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Interview with Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of The Bloodprint


Please welcome Ausma Zehanat Khan to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bloodprint, the author's first speculative fiction novel, is published on October 3rd by Harper Voyager.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Ausma a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of The Bloodprint




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

Ausma:  I’ve been writing since I was a child, mainly because my head is filled with voices and writing seems like a good way to expunge them. As I grew up and became more serious about writing, I realized I have stories to tell—stories about people from backgrounds like mine. I wanted to be able to add my voice because it was something I didn’t see very much of when I was growing up. Representation is so important to your sense of yourself, it helps you understand the value of your contribution. Writing was one way to explore that.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Ausma:  I’m definitely a plotter. Part of it is stress factor—I can’t handle the stress of not knowing outcomes or how to get from A to Z. But mostly it’s because I like to do a lot of reading beforehand which helps me flesh out my story and lay it all out in my mind. I’m not completely rigid though—I outline very thoroughly, but if something new comes up, I try to follow where it leads.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ausma:  I’d have to say it’s deadlines. There’s simply not enough time in the day to read, plan, write, and keep up on social media. So often I want to curl up with a book or visit family or get other things done, and I really have to work at being disciplined.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Ausma:  The Ngaio Marsh mysteries with their gift for language. Dune by Frank Herbert was an awe-inspiring work of science fiction for me. The Shannara series by Terry Brooks for making me fall madly in love with fantasy. And I try to read a lot of history and books in translation so I can have a better sense of how rich and diverse our world is, and how we all fit together. I can never decide if my favourite book is Dune or if it’s Samarkand by Amin Maalouf. Both have influenced The Bloodprint.



TQDescribe The Bloodprint in 140 characters or less.

Ausma:  Arian and Sinnia, two powerful women warriors, embark on a quest for a sacred text that will help them defeat the oppressive rule of the Talisman.

Did I make it under 140?



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

Ausma:  The Bloodprint features a slow-burning, long-thwarted romance between two of its lead characters—Arian and Daniyar. It was my favorite part of the book to write!



TQWhat inspired you to write The Bloodprint? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Ausma:  I visited the Chamber of Holy Relics at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul several years ago. I was in the presence of a sacred manuscript and the room around me was filled with reverence for the written word. I wanted to capture that feeling in a book.

I like the narrative freedom that writing fantasy offers. I love its scope for building new worlds while relying on touchstones that we recognize from our own. Much of the fantasy I read is about the struggle between good and evil and the desire of good people to reclaim their worlds from darkness. I find that necessary and relevant today.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Bloodprint?

Ausma:  I read a lot of books about the history of the Silk Road, particularly the routes through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Iran. And I read a lot of political history about Central Asia. I became more than a little obsessed with the accomplishments and conquests of the Mongol Empire. I also watched documentaries, and studied hundreds of maps and photographs to get a better feel for the kind of world I wanted to create.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Bloodprint?

Ausma:  I love the cover designed by Steve Stone! It completely suggests a world in turmoil and under threat. And it’s not a spoiler to tell you that the main stronghold depicted on the cover represents the Citadel of the Council of Hira, a powerful group of women mystics. My protagonists Arian and Sinnia are members of the Council of Hira—the Citadel is their home.



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

Ausma:  The easiest character to write was Arian because I’d been thinking about what drives her for so long and I had a strong sense of her personality: she’s stubbornly dedicated to doing what she thinks is right but she’s willing to listen to the wisdom of others…in most cases. I know her background, her history and what she’ll sacrifice in pursuit of her quest. The hardest character to write was Daniyar because he keeps so much to himself and he resists when I want to push him to the forefront of the book. He reminds me that this is Arian’s story. But I worked at making him more flawed and relatable, so he isn’t just this aloof, sexy warrior.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Bloodprint?

Ausma:  I have a background in human rights so human rights issues are always at the forefront of my mind. I’m interested in exploring the question of what happens to societies that have experienced the hardships of war. What emerges from those broken politics? And what kinds of social and political conditions lead to authoritarianism or state breakdown? A common outcome of state collapse is the extreme vulnerability of women, children and minorities. The Bloodprint explores that kind of world and examines the question of what it would take to change things for the better.



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

Ausma:  Do I know a man like Daniyar in real life? Let’s just say yes and leave it at that!



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

Ausma:

       Silence and isolation were the legacy of the wars of the Far Range, the countryside despoiled and dangerous, outsiders viewed with suspicion and distrust. Women caught in the open were sold to slave-chains. Men were conscripted to the Talisman cause.

       And so the vast, wild country of Khorasan had shrunk into these pockets of ignorance and fear.



TQWhat's next?

Ausma:  I’ve completed the second book of the Khorasan Archives—the sequel to The Bloodprint—and will begin work on the third installment soon. I’m hoping to do some travel for research, but in the meantime, I’m finishing edits on my fourth mystery, A Dangerous Crossing, which will be out next February. I’ve also begun work on the fifth book in my detective series. It’s been a completely hectic but wonderful time!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ausma:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Bloodprint
The Khorasan Archives
Harper Voyager, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of The Bloodprint
The author of the acclaimed mystery The Unquiet Dead delivers her first fantasy novel—the opening installment in a thrilling quartet—a tale of religion, oppression, and political intrigue that radiates with heroism, wonder, and hope.

A dark power called the Talisman, born of ignorance and persecution, has risen in the land. Led by a man known only as the One-Eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing.

But there are those who fight the Talisman’s spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Foremost among them is Arian and her fellow warrior, Sinnia, skilled fighters who are knowledgeable in the Claim. This daring pair have long stalked Talisman slave-chains, searching for clues and weapons to help them battle their enemy’s oppressive ways. Now they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-Eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: the Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.

Finding the Bloodprint promises to be their most perilous undertaking yet, an arduous journey that will lead them deep into Talisman territory. Though they will be helped by allies—a loyal boy they freed from slavery and a man that used to be both Arian’s confidant and sword master—Arian and Sinnia know that this mission may well be their last.





About Ausma

Interview with Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of The Bloodprint
Photo by Athif Khan
Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a PhD in international human rights law with a specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans.  She is the author of the award-winning debut novel The Unquiet Dead, the first in the Khattak/Getty mystery series. Her subsequent novels include The Language of Secrets and Among the Ruins. A British-born Canadian, she now lives in Colorado with her husband.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @ausmazehanat


2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts


2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts


There are 12 debut novels for October.

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

The October 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 October cover for the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on October 15, 2017.

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 2017 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for October 2017 The list is correct as of the day posted.

Updated to include Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng.
Updated to include Court of Twilight by Mareth Griffith.



Melissa Caruso

The Tethered Mage
Swords and Fire 1
Orbit, October 24, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
     Epic Fantasy

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon Army.

Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage-mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire empire.

Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations.

But fate has bound the heir and the mage. And as war looms on the horizon, a single spark could turn their city into a pyre.

The Tethered Mage is the first novel in a spellbinding new fantasy series.




Mareth Griffith

Court of Twilight
Parvus Press LLC, October 17, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 342 pages
     Contemporary Fantasy

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Explore the hidden world of ancient magic within modern Dublin.

Six months ago, Ivy stumbled into the deal of a lifetime – great rent in a posh Dublin neighborhood and a flatmate, Demi, who was only a little weird. It didn’t matter that their flat is packed with exotic plants or that her flatmate does all her shopping on-line but refuses to meet the delivery man at the door?

Now, though, Demi’s gone missing, there are strange men hiding in the flower boxes, and a lot of strangers have suddenly taken interest in the whereabouts of her peculiar flatmate. When the police won’t help, Ivy knows she’s going to have to solve this mystery on her own.

Ivy dives headfirst into a secret Dublin, hidden in plain sight, and discovers that the longer she stays in, the more she risks losing the world she always knew. Can she save Demi without losing herself?




Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Bloodprint
The Khorasan Archives
Harper Voyager, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
     Epic Fantasy

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
The author of the acclaimed mystery The Unquiet Dead delivers her first fantasy novel—the opening installment in a thrilling quartet—a tale of religion, oppression, and political intrigue that radiates with heroism, wonder, and hope.

A dark power called the Talisman, born of ignorance and persecution, has risen in the land. Led by a man known only as the One-Eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing.

But there are those who fight the Talisman’s spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Foremost among them is Arian and her fellow warrior, Sinnia, skilled fighters who are knowledgeable in the Claim. This daring pair have long stalked Talisman slave-chains, searching for clues and weapons to help them battle their enemy’s oppressive ways. Now they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-Eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: the Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.

Finding the Bloodprint promises to be their most perilous undertaking yet, an arduous journey that will lead them deep into Talisman territory. Though they will be helped by allies—a loyal boy they freed from slavery and a man that used to be both Arian’s confidant and sword master—Arian and Sinnia know that this mission may well be their last.




Martin MacInnes

Infinite Ground
Melville House, October 17, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages
     Psychological, Literary Fiction

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
On a sweltering summer night at a restaurant in an unnamed Latin American city, a man at a family dinner gets up from the table to go to the restroom . . . and never comes back. He was acting normal, say family members. None of the waiters or other customers saw him leave.

A semi-retired detective takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes something strange, intangible, even sinister. The corporation for which the missing man worked seems to be a front for something else; the staff describes their colleague as having suffered alarming, shifting physical symptoms; a forensic scientist examining his office uncovers evidence of curious microorganisms.

As the detective relives and retraces the man’s footsteps, the trail leads him away from the city sprawl and deep into the country’s rainforest interior . . . where, amidst the overwhelming horrors and wonders of the natural world, a chilling police procedural explodes into a dislocating investigation into the nature of reality.




