My Favorite Things with J.L. Gribble

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome to the new and improved version of My Favorite Things, the weekly column where we grab someone in speculative circles to gab about the greatest in geek. This week, we sit down with author and Sound Off! editor J.L. Gribble to find out what she loves when she’s not using Speculative Chic as an excuse to see every movie on opening weekend or working on her latest novel. What did we discover? Spoiler alert: More epic movies, old-school fantasy television, and a particular blue box. Read on for more!

As noted above, I’m a huge movie fan. Speculative Chic only exacerbated this problem, giving me all the incentive I needed to see fun movies on opening weekend. Previous to this excuse, I’d really only seen one class of movies opening weekend: anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though I was not raised on the comics, I’ve fallen completely in love with this sprawling universe and its cast of characters (after all, someone has to be a fangirl for just the movies without all the baggage of the comics). But one movie has stood out from the rest: The Avengers. I saw that one twice opening weekend and at least twice before it left the theaters. These days, it’s my go-to for epic background entertainment.

What I love about Marvel’s films, as opposed to the DC equivalents, is that they make movies that happen to star superheroes, rather than superhero movies. Captain America: The First Avenger was a period film, whereas Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a political thriller. Iron Man is a redemption movie, Guardians of the Galaxy is a space opera, etc. The Avengers, on the other hand, is an old-fashioned team up to prevent the apocalypse. Considering my other favorite movie genre is disaster flicks, and I get literal goose bumps when I watch or read anything that pulls disparate characters together and forces them to combine forces, The Avengers is my movie catnip. The Avengers: Age of Ultron came close (I saw that one twice on opening day, but that’s a whole separate story), but the original will always have a special place in my heart.

Owning a sword does not make me badass (writing books does, though).

Speaking of characters set in a contemporary world with extraordinary abilities, I think that bug really caught me back in middle school. I had a newborn sister, so my parents weren’t really supervising my television intake. This was when I stumbled across a weird show based on even weirder movies about immortal people living under our noses in society, having duels to the death with other immortals, and finishing each other off with epic lightning storms that always went on just long enough to be vaguely uncomfortable. I’m speaking, of course, of Highlander: The Series, though what really attracted me to the show were the historical flashbacks with gorgeous setting and costumes. And the sword fighting. Okay, you’ve got me: And the gorgeous men (and women!) doing the sword fighting.

But the concept from this show that really stuck with me was how people who have lived for hundreds, or even thousands, of years might interact with today’s society. Does age bring wisdom and goodness, or does it entrench evilness further into a person’s psyche? Either way, it was a story about supernatural people who are still people first and foremost, and that has informed the way I write my own long-lived characters for over 20 years.

Another way that Highlander seems to have stuck with me is my love for nontraditional urban fantasy. With a few exceptions, I could never get behind the endless books with badass female heroines battling supernatural evil in a clueless greater world. I wanted different worlds, where everyone knew about the supernatural that existed and was affected by it. I don’t really mind the badass female heroes though, because one of my favorite book series is Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. Kate is a woman (with a sword!) who battles evil in a futuristic Atlanta swept by magic. As this series has progressed, she’s surrounded herself by friends and comrades willing to fight by her side for a better world.

I first picked this book up because the author shared a first name with my mother, but I was quickly swept in. The books in this series always go immediately to the top of the “to be read” pile, and with each installment, I’m fascinated and impressed by the fantastic characterization, quality research, and thrilling plot developments. Starting with Magic Bites, each book in this series starts with the word “Magic.” I pay homage to my greatest inspiration by doing the same in my series with the word “Steel.”

I’m not sure I’d ever want to visit Kate Daniels’ Atlanta, because while I own a sword, I have no idea how to use it properly. But there are certainly other worlds and times I’d love to travel to, and I know how I’d want to get there! I’ve been having a quiet love affair with the concept of the TARDIS since I first got hooked on Doctor Who. While I enjoy the show as a casual fan, the TARDIS is an entirely different beast. It’s a box! That’s bigger on the inside! And travels through space and time! And makes a fun noise because the parking break has probably been left on!

