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Interview with Tony Peak, author of Inherit the Stars


Please welcome Tony Peak to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Inherit the Stars, Tony's debut novel, is published today by Roc. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Tony a Happy Publication Day.



Interview with Tony Peak, author of Inherit the Stars




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Tony:  Thanks for having me. I started writing seriously in 2008. Before that, I’d write a short piece now and then, but never with the intention of getting it published. But I wanted to give it a shot. I’d had stories in my head for years, and I knew they would never see the light of day unless I took that first step. So I made myself write one short story per week, and that helped me build discipline. In a short time, I couldn’t stop myself from writing, even if I had wanted to. Finally, I wrote my first novel in 2010. Inherit the Stars in the fourth, written in early 2011.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Tony:  Panster all the way! For novels, I create a short overview with character sketches, then I dive right in, writing every day until that first draft is complete. At that point, the overview usually goes out the window, but the scenes that come out of me feel more genuine through this process.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tony:  Not having enough time to write all the things that I want. I’ve come to love the writing process—even revisions. Rejections are nothing but a reminder that I can do better.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Tony:  Frank Herbert for his immersive Dune universe, Robert E. Howard for his gritty energy, Ursula K. Le Guin for turning social preconceptions on their head, and Philip K. Dick for his mind-bending narratives. Some of my favorite books are Dune, Ubik, Dracula, The Stars My Destination, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Anubis Gates, and The Left Hand of Darkness.



TQDescribe Inherit the Stars in 140 characters or less.

Tony:  Kivita wanted to explore the stars like her father, but what she discovers will decide the fate of a galaxy—if she survives.



TQTell us something about Inherit the Stars that is not found in the book description.

Tony:  There’s a third major character: Seul Jaah, a hardened Aldaakian soldier that believes Kivita holds the key to her people’s future. She’s a hairless albino, and tough as nails.



TQWhat inspired you to write Inherit the Stars? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and, in the case of Inherit the Stars, Space Opera? What is Space Opera?

Tony:  I wrote Inherit the Stars because I’m fascinated by discovery, space exploration, and humanity’s relationship to the cosmos. Kivita’s awe of new planets and possibilities mirrors my own. I wanted to tell a story about humanity’s role in the universe, and what one can do to improve that. I chose an action format to heighten the drama of such revelations, because I wanted the characters to risk everything to not only protect those they love, but also to learn. Knowledge has its price.

What appeals to me about writing Science Fiction? The sheer scope and grandeur that I’m allowed to work with. The playground is the universe itself, a limitless vista that will always remain mysterious because it isn’t humanly possible to see it all. I’ve loved the genre since I saw Stars Wars at the age of five, and space travel in particular stirs my imagination the most. Plus, I like for even the strangest phenomena to have a logical purpose; I never would have told this story in a fantasy format, though I love that genre as well. I feel that, as human beings, our ability to use reason rather than superstition is what will save us from destroying ourselves, as well as catapult us to places beyond planet Earth. That is a key theme of this novel. Finally, I love diversity, and what better canvas to display that than Science Fiction? Inherit the Stars features a female protagonist that is in an interracial relationship; another character is involved in an inter-species relationship. There are beefy people from high-G worlds, slight people for low-G worlds, different dialects, different religions that try to interpret the universe’s secrets. But no matter what form the characters take, they all think, and feel. We need each other to survive the void out there, and the void inside ourselves.

Space Opera usually falls outside Hard SF, and focuses more on adventure that takes technology for granted. FTL travel is common, and in many cases, worlds that are suitable for human habitation are the norm. I tried to move away from that, by addressing—in a non-Hard SF manner—the effects of gravity on starships, passengers, and on different worlds. Most worlds in Inherit the Stars require one to wear a spacesuit due to poisonous atmospheres or radiation. I also avoided the ‘dogfights in space’ of Star Wars, and paid more attention to what would really happen if a hull is ripped open by a laser beam or missile. Bodies get sucked out into space, and wild fluctuations in pressure can rip a ship apart. But having said all of that, I wanted the novel to be a Space Opera due to Kivita’s abilities, the variety of worlds she visits, the aliens she encounters, and the romance between her and Sar, the male protagonist. I wanted adventure; I wanted desperate action scenes set against the backdrop of ancient derelicts and distant nebulas. And though I like Hard SF, it’s difficult to keep such action flowing when you have to pause and give the reader a physics lesson. In the end, it’s all about suspension of disbelief. The reader must be so absorbed with the narrative that they don’t question the fantastic technology that makes the story possible.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Inherit the Stars?

