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Interview with Dave Bara, author of Impulse - February 3, 2015


Please welcome Dave Bara to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Impulse is published on February 3rd by DAW.  Please join The Qwillery in wishing Dave a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Dave Bara, author of Impulse - February 3, 2015




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

Dave:  I started writing as a kid, mostly Star Trek type stuff, then I got more serious in college. I even used a novel project for college credit.

As to why, I'd just say it was always in my blood. My earliest memories are of watching the US space program missions on TV, plus Star Trek, Lost In Space, Outer Limits, etc. It's like I was born to be a writer,



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Dave:  I'm a total pantser. I write a 2-3 page story treatment, but then I just get straight to the writing. I do add bullet points as I go, to flesh things out, but that's about as far as I go, outline-wise.



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

Dave:  Just getting the time. Most of us writers have day jobs, some even have families and kids. I don't know how they do it. I steal time wherever I can get it, when I'm in the groove.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Dave:  I think like most authors of my generation I was heavily influenced by Herbert, Asimov, Clarke, Dickson, Pohl, Poul Anderson, Joe Haldeman, and Niven & Pournelle.



TQ: Describe Impulse in 140 characters or less.

Dave:  It's a character-driven action/adventure story about a young man coming of age under very difficult circumstances. With spaceships. And explosions.



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

Dave:  There is a secret war going on behind the scenes, and eventually our characters will figure that out.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Impulse? What appealed to you about writing military science fiction?

Dave:  I always wanted to do a ship-based series, putting characters out in the unknown with everything on the line. Military SF gave me the structure to frame the conflicts I wanted bring out in both the characters and the universe.



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

Dave:  I'm a pantser! We don't do research! Lol, I did spend some time on Google though, I have to admit. One funny story is that I had given my characters energy weapons called "coil rifles". Then one day I Googled "COIL" and it turns out it's a real weapon! Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser! Who would've thought?



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

Dave:  Peter was easiest because he was in my mind the longest. Dobrina was probably the hardest because I wanted to write a strong woman, but not make her overly masculine. Had some good conversations with my editor, Sheila Gilbert, over her character.



TQ:  Which question about Impulse do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Dave:  What's going to happen between Peter and Dobrina? A - You'll have to read book II to find out!



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Impulse.

Dave:  My favorite line is from Captain Zander, Peter's first commander: "It’s no fun putting your life on the line with atheists in space."



TQ:  What's next?

Dave:  STARBOUND is next up in January of '16! There will be an excerpt published in the DAW mass market edition of IMPULSE that comes out in December. It's fun and it takes all our characters to another level.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dave:  It was great. Thanks for having me.





Impulse
The Lightship Chronicles 1
DAW, February 3, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Dave Bara, author of Impulse - February 3, 2015
Lieutenant Peter Cochrane of the Quantar Royal Navy believes he has his future clearly mapped out. It begins with his new assignment as an officer on Her Majesty’s Spaceship Starbound, a Lightship bound for deep space voyages of exploration.

But everything changes when Peter is summoned to the office of his father, Grand Admiral Nathan Cochrane, and given devastating news: the death of a loved one. In a distant solar system, a mysterious and unprovoked attack upon Lightship Impulse resulted in the deaths of Peter’s former girlfriend and many of her shipmates.

Now Peter’s plans are torn asunder as he is transferred to a Unified Space Navy ship under foreign command, en route to an unexpected destination, and surrounded almost entirely by strangers. To top it off, his superiors have given him secret orders that might force him to become a mutineer.

The crisis at hand becomes a gateway to something much more when the ship’s Historian leads Peter and his shipmates into a galaxy of the unknown — of ancient technologies, age-old rivalries, new cultures, and unexpected romance. It’s an overwhelming responsibility for Peter, and one false step could plunge humanity into an apocalyptic interstellar war….





About Dave

Interview with Dave Bara, author of Impulse - February 3, 2015
Dave Bara has always loved space programs, astronauts, and science fiction. His writing is influenced by Herbert and Asimov, among many others. His Lightship Chronicles series launches a writing career sure to be full of heroic characters and intergalactic adventures. Learn more about Dave by visiting his website: http://davebara.com/





Website  ~ Facebook

Twitter @davebaraauthor



Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca, author of The Thorn of Dentonhill - February 1, 2015


Please welcome Marshall Ryan Maresca to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Thorn of Dentonhill will be published on February 3rd by DAW.



Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca, author of The Thorn of Dentonhill - February 1, 2015




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

Marshall:  I’ve been drawn to writing from an early age. In seventh grade I tried writing a huge fantasy epic called “The Last Righon”, even though when I started I had no idea what a ‘RIghon’ was or what the significance of the last one meant. But it sounded epic. I couldn’t resist the urge to come up with stories.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Marshall:  Definitely a plotter. I love my outlines. I even worked out a whole structure for them. At one point, early on in my writing attempts, I had a romantic idea of pantsing— it sounds so thrilling! Just go where the writing takes you! I found out it takes me nowhere. I need to have a plan about where I’m going.



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

Marshall:  Getting myself into the rhythm on a daily basis. On any given day, getting those first hundred words is like starting the car on a frigid day. Once my engine gets warmed up, then the words are flying like arrows at Agincourt.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Marshall:  Early influences include Zilpha Keatly Snyder, David Eddings and Isaac Asimov. I just devoured Asimov as a teenager. Right now I’ve been reading John Scalzi a lot. Plus I have an enormous “too read” pile, especially for genre stuff.



TQ:  Describe The Thorn of Dentonhill in 140 characters or less.

Marshall:  Student by day, hero by night fights drug dealers, assassins and evil mages with magic, quick wits and moxie.



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

Marshall:  There’s plenty of food in Thorn. Magic burns calories, so Veranix is hungry almost all the time. You might want to have snacks nearby when you read it.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Thorn of Dentonhill? What appealed to you about writing a fantasy novel featuring both organized crime and academia?

