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Interview with Camille Griep


Please welcome Camille Griep to The Qwillery!



Interview with Camille Griep




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your newest novel, New Charity Blues, was published on April 12th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Letters to Zell to New Charity Blues?

Camille:  While my writing process hasn’t changed much from my first effort, New Charity Blues led me to two realizations:

The first is that I don’t need as many eyes on a project as I once did. Sometimes, too much feedback can leave a writer swimming in decisions. Everyone brings different motivations to a manuscript, and I feel like I’m better equipped to use and discard portions of critiques that steer my own ideas into a different place. So this time, I had a few trusted eyes instead of shoving paper into the hands of anyone who showed a lick of interest.

More importantly, I’ve learned the value of taking the time to think before I make critical decisions. When I’m at a crossroads in a project, taking the time to daydream and brainstorm is just as important as the writing itself, though I don’t think we as writers – as humans, really – allow ourselves the latitude, time, and space to really think through the hook, the POV, the settings, the internal and external tensions and how to balance them before we dive in. I feel like I’m getting a lot better at that thought process prior to writing. Doing so makes the process of drafting, for me, invaluably more efficient.



TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Letters to Zell came out that you know now?

Camille:  Everyone from my agent to my Publisher was absolutely amazing my first time through the publishing gauntlet. In some ways I wish I’d known how to be a bit more ruthless with my own work, how to cut a little deeper into the precious words of my first book. It’s not that I don’t love it and stand by it, but I know now how important certain ideas can be to an author when they mean less to a reader.

Process aside, though, I wish I’d known a bit better what noise to revel in and which noise to block out during the actual release of my first book while concurrently writing the second. That’s a process each author has to learn to guide for themselves: how to channel what sorts of energy when and where it’s valuable. When to listen to the cheering, when to block out the jeering and vice versa. When to shut everything off and start writing again. When to stop worrying about what isn’t under our control. Honestly, though, I expect this learning curve to be life long. And I’m okay with that.



TQTell us something about New Charity Blues that is not found in the book description.

Camille:  It doesn’t say so in the book description, but Syd grew up training to be a ballet dancer. The plague of the book hits just as her career is about to take off. I wanted to explore the deep sorrow an artist might feel when their form is no longer considered relevant or useful. I think, as an overarching rule, this is never the case – art always has use. But in the near term, Syd has lost her family and her moorings and her career and her artistic expression. She casts about to find her purpose and ultimately finds value in a history she’s been forced to leave behind.



TQWhich character in the New Charity Blues has surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Camille:  The very minor character of Becky probably surprised me the most during the writing of the book. Here we have someone fairly external to the main storyline and yet, through a series of revelations about Syd, she ends up being a critical ally in the end. She’s somewhat of an allegory on growing up from my own life. I made a lot of assumptions about people when I was young that were probably unfair by simply listening to those around me. As I’ve grown up and learned more about some of those people, I’m thankful for second chances.

The hardest character to write was probably Nelle – another relatively minor player. Though the water in the story is the true Helen, she is also Helen of sorts. I wanted to balance her mythical beauty with intelligence and bravery and wit in addition to making her a big problem for Syd. Trying to draw her complex motivations – Nelle’s obligations to the Survivor Camp’s own plans to liberate New Charity’s water as well as her strange, shifting relationship with Perry, was unwieldy at times. I hope I honestly captured the sense that not every motivation is clear all the time, and the ground beneath us can constantly shift, as it does for Nelle.



TQNew Charity Blues is Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction. What appeals to you about writing SF?

Camille:  Hope is the reason I write science fiction. Sometimes when I look around, the world is full of really ugly things – disease and war and sorrow – and then, again, it’s also filled with beauty and art and love. I want to imagine a future where the latter triumphs over the former. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but I do want to tip the scales so to speak. I write Science Fiction – every genre, really – with an eye toward a time, near or far or completely made up, where, even when the inevitable crises come, the human spirit will rise to the challenge: surprise, amaze, and persevere.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in New Charity Blues?

Camille:  There are a lot of social issues in New Charity Blues because I want to reflect the world as it is evolving. In my life, social issues exist, so I want them to exist here, too.

The most obvious example, of course, is New Charity’s Sanctuary. While it’s not a direct allegory of Judeo-Christianity, it is a stand-in for groupthink, which happens in a great many social circles. And while this groupthink can be supportive and useful, it can also, particularly with the wrong shepherding, become exceedingly dangerous. When the belief in anything strips away the unique layers of humanity, it can become something altogether monstrous.

I also made sure to include LGBT characters because they are a part of my world, though I purposefully did not include prejudice against them, which is something I repeated from Letters to Zell. While I don’t want to contradict myself in reflecting the world at large, in this case, I’m trying to reflect the part of the world I want to live in. A world where love is love and who that love is for has no consequence.

Finally, you’ll find the book is filled with people, women especially, not in relationships, nor stated sexual preference. Part of this is because it’s reality for many. Another reason is because I want to write books about young people about just being in addition to being in love.



TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from New Charity Blues.

Camille:  My friend Dave just finished the book, and wrote me an amazing note, quoting his favorite part, and so I think I’ll repurpose the lines he so gracefully noted:

“A morning beer wouldn’t be a first for us. The summer before I left, he and Cas and Len and I would sit in sleeping bags up on the ridge on Friday nights, looking at the stars, talking about what our lives would be. We never drank to forget—not like Len does now—but to get into that hazy place where everything seemed possible. When the sun shed its pink robe, stars blinking out, we finished the last of the full cans, sneaking home full of hope.”



TQWhat's next?

Camille:  I’m working on a third novel, right now, involving the fairy tale trope “Love Like Salt,” weather magic, and sky deities. But I’m doing so slowly. I’ve been taking some time to build Easy Street, a literary magazine that started just over a year ago. We have an amazing team, and we’re in one of those periods of contests and submissions and growth. It’s really exciting but also very time consuming. I’m doing some mentoring, as well, and working with a nascent nonprofit called Prison Renaissance, matching incarcerated artists with mentors and collaborators who can help them to embrace their artistic visions, assert their humanity, and, hopefully someday, contribute to breaking cycles of incarceration. I could use about six more hours in a day, and I think recently, taking those hours out of my nights slowed me down a bit more than I’d meant.

But it’s all worth it: I’d rather go down with wicked con crud swinging hard for the fences, than from a chance encounter at the grocery store. I try to live my writing life fully, and I promise I won’t let readers wait too long until I loosen some more, hopeful stories into the wild.



TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.






New Charity Blues
47North, April 12, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 286 pages

Interview with Camille Griep
In the wake of a devastating plague, two communities emerge as bastions of survival. One is called the City, and its people scrabble for scraps in the wasteland. The other, New Charity, enjoys the bounty of its hydroelectric dam and refuses City denizens so much as a drop of precious water. When City-dweller Cressyda inherits her father’s ranch within New Charity, she becomes intent on opening the dam to all—no matter the cost.

But when Syd reunites with her old best friend, Casandra, a born seer and religious acolyte, she realizes that her plans could destroy the fragile lives they’ve built in order to survive. What’s more, the strange magic securing the dam’s operations could prove deadly if disturbed. Yet when Syd discovers evidence that her father might have been murdered, she is more determined than ever to exact revenge on New Charity’s corrupt.

Pitted against Cas, as well as her own family, Syd must decide how to secure the survival of both settlements without tipping them over the brink to utter annihilation. In this intense and emotional reimagining of the Trojan War epic, two women clash when loyalty, identity, community, and family are all put to the ultimate test.





