The Qwillery | category: Brooke Johnson


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Brooke Johnson, author of the Chroniker City Stories

Please welcome Brooke Johnson to The Qwillery! The Guild Conspiracy, the 2nd Chroniker City Story, was published on August 9th by Harper Voyager Impulse.

Interview with Brooke Johnson, author of the Chroniker City Stories

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

Brooke:  I started writing stories for my friends at a very young age, my first book being a six page illustrated novel about an undead boy, titled The Living Dead—so retitled after I found out that The Night of the Living Dead was taken. But it wasn’t until I was about eleven or twelve years old, after I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, that I realized that I could write books for a living. For some reason, it never really crossed my mind that writing made up things could be my job. But once I realized that, I never wanted to do anything else.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Brooke:  I want to say that I’m a plotter, but the truth is that it depends on the book. I currently have two separate projects going that have no outline whatsoever, though they’re coming together much slower than the books that I meticulously outline from start to finish. There is no in between for me. Either I spend a month on an outline before I ever put pen to paper, or I just write without one at all.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Brooke:  Characters. Dialogue. Subtext. Specifically, emotional interactions between characters. I’ll spend days agonizing over a heated exchange between two characters because I want to get everything just so. And those are the same scenes that undergo the most revisions during edits, as I try to layer more and more subtext and meaning into what’s not said, trying to plant the truth somewhere in between the words. Stubborn, secretive characters are the worst. Two of them together is a nightmare. I don’t know why I insist on writing them all the time.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Brooke:  A lot of things, really. Daily life. My current emotional disposition. The latest movie I’ve watched, or book I’ve read, or game I’ve played. I get inspired by almost everything, especially the good stuff, because I want more of it—and when more of it doesn’t exist, I want to write something like it.

TQDescribe The Guild Conspiracy in 140 characters or less.

Brooke:  A dangerous conspiracy. A desperate plan. War is on the horizon. Can one girl stop a madman's schemes before he rips the modern world apart?

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

Brooke:  Two words: MECH FIGHTS. Think Real Steel meets the bot fights of Big Hero 6, except instead of futuristic, computer-controlled robots, skilled teenage engineers fight with grungy metal fighters built with the technology of the Victorian age. In order to prove herself in the male-controlled University, Petra enters an underground tournament, pitting the best engineers of the future against one another in mechanical combat. Little do they know that she already has experience building a war machine. They have no idea what she’s really capable of.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Guild Conspiracy? What appeals to you about writing Steampunk? Are the Chroniker City Stories set in a traditional Steampunk setting - Victorian London?

Brooke:  When I realized that The Brass Giant was not going to be a one-and-done standalone novel, I had to start thinking about what would happen next. At the time, in a lot of the series I was reading, each book ended with a mostly happy ending, or at least, with a victory for the main characters. The protagonist was victorious, sometimes at a cost, but ultimately they triumphed.

That is not the case with The Brass Giant.

Petra fails. And I wanted to write a story that followed up on the consequences of her failure, that drew its conflict from all of the mistakes and choices she (and others) made in the first book. I hate those neat, happy endings, especially in a lot of young adult books, where as soon as the corrupt organization or dictator or whathaveyou is defeated by a ragtag group of teenagers, the rebellion is suddenly over and won and everyone lives happily after. Hooray. That’s just not realistic to me, and it’s not the kind of story I’m interested in telling. So my teenage protagonists don’t win. They fail. Horribly. It’s the villain who wins.

So The Guild Conspiracy is about that failure. It’s about starting all over again, in a worse place than before, struggling to keep fighting an uphill battle. It’s about recognizing when you are wrong, recognizing your own weaknesses and mistakes, and trying to overcome them. Petra quickly learns that she has to change her strategy, and change a little bit herself, if she ever wants to stop the conspiracy she uncovered in the first book.

As for what appeals to me about writing steampunk, I love the science—the grit and raw power of physical machinery, all the moving parts, the smells, the sounds. There’s something about clockwork and steam that has this tangible realness. You can see how things work, the literal nuts and bolts of it, which is so different from modern computers and electronics. It holds a sort of romantic quality for me. And I think that is apparent in this particular series, which is not set in Victorian London, but in a fictional city off the coast of Wales. The city itself is a sort of love letter to Victorian science and a machine in its own right. I wanted a setting that reflected my love of clockwork and steam engines, and making up my own city gave me the freedom to do that.

