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Guest Blog by Claire R. McDougall - The Balls are in Your Court - April 14, 2014


Please welcome Claire R. McDougall to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Veil of Time, Claire's debut novel, was published on March 11, 2014 by Gallery Books. You may read our interview with Claire here.



Guest Blog by Claire R. McDougall - The Balls are in Your Court - April 14, 2014




The Balls are in Your Court

I was told a story recently which shows just how whimsical this publishing business is and why you shouldn't give up.

Here is Jenny's story: she wrote 8 novels that didn’t sell. In 2000 she got an agent. In the next 13 years, she had 3 agents and had her eighth novel come very close to being accepted by several major publishers, always to miss at the very end.

One day she wrote Nancy Pickard a fan note about Nancy's new book, Scent of Rain and Lightening. They got into an email exchange and when Nancy learned how close her novel had come several times, she offered to read it. (Something she normally never does.) And she liked it! So much so that she sent it to her editor at Ballantine (something else she has never done.)

Her editor liked it! And the novel is now out in hard cover. (Title is Cover of Snow). Ballantine accepted the manuscript 2 years ago and even though it was already highly polished, Jenny spent another year of polishing under the aegis of her editor.

Jenny’s story sounds a lot like mine, except in my case there was no magical fan note and no celebrated author to get me to that publisher. I went along to agent meetings at the local writer’s conference every summer for many years until finally one of my (8) manuscripts was picked up by a New York agent. And even then it took a couple of years until the manuscript sold, and even then it wasn’t even the manuscript he had picked up but one I wrote while waiting for the first one to sell!

The late John Denver who hailed from this area, was due once to meet his brother for a round of golf at a local course. When his brother arrived at the clubhouse, he was handed a couple of golf balls by the superintendent: "John said to give you these. He says, for this game you're going to need balls." Same goes for writing and publishing and any other stage for which there is a glut of performers standing in the wings.

The problem is, that glut of artists needs to get through a barrier manned by folk who often wouldn't know a good piece of art if it jumped up and did a belly dance. I know people all through the arts facing this. I always say there are two levels of art in any given age: there's real art and then there's fashion. Fashion always has its guardians, the ones who need to attach themselves to trends to give themselves some sense of identity. These are the guardians of buzz and not to be mistaken for wizards. Wizards are few and far between.

So, the lesson today is: Keep pushing ahead! Elbow those twits out of the way and get to the stage. Sing your song for all your worth. Turn deaf ears on the boos if they come, and on the applause if it comes instead. Both are empty responses. You should be listening to your heart. That's all. Here endeth the first lesson.





Veil of Time

Veil of Time
Gallery Books, March 11, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Guest Blog by Claire R. McDougall - The Balls are in Your Court - April 14, 2014
A compelling tale of two Scotlands—one modern, one ancient—and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart? 





About Claire

Guest Blog by Claire R. McDougall - The Balls are in Your Court - April 14, 2014
Claire R McDougall was born and raised in Scotland. The daughter of a minister, she moved from parish to parish until her family settled in rural Argyll when she was twelve. After high school she moved to Germany to work as an au pair for a year, then studied at Edinburgh University pursuing a masters degree in philosophy (with a detour to Dartmouth College.) From Edinburgh she went on scholarship for four years to Christ Church, Oxford, where she attempted to shake the foundations by writing a thesis on Nietzsche and Christianity. No luck there, and, anyway, the writing life was calling. For a couple of years Claire wrote a column for a New Hampshire newspaper. A move to Aspen, Colorado, coincided with her first forays into the genre of poetry, and from there she explored the short story form, finally settling on writing novels. Claire's first novel to be published comes out March 2014.

Website  ~  Twitter @Kilmartin1978


Interview with Claire R. McDougall, author of Veil of Time - March 7, 2014


Please welcome Claire R. McDougall to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Veil of Time, Claire's debut novel, will be published on March 11, 2014 by Gallery Books.



Interview with Claire R. McDougall, author of Veil of Time - March 7, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Claire:  Thank you for this invitation to present my book as I see it.