Ed McDonald

Blackwing
Raven's Mark 1
Ace, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook 368 pages
     Dark Fantasy

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
“A remarkably assured fantasy debut that mixes of the inventiveness of China Miéville with the fast paced heroics of David Gemmell.”—Anthony Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Legion of Flame

Set on a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…


Hope, reason, humanity: the Misery breaks them all.

Under its cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, the arcane remnant of a devastating war with the immortals known as the Deep Kings. The war ended nearly a century ago, and the enemy is kept at bay only by the existence of the Engine, a terrible weapon that protects the Misery’s border. Across the corrupted no-man’s-land teeming with twisted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies bide their time. Watching. Waiting.

Bounty hunter Ryhalt Galharrow has breathed Misery dust for twenty bitter years. When he’s ordered to locate a masked noblewoman at a frontier outpost, he finds himself caught in the middle of an attack by the Deep Kings, one that signifies they may no longer fear the Engine. Only a formidable show of power from the very woman he is seeking, Lady Ezabeth Tanza, repels the assault.

Ezabeth is a shadow from Galharrow’s grim past, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled or the gods he’s supposed to serve…



Jeannette Ng

Under the Pendulum Sun
Angry Robot Books, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
    Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
    Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
    Religious

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Victorian missionaries travel into the heart of the newly discovered lands of the Fae, in a stunningly different fantasy that mixes Crimson Peak with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Catherine Helstone’s brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon – but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.

File Under: Fantasy [ In Arcadia | Seek and Hide | The Queen of Moths | Lands of the Damned ]




K Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger's Daughter
Their Bright Ascendency 1
Tor Books, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
     Epic Fantasy, Historical Fantasy

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
"Rich, expansive, and grounded in human truth...simply exquisite.” —V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author of the Shades of Magic series

K Arsenault Rivera's debut, The Tiger's Daughter, the beginning of a new epic fantasy trilogy

Even gods can be slain

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach—but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

A crack in the wall heralds the end…two goddesses arm themselves…K Arsenault Rivera's The Tiger’s Daughter is an adventure for the ages.




Adam Rothstein

Orthogonal Procedures
Arche Press, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages
     Science Fiction, Time Travel

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Everything you are about to read is true. Mostly.

After US Postmaster Theodore Roosevelt showed the Nazis who was boss in 1942, the Postal Bureau--part of the Department of Transportation--ushered in an era of scientific marvels: simulcast via satellite, sub-orbital transnational flights, dazzle pistols, and electromagnetic driverless cars. However, long-simmering feuds between the Shamans of Commerce and the Wizards of Technology were not forgotten, and it isn't until the age of Sputnik and the Space Race that the secret organizations buried deep within the US Weather Service and Census Bureau make their move against the Department of Transportation. To regain control of the Administration, they'll need to rely on older—more esoteric—technologies: astrology, blood rituals, and strange creatures long thought extinct.

It's up to G-man Fred Mackey of the Electromagnetic Bureau, Domestic Interference Engineering Section, to figure out how to science America back on track. With the assistance of the enigmatic Assistant Secretary for Innovation and the world's leading specialist in rocket science and all-around occultnik, Mackey tackles the byzantine bureaucracy of a vast government conspiracy that extends from deep space to deep beneath the earth.

Welcome to 1970. This is the history you were never taught . . .




Michael Shou-Yung Shum

Queen of Spades
Forest Avenue Press, October 10, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 256 pages
     Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, Suspense, Thrillers

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Queen of Spades revamps the classic Pushkin fable of the same name, transplanted to a mysterious Seattle-area casino populated by a pit boss with six months to live, a dealer obsessing over the mysterious methods of an elderly customer known as the Countess, and a recovering gambler who finds herself trapped in a cultish twelve-step program. With a breathtaking climax that rivals the best Hong Kong gambling movies, Michael Shou-Yung Shum’s debut novel delivers the thrilling highs and lows that come when we cede control of our futures to the roll of the dice and the turn of a card.




Rivers Solomon

An Unkindness of Ghosts
Akashic Books, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 340 9ages
     Science Fiction, Space Opera, Literary Fiction,
     African American, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot—if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.




R. E. Stearns

Barbary Station
Saga Press, October 31, 2017
Trade Paperback, Hardcover, and eBook, 448 pages
     Science Fiction, Space Opera

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Two engineers hijack a spaceship to join some space pirates—only to discover the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI. Now they have to outwit the AI if they want to join the pirate crew—and survive long enough to enjoy it.

Adda and Iridian are newly minted engineers, but aren’t able to find any work in a solar system ruined by economic collapse after an interplanetary war. Desperate for employment, they hijack a colony ship and plan to join a famed pirate crew living in luxury at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space.

But when they arrive there, nothing is as expected. The pirates aren’t living in luxury—they’re hiding in a makeshift base welded onto the station’s exterior hull. The artificial intelligence controlling the station’s security system has gone mad, trying to kill all station residents and shooting down any ship that attempts to leave—so there’s no way out.

Adda and Iridian have one chance to earn a place on the pirate crew: destroy the artificial intelligence. The last engineer who went up against the AI met an untimely end, and the pirates are taking bets on how the newcomers will die. But Adda and Iridian plan to beat the odds.

There’s a glorious future in piracy…if only they can survive long enough.




Sandi Ward

The Astonishing Thing
Kensington, October 31, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
     Family Life, Contemporary Women,
     Literary Fiction

2017 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
In her inventive, sometimes bittersweet, ultimately uplifting debut, Sandi Ward draws readers into one extraordinary cat’s quest to make sense of her world, illuminating the limits and mysterious depths of love . . .

Pet owners know that a cat’s loyalty is not easily earned. Boo, a resourceful young feline with a keen eye and inquiring mind, has nonetheless grown intensely devoted to her human companion, Carrie. Several days ago, Carrie—or Mother, as Boo calls her—suddenly went away, leaving her family, including Boo, in disarray. Carrie’s husband, Tommy, is distant and distracted even as he does his best to care for Boo’s human siblings, especially baby Finn.

Boo worries about who will fill her food dish, and provide a warm lap to nestle into. More pressing still, she’s trying to uncover the complicated truth about why Carrie left. Though frequently mystified by human behavior, Boo is sure that Carrie once cared passionately for Tommy and adores her children, even the non-feline ones. But she also sees it may not be enough to make things right. Perhaps only a cat—a wise, observant, very determined cat—can do that . . .

Wonderfully tender and insightful, The Astonishing Thing explores the intricacies of marriage and family through an unforgettable perspective at the center of it all.

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4


The 7th year of the Debut Author Challenge commenced on January 1, 2017. Here are the 9 debuts being published in October, November and December 2017 that I most looking forward to reading.


Melissa Caruso

The Tethered Mage
Swords and Fire 1
Orbit, October 24, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
     Epic Fantasy

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon Army.

Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage-mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire empire.

Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations.

But fate has bound the heir and the mage. And as war looms on the horizon, a single spark could turn their city into a pyre.

The Tethered Mage is the first novel in a spellbinding new fantasy series.





Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Bloodprint
The Khorasan Archives
Harper Voyager, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
     Epic Fantasy

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
The author of the acclaimed mystery The Unquiet Dead delivers her first fantasy novel—the opening installment in a thrilling quartet—a tale of religion, oppression, and political intrigue that radiates with heroism, wonder, and hope.

A dark power called the Talisman, born of ignorance and persecution, has risen in the land. Led by a man known only as the One-Eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing.

But there are those who fight the Talisman’s spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Foremost among them is Arian and her fellow warrior, Sinnia, skilled fighters who are knowledgeable in the Claim. This daring pair have long stalked Talisman slave-chains, searching for clues and weapons to help them battle their enemy’s oppressive ways. Now they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-Eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: the Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.

Finding the Bloodprint promises to be their most perilous undertaking yet, an arduous journey that will lead them deep into Talisman territory. Though they will be helped by allies—a loyal boy they freed from slavery and a man that used to be both Arian’s confidant and sword master—Arian and Sinnia know that this mission may well be their last.





K Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger's Daughter
Their Bright Ascendency 1
Tor Books, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
     Epic Fantasy, Historical Fantasy

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
"Rich, expansive, and grounded in human truth...simply exquisite.” —V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author of the Shades of Magic series

K Arsenault Rivera's debut, The Tiger's Daughter, the beginning of a new epic fantasy trilogy

Even gods can be slain

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach—but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

A crack in the wall heralds the end…two goddesses arm themselves…K Arsenault Rivera's The Tiger’s Daughter is an adventure for the ages.





Rivers Solomon

An Unkindness of Ghosts
Akashic Books, October 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 340 9ages
     Science Fiction, Space Opera, Literary Fiction,
     African American, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot—if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.





Robert Guffey

Until the Last Dog Dies
Night Shade Books, November 21, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
     Science Fiction, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic,
     Satire, Humorous

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
A young stand-up comedian must adapt to an apocalyptic virus affecting people’s sense of humor in this darkly satirical debut novel.

What happens when all humor is wiped off the face of the Earth?

Around the world, an unusual viral plague is striking the population. The virus attacks only one particular section of the brain. It isn’t fatal, but it results in the victim’s sense of humor being obliterated. No one is immune.

Elliot Greeley, a young stand-up comedian starving his way through alternative comedy clubs in Los Angeles, isn’t even certain the virus is real at first. But as the pandemic begins to eat away at the very heart of civilization itself, the virus affects Elliot and his close knit group of comedian friends in increasingly personal ways.

What would you consider the end of the world?

Until the Last Dog Dies is a sharp, cutting satire, both a clever twist on apocalyptic fiction and a poignant look at the things that make us human.