Marshall:  It partly came from wanting to take the thief-hero tropes in fantasy and turn them a bit on their ear, and thinking along those lines led me to the superhero tropes, especially the street-level types like Spiderman and Daredevil. And one recurring concept in those tropes is the hero having some grounding, a responsibility that keeps them from just being in hero mode full time. An academic life that couldn’t be ignored felt like the best fit, and from that Veranix came together as a vibrant protagonist that I had to write about.



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

Marshall:  I studied cities: how they grow, how they break into neighborhoods, how the people of the neighborhoods define its character. I spent some time in Mexico City, observing those kinds of rhythms. For example, the neighborhood of Coyoacan in Mexico City is a relatively safe district with a lot of historic architecture, where you’ll see groups of young men working the street in a unique way: if you’re trying to park your car, for example, they’ll run ahead, find a spot for you, make sure you get in all right. Things like that: nothing illegal or even shady, just being helpful. And you tip them for their help— help you didn’t necessarily ask for or need, but you tip them just the same. A lot of the character of the Rose Street Princes and other gangs in the Aventil neighborhood came from these observations.



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

Marshall:  Veranix is the easiest, by far. When I sat down to work on the sequel to Thorn after having been “away” from him for a while (I wrote A Murder of Mages and a few other things after finishing Thorn), writing Veranix again was like putting on a comfortable sweater. Colin is probably the hardest, because he’s got loyalties pulling him in different directions and mixed feelings about Veranix, so finding the balance of what he wants to do, what he needs to do, and what he can’t let himself do is challenging.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Marshall:  You mean, what is the correct pronunciation of “Veranix”? I’m glad you asked! (I’ve already heard it mangled several ways.) Veranix has the same vowels and stresses as “therapist”.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Thorn of Dentonhill.

Marshall

         “If you ask me, the Blue Hand are especially odious. A little boys club, if you get my drift, and they all nearly worship their leader. Disturbing man. I only met him once, and it was two times too many.”

         Delmin leaned in to the prefect. “Listen, what would you rather have, two annoyed, hungry mages, or two mages who owe you a favor?” The prefect thought about this for a minute, and then opened the door.



TQ:  What's next?

Marshall:  Next up is A Murder of Mages, which is not a sequel to Thorn, but the start of a separate series also set in the city of Maradaine. The two books do have some interconnectivity, though. A Murder of Mages follows two constabulary inspectors as they try to solve a gruesome series of murders. It’s coming out July 7th.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Marshall:  Thanks for having me!





The Thorn of Dentonhill
Maradaine 1
DAW, February 3, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca, author of The Thorn of Dentonhill - February 1, 2015
Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle. Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.




About Marshall

Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State.  He now lives Austin with his wife and son.  His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef.  The Thorn of Dentonhill is his debut novel. DAW will also be publishing A Murder of Mages, the first novel in Marshall’s second fantasy series, set in the city of Maradaine. For more information, visit Marshall’s website at www.mrmaresca.com.

Website  ~  Twitter @marshallmaresca

Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015


Please welcome Kristi Charish to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Owl and the Japanese Circus was published on January 13th by Gallery Books.



Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015




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

Kristi:  Oddly enough I only started writing about 5 years ago, February 2010 to be exact. As to why, I was in the process of writing up my PhD thesis and hated it. I’d always loved books and wanted to write fiction, but I’d never had the courage to actually try. I traded off an hour of thesis writing with an hour of fiction writing (turned into two hours fiction, one hour thesis). Once I started I couldn’t stop and so here I am five years later, almost to the day.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Kristi:  Total pantser all the way. ☺



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

Kristi:  Hmmm. Time is always a huge factor, especially at the moment with OWL being a new release, but in general for me it’s pushing through the parts I don’t think are going that great. There’s a real temptation to stop but the only way to make progress is finish the story. I can always go back and fix it later.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Kristi:  In the UF arena I’m a huge fan of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong (she’s Canadian too!), Charlaine Harris, and Diana Rowland. They’ve all influenced my writing in some way and are all on my auto-buy lists.

Outside urban fantasy, some of my favorite authors and influences are Ian Hamilton (Ava Lee series- another Canadian!), James Clavell (King Rat, Tai Pan).

I also love 80’s style adventure movies like Indiana Jones, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Mummy. They are huge influences on my writing.



TQ:  Describe Owl and the Japanese Circus in 140 characters or less.

Kristi:  Owl: Fun adventure staring a modern ‘Indiana Jane’ who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.



TQ:  Tell us something about Owl and the Japanese Circus that is not in the book description.

Kristi:  The biggest omission from the back cover (that isn’t a spoiler) is that Owl has a Mau cat named Captain who accompanies her everywhere. He also smells out vampires and takes hunting them down a little too seriously. He’s not mentioned in the book description but has fast become many reader’s favorite character.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Owl and the Japanese Circus? Why an ex-archaeology grad student?

Kristi:  I had been struggling for a bit with third person narrative and really wanted to try something in first person. I had just finished a writing prompt exercise for a writing course (where the prompt was ‘When death’s clowns came for me’) and had also just finished reading a mystery novel called ‘The Water Rat of Wanchai’ by Ian Hamilton (Ava Lee series). It was the first mystery I’d read in a while and I thought wouldn’t it be great to write something like that! Prompt and mystery novel idea in hand, I started writing about an antiquities thief...with absolutely no monsters. It was going to be a normal book, a break from fantasy...

That lasted all of twenty pages when I realized I’d accidentally written a dragon into the novel.

There are a few other influences that came into writing Owl past that first chapter – most notably Indiana Jones – but that’s how it got started ☺

As to the archaeology background, when I first started university I was actually enrolled in Anthropology/Archaeology. I lasted about a year before I realized it really wasn’t like Indiana Jones and switched to genetics. I guess this is my way of living out vicariously my undergrad Indiana Jones fantasy.



TQ:  Your biography states that you are a scientist whose specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology. How does this influence and add to your writing (or not)?

Kristi:  Being a biologist influences my writing hugely – but not in the way you might think. I certainly use my background to add in plausible scientific explanations and details for monsters (if you accept the idea there could be vampires how would they work, etc.), but the problem solving that goes into designing experiments in a lab is probably the aspect of my science training that I use the most when plotting out my novels and trouble shooting logic issues.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Owl and the Japanese Circus?

