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Interview with Ian Doescher, author of William Shakespeare's Star Wars® - June 28, 2013


Please welcome Ian Doescher to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. William Shakespeare's Star Wars® will be published on July 2, 2013 by Quirk Books.



Interview with Ian Doescher, author of  William Shakespeare's Star Wars® - June 28, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Ian:  Thank you so much.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Ian:  When I was in college, I was in a class with my roommate Ethan and our English professor compared my writing unfavorably with Ethan's -- I think the phrase was, "You're not exactly the writer Ethan is." Ouch. So, after college, I got serious about writing both by reading obsessively and by learning what makes good writing good from Larry Rothe, the Publications Director at the San Francisco Symphony (where I worked from 1999-2001). I've been writing casually and professionally ever since, most recently as the Creative Director and primary copywriter for Pivot Group, the marketing agency I work at in Portland. But I've also written a dissertation and worked as a pastor, so I figured if I ever wrote a book it would be an academic book. Imagine my surprise...



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

Ian:  Undoubtedly it's that I'm the weirdo who likes writing in iambic pentameter. Also, I'm a compulsive saver -- I'll work on a manuscript for a while and then email both the file and just the text to myself (the poor man's version of cloud computing). I'm a little neurotic about it. But I've also never lost a manuscript (fingers crossed).



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

Ian:  At this point in my life, because I work a full-time job and am the parent of two boys, the most challenging thing is finding the time to write. I wrote William Shakespeare's Star Wars® in two- and three-hour chunks late in the evening, while my kids were asleep and my wife was immersed in a British murder mystery series.



TQ:  What is iambic pentameter?

Ian:  Iambic pentameter is a line of poetry with a very specific syllabic pattern. An “iamb” has two syllables—the first is unstressed and the second is stressed. An iamb sounds like da-DUM. "Pentameter" means there should be five iambs in a line, so iambic pentameter is a line of ten syllables: da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM. Simon and Garfunkel have a great line of iambic pentameter in one of their songs: "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail." Shakespeare used iambic pentameter as the meter for his plays, to the chagrin of high school students everywhere. But he also broke the ten-syllable rule as often as he kept it.



TQ:  What inspired you to write William Shakespeare's Star Wars®?

Ian:  Last year, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, watched the Star Wars trilogy for the millionth time and attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my family. At the Festival, my wife and I saw the funny, gay-marriage-themed, modern adaptation The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa by Alison Carey. So I had mashups, Star Wars, and Shakespeare on my mind, and the morning after seeing The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa I had the idea for William Shakespeare’s Star Wars®.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for William Shakespeare's Star Wars®?

Ian:  Most of the research for the book took place long before I knew I would write it. I read through all of Shakespeare's plays and poems in 1999 and grew up watching Star Wars, so I know it backward and forward. That was my primary research. As I wrote the manuscript, I also got to talk with Lucasfilm about some of the particulars of what is and is not okay within the Star Wars universe. For example, I had written a soliloquy for Darth Vader in which he questions whether the Empire should be killing innocent people. Lucasfilm asked me to cut it, because as of A New Hope Vader has no remorse, period. That was a fascinating process for me as both a writer and a Star Wars fan. I also got a sheet with the official transliterated speech of the Jawas, Greedo and Jabba the Hutt. Fun stuff.



TQ:  Which was the most difficult scene to write?

Ian:  It wasn't difficult scenes so much as difficult lines. I felt a lot of pressure around how I would handle certain famous lines. The one that dogged me the most was Luke's line, "But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!" My original attempt at it was "But Tosche Station wish I to go to, / And there obtain some pow'r converters. Fie!" The first line was just so awkward. I hated it, but couldn't seem to come up with another way to say it. It wasn't until the second proof of the book -- just before it went to press, in other words -- that inspiration hit: "But unto Tosche Station would I go, / And there obtain some pow'r converters. Fie!" Much better.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in William Shakespeare's Star Wars®?

Ian:  My favorite scene in the book is the only truly new scene, which is a dialogue between the two stormtroopers who keep watch outside the Millennium Falcon once it has been taken into the Death Star. I had a lot of fun with that dialogue... I won't give away too much, but it makes clear one of the unspoken rules of Star Wars: for the events of the movie to take place as they do, the Empire and its minions have to be just plain stupid at times.



TQ:  What's next?

Ian:  There are several ideas in play right now, and one manuscript in process. I'd love to write other adaptations in verse, maybe more Shakespearean parodies or something in the style of Dr. Seuss. Of course, it would be great fun to write The Empire Striketh Back...



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ian:  Thank you. And may the Force be with thee e'er, TQ!






About William Shakespeare's Star Wars®

William Shakespeare's Star Wars®
Publisher:  Quirk Books, July 2, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 176 pages
Price:  $14.95 (print)
Genre:  MashUp / Science Fiction (print)
ISBN:  9781594746376

Interview with Ian Doescher, author of  William Shakespeare's Star Wars® - June 28, 2013
Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.





About Ian

Interview with Ian Doescher, author of  William Shakespeare's Star Wars® - June 28, 2013
IAN DOESCHER has loved Shakespeare since eighth grade and was born 45 days after Star Wars Episode IV was released. He has a B.A. in Music from Yale University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. Ian lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two sons. This is his first book.

Website  ~  Twitter 




Interview with Jason M. Hough, author of The Dire Earth Cycle - June 24, 2013


Please welcome Jason M. Hough to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1) will be published on July 30, 2013 by Del Rey.  The second and third novels in The Dire Earth Cycle, The Exodus Towers and The Plague Forge, will follow in August and September.



Interview with Jason M. Hough, author of The Dire Earth Cycle - June 24, 2013




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

Jason:  After I left the game industry I'd been looking for a creative outlet, and writing felt like a good choice because success or failure would be almost entirely up to me. That was around 2004, but after only producing eight pages in the next four years, I knew I needed get my rear in gear or just stop pretending. So I tried Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2007, and finally realized the benefits of turning off all editorial instinct and simply writing. I participated again in 2008, and that was where The Darwin Elevator was born. I've written almost every day since.



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

Jason:  To proofread I take a 50 page chunk with me in the car, park at the beach, and read aloud while listening to the waves.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Jason:  A plotter! I tried the pantser lifestyle with my 2007 Nanowrimo effort, and it all fell apart around the halfway mark. In 2008 with The Darwin Elevator I spent the month leading up to November coming up with a solid outline. It really works well for me. I keep my outlines simple now, just three to five words per chapter, so that there's plenty of room for creativity during the writing stage. I think the process really helped me once I was under contract with Del Rey, because there was simply no room in the schedule to ditch a half-done manuscript and start over.