Also by Camille

Letters to Zell
47North, July 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Camille Griep
Everything is going according to story for CeCi (Cinderella), Bianca (Snow White), and Rory (Sleeping Beauty)—until the day that Zell (Rapunzel) decides to leave Grimmland and pursue her life. Now, Zell’s best friends are left to wonder whether their own passions are worth risking their predetermined “happily ever afters,” regardless of the consequences. CeCi wonders whether she should become a professional chef, sharp-tongued and quick-witted Bianca wants to escape an engagement to her platonic friend, and Rory will do anything to make her boorish husband love her. But as Bianca’s wedding approaches, can they escape their fates—and is there enough wine in all of the Realm to help them?

In this hilarious modern interpretation of the fairy-tale stories we all know and love, Letters to Zell explores what happens when women abandon the stories they didn’t write for themselves and go completely off script to follow their dreams.





About Camille

Interview with Camille Griep
Photograph by Jackie Donnelly.
Camille Griep lives just north of Seattle with her partner, Adam, and their dog Dutch(ess). Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Southern California to attend Claremont McKenna College, graduating with a dual degree in Biology and Literature.

She wrote her way through corporate careers in marketing, commercial real estate, and financial analysis before taking an extended sabbatical to devote more time to her craft.

She has since sold short fiction and creative nonfiction to dozens of online and print magazines. She is the editor of Easy Street and is a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. She is a 2012 graduate of Viable Paradise, a residential workshop for speculative fiction novelists.

Her first novel, Letters to Zell, was released in July 2015 47North. Look for New Charity Blues in April of 2016.

Website  ~   Twitter @camillethegriep  ~  Facebook

Interview with Marko Kloos


Please welcome Marko Kloos to The Qwillery. Chains of Command, the 4th novel in Marko's Frontlines series, was published on April 19th by 47North.



Interview with Marko Kloos




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Chains of Command (Frontlines 4), was published on April 19th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines 1) to now?

Marko:  Thank you! My writing process is still largely the same—I work off a chapter outline that hits all the major plot points, but leaves me some elbow room along the way. It’s a sort of pantser/plotter hybrid method that works well for me. The only difference between the processes for Terms of Enlistment and Chains of Command is the medium—I wrote the first draft of Terms mostly in longhand, but because of the time constraints of the series, I write my first drafts mostly on the computer now.



TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Terms of Enlistment came out that you know now?

Marko:  I knew practically nothing about publishing when TERMS came out. My agent, the hyper-capable Evan Gregory with the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, guided me through the process and made sure I don’t sell my stuff for the royalty equivalent of a handful of inert magic beans. The biggest revelation was that landing an agent and a book deal isn’t the finish line, it’s just the starting line. Then you have to keep turning in manuscripts, do developmental edits, be available for side projects and interviews and fan mail, and so on. Before, when I was still looking for an agent and a publisher, I was working on my own schedule. Now I am on someone else’s schedule, and the process involves a lot of people. It’s a much busier life now, but it’s amazingly fulfilling.



TQTell us something about Chains of Command that is not found in the book description.

Marko:  First off—it wasn’t supposed to be its own book. The events of CHAINS OF COMMAND were originally part of the outline for ANGLES OF ATTACK, the book that came before it. It’s pretty safe to say that my outline may have been a little ambitious in scope.

I also had a certain Russian battlespace coordinator on the mission with Andrew in CHAINS OF COMMAND, but having him in the story didn’t quite work, so I had to put the poor guy back on the shelf, to return in style for FIELDS OF FIRE.



TQWhich character in the Frontlines series (so far) surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Marko:  Andrew is easy to write because we share a few character traits (and because I get to spend my time in his head a lot), but his character arc is still positively surprising because his outlooks and ethics kept evolving organically with the story. He’s a different person in book 4 than he was in book 1, but everything was a logical consequence of his slowly increasing experience and responsibilities.

The hardest to write well is probably Andrew’s wife, ace drop ship pilot Halley, because she is a different personality altogether. She’s a goal-driven Type A who excels at most everything she does in the military, and she doesn’t have the mushy sentimentalism that afflicts Andrew on occasion. It’s harder to write someone who’s not the same gender as you are, with a different personality that takes more empathy to discover, and a different cultural and social background, without making her sound contrived or artificial—or unsympathetic.



TQHow do you keep track of characters, plot lines, etc. in the Frontlines series?

Marko:  I write chapter outlines for each book which sketch the plot for the novel in rough brush strokes, so to speak. Because the Frontlines novels are all written in first person POV, I don’t have to juggle character viewpoint chapters. The supporting cast drifts in and out of the narrative as required, and I’ve managed to keep the cast manageable enough to keep track mostly in my head. I do have a notebook “bible” of the series that lists all the nuts-and-bolts stuff so I can keep the continuity straight—ship classes, hull numbers, character timelines, and so on. But I don’t do elaborate Rowling-esque spreadsheets or anything like that. I can keep it all reasonably straight with just a little leather-bound notebook with replaceable inserts, and a good mechanical pencil.



TQWhich question about Chains of Command or the Frontlines series do you wish someone would ask?  Ask it and answer it.

Marko:

Q: What do you do to maintain the realistic feel to the military culture a lot of reviews have commented on?

A: I draw on the memories of my own service time, but I also stay on top of military culture and consult active-duty friends and veterans a lot to make sure I keep Andrew grounded and realistic. For example, I want to avoid Protagonist Power Creep, something that’s very common in military SF—by book 4 or 5, the protagonist has a staff or general officer rank and a chest full of medals, and a grudgingly respectful nickname bestowed on him/her even by the enemy. In contrast, Andrew starts as a recruit, and it takes him four books to even make it to O-1 (and that only because there’s a personnel crisis, and they are short on qualified pod heads.) He’s also never the deciding factor in a battle, only one part of the machine trying to do his job with what he has.



TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Chains of Command.

Marko

For a few moments, there’s silence in the cargo hold as everyone looks at the TacNet screen,as if we’re all waiting for it to unlock some previously invisible secret. Then Sergeant Fallon clears her throat, and all heads turn in her direction.
“That would be an incredibly aggressive and reckless thing to do. And only a totally irresponsible gung-ho podhead moron with more balls than brains would even think about it.”
She smiles grimly.
“Naturally, I’m very much in love with that plan, Lieutenant.”
Halley lets out an exasperated little huff, but she smiles as she does it.
“All right, gentlemen,” she says. “Let’s put the Lieutenant’s aggressive and reckless plan to a vote. Who here also has more balls than brains and thinks we should go out with a bang?”
Lieutenant Dorian and Sergeant Fallon both raise their hands. Lieutenant Wolfe follows suit after a few seconds. Lieutenant Hanscom only shakes his head with a frown.
Halley raises her hand as well.
“Oh, goddamn it,” Lieutenant Hanscom huffs. Then he raises his hand too.
“We’re all a bunch of idiots,” Halley says. “Now that we settled the if, let’s get to work on the how.”



TQ:   What's next?

Marko:  I’m currently finishing up the fifth novel in the Frontlines series, which will be called FIELDS OF FIRE. After that, there will be a sixth Frontlines novel, and then I am going to start a new military SF series with 47North that may run concurrently with future Frontlines stories. I also have ideas for a few more Frontlines short stories and novellas, so be on the lookout for those before too long. It seems there are still lots of stories to be told in that universe.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Marko:  Thanks for having me again, and I hope we can talk again when FIELDS OF FIRE gets released!

TQAbsolutely!





Chains of Command
Frontlines 4
47North, April 19, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Marko Kloos
The assault on Earth was thwarted by the destruction of the aliens’ seed ship, but with Mars still under Lanky control, survivors work frantically to rebuild fighting capacity and shore up planetary defenses. Platoon sergeant Andrew Grayson must crash-course train new volunteers—all while dulling his searing memories of battle with alcohol and meds.

