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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Guest Blog by Cecy Robson - Bedtime Tales - November 7, 2012

Please welcome Cecy Robson to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs and The Weird Girls Blog Tour!  Sealed With A Curse (The Weird Girls 1) will be published on December 31st. The Weird Girls (an eNovella) will be published on December 4th.

Bedtime Tales

Being of Latin descent, I’m über superstitious. Ghosts, check. Chupa Cabra, check. Headless Horseman, check. Bigfoot? Well, I’m still up in the air about that one, but given I live in the Great Northwest, I’ll give that one a check just in case. Best not to anger a big, hairy being capable of tearing me limb from limb.

My father, instead of telling me there’s no such things as ghosts, fed my insane superstitions or sense of creativity, however you prefer to call it. When I was about seven, he told me that if he died, and his ghost returned from the dead, that I shouldn’t be afraid. Of course I bawled like any seven year-old would. Call me crazy, but the idea of my dead father coming back to haunt me had that effect. He stopped my tears by promising his ghost would only arrive to tell me where treasure was buried. I believed him then, now, not so much . . .

Most children heard “Billy Goats Gruff” or “Ferdinand the Bull” right before bed. I heard “La Llorona” the tale of a dead woman calling out and searching for her equally dead children. Gracia, Papí, and special thanks for the goodnight kisses with the glow-in-the-dark vampire fangs for the full, “I’m scarred for life” result.

The stories didn’t change as I grew older. Instead, they began to creep into my reality. We were visiting a relative in California when I was about fifteen. Before I could step foot in her trailer, my father clasped my arm and said, “Try not to piss her off. She’s a witch, and she doesn’t like you. I don’t want her putting a curse on you.” He walked in ahead of me. It took me several heart-pounding minutes to join him. I proceeded to spend the next two hours refusing to speak, eat, or drink anything in said supposed witch’s home.

While I didn’t get the “whammy,” the encounter, the stories, and the too many bumps I heard at night triggered and fueled my imagination. I didn’t find an outlet for the virtual potpourri of bizarro dreams or strange ideas until I began writing my Urban Fantasy Romance Series, WEIRD GIRLS.

WEIRD GIRLS is about four, very unique sisters who obtain their magical abilities as a result of a curse cast upon their Latin mother for marrying outside her race. Except the curse backfired, and instead of harming the girls, it bestowed them remarkable traits, making them different from any race of human, vampire, witch, or werebeast on earth. And although the sisters have perceived their powers as maledictions instead of gifts, these rare abilities help them combat the supernasties of Lake Tahoe once they’re “outed” to the mystical community.

I hope readers will see that while my childhood doesn’t portray a Norman Rockwell portrait, and perhaps my father should have used more discretion when choosing bedtimes tales, in the end my experiences and influences helped me to create a series filled with distinct characters, graphic and intense fight scenes, twisted humor, and launched the WEIRD GIRLS’ incredible journey.

Thank you for your time. If you’ll excuse me, my children are waiting with the lights on to hear a story. *slaps on vampire fangs*

About The Weird Girls

The Weird Girls
Signet Eclipse, December 4, 2012

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option.

Sealed with a Curse
The Weird Girls 1
Signet Eclipse, December 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird…

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defense. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy—or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it’s coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough.

About Cecy

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is an author with Penguin's SIGNET ECLIPSE. She attributes her passion for story-telling back to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Her dad unwittingly encouraged Cecy's creativity by kissing her goodnight wearing vampire fangs. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing her Urban Fantasy Romance Series, Weird Girls, in May 2009. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella, debuts December 4, 2012 followed by SEALED WITH A CURSE, December 31, 2012, and A CURSE EMBRACED, July 2, 2013.

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Interview with Christopher L. Bennett, author of Only Superhuman, and Giveaway - November 3, 2012

Please welcome Christopher L. Bennett to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Only Superhuman, Christopher's first original novel, was published on October 16, 2012.

Interview with Christopher L. Bennett, author of Only Superhuman, and Giveaway - November 3, 2012

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery!

CLB:  Thank you!

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

CLB:  I’m not sure. A lot of my quirks seem to be pretty common with writers, like procrastinating too much, or doing some of my best thinking when I go for walks or get a change of scenery. But one thing I’ve realized about myself is that it’s hard for me to write about something unless I have at least a rough understanding of how and why it could happen. I have to believe it could work, at least by the rules of the fictional reality it’s in, and that means figuring out how it works. I just have a very analytical mind. That’s why I tend so much to the hard end of the science fiction spectrum, and why worldbuilding is my favorite part of the creative process.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

CLB:  I grew up reading mostly the hard-SF giants like Asimov, Clarke, and Niven. In more recent years I’ve been influenced by the new wave of hard-SF space opera authors like Vernor Vinge and Greg Egan. But Star Trek has always been one of my main influences, and I follow its lead in a lot of ways, like taking an optimistic view of the future, striving to be inclusive and embrace diversity, promoting positive principles and values, and so on. Star Trek/fantasy novelist Diane Duane has been an influence as well; the format of Only Superhuman with its periodic flashback chapters was inspired by Duane’s Trek novels The Romulan Way (with Peter Morwood) and Spock’s World. And when I got the opportunity to pitch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine story ideas to producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe in 1996, I didn’t sell anything but I learned a lot from him about putting character first in my writing.

