The Qwillery | category: Interview


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Michael R. Underwood

Please welcome Michael R. Underwood to The Qwillery! Annihilation Aria, the first novel in his new Space Opera series, is published on July 21, 2020 by Parvus Press.

Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Michael a Happy Book Birthday!

Interview with Michael R. Underwood

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel Annihilation Aria is published on July 21st. Over the years, what has become less challenging for you as a writer? More challenging?

MRU:  It’s gotten a bit easier for me to ride the ups and downs of publishing, but easier is not easy. It’s still an industry where getting better as a writer is no guarantee that your books will do better commercially. And that’s very discouraging. Writing books themselves have gotten easier and harder. Easier as I learn how to be more flexible in my process, responding to each book with the approach that works for it. Harder because I keep raising the bar for myself and in rising to the challenges posed to me by editors like my editor on Annihilation Aria, Kaelyn Considine. Aria is my best attempt (so far) to write a fun adventure story while adding more emotional depth and interesting worldbuilding.

TQDescribe Annihilation Aria using only 5 words.

MRU:  Space archaeology gets very complicated.

TQPlease tell us something about Annihilation Aria that is not found in the book description.

MRU:  Something I’ve already gotten positive feedback about with regards to the book is people saying they really like seeing a book with a happily-married couple in it. Max and Lahra start the novel already well into their relationship, but it’s one that is still loving and affectionate, even if they have their problems like any other couple. Being happily married myself, I wanted to help contribute to the body of works that feature established couples rather than only ever showing the meet-cute and the whirlwind romance.

TQWhich character in the Annihilation Aria was the most fun to write?

MRU:  The more time I spent developing her people’s culture, the more fun Lahra became to write. She became a way for me to play with the idea of the Warrior People, with Lahra as one of the few remaining members of her people’s warrior caste. I loved developing the worldbuilding for how she relates to the song magic of her people and her inherited quest to find and restore the lost heir.

TQAnnihilation Aria is a space opera? What makes a story a "space opera"?

MRU:  Generally, I agree with the reading of space opera as the science fiction analogue to epic fantasy. Space opera as a term riffs on horse opera, an old name for westerns. In modern science fiction, space opera has broadened to cover a wide range of science fiction, from series like The Expanse to Star Wars to Dune and many projects in between. Some space opera overlaps with military SF, some overlaps more with space fantasy (Annihilation Aria among them).

For this book, I leaned into a literal definition of space opera by having Lahra’s people use song magic, with Lahra’s battle songs featuring prominently in the actions sequences of the novel. Which made it fun and let me give the series (only one book commissioned so far) the cheeky title of “The Space Operas.” And if I get to write more books, I can give them equally fun titles like Chaos Canto or the like.

TQYour novels often (but not always) subtly pay homage to various genres and/or geekdoms. I particularly enjoy this in a novel. Will we be treated to this in Annihilation Aria?

MRUAnnihilation Aria was inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, and some other space opera series. Reviewers have talked about Aria playing with 1908s space opera tropes but with updated sensibilities, and that’s definitely the approach I took in writing it. Most of my work so far has been focused on fun, adventure storytelling but done with as much inclusivity as I can manage.

TQDoes Annihilation Aria touch on any social issues?

MRU:  When I started writing Aria in 2015, its political edge was not as sharp as the final result. Then November 2016 happened. I decided to lean into that anger at the rise of US authoritarianism instead of shying away from it. The evil empire in this book is not at all the same as Trumpism in the USA, but the book definitely became more anti-authoritarian and revolutionary. Empires and the struggle against them are fairly common in space opera, but I tried to be a bit more pointed about the details of how authoritarianism and fascism creates systems of social control by limiting free speech, limiting movement, etc. All while still crafting a novel more about adventure and heroism than oppression and tragedy.

TQWhich question about Annihilation Aria do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Made up question: Why a greatsword for Lahra’s sword of station?

MRU:  Great question! Greatswords were used as a weapon of choice by some bodyguards in renaissance Europe. A greatsword is heavier and harder to control than a longsword, but its size and strength makes it great for clearing and controlling space. I’ve studied a bit of greatsword technique from the Iberian Peninsula as well as other Iberian swordplay, and I jumped at the opportunity to showcase greatswords in this project. Plus, epic fantasy and space opera already make space for Giant Ridiculous Swords, so most of what I had to do was bring my own martial arts knowledge to it and figure out how magical/martial arts movie-ish I wanted swordplay to be in this one.

TQ Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Annihilation Aria.

Lahra Kevain sang “Sahvo’s Embrace” to her armor in the sun-soaked cargo hold. The embrace was an aria of resilience and rebirth from the epic of Zhore, sung originally by a love-struck guardian to the princess who was her charge.

The song awakened the suit, allowing her armor to repair itself using the sun’s energy. The coral-steel resonated with her voice, stitching itself back together, scalloped ridges and joints sealing and smoothing over. One by one, traces of her and Max’s last misadventure faded, and the suit returned to its optimal form.

TQWhat's next?

MRU:  I’m not the fastest writer, so I’ve been working on ways to stay connected with writers and colleagues. The past couple of years, I’ve had a lot of fun writing essays on the craft of writing and the business of publishing at my Patreon ( I’ve covered topics from how the pandemic may impact publishing to how sub-rights work as well as building a quick one-shot for D&D and getting from concept to page one in a new writing project. Plus it has pictures of my very cute dog Oreo.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

MRU:  Thanks so much for having me back! Debuting back in 2012 feels simultaneously like just the other day and a lifetime ago, and I really appreciate the support and chance to get to grow along with the Qwillery audience.

Annihilation Aria
The Space Operas 1
Parvus Press, July 21, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Michael R. Underwood
Max is cheery xeno-archeologist from Earth, stranded and trying to find a way home. Lahra is a stern warrior of a nearly extinct race searching for her people’s heir. Wheel is the couple’s cybernetic pilot running from her past and toward an unknown future.

On Wheel’s ship, the Kettle, the trio traverses the galaxy, dodging Imperial patrols and searching ancient ruins for anything they can sell. The crew of the Kettle are deeply in debt to their home base’s most powerful gangster, and she wants her money back.  

So when a dangerous, but promising job comes their way, Max, Lahra, and Wheel have little choice but to take it. However, the crew of the Kettle gets more than they bargained for when they find themselves in possession of a powerful artifact, one that puts them in the crosshairs of the Vsenk, the galaxy’s ruthless and oppressive imperial overlords. 

Max, Lahra, and Wheel are pulled into a web of galactic subterfuge, ancient alien weaponry, a secret resistance force, lost civilizations, and giant space turtles.  The Vsenk will stop at nothing to recover what the crew of the Kettle has found and Max’s brains, Lahra’s muscle, and Wheel’s skills may be all that stands between entire planets and annihilation.  

Can they evade space fascists, kick-start a rebellion, and save the galaxy all while they each try to find their own way home?

About Michael

Interview with Michael R. Underwood
Michael R. Underwood is the author of over twelve books, including Annihilation Aria, Born to the Blade (an epic fantasy serial), the Ree Reyes Geekomancy series and Genrenauts, a series of novellas, which was a finalist for the r/Fantasy “Stabby” Award.

Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. He holds a B.A. in Creative Mythology and in East Asian Studies from Indiana University and a M.A. in Folklore Studies from the University of Oregon.

In years past, he danced Argentine Tango and was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and studying historical martial arts. Mike has been a hobby game store clerk, a student archivist, a webmaster, a web design teacher, a bear-builder, a bookseller, an independent publishers’ representative, and more.

Mike lives in Baltimore with his wife, their dog Oreo, and an ever-growing library. He also loves geeking out with video & role-playing games, studying historical martial arts, and making pizzas from scratch. He is also a co-host on the actual play show Speculate! and a guest host on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

Website  ~  Twitter @MikeRUnderwood  ~  Facebook

Interview with Raymond E. Feist

Please welcome Raymond E. Feist to The Qwillery. Queen of Storms (The Firemane Saga 2) is published today by Harper Voyager.

Interview with Raymond E. Feist

The QwilleryWelcome to The Qwillery. You have written over 30 novels. Has your writing process changed over the years?

