Gemmell Awards 2018 Voting Now Open

This year’s Gemmell Awards are open for voting from now until March 30th! This is a very cool award that we’ve highlighted in the past on the podcast, and general voting is open to the public. Be sure to swing by their website and vote for your favorite! Over the past year we’ve had the privilege of interviewing the authors and discussing several of the titles nominated for this year’s various awards. We’ve centralized a few of those interviews in one place with links to Amazon and to each interview. For a complete archive of all past episodes you can swing by our Podbean site! Best of luck to all, be sure to follow us on Twitter @GrimdarkFiction to stay updated on who makes the short list!


THE LEGEND AWARD – The best overall fantasy title for the year via open vote.

Sebastien de CastellTyrant’s Throne, Book 4 of The Greatcoats

🎧 Listen to our interview with Sebastien!

Brian StaveleySkullsworn

🎧 Listen to our interview with Brian!


THE MORNINGSTAR AWARD – Also an open vote on the best debut fantasy of the year.

RJ BarkerAge of Assassins, Book 1 of The Wounded Kingdom

🎧 Listen to our interview with RJ!

Anna Smith-SparkThe Court of Broken Knives, Book 1 of The Empires of Dust

🎧 Listen to our interview wtih Anna Smith Spark!

Nicholas EamesKings of the Wyld, Book 1 of The Band

🎧 Listen to our interview with Nicholas!

Deborah A. WolfThe Dragon’s Legacy, Book 1 of The Dragon’s Legacy Saga

🎧 Listen to our interview with Deborah!

Ed McDonaldBlackwing, Book 1 of The Raven’s Mark

🎧 Listen to our interview with Ed!

Anna StephensGodblind, Book 1 of The Godblind Trilogy

🎧 Listen to our interview with Anna Stephens!



The Grim Tidings Podcast: RJ Barker

Listen to the episode here!

The British Invasion comes to an epic conclusion as we’re joined by R.J. Barker! During our expletive laden (not really) and completely serious (also not really) interview, we talk all about R.J.’s epic fantasy debut from Orbit Books titled AGE OF ASSASSINS! We discuss the appeal of assassins, what inspired R.J. to give the lead character a disability, musical influences in writing, antlers, taxidermy, badgers, and much, much … much more. We’ve also included a super cool reading from AGE OF ASSASSINS at the conclusion of the podcast as well! Find R.J. Barker online at, or on Twitter @dedbutdrmng!


Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

Different, Not Damaged: The Short Story Collection by Andy Peloquin

The Book Geeks Uncomprimised Podcast

Helen’s Daimones by S.E. Lindberg

Past episodes you’ll want to check out:

Interview with Anna Smith Spark

Interview with Ed McDonald

Interview with Anna Stephens


Support GTP on Patreon

Download on iTunesStitcher, or Podbean

Online at

On Facebook

On Twitter @GrimdarkFiction

Rob Matheny on FacebookTwitterInstagram

Philip Overby online at, or on Twitter

Music by Michael R. Fletcher

GOAT DEMON BLOOD SWORD #2: Michael R. Fletcher

GRIM GOZZOTH: Welcome to Goat Demon Blood Sword hosted by Grim Gozzoth, the only interview that features a goblin that has destroyed multiple villages and is the number one collector of elf scalps in the southeast. Today’s guest is delusional writer guy, battle bard, and whiskey bottle berserker Michael R. Fletcher!

MICHAEL R. FLETCHER: Blood and Souls for my Lord Arioch!

Hey, what’s up?

It’s 5am so I’m mostly sober. Are we killing things today? Wait. How did I get here?

GG: Many writerly types often encounter the Curtain of Enveloping Despair, a parasitic entity that enshrouds their being and teleports them to the Zinstraki Outworld. How have you dealt with this experience yourself?

MRF: Oh hell yes! Being an author is basically being a porta-potty for the world. You smell bad, and everyone thinks they can use you for free.

Personally I have found an unhealthy amount of Jameson whiskey murders that part of my brain capable of despair. The amount and duration of dosing varies with how big a loaf the publishing world has squatted on you. Say your publisher decides that, in spite of rave reviews, your book isn’t selling and they’re not interested in the sequel. That will require an entire 26 ounce bottle (about 750 millilitres) per week for at least two months. Combine that with bad late night TV and you have a recipe for guttered emptiness far preferable to soul-crushing misery.

