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2016 Debut Author Challenge - COVER OF THE YEAR!


The Qwillery is thrilled to announce the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover of the Year. The cover illustration was created by the author of the novel and won with 44% percent of the votes.

Congratulations to author and artist Emily B. Martin whose cover illustration for Woodwalker is the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover of the Year! Read about how Emily created the cover - "The Evolution of a Cover" - at her blog here.



Woodwalker
Harper Voyager Impulse, May 17, 2016
     eBook, 336 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 14 , 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - COVER OF THE YEAR!
“What on earth would I gain from that?” I asked him. “Risk my own neck by violating my banishment just to leave you? The sentence placed on me if I return is execution. If I’m entering the mountains again, I’d damn well better get something out of it.”

Exiled from the Silverwood and the people she loves, Mae has few illusions about ever returning to her home. But when she comes across three out-of-place strangers in her wanderings, she finds herself contemplating the unthinkable: risking death to help a deposed queen regain her throne.

And if anyone can help Mona Alastaire of Lumen Lake, it is a former Woodwalker—a ranger whose very being is intimately tied to the woods they are sworn to protect. Mae was once one of the best, and despite the potential of every tree limb to become the gibbet she’s hung from, she not only feels a duty to aide Mona and her brothers, but also to walk beneath her beloved trees once more.

A grand quest in the tradition of great epic fantasies, filled with adventure and the sharp wit—and tongue—of a unique hero, Woodwalker is the perfect novel to start your own journey into the realm of magical fiction.




The second novel in the series, illustration by Emily B. Martin:

Ashes to Fire
Woodwalker 2
Harper Voyager Impulse, January 31, 2017
eBook, 336 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - COVER OF THE YEAR!
“You are a country.”

Those words have been the guiding force behind Queen Mona’s every move since she was a little girl—the idea that all her actions and desires were, first and foremost, decided based on what was best for Lumen Lake. It had kept her alive after the Alcoran invasion, it had driven her to retake her country, and now it is the steely resolve she needs to finally confront the despotic Seventh King, Celeno.

But when her diplomatic mission finds herself on the run through the swamps of Cyprien—accompanied by the unlikeliest group of companions—Mona discovers that while she is her country, she is also someone who has been sheltered by principles and bound by past mistakes. Now she must struggle to reshape her view of the world and face intimate new truths—not only for the good of her country, but for herself, as well.

A desperate journey to secure peace, and an even greater journey to discover herself, Ashes to Fire is the captivating and adventurous follow-up to Emily B. Martin’s Woodwalker—once more with cover art by the author herself!





The Results

2016 Debut Author Challenge - COVER OF THE YEAR!

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR



It's time to vote for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR! Below you will find the 11 monthly winners in alphabetical order by book title (excluding "the" or "a"). Note that for the first time in 6 years there is no debut for December.

Voter for your favorite from the monthly 2016 Winners!

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page.

Voting will end sometime on January 10, 2016 - extended voting due to the end of year holidays.


Vote for your favorite 2016 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




Arabella of Mars
The Adventures of Arabella Ashby 1
Tor Books, July 12, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Jacket Art by Stephan Martiniere
Jacket Design by Peter Lutjen





Black Rabbit Hall
G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 9, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
(US Debut)

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Jacket Design by Tal Goretsky
Jacket images: (latticework) Danita Delimont / Getty Images;
(castle) Ray Hems / Getty Images





Carrier
Permuted Platinum, October 18, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 322 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Cover Art by Jack Kaiser





Children of the Country
Outpost19, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 290 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR






Dark Transmissions
A Tale of the Jinxed Thirteenth 1
Harper Voyager Impulse, March 1, 2016
    eBook, 384 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, March 29, 2016
    Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR





A Hundred Thousand Worlds
Viking, June 28, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR





The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Orbit, September 13, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Cover design: The last design of Jack Smyth – LBBG
Cover images copyright © Shutterstock





The Monster Underneath
Samhain Publishing, April 5, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 208 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Artist Kelly Martin





The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin
Algonquin Books, August 2, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Jacket Design by Laura Klynstra
Jacket Photograph by Paul Knight / Trevillion Images





Steal the Sky
Scorched Continent 1
Angry Robot Books, January 5, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Cover Art by Kim Sokol





Woodwalker
Harper Voyager Impulse, May 17, 2016
     eBook, 336 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 14 , 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR

Cover Art by Emily B. Martin



2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner


The winner of the November 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Children of the Country by Abigail R. Shaffer from Outpost19 with 65% of all votes.



Children of the Country
Outpost19, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback, 290 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner
A debut coming of age story set in Southern woods filled with drugs, sex and violence--and a hidden tradition of voodoo-like magic. In a hard-scrabble town where family history defines destinies, a handful of teenagers bear witness to old traumas that still haunt adults working to keep food on the table. Modern pressures deepen old ruts, and in a circle of friends, each looks for their own path. A local drug ring offers high-speed comforts, and while some fall for easy choices, others find the strength to make their own place in the woods.





The Results

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner





The November 2016 Debuts

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner
2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner
2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner

Interview with Lena Gregory, author of Death at First Sight


Please welcome Lena Gregory to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Death at First Sight was published on November 1st by Berkley.



Interview with Lena Gregory, author of Death at First Sight




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

Lena:  Hi, and thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be here. I first started writing when my youngest, who is now six, was an infant. I’ve always loved reading, but I hadn’t done any writing since I was a kid. My son didn’t sleep through the night, and I’m a bit of an insomniac anyway, so I figured I’d try my hand at writing. I loved it!



