The Qwillery | category: Berkley


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day

Please welcome Sarah Pinsker to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Song for a New Day was published on September 10, 2019 by Berkley.

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day

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

Sarah:  I wrote horse stories starting when I was around eight. I think some of them were just rewrites of books I'd liked. The kind of thing where there's a scruffy-looking horse about to go to auction, and the girl buys the horse for one dollar more than the meat buyers, and the horse turns out to be super fancy once he's healed/groomed/trained. I think my first genre story had to do with an open-mic singer taking bids on his soul from god and the devil. On brand.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sarah:  I would normally say I'm an unrepentant pantser, but I had to turn in an outline for the novel I'm currently working on, and I have to admit it was a surprisingly fun and interesting process. It let me ask a lot of questions of the book early on that would normally have taken me a while to reach through trial and error and discovery. So...still a pantser, but with a new appreciation for the other modes? Does that make me a hybrid? My rebel spirit is still in pantsing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sarah:  These days it's a physical/mental thing. My usual writing spaces aren't feeling comfortable right now. I think maybe I need a standing desk. Once I'm writing I'm good, but getting to the point of sitting down and focusing is taking me more time than it used to, and staying seated is taking more discipline than it used to. We also adopted a new dog recently, and he's very good at convincing me I'd rather be playing with him.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sarah:  What doesn't influence my writing? I guess I write a lot of stories rooted in place. I love traveling and I've been a lot of places. I love the challenge of trying to get at the heart of a place. Music. New technologies and my own paranoia about them. Dreams. Misread road signs, strange coincidences...

TQDescribe A Song For A New Day using only 5 words.

Sarah:  Live music. Found family. Connection.

TQTell us something about A Song For A New Day that is not found in the book description.

Sarah:  The description makes the black and white/good and bad distinction between the Before and After periods the book describes, which makes it seem like the former was fine, and after is dystopic. The book has more shades of gray. I tried to acknowledge that the world we live in now, ostensibly the Before, is already dystopic for some people. There are aspects of the After that are better, or different in a not-entirely-bad way. Even characters who disapprove of the corporate shenanigans acknowledge some positive results of the changes. I find those shades far more interesting to write than a simple everything's-not-awesome dystopia.

TQWhat inspired you to write A Song For A New Day? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular a dystopian novel?

SarahA Song For A New Day takes place in the same world as one of my previous stories, "Our Lady of the Open Road." I realized I had more to say about this world, and that there was more to explore than the slice of future tour life that story showed. There are so many interesting future music technologies, both for listening and for live music, but we're also living in a time where people have more and more distractions at home. Everything competes with the bands who are out there playing small clubs every night. I wanted to explore all sides of that question, and look at a future where some people might have even more reason to stay home, and some people might fight it.

I love science fiction for the expanded palette it provides. I like the "what ifs" and Theodore Sturgeon's "ask the next question." Many aspects of this novel reflect today's hopes and fears, but it's easier to look at those from a slight distance. It's an exaggeration of one possible path. This story takes place in a very near future, but you still need those world building tools to get there.

I didn't actually put the dystopia label on it myself, though in retrospect it obviously is one. In my head, it's just an exploration of a possible future.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Song For A New Day?

Sarah:  This book took less research than a lot of short stories. The music stuff was stuff I knew. A little about VR and AR, I guess? I had to double check how long some of the distances between cities would take if highways weren't options for your rebel human-driven van.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Song For A New Day.

Sarah:  The cover was done by Jason Booher. I don't know who the photo captures. It reminds me of a couple of singers, but I don't know if it is actually any of them. It's not meant to represent a particular character. I had asked for a cover that looked like a DIY rock show poster, and this is exactly that.

TQIn A Song For A New Day who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sarah:  I wrote about Luce previously in a story called "Our Lady of the Open Road," and part of why I returned to her was that her voice was so easy to slip into. She voices a lot of my own concerns. Rosemary was a little more challenging. Fun, also; there's an interesting challenge in trying to see the whole world through the eyes of someone who has never been anywhere or done anything. Rosemary consistently surprised me in her reactions to things. She made me look for the positives in the so-called dystopia I'd created, since it was the only world she'd ever known, and she didn't mind it all that much. Finding the positives was itself more difficult than the bad-made-worse parts.