Raymond E. Feist:  Parts of the process remain unchanged. The thinking the stuff up part, mostly is the same. Getting it down on paper has become a bit more expedient, what I think of as "writers muscle memory." I know when not to look for that perfect word, when to just put something down and come back later to rewrite. Another part is to expect less, that is to be willing to not have every chapter, page, word be priceless. "Murder your darlings" is often attributed to William Faulkner, but he got from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, but all good writers eventually come to understand what that means, and I sort of got it in my first book, but by book four I knew exactly what that meant. It references another often misquoted meme, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

TQQueen of Storms is the 2nd novel in your Firemane Saga after King of Ashes. How many novels do you have planned for The Firemane Saga?

RF:  It should be a three act play, more or less. My characters have a habit of lying to me from time to time, so the Serpentwar ended up four, and the Demonwar was only two. I do think the next one Master of Furies, will be the last of this series.

TQDescribe Queen of Storms using only 5 words.

RF:  Things Get Nasty Really Fast.

TQ Please tell us something about Queen of Storms that is not found in the publisher's book description. 

RF:  Like a lot of my previous books, there's a "things are not what they seem" element here, and I hope the readers find the surprises the sort that make sense rather than make them want to throw the book across the room, because some of those unexpected changes are terrible for the characters. So, surprises are not found in the description.

TQWho is your favorite character to write in The Firemane Saga so far?

RF:  I don't really have favorites, and never have. Some are a bit more fun to write about, so right now it's Hava and Bodai. Hava because I like strong women characters who aren't basically "a guy in drag," and Bodai because he's a teacher by nature, so I can pedantic in places and the reader blames him and not me.

TQWhich question about The Firemane Saga do you wish someone would ask? Please ask it and answer it!

RF:  I can't really think of anything. I've been doing this for almost 40 years now, and have been asked every sort of question from the dumb "what's the book about" by someone who's never read a word of mine to things so insightful my reaction was, "I wish I had thought of that." I think the reason your question is a bit odd for me is that I feel the work speaks for itself. I've observed younger writers try to explain their work, and always think, "Are you going to stand in the bookstore and explain to every reader what you meant?" The book speaks for itself or you are doing it wrong. I look at these interviews as either being to build interest in the coming work, or as retrospectives for me to explain the damnfool choices I made in previous works. I also spend more time avoiding spoilers than thinking about "why didn't they ask me this other thing."

TQDo The Firemane Saga and the Riftwar Cycle share anything thematically?

RF:  In some basic ways, sure. If I was to analyze my own work, which I only do in the editorial sense, not in any scholarly, critical theory fashion, it's that every human being is born into a world that makes no sense, and each of us seeks to bring some order out of chaos. In my writing, how that happens is a function of what sort of person the character is. What I love about that is I can have characters do things that are alien to how I look at everything, and I delight if I think I've pulled off a convincing journey for the reader. I've been taken to task upon occasion by someone who objected to something a character did, so for that reader it was a real thing. Having a character commit murder does not mean I'm personally in favor of murder, is an obvious example. So, overall, the common element in this series and the Riftware is that struggle for awareness and making sense out of an apparently chaotic universe. The tone should be similar as the same guy is writing both.

TQHow did it feel to start a new series after so many years with the Riftwar Cycle and are you completely finished with Riftwar?

RF:  I forgot how much time went into world building and constructing believable societies, cultures, and their relationships. The word that comes to mind is "humbling." What I thought I was "dash off" became a year's hard work, bordering on drudgery at times.

Nothing's ever finished. I could change my mind and do another series in Midkemia should I decide. There are always new stories. No one every asked Hemingway if he ran out of stories set on Earth, or Shakespeare why all his plays were set in Europe. So, I might go back to Midkemia someday. I might do another series on Garn, or I might go crazy and try to set up a whole third universe.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

RF:  You are very welcome.

Queen of Storms
The Firemane Saga 2
Harper Voyager, July 14, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Raymond E. Feist
Dark and powerful forces threaten the world of Garn once more in this second novel in legendary New York Times bestselling author Raymond E. Feist’s epic fantasy series, the Firemane Saga.

Hatushaly and his young wife Hava have arrived in the prosperous trading town of Beran’s Hill to restore and reopen the fire-damaged Inn of the Three Stars. They are also preparing for the popular midsummer festival, where their friends Declan and Gwen will be wed.

But Hatu and Hava are not the ordinary loving couple they appear to be. They are assassins from the mysterious island of Coaltachin, home to the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the fearsome “Hidden Warriors.” Posing as innkeepers, they are awaiting instructions from their masters in the Kingdom of Night.

Hatu conceals an even more dangerous secret. He is the last remaining member of the legendary Firemanes, the ruling family of Ithrace. Known as the Kingdom of Flames, Ithrace was one of the five greatest realms of Tembria, ruled by Hatu’s father, Stervern Langene, until he and his people were betrayed. His heir, Hatu—then a baby—was hidden among the Nocusara, who raised him to become a deadly spy.

Hatu works hard to hide his true identity from all who would seek to use or to destroy him, as fate has other plans for the noble warrior. Unexpected calamity forces him to make choices he could not have dreamed awaited him.

A series of horrific events shatters the peace of Beran’s Hill, bringing death and devastation and unleashing monstrous forces. Once more, the Greater Realms of Tembria are threatened—and nothing will ever be the same again.


King of Ashes
The Firemane Saga 1
Harper Voyager, January 29, 2019
Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages
Hardcover and eBook, May 8, 2018

Interview with Raymond E. Feist
The first volume in legendary master and New York Times bestselling author Raymond E. Feist’s epic heroic fantasy series, The Firemane Saga—an electrifying tale of two young men whose choices will determine a world’s destiny.

For centuries, the five greatest kingdoms of North and South Tembria, twin continents on the world of Garn, have coexisted in peace. But the balance of power is destroyed when four of the kingdoms violate an ancient covenant and betray the fifth: Ithrace, the Kingdom of Flames, ruled by Steveren Langene, known as "the Firemane" for his brilliant red hair. As war engulfs the world, Ithrace is destroyed and the Greater Realms of Tembria are thrust into a dangerous struggle for supremacy.

As a Free Lord, Baron Daylon Dumarch owes allegiance to no king. When an abandoned infant is found hidden in Daylon’s pavilion, he realizes that the child must be the missing heir of the slain Steveren. The boy is valuable—and vulnerable. A cunning and patient man, Daylon decides to keep the baby’s existence secret, and sends him to be raised on the Island of Coaltachin, home of the so-called Kingdom of Night, where the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the "Hidden Warriors," legendary assassins and spies, are trained.

Years later, another orphan of mysterious provenance, a young man named Declan, earns his Masters rank as a weapons smith. Blessed with intelligence and skill, he unlocks the secret to forging King’s Steel, the apex of a weapon maker’s trade known by very few. Yet this precious knowledge is also deadly, and Declan is forced to leave his home to safeguard his life. Landing in Lord Daylon’s provinces, he hopes to start anew.

Soon, the two young men—an unknowing rightful heir to a throne and a brilliantly talented young swordsmith—will discover that their fates, and that of Garn, are entwined. The legendary, long-ago War of Betrayal has never truly ended . . . and they must discover the secret of who truly threatens their world.

About the Author

Interview with Raymond E. Feist
© HarperCollins Publishers
Raymond E. Feist is the author of more than thirty previous books, including the internationally bestselling “Riftwar Cycle” of novels set in his signature world of Midkemia, as well as a standalone novel, Faerie Tale. The Firemane Saga is his first all-new epic fantasy series. He lives in San Diego, California.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @refeist

Interview with Sean McDonough

Please welcome Sean McDonough to The Qwillery. Sean is one of the fabulous horror writers that I met at CT HorrorFest last month. His most recent work is The Class Reunion which was released on October 29, 2019.

Interview with Sean McDonough

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

Sean:  The first thing I remember writing is an attempt at a Goosebumps book when I was ten. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that the plot revolved around a haunted carousel.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sean:  100% a pantser. I think if the writing is organic, the best thing I can do is get out of the way. The closest thing I do to plotting is a scribbled note in the margins for something I want to do twenty pages down the road.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sean:  The hardest thing for me is reminding myself that plot problems don’t have to unfold in a straight line. When I get to an interesting problem, my first instinct is to write out the solution with a battering ram. Good fiction comes with twists and turns, and I have to remind myself to keep the problem solving messy.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sean:  80s horror. The books and movies of that decade had such an honest, unpretentious embrace of the wild gruesomeness that makes horror the mainstay genre of sleepovers and weirdos at the back of the bus. I try to write my own work in a way that captures that joyful carnage.

