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2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner


The winner of the December 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Endsville by Clay Sanger from Crossroad Press with 72% of the votes. The cover art is by Shawn T. King of STK•Kreations.


Endsville
Outlaw Arcana 1
Crossroad Press, December 25, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 458 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner
Welcome to Los Angeles—where the secret worlds of the criminal and supernatural collide. Crime and black magic pay. In the City of Angels, no one does it better than Gabriel St. John and the House of the Crow…

ENDSVILLE introduces readers to the House of the Crow. Led by their enigmatic street captain Gabriel, the Crows are a secret coven of high-rolling occult gangsters operating out of Los Angeles. A gangland king by the name of Dante Washington enlists their aid to recover 34 million dollars in cash—stolen from him by what appears to be a hostile sorcerer.

The Crows battle through a vicious cycle of betrayal, violence, and black magic while on the hunt for Mr. Washington’s missing money. In the end, allies prove to be enemies, and there are much greater things at stake than covering up a multi-million dollar gangland heist.





 The Results
2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner





The December 2018 Debuts
2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner

Interview with Adam Nemett, author of We Can Save Us All


I can't think of a better way to end 2018 than with a Debut Author Challenge Interview! Please welcome Adam Nemett to The Qwillery. We Can Save Us All was published in November by The Unnamed Press.



Interview with Adam Nemett, author of We Can Save Us All




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

Adam:  My father used to bring me along to art museums (he’s a painter and professor at Maryland Institute College of Art) and I remember writing bad, earnest poems about different works of art when I was about seven or eight. Early ekphrastic experiments.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Adam:  Probably a hybrid. I have a sense of the structure, but especially since this book deals with the nature of time, I spent many years moving around chapters and scenes into nonlinear arrangements. I have a sense of where the narrative is going but I try not to plot everything out and allow the story to steer itself in unexpected directions.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Adam:  The most challenging this is finding the time—I have a fulltime career at History Factory (www.historyfactory.com) writing books and other content for Fortune 500 companies, I help run a music education nonprofit, and above all I enjoy being a husband and a father of two kids. So figuring out how to carve out the time in odd hours isn’t easy.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Adam:  Everything, I guess? My life, the stories I hear and details I steal from others, the books I read and movies/TV I see, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, the news, history, the current state of our world.



TQDescribe We Can Save Us All using only 5 words.

Adam:  Student superheroes start a revolution



TQTell us something about We Can Save Us All that is not found in the book description.

Adam:  It took about 12 years to get it written, revised and published.



TQWhat inspired you to write We Can Save Us All?

Adam:  Again, too many things to list, but I went to college during a particularly transitional time—from 1999 to 2003—which spanned Columbine, the Bush/Gore election, September 11th, and the war that followed—so I think some of this book was inspired by an increasingly uncertain world and how one group of students might respond to it.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but here are a few books that were influential:

White Noise by Don DeLillo
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit
Witness to the Revolution by Clara Bingham
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen
The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor
The Girls by Emma Cline
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach



TQWhat sort of research did you do for We Can Save Us All?

Adam:  More than I can recount, but I read all kinds of fiction and nonfiction, studied cults and communes, and studied both the practical and overblown versions of doomsday prepping, along with plenty of research into superheroes—mythical, fictional and “real.”



TQPlease tell us about the cover for We Can Save Us All.

Adam:  The beautiful cover, designed by Jaya Nicely at The Unnamed Press, is more impressionistic, but I guess you could make an argument that the small white bits symbolize pills, a blizzard, or rice kernels…



TQIn We Can Save Us All who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Adam:  I’m not sure that any of the characters were particularly “easy” or “hard,” but David was the probably the closest character to my own personality (with some major exceptions). I think there was a period when I was especially conscious that with the characters that were farther away from my lived experience—the non-white, non-male characters—I had more of a responsibility to write them in realistic, complicated ways, and not fall into tropes or stereotypes, but these characters all took on lives of their own pretty swiftly and I tried to not police myself and let the characters do their thing.