Knowing Earth’s uneasy respite won’t last, the North American Commonwealth and its Sino-Russian allies hurtle toward two dangerous options: hit the Lanky forces on Mars or go after deserters who stole a fleet of invaluable warships critical to winning the war. Assigned to a small special ops recon mission to scout out the renegades’ stronghold on a distant moon, Grayson and his wife, dropship pilot Halley, again find themselves headed for the crucible of combat—and a shattering new campaign in the war for humanity’s future.





Previously

Terms of Enlistment
Frontlines 1
47North, January 28, 2013
Trade Paperback, 346 pages
Kindle eBook, May 8, 2013

Interview with Marko Kloos
The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you're restricted to two thousand calories of badly flavored soy every day:

You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service.

With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. But as he starts a career of supposed privilege, he soon learns that the good food and decent health care come at a steep price…and that the settled galaxy holds far greater dangers than military bureaucrats or the gangs that rule the slums.

The debut novel from Marko Kloos, Terms of Enlistment is a new addition to the great military sci-fi tradition of Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, and John Scalzi.



Lines of Departure
Frontlines 2
47North, January 28, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 328 pages

Interview with Marko Kloos
Vicious interstellar conflict with an indestructible alien species. Bloody civil war over the last habitable zones of the cosmos. Political unrest, militaristic police forces, dire threats to the Solar System…

Humanity is on the ropes, and after years of fighting a two-front war with losing odds, so is North American Defense Corps officer Andrew Grayson. He dreams of dropping out of the service one day, alongside his pilot girlfriend, but as warfare consumes entire planets and conditions on Earth deteriorate, he wonders if there will be anywhere left for them to go.

After surviving a disastrous space-borne assault, Grayson is reassigned to a ship bound for a distant colony—and packed with malcontents and troublemakers. His most dangerous battle has just begun.

In this sequel to the bestselling Terms of Enlistment, a weary soldier must fight to prevent the downfall of his species…or bear witness to humanity’s last, fleeting breaths.



Angles of Attack
Frontlines 3
47North, April 21, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 350 pages

Interview with Marko Kloos
The alien forces known as the Lankies are gathering on the solar system’s edge, consolidating their conquest of Mars and setting their sights on Earth. The far-off colony of New Svalbard, cut off from the rest of the galaxy by the Lanky blockade, teeters on the verge of starvation and collapse. The forces of the two Earth alliances have won minor skirmishes but are in danger of losing the war. For battle-weary staff sergeant Andrew Grayson and the ragged forces of the North American Commonwealth, the fight for survival is entering a catastrophic new phase.

Forging an uneasy alliance with their Sino-Russian enemies, the NAC launches a hybrid task force on a long shot: a stealth mission to breach the Lanky blockade and reestablish supply lines with Earth. Plunging into combat against a merciless alien species that outguns, outmaneuvers, and outfights them at every turn, Andrew and his fellow troopers could end up cornered on their home turf, with no way out and no hope for reinforcement. And this time, the struggle for humanity’s future can only end in either victory or annihilation.





And there is a comic series! Note that the comic takes place concurrently with Angles of Attack (Frontlines 3).

Frontlines: Requiem #1
    Marko Kloos (Author)
    Ivan Brandon (Author)
    Gary Erskine (Illustrator)
    Yel Zamor (Illustrator)
Jet City Comics, April 20, 2016 (digital)
Jet City Comics, May 18, 2016 (print)

Interview with Marko Kloos
From acclaimed writer Ivan Brandon (Drifter, Viking), this four-issue comic book series features a new stand-alone story set within the action-packed military sci-fi world of Marko Kloos’s bestselling Frontlines novels. Includes stunning artwork from Gary Erskine (Star Wars, Dan Dare, Doctor Who, Judge Dredd).

Colonel Soraya Yamin, commander of the battle-ravaged space control cruiser Phalanx, engages the Lankies, a merciless alien species, in an apocalyptic assault over Mars. The Lankies, who have outgunned, outmaneuvered, and outfought humanity at every turn, have been menacing Earth’s colonies. But now they’re suddenly in our solar system, decimating the NACS fleet and swarming toward Earth itself. Facing insurmountable odds, Soraya must make a fateful choice between her sworn duty and the loved ones she desperately wants to protect.



Frontlines: Requiem #2
    Marko Kloos (Author)
    Ivan Brandon (Author)
    Gary Erskine (Illustrator)
    Yel Zamor (Illustrator)
Jet City Comics, May 18, 2016 (digital)
Jet City Comics, June 15, 2016 (print)

Interview with Marko Kloos
Dealt a crippling blow, the Phalanx floats lifelessly in space. Commander Soraya Yamin and her crew watch helplessly as their friends and soldiers-in-arms are destroyed by the Lankies, an unstoppable alien force. As unanswerable distress calls blare, Soraya turns her thoughts to her family on Earth, the next planet in the Lankies’ crosshairs.

From acclaimed writer Ivan Brandon (Drifter, Viking), this four-issue comic book series features a new stand-alone story set within the action-packed military sci-fi world of Marko Kloos’s bestselling Frontlines novels. Includes stunning artwork from Gary Erskine (Dan Dare, Judge Dredd, Star Wars).





About Marko

Interview with Marko Kloos
Photo by Al Bogdan (2014)
Marko Kloos is the author of the Frontlines series of military Science Fiction.

Born and raised in Germany, Marko now lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children. Their compound, Castle Frostbite, is patrolled by a roving pack of dachshunds.










Website  ~  Twitter @markokloos



Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There


Please welcome Joshua V. Scher to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Here & There was published on November 1st by 47North.


Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There



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

Joshua:  Second grade, my buddy, Pando Eder, and I would sneak into his mom’s study to use her typewriter and write Snoopy fan fiction. Why… I guess because I had these nagging ideas about what the Peanuts gang was up to when it wasn’t Halloween or Christmas.



TQAre you a plotter, pantser or a hybrid?

Joshua:  I’m not quite sure what a pantser is (probably not what I’m imagining), but I’m definitely a plotter. At least in broad strokes. I like to know where I’m going. It can and often does change along the way, but I have a target in mind.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Joshua:  Overcoming that feeling every day that I’ve forgotten how to write. Also spelling. At one point, Microsoft Word actually issued an error message saying there were too many errors in Here & There and it could no longer continue spell checking.



TQYou are also a playwright. How has this affected (or not) your novel writing?

Joshua:  It made me keenly aware of dialogue, how it flows and sounds. As much as I like Faulkner, my characters don’t talk in 30 page monologues. Except to themselves. That’s been the fun part in delving into prose, being able to unshackle a characters chain of thoughts. On stage, you can only do that in very short bursts (see Hamlet).



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Joshua:  I think most writers probably have a two-column list for this, a long-term one and a more current one. Long term: Borges, Nabokov, Hammett, Faulkner, Chandler, Pynchon, Vonnegut. Current: Murakami, Atwood, Elroy, Danielewsky, Kundera, the Coen brothers (yes I consider them literary).



TQDescribe Here & There in 140 characters or less.

Joshua:  Love, loss, longing, and teleportation.



TQTell us something about Here & There that is not found in the book description.

Joshua:  It’s told through a series of journal entries, video transcripts, and government correspondences.



TQWhat inspired you to write Here & There? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Joshua:  I came up with the idea while reading Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Science fiction is a fantastic way to unpack our humanity with What if scenarios. It provides the freedom to explore big questions about the human condition without the constraints of the mundane. I mean, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep isn’t about Replicants, it’s about us. Who are we? What makes us human? What defines a soul?

AND with Sci-Fi we also get to sort of run probability scenarios about where we’re headed. Almost all Sci-Fi is less about some future and more about what’s going on in our society now and where it will take us.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Here & There?