Ruth Emmie Lang

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
St. Martin's Press, November 7, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
     Contemporary Fantasy, Magical Realism,
     Paranormal

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
"Told with brains and heart" —Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment

"Bristles with charm and curiosity" —Winston Groom, New York Times bestselling author of Forrest Gump

"A wholly original and superbly crafted work of art, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a masterpiece of the imagination." —Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness

"Charlotte's Web for grown-ups who, like Weylyn Grey, have their own stories of being different, feared, brave, and loved." —Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

Finding magic in the ordinary.

In this warm debut novel, Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us about adventure and love in a beautifully written story full of nature and wonder.

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit. As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places. From freak storms to trees that appear to grow over night, Weylyn’s unique abilities are a curiosity at best and at worst, a danger to himself and the woman he loves. But Mary doesn’t care. Since Weylyn saved her from an angry wolf on her eleventh birthday, she’s known that a relationship with him isn’t without its risks, but as anyone who’s met Weylyn will tell you, once he wanders into your life, you’ll wish he’d never leave.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.




S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass
The Daevabad Trilogy 1
Harper Voyager, November 14, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 522 pages
     Historical Fantasy

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .





Tracy Townsend

The Nine
Thieves of Fate 1
Pyr, November 14, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
     Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Folk Tales,
     Legends and Mythology

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
A book that some would kill for…

Black market courier Rowena Downshire is doing everything she can to stay off the streets and earn enough to pay her mother’s way to freedom. But an urgent and unexpected delivery leads her face to face with a creature out of nightmares.

The Alchemist knows things few men have lived to tell about, but when a frightened and empty-handed courier shows up on his doorstep he knows better than to turn her away. What he discovers leads him to ask for help from the last man he wants to see—the former mercenary, Anselm Meteron.

Reverend Phillip Chalmers awakes in a cell, bloodied and bruised, facing a creature twice his size. Translating a stolen book that writes itself may be his only hope for survival; however, he soon learns the text may have been written by the Creator himself, tracking the nine human subjects of his Grand Experiment. In the wrong hands, it could mean the end of humanity.

This unlikely team must try to keep the book from those who would misuse it. But how can they be sure who the enemy is when they can barely trust each other? And what will happen to them when it reveals a secret no human was meant to know?





Steven Savile

Glass Town
St. Martin's Press, December 5, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
     Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
     (US Debut - Own World)

The 2017 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 4
Steven Savile is an international sensation, selling over half a million copies of his novels worldwide and writing for cult favorite television shows including Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Stargate. Now, he is finally making his US debut with Glass Town, a brilliantly composed novel revolving around the magic and mystery lurking in London.

There's always been magic in our world
We just needed to know where to look for it

In 1924, two brothers both loved Eleanor Raines, a promising young actress from the East End of London. She disappeared during the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s debut, Number 13, which itself is now lost. It was the crime of the age, capturing the imagination of the city: the beautiful actress never seen again, and the gangster who disappeared the same day.

Generations have passed. Everyone involved is long dead. But even now their dark, twisted secret threatens to tear the city apart.

Joshua Raines is about to enter a world of macabre beauty, of glittering celluloid and the silver screen, of illusion and deception, of impossibly old gangsters and the fiendish creatures they command, and most frighteningly of all, of genuine magic.

He is about to enter Glass Town.

The generations-old obsession with Eleanor Raines’s unsolved case is about to become his obsession, handed down father-to-son through his bloodline like some unwanted inheritance. But first he needs to bury his grandfather and absorb the implications of the confession in his hand, a letter from one of the brothers, Isaiah, claiming to have seen the missing actress. The woman in the red dress hadn’t aged a day, no matter that it was 1994 and she’d been gone seventy years.

Long buried secrets cannot stay secrets forever. Hidden places cannot stay hidden forever.

The magic that destroyed one of the most brutal families in London’s dark history is finally failing, and Joshua Raines is about to discover that everything he dared dream of, everything he has ever feared, is waiting for him in Glass Town.

Interview with Adrian J. Walker, author of The End of the World Running Club


Please welcome Adrian J. Walker to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The End of the World Running Club is published on September 5th by Sourcebooks Landmark.



Interview with Adrian J. Walker, author of The End of the World Running Club




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

Adrian:  I started writing poetry when I was 8 years old and carried on through my teens. (Trust me when I say you do not want to read the results.) Then I discovered Douglas Adams, Stephen King, Tom Robbins, Glen Duncan, Zadie Smith…and realised that I wanted to write a novel. I had several false starts, including a month in my twenties holed up on a deserted beach in New Zealand, and it took me till my 30s before I completed my first book (From the Storm).



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Adrian:  I’ve tried both and I definitely prefer plotting. For my next book I’ve written scene cards, which I spread out on the kitchen table so I can see the story end to end.

That said, sometimes you have to go off the beaten track a little, which is why I ‘pants’ dialogue. If your characters are strong then their interaction can often lead you down unexpected and useful roads. The screenwriter John Logan tells a great story about how he wrote one of the pivotal scenes in Gladiator. Look it up!



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Adrian:  Resisting the urge to describe too much. The more a reader has to create the scene in her head, the more vivid it will be. The trick is to provide the right pointers; you’re really just showing her around her own imagination.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Adrian:  My fears inspire me, and every one of my books contains at least one scene which I’ve dreamed. I read a lot of non-fiction books too, so I generally write about what I’m obsessed with. Right now I’m reading ‘To Be A Machine’ by Mark O’Connell, which is about Transhumanism.



TQDescribe The End of the World Running Club in 140 characters or less.

Adrian:  Overwhelmed and underwhelming father runs 500 miles across a post-apocalyptic UK to reach his family before they’re evacuated for good!



TQTell us something about The End of the World Running Club that is not found in the book description.

Adrian:  I cried a bit when I wrote the ending. You’ll either love it or hate it.



TQWhat inspired you to write The End of the World Running Club? What appealed to you about writing a post-apocalyptic thriller?

Adrian:  I have wanted to write a book set in a post-apocalyptic world ever since reading Lucifer’s Hammer (Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven) as a teenager. What appeals to me about PA is the idea of emptiness, not just physically but socially. Removing all the constructs we’re used to in the 21st century allows you to explore characters in interesting ways.

It was running and fatherhood (both of which I had just found when I wrote the book) which inspired me to write Running Club. I wanted to superimpose the journey of somebody learning to run, and to be a parent, onto this empty world.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The End of the World Running Club?

Adrian:  Apart from my own experiences, (I’ve run a couple of marathons but never more than that) I interviewed a number of ultra-distance runners. They’re an extremely interesting bunch with lots to say on the subject, and the most interesting answers were about the psychological effects of running very long distances, which I explore in the book.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The End of the World Running Club.

Adrian:  I spend way too much time thinking about covers! The US one is radically different to the UK version, which is almost pure typography. This in turn is even more different to my original cover (more cryptic), back when I self-published the book in 2014. The US cover depicts Ed walking (or running) into a doom-laden sky and a red horizon, with crows circling him. I love how the colours pop.



TQIn The End of the World Running Club who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Adrian:  The easiest character to write was Jacob, a cameo of a friend of mine named Tobias. But Ed was easy too, since he’s a caricature of what was my darker side at the time. Grimes was hard. She’s the group’s protector, but I didn’t want her to just be a stereotypical tough soldier. She has her own vulnerability and history too.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The End of the World Running Club?

Adrian:  I’m not sure I explore too many social issues, other than how I imagine various types of society would function after an apocalyptic event (Edinburgh’s underground warrens, a Manchester housing scheme, a stately home, a boating community on the south coast). The story is really about Ed’s own personal journey.



TQWhich question about The End of the World Running Club do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Adrian:  Why do you mention a particular song near the end of the book?

Because it’s my favourite song to run to by my favourite band in the world, and I wanted to give it as a gift in the last scene. The lead singer of the band died earlier this year, so it’s even more relevant to me now.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The End of the World Running Club.

Adrian:  Okey dokey.

‘Belief’s are strange. Things of certainty about things uncertain.’ (Ed)

‘We’re all born screaming, Ed. The moment we pop out our throats open and the same scream bursts out that always has done. We see all the lights and faces and the shadows and the strange sounds and we scream. Life screams and we scream back at it.’ (Harvey)

‘I feel like I’m running through a fart.’ (Bryce)

‘Do I believe in God? I still don’t know. Did I meet him in the canyon? Yes.
Absolutely yes.’ (Ed)



TQWhat's next?

Adrian:  My next book, THE LAST DOG ON EARTH, has just been published in the UK and (fingers crossed) it will make its appearance in the US before long. I’m currently completing my next book for Penguin Random House, after which I’m planning to write WORDS, the second book in my self-published EARTH INCORPORATED trilogy. I also have another title called THE OTHER LIVES coming out in a few months time. Lots of books!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The End of the World Running Club
Sourcebooks Landmark, September 5, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Interview with Adrian J. Walker, author of The End of the World Running Club
#1 International Bestseller

"A fresh and frighteningly real take on what "the end" might be…quite an exciting and nerve-wracking 'run', with characters you believe in and feel for."—New York Times bestselling author Robert McCammon

Perfect for fans of The Martian, this powerful post-apocalyptic thriller pits reluctant father Edgar Hill in a race against time to get back to his wife and children. When the sky begins to fall and he finds himself alone, his best hope is to run – or risk losing what he loves forever.

When the world ends and you find yourself forsaken, every second counts.

No one knows this more than Edgar Hill. Stranded on the other side of the country from his wife and children, Ed must push himself across a devastated wasteland to get back to them. With the clock ticking and hundreds of miles between them, his best hope is to run — or risk losing what he loves forever.





