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2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts



2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts


There are 9 debut novels for August.

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

The August 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 August cover for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on August 15, 2019.



Eugen Bacon

Claiming T-Mo
Meerkat Press, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
In this lush interplanetary tale, Novic is an immortal Sayneth priest who flouts the conventions of a matriarchal society by choosing a name for his child. This act initiates chaos that splits the boy in two, unleashing a Jekyll-and-Hyde child upon the universe. Named T-Mo by his mother and Odysseus by his father, the story spans the boy’s lifetime — from his early years with his mother Silhouette on planet Grovea to his travels to Earth where he meets and marries Salem, and together they bear a hybrid named Myra. The story unfolds through the eyes of these three distinctive women: Silhouette, Salem and Myra. As they confront their fears and navigate the treacherous paths to love and accept T-Mo/Odysseus and themselves, the darkness in Odysseus urges them to unbearable choices that threaten their very existence.





Troy Carrol Bucher

Lies of Descent
Fallen God's War 1
DAW, August 20, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
In this compelling fantasy from a debut author, two young people must unite two warring cultures to banish the gods who destroyed their homeland.

The Fallen Gods’ War drove the remnants of a victorious army across the ocean in search of a new homeland. A thousand years later, the lifeless continent of Draegora is largely forgotten, a symbol for the regiments that remain. Demons to some. Protectors to others. The power of their god-touched blades has forged a nation, though many resent their absolute control.

Riam and Nola are unknowing descendants of the old world. When it’s discovered they carry enough Draegoran blood to serve in the regiments, they are dragged away from their families to begin training. If they survive, they will be expected to enforce the laws of the covenant, to fight the Esharii tribesmen who raid along the border, and to be judge, jury, and executioners for those accused of crimes.

For Riam, who welcomes his escape from an abusive father, the power to protect those who cannot defend themselves is alluring. For Nola, who wishes to return home, it is a betrayal by all she holds dear.

Neither is given a choice…and neither may ever get the chance to serve.

Lies of Descent begins an epic trilogy of fallen gods, betrayal, and magic—where dark motives often dwell within the true and just, and where the things most feared sometimes lead to salvation.





Kira Jane Buxton

Hollow Kingdom
Grand Central Publishing, August 6, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.





Sarah Davis-Goff

Last Ones Left Alive
Flatiron Books, August 27, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
“Combines the spare poetry of The Road with the dizzying pace of 28 Days Later.Jennie Melamed, author Gather the Daughters

“A riveting novel.” Eowyn Ivey, bestselling author of The Snow Child
Remember your just-in-cases. Beware tall buildings. Always have your knives.

Raised in isolation by her mother and Maeve on a small island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen’s life has revolved around training to fight a threat she’s never seen. More and more she feels the call of the mainland, and the prospect of finding other survivors.

But that is where danger lies, too, in the form of the flesh-eating menace known as the skrake.

Then disaster strikes. Alone, pushing an unconscious Maeve in a wheelbarrow, Orpen decides her last hope is abandoning the safety of the island and journeying across the country to reach the legendary banshees, the rumored all-female fighting force that battles the skrake.

But the skrake are not the only threat…

Sarah Davis-Goff's Last Ones Left Alive is a brilliantly original imagining of a young woman's journey to discover her true identity.





Zach Fehst

American Magic: A Thriller
Atria/Emily Bestler Books/Alloy Entertainment, August 20, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
In this fast-paced, international thriller, chaos erupts after a shadowy figure with ties to an elite and ancient society posts incantations on the dark web that allow people to perform real magic.

When an enigmatic message uploaded to the dark web turns out to contain an ancient secret giving regular people the power to do impossible things, like levitate cars or make themselves invisible, American government officials panic. They know the demo videos on YouTube and instructions for incantations could turn from fantastical amusement to dangerous weapon at the drop of the hat, and they scramble to keep the information out of the wrong hands.

They tap Ben Zolstra, an ex-CIA field operative whose history with the Agency is conflicted at best, to lead the team that’s racing to contain the dangerous knowledge—and track down the mysterious figure behind the leak who threatens that even more dangerous spells will be released one by one until the world as we know it no longer exists.

This sweeping, globe-spanning thriller explores the dark consequences of a question mankind has been asking for centuries: What if magic were real?





Keren Landsman

The Heart of the Circle
Angry Robot, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman.

Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?

File Under: Fantasy [ Love Squared | Stuck in the Margins | Emotional Injection | Fight the Power ]





Brian Naslund

Blood of an Exile
Dragons of Terra 1
Tor Books, August 6, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
First in the Dragons of Terra series, Brian Naslund's Blood of an Exile is a fast-paced adventure perfect for comic readers and fans of heroic fantasy

Bershad was supposed to die...

When he was caught trying to assassinate a fellow noble, Flawless Bershad was given a death sentence. Fight monsters so that he would die serving the kingdom. But Bershad can’t die.

He’s never lost a fight, the most successful dragon slayer in history but marked as a doomed man, Bershad stands apart from the world. But that is about to change.

The man who sentenced Bershad to his fate has just given him an out. Kill a king and walk free forever. But Bershad could not care less about the fates of kings and kingdoms, until, that is, he discovers he is the only person able to save an innocent child and, possibly, the life of every creature in Terra.





Temi Oh

Do You Dream of Terra-Two?
Gallery / Saga Press, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook,544 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined.

Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind?
Have you ever dreamt of a better world?
Can a dream sustain a lifetime?


A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race.

And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives.

It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.

And something always goes wrong.





Andrew Skinner

Steel Frame
Solaris, August 27 , 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 700 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August Debuts
Epic tale of giant-robot battles, built around a personal story of redemption and healing.

FLY HARD
Rook is a jockey, a soldier trained and modified to fly ‘shells,’ huge robots that fight for the outer regions of settled space. When her shell is destroyed and her squad killed, Rook is imprisoned, left stranded, scarred and broken. Hollow and helpless without her steel frame, she’s ready to call it quits.

When her cohort of prisoners are sold into indenture to NorCol, a vast frontier corporation, Rook’s given another shell – a near-decrepit Juno, as broken as she is and decades older – and sent to a rusting bucket of a ship on the end of known space to patrol something called “the Eye,” a strange, unnerving permanent storm in space.

Where something is stirring...

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep


Please welcome H. G. Parry to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep was published on July 23, 2019 by Redhook.



Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep




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

H.G.:  It's a cliche, but I honestly don't remember not writing. I wrote stories all the way through primary school. My first "proper novel" I wrote in Intermediate, when I was twelve: it was about a group of explorers who find the lost city of Atlantis and rescue it from the grip of an immortal despot. It was really a short story, but it did have a talking robot cat, Magic that turned out to be Science, and a healthy paranoia about government, so I call it a win.



TQ:  Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

H.G.:  Hybrid, though I do outline a lot. I start with just writing down fragments, which are nearly always conversations between characters. Then I read back what the characters are saying, and work out the plot from there - it's often a matter of deciding what they want, what they'll do to get it, and what will hurt them the most! I won't usually get the whole plot from that, but I'll get enough to work with, and then when I get stuck I'll go back to what I've written, read over it again, and do a bit more outlining. It's all wildly out of order, of course, just to make things more fun.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

H.G.:  On a technical level, it's the opening sentences of books, chapters, and even paragraphs. I always end up plunging right into the middle, leaving some kind of note like "amazing opening goes here!!" Which of course means the last stage of every draft I've ever written is me scrolling through the book writing about fifty "amazing openings" in succession, which takes time, sighs, and multiple slices of cake.

On another level, it's the fact that whatever I try to write always feels just a little bit beyond my skill level at the time. And I don't think there's anything to be done about that except embrace it and keep growing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

H.G.:  Honestly, just books of every kind, from Keats to Dickens to children's literature to 1960s Dr Strange comics. My academic background is in English Literature, and I love using writing as a way to explore existing stories and history.



