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What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29


This is the twenty-ninth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their 2015 works published since the last update and any upcoming works for 2016. The year in parentheses after the author's name is the year she/he was featured in the Debut Author Challenge.


Part 1 herePart 11 herePart 21 here
Part 2 herePart 12 herePart 22 here
Part 3 herePart 13 herePart 23 here
Part 4 herePart 14 herePart 24 here
Part 5 herePart 15 herePart 25 here
Part 6 herePart 16 herePart 26 here
Part 7 herePart 17 herePart 27 here
Part 8 herePart 18 herePart 28 here
Part 9 herePart 19 here
Part 10 herePart 20 here



Karina Sumner-Smith (2014)

Towers Fall
Towers Trilogy 3
Talos, November 17, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 396 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29
War. Fire. Destruction. Xhea believed that the Lower City had weathered the worst of its troubles—that their only remaining fight would be the struggle to rebuild before winter. She was wrong.

Now her home is under attack from an unexpected source. The Central Spire, the City’s greatest power, is intent on destroying the heart of the magical entity that resides beneath the Lower City’s streets. The people on the ground have three days to evacuate—or else.

With nowhere to go and time running out, Xhea and the Radiant ghost Shai attempt to rally a defense. Yet with the Spire’s wrath upon them, nothing—not their combined magic, nor their unexpected allies—may be strong enough to protect them from the power of the City.

From Nebula Award–nominated author Karina Sumner-Smith, Towers Fall is a fantastic climax to this amazing and thought-provoking trilogy.




Auralee Wallace (2014)

Sidekick Returns
Sidekick in the City 2
Escape Publishing, December 1, 2015
eBook, 272 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29
Bremy St James is back in a brand new adventure, mixing chaos, humour, sex, and superheroes in this fresh, funny, flirty series. It’s the superhero romance you didn’t know you needed…

Fresh off thwarting the crime of the century, Bremy St. James is back and more determined than ever to fight by the side of the city’s top superhero, Dark Ryder. There’s just one problem: Dark Ryder’s disappeared.

To make matters worse, Bremy’s evil billionaire father, Atticus, is taking her lack of family loyalty very personally, and Bremy’s last tie to her old life, her reason behind her choices—her sister—is distancing herself as well.


Skinny Dipping with Murder
An Otter Lake Mystery 1
St. Martin's Paperbacks, March 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29
Welcome to Otter Lake, where the relaxing, restorative atmosphere is to die for.

Erica Bloom is in no rush to return to Otter Lake, the site of her mother's spiritual retreat for women. Erica met her inner goddess years ago and she's happy to have forged a new identity on her own, thank you very much. But her new-age-y, well-meaning mother is losing her grip on the business, and needs Erica's help. So she heads back to her New Hampshire hometown, where nothing much has changed-except for maybe the body in the well...

SKINNYDIPPING WITH MURDER

When Erica was a teenager, she fell prey to a practical joke that left her near-naked in Otter Lake's annual Raspberry Social. The incident was humiliating, but it wasn't like anyone got killed-until now. Those who were behind that long-ago prank are starting to turn up dead, and Erica's appearance in town makes her a prime suspect. To make matters worse, the town sheriff just happens to be Erica's old nemesis, Grady Forrester...who also happens to be hotter than ever. Can Erica find a way to dig up the truth-before someone digs her grave?




Angus Watson (2014)

Clash of Iron
Iron Age 2
Orbit, April 14, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 560 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29
The second book in Angus Watson's epic Iron Age fantasy trilogy.

LEADERS ARE FORGED IN THE FIRES OF WAR

Iron Age warriors Dug and Lowa captured Maidun castle and freed its slaves. But now they must defend it.

A Roman invasion is coming from Gaul, but rather than uniting to defend their home, the British tribes go to battle with each other -- and see Maidun as an easy target.

Meanwhile, Lowa's spies infiltrate Gaul, discovering the Romans have recruited British druids. And Maidunite Ragnall finds his loyalties torn when he meets Rome's charismatic general, Julius Caesar.

War is coming. Who will pay its price?


Reign of Iron
Iron Age
Orbit, September 29, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 560 pages

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29
WARRIOR QUEENS AND ROMAN INVADERS DO BATTLE IN THE FINAL VOLUME OF THIS THRILLING EPIC FANTASY TRILOGY.

Caesar's soldiers have murdered, massacred and pillaged their way through Gaul and loom on the far side of the sea, ready to descend upon Britain - with them are an unstoppable legion of men twisted by dark magic. Somehow Queen Lowa must repel the invasion, although her best general is dead and her young druid powerless. She faces impossible odds, but when the alternative is death or slavery, a warrior queen will do whatever it takes to save her people.

EVERY EMPIRE HAS ITS DOWNFALL.




Andy Weir (2014)

The Martian (Movie Tie-In Edition)
Broadway Books, August 18, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Hardcover, February 11, 2014
Trade Paperback, October 28, 2014
Trade Paperback (Movie Tie-In Edition), August 18, 2015

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?




Stephen Aryan (2015)

Bloodmage
Age of Darkness 2
Orbit, April 12, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

[cover not yet available]
The people of Perizzi have survived the battlemage war, but their future is looking darker than ever.

BYRNE is a Guardian of the Peace, investigating a series of murders in which the corpses were drained entirely of life.

FRAY's expertise with magic is needed to catch the killer, but working with the Guardians destroyed his father, years before.

CHOSS, renowned as a fighter, must work for peace, to diffuse a war in the underworld that threatens to turn the streets red with rivers of blood.

KATJA must use her skills as a spy to try to prevent a massacre that will topple two dynasties and destroy the fragile peace in the city for ever.


Guardians and spies, assassins and criminals will clash on the streets in this magic-fuelled adventure from the author of Battlemage.

Review: Towers Fall by Karina Sumner-Smith


Towers Fall
Author:  Karina Sumner-Smith
Series:  Towers Trilogy 3
Publisher:  Talos, November 17, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 396 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9781940456416 (print); 9781940456447 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review:  Towers Fall by Karina Sumner-Smith
War. Fire. Destruction. Xhea believed that the Lower City had weathered the worst of its troubles—that their only remaining fight would be the struggle to rebuild before winter. She was wrong.

Now her home is under attack from an unexpected source. The Central Spire, the City’s greatest power, is intent on destroying the heart of the magical entity that resides beneath the Lower City’s streets. The people on the ground have three days to evacuate—or else.

