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Interview with Hester Fox, author of The Witch of Willow Hall


Please welcome Hester Fox to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Witch of Willow Hall was published on October 2, 2018 by Graydon House.



Interview with Hester Fox, author of The Witch of Willow Hall




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Hester:  I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to write little magazines for my pets when I was 5 or 6, but the first piece of fiction I think was a story about a mouse named Squeaky and his adventures.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Hester:  I started out as a pantser, but now that I have deadlines to meet I’ve become a plotter. I never thought that I would be able to write with an outline, but I’m finding that it gives me more freedom than I anticipated. Having a roadmap allows me to be much more creative because I don’t have to worry about what comes next or dead-ends; I can focus on the characters, the setting, and layering on historic details.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Hester:  Letting go of perfectionism and just getting the story out.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Hester:  The history and natural beauty of New England. It’s a place that lends itself to stories, and I want to tell them all.



TQDescribe The Witch of Willow Hall using only 5 words.

Hester:  Sisters, secrets, spirits, and romance.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Witch of Willow Hall?

Hester:  I was doing a museum collections internship that took me to different historic houses around New England and there was one house in particular that captured my imagination. There was something melancholy but beautiful about the old house, and the rural setting was exquisite. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to set a book there.



TQIs The Witch of Willow Hall in the tradition of the Gothic novel? Do you have any favorite Gothic novels?

Hester:  Oh yes. I grew up on books like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and works by Austen, Dickens, Poe, and Hardy. Some of my favorite recent books are Gothic in tone and tradition, such as The Dress Lodger by Sherri Holman, The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Witch of Willow Hall?

Hester:  A lot of my research was by osmosis from my education in historical archaeology, as well as from working in the museum field. Handling and studying historic objects really helped me see the world through the eyes of someone living in the 19th century.

I also started an herb garden in my yard and learned a lot about herb magic and lore. Being able to smell, feel, and in some cases even taste the herbs was a great experience; not only did it help me write about witchcraft, now I have a lovely herb garden of my own!



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Witch of Willow Hall.

Hester:  The team at Harlequin did a beautiful job with the cover. It has a wonderful sense of movement and really captures the quiet magic of the main character, Lydia.



TQIn The Witch of Willow Hall who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Hester:  Since the story is told from Lydia’s point of view, she was probably the easiest to write as I was completely in her head. It was harder to write John because he keeps so much close to his chest.



TQDoes The Witch of Willow Hall touch on any social issues?

Hester:  The magic that Lydia employs is a direct reaction against the patriarchal society in which she lives. A lot has changed since 1821, but some of the situations in which she finds herself are all too familiar to women today.



TQWhich question about The Witch of Willow Hall do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Hester

-Where did the last name Montrose come from?

-My office window overlooks a street named Montrose and I thought it would be fitting for a Gothic family name. Later, when I was researching old Gothic novels, I learned that Sir Walter Scott wrote a book called A Legend of Montrose!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Witch of Willow Hall.

Hester

    When he speaks again it’s low and even. Determined. “It does matter. I’ll be back for you, Lydia. I swear it.”

    And with that, he touches his heels to his horse, taking off at a canter down the road. I hardly dare to breathe as I stand there, watching his straight back and broad shoulders grow smaller and smaller until the trees swallow him up.

---

It’s peaceful, but in an awful, greedy sort of way. The night, the water, they want to take me. They want to swallow me up until I’m nothing more than a sigh, a forgotten secret. And I want to let them.



TQWhat's next?

Hester:  My second book is another Gothic novel and is slated for release in 2019. It’s a gender-flipped Beauty and the Beast retelling set in the 1840s in coastal Maine, and features an agoraphobic widow and a reluctant minister.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





The Witch of Willow Hall
Graydon House, October 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Hester Fox, author of The Witch of Willow Hall
Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…





About Hester

Interview with Hester Fox, author of The Witch of Willow Hall
Photograph © Stephanie Patalano Photography
​When not writing and painting, Hester works in the museum field as a collections maintenance technician. This job has taken her from historic houses to fine art museums, where she has the privilege of cleaning and caring for collections that range from paintings by old masters, to ancient artifacts, to early American furniture. She has a master’s degree in historical archaeology, as well as a background in Medieval studies and art history. Hester lives outside of Boston with her husband.





Website    ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @hesterbfox

2018 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts


There are 5 debut novels for November.

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

The November debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite November cover for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on November 15, 2018.

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 2018 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for November 2018. The list is correct as of the day posted. (Updated on 11/1/2018 to add The First Protectors by Victor Godinez.)



Mirah Bolender

City of Broken Magic
Chronicles of Amicae 1
Tor Book, November 20, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
Mirah Bolender's fast-paced, adventure fantasy debut, City of Broken Magic, features a bomb squad that defuses magic weapons.

io9—New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books You Need to Put on Your Radar for Fall

Five hundred years ago, magi created a weapon they couldn’t control. An infestation that ate magic—and anything else it came into contact with. Enemies and allies were equally filling.

Only an elite team of non-magical humans, known as sweepers, can defuse and dispose of infestations before they spread. Most die before they finish training.

Laura, a new team member, has stayed alive longer than most. Now, she’s the last—and only—sweeper standing between the city and a massive infestation.





Victor Godinez

The First Protectors
Talos Press, November 13, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
The last thing Ben Shepherd wanted was another war. But sometimes the universe won’t take no for an answer.

His body and spirit mangled by a lifetime of combat, Shepherd, a retired Navy SEAL, has retreated to the desolate desert of New Mexico to heal his wounds and dodge his demons. All he wants now is peace and quiet.

Both are shattered one starry night, when an alien ship crashes nearby. Out of the ship crawls the last, dying member of a conquered civilization. It’s been shot down by an extraterrestrial enemy, the vanguard of a ravenous force hunting for a new homeland. With its last gasp, the wounded alien injects Shepherd with a high-tech serum that gives him near superhuman powers.

Now, with a new body but a soul as fractured as ever, Shepherd becomes the reluctant leader of the human resistance against the coming invasion. With enemies on all sides, the man who couldn’t bear the guilt of seeing one more friend die in battle now finds himself charged with protecting the entire planet.