Kristi:  As far as research goes, I went lighter on techniques and heavy on researching mythology and the archaeological sites Alix/Owl visits. It was a conscious choice to keep inline with the adventure genre. Plot always comes first when I write and after that comes the mythology and accuracy. I did spend a great deal of time referencing Balinese and Japanese mythology and archaeology sites and in most cases I tried to match the plot to mythology that made the most sense.

Google Maps was also my best friend. You can trip plan travel between Tokyo stations and street view is a glorious thing.



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

Kristi:  

Easiest: Owl. She’s a fun character with next to no filter and writing from her perspective is a blast. There is something very freeing about sticking yourself in the head of someone who just doesn’t give a F*&k what people think ;-)

Hardest: Owl’s cat, Captain, but he’s also one of my favorites. He’s tricky because there’s no dialogue to fall back on and...well...he’s a cat. I ended up basing a lot of Captain’s behaviors on my own 20 lb Ragdoll monster.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kristi:  The one about Alix’s grad school experience and whether it’s based on mine – (in the book hers is a resounding disaster).

Answer: Man was I ever worried what would happen if/when my old lab read this! Though some of the details about how the academic machine works are coloured by my own experiences (lost thesis a week before a defense anyone?), on the whole my time as a grad student was pretty great. In fact, I’m still working on finishing a paper with my old lab and visit regularly so I can keep one foot in the research science door.

But... there are stories supervisors tell their students. About labs where experiments go awry for no reason and controls disappear overnight. Where grad students are pitted against grad student and sabotage is par for the course. Those stories, always whispered in confidence at conferences, are what I based Alix’s academic experience on.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Owl and the Japanese Circus.

Kristi:

‘He feinted back and pulled on the leash in an attempt to break my hold and get back to Charles. Nope, not desensitized. Getting better at manipulation.’

‘People are real happy to make friends with you when a two-thousand-year-old mummy knocks off half their team, but returning the favor always pisses them off. No one likes to pay up out of the goodness of their heart; that’s why I usually get cash up front.’



TQ:  What's next?

Kristi:  Next January (2016) the sequel to OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS. It sees Owl settling into her new job as a contract thief for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa (with mixed results) when he sets his sights on a trio of artifacts sitting in a Los Angeles recluse’s private collection. Owl is sent to fetch them and finds out that the City of Angels is anything but. For reviewers out there ARCs should be available sometime this summer.

I also had Random House Canada pick up my second UF series, KINCAID STRANGE, which is coming out May 2016.

It’s about a voodoo practitioner named Kincaid Strange who lives in Seattle with her roommate, the ghost of deceased 90’s grunge rocker, Nathan Cade. More about the plot later this year but it involves murder, ghost mayhem, and voodoo zombies!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kristi:  Thanks for having me!





Owl and the Japanese Circus
Owl 1
Gallery Books, January 13, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015
Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.





About Kristi

Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015
Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Jan 2016. Her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practioner living in Seattle, is scheduled for release mid 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @kristicharish  ~  Google+

Interview with Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita - January 28, 2015


Please welcome Hilary Scharper to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Perdita was published on January 20th by Sourcebooks Landmark.



Interview with Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita - January 28, 2015




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

Hilary:  For many years—and like many people it seems—I dreamed about becoming a writer, especially a writer of fiction. Then I hit the age of 40—big shock! I hadn’t (magically) become a writer! And more, I hadn’t really even started the novel I’d always wanted to write. So I went off and began to think about why I hadn’t written “my novel.” Of course I’d been doing other things (namely being a mother, a wife, becoming a university professor), but I tried very hard not to “beat myself up” with accusations of laziness, distraction, procrastination, etc. As result, I realized that there was a dynamic at work in my life—something I called the clearing-the-decks syndrome.

The clearing-the-decks syndrome came from the belief that I had to get everything else done, organized and set BEFORE I could start writing fiction. But the problem was I hardly ever had any moments in my life that resembled a clear deck. (And if I did have them, I usually used quiet moments for reading and enjoying a novel!)

I think that once I realized that a novel was going to have to come out of the “weather” of my life and not clear decks, I discovered a sense of direction and purpose...and just started writing.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Hilary:  I guess I am a bit of both.

I feel that a story is somewhere between my imagination and…something else. (In fact, in my Acknowledgements for Perdita I thank Georgian Bay as a co-author.) To be in that imaginative, co-creative space of the story, I need to be a bit of a “pantser.”

On the other hand, I’ve have to plan, craft and carefully think through things like plot and character development. Even when there are “loose ends” they must be parts of the story that are “skillfully” left open. This definitely requires a “plotter.”



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

Hilary:  Finding time to write!

I’ve since talked to other writers about this dynamic: of trying to establish creative time out of the bits and prices of our lives that are somehow seen as “leftovers,” i.e., as time we have after we’ve done everything else. The thing I discovered was to stop thinking about fiction writing in terms of “left-overs.” Once I took it as a serious and central part of my life, I began to find the time for it.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Hilary:  My reading interests are very wide, but I have a special place in my heart for late 19th century literary classics. At the moment I am exploring “the gothic” and going back into the mid to late 1700s to explore how nature was depicted in some of the earliest gothic novels (Castle of Otranto, The Romance of the Forest, Zofloya, etc.). It’s been fascinating and I’ve been struck by how many women writers turned to the gothic to both critique and confound the rigid social codes of their lives. The gothic genre still does this for us….



TQ:  Describe Perdita in 140 characters or less.

Hilary:  Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’s ready to go if it weren’t for a mysterious presence she calls Perdita. Garth Heller of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged, but reading her diaries from the 1890s might just change his mind.



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

Hilary:  There were many sources of inspiration for Perdita: Greek mythology, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, my own interest in aging and longevity, to name a few. One important source, however, was an old photograph. It was of the lighthouse where I was staying for a summer vacation, but taken over 100 years earlier.

Interview with Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita - January 28, 2015
Cabot Head Lighthouse, northern Ontario, Canada, c. 1900.



