Joshua:  Oh my god, so much. I had to really get into quantum physics and all the real, current, impressive work being done with teleportation on a subatomic level. Quantum cryptography and “normal” cryptography too. I also had to brush up on my singularity knowledge and even get a little into string theory. All the physics that made it past the redaction filters is real and accurate (at least to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing it).

I dug into a bunch of philosophy as well, Hume, Heidegger, Kierkegaard...



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

Joshua:  Danny was the easiest. His wiseacre tone just kind of flowed. There’s a strong sarcasm gene in my family.

Eve was the hardest. She speaks French. I don’t.



TQWhich question about Here & There do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Joshua:  How close are we to achieving teleportation?

Well, just last week a bunch of physicists over at the National Institute of Standards and Technology destroyed the distance record for quantum teleportation, transferring quantum information over 100km.

But as shown in Here & There, they are still way behind Dr. Reidier’s achievements.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/09/23/scientists-just-smashed-the-distance-record-for-quantum-teleportation/



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Here & There.

Joshua:  In choosing between fact and fiction, it is the fiction that will always reveal more.
Men prefer myth to truth.

My bedroom ceiling fan is spreading rumors about me.



TQWhat's next?

Joshua:  My film, I’m OK, a coming-of-age story in the post-apocalypse, will be released in 2016.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Here & There
47North, November 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 587 pages

Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There
It was supposed to be a simple proof of concept. The physics were sound. Over one hundred teleportation experiments had already been successfully performed...

Debate rages over whether the Reidier Test’s disastrous outcome resulted from human error, government conspiracy, or sabotage. No one has actual knowledge of the truth. But hidden from the public eye, there exists a government report commissioned from criminal psychologist Dr. Hilary Kahn, chronicling the events that took place.

Dr. Kahn disappeared without a trace.

Now her son Danny has unearthed and revealed the report, fueling controversy over the details of Reidier’s quest to reforge the fabric of reality and hold his family together. Exposed with little chance of finding his mother, Danny goes underground to investigate. But nothing can prepare him for what he discovers.

In this thrilling saga, a paradigm-shattering feat may alter humanity’s future as quantum entanglement and teleportation collide.





About Joshua

Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There
Joshua V. Scher is a recent transplant from New York City to the Hollywood hills, where he is continuing his transition from writing for the stage to the screen, both theatrical and television. His film, I’m OK, is in postproduction and slated for a festival run in 2016. The cinematic adaptation of his play The Footage was developed by Pressman Film. Scher collaborated with Joe Frazier and Penny Marshall’s Parkway Productions on the Joe Frazier biopic Behind the Smoke. He also worked with Danny Glover and Louverture Films on Scher’s original TV pilot, Jigsaw. His works for the stage include Marvel, Flushed, and Velvet Ropes, as well as the musical Triangle. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in creative writing from Brown University and a master of fine arts degree in playwriting from Yale University. This is his first novel.




Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @joshuascher

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. Scher


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. Scher


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Joshua V. Scher

Here & There
47North, November 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 587 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. Scher
It was supposed to be a simple proof of concept. The physics were sound. Over one hundred teleportation experiments had already been successfully performed...

Debate rages over whether the Reidier Test’s disastrous outcome resulted from human error, government conspiracy, or sabotage. No one has actual knowledge of the truth. But hidden from the public eye, there exists a government report commissioned from criminal psychologist Dr. Hilary Kahn, chronicling the events that took place.

Dr. Kahn disappeared without a trace.

Now her son Danny has unearthed and revealed the report, fueling controversy over the details of Reidier’s quest to reforge the fabric of reality and hold his family together. Exposed with little chance of finding his mother, Danny goes underground to investigate. But nothing can prepare him for what he discovers.

In this thrilling saga, a paradigm-shattering feat may alter humanity’s future as quantum entanglement and teleportation collide.

Interview with Robert Masello


Please welcome Robert Masello to The Qwillery. The Einstein Prophecy was published on August 1, 2015 by 47North.



Interview with Robert Masello




TQWelcome to the Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Robert:  I’m a pantser who wants to be a plotter. I so envy my friends who can plot out a whole novel ahead of time so that they never have those terrible night sweats when you’re halfway through writing a book and you suddenly realize you have no idea where to go next. Plotting ahead has just never worked for me, though. Give me an outline and five minutes later I depart from it.



TQIn addition to being a fiction author, you are a journalist and television writer. How does this affect your novel writing?

Robert:  Writing journalism taught me to respect and meet my deadlines; editors had no patience with you when you left them with a hole in their newspaper or magazine. And TV writing taught me to think hard in terms of character arcs and pace (I have a tendency to get languid in my story-telling).



TQYour latest three novels are The Medusa Amulet (2011), The Romanov Cross (2013) and The Einstein Prophecy (2015). Do these novels have anything in common?

Robert:  Yes, they are all what I would call historical thrillers with a supernatural twist. In the Medusa, I explored the Italian Renaissance through the eyes of the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini; in the Romanovs, I wrote about the end of the Russian dynasty and the rise of the Spanish Flu; in the Einstein book, the new one, I’ve written about Einstein’s tenure at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the creation of the atomic bomb.



TQDescribe The Einstein Prophecy in 140 characters or less.

Robert:  I don’t Tweet, so already I’m lost. But set in 1944, it’s a mix of ancient history and modern physics, in which a mysterious ossuary holds the key to the fate of mankind, and Einstein becomes instrumental in the realization of its powers.



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

Robert:  Einstein spent the last years of his life tormented that his theories had laid the groundwork for the development, and deployment, of atomic bombs. A lifelong pacifist, he was terribly dismayed to have helped bring this catastrophic force into the world.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Einstein Prophecy?

Robert:  Tons. I read several biographies of Einstein, in addition to many books and articles about ancient Egyptian history and Biblical lore. The book mixes those things together. I also had to study up a bit on The Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics. It was a nightmare.



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

Robert:  The easiest was my tortured and wounded hero, an Army vet named Lucas Athan. I gave him everything from the scholarly bent I have to the headaches that I suffer from myself. The hardest character, far and away, was Einstein. I did not want this very great man to come off as silly or unconvincing in any way.



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

Robert:  Did your impression of Einstein change as you researched and wrote the book?” Yes. Although I knew enough to admire him for his great breakthroughs in the realm of physics, I had no idea how much I would come to like him as a man. Almost everyone he met came away with an impression of a kind and decent and idealistic man, cultured, sophisticated, yet at the same time entirely natural and accepting.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Einstein Prophecy.

Robert:  I’m partial to the quiet moments. After Einstein has loaned some cough drops to an Arab scholar named Rashid, who has also taken refuge from a storm in the cavernous interior of the Princeton University chapel, Rashid watches him go: ‘As if to confirm his impression that Einstein lived with one foot in the material world and one in some other, Rashid couldn’t help but notice, as the scientist walked down the dimly illumined nave, that he passed from beams of light into patches of shadow, and that even on a day as chilly and wet as this, he wore no socks. No wonder he carried cough drops.’ 



TQWhat’s next?

Robert:  I’m already at work on a very challenging novel about another one of my heroes, Robert Louis Stevenson. To write it requires living under a rock for many months to come, and I am not looking forward to that. That’s the worst part of being a writer – having to lock yourself away from the world for so many hours of each day and night. I live like a vampire.”



TQThank you for joining us at the Qwillery.

Robert:  It was my pleasure. Now, where’s my rock?





The Einstein Prophecy
47North, August 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 326 pages

Interview with Robert Masello
As war rages in 1944, young army lieutenant Lucas Athan recovers a sarcophagus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Shipped to Princeton University for study, the box contains mysteries that only Lucas, aided by brilliant archaeologist Simone Rashid, can unlock.

These mysteries may, in fact, defy—or fulfill—the dire prophecies of Albert Einstein himself.