TQDoes We Can Save Us All touch on any social issues?

Adam:  The book deals with, among other things, class privilege, climate change, spirituality/mutual aid societies vs. cults/authoritarianism, the value of liberal arts education vs. knowledge of trade skills, polyamorous relationships, hero worship, and sexual assault. On that last issue, I had no idea the book would be published during the #MeToo movement and while a trigger warning is warranted, I believe the assault that occurs in the book is confronted in a substantial and significant way.



TQWhich question about We Can Save Us All do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Adam:

Q: How hard was it to write and publish this book as a working father? How do you balance your home/family life and work life?

A: It’s hard! Both my wife and I are committed parents, and we both have fulltime careers, and we both have personal/creative projects that we pursue. It’s tough to juggle—between those three major roles and between what each of us needs to prioritize at a given time—but we’re making it work. I do my best, write in odd hours and when the kids are asleep, and try to be present when they’re awake, realizing that a huge part of writing is about observing and considering life from unexpected angles, and the earnest innocence with which children approach the world is a great teaching tool for this.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from We Can Save Us All.

Adam:

On the protagonist’s lack of knowledge about comic books:
“My relationship to superheroes is mystical, not fundamentalist.”

On fireworks exploding:
“David found it fascinating to watch this refuse, these ashes, and wondered if this was the reality of the Big Bang: trillions of years ago, all that far-flung carbon was merely a worthless by-product of an infinitely pretty explosion; now, they were all merely star farts.”



TQWhat's next?

Adam:  I don’t feel like the We Can Save Us All work is over just yet. I maybe had the naïve misconception that once the book was published everything was out of my hands, but my publisher (The Unnamed Press) has been a terrific partner and helped me see that there’s a lot I can be doing to help my novel be successful and reach a wider audience—being available for press and participating in interviews, writing personal essays, being active on social media, keeping my website current, reading colleagues books, planning and attending book events, etc. Some of this is orchestrated by my publisher and some of it is really proactive stuff that I’m working on and almost all of it is a collaboration between myself, my publisher and my agent. That work will continue early next year when I do more touring on the West Coast (feel free to keep track at www.AdamNemett.com), but once this phase is in the rearview I have some ideas for the next book(s)—children’s books, and two ideas for novels—and would be interested in certain ancillary offshoots for We Can Save Us All, such as a graphic novel or film adaptation.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Adam:  Thank YOU! And thanks for supporting debut novels!





We Can Save Us All
The Unnamed Press, November 13, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 363 pages

Interview with Adam Nemett, author of We Can Save Us All
"Nemett's wondrously fresh novel positively bursts with charm, heart, and invention." ―Booklist, Starred Review

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

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

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





About Adam

Interview with Adam Nemett, author of We Can Save Us All
Adam Nemett graduated from Princeton University and received his MFA in Fiction/Screenwriting from California College of the Arts. He serves as creative director and author for The History Factory, where he's written award-winning nonfiction books for Lockheed Martin, Brooks Brothers, City of Hope Medical Center, and Huntington Bank, and directed campaigns for 21st Century Fox, Adobe Systems, HarperCollins, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, New Balance, Pfizer and Whirlpool. An excerpt of his debut novel, WE CAN SAVE US ALL, was anthologized in The Apocalypse Reader.

He is the writer/director of the feature film, The Instrument (2005), which LA Weekly described as, "damn near unclassifiable." At Princeton Nemett co-founded MIMA Music Inc., a student organization that grew into an educational 501(c)3 nonprofit that has operated in 40 countries worldwide. Adam's work has been published, reviewed and featured in Variety, LA Weekly, The New Yorker, Washington Post, Forbes.com, The Brooklyn Rail, Cville Niche, C-Ville Weekly and Cornel West's memoir Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.

He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife and two kids.

