The Qwillery | category: John P. Murphy


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2020 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on July 31, 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite July 2020 Debut Cover! free polls

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts
Cover by Kieryn Tyler

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Shasti O'Leary Soudant

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July 2020 Debuts
Jacket art: photo of woman by Larry Rostant
Jacket design by Katie Anderson

Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise

Please welcome John P. Murphy to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Red Noise was published on July 7, 2020 by Angry Robot.

Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise

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

John P. Murphy:  Oh gosh. Does anyone have an answer to this that isn't horribly embarrassing? I wrote pretty much constantly when I was a kid, and it all kind of blended together. Some kind of generic epic fantasy thing, with airships. The airships bit, at least, I remember. I was a huge JRPG fan starting in the early 90s - we got a copy of Final Fantasy with Nintendo Power magazine, and I was absolutely hooked on it. I pretty much immediately started writing stories that were really very thinly veiled copies, driven mostly by people having cool names rather than personalities.

The first piece I remember letting people read was probably a one act play. I was really into theatre in high school, and we were allowed to write skits and short plays to put on for credit. I'm not sure if this was the first one, but I remember writing one about a writer who handcuffed himself to his desk to make himself finish on deadline, and all his terrible drafts were acted out in front of him. That was pretty fun; I hadn't thought of that in years.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

JPM:  These days I'm a plotter. Part of that is that I have so little time to write, so that I spend time during the day planning out what I'm going to write, and can then generally speed through it. I don't often finish according to plan, though: if it's going an interesting direction, I keep at it, and then revise the plan. But what I need most is to know the ending, especially the emotional payoff - I need that north star if the plot is going to work, and for me I can't just pants that.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JPM:  Finishing! I pretty reliably hit a rough spot at about the two-thirds spot in almost everything I write. By that point I've hit most of the things I hadn't fully thought through, the shine of the idea has worn off, and I'm convinced that nobody will ever like it. I've abandoned a few drafts at that stage, but mostly it just takes a lot of energy and motivation to get through. I bribe myself with good whiskey and home-roasted coffee.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

JPM:  This one had a lot of influences. I'm kind of a cultural magpie. I've been really enjoying some of the more recent space-based science fiction lately; I love the way Aliette de Bodard's science fiction paints a different kind of space-faring future than we're used to seeing. I read a lot of old-school noir in preparing for this, like Chandler and Hammett, and newer more horror-oriented noir like Cassandra Khaw. I was obviously pretty strongly influence by samurai flicks and the grittier style of Western - think Clint Eastwood, not John Wayne. A fair bit of anime, especially Cowboy Bebop and Planetes. Firefly, too. The Fallout games likely had an influence on the aesthetic. Heck, there's even a Dwarf Fortress reference in there, but if anyone gets that I'll be amazed.

TQDescribe Red Noise using only 5 words.

JPM:  Space samurai flick with explosives.

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

JPM:  So, if you'll just look over there at that fascinating bird, I'm definitely not re-reading my own book description right now. Oh, it flew away.

Maybe this is implied in the description, but I did want to say that the plot of Red Noise isn't so much about being a badass, as it's about being clever. The Miner possibly could take down all the baddies in a frontal assault, but I don't think it would be as fun a story if she did. I've always found Odysseus more interesting than Achilles; Loki more interesting than Thor. So she can fight, yeah, but it's more important that she can think.

TQWhat inspired you to write Red Noise? What appeals to you about writing Space Opera?

JPM:  Well, to go way, way back, I was introduced to samurai films back in college, and then wrote essays on them during a study abroad in Japan twenty years ago. I just love that aesthetic. I'd watched a lot of Westerns growing up, since my dad was a fan, and they felt like both a missing piece and a distillation of the form. Yojimbo in particular struck me, and I did a paper on it and the later movies that were based on it, as well as going back and looking at its own antecedents, particularly Hammett's Red Harvest. I decided early on that I wanted to take my own stab at the genre, specifically in space, but it took the 2016 election and the use of social media to rile up so much of society against itself to really spur me to write it.

As for Space Opera in particular... It's such a wonderful sandbox for storytelling, and I think there are good reasons it has such overlap with Space Westerns. There's a tolerance for handwaving, for one thing. Readers will appreciate as much science as you feel like throwing in, but the focus is on the story more than on the tech. That's a comfortable place to be for someone like me, who can't help but geek out a bit but who still would rather write about Sturm und Drang than scribble out another doctoral thesis.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Red Noise?