Another creator who influenced my approach to characterization in this book was Chuck Jones. No kidding. His insightful writing about the classic characters he perfected such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, and what made them work as characters, was an influence on writing Emerald Blair. I’ve never agreed with the conventional wisdom that villains are more interesting than heroes, that they always get the best lines. Who gets better lines, Bugs Bunny or Elmer Fudd? I wanted Emerald to be a hero like Jones’s version of Bugs: quick-witted, always on top of the situation, able to confound foes with humor and the unexpected, but fierce and relentless in defense of the innocent. Although she turned out being a lot like Spider-Man as well, since that comic heroism is combined with a tragic backstory and a strong drive for atonement.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

CLB:  If by “pantser” you mean writing by the seat of my pants, I’d say I’m a mix of both. I generally do a lot of work building the world and the story outline in advance, but I’m very open to finding new things along the way, and some of my favorite moments in my writing have been spontaneous discoveries. On the other hand, not long ago I tried writing my second original spec novel with little guidance from an outline—that is, I’d done a rough outline but rethought a lot of things and tried to go right to manuscript without working up a revised outline first—and I ended up with an unfocused mess that led me in the wrong direction. It wasn’t until I went back and worked out a clearer plot outline that I was able to get it to work to my satisfaction. So I guess I’m a plotter on the large scale but more spontaneous on the detail level.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

CLB:  Just getting started. I tend to follow Newton’s First Law. Once I’m in motion, once I get some momentum going, writing can come very easily—indeed, sometimes it’s hard to stop—but it can be very difficult to get myself into that groove in the first place, and it’s often a long, slow slog uphill until I reach the point where it really begins to flow.

TQ:  Describe Only Superhuman in 140 characters or less.

CLB:  Oh, I’m no good at giving brief descriptions of the book. Let’s see… “Hard-SF superhero adventure as tough, smart, sexy Emerald Blair struggles to keep the peace in the wild & wooly Asteroid Belt.”

TQ:  Tell us something about Only Superhuman that is not in the book description.

CLB:  I think that in the emphasis on the book’s plausible, hard-SF approach to superheroics, one thing that hasn’t been played up is that there’s also a fair amount of spoof and gentle satire. Approaching a subject plausibly means not just proposing a way it might actually work, but acknowledging the problems and absurd consequences that could arise from it. After all, there’s no shortage of absurdity and silliness in real life. So I poke fun at a lot of things. For everything that I portray as a potentially positive tool or source of power, whether transhumanism or central government or the celebrity the Troubleshooters cultivate or the sexuality that Emerald and other characters embrace, I also try to acknowledge the downsides and excesses, and often that means highlighting the absurdities. I particularly enjoyed poking fun at the media and pop culture of Emry’s era, putting in throwaway references to cheesy shows like Annie Minute and the Time Trippers (imagine a cross between Josie and the Pussycats, the Power Rangers, and Mr. Peabody) and future genre fads like “curry Westerns,” which are analogous to spaghetti Westerns but made in Bollywood. I also liked taking digs at some of the overhyped cliches of the transhumanist genre, like the Singularity and brain downloading.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Only Superhuman?

CLB:  Oh, all sorts of things. Some of the big stuff would include research into the asteroid belt, the physics of orbital habitats, genetic engineering, bionics, and the like. Gerard K. O’Neill’s seminal book The High Frontier was a valuable reference for the design and function of space habitats. I read a lot of articles in science magazines and sites about prospective interplanetary drives, including such things as the beam and tether propulsion systems seen in the novel. There’s a cool site called Atomic Rockets at which has a lot of valuable information about plausible spaceship design and technology. A lot of the stuff in the book about the distinct geology and orbits of the various asteroids, and how that affects their cultures, economies, and the like, was added to the novel after the public hoopla about dwarf planets in 2006 got me interested in learning more about Ceres, Vesta, and the other asteroids. It really enriched the worldbuilding and helped the novel come into focus. I used the Celestia space simulator program to work out navigation and distances in the Asteroid Belt, and some folks on the Celestia forum put together add-on files with many more asteroids at my request, so I’m very grateful to them.

But really, I’ve been working on this for so long that I drew on research and input from all over. Some of the character input came from friends, mainly a college friend whose own childbirth experience informed the flashback scene to Emerald’s birth.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

CLB:  The easiest may have been Hanuman Kwan, the Neogaian engineered with monkeylike traits. I couldn’t resist the private joke of imagining Roddy McDowall in the role, and with that voice and persona in mind, the character pretty much wrote himself. (Yes, I know, apes aren’t monkeys, but I still couldn’t resist.) Although writing Emerald herself comes pretty easily because I’ve lived with her in my head for so many years, and because she and similar characters I’ve written are, to an extent, the other side of my own personality—what I imagine I might be without my fears and inhibitions. (Yes, that’s right—my wish-fulfillment version of myself is a hot woman. Make of that what you will. I guess that, having grown up bullied by boys and only shown kindness by female students and teachers, I’ve always gravitated more toward women as role models and inspirations. Yet I’m also very attracted to women, so I make those characters very sexy too. I guess I’m engaged in some inside-out and outside-in wish fulfillment at the same time.)

The hardest? Maybe Zephyr, Emry’s sentient ship. I always had him as part of the concept, but it was only fairly late in the process that I realized I hadn’t really fleshed him out as a character or given him any nuance, and it was a challenge to work out the backstory, worldview, and motivations for a disembodied artificial intelligence. Fortunately I’d already done some worldbuilding about human-AI relations for an unsold story set at an earlier point in the same universe, so I was able to build on that.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Only Superhuman?

CLB:  I don’t know if “favorite” is the word, but one scene that stands out for me was the flashback to the death of Emerald’s mother. Since I lost my own mother when I was young, this was naturally very personal for me, and I wrote it in a visceral, stream-of-consciousness way, just letting the feelings overwhelm me and writing whatever came out. I cried for maybe half an hour after I finished it. It’s probably the one scene I never altered even slightly from the first draft, since I didn’t want to compromise the emotional honesty and rawness of it.

The scene that introduces Koyama Hikari, her practice combat with Emry in Chapter 2, is one that I feel turned out particularly well, with some nice character-building, in particular a certain shocking revelation about Kari’s past—although I do wonder if that might’ve been stronger if I’d held off revealing it a bit longer. The Pellucidar scene was a lot of fun to write, an action set piece that let me go wild with the goofier aspects of the Troubleshooters’ world, and I love its punch line. Anything written from Bast’s point of view was a lot of fun for me as a cat-lover. And everything with Sally Knox was a hoot.

