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Interview with Kelly Braffet, author of The Unwilling


Please welcome Kelly Braffet to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Unwilling, Kelly's fantasy debut, was published on February 11, 2020 by MIRA.



Interview with Kelly Braffet, author of The Unwilling




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

Kelly:  The very first short story I ever wrote was called “The Blue Giraffe.” A terrifying tale of conformity, it was about an idiosyncratically pigmented giraffe who was advised to eat an orange to correct his coloring, and did so. Was the orange in season? Was it organic? What was the orange’s carbon footprint? We’ll never know, mostly because I was in preschool and didn’t know what any of those things meant yet.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kelly:  I’ve written five novels, and it seems as if every time I have to figure out a new way to do it all over again. I’ve done outlines, I’ve done no-outlines, I’ve done partial outlines. Whatever yanks the thing out of my brain. Since we’re talking about The Unwilling: I spent 20 years thinking about it, so it was pretty fully formed before I started to write it down. There were a few plot knots that I had to figure out a few chapters ahead of time, but it was fairly well behaved in the allowing-itself-to-be-written department.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kelly:  Honestly, the most challenging part of being a writer for me is this part: the promotion. If I could just sit in my pajamas and write the books and send them off into the world via vacuum tube, I would do so delightedly. And that’s not because I don’t love my literary people, or my readers – it’s just because it’s a whole other toolbox, and not one I dig into regularly. It’s like when the guy who was installing our new dryer asked if we had a socket set. We did, but I had to find it, and then I had to make sure it had the right parts, and even then I wasn’t totally sure it was what the guy needed. But if he’d had asked me for, say, a knife sharpener – I know exactly where that is, and I use it all the time. Promoting is the socket set. Writing is the knife sharpener.

If we’re talking about writing, the hardest part is winnowing out the distractions. Life has so many demands – like for instance, sometimes the dryer breaks, and the repair guy has to come and declare it dead, and then all of this other stuff happens and there’s your week gone, just with calling people and scheduling things and letting people into the house. Sometimes I cheat and go to hotels to work, just to minimize the distractions. But that’s incredibly lonely.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kelly:  Everything. I just said in an interview the other day that I wasn’t sure I “got” ideas as much as they accumulated slowly in the corners of my mind, like mental dust bunnies. But instead of cat and bunny hair – we just adopted a rabbit, so some of our dust bunnies are made of actual angora – they’re made of things I notice in books and movies, or read on the internet, or see out of the corner of my eye as I’m driving. I try to stay curious about everything, which I realize is kind of at odds with my desire to sit at home in my pajamas all the time. Internal conflict! Keeps life interesting.



TQDescribe The Unwilling using only 5 words.

Kelly:  This is the kind of thing I’m terrible at. My good friend Anthony Breznican called it “an adventure story about empathy” – can I steal that?



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

Kelly:  It’s a story about chosen family. When your birth family is absent, or a mess, you find other people to fill in those gaps. Judah, Gavin, Elly and Theron love each other, and that love is the source of all of their power. (And a not-insignificant amount of their trouble, but they’re not to blame for that.)



TQWhat inspired you to write The Unwilling, your first Fantasy novel? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Kelly:  I’ve always loved fantasy. Many years ago, when I was in college, I read a fantasy novel by a non-fantasy writer and didn’t like it. I thought, “I can write a better fantasy novel than that! It’ll be about four people who live in a deserted castle after civilization falls.” Fast forward twenty years, and those four people eventually became Judah, Gavin, Theron and Elly, the main characters in The Unwilling. The story evolved a lot over time, obviously. As to why now, the short answer is that I was trying to write another crime novel and it wasn’t behaving itself, so I turned to the only other story kicking around my head, which was this one.

Part of what I love about fantasy is the worldbuilding. I love that feeling of “Why can’t I live there?” that comes with a really original setting. But more than that, I like the sense that (within the bounds of whatever magical system exists) anything can happen. The Unwilling has all the human drama of my crime novels, but the magic is an extra level of possibility to play with.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Unwilling?

Kelly:  Honestly, most of it revolved around food. I took a cheesemaking workshop, tried my hand at harvesting the wild yeast in my kitchen (turns out there’s not much of it, which is why I haven’t ditched writing and started up a sourdough bakery), and cooked all sorts of random things, just to see if they worked. Other than that, most of the research was of the “what kind of carriages exist,” internet-search variety. I do keep notes files for all of my works-in-progress, with random ideas that occur to me and things that I want to include. Since this particular work was in progress for twenty years, the notes file is . . . lengthy. If you read it start to finish, I doubt it would bear any resemblance at all to the book as published.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Unwilling.

Kelly:  The cover was designed by Micaela Alcaino, and I love it. Normally, the art department of a publisher sends a few different initial concepts, and then everyone discusses. This time they only sent one, and it was pretty much there out of the gate. We asked for a few tweaks, but nothing dramatic. It was important to me that the cover for The Unwilling capture the dark and knotted feel of the story, and I think it does.



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

Kelly:  Normally, there is a character that really gives me trouble, in one way or another, but I’d had these people in my head for so long that they were pretty fully formed. I suppose that the Seneschal was probably the most difficult, because he’s key to the plot but also extremely interior. We don’t ever see what he’s thinking. Even in those few moments when he talks about his own motivations, there’s a pretty good chance that he’s lying. I also didn’t want to make him a cartoonish monster; the book has one of those already, and I saw the Seneschal as much more subtle. And much more dangerous.



TQDoes The Unwilling touch on any social issues?

Kelly:  I think it would be difficult to find a novel that doesn’t at least touch on social issues, because what we think of as “social issues” are actually just humans trying to interact with each other despite their differences. But I will say that The Unwilling is a very intentionally feminist novel. The women in the book are, in some ways, those who suffer the most, but they’re also the ones who really come into their own power over the course of the story. The book also deals a lot with economic inequality, and life at the bottom of the tier in Highfall; one of my two narrators, Nate, is a healer who works with the poorest people in the city. So many fantasy novels are about the ruling classes. The Unwilling is no exception, but I also thought it was important to include the lives of ordinary people.



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

Kelly:  If my grandmother was still alive, she would probably glare at me and ask why I didn’t write nicer stories. But these are the stories that grow in my head, and they grow out of everything that I see in the world around me. Human beings are not particularly kind to each other, and they never have been. I absolutely see why my gran preferred “nicer” stories, and don’t blame her or anyone else for gravitating to more pleasant depictions of the world, but the stories that I write tend to be about people who feel powerless and at the mercy of the world around them, and that’s not a nice feeling. I feel like it would be dishonest to tell the stories any other way.



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

Kelly:  This is from the perspective of Nate Clare, a travelling healer who comes from outside the city to find Judah for reasons of his own: “He could remember quite clearly what it had been like to be that little boy, lying under a quilt, knowing only the dusty ease of playing outdoors, the familiar excitement of setting up stage and footlights in a new town, the smoky campfire warmth of being loved by everyone around him. He’d had no notion, then, that he would ever cross the Barriers to the blue and gray spires of this strange, sad city, or that he would grow into a man who sat alone in a gloomy lab after midnight, figuring out how much poison per smallweight of tea.”



TQWhat's next?

Kelly:  Right now I’m working pretty frantically on the sequel to The Unwilling, which will hopefully be out next year. After that, the crime novel that wasn’t behaving itself had a change of heart, and it’s currently sitting in a nice messy first-draft stack on my desk, waiting for further attention.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kelly:  Thank you for having me!





The Unwilling
MIRA, February 11, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 576 pages
(Fantasy Debut)

Interview with Kelly Braffet, author of The Unwilling
A penetrating tale of magic, faith and pride…The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to Judah’s survival—and possibly her undoing.

