The Alastair Stone Chronicles Series
by R. L. King
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Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor, powerful mage, and snarky British expat now based in Palo Alto, California, does his best to keep his academic and social lives separate from his increasingly frequent brushes with various malevolent forces from the supernatural side of the street. A little horror, a little humor, but mostly straight-up urban fantasy.
Stone and a Hard Place
Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor and powerful mage, has his hands full trying to keep the two sides of his life separate as he trains a new apprentice, deals with a malevolent entity trapped in the basement of a wealthy old woman’s massive home, and battles dark mages intent on enslaving it for their own ends.
Debut novel of the Alastair Stone Chronicles.
Dr. Alastair Stone is back, this time teaming up with Jason Thayer, a young man hunting for his missing sister. Embroiled in a web of odd homeless people, a growing conspiracy, and deadly danger, they soon realize that even if they find Jason’s sister, they might not be able to help her.
What do you do when you discover an extra dimensional plot that threatens the safety of the entire world, but you can’t tell anyone about it because literally anyone on Earth could be part of it?
Book Two of the Alastair Stone Chronicles.
“I had a bad dream,” she said, head buried in Stripey’s neck. It was hard for Stone to make out what she said; he tuned out everything in the room except the little girl in front of him.
“I see…” he said softly. “I have those sometimes, too. What sort of bad dream was it?”
“I don’t know.” She sniffled. “I got up to go to the bafroom. I had to pee.” At that point, she began to shake. “Then I don’t ’member anything until…until…”
“It’s all right,” he said. “Take your time.” Her aura was a mess now, the dark spots rising up to nearly blot out the normal gold. Clearly, her thoughts were agitating her. Behind her, Barnett started to rise from his chair, but Stone waved him back down.
Madison pulled in a deep, shuddering breath and met his eyes. “I…I was standing next to Mommy’s bed. She had something in her eye. There was…blood.” Without warning, she leaped from her chair, flinging Stripey aside and launching herself into Stone’s lap. Her back shook as she dissolved into tears.
Stone, startled, for a moment did nothing. He glanced up at Barnett (help me!) and hesitantly put his arms around the little girl, feeling her wracking sobs. “Shh…” he whispered. “It’s all right…” Of course it’s not all right. You murdered your mother and you don’t even remember it. How can anything ever be all right for you again?
Today I’m very fortunate to be interviewing R. L. King, author of Stone and a Hard Place and The Forgotten; The Alastair Stone Chronicles.
Hi, and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I grew up in southern California, with a fairly typical ‘70s suburban middle class only-child experience. I got my love of things that go bump in the night from my mother, who was into paranormal stuff, and my love of books and technology from my dad. I learned to read early and spent most of my free time either reading books or writing stories. These days, I work as a technical writer at a large Silicon Valley database company. I live in San Jose with my spouse and a small herd of cats.
What were you like at school?
I was a brain, an introvert, and a nerd (all of which I was proud of!) I got good grades, didn’t get into trouble, and generally hung out with a couple of like-minded friends. Most of my rebellions were played out on the pages of stories, rather than in real life. I had a very active fantasy life in school!
Were you good at English?
Very. English was my best subject, and I always found it easy. In high school, I managed to get top scores on essays from two different teachers who informed us at the beginning of the semester that they didn’t give top scores, as well as winning two Academic Letters in English and scoring one of only two 5s in AP English the year I took the test.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I self-publish, and want to continue doing so. I’ve been more successful at it than I honestly expected to be—not “quit the day job” successful, but definitely successful enough that I want to continue with what I’m doing. For a while I thought I might want to shoot for traditional publishing, but as I get older and self-publishing becomes more feasible, I’ve come to the conclusion that I like being in control of things like my cover art and my release schedule. I’m also hoping to have at least one more novel published in the Shadowrun game universe (my first one was published earlier this year).
Which writers inspire you?
Several: J. K. Rowling, for starting out with basically nothing and managing to build a billion-dollar writing empire (that’s pretty darn inspiring!) Stephen King and Graham Masterton are my favorite horror authors, and their stories have inspired me since I was a kid. More recently, I’ve become a fan of Jim Butcher (of the Dresden Files series) when friends told me I had to read his stuff because I was playing in the same sandbox. I love the complexity of his series, and how he’s got so much of it mapped out so he knows the whole arc of the series out to 20-something books. I would love to be able to do that.
Give us an insight into your Dr. Alastair Stone. What does he do that is so special?
Dr. Alastair Stone is a 35-year-old British mage who moonlights as an Occult Studies professor at Stanford. He’s smart, sarcastic, cynical, mercurial, a little bit arrogant, charming, very good at what he does, and can be somewhat clueless about some aspects of mundane life. He can’t quite figure out why women tend to be attracted to him (at least until they get close to him and see the weirdness that makes up his life) but he’s happy to roll with it. He’s got enough curiosity to supply a dozen cats, which tends to get him into trouble when he starts tracking down magical mysteries without much regard to how dangerous they can be. He’s a lot of fun to write, and he always manages to surprise me at least once or twice per book.
