The Qwillery | category: 2019 DAC Interview


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered

Please welcome Kacen Callendar to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Queen of the Conquered, their adult debut, was published on November 12, 2019 by Orbit.

Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered

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

Kacen:  Thank you! The first piece I remember writing was actually fanfiction when I was maybe about ten or eleven years old. It was for an anime called Card Captor Sakura, and I wrote an “alternate universe” fic based on The King and I. It was just as ridiculous as it sounds. As for original fiction, though, I was probably about sixteen and tried to write a fantasy novel about a girl who’d been raised on an island inhabited by only women. I still have pieces of the first draft somewhere on my laptop.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kacen:  I’m definitely a hybrid. I tend to write out a pretty loose, basic outline based on the beats from Save the Cat, and allow pantsing in between points, which could influence the outline and the direction of the story in ways I don’t always expect. There are also a lot of times when I don’t know the outline yet, so I pants until I get a better sense of the story, before writing out the beats.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kacen:  The most challenging thing right now is getting voices of critique and criticism out of my head and allowing myself to write the story I want to write, and continuing to believe in myself as an author. It can be very easy to persuade myself to give up on first drafts, and I have to work hard to force myself to keep going.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kacen:  Definitely other books and authors, movies and TV shows, and real-world events and society. For Queen of the Conquered, I was specifically influenced by the history of the Caribbean and novels like The Book of Night Women by Marlon James, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, and Octavia Butler.

TQDescribe Queen of the Conquered using only 5 words.

Kacen:  Brutal, unforgiving, lush, methodical, vengeful.

TQTell us something about Queen of the Conquered that is not found in the book description.

KacenQueen of the Conquered feels like a blend of historical fantasy and classic mysteries, and is often described as a cross between Shakespeare and Agatha Christie.

TQWhat inspired you to write Queen of the Conquered? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Kacen:  A number of things inspired me: the history of the Caribbean and the knowledge that Black people had once owned slaves were the initial spark of the idea years ago, but the story continued to develop and form in my mind as I experienced situations where I was an oppressed person with privilege, helping me to think more about Sigourney Rose’s character. I love writing SFF because these stories allow us to write metaphors and parallels to our real world that can help us writers and readers see our own world even more clearly.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Queen of the Conquered?

Kacen:  Most of the research was based in the language of the Fjern, or the colonizers of Queen of the Conquered. The setting is based on my own home islands of the US Virgin Islands. Before being bought by the United States, the USVI had been a part of the Danish West Indies. Because of that, a lot of the language in the novel is Danish. For example, “Fjern” means foreign, and “kraft,” or the magical ability throughout the book, translates to power—both magically and systematically.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Queen of the Conquered.

Kacen:  The cover was designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio, and I really lucked out—I think the cover is absolutely gorgeous. It depicts Sigourney with tropical flowers and a snake, which is a running theme throughout the book. My favorite part of the cover, though, is that it looks even more amazing beside the cover of the sequel, King of the Rising, which depicts Løren, a significant character in Queen of the Conquered and the main character in the second book.

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

Kacen:  The easiest character was Sigourney, because even if it was difficult to put myself into her head and imagine being a horrible human being committing atrocities, a lot of her character was also based on something I’ve experienced a lot in my life as a person who is both oppressed and discriminated against, and someone who has experienced privilege, and been in situations where the two intersect. It did take vulnerability, but because I understand this experience so deeply, it was easy to draw from. The most difficult character would be all of the Fjern and kongelig on the island. I had to put myself into the minds of colonizers and enslavers and make themselves seem viably acceptance and redeemable to themselves so that they’d feel realistic, but I did not want to seem like I was attempting to make them morally ambiguous or relatable characters—I had to show that the narrative and I as an author understand that they are unforgiveable characters.

TQ:  Which question about Queen of the Conquered do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kacen:  I wish someone would ask whether the spirits throughout Queen of the Conquered are real. The spirits aren’t real in the sense that this is a book, and it’s fiction, but I enjoy playing with the concept of reality and fantasy. For a lot of cultures and people, myself included, spirits are very much so real and revered, so while some readers might consider the spirits and ancestors in the world of Queen of the Conquered and King of the Rising as a part of the fantasy world, for me, they’re as real as the islands themselves.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Queen of the Conquered.

Kacen:  Storms and the constantly encroaching tide are both metaphors throughout the book, so I’ll go with this atmospheric line from the beginning of chapter nine:

The sky, normally so blue, turns gray—and by the end of the morning, the trade-winds breeze turns to a wind that lashes rain upon the islands, blackened storm clouds rolling over the hills and waves crashing into the cliffs of Hans Lollik Helle.

TQWhat's next?

Kacen:  I have three books coming out next year: first is the middle-grade King and the Dragonflies, out on February 4th. Next is the young-adult Felix Ever After, out on May 20th. And, finally, the sequel to Queen of the Conquered, King of the Rising, should be out in December of next year.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kacen:  Thanks so much for having me!

Queen of the Conquered
Islands of Blood and Storm 2
Orbit, November 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered
An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people — and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world — perfect for readers of S. A. Chakraborty, Ken Liu, and Tasha Suri.

About Kacen

Kacen Callender was born two days after a hurricane and was first brought home to a house without its roof. After spending their first eighteen years on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kacen studied Japanese, Fine Arts, and Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received their MFA from the New School. Kacen is the author of the middle grade novel Hurricane Child and the young adult novel This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story.

Website  ~  Twitter @kacencallender

Interview with Colleen Winter, author of The Gatherer

Please welcome Colleen Winter to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Gatherer is published on November 26, 2019 by Rebel Base Books.

Interview with Colleen Winter, author of The Gatherer

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

Colleen:  The first piece I remember writing was a poem about our cat in grade seven. The teacher read it to the class and I can remember being mortified.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Colleen:  I am a pantser. Because I am an engineer I had originally thought I would be a plotter but it wasn't until I started NOT plotting that things really took off for me as a writer.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Colleen:  Time. It's a bit of a cliché for writers to want more time but I often wish I had more time to sit with the ideas and plot points rather than perpetually being on deadline.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Colleen:  My whole life feeds into my writing process and my ideas. I'm interested in how everything is interconnected so I am continually being bombarded with images and ideas that are part of the greater whole. I read voraciously, and nothing inspires me more than a story brilliantly told (except for the ones that are so brilliant they are intimidating.)

TQDescribe The Gatherer using only 5 words.

Colleen:  Miracle energy tech delivers plague

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

Colleen:  There are two strong female characters in the book. Storm Freeman who creates the Gatherer and Maria Kowalski the soldier tasked with stopping her.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Gatherer? What appeals to you about writing Technothrillers?

Colleen:  My inspiration came from our conflicted relationship with energy. We often don't understand the choices we make when we choose to use a certain technology. As humans we rush to implement the latest tech without considering the consequences, and I am fascinated with exploring where that leads.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Gatherer?

Colleen:  I did extensive research for the book including on electromagnetic fields and how they affect the human body, electromagnetic sensitivity and its growing prevalence in modern times, acupuncture and how the energy fields in the body interact, and Nikola Tesla and his inventions.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Gatherer.

Colleen:  The cover is an amalgamation of the main characters in the book. It was designed by Cora Graphics who did a fantastic job.

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

Colleen:  Maria Kowalski was the easiest character to write since she is always moving and has a clear idea of what she needs to do and why. Storm Freeman was harder as she is more contemplative and has conflicting reactions to many of the events that occur. I love them both but Storm kept me on my toes.

TQDoes The Gatherer touch on any social issues?

Colleen:  The Gatherer deals partially with how we treat those that are sick and our refusal to recognize illnesses that are caused by things we don't understand. Being told 'It is all in your head' happens to many people suffering from illnesses that doctors can't diagnose or don't understand, in this case electromagnetic sensitivity.

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

Colleen:  Are there situations in the Gatherer that are true? Or that you believe are not far in our future?