GG: I have a question from a 2nd Tier Carrion God: “Blor deltek glom govra?”

MRF: Seriously? That again? Look, I was young and I needed the money. Do we really have to bring this shit up every time?

GG: When fighting a human-corpse-angel chimera, what is the best weapon to use?

MRF: Personally I’d go with a really comfortable set of New Balance running shoes.

But sometimes flight is not an option. Like when the fucker steals the last of your salted caramel chocolates. In this case a grilled cheese sandwich made with a Chardonnay Dijon mustard and cave-aged Gruyère is prolly your best bet. Distract it with the sandwich and then stab the fucker with your butter knife. It won’t really hurt the monster, but it’ll be so embarrassed at being shanked by a butter knife it’ll leave. Remember to brown the butter.

GG: You have an obsession with mirrors, especially ones that leak blood and viscera on the Fourth Day of the Hollow Harvest. Why is that?

MRF: No I don’t. I’m fine.

Ok. Maybe.

I like breaking people. Shattering them. Reducing them to their component parts. Real people are too complex to make good characters. If you want a character people can relate to, you have to take someone real and shred them until you find that one tasty nugget of their behaviour. In Beyond Redemption Wichtig, Konig, and Erbrechen (the Slaver) were all based on one real person. He had many harvestable qualities. I carved each one from his soul and made it real, gave it life. It was a messy process.

I’m obsessed with personality, what makes us us.

GG: What is your current favorite TV show?

MRF: Uh… I’ve been enjoying Dark Matter. I don’t watch much TV cuz I’m too busy writing and editing. And my wife and I have slowly been getting caught up on Game of Thrones. I really wanted to like the Lethal Weapon series but it was awful and can only be watched when extremely drunk.

GG: Gargle a unicorn’s last tears or gurgle from your throat hole for one year?

MRF: Unicorn tears for sure. Hell, I’d do that just to watch the horror on Rob Matheny’s face. There’s nothing sweeter than ravaging someone’s deepest, most heartfelt joy.

GG: If you were to prepare a roasted elf head to present to your newest Burzmouth war council, how would you season it?

MRF: I’m a crap cook. The only thing I know for sure is that if I use garlic powder my wife will kick my ass all over the place. Apparently it’s some kind of cardinal sin. It’s gotta be real garlic.

That said, I do hate elves. I’d probably roast low and slow it at 250F for about four hours. Toss all your veggies in there potatoes, carrots, troll toe fungus) and let it cook in the elf brain juices.

GG: Tell us a tale of 200,000 words.

MRF: There once was a novel of 200,000 words. It was long and bloated and had too many POV characters that did nothing for the story. It had chapters and chapters of people eating lunch and walking somewhere.

Then, one day, a brave writer tackled that novel. She dragged it down and hog-tied the fucker, butchering it with her +5 Sword of Vorpal Editing. She kicked its story lines in the plums with her mighty +3 Boots of Foreshadowing. She carved it apart, left it tight and zinging with tension.

Knowing that publishing as a dude was more likely to lead to success, she found a whitey-white average Anglo name for herself. Because her nerd step-brother was so whitey-white average looking, she got him to pose for author pictures and do any live interviews for her. She even made him read her books so he could talk about them semi-intelligently. He thought they were okay but a little strange.

Sometimes she even told people what she’d done because no one would ever believe her.

GG: Lastly, tell us about yourself and your books!

MRF: What? Uh… I’m this average whitey-white dude with a taste for dark fantasy and science fiction novels.

