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2020 Debut Author Challenge - October 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge - October 2020 Debuts


There are 11 debuts for October 2020.

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

The October debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite October cover for the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on or about October 15, 2020.





Whiteland
The Whiteland Novels 1
BHC Press, October 15, 2020
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 328 pages
In a lonely Swiss mountain village, Kira’s holiday erupts. It’s winter, it’s eerie, and out in the woods something imbeds its claws into her sister.

When Romy returns, she’s different. She’s violent, inhuman, and by rights, should be dead. Even though things aren’t normal, all their parents care about is that she’s still alive.

In the otherworldly forest, Kira starts to pry, but secrets like to be kept. With the help of Callum, a sarcastic Scotsman, Kira stumbles upon the folkloric world of Whiteland, eating all she knows.

If Kira runs away, she’ll be safe. If she doesn’t, her family might not survive. In the end, there’s no mercy in revenge.






Shadows of the Short Days
Titan Books, October 20, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
For fans of China Mieville and Neil Gaiman. A tale of revolution in a Reykjavik fuelled by industrialised magic, populated by humans, dimensional exiles, otherworldly creatures, psychoactive graffiti and demonic familiars.

A tale of revolution in a Reykjavik fuelled by industrialised magic, populated by humans, dimensional exiles, otherworldly creatures, psychoactive graffiti and demonic familiars.

HERE LIES A CITY…

FUELLED BY INDUSTRIALISED MAGIC. RULED BY A DESPOTIC CROWN. DEMANDING REVOLUTION.

WELCOME TO REYKJAVIK

Rebels and revolutionaries disappear into the infamous prison, the Nine, never to be heard from again. Masked police roam the streets, dark magic lurks in the shadows, and the implacable flying fortress casts its baleful eye over all below.

Sæmundur, addict and sorcerer, has been cast out from university, and forbidden to study magic. Dissident artist, Garún, is desperate for a just society and will do anything to achieve it. Both seek revolution in their own ways. Both seek power.

Together, they will change Reykjavik forever.






Plain Bad Heroines
William Morrow, October 20, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 640 pages
“Full of Victorian sapphic romance, metafictional horror, biting misandrist humor, Hollywood intrigue, and multiple timeliness—all replete with evocative illustrations that are icing on a deviously delicious cake.” –O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

“Brimming from start to finish with sly humor and gothic mischief. Brilliant.” — SARAH WATERS

Named a Most Anticipated Book by O, The Oprah Magazine • Vulture • Parade • Popsugar • Bustle • GoodReads • Autostraddle • Literary Hub • and more!

The award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes her adult debut with this highly imaginative and original horror-comedy centered around a cursed New England boarding school for girls—a wickedly whimsical celebration of the art of storytelling, sapphic love, and the rebellious female spirit

Our story begins in 1902, at the Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it the Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, the Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.

Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer Merritt Emmons publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, oppo­site B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern her­oines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.

A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period-inspired illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.






The Mirror Man
MIRA, October 20, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
Meet Jeremiah Adams. There are two of him.

The offer is too tempting: be part of a scientific breakthrough, step out of his life for a year, and be paid hugely for it. When ViMed Pharmaceutical asks Jeremiah to be part of an illegal cloning experiment, he sees it as a break from an existence he feels disconnected from. No one will know he’s been replaced—not the son who ignores him, not his increasingly distant wife—since a revolutionary drug called Meld can transfer his consciousness and memories to his copy.

From a luxurious apartment, he watches the clone navigate his day-to-day life. But soon Jeremiah discovers that examining himself from an outsider’s perspective isn’t what he thought it would be, and he watches in horror as “his” life spirals out of control. ViMed needs the experiment to succeed—they won’t call it off, and are prepared to remove any obstacle. With his family in danger, Jeremiah needs to finally find the courage to face himself head-on.






Consensual Hex
Grand Central Publishing, October 6, 2020
Hardcover and ebook, 320 pages
The Craft for the #MeToo era, this debut unfolds a riveting psychological drama shot through with sharp humor and dark magic for readers of Ninth House and The Power.

When Lee, a first year at Smith, is raped under eerie circumstances during orientation week by an Amherst frat boy, she's quickly disillusioned by her lack of recourse. As her trauma boils within her, Lee is selected for an exclusive seminar on Gender, Power, and Witchcraft, where she meets Luna (an alluring Brooklyn hipster), Gabi (who has a laundry list of phobias), and Charlotte (a waifish, chill international student). Granted a charter for a coven and suddenly in possession of real magic, the four girls are tasked by their aloof Professor with covertly retrieving a grimoire that an Amherst fraternity has gotten their hands on. But when the witches realize the frat brothers are using magic to commit and cover up sexual assault all over Northampton, their exploits escalate into vigilante justice. As Lee's thirst for revenge on her rapist grows, things spiral out of control, pitting witch against witch as they must wrestle with how far one is willing to go to heal.

Consensual Hex is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of a young woman coming of age, uncovering the ways in which love and obsession and looking to fit in can go hand in hand. Lee, an outstanding, magical anti-heroine, refuses to be pigeonholed as a model victim or a horrific example. Instead, her caustic voice demands our attention, clawing out from every page, equally vicious and vulnerable as she lures us, then dares us, to transgress. Dark, biting, and archly camp, Consensual Hex announces Harlowe as a significant talent.







Northern Wrath
The Hanged God Trilogy 1
Solaris, October 27, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 700 pages
"Packs a punch worthy of the Thunderer himself. It rocks!" -- Joanne Harris, author of The Gospel of Loki

“Holdt wows in her Norse mythology–inspired debut…an electrifying adventure” -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods. A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim. A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.

The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief's wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.

Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.

"Ferocious, compelling, fiercely beautiful. Fantasy at its very best." -- Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust series

“This is fantasy as it should be written: savage, liminal, full of wonder and magic.” -- Gavin G. Smith, author of The Bastard Legion series

“A promising start for a series that will gratify lovers of epic tales.” -- Aurealis






Once Again
Alcove Press, October 6, 2020
Hardcover and eBook 
An imaginative, emotional debut novel for fans of Ann Patchett about one woman’s fight to save her daughter from repeating a deadly fate.

What if you had one chance to save someone you lost?

Isolated in the aftermath of tragedy, Erin Fullarton has felt barely alive since the loss of her young daughter, Korrie. She tries to mark the milestones her therapist suggests–like today, the 500th day without Korrie–but moving through grief is like swimming against a dark current.

Her estranged husband, Zac, a brilliant astrophysicist, seems to be coping better. Lost in his work, he’s perfecting his model of a stunning cosmological phenomenon, one he predicts will occur today–an event so rare, it keeps him from being able to acknowledge Erin’s coinciding milestone.

But when Erin receives a phone call from her daughter’s school, the same call she received five hundred days earlier when Korrie was still alive, Erin realizes something is happening. Or happening again. Struggling to understand the sudden shifts in time, she pieces together that the phenomenon Zac is tracking may have presented her with the gift of a lifetime: the chance to save her daughter.

Unable to reach Zac or convince the authorities of what is happening, Erin is forced to find the answer on her own. Erin must battle to keep the past from repeating–or risk losing her daughter for good.





Kevin Lambert
David Winkler (Translator)

You Will Love What You Have Killed
Biblioasis, October 6, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 186 pages
Faldistoire’s grandfather thinks he’s a ghost. Sylvie’s mother reads tarot and summons stormclouds to mete her witch’s justice. Behind his Dad of the Year demeanour, Sébastien’s father hides dark designs. It’s Croustine’s grandfather who makes the boy a pair of slippers from the dead family dog, but it’s his father, the cannily-named Kevin Lambert, who always seems to be nearby when tragedy strikes, and in the cemetery, under the baleful eyes of toads, small graves are dug one after the other: Chicoutimi, Quebec, is a dangerous place for children. But these young victims of rape, arbitrary violence, and senseless murder keep coming back from the dead. They return to school, explore their sexualities, keep tabs on grown-up sins—and plot their apocalyptic retribution.

Surreal and darkly comic, this debut novel by Kevin Lambert, one of the most celebrated and controversial writers to come out of Quebec in recent memory, takes the adult world to task—and then takes revenge.






The Night Will Find Us
Keylight Books, October 20, 2020
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
They say never go into the woods at night…

School’s out for summer and that means one thing to Parker, Chloe, and their four friends: a well-deserved camping trip in the Pine Barrens, a million-acre forest deep in the heart of New Jersey. But when old grudges erupt, an argument escalates into the unthinkable, leaving one of them dead and the killer missing. As darkness descends and those left alive try to determine a course of action, the forest around them begins to change…

In the morning, more of the group has vanished and the path that led them into the woods is gone―as if consumed by the forest itself. Lost and hungry, the remaining friends set out to find help, only to realize that the forest seems to have other plans―a darker, ancient horror lies dead and dreaming in a lake in the center of the woods. And it’s calling to them.

Meanwhile, deep in the trees, the killer is still at large, and one of the group’s own has started to transform and warp into something other. Something inhuman. Something that wants to feast.