W. L. Goodwater

Breach
A Cold War Magic Novel 1
Ace, November 6, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
The first novel in a new Cold War fantasy series, where the Berlin Wall is made entirely of magic. When a breach unexpectedly appears in the wall, spies from both sides swarm to the city as World War III threatens to spark.

AFTER THE WAR, THE WALL BROUGHT AN UNEASY PEACE.

When Soviet magicians conjured an arcane wall to blockade occupied Berlin, the world was outraged but let it stand for the sake of peace. Now, after ten years of fighting with spies instead of spells, the CIA has discovered the unthinkable…

THE WALL IS FAILING.

While refugees and soldiers mass along the border, operatives from East and West converge on the most dangerous city in the world to either stop the crisis, or take advantage of it.

Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach in the Wall and determine if it can be fixed. Instead, she discovers that the truth is elusive in this divided city–and that even magic itself has its own agenda.

THE TRUTH OF THE WALL IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.





Adam Nemett

We Can Save Us All
The Unnamed Press, November 13, 2018
Trade Paperback

2018 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
"Nemett's wondrously fresh novel positively bursts with charm, heart, and invention." ―Booklist, Starred Review

Welcome to The Egg, an off-campus geodesic dome where David Fuffman and his crew of alienated Princeton students train for what might be the end of days: America is in a perpetual state of war, climate disasters create a global state of emergency, and scientists believe time itself may be collapsing.

Funded by the charismatic Mathias Blue and fueled by performance enhancers and psychedelic drugs, a student revolution incubates at The Egg, inspired by the superheroes that dominate American culture. The arrival of Haley Roth―an impassioned heroine with a dark secret―propels David and Mathias to expand their movement across college campuses nationwide, inspiring a cult-like following. As the final superstorm arrives, they toe the line between good and evil, deliverance and demagogues, the damned and the saved.

In this sprawling, ambitious debut, Adam Nemett delves into contemporary life in all of its chaos and unknowing. We Can Save Us All is a brave, ribald, and multi-layered examination of what may be the fundamental question of our time: just who is responsible for fixing all of this?





Tasha Suri

Empire of Sand
The Books of Ambha 1
Orbit, November 13, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts


A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Empire of Sand is a lush, dazzling fantasy novel perfect for readers of City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn.

Interview with Sonia Faruqi, author of The Oyster Thief


Please welcome Sonia Faruqi to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Oyster Thief will be published on October 16th by Pegasus.



Interview with Sonia Faruqi, author of The Oyster Thief




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

Sonia:  When I was nine, I wrote a story about a little girl my own age taking care of pigeons.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sonia:  Definitely a plotter! I spent three months plotting The Oyster Thief scene by scene.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sonia:  The solitary aspect of it.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sonia:  Coming across good writing that inspires me to do better.



TQDescribe The Oyster Thief using only 5 words.

Sonia:  Mermaid novel of a lifetime.



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

Sonia:  As far as I know, it is the world's first fantasy featuring a detailed, real-feeling underwater culture of merpeople.



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

Sonia:  The idea of an underwater world fell into my mind on January 1st, 2015. It was a freezing-cold morning in Canada, and I wished I could escape into tropical waters. But it was too expensive to book a last-minute flight, so I decided to escape in my mind. With a cup of tea in hand, I started inventing an underwater world. I like that fantasy allows us to escape without escaping. And science fantasy allows us to enter a world that exists (the ocean, for instance) but to which we may have more access through the imagination than real life. Parts of the ocean are less known than the moon!



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Oyster Thief?

Sonia:  I snorkeled, scuba-dived, swam with sharks, and pored over books and countless articles about the ocean.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Oyster Thief.

Sonia:  The cover shows an artistic underwater scene, with a mermaid tail in the foreground.



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

Sonia:  Coralline, the protagonist, was easy to write in some ways because I could relate to her. Izar, the other protagonist, was a little harder to write because he is an engineer and inventor whose strong suit is physics - not my strong suit.



TQDoes The Oyster Thief touch on any social issues?

Sonia:  Absolutely! I find that literature can be an important tool for education and social change. The Oyster Thief touches on themes of ocean conservation.



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

Sonia:  Hmm.... Why a mermaid novel? Because it would be amazing if mermaids existed!



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

Sonia:  “In order to heal others, you have to first heal yourself. . . . Success is an outcome not of imitation but of authenticity—of not abiding by the rules but changing them. The questions are more important than the answers.”


“Infidelity is not an act but a feeling.”



TQWhat's next?

Sonia:  I am considering a sequel to The Oyster Thief.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sonia:  Thank you!





The Oyster Thief
Pegasus Books, October 16, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Sonia Faruqi, author of The Oyster Thief
Two worlds collide when a mermaid and human man meet, plunging readers into a vast underwater realm brimming with adventure and intrigue.

"The mermaid’s scales were bronze, and they shimmered like hundreds of pennies arranged close together. Her immense blue-green eyes gave a look of fragility to her face, yet he found her eyes unsettling. She was leaning against a thirty-foot-long shark, which emerged from behind her and opened its mouth to reveal a great big cavern lined with hundreds of teeth—a black tunnel ready to swallow him."

Coralline is a mermaid who is engaged to the merman of her dreams. But when an oil spill wreaks havoc on her idyllic village life, her little brother falls gravely ill. Desperate to save him, she embarks on aquest to find a legendary elixir made of starlight.

Izar, a human man, is on the cusp of an invention that will enable him to mine the depths of the ocean. His discovery will soon make him the richest man on earth—while threatening merpeople with extinction. But then, suddenly, Izar finds himself transformed into a merman and caught in a web of betrayal and intrigue. Meeting Coralline in the ocean, he decides to join her on her quest for the elixir, hoping it will turn him human again.

The quest pushes Coralline and Izar together, even though their worlds are at odds. Their pasts threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline leave her fiancé for a man who might betray her? And Izar has a dark secret of his own—one that could cause him to lose Coralline forever.

Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is a richly imagined odyssey destined to become a classic.





About Sonia

Interview with Sonia Faruqi, author of The Oyster Thief
Sonia pushes the boundaries of imagination in her debut novel The Oyster Thief, an underwater odyssey. She is also the author of critically acclaimed Project Animal Farm, about the world’s food system. A skilled storyteller and speaker, she lives in Toronto, Canada.