Struggling to decipher the sarcophagus’s strange contents, Lucas and Simone unwittingly release forces for both good and unmitigated evil. The fate of the world hangs not only on Professor Einstein’s secret research but also on Lucas’s ability to defeat an unholy adversary more powerful than anything he ever imagined.

From the mind of bestselling author and award-winning journalist Robert Masello comes a thrilling, page-turning adventure where modern science and primordial supernatural powers collide.





Previously

The Medusa Amulet
Bantam, February 28, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
Hardcover, April 26, 2011

Interview with Robert Masello
Benvenuto Cellini, master artisan of Renaissance Italy, once crafted a beautiful amulet prized for its unimaginable power—and untold menace. Now the quest to recover this legendary artifact depends upon one man: David Franco, a brilliant but skeptical young scholar at Chicago’s world-renowned Newberry Library. What begins as a simple investigation spirals into a tale of dangerous intrigue, as Franco races from the châteaux of France to the palazzos of Rome in a desperate search for the ultimate treasure—and an answer to a riddle that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time. Aided by a beautiful young Florentine harboring dark secrets, pursued by deadly assassins, and battling demons of his own, Franco must ultimately confront an evil greater than anything conjured in his worst nightmares.



The Romanov Cross
Bantam, March 5, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 512 pages

Interview with Robert Masello
Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.

Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants—to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life.

Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits—and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised—crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters—he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price.

The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed.





About Robert

Interview with Robert Masello
ROBERT MASELLO is an award-winning journalist (New York Newsday, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, etc.) television writer (Charmed, Sliders, Poltergeist: the Legacy) and the bestselling author of many novels and nonfiction books, including Blood and Ice, The Medusa Amulet, and The Romanov Cross. A native of Evanston Illinois, he studied writing at Princeton University under the late, National Book Award winner Robert Stone, and served as the Visiting Lecturer in Literature at Claremont McKenna College for six years. Today, he lives and works in Santa Monica, CA.

His recently-released novel, a supernatural thriller entitled The Einstein Prophecy, held onto the #1 spot in the Amazon Kindle store for several weeks this summer.



Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @RobertMasello

Interview with Camille Griep, author of Letters to Zell - July 1, 2015


Please welcome Camille Griep to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Letters to Zell is published on July 1st by 47North. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Camille a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Camille Griep, author of Letters to Zell - July 1, 2015




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

Camille:  Thanks so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be able share my very first book with you and your readers.

I started writing very early in life. I was one of those children who liked to soothe myself with stories, whether I was lamenting a fruitless wish for a Pegasus of my very own or a failed friendship. Growing up with my grandparents and no siblings, I read a lot to keep myself company, to fill the hours of my persistent childhood insomnia, and to attempt to understand my own imagination. I wrote books in school, but kept writing when I was out of school, too – journals and notebooks and diaries. I wrote for myself, for my parents, and for my friends. I was lucky to have friends who indulged this behavior well into our teens: in high school, we passed fairy tales instead of notes for a while. Telling stories is something that has always been a part of who I am, whether or not I’ve been actively writing.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Camille:  Definitely a pantser. I would so like to be a plotter – almost as much as I (still) want a Pegasus. Both are about as likely to happen.

Ideally, I write a book as I did Zell: starting with the beginning, moving to the end, then creating a bridge in the middle. I’m a visual writer and that lends itself to more surprises than is often healthy for an outline.

I know this because I sold my second novel on spec, so I had to submit full outline. While the plan itself was difficult to wrangle, it was even harder to stick to it. I prefer a much more organic process of creation, and, of course, I ended up having to rewrite the outline as I got deeper into the text and made new decisions based on how I’d moved the characters through their environment.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Camille:  My attention span is very short. I am easily distracted and that is directly in conflict with my needs for novel writing – long, uninterrupted stretches of time. I work constantly to schedule my days and weeks efficiently, so that I can chop up some into small pieces for small projects and spend long days to do immersive projects. I’m not very good about saying no and tend to get a bit over my skis with commitments. With one major exception, all of the writing-related projects, groups, and publications I’ve been involved with have been worth every stressful minute.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Camille:  I think I’m influenced by everything I read. That said, my writing has been most shaped by those whose work can be read a variety of ways. Frost has this nice, pastoral reputation these days when in actuality, his writing is much darker. I’m trying to put my own spin on using humor to diffuse the utterly heartbreaking, like Pamela Ribon and Libba Bray. I love Dorothy Parker and Fran Lebowitz, whose writings are true and awful and funny all at the same time. Finally, I’m under the spell of whimsicists like Walter Moers and CS Lewis. The Horse and His Boy changed my life when I stumbled upon it in my grandparents’ library all those years ago.

It’s hard to whittle down a list of favorite contemporary authors, but if I had to add to the ones above, I’d add fiction writers: Yannick Murphy, Jandy Nelson, Chad Simpson, Stephen Graham Jones, Annie Proulx, and Kent Haruf. There are so many more, but we’ll say these are my favorites right this very minute.



TQDescribe Letters to Zell in 140 characters or less.

Camille:  Fairy tale princesses discover Happily Ever After isn’t the Happy they’re After.



TQ Tell us something about Letters to Zell that is not found in the book description.

Camille:  While the book is indeed a paean to the epistolary form, it’s a tribute to many other things close to my heart. One of those things is Los Angeles. When the characters emerge Outside, they find themselves in present day L.A., their portal exiting at the famed, door-less magician’s hangout The Magic Castle. This was an amazing solution in my mind, L.A. being the home of all sorts of strange things, a few overdressed women popping out of thin air would be within the realm of normal at a place like the Magic Castle.



TQWhat inspired you to write Letters to Zell? What appealed to you about re-imagining the fairy tales of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel?

Camille:  This book really came about as a result of my grappling – as many of us in our mid 30s do – with expectations. No matter what kind of life path you align yourself to, there are a lot of societal pressures telling you whether you’re acceptable or not. A woman really never gets it right. The singletons are doing it wrong, mothers are doing it wrong, the childless are doing it wrong, the stay-at-homes are doing it wrong, the work-around-the-clock women are doing it wrong, the. I guess it’s fair to say that I’d been on the receiving end of things for too long, and I was tired of hearing friends lament their shortcomings and how their lives failed to measure up.

A friend remarked that instead of the life she had, she wanted the fairy tale. I thought darkly, what if the fairy tales wanted reality?

At first I meant to simply turn the concept into a short piece. But I couldn’t fit the expectations of Cosmo, Vogue, TMZ, and Dr. Ruth into a bite-sized portion of fiction. I dug into the well-known princess stories, trying to choose whose might fit best, when it dawned on me that perhaps all of them, in a wider world of imagination, could find freedom and acceptance from each other. Combining their stories took patience, but allowed me to create a very unique, character-driven narrative.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Letters to Zell?

Camille:  Most of the research required for LTZ was reading. In order to ensure I’d grounded myself in the Grimm versions of the fairy tales instead of the Disney versions, I carefully read each of the main and minor characters’ fairy tales, whether they were Grimm, or Christian Anderson, or otherwise. I threw the kitchen sink into the Realm of Imagination. This will undoubtedly annoy some readers, but it was a conscious allusion to the fact that everything we write for readers is influenced by other imaginative works, whether we like it or not.



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

Camille:  The easiest character to write was probably Bianca aka Snow White. Even though CeCi’s voice is likely closer to my own, Bianca’s reactions to most things boiled down to what would someone say if their patience ran out five minutes ago.

Conversely, Rory (Sleeping Beauty) was the toughest. I worked really hard to make her anachronistic in a setting (Grimmland, the Realm of Imagination) that is already pretty strange. In order to offset much of her passive voice and fervent romanticism, I layered in as much humor as I could. The downside here, of course, is that humor isn’t universal. Readers who don’t perceive that the women begin the narrative as caricatures will miss the way the women gradually break free as they find their own space in the world.