What are you working on presently?
Right now, I’ve just started another Stone Chronicles book, which will probably end up being Book 6 in the series. I’ve only got about 2,000 words done, though, so it’s got a long way to go.
Which actor would you like to see playing Dr. Stone from The Alastair Stone Chronicles Series?
David Tennant. I’ve thought he’d make a good Dr. Stone since the first time I saw him in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” a few years back, and when I started watching him in Doctor Who, it just confirmed my thought. Tennant does a great mercurial genius, he’s great at sarcasm, and he can go from daffy to frighteningly intense in the space of a second—all qualities that would be perfect for Stone.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
Originally, it was because I wanted to make up stories about the people in my head, and write the books I wanted to read. I got my start writing real novels by writing fan fiction for Shadowrun (in fact, Dr. Stone’s early prototype started out as my Shadowrun character), and once I realized I could write novels that people enjoyed reading, I decided to branch out and write something in my own original world so I could sell it.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
My day job goes from about 7:30 to 4:00 (I telecommute so I don’t have to drive to work), so I fit my fiction writing in around that—lunch hours, after work, and weekends. When I’m working on a project I write whenever I get the chance, but after the project’s finished I usually need anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to “recharge” before I can start another. Fortunately, lately it’s been closer to weeks than months, because I’ve got a lot of ideas piling up!
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere! I get ideas from movies, TV shows, books, news stories, internet articles, conversations, friends…I just write them down and file them away, and eventually most of them find a home in a story somewhere.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
A little of each. I like to have a basic idea of the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and I usually plot out the first few chapters in detail but let the characters help determine where the story’s going. By the time I get to the end of the plotted part, my brain has usually conjured up some ideas for where to go next based on what I’ve already written.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Do you read much and who are your favorite authors.
I don’t read as much as I used to, just due to lack of time. I used to read voraciously when I was younger, though, and I still find time for new books by favorite authors and occasionally trying out someone new. I want to try to make more time to read indie books—there’s a lot of good stuff out there! My favorite authors are Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Graham Masterton, J. K. Rowling, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and Chuck Palahniuk.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I like print books—maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I like the feeling of an actual book in my hands. That’s not to say I don’t have plenty of eBooks on my iPad, though!
What book are you currently reading?
Currently, I’m in the middle of the new Steve Jobs biography, Becoming Steve Jobs; The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; and I just recently finished Stephen King’s new one, Finders Keepers.
Tell us about the covers and how they came about.
I had an idea of what I wanted on my covers, but I’m not good enough as either an artist or a Photoshop whiz to be able to make them happen myself, so I knew I would have to go with a pro designer. I have very strong ideas about what I want, but I also recognize that I have to let the artist do what they do. Fortunately, I’ve been really lucky in that I found a great designer who is patient with my nit pickiness.
Who designed your book covers?
I found some indie book covers I liked and asked the authors who did them; from these recommendations, I chose Streetlight Graphics. They do great, professional looking work for a reasonable price, and they’re doing all my series covers.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for The Alastair Stone Chronicles Series?
I’d love to have a trailer, but not until I can find someone who can do a really professional one for me. I haven’t spent a lot of time looking. It’s on my list, but I’ve heard mixed opinions about how effective book trailers are. We’ll see.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Hard to say. I know authors who’ve had success with it, so it probably does work, but I haven’t done much of it myself. I’ve given a few books away to fellow authors for honest reviews, but for the most part I’ve just had my books out there for sale and they’ve been selling, so I haven’t seen the need to give too many away.
How do you relax?
I like to read, play with my cats, hang out with my spouse, and watch occasional TV (I’m a huge Whovian so I’m looking forward to the new season of Doctor Who coming in September). I also occasionally play MMOs (World of Warcraft, etc.) but I’ve mostly kicked that addiction and I don’t really want to give it a foothold again!
What is your favorite quote?
I have several, but the two that come immediately to mind are:
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” – H. P. Lovecraft
“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – J. K. Rowling (Albus Dumbledore)
What is your favorite movie?
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve loved that movie since I was six years old, and I still stop to watch it every time I find it playing on TV.
R.L. King is an award-winning author and game freelancer for Catalyst Game Labs, publisher of the popular roleplaying game Shadowrun. She has contributed fiction and game material to numerous sourcebooks, as well as one full-length adventure, “On the Run,” included as part of the 2012 Origins-Award-winning “Runners’ Toolkit.”
Her first novel in the Shadowrun universe, Borrowed Time, was published in May 2015.
When not doing her best to make life difficult for her characters, King is a software technical writer for a large Silicon Valley database company. In her spare time (hah!) she enjoys hanging out with her very understanding spouse and her small herd of cats, watching way too much Doctor Who, and attending conventions when she can. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers’ Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.
The author will be awarding a $40 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.