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Interview with Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, author of The Root


Please welcome Na'amen Gobert Tilahun to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Root was published on June 7th by Night Shade Books.



Interview with Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, author of The Root




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Na'amen:  Thanks for inviting me! I started writing pretty young, just little things here and there. Not to toot my own horn but my self-made book (more short story) did get an honorable mention in my seventh grade literature contest. Try not to be too jealous. (P.S. My mom still has that book somewhere and really wants me to be famous so she can sell it on eBay.) I didn't get really serious about writing until college though.

As for why, well, I've always had stories in my head that I would tell, even just to myself. For example when I would walk home from night classes I would hear a noise and freak out over the normal things (like serial killers or clowns) but I would also wonder if maybe it was a newly turned werewolf that was going to maul me and then I would end up turned and the pack would take me away to some compound in Texas to train me in the ways of the wolf (this is an actual thought chain that resulted from one of those night walks). I figured if I was always going to e coming up with stories I should share them.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Na'amen:  I'm definitely a hybrid. I'd say 25% plotter & 75% pantser. I generally know where my characters are going to end up, and some of the scenes that I want to happen along the way but their journey to the end happens organically as I write. I feel like I learn more about my characters and the story as I write it which is part of the fun for me. Then I lean back and look at the big picture and try to make notes about the connections and themes I want to highlight in the first rewrite/edit session.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Na'amen:  Distractions. I am a total information nerd who is easily distracted which is an amazing/horrible combination. I'll start out working on the book and then click over to the internet to do a little bit of necessary research and then that triggers a thought and I’m researching an actor who played a bit part on some 80s sitcom for ten minutes and then there’s an article on women vikings and down the internet rabbit hole I go. I have a few tricks for motivating myself, mostly a reward system where for every 90 minutes of writing I get to either watch an episode of a show I’m currently hooked on (right now it’s Grace & Frankie or Veep) or read a chapter in the books I’m currently reading (right now it’s The Devourers by Indra Das or Golden Girls Forever by Jim Colucci).



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Na'amen:  Stories. I love stories, fiction or not, that’s where most of my influences come from. I have some favorite authors but more often you’ll hear me talking about favorite books or series because that’s what moved me, whatever was written on the page. It also doesn’t much matter to me the medium - books, graphic novels, TV, movies, music, plays, poetry - they all have positives and negatives but all of them can convey a wonderful story. Anything that affects me, influences me, because that’s what I want to do to my readers. I want to make them feel, I want them to care and I want them to be moved.

Some of the storytellers whose works have/do influence me are Octavia Butler, Rebecca Sugar, Sophie Campbell, Joanna Russ, Ntozake Shange, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Afua Richardson, Julie Taymor, Marjorie Liu, Ursula Vernon, Beyoncé and a whole lot more.



TQDescribe The Root in 140 characters or less.

Na'amen:  In The Root, urban and epic fantasy meet, a darkness devours worlds and our best hope are two damaged teenagers. We might be fucked.



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

Na'amen:  I try to play a lot with mythology and religion in the book. I identify as an atheist but I've always been fascinated by world religions. It was something I studied in college and since then on my own and so there's a lot merging of mythologies but also an attempt to keep things vague and shrouded in conflicting stories as the origins of most older religions tend to be. Plus the angels are biblical style, you know - balls of fire, goat-heads, mounds of eyes - none of the pretty Hollywood style angels here.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Root? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

Na'amen:  I've loved Urban Fantasy ever since I read Bordertown years ago. I love the idea of the mix of our world and magic, the ways this can be combined or go wrong is almost infinite. However I dislike Urban Fantasy that doesn’t actually feel urban. A lot of books are set in diverse cities but the only people we run into are straight white people, that was never my experience in a city and I wanted an Urban Fantasy that reflected my own lived experience. Also I wanted to explore/mess with the stereotype of the overly aggressive/violent black man and expand that simplistic idea into a three dimensional character and one of the heroes of the text.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Root? Why did you set the novel in San Francisco?

Na'amen:  Most of my research focused on my knowledge on religion and mythology. I read a lot of books on symbols and mystery cults and religious wars.

Growing up I spent my summers in San Francisco and I loved it so much when it was time to go to college I decided on SF State. While I'm sad and angry about the gentrification and other entitlement that has become so much a part of San Francisco in the last ten years I still love what it used to be and remember it fondly.

The first novel is establishing a lot and so doesn't tie into San Francisco as much and neither does the second novel because the majority of it takes place in an alternate dimension (though there are chapters that take place in San Francisco and other cities in our dimension). The third novel The Fruit is heavily San Francisco focused and I'm hoping to bring in a lot of the quirky, dark, interesting and fucked up local history that I know about the city into the work.



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

Na'amen:  Lil was easiest for me to write because there was a lot more distance between myself and her character. I was able to get a broader perspective on her wants and her choices. She’s a character I adore but our personalities are very different.

As for Erik, I wouldn’t say he’s me (I’m not 18 or a former TV star for two things) but I have more traits in common with Erik than any other character in the book and that made it more difficult to gain some perspective on him as a character. I would slip into having Erik do things that I would do in the situation rather than what Erik, with his completely different history, would do.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Root?

Na'amen:  My characters are definitely aware of social issues and acknowledge them. Erik especially is very aware of race and sexuality and how the attitudes of others has shaped his world. I didn’t want the focus of the story to be on his sexuality or race but leaving him ignorant of how these things affect him everyday would have just felt false and like I was pandering. I’m a queer black man in the western world and not a day goes by that I’m not reminded that I’m not “normal” and while I didn’t want to delve into that too deeply in this trilogy. I wanted to show how their identities affect each character, in fact there’s a scene towards the end where all the women and people of color in the room react to something that’s said about people’s places in the world & hierarchy but it’s subtle and most readers probably won’t notice it or tie it into identity if they haven’t experienced that.

That being said the story doesn’t deal with their identities directly very much because I wanted more of a story where the characters happen to be people of color and women and queer because that’s the real world. I wanted the story to be about people like me and my friends having a messed up, dark adventure.



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

Na'amen:  Why name it The Root?

Multiple Reasons.
-There’s a spoilery plot reason I won’t go into.
-The tree imagery ties into a lot of religions’ important stories.
-The phrase “put a root on someone”.



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

Na'amen:

“It’s a real world explanation. The real world is messy. What some people think of as truth isn’t necessarily true and sometimes there’s no objective truth at all.”



TQWhat's next?

Na'amen:  I'm working on the sequel for The Root, and second in the Wrath & Athenaeum trilogy, The Tree. It will be out June of next year. I'm also hard at work on two YA novels, one is a more contemporary supernatural story about family, black women ancestors and history called The Red Road Home. The other is a high fantasy about a young black girl raised by pirates who fights to be an astronaut called The Link Between Water and Sky.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Na'amen:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Root
A Novel of the Wrath & Athenaeum 1
Night Shade Books, June 7, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 420 pages

Interview with Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, author of The Root
A dark, gritty urban fantasy debut set in modern-day San Francisco, filled with gods, sinister government agencies, and worlds of dark magic hidden just below the surface.

