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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors

Here are some of the upcoming works by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge (DAC) Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.

Clarissa Goenawan (2018)

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida
Soho Press, March 10, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
From the critically acclaimed author of Rainbirds comes a novel of tragedy and dark histories set in Japan.

University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

To Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda; Chie, Miwako’s best friend; and Fumi, Ryusei’s older sister, Miwako was more than the blunt, no-nonsense person she projected to the world. Heartbroken, Ryusei begs Chie to take him to the village where Miwako spent her final days. While he is away, Fumi receives an unexpected guest at their shared apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.

Expanding on the beautifully crafted world of Rainbirds, Clarissa Goenawan gradually pierces through a young woman’s careful façade, unmasking her most painful secrets.

Ken Liu (2015)

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
Gallery / Saga Press, February 25, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories.

Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years—sixteen of his best—plus a new novelette.

In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, The Veiled Throne.

Adrian J. Walker (2017)

The Human Son
Solaris, April 28, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 380 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
Solaris Spring 2020 Lead Title from critically acclaimed author, Adrian J. Walker

A startling, emotional, beautiful (and at times funny) book – one that feels like the best sort of science fiction, a book that should be enjoyed widely, a book that speaks of what it is to be human, a parent, and a child.

It is 500 years in the future and Earth is no longer populated by humans.

The new guardians of Earth, the genetically engineered Erta, have reversed climate change. They are now faced with a dilemma; if they reintroduce the rebellious and violent Homo Sapiens, all of their work will be undone.

They decide to raise one final child; a sole human to help decide if humanity should again inherit the Earth.

But the quiet and clinical Ima finds that there is more to raising a human than she had expected; and there is more to humanity’s history than she has been told.

Interview with M.G. Wheaton, author of Emily Eternal

Please welcome M.G. Wheaton to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Emily Eternal is published on April 23, 2019 by Grand Central

Interview with M.G. Wheaton, author of Emily Eternal

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

M.G.:  I was in kindergarten and wrote this series of stories about rats in France who had to flee to Morocco due to these monstrous invaders. The rats trained hard then crossed the sea and battled them back. The main rat was named Pepe le Chat (Pepe the Cat). I have no idea why I wrote it except that it was heavily illustrated, and I really liked drawing rats at the time. My mother didn’t tell me until much later in life as she thought it’d go to my head, but my parents were actually called in for a school conference over the stories as my teachers were worried about what I’d been reading at home.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

M.G.:  A slight hybrid? I research whatever I’m interested in sometimes for years. When I know it’s a story, I’ll sit down and write a couple of full-length drafts to see if it holds water then go back to outline and start over completely. I think there’s the impulse when you’re starting out writing to emulate the process of successful authors but for me, one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is what process works best for me even if it takes twice the time as someone else or is ridiculously inefficient.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? How does being a screenwriter affect (or not) your novel writing?

M.G.:  The biggest challenge for me has always been to be certain what makes perfect sense in my head ends up on the page. One reason I have to write draft after draft is because I realize how much I missed or glossed over the first couple of times through. What also helps this is to have a wide number of readers who know your style and can look at drafts at different points in your process. As for screenwriting, it gets you in the habit of writing a lot of dialogue and getting in and out of scenes, something working in video games and comics forces you to do as well. But in all three media, you’re also creating something of a blueprint to be handed off to someone else responsible for the visual that’s placed in front of someone. When I started out in books, I felt freed from that. I’m in charge, now! So, I’d write and write and write, banging out bloated and unreadable 125,000-word drafts. It was like, “Because you’ve switched format you’re going to forget about viewer/player/reader experience?” I’m sure I’ve ported over several other bad habits I’ll be weeding out for some time to come!

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

M.G.:  I read a lot and I see mountains of theater, so books and plays/musicals the most, I think? I enjoy rich character pieces with sci-fi elements like Jennifer Haley’s play, “The Nether,” or the way the future affects the most marginalized of people in Warren Ellis’s old comic book series, “Transmetropolitan.” When I read something with a large cast of beautifully realized characters, recently books like Rachel Kushner’s “The Mars Room,” Joseph Cassera’s “House of Impossible Beauties,” or Tim Murphy’s “Christodora,” it gives me something to aim at. Also, Hideo Yokoyama. His “Six Four” and “Seventeen” are these beautiful studies in how people are with each other from clumsy to aggressive to cold to inarticulate. All things that make me want to be a better writer.

TQDescribe Emily Eternal using only 5 words.


Oh no!
But yay, Emily!

TQTell us something about Emily Eternal that is not found in the book description.

M.G.:  Part of aging is about discovering the limitations of your body, the loss of short-term memory, the aging and breakdown of cells, the depletion of finite resources. Part of Emily is a fantasy about what if that didn’t have to be true?

