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Interview with Yangsze Choo, author of The Ghost Bride - August 8, 2013


Please welcome Yangsze Choo to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ghost Bride was published on August 6th and is an Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, an Indie Next List pick, a Barnes & Noble Fall ‘13 Discover Great New Writers selection, and more!




Interview with Yangsze Choo, author of The Ghost Bride - August 8, 2013





TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Yangsze:  I think the first thing I wrote was a diary, probably when I was about 6 or 7 years old. It’s full of misspellings and is mostly concerned with things like our neighbor’s dog (I wanted one desperately) and what we had for dinner. But in some ways, I think this is what writing is at its most basic - making observations, and spinning stories to explain the world.



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

Yangsze:  I spent part of my childhood in Japan and to this day, I prefer to write at a low table, sitting on the floor.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Yangsze:  Pants! Pants! When things are going well, it makes writing very fun as I feel like I’m experiencing the story as it’s occurring. But when I get stuck, it’s very sad.



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

Yangsze:  Finding quiet time to write, and doing it consistently. There are so many distractions to writing and it’s far too easy to spend time doing things like watching cooking videos on Youtube and googling Korean celebrities.



TQ:  Describe The Ghost Bride in 140 characters or less.

Yangsze:  In 1890s colonial Malaya, a young Chinese woman receives a marriage proposal for the son of a wealthy family. The only problem is, he's dead.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Ghost Bride?

Yangsze:  I was doing research in the archives of our local Malaysian newspaper for another novel I was working on, when I found a brief mention of spirit marriages that offhandedly declared them “increasingly rare.” This was so intriguing that I ended up abandoning my first book to write this one instead.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Ghost Bride?

Yangsze:  My dad collected a lot of old books and British traveler’s tales about Malaya. I remember poring over them on long, hot afternoons when I’d run out of reading material, never guessing that years later, they would serve as the basis for a novel. The archives of our local Malaysian newspaper were also helpful, as well as Harvard’s Widener and Yenching libraries, which were a trove of out-of-print books. I also heard many odd stories about ghosts from my family and friends in Malaysia, some of which gave me lifelong phobias such as avoiding banana trees at night!



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

Yangsze:  The cook, Old Wong, who is a grumpy old Chinese man, was very easy to write. Actually, so was Amah, the grumpy old Chinese nanny. I think I must have internalized such voices from my childhood, because if I close my eyes I can immediately imagine someone telling me to go and wash my face or make my bed.

The hardest character to write was Tian Bai, Li Lan’s first love interest. According to the conventions of the time, she would have hardly known him. I imagined in real life, they would have these stilted, awkward conversations, yet I had to try to make them interesting enough for a reader to follow along.



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

Yangsze:  The chase scene in the Plains of the Dead, the Chinese afterlife which is made up of burned paper offerings. I really enjoyed writing it, and later reading it for the audio book!



TQ:  What's next?

Yangsze:  I’m working on another novel about man-eating tigers, but it’s still quite nascent and it’s hard to say whether it will work out yet...



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Yangsze:  It’s been a pleasure!





The Ghost Bride

The Ghost Bride
William Morrow Books, August 6, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Yangsze Choo, author of The Ghost Bride - August 8, 2013
A startlingly original voice makes her literary debut with this wondrous coming-of-age story infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, adventure, and fascinating, dreamlike twists

One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride. . . .

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lims' handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits, and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.





About Yangsze

Interview with Yangsze Choo, author of The Ghost Bride - August 8, 2013
Malaysian writer Yangsze Choo’s debut novel, The Ghost Bride, is Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, an Indie Next List pick, Barnes & Noble Fall ‘13 Discover Great New Writers selection, Glamour Magazine Beach Read, and a Good Housekeeping August Book Pick. Set in 1890s colonial Malaya and the elaborate Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities and burned paper offerings, it’s about a young woman who receives a marriage proposal from a dead man. Yangsze eats and reads too much and can often be found doing both at her blog http://yschoo.com



Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @yangszechoo


Interview with Peter Rawlik, author of Reanimators - August 7, 2013


Please welcome Peter Rawlik to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Reanimators will be published on September 3, 2013. The eBook was published on June 4, 2013.



Interview with Peter Rawlik, author of Reanimators - August 7, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Peter:  Thanks it is a true pleasure to be here, and I really do mean that. The internet and social media have been a significant boon to my budding career.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Peter:  I’ve always written stories. I can remember working on a story as a child and misspelling “condemned” as “condomed”, I think my mother choked on her drink. In high school I wrote one novella and started another (both of which I still have), and published some poetry. Through college I dabbled and entertained friends, but didn’t really get serious until the mid Nineties, when I started writing for the regional fanzine. In 1997 I made my first professional sale, but then for some reason, barring some non-fiction and reviews, didn’t really try to write anything else until 2010. Of course since then I can’t seem to stop. As for why, I don’t know. People, often times the same people come into my head and start talking, they say and do the strangest things. It seems only natural to write it down. Thankfully, they don’t seem to mind me doing so.



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

Peter:  When I started writing in the Nineties, I did so at a wonderful little coffee bar in downtown West Palm Beach, surrounded by people talking, bands playing, wait staff working. Now I can’t seem to work without a significant amount of background noise. I tend to write while watching television, British mystery series mostly such as Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost, and The Last Detective.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Peter:  Neither, both. I do timelines, incredibly detailed timelines of world events, character histories, fictional events, and even histories for other people’s characters. Once I have these done I tend to layout some ideas, pick some critical events that I want to incorporate and then write those particular chapters, often in such a manner that they can function as stand-alone stories. Once these are done I write the linking chapters. Then I rewrite, making sure that the whole thing hangs together.



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

Peter:  Every so often I lose control of a character. In Reanimators one particular character was supposed to just walk on and then walk off, instead he took control and refused to leave for a significant portion of the book. He was such a powerful personality, and exerted such control over the other characters that both I and the protagonist decided that the only way to deal with him was to murder him. Since then I’ve written three more tales about this very difficult character, and will probably write several more.



