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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Hidden Huntress Fan Art Competition: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen - June 12, 2015


Hidden Huntress Fan Art Competition: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen - June 12, 2015

Hidden Huntress, book two of the Malediction Trilogy, was published on June 2nd, and now that you've all had a chance to read it, Angry Robot Books is excited to share with you a new fan art competition!

We all have an idea in our head of the Malediction world, but what does it look like to you? Can you imagine Tristan, in all of his handsome glory? Or how about the gorgeous glass gardens hidden away in Trollus? We'd like you to put pen to paper and show us your idea of Danielle L. Jensen's rich and beautiful world.


Danielle Jensen says 

"I am insanely excited about The Malediction Trilogy art contest! There is no greater compliment than knowing my stories have inspired someone's artwork, and I LOVE when people share those images with me. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with."



The Fan Art Competition

Where:

The competition is hosted by these four blogs each with a different topic:

The Social Potato - Humans

The Qwillery - Architecture (Trollus, Trianon, the castle and the opera house)

BookCatPin - Trolls

The Reader & The Chef - Witches, including Cécile



When:

The competition will run from June 12, 2015 (2pm PDT) to July 12, 2015 (midnight PDT).



How

There is no limit to how many times you may enter the competition, so if you would like to try your hand at Marc, the opera house, and Cecile then submit your entries to the relevant blog (see above). All three entries will be considered. You may submit more than one drawing to each blog. The type of artwork is up to you!

If you do enter the competition, use the hashtag #HHArtComp and chat to other artists about their inspiration.

You may submit your Architecture artwork to The Qwillery via Twitter, Instagram or email to the theqwillery . contests @ gmail . com (remove the spaces). If you post on Twitter or Instagram please leave a link in the comments below or email the link.

At the end of the competition, I (Qwill) will choose my 3 favorite Architecture entries, which will then be submitted to Danielle L. Jensen who will pick the winning entry and 3 runners up.



What:

The winner will receive a signed copy of the completed Hidden Huntress manuscript, a personal Skype chat with Danielle L. Jensen and a shiny Robot trophy for their shelf!

Three runners up - one from each of the other blogs - will win a Robot trophy.

All 4 winners will be entitled to a free eBook ARC copy of the third book in the trilogy before it is published in 2016.



Note:

* Artwork may be used in promotional activity / there are no restrictions to how many times you enter / any artwork deemed offensive will be disqualified from the competition.

* Artwork may also by shared on Twitter, etc. during the contest!



So get out your colored pencils, charcoal, clay, crayons, or favorite art medium (digital included) and enter the Hidden Huntress Fan Art Competition!





The Malediction Trilogy
(so far)

Stolen Songbird
The Malediction Trilogy 1
Angry Robot Books, April 1, 2014 (US/Canada)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Cover Art by Steve Stone @ Artist Partners

Hidden Huntress Fan Art Competition: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen - June 12, 2015
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…



Hidden Huntress
The Malediction Trilogy 2
Angry Robot Books, June 2, 2015 (US/Canada)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
Cover Art by Steve Stone @ Artist Partners

Hidden Huntress Fan Art Competition: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen - June 12, 2015
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…





About Danielle

Hidden Huntress Fan Art Competition: The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen - June 12, 2015
Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.


Website  ~  Twitter @dljensen_  ~  Facebook

Review: The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray


The Waterborne Blade
AuthorSusan Murray
Series:  Waterborne 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015
       (North America Print and eBook)
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 512 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857664365 (print)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray
The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne’s would-be usurper.

Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim – for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.

But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.

File Under: Fantasy



Trinitytwo's Point of View

As The Waterborne Blade opens, Queen Alwenna learns she must flee her home at Highkell, ahead of the imminent attack on her husband’s realm by her cousin, Vasic. King Tresilian believes that if Alwenna can reach the protection of the island sanctuary of Vorrahan she will escape the machinations of war. He entrusts Alwenna to Ranald Weaver, whose position of “King’s Man”, makes him the ideal candidate to deliver the Queen to safety. She is loath to go but once at Vorrahan meets with the seer, Brother Gwydion, who bestows upon her a powerful gift. This gift, combined with Vasic’s malevolent plans, will propel Alwenna on a journey full of treachery, danger, and unexpected discovery.

