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Interview with John Love and Excerpt from Evensong - February 26, 2015


Please welcome John Love to The Qwillery. Evensong, John's most recent novel, was published in January 2015 by Night Shade Books.



Interview with John Love and Excerpt from Evensong - February 26, 2015




TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Evensong, was published on January 6th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Faith (2012) to Evensong?

John:  Thank you for inviting me, it’s nice to be back.

In my last interview, I said that when I’m writing I like to have a glass of malt whisky, and a cat, within easy reach. That bit hasn’t changed.

The style of writing is a bit different from Faith, my first novel. Evensong’s style is a bit plainer and sparser, and more suited to that of a thriller. There are one or two purple patches, but overall it’s less flamboyant than Faith; deliberately so.



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

John:  The challenge is to get readers to give positive answers to these three questions:
  1. Did you want to turn the page and find out what happens next?
  2. Did you care about the characters? (Not Did you like them? Characters don’t have to be nice to be believable and complex and make you want to know what happens to them.)
  3. Did you think the book tried to be original and different? If you didn’t, what other book or books did you think it most resembled?
For me, the first question is the most important. I’m always asking, Is this page enough to make a reader want to turn to the next page?



TQ:  What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Faith came out that you know now?

John:  Publicity. I always felt Faith got less than it deserved, partly because of my own inexperience at pushing the publishers and partly because of the internal problems in Nightshade at the time.



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

John:  Some of the reviews and reader responses have described Evensong’s universe as being dark and twisted, which I wouldn’t deny. But it’s not entirely dark and twisted. Some interesting technologies have started to answer (not completely, but partially) the questions of long-term clean energy supply. And fundamentalism, both religious and political, has been marginalised – again, not completely, but partially. The book’s universe is ambiguous and menacing, but there are also the elements of a kind of Enlightenment springing up here and there. I was tempted to go down that road a bit more, but I decided it would be outside the scope of the book.



TQ:  Which character in the Evensong surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

John:  Laurens Rafiq, the Controller-General of the UN, was the most surprising. He’s the spider at the centre of all the world’s webs (I wish I’d thought of that phrase when I was writing the book!) so I thought he’d just be pure unalloyed cynicism coupled with labyrinthine cunning. But I realised that although he had to have those qualities he also needed to have something good buried in there as well, otherwise he wouldn’t have worked.

Gaetano was the hardest, because he’s a character like Anwar, and he resents him but has to work with him. I had to be careful to get the balance right.

You didn’t ask me which character was my favourite, but I’d like to tell you anyway: the Ginger Cat.



TQ:  Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Evensong.

John:  This is where Anwar and Olivia, the two main characters, meet for the first time.

         ‘When he first saw her she was at the top of a stepladder, scooping a dead fish out of a floor-to-ceiling ornamental tank at the far end of the Boardroom. She had her back to him. Her bottom was wobbling interestingly under a long voluminous velvet skirt.
         “Sorry”, she said without turning round, “I’ll be right with you. I just noticed one of these angelfish had died.”
         “Do they die very often?”
         “No, only once.” ’



TQ:  Both Faith and Evensong are SF with the former being Space Opera/Military SF and Evensong being called a near future thriller (by your publisher). Other than being SF and having titles that have religious connotations, what do the two novels have in common? Do they address similar themes? Should SF address big themes?

John:  There is something I once wrote in a post for the “Night Bazaar” website run by Nightshade, when Faith was first published:

“If Faith has any political resonances, they’re at best oblique. But I hope it has some other resonances. About identity and free will: what makes us what we are, and what makes us what we do. About love and friendship: what forces bring us together, or keep us apart, and why we don’t recognise them. And about the absence of simple good and evil: the complexities which make each of them part of each other.”

Evensong is a near-future political thriller, so it does have some clear political resonances where Faith doesn’t; but the rest of that paragraph could apply to Evensong as much as to Faith.

So, to answer your last question, yes, absolutely. Big themes are as much fair game for SF as for any other genre.


TQ:  Which question about Evensong do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

John:  That’s a nice question. I think I’d like someone to ask how I came to think of Evensong. It was quite an unusual process, and I love regaling (or boring) people with it. Now it’s your turn.

My wife and I went to an Evensong service in Rochester Cathedral in Kent. It was a beautiful summer evening and afterwards everybody went out into the Cathedral precincts where some tables had been set out for coffee. Halfway through my coffee I had this idea of a similar setting, where an unidentified woman comes to the Evensong service but doesn’t stop for coffee afterwards. She hurries away. She’s been to several previous Evensongs and has always hurried away afterwards. Who she is, and why she comes there, is her back story which begins nearly a year earlier.

What is so unusual is that I’d got the whole of her back story, and the whole construction of the book, in less time than it took to swallow a mouthful of coffee. There was no blinding flash or feeling of revelation, but the whole book had sprung out fully formed – main plot, sub-plots, main characters, minor characters, settings, everything. I could see it in three dimensions, could (metaphorically) walk round it and study it from every angle, and it worked. It all hung together.