TQ:  What's next?

CLB:  I’m working on an exciting new Star Trek project, an Enterprise sequel called Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures. The previous Enterprise novels covered the Romulan War and ended with the founding of the Federation; now I’m picking up a year or so later and examining the early days of the Federation, its growing pains as it tried to define its identity and goals, as this union forged in war tried to find its role in peacetime and deal with other powers that felt threatened by its existence. It’s a great opportunity, because it’s a period of Star Trek history that’s almost never been explored before, except in one book that came out shortly before Enterprise and was then thoroughly contradicted by it. So it’s this wide open space that’s begging to be filled in, and that gives me a lot of freedom to tell new stories. It’s due out in July 2013.

I’ve also completed a spec novel that I’ve begun shopping to agents (I’m currently unrepresented). It’s set in the same universe as Only Superhuman, but a couple of generations later and on an interstellar stage. It expands on my first published story, “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide” from the November 1998 Analog, and moves forward from those events into an epic adventure on a cosmic scale.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

CLB:  Thanks for having me!

About Only Superhuman

Only Superhuman
Tor Book, October 16, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Christopher L. Bennett, author of Only Superhuman, and Giveaway - November 3, 2012
2107 AD: A generation ago, Earth and the cislunar colonies banned genetic and cybernetic modifications. But out in the Asteroid Belt, anything goes. Dozens of flourishing space habitats are spawning exotic new societies and strange new varieties of humans. It’s a volatile situation that threatens the peace and stability of the entire solar system.

Emerald Blair is a Troubleshooter. Inspired by the classic superhero comics of the twentieth century, she’s joined with other mods to try to police the unruly Asteroid Belt. But her loyalties are tested when she finds herself torn between rival factions of superhumans with very different agendas. Emerald wants to put her special abilities to good use, but what do you do when you can’t tell the heroes from the villains?

Only Superhuman is a rollicking hard-SF adventure set in a complex and fascinating future.

About Christopher

Interview with Christopher L. Bennett, author of Only Superhuman, and Giveaway - November 3, 2012
Christopher L. Bennett has had multiple works of short fiction published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact as well as the online magazines DayBreak and Alternative Coordinates, and has written critically acclaimed science-fiction tie-in novels novels including Star Trek: Ex Machina, Star Trek: Titan -- Orion's Hounds, Star Trek: The Next Generation -- The Buried Age, two Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations novels, X-Men: Watchers on the Walls, and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder, all of them with a hard science slant. Only Superhuman is his first original novel. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Website : Blog : Facebook


What:  One commenter will win a copy of Only Superhuman from The Qwillery.

How:   Answer the following question: 

Who is one of your favorite superheroes?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner

Blogger restored all polls! So the results are in and the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars winner for October is Lee Collins' The Dead of Winter (Cora Oglesby 1) with 28% of the votes cast. The cover art is by Chris McGrath.  

The Dead of Winter was published by Angry Robot BooksShe Returns from War (Cora Oglesby 2) will be published in early 2013.

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner

The final results:

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner

The October Debut Covers
2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner

Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue in November with voting on the November debut covers.

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts

There are 3 debuts for November Please note that I use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The November debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.

Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite November cover for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place later this month.

The Colony
Author:  A.J. Colucci 
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, November 13, 2012
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
Genre:  Fictionalized Science
ISBN:  9781250001290 (print)

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts
A series of gruesome attacks have been sweeping New York City. A teacher in Harlem and two sanitation workers on Wall Street are found dead, their swollen bodies nearly dissolved from the inside out. The predator is a deadly supercolony of ants--an army of one trillion soldiers with razor-sharp claws that pierce skin like paper and stinging venom that liquefies its prey.

The desperate mayor turns to the greatest ant expert in the world, Paul O’Keefe, a Pulitzer Prize–winning scientist in an Armani suit. But Paul is baffled by the ants. They are twice the size of any normal ant and have no recognizable DNA. They’re vicious in the field yet docile in the hand. Paul calls on the one person he knows can help destroy the colony, his ex-wife Kendra Hart, a spirited entomologist studying fire ants in the New Mexico desert. Kendra is taken to a secret underground bunker in New York City, where she finds herself working side by side with her brilliant but arrogant ex-husband and a high-ranking military officer hell-bent on stopping the insects with a nuclear bomb.

When the ants launch an all-out attack, Paul and Kendra hit the dangerous, panic-stricken streets of New York, searching for a coveted queen. It’s a race to unlock the secrets of an indestructible new species, before the president nukes Manhattan.

A.J. Colucci's debut novel is a terrifying mix of classic Michael Crichton and Stephen King. A thriller with the highest stakes and the most fascinating science, The Colony does for ants what Jaws did for sharks.

Author:  Nancy Northcott
Series:  Protector
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing , November 6, 2012 (eBook)
December 18, 2012 (Trade Paperback)
Price:  $2.99 (eBook), $17.99 (print)
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
ISBN:  9781455598878 (print)

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts

As the Collegium council's top sheriff of the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn't just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious traitor wanted by the authorities suddenly risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why.


As a mage, Griffin is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, they're both left running for their lives-from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible Collegium mole.

Author:  Dave Swavely
Series:  Peacer
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, November 13, 2012
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
Genre:  Science Fiction/Thriller
ISBN:  9781250001498 (print)
(Fiction Debut)

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts
Minority Report meets Blade Runner as a man must solve his daughter's murder only to find that the trail leads right back to himself in Dave Swavely's Silhouette, the first of The Peacer Series

A post-quake San Francisco is ruled by a private corporation called the Bay Area Security Service. Its founder, Saul Rabin, is revered by many as the savior of the city, but by others he is feared and loathed as a fascist tyrant. And because of the cutting-edge antigravity technology being developed by his company, this controversial figure is about to become the most powerful man in the world.