The Waterborne Blade is an enjoyable read. Susan Murray uses alternating POV’s to keep the story moving and its pacing is terrific. The use of dreams to fill in Alwenna’s past blends in seamlessly with the unfolding action of the story. Murray’s strong female protagonist begins as a pampered queen and shows excellent growth as she deals with the hardships being presented to her. The supporting cast is also well written, with the exception of, in my opinion, Weaver. Ranald Weaver is a bundle of contradictions. He professes his loyalty often to his king and queen yet I feel his actions do not always follow suit. I also didn’t like his treatment of Alwenna. Weaver’s many character flaws can be forgiven once his past is taken into account but not all. For example, Weaver lies to Alwenna, omits essential information, and is secretly captivated by his queen so what are his true motivations? For her part, Alwenna is an intelligent woman yet even after she finds out she has been deceived, she is still inexplicably drawn to him.

I like the fact that just when I thought I knew where the author was going with the story, something unexpected happened and the book went in a different direction. The Waterborne Blade is an exciting medieval adventure and I would definitely recommend this book to people who like fantasy and enjoy intrigue, magic, romance, and an interesting female lead.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms


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



Alyc Helms

The Dragons of Heaven
Dragons of Heaven 1
Angry Robot Books, June 2, 2015
     (North America Print and eBook)
   June 4, 2015 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 512 pages
Cover by Amazing15

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms
Would you deal with the devil to save the world?

Street magician Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather – she also got his preternatural control of shadow and his legacy as the vigilante hero, Mr Mystic. Problem is, being a pulp hero takes more than a good fedora and a knack for witty banter, and Missy lacks the one thing Mr. Mystic had: experience. Determined to live up to her birthright, Missy journeys to China to seek the aid of Lung Huang, the ancient master who once guided her grandfather.

Lung Huang isn’t quite as ancient as Missy expected, and she finds herself embroiled in the politics of Lung Huang and his siblings, the nine dragon-guardians of creation. When Lung Di, Lung Huang’s brother and mortal enemy, raises a magical barrier that cuts off China from the rest of the world, it falls to the new Mr Mystic to prove herself by taking down the barrier. But is it too great a task for a lone adventure hero?

File Under: Fantasy [ Sins of the Grandfather / Missy and Master / Geek Fu / Little Trouble in Big China ]


Interview with Susan Murray, author of The Waterborne Blade - May 7, 2015


Please welcome Susan Murray to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Waterborne Blade was published by Angry Robot Books on May 5th in North America and in digital format and is published today in print format in the UK.



Interview with Susan Murray, author of The Waterborne Blade - May 7, 2015




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

Susan:  Thank you! I’m not sure exactly when I started writing, although I remember scribbling pony stories at home when I was eight or so. I’ve been writing with publication as an unacknowledged goal for the past twenty years, but only started submitting work in 2010, when I’d almost finished my Open University degree.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Susan:  Pantser. Definitely pantser. I keep trying to outline, as it seems to be the sensible, grown-up thing to do, but new elements tend to crop up while I’m drafting and they’re invariably better than whatever I’d originally planned. I find brainstorming possibilities useful in the early stages, using mind maps to keep track of ideas, but I only plan scenes in the loosest terms, and not too far ahead.



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

Susan:  Finishing work. Or, more precisely, keeping the self-doubt in check long enough to create that first draft. Once that’s on the page the overall shape of the story becomes apparent and revision becomes meaningful. I used to tinker with early chapters of things so much the later chapters simply never got written – it’s been a hard habit to break.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Susan:  John Wyndham has to be one of the earliest influences. Philip K Dick, Michael G. Coney. Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen. Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy has long been a favourite. Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Trudi Canavan, Kristen Britain, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Gentle, George R. R. Martin, Raymond E. Feist, Mervyn Peake. These are all writers whose work has stuck with me for one reason or another.



TQ:  Describe The Waterborne Blade in 140 characters or less.

Susan:  A pampered queen’s life is thrown into chaos by civil war as she struggles to deal with dark powers she cannot control.



TQ:  Tell us something about The Waterborne Blade that is not in the book description.

Susan:  The freemerchants have an important role to play in the story: they are itinerant traders who do not have the right to own land in the peninsular kingdoms. Rumoured to have the second sight, they have an uncanny knack for finding out what’s going on and knowing all the latest gossip.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Waterborne Blade? What appealed to you about writing in Epic Fantasy?