When I came to write it there was almost nothing, major or minor, which was changed.



TQ:  What's next?

John:  I’m writing a fantasy novel. It doesn’t have any orcs, elves, dragons, sorcerers or dark malign gods, only people. But “fantasy” is probably the most convenient shorthand description because it’s set in a completely imaginary world at the same approximate level of development as ancient Greece or Rome. It even has a map.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

John:  Thank you for asking me back, and thank you for your interest in my book.





Evensong
Night Shade Books, January 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with John Love and Excerpt from Evensong - February 26, 2015
A near-future thriller where those who protect humanity are not always completely human.

The future is a dangerous place. Keeping the world stable and peaceful when competing corporate interests and nation-states battle for power, wealth, and prestige has only gotten harder over the years. But that’s the United Nations’ job. So the UN has changed along with the rest of the world. When the UN’s “soft” diplomacy fails, it has harder options. Quiet, scalpel-like options: The Dead—biologically enhanced secret operatives created by the UN to solve the problems no one else can.

Anwar Abbas is one of The Dead. When the Controller-General of the UN asks him to perform a simple bodyguard mission, he’s insulted and resentful: mere bodyguard work is a waste of his unique abilities. But he takes the job, because to refuse it would be unthinkable.

Anwar is asked to protect Olivia del Sarto, the host of an important upcoming UN conference. Olivia is head of the world’s fastest-growing church, but in her rise to power she has made enemies:  shadowy enemies with apparently limitless resources.

Anwar is one of the deadliest people on earth, but her enemies have something which kills people like him. And they’ve sent it for her. It’s out there, unstoppable and untraceable, getting closer as the conference approaches.

As he and Olivia ignite a torrid affair, Anwar must uncover the conspiracy that threatens to destroy her, the UN, and even The Dead.





About John

Interview with John Love and Excerpt from Evensong - February 26, 2015
Photo by Gemma Shaw
John Love spent most of his working life in the music industry. He was Managing Director of PPL, the world’s largest record industry copyright organization. He also ran Ocean, a large music venue in Hackney, East London.

He lives just outside London in north-west Kent with his wife and cats (currently two, but they have had as many as six). They have two grown-up children.

Apart from his family, London and cats, his favorite things include books and book collecting, cars and driving, football and Tottenham Hotspur, old movies and music. Science fiction books were among the first he can remember reading, and he thinks they will probably be among the last.


Website







Excerpt

Chapter One

         Anwar sat in a formal garden in northern Malaysia on a pleasant September afternoon, reading. The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on…He liked FitzGerald’s translation of Omar Khayyam, but felt it took liberties with the text; he preferred the original, in the cadences of twelfth-century Persian.
         It was 4:00 p.m.: time. He closed the book and retreated back under the roof of his verandah, just as the afternoon rain began with its usual promptness and intensity. While he watched it he performed one of his standard exercises: using the fingers of his right hand to break, one by one, the fingers of his left hand. The core of the exercise was not to blank out the pain—though his abilities were such that he could have done that, too—but to feel the pain and still not react to it, either by noise or by movement, as each finger was bent back beyond the vertical and snapped. It was a familiar exercise and he finished it satisfactorily.
         The rain stopped, as promptly and suddenly as it had begun. He leaned back, breathing in the scent of wet leaves and grass. A brief gust of wind shook rain from the trees, so that it sounded, for a few seconds, like another downpour beginning. He cupped his right hand round his left, easing his fingers back to their normal position, and waited for the bones to set and regenerate; it would take about an hour.

         It was not unheard-of for a VSTOL from the UN to land on the formal lawn at the centre of his garden, but it was not something which happened often. This was one of their latest, silent and silvered and almost alien. A door melted open in its side and a dark-haired young woman got out and walked across the lawn towards Anwar. She was Arden Bierce, one of Rafiq’s personal staff, and they smiled a greeting at each other.
         “Rafiq wants you.” She handed him a letter. He studied Rafiq’s neat italic handwriting, not unlike his own, and the courteously phrased request and personal signature. When Rafiq made this kind of request, he did so by pen and ink and personal meeting. Never remotely, and never electronically.
         “I should go now.” He was telling her, not asking her. She nodded and turned back to the waiting VSTOL. Anwar Abbas stood up, stretched, and walked after her. He was as powerful as a tiger, as quiet as the flame of a candle.
         Offer and Acceptance. The VSTOL would take him south to the UN complex outside Kuala Lumpur, where Laurens Rafiq, the Controller-General, would formally offer him a mission and request his acceptance. Anwar Abbas had received such requests before from Rafiq, but this one would be different. It would lead him to two people, one of them his beginning and the other his end.

