Book Tour Q&A: How to Kill Gods and Make Friends by B. Berry
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for How to Kill Gods and Make Friends by B. Berry! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
Vivienne may have a past record of experimenting with deadly magic, but when her psychic best friend lets her know about an apocalypse scenario on the horizon, she has no alternative but to play the hero. Her life as a freelance exorcist can wait.
Now she must wrangle together an unlikely crew to stop an ancient, angry god from being summoned into their realm: the surly Isaac, a spellwriter who can bend the rules of magic and holds a grudge against her, and Christine, a young ghost trying to break the rules of reality to turn into a luck spirit.
Together, they’ll stop an apocalypse. Somehow.
On to the interview...!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.
I like this opening question! It was hard for me to find something, which sounds sadder than it is. How do you define something “great”? I’ve decided to define mine as “I finally found a way to make quesadillas that my brother will eat as often as I’d like to eat them”. I like a good quesadilla!
Other something great: You may have heard that my book is on tour right now. It’s called “How To Kill Gods & Make Friends”. I think that’s pretty damn great.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
I just finished “A Head Full Of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay. I actually meant to purchase and read his book “The Cabin At The End Of The World”, but some compelling fan reviews guided me to that one instead. The power of a devoted fan is nothing to be ignored!
As for what’s up next on my list–I feel ashamed to admit it, but I haven’t read Premee Mohamed’s “A Broken Darkness” or “The Void Ascendant”, despite how much I loved the first book. I’m one of those fans who can and will inhale a novel in an afternoon, but if it’s out of my immediate thought process, then it’ll sit on my shelf for too long…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I have been writing stories for literally as long as I could write, so I’m not sure what the initial inspiration could have been for a toddler. My first book was a four-page (stapled backward) nonfiction book about cat facts. In many ways, that’s foreshadowed my life.
Outside of writing and reading, I enjoy cats, animals in general really, and video games. I’m a pretty straightforward person. I’m a big proponent of video games being art and a fantastic method for conveying a story; I’d love to write one or a dozen one day. I’m a linguistic nerd and am currently working on learning Japanese, while tragically allowing my French skills to melt away. I hope that’s not also foreshadowing for my life moving forward.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not reading or writing? Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can talk to us about?
You mean how I spend my procrastination time?
I love video games! I adore RPGs, especially narrative-heavy ones, but I’m also far too into farming sims. And like all good 90s kids, I grew up dedicated to Pokemon, and I’m proud to continue that devotion.
I used to live in an area with access to a lot of conventions, so I’d attend a couple of anime or video game conventions a year, too. That included cosplaying! I’m not as hardcore about making my own costume as some of my friends are, but there’s a real joy to bonding with people in shared fandoms over this.
I’m also an avid traveler–or had been, pre-Covid. You know how it is. My mother and I compete with how many countries we’ve visited, and I know I’m very lucky to be in a place where I can compete about something like that. My next destination: Japan!
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
I admit I have yet to read her later novels, but I was a big fan of Premee Mohamed from the first pages of her novel “Beneath The Rising”. Neil Gaiman also is a fantastic writer, as is Seanan McGuire. After seeing “Nope” (as well as his earlier films), Jordan Peele can certainly count me among his eager fans, and everything Guillermo Del Toro touches is narrative gold. As for mangaka (artists AND writers!), Hiromu Arakawa remains ensemble cast goals forever. Junji Ito, Haruichi Furudate, and Natsuki Takaya also have created works I deeply admire.
But my #1 Writer Crush is probably Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame. I’d love to count him among my influences, but while I enjoy a good plot twist, and daresay even do it well, very, very few writers can pull off a twist like he can. There’s a reason why there’s a trope called the Twilight Zone Twist.
If you could collaborate with any one author, who would it be and why?
This will probably be a strange answer, but there is a fanfiction author whom I adore called avoidingavoidance–they have the most fantastic horror aesthetic in many of their works, and they inspired what was originally the core idea of “How To Kill Gods & Make Friends” with a supernatural hunter story of theirs.