TQ:  Describe Reanimators in 140 characters or less.

Peter:  The horrors attributed to Dr. Herbert West are well documented, but the true story, and his greatest rival, have remained secret, until now.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Reanimators?

PeterReanimators is an accidental novel. I had set out to write a completely different novel, one that featured several characters borrowed from the works of H. P. Lovecraft. One of them, Dr. Hartwell, was a very minor character in The Dunwich Horror, but he has almost no character development. When I went to write him, I realized I knew nothing about him, his personality or his motivations. So I set out to write a few stories about him, to flesh him out. A hundred thousand words later Reanimators was finished and I knew exactly who Dr. Hartwell was.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Reanimators?

Peter:  The novel starts in 1905 and ends in 1930. It is a period rich in history and drama including the Great War, the loss of the Titanic, and the Spanish Flu, I’ve put all of these to good use, but I’ve also taken advantage of other events both real and imagined. An earthquake in Messalina, a World Series that ends in a tie, Charlie Chan’s honeymoon, the death of Christine Daae, all weave together in a strange sort of secret history. In order to pull this off I had to track the lives, loves and lies of dozens of people and characters. This meant not only studying early twentieth century medicine, but also rereading The Phantom of the Opera, the works of Jules Verne, Dashiell Hammett, John Marquand, and even Rex Stout. Numerous characters from Lovecraft and other writers of the Cthulhu mythos also appear, and I think I’ve given them all a fair representation.



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

Peter:  Oddly, the answer to both questions is the same character, Pr.Nathaniel Peaslee. Through a strange turn of events this meek professor of economics undergoes a radical transformation into a ruthless, inhuman creature capable of nearly anything. This made him incredibly easy to write, because he could be used to do anything, and his motives need not be justified. However, this rather endearing ruthlessness, meant that nobody was safe, and all the characters that I needed to survive long enough to actual tell his tale had to be on their best behavior, or risk ending up liquidated.



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

Peter:  The one I never intended to write. My publisher provided some absolutely magnificent artwork for use on the cover, but the actual scene portrayed wasn’t in the original manuscript. But once I saw it, and realized who the characters in the scene were, and what they were doing, everything just sort of fell into place, and a scene that I had meant to be extremely anti-climactic suddenly became one of the most dramatic, and I think satisfying pieces of the novel.



TQ:  What's next?

Peter:  I have eighteen short stories accepted and awaiting publication, and I’m currently plugging away at the sequel to Reanimators tentatively entitled The Weird Company, which is the novel I had originally set out to write. Now that I know who Dr. Hartwell is, perhaps I can finally see his part in this little adventure, from the beginning, and to the end.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Peter:  Thanks for having me. It is a real honor to have been chosen, and honestly the whole thing has just been a thrill.







Reanimators

Reanimators
Night Shade Books, September 3, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages
(the eBook was published on June 4, 2013)

Interview with Peter Rawlik, author of Reanimators - August 7, 2013
Herbert West’s crimes against nature are well-known to those familiar with the darkest secrets of science and resurrection. Obsessed with finding a cure for mankind’s oldest malady, death itself, he has experimented upon the living and dead, leaving behind a trail of monsters, mayhem, and madness. But the story of his greatest rival has never been told — until now.

Dr. Stuart Hartwell, a colleague and contemporary of West, sets out to destroy him by uncovering the secrets of his terrible experiments, only to become what he initially despised: a reanimator of the dead.

For more than twenty years, the two scientists race each other to master the mysteries of life . . . and unlife. From the grisly battlefields of the Great War to the haunted coasts of Dunwich and Innsmouth, from the halls of fabled Miskatonic University to the sinking of the Titanic, their unholy quests leave their mark upon the world — and create monsters of them both.





About Peter

Peter Rawlik was first exposed to H.P. Lovecraft when his father read him “The Rats in the Walls” as a bedtime story. He has been collecting Lovecraftian fiction ever since. For more than two decades he has run Dead Ink, selling rare and unusual books. He resides in South Florida.

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Look for a Guest Blog by Peter on September 10th.

Interview with Emily Croy Barker, author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - August 4, 2013


Please welcome Emily Croy Barker to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic was published on August 1st by Pamela Dorman Books.



Interview with Emily Croy Barker, author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - August 4, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?



Emily:  I wrote short stories and poems in high school and college, then switched to journalism in college and in my working life. I’ve always enjoyed putting words together and telling stories. Also, when I was a child, both of my parents wrote art reviews for various newspapers, so I did grow up with the sense that good writing was important and was worth taking pains over. I spent about a year when I was in my 20s working on a novel, a murder mystery set in North Carolina, but eventually got bogged down and abandoned the effort. That was a wise decision, given the quality of what I’d produced. As a journalist, I really enjoyed writing features for business magazines like The American Lawyer (my current employer) or Inc., and I thought that would be my chief outlet for writing—but then I met a couple of characters in a daydream who totally captured my imagination. And there I was, writing fiction again.



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



Emily:  I have several, but probably the weirdest one is that while I was writing The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, I tried to avoid reading any novels so that I could focus all my attention (and spare time) on writing. I made an exception for novels in French (The Count of Monte Cristo, A Very Long Engagement), which I read very, very slowly, looking up every other word or so. Having to focus so intensely on individual sentences and to translate them into English in my head was really helpful for me as a writer.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?



Emily:  By “pantser,” you mean “seat of the pantser”? I’m a plotter. I never made an outline for The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, but I had the general shape of the story in my head from the beginning. Of course, the details evolved slightly over the three and a half years I spent writing the first draft.



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



Emily:  Finding the time. I love being about to switch back and forth from my day job as an editor at American Lawyer to my other life as novelist, but it usually means that I can only write on weekends and vacations. Which actually lets you accomplish a lot, as long as you give up housework, movies, etc.