From the very first, I found myself drawn to the young woman standing in the doorway looking out across the landscape and contemplating the remoteness of her location. Somehow I felt as if I could hear her thoughts. Yet it seemed to me that the wind was pulling at her skirts, inviting her to step out into the wild beauty of her “home.” As I wondered what the woman in the photograph did…step outside or go back inside?…the story of Perdita came to me.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Perdita? Perdita has been described as eco-gothic. What is eco-gothic?

Hilary:  The "Eco-Gothic" is a term that my husband came up with after reading a draft of my novel. At the time, he was being a little tongue-in-cheek, but as we both thought about it, we grew to like the term more and more. Soon I began to think about it quite seriously.

The “eco” in my work is distinctive in that it builds on the Gothic’s depiction of Nature as more than a backdrop for plot or character. Rather, Eco-Gothic Nature is a living, acting, creating, and unfolding “other.” It is a Nature that is alive, unpredictable, and certainly capable of influencing events.

More on the eco-gothic: http://perditanovel.com/the-eco-gothic-2/



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

Hilary:  I had to do research in many different areas for Perdita.

First and foremost were lighthouses and Great Lakes shipping, shipwrecks and nautical lore. Much of this was done at the Cabot Head lighthouse where I was staying as an assistant lighthouse-keeper with my husband and young son.

Perdita also has a long section that takes place in Toronto at the turn of the last century. I did quite a bit of research for this, particularly by looking at maps and archival images in order to get a better feel for what it would be like to not only live in, but also move around a 19th century city.

Lastly there was research on mythology and then longevity. The first took me deep into Homer, Hesiod and Greek philosophical lexicons, and the latter into scientific research on aging.



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

Hilary:  An interesting question! I’m not sure how to answer this. Marged Brice came very easily to me because she was the first character to arrive and defined the story. Garth Hellyer certainly had his moments of challenge because I wanted to keep him reserved and cautious in contrast to Marged.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Hilary:  What does Perdita mean?

Perdita is Latin for “the lost one.” In my novel, Perdita is a mythological figure—the lost child—and she also represents the possibility of “being found.”

I drew on both Greek mythology and Shakespeare to develop her character. In Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale, for example, Perdita is a child who is “lost” owing to the blind and cruel jealousy of her father. Yet she is also “found” through loving acts of rescue, forgiveness and ultimately self-realization. In order to lose and find “a Perdita,” then, one must first become aware of who or what is lost (including the possibility of being lost yourself).

Ultimately this is the problem for my character, Garth Hellyer. He is a jaded professor and a longevity researcher and he’s convinced that it’s the 134-year-old Marged Brice who is the “lost one.” Marged, however, has her own views and thinks that Garth is really the “lost one”—to himself and to the possibilities of love in his life. This is why Marged insists that Garth stick with the question he asks her at their first meeting: who is Perdita? It is also a central question for the reader.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Perdita.

Hilary:

“Yes. But I want to know—and you must tell me. What would your trees say about you?” she demanded. “Would your trees tell me to trust you?”

“Their words tested each other in a way that intrigued me: each man with his own hammer striking the other’s surface with skill and listening for the true ring of steel. At times they did it with seriousness and at others with humor, but I felt them drawing out that deep sound from one another…the sound of a good man.”



TQ:  What's next?

Hilary:  I have a second novel finished (titled “Immanence”) and I am also working on sequel to “Perdita” (tentatively titled “Lonely Island.”) In the second volume, Marged Brice journeys to a lighthouse on a remote island and is asked to assist in the care of an ill and bed-ridden light-keepers’s wife.

George, Andrew Reid, Tad, Allan and Dr. McTavish all reappear in the story, and there are some new characters in the form of (possibly) unsavory passengers rescued during a dramatic shipwreck….



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Hilary:  Many thanks to you—it was a pleasure to answer these engaging questions!





Perdita
Sourcebooks Landmark, January 20, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita - January 28, 2015
Marged Brice is 134 years old.
She’d be ready to go, if it wasn’t for Perdita . . .


The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death.
It’s life that’s much more mysterious…





About Hilary

Interview with Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita - January 28, 2015
I am a Canadian author, living in Toronto. My husband and I have spent over a decade as assistant lighthouse-keepers and stewards at the Cabot Head Lighthouse and Bird Observatory, located on the northern Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. My major published works of fiction include a novel, Perdita (which draws on my experiences at Cabot Head), and a short story collection, Dream Dresses. I am also an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.



Website  ~  Twitter @HilaryScharper


Interview with Robert Repino, author of Mort(e) - January 20, 2015


Please welcome Robert Repino to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Mort(e) is published by Soho Press on January 20, 2015. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Robert a Happy Publication Day.



Interview with Robert Repino, author of Mort(e) - January 20, 2015




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

Robert:  I started writing for fun in grade school. Often I would take English class assignments and expand on them. Some of the plotlines included a superhero in the Middle Ages, a turkey uprising on the eve of Thanksgiving (I was mad when South Park did the same thing), a UFO abduction, a kid transforming into an ape, and a smuggling ring on a lunar colony. I also kept a journal, chronicling every day for over four years at one point. But then I stopped both the journaling and the fiction writing, and I really have no idea why. I genuinely liked writing, but perhaps I thought it was one of many uncool things I had to give up on the road to adulthood.

About halfway through college, I got the idea for a novel, and in the summer of 1998 I began plodding through it. I don’t recommend using the novel as a means of teaching yourself to write. Short stories are better for that, as evidenced by the fact that I made it 50,000 words into my novel and quit. I estimated I had completed only part one of a five-part book! But from then on, I knew I could write a novel if I planned it better and stuck to it. When I was in the Peace Corps, I finished a book that eventually became my MFA thesis. I wrote two more before Mort(e), and they both went through the literary agent runaround before I shelved them. Still, after all of that, I had learned the basics of the craft.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Robert:  A plotter, and even more so after revising Mort(e) for several years. At the very least, I always have a list of the forthcoming chapters along with what needs to happen in each. That’s usually enough, and it makes it so that I at least know what I have to accomplish in a sitting, even if I don’t yet know how I’ll do it.