TQDescribe The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep using only 5 words.

H.G.:  Reading books saves the world.



TQTell us something about The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep that is not found in the book description.

H.G.:  It's set in Wellington, New Zealand, where I live. I wanted to map the action very specifically on to real places I knew intimately, so that the effect of fictional characters intruding upon reality could be very distinct (if only to me!). I'm also really interested in the way Victorian literature in particular fits into colonised spaces like New Zealand - there's something about the image of Dickens in central Wellington that's more jarring than Dickens in modern London.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep? What appeals to you about writing Contemporary Fantasy?

H.G.:  I wanted to write a book that was a love letter to reading - all kinds of reading, but particularly literary criticism. I'm fascinated with the idea of reading as an act of interpretation - everyone who reads a book has their own version of that book. So I wrote a magic system where readers don't just read characters out of books, but their own versions of characters. The sibling rivalry aspect connected to that, because I wanted to link the way we read books and the way we read people. Just as we interpret books, we're constantly interpreting the people around us, and sometimes we see them the way we need to rather than the way they need to be seen.

As for contemporary fantasy - I love all kinds of fantasy, but there's something very attractive about the idea that magic is lurking just around the corner.



TQWhy did you choose Uriah Heep as your title character?

H.G.:  He actually wasn't the title character until very late in the day, after the book had already sold! But he was in the first chapter from the beginning. Once I'd decided that the book was going to centre largely around Dickens, Uriah Heep was the obvious antagonist - David Copperfield is based heavily on Dickens, so in Uriah Heep you have the nemesis of Dickens himself. He's also just a lot of fun - delightfully repulsive, yet intelligent and complex, and always understanding the parts of the main characters they least want people to see...



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep?

H.G.:  I cheated with this, because I deliberately wrote a book about everything I love and so I knew a lot already. I did go deeper into scholarship about Dickens, and specifically David Copperfield and Uriah Heep, than I've ever gone before, which was a pleasure. I watched a lot of classic novel adaptations to get a sense of different ways the characters can be interpreted, since the premise of the book is that each character is read and interpreted differently by different readers - but honestly I do that anyway. I was also lucky enough to revisit the Charles Dickens Museum in London while I was revising, which worked its way into the texture of the Street. It's an incredible place - like a time capsule in the middle of London.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep.

H.G.:  I love the cover! Lisa Marie Pompilio designed it, and it's bookish and atmospheric and Victorian yet still quirky. It went through a few different versions, and all were amazing, but this one captures the book perfectly. My favourite detail about it is that if you read the text on the page, it's from David Copperfield, and specifically the chapter toward the end of the book where David finds Uriah Heep in prison - as though Uriah Heep has escaped directly from book-prison out into the world. It's so subtle and clever.



TQ:  In The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

H.G.:  Dorian Gray was the easiest, probably, just because he's so much fun. I loved writing Millie too - I grew up reading Enid Blyton's various adventure series, and I loved playing with the trope of the girl detective (and that exaggerated old-fashioned British vernacular!). Nobody was really difficult, but Rob and Charley were complicated for different reasons: Charley because he's seen mostly through other people's eyes, so it was difficult to sift through that and see who he really is inside his own head; Rob because he's so reluctant to get involved with anything outside the norm that he risked missing out on most of the plot!



TQWhich question about The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

H.G.:  That’s a difficult one! Um… Who would you bring out of a book, and why? And the correct answer is Paddington Bear from Michael Bond’s books, because he would be delightful company and eat the marmalade I’ve had in my fridge for years and only get into sweet, well-meaning trouble. But in reality I’d probably accidentally read out Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle or Dracula or Keats or something and chaos would ensue.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep.

H.G.:  I think I'm the only one who laughs at my over-the-top descriptions of Dorian Gray, but I still laugh at: "His skin was polished ivory. His cheekbones were sharp enough to pose a flight risk. His eyes defied all metaphor. People who looked into them without fair warning tended only to report, incoherently, that they were blue."

Also, on one of the five Mr Darcys: "The poor thing was the victim of one of many readers convinced Darcy's haughtiness was the product of extreme shyness, and lived much of his life holed up in the study gripped with paranoia that the others were going to organise a dance."



TQWhat's next?

H.G.:  My next book, A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS, is coming out next year. It's an alternate history that tells the interconnected story of the French Revolution, the Haitian revolution, and the abolition of the British slave trade, but in a world where magic is strictly confined to the aristocracy. I’m editing that and drafting the sequel now – they’re bigger, darker, more research-heavy books than URIAH HEEP, and I’m both intimidated by them and love them very deeply.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

H.G.:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
Redhook, July 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.





About H.G. Parry

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
H.G. Parry lives in a book-infested flat in Wellington, New Zealand, which she shares with her sister and two overactive rabbits. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, and teaches English, Film, and Media Studies. Her short fiction has appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and small press anthologies. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is her debut novel.







Website  ~ Twitter @hg_parry

Interview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons


Please welcome Evan Winter to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Rage of Dragons was published on July 16, 2019 by Orbit.



Interview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons




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

Evan:  Thanks very much to The Qwillery for having me today, it’s good to be here! And, the first fiction piece I can remember writing was the opening to what I think was a portal Epic Fantasy (hero from our world enters a world of magic). I started it on my parent’s typewriter and got about ten pages in before I ran out of steam.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Evan:  I’m a heavy plotter and can’t really start my draft until I know every character, chapter, and scene that’s going to go into the book. By the end of my plotting process I usually have a 100-page document that I’ve broken down into scenes. My notes for each scene sit to the left of my drafting window so I can follow along when I’m writing.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Evan:  I think it’s writing every day. I know I can go faster than my current pace and I know that I’ll run out of lifetime before I run out of stories. So, I want to write more without rushing the work and I think a good way of achieving that is to write every day. Since high school, I knew I wanted my work to be interwoven with my life because I’ve always felt that life can be broken into three relatively equal pieces - sleep, work, play - and I didn’t want to spend one-third of my time on Earth doing something I didn’t like. To avoid that, I’ve tried very hard to make a living doing things that come from a sense of who I am as a person. It’s rarely been easy and there were many years where I exchanged portions of my life for nothing more than a paycheck but, with writing, I’ve found what I was searching for and don’t want to waste a moment of it.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Evan:  I’m heavily influenced by life in general, my experiences specifically, the news of the day, as well as recent and not so recent history. I have to mention the books I read too, which are primarily SFF novels. They define the parameters of what I understand to be compelling writing. Finally, I write about the things that intrigue me and I aim to ground those things in topics and themes that feel important to me. My ultimate goal, when writing, is to tell a story that, were I to come to it as a reader, I would absolutely love it and think it held truth and value.



TQDescribe The Rage of Dragons using only 5 words.

Evan:  We make our own monsters.



TQTell us something about The Rage of Dragons that is not found in the book description.

Evan:  The Rage of Dragons took about 9 months to outline, draft, edit, and publish.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Rage of Dragons? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Evan:  I wrote The Rage of Dragons because it is exactly and perfectly the type of story I would have been overjoyed to find in a book store. I wrote it because when I was growing up it didn’t exist. I couldn’t have found an Epic Fantasy with swords and sorcery or swords and sandals with a Black protagonist in a place that felt like Africa. I wrote it and I write Fantasy because I believe SFF is one of the greatest places to tell stories that can explore, consider, and evaluate the human condition from enough of a remove to have the inquiry be taken as a genuine attempt to better understand and appreciate one another and our place in the universe. I think the questions we ask in SFF are important and I think the journeys we take in asking those questions are just as important.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Rage of Dragons?

