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A blog about books and other things speculative

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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

2019 Debut Author Challenge - December Debuts


2019 Debut Author Challenge - December Debuts


There is 1 debut novel for December.

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



A. R. Moxon

The Revisionaries
Melville House, December 3, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 608 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - December Debuts
All is not boding well for Father Julius. . .

A street preacher decked out in denim robes and running shoes, a phony holy man for a misfit urban parish, Julius is a source of inspiration for a community that knows nothing of his scandalous origins.

But when a nearby mental hospital releases its patients to run amok in his neighborhood, his trusted if bedraggled flock turns expectantly to Julius to find out what’s going on. Amid the descending chaos, Julius encounters a hospital escapee who babbles prophecies of doom, and the growing palpable sense of impending danger intensifies. . . as does the feeling that everyone may be relying on a fake preacher just a little too much.

Still, fake or no, Julius decides he must confront the forces that threaten his congregation—including the peculiar followers of a religious cult, the mysterious men and women dressed all in red seen fleetingly amid the bedlam, and an enigmatic smoking figure who seems to know what’s going to happen just before it does.

The Revisionaries is, in the end, a wildly imaginative, masterfully rendered, and suspenseful tale of one man trying to differentiate between reality and fantasy in order to find the source of his faith. It will summon to mind the bold outlandishness stylishness of Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Moore—while being unlike anything that’s come before.

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.

Colleen:

"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

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.

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow


A Thousand Doors of January
Author:  Alix E. Harrow
Publisher:  Redhook, September 10, 2019
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  US$27.00 (print); US$ 9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780316421997(print); 9780316421980 (eBook)

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow
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.



Melanie's Thoughts

Living as the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, January Scaller is as much of a rare curiosity as the many rare treasures that fill his mansion. January spends much of her life alone and lonely with her father off searching for new treasures for Mr. Locke and the New England Archaeological Society. When she finds a strange book that tells a story of mysterious doors that lead to dangerous and exotic places her life starts to change with every turn of the page.

I absolutely love The Thousand Doors of January. I was really very pleasantly surprised to discover that this was a debut novel. Harrow has crafted an excellent story within a story that carefully unfolds as January reads the book - The Ten Thousand Doors. It took me a while to realise what was happening and how the story is interwoven with January's life. I don't want to say too much and ruin the surprise.

In my opinion Harrow mastered the three essential components of a good book - characterisation, setting, and plot. I found January completely believable as the lonely young girl who wanders the halls of Locke's mansion desperate for her father's attention. Despite having a companion and a pet January is very much on her own and even more so when her father fails to return from one of his missions abroad. This 'aloneness' and loneliness is a prevalent theme throughout. Harrow uses multiple settings for her story - everywhere from a luxurious mansion, to a desolate farm in the midwest to a multitude of exotic and dangerous 'other' worlds. Harrow writing is descriptive enough that you can feel the hot wind on your cheek or smell the perfumed air yet she does this without being verbose. Now about the plot. As I mentioned earlier there is a story within a story and this is the same with the plot. There are two main dimensions to the plot - one is a love story or the search for love and the other is about overcoming the odds. I know this sounds very vague but I don't want to accidentally give anything away by describing too much of what happens.

The Thousand Doors of January is a great book that had me gripped from page 1 all the way to the end. It has easily made it into my top 5 books of the year....and the year isn't over yet. I am also pretty sure that it will make it into my top 20 fave books ever! All these accolades and Harrow is new author. Imagine what is going to come next for Harrow! I can hardly wait.
Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered2019 Debut Author Challenge - December DebutsInterview with Colleen Winter, author of The Gatherer2019 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 DebutsReview - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow

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