The Qwillery | category: Interview | (page 3 of 58)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Rio Youers

Please welcome Rio Youers to The Qwillery. Halcyon was published on July 10, 2018 in the US / Canada by St. Martin's Press and in the UK on October 23, 2018 by Titan Books.

Interview with Rio Youers

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

Rio Youers:  I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I’ve been able to form sentences. The first story I remember writing—at five, maybe six years old—was called Jojo the Clown. It’s worth mentioning because it was twenty-four pages long (even at six I needed an editor). The first story I submitted for publication was called The Dog, a short piece about a telepathic killer (I was charmed by the idea of a psychic psycho). It wasn’t very good, and was promptly and justly rejected. The possibility of being published, though, was too appealing, so I submitted stories regularly from that point forward, amassing the rejections until I was good enough for an editor to say yes. It took many years.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

RY:  I know a lot of writers tire quickly with the editing and proofing stages, but I love all of that—the process of refining the material. It’s like tuning a guitar. It plays better, and makes people happier, when the notes are true. The most challenging thing for me has always been beginning a new novel, working through the first 10 or 20,000 words, until the work finds its voice, and the characters begin to breathe on their own. That’s when the magic happens, when you can surrender some control and let the story unravel.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

RY:  So many things. Great fiction, obviously. Great storytelling, in any form. Good friends, good conversation. Good music. I absorb anything creative and moving. And that’s what I endeavor to bring to my fiction. Whether I manage it or not is a matter of opinion.

TQDescribe Halcyon using only 5 words.

RY:  Family love versus evil cult.

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

RY:  Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, serves a group of powerful, iniquitous men who call themselves The Society of Pain. They believe that pain is the gateway to enlightenment, and have Valerie orchestrate acts of violence and terror to channel the suffering of the masses. Valerie’s goal is to escape their hold over her, and find her own path to enlightenment.

TQWhat inspired you to write Halcyon? What appeals to you about writing Supernatural Thrillers?

RY:  Trump’s administration, his divided nation, the domestic terrorism, mass shootings, civil unrest, the greed and corruption. This is a dark and dangerous era in American history, and I wanted explore that. Initially, I’d set out to write a Mosquito Coast-style novel about a family’s need to escape, but it developed into something more, something deeper. I’d always intended for Halcyon to be character-driven, with an emphasis on family and core American values, but in many ways it became a kind of critique—a social commentary. I’m fine with that. Halcyon is a timely novel, and I’m very proud of it.

The supernatural element gives my imagination more room to run free. Adding a dose of the paranormal means I can divert from the confines of reality, although reality has to form the basis of everything. Credibility is key.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Halcyon?

RY:  Ugly research. Heartbreaking research. The novel deals with many difficult issues. Domestic terrorism, racial tension, mass shootings. I had to dig where I didn’t want to, and I’m pretty sure I hit every FBI watchlist along the way. It wasn’t all so bleak, though. Among the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of things I Googled were, “Average score for Zener card tests” and “What music do ten tears olds listen to?” But the big stuff, the main body of the research, was incredibly harrowing.

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

RY:  The easiest: the main character, Martin Lovegrove. He’s a goofy, forty-something, doting family man. He’s basically me. Authors are regularly asked if they base their characters on themselves, and I think there’s a little part of me in every character I’ve created … but there’s a lot of me in Martin Lovegrove.

The hardest? Well, Martin’s daughters, Edith and Shirley, were a challenge. They’re ten and fifteen years old respectively, and the world has shifted gears since I was a kid. It’s not easy to convincingly represent the mind (and the will) of a young person, especially when your own mind is full of cobwebs that were spun at around the time Crockett and Tubbs were on TV.

Valerie Kemp was a challenge, too. She’s such a dark, complicated individual, with so many layers. Usually, I’ll uncover more about my characters as I write them—spend time with them—but Valerie kept leading me from one mystery to another, and I was at least two drafts deep before I understood what made her tick. She fascinated, enthralled, and horrified me. We had a blast.

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

RY:  Did you cry at all while writing Halcyon? The answer: Yes, I did. I’m a very emotional man, I’m attached to my characters, and I cried many times.

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

RY:  I don’t know if they’re my favorite, exactly, but they’re quite important quotes: “When pleasure is denied, the channel to new possibilities, and alternate experiences, becomes broader.” And, “I think everybody in America should know how to treat gunshot wounds.”

TQWhat's next?

RY:  I’m currently working on a hi-octane, no-holds-barred action novel called Lola on Fire. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I will say that it’s a straight thriller, with no supernatural element, and that I’m channeling some of my favorite authors and filmmakers—Elmore Leonard and Martin Scorsese, to name but two—while writing it. If all goes to plan, I expect it to be published in early 2020.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

RY:  The pleasure was all mine. Thank you.

Titan Books, October 23, 2018
Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

Interview with Rio Youers
Halcyon is the answer for anyone who wants to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems.

A self-sustaining community on a breathtakingly beautiful island, Halcyon is run for people who want to live without fear, crime or greed. Its leader has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing, and believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. Yet he soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer. As the founder captivates his young family, Martin sets out to discover the truth of the island, however terrible it might be, where something so perfect hides unimaginable darkness beneath…

St. Martin's Press, July 10, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 384 Pages

Interview with Rio Youers
From the author of End Times and Point Hollow comes a new thriller, Rio Youers's Halcyon

HALCYON is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn't what it seems. A beautiful island in the middle of Lake Ontario—a self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed. Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth—however terrible it might be—behind the island and its mysterious founder, Mother Moon.

About Rio

Interview with Rio Youers
© Sophie Hogan
RIO YOUERS is the British Fantasy Award–nominated author of End Times and Point Hollow. His short fiction has been published in many notable anthologies, and his novel Westlake Soul was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award. Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife, Emily, and their children, Lily and Charlie.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @Rio_Youers

Interview with Aliette de Bodard

Please welcome Aliette de Bodard to The Qwillery. In the Vanishers' Palace is out today from JABberwocky Literary Agency.

Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Aliette a Happy Publication Day!

Interview with Aliette de Bodard

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

Aliette:  Hello and thank you for having me! My first fiction piece was an illustrated story about people going to rescue the daughter of the Cat Emperor of the Universe. I was 12 when I wrote it, and what I mostly remember is that the illustrations were terrible. I probably decided then and there that while writer might be a career for me, illustrator was definitely not.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Aliette:  I am most definitely a plotter. I just find it impossible to write anything if I don't have an idea of where it's going and how I get there. It gets worse for novels, where I need a detailed list of scenes and chapters and an order to them. I tend to do a big outlining phase that consumes about half my writing time for a piece, where I obsessively write the outline with a lot of details. Then I write pretty quickly after that. I'm not saying I stick to the outline, mind you! I certainly deviate from it quite significantly when I'm writing, but when that happens I'll stop and redo the outline rather than forge on, and only then will I continue writing.

TQYou've written (so far) 3 series - the Obsidian and Blood Trilogy, the Universe of Xuya, and the Dominion of the Fallen with the 3rd novel in this series out next year. Has you're writing process changed from when you wrote your first published novel to now?

Aliette:  I think the main way in which my process has changed is that I've accepted that I can be flexible with it? When I first started writing, the process was very much this lifeline I clung to. Having a detailed outline was the only thing that was going to prevent my novel from turning into a smoking crater, and if I even so much as slightly deviated from it I'd be lost. Now that I've got more books under my belt, I know that on some level I'm capable of making a novel and that it's not the end of the world if I don't exactly follow the outline. That said, I also know how much I can deviate from the process: I know that if I don't follow the outline at some point in the very near future I'll have to pause and re-plot, or I'll end up frustrated and unable to write!

TQYour most recent work is In the Vanishers' Palace, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. What attracted you to this fairy tale?

Aliette:  I've always been attracted to Beauty and the Beast. I think it's partly because the Disney version came out when I was a kid and was one of the first movies I can remember going to the theatre for, and partly because it's about love in spite of physical appearance, and love triumphing against all obstacles. It's a very old and very powerful tale. At the same time, while I love it to bits, I recognise that it's deeply problematic when it comes to consent: Beauty falls in love with her kidnapper and her jailer, and the huge power imbalance between them isn't ever really acknowledged. I wanted to retell this story, but in a way that would have a love story that was born of free will and where both parties respected the other's consent. I also wanted to bring into it the Vietnamese elements from my childhood, to make Beauty an impoverished scholar and the Beast a dragon spirit turned fearful and dark.

TQTell us something about In the Vanishers' Palace that is not found in the book description.

Aliette:  The eponymous palace, the one in which Vu Côn (the dragon) lives, was inspired by Escher's artwork. I wanted something creepy and dizzying, and I decided Escher was the perfect match. Every room in the palace, with their infinitely receding perspectives and their architecture where the reader is uncertain where up, down or sideways are, is inspired by one or two different pieces of Escher's.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for In the Vanishers' Palace?

Aliette:  I did a lot of research on Escher (obviously!), on Vietnamese folklore and in particular the traditional tales involving dragons. A bunch of research also went in medicine, because several of the main characters are healers, and the world it's set in is one where random plagues abound, and obviously I needed to make up some plausible diseases people could catch. I also looked into Traditional Chinese/Vietnamese medicine.

