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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Curtis Craddock, author of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors

Please welcome Curtis Craddock to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors was published on August 29th by Tor Books.

Interview with Curtis Craddock, author of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors

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

Curtis:  Thanks for having me. I started writing with the intent to be published about 30 years ago. Back before email was a thing. I am nothing if not persistent.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Curtis:  My writing process is best described as a thousand spastic frogs on an electrified trampoline. I begin with a clever plan for a story that gets derailed by all the nifty ideas I have while I’m actually writing it. These inspirations carom off each other and occasionally form patterns that look intentional, which I do my best to capture.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Curtis:  “The waiting is the hardest part.”—Tom Petty. Writing is the project of my life. It’s not supposed to end until I die, or even then if I can manage to leave behind a pile of unfinished manuscripts for someone else to obsess over. That having been said, I want to see my books in the world. I want people to read and enjoy them. On a purely selfish level, I want to know if I’m good enough appear on the big stage.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Curtis:  Reading. The house I grew up in was essentially a library with beds in it. When I was young enough not to need sleep, stayed up late reading. Also my father is a great storyteller when you can get him going. I loved Star Trek and Star Wars back when it was okay to love something without deconstructing it. These days, I’m influenced a great deal by the way science, politics, and religion shape people’s minds and behaviors.

TQDescribe An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors in 140 characters or less.

Curtis:  A polymath princess and her faithful musketeer outwit assassins, conspirators, and an ancient madman to prevent a disastrous civil war.

TQTell us something about An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors that is not found in the book description.

Curtis:  What counts as magic depends on your frame of reference. On the world of Caelum sorcery is a heritable trait, but nobody ever calls sorcery “magic.” From their point of view sorcery is a gift from their god. The word magic is reserved for strange or inexplicable occurrences. That man with the silver eyes stepping through the surface of a mirror is just a Glasswalker sorcerer, but a cow that inexplicably gets sick and dies might be under a magic curse.

TQWhat inspired you to write An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors? What appeals to you about writing a genre bending novel?

Curtis:  The first scene of the book came into my head almost fully formed. It was inspired by the real life-practices of the Louis the XIV of France, which I will not spoil for you here. I knew I wanted to write a story about Isabelle and Jean-Claude, a princess and a musketeer, that would do them credit while turning the tropes on their ears. For example, there are many stories about a young noblewoman running away from an arranged marriage, or being dragged into one against her will. Isabelle embraces the idea and runs with it. She’s going on an adventure, she’s going to get married to a prince, and she’s going to do math and science along the way. Jean-Claude, on the other hand, is a Musketeer with the soul of a con-artist. He much prefers talking to fighting and could sell a man his own boots.

As for being genre bending, I set the story in a period analogous to the first stirring of the Enlightenment in our world. It’s a time of rapid a frequently wrenching change, when people actually look to the future for inspiration instead of the past.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors.

Curtis:  The cover is by Thom Tenery of Star Wars: Rogue One and Oblivion fame. It’s an absolutely gorgeous cover depicting Isabelle and Jean-Claude. No particular scene from the book is portrayed but it’s very atmospheric and gives a good impression of the soaring continents from which the world is composed.

TQIn An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Curtis:  Jean-Claude is by far the easiest to write, most days. He’s a stage manager in the theater of life and sees the world from behind the curtain. The hardest to write was Julio, because he’s on stage for a relatively short period of time. He’s much more opaque to me than the other characters.

TQWhich question about An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Curtis:  Q: So is this just another save the kingdom and restore the monarchy story, or do you have something else in mind?

A: Actually it’s specifically not a put-things-back-the-way-they-were story. If the Risen Kingdoms stories go on long enough, they’ll be about the transformation of kingdoms into nations, subjects into citizens. The changes are incremental and largely adaptive, but they have no end point.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors.


Jean- Claude said, “A word of advice, friend. The next time somebody offers you money to kill a King’s Own Musketeer, turn it down.”

“I serve l’Empire Céleste. In my youth, I served myself and thought that l’Empire did too, but that is foolish. A man must die, but an empire can go on forever.”

TQWhat's next?

Curtis:  I just turned book two of the Risen Kingdoms into my editor, and now I’m working on book three. After that I have Ideas for a weird Western and a Hard SF standalone. Of course, if people want more Risen Kingdoms I will oblige. The world of Caelum is big and old and strange.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Curtis:  Thank you for having me.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
The Risen Kingdoms 1
Tor Books, August 29, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Curtis Craddock, author of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
A delightful and engrossing fantasy debut featuring an intelligent heroine and her guardian, a royal musketeer.

In a world of soaring continents and bottomless skies, where a burgeoning new science lifts skyships into the cloud-strewn heights, and ancient blood-borne sorceries cling to a fading glory, Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs is about to be married to a man she has barely heard of, the second son of a dying king in an empire collapsing into civil war.

Born without the sorcery that is her birthright but with a perspicacious intellect, Isabelle believes her marriage will stave off disastrous conflict and bring her opportunity and influence. But the last two women betrothed to this prince were murdered, and a sorcerer-assassin is bent on making Isabelle the third. Aided and defended by her loyal musketeer, Jean-Claude, Isabelle plunges into a great maze of prophecy, intrigue, and betrayal, where everyone wears masks of glamour and lies. Step by dangerous step, she unravels the lies of her enemies and discovers a truth more perilous than any deception.

About Curtis

Interview with Curtis Craddock, author of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
Portrait Innovations
Curtis Craddock lives in Sterling, CO where he teaches English to inmates in a state penitentiary. An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is his first book.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @Artfulskeptic

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts

There are 11 debut novels for September.

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

The September 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 September cover for the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on September 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 September 2017 The list is correct as of the day posted.

Brad Abraham

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

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
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.

James Bradley

Titan Books, September 5, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
     Science Fiction \ Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
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.

Joseph Brassey

Angry Robot, September 5, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
     Epic Fantasy/ Science Fiction
     (Solo Debut)

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
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 ]

Adam Burch

Song of Edmon
The Fracture Worlds 1
47North, September 1, 2017
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 444 pages
     Science Fiction

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
In Adam Burch’s thrilling series debut, a young man must choose between violence and peace in a distant world divided between those who thrive in endless sunlight and those who survive in eternal darkness.

The isolated planet of Tao is a house divided: the peaceful Daysiders live in harmony while the pale Nightsiders pursue power and racial purity through the violent ritual of the Combat.

Edmon Leontes, the gentle son of a ruthless warrior noble and a proud Daysider, embodies Tao’s split nature. The product of diametrically opposed races, Edmon hopes to live a quiet life pursuing the music of his mother’s people, but his Nightsider father cruelly forces him to continue in his bloody footsteps to ensure his legacy.

Edmon’s defiance will cost him everything…and spark a revolution that will shake the foundations of Tao. His choice—to embrace the light or surrender to the darkness—will shape his own fate and that of his divided world.

Catherine Burns

The Visitors
Gallery/Scout Press, September 26, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
     Psychological Thriller

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
“Once you start Catherine Burns's dark, disturbing, and enthralling debut novel, it's hard to stop. The Visitors is bizarrely unsettling, yet compulsively readable.” —Iain Reid, internationally bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door...and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side....

Rick Claypool

Leech Girl Lives
Spaceboy Books LLC, September 26, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 322 pages
     Post-Apocalyptic / Humorous

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
“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?