While I’d drop everything to collab with Stephen King, Premee Mohamed, or Junji Ito, I think I’d be too intimidated. (Automatically too intimidated by anyone else I’ve mentioned.) I guess I like setting realistic goals!
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
The answer to both of these questions are the same: diversity! I’m so excited to see SFF branching out, because it is touching upon all of these untapped creative oceans. Especially fantasy and all of its subgenres! For as much as Tolkein did for high fantasy, it’s time we moved away from it and into fresh ideas, and I’m so hyped to see those getting published.
I’m also loving that SFF is dipping into more subgenres more readily, too. I love spooky aesthetic that isn’t outright horror (or, well, shares horror sometimes).
What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?
Besides those I’ve already mentioned? “Taaqtumi: An Anthology Of Arctic Horror Stories”! Many of the stories delve into fantasy and sci-fi, though I’ll admit that the one that stuck with me most was so grounded and mundane that it could have happened, which is the most terrifying. It’s also all stories written by Native and First Nations authors, so you won’t get another incorrect and, frankly, boring-by-now rehashing of certain cannibal spirits that start with W, either.
Good stories, no matter the genre, stick with a reader. It doesn’t have to be the whole story, either–even a scene, or a character, or a bit of dialogue could do it. “Taaqtumi” has that in spades.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
My favorite types of stories are almost always character-driven! So the latter question is even more important–and difficult–to answer.
I like so many types of characters, it’d probably be easier to list what I don’t like. But one thing I adore is chemistry! And I’m not talking romantic, though I don’t mind romance. I like characters who have different dynamics with different characters, not solely their love interest or antagonist. I like varieties of relationships!
But a few specific types of characters I like… I like sad immortals, I like women allowed to be feral or monstrous (especially if we get to see everything leading up to it), and I love conniving characters. Give me sneaky, grey morality characters any day! I’m also strangely drawn to assassins. I don’t know why about that one.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I normally don’t plan as much as when I wrote “How To Kill Gods & Make Friends”. I’ll usually have a good, but rough, idea of the overall plot, but I usually try to avoid committing to writing down an outline. My brain looks at those plot points and goes “okay, they’re written!”, so I like to just keep mental tabs on things.
I like thematically inappropriate writing music, and I’m the type of person who can listen to the same song hundreds of times on loop. I also use Dabble Writer as my writing program of choice; it’s simple, reliable, and gets the job done in the best way. I don’t have a set time I write, or any kind of schedule or deadline (outside of November/NaNoWriMo), but I wouldn’t say I’m reliant on waiting for inspiration, either. I guess I just wait for a mood where I’m fine sitting semi-motionless for several hours? And again, with a good song to listen to! That part is usually the trickiest these days.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
“Style” is a good way of putting how I wrote “How To Kill Gods & Make Friends”. I’ve relaxed into a very informal style, unafraid of fragments or run-ons when the narrative needs them. (I’ve always believed in bending the rules for the sake of making a narrative point.) I do like commas, and I like adverbs too much, and in present tense, I tend way too much toward “is x-ing” during action scenes. But I also nail dialogue extra well because of this more informal style! (I also like dialogue too much…)
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
I always tend to think of myself as a writer who doesn’t add much of myself to my stories, but “How To Kill Gods & Make Friends” actually does tend to reveal a bit more about me, in a way me-as-the-person-revealing thinks is hideously visible.
I actually want to write more of myself into my stories–at least the more superficial-but-underrepresented bits of myself. I’ve never written a vegetarian or explicitly ace character before, for example.
What comes first to you when you’re writing, the world, the characters, or the storyline?
A lot of my initial ideas come from dreams, so I’d say sort of “a small snippet of the cast, scene, and a bit of plot” comes first? Usually I have a core two-ish characters, and the rough idea of a premise, then go from there. In practice, that usually means the storyline technically comes first, as I tend to purposefully create cast members after the fact.