With nowhere to go and time running out, Xhea and the Radiant ghost Shai attempt to rally a defense. Yet with the Spire’s wrath upon them, nothing—not their combined magic, nor their unexpected allies—may be strong enough to protect them from the power of the City.

From Nebula Award–nominated author Karina Sumner-Smith, Towers Fall is a fantastic climax to this amazing and thought-provoking trilogy. 



Brandon's Review

The conclusion to any good trilogy is tough. It is tough for the reader and the author both for different reasons. Karina Sumner-Smith’s concluding book, Towers Fall, brought out the best of the series and left you wanting more from her in future books.

Sumner-Smith manages to continually surprise by pulling out a card you wondered about, but had been too distracted to follow up on. In the third book in the series we follow Xhea and Shia as they struggle separately and together to gather enough support and survivors to help the Lower City weather the announcement of imminent destruction from the Central Spire, the lynchpin to the power and society above. Will the growing sentience of the Lower City evolve quickly enough to protect its citizens against the threat?

Hampered by a binding spell and questioning the reason and purpose of their relationship the ongoing struggles interpersonally and emotionally continue to play out it a sophisticated way. Nothing in this book is as simple as it first appears and the author manages to avoid the easy options for where their relationship might go and where the story ultimately ends. We see the return of many of the same characters, but a depth of character is set down as we explore the childhood relationships of Xhea and Shai as they reach out to allies for help in keeping the Spire from killing the Lower City’s new intelligence and its citizens. Before they can make much progress the upper city’s towers begin to cannibalize the remaining towers below before they are destroyed.

We learn more about how the Spire controls those with dark talents to control the society at large and keep the bright towers in debt to them. The Spire is more than just a central point of control, it is also a conduit for the power of the city in trying to destroy the Lower City, but Xhea and Shai are willing to expend their lives in saving each other and the cities they both love.

I admire an author who can make you glad they didn’t take the shiny happy ending, but also didn’t leave a dystopian book on an overwhelming depressing note. I think the author is adept at using interpersonal and story arcs to question the internal development of the characters and remind me of my own childhood and question the relationships I held dear and how those have shaped the person I’ve become. It also reminded me that as a young person I went through a lot of very tough decisions and feelings that I felt like I didn’t have someone I felt connected to in order to share them with. Ultimately, this sense of connection and the value of friendship drive the world we live in – or at least – this is one of the themes I felt jumped out at me, but read it for yourself and see. I look forward to what the author has in store for us next.





Previously

Radiant
Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Review:  Towers Fall by Karina Sumner-Smith
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.


See Brandon's review here.




Defiant
Towers Trilogy 2
Talos Press, May 12, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Review:  Towers Fall by Karina Sumner-Smith
Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.

In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side?but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.

War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds; rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize?nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.

Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war?or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn't destroy them first.


See Brandon's review here.

Review: Defiant by Karina Sumner-Smith


Defiant
Author:  Karina Sumner-Smith
Series:  Towers Trilogy 2
Publisher:  Talos Press, May 12, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781940456263 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Defiant by Karina Sumner-Smith
Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.

In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side?but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.

War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds; rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize?nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.

Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war?or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn't destroy them first.



Brandon's Review

All the reasons I loved the first book in the Towers Trilogy still held true for Defiant, Karina Sumner-Smith’s follow up to Radiant.

We pick up shortly after we left off in Radiant following Xhea and Shai’s recent daring escape from the City above. The story maintains a fast pace as we follow their struggle to survive separately and together in a system and society that is designed to enslave them for the ‘greater good’. While Xhea and Shai may be out of the hands and off the immediate radar of the Towers above, the city below has uses for a ghost that produces more magic than most of the people of the lower city combined and a girl who can sneak about below the ground where other magic users fear to tread.

Many series expose the entire plot early on and you struggle to get peaks at the overarching plot moving forward, but I think Sumner-Smith does a brilliant job of feeding small bits of information about the larger story arcs and concerns into the storyline of each individual book. It reminded me of waiting for a certain dark purple tulip to bloom in my garden, each time I remember it I go to check and in the process I find a host of other flowers that take my attention. I don’t find I am disappointed that this flower hasn’t bloomed just yet, it just gives me something to look forward to tomorrow.

Sumner-Smith takes the opportunity to follow the characters separately and develop Shai’s character more than in the first installment, which I heartily applaud as I felt this was one of the areas that could use some development. Along those lines we definitely see a lot of development from Xhea - from a character unconcerned with the consequences of her choices to one who begins to come to terms with her ability to impact the world around her.

One of the lingering questions for me is about power. I hope the author continues to explore and question the experience and power dynamics of society, as so many great authors of speculative fiction tend to do.

In a story that has a lot of the usual dystopian subplots about questioning the role of government and existing social norms I find I am not quite convinced the Towers Trilogy so far does more than give this a passing nod. While Xhea is a character without the traditional and magical forms of power and prestige in this world and Shai is her polar opposite I think this dialogue is buried in the adventure. I felt in the first book Xhea’s struggle to find a way to survive in the system and her struggles as a disadvantaged person came through clearly. In Defiant Xhea is too easily distracted by the scars a lifetime of struggling leaves even after you gain access to some form of power. I would also argue that Shai hasn’t really had to struggle to come to terms with her privilege. Her development of a noblesse oblige in this novel is a little too cotton candy for me. It leaves me feeling like I need something more. Maybe I am asking for too much, but I think given the level of skill the author has presented so far I don’t think it is outside the realm of the possible.

Again, I really enjoyed Defiant. The world building and pacing so far are superb.





Previously

Radiant
Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Review: Defiant by Karina Sumner-Smith
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.


See Brandon's review here.

The View From Monday ... on Tuesday - May 12, 2015


Happy not Monday! I had a big RL thing yesterday so didn't get to this week's release list. But here it is today.

There are 3 debuts out today:

Love Is Red (The Nightsong Trilogy 1) by Sophie Jaff;

Apex by Aer-ki Jyr;

and

Archangel by Marguerite Reed.



And this week from formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Authors:

Mother of Eden (Dark Eden 2) by Chris Beckett;

Strange Country (Hallie Michaels 3) by Deborah Coates is out in Trade Paperback;

The Big Fix (Ciel Halligan 3) by Linda Grimes;

Nightlife: Hazardous Material by Matthew Quinn Martin;

The Undying: Shades: An Apocalyptic Thriller by Ethan Reid;

and

Defiant (Towers Trilogy 2) by Karina Sumner-Smith.


