their destination. That got me thinking. What would happen if a psychopomp went “psycho,” so to speak, and began to judge the dead? What if they went a step further and acted as judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one? What if they considered every living thing on this plane worthy of their attention?

Suddenly I had a purpose for my villain and a problem my hero had to solve. Then, while hunting through various examples of psychopomps, I stumbled upon the legend of the Ankou, sometimes written as the Angeu, a psychopomp from Breton mythology that appeared as a skeleton-like man dressed in a wide brimmed hat and old cloak, carrying a scythe, and driving a rickety old wooden cart pulled by two horses, one whole and hearty, the other blind and diseased. Some stories say he is the first child of Adam and Eve, damned for their transgressions. Others say that he is the first dead in a given year and is required to collect the others for the next 364 days until passing into the afterlife himself. One story in particular called him the King of the Dead.

That one line caused everything I’d been thinking about to finally gel together. Not only had I found my villain, I found a title, too.


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