To his protégé, Michael Ares, the old man is a mysterious benefactor whom he respects and admires. But when Michael's daughter and best friend are brutally murdered, he follows a trail of evidence that leads dangerously close to home. Closer than he could ever imagine.

A future world of aerocars, net glasses, and neural cyberware provides the backdrop for this timeless tale of good and evil, revenge and love, infamy and destiny. Fans of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell will love this page-turner filled with thought-provoking images of dark shapes which, despite their pain and power, could never blot out the light that surrounds them.

Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012

Please welcome Lee Collins to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Lee's debut, The Dead of Winter, is published today in the US and Canada and on November 1st in the United Kingdom. Happy Publication Day to Lee!

Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery!

Lee:  Happy to be here!

TQ:   What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Lee:  For me, writing isn’t best when done while isolated from all stimuli. I need distractions to work at peak efficiency. Nothing too large (I don’t write best in the middle of a riot, for example), but I find I have much more difficulty getting a day’s worth of writing done without my girlfriend watching a show or playing a game in the same room.

TQ:   Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Lee:  I grew up reading Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Frank Peretti, then moved on to Orson Scott Card, Terry Goodkind, and George R.R. Martin in high school. All of them had a say in how I learned to write, from the pace and structure of storytelling to the construction of sentences. Tolkien, Lewis, and Martin are still writers I read frequently, but I’ve recently added a lot of Stephen King (who was a forbidden author in my childhood), some Ursula K. le Guin and Connie Willis, and a smattering of newer writers like Paolo Bacigalupi and Saladin Ahmed to the mix.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Lee:  I approach a novel like I approach planning a cross-country flight: get a good idea of where you want to end up, file a flight plan with the proper authorities, and let the wind blow you around a bit. If something stops working or catches fire, reevaluate where you want to land. Similarly, I get a good synopsis of the plot together but am open to emergency landings if need be. I don’t actually outline, though; too much work.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Lee:  Coming up with ideas that I think would make good novels. I have no shortage of scenarios, characters, or worlds that seem interesting to me, but very few weather the months-long cogitation crucible required for me to seriously consider devoting that much time to them. I don’t like the idea of just starting a novel to see if it can sustain itself; I want to be reasonably sure it can hold together before I put a single word down. As a result, I don’t have a lot of half-finished novels lying around, but I don’t have an abundance of ideas I feel confident in pursuing, either.

TQ:  Describe The Dead of Winter in 140 characters or less.

Lee:  Old West bounty hunter Cora Oglesby must face her past if she is to overcome the unholy creatures lurking in the mines of Leadville.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Dead of Winter?

Lee:  The character of Cora Oglesby was the spark. She began life as a Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning witch hunter in 2008, evolving into an Old West bounty hunter when I wrote her into a short story for a Western horror anthology Morpheus Tales was preparing. Sadly, the anthology never came together (although the story appeared as a regular feature in Morpheus Tales IX), but the character continued to grow in my imagination until I worked out a novel-length world for her to inhabit.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Dead of Winter?

Lee:  I picked up a few books about frontier living and cowboy humor to get a feel for both the environment and characters that would surround Cora. Serendipity struck when I learned of Marten Duggan, who served as marshal of Leadville from 1878–1882; suddenly, I had a way to boost the historicity of the book while still having a critical role filled. I also had to do quite a bit of reading on how the different firearms of the period functioned, from calibers and loading to dates of manufacture for certain models.

TQ:  What is the oddest bit of information that you came across in your research?

Lee:  Apparently, Oscar Wilde stopped by Leadville during a tour of the United States and proclaimed that a sign begging saloon patrons not to shoot the pianist was “the only rational method of art criticism” he had ever come across. That factoid was just too good to leave out.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Dead of Winter that is not in the book description.

Lee:  Cora Oglesby’s original name was Miriam. Her name came to me as “Mad Madam Mim” when she first popped into my head, and that’s how I thought of her for three years. Her name changed to (the possibly more historically accurate) Cora when I signed with Angry Robot. They requested the name change so as not to cause confusion between my books and the fantastic protagonist Miriam Black of Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds. Still, the name Miriam occasionally pops into my head when I think of the character.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Lee:  The Catholic priest Father Baez was the easiest for me to write. I based him on a colleague of mine at the university who is one of the kindest, quietest people I have ever met. Writing the scenes with this character was as simple as imagining how the real-life inspiration would handle a person like Cora Oglesby. On the other hand, my biggest challenge was Fodor Glava, the main antagonist. He’s a classic narcissistic villain, but I didn’t want him to become a cartoonish exaggeration of the trope. I tried to incorporate some development to explain why he views the world as he does.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Dead of Winter?

Lee:  The scene on the train when Cora first meets traveling Englishman James Townsend has always been a favorite of mine. It captures both Cora and Ben’s relationship as well as how she handles the strangers she meets in her travels.

TQ:  What's next?

Lee:  I’m currently working on research and a synopsis for a third book in the series, but I also have a science fantasy story set in Soviet Russia that is demanding more and more of my head space.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Lee:  The pleasure was all mine!

About The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter
Angry Robot, October 30, 2012 (US/Can)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook
November 1, 2012 (UK)

Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012
Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist.

When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

A stunning supernatural novel that will be quickly joined by a very welcome sequel, She Returns From War, in February 2013.

File Under: Dark Fantasy [ Winter Chill | Small Town Blues | Dead Reckoning | Sharp Shooter ]

About Lee

Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012
Lee Collins has spent his entire life in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he generally prefers to stay indoors reading and playing video games. As a child, he never realized that he could create video games for a living, so he chose to study creative writing at Colorado State University. Upon graduation, he worked as an editorial intern for a local magazine before securing a desk job with his alma mater.