The View From Monday ... on Tuesday - May 12, 2015


May 11, 2015
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Nightlife: Hazardous Material (e) Matthew Quinn Martin H - Nightlife novella



May 12, 2015
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume Four Daniel Abraham F/GN
Mother of Eden Chris Beckett SF - Dark Eden 2
The Forgotten Room Lincoln Child Th - Dr. Jeremy Logan 4
Strange Country (h2tp) Deborah Coates CF - Hallie Michaels 3
The Outer Harbour Wayde Compton SpecFic - Collection
A Dance of Chaos David Dalglish F - Shadowdance 6
Under a Blood Moon (e) Delilah Devlin PNR - Beaux Rève Coven
Dreams of Shreds and Tatters Amanda Downum UF
Dark Screams: Volume Three (e) Brian James Freeman (ed)
Richard Chizmar (ed)
H- Anthology
The Midnight Order (Ke) Christopher Fulbright H
The Confabulist (h2tp) Steven Galloway LF
The Big Fix Linda Grimes UF - Ciel Halligan 3
Gotrek & Felix: Slayer David Guymer F - The Doom of Gotrek Gurnisson 2
The Rise of the Horned Rat Guy Haley F - Warhammer: The End Times 4
The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (ri) Russell Hoban F
Love Is Red (D) Sophie Jaff LF/Su/RS/H - The Nightsong Trilogy 1
Apex (D) Aer-ki Jyr SF/SO
Born of Defiance Sherrilyn Kenyon CF - The League 9
Goddess of Buttercups & Daisies Martin Millar F
Apex Ramez Naam SF - Nexus Arc 3
The Two of Swords: Part Four (e) K. J. Parker F - Two of Swords
The Bees (h2tp) Laline Paull LF
Where Kit Reed SF
Archangel (D) Marguerite Reed SF
The Undying: Shades: An Apocalyptic Thriller (e) Ethan Reid Ap/Th/Z - Undying Series
Retribution (e) Katie Reus PNR
Starbase Human (Ke) Kristine Kathryn Rusch SF - Retrieval Artist Universe: Anniversary Day Saga 7
The Guild of Saint Cooper Shya Scanlon LF/Ap/AH
Boo Neil Smith LF/CoA/Gh
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Nine Jonathan Strahan (ed) SF - Anthology
Defiant Karina Sumner-Smith F/P - Towers Trilogy 2
Post-Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven Antoine Volodine LF/PA
Highlander Redeemed Laurin Wittig HistR - Guardians of the Targe 3
Points of Departure: Liavek Stories Patricia C. Wrede
Pamela Dean
SF - Short Stories



May 13, 2015
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Firestorm Forever (e) Deborah Cooke PNR - Dragonfire 11
Elephants and Corpses: A Tor.Com Original (e) Kameron Hurley F



May 14, 2015
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Equilibrium: Episode 3 CS Sealey F



May 15, 2015
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Giallo Fantastique Ross E. Lockhart (ed) Cr/H/Su
Expiration Date Nancy Kilpatrick (ed) F - Anthology



May 16, 2015
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Star Trek Universe: Franchising the Final Frontier Douglas Brode (ed)
Shea T. Brode (ed)
HC/SF - Anthology
Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek: The Original Cast Adventures Douglas Brode (ed)
Shea T. Brode (ed)
HC/SF - Anthology



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


AH - Alternate History
Ap - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
F - Fantasy
Gh - Ghost
GN - Graphic Novel
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
HistR - Historical Romance
LF - Literary Fiction
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PNR - Paranormal Romance
RS - Romantic Suspense
SF - Science Fiction
SO - Space Opera
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
Su - Supernatural
UF - Urban Fantasy
Z - Zombies

Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith


Radiant
AuthorKarina Sumner-Smith
Series:  Towers Trilogy 1
Publisher:  Talos, September 30, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781940456102 (print)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.


Brandon's Review

Radiant: Towers Trilogy Book One, a debut novel by Karina Sumner-Smith, lives up to its name. When I reached the last page of the story I kept trying to turn the page as if that would make it lead directly into the next book in the trilogy that hasn’t been released yet. Sadly, this didn’t work.

Radiant is a story that explores class differences and issues of privilege as Xhea struggles to survive in the ruins of an unnamed future metropolis. A City floats above the ruins powered by the magic generated by its citizens. Those born without the magical clout to rise above are left to scrabble for the leavings of the past in collapsed buildings as they avoid walkers at night. Xhea is born without the simplest magic, which she has turned into a career as someone who can explore ruins beneath the surface of the earth that pains regular magic users too much to contemplate. She has another unique attribute in that she can see ghosts. One of her clients would like a break from the ghost that is trailing him and we meet Shai, a powerful ghost, who befriends Xhea and together they must decide whether their own survival is more important than that of the City above them.

This is a story that I had no trouble getting deep into and feeling as if the terror, hunger, and pride were struggles I was feeling. Having grown up in a family that faced its share of financial troubles and facing long periods of physical harassment for being different I could identify with Xhea’s need to be the independent loner who hungers deeply for some kind of connection to normalcy. Great pacing in this novel makes it an easy read with enough difference in voice and subject matter to differentiate it from other dystopian future novels out there. I do hope the author spends a little more time developing the issues of privilege that are endemic to this struggle and Shai’s perspective on the trials the two are facing together in the next book.





Look for Brandon's review of Defiant (Towers Trilogy 2) on May 6th.

Defiant
Towers Trilogy 2
Talos, May 12, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith
Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.

In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side?but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.

War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds; rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize?nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.

Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war?or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn't destroy them first.

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18


This is the eighteenth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their upcoming 2015 books. This update covers some of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge authors. What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 19 will cover additional 2014 DAC authors and additional 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
See Part 6 here
See Part 7 here
See Part 8 here
See Part 9 here
See Part 10 here
See Part 11 here
See Part 12 here
See Part 13 here
See Part 14 here
See Part 15 here
See Part 16 here
See Part 17 here


What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18




Jamie Schultz

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18
Splintered
Arcane Underworld 2
Roc, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

The author of Premonitions continues his Arcane Underworld saga…

Anna Ruiz is on a mission: Help her friend and partner-in-crime Karyn Ames break free of the tangle of hallucinations and premonitions that have cut her off from reality. With the aid of her crew—ex-soldier Nail and sorcerer Genevieve—she’ll do whatever it takes to get Karyn help, even if it means tracking down every lowlife informant and back alley magic practitioner in the occult underworld of Los Angeles.