SusanThe Waterborne Blade stemmed from a short writing exercise drafted as part of one of my Open University courses – something to do with rhetoric and weather. That gave me the character Alwenna, on a boat, crossing a choppy stretch of water. Once the course was finished I wanted to find out what had brought her to that point, and what happened next. Epic fantasy lets the writer work on a broad canvas. The stakes are high and characters’ actions – however slight – can have huge implications, particularly with fantastical elements at play.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Waterborne Blade?

Susan:  Without giving away any spoilers, here’s a random selection from the research folder for the project: articles about Ouroboros, Jörmungandr, the caduceus, a picture of a narrow track leading off between trees, a snippet from a Shakespeare play, cookware and bakeware, merchants, pedlars, yin and yang, the endless knot, swords, Petra, troglodyte dwellings… Not all of these lines of thought made the final cut. My husband’s historical fencing group helped block out a fight scene – necessary to portray the scene from the point of view of someone who was proficient with a sword.



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

Susan:  The easiest character was without a doubt the freemerchant, Marten. He muscled his way in on the action in a scene that was meant to feature someone else entirely. See earlier comments about outlining! The hardest was probably Alwenna – I envisaged her as a very self-controlled person at the outset who’s learned a lot about doing her duty but rather less about life. Portraying that character faithfully has proved quite a challenge.



TQ:  Which question about The Waterborne Blade do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Susan:  What, anything? Is it true one of the settings is inspired by a certain, less than epic video game? Erm, yes. It really is. But no, I’m not saying which one.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Waterborne Blade.

Susan:  That’s a difficult one. How about a typical piece of Weaver dialogue, when Alwenna asks him if he’s seen many men die:

“Yes, my lady. I told you – I’m a soldier.”
His indifference was almost as irksome as his silence. “How many, Weaver? Do you even know?”
“I don’t, my lady. Counting’s for clerics. If you’re ready, we’ll ride on.”



TQ:  What's next?

Susan:  The sequel, Waterborne Exile, is with my editor now, awaiting his verdict. I have a third book in mind to complete the trilogy, while there’s a new and shiny idea demanding attention at all the most inconvenient times. I would also like to write some more short fiction this year.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Susan:  Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.





The Waterborne Blade
Waterborne 1
Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015
   (North America Print and eBook)
   May 7, 2015 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 512 pages
Cover: Paul Young at Artist Partners

Interview with Susan Murray, author of The Waterborne Blade - May 7, 2015
The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne’s would-be usurper.

Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim – for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.

But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.

File Under: Fantasy





About Susan

Interview with Susan Murray, author of The Waterborne Blade - May 7, 2015
Susan Murray is a graduate of the Open University, and describes herself as a “serial house renovator”.

She was recently longlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize.

Susan can be found online at her blog, trackingthechanges.wordpress.com and @pulpthorn on Twitter.






2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath by Ishbelle Bee


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath by Ishbelle Bee


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


Ishbelle Bee

The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath
From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Volume 1
Angry Robot Books, June 2, 2015 (North America and eBook)
     June 4, 2015 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath by Ishbelle Bee
1888. A little girl called Mirror and her extraordinary shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down…

An extraordinary dark fairytale for adults, for fans of Catherine Valente and Neil Gaiman.

File Under: Fantasy

Melanie's Week in Review - April 19, 2015


Melanie's Week in Review - April 19, 2015


Hello! Greetings from sunny London, England. I hope you have all had productive weeks. I would really like to say that I hammered my TBR list and had a big bunch of books to tell you about, but alas I don't. Well I do have 2 really good books to tell you about. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - April 19, 2015
I have had Nexus (Nexus 1) by Ramez Naam on my TBR for far too long. I am kicking myself for not reading Nexus sooner. This is a great book. The story centers on Kade Lane, an extremely talented scientist who has developed a variant of an illegal drug which can link minds. Lane's 'experiments' bring him to the attention of a covert group of the American government. Captured and coerced Lane has no alternative but to do what he is told but is it for the good of the people or the good of the government? Lane finds himself in Thailand on a mission to infiltrate the lab of a prominent scientist. Nothing is as it seems. Friends are enemies, enemies are friends, the master becomes the slave, and Lane doesn't know what to believe. All he really knows is that Nexus 5 will be salvation of many or the downfall of many more. Kade is partnered with the damaged Samantha Cataranes, an agent of the ERD. Kade and Samantha both describe themselves as pawns and this is a perfect analogy. Kade is the white pawn and Samantha the black pawn: Kade the innocent who tries to do the right thing, and Samantha who will do whatever she is told to do by her superiors. It all changes when both discover that innocents are being hurt by those who are supposed to protect them.