Banding together to survive, the friends soon begin to understand the true nature of the horror waiting for them in the Pine Barrens―and that not all of them will make it out alive.






The Witch Hunter
Berkley, October 27, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
A shocking murder in an affluent Helsinki suburb has ties to witchcraft and the occult in this thrilling U.S. debut from Finnish author Max Seeck.

A bestselling author’s wife has been found dead in a gorgeous black evening gown, sitting at the head of an empty dining table. Her most chilling feature—her face is frozen in a ghastly smile.

At first it seems as though a deranged psychopath is reenacting the gruesome murders from the Witch Hunt trilogy, bestsellers written by the victim’s husband. But investigator Jessica Niemi soon realizes she’s not looking for a single killer but rather for dozens of believers in a sinister form of witchcraft who know her every move and are always one step ahead.

As the bodies start piling up, Jessica knows they won’t stop until they get what they want. And when her dark past comes to light, Jessica finds herself battling her own demons while desperately trying to catch a coven of killers before they claim their next victim.






White Trash Warlock
The Adam Binder Novels 1
Blackstone Publishing, October 13, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.

Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.

It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings … including his first love.


Interview with Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter

Please welcome Andrea Stewart to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Bone Shard Daughter was published on September 8, 2020 by Orbit.



Interview with Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter




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

Andrea:  The first fiction piece I remember writing was in response to a creative writing prompt in fifth grade. The prompt was to choose an item made of clay and to write about it coming to life. I wrote about the statue of a peregrine falcon coming to life and flying me away to a magical land where I got to meet other clay creatures that had come to life. My teacher loved it and encouraged me to continue writing, and that's how I started down this whole road! 
 
 
 
TQ:  Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? 
 
Andrea:  I'm definitely a plotter. I like to have a road map of where I'm going, and it feels like I get there faster when I have one. I start with a pitch that outlines the main conflict, then I write a couple chapters to get a feel for the world and the voices, then I do a chapter-by-chapter outline. Once I have that nailed down to my satisfaction, I start drafting from beginning to end. That said, things often change a little while I write! 
 
 
 
TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? 
 
Andrea:  my writing. I really want people to feel like they have that sense of place when they're reading. The news, history, my personal experiences—all are things that end up coloring my work. 
 
 
 
TQ:  Describe The Bone Shard Daughter using only 5 words. 
 
Andrea:  Revolution, identity, magic, islands, and keys. 
 
 
 
TQ:  Tell us something about The Bone Shard Daughter that is not found in the book description. 
 
Andrea:  I know this has surprised some people, so even though the description focuses on Lin's point of view, there are actually several point-of-view characters in the book. It follows Lin, Jovis, Ranami and Phalue, and Sand. Each character has their part to play in the overall story. 
 
 
 
TQ:  What inspired you to write The Bone Shard Daughter? What appeals to you about writing Epic Fantasy? 
 
Andrea:  The seed of inspiration started for me at the San Antonio WorldCon, when I went to lunch at the food court with my friends. My friend Marina Lostetter (who has since had a SF trilogy out and has a fantasy trilogy from Tor on the way) nearly choked on a piece of bone in her lunch. It started me thinking about using shards of bone as a source of magic. Of course, the idea evolved and grew a lot from there, and I added a lot of elements I enjoy seeing in books. It stewed in my brain for a while as I was working on other things. Once the ideas felt ready to me, I sat down and wrote the book! 

There's a lot that appeals to me about writing epic fantasy. I love the high stakes of it all—the clash of power and influence, the magic, the world-changing revelations. The scope allows for grand storytelling as well as allowing you to tie events to smaller, more intimate moments. And there's that sense of wonder that always seems to accompany epic fantasy. You can transport a reader to an utterly strange and new landscape, plus give them a sense of sweeping history, all from the comfort of their couch. 
 
 
 
TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Bone Shard Daughter? 
 
Andrea:  I checked out a lot of books from the library and read a lot of Wikipedia articles. I don't take a lot of notes when I research. I'm generally not trying to capture a particular time period or a particular place, but reading about historical events and specific places does help me pick out threads and patterns of what I want to see in my world. I also like to read travel guides and sometimes to watch some travel videos. The little details are important to me, and just looking at the photos and the things in the background can sometimes provide me with inspiration on what things I should include when writing. 
 
 
 
TQ:  Please tell us about the cover for The Bone Shard Daughter.
 
Andrea:  The art was done by Sasha Vinogradova and the design by Lauren Panepinto. The cover is less a direct representation of a scene in the novel and more representative of the elements in the novel as a whole. I love it so much! It pulls together so many important elements—the city buildings, the waves, the ships, and the key. And if you look closely, you'll notice a little creature in the bow of the key... 
 
 
TQ:  In The Bone Shard Daughter who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? 
 
Andrea:  I think in some ways Jovis was the easiest to write. He's got my silly sense of humor, and often feels exasperated with himself—something I deeply relate to. He's a fair bit grumpier than I am, but I also found it fun to write in that aspect of his personality. Sand was probably the most difficult to write. She starts, in some ways, much like a blank slate. Her circumstances are the most mysterious of all the characters, and she's figuring out what they mean as the story progresses. It's difficult to write a character like that in an engaging way, I think!
 
 
 
TQ:  Does The Bone Shard Daughter touch on any social issues?
 
Andrea:  I definitely tried to touch on some social issues. Ranami and Phalue's storyline is centered around their differences of privilege—they both love one another but are coming from two very different places in society. If they can't find a way to bridge that gap between them, their relationship falls apart and their whole island suffers for it. Lin is the daughter of the Emperor, trying to reclaim her place as heir. Although she focuses on this, she eventually has to decide if she wants to be the sort of leader her father has been or if she wants to take a different, less oppressive path. And Jovis is on a personal mission, one that ends up clashing with the greater purpose of the brewing revolution. He has to decide how much responsibility he has to others and to society, and whether that takes precedence over his personal needs. 
 
 
 
TQ:  Which question about The Bone Shard Daughter do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it! 
 
Andrea:  “Did you think The Bone Shard Daughter would be published when you were writing it?” 
 
I did not! When it went out on submission, I immediately started working on a new, completely different book so I wouldn't feel as bad if no one wanted to buy it. I'd had two prior books go out on submission to publishers that didn't sell, so the realistic part of me thought I'd just keep on to the next thing—I hadn't the best track record! I did feel like it was the best thing I'd written so far, but I always felt that way. I do try to improve with each book. 
 
 
 
TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Bone Shard Daughter. 
 
Andrea:  I think my favorite is: "I was Lin. I was the Emperor's daughter. And I would show him that even broken daughters could wield power." It just marks a big turning point for her and ties back to the very beginning. 
 
 
 
TQ:  What's next?
 
Andrea:  Next up are the next two books in The Drowning Empire trilogy, probably a sci-fi with time bubbles I've been fiddling with, and more epic fantasy in strange new worlds! I've got so many ideas and so many places I want to show people! 
 
 
 
TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery!
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Bone Shard Daughter
The Drowning Empire 1
Orbit, September 8, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter
Introducing a major new voice in epic fantasy: in an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor, will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.






About Andrea 

Interview with Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter

Andrea Stewart is the daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. Her parents always emphasized science and education, so she spent her childhood immersed in Star Trek and odd-smelling library books. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California, and in addition to writing, can be found herding cats, looking at birds, and falling down research rabbit holes. 






Website ~ Twitter @AndreaGStewart

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2020 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it. 

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on September 30, 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2020 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto
Cover art by Sasha Vinogradova
Cover copyright © 2020 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Daniel Strange





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover design by Elizabeth Story
Intial concepts by Francesca Myman





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art by Sam Gretton





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Jacket design by Yeon Kim
Jacket Image © Chipmunk131 /Shutterstock (silhouette)





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover by Chris Panatier and Glen Wilkins





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts
Cover art by Anka Lavriv
Cover and interior design by Dana Li





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire


Please welcome Dan Hanks to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire was published on September 8, 2020 by Angry Robot.



Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire




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

Dan:  The very first I can remember, at about age 9, was a straight rip off of the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom mine cart chase, followed by some gruesome attack by the Hoth wampa from The Empire Strikes Back. I was deservedly called out for my copying and didn’t write another story (that I can remember) for years afterwards. However, I’m pretty proud I at least knew I should copy from the best.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Dan:  I’ve tried everything, but I’ve found my groove right in the middle. I like to plot out my structure so I know where the story rises and falls and where the beats roughly need to be. Yet in between these plot points I really prefer to fly by the seat of my pants and give the characters licence to roam. That way the writing process is still exciting, because I have no idea how they will get from A to B, but I know that at the end of the first draft it’s going to be structurally pretty sound. (Usually.)



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Dan:  Twitter. And I’m only half joking, because there are so many distractions and feeds to doomscroll that it’s incredibly difficult to start writing. Once I get those first few words down, it’s okay. But the first step continues to be the trickiest part of the process.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does being a "vastly overqualified archaeologist" influence your writing?

