A quick shout-out to two writing friends of mine, Tama Wise and Christopher Ruz, for the release of their debuts. Congratulations, guys!
Street Dreams by Tama Wise
Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson’s fallen in love at first sight.
Only thing is, it’s another guy.
Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he’s going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems. The least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he’s found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.
Check out the first review at The Muses’ Circle:
I give Street Dreams a solid 4 out of 5 star rating for its distinctive, colorful characters, its controversial subject matter, and also showing us a slice of life most people would never know about. If you like hip hop, break dancing, and graffiti art, then you will fall under Tama Wise’s spell and want to know more about Siege, Ihaia, and Loot, characters I haven’t even had the chance to talk about, but will bring this Auckland hip hop world to life before your very own eyes. Street Dreams is not one of those books that makes your heart race; its one of those novels that is powerful in its subtlety. It makes you think long after the last page has been read. It can be a influential tool in the right hands, a great source that addresses the ever controversial topics of gay stereotypes and homosexuality vs. cultural identity.
Century of Sand by Christopher Ruz
Richard and Ana are on the run.
As a young soldier, Richard led a rebellion that installed the King’s sociopathic Magician as the new regent. Now, after forty years of watching his comrades vanish into the dungeons of Stonebridge Castle, Richard has fled the kingdom with his mute daughter in tow, escaping into the desert wastes where magic still boils in the clouds and demons walk the dunes inside the bodies of men.
The Magician isn’t far behind, and he’s brought a pet: the Culling, an undead stitched-together tracking dog with a taste for blood. But Richard has his own weapon, stolen from the Magician himself: the calcified heart of a demon, which he hopes to trade back to its original owner in exchange for sanctuary. What he doesn’t know is that his daughter, Ana, is far more valuable than the stone. She was the last piece in the Magician’s grand weapon, and he’ll tear the desert in half to get her back…
I’m not accusing fantasy of being a stale genre. There are many fantastic authors pushing the boundaries – Sanderson, Mieville and Wolfe to name a few. But it’s easy to follow the well-worn path. Need a rags-to-riches story? You can’t get more raggedy than a farmboy who becomes a hero. Need to raise the stakes? Threaten the reader with the end of the world. Need some fantasy elements to spice things up? Why not toss in some dwarves and drow?
So when it came time for me to plan Century of Sand, I decided to create something unpredictable. I wrote about Richard, an old man running away from terrible decisions, and Ana, a girl raised in a dungeon, trained to fight but not to speak. I pushed them as far away from the traditional hero archetypes as I could, making them ambiguous and flighty. Save the world? Hell, Richard’s only interested in saving his daughter, and on his bad days he’s only concerned with himself.