Website  ~ Twitter @Sonia_Faruqi  ~  Facebook

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts


There are 9 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 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on October 15, 2018.

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 2018 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for October 2018. The list is correct as of the day posted.



Shaun Barger

Mage Against the Machine
Saga Press, October 30, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Harry Potter meets The Terminator in this action-packed adventure about a young man who discovers that everything he believed about his world is a lie.

The year is 2120. The humans are dead. The mages have retreated from the world after a madman blew up civilization with weaponized magical technology. Safe within domes that protect them from the nuclear wasteland on the other side, the mages have spent the last century putting their lives back together.

Nikolai is obsessed with artifacts from twentieth-century human life: mage-crafted replica Chuck Taylors on his feet, Schwarzenegger posters on his walls, Beatlemania still alive and well in his head. But he’s also tasked with a higher calling—to maintain the Veils that protect mage-kind from the hazards of the wastes beyond. As a cadet in the Mage King’s army, Nik has finally found what he always wanted—a purpose. But when confronted by one of his former instructors gone rogue, Nik tumbles into a dark secret. The humans weren’t nuked into oblivion—they’re still alive. Not only that, outside the domes a war rages between the last enclaves of free humans and vast machine intelligences.

Outside the dome, unprepared and on the run, Nik finds Jem. Jem is a Runner for the Human Resistance. A ballerina-turned-soldier by the circumstances of war, Jem is more than just a human—her cybernetic enhancement mods make her faster, smarter, and are the only things that give her a fighting chance against the artificial beings bent on humanity’s eradication.

Now Nik faces an impossible decision: side with the mages and let humanity die out? Or stand with Jem and the humans—and risk endangering everything he knows and loves?





Sonia Faruqi

The Oyster Thief
Pegasus Books, October 16, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Two worlds collide when a mermaid and human man meet, plunging readers into a vast underwater realm brimming with adventure and intrigue.

"The mermaid’s scales were bronze, and they shimmered like hundreds of pennies arranged close together. Her immense blue-green eyes gave a look of fragility to her face, yet he found her eyes unsettling. She was leaning against a thirty-foot-long shark, which emerged from behind her and opened its mouth to reveal a great big cavern lined with hundreds of teeth—a black tunnel ready to swallow him."

Coralline is a mermaid who is engaged to the merman of her dreams. But when an oil spill wreaks havoc on her idyllic village life, her little brother falls gravely ill. Desperate to save him, she embarks on aquest to find a legendary elixir made of starlight.

Izar, a human man, is on the cusp of an invention that will enable him to mine the depths of the ocean. His discovery will soon make him the richest man on earth—while threatening merpeople with extinction. But then, suddenly, Izar finds himself transformed into a merman and caught in a web of betrayal and intrigue. Meeting Coralline in the ocean, he decides to join her on her quest for the elixir, hoping it will turn him human again.

The quest pushes Coralline and Izar together, even though their worlds are at odds. Their pasts threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline leave her fiancé for a man who might betray her? And Izar has a dark secret of his own—one that could cause him to lose Coralline forever.

Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is a richly imagined odyssey destined to become a classic.





Hester Fox

The Witch of Willow Hall
Graydon House, October 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…





S.L. Huang

Zero Sum Game
Cas Russell 1
Tor Books, October 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
A blockbuster, near-future science fiction thriller, S.L. Huang's Zero Sum Game introduces a math-genius mercenary who finds herself being manipulated by someone possessing unimaginable power

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she'll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower...until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she's involved. There’s only one problem...

She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.





Gary Kemble

Strange Ink
Titan Books, October 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
Spine-chilling horror in the vein of Joe Hill. After moving into a new house, journalist Harry Hendrick wakes up with tattoos that aren’t his…

When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares - so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past. One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.





Derek Künsken

The Quantum Magician
The Quantum Evolution 1
Solaris, October 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
The breathtaking debut from acclaimed short story writer Derek Künsken.

THE ULTIMATE HEIST

Belisarius is a Homo quantus, engineered with impossible insight. But his gift is also a curse—an uncontrollable, even suicidal drive to know, to understand. Genetically flawed, he leaves his people to find a different life, and ends up becoming the galaxy’s greatest con man and thief.

But the jobs are getting too easy and his extraordinary brain is chafing at the neglect. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of secret warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius jumps at it. Now he must embrace his true nature to pull off the job, alongside a crew of extraordinary men and women.

If he succeeds, he could trigger an interstellar war… or the next step in human evolution.





Martin Riker

Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return
Coffee House Press, October 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 256 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
After he dies, Samuel Johnson inhabits one body after the next, waiting for a chance to return to his son.

When Samuel Johnson dies, he finds himself in the body of the man who killed him, unable to depart this world but determined, at least, to return to the son he left behind. Moving from body to body as each one expires, Samuel’s soul journeys on a comic quest through an American half-century, inhabiting lives as stymied, in their ways, as his own. A ghost story of the most unexpected sort, Martin Riker’s extraordinary debut is about the ways experience is mediated, the unstoppable drive for human connection, and the struggle to be more fully alive in the world.





Alexandra Rowland

A Conspiracy of Truths
Saga Press, October 23, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
A wrongfully imprisoned storyteller spins stories from his jail cell that just might have the power to save him—and take down his jailers too.

Arrested on accusations of witchcraft and treason, Chant finds himself trapped in a cold, filthy jail cell in a foreign land. With only his advocate, the unhelpful and uninterested Consanza, he quickly finds himself cast as a bargaining chip in a brewing battle between the five rulers of this small, backwards, and petty nation.

Or, at least, that's how he would tell the story.

In truth, Chant has little idea of what is happening outside the walls of his cell, but he must quickly start to unravel the puzzle of his imprisonment before they execute him for his alleged crimes. But Chant is no witch—he is a member of a rare and obscure order of wandering storytellers. With no country to call his home, and no people to claim as his own, all Chant has is his wits and his apprentice, a lad more interested in wooing handsome shepherds than learning the ways of the world.

And yet, he has one great power: his stories in the ears of the rulers determined to prosecute him for betraying a nation he knows next to nothing about. The tales he tells will topple the Queens of Nuryevet and just maybe, save his life.





