Category Archives: fiction

BIG NEWS! A new edition of The Demon in Business Class!

Despite its reputation, Friday the 13th treats me well — maybe because 13 is a rare number, evenly divisible in a Tarot deck’s 78 cards.

Certainly this Friday the 13th is a great day to share some love — and, BIG NEWS!

The Demon in Business Class gets a gorgeous new edition this spring!

New cover, new layout, with illustrations! In hardback, paperback, ebook and – for the first time – an incredible audiobook edition, narrated by the amazing Laura Petersen.

New edition May 2020!

(If the novel is new to you, this is a great time to discover it — click here to learn more!)

A lot has gone into this, and there’s a lot more ahead…

… but I need your help to make it happen.

The link below – and on the ad above – is to sign up for the new edition’s Advance Review Copy. From now until the end of April, you can order an Advance Review Copy in paperback (US addresses only), ebook, or audiobook.

Advance Review Copies are FREE

If you pledge, scouts’ honor, to read it (or listen to it), and leave an honest review on your favorite site.

In modern literary life, reviews are incredibly important. If everyone reading the ARC leaves an honest review, it’s a huge boost to the Demon relaunch.

Want a free ARC copy? Sign up here!

I’ll be sending the ARCs out in early April – ebooks will arrive faster, of course 🙂

Official pre-orders begin on April 26 — exactly 6 months from the first edition’s October 26 release date. (Also, double-13, and another Tarot factor!)

That’s also when I reveal the full cover (unless you’re an email subscriber). The retail launch date will be May 26!*

Signing up for the ARC also signs you up for my mailing list – including: an early cover reveal on April 13, sample chapters, audiobook samples, and interviews with the amazing professionals behind the launch; plus, some very early passages from my second novel, The White Lake, a literary science-fiction tale unlike anything you’ve ever read. It’s very different from Demon, yet completely my style.

BIG CHANGES AHEAD! I am sweating the details and you’ll see them in the coming weeks. I know they will delight you!

*May 26 isn’t a significant day for me, but Tuesday is a traditional book release day. Also, it is one day after the original release of Star Wars – May 25, 1977. So, that’s cool.

The bad news is, I was right

I’m finishing my second novel, but in the last few months I’ve spent some time with my first, The Demon in Business Class, as it enters a new medium. The amazing voice actor Laura Petersen has recorded the audiobook — early spring release! don’t worry, I’ll be posting about it.

I’ve been pitching in doing proofs, catching small errors, but mostly just being regaled. Petersen is hugely talented, nailing Demon‘s scores of worldwide accents, and also finding subtle line readings in both narration and dialogue. It’s been a wonderfully self-congratulatory exercise. Gosh I’m a good writer. I should do it more.

I’ve also heard how good I am at forecasting. I wasn’t looking too far ahead, and I had the small advantage of being a few years ahead of the times in my book.

Even so, I got everything right.

Back-cover copy is about drama, and my novel had that in spades, with fantastic powers, violence, conspiracies, and troubled romance. The Demon in Business Class also has: elites failing to see the difference between what’s good, and what’s good for them; religious people ever more tempted, and corrupted, by temporal power; the dissatisfaction with globalization; the angry assault on patriarchy; Russia’s aggressive refusal to play by American rules; China’s ever-greater confidence; a greater role for mysticism in public life.

I don’t mean to brag, exactly. It’s hard to take comfort in being right about so many things that wouldn’t be my first choice if I had a say.

Still, I did way better with my calls than most pundits and politicians. I am attentive to subtle currents and a clear-eyed thinker. It helps to remember that things always change, and that nature abhors a vacuum. These are cliches because of our complacency; step back, and they contain terrors.

I have my own formula, once a line of dialogue from an early failed novel, now a personal mantra, my walking stick as I scramble ahead of changes.

It says: When there’s no place else to go, you go there.

There’s been a lot of going there the past few years. More to come. Trust me, I have a good track record.