TQPlease tell us about the fabulous cover for In the Vanishers' Palace.

Aliette:  The cover was painted by Kelsey Liggett, and designed by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein and Melanie Ujimori. It doesn't depict something from the novel, but rather its overall mood. The main character Yên, my impoverished scholar, is seen wearing an áo dài, a traditional Vietnamese tunic: we picked peach as a colour because it had a nice contrast with the background and it was warm (it's also a very traditional female colour). In background, you see the dragon, Vu Côn--I really like that she's this huge, enormous, threatening shadow, because that's how Yên starts out as perceiving her, before realising there's more to her than meets the eye. But at the same time the huge dark dragon symbolises the darkness at the heart of the tale, and the dangerous secrets in the palace that Yên will have to face, so it's very fitting, in more ways than one, that she's falling through the dragon's coils.

TQDoes In the Vanishers' Palace touch on any social issues?

Aliette:  I didn't mean to touch on any social issues: I basically wrote this book because I wanted to write something that would make me happy and that would be welcoming to my friends. But of course writing is always a political act, and writing a book in which the main characters are two queer Vietnamese women falling in love with each other, and which has several supporting non-binary characters, is not neutral. It says something about which people are being allowed happiness, being allowed escape, being allowed their own stories; and it's a statement all of its own!

TQWhich question about In the Vanishers' Palace do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Aliette:  How did you work out the magic system?

The magic system in In the Vanishers' Palace is language-based, which sounds simple but actually gave me quite a large headache. It's not only language-based, but it's also writing based: magicians need to have the right words and then to write them down (whether in a circle or in the air) before anything happens. It's based on literary allusions, which means that you have to be fairly fluent in poetry and stories before you can put things together: for instance, the words used to summon the dragon, "Fish, River, Gate, Storm", come from a story in which carps leap through a gate located at the top of a waterfall and transform into dragons (who are river and storm spirits).

One of the questions I had to deal with was what form the writing should take, and it wasn't an innocuous one. Vietnamese is written today with an alphabet, but the archaic form of the language used Chinese characters (as in, actual characters taken from Chinese in the days of Chinese domination of Vietnam). In the first version I wrote, the more archaic versions of the magical language used characters, and then I realised that I was erasing the Vietnamese language as it is now, and implying that anything magical was really Chinese, which is a unsatisfactory way of handling things. So I ended up giving everyone a different alphabet: there's one for the mortals and one for the spirits, and a really weird one for the departed race, the Vanishers, one that few people can read anymore.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from In the Vanishers' Palace.

Aliette:  Here are two!

"Something pushed from beneath the water—emerging, lithe and sinuous, a huge, serpentine body, translucent stubs of antlers with the same glow as the moon’s—a mane, scattering droplets of river water as the dragon shook herself, her roar the thunder of a storm that stripped leaves and bark from the trees."

"Because she had to, Yên looked up; and down again, quickly, before she could be overwhelmed. The room stretched and twisted. Rivulets of water ran down on either side of the path leading to the throne where Vu Côn sat, gradually gathering to become a huge river that climbed over the throne and then fell back behind it, a soundless, impossible waterfall. But the rivulets went on and on, receding into the distance and forming another, farther-away waterfall falling on an empty throne, and on and on, repeating without any sign that this pattern ever ended."

TQWhat's next?

Aliette:  I'm going to be a guest at World Fantasy at the end of the month, where I'll be talking safe havens in storms and all things fantasy. Bookwise, I'm working on book 3 of Dominion of the Fallen, which will wrap up the series. It'll be set in the same dark Gothic devastated Paris, and focus on House Harrier, which is a snobbish House divided by class, and which runs into troubles of its own after a mysterious magical explosion. After that I'll be tackling a space opera set in my Xuya universe (which is a galactic empire based on Vietnamese culture, with spaceships who are part of families).

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Aliette:  Thank you very much for having me! Honoured.

In the Vanishers' Palace
JABberwocky Literary Agency, October 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 208 pages

Interview with Aliette de Bodard
From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land...

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village's debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn's amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets...

About Aliette

Interview with Aliette de Bodard
Photo by Lou Abercrombie
Aliette de Bodard writes speculative fiction: her short stories have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. She is the author of the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (Ace/Gollancz, 2017 European Science Fiction Society Achievement Award, Locus award finalist). She lives in Paris.

Website  ~  Twitter @aliettedb  ~  Facebook

Interview with Peter McLean

Please welcome Peter McLean to The Qwillery. Priest of Bones, the first novel in the War for the Rose Throne, was published on October 2nd by Ace.

Interview with Peter McLean

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery! Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne 1) was published on October 2nd. Describe Priest of Bones using only 5 words.

Peter:  Peaky Blinders with Swords. There, that’s only four words! Joel Cunningham at Barnes & Noble came up with that when they hosted the online cover reveal, and it’s absolutely perfect.

TQIn our first interview (back in 2016) you said that the most challenging thing for you about writing was "Simply making the time to do it is always the hardest thing." Is this still the case or have new challenges cropped up?

Peter:  Yes and no. I had eighteen months off between leaving one day job and starting another, which gave me a ton of time to work (the second book, Priest of Lies, is already done!) but I’m now back at work during the days again, so I’m once more burning the candle at both ends. It’s manageable though, I find I just have to choose what I don’t do in order to make time for writing. I barely watch TV any more, for example, and nights out have definitely become a thing of the past. Writing is one of those things that, if you really want to do it, you’ll find the time somewhere. I know people who get up to write at 5am every day before their families wake up, for example, and people who write on their lunch breaks at work. The time is always there, it’s just up to you how you choose to use it.

TQYour first series, The Burned Man series (Drake, Dominion, and Damnation), is Urban Fantasy. Priest of Bones is described as "...a fresh and compelling take on grimdark fantasy." While The Burned Man series was often grim and dark it could not be called grimdark. What drew you to writing grimdark? What is "grimdark" in your opinion?

Peter:  Oh boy, I’m not even sure of the answer to that myself. I don’t really think anyone outside of the Warhammer community (where the term originated) really agrees on what “grimdark” means. For me, at least, it’s about morally ambiguous characters, about everyone thinking they’re doing the right thing and usually being wrong, and about consequences. One of the key signatures of books commonly regarded as grimdark is that actions have consequences. Wounds get infected and go bad, soldiers get dysentery on campaign, good people die unexpectedly, and war leaves mental as well as physical scars. In those respects I suppose you could say it’s more “realistic” than traditional high fantasy where you often find instant healing spells and so forth, but it’s not just that. There’s an aesthetic to it too, a grime that speaks to the noir-lover in me. I can’t see myself ever writing about singing elves and happy unicorns, if you know what I mean.

TQAre there any themes that Priest of Bones shares with The Burned Man series?

Peter:  Yeah, definitely. Childhood trauma and parent issues seem to be two of my recurring themes whatever I’m writing, and both Don Drake and Tomas Piety are the products of abusive upbringings. There’s the criminality too, of course. Don Drake from The Burned Man was basically a hitman, at least to begin with, and Tomas Piety is a gangster. Both are trying to do good, to be better men, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Both series are set amongst the lower classes of their worlds, too; even when I’m reading history, I’m infinitely more interested in how cobblers, bakers, seamstresses and soldiers lived in a given time than I am in royalty or dukes and duchesses. I always think people’s actions and decisions are more interesting when they’re influenced not simply by what they perceive to be right, but also by how they’ll get to eat that day.

TQYou've set Priest of Bones sort of in the Tudor period. What appeals to you about this particular historical period?

Peter:  I knew I wanted my broken soldiers to be haunted by the noise of the cannon, in a nod to the heroes of the First World War, so I decided to set the story in an analogue of the Tudor period rather than the more ubiquitous “Medieval fantasy era”, which is never particularly Medieval anyway. Also I wanted Ellinburg, where the book is set, to be a filthy industrial city, with lots of heavy manufacturing. I didn’t want to go steampunk with it, but there are a lot of factories powered by waterwheels which I think fit better in a later-feeling setting.

TQIn Priest of Bones who was your favorite character to write and why? Which character has given you the most trouble and why?

Peter:  Bloody Anne is far and away my favourite character. Like the very best characters, she just sort of arrived in my head one day, fully formed and generally causing trouble, demanding to be written. She fascinates me because she functions as Tomas’s conscience, something he’s personally lacking to a large degree. Their relationship is purely platonic but there’s definitely a love between them, and a deep well of mutual respect.

I think in a way Tomas himself was probably the most difficult – with a first person narrator you’re obviously much deeper in that character than any of the others, and Tomas is a complicated man. He just arrived too, but he was much harder to get into the head of than Anne. He’s a ruthless, manipulative businessman out for himself and a natural leader, but at the same time he genuinely cares for his people and his streets, the place where he came from. He grew up dirt poor on those streets, abused and with no prospects. He’s a completely self-made man with big political ambitions and bigger problems, who gets swallowed up by events beyond his control and has to do what he can to make the best of it. He’s a man of contradictions, priest and executioner both. While he is enormously fun to write about it’s a big character to wrap around myself, and not always a comfortable head to live in while writing him.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Priest of Bones.