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

Jason:  I'd say my instincts are still a little off when it comes to providing the right amount of emotional response to big events. A lot of the notes my editors gave me went something like, "this is a HUGE moment and he barely flinches. C'mon, more MORE!"



TQ:  Describe The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1) in 140 characters or less. 

Jason:  A ragtag group must unravel the mystery of failing alien space elevator that is the only thing keeping the remnants of the human race alive.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Darwin Elevator?

Jason:  Partly my own desire to see more stuff like "Firefly" in the SF world, and also more accessible novels like the works of John Scalzi. Other authors had certainly gone through that door before John, but for me he's the one who kicked in the door and shouted "LET'S ROCK!" while firing twin machine guns from the hip.



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

Jason:  Lots of research on Darwin, Australia where most of the book is set. It's a place I've never been, and even though the novels are set well into the future, I still felt it important to have a reasonable grasp of the location. I studied space elevators plenty, too, but not enough to where I'd be tempted to bog the book down in the real science of such a thing. The device in the book came from mysterious origins, so I felt it was important that the characters were just as amazed and puzzled by it as readers would be.



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

Jason:  Samantha was the easiest because she's based on a friend of mine (hi Sam!). Blackfield was the hardest because he's such an ass, and also very random -- he lives by the mantra "vary the pattern." He's basically a guy who does the opposite of me in any situation. He was also the most fun to write.



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

Jason:  Hard to do this without spoilers! There's a scene where Neil Platz has to, well, let's say delete something important. It's a chapter I added late in the third draft, and I love how it flows and the extra dimension it adds to the whole story.

There's another scene where Skyler and Sam are sharing stories about a fallen friend. It's short and not really germane to the story, but I've always been proud of it.



TQ:  What's next?

Jason:  As of now I've finished all three books in the trilogy, so I'm working on some short stories that will be used to promote the books and flesh out the backstory a bit. Once those are done I'm planning to dive into a fantasy I've been wanting to write for a while, until I know if the publisher wants more Dire Earth books.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jason:  My pleasure!






The Dire Earth Cycle

The Darwin Elevator
The Dire Earth Cycle 1
Del Rey, July 30, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Interview with Jason M. Hough, author of The Dire Earth Cycle - June 24, 2013
Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi.

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.




The Exodus Towers
The Dire Earth Cycle 2
Del Rey, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Interview with Jason M. Hough, author of The Dire Earth Cycle - June 24, 2013
The Exodus Towers features all the high-octane action and richly imagined characters of The Darwin Elevator—only the stakes have never been higher.




The Plague Forge
The Dire Earth Cycle 3
Del Rey, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Jason M. Hough, author of The Dire Earth Cycle - June 24, 2013
The Plague Forge delivers an unbeatable combination of knockout action and kick-ass characters as the secrets to the ultimate alien mystery from The Darwin Elevator and The Exodus Towers are about to be unraveled.



Check out the 'Books' section of Jason's website to see the UK Covers.





About Jason
(from the author's website)

Interview with Jason M. Hough, author of The Dire Earth Cycle - June 24, 2013
Photo by Nathan
Jason M. Hough (pronounced 'Huff') is a former 3D Artist and Game Designer (Metal FatigueAliens vs. Predator: Extinction, and many others).  Writing fiction became a hobby for him in 2007 and quickly turned into an obsession.  He started writing THE DARWIN ELEVATOR in 2008 as a Nanowrimo project, and kept refining the manuscript until 2011 when it sold to Del Rey along with a contract for two sequels.  The trilogy, collectively called THE DIRE EARTH CYCLE, will be released in the summer of 2013.

He lives in San Diego, California with his wife and two young sons. Currently he works at Qualcomm, Inc. designing software that uses machine learning to make smartphones more efficient and user-friendly.




Website  ~  Twitter @JasonMHough  ~  Facebook  ~  G+  ~  Blog



Interview with Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods - June 18, 2013


Please welcome Matt Bell to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is published today. Happy Publication Day to Matt!



Interview with Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods - June 18, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Matt:  Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.



TQ: When and why did you start writing?

Matt:  I recently read an essay by Rick Moody where he dated when he began to write by when he first began to revise. I like this standard. So let's say I've been writing since I was twenty or so. Thirteen years, almost? I started writing seriously because I wanted to make more books like the books I loved the most.



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

Matt:  I'm not a particularly quirky writer, probably: I write on a schedule, in the same room, every day. A minor thing, that sticks out as I'm getting ready to travel for the summer: I listen obsessively to the same music a lot, and when I travel I've found that listening to that same music in a hotel room or coffee shop can sometimes make a kind of "sound office" to work in: Even though the space is new, the sound is familiar. It's a great help.



TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Matt:  I'm a pantser on first drafts, and then a plotter during revision. The best of both worlds, I think.



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

Matt:  So much about writing is difficult, and happily so. Anything that comes easy isn't to be trusted. Between projects, part of what I always want to do is to give up some of what I know how to do, to make room for new skills, new challenges, new opportunities. It can be hard to force yourself to give up what you know, but it's the surest way to get somewhere new.



TQ: Describe In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods in 140 characters or less.

Matt:  It's a myth about marriage and parenthood, with hunting and trapping and singing, with giant bears and giant squid and ghost children, with new moons and memory mazes.



TQ: What inspired you to write In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods?

Matt:  Like most of what I've written, I started with the voice of the narrator: One reason to keep writing is because I get obsessed with new kinds of sentences, and all I want to do is find a way to get their speaker to continue.



TQ: What sort of research did you do for In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods?

Matt:  One of the most important pieces of research came from an Old Norse document called The King's Mirror, written in the thirteenth century to educate the son of a king. The epigraph for the novel comes from the text—it reads, "It seems likely that there are but two and that these beget no offspring, for I believe it is always the same ones that appear"—and the passage it comes from provided some of the initial underpinnings of certain parts of the book's world, which changed the book more than any other piece of research.



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

Matt:  The hardest character to write was the wife, I think: She's absent for much of the book, so when she appears in scene she has to sizzle. One of the narrator's problems is that he doesn't understand his wife, and because I came to the events of the book through his perspective and voice, I didn't always understand her either. In the end, I came to know her as he does: Through the accumulations of the objects she creates with her songs, which are, in some ways, the truest expressions of her self.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods?

Matt:  One of my favorite parts to write was the labyrinth that comes to exist below the house: It was formally different in a way I enjoyed, and that's also where I really came to know my characters, in the same way that the husband, at last, tries again to get to know his wife.



