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Interview with Betsy Dornbusch - April 9, 2015


Please welcome Betsy Dornbusch to The Qwillery. Emissary, the 2nd Seven Eyes novel, was published by Night Shade Books on April 7th.



Interview with Betsy Dornbusch - April 9, 2015




TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Emissary (Seven Eyes, book 2), was/is published on April 7th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Exile (2013) to Emissary? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Betsy:  I actually wrote Exile ten years ago as a trunk novel to give myself some rein on exploring tropes and character and the epic fantasy genre. Then, when I mentioned it to the Night Shade editor years later, he said he’d like to see it. So writing Exile was a fairly no-pressure game.

Emissary was the first book I wrote that was sold ahead of writing, and we had some awkward things like the Night Shade sale happen in the middle of it. I had to ask for a significant extension on my delivery date. It was a slog at times but it helped that I like the story, and found taking Draken into his previous country and the world building intriguing.

As for my writing now that Emissary is released to the wild, it’s the settling down and just doing it. There are always promo duties, conventions to plan for, Electric Spec slush to read, and with two teenagers in the house, things stay kind of crazy. I usually have a list of about ten things per day. I’ve never been a very regimented person so daily word counts don’t work for me. I somehow tend to get it in though. I do get pretty crabby when I don’t write, my family says.



TQ:  What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Exile came out that you know now?

Betsy:  Make allies of your convention hotel bartenders. The bars get so crowded and they will totally let you cut the line later if you’re friendly and generous.

Also, I write to sell now, so I start with a tag line for books. Then I write a query. Then I write a synopsis. The planning keeps me calm enough to write. I have far fewer freak outs over what happens next, which means fewer delays in writing, and I write cleaner now, so my revisions aren’t as tough. My first published novel I basically drafted twice. Never. Again.



TQ:  Tell us something about Emissary that is not in the book description.

Betsy:  Draken and his friends spend quite a bit of time aboard ships on the open sea. All mistakes are mine. Really though, I grew up in a sailing family, so other than working out logistics and strategies during battles, the sights, sounds, and smells are pretty familiar to me.



TQ:  Which character in the Seven Eyes series (so far) surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Betsy:  Aarinnaie always surprises me. When I first wrote her as an assassin who attempts to kill the Queen, I had no idea how important she’d become to Draken. Since then, she’s become such a fun character to write. She’s complicated and tough and angsty. She accepts Draken’s love and help and is affectionate without getting wimpy about it. She and Draken have a ton of chemistry and she saves his arse more than once, too. To me the story just lights up whenever she’s on the page, and all without any romance!

Queen Elena has always been my toughest, most enigmatic character. Not a sharer, that one. Plus, in Emissary, she is seven months pregnant.

Let me tell a little story. When I was hugely pregnant with our daughter, I drove somewhere and was listening to Oingo Boingo really loud. When I rolled out of the driver’s seat and waddled across the parking lot, the kid collecting carts stared at me and said, “That was you?”

Well. Yeah. Most women don’t put their lives on hold when they’re pregnant. Music still plays on the radio. War still comes. Nations need to be run. Elena is cranky, uncomfortable, and stressed, and Draken isn’t always very understanding. He also has trouble disagreeing with her; she outranks him. There’s the subtext of power struggle, insecurity, and doubt. Much goes unsaid between them. I hope it’s interesting to readers; it is to me. But the two of them can be a bitch to write when they’re together.



TQ:  What appeals to you about writing Fantasy? In your opinion, should Fantasy novels be simply entertaining or should they make us think too?

Betsy:  Ah, the old Obligation vs Opportunity discussion. I land squarely on the side of Opportunity—writers have the Opportunity to examine society and the human condition, to explore diversity, and give lots of different kinds of readers characters to identify with. I’m against writers being Obligated to explore certain themes or include diverse casts.

