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Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered


Please welcome Kacen Callendar to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Queen of the Conquered, their adult debut, was published on November 12, 2019 by Orbit.



Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered




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

Kacen:  Thank you! The first piece I remember writing was actually fanfiction when I was maybe about ten or eleven years old. It was for an anime called Card Captor Sakura, and I wrote an “alternate universe” fic based on The King and I. It was just as ridiculous as it sounds. As for original fiction, though, I was probably about sixteen and tried to write a fantasy novel about a girl who’d been raised on an island inhabited by only women. I still have pieces of the first draft somewhere on my laptop.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kacen:  I’m definitely a hybrid. I tend to write out a pretty loose, basic outline based on the beats from Save the Cat, and allow pantsing in between points, which could influence the outline and the direction of the story in ways I don’t always expect. There are also a lot of times when I don’t know the outline yet, so I pants until I get a better sense of the story, before writing out the beats.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kacen:  The most challenging thing right now is getting voices of critique and criticism out of my head and allowing myself to write the story I want to write, and continuing to believe in myself as an author. It can be very easy to persuade myself to give up on first drafts, and I have to work hard to force myself to keep going.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kacen:  Definitely other books and authors, movies and TV shows, and real-world events and society. For Queen of the Conquered, I was specifically influenced by the history of the Caribbean and novels like The Book of Night Women by Marlon James, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, and Octavia Butler.



TQDescribe Queen of the Conquered using only 5 words.

Kacen:  Brutal, unforgiving, lush, methodical, vengeful.



TQTell us something about Queen of the Conquered that is not found in the book description.

KacenQueen of the Conquered feels like a blend of historical fantasy and classic mysteries, and is often described as a cross between Shakespeare and Agatha Christie.



TQWhat inspired you to write Queen of the Conquered? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Kacen:  A number of things inspired me: the history of the Caribbean and the knowledge that Black people had once owned slaves were the initial spark of the idea years ago, but the story continued to develop and form in my mind as I experienced situations where I was an oppressed person with privilege, helping me to think more about Sigourney Rose’s character. I love writing SFF because these stories allow us to write metaphors and parallels to our real world that can help us writers and readers see our own world even more clearly.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Queen of the Conquered?

Kacen:  Most of the research was based in the language of the Fjern, or the colonizers of Queen of the Conquered. The setting is based on my own home islands of the US Virgin Islands. Before being bought by the United States, the USVI had been a part of the Danish West Indies. Because of that, a lot of the language in the novel is Danish. For example, “Fjern” means foreign, and “kraft,” or the magical ability throughout the book, translates to power—both magically and systematically.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Queen of the Conquered.

Kacen:  The cover was designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio, and I really lucked out—I think the cover is absolutely gorgeous. It depicts Sigourney with tropical flowers and a snake, which is a running theme throughout the book. My favorite part of the cover, though, is that it looks even more amazing beside the cover of the sequel, King of the Rising, which depicts Løren, a significant character in Queen of the Conquered and the main character in the second book.



TQIn Queen of the Conquered who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Kacen:  The easiest character was Sigourney, because even if it was difficult to put myself into her head and imagine being a horrible human being committing atrocities, a lot of her character was also based on something I’ve experienced a lot in my life as a person who is both oppressed and discriminated against, and someone who has experienced privilege, and been in situations where the two intersect. It did take vulnerability, but because I understand this experience so deeply, it was easy to draw from. The most difficult character would be all of the Fjern and kongelig on the island. I had to put myself into the minds of colonizers and enslavers and make themselves seem viably acceptance and redeemable to themselves so that they’d feel realistic, but I did not want to seem like I was attempting to make them morally ambiguous or relatable characters—I had to show that the narrative and I as an author understand that they are unforgiveable characters.



TQ:  Which question about Queen of the Conquered do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kacen:  I wish someone would ask whether the spirits throughout Queen of the Conquered are real. The spirits aren’t real in the sense that this is a book, and it’s fiction, but I enjoy playing with the concept of reality and fantasy. For a lot of cultures and people, myself included, spirits are very much so real and revered, so while some readers might consider the spirits and ancestors in the world of Queen of the Conquered and King of the Rising as a part of the fantasy world, for me, they’re as real as the islands themselves.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Queen of the Conquered.