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

Robert:  It’s always character development, especially since I write stories that have a plot. I thus have to make some hard choices and compromises in order to keep things moving, and I get very paranoid about leaving something out. And really, it’s finding the right balance between exposition versus action, and staying in a person’s head versus letting the plot unfold. I always feel I’m summarizing when I should be exploring, or that I’m giving backstory when it’s time to get on with the main story. I never feel I’m getting it right.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Robert:  I wish I had a more exciting and less predictable answer, but Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, George Orwell, Kurt Vonnegut, and Cormac McCarthy all come to mind. Orwell is especially important to me, not simply because he wrote about talking animals, but also because I identify with his philosophy of writing, which emphasized clarity over all else. There are other authors I encountered at just the right time in my life. I came across The Dark Tower during a terrible blizzard and spent the next few days in near total isolation reading it. I read Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as part of a history class on European imperialism. I read The Plague by Camus in college, and I find its discussion of the problem of evil to be among the most profound I have ever encountered.



TQ:  Describe Mort(e) in 140 characters or less.

Robert:  After the war between animals and humans, a sentient warrior cat searches for a lost friend, with the future of all life in the balance.



TQ:  Tell us something about Mort(e) that is not in the book description.

Robert:  There’s a giant, solar-powered zeppelin that looks a little like that metallic bean sculpture in Chicago.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Mort(e)? What appealed to you about writing a post-apocalyptic novel?

Robert:  The idea came to me in a dream, in which I saw animals walking on two feet and hunting humans. Over the next few months, I refined the idea, putting a vengeful ant queen in charge of the uprising. Eventually, I added other themes that had been brewing in my mind for years, from the long-term effects of war to interspecies relations to the births and deaths of religions.

Really, I’ve always wanted to write a post-apocalyptic story. I realize they are having a moment in both literature and film. For me, that moment has been going on for the last thirty years. All stories involve some change to the status quo that sets the events in motion; with this genre, the status quo gets completely overturned, and peoples lives are overturned with it.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Mort(e)?

Robert:  I just wrote an extended essay for Necessary Fiction (http://necessaryfiction.com/blog/?c=researchnotes) that discusses this in far more detail than I can go into here. The short version is that I had to learn quickly about ant colony behavior, dog fighting techniques, and military lingo. I also read a lot of fiction and watched movies that had sympathetic monsters in them. In my story, even the rebellious ant queen is worthy of our respect.



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

Robert:  Culdesac, a bobcat who fights for the Queen, was perhaps the easiest to write because he is the most driven and focused. His motivation is clear, and he does not waver. In a way, Culdesac is the most admirable character in the book, someone who stands by his principles no matter what. And because of that, the few times he breaks character and shows tenderness or mercy were fun to write. They provide a convincing way to reveal Culdesac as a person who has suffered a great deal, and who believes that the war is the only way to right the wrongs of the past. He is a victim of the war even as he revels in it.

The most difficult character to write was the pit bull Wawa, Culdesac’s second in command. Wawa also has a traumatic past, having grown up in a dog-fighting ring before the animal uprising. Unlike Culdesac, Wawa transforms a great deal in the story. She not only shifts her allegiance, but also lets her guard down. The challenge was to construct a coherent arc for her, so that she was not simply a means to help the main character to continue on the journey. In other words, I needed to give Wawa a throughline that could be lifted out of the book and given its own novella of sorts. Wawa’s sections were among the last to be written and revised, but the effort turned out to be worth it. To develop her more fully, I gave her some hard choices to make, and then forced her to act on them.



TQ:  Which question about Mort(e) do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Robert:  I like it when people ask me something along the lines of: “What are you trying to say about religious belief with this book?”

Answer: A lot of stuff. I am fascinated by religious belief and practices, as well as their impact on culture and politics. In Mort(e), the animals believe that the human understanding of the gods, the afterlife, and their place in the universe makes them evil. And certainly, from the animals’ perspective, finding out that most humans regard themselves as the chosen species would breed fierce resentment. In that sense, both the protagonist Mort(e) and the Queen can be called atheists, although that word is never used in the book. But even though Mort(e) cannot share the beliefs of the humans he encounters, he recognizes the power of belief to unite people, and to help them make sense of tragedy. Right or wrong, Mort(e)’s rejection of the supernatural comes with a cost.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Mort(e).

Robert:

“You will avenge our people,
by the light of your wisdom
and the darkness of your heart.”



TQ:  What's next?

Robert:  Things are up in the air, but I am in the early stages of a sequel to Mort(e). In addition, I have a novella coming out with Amazon Kindle Singles in the spring titled Leap High Yahoo. I’m calling it an Occupy Wall Street science fiction story, and it centers around a guy hunting a runaway horse in an abandoned city.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Morte
Soho Press, January 20, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Robert Repino, author of Mort(e) - January 20, 2015
The “war with no name” has begun, with human extinction as its goal. The instigator of this war is the Colony, a race of intelligent ants who, for thousands of years, have been silently building an army that would forever eradicate the destructive, oppressive humans. Under the Colony's watchful eye, this utopia will be free of the humans' penchant for violence, exploitation and religious superstition. The final step in the Colony's war effort is transforming the surface animals into high-functioning two-legged beings who rise up to kill their masters.

Former housecat turned war hero, Mort(e) is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions and fighting the dreaded human bio-weapon EMSAH. But the true motivation behind his recklessness is his ongoing search for a pre-transformation friend—a dog named Sheba. When he receives a mysterious message from the dwindling human resistance claiming Sheba is alive, he begins a journey that will take him from the remaining human strongholds to the heart of the Colony, where he will discover the source of EMSAH and the ultimate fate of all of earth's creatures.





About Robert

Interview with Robert Repino, author of Mort(e) - January 20, 2015
Robert Repino grew up in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. After serving in the Peace Corps (Grenada 2000–2002), he earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Emerson College. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize among other awards, and has appeared in The Literary Review, Night Train, Hobart, Juked, Word Riot, The Furnace Review, The Coachella Review, JMWW, and the anthology Brevity and Echo (Rose Metal Press). Repino is the pitcher for the Oxford University Press softball team and quarterback for the flag football team, but his business card says that he’s an Editor. His debut novel Mort(e), a science fiction story about a war between animals and humans, is forthcoming from Soho Press in 2015.

