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2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts


There are 11 debut novels for September.

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

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




Claire G. Coleman

Terra Nullius
Small Beer Press, September 11, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Jacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from.

The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to bring peace to their new home, and they have a plan for how to achieve it. They will tear Native families apart and provide re-education to those who do not understand why they should submit to their betters.

Peace and prosperity are worth any price, but who will pay it? This rich land, Australia, will provide for all if only the Natives can learn their place.

Jacky has escaped the Home where the Settlers sent him, but where will he go? The Head of the Department for the Protection of Natives, known to Settlers and Natives alike as the Devil, is chasing Jacky. And when the Devil catches him, Sister Bagra, who knows her duty to the ungodly, will be waiting for Jacky back at Home.

An incendiary, timely, and fantastical debut from an essential Australian Aboriginal writer, Claire G. Coleman.

Do you recognize this story? Look again.

This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history books. This Terra Nullius — shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize and Highly Commended for the Victorian Premiers Literary Awards — is something new, but all too familiar.





Charlie J. Eskew

Tales of the Astonishing Black Spark
Laternfish Press, September 4, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 380 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Trapped in a dead-end job in his Ohio hometown, watching the girl of his dreams move on to a glamorous new life in a big city--Donald McDougal's aimlessness has held him back for a long time. When a lightning strike grants him superhuman powers, he jumps at his chance to finally be somebody. But the new abilities and the pursuit of superheroic fame come with a price tag, and it may not be one he can afford.

This wry debut is at once a fanboy's homage to the history of superhero storytelling in America and a keen-eyed satire of those same stories, raising questions about race and privilege that are becoming impossible to ignore.





Preston Fassel

Our Lady of the Inferno
Cinestate, September 11, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 376 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Spring, 1983. Sally Ride is about to go into space. Flashdance is a cultural phenomenon. And in Times Square, two very deadly women are on a collision course with destiny-- and each other.

At twenty-one, Ginny Kurva is already legendary on 42nd Street. To the pimp for whom she works, she's the perfect weapon-- a martial artist capable of taking down men twice her size. To the girls in her stable, she's mother, teacher, and protector. To the little sister she cares for, she's a hero. Yet Ginny's bravado and icy confidence hide a mind at the breaking point, her sanity slowly slipping away as both her addictions and the sins of her past catch up with her...

At thirty-seven, Nicolette Aster is the most respected woman at the Staten Island Landfill. Quiet and competent, she's admired by the secretaries and trusted by her supervisors. Yet those around her have no idea how Nicolette spends her nights-- when the hateful madness she keeps repressed by day finally emerges, and she turns the dump into a hunting ground to engage in a nightmarish blood sport...

In the Spring of 1983, neither Ginny nor Nicolette knows the other exists. By the time Summer rolls around, one of them will be dead.





Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
Harper, September 11, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction

“Wonderful… completely transporting.”  —Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Circe and The Song of Achilles
 
"Historical fiction at its finest, combining myth and legend with the brutal realities of the past. . . . Comparisons will be drawn to the works of contemporary authors Sarah Waters and Michael Faber . . . but The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock has more in common with the novels of Dickens and Austen."  —Irish Times

In 1780s London, a prosperous merchant finds his quiet life upended when he unexpectedly receives a most unusual creature—and meets a most extraordinary woman—in this much-lauded, atmospheric debut that examines our capacity for wonder, obsession, and desire with all the magnetism, originality, and literary magic of The Essex Serpent.

One September evening in 1785, Jonah Hancock hears an urgent knocking on his front door near the docks of London. The captain of one of Jonah’s trading vessels is waiting eagerly on the front step, bearing shocking news. On a voyage to the Far East, he sold the Jonah’s ship for something rare and far more precious: a mermaid. Jonah is stunned—the object the captain presents him is brown and wizened, as small as an infant, with vicious teeth and claws, and a torso that ends in the tail of a fish. It is also dead.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlors and brothels, all of London is curious to see this marvel in Jonah Hancock’s possession. Thrust from his ordinary existence, somber Jonah finds himself moving from the city’s seedy underbelly to the finest drawing rooms of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of the coquettish Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on—and a shrewd courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting sparks a perilous liaison that steers both their lives onto a dangerous new course as they come to realize that priceless things often come at the greatest cost.