TQ:   Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Lena:  I started out as a pantser. I’d just sit down and write whatever came to mind. I loved the twists and turns in the plot and the surprises that would inevitably pop up. The only problem was, I sometimes wrote myself into a corner that way. And forget word count. My first book came in at almost a hundred thousand words! When I was about halfway through Death at First Sight, I had to give in and plot the rest. Although, the killer did come as a surprise at the end.

Now, I’d have to say I’m a hybrid. I do still enjoy writing whatever comes to mind, but now I have at least a rough outline of the basic story.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Lena:  The first draft! I’m just not disciplined enough to sit down and write that first draft. I end up procrastinating in every way possible, often on social media, before I’ll actually sit down and start writing. Once I have that first draft down, the edits go fairly quickly.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Lena:  I think the biggest influence on my writing has been reading. I read as much as I can, in all different genres, not only the genre I’m writing in. Getting lost in a good story motivates me to create my own stories, my own worlds and my own characters.



TQDescribe Death at First Sight in 140 characters or less.

Lena:  With Bee & Stephanie's help, Cass must prove her innocence & save her client from the fate in her vision.



TQTell us something about Death at First Sight that is not found in the book description.

Lena:  Well, she doesn’t share with too many people, but Cass doesn’t actually believe she’s psychic in any traditional sense. Years of psychiatric training and strong observation skills allow Cass to interpret the small tells and gestures that often give away a client’s moods and thoughts, resulting in fairly accurate “readings.”



TQWhat inspired you to write Death at First Sight? What appeals to you about writing what your publisher calls a cozy mysteries?

Lena:  My agent, Dawn Dowdle, first introduced me to cozy mysteries, and I was hooked after reading my first one. I love creating a small community and developing the characters throughout the series. Each time I sit down to start a new book in the series, I feel like I’m getting together with old friends.

The initial idea for Death at First Sight came from an ongoing debate in my house over whether or not ghosts are real. My daughter and I firmly believe in ghosts and in some other existence beyond our own. My husband and older son do not. I visited a psychic I found to be remarkably accurate, yet my husband still wasn’t swayed.

So, I thought it would be fun to bring that debate to my characters. Stephanie believes very strongly in ghosts and fully believes Cass is psychic. Bee, on the other hand, swears he doesn’t believe in anything otherworldly. Cass doesn’t know what she believes, though she’s forced to examine it more closely as the series progresses. Initially, though, she does not believe she’s psychic. She’s just extremely intuitive, and she enjoys helping people. Working as a psychic allows her to use her talents to help her clients.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Death at First Sight?

Lena:  The setting came easy, since I live on Long Island, but because Bay Island is its own small island, nestled between the north and south forks of Long Island, I did have to do some research, mostly regarding when ferry service would be suspended (for took two) and which police force would have jurisdiction over the island, the state police, a local police force or a sheriff’s office.

Once that was done, I got to start on the fun stuff! I researched every kind of psychic reading I could find, thinking it would be interesting to have Cass offer all different types of readings. Then, since Cass also sells healing crystals at Mystical Musings, I did extensive research on crystals and their healing properties, which I found fascinating.



TQIn Death at First Sight who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Lena:  I think Cass was probably the easiest character to write, because I got to know her best. Being that the story is told from her point of view, I was really able to get into her head throughout the series. I could predict how she’d react to any given circumstances, and I knew her back story right from the beginning.

Bee was the hardest, because he developed over time. His back story didn’t emerge until later in the book, so I wasn’t always sure how he’d react, or what he’d think in any given situation. But, I do have to say, as the story progressed, I really came to love Bee.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Death at First Sight?

Lena:  Even though cozy mysteries are murder mysteries, in general, they tend to be kind of light and fun. There is usually very little violence on the page. Although, Death at First Sight is mostly light, and often fun, I did end up including the suggestion of an abused woman in the story, although it’s more alluded to than actually shown. Domestic violence is a difficult subject, and mental abuse can be as bad as physical abuse. Unfortunately, many women suffer in silence, as Ellie does in Death at First Sight, and there doesn’t seem to be as much awareness of it as there could be.



TQWhich question about Death at First Sight do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Lena:  How did Beast come to be? I love Beast, a Leonberger puppy who manages to get into all sorts of trouble. I love big dogs, and have had at least one, and as many as three at time, for about thirty years. Beast is a combination of all of those dogs, and some of the mischief he gets into is based on true stories.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Death at First Sight.

Lena:

“What? The world would be a better place without that woman, anyway.”

And my personal favorite: “Her six-year-old saw two ladies, a dog, and a bear on stilts.”



TQWhat's next?

Lena:  The first three books in the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries series are completed, though I still have to do edits on the third book. The second book in the series, Occult and Battery, is due to release on April 4, 2017, and the third book is due to release in October of 2017. I would love the opportunity to continue the series with a fourth book, and I am currently writing a new cozy series.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Lena:  I’ve really enjoyed visiting. Thank you so much for having me.





Death at First Sight
A Bay Island Psychic Mystery 1
Berkley, November 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Lena Gregory, author of Death at First Sight
FIRST IN A VISIONARY NEW MYSTERY SERIES.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that something’s not right on Bay Island…

Since she left her psychiatric practice in New York City to open up a psychic shop in her hometown on Bay Island, Cass Donovan has given her fair share of readings to conflicted customers. But what she sees in Ellie Callahan’s future doesn’t bode well.