TQ: What's next?

Matt:  I'm currently working on a new novel, as well as a new collection of stories, both due out in the next couple of years.



TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Matt:  Thank you!




About the Novel

In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
Publisher:  Soho Press, June 18, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 312 pages
Price:  $25.00 (print)
ISBN978-1-61695-253-2 (print)

Interview with Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods - June 18, 2013
In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife's beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.

This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.






About Matt

From the Author's website:

Interview with Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods - June 18, 2013
My debut novel IN THE HOUSE UPON THE DIRT BETWEEN THE LAKE AND THE WOODS will be published by Soho Press in Spring 2013. I am also the author of CATACLYSM BABY, a novella, and HOW THEY WERE FOUND, a collection of fiction, as well as three chapbooks, WOLF PARTS, THE COLLECTORS, and HOW THE BROKEN LEAD THE BLIND. My fiction has appeared in many magazines, including CONJUNCTIONS, HAYDEN'S FERRY REVIEW, GULF COAST, WILLOW SPRINGS, UNSAID, and AMERICAN SHORT FICTION, and has been selected for inclusion in anthologies such as BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES and BEST AMERICAN FANTASY. I teach creative writing at Northern Michigan University, and previously taught at the University of Michigan. I am the senior editor at Dzanc Books, where I also run the literary magazine THE COLLAGIST.

Website  ~  Twitter @mdbell79  ~  Facebook  ~  G+


Interview with Danie Ware, author of Ecko Rising - June 11, 2013



Please welcome Danie Ware to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Ecko Rising is published today in the US by Titan Books.  Happy Publication to Danie!  You may read Danie's Guest Blog - Why I stopped writing, and how I started again: a blog post for anyone who's ever thrown in the towel - here.








TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Danie:  Thank you very much – it’s very good to be here!



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Danie:  I’ve been writing since I was a cub, since I could put my chubby mitt round a pencil. I think if you read enough, imagine enough, the words reach critical mass – and all of the ones you’ve put in have to fine some way of getting out again. Throughout my twenties, I churned out reams and reams of epic fantasy, short stories and an ongoing and colossal novel that was, predictably completely unpublishable. Some of the core concepts are still with me, though, and have gone on to become Ecko Rising.



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

Danie:  Semi-colons. Oh, was that not what you meant? I like writing combat. I've done a dozen years in Dark Age and Mediaeval re-enactment, fought on battlefields throughout the UK, taken on guys twice my size – occasionally even beaten some of them! I’ve fought as a member of a unit, and I’ve commanded other warriors on the field. I remember how it feels and smells. My battering days are probably behind me, but I still get a huge kick out of writing it!



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Danie:  A little of both – I always have an MSExcel, chapter-by-chapter plot, but sometimes the characters just decide they don’t want to got that way right now and then it’s seat of the pants time! Ecko being who and what he is - he’s particularly guilty of this! There are advantages to both methods, though – sometimes too much plotting can leave a narrative blocky and predictable, and sometimes to much pantsing just comes out as pure chaos.



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

Danie:  Simple answer – time. I’m a single parent with an energetic eight year old son (who has a whole agenda of his own), plus I work for London retailer Forbidden Planet, organising their social media and events… sometimes, simply scheduling my days to just fit the writing in, is the hardest thing in the world. I try and do at least something every day, keep the narrative alive and the characters talking to each other. And to me!



TQ:  Describe Ecko Rising in 140 characters or less. 

Danie:  Sardonic fantasy, with a healthy dusting of sex, violence and sarcasm. It's a new take on an old friend!



TQ:  What inspired you to write Ecko Rising?

Danie:  My friends – both old and new. All the fiction I wrote during my twenties was involving my friends and inspired by them, inspired by the re-enactment mentioned above, and by the massive creativity we all shared. Coming back to the craft nearly ten years later, it was a daunting thing to pick up again – and it was the support of the people around me that gave me the confidence to do so.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Ecko Rising?

Danie:  What is this research of which you speak? During our re-enactment years, the living history and authentic kit and combat methods were simply around us all the time – call that research by osmosis, if you like. W really lived it! A lot of Ecko’s kit and technical crafting came from the creative committees of our youth; it was very much a team effort. Research done deliberately and personally adds up to geographical and medical data, a lot about horses, and a LOT about bamboo.



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

Danie:  Ecko himself is both the easiest and the hardest – because I have to be angry, I have to have a particular savage sense of humour and edged wit. Assuming I can get into the zone (cycling’s always good), then the character is the perfect outlet – he’s a cathartic release of all that built-up rage. If I’m not angry, I usually write someone else for a bit!



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

Danie:  It’s very hard to choose! I think my favourite scenes are the early ones, where Ecko raids Grey’s base, and then when he first wakes up in the Wanderer. Going though eyes and brain, what he saw and how he made sense of it all (or doesn’t) was a fantastic, downhill rush of aggression and bafflement and humour. I also have a lot of fun writing Redlock and Triqueta – they’re my downtime, if you like!



TQ:  What's next?

Danie:  Ecko Burning, the sequel to this one, is out in the UK in October, and I’m halfway through the first draft of the third of the series. After that, we shall see!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Danie:  Thank you for having me!






About Ecko Rising

Ecko Rising
Ecko 1
Titan, Books June 11, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
US Debut

In a futuristic London where technological body modification is the norm, Ecko stands alone as a testament to the extreme capabilities of his society. Driven half mad by the systems running his body, Ecko is a criminal for hire. No job is too dangerous or insane.

When a mission goes wrong and Ecko finds himself catapulted across dimensions into a peaceful and unadvanced society living in fear of 'magic', he must confront his own percepions of reality and his place within it.

A thrilling debut, Ecko Rising explores the massive range of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and the possible implications of pitting them against one another. Author Danie Ware creates an immersive and richly imagined world that readers will be eager to explore in the first book in this exciting new trilogy.






This is the UK cover for Ecko Burning:







About Danie

Ware is the publicist and event organiser for cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet. She has worked closely with a wide-range of genre authors and has been immersed in the science-fiction and fantasy community for the past decade. An early adopter of blogging, social media and a familiar face at conventions, she appears on panels as an expert on genre marketing and retailing. (Text from Bookish.)

Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook




Interview with K.M. Fawcett, author of Captive (The Survival Race 1) - June 8, 2013


Please welcome K. M. Fawcett to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Captive (The Survival Race 1) was published on June 4, 2013.