Peter:  I absolutely love the cover, Ace really did me proud there. It was designed in-house at Berkley by Katie Anderson, combining the photograph of the sword by Jelena Jovanovic with Slava Geri’s street scene. The US trade paperback has a gorgeous textured finish too, while the UK edition from Jo Fletcher Books has a slightly different design but the same image, and will be a my first hardcover release.

TQPlease share with us one or two of your favorite quotes from Priest of Bones.


“My weapons are gold and lace, and paints and powders. And the dagger, when it’s needed. You can hide a dagger very well indeed, behind enough lace.”

When people have run out of food, and hope, and places to hide, do not be surprised if they have also run out of mercy.

TQWhat's next?

Peter:  Next is the second book in the series, Priest of Lies, due out next July. Without giving too much away, you’ll see savage gang warfare, visit Dannsburg, see the imposing House of Law and the terrible House of Magicians, and discover what happens when a man who lives by his brutal reputation finds himself thrown into the merciless arena of royal politics in a city where that reputation simply doesn’t exist.

And that’s without what the Queen’s Men have planned for him.

TQThank you for joining us as The Qwillery!

Peter:  Thank you for having me!

Priest of Bones
War for the Rose Throne 1
Ace, October 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Peter McLean
“The first in an unmissable series, Priest of Bones is a fresh and compelling take on grimdark fantasy. Mashing together soldiers, gangsters, magic and war into a heady mix that is a hulking big brother to The Lies of Locke Lamora.”–Anna Stephens, author of Godblind

The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety heads home with Sergeant Bloody Anne at his side. But things have changed while he was away: his crime empire has been stolen and the people of Ellinburg–his people–have run out of food and hope and places to hide. Tomas sets out to reclaim what was his with help from Anne, his brother, Jochan, and his new gang: the Pious Men. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, everything gets more complicated.

As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the back-street taverns, brothels, and gambling dens of Tomas’s old life, it becomes clear:

The war is only just beginning.

About Peter

Interview with Peter McLean
Peter McLean lives in the UK, where he studies martial arts and magic, and volunteers at a prison, teaching creative writing. He is the author of the Burned Man urban fantasy series.

Website  ~  Twitter @petemc666  ~  Facebook

Interview with Larry Allen, author of A Forgotten Legacy

Please welcome Larry Allen to The Qwillery. A Forgotten Legacy was published in April 2018 by Waquoit Press.

Interview with Larry Allen, author of A Forgotten Legacy

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

Larry:  A rather embarrassing picture book from about second grade. I guess you could call it science fiction, because it involved robots. And embarrassing because it involved robots giving birth. Fortunately I found it recently while packing for a move, and it's now archived where no one will see it again. Ever.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Larry:  Generally a plotter. My upcoming novel project, though, began by pantsing; I had what I though was a good idea and decided to run with it and see where it went. I got about ten thousand words in and hit a stone wall, so I reverted to type, put together a plot outline, and began moving forward again. Where I landed was nowhere near the outline, but it did break the logjam. I'm reminded of the old Eisenhower quote "... plans are useless, but planning is indispensable"

I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable
Read more at:

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Larry:  Discipline, definitely. I'm most productive when I put in the hours. Sadly, Real Life™ intrudes, which is really no excuse - we all have the same 168 hours a week; it's what we do with them that makes the difference. So I'll take this question as a gentle reminder to get back to work.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Larry:  Partly the old masters: Asimov, Heinlein, Sterling... Some of their work can seem archaic by contemporary standards, but even if a story is dated, we can learn from it. Aesop's fables have held up remarkably well over the last 2500 years. But I also draw from my engineering background - when a new piece of technology appears on the scene, it's fun to extrapolate where it might go. Unless the extrapolation leads to the end of the world. I hate stories where everyone is dead at the end.

TQDescribe A Forgotten Legacy using only 5 words.

Larry:  Do I really have to? (That's 5 words). Seriously, though, how about "Be bold. Surprise even yourself."

TQTell us something about A Forgotten Legacy that is not found in the book description.

Larry:  Most of the first contact stories I've ever read involve grandiose missions that go well. Whether it's diplomatic outreach or alien invasion, the recurring theme is a master strategy executed according to plan. But in the real world, things go wrong. Part of what motivated my writing 'Legacy was that it would be interesting to explore what might happen if things go sideways in a big way. Apollo 13 on steroids?

TQWhat inspired you to write A Forgotten Legacy? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Larry:  The big inspiration was the idea that we're all more than we think we are. It may take us some time to discover in what way that's so. Some of us go a lifetime without ever making that discovery. For me, the big appeal of Science Fiction is that the opportunities to explore are limitless - if you don't like the world you're in, you can make a new one... and another, and another. I've got some ideas for mainstream action/adventure novels, but my ideas for Science Fiction projects keep crowding them out. Chase my muse, or play to a wider audience? I guess I've made my choice.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Forgotten Legacy?

Larry:  The broad strokes were material I already knew, so most of my research was into the sort of minutiae that, when you get it right nobody notices, but when you get it wrong your reader rolls her eyes, puts the book down, and clicks one star on the review page. For me, this included everything from calculating the apparent diameter of a planet from a particular orbit, down to what fraction of human cultures kiss (Most of them, it turns out, and even some simians). With the internet, there's really no excuse for getting these things wrong. And I hope that there's not some fundamental oversight in 'Legacy that makes me eat these words.

TQIn A Forgotten Legacy who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Larry:  The protagonist was definitely the easiest character to write, because of there's a lot of me in him, both by nature and life experience. The book isn't remotely autobiographical, but I'd like to believe that if I was placed in Greg's situation, I'd have the courage to do what he does.

The hardest? Probably the villain's significant other. She's a cool, perfectly heartless sociopath, and she was inspired by a real-life business associate from some years ago. My most effective technique for getting a character right is to imagine myself as that character, going through the scene. But in this case, doing so just gave me the creeps. I've got an idea for another novel, but the protagonist is an utterly amoral monster, so it will probably never get written.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Forgotten Legacy.

Larry:  Its tough to chose something that will stand alone, out of context. But hopefully these will illustrate the tone of the book, without revealing the content.
"Late arrival? On your record. Too long between calls? On your record. More than average duration of bathroom breaks? Well, not necessarily on your record, but it would turn up in the report sent to your team leader at the end of each week, and you’d surely be spoken to."
"...his gaze shifted from window to window, reading signs and examining merchandise offered for sale. Some items were easily identifiable... [but] other signs were utterly confusing, such as the one that said ‘Psychic Readings’. A narrowly focused specialty bookstore, possibly?"

TQWhat's next?

Larry:  What's next is another novel: The Sixth World. Without giving away too much, it's a story set on a future Utopian earth, but in which the protagonist discovers a deeply buried fatal flaw in that society; one that makes it's eventual collapse inevitable. In addition to making some observations about our own world that I hope my readers will find thought-provoking, I'll also be taking them to some pretty interesting new places. It's out with beta readers now, and I hope it will be released it early next year.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Larry:  Well thank you for inviting me! I hope we'll be able to do this again some day.

A Forgotten Legacy
Waquoit Press, April 2018
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 307 pages

Interview with Larry Allen, author of A Forgotten Legacy
David Frey signed on as a mission specialist for the Endeavor's inaugural interstellar expedition - a chance to be among the first to visit another world. But after a devastating shipboard disaster, he finds himself marooned and alone, trillions of miles from home.

Greg Parker commutes between a dead-end job and a loveless marriage, his dreams of a life at sea long abandoned.

Christopher Bishop's high-tech empire has made him one of the most successful men in the world. But something he's tried to find for a generation still eludes him.

Much to all of their surprise, their lives are about to converge in a way that none of them could possibly have imagined.

Written by an engineer and pilot, A Forgotten Legacy will be a compelling read for science fiction fans, as well as those who just want to enjoy an entertaining, suspenseful adventure.

About Larry

Interview with Larry Allen, author of A Forgotten Legacy
When not working on his latest science fiction novel or short story, Larry Allen consults for the electronic engineering and embedded computing industries. He spends his recreational time flying light airplanes, long-distance bicycling, traveling, and of course voraciously reading. On rare occasions he has been observed taking the Polar Bear Plunge. He prefers cats to dogs, and lives with his wife on Cape Cod.


Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust Trilogy

Please welcome Anna Smith Spark to The Qwillery. The Tower of Living and Dying, Empires of Dust 2, was published on August 7th by Orbit.

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust Trilogy

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Tower of Living and Dying (Empire of Dust 2), was published on August 7th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Court of Broken Knives (Empire of Dust 1) to now?

Anna:  Thank you so much for having me back!

Good question. The writing process for the two books was totally different. They were both incredibly interesting to write in very different ways.