When Ellie’s mother, Marge, publicly confronts Cass about the reading, the embarrassment makes her want to curl up and die. And when she later stumbles across Marge’s body—and is a suspect in her murder—Cass is suddenly the star of Bay Island’s rumor mill.

Cass is determined to prove her innocence and save Ellie from meeting the fate in her unfortunate vision. But even with the help of her friends Bee and Stephanie, Cass will have to channel some serious sleuthing instincts to find the real killer…




Upcoming

Occult and Battery
A Bay Island Psychic Mystery 2
Berkley, April 4, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Lena Gregory, author of Death at First Sight
A murder mystery weekend becomes a little too real in the latest Bay Island Psychic Mystery from the author of Death at First Sight—

Cass Donovan uses her skills as a former psychiatrist to get away with pretending to be psychic, but she’s not about to let anyone get away with murder…

The outlook is not so good for Cass’s psychic shop, Mystical Musings. With winter winds discouraging tourists from riding the ferry from Long Island to Bay Island, Cass hopes to draw in more customers by hosting a murder mystery weekend, complete with a séance, in a supposedly haunted mansion.

But Cass begins to lose her spirit when her ex-husband shows up, along with his fiancée—Cass’s ex-best friend. Then, after one of the guests is found dead, a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone inside with a murderer. Now Cass must divine who did the deed before her reputation and her livelihood fade away.





About Lena

Interview with Lena Gregory, author of Death at First Sight
Lena lives in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.

When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.



Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @LenaGregory03  ~  Pinterest


2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Debuts


2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2016 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on November 30, 2016.


Vote for your favorite November 2016 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls






2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Debuts
Cover art © Alejandro Colucci




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Debuts




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Debuts




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Debuts
Cover design by Tal Goretsky
Cover Art, Face; Alexandre Cappellari/Arcangel;
Cityscape © The Francis Frith Collection




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Debuts
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto
Illustration by Dominick Saponaro

Interview with James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost


Please welcome James Islington to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Shadow of What Was Lost is published on November 8th by Orbit. Please join The Qwillery in wishing James a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost




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

James:  Thanks for having me! I’d been aspiring to write something since I was a kid – simply because I’ve always enjoyed the process of creating stories - but it wasn’t until I turned 30 (about five years ago now) that I decided to really sit down and give it a serious shot.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

James:  Definitely a hybrid... which took me ages to figure out. The first time I tried to write my book, I assumed I was going to be a pantser – my best ideas have always tended to come up as I go – but then I got 100,000 words in and discovered I’d written myself into a corner. After that, I figured I must be a plotter and got about 80,000 words into a new version of the story… only to realise that I was forcing characters in unnatural directions, just to keep things adhering to the outline.
So in the end, I figured out the skeleton of a plot - but I also left plenty of breathing room for things to change along the way. It felt (and still feels) like a messy method at times, with a lot of iteration involved, but ultimately it seemed to work for me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

James:  Stepping back and figuring out how much information to give the reader, and when. Because I already know everything about the world and the larger story, I can find it hard to assess when a lack of information crosses the line from being intriguing to just plain confusing. It’s obviously an important balance to find; too little mystery and the book risks becoming boring or predictable, but too little information and suddenly the story’s inaccessible. So I go back and forth on that a lot.

Fortunately, my editors have been great at nailing down that sort of thing. Between their input and that of my beta readers, I think I get the balance right.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? Specifically why is Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series so inspirational?

James:  I think other stories – including genres other than fantasy, and media other than books – are big influences. If I’ve really enjoyed something about a narrative, it’s inevitably going to shape how I look at my own work. On the other hand, if a story has a great concept but I think its execution is lacking, that can inspire me too - I definitely get excited when I see the missed potential of something, and then I think about the way it could be done.

Mistborn was huge for me, because I’d lost much of my interest in reading fantasy during my twenties, and Brandon Sanderson’s series was the one that really brought me back to it. In some ways, it was a throwback to everything I’d always loved about fantasy - fun, heroic characters, a cool world, an intriguing story, dark moments, and great action sequences. But in other ways, it completely changed things. It was fast-paced. It had awesome plot twists. It used a ‘hard’ magic system that gave the characters clear, logical limitations. It was simultaneously a more accessible and a more complex read than what I was used to, and the whole experience really got me enthused about writing my own book again.



TQDescribe The Shadow of What Was Lost in 140 characters or less.

James:  Fast-paced, heroic epic fantasy with a tone along the lines of The Wheel of Time, with likeable characters and some dark twists.



TQTell us something about The Shadow of What Was Lost that is not found in the book description.

James:  Part of the plot actually deals with time travel... which I’m usually hesitant to say, because that’s something that can be really hard to do in both an interesting and logically consistent way. So much so, in fact, that when I hear another story deals with time travel, it will actually sometimes put me off reading it. But I took the concept very seriously when I decided to include it – it’s absolutely key to the way the world I’ve created works, and I’m always conscious of not using it as a lazy ‘get out of jail free’ plot device.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Shadow of What Was Lost? What appeals to you about writing Epic Fantasy?

James:  I wouldn’t say there was a single, specific inspiration. I’ve always loved writing, and epic fantasy has been my favorite genre for a long time now, so it was just naturally going to be the one at which I tried my hand.

I think it’s the scope and stakes of epic fantasy that appeals to me most. When you’re writing about these massive, world-changing threats, the plot becomes intrinsically tied to the world you’re creating – so you’re not just writing a story set in another world, you’re writing a story about another world. Your world-building becomes crucial to your story rather than just window dressing, and that really makes the whole thing so much more interesting and engaging to me.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Shadow of What Was Lost?