Imogen Hermes Gowar, Britain’s most-heralded new literary talent, makes her debut with this spellbinding novel of a merchant, a mermaid, and a madam—an unforgettable confection that explores obsession, wonder, and the deepest desires of the heart with bawdy wit, intrigue, and a touch of magic.





Hank Green

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Dutton, September 25, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
In his much-anticipated debut novel, Hank Greencocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShowspins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she’s part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.

The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring for the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye. The beginning of an exciting fiction career, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a bold and insightful novel of now.





Amy Lilwall

The Biggerers
Oneworld, September 11, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 528 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Introducing a witty and unique voice poised to take the literary world by storm. For fans of The Borrowers, Munmun and The Truckers.

Everybody became a bit mean. A bit individual. Units. That's all humanity could say for itself - well, it couldn't actually, because it was made up of too many, um, units. And then there were the elderly, who could never bear to be so isolated, yet isolated they were. It was cruel, really it was. And kids - not that many people had them any more - they seemed to be born sitting in one of those egg-shaped chairs, only seeing what was right in front of them.

So, the government asked a doctor, that famous one, to get a team together and figure it all out. He did. Everyone got a playmate. Well, everyone who wanted one, could buy a playmate. About a foot tall, they stood, naked (except in winter), very affectionate, not too intelligent. Mute, but cute - exactly what every home needsSomething to love, little units of love.

The Biggerers is set in a dystopian future where our two heroes, Bonbon and Jinx, spend their days gathering stones and feathers for their basket, and waiting to be fed by their owners. But it's not long before getting sick, falling in love and wondering why they can't eat with a spoon pushes them to realise they are exactly the same as their owners…only smaller.





Wayétu Moore

She Would Be King
Graywolf Press, September 11, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 312 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight at will, just as his mother could. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

Moore’s intermingling of history and magical realism finds voice not just in these three characters but also in the fleeting spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom. “If she was not a woman,” the wind says of Gbessa, “she would be king.” In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.





Signe Pike

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

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
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.





Rena Rossner

The Sisters of Winter Wood
Redhook, September 25, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner’s debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true…and could save them all.

“Mixes fairy tale, poetry, history, and heart to create an enchanting and mesmerizing tale of sisterly love. I adored this book!” — Sarah Beth Durst, award-winning author of The Queens of Renthia series





Stuart Turton

The 7 1½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Sourcebooks Landmark, September 18, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
One of Stylist Magazine's 20 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Harper's Bazaar's 10 Must-Read Books of 2018
One of Marie Claire, Australia's 10 Books You Absolutely Have to Read in 2018


The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
 There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin...

***

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others...

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.





Sherri Cook Woosley

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

2018 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
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 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4


The 8th year of the The Qwillery's Debut Author Challenge began on January 1, 2018. Here are the 8 debuts being published in September and October that I am most looking forward to.


Shaun Barger

Mage Against the Machine
Saga Press, October 9, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
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?





Hester Fox

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

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
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…





Victor Godinez

The First Protectors
Talos, October 23, 2018
Trade Paperback an eBook, 288 page

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
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.





S.L. Huang

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

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
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.





Derek Künsken

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

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
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.





Wayétu Moore

She Would Be King
Graywolf Press, September 11, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 312 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight at will, just as his mother could. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

Moore’s intermingling of history and magical realism finds voice not just in these three characters but also in the fleeting spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom. “If she was not a woman,” the wind says of Gbessa, “she would be king.” In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.





Rena Rossner

The Sisters of Winter Wood
Redhook, September 25, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner’s debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true…and could save them all.

“Mixes fairy tale, poetry, history, and heart to create an enchanting and mesmerizing tale of sisterly love. I adored this book!” — Sarah Beth Durst, award-winning author of The Queens of Renthia series





Sherri Cook Woosley

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

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4
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.

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



2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts



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

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




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Cover Art by Argh! Nottingham




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August Debuts
Jacket photo of woman by Karan Kapoor/Getty Images;
Jacket typography by Doctor Letters;
Jacket design by Steve Meditz

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

Interview with Lauren C. Teffeau, author of Implanted


Please welcome Lauren C. Teffeau to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Implanted was published on August 7th by Angry Robot.