TQWhat inspired you to write Emily Eternal? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

M. G.:  My grandfather worked in a factory his whole life building first propeller planes during World War II then passenger jets in the eighties. While a lot is written about the development of planes is how they were designed to be faster or reach higher altitudes when just as much thought went into the safety of pilots. It’s so difficult to preserve a human body in a hostile environment which is just about anywhere not on land in a temperate environment. Everything else becomes a hostile environment for most humans very quickly except through intensive, sometimes lifelong conditioning. And like my answer to the question above, I always wondered – what if that wasn’t the case? What if we solved that and humans could exist in any environment?

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Emily Eternal?

M.G.:  I spend a lot of time reading articles in the science and medical fields always thinking, “what if?” after reading about this development or that, so much of it comes from that kind of research. The only real on-site work I did involved a trip to Kennedy Space Center in Florida where I took the tours, looked at all the launch pads and how integrated Space X and Boeing are into NASA down there. As far as genetics go, I researched a bit on the ocean-based Sama-Bajau people whose genes have evolved in several ways to allow them to not only live on water but also under it for much longer than, say, you or me.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Emily Eternal.

M.G.:  I love the cover. It was made by a London-based artist, Natalie Chen ( who does a lot of covers for Hodder & Stoughton. Grand Central had been working on other covers but when they saw Ms. Chen’s work, they adapted it instead as they were as impressed as we all were. It doesn’t depict anything directly from the novel but brings together many ideas – the coming together of many to create one, a person among the cosmos, and the seeming eternity of space.

TQIn Emily Eternal who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

M.G.:  Perhaps a spoiler, but the easiest character to write is Emily’s predecessor, Emily-2. If Emily is evolved to have a sort of moral compass that forces her to consider several different angles, the decisions made by Emily-2 are very binary, very yes or no. She has a task and she must complete it. Nuance isn’t important. Only quantifiable success. The hardest is probably Emily herself because she is constantly striving to be better and thoughtful in all things. I am not always such a person, so had to always imagine what that experience of life would be like.

TQDoes Emily Eternal touch on any social issues?

M.G.:  It does. Right now, whether it’s something one chooses to acknowledge or not, mankind is entering a precarious moment due to climate change and the impact that will have on the world’s peoples. I read recently that 1 in 110 people, 68.5 million or about .8 % of the world’s population has been displaced, the highest number in human history. These are people forcibly made refugees due to war and famine. That number is going to increase exponentially over the next half century. Those of means have made it clear that they intend to hold onto power whatever the consequences, likely leaving those without resources to fend for themselves. Emily attempts to make the point that, as a species, we need one another. Though it may sound like a cliché, “diversity is our strength” is scientifically dead on. We have evolved to where we are now. We can only guess at what effect a large-scale population die-off will have on our species.

TQWhich question about Emily Eternal do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

M.G.:  Could the sun really die in 5,000 years? No idea! But maybe? What’s nuts about science is how quickly things change or evolve. I’ve only recently come to learn about the sociology of science – the study of how the social behavior of scientists – and seen how some ill-tested theories are pushed forward as “fact” due to herd mentality while others fall away or are suppressed by those within the field. Science is always seen as so iron-clad, so much the last word. But like it or not, there’s in-fighting within science, jealousy, and bitter competition. It wasn’t that long ago that much of what we agree on as “fact” was considered heretical, even by some who knew better. I often wonder which things we take for granted today in our day to day understanding of the natural world will be laughed at a couple hundred years from now.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Emily Eternal.

M.G.:  Okay, so three hours, 150 miles, and 8.4 gallons of fuel later, this hubristic, not-so-super-computer, not-so-wonder-woman is still coming up dry on the plan front.

(This was how I felt flipping through the book looking for something non-spoilery?)

TQWhat's next?

M.G.:  After “Emily” sold, I started a horror thing, another science fiction thing, and a historical science fiction thing. The first two are both about to go to my agent as they’re pretty much done. I did two drafts of the historical one in order to write an outline so I could start over and will be doing another two months of so of research before hopping into another draft of that.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Emily Eternal
Grand Central, April 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with M.G. Wheaton, author of Emily Eternal
Meet Emily, “the best AI character since HAL 9000″ (Blake Crouch). She can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets, but unfortunately, even she can’t restart the sun.

Emily is an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

Her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome that may save them all. But not everyone is convinced Emily has the best solution–or the best intentions. Before her theory can be tested, the lab is brutally attacked, and Emily’s servers are taken hostage.

Narrowly escaping, Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions–college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra. As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. Soon it becomes clear not just the species is at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

About M.G.

Interview with M.G. Wheaton, author of Emily Eternal
Before turning to novels, M.G. Wheaton wrote movies, comic books, and video games as well as for several movie magazines. He was born in Texas but now lives in Los Angeles.

Website  ~  Twitter

Review: Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Little Heaven
Author:  Nick Cutter
Publisher:  Gallery Books, July 11, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback
List Price:  US$17.00
ISBN:  9781501104237
Previously:  Hardcover and eBook,  January 10, 2017

Review: Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
A “gripping and terrifying story…and one not to be missed” (Robert McCammon) from the acclaimed author of The Troop and The Deep!