When a secret government agency trying to enslave you isn’t the biggest problem you’re facing, you’re in trouble.

Erik, a former teen star living in San Francisco, thought his life was complicated; having his ex-boyfriend in jail because of the scandal that destroyed his career seemed overwhelming. Then Erik learned he was Blooded: descended from the Gods.

Struggling with a power he doesn’t understand and can barely control, Erik discovers that a secret government agency is selling off Blooded like lab rats to a rival branch of preternatural beings in ’Zebub—San Francisco’s mirror city in an alternate dimension.

Lil, a timid apprentice in ’Zebub, is searching for answers to her parents’ sudden and mysterious deaths. Surrounded by those who wish her harm and view her as a lesser being, Lil delves into a forgotten history that those in power will go to dangerous lengths to keep buried.

What neither Erik nor Lil realize is that a darkness is coming, something none have faced in living memory. It eats. It hunts. And it knows them. In The Root, the dark and surging urban fantasy debut from Na’amen Tilahun, two worlds must come together if even a remnant of one is to survive.





About Na'amen

Interview with Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, author of The Root
Na’amen Tilahun is a bookseller and freelance writer who split his early years between Los Angeles and San Francisco. His fiction, poetry, and critical writing are published across the web at io9.com, The Big Click, Full of Crows, Stone Telling and more. He is the cocreator and cohost of the geek podcast, The Adventures of Yellow Peril + Magical Negro. Follow him on Twitter at Naamenism (the name of the cult he one day hopes to start).







Website  ~  Twitter  @Naamenism


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Root by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Root by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


Na'amen Gobert Tilahun

The Root
A Novel of the Wrath & Athenaeum 1
Night Shade Books, June 7, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 420 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Root by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun
A dark, gritty urban fantasy debut set in modern-day San Francisco, filled with gods, sinister government agencies, and worlds of dark magic hidden just below the surface.

When a secret government agency trying to enslave you isn’t the biggest problem you’re facing, you’re in trouble.

Erik, a former teen star living in San Francisco, thought his life was complicated; having his ex-boyfriend in jail because of the scandal that destroyed his career seemed overwhelming. Then Erik learned he was Blooded: descended from the Gods.

Struggling with a power he doesn’t understand and can barely control, Erik discovers that a secret government agency is selling off Blooded like lab rats to a rival branch of preternatural beings in ’Zebub—San Francisco’s mirror city in an alternate dimension.

Lil, a timid apprentice in ’Zebub, is searching for answers to her parents’ sudden and mysterious deaths. Surrounded by those who wish her harm and view her as a lesser being, Lil delves into a forgotten history that those in power will go to dangerous lengths to keep buried.

What neither Erik nor Lil realize is that a darkness is coming, something none have faced in living memory. It eats. It hunts. And it knows them. In The Root, the dark and surging urban fantasy debut from Na’amen Tilahun, two worlds must come together if even a remnant of one is to survive.

Interview with Lisa Goldstein


Please welcome Lisa Goldstein to The Qwillery. Weighing Shadows was published by Night Shade Books on November 3, 2015.



Interview with Lisa Goldstein




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Lisa:  For some reason I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and I started writing pretty much as soon as I could read. When I was about five years old I wrote a story about someone waking up and finding snow on the ground outside -- a story I must have stolen from somewhere, since I grew up in Los Angeles.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Lisa:  Mostly a pantser. I wish I could be a plotter, since making things up as I go along means that I will sometimes end up with dangling plot-threads or an extra character or two, and then I have to go back and unravel entire sections of the manuscript. I did make a fairly complete outline for a book once, but I found that outlining took away a lot of the joy of discovery when I came to write it.



TQDescribe Weighing Shadows in 140 characters or less.

Lisa:  A contemporary woman is recruited into an organization that travels in time, but she becomes suspicious of their motives while visiting the past.



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

Lisa:  I recently learned that it’s common in Cuba to give children names starting with “y,” like Yoani or Yasiel. I liked this so much that I gave one of my characters a name like this -- Yaniel -- though I never found a place to mention that he’s of Cuban descent. I guess he’s lucky I didn’t call him Usnavi, which is a Cuban name that comes from people seeing ships in the harbor with “U.S. Navy” on them.



TQWhat inspired you to write Weighing Shadows? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Lisa:  A lot of things all came together with Weighing Shadows. I’ve always wanted to write a book about time travel, because it looked like it would be a lot of fun. Then I came up with the idea of a group of women, goddess worshippers, who had to go undercover when more patriarchal cultures came to power but who survived down to the present day and were still able to influence things from the shadows. I wanted to learn more about matriarchies, especially ancient Crete, and other little-known eras of history. And finally, I came up with a character I really liked, someone who joined a company of time travelers but who was independent enough to make up her own mind, who could realize that the company might not have her best interests, or the best interests of her time period, in mind.

I usually write fantasy, but Weighing Shadows is science fiction. I wanted to see if I could do that science-fiction thing where you take a hypothesis -- in this case that people can travel through time -- and work out some of the permutations. One of the things I came up with was that if people had this ability they would almost certainly use it to get and hold onto power for themselves, no matter what benevolent reasons they had started out with.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Weighing Shadows?

Lisa:  I read a ton of books to research the three main time periods -- ancient Crete, the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, and thirteenth-century troubadours in southern France. In a lot of ways this was the most fun part of writing. Ancient Crete was the hardest because so little is known about it, and also because even historians can’t seem to get their heads around what it would mean to live in a matriarchal society. For example, a lot of historians called a beautiful chair in the palace at Knossos “the throne of King Minos,” but wouldn’t a matriarchy have a queen, not a king? Serendipitously, when I started to research the troubadours my husband became interested in learning how to play the lute, and I got to hear what a lot of the songs would have sounded like.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Lisa:  The main character, Ann, turned out to be very easy to write, though I’m not sure why that is. She’s someone who had a difficult early life and had to become very resourceful to get what she wanted -- which meant that when she started getting suspicious about what the time-traveling corporation was up to she was able to become a double agent and break into the fifth floor, the covert nerve center where all the decisions are made. I enjoyed seeing how she came up with solutions to the various problems that were thrown at her -- in some ways she’s smarter than I am. (I couldn’t hack my way into a computer to save my life, for example, but I had help with that part of the story.)

The hard part was figuring out the people in other eras. They’re so far from our experience, and their mindset would be very different from ours.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Weighing Shadows?

Lisa:  This is a hard one. If I write that a matriarchal society like ancient Crete existed for over a thousand years with almost no wars, that they had a prosperous and vibrant and artistic society, am I making a point about feminism or just writing about a historical epoch? Some people will say it’s the former, but would they even notice if I wrote about a thriving patriarchal culture? If I make women and people of color the main characters in this book, is that a social issue or just a way of including people who have been excluded earlier? Weighing Shadows does reflect things I believe in, just like every novel I ever wrote, just like every novel anyone ever wrote, but my main focus was trying to tell a good story.



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

Lisa:

Q: What was the most fun part to write?