That said, I often explore diversity and write female characters with agency, and I enjoy books that do the same. I like making social commentary cushioned in secondary worlds, but I use a light hand. I play with social mores, and put my characters on the spot. For instance, Draken learns of some off-screen homosexuality that makes him uncomfortable, and prejudice and religion are major themes through the series, but he doesn’t really stop to analyze it. I try to let him work through these issues and come to acceptance organically as he learns and grows. Sometimes he fails.

There’s no rulebook to theme in fantasy (or if there isn’t I don’t have a copy). But there are still things to say about loyalty and friendship and heroics, of doing the right thing against dealer’s odds. Those are valuable and timeless themes.



TQ:  Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Emissary.

Betsy
            “You’ll make quite the cradle tale when it all comes out,” Tyrolean said.
            Draken shook his head and drank deeply of his ale, hiding his relief at Tyrolean’s acceptance of his sordid past. “That’d be of more comfort if cradle tales weren’t so often about the dead.”


TQ:  What's next?

Betsy:  I’m working on Enemy, the final book of the Seven Eyes. It’s quite a ride, actually. I’ll be sad to put Draken away at the end, but I’ll have been writing him for longer than a decade and it’s time to move onto something else, and I’ve a new fantasy series in the planning stages.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Betsy:  Thanks for having me!!





Emissary
Seven Eyes 2
Night Shade Books, April 7, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 360 pages

Interview with Betsy Dornbusch - April 9, 2015
Once an exile. Now a king returning to the land that cast him out.

Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when cursed black magic took his wife and his honor away, he fought past his own despair and grief, and carved out a new life in Akrasia. His bloody, unlikely path, chronicled in Exile, led him to a new love, and a throne.

Draken has seen too much blood . . . the blood of friends and of enemies alike. Peace is what he wants. Now he must leave his wife and newborn child in an attempt to forge an uneasy peace between the Monoean King and thekingdomofAkrasia. The long bloody shadow of Akrasia’s violent past hangs over his efforts like a shroud. But there are other forces at work. Peace is not something everybody wants . . . not even in the seemingly straightforward kingdom of Draken’s birth.

Factions both known and unknown to Draken vie to undermine his efforts and throw the kingdom into civil war. Forces from his days in the Black Guard prove to be the most enigmatic, and a bloody tide threatens to engulf Draken’s every step.





Previously

Exile
Seven Eyes 1
Night Shade Books, February 5, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Betsy Dornbusch - April 9, 2015
Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when he is falsely condemned for the grisly murder of his beloved wife, he is banished from the kingdom and cast upon the distant shore of Akrasia, at the arse-end of the world.

Compared to civilized Monoea, Akrasia is a forbidding land of Moonlings, magic, and restless spirits. It is also a realm on the brink of a bloody revolution, as a sinister conspiracy plots against Akrasia’s embattled young queen–and malevolent banes possess the bodies of the living.

Consumed by grief, and branded a murderer, Draken lives only to clear his name and avenge his wife’s murder. But the fates may have bigger plans for him. Alone in a strange land, he soon finds himself sharing the bed of an enigmatic necromancer and a half-breed servant girl, while pressed into the service of a foreign queen whose life and land may well depend on the divided loyalties of an exiled warrior . . .

Exile is the beginning of an ambitious fantasy saga by an acclaimed new author.





About Betsy

Interview with Betsy Dornbusch - April 9, 2015
Betsy Dornbusch is the author of a dozen short stories, three novellas, and three novels. She also is an editor with the speculative fiction magazine Electric Spec and the longtime proprietress of Sex Scenes at Starbucks.







Website
Twitter @betsydornbusch

Interview with Betsy Dornbusch, author of Exile - February 5, 2013

Please welcome Betsy Dornbusch to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Exile (The First Book of the Seven Eyes) is out today! Happy Publication Day to Betsy!



Interview with Betsy Dornbusch, author of Exile - February 5, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Betsy:  Thanks! I’m excited to talk about Exile with you.


TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Betsy:  I started writing stories in the fourth grade with my best friend Sheri Joseph, who also grew up and became a novelist. I’d love to say “and I never quit,” but I tried my damnedest to be normal after college. After I subconsciously realized that my daughter was my last baby, I started a minor midlife crisis and an epic four book series.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Betsy:  I love to synopsize! And pitching! And writing queries!! I write a pitch, a query, and a synopsis all before I start drafting.

Soapbox: Don’t say “synopsis” to a roomful of writers; the collective groan shakes the rafters. I think the issue many writers have with synopses is trying to fit a bad story into a viable synopsis. Nothing draws out problems in a story like a synopsis or outline. It’s a tough thing to face after what might be years of work. I’ve found synopses and queries really just aren’t that tough to write—not when they’re based on a good story.


TQ:   Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Betsy:  Both. As I said, I write a synopsis (EMISSARY, the sequel to EXILE, has a three-page working synopsis) but I also let my characters lead me while I draft. Their personalities can dictate plot points—sometimes the synopsis has them doing the exact opposite of what they’d actually do (especially antagonists). So the synopsis changes a lot as I write. I use the synopsis to check direction—if a plot point works in a few sentences it will work in the novel. Generally the tent-pole moments and the end stay the same. The biggest thing that usually changes for me is the start of the book.

Also, I do rolling revisions constantly. If a character or plot point changes, I tend to go back and fix it right away. I’m completely paranoid about my plotting and loose ends.


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

Betsy:  ahemwritingcoughcough

I find drafting a trial most days. I try hard not to pay too much attention to my antsy feelings or boredom when I draft. But I do pay attention to it when I’m revising. If I can’t get through a scene without flipping to Facebook for the fiftieth time, something is wrong with the scene.


TQ:  Describe Exile in 140 characters or less.

Betsy:  A half-breed former slave, Draken is falsely accused of murder and exiled to the arse-end of the world where prejudice, politics, and lies drag him into a looming civil war. (Oops, 144.)


TQ:  What inspired you to write Exile?

Betsy:  After my return to writing, I worked on a huge four-book urban fantasy series (the first of which is Archive of Fire, out last year). The more I worked on it, the more I found the improvement in my writing completely stalled out. I was too close to it, for sure. I needed objective distance. I needed to not love my characters so much. I decided to simplify: one POV, no worries about trope (Exile started out as a world-to-world portal story, for crying in a bucket, though of course it is still somewhat of a portal story), and a basic A-Z quest plot. I also had been writing about 22 year old guys and I wanted someone older and world weary, someone who feels his age at inopportune moments. Draken is in his mid-forties, he’s got knee problems and he’s going grey, and he’s got a bitter streak from a tough life. I also really wanted to explore a character who doesn’t fit in and never will—hence his secret half-breed heritage.

Of course now I completely adore Draken. So much for objective distance.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Exile?

Betsy:  Weapons, fighting, and armor research, mostly. I have great resources: a couple of guys who actually fight (hand-t0-hand and sword!) who tells me how it really is. I love to write fight scenes and I’m determined to write them well. Fortunately for me, Draken sucks as a swordsman. He’s more ignorant than I am.


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

Betsy:  Bruche is Draken’s Greek Chorus and he drives Draken mad, but really (without giving plot away) what’s Draken gonna do about it? They’re stuck with each other. Bruche and I have a lot of fun tormenting Draken when he’s taking himself too seriously.

I find Queen Elena a huge challenge. She is so enigmatic, faultlessly trained to the throne, and controlled. She is also very flawed, innocent, and protected. She puts her trust in people she shouldn’t. I think the duplicity of her personality—innocence and control—is why Draken is attracted to her.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what are your favorite scenes in Exile?

Betsy:  I love the first scene where Draken on the ship headed to Akrasia. I wrote it about three years after the book was finished, scrapping the original start. I also love Draken’s conversation/negotiation with Va Khlar. Dialogue is my sweet spot and that scene is when I (and hopefully the reader!) started to realize why people are drawn to Draken.