Chapter Two

         Anwar liked the VSTOL, almost to the point of kinship; it was quiet, did exactly what it was supposed to do, and did it supremely well. It was even superior to America’s Area 51 planes, and their Chinese and European equivalents.
         There was a growing concern in some quarters that the UN was developing better hardware than its members. Another example, Anwar reflected, of the Rafiq Effect.
         The northern highlands of Malaysia hurtled past underneath. They were heavily wooded, and seemed to be smoking without flames; vapour from the last downpour, hanging above treetop level. He clenched and unclenched his left hand.
         “Is it healed?” Arden Bierce asked him.
         He smiled. “The Moving Finger breaks, and having broke, resets itself.”
         “Don’t you mean ‘broken’?”
         “Wouldn’t scan.”
         He liked her; she had this ability to make people feel comfortable around her. She was very attractive, but seemed genuinely unaware of it. Most people born with looks like that would be shaped by them; would probably be cynical or manipulative. She was neither. Perceptive and clever in her dealings with people, but also pleasant and companionable.
         Anwar had never done any more than flirt mildly with her. He was awkward socially, the result of having a normal circle of acquaintances but few close friends. Only about thirty people in the world knew what he was.
         He leaned back and watched the shapes and colours moving just under the silvered surfaces of the walls and furniture of the VSTOL’s lounge. It would be a short flight. The UN complex outside Kuala Lumpur would soon appear.
         The UN had adapted to the increasing complexity and volatility of the world order. It had a Secretary-General (political) and a Controller-General (executive). As it gradually took on more executive functions, the Controller-General became more important, at the expense of the Secretary-General. The Controller-General was Laurens Rafiq.
         The old UN in New York still remained, but Rafiq’s UNEX (UN Executive) in Kuala Lumpur was overtaking it—restructuring the major agencies like UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIDO, and transforming them. Policy was still in the hands of the old UN, but it was becoming apparent that policy was meaningless without executive rigour. The medium was overtaking the message.
         Rafiq had acquired many assets at UNEX. Not only the agencies, but also some independent military capacity—not enough to make the UN more powerful than any of its individual members, but enough to settle some of the increasing conflicts over resources, energy, borders, and trade. Often Rafiq’s UNEX would take pre-emptive action which later the political UN had to ratify—had to, because the action worked.
         One of the smaller and more mysterious components of Rafiq’s UNEX was something he called The Consultancy, known colloquially (and inaccurately) as The Dead. Its members did things for him which mere Special Forces could never do. Outside UNEX, nobody knew exactly how many Consultants Rafiq had, but it was only a handful. This was because only a handful could survive the induction process, and because only a handful was all that even Rafiq could afford. Their training, and the physical and neurological enhancements which made them unique, were uniquely expensive.
         Anwar Abbas was a Consultant: one of The Dead.

         Dusk fell quickly and was short-lived, turning abruptly to darkness in the few minutes’ duration of the flight. Anwar got only a glimpse of the lights of the UN complex before the silvered plane dropped vertically and landed—or, rather, hovered politely one inch above the ground while they stepped out through the door that had rippled open for them. What enabled it to hover was something to do with room-temperature semiconductors, the Holy Grail of frictionless motion: not fully achieved yet, but getting closer.
         The plane slid noiselessly up into the night. For the second time, Anwar found himself following Arden Bierce across a lawn. This lawn was part of the park which formed the centre of the UN complex.
         Ringing the park were some tall buildings, each a different shape and colour: ziggurats, pyramids, cones, ovoids. Each stood in its own smaller piece of manicured parkland, and was festooned with greenery hanging from walls and windows and balconies. The overall effect was pleasing, without the pomp of the old UN buildings in New York and Geneva; more like the commercial district of any reasonably prosperous city. Kuala Lumpur, a few miles south, was similar but larger-scale.
         The central parkland had lawns and woods, landscaped low hills and a river, over which was cantilevered the Controller-General’s house, Fallingwater. It was based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s design, scaled up, but still house-sized. The security around this building, of all the buildings in the complex, appeared to be nonexistent, the way Rafiq had personally designed it to appear. They simply walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. The door opened into a large reception area.
         “I’ll go and tell him you’re here,” said Arden Bierce as she went through an adjoining door, usually known as the door because it led to Rafiq’s inner office.
         Anwar looked around him. He knew Fallingwater well, and found it calming. The interior of the house was larger than Wright’s original, but furnished and decorated in the same style: comfortable and understated, a mix of regular and organic shapes, of autumn browns and ochres and earth tones. Large areas of the floor were open expanses of polished wood, with seating areas formed by clusters of plain stonewhite sofas and armchairs. Several people were there, talking quietly. They were all members of Rafiq’s personal staff, like Arden Bierce, but only a few of them looked up as he entered. The rest paid him no attention.
         Except for Miles Levin. He and Anwar had known each other for years, and they exchanged their usual greeting.
         “Muslim filth.”
         “Jewish scum.”
         Their Muslim and Jewish origins, if any, were no longer important. They had taken their present names, along with their present identities, when they became Consultants. Which they had done at the same time, seven years ago.
         Levin was six feet five, nearly three inches taller than Anwar, and more powerfully built. He looked generally younger and stronger, and was—for a Consultant—louder and more outgoing. Anwar was thin-faced, with a hook nose. Levin’s face was broader and more open. Both were dark-haired and wore their hair long.
         “Waiting to see him?” Anwar asked.
         “I’ve seen him. Offer and Acceptance. I was just leaving.”
         Normally they’d have had a lot to talk about, but not this time. They couldn’t discuss missions, that simply wasn’t done; and also, Anwar noted a strangeness in Levin’s manner, a kind of preoccupation. So he just nodded briefly at him, and Levin turned to go.
         “Take care,” something prompted Anwar to whisper.
         Levin heard. “You too.” He did not look back.
         “Scum.”
         “Filth.” The door closed softly behind him.
         Another door—the door—opened. Arden Bierce came out.
         “He’ll see you now.”