Tony:  I brushed up on some basic astronomy and even more basic physics, but the story required little research. I’ve written other works where I spent a great deal of time on research, so it’s something that I enjoy. But Inherit the Stars is an imaginary setting, so the real work was in developing what type of spacefaring society I wanted to present. I spent much time pondering what religions might exist within an interstellar civilization, and how languages and cultures would change over time, where it might take twenty years for ships to return to outlying worlds, isolated from the rest.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Tony:  Dunaar Thev, the villain, was the easiest one to write. He’s scheming, delusional, zealous, misogynistic, and self-righteous. He has his reasons for being that way, but that doesn’t excuse his deeds.

The hardest character to write was Kivita. She has to catch the reader’s attention and hold it, be easy to empathize with, and possess some of my own humanitarian qualities regarding justice and morality. The hardest part is her gender: I’m a guy, and I made sure to get input from women regarding her portrayal. I mention the effect of cryogenic sleep on her menstrual cycles; I note how she risks sterilizing herself due to all the radiation she’s exposed to via space travel. There’s the emotional side, too, of desiring a child with the man she loves. But even then, I’ll still never write a woman character as well as an author who is a woman. But I always wanted a female lead for this story. It just felt right.



TQWhich question Inherit the Stars do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Tony:

Question: When did the earliest concepts for the story come about?

Answer: I wrote a little science fiction piece for spelling class in fifth or sixth grade. That was the first time I made up the term ‘Aldaakian Shock Trooper’, which is used in the novel. Some things just stick with you.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Inherit the Stars.

Tony:

# 1:

More and more he took pieces from each world with him, to beautify the cold one he lived in.

#2:

The white dwarf sun lit everything in ghostly repose. Violet, sapphire, and ruby quartz hues gleamed in spar­kling glory. Coronas flared through thin crystal forma­tions. Geodes the size of starships glittered with a thousand illuminated facets.



TQWhat's next?

Tony:  I’m currently working on the second and third installments that follow Inherit the Stars to complete the trilogy. I also have a neo-noir space western called Wages of Cinn that I hope to get published; its set on a far future Mars, where criminals are forced to hunt electromagnetic ghosts, which can only be seen when one takes a highly addictive drug.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tony:  My pleasure.





Inherit the Stars
Inherit the Stars 1
Roc, November 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Interview with Tony Peak, author of Inherit the Stars
An epic debut set on the edges of space, where one botched job could mean death—or so much worse…

Wanderlust runs in Kivita Vondir’s blood. She dreamed of salvaging like her father when she was young, and now it’s her addiction, getting her through pit stops filled with cheap alcohol and cheaper companionship and distracting her from her broken heart.

Her latest contract to hunt down a fabled gemstone is exactly the kind of adventure she craves. But this job is more than meets the eye. For one thing, her duplicitous employer has hired rebel Sar Redryll—Kivita’s former lover—to stop her at any cost. For another, Kivita’s recovery of the relic unleashes in her powerful new abilities. Abilities that everyone in the Cetturo Arm—human, alien, and in-between—desperately wishes to control…

As she avoids a massive galactic manhunt, Kivita teams up with two unlikely allies: Sar and his enigmatic new partner. Only, as the gem’s mysteries are revealed and danger draws near, Kivita begins to wonder if her ex has truly changed, or if he’s just waiting for the right moment to betray her once again…





About Tony

Interview with Tony Peak, author of Inherit the Stars
John's Camera Corner
Tony Peak’s work appears in eighteen different speculative fiction publications and anthologies. He is an Active Member of the SFWA and an Affiliate Member of the HWA. He possesses a keen interest in progressive thinking, wine, history, Transhumanism, and planetary exploration. Inherit the Stars is his first novel.