Evan:  I primarily researched African architecture and weapons and went from memory for the landscape, because I wanted to present a vision of an African-esque world that was similar to the way I experienced central Africa as a child. For the story, I actually read through several psychology texts on obsession and peak performance in athletes. It was important for me to have a decent handle on the type of person/people who can outperform even other elites.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Rage of Dragons.

Evan:  The cover’s art is by the incomparable Karla Ortiz (Instagram: @kortizart) and the design is by Orbit’s creative genius, Lauren Panepinto (Twitter: @Planetpinto). The cover was well researched by Ortiz and Panepinto and the shield, the weapons, everything takes some influence from Africa.



TQIn The Rage of Dragons who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Evan:  Tau, the protagonist, was both the easiest and hardest depending on the scene and moment. The Rage of Dragons is seen primarily from his point of view and that means I spend so much time with him that I get a real sense for who he is. It also means that I run into problems when Tau fights back against what the plot is pushing for. I know him well enough to know that I have to go back into my outline and make adjustments when he’s resisting the direction I was initially intending to take. So, the closeness makes him easier to write, but it also means I can’t push him around very much.



TQDoes The Rage of Dragons touch on any social issues?

Evan:  It’s my belief that creative works almost always comment on social issues and the longer the work or the more that is asked of the audience in order to experience the work, the more likely it is that the work touches on social issues. Given that belief, I think that whenever you hear someone say, “I don’t want politics in my Science Fiction or Fantasy,” the feelings underpinning that attitude come from a preference to have their Science Fiction and Fantasy fall in line with their currently held positions in politics and social issues. So, yes, The Rage of Dragons touches on many social issues. Some of them I’m aware of and actively discussing, but there are probably many more that I’m exploring unconsciously.



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

Evan:  What is one thing that would make you think the book was truly a success?

In my eyes, the book would truly be an undeniable success if it reached and affected people who don’t often see themselves or their cultures centered in their favorite genres. It would be an undeniable success if some of those people were then encouraged to go on and create worlds and stories of their own. I believe we’re all better off if more people get the chance to tell the stories that are in their hearts.



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

Evan:

“I’m not asking you to win. That’s not solely in your control,” Aren said. “I’m asking that you fight to win. Anything less is the acceptance of loss and an admission that you deserve it.”

“The wars you’ll wage aren’t decided when you fight them. They’re decided before that by the extent of your efforts and the substance of your sacrifices. They’re decided by the choices you make every single day. So ask yourself: How powerful do I choose to be?”



TQWhat's next?

Evan:  I’m really looking forward to doing a lot more reading. Writing book two and working hard to get it done has meant less time to read and I miss that. So, I can’t wait to get caught up on a lot of the awesome that has come out this year.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Evan:  Thank you very much for having me. It was a pleasure to be here. And, may your next reads be some of your very best ones!





The Rage of Dragons
The Burning 1
Orbit, July 16, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 544 pages

Interview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons
Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Rage of Dragons launches a stunning and powerful debut epic fantasy series that readers are already calling “the best fantasy book in years.”


The Burning
The Rage of Dragons





About Evan

Born in England to South American parents, Evan Winter was raised in Africa near the historical territory of his Xhosa ancestors. Evan has always loved fantasy novels, but when his son was born, he realized that there weren’t many epic fantasy novels featuring characters who looked like him. So, before he ran out of time, he started writing them.


Website  ~ Twitter @EvanWinter  ~  Facebook

Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit



Please welcome Tom Chatfield to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Gomorrah Gambit is published on July 23, 2019 by Mulholland Books.


Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit




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

Tom:  I've been writing fiction pretty much since I was old enough to write; when I was about nine or ten years old, I remember writing thinly fictionalised portraits of family life and reading them out loud to my classmates at school, in a style vaguely intended to be comic. I've basically wanted to be a writer since I could string words together.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Tom:  Hybrid, I guess. I know the themes and the broad outline of what I want to write. But then I fly firmly by the seat of my pants, writing and rewriting intensively in an effort to see what my characters want to do, and where they are coming from. Often, they end up doing something much more interesting than anything I could plan in advance.



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

Tom:  I've written half a dozen books of non-fiction, and I love/hate the fact that fiction isn't propped up by the real world in the same way as non-fiction: the story you're creating has to stand up (or flop) on its own terms. Also, with thrillers in particular, if your reader isn't thrilled, you've basically failed - it doesn't matter how clever you think you are.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Tom:  I'm a huge geek around speculative fiction: genre-bending science fiction, fantasy and thrillers that cross over into that world of technology and wild ideas. I love books that transport you, that drag you along while offering you new ways of seeing. Writers like Asmiov and Ursula Le Guin loomed large in my childhood along with, more recently, Naomi Alderman, Nnedi Okorafor, N. K. Jemisin, Ben Aaronovitch, China Miéville, Charles Stross, and many others working somewhere between fantasy and horror and science fiction. There's something amazing about transporting people into other possible worlds; showing them reality slantwise.



TQDescribe The Gomorrah Gambit using only 5 words.

Tom:  Edward Snowden meets Jason Bourne.



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

Tom:  Pretty much every single hack and location in the book is either real, or a lightly remixed version of reality. And I have personally owned all the classic computers I mention (and used to practice whistling tones at my friend's dialup modem in the early 1990s)



TQIn addition to your background in digital technology what inspired you to write The Gomorrah Gambit?

Tom:  I'm fascinated by technology, which is why I've written so many books of non-fiction exploring digital culture - but I also love the way that fiction can bring possibilities to life through narrative that you can't handle any other way. The opportunity to reach a new audience, and take them on a journey into the underside of global technology, was irresistible.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Gomorrah Gambit.

Tom:  It was done in-house at Hodder, and it's a very stark depiction of a glistening network in the shape of sharks shining against a black background. I love it. It's an abstract realisation of the themes of the book: the hidden depths, the lurking predators, the fine web of light woven across darkness.



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

Tom:  My lead character has a best friend, Ad, who's an amalgam of several of my friends growing up - and their relationship is directly imported from my own experiences of being a geek mucking around online in the 1990s, playing games, exploring the internet, tasting the excitement of a future that few people seemed to know about. That relationship flowed onto the page, and formed the foundation of the book. Perhaps the hardest character was the female lead, Munira. She's from a very different place and mindset to my protagonists, and she's playing her own double games. She's smart, enigmatic; but I didn't want her to be dull or one-dimensional. It took her a long time to come to life.



TQDoes The Gomorrah Gambit touch on any social issues?

Tom:  I'm deeply interested in disinformation, fake news, democracy, and the impact on society of manipulation in these areas; indeed, I also write textbooks about the kind of critical thinking and research skills needed to see beyond these things. This is a huge area of interest and anxiety for me, and I hope I captured some of its possible impacts on society and politics, without at any point sounding like a textbook...



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

Tom:  Did someone really hack a casino via the sensors in a smart fish tank? Yes, they did. And others have also hacked everything from children's toys and baby monitors to smart fridges, plug sockets and pacemakers. Which is why you really ought to be worrying more about the Internet of Things.



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

Tom:

"After years of thinking he was the smartest person in the room, it occurs to Azi that he has spent most of his life in rooms containing just one person."

"Azi has a rule of thumb... If someone describes an internet-connected fridge as anything other than a futile blot on the technological landscape, they’re talking out of their arse."



TQWhat's next?

Tom:  I'm writing a sequel that, I hope, takes the characters and events of The Gomorrah Gambit in an interesting and unexpected direction. And, for variety, I have a new textbook coming out in November: a short guide to critical thinking in the 21st century that should be useful for anyone worried about fake news, disinformation and the dismal state of truth online.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tom:  It was my great pleasure. Thanks for having me.





The Gomorrah Gambit
Mulholland Books, July 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 304 Pages
(Fiction Debut)

Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit
With dark technology hollowing out global privacy, an elite hacker enters the belly of the beast in this “gripping, intelligent, and stylist” international conspiracy thriller (Sophie Hannah, author of Closed Casket).