Ian Stuart Sharpe

The Allfather Paradox
Vikingverse 1
Outland Entertainment, October 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 414 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts
What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves?

Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the thousand-year-old Viking memorial there. But when things start changing and outright disappearing, Michaels realizes there is more to this old man than meets the eye. Now, Michaels finds himself swept up in an ancient god’s quest to escape his destiny by reworking reality, putting history—and to Michaels’s dismay, Christianity itself—to the Viking sword. In this new Vikingverse, storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas:

A young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens…
A scholar exiled to the frontier braves the dangers of the New World, only to find those “new worlds” are greater than he imagined…
A captured Jötunn plants the dreams of freedom during a worlds-spanning war…
A bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect…

With the timelines stretched to breaking point, it’s up to Churchwarden Michaels to save reality as we know it…

Interview with Sherri Cook Woosley, author of Walking Through Fire


Please welcome Sherri Cook Woosley to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Walking Through Fire was published on September 4th by Talos Press.



Interview with Sherri Cook Woosley, author of Walking Through Fire




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Sherri:  Thank you very much for having me!

I didn’t write it, but my first imaginings were fan fiction of the Elfquest graphic novels by Wendy and Richard Pini. I loved the world of two moons and how each member of the tribe had their own storyline. I remember going to Balticon and waiting with a comic book (still in wrapper, of course) to get Wendy’s signature. Mumbling about how I liked her drawings or something equally banal when I was really about to faint from excitement.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sherri:  While writing Walking Through Fire I was more of a pantser because I had static images in my head. I arranged those in order, but then, in revision, I had to figure out WHY the dots connected in that order. It wasn’t a particularly efficient method, but sometimes being intuitive isn’t efficient. The trade-off is that you explore places and ideas that you might have missed otherwise.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sherri:  Short Answer: Time.

Long Answer: I get my four kids off to three schools, walk the dog, teach morning yoga classes, and then have two hours before the older kids get home from school and the afternoon driving begins. That’s how I know I’m a writer. I would quit if I could! But, I can’t. I’ve tried. Instead, I have to schedule writing time and not wait for some muse to show up. Slow and Steady.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sherri:  Most recently I had the opportunity to attend a two-week writing seminar called Taos Toolbox in New Mexico led by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress. It was an intense time of critiquing and writing and meeting guest lecturers like Carrie Vaughn and this guy you might have heard of: George R. R. Martin. The two weeks were incredible. I’d never been away from my family that long, but I was so happy immersed in reading and writing and meeting the other writers participating in the seminar.



TQDescribe Walking Through Fire using only 5 words.

Sherri:  Mother and son battle gods.



TQTell us something about Walking Through Fire that is not found in the book description.

Sherri:  The opening scene was originally a homestead near Harper’s Ferry, WV being attacked by a two-headed moose. My beta readers had so many questions that I had to keep backing up to explain how we’d gotten to that point.



TQWhat inspired you to write Walking Through Fire? What appeals to you about writing Dystopian fantasy?

Sherri:  I think post-apocalyptic and dystopian fantasy are both influenced by a combination of fear and hope. At least, that’s how it is for me. I see trends in current society and I need to chase them down to the worst-case scenario. But, I firmly believe there are always heroes who run TOWARD the fire while everyone else is running away. That feels true to me and is something I want to explore.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Walking Through Fire?

Sherri:  I taught Intro. to World Mythology at University of Maryland years ago. I got to revisit the stories of Mesopotamia as I decided how to actualize each deity. One of the fun things about Mesopotamian myth is that there are so many variations in the stories, changes over time conflating with which city-state was in power, thus bringing their deity to power.

Then, for my magic system, I took the Sumerian concept of etemmu or etemu (Akkadian), which is the animating spirit and changed it to be the primal spiritual energy that gods can easily manipulate and humans have the ability, with work, to manipulate in individual ways.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Walking Through Fire.

Sherri:  Jeff Chapman is the amazing artist who designed the cover from an early scene in the novel. Rachel and Adam are standing in a very recognizable part of Baltimore – an intersection I’ve driven a thousand times – and he even put a little hint in the flames that lick the sky.



TQIn Walking Through Fire who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sherri:  An, the Sumerian sky god, was so much fun to write. He’s a fan of the Fab Four and sprinkles quotes from The Beatles into his conversations. As one of the oldest gods, he historically lost his power to the younger gods. So, he came into my novel with a chip already on his shoulder and a need to prove he’s still relevant even while he claims that he wants to stay out the upcoming war.

Rachel was the hardest. She’s not a “chosen one.” Instead, she’s a suburban mom with a degree in art history who is faced with an unimaginable unnatural disaster. Rachel experiences anxiety and doesn’t always know what to do, but she leads with her heart and she’s loyal to her found family. She worries too much – but what mother doesn’t? I hope that readers appreciate her vulnerability and don’t see it as weakness. Ha ha, maybe that’s my anxiety speaking.



TQDoes Walking Through Fire touch on any social issues?

Sherri:  I wanted to read about a mother, not a superhero. I wanted to read about someone who doesn’t already have a network of friends and, instead, has to find her tribe. Before N. K. Jemison’s Broken Earth series I hadn’t seen moms that I could relate to in speculative fiction. They were killed off to give the husband or the children a revenge motivation to start a quest. They were the authority figure who had to be defied for the other characters to have agency. They were the ones left behind to guard hearth and home so the heroes could leave. And mothers who did have agency, like Evelyn in the Divergent series, is the antagonist so that the characters can have moral agency.

This is a social issue because of today’s demand for mothers to sacrifice themselves, their art, their own desires, and sometimes their own bodies for their children. #MothersArePeopleToo. That can be our hashtag. Talking to fellow moms during play groups, we want to have our own books. Where we can love our children and still get to go on adventures without being judged. It feels like today’s culture is incredibly demanding and judgmental. A mother is judged if she goes to work, she’s judged if she stays home. She’s called a helicopter parent or a free-range parent. She’s supposed to read about Tiger moms and French moms and EVERY kind of parenting, except, maybe, there are a lot of different ways to parent your kids, with kindness and human decency being top of the list.



TQWhich question about Walking Through Fire do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sherri:  What is your favorite animal from the novel? Answer: My favorite animal is actually in the second novel, which might be a tease, but if you’d like to find YOUR Misbegotten pet, I wrote a fun quiz: https://tasteofsherri.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/critter-quiz-for-walking-through-fire/



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Walking Through Fire.