Excerpted with permission from Evensong by John Love. Copyright 2015, Night Shade Books an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6


This is the sixth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their upcoming books 2015. This update covers some of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge authors. What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 7 will cover additional 2012 DAC authors.

See Part 1 here.
See Part 1.5 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.


What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6



Suzanne Johnson

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6
Pirate's Alley
Sentinels of New Orleans 4
Tor Books, April 21, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

After vanquishing undead serial killers and discovering the dark secrets of her family history, wizard sentinel DJ Jaco must now stop the coming preternatural war in Suzanne Johnson's Pirate's Alley.
Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear. Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal.

Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back. And that’s before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest "death," returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ’s assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won’t be that easy.





Ted Kosmatka

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6
The Flicker Men
Henry Holt and Co., July 21, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

A scientist shocks the world with proof of the human soul—the discovery ignites a struggle between physics and theology, free will and fate, and reveals more than we were ever meant to know

A novel worthy of comparison to works by Michael Crichton and William Gibson, Ted Kosmatka returns with his best and boldest thriller yet. Eric Argus has one last chance. His earlier scientific work—groundbreaking and infamous—jeopardized his reputation and threatened his sanity. But an old university friend hires him at Hansen Research, a Boston laboratory that provides researchers a probationary period of free reign. Argus has a final opportunity to regain his standing and renew his faith in science.

He replicates Feynman's double-slit experiment that famously demonstrated the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. Building upon that work, Argus discovers a staggering and elemental difference between humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom. He proves the existence of the human soul.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the unraveling truth will lead. Soon reports surface of "soulless" individuals, humans seemingly devoid of spiritual substance, known as "the Fated." Who are they? Why are they here? And what happens now that they are known? As Argus seeks answers, a powerful syndicate seeks him, and the race for the truth turns deadly—but for how many?





John Love

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6
Evensong
Night Shade Books, January 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

A near-future thriller where those who protect humanity are not always completely human.

The future is a dangerous place. Keeping the world stable and peaceful when competing corporate interests and nation-states battle for power, wealth, and prestige has only gotten harder over the years. But that’s the United Nations’ job. So the UN has changed along with the rest of the world. When the UN’s “soft” diplomacy fails, it has harder options. Quiet, scalpel-like options: The Dead—biologically enhanced secret operatives created by the UN to solve the problems no one else can.

Anwar Abbas is one of The Dead. When the Controller-General of the UN asks him to perform a simple bodyguard mission, he’s insulted and resentful: mere bodyguard work is a waste of his unique abilities. But he takes the job, because to refuse it would be unthinkable.

Anwar is asked to protect Olivia del Sarto, the host of an important upcoming UN conference. Olivia is head of the world’s fastest-growing church, but in her rise to power she has made enemies:  shadowy enemies with apparently limitless resources.

Anwar is one of the deadliest people on earth, but her enemies have something which kills people like him. And they’ve sent it for her. It’s out there, unstoppable and untraceable, getting closer as the conference approaches.

As he and Olivia ignite a torrid affair, Anwar must uncover the conspiracy that threatens to destroy her, the UN, and even The Dead.





Douglas Nicholas

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6
Throne of Darkness
Something Red 3
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, this novel from acclaimed author Douglas Nicholas continues the gripping dark fantasy series that Kirkus Reviews describes as “a more profound Harry Potter for adults.”

It’s 1215 in northwest England—the eve of the signing of the Magna Carta—and mystical Irish queen Maeve and her unlikely band of warriors must protect the region from a chilling fate. Word of a threat reaches the Northern barons: King John has plotted to import an African sorcerer and his sinister clan of blacksmiths, whose unearthly powers may spell destruction for the entire kingdom. Along with her lover, Jack, her gifted niece, Nemain, and Nemain’s newlywed husband, Hob (whose hidden talents will soon be revealed), Maeve must overcome a supernatural threat unlike any she’s seen before.

With his characteristic blend of historical adventure and intoxicating mythological elements, Nicholas once again “goes for the throat…with brilliant writing and whip-smart plotting” (New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry). This is a richly woven tale that will leave you hungry for more.





Daniel O'Malley

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6
Stiletto
The Rook / The Checquy Files 2
Little, Brown and Company, June 30, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic -- and slimy -- supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers---and the bureaucratic finesse---to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy---the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and...

The Grafters---a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

Stiletto is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks, from an author who "adroitly straddles the thin line between fantasy, thriller, and spoof " (Booklist).





