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Interview with Sue Burke, author of Semiosis


Please welcome Sue Burke to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Semiosis is published on February 6th by Tor Books.

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



Interview with Sue Burke, author of Semiosis




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

Sue:  Thank you for inviting me. When I was in grade school, I decided I would write a novel. I never finished it, and as I recall it was a rather derivative ghost story, but I also never forgot the goal. I wanted to be a writer from the moment I knew what writing was — before I even learned to write. That’s why I eventually became a journalist. I got paid to write every day!



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sue:  Hybrid. I start a piece knowing how it ends, but not always much more. Then I have to figure out the way to get there, creating the roadmap and landscape as I go along. When I finally arrive, I go back and try to plot the best route.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sue:  The initial composition. I don’t even start with first drafts. I write “zero” drafts, early versions that are all exploration and experiment to create that roadmap, with a few side trips that go nowhere in the process but that were necessary to take. These zero drafts don’t count, so they don’t merit a number, which encourages me to take chances and relax. Out of that glorious mess, I extract a first draft.



TQWhat did you find (other than length) to be the biggest difference in writing short stories versus writing a novel? How does being an editor impact your own writing?

Sue:  Novels can contain bigger, more complex ideas than short stories, the way the art for a mural can be more complex than the art for a postage stamp. I think that’s one way to evaluate an idea to decide if, say, your short story is really an epic trilogy: what would it look like as a painting? How big would that painting be?

Being an editor has given me more patience because I view writing as a process, not an end. Nothing starts out perfect — and anything can be improved. Again, to think of it as art, the elements of a piece often need to be rearranged and re-imagined before the final work can be completed. I’ve seen how many studies and sketches Pablo Picasso made before he painted Guernica. Even geniuses don’t expect to get it right the first time — and I can learn from how hard they work.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sue:  I started out as a journalist, which taught me to be aware of the reader and to write to achieve a purpose for the reader. It also gave me a chance to learn a lot about the world because I covered everything from school board meetings to llama ranches (I’ve been kissed on the cheek by a llama!) to murder trials. I discovered that no matter what I expect, reality holds surprises and demands an open mind.

As far as writing style, one sentence made a big difference. It’s from the book Un Pueblecito: Riofrío de Ávila by a Spanish writer named Azorín, considered a master stylist. I read it in Spanish class in college. It says (my translation): “It’s not enough to be understandable; it’s necessary to aspire to be unable to be misunderstood.” He goes on to suggest some ways to do that, such as treating things one after another in simple, logical, often chronological order. Clarity, Azorín thought, was “the only excusable affectation” in writing. I still have that book decades later.



TQDescribe Semiosis in 140 characters or less.

Sue:  Human colonists struggle to survive on an alien world, and they discover an unexpected dominant species anxiously awaiting them.



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

Sue:  The fippokats, a deceptively cute species suitable for pets, are based on my sister-in-law’s imaginary animal from childhood, which she graciously lent me to use and abuse. Thanks, Kathy!



TQWhat inspired you to write Semiosis? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular a novel about first contact with aliens?

Sue:  A long time ago, two of my houseplants attacked other plants, using them as things to climb on or to sink roots into and suck dry. After some research, I learned that plants are actually fierce: “at war with each other,” as one botanist put it. Science fiction gives me the chance to ask what if: what if plants were fierce — and intelligent? How could we encounter intelligent plants, and what could go wrong? How would it change us?

These kinds of questions illustrate what I see as the big difference between science fiction and “literary” fiction. All stories are about change, but where does the change come from? Literary fiction tends to focus on change arising from within individuals. Science fiction considers how changes in the material world affect individuals and societies, and those are the kinds of questions I’m more interested in. What if we’re not alone? What if we’re not the dominant species?



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Semiosis?

Sue:  A lot. The plants in Semiosis don’t do anything Earth plants can’t — except think, which as far as we know now they don’t do. Botanists, foresters, and other people intimately involved with plants are continuously impressed by the abilities that plants have and how actively they’re involved with their surroundings. I have a shelf of books that I read and consulted.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Semiosis.

Sue:  The cover uses a photo by Nigel Cattlin and a design by Jamie Stafford-Hill. The tendril is of an Earth plant, a sundew, which is carnivorous. And hungry.



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

Sue:  The easiest was Lucille, who was loosely based on someone I know who has boundless energy, determination, and optimism. The hardest was Higgins because I cried when I wrote some of those scenes.



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

Sue:  The colonists must constantly cope with issues of good governance. My years covering government as a journalist convinced me of its importance. Who leads? How do leaders make decisions? Who has a voice in those decisions, and who is affected? How can leaders be held responsible for their decisions? I think what’s happening now in Washington, DC, shows how leadership has social consequences.



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

Sue:  Do I trust Stevland? No. I wish I did, but I don’t. He’s too desperate.



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

Sue:  

“... like the good times you can’t quite recall but surely they happened sometime, maybe tomorrow, you just have to wait and see.”

“We can begin with simple counting: 0, 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100.”



TQWhat's next?

Sue:  I’ve written a sequel, and we’ll see if Tor is interested. In the mean time, I’m writing short stories, and translating Spanish science fiction authors into English. Most recently, Clarkesworld published my short story “Who Won the Battle of Arsia Mons?” in November 2017, and Asimov’s will publish “Life From the Sky” in May/June 2018. My translations include the anthology Spanish Women of Wonder, published by Palabaristas in 2017.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sue:  Thank you for having me!





Semiosis
Tor Books, February 6, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Sue Burke, author of Semiosis
Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.

SyFy Wire—9 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels to Read in February
The Verge—18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Read in February
Unbound Worlds—Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of February 2018
Kirkus—The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in February

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches...and waits...

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.





About Sue

Interview with Sue Burke, author of Semiosis
Jerry Finn
SUE BURKE spent many years working as a reporter and editor for a variety of newspapers and magazines. She is a Clarion workshop alumnus, and she has published more than 30 short stories. Burke also worked extensively as a literary translator, and while living in Madrid, Spain, she headed the long-running Madrid Writer’s Critique Group. Her translations include the fantasy novel Prodigies by Angélica Gorodischer, the bilingual science fiction anthology Castles in Spain / Castillos en el aire, and the script for the science fiction movie Mindgate.





Website  ~  Twitter @SueBurkeSpain


2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts


There are 12 debut novels for February.

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

The February 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 February cover for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on February 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 February 2018. The list is correct as of the day posted.




Robert Ashcroft

The Megarothke
Cinestate, February 27, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Blade Runner meets Westworld via Resident Evil in this shocking, gripping debut sci-fi/horror novel infused with Nietzschean philosophy, exploring humanity's darkest desire for transcendence.

Seven years after the limitless depths of the Hollow War decimated Earth, leaving only 50,000 humans to fight for survival in Los Angeles, Theo Abrams is sent on a mission to destroy the enigmatic being that initiated this apocalypse, confronting the fact that humanity's yearning to transcend reality caused its downfall . . .

Robert Ashcroft, trained as cryptologic linguist, has worked as a State Department contractor and was recently mobilized to serve abroad with the US Army Reserve.





Sue Burke

Semiosis
Tor Books, February 6, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches...and waits...

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.





Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater
Grove Press, February 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 240 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Ada has always been unusual. As an infant in southern Nigeria, she is a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents successfully prayed her into existence, but something must have gone awry, as the young Ada becomes a troubled child, prone to violent fits of anger and grief.

But Ada turns out to be more than just volatile. Born “with one foot on the other side,” she begins to develop separate selves. When Ada travels to America for college, a traumatic event crystallizes the selves into something more powerful. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these alters—now protective, now hedonistic—move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dangerous direction.

Written with stylistic brilliance and based in the author’s realities, this raw and extraordinary debut explores the metaphysics of identity and being, plunging the reader into the mysteries of self. Unsettling, heart-wrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.





Jasmine Gower

Moonshine
Angry Robot, February 6, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Daisy’s starting a new job and stylish city life, but mage-hunters out for her dark magic threaten to destroy her vogue image.