I really enjoyed visiting various time periods. This is something I’d never get a chance to do in real life, so it was great to do it in my imagination, to describe what it would be like to live in a matriarchy, or a city under siege. And I’d always wanted to save books from the fire at the Library of Alexandria, so I got to do that.



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

Lisa:  I liked some of the descriptions, like this one of Knossos in Crete:

“Carts passed them, carrying grapes, olives, pottery, and men and women on horses rode by, and even a chariot. The houses on either side were open, their wares stacked in the doorways: patterned cloth, bronze figurines, double axes.”

And, maybe presumptuously, I made up a more goddess-centered version of the myth of Persephone, or Kore (some scholars think that this was an earlier form of the story):

“But Kore said, ‘If I go with you, who will judge the dead, and tell them when it is their time to go? And I have taken the bull as my consort, and cannot go back to your house.’ Then Demeter saw how it was, that her daughter was a woman grown, and had taken a consort.”



TQWhat's next?

Lisa:  I just sold two short stories, “Sawing” to Nightmare and “The Catastrophe of Cities” to Asimov’s Science Fiction, and I’m gearing up to write another novel.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





Weighing Shadows
Night Shade Books, November 3, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 328 pages

Interview with Lisa Goldstein
Ann Decker fixes computers for a living, and in the evenings she passes the time sharpening her hacking skills. It’s not a very interesting life, but she gets by—until one day she’s contacted with a job offer for a company called Transformations Incorporated. None of her coworkers have ever heard of it before, and when Ann is finally told what the company does, she can hardly believe it: TI has invented technology to travel in time.

Soon Ann is visiting a matriarchy in ancient Crete, and then a woman mathematician at the Library of Alexandria. But Transformations Incorporated remains shrouded in mystery, and when Ann finally catches her breath, there are too many troubling questions still unanswered. Who are Transformations Incorporated, and what will they use this technology to gain? What ill effects might going back in time have on the present day? Is it really as harmless as TI says?

When a coworker turns up dead, Ann’s superiors warn her about a covert group called Core out to sabotage the company. Something just isn’t right, but before she has time to investigate, Ann is sent to a castle in the south of France, nearly a thousand years in the past. As the armies of the Crusade arrive to lay siege, and intrigue grows among the viscount’s family, Ann will discover the startling truth—not just about the company that sent her there, but also about her own past.





About Lisa

Lisa Goldstein is the National Book Award-winning fantasy author of The Red Magician. Her stories have appeared in Ms., Asimov’s Science Fiction, and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and her novels and short stories have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. Her novel, The Uncertain Places, won the Mythopoeic Award and her short story “Paradise Is a Walled Garden” won the Sidewise Award.

Website

Interview with Logan J. Hunder, author of Witches Be Crazy


Please welcome Logan J. Hunder to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Witches Be Crazy was published on July 14th by Night Shade Books.



Interview with Logan J. Hunder, author of Witches Be Crazy




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Logan:  Thanks for figuratively having me!

I've always had a very active imagination. I think if my parents were to answer this question they would make claims about me writing stories all the way back in first or second grade when would scrawl semi-coherent blobs and call them illustrated novels. But personally I don't think I ever created anything that could be considered an actual story until I was about twelve or thirteen and in middle school. In lieu of playing sports or talking to girls, a couple friends and I would spend our lunch hours huddled in our classroom taking turns at putting out issues of our collaborative comic series: The Dunce Hat Warrior. An epic tale of a bumbling idiot that shot a lot of guns and put dunce caps on the heads of those he killed...for some reason...it sounded much better at the time. I was (am?) a strange kid.

Writing was always a creative outlet for me. Something I could do by myself for myself. The only real difference between now and then is some people seem genuinely interested in what I come up with. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Logan:  Up until this very moment I had never heard either of those terms before. Now that I am newly educated I can say with absolute certainty that I am a proud pantser, much as that makes me sound like a guy who habitually pulls people's pants down. There's something about spontaneity that really adds to humour—just watch Whose Line Is It Anyway? I've found I actually have a more difficult time writing out points in the story that I had already planned. The words just don't come as easy. Rather, when I have no concept of what should come next and just let myself go I find I can end up in some incredibly amusing places. It's almost like I experience the story the same way the reader does in those cases.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Logan:  Sometimes motivation can be an issue. Sometimes finding the right words can be an issue. Sometimes forcing myself to cut redundant things can be an issue. Sometimes unintended repetition can be an issue. One of the challenges I find myself facing is that of brevity. Polonius says it's the soul of wit, and wit is what I want, so often times I have to take a moment and ask myself if I'm rambling a bit too much. It's a challenge I often face in real life too.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Logan:  Well it goes without saying that the pioneers of the art, Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony, have some level of influence over any of us who dare enter the hybrid realms of fantasy and making fun of things. And like virtually every other child born in the early 90s and thereafter, I was a huge Harry Potter fan growing up. However an author of whom I am a fan and probably derive influence from that one wouldn't expect would be Louis L'Amour. It's a fondness I've undoubtedly inherited from my dad, who named both me and my brother Nolan after members of the Sackett family. I still remember finding an old tattered copy of Ride the Dark Trail at an rundown book store. It split in half before I managed to finish reading it. Still sits on my shelf, though.



TQDescribe Witches Be Crazy in 140 characters or less.

Logan:  It's funny, punny, and worth your money! Witches has the action and humor you want in a big budget movie without the forced romance subplot.

That was exactly 140 characters. I'm proud of myself.



TQTell us something about Witches Be Crazy that is not found in the book description.

Logan:  Okay! So the blurb sets the scene, a goofy kingdom of scenic spots and nefarious plots. The reader is naturally expecting a story of an unlikely hero rising up to face larger than life scenarios and get repeatedly smacked across the face by circumstance, as is common in the classic quest. However what the back blurb fails to portray is the referential nature of the writing. Over the course of Witches Be Crazy I lovingly reference and pay homage to everything from Les Miserables to South Park to lyrics from one of my favorite Canadian Bands: Great Big Sea. I find inspiration from the strangest of things, and I love to incorporate it in my work. Many readers have commented on the pleasure they discern from picking out the countless Easter Eggs they come across. The best part is even if you're my mother and you don't notice ANY of them, it doesn't detract from the story itself at all.



TQWhat inspired you to write Witches Be Crazy? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy and humor?

Logan:  Fantasy has always been my favorite genre because it can be anything you want it to be. It is limited only by our own personal limitations as creative people. But even classic fantasy at its core is such a unique hybrid of drama and whimsy, fighting and fun, and the ability to incorporate it all under one cover without too many seams—if any at all. My nerdy proclivity for video games and D&D probably has had some hand in developing my tastes as well. As for writing humour, I've known for quite a long time that I have a degree of difficulty in taking things seriously—something that many of my college professors were not fans of. I still refuse to believe I'm the only person my forensic anthropology teacher had ever seen carry on a loud discussion about the merits of using a human femur as a mace. Though in retrospect I think she was just displeased I was brandishing an actual human femur at the time to illustrate my point.

