The Qwillery | category: Angry Robot


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Caroline Hardaker, author of Composite Creatures

Please welcome Caroline Hardaker to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Composite Creatures is published on April 13, 2021 by Angry Robot.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Caroline a very Happy Book Birthday!

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

Caroline:  When I was very young, maybe 6 or 7, I wrote a series of mystery stories involving a group of kids, solving crimes. The main character was named Lime, and looked strangely like me… It was all very Famous Five inspired – lots of caves, smugglers, and picnics in the woods.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Caroline:  Definitely a hybrid. I couldn’t just write without a rough idea of where I was going, a nd I couldn’t write creatively with a really strict structure of where I needed to get to! During the writing process unexpected things happen and new themes appear. So I tend to plan an outline but amend it as I write the first draft. Most often, the ending is completely different to how I planned it but I quite like that, it means the story has taken on a life of its own.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Caroline:  It’s knowing where to stop, and feeling at peace with a finished manuscript. I could easily copy edit and proofread until my eyeballs fall out, tweaking syntax and word choices. I suppose that’s the poet in me, I’m always trying to get the rhythm of a sentence ‘just so’. But there comes a point – especially when you’re working to a publisher’s deadlines – when you have to turn away and say “I think it’s done now.” I still find that hard. A part of me doesn’t even want to open the book now because I’ll still be searching for things to improve. At some point I’ll look, and hopefully I’ll be as at peace as I’d like to be.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Caroline:  Everything! Every book I read influences me in some way, from graphic novels through to the classics. Even when I haven’t really enjoyed a book there’s still something to learn from them, whether it’s plotting or even just some new vocabulary.

But I’m also very much inspired by films. I’m a very visual person, and imagine the story playing out like a film when I’m writing it, complete with camera angles and close up zooming shots of characters faces. I often make music playlists for different stories and play those on repeat while I write too, and they instantly get me into the right mood. It drives my husband mad though!

TQDescribe Composite Creatures using only 5 words.

Caroline:  Thoughtful. Haunting. Relatable. Speculative. Shocking.

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

Caroline:  In some ways, I think of the novel as a meditation on introspection and retrospection. The whole story is told by Norah, from an undisclosed time in her later life. She’s telling us things that happened a long time ago, and a reader should wonder WHY she’s even telling us at all.

I’m just so interested in the psychology of memory. How many of our memories are as we recall them to be? And why do we look backwards at all? Who are we trying to convince by replaying these scenes in our heads?

TQWhat inspired you to write Composite Creatures? What appeals to you about writing dystopian fiction?

Caroline:  No matter what I write, it often ends up having a dystopian twist. When I was younger, I wrote a lot of fantasy stories, but when I picked up prose again in recent years I realised that I was far more interested in stories that were based in reality but had a speculative twist. Stories that could be real, or you could imagine happening very soon. Those were the ones that haunted me the longest.

As for what inspired this novel, I was asked to write several science fiction poems for a magazine in Edinburgh and was desperately looking around my living room for ideas. The stories and poems that affect me the most are the ones that twist elements of reality just a little – so that they’re strange but familiar. So I wrote one poem based on my pot plant, one on a tax bill, and then my giant cat waddled in and inspired the poem that ended up becoming Composite Creatures.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Composite Creatures?

Caroline:  I read a lot about modern advances in genetic research and – to a degree – artificial intelligence. The novel takes place in a world poisoned by plastics, so I did a fair amount of online research into the future consequences of microplastic pollution and global warning. Quite a lot of bleak, doom-laden stuff!

Throughout drafting and redrafting, I kept up the research as the scientific landscape changes so quickly. And it’s a good job I did – as it started to look like the direction I was taking Composite Creatures in could almost be a possibility in the near future. But there’s a huge moral question there, and whether humanity goes down that road is still up for debate, thank goodness.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Composite Creatures.

Caroline:  Angry Robot was amazing at getting me involved with the cover design. From initially creating a Pinterest board together to choosing a concept for the cover – I became a real part of the process. Once we knew roughly what we wanted, the team sent me a selection of illustrators to choose from, and when I saw Rohan Eason’s sketchy, twisty, surrealist style I knew he was the one who could bring the cover to life.

The cover does depict something from the novel, yes. It’s more than a single scene, and the reader will recognise it immediately from only a few chapters into the book. It’s a very important place in the story, for sure.

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

Caroline:  The main protagonist and voice of the novel, Norah, was the easiest I’d say. She’s a very everyday woman – in her early thirties, has a relatively dull job, and is just trying to keep her head down and get on with life. She’s relatable. She also struggles with some elements of her past that keep coming back to haunt her, and even though she tries to shake them off, they still follow her wherever she goes.

I wouldn’t like to imagine that I’m anything like Norah, or that I’d make the morally dubious choices she makes, but everything she does is understandable to me. It was easy for me to find reasons for her to justify what she’s doing.

As for the most difficult characters, I didn’t find any of them particularly difficult, but writing about the doctors at the private healthcare organisation had their challenges. It would have been easy to make them seem like cartoon villains, but the truth is that they aren’t. They’re real people too, just like Norah, with families and hopes for the future. They believe what they’re a part of is changing the world for the better. So I had to think about their dual nature whilst interpreting their behaviour through Norah’s eyes.

TQDoes Composite Creatures touch on any social issues?

CarolineComposite Creatures definitely tackles environmental issues in society. The novel explores a future where microplastic pollution and chemical contamination are years ahead of where we are now. The sky is lilac, and the soil burns the soles of your boots. But it’s also a world that functions similarly to our world today, only tweaked to compensate for these things. Through Norah’s eyes, we see how society struggles to relate to nature that poisons us. Imagine – if you lived in a world where wildlife was mostly found stuffed in community museums, how would you think about life that wasn’t human? Would you see it as just as worthy as ours, or less so?

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

Caroline:  The irony is, I really wish they’d ask about the character ‘Nut’ but you’d have to read it first to understand the question, and unless you’ve read it, I can’t really answer it either due to spoilers! But the question would be, “What does Nut look like?” And I’ll have to leave that one there…

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

Caroline:  Here’s an extract from near the beginning of the story…

“Mum looked up to the sky for things I couldn’t understand, always through her old binoculars; heavy black things, held into shape by stitched skins. She liked to shock me with little facts, things like, “When I was little, the sky was full of diamonds that you could only see at night,” and “Me and your Gran used to lie on our backs and watch fluffy clouds go by. You could see shapes in them, and if you asked the sky a question, it sometimes told you the future.” The more stories she told, the less I believed her, and would gently push my hands in to her belly and say, “You’re fibbing, tell the truth.” But Mum would just shake her head so her red curls bounced over her face and promise that it was real, she’d seen it with her own eyes. One night, she even told me that, “the moon used to be as white as a pearl.” At the time, I didn’t know what a pearl was, which seemed to make her sadder. She pulled me to her side and pressed the binoculars to my face. “Keep looking, Norah. Up there in the dark. The birds – they might come back. They might.”

TQWhat's next?

Caroline:  My second poetry collection, Little Quakes Every Day, was published a few months ago, so I’m at the clean slate stage with regards to poetry. After recently watching the film ‘The Lighthouse’ I’ve been getting stirrings to write a collection based on stories from isolated lighthouses around the world. I recently suggested it on Twitter and people seemed very keen to read it, so at some point I’ll be starting on that. It’ll be quite the escapist venture!

I’m currently working on my next novel, which should hopefully be finished later this year. I can’t say too much about it, but it’s a little more surreal than Composite Creatures but is still a haunting piece. I have no idea what readers will think of it, but it’s going to be exciting to find out!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Caroline:  Thank you for having me!

Composite Creatures
Angry Robot, April 13, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook 400 pages
How close would you hold those you love, when the end comes? And what would you do for your own survival?

In a society wher self-preservation is as much an art as a science, Norah and Arthur are learning how to co-exist in domestic bliss. Though they hardly know each other, everything seems to be going perfectly – from the home they’re building together to the ring on Norah’s finger.

But survival in this world is a tricky thing, the air is thicker every day and illness creeps fast through the body. The earth is becoming increasingly hostile to live in.Fortunately, Easton Grove have the answer, a perfect little bundle of fur that Norah and Arthur can take home. All they have to do to live long, happy lives is keep it, or her, safe and close.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Teratoma for One | Nine Lives | Cell Patchwork | Till Death ]
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

About Caroline

Caroline Hardaker is a poet and novelist from the northeast of England. She has published two collections of poetry, and her work has appeared worldwide in print and on BBC radio. She is Writer in Residence for Newcastle Puppetry Festival and is currently collaborating with the Royal Northern College of Music to produce a cycle of songs to be performed throughout the year. She lives and writes in Newcastle.

Website ~ Twitter @carolinehwrites

Interview with Ginger Smith, author of The Rush's Edge

Please welcome Ginger Smith to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Rush's Edge is published on November 10, 2020 by Angry Robot.