I think I must always have had the urge to write. When I was around ten years old, I wrote a novella (very short, but seemed like a marathon at the time!) When I went to work in Germany after high school, I quickly found out the word for writer (Schriftsteller) and told people that’s what I wanted to become. And then I spent eight years working on two degrees in philosophy! So, I lost the thread for a while there. But I wasn’t good at academic writing – the metaphors and images kept pushing their way in, much to my tutors’ consternation. I started writing poetry when I took up creative writing again, and it felt like a huge relief to let all this subterranean life out into words. I knew I had come home.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Claire:  Without a doubt, a pantser (I had to look that one up!) My mental image for what I do when I start a story is of me standing before a great forest in the dark with a flashlight. I only ever see as much as the small light in front of me illumines. At the start of a story, I gather my players, and then I listen to how they interact. The plot comes out of the characters, though I probably have a sense of the overarching arc of the story somewhere in the back of my mind, much as, if I were really walking through a forest in the dark, I would have a sense of the direction I was moving in. DH Lawrence is the best example of a pantser, so much so that he couldn’t really re-work any story, but had to go back out to the edge of the forest and walk through it again. That’s why we have two versions of Lady Chatterly’s Lover.



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

Claire:  I find, like a lot of writers, that a routine of time and place is essential. Mornings are the best time for me, going into my office, going through a little ritual of performing meaningless tasks until I sit down at my desk and look at the screen. At that point, I pass (hopefully pass) into the creative space from which art emanates. As far as what is challenging – the hardest thing is having any sense at all for the quality of what is coming out of me. Everything I write is like a child to me, and like a parent, I look at it fondly and declare it beautiful. Sometimes I have to face the fact that it isn’t beautiful, that the baby is in fact ugly. I wish I had a literary meter with a red needle, like a tuner, that swung into the “Excellent” range or the “Stinky” one. Then it would be easy.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Claire:  For influences I would have to say DH Lawrence, not so much for style but for his interest in the psychology of relationships. For style, I think the poets influenced me as much as anyone – all the lovely lines of Dylan Thomas, the beautiful images of WB Yeats. The Scottish writer Lewis Grassic Gibbon drew me in and opened for me the possibility of a Celtic canvas for my literary endeavours. John Steinbeck is a fantastic writer, and if I had nothing but his novels to feast off for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t go hungry. There is so much there. In literature I look for meaty prose – Paul Harding, James Galvin and Joe Henry .



TQ:  Describe Veil of Time in 140 characters or less.

Claire:  Veil of Time is a book about time. “What is time?” is one of the most fundamental questions we as a race have asked ourselves. I want to say that time is a fabrication that we impose on experience.



TQ:  Tell us something about Veil of Time that is not in the book description.

Claire:  I grew up about three miles away from the location for the book, Dunadd Fort. My childhood friend eventually bought the farm at the base of the hill, and when I go back to Scotland, this is where I like to stay, right in the cottage where my protagonist has the seizures that transport her back to Dunadd Fort in its heyday. The modern part of the story is very visceral for me – I can smell the soil on the banks of the river that winds through the farm and feel the inch-think moss at my fingertips as it grows in the crevices of the walls. When Maggie climbs the path to the top of the fort, I am right there with her, stepping along the slabs of stone and breathing in the smell of head high bracken.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Veil of Time?

Claire:  I had for some time wanted to write about this place Dunadd which sits in a valley surrounded by stone artifacts from an age that we really know little about. We know a little about the fort itself because of archeological digs, and what they have turned up has been quite astounding – we normally think of a distant age like that of eighth century rural Scotland as lost in this swirl of what we have termed “The Dark Ages.” We think of the people as little more than cavemen. But the archeologists have found shards from glasses up there, evidence of French wine and intricately fashioned jewellery. They assume that there was much trade going on with the rest of Britain from Dunadd, as well as with continental Europe and beyond. So the place is magical, and I wished there was a way for me to write about it. I have already written several novels set in other parts of the area. But I couldn’t see writing about Dunadd except in its heyday. When Audrey Niffenegger’s book, “The Time Travel’s Wife,” came out to great applause from the literary community, I realized that here I might have my vehicle.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Veil of Time?