The Court of Broken Knives was written in a mad blast over a year, with no thought of publication at all. It wasn’t even written as a novel, in fact – I sat down one day after not having written fiction for well over ten years, started writing and things came unstoppably vomited out. Men in a desert, heat, violence: I had no idea what was happening, who these people were, where they were, why. Then next thing I knew a dragon had turned up. It really wasn’t until I’d written maybe 50,000 words that I had any idea that I was writing a fantasy novel; I finally worked out what the book was about clearly in my mind, uh, when I came to edit it for final publication. It was a journey of discovery for me, a world to explore and a group of people revealing more of themselves as I travelled with them.

The Tower of Living and Dying was written after I had an agent and a book deal. So I was writing ‘book two of a big new fantasy trilogy’ with a plot synopsis I vaguely needed to follow, characters I knew inside out (virtually literally, in some cases), a world who’s geography I could follow on a beautiful map. There were far more limitations in some ways, I’d be cursing Sophie my amazing map artist for putting a river just here rather than a smidge more over there, suddenly things like a character’s family background, life goals, chances of surviving the next twenty pages with a head and at least one working limb, were rather more fixed. And I had my editors’ voices whispering in my ears: ‘that’s not a commercial move to do that’, ‘that’s not persuasive motivation’, ‘no no no no no we’ve literally just discussed this as a problem in book one’.

But – the confidence! The joyous pleasure of feeling ‘I’m a writer! A writer! Me! So ... I can write!’ After a lifetime of not having much confidence in myself, mental health problems, a depressing day job stretching on into eternity as my one purpose in life, suddenly I was a writer with people saying very nice things about my writing. The confidence to really explore how far I can go with it, push my prose to the limits. I knew I could do it. The Tower of Living and Dying was a sculpture in a block of marble, in there waiting for me to hack it out. Perhaps it wasn’t as exhilarating as a whole as writing The Court of Broken Knives, finding out that I could write every day as I wrote. Certainly it was more exhausting. But it felt more stable. In the end I think it produced a stronger result.

Book three, however, is bloody killing me. The one thing about the kind of reviews I’m getting is the amount of pressure they pile on for book three.

What’s that sound I can hear? Is it your heart bleeding for me as you read this? Please don’t feel you need to cry for me either, it’s getting your computer all wet. But you have no idea how tough it is. It’s right up there with ‘I’m struggling to find ways to spend my money’, ‘the thing about being this beautiful is how difficult it is to get my PhD supervisor to take me seriously’ and ‘I have a metabolic condition where I lose more weight the more chocolate I eat’ as a tragic but often misunderstood life problem. It’s hard but I’m heroically trying to cope.

Seriously, I am humbled and awed and wonderstruck by the response to The Court of Broken Knives and The Tower of Living and Dying. It’s difficult to put into words how it feels when I get a good review, how grateful I am when people say they’ve bought my book. I regularly cry when I hear from people who enjoyed it, then phone my dad to tell him and he cries too. But the pressure I feel not to disappoint people is pretty intense now. Book three is the end of the story, the summation of the ideas I’ve explored in the first two books, the culmination of my and my readers’ hopes, potentially the last book of mine people buy and the last book I write for HarperVoyager and Orbit. So … no pressure there.

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Court of Broken Knives came out that you know now?

Anna:  Hmmm… I know a lot about the publishing industry anyway, to be honest, my father is a writer and small-press publisher, as are many of his friends, I have several old family friends who work in publishing, journalism, arts administration and so on. Also I did a PhD, so the process of structural editing, the polite comment that asks you to entirely recast the structure of the book, was nothing new to me. I rather enjoy being edited, actually, it’s familiar, and nice to have someone telling you what to write for a bit. Also if everyone hates that bit I can feel vindicated at my editor.

TQDescribe The Tower of Living and Dying using only 5 words.

Anna:  War sorrow landscapes beauty death.

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

Anna:  Another good question. One I think about a lot.

Marith is always the hardest character to write because he is both the depths of my soul and the one great love of my life. He gets out of control and has to be reined in to make him readable, I have to check myself to try to understand him in the way we have to try to understand ourselves sometimes. It can feel very raw writing something that intensely about parts of myself and feelings I’ve had. He is toxic and vile, I’ve fallen into the fucked up romantic trap so many times myself and it’s important to make clear that he’s poison. But the lure of what he offers, him as something attractive despite or because of it, a leader, a dreamer, why people might follow him … that has to be important too. So many times, over and over, people have followed to the bitter end. Some blithely, some pitifully, some out of their own evil, some horribly aware of how fucked up it is. Trying to embody any of that in a character is emotionally draining.

I have to rein him in for other reasons too, reminding myself I’m writing grimdark fantasy not, uh, the other kind of fantasy. Although several people have said they’d love to read some of the other kind of fantasy about him and Carin, so…

Raeta was one of those delightful surprise characters that hit you from nowhere, more like the experience of writing The Court of Broken Knives had been. She really came out of nowhere at me, and I fell deeply in love with her. She was originally introduced as a very minor cameo role for a friend of mine in Broken Knives and blossomed from there.

Also, the increasing depth of heart and humanity I find in Bil Emmereth as she opens herself up to me as Orhan more is delighting me.

TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Tower of Living and Dying.


Out of the chaos an army forming, eight thousand men armed and ready, horses, ships, supplies. Tearing its way to life like a child birthing. Coalescing like bronze in the forge.

We worship the sky and the trees and the earth and the sea and the rocks we walk on. We dream of light and shadows and the glory of something far greater, the old wild powers of the world. Gods and demons parading. The secret things we cannot see that fly somewhere far beyond our human eyes.

Salt-soaked pitch-soaked well-seasoned damp wood is … astonishing when it explodes.

TQThe Empires of Dust series is grimdark fantasy. Are there any other genres / subgenres in which you'd like to write? If not, why not?

Anna:  At the moment, I can’t see myself writing anything other than high fantasy in one form or another. I love reading and writing fantasy, writing wonders and magic and epic war is so much damned fun. And there’s so much of Irlast I still need to explore.

There’s a lot of the stupid snobbery around ‘literary writing’ doesn’t apply in the same way it does in fantasy. It makes me so incredibly angry that literary fantasy is dismissed as a non-sequitur. Literary science fiction is a given, as is literary historical fiction. But literary fantasy is ignored. In as much as I have any goal in my writing now beyond writing for the joy of it, I want to treat the rarefied path of literary fantasy and see just how far I can take it. Explore the horrors of the human soul, the heights of love, the depths of grief, the riches of mundane life, push the language of modernism and archaicism, play delicious language games … with magic swords and chainmail bikinis and dragons.

TQWhat is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?

Anna:  My father has a postcard on his desk that says ‘You must write as if your life depended on it’. I grew up looking at it. All it really means, in the end, is WRITE. Don’t wait for the right time and place, or think you’re not good enough. Don’t write for others. Don’t think about ‘will this sell? Is this good?’. Just write without restrictions on yourself.

TQWhat advice would you give to a debut author?

Anna:  Honestly? You’re nothing special. You’ve written one book. Unless you’re J K Rowling or E L James, your life is not going to be forever changed. All that’s changed is that you’ve got the pressure of having a deadline for your next book.

Even more honestly? You’re really nothing special. No matter how many books you go on to write. If I ever find myself approaching book bloggers and review sites like this one with anything other than humility awe and gratitude, if I ever stop pinching myself in wonder every time anyone asks me what I do and I can say ‘author’, if I ever stop feeling like I’m going to weep for joy when someone says they liked my book, I need to stop writing for publication immediately.

TQWhat's next?

Anna:  Killing myself wrestling book three into submission. It’s either the book or me. Indeed, by the time this is published, it may well have been me. Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant. Then …. who knows? I would love to write more novels set in Irlast, exploring other voices and perspectives on things. There’s a whole world there to explore, the landscapes, the people; Irlast is ultimately a map of my subconscious so I don’t see myself abandoning it any time soon. I’ve written several short stories set in Irlast, for the forthcoming Rogues, Legends III and Unbound II anthologies. Beyond that, it’s with the gods. I’ve been pouring libations to Apollo and Calliope daily.

TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.

The Tower of Living and Dying
Empires of Dust 2
Orbit, July 24, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust Trilogy
A powerhouse story of bloodshed, ambition, and fate, The Tower of Living and Dying is a continuation of Anna Smith Spark’s brilliant Empires of Dust trilogy, which began with The Court of Broken Knives.

Marith has been a sellsword, a prince, a murderer, a demon, and dead. But something keeps bringing him back to life, and now there is nothing stopping him from taking back the throne that is rightfully his.

Thalia, the former high priestess, remains Marith’s only tenuous grasp to whatever goodness he has left. His left hand and his last source of light, Thalia still believes that the power that lies within him can be used for better ends. But as more forces gather beneath Marith’s banner, she can feel her influence slipping.

Read the second book in this “gritty and glorious!” (Miles Cameron) epic fantasy series reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence where the exiled son of a king fights to reclaim his throne no matter the cost.

Empires of Dust
The Court of Broken Knives
The Tower of Living and Dying


The Court of Broken Knives
Empires of Dust 1
Orbit, August 15, 2017
    Trade Paperback, 512 pages
Orbit, June 27, 2017
    eBook, 512 pages

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust Trilogy
Perfect for fans of Mark Lawrence and R Scott Bakker, The Court of Broken Knives is the explosive debut by one of grimdark fantasy’s most exciting new voices.

Shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel
Shortlisted for the David Gemmell Morningstar Award

It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed–but only one man can see it.

Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross the desert to reach the capital city. Once they enter the palace, they have one mission: kill the emperor, then all those who remain. Only from the ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Though he is young, ambitious, and impossibly charming, something dark hides in Marith’s past–and in his blood.

Dive into this new fantasy series for readers looking for epic battle scenes, gritty heroes, and blood-soaked revenge.

About Anna

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust Trilogy
Anna Smith Spark is the author of the critically acclaimed grimdark epic fantast trilogy Empires of Dust. The David Gemmell Awards shortlisted The Court of Broken Knives is out now with HarperVoyager/Orbit; The Tower of Living and Dying will be published August 2018.

Anna lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher and fetish model.

Anna’s favourite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart and Mary Renault.  She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at sff conventions wearing very unusual shoes.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @queenofgrimdark

Interview with V. M. Escalada

Please welcome V. M. Escalada to The Qwillery. Gift of Griffins is published on August 7th by DAW.

Interview with V. M. Escalada

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

V. M.:  Great to be here, thanks for inviting me. I'd have to say I'm a hybrid. My academic training pushes me in the direction of outlines, but I only prepare one to be sure that I've got a viable story, that the idea works and has someplace to go. That isn't necessarily where it actually does go, of course.

TQTell us something about Gift of Griffins that is not found in the book description.

V. M.:  I see that nothing about Griffinhome is mentioned, so there's nothing about how the griffins' society works, and what Weimerk's place is in it. It does have an impact on the plot, though obviously I'm not going to tell you what that is.

TQWhat inspired you to write the Faraman Prophecy? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

V. M.:  I was a fan of those forensics shows that were all the rage for a while. Since my brain lives in a fantasy space, I thought, "what if psychics were used as crime scene investigators?" They could just walk into the crime scene, touch things, and know immediately what had happened. I figured out pretty quickly that the idea wouldn't make a story – at least not a crime-based story, since the psychics would just say "he did it" and the story would be over. So then I wondered, what if being a psychic was the problem? What if they were going about their lawful business when their country was invaded by people who thought Talents were witches that had to be destroyed?

I consider fantasy one of the oldest genres. The way we approach it today, we're able to put our characters into situations that stress them to the breaking point in a way that non-genre writing just can't do. And it also allows the writer to present a society or a world that is different from the world we live in – explore that world, examine it and, occasionally, compare it to the real world.

I've said this before, and I know I'll say it again: I believe that genre literature in general, and fantasy literature in particular is the only place where the protagonist can behave heroically, honourably, without being treated ironically.

It's the only genre where characters can to try to behave as their best selves.

TQWhy griffins?

V. M.:  Well, there are already an awful lot of dragons around, aren't there? Seriously, I liked the idea of griffins because they're dual-natured. Lions and eagles are both at the top of their food chains, top predators. I thought that would make an interesting character, particularly since we meet Weimerk as a hatchling.

TQPlease tell us about magic works in the Faraman Prophecy world.

V. M.:  I like magic to be personal, not dependent on artifacts that anyone can use. So in both books of The Faraman Prophecy, magical abilities are something that people are born with, and trained to use. Like other natural abilities, singing, dancing, cooking etc. some are better at it than others.

TQIn Gift of Griffins who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Which character has surprised you?

V. M.:  Probably the easiest character to write was Ennick. He doesn't have a huge role in terms of lines, but in his way he's extremely important. He's unique in his motives and outlook, which made him easy to understand, at least for me, some of the other characters seem to have a bit of difficulty.

The hardest character was Weimerk, the griffin. It's always a challenge when you're creating a non-human consciousness. Why would they think the same way we do?

I'd have to say the character than surprised me is Wynn Martan. She became a bit of a Mercutio-like character in that she often steals the scenes she's in. She's a redhead, and it turned out that she has the true ginger attitude.

TQDoes Gift of Griffins touch on any social issues?

V. M.:  In many ways I'm looking at the issue of racial/social biases and prejudices from a number of angles. The Faraman Polity is fairly gender-equal, with a slight bias toward women. So you'll find that ranking military officers, nobles, landowners, and even the Luqs, are very likely to be women. The Faramans themselves don't find anything unusual in this, but the Halians are a totally different matter. Not only are they male-centric, but they believe Talents are abominations that must be destroyed. However, it's not just gender equally that gets explored. Biases pop up between the different types of magic-users, and even within the same groups.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Gift of Griffins.

V. M.:  Most of my favourite lines concern Weimerk the griffin. Here are a few:

Most of my favourite lines concern Weimerk the griffin. Here are a few:

"The griffin showed you?" The woman's tone softened and became kinder. Clearly she thought Ker was mentally defective . . . "And what griffin would that be, my dear?"
Ker pointed upward. "This one."

He might have been half lion and half eagle, but he seemed to have the stomach of both.
<<I am still growing.>> Somehow his thoughts conveyed a clear feeling of offense.
<<You are not.>>

<<You're late.>>
<<I am not. I am always here when I arrive, and never a moment later.>>

TQWhat's next?

V. M.:  I had a couple of ideas for more stories in the Faraman universe, but I couldn't choose between them. So, I'm working on a totally different book, where the "magic" and the physical world are linked. The magicians themselves don't understand as much about their magic as they think they do. I'm still working out the kinks, but it looks promising so far.

Still, I'd love to visit Kerida and Tel and Weimerk again someday. And Wynn. I can see her getting into a lot of trouble.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

V. M.:  You're very welcome. I've enjoyed myself.

Gift of Griffins
Faraman Prophecy 2
DAW, August 7, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with V. M. Escalada
The second book in the Faraman Prophecy epic fantasy series returns to a world of military might and magical Talents as Kerida Nast continues the quest to save her nation.

Kerida Nast and her companions have succeeded in finding Jerek Brightwing, the new Luqs of Farama, and uniting him with a part of his Battle Wings, but not all their problems have been solved. Farama is still in the hands of the Halian invaders and their Shekayrin, and it’s going to take magical as well as military strength to overcome them.

Unexpected help comes from Bakura, the Princess Imperial of the Halians, whose Gifts have been suppressed.  As the Voice of her brother the Sky Emperor she has some political power over the Halian military, and she will use it to aid the Faramans, if Kerida can free her from what she sees as a prison. But whether Kerida can help the princess remains to be seen. If she succeeds, Bakura may prove their salvation. But should Kerida fail, all may be lost….


Halls of Law
Faraman Prophecy 1
DAW, August 7, 2018
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Hardcover and eBook, August 1, 2017

Interview with V. M. Escalada
Now in paperback, the first book in the Faraman Prophecy epic fantasy series introduces a world of military might and magical Talents on the brink of destruction–and two unlikely heroes may be its only saviors.

Seventeen-year-old Kerida Nast has always wanted a career in the military, just like the rest of her family. So when her Talent is discovered, and she knows she’ll have to spend the rest of her life as a psychic for the Halls of Law, Ker isn’t happy about it. Anyone entering the Halls must give up all personal connection with the outside world, losing their family and friends permanently.

But just as Kerida is beginning to reconcile herself to her new role, the Faraman Polity is invaded by strangers from Halia, who begin a systematic campaign of destruction against the Halls, killing every last Talent they can find.

Kerida manages to escape, falling in with Tel Cursar, a young soldier fleeing the battle, which saw the deaths of the royal family. Having no obvious heir to the throne, no new ruler to rally behind, the military leaders will be divided, unable to act quickly enough to save the empire. And with the Halls being burned to the ground, and the Talents slaughtered, the Rule of Law will be shattered.

About V. M. Escalada

Interview with V. M. Escalada
Photo: © Jessica Kennedy
V. M. Escalada lives in a nineteenth-century limestone farmhouse in southeastern Ontario with her husband. Born in Canada, her cultural background is half Spanish and half Polish, which makes it interesting at meal times. Her most unusual job was translating letters between lovers, one of whom spoke only English, the other only Spanish.

Twitter @VioletteMalan

Interview with Danie Ware

Please welcome Danie Ware to The Qwillery. Danie's most recent novel, Children of Artifice, was published on June 16th by Fox Spirit Books.

Interview with Danie Ware

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

Danie:  Was a long and windy horsey story written as a pre-teen. It was called The Fire Saddle and illustrated throughout… and (other than the front cover) I can’t honestly remember a thing about it. Other than it was awful. Obviously.

TQChildren of Artifice is your 4th novel after the 3 novel Ecko series. What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when the 1st Ecko novel came out that you know now?

Danie:  The sheer amount of hard work that goes into producing a novel – not just the writing, but the complex layers of agents and editors and copy-editors and cover artists and publishers and reps and bookstores… You may produce the basic story, but that’s only the beginning of a very long journey indeed. And it’s hard work for all involved!

TQDescribe Children of Artifice with only 5 words.

Danie:  Science fantasy, urban love story.

TQTell us something about Children of Artifice that is not found in the book description.