Website  ~  Twitter @tonypeak78&


Facebook  ~  Google+



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Michael Livingston

The Shards of Heaven
The Shards of Heaven 1
Tor Books, November 24, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston
Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar's ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar's legacy. As civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may shape the course of history.

Juba, Numidian prince and adopted brother of Octavian, has embarked on a ruthless quest for the Shards of Heaven, lost treasures said to possess the very power of the gods-or the one God. Driven by vengeance, Juba has already attained the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which may also be the staff once wielded by Moses. Now he will stop at nothing to obtain the other Shards, even if it means burning the entire world to the ground.

Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves . . . and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.

Michael Livingston's The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Ark by Patrick S. Tomlinson


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Ark by Patrick S. Tomlinson


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Patrick S. Tomlinson

The Ark
Children of the Dead Earth 1
Angry Robot, November 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Ark by Patrick S. Tomlinson
Humankind has escaped a dying Earth and set out to find a new home among the stars aboard an immense generation spaceship, affectionately named the Ark. Bryan Benson is the Ark’s greatest living sports hero, enjoying retirement working as a detective in Avalon, his home module. The hours are good, the work is easy, and the perks can’t be beat.

But when a crew member goes missing, Benson is thrust into the centre of an ever-expanding web of deception, secrets, and violence that overturns everything he knows about living on the Ark and threatens everyone aboard. As the last remnants of humanity hurtle towards their salvation, Benson finds himself in a desperate race to unravel the conspiracy before a madman turns mankind’s home into its tomb.

File UnderScience Fiction [ Last Gun in the Universe / We’re Not Alone / Poison and Nukes / Race to the End ]

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner


The winner of the October  2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Conspiracy of Angels by Michelle Belanger from Titan Books with 67 votes equaling 71% of all votes.



2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner




The Results

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner




The October 2015 Debut Covers

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner



Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the November Debut covers starting on November 15, 2015.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. Scher


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. Scher


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Joshua V. Scher

Here & There
47North, November 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 587 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. Scher
It was supposed to be a simple proof of concept. The physics were sound. Over one hundred teleportation experiments had already been successfully performed...

Debate rages over whether the Reidier Test’s disastrous outcome resulted from human error, government conspiracy, or sabotage. No one has actual knowledge of the truth. But hidden from the public eye, there exists a government report commissioned from criminal psychologist Dr. Hilary Kahn, chronicling the events that took place.

Dr. Kahn disappeared without a trace.

Now her son Danny has unearthed and revealed the report, fueling controversy over the details of Reidier’s quest to reforge the fabric of reality and hold his family together. Exposed with little chance of finding his mother, Danny goes underground to investigate. But nothing can prepare him for what he discovers.

In this thrilling saga, a paradigm-shattering feat may alter humanity’s future as quantum entanglement and teleportation collide.

Interview with Michelle Belanger, author of Conspiracy of Angels


Please welcome Michelle Belanger to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Conspiracy of Angels, the first novel in the Shadowside series, is published today by Titan Books. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Michelle a Happy Publication Day.