Dan:  I always use the “vastly overqualified archaeologist” title as a bit of a joke, because even with two degrees in the subject I still wasn’t able to earn a long-term career in the field. Mainly because I should have spent my time in an actual field doing the work instead of reading about it.

However, I adored my time studying archaeology and the knowledge I soaked up gave me the confidence to tackle some of the aspects of the subject that lie at the heart of this book. Admittedly, I also spent far too much time studying the more fringe elements of archaeology – flood myths, catastrophes, lost centres of information – which directly influenced the story itself.

In terms of general influences, I’m still in a place where 80s movies are playing a big role. The sense of storytelling fun from that era is something I miss and am trying to channel into my writing.



TQDescribe Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire using only 5 words.

Dan:  Can I go for five unconnected words?

Archaeology Adventure Exhaustion Monsters Seaplane



TQTell us something about Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire that is not found in the book description.

Dan:  Great question! Wow, okay.

The book was originally called ‘Captain Moxley and the Ashes of the Gods’. The team at Angry Robot came up with the current and much better title, but both related to the idea that the end goal of this book – the Hall of Records - is connected to a much wider universe. It’s all about the remnants of empire. And this works on a couple of levels in the book, it’s not just about physical material culture left behind, but ideologies too.



TQWhat inspired you to write Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire?

Dan:  I love Indiana Jones. Grew up with the first three movies and couldn’t wait to see the fourth. I’ve since made my peace with it, but my initial viewing didn’t sit well and prompted me to rather egotistically think I could write my own – so I sat down and wrote a script of Indy 5.

This obviously wasn’t going to go anywhere. So I decided to revise it with new characters and a more twisted and fantastical story, before eventually adapting it into a book and having it evolve even more. And my inspiration behind this rewrite was to create a hero who was far more exhausted and cynical than any I’d seen before in this type of adventure. Someone who also saw the age-old archaeological treasure hunt in a different light. And that someone was Captain Samantha Moxley.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire?

Dan:  This is a fantastical alternate history adventure… so my research was fairly light! I knew I could draw on the archaeological thinking already in my head for that core plotline, so my main concern was trying to convey the 1950s setting in an authentic light (while not distracting from the story). And that was a lot of fun, because it’s a really fascinating era.

I wanted Sam to be a former Spitfire pilot because my grandfather was one and I grew up wanting to be one myself. And although she isn’t drawn from any particular person, there are a wealth of stories of incredible women from the Second World War that I used to give her that stubborn spirit and refusal to bow down in the face of oppression. The brilliant author Tara Moss recently wrote a piece on seven of these women which you should totally take a few minutes to read: https://msmagazine.com/2020/09/02/seven-indomitable-women-of-world-war-ii/




TQPlease tell us about the cover for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire.

Dan:  The cover is a dream. Literally, this has been my dream for as long as I’ve been writing. I love those old school film poster style illustrations and the artist here, Dan Strange, is an absolute master of them. I saw his work initially on a book by S.A. Sidor called Fury From the Tomb and fell in love with that so much (the book is also AMAZING). So when Angry Robot suggested Dan should be my cover artist I was so incredibly happy. And this cover is perfect. I couldn’t have wished for anything better.

Does it depict anything from the novel? Yes! In that old school style you’ve got the main cast, you’ve got a couple of hints about set pieces, you’ve got a hint of a badder baddie than the bad guy you can see, and there is an artefact too. Also some weird, undead hands at the sides, which I guess you might see too…



TQIn Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Dan:  Sam was the most fun. Writing someone who reacts badly to corrupt and shady governments and is tired of everyone’s crap – as most of us are in 2020 – was a joy. Especially because she gets to fight back. Wish fulfilment? Maybe.

The hardest… I’m not sure. I had to take more time with one of the ‘bad guys’, a military man called Colonel Arif, because I wanted to give him a level of righteousness which we can understand. Yes, he’s bad. But also… he’s right. He’s justified in his hatred of western interference in Egypt and his distrust of the American Agents (and Sam). He also has an arguably noble intention of restoring his country’s position as a shining light on the international stage. So that took a few versions and some brilliant guidance from my editor Eleanor Teasdale to get right.



TQDoes Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire touch on any social issues?

Dan:  Absolutely. Storytelling versions of archaeology have always made it seem romantic. Travelling the world, picking up mystical artefacts, and taking them back to your country to show ‘the world’. Yet this idea is rooted in colonialism. Those aren’t our artefacts to take away from their cultural context or display in our countries for a select group of outsiders to ogle.

I was taught old school archaeology. I appreciate the importance of studying our past and I LOVE museums as places of learning and safeguarding material culture. But thanks to some powerful voices out there, I now understand how the execution of these concepts has been – and can still be – problematic. So this issue is explored in the book as a clash of thinking between our cynical hero and her archaeologist sister.



TQWhich question about Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Dan:

“This story reminded me of that old click and point adventure game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Was that intentional?”
“Why yes, thank you so much for noticing! I loved that game when I was a teenager and it played a huge part in influencing some of the story and the general feel of lots of this book.”



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire.

“Our gaze into history should always be humble and respectful and undertaken with a light touch.”

I love this quote from Sam’s older professor friend Teddy, not only because it’s pretty much how I feel, but also because it comes shortly before the destruction of a whole site of ancient artefacts and tons of fighting. Best laid plans and all that.



TQWhat's next?

Dan:  I’m heading towards the end of a middle-aged-parent-ghostbusters-at-Christmas story right now, as well as working on something else which is a huge, exciting project. So I’m busy writing other books and finally in a position where I can give them my full focus, after many years of writing around day jobs and freelance gigs.

As for future Captain Moxley adventures… I’d love to write more. Let’s see what happens. :)



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dan:  Thanks so much for having me and for so many wonderful questions!





Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 394 pages

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
An ex-Spitfire pilot is dragged into a race against a shadowy government agency to unlock the secrets of the lost empire of Atlantis…

In the post-war peace of 1952, ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley should be done fighting bad guys. Instead, she finds herself dragged into a clash with a mysterious US government agency known as The Nine, when they take an interest in the work of Jess, her archaeologist sister.

Pursued by The Nine, former Nazis, and a host of otherworldly monsters, Sam must fight to protect her sister and uncover two hidden keys which promise to unlock the greatest archaeological find in history: the fabled Hall of Records.

From the skies over New York, to the catacombs of Paris, and finally to the ruins of Ancient Egypt, her quest takes her into the ashes of the past in search of the dying embers of an empire….and a discovery that could transform the world, or bring it to a terrible end.

File Under: Fantasy  [ Top Women | Riff-RAF | Pyramid Scheme | Bash the Fash ]





About Dan

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
Dan is a writer, editor, and vastly overqualified archaeologist who has lived everywhere from London to Hertfordshire to Manchester to Sydney, which explains the panic in his eyes anytime someone asks “where are you from?”. Thankfully he is now settled in the rolling green hills of the Peak District with his human family and fluffy sidekicks Indy and Maverick, where he writes books, screenplays and comics.








Website  ~  Twitter @dan_hanks

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist


Please welcome Chris Panatier to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Phlebotomist was published on September 8, 2020 by Angry Robot.



Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist




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

Chris:  Thanks for asking me onto your blog! As far as my first fiction piece, this would have been during grade school, when I was perhaps ten or eleven years old. I recall some slapped together knight and dragon fantasies based on some Dungeons & Dragons I’d played. I never wrote more than three or four pages as I discovered that writing is hard and I was lazy. As a kid I was definitely more attracted to the idea of writing rather than the actual doing of it.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Chris:  I am a total pantser when I sit down to write the words, but it would be inaccurate for me to say I do that to the exclusion of plotting. I do an immense amount of plotting before I begin the book, though I write down very little. I don’t like to feel hemmed in or committed to ideas and writing them down seems to do that. The premise, character, and plot ideas sit in my brain like a nebula and I just let them coagulate on their own. At some point, when the general direction becomes clear, I’ll sit down to write. Things are never fully fleshed out before I start, as the process tends to do this for me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Chris:  Valid self-doubt. Writers like to talk about imposter syndrome. Some of it is likely attributable to the particular neuroses that accompanies writing. I think it has something to do with the empathy and observational awareness we’re constantly employing in order to understand characters and people. Writers are already wired, I think, to be hypervigilant and overly self-critical. For me, this invariably crops up during the writing process when comparing my imagined story to what actually ends up on the page. They don’t always match no matter how hard I try.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Chris:  Having been a visual artist for so long before I got serious about writing, I knew I loved creating something from nothing. Turns out I enjoy building with words even more than I do with pencil, ink, or watercolor. And I want to push that creativity as far as I possibly can while still maintaining a coherent story. I am influenced and inspired by writers who do that. I think about Cameron Hurley, Philip K. Dick, Jeff Vandermeer, N.K. Jemisin, and Tamsyn Muir right off the bat.



TQ Describe The Phlebotomist using only 5 words.

Chris:  Oppression. Blood. Grandmother. Vengeance. Fun!



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

Chris:  There’s a murderous teenager in it.