TQIn your opinion why is Steampunk so popular?

Brooke:  I think a lot of it has to do with how malleable the genre is. There’s something for everyone—murder mysteries, paranormal romance, historical legends, hardcore science fiction, even space travel. But, at least for me, I think there’s a sort of romantic, escapist quality to it. The commonly Victorian setting is far enough in the past to feel like a completely different world, but at the same time, it’s near enough to be familiar. And steampunk itself tends to have a more optimistic outlook on the future, something I think we all desperately crave, especially right now, with the state of the world as it is.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Guild Conspiracy and the Chroniker City Stories?

Brooke:  I had to do a lot of mechanical research to get a good grasp of the concepts and terminology involved in Victorian science. I wanted to make sure that my descriptions were believable and felt authentic, if not wholly accurate. A lot of the machines built in the book are just not possible without the benefit of modern computing, but it was fun to think of ways to create advanced machinery with what we would consider rudimentary technology. There was other, general research I had to do, mostly into the Victorians themselves, their society and etiquette, their economy, trade relations, military organization, international relationships and conflicts, and various other historical tidbits. I looked a lot of old maps and photos, and used the crap out of Google Earth to help me visualize the real-world settings described in the book.

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

Brooke:  The easiest was Rupert, the best friend character introduced in The Guild Conspiracy. He’s just this honest, steadfast kind of person who would stand by Petra no matter what. He loves and admires her, and his loyalty to her made him very easy to write. We all need a friend like Rupert.

The hardest was Braith, the Royal Forces soldier also introduced for the first time in this book. I don’t know why exactly, but he was the most difficult character to pin down—who he was, why he acted that way, his goals, his motivations, literally everything but what he looked like. I went through several versions of him before finally settling on the Braith that is in the book. I think I had this idea in my head how he should have been, to fit the outline, but he just didn’t fit that box. So I ended up rewriting his first full scene probably a dozen times before finally figuring him out. After that, it was easier, but man did he fight me for a long time.

TQWhich question about The Guild Conspiracy or the Chroniker City Stories do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

BrookeHow long did it take to write The Guild Conspiracy?

After several false starts and half-finished drafts attempted as early as 2012, I started working on this version of The Guild Conspiracy in early 2015. It took me six tedious months to write the first draft, ending up more than 50,000 words over contract, and every single word of it an agonizing battle from brain to page. It sucked. It really really sucked. I spent two months more editing it down another 25,000 words, and then turned the second draft over to my editor, more than six months after my initial deadline.

A few months later, thanks to more bad timing, my editor ultimately ended up leaving the publisher, and so I got shuffled around to a new editor, who had a full schedule already. I knew that the book was probably garbage, so I asked if I could edit it one more time before my new editor got to it, and my request was thankfully granted.

I thought it would take me three or four weeks to edit the book to a reasonable quality. It took me four months. I did a complete overhaul before finally sending it to my editor at 4:00am on the day of my absolutely-must-turn-it-in-no-later-than-this-date deadline. Apparently, I did the job well, because she sent it back just two days later with her edit letter and gave me another three weeks to revise the book to her suggestions. Add in another week for copy edits, and I spent a grand total of 13 months writing and editing the book.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Guild Conspiracy.


“We might fail,” she said.

“We might.”

“And they’ll hang you right next to me, you realize.”

A smile twitched across his lips. “They’ll try.”


“You would be so willing to trust me?” she asked. “After everything you’ve been told?”

“You said you weren’t what they claimed.”

“I’m not.”

“Then prove it.”

TQSince your bio mentions that you are a tea lover, which teas go best with the Chroniker City Stories?

Brooke:  I buy my tea from a local place, so their names for teas probably vary from other tea specialty shops, but I pretty much survived on Queen’s Garden (a mild Chinese black tea with lavender and jasmine) and Paris Morning (stronger black tea with vanilla, caramel, and bergamot) while writing and editing this book. I’m especially susceptible to caffeine, so in the afternoons and evenings, I tend to drink herbal teas—anything fruity or flowery is good. I also love rooibos teas, and there’s a rooibos-based, spiced chai that I make in the winter that trumps hot chocolate any day.