Website  ~  Twitter @NemoAuthor  ~  Instagram

Interview with Clay Sanger, author of Endsville


Please welcome Clay Sanger to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Endsville was published on December 25, 2018 by Crossroad Press.



Interview with Clay Sanger, author of Endsville




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

Clay:  I think I was about 12 or 13 when I started writing Forgotten Realms fan-fic short stories that had an actual beginning, middle, and end. I wrote a pretty fair number of those, actually. Long before I ever found out that wasn't how publishing in shared worlds or other people's IP's works. Which was kind of a bummer when I did figure that out.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Clay:  Hybrid. Early development is plotting – a haphazard constellation of Word document fragments, sticky notes, and text messages to myself. Then I sit down to write it and accept that no plot completely survives first contact with the enemy and let the story take me where it decides we need to go. Then I pants it and try to keep up. So, hybrid-cat-herder, I suppose.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Clay:  My attention deficit when it comes to what project I'm going to work on now/next. My brain is buried under an avalanche of stories I'd like to get written – more than I will ever live long enough to actually write. Don’t get me wrong, it's not a bad problem to have, but grabbing hold of one out of the all the swirling debris and sticking with it to the end requires constant conscious effort.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Clay:  The creative influences are huge, not even sure where I'd start drilling down into those. But it was when I read The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore that I first asked myself, "I wonder if I could do this? I wonder if I could write stories?" I was a kid, but I remember that. Very vividly. Everything else sort of flows from that moment. Music influences my writing tremendously. Different music for different projects. And I suppose it was Stephen King that gave a teenage-me the idea I could write anything I damn well pleased.



TQDescribe Endsville using only 5 words.

Clay:  Ruthless occult gangsters for hire.



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

Clay:  Fundamentally, it's a story about a family. A toxic, brutal, terminally dysfunctional one, but a family nonetheless.



TQWhat inspired you to write Endsville? Why did you set the novel in Los Angeles?

Clay:  I love crime stories, and I love occult horror and dark fantasy. I got fixated on the idea that they would blend together nicely, and the rest is history. I originally started delving into the mythos of this world by following the story of the "good guys" – but I quickly fell in love with the "bad guys" and realized I wanted to tell the story from their perspective instead. As to why I set the novel in Los Angeles: I lived in Southern California back in the mid-'90s, and L.A. and the Southern California desert is just a playground of the wonderful and the bizarre. Once I started putting the first snippets of the Outlaw Arcana mythos on paper, I couldn't see it any other way but as an L.A. crime story. With teeth. Literally.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Endsville?

Clay:  My bookshelves started filling up with books on secret societies, occult practices, myths, legends, Paganism, and bizarre cults. Pretty sure my Amazon order history looks like the last desperate shopping list of a madman. I also spent a lot of time researching L.A. gangland and Southern California crime dynasties – the good guys, the bad guys, and everything in between.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Endsville.

Clay:  The artist is the incredible Shawn T. King of STK•Kreations. I had the (rare and wonderful) experience of being able to work directly with him during production of the cover art. That's a special treat for an author. After some back and forth, we settled on a depiction of the protagonist Gabriel – and the sigil of the House of the Crow inked on his back – the sign of his rank and station in the family. In the opening chapters of the novel, Gabriel is asked about his Crow tattoo, what it means. His reply tells it all: "It means we're bad people... We lie. We cheat. We steal. We kill. So long as we take out the trash and keep the peace with the other liars, cheaters, thieves, and killers, nobody really cares."



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

Clay:  The easiest and hardest are the same characters: Gabriel and his sister Delilah. Their lives turn into a tornado of grief, guilt, regret, and trauma in this story while they fight tooth and nail to get a hand back on the reins. That's familiar territory for me, so it's not a hard head-space to get into. And for that reason, getting dressed up with those characters and telling their story takes a toll. It's an easy river to dive into. A damn hard one to climb back out of when I step away from the keyboard for the night. But I suppose it's kind of cathartic too.



TQDoes Endsville touch on any social issues?

