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Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, author of The All Father Paradox


Please welcome Ian Stuart Sharpe to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The All Father Paradox was published on October 9, 2018 by Outland Entertainment.



Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, author of The All Father Paradox




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

Ian:  I don’t remember so much the piece as the word. I scribbled down something in a creative writing class including the description of a politician as “tergiversatory”. I remember my English teacher calling me over to ask what on earth it meant (it means evasive, or prone to switch sides).

I was clearly a pretentious twelve-year-old.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Ian:  Undoubtedly a hybrid. The essence of the All Father Paradox are these set pieces, moments in an alternate timeline. Each of those is like a segment jigsaw, they have to fit the big picture. But within each of those stories, I found that the characters took on a life of their own – their Viking voyage, so to speak, was full of wanderlust and abandon. Moreover, because the book hinges of these little bits of history repeating, these echoes of previous chapters, you’d find that what you planned was constantly pummelled with waves of implications. Adaption was the only way the DNA blueprint could survive.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ian:  The on ramp. The starting point for the story. New writers, top tip: I wouldn’t advise eliminating spoken dialogue from your arsenal.

In the All Father Paradox, we quickly meet some Benedictine monks who have taken a vow of silence. To be authentic to the characters and the period, they couldn’t talk. That means the entire scene has to be carried by internal monologue and exterior description. And because this is an unfamiliar scene – how may readers know intimate details of Charlemagne’s Saxon Wars 1250 years ago? – I had a fair amount of world building to do.

The monks had to go first in sequence, for reasons that will be obvious to someone who picks up the book, but boy howdy, sign language is a pain in the neck to write.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Ian:  When I am writing, the temptation to through in a flippant, tangential, irrelevant or downright obscure reference can only come from Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. They are like two Good Omens demons, wittering on my shoulders. But also, George MacDonald Fraser, who wrote Harry Flashman into just about every conflict the British Empire had across the Victorian era. Reading him humbug the potentates of Europe and beyond was a riot.



TQDescribe The All Father Paradox using only 5 words.

Ian:  What if the Vikings won?



TQTell us something about The All Father Paradox that is not found in the book description.

Ian:  We talk about the storied heroes of mankind, emerging from the sagas in new and brutal form, but we don’t say how, or why.

One of the long marches of our civilisation has been from mysticism through humanism to empiricism and rationalism. Simply put, our thinking about our place in the universe has evolved. I think one of the most interesting things I had to do was develop Norse thinking, from its Iron Age roots, into the Modern era. I’d removed Christianity from the equation early on, so what would the new formula look like? What does a world that places a great tree, Yggdrasil, as its central pillar look like?



TQWhat inspired you to write The All Father Paradox? Why Vikings?

Ian:  The book is partly about demons and being demonised. Stories are simplifications, designed to resonate across the ages, to stick in the mind. One of the best ways to do this is to paint someone in the blackest light.

Take the arch-fiend Lucifer, for instance. If you explore the meaning behind the word, you find some academics making the case for the name meaning “morning star” and referring to a failed coup by the son of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Looking down the long lens of history, it is breath-taking how perspectives change. One minute he is a prince, the next he is The Prince of Darkness.

A similar thing happened to the Vikings. Do you really think they were smell, horned-helmeted barbarians? Or does the record need setting straight? That was my impetus.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The All Father Paradox?

Ian:  It really ran the gamut between Old Norse sagas and poring through NASA data about exoplanets. That’s the challenge with writing about a civilisation, I wasn’t so much world-building as universe creating.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The All Father Paradox.

Ian:  The cover is an illustration penned with great care and attention by Jeremy Mohler at Outland, the publisher. It is a faithful representation of a real place – St. Mary’s Church, and the 1,000-year-old Viking Cross that can still be found in the churchyard there. The cross, the convergence of religions it represents, and the battle that revolves around it are captured perfectly in Jeremy’s scene.



TQIn The All Father Paradox who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Ian:  Churchwarden Michaels was the easiest to write, because he represents the England I grew up in, and is therefore an amalgam of people I knew and know. As a contemporary voice in the novel, and the frame of reference for the reader, he is designed to be a sympathetic, if flawed, character.