Randal Graham

Beforelife: A Likely Story
ECW Press, September 5, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 536 pages
     Fantasy / Science Fiction / Humorous

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
It’s okay if you don’t believe in the afterlife. The people who live there don’t believe in you, either.

What if you went to heaven and no one there believed in Earth? This is the question at the heart of Beforelife, a satirical novel that follows the post-mortem adventures of widower Ian Brown, a man who dies on the book’s first page and finds himself in an afterlife where no one else believes in “pre-incarnation.” The other residents of the afterlife have mysteriously forgotten their pre-mortem lives and think that anyone who remembers a mortal life is suffering from a mental disorder called the “Beforelife Delusion.”

None of that really matters to Ian. All he wants to do is reunite with Penelope, his wife. Scouring the afterlife for any sign of her, Ian accidentally winds up on a quest to prove that the beforelife is real. This puts him squarely into the crosshairs of some of history’s greatest heroes and villains, all of whom seem unhealthily obsessed with erasing Ian’s memories and preventing him from reminding anyone of their pre-mortem lives. Only by staying a step ahead of his enemies can Ian hope to keep his much-needed marbles, find Penelope, and restore the public’s memories of the beforelife.

Holly Goddard Jones

The Salt Life
G.P. Putnam's Sons, September 5, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages
     Literary / Science Fiction / Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic
     (SpecFic Debut)

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
In the spirit of Station Eleven and California, award-winning novelist Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary spin on the dystopian genre with this gripping story of survival and humanity about a group of adrenaline junkies who jump “the Salt Line.”

How far will they go for their freedom—once they decide what freedom really means?

In an unspecified future, the United States’ borders have receded behind a salt line—a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what’s left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.

Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks—and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line.

Maggie Shen King

An Excess Male
Harper Voyager, September 12, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
     Science Fiction / Hard Science Fiction

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
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.

Annalee Newitz

Tor Books, September 19, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
     Science Fiction / Hard Science Fiction

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
When anything can be owned, how can we be free

Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.

Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understand.

And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?

Adrian J. Walker

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

2017 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
#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.

Interview with Lise Breakey, author of Unraveling Timelines

Please welcome Lise Breakey to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Unraveling Timelines is published on August 31st by Candlemark & Gleam.

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

Interview with Lise Breakey, author of Unraveling Timelines

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

Lise:  Thank you for inviting me! I was 16. Before that, I was a reader. I did very little other than read, so I began writing under the assumption that I wouldn’t be good at anything else. And I wanted to read a book I hadn’t been able to find, so I had to write it.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Lise:  I switch between them because neither one works for long. When I can’t pants, I go back to plotting, and when I can no longer plot, I must pants.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Lise:  Writing a lousy zero draft. That’s probably the most important skill in writing and I can’t do it. I can’t turn off my internal editor. If I could, I’d get a lot more done.

TQWhat has influenced/influences your writing?

Lise:  I am voracious re-reader of certain very good books, so their authors have had, I hope, a lot of influence on my style. To name a few, I go to Tolkien and Le Guin for their clarity of description and characterization. I go to Douglas Adams to learn timing and humor. I would like to claim Neil Gaiman as an influence, but his voice is so quiet, I can’t hear it well enough to imitate. I channel Margaret Atwood easily, but what sounds good in her voice is just annoying coming from my characters, so I have to fight her influence.

TQDescribe Unraveling Timelines in 140 characters or less.

Lise:  Ordinary guy helps time-traveling girl escape her father’s killers. When the pair seek revenge, they learn the horrifying truth about her family.

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

Lise:  There is a small tribute to Harlan Ellison on page 39.

TQWhat inspired you to write Unraveling Timelines? What appealed to you about writing about time travel?

Lise:  The original inspiration was a famous work of art called Madonna by the Expressionist painter, Edvard Munch. Even though it’s of a naked woman with her eyes closed and a come hither look on her face, which does not suggest empowerment, she struck me as a powerful person, and someone I wanted to get to know. The artist’s description of her almost invokes her as a goddess, a divine creatrix, and yet she seems human and flawed, as if she doubts herself and runs away from her responsibilities. Time travel seemed to be the natural ability for her to have because it encapsulates both the creative force and the running away part. Nikki creates a new alternate timeline every time she goes into the past, and then for most of the book, she leaves it behind without concern for what might happen to it.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Unraveling Timelines?

Lise:  The history and geography of Paris in La Belle Epoque, the life and work of Edvard Munch, what San Francisco was like in 1906 before and after the earthquake, the history of Chinese immigrants in California, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and some of the most common objections to it as a plausible hypothesis.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Unraveling Timelines?

Lise:  Oh, it was love at first sight. The artist is Eleni Tsami. I think she read my mind. The cover is everything I didn’t know I wanted it to be. Basically, it’s Madonna, but she has a dark, direct gaze; the city is unraveling around her and she’s intertwined with a dragon who, believe it or not, belongs there.

TQIn Unraveling Timelines, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Lise:  Definitely Peter Chang. He’s an archetypal everyman, an Arthur Dent — the naive character whose perspective makes the boring exposition seem fresh and funny. Nikki is more personal to me, but also more painful. But the villains, of whom there are several, were hard to write because they all started out as sinister moustache-twirlers, then evolved into people whose motives were plausible and even sympathetic. Writing them was a tightrope walk between, on the one hand, keeping them real, and on the other, maintaining the tension between them and the protagonists. But that’s every writer’s job.

TQWhy have you chosen to include social issues in Unraveling Timelines?

Lise:  I don’t think it’s possible to write any novel without conveying some sort of social message, even if it’s as simple as “Don’t be an asshole.” In this book, the question of a time traveler’s moral responsibility is not an issue any of us deal with directly, but it has real world parallels, such as climate change, and the relationship of the powerful to the powerless.

There are also a few issues addressed overtly through statements of the characters’ values. For example, at one point Nikki, Peter and a pregnant woman are trapped by the killers. The pregnant character suggests that Peter—whose only experience of combat is playing Skyrim—should go defend the women. Nikki’s response is, “We’re not sacrificing him just because he has a Y chromosome!” Which to me is an acknowledgment of how the patriarchy hurts men. But your mileage may vary.

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

Lise:  “Where do you get your ideas?” because then I could say, “You’re asking the wrong question.” The problem is never a shortage of ideas. Every news report, every book, every movie, every post on social media, every picture, every real person that you meet opens up a torrent of ideas. My editor, for example, is a strong-willed feminist Greek immigrant former academic molecular biology researcher— named Athena, of all things — in Trump’s America. Tell me you don’t see any potential for conflict there.

The problem really is that there are so many ideas, raining down on us all the time, that we’re conditioned to reject them in self-defense, often on a subconscious level before we’re aware of them. So first you have to train yourself to pay attention. Then you have to pick the right idea. This is where many people, myself included, make their second mistake. Once you’re aware of all the ideas out there, you realize none of them are original and, poor misguided soul, you think originality is essential. So instead of developing one decent idea, you try to achieve originality by combining two or more. This never works. Multiple messages only undermine each other and the result is a weak, unreadable pile of squick.

After you ditch the conceit of originality, you still have to pick an idea. The right idea is the one that will sustain your interest through the grueling death march of writing a book. So pick something that you care about, and if it scares you, so much the better.