TQWhat appeals to you about writing horror?

Sean:  I like that horror is about breaking the rules. The dead come back to life. The thing bumping under the bed really is a creature. We root for the monsters instead of the white knights. Everything that the world is supposed to be gets inverted in a horror story.

TQDescribe your new novella, The Class Reunion, using only 5 words.

Sean:  Classic slasher style served fresh.

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

Sean:  The easiest character was my main character Vickie. Her strengths and flaws really came together very early on. From there, I just had to sit back and see if she could survive the bloody gauntlet I laid out for her. The hardest was Alex. He’s one of the popular kids who, on the service, had it all put together. I had to find a way to get into his humanity without interrupting the flow of the story.

TQYou've described The Class Reunion as a slasher novella. For you what elements are essential for a slasher novella / novel?

Sean:  The most essential element is a memorable killer. It’s not enough to give a knife to a masked maniac, you have to make sure you do something to make him memorable. Which brings me to essential element number two- make sure the deaths are memorably outrageous.

TQDo you write any different types of horror? Tell us a bit about your other works.

Sean:  I write all kinds of horror. Aside from my previous slasher slasher novel, I’ve also written a creature feature and a massacre at a cursed amusement park.

TQ:   What's next?

Sean:  Up next is an old school witchcraft story with a grotesque twist.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sean:  Pleasure was all mine.

The Class Reunion
October 29, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 150 pages

Interview with Sean McDonough
The graduates of Saint Regina Academy have broken into their abandoned elementary school for an impromptu reunion.

...But there’s someone else inside the school with them. He wants their flesh. He wants their blood. And he’s going to make sure that this is a class reunion that nobody ever forgets.

About Sean

Interview with Sean McDonough
Raised on Goosebumps, the horror section at Blockbuster, and other things he shouldn't have been exposed to at eight years old, Sean McDonough is a fresh new voice in horror fiction. His books evoke a sense of gleeful gruesomeness and dark humor, perfect for keeping the Halloween spirit alive all year long.

You can follow me on Facebook at

Instagram at

And you can peruse my works at

Interview with Jay Allan

Please welcome Jay Allan to The Qwillery. The Emperor's Fist was published on August 20, 2019 by Harper Voyager.

Interview with Jay Allan

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

Jay:  I could probably come up with vague recollections of various things that never amounted to anything, but the first book I finished was Marines, which started my career.

TQYou've written well over 2 dozen novels. How has your writing process changed over the years?

Jay:  I’d say two things have changed. First, I’m a lot more comfortable, and the words flow more easily than they used to. Second, I’ve tried to pay attention to comments and reviews. You write something, but of course, you’re trying to make it resonate with the reader. If there is too much repetition, for example, or not enough, reader comments are the best way to see that.

TQIf you could not write Military SF what else would you write?

Jay:  I’d probably be writing cyber-thrillers and the like. I was a big Tom Clancy fan, and I also like books that are right on the line between thriller and SF. Think the Andromeda Strain and the like.

TQDescribe your latest Far Stars novel, The Emperor's Fist, using only 5 words.

Jay:  Emperor’s coming, and he’s pissed!

TQTell us something about The Emperor's Fist that is not found in the book description.

Jay:  For those who’ve read the earlier books in the series, Blackhawk is somewhat of a tortured character. In The Emperor’s Fist, we see more about his past, and we see him dealing with his greatest struggle resulting from that.

TQDo you need to read the Far Stars novels in order?

Jay:  I don’t think so. If you read The Emperor’s Fist and like it, the previous trilogy is sort of a prequel to you, but I think the new book works well as a standalone, too.

TQWhat's next?

Jay:  Well, I like to think I’m not done with Blackhawk and the other from the Far Stars, but I don’t know when I’ll get back to them. I’m continuing to work on my Blood on the Stars series, with book 14 coming out in September. Next year, I’ve got two new things coming, one that is really special that I still can’t share yet, and the other is a series about an alien invasion of Earth and the resistance to it. I’ve been planning that for a while, and I’m excited to finally get it started.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Emperor's Fist
A Blackhawk Novel
Far Stars 4
Harper Voyager, August 20, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Jay Allan
In this thrilling new installment in the Far Stars saga, a reluctant hero with a bloody past must reunite with an old love to battle an evil emperor willing to destroy all their worlds if he cannot control them.

When the Far Stars came under imperial attack, Astra Lucerne—the daughter and successor of the Far Stars’ greatest conqueror—Marshal Augustin Lucerne—rallied her father’s confederation forces to defend their worlds. They were joined in the fight by former imperial general Arkarin Blackhawk, a warrior whose skills and brutality made him infamous, and who has, for two decades, sought the redemption he knows is unreachable.

Now, with the imperial foothold in the sector eliminated, the Far Stars is free and almost united. While Astra’s forces continue to depose local tyrants and warlords, Ark and his crew have slipped back into the shadows. Though his heart belongs to Astra, Ark cannot get too close. His imperial conditioning remains under control, but it is still volatile, and the temptation of power threatens to unleash the dark compulsions that made him the most merciless of the emperor’s servants. He cannot risk allowing Astra to see the darkness inside him.

But while the battle has been won, the war may not be over. A petty smuggler makes a discovery that can enable the emperor to strike back and crush the resistance—unless Ark and Astra join forces again to stop him.

Interview with Jay Allan
Far Stars 1
Interview with Jay Allan
Far Stars 2
Interview with Jay Allan
Far Stars 3

About Jay

Interview with Jay Allan
Jay Allan is a former investor and the author of the Crimson Worlds series and the Far Stars Confederation series. When not writing, he enjoys traveling, running, hiking, and reading. He loves hearing from readers and always answers emails. He currently lives in New York City.

Website  ~  Twitter @jayallanwrites

Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood

Please welcome Rena Rossner to The Qwillery. The Sisters of the Winter Wood is now out in Trade Paperback from Redhook.

Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood

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

Rena:  I think I was in second grade, and it was a story about a bunny named Jenny LaHare. (There was also a real Jenny LaHare – a stuffed rabbit dressed in a pink flowered bonnet and dress and pinafore, who slept in my bed every night. I think I named her after my sister’s best friend Jen Levine…)

TQ Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rena:  I am a pantser and it is both a blessing and a curse. I am insanely jealous of authors who can plot out their novels – and authors who can plot in general. For me, my best work happens when I least expect it, and it is precisely when I decide exactly what will happen in a scene that my characters decide to do something completely different. But somehow, those are also the best moments – the places where magic happens. It’s really hard to trust yourself, to trust your subconscious, but it’s really what I’ve learned that I must do.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rena:  The most challenging thing for me about writing is plotting – I really love to let the story take me where it will, but that often means that my plots need work. I am much more invested in the lyricism of my sentences – the “prettiness” of the writing, than I am in the actual plot of the story, so I often have to force myself to focus, and that’s really hard. I also write really slowly, so I’m majorly envious of writers who can put down thousands of words in a session, while for me, every 100 words feel like a major victory.

TQDescribe The Sisters of the Winter Wood using only 5 words.

Rena:  A Jewish fairy tale about sisters. (That’s 5 if you don’t count the “A”!)

TQTell us something about The Sisters of the Winter Wood that is not found in the book description.

Rena:  There are moments when the forest comes alive, and also where things characters see in the woods are not exactly the reality. Those were some of the parts I enjoyed writing the most.

TQWhat appeals to you about writing Historical Fantasy?

Rena:  Two things: One, that it is a space where I can re-insert women into the story. Most of history has been written by men, and in seeking testimony and stories about what life was like in Dubossary (the town my mother’s father’s family came from, on the border of Moldova and Ukraine,) in the late 1800s and early 1900s, nearly all the stories I was able to find were either by men or about men. But I know that were women there, and I know that they had stories to tell, that some of them were certainly heroines in their own right. But their stories were lost to me – their stories are lost to us. One of the only ways that we can get those stories back (after doing copious amounts of research into what was, and what might have been,) is to imagine them. And secondly, fantasy is a place where we can rewrite history. It is only in fairy tales and fantasy where anything can happen – heroes can become villains and villains get the chance to redeem themselves. It’s a really important space, because it can help us make sense of our present, and find ways to make sure that if we are faced with a similar situation, we may have the tools or the power to make different choices – to ensure a different outcome.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Sisters of the Winter Wood?