A trio of mismatched mercenaries—Micah Shughrue, Minerva Atwater, and Ebenzer Elkins, colloquially known as “the Englishman”—is hired by young Ellen Bellhaven for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven, where a clandestine religious cult holds sway. But shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. There are stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—and above all else, the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust soon grip the settlement. Escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral toward madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. All present here are now forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is marshaling its power—and it wants them all…

“A slow boil of unrelenting terror and inescapable consequences. Nick Cutter ups his game every time. Beautifully written—menace drips from every page.” —Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

“A sprawling epic that can stand alongside the best of ‘80s King, Barker, and McCammon. Fun, nasty, smart, and scary, and in all the right places.” —Paul Tremblay, acclaimed author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

Brannigan's Review

I’ve read and reviewed Nick Cutter before, and, once again, I was very entertained. Little Heaven is a time-jumping, monster-hunting, rescue mission. You heard me right, there’s a lot going on in this one, and yet Cutter’s skill at balancing everything without it getting cluttered or confusing is on point. In my previous Cutter review of The Troop, I mentioned he isn’t afraid of the gore, and this book also shows us that he’s not afraid of tickling your gag reflex.

Our heroes are Micha, Ebenezer and Minerva, a gun-toting band of mercenaries with a long history. They get the band back together to rescue a young boy in a dangerous cult. Cutter spends some time revealing their relationship by jumping back and forth between 1966 and 1980. While on this rescue mission, we learn that there are monsters hiding in the forests surrounding the compound. All of this is very familiar to Micha’s past and his long-lost daughter.

I’ve read from some other reviewers that Cutter borrows heavily from the King of Horror, but as I’ve never been a big fan of his I can’t speak to that. What I can say is that Cutter knows how to write action and horror in a very unique and engaging way. The only thing I’d change would be less gore, but I don’t see Cutter stopping this anytime soon. One thing I really liked in this book is the illustrations, there are not a lot, but I’ve always wished they were used more in Adult Fiction. There’s one illustration that I found particularly creepy.

Nick Cutter knows how to keep his readers turning pages and Little Heaven is no exception. As long as you don’t mind getting creeped out by the monsters and gore, you’ll enjoy this one. There is plenty of Adult Language and violence so this one is for Adults only. If you like your horror mixed with action, you’ll want to pick this one up.

Interview with Catherine Burns, author of The Visitors

Please welcome Catherine Burns to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Visitors was published on September 26th by Gallery Books/Scout Press.

Interview with Catherine Burns, author of The Visitors

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

Catherine:  I got laid off from my university teaching job so I had a lot of time on my hands.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Catherine:  I had a rough idea of the structure of The Visitors before I started writing but it certainly changed a lot by the end. I think if you stick to a too rigid outline you risk limiting yourself. Having said that I might try plotting a bit more the next time. I suppose that means I’m a hybrid?

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Catherine:  Self-discipline is difficult when working from home. Keeping off the internet and Netflix long enough to get something done.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Catherine:  I haven’t had any formal training but I thought that Stephen King book on writing was pretty good. Also just the stuff I read, Shirley Jackson, Chekhov short stories, an author called Barbara Pym (not sure if she’s very well known in the US).

TQDescribe The Visitors in 140 characters or less.

Catherine:  Marion lives in a creepy mansion. Brother John spends all his time in the cellar. She hears screams from below, should she tell the police?

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

Catherine:  Marion has some self-esteem issues. Her nickname at school was Manatee.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Visitors?

Catherine:  A few real life cases where people had protected loved ones who committed horrible crimes. I was trying to understand why someone would do something like that and I wanted the reader to ask themselves what they would do if the person they loved most in the world did something terrible.

TQIs the "crumbling mansion" and seaside resort where Marion and John Zetland live based on a real building/place?

Catherine:  The crumbling mansion isn’t real but the house I grew up in had a cellar and I was always a bit spooked by it. The town of Northport is fictional but it’s based on a number of real life northern British seaside towns, particularly Southport(!) and Blackpool. I always felt these places were a little on the gothic side with their creaky fairground attractions and kiosks selling smutty postcards alongside candy for children. I suppose Coney Island in the US has a similar vibe.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Visitors?

Catherine:  I don’t want to give away any spoilers but there is some internet ‘Catfishing’ going on in the book. I actually created fake social media profiles to see if the plotline was realistic. I got quite a lot of positive responses!

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Visitors?

Catherine:  Just want to say I think the US cover is delightful, you can’t tell from pictures but the paper is textured so you can feel the ridges in the wood and even the back of the wallpaper feels different from the front! Amazing! I suppose on the most literal sense it evokes decaying grandeur of a rather stuffy, middle-class variety. I didn’t have anything to do with the cover however, and I don’t know if my interpretations are what the designer intended, but it reminds me of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and there is certainly a lot of female repression in the book. I also get a slight Georgia O’Keefe vibe but maybe that’s just my grubby mind.

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

Catherine:  I find Mrs Morrison the housekeeper comical so I think she was the most fun and therefore easiest to write. Marion was the hardest of course, because a lot of her choices are rather difficult to empathise with but if I had made her too unlikeable the reader would have just given up on her and the book.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Visitors?