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


        [Quote 1] The hallway to the living room was floored with boards that creaked abominably when he stepped on them. He was walking with heavy deliberation, like the tick of a great, slow clock, and tried to make himself quit it. The chill in the air was only the furnace going out, he thought, until he remembered that it was September. He eased past a precarious stack of packaged game disks with words like slaughter, bloodbath, massacre, and carnage in their titles, reached the doorway to the living room, and hesitated. Surely anyone in there had heard him coming.

        [Quote 2] “Now come on.” Tom shifted. “Ain’t no time for hysterics.”
        “They kidnapped her!” Peter said. “Forced her to timewalk out! She’s going to get her brain sucked out! I don’t have any way to reach her. Or get home. This is April 17, 1906! It’s the perfect time for hysterics!”
        “Well, you can’t have ’em here,” said the doorman.

TQWhat’s next?

Lise:  The sequel doesn’t have a name yet, but it’s about a young woman, born at the end of Unraveling Timelines, who visits New York City in 1946, falls in love with a jazz musician, and almost causes the world to end.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!

Lise:  Thank you so much for having me!

Unraveling Timelines
Candlemark & Gleam, August 31, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 310 pages

Interview with Lise Breakey, author of Unraveling Timelines
Peter Chang is an unassuming young man from San Francisco who wonders how he got the stockbroker job he is so obviously unqualified for. One night, his boss’ daughter emerges from the wall in his office, pursued by killers. Smitten, Peter helps her escape — and the life he understands disappears as he is snatched from one alternate timeline to another.

Nikki Varian is a bohemian rebel whose overbearing father uses his time-traveling power to create alternate timelines and exploit them for profit. But when the old man is murdered, her quest to find his killers and preserve what is left of her family leads her to the horrifying truth: that alternate timelines can be destroyed as well as created.

When Nikki is captured by the survivors of her father’s xenophobic extermination campaign, Peter must discover his own mysterious power in order to save her. Together, Nikki and Peter must find a way to make peace with her father’s implacable enemies — or the timeline that they both call home will be the first of many to unravel.

About Lise

Lise started out writing fantasy role-playing game articles and books but has also written science fiction intermittently over the last 25 years. In her day job, she is an attorney, handling indigent criminal appeals and writs in the California Courts of Appeal. She also invented the traffic sign which reads “Resume Being Unprepared To Stop.” She lives with her family in La Mesa, California. Her best writing occurs in various coffeehouses in La Mesa Village.

Goodreads  ~  Facebook

Look for Lise signing at Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA, on September 16th. More information here (Facebook) and here (Mysterious Galaxy).

Interview with Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace

Please welcome Spencer Ellsworth to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Red Peace is published on August 22nd by

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

Interview with Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace

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

Spencer:  Hi Qwillery! I started writing at the age of five, because I learned how. When I was six years old I snuck out of my room at night to read The Hobbit all night. I didn't understand any of it (the riddles don't translate well to SoCal kids in the 80s) but I knew I wanted to make a story as exciting.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Spencer:  I plot just enough to get through the book. Usually my third acts have the biggest changes from the plot--in the case of A Red Peace, for instance, I changed a crucial death at the 2/3 mark to give the ending punch.

We call that the "third-act slump" in the writing business. Sometimes we call it the Pit of Despair, or "a composite word including f***."

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?


Other than that, I often struggle with the dichotomy between big, important ideas, and the desire to have fun. A Red Peace is supposed to be swashbuckling space opera fun, but I'm also trying to say something about xenophobia and how easily people buy their own hype. Sometimes it can be a real struggle to get the tone right.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Spencer:  On the high art end, Shakespeare, Octavia Butler, and Tolkien. On the low art end, I've read every single Transformers comic that came out in the last 30 years.

TQDescribe A Red Peace in 140 characters or less.

Spencer:  A galactic empire falls. The Resistance sweeps into power. Their first order: "kill all humans."

Also, giant space bugs.

TQTell us something about A Red Peace that is not found in the book description.

Spencer:  The working title was "Kill Luke Skywalker," because the main villain started out as basically Luke gone bad--a mystical swordfighting warrior dude who starts to buy his own hype.

(He got more original later, but retains a bit of the "aw-shucks farmboy" appeal of the character.)

TQWhat inspired you to write A Red Peace? What appeals to you about writing Space Opera?

Spencer:  Years ago the first scene of A Red Peace barreled into my head. where the new rulers of the galaxy sweep into the chambers of government and say "okay, now we kill all the humans."

I loved the idea. It promised a really gutsy, powerful story, and one I hadn't seen in the various plucky Rebellion vs Evil Empire stories. But I had to figure out who gave that order and why. A few years later, I was watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which has a bunch of cloned soldiers happily going to their deaths for the Republic.

I realized two things: 1) the Star Wars prequels would make a lot more sense if they were about this clone army asserting their rights and overthrowing the Republic and 2) there was no reason I couldn't do my own version of that idea. A bit like the Russian Revolution in space, where the oppressed rise up against an out-of-touch ruling class.

With giant space bugs.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Red Peace?

Spencer:  I did quite a bit of reading about World War I and the Russian Revolution. I really enjoyed China Mievelle's book October and a little-know book by Christopher Dobson called The Day They Almost Bombed Moscow.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Red Peace.

Spencer:  Sparth is the artist and he's amazing! Aren't the covers incredible?

A Red Peace shows the Moths, which are the light fighters used by the cross army. They are what you get when you make fighter jets out of used carapaces, bought wholesale from sentient worms.

The Moths are the center of a pretty cool action sequence in A Red Peace, and a REALLY cool big final action sequence in the third book, Memory's Blade.

TQIn A Red Peace who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Spencer:  The book has two main characters, Jaqi and Araskar, and Jaqi just leapt into my head and stayed there. She's a quintessential smuggler and scavenger with a heart of gold.

Araskar, her opposite, had to have several chapters redone because he is the main antagonist. He abuses drugs and follows bad orders even though he knows they're bad orders. I wanted the audience both to like him, and shout OH COME ON DO THE RIGHT THING! at him.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in A Red Peace?

Spencer:  We're never divorced from social issues, even in something as fluffy and fun as my book seeks to be. A meme went around a little while ago that talked about how Luke Skywalker was a radicalized orphan boy who commits a major act of terrorism. It was funny, but also very true to history. The big, divisive, believe-in-me-I'll-protect-you figures are often both deliverer and monster.

TQWhich question about A Red Peace do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Spencer:  "Will there be more?" Yes! Book two, Shadow Sun Seven, is up for preorder now, out in November, and book three, Memory's Blade, will follow soon, out in February of 2018. Binge em!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Red Peace.


"What kind of meat?"
"Matters, does it?"
"Not really. As long as it was breathing once and it's salted now."

This is ugly high art. This is the core of ugly, around which all other ugly orbits.

Luck? You there?

TQWhat's next?

Spencer:  If you like A Red Peace, there's some other great books in the lineup this year. I'm really excited to read JY Yang's Red Threads of Fortune and Margaret Killjoy's The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion. And once again, if you like A Red Peace, check out the sequels Shadow Sun Seven & Memory's Blade, out in November and February, respectively.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

A Red Peace
The Starfire Trilogy 1, August 22, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 208 pages

Interview with Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace
A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth's Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy.