TQWhich question about Letters to Zell do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Camille:  How did you choose the personalities for each princess?

I like to say the characters begin the book with their personalities turned up to eleven. Because the book is satire, it’s necessary for us to encounter them at their most obnoxious in order to have the character arc I was aiming for, whereupon they begin to soften and take on the best qualities of one another, as old friends often do.

Zell became the letter recipient because her life seemed to be most complete in the traditional sense. In the Grimm version of Rapunzel, she is pregnant with (gasp, illegitimate!) twins when she is evicted from the tower. Since she ends her tale with a life that looks the most like what is considered “normal,” I decided to upend it as the catalyst for the book.

CeCi is the most practical of the bunch she’s used to running a large household. Used to being useful, her recognition of the loss of her own resourcefulness causes her to closely examine her own life, wants, and needs. She does, however, retain a fair bit of whimsy, as she really didn’t have much of a childhood.

Rory is antiquated and dreamy because of her long sleep. But her inability to see things for what they really are isn’t so much stupidity as avoidance. Rather than lose anyone else or any more time, Rory clings to the fragile latticework of her own optimism.

Bianca is unfiltered because she was raised for a time by a bunch of rough diamond miners. She’s embittered because she so desperately wanted her stepmother’s love. As with most prickly beings, her defense mechanisms are largely a smokescreen of her own tender heart.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Letters to Zell.

Camille:

1. “You couldn’t shut up about [yoga] a few weeks ago...you might want to give it a try. Maybe you’ll get flexible enough to pull your head out of your ass.” (CeCi, after telling Bianca, “Namaste, bitch.”)

2. “Humans can’t all be assholes, right? Head of Soufflés herself can’t be responsible for techno music, Chia Pets, and pies in a jar.” (Bianca/Snow White)

3. “You would be proud of me, Zell. I feel much braver these days. Bravery is exhausting, though, so I do have to drink a good deal of coffee.” (Rory/Sleeping Beauty)



TQWhat's next?

Camille:  Next spring I’ll be releasing my 2nd novel. In New Charity Blues, two women struggle with cultural expectations, their own motivations, and friendship in the midst of a streamlined, reimagined Trojan War set in a post-plague western country rife with prophecy and magic.

Ex-ballerina Cressyda (Syd) Turner joins the effort to rebuild her unnamed City after a pandemic plague decimates the country’s population – all except for that of her hometown, the rural backwater community of New Charity. Yearning to be an influential voice in her City, Syd is embittered by the irrelevance of her art and her inability to find a purpose. When the opportunity to return to New Charity arises, she jumps at the chance to open the hydroelectric dam the town has shut down and restore power to the city.

Cassandra (Cas) Willis, a Seer and Acolyte, is a pensive cowgirl, quietly wishing to be more than just a voice in New Charity’s strict Sanctuary. Her ability to see into the future is her greatest gift, but when she learns that Syd’s father, Cal, was killed by the Sanctuary's Bishop, she strives to find a justification so as to maintain her perception of the institution she grew up in.

Syd – used to being seen and not heard – and Cas – used to being heard and not seen – each balk at the expectation that they will fulfill supporting roles in whatever the men in their communities decide. Disowned by her powerful family, Cas aligns herself with Syd, and a careful respect emerges as each begins to understand the pressures put upon the other, until Cas receives a vision of her town’s utter destruction.

Though these women are minor characters in older narratives, they are remembered primarily as representative symbols of womanhood – Cressyda the pandering, inconstant floozy and Cassandra, the helpless, crazed prophetess. I want to explore the choices that bring them to their decisions, their loves, their families, and most importantly, their friendship with one another.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Letters to Zell
47North, July 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Camille Griep, author of Letters to Zell - July 1, 2015
Everything is going according to story for CeCi (Cinderella), Bianca (Snow White), and Rory (Sleeping Beauty)—until the day that Zell (Rapunzel) decides to leave Grimmland and pursue her life. Now, Zell’s best friends are left to wonder whether their own passions are worth risking their predetermined “happily ever afters,” regardless of the consequences. CeCi wonders whether she should become a professional chef, sharp-tongued and quick-witted Bianca wants to escape an engagement to her platonic friend, and Rory will do anything to make her boorish husband love her. But as Bianca’s wedding approaches, can they escape their fates—and is there enough wine in all of the Realm to help them?

In this hilarious modern interpretation of the fairy-tale stories we all know and love, Letters to Zell explores what happens when women abandon the stories they didn’t write for themselves and go completely off script to follow their dreams.





About Camille

Interview with Camille Griep, author of Letters to Zell - July 1, 2015
Photograph by Jackie Donnelly.
Camille Griep lives just north of Seattle with her partner, Adam, and their dog Dutch(ess). Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Southern California to attend Claremont McKenna College, graduating with a dual degree in Biology and Literature.

She wrote her way through corporate careers in marketing, commercial real estate, and financial analysis before taking an sabbatical to devote more time to her craft in 2011.

She has since sold short fiction and creative nonfiction to dozens of online and print magazines. She is the editor of Easy Street and is a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. She is a 2012 graduate of Viable Paradise, a residential workshop for speculative fiction novelists.

Her first novel, Letters to Zell, will be released July 1st from 47North.

Website  ~   Twitter @camillethegriep  ~  Facebook

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2015 Winner


The winner of the June 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is (R)EVOLUTION by PJ Manney with 23% of all votes.



2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2015 Winner





The Final Results

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2015 Winner





The June 2015 Debut Covers

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2015 Winner




Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the July Debut covers starting on July 15, 2015.

Interview with PJ Manney, author of (R)EVOLUTION - June 5, 2015


Please welcome PJ Manney to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. (R)EVOLUTION was published on June 1st by 47North.



Interview with PJ Manney, author of (R)EVOLUTION - June 5, 2015




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

PJ:  I started writing in 1995, when I joined my husband in New Zealand while he was producing Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I had been a movie executive who worked with writers developing material and selling to the studios in Los Angeles, but the cliche promoted back then was producers couldn't write and I honestly believed I couldn't. In addition, I have dyslexia and those silly psychometric tests I was given as a kid said, "Whatever you do, don't become a writer!" Originally, I wrote to stop going crazy from lack of work, since my visa forbade me getting a job in New Zealand. After pitching some ideas to the US showrunners and giving them a writing sample, I was hired as a US employee to write a couple of episodes of Hercules and an episode of Xena, all while I was pregnant with my first child. I had to hide that from the showrunners, since a couple of the producers had a bias against pregnant women. Unfortunately, I had to stop writing for the shows once my son was born, because he was a handful and we both had some health problems. I continued to work in TV/film until I started writing (R)EVOLUTION.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

PJ:  I'm a plotter. That comes from my movie and TV training. Structure is everything in the 30 min, 60 min or 120 min formats. The most challenging thing is keeping my butt in my desk chair and getting to the flow state. I have a lot of distractions in my life!



TQYou've written for TV and movies. How does this affect (or not) your novel writing?

PJ:  As I said above, structure is everything. I see story as a virtual rollercoaster, so I can see if my ups and downs are calibrated well enough. However, I had to unlearn a dangerous tendency from the TV/film industry and stop making my characters so likable! It's SOP in a TV show, but death in a novel.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

PJ:  Trevanian's Shibumi is the greatest genre parody-spy thriller ever. To pull off the trick of having fun with a genre while being so skilled all the genre's elements, as well as such deft wordsmithing is something I can only dream of doing. And Trevanian writes the best literary digressions and snide asides ever -- because they're so true and so un-PC. Alexandre Dumas is the great master storyteller and The Count of Monte Cristo is the best revenge story ever. Hamlet is a distant second. ;-) Also, Dumas had the ability to criticize French politics by placing it in a historical context and demonstrated how difficult it was for normal citizens to survive the political machinations waged by those at the top of the social pyramid. I wanted to put that kind of commentary into the near future to reflect upon our present.