Danie:  Children of Artifice deals a lot with identity – with what a name really means, what responsibilities it carries, and what happens if you lose or wish to lose it. It also deals with family – there are many layers of narrative that are about ties of blood and ties of love, and how they can pull you to pieces.

TQWhat inspired you to write Children of Artifice? What appeals to you about writing fantasy?

Danie:  I love writing fantasy because the sky’s the limit and your world’s your own – you can dream as big as you like. The trick, though, is to keep the themes and feelings that we can understand and identify with – in this case, falling unexpectedly in love.

The inspiration came from exploring the relationship of the two main characters, how they interact, how they are pulled together almost in spite of themselves. And how they get caught in the centre of the whirlpool that surrounds them.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Children of Artifice?

Danie:  A lot work on alchemy, mining, volcanoes, and volcanic rock (thanks to Simon ‘Doc of Rocks’ Morden for his help), as well as into the culture and demographics of Dickensian London, and (slightly bizarrely) the Edo period of medieval Japan. Setting a story in a sealed location also means a lot of restrictions, and I had to think through how everything would work – and how essentially water-based agriculture would change the most basic ‘taken-for-granted’ things about a fantasy society.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Children of Artifice.

Danie:  Cover art is by Sarah Anne Langton, and shows the rock of the city’s mineworkings, overlaid with the symbolism of the urban magic/metallurgy that threads throughout the book. It was originally intended to be copper-coloured, but the shade came out looking brown – so the blue is the colour that copper makes when it burns. And copper is rather integral to the story!

TQIn Children of Artifice who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Danie:  Caph was the easiest – his thoughts and reactions and emotions have always been second nature, very easy to feel and follow. Proteus was the hardest – he’s a character concept that I’ve struggled with, on and off, for many years. And I was SO pleased to finally get him (and them) right!

TQDoes Children of Artifice touch on any social issues?

Danie:  A gay relationship is the central thread of the story – but I wanted to step away from the old clichés and do something slightly different. They still have their barriers to cross – but those barriers are more about class and caste, rather than sexuality. There’s also a thread about Caph have been bullied/abused by his ex, and about his father’s unforgiving attitude that it makes him ‘less than a man’. It’s not easy to have been a victim, and his breaking free of the self-blame is critical.

TQDoes Children of Artifice share anything thematically with the Ecko series (Ecko Rising, Ecko Burning, and Ecko Endgame)?

Danie:  Only that is doesn’t fit into tidy genre boundaries!

TQWhich question about Children of Artifice do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Danie:  Maybe: how long did it take you to write? And the answer is a year – and four previous drafts, the first one in about 1993. Never throw your writing away!

TQGive us one or two of your favourite non-spoilery quotes from Children of Artifice.


‘Slowly, the red sky darkened to lavender and the lamps gleamed in the dusk. The blue moon rose, a sliver like a promise. The dockers and loaders, their shifts over, put flame to swaying strings of lanterns and settled in groups to drink and brag. Clouds of midges round around them occasionally flashing to incendiary doom.’

“Holding down his tension, Proteus turned off the tight, stone roadway and took the steps two at a time, He came up to the cluttered porch panting sheened in a dirty sweat. It stank up here, of piss and breakfast, of life and humanity. Layers of noise drifted up from the tangle below – a crying child, a blazing row, the grunts of married sex.”

TQWhat's next?

Danie:  There is a second book, which I’m about halfway through, but I keep getting distracted. I have more Black Library fiction coming very soon – and there will be even more news towards the end of the year!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Danie:  Thank you for having me!

Children of Artiface
Fox Spirit Books, June 16, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Danie Ware
An ancient city, sealed in a vast crater. A history of metallurgical magic, and of Builders that could craft the living, breathing stone.

Caphen Talmar is the high-born son of an elite family, descended from the Builders themselves, his artistic career ruined when his ex-lover broke his fingers.

One night, gambling down at the wharfside – somewhere he shouldn’t have been in the first place – he meets Aden. An uncomplicated, rough-edged dockworker, Aden is everything Caph needs to forget the pressures of his father’s constant criticism.

But this isn’t just another one-night stand. Aden is trying to find his sister, and he needs Caph’s help. Soon, they find themselves tangled in a deadly game of trust, lies and political rebellion.

And, as Caph begins to understand the real depth of the horrors they’ve uncovered, he learns that Aden is not what he seems. And Aden knows more about the coming destruction than Caph could ever have guessed.

Interview with Danie Ware
[click to embiggen]

About Danie

Interview with Danie Ware

Website  ~  Twitter @Danacea  ~  Facebook


Interview with Danie Ware
Ecko Rising
Ecko 1
Titan Books, April 26, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 528 pages
Trade Paperback and eBook, June 11, 2013

Ecko is an unlikely saviour: a savage gleefully cynical rebel/assassin, he operates out of hi-tech London, making his own rules in a repressed and subdued society. When the biggest job of his life goes horribly wrong, Ecko awakes in a world he doesn’t recognise: a world without tech, weapons, cams, cables – anything that makes sense to him. Can this be his own creation, a virtual Rorschach designed just for him, or is it something much more? Ecko finds himself immersed in a world just as troubled as his own, striving to conquer his deepest fears and save it from extinction.

If Ecko can win through, then he might just learn to care - or break the progam and get home.

Interview with Danie Ware
Ecko Burning
Ecko 2
Titan Books, June 3, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

Ruthless and ambitious, Lord Phylos has control of Fhaveon city, and is using her forces to bring the grasslands under his command. His last opponent is an elderly scribe who’s lost his best friend and wants only to do the right thing.

Seeking weapons, Ecko and his companions follow a trail of myth and rumour to a ruined city where both nightmare and shocking truth lie in wait.

Back in London, the Bard is offered the opportunity to realise everything he has ever wanted – if he will give up his soul.

When all of these things come together, the world will change beyond recognition.

Interview with Danie Ware
Ecko Endgame
Ecko 3
Titan Books, November 10, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

Winter has come to the Varchinde – and with it, the fatal spread of the blight. The grass is dead, and the plains’ cities are falling to the loss of crops and trade.

Now, the Kas take their chance to rise from Rammouthe. Overmatched, betrayed and abandoned by his own forces, Rhan takes the ultimate gamble – he will abandon Fhaveon to lure the Kas into a final confrontation.

But the world’s memory is returning. And, as the battle rages round him, Ecko begins to realise that everything they have done has been for a purpose. If they can fit the pieces together, then they might just win the war.

Yet, even if they do defeat the Kas, the blight is still there. And to save both the Varchinde and himself, Ecko must face the worst fear of all – the one that has come from his own world.

Interview with Danie Ware
[click to embiggen]

Born to the Blade: An Interview with Michael R. Underwood and Marie Brennan

Please welcome Michael R. Underwood and Marie Brennan to The Qwillery to answer some questions about Born to the Blade, a Serial Box series. The first episode, Arrivals, was published on April 18, 2018. The series is written by Marie Brennan, Cassandra Khaw, Malka Older, and Michael R. Underwood.

Born to the Blade: An Interview with Michael R. Underwood and Marie Brennan

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. How did the Born to the Blade serial come about?

Michael R. Underwood (MRU):  Born to the Blade started as a magic system I imagined over ten years ago. I wanted to have magic that felt embodied, that was the opposite of the D&D stereotype of the frail wizards that can’t lift a sword. In this world, magical talent isn’t heritable, but it is common enough that each nation has their own way of considering and utilizing people with the gift. Bladecraft, the magic of this world, uses edged metal for carving sigils to create magical effects. I first explored the world in a very pulpy sky pirate adventure (a trunk novel, never to be seen) that set up some of the political tensions we explored in Born to the Blade (Quloo’s aerstone shortage, Mertikan imperialism, Tsukisen’s isolationism).

When I found out about Serial Box, I got in touch and talked with co-founders Julian Yap and Molly Barton about what they were looking for, and developed several pitches. Born to the Blade, re-working a concept I had for an unfinished novel in the setting, was the one that most excited them, so we developed the world together toward the series order. And here we are, with the fabulous team of Malka Older, Cassandra Khaw, and myself weaving the tale for readers to enjoy.

TQWhat's Born to the Blade about? How many episodes will it be?

MRU:  Born to the Blade is an epic fantasy series of diplomacy, swordplay, and magic, focusing on duelist-diplomats from a variety of nations that work together in an analogue to the UN security council based in the neutral city of Twaa-Fei. It’s a story about people caught between personal loyalties and national loyalties, between friendship and duplicity, between ambition and compassion. Another way that I’ve been pitching it is like Avatar the Last Airbender meets The West Wing, with magic swordfights.

The first season is eleven episodes, and if we get renewed, I’d love to take the series forward with a total of three to five seasons. I have plans for a three-season version and a five-season version, so we’ll see where the winds of fate take us.

TQWhy is this story suited to the serial format?

MRU:  Born to the Blade was specifically built for the Serial Box format, drawing on drama series like Babylon 5 and Game of Thrones that unfold story bit by bit, balancing a cohesive story for each episode with the ongoing serial drama of character arcs and widescreen storytelling about war, diplomacy, and so on.