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

Ginger:  Hi!

Well, I was about ten when I read The Elfstones of Shanara by Terry Brooks, and I was crushed by the ending (I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but a character that I loved died in what I had felt was a really unfair way). I got so upset and angry that I decided right then and there to write my own novel. That way I could have it end how I wanted it to, and I wouldn't let anyone die at the end! It was a sprawling 300-page hot mess of a fantasy novel, complete with good and evil twin brothers, mages, dwarves and a beautiful princess. I worked on that novel for two or three years when I was between 10 and 13 years old, and I still have it today. It remains unpublished (lol).

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Ginger:  Oh I'm a pantser all the way, but an obsessive rewriter. I usually start with one scene or even several objectives in mind for the story and build from there, layering in all the details like a painter. Unfortunately, this approach requires a lot of editing passes and rewriting, but it works for me.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ginger:  Editing is always a challenge. You really have to step back from your writing to see it clearly, and sometimes that can be very hard to do.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Ginger:  I love hero stories; the transformation of an unknown protagonist into a hero fascinates me. Soldiers returning from war and finding a place in society is another subject that's close to my heart. My father served during the Vietnam War, and the difficulties he went through after he returned home somewhat inspired The Rush's Edge.

TQDescribe The Rush's Edge using only 5 words.

Ginger:  Adrenaline, found family, hero's journey.

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

Ginger:  This is hard because there's a lot that's not in the description, of course. I guess I could tell you a little about vats. Vat soldiers are created and genetically modified in a lab, then placed in artificial wombs full of growth accelerator for four years. When they are the size of a two year-old, the vats are implanted with an interface and educated virtually. At the size of a twelve year-old, they're "born" and begin a standard five years of training. Then when they are seventeen, they go through a year's basic combat training before they become fully active soldiers. They don't have a lot of real-world experience, and that's why they struggle with everyday life when released from service.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Rush's Edge? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Ginger:  My father had tons of space operas and hard sci-fi novels from the 60's-70's around the house, and he let me read whatever I wanted as a kid. We would watch Star Trek and Star Wars together, and those were some of my favorite times. This rich sci-fi/fantasy environment I grew up in shaped what I love to read, and the types of character-rich stories I want to tell.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Rush's Edge?

Ginger:  First, I researched the experiences of soldiers who had been in combat. In several TED talks and articles, Sebastian Junger, a war correspondent, discusses the difficulties soldiers face when they return to "normal" society after war. Junger makes the point that they miss the camaraderie of their fellow soldiers and some of that research was instrumental in developing the bond between Hal and Ty. I also had to do a lot of thinking about the military and governmental structure of the universe I wanted to create. Luckily, my husband is a military historian, so conversations with him were indispensable to crafting the world of the Edge and Spiral.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Rush's Edge.

Ginger:  Oh my goodness, I love my cover so much! I had an amazing artist named Kieryn Tyler who works with Angry Robot. I gave her some ideas here and there, and she came back with a few different designs. When I saw my cover, I knew it was the one. Hal and Vivi are the two characters depicted.

TQIn The Rush's Edge who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Ginger:  Tyce Bernon was probably the easiest for me to write. He's a lot like me: we're both thoughtful and introspective. He is very observant of others and able to see things from someone else's point of view, which helps him understand Hal. Also, he cares deeply for his little found family on the Loshad, and I feel the same for the friends that I call family.

Hal was the hardest to write at first. I had to do a lot of thinking about how he would react to certain situations; being artificially gestated and raised in a vat facility means his life experiences are very different than Ty and Vivi's. While he's a force on the battlefield, he is a bit baffled by the nats in his life, but he's trying to understand. The longer the novel went on, the easier he became to write.

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

Ginger:  I guess I would ask, "What do you hope people will get out of The Rush's Edge?" My initial answer would be that I hope everyone who reads this book has fun. I wanted to write a book that reminded me of seeing the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time… with the same adventure, danger, and tight bond between characters. I hope that the audience comes for the action but stays for the characters as they grow and change throughout the events of the story.

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


#1: [Hal] was beginning to think that maybe loyalty was very different than obedience. Obedience meant you did what they told you because they made you, but loyalty couldn't be demanded. It was given. Given to someone like Tyce.

#2: Vivi fought hard against panicked tears. Seeing Ty down was like watching a sun go out. It was horrifying, but she couldn’t tear her gaze away.

TQWhat's next?

Ginger:  I have a few short stories set in the Edge that I'd like to find a home for. Even though The Rush's Edge is a stand-alone book, I'm working on a sequel to it that will expand on the characters and add more layers to the universe of the Spiral.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ginger:  You're welcome! Thanks so much for having me.

The Rush's Edge
Angry Robot, November 10, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 328 pages
With the help of his commanding officer, a genetically engineered ex-soldier fights back against the government that created him and others like him to be expendable slaves…

Halvor Cullen, a genetically-engineered and technology implanted ex-soldier, doesn’t see himself as a hero. After getting out of the service, all he’s interested in is chasing the adrenaline rush his body was designed to crave. Hal knows he won’t live long anyway; vat soldiers like him are designed to die early or will be burnt out from relentlessly seeking the rush. His best friend and former CO, Tyce, is determined not to let that happen and distracts him by work salvaging crashed ships in the Edge.

Then Hal’s ship gets a new crewmember - a hacker-turned-tecker named Vivi. As they become friends, Hal wonders if he’s got a chance with a natural-born like her. Then on a job, the crew finds a sphere that downloads an alien presence into their ship…

Multiple clashes with the military force Hal and his crew to choose sides. The battle they fight will determine the fate of vats and natural-borns throughout the galaxy. Will they join the movement against the Coalition? What has invaded their ship’s computer? And can there be a real future for a vat with an expiration date?

File Under: Science Fiction [ Toy Soldier | On the Brink | Against the Odds | Stars are Crossed ]
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
 iBooks : Kobo

About Ginger

Ginger Smith has worked as a record store employee, freelance writer, bookstore assistant manager and high school teacher of English. In the past, she has played in many tabletop RPG groups and even run several of her own. She collects vintage toys, sci-fi novels and comic books, as well as mid-century furniture. She currently lives in the southern USA with her husband and two cats, spending her free time writing and watching classic film noir and sci-fi movies.

Website ~ Twitter @GSmithauthor

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire

Please welcome Dan Hanks to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire was published on September 8, 2020 by Angry Robot.

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire

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

Dan:  The very first I can remember, at about age 9, was a straight rip off of the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom mine cart chase, followed by some gruesome attack by the Hoth wampa from The Empire Strikes Back. I was deservedly called out for my copying and didn’t write another story (that I can remember) for years afterwards. However, I’m pretty proud I at least knew I should copy from the best.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Dan:  I’ve tried everything, but I’ve found my groove right in the middle. I like to plot out my structure so I know where the story rises and falls and where the beats roughly need to be. Yet in between these plot points I really prefer to fly by the seat of my pants and give the characters licence to roam. That way the writing process is still exciting, because I have no idea how they will get from A to B, but I know that at the end of the first draft it’s going to be structurally pretty sound. (Usually.)

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Dan:  Twitter. And I’m only half joking, because there are so many distractions and feeds to doomscroll that it’s incredibly difficult to start writing. Once I get those first few words down, it’s okay. But the first step continues to be the trickiest part of the process.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does being a "vastly overqualified archaeologist" influence your writing?

Dan:  I always use the “vastly overqualified archaeologist” title as a bit of a joke, because even with two degrees in the subject I still wasn’t able to earn a long-term career in the field. Mainly because I should have spent my time in an actual field doing the work instead of reading about it.

However, I adored my time studying archaeology and the knowledge I soaked up gave me the confidence to tackle some of the aspects of the subject that lie at the heart of this book. Admittedly, I also spent far too much time studying the more fringe elements of archaeology – flood myths, catastrophes, lost centres of information – which directly influenced the story itself.

In terms of general influences, I’m still in a place where 80s movies are playing a big role. The sense of storytelling fun from that era is something I miss and am trying to channel into my writing.

TQDescribe Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire using only 5 words.

Dan:  Can I go for five unconnected words?

Archaeology Adventure Exhaustion Monsters Seaplane

TQTell us something about Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire that is not found in the book description.

Dan:  Great question! Wow, okay.

The book was originally called ‘Captain Moxley and the Ashes of the Gods’. The team at Angry Robot came up with the current and much better title, but both related to the idea that the end goal of this book – the Hall of Records - is connected to a much wider universe. It’s all about the remnants of empire. And this works on a couple of levels in the book, it’s not just about physical material culture left behind, but ideologies too.

TQWhat inspired you to write Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire?