About Adrian

Interview with Adrian J. Walker, author of The End of the World Running Club
Adrian J. Walker was born in the bush suburbs of Sydney, Australia, in the mid-’70s. After his father found a camper van in a ditch, he moved his family back to the UK, where Adrian was raised. Visit him at www.adrianjwalker.com.












Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @adrianwalker


Interview with Rick Claypool, author of Leech Girl Lives


Please welcome Rick Claypool to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Leech Girl Lives is published on September 26th by Spaceboy Books.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Rick a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Rick Claypool, author of Leech Girl Lives




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

Rick:  As a kid I spent a lot of time being bored at my grandparents’ house, so I occupied myself drawing cartoons, writing manuals for video games I made up, or stapling together drawings of dinosaurs or made-up creatures to make “books.” At the time I didn’t think of any of this as “writing” but that’s pretty much what it was. I didn’t do much in the way of creating actual narratives -- you know, stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end -- unless I was told to do so for school. That came much later.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rick:  Hybrid. I need to sketch things out in advance in order to make any kind of progress, but when I hunker down and start actually writing, the story almost inevitably veers off in unintended and surprising ways. Sometimes these unexpected offshoots are dead ends and sometimes they are way better than what I originally planned. The best of these, the ones that both work and take the story in unexpected directions, are the most thrilling part of the creative process for me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rick:  Not crashing my car when I have an idea and I try to write it down while simultaneously driving on the Turnpike.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Rick:  I love the maximalist worldbuilding and political conscience of science fiction authors like Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville and Madeleine L’Engle and I love the everyday absurdism captured by minimalist millennial authors like Sam Pink, Juliet Escoria, and Noah Cicero. In Leech Girl Lives, I try to bring these influences together to make a kind of offbeat minimalist sci-fi.

Of course it wasn’t just books that influenced me. TV shows like Adventure Time and Doctor Who have inspired me basically not to hold back my weirdest, craziest ideas, and the dystopia/utopia I invented no doubt owes a lot to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and 12 Monkeys.



TQDescribe Leech Girl Lives in 140 characters or less.

Rick:  This book is hard to succinctly summarize but here’s an attempt in exactly 140 characters:

Leeches replace Margo's arms & help her fight art terrorists & overcome depression. She discovers her utopian city's dark side & fights back



TQTell us something about Leech Girl Lives that is not found in the book description.

Rick:  In the Bublinaplex, the distant-future utopia where the story takes place, society is centered around making art (because humanity’s survival is attributed to creativity) and safety (because the city contains the last remaining human population, so everyone’s life is extremely precious). A newly popular art movement, reckessism, threatens to disrupt the utopia, as its adherents (recklessists) defy the society’s emphasis on safety by making art that is designed to physically harm its audience. Lorcan Warhol, the de facto leader of this movement, is the arch nemesis of the story’s protagonist, Margo Chicago, an art safety inspector.



TQWhat inspired you to write Leech Girl Lives? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Rick:  It’s the result of a mishmash of many inspirations. This is going to sound very serious for a book that on the surface might seem somewhat silly and escapist, but global inequality and exploitation as facilitated by unfair trade agreements and corporate supply chains was my initial inspiration. I set out to write a story where people who live in a rather blissful utopian future rely on the brutal exploitation of the people of the past in the same way that, in real life, people in rich countries like the U.S. rely on products made possible through the brutal exploitation of people in the Global South. My challenge for myself was to write a book that is something of a zany escapist sci-fi romp that simultaneously engages with this and other deadly serious issues.

In high school, I read E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” a science fiction story from 1909, before science fiction was a thing, and it literally changed my life. In a way, I write science fiction because I hope my writing could affect others the way that story affected me.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Leech Girl Lives?

Rick:  To be honest, not very much. One exception that stands out is that a major plot point depends on there being a credible way to force a tardigrade -- an odd, nearly indestructible kind of micro-creature that dwells in moss and mud basically everywhere in the world -- into its “tun” or dormant state. I had to peruse Google Scholar a bit before I found a paper that made what happens in the book with a stampede of kaiju-sized tardigrades seem not so scientifically wrong that it would bother me.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Leech Girl Lives?

Rick:  The cover depicts the beginning of a somewhat Nausicaa-inspired scene where Margo gets quite close to one of these massive tardigrades.



TQIn Leech Girl Lives who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rick:  I’ll respond in reverse. Margo was the hardest, since it is her perspective that the reader follows for practically the entire book. In order to maintain a consistent character, perspective, and voice for her for the duration of the novel during the years-long process of writing it, I essentially had to trick myself into thinking of her as a real person that I know, and I had to suppress the idea that she is just this artificial and in some ways arbitrary assemblage of traits and ideas that come from within me.

The easiest character to write was Lorcan Warhol. He’s malicious and flamboyant, like Tim Curry as Dr. Frankenfurter, and he loves to hear himself speak. I had a lot of fun writing him, as I think readers probably will be able to tell.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Leech Girl Lives?

Rick:  There’s no such thing as a novel that doesn’t include social issues. Sure, I made an effort to keep most of the politics as subtext rather than text in Leech Girl Lives. I’ll sum it up this way: At its core the book is against exploitation and ignorance and cynicsm and complacency and it is for fighting for what you believe in and confronting unfairness and choosing to be on the right side of history.



TQWhich question about Leech Girl Lives do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Rick:

RC:  How did you balance writing the book with all the other things going on in your life?

I work full time, I like spending time with my wife, and I have a four-year-old. It’s not easy. The biggest advantage I’ve been blessed with is that I work from home. When I started writing the book, before my son was born, I made a conscious effort to use the time I would have spent commuting in order to do it. So for about an hour every day I churned out about 300 or so, and I forced myself to always move forward with the draft, to not go back and revise anything, and in about a year those words added up to the sprawling, incoherent 500-page mess that was my first draft. By the time my son was born a few years later I was doing final revisions. I had no interest in using the book to cop out of my parenting responsibilities (and I don’t think my wife would have put up with it for a second if I did, and rightly so). Finding time to write is much harder now that I have to schlep the boy to daycare, but I still manage to chip away at smaller projects.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Leech Girl Lives.

Rick:  Here’s a particularly fun paragraph from the middle of the book:

“The balloon leered at Margo. It spoke, and as it spoke its eyes sunk back into its skull and its teeth stood up on its gums and the teeth performed a nightmarish dance on the thing’s forked tongue to a rhythmic bleating that blared out of its nostrils.”



TQWhat's next?

Rick:  I’m working on a post-apocalyptic, Lovecraftian piece that is either a very long short story or a very short novelette that’s inspired by Wall Street’s influence on our society.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rick:  Thank you for your excellent questions.





Leech Girl Lives
Spaceboy Books LLC, September 26, 2017
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 322 pages

Interview with Rick Claypool, author of Leech Girl Lives
“I used to live in the future. Giant leeches ate my arms and then replaced them. Under the circumstances, this was actually a good thing. Anyway now I’m here and I’m looking for someone else from the future.” 

Inspector Margo Chicago is the smartest, surliest art safety inspector in the Bublinaplex, and things aren’t going her way. The guy she thinks she’s in love with has been banished. Her boss has been poisoned. Her cyborg has a limp.

Oh, and her arms have been devoured and replaced by a pair of enormous leeches. As if that isn’t enough, it’s now up to Margo to save the Bublinaplex from art terrorists whose newest installation could drive humanity to extinction.

But things in the Bublinaplex are not as they seem. And when Margo uncovers the city’s murderous secrets, she must face a choice: Should she save the Bublinaplex? Or should she join the revolution dedicated to destroying it?





About Rick

Interview with Rick Claypool, author of Leech Girl Lives
Rick Claypool is a writer and activist who lives in Pittsburgh. He works for Public Citizen, a nonprofit organization that fights corporate power. He has a master's degree in popular culture from Bowling Green State University. He grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania called Leechburg. Leech Girl Lives is his first novel.



Website  ~  Twitter @weirdstrug

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September 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 2017 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/designer 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 September 30, 2017.

Vote for your favorite September 2017 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Kapo Ng




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Will Staehle




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Adam Laszczuk




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Ignacio Lazcano




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Adam Hall




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts

Interview with Maggie Shen King, author of An Excess Male


Please welcome Maggie Shen King to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. An Excess Male was published on September 12th by Harper Voyager.



Interview with Maggie Shen King, author of An Excess Male




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

Maggie:  Thank you for having me. It is a real pleasure for me to tell your readers about my book.

I studied English literature in college and have been an avid reader my entire life. I took one creative writing class in college and have always dreamed about becoming a writer some day. About ten years ago, when my youngest child started middle school and I had more time at my disposal, I sat down and gave writing a serious try.

I discovered that I really liked inventing stories, puzzling together scenes and situations, and polishing sentences over and over until I got them right. Writing suited my temperament and helped me find myself after a decade and a half dedicated to raising my boys.

I am very fortunate to live next door to Stanford University, and I started taking creative writing classes there.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Maggie:  I have been both a plotter and a pantser. An Excess Male is my first published novel, but my second attempt at writing one. My first effort, Fortune’s Fools, was written with an outline which I found very comforting at the time. I did not always follow it, but I had a fuzzy idea where I was heading.

An Excess Male was a writing experiment and an education every step of the way. I first wrote “Ball and Chain,” a short story which was published by Asimov’s Science Fiction. I was intrigued by the experiences of each member of this potential family and wrote alternating chapters from their points of view. I liked their voices but had no idea where they would lead me. It was fun and, at times, nerve-racking.

I thought I was writing a modern twist on the marriage plot with a male protagonist at its center. A fifth of the way into the writing, I realized that I also had a speculative dystopian novel on my hands and had to learn about the genre.