Interview with Michelle Belanger, author of Conspiracy of Angels




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Michelle:  I started writing because there was no other choice. Words and stories clamored in my head and they all wanted out. I made my first professional sale at seventeen and I haven't looked back since. Although my initial aspirations were in fiction, I found a very comfortable place for myself writing non-fiction for many years. My Dictionary of Demons, released through Llewellyn Worldwide in 2010, remains one of my most popular works. It's in its seventh or eighth printing now. I love the detective-work of intensely research-based non-fiction, but the urge to tell stories never went away. When the Shadowside series began taking shape, I got so invested in the characters and their world that I knew it was time to make a change.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Michelle:  I'd love to be a straight-up plotter -- it always seems like it would be easier. Certainly, I start out that way, mapping out my stories in broad strokes, usually scene by scene. But in the end, the characters demand hybridization. Just when things get intense, they veer off in a direction I didn't foresee, and it's too exciting not to follow where they lead. As a writer, it's really delightful for me when the characters become so real that they can catch me off guard. I think allowing for some wiggle room for those kinds of twists enlivens the story.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Michelle:  With fiction writing, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities. When I write non-fiction, sense and structure are so straight-forward. Facts are facts, and there's a clear and certain way in which to arrange them. But with fiction, every story could be a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. There are so many roads not taken, what-ifs, and might-have-beens. Each and every character faces choices that can change them and thus change the direction of the story. Even when I start with a map of the action, all those possibilities sing out and it can be hard to resist the temptation to explore. I'll admit -- every once in a while, I indulge my curiosity and write an alternate scene just to see how those might-have-beens play out.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Michelle:  Like so many who grow up to be writers, I started out as an early and voracious reader. For as long as I can remember, I've had a penchant for the weird and macabre, so one of my early favorites was the short story collection October Country by Ray Bradbury. His tales really spoke to me, maybe because he shared my Midwestern roots, but also for his subtle juxtapositions of the familiar and the strange. Bradbury is directly responsible for my love of Urban Fantasy. As a teen, I discovered Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint Germain series, and I was hooked. Current favorites include (but are in no way limited to!) Jim Butcher, Robin Hobb, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Seanan McGuire. Max Gladstone also blew me away with his Dracula short, "A Kiss with Teeth."



TQDescribe Conspiracy of Angels in 140 characters or less.

Michelle:  No memory. Sixty bucks to his name - and a tribe of warring angels out to do worse than kill him. Zachary Westland's having a hell of a day.



TQTell us something about Conspiracy of Angels that is not found in the book description.

Michelle:  Cleveland, Ohio is awesome. Seriously. It's an urban fantasist's dreamland. We've had Rockefeller, Langston Hughes, Thomas Edison, and Elliot Ness all living and working here. Saudi sheiks travel halfway across the world to get treated at our hospitals. There are salt mines 1800 feet under the city, epic disasters that inspired headlines like "They Died Crawling," a tangled mafia history, world-renown museums with collections that should make you green with envy -- and that's to say nothing about the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run. Half my trouble is deciding which delicious nuggets of local color to weave into the world and which to save for later.



TQWhat inspired you to write Conspiracy of Angels, your first fiction novel?

Michelle:  I was sitting outside this haunted house, waiting for a local shaman to finish a ceremony to clear the ghosts -- like you do when your day job involves chasing spirits on international television -- and I started thinking about how my life had come to resemble another person's idea of fiction. And I indulged in a little game of what-if. What if this part of my life were a novel? Who would the characters be? What kinds of adventures might they have if clearing hauntings and hunting ghosts were as cool and showy as viewers wanted them to be on reality TV? Zack came out of that, and Sal and Remy soon followed. Before I knew it, I was writing furiously, and the Shadowside was born.



TQWhat appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

Michelle:  Urban Fantasy holds up a darkened mirror so we can explore our current world and all of its foibles. The settings in UF revolve around cities you can find on a map right here and now, and most authors in the genre do the research to make those cities as real as possible. That unflinching verisimilitude opens the door for so many subplots relevant to the very human experiences that help to make characters vital and relatable. Juxtaposed against the supernatural elements integral to the genre, those human experiences can really shine.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Conspiracy of Angels?

Michelle:  The short answer is a lot, but then, coming from non-fiction, research is sort of my thing. I've written about vampires, demons, ghosts, and psychic phenomenon, and in the Shadowside all these things converge where I can have fun with them. I very freely mine my previous research, building the supernatural elements of Zack's world on the bones of real occult practices and beliefs. As mentioned earlier, the verisimilitude inherent in Urban Fantasy really appeals to me. When a character uses a gun, readers expect that experience to reflect how a person would use the same gun in the real world. Get the little details wrong, and for many readers, that breaks the immersion. In a similar vein, drawing upon established elements of the paranormal and occult helps to build immersion so, when I veer into the realm of the truly fantastic, it has much more impact.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Michelle:  Hands-down, the easiest character to write is Lil. Known as the Lady of Beasts, she's what you'd get if you crossed Jessica Rabbit with Deadpool - only without his penchant for breaking the fourth wall. Brash and outspoken, she delights in weaponizing the expectations of people around her -- and she's already got a pretty deadly arsenal. Everything moves more swiftly when she's on the scene. The fact that my main character Zack never knows which way to jump when she's around is just a bonus.