Sherri:

“Behind him she saw the sky rip open. A flaming meteor fell and an orange glow lit the horizon. The world was on fire.”



TQWhat's next?

Sherri:  I’ll be signing books and speaking on two panels at the Baltimore Book Festival September 29-30th and I’ll be reading an excerpt of Walking Through Fire at Charm City Spec’s meeting at Bird in Hand bookstore in Baltimore on Halloween (October 31st).



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sherri:  Thank you for having me!





Walking Through Fire
A Misbegotten Novel 1
Talos, September 4, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Sherri Cook Woosley, author of Walking Through Fire
For fans of American Gods, a dark, humorous, and richly written, dystopian fantasy about the unbreakable bonds of family and the undying strength of a mother's love.

The end of the world begins as literal fire rains down from the heavens. Ancient gods are released from their prison, eager to reestablish their long-lost power. But Rachel Deneuve has bigger, more contemporary concerns than a divine war.

Her son Adam is in the middle of a fight against leukemia, and Rachel is determined to keep focused on that battle. But when humans begin picking sides and the fighting escalates, their home in Baltimore becomes a war zone, one she can’t ignore.

Desperate to stay away from the carnage—as well as the germ-ridden refugee center—Rachel and Adam flee to their remote mountain cottage, only to find their refuge marred by mutated, grotesque plants and animals. Eventually, the cancerous cells in Adam's body begin evolving as well, threatening his life and forcing Rachel to venture back into the eye of the storm. Left with no other choice but to sacrifice her own freedom for her son's safety, she must become an unwilling warrior in a battle unlike anything seen in millennia, or lose everything she holds dear.





About Sherri

Interview with Sherri Cook Woosley, author of Walking Through Fire
Sherri Cook Woosley, a Baltimore native, is an active member of the Baltimore Science Fiction Circle, and was a winner of their amateur writing contest in 2014. Her short stories can be found in Abyss & Apex, Pantheon Magazine, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Walking Through Fire is her debut novel. In addition to writing, she teaches yoga so other people can balance their lives while she juggles four kids, a dog, rabbit, and various other animals. She lives in Maryland with her family.

Website  ~  Twitter @SherriWoosley

Interview with Signe Pike, author of The Lost Queen


Please welcome Signe Pike to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Lost Queen is published on September 4th by Touchstone.

Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Signe a very Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Signe Pike, author of The Lost Queen




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

Signe:  I got my first diary in second grade. When I think back on my earliest writing, this is what comes to mind, because it contains the purest seed of my relationship with writing. "Dear Diary..." I wrote to my diary as if it were my truest friend. My relationship with writing has become more complex as I've aged because of the various forms in which I work with writing -- memoir, poetry, fiction. But at the heart of it, has anything really changed at all? Writing is still my truest friend. I turn to it, I confide in it, I create with it. Every day it saves me.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Signe:  Hybrid! In historical fiction the timeline, historical people and historical events create the foundation of the plot. The pantser part comes in having to reimagine the motivations and details.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Signe:  Two things - Drowning out the voice of my inner critic and keeping my mind focused on the task at hand.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Signe:  Ancient Celtic culture, a reverence for the natural world, other writers of all genres who have a deftness to their craft, the desire to know.



TQDescribe The Lost Queen using only 5 words.

Signe:  Family, love, belief, war, destiny.



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

Signe:  In this book you will read about delicious early medieval food and adorable white cows.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Lost Queen? What appeals to you about writing a historical fiction?

Signe:  I was inspired to write The Lost Queen when I learned who Languoreth was and the truly epic events in history she lived through. Historical fiction is a powerful way to resurrect people from our past who deserve to be remembered.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Lost Queen?

Signe:  What sort of research... tons, and never-ending! I looked at -- and continue to look at, being that this is the first in a trilogy -- hagiographies of saints, ancient Welsh triads, scholarly papers on everything from the Arthurian legends to archeological studies of pollen in early medieval Ireland and Britain, books on ancient Celtic society, on gender roles and early medieval women in the Celtic world, ancient poetry, ancient law. When I visit Scotland, I travel to hillforts and explore with Ordinance Survey maps to try and find possible ruin locations, I visit museums, lots of libraries, and talk to local people in an effort to uncover folk memory of various locations. It's like being a really geeky detective, but with sturdy hiking boots and lots of bug spray.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Lost Queen.

Signe:  The cover contains symbolism central to the book in both the animal depicted and the brooch.



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

Signe:  Languoreth was the easiest character to write - her voice just seemed to come very effortlessly. The hardest character to write was Mungo. He is the patron saint of Glasgow, but it's difficult to reconcile the tone of his hagiography (i.e. that of miracle worker and persecuted, saintly saint!) with the actions detailed within that very same account. When you begin to consider how Mungo's historical actions would have effected those he directly impacted, those on the other side of the story, it becomes nearly impossible to see him as a saint.



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

Signe:  Question: What percentage of your day do you spend wishing you could dress in tailor-made early medieval dresses and ride white horses?

Answer: 100%



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

Signe:

“War is not about victory. War is about survival.”


"This was the time before we were seen, when none knew of our presence save the spirits of the wood in their sunset kingdom."


“In times such as these, when the people need a hero, so are such heroes
made.”



TQIf you could go back in time and visit one of the 6 Celtic nations (Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall or Wales) where would you go and when?

Signe:  Yes, please. Oh, just one? OK, fine. I would visit Scotland, of course. I would give anything to be able to step inside Languoreth and Lailoken's real childhood home, the timber hall I believe lies buried or lost beneath the ruins of a much later medieval castle in Chatelherault Country Park in Hamilton.



TQWhat's next?

Signe:  Book Two of The Lost Queen Trilogy! The book opens right where The Lost Queen leaves off, right in the middle of the action. It's exhilarating and has been incredible so far to write. The world of The Lost Queen feels to me as if it just explodes in Book Two into this new and even fuller experience of Languoreth's story, told from a few carefully chosen view points. I'm following characters I love as each of them embarks on their own transformative "hero's" journey. I've got people running all over various parts of Scotland (the site research has been nuts for Book Two), and there's this over-arching pressure pressing down upon all these people due to the historical events that were taking place. The voices are coming through so strongly. I can't wait to get home from book tour and get back to it!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Signe:  It's been a pleasure. I hope to hear from readers who take on the challenge and have a chance to read the book!