When I was at 90,000 words, I experienced a small panic attack. I didn’t know if my year-plus effort had an ending. I still remember meeting for coffee with my writing group pal, M.P. Cooley, and the two of us forcing each other to think through to the conclusions of our respective books.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Maggie:  Not get distracted by email and all the tantalizing things on the internet is my biggest challenge. I think best with my fingers on the keyboard, and I find that if I am able to do that, the words and ideas usually come.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Maggie:  I think my greatest influences first and foremost were my writing teachers at Stanford Continuing Studies. I’ve had the fortune to learn from Professor Nancy Packer and Stegner Fellows Eric Puchner, Thomas McNeely, and Otis Haschemeyer. They taught me the craft of writing and much, much more.

In writing An Excess Male, I looked to a number of books for guidance. The Handmaid’s Tale is quite similar thematically to mine. It fascinated me that the draconian measures in both The Handmaid’s Tale and in my book began as well-intentioned efforts to solve serious crises. The theocracy in The Handmaid’s Tale was facing an eroding environment, sharply declining fertility rates, and possible extinction while the State in An Excess Male was contending with overpopulation and mass starvation. The original intent in both cases was good, yet the practice in actuality was the legislation of what can and cannot be done to women’s bodies.

Another book that was very much on my mind was Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son. My book also had a situation where an entire citizenry was made disposable by a national narrative, a setting where everyone was aware of the unspoken subtext in public utterances, where it was not always safe for one’s outward actions to mirror what was in one’s heart. I was really inspired by a passage in The Orphan Master’s Son—a talk every parent must have with his or her child about how they must speak and act in the way expected by the State, yet inside they must still be a family and their true selves. They must hold hands in their hearts.

Some other books that helped me with world building and speculative dystopian novels: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Vampires in the Lemon Grove and St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell.



TQDescribe An Excess Male in 140 characters or less.

Maggie:  Under the One-Child Policy, everyone plotted to have a son. Now 30 million of them can’t find wives, and the State must intervene again.



TQTell us something about An Excess Male that is not found in the book description.

Maggie:  The many hours I spent at children’s laser tag parties helped me dream up scenes in this book.



TQWhat inspired you to write An Excess Male?

Maggie:  I got the idea five years ago when I opened up the morning paper and read about the gender imbalance in China brought on by its One Child Policy and cultural bias for male heirs. By the year 2030, 25% of men in their late thirties—nearly 30 million people—will never have married.

I learned that the natural sex ratio at birth is about 107 boys to 100 girls. The skew is nature’s ingenious way of making up for the higher mortality rate among males. During the 37 years in which the One Child Policy was law, the ratio got as high as 137 to 100 in some rural provinces.

Even with the phasing out of the law starting in 2015, this society will be testosterone-fueled, prone to aggression and crime, and plagued by an undercurrent of loneliness and dissatisfaction for decades to come. And to make matters even more intriguing, all of these unmarried men are the only children in their families, accustomed to the undivided attention of doting parents and grandparents.

This news story had more zip than my morning coffee, and I was convinced right away that it held the premise for an interesting novel.



TQWhat appealed to you about writing a near-future novel about what might happen due to China's One Child Policy?

Maggie:  After the Great Leap Forward, China was facing food shortages and mass starvation. Population control was essential, and the One Child Policy was China’s answer to a very serious crisis.

This policy also became one the largest scaled and longest lasting social engineering experiment of all time. It was enforced by Chinese officials and at times, by its citizenry in ways that often violated widely accepted rules of ethics and human decency. Despite the cultural bias for male heirs and repeated warnings from census data, the law remained in effect for nearly forty years.

It was an experiment that created serious unintended consequences, a true cautionary tale against man’s attempt to interfere with the natural order.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for An Excess Male?

Maggie:  In the process of writing two books, I discovered that for me research could become an excuse for not writing. After doing some reading on the subject in newspapers and magazines, I did internet searches as I wrote when the need arose. I also searched for appropriate photographs online to help me visualize settings and capture moods. Researching in this manner saved me time and made me focus on the story, and the material I found was exactly what I needed for the scene I was working on.

I joke with my friends that I should thank Google’s search engine in my book’s acknowledgement page, but it is really not a joke. It is mind-blowing the amount of information that is at our fingertips. Except for my visit to Beijing, I was able to find everything I needed online.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for An Excess Male.

Maggie:  The cover was designed by Kapo Ng. I loved it at first sight. The very modern male figure with the movie-star good looks pulled me in right away. I felt compelled to focus on him only to discover that his substance is composed of his city scape. He is a man defined by his homeland. The two bold, diagonal red stripes seem to place him behind bars, to circumscribe him in a way. Despite his winning looks, “An Excess Male” is nevertheless stamped across his visage, and the rather unforgiving, institutional labeling with the Buran USSR font (love that name) of the title further restricts him. The color scheme completes the cover by perfectly encapsulating the authoritarian elements of the story.

When I received the finished copy of the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the gloss that was added to the red stripes and title. It made the cover even more eye catching.



TQIn An Excess Male who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Maggie:  I found XX the easiest and the most fun character to write. He was on the autism spectrum and had a very distinct voice, one that was so logical it defied logic. There was no artifice to him. He began the book with the least amount of influence and power within his family, yet by just being who he was, he was able to make himself indispensable during a family crisis. Achieving that kind of reversal for a character was immensely satisfying.

I found my central female character, May-ling, the most difficult to write. Women were so rare in this society, they became nearly subhuman, a resource to be protected, commoditized, and allocated. She was the product of greedy daughter breeders. I wanted May-ling to be true to her upbringing and environment, and I had a difficult time with her youth and naiveté. She was initially focused solely on her relationships with her husband and son, and it felt stifling to confine her powers to the domestic realm. What she most desired—true physical and emotional connection with Hann—was absolutely crucial to her marriage, and her ability to vocalize and assert her need was instrumental to her growth. But the day-to-day drama of it began to feel repetitive and petty. It was when she moved out of the domestic situation into the the bigger world—into confrontations with other mothers at the park, with MONKeyKing, and with Tommy and Quality Gao that she comes into her own for me and finds agency.



TQWhich question about An Excess Male do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Maggie:  What is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene is the last merengue at the TV station. The book starts out with the dance and comes full circle in this scene. I love the cacophony of the crashing heels, the pathetic step and drag of the movement, the helplessness and desperation in the gesture, but also the power in these small acts of rebellion.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from An Excess Male.

Maggie:  How about three quotes that together sum up the premise and tone of the book?

“The government has awarded us—members of ‘The Bounty’—official status, investing in public campaigns to make the phrases ‘unmarriageable,’ ‘excess,’ and ‘leftover’ men unpatriotic and backwards.”

“The distraction and physical exhaustion of a thoughtful exercise plan are as non-negotiable for [members of ‘The Bounty’] as sleep, food, and weekly, State-arranged sex.”

“These days, only fools speak freely amongst strangers.”



TQWhat's next?

Maggie:  Here is one of the ideas I’m playing with: In addition to 30 million unmarriageable men, the One Child Policy has produced yet another set of victims—girls whose hukou or household registration were saved by their parents for a younger brother. These girls, called heihaizi or shadow or ghost children, are undocumented, illegal, and non-existent in the eyes of the law. They have no rights to health care, education, or legal protection. They cannot ride public transportation, marry, obtain or inherit property, or have children. The 2010 Census estimated the number of “nonpersons” to be at least 13 million. You can read my short story at: https://maggieshenking.com/companion-story-invite/



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





An Excess Male
Harper Voyager, September 12, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Maggie Shen King, author of An Excess Male
From debut author Maggie Shen King, An Excess Male is the chilling dystopian tale of politics, inequality, marriage, love, and rebellion, set in a near-future China, that further explores the themes of the classics The Handmaid's Tale and When She Woke.

Under the One Child Policy, everyone plotted to have a son.

Now 40 million of them can't find wives.

China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritarian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering.

Wei-guo holds fast to the belief that as long as he continues to improve himself, his small business, and in turn, his country, his chance at love will come. He finally saves up the dowry required to enter matchmaking talks at the lowest rung as a third husband—the maximum allowed by law. Only a single family—one harboring an illegal spouse—shows interest, yet with May-ling and her two husbands, Wei-guo feels seen, heard, and connected to like never before. But everyone and everything—walls, streetlights, garbage cans—are listening, and men, excess or not, are dispensable to the State. Wei-guo must reach a new understanding of patriotism and test the limits of his love and his resolve in order to save himself and this family he has come to hold dear.

In Maggie Shen King’s startling and beautiful debut, An Excess Male looks to explore the intersection of marriage, family, gender, and state in an all-too-plausible future.





About Maggie

Interview with Maggie Shen King, author of An Excess Male
Photo by Connie Tamaddon
Maggie Shen King grew up in Taiwan and attended both Chinese and American schools before moving to Seattle at age sixteen. She studied English literature at Harvard, and her short stories have appeared in Ecotone, ZYZZYVA, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Her manuscript Fortune’s Fools won second prize in Amazon’s 2012 Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She lives near San Francisco, California.