And, gosh, I’m a good writer. I should do it more.

On being good at sales

I’m still not totally comfortable with being really good at sales.

Because, I am. I’m a sales machine. At large comic-cons, my single-title sales are on par with best-selling writers — which is good, because I still only have a single title. (Working on it.)

Other writers tell me I am good at sales, a complex compliment inside our introverted guild. It helps that, if a reader doesn’t want what I am selling, I will send them to another’s work with equal enthusiasm. I’m good in the booth.

I have made money in sales, covering all my bills during my year as a ski-bum in Lake Tahoe with a part-time telemarketing job. One of my most treasured compliments was from my manager there, who told me, “You give good phone.”

I am a fierce fan of my stuff. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for more than might initially see themselves buying it. I see my book becoming ever more relevant to the world outside it. I want the world to know so my subset of it will find me.

I don’t presuppose any strengths or weaknesses. I say what I have, strongly.

In a teen-focused genre, I write mature work. At cons and festivals, I say “10 o’clock shows, not 8 o’clock shows.” It’s a happy expression because it’s a fact they differ, it’s not an apology, and it hints at earned privilege, an adult’s welcome relief from explanation or euphemism.

Demon is a standalone novel. No sequels, except for a Tarot. “A big book, but one and done.” Maybe a fifth of people don’t find that appealing — Vayan con Dios. Most are at least fine if not happy to hear it. We talk about the joys of a certain ending, a lack of commitment, an amuse-bouche while awaiting GRRM.

While I can spot aligned styles — if you cosplay Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, I will sell you a book — even at cons I can’t know my readers on sight, especially since I am winning a few over right there. I assume all bipeds are in play until they make it clear they’re not.

That said, I know the wrong audience. 1-star reviews never go away, and a good way of avoiding them is keeping your work out of inappropriate hands — or, disappointed hands. I use horror as a flavor, but if you want it as a main course, that’s not my Demon. For action, I have some fisticuffs, but only one drawn gun in the whole book. I have bone-dry acidic wit, but no chuckles.

I say these things and people buy my books, people of all kinds, in very good numbers for the venue. I don’t know why it worries me, as opposed to the superpower that it really is. Maybe it’s impostor’s syndrome, that I am somehow more appealing than my work.

Maybe it’s not impostor’s syndrome but honesty, of a kind. My sales self also expresses qualities of my work: unassuming but distinctive, unflinching not crude, erudite not highfaluting, seeking clarity but understanding about the muddle.

It makes me nervous because it is not sales. It is an art, an ethic — like this blog post, a form of my writing. I can’t pretend it doesn’t matter, because it only works when it does matter.

Then I’m a sales machine.

Demon ebook on special sale until Aug 17

Starting today for the next three weeks, The Demon in Business Class ebook is on sale as part of the “Bump in the Night” fantasy-thriller set at Storybundle.
Pay from $5 to $15, you get six ebooks, including mine; pay more than $15 and get nine more ebooks. Download versions for all readers – or, if you follow their slightly technical instructions, Storybundle can send it direct to your Kindle/Kindle app.
If you have friends who are fantasy or thriller readers, please share the sale with them! It’s good until August 17 2017.

Hello Connecticon 2017 – and thanks!

Tonight I fly north to Hartford, CT, to join the Bard’s Tower booth opening Friday at Connecticon. It’s the first of three cons I’m doing in July at Bard’s Tower, with other fantastic writers.
Cons are intense, by design, and they’re also long days standing on concrete. Three cons in four weekends is a heavy schedule, personally tiring and hard on my family. Still, #livingthedream . These are my last big cons this calendar year. I want to connect with every interested reader during my hours in these big convention halls.
How immediate these connections can be! People know their tastes, even if naming them with difficulty, but they feel. Once in a while I get a visual clue that a convention-goer might be my audience – cosplaying Sandman‘s Death, or wearing an Unknown Pleasures t-shirt – but more often, the readers find me and click. I’ll see an hour of people glancing away, then a delighted voice reads my title aloud and everything brightens.
Connecticon 2016 was my first con behind the table, learning to connect with readers in person and find their interests, before my launch in Cincinnati. Seeing how little time one gets in the hugeness of a con convinced me to market overtly to a niche sensibility.
I am excited to come back with my book – and new trading cards!