TQ:  Describe A Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic in 140 characters or less.

Emily:  An unhappy grad student enjoys a Cinderella makeover, but is trapped by enchantment. To survive in a harsh alternate reality, she must learn magic herself.



TQ:  What inspired you to write A Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic?



Emily:  The characters Nora and Aruendiel came to me in a daydream and wouldn’t let me alone. Nora intrigued me because she’s a present-day woman who gets seduced by the chance to become an idealized, impossibly glamorous version of herself. In this era, when the pressures on women to look beautiful, thin, and chic are greater than ever, who wouldn’t fall into a trap like that? Aruendiel got my attention because in my mind’s eye I saw him trying to help Nora, to warn her about being enchanted, and I wondered why he’d bother. I could tell that, one, he was a magician, and two, he had a lot of secrets, so I wanted to start unraveling them.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for A Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic?



Emily:  I didn’t do much formal research, but I spent a fair amount of time thinking about what kind of world Aruendiel lives in. Physical details: climate, geology, flora and fauna. Cultural and political details: What sort of society would you get if you had magic instead of technology? I read up a bit on the post-Ice Age era in our world (After the Ice Age, E.C. Pielou; After the Ice, Steven Mithen), since in the alternate world it has only been a couple of thousand years since the ice sheets melted. To help me get the slightly archaic flavor of Aruendiel’s speech right, I dipped periodically into an abridged version of Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language. I would also visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, looking at medieval swords and helmets or Bronze Age Chinese vessels or Middle Eastern ceramics, trying to imagine what artifacts from Aruendiel’s world might look like.



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



Emily:  Nora was the easiest to write because I could tap right into her modern-day mindset. Her reactions, as she experiences this strange, regressive, magical world, are very similar to what I and perhaps many readers would be feeling in the same situation: incredulity, alienation, fear, amusement, wonder.

I always had a good, strong sense of what Aruendiel was thinking and doing, but he was difficult to write at times because he keeps so much hidden, including a lot of his emotions. How much to tell, how much to give away? For someone who can be very impulsive and impatient, he’s also very controlled.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in A Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic?



Emily:  That’s a hard one. There are so many scenes that I LOVED writing and that still move me—even after rereading the book 15 times during editing and revising process. But I think my favorite is the scene on New Year’s Day when Aruendiel lets the mask slip a little and Nora sees deeper into his heart than she has before. That’s a pivotal scene: How she reacts at that instant sets the arc of the rest of the novel.



TQ:  What's next?

Emily:  Some readers have asked me if there will be a sequel. Yes, and I’ve written about half of it. Nora has more to learn about magic, what it can and can’t do. She has some things she’d like to say to Aruendiel, who for his part hasn’t yet told her the secrets of how he learned real magic. Ilissa and Raclin are still out there, and so is the Kavareen. I think there are a lot of adventures ahead for Nora and Aruendiel, which suits me—I’m thrilled to spend more time with these characters.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.







The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic
Pamela Dorman Books, August 1, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 576 pages

Interview with Emily Croy Barker, author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - August 4, 2013
An imaginative story of a woman caught in an alternate world—where she will need to learn the skills of magic to survive

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman. During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty. Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

For lovers of Lev Grossman's The Magicians series (The Magicians and The Magician King) and Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night).





About Emily
From the Author's Website

Interview with Emily Croy Barker, author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - August 4, 2013

A graduate of Harvard University, Emily Croy Barker has been a magazine journalist for more than 20 years. She is currently executive editor at The American Lawyer magazine. This is her first novel.



Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @EmilyCroyBarker

Interview with Michael J. Martinez, author of The Daedalus Incident - July 14, 2013


Please welcome Michael J. Martinez to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Daedalus Incident will be published in August 2013 by Night Shade Books.



Interview with Michael J. Martinez, author of The Daedalus Incident - July 14, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Mike:  Thanks for having me! And thanks for everything you do to help promote the works of debut authors. It’s never easy being the new kid on the block. Your work helps us a lot!



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Mike:  I started as a reporter, actually, and I’ve been a professional journalist and writer for about two decades now. The fiction was always kind of an idea I had in the back of my brain, but for years, I never seriously entertained the notion of writing a novel until I was already a few thousand words in and thought, “Hey, this isn’t that hard.”



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

Mike:  I write in intensive bursts, which seems to surprise most folks. I can sit down and, if I’m not overly distracted, I can pound out 1,500-2,000 words over the course of 2-3 hours. Then I’ll just go and do something else. Maybe I’ll come back to it later in the day if there’s time, maybe it’ll take a few days before I’m able to return to it. But when I’m there, I’m focused on it pretty squarely – so much so that my wife and daughter have to clamor a bit for my attention. I do feel bad about that.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mike:  Plotter, all the way. I kind of admire pantsers, but man, there’s just no way I could do it. I plot using Excel, and I break up the book into those 1,500-2,000-word chunks I mentioned. As a journalist, I’m used to writing that length in a short amount of time. I suppose that’s my trick, really: My novels consist of 50-75 article-length chunks. It’s not like the book is split into short episodes, but I know within each chunk what I need to accomplish in terms of plot, character arc, etc.

I tried “pantsing” once, and found that the lack of structure was driving me batty. I knew I’d just end up organizing and outlining everything afterward, so why do extra work?



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

Mike:  You know, I learned a lot writing The Daedalus Incident. I really hadn’t attempted much in the way of fiction before, certainly nothing as involved as a novel. So the learning curve was pretty steep, especially during the revision process. Seeing as I actually got published, I would say it was all pretty successful in the end. Now, it’s more about finding the time to work on the next thing amid all the hoopla of the first one coming out, and the serial story I have going on my blog.



TQ:  Describe The Daedalus Incident in 140 characters or less.

Mike:  Martian mining colony in 2132 threatened by dimensional incursion from alt-hist 1779, where sailing ships ply the Void via alchemy. Adventure ensues.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Daedalus Incident?

