If you’ve been here before you might know that I adore Poppy Nwosu’s writing in her contemporary YA books and was thrilled when she announced she was going to be writing dark adult fantasy, which she does under the name P.J. Nwosu. I have talked a little bit about the Red Kingdom series books here and here and today it is my pleasure to be chatting about books and reading and summer with lovely author Poppy (P.J.) Nwosu! Read on for our chat and some great recommendations!
Hi Poppy! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today! I’ve recently been reading Dream of Death City, which is the first novel in your Red Kingdom series. Can you please tell us a bit about the series and what inspired you to write it?
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Bron! I’m so happy to be here to chat books and summer with you
Dream of Death City is the first book in my new Red Kingdom series, and is a chilling mystery set in a dark fantasy world. For the past few years, I have become quite obsessed with mystery stories, especially detective tales, and also, I’ve become a lot more interested in history, too, particularly the darker, weirder and more macabre stories that are almost too strange to believe. This series was really a way for me to mash together all the things I love, which is fantasy books with epic world-building, gritty detective tales and strange history. My book, Dream of Death City, is what emerged.
The book is set in a corrupt and crumbling kingdom filled with slaves, murder, superstition and purges. It’s a land that heavily suppresses its people, and has death giants wandering the oceans and a mysterious power called the crooked beat. But the focus of my story is on two investigators who must solve a brutal crime.
Like everyone else, I really love fantasy stories about heroes who are able to change the world and break the system, but I must admit that I also love the idea that there are many different ways to be strong. So in my series, I really wanted to explore the lives of more ordinary people first and foremost, not the rulers and heroes who usher in a new age, but instead the average citizen who endures and finds their way in the resulting chaos. In real life history, those are the stories that I am always most drawn to, so that’s what I wanted to explore in this series.
Is there a particular book you’d love to find under your Christmas tree this year?
Oh my gosh, there are always so many! I am a ridiculous collector of books, and my wish list is always insanely long. Lately, I’ve been very drawn to both mysteries and history titles, as I definitely draw a lot of inspiration for my dark fantasy mysteries from those types of books, especially when it comes to the world-building.
Right now, a mystery book I am very keen to get my hands on is The Conjure-Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher, which is a Harlem detective tale written in the 1930s. I’d also like to pick up The Wrong Goodbye by Toshihiko Yahagi, which is a Japanese hard-boiled noir. I am also hoping to pick up a copy of the history book Prince Dracula: The Bloody Legacy of Vlad the Impaler after hearing the author speak recently on a podcast. Another history book I am very interested in is Heavenly Bodies by Paul Koudounaris, which looks creepily fascinating.
That is a lot more than one book, but I can’t help myself, haha.
Do you have a favourite book (or books!) you’ve read this year that you’ll be recommending (or giving as a Christmas present!) to everyone you know?
I’ve read so many wonderful books over the past year that I would love to press into everyone’s hands! It’s really very difficult to choose, but some definite favourites were Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The entire Curse of the Cyren Queen fantasy series by Helen Scheuerer (I’ve only got the last book left to read and am certain it will be as spectacular as the other three books. The series is soooo good.) An absolute favourite thriller was Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei, which had me desperately reading until it was finished, and most recently, I finished reading To Dream of White and Gold by R.K. Hart, which I just adored. It is such a beautiful fantasy novel.
Phew. That was a lot of books, wasn’t it? I couldn’t pick only one, haha. Impossible.
Of course here in Australia at Christmas time summer is just getting started. Do you enjoy summer, and what is your favourite thing about it?
Oh gosh, not to ruin the summer vibes, but I am really not sure that I do love summer! However, I do definitely love swimming at the beach, and that is an activity that is only nice doing the summer, so I guess I do love that. And I also love those stretching blue skies during an Australian summer, so although I don’t love the heat, I do like the beach and coast lifestyle quite a lot.
What’s your perfect summer reading situation?
I think good air-conditioning is essential for comfortable summer reading doing the summer! But on a picnic blanket in the shade down near the coast is also ideal. Sounds lovely!
Do you like to plan a summer reading list? I’d love if you could please share three (or more if you can’t cut it down!) books on your summer holiday tbr.
Yes, I adore choosing my next read from my vast collection of unread books at home. I really do collect them faster than I can read them, but it makes choosing my next read extra fun, as I have so many to choose from!
I am a bit of a mood reader, so this may change for sure, but right now I am finishing up reading two books, one is a crime novel from Colombia which has been translated into English, The Night Will be Long by Santiago Gamboa, and I am also reading the most beautiful short literary book, called One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun, which has been translated from Korean. It is a surreal little story, both sad and very beautiful. I’m halfway through and really loving it.
Next up, I have a few books to choose from, I have a history book on my shelf called Medieval Bodies by Jack Hartnell that I am dying to read. I also have City of Brass by S.A Chakraborty and some exciting indie titles A King’s Radiance by L. R. Schulz and Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar.
That was quite a lot, wasn’t it! Oops. Sorry Bron, I couldn’t cut it down to a reasonable number! I really love taking books 🙂
Finally, are you working on something new and can you tell us anything about it?
Yes, I am currently working on two different projects, book 2 in my Red Kingdom dark fantasy series, and also a young adult fiction dark fantasy/mystery manuscript, which I’m editing right now. I’m really excited by both projects and am loving the experience of working on them.
Thanks so much for your time!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Bron, these questions were so fun!
Have a lovely summer!
I always have so much fun chatting with Poppy about books and writing and I can’t wait to check out some of those recommendations that all sound so fab! I’m super grateful to Poppy for taking the time to answer my questions. You can keep up on the latest about P.J. Nwosu’s work on her website and Instagram, and also her newsletter is really fun – you can sign up for it on her website.
About the author
PJ Nwosu writes dark mysteries in epic fantasy worlds.
She loves reading gritty detective and fantasy novels, and is obsessed with learning about strange, creepy tales from history.
PJ Nwosu tells twisty, dark stories against epic fantasy backdrops, and loves all things memento mori. She lives by the sea in Australia with her husband and black cat.
Dream of Death City
Pale moths haunt an icy frontier. Beneath the shadow of a drowned death god, a frozen body is unearthed from the snow.
Investigators arrive to a superstitious island to solve a brutal crime. Among them is a lowly slave desperate to prove her worth and a soldier with dark dreams. Neither are prepared for what they find.
Death City is a strange and violent frontier, and no one who survives comes back clean. First though, Thora and Diem must survive.
Welcome to the Red Kingdom.
A Pale Box on the Distant Shore
A silent killer stalks the slum towers of Death City. In the shadow of a drowned death god, a young soldier burns the dead.
To solve a violent crime, Soldier Honnan Skyin follows a bloody trail through the isolated Frontier and over the behemoth bones of a dead giant.
Some secrets should stay buried.
Welcome to Death City.
Pyres in the Dark Night
A vast, rotting city set aflame by Purge House. A crowd gathers in the shadow of the Red Palace to watch the pyres burn.
A bitter ex-soldier infiltrates the city’s greatest gold house, determined to locate the slave he seeks.
Diem Lakein might not like what he finds.
Welcome to the Red Kingdom.