Dan:  I love Indiana Jones. Grew up with the first three movies and couldn’t wait to see the fourth. I’ve since made my peace with it, but my initial viewing didn’t sit well and prompted me to rather egotistically think I could write my own – so I sat down and wrote a script of Indy 5.

This obviously wasn’t going to go anywhere. So I decided to revise it with new characters and a more twisted and fantastical story, before eventually adapting it into a book and having it evolve even more. And my inspiration behind this rewrite was to create a hero who was far more exhausted and cynical than any I’d seen before in this type of adventure. Someone who also saw the age-old archaeological treasure hunt in a different light. And that someone was Captain Samantha Moxley.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire?

Dan:  This is a fantastical alternate history adventure… so my research was fairly light! I knew I could draw on the archaeological thinking already in my head for that core plotline, so my main concern was trying to convey the 1950s setting in an authentic light (while not distracting from the story). And that was a lot of fun, because it’s a really fascinating era.

I wanted Sam to be a former Spitfire pilot because my grandfather was one and I grew up wanting to be one myself. And although she isn’t drawn from any particular person, there are a wealth of stories of incredible women from the Second World War that I used to give her that stubborn spirit and refusal to bow down in the face of oppression. The brilliant author Tara Moss recently wrote a piece on seven of these women which you should totally take a few minutes to read:

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire.

Dan:  The cover is a dream. Literally, this has been my dream for as long as I’ve been writing. I love those old school film poster style illustrations and the artist here, Dan Strange, is an absolute master of them. I saw his work initially on a book by S.A. Sidor called Fury From the Tomb and fell in love with that so much (the book is also AMAZING). So when Angry Robot suggested Dan should be my cover artist I was so incredibly happy. And this cover is perfect. I couldn’t have wished for anything better.

Does it depict anything from the novel? Yes! In that old school style you’ve got the main cast, you’ve got a couple of hints about set pieces, you’ve got a hint of a badder baddie than the bad guy you can see, and there is an artefact too. Also some weird, undead hands at the sides, which I guess you might see too…

TQIn Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Dan:  Sam was the most fun. Writing someone who reacts badly to corrupt and shady governments and is tired of everyone’s crap – as most of us are in 2020 – was a joy. Especially because she gets to fight back. Wish fulfilment? Maybe.

The hardest… I’m not sure. I had to take more time with one of the ‘bad guys’, a military man called Colonel Arif, because I wanted to give him a level of righteousness which we can understand. Yes, he’s bad. But also… he’s right. He’s justified in his hatred of western interference in Egypt and his distrust of the American Agents (and Sam). He also has an arguably noble intention of restoring his country’s position as a shining light on the international stage. So that took a few versions and some brilliant guidance from my editor Eleanor Teasdale to get right.

TQDoes Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire touch on any social issues?

Dan:  Absolutely. Storytelling versions of archaeology have always made it seem romantic. Travelling the world, picking up mystical artefacts, and taking them back to your country to show ‘the world’. Yet this idea is rooted in colonialism. Those aren’t our artefacts to take away from their cultural context or display in our countries for a select group of outsiders to ogle.

I was taught old school archaeology. I appreciate the importance of studying our past and I LOVE museums as places of learning and safeguarding material culture. But thanks to some powerful voices out there, I now understand how the execution of these concepts has been – and can still be – problematic. So this issue is explored in the book as a clash of thinking between our cynical hero and her archaeologist sister.

TQWhich question about Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


“This story reminded me of that old click and point adventure game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Was that intentional?”
“Why yes, thank you so much for noticing! I loved that game when I was a teenager and it played a huge part in influencing some of the story and the general feel of lots of this book.”

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire.

“Our gaze into history should always be humble and respectful and undertaken with a light touch.”

I love this quote from Sam’s older professor friend Teddy, not only because it’s pretty much how I feel, but also because it comes shortly before the destruction of a whole site of ancient artefacts and tons of fighting. Best laid plans and all that.

TQWhat's next?

Dan:  I’m heading towards the end of a middle-aged-parent-ghostbusters-at-Christmas story right now, as well as working on something else which is a huge, exciting project. So I’m busy writing other books and finally in a position where I can give them my full focus, after many years of writing around day jobs and freelance gigs.

As for future Captain Moxley adventures… I’d love to write more. Let’s see what happens. :)

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dan:  Thanks so much for having me and for so many wonderful questions!

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 394 pages

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
An ex-Spitfire pilot is dragged into a race against a shadowy government agency to unlock the secrets of the lost empire of Atlantis…

In the post-war peace of 1952, ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley should be done fighting bad guys. Instead, she finds herself dragged into a clash with a mysterious US government agency known as The Nine, when they take an interest in the work of Jess, her archaeologist sister.

Pursued by The Nine, former Nazis, and a host of otherworldly monsters, Sam must fight to protect her sister and uncover two hidden keys which promise to unlock the greatest archaeological find in history: the fabled Hall of Records.

From the skies over New York, to the catacombs of Paris, and finally to the ruins of Ancient Egypt, her quest takes her into the ashes of the past in search of the dying embers of an empire….and a discovery that could transform the world, or bring it to a terrible end.

File Under: Fantasy  [ Top Women | Riff-RAF | Pyramid Scheme | Bash the Fash ]

About Dan

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
Dan is a writer, editor, and vastly overqualified archaeologist who has lived everywhere from London to Hertfordshire to Manchester to Sydney, which explains the panic in his eyes anytime someone asks “where are you from?”. Thankfully he is now settled in the rolling green hills of the Peak District with his human family and fluffy sidekicks Indy and Maverick, where he writes books, screenplays and comics.

Website  ~  Twitter @dan_hanks

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist

Please welcome Chris Panatier to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Phlebotomist was published on September 8, 2020 by Angry Robot.

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist

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

Chris:  Thanks for asking me onto your blog! As far as my first fiction piece, this would have been during grade school, when I was perhaps ten or eleven years old. I recall some slapped together knight and dragon fantasies based on some Dungeons & Dragons I’d played. I never wrote more than three or four pages as I discovered that writing is hard and I was lazy. As a kid I was definitely more attracted to the idea of writing rather than the actual doing of it.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Chris:  I am a total pantser when I sit down to write the words, but it would be inaccurate for me to say I do that to the exclusion of plotting. I do an immense amount of plotting before I begin the book, though I write down very little. I don’t like to feel hemmed in or committed to ideas and writing them down seems to do that. The premise, character, and plot ideas sit in my brain like a nebula and I just let them coagulate on their own. At some point, when the general direction becomes clear, I’ll sit down to write. Things are never fully fleshed out before I start, as the process tends to do this for me.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Chris:  Valid self-doubt. Writers like to talk about imposter syndrome. Some of it is likely attributable to the particular neuroses that accompanies writing. I think it has something to do with the empathy and observational awareness we’re constantly employing in order to understand characters and people. Writers are already wired, I think, to be hypervigilant and overly self-critical. For me, this invariably crops up during the writing process when comparing my imagined story to what actually ends up on the page. They don’t always match no matter how hard I try.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Chris:  Having been a visual artist for so long before I got serious about writing, I knew I loved creating something from nothing. Turns out I enjoy building with words even more than I do with pencil, ink, or watercolor. And I want to push that creativity as far as I possibly can while still maintaining a coherent story. I am influenced and inspired by writers who do that. I think about Cameron Hurley, Philip K. Dick, Jeff Vandermeer, N.K. Jemisin, and Tamsyn Muir right off the bat.

TQ Describe The Phlebotomist using only 5 words.

Chris:  Oppression. Blood. Grandmother. Vengeance. Fun!

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

Chris:  There’s a murderous teenager in it.

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

Chris:  I was (and am) very angry about income inequality and the lengths to which the ruling class will go to keep the rest of the population under its boot. I decided that marrying a near future science fiction story with an apt fantasy trope was the best way to make my point. Science Fiction has always been such a great way to explore social and political issues. Sometimes when you remove events and conflicts from their present context and place them into another setting, they gain clarity. Also, readers’ alliances and prejudices are often challenged.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Phlebotomist?

Chris:  Oh, a lot. The society of The Phlebotomist is based upon a government-mandated blood draw called the Harvest and a cash-for-blood exchange called the Trade. There is varying demand for each of the blood types based on their compatibility with potential recipients—so each type fetches a different price. Society is thus segregated by blood type. Since I was creating an economy based on blood, I had to make sure it was scientifically accurate. I did plenty of internet research, bought a Phlebotomist’s Quick Reference Guide (laminated), and reached out to experts in the area. Some even talked to me! Amazing.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Phlebotomist.

Chris:  This cover brings me absolute joy. I wanted it to be hot pink from day one and this thing is more like surface-of-the-sun pink. It’s brilliant. Angry Robot keyed in on doing a vintage medical illustration theme, which I love. I ended up doing the illustration of the heart and lilies. The cover itself has five distinct nods to parts of the story.