Melissa F. Olson

Boundary Crossed
An Old World Novel 1
47North, May 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook

[cover not yet available]
After her twin sister’s brutal death, former US Army Sergeant Allison “Lex” Luther vowed to protect her niece, Charlie, from every possible danger. Then when two vampires attempted to kidnap the child, it quickly turned into a fight to the death—Lex’s death, that is.

Lex wakes up to two shocking discoveries: she has somehow survived the fight; and baby Charlie is a “null,” gifted with the ability to weaken supernatural forces…and a target for evil creatures who want to control that power. Determined to guarantee a safe future for Charlie, Lex makes a deal with the local coven. She sets out with the dashing—and undead—Detective Quinn to track down who’s responsible for the kidnapping, sharpening her magic skills along the way. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her powers become, threatening to destroy everything—including herself.

Boundary Crossed is a dark, thrilling glimpse into a magical world that will leave readers spellbound.




While you are waiting for Boundary Crossed, you can read a novella set in the Old World:

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6
Bloodsick
An Old World Novella
Westmarch Publishing, December 26, 2014
eBook, 144 pages

All her life, Sashi’s mother warned her not to get involved with werewolf problems. But Sashi, a witch who uses magic to heal sick and injured bodies, has never made a habit of ignoring trauma. When she meets an abused shapeshifter that no one else seems willing to help, Sashi will risk everything –including a budding romance with a human, Will – to save a woman who can’t save herself.









Interview with John Love - January 26, 2012

Please welcome John Love to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Faith, John's debut, was published this month by Night Shade Books.


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

John  Rather grandly, I used to tell people that I preferred writing key passages with pen on paper first: the texture of the paper, the feel of the nib, and so on. Like a real auteur. Pretty soon into writing FAITH, all that got thrown out. Word lets me put key phrases at odd positions, then fill in the gaps, until the whole moves into focus. More impressionist than linear.

And I like some malt whisky, and a cat, within easy reach.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

John  Hitchhiker’s Guide is one of my SF favourites, in all its early forms: the original BBC Radio 4 programme, the equally original BBC TV adaptation, and Douglas Adams’ unequalled “Trilogy of Five Novels.” But not the Hollywood movie. I didn’t like that at all.

Some other SF favourites are:
Alfred Bester: his novels and stories from the fifties.
Ursula LeGuin: almost anything of hers.
Jack Vance: the Demon Princes novels especially (most of his others too, but sometimes he goes on autopilot).
Iain M Banks: almost anything of his.
China Mieville: Perdido Street Station especially, but most of his other stuff.
Brian Aldiss: Hothouse and the Helliconia trilogy especially, but most of his other stuff.
William Gibson: especially Neuromancer, also The Difference Engine and the Bridge trilogy.
Fritz Leiber: most of his stuff.
Frederik Pohl: The Heechee trilogy, and (with Cyril Kornbluth) The Space Merchants.
R A Lafferty: especially Past Master.
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: almost anything of theirs.
Stanislav Lem: known mainly for Solaris, but his output covered a huge range. For example, Imaginary Magnitude and A Perfect Vacuum (reviews of, and forewords to, nonexistent future books); the Pirx the Pilot and Ijon Tichy stories (surreal but perfectly logical political satires); Cyberiad and Futurological Congress (more satires, almost Swiftian); and The Invincible (page-turning hard SF).

Non-SF favourites include:
Giant nineteenth-century novels, especially from England, Russia and France. Great literary works, and great page-turners. Crime and Punishment, for example, works equally well as serious literature about Life, The Universe And Everything, and as a whodunnit. Except that the person who dunnit is known at the outset and has a cat-and-mouse game with the equally clever examining magistrate, wanting both escape and capture.
Jane Austen: How did she do it? No sex or violence, mostly just people having tea, but totally unputdownable.
Metaphysical poets: neutron-star language: ultimate concentration of meaning.
World War 1 poets, especially Wilfred Owen.
James Joyce, especially Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses.
Doctor Johnson, or more precisely Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson. Johnson was a great bear of a man, a pompous High Tory and High Church figure with opinions on everything – always original and sometimes unexpected, like his opposition to slavery. And he liked cats.
Herman Melville: Moby Dick of course, but also Billy Budd and Bartleby The Scrivener.
Richmal Crompton’s William books: children’s books mostly set in the nineteen-thirties and forties. Great children’s books, because Richmal Crompton used unashamedly literary words whose meaning you could figure out by their context. A good way to learn and remember words. Her style was dry and ironic, with absolutely no talking down.
Shakespeare, for all the obvious reasons, and also some of his contemporaries: Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe.
Chaucer, for his characterisation.
Cormac McCarthy: everything of his that I’ve read so far.
Elizabeth Bowen: her stories exist on the tipping-point between the everyday and the mysterious. Her famous story The Demon Lover is only six pages long, but hints at immensities.
Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman (like Gormenghast, it defies genres).
Any books which manage to be both literary works and page-turners: too many for an exhaustive list, but titles like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, William Boyd’s Brazzaville Beach, Thomas Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. The book I’m currently reading is that kind of book: The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’m alternating it with The Windup Girl. I like alternating reads: each one seems to gain by the contrast.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

John  Boring answer, but a bit of both. I only have experience of one-and-a-bit novels so far - FAITH, and the one I’m currently writing – but it’s been the same both times. The overall idea comes almost fully-formed and is not altered, but details of plotting, characters, back-stories and so on, can alter radically as I’m writing.