I’m not sure when the world comes into play. I guess it grows up around the other two when I’m not looking?
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but a cover is still a marketing tool that helps sell books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?
Originally, I had a different idea in mind for the cover. (Well, two.) But I worked with a cover artist from 100Covers, and after a few rounds of going with my ideas and being like “blegh why isn’t this great”, I realized that hey, I’m not a graphic artist or designer, and maybe I should tighten my hold on ~My Vision~ to let the professional work? So I told them that they could show me a few of their ideas, and ultimately, one of those is what I went with!
I still wish I could’ve finished my own original runic system in time for the cover, though. Oh well–that’s what box sets and special editions are for!
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
A necromancer, a spellwriter, and a luck spirit walk into a potion shop. Somehow, they’ll stop an apocalypse together.
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Spooky, long, multi-layered!
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
Ugh. This is the only book I’ve fully rewritten of mine, and I did it three times. So technically speaking, the final draft is pretty damn close to the original draft! (There were two major plot points that got cut, then put back in, to create these rewrites.) So weird answer, but way closer than most authors probably answer this question.
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
This story is VERY ensemble cast, with about four primary subplots in the first book, and the cast sprinkled among those like seasonings. That’s kind of a joke, but also kind of not–there are a lot of characters in this book!
The mainest of the main three characters is Vivienne Sayre, or Viv for short (only two people can call her Vivi, and one of them is dead), and she’s a joy to write. She’s very chatty and, as I like to call her, a walking TedTalk, so she gets me around “show, don’t tell” in more than a couple of cases, haha. She’s a born teacher and very enthusiastic sharer of information.
In general, I like to write a lot of the character types I like to read… Which means sad immortals, feral women, and assassins. There aren’t any assassins in “How To Kill Gods & Make Friends”, and we haven’t gotten to the point where we get to pontificate upon the inherent sadness of immortality, but we have one feral woman so far with a couple more to come!
If you could choose one worldbuilding detail (a place, ability, or creature, for example) from your book to exist in the real world, what would it be and why?
Is it too broad to say that I’d want “magic” to be real from a fantasy story? Of course, then I’d turn even more sedentary and lazy than I already am, so probably for the best, no matter how handy it would be to grab something from the shelf without having to get up.
I think the goblin markets would be a really cool thing to have–they’re a setting where creatures and beings of many different realms come together to do business. So it’s a magical, mythical melting pot. I’d love to peruse a giant flea market where I could buy real potions, jars of luck, or a familiar!
In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?
Those who are fans of witchy aesthetics, or those who like LGBTQ+ books that are still genre books!
What would you like readers to take away from this book?
That it’s the first in a series and there’s more to look out for, haha.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
Well, I’m obviously working on the sequel! It doesn’t have a working title yet (the entire series will start with “How To”, but beyond that, the second title eludes me still), but I know how it all will go down.
I also have three other ideas that roll around in my head–a take on high fantasy that ignores how straight, white, and male the genre has gotten post-Tolkein, a multiverse-hopping magical girl story, and a multiple-timeline soulmate story type thing. So technically still all fantasy! I’m not sure I could write not-fantasy at this point in my life–too much fun worldbuilding to get my grubby hands on.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
Thank you for having me and my book! It’s very exciting to do a book tour, and I’m grateful for the chance. As for your dear readers–I hope to count you among my dear readers in the future!
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
I can be found on Twitter and Facebook as @bberrywrites! I’m working on getting my newsletter up and running consistently, too, which you can find if you visit my website at bberrywrites.com. (I like consistency, can you tell?) I’m also present in fandom circles, but as for that username and those writing projects, you’ll have to hunt them down yourself.
Where to buy the book:
Author Direct: https://www.bberrywrites.com/shop/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-kill-gods-make-friends-b-berry/1141988862