Mike:  About 10 years ago, I was unemployed and, while looking for work, I wanted some kind of writing or creative outlet. One day, I walked by a video store window with a poster of Treasure Planet. I was immediately taken with the idea, but when I watched the actual movie…meh, to say the least. And I was inspired to do better. Something with grit, more realism, but still with swashbuckling adventure and a world to build out. It actually started as a pen-and-paper RPG idea. Heck, I might still do that some day.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Daedalus Incident?

Mike:  Well, there was a very realistic 22nd century mining colony I had to contend with, so I did a ton of research on Mars, and the ideas and science behind colonization and exploitation of that planet. I did a lot of reading on what futurists think will be around 100 years or so. Then, of course, there’s the whole sailing-ships-in-space thing, so there was a lot of research on sailing during the late 18th century, particularly in the Royal Navy. I even went to San Diego to walk the decks of HMS Surprise, the frigate used in the Master and Commander movie. That alone helped me correct half a dozen mistakes.



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

Mike:  The easiest character was one of my two protagonists, Lt. Thomas Weatherby of HMS Daedalus. I very much wanted my main character in the 1779 setting to pay homage to the heroes of Napoleonic Era naval literature – Hornblower, Aubrey, etc. So Weatherby is very much a hero in that vein, one who understands the duty before him all too well, but goes and does it anyway, knowing the risks. He’s a very simple hero, which I really enjoyed writing. I’m kind of over anti-heroes and revenge seekers and such.

The hardest was the other main protagonist, Lt. Shaila Jain of the Joint Space Command, the deputy commander of the Martian mining colony in 2132. I wanted someone who was an astronaut, someone who dreamed of real exploration, but ended up babysitting a bunch of miners at the ass-end of Mars. The trick with her was in not making her bitterness overwhelming or, worse, stereotypical. I wanted her to have complexity without falling into any number of tropes. Honestly, I’ve no idea I was successful, but I gave it a shot.



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

Mike:  Since we kind of gave up a big reveal in the marketing copy, I suppose I can mention it here, because it’s a definite favorite. Shaila and her colleagues find an old 18th century journal on Mars, of all places. It’s an extremely improbable event, though at least marginally explicable – “OK, who brought the antique to Mars? Fess up!” After a bit, they kind of forget about it as seismic activity and rioting miners take up more of their time.

Then, finally, at a very key moment, they catch words spontaneously writing themselves within the journal, describing this impossible other dimension. And there’s just no explanation for it, and they all become very quiet, almost reverential, because they’re struggling to just wrap their heads around the fact that these written words are appearing out of nowhere.

Odd things happen in SF/F all the time, and the strange becomes almost commonplace. Too many works have their characters taking crazy stuff in stride. I like this scene because it gives, I think, a very human reaction to something that is completely unprecedented.



TQ:  What's next?

Mike:  Well, right now I’m serializing a story up on my website (http://www.michaeljmartinez.net) that’s set in the Daedalus universe, about a very young Horatio Nelson and his first command…on Ganymede. It was fun to write, and I think gives a nice introduction to the setting folks will see in The Daedalus Incident. I’m also working on something else…that I can’t quite comment on yet. I’m hoping I have something to share soon, though!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mike:  Well, again, thanks for having me on!






About The Daedalus Incident

The Daedalus Incident
Night Shade Books, August 13, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
(the eBook was published in May 2013)

Interview with Michael J. Martinez, author of The Daedalus Incident - July 14, 2013
Mars is supposed to be dead…...a fact Lt. Shaila Jain of the Joint Space Command is beginning to doubt in a bad way.

Freak quakes are rumbling over the long-dormant tectonic plates of the planet, disrupting its trillion-dollar mining operations and driving scientists past the edges of theory and reason. However, when rocks shake off their ancient dust and begin to roll—seemingly of their own volition—carving canals as they converge to form a towering structure amid the ruddy terrain, Lt. Jain and her JSC team realize that their realize that their routine geological survey of a Martian cave system is anything but. The only clues they have stem from the emissions of a mysterious blue radiation, and a 300-year-old journal that is writing itself.

Lt. Thomas Weatherby of His Majesty’s Royal Navy is an honest 18th-century man of modest beginnings, doing his part for King and Country aboard the HMS Daedalus, a frigate sailing the high seas between continents…and the immense Void between the Known Worlds. Across the Solar System and among its colonies—rife with plunder and alien slave trade—through dire battles fraught with strange alchemy, nothing much can shake his resolve. But events are transpiring to change all that.

With the aid of his fierce captain, a drug-addled alchemist, and a servant girl with a remarkable past, Weatherby must track a great and powerful mystic, who has embarked upon a sinister quest to upset the balance of the planets—the consequences of which may reach far beyond the Solar System, threatening the very fabric of space itself.

Set sail among the stars with this uncanny tale, where adventure awaits, and dimensions collide!






About Mike

Interview with Michael J. Martinez, author of The Daedalus Incident - July 14, 2013
Photo by Anna Martinez
I’m a husband, father and writer living the dream in the Garden State. I’ve spent nearly 20 years as a professional writer and journalist, including stints at The Associated Press and ABCNEWS.com. After telling other people’s stories for the bulk of my career, I’m happy that I can now be telling a few of my own creation. I’m also a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

When not being a husband, parent or writer, I enjoy beer and homebrewing, cooking and eating, the outdoors and travel. If you’re curious about our travels, my wife does a far better job of describing our adventures, so check out her blog at katrinawoznicki.com.




Website  ~  Twitter @mikemartinez72  ~  Goodreads


Interview with Jason Sheehan, author of A Private Little War - July 9, 2013


Please welcome Jason Sheehan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Private Little War, Jason's fiction debut, was published on June 11 by 47North.



Interview with Jason Sheehan, author of A Private Little War - July 9, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Jason:  Glad to be here. Let’s dance.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Jason:  Doing it for kicks started young. Maybe 10 or 12. What got me started was dull afternoons at the bowling alley and my early ineptitude at videogames.