My books so far…

The Manifest Delusions novels, where insanity defines reality:

Beyond Redemption (Harper Voyager, 2015)

The Mirror’s Truth (Self-Published, 2017)

Swarm and Steel (SkyHorse, 2017)

Ghosts of Tomorrow (standalone science fiction, self-published, 2017)

You can find me at…

Twitter: @FletcherMR


All or Nothing: 5 Polarizing Fantasy Series (Guest Post by Brandon Draga)

Editor’s Note: The views of Brandon Draga do not necessarily reflect the views of The Grim Tidings Podcast hosts, Rob Matheny or Philip Overby. Just need to say that shit so you can get pissed off at Brandon if you don’t agree. 🙂

Fandom is kind of a funny thing, isn’t it? One side of it is this wholesome, beautiful thing; people coming together over a shared love of something. There’s a power to it – one need look no farther than the multi-million-dollar spectacle that is San Diego Comic Con to see that power. When people love something, there is a passionate fervor that only grows exponentially as they meet kindred spirits.

The flip-side of this, naturally, is the rivalries, the little fissures brought about by what seems innocuous to the uninitiated.

Batman or Superman?

Nike SB or Vans?

The Ramones or the Sex Pistols?

THAC0 or Scaling AC?

Now naturally everyone knows that Batman always has a contingency plan, Vans Old-Skools are iconic, The Ramones had (marginally) more talent, and nobody wants to use a THAC0 table to figure out if they actually hit that goblin.

Except, well, everybody doesn’t know that, necessarily.

This is where fandoms start to get a bit messy. You see, when someone gets passionate about something, they get passionate about every bit of minutia therein, sometimes to the point of vitriol. Now don’t get me wrong, I have been a live and let live type for as long as I can remember. Some, however, are a bit more… vocal in their protestation or praise. It’s not all that surprising, really. I mean, the word fan did start out as shorthand for fanatic, after all.

As with comics, skateboarding, music, Dungeons and Dragons, and really anything that has a fandom, fantasy fiction is far from immune from this sort of thing. There is no shortage of swathing epic stories, masterfully written by experts in their craft, books that are lauded extensively and, as if by some nebulous Newtonian law, torn to pieces by their detractors. Before I get into the list, I would like to start with the caveat that it is wildly unscientific. My observations are simply those of someone who has repeatedly seen the books listed garner predominantly spirited reactions, in both directions, whenever they are discussed. Further, the opinions below are not necessarily my own, one way or the other. Taste is subjective, and I encourage everyone to approach any other readers’ opinions with a grain of salt.

So, with that out of the way, here are five love-’em-or-hate-’em, polarizing series in fantasy.

1. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

This seminal series is considered by many to be the exact point where the decades-long era of Lord of the Rings clones came to an end, ushering in the era of modern fantasy in which we now reside. Heck, spanning from 1990’s

Eye of the World to 2013’s A Memory of Light, one could easily argue that Jordan’s (and eventually Sanderson’s) fourteen-book journey has been the very backbone of modern fantasy, and indeed many do. Conversely, though, many are quick to point out that many of the middle volumes in the series feel like a slough, that many of the characters (particularly female characters) remain painfully unlikable throughout, and that for a series so idolized for helping to bring fantasy into modernity it does little to deviate from the tired “orphan farmboy is destined to save the world” trope of its predecessors. Universally, however, I think we can all agree that the… whatever it was that Billy Zane’s production company released last year to try and retain its film rights was a bigger steaming pile than the ill-fated Legend of the Seeker series. Which naturally brings me to…

2. Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind

I can probably count on one hand the number of fantasy readers I’ve come across that haven’t at least read Wizard’s First Rule. In fact, most would probably be in agreement that the first of Goodkind’s seemingly unending saga is a perfectly serviceable middle-of-the-road book. From 1995’s Stone of Tears onward, however, reactions become progressively more mixed. Many praise the books’ unabashed depictions of dark, mature themes, and the character arc of Richard, their chief protagonist. If nothing else, the series’ longevity (the latest Warheart, was released in 2015) is testament to its loyal fan base. The series’ equally vocal detractors, however, most often argue that each passing book is a progressively more thinly-veiled platform from which Goodkind can bloviate about his staunchly libertarian beliefs.