JPM:  Most of my research was non-technical, trying to get the feel right. I especially did research into how I wanted to write the action. I hadn't written much before, and I tend to dislike it in a lot of books that I read -- I find it too drawn-out, too focused on the wrong things. I watched a bunch of Westerns and samurai movies, and reread some books that I thought did action well. I found that the fights that worked best for me were short and punchy (sorry! sorry!) and at their best were pulling double-duty in illuminating character. I'm pretty happy with how the fight scenes turned out, and how they differ from the Miner's point of view versus someone like Screwball.

I also did some research into nuclear weapons, and I kind of wish I hadn't. Some of these things are hard to forget.

TQDoes having a PhD in Engineering and a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering help or hinder your writing of Red Noise?

JPM:  A little of both. As a background thing, knowing the shape of how things are likely to work is a huge help. Understanding how systems interact and how they break helps me fill in the little details that make the world feel a little more real, or rather more realistically broken. Plus having all this miscellaneous knowledge, like how listening devices work or how robotic systems operate. A bigger benefit is knowing how to research, how to come up to speed on new things quickly.

On the other hand, I don't have a lot of interest in writing hard SF. I don't really read it much either, and anyway most of what passes for hard SF narrowly focuses on getting just one field right at the expense of dozens of others. But still I worry a lot about expectations: Are people going to pick up the book knowing I have a PhD and expect all the science to be spot-on? Most of the time I try not to write stuff I know is absolute nonsense, but sometimes I have to shrug, quietly apologize to my professors, and move on. That's part of the appeal of space opera as a genre, that lessened expectation of rigid correctness.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Red Noise.

JPM:  The cover process was fun, and Angry Robot was so good about it. It's very abstract, just that foil sword piercing the title, with stars in the background, pulled off brilliantly by Kieryn Tyler. I put together a Pinterest board of all these things that I loved in visual design, that the book made me think of. The Criterion Collection DVD covers for Yojimbo and Seven Samurai, for example, even sumi-e paintings. I really enjoy the effect of black and white and red. Kieryn took all that amorphous mess and really ran with it.

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

JPM:  Takata was the easiest to write, and Angelica the hardest, for the same reason: they're the two characters who are most like me. Takata is off to the side, and he gets to pretty much just react to what's going on. His role in the story is to be opinionated and provide a little bit of an outside moral compass. And boy, I can talk. So he was easy to write.

Angelica, on the other hand, has to act and antagonize. To write her, I had her mostly do what would come naturally to me - but as a result, she tended to blend into the background in the early drafts and just sort of exist; then when she acted it would seem to come from nowhere. Forcing myself to double back and think through and make her motivations as clear as the others, especially when she doesn't have that much page time, was hard.

TQDoes Red Noise touch on any social issues?

JPM:  Several of them, some intentionally, some not. It doesn't take much reading to see political parallels, but I'll leave those for the reader. In a way, it's a poor book that doesn't touch on anything important to the author. One of the big questions of the book, though, is the point of argument between Takata and Herrera: what has to come first, justice or peace? The argument is explicit sometimes, but that question was on my mind a lot when writing. It reads differently to me in the summer of 2020 than it did when I handed in the manuscript last year, and I'm pleased by that. I expect it will read differently next year, too.

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

JPM:   "Tell us about the food in Red Noise"

Also JPM:  I'm glad you asked! Eating and drinking is a big part of world building, and I'm such a foodie that I always enjoy those parts of books. Station 35 is way out in the middle of nowhere, muddling through with a combination of local production and cheap shipped-in stuff. After six months of fighting, what's left in the pantry is weird - and kind of prophetic of what's left in my own pantry after a few months of avoiding grocery stores. Staples bought in bulk, the "maybe later" frozen food, and home-grown vegetables that maybe don't look so great. The Miner mostly lives on emergency rations (partly inspired by my own experiments with that Soylent stuff), but one of the characters is trying to run a restaurant, and the other is the universe's worst bootlegger.