But since a magical heist went to hell, the crew has been working for crimelord and doomed magus Enoch Sobell. Between fighting Sobell’s battles with some seriously scary demonic forces and tangling with a group of violent fanatics who want to manipulate Karyn’s abilities for their own gains, Anna, Nail, and Genevieve are beginning to realize they’re in way over their heads.
And now that Karyn’s secret about seeing the future is out, even more unpleasant parties—human and otherwise—are about to come knocking…





Mark Smylie

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18
Black Heart
The Barrow 2
Pyr, August 4, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 800 pages

The last survivors of the raid on the Barrow of Azharad have scattered to the four winds, each walking a separate path. For some, it is the path of noble service, as the households of great kings and warlords beckon, offering a chance to enter the fray of politics with the fate of nations on the line. For others, it is the path of secrets and magic, as the veil of the world parts to reveal the hidden truths that dwell in shadow and spirit.

And for Stjepan Black-Heart, royal cartographer and suspected murderer, it is the path of battle and sacrifice, as he is summoned to attend the household of the Grand Duke Owen Lis Red, the Earl Marshal to the High King of the Middle Kingdoms, on his latest campaign to find and kill Porloss, the Rebel Earl: an elusive quarry lurking behind an army of ruthless renegade knights in the wild hills of the Manon Mole, a land where every step could be your last, and where lie secrets best left undisturbed.





Brian Staveley

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18
The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2
Tor Books, January 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 608 pages

The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.

Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace is search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.





Adam Sternbergh

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18
Near Enemy
Spademan 2
Crown, January 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

The Taut, Unflinching New Thriller from Adam Sternbergh, Author of the Critically-Acclaimed Shovel Ready
 
New York is toxic—decimated by a dirty bomb years ago.  The limnosphere is a virtual safe haven—if you’re rich enough to buy in.  Spademan is a hit man—box-cutter at the ready.

His latest job is to snuff out Lesser, a lowlife lurking around other people’s fantasies.  As Spademan is about to close the deal, Lesser comes back from the limn with a wild claim: terrorists are planning to attack New York. Again. This time from the inside out.

The warning sends Spademan down a dark path full of unsavory characters and startling revelations.  A shadowy political fixer tells him of a long-running power struggle that goes all the way to City Hall.  A brilliant Egyptian radical brings Spademan to the mysterious far-reaches of the limn.  And a beautiful nurse holds the secret to what, and who, is behind these attacks—and she seems to want to help Spademan stop them.  But he works best alone.  Or so he thinks.

Spademan has always had his share of enemies, but now they’re coming at him from all sides and it’s impossible to know whom to trust.  To stay sharp, his only option might be the one thing he swore he’d never do again.





Karina Sumner-Smith

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18
Defiant
Towers Trilogy 2
Talos, May 5, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.

In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side?but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.

War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds; rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize?nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.

Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war?or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn't destroy them first.



Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014


Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014


Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future
Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough

(I recently pulled fellow author Karina Sumner-Smith into a chat about dystopias, and whether or not we should be writing more hopeful futures. Transcript follows…- Jason)

Jason Hough: I guess we should begin at the beginning. How do you define a Dystopia? The dictionary says "the opposite of a Utopia" and I feel like that's a matter of perspective, from the characters POV’s.

Karina Sumner-Smith: Dystopias are, I think, very much about character perspective. A dystopia is an undesirable society or community, but “undesirable” means different things to different people – just as your vision of utopia could be very different from mine.

But given the popularity of dystopian YA fiction in recent years, I think that the word “dystopia” makes readers think of certain things. Totalitarian governments. Rebellion against the system. A rigid system that controls personal choice. I’d say these things are a reflection of our times – a sign of what our society thinks of as frightening. Probably, in no small part because those are things that we can see or imagine happening in our own lives. They’re the patterns of society taken to extremes.

Jason Hough: Maybe it's, at least in many cases, simply the antagonist's utopia. Or at least, on that trajectory.

Karina Sumner-Smith: That's a good point, the antagonist's utopia creating the main character's dystopia. Do you think that a dystopia needs to be paired with a utopian society to be successful? I note that we've both done something similar in our works.

Jason Hough: I'm not sure it needs to be, though it seems realistic that there's at least someone living the good life when everyone else is suffering. Otherwise it probably becomes a post-apocalyptic tale. You can see this with North Korea, where most everyone lives in terrible conditions, except those in power - they probably think it's a pretty good setup.

I've seen a lot of chatter lately that SF/F and YA are too focused on Dystopias, that it's depressing, that we have some kind of duty to write about happy futures. What's your reaction to that?

Karina Sumner-Smith: On a base level, I don't think writers have a duty to write about *anything*. There are no mandatory subjects! Of course, we are influenced by the dictates of the market – or, more importantly, what audiences are interested in reading.

But this idea that people are required to have happy stories to feel positive about the future is, frankly, frustrating. Not because I'm against positive or hopeful tales – anything but! – but because it implies something about the nature of story, and what those stories are supposed to do. Stories are to entertain. Stories need to connect with an audience, and to do that, we often reflect things that are concerning to us as authors and as citizens. Literature is a reflection of our times, focused through each author's unique lens.

Jason Hough: I agree. And I think if it's a trend recently it's for a complex set of reasons. Some highly successful books made it a market the publishers want to tap into, for starters. Real-world events, and not just Snowden's revelations about surveillance, pile in there, too. It makes sense to me that our fiction would reflect such things. The "hopeful" SF mostly came out of the space-race era, when everyone thought we'd be all over the solar system by now. Besides, these things are cyclical.

Karina Sumner-Smith: Personally, I find that darker stories create great opportunity for contrast. Characters finding hope and light in the most challenging situations is, for me, more rewarding.

Jason Hough: Yes, yes! That's very important. Drama is conflict, and a setting that starts out at rock bottom is definitely cued up for a lot of that.

Karina Sumner-Smith: Is that what drew you towards writing post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories, the potential for conflict?

