Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guest Blog by Michael R. Underwood and Giveaway - October 12, 2014

Please welcome Michael R. Underwood to The Qwillery. The Younger Gods, the first novel in The Younger Gods series, will be published on October 13th by Pocket Star.

“He just doesn’t get it” – Writing a character with huge blind spots

Jacob Greene is the toughest character I’ve ever had to write. Which is funny, because in some ways, he’s very much like me.

Thing is, he’s very much like I was at ten. Before I started making friends again after moving across the country, getting bullied, running away from school, and moving schools again, before I learned self-confidence through RPGs and performing, before I learned to read social cues, before I specced social, we might say in RPG terms.

A lot of the time in The Younger Gods, poor Jake just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t know when to go with the flow and when to stand his ground with people. He can’t read the faces of strangers, and he is frequently carried away by his own thoughts, to the point that he misses what’s going on in conversations.

Overall, this makes him fairly socially inept, which is a pretty terrible place to be when you find yourself needing to make friends and gather allies in order to stop your older and far-more-powerful sister from kicking off the apocalypse.

Written in first person, Jake was an incredibly hard character for me to get a handle on. His sequestered, evil-god-worshipping upbringing colors every part of his view of the world, and even as he casts off the ways of his family, when he arrives in NYC to make a new life, he’s completely unprepared for college, city living, and polite conversation.

This made Jake very easy to write and yet, conversely, made the novel much harder to write. It was relatively easy to know how Jake would react to situations, but because of how limited his skill set and perspective was, it was harder to get some of the other work of the novel done, in terms of conveying nuance in other character’s interactions (which Jake usually misses) and other matters.

The biggest limitation, for me, was the fact that Jake doesn’t have much of a sense of humor. Most of what he grew up learning was funny involved blood sacrifice and arcane bargains. In terms of cultural fluency and pop-culture awareness, Jake is the anti-Ree (from my books Geekomancy, Celebromancy, etc.). Going from a character who derived her magical power from popular culture to a character who was ignorant of all but the best-known cultural references was a challenging, but effective palate cleanser, helping me round out my skills in writing dialogue and shaping character voice.

And since Jake spends most of the novel running around trying to gather allies to oppose his sister’s attempts to start the apocalypse, Jake’s awkwardness, cultural incompetence, and inability to read people means that he’s constantly getting in his own way, and only starts to succeed as he adjusts to having allies and learns to respect their abilities and talents (namely, in accepting that they should be the ones to talk to strangers instead of him).

Jacob was a chore to write, but the extra challenge that his perspective yielded for the book was also a huge opportunity to improve my skills, and in pulling off the difficult lead, to provide readers with a distinct and compelling main character, and, hopefully, an unforgettable read.

The Younger Gods
The Younger Gods 1
Pocket Star, October 13, 2014
eBook, 255 pages

The first in a new series from the author of Geekomancy (pop culture urban fantasy) and Shield and Crocus (New Weird superhero fantasy).

Jacob Greene was a sweet boy raised by a loving, tight-knit family…of cultists. He always obeyed, and was so trusted by them that he was the one they sent out on their monthly supply run (food, medicine, pig fetuses, etc.).

Finding himself betrayed by them, he flees the family’s sequestered compound and enters the true unknown: college in New York City. It’s a very foreign place, the normal world and St. Mark’s University. But Jacob’s looking for a purpose in life, a way to understand people, and a future that breaks from his less-than-perfect past. However, when his estranged sister arrives in town to kick off the apocalypse, Jacob realizes that if he doesn’t gather allies and stop the family’s prophecy of destruction from coming true, nobody else will…

Also by Michael R. Underwood

Shield and Crocus
47North, June 10, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 416 pages

In a city built among the bones of a fallen giant, a small group of heroes looks to reclaim their home from the five criminal tyrants who control it.

The city of Audec-Hal sits among the bones of a Titan. For decades it has suffered under the dominance of five tyrants, all with their own agendas. Their infighting is nothing, though, compared to the mysterious “Spark-storms” that alternate between razing the land and bestowing the citizens with wild, unpredictable abilities. It was one of these storms that gave First Sentinel, leader of the revolutionaries known as the Shields of Audec-Hal, power to control the emotional connections between people—a power that cost him the love of his life.

