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Review: Seeders by A.J. Colucci


Seeders
Author:  A.J. Colucci
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, July 15, 2014
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $26.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781250042897 (print)
Review Copy:  eARC provided by the Publisher

Review: Seeders by A.J. Colucci
George Brookes is a brilliant but reclusive plant biologist living on a remote Canadian island. After his mysterious death, the heirs to his estate arrive on the island, including his daughter Isabelle, her teenage children, and Jules Beecher, a friend and pioneer in plant neurobiology. They will be isolated on the frigid island for two weeks, until the next supply boat arrives.

As Jules begins investigating the laboratory and scientific papers left by George, he comes to realize that his mentor may have achieved a monumental scientific breakthrough: communication between plants and humans. Within days, the island begins to have strange and violent effects on the group, especially Jules who becomes obsessed with George’s journal, the strange fungus growing on every plant and tree, and horrible secrets that lay buried in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Isabelle to realize that her father may have unleashed something sinister on the island, a malignant force that’s far more deadly than any human. As a fierce storm hits and the power goes out, she knows they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

A.J. Colucci masterfully weaves real science with horror to create a truly terrifying thriller, drawing from astonishing new discoveries about plants and exploring their eerie implications. Seeders is a feast of horror and suspense.



Qwills Thoughts

Seeders is the second novel by A.J. Colucci. Like Colucci's first novel, The Colony (killer ants), it's a science-based thriller, which makes the events feel frighteningly plausible. Colucci slowly ramps up the dread, there is terrific foreshadowing, and a suitably beautiful and isolated setting gone wrong.

The characters, Isabelle, her sons Luke and Sean, Jules Beecher (and more) are all distinct individuals with different reactions to what is happening on the island. It is interesting to see how each of them handles (or not) the events that take place. Colucci slowly unveils what is really going on, which ratchets up the suspense. I had several "don't go into the woods!" moments as things spiral out of control. It's not often that I want to shout at characters in a novel.

The underlying science regarding plant communication is taken to the extreme in a shocking, yet seemingly plausible way. This is the construct upon which the novel hangs and it is very well done. There is plenty of gore as things and people become more and more dangerous on the island, but often enough Colucci gives you the idea of what is going on and lets you fill in the horrific rest. That the gore is sometimes so matter of fact makes it incredibly more frightening.

Underneath the horror, suspense and dread, I found a message about how humans mistreat the planet. Seeders has me looking at plants in a new light ...and has me wondering what they think of me.

Seeders is a marvelous novel with well drawn characters (not all of them likable), terrific pacing, crisp writing, plenty of action, and a thought provoking eerie story. Get Seeders and read it with the lights on, but not near any of your potted plants. I can't wait to see what A.J. Colucci is going to make me afraid of next!


The View From Monday - July 14, 2014


Happy Monday! Hope everyone is getting a lot of reading done. I'm getting my house ready for some renovations which has cut into my reading time a bit!


The View From Monday - July 14, 2014


There are 4 debuts this week:

Traitor's Blade (Greatcoats 1) by Sebastien de Castell;

Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir;

Echo Lake by Letitia Trent;

and

Tentyrian Legacy (Tentyrian Legacy 1) by Elise Walters.


From formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors:

Red Rising by Pierce Brown will be published in Trade Paperback;

Seeders by A.J. Colucci;

and

Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence 3) by Max Gladstone.