Interview with Lauren C. Teffeau, author of Implanted




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

LCT:  A horrible fantasy novel in my early teens. It was full of wish fulfillment and the worldbuilding was illogical at best, nonexistent at worst. I’m happy to say I’ve improved dramatically since then.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

LCT:  I’m a plotter, though how strict I am depends on the project. I want to ensure even when I have the entire story worked out in my head that there is some space for the unexpected, for the story elements to breathe, and in some instances surprise me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

LCT:  In the past year, I’d say it’s been the difficulty in tuning out the noise of the larger world. I have lots of projects I’d like to work on or revisit, but it’s been harder than usual for me to quiet my mind to focus for long periods.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

LCT:  I took a screenwriting class in college. I was a bit of a film buff and wanted to see how things worked on the other side of the camera, so to speak. The emphasis on structure, dialogue, and action have been extremely formative and have provided the backbone to just about everything I’ve done since.



TQDescribe Implanted using only 5 words.

LCT:  Cyberpunk, adventure, gadgetry, couriers, and communication



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

LCT:  There’s a romantic subplot that I’m rather proud of.



TQWhat inspired you to write Implanted? What appeals to you about writing Cyberpunk?

LCT:  I’ve always enjoyed cyberpunk as a genre, but while those stories made me think, they didn’t necessarily make me feel welcome. I wanted to write something that wasn’t as emotionally sterile as other entries in the cyberpunk genre but still present an interesting examination of technology and where it’s taking us.



TQWhat is Cyberpunk and in your opinion what elements are essential to a Cyberpunk story?

LCT:  Cool tech, some sort of mystery (often originating in the corporate or government sectors of society), and some implicit or explicit commentary on technology and humanity’s relationship to it.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Implanted?

LCT:  Lots in bits and pieces over the years. I researched art nouveau and sustainability practices to get a better handle on the architecture of my domed city. I took a look at cybersecurity practices. I also included a lot of worldbuilding assumptions that can be mapped back to my social science background in information science, data curation, and mass communication as a graduate student and later on as a university researcher. I also never turn down the opportunity to consume the latest espionage thriller, no matter what the medium.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Implanted.

LCT:  The cover was created in consultation with Angry Robot’s Marc Gascoigne and the rest of the graphics team at Argh! Nottingham. I think cyberpunk as a genre is particularly hard to represent well on covers given the abstract nature of the concepts. In the case of Implanted, we wanted something captivating and landed on the human eye (that hopefully readers can’t stop looking at) and hint at some of the gadgetry you’ll find in the book thanks to the eye’s digital overlay. Combined with a bold and compelling title font, I hope it not only signals the cyberpunk genre to readers but that it's an exciting read as well.



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

LCT:  My main character Emery was easily the hardest. She valiantly fought me over the course of successive drafts. Sometimes I had trouble uncovering her motivations or pinning down her voice, but I eventually brought her to heel. I am the author after all. One of the easiest and (most enjoyable) character to write was Emery’s handler Tahir. He seems like he’s bit stuck-up and by-the-book but underneath his prickly exterior, he's a big softy.



TQDoes Implanted touch on any social issues?

LCT:  Besides technology and sustainability, I also delve quite a bit into inequality. Not simply in terms of who has money and who doesn’t, but what that money can buy—in particular neural implants and access to the network they're connected to that dictate just about everything in the domed city.



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

LCT:  Why blood as a data transmission vehicle? Well, for starters, recent research shows that tons of information can be encoded in DNA (frex: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/dna-could-store-all-worlds-data-one-room). So it seemed like using blood could be a practical solution in a world where information networks can’t be trusted. It was also a way to inject something fundamentally human into a high-tech future.



TQGive us your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Implanted.

LCT:

Rik simply lets the silence build, the connection between us alive with feeling. Synching can be surprisingly intimate, depending on how a user customizes their implant settings. The length of delay between thought and message. Whether or not nonverbals should be broadcasted. The priority of the interaction over other tasks and contacts. We’ve become so attuned to one another over the years, now our connection practically vibrates with what’s left unsaid. My doubts, his certainty, yes, but also a desire for more – a strange sort of friction as we run up against the limitations of our current configuration, like a snail that’s outgrown its shell.



TQWhat's next?

LCT:  I’m hard at work on a few sekrit projects, which may or may not include a sequel to Implanted. My website laurencteffeau.com is the best way to stay up-to-date with what’s going on with me.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

LCT:  It was my pleasure!