That little story might seem tangential, but it was after college that I finally had reached my breaking point with writing serious things and wanted to take a foray into something offbeat. My original premise was "A few guys travel across the country to break into the castle and kill the princess rather than save her." From there I just "pants"d it, so to speak. It wasn't until I was over half way through that I even got the notion of trying to publish it.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Witches Be Crazy?

Logan:  In my writing I find myself researching some of the strangest things. For Dungar naturally I had to learn a little bit about the blacksmithing process. But as an unabashed teetotaler I also had to brush up on various kinds of alcohol, how coveted they were, what they were made of, and what assumptions can be made about the kind of person who enjoys them. For Rose I had to familiarize myself with a variety of science mumbo jumbo, but my brother is literally a rocket scientist so thankfully he could always be relied upon to help me out there. Fun fact: when I'm crediting the women of SRS for various inventions, all the inventions I list (except plumbing) actually were invented by women. In writing the sequel I actually found myself watching a half hour long Youtube video describing the intricacies of making stained glass windows... All just so I could make a joke.

The part in Witches about diamonds is probably what required the most research.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Logan:  While I don't personally see it, people who know me have said that Dungar is a lot like me. I suppose that's to be expected, him being my very first protagonist and all, but even if there are similarities I don't think they're so apparent that one could call this author-insert fiction. That being said, his lines and demeanour come pretty naturally; especially when often times there's the comically unreal Jimminy to act as a basis for comparison. But despite being a complete foil to Dungar, Jimminy was startlingly easy for me to write as well. Coming up with malapropisms and pithy remarks wasn't always a no-brainer, but his overall personality and outlook were very easy to draw character from.

If I were to pick a hardest character to write, it would probably be Gilly. I am a man which, by definition, means I'm not a woman. So just writing from a female perspective means I'm having to reach a bit. I'm forced to reach a little bit more when I'm writing a character that is deeply religious whilst I have no affiliations to the divine myself. And from there the only other thing that drives her is her love for her sister... Something I also lack. There's a bond between Rose and Gilly much greater than even what I delved into in the book, and it causes Gilly to have a distrust and perhaps even dislike for Dungar, a character that I just said is pretty me-ish. With Dungar I can draw on my values, with Jimminy I can draw on my humour, but with Gilly I'm basically writing a character that is nothing like me and probably would not care for me if she knew me.



TQWhich question about Witches Be Crazy do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Logan:  Oh how fun! It has to be related to Witches Be Crazy, so I guess "Can I buy you dinner?" is out. Alright, let’s try something like this:

"Hey Logan, nice hair, so I was wondering: In your last response, you compared Dungar to yourself but also claimed there were differences. If you could take one aspect of Dungar for yourself what would it be? And if you could give one aspect of yourself to him, what would it be?"

Well hey thanks for that incredibly thought provoking question, me. If I were to take an aspect of Dungar for myself it would probably be either his bravery or confidence. Granted there were times in the story that he lacked sureness in his actions, he never crumbled under pressure and he never froze when he needed to be...er...fluid? No matter what this foreign and bizarre world threw at him, he could always persevere and find a way to keep on keepin on.

But the very reason I would admire him comes with side effects. Dungar can be more tightly wound than a catapult. Sometimes you have to be able to not take yourself or anything else too seriously. Dungar is so quick to rush to anger and violence that it's a good thing he lives in fantasy land, because that sort of thing doesn't really fly in many other places. His proclivity for punching people, even if he managed to weather the societal ramifications, surely cannot be good for his health. Sooner or later you run into someone that can punch harder than you, and even if you don't, your heart is gonna hate you. I don't think blood pressure meds exist in Jenair, so for his own good I'd prescribe Dungar some Logan chill pills.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Witches Be Crazy.

Logan:  Alright it's kind of long, but easily one of my favourite quotes is from when they first meet the pirate captain: Nobeard

"We steal from the rich and give to the poor!" Nobeard repeated as he began to sway in rhythm with the music. "But we be more than your commoner altruistic outlaw! We are the very image of that which is not changeable, we are experts in every theft tactic that is stageable, we carry out our deeds to keep the wealth all rearrangeable, despite the occupational hazards being quite unassuageable!" He paused briefly yet again and turned back to Dungar. "Really what I'm trying to say here is that in matters profitable, cartable, and sinkable, I am the very model of a modern mighty liberal!"

Also one of the reviews on Goodreads listed this exchange as one of her favourite bits. To her it was a barometer of the books wackiness. (Names left out to keep it non-spoilery)

"Who is this guy?!"
"How are you alive?"
"How did you find us?"
"Where did you get that katana?"

"Why are you all standing around letting them have this conversation!?" [Villain] yelled.



TQWhat's next?

Logan:  Well, the first draft of the sequel has been completed. It's currently being shown around to all the important people who have a say in such things. From there I definitely plan on branching out away from Dungar and the crew, but always leaving it open for to return. He's a swell guy, but ideally I'd want to establish new characters and their own adventures, then after a while I could start mixing the old with the new. Have crossovers, if you will. Endless possibilities!

I've also mulled over the idea of adapting my old Dunce Hat Warrior comics into a novel of their own. I'd have to break it down into its most basic elements in order to filter out the taint of 12 year old me, but I think it would leave some interesting building blocks. That's nowhere on the horizon yet though.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Logan:  Hey! I told my people to tell your people I'm not answering questions about this!





Witches Be Crazy
A Tale That Happened Once Upon a Time in the Middle of Nowhere
Night Shade Books, July 14, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Logan J. Hunder, author of Witches Be Crazy
Real heroes never die. But they do get grouchy in middle age.

The beloved King Ik is dead, and there was barely time to check his pulse before the royal throne was supporting the suspiciously shapely backside of an impostor pretending to be Ik’s beautiful long-lost daughter. With the land’s heroic hunks busy drooling all over themselves, there’s only one man left who can save the kingdom of Jenair. His name is Dungar Loloth, a rural blacksmith turned innkeeper, a surly hermit and an all-around nobody oozing toward middle age, compensating for a lack of height, looks, charm, and tact with guts and an attitude.

Normally politics are the least of his concerns, but after everyone in the neighboring kingdom of Farrawee comes down with a severe case of being dead, Dungar learns that the masquerading princess not only is behind the carnage but also has similar plans for his own hometown. Together with an eccentric and arguably insane hobo named Jimminy, he journeys out into the world he’s so pointedly tried to avoid as the only hope of defeating the most powerful person in it. That is, if he can survive the pirates, cultists, radical Amazonians, and assorted other dangers lying in wait along the way.

Logan J. Hunder’s hilarious debut blows up the fantasy genre with its wry juxtaposition of the fantastic and the mundane, proving that the best and brightest heroes aren’t always the best for the job.





About Logan

Interview with Logan J. Hunder, author of Witches Be Crazy
Logan J. Hunder is a humanoid creature that sits around eating Cheetos and playing Minecraft, occasionally stopping to write something down. After graduating from college he embarked on a journey to tell fun fantasy stories laced with action, adventure, and stupid jokes. The first product of that journey is his debut novel, Witches Be Crazy, a whimsical and mischievous tale of courage, unconventional friendship, and persevering even when you're completely out of your depth. It may also involve killer fish, sexy princesses, and rocks getting punched in the face. It is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for the pure of heart.




Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @ljh_writerguy


Interview with Tom Toner, author of The Promise of the Child


Please welcome Tom Toner to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Promise of the Child is published on September 22nd by Night Shade Books. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Tom a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Tom Toner, author of The Promise of the Child




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Tom:  Thanks! I suppose I only began writing in earnest about four and a half years ago, when I sat down with some ideas and just never stopped working. The whole thing was a bit of an accident - I'd genuinely never imagined becoming a writer, and was pretty surprised by the time I'd banked a few thousand words and the feel of the novel was developing. Before then all I'd really wanted to be was a painter, having studied art at university and painted the odd commission here and there. Now, I couldn't imagine doing anything else.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Tom:  At first I pantsed it all the way, not having the slightest clue what I was doing, which with hindsight possibly made the whole thing richer and stranger for being so accidental. Now that I'm deep into the sequel and thinking carefully about a great many fine details in multiple future books, I can see the benefits of plotting. I still look at sections of The Promise of the Child that arrived organically and wonder where on earth they came from, so I suppose something could be said for winging it once in a while. I work in notebooks, sketching out ideas and scenes until they're as fully formed as possible, so there are stacks of the things on my desk, all colour-coded. The plans for books 4, 5 and 6 in the series (and beyond) are in there too, and I take a break to work on future stuff whenever I'm tired of what's in front of me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tom:  Self-doubt and over analysis. I'm also fighting a losing battle with man boobs sitting here writing all day.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Tom:  At the moment (while writing) all I'm reading are travel books (Paul Theroux, Colin Thubron, Bill Bryson and Patrick Leigh Fermor) and non-fiction like Jared Diamond. I have absolutely no idea if that's the right thing to do - like I said I'm seriously new to this and winging it - but it's a nice escape from fiction. My absolute favourite author, someone not remotely linked to SF, is Colm Tóibín; his 2004 book The Master is the most perfect novel I've ever read. I try to read it once a year in the hope that some of its beauty might one day rub off. As for SF, I'm a huge fan of the late and great Iain Banks, David Mitchell, Arthur C Clarke, Brian Aldiss and Stephen King (particularly his Dark Tower novels), though I'm not really very well-read in the genre.



TQDescribe The Promise of the Child in 140 characters or less.

Tom:  The 147th century. The world is elderly, a lair of monsters. In the heavens hominid trolls squabble as a shy young man runs for his life.



TQWhy did you choose "Amaranthine Spectrum" as the series title? Does it have anything to do with the meaning of the Greek amarantos ("unfading") the word that Amaranth is derived from?

Tom:  Precisely. It hopefully means something on each level, in a kind of fractal way. The first three novels will hint at a colossal story buried just beneath the surface, material I've been working on parallel to the Spectrum that will become the fourth book in the series. The Amaranthine themselves are unfading (an imperfect title that demonstrates more their own arrogance than anything else), and this is ostensibly the story of their time, told most often through the hapless life of poor, shy Lycaste. The novels to me are also all about colour, with a distinguishing palette for each one.



TQTell us something about The Promise of the Child that is not found in the book description.

Tom:  It's a novel with hideous giant protagonists, talking birdlife, men that live for tens of thousands of years in hollowed planets, singing sea monsters, silk currency, a villain with a surprising twist, foods and metals that grow on trees and vast foldable paper cities.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Promise of the Child? What appealed to you about writing Space Opera?

Tom:  The Promise of the Child wasn't planned as Space Opera - the first couple of drafts never left Lycaste's cove. I hadn't even thought of it as SF until a spaceship made an appearance, at which point I sat back and had to rethink the thing, realising I couldn't deny the SF geek inside me any longer. I'd been reticent at first when friends asked if I was enjoying myself, feeling a little self-conscious at indulging in such absurd science fiction all day while other people did grown-up things. But that's Space Opera though - that's the appeal. It's like turning up to direct a film and being told you've been given a trillion dollar budget and all the studios, prosthetics, animators, model makers and IMAX cameras the world can hold. How much you choose to use is up to you, but the extremes are limitless, and it was the extremes that I wanted to try to capture. It's the greatest and most intoxicating freedom, an embarrassingly enjoyable way to spend your day.

In terms of inspiration, it all arrived from a single thought. I was standing in the sea in Greece (wondering, as you do, whether there might be any sharks around that might fancy a leg or two if I went too deep) when I turned around and just looked at the beach. The place was the setting for Odysseus's kingdom in the Odyssey (an island called Ithaka that features in a few scenes of the novel) and everything had that hot, bleached look of antiquity, a place of wizened olive trees that stretch right up to the shore and brilliant blue water. I was wondering about the future of the place as I thought about its past, and trying to imagine what would be there, on that beach, thousands of years hence ended up as the beginning of a novel.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Promise of the Child?

Tom:  Quite a bit, despite the fantastical subject matter. Everything from the order of the closest stars to the distances between European cities is accurate, as far as I know, a nice solid background to all the craziness.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Tom:  Those that are most like me, I suppose, are the easiest to write: Corphuso and Eranthis are both fairly undiluted variants of my personality - a tiny bit worrying, come to think of it, since neither's human male.

Lycaste - despite the fact that I know his character so well - is more complex than a lot of the supporting cast, so not as easy to write as I'd have expected while still having the capacity to surprise me. The hardest character to write was the most opaque, in this case the antagonist, Aaron the Long-Life. Certainly, in The Promise of the Child, his true personality is veiled, filtered through so many layers that we only see glimpses of him, really.



TQWhich question about The Promise of the Child do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Tom:

Q: Who would play the major leads in a movie adaptation of your book?

A: It's always fun to imagine stuff like this, even though I'm not under any illusion that it would ever happen. All the central characters that aren't Amaranthine would need to be distorted in some way, either through digital effects or outright motion capture (i.e the Prism). The Melius (Lycaste, Impatiens, Melilotis etc) could simply be performances augmented in post production, rather like the effects from Where the Wild Things Are. Even though I don't imagine their faces in great detail, Ed Harris and Marion Cotillard would make superb Amaranthines Maneker and Voss, respectively. Also, while this is certainly not the way I visualise him, I'd pick Benedict Cumberbatch for Aaron the Long-Life over almost anyone else I can think of, with Christoph Waltz making a marvellous Venerable Sabran.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Promise of the Child.

Tom:  'Corphuso had only found out later - after hearing their unsettling slurping sounds through the night - that they used their own saliva to bathe, licking themselves clean with long pink tongues.'



TQWhat's next?

Tom:  The first draft of the sequel to the Promise of the Child - which I'll exclusively reveal here will be called Celestial Meridian - should be finished in a month or two, so I'm having a great time working on that at the moment.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tom:  Thank you!





The Promise of the Child
Volume One of the Amaranthine Spectrum
Night Shade Books, September 22, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 460 pages

Interview with Tom Toner, author of The Promise of the Child
It is the 147th century.