July 15, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Half a King Joe Abercrombie F - Shattered Sea 1
Awaken (e) Lori Adams PNR - The Soulkeepers 2
Shifter's Claim Part II (e) A.C. Arthur PNR - Shadow Shifters
Little Dead Man Jake Bible H/Z/PA
Red Rising (h2tp) Pierce Brown SF - The Red Rising Trilogy 1
Knight Avenged Coreene Callahan PNR - Circle of Seven 2
Traitor's Blade (D) Sebastien de Castell F - Greatcoats 1
Seeders: A Novel A. J. Colucci SF
Winds of Salem (h2tp) Melissa de la Cruz UF - Witches of East End 3
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-first Annual Collection Gardner R. Dozois (ed) SF - Anthology
Elderwood Manor (Kindle e) Christopher Fulbright
Angeline Hawkes
H
Full Fathom Five Max Gladstone F - Craft Sequence 3
Overlord David L. Golemon SF/Th - Event Group Thrillers 3
The Book of Life Deborah Harkness UF - All Souls Trilogy 3
Elegy on Kinderklavier Arna Bontemps Hemenway F/SF - Collection (Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature)
The Outsorcerer's Apprentice Tom Holt F/Hu
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - The Official Movie Novelization Alex Irvine SF
Fortune's Rising Sara King SF - Outer Bounds 1
Fist of Demetrius (h2tp) William King SF - Warhammer 40,000: The Macharian Crusade 2
Red As Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer (Expanded Edition) Tanith Lee FT
Black Rook (e) Kelly Meade PNR - Cornerstone Run Trilogy 1
Invisible Beasts (D) Sharona Muir F/S
The House of Small Shadows Adam Nevill H
The Causal Angel Hannu Rajaniemi SF - Jean Le Flambeur 3
The Heavens Rise (h2tp) Christopher Rice F/P/H
Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks Justin Richards SF - Doctor Who
Help for the Haunted (h2tp) John Searles Sus
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows Tim Siedell SF - Star Wars
Red Winter Dan Smith Sus
The Crusader Road Michael A. Stackpole F - Pathfinder Tales
Echo Lake (D) Letitia Trent H
Last Orders Harry Turtledove AH - War That Came Early 6
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2 Gordon Van Gelder (ed) F/SF - Anthology
Tentyrian Legacy (D) Elise Walters F - Tentyrian Legacy 1
World of Trouble Ben Winters SF - The Last Policeman 3



July 16, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Detective Fiction and the Ghost Story: The Haunted Text Michael Cook M/Gh - Crime Files



D - Debut
e - eBook
ed - Editor
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback


AH - Alternate History
F - Fantasy
FT - Fairy Tale
Gh - Ghosts
H - Horror
Hu - Humor
M - Mystery
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
Sus - Suspense
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy
Z - Zombies


Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014


Please welcome A.J. Colucci to The Qwillery. Seeders, Colucci's second novel, will be published on July 15th by Thomas Dunne Books.



Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014



TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Seeders, will be published on July 15th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Colony (2012) to Seeders? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

A.J.:  I think my writing process has changed. For one thing, The Colony took five years to write and I had less than a year to finish Seeders, so I’m definitely a faster writer. It does get easier over time, as you refine your skills and develop a feel for what works and what doesn’t. I always say research is the most time-consuming thing about my work, but as far as challenging goes, that would be the writing itself. Good prose, character development and creating a smooth, linear storyline take a lot of hard work and rewrite. It’s exhausting and can suck the life out of you if you don’t pace yourself.



TQ:  What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Colony came out that you know now?

A.J.:  That it’s important to enjoy all the little successes along the way. I’ve never been the type of person who is satisfied with reaching my goals because there is always the next hurdle and the one after that. So even though finding an agent, getting two books published, two audio books and a German edition have been exciting moments, they’ve also been fleeting. I didn’t take the time to bask in the joy of seeing my reviews in print, the large turnout for my first book signing, having my daughter’s teacher ask me to speak to her class. You have to make a conscious effort to enjoy those moments because after all the time and hard work it takes to write a marketable book, you deserve it.



TQ:  Tell us something about Seeders that is not in the book description.

A.J.:  Book summaries mainly focus on plot, but the real story is in the complex relationships between the characters. I especially loved writing about Luke and Monica, two teenagers trapped on the island who start out as adversaries, but develop a deep friendship. Monica had a difficult childhood and keeps a tough wall up to protect herself. But eventually, partly out of fear for her life, she reveals her true nature to Luke and they’re able to comfort each other during an extremely terrifying experience.



TQ:  What kinds of research did you do for Seeders?

A.J.:  All of the information on plants – their ability to learn, remember, signal each other, attack prey – is based on fact. The most amazing discoveries in plant neurobiology are new and controversial so there are a lot of recent articles on the subjects. I interviewed a few experts in the field and used a plant biologist as a consultant to make sure my facts were correct. The story also touches on some mind-blowing facts about fungi, which we are still learning about, so I interviewed a mycologist at The New York Botanical Gardens who was very helpful and gave me a tour of the herbarium.



TQ:  Both Seeders and The Colony are science thrillers. What appeals to you about grounding your novels in science?