The character who presents the biggest challenge is Terael. He's a disembodied spirit tied to a statue at the Cleveland Museum of Art. He is completely inhuman, thousands of years old, and a little unhinged as a result. His dialogue reflects this, and I go for a lilting kind of sing-song pattern when he speaks -- almost, but not quite, blank verse. Getting the right mix of informative and inscrutable can take a few tries.



TQWhich question about Conspiracy of Angels do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Michelle:  On the back of the book, Saliriel is described as transsexual. How much does that play into the story?

Honestly, about as much as the fact that Sal has blond hair. Sal's been running around in the same body since the court of the Medicis. She is old, she is powerful, and she has finally found herself in an age where the technology exists to make her outside match how she perceives herself within. As can be expected, everyone who encounters her has different opinions on her choice, just like in the real world. But, also as it is in the real world, that choice is merely one facet of who she is.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Conspiracy of Angels.

Michelle:  For lyricism, this line from the beginning of Chapter Six remains one of my favorites: "Once in a while I passed houses, but they were an acre back or more, their lights shaping dim constellations in an otherwise starless night."

For sheer Zack-ness, I'd have to pick this, from Chapter Thirty-Two: "He was stronger than me, which only figured. As a vampire, he had an automatic edge -- faster, stronger, more fashionably inclined."



TQWhat's next?

Michelle:  Right now, I'm focusing on the Shadowside series. The second book, Harsh Gods, is already done, and I'm currently working on book three, The Resurrection Game. I can't get enough of Zack's world.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Michelle:  Thank you for the opportunity to dish a little about the Shadowside!





Conspiracy of Angels
Shadowside 1
Titan Books, October 27, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Michelle Belanger, author of Conspiracy of Angels
When Zachary Westland regains consciousness on the winter shores of Lake Erie, his memories are gone. All he has are chaotic visions of violence and death… and a business card for Club Heaven. There Zack finds the six-foot-six transexual decimus known as Saliriel, and begins to learn what has happened.

Alarming details emerge, of angelic tribes trapped on Earth and struggling in the wake of the Blood Wars. Anakim, Nephilim, Gibburim, and Rephaim—there has been an uneasy peace for centuries, but the truce is at an end.

With the help of his “sibling” Remiel and Lilianna, the lady of beasts, Zack must stem the bloodshed before it cannot be stopped. Yet if he dies again, it may be for the final time.





About Michelle

Michelle Belanger is a nonfiction author, a member of the vampire community, and a psychic seen regularly on the television series Paranormal State. She’s been featured on programs on HBO, the History Channel, and CNN Headline News, and teaches classes around the country on dreamwalking, energy exchange, and spirit communication.

Website  ~   Facebook  ~   Twitter @sethanikeem  ~  Pinterest

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Night Clock by Paul Meloy


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Night Clock by Paul Meloy


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Paul Meloy

The Night Clock
Solaris, November 10, 2015 (US/Canada)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Night Clock by Paul Meloy
An incredible debut novel that will move and terrify you, as reality itself is threatened by a world just beyond our own.

And still the Night Clock ticks...

Phil Trevena’s boss is an idiot, his daughter is running wild, and his patients are killing themselves. There is something terrible growing in Phil that even his years as a mental health worker can’t explain - until he meets the enigmatic Daniel, and learns of the war for the minds of humanity that rages in Dark Time, the space between reality and nightmares measured by the Night Clock.

Drawn into the conflict, Phil and Daniel encounter the Firmament Surgeons, a brave and strange band that are all that prevents the nightmarish ranks of the Autoscopes overrunning us. The enemy is fuelled by a limitless hatred that could rip our reality apart. To end the war the darkness that dwells in the shadow of the Night Clock must be defeated...

Paul Meloy’s extraordinarily rich debut novel introduces us to a world just beyond our own, shattering our preconceptions about creativity and the human mind, and presenting us with a novel like no other.

Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss


Please welcome Max Wirestone to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss will be published on October 20th by Redhook.



Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Max:  This is actually my very first book, so just I started just over a year ago. I wrote UNFORTUNATE DECISIONS when I was doing collection development for my library, and I noticed that my geek readers and mystery readers overlapped on their book taste a lot, even though there were no books that scratched both itches. I thought I'd dig up a geek-themed mystery to add to the library, but I couldn't find anything. The book I was looking for didn't seem to exist, which was unbelievable to me.

So, I wrote it.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Max:  I am a panster through and through. Even when I try to plot, things go off the rails. I feel like comic writing is like doing a good improv, except that you are doing all the parts and you can go back if you mess up. Things usually get very silly, very quickly.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Max:  I have a tendency to go too big. My first drafts always start off with too many characters, and I have to cut them down as I go.. (The first draft of this interview had three people in it.) I get there, but my path is littered with bodies along the way.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Max:  My heart belongs to the stylists-- Raymond Chandler, P.G. Wodehouse, Ngaio Marsh, Raymond Carver -- writers that you instantly recognize because they have voices that jump right out at you. It's funny, because they don't necessarily have voices that that are similar to each other. I think perhaps I just appreciate their confidence. Also, most of them are funny, especially Raymond Chandler, who really doesn't get enough credit for his comedy writing. .



TQDescribe The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss in 140 characters or less.

Max:  An inept detective; a stolen weapon from an online game, a Jigglypuff cap and MURDER.



TQTell us something about The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss that is not found in the book description.

Max:  The climax of the book takes place at a Con, and is a very loving send-up of Con culture, both good and bad. If you've ever gone to an overcrowded con and thought about killing someone, this is the book for you.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss?

Max:  Aside from just thinking that it would be a nice addition to my library, I really wanted to have a book that was for geeks, by geeks. I often feel that geek characters get consigned to being sidekicks, or else they have their actions commented on by disapproving non-geek characters. I was sort of thinking: to hell with all that. Dahlia Moss is a book that's supposed to feel like you're at ComicCon or PAX-- a safe, warm, crazy place where you know that you're among your own people. It's like a hug, or perhaps a Vulcan salute, assuming the Vulcan in question was drunk and prone to saying things like "I love you, man."



TQWhat is your current favorite MMORPG?

Max:  The best MMO still is World of Warcraft, which is an unimaginative answer, but quantifiably true. My all time favorite, though, was City of Heroes, which I thought was a wonderful, weird, game that that really let players be creative. You really could spend days in the character generator, inventing your own superhero with ridiculous powers and insane cosplay. My main character in that game was Hester Prynne, who had hellfire themed powers. Her costume was ridiculous, with flames running up her legs and, of course, a scarlet 'A'. I remember running into a player who who role-playing as Sir Issac Newton and thinking: these are my people.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss?

Max:  Don't laugh, but I read quite a bit about Pokemon. One thing I was careful about was making sure that Dahlia didn't have exactly the same geek interests that I did, and let her have her own geek hobbies. To be sure, this was all deeply pleasurable research.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Max:  I find Charice, Dahlia's somewhat overdramatic roommate, very easy to write. As the parent of a four-year-old, I think I'm generally tamping down on chaos and so it's very freeing, as I do when I write Charice, to just let it run free.

The trickiest character is Detective Anson Shuler, whom I adore, but runs absolutely ram shod over any notion of plot I have. He was initially supposed to be in a single scene and then disappear forever-- his name is a Magic the Gathering joke, which should give you an idea how much currency I expected him to have-- and yet each time I revised the novel he made more space for himself. This continues to be true in the sequel. I quite like writing him, but it can be frustrating when he does not steer the novel in the direction I would want.



TQ Which question about The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Max:  I keep anticipating the question: "Just who the hell do you think you are?" which I feel certain that someone will pose, probably while throwing a drink at me. It hasn't happened yet, however. Maybe we could do it anyway, just so I won't be nervous anymore.
TQ: Just who the hell do you think you are? (throws drink, which is tricky to manage over the internet)

Max: I'm no one! No one I tell you! (sobs)
Wow, that was actually really freeing. I'm glad we did it. I feel liberated.

TQ Note: No authors were harmed virtually or otherwise in the posing of that question.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines/paragraphs from The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss.