Azi Bello is an amiable outsider with a genius for hacking. Having spent the better part of his life holed up in a shed in his backyard, Azi has become increasingly enmeshed in the dark side of the internet. With the divide between online and offline worlds vanishing, so too is the line between those transforming civilization through technology and those trying to bring it to its knees. Dark networks rule. Someone with the right connections can access to anything imaginable, and power is theirs for the taking-although even they can’t know what kind of bargain they’ve struck.

Tipped off by a secretive young woman named Munira, Azi sets out to unravel the mysterious online marketplace known as Gomorrah, sacrificing his carefully constructed privacy in the process. Munira’s life is spiraling out of control: her cousins recruited to work for a terrorist state that’s hunting them both, her destiny in Azi’s hands. Her desperation drags Azi into the field where, working together, the two uncover an unimaginable conspiracy.

As pressure mounts, Azi has no choice but to take on the ultimate infiltration. In an age when identities can be switched at will and nobody is who they seem, how far will he go to end the nightmare?





About Tom

Interview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah Gambit
Photo by Tim Bedingfield
Dr Tom Chatfield (@TomChatfield) is a British writer, broadcaster and tech philosopher. He's the author of seven previous books exploring digital culture—most recently Live This Book! (Penguin) and Critical Thinking (SAGE Publishing), researched as a Visiting Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute—published in over two dozen languages. His debut novel, The Gomorrah Gambit (Mulholland), is a darkly satirical thriller set in the world of the dark net. When not working, he plays jazz piano and drinks too much coffee.

Website

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter


Please welcome Suyi Davies Okungbowa to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. David Mogo, Godhunter was published on July 9, 2019 by Abaddon.



Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter





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

SDO:  Thanks! I think the first thing I remember writing was a retelling of some stories from the Christian Bible. I found some of them quite interesting, and wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall. So I rewrote a lot of the popular stories from the point-of-view of lesser characters: the owner of the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem on, the guy who owned the room where the last supper was held, etc. It was fun while it lasted, which wasn't very long.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

SDO:  Hybrid, or plantser. I tend to plot the big "waypoints" of a narrative and then write my way between waypoints. This gives me a loose structure to work with, but also the freedom to surprise myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

SDO:  Finishing things, which I believe is a problem for many other writers too. There are always so many ideas to explore, so many directions to go in, so many things to say. Finishing something I'm working on is something learning to do now--it used to be so bad that I'd have lots of uncompleted drafts and not one complete story. But only writers who finish get published, so I'd say things are looking up now.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

SDO:  My history, for one. Both that of the people from which I'm descended, as well as my experience as an African caught between the demands of tradition and modernity, of history and the future. Writing about existing in the middle is important to me--most of my characters are always caught between things. I'm also fascinated by What If questions within the context of the African continent.



TQDescribe David Mogo, Godhunter using only 5 words.

SDO:  Demigod sparks war in Lagos.



TQTell us something about David Mogo, Godhunter that is not found in the book description.

SDO:  There is a scene where characters watch an El Clasico football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It makes little sense that one would tell a whole tale about Nigerians and not feature football. It's almost impossible.



TQWhat inspired you to write David Mogo, Godhunter? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

SDO:  I never quite thought about writing Urban Fantasy when I wrote DMG. I only wanted to tell a story about someone caught between two parts of themselves, and that character, David Mogo, was born. I also wanted to explore at least one of Nigeria's many myths, legends and cosmologies, and being set in Lagos, the story yielded itself best to the Yoruba of the Nigerian west. However, yes I do write more contemporary fantasy than anything else, and the main reason is that I like to explore how the otherworldly interacts with the...worldly, and how people change and adapt in order for them to coexist.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for David Mogo, Godhunter?

SDO:  Since I'm Nigerian, and grew up within proximity to the Yoruba-dominated west of Nigeria, I already knew about some of these deities, pantheons and myths. My own ethnic group also shares some history with the Yoruba. So, basically, it all started with first-hand experience. Then, I asked questions: talked to a few people who were well versed in Yoruba and Nigerian history. I left library and online research for last because, as I've learned over time, these are usually in danger of containing diluted versions, especially when written from a Western perspective. I was picky, but I sifted enough to find what I wanted.



TQ Please tell us about the cover for David Mogo, Godhunter. Does it depict something from the novel?

SDO:  The cover artist is Yoshi Yoshitani, and they're amazing! I think Yoshi just went with interpreting the vibes they got from the parts of the novel they read, and I'd say it captures the gritty nature of the tale itself. The meteor-like things falling from the sun likely represent The Falling, the event that brings the gods to Lagos in the first place--but you already knew that.



TQIn David Mogo, Godhunter, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

SDO:  The easiest was probably Eshu. In large parts of Yorubaland, Eshu is placed at par with the devil, which is clearly wrong. Eshu is closer to a trickster deity, like Loki or Puck, and subverting the common narrative to reflect this was easy. The most difficult was probably the god Ogun, who I changed up in so many ways that the character could've easily become unidentifiable. I had to ensure I kept the balance between what people expect from the god Ogun, and what role I wanted the character to perform in the book.



TQDoes David Mogo, Godhunter touch on any social issues?

SDO:  Migration was a big one for me: the mass arrival of the gods was to mimic the immigration into Lagos that has left the city overpopulated (probably the most populous in the world after 2050). Then, there's gentrification and political elitism, issues plaguing the city today, where the poor and severely affected are left to fend for themselves while choice spaces are reserved for the more affluent, something which also happens in its own way in the book. And lastly, colonization, with a faction of the gods trying to decide between integrating or conquering the "lesser beings" they have encountered.



TQWhich question about David Mogo, Godhunter do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

SDO:  No one ever asks about the fictional Lagos State Paranormal Commission (LASPAC) which, if you know Lagos and its penchant for coming up with new government agencies every now and then, would feel right in place. (Heck, they might even have one right now!) In the book, they're tasked with dealing with the city's deity infestation, which they do a shitty job of, because that's the most Lagos way of things. I reckon it'll take an interviewer who's also a Lagosian to ask about the LASPAC, though.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from David Mogo, Godhunter.

SDO:  Hmm. I'd say the first is: "The thought makes me shiver, and when a demigod shivers, you know what that means." The second will be: "He is perfect in every way, except for one tiny thing: he looks exactly like a mirage, like a mirror reflection without a subject. He is either an old man or a young boy, or both at the same time; it feels almost as if his identity is a choose-your-own-adventure game, where you decide what you're seeing."



TQWhat's next?

SDO:  Well, my agent and I are working hard on my next thing, which at this point, I can only reveal is fantasy as well (but not urban fantasy) and also inspired by West Africa (but a different time). We're looking at possibly more than one book, but nothing is set in stone yet. You'll hear more as the days go by!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

SDO:  Thank you. Always a pleasure.






David Mogo, Godhunter
Abaddon, July 9, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter
LAGOS WILL NOT BE DESTROYED

The gods have fallen to earth in their thousands, and chaos reigns.

Though broken and leaderless, the city endures.

David Mogo, demigod and godhunter, has one task: capture two of the most powerful gods in the city and deliver them to the wizard gangster
Lukmon Ajala.

No problem, right?





About Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of stories featuring African gods, starships, monsters, detectives and everything in-between. His godpunk novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, is out from Abaddon in July 2019. His internationally published fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta, Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction and other periodicals and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, where he teaches writing, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review. He tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies and is @suyidavies everywhere else. Learn more at suyidavies.com.





Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper


Please welcome Kerstin Hall to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Border Keeper is published on July 16, 2019 by Tor.com.



Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper




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

Kerstin:  In second grade, the teacher told us to write an original short story. I wanted to play outside instead. So I plagiarised Swan Lake, but ended it with everyone dying at the end of the first act. Miss Woods noticed and asked whether that was really how the story concluded.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kerstin:  I think I aspire to be planner. I always start projects with the best of intentions — namely that I will create a neat outline, follow it, and reach my destination in an orderly fashion. In practise, I tend to get bored and jump into the writing too early. I guess that makes me a hybrid.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kerstin:  I’m a perfectionist, so I struggle not to go back and endlessly revise the same sentences over and over. I also find killing major characters very difficult; I get far too emotionally invested in them. Oh, and structural revisions. Do not like those at all.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kerstin:  A large influence on my writing has been working for Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine. The editorial tastes of the publication have rubbed off on me, especially with regards to worldbuilding. In terms of specific writers, I greatly admire Ann Leckie and China Miéville. And I’m significantly influenced by my environment, although I wouldn’t say my work is recognisably South African.



TQDescribe The Border Keeper using only 5 words.

Kerstin:  Man inadvisably manipulates grumpy psychopomp.



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

Kerstin:  I think the book might be funnier than the blurb implies. There’s also a very slow-burn romance. And dangerous fish.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Border Keeper? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Kerstin:  A lot of the scenery of The Border Keeper is abstracted from places in southern Namibia. The desert and Eris’ house bear resemblance to the abandoned stations along the railway line between Aus and Lüderitz. There’s a creepy cottage that draws on the buildings in the ghost town of Kolmanskop. And the shadowline -- or border between worlds -- might owe a certain degree of unconscious credit to the Sperrgebiet. The Sperrgebiet is a vast swath of the Namibian desert owned by diamond mining companies. It’s inaccessible to ordinary people, and to enter the region requires a permit and a guide.

I love writing fantasy because I get to set all the rules, which is very convenient. I also love that I can create completely outlandish settings and characters, and readers usually just nod along. Faceless monsters playing violins? Cool. Holes in the ocean? Carry on. Evil demon cats? Maybe not even that implausible. The playfulness inherent to the genre appeals to me.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Border Keeper?

Kerstin:  This is an interesting question for me, because the honest answer is: ‘not much’. There’s the obvious small detail stuff —what trees could grow in this climate, crab anatomy, first aid 101 — but I was very deliberate and careful in not drawing heavily on existing mythologies or cultures in shaping the broader world of the narrative.

The reasons for this are quite personal, and I won’t go into too much detail. In brief, The Border Keeper was submitted during Tor.com Publishing’s open window for non-European fantasy, and I wasn’t sure the degree to which my authorial standpoint ‘counted’ as non-European. With that in mind, I felt that the most ethical thing to do would be to try and generate a narrative world that stood mostly separate from existing belief systems and communities. Basically, to invent everything I could.

Tor.com Publishing apparently liked it, but my grand effort was rendered a little redundant when I realised that I had accidentally named my female protagonist after a Greek goddess. I only realised the mistake six months after I’d submitted it!



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Border Keeper.

Kerstin:  The cover is the work of Kathleen Jennings (illustration) and Christine Foltzer (design). It’s actually very intricate cut-paper silhouettes, not digitally rendered art! Jennings hid a lot of lovely little story references in the trees; so you can see a compass, a teapot, an egret, a crab, etc. The split figure is Eris, as she passes between realms.



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

Kerstin:  Both Vasethe and Eris were easy to write, especially when they were interacting with one another. A lot of tension existed between them, which lent those scenes a fun dynamic.
The hardest character to write was probably the antagonist. I have a terrible tendency to write full-blown cackling evil villains at any given opportunity, and my editor had to gently rein that in.



TQDoes The Border Keeper touch on any social issues?

Kerstin:  Yes, although I tried to approach the topics obliquely. It explores the tensions between violence, forgiveness and justice, and the way I wrote my characters was with the intention of subverting a particular gendered trope — I can’t say which one without spoilers though.



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

Kerstin:  This is quite specific, but: “What happened to Yett’s realm after his murder?”

Answer: Eris should have inherited it, but she couldn’t bring herself to claim it. She has, however, cared for it ever since his death and serves as its de facto ruler.



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

Kerstin:  Here’s one from quite early in the story:

“Here.” Eris tossed Vasethe a black bundle of velvet. He caught it.

“A blindfold?”

“You are familiar with them?” She raised an eyebrow.

He chose not to reply, running a finger along the edge of the musty ribbon.


And here’s another from the middle:

         Vasethe rowed evenly. The water scattered light as he cut through the surface, and shoals of pale blue fish swam in their wake. A flock of waterfowl watched them from the shallows before melting into the reeds, and a lone kite hovered far above, her wingtips fluttering in the cool breeze.



TQWhat’s next?

Kerstin:  I can’t be too specific, but there should be announcements soon. I’m very excited about a certain project I just handed in, and I’m furiously revising another for a deadline in November.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kerstin:  Thanks for having me!





The Border Keeper
Tor.com, July 16, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper
"Beautifully and vividly imagined. Eerie, lovely, and surreal"—Ann Leckie

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

In The Border Keeper, debut author Kerstin Hall unfolds a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal.

Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.

The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly personal—a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.





About Kerstin

Interview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper
Photo by Sylvia Hall
KERSTIN HALL is a writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She completed her undergraduate studies in journalism at Rhodes University and, as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, continued with a Masters degree at the University of Cape Town. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, and she is a first reader for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She also enjoys photography and is inspired by the landscapes of South Africa and Namibia.







Website  ~  Twitter @kerstin__hall

2019 Debut Author Challenge - July Debuts




There are 9 debut novels for July.

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

The July 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 July cover for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on July 15, 2019.



Naomi Booth

Sealed
Titan Books, July 2, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Alice is haunted by rumors of a skin-sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. She hopes their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger. With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.

Timely and suspenseful, Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them.





Tom Chatfield

The Gomorrah Gambit
Mulholland Books, July 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 304 Pages
(Fiction Debut)

With dark technology hollowing out global privacy, an elite hacker enters the belly of the beast in this “gripping, intelligent, and stylist” international conspiracy thriller (Sophie Hannah, author of Closed Casket).

Azi Bello is an amiable outsider with a genius for hacking. Having spent the better part of his life holed up in a shed in his backyard, Azi has become increasingly enmeshed in the dark side of the internet. With the divide between online and offline worlds vanishing, so too is the line between those transforming civilization through technology and those trying to bring it to its knees. Dark networks rule. Someone with the right connections can access to anything imaginable, and power is theirs for the taking-although even they can’t know what kind of bargain they’ve struck.

Tipped off by a secretive young woman named Munira, Azi sets out to unravel the mysterious online marketplace known as Gomorrah, sacrificing his carefully constructed privacy in the process. Munira’s life is spiraling out of control: her cousins recruited to work for a terrorist state that’s hunting them both, her destiny in Azi’s hands. Her desperation drags Azi into the field where, working together, the two uncover an unimaginable conspiracy.

As pressure mounts, Azi has no choice but to take on the ultimate infiltration. In an age when identities can be switched at will and nobody is who they seem, how far will he go to end the nightmare?





Kimi Eisele

The Lightest Object in the Universe
Algonquin Books, July 9, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

“A triumphant story for anyone with a shred of faith left in the human spirit.” —David McGlynn, author of One Day You’ll Thank Me

What if the end times allowed people to see and build the world anew? This is the landscape that Kimi Eisele creates in her surprising and original debut novel. Evoking the spirit of such monumental love stories as Cold Mountain and the creative vision of novels like Station ElevenThe Lightest Object in the Universe imagines what happens after the global economy collapses and the electrical grid goes down.

In this new world, Carson, on the East Coast, is desperate to find Beatrix, a woman on the West Coast who holds his heart. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be saved by an evangelical preacher in the middle of the country. While Carson travels west, Beatrix and her neighbors begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could be, in fact, a bright beginning.