I can distinctly recall school breaks when my mom would drag me along with her to her bowling league. She’d let me loose in the alley and give me, like, a buck in quarters, which would immediately go into the first arcade game I could find. 15 minutes later, I’d be broke and looking at the clock and wondering what the hell I was supposed to do with the next three hours. My first masterpieces were written on bar napkins with those tiny score-keeping pencils. Later I learned to bring my own pens and paper. But I like to think that if things had gone just a little bit differently, I’d be a pro bowler right now—with one of those bowling gloves, a magnificent beer gut and a shelf full of third-place trophies.

Getting started as a pro was a somewhat different story. But let’s just say that, when I started, I was right back to writing on bar napkins again.



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

Jason:  That I have rarely produced anything fit for human consumption while the sun was up? That’s not really a quirk, though…

Oh, how ‘bout this? Every single thing I’ve ever written that was longer than a newspaper article has its own soundtrack—a bunch of songs that I listened to over and over again during the writing just to keep the tempo and the rhythm of the language right—and that I often assemble the soundtrack before I write a single word.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Jason:  Used to be a wicked pantser. Thought plotting was for those that didn’t trust in their own ability to handle weirdness and the unexpected.

To a certain extent, I’m still the same way, but since I’ve had to start doing things like writing pitches and assembling outlines for publishers and editors, I have begun to find some comfort in knowing that somewhere a document exists which details an endpoint and shows a way to get there.

Not the only way to get there, mind you, but one way. When you know where you’re going, a map is just a distraction. But when hopelessly lost, they can be handy for getting back on track.



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

Jason:  Finding that endpoint mentioned above. My characters are stubborn sons of bitches who fight like soap opera starlets to stay in the script, often refuse to die when instructed and just never shut up.



TQ:  Describe A Private Little War in 140 characters or less.

Jason:  There was a time when the biplane was man’s most perfect killing machine. For the natives of the planet Iaxo, that time is today.



TQ:  What inspired you to write A Private Little War?

Jason:  An old magazine or newspaper article, vaguely remembered, that I just couldn’t let go.

See, back when I was a younger man, I had some idea that maybe, someday, I would be a writer. In anticipation of this, I made every attempt at comporting myself like one. I smoked and drank, stayed up late, read The Great Gatsby a hundred times and made poor life choices. But I’d also do things like find interesting articles in newspapers and magazines that inspired me for some reason, cut them out and stick them in a folder for later perusal. A lot of these had to do with spaceships, lasers and girls. One of them had to do with biplanes.

The way I remember it, it was a piece about the aftermath of the Gulf War. The first one, back in 1991. And how, after having his air force and infrastructure destroyed by the American military, Saddam Hussein went looking for biplanes and biplane pilots for his fight with the Kurds. Why? Because a biplane didn’t need a runway. It didn’t need air control. And when you’re basically just dropping poison gas on people riding horses and fighting with bolt-action rifles, the situation doesn’t really require a MIG. It was a question of least application of force, and for some reason, I found that fascinating—so much so that the idea of it hung with me for 20 years.

So flash forward. My agent, East Coast Dave, and I are talking about stuff. We’re trying to think of a project to fill an unexpected gap in my schedule and I mention this story to him. I tell him that I think it could make a pretty cool science fiction story—which is a pretty serious departure because, to this point, I was known only as a food writer.

But Dave is a good guy (and more than a little crazy) so he says, “Sure, give it a try.” We figure that if I can finish the thing, he’ll try to sell it. Maybe we’ll both make a little beer money in the process.

So I dive in. 500-some pages later, I resurface with something entirely unlike what I’d intended to write. A story about biplanes and least application of force, sure, but also about aliens and sex and death and spaceships and abandonment and toast. We tinker with it, we sell it, and here we are.

The funny thing? Come to find, I don’t think the story I was remembering was actually correct. I think the article in question—the one about Iraq and the kurds and the biplanes—was about modern times at all. Because in 1940-something, during the Anglo-Iraqi war, a bunch of old Gloster Gladiators were used in combat by both sides. And in 1949, the Iraqi air force used them in attacks against the Kurds. I only found this out much later, and have never been able to find another reference anywhere to biplanes being used in the 1990’s.

Still, that’s where A Private Little War came from. Poor memory, forgetfulness, mistaken transmission of information, the usual.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for A Private Little War?

Jason:  I’m a journalist by trade, so I did lots. And was still making edits regarding the technical details of the planes right up until the final draft.



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

Jason:  Fenn, the main character’s best friend, was the easiest. He just bled right on the page. He was as real to me as anyone I’ve ever known. And the toughest was probably Vic, the chief mechanic and main female character. I’ll attribute that difficulty to being nearly 40 and still not knowing hardly anything about girls—as my wife will readily attest to. I also don’t know a hell of a lot about mechanics, but that was less problematic.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in A Private Little War?

Jason:  As a writer, I love the first chapter. I didn’t write it first—I actually came up with it while pretty far along in the editing process—but I think that only made it better. It sets a tone better than anything I have ever written before.

As a reader and appreciator of the absurd, though, there’s this little throwaway scene about a third of the way through the book where the pilots’ commanding officer, Ted Prinzi, is walking back to his tent and he steps on a slug. He gets so pissed at the slug—because it’s winter and the ground is frozen and they’re on a planet a hundred light years from Earth so the slug plainly has no business being where it is—that he just loses it. It’s actually the scene where Ted starts going insane and the scene on which the emotional tone of the story hinges. Where everything starts to go wrong.

And it’s all about a slug.



TQ:  What's next?

Jason:  I’d love to say something like “a long vacation” or “a 30-city book tour on my publisher’s dime,” but the truth? Another project, which will actually be launching frighteningly soon as an Amazon serial. It’s called “Tales From The Radiation Age” and is just a hardcore geek fever dream of giant robots and dinosaurs and spies and ray guns and bad language and a blimp fight. It’ll be launching in July as a bi-weekly serial and everyone reading this should pony up and buy the sucker the minute it comes out because it’s cheap and weird and awesome.