James:  I did decide to read up on some of the concepts and philosophies relating to time travel – particularly determinism (in essence, that all events are inevitable), eternalism (all points in time are equally ‘real’), and the principle of self-consistency (the idea that paradoxes while time-travelling are impossible to cause) – because it’s always bothered me when I’ve seen it used in a logically inconsistent way. I wanted to make absolutely sure that my understanding of those theories was correct before I integrated them.



TQIn The Shadow of What Was Lost who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

James:  Davian was the easiest. I think he’s closest to me in personality – I didn’t really have to think too hard about how he would act in a lot of scenes, so writing his part of the story came naturally.

On the other hand, writing Caeden was pretty tricky at times. I was always having to consider how he’d react to situations not just based on his personality, but also how his perspective was colored by what he’d remembered of his past up to that point. I enjoyed writing his scenes, but they certainly required more attention than any of the others.



TQWhich question about The Shadow of What Was Lost do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

James:

Q: Is it possible to not be a huge Wheel of Time fan and still enjoy your book?

A: Yes! WoT is getting mentioned a lot in reviews of my book, for largely good reason, and don’t get me wrong – Robert Jordan’s series was special to me growing up and remains one of my all-time favorites, so it’s an incredibly flattering comparison. But, I think most people would concede that the series wasn’t perfect. It slowed down in the middle. It sometimes got side-tracked with its secondary characters. Some of its main characters had sections where they were frustrating to read about, for one reason or another.

As a fan, those were things I could always overlook because the rest – the vast, fascinating, complex world and story Robert Jordan created – more than made up for it. But as a writer, they’re also things I tried very hard to avoid in my own work. So if WoT didn’t click with you for some of those reasons, I still think checking out The Shadow of What Was Lost might be worth your time.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Shadow of What Was Lost.

James:

All that I wanted, I received
All that I dreamed, I achieved
All that I feared, I conquered
All that I hated, I destroyed
All that I loved, I saved

And so I lay down my head, weary with despair
For all that I needed, I lost.



TQWhat's next?

James:  I’m currently editing the sequel to The Shadow of What Was Lost – called An Echo of Things to Come – and it’ll be released in 2017.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

James:  It was a pleasure!





The Shadow of What Was Lost
The Licanius Trilogy 1
Orbit, November 8, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 704 pages

Interview with James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost
"Love The Wheel of Time? This is about to become your new favorite series." - B&N SF & Fantasy Blog

"Islington has built a world with all the right genre elements: complex magic, terrifying threats out of legend, political intrigue, and a large cast of characters whose motivations are seldom clear. Fans of doorstop epic fantasy will not be disappointed." - Publishers Weekly

"Ingeniously plotted...Islington's natural storytelling ability provides incessant plot twists and maintains a relentless pace...A promising page-turner from a poised newcomer." - Kirkus

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them - the Gifted - are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion's Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.

As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian's wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is...

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir.





About James

Interview with James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost
James Islington was born and raised in southern Victoria, Australia. His influences growing up were the stories of Raymond E. Feist and Robert Jordan, but it wasn't until later, when he read Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series - followed soon after by Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind - that he was finally inspired to sit down and write something of his own. He now lives with his wife and daughter on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.








Website  ~  Twitter @IslingtonJames

Interview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning Isle


Please welcome Will Panzo to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Burning Isle was published on November 1st by Ace.



Interview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning Isle




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

Will:  I started writing as a teenager. Before then, I often made up stories and characters and worlds, but I didn't put them to paper. I just, sort of, walked around with these people and these strange ideas in my head, sometimes for months. In my early teens I started writing, mostly as a way of getting those thoughts out of my head. I quickly realized I didn't know how to write, but it seemed the only way to learn was to do it. So I did a good amount of writing and an equal amount of throwing away.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Will:  I'm more of a pantser. I need to know the ending of a story before I can start. I have to be writing towards something. But the writing itself is a discovery. Sometimes whole chunks of story come to me, and I'll plot those sections out. But then during the act of writing, I'll inevitably stray from the path I set myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Will:  Feeling like I'm getting at something honest and raw. I don't like to feel as though I'm treading water in a story, or walking a reader through the beats they've come to expect. It's a challenge to stay present and open while writing. You've got to trust that the thing which excites you, but which you're worried might be too much for an audience, is the only thing worth pursuing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does being a former editor at Marvel affect (or not) your novel writing?

Will:  I'm a huge fantasy fan, but also a fan of literary fiction, poetry, comics. Pulling from influences outside your genre is a great way to explore new ground. The mantra I learned at Marvel was a good editor helps a writer or artist tell the best version of their story. I try to put myself in that mindset when I write. I ask myself what story am I trying to tell, and what is the best version of that story.



TQDescribe The Burning Isle in 140 characters or less.

Will:  A dark, violent story set in a fantasy ancient Rome with lots of magic and revenge.



TQTell us something about The Burning Isle that is not found in the book description.

Will:  Our protagonist, Cassius, is a young man who is very powerful and very naive. Obsessed with myths and legends, he fancies himself an avenging hero come to clean up a lawless town. But when confronted with the harsh reality of his work, he realizes that the cost of vengeance is innocence, and the cost of power is your humanity



TQWhat inspired you to write The Burning Isle? What appeals to you about writing Grimdark Fantasy?

Will:  I've always liked stories where a mysterious hero plays two sides of a corrupt town against each other. We've seen this story told in feudal Japan (Kurosawa's Yojimbo), in the Old West (Leone's A Fistful of Dollars), and in Depression-era America (Hammet's Red Harvest). I thought it would be interesting to set this kind of story in a fantasy world. I also wanted to write a revenge story. Lastly, I wanted to show a protagonist really struggle, psychologically and morally, with the violence and upheaval he causes.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Burning Isle?