Jason Hough: Exactly that. I had been thinking about a space elevator, and how, unlike launching rockets which can happen from just about anywhere, the elevator has a very specific geographic location. A spot that would be controlled, managed, and fought over. I loved the idea of having an apocalyptic event on the ground, leaving things wretched below and still very utopian up above, but everyone still reliant on one another. The funny thing is I never really saw it as dystopian until after it came out and people started saying it. My goal was to have characters act like complex human beings, instead of all banding together. Even in a desperate situation, there are still people who are power hungry, greedy, and petty.

Karina Sumner-Smith: I know that one of the things I love in such stories is seeing what's left behind – infrastructure, environment, and people. An apocalyptic or other drastic scenario is an interesting way to pry into both human nature and the workings of our society. Who are we when everything else has fallen into ruin?

Jason Hough: Yeah, it definitely strips us down to our core. I love apocalypse stories for that reason to. "All the power goes out" type settings are always fascinating, especially because they make us examine our own situation. As an aside, I think it’s funny that people do thought-experiments about how to deal with the apocalypse, but not a dystopia. I guess it's easier to wrap our minds around a single, horrible event rather than a slow crawl into some oppressive governance situation?

Karina Sumner-Smith: Easier, for sure. One is a sudden wrenching change from "normal", while the other lets normal life continue, with little incremental changes. Societal change towards a dystopia would, I think, be very much like the frog in boiling water.

I have to laugh because the book beside me is a non-fiction title, THE DISASTER DIARIES: ONE MAN'S QUEST TO LEARN EVERYTHING NECESSARY TO SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE.

Jason Hough: That sounds interesting. Useful for research! I keep the SAS SURVIVAL GUIDE on the shelf near my desk for the same reason.

Karina Sumner-Smith: What about other works in the genre? If you say "dystopian," people think of HUNGER GAMES or DIVERGENT, but post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature have been part of SFF for years. Do you have any favorites on your shelf?

Jason Hough: 1984 is the classic, to me. What are your favorites?

Karina Sumner-Smith: I have piles. I’ve definitely drawn inspiration from one of my favorite authors, Sean Stewart, in that. He has a few novels about what happens after a magical apocalypse, GALVESTON and THE NIGHT WATCH being my favorites. There's also some excellent short fiction – Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” is a quintessential utopian/dystopian tale for me. For anthologies, Datlow/Windling’s AFTER and John Joseph Adams' WASTELANDS are two great ones that come to mind.

Jason Hough: Nice! In the apocalypse realm I'd have to go with Robert R. McCammon's SWAN SONG, and for post-apoc I really love Stephen King's DARK TOWER series.

Karina Sumner-Smith: Where do you think the dividing line is between those two sub-genres, dystopian and post-apocalyptic? Or is there one? Does any apocalypse story, with enough time/distance, necessarily become a dystopia?

Jason Hough: I'm not sure they're mutually exclusive. Post-apocalypse is about survival after an apocalyptic event. Dystopia, to me, really just describes a current state of living for the protagonist(s) as being a very undesirable situation – from the reader's perspective, not necessarily the character. The frog in boiling water analogy you mentioned is great, because in a post-apocalyptic story set well after whatever calamity brought us to that point, the people living in that time might not see it as necessarily terrible. It's what they're used to.

Karina Sumner-Smith: I think there's also something to be said about the scope of the story. One woman living out in the edge of nowhere, twenty years after the end of the world, would likely still have a post-apocalyptic style and tone, whereas a story about a community or attempts to rebuild 6 months after a disaster would likely trend towards dystopian.

Jason Hough: Definitely.

Karina Sumner-Smith: But lots of folks in a dystopian society also see their situation as normal. That sense of hopelessness or inevitability often weighs down many, whereas the main character might see things a little differently.

Jason Hough: What about hopeful SF? Any favorites? I'm kind of chuckling here because most of the ones I can think of are all about settling other worlds, which is sort of a cop-out in the hope department, really. Yeah, it's hopeful, but only because we left all of Earth's crap behind and are starting over!

Karina Sumner-Smith: I think that some of the most hopeful SF stories are, to me, not about the process of settling new worlds or making new discoveries, but those in which humanity is already spread across the stars and keeps expanding. I love a good space adventure, like Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan novels. I've also been eying James A. Corey's LEVIATHAN WAKES, which is sitting near the top of my to-read pile. I've heard great things ... though I can't say how hopeful it is.

Jason Hough: Ah, well Corey's is quite epic and has lots of different settings and situations. I'm on the second book of a planned nine, so I haven't reached the part yet where there's much hope.

Karina Sumner-Smith: I think that the challenge in writing really interesting hopeful fiction, is finding a conflict that feels true and real on a wide scale within that sort of society. Of course, SF doesn't always have to have such a huge scope – there are lots of smaller, interesting character stories that could be set against that background.

Jason Hough: Absolutely agree. Look at Andy Weir's THE MARTIAN. One guy on Mars, struggling to survive. It's both hopeful and intensely small in scope.

Karina Sumner-Smith: I want to read that one! So, Jason, what’s next for you? Are you staying in the realm of post-apocalyptic and dystopian SF?

Jason Hough: My next book has more of a Cold War vibe. So I suppose it's neither, but on the cusp of becoming one or both. How about you?

Karina Sumner-Smith: After finishing the Towers Trilogy, I'm hoping to write a very different kind of fantasy disaster novel, something quieter and more personal (though, of course, I love big explosions). SFF is so broad, there are lots of ideas and stories I'd like to explore – but I think there's something compelling in dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction that will keep me coming back for more, even if it's just a short story or two.

Jason Hough: It is compelling. I'm not tired of it at all, despite the supposed saturation in the genre lately.

Karina Sumner-Smith: Like you said, everything is cyclical.

Jason Hough: Maybe the really scary future is when the Universe stops being so.





The Authors

Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014
Photo by Lindy Sumner-Smith
Karina Sumner-Smith is a fantasy author and freelance writer. Her debut novel, Radiant, was published by Talos/Skyhorse in September 2014, with the second and third books in the trilogy to follow in 2015. Prior to focusing on novel-length work, Karina published a range of fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories, including Nebula Award nominated story “An End to All Things,” and ultra-short story “When the Zombies Win,” which appeared in two Best of the Year anthologies. Visit her at karinasumnersmith.com.