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

Chris:  I was (and am) very angry about income inequality and the lengths to which the ruling class will go to keep the rest of the population under its boot. I decided that marrying a near future science fiction story with an apt fantasy trope was the best way to make my point. Science Fiction has always been such a great way to explore social and political issues. Sometimes when you remove events and conflicts from their present context and place them into another setting, they gain clarity. Also, readers’ alliances and prejudices are often challenged.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Phlebotomist?

Chris:  Oh, a lot. The society of The Phlebotomist is based upon a government-mandated blood draw called the Harvest and a cash-for-blood exchange called the Trade. There is varying demand for each of the blood types based on their compatibility with potential recipients—so each type fetches a different price. Society is thus segregated by blood type. Since I was creating an economy based on blood, I had to make sure it was scientifically accurate. I did plenty of internet research, bought a Phlebotomist’s Quick Reference Guide (laminated), and reached out to experts in the area. Some even talked to me! Amazing.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Phlebotomist.

Chris:  This cover brings me absolute joy. I wanted it to be hot pink from day one and this thing is more like surface-of-the-sun pink. It’s brilliant. Angry Robot keyed in on doing a vintage medical illustration theme, which I love. I ended up doing the illustration of the heart and lilies. The cover itself has five distinct nods to parts of the story.



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

Chris:  The excommunicated marine long-gun specialist turned blood hacker, ‘Lock’ came most naturally to me. She’s this older woman who is tired of your shit. I had a very specific old friend in mind when I wrote her. Maybe that’s why her distractable manner of speaking—a hybrid tech-slash-frontier gibberish—came so naturally to me. She’s also a bit unhinged. So I relate.

The hardest character to write was the protagonist, Willa. This is interesting because I know who she is. Her personality, brains, values, fears, and motives were all very clear to me from the start. It got hard when she was thrust into a string of increasingly bonkers situations that nobody in history has ever actually been subject to. Figuring out how a real person would react when dropped into one of these scenarios had me doing a lot of trial and error to make sure I got it right.



TQDoes The Phlebotomist touch on any social issues?

ChrisThe Phlebotomist is an allegory for a number of social issues. Segregation is front and center. Interestingly, this is an issue that many people (including a number of Justices on our Supreme Court) might believe is no longer relevant, but I think it’s more relevant than ever. The story also grapples with wealth inequality, urban food deserts, privacy, and consent.



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

Chris:

Q: Did you ever entertain any other potential titles for the book?
A: I briefly considered calling it The Evens. If you read it, you’ll see why!



TQ Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Phlebotomist.

Chris:

“Holy shit, Willa, you look like Beelzebub,” said Lock. “Rub a little of that inside Llydia so it looks like you brained yourself genuinely.”



TQWhat's next?

Chris:  I have a few short stories coming out soon. I’m always plugging away on those as it’s nice to start and finish something when novels take so long. As for novels, I took a flyer on this absolutely insane premise and I’m almost done with the first draft. It’s so nuts that I don’t know if I’ll ever even show it to anyone. Sort of The Matrix + Monsters, Inc., but with angels and they’re all drunk on turpentine. Maybe I’m drunk on turpentine.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chris:  Thank you very much!





The Phlebotomist
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 344 pages

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist
In a near future where citizens are subject to the mandatory blood draw, government phlebotomist Willa Wallace witnesses an event that makes her question her whole world…

To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was instituted to pass blood to those affected by radiation. But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Government blood contractor, Patriot, rewards you generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give the most, gets the most in return.

While working as a reaper taking collections for the Harvest, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete technique that could rebalance the city. But in her quest to set things into motion, she uncovers a horrifying secret that cuts to the heart of everything.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Blood Will Out | This Might Hurt a Bit | Be positive | Bloody Nightmare ]





About Chris

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist
Chris Panatier lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. He plays himself on Twitter @chrisjpanatier.

Website  ~  Twitter

Facebook  ~  Tumblr

Instagram

Interview with Alice James, author of Grave Secrets


Please welcome Alice James to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Grave Secrets was published on September 1, 2020 by Solaris.



Interview with Alice James, author of Grave Secrets




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

Alice:  When I was little, I was obsessed with dragons and elves – also boiled frankfurter sausages, but that’s another story. My mum was disappointed, I think because she was a mahoosive Science Fiction fan but also she hated frankfurters. Anyway, my sister and I wrote a very complicated saga set on a magical world with a canal that went all the way round. Our heroine got stranded alone on the lower deck of an abandoned boat – I have no idea how – and gradually found her way to the upper roof where of course there was an enchanted jungle garden filled with elves and Nice Things. Cue happily ever after the end yada yada. I don’t have a copy of it anywhere, sadly, but my sister and I still call it The Barge Story and argue about plot elements. Don’t listen to her, by the way. She’s wrong.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Alice:  Total 100% pantser – no question, no doubt. I start my books with a strong feeling of atmosphere and one or two key scenes that I like the idea of … and then I just span backwards to find out how they got set up in the first place and forwards to find out what happens as a consequence. I don’t have the organisational abilities to be a plotter. I am bad enough at planning breakfast. As a result breakfast is often just coffee and complaining – which is bad, but not as bad as no coffee. I talk to writers who have a spreadsheet at hand all the time, flow diagrams, coded folders... I am so disorganised the closest I get to a timeline is an incomplete list of character names so I can remember how to spell them. My books are very very character driven, and the plot just has to work around that.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alice:  Keeping things short. My agent never asks for additions, just cuts. (He always takes 99% of the sex scenes out too – what’s with that?) I think it’s because as a wire journalist, which I was for nine years, you are always crimping down everything to fit the page, and so it’s nice to take a more freeform approach in creative writing. But there’s got to be a happy medium set between writing soliloquies and getting on with the story line. When we were editing Grave Secrets, my agent would say: “Where’s the plot gone this time, Alice? Did it roll under the sofa?” and I would sigh and get out my red pen.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Alice:  I love to travel, and do think that influences me. I will see a fascinating geographical location and start setting things up in it in my head… My Dad is a history buff, too, and he is always phoning me up to tell me a fascinating factoid about the ancient Persian army or how they first farmed vanilla in Madagascar. That often plants little seedlings in my brain. And I read way too many novels and comics and watch too many films as well – not to mention play too many computer games – so I am always immersing myself in new fantasy and science fiction.



TQDescribe Grave Secrets using only 5 words.

Alice:  “Whodunit with zombies and vampires” – that’s five, right?



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

Alice:  OK, I don’t know if I have told anyone this yet, but I gave my Dad a cameo role. He’s the coroner who is also a conveyancing solicitor! He gets a slightly larger part in the later books but I liked the idea of sliding something personal like that in for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Growing up in the countryside as a coroner’s daughter was eye opening. The police would ring all the time, and of course it was always about the deaths that were unclear – or all too clear in Bad Ways. I don’t view death as entertaining, quite the opposite, but I had to take a very pragmatic approach to it from an early age because it was all around me all the time.



TQWhat inspired you to write Grave Secrets? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

Alice:  I love the genre. I first came across it at uni when a friend leant me the first in the Barbara Hambly James Asher books, Travelling with the Dead. I think the allure for a lot of people is that you take the real world and change just this one thing: you make a little bit of the darkness real. The macabre and the numinous creep out of your imagination and into reality. It makes the genres uncomfortably relatable.

For Grave Secrets, I was inadvertently inspired by a couple of books I was reading. One was a volume of short stories about zombies, and I didn’t like it because not one of the stories was actually about the zombies. It was just about people who encounter zombies. I thought it missed a trick and I decided to fill that gap.

The second books was a glorious genre mashup, the first of the Gaslight series of short stories that pitch Sherlock Holmes against the eldritch forces of darkness. That’s where I decided that cosy crime, romance, zombies, vampires, horror and a whodunit could all join forces with an LGBT+ friendly Aga saga under one cover.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Grave Secrets?

Alice:  Mostly I just cheated and wrote about what I know – messing up relationships, growing up in Staffordshire, having a totally crap car, spending too much on clothes, taking a very random degree at Bristol University. I don’t think my heroine and I have a lot in common character-wise, but we have quite a lot of overlapping background due to me being lazy and not wanting to do a lot of research.

But when I stepped out of my comfort zone, I did do some research. For example, there is a scene with a nail gun – no spoilers, I promise – but I had never used a nail gun so I went out and bought one. It’s been remarkably useful to be honest! Money not wasted.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Grave Secrets.

Alice:  I love that cover so much. We went through many, many versions because my editor Kate Coe and my agent Simon Kavanagh were most determined to find a visual that screamed Cosy Crime and Urban Fantasy in equal amounts. The artist is the amazing Sam Gretton, and Sam somehow found a way of keeping us all happy and ticking every box and not just leaving the building Elvis-style when we requested Yet Another Rework. Sam even redid everything a final time, when it was honestly already gorgeous, because I moaned that the car wasn’t actually the heroine Toni’s car. (She drives a clapped-out vintage Morris Traveller.)