Half-breed human star navigator Jaqi, working the edges of human-settled space on contract to whoever will hire her, stumbles into possession of an artifact that the leader of the Rebellion wants desperately enough to send his personal guard after. An interstellar empire and the fate of the remnant of humanity hang in the balance.

Spencer Ellsworth has written a classic space opera, with space battles between giant bugs, sun-sized spiders, planets of cyborgs and a heroine with enough grit to bring down the galaxy's newest warlord.


Shadow Sun Seven
The Starfire Trilogy 2, November 28, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace
Shadow Sun Seven continues Spencer Ellsworth's Starfire trilogy, an action-packed space opera in which the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity.

Jaqi, Araskar and Z are on the run from everyone - the Resistance, the remnants of the Empire, the cyborg Suits, and right now from the Matakas - and the Matakas are the most pressing concern because the insectoid aliens have the drop on them. The Resistance has a big reward out for Araskar and the human children he and Jaqi are protecting. But Araskar has something to offer the mercenary aliens. He knows how to get to a huge supply of pure oxygen cells, something in short supply in the formerly human Empire, and that might be enough to buy their freedom. Araskar knows where it is, and Jaqi can take them there. With the Matakas as troops, they break into Shadow Sun Seven, on the edge of the Dark Zone.

About Spencer

Interview with Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace
Photo by Chrissy Ellsworth
SPENCER ELLSWORTH's short fiction has previously appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and He is the author of the Starfire trilogy, which begins with Starfire: A Red Peace. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and three children, works as a teacher/administrator at a small tribal college on a Native American reservation.

Website  ~  Twitter @Spencimus

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August 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 August 31, 2017.

Vote for your favorite August 2017 Debut Cover! free polls

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover by Tom Sanderson

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover art by Thom Tenery

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover illustration by Gene Mollica and Shutterstock
Design by Lauren Panepinto

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover design by Olga Grlic
Cover photograph: plainpicture / alt6 / Roger Proulx

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover design by Sandra Chui
Cover photo of the boy by Sean Gladwell/ Getty Images
Photo of the dog by Maya Karkalicheva/Getty Images

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover art by Steven Messing
Overall design by Owen Corrigan

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover art by Sparth
Cover design by Christine Foltzer

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover art and design by Design by Committee

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of The Court of Broken Knives

Please welcome Anna Smith Spark to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Court of Broken Knives is published on August 15th by Orbit.

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

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of The Court of Broken Knives

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

Anna:  Hello, and thank you for inviting me here.

I’ve always written, I’ve got strange scribbled things from when I was a child, totally illegible. I used to play on my own as a child telling myself stories, creating whole worlds in my head. My father and many of his friends write, I grew up with poets, academics, novelists, playwrights. It just seemed entirely instinctive to write

I stopped writing for a long time as an adult for complex personal reasons (depression is a bad thing and blocks creativity. Medication is a good thing and helps creativity. The myth of the tormented artist is a myth. I’m just going to drop that in here because … ). I finally started writing properly again a few years ago. Broken Knives was the result.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Anna:  I’m something of a mix. I have a very clear idea of how the whole Empires of Dust trilogy will end, but unravelling how exactly I get there is something that slowly happens as the story progresses. Actually, it’s rather like writing history – I have a strong sense of the bones of the story arc, what has to happen, but the detail and the emphasis is evolving as I go along. Often it’s only when I written something that key themes emerge, and I have to go back and make changes as I understand what’s happening and why. Like the way you have to go back and reconsider things that happen in your own life. This sudden realisation: that’s what that means! That’s what that was about! That’s why it was! In some ways, I’m writing a very simple story, in the way myths and legends are often simple. I don’t write complex plots, I’m rather in awe of those writers who do, who can hold an intensely complex plot in their head. I’m trying to tell a simple story in a beautiful way.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Anna:  I get very up and down about my writing. I can write for days obsessively, pouring it out, so breathless with excitement. Then I despair and want to abandon everything as terrible and a waste of my life. Writing is a painful, emotional thing. Most writers probably shouldn’t be writers, if that makes any sense. One bad review and we’re emotionally broken.

And sometimes I want to scream at the computer, because the words are in there but I can’t get them out.

And I tend to snack while I write.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Anna:  Influences…. Where to start? The Court of Broken Knives is hugely influenced by Norse and Dark Age British mythology and folk lore, and by Classical Greek literature. I suppose in some ways it’s a mythical book as much as a fantasy novel. Or a historical novel in a world where the old gods are real, like Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy or Mary Renault’s Alexander trilogy. I love historical fiction and academic history books; I draw a lot from historical biography and social history. I don’t really see a difference between fantasy and historical literature – they’re both creating alien worlds, presenting characters so very like but also so utterly distanced from our own lives.

Also travel writing, the way travel writing builds a world for you in your mind through landscape, daily experience, the local history of a place. I grew up walking the British countryside listening to my father talking about folk lore, history, literature. Then I’d go home and read Tolkien, Norse mythology, the Mabinogion, see the stories set in the landscapes I’d been walking in. That sense of the world as numinous. That’s what I’m trying to evoke.

As a child, I remember telling myself stories based on the great myth cycles, the Eddas or the Tale of Troy – kind of like very pretentious fan fic, I suppose. And, lo, I’m still writing stories based on them. That’s what fantasy is, really, maybe. Illiad/Beowulf/Gilgamesh fan fic.

In terms of my literary style, the authors I’m probably most influenced by are Mary Renault, M. John Harrison and James Ellroy. Renault just gets absolutely inside these astonishing people, Alexander, Plato, Dionysus of Syracuse, and makes them both real people (they were real people, they were petty and weak and sometimes unlucky and did really nasty bowel movements, same as we all are) and astonishing, titanic figures of myth (which they also were, somehow. I mean, how could Alexander have been a real person? Really?). Harrison’s style is astonishing, his Viriconium is a sublimely beautiful book. The way Ellroy writes violence is astonishing. In White Jazz he’s writing beyond language, just words as pure utter physical experience of pain. I binge read his books in my teens and they had a vast influence on me and the way I write.

TQDescribe The Court of Broken Knives in 140 characters or less.

Anna:  I’m going to cheat and base this on a line in a review I got on goodreads, because I love that review:

Violent, grim but bright with glaring desert sun and wide clear northern skies. Bleak, cynical, filled with beauty and love. Contains poetry.

The joke description is: Joe Abercrombie meets Leonard Cohen in a particularly filthy public toilet.

TQTell us something about The Court of Broken Knives that is not found in the book description.

Anna:  Warning: contains poetry. And romance. And shopping. And there’s this 500 word description of some rain. Two 500 words descriptions of some rain. Repeated references to bird shit.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Court of Broken Knives? What appeals to you about writing Grimdark fantasy?

Anna:  I have no clear idea what inspired me to start writing again. I didn’t write for a long time, and then one day I just started writing. A scene of some men in the desert, soldiers, the sun reflecting on their swords. Then violence. That became the beginnings of the book. Tobias emerged very clearly, right back that first day, he was there with me completely real from the start. Orhan also. Marith and Thalia have been with me in one form or another my whole life, they’re essentially the heroes of the stories I used to tell myself as a child. So the characters were there, but it took a long time for me to really understand what I was writing about, what the key themes and ideas were.

