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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey


Please welcome C. T. Rwizi to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Scarlet Odyssey was published on July 1, 2020 by 47North.



Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey




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

C.T.:  The very first thing I wrote is not something I’d ever let anyone read. Ever. It was a cheesy, racy drama featuring cheating spouses, oversexed neighbors, soap opera style twists, fast cars and lots and lots of clichés. It was laughably bad. But I was trying to get the hang of writing at the time so I chose to do so in a way I’d find entertaining. Surprisingly, it worked. I was motivated to keep coming back to my crazy plot, and along the way I refined a writing process that works for me. I never got to finish the story though, since halfway through I decided to get more serious about my writing. I do return to it once in a while when I feel the need to laugh at my past self.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

C.T.:  Now there’s a fun word. Pantser. Pantster? Either way, I would say I am perhaps a tenth that. Mostly, I plot. I’ll have serious writers block if I sit in front of my computer and I don’t have a plan for where my chapter or scene begins and where it ends. Often, whenever I’m stuck, it’s because I haven’t planned things in enough detail.

What I usually do is create a skeleton of the whole book—i.e. beginning, middle and end—allowing for flexibility along the way. But I will plan each chapter in great detail before attempting to write it, and always with an awareness of what needs to happen next.

Sometimes, however, I’ll be in the middle of writing a scene and realize that it might work better if I deviated from the plan. When that happens, I stop writing, create a new plan to fit in this new idea, then continue. I almost never just write and see where things go.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

C.T.:  Editing a completed first draft can be fun and easy because most of the hard work has been done. The story’s broad strokes have been painted and the manuscript is no longer a nebulous idea in your head. It’s real, and you can see what needs to be improved, what should be removed, what’s missing, etc.

Getting to this point, however, is not easy. It requires endurance and motivation. You need to believe in your project enough to keep coming back to it. And that’s one of the most difficult things about writing: maintaining belief in your own work. Resisting the temptation to scrap it and start all over, or simply to give up. It can be difficult to keep going even when you’re not feeling confident, but that’s part of the process.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

C.T.:  The space operas of Alastair Reynolds and Peter Hamilton. I love books that impart a sense of awe at the size and age of the universe, works that deal with big ideas on a cosmic scale, and yet stay close to their characters. My work is not a space opera, but I vied to evoke the same sense of awe in my readers.



TQDescribe Scarlet Odyssey using only 5 words.

C.T.:  Bizarre. Mysterious. Magical. Chilling. Queer.



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

C.T.:  The world on which the story is based orbits a binary star—i.e., it has two suns: one yellow, one white. It also has a red moon, and a blue comet that shoots across the sky once every year.



TQWhat inspired you to write Scarlet Odyssey? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

C.T.:  I’d started a project based in a medieval European setting, but I was increasingly drawn to a supporting character from a southern continent, to the extent that I realized, based on the amount of time I was giving him, that I wanted him to be the star of the show, and to write about his society, which was more familiar to me than medieval Europe. Thus was born Scarlet Odyssey, a fantasy set in an African-inspired society.

As for what appeals to me about writing fantasy, I guess I blame my overactive imagination for seeking an outlet. I grew up reading Harry Potter like many other kids my age, though I craved to read similar works starring young black people like myself. But there weren’t many options at the time, so I was only stuck with what was available and my own imagination.

Things are beginning to change now, fortunately, with many writers of color being given the stage to write their own stories. Being a writer in the genre right now means I can be part of that change.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Scarlet Odyssey?

C.T.:  The starting point for many of the ideas I used was personal experience or knowledge I acquired by virtue of having grown up in southern Africa. The drystone architecture of my main character’s society, for example, was inspired by the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, which are not far from my grandfather’s farm in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe, and which I have visited on many occasions. The bullfighting ritual featured early on in the book was inspired by a similar ritual performed by young men in Eswatini at the king’s royal kraal. The beasts that appear are inspired by several African mythologies, from the tikoloshe of South Africa and Swaziland to the ilomba of Zambia.

So I was going off on myths and cultures I was already familiar with, and that are regularly seen or practiced or discussed among southern Africans. I did have to take my knowledge a step further, however, and I did this by reading scholarly research into African myths as well as the histories of the ancient Shona, Zulu and Swazi peoples.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Scarlet Odyssey.

C.T.:  The cover was designed by Shasti O’Leary Soudant. It depicts a sunset in the savannahs, which definitely features in the novel as a significant portion of it takes place in grassy velds similar to what you would find in south and east Africa.



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

C.T.:  The main character, Salo, is an outcast due to his failure to conform to his society’s standards of masculinity, which are higher for him since he’s the chief’s firstborn son. Though he’s a very different person from me, I empathized with him greatly because I myself am familiar with the social pressures born of toxic masculinity—to be seen as the strong one even when you don’t feel strong, to avoid anything even remotely feminine lest people question your manhood or sexuality, to repress your emotions at all costs. My personal experiences were handy as I wrote Salo’s character.

Conversely, the hardest character to write was the Maidservant, mostly because she has to do some pretty terrible things even though she knows they are wrong. I’ll admit; it was hard to empathize with her at times.



TQDoes Scarlet Odyssey touch on any social issues?

C.T.:  My book explores the toxicity of strict gender norms and the struggle of those who fail to conform to them. It also touches on tribalism and xenophobia, attitudes that still plague many African societies.



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

C.T.:  How much fun did you have writing this book?

Honestly? Lots. There were times I’d spend whole weekends in front of my computer without noticing the passage of time. This book is why I’ll be writing for as long as I am physically able to do so.


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


C.T.:

“I’ve seen people in glistening cities do the most savage of things, and people in the heart of the hinterlands do the noblest. I don’t think civilization is a place or a culture or a level of technological development. I think it’s simply the recognition that all life is valuable and must be treated as such. Everything else follows from there.”



TQWhat's next?

C.T.Requiem Moon, the sequel to Scarlet Odyssey, will be coming out in the spring of 2021. It’s out with the copy editors so it’s very close to done. But that will not be the last you hear from me.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

C.T.:  It has been a pleasure.





Scarlet Odyssey
Scarlet Odyssey 1
47North, July 1, 2020
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 559 pages

Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey
Magic is women’s work; war is men’s. But in the coming battle, none of that will matter.

Men do not become mystics. They become warriors. But eighteen-year-old Salo has never been good at conforming to his tribe’s expectations. For as long as he can remember, he has loved books and magic in a culture where such things are considered unmanly. Despite it being sacrilege, Salo has worked on a magical device in secret that will awaken his latent magical powers. And when his village is attacked by a cruel enchantress, Salo knows that it is time to take action.

Salo’s queen is surprisingly accepting of his desire to be a mystic, but she will not allow him to stay in the tribe. Instead, she sends Salo on a quest. The quest will take him thousands of miles north to the Jungle City, the political heart of the continent. There he must gather information on a growing threat to his tribe.

On the way to the city, he is joined by three fellow outcasts: a shunned female warrior, a mysterious nomad, and a deadly assassin. But they’re being hunted by the same enchantress who attacked Salo’s village. She may hold the key to Salo’s awakening—and his redemption.





About C. T. Rwizi

Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey
C. T. Rwizi was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica and got a BA in government at Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family, and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave. Scarlet Odyssey is his debut novel.







Twitter @c_t_rwizi


Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors


Here are some of the upcoming novels by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge (DAC) Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.


K. A. Doore (2019)

The Impossible Contract
Chronicles of Ghadid 2
Tor Books, November 12, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

The Impossible Contract is the second book in K. A. Doore's high fantasy adventure series the Chronicles of Ghadid, where a determined assassin travels to the heart of the Empire in pursuit of a powerful mark, for fans of Robin Hobb, Sarah J. Maas, and S. A. Chakraborty

An assassin’s reputation can mean life or death.

This holds especially true for Thana Basbowen, daughter of the legendary Serpent, who rules over Ghadid’s secret clan of assassins. When a top-tier contract drops in her lap — death orders against foreign ambassador Heru Sametket — Thana seizes the opportunity.

Yet she may be in over her head. Heru wields blasphemous powers against his enemies, and Thana isn’t the only person after his life: even the undead pursue him, leaving behind a trail of horror. Her mission leads her on a journey to the heart of a power-hungry empire, where dangers lurk around every corner. Her only ally is Mo, a determined healer set to protect Ghadid any way she can.

As further occult secrets are unleashed, however, the aftermath of this impossible contract may be more than anyone can handle.

The Chronicles of Ghadid
#1: The Perfect Assassin
#2: The Impossible Contract
#3: The Unconquered City


Book 1





Mark Lawrence (2011)

Dispel Illusion
Impossible Times 3
47North, December 31, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 238 pages

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.
Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.


Book 1
Book 2





Kristyn Merbeth (2016)

Fortuna
The Nova Vita Protocol 1
Orbit, November 5th 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook 560 pages

Fortuna launches a new space opera trilogy that will hook you from the first crash landing.

Scorpia Kaiser has always stood in Corvus’s shadow until the day her older brother abandons their family to participate in a profitless war. However, becoming the heir to her mother’s smuggling operation is not an easy transition for the always rebellious, usually reckless, and occasionally drunk pilot of the Fortuna, an aging cargo ship and the only home Scorpia has ever known.

But when a deal turns deadly and Corvus returns from the war, Scorpia’s plans to take over the family business are interrupted, and the Kaiser siblings are forced to make a choice: take responsibility for their family’s involvement in a devastating massacre or lay low and hope it blows over.

Too bad Scorpia was never any good at staying out of a fight.

Perfect for fans of Becky Chambers and Catherynne M. Valente, Fortuna introduces a dazzling new voice in science fiction.

Interview with Charlie Holmberg


Please welcome Charlie N. Holmberg to The Qwillery. Smoke and Summons, the 1st novel in the Numina series, was published on February 1, 2019 by 47North.