Kacen:  Storms and the constantly encroaching tide are both metaphors throughout the book, so I’ll go with this atmospheric line from the beginning of chapter nine:

The sky, normally so blue, turns gray—and by the end of the morning, the trade-winds breeze turns to a wind that lashes rain upon the islands, blackened storm clouds rolling over the hills and waves crashing into the cliffs of Hans Lollik Helle.



TQWhat's next?

Kacen:  I have three books coming out next year: first is the middle-grade King and the Dragonflies, out on February 4th. Next is the young-adult Felix Ever After, out on May 20th. And, finally, the sequel to Queen of the Conquered, King of the Rising, should be out in December of next year.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kacen:  Thanks so much for having me!





Queen of the Conquered
Islands of Blood and Storm 2
Orbit, November 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered
An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people — and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world — perfect for readers of S. A. Chakraborty, Ken Liu, and Tasha Suri.





About Kacen

Kacen Callender was born two days after a hurricane and was first brought home to a house without its roof. After spending their first eighteen years on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kacen studied Japanese, Fine Arts, and Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received their MFA from the New School. Kacen is the author of the middle grade novel Hurricane Child and the young adult novel This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story.

Website  ~  Twitter @kacencallender

2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019


2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019


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 2019 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 November 30, 2019, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite November 2019 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover illustration by Luis Toledo at Dutch Uncle
Cover copyright © 2019 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover design by Kimberly Glyder





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Cover images by Arcangel and Shutterstock
Cover copyright © 2019 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover art by Tomas Almeida
Cover design by Katie Anderson





2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019
Cover Design and Layout: Don Noble

The View From Monday - November 11, 2019


Happy Monday!

There is one debut this week:

Queen of the Conquered (Islands of Blood and Storm 1) by Kacen Callender (Adult Debut);

The View From Monday - November 11, 2019
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



From formerly featured DAC Authors:

The Killing Light (Sacred Throne 3) by Myke Cole;

The Impossible Contract (Chronicles of Ghadid 2) by K. A. Doore;

Revolution (A Cold War Magic Novel 2) by W. L. Goodwater;

Dispel Illusion (Impossible Times 3) by Mark Lawrence (Kindle eBook);

Talk Like a Man (Outspoken Authors ) by Nisi Shawl;

and

Flamebringer (Heartstone 3) by Elle Katharine White.

The View From Monday - November 11, 2019 The View From Monday - November 11, 2019
The View From Monday - November 11, 2019 The View From Monday - November 11, 2019
The View From Monday - November 11, 2019 The View From Monday - November 11, 2019
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



The View From Monday - November 11, 2019



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

November 12, 2019
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Zen of R2-D2: Ancient Wisdom from a Galaxy Far, Far Away Matthew Bortolin Philosophy/Buddhist
The World's Favorite Ghost Stories: 13 Creepy Tales from Around the Globe Tony Brueski GH/P/SupTh
Queen of the Conquered (D-Adult) Kacen Callender F/CoA/HistF - Islands of Blood and Storm 1
Alliance Rising C. J. Cherryh
Jane S. Fancher
SF/HSF/SO - The Hinder Stars 1
The Killing Light Myke Cole F - Sacred Throne 3
The Best of Glen Cook Glen Cook F/DF
The Andromeda Evolution Michael Crichton Daniel H. Wilson SF
The Impossible Contract K. A. Doore F - Chronicles of Ghadid 2
X-Men: The Mutant Empire Omnibus Christopher Golden MTI/SH
Revolution W.L. Goodwater HistF/AH/Espionage - A Cold War Magic Novel 2
The Reckoning Kris Greene CF - Dark Storm 3
A Sanctuary of Spirits Leanna Renee Hieber HistF/GH - A Spectral City Novel 2
Starship Alchemon Christopher Hinz SF/SO/SE
To The Blight: The Eye of the World, Part II Robert Jordan Wheel of Time
1922 Stephen King H
The Langoliers Stephen King H
Told Again: Old Tales Told Again (ri) Walter de la Mare FairyT/FolkT/LM - Oddly Modern Fairy Tales 8
Dangerous Women 1 (ri) George R. R. Martin  (Ed)
Gardner Dozois (Ed)
F - Anthology
I Am Legend (ri) Richard Matheson H/SF/AP/PA
The Menace from Farside Ian McDonald SF/SE/HSF/SO
The Pursuit of William Abbey Claire North SupTh/Occ/Sup/Sus
Dead Sky Weston Ochse SF
The Last Wish (ri) Andrzej Sapkowski F - Witcher
Realm of Ash Tasha Suri F/FR/HistF - Books of Ambha 2
Earth and Ember (e) John F.D. Taff SupTh/PSus/H - The Fearing 4
Tooth and Claw (ri) Jo Walton F
Into Bones like Oil Kaaron Warren H/GH
Peter Watts Is An Angry Sentient Tumor: Revenge Fantasies and Essays Peter Watts SF - Collection
War of the Spark: Forsaken Greg Weisman F - Magic: The Gathering 2
Castle of Blood C L Werner H - Warhammer Horror
Flamebringer Elle Katharine White F - Heartstone 3
Queen of All the Nightbirds Craig Wolf H/P/DF/GH