Will:  A lot of Roman names. Hundreds of them. Military equipment and civilian tools from roughly the first century AD. Accounts of people driven mad by jungles. I'm very eager to sacrifice authenticity for a more satisfying story though, so I make no claims to authenticity.



TQIn The Burning Isle who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Will:  Sulla was by far the easiest. She had her own agenda, and no qualms about pursuing it. Cassius was more difficult. I had a handle on what he wanted. But his quest troubled him. He's a very conflicted character.



TQWhich question about The Burning Isle do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Will:  Do you think Cassius is a hero? That's the central question of the story itself. I honestly don't have an answer though. I don't think there is a clear answer. It's this uncertainty that plagues Cassius.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Burning Isle.

Will:  "That thing gnawing inside you, I know it well. It has a tremendous appetite, and it can only be sated with blood and fire. A man of your skills is liable to leave a great trail of ruin trying to feed it."



TQWhat's next?

Will:  I'm working on another novel set in the same world as The Burning Isle, with some returning characters. I'm very happy with how it's shaping up so far.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Will:  Thanks for having me!





The Burning Isle
Ace, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning Isle
A powerful and gripping debut grimdark fantasy novel, set in a world of criminals, pirates, assassins, and magic…

“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”

Cassius is not lost…

The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…

But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This is a treacherous island where the native gods are restless and anything can happen…





About Will

After working in publishing and as an editor for Marvel Comics, Will Panzo found his true calling as a physician assistant for an emergency department. The Burning Isle is his first novel. He lives and works in New York City.


Website ~ Twitter @WillPanzo

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner


The winner of the October 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Carrier by Timothy Johnson from Permuted Platinum with 45% of all votes. The cover art is by Jack Kaiser


Carrier
Permuted Platinum, October 18, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 322 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner
An alien infection turns its hosts into violent, insane murderers, threatening to overrun the space carrier Atlas.

With Earth's resources on the verge of exhaustion and worldwide civil war imminent, the stars were looked to for answers. Beneath the surface of lifeless planets were found all the resources that could ever be consumed.

Stellan Lund is chief security officer aboard the carrier Atlas. Life on a carrier is peaceful—as long as the crew does its job, the New Earth Council leaves them alone. The only risk is an occasional case of black madness, a mental-break condition that turns its hosts into violent, insane murderers—but it's a small chance to take for some freedom.

Then the Atlas is ordered to a dying planet where an unknown material awaits. When an accident exposes some of the crew to the alien substance, reports of black madness escalate—but something about these cases is different.

And if the ship's crew can’t eradicate the infection no one will make it home.





The Results

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner





The October 2016 Debut Covers

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner

Interview with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


Please welcome Amelia Atwater-Rhodes to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Of the Abyss was published in digital format on September 27th and is published in print on November 1st by Harper Voyager Impulse.



Interview with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. You've written over a dozen novels for young adults. Of the Abyss, the first novel in the Mancer Trilogy, is your first adult fantasy. What are the biggest differences for you between writing fantasy for young adults and adults?

Amelia:  To start, coming of age is a major themes of most young adult novels. The individual stories in my YA series are all different, but at the heart of most is the question of, “Who am I?” What does it mean to grow up? How do you balance taking responsibility, asserting your independence and individuality, and still needing the support and protection you’ve had since childhood?

In my adult novels, I have more freedom. One fun part of writing Of the Abyss is that all of my main characters start as established adults, two of which are highly-respected in their fields. They’re at the point in their lives where they can look to the future and say, “Yes, I’m on the path I chose and that is my future.” It all goes to hell of course (fairly literally), the way real life often does, and the characters certainly need to grow and discover and reevaluate… but it’s a very different perspective, and it’s not the central theme of the story.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Amelia:  I'm absolutely a pantser. I'll make a handful of notes before I start writing, but when I start a new book, I rarely have more than a kernel of an idea, and I'm quick to add new things or throw out earlier ideas if I think something new will work better.

Of the Abyss had one page of notes before National Novel Writing Month in 2006. At the start of the month I intended for it to be a 50 thousand word throw-away project- a fun vacation from the series I was in the middle of at the time- responding to a friend's challenge to write a gay erotica story with no particular plot. I failed the challenge; I became too invested in developing my characters and discovering their story, so by the end of the month I had 50,000 words, my main characters hadn't yet hooked up, and I was typing "Part Two" instead of "The End." What was meant to be a silly story turned into an epic trilogy that included my favorite books of all those I had written. Later I looked back at my pre-NaNo notes and realized they were almost unrecognizable as the series of books that actually emerged.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Amelia:  I would have to say the middle third of a first draft, because that’s when a book is most likely to die on the table. There are other parts that are hard or unpleasant, including portions of the editing process, but that middle third is the make-or-break moment for a novel.

The first part of a first draft is easiest for me. I love scene-building, meeting the characters and starting the ball rolling. This is when I get to explore the world and learn about it; I love to build geography, culture, religion, trade, and even popular food of an area. When I revise I often end up reworking a lot of this, because in my rough drafts I "pants" it and let myself run and explore as much as I want.

The beginning is also where I get to introduce the big issues. What is the plot? How do my characters feel about these problems, whatever they are? This part, and their first reactions, is always fun and the easiest part of writing a book.