TQPlease tell us in general how the collaborative process works with each of you writing different episodes? Do each of you try to write in the same style for each episode?

MRU:  We kicked off the development process for season one with a weekend-long writers’ summit, where all four of us on the writers’ team talked about what we wanted the series to be, ideas about the world and characters, and once we had the world, characters, and their relationships more firmly established, we broke the story for season one, with character arcs, twists, mysteries, and so on. We broke the story within the episode structure, so that we already had a pretty clear sense of what major story beats went where in the season.

The actual collaboration process was not unlike a TV show, where each episode was assigned to one member of the writing team. For each episode, we developed a more detailed outline which the team discussed, then wrote the episode and shared with the team, arranged in phases (roughly act one, two, and three of the season). We all gave feedback on each episode, so while any given episode is entirely written by just one team member, every episode represents all of our ideas and creativity. We didn’t push ourselves to all write in identical prose styles, but as the team lead, I did take the lead in setting the tone and approach for the series in writing the pilot episode before any of the other episodes were written, helping us find the voice and approach for the series and characters (though as I said above, all of this represents everyone’s approach rather than just my own).

TQWhat do you like about writing a serial? Is writing episodes in a serial easier or harder than writing a novella?

MRU:  It’s been a great challenge to pack in as much story as possible to 10K word episodes (about 40 pages or an hour of audio). I’m definitely more used to novella and novel-length writing, so I have had to continually push myself to focus, to make every scene do double or triple duty, and to pack as much worldbuilding into other parts of the story as possible in order to keep the wordcount on target.
Working on Born to the Blade has definitely helped me become a stronger writer, and I have also set myself other challenges, like writing fight scenes that are exciting and easy to follow while also being emotionally resonant.

TQWhat is the easiest and hardest thing about writing a serial?

Marie Brennan (MB): It might seem counter-intuitive, but I feel like one of the easiest things was making sure every episode had something cool happening in it. An episode isn't the same thing as a chapter; if you think about a TV show and compare it to a novel, you'll generally see a different structure for how they're broken up. (Depending on the writer. Some novelists structure their books like TV shows.) Both approaches work, but once I got my brain into TV-style gear, it was pretty easy to think of each episode as having some kind of set-piece or ending punch, rather than building toward the ultimate end goal in a more gradual fashion.

The hardest thing was making we kept all the balls in the air. Most novels focus on only one or two protagonists, or if they have more, each one tends to get their own chapter. But because Serial Box's projects are structured more like TV series, we had to make sure the central characters were doing something significant in every episode, and the secondary characters weren't neglected for too long. It creates challenges for pacing both within an episode and across the whole season.

TQDo you have a favorite secondary character?

MB: Several! Our development process meant we spent a chunk of time considering each major secondary character directly, rather than focusing only on the main protagonists and positioning everyone else in relation to them. My answer changes from day to day; I wrote a piece for Mary Robinette Kowal's "My Favorite Bit" feature about Bellona Avitus, the junior warder for Mertika. But while she's one of my favorite bits of the story, I don't actually like her -- she's really not a good person.

So I'll choose Ueda no Takeshi, the Ikaran warder. I can't go into detail as to why without giving spoilers, but he's a "still waters run deep" kind of guy. And I like that he's a nerd: he studies the magical elements of his world, like the birthrights people acquire from being born on a particular island, and gets his strength from knowlege as much as his ability to hit people with a sword. (He's actually not all that great at hitting people with a sword.)

TQHave any of the characters in Born to the Blade been surprising?

MRU:  A lot, especially because I’ve had the fortune of witnessing how Malka, Marie, and Cassandra write the characters and take them in ways I didn’t expect. I think Bellona came to surprise all of us, as we dug in on what made her tick, how she tried to deal with Lavinia (her superior)’s domineering and demanding approach, as well as the ways that we showcased Bellona’s calculating but obvious social maneuvering through the baby shower and other efforts to make a grand gesture or big display.

TQWhat kinds of research have you done for Born to the Blade?

MRU:  A lot of the research that shows up in Born to the Blade was more a result of me and the other team members applying what we already knew, from martial arts (unarmed and swordplay) to the material and intangible culture of a variety of civilizations and peoples from around the world that we drew from to create the numerous nations of the sky. Marie did a bunch of extra work in developing a resource document for hairstyles and clothing notes for the different nations, condensing and clarifying the brainstorming that all four of us had done along the way.

TQAre social issues touched upon in Born to the Blade?

MRU:  The issues we touch on most directly are imperialism and colonialism, with Michiko as a subject of the Mertikan empire. But with Quloo we have a story that resonates with peak oil and/or climate change. Because it is a political and diplomatic series, social issues are never far from the surface, and I am especially happy with the ways that the team was always very conscious of the different levels that character actions and big moves in the story operated on, always boiling down to power – who has it, who uses it, for what purpose, and with what unintended effects.

TQAny hints to what is upcoming for Oda no Michiko and Kris Denn?

MRU:  Michiko, Kris, and Ojo are all in very different places at the end of the season than they were at the series’ start, with new perspectives, drastically different relationships, and new objectives emerging from the action and intrigue of the season. Born to the Blade is the most character-driven story I’ve worked on as a writer, which makes it very exciting, as I came out of the season with a clear sense of what each character wants based on the season’s events, and what they’re willing to do now to achieve those goals.

Just talking about it makes me want to dive back in and start writing season two. But that will have to wait to see how readers react and whether the series has earned enough support to get picked up (again, think TV series). So if you have already been reading and want to see more, make sure to spread the word and encourage friends to subscribe and read, too!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!

Born to the Blade is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Google Play, iBooks, Kobo and Serial Box.

The Episodes:

 1.  Arrivals by Michael R. Underwood
 2.  Fault Lines by Marie Brennan
 3.  Baby Shower by Cassandra Khaw
 4.  The Gauntlet by Michael R. Underwood
 5.  Trade Deal by Malka Older
 6.  Spiraling by Marie Brennan
 7.  Dreadnought by Cassandra Khaw
 8.  Refugees by Malka Older
 9.  Assassination by Malka Older
10. Shattered Blades by Marie Brennan
11. All the Nations of the Skies by Michael R. Underwood

Look for Born to the Blade: The Complete Season One on July 27th:

Born to the Blade: An Interview with Michael R. Underwood and Marie Brennan
For centuries the Warders' Circle on the neutral islands of Twaa-Fei has given the countries of the sky a way to avoid war, settling their disputes through formal, magical duels. But the Circle's ability to maintain peace is fading: the Mertikan Empire is preparing for conquest and the trade nation of Quloo is sinking, stripped of the aerstone that keeps both ships and island a-sky. When upstart Kris Denn tries to win their island a seat in the Warder’s Circle and colonial subject Oda no Michiko discovers that her conquered nation's past is not what she's been told, they upset the balance of power. The storm they bring will bind all the peoples of the sky together…or tear them apart.

The Authors

Marie BrennanWebsiteTwitter
Cassandra KhawFacebookTwitter
Malka OlderWebsiteTwitter
Michael R. UnderwoodWebsiteTwitter

Interview with Callie Bates

Please welcome Callie Bates to The Qwillery. Callie is the author of The Waking Land series - The Waking Land (2017) and The Memory of Fire which was published on June 5th by Del Rey.

Interview with Callie Bates

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Memory of Fire (The Waking Land 2), was published on June 5th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Waking Land (2017) to The Memory of Fire?

Callie:  My writing process remained much the same from The Waking Land to The Memory of Fire—I still handwrote the first draft, then transferred to the computer for revisions and edits. (Having said that, I made significant changes in how I drafted the third book in the series—I learned how to revise much more effectively!)

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Waking Land came out that you know now?

Callie:  I wish I had been able to take the advice to chill out and not worry so much about everything! Perhaps inevitably, everything seems much more fraught and urgent when your first novel comes out—and like most things in life, in hindsight, it wasn’t quite as monumental as it seemed.

TQWhich method or methods do you use to keep track of your characters' traits, eye color, etc. and events in the novels?

Callie:  A lot of those traits are ingrained in my mind at this point (or so I claim), but I have also found Scrivener’s Characters/Places/Research templates quite handy, especially early in the drafting process when it feels like my brain is imploding.

TQHow soon after the events in The Waking Land do the events in The Memory of Fire take place?

Callie:  There’s a gap of about two months from the epilogue in The Waking Land to Chapter 1 in The Memory of Fire. Enough time for political tensions to have escalated!

TQPlease tell us a bit about how the magic system in The Waking Land series works.

Callie:  Magic in this world is highly individualized; there is as much variation in people’s abilities as there is in their personalities. Especially since magic hasn’t been taught or widely practiced in a long time, the characters are still discovering all that is possible with sorcery. At one point in The Memory of Fire, Jahan explains that magic is the fulfillment of the potential in anything—for example, it’s possible to light a candle with his mind because the potential for fire exists in the candle.

TQHow difficult or easy was it for you to change your 1st person point of view character for The Memory of Fire?