Interview with Charlie Holmberg




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

Charlie:  It’s either a weird Escaflowne fan fiction I did on a mailing list or an unfinished book called “Kaiku and the Ruby Necklace,” which was equally terrible.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Charlie:  I am very much a plotter. Outlines all the way! I can’t wrap my mind around pantsing. XD



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Has your writing process changed from when you wrote The Paper Magician (2014) until now?

Charlie:  I don’t think I could pinpoint one specific thing that’s the most challenging about writing. It really depends on the time of year and the book in question. Sometimes the most challenging thing is making a character arc work. Sometimes it’s school visits. Other times it’s dealing with rejection. Right now it’s that all my projects came to a head at the same time and I have to race to my deadlines!

The most significant change in my writing process actually happened just before I wrote The Paper Magician. (So apparently it was a change for the better!) I feel like I have a more intuitive sense of how to outline a story now, so I don’t get as calculating about how I piece a book together. I now story board EVERY book I write, whereas before I just wrote out a sequence of ideas in a Word document. That involved a lot of annoying back and forth!



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Charlie:  A huge influencer of mine is Hayao Miyazaki. I love his creativity! Sometimes it’s just a simple line in one of his movies that inspires something, or it’s the tone, or his characters. I’ve also been influenced by Brandon Sanderson, who is one of my favorite authors and was my writing instructor in college.



TQDescribe Smoke and Summons using only 5 words.

Charlie:  Magical fidget spinners meets Pokemon.



TQTell us something about Smoke and Summons that is not found in the book description.

Charlie:  There’s a very strong theme of family ties throughout this book and the series.



TQWhat inspired you to write Smoke and Summons? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Charlie:  Initially, it was because my agent and editor teamed up against me and pressured me to write another series! So I had to come up with an idea big enough to encompass multiple books. I went through my Pinterest boards, brainstorming folder, and past, unpublished novels of mine, pulling out anything and everything I found interesting. Some of those things included hosting monsters, an immortality switch, and a horse made of fire.

I adore fantasy because there’s just no limit to it. I like being able to read and write about things I can’t experience in real life. Fantasy encompasses so many other genres as well, so in a way, I get to write a little of everything!



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Smoke and Summons?

Charlie:  I did a lot of research on how guns work (especially old models) and the industrial revolution. Most of this was done via the lovely internet, as well as contacting friends who are experts in those fields.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Smoke and Summons.

Charlie:  I love my cover. The artist did an amazing job! The cover depicts Ireth, the fire-horse “demon” that’s bound to my main female character, Sandis.



TQ:   In Smoke and Summons who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Charlie:  You know, between the two viewpoint characters, it kind of switched depending on the scene and the book (Sandis, for instance, was harder to write in the third book of the series). Starting out, Rone was harder, but I got the hang of him pretty quickly.



TQDoes Smoke and Summons , the 1st novel in your Numina series, share anything thematically with your Paper Magician series?

CharlieSmoke and Summons has few similarities to The Paper Magician series. It’s tone is much darker, the stakes higher, and the plot more desperate. Even their progression is different. The Paper Magician series is more serial, while the Numina series is one giant story told in three books. They do both have what I hope are intriguing magic systems and main characters you can root for.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Smoke and Summons.

Charlie:

It never got easier. No matter how many times Kazen summoned a numen into her, it never got easier. Neither did the fear it instilled into Kazen’s victims, nor the pure, unrelenting pain possession wreaked upon her body.

Her stomach tensed, but she opened her mind, welcoming Ireth. Acceptance made the transition more bearable.

Ireth didn’t mean to hurt her.



TQWhat's next?

Charlie:  First is Myths and Mortals and Siege and Sacrifice, the other two books in the series, releasing April 16th and September 17th, respectively. So excited for them!

After that, I have a standalone romantic fantasy releasing called The Will and the Wilds. It’s the first book I wrote based on a dream. I call it my “kissing book” because it has twelve kissing scenes in it.

I’m hoping to sell a duology soon that’s in a similar vein as The Paper Magician, but no contract yet. ;)



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Smoke and Summons
Numina 1
47North, February 1, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 319 pages

Interview with Charlie Holmberg
A captivating world of monsters and magic from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series.

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…





Upcoming

Myth and Mortals
Numina 2
47North, April 16, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 288 pages

Interview with Charlie Holmberg
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg builds her bewitching world of beasts and betrayal as the Numina Series continues.

Sandis has escaped Kazen’s grasp, but she finds herself unmoored, reeling from her thief friend Rone’s betrayal.

Kazen has been hurt but not stopped, and he’ll do anything to summon the monster that could lay waste to the entire world. Sandis knows she must be the one to stop him, but with her own trusted numen now bound to another, and finding herself with no one she can trust, she is in desperate need of allies. Rone seems determined to help her, but Sandis has no intention of letting him get close to her again. What she doesn’t know is how much Rone gave up to protect her. Or how much more he is willing to give up to keep her safe.

As chaos mounts, Sandis must determine whom to trust. After all, the lines between enemy and ally have never been less clear…and corruption lurks in the most unlikely of places.





About Charlie

Interview with Charlie Holmberg
Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie N. Holmberg was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. Her fantasy Paper Magician Series, which includes The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, and The Master Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance. She currently lives with her family in Utah. Visit her at www.charlienholmberg.com.





Twitter @CNHolmberg  ~  Facebook

Interview with RR Haywood


Please welcome RR Haywood to The Qwillery. Extinct, the 3rd novel in the Extracted Trilogy, was published on May 17, 2018 by 47North.



Interview with RR Haywood




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

RR:  Hi! Thank you for having me. Cor, blimey – sounds evil doesn’t it? A plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? They’re like the gang names of societal groups in a dystopian future that roam the skeletal remains of the cities and the vast wastelands. The Plotters plot and scheme and work to the plan. They’re organised and ruthless whereas the Pantsers run free and lawless, going where the day takes them, having cray cray shenanigans and wild parties, and there, in the background skirting the fringes, are the quieter yet still playful Hybrids.

I’m so writing that as a book. Copyrighted! Bugger off other writers. Mine mine mine…
Er, so I guess I do all three, and I can take equal amounts of pleasure from writing within each discipline.

You cannot beat those days when you sit down with a plan and hit a mammoth word count. That sense of accomplishment is not to be underestimated.

Likewise, sitting down to a white blank page and simply going at it with action / reaction and flying by the seat of your pants is just gorgeous, but aye, you are more likely to stall and write yourself into a corner that way.

Mostly I write hybrid. With The Undead (UK’s best-selling zombie series – woohoo! Get the plug in) I set the characters the end goal for the day / scene / plot, but how they do that, and what happens on the way is down to them.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

RR:  I adore writing fast-flowing, rapid-fire dialogue with multiple characters each with their own voice, and I would gladly fill a whole book with that, but damn it, readers want pesky annoying things like plots and protagonists and antagonists and other stuff. I guess self-indulgence is the answer and learning that what I love to write the most may not be the things people like to read the most.



TQDescribe Extinct (The Extracted Trilogy 3) in 140 characters or less.

RR“A book with people in it doing time travel!” No, that’s awful. Hang on, let me try again… “Time travel, dinosaurs, big bombs and big bunkers…” argh, that’s even worse. Gosh, this is hard. “Extinct is the third book in the Extracted series and it’s awesome…”

I give up.



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

RR:  (See above with my awful pseudo tweets)

Hmmm, a significant number of scenes are set against the backdrop of the allied destruction of Germany in 1945 during one specific period that saw over 1000 bombers in the skies in one day. It’s brutally realistic.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Extracted Trilogy? What appeals to you about writing SF and especially Time Travel novels?

RR:  There were a number of influencing factors. The Undead had been submitted to publishers and turned down, but with some very strong feedback that they loved my writing and style, but they did not want to invest in the zombie genre. That got me thinking of what to write next. At that time, I had recently read The Chronicles of St Mary by the wonderful Jodi Taylor which planted the time-travel seed in my mind. I had also always wanted to write my Grandfather as a character – he was in the Royal Navy in WW2. Eventually all of those things, plus a million others, all gave birth to Extracted.

My interest in time-travel was more about the impact such a thing would have and how governments would want to weaponise it.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Extracted Trilogy?

RR:  I researched the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic periods to establish when I wanted certain parts of the story set, and within that I delved into the creatures and fauna and flora known to have existed in those times. There is still so much we do not know about our own distant past, and for a writer that is just fantastic because you can have one foot in reality, and the other in pure poetic make-it-all-up-land.

In all honesty, any scene can require research – anything from Public transport systems within a certain city to what you should do with a broken nose.

With regards to time travel – this is where I can be a little bullish in my attitude. Time travel does not exist. It is entirely fictional; therefore, it is down to the writer on how they want to play with it. I had a few people early on telling me that I had to include pre-destiny as the major plotline. Why? Yeah it might be a factor but there are no rules.



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

RR:  Mad Harry Madden was the easiest. A British Commando from WW2. He was modelled on my own Grandfather. I knew what he looked like and I had his essence straight away. Writing Harry in any scene is just pure pleasure.

Miri is the hardest. That character is so layered it’s untrue, and even now, after three books, I’m still finding hidden motivations within her.



TQWhat are your feelings on concluding The Extracted Trilogy?

RR:  It ain’t over yet! 47North wanted a trilogy and that was delivered as planned. I have however, left myself lots of nice breadcrumbs to pick up and I will definitely go back into that world for more when I can.



TQ What's next?

RR:  Ooh exciting! The Undead is ongoing. We’re twenty-two books into the main series now and still going very strong with more planned.

I’m just finishing a new science-fiction story about a robbery on board a fleet of spaceships. It’s great fun and hopefully that will be going out to publishers very soon.