Then I hit the second third of the book. Characters have moved past immediate reactions, first plans may have failed or caused additional complications, wacky hijinks have begun and I need to figure out how to get from there to the end. This is the point where, because I'm a pantser, half of my books just stop and fizzle. This is the point where I either decide, "yes, I have an idea and it's strong enough to see me through" or "wow, this idea is boring me and I'm not going to keep going." Books in the second group go into a folder I consider my file graveyard.

To refer again to Of the Abyss, this was the point when Hansa (one of my main characters) has escaped being convicted of practicing sorcery and sentenced to death, and has gone home. His fiancée comes running up to him... and, as a writer, I stop and go, "now what?" If all goes well for Hansa and Ruby, it's "happily ever after," which is boring and would end up in the graveyard. Sometimes problems, as a writer, are a seeming lack of problems! In some books the characters dig in their heels and need a reason to get involved, and in other books they're so overwhelmed they (and I) can't see a way out. That's what makes this part so hard - as author, I often need to solve a problem I've set up to appear impossible, or discover a problem the character hasn't realized exists.

Not-really-a-spoiler: Hansa realizes his problems are just beginning.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Amelia:  Everything influences my writing.

I know that seems like a glib answer, but I don’t know any other way to respond. When we get to the questions below about inspiration and fantasy and research, I think you’ll see what I mean.



TQDescribe Of the Abyss in 140 characters or less.

Amelia:  Asking me to be brief- my kryptonite! Okay, here goes…

To escape execution, they must travel to the Abyss- a realm of hedonism, violence and grief- and reevaluate all they once knew about sorcery, love, evil, and even death

(This answer took me longer than any other answer in this interview! Yes, I had to cut out the period to get to 140...)



TQTell us something about Of the Abyss that is not found in the book description.

Amelia:  Though Of the Abyss focuses only on Kavet, that small country is a tiny piece of a much wider world called Castra. We don’t see much of that larger world in Abyss because, since the revolution sixty years ago, Kavet has become an isolationist backwater that participates little in trade or international culture.

One or the odd little facts that differentiates Castra from Earth is a scarcity of iron. Iron is strictly regulated by the Osei, dragon-like creatures who dominate the seas, because it is one of the few materials that can harm them. This makes the value of something like a steel sword (such as Hansa carries as a guard in the 126) a significant symbol of status. The purchase of an iron plow blade is a major investment, which inevitably affects industries like farming. This is one of those little facts that I love to discover, research and consider in depth while barely mentioning in the text because few readers actually care about the intricate nature of smelting iron into farm equipment (and none of my point of view characters are overly affected by it in this particular story).



TQWhat inspired you to write Of the Abyss? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Amelia:  I've already said what my original "inspiration" was, so I'll address how the silly, throwaway story I intended turned into something much bigger and became an entire world I've fallen in love with.

Part of my original “decision,” in the original notes I didn’t stick with, was that this wouldn't be a quest story. I put my characters on an island country, made it winter so all the ports were closed, and said, “There! You’re stuck now!” So instead, they traveled to hell.

The Abyss isn’t really hell, though; that’s just the easiest descriptor to give it. Living mortals tend to describe the Abyss and the Numen as the infernal realm and the divine realm, domains of evil and good, but they’re actually both fairly amoral. Their inspiration came not from traditional Judeo-Christian views of Heaven and Hell, but instead came from Freudian theories about the id, ego and superego.

The Abyssi aren’t devils set out to torment people; they’re just entirely id. They're focused entirely on their own immediate needs and pleasures. The Numini on the other hand are entirely superego, so they are only able to see and understand the world in absolutes and imperatives. The Numini consider themselves the supreme, loving and righteous guardians of humanity... but, like the Abyssi, they don't fully understand human needs or desires, or the complex range of full mortal emotion (in this model, humans represent the ego).

I was also influenced by the song "Imagine," though I'll admit I heard it in an ominous way instead of the optimistic one I’m sure was intended. "Imagine there's no heaven... [and] no hell," and we'll all be able to live in peace, is the heart of the philosophy of the Quinacridone. Followers of the Quinacridone (Quin) believe that dwelling too much on the future or past, or especially dwelling on the Other realms, is a dangerous, slippery slope to destruction. The belief isn’t entirely destructive in itself (it’s based partly on concepts of mindfulness, which I respect and try to adhere to in my own life) but since the Quin make up most of the population in the purely democratic Kavet, their beliefs guide policy, which in this case results in an aggressive, institutionalized ignorance where most people are taught, “Let your leaders decide what’s right and wrong, don’t question, and don’t think too much about it, and you’ll be safe.”

Finally, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that real-world politics and religion played a huge role in inspiring this book, during its first draft and even more so during its revisions. I graduated high school a few months before 9/11, which means I feel like my entire adult life has been set against a backdrop of rising tensions and increasing religious bigotry. The Patriot Act, and other “security” measures since (and they just keep coming up), was a major inspiration for Citizens Initiative 126, which decreed that sorcery of any kind was punishable by death and established the guard force responsible for enforcing that law.

I’m also a queer woman living in the first state to legalize gay marriage, back in 2004-- which means we were also the first state to see the vicious backlash as people tried to ban it again. I started to become actively involved in politics and civil rights in early college, and this too shows in Of the Abyss, both in terms of how sexuality is viewed in Kavet and what rights, responsibilities and freedoms the characters in Kavet have-- or lack, often in the name of “security,” or because in a pure democracy the majority’s beliefs decide the law for all.