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

Chris:  The excommunicated marine long-gun specialist turned blood hacker, ‘Lock’ came most naturally to me. She’s this older woman who is tired of your shit. I had a very specific old friend in mind when I wrote her. Maybe that’s why her distractable manner of speaking—a hybrid tech-slash-frontier gibberish—came so naturally to me. She’s also a bit unhinged. So I relate.

The hardest character to write was the protagonist, Willa. This is interesting because I know who she is. Her personality, brains, values, fears, and motives were all very clear to me from the start. It got hard when she was thrust into a string of increasingly bonkers situations that nobody in history has ever actually been subject to. Figuring out how a real person would react when dropped into one of these scenarios had me doing a lot of trial and error to make sure I got it right.

TQDoes The Phlebotomist touch on any social issues?

ChrisThe Phlebotomist is an allegory for a number of social issues. Segregation is front and center. Interestingly, this is an issue that many people (including a number of Justices on our Supreme Court) might believe is no longer relevant, but I think it’s more relevant than ever. The story also grapples with wealth inequality, urban food deserts, privacy, and consent.

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


Q: Did you ever entertain any other potential titles for the book?
A: I briefly considered calling it The Evens. If you read it, you’ll see why!

TQ Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Phlebotomist.


“Holy shit, Willa, you look like Beelzebub,” said Lock. “Rub a little of that inside Llydia so it looks like you brained yourself genuinely.”

TQWhat's next?

Chris:  I have a few short stories coming out soon. I’m always plugging away on those as it’s nice to start and finish something when novels take so long. As for novels, I took a flyer on this absolutely insane premise and I’m almost done with the first draft. It’s so nuts that I don’t know if I’ll ever even show it to anyone. Sort of The Matrix + Monsters, Inc., but with angels and they’re all drunk on turpentine. Maybe I’m drunk on turpentine.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chris:  Thank you very much!

The Phlebotomist
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 344 pages

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist
In a near future where citizens are subject to the mandatory blood draw, government phlebotomist Willa Wallace witnesses an event that makes her question her whole world…

To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was instituted to pass blood to those affected by radiation. But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Government blood contractor, Patriot, rewards you generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give the most, gets the most in return.

While working as a reaper taking collections for the Harvest, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete technique that could rebalance the city. But in her quest to set things into motion, she uncovers a horrifying secret that cuts to the heart of everything.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Blood Will Out | This Might Hurt a Bit | Be positive | Bloody Nightmare ]

About Chris

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist
Chris Panatier lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. He plays himself on Twitter @chrisjpanatier.

Website  ~  Twitter

Facebook  ~  Tumblr


Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise

Please welcome John P. Murphy to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Red Noise was published on July 7, 2020 by Angry Robot.

Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise

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

John P. Murphy:  Oh gosh. Does anyone have an answer to this that isn't horribly embarrassing? I wrote pretty much constantly when I was a kid, and it all kind of blended together. Some kind of generic epic fantasy thing, with airships. The airships bit, at least, I remember. I was a huge JRPG fan starting in the early 90s - we got a copy of Final Fantasy with Nintendo Power magazine, and I was absolutely hooked on it. I pretty much immediately started writing stories that were really very thinly veiled copies, driven mostly by people having cool names rather than personalities.

The first piece I remember letting people read was probably a one act play. I was really into theatre in high school, and we were allowed to write skits and short plays to put on for credit. I'm not sure if this was the first one, but I remember writing one about a writer who handcuffed himself to his desk to make himself finish on deadline, and all his terrible drafts were acted out in front of him. That was pretty fun; I hadn't thought of that in years.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

JPM:  These days I'm a plotter. Part of that is that I have so little time to write, so that I spend time during the day planning out what I'm going to write, and can then generally speed through it. I don't often finish according to plan, though: if it's going an interesting direction, I keep at it, and then revise the plan. But what I need most is to know the ending, especially the emotional payoff - I need that north star if the plot is going to work, and for me I can't just pants that.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JPM:  Finishing! I pretty reliably hit a rough spot at about the two-thirds spot in almost everything I write. By that point I've hit most of the things I hadn't fully thought through, the shine of the idea has worn off, and I'm convinced that nobody will ever like it. I've abandoned a few drafts at that stage, but mostly it just takes a lot of energy and motivation to get through. I bribe myself with good whiskey and home-roasted coffee.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

JPM:  This one had a lot of influences. I'm kind of a cultural magpie. I've been really enjoying some of the more recent space-based science fiction lately; I love the way Aliette de Bodard's science fiction paints a different kind of space-faring future than we're used to seeing. I read a lot of old-school noir in preparing for this, like Chandler and Hammett, and newer more horror-oriented noir like Cassandra Khaw. I was obviously pretty strongly influence by samurai flicks and the grittier style of Western - think Clint Eastwood, not John Wayne. A fair bit of anime, especially Cowboy Bebop and Planetes. Firefly, too. The Fallout games likely had an influence on the aesthetic. Heck, there's even a Dwarf Fortress reference in there, but if anyone gets that I'll be amazed.

TQDescribe Red Noise using only 5 words.

JPM:  Space samurai flick with explosives.

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

JPM:  So, if you'll just look over there at that fascinating bird, I'm definitely not re-reading my own book description right now. Oh, it flew away.

Maybe this is implied in the description, but I did want to say that the plot of Red Noise isn't so much about being a badass, as it's about being clever. The Miner possibly could take down all the baddies in a frontal assault, but I don't think it would be as fun a story if she did. I've always found Odysseus more interesting than Achilles; Loki more interesting than Thor. So she can fight, yeah, but it's more important that she can think.

TQWhat inspired you to write Red Noise? What appeals to you about writing Space Opera?

JPM:  Well, to go way, way back, I was introduced to samurai films back in college, and then wrote essays on them during a study abroad in Japan twenty years ago. I just love that aesthetic. I'd watched a lot of Westerns growing up, since my dad was a fan, and they felt like both a missing piece and a distillation of the form. Yojimbo in particular struck me, and I did a paper on it and the later movies that were based on it, as well as going back and looking at its own antecedents, particularly Hammett's Red Harvest. I decided early on that I wanted to take my own stab at the genre, specifically in space, but it took the 2016 election and the use of social media to rile up so much of society against itself to really spur me to write it.

As for Space Opera in particular... It's such a wonderful sandbox for storytelling, and I think there are good reasons it has such overlap with Space Westerns. There's a tolerance for handwaving, for one thing. Readers will appreciate as much science as you feel like throwing in, but the focus is on the story more than on the tech. That's a comfortable place to be for someone like me, who can't help but geek out a bit but who still would rather write about Sturm und Drang than scribble out another doctoral thesis.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Red Noise?

JPM:  Most of my research was non-technical, trying to get the feel right. I especially did research into how I wanted to write the action. I hadn't written much before, and I tend to dislike it in a lot of books that I read -- I find it too drawn-out, too focused on the wrong things. I watched a bunch of Westerns and samurai movies, and reread some books that I thought did action well. I found that the fights that worked best for me were short and punchy (sorry! sorry!) and at their best were pulling double-duty in illuminating character. I'm pretty happy with how the fight scenes turned out, and how they differ from the Miner's point of view versus someone like Screwball.

I also did some research into nuclear weapons, and I kind of wish I hadn't. Some of these things are hard to forget.

TQDoes having a PhD in Engineering and a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering help or hinder your writing of Red Noise?

JPM:  A little of both. As a background thing, knowing the shape of how things are likely to work is a huge help. Understanding how systems interact and how they break helps me fill in the little details that make the world feel a little more real, or rather more realistically broken. Plus having all this miscellaneous knowledge, like how listening devices work or how robotic systems operate. A bigger benefit is knowing how to research, how to come up to speed on new things quickly.

On the other hand, I don't have a lot of interest in writing hard SF. I don't really read it much either, and anyway most of what passes for hard SF narrowly focuses on getting just one field right at the expense of dozens of others. But still I worry a lot about expectations: Are people going to pick up the book knowing I have a PhD and expect all the science to be spot-on? Most of the time I try not to write stuff I know is absolute nonsense, but sometimes I have to shrug, quietly apologize to my professors, and move on. That's part of the appeal of space opera as a genre, that lessened expectation of rigid correctness.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Red Noise.

JPM:  The cover process was fun, and Angry Robot was so good about it. It's very abstract, just that foil sword piercing the title, with stars in the background, pulled off brilliantly by Kieryn Tyler. I put together a Pinterest board of all these things that I loved in visual design, that the book made me think of. The Criterion Collection DVD covers for Yojimbo and Seven Samurai, for example, even sumi-e paintings. I really enjoy the effect of black and white and red. Kieryn took all that amorphous mess and really ran with it.