ClayEndsville plants the seeds for some that I'll be delving into deeper as the series unfolds – drug abuse and addiction, toxic and abusive family relationships, and the dangerous spiral of living a life of crime – both by choice and by inescapable circumstances.



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

Clay:  The question: "So is Endsville really about the bad guys being bad guys?" The answer: "Why, yes, it is." A lot of urban fantasy stories play with the idea – a protagonist who used to be bad but is trying to reform. Bad guys who really do good but no one gives them credit for it. But for this one, I decided I'd go at telling the story of the bad guys with both barrels and didn't look back. It seemed like a good idea. Looking forward to seeing if the readers agree.



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

Clay:

#1: "No one loves a crow. Scavengers. Thieves. Liars. Harbingers of death. Loyal to and beholden to no one but their own kind. Drawn to the chaos and carnage so they can pick gold from the bones. Good, bad, indifferent. A crow does what a crow does. Nothing commands a crow. Not men. Not kings. Not gods. The House of the Crow lives up to its namesake."

#2: " Choices have consequences. The inescapable gravity of consequence is a real son of a bitch. As anybody who’d ever jumped off a cliff can tell you, gravity kills. When the stop comes, it’s sudden. Then everything breaks."



TQWhat's next?

Clay:  Book 2 of my Outlaw Arcana series is on the workbench, so that's somewhere on the not-too-distant horizon. I have a short story appearing in Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology coming soon from Outland Entertainment. Other novels currently on my workbench: a grimdark dieselpunk fantasy, an apocalyptic space opera, and a straight-up crime thriller. We'll have to see where they go, and whether or not my head explodes into a shower of confetti while juggling them all.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Clay:  Thank you for having me. It was certainly a lot of fun!





Endsville
Outlaw Arcana 1
Crossroad Press, December 25, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 458 pages

Interview with Clay Sanger, author of Endsville
Welcome to Los Angeles—where the secret worlds of the criminal and supernatural collide. Crime and black magic pay. In the City of Angels, no one does it better than Gabriel St. John and the House of the Crow…

ENDSVILLE introduces readers to the House of the Crow. Led by their enigmatic street captain Gabriel, the Crows are a secret coven of high-rolling occult gangsters operating out of Los Angeles. A gangland king by the name of Dante Washington enlists their aid to recover 34 million dollars in cash—stolen from him by what appears to be a hostile sorcerer.

The Crows battle through a vicious cycle of betrayal, violence, and black magic while on the hunt for Mr. Washington’s missing money. In the end, allies prove to be enemies, and there are much greater things at stake than covering up a multi-million dollar gangland heist.





About Clay

Interview with Clay Sanger, author of Endsville
Clay Sanger is a professional technogeek by day and a writer fiction the rest of the time. A life-long lover of all things wild, Clay spent much of his early adulthood wandering the four corners of the country in search of the weird and wonderful, the dark and the light.  As chance would have it he found them. After meandering far and wide he returned to his native Ozarks where he lives with his dazzling wife, their sons, and a menagerie of mythical creatures both real and imagined.







Website  ~  Twitter @claysanger  ~  Facebook

Interview with Victor Godinez, author of The First Protectors


Please welcome Victor Godinez to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The First Protectors was published on November 13, 2018 by Talos Press.



Interview with Victor Godinez, author of The First Protectors




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

Victor:  Hmm, I think it was a short story with pictures I drew when I was around 10, with a kid who gets kidnapped out of his bed by aliens and taken on adventures. He wakes up at the end back in his bed, thinking it was all a dream, but you can see the alien’s antennas outside his window. I hate the “It was all a dream” trope in fiction, incidentally. Lame!