Absolutely. The number of technologies that send electromagnetic fields (EMFs) into our environment are increasing all the time. Cell towers, electric vehicles, battery storage, high voltage power lines...all of them emit EMFs and we don't have any real understanding of the damage they cause in people's bodies, which rely on electrical signals to operate. There is a reason electromagnetic sensitivity is on the rise yet no one seems to have it on their radar.

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


"It says that we're dangerous."
Maria felt a strengthening in her core, that someone had recognized the damage that they could do if everything went right.
"We are dangerous."
Storm smiled suddenly, then laughed. A sound that did more for both of them than any food or water.
"I guess they better watch out then."

TQWhat's next?

Colleen:  The Gatherer is the first book in The Gatherer series. The second book is due out next year and I'm currently putting on the final touches. Once that is finished, I'll be starting on the third.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Gatherer
The Gatherer 1
Rebel Base Books, November 26, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 244 pages

Interview with Colleen Winter, author of The Gatherer
It Was Meant To Save Humanity
Not Destroy It

Storm Freeman gave the world a miracle. She designed The Gatherer to draw electromagnetic energy from the air and disperse free and infinite electricity to rural and underprivileged communities. Her invention helped people but devalued power industries. Some revered Storm as a deity. Others saw her as an eco-terrorist.

Then the miracle became a curse. The Gatherer unleashed a plague that damaged the human electrical system, bringing pain, suffering—and eventual death—to anyone continually exposed to the technology. Stricken herself, Storm goes into exile, desperate to find a cure—and destroy her invention.

But there are people in the government and in the corporation that funded The Gatherer who refuse to publicly acknowledge the connection between the device and the spreading plague. And they will stop at nothing to find Storm and use her genius for military applications . . .

About Colleen

Interview with Colleen Winter, author of The GathererColleen is a science-fiction junkie and uses her electrical engineering degree to create stories that walk the line between what is real and what is possible. In a previous life she worked as a journalist and now as a communications consultant in the Ontario electrical industry. She lives near Toronto, Canada and spends as much time as she can hiking the beautiful places of the world with her family and her dog.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @colleenwinter3

Interview with C.M. Waggoner, author of Unnatural Magic

Please welcome C.M. Waggoner to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Unnatural Magic was published on November 5, 2019 by Ace.

Interview with C.M. Waggoner, author of Unnatural Magic

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

C.M.  A truly terrible, fairly plotless stab at a fantasy novel when I was about fourteen – I think I gave up at it at about 150 pages in because I realized that I hadn’t thought as far as an ending!

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

C.M.  Definitely a hybrid. I tend to write a loose outline and then fill in the gaps as I go. In my experience trying to make things up as I go along just results in another document to add to my failed novel graveyard file.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

C.M.  I always tell people that the hardest thing about writing for me is getting the characters from one room to another. I always have scenes that I especially want to write in mind before I get started, but moving characters from one interesting scene to the next one is always a struggle!

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

C.M.  A combination of the fantasy I read as a kid and classic authors who wrote particularly beautiful or witty prose. My childhood fantasy favorites were probably Tamora Pierce, Monica Furlong and Diana Wynn Jones. In terms of classics Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler are big inspirations. If I think about adult fantasy authors who I admire, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and N.K. Jemisin top the list, though I’m so suggestible

TQDescribe Unnatural Magic using only 5 words.

C.M.  Trolls, humans, wizards and hijinks.

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

C.M.  There’s a romantic subplot that’s a pretty major part of the book that doesn’t show up in the book description, but it was one of my favorite parts of the book to write. I wanted to create a couple that didn’t look like the couples that I’m used to seeing in fiction, and I hope that readers enjoy what I came up with!

TQWhat inspired you to write Unnatural Magic? What appeals to you about writing Historical Fantasy?

C.M.  My initial inspiration came mostly from having consumed so much fantasy as a kid and young adult, and wanting to explore the tropes that I encountered in those books in a playful way. For example, with my depiction of trolls I wanted to tackle the trope of fantasy “races” who have homogenous cultures across their entire species (why do dwarves speak dwarvish when humans don’t speak “human”?) and are constantly at war with each other, and come up with a different way to imagine what it would look like if humans really did coexist with other peoples. In Unnatural Magic I imagined the relationship between the trolls and humans of Daeslund as being less like that between humans and orcs in The Lord of The Rings and more like the real-life relationship between the English and the French – sometimes at war, sometimes allies, and sometimes one completely conquering the other, to the point that it’s impossible to completely untangle where one culture ends and the other begins.

I’m not sure if I think of Unnatural Magic as historic fantasy, exactly, because to me the term brings to mind books that are more alternate history or fantasy retellings of historic events, and Unnatural Magic is definitely second-world fantasy! Basing my worldbuilding in a more Victorian/Regency-flavored culture than the more traditional medieval-style fantasy just made sense to me because I’m such a huge fan of Victorian lit and know little to nothing about the medieval period – I also knew I’d do a better job of worldbuilding based on a historic era that I’m familiar with than trying to make something up from scratch!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Unnatural Magic?

C.M.  Since it’s second-world fantasy I didn’t feel particularly constrained by getting facts about any particular place and time exactly right, but I did do research to try to make the level of technology fairly consistent across the board so that the world made sense – for example, I wanted to make sure that a town’s economy could be based on a pencil eraser factory in an era while trains are also a fairly new and somewhat alarming technology. I do own a couple of reference books about the Regency and Victorian era as well, and look forward to diving back into them as I flesh out the worldbuilding more in my next books.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Unnatural Magic.

C.M.  The cover art is by Tomas Almeida, and there are little clues for things that happen in the book hidden in the corners, like the apple and the heart. It was very fun brainstorming ideas for things to include!

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

C.M.  Jeckran was the easiest to write because his ways of thinking and speaking are the closest to my own. Onna was harder because I wanted to write her as a naturally feminine, socially adept people-pleaser, but when I was her age I bought my clothes from the men’s section and was pretty hopeless at interacting with my peers. I actually consulted with friends about their inner processes as teen girls in order to try to get it right, though I’m not sure how successful I was!

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


Q: Are there any enormous trolls sitting in tiny armchairs and drinking out of tiny teacups in your book?
A: Yes. Yes there are.

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


“You’re terribly clever, aren’t you? How very charming. You’re clever like me, and theatrical like me, and one always finds it so wonderfully enriching to spend time around people who are almost exactly like oneself.”

TQWhat's next?

C.M.  I’m currently almost done writing my second book, which takes place in the same world as Unnatural Magic but follows different characters – though there are guest appearances from some of the folks in Unnatural Magic.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Unnatural Magic
Ace, November 5, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with C.M. Waggoner, author of Unnatural Magic
A “brilliant and terrifically fun”* debut novel brings an enchanting new voice to fantasy.

Onna can write the parameters of a spell faster than any of the young men in her village school. But despite her incredible abilities, she’s denied a place at the nation’s premier arcane academy. Undaunted, she sails to the bustling city-state of Hexos, hoping to find a place at a university where they don’t think there’s anything untoward about providing a woman with a magical education. But as soon as Onna arrives, she’s drawn into the mysterious murder of four trolls.

Tsira is a troll who never quite fit into her clan, despite being the leader’s daughter. She decides to strike out on her own and look for work in a human city, but on her way she stumbles upon the body of a half-dead human soldier in the snow. As she slowly nurses him back to health, an unlikely bond forms between them, one that is tested when an unknown mage makes an attempt on Tsira’s life. Soon, unbeknownst to each other, Onna and Tsira both begin devoting their considerable talents to finding out who is targeting trolls, before their homeland is torn apart…

*Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians

About C.M. Waggoner

C.M. Waggoner is at work on her next novel.

Twitter @CMWaggoner2

Interview with Emma Sloley, author of Disaster's Children

Please welcome Emma Sloley to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Disaster's Children is published on November 5, 2019 by Little A.

Interview with Emma Sloley, author of Disaster's Children

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

Emma Sloley: When I was around 14 I wrote a story about a man who woke up to find he’d turned into an insect, and my high school English Literature teacher read the story out loud to the class and wanted to know if I had been inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I had literally never heard of Kafka. The moral of the story? We’re all influenced by the masters and the stories that have come before, even if only by osmosis.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

ES:  Oh, one hundred percent a plotter. The idea of starting to write a novel without any idea what’s going to happen makes me twitchy. I admire other writers who work that way but it’s definitely more my style to have a plan. I begin by writing fairly detailed outlines in sparse bullet point form, then I go back and fill each beat in with character details, phrases, snatches of dialogue, etc, and I keep adding to it until the outline document eventually gets too unwieldy. Then I know it’s time to start writing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

ES:  Overcoming my chronic need to procrastinate. Relatedly, the fact Twitter exists.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

ES:  I’ve always been very influenced by the writers whose work I admire. The problem with this is I’m highly susceptible to trying on the style or aesthetic of whoever I’m reading at any given time. As I grow and develop as a writer, though, I find myself better able to withstand that unconscious mirroring. Naturally I’m still influenced by other authors, but I’m starting to find my own voice and that is a really thrilling development.

TQDescribe Disaster's Children using only 5 words.

ESDoomsday prepping for conflicted millionaires. OR Coming-of-age in the pre-apocalypse (although it’s probably cheating counting compound phrases as one word!)

TQTell us something about Disaster's Children that is not found in the book description.

ES:  I think readers might be surprised to find that the dystopia heralded by the jacket copy isn’t the kind we’re used to seeing in fiction, in that the world still largely resembles the one we live in. (Of course, there’s an argument to be made that the world we live in is already a dystopia for a lot of people.) The other thing not mentioned in the description is that my protagonist, Marlo, is an adoptee. While that identity doesn’t have a huge impact on the story, it does subtly inform her worldview, especially with respect to the idea that she feels suspended between two worlds and is continually chasing a sense of belonging.

TQWhat inspired you to write Disaster's Children? What appeals to you about writing dystopian fiction?

ES:  I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic fiction, and I became fascinated with the idea of a world in which the apocalypse hadn’t yet happened, that precarious and loaded moment when change is still possible. I was also drawn to the idea of cults and other cloistered communities that exist on the fringes of society, but I wanted this community to be free of the usual hallmarks of cult life—a bedrock of religious zealotry; a single charismatic leader—and instead be entirely committed to rationalism, democratic decision-making, and secular living.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Disaster's Children?

ES:  I read a lot about climate change, obviously, as that is the huge existential threat hanging over the world of my novel. There is a truly depressing amount of material available, unfortunately, outlining the various ways in which the planet is being fucked up, perhaps irrevocably. I also kept reading about various billionaires who were buying up these tracts of land in remote, relatively pristine places like New Zealand as insurance against the coming environmental and humanitarian crises, and that became a fascinating rabbit hole of intel that cemented the decision to have my ranchers be a wealthy, extremely privileged set. The stereotype of doomsday preppers being these paranoid, disenfranchised hillbilly types is starting to feel outdated, and I wanted the book to reflect that subtle shift.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Disaster's Children.

ES:  I adore the cover, which was designed by an incredibly talented artist named Kimberly Glyder. It conveys the precise mood I wanted—a scene depicting the natural world that is both beautiful and unsettling, as if something terrible is lurking just beyond the misty forest. I also love the addition of the little bee next to my name. Bees have a small role to play in the novel, but more broadly, they’ve come to symbolize the extreme peril our natural world is in from pollution, deforestation, and the threat of species extinction, so they are to me a poignant symbol of life’s fragility.

TQIn Disaster's Children who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

ES:  Kenneth was one of the most fun characters to write. He’s perhaps the most important member of the ranch in that he possesses an incredibly clear vision and has such moral clarity about the urgency of the moment. He’s passionate about building a self-sustaining society and working hard towards that but tortured by the suspicion the other ranchers don’t take the mission as seriously. He’s also unrequitedly in love with Marlo and resentful of Wolf. He’s this wonderful amalgam of virtue and anger, and those contradictory impulses drive every decision he makes. Wolf was more difficult in that he has secrets that could only be revealed gradually, and characters that have an unreliable aspect are always tricky to portray—you want a reader to be intrigued but not frustrated by the gaps in their story.

TQDoes Disaster's Children touch on any social issues?

ES:  It’s probably fairly clear to anyone who’s read this far that yes, it absolutely does. Climate change and its attendant crises are an existential threat to both human and non-human life on this planet, and while that is self-evidently terrible, as a narrative theme it’s so rich with possibility. I wanted to explore not only the physical threats but the huge psychological effects that eco-anxiety is having on people, and the various ways in which humans around the world might deal with that. Do we become activists and agitate for change? Do we hide away in our compounds pretending it’s not happening or hoping to survive the worst of it? These are the moral questions at the heart of the story, and I hope they provide a compelling reason to stick around and find out which my characters choose!

TQWhich question about Disaster's Children do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

ES:  What does the title mean? Well, funny you should ask! The ranchers refer to the outside world as “The Disaster,” and I decided to personify this idea for the title. If Disaster is the parent then the children are all of us, humankind, and the legacy we’re inheriting is a world rapidly becoming uninhabitable. The question at the heart of the story (and any story about families, I suppose) is: will we doom the next generation or save it?

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Disaster's Children.

ESSome things were so beautiful you never got used to them.

“Better to be safe than sorry.” She said it without thinking, but the creaky aphorism sounded suddenly ominous to her ears, as if after all there had only ever been a binary choice between safety and regret.

And all the while the wall grew higher, stone by stone.

TQWhat's next?

ES:  I’m already well into writing my second and third novels. My next novel is about a woman who reluctantly agrees to help run a hotel in upstate New York with her husband only to have a tragedy blow her life apart, while my third is a return to some of the themes I explored in Disaster’s Children—two families return to a devastated coastal town and must learn to live together in the shadow of environmental and emotional catastrophe.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

ES:  Thank you so much for inviting me to take part!

Disaster's Children
Little A, November 5, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and Kindle eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Emma Sloley, author of Disaster's Children
As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind.

Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. For as long as Marlo can remember, the unknown that lies beyond the borders of her utopia has been a curious obsession. But just as she plans her escape into the chaos of the real world, a charismatic new resident gives her a compelling reason to stay. And, soon enough, a reason to doubt—and to fear—his intentions.

Now, feeling more and more trapped in a paradise that’s become a prison, Marlo has a choice: stay in the only home she’s ever known—or break away, taking its secrets of survival with her.

Set in a chillingly possible, very near future, Disaster’s Children is a provocative debut novel about holding on to what we know and letting go of it for the unknown and the unknowable.

About Emma

Interview with Emma Sloley, author of Disaster's Children
Photo by Adam McCulloch
Emma Sloley began her career as a features editor at Harper's BAZAAR Australia, where she worked for six years. In 2004, she and her husband made the move to New York. As a freelance travel writer in NYC, she has appeared in many US and international magazines, including Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and New York magazine. She has also published fiction, short fiction, and creative nonfiction in literary publications such as Catapult, The Masters Review Anthology, and Yemassee Journal. Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and she has received a fellowship from the MacDowell Colony, where she wrote her debut novel, Disaster's Children. Today she divides her time between the United States, Mexico, and various airport lounges. Visit her at

Twitter @Emma_Sloley

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Please welcome Alix E. Harrow to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was published on September 10, 2019 by Redhook.

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

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

Alix:  My mom had an MS DOS game where you could write and illustrate picture books (if anyone played this and remembers what it was called, @ me on Twitter, Google has failed me). When I was five or six I wrote a story about a little girl whose wicked mother tried to make her eat poison bread. It was titled, “The Poison Bread.” I peaked early.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Alix:  Like most writers, I’m actually a cobbled-together mess of strategies and schemes, most of which collapse at the first sign of any actual writing. I employ elaborate outlines, but I’ve recently admitted to myself that those outlines are almost always lies. They serve more as a very, very rough first draft than as a map.

In conclusion, I would like to phone a friend.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alix:  The crushing terror that each decent idea I have—each decent sentence I write—is the last one. That there is a finite number of good words assigned to each person and I used all mine up being funny on the groupchat with my brothers or sending overwrought emails to my college friends.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Alix:  Not be glib, but the answer is literally everything. Twitter threads and podcasts and talking about Twitter-threads and podcasts with my husband; good music and bad music and in-between music I can perfectly tune out to think about other things; paperback romances and my kid’s picture books and Spiderverse. Someone mentioned that my book reminded them of the movie The Journey of Natty Gann, and I realized in a single blinding flash that Natty Gann is a girl-and-her-dog-questing-across-historical-America-to-find-her-father story that deeply informed The Ten Thousand Doors.

TQDescribe The Ten Thousand Doors of January using only 5 words.

Alix:  Girl finds door; adventures ensue.

TQTell us something about The Ten Thousand Doors of January that is not found in the book description.

Alix:  There are a lot of footnotes, y’all. Like, from the book-flap you might go in thinking this is a fast-paced YA adventure full of hijinks and possibly sword-play, but I just want you to know that it shares more DNA with Jonathan Strange than with, say, Six of Crows.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Ten Thousand Doors of January?

Alix:  I started with a childhood love of portal fantasies and a lonely kid’s longing to find a door on the back acres of her Kentucky hayfield, and then waded into postcolonial theory. In grad school I studied race and empire in turn of the century British children’s literature, which meant I reevaluated a lot of my formative books and started to wonder what it would look like if I turned a portal fantasy inside out and backwards, and made it about homegoing rather than conquering some mythical, foreign land.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ten Thousand Doors of January? Why did you set the novel in the early 1900s?

Alix:  I’d argue the six years I spent getting an undergrad and then a graduate degree in history were the bulk of my research, although no number of degrees is going to fill in all the practical, mundane details you need to write a novel (like: where were the rural train stations located in 1911? How much was a laundry-worker paid per hour?). And no number of degrees is going to really, genuinely illuminate the lived experiences of people of color in the American past—that required a lot of extracurricular reading of memoirs and letters from women in similar circumstances to January.

And I chose the turn of the twentieth century because it was in many ways the peak of global imperialism. Because every empire believed in that moment their horizons would stretch on forever, that their suns would never set. One of the conceits in the book is that Doors introduce change and upheaval, and are the natural enemies of the status quo; I wanted to choose a historical moment where that effect was palpable.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  The Orbit/Redhook team very generously asked if I had any particular cover ideas, early on. I sent them a very excitable list of possibilities, which they wisely and humanely disposed of, before sending me Lisa Marie Pompilio’s brilliant cover. There wasn’t any back and forth or nit-picking or adjusting, because it was perfect and everyone knew it. She hadn’t captured anything actually, specifically from the story, but she’d captured the feeling—wonder and mystery and things waiting just out of sight.

TQIn The Ten Thousand Doors of January who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alix:  Every character was difficult to write, because characterization is the thing I’m worst at. It comes to me slowly, rising to the surface through a dozen drafts. (But the actual answer is: Adelaide was the easiest because she’s based on my own mom, and Samuel was the hardest because he’s based on my husband and therefore almost too good to be true).

TQDoes The Ten Thousand Doors of January touch on any social issues?

Alix:  I would argue that every novel--and every book, and every grocery list, probably--touches on social issues. Many people have said it better than me, but essentially: all stories are political, it’s just that some of their politics are so near the status-quo that some of us don’t notice them.

In conclusion: hell yes it touches on social issues.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  Weirdly, the line that’s stuck with me as the most practical and useful is: “Hearts aren’t chessboards and they don’t play by the rules.”

TQWhat's next?

Alix:  My next project is another standalone historical fantasy! This one is pitched as “suffragists, but witches,” set around the early American women’s movement except instead of fighting for the vote, they’re fighting for the return of women’s magic. It’s still in hideous, shambling draft-form right now, but it’s getting there!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alix:  Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Redhook, September 10, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

About Alix

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Alix E. Harrow is a part-time historian with a full-time desk job, a lot of opinions, and excessive library fines. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Strange Horizons,, Apex, and other venues. She and her husband live in Kentucky under the cheerful tyranny of their kids and pets. Find her at @AlixEHarrow on Twitter

Website  ~  Twitter @AlixEHarrow

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day

Please welcome Sarah Pinsker to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Song for a New Day was published on September 10, 2019 by Berkley.

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day

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

Sarah:  I wrote horse stories starting when I was around eight. I think some of them were just rewrites of books I'd liked. The kind of thing where there's a scruffy-looking horse about to go to auction, and the girl buys the horse for one dollar more than the meat buyers, and the horse turns out to be super fancy once he's healed/groomed/trained. I think my first genre story had to do with an open-mic singer taking bids on his soul from god and the devil. On brand.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sarah:  I would normally say I'm an unrepentant pantser, but I had to turn in an outline for the novel I'm currently working on, and I have to admit it was a surprisingly fun and interesting process. It let me ask a lot of questions of the book early on that would normally have taken me a while to reach through trial and error and discovery. So...still a pantser, but with a new appreciation for the other modes? Does that make me a hybrid? My rebel spirit is still in pantsing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sarah:  These days it's a physical/mental thing. My usual writing spaces aren't feeling comfortable right now. I think maybe I need a standing desk. Once I'm writing I'm good, but getting to the point of sitting down and focusing is taking me more time than it used to, and staying seated is taking more discipline than it used to. We also adopted a new dog recently, and he's very good at convincing me I'd rather be playing with him.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sarah:  What doesn't influence my writing? I guess I write a lot of stories rooted in place. I love traveling and I've been a lot of places. I love the challenge of trying to get at the heart of a place. Music. New technologies and my own paranoia about them. Dreams. Misread road signs, strange coincidences...

TQDescribe A Song For A New Day using only 5 words.

Sarah:  Live music. Found family. Connection.

TQTell us something about A Song For A New Day that is not found in the book description.

Sarah:  The description makes the black and white/good and bad distinction between the Before and After periods the book describes, which makes it seem like the former was fine, and after is dystopic. The book has more shades of gray. I tried to acknowledge that the world we live in now, ostensibly the Before, is already dystopic for some people. There are aspects of the After that are better, or different in a not-entirely-bad way. Even characters who disapprove of the corporate shenanigans acknowledge some positive results of the changes. I find those shades far more interesting to write than a simple everything's-not-awesome dystopia.

TQWhat inspired you to write A Song For A New Day? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular a dystopian novel?

SarahA Song For A New Day takes place in the same world as one of my previous stories, "Our Lady of the Open Road." I realized I had more to say about this world, and that there was more to explore than the slice of future tour life that story showed. There are so many interesting future music technologies, both for listening and for live music, but we're also living in a time where people have more and more distractions at home. Everything competes with the bands who are out there playing small clubs every night. I wanted to explore all sides of that question, and look at a future where some people might have even more reason to stay home, and some people might fight it.

I love science fiction for the expanded palette it provides. I like the "what ifs" and Theodore Sturgeon's "ask the next question." Many aspects of this novel reflect today's hopes and fears, but it's easier to look at those from a slight distance. It's an exaggeration of one possible path. This story takes place in a very near future, but you still need those world building tools to get there.

I didn't actually put the dystopia label on it myself, though in retrospect it obviously is one. In my head, it's just an exploration of a possible future.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Song For A New Day?

Sarah:  This book took less research than a lot of short stories. The music stuff was stuff I knew. A little about VR and AR, I guess? I had to double check how long some of the distances between cities would take if highways weren't options for your rebel human-driven van.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Song For A New Day.

Sarah:  The cover was done by Jason Booher. I don't know who the photo captures. It reminds me of a couple of singers, but I don't know if it is actually any of them. It's not meant to represent a particular character. I had asked for a cover that looked like a DIY rock show poster, and this is exactly that.

TQIn A Song For A New Day who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sarah:  I wrote about Luce previously in a story called "Our Lady of the Open Road," and part of why I returned to her was that her voice was so easy to slip into. She voices a lot of my own concerns. Rosemary was a little more challenging. Fun, also; there's an interesting challenge in trying to see the whole world through the eyes of someone who has never been anywhere or done anything. Rosemary consistently surprised me in her reactions to things. She made me look for the positives in the so-called dystopia I'd created, since it was the only world she'd ever known, and she didn't mind it all that much. Finding the positives was itself more difficult than the bad-made-worse parts.

TQDoes A Song For A New Day touch on any social issues?

Sarah:  Lots! The big ones involve the trauma that we're all living right now. Guns and the constant threat of violence. Our societal willingness to trade freedom for safety instead of addressing the root problem. School inequities. Prisons. Corporations. Data privacy.

I wanted to make this future one where, even though it's dystopic in many ways, some of our current problems have been addressed and have become non-issues. Accessibility in devices and the physical world. Asking before hugging people. Pronoun pins. It's not a perfect world – racism and homophobia still exist – but in the context of the spaces these characters inhabit, they've sought places where people would be striving to both see those situations and improve upon them. I wanted to normalize seeing differences and acknowledging them and then moving on from there to form community. I love, love, love writing queer characters and just letting them exist in community with each other. As in real life, we find each other, and support each other. I think letting multiple queer characters exist in a novel where queerness isn't the point is still a statement of its own, and I can't wait until it's not.

TQWhich question about A Song For A New Day do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: "Beyond the novelette 'Our Lady of the Open Road,' have you written or do you plan to write anything else about these characters?"

I adore standalone novels, and this is meant to be a standalone as far as these main characters are concerned, but I've written stories about some of the peripheral characters. There's an inventor/musician named Katja in the book who was the protagonist of my story "A Song Transmuted," which appeared in the Cyber World anthology and was reprinted in Sunspot Jungle and the upcoming A Punk Rock Future anthology. My story in the Apex Do Not Go Quietly anthology has a cameo from another character, Joni, as a kid.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Song For A New Day.


"There were, to my knowledge, one hundred and seventy-two ways to wreck a hotel room."

"Fear is a virus. Music is a virus, and a vaccine, and a cure."

TQWhat's next?

Sarah:  I'm working on another near-future novel right now, set in a different near future. There's a dark fantasy novelette called "Two Truths and a Lie" that'll be on, but I think that might not show up until next year. And I have a dozen short stories I'm dying to finish and send out into the world.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

A Song for a New Day
Berkley, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day
In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.

In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world–her music, her purpose–is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law.

Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery–no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.

About Sarah

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day
Photo © Emily Osborne
Sarah Pinsker‘s Nebula and Sturgeon Award-winning short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, F&SF, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, as well as numerous other magazines, anthologies, year’s bests, podcasts, and translation markets. She is also a singer/songwriter who has toured nationally behind three albums on various independent labels. Her first collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea, was released in early 2019 by Small Beer Press. This is her first novel. She lives with her wife in Baltimore, Maryland.

Website  ~  Twitter @SarahPinsker

Interview with Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

Please welcome Shaun Hamill to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Cosmology of Monsters is published on September 17, 2019 by Pantheon.

Interview with Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

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

Shaun:  The first piece of fiction I remember was a story I wrote for “Young Author’s Day” at my school in 4th grade. I’m pretty sure it was a straight rip-off of the first Star Wars movie and the X-Men cartoon version of Days of Future Past. It had Sentinels and a Death Star. My teacher liked it, though, and so did my classmates. I’ve been chasing that approval-high ever since.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Shaun:  I’m a hybrid. I’ve tried both methods “pure” and neither quite works for me. If I plot too much, the story can get stale and boring, but if I don’t plot at all, I write myself into a corner. I like to plot a little ahead and leave plenty of blank space ahead of me so I can surprise myself (and hopefully, by extension, my reader).

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Does living " the dark woods of Alabama..." affect (or not) your writing?

Shaun:  The most challenging thing about writing is coming up with a project that marries an interesting plot to a strong emotional hook. I’ve come up with lots of great ideas for stories, but haven’t been able to write them because I had trouble caring about the characters. If I’m not invested in the people, the best high concept in the world won’t save me.

          Living in the dark woods of Alabama has been good for my writing, I think. I grew up in a big suburb, nothing but concrete as far as I could see, and Alabama has a lot of unspoiled nature. It’s a haunted place, quiet and foggy, full of decaying houses and abandoned gas stations on winding roads. It’s the perfect place for dark daydreaming.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Shaun:  My earliest influences were movies. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a filmmaker, and I spent most of high school writing screenplays. I think that cinematic mindset shows in my fiction. I’m a scene-focused writer and I’m still learning character interiority and how to summarize big swatches of time.

          I was always a reader, as well. I read a lot of Stephen King and Anne Rice and John Irving as a kid, and I think their influence is all over A Cosmology of Monsters too.

          The other big influence on my writing was a great creative writing teacher at the University of Texas at Arlington—her name is Laura Kopchick, and she still teaches there. She was the first person to take my writing ambition seriously, and she mentored me even after I graduated from college. Everything she told me to read, I read. She taught me how to pay attention to language and character, and to move beyond simple twist-ending plots and easy clichés into murkier, more interesting narrative territory. I’m still trying to impress her whenever I write something.

TQDescribe A Cosmology of Monsters using only 5 words.

Shaun:  A literary horror family saga.

TQTell us something about A Cosmology of Monsters that is not found in the book description.

ShaunA Cosmology of Monsters is secretly a bunch of love stories disguised as a horror novel.

TQWhat inspired you to write A Cosmology of Monsters? What appeals to you about writing Horror / Dark Fantasy?

Shaun:  I’d always wanted to write a book about a family running a business, and I went to a lot of haunted houses in my 20s. At some point the two ideas melded. I was curious—what sort of people run a haunted house? What’s it like to take your lunch break while your customers are screaming themselves silly a few feet down the hall? What’s it like to dress as a monster for weeks, months, or years on end? It felt like a perfect backdrop for a troubled family.

          As to your second question, I’ve been thinking a lot about the appeal of horror and dark fantasy lately. I’ve always been drawn to both, but not for gore, or even terror. What I love about the genres is the sense of dark wonder they can provide—a glimpse beyond the veil at things unknown and unguessed. Strange things at the corners of our reality, waiting to step in. I get the same feeling when I drive down a twisting Alabama road at night, with no illumination but the moon and my headlights. Shadows flicker in the woods to my left and right, and I know it’s probably just a trick of the light, but maybe … maybe not.

          This sense of mystery is my favorite feeling in fiction and in life.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Cosmology of Monsters?

Shaun:  On the literature side, I read all of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, and any scholarship/criticism of his work that I could find. I also read some surveys of the history of horror fiction, re-read my favorite Stephen King novels, and dipped my toes into other horror writers—Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Ligotti, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, etc.—to try and round out my understanding of the tradition I was writing in.

          For the haunted house stuff, some of it is adapted from real life. I did theater in high school, so I was familiar with the process of putting together an amateur production—sets, makeup, lines to memorize, etc. All of that translated easily enough to the haunted house milieu. I also got to tour a closed haunted house while I was working on a short film a few years ago, and seeing the place with all the lights on made a lasting impression (and was another inspiration for the book).

          In addition to my personal experience, I watched every documentary about haunted house attractions that I could find. I solicited stories from friends, googled how-to articles, watched web series, listened to podcasts, and trolled Internet forums. Basically I used every resource I could think of!

TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Cosmology of Monsters.

The cover illustration is by Na Kim, and the jacket was designed by Kelly Blair. It was their first pass at the cover for the book, and everyone on the Cosmology publishing team loved it so much that we never tried another. To stay spoiler-free, I’ll just say I think it’s an image that sums up the themes of the book very nicely.

TQIn A Cosmology of Monsters who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Shaun:  Noah’s sister Eunice was the easiest to write. I never had trouble locating her emotional state in a scene, or knowing what she was going to say. She was a gentle presence, easy to spend time with. Margaret, Noah’s mother, was the hardest, because she has the longest, most complex arc in the book. Without giving too much away, the book features some big jumps in time, and Margaret’s state of mind was always the toughest to locate each time I started a new section. It was also a tricky balancing act, because I wanted her to be sympathetic but also cold and pragmatic.

TQDoes A Cosmology of Monsters touch on any social issues?

Shaun:  Yes. It deals with religion, sexuality, and gender power dynamics, among other things.

TQWhich question about A Cosmology of Monsters do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


          Q: Will you write a sequel?

          A: Yes! If the book does well and somebody lets me! I think there’s at least one or two more stories to tell in this world if people want them.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Cosmology of Monsters.

Shaun:  I really love the opening, and that’s about as non-spoilery as it gets!
          I started collecting my older sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was ten years old. I still keep them all in my bottom desk drawer, held together with a black binder clip. They were among the only things I was allowed to bring with me, and I’ve read through them often the last few months, searching for comfort, wisdom, or even just a hint that I’ve made the right choices for all of us.
          Eunice eventually discovered that I was saving her missives and began addressing them to me. In one of my favorites, she writes, “Noah, there is no such thing as a happy ending. There are only good stopping places.”
          My family is spectacularly bad at endings. We never handle them with grace. But we’re not great with beginnings, either. For example, I didn’t know the first quarter of this story until recently, and spent the better part of my youth and young adulthood lingering like Jervas Dudley around the sealed tombs of our family’s history. It’s exactly that sort of heartache I want to prevent for you, whoever you are. For that to happen, I have to start at the outermost edges of the shadow over my family, with my mother, tall, fair-skinned and redheaded Margaret Byrne, in the fall of 1968.

TQWhat's next?

Shaun:  I’m working on a new novel right now. I don’t want to say too much because I’m superstitious, but I will say I’m excited about the project. It’s more ambitious than Cosmology, but still in the dark fantasy genre. I hope I’ll be able to finish and share it sooner rather than later!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Shaun:  Thanks so much for having me! I hope you and your readers will check out A Cosmology of Monsters and let me know what you think! I’m in all the usual places—FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc.—and I’d love to hear from you (as long as you’re nice)!

A Cosmology of Monsters
Pantheon, September 17, 2019
Hardcover and ebook, 336 pages

Interview with Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters
“If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it.” —Stephen King

Noah Turner see monsters.

His father saw them—and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates.

His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe—too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.

And his eldest sister, the dramatic and vulnerable Sydney, won’t admit to seeing anything but the beckoning glow of the spotlight . . . until it swallows her up.

Noah Turner sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in . . .

About Shaun

Interview with Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters
Photo © Rebekah H. Hamill
A native of Arlington, Texas, SHAUN HAMILL holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in the dark woods of Alabama with his wife, his in-laws, and his dog. A Cosmology of Monsters is his first novel.

Website  ~  Twitter @shaunhamill  ~  Facebook

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood

Please welcome Kassandra Montag to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. After the Flood was published on September 3, 2019 by William Morrow.

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kassandra:  I’m a hybrid. I start as a pantser—I write snippets of scene and dialogue and take notes until I have enough rough material to start evaluating everything. I need to have a strong narrator’s voice, main characters, a solid premise, and a rough idea of the various plot points. Then I look at what I have and outline. Afterwards, I write a full draft, often deviating from the outline and making substantial changes as I go.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kassandra:  Trusting the process can be difficult if it’s been a long, hard writing day. But really, translating what is in my imagination and making it real for the reader remains the most challenging—and most rewarding part about writing.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kassandra:  A variety of influences all came to bear on this novel: Viking sagas, early American Western adventure tales, environmental documentaries, contemporary post-apocalyptic storytelling, and my personal experience of motherhood. Other influences include the post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels The Road and The Handmaid’s Tale. A nature/animal documentary called The Last Lions also shaped my desire to write a tale that felt both epic and personal at the same time.

TQDescribe After the Flood using only 5 words.

Kassandra:  Adventure, Courage, Hope, Survival, Love

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

Kassandra:  I’ll go a step further and share something that was in my notes for After the Flood, but I didn’t have room to include in detail in the novel. In the beginning the book briefly summarizes how countries and governments collapsed during the flood. The thing I didn’t have room for was describing my vision of a Second Civil War in the U.S.—this time a war of the coasts at war with the middle of the country. I imagined that as the coasts lost all their major cities, they depended more and more on resources in the middle of the country. Immigration and resource scarcity placed pressure on regions that already harbored resentment and a urban/rural divide, resulting in a brief Second Civil War.

TQWhat inspired you to write After the Flood?

Kassandra:  It came from the confluence of a dream, an image, and a line in my journal. The dream was of a wave of water coming across the prairie, all the way from the oceans, a flood that spanned the whole continent. After having this dream, I saw the image of a mother on a boat in a future flooded world, sailing with one daughter, but separated from her other daughter. Years before I had the flood dream, I had another image that kept recurring in my mind’s eye and that I detailed in my journal: “A group of people huddle around a campfire, struggling to survive and looking for a safe haven.” These two storylines, of a mother separated from her daughter in a flood, and a group of people trying to survive, began to brush up against each other, suggesting possibilities.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for After the Flood?

Kassandra:  My research included: accounts of the Bajau people who partially live on the water in Southeast Asia, stories from ancient seafaring tribes such as the Vikings, and contemporary guide books on survival techniques such as building fires, fishing, etc.
In imagining the flood itself I was inspired by scientific research, namely an article in the New Scientist about how three times the Earth’s water was stored under the Earth’s crust in hydrate form. So I imagined what it would be like if that trapped water could somehow be released to the Earth’s surface in liquid form, exploding up from the depths.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for After the Flood.

Kassandra:  The cover for After the Flood is an abstracted picture of the sky and sea. It has glorious colors and in the image you cannot see the horizon—the sea and sky blend together. The novel depicts a world in which the horizon has moved dramatically and I loved how the designer captured this sense of sky and sea merging in a way that is both beautiful and dramatic.

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

Kassandra:  Pearl was the easiest character to write, perhaps because she is a child and does not have ulterior motives the way other characters do. She is more purely herself, less torn by the demands of survival. Also, because she was born in this flooded environment, she seems to deal with it in a more natural way than some of the other characters. The hardest character to write was Jacob because I had trouble getting into his head and understanding his motivations for abandoning part of his family.

TQDoes After the Flood touch on any social issues?

Kassandra:  Yes, it touches on wealth distribution, climate change, immigration, colonialization, and nation building.

TQWhich question about After the Flood do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kassandra:  What is a central theme of After the Flood?

After the Flood is partly about the role selfishness and selflessness play in the fight for survival. I was interested in how the survival instinct can be inherently selfish in a dangerous world without enough resources and if there are ways to transcend that. I was also curious about the way that survival can be seen as selfless—an act of love through carrying on.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from After the Flood.


“Children think we make them, but we don’t. They exist somewhere else, before us, before time. They come into the world and make us. They make us by breaking us first.”

“But other times, when everything was so dark out on the sea that I felt already erased, it seemed like a kindness that life before the floods had gone on for as long as it did. Like a miracle without a name.”

“I don’t know how to talk to Pearl about what lay beneath us. Farms that fed the nation. Small houses built on quiet residential streets for the post-World War II baby boom. Moments of history between walls. The whole story of how we moved through time, marking the earth with our needs.”

TQWhat's next?

Kassandra:  I’m currently working on my next novel, a gothic murder mystery.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kassandra:  Thank you!!

After the Flood
William Morrow, September 3, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood
An inventive and riveting epic saga, After the Flood signals the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.

A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.

Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.

On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.

A compulsively readable novel of dark despair and soaring hope, After the Flood is a magnificent, action packed, and sometimes frightening odyssey laced with wonder—an affecting and wholly original saga both redemptive and astonishing.

About Kassandra

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood
Photo by Nancy Kohler
Kassandra Montag is a poet and novelist. Her work has appeared in Mystery Weekly Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and Prairie Schooner, among other literary journals. She has won the Plainsongs Award, New Year's Poet Award, and 1877 Award.

Website  ~  Facebook

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga

Please welcome Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Resurrectionist of Caligo was published on September 10, 2019 by Angry Robot.

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga

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

Wendy:  At some point in second grade, I made the leap from “plagiarizing” Misty of Chincoteague to creating an original popup book about a dinosaur with a time machine who befriends a petite dino-fairy…and I can’t say my stylistic tendencies have significantly changed much since then.

Alicia:  Everything I wrote before a certain age is a foggy blank, so all that remains is my high fantasy novel that I started in high school. There was amnesia! There were dark family secrets! And characters introduced only to be killed a few chapters later! It goes without saying it was epic in length.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Wendy:  I am an incorrigible pantser and chaos fairy. Left to my own devices, once I find a character voice that intrigues me, I will chase them around and make them increasingly miserable because their tears bring me great joy.

Alicia:  I’m a pantser who aspires to be a plotter until I actually sit down and start typing and suddenly nothing goes the way I planned in my head.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing together?

Wendy:  Figuring out the lines of demarcation—what’s mine, what’s yours, and in what circumstances may we cross that line? With one exception, all the characters fall into either a “Wendy” or “Alicia” bucket—this determined who had the final say on that character’s voice, motivation etc. While we (usually) drafted our respective POV character’s chapters, we also heavily edited in one another’s sections to ensure the cross-over character voices and overall tone stayed consistent throughout.

Alicia:  Giving up full creative control. It’s something that’s very easy to take for granted, but it’s definitely the most challenging aspect of working together. We have different likes and dislikes, different writing habits, and different ways of attacking the work. So when we set about discovering characters and setting, we constantly need to open ourselves to what the other person wants to bring to the table regardless of whether or not it’s an aspect we naturally would have included on our own.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Wendy:  I have a soft spot for dark, offbeat, obscure lit, especially if it challenges me emotionally, and I do my best to learn from eclectic reading. Writing is how I’ve dealt with past trauma in my life, and so I tend to reach for the biggest, scariest, emotions I can, then inundate my characters with everything I can throw at them. They do the work for me. I find myself writing a lot about death—it’s cathartic.

Alicia:  My influences tend to be mercurial, and they’re never limited to one medium. For instance, this week, I’m absolutely in love with Isak Danielson’s song Power, TwoSetViolin YouTube videos, re-watching episodes of Justified, and reading about the history of safecracking. And all of that is getting baked into what I’m writing at the moment, whether through mood, inspiration, or as research.

TQDescribe The Resurrectionist of Caligo using only 5 words.

Wendy:  magic is fake, hail science! (don’t mind me, I’m just trolling my co-author. #TeamScience)

Alicia:  (I see how it is… #RealMagic) mysterious happenings and unrequited angst

TQTell us something about The Resurrectionist of Caligo that is not found in the book description.

Wendy:  Books are frequently discussed according to their central romantic relationships, but what about other key relationships? One of my personal favorites is Roger’s friendship with a ferocious graveyard-haunting wild child.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Resurrectionist of Caligo?

Wendy:  It all started as a “for fun” writing exercise. Alicia emailed me a letter that began “Dear Snotsniffer” (uh…it’s still in the final draft) and that set the tone for our character’s snarky exchanges around which the entire book is built on. She let me pick the setting (gothic Victorian cemeteries!) and is still regretting that decision.

Alicia:  On a very basic level, I just wanted to try a fun letter exchange writing exercise and somehow managed to convince Wendy to participate as the other half. I actually didn’t go into the project with very many expectations of what it would be.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Resurrectionist of Caligo?

Wendy:  I am fascinated by morbid history, and this book provided ample excuses for procrastination—err, research. I read 200-year-old (digital) copies of The Lancet medical journal to learn bloodletting techniques, collected necropolis photographs, perused poems written to commemorate hangings. In an emergency, I could probably extricate a corpse from a coffin using an old Scottish method…

Alicia:  I wanted the magic to have its root in aquatic life, so I spent a good deal of time exploring different sea creatures—from jellyfish to squids to the mighty pistol shrimp—and their various underwater traits. I also read up on how to address royalty in letters and greetings and how pet names were created within royal families. And then there was the concertina… Despite very few scenes making it through the editing process with the princess actually playing the instrument, I myself watched endless videos and listened to several performances in an attempt to get a feel for how one would play the instrument. I even contemplated buying my own concertina at one point, but fortunately reason prevailed, as I’m sure I’d be even worse at learning the thing than Sibylla is in the book.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Resurrectionist of Caligo.

Wendy:  Our amazing cover artist John Coulthart ( couldn’t have designed a more fitting cover. It features our leads, Sibylla and Roger, who are aptly facing away from each other (they’ve had a falling out from the start). Sibylla has a hand raised, and her ink-magic flows in ribbons around the border. Meanwhile, “Man of Science” Roger holds a skull and stares down his biggest fear. My favorite detail is the central anatomical heart, which I think sums up their strained relationship perfectly.

Alicia:  And if you want to know more, check out this post where the artist specifically discusses the challenge of creating our particular cover:

TQIn The Resurrectionist of Caligo who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Wendy:  Ada the ferocious waif was pretty easy—I subverted the sweet Cosette type and channeled Maddie Ziegler from the Sia music videos. Roger was more challenging in his complexity. Male protagonists in SFF often exude power, logic, and/or sexual appeal. Roger gets the short end of the stick in every department except the soft heart he shields behind a defensive, snarky voice. Since he’s more flawed cinnamon bun than action hero, I couldn’t let him bust heads to solve his problems (and he has many).

Alicia:  For me, the easiest was Harrod, Roger’s naval captain older brother. He’s a straightforward individual and has very defined ways of behaving with the other characters in the book. I didn’t really feel like any character was hard to write so much as almost every character had a challenging rewrite moment/scene. Rewrites tend to require the extras: extra explanations, extra understanding, extra delivery of head canon, which makes them trickier.

TQDoes The Resurrectionist of Caligo touch on any social issues?

Wendy:  Class differences play a big role in the book. Near the bottom of the social hierarchy, Roger has pride but virtually no power, so he rages ineffectually against the system while trying (and failing) to live his life outside it.

Alicia:  There’s a lot of exploration of position and how that position can vary in different contexts. Sibylla, as a princess, has a great deal of power over the vast majority of society in the book, however, within her own family, she has very little freedom or ability to exercise her own will.

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

Alicia:  What’s up with Sibylla’s parents? So glad you asked… It was very important to me when writing Sibylla that she not be the orphaned princess who tragically lost her parents or the horribly mistreated princess suffering under the weight of her nefarious, overbearing parent(s) who wants to take over the world. In many ways, Sibylla’s parents are lovingly absentee, and Sibylla absolutely adores them. Her mother in particular is pragmatic and warm. She genuinely wants her daughter to find happiness but also understands the confines of her royal position. Her advice in the book is easily one of my favorite aspects of a character.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Resurrectionist of Caligo.


“‘Those class differences you harp upon ain’t real!’ Roger shouted. ‘No human is better than another. I’ve cut up enough of ‘em, and we all look more or less the same on the inside. We all rot when we’re dead. A smart man may have a small brain or the other way ‘round. Royals claim their faerie magic, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.’”


“Whether she liked it or not, Roger had turned into one of the most ostentatious writers she’d ever had the displeasure to come across, as in love with his own words as he was with his transgressions.”

TQWhat's next?

Wendy:  Right now I’m working on an odd little story about a put-upon astronaut being stalked by an otherworldly cat, and hopefully I can stick the landing. It’s hard for me to talk about works in progress because they often turn into completely different things by the time—or if—they make it out into the world.

Alicia:  All the things, no seriously… all the things. I keep bouncing around between several projects I equally love. Who will win in the end? Only time will decide.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo
Angry Robot, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga
With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

File Under: Fantasy [ Straybound | Royal Magic | A Good Hanging | Secret Sister ]

About the Authors

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga
Wendy Trimboli grew up in England, Germany and the United States, and learned to speak two languages well enough that most people can understand her. Determined to ignore her preference for liberal arts, she attended the US Air Force Academy then worked as an intelligence officer, which was less exciting than it sounds. These days she has a creative writing MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Colorado with her family, border collie, and far too many books.

Twitter @Bookish_Wendy

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga
Alicia Zaloga grew up in Virginia Beach not liking the beach, and now moves every few years, sometimes to places near beaches. She has a writing degree from Columbia College Chicago, and when she’s not dealing with life’s chores, she collects hobbies: plucking the E string on the bass, producing an alarming number of artistic doodles, and French beading floral bouquets.

Twitter @alicia_zaloga

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse

Please welcome Tyler Hayes to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Imaginary Corpse is published on September 10, 2019 by Angry Robot.

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse

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

Tyler:  When I was ten years old, I wrote a two-page piece of Anne of Green Gables fan fiction about Anne visiting my fifth grade classroom. I think it was a writing prompt, but I don’t remember for sure; I do remember the piece implied I had a crush on Anne and I wound up writing in permanent marker on the paper that I refused to read it aloud in class.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Tyler:  Plotter with pantser tendencies. I world-build and outline meticulously but I find myself skidding and drifting all over the place once I get down to the actual prose. I find I don’t really know a character or a scene until I sit down to write it, and sometimes I discover I’ve thrown a monkey wrench into my own plan.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tyler:  The doubt. Art is very personal and very subjective, and I have an anxiety disorder for added neurochemical fun. I have some days where doing the work is a struggle just because my own brain is telling me that I’m not good enough, that there’s something wrong with the work I’m not seeing. For reasons I’m sure will always be a mystery, it seems to happen most frequently during revisions.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Tyler:  The fiction I read, of course, but also the fiction I watch and the fiction I play. I’m an avid video gamer (mostly Steam with an odd dash of old X-Box and SNES games) and player of tabletop RPGs, and both of those have leaked into my work. My experiences in therapy for anxiety and PTSD and my ongoing time as a part of social justice circles have also left their marks.

If I were to analyze my literary DNA, I’d point to Mike Carey, Raymond Chandler, Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers, and Noelle Stevenson for prose and comics; from TV, Steven Universe; from film, Wes Anderson, Pixar, and Guillermo del Toro; and from video games, Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, Sam and Max Hit the Road, and Silent Hill. I’d give a lot of credit to the narrative beats used in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign and the melancholy world-building of the tabletop RPG Changeling: the Dreaming, too.

TQDescribe The Imaginary Corpse using only 5 words.

Tyler:  Trauma, murder, comfort, healing, imagination. Or “Imaginary stuffed dinosaur fights crime.”

TQTell us something about The Imaginary Corpse that is not found in the book description.

Tyler:  For all that it does carry a lot of noir sensibilities, The Imaginary Corpse absolutely rejects the cynicism of noir in favor of hope and empathy. That was a deliberate choice on my part.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Imaginary Corpse?

TylerThe Imaginary Corpse is a stone soup put together out of childhood memories of a game of Let’s Pretend, my experiences working on my own mental health and helping friends deal with theirs, my love of noir style, my desire to tell a story about imagination, and my desire to tell a story about trauma.

TQWhy a triceratops?

Tyler:  Tippy is based on my own childhood stuffed animal, Tippy, who is a plush yellow triceratops. I figured, what better imaginary character to put in the driver’s seat of the narrative than one who had kind of been loved Real already?

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Imaginary Corpse?

Tyler:  A lot of my research came in the form of reading fiction, especially the work of Raymond Chandler, whom I’d always love but hadn’t come back to in a few years. I wanted to make sure I was doing an homage to his wit without just copying his voice or compromising my own. I also did a lot of informal research into trauma, anxiety, healing from abuse, and similar topics.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Imaginary Corpse.

Tyler:  The artist is Francesca Corsini. It depicts a character from the novel in the form of Tippy, but otherwise it is very much an abstract representation of what’s inside -- that particular scene doesn’t occur anywhere. But Corsini’s drawing of him really tells you a lot about who he is: you see he’s a detective in the way he dresses, and his missing eye both clues you in that he’s a stuffed animal and hints at the damage done to him and the other Ideas living in the Stillreal. The clenched fist gives you a sense of human connection, a rooting in the real world, but it’s also off to the side, not the primary focus, just like the Realworld in the narrative. The skewed view of the buildings in the background gets you ready for the dreamlike and weird qualities of the book’s voice, and the colors reference both Fritz Lang’s movie posters and Frank Miller’s Sin City artwork, which help give you some genre and tonal hints.

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

Tyler:  Tippy is the easiest character to write of any character I have ever written. The way he thinks and talks just flows out of me like it was always there. It isn’t even because he sounds exactly like me -- he’s someone separate, but he’s close to my heart.

The hardest character to write was Big Business. I can picture his personality and demeanor just fine, but his way of speaking in business buzzwords was very hard for me, as someone who has only minimal experience with that kind of environment. He required a lot of research and revision.

TQDoes The Imaginary Corpse touch on any social issues?

TylerThe Imaginary Corpse is, on one level, about mental health, so it very much touches on the ways in which people get traumatized and abuse, and the ways in which we can help and hinder each other in our separate journeys to get better. It’s also in a lot of ways a response to today’s political climate, though early drafts started before the absolute horror show that was 2016. I needed to write a world where being kind was the answer, so I could try to remember it’s the answer here.

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


Q: If The Imaginary Corpse weren’t a book, what form of entertainment would it be?

A: An adventure game in the vein of The Longest Journey or Thimbleweed Park. The bizarre logic, the disparate settings, the mystery thread, it all feels like it’d play naturally as a series of puzzles with some solid graphics work and voice-acting. Plus a video game would be a great place to capture all the different aesthetics of all the various Ideas.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Imaginary Corpse.


“Big Business flashes his real smile – the big, terrifying one. It fills the entire bottom of his face, his cheeks folding up into a flying V to accommodate all those professionally polished teeth. I’ve seen that smile on one other being in my entire memory. It was a T-rex.”

“The entrance is a single black door with a bouncer in front of it, a pile of muscles shoved into a coat. She looks at me with eyes just begging for a good fight, quickly decides I’m not going to give it to her, and goes back to glowering at the world like it owes her money. I keep my quip to myself, and head inside.”

TQWhat's next?

Tyler:  Next up, I’m working on a possible sequel for The Imaginary Corpse. I’m also working on a contemporary fantasy we’ve been pitching as Lucha Underground meets Winter Tide, and I have a love letter to Dungeons & Dragons on deck for whenever I get the time for it.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tyler:  Thank you so much for having me!

The Imaginary Corpse
Angry Robot, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse
A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends.

Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?

Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into the Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.

File Under: Fantasy [ Fuzzy Fiends | Death to Imagination | Hardboiled but Sweet | Not Barney ]

About Tyler

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse
Tyler Hayes is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Northern California. He writes stories he hopes will show people that not only are we not alone in this terrifying world, but we might just make things better. His fiction has appeared online and in print in anthologies from Alliteration InkGraveside Tales, and AetherwatchThe Imaginary Corpse is Tyler’s debut novel.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @the_real_tyler

Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the ConqueredInterview with Colleen Winter, author of The GathererInterview with C.M. Waggoner, author of Unnatural MagicInterview with Emma Sloley, author of Disaster's ChildrenInterview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryInterview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New DayInterview with Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of MonstersInterview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the FloodInterview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of CaligaInterview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?