Website  ~   Facebook  ~  Twitter @Repino1

Interview with Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - January 17, 2015


Please welcome Krassi Zourkova to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Wildalone was published by William Morrow on January 6, 2015. You may read a guest blog - Magic is a State of Mind - by Krassi here.



Interview with Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - January 17, 2015




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

Krassi:  I left my first marks in books when I was one year old. I’d grab a pen and start filling the pages with sweeping circles. To indulge me, my parents bought two copies of each book: one for me to ruin, and one to keep. The sensible writing came later: I wrote my first poem at age six. I don’t exactly recall what gave me the urge, but I think it had to do with my love for rhythm and rhyme, with a desire to invent my own magical, flowing word arrangements. Around that same time, I had started piano lessons. So everything was connected—my first forays into musicality and the power of harmonious sound to move the human soul, whether with words or without.





TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Krassi:  I’m a prankster. I plot, and then trick myself into going against plan. There’s no originality in method. And so, I invite chaos. Never take the reader where the reader wants to go. The thing is, though, the only “reader” while I write is my own mind. So I chase my psyche off track. It sounds a bit schizophrenic perhaps, but there you have it.





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

Krassi:  The gap between the world as I create it on the page and the reality that rarely measures up. For a few hours each day, I exist in a universe whose logic matches my value system. Everything adds up—the good, the bad. Or if it doesn’t, I twist the story and fix the equation. It’s addictive. And coming back down to earth can be quite a shock.





TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Krassi:  Many of them are poets: Neruda, García Lorca, Rilke. I try to write prose the way they write verse: fewer words, richer meaning. One critic accused my novel of “abstract poetics,” but I think this gives me too much credit. Most people find the book to be a page-turner, and fly through it in a few hours. I think that’s wonderful. If I’ve managed to weave action out of poetics, then I’m at peace with the muse.





TQ:  Describe Wildalone in 140 characters or less.

Krassi:  Ancient Greek rituals and Balkan witchcraft lead to murder and magic on a U.S. college campus.





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

Krassi:  There’s music in it. Lots and lots of music. Piano. Guitars. Even crickets at night. Music is what gives texture to the story.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Wildalone? What appealed to you about writing a novel with supernatural elements?

Krassi:  The legend of the wildalones had been haunting me for years. I had written a poem about them, about how even such vicious creatures are susceptible to falling in love, like the rest of us. As for the supernatural elements—I love magical realism. The novels of Gabriel García Márquez. Guillermo del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth. They all deal with that ineffable line beyond which the fantastical begins to seem possible.





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

Krassi:  A lot of it was art history—right up my alley. I also listened to a ton of classical music, choosing for the plot pieces that I thought would have a visceral impact even on readers with no formal musical background. I read volumes of poetry, and ended up doing my own translations of all poems in the book. But where I truly went out on a limb was the flamenco subplot: not only did I go to Spain and tour Andalusia for two weeks, I also took a couple of years of flamenco lessons!





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

Krassi:  The easiest character to write was the Princeton campus. And yes, it’s a character in itself. It has a past and an ever evolving present. It even has moods. Writing it wasn’t easy in the sense of choosing words and carving images out of white screen space—that part is never easy. But, this being a place instead of a person, I had the luxury of ascribing to it any emotion without having to justify or explain. It’s the exact opposite when writing human characters: each emotion or action or mood shift needs to have a clearly defined motivation.

The hardest character was the main heroine. With her, I had set myself a maddening task: to show an incredibly strong woman whose strength lies in what is often perceived as weakness. Innocence. Empathy. Patience. Self-doubt. To me, these are signs intellect and wisdom. But this assumes reading several levels below the surface. And for the reader to be able to do that, I had to write all those levels.





TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Krassi:

Question: Why write a fairy tale? Do adults really need escapism?

Answer: Because the everyday can be quite bleak as it is. Art nowadays, literature included, has a penchant for showing reality in its most gruesome, ugly, hopeless. I believe art can be more than a mirror to our grim predicament. It can—and should—give hope, capture the good in us, guide us.





TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Wildalone.

Krassi:  

“Darkness doesn’t find us on its own, Theia. It is vain. It wants to be invited.”

“It was the moment I would always remember. That split second in time when, against all odds, the universe pauses to catch its breath, fate looks the other way, and you are allowed, just this once, to have what you want if only you can name it, but you must speak up or else it would become too late, and once it is too late it remains too late forever.”



TQ:  What's next?

Krassi:  Next is the sequel to Wildalone. This book was about exposing the past and waking the heroine up. Now the real rivalry between the brothers must start. There will also be new rituals, legends, magic—all the good stuff.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





Wildalone
Wildalone 1
William Morrow, January 6, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - January 17, 2015
In this enchanting and darkly imaginative debut novel full of myth, magic, romance, and mystery, a Princeton freshman is drawn into a love triangle with two enigmatic brothers, and discovers terrifying secrets about her family and herself—a bewitching blend of Twilight, The Secret History, Jane Eyre, and A Discovery of Witches.

Arriving at Princeton for her freshman year, Thea Slavin finds herself alone, a stranger in a strange land. Away from her family and her Eastern European homeland for the first time, she struggles to adapt to unfamiliar American ways and the challenges of college life—including an enigmatic young man whose brooding good looks and murky past intrigue her. Falling into a romantic entanglement with Rhys and his equally handsome and mysterious brother, Jake, soon draws Thea into a sensual mythic underworld as irresistible as it is dangerous.

In this shadow world that seems to mimic Greek mythology and the Bulgarian legends of the Samodivi or “wildalones”—forest witches who beguile and entrap men—she will discover a shocking secret that threatens everything she holds dear. And when the terrifying truth about her own family is revealed, it will transform her forever . . . if she falls under its spell.

Mesmerizing and addictive, The Wildalone is a thrilling blend of the modern and the fantastic. Krassi Zourkova creates an atmospheric world filled with rich characters as fascinating and compelling as those of Diana Gabaldon, Deborah Harkness, and Stephenie Meyer.