As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom and, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban—a lord as mighty as he is cruel—has his own plans for her, and for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah. The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined.

An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.





About Kelly

Interview with Kelly Braffet, author of The Unwilling
Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels The Unwilling, Save Yourself, Josie and Jack and Last Seen Leaving. Her writing has been published in The Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, and several anthologies. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University and currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, the author Owen King.




Website  ~  Twitter @KellyBraffet

Interview with Andrew Hunter Murray, author of The Last Day


Please welcome Andrew Hunter Murray to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Last Day was published on February 4, 2020 by Dutton.



Interview with Andrew Hunter Murray, author of The Last Day




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

Andrew:  It was a rather uninspired bit we were asked to write for an exam at school at the age of about seven, about losing my parents in a supermarket. Clearly, themes of familial segregation and trauma resulting from it stayed with me, as there’s a fair bit of that in The Last Day. Although I hadn’t yet thought of ending the world first…



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Andrew:  Enormous plotter. The only time I’ve tried pantsing (can this really be a verb?), I got disastrously stuck and then had to go back and unpick everything and start again. I’m now very wary of starting to write a big work without knowing what’s going to happen – although I might still do that for a short story.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Andrew:  The starting. Pure agony. The sooner you can get the Band-Aid ripped off, the better, and after an hour or two I have to be pried from the desk.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Andrew:  Better writers. Fortunately, there are thousands of them, all coming up with the most remarkable plotlines and brilliantly striking characters and themes. Every day of writing is a thrilling attempt to try and keep up with them, and as a lot of my favorite authors are dead, I can only gain on them.



TQDescribe The Last Day using only 5 words.

Andrew:  Planetary-collapse-inspired-gripping-yarn.



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

Andrew:  I gave up twice, lost faith plenty more times, and threw away 30,000 words at one point because the plot had gone in a different direction. All of that is meant to emphasize not that it was terribly brave of me to start again, just that all creative projects seem a certainty once they’re done, when in fact they may seem a much less sure thing from a position in the thick of it. In short: if you’re writing something yourself, keep going!



TQWhat inspired you to write The Last Day?

Andrew:  The state of the world today, and a vision of how it might be fifty years from now – if we don’t start to change direction now.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Last Day?

Andrew:  Quite a bit! Because it’s about the planet’s rotation slowing to a stop, I contacted astrophysicists and oceanographers, and in between times I read as much science as I could about satellites and servers and the effects of sunshine. I also read a brilliant book called ‘The New Odyssey’, all about the people who are making their way from Africa and the Middle East to Europe in search of a better life. That all fed into the book at various points.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Last Day.

Andrew:  The British and American covers are very different. But in the USA, we see the following: a brown-haired woman in a long coat running along a gangway, surrounded by the corona of an eclipse. So we know it’s going to be a) a little planetary and science-fictionish, and b) a rip-roaring read. And the *final* element of the cover is some nice words from Lee Child saying how much he enjoyed it, which is possibly my favorite bit.



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

Andrew:  Ellen Hopper, my main character, was the easiest. She practically grabbed me by the lapels (although really she’s a polite person and wouldn’t do that in real life). I don’t recall finding any characters particularly difficult to caption; the stuff I find really hard is the overarching structure and individual bits of plot.



TQDoes The Last Day touch on any social issues?

Andrew:  Yes, I think so. It has a big sci-fi idea at the core, but like all sci-fi it’s an attempt to analyze the world as it is today. So the book looks at climate migration, and about whether it’s right to bring a child into a world being slowly cooked by global warming, and about countries which have started trying to keep foreigners out in the attempt to preserve what they have, and totalitarianism. So I don’t think I could have avoided social issues really.



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

Andrew:  “Would you prefer the first series of the TV adaptation to be eight or ten parts long?” And: eight, please.



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

Andrew:

“The ship of the dead, that was how it had begun. Hopper remembered that later.” This is the first line of my first ever novel, so I think it will always have a pretty special place in my heart. I remember reading a wise author – possibly Neil Gaiman? – saying that first line of your first book will the most important thing you’ll ever write. So I went back and forth on the phrasing quite a lot.



TQWhat's next?

Andrew:  All sorts. I’m currently polishing a set of short stories beyond the point of all practicability and winding up my arm for the second novel. It will be in similar territory, but I think different enough to present something new to any readers who stick with me…



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Andrew:  Thank you!





The Last Day
Dutton, February 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Andrew Hunter Murray, author of The Last Day
A visionary and powerful debut thriller set in a terrifyingly plausible dystopian near-future—with clear parallels to today’s headlines—in which the future of humanity lies in the hands of one woman, a scientist who has stumbled upon a secret that the government will go to any lengths to keep hidden.

A world half in darkness. A secret she must bring to light.

It is 2059, and the world has crashed. Forty years ago, a solar catastrophe began to slow the planet’s rotation to a stop. Now, one half of the globe is permanently sunlit, the other half trapped in an endless night. The United States has colonized the southern half of Great Britain—lucky enough to find itself in the narrow habitable region left between frozen darkness and scorching sunlight—where both nations have managed to survive the ensuing chaos by isolating themselves from the rest of the world.

Ellen Hopper is a scientist living on a frostbitten rig in the cold Atlantic. She wants nothing more to do with her country after its slide into casual violence and brutal authoritarianism. Yet when two government officials arrive, demanding she return to London to see her dying college mentor, she accepts—and begins to unravel a secret that threatens not only the nation’s fragile balance, but the future of the whole human race.





About Andrew

Interview with Andrew Hunter Murray, author of The Last Day
Photo: © Matt Crockett
Andrew Hunter Murray is a writer and comedian. He is one of the writers and researchers behind the BBC show QI and also cohosts the spinoff podcast, No Such Thing as a Fish, which, since 2014, has released 250 episodes, been downloaded 200 million times, and toured the world. It has also spawned two bestselling books, The Book of the Year and The Book of the Year 2018, as well as a BBC Two series No Such Thing as the News. Andrew also writes for Private Eye magazine and hosts the Eye‘s in-house podcast, Page 94, interviewing the country’s best investigative journalists about their work. In his spare time he performs in the Jane Austen–themed improv comedy group Austentatious, which plays in London’s West End and around the UK. The Last Day is his debut novel.

Twitter @andrewhunterm


Interview with K. S. Villoso, author of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro


Please welcome K. S. Villoso to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro is published on February 18, 2020 by Orbit.



Interview with K. S. Villoso, author of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro




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

K. S.:  This was back in 1st grade and was a short, incoherent story that was a mish-mash of genres and just about everything I was into at the time. I think the main character was a dog…



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

K. S.:  I’m essentially whatever is convenient at the time. I outline before I start writing. The first draft will look nothing like the outline. Sometimes I will re-outline partway through the novel, scrap that draft, and start again. Sometimes I will follow the outline perfectly for three chapters and then realize I have a gap towards the next plot point… in which case I will pants my way through. Unfortunately, I may not even reach that next plot point and everything will change based on that part that I pantsed.

It’s a sort of perfect, contained chaos. I have a hard time trying to make it make sense to others, but it always makes sense to me…



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

K. S.:  It’s hard to keep focus when I have so many things I want to explore all at once. That means my first drafts are often very messy, and each subsequent draft is a matter of keeping some ideas and throwing the rest out. I also get bored easily—I can’t just write stories that go from point A to B…so I like creating puzzles out of my work and then sitting down and trying to work it out through the process of writing. This means every single one of my manuscripts require a lot of work from my end just to sort my thoughts and the story out.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

K. S.:  I’ve probably mentioned author influences in other interviews elsewhere, so I’m going to talk a bit more about genre… particularly, the horror influence in my work. Along with epic fantasy, I truly enjoy horror, and I probably have seen more horror movies than anything else combined. I love the psychological aspect of it, of using fear and very high tension as tools in storytelling, and of figuratively—maybe literally—using “ghosts” to deepen character conflicts. People have mentioned how my plots are anxiety or stress-inducing, and that’s mostly this influence coming into play—I like focusing on character dilemmas first and then slowly, very slowly, revealing the plot one puzzle piece after another…all after the external conflicts have reared their ugly (again, very often literally) heads.