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

JPM:  Takata was the easiest to write, and Angelica the hardest, for the same reason: they're the two characters who are most like me. Takata is off to the side, and he gets to pretty much just react to what's going on. His role in the story is to be opinionated and provide a little bit of an outside moral compass. And boy, I can talk. So he was easy to write.

Angelica, on the other hand, has to act and antagonize. To write her, I had her mostly do what would come naturally to me - but as a result, she tended to blend into the background in the early drafts and just sort of exist; then when she acted it would seem to come from nowhere. Forcing myself to double back and think through and make her motivations as clear as the others, especially when she doesn't have that much page time, was hard.

TQDoes Red Noise touch on any social issues?

JPM:  Several of them, some intentionally, some not. It doesn't take much reading to see political parallels, but I'll leave those for the reader. In a way, it's a poor book that doesn't touch on anything important to the author. One of the big questions of the book, though, is the point of argument between Takata and Herrera: what has to come first, justice or peace? The argument is explicit sometimes, but that question was on my mind a lot when writing. It reads differently to me in the summer of 2020 than it did when I handed in the manuscript last year, and I'm pleased by that. I expect it will read differently next year, too.

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

JPM:   "Tell us about the food in Red Noise"

Also JPM:  I'm glad you asked! Eating and drinking is a big part of world building, and I'm such a foodie that I always enjoy those parts of books. Station 35 is way out in the middle of nowhere, muddling through with a combination of local production and cheap shipped-in stuff. After six months of fighting, what's left in the pantry is weird - and kind of prophetic of what's left in my own pantry after a few months of avoiding grocery stores. Staples bought in bulk, the "maybe later" frozen food, and home-grown vegetables that maybe don't look so great. The Miner mostly lives on emergency rations (partly inspired by my own experiments with that Soylent stuff), but one of the characters is trying to run a restaurant, and the other is the universe's worst bootlegger.

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


       “How bad are these nurses?”
       “I caught Skeeve doing what he thought was cocaine off a bedpan.”
       Mills struggled with that sentence and landed on, “Skeeve?”
       “Technically ‘Other Skeeve’ but nobody’s seen Original Skeeve in a while, and if he’s dead, then Other Skeeve feels he inherits because ‘a man has rights’.” Joff’s expression grew haunted. “That is a sentence that has come out of my mouth. I can’t take it back, Arun.”

       “You ever killed anybody?”
       The Miner glanced sideways at her, but couldn’t read anything but idle curiosity. “Some.”
       “How come?”
       She shrugged. “You can’t like everybody.”

TQWhat's next?

JPM:  I'd been working on a near-future thriller, picking up some of the themes I'd been writing about in my novella Claudius Rex (about an AI private detective) but near-future is a bit rough writing these days. I've got a couple short stories in the works, and a fantasy legal thriller that I've been tinkering on for a while now.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JPM:  Thank you for having me! This has been fun!

Red Noise
Angry Robot, July 7, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise
Caught up in a space station turf war between gangs and corrupt law, a lone asteroid miner decides to take them all down.

When an asteroid miner comes to Station 35 looking to sell her cargo and get back to the solitude she craves, she gets swept up in a three-way standoff with gangs and crooked cops. Faced with either taking sides or cleaning out the Augean Stables, she breaks out the grenades…

About John P. Murphy

Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise
John is an engineer and writer living in New Hampshire with his partner and two ridiculously fluffy cats. His previous work, The Liar, was shortlisted for a Nebula Award for Best Novella in 2016. He was a SFWA Director-at-Large until 2018 and is now the Short Fiction Committee Chair. He has a PhD in Engineering and a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Website  ~  Twitter @dolohov

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced

The six works nominated for the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award have been anounced by the judges of the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award and the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust.
  • The Outside by Ada Hoffmann (Angry Robot)
  • Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O'Keefe (Orbit)
  • All Worlds Are Real: Short Fictions by Susan Palwick (Fairwood Press)
  • Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press)
  • The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
  • The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct Press)
First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 10, 2020 at Norwescon 43 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society. Last year’s winner was THEORY OF BASTARDS by Audrey Schulman (Europa Editions) with a special citation to 84K by Claire North (Orbit). The 2019 judges are Thomas A. Easton, Karen Heuler, Mur Lafferty, Patricia MacEwen (chair), and James Sallis.

Ada Hoffman

The Outside
Angry Robot Books, June 11, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced
Humanity’s super-intelligent AI Gods brutally punish breaches in reality, as one young scientist discovers, in this intense and brilliant space opera.

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.

File Under: Science Fiction [ False Gods | Angel Inside | Autistic in Space | Here be Monsters ]

Megan E. O'Keefe

Velocity Weapon
The Protectorate 1
Orbit, June 11, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced
Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O’Keefe.

Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.

However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.

Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.

“Meticulously plotted, edge-of-your-seat space opera with a soul.” —Kirkus

The Protectorate
Velocity Weapon

Susan Palwick

All Worlds are Real: Short Fictions
Fairwood Press, November 5, 2019
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 322 pages

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced
Beautifully crafted, unfailingly strange, and always moving, Susan Palwick's stories shift effortlessly between fantasy and science fiction, magical realism and horror. Here you will encounter aliens, ghosts, and robots, along with a colorful assortment of eccentric  and vulnerable humans. You will see souls trapped in lucite, witness the operations of a magical measuring tape, and watch the oldest woman on a generation ship bequeath a precious Terran relic to a young friend. Collecting tales published in markets such as, Asimov's, F&SF, and Lightspeed, All Worlds are Real also includes three new pieces exclusive to this volume.

Sarah Pinsker

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories
Small Beer Press, March 19, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea is one of the most anticipated sf&f collections of recent years. Pinsker has shot like a star across the firmament with stories multiply nominated for awards as well as Sturgeon and Nebula award wins.

The baker’s dozen stories gathered here (including a new, previously unpublished story) turn readers into travelers to the past, the future, and explorers of the weirder points of the present. The journey is the thing as Pinsker weaves music, memory, technology, history, mystery, love, loss, and even multiple selves on generation ships and cruise ships, on highways and high seas, in murder houses and treehouses. They feature runaways, fiddle-playing astronauts, and retired time travelers; they are weird, wired, hopeful, haunting, and deeply human. They are often described as beautiful but Pinsker also knows that the heart wants what the heart wants and that is not always right, or easy.

Tade Thompson

The Rosewater Redemption
The Wormwood Trilogy 3
Orbit, October 15, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced
The Rosewater Redemption concludes the award-winning, cutting edge Wormwood trilogy, set in Nigeria, by one of science fiction’s most engaging new voices.

Life in the newly independent city-state of Rosewater isn’t everything its citizens were expecting.

The Mayor finds that debts incurred during the insurrection are coming back to haunt him. Nigeria isn’t willing to let Rosewater go without a fight. And the city’s alien inhabitants are threatening mass murder for their own sinister ends…

Operating across spacetime, the xenosphere, and international borders, it is up to a small group of hackers and criminals to prevent the extra-terrestrial advance. The fugitive known as Bicycle Girl, Kaaro, and his former handler Femi may be humanity’s last line of defense.

Tade Thompson’s innovative, genre-bending, Afrofuturist series, the Wormwood Trilogy, is perfect for fans of Jeff Vandermeer, N. K. Jemisin, William Gibson, and Ann Leckie.

The Wormwood Trilogy
The Rosewater Insurrection
The Rosewater Redemption

Sarah Tolmie

The Little Animals
Aqueduct Press, May 1, 2019
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 384 pages

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced
Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, a quiet linen draper in Delft, has discovered a new world: the world of the little animals, or animalcules, that he sees through his simple microscopes. These tiny creatures are everywhere, even inside us. But who will believe him? Not his wife, not his neighbors, not his fellow merchants—only his friend Reinier De Graaf, a medical doctor. Then he meets an itinerant goose girl at the market who lives surrounded by tiny, invisible voices. Are these the animalcules also? Leeuwenhoek and the girl form a curious alliance, and gradually the lives of the little animals infiltrate everything around them: Leeuwenhoek’s cloth business, the art of his friend Johannes Vermeer, the nascent sex trade, and people’s religious certainties. But Leeuwenhoek also needs to cement his reputation as a natural philosopher, and for that he needs the Royal Society of London—a daunting challenge, indeed, for a Dutch draper who can't communicate in Latin.

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga

Please welcome Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Resurrectionist of Caligo was published on September 10, 2019 by Angry Robot.

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga

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

Wendy:  At some point in second grade, I made the leap from “plagiarizing” Misty of Chincoteague to creating an original popup book about a dinosaur with a time machine who befriends a petite dino-fairy…and I can’t say my stylistic tendencies have significantly changed much since then.

Alicia:  Everything I wrote before a certain age is a foggy blank, so all that remains is my high fantasy novel that I started in high school. There was amnesia! There were dark family secrets! And characters introduced only to be killed a few chapters later! It goes without saying it was epic in length.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Wendy:  I am an incorrigible pantser and chaos fairy. Left to my own devices, once I find a character voice that intrigues me, I will chase them around and make them increasingly miserable because their tears bring me great joy.

