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Genre Wars Book Podcast

Genre Wars Book Podcast

By Tim Hawken

Uncovering the best stories in people’s favourite genres with the authors who write them.

Genre Wars Book Podcast hosted by Tim Hawken challenges readers to search outside their comfort zone to discover great new stories. You'll also get insights into writer's lives, how they go about their craft, and delicious facts like the difference between a maze and a labyrinth.

Lit Fic, Chick Fic, Action, Adventure, Horror, Fantasy, SciFi. Nothing is off-limits.

Great for book nerds wanting to find something new.
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The Best Queer SciFi & Fantasy Books with Kate Hazel Hall

Genre Wars Book Podcast

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Best Modern Fantasy Books with Fonda Lee
Best Modern Fantasy Books with Fonda Lee
Fantasy doesn't always have to be about orcs and wizards. In this episode, we talk about modern fantasy books with Fonda Lee. Fonda is the author of the incredible Greenbone Saga which recently made NPRs greatest 50 sci-fi and fantasy books of the decade. She has won a world fantasy award, three aurora awards and could legitimately fly-kick anyone who started a flame war with her on Twitter because she’s a black-belt martial artist. Fonda’s recommendations for great modern fantasy books include: The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone The Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett The Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft The Kingston Cycle by CL Polk The last book in Fonda’s Greenbone Saga, Jade Legacy is out Nov 30th. Get it wherever all good books are sold. You can also find Fonda on Twitter, Instagram or on her website here.
53:40
November 11, 2021
The Best Contemporary Fiction with Nick Earls
The Best Contemporary Fiction with Nick Earls
In this episode we talk contemporary fiction with Nick Earls. Nick has all the special titles attached to his name that an author could hope for like ‘award winner’ and ‘best seller’. Having written 28 books and counting, plus holding a Phd on contemporary novella craft and publishing, he is the perfect guy to help us figure out what on earth this genre is and why we should care about it. We also talk about how the publishing industry has changed in the last 25 years, what it was like to receive the worst review ever at the worst possible time, and how COVID has changed the face of launching books. Nick’s top contemporary fiction recommendations include: Mammoth by Chris Flynn Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell And After the Carnage by Tara June Winch Nick’s latest book Empires is out now, via Penguin.
01:07:25
October 13, 2021
The Best True-Crime Fiction with Ruth McIver
The Best True-Crime Fiction with Ruth McIver
In this episode, we talk about the best true-crime inspired fiction with Ruth McIver. Ruth is a multi-award-winning writer who has a flair for poetry, holds a doctorate in True Crime Inspired Fiction, and lives with a furry member of Fleetwood Mac. We also psychoanalysed her habit of naming cats after musicians, how horror was a big influence on her life, and how people can get judgey when they find out she writes about murder. Ruth’s recommendations for the best true-crime books include: The Newcomer by Laura Elizabeth Woollett In The Clearing by JP Pomare See What I’ve Done by Sarah Schmidt True West by David Whish-Wilson Lullaby by Leila Slimani Ruth’s latest book I Shot The Devil is out now, via Hachette. You can find her on Twitter here, or Instagram here. Cat pics included.
55:56
September 02, 2021
The Best Vampire Books with Jay Kristoff
The Best Vampire Books with Jay Kristoff
In this episode, we chat about the best vampire books with Jay Kristoff. Jay is a world-renowned serial killer of fictional characters, having written 17 novels, most of which end in blood. He’s a #1 New York Times bestseller, multi-award winner, and has a sculpted black goatee that would put the Devil himself to shame. Jay's latest book, Empire of the Vampire is out Sept 7th. Jay's biggest Vampire book recommendations include: Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice Salem's Lot by Stephen King plus the film Lost Boys and, perhaps surprisingly, The Vampire Diaries on TV.  For more on Jay, follow him on Instagram here.
49:10
August 24, 2021
The Best Queer SciFi & Fantasy Books with Kate Hazel Hall
The Best Queer SciFi & Fantasy Books with Kate Hazel Hall
In this episode of Genre Wars we talk Queer Scifi and Fantasy with Kate Hazel Hall. Kate is an Aussie author doing big things internationally, recently winning both Foreword Indies and Goldie Awards for her debut novel From Darkness. In addition to writing, Kate is also an expert on magical realism, is a coldwater surfing mermaid, and can an absolutely perfect pint of beer when the occasion demands it. Kate’s Queer (or LGBTQ+) Science Fiction and Fantasy reads include: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron Ida (and also Euphoria Kids) by Alison Evans Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera The Seafarers Kiss Duology by Juliette Embers Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (especially for those who love Superheroes) More Than This by Patrick Ness (bonus top recommendation by Genre Wars alumni Jeremy Lachlan) Kate also mentioned some great, extensive guides to LGBTQ+ Fiction at: ReadsRainbows.com Enjoy the show and happy reading!
58:59
August 09, 2021
Talking Psychological Thrillers with JP Pomare