Why grimdark fantasy? Because it’s the closest to myth, to the strange old tales of the Iliad, the Eddas, Anglo-Saxon poetry. Those stories are savage, bloody, very brutal, often immoral, ultimately tragic - but shot through with utter, astonishing beauty and joy in life.

TQIn your opinion, what are the essential ingredients for Grimdark?

Anna:  Cynicism. Not nihilism – indeed, I suspect many of us grimdark types are deeply romantic at heart. But an awareness that there’s no easy good or bad, just life in all its myriad forms. That’s not to say that there’s no evil in the world, because the more I see of life, especially now I have a child, the more terrible and cruel the world seems to be. But that cruelty and evil are not simple things. Some people think that grimdark is ‘goodies and baddies with hyped-up violence’. I don’t see it in those terms at all. That’s so pointless, just gore for the sake of it. Grimdark to me is the self-awareness that we all have the potential to be monsters. That our choices can destroy others’ lives. That we are not good people and the world is not a good place. Or that one can be a good person and still inflict great harm. And to go on living with that.

Grimdark does also need a huge dose of entirely gratuitous violence, though. I do like a spot of entirely gratuitous violence in my books.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Court of Broken Knives.

Anna:  The US cover shows the figure of a man, back to the viewer, looking off into the white distance, a sword in his hand. He looks somehow lonely. He is surrounded by clear white light, or white mist covering his vision to blind him, or snow, or smoke. His name is Marith. He’s the love of my life.

The tag line is ‘Blood never lies’. What this means I leave to the reader to find out.

TQIn The Court of Broken Knives who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Anna:  Weirdly, the easiest character to write is Tobias, who’s a grizzled, aging sellsword bloke (clichéd? Moi?). Beneath the ex-fetish model female exterior, I would seem to be a grizzled, aging sellsword bloke. His voice just pours out of me. A friend who was in the Special Forces says I capture that soldierly voice perfectly, which is kind of weird seeing as I’m a liberal arts graduate who worries about doing the washing up in case it chips her nails.

The hardest character to write is probably Thalia. She is me, essentially. She’s been with me my whole life in one form or another, she’s the heroine I told myself stories about as a child, the D&D character I played for years. So she gets emotionally complicated.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Court of Broken Knives?

Anna:  All books are profoundly political. All say things about society and human life. And fantasy is ultimately about structures of power. Thus fantasy is profoundly political. It cannot but be political.

Yes, I do have a Masters in Cultural Studies. How’d you possibly work that out?

Broken Knives is explicit in its social critique. I’m a cynic, and that cynicism does I think come across. That wonderful line from Leonard Cohen, ‘Everybody knows the war is over/Everybody knows the good guys lost’ but yet we go on as if it’s not lost, as if we can still win. I rather believe that and I’m certainly writing that. Fighting the good fight even though it’s hopeless. Showing how unjust the world is.

Ultimately, I’m exploring the nature of power and of violence. Why do we fight? Why do we kill? Why are we prepared to die for something?

TQWhich question about The Court of Broken Knives do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Question: Did you really mean to change tense three times in the same sentence?
Answer: Yes.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Court of Broken Knives.

  -   So much life. So much life in this dead place. The air smelt of life. The stream sang of life. The sky was luminous with life, colourless, liquid.

  -   Killing and killing and such perfect joy.

  -   Who can tell what it’s about, or when it was written? Just men who died.

TQWhat's next?

AnnaThe Tower of Living and Dying, book two of Empires of Dust, is currently with my editors. To blow my own trumpet very loudly, I’m extremely proud of it.

I’m writing book three at the moment. It’s a painful thing to write: it’s the end of a story I’ve invested so much of my life in. I’m really struggling with it, because when it’s done … it’s done.

I’m also involved in a very exciting new Kickstarter project, Landfall. It’s a fantasy serial, a series of written episodes that will work rather like a television show. It’s dark fantasy with a 16th/17th century New England flavour to it. An epic fantasy version of Jamestown, maybe??? I’m one of the writers, alongside Michael R. Fletcher and Jesse Bullington/Alex Marshall. It’s launching this summer, I’m very excited about it. Mike and I are good friends, I love his books; I’m a big fan of Jesse’s/Alex’s writing as well. I think our writing styles will work beautifully together. BUT IT’S A KICKSTARTER, GUYS. YOU WANT ME TO EAT NEXT YEAR, YOU NEED TO FUND IT. Ahem, I mean: if anyone’s interested, the kickstarter info will be going out soon.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Anna:  Thank you for having me.

The Court of Broken Knives
Empires of Dust 1
Orbit, August 15, 2017
Trade Paperback, 512 pages
     eBook, June 27, 2017

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of The Court of Broken Knives
In this dark and gripping debut fantasy that Miles Cameron called "gritty and glorious!" the exiled son of the king must fight to reclaim his throne no matter the cost.

It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed. Governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The Yellow Empire is on the verge of invasion--and only one man can see it.

Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross the desert to reach the capital city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from the ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Young, ambitious, and impossibly charming, something dark hides in Marith's past--and in his blood.

Dark and brilliant, dive into this new fantasy series for readers looking for epic battle scenes, gritty heroes, and blood-soaked revenge.

About Anna

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of The Court of Broken Knives
Anna Smith Spark lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @queenofgrimdark

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner

The winner of the July 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Godblind by Anna Stephens from Talos with 33% of the votes. The cover design and title lettering is by Dominic Forbes.

Godblind Trilogy 1
Talos, July 11, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner
For fans of Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and Mark Lawrence comes a brutal grimdark fantasy debut of dark gods and violent warriors.

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

The Results

 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner

The July 2017 Debuts

 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner

Interview with Sophie Chen Keller, author of The Luster of Lost Things

Please welcome Sophie Chen Keller to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Luster of Lost Things is published on August 8th by G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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

Interview with Sophie Chen Keller, author of The Luster of Lost Things

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

Sophie:  Thanks for having me! I’ve always loved books and reading. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading out loud to me before bed, from books by EB White and Roald Dahl, to help me learn English after we moved to the US from China. Pretty soon I started writing stories of my own—one of them was about talking animals who lived under the sea, after I became obsessed with the Redwall series. Back then, in elementary school, whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “A writer,” and when I was 15, my first short story was published in a literary magazine, Glimmer Train.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sophie:  A pantser, which makes me feel like a mischievous kid who’s about to get in big trouble. My writing usually starts with some kernel of an idea—a person, an image—that just gets stuck in my heart, and when it bothers me enough, I start writing about it, trying to better understand it and figuring out the rest as I go along.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sophie:  I lean a lot on instinct when I write. I love the sound and rhythm and sensation of words, and the creation of a fictional world out of nothing as I try to make sense of this real world and the people in it. Revising is more deliberate and critical. It can give me a headache, but it’s necessary in order to tell a satisfying story.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sophie:  In middle school and high school, I spent much of my time reading about writing and reading good writing. I loved Stephen King’s On Writing and short stories by writers like Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates and Jhumpa Lahiri.

I find inspiration anywhere there are people living their life, doing their thing, telling their stories. I’ll have a brief exchange with a stranger, I’ll overhear an offhand comment, I’ll notice some detail or situation, I’ll be struck by a strange and random thought—I never know when something will flip a switch and send me scrambling for my notes.

