August 16

Next update August 23

Less than two weeks until Children of Fire is out! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?

I’m getting pretty pumped about the debut of my first original fantasy novel, even as I churn away on getting the second book, The Scorched Earth, finished for the end of this month.

The next two weeks should be a blitz of promotional material and reviews, so I’m doing an extra update next week just to keep everyone on top of all that’s happening. I’m also going to be making regular posts to my Twitter account, so if you want to know what’s going on be sure to follow me there.

For this update, I’m going to fire off a bunch of advance reviews that have come out so far, give you some links to some interviews and promo stuff I’m doing and finally talk a bit more about Children of Fire, and why I think you should read it.

First, let me talk about a couple appearances I’m making. It’s confirmed that I’ll be going to New York Comic Con in October – by then the book will be out, so hopefully I’ll be constantly swarmed by adoring fans. We’re lining up some book signings and maybe a panel or two; I’ll post details as we lock things down.

Unfortunately I will not be attending Lonestar/WorldCon in San Antonio at the end of the month – the logistics of getting a booth at the show and arranging for signings and panels just didn’t work out. But I will be in San Antonio doing a book signing at The Twig Book Shop on Saturday, August 31 from 11am-1pm. This will be my first public event after Children of Fire’s official release, so if you’re at the Con or otherwise in the area, pop on by to meet me! The plan is to have a number of other authors there as well; as details and names are worked out I’ll be posting them on my Twitter feed and right here on my blog.

Okay, now let’s turn to the early buzz about the book. I’ve mentioned some of these reviews before, but just to keep it all in one place I’ll run through them again. First, Publishers Weekly has selected Children of Fire as one of their top 10 sci-fi/fantasy/horror books for Fall, and they’ve given me a pretty flattering starred review. My favorite line is the one at the end:
This intricately layered adventure breathes realism and overshadowing menace into ancient mythic archetypes, exposing the pain and wonder inherent in magic and the mingled hope and cynicism of modern fantasy.

Pretty great, right? But wait… there’s more! Sci-fi website io9 has named Children of Fire as one of their Can’t Miss Books for August. If you look at the list, you’ll see they’ve thrown me in with some pretty heavy hitters in the sci-fi and fantasy field (Terry Brooks, Naomi Novik, and Neal Asher just to name a few). It’s an honor just to be included with many of these names.

Another glowing review comes from the website RT Book Reviews, who’ve also named Children of Fire as a Top Pick for the month. The only bad thing about this review is this line: If the first installment is this impressive, I can’t wait to see what Karpyshyn has planned for the sequel. Talk about pressure!

Even the mighty Amazon seems to think highly of the book, as they’ve named it one of their Best Books of the Month in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. (You have to use the arrows to scroll to the left to see Children of Fire in this list.) There are also several reader reviews from people who received advance copies of the novel through the Amazon vine program, and most folks seem to like it so far.

And of course there’s the rave review I’ve talked about before from the legendary Tracy Hickman that we’re using for the jacket blurb:
Drew Karpyshyn weaves a rich, contrasting tapestry of epic story and doom. Gripping and compelling from first page to last, ‘Children of Fire’ is a dark chocolate fantasy; delightfully biting and delectable at once. Four ill-fated children born under a sign of chaos and flame carried me into a journey into an intriguing world of shadowy wonder. It is a spell-binding epic told with masterful craft. Well done, Drew! After thirty years of writing, you’ve brought me a fantasy I wanted to read!

Okay, enough stroking my ego. Now let’s actually talk about the book. You can get a pretty good idea of what Children of Fire is about by reading the blurb on my NOVELS page. And I recently wrote the Suvudu Dear Readers open letter for August, where I talk about my life and my novels in a more philosophical way. I go into even more detail in this Suvudu interview I did while I was at San Diego Comic Con.

If you read the various reviews and listen to me talk about the novel, you’ll see a few common elements keep getting mentioned: one I expected, one that surprised me.

Several reviewers have commented on how I take the classic archetypes of the fantasy genre and shape them to my own unique vision. (I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that’s the basic idea.) This was a very conscious decision on my choice, and I think I’ve talked about it before. This is the same technique we used at BioWare making Mass Effect and KOTOR – we take what is familiar and iconic and we twist it into our own version. If folks like what you’ve done, they say you are reinventing archetypes. If they don’t like it, they say you are derivative and cliched. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at what I do so most people seem to like it. (Is that arrogant? Maybe, but I’ll stand by my track record. I’m proud of the projects I’ve worked on and I’m not going to hide it.)

The second thing that several reviews mention is how the book takes elements of horror and blends them into the fantasy genre, making the story very dark. This wasn’t really a conscious decision on my part, but I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. I have a long love affair with horror novels – mostly Stephen King and Clive Barker, though I do read other authors. So it isn’t surprising that there is a strong horror vibe in my fantasy. Looking back on my other novels, you can see elements of this in the Bane trilogy (especially with the gruesome ending of Rule of Two) and in the Mass Effect novels (with Grayson’s fate in ME: Retribution).

I’m a pretty happy, well-adjusted guy, but my writing does tend to have a dark, even grim, underbelly. It’s something I don’t intentionally set out to do, but it’s often there. Characters die, bad things can happen to good people and sometimes readers are upset with where I take them. But I don’t consider my writing to be bleak. Even when it is dark and grim, I like to think there is an underlying optimisim and hopefulness. Not everybody dies, and lots of my characters get their happily ever after ending. I also like to play with the theme of redemption quite a bit, so even if a character suffers or does something bad, there is always a chance to change and come out the other side. (Well, unless I kill them off.)

I like to explore morality and the notions of good and evil in my books. My favorite characters aren’t pure on either side of the spectrum – they’re complex and shaded. You’ll see this in Children of Fire: the heroes aren’t squeaky clean and the villains aren’t mustache-twirling caricatures. Everybody has good and bad in them, and the story is about choosing which instincts you listen to.

Okay, so I guess that’s it for this update. I’ll be back next week with more Children of Fire news as we creep ever closer to the big release date. I can’t wait!