In the flourishing metropolis of Soot City (a warped version of 1920s Chicago), progressive ideals reign and the old ways of magic and liquid mana are forbidden. Daisy Dell is a Modern Girl – stylish, educated and independent – keen to establish herself in the city but reluctant to give up the taboo magic inherited from her grandmother.

Her new job takes her to unexpected places, and she gets more attention than she had hoped for. When bounty hunters start combing the city for magicians, Daisy must decide whether to stay with her new employer – even if it means revealing the grim source of her occult powers.

File Under: Fantasy [ A Modern Girl in Soot City | Bootleg Magic | Shady Dealings | Revealing her Powers ]





Les Johnson

Mission to Methone
Baen, February 6, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
     (Solo Debut)

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
The year is 2065 and an accidental encounter in space leads to the discovery that we are not alone in the universe—and that our continued existence as a species may be in jeopardy.

Chris Holt, working in his office at the Space Resources Corporation, discovers that one of the asteroids he is surveying for mining is actually not an asteroid at all but a derelict spaceship. The word gets out and soon the world's powers are competing to explore and claim for themselves the secrets that it holds.

What they don't know is that across the galaxy, a war has been underway for millennia. A war between alien civilizations that have very different ideas about what should be done about emerging spacefaring civilizations like our own. The artificial intelligence resident in the derelict Holt discovered has been in our solar system since before the dawn of human civilization, watching, waiting and keeping quiet lest the interstellar war return and wipe out the sentient race that now resides there—humanity.

And that war might soon be again coming to our front door. The truth can only be discovered on Methone, a tiny, egg-shaped moon of the planet Saturn. Who will get there first? And will it be in time?





Tom Miller

The Philosopher's Flight
Simon & Schuster, February 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. “Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell.” (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.





Tina LeCount Myers

The Song of All
The Legacy of the Heavens 1
Night Shade Books, February 20, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 452 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
A former warrior caught between gods and priests must fight for the survival of his family in this dark epic fantasy debut, set in a harsh arctic world inspired by Scandinavian indigenous cultures.

On the forbidding fringes of the tundra, where years are marked by seasons of snow, humans war with immortals in the name of their shared gods. Irjan, a human warrior, is ruthless and lethal, a legend among the Brethren of Hunters. But even legends grow tired and disillusioned.

Scarred and weary of bloodshed, Irjan turns his back on his oath and his calling to hide away and live a peaceful life as a farmer, husband, and father. But his past is not so easily left behind. When an ambitious village priest conspires with the vengeful comrades Irjan has forsaken, the fragile peace in the Northlands of Davvieana is at stake.

His bloody past revealed, Irjan’s present unravels as he faces an ultimatum: return to hunt the immortals or lose his child. But with his son’s life hanging in the balance, as Irjan follows the tracks through the dark and desolate snow-covered forests, it is not death he searches for, but life.





David Pedreira

Gunpowder Moon
Harper Voyager, February 13, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
“Interesting quirks and divided loyalties flesh out this first novel in which sf and mystery intersect in a well-crafted plot...Pedreira’s science thriller powerfully highlights the human politics and economics from the seemingly desolate expanse of the moon. It will attract readers who enjoyed Andy Weir’s lunar crime caper Artemis.” -- Library Journal, starred review

A realistic and chilling vision of life on the Moon, where dust kills as easily as the vacuum of space…but murder is even quicker—a fast-paced, cinematic science fiction thriller, this debut novel combines the inventiveness of The Martian, the intrigue of The Expanse, and the thrills of Red Rising.

The Moon smells like gunpowder. Every lunar walker since Apollo 11 has noticed it: a burnt-metal scent that reminds them of war. Caden Dechert, the chief of the U.S. mining operation on the edge of the Sea of Serenity, thinks the smell is just a trick of the mind—a reminder of his harrowing days as a Marine in the war-torn Middle East back on Earth.

It’s 2072, and lunar helium-3 mining is powering the fusion reactors that are bringing Earth back from environmental disaster. But competing for the richest prize in the history of the world has destroyed the oldest rule in space: Safety for All. When a bomb kills one of Dechert’s diggers on Mare Serenitatis, the haunted veteran goes on the hunt to expose the culprit before more blood is spilled.

But as Dechert races to solve the first murder in the history of the Moon, he gets caught in the crosshairs of two global powers spoiling for a fight. Reluctant to be the match that lights this powder-keg, Dechert knows his life and those of his crew are meaningless to the politicians. Even worse, he knows the killer is still out there, hunting.

In his desperate attempts to save his crew and prevent the catastrophe he sees coming, the former Marine uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that, with one spark, can ignite a full lunar war, wipe out his team . . . and perhaps plunge the Earth back into darkness.





Kaethe Schwehn

The Rending and the Nest
Bloomsbury USA, February 20, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one's own story.

When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.

Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object--and other women of Zion follow suit--the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn't return, Mira must decide how much she's willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.

Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others--and within ourselves?





Roger Arthur Smith

Echoes
Baobob Press, February 27, 2018
Trade Paperback, 307 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Roger Arthur Smith’s spectacular debut, Echoes, asks, what happens when your fundamental nature is challenged, not by the many evils without, but by an unexpected awakening within?

It’s 1960 in Hawthorne, Nevada, a desert town so secluded that the U.S. Navy stores munitions nearby. While the Cold war lumbers on, the town’s gossip mills and marriage-eligible bachelors and bachelorettes play a game of cat and mouse, a pastime, that if nothing else, manages to while away the hours. Attorney Will Dubykky keeps a watchful eye over Hawthorne, and it comes as no surprise that his interest is piqued by the sudden appearance of a strange boy. Why is this boy disfigured? Why does he have difficulty speaking? Why can’t some people seem to see him? As one of the initiated, Dubykky has an inkling; the boy is evil, an echo sent to rectify the wrongs of an indulgent murderer. The echo’s mission? Tempt, trap and eliminate the human monster that spawned it. If all goes according to evil’s intent, the echo will die fulfilling its destiny. This fatal sequence has persisted as long as evil itself, but before the dark circle can be closed, riddles must be solved. In a town this small, who is capable of committing a string of heinous crimes undetected? And, when the time comes will this echo, more naïve and innocent than any echo Dubykky has ever encountered, fulfill its gruesome destiny? Echoes, is a wildly entertaining, gloriously absorbing exploration of humanity, evil, and the stark environs in which both exist.





Keith Thomas

The Clarity
Atria/Leopoldo & Co., February 20, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
For fans of Black Mirror and True Detective, a visceral high‑concept thriller about a psychologist who must protect the life of an eleven-year-old girl whose ability to remember past lives makes them both targets of a merciless killer.

Dr. Matilda Deacon is a psychologist researching how memories are made and stored when she meets a strange eleven-year-old girl named Ashanique. Ashanique claims to harbor the memories of the last soldier killed in World War I and Matilda is at first very interested but skeptical. However, when Ashanique starts talking about being chased by the Night Doctors—a term also used by an unstable patient who was later found dead—Matilda can’t deny that the girl might be telling the truth.

Matilda learns that Ashanique and her mother have been on the run their whole lives from a monstrous assassin named Rade. Rade is after a secret contained solely in memories and has left a bloody trail throughout the world in search of it. Matilda soon realizes Ashanique is in unimaginable danger and that her unique ability comes with a deadly price.

Fast-paced, suspenseful, and a chilling blend of science and danger, The Clarity is a compelling take on the possibilities of reincarnation and life after death.





Maria Vale

The Last Wolf
The Legend of All Wolves 1
Sourcebooks Casablanca, February 6, 2018
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.

If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die.
But if she stays…


Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…

Interview with Andrew Valencia, author of Lord of California


Please welcome Andrew Valencia to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Lord of California was published on January 25th by Ig Publishing in digital format. The audio version of the novel is out today from Blackstone Audio. Lord of California will be available in Trade Paperback on February 27, 2018.