Catherine:  I touched somewhat obliquely on the issue of immigration but I don’t want to say too much as this would give important plot points away!

TQWhich question about The Visitors do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Catherine:  Are Marion and John’s parent to blame? I honestly don’t know, maybe if you say yes to that question you could equally blame their parents, i.e. Marion and John’s grandparents, where does the evil originate?

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


‘Like a white bird, the scream flew up from the depths of the cellar, then became trapped inside Marion’s head.’

‘You are the kind of evil that comes from nothing, from neglect and loneliness. You are like mold that grows in damp dark places, black dirt gathered in corners, a fatal infection that begins with a speck of dirt in an unwashed wound.’

TQWhat's next?

Catherine:  Just finished another manuscript but so far I’ve only shown it to close friends. About to start a third. I really enjoy writing in the gothic/thriller genre, might veer towards more conventional horror next!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Catherine:  Thank you for your consideration.

The Visitors
Gallery Books/Scout Press, September 26, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Catherine Burns, author of The Visitors
“Once you start Catherine Burns's dark, disturbing, and enthralling debut novel, it's hard to stop. The Visitors is bizarrely unsettling, yet compulsively readable.” —Iain Reid, internationally bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door...and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side....

About Catherine

Interview with Catherine Burns, author of The Visitors
Mark Frith Photography
Born in Manchester, Catherine Burns is a graduate of Trinity College, University of Cambridge. She worked as a bond trader in London before studying at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography and teaching film theory at the University of Salford. The Visitors is her debut novel.

Twitter @c_burnzi  ~  Facebook

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017

This is going to be short WIR this week as I have been a been busy reading books I can't review....or at least not yet. The Qwillery is participating in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 3 and I am busy trying to find the next winner (I voted for the book that won the last SPFBO). I am also part of the beta review group for Michael Sullivan's third instalment of the Legend's of the First Empire Series - Age of War. It will be quite a while before I can tell you what I thought. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
I discovered a great series of novellas from Claire North - The Gameshouse. Novella number 1 - The Serpent - is set in the 1700's in Venice and centers on Thene who was married off at the age of 15 to a drunken lout who gambles away her dowry. When she is forced to join her husband at the mysterious gambling house aptly named The Gameshouse she doesn't realise how much her life will change. The better you are at gaming the higher you rise in the leagues until you are playing a game far more sinister than you ever expected. Kings are toppled, wars are won and lives destroyed by the roll of the dice and all because of the Gameshouse.

No one really knows where the Gameshouse exists but it seems to exist outside of time and the games that are played are for higher stakes than a few coins. The way that North sets out her world inside the Gameshouse is very descriptive but she leaves enough to the readers imagination so that you can picture it in your mind. Not only is the plot compelling but the way in which North tells Thene's story is really unique. The reader is cast as an observer, following Thene throughout Vienna on her journey to win the game. Through the alleys and canals of Venice we follow Thene as she puts her pieces in play hoping that she has made the right choices. Finding out whether she wins is a nail biter. This is a fantastic read and very difficult to put down.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
Novella 2 is The Thief which it is set in the 1930's in Thailand. It starts again, in the Gameshouse where this time Remy Burke makes a dangerous gamble. He has to play a real life game of hide and seek. If he loses the game he loses all his memories so winning is the only option. From north to south and east to west Remy travels through Thailand trying not to get caught. Whether he wins or loses is for you to find out.

Yet again, another fantastic novella by North. Despite the fact that Remy was a bit of a drunken loser he still made you want to root for him and pray that he won the game. The Gameshouse seems even more sinister in this instalment than before and seems to take on a life of it's own. This is another great (and short) read. Don't miss out.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
Now, I feel I must apologise. I have had Urban Enemies for a few months now. It is an anthology of short stories all about the bad guys. Several popular authors contributed short stories of their favourite baddies that you love to hate including Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire and Kelly Armstrong. I have to admit I couldn't finish it! I have surprised even myself. I think the fact that Jim Butcher's contribution was the same one as in the anthology Dark and Stormy Knights (St. Martin's Griffin; July 2010) was a bit too disappointing and rather turned me off. I am not the biggest fan of short stories and when they all center around the antagonist I seemed to lose interest very quickly. Sorry!

That is it for me this week. I hope you have had productive weeks and I am looking forward to telling you about novella 3 of the Gameshouse series - The Master - next week. Until then Happy Reading!

The Serpent
The Gameshouse 1
Redhook, November 3, 2015
eBook, 100 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
In 17th Century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse.

There, fortunes are made and fortunes are broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun.

But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league . . . a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles.

Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman, who is about to play, may just exceed everyone's expectations.

Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules . . .

The Thief
The Gameshouse 2
Redhook, November 3, 2015
eBook, 100 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
The Gameshouse is an unusual institution.

Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost through games of chess, backgammon - every game under the sun.

But a select few, who are picked to compete in the higher league, know that some games are played for higher stakes - those of politics and empires, of economics and kings . . .

In 1930s Bangkok, one higher league player has just been challenged to a game of hide and seek. The board is all of Thailand - and the seeker may use any means possible to hunt down his quarry - be it police, government, strangers or even spies . . .