Lee’s short fiction has appeared in Ensorcelled and Morpheus Tales, the latter of which awarded him second place in a flash fiction contest. In 2009, a friend challenged him to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and the resulting manuscript became his debut novel, The Dead of Winter. It will be published in 2012, and the sequel She Returns From War arrives in 2013.

In his spare minutes between writing and shepherding graduate students at his day job, Lee still indulges in his oldest passions: books and video games. He and his girlfriend live in Colorado with their imaginary corgi Fubsy Bumble. You can track him down online via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads

Interview with Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon, authors of Deck Z: The Titanic - October 27, 2012

Please welcome Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Deck Z: The Titanic was published on October 3, 2012.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery!

Chris:  Thanks for having us, and the scones are delicious.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Matt:  For Chris, I’d say it’s his obsessive attention to detail. We spent hours poring over Titanic deck plans—3D models, mechanical blueprints, top- and side-view cutaways—all to make sure we were as close to spot-on accurate as possible regarding the path our protagonists took while fleeing undead passengers.

Chris:  For Matt, I’ll note his ability to channel characters that are far removed from his own personality. He can trot out a child or mother’s POV with equal ease, and still serve up stuff closer to home no problem. Also, he does not drink coffee.

TQ:   Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Chris:  I especially enjoy John Steinbeck, Alan Moore, Raymond Chandler, and Hunter Thompson. They have all had an impact on the style I’m after.

Matt:  I’ll take Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, and Haruki Murakami – though I’m not sure you’d see any of their influences here.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Matt:  Definitely a plotter. In Deck Z, we followed the actual history of Titanic events as closely as possible—to the minute, in some cases. That made detailed timelines necessary to make sure our fictional plot points joined with actual events at just the right times. In writing, as in life, we do very little pantsing.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Chris:  Making sure to realize everything a particular sequence has to offer as it relates to place, plot and character within the whole story.

TQ:   Describe Deck Z in 140 characters or less.

When a scientist discovers a plague that turns victims into monsters, he steals the only sample and makes for America aboard Titanic.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Deck Z?

Chris:  Matt and I were both looking to work on something outside of humor, which we both had been doing a long time for places like The Onion. This was a high-concept idea that was a challenge not to make funny but instead try to realize as a legit piece of horror.

TQ:   What sort of research did you do for Deck Z?

Matt:  We did extensive research on the ship itself—its passengers and crew, the particulars of the ship’s layout and design, the class segregation, and the historical world in which our story is set. There are amazing online forums devoted to Titanic minutiae and they became a go-to resource when we needed answers to questions like “Where was the third-class linen closet located?” Because our story turns on a mutated version of the plague, we also had to dig deep to learn about disease transmission and treatment.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Chris:  I’d say J. Bruce Ismay was probably the easiest because his role in the Titanic disaster is so widely understood to be that of a near-villain. Our character of “The Agent” was the most difficult for me, because he’s cut from whole cloth and has a complicated, serious backstory that motivates his ruthlessness.

TQ:   Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Deck Z?

Matt:  One of my favorite scenes is when our lead character, trying to steal away on the Titanic, meets a know-it-all kid on the dock who helps him with his escape. With all the mayhem aboard the ship, the humorous human moments were the ones I enjoyed most.

TQ:  What's next?

Chris:  We’re at work on a big story set in Richland Center, a sleepy town in Southwest Wisconsin. We’re excited about it.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chris:  It has been our pleasure. I’m still blown away that you churn your own butter.

Matt:  Chris never goes on about my butter this way.

About Deck Z: The Titanic

Deck Z: The Titanic
Chronicle Books, October 3, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 222 pages

Imagine being trapped aboard the doomed Titanic on an icy Atlantic. . . with the walking dead. This fast-paced thriller reimagines the historical events of the fateful Titanic voyage through the lens of zombie mayhem. Captain Edward Smith and his inner circle desperately try to contain a weaponized zombie virus smuggled on board with the 2,200 passengers sailing to New York. Faced with an exploding population of lumbering, flesh-hungry undead, Smith’s team is forced into bloody hand-to-hand combat down the narrow halls of the huge steamer. In its few short days at sea, the majestic Titanic turns into a Victorian bloodbath, steaming at top speed toward a cold, blue iceberg. A creepy, tense pageturner, Deck Z will thrill zombie fans and Titanic buffs alike.

About Chris and Matt  

Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon are regular contributors to popular websites and national publications. They live in Wisconsin. 

Chris Pauls (l) and Matt Solomon (r)

Chris' Twitter
Matt's Twitter
Deck Z on Facebook

Interview with Melissa F. Olson, author of Dead Spots - October 23, 2012

Please welcome Melissa F. Olson to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard 1) will be published on October 30, 2012.

Interview with Melissa F. Olson, author of Dead Spots - October 23, 2012

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Melissa:  This is true - I often wear hats when I write. It’s not a writerly affectation, I promise, but I’m prone to migraines, and the lighting in my house, combined with the screen glow from my laptop, can start giving me headaches when I work for a few hours straight. So I’ll put on a hat to cut the glare from the room lights. Of course, it’s always my most ridiculous or hideous hats, because then I won’t accidentally wear them out of the house and lose them.

TQ:   Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Melissa:  Rob Thurman was the first Urban Fantasy author I ever read, so in a way you can blame everything on her. Then there’s Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris for worldbuilding, Carrie Vaughn and Patricia Briggs for how to craft a long series, early Laurel K. Hamilton for attitude and girl power. And, of course, Joss Whedon, who despite being a man is sort of the patron saint of strong female characters.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Melissa:  In order to truly enjoy the writing, I’ve found I have to be about 30%-70%. I start with a premise, the main characters, a first chapter, a very vague idea of the main arc, and maybe an idea of what the ending looks like. Then I think of it as writing into a fog.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Melissa:  Honest answer? Being a mom at the same time. I have a 3 ½ year old at home who’s just the perfect age to prevent me from getting anything done while she’s awake. And I really can’t recommend being 35 weeks into a tough pregnancy when your book comes out. It’ll all settle down in a few years, but for now, balancing being a full-time parent and a professional writer is the hardest thing I do.