Talking Psychological Thrillers with JP Pomare
JP Pomare is the award-winning author of bestselling novels I Am Evie, In The Clearing, and Tell Me Lies. Much like Phar Lap, Australians have claimed JP as our own because he’s successful, but really, he’s just another bloody talented Kiwi that grew up on a horse-racing farm. In this episode, we talk about how easy it would be to plant spy cams in AirBnBs, why thrillers don't need to have a dead body at the start, and why all of his books have three-word titles. Enjoy this chat with JP Pomare, whose latest book The Last Guests comes out this week.
01:06:54
July 28, 2021
The Best Contemporary Romance Books With Paige Toon
The Best Contemporary Romance Books With Paige Toon
In this episode we talk with Paige Toon about the best Contemporary Romance novels, how to pick erotica out on a bookshelf, and why sometimes the hidden joys of writing include doing alpaca research. Paige is a best-selling author who has sold over 1.5 million copies of her 18 novels (and counting). In addition to romance, Paige has written YA, has a penchant for short stories, and has a habit of fainting in the presence of rock n’ roll icons. Paige’s contemporary romance recommendations include: Classics Watermelon by Marian Keyes Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding New The Secret Bridesmaid by Katie Birchal Best under-rated romance read The Sight of You by Holly Miller Also anything by Mhairi McFarlane for romance with both emotional depth and humour. To discover Paige’s work, including her latest book Someone I Used To Know, head to PaigeToon.com, or connect with her on socials @paigetoonauthor
42:13
June 15, 2021
Talking Hard Sci-Fi with Andy Weir
Talking Hard Sci-Fi with Andy Weir
In this episode, I talk with Andy Weir about writing hard sci-fi, why driving hats are so snazzy, and why competence porn is so dang satisfying. Andy is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sci-fi smash hits The Martian and Artemis. His next novel, Project Hail Mary, is being released on Star Wars day, May the 4th be with you. Andy Recommends the following sci-fi novels: Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C Clarke as a classic that still stands up today. Player of Games - Iain M Banks Ringworld - Larry Niven Ready Player One - Ernest Cline Anything by Blake Crouch - eg  Dark Matter or Recursion and more Tunnel In The Sky - Robert A Heinlein And a bonus link: Steven Pinker’s Stats On How Life Continues To Get Better (I accidentally called him Dan Pinker in the interview, sorry Steven, I got you confused with Dan Pink) For a round up of all the shows, head to timhawken.com/genrewars
48:24
May 03, 2021
The Best Dark Fantasy Books with Peter V Brett
The Best Dark Fantasy Books with Peter V Brett
Peter V Brett is the New York Times bestselling author of the Demon Cycle, which has sold over 3 million copies and been translated into 24 languages worldwide. He has also written numerous novellas, a graphic novel, has a new book hovering on the horizon. In this episode we talk about the best dark fantasy books getting around, how the right agent at the right time made Brett’s career, and how playing Dungeons and Dragons made him a much better writer. Brett recommended a heap of incredible stories during the show. These included: C.S. Friedman’s Magister and Coldfire Trilogies R.F. Kuang’s Poppy War Series Evan Winter’s The Rage of Dragons Catherine Arden’s Winternight Books Naomi Novik’s Temeraire Books And Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy We also chatted about some of the best graphic novels out there including: Criminal Planetary (Warren Ellis) Sleeper Fables Finally, we also mentioned Jay Kristoff’s new series Empire of the Vampire, saying it has just been released. Actually, preorder sales have just kicked off. It will be available later this year, at a similar time to Brett’s next novel The Desert Prince. To get in touch with Peter, you can find him on Twitter, Instagram, or at his Website. For a list of Tim’s personal favourite dark fantasy books, you can also head to this list here. Thanks for listening.
48:31
March 01, 2021
The Best Space Opera Books with Aimee Ogden
The Best Space Opera Books with Aimee Ogden
Aimee Ogden is a former science teacher and software tester who now writes stories about sad astronauts, angry princesses, and dead gods. Her work has appeared in some of the greatest scifi & fantasy publications getting around, like Daily Scifi, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Clarke’s World. This year, she has not one, but two space opera novellas launching into the world - the first of which is an intergalactic reimagining of the Little Mermaid. In this episode we chat about Space Opera, crazy high-concept stories, and teenage lesbian necromancers in space. There were a few connection issues with sound, but Aimee provides amazing insight into the genre she calls her own. Space Opera books recommended by Aimme include: Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes. The Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne  and The Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather Aimee's newest novella Sun Daughters, Sea Daughters is out via Tor Books here. You can also connect with Aimee on her website here or Twitter here. Finally, if you want to dive into some of Aimee Odgden's short fiction, she loves to recommend Seb Dreams of Reincarnation as the first place to start.
37:06
February 22, 2021
The Best Uplit Books With Julietta Henderson