Conversely, at the other end of the time spectrum, the monk Folkward was hard to write – not just because of the vow of silence but because of the sheer bloody mindedness and unflinching devotion it took to be a Dark Age monk. I simply don’t have that “worshipfulness” in me.



TQDoes The All Father Paradox touch on any social issues?

Ian:  The All Father Paradox touches on religion, the role of women, the collapse of civilization, military coups, the perils of migration, and ultimately ecology too. I wanted to write a novel that started in the Dark Ages, that held a cracked mirror to the age we are in. There are candles, flickering in the darkness, throughout. I hope they are illuminating in some small way.



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

Ian:  In the novel, I explore the notion that “like ripples emanating from a single, solitary drop, the waves [of change] will roll though history”. I’d like someone to sit down and plot them, join the dots, find the parallels. And then ask – as per Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, scene 2): "What's in a name?”

And I’d answer, “everything, names have power and meaning, start looking for your clue there”



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The All Father Paradox.

Ian:  Here is a quote that references Churchwarden Michaels and the cross on the cover, and the sheer Englishness of it all.

“Tea, he reflected, would be especially welcome on a day like today. Michaels had always thought it a shame to leave the cross standing out in the British weather. One thousand years of this, it was a miracle that it had survived at all, but there it was: a wealth of detail carved into fifteen feet of red sandstone, round at the base, rising to a square top with a cross head, each of the four sides carrying images of a horseman, dragons, serpents, and all kinds of gorgeous, interlaced patterns.”

And then this is a rejoinder to him, drawn from later in the novel, that speaks to what is unfurled:

“So, my little sparrow. You are back in my hall. Back in my Midgard. Your Christianity is being ripped from the past like so much rot. You have seen the dark winter outside, the worlds of the Álfar and the Jötnar. The realms of the dead, all joined by the great World Tree. Are you so certain of what went before and what is to follow?”



TQWhat's next?

Ian:  There is a sequel, already underway. You might think it difficult to pen a follow up to Ragnarok, but the old Icelandic skalds managed it and I am following gin their footsteps. There is also a plan to “fill in the gaps” – the novel was always designed as a springboard, a way to create the Vikingverse. Now it exists, we have a myriad of stories to tell, some standalone, some crucial to the overarching plot. We’ll do that not just with novels, but with comics, games and who know what else!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





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

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, author of The All Father Paradox
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…





About Ian

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, author of The All Father Paradox
Ian Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.



Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @vikingverse

Twitter @IanStuartSharpe

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.

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 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 2018 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 October 31, 2018, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite October 2018 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts
Cover illustration by Jeremy D. Mohler





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts
Book design by Nick Sciacca





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts
Jacket illustration copyright © 2018 by Marko Manev
Jacket design by Nicholas Sciacca





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts
Cover art by Justin Adams





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts
Cover design by Kyle G. Hunter
TV test pattern on cover © Donald Sawvel/Shutterstock.com
Silhouette images on cover © iStock.com/majvecka





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts
Skull illustration © Studio London





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts
Cover design by Mary Luna





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Winner


The winner of the September 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Walking Through Fire by Sherri Cook Woosley with 57% of the votes. The Cover Design is by Mona Lin. The Cover Illustration is courtesy of Jeff Chapman.



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

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Winner
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.





The Results

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Winner





The September 2018 Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Winner

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…

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts



Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2018 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 October 7, 2018, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2018 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover designed by Kaitlin Kall





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Jacket Design by Eileen Carey
Background Artwork by Stephen Mulcahey / Arcangel





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Jacket illustration and design © Suzanne Dean,
incorporates eighteenth-century textile and pattern details
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by: Ashley Detmering





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Jacket design: Kimberly Glyder
Jacket art: Kula Moore





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art by Rebecca Yanovskaya
Designed by Lauren Panepinto





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Ron Ackins





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Grace West





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Mona Lin
Cover illustration courtesy of Jeff Chapman

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


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