If you are a science fiction fan then Nexus is the series for you. Naam has created a fantastic plot where you don't really know who Lane should trust. Naam perfectly balances plot development with action. There is a lot of death and mayhem but it didn't detract from the overall story. I was on the edge of my seat (or book) from the first few pages to all the way to the final one. Nexus is a great book and I can't believe its Naam's debut. Well done. I'm looking forward to Crux (Nexus 2) which is next on my list to read.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 19, 2015
The lovely Qwill reminded me of a series that I had forgotten about - Dragon Kings by Lindsey Piper. She sent me book 3 - Hunted Warrior which I devoured in just a few days. I am going to be writing a full review of this book so keep your eyes on the blog for it. p.s. I love the cover!


I am going to end this post by telling you about a show about a book that I am watching.  No, its not Game of Thrones either. I discovered I had a subscription to Amazon's video streaming service and came across a the TV version of the much loved book Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I knew this book had been made into a series but forgot all about it until an advert popped up. If you don't already know the Outlander is the story of a young woman, Claire who has survived being a nurse in WW2. She finds herself transported 200 years in the past whilst on a honeymoon in Scotland. Lost and alone in the Scottish highlands she ends up married into one of the largest Scottish clans - the MacKenzies - while trying desperately trying to get back to her husband in her real time.

It's easy to feel disappointed when books are turned into movies or TV shows. I can easily get disappointed even by book covers when the models/actors don't look like I pictured them or worse when the plot of the books are changed for movies/TV. This wasn't the case with Outlander. All the characters were just as I imagined. The only thing that surprised me was amount of sex Claire is having. I read these books as a young teenager and either I blocked that aspect out or I have forgotten about it. These books reminded me of how historical fiction can teach you history (provided the history is accurate). I think I learned more about this period of history from the Outlander series than I did in 5 years of history classes. Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon!

That is all for me this week. I hope you have a great week and Happy Reading.


Review: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley


The Mirror Empire
Author:  Kameron Hurley
Series:   Worldbreaker Saga 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014 (US/Canada print/digital)
     September 4, 2014 (UK print):
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 544 pages
List Price: $14.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780857665560 (print)
Review Copy: Reviewer’s Own

Review: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
From the award-winning author of God’s War comes a stunning new series…
 
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

File Under: Fantasy


Brandon's Review

The Mirror Empire is the first novel in the Wordlbreaker Saga by Kameron Hurley. What happens in a society shaped by the powers granted by the moons in the sky when a moon not seen for 2,000 years begins to wax again in the sky? The story follows a young girl as she searches for a role to fill and her missing mother as well as the Kai of the Dhai people who have been oppressed for generations as they try to cope with the sudden upheavals. Through political intrigue, assassination, and shifting alliances the story tackles a number of dark human struggles through the play of aliens and foreign cultural narratives.

I was first introduced to Hurley’s work through her Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy. I have been hooked on her writing since. My partner argues against the rise of the grimdark fantasy as something that is overblown and often needlessly depressing, but I think it is writers like Hurley who remind me why I enjoy it.

In The Mirror Empire, Hurley continues to impress with her world building and ability to create social and magical systems that are reminiscent of other works in the genre, but still uniquely her own. This work is definitely more epic in scope at 544 pages than the physically lighter Bel Dame Apocrypha series. The extra space is welcome to be able to explore the growth of several characters and the slow reveal of the scope of the story, but as with many epics that means the story often wanders and the tight story structure I am used to from this author was not as present here.

My real struggle, and I am a huge epic fantasy nut, is in keeping track of which character I am following at any given time and how their storyline fits into the big picture. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone by giving away too much on the front end. Suffice to say it was not an insurmountable barrier and perhaps if I read at a more human pace I wouldn’t have gotten confused.

If you’re interested in reading about female centered cultures with gender fluid characters and polyandry galore then I think you’re in for quite a ride with the Worldbreaker Saga. Look for The Empire Ascendant: Worldbreaker Saga 2 in October 2015.