Urban Enemies
Edited by Joseph Nassise
Gallery Books, August 1, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
Villains have all the fun—everyone knows that—and this anthology takes you on a wild ride through the dark side! The top villains from seventeen urban fantasy series get their own stories—including the baddies of New York Times bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, and Jonathan Maberry.

For every hero trying to save the world, there’s a villain trying to tear it all down.

In this can’t-miss anthology edited by Joseph Nassise (The Templar Chronicles), you get to plot world domination with the best of the evildoers we love to hate! This outstanding collection brings you stories told from the villains' point of view, imparting a fresh and unique take on the evil masterminds, wicked witches, and infernal personalities that skulk in the pages of today’s most popular series.

The full anthology features stories by Jim Butcher (the Dresden Files), Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville), Seanan McGuire (October Daye), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger), Lilith Saintcrow (Jill Kismet), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles), Domino Finn (Black Magic Outlaw), Steven Savile (Glasstown), Caitlin Kittredge (Hellhound Chronicles), Jeffrey Somers (The Ustari Cycle), Sam Witt (Pitchfork County), Craig Schaefer (Daniel Faust), Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire), Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock), and Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches).

Interview with Colin Gigl and Review of The Ferryman Institute

Please welcome Colin Gigl to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ferryman Institute is published on September 27th by Gallery Books.

Interview with Colin Gigl and Review of The Ferryman Institute

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

Colin:  Thank you, happy to be here. I started writing some time around age 3 or 4, I think — "mom" being the first, last, and only word in my debut, which was awarded an illustrious place on the family fridge. I began taking it more seriously in college after a professor made the mistake of saying she thought a piece I wrote was funny. You can blame her for this.

I started writing because I (usually) enjoy it, at least when I'm in the moment. Sometimes, when you're writing, the world sort of falls away, and when you snap back to it, you've got 100 words on the page you don't really remember writing that you can't believe are your words... That's a special feeling.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Colin:  Mostly pantser, sort of hybrid though. On the plotting side, I'll jot down key points or themes I want to try and hit, and I don't like to start writing the first draft until I've got at least most of the narrative shape in my head.

Other than that, though? Pure flinging spaghetti at walls.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Colin:  Getting the spaghetti to stick to the wall. Pasta just doesn't adhere well to smooth surfaces.

Honestly, there are a lot of challenges, but I think the biggest I face is doubt. I often have a nagging feeling that every word/sentence/paragraph I write has some alternate, perfect version, but I'm just not talented enough to see what that is. Dealing with that feeling can be tricky. I've just tried to accept this weird duality of not being easily satisfied with what I have on the page while also recognizing that not everything will be perfect and I can only do the best I can.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Colin:  Marketing comparisons aside, reading Christopher Moore growing up really changed the way I looked at writing. Here was a guy writing genuinely laugh-out-loud speculative fiction. Up to that point, I hadn't realized that authors were allowed to be funny. I know that's strange to say, but that's how it felt to me.

Also, THE MASTER AND MARGARITA left a big mark on me — I loved its magical realism. That really struck a chord with me. Mythology obviously influenced me, too. After that, the list gets pretty exhausting.

TQDescribe The Ferryman Institute in 140 characters or less.

Colin:  Two broken souls — one an immortal guide to the dead, one about to be dead — end up on an adventure together that just might save them both

TQTell us something about The Ferryman Institute that is not found in the book description.

Colin:  I think this story can be a bit sadder and/or more introspective than the description lets on. I certainly hope it earns a smile or two along the way, but it's not exactly light fare.

Also, there's kissing. So, uh, if that grosses you out, or something, you should be aware of that, I guess. Just saying.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Ferryman Institute? What appeals to you about writing contemporary fantasy?

Colin:  Someone very close to me was battling with severe depression, among other things. I woke up one morning with the distinct thought of _What if you wanted to kill yourself, but couldn't?_ I know that's not exactly the cheeriest thought the world has ever been privy to, but it was an interesting and almost reassuring idea at the time. The rest sort of snowballed from there.

The thing I enjoy about fantasy is that, as the author, you get to design the rules, so to speak. You want a character who can jump off cliffs all willy-nilly because he feels like it? Go for it. I believe fantasy carries these inherent elements of discovery and suspense, even when dealing with the mundane, because at any given moment, the story can tap into the unexpected. There is always the potential for surprise and wonderment around every corner in a good fantasy.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ferryman Institute?

Colin:  I shudder to think what my Google search history looks like thanks to this book. Psychologists would probably have a field day with that: "Well, given his Googling on myths, suicide, the Lincoln Tunnel, and affect versus effect, we can only conclude he was an acolyte in an ancient cult going to perform a sacred blood ritual in the Lincoln Tunnel. Oh, and his grammar was horrifyingly atrocious."

TQIn The Ferryman Institute who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Colin:  Easiest: toss up between Alice and Cartwright. For whatever reason, their voices came naturally to me — it felt more like I was taking dictation than I was writing them.