November 13, 2019
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Butterfly Kid Chester Anderson SF/AC/HU - The Greenwich Village Trilogy 1
The Unicorn Girl Michael Kurland SF/AC/HU - The Greenwich Village Trilogy2
The New Voices of Science Fiction Hannu Rajaniemi (Ed)
Jacon Weisman (Ed)
SF/HSF/GenEng/AP/PA - Anthology
Carlucci's Heart Richard Paul Russo CyP/SF - : The Carlucci Trilogy 3
The Probability Pad T.A. Waters SF/AC/HU - The Greenwich Village Trilogy3



November 14, 2019
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Dispel Illusion (Ke) Mark Lawrence SF/TT - Impossible Times 3
Mistletoe Alison Littlewood UF/GH
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Guide for the Perplexed Toby Widdicombe SF/HC - Guides for the Perplexed



November 15, 2019
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Talk Like a Man Nisi Shawl SF/AH - Outspoken Authors



November 16, 2019
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Rise Kim Lakin-Smith Dys/SF



D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
mm - Mass Market Paperback
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 - Cyperpunk
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
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
MD - Mystery and Detective
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PolTh - Political Thriller
Psy - Psychological
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
RF - Romantic Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
SS - Short Stories
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy

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

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts


2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts


There are 7 debut novels for November.

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

The November 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 November cover for the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on November 15, 2019.



Kacen Callender

Queen of the Conquered
Islands of Blood and Storm 2
Orbit, November 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
(Adult Debut)

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people — and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world — perfect for readers of S. A. Chakraborty, Ken Liu, and Tasha Suri.





Temple Drake

NVK
Other Press, November 26, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook 352 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
NAMED A TOP 10 BEST DEBUT NOVEL OF THE FALL BY APPLE

HER SECRET MUST BE KEPT FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Set in the otherworldly megalopolis that is today’s Shanghai, Temple Drake’s suspenseful first novel blends the gothic, the erotic, and the supernatural as it charts an intense and dangerous affair.

One night in 2012, executive Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Western woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be…

To Zhang’s surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels driven to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai?

Written in spare, high-octane prose, NVK is the first in a series of dark, hypnotic novels that explore the roots of desire and the cruel costs of immortality.





Justin Joschko

Whitetooth Falls
JournalStone, November 8, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 264 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
Homicide detective David Moore has never had a case quite like this: a series of savage murders targeting the family of Frank Ballaro, a mafia kingpin with half the city of Niagara Falls in his pocket. The killer strikes with inhuman violence, and always on the night of a full moon.

Meanwhile, grad student Iman Al-Qadari reads about the murders with growing dismay. Her boss, a prominent professor, has been acting strange over the last few months—wearing disheveled clothes, lashing out with uncharacteristic anger, and obsessing over a growing pile of occult literature. When Iman spots a red stain on his coat sleeve—one that looks and smells suspiciously like blood—the night after a grisly murder, the unthinkable starts to seem all too possible.

