A couple of weeks ago my friend the mystery writer Vicki Delany invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Series, which would involve my answering a set of questions. Unlike most writers, who are shy, and reserved, and shun the spotlight, I love to talk about myself and my work, so I was happy to jump in.

You’ll find Vicki’s blog post for the series at If you haven’t read any of Vicki’s work, I particularly recommend her Constable Molly Smith books, police procedurals with a Canadian twist.

And now, to me.

What is the working title of your book?

What I’m working on right now is the first volume of a two-book series. The working title for the series is Halls of Law. We’re still kicking around the title for the first book. I’d tell you some of the rejects, but that would be too embarrassing.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I’m a big crime show fan, so I started wondering what a CSI program would be like if the CSIs were psychics. What would their lives be like? How would people know they could be trusted? That made me think of the Brother Cadfael books; what if the psychics lived in a kind of monastery set up? At first I thought this could be a series of crime stories with a fantasy twist, but I realized the cases would be solved pretty quickly, so I put the idea aside for a while. Then I started to think about what kind of problems such a group might have, and that led me to shift the story to an epic fantasy setting.

What genre does your book fall under?

I guess I’ve already given away that it’s epic fantasy. Which makes it a Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones type of thing, rather than a True Blood/Harry Potter type of thing.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

This is the first time I can’t actually answer this question. I often think of actors when I’m deciding what my characters should look like, but this time I used family members and, believe it or not, other fictional characters. Tel Cursar, the young male lead, for example, I imagined as a young Travis McGee, as John D. MacDonald describes him.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book?

Kerida Nast, a psychic in training, is forced to run for her life when her country is invaded by people who think psychics are witches and must be exterminated.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My publisher is DAW Books (, and my agent is Joshua Bilmes of the JABberwocky Literary agency (http://www/

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The idea’s been kicking around for quite a while, as you know from what I’ve already said. I’m still writing the first draft, but I expect it to be done by the end of the month, so altogether it’s been about eight months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Now this is tricky, considering that we’re talking about a fantasy novel that was inspired by a crime show. The closest I can think of is Barbara Hambly’s early work The Darwath Trilogy, and its later follow-ups Mother of  Winter and Icefalcon’s Quest; and for something more recent, Robin Hobbs Farseer Trilogy, and its follow-up, the Tawny Man Trilogy.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Did I leave anything out of my CSI explanation?

What else about your book might pique the interest of readers?

Let’s see. One of the books I used for research was The Complete Roman Army, by Adrian Goldsworthy. My friend Paul Weimer recommended it to me, and it proved to be just the thing for helping me set up my socio-political structure. The only other thing I can think of is that the books will be coming out under a pseudonym, V.M. Escalada. They’re a bit of a departure for me, as the characters are younger than I usually write about, so my publisher is going to do a different kind of marketing thing for them. Though I suppose it’s actually a little misleading to call it a pseudonym, as Violette Malan Escalada is my legal name in Spain, where everyone has two last names.  

And now for some recommendations, personally selected by me. Here are five authors who’ll be participating in the Next Big Thing Blog Series next week. So far I’ve only mentioned crime writers (okay, one living and one dead), and now’s the time for fantasy writers. Check them out, you won’t be sorry.

Alex Bledsoe                

Elaine Cunningham       

John R. Fultz                 

Dave Gross                   

Howard Andrew Jones 



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