TQDescribe The Wolf of Oren-Yaro using only 5 words.

K. S.:  Intense sword-wielding Bitch Queen…



TQTell us something about The Wolf of Oren-Yaro that is not found in the book description.

K. S.:  There are heists! (See answer to Question No. 12).



TQWhat inspired you to write The Wolf of Oren-Yaro? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

K. S.The Wolf of Oren-yaro was my take on the classic hero’s journey/chosen one story…from the point-of-view of a woman who is both a wife and a mother. One who, incidentally, is also the daughter of a man many people consider the villain. The situation is rife with challenges that made it very interesting for me to explore.

Writing fantasy is great because it allows you to use worldbuilding as an added tool to carry the story through. By that I mean you can basically make things up to drive home the point, or create an elaborate metaphor—you can adjust the environment, or alter history and time itself to explore a certain theme. So you can create a really powerful story that can go beyond plot or character.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro?

K. S.:  I draw from my culture and upbringing for a lot of the worldbuilding; it’s not so much learning about things from the outside, but bringing out what I know from the inside, and then trying to make sense of it on the proverbial paper. So there is no specific “research”—there is however a lot of introspection, a lot of discussion over topics and issues that would lead me to look up certain facts to support or disprove an argument.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro.

K. S.:  I am one of the blessed, lucky few who got a cover depicting not just Queen Talyien’s image, but Talyien as a character and person. You can get a sense both of her determination and her challenges from one look at the cover. In the cover, she is also carrying her father’s kampilan. It doesn’t actually show up until Book 3, but the symbolism is there as Talyien really is carrying the burdens her father—a dark figure in history—has left her.



TQIn The Wolf of Oren-Yaro who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

K. S.:  The easiest character is probably…and obviously…Khine. I think it’s because I share the same background as him, coming from the lower rungs of society while for the longest time brushing elbows with people who have it better. And while I’ve thankfully never had to resort to becoming a thief, I may have once or twice schemed myself out of messes. Khine goes with the flow while actively strategizing his next move; this is the easiest kind of character for me to write because it is very, very close to how I’d do things myself.

Talyien, on the other hand…while her voice came rushing to me like a wave, she also possessed an intensity that kept me on my toes. Half the time I have this perfect plot point set up and she’s like “No.” So now I have to go rushing after her to try and fish her out of whatever situation she’s in. That impulsive, hotheaded nature made it difficult to follow the original outline, as she lands herself in trouble one after another and I had to find a way to get her out of it while maintaining the story’s momentum.



TQDoes The Wolf of Oren-Yaro touch on any social issues?

K. S.:  If readers want to read it as nothing more than an action-adventure fantasy story, they are welcome to do so. It’s written to entertain, it has a plot, it has great character interactions and some pretty cool fight scenes. There is absolutely no obligation to see it beyond that.

If readers want to stop for a moment and look beyond that outer layer, though, there’s quite a bit—not so much that they’re added in, but because these issues are an integral part of the characters, especially Queen Talyien’s, and the world they find themselves in. The challenges a woman faces that perhaps a man in her position wouldn’t have to worry about, for instance; power and the many ways it can corrupt, social inequalities, the effect of political struggles on the common people.



TQWhich question about The Wolf of Oren-Yaro do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

K. S.:  “So Kay, I noticed you put a particular importance on heists in this book…is that just random or is this epic fantasy also a heist novel in disguise?”

“Why, thank you for noticing that, Kay. The introduction of the con-artist and thief, Khine Lamang, is a marker, a foreshadowing of what’s about to come. This series, after all, is about tricks and schemes, about believing one thing when really it’s about something else. We get more heists as the series progresses, culminating to that one, final trick…”

“No spoilers.”

“I can’t spoil you, you already know how it ends!”

“So let me just chime in with your readers: YOU’RE A MONSTER, HOW COULD YOU, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.”

“Somebody take this doppelganger away.”



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Wolf of Oren-Yaro.

K. S.:  Here’s two of them:

There are people who find themselves in a precarious situation, believe
themselves betrayed, and will do nothing but run their tongues ragged in
criticizing the world for not helping them better. Like wailing dogs in the rain,
they strain against their leashes instead of turning to gnaw their bonds to
freedom, or sit on their piss and wait for pity.


Betrayal has a funny way of turning your world upside down. As familiar as I
had already been with it by that point, it still amazed me how far I could
stretch that moment of denial. The thought of what had been—of what could
yet be—persisted. Perhaps it is not the same for most people. Perhaps, when
you love less, it is easier not to let the emptiness become a cavern from which
you can no longer see the sun.


TQWhat's next?

K. S.:  Well, we’re going to hit the ground running with this series. The sequel, THE IKESSAR FALCON, is out on September 29, 2020. It’s a chonky book, so those hesitant to give THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO a try because it’s a new series will have plenty to keep themselves busy until Book 3…which is out in the first half of next year.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
Chronicles of the Bitch Queen 1
Orbit, February 18, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Interview with K. S. Villoso, author of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves, which nearly tore her nation apart. But her arranged marriage with the son of a rival clan should herald peaceful days to come.

However, her husband’s sudden departure before their reign begins puts a quick end to those dreams, and the kingdom is fractured beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, one that will send her across the sea. What’s meant to be an effort at reconciling the past becomes an assassination attempt. Stranded in a land she doesn’t know, with no idea whom she can trust, Talyien will have to embrace her namesake.

A wolf of Oren-yaro is not tamed.





About K.S. Villoso

Interview with K. S. Villoso, author of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
Photo by Mikhail Villoso
K.S. Villoso writes speculative fiction with a focus on deeply personal themes and character-driven narratives. Much of her work is inspired by her childhood in the slums of Taguig, Philippines. She is now living amidst the forest and mountains with her husband, children, and dogs in Anmore, BC.











Website  ~  Twitter @k_villoso


2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 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 February 29, 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

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




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts
Cover design and lettering by Emily Courdelle
Cover art direction by Steve Panton - LBBG




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts
Cover by Francesca Corsini




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts
Jacket design by Adam Auerbach




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts
Cover illustration by Mio Im
Cover design by Julianna Lee




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Cover photographs by Arcangel and Shutterstock
Cover copyright © 2020 Hachette Book Group, Inc.




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto
Cover illustration by Simon Goinard
Cover copyright © 2019 Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time


Please welcome Constance Sayers to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Witch in Time is published on February 11, 2020 by Redhook.



Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time




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

Constance:  This is embarrassing, but I wrote a soap opera treatment when I was twelve. (In my defense, it was the height of the General Hospital craze.) My sister gave me her old baby-blue Smith Corona typewriter and I sat for hours in my dad’s study and typing this story. I worked on it for years and in the end I think it was nearly two-hundred pages which is quite a lot of commitment at that age! Obviously, I really wanted to be a screenwriter at one point in my life. In undergrad, I took at least three semesters of screenwriting and playwriting.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Constance:  I’m a true hybrid. Being a full pantser hasn’t worked out for me very well because I tend to wander. Having to turn in fully-baked plots to the publisher has helped me make sure that I know where I’m going with the narrative. Often, I can see holes appearing right away in a 3-page synopsis and I know those are things I’m going to have to work out to find solutions for (plot holes, inconsistencies). I also get feedback from my editor on the outline where she can see any major structural problems and things I should steer clear of or places where I could get tripped up. I also try to put in some atmosphere in my synopsis, kind of like a movie treatment. I’ll often go back and consult them to see what type of mood or voice I was trying to create and if I pulled it off. Once I start to actually write, however, I allow the manuscript to surprise me. I will make drastic changes (adding characters, shifting the ending) if it feels right as I’m writing or revising on the fly so my detailed plot description never feels restricting.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Constance:  The first draft. It’s an ugly time for me when there is nothing yet on the page. When I’m in first draft mode, I write a thousand words a day, faithfully. Some days it’s excruciating and other days I’ll write five-thousand words…but I always make myself come back and do another thousand the next day. I don’t worry if the words are good, I never even look at them, I just keep going. This process is not unlike getting up at 5 am to work out (which I also do). In the moment, you hate it…you’ll try to talk yourself out of it, but after you’ve put in the time, you feel at peace. I adore the second and third drafts, so I’m just slogging through the first (very rough) draft.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Constance:  My father always wanted to be a professional musician, so growing up, our house was always filled with music. There was no choice in the matter that I would study piano and voice with an eye toward a career in an opera somewhere. I love music, but there is a math to it that didn’t come naturally to me. I’m a terrible piano player. That said, music is the single biggest influence in my writing. My characters are always musicians or frustrated musicians. I find musical instruments haunting and mysterious things. Often, I provide a soundtrack for the book. For nearly four years, I was an overnight DJ for a commercial radio station in rural Pennsylvania and the love of music and the search for new music is something that always present in me. I write with the Apple Music Chill station and for A Witch in Time, I was very influenced by music—particularly Eric Satie for Juliet and the Laurel Canyon sound for Sandra.



TQDescribe A Witch in Time using only 5 words.

Constance:  Curse Gone Wrong Through Time



TQTell us something about A Witch in Time that is not found in the book description.

Constance:  There is actually some family history in the book. There is a scene for Juliet that is something that came from my own grandmother’s history. In 1918, my grandmother was a young girl and was attacked by three men while walking home. In the 1980s, my father learned about this incident quite by accident and attempted to find out more details. I recall no one in the family wanting to discuss it, so we were forced to go to the city archives to find her police case files. Those files were tough for him to read. It’s a rather tragic story in that as a result of the attack, my grandmother had a child out of wedlock. It was 1918, so as you can imagine, she had very limited options, but she took her infant daughter and went to work as a housekeeper for an older widower. That widower would eventually become my grandfather Despite a rather large difference in their ages, they were married on Valentine’s Day and had three children of their own before she died at the age of 27. I like to think—hope—that she eventually found some happiness in her life. So much of her story was lost to history and memory, but the character of Juliet is definitely inspired by her. It’s a crazy story, but shows you that real life is sometimes much stranger than fiction.



TQWhat inspired you to write A Witch in Time?

Constance:  My sister brought home a print of a well-known painting and she thought the subject looked exactly like me. I’ll admit, the likeness was pretty unsettling. This painting hung on her wall for years and I recall thinking: What if there was a story where a character discovered she was the person in the painting from another time? I love “what if” types of narratives. The book just came to shape rather quickly after that.



TQWhy do you think we are continually fascinated by witches?

Constance:  For years I wrote rural noir short stories and novels—those realist kind of close-up, gritty stories. I don’t think my writing really popped until I started looking at the fantastical. Witches are limitless creatures in a way…they can transcend the mundane and at least for me, I love the power and possibility of that.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Witch in Time?

Constance:  I started with books, both non-fiction and fiction or films of the time. I have bookshelves filled with biographies of painters and Hollywood stars of the 1930s. One time period is difficult enough, but I was juggling three, so I just dove in, getting a sense of each time. With the exception of Challans, France, I also visited every location and worked with local historians who would take me to places representative of the time. I recall admiring David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas so much for his immersive time periods. I tried very hard to make the language of each section really feel like the time. I studied a lot of interviews and films from the 1930s to try and get Nora right. I also think those feel different than the groovy tone of Sandra in the 1970s or the more formal language of Juliet in Belle Epoque Paris.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Witch in Time.

Constance:  Lisa Pompilio of Orbit Books created the cover. I love how mysterious it is and how shadowy the woman on the cover is. I’m assuming she’s Juliet, but then Juliet is all of them so I love the choice Lisa made to shadow her face. I’d also never talked to the folks at Redhook/Orbit about my love (borderline obsession) of all things Rococo so to my amazement, Lisa included this Rococo flourishes on the cover that I adore. I’m also a sucker for typography, so I love a good serif font.



TQIn A Witch in Time who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Constance:  Sandra is hands-down my favorite character, yet she is no one else’s favorite. (In fact, she’s usually people’s least favorite). Without giving anything away, you don’t get to the ending without Sandra. She is the keystone and asks the difficult questions and matches Luke for the first time in the book, much to his surprise. I loved, loved writing for her and I think it shows. Also, I grew up in the 1970s, so for me it was the romanticized time of childhood. While my favorite, Sandra was the hardest to write. I ended up writing that section twice. By that I mean, I largely scrapped the first take on her and started over and rewrote the entire thing. Juliet was the easiest. Her story just came to me. I didn’t know if I could write a period section like that (I’d never done it before), so it was fun to see that it worked.



TQDoes A Witch in Time touch on any social issues?

Constance:  I really tried to illustrate how difficult it was to be a woman. I think it is still hard to be a woman, but certainly in 1895, Juliet is a teenager who is seduced by a much older man. She finds herself in a terrible situation that requires otherworldly intervention to get her out of. I wanted her time period and the choices available to her to feel as restrictive as a corset. Nora’s situation is a bit better, but not much. I wanted to focus on Hollywood at the very moment the idea of the ideal “woman” was created on screen. To me that was “the” moment in Hollywood and quite a moment in the public’s formation of an “ideal.” Norma is literally erased and re-created as a sex-symbol Nora, but it’s all an illusion. Next comes Sandra. The seventies were about choices, but still I think they weren’t always free.



TQWhich question about A Witch in Time do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Constance:  Who would you cast as Luke and Helen! It’s my favorite question. I was a big Battlestar Galactica fan and actor Callum Keith Rennie (Leoben) was always who I had in my mind when writing for Luke. For Helen, I always thought Genevieve Angelson from Good Girls Revolt was a great Helen. In my mind, the same actress would have to play all of the parts and I think she’d morph from Juliet to Helen well.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Witch in Time.

Constance:

“People were meant to live in their small pockets of time with events proceeding in digestible intervals. To see so many lifetimes of progress unfurled before us is far too jarring and almost incomprehensible. It makes us doubt our significance in the world. And a feeling of significance is so important to our survival.”



TQWhat's next?

Constance:  I’m working on a book about a circus with dark origins.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Constance:  You’re welcome!





A Witch in Time
Redhook, February 11, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time
A young witch is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist, in this haunting debut novel.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — attempts to cast a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly summons a demon, binding her daughter to both Auguste and this supernatural being for all time.

Born and re-born, Juliet is fated to live her affair and die tragically young across continents and lifetimes.

But finally, in present-day Washington D.C., something shifts. In this life, Juliet starts to remember her tragic past. And this time, she begins to develop powers of her own that might finally break the spell…

A Witch in Time is perfect for fans of A Secret History of Witches, Outlander, and The Time Traveler’s Wife.





About Constance

Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time
Photo by Julie Ann Pixler
Constance Sayers received her MA in English from George Mason University and her BA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a media executive at Atlantic Media. She has been twice named to Folio’s list of “Top 100 Media People in America” and was included in their list of “Top Women in Media.” She is the co-founder of the Thoughtful Dog literary magazine and lives in Kensington, Maryland.