Interview with K.M. Fawcett, author of Captive (The Survival Race 1) - June 8, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

K.M.:  Thank you for inviting me to chat!



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

K.M.:  I always wanted to write books and thought that when I had kids, I’d have time to write. I have no idea where that delusion came from, but after my second child was born, I figured it was time to sit down and start. I wrote on and off for the first few years, but then something clicked and I became serious about my writing and my pursuit of publication.



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

K.M.:  Writing quirk? Do I have a writing quirk? Well, I always make and drink a pot of tea when I write. And sometimes when I’m stuck on something, I’ll take my laptop to a different spot in the house, hoping the creative energy there will be better. I think it’s a feng shui thing, even though I don’t know anything about feng shui.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

K.M.:  I started out as a pantser, but couldn’t keep the storyline focused. The story would veer off in the wrong direction and I’d have to delete and start over. Once I began plotting, my writing process became easier and faster. I love using Michael Hauge’s 6 stage plot structure.



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

K.M.:  The first chapter is always difficult. I tend to rewrite them several times. So much goes into that first chapter. You have to establish the book’s tone, set up the characters without dumping too much backstory, make the reader connect to and care about the character so they want to continue reading, and you have to world build without over doing the description so as not to bore readers. I find it’s a tough balance.



TQ:  Describe Captive (The Survival Race 1) in 140 characters or less.

K.M.:  Planet of the Apes meets the Hunger Games as gladiator & his mate risk all 4 freedom & learn when together nothing in universe can stop them



TQ:  What inspired you to write Captive?

K.M.:  While watching the rescue of mistreated horses on an episode of Animal Cops (a show on Animal Planet), I wondered how people would feel if they were penned up and abused like that. What if humans were the pets, and someone--aliens perhaps--bred us and gambled on us for entertainment like we do with horse racing, dog racing, and cockfights? The idea for CAPTIVE was born.



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

K.M.:  The story begins in Klamath National Forest during a forest fire as my law enforcement officer heroine is rescuing some teenagers. I’ve never been to northern California, so had to research the area, law enforcement officers in national parks, and forest fires. I relied on my martial arts training for the fight scenes, but did research on various weapons used in the book. I researched Scottish and American folklore to come up with my aliens, and researched the arctic for my frozen planet.



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

K.M.:  The hero, Max, seemed easiest to write from the beginning. I knew exactly who he was and what his goals were. He was very straightforward, and I enjoyed torturing him. The heroine, Addy, was a little harder to write as she required more layers to her personality. I needed to balance her strength with her fear. She needed to be courageous yet vulnerable. I don't think readers like a heroine who is too perfect or too imperfect.



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

K.M.:  This is such a hard question to answer. I love them all! I love how Max and Addy interact with each other regardless if the scene is tense, humorous, sexy, or heart wrenching. They make a good match, and each brings something unique to the relationship. Max teaches Addy how to survive, while Addy teaches Max how to tame his inner beast.



TQ:  What's next?

K.M.:  I’m waiting on revisions for FEARLESS, book 2 in the Survival Race Series. This story was so much fun to write. Not only are there new adventures and romance, but fun reappearances by some of my favorite characters in CAPTIVE. I hope readers enjoy both of these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

K.M.:  Thanks again for having me here today!






About Captive

Captive
The Survival Race1
Forever Yours, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with K.M. Fawcett, author of Captive (The Survival Race 1) - June 8, 2013
"Fawcett delivers a suspenseful and captivating science fiction romance. A must read for all, but especially for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES." --Caridad Pineiro, NY Times & USA Today bestselling author

AN IMPOSSIBLE JOURNEY

The last thing Addy Dawson remembers is a blazing inferno and freezing river water overtaking her lungs. When she awakens, Addy finds herself on a strange, alien planet, trapped in a cell with no doors, no windows-- and to her horror-- a naked warrior who claims to be her mate.

AN UNDENIABLE PASSION

An alpha gladiator, Max is forced to breed and produce the finest specimens for the Survival Race, a deadly blood sport created by the alien rulers of Hyborea. To rebel means torture-or worse-yet Max refuses to become the animal his captors want him to be. But their jailors will not be denied, and soon Addy and Max find themselves unwilling players in this cruel game. Pushed to the limit, they will risk everything for the chance at a life free from captivity. And though fate brought them together as adversaries, Max and Addy will discover that when they're together, there's nothing in the universe that can stop them.





About K. M. Fawcett

Interview with K.M. Fawcett, author of Captive (The Survival Race 1) - June 8, 2013
K.M. Fawcett was a born romantic. At six years old, she would beg her parents to take her to a restaurant with, “Soft music and candles” where she could drink Shirley Temples and twirl on the dance floor. As she grew, her desire to be whisked into a romantic adventure by a knight in shining armor also grew – to the point of annoying her friends and family. When she received A Knight In Shining Armor (a novel by Jude Deveraux) for her eighteenth birthday, she fell in love…with the romance genre. ♥ Now K.M. writes sci-fi/ paranormal romances, and enjoys stories filled with adventure and strong, kick butt heroes and heroines.

K.M. holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree black belt) in both Isshinryu Karate and in Ryukonkai (Okinawan weapons). She and her husband own Tenchi Isshinryu Karate Dojo in NJ where they teach karate, weapons, and self-defense.

When not writing or working out at the dojo, K.M. is home with her two children and two cats.

Website   ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Attacking the Page Blog


Interview with Alan Averill, author of The Beautiful Land - June 5, 2013


Please welcome Alan Averill to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Beautiful Land was published on June 4th by Ace. You may read Alan's Guest Blog here.



Interview with Alan Averill, author of The Beautiful Land - June 5, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Alan:  Hey, thanks! Happy to be here.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Alan:  I started writing when I was a kid. Like, a little kid -- 5 or so. Then in high school, I realized I could BS my way through most of my classes if I just wrote amusing essays, even if they contained almost no facts about what we were studying whatsoever. This first clued me in to the awesome power of the written word, and I haven't really stopped since. I wrote plays in college, penned articles for Nintendo Power magazine, localized a whole bunch of videogames, and now I have a book. It's crazy, man. Crazy.

As for the why, I don't have any idea other than I feel an instinctual need to do so and I get kind of crabby when I don't.