Please take a moment to welcome our newest Reviewer, Brandon! You can read all about him on the About Us page.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray


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



Susan Murray

The Waterborne Blade
Waterborne 1
Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015
       (North America Print and eBook)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,
Cover: Paul Young at Artist Partners

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray
The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne’s would-be usurper.

Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim – for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.

But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.

File Under: Fantasy


Interview with Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - March 11, 2015


Please welcome Carrie Patel to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Buried Life was published on March 3rd Angry Robot Books.



Interview with Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - March 11, 2015




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

Carrie:  I'd scribbled poetry in high school and college, but I was always drawn to longer fiction, particularly since that's what I spent most of my time reading. I probably wrote about half a dozen first pages at various points, but none of the concepts really stuck with me. It wasn't until a study trip to Argentina just before my junior year of college that I started thinking about a story that had enough character and plot momentum to keep me writing.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Carrie:  I am a creature of conflict and indecision, so I end up being a bit of both. However, even when I end up writing a progression of scenes in a more-or-less organic fashion, it only works when I have a pretty clear mental sketch of where it's all headed. With a project like The Buried Life (and its upcoming sequel), in which numerous characters and interests are set in motion, it's useful for me to have notes on the major players and their trajectories. It keeps my writing time focused, and it forces me to articulate motives and subplots that might otherwise get vague.



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

Carrie:  Worming my way into a character's head can be a huge challenge, but it's a worthwhile one because it makes such a difference in the quality and focus of the writing. Once I find my way there the first time, I can usually find my way back, but forging that initial trail can be a chore.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Carrie:  I love China Miéville, and I definitely see him as a major influence for The Buried Life. Perdido Street Station was a brilliant novel that bundled complex characters, a thrilling plot, and a unique setting. His world comes alive with sweat, soot, and steam, and even though it has a Victorian flavor, it's a totally unique creation. The characters shape and are shaped by their world, which is rife with corruption and political complexity, but the politics don't overtake the story.

I also thought of Mark Frost's The List of Seven and the Agent Pendergast series from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. They're fast-paced thrillers featuring eccentric detectives and dark, unusual mysteries. The gaslight-and-shadows atmosphere of The List of Seven was something I particularly remember enjoying.



TQ:  Describe The Buried Life in 140 characters or less.

Carrie:  Two inspectors chase a murderer, dodge politicians, and unearth a conspiracy in an underground city.



TQ:  Tell us something about The Buried Life that is not in the book description.

Carrie:  It features old grudges, fancy manners, and salmon canapés.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Buried Life? Angry Robot describes the novel as Science Fantasy? What is Science Fantasy and why did you choose to write in that genre? Would you like to write in any other genres or sub-genres?

Carrie:  Visiting Argentina and the Recoleta Cemetary jump-started the process. From there, it was just a matter of teasing characters and a story out of a specific setting and atmosphere.

Science fantasy encompasses elements of both traditional science fiction and fantasy. In some cases, I think it also describes a work that falls through the cracks of both genres and doesn't land solidly on horror, New Weird, steampunk, or anything else.

It wasn't something I specifically set out to write--in fact, I was curious to see how Angry Robot would categorize The Buried Life--but it turned out to be a great fit. I tend to be a fairly omnivorous reader, and I enjoy writing across the spectrum of speculative fiction. My short story, "Here Be Monsters," is an alternate history with sea monsters, and I have another novel-in-progress that's near-future science fiction.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Buried Life?

Carrie:  The research was a mix of studying actual underground environments and researching random minutiae to flesh out the details of a technologically regressed setting: fabrics, firearms, modes of transportation, etc. I particularly remember reading about laundry methods of the 1800s to fill out an early scene with one of the protagonists. When you're inventing many of the details in a fictional world, having a few realistic reference points can add a layer of believability.



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

Carrie:  Roman Arnault was probably the easiest. He's not a perspective character, so I never had to get inside his head to write him--I generally wrote him from the vantage point of the two perspective characters, both of whom have strong (and opposing) reactions to him. In fact, most characters have a pretty strong reaction to him one way or the other, so they always have something colorful to say about him.

Inspector Liesl Malone, on the other hand, was pretty hard. She's deadpan, which can come across as bland, and she's a by-the-book badass, which can become a cliché. With a character like her, nuance is key. You have to show the brittleness that accompanies her rigidity, the sense of humor beneath her solemnity, and the hollowness that belies her sense of purpose.

