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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014


I have better reading news for you this time. I didn't like admitting last week that I had only finished one book.  This however, has benefited me this week as the two books I had started last week plus the new ones I started and finished this week makes me sound like a Reading Olympian. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014
I finished The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. I LOVED this book. It was a beautiful book to read with the perfect balance of character and plot development. This was the story of love and friendship where a golem without a master and an enslaved djinni find their way in their respective communities of New York in the late 1800's. It was not just a story of their lives but it also discussed the societal and religious aspects of both the Jewish and Muslim communities where both characters found themselves. This was one of the few books I have read that didn't try to ram religion down my throat and I was really intrigued by what I learned about both cultures and religions. Wecker created a lovely story of both loneliness and longing. I loved everything from the first first word to the very last one. This is a definite must read so if you haven't bought it then make haste and buy it asap! Note: In the US the title is The Golem and the Jinni.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014
I also finished The Singer by Elizabeth Hunter. This was the second instalment of the Irin Chronicles. I have mixed feelings about this series. I don't normally like books about angels and they really have to have something special in order for me to want to read more than one of them. This series has been fairly predictable so far but for some reason I want to keep reading it. I guessed almost every plot twist well before it happened. The hero and heroine don't really shine in this second book but I do think that their love story has an interesting twist...twisted enough for me to want to continue to book three. I can't say too much without giving it all away.

Once I finished this I turned to an eArc that I had forgotten about -The Buried Life by Carrie Patel. This is a debut novel and I am planning to write a full review.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014I then switched genre to another book on my TBR - Bad Blood by Chuck Wendig. This is a novella in the Double Dead series.This was NOT a book for a mid week commute. It came across just a bit ...too much, almost too crass. I didn't enjoy it as much as Double Dead. This is definitely a series where you need a time and place to read it. It was gory with a capital 'G' and very unsettling. Wendig is one of the few authors that I like their irreverence and love of gore and swearing but it felt forced in this story.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014Onwards and upwards in the unsettling stakes and I turned to Mira Grant with Parasite (Parisitology 1). I am partway through this novel and I can see why Grant has been nominated for a Hugo. It's almost like she has a brain the size of an asteroid in order to think up such a well constructed plot. Whole sections make you feel like you are reading someone's PhD thesis instead of fiction (at least I hope it is fiction!). I don't want to say too much until I am finished so check in next week to see what I thought.

Well ladies and gentleman that is it for me. I am looking forward to telling you what I have been up to on the reading front next week. I feel quite chuffed with what I accomplished this past week even though that was at the expense of my WIR last week. I hope you find something you read that you love as I did with Wecker's tale of friendship.  Let me know what you read. Until next week Happy Reading!

Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014


Well I would love to tell you all about all the great books I read this week but I can't lie...I only finished one book. So what did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014
I decided to finish off Emma Newman's Split Worlds trilogy with All Is FairI have enjoyed this series but almost in diminishing returns. I loved book 1, thought book 2 was good (see my WIR from 1st June) but was a bit indifferent about book 3. I thought William was a bit of a jerk and Cathy was the real hero of the story... although I think that was Newman's plan all along. The culmination of the Arbiter murders felt a bit forced and overall it felt like Newman was rushing towards an imaginary finish line. I liked Newman's world building and characterisation but think the series could have had a more balanced plot. That is just me nitpicking though!

I then decided to go for a book that Qwill read last year but that I haven't been able to find, reasonably priced in the UK. I came across The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker quite reasonably price so jumped on it. I haven't finished it yet but so far I am loving it. I will have more to tell you next week.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014
I was really trying to finish another book but didn't want to rush the story so decided to continue with the Irin Chronicles by Elizabeth Hunter. I started this series a few weeks ago with The Scribe and thought I could finish book The Singer (book 2) in a few hours but it wasn't to be so you will have to wait until next week to learn more about this book, as well.