3. The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

Alright, I’m going to get this out of the way right now: yes, a huge part of what makes this series contentious is how long fans have been waiting for book three. No, I don’t think this is a valid criticism. That’s a topic for another time however.
It would not surprise me if, at time of writing, at least a dozen PhD dissertations have been written about these books. Rothfuss broke enough molds with

The Name of the Wind that I’m pretty sure he got permanently banned from every tool and die factory in his native Wisconsin as a result. Most often, those who sing KKC’s praises do so by way of lauding the quality of Pat’s prose, which is of a quality and style more frequently seen in bookstores’ “Literary Fiction” shelves than their “Sci-Fi/Fantasy” shelves. All the while, the books remain far more accessible to the average reader than the lit fic to which they are so often compared.

For all the ink spilled placing these books on a pedestal, however, one needn’t look far to see just as much spilled in an attempt to dethrone them. For all the talk of beautiful prose, it is apparently not enough for some to find anything redeemable about Kvothe, often touted as an egotistical Mary-Sue with a penchant for embellishment and eyes for a thoroughly unlikable love interest.

But seriously… get off Pat’s back about book three, especially if you fall in the latter camp.

The Legend of Drizz’t by R.A. Salvatore

Kvothe notwithstanding, if you ask one hundred fantasy readers who comes to their mind when you say either “Mary Sue” or “Gary Stu”, it’s a safe bet that at least half of them will say Drizz’t Do’urden, the titular dark elf of R.A. Salvatore’s infamous long-running series of Forgotten Realms tie-in novels.

Much like other entries on this list, this series’ longevity is a clear testament to the fact that it is beloved among its fans. For many, the original Icewind Dale Trilogy was their first foray into fantasy fiction, from TSR’s initial release of

The Crystal Shard in 1988 up through present day, where Wizards of the Coast is into its umpteenth printing of the book. This is to say nothing of the fact that Bob has released a new Drizz’t book almost annually. For many, the dual-wielding Drow ranger and his adventures are as comfortable as pulling out your Hallowe’en decorations every year.
For many others, however, said comfort is mitigated by the fact that after nearly three decades the old decorations haven’t held up all that well. Most commonly one finds the argument that the series simply never grew up along with its readers, and that while Drizz’t was a compelling, cool character when one was age 13 to 18, his act and actions are a bit too one-note for anyone who already went through puberty.

5. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.

When I first thought of the idea for this piece, this was the first series that popped into my mind. In my experience, when talking about fans of Erikson’s ten-volume epic, to call them “devoted” would be a vast understatement. There is something of a joke among those who frequent Reddit’s /r/Fantasy sub-forum that if someone is looking for recommendations, regardless of their taste in books, Malazan will get suggested.
If we’re being honest, it’s half joke and half statement of fact.

For those who love the series, there is a lot to love about it. Its history is rich, literally millennia deep. Its story is complex, featuring a multitude of characters that exist throughout the time and space of the world, and most fans agree that the story gets better with each book. That is, if you can make it through Gardens of the Moon.

The fact of the matter is, for many the story comes off as disjointed and convoluted; overly complex for the sake of being complex. By the end of the first book one can feel burned out, and lacking any real connection to any of the characters. Like those who played Final Fantasy XIII, many see the argument of “You just need to push through until X, then it starts to get good!” as a detriment, and not worth the time or energy, much less the oftentimes intense fan base.

Ultimately, these aren’t the only contentious fantasy series’ out there, and certainly they won’t be the last to inspire argument from both sides. At the end of the day, it’s not a bad idea to remember that opinions are subjective, and that even in the age when they can so readily be shared, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wanted unless someone asks first. After all, just because we disagree about a part of something doesn’t mean we can’t love the whole of it just the same, right?

Except for THAC0… Seriously, why did it take game designers so long to get rid of that?

Brandon Draga was born in 1986, just outside Toronto, Ontario. His love of all things fantasy began at an early age with games like The Legend of Zelda, Heroquest, and Dungeons and Dragons. This affinity for the arcane and archaic led to his studying history at York University from 2005 to 2011. In late 2012, he began writing a D&D campaign setting that would lay the groundwork for the world of Olhean, the setting for his “Four Kingdoms Saga” novel series, compared by critics to the works of Terry Brooks, Michael J. Sullivan, and R.A. Salvatore. Brandon has also proven that SF/F can be made accessible at any age, writing the lauded picture book “Dragon in the Doghouse”. Brandon still lives just outside Toronto, and when he is not writing enjoys skateboarding, playing guitar, and playing tabletop games.