A.J.:  I’m fascinated by science. Each time I read an article or see a documentary on some new creature discovered under the sea, possible life on another planet, or a new theory in quantum physics, my story ideas go nuts. When I hook onto an exciting subject, I submerge myself in research until I’m in a euphoric zone where time slips by quickly. That said, this is not an easy genre to break into. Not only am I a woman in a male-dominated category, I’m one of the few science thriller authors who doesn’t have a Ph.D. I think my books sell because of my enthusiasm for the subject matter. You have to write what you love, not write what you know.



TQ:  In Seeders, which character was most difficult to write and why? Which character surprised you the most?

A.J.:  Isabelle was a tough nut to crack, but then my main protagonist is usually the hardest to write. She is almost always a woman who is strong, yet slightly damaged, and I have a hard time not putting myself in her place. It’s important to keep a certain distance from your characters, so through most of the book she remained rather two-dimensional, while everyone around her developed unique personalities. I was halfway through the book when I suddenly saw her fully-formed, and understand her on a deep level. Then I went back to make her whole.

I think Jules surprised me most, and he certainly has the biggest character arc. He was a mild-mannered scientist who valued self-control and, although I knew he was headed towards insanity, I didn’t realize just how far he would go. Being stranded on an island with someone like Jules is what makes the book so scary.


TQ:  Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Seeders.

A.J.:  It’s more than a line or two, but one of the creepiest parts of the story is when the two teenagers discover a body on the island, and it’s the first time we realize that something very strange is going on:
       The man wore the remains of a gray jumpsuit, stiff and faded from the elements. He was beginning to collapse at the center. Flies buzzed over the abdomen that had turned into a puddle of dark soup, and they hovered over the rotting face, landing on perches of bone.
       “Luke,” Monica’s voice was small and shaky. “Please, let’s go back.”
       There was a hole in his forehead, about an inch in diameter. Luke thought for a moment. “It looks as though he’s been shot in the head. I think he was murdered.” He got on his knees and leaned over the body. “There’s something in his hand, or what’s left of it.” He reached down to the nearly skeletonized fingers, clasped around an object the size of a baseball.
       “Don’t touch it,” Monica pleaded.
       Luke took hold of some fuzzy strands and tugged at the thing until it was free of the bones. It spun around and the winking face of a baby stared up at him. “It’s a doll’s head.”


TQ:  What's next?

A.J.:  I’m working on a few projects. One is another science thriller but I’m also finishing up a mystery and a crime novel. I’d like to explore other genres. Shake things up a little. Keep things fresh.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

A.J.:  Anytime!





Seeders
Thomas Dunne Books, July 15, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014
George Brookes is a brilliant but reclusive plant biologist living on a remote Canadian island. After his mysterious death, the heirs to his estate arrive on the island, including his daughter Isabelle, her teenage children, and Jules Beecher, a friend and pioneer in plant neurobiology. They will be isolated on the frigid island for two weeks, until the next supply boat arrives.

As Jules begins investigating the laboratory and scientific papers left by George, he comes to realize that his mentor may have achieved a monumental scientific breakthrough: communication between plants and humans. Within days, the island begins to have strange and violent effects on the group, especially Jules who becomes obsessed with George’s journal, the strange fungus growing on every plant and tree, and horrible secrets that lay buried in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Isabelle to realize that her father may have unleashed something sinister on the island, a malignant force that’s far more deadly than any human. As a fierce storm hits and the power goes out, she knows they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

A.J. Colucci masterfully weaves real science with horror to create a truly terrifying thriller, drawing from astonishing new discoveries about plants and exploring their eerie implications. Seeders is a feast of horror and suspense.





About A.J.

Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014
Photo by Julia Colucci
A.J. Colucci was born in the Bronx and raised in Larchmont, a suburb outside of New York City.

"My stories combine cutting-edge science with the fast pace of a thriller," said Colucci, whose second novel will be coming out in spring 2014 from St. Martin's Press. "I like to write about nature because it can be a brutal place—kill or be killed—but it's also filled with a sort of beauty and logic that makes you wonder which species are truly evolved. Humans have a tendency to separate themselves from everything non-human. We consider ourselves above nature, not part of it. I think it's important to recognize what we have in common and gain a better understanding of all living creatures that share this planet."

The Colony was given a starred review by Publishers Weekly, noting, "Colucci's exciting thriller debut...balances scares and science nicely. Michael Crichton fans will hope that this is but the first of many such outings from the author's pen."