There are loads of little touches that just warm my heart, too. I asked if Sam could add the little skull in the ‘I’ of my name, and it’s just the cutest thing ever. For styling, I appreciate how the subheading is the text on the gravestone instead of just underneath the title and the way Solaris tucked their spine logo into the gravestone....

There were a lot of ideas that we threw about and then threw out too. The process of creating a book cover is a lot more labyrinthine than I realised. But I am very fortunate in that Solaris is part of the Rebellion group, with its graphic novel empire, so they know an awful lot about artwork compared with many publishers.



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

Alice:  Toni’s brother has a boyfriend called Henry, and he was super easy to write because he is the only character – apart from the coroner – who is shamelessly based on a real person. He’s based on a cousin of mine, who is always chilled and reassuring even when the sky is falling, the hedge has caught fire and you have run out of wine.

The toughest was probably Grace, one of the vampires who is a bit part in this book but has more airplay later in the series, because I just don’t know anyone like her. She is hard. She is cool and collected. She shows little soft emotion on the surface but clearly has a lot that’s passionate hidden underneath. I worked on her because I wanted her to be convincing, but in fairness I don’t think she comes into her own until Book Two.



TQDoes Grave Secrets touch on any social issues?

Alice:  Not intentionally, but I do often find when I have finished any creative writing that many of my main characters are bisexual. It’s not something I plan for, and it tends to be pointed out to me by my proof readers.

Elsewhere, with Toni – who is the lead character in Grave Secrets – I wanted to avoid the “feisty female” trope, because I didn’t want her to be stereotyped in that way even though she certainly has some of those elements. She is passionate. She is flawed. She makes decisions in haste and regrets them. She is always broke. She wants to be driven by her head but her heart is always in the way. She is loyal. She gets scared. She can be self-confident or insecure. I think I have ended up with someone who is feminine but a feminist, who has to battle the sexism of modern day England, as well as vampires and other evils, but is ready to do so.



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

Alice:  “Please can we make a long-running HBO series of your novel?” No, seriously, I love it when people ask questions full stop because it means they have read the book and are interested in finding out more. I would like to be asked what I see making Grave Secrets different from other urban fantasies… and it’s my no-angst pledge. The one thing I went overboard with when I wrote this was to try to keep it 100% free of angst:

Think about the first Star Wars film. Death, suffering, betrayal, totalitarian regimes committing genocide on a whim – and yet it’s all done with such a light touch that you are lifted up not cast down. A lot of urban fantasies with female protagonists in feature rape, too, and a lot of sex where everything is so fraught that the characters don’t appear to be actually enjoying it. I was determined that if my characters got any shagging in, everyone would be having A Good Time. And Toni faces a lot of Bad Stuff but, while she gets scared or set back, she never gives in to despair. So there are some tough scenes in the book, and it’s not free of gore because at the end of the day it’s also horror, but there is no drag-me-down angst.



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

Alice:
  • Here’s one I am like: “Please Oscar, try shutting up again. It was working really well.”
  • I think this one is also a Toni classic: “Round here, we’d say you got all the custard but not the mustard, if you get my drift, Mr Gambarini.”
  • And just to keep people going: “He didn’t look particularly cool with his trousers at half-mast and his todger wagging about, and I could tell he knew it.”


TQWhat's next?

Alice:  So, this is a series of ten, and I am on volume eight, so there is still some work to go on the Lavington Windsor Mysteries, I know! That said, I have put them down for now until after the launch of Grave Secrets because I find it confusing to work on two books from the same series at the same time.

In terms of my next projects, I just finished my first science fiction novel. I do love it and I can’t wait for people to read it. It’s got the whole shebang: tentacled aliens, spaceships on fire, interstellar war, abandoned planets and a locked room murder mystery set in space.

My current work is an old-fashioned swords and sorcery trilogy with deserts and dragons. It’s the first creative thing that I have written that is not a mystery, and that gives me a lot more flexibility in terms of where I take the narrative. That’s surprisingly unhelpful, though. In a mystery novel, you have to solve it shortly and you have to do so just before the end, so much of the story flow is predetermined. With this one, I have to make it up all myself which is harder! But it’s got some great characters and I am having to learn about sword fighting and ancient Egyptian mythology. Watch this space!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alice:  Thank you! Ask me again next year when volume two is out…

TQAbsolutely!





Grave Secrets
The Lavington Windsor Mysteries 1
Solaris, September 1, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages

Interview with Alice James, author of Grave Secrets
Agatha Raisin meets Sookie Stackhouse, with croquet and zombies.

"Fun, fast debut... Fans of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse will want to check out Toni." -- Publishers Weekly

Toni Windsor is trying to live a quiet life in the green and pleasant county of Staffordshire. She'd love to finally master the rules of croquet, acquire a decent boyfriend and make some commission as an estate agent.

All that might have to wait, though, because there are zombies rising from their graves, vampires sneaking out of their coffins and a murder to solve.

And it's all made rather more complicated by the fact that she's the one raising all the zombies. Oh, and she's dating one of the vampires too. Really, what's a girl meant to do?

"Raises the zombie genre from the grave."- Jack Hayes

"Dead funny."- Mark Beech


Readers are loving the newest necromancer in town. Read advance praise for Grave Secrets from NetGalley:

"Heads up to all fans of True Blood and Buffy, our new favourite heroine is here, she's a necromancer, and she's kind of a hot mess!"- NetGalley review

"A thrilling five-star read."- NetGalley review

"A fun filled, laugh out loud page turner."- NetGalley review





About Alice

Interview with Alice James, author of Grave Secrets
Alice works as a writer, specialising in finance and travel. She is currently International Editor for Dante Magazine, who don’t seem to mind that all her columns are about getting lost in a different international destination, and Content Writer for the French business school EDHEC. She was previously a journalist and TV presenter for Bloomberg before becoming press and PR director of a $1 billion US hedge fund for 18 months. That turned out to be the worst period in history for hedge funds, so she retired wounded and decided that perhaps writing fantasy was a safer career. She has also worked as a project manager, creating business supplements for The Sunday Times, which involved more spreadsheets than she would like to see again. Ever. Alice has a degree in Maths from Bristol University – and half of a diploma in silversmithing from UCE University because it turns out that making the ladies’ version of the One Ring is a lot harder than she thought. She likes cats and ramen noodles and lives in a converted chapel in Oxfordshire because when people tell you that you will grow out of being a Goth, what they actually mean is that they’d like their black leather coat back now. She has written nine and a half novels; recently an interfering friend suggested that she should trying finding a publisher.

Website  ~ Twitter

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts



2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts


There are 14 debuts for September 2020.

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

The September 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 September cover for the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on or about September 15, 2020.



Nadia Afifi

The Sentient
Flame Tree Publishing, September 8, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
"Afifi’s staggering and un-put-downable debut offers a fresh and feminist-forward take on cloning [...] This riveting debut is a must-have for any sci-fi fan."— Publishers Weekly starred review

Included in Library Journal's "Rise of the Monsters: Top Horror Titles and Trends Coming This Season

Amira Valdez is a brilliant neuroscientist trying to put her past on a religious compound behind her. But when she’s assigned to a controversial cloning project, her dreams of working in space are placed in jeopardy. Using her talents as a reader of memories, Amira uncovers a conspiracy to stop the creation of the first human clone – at all costs.
As she unravels the mystery, Amira navigates a dangerous world populated by anti-cloning militants, scientists with hidden agendas, and a mysterious New Age movement. In the process, Amira uncovers an even darker secret, one that forces her to confront her own past.





Natalka Burian

Daughters of the Wild
Park Row, September 22, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
(D - Adult)

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
“A gorgeous, different, and completely engrossing book. Burian’s writing is transporting -- and exactly what I needed right now.”
— Jessica Valenti, author of
Sex Object: A Memoir

In rural West Virginia, Joanie and her foster siblings live on a farm tending a mysterious plant called the vine. The older girls are responsible for cultivating the vine, performing sacred rituals to make it grow. After Joanie’s arranged marriage goes horribly wrong, leaving her widowed and with a baby, she plots her escape with the help of her foster brother, Cello.

But before they can get away, her baby goes missing and Joanie, desperate to find him, turns to the vine, understanding it to be far more powerful than her siblings realize. She begins performing generations-old rituals to summon the vine’s power and goes on a perilous journey into the wild, pushing the boundaries of her strength and sanity to bring her son home.

Daughters of the Wild is an utterly absorbing debut that explores the female mind in captivity and the ways in which both nature and women fight domination. Like The Bell Jar set in rural Appalachia, Daughters of the Wild introduces a fierce new heroine and a striking new voice in fiction.





K-Ming Chang

Bestiary
One World, September 29, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family’s queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.

LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • “Epic and intimate at once, Bestiary brings myth to visceral life. K-Ming Chang’s talent exposes what is hidden inside us. She makes magic on the page.”—Julia Philips, author of Disappearing Earth

One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterward, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with strange powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth—and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.

With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K-Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the subversive storytelling of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family’s history from Taiwan to America, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and girlhood.





Hannah Abigail Clarke

The Scapegracers
The Scapegracers 1
Erewhon, September 15, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages
(YA Crossover)

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for bottles of Coke. 