Website  ~  Twitter @ksumnersmith  ~  Goodreads  ~  Pinterest



Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014
Photo by Nathan Hough
Jason M. Hough is the New York Times bestselling author of The Darwin Elevator (Del Rey, 2013), and two more books in the Dire Earth Cycle. Before becoming a full-time writer he designed video games, did 3D modeling and animation, and worked on machine learning software that optimizes battery life for mobile phones. His latest release is The Dire Earth, a novella prequel to The Darwin Elevator. Visit him at jasonhough.com


Website  ~  Twitter @JasonMHough  ~  Facebook  ~  G+  ~  Blog






The Books

Radiant
Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.




The Dire Earth Cycle

The Darwin Elevator
The Dire Earth Cycle 1
Del Rey, July 30, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014
Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi.

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.


The Exodus Towers
The Dire Earth Cycle 2
Del Rey, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014
The Exodus Towers features all the high-octane action and richly imagined characters of The Darwin Elevator—only the stakes have never been higher.

The sudden appearance of a second space elevator in Brazil only deepens the mystery about the aliens who provided it: the Builders. Scavenger crew captain Skyler Luiken and brilliant scientist Dr. Tania Sharma have formed a colony around the new Elevator’s base, utilizing mobile towers to protect humans from the Builders’ plague. But they are soon under attack from a roving band of plague-immune soldiers. Cut off from the colony, Skyler must wage a one-man war against the new threat as well as murderous subhumans and thugs from Darwin—all while trying to solve the puzzle of the Builders’ master plan . . . before it’s too late for the last vestiges of humanity.


The Plague Forge
The Dire Earth Cycle 3
Del Rey, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014
The Plague Forge delivers an unbeatable combination of knockout action and kick-ass characters as the secrets to the ultimate alien mystery from The Darwin Elevator and The Exodus Towers are about to be unraveled.

The hunt is on for the mysterious keys left by the alien Builders. While Skyler’s team of immune scavengers scatters around the disease-ravaged globe in search of the artifacts, Skyler himself finds much more than he expected in the African desert, where he stumbles upon surprising Builder relics—and thousands of bloodthirsty subhumans. From the slums and fortresses of Darwin to the jungles of Brazil and beyond, Skyler and company are in for a wild ride, jam-packed with daunting challenges, run-and-gun adventure, and unexpected betrayals—all in a race against time to finally answer the great questions that have plagued humanity for decades: Who are the Builders, and what do they want with Earth?


The Dire Earth
The Dire Earth Novella
Del Rey, November 18, 2014
eNovella, 124 pages

Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014
Jason M. Hough goes back to the beginning with this eBook exclusive novella, the prequel to the New York Times bestseller The Darwin Elevator. An indispensable introduction to a trilogy wrought with action, imagination, and mystery, The Dire Earth is sure to thrill new readers and diehard fans alike.

In the middle of the twenty-third century, an inexplicable disease engulfs the globe, leaving a trail of madness and savagery in its wake. Dutch air force pilot Skyler Luiken discovers he is immune to the disease when he returns from a mission to find the world in chaos, but he soon realizes that he’s not the only one to have endured the apocalypse. Elsewhere, the roguish Skadz, the cunning Nigel, and the tough-as-nails Samantha each make their way toward the last remaining bastion of sanity: Darwin, Australia, home to a mysterious alien artifact that may hold the key to the survival of the human race.

Interview with Karina Sumner-Smith, author of Radiant - October 7, 2014


Please welcome Karina Sumner-Smith to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Radiant, the first in the Towers Trilogy, was published on September 30, 2014 by Talos.



Interview with Karina Sumner-Smith, author of Radiant - October 7, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Karina:  I started writing seriously when I was thirteen, after falling into a writing “flow state” for the very first time. The real world fell away; I was truly in the fantasy world of my imagining, seeing the characters, listening to them talk – and scribbling as fast as I could to keep up. I’d never experienced anything like it before. I decided then and there that I was going to be an author, and started trying to get published shortly thereafter. (Of course, the journey from there to here took twenty years!)



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Karina:  Pantser. I actually think that many authors’ processes rightly belong somewhere between those two extremes, but I definitely live near the pantsing end of the scale. I do enjoy freewriting about a scene or character before diving into the next big story arc, but find that my experience is more like driving into the light from a car’s headlights than having a map for the whole trip.



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

Karina:  Finding the discipline to write consistently – especially on those days when the words refuse to flow.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Karina:  Oh, so many! When I was learning to write, I studied the works of Octavia Butler and Sean Stewart, trying to figure out what made their books so elegant and captivating. Usually, though, I’d just end up caught up in the story again, and forget to analyze entirely.

While I try to read widely, my heart truly lives in the fantasy genre. A few of my current favorites include Robin McKinley, Guy Gavriel Kay, Daryl Gregory, Michelle Sagara, Laini Taylor, and Mike Carey.



TQ:  Describe Radiant in 140 characters or less.

Karina:  A homeless girl in a magic-run city attempts to save the ghost of a girl who hasn’t died.



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

Karina:  At its heart, Radiant is the story of a very unlikely friendship that develops between two young women. There are so many things about the world that I hope to explore in more detail in future works, but this is really a character story about love and sacrifice and the connection between two people from wildly different places and backgrounds.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Radiant? Please tell us a bit about how your magical system works in Radiant.

KarinaRadiant is actually based on a short story I published a number of years ago, “An End to All Things.” It was written in a blaze of inspiration – but even after it was published, the characters stayed with me. I knew that there was more to Xhea and Shai’s story, and more to their world. Since I don’t plot my work out in advance, the only way to know what happened next was to keep writing.

As for the magical system, the novel takes place in a world where everything runs on magic. Magic is currency and identification; you need magic to open doors, to buy food, to call a taxi.
Everyone generates some magic – some just a little, some in unthinkable quantity – but the magic that your body creates is something that you cannot change. Being rich is not a thing you earn, it’s a thing that you are, while poverty is literally in your blood. And into this world comes Xhea, the main character, who has no magic at all.



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

Karina:  My favorite kind: all about the apocalypse! While the novel itself takes place many years after a new civilization has risen from the ruins of our world, much of the story is set in the Lower City, where people live in crumbling buildings on the ground rather than in the floating Towers above. I wanted to get all those little details of decay and destruction right – and make sure that any deviations from what “should” happen were planned consequences of the world and its magic, rather than accidents.