TQDescribe The Luster of Lost Things in 140 characters or less.

Sophie:  When all seems lost, 12-year-old Walter Lavender Jr.—who has an uncanny ability to find missing objects—searches for what matters most.

TQTell us something about The Luster of Lost Things that is not found in the book description.

Sophie:  Writing the book, I thought of it as a grown-up version of those childhood classics my mom would read to me before bedtime. I wanted it to be warm and wondrous and pure, yet layered with meaning to dig into and questions to ponder around what it means to live and be human. I wanted The Luster of Lost Things to take us back to that time when the world was bright and brimming with possibility, so that when we are feeling suffocated by darkness, we might remember that there is goodness that lives in us and around us. It’s a breath of fresh air that I feel so many, including myself, need.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Luster of Lost Things?

Sophie:  In the summer of 2014, my husband and I spent a night camping on a volcano in Maui as part of our honeymoon. At the campsite, I stumbled across a “Lost” flyer that someone had posted, for a missing camera that held sentimental family photos. That detail captured me, and I wondered about the things people lost, and what they were really looking for when they looked for something like a missing camera. I wondered if the camera had been found, if anyone had seen this flyer and returned the lost item. That’s when I had my first idea of who Walter would be—a boy who answered “Lost” flyers, bringing home the things that people had lost and were so desperately looking for.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Luster of Lost Things?

Sophie:  The book’s main character, Walter Lavender Jr., is 12 years old, but virtually never speaks. Because of his silence, he’s often written off as a “slow amiable boy,” but we can tell from the beginning that he clearly is not. He has a motor speech disorder called childhood apraxia of speech, a neurological disorder where the brain knows what it wants to say but has trouble coordinating the muscle movements necessary to produce the intended speech. To better understand his condition, I read books like The Late Talker (by Lisa F. Geng, Malcolm J. Nicholl, and Marilyn C. Agin), and spoke with parents, speech pathologists, doctors, professors and researchers. I was surprised to learn how often childhood apraxia of speech is misdiagnosed as autism or ADD, among others, which results in frustration for the child, who isn’t getting effective treatment, and for the parents, who can’t figure out what’s going on.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Luster of Lost Things.

Sophie:  I love how the cover evokes a sense of magic and awe, and at the same time is tinged with something melancholic, a feeling of longing. It captures the tone of the book, and it gives us our first introduction to Walter and his overweight golden retriever, Milton. They’re searching for something, although they’re not sure what they’ll find…

The cover design is by Sandra Chui. The cover photo of the boy is by Sean Gladwell/ Getty Images and the dog is by Maya Karkalicheva/Getty Images.

TQIn The Luster of Lost Things who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sophie:  I’m not sure if any of them were easier or harder to write. The characters are the beating heart of the book, and their faces, their stories, were so vivid to me. I wrote them because they had to be seen and heard. Milton was especially vivid. He was inspired by Thor, my dog from when I was growing up. Thor was always getting in the way (tripping you when you were carrying precarious stacks of breakable things, for one), and doing what he wasn’t supposed to (eating toilet paper and chewing up the carpet, for another), but boy, did he have soul. When I played the piano, he would half-sing, half-howl along to the passionate parts, a most beautiful and sorrowful wail.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Luster of Lost Things?

Sophie:  The book touches on gentrification, immigration, homelessness, and alternative family structures. Walter’s journey takes him through many of New York City’s characterful neighborhoods, and to the diverse people who live in them; I encountered all those issues when I lived in Manhattan, and a true characterization of this great city must articulate them. The people he meets are different from each other in many ways, and yet they are united in their humanity. They have aspirations and disappointments and joys. They know the pain of losing something; they know the ache of searching for what’s missing.

TQWhich question about The Luster of Lost Things do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sophie:  In The Luster of Lost Things, the main character, Walter Lavender Jr., has a knack for finding the things that people lose, thanks to his extraordinary abilities of perception. Can you explore that idea?

Because he has spent his entire life in silence, simply listening and observing, Walter has developed an ability to perceive “traces of light, shifts in matter, changing undercurrents”—subtle details that are all-too-easy to overlook. He’s literally able to see beyond the surface—and not just when it comes to lost objects. In his search for the one lost object that will save his mother’s magical bakery, Walter encounters some of the lost and forgotten people of the city, from an aging immigrant who forges ahead on a crippled leg, to an Upper East Side girl with a tragic past and a defiant streak, to a grieving Columbia physics professor with haunted dreams of flying. As Walter hears their stories—unexpected and poignant tales of heartbreaks and losses and yearnings—he learns that there is more to them than meets the eye. And as he narrates his own story to us, his voice—fluid and rich with insight and compassion—stands in sharp contrast to the verbal speech patterns of the “slow amiable boy” he is often dismissed as, the clearest reminder of all that when we see beyond the surface, what we find can be luminous.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Luster of Lost Things.


On the significance of the things we lose, and the appeal they hold for Walter Lavender Jr.:

“In the things they look for, parts of people turn clear as glass and you can see into them and what they are made of and how they live…There was the long-ago transplant who lost a piece of Maine driftwood, and there was also the man with lupus who lost an unused barber kit and the tattooed biker who lost a picture of his grandmother and the teenager with scarred wrists who lost George and Martha.”

“Lost things are bridges. They are connections to some other time or place or person or feeling.”

On the power of kindness:

“Walter Lavender Sr. never taught me to play catch or ride a bike or fix a blown fuse or grow to be a man. He left only one lesson for me and the Book is the embodiment of it: physical proof of how much a gesture can matter and how it can even expand across time and place.

An introduction to The Lavenders, the magical bakery portrayed in The Luster of Lost Things:

“The shopfront was small and plain, a solid gray-blue that your eyes wanted to skip past. But on the right day, when you finally saw it, you’d step through the door and take in the brass trimmings and the saucer chandeliers, the black-and-white checkered tiles and the gleaming glass cases, and you would be transported. Inside the shop, it smelled like whipped butter and light and sugar, and a happy breeze seemed always to be dancing through. Dazzling mirrored displays encased little desserts like gems, and dark polished surfaces were offset by battered accents collected by Lucy on her early travels with Walter Lavender, Sr., here a dappled giraffe carved from a jacaranda tree in South Africa, there an embroidered scroll arrayed with the colors of Tibetan folklore.

But the most extraordinary thing was that something happened in the slice of time when the vols-au-vent baked in the oven or waited to be dressed, because when they appeared finally in the displays, stuffed with fig mascarpone cheese and outfitted with chocolate whiskers and ears and tails—before they were chosen and eaten, the undersized treats sniffed endearingly at each other and squeaked and sometimes stood on their hind legs and bounced.”

TQWhat's next?

Sophie:  I’m working on a second novel, and am already very excited about it! Keep in touch—subscribe to my newsletter at

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Luster of Lost Things
G.P. Putnam's Sons, August 8, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Sophie Chen Keller, author of The Luster of Lost Things
In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.

But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders—his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing—except for his lost father.

So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it—along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.

Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.