A bit like building a three-dimensional engineering construction: while writing I might have an idea for a back-story or a character-trait which strengthens the construction like a strut, passing through it three-dimensionally and reinforcing every bit it touches.

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

John  I’m always asking, Is this page enough to make a reader want to turn to the next page?

TQ:  Describe Faith in 140 characters or less.

John  Motiveless, invincible alien ship. Almost-alien human opponent. Moby Dick meets Kafka meets Duel. Irresistible force meets irresistible force.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Faith?

John  Moby Dick, with the meeting of two titanic opponents. The movie Duel, because one opponent is unknown and unknowable. Kafka, for the sense of looming menace and the idea of struggling against a world where normal laws are inverted, where water flows uphill.

And I wanted to try writing a novel with a mix of “literary” and action content. But with no simple good and evil: where one bleeds into the other.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Faith?

John  I’ve always liked reading authors like Stephen Hawking to get an idea of how physics might develop new views of the universe - the clockwork of Newton, the apparent chaos of Einstein, the apparent illogic of quantum mechanics – and playing with ideas of what might come next.

Similarly, I’ve always read up on Boys’ Toys like spaceships and cars, and played with ideas of where they might go next.

So I had a headstart for a lot of the research into those areas, but while writing the book I also did some reading on psychological conditions. I didn’t do that before, because it was only as the characters developed and started striking sparks off each other that I realised there was a need for it. None of the characters are exactly nice or conventional.

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

John  An uncomfortably good question. Foord was the easiest, possibly Thahl the hardest.
Foord because he was central to the book and so I’d had him in mind for longer. Thahl because he is genuinely nonhuman but had to have some features which would enable him to relate to the humans around him. Also there was a need to balance his capacity for violence with his gentle sense of irony, and to balance his (partial) ability to sense human feelings with his inability to understand human sexual dynamics.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Faith?

John  The opening scene, and the courtroom scene, for similar reasons: to balance an info dump with action sequences (opening scene) and to balance another info dump with characters and politics (courtroom scene). Also, the courtroom scene reminded me (in the assembling of arguments, and the cut and thrust of cross-examination) of things I used to do in the music industry – fighting legal cases in an abstruse area (copyright) which still had huge financial and precedental risks.

And the last scenes: the challenge to balance increasing strangeness with the need to keep the reader turning the page.

TQ:  What's next?

John  I love this genre. I’m currently writing a second novel, and again I turned automatically to SF as the best medium for saying what I want. It will be a kind of political thriller, but with strange edges. I set it in the future (about fifty years from now) so I can play with ideas about how politics, economics, technology, culture and religion could develop by then.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

John  Thank you, Sally. And thank you for your interest in my book.


About Faith

Faith
Night Shade Books, January 2012
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Ebook

Interview with John Love - January 26, 2012
Moby Dick meets Duel in John Love's debut novel of Space Opera and Military Science Fiction! Faith is the name humanity has given to the unknown, seemingly invincible alien ship that has begun to harass the newly emergent Commonwealth. 300 years earlier, the same ship destroyed the Sakhran Empire, allowing the Commonwealth to expand its sphere of influence. But now Faith has returned! The ship is as devastating as before, and its attacks leave some Commonwealth solar systems in chaos. Eventually it reaches Sakhra, now an important Commonwealth possession, and it seems like history is about to repeat itself. But this time, something is waiting: an Outsider, one of the Commonwealth's ultimate warships. Slender silver ships, full of functionality and crewed by people of unusual abilities, often sociopaths or psychopaths, Outsiders were conceived in back alleys, built and launched in secret, and commissioned without ceremony. One system away from earth, the Outsider ship Charles Manson makes a stand. Commander Foord waits with his crew of miscreants and sociopath, hoping to accomplish what no other human has been able to do -- to destroy Faith!


About John

Interview with John Love - January 26, 2012
Photo by Gemma Shaw
John Love spent most of his working life in the music industry. He was Managing Director of PPL, the world’s largest record industry copyright organisation. He also ran Ocean, a large music venue in Hackney, East London.

He lives just outside London in north-west Kent with his wife Sandra and cats (currently two, but there have been as many as six). Sandra and John have two grown-up children.

Apart from his family, London and cats, his favourite things include books and book collecting, cars and driving, football and Tottenham Hotspur, old movies and music. Science fiction books were among the first he can remember reading, and he thinks they will probably be among the last.


John's Link :  Website

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts



Here is the first list for 2012. I'm very excited about starting the Challenge again!

The January debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author. Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.

I'm also including the December 27, 2011 Debuts because of how late they were released in 2011. They are listed below the January Debuts.

Happy Reading!