The workings of the City and Lower City were also very much influenced by the daily news. Radiant is a fantasy novel, yes, but it’s also all about poverty and economics and corporate warfare. (And ghosts. Lots of magic and ghosts.)



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

Karina:  I think that the easiest and hardest both was Xhea, the main character. In some ways, writing from Xhea’s point of view was effortless; the ways she saw her world, the rhythms of her thoughts and voice, were always so clear to me. Yet her life had never been an easy one, and her character was definitely shaped by her years of poverty and ostracization. It was a tough balance trying to write the character authentically – her mistrust and defensive reactions and the hurt underneath it all – while still trying to keep her accessible and sympathetic for the reader.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoliery lines from Radiant.

Karina:

Before her the ground was black and grey, the cracked roadway darkened by the shadow of her bowed head and slumped shoulders. She stared at the image she cast—no face, no will, only a puppet to the sun’s slow fall. Just the shape of a girl where no light fell.



TQ:  What's next?

KarinaRadiant is the first in a trilogy, and books two and three, Defiant and Towers Fall, are both due out in 2015. I’m so excited to share these stories, and hope that Xhea and Shai find readers who love them as much as I do.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Karina:  Thank you for having me!





Radiant
Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Karina Sumner-Smith, author of Radiant - October 7, 2014
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.





About Karina

Interview with Karina Sumner-Smith, author of Radiant - October 7, 2014
Photo by Lindy Sumner-Smith
Karina Sumner-Smith is a fantasy author and freelance writer. Her debut novel, Radiant, will be published by Talos/Skyhorse in September 2014, with the second and third books in the trilogy following in 2015.

Prior to focusing on novel-length work, Karina published a range of fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories, including Nebula Award nominated story “An End to All Things,” and ultra short story “When the Zombies Win,” which appeared in two Best of the Year anthologies.

Though she still thinks of Toronto as her home, Karina now lives in a small, lakefront community in rural Ontario, Canada, where she may be found lost in a book, dancing in the kitchen, or planning her next great adventure.



Website  ~  Twitter @ksumnersmith  ~  Goodreads  ~  Pinterest

2014 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts





There are 13 debuts (so far) for September. Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The September 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 September cover for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on September 15th.

If you are participating as a reader in the Challenge, please let us know in the comments what you are thinking of reading or email us at "DAC . TheQwillery  @  gmail . com" (remove the spaces and quotation marks). Please note that we list all debuts for the month (of which we are aware), but not all of these authors will be 2014 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for September. The list is correct as of the day posted.




Siobhan Adcock

The Barter
Dutton Adult, September 4, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

A heart-stopping tale as provocative as is suspenseful, about two conflicted women, separated by one hundred years, and bound by an unthinkable sacrifice.

The Barter is a ghost story and a love story, a riveting emotional tale that also explores motherhood and work and feminism. Set in Texas, in present day, and at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel follows two young mothers at the turning point of their lives.

Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter, joining a cadre of stay-at-home mothers seeking fulfillment in a quiet suburb. But for Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. And now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it.

On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good.

As Siobhan Adcock crosscuts these stories with mounting tension, each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families—and themselves? Readers will slow down to enjoy the gorgeous language, then speed up to see what happens next in a plot that thrums with the weight of decision—and its explosive consequences.




Maria Alexander

Mr. Wicker
Raw Dog Screaming Press, September 16, 20414
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 236 pages

Alicia Baum is missing a deadly childhood memory.

Located beyond life, The Library of Lost Childhood Memories holds the answer. The Librarian is Mr. Wicker — a seductive yet sinister creature with an unthinkable past and an agenda just as lethal. After committing suicide, Alicia finds herself before the Librarian, who informs her that her lost memory is not only the reason she took her life, but the cause of every bad thing that has happened to her.

Alicia spurns Mr. Wicker and attempts to enter the hereafter without the Book that would make her spirit whole. But instead of the oblivion she craves, she finds herself in a psychiatric hold at Bayford Hospital, where the staff is more pernicious than its patients.

Child psychiatrist Dr. James Farron is researching an unusual phenomenon: traumatized children whisper to a mysterious figure in their sleep. When they awaken, they forget both the traumatic event and the character that kept them company in their dreams — someone they call “Mr. Wicker.”

During an emergency room shift, Dr. Farron hears an unconscious Alicia talking to Mr. Wicker—the first time he’s heard of an adult speaking to the presence. Drawn to the mystery, and then to each other, they team up to find the memory before it annihilates Alicia for good. To do so they must struggle not only against Mr. Wicker’s passions, but also a powerful attraction that threatens to derail her search, ruin Dr. Farron’s career, and inflame the Librarian’s fury.

After all, Mr. Wicker wants Alicia to himself, and will destroy anyone to get what he wants. Even Alicia herself.




Chloe Benjamin

The Anatomy of Dreams
Atria Books, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook,  320 pages

Long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

“A sly, promising and ambitious debut.” —Publishers Weekly

“Chloe Benjamin is a great new talent.” —Lorrie Moore, author of Bark: Stories

It’s 1998, and Sylvie Patterson, a bookish student at a Northern California boarding school, falls in love with a spirited, elusive classmate named Gabe. Their headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, is a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming: By teaching his patients to become conscious during sleep, he helps them to relieve stress and heal from trauma. Over the next six years, Sylvie and Gabe become consumed by Keller’s work, following him from the redwood forests of Eureka, California, to the enchanting New England coast.

But when an opportunity brings the trio to the Midwest, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled relationship with their mysterious neighbors—and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller’s research, recognizing the harm that can be wrought under the guise of progress. As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn’t, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself: an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia, and a new sense of rebellion.

In stirring, elegant prose, Benjamin’s tale exposes the slippery nature of trust—and the immense power of our dreams.




Deborah Blake

Wickedly Dangerous
A Baba Yaga Novel 1
Berkley, September 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
(Fiction Debut)

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…




Beth Cato

The Clockwork Dagger
Harper Voyager, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.




Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician
The Paper Magician 1
47North, September 1, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook,224 pages

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.




Sylvia Izzo Hunter

The Midnight Queen
A Noctis Magicae Novel 1
Ace, September 2, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…




Peyton Marshall

Goodhouse
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 30, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

A bighearted dystopian novel about the corrosive effects of fear and the redemptive power of love.