Callie:  It actually turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would! I ended up rewriting the book quite thoroughly because I didn’t get Jahan’s voice right on the first go-round. But maybe this is, in part, a typical challenge for a second novel—I think we authors tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves with the next book.

TQWhich character in the The Waking Land series (so far) surprised you the most?

Callie:  I would say, as a pair, Sophy and Alistar have been the most unexpected! While I intended for years to write about Elanna and Jahan, Sophy and Alistar both individually just showed up as I was writing The Waking Land—Sophy demanding in her diffident way to be seen, and Alistar bounding onto the page. And now Sophy’s getting her own book, the third in the trilogy, which I would not have foreseen before writing TWL.

TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Memory of Fire.

Callie:  “I look into her eyes. I need to remember them as long as I can, but I already know how the memories will slip and fade. I know what it’s like to wake up on that stone table, with nothing but the certainty of loss.”

TQWhat's next?

Callie:  I’m finishing up the third book in The Waking Land series, which as I said is about Sophy, who’s trying to figure out how to rule a kingdom, and her heart. I can’t wait to share it with the world!

TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.

Callie:  Thanks for having me!

The Memory of Fire
The Waking Land 2
Del Rey, June 5, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Callie Bates
Callie Bates’s debut novel, The Waking Land, announced the arrival of a brilliant new talent in epic fantasy. Now, with The Memory of Fire, Bates expertly deepens her tale, spinning glittering threads of magic and intrigue into a vibrant tapestry of adventure, betrayal, and romance.

Thanks to the magic of Elanna Valtai and the Paladisan noble Jahan Korakide, he lands once controlled by the empire of Paladis have won their independence. But as Elanna exhausts her powers restoring the ravaged land, news that the emperor is readying an invasion spurs Jahan on a desperate mission to establish peace.

Going back to Paladis proves to be anything but peaceful. As magic is a crime in the empire, punishable by death, Jahan must hide his abilities. Nonetheless, the grand inquisitor’s hunters suspect him of sorcery, and mysterious, urgent messages from the witch who secretly trained Jahan only increase his danger of being exposed. Worst of all, the crown prince has turned his back on Jahan, robbing him of the royal protection he once enjoyed.

As word of Jahan’s return spreads, long-sheathed knives, sharp and deadly, are drawn again. And when Elanna, stripped of her magic, is brought to the capital in chains, Jahan must face down the traumas of his past to defeat the shadowy enemies threatening his true love’s life, and the future of the revolution itself.


The Waking Land
The Waking Land 1
Del Rey, January 2, 2018
Trade Paperback, 432 pages
Hardcover and eBook, June 27, 2017

Interview with Callie Bates
In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

About Callie

Interview with Callie Bates
Photo © Jim Schumaker
Callie Bates is a writer, harpist and certified harp therapist, sometime artist, and nature nerd. When she’s not creating, she’s hitting the trails or streets and exploring new places. She lives in the Upper Midwest. She is also the author of The Waking Land.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @calliebywords

Interview with RR Haywood

Please welcome RR Haywood to The Qwillery. Extinct, the 3rd novel in the Extracted Trilogy, was published on May 17, 2018 by 47North.

Interview with RR Haywood

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

RR:  Hi! Thank you for having me. Cor, blimey – sounds evil doesn’t it? A plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? They’re like the gang names of societal groups in a dystopian future that roam the skeletal remains of the cities and the vast wastelands. The Plotters plot and scheme and work to the plan. They’re organised and ruthless whereas the Pantsers run free and lawless, going where the day takes them, having cray cray shenanigans and wild parties, and there, in the background skirting the fringes, are the quieter yet still playful Hybrids.

I’m so writing that as a book. Copyrighted! Bugger off other writers. Mine mine mine…
Er, so I guess I do all three, and I can take equal amounts of pleasure from writing within each discipline.

You cannot beat those days when you sit down with a plan and hit a mammoth word count. That sense of accomplishment is not to be underestimated.

Likewise, sitting down to a white blank page and simply going at it with action / reaction and flying by the seat of your pants is just gorgeous, but aye, you are more likely to stall and write yourself into a corner that way.

Mostly I write hybrid. With The Undead (UK’s best-selling zombie series – woohoo! Get the plug in) I set the characters the end goal for the day / scene / plot, but how they do that, and what happens on the way is down to them.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

RR:  I adore writing fast-flowing, rapid-fire dialogue with multiple characters each with their own voice, and I would gladly fill a whole book with that, but damn it, readers want pesky annoying things like plots and protagonists and antagonists and other stuff. I guess self-indulgence is the answer and learning that what I love to write the most may not be the things people like to read the most.

TQDescribe Extinct (The Extracted Trilogy 3) in 140 characters or less.

RR“A book with people in it doing time travel!” No, that’s awful. Hang on, let me try again… “Time travel, dinosaurs, big bombs and big bunkers…” argh, that’s even worse. Gosh, this is hard. “Extinct is the third book in the Extracted series and it’s awesome…”

I give up.

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

RR:  (See above with my awful pseudo tweets)

Hmmm, a significant number of scenes are set against the backdrop of the allied destruction of Germany in 1945 during one specific period that saw over 1000 bombers in the skies in one day. It’s brutally realistic.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Extracted Trilogy? What appeals to you about writing SF and especially Time Travel novels?

RR:  There were a number of influencing factors. The Undead had been submitted to publishers and turned down, but with some very strong feedback that they loved my writing and style, but they did not want to invest in the zombie genre. That got me thinking of what to write next. At that time, I had recently read The Chronicles of St Mary by the wonderful Jodi Taylor which planted the time-travel seed in my mind. I had also always wanted to write my Grandfather as a character – he was in the Royal Navy in WW2. Eventually all of those things, plus a million others, all gave birth to Extracted.

My interest in time-travel was more about the impact such a thing would have and how governments would want to weaponise it.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Extracted Trilogy?

RR:  I researched the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic periods to establish when I wanted certain parts of the story set, and within that I delved into the creatures and fauna and flora known to have existed in those times. There is still so much we do not know about our own distant past, and for a writer that is just fantastic because you can have one foot in reality, and the other in pure poetic make-it-all-up-land.

In all honesty, any scene can require research – anything from Public transport systems within a certain city to what you should do with a broken nose.

With regards to time travel – this is where I can be a little bullish in my attitude. Time travel does not exist. It is entirely fictional; therefore, it is down to the writer on how they want to play with it. I had a few people early on telling me that I had to include pre-destiny as the major plotline. Why? Yeah it might be a factor but there are no rules.

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

RR:  Mad Harry Madden was the easiest. A British Commando from WW2. He was modelled on my own Grandfather. I knew what he looked like and I had his essence straight away. Writing Harry in any scene is just pure pleasure.

Miri is the hardest. That character is so layered it’s untrue, and even now, after three books, I’m still finding hidden motivations within her.

TQWhat are your feelings on concluding The Extracted Trilogy?

RR:  It ain’t over yet! 47North wanted a trilogy and that was delivered as planned. I have however, left myself lots of nice breadcrumbs to pick up and I will definitely go back into that world for more when I can.

TQ What's next?

RR:  Ooh exciting! The Undead is ongoing. We’re twenty-two books into the main series now and still going very strong with more planned.

I’m just finishing a new science-fiction story about a robbery on board a fleet of spaceships. It’s great fun and hopefully that will be going out to publishers very soon.

I’ve also written a new time-travel story which centres on an organisation that recruits and sends people back in time to “fix and tweak” things. That will also be pushed out soon I hope.

After that I have a ton of projects I want to do!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

RR:  Thank you so much for having me. It’s been very kind of you to give me this space to yack on and I hope I haven’t bored you all too much.

Take care
RR Haywood

Extracted Trilogy 3
47North, May 17, 2018
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 418 pages

Interview with RR Haywood
The end of the world has been avoided—for now. With Miri and her team of extracted heroes still on the run, Mother, the disgraced former head of the British Secret Service, has other ideas…

While Mother retreats to her bunker to plot her next move, Miri, Ben, Safa and Harry travel far into the future to ensure that they have prevented the apocalypse. But what they find just doesn’t make sense.

London in 2111 is on the brink of annihilation. What’s more, the timelines have been twisted. Folded in on each other. It’s hard to keep track of who is where. Or, more accurately, who is when.

About RR Haywood

RR Haywood is the Amazon #1 and Washington Post best-selling author of the international smash-hit time-travel series - EXTRACTED.

He is also the creator and author of THE UNDEAD. The UK’s best-selling zombie horror series. A self-published phenomenon that has become a cult hit with a readership that defies generations and gender.

He has lots of tattoos and lives in a cave somewhere underground away from the spy satellites and invisible drones sent to watch over us by the BBC. He is a certified, badged and registered hypochondriac and blames the invisible BBC drones for this.

Website  ~  Facebook
Interview with Rio YouersInterview with Aliette de BodardInterview with Peter McLeanInterview with Larry Allen, author of A Forgotten LegacyInterview with Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust TrilogyInterview with V. M. EscaladaInterview with Danie WareBorn to the Blade: An Interview with Michael R. Underwood and Marie BrennanInterview with Callie BatesInterview with RR Haywood

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