I’ve also written a new time-travel story which centres on an organisation that recruits and sends people back in time to “fix and tweak” things. That will also be pushed out soon I hope.

After that I have a ton of projects I want to do!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

RR:  Thank you so much for having me. It’s been very kind of you to give me this space to yack on and I hope I haven’t bored you all too much.

Take care
RR Haywood





Extinct
Extracted Trilogy 3
47North, May 17, 2018
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 418 pages

Interview with RR Haywood
The end of the world has been avoided—for now. With Miri and her team of extracted heroes still on the run, Mother, the disgraced former head of the British Secret Service, has other ideas…

While Mother retreats to her bunker to plot her next move, Miri, Ben, Safa and Harry travel far into the future to ensure that they have prevented the apocalypse. But what they find just doesn’t make sense.

London in 2111 is on the brink of annihilation. What’s more, the timelines have been twisted. Folded in on each other. It’s hard to keep track of who is where. Or, more accurately, who is when.





About RR Haywood

RR Haywood is the Amazon #1 and Washington Post best-selling author of the international smash-hit time-travel series - EXTRACTED.

He is also the creator and author of THE UNDEAD. The UK’s best-selling zombie horror series. A self-published phenomenon that has become a cult hit with a readership that defies generations and gender.

He has lots of tattoos and lives in a cave somewhere underground away from the spy satellites and invisible drones sent to watch over us by the BBC. He is a certified, badged and registered hypochondriac and blames the invisible BBC drones for this.

Website  ~  Facebook

Interview with Steve McHugh


Please welcome Steve McHugh to The Qwillery. A Glimmer of Hope, the 1st novel in The Avalon Chronicles, was published on April 1st by 47North.







TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Steve:  I knew I wanted to be an author when I was at school, so about 13 or 14, and my English teacher told me to go get some books from the library that were out of my usual comfort zone. I got Stephen King’s It, Terry Pratchett’s Men At Arms, and David Gemmell’s Legend. That was when I knew I wanted to be an author.

Fast-forward a few years, to when I was about to become a father for the first time at 25, and I knew I needed to start writing seriously. I didn’t want to be that person who said, “One day,” so I started writing. I joined an online writing group, and I learned the craft.

So, it was really a combination of wanting to write, and needing to write, but also the fact that I wanted to be able to say that I at least tried.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Steve:  A hybrid, definitely that. Before I start a book, I sit down with a notepad and some pens and I go over the world-building and character creation. As I’m doing that, I let the story start to build, and I start jotting down bits that I want to have happen during the story.

By the time it comes to actually sit down and write, I’ll know the beginning and end of the story, and the main scenes that I want. The later of which, might not always be in the right order—and they have a tendency to change as needed—but it’s usually a good indication of where everything will finish.

So, when I write, I know what I want in the chapter I’m working on, and the next one after that, although it’s often a massive surprise to me when something happens I wasn’t expecting.
I tried just plotting everything out in detail, and it sucked. I got irritated that it didn’t go the way I’d planned, because characters don’t always do what they’re told. My hybrid way works for me as it allows me to keep the surprise of what happens, but gives me a framework to move around in.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Steve:  Two years ago I went fulltime author. I was on book 5 in the Hellequin Chronicles (I think), and I had 3 years of work lined up, so I took the plunge. Turns out working from home is not the beautiful paradise land that I expected.

My TV is here. As is my PS4, and books, and all the cool stuff I could be playing around with when not writing. Actually forcing myself to sit down and get on with my job is something that isn’t always easy. I love being an author, it’s easily the best job I’ve ever had, but working from home can be an exercise in having to force yourself to get away from distractions.

There’s also the issue of being shut away in my office for days and weeks at a time, especially when I have deadlines, so there’s a constant need to remember to go see people. Now, that’s not so bad because I have a wife and 3 children, who are more than happy to remind me that I don’t need to lock myself away, but it’s still hard work to stay on top of seeing people outside of the house. I’ve gotten better at it, but that work/life balance, took some getting used to.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Steve:  Short answer: everything.

It’s not really the most descriptive answer ever, but it’s pretty close to being accurate. Long answer; my wife, my kids, my friends and family, anime, movies, music, books, comics, videogames… the list really does go on.

More specifically, I’ve always been influenced by Asian cinema. I grew up watching a lot of films from Japan/China/South Korea etc, and as I’ve grown up, that love of the way they make action films and thrillers, is something that has continued. Same with Anime. Both of those things influence my writing, at the very least they influence how I write action scenes, and use magic in stories.

There are scenes from comics I read growing up, that inspired me to write one scene or another, and I’ve played videogames that did something I thought was cool and figured out if I could incorporate something similar.

Inspiration comes from all around me, which is probably why my brain rarely switches off.



TQIn December 2017 the 7th and final book in the Hellequin Chronicles was published. Now you have a new Urban Fantasy series starting with A Glimmer of Hope, the first novel in the Avalon Chronicles. Do these Urban Fantasy series have anything in common?

Steve:  Both series are set in the same world, and both have some of the same characters. The end of the Hellequin Chronicles left the world in a very different place to where it started, and while the first Avalon book takes because before that shift, the second and third take place after. They’re both action-adventure series with magic, monsters, and mayhem, and they were both a ton to write.

As someone who loves Mythology, it’s nice that my world has mythologies from all different regions and periods of history, so I can pick and choose which ones to use for which book. The Hellequin books had a lot of Greek, Arthurian, and Mesopotamian, but the Avalon books have a lot of Norse mythology.

So, while there are quite a few similarities, and the series take place in the same world, Layla is a very different character to Nate, so it’s been nice to write something different, but familiar at the same time.



TQWhat appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

Steve:  Mostly, because it’s fun. That’s why I write anything. If I’m not enjoying the genre, I probably won’t enjoy the story I’m telling.

I like the idea of taking characters from mythology and bringing them into the 21st century, sometimes kicking and screaming all the way, I like looking through myths and trying to figure out exactly what could be considered fact from fiction. For example, I had the idea that most of the stories regarding Zeus changing into animals to have sex with people, were made up by Hera in revenge for him being an absolute arse to her. It’s fun being able to twist the characters that most will have heard of, into something very different. And being able to then take that into a modern setting is a very interesting idea.

Also, urban fantasy lets me have my cake and eat it. I can write about Hades living in Canada one chapter, and then have another realm, which is linked to earth, but is more epic fantasy in nature. The ability to write a fantastical story that incorporates different genres I love is something that makes me happy to work with the Urban Fantasy genre.



TQTell us something about A Glimmer of Hope that is not found in the book description.

Steve:  It has one of my favourite actions scenes I’ve written to date. It starts with a car chase, and ends with a run through the woods while monsters are chasing them. It’s was a huge amount of fun to write, not just because of the action and fighting that take place, but also because it’s the introduction of one of my favourite characters from the Hellequin Chronicles to this book, and the first thing he says is a line from Terminator.

Whenever I write a book, I like to make sure that no matter what it’s about, it has elements to it that make me smile, and that one chapter pretty much made me smile the entire time I was writing it.



TQIn the A Glimmer of Hope who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Steve:  There are a few which were quite easy to write. Most of the cast from the Hellequin Chronicles are easy now, considering I’ve spent so long with most of them. Tommy the werewolf star wars geek, and Remy the… well, Remy, are probably the easiest two as with Tommy I get to let lose my own Star Wars nerd, and with Remy I get to write all the things people probably shouldn’t say out loud, and he just does.

The hardest was probably Layla to begin with. As the main protagonist of the story, I needed to get her right, and make sure that she was interesting to follow. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives, and has some issues she’s avoided for a large part of her life, so it was difficult trying to figure out how a 21 year old woman, who had gone through so much, would react to these massive changes in her life.



TQWhich question about A Glimmer of Hope do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Steve:  That’s a hard question. Probably, who is your favourite character that was created for the A Glimmer of Hope?

That’s a great question, Steve’s brain. Probably Harry. I like Harry a lot. Harry is the son of a Chinese-American general in the US army, and a British doctor mum. He’s in his 20s, and his entire life plan is to stay in further education as long as possible so he doesn’t have to go and get a proper job. He’s one of the few humans in the book that become involved with the story as he’s one of Layla’s best-friends. Harry is just a genuinely nice person who is amazed at everything he discovers about a world he had no idea existed, and it’s interesting to have him just think everything is so cool and not freaking out over having met werewolves, sorcerers, and the like.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Glimmer of Hope.

Steve:  The first one is from Tommy, just after Layla discovers the world she knew isn’t exactly the full story: This world will crush you if you think you’re a monster when you’re not. There are enough actual monsters out there already.

The second is Layla thinking about her job, which in many ways was a cathartic moment for me to write as it mirrors how I felt about a job of mine at the time: “It wasn’t that the job was hard, or that the people were bad; it was just a combination of boredom and a complete and total apathy from those in management. It was as if they didn’t care what happened to the majority of people who worked for them, and it created a “them and us” scenario that made work feel like she was constantly trying to do a good job for no reason whatsoever.”



TQWhat's next?

Steve:  I have a few things that are next for me. The second and third Avalon Chronicles books will be out in July and October respectively (A Flicker of Steel, and A Thunder of War). Seeing how they’re both written and off to my publisher, I’m going to be spending the rest of the year writing the first book in an Epic Fantasy series I’ve been wanting to work on for a few years now, as well as the first book in the series after the Avalon Chronicles. So, I guess I’ll be kept busy for a while yet.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Steve:  Thank you for having me.





A Glimmer of Hope
The Avalon Chronicles 1
47North, April 1, 2018
Hardcover and Kindle eBook, 351 pages

From Steve McHugh, the bestselling author of The Hellequin Chronicles, comes a new urban fantasy series packed with mystery, action, and, above all, magic.