City of the Lost
Author:  Stephen Blackmoore
Series:  Joe Sunday
Format:  Trade Paperback, 224 pages
Publisher:  DAW (January 3, 2012)
Price:  $15.00
Language:  English
Genre:   Urban Fantasy Noir
ISBN:  9780756407025

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
Joe Sunday has been a Los Angeles low-life for years, but his life gets a whole lot lower when he is killed by the rival of his crime boss-only to return as a zombie. His only hope is to find and steal a talisman that he learns can grant immortality. But, unfortunately for Joe, every other undead thug and crime boss in Los Angeles is looking for the same thing.
You can read Stephen's guest blog - Our Lady of the Shadows - here.



Nameless
Author:  Kyle Chais
Format:  Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher:  Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing (January 10, 2012)
Price:  $15.00
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  9781439187258

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
In the in between are the Nameless; names are for masters and they have none. They live in the Nameless realm; between being saved and being destroyed. They are Fallen.

One Nameless spends his time watching humans in New York City and, in his endless eternity of boredom, becomes intrigued by a drunk named Aurick Pantera. One day Aurick, a reckless gambler, is about to be killed by a gang over his debts. Nameless feels sorry for him, and possesses his body to save his life. He then decides that he rather likes being in a human body; the chance to taste, smells, and touch. He uses Aurick’s body to fulfill all of his wildest dreams – become a rock star, have a successful psychiatric practice, and pursue star journalist Helena Way.

Until, three years after possessing Aurick, the other Fallen take notice of these random achievements and begin appearing to Aurick. They are tired of waiting in Nameless and are ready to start a war—their only chance to cease this painful eternity of waiting and either be saved or be released. Aurick is stuck in the middle. Join the ranks and finally be released to Null for atrocities against mankind, or can his love for Helena, his budding friendships, and his growing concern for all humans grant him salvation?


Control Point
Author:  Myke Cole
Series:  Shadow Ops
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Publisher:  Ace (January 31, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Military Science Fiction
ISBN:  9781937007249

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
Lieutenant Oscar Britton of the Supernatural Operations Corps has been trained to hunt down and take out people possessing magical powers. But when he starts manifesting powers of his own, the SOC revokes Oscar's government agent status to declare him public enemy number one.
You can read Myke's guest blog - Why are we so Interested in Military Speculative Fiction? - here.



Seven Princes
Author:  John R. Fultz
Series:  Books of the Shaper
Format:  Trade Paperback, 544 pages
Publisher:  Orbit (January 3, 2012)
Price:  $15.99
Language:  English
Genre: Epic Fantasy
ISBN:  9780316187862

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
It is an Age of Legends.

Under the watchful eye of the Giants, the kingdoms of Men rose to power. Now, the Giant-King has slain the last of the Serpents and ushered in an era of untold peace and prosperity. Where a fire-blackened desert once stood, golden cities flourish in verdant fields.

It is an Age of Heroes.

But the realms of Man face a new threat-- an ancient sorcerer slaughters the rightful King of Yaskatha before the unbelieving eyes of his son, young Prince D'zan. With the Giant-King lost to a mysterious doom, it seems that no one has the power to stop the coming storm.

It is an Age of War.

The fugitive Prince seeks allies across the realms of Men and Giants to liberate his father's stolen kingdom. Six foreign Princes are tied to his fate. Only one thing is certain: War is coming.

SEVEN PRINCES.

Some will seek glory.

Some will seek vengeance.

All will be legends.


Taft 2012
Author: Jason Heller
Format  Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher:  Quirk (January 17, 2012)
Price:  $14.95
Language:  English
Genre: Fantasy/Time Travel/Alternate History/Satire
ISBN: 978-1-59474-550-8

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
He is the perfect presidential candidate. Conservatives love his hard-hitting Republican résumé. Liberals love his passion for peaceful diplomacy. The media can’t get enough of his larger-than-life personality. Regular folks can identify with his larger-than-life physique. And all the American people love that he’s an honest, hard-working man who tells it like it is.

There’s just one problem: He is William Howard Taft... and he was already U.S. president a hundred years ago. So what on earth is he doing alive and well and considering a running mate in 2012?

Jason Heller’s extraordinary debut novel presents the Vonnegut-esque satire of a presidential Rip Van Winkle amid 21st-century media madness. It’s the ultimate what-if scenario for the 2012 election season!
You can read Jason's guest blog - The fine (okay, accidental) art of genre-busting - here.



Faith
Author: John Love
Format  Trade Paperback, 376 pages
Publisher:  Night Shade Books (January 3, 2012)
Price:  $14.99
Language:  English
Genre: Space Opera/Military Science Fiction
ISBN:  9781597803908

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
Moby Dick meets Duel in John Love's debut novel of Space Opera and Military Science Fiction! Faith is the name humanity has given to the unknown, seemingly invincible alien ship that has begun to harass the newly emergent Commonwealth. 300 years earlier, the same ship destroyed the Sakhran Empire, allowing the Commonwealth to expand its sphere of influence. But now Faith has returned! The ship is as devastating as before, and its attacks leave some Commonwealth solar systems in chaos. Eventually it reaches Sakhra, now an important Commonwealth possession, and it seems like history is about to repeat itself. But this time, something is waiting: an Outsider, one of the Commonwealth's ultimate warships. Slender silver ships, full of functionality and crewed by people of unusual abilities, often sociopaths or psychopaths, Outsiders were conceived in back alleys, built and launched in secret, and commissioned without ceremony. One system away from earth, the Outsider ship Charles Manson makes a stand. Commander Foord waits with his crew of miscreants and sociopath, hoping to accomplish what no other human has been able to do - to destroy Faith!