I was wondering what you think of free serials. I am currently reading two. One by one of my long standing favourite authors and another by one of my newer faves. At first I thought free serials were the best thing since sliced bread.... free sliced bread that is, but I have changed my mind a bit. Free serials are only as good as the time the author has to spend writing them. Once other obligations like book tours, other writing.... or life come into play than the free book seems to drop off the radar. I have waited almost a month for a new chapter in some cases which really interferes with your reading flow. I do really appreciate that authors want to share something as amazing as a free book but wish they would think of us poor readers waiting anxiously for a new chapter!

It looks like with the World Cup on TV for the next 3 weeks I am going to have more reading time so hope to have more to share with you next week. Until then Happy Reading.


The View from Monday (on Tuesday) - April 23, 2013

Yes, I'm a day late. But, better late than never. It's a light week, but chock full of debuts.


The View from Monday (on Tuesday) - April 23, 2013



There are three debuts out today:

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway,

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley,

and

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

(Don't forget to vote for your favorite cover in the April 2013 Cover Wars here.)



This is a terrific week for Doctor Who fans as 11 novels in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection are out today in print. They were released in digital formats on March 7, 2013.




April 22, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Falke's Renegade (e) Anna Leigh Keaton PNR - Puma Nights 3
Tempest (e) Kelly Meding UF - MetaWars 3
Silent Warrior (e) Lindsey Piper PNR - Dragon Kings Prequel




April 23, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Remembrance of the Daleks Ben Aaronovitch SF - Doctor Who
The Silent Stars Go By Dan Abnett SF - Doctor Who
Fear of the Dark Trevor Baxendale SF - Doctor Who
Hot Blooded Amanda Carlson UF - Jessica McClain 2
Ten Little Aliens Stephen Cole SF - Doctor Who
Players Terrance Dicks SF - Doctor Who
Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman F/YA - Anthology
Last of the Gaderene Mark Gatiss SF - Doctor Who
The Dead Man Lee Goldberg
William Rabkin
H - Dead Man 5
A Drop of Scarlet (ri) Jemiah Jefferson H - Vampire Quartet 4
Fiend (ri) Jemiah Jefferson H - Vampire Quartet 3
Voice of the Blood (ri) Jemiah Jefferson H - Vampire Quartet 1
Wounds (ri) Jemiah Jefferson H - Vampire Quartet 2
While the Savage Sleeps Andrew E. Kaufman H
Through the Door Jodi McIsaac F - Thin Veil 1
Festival of Death Jonathan Morris SF - Doctor Who
The Mystery Woman Amanda Quick F/Th - Ladies of Lantern Street 2
The Body Departed J.R. Rain F
Earthworld Jacqueline Rayner SF - Doctor Who
Dreams of Empire Justin Richards SF - Doctor Who
The River of No Return (D) Bee Ridgway F
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope (D) Rhonda Riley F
Only Human Gareth Roberts SF - Doctor Who
Beautiful Chaos Gary Russell SF - Doctor Who
The Warrior Who Carried Life (ri) Geoff Ryman F
Do Not Touch: A Tor.Com Original (e) Prudence Shen SF
The God Patent (ri) Ransom Stephens SF
Grail of the Summer Stars Freda Warrington F - Aetherial Tales 3
The Golem and the Jinni (D) Helene Wecker F
Dinocalypse Now Chuck Wendig F/AH




April 24, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket: A Tor.Com Original (e) Thomas Olde Heuvelt F



D - Debut
e - eBook
ri - reissue or reprint


AH - Alternate History
F - Fantasy
H - Horror
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy
YA - Young Adult

Interview with Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - April 22, 2013


Please welcome Helene Wecker to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Golem and the Jinni, Helene's debut, will be published on April 23, 2013. You may read Helene's Guest Blog - On Accidentally Writing a Historical Fantasy - here.




Interview with Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - April 22, 2013




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Helene:  Thanks so much for having me here!



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Helene:  I started when I was pretty young. I don't know the "why" exactly, except that reading stories wasn't enough -- I wanted to tell them too. I kept up with it through high school and college, mostly bad imitations of whatever I was reading at the time. I remember a lot of Robert Heinlein and Emma Bull pastiches, and a few Doctor Who fanfics. It was awful stuff, and I kind of knew it, but it still felt vital to me. After college I got a "real job" and stopped writing fiction for a long time. It wasn't a good decision. Finally I had to admit that I was miserable and I hated my career, and I decided to take the leap back into writing. Not long after that I got laid off, and that gave me the push to consider getting my MFA.