Rena:  I didn’t know much about the history of the real town of Dubossary when I first started out. I was simply looking for a place to set my tale, and I decided to start reading some of my family’s genealogy books (which I had never read before.) I found a poem online that was part of the Dubossary Yizkor (Memorial) book that echoed some of Goblin Market, it mentioned that the town was full of orchards and vineyards, berries, grapes, pears, apples, and melons, and I knew where I had to set my book. I also discovered, via that Yizkor Book but also via family testimory, that the Jews from that town fought back and made sure that a pogrom didn’t happen there. But it didn’t last. Starting in September 1941, the Nazis came to Dubossary and forced 600 Jews into the main synagogue and burnt it to the ground, after which they systematically wiped out the entire Jewish population. Today, there are 18,000 Jews buried in mass graves in the forests surround the town and only about 100-150 Jews left from the town. It is a bittersweet tale, and I read many many words of testimony from survivors who grew up in Dubossary in order to be able to bring the story to life. I wanted to bring to life the shtetl as it was before tragedy befell the town, to tell a story of courage, resistance and resilience, not a tale of tragedy.

TQDo have a favorite folk or fairy tale?

Rena:  I think that GOBLIN MARKET is certainly my favorite fairy tale, which is why I spent so many years thinking about to write a re-telling. But I am also definitely partial to The Twelve Dancing Princesses – I once write a kind of twisted short story based on that tale…

TQ In The Sisters of the Winter Wood who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rena:  Liba was the easiest character for me to write, because she is the most like me. I struggled with Dovid the most. I wanted to strike the perfect balance between his naivete and his sweetness, but also to give him a backbone and to find a way for him to come into his own.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Sisters of the Winter Wood.


“She didn’t waste her time trying to smooth herself into something she wasn’t. She was powerful because she forged her own path.”

“If you want to know the history of a town, read the gravestones in its cemetery.”

“Sometimes even the smallest voice can have a big opinion.”

“That’s what the forest teaches you – change can come in the blink of an eye – the fall of one spark can mean total destruction.”

“Mami always says that fairy tales are real. With my head in my swan-mother’s lap,I start to believe – and I wonder which tale is ours.”

TQWhat's next?

Rena:  I’m working on another fairy tale retelling that will also be based on my family history but this time set in Romania - part Hansel and Gretel, part Boys with Golden Stars (a Romanian fairy tale,) and it features a girl who falls in love with a star. It’s another story about sisters, and it’s a story about how we tell stories, and how those stories change us.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!

The Sisters of Winter Wood
Redhook, June 18, 2019
Trade Paperback, 480 pages
Hardcover and eBook, September 25, 2018

Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood
Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner’s debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.

“With luscious and hypnotic prose, Rena Rossner tells a gripping, powerful story of family, sisterhood, and two young women trying to find their way in the world.” –Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles and Circe

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell – despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true…and could save them all.

About Rena

Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood
Photo by Tomer Rottenberg
Rena Rossner lives in Israel, where she works as a literary agent. All eight of her great grandparents immigrated to America to escape the pogroms, from towns like Dubossary and Kupel. It is their story, together with her love of Jewish mythology and fantasy, which inspired her to write The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

Website  ~  Twitter @renarossner


Interview with Stephen Blackmoore

Please welcome Stephen Blackmoore to The Qwillery. Fire Season, the 4th Eric Carter novel, was published on April 16, 2019 by DAW. 

I adore Eric Carter - he's snarky, reckless, a bit crazy, and my favorite anti-hero. I don't expect him to be the good guy though he often ends up that way by accident. He's really conflicted and flawed, which makes him more emotionally believable. Fire Season is the most intricate of the Eric Carter novels (so far). More is revealed about Eric's family and there are plenty of surprises. Blackmoore once again delivers a high-octane thrill ride of mayhem, magic and murder and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I highly recommend Fire Season and the Eric Carter series!

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Fire Season (Eric Carter 4), was published in April. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote City of the Lost (2012) to Fire Season?

Stephen:  I think so. It's gotten, I can't think of another word for it, sloppier. CITY OF THE LOST felt like I just threw it together. In fact I did just throw it together. I had no idea how it was going to go. Pantsed the whole thing.

But with DEAD THINGS I outlined. Not one or two pages, or notes in a whiteboard. No, I made a 30 page outline and whenever I shifted a direction, I would go back and shift the outline to see if the change was going to break the story.

Then I wrote a three pager for BROKEN SOULS and that was enough.

HUNGRY GHOSTS was a Notepad file with sentence fragments and a white board with half a dozen bullet points.

FIRE SEASON I didn't even have that much. I had a couple of ideas, a few bits of scenes and lines of dialog, kind of the direction I knew it was going to go, and that there was going to be a lot of fire in it.

The one I turned in a few months ago and the one I'm working on now are pretty much the same way, only less organized.

TQWhich character in the Eric Carter series (so far) surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Stephen:  For both of those questions, it's Santa Muerte. In HUNGRY GHOSTS Eric tries to kill the folk saint Santa Muerte, who's also the Aztec goddess of the dead, Mictecacihuatl, who he's had problems with since book one. He's doing this while trying to protect her avatar, a woman named Tabitha Cheung who he's come to have complicated feelings about.

Well, he fucks that up. And though Santa Muerte is destroyed, Tabitha goes along with her in a way that (SPOILER ALERT BUT MAYBE NOT REALLY) something new is created in her stead. It's an amalgam of Santa Muerte and Tabitha, which makes things even more complicated for Eric. The thing he despises and the person that maybe he has a thing for, and he really doesn't know what to do with it.

And honestly, neither does she.

TQDescribe Fire Season using only 5 words.

Stephen:  Angry gods necromancy big fire.

TQTell us something about Fire Season that is not in the book description.

Stephen:  I kill a lot more people in the book than I thought I was going to. Like a lot more. I really crank up the death count and the Holy Shit Did That Horrible Thing Just Happen up to eleven.

TQPlease tell us about Quetzalcoatl who appears to be after Eric Carter in Fire Season.

Stephen:  He's an asshole. He's betrayed the other Aztec gods (no one's quite sure why - but there's a bit of a resolution on that in FIRE SEASON) and helped the Spanish kill all but two of them, and in that final fight he was almost destroyed. He's weak, but he's still a god. He's driven, single-minded, and like everyone else has a hidden agenda.

TQWhich question about Fire Season do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Stephen:  "Can I give you a truckload of money to make this into a TV series?" The answer is, of course, "Yes."

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Fire Season.


"I tried idealism once. Gave me a rash."

"That's the problem with coke. It makes everything sound like a great idea. If at all possible, never make plans on coke."

TQWhat's next?

Stephen:  The next book in the series, GHOST MONEY, comes out in January. After that is BOTTLE DEMON, which I'm working on now. Besides that I've got another couple of things I'm working toward that may or may not pan out, so we'll see.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Stephen:  Thanks for the opportunity to talk about the book!

Fire Season
Eric Carter 4
DAW, April 16, 2019
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
The fourth book of this dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Los Angeles is burning.

During one of the hottest summers the city has ever seen, someone is murdering mages with fires that burn when they shouldn’t, that don’t stop when they should. Necromancer Eric Carter is being framed for the killings and hunted by his own people.

To Carter, everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl coming after him, after he defied the mad wind god in the Aztec land of the dead. But too many things aren’t adding up, and Carter knows there’s more going on.

If he doesn’t figure out what it is and put a stop to it fast, Quetzalcoatl won’t just kill him, he’ll burn the whole damn city down with him.


Dead Things
Eric Carter 1
DAW, February 3, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 256 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Necromancer is such an ugly word, but it’s a title Eric Carter is stuck with.

He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He’s turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course.

When he left LA fifteen years ago, he thought he’d never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him.

But now his sister’s been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why.

Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it’s the patron saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who’s taken an unusually keen interest in him.

Carter’s going to find out who did it, and he’s going to make them pay.

As long as they don’t kill him first.

Broken Souls
Eric Carter 2
DAW, August 5, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 272 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte. Necromancer Eric Carter’s return to Los Angeles hasn’t gone well, and it’s about to get even worse.

His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.

While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers, and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but this guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.

Now Carter has to change the game — go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or the manifestation of Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.

Everything is trying to kill him. Nothing is as it seems. If all his plans go perfectly, he might survive the week.

He’s hoping that’s a good thing.

