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2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2013


It's time for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for October 2013!





Since Cover Wars was so much fun as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, we're doing it again for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge. Each month you will be able to vote for your 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 2013 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. Cover artist/illustrator information is provided when I have it.

I'm using Blogger's poll widget because it's easier for everyone. I'll keep an eye on the poll for anomalies.
















Cover art by John Harris.





















Interview with Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch 1 ) - October 1, 2013


Please welcome Ann Leckie to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Ancillary Justice, Ann's debut novel, is published today by Orbit. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Ann a Happy Publication Day! You may read Ann's Guest Blog - Who are you? And how do you know who you are? - here.



Interview with Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch 1 ) - October 1, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Ann:  Thanks for having me!



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Ann:  I've actually been writing on and off since grade school. In high school I actually got up the courage to send something out--to Twilight Zone Magazine--and received my first ever rejection letter. For years I thought (sometimes fondly, sometimes despairingly) about the possibility of being a Real Published Writer, but didn't write very much. College, in particular, seemed to drain a lot of the fiction-writing energy out of me. Though just after college I did send one story out to True Confessions--I just wanted to see if I could do it. I read True Confessions and True Romance until my eyes bled, and then I produced some kind of approximation of what I'd just read. It actually sold, which was pretty exciting, but the process had been so unpleasant I couldn't bring myself to do it again. After that I decided it wasn't worth spending what free time I had writing something I didn't really enjoy reading.

When I had my first child, for the first time in my life I was sitting at home for long periods of time with almost no one to interact with besides a tiny, non-verbal person who spent most of their time asleep, eating, or crying because they were tired or hungry. I love my kids, and love being with them, but tiny babies are not terribly intellectually stimulating. In desperation I began looking for things to do that would keep my mind from liquefying. One of those things was NaNoWriMo, and once I'd won my first NaNo, I decided that that was a good time to stop wishing, and really try the writing thing in earnest.



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

Ann:  Hmm. I'm sure I do have quirks--it would be very odd if I didn't--but I'm not sure one springs to mind. I know I (mostly) can't listen to music with English words while I write, my theory is that it engages the same part of my brain that's trying to make sentences.

I also find that when I'm stuck, the one thing that's most likely to work is if I go to the library--a university library is best, though I'm lucky to be spoiled for choice of libraries, where I am--and pick a (nonfiction) section and pull anything off the shelf that seems intriguing. Generally, after I've read enough--or happened across the right thing--I can move forward again.

I have occasionally advised other writers to try this, when they've said to me that they were stuck, and most of the time I get that "Right, Ann, I'm not going to tell you how ridiculous that is because you're my friend" look.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Ann:  Oh, a pantser. Though very often I know a general arc--I know where I'm starting, I know more or less where I intend to end up (if I'm very lucky I know a scene or two of the ending) and maybe a few landmarks on the way. Usually, while I'm working on one scene, the next couple are taking shape in the back of my mind.

I know there are people who outline everything before they start writing, down to number of scenes and what happens in them, all the way from beginning to end, and then they sit down and fill in their outline. I believe they really exist, because people have told me they work that way, but I'm not sure I quite understand how anyone can do that. If nothing else, why bother outlining if you already know that stuff? I'd just go ahead and write it. But everyone's process is different, and there's no wrong way so long as your way works for you.



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

Ann:  The Internal Critic. That horrible little voice that says "This is stupid, you're stupid, your writing is stupid, you're wasting your time, you're a failure, why are you even bothering, you can't write, this is stupid..."

It's that voice that stopped me for a long time. Doing NaNo showed me I could write past that, and the results would actually be kind of okay, or at least not anything like what the Internal Critic was telling me they would be.

So, now I know I can write past it. But I haven't shut the voice up, not really. I'm not sure I ever can, entirely, but I know that I can let it sit in a corner and mutter to itself and it won't hurt me. It gets louder at certain times--important junctures in a plot, and often about three quarters of the way through--and sometimes I actually tell it out loud to shut up because yes, I know it sucks, but I'm going to write anyway. I only do that in my basement, though, not at the coffee shop!



TQ:  Describe Ancillary Justice in 140 characters or less.