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

Helene:  I do my best writing on the couch. Most of The Golem and the Jinni was written on our ratty old flower-print sofa, with my feet up on the cushions and a cat sitting on my legs. I have a very sturdy desk and a comfy ergonomic chair, but for some reason I keep gravitating back to the couch!



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Helene:  A bit of both, I think. I made a plot outline for The Golem and the Jinni, but it was pretty thin as far as outlines go, and I'd change it at the drop of a hat. It was really more a series of important scenes than an actual outline. Every time I hit a scene, I'd have to figure out how to get to the next one. It felt like wilderness orienteering.



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

Helene:  I think I'll always struggle with the sheer discipline that it takes to sit down at the desk (or couch!) every day, by myself, and start writing. I grouse about not having enough writing time, but put the keyboard in front of me and I'll immediately remember everything else I absolutely, positively have to get done right now.



TQ:  Describe The Golem and the Jinni in 140 characters or less.

Helene:  In 1899, a female golem and a male jinni arrive separately in NYC. Both struggle to hide their true natures. One night, they meet.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Golem and the Jinni?

Helene:  When I was in grad school, I started working on a series of linked short stories about my own Jewish family and my husband's Arab-America) family. A couple of the stories were okay, but the rest were terrible, frustratingly so. I was talking with a friend of mine about it, and she suggested I try a different approach. She knew that I was a total scifi/fantasy geek, and she challenged me to add a fantastical element, to take the stories out of the realm of straight-up realism. So instead of a Jewish woman and an Arab-American man, I decided to write about a golem and a jinni. I thought I was just taking a break and writing a fun little story, but then it became clear that I had a novel on my hands.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Golem and the Jinni?

Helene:  At first I spent a lot of time in the Columbia University library, photocopying all the archive materials that I could find. I had a lot of learning to do, especially about Little Syria -- I knew next to nothing about the neighborhood going in. I found a few scholarly studies, which helped immensely. Then we moved to California, and I started using Internet resources more and more. The New York Public Library online archives in particular were a huge help, especially for their photo archives. The Tenement Museum website was another source that I went back to over and over again.



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

Helene:  I think Saleh might have been the easiest character to write. He's only got one real conflict in his life: his desire to live as alone as possible versus his doctor's instinct to help others. He's not a very complicated guy! The Golem was definitely the hardest. She can hear the fears and desires of others, and if she's not careful they influence her actions -- so I always had to take into account whatever might be floating through the atmosphere around her.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Golem and the Jinni?

Helene:  The Jinni has a very memorable night out in the first half of the book, and that was a lot of fun to write. (A few of my readers have told me that it's one of their favorite scenes as well.) Towards the end of the book, there's an important scene involving a fireplace. I'd been imagining that scene for years, so it was very satisfying to finally write it!



TQ:  What's next?

Helene:  To be honest, I'm not quite certain. I've got a lot of story ideas waiting in a file on my computer. I need to open it and take a look, and see which ones are still interesting to me. I'm sure some of them will sound like total nonsense!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Helene:  It was a pleasure!





About The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
Harper, April 23, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

Interview with Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - April 22, 2013
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.





About Helene

Interview with Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - April 22, 2013
Helene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, and received her Bachelor's in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After college, she worked a number of disheartening Marketing and Communications jobs before returning to her first love, fiction writing. In 2007 she received her Master's in Fiction from Columbia University. After a dozen years spent bouncing between both coasts and the Midwest, she's finally putting down roots near San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in late April 2013 by HarperCollins.


Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook


2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts



2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts


There are 9 debuts for April.  Please note that I use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The April debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.

Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite April cover for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place later this month.

Note:  Updated to include A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar.
            Updated to include Bite Me, Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann.



Bite Me, Your Grace
Author:  Brooklyn Ann
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca, April 2, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781402274442 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
London's Lord Vampire Has Problems

Dr. John Polidori's tale "The Vampyre" burst upon the Regency scene along with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein after that notorious weekend spent writing ghost stories with Lord Byron.