Claire:  I did research for the book on an as-needed basis. Not much is known about the era, and so quite a bit of it had to be filled in from other sources (for instance, from other more primitive yet not less sophisticated peoples. I used at least one ceremony from a Native American source.) I did have to keep fact-checking things like, when potatoes made it to Scotland, or even carrots – what resources did they have for living on a daily basis? I had to know which animals, now extinct in Scotland, once roamed the countryside. I spent some time in the Scottish Museum in Edinburgh, because they have a whole basement full of ancient Scottish relics, and a reconstructed house from the era. It was interesting to learn that Whisky, Scotland’s national drink, didn’t actually make it on to the scene until it was brought in with the establishment of Christian monasteries. It was very important for me to get things like this right.



TQ:  Why did you choose to write a Time Travel Romance? Do you want to write in any other genres or sub-genres?

Claire:  I never did set out to write a time travel romance. It just so happens that the book uses time travel as a means of exploring an important part of Scottish history (that is, the interface between the old goddess religion and the incursion of Christianity.) Being a student of DH Lawrence, I couldn’t have written a story without a primary love relationship. So, Veil of Time, does have the components of a time travel romance, but I don’t personally think of it as belonging to that genre.

As for other genres, I have written a young adult book called “Mustang” about the plight of the wild mustangs in the west. One of my other novels is really a heist about the robbery of ancient Scottish artifacts from the British Museum in London by a wild Scottish nationalist – I suppose that is a different genre. Most of my books are just literary fiction with a Scottish setting.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Who is your favorite good guy, bad guy or ethically ambiguous character?

Claire:  I suppose the easiest character to write was my protagonist Maggie because she was the closest to myself. I was constantly trying to make her different from me, though: I don’t have epilepsy for one thing, and I am not divorced for another, neither have I lost a child. But the way it goes – her opinions pretty much align with mine. I’m not sure if that is a fault, but the writer is always present in the writing, unless you are writing formulaic stories in particular genres. Jim Galvin, Maggie’s neighbor, was a fun character to write. I enjoyed writing the banter between the two of them, because I enjoy banter in life. Fergus was probably one of the more difficult characters to write – he kept eluding me, really. I do like him, though, as he came out in the end. He is trying to come to terms with a lot of things in himself, but he has a good moral compass. Murdoch was easier, because his motives and modus operandi are just more straightforward – there is less soul to explore in his case. And yet Murdoch isn’t all villain – you do empathise with him as well as condemn him.


TQ:  Give us one of your favorite lines from Veil of Time.

Claire:  “I come from Scotland in the twenty-first century, where there are no more witches except at Halloween, and even then they are not proper witches, but just cartoons.”



TQ:  What's next?

Claire:  After the enormous labour of birthing this book, I want to take a few deep breaths, and then jump right back in to the whole process again and get the sequel (which I have already written) published. That’s in the short term. In the long term, I have a backlog of novels, including my Y/A horse story, that need a bit of brushing up, but which I hope to see in print. And then of course, there will probably be a sequel to the sequel of “Veil of Time.”



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Claire:  Thank you for this opportunity to share the word about my book and help propel it into the world. I appreciate it very much.





Veil of Time

Veil of Time
Gallery Books, March 11, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Claire R. McDougall, author of Veil of Time - March 7, 2014
A compelling tale of two Scotlands—one modern, one ancient—and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart? 





About Claire

Interview with Claire R. McDougall, author of Veil of Time - March 7, 2014
Claire R McDougall was born and raised in Scotland. The daughter of a minister, she moved from parish to parish until her family settled in rural Argyll when she was twelve. After high school she moved to Germany to work as an au pair for a year, then studied at Edinburgh University pursuing a masters degree in philosophy (with a detour to Dartmouth College.) From Edinburgh she went on scholarship for four years to Christ Church, Oxford, where she attempted to shake the foundations by writing a thesis on Nietzsche and Christianity. No luck there, and, anyway, the writing life was calling. For a couple of years Claire wrote a column for a New Hampshire newspaper. A move to Aspen, Colorado, coincided with her first forays into the genre of poetry, and from there she explored the short story form, finally settling on writing novels. Claire's first novel to be published comes out March 2014.