A.J. spent 15 years as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and writer for corporate America. Today she is a full-time author who lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and a couple of slightly overweight cats.

A.J. is a member of International Thriller Writers.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @ajcolucci  ~  Goodreads


2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014


Here are upcoming books for some of the authors who were featured in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.


Madeline Ashby

Company Town
Angry Robot Books, September 30, 2014 (US/Can and eBook)
    October2, 2014 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook
Cover Art by Erik Mohr

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
They call it Company Town – a Family-owned city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes.

Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline.

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability – serial killer? Or something much, much worse..?

File Under: Science Fiction


Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository

Books-A-Million : IndieBound




Steve Bein

Disciple of the Wind
Fated Blades 3
Roc, April 7, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages
Cover Art by Chris McGrath

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
LETHAL JUSTICE

When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even if she doesn’t have proof. She urges her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator—an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge, as well as her best chance of fighting back.

Left on her own, and armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop a terrorist mastermind. But going rogue draws the attention of an underground syndicate known as the Wind. For centuries, they have controlled Japanese politics from the shadows, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends—relics like Mariko’s own sword and the iron demon mask whose evil curse is bound to the blade. Now the Wind is set on acquiring Mariko.

Mariko is left with a perilous choice: Join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her….





Stephen Blackmoore

Broken Souls
Eric Carter 2
DAW, August 5, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 272 pages
(description from Author's website)
Cover Art by Chris McGrath 

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte. Necromancer Eric Carter’s return to Los Angeles hasn’t gone well, and it’s about to get even worse.

His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.

While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers, and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but this guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.

Now Carter has to change the game—go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or the manifestation of Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.

Everything is trying to kill him. Nothing is as it seems. If all his plans go perfectly, he might survive the week.

He’s hoping that’s a good thing.





Kristen Callihan

Evernight
Darkest London 5
Forever, August 26, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
Once the night comes . . . 
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.

Love must cast aside the shadows
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.


Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository

Books-A-Million : IndieBound




Amanda Carlson

Red Blooded
Jessica McClain 4
Orbit, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
Jessica is going to Hell.

After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn't have the power to stop.

Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast -- new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be... or she will never make it out alive.

Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository

Books-A-Million : IndieBound




A.J. Colucci

Seeders
Thomas Dunne Books, July 15, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
George Brookes is a brilliant but reclusive plant biologist living on a remote Canadian island.  After his mysterious death, the heirs to his estate arrive on the island, including his daughter Isabelle, her teenage children, and Jules Beecher, a friend and pioneer in plant neurobiology. They will be isolated on the frigid island for two weeks, until the next supply boat arrives.

As Jules begins investigating the laboratory and scientific papers left by George, he comes to realize that his mentor may have achieved a monumental scientific breakthrough: communication between plants and humans. Within days, the island begins to have strange and violent effects on the group, especially Jules who becomes obsessed with George’s journal, the strange fungus growing on every plant and tree, and horrible secrets that lay buried in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Isabelle to realize that her father may have unleashed something sinister on the island, a malignant force that’s far more deadly than any human. As a fierce storm hits and the power goes out, she knows they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

A.J. Colucci masterfully weaves real science with horror to create a truly terrifying thriller, drawing from astonishing new discoveries about plants and exploring their eerie implications. Seeders is a feast of horror and suspense.





Max Gladstone

Full Fathom Five
Craft Sequence 3
Tor Books, July 15, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
Cover Art by Chris McGrath

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 2014
On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can't stop it first.

Full Fathom Five is the third novel set in Max Gladstone's addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead





2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR!

It's time for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for COVER OF THE YEAR!




As part of this year's Debut Author Challenge I thought it would be fun for you to choose a favorite cover from each month's debut novels. Now the 12 monthly winners are pitted against each other for you to choose the 2012 Debut Novel Cover of the Year.

Voting will be open for 2 weeks instead of the usual 7 days.







January

Cover artist - Michael Komarck





February

Cover created by Amazing15





March

Cover created by Amazing15





April

Cover created by Joey Hi-Fi





May

Cover created by Aleta Rafton





June

Cover created by Sparth





July







August

Cover design - James Iacobelli.