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Victor:  Hybrid. I generally have an overall vision of how I want the story to go, but the day-to-day writing is generally a surprise to me. I do sometimes write myself into a plot corner as a result, but the easiest way out is usually just to imagine how my protagonist would react to the situation he or she is in. Or sometimes I just send in killer robots with laser guns and missile launchers. That tends to reboot a scene pretty quickly.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Victor:  Lol, all of it? It’s always a bit excruciating. Giving different characters distinctive voices and behaviors is a big challenge. We’re so used to thinking as ourselves that it’s very hard to think like someone else, or to feel or talk like someone else.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Victor:  Well, there are good and bad influences, right? On the positive side, you can round up the usual suspects: Tolkien, Stephen King, Douglas Adams, T.H. White, Asimov, and so on. On the negative side, well, I love twitter, but it does condition you to have the attention span of a hyperactive fruit fly. Spending 30 minutes or an hour writing long form does get easier with practice, but internet culture does not encourage patient diligence.



TQ Describe The First Protectors using only 5 words.

Victor:  Fighting aliens with alien science.



TQTell us something about The First Protectors that is not found in the book description.

Victor:  Political intrigue and upheaval among Earth’s governments as the invasion unfolds plays a big part in how the confrontation plays out.




TQWhat inspired you to write The First Protectors? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Victor:  I wanted to explore what an alien invasion might realistically look like and how we might realistically fight back against it. At the same time, the various real-world military conflicts over the last decade-plus have made it impossible to ignore war’s mental and spiritual toll on those who fight in them. So I wanted to explore that internal tension, as well, of someone who never wanted to fight again being essentially forced to fight for the entire world. Ultimately, science fiction is about what it means to be human as technological change accelerates. All the hardware and spaceships and whatnot are only interesting if you put confused, scared, determined, smart, overwhelmed people in front of them and behind them and inside them.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The First Protectors?

Victor:  Fortunately, in the internet age, you never have to leave your chair to wander a Russian street or peruse artillery manuals. But that also means you have no excuse not to do those things. So I spent a lot of time in Google Earth, or reading U.S. military websites, or looking up the chemical compositions of various materials or researching theoretical space propulsion systems.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The First Protectors.

Victor:  All credit to the great Amir Zand (https://www.artstation.com/amirzand) for the fantastic cover. That illustration represents a scene in the book where Ben Shepherd, the protagonist, first encounters the alien visitors out in the New Mexico desert.



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

Victor:  I think the “comic relief” characters often feel the easiest to write, at least on the first pass. But as I kept revising, I wanted to dig deeper into these characters. So you just keep peeling away, trying to find their humanity, without sacrificing the tone you want them to bring to the tale. That’s not easy!



TQDoes The First Protectors touch on any social issues?

Victor:  It does dig into the political impact that an alien invasion might have, how different governments and populations might react to that news and the chaos pouring down on them from above. I do wonder if any governments keep contingency plans for this sort of thing on a shelf somewhere, just in case.



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

Victor:  Did you really think you would be able to get your book published when you first started writing? I had no idea how to get a book published when I started. But I knew that it was a story I wanted to tell, because it was a story I wanted to read. So I figured someone else might want to read it, too.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The First Protectors.

Victor

“But tea did not come from Russia,” Gretchencko said, folding his hands on the table in front of him and ignoring the steam and the storm. “In 1638, an envoy from Tsar Michael I to Altyn Khan, a Mongolian ruler, came back with these dried leaves, a strange gift. But it was not long before Russians saw the value of this new material and adopted tea as our own, a national drink. And you, Lt. Shepherd, are tea, a strange new thing from a very distant place.”

Gretchenko finally lifted his cup and blew softly over the hot liquid, his eyes never leaving his visitors. He sipped, expressionless. “The only question is, are you a gift, or something else?”



TQWhat's next?

Victor:  Possibly a sequel, if readers like The First Protectors. And I’m working on a few unrelated sci-fi novels. So we’ll see!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Victor:  Thanks for the invite!





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

Interview with Victor Godinez, author of The First Protectors
The last thing Ben Shepherd wanted was another war. But sometimes the universe won’t take no for an answer.