Website  ~  Twitter @Kilmartin1978

Review: Four Summoner’s Tales by Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Golden, David Liss, and Jonathan Maberry


Four Summoner’s Tales
Authors:  Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Golden, David Liss, and Jonathon Maberry
Publisher:  Gallery Books, September 17, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $16.00 U.S.
ISBN:  9781451696684
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Four Summoner’s Tales by Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Golden, David Liss, and Jonathan Maberry
Four bestselling authors. One hellraising premise.
What if the dead could be summoned from their graves—for a price? What if a quartet of distinctive storytellers took a stab at this deceptively simple idea—on a dare? The answers lie here, in Four Summoner’s Tales, as these acclaimed writers accept the challenge and rise to the occasion—in four brilliantly chilling ways. It’s all in the execution. . .

“SUFFER THE CHILDREN” BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG, #1 New York Times bestselling author
A preacher and his adopted daughter must solve the mystery of the newcomers to their isolated 19th century village—men who are preying on residents' overwhelming grief with promises to bring the stricken back to life.

“PIPERS” BY CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN, New York Times bestselling author
Twenty-three people have already lost their lives to the ruthless cartel terrorizing their small Texas border town. But one man has a plan for revenge, if the town’s survivors will let him use their loved ones—to raise an army of the undead.

“A BAD SEASON FOR NECROMANCY” BY DAVID LISS, National bestselling author
In merry old England, a rascally con man stumbles upon a book for raising the dead. But instead of using it to make money by reviving relatives for the rich, he'll do just the opposite. Because some family skeletons need to stay buried.

“ALIVE DAY” BY JONATHAN MABERRY, New York Times bestselling author
In war-torn Afghanistan, a U.S. military operative and his team face off against an ancient horror during a harrowing off-the-books search-and-rescue mission.



Doreen’s Thoughts

What a great premise – four different authors take on the same concept, raising the dead for a price! Even though the stories were basically the same, as the tagline said, “It’s all in the execution. . .”

Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Suffer the Children’ takes place in the backwoods of Canada during the late 19th Century. In it, Addie is a young fosterling being raised by Preacher and his wife, Sophia. After a tragic epidemic killed most of the children in the village, a peddler and his old assistant come into town offering to raise the children – for a price. What follows next is a sad tale as parents are asked the question – what are you willing to pay to bring back your loved one? Armstrong does a terrific job as she shifts her perspective back and forth between Addie and Preacher in telling the tale.

Christopher Golden’s story, ‘Pipers,’ raises an army of the dead to face the cartel that has been terrorizing their small Texas border town and riffs on the story of ‘The Pied Piper.” Golden’s main character, Zeke Prater, loses his daughter during a massive cartel drive-by attack and then takes up an offer to get revenge for her murder. Along with 22 other “proxies” - family members willing to raise the dead, Prater uses a bone pipe and blood magic to raise the girl. When the group of avengers is double-crossed, things go south quickly. Out of all of the stories, I liked the ending to this one the least. But Golden does a great job describing how the dead are healed as they come back to life, and the ending definitely was in keeping with the overall premise of the four stories.

David Liss uses medieval England as the setting for his “A Bad Season for Necromancy.” His con man, Reginald January, takes on the persona of a gentleman of leisure so that he might secure for himself a wealthy bride. But when he discovers a book for raising the dead, he uses it as a threat against a group of Four Widows and their entourage who have acquired their wealth through the deaths of relatives. When they refuse to pay his blackmail, he raises a dead husband in revenge and, at that point, loses control of his own power. He winds up raising his own father to get him out of his dilemma. This story was very interesting as its use of language mimicked stories from that time period.

Lastly, Jonathan Maberry sets his character, Captain Joe Ledger, in the middle of a war zone in Afghanistan with three other military team members in an effort to rescue another lost team. While I don’t typically enjoy militaristic stories, the addition of an elder demon/deity was a nice touch. The story itself flashes back to the past, focusing on the first team’s efforts and how their mission went wrong, before jumping to the present, where the second team tries to recreate the story and find the lost team members. The story is dark and graphically violent, with what seem to be flesh-eating zombies in thrall to the demon/deity.

Overall, the stories were basically the same – what happens when someone offers to bring back the dead, but the delivery of each author was distinct and unique. As mentioned before, the premise bring up many questions – what would you be willing to give to have your loved one restored to life? Are you willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice, a life for a life? If you do pay, what will you bring back? Four Summoner’s Tales was an experiment that delivered well on its premise.