Hungry Ghosts
Eric Carter 3
DAW, February 7, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore’s dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Necromancer Eric Carter’s problems keep getting bigger. Bad enough he’s the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, has come back — and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade, Carter is slowly turning to stone.

To make matters worse, both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other. But only one of them can be telling him the truth and he can’t trust either one. Carter’s solution? Kill them both.

If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact, he’ll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst trials the place has to offer him: his own sins.

About Stephen

Interview with Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore is a pulp writer of little to no renown who once thought lighting things on fire was one of the best things a kid could do with his time. Until he discovered that eyebrows don't grow back very quickly. He is the author of the urban fantasy novels CITY OF THE LOST, DEAD THINGS, BROKEN SOULS, HUNGRY GHOSTS, and FIRE SEASON. His short stories and poetry have appeared in Plots With Guns, Needle, Spinetingler, Thrilling Detective, Shots, Demolition, Clean Sheets , Flashing In The Gutters and a couple of anthologies with authors far better than he is. You can even stalk him on Twitter (@sblackmoore) or check out his website at

Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves

Please welcome Cate Glass to The Qwillery. An Illusion of Thieves (Chimera 1) is published today by Tor Books.

Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves

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

Cate:  A short story for my tenth grade English teacher. It was the first time an assigned story could be about anything we wanted. I wrote about a brother and sister growing up on an isolated hardscrabble farm in some version of the Midwest. Their very strict but loving father had taught them that the only way to survive was to focus on the here and now, on what was real, forbidding them to make up stories or otherwise use their imaginations. Then Something Happened in the woods one day to upend their beliefs—and explain why their father was the way he was. The teacher asked to keep the story, and, foolishly, I let her. That was it for fiction writing for many, many years. When a friend persuaded me to take up writing as a hobby, I expanded that story into a novel, which still sits in my trunk, yelling at me for attention.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Cate:  Definitely not an outliner/pre-plotter. But I do know where I am going when I sit down to write. I call myself an Organic Story Developer. I develop enough of characters, world, and situation to write an opening scene and get a general idea of the shape of the story. I just don’t know the details of how I am going to get there. As I move forward, I learn more and more about the characters and the world, which feeds the plot, clarifying events that need to happen to develop the characters and to deepen the world. Rinse. Repeat. To me it keeps the story new every day.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Cate:  Verbiage. I love words, and I obsess over getting just the right feel, sound, and rhythm on the page. It makes me a slow writer.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Cate:  Everything. Nature, music, art, museums, travel, politics, history. Tidbits I hear on National Public Radio. Archeology news. Science. Living. Stories I love. I do believe that a writer brings every experience to the page in some fashion.

TQDescribe An Illusion of Thieves using only 5 words.

Cate:  Forbidden magic. Four sorcerers. Intrigue.

TQTell us something about An Illusion of Thieves that is not found in the book description.

Cate:  The reason magic is forbidden: Sorcerers are believed to be the descendants of a beast the gods imprisoned under the earth after the Wars of Creation. This same beast causes volcanoes and earthquakes. Those who carry the taint of sorcery are condemned to die, lest they use their talents to set the beast free to wreak the world’s end.

TQWhat inspired you to write An Illusion of Thieves? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Cate:  I watched a recent Mission Impossible film and my exceptional spouse and I started comparing it to the original TV series about an ensemble of people with specific talents who accomplished off-the-books missions that legit spies couldn't do. That got me asking "what if...?" What if the very specific talents were magical—maybe in a world where magic is forbidden, and sorcerers are very rare? What if there were really impossible missions that they believed needed doing? Once I started thinking about possible talents that would make up such a group, Romy, Placidio, Neri, and Dumond came alive, insisting that their stories be written!

I enjoy writing fantasy because there are no rules. I grew up reading just about every genre of fiction. I loved mysteries, double agent and other kinds of spy novels, adventure stories, historical novels, romantic suspense, political thrillers, mythology, fairy tales, and fantastical adventures like Alice in Wonderland. As a fantasy writer, I can tell any of those stories in a world of my own making! What could be more fun than that?

TQWhat sort of research did you do for An Illusion of Thieves?

Cate:  I wanted to set the Chimera stories in the kind of world where intrigue and skullduggery abounded. Rather than empire-building battles, I wanted to focus on more localized struggles, where the important conflicts take place in salons or dining rooms, artisan workshops, public buildings, and the like, and involved matters like hostage-taking, poisonings, assassinations – and, yes, thieving. When I settled on a locale much like that of Renaissance Italy, I was led into research about every thing from the materials available in an age of burgeoning exploration and trade to Mediterranean vegetation, poisons, wine production, barge traffic on rivers. As the Chimera's first mission has to do with art forgery and a statue of great antiquity, I read up on bronze casting. And as one of my four is a professional duelist, I read up on dueling regulations, weapons, and protocols. As the series goes on, I've gotten into researching the cloth trade and divination schemes, the history of geology, and numerous other topics.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for An Illusion of Thieves.

Cate:  The artist is Alyssa Winans. Rather than reflecting a specific incident, her gorgeous cover art reflects the hidden energies in a world where magic has a meant a death sentence for thousands of years. Sorcerers spend their lives suppressing their gifts. The person on the cover is Romy of Lizard's Alley, a law scribe who for nine years was a courtesan bound to the most powerful man in her city. She tells the story of An Illusion of magic caused her to forfeit one life and find another.

TQIn An Illusion of Thieves who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Cate:  The easiest was Neri, Romy's almost-sixteen-year-old brother. Maybe because I have three sons of my own. Maybe just because his emotional drivers were so clear. He has grown up in grinding poverty with a family who is terrified of him. He is illiterate and ignorant about the wider world, possessing one incredible gift that he dares not use. His eldest sister, whose name no one speaks, is the only other person he knows who has magic, but she lives in luxury with the richest and most dangerous man in the city. This is one angry, resentful kid, and yet that elder sister is the only person in the world who was never scared of him.

The hardest was Romy herself. We are in her head, so I had to learn everything about her. This is not a romance, so what was it that defined her relationship with the Shadow Lord both before and after the split that changed the course of her life? It would have been very easy to fall into the "lost love" cliche or the "woman scorned" cliche. I wanted her strong, but flawed. Intelligent, but her knowledge of the world is through the very specific lens of her past. Conflicted, but not wallowing in the past. And always interesting and unexpected.

TQDoes An Illusion of Thieves touch on any social issues?

Cate:  I never set out to address social issues. But I do try to make my worlds feel real, which means issues of morality, justice, bias, fanaticism…you name it…will eventually come into play.

TQWhich question about An Illusion of Thieves do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Cate:  Does Romy believe there is really a monster imprisoned under the earth? No. But events tell her that magic is only one hint of the extraordinary in the world. The mythos will creep quietly into the Chimera stories as they go on.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from An Illusion of Thieves.

Cate:  When Romy the courtesan is dismissed, she’s thrown back into poverty and saddled with an angry teenaged brother to feed:

“I sat in the dark fretting over what kind of work I might do that did not involve lustful men, libidinous women, haggling at the market, or incessant stares from strangers. After four-and-twenty years of haphazard education, I ought to have a few useful skills besides the obvious.”

And Placidio di Vasil always has a pithy comment:

Placidio examined the dagger’s grip, quillions, edge, and point as a physician explores skulls, tongues, and urine. “Well chosen,” he conceded. “A good length. But what need has a Beggars Ring boy for a new blade and finer skills? Have you acquired a new enemy? ’Twould likely be cheaper to hire me to fight, than to teach a hothead to skewer a dunderwit.”

TQWhat's next?

Cate:  Next up is the second Chimera adventure: A Conjuring of Assassins, coming in February 2020. Romy, Placidio, Neri, and Dumond think their new mission is a simple one—break into a prison cell, find out where the prisoner has hidden a very dangerous document, and be off to destroy it. But things get complicated very quickly when the prisoner isn’t at all what they expected, and Romy rescues a half-drowned stranger who has some most unusual talents.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Cate:  Thank you for having me!

An Illusion of Thieves
Chimera 1
Tor Books, May 21, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves
A ragtag crew with forbidden magic must pull off an elaborate heist and stop a civil war in An Illusion of Thieves, a fantasy adventure from Cate Glass.

In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy's aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they'll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.