TQWhat's next?

Brooke:  After spending so long writing and editing The Guild Conspiracy, I’m currently taking a bit of a break from writing in order to recharge my creative batteries, but I do have plans for what comes next, as soon as I’m ready to get back in the writing chair. There is a traditional fantasy novel I want to revisit soon, The Wizard’s Heart, set in a world based on Ancient Persian roots. I also have Dark Lord in Training, a middle-grade fantasy that’s currently in progress on Wattpad. I’m hoping to wrap up at least one of those by the end of the year. And then sometime early next year, I’ll start on the next story in the Chroniker City series, a novella (or short novel) that takes place at the same time as The Guild Conspiracy, but set in Paris, with Emmerich (a secondary character from The Brass Giant) as the lead character.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Brooke:  Thanks for having me!

The Guild Conspiracy
A Chroniker City Story 2
Harper Voyager Impulse, August 9, 2016
     eBook, 301 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, September 20, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages

Interview with Brooke Johnson, author of the Chroniker City Stories
In the face of impossible odds, can one girl stem the tides of war?

It has been six months since clockwork engineer Petra Wade destroyed an automaton designed for battle, narrowly escaping with her life. But her troubles are far from over.  Her partner on the project, Emmerich Goss, has been sent away to France, and his father, Julian, is still determined that a war machine will be built. Forced to create a new device, Petra subtly sabotages the design in the hopes of delaying the war, but sabotage like this isn’t just risky: it’s treason. And with a soldier, Braith, assigned to watch her every move, it may not be long before Julian finds out what she’s done.

Now she just has to survive long enough to find another way to stop the war before her sabotage is discovered and she’s sentenced to hang for crimes against the empire. But Julian’s plans go far deeper than she ever realized . . . war is on the horizon, and it will take everything Petra has to stop it in this fast-paced, thrilling sequel to The Brass Giant.


The Brass Giant
A Chroniker City Story 1
Harper Voyager Impulse, May 5, 2016
     eBook, 352 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 23, 2015
     Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages

Interview with Brooke Johnson, author of the Chroniker City Stories
Sometimes, even the most unlikely person can change the world

Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. Still, she refuses to give up and tinkers with any machine she can get her hands on, in between working and babysitting her foster siblings.

When Emmerich Goss—handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild—needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she's been waiting for. But if her involvement on the project is discovered, Emmerich will be marked for treason, and a far more dire fate will await Petra.

Working together in secret, they build the clockwork giant, but as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra discovers a sinister conspiracy from within the Guild council…and their automaton is just the beginning.

The Mechanical Theater
A Chroniker City Novella
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 9, 2015
eBook, 112 pages

Interview with Brooke Johnson, author of the Chroniker City Stories
Petra Wade's older brother, Solomon, has always dreamed of being an actor. Instead, he works grueling shifts in the clockwork city's boiler rooms to help support his large adopted family. When Le Theatre Mecanique holds an open call for their upcoming performance, he decides to audition. However, the only role he is suitable to fill is that of the theater's custodian.

Leaving the well-paying boiler job behind him, Solomon immerses himself in the theater—watching rehearsals, studying the performances, and working with an emerging young actress to improve his skills. But back at home, his family feels the sting of their reduced income when his younger sister Emily develops pneumonia and the only treatment is too expensive.

Solomon will be forced to make a difficult choice: fulfill his dreams of stardom, or help save his younger sister.

About Brooke

Interview with Brooke Johnson, author of the Chroniker City Stories
BROOKE JOHNSON is a stay-at-home mom and tea-loving writer. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she journeys through life with her husband, daughter, and dog. She currently resides in Northwest Arkansas but hopes to one day live somewhere more mountainous.

Website  ~  Twitter @brookenomicon  ~  Facebook

May 2015 Debuts

May 2015 Debuts

There are 16 debuts for May. Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The May debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite May cover for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on May 15th.

If you are participating as a reader in the Challenge, please let us know in the comments what you are thinking of reading or email us at "DAC . TheQwillery  @  gmail . com" (remove the spaces and quotation marks). Please note that we list all debuts for the month (of which we are aware), but not all of these authors will be 2015 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for May. The list is correct as of the day posted.