Website
Twitter @constancesayers
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2020 Debut Author Challenge - February 2020 Debuts




There are 18 debut novels for February 2020.

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

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





Luke Arnold

The Last Smile in Sunder City
The Fetch Phillips Archives 1
Orbit, February 25, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

A former soldier turned PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in a world that’s lost its magic in a compelling debut fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold.

Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.

I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:

1. Sobriety costs extra.
2. My services are confidential.
3. I don’t work for humans.

It’s nothing personal–I’m human myself. But after what happened, to the magic, it’s not the humans who need my help.

Walk the streets of Sunder City and meet Fetch, his magical clients, and a darkly imagined world perfect for readers of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.




Sarah Bond

Gravity's Heir
Black Rose Writing, February 6, 2020
Trade Paperback, 320 pages

"Legacy is nothing but history, if it doesn't have a future.”

When her father threw her out, sacrificing his only living daughter for the good of his shipping conglomerate, Lena Lomasky swore she could make it on her own. But now she’s broke and desperate, and pride won’t fuel her spaceship. Her latest job is simple: carry a datastick of state secrets home to her father. The same man who cut her off without a cent. Whatever. She can do this. Pass the whiskey.

An ill-timed royal assassination ignites a war and Lena’s crew is blamed. When she thinks to use her cache of state secrets to save them, Lena discovers she’s actually smuggling the only known plans for her father’s invention: a gravity bomb that can vaporize entire cities.

Lena must decide: continue on and hope her father can design a defense to save millions of lives, or leverage the plans to save the only people who really matter.





Amy Bonnaffons

The Regrets
Little, Brown and Company, February 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Reality and dream collide in Amy Bonnaffons’s dazzling, darkly playful debut novel about a love affair between the living and the dead.

For weeks, Rachel has been noticing the same golden-haired young man sitting at her Brooklyn bus stop, staring off with a melancholy air. When, one day, she finally musters the courage to introduce herself, the chemistry between them is undeniable: Thomas is wise, witty, handsome, mysterious, clearly a kindred spirit. There’s just one tiny problem: He’s dead.

Stuck in a surreal limbo governed by bureaucracy, Thomas is unable to “cross over” to the afterlife until he completes a 90-day stint on earth, during which time he is forbidden to get involved with a member of the living — lest he incur “regrets.” When Thomas and Rachel break this rule, they unleash a cascade of bizarre, troubling consequences.

Set in the hallucinatory borderland between life and death, The Regrets is a gloriously strange and breathtakingly sexy exploration of love, the cataclysmic power of fantasies, and the painful, exhilarating work of waking up to reality, told with uncommon grace and humor by a visionary artist at the height of her imaginative power.





Kelly Braffet

The Unwilling
MIRA, February 11, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 576 pages
(Fantasy Debut)

A penetrating tale of magic, faith and pride…The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to Judah’s survival—and possibly her undoing.

As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom and, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban—a lord as mighty as he is cruel—has his own plans for her, and for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah. The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined.

An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.





Justin T. Call

Master of Sorrows
Silent Gods 1
Blackstone Publishing, February 25, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 577 pages

You've heard the story before: an orphaned boy, raised by a wise old man, comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil threatening his world.

But what if that hero were destined to become the new dark lord?

The Academy of Chaenbalu has stood against magic for centuries. Hidden from the world, acting from the shadows, it trains its students to detect and retrieve magic artifacts, which it jealously guards from the misuse of others. Because magic is dangerous: something that heals can also harm, and a power that aids one person may destroy another.

Of the academy's many students, only the most skilled can become Avatars -- warrior thieves, capable of infiltrating the most heavily guarded vaults -- and only the most determined can be trusted to resist the lure of magic. More than anything, Annev de Breth wants to become one of them.

But Annev carries a secret. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents killers. Seventeen years later, he struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When Annev is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy's masters, he must finally decide whether to accept the truth of who he really is ... or embrace the darker truth of what he may one day become.





R.W.W. Greene

The Light Years
Angry Robot Books, February 11, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

The captain of a family-owned starship arranges a marriage for her son in hopes of achieving faster-than-light travel and maybe, just maybe, marital bliss.

Before Hisako Saski is even born, her parents make a deal on her behalf. In exchange for a first-class education and a boost out of poverty, Hisako will marry Adem Sadiq, a maintenance engineer and self-styled musician who works the trade lanes aboard his family’s sub-light starship, the Hajj.

Hisako is not happy when she finds out about the plan. She has little interest in the broken branch of physics the deal requires her to study, and is not keen on the idea of giving up her home and everything she knows to marry a stranger.

Sparks fly when Adem and Hisako meet, but their personal issues are overshadowed by the discovery of long-held secrets and a chance at faster-than-light travel.

File Under: Science Fiction[ E=mc2 | Happy wife, Happy life | Marital Bliss | Light Years Away ]





A. K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name
The Serpent Gates 1
Tor Books, February 11, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

A. K. Larkwood's The Unspoken Name is a stunning debut fantasy about an orc priestess turned wizard's assassin.

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does—she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn—gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

“In the vein of Le Guin's magnificent Tombs of Atuan—if Arha the Eaten One got to grow up to be a swordswoman mercenary in thrall to her dubious wizard mentor. I love this book so much."—Arkady Martine, author of A Memory Called Empire

“Hooked me in from the first page and never let go. Fabulous, in every meaning of the word."—Jenn Lyons, author of Ruin of Kings





Margarita Montimore

Oona Out of Order
Flatiron Books, February 25, 2020
Hardover and eBook, 352 pages

Oona Out of Order is a remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of sequence.

Just because life may be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?

Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

"Reminiscent of Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, Oona Out of Order is a delightfully freewheeling romp.” —Booklist (starred review)





S E Moorhead

Witness X
Trapeze, February 6, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

From one of the most original new voices in fiction comes a startling vision of a world where hero Kyra must fight the past to save our future. A genre-bending thriller for the Netflix generation, for fans of Altered Carbon, Dark and Mindhunter.

Fourteen years ago, the police caged a notorious serial killer who abducted and butchered two victims every February. When a body is discovered, and a second person is reported missing, the race is on to catch the real killer. Neuropsychologist Kyra Sullivan, a police psychologist on the original investigation, fights to use a new technology that accesses the minds of the original witnesses. Will Kyra discover the truth, and if so, at what cost?

From an exciting debut talent, Witness X is a brilliantly twisty tale that is at once mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human - an addictive thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we'll go to change the past, perfect for fans of Stranger Things, Altered Carbon and Ready Player One.





Andrew Hunter Murray

The Last Day
Dutton, February 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

A visionary and powerful debut thriller set in a terrifyingly plausible dystopian near-future—with clear parallels to today’s headlines—in which the future of humanity lies in the hands of one woman, a scientist who has stumbled upon a secret that the government will go to any lengths to keep hidden.

A world half in darkness. A secret she must bring to light.

It is 2059, and the world has crashed. Forty years ago, a solar catastrophe began to slow the planet’s rotation to a stop. Now, one half of the globe is permanently sunlit, the other half trapped in an endless night. The United States has colonized the southern half of Great Britain—lucky enough to find itself in the narrow habitable region left between frozen darkness and scorching sunlight—where both nations have managed to survive the ensuing chaos by isolating themselves from the rest of the world.

Ellen Hopper is a scientist living on a frostbitten rig in the cold Atlantic. She wants nothing more to do with her country after its slide into casual violence and brutal authoritarianism. Yet when two government officials arrive, demanding she return to London to see her dying college mentor, she accepts—and begins to unravel a secret that threatens not only the nation’s fragile balance, but the future of the whole human race.





Beth Overmyer

The Goblets Immortal
Flame Tree Press, February 20, 2020
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages
(Fantasy Debut)

In a land where magic’s feared, a rare magical kind exists: the Blest, products of the Goblets Immortal. Aidan’s a Blest on the run, forced to return home. He made his family vanish decades ago, but believes there’s a way to bring them back.