About Sophie

Interview with Sophie Chen Keller, author of The Luster of Lost Things
Photo © Kai Keller
Sophie Chen Keller was born in Beijing, China, and was raised in Ohio and California. Her fiction has won several awards and has appeared in publications such as Glimmer Train and Pedestal. After graduating from Harvard, she moved to New York City, where she currently resides with her husband and a not-so-secret cabinet of sweets.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @ImSophieCKeller

Interview with RJ Barker, author of Age of Assassins

Please welcome RJ Barker to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Age of Assassins was published on August 1st by Orbit.

Interview with RJ Barker, author of Age of Assassins

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

RJ:  Hello Qwillery! Lovely to meet you. I don't think I can answer that very well, it feels like I've always been writing. My earliest definite writing memory is from primary school when I was about ten and I wrote a poem that my teacher sent off to a book. No idea if it got in or not but I do remember the title of the poem and the first line. It was called 'The House' and the first line was 'Within these dark forsaken walls.' That makes me sound like I should have been an Adam's family child, considering how I ended up maybe it was foreshadowing.[1]

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

RJ:  I make everything up on the spot, almost completely. I usually know the end and a couple of things I'd quite like to happen but outside of that I'm as surprised by half the stuff that happens as someone reading it for the first time will be[2]. It's a tremendously fun way of doing it, for me, anyway.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

RJ:  This is a really hard question for me to answer because I simply really enjoy writing[3]. Sometimes I struggle to just sit down and do it because I am distracted by other things, or I am being plan lazy, but the actual doing it is never what I would describe as hard because it's fun. Copy editing is less creative though, that's maybe more challenging, but it's still, overall, something I like doing. It's a process that makes me think about all the decisions I've made and, hopefully, makes what I'm doing into a better book. Which is good for everyone.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

RJ:  Everything. The temptation is to reel off books and authors but I think I'm influenced by far more than that (we all are, I imagine) so I shall steer clear of it. Where I am from, northern England, definitely comes through in the landscapes and some of the voices. And I played in bands[4] for a long time so music is huge influence, it definitely informs the mood of the book and everything I write. And the world around me, it seeps in and makes its way out in words.

TQDescribe Age of Assassins in 140 characters or less.

RJ:  A fantasy murder mystery with magic, swordfights and intrigue. And antlers. The antlers are the most important bit.

TQTell us something about Age of Assassins that is not found in the book description.

RJ:  Oh, Mounts! I have a thing about antlers (dunno if you noticed) and in the book they ride about on huge antlered fighting creatures called mounts. Girton and Merela's (his master) mount is called Xus and although he's not in it a huge amount and he can't speak he's absolutely one of my favourite characters.

TQWhat inspired you to write Age of Assassins? What appeals to you about writing fantasy?

RJ:  The answer to both of these is the same, sort of. I'm not really the sort of person who has an allegiance to any one genre I'm just not very good at doing one thing. There are so many different things out there and I am endlessly curious. I want to try and sample as much as possible so I wouldn't ever describe myself as an “X” reader or writer, I just like books. But when the idea for Age of Assassins came to me it had to be fantasy because, in the great tradition of such things[5], a fantasy element was central to the plot. So it wasn't really a decision, it was a necessity of the story I wanted to tell. I very rarely make decisions if I'm honest, I just do what seems like a good idea at the time.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Age of Assassins.

RJ:  I really like the cover, now. It's by Tom Sanderson, at and he's done a good job of catching the air of mystery and melancholy that pervades the book. It was quite difficult for me to separate out my taste in art, which is very left of field, from the cover of a book which is an illustration with a job to do – to sell the book. But Orbit know their stuff and have nailed it as far as the reception of readers goes[6]. Though you won't learn anything about the book from the cover, apart from a kind of feeling of mystery. And that there is a castle in the book.

TQIn Age of Assassins who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

RJ:  This is really quite boring but it was all really easy. I wrote it in six weeks, it was literally like being hit by a bolt. I had an idea, dropped everything else I was thinking about to do it and wrote it. It's not changed a huge amount from the first version. It was a bit like being possessed, I just knew what I had to do and it all fitted together. In a way it felt like cheating. It's all seen from Girton's point of view and because that felt so clear to me I didn't really have any problems, I'm trying to think of something to talk about that was difficult so I seem a bit more interesting but I'm not getting anywhere.


Something that was hard was that there are no horses in this world, they use the aforementioned mounts but 'horse' is so ingrained into me that I kept writing it, again and again and again. And the same in book two, Blood of Assassins. I wouldn't be surprised if some horses had crept through and made it into the book y'know. Horses, they're sneaky like that. Tiptoeing past the editing process on their hooves. Bloody horses, sticking their velvety noses in where they're not wanted. *shakes fist*.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Age of Assassins?

RJ:  The act of making the lead character disabled makes it hard to avoid social issues, and you could read the use of magic in the book as an environmental allegory – if that's what you want to do. I think some reflection of our world makes a book more interesting as well, as long as it doesn't interrupt the flow of the book and become preaching. Social issues that are allegorical to our world exist in Age of Assassins but you could easily read the book without noticing – if that's your thing. Books are like onions, layer upon layer and what a reader gets out of it depends on how deeply they want to read. It's an exciting adventure, but there's more there if you want it.

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

RJ:  What was the first idea you had for Age of Assassins?

RJ: Thanks, RJ, I've always wanted someone to ask me that. It was the name of the world it takes place in: The Tired Lands. There was something so very evocative about those three words. They popped into my head and it was as if I could see the landscape lain out before me. I was amazed it didn't already exist if I'm honest, it felt like somewhere that already existed and it was a really loaded name, it brings a lot with it. And after The Tired Lands the rest followed, the allegory of the disabled hero (echoes of the Fisher King there), this gradually decaying land and his story within it.

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

RJ:  I am going to neatly sidestep this question. There are genuinely funny moments in AoA and thrilling actiony moments too but it's all dependant on you knowing Girton and the characters around him. I always feel that nipping a short quote out of a book is a bit like saying you have a beautiful coat and when someone asks to see it showing them two small bits of the yarn it's made from. It might be very nice string and everything, but it won't help you see the jacket. Gosh, that makes me sound incredibly po-faced and serious doesn't it?[7] Read the book, it's best for everyone, then you can choose your own quotes and I won't feel like I'm crowing.

TQWhat's next?

RJ:  Well, book two is edited and book three is written, so next up I have copy edits for book 2 and making book 3 good. Then something new, hopefully. I'd quite like to do something involving sailing ships and big cannons but I really am quite fickle so this may change.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

RJ:  Thank you for having me, Qwillery.

1 - There are a lot of black clothes in our house. A lot.
2 - Hopefully.
3 - What is that noise? It's the hubris alarms, Sir.
4 - Badly.
5 - How do you know something is a fantasy book? If you take out the fantasy element it falls apart. I can't remember whose rule this is and it was originally for SF but it is a good one that works most of the time.
6 - Also, a mystery, for who is that hooded figure on the cover?
7 - I am making a serious face.

Age of Assassins
The Wounded Kingdom 1
Orbit, August 1, 2017
Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with RJ Barker, author of Age of Assassins

Girton Club-foot has no family, a crippled leg, and is apprenticed to the best assassin in the land.

He's learning the art of taking lives, but his latest mission tasks him with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince's murder.

Age of Assassins is the first in an epic new trilogy set in a world ravaged by magic, featuring a cast of assassins, knights, ambitious noblemen, and fools.

About RJ Barker

RJ Barker is a softly-spoken Yorkshireman with flowing locks. He lives in the frozen north with his wife and son, and divides his time between writing and looking after his son.