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

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

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




About Victor

Interview with Victor Godinez, author of The First Protectors
Victor Godinez is a former newspaper reporter and current works in public relations. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Sarah, three kids, two dogs and, according to the most recent household census, two guinea pigs. You can find him on twitter @VictorGodinez, where he rambles about self-driving cars, The Simpsons, and sci-fi.






Interview with W. L. Goodwater, author of Breach


Please welcome W. L. Goodwater to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Breach was published on November 6, 2018 by Ace.



Interview with W. L. Goodwater, author of Breach




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

W. L.:  I remember starting a noir detective story when I was in the 1st grade. I didn’t know that detective stories had to have a plot – I was mostly focused on the cool hat and trench coat – so I didn’t make it much past the first scene, but I was hooked and have been writing ever since.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

W. L.:  Originally I was a proud pantser, but I can’t do it anymore; outlines are just too helpful. My creative process benefits from separating the “coming up with an interesting story” bit from the “write good words” bit. Otherwise I spend too long staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor. That said, at least twice while writing Breach I made significant deviations from the outline because the story made it clear that it needed to go in a new direction.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

W. L.:  Being creative on demand. I like to sit and wait for inspiration to strike – actually I like to go for long walks, that’s when my imagination works best. But deadlines don’t go away, so I’ve had to learn to just start writing. Once I’ve built some momentum, the creativity usually catches up, and we’ll clean up the rest in editing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

W. L.:  Like most writers, I read constantly and I know my writing benefits from all those wonderful stories and well-crafted sentences bouncing around in my head. There are brilliant writers who I wish would influence me more so I could have a fraction of their skill, some of my favorites being Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Cormac McCarthy. For Breach though, my inspiration came mostly from the books of John le Carré and Lev Grossman, and from the TV show Agent Carter.



TQDescribe Breach using only 5 words.

W. L.:  Cold War magicians uncovering secrets.



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

W. L.:  Here’s a Breach Easter egg for you: one of the villains is named after a dear friend of mine. When I started writing the book, he offered to help me with any untranslated Russian, so in turn I immortalized him as a bad guy. Seemed like a fair trade.



TQWhat inspired you to write Breach? What appeals to you about writing Alternate History?

W. L.:  The idea came to me in fairly vague terms: Cold War fantasy novel. There are a few examples out there of this sub-sub-sub-genre, but not many. The Cold War spans the whole globe and a huge timeline, but I immediately knew I wanted to write something set in divided Berlin in the years following WWII. It is such a unique and strange part of our recent history, and I knew throwing magic into the mix could only make it more so.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Breach?

W. L.:  Once I had the idea for the story, I knew I needed to learn a lot more, so I did what any writer would do: I got a bunch of books. Some were very helpful; some were a bit dry (turns out that the CIA and KGB don’t always hire agents because of their engaging prose). The best were Frederick Taylor’s The Berlin Wall: A World Divided and Frederick Kempe’s Berlin 1961.



TQWhy did you set the novel in Berlin during the Cold War?

W. L.:  It is just such an evocative setting: the clothes people wore, the cars they drove, the condition of the city as it recovered from the war, all of it. And Cold War Berlin has an abundance of what every good novel requires: conflict.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Breach.

W. L.:  I love the cover for Breach. I was honored to have a cover by Pete Garceau who has done stunning covers for Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, Mary Roach, and many others. The cover shows a historic map of Berlin overlaid with the colors of the German flag and a bright and jagged tear – the titular breach. I love that I’ve never seen a cover quite like it; it really stands out on a bookshelf.



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

W. L.:  My main character Karen was often the hardest, because I so desperately wanted to get her right. I did not want to join the ever-expanding Hall of Shame for men writers who write terrible female characters; my readers (and my characters) deserve better. Through the hard work of my wife, my agent, and my editor, I hope she feels authentic.