TQ:  What's next?

Betsy:  I’m working full time on Emissary, the sequel to Exile, which will be out in 2014. Yes, Draken has to go back to Monoea, where there’s a death sentence on his head. I also have a couple of other projects in the works: a space opera and a futuristic religious thriller. Plus I’m usually noodling with short stories and I’m always reading slush and prepping the next issue of Electric Spec.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Betsy:  Thank you! It was fun!





About Exile

Exile
Seven Eyes 1
Night Shade Books, February 5, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Betsy Dornbusch, author of Exile - February 5, 2013
Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when he is falsely condemned for the grisly murder of his beloved wife, he is banished from the kingdom and cast upon the distant shore of Akrasia, at the arse-end of the world.

Compared to civilized Monoea, Akrasia is a forbidding land of Moonlings, magic, and restless spirits. It is also a realm on the brink of a bloody revolution, as a sinister conspiracy plots against Akrasia’s embattled young queen–and malevolent banes possess the bodies of the living.

Consumed by grief, and branded a murderer, Draken lives only to clear his name and avenge his wife’s murder. But the fates may have bigger plans for him. Alone in a strange land, he soon finds himself sharing the bed of an enigmatic necromancer and a half-breed servant girl, while pressed into the service of a foreign queen whose life and land may well depend on the divided loyalties of an exiled warrior . . .

Exile is the beginning of an ambitious fantasy saga by an acclaimed new author.





About Betsy

Interview with Betsy Dornbusch, author of Exile - February 5, 2013
Betsy Dornbusch is a writer and editor. Her books are Quenched, Quencher, Lost Prince, Archive of Fire, Exile, and Emissary coming in 2014. Her short fiction has appeared in print and online venues such as Sinister Tales, Big Pulp, Story Portal, and Spinetingler, as well as the anthologies Tasty Little Tales and Deadly by the Dozen. She’s been an editor with the ezine Electric Spec for six years and regularly speaks at fan conventions and writers’ conferences. She’s the sole proprietor of Sex Scenes at Starbucks where you can believe most of what she writes. In her free time, she snowboards, air jams at punk rock concerts, and has just started following Rockies baseball, of all things.


Website : Twitter : Facebook : G+







2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013


I'm pleased to announce the 3 newest featured authors for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.


M.L. Brennan

Generation V
Publisher:  Roc, May 7, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-0-451-41840-1 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013
Reality Bites

Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.

But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him.…





Betsy Dornbusch

Exile
Series:  Seven Eyes
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, February 5, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $26.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-59780-452-3 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013
Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when he is falsely condemned for the grisly murder of his beloved wife, he is banished from the kingdom and cast upon the distant shore of Akrasia, at the arse-end of the world.

Compared to civilized Monoea, Akrasia is a forbidding land of Moonlings, magic, and restless spirits. It is also a realm on the brink of a bloody revolution, as a sinister conspiracy plots against Akrasia’s embattled young queen–and malevolent banes possess the bodies of the living.

Consumed by grief, and branded a murderer, Draken lives only to clear his name and avenge his wife’s murder. But the fates may have bigger plans for him. Alone in a strange land, he soon finds himself sharing the bed of an enigmatic necromancer and a half-breed servant girl, while pressed into the service of a foreign queen whose life and land may well depend on the divided loyalties of an exiled warrior . . .

Exile is the beginning of an ambitious fantasy saga by an acclaimed new author.






Michael Logan

Apocalypse Cow
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin, May 21, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Price:  $14.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-250-03286-7 (print)
(US Debut)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013
Forget the cud. They want blood.

It began with a cow that just wouldn't die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain's livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn't recognize a scoop if she tripped over one.

As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?

Three losers.
Overwhelming odds.
One outcome . . .

Yup, we're screwed.



Interview with Betsy Dornbusch - April 9, 2015Interview with Betsy Dornbusch, author of Exile - February 5, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 14, 3013

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