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


       “How bad are these nurses?”
       “I caught Skeeve doing what he thought was cocaine off a bedpan.”
       Mills struggled with that sentence and landed on, “Skeeve?”
       “Technically ‘Other Skeeve’ but nobody’s seen Original Skeeve in a while, and if he’s dead, then Other Skeeve feels he inherits because ‘a man has rights’.” Joff’s expression grew haunted. “That is a sentence that has come out of my mouth. I can’t take it back, Arun.”

       “You ever killed anybody?”
       The Miner glanced sideways at her, but couldn’t read anything but idle curiosity. “Some.”
       “How come?”
       She shrugged. “You can’t like everybody.”

TQWhat's next?

JPM:  I'd been working on a near-future thriller, picking up some of the themes I'd been writing about in my novella Claudius Rex (about an AI private detective) but near-future is a bit rough writing these days. I've got a couple short stories in the works, and a fantasy legal thriller that I've been tinkering on for a while now.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JPM:  Thank you for having me! This has been fun!

Red Noise
Angry Robot, July 7, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise
Caught up in a space station turf war between gangs and corrupt law, a lone asteroid miner decides to take them all down.

When an asteroid miner comes to Station 35 looking to sell her cargo and get back to the solitude she craves, she gets swept up in a three-way standoff with gangs and crooked cops. Faced with either taking sides or cleaning out the Augean Stables, she breaks out the grenades…

About John P. Murphy

Interview with John P. Murphy, author of Red Noise
John is an engineer and writer living in New Hampshire with his partner and two ridiculously fluffy cats. His previous work, The Liar, was shortlisted for a Nebula Award for Best Novella in 2016. He was a SFWA Director-at-Large until 2018 and is now the Short Fiction Committee Chair. He has a PhD in Engineering and a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Website  ~  Twitter @dolohov

The View From Monday - July 13, 2020

Happy Monday? We are back after a 4 day hiatus. Hope that everyone is okay during these strange times. Keep well!

There is one debut this week:

Red Noise by John P. Murphy.

The View From Monday - July 13, 2020
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

ReV (The Machine Dynasty 3) by Madeline Ashby;

When Jackals Storm the Walls (Song of Shattered Sands 5) by Bradley P. Beaulieu;

The Amberlough Dossier: Amberlough, Armistice, Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly (eBook Bundle);

The Dragon Republic (Poppy War 2) by R. F. Kuang is out in Trade Paperback;

The Adventures of Arabella Ashby: Arabella of Mars, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, Arabella The Traitor of Mars by David D. Levine (eBook Bundle);


Road Seven by Keith Rosson.

The View From Monday - July 13, 2020The View From Monday - July 13, 2020
The View From Monday - July 13, 2020The View From Monday - July 13, 2020
The View From Monday - July 13, 2020The View From Monday - July 13, 2020
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

The View From Monday - July 13, 2020

Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

July 14, 2020
Jest Right (ri) Piers Anthony F/HU - Magic of Xanth 43
ReV: The Machine Dynasty Madeline Ashby SF/AP/AP/CyP - The Machine Dynasty 3
When Jackals Storm the Walls Bradley P. Beaulieu F - Song of Shattered Sands 5
Unicorn Mountain (ri) Michael Bishop SF/AC
Peace Talks Jim Butcher UF - Dresden Files 16
The Amberlough Dossier: Amberlough, Armistice, Amnesty (e) Lara Elena Donnelly HistF
Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future Jun Eishima
Final Fantasy XV Team
F/MTI - Final Fantasy XV
The Vessels Anna M. Elias SupTh/VM/F - Vessels 1
Queen of Storms Raymond E. Feist F - Firemane Saga 2
Silver Ravens Jane Fletcher F/MR
His Dark Materials and Philosophy Richard Greene (Ed)
Rachel Robinson-Greene (Ed)
Philosophy - Popular Culture and Philosophy 132
The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones H
The Relentless Moon Mary Robinette Kowal SF/AH/HSF - Lady Astronaut 3
The Dragon Republic (h2tp) R. F Kuang HistF - Poppy War 2
In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows Stephen R. Lawhead F/HistF - Eirlandia 3
The Adventures of Arabella Ashby: Arabella of Mars, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, Arabella The Traitor of Mars (e) David D. Levine SF/SP
The Passengers (h2tp) John Marrs TechTh/Sus/SF
Knaves Over Queens (h2tp) George R.R. Martin (Ed)
Wild Cards Trust
SH/SF - Wild Cards 22
The Dreaming Tree (h2tp) Matthew Mather M - Delta Devlin Novels 1
The Storyteller’s Daughter (e) Victoria McCombs RF
Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing John Jackson Miller SF - Star Trek: Discovery 7
Utopia Avenue David Mitchell LF/SF/Dys
Gideon the Ninth (h2tp) Tamsyn Muir SF/SO/F - The Locked Tomb Trilogy 1
Red Noise (D) John P. Murphy SF/SO/AP/PA
At the Lucky Hand: aka The Sixty-Nine Drawers Goran Petrović
Peter Agnone (Tr)
All Up J. W. Rinzler AH
Road Seven Keith Rosson MR/LF
Shadows Rising Madeleine Roux F - World of Warcraft Shadowlands 3
Best of British Science Fiction 2019 Donna Scott (Ed) SF - Anthology
Heart of Gold (e) Sharon Shinn SF/CyP
Hell Divers VII: Warriors Nicholas Sansbury Smith SF/CyP - Hell Divers 7