Layla Cassidy has always wanted a normal life, and the chance to put her father’s brutal legacy behind her. And in her final year of university she’s finally found it. Or so she thinks.

But when Layla accidentally activates an ancient scroll, she is bestowed with an incredible, inhuman power. She plunges into a dangerous new world, full of mythical creatures and menace—all while a group of fanatics will stop at nothing to turn her abilities to their cause.

To protect those she loves most, Layla must take control of her new powers…before they destroy her. All is not yet lost—there is a light shining, but Layla must survive long enough to see it.





Upcoming

A Flicker of Steel
The Avalon Chronicle 2
47North, July 3, 2018
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook

Avalon stands revealed, but the war is far from over. For Layla Cassidy, it has only just begun.

Thrust into a new world full of magic and monsters, Layla has finally come to terms with her supernatural powers—and left her old life behind. But her enemies are relentless.

Sixteen months after her life changed forever, Layla and her team are besieged during a rescue attempt gone awry and must fight their way through to freedom. It turns out that Avalon has only grown since their last encounter, adding fresh villains to its horde. Meanwhile, revelations abound as Layla confronts twists and betrayals in her own life, with each new detail adding to the shadow that looms over her.

As Layla fights against the forces of evil, her powers begin to increase—and she discovers more about the darkness that lies in her past. As this same darkness threatens her future, will she be ready to fight for everything she holds dear?





About Steve

Steve McHugh is the bestselling author of the Hellequin Chronicles series and the new The Avalon Chronicles, whose first book A Glimmer of Hope (47North) is out now.










Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @stevejmchugh

Interview with James Maxwell


Please welcome James Maxwell to The Qwillery. Iron Will, the final novel in The Shifting Tides tetralogy, was published on March 13th by 47North.



Interview with James Maxwell




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

James:  I remember quite clearly a piece that I wrote aged eleven. There was a young writer’s retreat I really wanted to go to, but you had to be submit a work of fiction to win a place. I remember my piece so well because of how much effort I put in. I didn’t have any experience with short fiction – I thought stories and novels were the same thing: always long. So I wrote a 40,000 word fantasy novelette with the highly-imaginative title Golden Dragons. It was a sprawling homage to everything I liked about fantasy. I went to the retreat and worked with published authors and hung out with other young writers, which was incredible.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

James:  People who know me would definitely say I’m a plotter. I work with very detailed outlines! But surely no one can truly be a pantser? Even if all you have is a character, a quest, and maybe a title, that’s still planning. I see it as a sliding scale. You can certainly over-plan – there needs to be space to invent things as you go, in the moment of writing. But under-planning can be a problem too. That’s when you end up retroactively planning while editing, which I think is harder.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

James:  Procrastination. Definitely. The modern world puts a lot of demands on our attention and it’s always tough to shut out the world so you can spend time inside your head for a while. When I’m heavily engaged with writing a book I end up playing all sorts of tricks on myself. Turning my phone off; leaving it in another room. Not opening mail. Leaving my wife to answer the door. Getting out of the house and writing in the library. I do think you end up with better work when you stay in the moment as much as possible, and that means not getting distracted.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

James:  Travel, history, film & television, fiction, non-fiction, conversation, dreams, walking around and observing… It all goes in and gets scrambled and then something comes back out. In the end I think you write what you loved as a child, combined with the observations you have made about the world since.



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

James:  There’s a twist that readers of the previous Shifting Tides novel, Copper Chain, may or may not see coming. There’s also an epic sea adventure, a trek through the ice and snow, a search for an ancient artefact, a major evacuation, and a love that’s tested beyond endurance.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Shifting Tides series? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

James:  For a time I was fortunate enough to live on the island of Malta, right in the middle of the Mediterranean. There is so much history there; you walk past incredible things every day. I also love sailing, and the roving nature of Homer’s stories. It all got me thinking about Greek mythology and modern fantasy and wondering if I could combine the two in a new and original way. We’re used to Middle Ages fantasy but it’s incredible how developed the ancient world was. For example, 500 years before Julius Caesar they were building wooden ships that were so big it wasn’t until the period of European colonisation that they got bigger. I'd better stop now; I can talk about this stuff all day! As for why I write fantasy… I think I just love the fact that anything is possible.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Shifting Tides Series?

James:  I did quite a lot of background research into the period. I didn’t want to write historical fiction – not at all – but it’s important that the world be consistent. I read a bunch of books about Alexander the Great and the Greco-Persian wars but the hard part was answering my questions about daily life, so I ended up getting quite specific with the stuff I was reading.
Ideally, though, you want the research to disappear into the background. World building is amazing fun, and after setting some ground rules I like to let my imagination run free.



TQYou've written two tetralogies - The Evermen Saga and The Shifting Tides. Why 4 books for each series?

James:  I think it came down to the kind of story I wanted to tell. Trilogies are fantastic – I’m actually working on one for my next project. But in the case of my previous two series I wanted to have a bit more freedom to roam and play in the worlds I’d created. I always try to give each individual book a conclusive ending, and that’s actually easier with four books than it is for three. There’s a lot to keep track of, however, and you end up with a lot of narrative threads to tie up. That’s why a five book series might be one too many!



TQIn The Shifting Tides series who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Which character surprised you?

James:  The easiest would have to be Kargan, who starts off as the fleet commander on the enemy side and continues to rise through the ranks as the series progresses. He is ambitious, and he is a bully, and he is utterly contemptuous of other cultures. He just rolled right onto the page.

There is another character, Kyphos, who is the right-hand man of a king who has returned to claim his throne. He was a bit more difficult to write because I wanted him to be both ruthless and likeable. It’s his loyalty to his king that made it work, despite some of the terrible things he does.

The character that surprised me was Aristocles, the father of the heroine, Chloe. A politician, he is used to wealth and power, and when he is betrayed and cast out of his city he is thrown into a completely new world. He’s out of his depth, yet he finds a way to keep going.



TQWhat are your feelings on concluding The Shifting Tides series.

James:  It’s always a bit sad to finish a series. I end up feeling very close to my characters and I know I’m saying goodbye to them when I wrap it all up. At the same time, I love getting started on a new project. It’s a really exciting time.



TQWhat's next?

James:  For my next project I’m really letting my imagination soar. I’m blending genres a bit more, and rather than using a setting based on history I’m building something fresh and new. It’s the most threatening world I’ve created yet. There will be three books, and I’m writing them back to back, which will help a lot with immersing myself in the story.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

James:  Thank for having me! And let me take this opportunity to thank all my readers. I hope you’re enjoying the journey as much as I am.





Iron Will
The Shifting Tides 4
47North, March 13, 2018
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 416 pages

Interview with James Maxwell
The epic conclusion to James Maxwell’s gripping fantasy series.

The world is facing a war to end all wars, a confrontation that will destroy everything Dion and Chloe hold dear. With Palemon’s dragon army growing in number, time is running out…

Dion is doing everything in his power to prepare his kingdom, but he knows it will not be enough. Although he needs Chloe’s help, recent tragedy makes him terrified for her safety. Magic is dangerous. Only Palemon is too arrogant to see it.

As chaos engulfs the land and Palemon risks civilization itself, Dion and Chloe must unite people of all nations to have any chance of survival.





Previously

Golden Age
The Shifting Tides 1
47North, May 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 464 pages

Interview with James Maxwell
The first book in an epic fantasy series by James Maxwell, author of the bestselling Evermen Saga.

War is coming to Xanthos. The king refuses to face the truth, but his overlooked second son, Dion, can see the signs: strange warships patrolling, rumors of a new tyrant across the sea, and the princess of a neighboring land taken hostage…

The princess, Chloe, refuses to be a helpless pawn in this clash of nations. She and Dion will need allies to turn the tide of war – and there are none more powerful than the eldren, a mysterious race of shapeshifters who live in the Wilds.

As a world-spanning conflict begins, a king is betrayed, a prophecy is fulfilled, and Dion learns a secret about his past that changes his life forever.




Silver Road
The Shifting Tides 2
47North, November 8, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 492 pages

Interview with James Maxwell
Chloe’s quest to escape the Oracle’s prophecy leads her to a magus with a secret: the eldren are not the only race to use magic in warfare. An ancient power is rediscovered, and a forgotten people will return.

Meanwhile, cursed by his birth, Dion tries to forge a new life at sea, away from both the eldren and his former life in Xanthos, but the one thing he can’t leave behind is his heritage.

Two kings on opposite sides of the ocean prepare for war.

The clash of civilizations has only just begun…




Copper Chain
The Shifting Tides 3
47North, August 3, 2017
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 380 pages

Interview with James Maxwell
When a desperate king threatens Dion and everything he loves, only dangerous magic can keep him safe.

Dion, now king of Xanthos, is finally in command of the naval fleet he’s always dreamed of. But his hopes for peace are jeopardized when King Palemon, in dire need of ships to rescue his starving people from the frozen wastelands of the north, invades the Salesian city of Malakai.

Too weak to confront Dion directly, Palemon turns to magic: mysterious copper chains from the lost civilization of Aleuthea, which have the potential to control dragons…and Dion.

With the people he loves in danger, and his own freedom at risk, Dion’s only hope is Chloe and the power she struggles to tame.





About James

Interview with James Maxwell
James Maxwell is the bestselling author of The Evermen Saga and The Shifting Tides series, and has previously ranked in the top 5 bestselling authors on Amazon worldwide. The final book in The Shifting Tides series, Iron Will, is out now in paperback with 47North, Amazon Publishing. Find out more about James and his books here.



Website  ~  Twitter @james_maxwell  ~  Facebook

Interview with Adam Burch, author of Song of Edmon


Please welcome Adam Burch to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Song of Edmon was published on September 1st by 47North.







TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Adam:  Thanks for inviting me! I suppose there are three answers to this question. I've always enjoyed creative writing from a young age. I remember in fifth grade, my teacher had all of her students write a "book". We made these covers of cardboard and contact paper and drew our own cover art. Then, some of us volunteered to read our stories in front of the class. I remember mine was called "Cops" and it was about two detectives, a young rookie and an old gumshoe, bringing down an evil crime boss. The gumshoe died leaving the young rookie to carry on the never ending search for justice, only now as a veteran as he's given a newbie partner at the end of the tale. I recently reconnected with an old classmate who still remembered me reading the story in front of the class.

Later, I lost this confidence to write fiction as school teachers focused more on analytical, essay writing and I wasn't as good with that. When I did try to write stories, I often felt like they weren't good enough in other's eyes, or were considered cliche. Part of the problem is that I was a teen! All I knew was cliche! People are more willing to tear down other's work than build it up. So I stopped, thinking I just wasn't good enough to write.

As an adult, I moved to Los Angeles after college to be an actor and I joined a writer's group founded by Jim Uhls, who had adapted Chuck Palahniuk's, Fight Club, for the big screen. The group would cast performers to read their material for feedback. Eventually, I worked up the courage to start offering the writers my suggestions on their work. Some of them thought my observations were pretty darn good and I thought to myself "Hey! Maybe I can write too!" Of course, I quickly realized it was a lot easier to discern what wasn't working in others' material versus generating my own. Still, I started to develop a practice of writing regularly, even if terribly.

My friend from the writer's group, Philip Eisner, a really smart guy who wrote the cult classic, sci-fi movie Event Horizon in the 90's, starring Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne, invited me to table-top game with him. I'd never done that before, but learned it was a perfect blend of collaborative storytelling, acting, and socializing. I had a blast creating a character and after our gaming sessions, writing the story from his point of view. However, the group eventually disbanded as people's schedules and real life superseded fun and I was left with all these "diary entries" and nothing to do with them. I missed my friends and I missed writing for them. A friend said, "Why don't you just keep going? I think it would make a good book!" So that's how Song of Edmon, and its upcoming sequel, Roar of the Storm was born!



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Adam:  Okay, I'm going to admit that I didn't know what a "pantser" was, and had to look it up on urbandictionary.com. I guess that tells you which one I am!

My feeling is that writing by the seat of one's pants is fun and perhaps useful to create a daily practice of just putting words on the page, but it's not professional. Once I am done "pantsing" for the day (usually through a daily journal ala Morning Pages), I set that aside and I plot. Stories need to have structure for maximum effect and I personally need to know where the finish line is before I start the race. Once everything is outlined fairly extensively, I go for it.

I want to make it clear that this doesn't mean that I do not leave myself open to changes and discovery in the process. If something hits me while brain transmits to fingers which in turn transmit to keys, I don't tune out the muse, as it were. I heed the call, but I always make sure that it fits within the structure I've given myself, or I go back and restructure the outline to make it fit.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Adam:  It's hard to put my finger on just one thing. There always several challenging aspects to the process. The first is my own fears and doubts about whether I am worthy enough to tell a story, whether my ideas are worthy enough to be told. However, I set those aside and tell myself, "All I have to do today is a little bit, and it doesn't have to be perfect." I do that everyday and after a while...

Once I finish a draft, it's knowing that the first pass is always going to be crappy, that my ideas and writing actually AREN'T good enough. They need to evolve to be better. So then it's going through everything again as many times as I can stomach, section by section, always asking myself if I've made the strongest choices, in the fewest words possible.

One thing I am good at, though, is trusting my beta readers and editors. When they tell me something isn't working, I believe them. I was lucky to have a lot of allies that took the time to do that with Song of Edmon (and probably still have a few readers who might say it upon finishing the published book). I "kill my darlings" easily and honor my faithful publishers and editors and Beta readers' suggestions to make the story better. Still, it always stings a bit to hear that they didn't like something.

My first experience reading reviews is a little like that, too, even though the majority are positive. Yet, I know that the sequel to Song of Edmon, Roar of the Storm, takes things in such a direction that it addresses many of the negative reviewers' feelings! Just stick with me, folks!



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Adam:  We're all a product of our influences right? The first movie I saw in the theater was Return of the Jedi. Ever since, I've been a huge Star Wars nerd. Even the prequels! Blasphemy, I know, but I think the prequels' failings inspired me to write my own stories just as much, if not more than the classic trilogy because I wanted to accomplish what they sort of failed to. I read all the expanded universe books and comics before Disney bought the franchise.

Star Wars definitely turned me on to the work of Joseph Campbell and the mono-myth. A great book is The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler, which breaks down that structure for writers. Robert McKee's, Story, is a good resource for screenwriting as is The Coffee Break Screenwriter which has great exercises to just do a little bit at a time.

Otherwise, there is so much great Sci-Fi/fantasy out there, old and new, it's impossible to list everything. Tolkein, Ursula K. LeGuin, HG Wells, Isaac Asimov's Foundation. Dragonlance was big when I was an adolescent. Dune by Frank Herbert is one of my all time fave's and Kevin J. Anderson who writes the sequels and spin-offs with Brian Herbert was always super supportive in his e-mails to me. Dan Simmons, Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman, Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, George RR Martin... the grittiness and reality of his series was a revelation. Each of his characters feels like a complete person with a fully fleshed out history and personality. Pierce Brown's Red Rising series is killer and he sent me a supportive e-mail before I even had an agent. I've also always been a huge Greek Mythology buff, too, and Madeline Miller's, Song of Achilles, was inspirational (you can see that just looking at my title)! I highly recommend it to anyone.

Mostly, though, the team I gamed with was the biggest inspiration- Phil Eisner (Event Horizon), Samantha Barrios, Jack Conway, Matt Bramante (who worked on Bladerunner 2049), Abby Wilde (of Zoey101 fame), and Matthew Mercer (of Critical Role). I was really writing to entertain them and just their intelligence and humor and creativity inspired me to no end.



TQDescribe Song of Edmon in 140 characters or less.

Adam:  A boy chooses between violence and peace on a distant planet divided between light and dark. The outcome determines the fate of the world.



TQTell us something about Song of Edmon that is not found in the book description.

Adam:  Well I've already mentioned how the inception of Song of Edmon was a D&D game. However, I can also tell you that Song of Edmon is merely the backstory of the character I rolled! In fact, the "real" adventure doesn't even begin until book 2, Roar of the Storm, out in January.

Part of this was due to the fact that I felt it would have been disingenuous of me to take the story that my entire group told as a team and "cash in" on it, so to speak. (Let's forget the fact that I'd never written a novel before, didn't have an agent or a publisher and the likelihood of me even getting either of these was slim). I felt like I needed to earn their endorsement to write the story. If I could turn Edmon into a book that people wanted to read, then I would have gained their trust to continue the adventure.

So, I told Edmon's history, using only what I had created to craft my tale. This led to some pretty fancy maneuverings to set up minor details that will come back in book 2, which initially had nothing to do with Edmon's personal journey. Additionally, I had to tailor Book 2 to tie up story elements that were never addressed in our game. There are also a few things my team suggested that I steer clear of because they have their own, possible future stories in mind!

Also, I narrate the audio book and it was a great way for me to combine my acting and writing.



TQWhat inspired you to write Song of Edmon? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Adam:  Since I've answered the first question in detail, I'll tackle the second. Science Fiction is a place I can imagine fully "What if?" There really are no limitations, besides what my brain can think up. Additionally, it is just a great forum to working out problems, be they personal, or societal, under the guise of a fantastical background.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Song of Edmon?

Adam:  The great thing about speculative fiction is that, again, one isn't really constrained by reality, so long as the rules of the created world are well established and not consistently violated. The "research" is about establishing and refining the rules from gravity, to technology, to space travel, to the names of things, and the fictional history. Then, maintaining the consistency in the writing with what has been established during my world-building/plotting phase.

I do think the best science fiction has one foot in the real world and real world physics, though. So some of the research included looking up things like drones that hovered on sound. I wanted to make the technology and culture of Tao, Edmon's home planet, of a piece. In Song of Edmon, everything is centered around music, sound, and water. I was lucky enough to discover such technology had basis in reality and felt that gave justification for creating a society that was centered around it.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Song of Edmon.

Adam:  The cover was done by Adam Hall @atomcreative, an artist my publisher 47North, found. It's not so much something specific from the novel as much as a feeling or tone the novel gives. The story takes place in the distant future on a far-flung planet within the network of wormholes collectively called The Fracture. The Nightsiders of Tao, whom are at the center of the novel, are a warlike society that hearken back to cultures of antiquity- The Samurai, the Vikings, the Spartans.

I think Adam's cover really knocks it out of the park conveying the melding of ancient warriors with tech in space.



TQIn Song of Edmon who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Adam:  This is an interesting question, and I'm not sure there is a clear-cut answer. The novel is written in first person and while Edmon is a fabrication, he is by nature a lens through which my own thoughts and feelings are focused. I kind of had to go back to my own adolescence and remember how I felt about certain things growing up, different relationships I had. Granted, none of them are as extreme or necessarily as traumatic as Edmon's are, but the feelings Edmon has are not dissimilar from my own. Additionally, a lot of authors write protagonists, who are so clearly extensions of themselves or their ideal. Ultimately they come out on top or do the right thing most of the time. One aspect I remember from my youth was that it always felt like I did things wrong. While Edmon gets to be evolves into a bad-ass, he's not a Gary Stu. He makes a lot of dumb decisions and he pays for them. Of course, I'll remind readers who are frustrated by this to remember their own adolescence and that there has to be failure before there can be success. Hopefully, the subsequent triumph is so much the sweeter because it is earned by the suffering.