Sticking to my knitting (opinions)

As Facebook gently reminded me —
2017-fb-little-while
my professional media have been stale. It was less a writer’s block than a blind alley. Perhaps others will find my thinking instructive.
Like everybody, I have opinions about the world, and in these contentious times, it’s very tempting to share them. Everyone else is, and I talk prettier than many. Why not join the fray? Ooh, ooh, you’re discussing politics, or climate change, or guns? I can do that too!
I drafted three different posts on things political. One even got into my WordPress dashboard, until I deleted it.
Truth is, I just don’t want to be a public intellectual.
It feels irresponsible to say this. In the face of the great activists of the past, and today’s popular writers who still manage worthy columns (or at least snarky tweets) – and often get slagged by some fans for voicing opinions they don’t like – it seems weak to say, nah, I’m out.
I’m out. While it might feel good to get something off my chest, people aren’t waiting around to hear what I have to say about today’s crisis. Or, if people are, they don’t just want it once. If I start down that road, I have to stick with it, have to make it a bigger part of my life and thought.
Perhaps this would be virtuous, but it wouldn’t be singular. Many good people already discuss the state of the world, plainly and well, after actually investigating it and reporting on it. If I want to change the world in favor of my political beliefs, I’m better off writing checks.
Or, writing novels.
Not that I’m going to be ripping tales from today’s headlines. That’s not my thing. More to the point, the political power of good fiction is often indirect. Fiction can say complicated things to culture, often better than it says simple ones. There are political ideas in my novel The Demon in Business Class, but they’re neither immediate nor partisan.
The “messy ground where the worldly meets the divine,” as my back-cover text promises, is a place in the mind. My characters in their big world might inform your opinions about tomorrow’s crisis, whatever it is, but only by example and analogy.
That’s my contribution. We’ll see if it’s enough, over time.

Love your pile of words (first drafts)

I love my current first draft.
This is a shocking and unfashionable thing to say. Everyone laments their first draft. It is the shoals of mediocrity on which our dreams founder, or at least so tells every clickbait online writing workshop. Complaining about the horror of that first draft is required. Even really successful and also good writers do it, and always have.
I love mine. I banged it out for NaNoWriMo 2015, in fewer than my allotted thirty days. Yes, I know that’s a long time ago (I sold a book in the meantime!), but that length of time is supposed to make clear how awful the first draft is, as the scales of hope fall from my more jaundiced and persnickety eyes.
Alas, I love it, blazingly. I have reread it more than once, with comments from my writing dojo NoveltyDC, and each time I am in a better mood.
It’s got half-finished ideas that I now can’t remember, areas that need major restructuring, a lot of plodding exposition. Some of my best supporting characters – like the smuggler with a tail – are on far too briefly. Late ideas may turn out to be organizing principles. No doubt I will rewrite almost every sentence in it, reorganize it, wrestle it. I may occasionally kick it. It will take a lot of work. Even then it will be niche, strange, uncommercial and standalone.
It’s going to be great.
What is wrong with me? How did I get to this place? How did I find joy and wonder in my work while others gnash teeth and tear hair? It isn’t my success to date, which is tiny; nor is it my upbeat disposition, which is pure fakery. So what is it?
Here’s a thought – I love it because it’s a draft. It may be made of words, but it’s not a novel yet. It’s been work of course, the work of felling trees and forging nails, but this is the lumber and hardware and cleared ground, not the finished house. It’s a pile of words and ideas, and for that, it’s just fine. Well, maybe I will need a few more words.
The draft is the start, the lumber and blueprints. It will not house or warm you, not without a lot of work to come. It’s just a stage.
Get excited. And get to work.