Website  ~  Twitter @MaggieShenKing  ~  Facebook

Interview with Brad Abraham, author of Magicians Impossible


Please welcome Brad Abraham to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Magicians Impossible is published on September 12th by Thomas Dunne Books.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Brad a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Brad Abraham, author of Magicians Impossible




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

Brad:  Thank-you for having me! I’ve been writing professionally for 18 years, first as a screenwriter and journalist, then as a comic book creator and (now) a novelist. Writing is something I kind of fell into, though not entirely by accident. Growing up I wanted to be a filmmaker – a movie director, specifically – and on graduating high school I went to film school to learn how to do just that. But over that program – 4 years - I found that the writing process was the part of filmmaking I loved the most; I enjoyed creating the world and populating it with interesting people much more than trying to execute it on screen. In my senior year I wrote and directed one film, but co-wrote several others, and found that experience a lot less nerve wracking than directing. Following film school, I decided I was going to focus on screenwriting as a profession, which was quite a struggle. It took about three years from graduation to “break in”. I’ve been successful at screenwriting, but I wanted to branch out into other areas of storytelling. I freelanced as a journalist, I created an acclaimed comic book series, and began to dip my toe into writing novels, where Magicians Impossible was born.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Brad:  I’m much more of a hybrid if I’m anything. I do outline everything before I write, and I spend a lot of time writing biographies of all my characters no matter how minor they may seem to be. I find outlining helps me “break the story” to use TV terms – to figure out what happens and to whom. But once I start drafting the story I’m prone to taking things in a different direction when the mood suits me. To me an outline is like your first draft of the story; if along the way I find a better way to get to the destination I have in mind, I’ll feel safe to divert off the path I’ve mapped and take a different route to get there. Magicians Impossible changed a fair bit between outline and finished draft, particularly the back half of the story, but to me that’s a natural part of the storytelling process. Any writer will tell you they could still go back and noodle with a book that’s already been published; you can come up with a great idea after you’ve finished your draft and will want to go back in and see how that will fit together. But in my outline I had my ending in mind before I started the writing, right down to the last sentence in the book. That remained constant; it was just the journey Jason Bishop took to get there that became a little more labyrinthine.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Brad:  Well, since becoming a father and juggling being a stay-at-home dad with being a work-from home writer, just finding time to write is the biggest challenge. I used to be able to devote a full working day to writing; now I have maybe half of that, as my day is occupied by dad stuff. That said, since becoming a father and having less time to write, I feel my writing has improved overall. I don’t have as much time to write so I make sure to maximize what time I do have. Because writing is my day job it helps to treat that like work. I focus on deadlines – personal or imposed – and I determine how many words a day I need to write to finish by that deadline. That’s basically it.



TQHow do writing films and TV series affect your novel writing?

Brad:  It’s certainly impacted how I write a novel, mostly in plotting and structuring. Film and TV writing is very structured, with three acts for film, five acts for TV. Having a solid background in structuring a story saved my life on many occasions, especially when writing Magicians Impossible and deciding I wanted to take the story in a different direction. Having a framework already in place meant I could see where the changes I wanted to make would impact the overall story, and adjust accordingly. If I’d just started writing without that roadmap I would have been lost, and the reader would have been just as lost. Film and TV, like publishing, is also very deadline-oriented, and I’ve never missed a deadline – even when I injured my back the month before Magicians was due I soldiered on, even when the pain became so unbearable I couldn’t sit at my desk for more than an hour!



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Brad:  Life. Travel. Experience. For me, getting away from my desk and experiencing life is the best tool you have as a writer. The globe-trotting aspects of Magicians Impossible are drawn largely from my own travels; the portions of the story that are set in Paris are directly influence by a trip I took there in 2011, from the Louvre right down to the location of a famous French film director’s grave. I also visited Stockholm, which has a minor role in the story, and Cold Spring New York, which is Jason’s hometown, is a couple hours from where I live. I visited that town some years ago and was captivated both by its beauty, but also by its history and its geography, particularly Storm King Mountain, which features in the story in a pretty big way. To me, travel is where I’m going to get ideas for stories I have yet to write. And it doesn’t have to be international travel either; even visiting a different part of your city or state can be enough to spark the idea.



TQDescribe Magicians Impossible in 140 characters or less.

Brad:  Jason Bishop learns his late father was a magic-wielding secret agent, and that those responsible for his father’s murder are now after him.



TQTell us something about Magicians Impossible that is not found in the book description.

BradMagicians Impossible is structured like a magic act, and is itself a puzzle-box of a story. The story you’re reading – and the one Jason is told – is not necessarily the truth. I’m a big fan of books that have a re-read value and aspired to that level. A second read of Magicians Impossible will be a much different experience than your first. A lot of people have told me they liked it on the first read but absolutely LOVED it on the second, where they could see how the pieces fit together.



TQWhat inspired you to write Magicians Impossible? What appeals to you about writing Contemporary Fantasy?

BradMagicians Impossible actually began its life as a bit of mangled syntax. I was trying to say “Mission Impossible” and it came out as “Magicians Impossible”. I thought it was a great title in search of a story, and it was a while before I latched onto one. Originally the magicians of the title were supposed to be stage magicians, acrobats, masters of disguise. It was my editor at St. Martins Press who thought “real” magic should be the element to tell the story – and he was right. To be honest when I sat down to write Magicians Impossible I wasn’t thinking of it as Contemporary Fantasy; I just wanted to tell a story. What appealed to me about working in that genre was the idea of a secret world running parallel with our own mundane world. That those witches and wizards and lands of magic I read about as a child still exist and still walk among us. We all could use a little fantasy and escape in our lives.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Magicians Impossible?

Brad:  I tried to avoid any similar stories – book, movies, TV – and just focus on telling my own. But what I did do was read a lot of folklore and mythology; particularly European and Middle-Eastern. For every page of my book there are probably ten pages of research, especially when we start getting into the origins of our rival magical clans The Invisible Hand and The Golden Dawn. I wanted everything magical in the book to have grounding in the folklore of our world, and didn’t want to be specifically tied to a Western or North American myth. An example of that would be the story within the story Allegra Sand tells Jason Bishop about an ancient chess game, which is inspired in part by a Middle Eastern fable. Another central idea – of the boundaries between the magical and mortal worlds – comes from a wide range of cultures, but the ones in Magicians I drew from Celtic legend. And the notion of Balance; what both sides of this conflict are seeking to either protect or undo is a very Eastern philosophy – think Yin and Yang. So there’s a real mix of real-world mythology and beliefs that serve as backdrop in the book.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Magicians Impossible.

Brad:  The cover is awesome. And what makes it awesome is it’s a great blend of iconic spy imagery like James Bond with the element of the fantastic of smoke and fire. I think that image paired with the book’s title basically tells you everything you need to know about the book without reading the jacket copy or plot synopsis. If the cover grabs you, the book will too.



TQIn Magicians Impossible who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Brad:  The easiest and most difficult characters to write were the father and the son respectively. Damon King, the magic-wielding secret agent was a blast to write because he’s at the peak of his powers, fast with the quip, and lethal with a deck of cards. He was just a fun character to write, despite being only a small part of the story. The flipside of that was Jason, who was much more difficult because his was the dominant POV, and the character who took us into this world. I had to do a lot of heavy lifting to make sure he felt like a real person. He’s very much me at a much younger age when I was still trying to get my act together. He also had to carry the story on his shoulders. The other characters in the story are all a lot flashier, but Jason needed to be grounded in our reality not theirs.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Magicians Impossible?

Brad:  On the surface social issues might not appear to be a big part of Magicians Impossible; I shied away from tackling specific real-world problems, but if you dig a little under the surface you will find them. The Invisible Hand and The Golden Dawn are both populated by a very diverse group of characters from all cultures and all walks of life. In fact Jason Bishop – American/Caucasian/Male – is the anomaly. There isn’t another character in the book aside from Damon, his father, who shares that background. To me the idea of these magic users being the rarest of a rare breed meant that had to be from places other than America. It made sense to me that they’d be a diverse bunch.



TQWhich question about Magicians Impossible do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Brad:  The question I have yet to be asked about Magicians Impossible is the one question seemingly every author is asked about their debut book; “how autobiographical is this novel?”

The answer: much more than I expected. To me the hallmark of good writing is authenticity; that you can tell when a writer has experienced the things they are putting their characters through. Magicians Impossible is most autobiographical as it pertains to Jason’s relationship with his family. I’m the child of divorce, and it wasn’t until very late in the game that I realized a lot of Jason’s baggage was my baggage; coming to terms with a divorce of sorts that happened decades before. Like Jason I too have found myself haunted by and obsessed with moments from my past. And also like Jason, I overcame those memories and moments and came to accept and embrace my place in the world. The journey Jason undertakes in is less about becoming a Mage as it is about becoming Jason Bishop – or at least the person he needs to become to survive in this strange new world.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Magicians Impossible.

Brad:

“The Invisible Hand is a secret society, comprised of individuals of great ability, skilled in the arts of espionage and wielding magic – real magic – as a weapon. Through deception we wage war, and with magic, we hope to win it.” – Carter Block

“First lesson, genius? Prophesies are bullshit; especially Great White Savior ones. Everybody comes to this place thinking they’re the next Mozart so you can imagine the disappointed look on their faces when they learn they’re Salieri at best.” – Allegra Sand



TQWhat's next?

Brad:  I’m about a third of the way through my next novel, which, like Magicians Impossible, is a bit of a genre mash up. I don’t want to go into too much detail because it’s still very much a work in progress, but it’s basically The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. It’s based both on my own teenage years, but also the books and movies and music I consumed at that age. Its scope is not as epic as Magicians, but it has a lot more moving parts, and I’m having an absolute blast writing it.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Brad:  Thanks for having me!