Catherine Chanter

The Well
Atria Books, May 19, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

May 2015 Debuts
From the winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, a brilliantly haunting and suspenseful debut set in modern-day Britain where water is running out everywhere except at The Well—the farm of one seemingly ordinary family whose mysterious good fortune leads to suspicion, chaos, and ultimately a shocking act of violence.

Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to serve out a sentence of house arrest for arson and suspected murder at her farm, The Well. Beyond its borders, some people whisper she is a witch; others a messiah. For as soon as Ruth returns to The Well, rain begins to fall on the farm. And it has not rained anywhere else in the country in over three years.

Ruth and her husband Mark had moved years before from London to this ancient idyll in the hopes of starting their lives over. But then the drought began, and as the surrounding land dried up and died, and The Well grew lush and full of life, they came to see their fortune would come at a price. From the envy of their neighbors to the mandates of the government, from the fanaticism of a religious order called the Sisters of the Rose to the everyday difficulties of staying close as husband and wife, mother and child—all these forces led to a horrifying crime: the death of their seven-year-old grandson, drowned with cruel irony in one of the few ponds left in the countryside.

Now back at The Well, Ruth must piece together the tragedy that shattered her marriage, her family, and her dream. For she believes her grandson’s death was no accident, and that the murderer is among the people she trusted most. Alone except for her guards on a tiny green jewel in a world rapidly turning to dust, Ruth begins to confront her worst fears and learns what really happened in the dark heart of The Well.

A tour de force about ordinary people caught in the tide of an extraordinary situation, Catherine Chanter’s The Well is a haunting, beautifully written, and utterly believable novel that probes the fragility of our personal relationships and the mystical connection between people and the places they call home.

Rachelle Dekker

The Choosing
Seer 1
Tyndale House, May 19, 2015
Trade Paperback, 448 pages

May 2015 Debuts
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

Bridget Foley

Hugo & Rose
St. Martin's Press, May 5, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

May 2015 Debuts
Rose is disappointed with her life, though she has no reason to be - she has a beautiful family and a perfectly nice house in the suburbs. But to Rose, this ordinary life feels overshadowed by her other life - the one she leads every night in her dreams.

After a childhood accident, Rose's dreams take her to a wondrous island fraught with adventure. On this island, she has never been alone: she shares it with Hugo, a brave boy who's grown up with her into a hero of a man.

But when Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, both her real and dream worlds are changed forever. Here is the man who has shared all of her incredible adventures in impossible places, who grew up with her, even if they aren't what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be?

Nathan Garrison

Veiled Empire
Harper Voyager Impulse, May 26, 2015

May 2015 Debuts
The Empire is Shrouded, not only by the barrier that covers the land, but by the lies and oppression of the mierothi regime. Magic is the privilege of the elite, and the people of this shadowed country have forgotten what it means to hope under their rule.

But there are some who would resist, with plans put into motion millennia before. For returned to the Empire is a valynkar, servant of the god of light, and with him come the strength and cunning that could tip the scales to end the Emperor's reign. He has gathered a group of heroes ready to ignite the flame of rebellion and fight against the dark power that has ruled for nearly two thousand years. A power that has champions of its own.

Nathan Garrison's Veiled Empire throws a mythical land into chaos, with races long thought forgotten, and magics only just discovered. Steel and sorcery clash as brave souls vie for freedom and control in this astonishing debut novel.

Sophie Jaff

Love is Red
The Night Song Trilogy 1
Harper, May 12, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

May 2015 Debuts
Redefining the thriller's tale of the hunter and the hunted, This electrifying, hypnotically beautiful debut spins dark suspense and literary fantasy into a mesmerizing story of survival.

Katherine Emerson was born to fulfill a dark prophecy centuries in the making, but she doesn't know it yet. However, one man does: a killer stalking the women of New York City, a monster the media dubs the "Sickle Man" because of the weapon he uses to turn his victims' bodies into canvases for his twisted art. People think he's the next Son of Sam, but we know how he thinks and how he feels . . . and discover that he is driven by darker, much more dangerous desires than we can bear to imagine. He takes more than just his victims' lives, and each death brings him closer to the one woman he must possess at any cost.