Max:

I got up and Nathan stood quickly, stashing his bento box back into his bag. I was all but

physically shuffling him out the room, but he was stalling me. If he were a Pokémon,

this would have been where he revealed his super-effective stat reduction on me. He made pouty

eyes and scratched at his neck.

This worked surprisingly well.

“Don’t laugh, but I kind of wanted to hang out with a private detective,” he explained.

His embarrassment lasted nanoseconds, and he was bright again. “Makes you feel like you’re in

on something. You know, put the squeeze on the old up and down. Derrick the gin mill.

Hoosegow the bean shooters.”

“You’re just stringing together nonsense words.”

“Maybe,” said Nathan. “But you have to grant that I’ve got the cadence down.”



TQWhat's next?

Max:  There at least two more books coming up in the Dahlia Moss series. Astonishing Mistakes will come out next year, and is a riff on the alpha-male culture of fighting game tournaments. Also I make fun of Twitch a lot-- the streaming service, not the hip-hop dancer. Charice gets engaged, Shuler gets sloshed, and Dahlia is knocked off a steamboat. It's a good time.

I'm also brewing up a fantasy novel that's lightly inspired by It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Instead of Ethel Merman, there's a talking skeleton. (As I consider that sentence I realize it looks like some kind of madlib, but this is actually a thing that is happening.)



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Redhook / Orbit, October 20, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
For fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.

The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.

Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she's not living her best life. But that's all about to change.

Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she's offered a job. A job that she's woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).

Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she's just the girl to deal with them.





About Max

Interview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Photo by Elizabeth Frantz
Max Wirestone is a librarian in a small New Hampshire town. He lives in New England with his editor-husband and his non-editor son. Find him @maxwires.













Website


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


M.H. Boroson

The Girl with Ghost Eyes
Talos Press, November 3, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

Interview with Nadine Darling, author of She Came From Beyond!


Please welcome Nadine Darling to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. She Came From Beyond! was published on October 13th by The Overlook Press.



Interview with Nadine Darling, author of She Came From Beyond!




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Nadine:  My goodness, thank you so much for having me! I've always written, for as long as could actually write. My mom was a big reader; my first trip out was a trip to the library. I remember she and my sister discussing books and there was such an importance there, and I was very drawn to that, to how consumed they were by books. I remember my mom telling us the ending to Stephen King's Pet Semetary, for instance. I must have been all of six. And I still remember the ending, not reading it, but the way she described it. I had my little fan-fiction down, too, in middle and high school. I'm glad it doesn't exist anymore but it was super earnest. My Lost Boys fan-fiction. Young Guns. And years and years of Backdraft fan-fiction. Of course we didn't call it fan fiction then, and there was no real means to share it. I just thought I was a nerd. And, I was, really.



TQAre you a plotter, pantser or hybrid?

Nadine:  I just go. I sit, I put on my music, and I get the words on the paper. I'll go back later and clean it up, but I am a big advocate for just writing whatever it is in an almost stream of consciousness way.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Nadine:  Time. I have a one year old, a two year old, a six year old and four stepkids aged 12-19. Which is probably why I write the way I do, as though something is chasing me. I don't have the luxury of meandering through it.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Nadine:  Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Myfanwy Collins.



TQDescribe She Came from Beyond! in 140 characters or less.

Nadine:  Oh, gosh. "Dumbass falls in love. Plus movies. Good times. Oregon."



TQTell us something about She Came from Beyond! that is not found in the book description.

Nadine:  I will tell you something very special about it. Its publication date is the two year anniversary of my mother's death from a brain tumor. My editor told me October, and I looked at all the Tuesdays in October, one of which was the 13th. I thought, hmmm. And of course that was the date. Of course.



TQ: What inspired you to write She Came from Beyond! ?

Nadine:  I was a short story writer, and I was interested in writing a novel because I didn't know if I could do it. I was afraid it would be choppy and that it would have no flow, so I just sort of took it chapter by chapter. I was as surprised as anyone! I wanted to write about being a stepmother because it's so strange, it's such a strange role to play. My stepkids have a mother and a father who are completely present and loving, so that makes what I do a sort of a glorified babysitting, kind of. At least when they were babies. Now we're friends. The evolution of it is very mysterious and beautiful. My relationship with my stepkids is incredibly complex and rewarding.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for She Came from Beyond! ?