Other than that, I will say Faria was a bit challenging because I was constantly questioning whether or not his philosophies were consistent and made sense. I think, often, one comes into contact with these mentor figures in heroic stories who give the protagonist fortune cookie wisdom. When one stops to think about their cliche sayings, often they don't really make a whole lot of sense. Part of my solution to this problem was recognizing that Faria is not a perfect master, in fact a lot of the wisdom he dispenses is the opposite of truth. It's part of the reason why Edmon emerges from his training with his master definitely stronger, but also a bit flawed, a bit twisted. In a way, it's my take on a Sith Lord training someone rather than a Jedi Master.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Song of Edmon?

Adam:  Honestly I hate when stories are solely pedagogical. If the characters are merely stereotypes or there only to service the author's ideology, then it is a boring and worthless story in my opinion. So, yes there were some social issues I wanted to include within the story, but first and foremost, Song of Edmon couldn't be about that for me. It had to be about character. It had to be about Edmon, his emotional journey, and the emotional journey the reader takes with him. The social issues are part of the world that he lives in, just as they are part of the world you and I live in. I doubt you or I walk around everyday seeing ourselves as a mouthpiece for one particular social issue or another. I feel like I am fully three-dimensional, integrated human being, and my beliefs and caring about social issues are just aspects of me. Edmon had to be that too- a fully realized human being, as did the other characters in the book.



TQWhich question about Song of Edmon do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Adam:  "Do you think we could turn Song of Edmon and the Fracture World Series into a best selling film or television series? What about into a graphic novel with beautiful artwork?"

My answer to those questions are a resounding YES!!!!



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

Adam:

“You expect to shut that feeling away?” he asks. “No, I ask that you feel it more. There’s no other way to stand over your enemy and cut out his heart. Accept your hatred and you won’t be rash or stupid, you’ll be cold. Don’t quiet the maelstrom. Become the storm.” - Faria, Song of Edmon



TQWhat's next?

Adam:  As far as Edmon and the Fracture World Series, book 2, Roar of the Storm comes out in January. If people like it, I definitely have a third book in mind! But we'll have to wait and see!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Adam:  Thank you! These were great questions and a lot of fun to answer!





Song of Edmon
The Fracture Worlds 1
47North, September 1, 2017
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 444 pages

In Adam Burch’s thrilling series debut, a young man must choose between violence and peace in a distant world divided between those who thrive in endless sunlight and those who survive in eternal darkness.

The isolated planet of Tao is a house divided: the peaceful Daysiders live in harmony while the pale Nightsiders pursue power and racial purity through the violent ritual of the Combat.

Edmon Leontes, the gentle son of a ruthless warrior noble and a proud Daysider, embodies Tao’s split nature. The product of diametrically opposed races, Edmon hopes to live a quiet life pursuing the music of his mother’s people, but his Nightsider father cruelly forces him to continue in his bloody footsteps to ensure his legacy.

Edmon’s defiance will cost him everything…and spark a revolution that will shake the foundations of Tao. His choice—to embrace the light or surrender to the darkness—will shape his own fate and that of his divided world.





Upcoming

Roar of the Storm
The Fracture Worlds 2
47North, January 23, 2018
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 412 pages

When he rebelled against his father, Edmon Leontes lost everything, but a lot has happened in the twelve years since he left his remote home planet of Tao. He has made a new life for himself as the medic aboard a starship, earning his keep traversing the galaxy with a misfit crew. Edmon thinks he has left his tumultuous past behind him, yet all that changes when his father dies.

Phaestion, the man he once called brother, has inherited Edmon’s birthright. But Phaestion’s ambitions of domination are not limited to Tao, and he is not inclined to let a rival—even one in exile—continue living. Phaestion’s pursuit of power spans the universe, running afoul of powers no one is fit to be meddling with. Edmon will need to confront his past as he and his crew race across worlds to uncover the origins of the Fracture…and save the universe from complete destruction.





About Adam

Born in the SF Bay Area in California, Adam graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a BA in Media/Communications and a minor in Theatre Arts. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and worked in many small "hole in the wall" theaters playing everything from Shakespeare and Moliere to Pirandello and Tom Stoppard.

He also holds a black sash in the martial art of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

He came to Song of Edmon through a meeting with screenwriter Philip Eisner (Event Horizon), who asked him if had ever played D&D. Subsequently, the character of Edmon Leontes was born.

You may catch Adam on the random episode of ABC'S Scandal or in the cult classic Nazis at the Center of the Earth

Website  ~  Twitter @adam_mouthsoff  ~  Facebook

Interview with Sarah Fine


Please welcome Sarah Fine to The Qwillery. Reliquary, the first novel in the Reliquary Series, was published on June 14th by 47North.



Interview with Sarah Fine




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. You've written over a dozen published novels. Has your writing process changed (or not) over the years? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sarah:  I'm more aware of story structure than I was when I started to write, so now, as I consider a story, I think about the inciting incident, the midpoint, the break into the third act, etc. I think it helps with pacing and focus. In terms of challenge, I'm learning to write messier first drafts. I used to edit extensively as I wrote, but nowadays I need to be a bit more efficient, which means more willingness to go forward with the plan to go back later instead of obsessively needing to fix everything as I go along.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sarah:  I plot. I always need to know where I'm going. That said, I think it's necessary to be flexible. Often I find a better route that I couldn't have possibly seen at the beginning of the journey.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sarah:  I find that I'm often moved to write or ponder a theme for a story after reading excellent nonfiction. For example, I'm writing a novel right now that's inspired in part by In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.



TQDescribe Reliquary in 140 characters or less.

Sarah:  To save her fiancé Ben, Mattie journeys into an underworld of addictive magic & forms a tense partnership with Asa, Ben’s estranged brother.



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

Sarah:  This book is seriously fun, but it goes to unexpectedly dark places in terms of the romantic, sexual, and psychological aspects. Also, Asa is a strict raw vegan who carries magic floss in his pocket.



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

Sarah:  Reliquary is a story that I wrote at a time in my life where I was making some really tough decisions and in desperate need of true escape, and the story was definitely the playground I needed. In general, UF provides the opportunity to dwell in a real, contemporary world but to preserve a sense of magic and possibility that too often dies in adulthood. It's like grown-up fairytales, basically, which is why I love it.



TQDo Reliquary and the Servant of Fates series (Marked, Claimed, and Fated) share anything thematically?

Sarah:  I guess I could dig around and try to come up with something, but to me, the only thing they have in common are that they were extremely fun to write. The worlds are seedy and colorful and wild, full of possibilities and rabbit holes.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Reliquary?

Sarah:  Probably the most research I did was for a certain scene that's set in Bangkok that might catch some readers by surprise, but to me made complete psychological and narrative sense. I did a lot of Internet research but also consulted with a specialist colleague of mine to get the details right. I don't want to say more than that for fear of spoiling it.



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

Sarah:  Asa is a challenge because I usually write "good guy" male protagonists who are tough but not jerks. Asa IS kind of a jerk at times, though with good reason, and I had to keep reminding myself of who he was and what he goes through on a daily basis to remain true to his character.

Gracie was the easiest. Probably because she is a dog.



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

Sarah:

Q: Everyone hates love triangles. Why is there one in this book????

A: I know it seems like there is a love triangle, but to my mind, that is just not the focus of the relationships in Reliquary. This series is about Mattie going through a process of becoming what she was always meant to be, and that means she has to decide whether she's willing to let go of the familiar and safe in favor of entering the big, dangerous world. That's not easy for her, and the relationships she has with Ben and Asa are emblematic of that struggle, but not always about the men themselves. And this isn't a romance novel, even though it has romantic elements. I won't promise that she ends up with either one of them!



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

Sarah:  "Hope, Mattie," Asa said. "You’re an addict. And I know a thing or two about addicts. You’re gonna chase that high all the way to the end.”



TQWhat's next?

Sarah:  Next comes Splinter, the sequel to Reliquary, which was possibly the most fun I've ever had writing a book.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Reliquary
Reliquary Series 1
47North, June 14, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 288 pages

Interview with Sarah Fine
Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.



An excerpt from Reliquary


         The night before everything fell apart was the best of my life—the last purely happy, uncomplicated hours I would ever have. Looking back, I’m amazed by how lies can soothe the soul, quell every fear, blind you to reality in the most pleasant of ways. Not forever, of course. And only if you really want to buy into the illusion. But back then, I did. Even as the truth sharpened its knives and hunted me down, I refused to see it.
         I was too worried about whether I’d made enough deviled eggs.