July 15, 2020
Everything's Fine: A Original (e) Matthew Pridham SF

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator

AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistTh - Historical Thriller
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
LMF - Legends, Myths, Fables
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PolTh - Political Thriller
PopCul - Popular Culture
Psy - Psychological
RF - Romantic Fantasy
ScF - Science Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
STR - Small Town and Rural
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy
VM - Visionary and Metaphysical

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts

There are 9 debut novels for July 2020.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The June debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite July cover for the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on July 15, 2020.

Cherie Dimaline

Empire of Wild
William Morrow, July 28, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
“Deftly written, gripping and informative. Empire of Wild is a rip-roaring read!”—Margaret Atwood, From Instagram

Empire of Wild is doing everything I love in a contemporary novel and more. It is tough, funny, beautiful, honest and propulsive—all the while telling a story that needs to be told by a person who needs to be telling it.”—Tommy Orange, author of There There

A bold and brilliant new indigenous voice in contemporary literature makes her American debut with this kinetic, imaginative, and sensuous fable inspired by the traditional Canadian Métis legend of the Rogarou—a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of native people’s communities.

Joan has been searching for her missing husband, Victor, for nearly a year—ever since that terrible night they’d had their first serious argument hours before he mysteriously vanished. Her Métis family has lived in their tightly knit rural community for generations, but no one keeps the old ways . . . until they have to. That moment has arrived for Joan.

One morning, grieving and severely hungover, Joan hears a shocking sound coming from inside a revival tent in a gritty Walmart parking lot. It is the unmistakable voice of Victor. Drawn inside, she sees him. He has the same face, the same eyes, the same hands, though his hair is much shorter and he's wearing a suit. But he doesn't seem to recognize Joan at all. He insists his name is Eugene Wolff, and that he is a reverend whose mission is to spread the word of Jesus and grow His flock. Yet Joan suspects there is something dark and terrifying within this charismatic preacher who professes to be a man of God . . . something old and very dangerous.

Joan turns to Ajean, an elderly foul-mouthed card shark who is one of the few among her community steeped in the traditions of her people and knowledgeable about their ancient enemies. With the help of the old Métis and her peculiar Johnny-Cash-loving, twelve-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan must find a way to uncover the truth and remind Reverend Wolff who he really is . . . if he really is. Her life, and those of everyone she loves, depends upon it.

Lindsay Ellis

Axiom's End
St. Martin's Press, July 21, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
The alternate history first contact adventure Axiom's End is an extraordinary debut from Hugo finalist and video essayist Lindsay Ellis.

Truth is a human right.

It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

John Fram

The Bright Lands
Hanover Square Press, July7, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 480 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
A Library Journal Best Winter/Spring Debut 2020

“Marks the debut of an already accomplished novelist.” —John Banville
The town of Bentley holds two things dear: its football, and its secrets. But when star quarterback Dylan Whitley goes missing, an unremitting fear grips this remote corner of Texas.