TQDescribe (R)EVOLUTION in 140 characters or less. 

PJ:  I'd like to try this twice for fun, if I may:

Powerful group steals bioengineer's tech, leaves him for dead. He becomes more than human to kick their asses, changing humanity forever.

Mass death. Nanobots. Brain-computer interfaces. Oligarchy. Conspiracy. Betrayal. Revenge. Homo excelsior. Kicks ass. Change happens.



TQTell us something about (R)EVOLUTION that is not found in the book description.

PJ:  The story and the protagonist were deeply inspired by popular music in a feedback loop of creative influence. If it wasn't for the music (which is all listed at the end and I recommend listening to it with the book if you are of a musical bent), I couldn't have written it.



TQYour author bio describes you as a “futurist”? What is a futurist and how did this influence (R)EVOLUTION?

PJ:  A futurist like me (and yes, there are different types) considers different scenarios as possible futures and explains to others what might happen and why, so everyone is prepared. No one knows what the future will be, but we're willing to follow lines of influence (technological, societal, political, etc.) to find the levers of change and anticipate the consequences. I come to futurism through storytelling, because I feel stories make the future more relatable. I could show you a graph indicating the increased use of brain technologies and analyze the possible consequences, but instead, if I tell you a story about that change, you will empathize more and be more likely to internalize the message. I tell the story of cognitive technologies in (R)EVOLUTION to spur discussion as to the use of cognitive technologies and brain-computer interfaces. There are two things to understand: 1) these type of technologies will happen regardless of what you think of them and 2) in my story, my protagonist creates these technologies with little oversight and uses them before they're ready, to save himself and others. The real scientists developing these technologies will work out many of the problems I posit, because of the ethics and protocols in place to create healthy and positive technologies.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for (R)EVOLUTION?

PJ:  The research was endless and still is! I researched all the medical science, technology (nanotechnology, brain computer interfaces, surveillance, etc.), life in Silicon Valley and Stanford, the languages, the history of secret societies in the US, politics, economics, you name it. I'm a generalist, so I knew a little about a lot to begin with, but I wanted to get specifics as correct as possible. Since the sequels are about the unintended consequences of what is wrought in (R)EVOLUTION and will include robotics and artificial intelligence, the research is ramped up to an even higher level, which I didn't think was possible.



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

PJ:  Ruth was the easiest character. She just jumped fully formed into my head. My only difficulty was picking the right Yiddish to use and getting her idiosyncratic vocal cadence right. And I learned from my Yiddish research that my grandmother had quite the potty mouth! It's not surprising though: Yiddish is a very scatological idiomatic language.

Peter was the hardest character. His transformation was complex and it was all too easy to make him too likable at the beginning. Everything hung on whether you bought him as a complex enough character at the start and still stayed with him as he changed into someone you might not like, but you respected and empathized with, regardless of the dark and not-so-human places he went.



TQWhich question about (R)EVOLUTION do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

PJ:

Q: Even though it's considered SF, why did you write such a genre-mashup?

A: I love finding the links between things. Life is all about complexity and connections. To tell the story and only stick with the strict rules of a single genre would impede the story I wanted to tell. I couldn't make connections between politics, economics, history, technology, spirituality, and have fun with action adventure in a near future context without breaking a few genre-specific eggs.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from (R)EVOLUTION.

PJ:  "If hell exists, it will have television news crews stationed in front of the fiery gates to broadcast your arrival."

"'I think we’re livin’ in an age of misplaced religious feelin’. And that’s very dangerous. Instead of bein’ humbled by the unknowable God Almighty, there are a frightenin’ number ’a people who think they’re the Lord’s gun-totin’ sidekick.'"



TQWhat's next?

PJ:  I'm busy working on the two sequels, (ID)ENTITY and (CON)SCIENCE. They will cover the unintended consequences of Peter Bernhardt's actions. And there are some very big consequences.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

PJ:  Thank you so much for allowing me to participate. Congratulations on a great website!

TQ:  Thank you for your kind words.





(R)EVOLUTION
Phoenix Horizon 1
47North, June 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 544 pages

Interview with PJ Manney, author of (R)EVOLUTION - June 5, 2015
Scientist Peter Bernhardt has dedicated his life to nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter on the atomic scale. As the founder of Biogineers, he is on the cusp of revolutionizing brain therapies with microscopic nanorobots that will make certain degenerative diseases become a thing of the past. But after his research is stolen by an unknown enemy, seventy thousand people die in Las Vegas in one abominable moment. No one is more horrified than Peter, as this catastrophe sets in motion events that will forever change not only his life but also the course of human evolution.

Peter’s company is torn from his grasp as the public clamors for his blood. Desperate, he turns to an old friend, who introduces him to the Phoenix Club, a cabal of the most powerful people in the world. To make himself more valuable to his new colleagues, Peter infuses his brain with experimental technology, exponentially upgrading his mental prowess and transforming him irrevocably.

As he’s exposed to unimaginable wealth and influence, Peter’s sense of reality begins to unravel. Do the club members want to help him, or do they just want to claim his technology? What will they do to him once they have their prize? And while he’s already evolved beyond mere humanity, is he advanced enough to take on such formidable enemies and win?





About PJ Manney

Interview with PJ Manney, author of (R)EVOLUTION - June 5, 2015
PJ Manney is a former chairperson of Humanity+, the author of "Empathy in the Time of Technology: How Storytelling is the Key to Empathy," and a frequent guest host and guest on podcasts including FastForward Radio. She has worked in motion-picture PR at Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures, story development and production for independent film production companies (Hook, Universal Soldier, It Could Happen to You), and writing for television (Hercules--The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess). She also cofounded Uncharted Entertainment, writing and creating pilot scripts for television. Manney is a culture vulture and SF geek, and the daughter and mother of them, too. When not contemplating the future of humanity, she is a mother, wife, PTA volunteer and education activist in California.

Twitter @PJManney

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - (R)EVOLUTION by P J Manney


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - (R)EVOLUTION by P J Manney


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.



P J Manney

(R)EVOLUTION
Phoenix Horizon 1
47North, June 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 544 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - (R)EVOLUTION by P J Manney
Scientist Peter Bernhardt has dedicated his life to nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter on the atomic scale. As the founder of Biogineers, he is on the cusp of revolutionizing brain therapies with microscopic nanorobots that will make certain degenerative diseases become a thing of the past. But after his research is stolen by an unknown enemy, seventy thousand people die in Las Vegas in one abominable moment. No one is more horrified than Peter, as this catastrophe sets in motion events that will forever change not only his life but also the course of human evolution.

Peter’s company is torn from his grasp as the public clamors for his blood. Desperate, he turns to an old friend, who introduces him to the Phoenix Club, a cabal of the most powerful people in the world. To make himself more valuable to his new colleagues, Peter infuses his brain with experimental technology, exponentially upgrading his mental prowess and transforming him irrevocably.

As he’s exposed to unimaginable wealth and influence, Peter’s sense of reality begins to unravel. Do the club members want to help him, or do they just want to claim his technology? What will they do to him once they have their prize? And while he’s already evolved beyond mere humanity, is he advanced enough to take on such formidable enemies and win?

Interview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015


Please welcome Steve McHugh to The Qwillery. Prison of Hope, the 4th novel in the Hellequin Chronicles, was published on April 14th by 47North.



Interview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Steve:  It’s lovely to be here. I’ve written all my life, from when I was very young, but it wasn’t until the birth of my first daughter, ten years ago, when I was 25 that I began to take it seriously. Haven’t really looked back since then.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Steve:  A bit of both, really. I tend to plot out the main story, character arcs and know what big things need to happen, but everything else happens as it happens. If I did too much plotting, I’d only ignore it, and if I did none, my 130,000 word books would be double that.