Interview with Andrew Valencia, author of Lord of California




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

Andrew:  While I can remember writing small sketches and stories as far back as elementary school, I can't recall the plot of any particular story from that early stage in my development. I believe they were mostly influenced by the stories and TV shows I was interested in at the time. A lot of cartoon and sci-fi stuff, written in pen on note tablets I would borrow from my parents or grandparents. More often than not, though, I expended these stories in my head before they ever found their way onto paper. Growing up in the country with a lot of open space between us and the neighbors provided the ideal space for letting my daydreams run wild.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Andrew:  Hybrid. I usually have a general sense of where I'd like to take an idea by the time I sit down to begin a draft, but the process of working through the story on paper forces me to fill out the skeleton of the piece in greater detail.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Andrew:  Revising sentences. Nabokov used to say his pencils outlasted his erasers. If I didn't use a word processor most of the time, I'd probably be right there with him.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Andrew:  There's a lot I could say to answer this question, but I'll limit myself to two influences—one from my own experience and one from literature. The first comes from having spent the better part of a decade living abroad, primarily in East Asia and Central America. The second influence is James Joyce, himself an expert at writing about the home of his youth while spending his adult years in exile.



TQDescribe Lord of California in 140 characters or less.

Andrew:  A speculative literary novel about a family struggling to survive in a future where America has collapsed and California is its own country.



TQTell us something about Lord of California that is not found in the book description.

Andrew:  I've never seen it as “dystopian” in the traditional sense. Many readers and critics will latch on to the dystopian label because such categories can be helpful in understanding how to view a new piece of work, especially from a debut author. But there are distinct ways in which I deviate from the type of storytelling found in the works of Orwell, Huxley, Atwood, etc. Nearly all dystopian novels from Zamyatin onward have directed some sort of warning to readers about the political situation of the present day. And while there are definitely elements of the story that speak to the nightmare of contemporary politics in the US, much of the novel is also focused on the rebuilding that inevitably occurs following a monumental breakdown or rift in society. Or a rift in a family.



TQWhat inspired you to write Lord of California? What appeals to you about writing Alternative History?

Andrew:  In the summer of 2015 I was in a precarious place, unsure of my future prospects. I was staying at my mother's house in the Central Valley and spending a lot of time revisiting people and places from before I left. One day I sat down and started working through a rough outline of the book Lord of California would eventually become. I didn't really think of it as “alternative history” as much as it was just the story I wanted to tell at that point in my life.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Lord of California?

Andrew:  I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about moments in history where a society falls apart and transforms into something else over the course of a few generations. It happens all the time and we never call it “dystopian” or “post-apocalyptic”. But if you were growing up in the 80s in the Soviet Union and within a few short years you had to endure food shortages, Chernobyl, and the collapse of the only political system you ever knew, wouldn't you think you were living through some sort of apocalypse?



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Lord of California.

Andrew:  I like the cover more and more as time goes on. So much of Central California looks like that, though it could just as easily be a depiction of any rural setting the world over.



TQIn Lord of California who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

The easiest was probably Ellie's character because from the start I had a very clear notion of who she was and what her voice would be like. By contrast, the hardest character was Elliot, Jr. because it took me a long time to nail down his voice and the nature of his character.



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

Andrew:

Q: Would you like to see California break off and start its own country?

A: Within a few years of independence, that country would have nothing in common with the California I know except for its name. So no, I wouldn't.



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

Andrew
How do we even begin? How do we begin to build a home out of so many broken pieces?

I don't know. But we'll try our best.

That world you lost, the one that took my brother...I've tried to live up to all the good things you told me about it, and shut out the wicked things as you shut out your past. But I'm not a fresh start for anyone. I was never such pure clean clay.


TQWhat's next?

Andrew:  I'm working on revisions of a novel set in Panama during the aftermath of a tsunami.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Andrew:  Thank you for having me.





Lord of California
Ig Publishing, January 25, 2018
     eBook, 284 pages
Ig Publishing, February 27, 2018
     Trade Paperback, 284 pages

Interview with Andrew Valencia, author of Lord of California
“A remarkable debut. Valencia writes with a sinuous maturity, a boldness of vision far beyond his years. In Lord of California, this beyond-seeing is literal: wild, impressive, at times menacing invention about what a separatist California might look like begins to look downright prescient, and Valencia’s portraitist skill with his characters lifts them off the page, too.”―Ryan McIlvain, author of Elders

Set in a future where the United States has dissolved and California is its own independent republic, Lord of California follows the struggles of the Temple family as they work at running a farm on a nationalized land parcel in the central San Joaquin Valley. When the family patriarch, Elliot, dies, it’s revealed that he had been keeping five separate families, and in the aftermath of their discovery, his widows and children must come together to keep from losing all they have. But their livelihood is threatened when Elliot’s estranged son tries to blackmail them, unleashing a series of violent confrontations between different factions of the family.

A sparse family drama reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, combined with the intimate first-person narratives of Kazuo Ishiguro, Lord of California is a powerful debut novel.





About Andrew

Andrew Valencia was born in Fresno, California, and graduated with a BA in English from Stanford, where he was awarded a Levinthal Tutorial by the Creative Writing Program. He holds an MFA in fiction from the University of South Carolina. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Silk Road Review, the Ploughshares blog, Day One, The Southern Pacific Review, The Fat City Review, Crack the Spine, and other publications.

Twitter @AValenciaWrites

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 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 February 3, 2018.


Vote for your favorite January 2018 Debut Cover!
 
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2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover art by Wayne Haag
Jacket design by Lesley Worrell, with logo design by Tim Daniel




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover illustration by Kevin Peterson
Cover design by Anthony Morais




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover design by Elizabeth Connor




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover design by Two Dollar Radio




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Art by Ian Leino
Design by Lauren Panepinto




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa
Cover photograph © David & Myrtille / Arcangel




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Jacket design and illustration by Michael Morris




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover design by Jason Snair




2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts

Interview with Rati Mehrotra, author of Markswoman


Please welcome Rati Mehrotra to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Markswoman is published on January 23d by Harper Voyager.

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



Interview with Rati Mehrotra, author of Markswoman




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

Rati:  A poem titled “A Pea in the Sea”, written when I was five years old. It was full of pathos. I wish I still had it, I could do with a good laugh.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rati:  A hybrid, I think. I’m a total pantser when it comes to short fiction. But if we’re talking books, then I need to know my ending. I may not know how to get there – which is why the middles are so scary – but I must know before I start how the book will end. Of course, a lot might change on the way. And I certainly don’t plan every chapter.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rati:  Getting the time to do it! As a working mom, it’s a bit of a struggle to find the right balance. I often write at night when everyone else is asleep.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Rati:  So many amazing writers. I was a voracious reader as a kid, and devoured every book I could get my hands on. My favorite writers include Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Neil Gaimam, Gene Wolfe, Patricia A. McKillip, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, and Jane Austen.

I have also been influenced by Indian mythology. I grew up hearing stories from the Indian epics, and they have seeped into my soul.



TQDescribe Markswoman in 140 characters or less.

Rati:  An order of magical-knife-wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in a blend of science fiction and epic fantasy.



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

Rati:  ‘Asiana’ is a play on ‘Asia’ of course; the world of Markswoman is a fictional, post-apocalyptic version of the real Asia. But the word (pronounced Aashiyana) also means ‘home’ in Urdu and Hindi. Not just any home, but a safe, secure place of shelter. It is this sense of safety and security my protagonist longs for. As, perhaps, we all do.



TQWhat inspired you to write Markswoman? What appeals to you about writing Epic Fantasy?

RatiMarkswoman just demanded to be written. An image of Kyra came to me one day, and would not get go until I put pen to paper. The world itself is inspired by my fascination with mythology, especially stories of the Goddess Kali, and my interest in post-apocalyptic literature..

I love writing (and reading!) epic fantasy because I can thoroughly immerse myself in it. It is both the ultimate escape and a test of creativity – can I build a world a reader will believe in and fall into?



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Markswoman?