“We really could have had this catered,” Mom said, stopping to rub my back as I balanced each egg half on the platter and then sprinkled them all with paprika.
           I blew a lock of curly hair off my forehead. Outside I could hear laughter and the faint caress of Lake Michigan against the shore. “How many people are out there?” I asked, ignoring her comment. “Should I do another dozen?” It’s my engagement party and I want to feed people, I had said. Just appetizers and beer. I’ll be done with plenty of time to spare.
           Ugh. My mother was right. Again.
           Her soft hands closed over my wrists. “We’ll have plenty. But Mattie, you need to be on the deck with Ben, not stuck in the kitchen. Your guests want to congratulate you—that’s the whole point of the party! Let me finish this up.” She held up my hands and glanced at my fingernails, short but coated with a bright-orange polish that set off my mustard-yellow dress and strawberry blond hair. “You’ll ruin these if you keep this up.” Smiling, she grabbed a dishrag and wiped a smear of mayonnaise off my ring finger, and the diamond that now lived there sparkled in the light. “Look—you’ve already done all the prep on the perperoncini wraps and the bruschetta. I’ve got this covered. Go.”
           I glanced out to where my fiancé (fiancé!) was standing, a bottle of beer in one hand, flashing that smile that could melt glaciers. His hair ruffled in the breeze off the lake, the sun glinting off golden strands. I bit my lip and stared. Seriously—how had I gotten so lucky? “You sure, Mom? I feel terrible leaving you with all this work.”
           She chuckled and shook her head. “Honey, that’s my job.”
           My mind skipped through memories of all the times she’d rescued me from my own ambitious schemes. Like when I’d taken on decorations for the senior prom (DIY string chandeliers are harder than they look, damn you, Internet!), or the time I’d decided that I totally had time to make three hundred cupcakes for my sorority’s homecoming party despite the fact that I had to cheer in the actual homecoming game. “I guess I’m the queen of biting off more than I can chew.” I sighed. “Sorry.”
           She pulled me into a hug, brushing my unruly hair off my face. “It’s just one of your many charming qualities.” She inclined her head toward Ben, and when I turned, he was watching the two of us, his honey-brown eyes full of affection and invitation. “And clearly Ben thinks so, too.”
           “Remind him of that after he takes a look at the supply closet at the clinic, okay?” I nodded as he beckoned me to come outside. “I might have tried to install a new shelving system while he was fishing with Dad yesterday.” Ben had told me that it was my practice, too, even though he was the vet and I was just the lab tech and assistant. I’d wanted to show him I could pull my weight. And I could…but unfortunately, the new shelving system could not.
           I explained the catastrophe that had once been Ben’s tidy closet. Mom just said, “We can get Dad over there to take a look at it tomorrow morning. He gets a kick out of fixing other people’s messes.” One of the reasons my dad was the most popular real estate agent in Sheboygan was that he actually seemed to enjoy patching holes and installing crown molding, and it certainly helped with sales.
           “You guys are the best parents. I don’t deserve you.”
           Mom handed me the egg platter. “Pay me back by making sure Grandpa’s having a decent time, okay?”
           “You got it.” I grinned. “I’m a ray of sunshine. I even dressed the part.” I kissed her cheek and scooted through the open sliding door to the deck, where I set the platter on a table already crowded with food.
           A warm hand closed over my arm. “Finally,” Ben said, his voice full of gentle teasing.
           I leaned my head back and let him kiss me, savoring the taste of taste of beer on his lips. “Mm. I think I read somewhere that anticipation is a fine aphrodisiac.”
           He laughed, and it accentuated the adorable dimple in his right cheek. “Is that what this is? I thought maybe you were avoiding me because of the supply closet.”
           “You weren’t scheduled to go in until tomorrow!”
           His arm slid around my waist, and he pulled me against his muscular body. “I had to go pick up some eyedrops for Barley.” His aging golden retriever was falling apart at the seams, but Ben was determined to give him a good life for as long as possible. “And it’s okay, really. It’ll be easy to fix.”
           I buried my face against his shoulder. “You are amazing.”
           He tipped my chin up. “And I’m marrying an amazing woman. Come on. Your friend Chelsea’s just gotten here, and I know you haven’t see her in a while. Also, a couple of your aunts and uncles have already asked me when you’ll appear. We need to greet your guests.”
           Your guests.
           I laced my fingers with Ben’s and looked out over my parents’ sprawling backyard, crowded with my extended family and everyone from my mother’s book club to my preschool gymnastics coach. Chelsea, my best friend from college, lifted her glass and grinned from her spot at the makeshift bar next to the pool.
           “They’re not all mine,” I said quietly. Feeling lame, I waved toward Franz, one of a handful of Ben’s patients (or, rather, the family members of Ben’s patients) I had invited to beef up his part of the guest list.
           Ben laughed as Franz waved back enthusiastically, looking a little lost and desperate as he stood among a group of my parents’ church friends. “I’m really flattered he decided to come,” Ben said. “He’s much more comfortable surrounded by books and wine.” A professor of anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, Franz had invited us over to his home a time or two, where I spent the evening playing with his dachshund, Lemmie, and Ben and Franz huddled in his library discussing lofty topics they claimed were too boring for me to sit through.
           “I’m glad he came, too.” I bit my lip. “But he’s not your family. We could have invited Asa, you know.”
           Ben’s grip turned to iron. “You can’t be serious.”
           “Come on, Ben. He’s your brother.”
           “Listen, even if we could find him, and even if he were sober enough to show up, trust me—you don’t want my brother here.” His jaw clenched over the tremble in his voice. “And I don’t, either. He’s a criminal. A lowlife. He’s—”
           “Ben, he’s the only family you’ve got left.” My heart ached for him. His mother had taken off when Ben was only a toddler, and he and Asa had been raised by their father, who had died a few years back. “Weddings bring people together!”
           “But with some people, that’s more of a curse than a blessing.”
           “You don’t think he’d be happy for you?”
           “Mattie, the last time we saw each other, he threatened to kill me.”
           “What?” My eyes went wide. “You never mentioned that before!”
           He bowed his head and shrugged. “It was a long time ago, and I don’t like to talk about it. But Asa’s just…he’s messed up. He’s got rage inside of him. And he’s always been jealous of me. Do you think it would help if he got a good long look at all of this?”
           I leaned my head on his shoulder. “I just wish you two could find your way back to each other. Family is important.”
           “I’m building a new family, Mattie. And there’s no one I’d rather do it with.” He shoved his left hand in his pocket, and I knew his fingers were running over his lucky agate. Just one of the odd, endearing habits that had made me fall deeper in love with him. I watched his face as he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. And when he opened them, he smiled down at me. His hand rose from his pocket to stroke my cheek. “You are so beautiful,” he murmured.
           I shivered with sudden pleasure. His touch was like a drug to me, and I was the happiest of addicts. As his fingertips trailed down my throat, my entire body tingled, and my hands balled in the fabric of his shirt, barely keeping me from sliding my palms up under it to feel his bare skin. “Do you think anyone would notice if we disappeared for a few minutes?”
           My old bedroom was a few steps away, and I was already envisioning myself on the bed. His grip on my hips would be bruising and delicious. My body was already slick and soft and hot. It felt like I was one deft touch away from having an orgasm, right there on the deck. Ben’s hand spread across my back, steadying me, and he glanced down at my flushed cheeks with an appreciative grin. “What were you saying about anticipation?”
           “Screw it. Or, wait, screw me. That would be even better.”
           “If someone doesn’t bring me a damn plate of food, I’m going to starve!” said a gravelly voice to my left.
           Ben released me instantly and clasped his hands behind his back, like a little boy caught stealing. My reaction wasn’t much better—I slapped my hands over my warm cheeks and turned toward the source of the complaint. “Grandpa! I-I was just coming to find you.”
           Grandpa looked up at me from his wheelchair. Dad had parked him in the corner of the deck so that he could look out over the lawn. His wide-brimmed straw hat shaded his watery, red-rimmed eyes, and his gnarled hands were clawed over the armrests. “Yes, that much was obvious.”
Great. Grandpa had probably heard every word of my scheme to sneak in a quickie with my boyfriend (fiancé!). I blushed from my forehead to my toes. Could I just control myself for once in my life? “What would you like, Grandpa? Summer roll? Deviled eggs?”
           “Surprise me.”
           Grabbing a plate and a napkin, I listened to Ben doing his best to make nice—and to Grandpa having none of it. I scooped up a few appetizers from each platter and turned just in time to see Ben reaching out to shake Grandpa’s hand. When my grandfather didn’t let go of the armrests, Ben saved face by giving Grandpa’s hand a friendly pat.
           Grandpa jerked away like he’d been burned, first glaring at the back of his liver-spotted hand and then up at Ben. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he snapped.
           Ben blinked down at his fingers, the shock on his face similar to my own. “I’m…sorry?”
           “You should be,” Grandpa growled. “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to, boy.”
           “Try the eggs!” I said, rushing forward with the plate and nearly tripping in my strappy sandals. Stepping between my gaping fiancé and the tight-lipped old man who for some inexplicable reason had chosen the occasion of my engagement party to lose his mind, I put the plate in Grandpa’s lap because hey, snacks can fix nearly anything. (Despite everything that’s happened, I still believe that.)
           “Mattie, I think I’m going to…um…I’m going to go make sure Franz is having a good time,” Ben said.
           I threw him and apologetic look over my shoulder. “I’ll be there in a few.”
           Grandpa didn’t touch the food. His hands were shaking as I knelt next to him, my sunny skirt fanning around me. “Grandpa,” I said gently. “Are you okay?”
           “Don’t take that tone with me,” he said, though his voice had lost its edge. “My hospice nurse uses the same damn voice when I dare to express an opinion about anything other than whether I would or would not care for raisins in my oatmeal.” His tremulous fingers clutched at mine, and he sighed. “Never get old, Mattie.”
           “I won’t.” My chest squeezed with regret. Just a few weeks ago, the doctors had announced he only had months to live. He looked okay—apart from the rattling cough that kept him up nights and fatigue and pain meds that made him groggy during too many of his waking hours—but lung cancer was taking him down. After the doctors’ verdict, my parents had shipped him all the way to Wisconsin from his home in Arizona so they could take care of him until the end. They’d said it was the best thing for him, and to my surprise he hadn’t objected. But he didn’t seem happy about it—especially because everyone was tiptoeing around him like he was going to keel over any second. I tried to take a different approach. “Hey. In exchange for not using the you’re-a-crazy-old-man voice, I want to know what just happened with Ben.”
           He grunted. “It was nothing.”
           “Nothing? You refused to shake my fiancé’s hand! I mean, if you overheard us just now, that was as much my fault as—”
           “Mattie, how much do you know about him, really?”
           “We’ve been together for three years!”
           “That doesn’t mean you know his secrets.”
           I frowned. “How about you tell me what you’re getting at?”
           Grandpa rubbed at his chest as he looked over at the lawn, where Ben was mingling like a pro. “Ask him.
           Frustration began to creep in. Seriously, he had to pick this night to get all protective of my virtue? They’d spoken for two minutes. What could have gone that wrong that fast? “Grandpa, what did he say to you that has you this upset?”
           “Find out everything you can about him. You owe it to yourself.” He turned back to me, his chin trembling. “You and I haven’t spoken much since your grandma died.”
           I looked away, ashamed. “I’m sorry. I should have written more.” Or called. Or visited.
           “Come have lunch with me tomorrow?”
           “I have to work.”
           “Tuesday, then.”
           “Okay.” I’d have to arrange with Jan, our practice manager, to cover the waiting room during what was usually her lunch break, but that wasn’t anything a box of Girl Scout cookies couldn’t fix.
           “Mattie?” Ben called from the lawn. “The girl cousins are here.” His tone said, Help.
           My aunt Rena’s four teenage daughters were a handful. I stood up and smoothed my skirt. “I’d better get down there before they stick one of their iPhones in Dad’s speaker dock and turn this into a rave.”
           Grandpa squinted at me. “Are you speaking English?”
           “Never mind.” I rubbed his shoulder. “Enjoy those eggs.”
           I floated over to Ben, the incident already behind me. This was my engagement party, and I was marrying the love of my life. Nothing—and especially not my cranky old grandpa—was going to ruin it.