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

Alan:  Probably that I don't plan anything out. This is a bit of a spoiler for the next question, but I don't really take notes or do outlines or any of that. Instead, I start out with a little kernel of an idea and just see where it takes me.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Alan:  Total pantser. My "outline" for The Beautiful Land consisted of about three pages of ideas scribbled down over the four months I was writing it. That's not to say I have literally no idea where I'm going, but mostly I try to approach writing like jazz -- there's a framework of a song when I start out, but the good stuff tends to come from improvisation. I like to think there's somebody in the back of my head working this stuff out while I do other things, and that the actual writing is just the last step in that process.

Of course, this means that I have a whole lot of editing to do when I finish the book, since certain themes or plot points come to the fore after I've started, but I don't really mind. I enjoy the editing process -- I've spent a lot of time localizing videogames, which helped prepare me for what editing a book is like.



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

Alan:  For me, it's all the ancillary stuff -- marketing, talking about my work, writing pitch letters, that kind of thing. In a perfect world, I'd live in an isolated cabin, send manuscripts out on horseback, and then a bunch of happy little elves would figure out how to make them sell.



TQ:  Describe The Beautiful Land in 140 characters or less.

Alan:  It's a love story where an Iranian-American military translator and a Japanese-American survival expert try to save the world from monstrous bird creatures.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Beautiful Land?

Alan:  It's kind of hard to say, because all of this stuff bubbles around in my head before I throw it down on paper. However, certain characters and events were inspired by things I saw or read or otherwise interacted with. For example, Tak O'Leary (the survival expert), was inspired by the television series Survivorman. Samira (the translator) really came into focus after I read The Forever War, a book by Dexter Filkins about his time as a war reporter in Iraq and Afghanistan. The birds came from a series of nightmares I used to have back in high school. (Actually, I've had really vivid, horrible dreams for most of my life, which is probably as responsible as anything else for my being a writer.) As for the book, I suppose I wrote it because writing makes me happy.



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

Alan:  I didn't do a lot of specific research for the book, aside from reading up on PTSD, and then doing a bunch of fact-checking once I was done with the first draft. But I'm doing general research every day of my life. Like with people I see on the street, or conversations I overhear on the bus, or random little thoughts that pop into my head -- all of that is a kind of research, and a lot of it eventually ends up in my work.



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

Alan:  Tak was an utter joy to write, mostly because he's a bit of a nut and I appreciate that. But honestly, I didn't have much of a struggle with anyone. This book just poured out of me -- i don't know if I'll ever be able to do that again.



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

Alan:  There's a scene in the Australian Outback involving Tak and a semi truck. I kind of love it to death.



TQ:  What's next?

Alan:  I'm very close to finishing the second draft of my new book, which I'll be sending to my agent shortly. I'm also about to start a new videogame project that I'm very, very excited about, but I can't talk about it because I signed an NDA and they would probably have my legs broke.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alan:  Thanks for having me!





About The Beautiful Land

The Beautiful Land
Ace, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Alan Averill, author of The Beautiful Land - June 5, 2013
Takahiro O’Leary has a very special job…

…working for the Axon Corporation as an explorer of parallel timelines—as many and as varied as anyone could imagine. A great gig—until information he brought back gave Axon the means to maximize profits by changing the past, present, and future of this world.

If Axon succeeds, Tak will lose Samira Moheb, the woman he has loved since high school—because her future will cease to exist. A veteran of the Iraq War suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Samira can barely function in her everyday life, much less deal with Tak’s ravings of multiple realities. The only way to save her is for Tak to use the time travel device he “borrowed” to transport them both to an alternate timeline.

But what neither Tak nor Axon knows is that the actual inventor of the device is searching for a timeline called the Beautiful Land—and he intends to destroy every other possible present and future to find it.

The switch is thrown, and reality begins to warp—horribly. And Tak realizes that to save Sam, he must save the entire world…





About Alan

Interview with Alan Averill, author of The Beautiful Land - June 5, 2013
Alan has been writing for as long as he can remember. His first novel, The Beautiful Land, was the winner of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. He's also done writing and localization work for dozens of video games, including Fire Emblem Awakening, Hotel Dusk, and Nier.

He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife Sue, his dog Sam Perkins, and a whole lot of rain. You can find more of his random musings on Twitter at @frodomojo, or at http://www.alanaverill.com.








Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013


Please welcome Thomas Van Essen to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Center of the World is published today. Happy Publication Day to Thomas!



Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Thomas:  Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be “here” on the internet.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Thomas:  I started writing in high school. It always seemed to me one of the few things a person could do that really mattered I wrote at Sarah Lawrence, where I got to study with E.L. Doctorow and a number of other great people. I spent a year after I graduated trying to finish a novel I had started there, but I couldn’t make it go anywhere and, more importantly, I couldn’t figure out how to make a living and be a writer. So I went to graduate school in English, with the vague idea of becoming one of those English professors who teaches literature during the academic year and writes novels during the summer. It took me nearly forever, however, to complete my degree and when I was done I couldn’t get an academic position (I wasn’t one of those graduate students who impressed the hell out of people) and so I took a job because I needed to make a living. I wrote a pretty good, I think, post modern sort of detective novel in those early years, but when I couldn’t find a publisher for it I stopped writing and concentrated on my family and my career. But ten years ago I knew I needed to go back to writing so I started The Center of the World.



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

Thomas:  I don’t know how interesting this is, but I write in the morning before I go to work. I wrote the first draft of The Center of the World with a Namiki retractable tip fountain pen on nine Ampad Gold Fibre 8½ by 11 3/4 writing pads, which, according to the text on the back of the pad, offers “Rigid backing for easy hand-held use/Professional quality bond provides smoother writing surface/Stylish cover fits with any décor . . . home or office.” All of which, especially the part about being stylish and fitting with any décor, is true. Having a stylish pad is very important, although even more important if you write with a fountain pen is good paper that doesn’t blot. Over my desk I have one of the section signs that says “PAPERBACK FICTION” from a local bookstore that went out of business. Whenever I look at it I think of the Beatles tune: “. . .and I need a job and I want to be a paperback writer.”



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Thomas:  I had to look up “pantser” but I guess that is what I am. I had a pretty strong idea about how the story was going to end, but only a general sense of how to get there. I thought of myself as heading in a general direction, but I tried to be open to whatever unexpected things I might find along the way. I think the best parts of my book were mysterious gifts that came from some unexpected place and are greater, in some sense, than anything the more or less normal person that I am could produce. The Center of the World is about J.M. W. Turner, a Romantic painter, and the book shares a sensibility with the poets and painters of his era, a sensibility which is inimical to a strict “paint by numbers” approach. I believe you have to write in a spirit of openness to whatever might come along. The Center of the World has a complicated structure—four alternating narratives—two set in the past, two set in the present—that speak to each other in what I hope are interesting ways. By the time I got to the second draft I had to start worrying about how all the pieces fit together so I had to start wearing the plotter hat.