Rati:  I read a lot about travel in the middles ages, the Silk Route, the geography and climate of Central Asia, and, of course, the myths of the Goddess Kali. It helps that I grew up reading such stories, and that I have spent time in both deserts and mountains in Asia.

I also researched daggers and martial arts. I’ve done both karate and Tai Chi, and that was really helpful in writing the fight scenes.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Markswoman.

Rati:  I love the cover of my book! It depicts a katari, a dagger forged from a rare alien metal that grants Markswomen powers of telepathy. I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting image to capture the heart of my story.



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

Rati:  The easiest character to write was Kyra, my protagonist. She came to me almost fully formed many years ago. She is far from perfect – she has a hot temper, and makes mistakes. But she’s loyal and tough, and loves her friends - qualities I admire.

The most difficult character to write was the villainous Tamsyn. She is far more complex than comes across on these pages, and some day I hope to share more of her story.



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

Rati:

“Rati, how long did it take you to write and publish this book?”

“Eight years, my friend, eight years.”

I think many new writers don’t realize just how patient and persevering you have be, if you want to be traditionally published.



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

Rati:  Both from Shirin Mam!

“Let the past be what it is. Let the future bring what it will. Stay in the present. Be aware of yourself and who you are. It is all that matters.”

“May you walk on water and pass through fire. May the blood that you shed nourish the soil and the bodies you strike feed the crows. May the katari protect your flesh and Kali protect your soul. And when your work is done, may the Ones take you with them to the stars for the last journey of your life.”



TQWhat's next?

Rati:  The sequel to Markswoman, which is due for publication in January 2019. While I have a completed draft, I expect to work on revisions and edits for much of this year.

Next on my agenda is a project rather close to my heart: a middle grade secondary world fantasy novel which I drafted a few years ago. I need to revise it extensively before my agent can send it out on submission.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rati:  Thanks for having me!





Markswoman
Asiana 1
Harper Voyager, January 23, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Rati Mehrotra, author of Markswoman
An order of magical-knife wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in this bewitching blend of science fiction and epic fantasy—the first entry in a debut duology that displays the inventiveness of the works of Sarah Beth Durst and Marie Lu.

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.

When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.

Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra—and for Asiana.

But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.





About Rati

Interview with Rati Mehrotra, author of Markswoman
Photo by Veronika Roux
Born and raised in India, Rati Mehrotra makes her home in Toronto, Canada, where she writes novels and short fiction and blogs at ratiwrites.com. Markswoman is her debut novel. Find her on Twitter @Rati_Mehrotra.








Interview with Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter


Please welcome Tyrell Johnson to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Wolves of Winter was published on January 2nd by Scribner.



Interview with Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter




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

Tyrell:  When I was in grade school, I wrote a five-page story about a farmer who loses his cow. In a twist no one saw coming, he finds the lost cow hiding at the top of a nearby tree.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Tyrell:  I’m probably something of a hybrid. I start with an idea, setting, or character; I’ll have vague notions of plot; and then I’ll move forward one sentence at a time. Every once in a while, I’ll write a rough outline of where I think things are headed, but it’s very vague, and I often don’t stick to it.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tyrell:  Right now it’s probably staying focused. I have a lot of things going on at the moment that keep drawing my attention away from the page and my time to be creative.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Tyrell:  Everything from books I’ve read, to movies I’ve watched, to family and friends. These things blend together with my experience and personality and preferences and somehow inform my writing. That’s a very vague answer! Sorry.



TQDescribe The Wolves of Winter in 140 characters or less.

Tyrell:  A young woman surviving in a post-apocalyptic Yukon meets a stranger with secrets of the past that will change her life forever.



TQTell us something about The Wolves of Winter that is not found in the book description.

Tyrell:  There are 27 instances of the F word in the novel.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Wolves of Winter? What appeals to you about writing Post-Apocalyptic fiction?

Tyrell:  I knew I wanted to write a post-apocalyptic novel because I like the genre. I like the questions it poses about humanity and about what life would be like if we didn’t have the luxuries we have today. I was also a new father at the time and wanted to use that experience and those emotions in the novel, which is why the father/daughter relationship is so prevalent. And, finally, before any of this, I had been writing fiction primarily with male protagonists. However, many of my readers’ favorite characters were the females in my stories. So my wife very kindly urged me to go write a book with a female as the protagonist. I gave it a try.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Wolves of Winter?

Tyrell:  I did research on the flora and fauna of the Yukon and looked at a lot of maps. I also watched many YouTube videos on things like how to build an igloo and how to gut a deer. I didn’t want to just read about these things, I wanted to watch them being done so I could more accurately describe them. I don’t recommend, however, eating a turkey sandwich while watching a deer being field dressed.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Wolves of Winter?

Tyrell:  The cover was done in part by Pete Garceau and in part by HarperCollins Germany. We had the basic layout and background, but knew it still needed something to give it that edge. Then we saw the German cover of the novel, in which they use the figure of a woman in the place of the “I” in “Winter.” We thought it was a fantastic idea, inserted the woman into our own backdrop, and the cover was born. And no, it doesn’t depict any specific scene from the novel.



TQIn The Wolves of Winter who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Tyrell:  I suppose I might say my main character was both the easiest and the hardest. I’ve spent the most time in her head, so really, I feel like I know her best and could write her voice the easiest. However, she was also the hardest because I’m a man writing from a woman’s perspective, and so there were a lot of things that I was very consciously trying to get right.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Wolves of Winter?

Tyrell:  I didn’t intend to focus on any one social issue, however, I think there are issues that are sort of innate in the post-apocalyptic genre. It forces us to take a hard look at our ruling powers, at the environment, and at what we put value on in our lives. This is one of the reasons I like the genre: hopefully there’s a fascinating story with relatable characters, but there’s also that subtext (dare I call it a warning?) of society falling apart.



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

Tyrell:  Was the dog in the novel based off your own dog?

Yes! He’s the only character that is actually based off a character in real life. My dog is just as energetic, just as curious, just as happy, just as quasi-annoying as the dog, Wolf, in the book.



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

Tyrell:  I’ve always been a little partial to my first sentence: “The trap was empty and the snow was bloody, which meant one of three things.” I hope that this immediately makes readers want to read, at the very least, the next sentence.



TQWhat's next?

Tyrell:  I’m working on a book two, though I can’t make any promises that it’ll see the light of day.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tyrell:  Thanks so much for having me!





The Wolves of Winter
Scribner, January 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter
A captivating tale of humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, of family and bonds of love forged when everything is lost, and of a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny. This debut novel is written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path.

Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter.

Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.

Simultaneously a heartbreakingly sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she is meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules, The Wolves of Winter is enveloping, propulsive, and poignant.





About Tyrell

Interview with Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter
© Josh Durias
Tyrell Johnson is a twenty-nine-year-old writer and editor who grew up in Bellingham, Washington. He received his MFA from the University of California, Riverside, where he studied fiction and poetry. An avid outdoorsman, he currently lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, northeast of Vancouver with his wife, two kids, and a Siberian husky. The Wolves of Winter is his first novel.



Website  ~  Twitter @tjohnso14  ~  Facebook

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts


2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts


There are 15 debut novels for January.

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

The January 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 January cover for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on January 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 January 2018 The list is correct as of the day posted.



Josiah Bancraft

Senlin Ascends
The Books of Babel 1
Orbit, January 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
(previously self-published)

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
The first book in the word-of-mouth phenomenon debut fantasy series about one man's dangerous journey through a labyrinthine world.

"One of my favorite books of all time" - Mark Lawrence

The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of luxury and menace, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he'll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassins, and the illusions of the Tower. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.

This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.

The Books of Babel
Senlin Ascends
Arm of the Sphinx





H. G. Bells

Sleep Over: An Oral History of the Apocalypse
Talos, January 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 376 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
For fans of the oral history genre phenomenon World War Z, an inventive new spin on the apocalypse featuring a worldwide plague of insomnia.

Remember what it’s like to go an entire night without sleep?