Amid the city's escalating hysteria, Katherine is trying to unknot her tangled heart. Two very different men have entered her previously uneventful world—handsome and personable David, alluring yet aloof Sael—and turned it upside down. She finds herself involved in a complicated triangle . . . but how well does she really know either of them?

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Katherine and the Sickle Man, Sophie Jaff's intoxicating narrative will pull you in and hold you close. As the body count rises, Katherine is haunted by harrowing visions that force her to question her sanity. All she wants is to find love. He just wants to find her.

Ablaze with fear, mystery, and possibility, Love Is Red is the first book in the Night Song trilogy. With this unforgettable novel—one that combines the literary and the supernatural, fantasy and horror, the past and the present—Katherine's moment of awakening is here. And her story is only just beginning.

Brooke Johnson

The Brass Giant
A Chroniker City Story
Harper Voyager Impulse, May 5, 2015

May 2015 Debuts
Sometimes, even the most unlikely person can change the world

Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. Still, she refuses to give up and tinkers with any machine she can get her hands on, in between working and babysitting her foster siblings.

When Emmerich Goss—handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild—needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she's been waiting for. But if her involvement on the project is discovered, Emmerich will be marked for treason, and a far more dire fate will await Petra.

Working together in secret, they build the clockwork giant, but as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra discovers a sinister conspiracy from within the Guild council…and their automaton is just the beginning.

Aer-ki Jyr

Harper Voyager Impulse, May 12, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

May 2015 Debuts
A new dawn is coming.

It's been eons since Humans controlled the universe, after their defeat by a mysterious enemy. With their downfall came a virtual dark age in which culture and technology stagnated. But now trade is once again flourishing as Human artifacts resurface throughout the galaxy, resurrecting long-forgotten advancements.

And one such discovery may very well alter the course of the future forever.

An epic space adventure, Aer-ki Jyr's Apex is a breathless race to the ultimate prize, with the very fate of the stars hanging in the balance.

Renée Knight

Harper, May 19, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

May 2015 Debuts
A brilliantly conceived, deeply unsettling psychological thriller— already an international sensation—about a woman haunted by secrets, the consuming desire for revenge, and the terrible price we pay when we try to hide the truth.

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day she became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.

Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day . . . even if the shocking truth might destroy her.

Jason LaPier

Unexpected Rain
Harper Voyager (UK), May 7, 2015
eBook, 400 pages

May 2015 Debuts
In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard's Star, a recently hired maintenance man named Kane has just committed murder.

Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighbourhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.

Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him.

His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn’t commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.

Kirsty Logan

The Gracekeepers
Crown, May 19, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

May 2015 Debuts
For readers of The Night Circus and Station Eleven, a lyrical and absorbing debut set in a world covered by water

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland ("landlockers") and those who float on the sea ("damplings"), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives--offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age.

K.M. McKinley

The Iron Ship
The Gates of the World 1
Solaris, May 26, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 672 pages

May 2015 Debuts
An incredible epic fantasy begins!

The order of the world is in turmoil. An age of industry is beginning, an age of machines fuelled by magic. Sprawling cities rise, strange devices stalk the land. New money brings new power. The balance between the Hundred Kingdoms is upset. For the first time in generations the threat of war looms.

In these turbulent days, fortunes can be won. Magic runs strong in the Kressind family. Six siblings strive – one to triumph in a world of men, one to survive murderous intrigue, one to master forbidden sorcery, one to wash away his sins, one to contain the terrible energies of his soul.

And one will do the impossible, by marrying the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship, to cross an ocean that cannot be crossed.

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

May 2015 Debuts
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

Andrea Phillips

Fireside Fiction Company, May 5, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 230 pages

May 2015 Debuts
Mira is a trust fund baby playing at making it on her own as a Brooklyn barista. When Benji, her tech startup boyfriend, dumps her out of the blue, she decides a little revenge vandalism is in order. Mira updates his entry on Verity, Benji’s Wikipedia-style news aggregator, to say the two have become engaged. Hours later, he shows up at her place with an engagement ring. Chalk it up to coincidence, right?

