Thursday, October 30, 2014

Straight Chatting from the Library - Russ Linton

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Russ will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner and another winner will receive a signed copy of Crimson Son (US ONLY), both prizes via rafflecopter during the tour. A $10 Amazon GC will be awarded to a randomly drawn host. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

The powerless son of a superhero escapes his father’s shadow.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading several books at the moment. The first is One Night in Sixes, by a member of my critique group, Arianne “Tex” Thompson. Let’s call this one Louis L’Amour does Middle Earth. A gun slinging western full of magic and otherworldly races, Tex perfectly captures a 19th century porch side storyteller’s tone mixed with beautiful prose and highly detailed speculative elements. Go buy it. The next is Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. I’m only about a quarter of the way into this fantasy, but I’m hooked. It has a “points of light” feel to it, in that the world they inhabit is covered with deadly flora and fauna – the result of some cataclysmic war and magically sealed temples and cities are the only safe spots.

The book has some extremely original and progressive takes on gender roles as well and the magic system’s dependency on celestial bodies lends a sci-fi feel to what is otherwise solid fantasy. Intriguing book and looking forward to seeing how it pans out. I’m also reading Sanderson’s Way of Kings. Not much to be said there, but I’m way late to that party...

E-Reader or print? and why?

E-Reader. Why? Because I need space to live and not be buried in books and reams of paper. E-Readers let me do that. Plus, if I’m ever travelling, I can have my entire library at my fingertips. Once you get used to using the screen, it’s hard to go back. Yes, I’ve got all the nostalgic “feels” for dead tree books everyone else does, but E- Books just win on so many levels. (Not the least of which is not being made of dead tree...)

One book at a time or multiples?

It might seem like I just answered this, I mean, I’ve got three books going right now. I also crit multiple pieces a week for various groups and writer friends, not to mention my own work. I’m reading constantly. But before I started writing, I was a one book, cover-to-cover-before-I-get-a-new-one sort of guy. Now I’m a total book slut.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Neither. Dog-ear ruins pages. I scold my own kid for that one. And bookmarks? Even though I have about a thousand promo bookmarks for Crimson Son sitting right here, I don’t use them. I simply remember where I am and turn to the page. Sometimes that takes a bit of page flipping, but I can always find it quickly enough. Of course, with my recent conversion to eBooks, my Kindle remembers for me.

Least favorite book you've read this year?

Sanderson’s Elantris. Look, the guy is an amazing writer, he can handle a bad review tossed his way every now and then. I simply hated that book and forced myself to finish. The dialogue was bad and ate up endless pages while the characters huddled around one table or another scheming and trying to be witty in the most painful and unentertaining way. Those characters weren’t up to Sanderson’s standards.

I also had a beef with the magic system, something Sanderson prides himself on and usually nails. The whole idea of drawing symbols to unleash magic energy is cool (if not a bit overused). But the awkwardness of completing ever complicated diagrams in midair during a melee combat was a bit outside my suspension of disbelief. Also, don’t get me started on the awkward politics implied in the book. It wasn’t quite Terry Goodkind, but at times I felt this awkward conservative rant and commentary on poverty underpinning the plot. Not his best moment in my opinion.

Favorite book you've read this year?

Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman. That was an amazing book to cap off a very unique and frankly ruthless trilogy. His prose, to me, felt leaps and bounds above book one and I was really taken back by the subtlety of character interaction and development. I wasn’t sure about the ending, but I can forgive Grossman that because I don’t know how else he could have possibly wound up the tragic core that lurked at the center of this series. I highly recommend the trilogy if you want a break from typical high fantasy.

 Favorite genre?

Fantasy, hands down. And not just dragons and elves but fantasy in all of its flavors. Even fantasy mash ups like Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, or Weird West. Anything that connects to that mythic core which we all share as human beings. I even consider superheros as part of the fantasy genre. They are a direct extension of epic heroic poetry and myth and I think any “science” they claim is so far outside the realm of possibility as to be more fantasy than straight up sci-fi. I mean, if you bombard someone with gamma rays, they become a chicken nugget, not a giant green rage monster. Just because you’ve disguised the source of the “magic” with scientific terms, doesn’t mean it becomes science fiction. Fantasy FTW! Go Hufflepuff! Baruk Kahzud! Winter is Coming!

Re-reader or not?

I rarely re-read. I’m not sure why. (I rarely re-watch movies either.) My only exception was the Dragonlance series when I was in middle school. I re-read those so many times the covers turned into a yellowed, flimsy thing which finally came off years later in my son’s hands. Aside from that, I’ve re-read the Narnia series a few times, mostly so I could read them to my son and also the Hobbit for the same reason. My wife and I read Harry Potter to him while he was in the womb and naturally we had to start over at book one when he was old enough to understand. I suppose the answer is sometimes - I re-read when I want to share a great story with others.

What would make you not finish a book?

The end of civilization. Of course, then I had have to start a utopian series ‘cause that would sell by the truckload (or donkey cart load).


His mother kidnapped, his superhero father absent, powerless Spencer Harrington faces a world of weaponized humans to prove himself and find the truth.