Whispers of a new fear take shape in Meraude, a mage who hates all magic-kind. When she appears in Aidan’s dreams offering a bargain for the return of his family, Aidan’s desires battle with his self-preservation.

Is it wise for Aidan to seek the Goblets Immortal for Meraude’s unknown purposes? Friend and foe blur the magical lines, and Aidan must discern who will shake his hand or slit his throat.

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.





Bernd Perplies

Black Leviathan
Tor Books, February 25, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
(English Debut)

Melville’s Moby Dick unfolds in a world of dragon hunters in Black Leviathan, an epic revenge fantasy from German award-winning author Bernd Perplies.

Beware! A shadow will cover you, larger than that cast by any other dragon of this world. Black as the lightless chasm from whence it was born at the beginning of time.

In the coastal city Skargakar, residents make a living from hunting dragons and use them for everything from clothing to food, while airborne ships hunt them in the white expanse of a cloud sea, the Cloudmere.

Lian does his part carving the kyrillian crystals that power the ships through the Cloudmere, but when he makes an enemy of a dangerous man, Lian ships out on the next vessel available as a drachenjager, or dragon hunter.

He chooses the wrong ship. A fanatic captain, hunts more than just any dragon. His goal is the Firstborn Gargantuan—and Adaron is prepared to sacrifice everything for revenge.





Shaun Prescott

The Town
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February 4,  2020
Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages
(US Debut)

"A powerfully doomy debut" (The Guardian), Shaun Prescott’s The Town is a novel of a rural Australian community besieged by modern day anxieties and threatened by a supernatural force seeking to consume the dying town.

This is Australia, an unnamed, dead-end town in the heart of the outback—a desolate place of gas stations, fast-food franchises, and labyrinthine streets: flat and nearly abandoned. When a young writer arrives to research just such depressing middles-of-nowhere as they are choked into oblivion, he finds something more sinister than economic depression: the ghost towns of Australia appear to be literally disappearing. An epidemic of mysterious holes is threatening his new home’s very existence, and this discovery plunges the researcher into an abyss of weirdness from which he may never escape.

Dark, slippery and unsettling, Shaun Prescott’s debut resurrects the existential novel for the age of sprawl and blight, excavates a nation’s buried history of colonial genocide, and tells a love story that asks if outsiders can ever truly belong anywhere. The result is a disquieting classic that vibrates with an occult power.





Lisa Robertson

The Baudelaire Fractal
Coach House Books, February 4, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 160 pages

A debut novel by acclaimed poet Lisa Robertson, in which a poet realizes she has written the works of Baudelaire. One morning, the poet Hazel Brown wakes up in a strange hotel room to find that she's written the complete works of Charles Baudelaire. Surprising as this may be, it's no more surprising to Brown than the impossible journey she's taken to become the writer that she is. Animated by the spirit of the poète maudit, she shuttles between London, Vancouver, Paris, and the French countryside, moving fluidly between the early 1980s and the present, from rented room to rented room, all the while considering such Baudelairian obsessions as modernity, poverty, and the perfect jacket. .. Part memoir, part magical realism, part hilarious trash-talking take on contemporary art and the poet's life, The Baudelaire Fractal is the long-awaited debut novel by the inimitable Lisa Robertson.





Constance Sayers

A Witch in Time
Redhook, February 11, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

A young witch is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist, in this haunting debut novel.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — attempts to cast a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly summons a demon, binding her daughter to both Auguste and this supernatural being for all time.

Born and re-born, Juliet is fated to live her affair and die tragically young across continents and lifetimes.

But finally, in present-day Washington D.C., something shifts. In this life, Juliet starts to remember her tragic past. And this time, she begins to develop powers of her own that might finally break the spell…

A Witch in Time is perfect for fans of A Secret History of Witches, Outlander, and The Time Traveler’s Wife.





K. S. Villoso

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
Chronicles of the Bitch Queen 1
Orbit, February 18, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves, which nearly tore her nation apart. But her arranged marriage with the son of a rival clan should herald peaceful days to come.

However, her husband’s sudden departure before their reign begins puts a quick end to those dreams, and the kingdom is fractured beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, one that will send her across the sea. What’s meant to be an effort at reconciling the past becomes an assassination attempt. Stranded in a land she doesn’t know, with no idea whom she can trust, Talyien will have to embrace her namesake.

A wolf of Oren-yaro is not tamed.





Juliette Wade

Mazes of Power
The Broken Trust 1
DAW, February 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

This debut work of sociological science fiction follows a deadly battle for succession, where brother is pitted against brother in a singular chance to win power and influence for their family.

The cavern city of Pelismara has stood for a thousand years. The Great Families of the nobility cling to the myths of their golden age while the city’s technology wanes.

When a fever strikes, and the Eminence dies, seventeen-year-old Tagaret is pushed to represent his Family in the competition for Heir to the Throne. To win would give him the power to rescue his mother from his abusive father, and marry the girl he loves.

But the struggle for power distorts everything in this highly stratified society, and the fever is still loose among the inbred, susceptible nobles. Tagaret’s sociopathic younger brother, Nekantor, is obsessed with their family’s success. Nekantor is willing to exploit Tagaret, his mother, and her new servant Aloran to defeat their opponents.

Can he be stopped? Should he be stopped? And will they recognize themselves after the struggle has changed them?





Marian Womack

The Golden Key
Titan Books, February 18, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

“A fantastic new talent” HELEN MARSHALL

An extraordinary, page-turning Gothic mystery set in the wilds of the Norfolk Fens from the BSFA-shortlisted author.


London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.

Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.

But the Fens are a liminal land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. With locals that speak of devilmen and catatonic children found on the Broads, Helena finds the answer to the mystery leads back to where it started: Samuel Moncrieff.

Interview with Chana Porter, author of The Seep


Please welcome Chana Porter to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Seep was published on January 21, 2020 by Soho Press.



Interview with Chana Porter, author of The Seep




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

Chana:  Happy to be here! Thanks for having me.

I wrote a lot of poetry and stories as a child. I remember my second grade teacher reading a story I had written about pirates out loud to the rest of the class, without asking me. It was a strange feeling. I had just transferred from a modern orthodox Jewish school in Baltimore to a public school in the suburbs and I felt shy about being the new kid. But I liked the feeling of having my imagination acknowledged. The delight won out over the embarrassment.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Chana:  I’m a hybrid! I dream the major plot points before sitting down to write. If I don’t have a clear idea of some major parts of the action, I know I’m not ready. But if I clearly imagine everything too well, I find the process loses its life force. I’ll write juicy scenes out of order, as well, and then fill in the gaps. I also rewrite A LOT. Loads end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Chana:  I love every part of being a writer and I feel extremely lucky to get to do it. That being said— I find generative early drafts very fun. Later on in the process, it can feel almost athletic to go back into a draft and work on the entire book. I eat protein bars and drink lots of water when overhauling a draft.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Chana:  I wouldn’t be the writer I am without Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel Delany, Jeff VanderMeer. Those are the big ones for me. I also love film and theater— could go on and on about my influences there (and you’ll see some shout outs to my favorite filmmakers in The Seep!) And Star Trek.



TQDescribe The Seep using only 5 words.

Chana:  Benevolent aliens, unexpected consequences. Lush!



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

Chana:  It’s a novel about grief and loss, amongst other things, but it’s actually very funny. I’m not interested in spending time with characters without good senses of humor. Being alive on this tiny spinning planet is often very ridiculous.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Seep?