About Cate

Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves
Cate Glass is a writer of the fantasy adventure series Chimera. Cate Glass is also a pen name of Carol Berg, award-winning and bestselling author of fifteen epic fantasy novels and half a dozen novellas and short stories.

Though Cate's home has a great view of the Colorado Rockies, she has lived a large portion of her life in realms of mystery and adventure - Middle Earth, Camelot, Amber, Wonderland, Harry Dresden's Chicago, Jim Chee's New Mexico, Cheltenham race track or the colleges of Oxford, Victorian London, Cold War Berlin, the Welsh borderlands, River Heights, Marvel's version of Hell's get the drift.

While studying mathematics and software engineering at Rice University and the University of Colorado respectively, Cate carved out a special place for studies in English and History of Art and reading, reading, reading.

A few years into a career as a software development engineer, Cate took up a hobby of writing her own fiction. Many manuscripts later (see Carol Berg's bibliography) Cate is deep into the stories of the Chimera.

Cate enjoys binging on movies and (well-written!) TV, as well as camping, hiking, and biking with her mechanical engineer spouse, and three sons who juggle music and teaching, software and carpentry, rocket science and ice hockey.

Website  ~  Twitter @CateGlassWriter  ~  Facebook

Interview with Tim Clare

Please welcome Tim Clare to The Qwillery. The Ice House is published May 2, 2019 by Canongate.

Interview with Tim Clare

The QwilleryWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tim Clare:  For me, the central challenge of all art is telling the truth without stating the obvious. Saying something that feels true but also revelatory. I know that sounds like a cute little maxim and perhaps a bit pretentious, but it applies right across the board. A good piece of observational comedy does that. You're like, 'oh yeah, it *is* like that' and you're surprised and something that's always been there is revealed to you.

In fiction, the problem can manifest as simply as 'How do I get this person to walk into a room and pick up a mug without boring the reader?' and as fiendishly complex as 'How can I say war is bad and love is good in an interesting way, despite knowing 95% of my readers already agree with me?'

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

TC:  Ooh I like 'hybrid'. Makes us sound like some hideous chimera.

I definitely use a mix of planning and discovery, and like most writers I think mine is the One True Way and everyone else is a freak. But it depends on the project. Starting to identify with one style - nurturing an attachment to planning or improvising - is a great way to shut down your growth as a writer. I try to experiment, push myself. More often than not, I discover my narrow conception of what type of writer I am is better understood as a summary of where I've been. Change is the handmaiden of creativity.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does being a poet affect your prose writing?

TC:  I mean, everything I read and almost every aspect of my daily life influences my writing! I don't always realise til later but it's there, percolating through in weird, subconscious images.

Re: the poetry thing. I'm not sure it does affect my prose writing that much. I write mainly rhyming stuff, so I've developed a reasonably good ear for cadence. I suppose the key skill I port across from poetry is not being sloppy on the line. Looking for extraneous words to cut, especially function words like that, the, his, which. And remembering that a full stop is a pause and a form of emphasis, so making sure each sentence finishes on its strongest, most pertinent word.

TQDescribe The Ice House using only 5 words.

TC:  Armed pensioner versus battle nun.

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

TC:  At one point we meet a pet fox called Dagobert.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ice House?

TC:  All sorts! I went to the jungle in Borneo, had an explore and took a boat trip downriver. That helped a lot with some baseline flavour. Then I researched rainforests in South America and Vietnam, read about canopy formation and the ecosystem and how humans interact with it. I read a lot of the King James Bible and apocrypha, Buddhist sutras, the history of the Cathars and Butler's Lives of the Saints to formulate Hagar's rather unique theological worldview. I studied beetle anatomy and was very lucky to get a rosemary beetle infestation in our garden. I really love beetles now. I went to a museum and practised loading and handling an SMLE, the rifle Delphine owns. For the birth scene I consulted a doctor who works in paediatrics, read up about C-sections and I was present at the birth of my daughter (which happened during the writing of this novel - not literally while I was on the laptop, but... you know). I researched karst geology and quite a bit on nautical history, a lot on mushrooms and fungi and a surprising amount about roof architecture in different climates. Cloud formations, military uniforms throughout the ages... I really researched a bananas amount and most of it didn't make it to the page. It's just in my head, allowing me permission to bullshit with confidence.

TQHow many years have passed since the end of The Honours to the start of The Ice House? Must you read The Honours to understand The Ice House?

TC:  The accurate, semi-facetious answer is zero. The Ice House opens approximately three minutes after the events of The Honours. But the bulk of the narrative takes place 73 years later.

You don't need to have read The Honours to understand The Ice House, according to advance readers who've only read the second one. But The Honours will be a very different ride if you've read The Ice House. Coming after, it inevitably reveals some of what went on in the previous book.

For me, I think of their relationship as being like Alien and Aliens. You don't have to have watched the first movie to know those marines are in deep shit. But your understanding of why Ripley cares so much is deeper if you've seen Alien.

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

TC:  Hagar, one of the two main viewpoint characters, was a piece of piss to write. She wants stuff and she does her best to make it happen, despite being massively outnumbered and under-resourced. The only issue is she was quite happy to take action that knocked the whole plot out of alignment. But I always let her, then rejigged the world to reflect her action, because that was much more interesting than keeping her meek or incompetent. So she was easy, but her effect on other scenes wasn't.

Delphine was the hardest character to write, at first. I love her and I'm very conscious lots of other people do too, so I was so scared of writing bad fanfic of my own work. The events of The Honours changed her. Time has changed her. So how can you have that continuity while ensuring she's not this static pastiche of the original character? It took a lot of ink, a lot of scenes which didn't make it to the final draft, and a lot of listening and reflecting to really find her voice. I interviewed her a bit, but really it was putting her through the challenges of the story, letting her bounce off other characters, that helped me discover who she is now. And of course she's going through that journey herself.

I'm really happy with where she ended up - the process was worth it - but rightly or wrongly I had more performance anxiety with her, because getting her story right matters hugely to me.

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

TC:  Oh gosh. I'm going to give the most dickheadish answer to this question and say, I honestly don't have question I especially want to be asked, because the novel itself is everything I wanted to say. Of course I have opinions about the characters, and I can speak about what went into making it, but to a significant extent my opinion about it is no more valid than yours.

I know that might come off like I'm treating my own work as some sacrosanct immutable artefact rather than just some words I put in order. I just... I like the characters, I've spent so long with them, they're weirdly real to me. I don't have one ossified ideological proposition I'm consciously trying to sell you through the medium of fiction.

Well maybe that's the question: 'What would you most like to achieve with the book?'

I'd like the reader to feel they make it their own. I'd like it to feel like it's just for them.

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


"'You might want to conceal the gun,' he said. 'Not the best way to make a first impression.'

'You don't know what impression I want to make,' said Delphine."

TQ:   What's next?

TC:  I'm working on a novel with the working title All Goblins Must Die, about a goblin anarchist commune at the top of a floating city and four friends who might be the city's unlikely last hope after their heist goes wrong.

I've got some other ideas that I've written short proof-of-concept sections for, I'm starting to fiddle with scenes for the final novel in The Honours trilogy, and I want to write a creative writing handbook. I'm very excited, but dadding keeps me (blissfully) busy so it's taking a while!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

TC:  Thank you for having me!

The Ice House
The Honours Trilogy 2
Canongate Books, May 2, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Tim Clare
War doesn't end. It sleeps.

Delphine Venner is an old woman now. She is old, but she remembers everything. She remembers what it is to be a child of war, she remembers fighting for her life and she remembers what the terrifying creatures from another world took from her all those years ago. She remembers the gateway, and those she lost.

And in that other world, beast-filled and brutal, someone waits for her. Hagar, a centuries-old assassin, daily paying a terrible price for her unending youth, is planning one final death: that of her abhorrent master, the Grand-Duc. The death that will cost her everything. The death which requires Delphine.

Voyaging into this violence and chaos, Delphine must remember who she really is and be ready to fight once more, as war reawakens. In the battle to destroy an ageless evil, will both worlds be saved - or will every mortal creature lose everything?


The Honours
The Honours Trilogy 1
Canongate Books, April 2, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Tim Clare

1935. Norfolk.

Its newest resident, Miss Delphine Venner, is determined to uncover the secrets of the Hall’s elite society, which has taken in her gullible mother and unstable father.