TQDoes A Song For A New Day touch on any social issues?

Sarah:  Lots! The big ones involve the trauma that we're all living right now. Guns and the constant threat of violence. Our societal willingness to trade freedom for safety instead of addressing the root problem. School inequities. Prisons. Corporations. Data privacy.

I wanted to make this future one where, even though it's dystopic in many ways, some of our current problems have been addressed and have become non-issues. Accessibility in devices and the physical world. Asking before hugging people. Pronoun pins. It's not a perfect world – racism and homophobia still exist – but in the context of the spaces these characters inhabit, they've sought places where people would be striving to both see those situations and improve upon them. I wanted to normalize seeing differences and acknowledging them and then moving on from there to form community. I love, love, love writing queer characters and just letting them exist in community with each other. As in real life, we find each other, and support each other. I think letting multiple queer characters exist in a novel where queerness isn't the point is still a statement of its own, and I can't wait until it's not.

TQWhich question about A Song For A New Day do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: "Beyond the novelette 'Our Lady of the Open Road,' have you written or do you plan to write anything else about these characters?"

I adore standalone novels, and this is meant to be a standalone as far as these main characters are concerned, but I've written stories about some of the peripheral characters. There's an inventor/musician named Katja in the book who was the protagonist of my story "A Song Transmuted," which appeared in the Cyber World anthology and was reprinted in Sunspot Jungle and the upcoming A Punk Rock Future anthology. My story in the Apex Do Not Go Quietly anthology has a cameo from another character, Joni, as a kid.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Song For A New Day.


"There were, to my knowledge, one hundred and seventy-two ways to wreck a hotel room."

"Fear is a virus. Music is a virus, and a vaccine, and a cure."

TQWhat's next?

Sarah:  I'm working on another near-future novel right now, set in a different near future. There's a dark fantasy novelette called "Two Truths and a Lie" that'll be on, but I think that might not show up until next year. And I have a dozen short stories I'm dying to finish and send out into the world.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

A Song for a New Day
Berkley, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day
In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.

In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world–her music, her purpose–is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law.

Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery–no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.

About Sarah

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day
Photo © Emily Osborne
Sarah Pinsker‘s Nebula and Sturgeon Award-winning short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, F&SF, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, as well as numerous other magazines, anthologies, year’s bests, podcasts, and translation markets. She is also a singer/songwriter who has toured nationally behind three albums on various independent labels. Her first collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea, was released in early 2019 by Small Beer Press. This is her first novel. She lives with her wife in Baltimore, Maryland.

Website  ~  Twitter @SarahPinsker

SALVATION DAY 24-Hour Giveaway

24 hours to survive. 24 hours to win.

You could win an advance copy of SALVATION DAY by Kali Wallace, a gripping thriller that takes place in less than 24 hours! But act quickly, because this giveaway is also only 24 hours - and time is running out...

See the giveaway here.

About Fiona Barton

Photo by Jenny Lewis
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she currently lives in southwest France.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @figbarton

Also by Fiona Barton

The Widow
Berkley, Janaury 17, 2017
Trade Paperback, 352 Pages
Hardcover and eBook, February 16, 2016


An NPR Best Book of 2016
One of The Wall Street Journal’s 5 “Killer Books” of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Following the twists and turns of an unimaginable crime, The Widow is an electrifying debut thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now her husband is dead, and there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…


Includes a preview of Fiona Barton’s new hardcover, The Child, coming in June 2017.

Interview with Anne Corlett, author of The Space Between the Stars

Please welcome Anne Corlett to The Qwillery as part of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Space Between the Stars is published on June 13th by Berkley.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Anne a Happy Publication Day!

Interview with Anne Corlett, author of The Space Between the Stars

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

Anne:  I wrote from a very young age, and then stopped for a few years when I was first working as a lawyer in London. I came back to it I very suddenly, right n the middle of a house move back in 2011.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Anne:  I used to be a pantser until I read an article about detailed summaries. I now start with an initial short synopsis, and then expand it into a long, detailed summary of anything from 10,000 to 30,000 words.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Anne:  Trying to get past the urge to edit as I go. I know I work best by just ploughing on through the first draft, but since going through the intense editing experience with my first novel, I’m having to fight the compulsion to make everything perfect from the start.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Anne:  Other writers, unusual things I see, snatches of conversation, song lyrics.