Hardest: Javrouche. He ended up getting rewritten several times. His using of French honorifics was actually from one of the latest drafts, so he was evolving even to the very end.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Ferryman Institute?

Colin:  I think having a fantastical lens to view a story through sometimes brings issues in the real world into sharper focus. The suicide angle was more of a personal desire to try and tell a story that was ultimately about hope -- that, even at the possible moment, when all seems lost, there's still a chance things can turn around.

TQWhich question about The Ferryman Institute do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Colin:  "What's the best way to give you several hundred million dollars as gratitude for bringing this book into the world?"

What a great question that would be to get, right?

On a more serious note: "What do you hope to accomplish with this book?"

Really, I just wanted to tell a good story. My writing has a ways to go, but if I could provide the means by which a reader loses him or herself for a while, I'd be thrilled. If it helps someone pick up a little bit of hope when they were in need of it, well, all the better.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Ferryman Institute.

Colin:  Oof... Really tough to pick a favorite, but here's one I enjoy: "Death was such an abstract concept right up until the point when it wasn’t anymore."

TQWhat's next?

Colin:  Hopefully another book, but I'm trying not to get too ahead of myself. I feel extraordinarily lucky to even have a chance to share this book with the world, so surviving this one is where my head's at.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Colin:  Thanks for the opportunity!

The Ferryman Institute
Gallery Books, September 27, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Colin Gigl and Review of The Ferryman Institute
In this stunning, fantastical debut novel from a bold new voice in the bestselling traditions of Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde, a ferryman for the dead finds his existence unraveling after making either the best decision or the biggest mistake of his immortal life.

Ferryman Charlie Dawson saves dead people—somebody has to convince them to move on to the afterlife, after all. Having never failed a single assignment, he's acquired a reputation for success that’s as legendary as it is unwanted. It turns out that serving as a Ferryman is causing Charlie to slowly lose his mind. Deemed too valuable by the Ferryman Institute to be let go and too stubborn to just give up in his own right, Charlie’s pretty much abandoned all hope of escaping his grim existence. Or he had, anyway, until he saved Alice Spiegel. To be fair, Charlie never planned on stopping Alice from taking her own life—that sort of thing is strictly forbidden by the Institute—but he never planned on the President secretly giving him the choice to, either. Charlie’s not quite sure what to make of it, but Alice is alive, and it’s the first time he’s felt right in more than two hundred years.

When word of the incident reaches Inspector Javrouche, the Ferryman Institute's resident internal affairs liaison, Charlie finds he's in a world of trouble. But Charlie’s not about to lose the only living, breathing person he’s ever saved without a fight. He’s ready to protect her from Javrouche and save Alice from herself, and he’s willing to put the entire continued existence of mankind at risk to do it.

Written in the same vein as bestselling modern classics such as The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, The Ferryman Institute is a thrilling supernatural adventure packed with wit and humor.

Qwill's Thoughts

The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl is the story of Charlie Dawson, Ferryman extraordinaire. He's been working as a Ferryman for over 200 years and he's exhausted. He's tired of ferrying. He's tired of saving the day when a death is difficult and the soul he's dealing with may be traumatized. He's spending more and more time away from the Ferryman Institute. Out of the blue he receives a special and secret assignment from the President of the Institute. He's sent to ferry Alice Spiegel after she commits suicide. But for the first time ever he's given the choice to save a person or not. Charlie saves Alice.

There are many rules that Ferryman have to obey including not revealing themselves to living humans. Charlie breaks this rule (along with others) and he is in a huge amount of trouble - being locked up for centuries trouble! Inspector Javrouche who is the internal affairs officer is after Charlie for this breach among others.

Charlie is a wonderful main character. He's conflicted about what he does. He's compassionate and caring. He's somewhat sarcastic and funny. However, his work has become senseless to him. He has good friends at the Institute. Individuals who are worried about him, but he bottles up everything he is feeling and continues to do his job. He's one of the best Ferryman that has ever existed and the Institute needs him. He's greatly admired, but that is not enough for him. He doesn't want to be a hero.

Alice has had a difficult life recently - she's going nowhere professionally, she's been heartbroken in more ways than one, and she sees no continued use for her existence. Meeting Charlie (and not killing herself) starts to bring her out of her sadness. She's got a spark of self-worth left. If Charlie can nurture that, Alice may have a chance. She's a terrific counterpoint to Charlie. She's strong and independent but needs to lean on Charlie to see that she has much to live for.

Inspector Javrouche is mean, spiteful and really, really dislikes Charlie. There are reasons for this which become apparent over the course of the novel. His behavior towards Charlie is the catalyst for a lot of what happens in the novel though Charlie's saving of Alice is the linchpin event.

There is a fabulous cast of supporting characters as well - Charlie's friends and co-workers. In particular his best friend and mentor, Cartwright, is just lovely.

The Ferryman Institute is steeped in Greco-Roman lore. The Institute's history is deeply interesting and there are quite a few surprises about the Institute's founding, how it works, and its bureaucracy. Gigl has created a well thought out and developed backdrop to the novel.