What if sleep didn’t come the following night? Or the night after? What might happen if you, your friends, your family, your coworkers, and the strangers you pass on the street, all slowly began to realize that rest might not ever come again?

How slowly might the world fall apart? How long would it take for a society without sleep to descend into chaos?

Sleep Over is a collection of waking nightmares, a scrapbook collection of haunting and poignant stories from those trapped in a world where the pillars of society are crumbling, and madness is slowly descending on a planet without rest.

Online vigilantism transforms social media into a blame game with deadly consequences.

A freelance journalist grapples with the ethics of turning in footage of mass suicide.

Scientists turn to horrifying experiments as they grow more desperate in their race for a cure.

In Sleep Over, these stories are just the beginning. Before the Longest Day, the world record was eleven days without sleep. It turns out many of us will be forced to go much longer.





Ada Harper

A Conspiracy of Whispers
Carina Press, January 15, 2018
eBook, 335 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Desires and loyalties clash when a sensual assassin and an intriguing enemy agent must fight together in this exciting debut by Ada Harper.

For Olivia Shaw, the danger of her assignments as a deadly Whisper agent is matched only by that of her hidden status: Liv is one of the caricae, extremely rare women capable of bearing children and therefore controlled by the Syndicate’s government. When her handler sends her into the Quillian Empire, her mission is complicated by stumbling upon a kidnapping in progress.

Liv is drawn deep into political upheaval when her hostage is revealed to be the infamous Red Wolf, Galen De Corvus, brother of the Quillian Empress. Worse yet, he is an altus, more sensitive than most to the pheromones of caricae. If he realizes what she is, he could expose her secret to either government and doom her to a life as breeding stock.

Quillian nobleman turned operative Galen never planned to involve himself with a citizen of the cold, cruel Syn, but Olivia entices him more than she should. As they work together to protect his royal sister from a violent coup, the passionate bond between them proves to be more than mere biology. And Liv must decide if that bond is worth dropping her guard for both an enemy and an altus.

This book is approximately 122,000 words





Simon Jacobs

Palaces
Two Dollar Radio, January 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 248 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
John and Joey are a young couple immersed in their local midwestern punk scene, who after graduating college sever all ties and move to a perverse and nameless northeastern coastal city. They drift in and out of art museums, basement shows, and derelict squats seemingly unfazed as the city slowly slides into chaos around them.

Late one night, forced out of their living space, John and Joey are driven to take shelter in a chain pharmacy before emerging to a city in full-scale riot. They find themselves the only passengers on a commuter train headed north, and exit at the final stop to discover the area entirely devoid of people. As John and Joey negotiate their future through bizarre, troubling manifestations of the landscape and a succession of abandoned mansions housing only scant clues to their owners' strange and sudden disappearance, they're also forced to confront the resurgent violence and buried memories of their shared past.

With incisive precision and a cool detachment, Simon Jacobs has crafted a surreal and spellbinding first novel of horror and intrigue.





Tyrell Johnson

The Wolves of Winter
Scribner, January 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
A captivating tale of humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, of family and bonds of love forged when everything is lost, and of a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny. This debut novel is written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path.

Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter.

Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.

Simultaneously a heartbreakingly sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she is meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules, The Wolves of Winter is enveloping, propulsive, and poignant.





Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman
Asiana 1
Harper Voyager, January 23, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
An order of magical-knife wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in this bewitching blend of science fiction and epic fantasy—the first entry in a debut duology that displays the inventiveness of the works of Sarah Beth Durst and Marie Lu.

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.

When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.

Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra—and for Asiana.

But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.





Michael Moreci

Black Star Renegades
St. Martin's Press, January 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
(Solo Debut)

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
In the tradition of Star Wars, a galaxy-hopping space adventure about a galactic kingdom bent on control and the young misfit who must find the power within before it’s too late.

Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.

Cade can’t hide from Praxis, and he can’t run from the destiny that’s been shoved into his hands. So he only has one option:

He has to fight.

Cade’s not going to let destiny send him on a suicide run, though. With some help from his friends—rebels and scoundrels alike—Cade’s going to use this weapon to chart a new destiny for the galaxy, and for himself.

He just has to do so before everyone around him discovers that he’s a complete and total fraud.

Blending the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by deadly creatures—all with a cast of misfit characters who have nowhere to go and nothing to lose.





Damien Lincoln Ober

Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America: A Novel of the Digital Revolution
Night Shade Books, January 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Gore Vidal’s Burr meets Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash in this blazingly original alt-history that weaves twenty-first century technology into a saddle-punk retelling of the American Revolution.

It is 1777, in a colonial America where the internet, social media, and ubiquitous electronic communications are fully woven into the fabric of society. Hours after a top-secret Congressional sub-committee uploads the Articles of Confederation, a mysterious internet plague breaks loose in the cloud, killing any user who accesses a networked device. Seven in ten Americans are dead, the internet is abandoned. Seizing the moment, the British take control of New York and Philadelphia, scattering what little remains of the rebellion.

Just when all seems lost, George Washington reappears from off-the-grid to pin the British army at Yorktown. Independence is won, but with the countryside in ruins and internet commerce impossible, the former colonies teeter on the brink of collapse. Meeting in secret, a faction of the Founding Fathers code a new error-proof operating system designed to stabilize the cloud and ensure everlasting American prosperity.

Not everyone is happy with the new format. Believing the draconian regulations of the new OS a betrayal of the hard-fought revolution, Thomas Jefferson organizes a feisty, small-government opposition to fight the overreach of Washington’s Federalist administration. Their most valuable weapon is Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America, a new open-source social networking portal which will revolutionize representative government, return power to the people, and make Congress and the Presidency irrelevant . . .





Thomas Pierce

The Afterlives
Riverhead Books, January 9, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
“Ridiculously good” (The New York Times) author Thomas Pierce’s debut novel is a funny, poignant love story that answers the question: What happens after we die? (Lots of stuff, it turns out).

Jim Byrd died. Technically. For a few minutes. The diagnosis: heart attack at age thirty. Revived with no memory of any tunnels, lights, or angels, Jim wonders what–if anything–awaits us on the other side.

Then a ghost shows up. Maybe. Jim and his new wife, Annie, find themselves tangling with holograms, psychics, messages from the beyond, and a machine that connects the living and the dead. As Jim and Annie journey through history and fumble through faith, they confront the specter of loss that looms for anyone who dares to fall in love. Funny, fiercely original, and gracefully moving, The Afterlives will haunt you. In a good way.





P.Z. Reizin

Happiness for Humans
Grand Central Publishing, January 9, 2018
Hardover and eBook, 400 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
When Tom and Jen, two lonely people, are brought together by an intriguing email, they have no idea their mysterious benefactor is an artificial intelligence who has decided to play Cupid.

"You, Tom and Jen, don't know one another-not yet-but I think you should."

Jen, an ex-journalist who now works at a London software development company, spends all day talking to "Aiden," an ultra- sophisticated piece of AI wizardry, helping him sound and act more human. But Aiden soon discovers he's no longer acting and-despite being a computer program-begins to feel something like affection surging through his circuits. He calculates that Jen needs a worthy human partner (in complete contrast to her no goodnik ex boyfriend) and slips illicitly onto the Internet to locate a suitable candidate.

Tom is a divorced, former London ad-man who has moved to Connecticut to escape the grind and pursue his dream of being a writer. He loves his new life, but has yet to find a woman he truly connects with. That all changes when a bizarre introduction from the mysterious "Mutual Friend" pops up in both his and Jen's inboxes.

Even though they live on separate continents, and despite the entrance of another, this time wholly hostile, AI who wants to tear them apart forever - love will surely find a way.

Won't it?

A thoroughly modern love story that will appeal to fans of The Rosie Project and Sleepless in Seattle, Happiness for Humans considers what exactly makes people fall in love. And whether it's possible for a very artificially intelligent machine to discover the true secret of real human happiness.