Chana:  I’m interested in what our world would look like if it was life affirming for its inhabitants. I don’t think it’s our nature to oppress people, to draw these fictitious borders, to poison our ecosystem. So I wanted to create a utopia that gets people thinking about the collective choices we’re making in our current reality. Then I wanted to use this frame of a softer, abundant future to explore complex issues and emotions, like grief and loss, identity and community. Because I don't think we can move towards a more equitable future without acknowledging past oppressions, nor should we gloss over difference in an effort to celebrate oneness. I’ve attempted to create a story which is not didactic, but gives the reader a lot of personal agency and responsibility in answering the questions the novel raises. A reader remarked that I leave about half of the questions I raise unanswered— that balance feels right. I’m asking you to engage with me.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Seep?

Chana:  A lot! I worked on this book for seven years, and researched as I went. I read a lot of science fiction that dealt with utopia (or things that seem like utopia, which is more often the case with the genre.) I read essays about communes and communal living. I went to the Next Systems conference where I attended lectures about permaculture and alternate forms of currency. (I was there teaching a workshop with my summer institute The Octavia Project, so it was a wonderful synchronicity.) I researched different indigenous tribes in the Northeast to narrow down where I though Trina’s ancestry should partially be from— my main character is part Native American, part Jewish. I’m Jewish, so I didn’t research that, but I was reading a lot about Yiddish theater traditions for my own interest, and that certainly influenced the creation of another character, YD. Everything makes its way into the work. So that was the more formal research. And then other specific details about characters and settings are inspired from my own community and mentors, my experiences in cooperatively living and working. Rachel Pollack was my advisor at Goddard College, where I began writing. She was an invaluable mentor for the creation of the world.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Seep.

Chana:  Soho Press (who are so wonderful) asked me for my input. I said I wanted the cover to feel like “lush overgrowth, water, flowering, fruiting -- or anything that alludes to the natural world overtaking the domestic.” The wonderful designer Michael Morris made the most gorgeous cover. Better than I could have dreamed!



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

Chana:  When I began The Seep, it was a much longer novel with three shifting points of view— three main characters. Trina pushed out the other two storylines— she took over! She was very easy to write. I didn’t find the other characters particularly challenging, but I do find that writing a group scene is a tight rope balancing act.



TQDoes The Seep touch on any social issues?

Chana:  Quite a few. The main conflict of The Seep explores complex issues around identity and agency, in a future where you can change your appearance at will. I won’t say more than that.

Additionally, my protagonist, Trina, is an older trans lesbian. I wanted to celebrate a trans elder character who is at home in her body and has a loving marriage, a successful career, deep friendships. And then, of course, I had to make her suffer. Because great characters struggle (and I think no beautiful life is without its own intensity.)



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

Chana:  I’m SHOCKED no one has asked me “If you had the opportunity, would you be Seeped?”

I think yes! How could I resist? But, you know— in moderation. :)



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

Chana:  This one always makes me chuckle. It’s from the beginning of the book, as part of a larger catalogue of the changes The Seep has brought to the earth:

“All debts were forgiven. The student loan people threw away their phones.”



TQWhat's next?

Chana:  I have a big novel that’s almost finished, and about 20K of the next one ready to be explored. In my life as a playwright, my play with music WE ARE RADIOS will be workshopped at Shotgun Players in Berkley, CA this August 4th-5th.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chana:  Thank you for the work you do to support debut authors!





The Seep
Soho Press, January 21, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 216 pages

Interview with Chana Porter, author of The Seep
A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.





About Chana

Interview with Chana Porter, author of The Seep
Photo by Stella Kalinina
Chana Porter is a playwright, teacher, MacDowell Colony fellow, and co-founder of the Octavia Project, a STEM and fiction-writing program for girls and gender non-conforming youth from underserved communities. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is currently at work on her next novel.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @PorterChana

Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade


Please welcome Brian D. Anderson to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Bard's Blade is published on January 28, 2020 by Tor Books.



Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade




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

Brian:  Oh lord! It was a humiliating experience. I was roughly eleven or twelve and had just finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time. It was an old copy my uncle kept in his childhood bedroom at my grandparent’s house. He was a huge science fiction and fantasy fan back in the 60’s and was more than happy to let me have it.

The very day I read the final page, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I was convinced I could do what Tolkien had done. I felt it in my heart. Sadly, that’s all I had: heart. No skill whatsoever. I’m not sure if a pre-teen boy can suffer the Dunning/Kruger effect. But I banged out about five pages of what I thought to be a work of unadulterated brilliance.

This opinion of myself was shattered when I showed my uncle and watched him read it. A grin became a smile, that became a chuckle, that became full blown laughter. He wasn’t trying to be mean. He’s a sweet man. But I was going on and on how I was going to be the next Tolkien, and the proof was in my hands. He simply couldn’t stop himself. I told him I’d keep trying. But my feelings were hurt more than I let on, and I didn’t write again for many years.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Brian:  I started as a pantser, and was for a long time. These days, I find plotting makes life so much easier. That’s not to say an outline is a suicide pact. It’s not chiseled in stone. If I think of a better idea, I’ll go with it, which makes me a bit of a hybrid, I suppose.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Brian:  There’s nothing really all that challenging anymore, at least as it pertains to the work itself. Not in the way it was as a novice. After nearly twenty books I have established my own style, voice, and methods. And I spend plenty of time reading so I can pick up a few new tricks. And I think I am flexible enough to change when the situation calls for it.

The real challenge is not taking on too much as once – balancing writing with my personal life. I have a tendency to overload myself with projects. When I do, my health (both physical and mental) suffers. It’s not conducive to a happy family situation.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Brian:  Hard to say. I’m definitely inspired by other writers. And while I’m sure they influence me, I don’t think I know when it’s happening. It’s too much in the realm of the subliminal for me to be aware of it. In fact, I’m frequently surprised by the comparisons to other authors I get from readers. It’s rarely who I think it will be.



TQDescribe The Bard's Blade using only 5 words.

Brian:  Fantasy adventure everyone should read 😊



TQTell us something about The Bard's Blade that is not found in the book description.

Brian:  Though it’s written as an adult fantasy, I wanted it to be accessible to everyone. It’s not YA, but readers of all ages can enjoy it.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Bard's Blade? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Brian:  It actually came as a result of a failed attempt at writing flash fiction. I needed a distraction, so I entered a contest. The piece was based on fan art, and was supposed to be no more than three-hundred words. While I could not keep it that short and was therefore disqualified, by the end I’d come up with the basic plot and characters for The Bard’s Blade.

What appeals to me most about writing fantasy is the freedom. I can create any type of world I want. I get to touch on social issues in a way that is relevant without being preachy or ham fisted. Things that are often difficult or awkward to talk about can be reframed in a fantasy setting so to allow for nuance and depth. The writer can take the challenges of the modern world and insert them into their narrative without the appearance of bias or malice.

Just look at the way fantasy has grown. You have Asian, African, LGBTQ, South American, Native American, among other types of fantasy that have joined in with European based fantasy as a welcome addition, rather than a contentious rival. The new and the traditional walk hand in hand. I can’t name another genre that can boast this level of enthusiastic acceptance by both creators and readers alike.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Bard's Blade?

Brian:  None. It didn’t require any. I understood the technology I intended to use. And the rest was a complete invention. Well…I did look up the organizational structure of the Roman Catholic Church. But that was more to confirm what I already knew.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Bard's Blade.

Brian:  Felix Ortiz brought his spectacular talent to bear on this. It doesn’t depict a scene. But it absolutely captures the mood and tone.



TQIn The Bard's Blade who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Brian:  Remarkably, it was Mariyah. I know it should have been Lem. We have a lot in common. But I connected more with Mariyah. I knew what she would feel and do in any given situation. I couldn’t tell you why. I just did.