Dobranski Talks! (text, audio, video)

Apologies to Greta Garbo… Happy New Year! Here’s some recent Tony-media for you to enjoy!
Today my interview with author Raymond Bolton appears on his website. It’s certainly the most personal public conversation I’ve ever had, a story of insecurity, confusion and doubt, redeemed by the help of colleagues and the business model for Honest Tea.
Castle of Horror‘s Jason Henderson interviewed me for the Castle Talk podcast. It’s an unusual discussion, since it focuses on Demon‘s non-fantasy elements – corporate life and the travails of the business road-warrior, and how that culture defined the book’s style and language.
Finally, as a New Year’s present to my wonderful editor Vivian Caethe, I posted a video of my December 1 2016 reading on my public Facebook author page. It’s about forty-five minutes, with a short intro about my inspiration, three passages (in eight voices) from the book, and a bit at the end about marketing and promotion – which, as readers of this blog know, took over my creative life in the months leading to the Demon launch. (Those who’d rather listen can find the audio through this link, or the first comment on the FB video post.)

Regaining the writing habit (hours not words)

I think it’s official now: I have fallen out of the habit of writing. I don’t mean to say “I’m not writing” or #amwriting – just that over the past year it’s been an ad-hoc effort, when the mood takes me.
I’m not in a panic – I have a new project, and I am even taking a class so that I have a talented writer to hold my nose to its grindstone. I am simply surprised not to be more weird about this.
I suspect it’s because the effort to market Demon turned out to be so creatively interesting – something akin to the difference between writing the play and acting in it.
Plays close, of course. Demon, I hope, will keep going. Perhaps the better analogy is to a previous album, songs on which I will perform for years after – but I’m more likely to perform the old songs if I keep coming out with new ones.
I don’t know if it will rise to the level of a New Year’s Resolution – and that would be a telling thing if it had to – but I need to start cultivating a writing habit again. That means approaching it with scheduled regularity for the next long while.
For me that means hours, not words. My colleagues often post their daily word counts, but that method never worked for me, probably because I don’t just write while I write. Like Penelope, I undo my work as I go, though unlike her I do it first thing in the morning. Even during the headlong charge of NaNoWriMo 2015, I couldn’t keep myself from editing, especially once I was three-fourths of the way to the 50K word count. People who write productivity books cluck and ruffle feathers, and isn’t that an analogy that’s not going anywhere kind to them? Stepping back….
I feel a pressure to keep it neat, akin to a bricklayer making sure to scrape away excess mortar. Perhaps that comes from the huge amount of words I threw out of early Demon drafts, and my desire not to write so inefficiently again. Perhaps I am just afraid the words will dry.
Perhaps, in my process, whatever it is, words can dry, and I’d be a fool not to respect that – whatever reality or self-indulgence that woolly concept implies to my number-crunching colleagues. They write them and I write me and I dry.
I get the rest of this week to play and shop. On Christmas night, I have to make a schedule. Maybe I should throw in a little time to exercise too. Or maybe that’s the New Year’s Resolution!

Demon Events, Fall 2016 – with free stuff!

This fall, WordFire Press publishes The Demon in Business Class, an international modern-day fantasy by Anthony Dobranski.
Meet the author at these upcoming appearances and readings:
Sat Nov 5 – DC Library Author Festival, MLK Library, Washington DC
Fr-Su Nov 11-13 – Rhode Island Comic Con, Providence RI
Wed Nov 16, 7pm – Reading & SigningOne More Page Books, Arlington VA
Fr-Su Nov 18-20 – PhilCon Cherry Hill NJ
Thur Dec 1, 7pm – Reading & SigningThe Writer’s Center, Bethesda MD
*Each print copy of Demon sold during these appearances comes with a free  poster!*
poster13x19
**While they last, get a real Demon trading card, printed from the virtual set running on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.**
The nine Demon picture cards
For up-to-date news on events, visit More Demon! The Demon in Business Class info page