Implanted
Angry Robot, August 7, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Lauren C. Teffeau, author of Implanted
The data stored in her blood can save a city on the brink… or destroy it, in this gripping cyberpunk thriller

When college student Emery Driscoll is blackmailed into being a courier for a clandestine organisation, she’s cut off from the neural implant community which binds the domed city of New Worth together. Her new masters exploit her rare condition which allows her to carry encoded data in her blood, and train her to transport secrets throughout the troubled city. New Worth is on the brink of Emergence – freedom from the dome – but not everyone wants to leave. Then a data drop goes bad, and Emery is caught between factions: those who want her blood, and those who just want her dead.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Under the Dome | Blood Courier | Disconnected | Bright Future ]





About Lauren

Interview with Lauren C. Teffeau, author of Implanted
Photo courtesy of Kim Jew
Photography Studios
Lauren C. Teffeau lives and dreams in the southwestern United States. When she was younger, she poked around in the back of wardrobes, tried to walk through mirrors, and always kept an eye out for secret passages, fairy rings, and messages from aliens. Now, she writes to cope with her ordinary existence. Implanted is her first novel.




Website  ~  Twitter @teffeau



Interview with Jay Schiffman, author of Game of the Gods


Please welcome Jay Schiffman to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Game of the Gods was published on July 10th by Tor Books.



Interview with Jay Schiffman, author of Game of the Gods




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

Jay:  It was a fourth-grade poem about “progress.” I decided to write about farms and cities. I have it memorized, so here it goes:

Everything’s always moving.
There’s no time to stop.
No bench to sit on.
No one to grow crop.

Not a field, nor a meadow.
Not a tractor, just a car.
Everything’s always moving.
But we’re not going too far.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jay:  83.67% pantser, 10.91% plotter, 5.42% unknown.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jay:  In terms of the logistics of writing, time and place are important to me. I can be very finicky about the setting. Generally speaking, I like to write in the morning with a cup of coffee at my desk. I’m a creature of habit, so if you make me start writing in the afternoon, coming down from a caffeine high, sitting uncomfortably in a noisy restaurant, I probably won’t be productive.

In terms of the mechanics of writing, the biggest challenge is writing about things we all do every day. I have the literary luxury of rarely having to write a lot about characters washing their faces or eating toast, but sometimes it comes up even in a sci-fi action adventure like mine. The key is to avoid being cliché, while also conveying the truisms that underlie the most mundane aspects of life.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jay:  I read a lot of science fiction, see a lot of science fiction movies, and watch a lot of science fiction television. So, obviously whatever is going on in science fiction, I’m influenced by it. But I am also a huge politics junkie. I am passionate about the current state of American politics—particularly the lack of truth, fact-based reasoning, and meaningful political discourse—and this has greatly influenced Game of the Gods. But even more importantly, it is strongly impacting what I want to write about next.



TQDescribe Game of the Gods with only 5 words.

JayA man fights for his family. (Sorry, six words, but I’m not great at math and writing is all about breaking rules).



TQTell us something about Game of the Gods that is not found in the book description.

JayGame of the Gods is a story about a flawed hero, Max Cone. His flaws are many, but one of his more interesting flaws is that he acts as though he’s completely detached, completely above it all. Max claims he abhors all of the trappings of power, including awards and titles, yet he wraps himself in them. Max’s identity is built on a set of rigid formalities—he’s a revered military Commander, an esteemed Judge, a leader who everyone believes is a man of great character. He is boxed-in not just by what others think, but what he believes they need him to be. But when his family is taken from him, these layers of detachment, duty, and convention slowly start to peel away and he begins to understand his true self.



TQWhat inspired you to write Game of the Gods? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Jay:  I grew up loving Kurt Vonnegut and reading everything he ever wrote. I also read all the great dystopian novelists—Huxley, Bradbury, Orwell to name a few. I didn’t necessarily start out writing Game of the Gods thinking it would be science fiction. But early on in the process, I realized I was writing in this rich tradition, and I came to understand that science fiction is the perfect vehicle for telling an action adventure that touches on big political issues. I mostly wanted to entertain people with a fast-moving plot with lots of twists and turns and political intrigue. Clearly, politics and the idea of the hero against the world were huge influences for me. But at the same time, I grew up reading science fiction novels and watching Steven Spielberg movies that were just fun. The “fun” part of sci-fi was a huge influence as well.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Game of the Gods?