About Krassi

Interview with Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - January 17, 2015
Krassi Zourkova grew up in Bulgaria and came to the United States to study art history at Princeton. After college, she graduated from Harvard Law School, and she has practiced finance law in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where she currently lives. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals. Wildalone is her first novel.

Facebook  ~  Twitter @zourkova

Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015


Please welcome Alex Gordon to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews! Gideon was published by Harper Voyager on January 6, 2015.



Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015




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

Alex:  Thank you for having me!

English was my best subject in grade school and high school, and teachers always complimented my essays and reports. I wrote a few stories, but they were class assignments. Unlike so many other writers, I didn’t write outside school--I wrote a few pages of an SF novel while in college, but that fizzled. Fast forward to the early 90’s, when I was in my early 30’s. I don’t recall any particular flash of inspiration. I simply decided to take a creative writing course of some sort. All my friends were returning to school for their MBAs. A writing class was going to be my MBA. From there, I went on attend writers conferences and science fiction-fantasy conventions, and kept plugging away.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Alex:  I would say 75% pantser/25% plotter. I can follow a vague outline that I set out beforehand in a short synopsis or on an index card, and I know the ending. But the twists and turns of the plot and the actions of my characters don’t sort themselves out until I actually write the scenes. Too many times, something that makes complete sense in the planning fails to work out on the page. It’s frustrating. There are times when I envy plotters. I have yet to make a lasting peace with my process.



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

Alex:  Focusing. I am so distractable. Wow—look at that smudge on the window. I really need to clean it NOW. And heaven forbid I look at a bookshelf. I have to page through at least one book I haven’t touched in years.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Alex:  John Le Carré. Two of his books in particular, the classics TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. He described spycraft and the people who practiced it better than anyone else I've read. Then the world changed, the Cold War ended, and he retooled, stayed fresh, found new adversaries--arms dealers, pharmaceutical companies.

Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld books, can define a character with a single thought or action. He manages to sneak the sadness and poignancy into humorous stories, and to say so many things without lapsing into lecture mode. He is also the creator or co-creator of two of my literary crushes, The Patrician from the Discworld series and Crowley, from GOOD OMENS.

Gillian Flynn—I envy her ability to make unlikeable, troubled, troubling characters compelling. I enjoyed GONE GIRL, but SHARP OBJECTS is, I think, an even more profound example. Camille Preaker—I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her, protect her, and run and hide from her all at the same time.



TQ:  Describe Gideon in 140 characters or less.

Alex:  I’ll use a line from the book: "just because you don’t know your past doesn’t mean you don’t pay the price for it.”



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

Alex:  The story describes the very first stages of the entrance of the otherworldly into this world, and vice versa. In a way, it’s a First Contact story. Even though we have told tales of ghosts and demons and other non-human entities for thousands of years, and many people believe in their existence, these are individual, personal experiences, not the event that leads to the first faltering steps toward formal rapprochement.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Gideon? Your publisher describes the novel as "...a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural." What appealed to you about writing a genre bending novel?

Alex:  I initially intended GIDEON as straight urban fantasy, with a heroine on the run from demons and the humans who thought they could control them. But I opened with the chapters that took place in 1836, and my editor at the time didn’t feel that the heroine on the run part worked as well as those chapters did. After a lot of trial and error, I finally, finally realized that the main story was very personal—a woman finding out about her father, learning that he wasn’t what she thought he was. Combine that with the history of witches, and the genre mix—the elements of mystery, horror, romance, etc--evolved as the story developed. I didn’t have to purposely add anything. All the elements made organic sense. They were necessary aspects of the story.



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

Alex:  Lots of historical research—details about the Sudden Freeze of 1836, the Chicago Fire, the Civil War. Many thanks to all the local historical societies and groups that post historical documents online—I don’t know how I would have found some of the personal accounts of the Freeze and the Fire without them. I also researched clothing of the 1830s and 1870s. I drove around the area of north central Illinois in which I set Gideon, and imagined the layout of the town, the description of the surrounding area.

I took several REI classes—kayaking, camping, outdoor survival, first aid. Lauren Reardon is a woman comfortable with the outdoors—there are things she would know and do as a matter of course. She is the type of person who carries a go-pack with first aid equipment, flints and blankets and other emergency gear in her car. She prefers to wear technical clothing. She adapts quickly. It’s funny, admitting that my fictional character knows so much more about a subject than I do, that I had to take classes in order to keep up.

I read about the Pseudepigrapha, ancient writings that are attributed to authors who really didn't write them. I was particularly interested in the Testament of Solomon, which was supposedly written by him and contained information that allowed him to control demons. I used that information to develop the Book of Endor, the guiding text of the witches of Gideon.

Some research I did went into scenes that wound up getting cut or rewritten. CPR. Google street routes through Seattle. Woodworking tools.



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

Alex:  Eliza Blaylock Mullin was surprisingly simple. She had Blaine figured out from the start, and she had a single goal—keep him from coming back from the dead. She was a very focused character.

The hardest character was my protagonist, Lauren Reardon. As I discussed above, I had a devil of a time figuring out who exactly she was and what her story was. Then I had to figure out how much she knew, how much she discovered along the way. How much did she know about her own magical abilities? Working out all the reasons for her to move forward, her transition from businesswoman to practitioner and guardian without letting it appear forced, too convenient—it was a struggle at times, a challenge always.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Alex:  Is “The Laird o’ Windywa's,” the bawdy ballad that turns up throughout the book, a real song? Yes! It’s been recorded by a Scottish folksinger named Jeannie Robertson. If I ever give a reading of the first chapter, I’m going to have to sing it. Fear this moment.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Gideon.

Alex:

“Disappointment made her sound kind.” Because I think I managed to nail this person’s character in five words.


"Gideon stood wrapped in silence, a doll’s town swaddled in cotton and packed away.” The description of Gideon after the Freeze and subsequent snowstorm.



TQ:  What's next?

Alex:  I am working on JERICHO, which is the follow-up to GIDEON. Lauren Reardon is still the protagonist and primary POV.