Ann:  Breq was a Radchaai ship AI. Now she only has 1 human body & 1 goal: to revenge herself on the many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

(That was hard!)



TQ:  What inspired you to write Ancillary Justice?

Ann:  I'm not sure it was one thing, really. The story kind of arose out of the bits of worldbuilding I was playing with.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Ancillary Justice?

Ann:  Mostly I read history and anthropology. Also some psychology and some physiology and neurology--I knew that Justice of Toren would have a very specific, quantitative view of what was going on with its officers, and that meant I needed to at least in my own mind understand what happens physically when someone feels strong emotion, for instance. I also, at one point, could tell you all the different sorts of bridges there were and why they're constructed the way they are, and could drive around town going, "Suspension...that's a cantilever bridge..." It's mostly gone now. I only needed it for one scene.

But history and anthropology are always good, and are often the areas I read in when I'm stuck and looking for a way forward.



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

Ann:  Breq/One Esk/Justice of Toren was definitely the hardest character to write. For one thing, there's a problem with using "I" accurately when you're someone who's got dozens of bodies. For another, she's really very physically different at different stages of the book--one body, a unit of twenty bodies, a whole ship. And a whole ship with hundreds of eyes, ears, and hands, seeing, hearing, doing hundreds of things all at once. It was a while before I had even the first idea of how to approach that.

Everyone else, even the characters who I'd otherwise have said were the most difficult, seemed fairly easy after that!



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

Ann:  There are several I'm quite proud of, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be the bridge scene. The bridge is a simple beam bridge made entirely of glass, stretching across a canyon three kilometers deep. A glass bridge ought to collapse under its own weight, of course, but this one doesn't, nobody's quite sure why. I can't say much about the scene without spoiling, but there's...a fraught conversation that happens on the bridge, and it's very much a turning point in the story.



TQ:  What's next?

Ann:  Next is book 2, Ancillary Sword. And after that, Ancillary Mercy. After that--I'm not sure, it's too far into the future.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ann:  Thank you so much! It's been fun. :)






About Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice
Imperial Radch 1
Orbit, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch 1 ) - October 1, 2013
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose--to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.


Cover art by John Harris.





About Ann

Interview with Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch 1 ) - October 1, 2013
Photo by MissionPhoto.ORG
Ann Leckie has published short stories in Subterranean MagazineStrange Horizons, and Realms of Fantasy. Her story “Hesperia and Glory” was reprinted in Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2007 Edition edited by Rich Horton.

Ann has worked as a waitress, a receptionist, a rodman on a land-surveying crew, and a recording engineer. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband, children, and cats.




Website  ~   Twitter @ann_leckie  ~  Pinterest  ~  Google+


Guest Blog by Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice - September 6, 2013


Please welcome Ann Leckie to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Ancillary Justice, Ann's debut novel, will be published on October 1, 2013 by Orbit.



Guest Blog by Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice - September 6, 2013




Who are you? And how do you know who you are?

Some questions look simple, almost pointless. On the surface, it's obvious who you are. "I'm Jane Doe," you say, and your friends and neighbors and family all say, "Yes, I recognize her, she's Jane Doe." You know, without thinking, what's you and what's not you--your body is you, and all the things inside, and the mind that's doing the thinking (What a stupid question!) and the recognizing (Yes, that's me in the mirror all right.)

But little questions chip away at it. What's your body and what's not? Proprioception--your ability to know where various body parts are and what they're doing at any given moment--has as much to do with what your brain is doing as what the rest of your body is. Losing a limb, famously, doesn't always erase your brain's assumption that it's there and doing something. And super cool (and kind of creepy)--recent research suggests that when you use a tool a lot, your brain actually updates its map of your body to include the tool.

Much more creepily, a head injury, or, say, a stroke can result in Somatoparaphrenia, where the patient insists that some part of their body isn't actually theirs. When asked they might say the arm really belongs to their doctor, or to their dead parent.

Similar in some ways, but not exactly the same, is Alien Hand Syndrome:

In this paper, Goldstein described a right-handed woman who had suffered a stroke affecting her left side from which she had partially recovered by the time she was seen. However, her left arm seemed as though it belonged to another person and performed actions that appeared to occur independent of her will.

