The Qwillery | category: C.T. Rwizi


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2020 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on July 31, 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite July 2020 Debut Cover! free polls

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts
Cover by Kieryn Tyler

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Shasti O'Leary Soudant

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts
Jacket art: photo of woman by Larry Rostant
Jacket design by Katie Anderson

Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey

Please welcome C. T. Rwizi to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Scarlet Odyssey was published on July 1, 2020 by 47North.

Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey

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

C.T.:  The very first thing I wrote is not something I’d ever let anyone read. Ever. It was a cheesy, racy drama featuring cheating spouses, oversexed neighbors, soap opera style twists, fast cars and lots and lots of clichés. It was laughably bad. But I was trying to get the hang of writing at the time so I chose to do so in a way I’d find entertaining. Surprisingly, it worked. I was motivated to keep coming back to my crazy plot, and along the way I refined a writing process that works for me. I never got to finish the story though, since halfway through I decided to get more serious about my writing. I do return to it once in a while when I feel the need to laugh at my past self.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

C.T.:  Now there’s a fun word. Pantser. Pantster? Either way, I would say I am perhaps a tenth that. Mostly, I plot. I’ll have serious writers block if I sit in front of my computer and I don’t have a plan for where my chapter or scene begins and where it ends. Often, whenever I’m stuck, it’s because I haven’t planned things in enough detail.

What I usually do is create a skeleton of the whole book—i.e. beginning, middle and end—allowing for flexibility along the way. But I will plan each chapter in great detail before attempting to write it, and always with an awareness of what needs to happen next.

Sometimes, however, I’ll be in the middle of writing a scene and realize that it might work better if I deviated from the plan. When that happens, I stop writing, create a new plan to fit in this new idea, then continue. I almost never just write and see where things go.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

C.T.:  Editing a completed first draft can be fun and easy because most of the hard work has been done. The story’s broad strokes have been painted and the manuscript is no longer a nebulous idea in your head. It’s real, and you can see what needs to be improved, what should be removed, what’s missing, etc.

Getting to this point, however, is not easy. It requires endurance and motivation. You need to believe in your project enough to keep coming back to it. And that’s one of the most difficult things about writing: maintaining belief in your own work. Resisting the temptation to scrap it and start all over, or simply to give up. It can be difficult to keep going even when you’re not feeling confident, but that’s part of the process.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

C.T.:  The space operas of Alastair Reynolds and Peter Hamilton. I love books that impart a sense of awe at the size and age of the universe, works that deal with big ideas on a cosmic scale, and yet stay close to their characters. My work is not a space opera, but I vied to evoke the same sense of awe in my readers.

TQDescribe Scarlet Odyssey using only 5 words.

C.T.:  Bizarre. Mysterious. Magical. Chilling. Queer.

TQTell us something about Scarlet Odyssey that is not found in the book description.

C.T.:  The world on which the story is based orbits a binary star—i.e., it has two suns: one yellow, one white. It also has a red moon, and a blue comet that shoots across the sky once every year.

TQWhat inspired you to write Scarlet Odyssey? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

C.T.:  I’d started a project based in a medieval European setting, but I was increasingly drawn to a supporting character from a southern continent, to the extent that I realized, based on the amount of time I was giving him, that I wanted him to be the star of the show, and to write about his society, which was more familiar to me than medieval Europe. Thus was born Scarlet Odyssey, a fantasy set in an African-inspired society.

As for what appeals to me about writing fantasy, I guess I blame my overactive imagination for seeking an outlet. I grew up reading Harry Potter like many other kids my age, though I craved to read similar works starring young black people like myself. But there weren’t many options at the time, so I was only stuck with what was available and my own imagination.

Things are beginning to change now, fortunately, with many writers of color being given the stage to write their own stories. Being a writer in the genre right now means I can be part of that change.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Scarlet Odyssey?

C.T.:  The starting point for many of the ideas I used was personal experience or knowledge I acquired by virtue of having grown up in southern Africa. The drystone architecture of my main character’s society, for example, was inspired by the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, which are not far from my grandfather’s farm in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe, and which I have visited on many occasions. The bullfighting ritual featured early on in the book was inspired by a similar ritual performed by young men in Eswatini at the king’s royal kraal. The beasts that appear are inspired by several African mythologies, from the tikoloshe of South Africa and Swaziland to the ilomba of Zambia.