To Walk the Night
Author:  E.S. Moore
Series:  Kat Redding
Format  Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher:  Kensington (January 3, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0-7582-6872-3

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
Even a vampire has to face her inner demons…

Kat Redding is the very thing she hunts: a vampire, thirsting for blood, capable of killing any creature unlucky enough to get in her path. The difference is, Kat kills her own kind in order to protect human Purebloods. She’s good at what she does. Good enough to earn the nickname Lady Death—and the enmity of every bloodthirsty being around. But now a vampire Count is intent on merging his House with a werewolf cult to create a force of terrifying power.

Kat can’t allow that to happen. Even if it means taking on a den of weres and a vampire more ruthless than any she’s encountered before. She has the weapons, the skill, and a few allies. But that may not be enough to eliminate the Count before her own dark nature rises to the surface—and costs her whatever is left of her humanity…
You can read E.S. Moore's guest blog - Judging Covers - here.



The Rook
Author:  Daniel O'Malley
Format  Hardcover, 496 pages
Publisher:  Little, Brown  and Company (January 11. 2012)
Price:  $25.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy/Thriller
ISBN:  9780316098793

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
"The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, THE ROOK is a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.


Giant Thief
Author: David Tallerman
Series: Tales of Easie Damasco
Format  Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books (January 31, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Epic Fantasy
ISBN:  9780857662118

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.

Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.

Big time.

File Under: Fantasy [ Big Trouble | Deception | Saltlick's City | Hang 'im High ]


December 27, 2011

Archon
Author:  Sabrina Benulis
Series:  The Books of Raziel
Format:  Hardcover, 400 pages
Publisher:  Harper Voyager (December 27, 2011)
Price:  $22.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  9780062069405

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
There are some things worse than death . . .

For years, Angela Mathers has been plagued by visions of a supernatural being—an angel with beguiling eyes and magnificent wings who haunts her thoughts and seduces her dreams. Newly freed from a mental institution where she had been locked away for two years, Angela hopes that attending Westwood Academy, the Vatican’s exclusive university, will bring her peace and a semblance of normality.

But Angela isn’t normal. With her stain of dark red hair and alabaster skin, she is a blood head—a freak, a monster, and the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy. Blessed with strange, mystical powers, blood heads hold a special place in the Academy. Among them, one special blood head is more powerful than them all: the Archon, the human reincarnation of the dead angel Raziel. And when the Archon arises as foretold, it will rule the supernatural universe.

Barely in control of her own life, Angela has no ambition to conquer an entire universe, not when she’s suddenly contending with a dangerous enemy who is determined to destroy her and a magnetic novitiate who wants to save her. But the choice might not be her own . . .

Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, the young blood head must soon face the truth about herself and her world. It is she who holds the key to Heaven and Hell—and both will stop at nothing to possess her.

In Archon, Sabrina Benulis has created a dazzlingly imaginative tale set in a lush, vivid supernatural world filled with gargoyles and candlelight, magic and murder, in which humans, angels, demons, and those in between battle for supremacy—and survival.
You can read the 2011 DAC Interview with Sabrina here.



Empire State
Author:  Adam Christopher 
Format: Trade Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books (December 27, 2011)
Price: $12.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Science Fiction, Noir
ISBN:   9780857661937

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
The stunning superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.

When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.

Adam Christopher’s stunning debut novel heralds the arrival of an amazing new talent.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Pocket Universe | Heroes or Villains | Speak Easy | Loyalties Divided ].
You can read Adam's guest blog - In Blackest Night: blending science fiction and noir - here.



Babylon Steel
Author:  Gaie Sebold
Series:  Babylon Steel
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 544 pages
Publisher: Solaris (December 27, 2011)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  9781907992384

2012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts
Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex-other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and religions, not to mention the occasional insane warlock. She's not having a good week. The Vessels of Purity are protesting against brothels, women in the trade are being attacked, it's tax time, and there's not enough money to pay the bill. So when the mysterious Darask Fain offers her a job finding a missing girl, Babylon decides to take it. But the missing girl is not what she seems, and neither is Darask Fain. In the meantime twomoon is approaching, and more than just a few night's takings are at risk when Babylon's hidden past reaches out to grab her by the throat.
You can read Gaie's guest blog - Things I Didn't Know - here.
Interview with John Love and Excerpt from Evensong - February 26, 2015What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 6Interview with John Love - January 26, 20122012 Debut Author Challenge - January 2012 Debuts

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