September

Cover art - David Palumbo





October

Cover art - Chris McGrath





November






December










2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2012 Winner

The 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars winner for November is A.J. Colucci'The Colony  with 75% of the votes cast. The Colony was published by Thomas Dunne Books on November 13, 2012.



2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2012 Winner





The final results:

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2012 Winner






The November Debut Covers
2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2012 Winner







Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue in December with voting on the December debut covers and in late December for 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - Cover of the Year!

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2012

It's time for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for November 2012!




As part of this year's Debut Author Challenge I thought it would be fun for you to choose a favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2012 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is released in the US.

You have 3 novels to choose from for November.



















Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony - November 13, 2012

Please welcome A.J. Colucci to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Colony, A.J.'s debut, is published today. Happy Publication Day to A.J.! You may read A.J.'s Guest Blog - Truth is Stranger than Fiction - here.



Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony - November 13, 2012



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

A.J.:  Thanks for inviting me, Sally.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

A.J.:  Probably the way I take notes. I’ve got pads and pencils stashed all over my house and in my car. Ideas strike me at the oddest moments and I often get up late at night and start scribbling in the dark. About half of every book is written in longhand. I don’t know why but there’s something about putting pen to paper that makes the writing deeper, more visceral.


TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

A.J.:  I started reading mysteries as a kid, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and books by Agatha Christie. I’d go nuts trying to solve the mystery before the end. Later, I was really drawn to science and horror and read a lot of King and Crichton. Those books, and novels like Jaws, gave me a sense of what is truly frightening; real-life monsters. A lot of my favorite thriller authors today are people I’ve gotten to know at conferences; James Rollins, Steve Berry, Paul McEuen, Mark Alpert. I’ve met some amazing writers.


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A.J.:  I just finished a 100-page outline of my new book, so I’m definitely going with plotter! I like to know what works in the story and what doesn’t before I start writing, so I can make all necessary changes and not waste time rewriting a novel. The Colony took five years and probably 80 rewrites, and I won’t do that again. Some authors don’t like to know what’s going to happen next, but I think the real excitement comes from bringing the story to life and developing the characters. With an outline, I rarely get writers block.


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

A.J.:  Having to stop. I try to sit down at my computer early in the morning when the kids go off to school and work until they get home. But sometimes life gets in the way and I have to grab an hour of writing here and an hour there, which can be frustrating. It takes me at least twenty minutes to get in the zone, where the words come easily and I’m not aware of anything but the story.


TQ:  Describe The Colony in 140 characters or less.

I think Publishers Weekly summed it up well. “New York City comes under attack from a vicious new species of ant in Colucci's exciting thriller debut…Michael Crichton fans will hope that this is but the first of many such outings from the author's pen.” Okay, it’s a little longer, but what a nice review.


TQ:  What inspired you to write The Colony?

A.J.:  I was watching a Discovery Channel special on killer ants. In the opening scene, army ants swarm a campsite and you can hear a baby screaming from the tent. Of course, the baby was saved, but the program got creepier by the minute. Towards the end, an organized mob of African driver ants plowed over a field killing everything in sight, including the farmers chicken, and I was sold.


TQ:  What sorts of research did you do for The Colony? What is one of the oddest things that you found?

A.J.:  I write about scientific subjects I initially know nothing about, so it’s a challenge. Fortunately I’m a research junkie and don’t mind spending one thousand hours studying things like ant morphology, pheromones and swarm intelligence. One of the oddest discoveries I made was the social parasitism of the slave-maker ant. Once the queen mates, she will fake her own death to entice ants from other colonies to drag her to their nest. Once inside, she’ll kill their queen and roll around in her scent, fooling the other ants taking over the colony. She’ll start laying her own eggs and as her soldiers mature, they emerge to attack other nests, tearing ants apart limb-by-limb and scurrying off with thousands of eggs to be made into new slaves.


TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

A.J.:  Paul was the easiest. I like dual-natured characters at war with themselves. He’s super-intelligent, yet he’s not adept at basic life skills. He has a huge ego, but his confidence plummets when the ants take over the city. He goes through a lot of personal growth, and I think it’s this transcendence that makes him interesting. Kendra was more difficult. I had to fight the urge to make her an invincible super-hero. It was important to me that she was realistic, as a scientist and a human being.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Colony?

