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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


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Mort(e) by Robert Repino



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Mort(e) by Robert Repino



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



Robert Repino

Mort(e)
Soho Press, January 20, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Mort(e) by Robert Repino
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.

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca



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



Marshall Ryan Maresca

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca
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.

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts



2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts



There are 14 debuts for January. Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The December debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite January cover for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on January 5th.

If you are participating as a reader in the Challenge, please let us know in the comments what you are thinking of reading or email us at "DAC . TheQwillery  @  gmail . com" (remove the spaces and quotation marks). Please note that we list all debuts for the month (of which we are aware), but not all of these authors will be 2015 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for January. The list is correct as of the day posted.

Updated 1/2/2015 to include Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish and Fatal Feast by Jay Ruud.



W.C. Bauers

Unbreakable
Tor Books, January 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
The colonists of the planet Montana are accustomed to being ignored. Situated in the buffer zone between two rival human empires, their world is a backwater: remote, provincial, independently minded. Even as a provisional member of the Republic of Aligned Worlds, Montana merits little consideration—until it becomes the flashpoint in an impending interstellar war.

When pirate raids threaten to destabilize the region, the RAW deploys its mechanized armored infantry to deal with the situation. Leading the assault is Marine Corps Lieutenant and Montanan expatriate Promise Paen of Victor Company. Years earlier, Promise was driven to join the Marines after her father was killed by such a raid. Payback is sweet, but it comes at a tremendous and devastating cost. And Promise is in no way happy to be back on her birthworld, not even when she is hailed as a hero by the planet's populace, including its colorful president. Making matters even worse: Promise is persistently haunted by the voice of her dead mother.

Meanwhile, the RAW's most bitter rival, the Lusitanian Empire, has been watching events unfold in the Montana system with interest. Their forces have been awaiting the right moment to gain a beachhead in Republic territory, and with Promise's Marines decimated, they believe the time to strike is now.

Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers is character driven, military science in the tradition of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.




Hannah Beckerman

The Dead Wife's Handbook
Arcade Publishing, January 6, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages
(Debut - US)

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
Rachel, Max, and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life—until the night Rachel’s heart stopped beating. She was thirty-six.

Just as her family can’t forget her, Rachel can’t quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives.

This fresh debut novel touches on the various stages of bereavement, from denial to acceptance. As Max and Ellie work through their grief, Rachel too struggles to come to terms with her death. And as her husband starts to date again, Rachel realizes that one day Max will find love, and that Ellie will have a new mother figure in her life.

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is a heartwarming and touching book, very commercial in its approach and a compelling read. It will touch a wide readership, and is a perfect read for fans of the bestseller The Lovely Bones.




Kristi Charish

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
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.




Cecilia Ekbäck

Wolf Winter
Weinstein Books, January 27, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 376 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
‘Wolf winter,' she said, her voice small. ‘I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is.'
 He was silent for a long time. ‘It's the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,' he said. ‘Mortal and alone.'


Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackåsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.

While herding the family's goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors' strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson's widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on Blackåsen. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice.

As the seasons change, and the "wolf winter," the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, Paavo travels to find work, and Maija finds herself struggling for her family's survival in this land of winter-long darkness. As the snow gathers, the settlers' secrets are increasingly laid bare. Scarce resources and the never-ending darkness force them to come together, but Maija, not knowing who to trust and who may betray her, is determined to find the answers for herself. Soon, Maija discovers the true cost of survival under the mountain, and what it will take to make it to spring.




Alex Gordon

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
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 . . .




Darin Kennedy

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
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.




Greer Macallister

The Magician's Lie
Sourcebooks Landmark, January 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician’s Lie, a debut novel in which the country’s most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband's murder —and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence.

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.

But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless—and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.




Daniel José Older

Half-Resurrection Blues
Bone Street Rumba 1
Roc, January 6, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
FIRST IN A BRAND NEW URBAN FANTASY SERIES

“Because I’m an inbetweener—and the only one anyone knows of at that—the dead turn to me when something is askew between them and the living. Usually, it’s something mundane like a suicide gone wrong or someone revived that shouldn’ta been.”

Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.

One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.

But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death.…




Robert Repino

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
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.




Adam Roberts

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea
St. Martin's Griffin, January 13, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
(Debut - US)

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
Adam Roberts revisits Jules Verne's classic novel in a collaboration with the illustrator behind a recent highly acclaimed edition of The Hunting of the Snark

It is 1958 and France's first nuclear submarine, Plongeur, leaves port for the first of its sea trials. On board, gathered together for the first time, are one of the Navy's most experienced captains and a tiny skeleton crew of sailors, engineers, and scientists. The Plongeur makes her first dive and goes down, and down and down. Out of control, the submarine plummets to a depth where the pressure will crush her hull, killing everyone on board, and beyond. The pressure builds, the hull protests, the crew prepare for death, the boat reaches the bottom of the sea and finds nothing. Her final dive continues, the pressure begins to relent, but the depth guage is useless. They have gone miles down. Hundreds of miles, thousands, and so it goes on. Onboard the crew succumb to madness, betrayal, religious mania, and murder. Has the Plongeur left the limits of our world and gone elsewhere?