Re-printed with permission from 47North, copyright © 2016 by Sarah Fine





About Sarah

Sarah Fine is a clinical psychologist and the author of the Servants of Fate and Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast.

Website  ~  Twitter @finesarah  ~  Facebook

Interview with K. Eason, author of Enemy


Please welcome K. Eason to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Enemy was published on June 1st by 47North.



Interview with K. Eason, author of Enemy




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

K.E.:  I started writing as a little kid. I remember winning a short story contest in something like 4th grade...something about a horse. I refused to read it at the ceremony because I was too freaked out. The person who did read it mispronounced "foal."

As to why I started... because I had stories I wanted to tell. I was making up sagas for the stuffed animals long before I figured out I could write it all down.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

K.E.:  I'm a hybrid. I get an idea for a character, or characters, and then pants (this is a verb? I name it so) my way through figuring out what they're all doing together. THEN I start plotting, usually a scene at a time. Whenever I attempt to try it the other way--plot to character--it all goes pear-shaped and leads to notes and tears and starting over.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? How does teaching impact (or not) your writing?

K.E.:  In general, finding the mental energy to do it. Teaching takes up a lot of the same creative/energetic space as world-building. If I've just spent 6 hours with students and their writing, I usually don't have anything left for the characters and the world. As for the writing itself, the most challenging thing is the plotting. I get caught up between meta-thinking--themes, the big picture--and what's happening on the ground with the characters. It's a balancing act.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

K.E.:  Everything that I read, watch, experience--it's all fair game. My writing style was influenced by stuff I read as a kid:...Gibson's Neuromancer, CJ Cherryh's Cyteen. Of course Tolkien, more The Hobbit than LOTR (I found The Hobbit when I was much younger). The Last Unicorn. Music, sometimes; for Enemy, it's the Amorphis album Silent Waters. Playing and running role-playing games actually taught me the most about the craft of telling stories. Staying a step ahead of smart players is the best way I know to build a consistent world and head off plot holes.



TQDescribe Enemy in 140 characters or less.

K.E.:  Half-blood assassin meets outlaw with an axe meets honorable soldier; before they kill each other, a vengeful god shows up. Also, ghosts.



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

K.E.:  There are no horses anywhere. They're all gone.



TQWhat inspired you to write Enemy? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

K.E.:  Enemy came when I was thinking about outsiders, and how sometimes we're on the outside by choice (or we tell ourselves we are), and sometimes we're there because of things beyond our control. It was also the only way I could think of to get Romans and Vikings into the same story.

I like writing fantasy because magic. Also, dragons. But okay, more seriously...because fantasy (and SF) provide a way to look at "real-world" issues (which I think are really people issues) in a different framework. Sometimes it's easier to see the problems against an unfamiliar backdrop. And I like seeing how those same issues play out against different contexts. What changes, what doesn't.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Enemy?

K.E.:  I didn't set out to do deliberate research, since Enemy isn't a historical fantasy, but I drew inspiration for the world-build from various historical and primary texts I've read over the years. So, in no particular order... The Kalevala and Juha Pentikainen and Anna-Leena Siikala's works on circumpolar shamanism; Du Bois, H.R. Ellis-Davidson, and Simek on Viking religion/culture; the Icelandic sagas, the Poetic and Prose Eddas, the Viking Romances (seriously they are a thing), Beowulf; Roman history/culture I pulled from college Latin classes (Sallust, Cicero, Tacitus, Caesar's De Bello Gallico) and from Adkins & Akins and Shelton; Colleen McCollough's Masters of Rome series gave me a feel for what it might've been like to be Roman.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

K.E.:  The easiest was probably Snow, because I know her the best; she's been in my head a very long time. The hardest was probably Kenjak, because, well. Spoilers. And also because he's young and idealistic and hasn't ever questioned the way his world works. I have a harder time connecting with that.



TQHow is Snowdenaelikk pronounced?

K.E.:  Snow(tiny pause) den EYE likk.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Enemy?

K.E.:  I don't know how not to include social issues. If you're trying for a complete world-build, one that's believable, then you have to consider the seams of that society: who's got privilege, who doesn't, why, etc. Characters are people, people come from cultures/societies, and all societies have imbalances and prejudices. Class, gender, ethnicity, education, religion. It's all in there. The dragons, the magic--that's part of it, but there has to be a functioning culture(s) underneath or it doesn't matter.



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

K.E.:  Hey, where'd the names Alviri and Dvergiri come from? Why, I am so glad you asked! Alvir and Dvergir are adapted from the Old Norse (ljus)alfar and dvergar (which are sometimes equated with svartalfar, because both are subterranean)--elves and dwarves (and black elves, oh my). I didn't want to have separate races, though; in the world of Enemy, Alviri, Dvergiri, and Taliri are all the same species; they just have genetic and cultural variation, like humans.

Sub question: Wait. Like humans? So no one's actually human? Sub answer: nope.



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

K.E.:

"No. You're honest. And you're a good man."
Another frown, and this one stuck. "I am a fool. And now I am an outlaw."
"Same thing, yeah?"



TQWhat's next?

K.E.:  I'm actively drafting an SF novel at the moment, and I have two other manuscripts in revision, including the third and final installment of On the Bones of Gods.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

K.E.:  Thank you!





Enemy
On the Bones of Gods 1
47North, June 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 347 pages

Interview with K. Eason, author of Enemy
The Illhari Republic rests on the bones of gods, telling tales of conquest and forgetting its once-bloody devotion to its most powerful goddess. Snowdenaelikk, half-blood conjuror and smuggler, cares less about history than the silver she can win with sharp metal and sharper wits. But when the local legion blames her for burning a village, an outlander with a sense of honor intervenes, and Snow finds herself tangled in politics and an unwelcome partnership.

Snow and her new partner, Veiko, together with the legion scout Dekklis, uncover a conspiracy that will destroy the Republic from within. It seems that the goddess is back from wherever dead gods go. She has not forgotten the Republic, and she wants revenge.

Loyal Dekklis will do anything to save the Republic, and Snow reluctantly agrees to help—until she realizes that “anything” means sacrificing Veiko. Now Snow must decide whether her partner’s life is worth betraying her allies and damning the Republic to war.





About K. Eason

Interview with K. Eason, author of Enemy
K. Eason started telling tales in her early childhood. After earning two degrees in English literature, she decided to stop writing about everyone else’s stories and get back to writing her own. Now she teaches first-year college students about the zombie apocalypse, Aristotelian ethics, and Beowulf (not all at once). She lives in Southern California with her husband and two black cats, and she powers everything with coffee.





Website  ~  Twitter @svartjagr






Upcoming

Outlaw
On the Bones of Gods 2
47North, July 12, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 320 pages

Interview with K. Eason, author of Enemy
Snowdenaelikk never planned to return to the city of Illharek, but that was before the siege in Cardik, before the violent and once-forgotten goddess Tal’Shik came looking for revenge at the head of a Taliri army.

The only people who can save the Republic are Snow, her partner Veiko, and the highborn scout Dekklis. Together they mean to muster the power of the Senate and leverage the arcane knowledge of the Academy’s Archives.

Once in the city, however, they discover the situation is already dire. A rash of disappearances among highborn men and the resurgence of old heresies suggest that Tal’Shik’s godsworn have already infiltrated the city.

When Veiko is added to the ranks of the missing, Snow is done waiting. She brokers a deal with a rival god to get the power she needs to stop Tal’Shik. But Snow has never been good at making bargains, and this deal is going to cost her…

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Enemy by K. Eason


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Enemy by K. Eason


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


K. Eason

Enemy
On the Bones of Gods 1
47North, June 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 347 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Enemy by K. Eason
The Illhari Republic rests on the bones of gods, telling tales of conquest and forgetting its once-bloody devotion to its most powerful goddess. Snowdenaelikk, half-blood conjuror and smuggler, cares less about history than the silver she can win with sharp metal and sharper wits. But when the local legion blames her for burning a village, an outlander with a sense of honor intervenes, and Snow finds herself tangled in politics and an unwelcome partnership.

Snow and her new partner, Veiko, together with the legion scout Dekklis, uncover a conspiracy that will destroy the Republic from within. It seems that the goddess is back from wherever dead gods go. She has not forgotten the Republic, and she wants revenge.

Loyal Dekklis will do anything to save the Republic, and Snow reluctantly agrees to help—until she realizes that “anything” means sacrificing Veiko. Now Snow must decide whether her partner’s life is worth betraying her allies and damning the Republic to war.

Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet OdysseyCovers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC AuthorsInterview with Charlie HolmbergInterview with RR HaywoodInterview with Steve McHughInterview with James MaxwellInterview with Adam Burch, author of Song of EdmonInterview with Sarah FineInterview with K. Eason, author of Enemy2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Enemy by K. Eason

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