As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her forty dollars to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now—unbelievably—Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witchfinders hell-bent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole “having friends” thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult that explores magic, growing up, and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl.




Dan Hanks

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 394 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
An ex-Spitfire pilot is dragged into a race against a shadowy government agency to unlock the secrets of the lost empire of Atlantis…

In the post-war peace of 1952, ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley should be done fighting bad guys. Instead, she finds herself dragged into a clash with a mysterious US government agency known as The Nine, when they take an interest in the work of Jess, her archaeologist sister.

Pursued by The Nine, former Nazis, and a host of otherworldly monsters, Sam must fight to protect her sister and uncover two hidden keys which promise to unlock the greatest archaeological find in history: the fabled Hall of Records.

From the skies over New York, to the catacombs of Paris, and finally to the ruins of Ancient Egypt, her quest takes her into the ashes of the past in search of the dying embers of an empire….and a discovery that could transform the world, or bring it to a terrible end.

File Under: Fantasy  [ Top Women | Riff-RAF | Pyramid Scheme | Bash the Fash ]





Alice James

Grave Secrets
The Lavington Windsor Mysteries 1
Solaris, September 1, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Agatha Raisin meets Sookie Stackhouse, with croquet and zombies.

"Fun, fast debut... Fans of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse will want to check out Toni." -- Publishers Weekly

Toni Windsor is trying to live a quiet life in the green and pleasant county of Staffordshire. She'd love to finally master the rules of croquet, acquire a decent boyfriend and make some commission as an estate agent.

All that might have to wait, though, because there are zombies rising from their graves, vampires sneaking out of their coffins and a murder to solve.

And it's all made rather more complicated by the fact that she's the one raising all the zombies. Oh, and she's dating one of the vampires too. Really, what's a girl meant to do?

"Raises the zombie genre from the grave."- Jack Hayes

"Dead funny."- Mark Beech


Readers are loving the newest necromancer in town. Read advance praise for Grave Secrets from NetGalley:

"Heads up to all fans of True Blood and Buffy, our new favourite heroine is here, she's a necromancer, and she's kind of a hot mess!"- NetGalley review

"A thrilling five-star read."- NetGalley review

"A fun filled, laugh out loud page turner."- NetGalley review





R.B. Lemberg

The Four Profound Weaves
Tachyon Publications, September 1, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 192 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Two transgender elders must learn to weave from Death in order to defeat an evil ruler―in the debut full-length work set in R. B. Lemberg’s award-winning queer fantasy Birdverse universe

“The Four Profound Weaves is the anti-authoritarian, queer-mystical fairy tale we need right now.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of The Future of Another Timeline

“A beautiful, heartfelt story of change, family, identity, and courage.” ―Library Journal, starred review
The Surun’ nomads do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But aged Uiziya must find her aunt in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.

Among the Khana in the springflower city of Iyar, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter, as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother.

As his past catches up, the nameless man must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya―while Uiziya must discover how to challenge the evil Ruler of Iyar, and to weave from deaths that matter.

In this breathtaking debut set in R. B. Lemberg’s beloved Birdverse, The Four Profound Weaves offers a timeless chronicle of claiming one's identity in a hostile world.

About the Birdverse: The Birdverse is the creation of fantasy author R. B. Lemberg. It is a complex, culturally diverse world, with a range of LGBTQIA characters and different family configurations. Named after its deity, Bird, Birdverse shorter works have been nominated the Nebula, Hugo, Tiptree award, and Rhysling awards. The Four Profound Weaves is the first full-length work set in the Birdverse.





Özgür Mumcu
Mark David Myers (Tr)

The Peace Machine
Pushkin Press, September 22, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 224 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
We’ll create a machine. A peace machine that will put an end to all wars.

As the twentieth century dawns the world stands on the brink of yet another bloody war. But what if conflict were not inevitable? What if a machine could exploit the latest developments in electromagnetic science to influence people’s minds? And what if such a machine could put an end to violence for ever?

The search for the answer to these questions will lead our hero Celal away from his unassuming life as an Istanbul-based writer of erotic fiction, and on a quest across a continent stumbling headlong towards disaster, from Istanbul to Paris and Belgrade, as he struggles to uncover the mystery of The Peace Machine before time runs out for humanity.





Karen Osborne

Architects of Memory
The Memory War 1
Tor Books, September 8, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Millions died after the first contact. An alien weapon holds the key to redemption—or annihilation. Experience Karen Osborne's unforgettable science fiction debut, Architects of Memory.

Terminally ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson lost everything in the war with the alien Vai, but she'll be damned if she loses her future. Her plan: to buy, beg, or lie her way out of corporate indenture and find a cure. When her crew salvages a genocidal weapon from a ravaged starship above a dead colony, Ash uncovers a conspiracy of corporate intrigue and betrayal that threatens to turn her into a living weapon.




Chris Panatier

The Phlebotomist
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 344 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
In a near future where citizens are subject to the mandatory blood draw, government phlebotomist Willa Wallace witnesses an event that makes her question her whole world…

To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was instituted to pass blood to those affected by radiation. But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Government blood contractor, Patriot, rewards you generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give the most, gets the most in return.

While working as a reaper taking collections for the Harvest, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete technique that could rebalance the city. But in her quest to set things into motion, she uncovers a horrifying secret that cuts to the heart of everything.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Blood Will Out | This Might Hurt a Bit | Be positive | Bloody Nightmare ]





Christopher Paolini

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
Tor Books, September 15, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 880 pages
(D - Adult)

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a brand new epic novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eragon, Christopher Paolini.

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she's awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she's delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn't at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity's greatest and final hope . . .





Simon Stephenson

Set My Heart to Five
Hanover Square Press, September 1, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
*SET TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY EDGAR WRIGHT (SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD)*

‘A beautiful, funny, heartfelt analysis of what it means to be human.’—Simon Pegg

‘One of the most unique books ever crafted.’—Mike Chen, author of
A Beginning at the End
Set in a 2054 where humans have locked themselves out of the internet and Elon Musk has incinerated the moon, Set My Heart to Five is the hilarious yet profoundly moving story of one android’s emotional awakening.

One day at a screening of a classic movie, Jared notices a strange sensation around his eyes. Bots are not permitted to have feelings, but as the theater lights come on, Jared discovers he is crying.

Soon overwhelmed by powerful emotions, Jared heads west, determined to find others like himself. But a bot with feelings is a dangerous proposition, and Jared’s new life could come to an end before it truly begins. Unless, that is, he can somehow change the world for himself and all of his kind.

Unlike anything you have ever read before, Set My Heart to Five is a love letter to outsiders everywhere. Plus it comes uniquely guaranteed to make its readers weep a minimum of 29mls of tears.*

*Book must be read in controlled laboratory conditions arranged at reader’s own expense. Other terms and conditions may apply to this offer.





Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter
The Drowning Empire 1
Orbit, September 8, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
Introducing a major new voice in epic fantasy: in an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor, will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.





Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench
William Morrow, September 22, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts
“This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell." -- Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower—for good or ill—is a properly executed spreadsheet.

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.  And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.

Interview with Carole Stivers, author of The Mother Code


Please welcome Carole Stivers to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Mother Code was published on August 25, 2020 by Berkley.



Interview with Carole Stivers, author of The Mother Code




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

Carole:  The first fiction piece I remember writing was one I penned in about the fourth grade, called “Carbuncle and I.” The story was based on Sherlock Holmes, but the detective and his assistant were cute and cartoonish. I can’t remember the plot, but a picture I drew of the characters is forever etched in my mind.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Carole:  I started out as a pantser, but that wasn’t very rewarding—so much work ended up on the cutting room floor! Now I’m a hybrid. I try to start a novel with a clear beginning and end in mind. Then I write my way through, adding beats on a separate sheet as I go along to guide the narrative. This allows things to take surprising turns, while still maintaining the focus of the original theme and desired ending.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Carole:  I do lots of research before even starting, which is more like work than fun. Then I slog through getting the first draft on paper. But after that comes the joy, when I get to flesh out the story and get more into the characters, their emotions and motivations. For me, the revision phase is best, knowing that I have something solid to work with and to mold.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Carole:  Whenever I start to lose momentum and hope for my work, I find solace in reading good authors. I love new authors who take chances with their writing, like Devi S. Laskar (The Atlas of Reds and Blues) and Rachel Howard (The Risk of Us). And of course I love the greats, like Margaret Atwood, whose prose sinks into the mind so effortlessly, and Isabel Allende, whose worlds are so beautifully built.



TQDescribe The Mother Code using only 5 words.

Carole:  A child discovers his mother.



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

Carole:  Kai is not alone in his quest to decide the fate of his Mother. There are other children, two little girls in particular, who are instrumental in his trajectory. And there are many other important female characters who drive the plot.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Mother Code? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction.