A small sampling from the collection. Cookie jar, mug, wind-up toy, and — of course — LEGOs.

Traditional space ships are cool and all, but there’s just something more magical and special about a strange blue box. Though I am equally enamored with the Stargate’s mode of travel (and occasional time travel), it’s the TARDIS that I have taken to collecting with a passion. Whether it’s artwork, jewelry, t-shirts, or random extraneous items (yes, I do have a TARDIS mini fridge), it’s the nerdiest thing that has taken over my house.

Of course, when a LEGO TARDIS was announced, I had to have it. My parents indulged, and I happily spent a Christmas evening putting it together. It was like something clicked in my brain (pun not intended), and with my husband’s blessing, I used some of the Amazon money we’d gotten that holiday to buy another LEGO set: The Ghost from Star Wars Rebels.

My husband might regret that decision now.

But he’s been a good sport about my new obsession! I prefer Star Wars spaceships and fancy real-world buildings, but the sets I buy are thousands of pieces that take hours to put together. It’s my quiet zen in a chaotic world, and I use the sets as a reward system, such as finishing the first draft of a novel or to keep myself entertained when my husband is away for longer than a few weeks.

I’m a pretty chill person, and building LEGOs, or watching a superhero movie, or reading quality urban fantasy are my very favorite things.

This My Favorite Things is brought to you as part of the blog tour celebrating the third novel in J.L. Gribble’s Steel Empires series. You might take a chance on Steel Blood if, like J.L., you’re also intrigued by nontraditional urban fantasy, heroic characters, and immortals with swords. How do the TARDIS and LEGOs tie into it? Well… J.L. is just really obsessed with the TARDIS and LEGOs.

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (, on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram.


  • Lane Robins July 17, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Congrats on the new book! And I second the love for the Avengers and the Kate Daniels books. Though truthfully I’ve enjoyed everything Ilona Andrews has put out.

    • J.L. Gribble July 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Me, too! Even her books that are marketed more heavily as paranormal romance have amazing world building and characterization.

      • J.L. Gribble July 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm

        And thank you, haha. I’m just here to squee over my favorite author, and it’s not me. 😉

      • Lane Robins July 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        Yeah, I’m waiting anxiously for Wildfire. And I don’t really love romances! But I adore Nevada and her family.

        • Shara White July 23, 2017 at 7:22 pm

          Thanks to your comment, I got off my rear and read White Hot. And now I refuse to read anything else until Tuesday and Wildfire comes out. I adore the worldbuilding, and yes, Nevada and her family rocks.

  • Shara White July 17, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    I’m a huge fan of the Ilona Andrews series, but I am sadly quite behind. It’s so easy to forget about stuff that sits on my Kindle!

  • Ron Edison July 18, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Growing up, my whole exposure to superheroes was via DC and except for Bizzaro world, I was underwhelmed. Marvel books were not well distributed in my area and I never read any until Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos and then drifted away from comics in high school. Movie-wise, Marvel is superior in so many ways. The only DC movies I enjoyed were the Michael Keaton Batman and the recent WW. (I can’t express how much I HATED Batman vs Superman.) I’ve read the first couple of Ilona Andrews and have more in my TBR. Sad to say I’ve never seen the Highlander series, although I picked up the first season box set at Half Price Books and will get around to it when my Netflix bingeing fades.

    • J.L. Gribble July 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Just be fore-warned that the first seasons of Highlander are VERY 1990s…certain episodes have aged very well, because good storytelling is timeless. Some have definitely not.

  • Heidi Ruby Miller October 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Glad to hear Jason and I aren’t the only ones to see a movie multiple times in the theater. So many people I know don’t even go to the theater anymore. Thanks for sharing, J.L. and thanks to Speculative Chic for bringing her to all of us readers.


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