A vampire crazy broke out instantly in the haut ton.

Now Ian Ashton, the Lord Vampire of London, has to attend tedious balls, linger in front of mirrors, and eat lots of garlic in an attempt to quell the gossip.

If that weren't annoying enough, his neighbor, Angelica Winthrop has literary aspirations of her own and is sneaking into his house at night just to see what she can find.

Hungry, tired, and fed up, Ian is in no mood to humor his beautiful intruder...





The Lives of Tao
Author:  Wesley Chu
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, April 30, 2013 (US/Can)
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857663290 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

File Under: Science Fiction [ The Tug of War | I Was Genghis | Diary of a Slob | Spy vs Spy ]





Promise of Blood
Series:  The Powder Mage Trilogy
Author:  Brian McClellan
Publisher:  Orbit Books, April 16, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 560 pages
Price:  $23.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780316219037 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

It's up to a few...
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...





Assassin's Gambit
Series:   Hearts and Thrones
Author:  Amy Raby
Publisher:  Signet, April 2, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780451417824 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.…





The River of No Return
Author:  Bee Ridgway
Publisher:  Dutton Adult (Penguin), April 23, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages
Price:  $27.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780525953869 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.





The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope
Author:  Rhonda Riley
Publisher:  Ecco (HarperCollins), April 23, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780062099440 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
In the waning months of World War II, young Evelyn Roe's life is transformed when she finds what she takes to be a badly burned soldier, all but completely buried in the heavy red-clay soil on her family's farm in North Carolina. When Evelyn rescues the stranger, it quickly becomes clear he is not a simple man. As innocent as a newborn, he recovers at an unnatural speed, and then begins to change—first into Evelyn's mirror image, and then into her complement, a man she comes to know as Adam.

Evelyn and Adam fall in love, sharing a connection that reaches to the essence of Evelyn's being. But the small town where they live is not ready to accept the likes of Adam, and his unusual origin becomes the secret at the center of their seemingly normal marriage.

Adam proves gifted with horses, and together he and Evelyn establish a horse-training business. They raise five daughters, each of whom possesses something of Adam's supernatural gifts. Then a tragic accident strikes the family, and Adam, in his grief, reveals his extraordinary character to the local community. Evelyn and Adam must flee to Florida with their daughters to avoid ostracism and prying doctors. Adrift in their new surroundings, they soon realize that the difference between Adam and other men is greater than they ever imagined.

Intensely moving and unforgettable, The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope captures the beauty of the natural world, and explores the power of abiding love and otherness in all its guises. It illuminates the magic in ordinary life and makes us believe in the extraordinary. 





A Stranger in Olondria
Author:  Sofia Samatar
Publisher:  Small Beer Press, April 30, 2013
Format:  Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages
Price:  $24.00 (hardcover), $16.00 (trade paperback)
ISBN:  9781618730626 (hardcover), 9781931520768 (trade paperback)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
Jevick, the pepper merchant’s son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home—but which his mother calls the Ghost Country. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick’s life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. Just as he revels in Olondria’s Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.

In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire’s two most powerful cults. Even as the country simmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of freeing himself by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that most seductive of necromancies, reading.

A Stranger in Olondria was written while the author taught in South Sudan. It is a rich and heady brew which pulls the reader in deeper and still deeper with twists and turns that hearken back to the Gormenghast novels while being as immersive as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.





The House at the End of Hope Street
Author:  Menna van Praag
Publisher:  Pamela Dorman Books (Penguin), April 4, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
Price:  $25.95 (print)
ISBN9780670784639 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen.





The Golem and the Jinni
Author:  Helene Wecker
Publisher:  Harper, April 23, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages
Price:  $26.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780062110831 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 Debuts
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.





Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013


Please welcome Helene Wecker to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Golem and the Jinni, Helene's debut, will be published on April 23, 2013.



Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013




On Accidentally Writing a Historical Fantasy

I didn't mean to write a fantastical novel about 1890s New York. It just sort of happened.