And did I mention it has a blimp fight? Who doesn’t love a good blimp fight?



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jason:  Thanks for the opportunity. Been a pleasure.






About A Private Little War

A Private Little War
47North, June 11, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 374 pages

Interview with Jason Sheehan, author of A Private Little War - July 9, 2013
He felt something in his belly twist up like cold fingers curling into a fist. This is it, he’d thought. This is when it all goes bad…

Private “security” firm Flyboy, Inc., landed on the alien planet of Iaxo with a mission: In one year, they must quash an insurrection; exploit the ancient enmities of an indigenous, tribal society; and kill the hell out of one group of natives to facilitate negotiations with the surviving group—all over 110 million acres of mixed terrain.

At first, the double-hush, back-burner project seemed to be going well. With all the advantages they had going for them—a ten-century technological lead on the locals, the logistical support of a shadowy and powerful private military company, and aid from similar outfits already on the ground—a quick combat victory seemed reasonable. An easy-in, easy-out mission that would make them very, very rich.

But the ancient tribal natives of Iaxo refuse to roll over and give up their planet. What was once a strategic coup has become a quagmire of cost over-runs and blown deadlines, leaving the pilots of Flyboy, Inc., on an embattled distant planet, waiting for support and a ride home that may never come….

The debut novel from acclaimed, James Beard Award–winning food critic Jason Sheehan, A Private Little War is the dark tale of a deadly war being waged in secrecy—and the struggle to stay sane in a world that makes no sense. A Catch-22 for a new generation, A Private Little War is sure to become a science fiction classic.





About Jason

Interview with Jason Sheehan, author of A Private Little War - July 9, 2013
Jason Sheehan is a former dishwasher, fry cook, saucier, chef, restaurant critic, food editor, reporter, and porn store employee. He was born and raised in Rochester, New York, and though he has since fled the Rust Belt repeatedly, he still harbors an intense fondness for brutal winters, Friday fish fries, Irish bars, and urban decay. As a young nerd, he fell hard for Star Wars, Doctor Who, William Gibson, Roger Zelazny, and the spaceship-and-raygun novels his father would leave on his bedside table. He dreamed of someday befriending a robot, stealing a spaceship, and wandering off across the stars in search of alien ladies and high adventure. Since that hasn’t happened (yet…), he now writes about it instead—which is almost as good. And yet despite all this, his mother still kinda thinks he should’ve been an orthodontist. He is a James Beard award-winning journalist and the current food editor for Philadelphia Magazine. A Private Little War is his debut novel.


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Interview with Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - July 8, 2013


Please welcome Stephen P. Kiernan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Curiosity, Stephen's fiction debut, will be published on July 9th.




Interview with Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - July 8, 2013





TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Stephen:  I am delighted to join this active community of readers.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Stephen:  I have always been a storyteller, from my earliest days. I grew up in a large family, and was on the younger end, so I did not receive tons of parental attention. My maternal grandmother somehow knew this, and when she visited she would lavish affection on me. She would pull me onto her lap, saying, "Now Stephen, tell me all about yourself."

Perhaps it was an unconscious influence, but she was a published author herself, and I like to think she inspired me. What I know for certain is that she indulged my desire to tell stories, and it was a sweet and respectful kind of love. She died what I was ten, but I still remember the feel of her chin against the top of my head while I curled into her lap.

I began writing professionally in 1988, while I was a student at the Iowa Writers Workshop. I wrote arts articles and editorials for the local newspaper, The Daily Iowan, and a few pieces on rock and roll for Spin. That was when I became addicted to being in print, a malady that afflicts me to this day. I've published nearly four million words so far, and rather than being tired or depleted, I feel the writing compulsion more strongly than ever.



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

Stephen:  Revision. I write very fast first drafts. I call it "being in the fever." But only when I have a completed story do I know what I was actually trying to do, and what my subconscious was up to while I was busy typing. Then I revise and revise and revise. Even when it requires me to cut precious material I savor that process with excitement about what may emerge.

For this novel, I wrote the first draft in 40 weeks with no days off. The revision time took about 60 weeks, with breaks along the way. I cut more than 60,000 words, and added about 35,000. So the finished work bears only a vague resemblance to the original.

Friends who I entrust with reading early drafts are sometimes dismayed to see a character removed, or a whole scene cut. Sometimes it's difficult for me, too, so I save the cut material in a separate file, just in case I want to put some of it back in at a later time. So far I have never done that, never brought back a cut section, but somehow it works. Somehow I manage to trick myself.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Stephen:  Both. I start out with a general outline, four or five important scenes or plot points, a list of characters and an extremely specific ending. The problem is the characters; they never care much about my plans. They have desires and motives that compel the story in new and unexpected directions. Any time I resist, I end up with lifeless material that lands in that file of removed material. I wish I could say that I learn my lesson, but it always seems to go this way.

Only when I've finished the book can I go back, yank out the junk in which I was pushing the characters around, and let the true story emerge.

The people who live in my books always know the story better than I do.



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

Stephen:  One small thing, one big thing.

The small thing is, of course, finding sufficient uninterrupted time in which to work. I know of no writer for whom this is not something of a challenge. When I am knee-deep in a first draft, I have a notebook with me at all times and still I end up jotting ideas on my skin. I rush from exercising back to my desk with urgent ideas so frequently, the finish on the wood is worn off from my sweat.

The big thing is the limitation of my talent. It is not humility, but honesty, that causes me to know that I have a small gift. When I was at Iowa, I befriended people of huge talent, whose facility with language and capacity to create compelling scenarios made my stories seem trivial and small. My challenge, therefore, is to revise and rewrite and rework, and know that making something worthwhile will take me more effort and more obsession than it would someone with greater talent.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Curiosity?