2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2014 Winner


The winner of the January 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover wars is Phoenix Rising by John Dixon with 52% of the votes.


2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2014 Winner
 Jacket Design by John Vario, Jr.
Photo of fist © Photogrpher's Choice/Getty Images
Photo of vine © Suzana Profeta/E+/Getty Images





The Final Results

 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2014 Winner





The January 2014 Debut Covers

2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2014 Winner





Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the February Debut covers starting on February 15, 2014.  Look for the list of February's Debuts on February 1st.


Interview with John Dixon, author of Phoenix Island - January 23, 2014


Please welcome John Dixon to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  Phoenix Island, John's debut novel, was published on January 7, 2014 by Gallery Books.







TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

John:  My third grade teacher, Mrs. Wolfe, had us write stories and made all the difference in the world by praising mine. She even went so far as typing up one of them, a silly, didactic story about animals in a courtroom, and she told my parents that I would be a writer someday. I was a bad kid, but her praise and support gave me confidence in something more than just my fists. Needless to say, I thank her extensively in my acknowledgements, and I sent her a copy along with a heartfelt thank you. I don’t know if teachers always know the difference they make, even with very young kids, but Mrs. Wolfe was one of the most important people in my life.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

John:  I’m a weird hybrid of the two, still trying to figure out his best process. By nature, I’m a pantser all the way, but by imposing plotting with an emphasis on structure, I was able to write Phoenix Island in ten months. With the sequel, I planned perhaps too much initially, felt a waning of excitement, then took a step back, and whoosh – here came the fun again. As I continue to write, hopefully I’ll find my proper balance between the two. Ideally, I think, I would craft a skeletal outline upon which I could hang spontaneous scene work.



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

John:  Right now, with the book and the show coming out, the most challenging thing for me is protecting my writing time. I write anytime and anywhere, but I prefer to work on my Alphasmart Neo word processor at flimsy table in a guestroom upstairs (directly overtop, ironically enough, the dedicated office, with its roll top desk and PC). I like a Spartan workspace. The word processor and off-the-grid guestroom protect me from distractions.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

John:  Since I was just a kid, literary influences have hovered over me, waxing and waning like moons of exquisite beauty. Ray Bradbury always made me feel like writing, and certainly Phoenix Island was influenced by the comic books of my youth and childhood favorites like The Lord of the Flies, The Island of Dr. Moreau, “The Most Dangerous Game”, and the novels and short stories of Jack London, America’s most unfairly and unfortunately pigeon-holed writer. Over the last decade, however, I’ve learned the most from my favorite authors, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy, and a lot from other favorites, like Thomas Harris, Jack Ketchum, S.E. Hinton, and Robert Lipsyte.



TQ:  Describe Phoenix Island in 140 characters or less.

JohnPrison Break meets The Lord of the Flies – starring a sixteen-year-old Jason Bourne.



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

John:  The main character, Carl Freeman, has one fatal flaw: he can’t ignore bullies. He’s a zero tolerance anti-bullying program on two legs, and his inability to dismiss injustice causes him no end of trouble.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Phoenix Island? Why did you choose to write a dystopian thriller? Do you want to write in any other genres?

John:  I have written widely in the short form and will continue to write in other genres.

Dystopian stories are my way of worrying about the future, while still creating characters capable of dealing with darkness. In a sense, I’m creating the mythology of my nightmare future. In terms of society, I suppose I’m a pessimist, but in terms of the human heart, I always be a terminal optimist. If the world goes bust and people must suffer, I believe some people will suffer bravely, even beautifully.

Phoenix Island came at me from a bunch of directions, unconnected experiences and ideas coalescing over time, but the heart of it grew out of two sources: hope and rage. From the get-go, I knew I wanted to write a story about a kid who, like so many people I’ve known, doesn’t really fit into polite society but who nonetheless possesses great strength and potential, given the right circumstances. Then I heard about the unbelievably disgusting “Kids for Cash” case, where judges from my home state of Pennsylvania made money by convicting kids to privately run boot camps for teen offenders. My high hopes for people I’d known met my rage over this unbelievable injustice, and the book blew up in my head.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Phoenix Island?