Now, with nothing left to lose, First Sentinel and the Shields are the only resistance against the city’s overlords as they strive to free themselves from the clutches of evil. The only thing they have going for them is that the crime lords are fighting each other as well—that is, until the tyrants agree to a summit that will permanently divide the city and cement their rule of Audec-Hal.

It’s one thing to take a stand against oppression, but with the odds stacked against the Shields, it’s another thing to actually triumph.

In this stunning, original tale of magic and revolution, Michael R. Underwood creates a cityscape that rivals Ambergris and New Crobuzon in its depth and populates it with heroes and villains that will stay with you forever.

Attack the Geek
Ree Reyes Sidequest
Pocket Star, April 7, 2014
eNovella, 160 pages

A side-quest novella in the bestselling Geekomancy urban fantasy series—when D&D-style adventures go from the tabletop to real life, look out!

Ree Reyes, urban fantasista and Geekomancer extraordinaire, is working her regular drink-slinger shift at Grognard’s bar-and-gaming salon when everything goes wrong. The assorted magic wielders of the city’s underground have come to test their battle skills via RPGs like D&D, V:TES, White Wolf, and the like. All the usuals are there: her ex-mentor Eastwood, Drake (the man-out-of-time adventurer), and, of course, Grognard himself (her boss and a brewer of beer that act as magic potions). However, it’s the presence of these and other “usuals” that makes all the trouble. For, a nemesis from Eastwood and Ree’s past decides to finally take her revenge not just on those two, but on every self-styled “hero” in the city who happens to have crossed her at one point or another. When wave after wave of monsters besiege Grogrnard’s store, if Ree & Co. are going to survive, they’re going to have to work together. And avoid the minotaur. That’s always a good rule of thumb.

Ree Reyes 2
Pocket Star, July 15, 2013
eBook, 400 pages

Fame has a magic all its own in the no-gossip-barred follow-up to Geekomancy. Ree Reyes gets her big screenwriting break, only to discover just how broken Hollywood actually is.

Things are looking up for urban fantasista Ree Reyes. She’s using her love of pop culture to fight monsters and protect her hometown as a Geekomancer, and now a real-live production company is shooting her television pilot script.

But nothing is easy in show business. When an invisible figure attacks the leading lady of the show, former child-star-turned-current-hot-mess Jane Konrad, Ree begins a school-of-hard-knocks education in the power of Celebromancy.

Attempting to help Jane Geekomancy-style with Jedi mind tricks and X-Men infiltration techniques, Ree learns more about movie magic than she ever intended. She also learns that real life has the craziest plots: not only must she lift a Hollywood-strength curse, but she needs to save her pilot, negotiate a bizarre love rhombus, and fight monsters straight out of the silver screen. All this without anyone getting killed or, worse, banished to the D-List.

Ree Reyes 1
Pocket Star, July 10, 2012
eBook, 400 pages

Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire the Slayer in this original urban fantasy eBook about Geekomancers—humans that derive supernatural powers from pop culture.

Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comicshop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.

When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.

Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?

About Michael

Michael R. Underwood is the author of Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the Geek, Shield and Crocus, and The Younger Gods. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. He has a BA in Creative Mythology and East Asian Studies, and an MA in Folklore Studies. Mike has been a bookseller, a barista, a game store cashwrap monkey, and an independent publishers’ representative. Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiancée, an ever-growing library, and a super-team of dinosaur figurines and stuffed animals. He is also a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. In his rapidly vanishing free time, Mike studies historical martial arts and makes homemade pizza. He blogs at and Tweets @MikeRUnderwood.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @MikeRUnderwood

The Giveaway

What:  Two entrants each will win a digital copy of The Younger Gods (The Younger Gods 1) by Michael R. Underwood from Pocket Star. US RESIDENTS ONLY

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to US Residents. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on October 20, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change at any time without notice*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Live the sound of this new series. I'm big fan of Geekomancy, so eager for this one.

  2. I have not as yet read any of your books. The look great!

  3. Sounds like a new twist on urban fantasy. Socially inept college student leaves cultist family behind for the big city. Adventure ensues. I enjoyed reading about the writing process and what challenges this book and the main character presented. Looking forward to reading it.

  4. both of these series sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. This new series sounds like I might very much enjoy it. I've already added it to my TBR list.

  6. I would really love to read this! Looks awesome!!