The patient complained of a feeling of "strangeness" in relationship to the goal-directed movements of the left hand and insisted that "someone else" was moving the left hand, and that she was not moving it herself.

Except, of course, she was moving it herself. Who else would be?

And that's not the only way messing with the brain can mess with the sense of identity. Strokes or brain damage can sometimes cause Cotard's Delusion, where the patient is convinced that they're actually dead. Or there's the case of Suzanne Segal, who describes her experience herself in her book Collision with the Infinite: A Life Beyond the Personal Self:

"I lifted my right foot to step up into the bus and collided head-on with an invisible force that entered my awareness like a silently exploding stick of dynamite, blowing the door of my usual consciousness open and off its hinges, splitting me in two. In the gaping space that appeared, what I had previously called 'me' was forcefully pushed out of its usual location inside me into a new location that was approximately a foot behind and to the left of my head. 'I' was now behind my body looking out at the world without using the body's eyes.

Things didn't stay that way. Eventually her entire sense of herself disappeared. There was a body, that did things and said things, and even thought things, and people recognized that body as Suzanne, but there was no self there, no identity. She did not exist. She died in her forties of a brain tumor, which is a bit suggestive.

Incidentally, one of the things I find very valuable about Ms Segal's account is that it's just that--a first person account of her own experiences. Very often we're reading case studies or essays by doctors or researchers whose assumptions can filter or distort the view they're giving us. Ms Segal had her own assumptions, and her own filters, yes, but she's left us her own story in her own voice. It's important to have that, a woman telling her own story and not just a summary, a case study. An oddity.

The thing is, while the experiences of split-brain patients, stroke victims, or people like Suzanne Segal are extreme, they demonstrate something about typical brain function. Identity is fragile. Your sense of who you are is rooted in your brain, and if the way those parts of your brain works changes, so will your sense of you.

The narrator of my novel Ancillary Justice is an artificially intelligent ship, the troop carrier Justice of Toren. The vast majority of those troops are ancillaries--human bodies slaved to the ship's AI, arms and legs--and eyes and voices--for the ship. They have no identity of their own, they are the ship.

The narrator of my novel Ancillary Justice is a twenty-body unit of ancillaries.

The narrator of my novel is a single ancillary, separated from the rest of the ship, from the other bodies that used to be part of it.

Who is my narrator? How would it be possible to lose your own identity that way, and what would it be like to have an identity that stretched over tens, hundreds, even thousands of bodies? To lose all of them and be left with only one? I realized pretty quickly that this would be a difficult character to write, and in my quest for information that would help me, I discovered just how tenuous our identity is. We often behave as if the question of who anyone is has an obvious answer. But when you look close, you realize it doesn't.

But Ancillary Justice isn't meant to be deep or philosophical. It's meant to be a space opera, with all the shiny space opera things I could fit into it. It's just, once you start asking questions like, "So who is this person, anyway?" it's kind of hard to stop.






About Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice
Imperial Radch 1
Orbit, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Guest Blog by Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice - September 6, 2013
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose--to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.


Cover art by John Harris.





About Ann

Guest Blog by Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice - September 6, 2013
Photo by MissionPhoto.ORG
Ann Leckie has published short stories in Subterranean MagazineStrange Horizons, and Realms of Fantasy. Her story “Hesperia and Glory” was reprinted in Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2007 Edition edited by Rich Horton.

Ann has worked as a waitress, a receptionist, a rodman on a land-surveying crew, and a recording engineer. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband, children, and cats.




Website  ~   Twitter @ann_leckie  ~  Pinterest  ~  Google+

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - April 28, 2013



2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - April 28, 2013


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the 3 newest featured authors for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.





Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice
Orbit, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

[Cover forthcoming]
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose--to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.





Jaime Lee Moyer

Delia's Shadow
Tor Books, September 17, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - April 28, 2013
It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.






Jay Posey

Three
Legends of the Duskwalker 1
Angry Robot Books, July 30, 2013 (US/Canada)
August 1, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - April 28, 2013
The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more.

But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantle of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Three For All | Apocalyptic Wasteland | A Journey Home | Fear the Weir ]



2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2013Interview with Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch 1 ) - October 1, 2013Guest Blog by Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice - September 6, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge Update - April 28, 2013

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