Happy book birthday to J.L. Gribble! This week, the fourth book in her Steel Empires fantasy/alternate history series, Steel Time, is being published by Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press, and I’ve happily asked her to answer a few questions about herself, and the book, here on my blog.
As she summarizes the series: “In a world with vampires, warrior-mages, weredragons, and sarcastic violin players, time travel seems like the obvious next step.”
By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. (We met last year, while sharing a panel at Pittsburgh’s Confluence, and I am completely captivated by her talent.) Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.
Today, she lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Here’s what she had to tell us:
What’s the most important thing to know about your new book?
We’ve officially hit the middle of a seven-book arc with the publication of Steel Time! Last year, people kept congratulating me for completing a trilogy when Steel Blood came out. But while the first three in the series can act as a sort of trilogy (though a few hints are left unresolved), we’re entering a new era now. A few years have passed. Toria is solidly an adult, so it was time to throw another wrench into her life. Victory thought she had a solid grip on the how the world works, so it was past time to prove her wrong. What’s the point of writing crazy fantasy novels if you can’t surprise your own characters?
What was the catalyst for this particular idea?
Probably not a catalyst so much as a slow-burning fuse that finally reached its end point. I love time travel stories, whether it’s the point of the entire premise such as the show Doctor Who or the book series Chronicles of St Mary’s, or whether it’s a one-off episode of a speculative television series or a stand-alone novel. Honestly, it was only a matter time before I had to include it in my own world.
What are the first and last sentences of your book? Do they tell us anything?
The opening line is, “When she tripped over a jagged bone, Victory realized she’d expected to find more skeletons in what remained of the ruined city of Nacostina.” It shows that not only have we left the characters’ home city of Limani, but that this adventure starts in an area of the world known as the Wasteland. Nacostina and the surrounding area were destroyed in a world war almost a century ago, so I hope readers are excited to learn about an era that I’ve only dropped hints about so far.
The book closes with a line of dialogue: “Tell me everything you know.” I promise it’s not a cliffhanger! Instead, events in this book lead a character to finally open up about experiences she’s been having, which will lead directly into the events of the fifth book in the series. Don’t worry, that book is already drafted and with my editor, so only a year to wait!
Which author would you most want to blurb you, and why?
Unfortunately, there’s never been a reason to send any of the Steel Empires series to my all-time favorite author, because Catherine Asaro writes hard science fiction with a healthy dose of romance and I …do not. However, I do have plans to tackle a science fiction story in the next few years, so I haven’t given up all hope!
Dog or cat person? Explain, please.
I enjoy dogs. I especially enjoy dogs when they don’t lick me and I can return them to their parents when I’m done with them. (Honestly, these are similar to my thoughts on infants.) However, I am the proud chief-of-staff to three amazing Siamese cats that I love dearly. Two of them are currently napping behind me (they are all siblings, so my phone is filled with adorable pictures of cats snuggling together). The third is practically a dog, and so he is wherever my husband is at the moment (probably supervising and providing color commentary on video games). Check my (sadly neglected) Instagram account for proof of the adorableness.
You can learn even more about J.L. Gribble at these fine web locations: