close

The Qwillery | category: 2019 DAC

home

The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

qwillery.blogspot.com

2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019


2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2019 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on November 30, 2019, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite November 2019 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover illustration by Luis Toledo at Dutch Uncle
Cover copyright © 2019 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover design by Kimberly Glyder





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Cover images by Arcangel and Shutterstock
Cover copyright © 2019 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover art by Tomas Almeida
Cover design by Katie Anderson





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover Design and Layout: Don Noble

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!

C.M.

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.

C.M.

“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 www.emmasloley.com.

Twitter @Emma_Sloley


2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts


2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts


There are 7 debut novels for November.

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

The November debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite November cover for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on November 15, 2019.



Kacen Callender

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

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
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.





Temple Drake

NVK
Other Press, November 26, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook 352 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
NAMED A TOP 10 BEST DEBUT NOVEL OF THE FALL BY APPLE

HER SECRET MUST BE KEPT FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Set in the otherworldly megalopolis that is today’s Shanghai, Temple Drake’s suspenseful first novel blends the gothic, the erotic, and the supernatural as it charts an intense and dangerous affair.

One night in 2012, executive Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Western woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be…

To Zhang’s surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels driven to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai?

Written in spare, high-octane prose, NVK is the first in a series of dark, hypnotic novels that explore the roots of desire and the cruel costs of immortality.





Justin Joschko

Whitetooth Falls
JournalStone, November 8, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 264 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
Homicide detective David Moore has never had a case quite like this: a series of savage murders targeting the family of Frank Ballaro, a mafia kingpin with half the city of Niagara Falls in his pocket. The killer strikes with inhuman violence, and always on the night of a full moon.

Meanwhile, grad student Iman Al-Qadari reads about the murders with growing dismay. Her boss, a prominent professor, has been acting strange over the last few months—wearing disheveled clothes, lashing out with uncharacteristic anger, and obsessing over a growing pile of occult literature. When Iman spots a red stain on his coat sleeve—one that looks and smells suspiciously like blood—the night after a grisly murder, the unthinkable starts to seem all too possible.

As David and Iman wrestle with an impossible enemy whose existence grows harder and harder to deny, a strange and sinister evil sinks its fangs ever deeper into Niagara’s throat. Can David and Iman find one another in time to pool their knowledge, solve the mystery, and stop the killings? Or will the creature feasting on their city swallow them as well?





Emma Sloley

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

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
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.





Pete Townshend

The Age of Anxiety
Hachette, November 5, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
In his debut novel, rock legend Pete Townshend explores the anxiety of modern life and madness in a story that stretches across two generations of a London family, their lovers, collaborators, and friends.

A former rock star disappears on the Cumberland moors. When his wife finds him, she discovers he has become a hermit and a painter of apocalyptic visions.

An art dealer has drug-induced visions of demonic faces swirling in a bedstead and soon his wife disappears, nowhere to be found.

A beautiful Irish girl, who has stabbed her father to death is determined to seduce her best friend’s husband.

A young composer begins to experience aural hallucinations, expressions of the fear and anxiety of the people of London. He constructs a maze in his back garden.

Driven by passion and musical ambition, events spiral out of control-good drugs and bad drugs, loves lost and found, families broken apart and reunited.

Conceived jointly as an opera, The Age of Anxiety deals with mythic and operatic themes. Hallucinations and soundscapes haunt this novel, which on one level is an extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity.





C. M. Waggoner

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

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
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





Colleen Winter

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

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
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 . . .

2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019


2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2019 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on October 31, 2019, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite October 2019 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls



2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019
Cover design by James T. Egan





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019
Cover art: Woman's profile by Lorado/Gettyimages; 
Solar system by Dalmingo/Shutterstock
Cover design by Faceout Studio / Jeff Miller





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019
Cover design by Kathryn Galloway English





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2019
Cover design by Micaela Alcaino

2019 Debut Author Challenge - October Debuts




There are 8 debut novels for October.

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

The October debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite October cover for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on October 15, 2019.




Julia Armfield

salt slow
Flatiron Books, October 8, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 208 pages

From White Review Short Story Prize winner Julia Armfield, a brilliant, provocative debut story collection for fans of Carmen Maria Machado and Kelly Link.

In her electrifying debut, Julia Armfield explores women’s experiences in contemporary society, mapped through their bodies. As urban dwellers’ sleeps become disassociated from them, like Peter Pan’s shadow, a city turns insomniac. A teenager entering puberty finds her body transforming in ways very different than her classmates’. As a popular band gathers momentum, the fangirls following their tour turn into something monstrous. After their parents remarry, two step-sisters, one a girl and one a wolf, develop a dangerously close bond. And in an apocalyptic landscape, a pregnant woman begins to realize that the creature in her belly is not what she expected.

Blending elements of horror, science fiction, mythology, and feminism, salt slow is an utterly original collection of short stories that are sure to dazzle and shock, heralding the arrival of a daring new voice.





Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House
Flatiron Books, October 8, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 480 pages
(Adult Debut)

The mesmerizing adult debut from Leigh Bardugo, a tale of power, privilege, dark magic, and murder set among the Ivy League elite

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.





L. C.  Barlow

Pivot
The Jack Reacher Trilogy 1
California Coldblood Books, October 15, 2019
Trade Paperback, 288 pages

“Beyond good and evil, PIVOT juggles archetypes until you’re not sure which ball is airborne and which is still in the author’s hand. A story about cracking free of your intended role in life, as plot and depth travel at the same exceptional speed.”
—Josh Malerman author of BIRD BOX


From the age of seven, Jack Harper is raised by the leader of a mystical cult, Cyrus Harper. Through Cyrus, Jack receives a full education in all usual subjects―economics, literature, mathematics, history―as well as one unique skill useful to a person in Cyrus’s position: assassination. With the help of Roland James, a man incapable of dying, Cyrus hones Jack into the perfect weapon to use against all who oppose him.


It is not long, however, before Jack discovers that Cyrus and Roland are not the only ones living in Cyrus’s mansion. There, too, exists a mysterious creature in the depths of the house with supposed immortal magic. According to Roland, this creature is responsible for all the miraculous things Jack has witnessed throughout her childhood, including Roland’s resurrection. The creature, potent and powerful, only weakens in the presence of Cyrus’s red velvet box―a dark, enchanted tool that grants Cyrus his invincibility and ensures his reign.

Lonely and terrified by her life in the cult, under Cyrus’s neverending watch, Jack desperately pursues the mysterious being. When they finally meet, her world is turned upside down, as he offers her more than she could have ever expected―the possibility of escape and her own secret, magical power.





Curdella Forbes

A Tall History of Sugar
Akashic Books, Ocotber 1, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

A Tall History of Sugar tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man who was “born without skin,” so that no one is able to tell what race he belongs to; and Arrienne Christie, his quixotic soul mate who makes it her duty in life to protect Moshe from the social and emotional consequences of his strange appearance.

The narrative begins with Moshe’s birth in the late 1950s, four years before Jamaica’s independence from colonial rule, and ends in the era of what Forbes calls “the fall of empire,” the era of Brexit and Donald Trump. The historical trajectory layers but never overwhelms the scintillating love story as the pair fight to establish their own view of loving, against the moral force of the colonial “plantation” and its legacies that continue to affect their lives and the lives of those around them.

Written in lyrical, luminous prose that spans the range of Jamaican Englishes, this remarkable story follows the couple’s mysterious love affair from childhood to adulthood, from the haunted environs of rural Jamaica to the city of Kingston, and then to England—another haunted locale in Forbes’s rendition.

Following on the footsteps of Marlon James’s debut novel, John Crow’s Devil, which Akashic Books published in 2005, we are delighted to introduce another lion of Jamaican literature with the publication of A Tall History of Sugar.





Jennifer Givhan

Trinity Sight
Blackstone Publishing, October 1, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

“Our people are survivors,” Calliope’s great-grandmother once told her of their Puebloan roots—could Bisabuela’s ancient myths be true?

Anthropologist Calliope Santiago awakens to find herself in a strange and sinister wasteland, a shadow of the New Mexico she knew. Empty vehicles litter the road. Everyone has disappeared—or almost everyone. Calliope, heavy-bellied with the twins she carries inside her, must make her way across this dangerous landscape with a group of fellow survivors, confronting violent inhabitants, in search of answers. Long-dead volcanoes erupt, the ground rattles and splits, and monsters come to ominous life. The impossible suddenly real, Calliope will be forced to reconcile the geological record with the heritage she once denied if she wants to survive and deliver her unborn babies into this uncertain new world.

Rooted in indigenous oral-history traditions and contemporary apocalypse fiction, Trinity Sight asks readers to consider science versus faith and personal identity versus ancestral connection. Lyrically written and utterly original, Trinity Sight brings readers to the precipice of the end-of-times and the hope for redemption.





Katie Lowe

The Furies
St. Martin's Press, October 8, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead.

She’s posed on a swing on her boarding school’s property, dressed all in white, with no known cause of death. Whispers and rumors swirl, with no answers. But there are a few who know what happened; there is one girl who will never forget.

One year earlier: a new student, Violet, steps on the campus of Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school on the outskirts of a sleepy coastal town. This is her fresh start, her chance to begin again in the wake of tragedy, leave her demons behind. Bright but a little strange, uncertain and desperate to fit in, she soon finds herself invited to an advanced study group, led by her alluring and mysterious art teacher, Annabel.

There, with three other girls—Alex, Grace, and Robin—the five of them delve into the school’s long-buried grim history: of Greek and Celtic legends; of the school founder’s “academic” interest in the occult; of gruesome 17th century witch trials. Annabel does her best to convince the girls that her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, and that they are just history and mythology. But the more she tries to warn the girls off the topic, the more they are drawn to it, and the possibility that they can harness magic for themselves.

Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this heady new world of lawless power—except she is needled by the disappearance of a former member of the group, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance. As her friends’ actions take a turn for the darker and spiral out of control, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled. How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another?





Madeleine Roux

Salvaged
Ace, October 15, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook 368 pages
(Adult Debut)

A WOMAN ON THE RUN. A CAPTAIN ADRIFT IN SPACE. ONE OF THEM IS INFECTED WITH AN ALIEN PARASITE. 

In this dark science fiction thriller, a young woman must confront her past so the human race will have a future.

Rosalyn Devar is on the run from her famous family, the bioengineering job she’s come to hate, and her messed-up life. She’s run all the way to outer space, where she’s taken a position as a “space janitor,” cleaning up ill-fated research expeditions. But no matter how far she goes, Rosalyn can’t escape herself. After too many mistakes on the job, she’s given one last chance: take care of salvaging the Brigantine, a research vessel that has gone dark, with all crew aboard thought dead.

But the Brigantine’s crew are very much alive–if not entirely human. Now Rosalyn is trapped on board, alone with a crew infected by a mysterious parasitic alien. The captain, Edison Aries, seems to still maintain some control over himself and the crew, but he won’t be able to keep fighting much longer. Rosalyn and Edison must find a way to stop the parasite’s onslaught…or it may take over the entire human race.





Luanne G. Smith

Vine Witch
Wine Witch 1
47North, October 1, 2019
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 268 pages

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

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, Tor.com, 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!

Sarah:

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.

Sarah:

"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 Tor.com, 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 "...in 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!

Shaun:  

          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


2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2019 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on September 30, 2019, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2019 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Artwork by Julie Dillon




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover illustration by Na Kim
Jacket design by Kelly Blair




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Stephan Martiniere




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art by Tommy Arnold
Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Francesca Corsini




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Matthew Revert




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art by John Coulthart




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art and design by Jason Booher




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts




2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019Interview with C.M. Waggoner, author of Unnatural MagicInterview with Emma Sloley, author of Disaster's Children2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 20192019 Debut Author Challenge - October DebutsInterview 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 Monsters2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?

Cancel
×