The Best Uplit Books With Julietta Henderson
Julietta Henderson has been a professional writer for over 25 years, with her debut fiction novel The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman coming out today, Jan 5th, in Australia (April in the USA and UK). Julietta’s writing makes you laugh then cry, then laugh again on the same page, making you look like a crazy person if you’re reading her book on the train. In this episode we talk about the best Uplit books, what that genre actually is, and why being an editor is the best training to become a writer. Julietta’s favourite book recommendations include: Anything by Nick Hornby especially A Long Way Down or How To Be Good Other fave authors include Roddy Doyle, Marian Keyes, Tony Parsons and David Nichols The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy (not Uplit) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (a book nerd special) Tim’s top Uplit titles also include: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion For a full round up of all the episodes, head to: https://www.timhawken.com/genrewars 
01:02:38
January 04, 2021
The Best YA Fantasy Books with Sabaa Tahir
The Best YA Fantasy Books with Sabaa Tahir
Sabaa’s Tahir’s YA fantasy books have sold more than a million copies worldwide and recently made TIME Magazine’s 100 best fantasy books of all time. Her latest novel A Sky Beyond the Storm is out December 1st and is by a mile the most eagerly awaited fantasy series finale this year. Sabaa has a bright sock addiction, makes a mean music playlist, and enjoys killing off darling characters even more than Jay Kristoff and George R Martin combined. In this episode we dive into what makes an amazing sock, why romance is underrated, and how YA is a category that often defies genre. We also, of course, talked about Sabaa’s best YA fantasy book recommendations. To get a full rundown of the recommendations, head here.
49:52
November 26, 2020
The Best Historical Fiction with Fiona McIntosh
The Best Historical Fiction with Fiona McIntosh
Fiona McIntosh is an absolute master of her craft. She’s just released her 39th book, The Champagne War, and has written across genres of historical fiction, crime, fantasy and non-fiction. Fiona teaches writing in hugely sought after workshops and would be at peak happiness sipping coffee in Paris, eating dark chocolate after buying a pair of fashionable winter boots. In this episode, we talk about what makes great historical fiction, Fiona’s start as a fantasy writer, the joys of surprise meetings during research trips, and the dreaded ‘R’ word in genre fiction… romance. During the show Fiona recommends Sharon Penman for ‘brilliant’ historical fiction. She also recommends Ken Follet for historical fiction with pace and human connection, plus Guy Gavriel Kay who weaves real-world events from ancient history into his fantasy. For a round up of all the Genre Wars episodes, head to http://timhawken.com/genrewars
50:25
November 24, 2020
The Best Action Adventure Books with Matthew Reilly
The Best Action Adventure Books with Matthew Reilly
Matthew Reilly is a New York Times bestselling author of 18 novels - with his latest, The Two Lost Mountains launching today. His books have sold over 7.5 million copies worldwide, thanks to his intriguing characters and plot pacing that’s faster than a Dalorian DMC-12. While most peg him as an action adventure writer, he also touches other genres like scifi and fantasy frequently in his work. Matthew himself describes his novels as 'escapist' fiction.  In this chat, we talked Hollywood adaptations, killing off characters (and getting hate mail for it), plus how Michael Crichton influenced his writing… For the best action adventure novels (other than his own) Matthew recommends… The Andromeda Strain or The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. He also thinks non-fiction like Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari & The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova help inspire great works of fiction. Finally, for pure imagination, Matthew Reilly recommends scifi classics: Rendevous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke, The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, and The Hyperion Series by Dan Simmons. For a full rundown of the Genre Wars episodes head to: timhawken.com/genrewars 
53:28
October 12, 2020
The Best Biographies with Derek Rielly
The Best Biographies with Derek Rielly
Derek Rielly is a strange cross of dirtbag surfer meets eloquent wordsmith. This made him the perfect person to write Wednesdays With Bob - the bestselling biography on Bob Hawke. Derek has since followed that up with an incredible book on the Indigenous Australian icon David Gulpilil. When he’s not writing about real people, Derek also makes up facts about his parents to colour up his author’s bio. In this chat, we uncover whether Derek’s dad really was a pro wrestler, how persistence landed him the book with Bob Hawke, and how one of the most compelling biographies he’s read opens up with a corpse… Derek’s best biography recommendations include. Night Train: The Sonny Liston Story by Nick Toches Dino: Living High On The Business of Dreams by Nick Toches The World Is My Home by James Mitchener (actually a memoir) When Warriors Lie Down and Die by Richard Trudgen (history) For Derek’s latest, head to BeachGrit.com For a full list of the Genre Wars episodes, head to timhawken.com/genrewars
58:46
September 29, 2020
The Best Non Fiction Books with Jess Hill
The Best Non Fiction Books with Jess Hill