In JERICHO, the stakes are much greater. In GIDEON, I drop hints that magical influence stretches well beyond one small town in Illinois, that there are other ’thin places’ that may not be as well-guarded as they need to be. In JERICHO, Lauren is going to learn just how pervasive that magical influence is, as well as who else is interested in that power. The world as it exists is very, very different from the one she’s familiar with. Her hero’s journey continues.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alex:  Thank you.





Gideon
Harper Voyager, January 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015
Preston & Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .





About Alex

Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015
Photo by Libby Bulloff
Alex Gordon resides in Illinois. She is currently developing her next thriller and is having too much fun doing research. When she isn't working, she enjoys watching sports and old movies, running, and playing with her dog. She dreams of someday adding the Pacific Northwest to the list of regions where she has lived.






Website  ~   Twitter @alexgordon36


Interview with Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - January 12, 2015


Please welcome Darin Kennedy to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews! The Mussorgsky Riddle is published by Curiosity Quills Press on January 12, 2015. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Darin a very Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - January 12, 2015




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

Darin:  It was summer, 2003. I was stuck in a MIG hangar in northern Iraq during Operation: Iraqi Freedom with nothing to do but eat, sleep, keep our soldiers in good shape (I was an Army Doc - think Hawkeye from MASH with a little bit of Winchester), and work out. I had always wanted to write a book, so I did.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Darin:  I'm a plantser. I always map out the plot of my story in my head, but I don't write it down until I'm well into the story and I need to make sure the dates and days don't get messed up. Honestly, discovery writing is one of the most fun parts of the whole thing.



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

Darin:  Finding the time to do it. Being a family practice doctor is 50+ hours a week and pretty mentally exhausting. I write when I have the time and energy.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Darin:  I grew up on Tolkien, love Stephen King (Dark Tower, especially), want to be Neil Gaiman.



TQ:  Describe The Mussorgsky Riddle in 140 characters or less.

Darin:  It's about a 13 year old boy who is lost inside his own mind and the psychic that's got to go in there and find him.



TQ:  Tell us something about The Mussorgsky Riddle that is not in the book description.

Darin:  It contains elements of two of my favorite classical pieces, Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky and Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Mussorgsky Riddle?

Darin:  Honestly, I was reading the back of the CD case of Pictures at an Exhibition, looked at the titles of the various movements and thought simply, "Hey. Those are chapter titles..."



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

Darin:  I scoured the internet for information on Modest Mussorgsky, his inspiration Viktor Hartmann, Pictures at an Exhibition in all its incarnations, Scheherazade, as well as many other more mundane things to establish appropriate verisimilitude.



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

Darin:  The easiest? Baba Yaga. She is so delightfully wicked that I had fun generating every word that came out of her iron-toothed mouth. As for the hardest, likely Mira herself. The whole book is done in first person present tense POV from Mira's point of view. I often wondered if I was pulling off an authentic female voice. I've been assured by many female friends who have read it that I succeeded, but I sweated that issue often as I wrote this book.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Darin:  I have been advised by my attorney not to answer this question as I may incriminate myself, or introduce a spoiler into this fine interview. ;-)



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Mussorgsky Riddle.

Darin:
"Before I can complete the thought a maelstrom of color envelopes me. Vivid and bright, muted and pastel, light and dark, the entire spectrum flies at me, a tidal wave of prismatic light. If there’s a place rainbows go when they die, it’s here. Everything and everyone fades away in the flood of color and I am alone."


TQ:  What's next?

Darin:  Up until a couple of weeks ago, I thought this story was over, had even started writing another book, when it suddenly hit me what happens next. To anyone who falls in love with Mira, I have just started new for you. Now, let's see what happens...



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Darin:  Thank you for having me! This was a blast!





The Mussorgsky Riddle
Curiosity Quills Press, January 12, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 350 pages

Interview with Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - January 12, 2015
Psychic Mira Tejedor possesses unique talents that enable her to find anything and anyone, but now she must find a comatose boy wandering lost inside the labyrinth of his own mind. Thirteen-year-old Anthony Faircloth hasn’t spoken a word in almost a month and with each passing day, his near catatonic state worsens. No doctor, test, or scan can tell Anthony’s distraught mother what has happened to her already troubled son. In desperation, she turns to Mira for answers, hoping her unique abilities might succeed where science has failed.

At their first encounter, Mira is pulled into Anthony’s mind and finds the child’s psyche shattered into the various movements of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical music suite, Pictures at an Exhibition. As she navigates this magical dreamscape drawn from Anthony’s twin loves of Russian composers and classical mythology, Mira must contend with gnomes, troubadours, and witches in her search for the truth behind Anthony’s mysterious malady.

The real world, however, holds its own dangers. The onset of Anthony’s condition coincides with the disappearance of his older brother’s girlfriend, a missing persons case that threatens to tear the city apart. Mira discovers that in order to save Anthony, she will have to catch a murderer who will stop at nothing to keep the secrets contained in Anthony’s unique mind from ever seeing the light.





About Darin

Interview with Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - January 12, 2015
Darin Kennedy, born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Bowman Gray School of Medicine. After completing family medicine residency in the mountains of Virginia, he served eight years as a United States Army physician and wrote his first novel in 2003 in the sands of northern Iraq.

His debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, was born from a fusion of two of his lifelong loves: classical music and world mythology. His short stories can be found in various publications and he is currently hard at work on his next novel.

Doctor by day and novelist by night, he writes and practices medicine in Charlotte, North Carolina. When not engaged in either of the above activities, he has been known to strum the guitar, enjoy a bite of sushi, and rumor has it he even sleeps on occasion.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @DarinKennedy

Interview with Dave Bara, author of Impulse - February 3, 2015Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca, author of The Thorn of Dentonhill - February 1, 2015Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015Interview with Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita - January 28, 2015Interview with Robert Repino, author of Mort(e) - January 20, 2015Interview with Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - January 17, 2015Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015Interview with W. C. Bauers, author of Unbreakable, and Giveaway - January 13, 2015Interview with Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - January 12, 2015

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