Website  ~  Twitter @dedbutdrmng  ~  Facebook

Interview with Marina J. Lostetter, author of Noumenon

Please welcome Marina J. Lostetter to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Noumenon was published on August 1st by Harper Voyager.

Interview with Marina J. Lostetter, author of Noumenon

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

Marina:  Thank you for having me! My love for writing started in the fourth grade. I even remember the first short story I wrote, about my friends and I getting lost in the woods (truth be told, it was more or less a long list of the ways that I was prepared for the situation).

I began to pursue writing professionally around 2010, after graduating from college.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Marina:  Plotter, all the way, though my outlines are largely train-of-thought block paragraphs that contradict each other. Outlining is where I get to tell myself the story and not worry if it sounds pretty or makes sense, which means it's the part I enjoy the most.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Marina:  The upside to plotting for me is the focus it brings to drafting a story--the words flow well once I know where I'm going and what I'm trying to say. The downside is my tendency to try to bend the characters to fit the plot. I often write myself into corners because I want events to happen a certain way, but it doesn’t make sense for the characters to make the choices I want them to.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Marina:  Books I read early that still resonate with me include A Wrinkle in Time, Holes, Wolf Tower, and The Giver. As I grew, sci-fi like Hyperion, Vellum, and Calculating God hit themes that I explore in my own work. Video games have also influenced me greatly--the Final Fantasy series from Square Enix especially. I also really love history and science, and non-fiction in both subjects have been a boon for me.

TQDescribe Noumenon in 140 characters or less.

Marina:  It's an epic interstellar adventure featuring clones, rogue AIs, alien artifacts, and dubious signals from a far-off star.

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

Marina:  The ship's Inter Convoy Computer--I.C.C. for short--is a central character, and an anti-HAL 9000.

TQPlease tell us about the title of the novel.

Marina:  A Noumenon is the flip side of a phenomenon. It is a thing in and of itself, the unmeasurable reality. While technically everything has a noumenal quality (philosophically speaking), the example I like to give is thought: we know thoughts and ideas exist, they are realities, we can measure their effects and some of their causes, but we cannot detect or measure ideas themselves as individual things.

In the book, the convoy's mission is designated Noumenon because its end is an untouchable reality for its founder. Noumenon as a theme extends well into book two.

TQWhat inspired you to write Noumenon? What appeals to you about writing Space Opera?

Marina:  I love alien artifact stories. And big dumb objects. I love looking at a strange, far off phenomena and coming up with answers to, what the hell is that? I also love solving mysteries, especially those where you realize the fictional universe, or parts of it, function completely differently than you first thought. All of those loves play into the beginning seeds of what became Noumenon (it was a short story long before it was a novel), and my affinity for Space Opera in general.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Noumenon?

Marina:  Most of my research centered around variable stars, genetics (histones especially), and electrical engineering.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Noumenon.

Marina:  The artwork was done by Steven Messing, the overall design is by Owen Corrigan, and it is absolutely beautiful! It doesn't depict a specific scene so much as important elements of the story. I won't give away too many details, but the large object you see in the center is called The Seed.

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

Marina:  I.C.C. was the easiest to write personality-wise, but a tad difficult voice-wise. Empathy is its greatest virtue, and I let that be my guide. The most difficult overall to write was probably the various clones of Jamal Kaeden, largely because each of them goes through dramatically different circumstances. Staying true to who he is on a base level, while also taking into account how these vastly different experiences would change his decision making, was a challenge.

Truth be told, these are my two favorite characters, in no small part because I feel like I've spent the most time with them.

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

Marina:  I come from the school of thought that believes the majority of storytelling is partisan in some way. Either it holds up the status quo, or it doesn't, and so fundamentally if you're writing a novel with any kind of depth, it's going to include social issues (either by pointing them out or blatantly glossing over them).

Noumenon outright touches on themes of prejudice, social stratification, and genetic predestination. Also, in an effort to realistically reflect the kind of world that could come together to create the convoys and their missions, I have a vast and international cast of people from different backgrounds, which some people might take as a statement on social issues in and of itself.

It's important to me to try and tell stories that are both fun and thoughtful, and I hope I've been able to do that with Noumenon.

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

Marina:  Ooh, this one is hard! Um, probably: Do you think you've written a dystopic novel?

I ask myself this, because I've seen people categorize Noumenon as a dystopia. But that's not what I set out to write. The book has an overall hopeful and positive outlook. And while there are definitely moments of dystopia, the novel spans two thousand years, and like any other society, the convoy has its ups and downs. There are wondrous highs and terrifying lows, and nothing is set in stone. Their civilization evolves. Sometimes it's ideal, sometimes it encapsulates everything that can go wrong with social constructs. I really set out to write a continuum, to explore humanity at its best and worst.

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


"Earth wants to be comfortable. The more comfortable someone is, a society is, the less likely they are to seek change, even positive change."

"They may not appreciate our point of view. We might frighten them, or bore them, or make them uncomfortable. This does not mean we should go away."

TQWhat's next?

MarinaNoumenon Infinitum, Noumenon's sequel!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Marina:  Thanks again for having me!

Harper Voyager, August 1, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Marina J. Lostetter, author of Noumenon
With nods to Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series and the real science of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, a touch of Hugh Howey’s Wool, and echoes of Octavia Butler’s voice, a powerful tale of space travel, adventure, discovery, and humanity that unfolds through a series of generational vignettes.

In 2088, humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth’s solar system. But one uncertainty remains: Where do we go?

Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has an idea. He’s discovered an anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics, and proposes the creation of a deep-space mission to find out whether the star is a weird natural phenomenon, or something manufactured.

The journey will take eons. In order to maintain the genetic talent of the original crew, humankind’s greatest ambition—to explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy— is undertaken by clones. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each new generation has its own quirks, desires, and neuroses. As the centuries fly by, the society living aboard the nine ships (designated Convoy Seven) changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie’s mysterious star and explore its origins—and implications.

A mosaic novel of discovery, Noumenon—in a series of vignettes—examines the dedication, adventure, growth, and fear of having your entire world consist of nine ships in the vacuum of space. The men and women, and even the AI, must learn to work and live together in harmony, as their original DNA is continuously replicated and they are born again and again into a thousand new lives. With the stars their home and the unknown their destination, they are on a voyage of many lifetimes—an odyssey to understand what lies beyond the limits of human knowledge and imagination.

About Marina

Interview with Marina J. Lostetter, author of Noumenon
Photo © Author Services, Inc. 2013
Marina J. Lostetter’s original short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! and InterGalactic Medicine Show, among other publications. Originally from Oregon, the former winner of the Writers of the Future Award now lives in Arkansas with her husband, Alex, and enjoys globe-trotting, board games, and all things art-related.

Website  ~  Twitter @MarinaLostetter


Interview with Curtis Craddock, author of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors2017 Debut Author Challenge - September DebutsInterview with Lise Breakey, author of Unraveling TimelinesInterview with Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August DebutsInterview with Anna Smith Spark, author of The Court of Broken Knives 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July WinnerInterview with Sophie Chen Keller, author of The Luster of Lost ThingsInterview with RJ Barker, author of Age of AssassinsInterview with Marina J. Lostetter, author of Noumenon

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