John:  The most important research came quite unintentionally through osmosis with life, from my experiences as a boxer, a teacher, a prison tutor, a caseworker for at-risk youth, and, of course, a lifelong reader with too many interests. Phoenix Island is a contemporary thriller, the story of a tough kid in tough conditions, so these experiences took me a long way, but science is important – even integral – to the book, so in that sense it is also science fiction. The book, series, and TV adaptation all deal with the question of trans-humanism, which fascinates me. Thanks to amazing sources, good people like Dr. Gary Della Zanna and Dr. John Dougherty, both of the National Institutes of Health, and the guidance of Intelligence’s executive producer, Tripp Vinson, who would get in touch, telling me to watch a specific Ted Talk, read a helpful book, or Google some bit of cutting-edge science, research was an absolute blast – as were the purely imaginative brainstorming sessions that helped me go from fact to fiction.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Who is your favorite good guy, bad guy or ethically ambiguous character?

John:  The easiest character to write was Carl, because I knew him so well, almost intuitively, before I’d even started the book. He is in many ways the person I wish I had been, though I would hate to go through the things he suffers.

The most difficult character to write was Carl’s friend Octavia, because she’s a girl, and that’s something I’ve never been. I’ve written comfortably from the point-of-view of women and younger females, but I found myself on sometimes uncertain ground while in the head and heart of a seventeen-year-old girl.

My favorite ethically ambiguous character is Motorcycle Boy from S.E. Hinton’s mind-blowing masterpiece, Rumble Fish, which I’ve read no fewer than twenty times. Francis Ford Coppola, who directed the film version, called Rumble Fish “Camus for kids” – a true enough statement, I reckon, and one predicated primarily upon the things Motorcycle Boy says and does.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite lines from Phoenix Island.

John:  “With the hard darkness of night, the jungle became a madhouse of sounds: cries and squawks; squeals and snorts; hoots and gibbers; something large bellowing deeper in the woods – and under it all, the constant, deafening chorus of insects pulsed with noise, and this peeping, bleating rhythm was to him the heartbeat of night in the jungle, wild with fear and hunger and menace.”



TQ:  What's next?

John:  Right now, I’m having a blast writing Devil’s Pocket, the sequel to Phoenix Island, and I’m excited that “The Laughing Girl of Bora Fanong”, a short story I coauthored with Adam Browne, has shacked up with amazing Australian animator Adam Duncan, who’s planning to develop it into a graphic novel.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

John:  Thanks so much for having me. I had a lot of fun chatting with you.





Phoenix Island

Phoenix Island
Gallery Books, January 7, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

The judge told Carl that one day he’d have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him.

A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble—using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island.

Classified as a “terminal facility,” it’s the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States—and immune to its laws—the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname “Hollywood” as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the “sweatbox.” But that’s nothing compared to what awaits him in the “Chop Shop”—a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of.

A new life. . . .

A new body. A new brain.

Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he’s not sure he wants to become.

For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence.

And for Carl, it’s just the beginning. . . .





About John

Photograph by Andrew McLean
John Dixon’s debut novel, Phoenix Island, inspired the CBS TV series Intelligence. A former boxer, teacher, and stone mason, John now writes full time and serves as a consultant to ABC Studios. He lives in West Chester, PA, with his wife, Christina, and their freeloading pets. When not reading or writing, he obsesses over boxing, chess, and hot peppers.

Website

Facebook

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2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Veil of Time by Claire R. McDougall



2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Veil of Time by Claire R. McDougall


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.




Claire R. McDougall

Veil of Time
Gallery Books, March 11, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Veil of Time by Claire R. McDougall
A compelling tale of two Scotlands—one modern, one ancient—and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart? 



Guest Blog by Claire R. McDougall - The Balls are in Your Court - April 14, 2014Interview with Claire R. McDougall, author of Veil of Time - March 7, 2014Review: Four Summoner’s Tales by Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Golden, David Liss, and Jonathan Maberry2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January 2014 WinnerInterview with John Dixon, author of Phoenix Island - January 23, 20142014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Veil of Time by Claire R. McDougall

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