Jay:  One of the characters in my novel is a mathematical genius. I am not. Truth be told, calculus was an enormous struggle for me, and although my graduate studies required me to take statistics, game theory, and some calculus, I remembered very little of it. So, I wanted to make sure I understood the mathematical concepts that were addressed in the book—irrational numbers, pi, infinite numbers, etc. This same character also explains concepts relating to time and space, and I similarly had to do research on the scientific underpinning of those concepts. I didn’t read Einstein’s Theory of Relativity—it was more “Space & Time for Dummies”—but it did require me to hurt my brain a little.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Game of the Gods.

Jay:  The cover is a gloved hand reaching up to the heavens. It is an insignia that the leader of the Nation of Yerusalom, the Holy Father, used. It represents the idea of humankind reaching for the heavens.



TQIn Game of the Gods who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jay:  Two of the most important characters in the book are the Holy Father, the religious and political leader of the Nation of Yerusalom, and Max Cone, a former military commander and High Judge in the Federacy. The Holy Father was the easiest to write while Max, the narrator and central figure in the story, was the hardest.

The Holy Father is a conniving, manipulative character whose intentions are hard to discern. But he articulates a clear and consistent view of the world. Although I purposefully wanted his motivations to be unclear to the reader, I also wanted him to speak with a singularly coherent and uniform voice. It was easy to write this character, because he was extremely disciplined and guarded in what he said to others.

To the contrary, Max, who narrates in the first person, freely shares his everchanging motivations with the reader. His views of the world are in flux and this presented a challenge for me. I wanted Max’s internal confusion and the instability in his beliefs to come through to the reader. This was at times challenging because I needed to balance Max’s core qualities with how he was adapting to new circumstances.



TQDoes Game of the Gods touch on any social issues?

JayGame of the Gods touches on a number of political and social issues, but one that I hope the reader thinks deeply about is the importance of family in comparison to the importance of religion, political affiliation, and other larger transcendent relationships. This theme permeates the book, and many of the characters have strong views on the role of family versus the role of larger institutions like nations or religions. There is no right answer to this polemic, but it’s one that I hope the reader considers.



TQWhich question about Game of the Gods do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Jay:

Q: Do you wish you did something different in terms of how you wrote Game of the Gods?

A: I am not the kind of person to generally look backwards, but I wish I had read Margaret Atwood’s 2017 introduction to The Handmaid’s Tale before I started writing Game of the Gods. I only read this new introduction recently. In it, Atwood describes a set of rules she created to guide her through the writing process. I wish I had made a similar set of rules. I have already started drafting a set of rules like this and will use it for my next novel.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Game of the Gods.

Jay:

“Trust comes slowly to most—especially those who have perfected the art of judgment.”
                                --The Holy Father to Judge Max Cone


“To win the Game of the Gods, men only need to know one thing. Gods need men more than men need gods.”
                                --Anther Vrig, Chancellor, National Freedom Force



TQWhat's next?

Jay:  I have a well-developed sequel in my mind, but at the same time, I am very interested on working on a new idea I have about gangs, religion, and politics in near future America. I am truly torn about which to write next, but I’m sure I will decide soon.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Game of the Gods
Tor Books, July 10, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Jay Schiffman, author of Game of the Gods
"The dystopian novel is alive and well in the blisteringly effective Game of the Gods. Jay Schiffman breathes life into a moribund genre and ends up crafting a sly, shrewd and stunning take on a darkly depraved future that is every bit the equal of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and the Divergent series. Schiffman's striking vision serves up a cloud-riddled tomorrow featuring just enough silver linings to provide hope to an otherwise bleak landscape. A must read for fans of classics like Judge Dredd and Doc Savage." --Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of the Caitlin Strong series

Jay Schiffman's Game of the Gods is a debut sci-fi/fantasy thriller of political intrigue and Speilberg-worthy action sequences in the vein of Pierce Brown's Red Rising.

Max Cone wants to be an ordinary citizen of the Federacy and leave war and politics behind. He wants the leaders of the world to leave him alone. But he’s too good a military commander, and too powerful a judge, to be left alone. War breaks out, and Max becomes the ultimate prize for the nation that can convince him to fight again.