The Ferryman Institute is a terrific novel. It's full of action, tension, excitement, and fascinating characters. It's a really, really fun read with moments of both laughter and introspection. Charlie Dawson is a reluctant hero, but a hero nonetheless.

About Colin

Interview with Colin Gigl and Review of The Ferryman Institute
Photo by Carly Gigl
Colin Gigl is a graduate of Trinity College with degrees in creative writing and computer science (no, he’s not quite sure how that happened, either). He currently works at a start-up in New York and lives with his wife in New Jersey.

Website  ~  Twitter @cgigl  ~  Facebook

Feature: Seize the Night edited by Christopher Golden

I was looking for something scary to read for Halloween and Seize the Night edited by Christopher Golden caught my eye. After the candy has been handed out and the night becomes quiet it will be time to read!

Halloweek Reading to SEIZE THE NIGHT!
Enjoying a great treat is not just for kids on Halloween. Indulge yourself this week and read SEIZE THE NIGHT: NEW TALES OF VAMPIRIC TERROR, the new “stellar anthology of tales” (Publishers Weekly Starred Review), sure to quench your thirst for a Horrific Halloween read! Conjuring reactions such as “Going back to the heydays of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot” and “For anyone who likes tales of the creepy sort like Stephen King’s short stories in Everything’s Eventual or Nightmares & Dreamscapes,” how can one resist?

Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror
Edited by Christopher Golden
Gallery Books, October 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Feature: Seize the Night edited by Christopher Golden
A blockbuster anthology of original, blood-curdling vampire fiction from New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors, including Charlaine Harris, whose novels were adapted into HBO’s hit show True Blood, and Scott Smith, publishing his first work since The Ruins.

Before being transformed into romantic heroes and soft, emotional antiheroes, vampires were figures of overwhelming terror. Now, from some of the biggest names in horror and dark fiction, comes this stellar collection of short stories that make vampires frightening once again. Edited by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden and featuring all-new stories from such contributors as Charlaine Harris, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Scott Smith, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Michael Kortya, Kelley Armstrong, Brian Keene, David Wellington, Seanan McGuire, and Tim Lebbon, Seize the Night is old-school vampire fiction at its finest.


"Up in Old Vermont" by Scott Smith
"Something Lost, Something Gained" by Seanan McGuire
"On the Dark Side of Sunlight Basin" by Michael Koryta
The Neighbors" by Sherrilyn Kenyon
"Paper Cuts" by Gary A. Braunbeck
"Miss Fondevant" by Charlaine Harris
"In a Cavern, In a Canyon" by Laird Barron
"Whiskey and Light" by Dana Cameron
"We Are All Monsters Here" by Kelley Armstrong
"May the End Be Good" by Tim Lebbon
"Mrs. Popkin" by Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry
"Direct Report" by Leigh Perry
"Shadow and Thirst" by John Langan
"Mother" by Joe McKinney
"Blood" by Robert Shearman
"The Yellow Death" by Lucy A. Snyder
"Last Supper" by Brian Keene
"Separator" by Rio Youers
"What Kept You So Long?" by John Ajvide Lindqvist
"Blue Hell" by David Wellington

“The notion of the romantic vampire is transcended to chilling and even heartbreaking effect in this stellar anthology of tales…These stories move smoothly from the subtle to the horrifying…”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Twenty stories of varying lengths offer quick bites of otherworldly entertainment. Edited by Christopher Golden, this collection takes vampire fiction back to its bloody, frightful roots. Readers looking for old-school horror laden with darkness will appreciate these diverse stories from some of the best writers in the genre…all are entertaining…With new spins on classic traditions and inventive, unexpected twists, it’s the perfect spooky read for Halloween — or any night that calls for a touch of terror.”
—RT Book Reviews

“The twenty-one authors collected in this volume have…succeeded in returning vampires and their ilk back into our nightmares where they belong…each tale delivered the goods. And by goods, I mean terror…These are not your Count Dracula vampire stories, but thankfully they’re not of the friendly variety either. What they all have in common is that each and every story is a cut above the ordinary. My highest recommendation.”
—Cemetery Dance

About the Editor

Feature: Seize the Night edited by Christopher Golden
Christopher Golden is the #1 New York Times bestselling and Bram Stoker Award-winning author of such novels as Snowblind, Tin Men, Of Saints and Shadows, and The Boys Are Back in Town. His novel with Mike Mignola, Baltimore; or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was the launching pad for the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series Baltimore. As an editor, he has compiled the short story anthologies The New Dead, The Monster’s Corner, and Dark Duets, among others, and has also written and co-written numerous comic books, video games, and screenplays. Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world. Please visit him at

Review: Devil's Pocket by John Dixon

Devil's Pocket
Author:  John Dixon
Publisher:  Gallery Books, August 4, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  $10.99 (print); $8.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781476738666 (print); 9781476738710 (eBook)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

Review: Devil's Pocket by John Dixon
The follow-up to the critically acclaimed Phoenix Island, which reads like “Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke” (F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack) and inspired the CBS TV show Intelligence.