Joel Whitley was shamed out of conservative Bentley ten years ago, and while he’s finally made a life for himself as a gay man in New York, his younger brother’s disappearance soon brings him back to a place he thought he’d escaped for good. Meanwhile, Sheriff’s Deputy Starsha Clark stayed in Bentley; Joel’s return brings back painful memories—not to mention questions—about her own missing brother. And in the high school hallways, Dylan’s friends begin to suspect that their classmates know far more than they’re telling the police. Together, these unlikely allies will stir up secrets their town has long tried to ignore, drawing the attention of dangerous men who will stop at nothing to see that their crimes stay buried.

But no one is quite prepared to face the darkness that’s begun to haunt their nightmares, whispering about a place long thought to be nothing but an urban legend: an empty night, a flicker of light on the horizon—The Bright Lands.

Shocking, twisty and relentlessly suspenseful, John Fram’s debut is a heart-pounding story about old secrets, modern anxieties and the price young men pay for glory.

John Gastil

Gray Matters
Cosmic Egg Books, July 31, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 370 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
Can the digital networks that record our footprints hold us steady when dementia threatens to push us off the path?

This question has real stakes for data analyst Charlie Sanders. His best hope for a father succumbing to Alzheimer’s comes from assistive technology that Charlie helps design for a scrappy startup. Despite early successes, Charlie has growing doubts about the motives of each of his colleagues - the eccentric CEO in Seattle, the call center guru in India, and the Trump-loving Aussie transplant who keeps the books. His worries grow when the company takes on a clandestine client who occupies the Oval Office. Will Charlie keep his father and his country on track, or turn a whole generation into glitches?

Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching
Ace, July 21, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Alex Landragin

St. Martin's Press July 28, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
"A sparkling debut. Landragin’s seductive literary romp shines as a celebration of the act of storytelling." Publishers Weekly

"Romance, mystery, history, and magical invention dance across centuries in an impressive debut novel."
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Deft writing seduces the reader in a complex tale of pursuit, denial, and retribution moving from past to future. Highly recommended."
Library Journal (Starred Review)

Alex Landragin's Crossings is an unforgettable and explosive genre-bending debut—a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.

On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.

The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.

With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.

John P. Murphy

Red Noise
Angry Robot, July 7, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
Caught up in a space station turf war between gangs and corrupt law, a lone asteroid miner decides to take them all down.

When an asteroid miner comes to Station 35 looking to sell her cargo and get back to the solitude she craves, she gets swept up in a three-way standoff with gangs and crooked cops. Faced with either taking sides or cleaning out the Augean Stables, she breaks out the grenades…

C.T. Rwizi

Scarlet Odyssey
Scarlet Odyssey 1
47North, July 1, 2020
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 559 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
Magic is women’s work; war is men’s. But in the coming battle, none of that will matter.

Men do not become mystics. They become warriors. But eighteen-year-old Salo has never been good at conforming to his tribe’s expectations. For as long as he can remember, he has loved books and magic in a culture where such things are considered unmanly. Despite it being sacrilege, Salo has worked on a magical device in secret that will awaken his latent magical powers. And when his village is attacked by a cruel enchantress, Salo knows that it is time to take action.

Salo’s queen is surprisingly accepting of his desire to be a mystic, but she will not allow him to stay in the tribe. Instead, she sends Salo on a quest. The quest will take him thousands of miles north to the Jungle City, the political heart of the continent. There he must gather information on a growing threat to his tribe.

On the way to the city, he is joined by three fellow outcasts: a shunned female warrior, a mysterious nomad, and a deadly assassin. But they’re being hunted by the same enchantress who attacked Salo’s village. She may hold the key to Salo’s awakening—and his redemption.

Ryan Van Loan

The Sin in the Steel
The Fall of the Gods 1
Tor Books, July 21, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - July 2020 Debuts
Ryan Van Loan's The Sin in the Steel is a sparkling debut fantasy set in a diverse world, featuring dead gods, a pirate queen, shapeshifting mages, and a Sherlockian teenager determined to upend her society.

Heroes for hire. If you can pay.

Brilliant street-rat
Her mind leaps from clues to conclusions in the blink of an eye.

Buc’s partner-in-crime.

No. Not in crime—in crime-solving.

They’ve been hired for their biggest job yet—one that will set them up for a life of ease.

If they survive.

Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few.

It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her.

Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker's ship….

Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans.

Unfortunately for the gods, so does Buc.
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