At first I didn't even have a setting. The characters just appeared in my mind, free of context. A golem, a clay creature of Jewish folklore, built to be a rich man's wife. A jinni, a fiery Arabian being, trapped in a flask for a thousand years. They arrived simultaneously, sort of peering at each other, trying to figure each other out. And then they turned to me. All right, they said, what do you plan to do with us?

I gave it some thought. I wanted to tell a story about the American immigrant experience, and the profound changes that come with life in a new country. I'd been working on a bunch of short stories about my own immigrant family, and my husband's. The stories were so-so, to put it kindly. They needed a spark. They needed something. And frankly, I was growing a little tired of quiet domestic realism. When a friend suggested I add a fantastical element—that's the stuff you love to read, so why don't you write like that?—I could feel my brain grab onto the idea, like a double cheeseburger in the hands of a starving man. Almost immediately the Golem and the Jinni sprang to life: the Golem stolid and curious, the Jinni mercurial and impatient.

So, how would they arrive in America? What setting would fit them best? Suddenly New York loomed large in my mind: the raucous, polyglot city, an explosion of peoples and cultures. It was an enticing canvas, and a little intimidating.

Next came the time period. When could these two characters, one Eastern European Jewish and one Syrian, have actually met each other in New York?

A quick trip to the library told me what I needed to know: The Venn diagram of Jewish and Syrian immigration to the U.S. intersected from the 1890s to the 1920s. The Jewish Lower East Side was already in full swing by the 1890s, but it wasn't until nearly the turn of the century that Little Syria, in what's now New York's Financial District, was a true neighborhood of its own.

Well, there it is, I thought. Late 1890s Manhattan. Better get to work.

Keep in mind that I thought I was writing another short story. In its first conception, this story was going to span a hundred years. (I think about it now, and oh, do I laugh.) My supernatural characters would live their separate lives, and every five or ten years they'd wave at each other from across the street, or maybe exchange a few words in a park. I had in mind something like Dream's once-a-century meetings with Hob Gadling in Neil Gaiman's Sandman: they would be each other's points of constancy in an ever-changing world.

I dashed off twelve pages and brought them to my writing workshop. This is interesting, they said. But slow down. Put more on the page. The details are the fun part.

So I tried to slow down, and flesh things out. But research made me impatient. I had no time, dammit! I had a story to write! So for a while, I got by on Google hit-and-runs. The rest of the details I glossed over, the writing equivalent of Vaseline on a camera lens. I gave the next installment to my workshop, and waited anxiously for their opinion.

What they said was, Stop sidestepping the details. Oh, and you know this is a novel, right? Because it's totally a novel.

And of course they were right.

So back to the library I went—and this time I stayed there for a year. I researched everything. How common were pocket-watches in the 1890s? How about indoor plumbing? What did a tenement apartment look like? How much did it cost to ride the Elevated from the Lower East Side to Central Park? What was it really like to arrive at Ellis Island?

I'd poke at a gap in my knowledge, and watch it turn into a sinkhole. The Syrians who emigrated to the United States in the 1890s weren't Muslim, as I'd assumed—they were mostly Maronite Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, two Christian denominations I knew next to nothing about. That was about a month of research right there. I started delving into Polish history for a character's backstory, and got lost in a thicket of peasant uprisings and redrawn borders and breakaway city-states. (Never, ever write about Polish history if you can avoid it. Trust me on this.) I spent days researching ancient caravan routes for an extended flashback, and then ended up cutting the whole thing. I ordered a back issue of a Catholic magazine because it had an article I needed—and soon I was getting donation requests from every missionary group and charity in the country.

Then something unexpected started to happen. Instead of just filling in holes, the research began to steer the story. At one point I learned that women in the 1890s weren't supposed to go out by themselves after dark, or they'd risk being mistaken for a prostitute. And here I had two main characters, one male and one female, who didn't need to sleep. So why not make the Golem rely on the Jinni to be her nighttime chaperone, to keep her from the appearance of impropriety? Soon my characters made a pact: one night a week, they would go out walking together. And just like that, the structure of my book fell into place, organized around those weekly visits. This happened over and over again: a stray fact or a detail in an old photo would trigger an idea, and take me in a new direction. Research, it turned out, wasn't just about pocket-watches and train fares: it was about adding depth, figuring out how these details informed the characters' lives.