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

Thomas:  Finding the time. And then finding the words.



TQ:  Describe The Center of the World in 140 characters or less. /like a tweet/

Thomas:  Two vectors, one labeled “art,” one labeled “eroticism” meeting some place beyond what we know in either category. Realistic fiction about.

or

An erotic painting by J. M. W. Turner that turns it up to eleven: how created in the 19th century? How would people respond to it today?



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Center of the World?

Thomas:  During my first or second year of graduate school I took a course in 19th Century Non-Fiction Prose. I was sitting in the back of the room, on the left hand side, when the professor told the famous story about Ruskin supposedly burning Turner’s erotic sketches. I didn’t know an awful lot about Turner at the time, but I knew I liked him and that he was a great painter. My first thought, I remember, was what a shame, but my second was, what if these sketches were a sign of something else? What if Ruskin burnt them not because they were merely erotic, but because they had some kind of power in them that was more than mere eroticism? What if they were the preliminary sketches for a work like no other? That notion, in various permutations, knocked around in the back of mind for around 25 years.

I have a very good “day job,” but one evening about ten years ago I had one of those “is this all there is?” moments. I was the last one left in the office; I had just gotten off the phone with a very demanding client and I knew that I had done a pretty good job of handling a complicated situation. In some universe I should have been very pleased with myself, but I just felt empty and depressed. Is this what I really want out of life? Is this all there is? I had stopped writing once, but I knew that I needed to go back to it.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Center of the World?

Thomas:  I read a lot about Turner, and looked at a lot of his paintings. I am fortunate in that I live near New York, so I could look at the Turners at the Met and the Frick. I used the Frick Art Reference Library to do research on some of the less well-known painters mentioned in the novel. I took a few trips to England to look at the Turners in the Tate and the National Gallery and to go to Petworth House where much of the novel is set. At Petworth House I tried to imagine how this real place could be instrumental in the creation of the impossible object that is at the heart of my book. The descriptions of the rooms and the paintings at Petworth are pretty accurate. The National Trust guide to Petworth House was an import resource



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

Thomas:  Mrs. Spencer, who is Egremont’s mistress and the model for Helen in Turner’s painting, was the easiest. When I started writing she really wasn’t part of the original conception and I don’t really understand where she came from. She was a gift. It wasn’t really a Pygmalion situation, but I fell in love with her as I wrote and that made it somehow easy. The hardest character, oddly, was Henry, the guy who finds the painting in the present. He is not me, but he is about my age and, like me, lives in New Jersey and has a place in the Adirondacks. What I found difficult was getting the right amount of distance between Henry and myself. He is a less happy and more troubled person than I am and it took awhile to figure out how to draw on my feelings to make him real, but to do so in a way that wasn’t me. Judith Gurewich, the publisher of Other Press, gave me some important help with him.



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

Thomas:  I think my favorite scene in the novel is the one where Charles Grant, one of the narrators, first poses nude for Turner. Grant, who is a very beautiful young man, has been chosen to be the model for Paris. Grant is a poor, but university-educated writer who feels out of place at Petworth. He finds it difficult to reconcile his tenuous position in society with the fact that he’s been asked to take his clothes off in front of Turner. As Grant stands naked before Turner, the painter gives him a pose and tells him to look through the studio window toward the distant horizon. Grant tells us that after a few minutes of concentrating, he sees “a bright shadow on the physical world, and I knew in the depths of my heart that a goddess was making her appearance.” As Grant seems to see the goddess, Turner experiences what he calls “the frenzy. . . [when] the work seems to make itself, as though I’m a mere medium for some other power.” When the two men compare notes after the event, Turner says,

Funny about the gods. They’re a damn hard business. They are long gone in this miserable nineteenth century of ours. The groves are empty and so forth. Still, I sometimes imagine I catch a glimpse of them. Or see what they might be if they existed, if you follow me. You can walk about the park all you like. See deer. Foxes. Flocks of fowl. Most wonderful song birds. Marvelous light. Color. Shades between shades never seen before. But no gods. They are gone. Decamped to who knows where. Railways and machines took their place. Who knows? But sometimes, when I look about me, I sense that they were here, that they have just departed. It is hard to explain. They leave behind a scent in the light. As though an attractive woman’s been in the room. Only her scent remains. But in light. The residue of their glory in the world. An odd business.

At one level this is a scene is about what I would like my writing and the process of writing to be, but it was also a scene in which some of the main currents of the book came together for me.



TQ:  What's next?

Thomas:  I’m revisiting the novel I started while I was an undergraduate, but coming at it from the very different perspective of an older person. It features an unreliable narrator trying to make sense of the lies his father tells (or doesn’t tell). It’s about history and how we remember it; about the sins of the fathers and the sins of the sons. I hope it will be a shorter and more compact novel than The Center of the World.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Thomas:  Thanks for having me. It’s a nice place you have here.






About The Center of the World

The Center of the World
Other Press, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.

Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.





About Thomas

Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013




Thomas Van Essen graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and earned his PhD in English from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey with his family. The Center of the World is his first novel.




Website  ~  Twitter @tvanessen2







Interview with John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm - June 3, 2013


Please welcome John Mantooth to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Year of the Storm, John's debut novel, will be published on June 4, 2013.  You may read John's Guest Blog here.



Interview with John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm - June 3, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

John:  Thanks for having me! I’m excited to be here.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

John:  I started writing just after I turned thirty. It was something I’d always wanted to do. In fact, I thought about it all the time, but for some reason, I lacked the maturity and self-discipline it took to actually do it. I think hitting thirty made me think, “okay, it’s now or never.” Like many new writers, I jumped straight into the great American novel without even trying a short story first. I finished the novel, printed it, and put it away. It was terrible. Luckily, I believed the next one would be better. Fast-forward six months. Another terrible novel finished. That’s when I decided to try my hand at short stories. I fell in love with those, and they taught me the way stories work, and maybe more importantly, they allowed me to find my voice. The next time I went back to the novel (nearly eight years later), I wrote The Year of the Storm.



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

John:  I write in coffee shops, a practice I’ve seen other successful writers mock. Some people tend to see it as pretentious, but whenever I try to write at home, I invariably fall asleep. At a coffee shop, there’s enough background noise to keep me focused, and I’m not likely to fall asleep in front of all those people.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

John:  I’m a pantser who respects plot. If I plan everything out, I tend to lose interest in the story. Somebody famous (I can’t for the life of me remember who) said that the reader wouldn’t be surprised if the writer wasn’t first. I sort of adhere to that, and work within a very loose framework of what I want to happen. Hopefully, that framework allows me enough room to still surprise myself. Of course, during revisions, I plot much more in order to make it all fit together.