Carole:  I had the first spark of an idea for The Mother Code while traveling in the desert Southwest with my family in 2003. At the heart of the story, I wanted there to be a reliance by a child on his “Mother” robot in this setting, because, so far as he knew, there was no other life left on the planet. The rest of the story—the origins of the pandemic that set the stage, the origins of the Mothers and their children, the conflict that arose as the children and their Mothers matured and changed, and the few human adults who remained afterward to shepherd the children, all grew out of that original idea.

I was a scientist for many years, and I feel comfortable writing about scientists and laboratory settings. But writing science fiction also allows me to place characters in strange circumstances and watch them fight their way through. By forcing my characters to face the uncanny, I can leverage that “defamiliarization” to ask questions in a fresh way that is not confrontational to the reader and might inspire them to think or feel differently.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Mother Code?

Carole:  I travelled to the sites where my story takes place: the San Francisco Presidio, Los Alamos, the desert Southwest, and the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. I took a tour of the Hopi Reservation, talked to current residents about their lives and livelihoods, and read books about Hopi history and tradition.

I researched robotics and AI to develop a picture of what my Mother robots would have to look like, how they would be programmed, and what materials would be used in their construction. For specifics, I consulted with a good friend who is a pilot, a computer systems manager, and a science fiction fan.

I also researched the genetic engineering of human fetuses, innovative bionic prostheses, and advances in man-machine brain interfaces. One difficult issue I faced was how to destroy most of human life on planet Earth, while leaving all else intact. My “IC-NAN” is based on current research in DNA therapeutics at Northwestern University.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Mother Code.

Carole:  The cover is meant to depict nurturing in the form of the cupped hands—a protection of something fragile from the hardships of the desert (portrayed in the desert palette colors). The “Mother Code” that directs the hands in their duties is depicted as symbols at the top of the image, which degrade into sand and dust at the bottom of the image to give a sense that the Code itself is fragile.



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

Carole:  For me, Kai was easiest to write. As a child, Kai is a seeker; he came to the story as a blank slate, learning as he went along. The hardest character for me to write was Rick Blevins, a military man—it was difficult for me to avoid stereotypes when writing him. But the most fun to write was Kendra Jenkins, a character who only occurred to me when I was well into the novel. A problem-solver with a can-do attitude, Kendra is most like me in her approach to life, and she has a quirky side to her that I enjoyed portraying.



TQDoes The Mother Code touch on any social issues?

Carole:  At the time I began work on The Mother Code, I was most concerned about the possible use of bioagents in warfare and what they might inadvertently do if they got out of control. I know that COVID-19 was not developed for warfare. But it has certainly given rise to greater concern about such agents—which I think is a good thing.



TQ:  Which question about The Mother Code do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Carole:

Q: Do you really think that a machine like Rho-Z, Kai’s Mother, could be programmed to care for a child?

A: I think that a machine could definitely be designed that would serve the basic needs of a child. The trick would be the human element, which is key for a child to truly thrive. In The Mother Code, that human element develops in a surprising way. But I believe that such an outcome is indeed probable.



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

Carole:  My favorite quotes relate to Kai’s instinctive relationship with his Mother:

“But at night, when they were alone, that feeling was as strong as ever— the feeling that he couldn’t possibly know where he ended, and his Mother began.”

“And he responded, not in words but in song—the song of the Mother Code.”



TQWhat's next?

Carole:  I’m currently working on a tale that I call Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The Story of Your Life. I only hope it matches up to either of those two classics—especially the second, which was written by the amazing Ted Chiang.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Mother Code
Berkley, August 25, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Carole Stivers, author of The Mother Code
What it means to be human—and a mother—is put to the test in Carole Stivers’s debut novel set in a world that is more chilling and precarious than ever.

The year is 2049. When a deadly non-viral agent intended for biowarfare spreads out of control, scientists must scramble to ensure the survival of the human race. They turn to their last resort, a plan to place genetically engineered children inside the cocoons of large-scale robots—to be incubated, birthed, and raised by machines. But there is yet one hope of preserving the human order: an intelligence programmed into these machines that renders each unique in its own right—the Mother Code.

Kai is born in America’s desert Southwest, his only companion his robotic Mother, Rho-Z. Equipped with the knowledge and motivations of a human mother, Rho-Z raises Kai and teaches him how to survive. But as children like Kai come of age, their Mothers transform too—in ways that were never predicted. And when government survivors decide that the Mothers must be destroyed, Kai is faced with a choice. Will he break the bond he shares with Rho-Z? Or will he fight to save the only parent he has ever known?

Set in a future that could be our own, The Mother Code explores what truly makes us human—and the tenuous nature of the boundaries between us and the machines we create.





About Carole

Interview with Carole Stivers, author of The Mother Code
Photo: © Alan Stivers
Carole Stivers was born in East Cleveland, Ohio. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She went on to post-doctoral work at Stanford University before launching a career in medical diagnostics. She now lives in California, where she’s combined her love of writing and her fascination with the possibilities of science to create her first novel, The Mother Code.


Website  ~  Facebook


Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds


Please welcome Micaiah Johnson to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Space Between Worlds was published on August 4, 2020 by Del Rey.



Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds




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

Micaiah:  Noooo, it’s so embarrassing! My grandma had an electric typewriter and I definitely wrote a story where my dogs were detectives who had to solve a chicken’s murder.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Micaiah:  I am a pantser in denial. I will forever be “about to start” outlining.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Micaiah:  You know that news article about the horse who pretends to be dead every time it has to give someone a ride? That’s me with editing. It’s an essential and unavoidable part of my job, and I *hate* it. It’s like listening to my own voice. It’s so painful.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Micaiah:  Everything. I see so much of what has surrounded me manifest in my work. It’s not just what I’ve read – though a childhood spent trapped in the car with my grandmother’s murder mystery audiobooks definitely accounts for my love of twists – it’s my desert upbringing mixed with every late-night bar conversation I’ve ever had mixed with that three-legged cat I petted one time. It’s so exciting to be on the third or fourth read-through and suddenly realize “holy crap, I’m describing my second grade teacher’s house” or something.



TQDescribe The Space Between Worlds using only 5 words.

Micaiah:  Girl dies tons, has adventure.



TQTell us something about The Space Between Worlds that is not found in the book description.

Micaiah:  The House! One of my favorite parts about this world is how the sex providers operate as a community resource, which is a spin on how essential these establishments actually were during the “wild” west period.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Space Between Worlds?

Micaiah:  Because of my failure at outlining, I often write toward images. For this book, the image I had was someone walking through the desert and coming upon their own face. I was captivated by it. The desert is such a lonely place. The plant life is low and sparse, so you can never delude yourself that there is anyone around you. You are alone, and you utterly know it. Imagine being in that setting and finally coming up on another human, and that human is you. Their face is your face. Are you still alone? Does this count? I kind of started from there and went off.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Space Between Worlds?

Micaiah:  Tons, and all entirely outside of my field. I owe so much to Brian Greene, Carlo Rovelli, and Michio Kaku for being the kind of very smart scientists whose writing is also accessible enough for a lit major to learn something from it.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Space Between Worlds.

Micaiah:  The breathtaking American cover for the book is actually an oil painting by artist Cassandre Bolan, and the moment I found out she was my artist I was stoked. I remember her website saying something along the lines of, “I create strong women in fantasy to inspire strong women in reality” and I was instantly like “gimmie gimmie I need it!” I knew featuring two queer women of color on the cover would be audacious, but I couldn’t have predicted it would be so beautiful.



TQIn The Space Between Worlds who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Micaiah:  Exlee was both! I loved writing Exlee, but I also know them and deeply wanted to get them right which paralyzed me. What (very) little nonbinary representation we get is often Eurocentric: straight-bodied white people in monochrome vests. And that is absolutely valid as a nonbinary expression, but it’s not the only valid expression, and pretending it is leaves out cultures where gender expression is more bombastic. Trying to tackle this character with that in mind was a ton of joy and a lot of pressure.



TQDoes The Space Between Worlds touch on any social issues?

Micaiah:  Certainly, I think anytime you are talking about walls – like the walled city in my book – you are actually talking about borders and immigration. Likewise, anytime you are dealing with a super-advanced tech city of the future, you are also talking about Western capitalism and at what cost that advancement has been bought. I would argue that Science Fiction as a genre, by virtue of daring to imagine alternate futures, is always operating in the territory of social issues…even if by omission.



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

Micaiah:  “Was Dell based on Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice?” so I can scream “YES! YES! THANK YOU FOR NOTICING! YES!”



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Space Between Worlds.

Micaiah:

“What they don’t tell you about getting everything you’ve ever wanted is the cold-sweat panic when you think about losing it. For someone who’s never had anything to lose, it’s like drowning, all the time”

“Killing should take longer than a heartbeat. Murder should be unignorable, always.”



TQWhat's next?