Alicia:  I’m a pantser who aspires to be a plotter until I actually sit down and start typing and suddenly nothing goes the way I planned in my head.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing together?

Wendy:  Figuring out the lines of demarcation—what’s mine, what’s yours, and in what circumstances may we cross that line? With one exception, all the characters fall into either a “Wendy” or “Alicia” bucket—this determined who had the final say on that character’s voice, motivation etc. While we (usually) drafted our respective POV character’s chapters, we also heavily edited in one another’s sections to ensure the cross-over character voices and overall tone stayed consistent throughout.

Alicia:  Giving up full creative control. It’s something that’s very easy to take for granted, but it’s definitely the most challenging aspect of working together. We have different likes and dislikes, different writing habits, and different ways of attacking the work. So when we set about discovering characters and setting, we constantly need to open ourselves to what the other person wants to bring to the table regardless of whether or not it’s an aspect we naturally would have included on our own.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Wendy:  I have a soft spot for dark, offbeat, obscure lit, especially if it challenges me emotionally, and I do my best to learn from eclectic reading. Writing is how I’ve dealt with past trauma in my life, and so I tend to reach for the biggest, scariest, emotions I can, then inundate my characters with everything I can throw at them. They do the work for me. I find myself writing a lot about death—it’s cathartic.

Alicia:  My influences tend to be mercurial, and they’re never limited to one medium. For instance, this week, I’m absolutely in love with Isak Danielson’s song Power, TwoSetViolin YouTube videos, re-watching episodes of Justified, and reading about the history of safecracking. And all of that is getting baked into what I’m writing at the moment, whether through mood, inspiration, or as research.

TQDescribe The Resurrectionist of Caligo using only 5 words.

Wendy:  magic is fake, hail science! (don’t mind me, I’m just trolling my co-author. #TeamScience)

Alicia:  (I see how it is… #RealMagic) mysterious happenings and unrequited angst

TQTell us something about The Resurrectionist of Caligo that is not found in the book description.

Wendy:  Books are frequently discussed according to their central romantic relationships, but what about other key relationships? One of my personal favorites is Roger’s friendship with a ferocious graveyard-haunting wild child.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Resurrectionist of Caligo?

Wendy:  It all started as a “for fun” writing exercise. Alicia emailed me a letter that began “Dear Snotsniffer” (uh…it’s still in the final draft) and that set the tone for our character’s snarky exchanges around which the entire book is built on. She let me pick the setting (gothic Victorian cemeteries!) and is still regretting that decision.

Alicia:  On a very basic level, I just wanted to try a fun letter exchange writing exercise and somehow managed to convince Wendy to participate as the other half. I actually didn’t go into the project with very many expectations of what it would be.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Resurrectionist of Caligo?

Wendy:  I am fascinated by morbid history, and this book provided ample excuses for procrastination—err, research. I read 200-year-old (digital) copies of The Lancet medical journal to learn bloodletting techniques, collected necropolis photographs, perused poems written to commemorate hangings. In an emergency, I could probably extricate a corpse from a coffin using an old Scottish method…

Alicia:  I wanted the magic to have its root in aquatic life, so I spent a good deal of time exploring different sea creatures—from jellyfish to squids to the mighty pistol shrimp—and their various underwater traits. I also read up on how to address royalty in letters and greetings and how pet names were created within royal families. And then there was the concertina… Despite very few scenes making it through the editing process with the princess actually playing the instrument, I myself watched endless videos and listened to several performances in an attempt to get a feel for how one would play the instrument. I even contemplated buying my own concertina at one point, but fortunately reason prevailed, as I’m sure I’d be even worse at learning the thing than Sibylla is in the book.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Resurrectionist of Caligo.

Wendy:  Our amazing cover artist John Coulthart ( couldn’t have designed a more fitting cover. It features our leads, Sibylla and Roger, who are aptly facing away from each other (they’ve had a falling out from the start). Sibylla has a hand raised, and her ink-magic flows in ribbons around the border. Meanwhile, “Man of Science” Roger holds a skull and stares down his biggest fear. My favorite detail is the central anatomical heart, which I think sums up their strained relationship perfectly.

Alicia:  And if you want to know more, check out this post where the artist specifically discusses the challenge of creating our particular cover:

TQIn The Resurrectionist of Caligo who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Wendy:  Ada the ferocious waif was pretty easy—I subverted the sweet Cosette type and channeled Maddie Ziegler from the Sia music videos. Roger was more challenging in his complexity. Male protagonists in SFF often exude power, logic, and/or sexual appeal. Roger gets the short end of the stick in every department except the soft heart he shields behind a defensive, snarky voice. Since he’s more flawed cinnamon bun than action hero, I couldn’t let him bust heads to solve his problems (and he has many).

Alicia:  For me, the easiest was Harrod, Roger’s naval captain older brother. He’s a straightforward individual and has very defined ways of behaving with the other characters in the book. I didn’t really feel like any character was hard to write so much as almost every character had a challenging rewrite moment/scene. Rewrites tend to require the extras: extra explanations, extra understanding, extra delivery of head canon, which makes them trickier.

TQDoes The Resurrectionist of Caligo touch on any social issues?

Wendy:  Class differences play a big role in the book. Near the bottom of the social hierarchy, Roger has pride but virtually no power, so he rages ineffectually against the system while trying (and failing) to live his life outside it.

Alicia:  There’s a lot of exploration of position and how that position can vary in different contexts. Sibylla, as a princess, has a great deal of power over the vast majority of society in the book, however, within her own family, she has very little freedom or ability to exercise her own will.

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

Alicia:  What’s up with Sibylla’s parents? So glad you asked… It was very important to me when writing Sibylla that she not be the orphaned princess who tragically lost her parents or the horribly mistreated princess suffering under the weight of her nefarious, overbearing parent(s) who wants to take over the world. In many ways, Sibylla’s parents are lovingly absentee, and Sibylla absolutely adores them. Her mother in particular is pragmatic and warm. She genuinely wants her daughter to find happiness but also understands the confines of her royal position. Her advice in the book is easily one of my favorite aspects of a character.

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


“‘Those class differences you harp upon ain’t real!’ Roger shouted. ‘No human is better than another. I’ve cut up enough of ‘em, and we all look more or less the same on the inside. We all rot when we’re dead. A smart man may have a small brain or the other way ‘round. Royals claim their faerie magic, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.’”


“Whether she liked it or not, Roger had turned into one of the most ostentatious writers she’d ever had the displeasure to come across, as in love with his own words as he was with his transgressions.”

TQWhat's next?

Wendy:  Right now I’m working on an odd little story about a put-upon astronaut being stalked by an otherworldly cat, and hopefully I can stick the landing. It’s hard for me to talk about works in progress because they often turn into completely different things by the time—or if—they make it out into the world.

Alicia:  All the things, no seriously… all the things. I keep bouncing around between several projects I equally love. Who will win in the end? Only time will decide.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo
Angry Robot, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga
With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

File Under: Fantasy [ Straybound | Royal Magic | A Good Hanging | Secret Sister ]

About the Authors

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga
Wendy Trimboli grew up in England, Germany and the United States, and learned to speak two languages well enough that most people can understand her. Determined to ignore her preference for liberal arts, she attended the US Air Force Academy then worked as an intelligence officer, which was less exciting than it sounds. These days she has a creative writing MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Colorado with her family, border collie, and far too many books.

Twitter @Bookish_Wendy

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga
Alicia Zaloga grew up in Virginia Beach not liking the beach, and now moves every few years, sometimes to places near beaches. She has a writing degree from Columbia College Chicago, and when she’s not dealing with life’s chores, she collects hobbies: plucking the E string on the bass, producing an alarming number of artistic doodles, and French beading floral bouquets.

Twitter @alicia_zaloga

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse

Please welcome Tyler Hayes to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Imaginary Corpse is published on September 10, 2019 by Angry Robot.

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse

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

Tyler:  When I was ten years old, I wrote a two-page piece of Anne of Green Gables fan fiction about Anne visiting my fifth grade classroom. I think it was a writing prompt, but I don’t remember for sure; I do remember the piece implied I had a crush on Anne and I wound up writing in permanent marker on the paper that I refused to read it aloud in class.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Tyler:  Plotter with pantser tendencies. I world-build and outline meticulously but I find myself skidding and drifting all over the place once I get down to the actual prose. I find I don’t really know a character or a scene until I sit down to write it, and sometimes I discover I’ve thrown a monkey wrench into my own plan.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tyler:  The doubt. Art is very personal and very subjective, and I have an anxiety disorder for added neurochemical fun. I have some days where doing the work is a struggle just because my own brain is telling me that I’m not good enough, that there’s something wrong with the work I’m not seeing. For reasons I’m sure will always be a mystery, it seems to happen most frequently during revisions.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Tyler:  The fiction I read, of course, but also the fiction I watch and the fiction I play. I’m an avid video gamer (mostly Steam with an odd dash of old X-Box and SNES games) and player of tabletop RPGs, and both of those have leaked into my work. My experiences in therapy for anxiety and PTSD and my ongoing time as a part of social justice circles have also left their marks.