Jay Ruud

Fatal Feast
Merlin Mystery 1
Five Star, January 21, 2015
Hardcover, 298 pages
(Debut - Fiction)

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
When an Irish knight dies mysteriously at a banquet she is hosting' Queen Guenivere is charged with murder and faces death at the stake if found guilty. Her loyal page' Gildas' rushes to the woods to track down Merlin and convince him to take up the investigation and save the queen.

Fatal Feast is a fast-paced murder mystery set in the legendary court of Camelot' imagined as it might have existed in the high Middle Ages' with Sir Gawain' Sir Gareth' and Sir Lancelot in pivotal roles' and the young Gildas' enamored of the queen's young lady-in-waiting Rosemounde' an unlikely courtly lover focused on saving the queen and impressing his Rosemounde -- not necessarily in that order.




Hilary Scharper

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
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…




Sharma Shields

The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac
Holt Paperbacks, January 27, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
A dark, fantastical, multi-generational tale about a family whose patriarch is consumed by the hunt for the mythical, elusive sasquatch he encountered in his youth

Eli Roebuck was nine years old when his mother walked off into the woods with "Mr. Krantz," a large, strange, hairy man who may or may not be a sasquatch. What Eli knows for certain is that his mother went willingly, leaving her only son behind. For the rest of his life, Eli is obsessed with the hunt for the bizarre creature his mother chose over him, and we watch it affect every relationship he has in his long life--with his father, with both of his wives, his children, grandchildren, and colleagues. We follow all of the Roebuck family members, witnessing through each of them the painful, isolating effects of Eli's maniacal hunt, and find that each Roebuck is battling a monster of his or her own, sometimes literally. The magical world Shields has created is one of unicorns and lake monsters, ghosts and reincarnations, tricksters and hexes. At times charming, as when young Eli meets the eccentric, extraordinary Mr. Krantz, and downright horrifying at others, The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac is boldly imaginative throughout, and proves to be a devastatingly real portrait of the demons that we as human beings all face.




Krassi Zourkova

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 Debuts
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.

Guest Blog by Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - December 27, 2014


Please welcome Darin Kennedy to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs! The Mussorgsky Riddle will be published by Curiosity Quills Press on January 12, 2015.



Guest Blog by Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - December 27, 2014




A big thank you to Sally ‘Qwill” Janin for inviting me to guest blog on The Qwillery site and also for inviting me to be a part of The Qwillery 2015 Debut Author Challenge. It is one minute to midnight on Christmas Day as I begin to write, and if I’m a little punchy, know that Steven Moffat has just run me through the emotional roller coaster of “Last Christmas” followed by a rerun of “The Time of the Doctor” – many of you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, you’re missing out.

A quick introduction: I’m Darin Kennedy and my debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is due out January 12th, 2015 from Curiosity Quills Press. The last nine months have been a whirlwind of activity since my acceptance at this awesome press (CQ treats its authors very well and produces a quality book) with the various revisions from three different editors, the long process of cover design and redesign, the inspection of final layouts and proofs, the initiation of the book’s marketing plan, and the scheduling of various conventions / signings / conferences / interviews. And the funny thing? That’s the condensed version. And now, we’re less than three weeks from the launch of my very first novel. Pretty exciting times. But it took a long time to get here.

Growing up, I always heard about mountaintop experiences. Many times, this metaphor was something I heard about in church, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s actually become a pretty apt metaphor for life in general. Right now, with a book coming out, interviews being done, signings being scheduled, etc. – this is a mountaintop experience. I’m at the top of Mt. Mitchell and looking east as the sun rises through the fog on a crisp September morning. This does not change the fact that I hiked for hours to get to this point, froze my butt off through the rainy night, and wore a blister on my left heel. Right now, it’s all about the view. It won’t last forever, so I should enjoy it while I can. And then what? Time to hike again.

To all the writers out there. You’re not always going to be on the mountaintop. Many times you’re down in the valley of agent rejection or climbing the hill of “Why can’t I make this chapter work?” Sometimes it seems like you’ll never see the sky again, much less the horizon, on your little walk through the woods. The pack can get heavy, your feet sore, your back tired.