The Lost Queen
The Lost Queen 1
Touchstone, September 4, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 544 pages

Interview with Signe Pike, author of The Lost Queen
Compared to Outlander and The Mists of Avalon, this thrilling first novel of a debut trilogy reveals the untold story of Languoreth—a forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland—twin sister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin.

I write because I have seen the darkness that will come. Already there are those who seek to tell a new history...

In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother—a warrior and druid known to history as Myrddin—Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever.

Based on new scholarship, this tale of bravery and conflicted love brings a lost queen back to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of one of the most enduring legends of all time.





About Signe

Interview with Signe Pike, author of The Lost Queen
Photo by Tiffany Mizzell Photography ©
Signe Pike is the author of the travel memoir Faery Tale and has researched and written about Celtic history and folklore for more than a decade. A former book editor, she lives in Charleston, South Carolina where she writes full time. Visit her at SignePike.com.











Twitter @ SignePike  ~  Facebook


Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed


Please welcome Drew Williams to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Stars Now Unclaimed is published on August 21st by Tor Books.

Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Drew a very Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Drew:  Hmmm. The key to that question really is 'remember', isn't it? I've been writing fiction since well before I could clearly tell you what I was writing: I remember making up stories as a little kid - usually with my cousins or my brother, sometimes alone - and thinking we'd written the next great American novel (usually involving cyborgs or zombies, and topping out at all of five pages). I finished my first full-length novel at twelve or so, so we'll go ahead and count that as the first real 'piece', I suppose. (Don't get me wrong, it was terrible: a mishmash of stolen ideas and, just, horrid writing, but you didn't ask 'what was the first good piece of fiction you remember!').



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Drew:  Oh, absolutely a pantser, no question. (Though I have to admit, that phrasing makes me feel like a British boarding school villain : 'watch out for Geordie Wilkins; he's a pantser, he is!’) I sometimes get scattered lines of dialog, impressions of an upcoming character, or brief images of scenes yet to come - and I'll dutifully jot them down, and sometimes use them, and sometimes forget them entirely once I've gone haring off in another direction - but ninety-seven percent of my writing is done in chronological order, start to finish, with nothing but the preceding sentence to go off of. My absolute favorite thing about writing (and make no mistake - my first audience is always myself; I write for me, I just happen to be lucky enough to get paid to do so!) is to be surprised by something - a line of dialog I wouldn’t have thought a character would have said, a realization that comes to me at the same time it comes to the characters, even just a grace note in a description - and that’s much harder to achieve if I already know what’s going to happen!



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Drew:  Endings. Definitely endings. Part of that’s building off of the last question - once I’m past the climax and into the denouement, I pretty much know how things need to wrap up, and that’s just… not as interesting for me to write - but I also mean it much more literally, as in I find it insanely difficult to find the last sentence, or even scene: that place where a story should end, to look back and yet forward into everything all at once. (Honestly, I think part of the reason I write books in series is so that I can put off that final moment, where it’s all done, for as long as possible!)



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Drew:  Outside of treacly-but-necessary responses like ‘my friends and family’ - in terms of style, it’s hard to get past Stephen King, honestly. The man can sketch a character in just a few lines, and yet you know them inside out; he can also nail a character’s interior voice in a way that very few can match.



TQYou are a bookseller. What is it like for you to see your own novel on bookstore shelves?

Drew:  Insanely surreal - I say that, and I’ve (redacted by Drew’s assistant, because he’s an idiot who probably shouldn’t be allowed to do any more interviews)! I mentioned Stephen King above - we’re a small bookstore, which means we’ve only got one section for speculative fiction, with sci-fi and horror and fantasy all mixed in together, which means MY book is in the same section as Stephen King! My book! Same section! I honestly still don’t quite believe it!



TQDescribe The Stars Now Unclaimed using only 5 words.

Drew:  ‘Grief Can Be Used Bravely’. If you want something a little more descriptive and less thematic: ‘Space Opera, Quips, More Quips’.



TQTell us something about The Stars Now Unclaimed that is not found in the book description.

Drew:  The entire last two acts are climax! Seriously, it’s all one big, chaotic, sound-barrier-breaking rush, because I have no impulse control, and nobody told me not to!



TQWhat inspired you to write The Stars Now Unclaimed? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular a Space Opera?

Drew:  Those questions are linked, actually (well done!). Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy is fun for me partially because I’m not beholden to history or social mores or little things like ‘physics’ or ‘reality’ if I don’t want to be. I can sort of pick and choose what I want to carry over, and what I want to leave behind. Plus, my writing process - on the creative side, in terms of ‘where do I begin, what is this story’, rather than the procedural ‘the actual writing’ side - usually starts with world-building: ‘how is this world different from our own?’ Which, of course, inherently means I’m not going to be writing contemporary fiction.

So with that question in mind: I started Stars because I wanted to write a sort of post-apocalyptic space opera, to mash up those two genres, mainly to give myself as broad a canvas as possible - it meant I could have dogfights in space in one scene, and desperate one-on-one scrabbles in blasted-out cityscapes the next. So I asked the question ‘how could that sort of universe come about’, came up with a very specific type of apocalypse, which led me back to the creation of the nuclear bomb (where my thoughts always tend when the apocalypse comes up) and the idea that men did this thing: men set it loose. Whether they meant to or not. And then I had myself a narrative.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Stars Now Unclaimed?

Drew:  Very little! That’s part of the fun of writing science fiction! You look up very specific things online when you need it - physics or biology or astronomy - and the rest of it, you can just make up, because it’s your universe, and you don’t have to be beholden to the same rules as this one!



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Stars Now Unclaimed.

Drew:  I was privileged enough to work very closely with my editor, Devi Pillai, and Tor’s in-house art director, Peter Lutjen, who did the cover (or at least, they were kind enough to at least entertain my constant stream of suggestions: ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’). We wanted to get across that very bifurcated idea of this universe, that it was this divided place where you could have spaceships and high technology one moment, and then abandoned, pre-industrial societies on the very next page, and I think Peter nailed it! (Devi was the one who was insistent on the big, floating type, though. Which is fair: the big, floating type is awesome!)