If I were to analyze my literary DNA, I’d point to Mike Carey, Raymond Chandler, Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers, and Noelle Stevenson for prose and comics; from TV, Steven Universe; from film, Wes Anderson, Pixar, and Guillermo del Toro; and from video games, Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, Sam and Max Hit the Road, and Silent Hill. I’d give a lot of credit to the narrative beats used in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign and the melancholy world-building of the tabletop RPG Changeling: the Dreaming, too.

TQDescribe The Imaginary Corpse using only 5 words.

Tyler:  Trauma, murder, comfort, healing, imagination. Or “Imaginary stuffed dinosaur fights crime.”

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

Tyler:  For all that it does carry a lot of noir sensibilities, The Imaginary Corpse absolutely rejects the cynicism of noir in favor of hope and empathy. That was a deliberate choice on my part.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Imaginary Corpse?

TylerThe Imaginary Corpse is a stone soup put together out of childhood memories of a game of Let’s Pretend, my experiences working on my own mental health and helping friends deal with theirs, my love of noir style, my desire to tell a story about imagination, and my desire to tell a story about trauma.

TQWhy a triceratops?

Tyler:  Tippy is based on my own childhood stuffed animal, Tippy, who is a plush yellow triceratops. I figured, what better imaginary character to put in the driver’s seat of the narrative than one who had kind of been loved Real already?

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Imaginary Corpse?

Tyler:  A lot of my research came in the form of reading fiction, especially the work of Raymond Chandler, whom I’d always love but hadn’t come back to in a few years. I wanted to make sure I was doing an homage to his wit without just copying his voice or compromising my own. I also did a lot of informal research into trauma, anxiety, healing from abuse, and similar topics.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Imaginary Corpse.

Tyler:  The artist is Francesca Corsini. It depicts a character from the novel in the form of Tippy, but otherwise it is very much an abstract representation of what’s inside -- that particular scene doesn’t occur anywhere. But Corsini’s drawing of him really tells you a lot about who he is: you see he’s a detective in the way he dresses, and his missing eye both clues you in that he’s a stuffed animal and hints at the damage done to him and the other Ideas living in the Stillreal. The clenched fist gives you a sense of human connection, a rooting in the real world, but it’s also off to the side, not the primary focus, just like the Realworld in the narrative. The skewed view of the buildings in the background gets you ready for the dreamlike and weird qualities of the book’s voice, and the colors reference both Fritz Lang’s movie posters and Frank Miller’s Sin City artwork, which help give you some genre and tonal hints.

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

Tyler:  Tippy is the easiest character to write of any character I have ever written. The way he thinks and talks just flows out of me like it was always there. It isn’t even because he sounds exactly like me -- he’s someone separate, but he’s close to my heart.

The hardest character to write was Big Business. I can picture his personality and demeanor just fine, but his way of speaking in business buzzwords was very hard for me, as someone who has only minimal experience with that kind of environment. He required a lot of research and revision.

TQDoes The Imaginary Corpse touch on any social issues?

TylerThe Imaginary Corpse is, on one level, about mental health, so it very much touches on the ways in which people get traumatized and abuse, and the ways in which we can help and hinder each other in our separate journeys to get better. It’s also in a lot of ways a response to today’s political climate, though early drafts started before the absolute horror show that was 2016. I needed to write a world where being kind was the answer, so I could try to remember it’s the answer here.

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


Q: If The Imaginary Corpse weren’t a book, what form of entertainment would it be?

A: An adventure game in the vein of The Longest Journey or Thimbleweed Park. The bizarre logic, the disparate settings, the mystery thread, it all feels like it’d play naturally as a series of puzzles with some solid graphics work and voice-acting. Plus a video game would be a great place to capture all the different aesthetics of all the various Ideas.

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


“Big Business flashes his real smile – the big, terrifying one. It fills the entire bottom of his face, his cheeks folding up into a flying V to accommodate all those professionally polished teeth. I’ve seen that smile on one other being in my entire memory. It was a T-rex.”

“The entrance is a single black door with a bouncer in front of it, a pile of muscles shoved into a coat. She looks at me with eyes just begging for a good fight, quickly decides I’m not going to give it to her, and goes back to glowering at the world like it owes her money. I keep my quip to myself, and head inside.”

TQWhat's next?

Tyler:  Next up, I’m working on a possible sequel for The Imaginary Corpse. I’m also working on a contemporary fantasy we’ve been pitching as Lucha Underground meets Winter Tide, and I have a love letter to Dungeons & Dragons on deck for whenever I get the time for it.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tyler:  Thank you so much for having me!

The Imaginary Corpse
Angry Robot, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse
A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends.

Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?

Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into the Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.

File Under: Fantasy [ Fuzzy Fiends | Death to Imagination | Hardboiled but Sweet | Not Barney ]

About Tyler

Interview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary Corpse
Tyler Hayes is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Northern California. He writes stories he hopes will show people that not only are we not alone in this terrifying world, but we might just make things better. His fiction has appeared online and in print in anthologies from Alliteration InkGraveside Tales, and AetherwatchThe Imaginary Corpse is Tyler’s debut novel.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @the_real_tyler

Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle

Please welcome Keren Landsman to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Heart of the Circle was published on August 13, 2019 by Angry Robot.

Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle

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

Keren:  I've been writing since I learned how, but I think my first try at writing something that I meant to publish was a trilogy about a 16 years old girl (guess how old I was then...?) whose brain was transplanted into a robot's body, and was sent back in time to fight criminals. It was awesome, and I had planned to do a trilogy, but sadly quit after 20 pages... I still love that story since it was the first time I tried writing "for real".

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Keren:  I think everyone is a hybrid of sorts. I'm mostly a discovery writer, and I almost always start writing with just a sense of the main character and the world it lives in. It causes me to get stuck a lot of times, and I throw away tons of pixels, but it's the price you pay when you don't plan.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Keren:  The writing itself! I love it when it's easy, but usually finding the correct phrase or the perfect word can take hours and even days. Putting the words, one after the other, is agonising for me. I hate editing too. The story is done, the pain is over, but then I have to dig into it again and correct everything I missed. I prefer the planning (which I rarely do) and the talking about how awesome the story is going to be (before I actually write it).

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Keren:  The world. My family. Great books and short stories that I had the immense pleasure to read. Terrible books and short stories that taught me how not to write. Talking with writers. Talking with non writers. Working as a physician in a free STD clinic. Working as an epidemiologist in the ministry of health. Talking online with vaccine-hesitant parents. Reading the news. Talking to people with different life experience than mine. But mostly, editing. I was extremely lucky to work with great editors throughout the years who helped me to shape my writing and taught me how to better utilise my tools.

TQDescribe The Heart of the Circle using only 5 words.


Out. For. A. Circle.
(An edited Buffy quote)

TQTell us something about The Heart of the Circle that is not found in the book description.

Keren:  It originally started as a short story. I aimed for a 15000 word story about am equal rights movement and magic. But the characters were so much fun, and I just couldn't stop wondering what will happen next, that I just continued writing.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Heart of the Circle? What appeals to you about writing Contemporary / Urban Fantasy?

Keren:  I love urban fantasy and have done ever since I first read Narnia. The idea that magic can exist so close to me, and that I just need the find the right key to unlock it, is astounding. The reason The Heart of the Circle is set in Tel Aviv is because I wanted magic near me. I wanted my world, my everyday life in a book, and I wanted a sweet, funny, light story to be set in that location. Well, I got 50% of my plan. That's better than most writing plans I have!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Heart of the Circle?

Keren:  Aside from the obvious - talking with psychologists to better understand empathy and psychopathy in real world, police officers to make sure the police work sections would be reliable, a few historians to find how to place alternative history in a real Israel, digging for hours in Reddit/drugs to better describe some of Reed's experiences, and loads of motorcycle forums and articles for the shortest description in the world regarding the bike mentioned ("Green"). My favorite two researches were talking for hours with my dad, who is a firearms specialist, to describe the gun that is used in one scene.

TQ:   Please tell us about the cover for The Heart of the Circle?

Keren:  There are two covers - the Israeli one was designed by Imri Zertal and it shows a circle of women. It is a very calm cover which emphasizes the community sense of the book. The English cover was designed by Francesca Corsini, and it shows a graffiti-like resistance poster, which is inspired by the underground feeling in it. I love how two people saw two completely different interpretations to the same book. It's amazing.