When one leader gives the Judge a powerful device that predicts the future, the Judge doesn’t want to believe its chilling prophecy: The world will soon end, and he’s to blame. But bad things start to happen. His wife and children are taken. His friends are falsely imprisoned. His closest allies are killed. Worst of all, the world descends into a cataclysmic global war.

In order to find his family, free his friends, and save the world, the Judge must become a lethal killer willing to destroy anyone who stands in his way. He leads a ragtag band of warriors—a 13-year old girl with special powers, a mathematical genius, a religious zealot blinded by faith, and a former revolutionary turned drug addict. Together, they are the only hope of saving the world.





About Jay

Interview with Jay Schiffman, author of Game of the Gods
Photo by Abbie Sophis
Jay grew up in an unremarkable New York City suburb playing basketball, watching Steven Spielberg movies, and reading everything that Kurt Vonnegut ever wrote. As a kid, it was obvious what Jay’s two main passions were—writing and arguing. So, eventually, he would become a lawyer.

Jay went to the University of Michigan where he studied English and Political Science. After that, Jay received a law degree and Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University. He wrote his dissertation on competing theories of tolerance in American law and politics. He taught at NYU, published academic papers, and was a Bradley Fellow in American Government. Jay found the academic life a little too academic and so he committed himself to practicing law.

As an attorney, Jay worked on a wide variety of issues. He started as a Law Clerk to a United States Judge before joining his first firm. As a practicing attorney, Jay worked on civil rights, children’s issues, commercial litigation, constitutional law, criminal law, and federal death penalty cases. Towards the end of his legal career, he spent a lot of time visiting prisoners in detention centers. Jay worked many hours with individuals accused of murder and awaiting death penalty trials. In the confined spaces of these detention centers, he learned two important things—there’s a lot of humanity in people who do inhumane things and never take for granted the fact that you get to leave.

When his first daughter was born, Jay decided to leave law and start his first business, an educational learning company for children. A few years later, he sold that company to a large private equity firm. Jay had caught the entrepreneurial bug. Since founding his first company, Jay has been involved in a number of successful businesses in the digital, educational, technology, and consumer goods spaces.

Website  ~  Twitter @JaySchiffman  ~  Facebook

Interview with Rich Larson, author of Annex



Please welcome Rich Larson to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Annex was published on July 24th by Orbit.



Interview with Rich Larson, author of Annex




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

Rich:  Glad to be here. Before I could actually read or write, I would sometimes get my older sisters to transcribe the stories I liked to tell them. The earliest one I can remember involved pyramids, hot air balloons, sword fights, gun fights, King Tut and Spider-Man.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rich:  I write by the seat of my pants, which is fine for short stories but potentially disastrous for novels.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rich:  I think the most challenging thing for me is actually sitting down and getting the words out. It's very easy to procrastinate without a boss or an office. I'm procrastinating right now, actually, by answering these interview questions.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Rich:  Lots of stuff. A few authors include Kenneth Oppel, Megan Whalen Turner, K.A. Applegate and William Nicholson. A few specific works include Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and Feed by M.T. Anderson.



TQDescribe Annex with only 5 words.

Rich:  Kids fighting aliens -- darker Animorphs.



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

Rich:  It's actually pretty good.



TQWhat inspired you to write Annex? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Rich:  The aesthetic of the ruined city and floating biomechanical pods was something that came to me while I was high around Christmas time several years ago. The character of Violet was from an old unfinished post-apocalyptic short story with parasitic zombies. Those two elements both went into a short story called "Mother Mother," which never saw publication and eventually spun out into Annex, which is more or less a love letter to the books I loved as a kid, including Animorphs, The Thief Lord, Shade's Children, Coraline and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I write science fiction because it lets me be extremely creative and because I've always liked wondering about the future. I feel like it can do anything literary fiction can do, but also do it on the Moon, which is much better.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Annex?

Rich:  Not a whole lot of research was required for the setting, since it's a fictional amalgamation of a couple different cities I've lived in. For the characters, details about Violet's transition came from reading people's personal stories and anecdotes on Reddit, whereas Bo's memories of Niger were basically my own. I did have to get my dad to check my Hausa spelling.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Annex.

Rich:  Gregory Manchess did the cover, and it looks good as hell. The texture really pops in real life.