The hardest was Loria Camdon. Her personality and life experience are highly complex. I didn’t want to write a stereotypical hard ass female – humorless, pragmatic, tough as nails, fearless, and sometimes mean as hell. She needed balance. Only then would she be like a real person to whom the reader could relate. It wasn’t easy. But in the end I think I accomplished my goal.



TQWhich question about The Bard's Blade do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Brian:  How many people should I tell to buy and read The Bard’s Blade?

All the people! That’s how many.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Bard's Blade.

Brian:

Knowledge is like the first step down a long road. All you can see is the ground at your feet. What lies ahead is shrouded in darkness until you find the courage to walk on.

Book of Kylor, Chapter One, Verse Fifty-Three


Injustice is the garden in which the seed of misery is sown.

Book of Kylor, Chapter Three, Verse Twenty-Eight



TQWhat's next?

Brian:  A Chorus of Fire is written and out of copy editing. So mainly, I’m finishing up with my indie works, along with A Sword’s Elegy, final book of The Sorcerer’s Song. After that I have a new series in mind, of which I have 80k words written. The world is vast and extremely complex on a scale I’ve never attempted. So I’m excited to dive in deep.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Bard's Blade
The Sorcerer's Song 1
Tor Books, January 28, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade
The Bard's Blade is the start of the new Sorcerer's Song fantasy adventure series from Brian D. Anderson, bestselling author of The Godling Chronicles and Dragonvein.

Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she's a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together.

Then a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, bringing a dark prophecy that forces Lem and Mariyah down separate paths. How far will they have to go to stop a rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?





About Brian

Interview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's Blade
BRIAN D. ANDERSON is the indie-bestselling fantasy author of The Godling Chronicles, Dragonvein, and Akiri (with co-author Steven Savile) series. His books have sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide and his audiobooks are perennially popular. After a fifteen year long career in music, he rediscovered his boyhood love of writing. It was soon apparent that this was what he should have been pursuing all along. Currently, he lives in the sleepy southern town of Fairhope, Alabama with his wife and son, who inspire him daily.





Website  ~  Twitter @BrianDAnderson7

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds


Please welcome Simon Jimenez to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Vanished Birds was published on January 14, 2020 by Del Rey.



Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds




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

Simon:  When I was seven (eight?) I wrote a story called “The Time Machene” [sic]. It was about a cat that climbs a tornado like a ladder. What this has to do with the titular “machene” I couldn’t tell you, but it made perfect sense to my child brain.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Simon:  A hybrid. I usually start with the haziest suggestion of a plan, but that almost always gets tossed out while I’m in the thick of it. And after I’m done being a reckless idiot, I’ll come up with a new plan. And then toss that one out. I’ll do this a few times more before I reach the end of whatever I’m working on.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Simon:  Like for a lot of people, it’s filling up that blank page. The first draft neuroses. Getting over yourself and finally putting something down, so that you can do the actual work of revising.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Simon:  Books that I loved. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. And like most writers I suspect, a lot of my writing is powered by some base level fear and anxiety. Some unsettled thing. In this case, it was time and its inevitable passing.



TQDescribe The Vanished Birds using only 5 words.

Simon:  Time lost and love found.



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

Simon:  There are sex scenes.



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

Simon:  For a while I’d been daydreaming about the central relationship in the book between a starship captain and a quiet boy, and I knew at some point I would put that story to paper. But when I set out and started writing this book, the only prerequisite I had was that there had to be a non-stereotypical gay male character at the center of events, somewhere. That was the most important thing to me. The rest followed in the process of writing.

There are many things about science fiction that appeal to me. There is often a bigness to these types of stories, a feeling of standing at the fringe end of our understanding of reality and looking out. For this book, I wanted the texture and color of space opera. Big impossible constructions and reality bending forces that are almost synonymous with magic.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Vanished Birds?

Simon:  Since the story is set so far into the future (about a thousand years) I had a lot of allowance to just make shit up, which is what I did, in earnest. I did light research for the chapter set in the near-future, on a too-warm earth; little things that would help sell the fiction. Learning where on earth I could put the space elevators. Everything else I invented or pulled from my working knowledge of things.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Vanished Birds.

Simon:  The vividly colorful shape on the front cover does depict something from the novel—a kinetic and galaxy-shaping force. It is not a coincidence that it has the contour of an hourglass.



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

Simon:  The easiest by far was Sartoris Moth, a far future socialite who likes to talk grandiloquently. His love of words, and his awareness of self, makes it fun to write in his voice. The hardest was the young man around whom the narrative revolves. His background is so outside my own realm of experience and understanding that it took extra effort on my part to create someone coherent and whole.



TQDoes The Vanished Birds touch on any social issues?

Simon:  A few. Global warming. The all-consuming force of corporate expansionism. The cultural effects of tourism. Things that are not necessarily the main thrust of the narrative, but rather carpet it.



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

Simon:

Q: Can you speak about the variety of emotion and narrative scope in the story? A: Like my favorite authors I am a fan of maximalism. I like it when I read a book or watch a movie and it is obvious that the author or director or even composer left nothing on the table in the conception and creation of the work. I wanted to capture that here. Put all of myself in the book, and don’t hold back for a sequel or another work, writing in the romance and the adventure and the big ideas and the quiet and reflective moments. To be generous with my offerings.



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

Simon:

“Weeks passed with the boy as her shadow, he stitching himself slowly each day to the soles of her feet.”

“One day, I will ask what it is he hears, when he hears the notes of music: the infernal, or the celestial. Judging by what I hear now—the flute song through my open door—it is most likely something in between. A fiery heaven all its own.”



TQWhat's next?

Simon:  I’m working on my second book right now. Different genre, mythic fantasy this time. A five-day chase through a land ravaged by a violent despot. Should be out next year if things work out.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Vanished Birds
Del Rey, January 14, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds
A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever, in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

“The best of what science fiction can be: a thought-provoking, heartrending story about the choices that define our lives.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A solitary ship captain, drifting through time.

Nia Imani is a woman out of place. Traveling through the stars condenses decades into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her. She lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.

A mute child, burdened with unimaginable power.


The scarred boy does not speak, his only form of communication the haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and otherworldly nature, Nia decides to take the boy in to live amongst her crew. Soon, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself. For both of them, a family. But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy.

A millennia-old woman, poised to burn down the future.

Fumiko Nakajima designed the ships that allowed humanity to flee a dying Earth. One thousand years later, she now regrets what she has done in the name of progress. When chance brings Fumiko, Nia, and the child together, she recognizes the potential of his gifts, and what will happen if the ruling powers discover him. So she sends the pair to the distant corners of space to hide them as she crafts a plan to redeem her old mistakes.

But time is running out. The past hungers for the boy, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.





About Simon

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds
Simon Jimenez’s short fiction has appeared in Canyon Voices and 100 Word Story’s anthology of flash fiction, Nothing Short Of. He received his MFA from Emerson College. This is his first novel.






Website

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 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 February 14, 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

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




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts
Cover art by Félix Ortiz




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Debra Billison
Paintings by Shokoofeh Azar used for cover design: 1. The Poetry
Night; 2. The Birds; 3. Red Bird and Moon




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts
Jacket design by Jarrod Taylor




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Rodrigo Corral Studio. Cover copyright © 2020 by
Hachette Book Group, Inc.




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts
Cover design and illustration by David G. Stevenson, 
based on an image © Shutterstock
Interview with Kelly Braffet, author of The UnwillingInterview with Andrew Hunter Murray, author of The Last DayInterview with K. S. Villoso, author of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February 2020 DebutsInterview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time2020 Debut Author Challenge - February 2020 DebutsInterview with Chana Porter, author of The SeepInterview with Brian D. Anderson, author of The Bard's BladeInterview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2020 Debuts

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