TQIn The Stars Now Unclaimed who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Drew:  Jane (the protagonist), just because we’re in her mind, seeing things from her view - if I hadn’t been able to find her voice, and quickly, there wouldn’t have been a novel. She snapped into place pretty much from the first page, thankfully; was just there, waiting for me, tapping her foot impatiently like I was overdue (and Jane’s not someone you want pissed at you - even a little!). The hardest was probably the Preacher, just because - again, coming at that character from Jane’s perspective, she’s the hardest for Jane to read, which made her harder for me to pin down, and also because, as an advanced machine intelligence, her way of thinking needed to feel a little alien to the reader.



TQDoes The Stars Now Unclaimed touch on any social issues?

Drew:  I would say ‘themes’ rather than specific issues: since I was writing sci-fi, I allowed myself to be a little utopian (even in a sometimes post-apocalyptic setting) with the notion that certain ugly current social impulses like racism, misogyny, and homophobia were mostly-forgotten relics of the distant past. Thematically, though, I was say the thrust of not just Stars but the entire Universe After series is the idea that we cannot pass our own sins on to our children - which is exactly how we need to wipe out those ugly impulses I just mentioned. So long as each generation is just a little better than the next, we will get there eventually.



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

Drew:  Honestly, this is only like my third interview, so I haven’t had time to get used to the idea that there are questions I’ve already heard too much! I’d say my thinking is more ‘I’m horrified someone’s going to ask me a question I absolutely cannot answer’ - sort of like this one! Hooray, milestone!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Stars Now Unclaimed.

Drew:

‘It hovered above the burning town, almost drawn even against the bulk of the orbital gun, as if it were a mirror image of the flaming settlement below—broken towers and shattered structures on both craft and township, fires flickering in the interior of buildings and bulkheads both, the dreadnaught still shedding metal like a snake molting its skin.’ (I just like the description here, and I’m usually not wild about my own descriptive writing.)


“Well I don’t know, but it’s the thought that counts! They’re art students, you know how hard it is to find a virgin in an art school?” (That one just makes me crack up; apologies to my friends - and your various readers - who are art students... but I bet very few of them are virgins.)


“But you could have been.” (I realize that one means literally nothing without context, but you did ask me for my favorite lines, and that one absolutely slays me, every time I re-read Stars on an editing pass - it’s a knife to the heart, another one of those lines that surprised me, came out of nowhere.)



TQWhat's next?

Drew:  The rest of the series, of course! I don’t think I’m allowed to give out pertinent information yet, not even titles (though I’ve got them in my back pocket!), so I’ll just say this: exploring the relationship between Jane and Esa - in ways that I think, or at least I hope, will surprise the reader - is definitely the focus of the next novel.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Stars Now Unclaimed
The Universe After 1
Tor Books, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed
Drew Williams's The Stars Now Unclaimed is a fun, adventure-filled space opera set in a far-future galaxy.

Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages.

Hot on her trail is the Pax--a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.

Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.

And that's just the beginning . . .





About Drew

Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed
Photo by Daniel Barnacastle
Drew Williams has been a bookseller in Birmingham, Alabama since he was sixteen years old, when he got the job because he came in looking for work on a day when someone else had just quit. Outside of arguing with his coworkers about whether Moby Dick is brilliant (nope) or terrible (that one), his favorite part of the job is discovering new authors and sharing them with his customers.Drew is the author of The Universe After series, including The Stars Now Unclaimed.





Twitter @DrewWilliamsIRL



Review: Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio


Empire of Silence
Author:  Christopher Ruocchio
Series:  The Sun Eater 1
Publisher:  DAW, July 3, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 624 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  ISBN 9780756413002 (print); ISBN 9780756413026 (eBook

Review: Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.



Melanie's Thoughts:

Hadrian had his life all mapped out. He wants to become a scholiast - one of the learned academics like his beloved teacher, Gibson. However his father, the Archon of Meidua, has other plans. His father is planning to send him to the Chantry where he will become just another soulless minion of the Empire, torturing the poor and defenseless. No one, not even Hadrian, could have anticipated the chain of events that unfold when he defies his father's wishes.

Stranded on a planet far away from home and the future that he sacrificed so much for. With no money, friends or family Hadrian does the only thing he knows - fight. All the years of training have paid off as Hadrian enters the gladiatorial arena. It's not long before he makes a name for himself beating gladiators with better weapons and armor soon becoming a hero of the arena. Once again, politics of the court take him farther away from the life he started to make for himself. He is now firmly on the path to become what the galaxy will remember him as  - the Sun Eater.

Empire of Silence is truly an epic. The story is told in the first person with Hadrian recounting the events that lead up to him becoming known as the world killer. The story starts at the very beginning, with his birth and ends with Hadrian leaving the planet that became his new home. A lot happens to Hadrian in the first few decades of his life and his fortunes change dramatically between the start and the end of book 1. Events before he leaves his home world are very traumatic for him but it seems that his life on the streets of Emesh are what define him as a person.

Ruocchio has an incredible imagination and the worlds that he has built for Hadrian are rich and full of detail. Despite the story only covering the first twenty something years of Hadrian's life a lot happens to him. I liked how the story was told from the first person and and that 30+ years were lost in Hadrian's life as he traveled across the galaxy after escaping his father but we don't find out why. The society, history and social structures are also very detailed, in fact, so detailed that Ruocchio provides us with one of the longest glossaries I have ever seen. Although I didn't find it until I had finished the book which is pretty easy to do when reading an eBook.

My one criticism with Empire of Silence is the pace. There is so much detail and so much dialogue that the story can actually drag in parts but then half a chapter later something would happen so that I could barely put the book down. If I had only two words to describe this book I would say that it is 'topsy turvy' because one minute I was bored stiff with all the detail and the next I was on the edge of my seat. Having said that this was a debut and it was very ambitious. I am very curious to find out what will happen next to Hadrian. I just really hope that Ruocchio evens out the pace and and doesn't unnecessarily drag out the story.

Note: I love the cover. It is one that I spent a lot of time staring at it. And it won the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for July!