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

John:  Figuring out what story to tell. Sometimes, I waste a lot of time trying to decide how to treat a story, which way to tell it, where to take it. There are so many decisions: point of view, narrative voice, narrative distance, genre, audience. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Sometimes I try to do too much. Other times I finish and wonder if I did too little.



TQ:  Describe The Year of the Storm in 140 characters or less.

John:  Nine months after Danny’s mother and sister disappear in the woods behind his house, a tortured Vietnam vet shows up at his door claiming to know their whereabouts.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Year of the Storm?

John:  When my grandmother died, I ended up with a very old painting that one of her sisters had done years ago. The painting was of a little cabin at dusk. The cabin was surrounded by lush trees and what looked like swamp water. It was a really gorgeous piece of art, and it captivated my imagination, got me thinking about what could be inside that cabin, how it ended up out there in the middle of the swamp. This sort of fell into place with something else I’d been obsessing about—people that disappear and are never found again. This is how stories work for me—two inspirations collide and I’m off.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Year of the Storm?

John:  Nothing very exhaustive. There was some fact checking and a little reading about 1960’s Alabama (one of the storylines takes place in the early sixties). I asked a friend that teaches history what life would have been like in rural Alabama back then. Since a lot of the novel takes place in the woods, I was able to rely on my own experiences and my imagination.



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

John:  Easiest was the main narrator, Danny. In a lot of ways, his voice is my voice, his concerns my concerns. I don’t know if that’s a first novel type of thing, but his voice and character came pretty naturally to me. I had a harder time with Rodney Sykes. He’s the antagonist of the novel, and he’s a pretty rotten human being. I didn’t have a problem with making him rotten; that was easy. It was much more difficult to let the reader glimpse a little of why he might have turned out to be a rotten human being. I hope I succeeded.



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

John:  This is a scene near the middle of the book when Danny, the narrator, gets his first glimpse of how dangerous Walter Pike might be. Danny and his friend, Cliff, are at a convenience store leafing through the comics rack when Pike comes in.

       Pike turned and saw me. His eyes scanned me quickly until recognition dawned on his face. He placed a six-pack of beer on the counter and reached into his back pocket for his wallet, while I stood frozen to the spot.
       “Earth to Danny,” Cliff said. “Don’t you want the new Hulk?”
       I shook my head. The only thing I wanted at that moment was for Pike to turn back around. Then I wanted him to tell me how to find my mother and sister.
       “Howdy,” the cashier said. He was an old-timer, Mr. Grayson or Granger or something. Most people just called him Cap, though I didn’t know why. What I did know is that “howdy” was his standard greeting. He liked Red Man tobacco and was partial to overalls, and he wasn’t particularly impressed with my or Cliff’s love of what he called “funny books.”
       “Afternoon,” Pike said, keeping his eyes down, his wallet ready in his hand, anxious to complete the transaction.
       Cap rang up the beer and said, “Four dollars nineteen pennies, my friend.”
       Pike pulled out a ten.
       Cap picked up his spit bottle and deposited a long brown strand of dip into it. “Got nineteen cents?”
       Pike shook his head.
       Cap nodded and took the ten. He opened the register and began to count out change. He was about to hand Pike his money when he stopped, pulling it back. “Wait a minute,” he said. “I recognize you now. You’re Preston Pike’s boy.”
       Pike nodded and reached for his change.
       Cap pulled it back. “Hell naw.” He dropped the change back into the register and pulled Pike’s ten out, flinging it at him. “We don’t do business with your kind.”
       A thin smile creased Pike’s face. “My kind?”
       “I know about you. You might think people forget, but Cap don’t never forget. You and that Sykes boy. Both of you disappearing like you did. I don’t forget.”
       “You don’t, huh?”
       “Go on. Take your pretty ass on out of here. Don’t care to do business with a queer.”
       “Queer?”
       “You heard me. Go on.”
       Pike reached for the six-pack. Cap did the same, pulling it away from Pike just before he could get his hands on it.
       That’s when I saw a different side of Pike, a side that gave me pause.
       He moved quick, grabbing Cap’s shirt in both fists and pulling him across the counter. The old man grunted and made a face like he was in pain. Pike jerked him again, the old man’s belly pressing against the counter. “Let’s me and you get a few things straight. I don’t care what Cap remembers. It don’t make it true.”
       The old man tried to pull away, but Pike yanked him so hard, I heard Cap’s T-shirt rip. “I’m going to drop this ten dollars on the counter . . .” Pike opened one fist and let the damp bill flutter to the countertop. “. . . and I’m going to let go of you and take this beer. If you try to stop me, I’m going to give you something to remember, and this time, it won’t be some made-up shit that none of you ever will understand. You got all that?”
       Cap looked like he wanted to spit on Pike or hit him in the mouth or maybe even kill him dead, but all he did was nod, his face set in stone.
       “Good.”
       Pike let go and took the beer. He said something under his breath and turned to walk out. “I hate you had to see that,” he said as he walked past me and out the door.
       I whirled around and saw from the look on Cliff’s face as he stood by the comics rack that he had witnessed the whole thing.
       “Don’t do it,” he said, but I was already moving.
       When I got outside, Pike was getting into his truck. He stopped, the door half-open. “Come with me.”
       His voice was cold and hard but low enough to make me realize he didn’t want anyone else to hear him.
       “Only if you promise to tell me how to get my mother and sister back.”
       “No promises. Only a story I think you might be interested in.”



TQ:  What’s next?

John:  Next is a second novel, which I’m hard at work on now. I’m one of those superstitious writers who doesn’t like to talk about a book at least until the first draft is done, so that’s all I’ll say for now.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

John:  Thank you! I was very happy to be here.





About The Year of the Storm

The Year of the Storm
Berkley, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm - June 3, 2013
In this haunting, suspenseful debut novel, John Mantooth takes readers to a town in rural Alabama where secrets are buried deep, reality is relative, and salvation requires a desperate act of faith.

When Danny was fourteen, his mother and sister disappeared during a violent storm. The police were baffled. There were no clues, and most people figured they were dead. Only Danny still holds out hope that they’ll return.