TQ:  Describe Prison of Hope (Hellequin Chronicles 4) in 140 characters or less.

Steve:  It’s an action-packed, Urban Fantasy about a 1600 year old sorcerer who has to find the Titan king, Cronus, before he can start a civil war.



TQ:  Tell us something about Prison of Hope that is not in the book description.

Steve:  It’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. It’s certainly got the most brutal fights in it, but also the most humor and in some instances outright geekiness in it.



TQ:  What inspired you to write the Hellequin Chronicles? What appealed to you about writing dark Urban Fantasy? In you opinion, what makes an Urban Fantasy dark?

Steve:  I always loved mythology and magic, and knew I wanted to write Urban Fantasy. I’d read Kelley Armstrong, Jim Butcher and the like and knew I wanted to work in that genre.

I think the violence makes it’s dark. And not just the perpetrated violence. Nate has the ability to be as nice and calm as anything one moment, flick a switch, and then get hurt people badly. And he’s the good guy. He knows that there’s a darkness inside him, he knows that if he lets it out people will die, and he’s constantly trying to balance being a better friend to those he cares about, and ensuring that if anyone messes with them, then he will descent upon them like the apocalypse.



TQ:  Tell us about the magic system in the Hellequin Chronicles.

Steve:  There are a few different types of magic. There’s witch magic, which we’re introduced to in book 4, which is when a human access magic through the use of runes, which in turn begins to eat at that person’s life force.

And then there’s sorcerer’s magic. Sorcerers are born with an innate ability to use magic (although it doesn’t manifest until their teens). Sorcerer magic falls into two categories. The first is elemental, and it’s the one all sorcerers learn at a young age. From Fire, Water, Air and Earth, a sorcerer will learn two, but can never learn the opposite of what they know, so no one can have Fire and Air or Water and Earth.

The second category is called omega magic and only the most powerful sorcerers can use it. It consists of Shadow, Light, Matter and Mind. Nate, the main character, isn’t powerful enough to use these, in fact very few are.

Apart from these, some sorcerers can also merge their elements into a different magic, so fire and air becomes lightning. That’s explored in book 4.

The problem with magic is that it’s a living thing, it wants to be used, and any sorcerer using too much will begin to hear it telling them how they should allow the magic to take over, how it will show the sorcerer just what he could do if he just allowed it to. The physical manifestation of the magic is called a nightmare. And anyone becoming one is put to death.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Prison of Hope?

Steve:  Lots of research on Germany, both in the build up to the Olympics in 1936 and today. Also various types of nerve gas, and the exceptionally complicated lives of various Greek gods… yeah, it’s not exactly a laugh a minute with those two.



TQ:  In Prison of Hope, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? In the Hellequin Chronicles which character has surprised you the most?

Steve:  Nate is always the easiest, he’s lived in my head for a decade. Tommy the werewolf, and Nate’s best friend, is easy too… mostly because he’d basically me in a lot of ways. Except the werewolf bit.

The hardest was Cronus. Getting that complete arrogance that comes with being incredibly powerful, and the total disregard for anyone except his mission was quite tricky.

Tommy’s teenage daughter Kasey is always the one who surprises me. She’s fourteen and saved her father and Nate in a previous book by standing up to something terrifyingly evil. And in every book I put her in, she does something that shows how much she’s changing between stories. I love writing Kasey because I know for a fact that she will do something to surprise me at some point.



TQ:  Which question about Prison of Hope do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Steve:

So far we’ve seen a lot of Greek and British mythology, do you plan on using others?

A great question. Book 4 has a lot more characters from Greek Mythology, but also some from Roman. In fact over the next few books, we’ll start to see more and more characters from different mythologies from Norse to Japanese.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Prison of Hope.

Steve:

“I think a toy of me with a real spinning sphere of death, is an unlikely action figure.”

“So far I’ve gone a few years without tearing anyone’s head off for pissing me off. It’s going well.”



TQ:  What's next?

Steve:  Well book 5, Lies Ripped Open, is out in Aug. I’m currently writing a science fiction book, and then once that’s done I’ll be writing a book I’ve had plans for, for about a decade called Chimera. Very much looking forward to it.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Steve:  Thanks for having me.





Prison of Hope
Hellequin Chronicles 4
47North, April 14, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 512 pages

Interview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015
Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades.

Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance.

Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.

Prison of Hope is the fourth book in the highly acclaimed and action-packed dark urban fantasy series, the Hellequin Chronicles.





Interview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015
Steve McHugh is the author of the popular Hellequin Chronicles. The fourth book, Prison of Hope, is out on April 14th. He lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.







Blog  ~  Twitter @StevejMchugh  ~  Facebook





Previously

Crimes Against Magic
Hellequin Chronicles 1
47North, September 17, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 420 pages

Interview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015
Book 1 in the Hellequin Chronicles.

How do you keep the people you care about safe from enemies you can’t remember?

Ten years ago, Nate Garrett awoke on a cold warehouse floor with no memory of his past—a gun, a sword, and a piece of paper with his name on it the only clues to his identity. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his magical abilities to become a successful thief for hire.

But those who stole his memories aren’t done with him yet: when they cause a job to go bad and threaten a sixteen-year-old girl, Nate swears to protect her. With his enemies closing in and everyone he cares about now a target for their wrath, he must choose between the comfortable life he’s built for himself and his elusive past.

As the barrier holding his memories captive begins to crumble, Nate moves between modern-day London and fifteenth-century France, forced to confront his forgotten life in the hope of stopping an enemy he can’t remember.



Born of Hatred
Hellequin Chronicles 2
47North, September 17, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 480 pages

Interview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015
There are some things even a centuries-old sorcerer hesitates to challenge…

When Nathan Garret’s friend seeks his help investigating a bloody serial killer, the pattern of horrific crimes leads to a creature of pure malevolence, born of hatred and dark magic. Even with all his powers, Nate fears he may be overmatched. But when evil targets those he cares about and he is confronted by dire threats both old and new, Nate must reveal a secret from his recently remembered past to remind his enemies why they should fear him once more.

Born of Hatred, set in modern London with historical flashbacks to America’s Old West, continues the dark urban fantasy of Crimes Against Magic, the acclaimed first book in the gritty and action-packed Hellequin Chronicles.



With Silent Screams
The Hellequin Chronicles 3
47North, February 18, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 466 pages

Interview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015
His name is Nathan Garrett, but he’s also known as Hellequin. And murdering one of his friends and trying to blow him up is a good way to get this centuries-old sorcerer’s full attention…

An old friend’s dead body, a cryptic note, and an explosion that almost costs him his own life propel Nate headfirst into a mystery involving a new threat from an old foe. Now he must piece together the connections between a grisly series of tattooed murder victims, an imprisoned madman, a mysterious alchemist, and a deranged plot to usurp the throne of the hidden realm of Shadow Falls, rival to the power of Avalon.

Can Nate avert the coming slaughter, or will he become the latest to fall in this clandestine war?

With the story careening between modern-day New York and Ontario and 1977 Maine, With Silent Screams continues the gritty and action-packed mix of urban fantasy and ancient mythology that mark Steve McHugh’s popular Hellequin Chronicles.

Interview with Camille GriepInterview with Marko KloosInterview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Here & There by Joshua V. ScherInterview with Robert MaselloInterview with Camille Griep, author of Letters to Zell - July 1, 20152015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2015 WinnerInterview with PJ Manney, author of (R)EVOLUTION - June 5, 20152015 Debut Author Challenge Update - (R)EVOLUTION by P J ManneyInterview with Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles - April 15, 2015

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