So I was going off on myths and cultures I was already familiar with, and that are regularly seen or practiced or discussed among southern Africans. I did have to take my knowledge a step further, however, and I did this by reading scholarly research into African myths as well as the histories of the ancient Shona, Zulu and Swazi peoples.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Scarlet Odyssey.

C.T.:  The cover was designed by Shasti O’Leary Soudant. It depicts a sunset in the savannahs, which definitely features in the novel as a significant portion of it takes place in grassy velds similar to what you would find in south and east Africa.

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

C.T.:  The main character, Salo, is an outcast due to his failure to conform to his society’s standards of masculinity, which are higher for him since he’s the chief’s firstborn son. Though he’s a very different person from me, I empathized with him greatly because I myself am familiar with the social pressures born of toxic masculinity—to be seen as the strong one even when you don’t feel strong, to avoid anything even remotely feminine lest people question your manhood or sexuality, to repress your emotions at all costs. My personal experiences were handy as I wrote Salo’s character.

Conversely, the hardest character to write was the Maidservant, mostly because she has to do some pretty terrible things even though she knows they are wrong. I’ll admit; it was hard to empathize with her at times.

TQDoes Scarlet Odyssey touch on any social issues?

C.T.:  My book explores the toxicity of strict gender norms and the struggle of those who fail to conform to them. It also touches on tribalism and xenophobia, attitudes that still plague many African societies.

TQWhich question about Scarlet Odyssey do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

C.T.:  How much fun did you have writing this book?

Honestly? Lots. There were times I’d spend whole weekends in front of my computer without noticing the passage of time. This book is why I’ll be writing for as long as I am physically able to do so.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Scarlet Odyssey.


“I’ve seen people in glistening cities do the most savage of things, and people in the heart of the hinterlands do the noblest. I don’t think civilization is a place or a culture or a level of technological development. I think it’s simply the recognition that all life is valuable and must be treated as such. Everything else follows from there.”

TQWhat's next?

C.T.Requiem Moon, the sequel to Scarlet Odyssey, will be coming out in the spring of 2021. It’s out with the copy editors so it’s very close to done. But that will not be the last you hear from me.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

C.T.:  It has been a pleasure.

Scarlet Odyssey
Scarlet Odyssey 1
47North, July 1, 2020
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 559 pages

Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey
Magic is women’s work; war is men’s. But in the coming battle, none of that will matter.

Men do not become mystics. They become warriors. But eighteen-year-old Salo has never been good at conforming to his tribe’s expectations. For as long as he can remember, he has loved books and magic in a culture where such things are considered unmanly. Despite it being sacrilege, Salo has worked on a magical device in secret that will awaken his latent magical powers. And when his village is attacked by a cruel enchantress, Salo knows that it is time to take action.

Salo’s queen is surprisingly accepting of his desire to be a mystic, but she will not allow him to stay in the tribe. Instead, she sends Salo on a quest. The quest will take him thousands of miles north to the Jungle City, the political heart of the continent. There he must gather information on a growing threat to his tribe.

On the way to the city, he is joined by three fellow outcasts: a shunned female warrior, a mysterious nomad, and a deadly assassin. But they’re being hunted by the same enchantress who attacked Salo’s village. She may hold the key to Salo’s awakening—and his redemption.

About C. T. Rwizi

Interview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey
C. T. Rwizi was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica and got a BA in government at Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family, and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave. Scarlet Odyssey is his debut novel.

Twitter @c_t_rwizi

The View From Monday - June 29, 2020

It is the last Monday in June!

There is one debut this week:

Scarlet Odyssey (Scarlet Odyssey 1) by C. T. Rwizi.

The View From Monday - June 29, 2020
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson it out in Mass Market Paperback;

The Princess Beard (Tales of Pell 3) by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne is out in Trade Paperback;

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia;


Howling Dark (Sun Eater 2) by Christopher Ruocchio is out in Mass Market Paperback.