Social Media Stuff
Twitter: @brandondraga
Instagram: brandondraga

To find Brandon’s books, check out his Amazon author page here!

The Summerlark Elf is available on Audible as well. You can check it out here.

And Brandon’s in a new anthology called The Dwarves of the World. Swoop in and get that dwarven goodness here.

For more Draga in your ears, you can listen to our Keeping it Indie Panel episode of The Grim Tidings Podcast as well!

The Grim Tidings Podcast: Anna Stephens

Click here for the episode!

It’s a new episode of GTP! The British Invasion continues as we highlight some of the coolest debut authors emerging from the UK! Today Rob and Phil are joined by Anna Stephens, author of the Gridmark fantasy debut novel GODBLIND! During our lively chat we discuss Anna’s ten plus year to publication, we’ll chat about mythology and religion, what aspects make her fantasy debut Grimdark, how Anna got an agent and her transition into full-time writing, and more! Find Anna online at!

Buy GODBLIND by Anna Stephens on Amazon!

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:


PATERNUS by Dyrk Ashton

HEART OF STONE by Ben Galley

Past episodes you’ll want to check out:

Interview with Ed McDonald

Interview with Anna Smith Spark


Support GTP on Patreon

Download on iTunesStitcher, or Podbean

Online at

On Facebook

On Twitter @GrimdarkFiction

Rob Matheny on FacebookTwitterInstagram

Philip Overby online at, or on Twitter

Music by Michael R. Fletcher

The Grim Tidings Podcast: Ross E. Lockhart

Click here for the episode!

It’s Halloween and host Rob Matheny spooks it up with author, editor, and publisher Ross E. Lockhart to talk about the latest Word Horde anthology TALES FROM A TALKING BOARD. We’ll chat about what inspired the horror anthology, we’ll talk about the foundations of the small California-based press, the appeal of creating a well composed anthology, some of Ross’s favorite anthologies, the impact of publishing award winning fiction like the Bram Stoker Award-winning Mr. Suicide and The Fisherman, as well as a preview of forthcoming titles. It’s a great conversation with a small press publisher doing big things in the industry. Find Word Horde online at, or follow Ross on Twitter @LossRockhart!


Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

LILITH’S PUPPET by Richard Le Tourneau

A WIZARDS’ FORGE by A.M. Justice

ARMCAST Dead Sexy Horror Podcast

Past episodes you’ll want to check out:

Dark Poetry Special: The Crimson Circle

Editor Ellen Datlow


Support GTP on Patreon

Download on iTunesStitcher, or Podbean

Online at

On Facebook

On Twitter @GrimdarkFiction

Rob Matheny on FacebookTwitterInstagram

Philip Overby online at, or on Twitter

Music by Michael R. Fletcher

The Grim Tidings Podcast: Dark Poetry Special: The Crimson Circle

Listen to the episode here!

In this episode we take a special look at dark poetry. Host Rob Matheny recently attended the Hippocampus Press Happy Hour, a special event debuting the publisher’s newest poetry collections as part of the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon. During the event Rob had a chance to interview four writers who specialize in dark poetry: Ashley Dioses, K.A. Opperman, Adam Bolivar, and D.L. Myers – also known as The Crimson Circle. Rob also interviewed Obadiah Baird and Dan Sauer of The Audient Void, a small Oregon-based zine featuring the works of The Crimson Circle among others. This episode highlights the growing dark poetry community, including short readings from each poet.

Visit Hippocampus Press to buy the titles mentioned on today’s episode!

The Audient Void, A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy

Ashley Dioses – K.A. Opperman – Adam Bolivar – D.L. Myers

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

The Five Minutes Stories Podcast, a little bit of story to last you all day

PATERNUS by Dyrk Ashton

Past episodes you’ll want to check out:

Interview with editor Ellen Datlow

Interview with Paul Tremblay


Support GTP on Patreon

Download on iTunesStitcher, or Podbean

Online at

On Facebook

On Twitter @GrimdarkFiction

Rob Matheny on FacebookTwitterInstagram

Philip Overby online at, or on Twitter

Music by Michael R. Fletcher