As she explores the house and discovers the secret network of hidden passages that thread through the estate, Delphine uncovers a world more dark and threatening than she ever imagined. With the help of head gamekeeper Mr Garforth, Delphine must learn the bloody lessons of war and find the soldier within herself in time to battle the deadly forces amassing in the woods …
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

The Honours is a dark, glittering and dangerously unputdownable novel which invites you to enter a thrilling and fantastical world unlike any other.

About Tim

Interview with Tim Clare
Photo © Andi Sapey
Tim Clare is a writer, poet and musician. He won Best Biography/Memoir at the East Anglian Book Awards for his first book, We Can’t All Be Astronauts, while his fiction debut, The Honours, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. He has performed his work at festivals and clubs across the world, on BBC TV and radio. Tim has also written for the Guardian, The Times, the Independent and the Big Issue, and presents the fiction writing podcast Death Of 1,000 Cuts. His latest novel, The Ice House, is published on May 2nd.

@TimClarePoet |

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)

Please welcome Jack Heckel to The Qwillery. The Darkest Lord, the 3rd novel, in the fabulous Mysterium Chronicles, was published in digital format on February 26th by Harper Voyager Impulse and on April 2nd in Mass Market Paperback.

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)

TQWelcome again to The Qwillery. The eBook of the third and final novel in The Mysterium Chronicles, The Darkest Lord, was published on February 26th. First (and not most important) where is my T-shirt?

Seriously, what are your feelings on completing the Trilogy?


Seriously, the question is whether you want an Avery Lives t-shirt:

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)

Or, a Mysterium University sweatshirt:

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)

And, we mean that.

Seriously, which one?

Actually, we’d love to send you both, since you were the inspiration for them.

As for your secondary question, the overall feelings we have at finishing the trilogy is giddy relief marked by bouts of exuberant joy. This probably explains why the first thing we did is to make t-shirts and sweatshirts. We wanted to be able to celebrate with our readers (in a tangible way) the end of Avery’s story.

And, for readers of your blog, we want to extend an offer that if they graduate from Mysterium University (by reading and reviewing each of the three novels) they can get one of those snazzy sweatshirts or t-shirts (reader’s choice) sent to them by Jack himself.

[TQ's Note: No t-shirts or sweatshirts were harmed in the making of this interview.]

TQPlease explain to our readers how your collaboration works. Are you plotters, pantsers or hybrids?

JH:  Definitely a hybrid. Having two authors means some planning is essential, otherwise we would have the impossible task of sorting through multiple versions of text every step of the way. Having said that, we find that our carefully crafted outlines typically survive three chapters before breaking down under the strain of our collaboration. What happens, and we see this as a boon rather than a problem, is that we get stuck on some section of text, and then get on the phone together and suddenly the story takes about a dozen twists and turns. Figuring out how to take those creative moments and weave them into the story and the story around them is a challenge, but ultimately the best part of working together.

TQDescribe The Mysterium Chronicles using only 5 words.

JH:  Pratchett sends Potter to graduate school. Hmm… that was six. Can we have a bonus word?

TQIn The Mysterium Chronicles, was there a character who surprised you? Which character was the most difficult to write?

JH:  Sam surprised us the most. He was originally going to be a bit of a joke character. The silly, downtrodden and bemused sidekick. However, as the story progressed we discovered that the sidekick character is often the most human. As the novels have gone along his role has increased, and, not to give anything away, that culminates in The Darkest Lord.

The most difficult character was Avery. Hands down. We went into these stories wanting to poke very gentle fun at the often black and white nature of epic fantasy novels. To do that we knew we would need a character that lived in the many hues of gray between good and evil. Even though we love the guy, striking that balance in Avery was a never-ending source of writing stress.

TQThe Darker Lord (Book 2) took place 4 months after Avery returned to Mysterium. How soon after The Darker Lord does The Darkest Lord take place? And does time really matter where wizards are concerned?

JH:  About another six months to a year after The Darker Lord. We really wanted to pace these novels so they occurred in quick succession, but where enough time would have passed that some consequences from the previous books would have had time to accumulate.

As for whether time has meaning, we will only say that given the situation Avery finds himself in at the opening of The Darkest Lord every day counts!

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

JH:  We think the question we would love someone to ask is: “Does Avery actually live?” However, we only like this question because then we could raise an eyebrow, and answer, “Do any of us actually live?” Or something equally enigmatic and infuriating.

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


This first just because it’s true:

“Semi-liches don’t get sore, Sam,” Drake said with exaggerated gravity. “They get evil.”

And this second because we love opening lines:

My name is Avery, and I wish I weren’t the Dark Lord.

It was a fervent wish. One that I repeated daily, but with no effect, because I was the Dark Lord, and the fact that I was—alongside a number of other regrettable life choices—probably explains why I was lying in a coffin listening to a voice, dry as death, calmly reciting my latest crimes against the multiverse.

TQWhat was (each of) your soundtrack for The Darkest Lord?

John:  I found an all Beatles channel and that was it. John, Paul, George and Ringo were my constant companions during this novel.

Harry:  I listened to a mix of classic rock and Doctor Who theme music.

TQTotal number of Easter Eggs in all 3 novels?

JH:  Aha! You think you can trick us into giving such crucial information away? We cannot be fooled so easily. In fact, to celebrate the upcoming launch of the paperback (April 2) we are asking people to point to their favorite Easter eggs and will have a bit of an Easter egg hunt? Not to pimp our website too much, but… if you check in at over the next week we will be providing further details. (Prizes will be available!)

TQIs there any chance that you may visit Mysterium and the subworlds again? Perhaps Eldrin's Trelari RPG wargame or Moregoth's Guide to Dress?

JH  Definitely. Of course, there are a lot of side stories we would love to explore, like Moregoth’s origin story, or a narrative written from Eldrin’s point of view. Beyond that, we’ve been thinking about a joke book from the demi-lich Gray, or Harold’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Mages? But our favorite concept is a daily calendar of inspirational quotes from Moregoth: “Today remember to embrace life… wrap your fingers around its throat and choke it to death.” Honestly, an RPG supplement or a Trelari wargame isn’t out of the question.

TQWhat are you working on next? (collectively or individually).

JH  Collectively we are going to return to Prince Charming. We have been wanting to write a third Charming Tales novel for some time. Individually, John is working on a novel based on the fairytale, The Seven Ravens, and Harry is revising a series of superhero novels, along with a fantasy project or two. Look for further details on all future projects on

TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.

The Darkest Lord
The Mysterium Chronicles 3
Harper Voyager Impulse, February 26, 2019
     eBook, 384 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, April 2, 2019
     Mass Market Paperback, 528 pages

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)
In the epic conclusion to Jack Heckel’s whimsical fantasy series, Dark Lord Avery Stewart must join the Company of the Fellowship in a frenzied war against Moregoth and the corrupt forces of Mysterium. . . and destroy the magical artifact fueling the interworld chaos

In The Darker Lord, Avery Stewart learned a terrible truth about Mysterium: the home of his beloved university and the reality-center of the multiverse is not the world he thought it was. The true Mysterians, innately endowed with the power to manipulate reality, were displaced eons ago by the subworlders with whom they shared their magical teachings, and written out of the reality pattern of their own world. For years they have lived in exile in the subworld of Trelari, shielded from the Mysterian pursuit led by Moregoth and the Sealers. That is, until Valdara, the warrior queen of Trelari, reopened the subworld to the rest of the multiverse and challenged the Mysterium to a final showdown.

One year later, a violent war of worlds drags on, and Avery can’t help feeling that all of this is his fault.

But the good news (if you can call it that) is that Avery might hold the key—literally, a key—to ending the suffering and saving Trelari. For Avery possesses the Reality Key, a magical artifact with the power to bend reality to one’s will, often to the immediate detriment of entire worlds. . . and, if it falls into the hands of the Mysterian forces, much more. To protect his friends, save Trelari, and bring order to Mysterium, Avery will need to do the unthinkable: travel to the heart of Mysterium, destroy the Key, and rewrite Mysterium’s reality pattern to restore balance to the multiverse, once and for all.


The Dark Lord
The Mysterium Chronicles 1
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 1, 2016
     eBook, 464 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, December 27, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)
In this hilarious parody of epic fantasy, a young man travels into a dark and magical world, where dwarves, elves, and sorcerers dwell, to restore the balance between good and evil

After spending years as an undercover, evil wizard in the enchanted world of Trelari, Avery hangs up the cloak he wore as the Dark Lord and returns to his studies at Mysterium University.