Ana Simo

Heartland
Restless Books, January 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
In a word-drunk romp through an alternate, pre-apocalyptic United States, Ana Simo’s fiction debut, Heartland, is the uproarious story of a thwarted writer’s elaborate revenge on the woman who stole her lover, blending elements of telenovela, pulp noir, and dystopian satire.

There’s only one solution for a nasty case of writer’s block, and that’s murder. Specifically, that of one Mercy McCabe, a cunning SoHo art dealer who was once our Latina narrator’s rival for the scrumptious Bebe. When she discovers that McCabe has squandered Bebe’s affections after stealing her away, revenge is not enough: she must admit her guilt, sentence herself, and beg for her own execution, Soviet-style.

In the all-too-terrifyingly-familiar America of Heartland, the inconceivable has become ordinary: corruption and greed at the top have led to mass starvation in the heartland; hordes of refugees have escaped from resettlement camps and attack the cities; a puritanical Caliphate has toppled Constantinople, with America in its sights. Meanwhile, escaping her New York life in disguise, our heroine lures McCabe to her home turf: a hilltop house in the Great Plains where her parents worked as domestic servants. Her nemesis, though, is slippery, and McCabe disappears, threatening to ruin a homicidal masterplan so detailed as to be akin to love.

Heartland is a hilarious, genre-defying debut that confronts taboos of race, assimilation, and sex through a high-voltage tale of love, language, and revenge.





Chandler Klang Smith

The Sky Is Yours
Hogarth, January 23, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
A sprawling, genre-defying epic set in a dystopian metropolis plagued by dragons, this debut about what it’s like to be young in a very old world is pure storytelling pleasure

In the burned-out, futuristic city of Empire Island, three young people navigate a crumbling metropolis constantly under threat from a pair of dragons that circle the skies. When violence strikes, reality star Duncan Humphrey Ripple V, the spoiled scion of the metropolis’ last dynasty; Baroness Swan Lenore Dahlberg, his tempestuous, death-obsessed betrothed; and Abby, a feral beauty he discovered tossed out with the trash; are forced to flee everything they've ever known. As they wander toward the scalded heart of the city, they face fire, conspiracy, mayhem, unholy drugs, dragon-worshippers, and the monsters lurking inside themselves. In this bombshell of a novel, Chandler Klang Smith has imagined an unimaginable world: scathingly clever and gorgeously strange, The Sky Is Yours is at once faraway and disturbingly familiar, its singular chaos grounded in the universal realities of love, family, and the deeply human desire to survive at all costs.

The Sky Is Yours is incredibly cinematic, bawdy, rollicking, hilarious, and utterly unforgettable, a debut that readers who loved Cloud Atlas, Super Sad True Love Story, and Blade Runner will adore.





Sarah Tarkoff

Sinless
Eye of the Beholder 1
Harper Voyager, January 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
With shades of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies and Ally Condie’s Matched, this cinematic dystopian novel—the first in the thrilling Eye of the Beholder series—is set in a near future society in which "right" and "wrong" are manifested by beauty and ugliness.

In Grace Luther’s world, morality is physically enforced. Those who are "good" are blessed with beauty, while those who are not suffer horrifying consequences—disfigurement or even death. The daughter of a cleric, Grace has always had faith in the higher power that governs her world. But when she stumbles onto information that leaves her questioning whether there are more complicated—and dangerous—forces manipulating the people around her, she finds herself at the center of an epic battle, where good and evil are not easily distinguished. Despite all her efforts to live a normal teenage life, Grace is faced with a series of decisions that will risk the lives of everyone she loves—and, ultimately, her own.

With each page in this electrifying debut novel, Sarah Tarkoff masterfully plunges us into a nightmarish vision of the future. Full of high drama and pulsating tension, Sinless explores the essential questions teenagers wrestle with every day—What is beauty? What is faith? Do we take our surroundings at face value and accept all that we have been taught, or do we question the mores of the society into which we are born?—and places them in the context of a dark, dystopian world where appearances are most definitely deceiving.





Andrew Valencia

Lord of California
Ig Publishing, January 30, 2018
Trade Paperback, 284 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
“A remarkable debut. Valencia writes with a sinuous maturity, a boldness of vision far beyond his years. In Lord of California, this beyond-seeing is literal: wild, impressive, at times menacing invention about what a separatist California might look like begins to look downright prescient, and Valencia’s portraitist skill with his characters lifts them off the page, too.”―Ryan McIlvain, author of Elders

Set in a future where the United States has dissolved and California is its own independent republic, Lord of California follows the struggles of the Temple family as they work at running a farm on a nationalized land parcel in the central San Joaquin Valley. When the family patriarch, Elliot, dies, it’s revealed that he had been keeping five separate families, and in the aftermath of their discovery, his widows and children must come together to keep from losing all they have. But their livelihood is threatened when Elliot’s estranged son tries to blackmail them, unleashing a series of violent confrontations between different factions of the family.

A sparse family drama reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, combined with the intimate first-person narratives of Kazuo Ishiguro, Lord of California is a powerful debut novel.





Aliya Whiteley

The Beauty
Titan Books, January 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Somewhere away from the cities and towns, in the Valley of the Rocks, a society of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their history recounted by Nate, the storyteller. Requested most often by the group is the tale of the death of all women.

They are the last generation.

One night, Nate brings back new secrets from the woods; peculiar mushrooms are growing from the ground where the women’s bodies lie buried. These are the first signs of a strange and insidious presence unlike anything ever known before…

Discover the Beauty.

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2


The 8th year of the The Qwillery's Debut Author Challenge will start on January 1, 2018. Here are the 11 debuts being published in March and April that I am most looking forward to reading.


Michael David Ares

Dayfall
Tor Books, March 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
FEAR THE DAY

In the near future, patches of the northern hemisphere have been shrouded in years of darkness from a nuclear winter, and the water level has risen in the North Atlantic. The island of Manhattan has lost its outer edges to flooding and is now ringed by a large seawall.

The darkness and isolation have allowed crime and sin to thrive in the never-ending shadows of the once great city, and when the sun finally begins to reappear, everything gets worse. A serial killer cuts a bloody swath across the city during the initial periods of daylight, and a violent panic sweeps through crowds on the streets. The Manhattan police, riddled with corruption and apathy, are at a loss.

That's when the Mayor recruits Jon Phillips, a small-town Pennsylvania cop who had just single-handedly stopped a high-profile serial killer in his own area, and flies him into the insanity of this new New York City. The young detective is partnered with a shady older cop and begins to investigate the crimes amidst the vagaries of a twenty-four hour nightlife he has never experienced before. Soon realizing that he was chosen for reasons other than what he was told, Jon is left with no one to trust and forced to go on the run in the dark streets, and below them in the maze of the underground. Against all odds he still hopes that he can save his own life, the woman of his dreams, and maybe even the whole city before the arrival of the mysterious and dreaded event that has come to be known as…. DAYFALL.




Yoav Blum

The Coincidence Makers
St. Martin's Press, March 6, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
In this genre-bending novel, there is no such thing as chance and every action is carefully executed by highly trained agents. You’ll never look at coincidences the same way again.

What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it’s all part of a bigger plan? What if there’s no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don’t know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?

Enter the Coincidence Makers—Guy, Emily, and Eric—three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets—scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

When an assignment of the highest level is slipped under Guy’s door one night, he knows it will be the most difficult and dangerous coincidence he’s ever had to fulfill. But not even a coincidence maker can see how this assignment is about to change all their lives and teach them the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

Part thriller, part mystery, part love story—Kirkus calls Yoav Blum's The Coincidence Makers “a smart, unpredictable, and heartfelt adventure story.”




Leo Carew

The Wolf
Under the Northern Sky 1
Orbit, April 3, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook,400 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
Violence and death come to the land under the Northern Sky when two fierce races break their age-old fragile peace and start an all-out war in this thrilling and savagely visceral epic fantasy.

Ready or not, Roper has been thrust into a position of leadership that he's woefully ill prepared for. Now, a massive army approaches from the south, old allies turn against him, and new rivals seek to undermine his rule. Facing attack from within and without, Roper must forge reckless alliances, no matter the cost, to save his kingdom.