A.J.:  Towards the end, Kendra becomes trapped in an air duct with a swarm of angry ants on her trail. She’s painfully claustrophobic like me, and I had to image how it felt to go through that experience. I remembered having an MRI scan years ago and I panicked. My heart was racing and I got dizzy. The doctor actually had to let me out without the scan. Just writing that scene gave me a small anxiety attack.


TQ:  What's next?

A.J.:  I’m going to continue giving nature a voice. I’m intrigued by the idea that other creatures might have intelligence we’ve ignore, simply because we measure intelligence on a human scale. My next book is another science thriller that also deals with nature gone awry. But it’s scarier, darker. It even gives me the creeps.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

A.J.:  Thank you too.




About The Colony

The Colony
Thomas Dunne Books, November 13, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony - November 13, 2012
A series of gruesome attacks have been sweeping New York City. A teacher in Harlem and two sanitation workers on Wall Street are found dead, their swollen bodies nearly dissolved from the inside out. The predator is a deadly supercolony of ants--an army of one trillion soldiers with razor-sharp claws that pierce skin like paper and stinging venom that liquefies its prey.

The desperate mayor turns to the greatest ant expert in the world, Paul O’Keefe, a Pulitzer Prize–winning scientist in an Armani suit. But Paul is baffled by the ants. They are twice the size of any normal ant and have no recognizable DNA. They’re vicious in the field yet docile in the hand. Paul calls on the one person he knows can help destroy the colony, his ex-wife Kendra Hart, a spirited entomologist studying fire ants in the New Mexico desert. Kendra is taken to a secret underground bunker in New York City, where she finds herself working side by side with her brilliant but arrogant ex-husband and a high-ranking military officer hell-bent on stopping the insects with a nuclear bomb.

When the ants launch an all-out attack, Paul and Kendra hit the dangerous, panic-stricken streets of New York, searching for a coveted queen. It’s a race to unlock the secrets of an indestructible new species, before the president nukes Manhattan.

A.J. Colucci's debut novel is a terrifying mix of classic Michael Crichton and Stephen King. A thriller with the highest stakes and the most fascinating science, The Colony does for ants what Jaws did for sharks.




About A.J.

Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony - November 13, 2012
A. J. COLUCCI was born in the Bronx and raised in Larchmont, a suburb outside of New York City. She spent 15 years as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and writer for corporate America. Today she is a full-time author and science geek who spends much of her free time reading stacks of novels, surfing the internet for the latest in technology, or clicking between the Science Channel, PBS Nova, Discovery and National Geographic. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and a couple of zazzy cats. THE COLONY is her first published novel. Visit her online at ajcolucci.com.

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts

There are 3 debuts for November Please note that I use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The November debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.

Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite November cover for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place later this month.




The Colony
Author:  A.J. Colucci 
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, November 13, 2012
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
Genre:  Fictionalized Science
ISBN:  9781250001290 (print)

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts
A series of gruesome attacks have been sweeping New York City. A teacher in Harlem and two sanitation workers on Wall Street are found dead, their swollen bodies nearly dissolved from the inside out. The predator is a deadly supercolony of ants--an army of one trillion soldiers with razor-sharp claws that pierce skin like paper and stinging venom that liquefies its prey.

The desperate mayor turns to the greatest ant expert in the world, Paul O’Keefe, a Pulitzer Prize–winning scientist in an Armani suit. But Paul is baffled by the ants. They are twice the size of any normal ant and have no recognizable DNA. They’re vicious in the field yet docile in the hand. Paul calls on the one person he knows can help destroy the colony, his ex-wife Kendra Hart, a spirited entomologist studying fire ants in the New Mexico desert. Kendra is taken to a secret underground bunker in New York City, where she finds herself working side by side with her brilliant but arrogant ex-husband and a high-ranking military officer hell-bent on stopping the insects with a nuclear bomb.

When the ants launch an all-out attack, Paul and Kendra hit the dangerous, panic-stricken streets of New York, searching for a coveted queen. It’s a race to unlock the secrets of an indestructible new species, before the president nukes Manhattan.

A.J. Colucci's debut novel is a terrifying mix of classic Michael Crichton and Stephen King. A thriller with the highest stakes and the most fascinating science, The Colony does for ants what Jaws did for sharks.