Stephen:  In 2010 I was touring nationally for my nonfiction book Authentic Patriotism, which was about how to mend America's political and cultural divisions through volunteerism and civic engagement. In those travels I saw trends and attitudes that troubled me, and since the nonfiction approach had not worked, I thought I would try telling a story.

The original idea for this novel had been rattling around in my head for 18 years, but it was missing something. On vacation with two close friends -- the novelist Chris Bohjalian and the playwright Dana Yeaton -- I told them about my idea and how I felt I could not begin until I'd found the missing part.

"Put a beautiful woman in it," Chris suggested.

"And make her smarter than all the other scientists," Dana added.

Well. By vacation's end I had a rough outline. About 250 days later I had a draft.

In revision I discovered that the novel I'd written was not the political and cultural thriller I'd imagined. You see, there were these two characters -- one man, and that smart beautiful woman -- and I could not turn my back on them for one second. I'd take one paragraph to be all clever and political, and when I came back they'd be mooning at one another or flirting or getting busy.

I had to admit that it was a love story, with a cultural thriller background, yes, but a love story nonetheless. So I rewrote it to let the true tale emerge.



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

Stephen:  Fiction of this kind requires extensive learning and study.

First I interviewed high level researchers and research policy people, to learn about the politics and atmosphere of serious science. That was where I learned phrases like "Swede fever," which apparently indicates a person who aspires excessively to win a Nobel Prize. To a writer, finding subculture-specific language like that is better than candy.

I also read a variety of papers and articles about the state of cell research. Scientists today are doing things routinely that I could not imagine were possible.

I spent days and nights drifting through Lynn, Massachusetts, and relied on the helpful people at the local historical society. I covered every inch of that city's cemetery.

All kinds of small moments in the book required homework, too. Thus I studied Arctic weather, early baseball (especially the first years of the Boston Red Sox), the order of streets in Back Bay, what the entrances are like at the Boston cathedral and Massachusetts General Hospital, even which direction jets typically fly over the city if they're landing at Logan Airport in a snowstorm.

You might think these details would take the imagination out of a story, but actually the opposite is true. The muse is never harmed by a trip to the library.

Finally I reviewed newspaper coverage of groups like Operation Rescue and the Westboro Baptist Church, since these organizations provided the rough outline for T.J. Wade and his red-shirted followers.



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

Stephen:  Daniel Dixon came most easily to me. He is a reporter, which I've been for decades. He is a pig about women, which made him fun to indulge in early drafts (his most sexist stuff is in that file of removed material, of course). He had a strong voice, strong opinions, strong appetites, an unapologetic manner that together made him simpler to characterize. He also had props in his hand almost all the time, which made expressing his emotional state easier. Best of all, he had a gift for simile. Once I realized that, I gave him lots of room. And often surprised myself with what came out. Dixon is not a likeable character, but writing him was a kick.

By contrast, Jeremiah Rice was a challenge in almost every sentence. He was born in 1868. How could I give him a voice that reflected his time, without making him seem costumed or inconsequential? He was a judge. How could I characterize his cautious way of thinking? He is enchanted with the modern world, but misses his wife and daughter. How do I portray his ambivalence? Ultimately, he may be dying. How do I express the thoughts of a man who suspects his time is running out?

In the final draft, Jeremiah's sections are as carefully wrought -- in language, pace, tone -- as anything I've ever written.



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

Stephen:  It's hard not to reveal too much. When the divers discover what species of seal is suspended in the iceberg, that's a favorite. When Kate pulls down her surgical mask and introduces herself, that's a close second.

When the girl wants Jeremiah to autograph her bare belly, when Kate and Jeremiah argue over who should eat the last egg, when Gerber puts on the bicycle helmet, when Kate comforts Jeremiah in the cemetery -- these are all favorites. Oh, and the high school students with the microscopes, it's a little moment but I'm fond of it.

In fact, this question has my liking my book all over again.



TQ:  What's next? /this is where you share whatever you'd like to share/

Stephen:  I'm deep in the research of another novel, and just about to begin writing. This is therefore a time of immense excitement and fear.

I'm hopeful, too, that enough people enjoy The Curiosity and spread the word about it that I have the opportunity to travel the country and meet readers. I had that good fortune with my nonfiction books, and it is incredibly gratifying and rewarding to come face to face with people who were kind enough to take the time to read your work and let it come alive in their imagination.

I should add that 20th Century Fox has purchased the option to make a film of this novel. I hope that happens, even though the movie is rarely as good as the book, because I'd like to see how the cinematic form of storytelling brings the characters to life.

Plus I want to see what smart and beautiful woman they cast as Kate.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Stephen:  Thank you for letting people know about The Curiosity and other books.






About The Curiosity

The Curiosity
Publisher:  William Morrow, July 9, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages
Price:  $25.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-0-06-222106-3 (print)

Interview with Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - July 8, 2013
A powerful debut novel in which a man, frozen in the Arctic ice for more than a century, awakens in the present day and finds the greatest discovery is love . . .

The Curiosity

Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. As a scientist in a groundbreaking project run by the egocentric and paranoid Erastus Carthage, Kate has brought small creatures—plankton, krill, shrimp—back to life for short periods of time. But the team's methods have never been attempted on larger life-forms.

Heedless of the potential consequences, Carthage orders that the frozen man be brought back to the lab in Boston and reanimated. The endeavor is named "The Lazarus Project." As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was—is—a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906. When news of the project and Jeremiah Rice breaks, it ignites a media firestorm and protests by religious fundamentalists.

Thrown together by fate, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah's new life is slipping away. With Carthage planning to exploit Jeremiah while he can, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.

A gripping, poignant, and thoroughly original thriller, Stephen P. Kiernan's provocative debut novel raises disturbing questions about the very nature of life and humanity—man as a scientific subject, as a tabloid novelty, as a living being: a curiosity.