With soaring literary prose and the tense pacing of a thriller, the first-time novelist Peyton Marshall imagines a grim and startling future. At the end of the twenty-first century—in a transformed America—the sons of convicted felons are tested for a set of genetic markers. Boys who test positive become compulsory wards of the state—removed from their homes and raised on "Goodhouse" campuses, where they learn to reform their darkest thoughts and impulses. Goodhouse is a savage place—part prison, part boarding school—and now a radical religious group, the Holy Redeemer’s Church of Purity, is intent on destroying each campus and purifying every child with fire.

We see all this through the eyes of James, a transfer student who watched as the radicals set fire to his old Goodhouse and killed nearly everyone he’d ever known. In addition to adjusting to a new campus with new rules, James now has to contend with Bethany, a brilliant, medically fragile girl who wants to save him, and with her father, the school’s sinister director of medical studies. Soon, however, James realizes that the biggest threat might already be there, inside the fortified walls of Goodhouse itself.

Partly based on the true story of the nineteenth-century Preston School of Industry, Goodhouse explores questions of identity and free will—and what it means to test the limits of human endurance.




Lauren Oliver

Rooms
Ecco, September 23, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
(Adult Debut)

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.




Carol J. Perry

Caught Dead Handed
A Witch City Mystery 1
Kensington, September 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
(Adult Debut)

She's not a psychic--she just plays one on TV.

Most folks associate the city of Salem, Massachusetts with witches, but for Lee Barrett, it's home. This October she's returned to her hometown--where her beloved Aunt Ibby still lives--to interview for a job as a reporter at WICH-TV. But the only opening is for a call-in psychic to host the late night horror movies. It seems the previous host, Ariel Constellation, never saw her own murder coming.

Lee reluctantly takes the job, but when she starts seeing real events in the obsidian ball she's using as a prop, she wonders if she might really have psychic abilities. To make things even spookier, it's starting to look like Ariel may have been an actual practicing witch--especially when O'Ryan, the cat Lee and Aunt Ibby inherited from her, exhibits some strange powers of his own. With Halloween fast approaching, Lee must focus on unmasking a killer--or her career as a psychic may be very short lived. . .




Gregory Sherl

The Future for Curious People
Algonquin Books, September 2, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

“Comic and Exuberant . . . A fine and tender tale for anyone who has tried to let go of the past and envision the future while falling in love.” —Rhonda Riley, author of The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope

What if you could know your romantic future? What if an envisionist could enter the name of your prospective mate into a computer that would show you a film of your future life together?

In The Future for Curious People, a young librarian named Evelyn becomes obsessed with this new technology: she can’t stop visiting Dr. Chin’s office because she needs to know that she’ll meet someone and be happy one day. Godfrey, another client, ends up at the envisionist’s office only because his fiancée insisted they know their fate before taking the plunge. But when Godfrey meets Evelyn in the waiting room, true love may be right in front of them, but they are too preoccupied—and too burdened by their pasts—to recognize it.

This smart, fresh love story, with its quirky twists and turns, ponders life’s big questions—about happiness, fate, and our very existence—as it follows Evelyn and Godfrey’s quest for the elusive answers.

“A love story about love stories . . . The pages burst with laugh-out-loud scenes and crisply original set-ups. I loved it!” —Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

“Somewhere between Jorge Luis Borge’s ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind you will find Gregory Sherl’s warm, intelligent debut novel.” —Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State

“Enormously appealing . . . Evelyn and Godfrey are two unforgettable characters you’ll root for and remember long after you’ve read the last page of this wildly  original, deeply moving novel.” —Mindy Friddle, author of Secret Keepers



Karina Sumner-Smith

Radiant
Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
Note: Radiant's publication date had been moved to
       October 7th and then to September 30.

Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.



Chrysler Szarlan

The Hawley Book of the Dead
Ballantine Books, September 23, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

For fans of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and A Discovery of Witches comes a brilliantly imagined debut novel brimming with rich history, suspense, and magic.

Revelation “Reve” Dyer grew up with her grandmother’s family stories, stretching back centuries to Reve’s ancestors, who founded the town of Hawley Five Corners, Massachusetts. Their history is steeped in secrets, for few outsiders know that an ancient magic runs in the Dyer women’s blood, and that Reve is a magician whose powers are all too real.

Reve and her husband are world-famous Las Vegas illusionists. They have three lovely young daughters, a beautiful home, and what seems like a charmed life. But Reve’s world is shattered when an intruder alters her trick pistol and she accidentally shoots and kills her beloved husband onstage.

Fearing for her daughters’ lives, Reve flees with them to the place she has always felt safest—an antiquated farmhouse in the forest of Hawley Five Corners, where the magic of her ancestors reigns, and her oldest friend—and first love—is the town’s chief of police. Here, in the forest, with its undeniable air of enchantment, Reve hopes she and her girls will be protected.

Delving into the past for answers, Reve is drawn deeper into her family’s legends. What she discovers is The Hawley Book of the Dead, an ancient leather-bound journal holding mysterious mythic power. As she pieces together the truth behind the book, Reve will have to shield herself and her daughters against an uncertain, increasingly dangerous fate. For soon it becomes clear that the stranger who upended Reve’s life in Las Vegas has followed her to Hawley—and that she has something he desperately wants.

Brimming with rich history, suspense, and magic, The Hawley Book of the Dead is a brilliantly imagined debut novel from a riveting new voice.




Angus Watson

Age of Iron
Iron Age Trilogy 1
Orbit, September 2, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 576 pages

LEGENDS AREN'T BORN. THEY'RE MADE.

Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary traveling south to join up with King Zadar's army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people.

First Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar's most fearsome warriors, who has vowed revenge on the king for her sister's execution.

Now Dug's on the wrong side of the thousands-strong army he hoped to join ­-- and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one small child, and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that might get them all killed . . .




2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith


2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.


Karina Sumner-Smith

Radiant
Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 23, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.


Note: This is the actual cover!


What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 29Review:  Towers Fall by Karina Sumner-SmithReview: Defiant by Karina Sumner-SmithThe View From Monday ... on Tuesday - May 12, 2015Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-SmithWhat's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18Cross-interview: Dystopias and Hope for the Future with Karina Sumner-Smith and Jason M. Hough - December 18, 2014Interview with Karina Sumner-Smith, author of Radiant - October 7, 20142014 Debut Author Challenge - September Debuts2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

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