Without modern means of communication, will Beatrix and Carson find their way to each other, and what will be left of the old world if they do? The answers may lie with a fifteen-year-old girl who could ultimately decide the fate of the lovers.

The Lightest Object in the Universe is a moving and hopeful story about resilience and adaptation and a testament to the power of community, where our best traits, born of necessity, can begin to emerge.





Kerstin Hall

The Border Keeper
Tor.com, July 16, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

"Beautifully and vividly imagined. Eerie, lovely, and surreal"—Ann Leckie

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

In The Border Keeper, debut author Kerstin Hall unfolds a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal.

Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.

The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly personal—a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.





Suyi Davies Okungbowa

David Mogo, Godhunter
Abaddon, July 9, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

LAGOS WILL NOT BE DESTROYED

The gods have fallen to earth in their thousands, and chaos reigns.

Though broken and leaderless, the city endures.

David Mogo, demigod and godhunter, has one task: capture two of the most powerful gods in the city and deliver them to the wizard gangster
Lukmon Ajala.

No problem, right?





H. G. Parry

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
Redhook, July 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.





Rudolfo A. Serna

Snow Over Utopia
Apex Book Company, July 16, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 180 pages

Snow Over Utopia is a genre bending short novel of apocalyptic fantasy, sci-fi psychedelia, and doom metal.

In an age of savage science powered by black-mass, and thrown away bio-matter leaked into an underground sea lit by the heart of the great tree, a girl named Eden loses her rare blue eyes. Escaping her fanatical and sadistic slave masters with her eyes in a jar, she runs away with a murderer named Miner. After fleeing for their lives deep within the forest, they are found by the Librarian and his daughter Delilah, and sheltered in their mountain-top sanctuary. But she cannot stop there. If Eden wants to restore her eyes, then she must go on through time and space in a necrotronic stream generated by the living computer program called Witch Mother.

While mutantoid priests in underground bunkers monitor transmissions from the great tree, Eden and Miner must face the horrors of the factories and the coliseum run by the Robot Queen in the city of Utopia.

Can they make the ultimate sacrifice and complete their mission? Or will they fail in Snow Over Utopia?





Kali Wallace

Salvation Day
Berkley, July 9, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
(Adult Debut)

A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.

They thought the ship would be their salvation.

Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.

But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.

And then they woke it up.




Evan Winter

The Rage of Dragons
The Burning 1
Orbit, July 16, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 544 pages

Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Rage of Dragons launches a stunning and powerful debut epic fantasy series that readers are already calling “the best fantasy book in years.”


The Burning
The Rage of Dragons

Interview with Ada Hoffmann, author of The Outside


Please welcome Ada Hoffmann to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Outside was published on June 11, 2019 by Angry Robot Books.



Interview with Ada Hoffmann, author of The Outside



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

AH:  Ooh, this takes a bit of thinking. I've been making up stories since I was very tiny, and some pieces are borderline - I sort of remember them, but secondhand, from family stories or from having rediscovered drafts of them later.

The first story I'm sure I remember writing, in first grade, was called "Too Many Onions." It was a Robert Munsch-esque tale in which a family bought so many onions at the grocery store that their whole house was filled with onions from top to bottom. This is going to sound weird, but the reason I remember it is because it was the first time I used quotation marks. I hadn't seen the point of them before, even when I wrote dialogue, but there was something about the character throwing her hands up and declaring "We have too many onions!" that inescapably demanded them.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

AH:  More to the plotter side, but not completely. I always make outlines because I can't get started without a plan; for novel-length work, I also need to start with some worldbuilding and character notes. But I also know that, once I see the story actually breathing on the page, I'll get some new ideas about where it should go and how it should get there. Sometimes I keep the outline vague to allow for this flexibility. Sometimes I make a more detailed one but diverge from it at will. Sometimes I get to a part where I realize I've been too vague, and then I need to work on a more detailed scene-by-scene plan for a few chapters before I can draft again.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

AH:  Dealing with the anxiety. Am I doing it right? Did I do the previous thing right? I apparently did one thing right, but will I ever do anything right again? Aaaaaaaa.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

AH:  I want to say that literally everything influences me! Brains are sponges that store everything in the form of overlapping patterns which merge and connect. Sometimes things influence me and I don't even realize it until later. Other writers with amazing writing skills influence me; my life history and strong personal feelings about influence me; my relationships influence me; my political and spiritual beliefs influence me; other media I read and consume influence me. For starters.



TQDescribe The Outside using only 5 words.

AH:  Cyborg angels versus cosmic horrors.



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

AH:  There are several factions in this book and one of the things I love is that readers legitimately differ as to who they sympathize with. Are you Team Cyborg Angel because their ruthless competence and their team dynamics appeal to you? Are you Team Cosmic Horror Mad Scientist because heck yeah let's rebel? Are you Team Yasira because her "grumpy sincerity" (as the Publisher's Weekly starred review put it) convinces you that human beings even in their darkest times are worth saving? I've seen all of these and more! (One reviewer was Team Sispirinithas The Giant Spider.) I genuinely love seeing different readers come away with different reactions like this; it means I wrote everyone's motivations in a way that felt real, even though there are some that I definitely see as villains.



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

AHThe Outside's origin is actually quite silly - I had a crush on Akavi, who started life as a Lawful Evil D&D villain played by one of my friends. I wanted to write a book about him, but I didn't want it to be a D&D book, so I ended up filing off the serial numbers so hard he ended up in space.

Science Fiction and Fantasy (I don't make a hard mental distinction between the two genres) are my comfort zone. They're what I grew up reading and never stopped. I read other genres now and then, but what I love most is the ability to make up whatever I want about the world and what's possible there. If I tried to write a book that took place entirely within our actual consensus reality, I would feel very limited.

Science Fiction has an aesthetic that distinguishes it from traditional fantasy - SPACE! Computers! Really big guns! - and I feel drawn to that more than to the "harder" aspects, where it's supposed to be a serious attempt at extrapolating things from science. I love space opera, space wizards, and weird shit happening on spaceships, yum!



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Outside?

AH:  There is quite a lot in The Outside about mysticism, and although I was already somewhat familiar with that topic, I spent a long time trawling the Wikipedia about forms of mysticism from different world traditions. Dr. Talirr's heresies in The Outside aren't meant to parallel any specific tradition, but I did find words and concepts that helped me clarify my thinking about her. For the darker, more psychological aspects of the book, I found Judith Herman's Trauma and Recovery helpful.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Outside.

AH:  When it was time to start talking about cover art, the Angry Robot editors asked me if I had a Pinterest board for the book, so I whipped one up. I had never made a Pinterest board before and it was fun! I collected a lot of images showing the aesthetics of The Outside's different factions - clean and delicate modernism for the angels, rough and lived-in 20th-century aerospace technology for the humans, and some very surreal landscapes and architecture for a part of a planet that's affected by an especially nasty heretical effect.

For Dr. Talirr's aesthetic, I wanted pictures that were as messy and rough as the other human technology, but even more complicated and a touch surreal. I discovered there's a whole genre called "industrial photography", and I collected the weirdest industrial photography I could find. One of the pictures was a plasma generator from Japan with an odd, fluid, swirling design. That picture really clicked with my editor and with the cover artist, Lee Gibbons. Gibbons used that picture as a reference for a depiction of a scene near the middle of the book, where Yasira is spacewalking on the outside of a heretical ship. He kept the wonderful, dynamic composition of the original photo but made it even more surreal, with the parts of the ship vaguely resembling tentacles, plus a depiction of space and of a suitably tiny, space-suited Yasira.

I love this cover and the Internet seems to love it, too! I couldn't be happier with the design.



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

AH:  I think the easiest character might have been Elu Ariehmu, Akavi's assistant. There's something about Elu that feels very straightforward and easy for me to empathize with, even though his life choices aren't always necessarily the best.