That was a long-winded answer. In short, a lot of things inspired the Mancer trilogy, which is part of why it couldn’t stay a simple NaNo, and evolved into a tapestry I’ve loved working with for the past decade.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Of the Abyss?

Amelia:  Developing the world for Of the Abyss took a great deal of research, the majority of which I completed between the conclusion of the first draft and a completely rewritten second draft. Much of the research went into little things that aren't obvious in the final draft, like establishing the economy, ecology and international position of the country of Kavet.

I chose a lot of real-world analogs on which I could base my decisions. For example, Kavet has approximately the same climate as the state of Maine, which influences what they can farm, what kind of weather they expect or fear, and of course the seasons where shipping trade can or can't happen. In deciding how far or how fast an individual can travel via sea, I decided the naval technology would be roughly analogous to late 18th century, which influenced how difficult it is to go anywhere or ship goods. Some things didn’t have direct equivalents because they are intrinsically different from our world, like the iron scarcity. I needed to learn a great deal about iron and the evolution of its use in our world to consider how this would have changed Kavet.

One of the stranger, obsessive bits of research I did was about ducks. In Mancer 2, one of my main characters was a duck farmer. I famously spent nine hours researching ducks for what eventually became ONE PARAGRAPH in the entire trilogy. I must have ranted about it a great deal, and made a great many duck jokes, because my long-time readers and close friends still make duck and bird jokes about my writing.



TQIn Of the Abyss who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Amelia:  The easiest character to write was Alizarin. Rin is a prince of the third level of the Abyss (a demon), which means he is beautiful, sensual, and has the capacity for incredible destruction. As an Abyssi, he literally has no concept of shame or guilt. He evolves throughout the book, gaining more depth as his understanding grows, but every time he was on stage I enjoyed writing him.

The hardest character to write was Naples, an Abyssumancer (a sorcerer whose power comes from the Abyss) we meet in the second half of the book. I don’t want to write spoilers, but Naples is in a very difficult, complex situation, and the actions he takes as a result are morally beyond gray (they get pretty black). It was hard to write him in a way where he remained understandable and not just irredeemable.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Of the Abyss?

Amelia:  This came up earlier when I talked about the inspiration for this book, but I’ll reiterate and rephrase here: I included social issues in Of the Abyss because I couldn’t leave them out. I’m a rabble-raising beyond-progressive gay Jewish woman with disabilities with a day job as a special education teacher. I am too constantly in the middle of or otherwise aware of too many social issues for me to ever create a fantasy world without them.

We live in a flawed world, and all we can do is try our best to improve it, day by day. In that way, my characters are exactly like us all.



TQWhich question about Of the Abyss do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Amelia:  I was having trouble with this question, so I discussed it with my writing group and the barista at Starbucks (which is where my writing group meets) and they suggested, “Have you tried being less thorough?”

The hardest question here to answer was the one asking for 140 characters! I love this series and I love talking about it. It’s hardest to be brief!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Of the Abyss.

Amelia

It was a place of glistening black sand, venomous beasts, creeping vermin, and of course the Abyssi—those perfect, beautiful predators who ruled the infernal realm by fang and claw.

(The description of the Abyss and the Abyssi playing and plotting within at the start of the book was actually one of the last pieces of the book to write.)

He looked up at her with a gaze gone flat and ugly, with no hint inside it of the boy she had once known. “The power gets hungry,” he said, utterly unapologetic.

(This entire scene with Baryte was also a later-version addition, which is odd considering how important it became in the trilogy as a whole. When I went to revise and rewrite for the first time, I realized that Hansa and Cadmia are supposed to be high ranked and respected in their field but we never saw them actually doing their jobs. I also wanted to bring in some pieces of the larger overarching plot, which weren’t developed early in the first draft, since I didn’t know about them yet at the time)

"You taste uncomfortable, and a little angry," Alizarin pronounced. "But you also taste of power. A little dusty, cold like the Numini, but still power."

"Okay. I'm awake," Xaz snapped. "What did you want?"

"I don't remember," he said.

(As I mentioned, I loved writing Alizarin. His interactions with Dioxazine were especially fun. She’s used to dealing with Numini, and simply doesn’t know how to handle an Abyssi. He’s equally at a loss with her.)



TQ:  What's next?

Amelia:  Well, Of the Abyss is the first in a trilogy. I believe we’re aiming for a book each year, with Of the Divine coming out in 2017 and Of the Mortal Realm in 2018.

Divine goes back in time about sixty years, to the time of Kavet’s revolution, when the royal house was deposed. It isn’t a prequel, though; I think it’s more accurate to describe it as a companion. Either way, it provides the next puzzle piece readers need to unravel mysteries that come up in the first book, and sets the stage for the third book. Last, Of the Mortal Realm picks up where Abyss leaves off, and sees the story through to the end.

I’m currently editing both Divine and Mortal. I also, always, have other projects going, ranging from more work in this world (though not in Kavet) to futuristic Earth sci-fi.

My NaNoWriMo novel this year takes place several thousand miles away from Kavet, at the border of warring Silmat and Ilbian, and is inspired by a strange combination of Mulan and… and I have no idea, actually, but I think it’s going to be fun. Between the recent controversies over trans rights and my own experiences with friends who have recently come out or transitioned, gender has been on my mind a lot, so that’s going to be on the list of topics I explore this year as well.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Amelia:  You’re welcome- Thank you for inviting me!





