Benjamin Tate
May 8, 2010
Face the Fiction
Saturday May 8, 2010
7:00 p - 10:00 p
Borders Books & Music
235 Interstate Shopping Center
Ramsey, NJ 07446
201.760.1967

For those arriving early, please join us at 7pm for our open
mic-style Whispers From Beyond from 7-8pm. This group
meets on the second Saturday of each month and spotlights
guest speakers from SF and genre related fields of interest.
This month we welcome High Fantasy author Benjamin Tate.  
Benjamin Tate is a fantasy author with DAW Books whose
first book, WELL OF SORROWS, will appear in May 2010. He
currently resides in the Southern Tier of New York, where he
teaches at a local college while working on his future
bestselling novel. The current work-in-progress is LEAVES OF
FLAME, the sequel to WELL OF SORROWS.
Benjamin Tate/Joshua Palmatier

Again, I would like to start by thanking Alisha Klauger and
the Shopping Plaza.  They are so nice, accommodating, and
professional in the way that they work with us to make
these events a success.  Next time you are in the store,
please tell them thanks for all their hard work.  To quote the
warrior-sage Xenophon, "The sweetest sound of all is
praise."  OK, now: on with the show!

The evening started off with Paul, Kate, Jim, Steve, and I
gathered around the big table, chatting ourselves silly and
discussing a plethora of books, movies, and more.  The
topics ranged from a Cthulu 'post-Old Ones' anthology
recommended by Kate, to discussion of Thomas Harlan's
House of Reeds, to Gail Carriger's Soulless, to Jack
Campbell's Lost Fleet series, the movie Moon with Sam
Rockwell, and  comparing quality of Jack McDevitt and Peter
F. Hamilton's works.  This last was especially interesting, and
Paul and I had  a great deal of fun chatting over Hamilton's
irritatingly huge, but enormously entertaining, novels.  
During the conversation, more and more folks filtered into
the store and began taking up seats in preparation for the
main event, and soon I found myself introducing the
debonair Mr. Joshua Palmatier (a.k.a. Benjamin Tate).

Josh started the evening off with a bit about himself, and describing life in Binghampton, NY, teaching mathematics at SUNY Oneonta (the
alma mater of Mrs. Assunta M.R. Ehrenfels, mother of the redoubtable Todd, who is even now having a Happy Mothers' Day), as well as
the road to becoming a published author, the wonderful folks at DAW, and much more.  Turning quickly from the personal to the
professional, Josh began showing us his Throne of Amenkor series (The Skewed Throne, The Cracked Throne, and The Vacant Throne),
even going so far as to brag (deservedly, in my opinion) about the release of the books in Germany with far superior cover art.  In
addition to these older works, Josh also showed us Close Encounters of the Urban Kind from Apex Books
(http://www.apexbookstore.com/collections/frontpage/products/close-encounters-of-the-urban-kind-edited-by-jennifer-brozek), and
explained that this was an anthology collection with the rather spiffy premise of taking traditional Urban Legends and giving them a UFO
twist.  This done, we turned our attention to Josh's most recent release (and we mean really recent since it just came out at the
beginning of the week) The Well of Sorrows.

Unlike The Skewed Throne and the rest of the books of the
Throne of Amenkor series, which are set in the same world
as The Well of Sorrows but at a later period in history, this
new book is not told in the first person, but rather the third
person omniscient style.  The action centers around Colin
Harten and his family, who are refugees from a civil war in
Andover.  Having fled across the ocean to the New World,
they find life exceptionally difficult on the coast and are
forced to make the journey out into the plains.  Josh
explained that he really wanted to go for the frontier
expansion feel of the American mid-west in the early 1800's,
since that seemed like it would be fun, interesting, and not
the same old hum-drum fantasy that we always see out
there.  From descriptions and discussion last night, it sounds
very much like he succeeded (keep your eyes on Stanger
than Truth as I have the feeling I will be reviewing this book
before too long).

Questions and answers dominated the night, and Josh was
a great sport, fielding our strange questions for over two
hours, and discussing topics ranging from Plotter vs Pantser
(Josh is a Pantser, or fly by the seat of his pants writer, who
uses narrative guideposts to keep his story on task), scene
and structure of The Skewed Throne (Josh indicated that the
concept of the majority of the story being flashback leading
the reader back to the events started in the prologue and
crescendo-ing to an even higher level was purposeful),
narrative flow (one has to let the story unfold organically or
you will be fighting against your own books), temporal
mechanics (obviously the people who fix things that are
Temporally Out of Order), Star Trek (DS9 for the win!),
literary influences (Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, Stephen R.
Donaldson... you know, all the people I keep telling you to
read), and even projects and concepts for upcoming stories.  
It was an amazingly diverse time with all manner of subjects
flying about the room like assassins' daggers.  Speaking of
which, we got great insight into Josh's mind, and I am telling
you now: do not make this man angry!  Much to Deena's
delight, Josh loves the killing (hey, she's an assassin, she
should be killing folks every chapter, it's her job), and even
went so far as to start writing the story with the idea of
having each chapter dedicated to a specific mark that Varis is
after.

The night seemed like it would last forever, but sadly, in
order to make sure that we could get the event area policed
and back in order for the stalwarts at the store (oh, yeah,
and to get our copies of the books purchased), we did
eventually have to force a halt to the questions.  Had I not
done so, I surmise that we would have stayed at the store
until... well... now.   Josh was a fun, energetic, and exciting
guest, and his love of his work, both in literature and in
mathematics, was plain for all to see.  Of course, his casual
mention of board gaming with Patricia Bray (author of the
Sword of Change series), and their circle of friends who get
together to play Settlers of Cataan and Carcasonne, as well
as his hard partying ways (even professors need to have
fun), showed us that his energy is a diversely applied in real
life as it is in his stories.  All in all, it was a great discussion
with a fantastic guest, showcasing the fact that 2010 is truly
made of awesome for the SFSNNJ!

After the fun at the Borders, many of us ran up to the
Stateline Diner for food, folks, and fun.  Sadly, Josh could not
accompany us as he had been partying the past evening
and did not wish to make it too late an evening lest he risk
crashing on the way home (I am sure I speak for everyone
when I say that we would prefer a live friend who can write
many more wonderful books for us to read).  Topics in
discussion included the Library initiatives, the doom that
came to Arkham, the joys of real estate, knee-cappings,
Walden Farms flavored air, weight loss without body
dysmorphia, Fantasy novels, theft of breading, the pros and
cons of using flamethrowers to cook, and, of course, what is
coming up over the next few weeks on SyFy Original Movies
(I expect a Mongolian Death Worm review any minute now).

Join us next month at Panera Bread in Ramsey for Barbara
Campbell.