In the radically advanced post-human worlds of the Amaranthine Firmament, there is a contender to the Immortal throne: Aaron the Long-Life, the Pretender, a man who is not quite a man.

In the barbarous hominid kingdoms of the Prism Investiture, where life is short, cheap, and dangerous, an invention is born that will become the Firmament’s most closely kept secret.

Lycaste, a lovesick reclusive outcast for an unspeakable crime, must journey through the Provinces, braving the grotesques of an ancient, decadent world to find his salvation.

Sotiris, grieving the loss of his sister and awaiting the madness of old age, must relive his twelve thousand years of life to stop the man determined to become Emperor.

Ghaldezuel, knight of the stars, must plunder the rarest treasure in the Firmament—the object the Pretender will stop at nothing to obtain.

From medieval Prague to a lonely Mediterranean cove, and eventually far into the strange vastness of distant worlds, The Promise of the Child is a debut novel of gripping action and astounding ambition unfolding over hundreds of thousands of years, marking the arrival of a brilliant new talent in science fiction.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Pay : Kobo





About Tom

Interview with Tom Toner, author of The Promise of the Child
Tom Toner was born in the English countryside to two parents employed by the BBC (his mother was a set designer for Doctor Who). He studied fine art and painting in Loughborough before moving to Australia to write. He collects giant fossilized shark teeth and recently returned to London, where he lives with his girlfriend.





Twitter @Tom__Toner


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.



Tom Toner 

The Promise of the Child
Volume One of the Amaranthine Spectrum
Night Shade Books, September 22, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 460 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner
It is the 147th century.

In the radically advanced post-human worlds of the Amaranthine Firmament, there is a contender to the Immortal throne: Aaron the Long-Life, the Pretender, a man who is not quite a man.

In the barbarous hominid kingdoms of the Prism Investiture, where life is short, cheap, and dangerous, an invention is born that will become the Firmament’s most closely kept secret.

Lycaste, a lovesick reclusive outcast for an unspeakable crime, must journey through the Provinces, braving the grotesques of an ancient, decadent world to find his salvation.

Sotiris, grieving the loss of his sister and awaiting the madness of old age, must relive his twelve thousand years of life to stop the man determined to become Emperor.

Ghaldezuel, knight of the stars, must plunder the rarest treasure in the Firmament—the object the Pretender will stop at nothing to obtain.

From medieval Prague to a lonely Mediterranean cove, and eventually far into the strange vastness of distant worlds, The Promise of the Child is a debut novel of gripping action and astounding ambition unfolding over hundreds of thousands of years, marking the arrival of a brilliant new talent in science fiction.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million : IndieBound

Review: The Dangerous Type by Loren Rhoads


The Dangerous Type
Author:  Loren Rhoads
Series:  In The Wake of The Templars 1
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, July 7, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 296 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781597808149 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Dangerous Type by Loren Rhoads
Firefly meets La Femme Nikita in this action-packed, audacious SF debut.

Entombed for twenty years, Reana, one of the galaxy’s most dangerous assassins, has been freed, and the first thing on her mind is revenge. At the top of her list is Thallian, the insane war criminal who enslaved Reana, turned her into a killing machine, and then ultimately left her for dead. When Thallian discovers that she has not only survived but also has escaped, he’s willing to risk everything—including his army of cloned sons—to bring her back under his control.

Gavin saved Reana once . . . only to lose her again to the clutches of Thallian. Since then he’s been alternately trying to forget her and desperately searching for her. Now that she’s free, he must come to terms with the fact that she might not be his, and perhaps never was.

Reana’s adopted sister, Ariel, is a child of wealth and privilege, as well as a gun runner who chose the right side of a galaxy-wide war that destroyed a human empire. She sent Gavin on his mad quest to find Reana in the first place, and now that she’s been found, Ariel doesn’t know if she can face either of them, or the truths she’s been running from since Reana was left for dead.

A brutal race to see who will kill whom first, The Dangerous Type is the explosive opening to Loren Rhoads’s action-SF-meets-space-opera trilogy.



Brannigan's Review

The Dangerous Type is the first book in a new sexy science fiction trilogy by Loren Rhoads. We meet shady heroes attempting to find and save Reana from a long forgotten tomb in the hopes of rekindling long lost memories of the past. Somehow, after being entombed for twenty years, Reana looks as if she hasn't aged but quickly begins to fade and wither away only to find a reason to live, revenge. If it sounds a bit corny, it's because it is. From the start, this is a story that demands you suspend almost all belief.

The characters are all stereotypes without anything new to offer, and they're all sexy beyond belief. In fact, things got so steamy in this novel I began to feel dirty just from reading it. I couldn't make any connection to any of the characters, which made it hard for me to enjoy a good revenge tale.

There are some good action sequences but not enough to really make up for the shallow characters and the world building was nil to none, which made it impossible for me to get lost in the world. Rhoads mentions several times that the human race is the minority, but after reading the book I couldn't describe one of the countless aliens that supposedly inhabits her universe. There were plenty of things that could have made this a really great first book, but none of them were developed to the degree they should have been. For example, the idea of the Templars sounded cool, but she didn't explain it enough to build on it. The idea of humans being a minority could have been a cool idea, but I never felt like it was true. Even Reana, the main character who was supposed to be a deadly assassin and bodyguard that everyone was scared of, didn't really do anything to deserve all of this respect and fear until the end of the book, and by then it was too late.

The Dangerous Type is the perfect science fiction novel to give to your friend who loves to read hot and heavy romances. It could be a great gateway book to entice your friend who never thought they'd read science fiction. If you're like me and prefer your science fiction to focus on character depth and world building, I'd steer clear of this one. Due to the violence, use of adult language and holy cow amount of sexual situations, I would recommend it to adults only.

Review - Stories of the Raksura : Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells


Stories of the Raksura
   Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below
AuthorMartha Wells
Series:  Stories of the Raksura
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, June 2, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 232 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781597805377 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review - Stories of the Raksura : Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells
Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically breach genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet: their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell . . .


Brannigan's Review

Stories of The Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells is strange, which in this case is a compliment. I've read some of Well's earlier books and enjoyed them a lot, so I jumped at the chance to review one of her newer works—little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Wells is a master writer and has been doing it long enough that even now as she delves into Strange Fantasy she can still keep me invested in the story. For those of you unfamiliar with Strange Fantasy, it's a sub-genre that focuses on exploring worlds and creatures that are completely unfamiliar to your average fantasy story. Now, almost every fantasy writer likes to create something unique to their world, but they still use familiar creatures and humanoid races that readers can identify with. Strange Fantasy doesn't. It gives you very little you recognize. On the positive side, there's plenty of wonder and exploration for the reader as you discover new things on every page. The negative side is there are so many new things that it's easy to get overwhelmed and feel disconnected to the actual story.

There are four short stories and one novella in this volume of short stories. The only common race throughout most of the stories are the Raksura, a cross between a dragon and humanoid creature that can phase between different shapes. Moon and Jade are two of the Raksura that appear in more than a few of the stories, and I would deem them the main characters. Moon, a male, spent most of his youth away from his own race, and Jade, a female, is a sister queen to her court. In a later story, Moon is Jade's consort.