Villains are often the most fun to write, and I very much enjoyed writing for my deadly KGB colonel, the Nightingale. He believes himself a decent man, committed to his family and his country, despite the terrible things he does for the Soviet Union. That duality – and sometimes just hypocrisy – made writing him always interesting.



TQDoes Breach touch on any social issues?

W. L.:  Since the book is set in the 1950’s with a female main character who is driven to succeed in a male-dominated field, she’s forced to confront misogyny as well as Soviet spies. I wish struggles like this were – like the Berlin Wall – relegated to the past, but obviously our society still doesn’t know how to treat women equally. I think Karen does a good job excelling despite the confines her culture tries to force on her, but it means she’s hindered even by her allies.



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

W. L.:  “What’s the deal with that one Yiddish phrase you use in the first chapter?”

I’m glad you asked! The phrase is: “A shod m’hot nisht geredt fun moshiach” and literally translates to “We should have been speaking of Messiah.” It is used the same as the English phrase “Speak of the devil and he shall appear.” I think the idea is “We were talking about this guy and he showed up; maybe if we were talking about Messiah, he’d appear too.” I found it on the internet some years back and thought it was such an interesting phrase so I’ve been looking for a way to use it. During copyediting for Breach, my publisher wanted me to confirm that it meant what I thought, but that proved harder than expected. A friend put me in touch with a dozen or so rabbis and professors, who all had different takes on it, ranging from “Never heard of it” to “Well, maybe…” In the end, I decided to keep it in the book and hope for the best.



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

W. L.:  I love Karen’s exchange with one of her sexist co-workers early on in the book, after she runs out of patience for being talked down to:

          “Listen here, Honey—”

          “Yes, Sweetheart?” Karen replied. This stopped the old Texan cold. Stopped the whole room, actually. “Oh, I’m sorry,” Karen said, “I thought we were being familiar. My mistake.”


And I think the curmudgeonly but poetic nature of Arthur, the CIA chief in West Berlin, is well summarized by this quote of his:

“Someone once told me that life is just the accumulation of memories and regrets. Worst part is, the older I get, I forget about the memories, but those regrets tend to stick around.”



TQWhat's next?

W. L.:  Currently I’m working on edits for the sequel to Breach, which should be out in November 2019. The Cold War has decades of conflict available for inspiration, so there are plenty more stories to tell.


TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





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

Interview with W. L. Goodwater, author of Breach
The first novel in a new Cold War fantasy series, where the Berlin Wall is made entirely of magic. When a breach unexpectedly appears in the wall, spies from both sides swarm to the city as World War III threatens to spark.

AFTER THE WAR, THE WALL BROUGHT AN UNEASY PEACE.

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

THE WALL IS FAILING.

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

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

THE TRUTH OF THE WALL IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.





About W. L. Goodwater

Interview with W. L. Goodwater, author of Breach
Walter was born in northern California, in a small (and often miserably hot) town called Red Bluff. He started writing at a young age, writing often about magic, history, detectives, and swords. He went to college to study Computer Science at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and fell in love with the mild climate and decided to stay. While in college, he competed with the Cal Poly fencing team, who won league titles nearly every season. He currently coaches the high school fencing team for the Dunn School in Los Olivos, which has won multiple championship titles.

While he loves to read and write fantasy, he especially enjoys books that span genres. His debut novel, BREACH, takes the chocolate + peanut butter approach of merging fantasy with a Cold War spy thriller, to create a world that benefits from the power of both kinds of stories.

When he isn't writing, Walter is a software engineer specializing in user interface design. He has a passion for creating enjoyable user experiences even out of mundane tasks, and applies the principles of good UX even when writing novels.

Walter loves books, the beach, and Birkenstocks. Root beer floats are also pretty great.

For more insight into the mysteries of Walter, check out the Journal.

Website  ~  Twitter @wlgoodwater  ~  Instagram

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Debuts


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

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



2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Debuts





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Debuts
Cover design and illustration by Danny Schlitz





2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner


The winner of the November 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is The First Protectors by Victor Godinez from Talos Press with 47% of the votes. The Cover artwork is by Amir Zand, with cover design by Mona Lin.