It took me seven years to write this book, and I'd estimate that research accounted for at least two of them. But looking back, the research was fun, in a perverse and stressful sort of way. The longer I spent hunting for a fact, the more satisfying it felt to pin the damn thing down. At this point, if I had to write a story set in the modern day, I'm not sure how I'd do it. No research? Where would I get my ideas? This might be a sort of Stockholm syndrome for historical writers, but these days I'm glad I jumped in over my head. Next time, though, I might figure out how deep the pool is first.





About The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
Harper, April 23, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.





About Helene

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013
Helene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, and received her Bachelor's in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After college, she worked a number of disheartening Marketing and Communications jobs before returning to her first love, fiction writing. In 2007 she received her Master's in Fiction from Columbia University. After a dozen years spent bouncing between both coasts and the Midwest, she's finally putting down roots near San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in late April 2013 by HarperCollins.


Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook





2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013



2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013

I recently updated the 2013 Debut Author Challenge page with 3 new to the Challenge authors. Here is more about their debut novels.


Zachary Jernigan

No Return
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, March 5, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $26.99 (print)
Genre:  Fantasy/Genre Bender
ISBN:  9781597804561 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013
NOT FINAL COVER
On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists—only what his intentions are.

Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon—a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle—warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Tchootoo, on the far side of Jeroun’s only inhabitable continent.

From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Manshep, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Tchootoo, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow.

On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas—which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.

Who may know the mind of God? And who in their right mind would seek to defy him? Gritty, erotic, and fast-paced, author Zachary Jernigan takes you on a sensuous ride through a world at the knife-edge of salvation and destruction, in this first installment of one of the year’s most exciting fantasy epics.






Lori Sjoberg

Grave Intentions
Series: Grave Intentions
Publisher:  January 3, 2013
Format:  eBook, 96,100 words
Price:  $5.99
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
ISBN:  9781601830067

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013
He’s handsome, reliable, and punctual—the perfect gentleman when you want him to be. But this dream man is Death’s best agent—and now he’s got more than his soul to lose…

One act of mercy before dying was all it took to turn soldier David Anderson into a reaper—an immortal who guides souls-of-untimely-death into the afterlife. But the closer he gets to atoning for his mortal sin and finally escaping merciless Fate, the more he feels his own humanity slipping away for good. Until he encounters Sarah Griffith. This skeptical scientist can’t be influenced by his powers—even though she has an unsuspected talent for sensing the dead. And her honesty and irreverent sense of humor reignite his reason for living—and a passion he can’t afford to feel. Now Fate has summoned David to make a devastating last harvest. And he’ll break every hellishly-strict netherworld rule to save Sarah…and gamble on a choice even an immortal can’t win.

You may read an interview with Lori here.





Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Ginni
Publisher:  Harper, April 23, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages
Price:  $27.99 (print)
Genre:  Historical Fantasy
ISBN:  9780062110831 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013
An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, Helene Wecker's sparkling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899.

The woman is a golem, created out of clay to be her master's wife -- but he dies at sea, leaving her disoriented and overwhelmed as their ship arrives in New York Harbor. The man is a jinni, a being of fire, trapped for a thousand years in a copper flask before a tinsmith in Manhattan's Little Syria releases him.

The novel traces their respective journeys as they explore the strange and altogether human city. Chava, as a kind old rabbi names her, is beset by the desires and wishes of others, which she can feel tugging at her. Ahmad, christened by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, is aggravated by human dullness. Both must work to create places for themselves in this new world, and develop tentative relationships with the people who surround them.

And then, one cold and windy night, their paths happen to meet.

A marvelous and compulsively readable work of fiction, The Golem and the Jinni is a fresh combination of vivid historical novel and magical fable.



Melanie's Week in Review - June 22, 2014Melanie's Week in Review - June 15, 2014The View From Monday - December 30, 2013The View from Monday (on Tuesday) - April 23, 2013Interview with Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - April 22, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 20132013 Debut Author Challenge - April 2013 DebutsGuest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013

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