With a chip in his head and hundreds more throughout his body, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman was turned from an orphan with impulse control issues into a super-soldier. Forced into the mercenary Phoenix Force group, he begins to fear he’ll never escape. Sent to a volcanic island to fight for them, he’ll compete in a combat tournament that awards teens with survival for merciless brutality. But just when all looks lost, he spies a friendly face…and possibly a way out.

Trinitytwo's Point of View

In the hard hitting sequel to John Dixon's award winning Phoenix Island protagonist Carl Freeman finds himself in the Devil's Pocket. The chip that has enhanced Carl's mind and body has transformed him into the ultimate fighting machine. It's made him stronger and faster, but has also unleashed a murderous rage which takes all of his discipline to curb. When Commander Stark offers a new assignment with a reward he can't refuse, Carl happily accepts. His mission is to win the Funeral Games in which fighters from all over the world will battle in a secret arena. Stark promises Carl the position of second in command if he triumphs, which would allow Carl the opportunity to get the information he desperately needs to destroy Phoenix Island for good. If there is one thing Carl knows, it's how to fight and he finds himself excited to be a part of this blood sport competition. However, the stakes at the Funeral Games are deadlier than Carl ever imagined and even his enhancement chip won't prevent him from ending up against the ropes.

Devil's Pocket is a combination of jabs, crosses and uppercuts that will keep its readers engrossed in its pages. Dixon's sequel packs a punch and the savagery of the cage fighting sequences really had me on the edge of my seat. I like the unexpected twists and turns in the storyline. Unlike Phoenix Island, this book is not a straightforward psychological thriller, as Dixon adds a healthy dose of intrigue and espionage to the mix. He also reunites Carl with some old allies and enemies with accompanying complications. The novel's ominous setting creates the perfect backdrop for the action. Dixon definitely knows his fighting techniques, so much so that this book may not be for those squeamish souls who cringe at blood. Not being one of those people, I really enjoyed the fighting choreography and at times felt I was sitting ringside. Another positive is Carl's character development. It rang true that his limited life experiences would cause him heartache. I appreciated that even though the chip has made Carl something of a superhuman, at heart he is still a teenage boy struggling with difficult decisions and the fallout of his own mistakes.

Devil's Pocket can definitely stand alone, however I would point prospective readers in the direction of Phoenix Island to start. I highly recommend this book to readers who like fast-paced, action-packed thrillers.

Read Trinitytwo's review of Phoenix Island here.

Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Owl and the Japanese Circus
Author:  Kristi Charish
Series:  Owl 1
Publisher:  Gallery Books, January 13, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
List Price: $18.00 (print); $5.99 (digital)
ISBN: 9781476794990 (print); 9781476778679 (digital)
Review Copy: Provided by The Publisher

Review: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish
Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

Doreen’s Thoughts

While the description portrays Alix/Owl as an “Indiana Jane,” she reminds me more of a reluctant thief than an archaeologist. I love her rule about “no supernatural jobs ever” – it just seems guaranteed to bring her back to the supernatural world. The story starts out with Owl hiding out with her pet Egyptian Mau cat, Captain. I love the detail that Mau cats are bred to fight vampires and sing out whenever they scent one. What a great warning system for someone on the run from vampires!

I appreciated Owl’s best friend, Nadya, and her new friend, Rynn. They both are good foils for Owl, and the reader learns about Owl and what motivates her through interactions with the two of them. She is honest and loyal, and that resonates with her friends. In addition to being an archaeological thief, she also is a master gamer, and she becomes embroiled with an online hacker who feels she does not spend enough time playing computer games.

It is obvious from the opening chapter that Owl wants absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything supernatural, and in some ways, this hampers her. However, Mr. Kurosawa really gives her no choice when he makes his offer – find the artifact and never have to deal with vampires again or else be eaten by a dragon. So Owl reluctantly begins to fulfill her job, returning to Japan and reaching out to sources there and around the world to try to find some hint about the location of the artifact. Ultimately, she travels to Bali, and here Kristi Charish’s descriptions really shine.

As an important man, Mr. Kurosawa has two primary servants with whom Owl is supposed to interact, the former samurai, Mr. Oricho, and the Lady Siyu, both of whom are probably supernatural creatures themselves. While the Lady Siyu gets on Owl’s nerves, Mr. Oricho almost becomes a friend to her and is especially helpful in finding the artifact.

There is a twist at the end of the story that I would never have suspected without some understanding of Japanese culture, and even with that knowledge, I was surprised and pleased with the development. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Owl and the Japanese Circus and look forward to more adventures with Owl. My one quibble is this – how Owl acquired her nickname is never explained, and that mystery still bothers me!

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC AuthorsInterview with M.G. Wheaton, author of Emily EternalReview: Little Heaven by Nick CutterInterview with Catherine Burns, author of The VisitorsMelanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017Interview with Colin Gigl and Review of The Ferryman InstituteSpotlight: Ghost Run by J. L. Bourne and Day by Day GiveawayFeature: Seize the Night edited by Christopher GoldenReview: Devil's Pocket by John DixonReview: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

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