Soon after, Benji’s long-vanished co-founder Chandra shows up asking for Mira’s help. She claims Verity can nudge unlikely events into really happening — even change someone’s mind. And Chandra insists that Verity — and Mira’s newly minted fiance — can’t be trusted.

Amazon print edition, Barnes and Noble ebook, and iTunes ebook will be available May 5th

Marguerite Reed

Archangel 1Arche Press, May 12, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 298 pages

May 2015 Debuts
Earth is dying, and we have begun the search for a new home. Our hopes are pinned on Ubastis, an untamed paradise at the edge of colonized space. But such an influx of people threatens the planet’s unstudied ecosystem–before these settlers arrive, a tenuous research colony must complete its essential and desperate analysis, lest humanity abandon one planet only to die on another.

The Ubasti colonists barely get by on their own. To acquire the tools and supplies they truly need, the colonists are relegated to selling whatever they can to outside investors. For xenobiologist Vashti Loren, this means bringing Offworlders on safari to hunt the specimens she and her fellow biologists so desperately need to study.

Haunted by the violent death of her husband, the heroic and celebrated Lasse Undset, Vashti must balance the needs of Ubastis against the swelling crush of would-be settlers. As she negotiates her grief, Vashti struggles in her role as one of the few colonists licensed to carry deadly weapons, just as she struggles with her history of using them. And when she discovers a genetically engineered soldier smuggled onto the surface, Vashti must face the nightmare of her husband’s murder all over again. Vashti must protect herself, her daughter, and all of Ubastis as she is forced to draw alliances with old enemies, re-evaluate old friends, and take planet-wide action against those who threaten her world. Vashti stands at the threshold of humanity’s greatest hope, and she alone understands the darkness of guarding paradise.

Marc Turner

When the Heavens Fall
The Chronicles of the Exile 1
Tor Books, May 19, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 544 pages

May 2015 Debuts
If you pick a fight with Shroud, Lord of the Dead, you had better ensure your victory, else death will mark only the beginning of your suffering.

A book giving its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages that has kept the powerful relic dormant for centuries. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artifact at all cost.

However, the god is not the only one interested in the Book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed. Among them is a reluctant Guardian who is commissioned by the Emperor to find the stolen Book, a troubled prince who battles enemies both personal and political, and a young girl of great power, whose past uniquely prepares her for an encounter with Shroud. The greatest threat to each of their quests lies not in the horror of an undead army but in the risk of betrayal from those closest to them. Each of their decisions comes at a personal cost and will not only affect them, but also determine the fate of their entire empire.

The first of an epic swords & sorcery fantasy series, Marc Turner's When the Heavens Fall features gritty characters, deadly magic, and meddlesome gods.

Eli K. P. William

Cash Crash Jubilee
Jubilee Cycle 1
Talos Press, May 5, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 392 pages

May 2015 Debuts
A cyber-dystopian world unlike any other

In a near future Tokyo, every action from blinking to sexual intercourse is intellectual property owned by corporations that charge licensing fees. A BodyBank computer system implanted in each citizen records their movements from moment to moment, and connects them to the audio-visual overlay of the ImmaNet, so that every inch of the metropolis crawls with information and shifting cinematic promotainment.

Amon Kenzaki works as a Liquidator for the Global Action Transaction Authority. His job is to capture bankrupt citizens, remove their BodyBank, and banish them to BankDeath Camps where they are forever cut off from the action-transaction economy. Amon always plays by the rules and is steadily climbing the Liquidation Ministry ladder.

With his savings accumulating and another promotion just around the corner, everything seems to be going well, until he is asked to cash crash a charismatic politician and model citizen, and soon after is charged for an incredibly expensive action called "jubilee" that he is sure he never performed. To restore balance to his account, Amon must unravel the secret of jubilee, but quickly finds himself asking dangerous questions about the system to which he's devoted his life, and the costly investigation only drags him closer and closer to the pit of bankruptcy.

In book one of the Jubilee Cycle, Cash Crash Jubilee, debut novelist Eli K. P. William wields the incisive power of speculative fiction to show how, in a world of corporate finance run amok, one man will do everything for the sake of truth and justice.

Interview with Brooke Johnson, author of the Chroniker City StoriesMay 2015 Debuts

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