Renegade
Author:  Nancy Northcott
Series:  Protector
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing , November 6, 2012 (eBook)
December 18, 2012 (Trade Paperback)
Price:  $2.99 (eBook), $17.99 (print)
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
ISBN:  9781455598878 (print)

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts
SHE FOLLOWS THE RULES

As the Collegium council's top sheriff of the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn't just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious traitor wanted by the authorities suddenly risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why.

HE BREAKS EVERY ONE OF THEM

As a mage, Griffin is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, they're both left running for their lives-from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible Collegium mole.





Silhouette
Author:  Dave Swavely
Series:  Peacer
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, November 13, 2012
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
Genre:  Science Fiction/Thriller
ISBN:  9781250001498 (print)
(Fiction Debut)

2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 Debuts
Minority Report meets Blade Runner as a man must solve his daughter's murder only to find that the trail leads right back to himself in Dave Swavely's Silhouette, the first of The Peacer Series

A post-quake San Francisco is ruled by a private corporation called the Bay Area Security Service. Its founder, Saul Rabin, is revered by many as the savior of the city, but by others he is feared and loathed as a fascist tyrant. And because of the cutting-edge antigravity technology being developed by his company, this controversial figure is about to become the most powerful man in the world.

To his protégé, Michael Ares, the old man is a mysterious benefactor whom he respects and admires. But when Michael's daughter and best friend are brutally murdered, he follows a trail of evidence that leads dangerously close to home. Closer than he could ever imagine.

A future world of aerocars, net glasses, and neural cyberware provides the backdrop for this timeless tale of good and evil, revenge and love, infamy and destiny. Fans of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell will love this page-turner filled with thought-provoking images of dark shapes which, despite their pain and power, could never blot out the light that surrounds them.

Guest Blog by A.J. Colucci - Truth is Stranger than Fiction - October 11, 2012

Please welcome A.J. Colucci to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Colony, A.J.'s debut, will be published on November 13, 2012.


Guest Blog by A.J. Colucci - Truth is Stranger than Fiction - October 11, 2012


Truth is Stranger than Fiction

by

A.J. Colucci
 
      The Colony, my debut novel, is sometimes categorized as science fiction. It’s actually fictionalized science –a small but growing genre made popular by the late, great Michael Crichton. Often referred to as “science thriller,” these novels combine real-life scientific theories and facts with the high-speed action and suspense of a thriller. Whether the antagonists are cloned dinosaurs, self-replicating nanobots, or alien spores invading earth, what makes these stories so interesting is that they’re possible.

      The Colony is about a supercolony of ants that attack Manhattan, which sounds pretty sci-fi if you’re reading the jacket, but just about everything in the book is based on true science and technology, as well as the actual capabilities of real killer ants. The protagonists, two divorced entomologists brought together to save the city, are both at the top of their field. That meant I had to at least give the impression of knowing everything about ants. So I started my research in the non-fiction section of the library, then moved on to myrmecology text books and scientific journals, studying ant morphology, pheromones, swarm intelligence, and interviewing several entomologists who helped me decipher the technical jargon. I’m a research junkie and must have spent a thousand hours on the internet while writing the first draft.

      Within six months I felt like I had about as much working knowledge of ants as a second-year grad student. More importantly, I discovered that these insects were more bizarre than any monster I could dream up. Here are just a few ant facts that prove truth is stranger than fiction:

  • Fire ants are attracted to electrical systems, and have been a leading cause of traffic light failures in many parts of the southern United States.
  • Driver ants in Africa sweep the forest floor in columns of 22 million and are the only known ant to attack people with the intention of killing them for food. They sometimes enter the nose and mouth of their prey and asphyxiate them to death.
  • A queen slave-maker ant will fake her own death, enticing ants from other colonies to drag her to their nest. Once inside, she kills their queen, rolls around in her scent and takes over the colony. She lays her own eggs and as her soldiers mature, they emerge to attack other nests, tearing their victims apart and scurrying off with thousands of eggs to be made into new slaves.
  • In Australia, Yellow Crazy Ants killed tens of millions of animals by spraying formic acid into their eyes and leaving them blind.
  • In the Amazon, a new species of fungi turns ants into zombies. A week after being infected, ants enter a "zombie-like" state. The fungus then grows out of the head of the ant, releasing spores into the air, which rain down onto unsuspecting ants.
  • The largest termite mound ever found is 41 feet tall.
  • Every worker ant in a colony is female – the only job of the males is to fertilize the queen.
  • Army Ants live in temporary nests that they form by linking their bodies together. These living nests protect the queen inside.
  • It is estimated that the weight of all ants on earth is equal to the weight of all humans.