The View From Monday - June 29, 2020The View From Monday - June 29, 2020
The View From Monday - June 29, 2020The View From Monday - June 29, 2020
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

The View From Monday - June 29, 2020

Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

June 29, 2020
Cries to Kill the Corpse Flower Ronald J. Murray H

June 30, 2020
Ignorance is Strength (Ke) John Joseph Adams (Ed)
Christie Yant (Ed)
Hugh Howey (Ed)
SF - The Dystopia Triptych 1
Burn the Ashes (Ke) John Joseph Adams (Ed)
Christie Yant (Ed)
Hugh Howey (Ed)
SF - The Dystopia Triptych 2
Or Else the Light (Ke) John Joseph Adams (Ed)
Christie Yant (Ed)
Hugh Howey (Ed)
SF - The Dystopia Triptych 3
The Last Curtain Call Juliet Blackwell PCM - A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery 8
The Orphans of Raspay Lois McMaster Bujold F
Kushiel's Dart (ri) Jacqueline Carey RF/F - Kushiel's Legacy 1
The Empire of Gold S. A Chakraborty HistF - Daevabad Trilogy 3
Winds of Marque (tp2mm) Bennett R. Coles SF - Blackwood & Virtue
Witch Hunt Cate Conte PCM - Witch Hunt 1
Noir Fatale (h2mm) Larry Correia (Ed)
Kacey Ezell (Ed)
F - Anthology
Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire (h2mm) Delilah S. Dawson SF/SO/MTI - Star Wars
Alien Secrets Ian Douglas SF/HSF - Solar Warden 1
The Lightest Object in the Universe (h2tp) Kimi Eisele Dys/SF/AP/PA/Disaster
1637: The Polish Maelstrom (h2mm) Eric Flint SF/TT - Ring of Fire 26
A Sprinkling of Murder Daryl Wood Gerber PCM - A Fairy Garden Mystery 1
Into Darkness Terry Goodkind F - Children of D'Hara 5
The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl (h2tp) Theodora Goss F - The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club 3
Flame Donna Grant PNR/FR/UF - Dark Kings 17
Salvation Lost (h2mm) Peter F. Hamilton SF/SO/SE - Salvation Sequence 2
The Princess Beard (h2tp) Kevin Hearne
Delilah S. Dawson
F/HU/FairyT/FolkT/LM - Tales of Pell 3
The Snakes (h2tp) Sadie Jones LF
Wheel of Time Premium Boxed Set V: Book Thirteen: Towers of Midnight, Book Fourteen: A Memory of Light, Prequel: New Spring Robert Jordan
Brandon Sanderson
F - Wheel of Time
A Memory of Light (ri) Robert Jordan
Brandon Sanderson
F - Wheel of Time 14
Towers of Midnight (ri) Robert Jordan
Brandon Sanderson
F - Wheel of Time 13
Terra Nova: The Wars of Liberation (tp2mm) Tom Kratman (Ed)  SF - Anthology
The Sum of All Shadows (h2mm) Eric Van Lustbader SupTh - The Testament 4
Blue Ticket Sophie Mackintosh Dys/FL/CW
Mexican Gothic Silvia Moreno-Garcia HistF/Gothic/Horror
The Warning (tp2mm) James Patterson
Robinson Wells
The Properties of Rooftop Air Tim Powers F
The Best of Jules de Grandin: 20 Classic Occult Detective Stories Seabury Quinn SF - Collection
Howling Dark (h2mm) Christopher Ruocchio SF/SO/HSF/AC - Sun Eater 2
Best of British Fantasy 2019 Jared Shurin (Ed) F - Anthology
A Sword Named Truth (h2mm) Sherwood Smith F/DF/HistF - Rise of the Alliance 1
Prisoner of Night J.R. Ward PNR - The Black Dagger Brotherhood World
Dark Black Sam Weller H/Gothic
Interlibrary Loan Gene Wolfe SF/GenEng/Noir - Borrowed  Man 2

July 1, 2020
The Ones Who Look: A Original (e) Katharine Duckett SF
Memory and Utopian Agency in Utopian/Dystopian Literature: Memory of the FutureCarter F. HansonLC
Scarlet Odyssey (D) C. T. Rwizi F/CoA/FairyT/FolkT/LM - Scarlet Odyssey 1

July 2, 2020
The House on Widows Hill Simon R. Green SupM - An Ishmael Jones Mystery 9

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator

AC - Alien Contact
AF - Afrofuturism
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
BlHu - Black Humor
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
CW - Contemporary Women
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
LMF - Legends, Myths, Fables
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PF - Paranormal Fantasy
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PopCul - Popular Culture
Psy - Psychological
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
RF - Romantic Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
SS - Short Stories
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
TT - Time Travel

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.
2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 DebutsInterview with C. T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet OdysseyThe View From Monday - June 29, 2020

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