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner


Another epic voting battle took place for July and this time it was between Empire of Silence (DAW) and City of Lies (Tor Books).

The winner of the July 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio with 35% of the votes. The cover art is by Sam Weber



Empire of Silence
Sun Eater 1
DAW, July 3, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 624 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner
Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.





The Results

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner





The July 2018 Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner

Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies


Please welcome Sam Hawke to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. City of Lies was published on July 3rd by Tor Books.



Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

Sam:  There is a photograph of me (aged 4ish) in my parents' photo album, with a picture I painted and the accompanying story written down by my preschool teacher. My face is dark with rage because she transcribed the story incorrectly ("Then I had an idea, and it worked!" is written as "Then I had an indeed, and it worked!"). I must have known then that I couldn't trust anyone else to relay my apparent genius and I would have to do it myself. Hehe.

By age 6 I had graduated to stapling piles of paper together and writing chapter titles and the first sentence of each on each page, because by then I had figured out there was such thing as a novelist, and I wanted to be one (my follow-through was a bit poor though).



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sam:  I work very well to a plot if I have one, but they take me a lot of time and pain and so sometimes I have to plough ahead without one. City of Lies was very well plotted in advance. The sequel I'm figuring out as I go along, madly trying to stay one step ahead of myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sam:  First drafting, getting the words on screen in the first place, will always be my hurdle. I love revising but I find it very hard to just switch off the critical part of my brain and embrace the creative so first drafting is a laborious process. I live in desperate admiration of writers who can just spew out first drafts and then go back and fix them.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sam:  Really good writing, and occasionally really bad writing - the former because I want to share stories that make me feel things the way good writers do, the latter because I think I can do better! (I'm sure one day I'm going to be someone else's example of a bad writer that they find inspiring, and that's OK. Gotta stay useful.)



TQDescribe City of Lies using only 5 words.

Sam:  Poison, treachery, city under siege.



TQTell us something about City of Lies that is not found in the book description.

Sam:  Oooh, tricky. Well, it's not on the back cover but the main large-scale conflict in City of Lies is about cultural divides, and the consequences when cultures forget their roots. Some long past decisions come back to bite everyone in the arse, basically.



TQWhat inspired you to write City of Lies? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Sam:  I love writing fantasy. I can't really imagine writing anything else. There's just something transportive about working outside our own reality. Basically I like having the freedom to work outside what we think we know about the world in order to explore what we do know about it. Also, I prefer making stuff up to researching, so secondary worlds are a natural fit for my lazy self.

City of Lies was kind of my love letter to the two kinds of books I like reading the best - secondary world fantasy, and closed room mysteries. I wanted to write something that gave me the kind of ratcheting tension of a good mystery/crime novel, but which was also in my preferred setting.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for City of Lies?

Sam:  Not a lot, honestly, other than a fair bit of reading about poisons and supertasting. I'll steal this expression from my friend Rob and say I like to 'research like a ninja', which is to say that I'm not the type of person who spends a lot of time doing background research and detailed worldbuilding before I start writing, but rather just look things up as I go. My favourite system is to stick stuff in square brackets that says something like '[check if you call the railing on a ship a railing or if it has some special name]' or '[check if this is physically possible??] which I leave for Future Sam to handle.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for City of Lies.

Sam:  The Tor cover is a beautiful hand drawn picture by Greg Ruth of a hand holding a knife, and a city reflected in the blade. It is stunning and I love it so much I bought the original graphite art off Greg for my wall. It's not depicting something specific about the book so much as a flavour - I think looking at it you get a sense of danger and mystery and treachery, and a glimpse at what the city looks like.



TQIn City of Lies who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sam:  I found the main characters - the two POV characters and the two main secondary characters - the easiest to write because I knew them so well, I knew what they wanted and what they were afraid of, and how they would react to a situation (Well, when I say easiest, this is a relative term, heh).

The tertiary characters were probably the hardest because I needed to give them all distinct voices, personalities and motivations, but I had so little page space to do it in.



TQDoes City of Lies touch on any social issues?

Sam:  I mean, all books have social issues, don't they, as long as they're about people? But yeah, City of Lies touches on classism, the concentration of wealth in cities, how dominant cultures interact with non-dominant cultures, xenophobia, and the ways that societies under external pressures can turn on themselves.

It's not an issue in the book, just a fact of how the society is structured, but gender politics are a completely different beast in this world. There's no strict assumptions about what roles and professions are available to either gender and no concept of marriage (families are defined by blood relationships, not romantic ones). I suspect some readers may regard the basic premise of women being allowed and expected to contribute to their families in the same way as men as a social issue even though it's simply a background fact of the worldbuilding.



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

Sam:

Q: How can I order 1000 copies of your fine publication for all my friends and family?
A: Why, thank you for asking, it's available at all good bookstores, or anywhere online that sells good books!



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

Sam:  Most of my favourite bits are spoilery but this one's from the first chapter. A bit of a shameless self-insert but I've seen a number of people quoting it so I'll assume it resonates with anyone who's ever been on the way home after a long trip and had something delay them further when they just want a cuppa:

I dodged a stray blow in my direction and, as the man launched himself heavily at Tain again, his drunken focus on this new target of his rage, I chopped into his stomach as hard as I could with the side of my hand. "I just want a cup of tea," I told him bitterly.



TQWhat's next?

Sam:  Busy finishing off the sequel, Hollow Empire, and then no doubt I'll be very focussed on editing that for the next while. Then it's largely up to my publisher - if they would like more books in this world, I'll launch into a third one. If not,



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sam:  Thanks so much for having me!





City of Lies
The Poison Wars 1
Tor Books, July 3, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 560 pages

Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies
Poison. Treachery. Ancient spirits. Sieges. The Poison Wars begin now, with City of Lies, a fabulous epic fantasy debut by Sam Hawke

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he's a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.





About Sam

Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies
Sam Hawke has wanted to write books since realising as a child that they didn’t just breed between themselves in libraries. Having contemplated careers as varied as engineer, tax accountant and zookeeper Sam eventually settled on the law. After marrying her jujitsu training partner and travelling to as many countries as possible, Sam now resides in Canberra, Australia raising two small ninjas and two idiot dogs. City of Lies is her debut novel.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @samhawkewrites  ~  Instagram
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