Nadine:  Not much. I wrote about things that I know a lot about- Oregon, bad movies, being pregnant, mental illness, being in love. It flowed fairly naturally.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Nadine:  The easiest was Easy, the main character! She was me, in a lot of ways, with all her flaws and anxieties and the way that the things in her life were always reminding her of vague references from movies or songs, or whatever. My sister, Kelly, and I we have a Simpsons quote for everything. Everything. And if I'm alone and I can't tell anyone about it- that's the absolute worst! The hardest character was Harrison's- Harrison is the male lead- wife, Joan, because she was super complex, a character unlike any I'd ever met. She was patched together from different people, like my dad and my dad's dad and even myself. She's really smart and funny but she has limitations, and yet she's really honest about those limitations. I never knew what she was going to do from chapter to chapter, and she's absolutely nothing like my husband's ex-wife, whom I adore.



TQWhich question about She Came from Beyond! do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Nadine:  Well, hmmmm. I guess I'd like someone to ask about the writing of it, the finding of an agent, and the selling of the book, so I could tell them not to worry about it. It's scary, right? Sometimes people talk to me as though I've walked on the moon when they talk about publishing, and it's not like that because, at least for me, it happened very gradually. And it should be fun. There is rejection, and that part of it can be discouraging, but I completely believe that it's within reach. It's the old cliche: attitude is everything.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from She Came from Beyond!.

Nadine:  I can't, I'm so sorry. I'd love to, but I don't actually have a copy of the book with me, or even a galley! The lines that I like, though, are the ones that I forgot I'd wrote that make me laugh. Sometimes I can see a little swagger in a line and I like that because I know that when I wrote it, I wrote for myself and not for effect or whatever. I like the section I wrote about the fictional Oregon town where the story takes place, Troubadour. The town is a character, always broke, always lovable.



TQWhat's next?

Nadine:  Top secret! No, not really. A trilogy. Very cool. More about Troubadour. Maybe some character overlapping. I like easter eggs. I want people to read the new books and then go back to SCFB! and say, "wait a minute...."



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Nadine:  It has been my pleasure! Thank you, again!





She Came From Beyond!
The Overlook Press, October 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages

Interview with Nadine Darling, author of She Came From Beyond!
A darkly comic debut novel, a hilariously told story of love, attachment, anxiety, and nerd culture.

Easy Hardwick has it made. At just about thirty, she’s got a tumbledown cottage in small-town Oregon and an uncomplicated acting gig as the space-babe eye candy on a sci-fi parody show. She spends her downtime online, bickering with fans and fellow culture vultures about film trivia and relishing her minor-but-satisfying celebrity.

Enter Harrison. What begins as a jocular online flirtation spills into a messy IRL affair, and Easy finds herself pregnant with twins and sharing her home with the love of her life…plus the teenage daughter, baby son, and slightly unhinged, soon-to-be-ex wife she kind of didn’t totally know he had.

Easy may play a space ditz in hot-pants on TV, but her voice is restlessly intelligent, negotiating the absurdities of a world lived onscreen and online and striving to make sense of heady problems: love affairs, ex-wives, teen girls, eating disorders, and whether cannibalistic flies count as zombies. Like the captive great white shark that sets Easy’s story in motion, Nadine Darling’s writing has got teeth. Her pointed, precise dialogue, empathetic insights, and live-wire observations elevate this novel from zany domestic drama to outlandish comic masterpiece. She Came From Beyond! is an audacious, fresh debut from a writer to watch.





About Nadine

Nadine Darling's short fiction has appeared in Night Train, Edifice Wrecked, Eyeshot, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Per Contra. She lives in Boston with her family.

Website  ~  Tumblr  ~  Twitter @darling_nadine


Interview with Tony Peak, author of Inherit the Stars2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Ark by Patrick S. Tomlinson2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. ScherInterview with Michelle Belanger, author of Conspiracy of Angels2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Night Clock by Paul MeloyInterview with Max Wirestone, author of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. BorosonInterview with Nadine Darling, author of She Came From Beyond!

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