Magicians Impossible
Thomas Dunne Books, September 12, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Brad Abraham, author of Magicians Impossible
Magicians Impossible is a mind-bending page-turner! A brilliant and unique mash-up of spells, myth and mayhem, once it got its claws in me I couldn't put it down. Like a veteran stage magician, Brad Abraham has created a hip thriller that turns convention on its ear with misdirection and mayhem. A must read for enthusiasts of edgy and extreme fiction.” —Don Coscarelli, director of John Dies At The End

Twenty-something bartender Jason Bishop’s world is shattered when his estranged father commits suicide, but the greater shock comes when he learns his father was a secret agent in the employ of the Invisible Hand; an ancient society of spies wielding magic in a centuries-spanning war. Now the Golden Dawn—the shadowy cabal of witches and warlocks responsible for Daniel Bishop’s murder, and the death of Jason’s mother years beforehave Jason in their sights. His survival will depend on mastering his own dormant magic abilities; provided he makes it through the training.

From New York, to Paris, to worlds between worlds, Jason's journey through the realm of magic will be fraught with peril. But with enemies and allies on both sides of this war, whom can he trust? The Invisible Hand, who’ve been more of a family than his own family ever was? The Golden Dawn, who may know the secrets behind his mysterious lineage? For Jason Bishop, only one thing is for certain; the magic he has slowly been mastering is telling him not to trust anybody.





About Brad

Interview with Brad Abraham, author of Magicians Impossible
Courtesy of Brad Abraham
Brad Abraham is a writer whose previous work includes the feature films Fresh Meat and Stonehenge Apocalypse, as well as the TV miniseries Robocop Prime Directives. He is creator of the acclaimed comic book series Mixtape, has written for such publications as Dreamwatch, Starburst, and Fangoria, and was a long-time contributor to Rue Morgue Magazine. A native of Ottawa, Canada, he lives in NYC. Magicians Impossible is his first novel.







Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @NotBradAbraham


Interview with Joseph Brassey, author of Skyfarer


Please welcome Joseph Brassey to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Skyfarer was published on September 5th by Angry Robot.



Interview with Joseph Brassey, author of Skyfarer




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

Joseph:  Hi! Thanks for having me. I’ve been telling stories since I was 2 years old (My mother apparently has a hostage copy of my first one). I wrote a little in high school and more in college, which is where I figured out that this was something I wanted to do professionally. I had no idea how to do it, though, so I just experimented and pounded out stuff. I think a lot of authors go through that period where you’re literally just making things over and over until something emerges that works.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?


Joseph:  Definitely a hybrid. I used to be a full on panster, but eventually outlines started emerging organically as a way to keep track of the lynchpin moments I had in my mind ahead of time. Nowadays I usually sketch out a series of key moments that I’m working towards and do a number of chapter files up in advance with titles suggesting the relevant plot points. Then I start working through them. I often write stuff out of chronological order, so that outline helps. The flip side is that as often as I stick to my outline, I also find myself throwing chunks of it out. When a story reaches a certain point it takes on a life of its own and then I have to start listening. I think a way people often kill their own ideas is by refusing to listen to the direction they’re pulling.


TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Have the challenges been different for your solo debut - Skyfarer?

Joseph:  The hardest part about writing for me is always starting. There are times when the muse is flowing and times when you’re working by habit and discipline, but in both cases the hardest part is actually sitting your ass in the chair and getting the work done. With my last project, Mongoliad, I was one of seven authors operating in a fashion not unlike a TV writer’s room. When I started writing on my own again, the hardest part was finding my way out from that sort of box of expectations, accountability, and limits that you step into whenever you do a collaborative project. I was excited to be on my own again, but then I had to get used to being — well, on my own.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Joseph:  Early on I read a bunch of Brian Jaques Redwall books and the usual Tolkien et all. In College I discovered George RR Martin and Robert E Howard. Those influences were all definitely formative, but when I really started to get into doing my own stuff, the authors that started to jump to the fore were people like Emma Bull, JK Rowling, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Rick Riordan. I’d spent so much time in a very serious, somber sort of fantasy territory that the bright colors were dizzying and intoxicating.

As an adult I’ve been hugely influenced by anime and the recent glut of solid western animation starting to come out of the works. In particular shows like Young Justice, the Netflix Voltron reboot, Avatar, The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra (I’m a big fan of Lauren Montgomery’s work), Fullmetal Alchemist (and Brotherhood), Star Wars Rebels, Samurai Champloo, Last Exile, Princess Tutu, and a bunch of others all moved me. Sixteen years of tabletop gaming (both as a GM and a player) have definitely pushed me in the direction of being someone who likes ensemble casts, and stories about The Team of characters who accomplish things together and function as a family-of-choice. Also lots of comic books and manga. Probably more than I can list.



TQDescribe Skyfarer in 140 characters or less.

Joseph:

“STEM-Field Sorceress battles Hate-Cult Mercenaries for Truth and Justice.”


OR


“Ragtag band of Academic misfits disrupt private military operation. Cause immense Property Damage.”



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

Joseph:  As much as it’s about explosions, quests for truth, and skyships, Skyfarer is about toxic masculinity and war-profiteering. It’s about putting in the work and paying the price for knowledge and empowerment. It’s about identity and memory and perception of self. It’s also about how compassion and strength aren’t opposite virtues, or at least don’t need to be. It’s also about myth, the assumptions people make based on it, and what happens when that meets reality. It’s also about the family you choose.



TQWhat inspired you to write Skyfarer? What appeals to you about writing space fantasy?

Joseph:  The Drifting Lands are basically an endless sky with a darkness called the abyss below and a sun, moon and stars in the sky above, and there in this sort of empyrean middle, skyships traverse the vast distances between land masses suspended in the air. You can breathe on deck, and there are prevailing trade winds, storms, and the usual weather effects of the open sky. The main difference between this setting and a standard SF space-opera is the fact that instead of space and planets and hyperdrives you have an endless sky, a bunch of floating land masses, and portals that jump ships between them.

It was the weirdness of that idea that really got its hooks into me. I’d just come off of writing alternate history and was jazzed for something that was in a completely alternate reality. I grabbed a bunch of Space-Opera tropes and started throwing them at the wall in a Fantasy setting, and the Drifting Lands—and Skyfarer—emerged from that. But really, beyond all that, it’s the human element that pulls me towards whatever I’m doing. In particular I like stories that examine vulnerability, and that take people to those places. Untouchable strength—except as a veneer for inner doubt—doesn’t interest me much. I also care a lot about what brings out people’s better natures. I think there’s an excess of the perceptions that hard times summon our worst selves, when really it’s as likely to do the opposite.

A thing that I like about venturing into an extremely fantastical sort of milieu is that the human element becomes even more important. When you’re dealing with things that work so fundamentally differently from our world, that people act like people, that they still behave as we do, want, chase, dream, fight, learn, stumble and rise, is the thing that grounds a story and makes it relatable and truthful.



TQWhat is 'space fantasy'?

Joseph:  For me, anyway, it’s the mashup of SF tropes with the fantastical elements of a Fantasy setting. Skyfarer takes place in a world that is rooted—fundamentally—in the mystical rather than the strictly scientific, but where that gets fun is in the fact that science is a method more than anything else. So the people of the Drifting Lands treat Sorcery as a sort of science. The magic Aimee and Harkon practice works off of a sort of scientific set of rules called the three primes, but one of the distinctions is that rather than magic being a scientifically understandable force, it’s a purely mystical one that scientific methods have been devised to channel and make use of, and to be honest, it doesn’t always work as they think it should. Really in a lot of ways Skyfarer is a straight up fantasy story that’s taken a number of SF concepts and absorbed them. I think the result is pretty interesting.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Skyfarer?

Joseph:  I did some digging about governmental systems, and a bit of research about what the interiors of long range ocean-going vessels are like, and compared them with modern aircraft to sort of get a better sense for the spatial awareness of the interiors of Skyships and what they might be like. They’re more fantasy-spaceship than flying sailing vessel, so that feel had to be there. The other thing I read a lot about was childhood trauma, and how things that have happened to us when we’re very young can be suppressed, forgotten, and emerge again in adulthood. That was probably the most important thing that I felt like I had to get right. In no small part because I don’t want to do dishonor to people who have gone through it.

There are a lot of sword-fights in Skyfarer, but that’s something I do all year round in both a teaching and competitive capacity, so mostly that was a matter of just double-checking a few things and being aware of when I was diverging from reality and why.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Skyfarer?

Joseph:  The cover was done by Ignacio Lazcano, and it’s straight up amazing. It’s been my phone background continuously since I first saw it. On the front left is Aimee de Laurent, the principle protagonist, and on the right is her mentor and teacher, the legendary Portalmage Harkon Bright. Behind them is the book’s antagonist and secondary PoV character, Lord Azrael, as well as the Skyship Elysium. I really couldn’t ask for a better capture of the story’s tone. It was the sort of thing I just had to stare at for a long time when I first saw it. There are a lot of horror stories about covers out there, and Angry Robot and Ignacio really knocked this thing out of the park. I feel very fortunate.



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

Joseph:  The book rapidly jumps back and forth between it’s two PoV characters, Aimee and Azrael. It wasn’t so much which of them was harder to write as when each of them was harder to write. They’re both very young, and this burning mixture of contrasting hunger to prove themselves that is at the same time riddled with powerful self-doubt pushes each of them forward. It was tricky to balance how those same issues rattled two similarly aged but very different people in different and sometimes similar ways.

Aimee is essentially a woman in her setting’s equivalent of a STEM field, which requires a sort of problem-solving intelligence that doesn’t come readily to me. Azrael is a highly trained killer and strategist with a number of dark points that are well beyond my experience. I grew up around academia, and I’ve been a dedicated martial artist for a good chunk of my life. Those things—and their shared youth—gave me some easy in-roads to the way they think, but generally the smarter and more damaged parts that each of them were showing, the more challenging each was to present in a way that felt correct.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Skyfarer?