Of the Abyss
Mancer Trilogy 1
Harper Voyager Impulse, September 27, 2016
      eBook, 400 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 1, 2016
      Mass Market Paperback, 496 pages

Interview with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
After decades of strife, peace has finally been achieved in Kavet—but at a dark cost.  Sorcery is outlawed, and anyone convicted of consorting with the beings of the other realms—the Abyssi and the Numini—is put to death. The only people who can even discuss such topics legally are the scholars of the Order of the Napthol, who give counsel when questions regarding the supernatural planes arise.

Hansa Viridian, a captain in the elite guard unit tasked with protecting Kavet from sorcery, has always led a respectable life. But when he is implicated in a sorcerer’s crimes, the only way to avoid execution is to turn to the Abyss for help—specifically, to a half-Abyssi man he’s sworn he hates, but whose physical attraction he cannot deny.

Hansa is only the first victim in a plot that eventually drags him, a sorcerer named Xaz, and a Sister of the Napthol named Cadmia into the depths of the Abyss, where their only hope of escape is to complete an infernal task that might cost them their lives.





About Amelia

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, when she was 13 years old. Other books in the Den of Shadows series are Demon in My View, Shattered Mirror, Midnight Predator, all ALA Quick Picks for Young Adults. She has also published the five-volume series The Kiesha’ra: Hawksong, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List Selection; Snakecharm; Falcondance; Wolfcry; and Wyvernhail.

Website  ~  Twitter @AtwaterRhodes  ~  Facebook

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts


There are 5 debut novels for November.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The November 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 November cover for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on November 15, 2016.

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 2016 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for November 2016 The list is correct as of the day posted.



Chandler J. Birch

The Facefaker's Game
Simon & Schuster/ Simon451, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts
For fans of Brandon Sanderson and Scott Lynch, a fantasy about a clever young beggar who bargains his way into an apprenticeship with a company of thieving magicians and uses his newfound skills in a vendetta against a ruthless crime lord.

Ashes lives in Burroughside—the dirtiest, most crime-ridden district in the huge city of Teranis. His neighbors are gangs of fellow orphans, homeless madmen, and monsters that swarm the streets at nightfall. Determined to escape Burroughside, Ashes spends his days begging, picking pockets, and cheating at cards. When he draws the wrath of Mr. Ragged, Burroughside’s brutal governor, he is forced to flee for his life, only to be rescued by an enigmatic man named Candlestick Jack.

Jack leads a group of Artificers, professional magicians who can manipulate light with their bare hands to create stunningly convincing illusions. Changing a face is as simple as changing a hat. Ashes seizes an opportunity to study magic under Jack and quickly befriends the rest of the company: Juliana, Jack’s aristocratic wife; William, his exacting business partner; and Synder, his genius apprentice. But all is not as it seems: Jack and his company lead a double life as thieves, and they want Ashes to join their next heist. Between lessons on light and illusion, Ashes begins preparing to help with Jack’s most audacious caper yet: robbing the richest and most ruthless nobleman in the city.

A dramatic adventure story full of wit, charm, and scheming rogues, The Facefaker’s Game introduces an unforgettable world you won’t soon want to leave.





Lena Gregory

Death at First Sight
A Bay Island Psychic Mystery 1
Berkley, November 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts
FIRST IN A VISIONARY NEW MYSTERY SERIES.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that something’s not right on Bay Island…

Since she left her psychiatric practice in New York City to open up a psychic shop in her hometown on Bay Island, Cass Donovan has given her fair share of readings to conflicted customers. But what she sees in Ellie Callahan’s future doesn’t bode well.

When Ellie’s mother, Marge, publicly confronts Cass about the reading, the embarrassment makes her want to curl up and die. And when she later stumbles across Marge’s body—and is a suspect in her murder—Cass is suddenly the star of Bay Island’s rumor mill.

Cass is determined to prove her innocence and save Ellie from meeting the fate in her unfortunate vision. But even with the help of her friends Bee and Stephanie, Cass will have to channel some serious sleuthing instincts to find the real killer…





James Islington

The Shadow of What Was Lost
The Licanius Trilogy 1
Orbit, November 8, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 704 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts
"Love The Wheel of Time? This is about to become your new favorite series." - B&N SF & Fantasy Blog

"Islington has built a world with all the right genre elements: complex magic, terrifying threats out of legend, political intrigue, and a large cast of characters whose motivations are seldom clear. Fans of doorstop epic fantasy will not be disappointed." - Publishers Weekly

"Ingeniously plotted...Islington's natural storytelling ability provides incessant plot twists and maintains a relentless pace...A promising page-turner from a poised newcomer." - Kirkus

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them - the Gifted - are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion's Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.

As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian's wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is...

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir.





Will Panzo

The Burning Isle
Ace, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts
A powerful and gripping debut grimdark fantasy novel, set in a world of criminals, pirates, assassins, and magic…

“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”

Cassius is not lost…

The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…

But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This is a treacherous island where the native gods are restless and anything can happen…





Abigail R. Shaffer

Children of the Country
Outpost19, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback, 290 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts
A debut coming of age story set in Southern woods filled with drugs, sex and violence--and a hidden tradition of voodoo-like magic. In a hard-scrabble town where family history defines destinies, a handful of teenagers bear witness to old traumas that still haunt adults working to keep food on the table. Modern pressures deepen old ruts, and in a circle of friends, each looks for their own path. A local drug ring offers high-speed comforts, and while some fall for easy choices, others find the strength to make their own place in the woods.

2016 Debut Author Challenge - COVER OF THE YEAR!2016 Debut Author Challenge Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November WinnerInterview with Lena Gregory, author of Death at First Sight2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November DebutsInterview with James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was LostInterview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning Isle2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October WinnerInterview with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - November Debuts

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