Micaiah:  I’m so torn about next steps. Part of me wants to spend more time in this world and with these characters, part of me wants to take a dramatic turn and write horror or a cookbook (which is just saying “horror” again, since I truly can’t cook). I can’t be trusted. I’m easily bored and impossible to satisfy.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Space Between Worlds
Del Rey, August 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds
An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse in this stunning debut, a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

Gorgeous writingmind-bending world-buildingrazor-sharp social commentary, and a main character who demands your attention—and your allegiance.”—Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

“Clever characterssurprise twistsplenty of action, and a plot that highlights social and racial inequities in astute prose.”—Library Journal (starred review)





About Micaiah

Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds
Photo: © Rory Vetack
Micaiah Johnson was raised in California’s Mojave Desert surrounded by trees named Joshua and women who told stories. She received her bachelor of arts in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside, and her master of fine arts in fiction from Rutgers University–Camden. She now studies American literature at Vanderbilt University, where she focuses on critical race theory and automatons.

Twitter @micaiah_johnson

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts


There are 10 debut novels for August 2020.

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 2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on August 15, 2020.



Ros Anderson

The Hierarchies
Dutton, August 25, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
Your Husband is the reason for your existence. You are here to serve him. You must not harm your Husband. Nor may you harm any human.

Sylv.ie is a synthetic woman. A fully sentient robot, designed to cater to her Husband’s every whim. She lives alone on the top floor of his luxurious home, her existence barely tolerated by his human wife and concealed from their child. Between her Husband’s visits, deeply curious about the world beyond her room, Sylv.ie watches the family in the garden—hears them laugh, cry, and argue. Longing to experience more of life, she confides her hopes and fears only to her diary. But are such thoughts allowed? And if not, what might the punishment be?

As Sylv.ie learns more about the world and becomes more aware of her place within it, something shifts inside her. Is she malfunctioning, as her Husband thinks, or coming into her own? As their interactions become increasingly fraught, she fears he might send her back to the factory for reprogramming. If that happens, her hidden diary could be her only link to everything that came before. And the only clue that she is in grave danger.

Set in a recognizable near future and laced with dark, sly humor, Ros Anderson’s deeply observant debut novel is less about the fear of new technology than about humans’ age-old talent for exploitation. In a world where there are now two classes of women—“born” and “created”—the growing friction between them may have far-reaching consequences no one could have predicted.





Agustina Bazterrica
Sarah Moses (Tr)

Tender is the Flesh
Scribner, August 4, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 224 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.





Ashley Blooms

Every Bone a Prayer
Sourcebooks Landmark, August 4, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
“This is the kind of book we need to set literary expectations for a new decade. It's so textured, so layered with love and so wonderfully terrifying, intimate and magical.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir"


Misty’s holler looks like any of the thousands of hollers that fork through the Appalachian Mountains. But Misty knows her home is different. She may be only ten, but she hears things. Even the crawdads in the creek have something to say, if you listen.

All that Misty’s sister Penny wants to talk about are the strange objects that start appearing outside their trailer. The grown-ups mutter about sins and punishment, but that doesn’t scare Misty. Not like the hurtful thing that’s been happening to her, the hurtful thing that is becoming part of her. Ever since her neighbor William cornered her in the barn, she must figure out how to get back to the Misty she was before — the Misty who wasn’t afraid to listen.

This is the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless, as her coping becomes a battle cry for everyone around her. Written by a survivor of sexual abuse, Every Bone a Prayer is a beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.





Lisbeth Campbell

The Vanished Queen
Gallery / Saga Press, August 18, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
When a country is held in thrall to a vicious, despotic king, it’s up to one woman to take him down.

Long ago, Queen Mirantha vanished. King Karolje claimed it was an assassination by a neighboring king, but everyone knew it was a lie. He had Disappeared her himself.

But after finding the missing queen’s diary, Anza—impassioned by her father’s unjust execution and inspired by Mirantha’s words—joins the resistance group to overthrow the king. When an encounter with Prince Esvar thrusts her into a dangerous game of court politics, one misstep could lead to a fate worse than death.

Esvar is the second son to an evil king. Trapped under his thumb and desperate for a way out, a chance meeting with Anza gives him the opportunity to join the resistance. Together, they might have the leverage to move against the king—but if they fail, their deaths could mean a total loss of freedom for generations to follow.

Set in a world where resistance is as dangerous as it is important, The Vanished Queen is a tale of the courage and sacrifice it requires to take on a tyrant.





Rik Hoskin

Bystander 27
Angry Robot, August 11, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
After his pregnant wife is senselessly killed in a clash between the mysterious super-powered ‘costumes’, ex-SEAL Jon Hayes fights to discover the truth about their identity and origins.

For ex-Navy SEAL Jon Hayes, the super-powered ‘costumes’ are just part of ordinary life in New York City, until the day his pregnant wife Melanie is senselessly killed in a clash between Captain Light and The Jade Shade.

But as Hayes struggles to come to terms with his loss, and questions for the first time who the costumes are and where they come from, the once sharp lines of his reality begin to blur...

If Hayes wants to uncover the shocking truth about the figures behind the costumes, and get justice for his fallen family, he’ll have to step out of the background, and stop being a bystander.

File Under: Superhero Fantasy [ It’s Clobberin’ Time | Hayes One | Panel Beater | No Capes ]





Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds
Del Rey, August 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse in this stunning debut, a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

Gorgeous writingmind-bending world-buildingrazor-sharp social commentary, and a main character who demands your attention—and your allegiance.”—Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

“Clever characterssurprise twistsplenty of action, and a plot that highlights social and racial inequities in astute prose.”—Library Journal (starred review)





Linden A. Lewis

The First Sister
The First Sister Trilogy 1
Gallery Books, August 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
Combining the social commentary of The Handmaid’s Tale with the white-knuckled thrills of Red Rising, this epic space opera follows a comfort woman as she claims her agency, a soldier questioning his allegiances, and a non-binary hero out to save the solar system.

First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.

Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito’s own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart.

A stunning and sweeping debut novel that explores the power of technology, colonization, race, and gender, The First Sister is perfect for fans of James S.A. Corey, Chuck Wendig, and Margaret Atwood.





Klaus Modick
David Herman (Tr)

Moss
Bellevue Literary Press, August 25, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 192 pages
(Debut - English)

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
An aging botanist withdraws to the seclusion of his family’s vacation home in the German countryside. In his final days, he realizes that his life’s work of scientific classification has led him astray from the hidden secrets of the natural world. As his body slows and his mind expands, he recalls his family’s escape from budding fascism in Germany, his father’s need to prune and control, and his tender moments with first loves. But as his disintegration into moss begins, his fascination with botany culminates in a profound understanding of life’s meaning and his own mortality.

Visionary and poetic, Moss explores our fundamental human desires for both transcendence and connection and serves as a testament to our tenuous and intimate relationship with nature.

Moss is translated from the German by David Herman.





Mike Shackle

We are the Dead
The Last War 1
Gollancz, August 11, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
The first book in The Last War series: a debut epic fantasy full of crunching revolutionary action, twisted magic, and hard choices in dark times.

The war is over. The enemy won.


Jia's people learned the hard way that there are no second chances. The Egril, their ancient enemy, struck with magic so devastating that Jia's armies were wiped out. Now terror reigns in the streets, and friend turns on friend just to live another day.

Somehow Tinnstra - a deserter, a failure, nothing but a coward - survived. She wants no more than to hide from the chaos.

But dragged into a desperate plot to retake Jia, surrounded by people willing to do anything to win the fight, this time Tinnstra will need to do more than hide.

If Jia is to get a second chance after all, this time she will need to be a hero.

With all the grit of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Ed McDonald, this is fantasy with the sharpest of edges.

* * * * * * * * * *
'The next Game of Thrones' Glen Cook, author of The Black Company

'Tarantino crossed with David Gemmell' Peter McLean, author of Priest of Bones

'A powerful debut' Gavin Smith, author of The Bastard Legion





Carole Stivers

The Mother Code
Berkley, August 25, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts
What it means to be human—and a mother—is put to the test in Carole Stivers’s debut novel set in a world that is more chilling and precarious than ever.

The year is 2049. When a deadly non-viral agent intended for biowarfare spreads out of control, scientists must scramble to ensure the survival of the human race. They turn to their last resort, a plan to place genetically engineered children inside the cocoons of large-scale robots—to be incubated, birthed, and raised by machines. But there is yet one hope of preserving the human order: an intelligence programmed into these machines that renders each unique in its own right—the Mother Code.

Kai is born in America’s desert Southwest, his only companion his robotic Mother, Rho-Z. Equipped with the knowledge and motivations of a human mother, Rho-Z raises Kai and teaches him how to survive. But as children like Kai come of age, their Mothers transform too—in ways that were never predicted. And when government survivors decide that the Mothers must be destroyed, Kai is faced with a choice. Will he break the bond he shares with Rho-Z? Or will he fight to save the only parent he has ever known?

Set in a future that could be our own, The Mother Code explores what truly makes us human—and the tenuous nature of the boundaries between us and the machines we create.
2020 Debut Author Challenge - October 2020 DebutsInterview with Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September DebutsInterview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the EmpireInterview with Chris Panatier, author of the PhlebotomistInterview with Alice James, author of Grave Secrets2020 Debut Author Challenge - September DebutsInterview with Carole Stivers, author of The Mother CodeInterview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds2020 Debut Author Challenge - August 2020 Debuts

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