My advice? Keep hiking. If you have a story to tell, tell it. If you don’t know enough about writing to tell it the way you want to, learn. If the first agent / editor / publisher doesn’t bite, send it to another one. If the first book doesn’t sell, write another one. When my first book never found a home despite the fact that book was the one that landed me an agent, it would have been easy to pack up and go home, but a very smart writer (who specializes in YA zombie novels) told me five years ago that the people who don’t succeed in this business are the ones who stop trying. So, to all you aspiring writers out there: Keep trying. Keep learning. Keep getting better until you’re the best writer you can be. And most importantly, keep writing!





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

Guest Blog by Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - December 27, 2014
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

Guest Blog by Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - December 27, 2014
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


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers



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




W.C. Bauers

Unbreakable
Tor Books, January 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers
The colonists of the planet Montana are accustomed to being ignored. Situated in the buffer zone between two rival human empires, their world is a backwater: remote, provincial, independently minded. Even as a provisional member of the Republic of Aligned Worlds, Montana merits little consideration—until it becomes the flashpoint in an impending interstellar war.

When pirate raids threaten to destabilize the region, the RAW deploys its mechanized armored infantry to deal with the situation. Leading the assault is Marine Corps Lieutenant and Montanan expatriate Promise Paen of Victor Company. Years earlier, Promise was driven to join the Marines after her father was killed by such a raid. Payback is sweet, but it comes at a tremendous and devastating cost. And Promise is in no way happy to be back on her birthworld, not even when she is hailed as a hero by the planet's populace, including its colorful president. Making matters even worse: Promise is persistently haunted by the voice of her dead mother.

Meanwhile, the RAW's most bitter rival, the Lusitanian Empire, has been watching events unfold in the Montana system with interest. Their forces have been awaiting the right moment to gain a beachhead in Republic territory, and with Promise's Marines decimated, they believe the time to strike is now.

Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers is character driven, military science in the tradition of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex Gordon



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex Gordon



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



Alex Gordon

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex Gordon
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 . . .


Guest Blog by Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - December 6, 2015


Please welcome Krassi Zourkova to The Qwillery with the first 2015 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blog! Wildalone will be published by William Morrow on January 6, 2015.



Guest Blog by Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - December 6, 2015




Magic Is a State of Mind

        Magic is for kids. We learn this early on, and it becomes a given, part of the price for growing up. If you’re old enough to drive, it’s time to give up fairy tales. And so, we do.
        What’s left, then, is a rational, adult existence in which duty erases dreams, logic cancels passion, and our heart is told what it should or shouldn’t want, ad nauseam. Magic—if it survives at all—gathers dust on bookshelves, labeled “literature for children” and used sparingly, as a guilty escape.
        Wildalone began for me as an extension of this escapism. I envisioned a story very much rooted in reality and in my past, but also one that would contain everything my real life didn’t: myths, legends, witch powers and sex rituals, ancient riddles, murderous secrets, and immortal creatures capable of an even more immortal love.
        But, as they say, be careful what you wish for. With every page and every plot twist, as I watched my fictional world grow complete, I also felt a certain penchant for magic lodge itself in my mind. I started to look for extraordinary potential in the everyday, to crave intricacies in life’s minutia and see each experience through a dreamy prism that earned me concerned headshakes from both family and friends.
        Technically speaking, I was writing magical realism: a tale in which the fantastical blends so smoothly with the normal, it becomes impossible to distinguish where reality ends and myth begins. Put more simply, it was a fairy tale for adults. Not the sweeping fantasy recipes I had read as a child, boasting castles and magic objects and superheroes, but a world exactly as the one we live in, except now suddenly transformed by the ability of ordinary human beings to love and dream with an intensity most of us consider to be the stuff of fairy tales.
        Over the past few weeks, as the book has reached its first readers, I have been called a hopeless romantic more than ever before. The “romantic” part I do love. But the word “hopeless” makes my skin crawl. It implies not that the romantic has given up hope, but that he or she is beyond repair. Why is the world so insistent on reforming those of us who dream? And why is romanticism viewed as a liability? Can—and should—we perhaps start speaking of the “hopeless pragmatist” instead?
        It could be that finding the magic in our adult lives means reverting back to a certain innocence we had while still children. This time, though, it needs to be a conscious choice: to believe in the unlimited possibilities of our inner world. As the saying goes—we are all granted two childhoods, but the second one depends entirely on us.





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

Guest Blog by Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - December 6, 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

Guest Blog by Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - December 6, 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, 20152015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Mort(e) by Robert RepinoInterview with W. C. Bauers, author of Unbreakable, and Giveaway - January 13, 2015Interview with Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - January 12, 20152015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca2015 Debut Author Challenge - January 2015 DebutsGuest Blog by Darin Kennedy, author of The Mussorgsky Riddle - December 27, 20142015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex GordonGuest Blog by Krassi Zourkova, author of Wildalone - December 6, 2015

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