About Stephen

Interview with Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - July 8, 2013
Author of the new novel THE CURIOSITY, Stephen Kiernan was born in Newtonville, NY the sixth of seven children. A graduate of Middlebury College, he received a Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Over two-plus decades as a journalist he has won 40-plus awards, including the Brechner Institute’s Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism (two time commentary finalist) and the George Polk Award.

THE CURIOSITY won an Indie Next award for July, 2013, and has been named a top summer read by the Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping and Philadelphia Magazine.

Stephen taught at Middlebury College and the New England Young Writers Conference, and worked on the staff of the Breadloaf School of English and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. He chairs the board of the Young Writers Project, and sat on the advisory committee of the New Hampshire Palliative Care Initiative and the Vermont Legislature's Pain and Palliative Care Study Committee.

As a result of his 2007 book LAST RIGHTS, Stephen travels the country speaking to a wide variety of audiences about health care, hospice and palliative care, and advance directives. Following his 2010 book AUTHENTIC PATRIOTISM, he also speaks on civic engagement, service learning, volunteerism and philanthropy.

Stephen has also performed on the guitar since he was ten years old. In addition to recording 3 CDs of solo instrumentals, he has composed music for dance, the stage, documentaries and TV specials.

He lives in Vermont with his two amazing sons.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads  ~  Twitter


Interview with Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - July 8, 2013


Interview with Anthony Ryan, author of Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) - July 2, 2013


Please welcome Anthony Ryan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) is published today in the US by Ace.  Happy Publication Day to Anthony!




Interview with Anthony Ryan, author of Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) - July 2, 2013





TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Anthony:  Thank you, happy to be here.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Anthony:  I can't really remember a time when I wasn't writing something. Writing assignments were always the one thing I scored well in at school and as I got older and I read more, writing for a living became something of an ambition. I didn't really start writing in earnest until my twenties though, whereupon I embarked upon the time honoured pursuit of collecting rejection slips.



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

Anthony:  Probably my tendency to get totally immersed when writing. It doesn't happen all the time, but there are days when I'll sit down to start writing in the morning and won't surface until late evening having no sensation of time having passed in the interval. It's why, unlike a lot of writers, I don't listen to music when writing because I just don't hear it.

Also, before starting a new book, I go to the crossroads on the moors at midnight and sacrifice a cat to the dark gods... Just kidding. It's two cats. The dark gods wouldn't be satisfied with just one.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Anthony:  I started out as a pantser but have gradually developed into a plotter. Blood Song was the first book I wrote where I sat down and laid out a plot summary. It was only one page long and I didn't look at it again for the duration of writing the book, but I wanted the security of having an ending before I started. For the second book, Tower Lord, I wrote a much more extensive chapter by chapter outline which was certainly a great help in finishing the book in less than a year. The plan for the third book, currently titled Queen of Fire, is even more extensive. That being said, I will often deviate wildly from the plan when writing the first draft as better ideas inevitably occur to me. For shorter works, like my Slab City Blues novellas, the outline usually consists of a couple of paragraphs and I'm even more likely to deviate from it during writing.



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

Anthony:  Probably the trepidation before starting the next book. Once I start I'm fine but the run-up period can be somewhat nerve-inducing. Like a runner before the starting gun I guess, although it's been a while since I ran anywhere.



TQ:  Describe Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) in 140 characters or less.

Anthony:  It’s a little over the tweet limit but I can't do better than the following lines of dialogue from Master Sollis, which sums up the book without revealing any spoilers:

“We have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.”



TQ:  What inspired you to write Blood Song?

Anthony:  It's always difficult to pin down the exact genesis of an idea, especially one I started writing over nine years ago now. I do recall having a yen to write a fantasy novel and conceived a character who was part of a secretive warrior brotherhood of some kind. It didn't really start to gel until I introduced the concept of it being a militant religious order. Themes of religious conflict and political intrigue were also at the forefront of my mind, like many of us in the post-9/11 era.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Blood Song?

Anthony:  I've always been a history buff and was actually studying part-time for a history degree when writing Blood Song, which definitely helped when it came to formulating a believable world complete with its own power structure and system of government. Specific research involved reading books on medieval warfare, mainly to add some credibility to the military aspects of the book: archery is a very difficult skill to master; horses need to be fed; large armies are unlikely to cover more than twenty miles a day on the march - that kind of thing.



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

Anthony:  Vaelin is the main character and the only point-of-view for the majority of the book, so I supposed I'd have to say he was the easiest because I got to know him the best. However, I probably had the most fun writing King Janus, the dreadful old schemer.



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

Anthony:  I think Vaelin's interactions with King Janus and Princess Lyrna work really well. I also enjoyed the camaraderie between Vaelin and his brothers in the Order; their trials and tribulations during the first third of the book give it a narrative drive which, hopefully, carries through to the end.



TQ:  What's next?

AnthonyTower Lord has been delivered and is now with my editor. In answer to the daily question received via my blog, I don't know when it'll come out but summer 2014 is probably the best bet. I'm currently writing Book 3 after which I'll need to think about something else to write about for the next ten years, although I'm certainly not short of ideas. There'll probably be a final installment in the Slab City Blues series in due course, I'm currently thinking in terms of a full-length novel but it'll be dependent on other commitments.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Anthony:  It was my pleasure.






About Blood Song

Blood Song
Series:  Raven's Shadow 1
Publisher:   Ace, July 2, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
Price:  $27.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425267691 (print)
(US Debut)

Interview with Anthony Ryan, author of Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) - July 2, 2013
From “a new master storyteller” comes the beginning of an epic fantasy saga of blood, honor, and destiny…

“The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.





About Anthony

Interview with Anthony Ryan, author of Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1) - July 2, 2013


Anthony Ryan was born in Scotland in 1970 but spent much of his adult life living and working in London. After a long career in the British Civil Service he took up writing full time after the success of his first novel Blood Song, Book One of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. He has a degree in history, and his interests include art, science and the unending quest for the perfect pint of real ale.




Website  ~  Twitter @writer_anthony
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