I'm a character and world fan. I love getting connected to characters and lost in a world. With all the strangeness of the characters and world, Wells drew me in the different stories and I found myself enjoying my time in her world. However, I did feel very lost, as there was a lot I knew I was missing by not reading other books in the series. I also had a hard time relating to the characters even though I was engaged in the story. It's already a difficult read without jumping in on volume two of a short story collection.

Stories of The Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below is a fascinatingly strange world to immerse yourself in. I would only recommend it to those already familiar with this world or up for a challenge and bored with the regular fantasy tropes. There are acts of violence, no bad language and only implied adult situations. I would recommend it to teens and adults. This series is for die-hard fans of Wells and those looking for something they won't find in every other fantasy book.

Excerpt from The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi


The Qwillery is thrilled to share with you an excerpt from the 2nd Edition of The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.



Excerpt from The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi




The Windup Girl
Paolo Bacigalupi
Night Shade Books
May 2015


1.

         “No! I don’t want the mangosteen.” Anderson Lake leans forward, pointing. “I want that one, there. Kaw pollamai nee khap. The one with the red skin and the green hairs.”
         The peasant woman smiles, showing teeth blackened from chewingbetel nut, and points to a pyramid of fruits stacked beside her. “Un nee chai mai kha?”
         “Right. Those. Khap.” Anderson nods and makes himself smile. “What are they called?”
         “Ngaw.” She pronounces the word carefully for his foreign ear, and hands across a sample.
         Anderson takes the fruit, frowning. “It’s new?”
         “Kha.” She nods an affirmative.
         Anderson turns the fruit in his hand, studying it. It’s more like a gaudy sea anemone or a furry puffer fish than a fruit. Coarse green tendrils protrude from all sides, tickling his palm. The skin has the rust-red tinge of blister rust, but when he sniffs he doesn’t get any stink of decay. It seems perfectly healthy, despite its appearance.
         “Ngaw,” the peasant woman says again, and then, as if reading his mind, “New. No blister rust.”
         Anderson nods absently. Around him, the market soi bustles with Bangkok’s morning shoppers. Mounds of durians fill the alley in reeking piles and water tubs splash with snakehead fish and red-fin plaa. Overhead, palm-oil polymer tarps sag under the blast furnace heat of the tropic sun, shading the market with hand-painted images of clipper ship trading companies and the face of the revered Child Queen. A man jostles past, holding vermilion-combed chickens high as they flap and squawk outrage on their way to slaughter, and women in brightly colored pha sin bargain and smile with the vendors, driving down the price of pirated U-Tex rice and new-variant tomatoes.
         None of it touches Anderson.
         “Ngaw,” the woman says again, seeking connection.
         The fruit’s long hairs tickle his palm, challenging him to recognize its origin. Another Thai genehacking success, just like the tomatoes and eggplants and chiles that abound in the neighboring stalls. It’s as if the Grahamite Bible’s prophecies are coming to pass. As if Saint Francis himself stirs in his grave, restless, preparing to stride forth onto the land, bearing with him the bounty of history’s lost calories.
         “And he shall come with trumpets, and Eden shall return . . .”
         Anderson turns the strange hairy fruit in his hand. It carries no stink of cibiscosis. No scab of blister rust. No graffiti of genehack weevil engraves its skin. The world’s flowers and vegetables and trees and fruits make up the geography of Anderson Lake’s mind, and yet nowhere does he find a helpful signpost that leads him to identification.
         Ngaw. A mystery.
         He mimes that he would like to taste and the peasant woman takes back the fruit. Her brown thumb easily tears away the hairy rind, revealing a pale core. Translucent and veinous, it resembles nothing so much as the pickled onions served in martinis at research clubs in Des Moines.
         She hands back the fruit. Anderson sniffs tentatively. Inhales floral syrup. Ngaw. It shouldn’t exist. Yesterday, it didn’t. Yesterday, not a single stall in Bangkok sold these fruits, and yet now they sit in pyramids, piled all around this grimy woman where she squats on the ground under the partial shading of her tarp. From around her neck, a gold glinting amulet of the martyr Phra Seub winks at him, a talisman of protection against the agricultural plagues of the calorie companies.
         Anderson wishes he could observe the fruit in its natural habitat, hanging from a tree or lurking under the leaves of some bush. With more information, he might guess genus and family, might divine some whisper of the genetic past that the Thai Kingdom is trying to excavate, but there are no more clues. He slips the ngaw’s slick translucent ball into his mouth.
         A fist of flavor, ripe with sugar and fecundity. The sticky flower bomb coats his tongue. It’s as though he’s back in the HiGro fields of Iowa, offered his first tiny block of hard candy by a Midwest Compact agronomist when he was nothing but a farmer’s boy, barefoot amid the corn stalks. The shell-shocked moment of flavor—real flavor—after a lifetime devoid of it.
         Sun pours down. Shoppers jostle and bargain, but nothing touches him. He rolls the ngaw around in his mouth, eyes closed, tasting the past, savoring the time when this fruit must once have flourished, before cibiscosis and Nippon genehack weevil and blister rust and scabis mold razed the landscape.
         Under the hammer heat of tropic sun, surrounded by the groan of water buffalo and the cry of dying chickens, he is one with paradise. If he were a Grahamite, he would fall to his knees and give ecstatic thanks for the flavor of Eden’s return.
         Anderson spits the black pit into his hand, smiling. He has read travelogues of history’s botanists and explorers, the men and women who pierced the deepest jungle wildernesses of the earth in search of new species—and yet their discoveries cannot compare to this single fruit.
         Those people all sought discoveries. He has found a resurrection.
         The peasant woman beams, sure of a sale. “Ao gee kilo kha?” How much?
         “Are they safe?” he asks.
         She points at the Environment Ministry certificates laid on the cobbles beside her, underlining the dates of inspection with a finger. “Latest variation,” she says. “Top grade.”
         Anderson studies the glinting seals. Most likely, she bribed the white shirts for stamps rather than going through the full inspection process that would have guaranteed immunity to eighth-generation blister rust along with resistance to cibiscosis 111.mt7 and mt8. The cynical part of him supposes that it hardly matters. The intricate stamps that glitter in the sun are more talismanic than functional, something to make people feel secure in a dangerous world. In truth, if cibiscosis breaks out again, these certificates will do nothing. It will be a new variation, and all the old tests will be useless, and then people will pray to their Phra Seub amulets and King Rama XII images and make offerings at the City Pillar Shrine, and they will all cough up the meat of their lungs no matter how many Environment Ministry stamps adorn their produce.
         Anderson pockets the ngaw’s pit. “I’ll take a kilo. No. Two. Song.
         He hands over a hemp sack without bothering to bargain. Whatever she asks, it will be too little. Miracles are worth the world. A unique gene that resists a calorie plague or utilizes nitrogen more efficiently sends profits skyrocketing. If he looks around the market right now, that truth is everywhere displayed. The alley bustles with Thais purchasing everything from generipped versions of U-Tex rice to vermilion-variant poultry. But all of those things are old advances, based on previous genehack work done by AgriGen and PurCal and Total Nutrient Holdings. The fruits of old science, manufactured in the bowels of the Midwest Compact’s research labs.
         The ngaw is different. The ngaw doesn’t come from the Midwest. The Thai Kingdom is clever where others are not. It thrives while countries like India and Burma and Vietnam all fall like dominoes, starving and begging for the scientific advances of the calorie monopolies.
         A few people stop to examine Anderson’s purchase, but even if Anderson thinks the price is low, they apparently find it too expensive and pass on.
         The woman hands across the ngaw, and Anderson almost laughs with pleasure. Not a single one of these furry fruits should exist; he might as well be hefting a sack of trilobites. If his guess about the ngaw’s origin is correct, it represents a return from extinction as shocking as if a Tyrannosaurus were stalking down Thanon Sukhumvit. But then, the same is true of the potatoes and tomatoes and chiles that fill the market, all piled in such splendid abundance, an array of fecund nightshades that no one has seen in generations. In this drowning city, all things seem possible. Fruits and vegetables return from the grave, extinct flowers blossom on the avenues, and behind it all, the Environment Ministry works magic with the genetic material of generations lost.
         Carrying his sacked fruit, Anderson squeezes back down the soi to the avenue beyond. A seethe of traffic greets him, morning commuters clogging Thanon Rama IX like the Mekong in flood. Bicycles and cycle rickshaws, blue-black water buffaloes and great shambling megodonts.
         At Anderson’s arrival, Lao Gu emerges from the shade of a crumbling office tower, carefully pinching off the burning tip of a cigarette. Nightshades again. They’re everywhere. Nowhere else in the world, but here they riot in abundance. Lao Gu tucks the remainder of the tobacco into a ragged shirt pocket as he trots ahead of Anderson to their cycle rickshaw.
         The old Chinese man is nothing but a scarecrow, dressed in rags, but still, he is lucky. Alive, when most of his people are dead. Employed, while his fellow Malayan refugees are packed like slaughter chickens into sweltering Expansion towers. Lao Gu has stringy muscle on his bones and enough money to indulge in Singha cigarettes. To the rest of the yellow card refugees he is as lucky as a king.
         Lao Gu straddles the cycle’s saddle and waits patiently as Anderson clambers into the passenger seat behind. “Office,” Anderson says. “Bai khap.” Then switches to Chinese. “Zou ba.”
        The old man stands on his pedals and they merge into traffic. Around them, bicycle bells ring like cibiscosis chimes, irritated at their obstruction. Lao Gu ignores them and weaves deeper into the traffic flow.
         Anderson reaches for another ngaw, then restrains himself. He should save them. They’re too valuable to gobble like a greedy child. The Thais have found some new way to disinter the past, and all he wants to do is feast on the evidence. He drums his fingers on the bagged fruit, fighting for self-control.
         To distract himself, he fishes for his pack of cigarettes and lights one. He draws on the tobacco, savoring the burn, remembering his surprise when he first discovered how successful the Thai Kingdom had become, how widely spread the nightshades. And as he smokes, he thinks of Yates. Remembers the man’s disappointment as they sat across from one another with resurrected history smoldering between them.