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

Rich:  I'd say Bo was easiest, because his motivation is very simple: he wants to rescue his sister. Hardest was Violet, and I already know there are some things I'll do better in the next book.



TQDoes Annex touch on any social issues?

RichAnnex touches on issues that to me are personal -- outsiderhood, family, loneliness -- but might bleed into the social as well.



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

Rich:  I wish someone would ask me to autograph it. I will. I'll totally autograph it.



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

Rich:  This is from a conversation between Violet and one of the invaders in their virtual reality:

"If you were adrift in the ocean with no home to return to, and you found the only island in that ocean that you could make into a home, what would you do?" her not-mom asked, voice grating. "If there were animals on the island, simple apes with simple tools, what would you do? Would you keep sailing and sailing until you were dead?"

Violet paused. Thought about it. "No," she said. "But when an ape bashed my head in with a rock, I'd know I had it coming."



TQWhat's next?

Rich:  I'm supposed to turn in the sequel to Annex this October -- it's going very slowly and painfully right now -- and at the end of October my debut short story collection Tomorrow Factory will be coming out from Talos Press. Before then, in terms of short stories, I'll have a near-future tragedy in Analog and a West African military cyberpunk type story in Tor.com.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rich:  Thanks for having me! If anyone is interested in finding free stories / supporting my work, drop by patreon.com/richlarson.





Annex
The Violet Wars 1
Orbit, July 24, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Rich Larson, author of Annex
In Rich Larson’s astonishing debut Annex, two young kids are the only ones who can fight off the alien invasion.

“A thrilling and imaginative entry into the alien invasion genre with two fierce and desperate young protagonists you won’t be able to stop rooting for.”–Fonda Lee, Nebula-nominated author of Jade City

When the aliens invade, all seems lost. The world as they know it is destroyed. Their friends are kidnapped. Their families are changed.

But with no adults left to run things, young trans-girl Violet and her new friend Bo realize that they are free to do whatever they want to to do and be whoever they want to be.

Except the invaders won’t leave them alone for long…

This thrilling debut by one of the most acclaimed short form writers in science fiction tells the story of two young outsiders who must find a way to fight back against the aliens who have taken over their city.





About Rich

Rich Larson was born in Galmi, Niger, has studied in Rhode Island and worked in the south of Spain, and now lives in Ottawa, Canada. Since he began writing in 2011, he’s sold over a hundred stories, the majority of them speculative fiction published in magazines like Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. His work appears in numerous Year’s Best anthologies and has been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, Polish, French and Italian.

Annex, his debut novel and first book of The Violet Wars trilogy, comes out in July 2018 from Orbit Books. Tomorrow Factory, his debut collection, follows in October 2018 from Talos Press. Besides writing, he enjoys travelling, learning languages, playing soccer, watching basketball, shooting pool, and dancing salsa and kizomba.

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Coming in October

The Tomorrow Factory: Collected Fiction
Talos, October 16, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Rich Larson, author of Annex
Twenty-three stories from one of speculative fiction’s up-and-coming stars, Pushcart and Journey Prize-nominated author Rich Larson.

Welcome to the Tomorrow Factory.

On your left, post-human hedonists on a distant space station bring diseases back in fashion, two scavengers find a super-powered parasite under the waves of Sunk Seattle, and a terminally-ill chemist orchestrates an asteroid prison break.

On your right, an alien optometrist spins illusions for irradiated survivors of the apocalypse, a high-tech grifter meets his match in near-future Thailand, and two teens use a blackmarket personality mod to get into the year’s wickedest, wildest party.

This collection of published and original fiction by award-winning writer Rich Larson will bring you from a Bujumbura cyberpunk junkyard to the icy depths of Europa, from the slick streets of future-noir Chicago to a tropical island of sapient robots. You'll explore a mysterious ghost ship in deep space, meet an android learning to dream, and fend off predatory alien fungi on a combat mission gone wrong.

Twenty-three futures, ranging from grimy cyberpunk to far-flung space opera, are waiting to blow you away.

So step inside the Tomorrow Factory, and mind your head.
2018 Debut Author Challenge - September DebutsThe 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To - Part 4Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August DebutsReview: Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July WinnerInterview with Sam Hawke, author of City of LiesInterview with Lauren C. Teffeau, author of ImplantedInterview with Jay Schiffman, author of Game of the GodsInterview with Rich Larson, author of Annex

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