TQIn The Heart of the Circle who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Keren:  The easiest were Reed's parents. Since they are very similar to my own, I just used my love for my parents and mixed it with all the little fights, the pettiness and the resentment that arises in many child-parent relationships. The hardest to write was Oleander. In the original draft he was a minor character, a woman, and was mainly for comic relief. Only in later rewrites did he switch sex, gender, earned a bigger role, and started influencing major parts of the plot. It was hard writing him since he is one of the characters farthest away from my and my experiences.

TQDoes The Heart of the Circle touch on any social issues?

Keren:  Yes and no. There are a few social issues that are dealt with in the book. I tried to touch on human rights, LGBTQ rights, marginalized population, and the importance of different support systems. However, I don't define those as "issues" necessarily. I believe they should be a part of everyday life. I think people should treat everyone with respect and support, without discrimination.

TQWhich question about The Heart of the Circle do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Keren:  I would love to be asked how essential the fantastic element is to the story.
I think it is. I couldn't have told the same story the way I wanted it without Reed's empathy, Daphne's visions etc. Even though a lot of things are similar between our world and theirs, which sometimes might cause the illusion that the fantastic element is not needed, I couldn't have made the story work without magic. And fire bolts.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Heart of the Circle.


“How did I feel when I found out Reed was an empath? I felt like a six-year old who made his baby brother want to disappear.”

TQWhat's next?

Keren:  I'm currently working on a few short stories with long-overdue deadlines. After I'm done with those, my eldest reminded me that I promised him and his sister to write a book with them as heroes in a post apocalyptic world, and now I MUST write that. After that... we'll see.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Keren:  Thank you for having me :)

The Heart of the Circle
Angry Robot, August 13, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle
Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman.

Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?

File Under: Fantasy [ Love Squared | Stuck in the Margins | Emotional Injection | Fight the Power ]

About Keren

Interview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the Circle
KEREN LANDSMAN is a mother, a writer, a medical doctor who specializes in Epidemiology and Public health, and a blogger. She is one of the founders of Mida’at, an NGO dedicated to promoting public health in Israel. She works in the Levinski clinic in Tel Aviv. She has won the Geffen Award three times, most recently for the short story collection Broken Skies.

Website  ~  Twitter @smallweed

Spotlight on Myke Cole

I am very excited to see that Myke Cole, one of my favorite authors, has a new novel coming out in March 2020 with Angry Robot Books, one of my favorite publishers. This novel is Myke's first Science Fiction novel, after 2 Military Fantasy series, 1 Fantasy series, and a Military History book.

Sixteenth Watch is out in March 2020. The gorgeous cover art is by Isaac Hannaford.

Sixteenth Watch
Angry Robot, March 10, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook

Spotlight on Myke Cole
A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes, Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, and finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the moon, but earth as well.

Also by Myke Cole

The Sacred Throne Trilogy

The Armored Saint
The Sacred Throne 1, September 18, 2018
Trade Paperback, 224 pags
Hardcover and eBook, February 20, 2018

Spotlight on Myke Cole
Myke Cole, star of CBS's Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series, debuts the Sacred Throne epic fantasy trilogy with The Armored Saint, a story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthrall epic fantasy readers of all ages.

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

"Cole weaves a fantasy world that feels comfortably familiar, then goes to places you’d never expect. You won’t stop turning pages until the stunning finish."—Peter V. Brett

The Sacred Throne Trilogy
#1 The Armored Saint
#2 The Queen of Crows

The Queen of Crows
The Sacred Throne 2, August 27, 2019
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Hardcover and eBook, October 16, 2018

Spotlight on Myke Cole
Myke Cole, star of CBS's Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series is here with book two of the Sacred Throne Trilogy: The Queen of Crows.

In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greatness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.

No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and lay siege to the Imperial Palace itself.

"A heart-wrenching, blood-racing, all-around page-turner. Spare, vivid and surprisingly sensual, with a small, fierce heroine who will stick in your mind and live in your soul."—Diana Gabaldon on The Armored Saint

The Sacred Throne Trilogy
#1 The Armored Saint
#2 The Queen of Crows

The Killing Light
The Sacred Throne 3, November 12, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
The thrilling conclusion to Myke Cole's Sacred Throne trilogy

Heloise and her allies are marching on the Imperial Capital. The villagers, the Kipti, and the Red Lords are united only in their loyalty to Heloise, though dissenting voices are many and they are loud.

The unstable alliance faces internal conflicts and external strife, yet they’re united in their common goal. But when the first of the devils start pouring through a rent in the veil between worlds, Heloise must strike a bargain with an unlikely ally, or doom her people to death and her world to ruin.

Praise for the Sacred Throne Trilogy

"A heart-wrenching, blood-racing, all-around page-turner. Spare, vivid and surprisingly sensual, with a small, fierce heroine who will stick in your mind and live in your soul."—Diana Gabaldon

"Ruthless and heartwrenching." —Robin Hobb

The Sacred Throne Trilogy

The Armored Saint
The Queen of Crows
The Killing Light

Legion versus Phalanx - Military History

Legion versus Phalanx
Osprey Publishing, October 18, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
From the time of Ancient Sumeria, the heavy infantry phalanx dominated the battlefield. Armed with spears or pikes, standing shoulder to shoulder with shields interlocking, the men of the phalanx presented an impenetrable wall of wood and metal to the enemy. Until, that is, the Roman legion emerged to challenge them as masters of infantry battle.

Covering the period in which the legion and phalanx clashed (280-168 BC), Myke Cole delves into their tactics, arms and equipment, organization and deployment. Drawing on original primary sources to examine six battles in which the legion fought the phalanx - Heraclea (280 BC), Asculum (279 BC), Beneventum (275 BC), Cynoscephalae (197 BC), Magnesia (190 BC), and Pydna (168 BC) - he shows how and why the Roman legion, with its flexible organization, versatile tactics and iron discipline, came to eclipse the hitherto untouchable Hellenistic phalanx and dominate the ancient battlefield.

The Reawakening Trilogy
(Shadow-Ops Prequel)

Gemini Cell
The Reawakening Trilogy 1
Ace, January 27, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with an all-new epic adventure in his highly acclaimed Shadow Ops universe—set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel…

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Javelin Rain
The Reawakening Trilogy 2
Ace, March 29, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
The fast-paced, adrenaline-filled sequel to Gemini Cell, set in the same magical and militaristic world of the acclaimed Shadow Ops series.

Javelin: A code denoting the loss of a national security asset with strategic impact.

Rain: A code indicating a crisis of existential proportions.

Javelin Rain incidents must be resolved immediately, by any and all means necessary, no matter what the cost…

Being a US Navy SEAL was Jim Schweitzer’s life right up until the day he was killed. Now, his escape from the government who raised him from the dead has been coded “Javelin Rain.” Schweitzer and his family are on the run from his former unit, the Gemini Cell, and while he may be immortal, his wife and son are not.

Jim must use all of his strength to keep his family safe, while convincing his wife he’s still the same man she once loved. But what his former allies have planned to bring him down could mean disaster not only for Jim and his family, but for the entire nation…

Siege Line
The Reawakening Trilogy 3
Ace, October 31, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
In Myke Cole’s latest high-octane, action-packed military fantasy, the fate of undead Navy SEAL James Schweitzer will be decided—one way or another…

The Gemini Cell took everything from Jim Schweitzer: his family, his career as a Navy SEAL, even his life. Hounded across the country, Schweitzer knows the only way he can ever stop running, the only way his son can ever be safe, is to take the fight to the enemy and annihilate the Cell once and for all.

But the Cell won’t be easily destroyed. Out of control and fighting a secret war with the government it once served, it has dispatched its shadowy Director to the far reaches of the subarctic in search of a secret magic that could tip the balance of power in its favor. Schweitzer must join with the elite warriors of both America and Canada in a desperate bid to get there first—and avert a disaster that could put the Cell in control.

The Shadow-Ops Trilogy

Control Point
Shadow Ops 1
Ace, January 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
Lieutenant Oscar Britton of the Supernatural Operations Corps has been trained to hunt down and take out people possessing magical powers. But when he starts manifesting powers of his own, the SOC revokes Oscar's government agent status to declare him public enemy number one.

Fortress Frontier
Shadow Ops 2
Ace, January 29, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier—cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place—Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…

Breach Zone
Shadow Ops 3
Ace, January 28, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Spotlight on Myke Cole
The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…

In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.

In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…

Interview with Caroline Hardaker, author of Composite CreaturesInterview with Ginger Smith, author of The Rush's EdgeInterview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the EmpireInterview with Chris Panatier, author of the PhlebotomistInterview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees AnnouncedInterview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of CaligaInterview with Tyler Hayes, author of The Imaginary CorpseInterview with Keren Landsman, author of The Heart of the CircleSpotlight on Myke Cole

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?