The hardest was definitely Yasira. Protagonists have to be so deeply and fully realized, and they have to hit so many different notes correctly. I find it really tricky to write protagonists who are active, in the way that neurotypical Western readers expect, without making them deeply unlikable. Villians, yes, I can do those; heroes, for some reason, are hard. For a long time I couldn't get a handle on Yasira. She felt flat, no matter what I tried, even once I made her autism explicit.

It was a sensitivity read from Elizabeth Bartmess, who is an absolute genius about characters, that finally helped me figure Yasira out. Elizabeth helped me figure out that Yasira wasn't just autistic, she was mildly depressed and had been that way for a while. When I delved into the question of why and how to bring that out, that's when Yasira really started to breathe - but it also meant facing up to some of my own low-grade burnout and depression, and was some of the most emotionally difficult character work I've ever done.



TQDoes The Outside touch on any social issues?

AH:  Yes, The Outside touches on several social issues. The AI Gods are a vague allegory to real-world religion, and some of the ways in which organized religion can maintain oppression while claiming to help people. Issues of neurodiversity and disability are also at the forefront in this book, since both Yasira and other characters are autistic. In particular there is some brief discussion of abusive childhood therapy, which one of the characters has experienced.



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

AH:  "Oh," said Dr Talirr, turning to leave, "and there's a protocol for monsters under the bed. If you see something with, say, eight to ten pairs of claws, ignore it. Those ones are harmless. If you see something without any claws or limbs at all, you might want to come get me. Good night."

Also, any piece of dialogue that Enga ever has.



TQWhat's next?

AH:  I'm hoping Angry Robot will greenlight a sequel for THE OUTSIDE, though nothing's fully worked out yet. In the meantime, I'm also working on a draft of a contemporary fantasy novel involving dragon paleontology.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

AH:  My pleasure! Thanks for having me.





The Outside
Angry Robot Books, June 11, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Ada Hoffmann, author of The Outside
Humanity’s super-intelligent AI Gods brutally punish breaches in reality, as one young scientist discovers, in this intense and brilliant space opera.

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.

File Under: Science Fiction [ False Gods | Angel Inside | Autistic in Space | Here be Monsters ]





About Ada

Interview with Ada Hoffmann, author of The Outside
ADA HOFFMANN is a Canadian graduate student trying to teach computers to write poetry. Her acclaimed speculative short stories and poems have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, Uncanny, and two year’s best anthologies. Ada was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at 13, and is passionate about autistic self-advocacy. She is a former semi-professional soprano, a tabletop gamer and an active LARPer, she lives in southern Ontario with a very polite black cat.






Website  ~  Twitter @xasymptote

Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars


Please welcome Sarah Gailey to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Magic for Liars is published on June 4, 2019 by Tor Books.



Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars




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

Sarah:  The very first piece of fiction I ever wrote was a short story for a Young Authors contest at my elementary school. I was in first grade, and I wrote a story about a guy named Bob who saved the Queen of England from being killed by a wave of acid. I was really into the idea of being the queen of something at the time, because I figured being a queen was a lot like being the president, but with more gold and access to cool frogs.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sarah:  For long fiction, I’m a hardcore plotter. I have lengthy spreadsheets that help me keep track of story beats. For short fiction, I’m a little more of a pantser — I have an idea of where I want the story to go, and I let it happen however it wants to happen.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sarah:  I struggle a lot with remembering to describe what people look like. I think part of that is because I have such a hard time remembering faces — I generally remember a person by their mannerisms, or their sense of humor. So when I’m trying to tell a reader what a character looks like, I tend to talk about things like their walk and their neck and their perfume, and then my poor editor has to remind me that people also have faces.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sarah:  This might sound silly, but my writing is heavily influenced by television. I pay close attention to the way TV writers structure narrative beats, plot development, and character arcs. Bringing those elements into my writing helps me craft stories that readers can stay invested in. I also pull a lot from contemporary horror, a genre that I think is exquisite at establishing stakes and then raising them higher and higher. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention some of my biggest narrative influences: Mario Puzo, Erin Morgenstern, and of course, Clive Barker.



TQDescribe Magic for Liars using only 5 words.

Sarah:  Angst-Ridden Magical School Noir.



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

Sarah:  There’s a significant focus in the book on consent and bodily autonomy. A lot of magical narratives ignore a person’s right to decide what happens to their body, and I think that’s worth exploring. For instance, the leg-locker spell in HARRY POTTER — a spell that locks the victim’s legs straight and together, so they can’t walk. This spell is treated as mild, nonthreatening, and relatively harmless (if inconvenient). In practice, though, a spell like this would be viscerally harmful. It’s a spell that immobilizes and pronates a person without their consent. In much of MAGIC FOR LIARS, I explore the consequences of such casual disregard for bodily autonomy.



TQWhat inspired you to write Magic for Liars?

Sarah:  A challenge: my agent, DongWon Song, said ‘I bet you can’t do it.’ (He is very artful, and often tricks me into doing hard things using this method.)



TQWhat appealed to you about combining Contemporary Fantasy with Noir?

Sarah:  I think there’s an angle on the magical school narrative that can be very bright and optimistic. This is understandable — adding magic to a standard school narrative is, in many ways, an attempt to make the idea of adolescence more bearable. That said, there is a dark underbelly to every story, Noir tends to be very interested in exploring the different ways people can hurt each other, and I was captured by the idea of exploring the way magic might change the harm we inflict upon each other.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Magic for Liars?

Sarah:  I spent a lot of time talking to a doctor who performs abortions. I could not have written this book without the information she gave me about different types of abortions and abortion ethics. Her insights were absolutely crucial. I also did a lot of reading about the practice of private investigation, and the ethics of investigating crimes committed by minors.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Magic for Liars.

Sarah:  The cover art for this book is by Will Staehl, who is absolutely brilliant. The central graphic references the disorienting perspective of the book, and the unreliability of the narrative. Nothing in this book is what it first appears to be, and the truth is never simple. Between the optical-illusion-style graphic and the vibrating colors that outline it, Staehl managed to capture that feeling beautifully.



TQIn Magic for Liars who was the easiest character to write and why?

Sarah:  I had a great time writing Rahul Chaudhary, the Physical Magic teacher at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages. He is Ivy Gamble’s window into the world of the faculty at the school, and also becomes a romantic interest. Writing him was easy, because his character is fundamentally good-hearted (unlike most of the characters in the book). Being able to write someone who is doing his best to do good in the world was incredibly refreshing.



TQDoes Magic for Liars touch on any social issues?

Sarah:  Absolutely. MAGIC FOR LIARS touches on classism, especially in academia; it also looks at consent and reproductive rights. Teens in this book deal with healthy and unhealthy perspectives on sex and sexuality. The protagonist struggles with alcoholism and isolation, both of which point toward her struggles with mental health. There are several queer characters in the book as well.



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

Sarah:  I wish someone would ask me about the differences between the first draft and the final draft, because answering that question gives me the chance to gas up my brilliant editor, Miriam Weinberg. She took this book further than I ever thought it would be able to go. In the first draft of MAGIC FOR LIARS, I held back, fearful of what would happen if I made any character suffer too much. Miriam stripped away the safety nets I’d set up for the reader, and the result is a book that feels infinitely less tentative.



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

Sarah:

“I couldn’t tell if I’d been there for happy hour before, or if I’d just been to a thousand places exactly like it. Places like that were springing up around Oakland by the score back then, every one a marker of the way the city was changing. It felt all-at-once, even though it had been brewing for years. Decades. Across the bay, San Francisco bled money like an unzipped artery. Those who had been privileged enough to have their buckets out to catch the spray drove back over the water to Oakland — from The City to the Town. The bumped aside people who had been living in these neighborhoods for generations, and they tore down storefronts, and they built brunch pubs with wood reclaimed from the houses they were remodeling.”