The First Protectors just edged out Breach by W. L. Goodwater!


Victor Godinez

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

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

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

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

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





The Results

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner





The November 2018 Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner

2018 Debut Author Challenge - December 2018 Debuts




2018 Debut Author Challenge - December 2018 Debuts


There are 3 debut novels for December.

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

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



Meghan Scott Molin

The Frame-Up
The Golden Arrow Mysteries 1
47North, December 1, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - December 2018 Debuts
By day she writes comic books. By night, she lives them.

MG Martin lives and breathes geek culture. She even works as a writer for the comic book company she idolized as a kid. But despite her love of hooded vigilantes, MG prefers her comics stay on the page.

But when someone in LA starts recreating crime scenes from her favorite comic book, MG is the LAPD’s best—and only—lead. She recognizes the golden arrow left at the scene as the calling card of her favorite comic book hero. The thing is…superheroes aren’t real. Are they?

When too-handsome-for-his-own-good Detective Kildaire asks for her comic book expertise, MG is more than up for the adventure. Unfortunately, MG has a teeny little tendency to not follow rules. And her off-the-books sleuthing may land her in a world of trouble.

Because for every superhero, there is a supervillain. And the villain of her story may be closer than she thinks…





Clay Sanger

Endsville
Outlaw Arcana 1
Crossroad Press, December 25, 2018
eBook, 458 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - December 2018 Debuts
Welcome to Los Angeles—where the secret worlds of the criminal and supernatural collide. Crime and black magic pay. In the City of Angels, no one does it better than Gabriel St. John and the House of the Crow…

ENDSVILLE introduces readers to the House of the Crow. Led by their enigmatic street captain Gabriel, the Crows are a secret coven of high-rolling occult gangsters operating out of Los Angeles. A gangland king by the name of Dante Washington enlists their aid to recover 34 million dollars in cash—stolen from him by what appears to be a hostile sorcerer.

The Crows battle through a vicious cycle of betrayal, violence, and black magic while on the hunt for Mr. Washington’s missing money. In the end, allies prove to be enemies, and there are much greater things at stake than covering up a multi-million dollar gangland heist.





David Turton

The Malaise
Cosmic Egg Books, December 14, 2018
Trade Paperback, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - December 2018 Debuts
2038: Rick Razor’s mark is seen all over the world, with his innovative Razor Technology owned by the majority of the population.

Professor Mike Pilkington sees a disturbing video on his RazorVision glasses and the world turns violently upside down. As almost every human being is wiped out through murder and suicide, Mike helps rebuild society, but his hunger for answers drives him on a collision course with the chilling force behind the apocalypse...

'The Malaise will keep you turning page after page, racing to get to the ending, and all the while hoping the technology giants of today don’t throw us into his horror of tomorrow.'
David Beers, Best-selling author

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner


The winner of the October 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is The All Father Paradox by Ian Stuart Sharpe with 76% of the votes.


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

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

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

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

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





The Results

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner





The October 2018 Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October Winner

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


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



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




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

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

I was clearly a pretentious twelve-year-old.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

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



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

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

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

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



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

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



TQDescribe The All Father Paradox using only 5 words.

Ian:  What if the Vikings won?



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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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

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



TQDoes The All Father Paradox touch on any social issues?

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



TQWhat's next?

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



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





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

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, author of The All Father Paradox
What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves?

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

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

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





About Ian

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



Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @vikingverse

Twitter @IanStuartSharpe
2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December WinnerInterview with Adam Nemett, author of We Can Save Us AllInterview with Clay Sanger, author of EndsvilleInterview with Victor Godinez, author of The First ProtectorsInterview with W. L. Goodwater, author of Breach2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Debuts2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November Winner2018 Debut Author Challenge - December 2018 Debuts2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October WinnerInterview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, author of The All Father Paradox

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