My favorite character is definitely Roman. He's a troublemaker and a snarker, and he guarantees hijinks of some sort whenever he shows up. I think he's also the biggest puzzle for readers, and all of these aspects made him a ton of fun to write.



TQ:  Which question about The Buried Life do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Carrie:  People have asked me how long it took to write The Buried Life, where I got the idea for the stories, and what inspired the characters, but
no one has asked whether the novel features explosions. The answer is unequivocally yes.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Buried Life.

Carrie

"For whatever reason, a fugitive on the last leg of flight almost always made for the surface the way a wounded rabbit crawls to the bushes to die."



TQ:  What's next?

Carrie:  I've finished the sequel, Cities and Thrones, and am awaiting the edit letter! Cities and Thrones will be out later this year, and it will trace the aftershocks of events at the end of The Buried Life. Beyond that, I've returned to a near-future science fiction novel about Mars colonization and the "bare branches" problem. I'm also looking forward to the March 26 release of Pillars of Eternity, the RPG that I've been writing for over the past year!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Carrie:  Thanks so much for having me! It's been a pleasure, and I'm looking forward to the rest of your debut author features.





The Buried Life
Angry Robot Books, March 3, 2015
        (North American and eBook)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - March 11, 2015
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

File Under: Science Fantasy [ Thriller | Society in Ruins | Fully Booked | New and Weird ]





About Carrie

Interview with Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - March 11, 2015
Carrie Patel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. An avid traveller, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University and worked in transfer pricing at Ernst & Young for two years.

She now works as a narrative designer at Obsidian Entertainment in Irvine, California, where the only season is Always Perfect.

You can find Carrie online at www.electronicinkblog.com and @Carrie_Patel on Twitter.

Review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel


The Buried Life
Author:  Carrie Patel
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, March 3, 2015
        (North American and eBook)
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857665218 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

File Under: Science Fantasy [ Thriller | Society in Ruins | Fully Booked | New and Weird ]



Melanie's Thoughts

Hats off to Carrie Patel for an ambitious debut with The Buried Life.  This is the first in her Buried Life series which features a murder mystery set in the steampunk/dystopian mash-up of Recoletta. The story starts with police inspector Leisel Malone chasing criminals through the streets of the underground city before she is called in and partnered with the rookie cop Rafe to investigate the murder of one of the city's upper class. Convinced that appearances are deceiving and as the death count rises Malone pushes against the authority of the Directorate of Preservation in order to uncover what is really going on.  On the other side of the tracks is the laundress Jane and her reporter friend Freddie who also becomes embroiled in the mystery. It's not until the very final chapters when these four characters come together as the mystery is solved and a new one begins.

Patel has created an very interesting world as seen through the eyes of her characters, mainly Jane and Leisel who tell the story. Patel's world experienced some catastrophic event which caused everyone to burrow underground. In doing so their civilisation became more structured, rigid and controlled.  It is reminiscent of Victorian London with its rigid class structure and gender specific roles. The Directorate of Preservation controls the flow of information and books are all but banned. It wasn't clear what the cause of the catastrophe was or exactly how the Directorate came to hold so much power but it was all powerful and ruled with an iron fist. Patel richly describes the world and society for the reader with the right balance between description and dialogue. I believe that world building is Patel's stronger skill rather characterisation as I feel her characters needed some fleshing out. The story is told from Leisel and Jane's point of view which really worked in order to see the different aspects of the society however, the characters themselves weren't balanced. I had assumed that as the story started with Leisel that she would be the lead character but the lowly laundress Jane soon took over. I was unclear who the main character was actually supposed to be. Leisel's physicality was well described but her circumstances, back story or character were not which was in contrast to Jane. As so little of Leisel's life was explained it was difficult to empathise with her and she was a bit one dimensional. Likewise the male characters Rafe and Freddie were so loosely described that they could have almost been left out if they weren't needed to advance the story through dialogue with the other characters.

Patel ends the story well and with a great lead into the next book of the series but she needs to work on her characterisation in order to keep me interested. This series could end up being one of my favourites if Patel makes a conscious decision as to which character will take the lead and develops that character fully. As I said at the start this is an ambitious story even for writers with a few books under their belt so well done to Patel. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next to these plucky heroines.

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