Nineteen-year-old Spencer is the son of the Crimson Mask, the world's most powerful Augment. Since witnessing his mother's abduction by a psychotic super villain two years ago, he's been confined to his father's arctic bunker. When the "Icehole" comes under attack from a rampaging robot, Spencer launches into his father's dangerous world of weaponized human beings known as Augments.

With no superpowers of his own save a multi-tool, a quick wit and a boatload of emotional trauma, Spencer seeks to uncover his mother's fate and confront his absentee superhero father. As he stumbles through a web of conspiracies and top secret facilities, he rallies a team of everyday people and cast-off Augments. But Spencer soon discovers that the Black Beetle isn't his only enemy, nor his worst.


The sound of dry leaves cascading downhill gets louder. My forehead lies flat on the cool earth and stubbornly, my head refuses to turn when I try to get a better look. My eyeballs feel disconnected and keep spinning, no matter how hard I focus. I see running shoes and black, ankle-length stretchy pants approaching. Maybe an Augment?

Wiry arms encircle my chest and start to pull. My moon boots catch at an awkward angle along the frame. As much as I’d love to, I can’t get my limbs to cooperate. She lifts and shifts and twists, struggling with my dead weight until the boot comes free and we tumble backwards. Smooth, damp, cool skin envelops my face for an instant and despite the mental numbness, my thawing hormones recognize the source.

Real, honest to God, non-digitized breasts. Goodbye, iPod diva.

The mystery girl struggles to her feet and drags me away from the crash site. Gently, she lays me on my side and kneels. A highlighted strand of dark brown hair has escaped her ponytail, dangling down her cheek. Her eyes glow with green flecks in the woodland light. Her lips are parted as if she’s mid-sentence. No makeup, just sweat and a smudge of dirt, all forming a stunning image.

I feel violently ill. Stabilizing my spinning head and lurching stomach becomes a priority. I roll over and clamber to my knees, palms flat on the ground. Standing would be a good start. Impressive, even. Heck, it would impress the hell out of me if I can manage to get vertical with the earth moving this much. I stagger to my feet while she keeps her hands poised to stop the impending face plant.

Figuring out some ingenious way of explaining how I crash landed in the woods that a) makes me sound badass, and b) convinces her I’m not an alien invader (unless she’s into that) isn’t working out at the moment. I could say something cool: “Me? I’ve seen worse.” Or go the funny guy route: “I meant to do that.”

Opening my mouth is a big mistake.

I really hope she didn’t like those shoes.


In the fourth grade, Russ Linton wrote down the vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when he grew up. After a journey that led him from philosopher to graphic designer to stay at home parent and even a stint as an Investigative Specialist with the FBI, he finally got around to that “writing” part which he now pursues full time.

Russ creates character-driven speculative fiction. His stories drip with blood, magic, and radioactive bugs. He writes for adults who are young at heart and youngsters who are old souls. Local / Personal Bio

Russ lives in Denton, Texas where he writes beside an unnervingly quiet dog with the support of his history-obsessed son and his extremely patient wife. He regularly pursues community service and is currently scoutmaster for his son’s Boy Scout troop. He is a regular at the North Branch Writers’ Critique Group and has honed his craft through creative writing courses with Stanford University’s continuing studies program as well as writing workshops at local conventions.

Russ holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which was marginally more useful in a former life not making his living from behind a desk. He enjoys the outdoors and when he isn’t leading his scouts on virtual campouts in Minecraft, he’s making them haul their gear across state parks in the North Texas area.

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  1. 100% right with what you feel for fantasy. I can't get enough. I'm to the point where I almost can't read anything with plain old romance, historical, etc...I've got to have some myth or magic to spice it up!

    1. Absolutely, Andra. Though I'm a bit weird because I'd also say literary fiction is high on the fave charts as well and that is usually the opposite of fantastical. But when is does start to blend a with fantasy, I'm completely in. One of my favorites:

  2. Thanks for the chat, Judith! You've got a great looking blog and I'll be stopping by to answer any questions. And a question for you and for your readers - what fantasy books do they recommend?

  3. I really enjoyed your comments, and then I read the excerpt. I LOVED it.

    1. Thanks so much - if you read via eBook, grab the full novel for only .99 cents at the links above!

  4. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Rita. If you can stomach Spencer for another 90k words or so, grab the full :) I enjoyed writing this scene and it leads into a complicated but strong relationship with Emily and Spencer which was fun to write throughout the book.

  5. I totally agree with your feeling on e-books. As much as I love reading print books the ability to collect so many titles without the space or waste wins out every time

    1. Yep. What amazes me is how many old-school sci-fi / spec fic readers aren't into eBooks. C'mon, guys, watch a Star Trek episode or two :)

  6. I really enjoy the excert, sounds like an awesome read. I enjoy ebooks for the same reason you do. Entering under the name of Virginia

    1. Thanks for entering and I wish you the best of luck! So far, Crimson Son is holding a 4.6 - 4.7 stars on Goodreads and Amazon so that's a good sign. Several people I've spoken with have read it in one sitting. I must've done something right but I'll leave it up to you as to how awesome it is!

  7. I really enjoyed your excerpt. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing a little about yourself.