As David and Iman wrestle with an impossible enemy whose existence grows harder and harder to deny, a strange and sinister evil sinks its fangs ever deeper into Niagara’s throat. Can David and Iman find one another in time to pool their knowledge, solve the mystery, and stop the killings? Or will the creature feasting on their city swallow them as well?





Emma Sloley

Disaster's Children
Little A, November 5, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and Kindle eBook, 320 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind.

Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. For as long as Marlo can remember, the unknown that lies beyond the borders of her utopia has been a curious obsession. But just as she plans her escape into the chaos of the real world, a charismatic new resident gives her a compelling reason to stay. And, soon enough, a reason to doubt—and to fear—his intentions.

Now, feeling more and more trapped in a paradise that’s become a prison, Marlo has a choice: stay in the only home she’s ever known—or break away, taking its secrets of survival with her.

Set in a chillingly possible, very near future, Disaster’s Children is a provocative debut novel about holding on to what we know and letting go of it for the unknown and the unknowable.





Pete Townshend

The Age of Anxiety
Hachette, November 5, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
In his debut novel, rock legend Pete Townshend explores the anxiety of modern life and madness in a story that stretches across two generations of a London family, their lovers, collaborators, and friends.

A former rock star disappears on the Cumberland moors. When his wife finds him, she discovers he has become a hermit and a painter of apocalyptic visions.

An art dealer has drug-induced visions of demonic faces swirling in a bedstead and soon his wife disappears, nowhere to be found.

A beautiful Irish girl, who has stabbed her father to death is determined to seduce her best friend’s husband.

A young composer begins to experience aural hallucinations, expressions of the fear and anxiety of the people of London. He constructs a maze in his back garden.

Driven by passion and musical ambition, events spiral out of control-good drugs and bad drugs, loves lost and found, families broken apart and reunited.

Conceived jointly as an opera, The Age of Anxiety deals with mythic and operatic themes. Hallucinations and soundscapes haunt this novel, which on one level is an extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity.





C. M. Waggoner

Unnatural Magic
Ace, November 5, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
A “brilliant and terrifically fun”* debut novel brings an enchanting new voice to fantasy.

Onna can write the parameters of a spell faster than any of the young men in her village school. But despite her incredible abilities, she’s denied a place at the nation’s premier arcane academy. Undaunted, she sails to the bustling city-state of Hexos, hoping to find a place at a university where they don’t think there’s anything untoward about providing a woman with a magical education. But as soon as Onna arrives, she’s drawn into the mysterious murder of four trolls.

Tsira is a troll who never quite fit into her clan, despite being the leader’s daughter. She decides to strike out on her own and look for work in a human city, but on her way she stumbles upon the body of a half-dead human soldier in the snow. As she slowly nurses him back to health, an unlikely bond forms between them, one that is tested when an unknown mage makes an attempt on Tsira’s life. Soon, unbeknownst to each other, Onna and Tsira both begin devoting their considerable talents to finding out who is targeting trolls, before their homeland is torn apart…

*Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians





Colleen Winter

The Gathering
The Gatherer 1
Rebel Base Books, November 26, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 244 pages

2019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts
It Was Meant To Save Humanity
Not Destroy It


Storm Freeman gave the world a miracle. She designed The Gatherer to draw electromagnetic energy from the air and disperse free and infinite electricity to rural and underprivileged communities. Her invention helped people but devalued power industries. Some revered Storm as a deity. Others saw her as an eco-terrorist.

Then the miracle became a curse. The Gatherer unleashed a plague that damaged the human electrical system, bringing pain, suffering—and eventual death—to anyone continually exposed to the technology. Stricken herself, Storm goes into exile, desperate to find a cure—and destroy her invention.

But there are people in the government and in the corporation that funded The Gatherer who refuse to publicly acknowledge the connection between the device and the spreading plague. And they will stop at nothing to find Storm and use her genius for military applications . . .
Interview with Kacen Callender, author of Queen of the Conquered2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - November 2019The View From Monday - November 11, 20192019 Debut Author Challenge - November Debuts

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