TQDescribe The Space Between the Stars in 140 characters or less.

Anne:  Over the course of a long journey home, a survivor of a deadly virus faces up to the troubles of her past and finds hope for the future.

TQTell us something about The Space Between the Stars that is not found in the book description.

Anne:  It explores the ways in which we tend to look for patterns and meaning in our lives.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Space Between the Stars? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular post-apocalyptic SF?

Anne:  The idea for the book came to me on a trip to Northumberland, during an evening walk on the spectacular beach at Beadnell. I didn’t set out to write a science fiction book – the setting was a direct response to the need for the main character to face up to the possibility that she might never make it home. I think that post-apocalyptic stories allow writers to explore human relationships in a very specific way. There are fewer people in post-apocalyptic worlds, so the difficulties and joys of relationships are thrown into sharp relief.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Space Between the Stars?

Anne:  Very little. I realised very early on that I didn’t want it to be science-heavy. I’ve read and enjoyed books where many things are very much left to the reader’s imagination.

TQ:   Please tell us about the cover for The Space Between the Stars.

Anne:  Both the US and UK covers show a lone female figure – presumably Jamie, the main character. To me, the US cover feels as though it comes from early on in the story, before Jamie’s journey begins, while the UK cover seems more inspired by the later stages of the book, when the journey has reached its end.

TQIn The Space Between the Stars who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Anne:  Gracie was probably the easiest character to write, as her interactions with the other characters are relatively limited. It only needed a few little details to hint at there being more to her than meets the eye. Finn was quite tricky as I wanted to avoid using cliché or patronizing portrayals of a non-neurotypical character. Rena was also difficult, as there’s a risk of overdoing it when trying to write a character whose mental state is declining.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Space Between the Stars?

Anne:  I wanted to touch on issues of social class, and the way in which we, as a society, treat people we see as being different or lesser in some way. I didn’t want it to be too heavy-handed, so I dealt with most of those issues as back-story.

TQWhich question about The Space Between the Stars do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Anne:  Are any of the characters, places or incidents taken from real life?

When I read a book, I’m always looking for those descriptions that make me think ‘YES! That’s just how it is.’ While none of the actual incidents in the book are taken directly from real life, I did use a few fragments of real life experience in an attempt to make some things more universally recognisable. For example, there is a description of a funeral which draws on things I observed at a couple of funerals I’ve attended, and things I’ve heard other people describe.
Some of the places in the book are very much real, albeit with their names changed or their locations tweaked.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Space Between the Stars.


If you rubbed a northern summer between your fingers the warmth would crumble away like flaky pastry, revealing the chill underneath.

It’s summer and the world is ending in a long, drawn-out fade-to-gray.

TQWhat's next?

Anne:  I’m working on a novel centred around the strange world of immersive theatre.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Space Between the Stars
Berkley, June 13, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Anne Corlett, author of The Space Between the Stars
A Recommended Summer Read from The Verge and io9
A Recommended June Read from Hello Giggles and

When the world ends, where will you go?

In a breathtakingly vivid and emotionally gripping debut novel, one woman must confront the emptiness in the universe—and in her own heart—when a devastating virus reduces most of humanity to dust and memories.

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be…

About Anne

Interview with Anne Corlett, author of The Space Between the Stars
Anne Corlett is a criminal lawyer by profession and has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University where her tutors included Fay Weldon and Maggie Gee. The Space Between the Stars is her first novel.

Website   ~  Twitter Twitter @ConsummateChaos

Interview with Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New DaySALVATION DAY 24-Hour GiveawayComing Soon... The Girl in Red by Christina HenryMelanie's Week in Review - August 5, 2018Giveaway: The Child by Fiona BartonReview: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna RaybournExcerpt from Dangerously Divine by Deborah Blake and GiveawayReview: Whispers of Warning by Jessica EstevaoSpotlight: The Child by Fiona BartonInterview with Anne Corlett, author of The Space Between the Stars

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