Joseph:  The oldest function of storytelling is to make ideas accessible. Fiction isn’t doing its job when it isn’t turning over something difficult in it’s hands and looking at its angles. I couldn’t tell an honest story, much less one that was worth reading, if it didn’t take people to places their minds might not have been to. Serious travel means getting out there and engaging. Any book I read, I want to do the same. The world is big, and it’s wrestling with things. Fiction that’s not interested in those conversations doesn’t interest me much.



TQWhich question about Skyfarer do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Joseph:  “What is your dream adaptation for Skyfarer and who would be in it?”

WELL SINCE YOU ASKED: I would love to see this book done animated in the style of some of the recent magnificent work of the last ten years, namely Legend of Korra and Netflix’s Voltron. I’d love to see someone like Lauren Montgomery adapt it, and if I got to choose a voice actress for Aimee, hands down, my first choice would be Laura Bailey. I’m a huge animation geek and I’m more likely to fanboy voice actors than traditional Hollywood types. Also Khary Payton would make a kickass Harkon, and I’d kill to see Josh Keaton or Travis Willingham do Azrael. Okay, I’ll stop now.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Skyfarer.

Joseph:

#1: “Skyfarers Remember.”

#2: “I once flew the Argathian gauntlet—a labyrinth of jutting rocks and jets of exploding gas—utterly shitfaced.”



TQWhat's next?

Joseph:  Currently I’m neck deep in edits on Skyfarer’s sequel, Dragon Road, which takes the cast and puts them through a mashup of House of Cards meets Murder on The Orient Express on a Manhattan sized trade-ship. I have outlines for more Drifting Lands books after that, so we’ll see. I also have a contemporary fantasy on the back burner that takes place in my native Tacoma that I’m working on, called Glassblade.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Joseph:  You’re very welcome! Thank you for having me here!





Skyfarer
Drifting Lands 1
Angry Robot, September 5, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Joseph Brassey, author of Skyfarer
An apprentice sorceress is dragged into a vicious quest across an endless sky in this Star Wars-inspired space fantasy

The Axiom Diamond is a mythical relic, with the power to show its bearer any truth they desire. Men have sought for it across many continents for centuries, but in vain. When trainee sorceress Aimee de Laurent’s first ever portal-casting goes awry, she and her mentor are thrown into the race to find the gem, on the skyship Elysium. Opposing them are the infamous magic-wielding knights of the Eternal Order and their ruthless commander, Lord Azrael, who will destroy everything in their path…

File UnderFantasy [ Diamond in the Sky | Quest for Truth | Knights Magical | Eternity & Beyond ]





About Joseph

Interview with Joseph Brassey, author of Skyfarer
Joseph has lived on both sides of the continental US, and has worked as a craft-store employee, paper-boy, factory worker, hospital kitchen gopher, martial arts instructor, singer, and stay-at-home Dad (the last is his favorite job, by far).

Joseph was enlisted as a robotic word-machine in 47North's Mongoliad series, and still trains in – and teaches – Liechtenauer's Kunst des Fechtens in his native Tacoma.






Website  ~  Twitter @JosephBrassey


Interview with James Bradley, author of Clade


Please welcome James Bradley to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Clade is published on September 5th by Titan Books.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing James a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with James Bradley, author of Clade




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

James:  Most writers I know always wrote, but although I was always a great reader it never occurred to me to write until I was in my early 20s. I suppose that was partly because I grew up without knowing anybody who write, and in a place and a time where it always seemed like books and writers came from somewhere else. And then, one day, I read and loved Michael Ondaatje’s novel, In the Skin of a Lion, and was incredibly struck by the way it said so many things I’d always thought and felt but not realised other people felt and thought. That made me wonder whether perhaps I might be able to write something that captured some of the things that struck me about the world, and what it was like being in it, and over the next few months I started writing poetry, and later I began trying to write fiction that took some of the intensity of feeling and compression you get in poetry into stories, and eventually novels.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

James: I think most writers are a combination of the two, but I’m basically a pantser. I tend to have a general idea of the structural shape of what I’m writing, and a few scenes and probably a feeling I’m trying to capture, but what always matters most to me is voice and rhythm, so I tend to piece the books together almost like poems or music. In some ways that’s even more the case now I have kids, and I tend to be writing in short bursts rather than sustained blocks of time, but having kids (and getting older!) has also made me a lot more disciplined and focussed, so I’m more efficient in my inefficiency these days (or at least that’s what I tell myself!).



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

James: So many things! I hate the feeling I’m repeating myself, or I’ve said something before, which means that although I think there are a number of unifying interests I tend to write a completely different kind of book each time. But I also need to feel a book matters, in some deep sense, or that it’s getting at something real or true. One of the great things about writing Clade was knowing it did matter in that way: not only is it about a series of questions about climate change and Nature and the future I care about very much, it’s focussed on a series of questions about family and kids and love and all the complexities of that which feel very alive to me at the moment.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

James: My writing is influenced by a number of things. I’m fascinated by animals and the natural world, and the ways we think and don’t think about them. But I also love the sorts of things you can do with science fiction and the literatures of fantastic, and the toolbox they give you to talk about time and the uncanny, and in both Clade and a number of other things I’ve written in recent years I’ve tried to find ways of bringing those two things together.



TQDescribe Clade in 140 characters or less.

James: One family. Three generations. A world in flux. Love, loss, possibility. Also bees.



TQWhat inspired you to write Clade? What appeals to you about writing SF and particularly apocalyptic SF?

James: I don’t think it’s accidental there’s so much apocalyptic and dystopian fiction around at the moment. We live in a moment in which a whole lot of things that were once certain are coming apart or ending, and apocalyptic and dystopian fiction has always been one of the things we use to contain and explore the anxieties that kind of change induces. But I think we need to be a bit wary of that impulse as well, because imagining the apocalypse is also a way of saving ourselves from having to ask hard questions about what we do if the world doesn’t end: as Frederic Jameson famously said, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. One of the beauties of science fiction – and one of the reasons it appeals to me – is that it gives us a toolbox with which to think about the future, and to imagine alternatives. And that mattered when I was writing Clade, because one of the things I wanted to do was to resist that kind of apocalyptic thinking, and use the idea we might have a future to create a space in which it was possible to see that history is long, the future isn’t set, and although there are some things we can’t change about what happens in coming decades, there are things we can change if we choose to.



TQPlease tell us about the title.

James: Clade is the scientific term for a group of organisms with a common ancestor and comes from the Greek word klados, or branch. I chose it because it describes the structure of the book, but also because I love the way the word itself is simultaneously so sleek and futuristic, but also echoes “glade”, so has all those associations of sacredness and beauty it has. I hope the book has some of that same combination of qualities.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Clade?

James: Most of what happens in the novel is drawn from the scientific literature, or at least extrapolated from it, although I assumed sea levels would rise faster than they were predicted to when I wrote the novel. The scary thing was that while I was writing it, many of the things that happen in the book that were supposed to be decades in the future or – in one case – were pure science fiction, started to happen. That process has only accelerated since I finished the book. The permafrost is melting, the icecaps are beginning to collapse, sea level rises that were speculative five years ago now look likely by the end or even the middle of the century. That feeling reality is outpacing fiction is completely vertiginous, and frankly, terrifying.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Clade.

James: The cover was designed by Adam Laszczuk, who is one of the designers at Penguin in Australia. I love it, but I also think it’s an incredibly clever cover, because it manages to simultaneously suggest the geological and the biological, and to capture the way the book is poised between the scientific and the natural.



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

James: I suspect the easiest to write was Dylan, who appears in one of the later stories, perhaps because the world he was in – a post-pandemic one – was so intriguing and because I found his work building recreations of the dead so interesting. And I’m not sure he was the hardest, but the one I worried most about getting right was Noah, not just because he’s on the spectrum, and his experience of the world is very different to my own, but because I came to care about him terribly while I was writing the book. It was incredibly important to me he be a person with his own unique and meaningful perspective, that he grew up and found a path through life that mattered to him.



TQWhich question about Clade do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

James: I don’t know! Perhaps something about the way the book explores the increasing blurriness of the boundary between the real and the virtual, and the way the virtual becomes a repository of what has been lost as the natural (and then the human) world becomes more and more denuded.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Clade.

James:

“There was a time when people talked about boiling the frog, arguing that the warming of the planet was too gradual to galvanise effective action, and although in recent years that has changed, delay have been replaced by panic, resistance by calls for more effective solutions, Adam still suspects that at some level people do not understand the scale of the transformation that is overtaking them. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, the reality is that this place is already lost, that some time soon the ocean will have it back, the planet will overwhelm it.”



TQWhat's next?

James: I’m just finishing the editing on the second volume of a series of young adult novels about alien spores that invade Earth’s biology, which have been great fun to write, but I’m also working on a new adult novel I’m really excited about and a non-fiction book about the ocean.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Clade
Titan Books, September 5, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with James Bradley, author of Clade
On a beach in Antarctica, scientist Adam Leith marks the passage of the summer solstice. Back in Sydney his partner Ellie waits for the results of her latest round of IVF treatment.

That result, when it comes, will change both their lives and propel them into a future neither could have predicted. In a collapsing England, Adam will battle to survive an apocalyptic storm. Against a backdrop of growing civil unrest at home, Ellie will discover a strange affinity with beekeeping. In the aftermath of a pandemic, a young man finds solace in building virtual recreations of the dead. And new connections will be formed from the most unlikely beginnings.





About James

Interview with James Bradley, author of Clade
Photo by Nicholas Purcell.
James Bradley is a novelist and critic. His books include the novels Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist and most recently Clade, a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. The Resurrectionist, a literary gothic horror, became a bestseller after being recommended by the Richard and Judy Book Club. He lives in Sydney, Australia.








Website  ~  Twitter @cityoftongues




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