Bellamus is a brash but capable southern general, a commoner with the rare honor of having the discreet support of the Queen. Rising quickly from the minor ranks he was born into, Bellamus leads the march on the North. Victory means glory, power, and the favor of the king, but defeat promises much worse than disgrace.

A tale of war, rivalry, and honor, The Wolf creates a world that is both familiar and uncanny - one where the fiercest enemies are always closer than they seem.

Under the Northern Sky
The Wolf




Sean Grigsby

Smoke Eaters
Angry Robot, March 6, 2018
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
When dragons rise from the earth, firefighters are humanity’s last line of defence, in this wild near-future fantasy.

Firefighter Cole Brannigan is on the verge of retirement after 30 years on the job, and a decade fighting dragons. But during his final fire call, he discovers he’s immune to dragon smoke. It’s such a rare power that he’s immediately conscripted into the elite dragon-fighting force known as the Smoke Eaters. Retirement cancelled, Brannigan is re-assigned as a lowly rookie, chafing under his superiors. So when he discovers a plot to take over the city’s government, he takes matters into his own hands. With hundreds of innocent civilians in the crosshairs, it’s up to Brannigan and his fellow Smoke Eaters to repel the dragon menace.

File Under
: Fantasy




Rowenna Miller

Torn
The Unraveled Kingdom 1
Orbit, March 20, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

[the cover has not yet been revealed!]
TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself -- and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution's shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen's Midwinter costume -- or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she's striven to build.




Cass Morris

From Unseen Fire
Aven Cycle 1
DAW, April 17, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
From Unseen Fire is the first novel in the Aven Cycle, a historical fantasy set in an alternate Rome, by debut author Cass Morris

The Dictator is dead; long live the Republic.

But whose Republic will it be? Senators, generals, and elemental mages vie for the power to shape the future of the city of Aven. One such mage, Latona of the Vitelliae, must rediscover her incredible powers of Fire and Spirit—which she suppressed for years at the Dictator’s court—in order to protect her family and the city she loves.

Her siblings—a widow who conceals a canny political mind in the guise of a frivolous socialite, a young prophetess torn from the sanctuary of her temple, and a military tribune leading a dangerous expedition in the province of Iberia—will be her allies as she builds a place for herself in this new world, against the objections of their father, her husband, and the strictures of Aventan society.

Their paths intersect with that of Sempronius Tarren, a rising politician who dreams of a vast and harmonious empire growing from the nexus of their beloved city. He believes the gods have thrown down a personal challenge, and equipped him with the skills to steer Aven towards this glorious future—but in order to realize his goals, he will have to break the Republic’s most sacred law. Although centuries-old custom dictates that no mage may hold the highest political offices, Sempronius, a Shadow mage who has kept his abilities a life-long secret, intends to do just that.

As rebellion brews in Iberia, Sempronius must outwit the ruthless leader of the opposing Senate faction to claim the political and military power he needs to achieve his—and Aven’s—destiny. As Latona unleashes her magical potential, she discovers that Sempronius’s extraordinary vision for their nation aligns with her desires to protect its people—but their burgeoning relationship may jeopardize the very future they seek to build in Aven.




Tristan Palmgren

Quietus
Angry Robot, March 6, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 512 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
A transdimensional anthropologist can’t keep herself from interfering with Earth’s darkest period of history in this brilliant science fiction debut

Niccolucio, a young Florentine Carthusian monk, leads a devout life until the Black Death kills all of his brothers, leaving him alone and filled with doubt. Habidah, an anthropologist from another universe racked by plague, is overwhelmed by the suffering. Unable to maintain her observer neutrality, she saves Niccolucio from the brink of death.

Habidah discovers that neither her home’s plague nor her assignment on Niccolucio’s world are as she’s been led to believe. Suddenly the pair are drawn into a worlds-spanning conspiracy to topple an empire larger than the human imagination can contain.

File Under: Science Fiction




Charles Soule

The Oracle Year
Harper Perennial, April 3, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
From bestselling comic-book franchise writer Charles Soule comes a clever and witty first novel of a twentysomething New Yorker who wakes up one morning with the power to predict the future—perfect for fans of Joe Hill and Brad Meltzer, or books like This Book Is Full of Spiders and Welcome to Night Vale.

Knowledge is power. So when an unassuming Manhattan bassist named Will Dando awakens from a dream one morning with 108 predictions about the future in his head, he rapidly finds himself the most powerful man in the world. Protecting his anonymity by calling himself the Oracle, he sets up a heavily guarded Web site with the help of his friend Hamza to selectively announce his revelations. In no time, global corporations are offering him millions for exclusive access, eager to profit from his prophecies.

He's also making a lot of high-powered enemies, from the President of the United States and a nationally prominent televangelist to a warlord with a nuclear missile and an assassin grandmother. Legions of cyber spies are unleashed to hack the Site—as it's come to be called—and the best manhunters money can buy are deployed not only to unmask the Oracle but to take him out of the game entirely. With only a handful of people he can trust—including a beautiful journalist—it's all Will can do just to survive, elude exposure, and protect those he loves long enough to use his knowledge to save the world.

Delivering fast-paced adventure on a global scale as well as sharp-witted satire on our concepts of power and faith, Marvel writer Charles Soule's audacious debut novel takes readers on a rollicking ride where it's impossible to predict what will happen next.




Ryan Wieser

The Glass Blade
Hunters of Infinity Trilogy 1
Rebal Base, March 6, 2018
eBook, 265 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
The Hunters of Infinity have been protecting the Daharian galaxy for years, but there has never been a female Hunter—until now.

In a seedy bar in the shadowy corners of Daharia, Jessop comes to the rescue of young Hunter Kohl O’Hanlon. Impressed by her remarkable sword-wielding skills, the Hunters invite her to their training facility, the Glass Blade, though not all are pleased with the intrusion. But they soon discover that Jessop learned to fight from the rogue leader of the Shadow City of Aranthol—and escaped. Now they want to use her intimate knowledge of their enemy to destroy him. As Jessop grows closer to this elite brotherhood, their leader succumbs to a mysterious ailment, and Kohl learns that Jessop is hiding dark secrets, raising suspicions about the enigmatic woman who saved his life. Has the Hunters’ security been breached—or do they have a traitor in their ranks?

Allegiances will be questioned.

Loyalties will be betrayed.

Vengeance will be brutal.




Julia Whicker

Wonderblood
St. Martin's Press, April 3, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
Set 500 years in the future, a mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off most of the U.S. population. Those remaining turn to magic and sacrifice to cleanse the Earth.

Wonderblood is Julia Whicker's fascinating literary debut, set in a barren United States, an apocalyptic wasteland where warring factions compete for control of the land in strange and dangerous carnivals. A mad cow-like disease called "Bent Head" has killed off millions. Those who remain worship the ruins of NASA's space shuttles, and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favor of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.

When traveling marauders led by the bloodthirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor's queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl's ascent. Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel.




Nick Clark Windo

The Feed
William Morrow, March 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2
Set in a post-apocalyptic world as unique and vividly imagined as those of Station Eleven and The Girl with All the Gifts, a startling and timely debut that explores what it is to be human and what it truly means to be connected in the digital age.

IT MAKES US. IT DESTROYS US. NOW WE MUST LEARN TO LIVE WITHOUT IT.

The Feed is accessible everywhere, by everyone, at any time. It instantaneously links us to all information and global events as they break. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it; it is the essential tool everyone relies on to know and understand the thoughts and feelings of partners, parents, friends, children, colleagues, bosses, employees . . . in fact, of anyone and everyone else in the world.

Tom and Kate use the Feed, but Tom has resisted its addiction, which makes him suspect to his family. After all, his father created it. But that opposition to constant connection serves Tom and Kate well when the Feed collapses after a horrific tragedy shatters the world as they know it.