      How can you not write about ants after reading that? What we know from books like Jaws and Jurassic Park is that real-life monsters can make a story more terrifying than creatures from our imagination. Ants are scary, no doubt about it. Most of the comments I get from readers focus on the attack scenes, how realistic they feel. Here is an excerpt from the first attack in my novel:

“…Cries of agony were muted behind the clear plastic shower curtain as Jerrol sat slumped at the bottom of the tub, groaning in wet clothes and sneakers, as heavy steam engulfed the room. The insects held tight to his legs from sock to knee. Their three-hook claws pierced his shins, stinging again and again… The pain was excruciating; mandibles biting and filling their jaws with meat. Jerrol hunched over his knees, digging fingernails deep and scratching away layers of flesh. A few ants spun down the drain in a river of bloody water, but most were burrowing farther into the wounds. Small knobby bumps moved under the skin of his kneecap where black tunnels of ants were visible as they fed and crawled freely about. A searing heat pulsed from the side of his left foot where a tremendous amount of blood poured into the tub. He peeled back the top flap of his sock with frantic shaking fingers. Underneath were the tattered remains of flesh and sinew, and a hole the size of a quarter where white ankle bone protruded from the center.”

      Creepy, right? You’re swatting at your leg, aren’t you? The truth might not always be stranger than fiction, but stories are certainly scarier if we think they can happen. The universe is amazing; from insects, mammals and ocean life to the stars, planets and beyond. So if you ever find yourself contemplating what to write about, you might head for the backyard. Vampires and zombies are nothing compared to what a swarm of ants can do to a grasshopper. And if you want to get a close-up view of these fascinating insects, check out the antcam on my website: http://ajcolucci.com/antcam.php



About The Colony

The Colony
Thomas Dunne Books, November 13, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by A.J. Colucci - Truth is Stranger than Fiction - October 11, 2012
A series of gruesome attacks have been sweeping New York City. A teacher in Harlem and two sanitation workers on Wall Street are found dead, their swollen bodies nearly dissolved from the inside out. The predator is a deadly supercolony of ants--an army of one trillion soldiers with razor-sharp claws that pierce skin like paper and stinging venom that liquefies its prey.

The desperate mayor turns to the greatest ant expert in the world, Paul O’Keefe, a Pulitzer Prize–winning scientist in an Armani suit. But Paul is baffled by the ants. They are twice the size of any normal ant and have no recognizable DNA. They’re vicious in the field yet docile in the hand. Paul calls on the one person he knows can help destroy the colony, his ex-wife Kendra Hart, a spirited entomologist studying fire ants in the New Mexico desert. Kendra is taken to a secret underground bunker in New York City, where she finds herself working side by side with her brilliant but arrogant ex-husband and a high-ranking military officer hell-bent on stopping the insects with a nuclear bomb.

When the ants launch an all-out attack, Paul and Kendra hit the dangerous, panic-stricken streets of New York, searching for a coveted queen. It’s a race to unlock the secrets of an indestructible new species, before the president nukes Manhattan.

A.J. Colucci's debut novel is a terrifying mix of classic Michael Crichton and Stephen King. A thriller with the highest stakes and the most fascinating science, The Colony does for ants what Jaws did for sharks.




About A.J.

Guest Blog by A.J. Colucci - Truth is Stranger than Fiction - October 11, 2012
A. J. COLUCCI was born in the Bronx and raised in Larchmont, a suburb outside of New York City. She spent 15 years as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and writer for corporate America. Today she is a full-time author and science geek who spends much of her free time reading stacks of novels, surfing the internet for the latest in technology, or clicking between the Science Channel, PBS Nova, Discovery and National Geographic. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and a couple of zazzy cats. THE COLONY is her first published novel. Visit her online at ajcolucci.com.
Review: Seeders by A.J. ColucciThe View From Monday - July 14, 2014Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 20142012 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 13, 20142012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR!2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2012 Winner2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2012Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony - November 13, 2012 2012 Debut Author Challenge - November 2012 DebutsGuest Blog by A.J. Colucci - Truth is Stranger than Fiction - October 11, 2012

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