Jess Hill is an investigative journalist and the author of See What You Made Me Do which recently won the coveted Stella Prize. Jess’s work has also won two Walkley awards, three Our Watch awards, and an Amnesty International award. She even helped set Twitter on fire last year with her revelation that Stockholm Syndrome is actually a bunch of bullshit. In this episode we chat about what changed in Jess's life when she won the Stella, the role of non-fiction in society, and how she went from yoga & cocktails to reporting about the Arab Spring from Cairo.  For full show notes, including a list of Jess's non-fiction recommendations, head here. To shop all of the titles Jess recommended in a way that helps support local bookstores, and the Genre Wars Book Podcast at the same time, head here.
01:27:13
September 13, 2020
The Best Sci Fi Books with Ken Liu
The Best Sci Fi Books with Ken Liu
Reading Ken’s Liu bio, you might think he’s a replicant from the future who never sleeps. He’s worked as a programmer for Microsoft, practices law with a degree from Harvard and has won just about every major sci-fi and fantasy writing award getting around including The Hugo, The Locus, The Nebula and more. On top of that, he’s translated critically acclaimed works from Chinese into English, including one of my favourite sci-fi books The Three Body Problem. His latest series The Dandelion Dynasty also cements Ken as the undisputed godfather of Silkpunk. In episode 5 of the Genre Wars Book Podcast, we talked about how genre is useful, how it’s not, what kinds of stories Ken is drawn to, and that time he wrote for a little series called Star Wars… For full show notes, including Ken's current sci-fi book recommendations, head here.
01:01:23
August 24, 2020
The Best Crime Fiction with Chris Hammer
The Best Crime Fiction with Chris Hammer
Chris Hammer is the author of instant bestseller Scrublands and it’s stunning followup Silver. A journalist with over 30 years of experience, he was also shortlisted for a Walkey award for his first non-fiction novel The River. In 2019 Chris won the CWA Dagger New Blood Award for Best First Crime Novel, has just been shortlisted for the 2020 ABA Booksellers Choice Awards, and takes out my personal award for most memorable character names in any books I’ve ever read. He is a font of knowledge when it comes to crime fiction and the first person I’d ask for recommendations when it comes to finding the best crime fiction books getting around. Look out for the moment in the podcast where Chris breakdowns every Midsomer Murders plot ever in one neat package. Brilliant stuff. For the full show notes, including all of Chris's best crime fiction recommendations, head here.
44:34
August 24, 2020
The Best Horror Books with Alan Baxter
The Best Horror Books with Alan Baxter
Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author of supernatural thrillers, horror and dark fantasy. He has written over 20 books, has had over 70 short stories published in award-winning magazines and anthologies, and has been shortlisted for the Ditmar Awards, Aurealis Awards and Shadows awards multiple times, winning three Australian Shadows awards in the process. Alan is the Vice President of the Australasian Horror Writers Association and as a Kung Fu teacher could axe kick the bejeezus out of anyone leaving him bad reviews on Good Reads. We had a great discussion about what makes good horror, whether you can actually define the genre and, of course, the best horror books that people should read. To read the show notes, including a full rundown of all of Alan's recommendations, head here.
45:52
August 24, 2020
The Best Fantasy Books with Jeremy Lachlan
The Best Fantasy Books with Jeremy Lachlan
Jeremy Lachlan is a middle-grade fantasy author of the highest order. His debut novel Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds won the 2019 ABIA Book of the Year for older children and his follow up The Key of all Souls has just been released to high praise. Jeremy is not only an accomplished writer, but makes a mean rainbow sponge cake and is one of the few people in the world who know the difference between a maze and a labyrinth.  His selection of best fantasy books contains some wonderful surprises. We also had an interesting bonus discussion about the hero’s journey and how that factors into his writing process (you’ll find it after the end credits). To read full show notes for this episode, including a list of all of Jeremy's fantasy book recommendations, head here.
01:03:17
August 24, 2020
The Best Literary Fiction Books with Brooke Davis
The Best Literary Fiction Books with Brooke Davis
Brooke Davis is the author of Lost & Found, a runaway bestseller published in over 20 countries in multiple languages. Brooke has won the Bobbie Cullen Memorial Award for Women Writers, the postgraduate Queensland Writing Prize, the Matt Richell Award for Best New Writer, iBooks book of the year and the ABIA Fiction Book of the Year for Lost & Found. She also cooks the meanest heart attack muffins this side of the equator. In this episode we talk about the best literary fiction books getting around, including her recommendations on classics, something new, and something that people would be delighted to discover. For full show notes, including a rundown of Brooke's recommendations for the Best Literary Fiction Books, head here. To shop the books mentioned in this podcast in a way that supports Genre Wars and independent bookstores at the same time head here.
01:05:26
August 24, 2020