On the day of his homecoming, Avery drunkenly confides in a beautiful stranger, telling her everything about his travels. When Avery awakens, hungover and confused, he discovers that his worst nightmare has come true: the mysterious girl has gone to Trelari to rule as a Dark Queen.

Avery must travel back to the bewitched land and liberate the magical creatures . . . but in order to do so, he has to join forces with the very people who fought him as the Dark Lord.

The Darker Lord
The Mysterium Chronicles 2
Harper Voyager Impulse, July 24, 2018
     eBook, 464 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, September 4, 2018
     Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)
The second novel of Jack Heckel’s Mysterium series, The Darker Lord follows beleaguered former Dark Lord Avery Stewart as he is forced to take up his cloak and his Imp once again and travel the doors between realms in order to keep the fabric of the universe intact. More or less intact, anyway.

In The Dark Lord, Avery had an epiphany about the Mysterium. Only now he can’t remember what it was, no matter how much coffee he drinks or how many times he reads the novel published from his notes. What he does know is that he has become the most famous mage in the multiverse, and no one is happy with him. His fellow mages are upset at his rapid promotion, Dawn and Eldrin are tired of him spending his days on their couch watching bad TV, and Harold the Imp won’t talk to him.

Luckily, things can always get worse. And they do when the Administration’s enforcer, Moregoth, arrives at the first lecture of the semester to apprehend two of Avery’s new students for undoubtedly sinister reasons. In a fit of foolishness and heroism, Avery defies the university and flees with his friends into subworld. There, he reunites with his former allies from Trelari and thus begins a frantic race through the multiverse to escape Moregoth.

But as Avery’s amnesia begins to fade, he realizes his loss of memory is no accident, that he is caught in a conspiracy as terrifying as Mysterium University’s Student Records Building—and that his friends might not all be on his side.

About Jack Heckel

Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)
Harry Heckel
Interview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)
John Peck
Jack Heckel’s life is an open book. Actually, it’s the book you are in all hope holding right now (and if you are not holding it, he would like to tell you it can be purchased from any of your finest purveyors of the written word). Beyond that, Jack aspires to be either a witty, urbane world traveler who lives on his vintage yacht, The Clever Double Entendre, or a geographically illiterate professor of literature who spends his nonwriting time restoring an eighteenth-century lighthouse off a remote part of the Vermont coastline. Whatever you want to believe of him, he is without doubt the author of The Dark Lord. More than anything, Jack lives for his readers. Despite whatever Jack may claim, in reality, Jack Heckel is the pen name for John Peck and Harry Heckel.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @JackHeckel

Interview with Charlie Holmberg

Please welcome Charlie N. Holmberg to The Qwillery. Smoke and Summons, the 1st novel in the Numina series, was published on February 1, 2019 by 47North.

Interview with Charlie Holmberg

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

Charlie:  It’s either a weird Escaflowne fan fiction I did on a mailing list or an unfinished book called “Kaiku and the Ruby Necklace,” which was equally terrible.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Charlie:  I am very much a plotter. Outlines all the way! I can’t wrap my mind around pantsing. XD

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Has your writing process changed from when you wrote The Paper Magician (2014) until now?

Charlie:  I don’t think I could pinpoint one specific thing that’s the most challenging about writing. It really depends on the time of year and the book in question. Sometimes the most challenging thing is making a character arc work. Sometimes it’s school visits. Other times it’s dealing with rejection. Right now it’s that all my projects came to a head at the same time and I have to race to my deadlines!

The most significant change in my writing process actually happened just before I wrote The Paper Magician. (So apparently it was a change for the better!) I feel like I have a more intuitive sense of how to outline a story now, so I don’t get as calculating about how I piece a book together. I now story board EVERY book I write, whereas before I just wrote out a sequence of ideas in a Word document. That involved a lot of annoying back and forth!

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Charlie:  A huge influencer of mine is Hayao Miyazaki. I love his creativity! Sometimes it’s just a simple line in one of his movies that inspires something, or it’s the tone, or his characters. I’ve also been influenced by Brandon Sanderson, who is one of my favorite authors and was my writing instructor in college.

TQDescribe Smoke and Summons using only 5 words.

Charlie:  Magical fidget spinners meets Pokemon.

TQTell us something about Smoke and Summons that is not found in the book description.

Charlie:  There’s a very strong theme of family ties throughout this book and the series.

TQWhat inspired you to write Smoke and Summons? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Charlie:  Initially, it was because my agent and editor teamed up against me and pressured me to write another series! So I had to come up with an idea big enough to encompass multiple books. I went through my Pinterest boards, brainstorming folder, and past, unpublished novels of mine, pulling out anything and everything I found interesting. Some of those things included hosting monsters, an immortality switch, and a horse made of fire.

I adore fantasy because there’s just no limit to it. I like being able to read and write about things I can’t experience in real life. Fantasy encompasses so many other genres as well, so in a way, I get to write a little of everything!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Smoke and Summons?

Charlie:  I did a lot of research on how guns work (especially old models) and the industrial revolution. Most of this was done via the lovely internet, as well as contacting friends who are experts in those fields.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Smoke and Summons.

Charlie:  I love my cover. The artist did an amazing job! The cover depicts Ireth, the fire-horse “demon” that’s bound to my main female character, Sandis.

TQ:   In Smoke and Summons who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Charlie:  You know, between the two viewpoint characters, it kind of switched depending on the scene and the book (Sandis, for instance, was harder to write in the third book of the series). Starting out, Rone was harder, but I got the hang of him pretty quickly.

TQDoes Smoke and Summons , the 1st novel in your Numina series, share anything thematically with your Paper Magician series?

CharlieSmoke and Summons has few similarities to The Paper Magician series. It’s tone is much darker, the stakes higher, and the plot more desperate. Even their progression is different. The Paper Magician series is more serial, while the Numina series is one giant story told in three books. They do both have what I hope are intriguing magic systems and main characters you can root for.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Smoke and Summons.


It never got easier. No matter how many times Kazen summoned a numen into her, it never got easier. Neither did the fear it instilled into Kazen’s victims, nor the pure, unrelenting pain possession wreaked upon her body.

Her stomach tensed, but she opened her mind, welcoming Ireth. Acceptance made the transition more bearable.

Ireth didn’t mean to hurt her.

TQWhat's next?

Charlie:  First is Myths and Mortals and Siege and Sacrifice, the other two books in the series, releasing April 16th and September 17th, respectively. So excited for them!

After that, I have a standalone romantic fantasy releasing called The Will and the Wilds. It’s the first book I wrote based on a dream. I call it my “kissing book” because it has twelve kissing scenes in it.

I’m hoping to sell a duology soon that’s in a similar vein as The Paper Magician, but no contract yet. ;)

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Smoke and Summons
Numina 1
47North, February 1, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 319 pages

Interview with Charlie Holmberg
A captivating world of monsters and magic from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series.

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…


Myth and Mortals
Numina 2
47North, April 16, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 288 pages

Interview with Charlie Holmberg
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg builds her bewitching world of beasts and betrayal as the Numina Series continues.

Sandis has escaped Kazen’s grasp, but she finds herself unmoored, reeling from her thief friend Rone’s betrayal.

Kazen has been hurt but not stopped, and he’ll do anything to summon the monster that could lay waste to the entire world. Sandis knows she must be the one to stop him, but with her own trusted numen now bound to another, and finding herself with no one she can trust, she is in desperate need of allies. Rone seems determined to help her, but Sandis has no intention of letting him get close to her again. What she doesn’t know is how much Rone gave up to protect her. Or how much more he is willing to give up to keep her safe.

As chaos mounts, Sandis must determine whom to trust. After all, the lines between enemy and ally have never been less clear…and corruption lurks in the most unlikely of places.

About Charlie

Interview with Charlie Holmberg
Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie N. Holmberg was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. Her fantasy Paper Magician Series, which includes The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, and The Master Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance. She currently lives with her family in Utah. Visit her at

Twitter @CNHolmberg  ~  Facebook
Interview with Michael R. UnderwoodInterview with Raymond E. FeistInterview with Sean McDonoughInterview with Jay AllanInterview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter WoodInterview with Stephen BlackmooreInterview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of ThievesInterview with Tim ClareInterview with Jack Heckel, author of The Mysterium Chronicles (and some other stuff)Interview with Charlie Holmberg

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