TQ:  Describe Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard 1) in 140 characters or less.

Melissa:  “A rare human who can nullify supernatural powers, Scarlett Bernard must help a young cop solve a series of supernatural murders in LA.” With five to spare!

TQ:  What inspired you to write Dead Spots?

Melissa:  It was actually a scene from the movie Hellboy 2. The characters put on these goggles that help them see through magic spells. I started with the premise of someone who can see through spells, but I couldn’t make it work the way I wanted. Then I came up with someone who can neutralize spells, and as soon as I had that, Scarlett was born.

TQ:  Why did you set the novel in Los Angeles?

Melissa:  At first, LA sort of won by default – it’s the biggest place I’ve ever lived in, and the only major city I know well. Later I realized that it’s also a great fit for Scarlett: LA is a city without a center. Some would even say it lacks a heart and soul. I love LA, and I know it’s full of good things – but it’s also full of lost people. At the beginning of Dead Spots, Scarlett has no drive, no center – and she is definitely lost.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Dead Spots?

Melissa:  I did a lot of research in magical folklore – the various myths about werewolves, vampires, witches – so I could decide how I wanted my mythology to work. I found myself researching evolution, because in my world magic is a natural offshoot of science. I also have a big LA city map hanging in my office with pushpins in it to represent the various locations in the novel. When people write about LA they often stick to the well-known areas – Hollywood, downtown, the beach. I try to visit a lot more of the city.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Melissa:  Once I understood her backstory and her attitude, Scarlett came naturally to me, which I suppose is what you want from your main character. Dashiell the vampire was probably the hardest, because there are so many vampire stories out there that it’s important to me to try not to just fall into existing stereotypes. It would be easy to say “Okay, Dashiell is Lestat from Interview With the Vampire, dropped into this other story.” That’s the last thing in the world I want to do. On the other hand, it isn’t easy to imagine what it’s like to be nearly 200 years old, rich out of your mind, and immortal.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Dead Spots?

Melissa:  Nobody’s ever asked me that! I loved writing the scene where Jesse and Scarlett first meet – these two people are just shoved into this completely messed up situation, and immediately everything they’ve been working for is turned on its head.

TQ:  What's next?

Melissa:  The sequel to Dead Spots, Trail of Dead, will be published sometime this spring or early summer – I don’t have an exact date yet. I just finished editing it, and I’m really excited about where Scarlett’s story takes her. I’m also looking into doing some stories for Scarlett’s world for Christmas.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Melissa:  Thank you!

About Dead Spots

Dead Spots
Scarlett Bernard 1
47North, October 30, 2012
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 293 pages

Interview with Melissa F. Olson, author of Dead Spots - October 23, 2012
Scarlett Bernard knows about personal space: step within ten feet of her, and any supernatural spells or demonic forces are instantly defused—vampires and werewolves become human again, and witches can’t get out so much as a “hocus pocus.” This special skill makes her a null and very valuable to Los Angeles’s three most powerful magical communities, who utilize her ability to scrub crime scenes clean of all traces of the paranormal to keep humanity, and the LAPD, in the dark.

But one night Scarlett’s late arrival to a grisly murder scene reveals her agenda and ends with LAPD’s Jesse Cruz tracking her down to strike a deal: he’ll keep quiet about the undead underworld if she helps solve the case. Their pact doesn’t sit well with Dash, the city’s chief bloodsucker, who fears his whole vampire empire is at stake. And when clues start to point to Scarlett, it’ll take more than her unique powers to catch the real killer and clear her name.

About Melissa

Interview with Melissa F. Olson, author of Dead Spots - October 23, 2012
Melissa Olson was born and raised in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and studied film and literature at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. So…culture shock. Never one for beer or cheese, anyway, Melissa came to love her new city, especially the climate, the movie-watching opportunities, and the food, pretty much in that order. After graduation, and a brief stint bouncing around the Hollywood Studio System, Melissa proved too broke for LA and moved to glorious Madison, WI, where she eventually acquired a master’s degree from UW-Milwaukee, a husband, a mortgage, two kids, and two comically oversized dogs, not at all in that order. She loves Madison and it’s proximity to her family, but still dreams of the food in LA. Literally. There are dreams.

Her work has been published in the Daily Trojan, the Chippewa Falls Herald Telegram, The International Journal of Comic Art, The La Crosse Tribune, U-Wire, Women on, and the upcoming compilation The Universal Vampire. She has also presented or been on panels at the Midwest Popular Culture/American Culture Conference, the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts Conference, and OdysseyCon 2012.

Website : Blog : Facebook : Twitter

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012

PLEASE NOTE: The votes have been completely restored! The results stand.

It's time for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for October 2012!

As part of this year's Debut Author Challenge I thought it would be fun for you to choose a favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2012 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is released in the US.

You have 12 novels to choose from in October!

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4

What are the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Authors up to now and in 2013?  This is the fourth is a series of posts.

See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.

Simone St. James

An Inquiry into Love and Death
NAL Trade, March 5, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
In 1920's England, a young woman searches for the truth behind her uncle’s mysterious death in a town haunted by a restless ghost…

Oxford student Jillian Leigh works day and night to keep up with her studies—so to leave at the beginning of the term is next to impossible. But after her uncle Toby, a renowned ghost hunter, is killed in a fall off a cliff, she must drive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings.

Almost immediately, unsettling incidents—a book left in a cold stove, a gate swinging open on its own—escalate into terrifying events that convince Jillian an angry spirit is trying to enter the house. Is it Walking John, the two-hundred-year-old ghost who haunts Blood Moon Bay? And who beside the ghost is roaming the local woods at night? If Toby uncovered something sinister, was his death no accident?