TQWhat's next?

Sarah:  I have a book-heavy 2020, with my first YA book, a new novella, and a second as-yet-unannounced-novel, which I can't wait to tell people more about.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sarah:  Thank you so much for having me!





Magic for Liars
Tor Books, June 4, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars
Sharp, mainstream fantasy meets compelling thrills of investigative noir in Magic for Liars, a fantasy debut by rising star Sarah Gailey.

Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it.

Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life – or at least, she’s perfectly fine.

She doesn't in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister.

Ivy Gamble is a liar.

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister—without losing herself.

“An unmissable debut.”—Adrienne Celt, author of Invitation to a Bonfire





About Sarah

Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars
©Allan Amato 2019.
Hugo award winner Sarah Gailey is an internationally published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe, and they are a regular contributor for Tor.com and Barnes & Noble. Their most recent fiction credits include Fireside Fiction, Tor.com, and The Atlantic. Their debut novella, River of Teeth, was published in 2017 via Tor.com and was a 2018 Hugo and Nebula award finalist. Their adult novel debut, Magic For Liars, will be published by Tor Books in June 2019. Their Young Adult novel debut, When We Were Magic, will be published by Simon Pulse in Spring 2020. You can find links to their work at www.sarahgailey.com; find them on social media @gaileyfrey.

Interview with W.M. Akers, author of Westside


Please welcome W. M. Akers to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Westside was published on May 7, 2019 by Harper Voyager.



Interview with W.M. Akers, author of Westside




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

W. M.:  I wrote a twelve page “novel” when I was in sixth grade called, “The Story of Bowman,” which was a riff on the story of the boy who cried wolf. Basically, it was about the watchman for a village who keeps telling everyone that there are monsters in the forest. No one believes him, and then they all get eaten by monsters.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

W. M.:  Plot, plot, plot! I have two young children, which means that the time I have to write is very restricted. If I didn’t outline everything meticulously, I would never get anything done.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? How does being a playwright affect (or not) your novel writing?

W. M.:  The hardest thing for me, aside from finding the time to get real work done, is maintaining interest in a project over the long period that it takes to finish something. No matter how much I wish I could get it done faster, writing a book takes months or years, and there are always going to be days when I’m just not feeling it. Those are the days that it really feels like work. Being a playwright helps with this problem, actually, because I find that shifting media makes it easier to keep interested in my various projects. Work on a play for a little while, and suddenly the novel seems fresh again.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

W. M.:  I take massive influence from the great prose stylists of the mid-Twentieth Century, with MFK Fisher being my particular favorite. Her sentences are as clear as spring water, and serve as a continual inspiration.



TQDescribe Westside using only 5 words.

W. M.:  Weird as hell 1921 mystery.



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

W. M.:  It has baseball in it! I’m a big baseball nerd—I even made a tabletop baseball game—and I couldn’t write a historical mystery without sneaking in as much baseball as my editor would allow.



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

W. M.:  I’ve lived in New York since 2006, and from the first day I lived in the city, I found myself wondering what it was like before I got there. New York history is an exquisitely deep vein, and the more I learned about it, the more I found myself yearning for a version of the city that had existed long before I was born. Westside is my way of interrogating that nostalgic impulse. Why do we think old New York is so fascinating, and what ugliness existed there that we prefer not to think about?



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Westside?

W. M.:  Old New Yorker essays were a great resource—I love you, Joseph Mitchell—and I leaned heavily on the frantic underworld histories of Herbert Asbury. But the New York Times archives were the most useful thing, as they provide a primary source window into how the period felt to the people who lived there. I had so much fun digging around the Times archives that I eventually turned that process into a newsletter all about weird stuff in the 1920s Times.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Westside.

W. M.:  The jacket was designed by Owen Corrigan, and it is gorgeous. Westside’s hero, Gilda Carr, is a detective of tiny mysteries, and the image shows the missing white glove that kickstarts her adventure. Inside it is a map showing the fence that divides my imaginary Manhattan, and some of the most important locations in the novel: Washington Square, the docks, and all the darkest alleys of the West Village.



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

W. M.:  I had a hell of a lot of fun writing Gilda Carr. Her voice came naturally to me, and whenever I sat down to work on the book after a long time away, I heard her speaking to me, impatient to start telling her story again.



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

W. M.:  What fictional location from the book would you most like to visit? The bazaar—the massive discount food market housed inside the ruins of old Penn Station, which was inspired by my beloved Park Slope Food Coop.



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

W. M.:  “Across the river, New Jersey twinkled stupidly.”



TQWhat's next?

W. M.:  I’m working on a new play, a new Deadball game, a new RPG and, most importantly, the sequel to Westside! Details to come later this year…



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

W. M.:  Thank you for having me. It was an absolute pleasure.





Westside
Harper Voyager, May 7, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with W.M. Akers, author of Westside
"Bracing, quite possibly hallucination-inducing, and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before…The illegitimate love child of Algernon Blackwood and Raymond Chandler.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Alienist meets The City & The City in this brilliant debut that mixes fantasy and mystery. Gilda Carr’s ‘tiny mysteries’ pack a giant punch." --David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Murder As a Fine Art

New York is dying, and the one woman who can save it has smaller things on her mind.

A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside—a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents—that blends the vivid atmosphere of Caleb Carr with the imaginative power of Neil Gaiman.

It’s 1921, and a thirteen-mile fence running the length of Broadway splits the island of Manhattan, separating the prosperous Eastside from the Westside—an overgrown wasteland whose hostility to modern technology gives it the flavor of old New York. Thousands have disappeared here, and the respectable have fled, leaving behind the killers, thieves, poets, painters, drunks, and those too poor or desperate to leave.

It is a hellish landscape, and Gilda Carr proudly calls it home.

Slightly built, but with a will of iron, Gilda follows in the footsteps of her late father, a police detective turned private eye. Unlike that larger-than-life man, Gilda solves tiny mysteries: the impossible puzzles that keep us awake at night; the small riddles that destroy us; the questions that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. Those tiny cases distract her from her grief, and the one impossible question she knows she can’t answer: “How did my father die?”

Yet on Gilda’s Westside, tiny mysteries end in blood—even the case of a missing white leather glove. Mrs. Copeland, a well-to-do Eastside housewife, hires Gilda to find it before her irascible merchant husband learns it is gone. When Gilda witnesses Mr. Copeland’s murder at a Westside pier, she finds herself sinking into a mire of bootlegging, smuggling, corruption—and an evil too dark to face.

All she wants is to find one dainty ladies’ glove. She doesn’t want to know why this merchant was on the wrong side of town—or why he was murdered in cold blood. But as she begins to see the connection between his murder, her father’s death, and the darkness plaguing the Westside, she faces the hard truth: she must save her city or die with it.

Introducing a truly remarkable female detective, Westside is a mystery steeped in the supernatural and shot through with gunfights, rotgut whiskey, and sizzling Dixieland jazz. Full of dazzling color, delightful twists, and truly thrilling action, it announces the arrival of a wonderful new talent.






About W. M. Akers

Interview with W.M. Akers, author of Westside
W. M. Akers is an award-winning playwright, Narratively editor, and the creator of the bestselling game Deadball: Baseball With Dice. Westside is his debut novel. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about his work at wmakers.net.




Twitter @ouijum  ~  Facebook

2019 Debut Author Challenge - August DebutsInterview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah HeepInterview with Evan Winter, author of The Rage of DragonsInterview with Tom Chatfield, author of The Gomorrah GambitInterview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, GodhunterInterview with Kerstin Hall, author of The Border Keeper2019 Debut Author Challenge - July DebutsInterview with Ada Hoffmann, author of The OutsideInterview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for LiarsInterview with W.M. Akers, author of Westside

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