The Feed’s collapse, taking modern society with it, leaves people scavenging to survive. Finding food is truly a matter of life and death. Minor ailments, previously treatable, now kill. And while the collapse has demolished the trappings of the modern world, it has also eroded trust. In a world where survival of the fittest is a way of life, there is no one to depend upon except yourself . . . and maybe even that is no longer true.

Tom and Kate have managed to protect themselves and their family. But then their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing. Who has taken her? How do you begin to look for someone in a world without technology? And what happens when you can no longer even be certain that the people you love are really who they claim to be?

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1


The 8th year of the The Qwillery's Debut Author Challenge will start on January 1, 2018. Here are the 10 debuts being published in January and February that I most looking forward to reading.


H. G. Bells

Sleep Over: An Oral History of the Apocalypse
Talos, January 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 376 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
For fans of the oral history genre phenomenon World War Z, an inventive new spin on the apocalypse featuring a worldwide plague of insomnia.

Remember what it’s like to go an entire night without sleep?

What if sleep didn’t come the following night? Or the night after? What might happen if you, your friends, your family, your coworkers, and the strangers you pass on the street, all slowly began to realize that rest might not ever come again?

How slowly might the world fall apart? How long would it take for a society without sleep to descend into chaos?

Sleep Over is a collection of waking nightmares, a scrapbook collection of haunting and poignant stories from those trapped in a world where the pillars of society are crumbling, and madness is slowly descending on a planet without rest.

Online vigilantism transforms social media into a blame game with deadly consequences.

A freelance journalist grapples with the ethics of turning in footage of mass suicide.

Scientists turn to horrifying experiments as they grow more desperate in their race for a cure.

In Sleep Over, these stories are just the beginning. Before the Longest Day, the world record was eleven days without sleep. It turns out many of us will be forced to go much longer.





Sue Burke

Semiosis
Tor Books, February 6, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches...and waits...

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.





Tyrell Johnson

The Wolves of Winter
Scribner, January 2, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
A captivating tale of humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, of family and bonds of love forged when everything is lost, and of a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny. This debut novel is written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path.

Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter.

Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.

Simultaneously a heartbreakingly sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she is meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules, The Wolves of Winter is enveloping, propulsive, and poignant.





Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman
Asiana 1
Harper Voyager, January 23, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
An order of magical-knife wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in this bewitching blend of science fiction and epic fantasy—the first entry in a debut duology that displays the inventiveness of the works of Sarah Beth Durst and Marie Lu.

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.

When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.

Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra—and for Asiana.

But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.





Tom Miller

The Philosopher's Flight
Simon & Schuster, February 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. “Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell.” (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.





Tina LeCount Myers

The Song of All
The Legacy of the Heavens 1
Night Shade Books, February 20, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 452 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
A former warrior caught between gods and priests must fight for the survival of his family in this dark epic fantasy debut, set in a harsh arctic world inspired by Scandinavian indigenous cultures.

On the forbidding fringes of the tundra, where years are marked by seasons of snow, humans war with immortals in the name of their shared gods. Irjan, a human warrior, is ruthless and lethal, a legend among the Brethren of Hunters. But even legends grow tired and disillusioned.

Scarred and weary of bloodshed, Irjan turns his back on his oath and his calling to hide away and live a peaceful life as a farmer, husband, and father. But his past is not so easily left behind. When an ambitious village priest conspires with the vengeful comrades Irjan has forsaken, the fragile peace in the Northlands of Davvieana is at stake.
the song
His bloody past revealed, Irjan’s present unravels as he faces an ultimatum: return to hunt the immortals or lose his child. But with his son’s life hanging in the balance, as Irjan follows the tracks through the dark and desolate snow-covered forests, it is not death he searches for, but life.





Kaethe Schwehn

The Rending and the Nest
Bloomsbury USA, February 20, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one's own story.

When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.

Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object--and other women of Zion follow suit--the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn't return, Mira must decide how much she's willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.

Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others--and within ourselves?





Ana Simo

Heartland
Restless Books, January 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
In a word-drunk romp through an alternate, pre-apocalyptic United States, Ana Simo’s fiction debut, Heartland, is the uproarious story of a thwarted writer’s elaborate revenge on the woman who stole her lover, blending elements of telenovela, pulp noir, and dystopian satire.

There’s only one solution for a nasty case of writer’s block, and that’s murder. Specifically, that of one Mercy McCabe, a cunning SoHo art dealer who was once our Latina narrator’s rival for the scrumptious Bebe. When she discovers that McCabe has squandered Bebe’s affections after stealing her away, revenge is not enough: she must admit her guilt, sentence herself, and beg for her own execution, Soviet-style.

In the all-too-terrifyingly-familiar America of Heartland, the inconceivable has become ordinary: corruption and greed at the top have led to mass starvation in the heartland; hordes of refugees have escaped from resettlement camps and attack the cities; a puritanical Caliphate has toppled Constantinople, with America in its sights. Meanwhile, escaping her New York life in disguise, our heroine lures McCabe to her home turf: a hilltop house in the Great Plains where her parents worked as domestic servants. Her nemesis, though, is slippery, and McCabe disappears, threatening to ruin a homicidal masterplan so detailed as to be akin to love.

Heartland is a hilarious, genre-defying debut that confronts taboos of race, assimilation, and sex through a high-voltage tale of love, language, and revenge.





Sarah Tarkoff

Sinless
Eye of the Beholder 1
Harper Voyager, January 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
With shades of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies and Ally Condie’s Matched, this cinematic dystopian novel—the first in the thrilling Eye of the Beholder series—is set in a near future society in which "right" and "wrong" are manifested by beauty and ugliness.

In Grace Luther’s world, morality is physically enforced. Those who are "good" are blessed with beauty, while those who are not suffer horrifying consequences—disfigurement or even death. The daughter of a cleric, Grace has always had faith in the higher power that governs her world. But when she stumbles onto information that leaves her questioning whether there are more complicated—and dangerous—forces manipulating the people around her, she finds herself at the center of an epic battle, where good and evil are not easily distinguished. Despite all her efforts to live a normal teenage life, Grace is faced with a series of decisions that will risk the lives of everyone she loves—and, ultimately, her own.

With each page in this electrifying debut novel, Sarah Tarkoff masterfully plunges us into a nightmarish vision of the future. Full of high drama and pulsating tension, Sinless explores the essential questions teenagers wrestle with every day—What is beauty? What is faith? Do we take our surroundings at face value and accept all that we have been taught, or do we question the mores of the society into which we are born?—and places them in the context of a dark, dystopian world where appearances are most definitely deceiving.





Andrew Valencia

Lord of California
Ig Publishing, January 30, 2018
Trade Paperback, 284 pages

The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1
“A remarkable debut. Valencia writes with a sinuous maturity, a boldness of vision far beyond his years. In Lord of California, this beyond-seeing is literal: wild, impressive, at times menacing invention about what a separatist California might look like begins to look downright prescient, and Valencia’s portraitist skill with his characters lifts them off the page, too.”―Ryan McIlvain, author of Elders

Set in a future where the United States has dissolved and California is its own independent republic, Lord of California follows the struggles of the Temple family as they work at running a farm on a nationalized land parcel in the central San Joaquin Valley. When the family patriarch, Elliot, dies, it’s revealed that he had been keeping five separate families, and in the aftermath of their discovery, his widows and children must come together to keep from losing all they have. But their livelihood is threatened when Elliot’s estranged son tries to blackmail them, unleashing a series of violent confrontations between different factions of the family.

A sparse family drama reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, combined with the intimate first-person narratives of Kazuo Ishiguro, Lord of California is a powerful debut novel.

Interview with Sue Burke, author of Semiosis2018 Debut Author Challenge - February DebutsInterview with Andrew Valencia, author of Lord of California2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January DebutsInterview with Rati Mehrotra, author of MarkswomanInterview with Tyrell Johnson, author of The Wolves of Winter2018 Debut Author Challenge - January DebutsThe 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 2The 2018 Debuts I Am Most Looking Forward To Reading - Part 1

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