The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken, a former RAF pilot with mysteries of his own, leaves Jillian with more questions than answers—and with the added complication of a powerful, mutual attraction. Even as she suspects someone will do anything to hide the truth, she begins to discover spine-chilling secrets that lie deep within Rothewell…and at the very heart of who she is.

Elisabeth Staab

Prince of Power
Chronicles of Yavn 2
Sourcebooks, January 8, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
The second installment of Elisabeth Staab's paranormal romance series follows Tyra, a vampire soldier who is nearly killed on the battlefield while fighting the vicious wizard clan. When she awakes from her injuries, she discovers that the man who saved her life is none other than the Master Wizard's son, Anton. They are inexplicably drawn to each other, but Tyra knows this mysterious wizard is hiding a violent secret. She is unsure of whom to trust, who to believe, and where she belongs. Is Anton really in love with Tyra and out for revenge on his father? Or is he only pretending to love her so that he can kill her and steal her powers?

Jillian Stone

The Moonstone and Miss Jones
Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator 2
Brava, September 25, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
A master of paranormal deduction—and paramour seduction—Phaeton Black has a knack for bumping into things that go bump in the night, from ghoulies and ghosties to long-leggedy beauties…

Mooning For The Moonstone

Barely escaping the clutches of a succulent succubus, Phaeton Balck returns to London only to get sucked into another unearthly scheme. Professor Lovecraft has been tinkering with the secrets of life and death, replacing body parts with the latest mechanical marvels. To succeed, he needs to tap the power of the fabled Moonstone—and he needs Phaeton’s help. Of course, Phaeton would prefer to investigate the more interesting body parts of Miss America Jones. Perhaps, bringing his lady friend along for the ride won’t be to too much trouble…

Shanghaied In Shanghai

The bewilderingly beautiful and bountifully gifted daughter of a Cajun witch, Miss Jones is always up for an adventure, especially with Mr. Black as her traveling companion. But when Phaeton is mysteriously shanghaied in Shanghai, America thinks he’s run out on her. Stranded in the Orient—and steaming mad—she’s prepared to look under every stone for the missing detective. The case has put them both in the most compromising positions, but this time, Miss Jones is on top and Mr. Black is at the bottom…of a truly infernal plot.

Joan Swan

Phoenix Rising 2
Brava, Deptember 25, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
With a man like him, every mission becomes personal…

Ever since FBI agent Keira O’Shay started tracking a young boy named Mateo, she’s felt a connection even her empathic abilities can’t explain. She needs to save Mateo from the cult leader holding him hostage. Nothing can interfere with that—not even the reappearance of Luke Ransom, the hot-as-hell fire captain she’s regretted walking out on for three long years.

Losing Keira left Luke vulnerable—in every way. When they were together, the powers each possesses were mysteriously enhanced. But it’s the sexy, surprising woman beneath the tough exterior that Luke’s really missed. Even if she betrayed him utterly. And even if agreeing to help her uncover a government conspiracy means watching his life and his heart go up in flames again…

David Tallerman

Crown Thief
Tales of Easie Damasco 2
Angry Robot. September 25, 2012 (US/Canada)
October 4, 2012 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
From the Tales of Easie Damasco…

Meet Easie Damasco: Thief, swindler and lately, reluctant hero.

But whatever good intentions Damasco may have are about to be tested to their limits, as the most valuable – and dangerous – object in the land comes within his light-fingered grasp.

Add in some suicidally stubborn giants, an old enemy with dreams of empire and the deadliest killers in two kingdoms on his heels, and Damasco’s chances of staying honest – or even just surviving – are getting slimmer by the hour.

File Under: Fantasy [ Run Easie Run | A Big Help | Not again! | Prince of Thieves ]

James R. Tuck

Spider's Lullaby
Deacon Chalk, Occult Bounty Hunter Novella
Kensington, June 26, 2012
eBook, 79 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
He lives to kill monsters. He keeps his city safe. And his silver hollow-points and back-from-the-dead abilities take out any kind of unnatural threat. But between this bad-ass bounty hunter and rescuing the most helpless of victims stands the one evil he can’t defeat…

For Deacon Chalk, loyalty is worth dying for. And now that something has taken were-spider Charlotte’s un-hatched children and one of his closest friends, he’ll tear up the human and supernatural underworlds to find them. But with his allies stripped away by an invincible Yakuza hit man and time running out, Deacon must face down the most ancient of demonic entities. And his last hope means surrendering to the inner darkness waiting hungrily to consume him …

Blood and Silver
Deacon Chalk, Occult Bounty Hunter 2
Kensington, August 7, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
He hasn’t met a monster yet that could give him a scare. With ice in his veins, silver hollow-points in his chambers, and an innate ability to rise from the dead, what’s to fear? The answer may be something he doesn’t want to face…

Deacon Chalk normally has no trouble telling innocent victims from real monsters. So protecting an abused pregnant were-dog is a no-brainer…until a vicious lycanthrope leader and his brotherhood target Deacon, other shape-shifters, and any humans in their way. Suddenly, Deacon is outnumbered, outgunned, and unsure who—or what—to trust. The only edge he has left is a weapon hungry for his soul and his most savage impulses. And using it will exact a price even this hell-raising hunter fears to pay…

Blood and Magick
Deacon Chalk, Occult Bounty Hunter 3
Kensington, March 5, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4
Taking out hellish creatures—not a problem. Armed with blessed silver hollow-points and the ability to manipulate magick, he’s ready for anything—except betrayal he never saw coming…

Deacon Chalk knows the biggest danger in fighting monsters is becoming one. Just another day at the office for your friendly neighborhood occult bounty hunter. If keeping three helpless were-dog children safe means battling a malevolent trio of witches by any means necessary, so be it. If that means partnering with a ruthless government agent to stay one step ahead of the allies and friends he must now suspect, he’s not going to cry about it. The only way Deacon can save humans and shape-shifters alike is to embrace a power beyond his imagining, putting his team at stake—and his soul on the line…

Interview with Rob DeBorde, author of Portlandtown - October 18, 2012

Please welcome Rob DeBorde to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  Portlandtown (A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes 1), Rob's fiction debut, was published on October 16, 2012.