The Windup Girl
Night Shade Book, May 5, 2015 (2nd Edition)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

Excerpt from The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, a new edition of the breakout science fiction debut featuring additional stories and an exclusive Q&A with the author.

Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories.

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. Emiko is not human; she is an engineered being, grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in this chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bioengineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bioterrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits and forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

In this brand-new edition celebrating the book’s reception into the canon of modern science fiction, accompanying the text are two novelettes exploring the dystopian world of The Windup Girl, the Theodore Sturgeon Award–winning “The Calorie Man” and “Yellow Card Man,” and an exclusive Q&A with the author describing his writing process, the political climate into which his debut novel was published, and the future of science fiction.





Paolo Bacigalupi On Tour

5/26/15: Denver, CO - Tattered Cover, reading, Q&A, and signing

5/27/15: Boulder, CO - Boulder Bookstore, reading, Q&A, and signing

5/29/15: New York, NY - BEA

5/30/15: Boston, MA - Brookline Booksmith, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/2/15: Chicago, IL - Anderson’s Bookshop, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/3/15: Salt Lake City, UT - The King’s English, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/4/15: Phoenix, AR - Changing Hands Bookstore, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/6-6/7/15: San Francisco, CA - Bay Area Literary Festival

6/6-6/7/15: San Francisco, CA - Borderlands, signing

6/8/15: San Diego, CA - Mysterious Galaxy, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/9/15: Los Angeles, CA - Vroman’s, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/10/15: Portland, OR - Powell’s Bookstore, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/11/15: Seattle, WA - University Book Store, reading, Q&A, and signing

6/18/15: Crested Butte, CO - Rumors Coffee and Tea House, reading, Q&A, and signing

You may find times and addresses at the Author's website here





Upcoming

The Water Knife
Knopf, May 26, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Excerpt from The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
WATER IS POWER

Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times best-selling author of The Windup Girl and National Book Award finalist, delivers a near-future thriller that casts new light on how we live today—and what may be in store for us tomorrow.

The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky.

As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands.  But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.





About Paolo

Excerpt from The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Photo by JT Thomas Photography.
Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in WIRED Magazine, High Country News, Salon.com, OnEarth Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His short fiction been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy, nominated for three Nebula Awards, four Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story of the year. His short story collection PUMP SIX AND OTHER STORIES was a 2008 Locus Award winner for Best Collection and also named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly

His debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Internationally, it has won the Seiun Award (Japan), The Ignotus Award (Spain), The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis (Germany), and the Prix Planète-SF des Blogueurs (France).

His debut young adult novel, SHIP BREAKER, was a Micheal L. Printz Award Winner, and a National Book Award Finalist, and its sequel, THE DROWNED CITIES, was a 2012 Kirkus Reviews Best of YA Book, A 2012 VOYA Perfect Ten Book, and 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist.

He has also written ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN for middle-grade children, about zombies, baseball, and, of all things, meatpacking plants. Another novel for teens, THE DOUBT FACTORY, a contemporary thriller about public relations and the product defense industry was a both an Edgar Award and Locus Award Finalist.

His latest novel for adults THE WATER KNIFE, a near-future thriller about climate change and drought in the southwestern United States.

He currently lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son, where he is working on a new novel.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @paolobacigalupi  ~  Google+

Interview with Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, author of The Root2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Root by Na'amen Gobert TilahunInterview with Lisa GoldsteinInterview with Logan J. Hunder, author of Witches Be CrazyInterview with Tom Toner, author of The Promise of the Child2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Promise of the Child by Tom TonerReview: The Dangerous Type by Loren RhoadsReview - Stories of the Raksura : Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha WellsExcerpt from The Windup Girl by Paolo BacigalupiGuest Blog by Michael J. Martinez -  So what now? Leaving the series behind - and Giveaway - May 18, 2015

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