Months later, a disheveled Vietnam vet named Walter Pike shows up at Danny’s front door, claiming to know their whereabouts. The story he tells is so incredible that Danny knows he shouldn’t believe him. Others warn him about Walter Pike’s dark past, his shameful flight from town years ago, and the suspicious timing of his return.

But he’s Danny’s last hope, and Danny needs to believe…




Broken Branch
Berkley, May 7, 2013
eNovella

Interview with John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm - June 3, 2013
Broken Branch, Alabama, serves as a refuge for the God-fearing, a shelter from the evils of the outside world. But who will protect them from the evil within?

Trudy first met Otto and James after World War I, two traveling ministers, preaching the good word to anyone who’d take the time to listen. Together, they founded Broken Branch, a hideaway in Alabama where the faithful would be able to isolate themselves from the impurity of the rest of the world and live blessed lives in the eyes of God.

But then the storms came, tearing apart their small compound, God’s punishment for hidden wickedness in their hearts. And when an old man wanders into Broken Branch, ranting about a secret hideaway and uncovers an old storm cellar that’s been hidden for years, Trudy begins to wonder what other secrets lie under the surface of their safe haven…

Includes a preview of The Year of the Storm





About John

Interview with John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm - June 3, 2013
John Mantooth is an award-winning author whose short stories have been recognized in numerous year's best anthologies. His short fiction has been published in Fantasy Magazine, Crime Factory, Thuglit, and the Stoker winning anthology, Haunted Legends (Tor, 2010), among others. His first book, Shoebox Train Wreck, was released in March of 2012 from Chizine Publications. His debut novel, The Year of the Storm, is slated for a June 2013 release from Berkley. He lives in Alabama with his wife, Becky, and two children.




Website  ~  Twitter  @busfulloflosers


Interview with Mur Lafferty, author of The Shambling Guide to New York City - May 30, 2013


Please welcome Mur Lafferty to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides 1) was published on May 28, 2013. You may read Mur's Guest Blog - Happy Accident - here.



Interview with Mur Lafferty, author of The Shambling Guide to New York City - May 30, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Mur:  Thanks very much for the invite!



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Mur:  I started writing when I was around 11 or 12, when I read some fantasy by Robin McKinley and Madeline L'Engle and wanted to write stories like that. My first fanfic was continuing Fred Saberhagen's Lost Swords books.



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

Mur:  Oh gosh. I have no idea. I guess I fear edits so very much because I am sure they're going to say THIS IS DRIVEL, START OVER. And they never do; they always suggest things to make the story better. And I tell myself, like I'm four or something, "Now you see, making the story better is a GOOD thing, so the next time you get edits, you should look forward to them, right?" And I never do.

I guess that's not a quirk though. I noticed in my last book that I wrote like Terry Pratchett, all thrown onto the page with no chapter breaks. It works for him, of course, for me it's laziness, and I was very angry with myself on edits that I had to do this extra work.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mur:  Total pantser. Trying to get better about it, though, as more editors are asking me for outlines.



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

Finding confidence about my voice. I had an epiphany recently: I wrote an outline for an editor and thought it sucked, and then I realized that listening (metaphorically) to your own writing voice is like looking in the mirror every day. Even if you're gorgeous and you know it, you're not going to look at your face and gasp at your beauty, because it's the same damn face you see every day. I don't see my writing as anything special because it's the words that came out of my head, just like they always do. Of course I'm going to think my writing is plain and ordinary. So I cut myself some slack for the first time and waited for the editor's comments, and he said he loved the outline.



TQ:  Describe The Shambling Guide to New York City in 140 characters or less.

Mur:  HHGG meets Neverwhere. Or: human writes a NYC travel guide for monsters.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Shambling Guide to New York City?

Mur:  In 2005, I wrote a piece of RPG material to benefit the Red Cross after Katrina. I wrote about a zombie travel guide in New Orleans who wanted to keep doing her job, so she would show visiting monsters the city. The idea stayed with me and I wanted to take the idea to New York.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Shambling Guide to New York City?

Mur:  I visited the city, did a lot of reading, and perused a lot of travel guides. I also have friends in the city who could answer a variety of questions just in how to move around the city. (ie, length of a train ride from one area to another, the kind of detail that readers will crucify you for, second only to getting bullet information wrong when talking about guns.)



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

Mur:  Morgen the Water Sprite is the easiest. She is fun, bouncy, easy to get along with, and matter of fact enough to point out when Zoe, the hero, is being stupid. Phil, the vampire boss, was probably the hardest. I wanted to make a vampire as a person of power, but I specifically wanted him to not be chiseled and sexy and the obvious love interest. he was a slightly heavier 30-something when he died, and I wanted to strike a balance between easygoing dude and ruthless killer and not have it be a Jekyll and Hyde thing.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Shambling Guide to New York City?

Mur:  The climax. So I really can't give anything away. Sorry. :)



TQ:  What's next?

Mur:  I am working on a novella for the Torment video game, and then my thesis for my MFA this fall. I finished The Ghost Train to New Orleans (sequel to Shambling Guide) last month, and that should be out next March.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mur:  Thanks for having me!





About The Shambling Guides

The Shambling Guide to New York City
Series:  The Shambling Guides
Publisher:  Orbit Books, May 28, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $15.00 (print)
ISBN: 9780316221177 (print)

Interview with Mur Lafferty, author of The Shambling Guide to New York City - May 30, 2013
A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city - for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can't take off her resume --- human.

Not to be put off by anything -- especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker -- Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble -- with Zoe right in the middle.



The cover for The Shambling Guides 2 - The Ghost Train to New Orleans

Interview with Mur Lafferty, author of The Shambling Guide to New York City - May 30, 2013





About Mur

Interview with Mur Lafferty, author of The Shambling Guide to New York City - May 30, 2013
Photo by JR Blackwell
2012 Nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Mur Lafferty is an author, podcaster, and editor. She lives in Durham, NC, with her husband and 10 year old daughter.

  • Podcasts: She has been podcasting since 2004 when she started her essay-focused show, Geek Fu Action Grip. Then she started the award-winning I Should Be Writing in 2005, which is still going today. In 2010 she took over as the editor of Escape Pod, and she also runs the Angry Robot Books podcast.
  • Books: Starting with podcast-only titles, Mur has written several books and novellas. Her first professionally published book, The Shambling Guide to New York City, will be out in May, 2013. She writes urban fantasy, superhero satire, afterlife mythology, and Christmas stories.
  • Nonfiction: Mur has written for several magazines including Knights of the Dinner Table, Anime Insider, and The Escapist.

Mur is studying for her MFA in Popular Fiction at the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine.




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