Interview with Rob DeBorde, author of Portlandtown - October 18, 2012

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Rob:  Thanks. Nice place. I like the moon.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Rob:  That’s an odd question. Let’s see . . . I do have a dead man hanging in my office. Does that count? He watches over me while I write. Doesn’t say much. I do seem to include quite a few dead/undead things in my writing, so perhaps he does have an influence. Is that quirky or just creepy? I think I’ll stop answering this question now.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Rob:  Favorites? Jim Butcher, Warren Ellis, Sarah Vowell, Christopher Moore, J. K. Rowling, Matt Taibbi, David Simon, Matthew Weiner, and a bunch of other peoples. I like writers. I like books. Comics and TV, too. Where there are words there’s story and I’m all for that.

As for influences, everything I know about putting pen to paper I learned from reading Stephen King novels. Where else can a body find four decades of entertainment and education in one bibliography? Plus—dead things! Man, I love that guy.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Rob:  A plotter, definitely. I wrote an 80 page treatment for Portlandtown. That doesn’t mean I won’t revise on the fly, but I like to have a pretty good idea where I’m going. I can’t imagine writing a novel any other way. (I tried once. Didn’t go well.)

Oddly enough, the opposite is true when I write a short story. I usually have an idea or some ridiculous situation, maybe a character or two, but that’s it. I sit down and start writing until it’s done or I hit the wall. More often than not I hit the wall. This is why I have two dozen unfinished short stories floating around my computer at the moment. Plotter, definitely.

TQ:   What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rob:  Page 7. I can usually get through first half dozen or so pages of any story on enthusiasm alone, but around page 7 things start to get real. I start to ask questions. What am I doing? Am I really going to write this? Will anyone want to read a story about a half-blind vegan ventriloquist and his tofu dummy? It’s at this point that I either shrug and go back to writing or start playing Plants Vs. Zombies.

TQ:   Describe Portlandtown (A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes 1) in 140 characters or less.

Rob:  If you like supernatural adventures about 19th century booksellers, undead outlaws, & zombies in the rain, Portlandtown is the book for you.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Portlandtown?

Rob:  The inspiration for Portlandtown was a love of zombies and a photograph of downtown Portland during the Flood of 1894. When I combined the two in my head it all came together: wet zombies. Awesome.

TQ:   What sorts of research did you do for Portlandtown?

Rob:  Not having grown up in the 1880s I had to do quite a bit of period-specific research on the city of Portland, revolvers, bullets, clothing, architecture, floods, Astoria, traveling circuses, language, steamboats, Native Americans, totem poles, the Oregon coast, horses, roads, rivers, and bridges. Trust me, I have extensive notes. This did not stop me from occasionally inventing details or adjusting the facts if it suited the story. Stupid writers . . . always makin’ stuff up.

TQ:   Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Rob:  The marshal was the easiest. Grumpy old man—how hard could that be? Actually, he’s a little more nuanced than that, but still a natural voice that came readily (steer clear of me when I’m retired, obviously). Much more difficult was Andre Labeau, the African American Shaman/cowboy who never uses contractions and always speaks truth even when he’s telling a lie. Tricky.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Portlandtown?

Rob:  Without giving anything away, huh? Okay. If I had to pick a favorite I’d say the Hanged Man’s return (think corpse on display, circus freaks, and a shootout). Takes a few pages to get there, but it’s worth it. I’m also quite fond of Andre’s memory of his mother and the twins first encounter with a living-challenged local.

TQ:  What's next?

Rob:  Next will either be the sequel to Portlandtown or an unrelated novel called Pumpkin Eater. The later is about ghosts, skeletons, and Halloween. Yeah, I know, more dead things.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rob:  My pleasure.

About Portlandtown
A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes 1
St. Martin's Griffin, October 16, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Rob DeBorde, author of Portlandtown - October 18, 2012
Welcome to Portlandtown, where no secret is safe---not even those buried beneath six feet of Oregon mud.

Joseph Wylde isn’t afraid of the past, but he knows some truths are better left unspoken. When his father-in-law’s grave-digging awakens more than just ghosts, Joseph invites him into their home hoping that a booming metropolis and two curious grandtwins will be enough to keep the former marshal out of trouble. Unfortunately, the old man’s past soon follows, unleashing a terrible storm on a city already knee deep in floodwaters. As the dead mysteriously begin to rise, the Wyldes must find the truth before an unspeakable evil can spread across the West and beyond.

About Rob
Interview with Rob DeBorde, author of Portlandtown - October 18, 2012

Rob DeBorde is the author of Portlandtown: A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes, a story of supernatural suspense, adventure, and zombies in the rain due October 16 from St. Martin’s Griffin. He also wrote a fish cookbook and a cartoon about an accident-prone octopus chef. Seriously. He lives upriver from Portland, Oregon and can be found online at

WebsiteFacebook : Twitter
Guest Blog by Cecy Robson - Bedtime Tales - November 7, 2012Interview with Christopher L. Bennett, author of Only Superhuman, and Giveaway - November 3, 20122012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 DebutsInterview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012Interview with Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon, authors of Deck Z: The Titanic - October 27, 2012Interview with Melissa F. Olson, author of Dead Spots - October 23, 20122012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012What's Up for 2012 Debut Authors in 2012 and 2013 - Part 4Interview with Rob DeBorde, author of Portlandtown - October 18, 2012

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