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Interview with K.S. Merbeth, author of Bite


Please welcome K.S. Merbeth to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bite was published on July 26th by Orbit.



Interview with K.S. Merbeth, author of Bite




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

KSM:  Hi, thanks for having me! I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. As a kid I always had my face in a book and dreamed about being an author someday. I started writing my own stories in elementary school, and never stopped. My head is always full of ideas and characters and plots. I feel like I need to get them down on the page for my own peace of mind.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

KSM:  I’m a hybrid. When I first get an idea, I like to jump right in while I’m excited about it. After I word-vomit out the first few chapters, I pause and figure out where I’m going with it. As far as plotting, I use what I’ve heard called the “road trip” technique. I like to know where the story begins, where it ends, and some of the major stops along the way, but I figure out everything else as I go. It helps me maintain the sense of adventure while preventing me from getting lost.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

KSM:  The hardest thing for me is sticking with one idea. I have a long list of stories I’d love to write, and my brain would gladly jump around writing bits and pieces of each, but I’d never get anything finished that way. I’ve become a lot more disciplined over the years, but new ideas are still very tantalizing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

KSM:  Mostly, I just try to write the kinds of books I’d want to read – and I’m a picky reader. I like to be surprised. I like things that are fresh and different and thought-provoking. I like complicated morality and main characters who aren’t really “heroes” in a traditional sense. Whenever I’m reading, or watching a movie, or playing a game, I’m always thinking about what is working or not working for me in the story, and I bring that with me whenever I sit down to write.



TQDescribe Bite in 140 characters or less.

KSM:  In a brutal desert wasteland, a girl finds a family in a crew of outlaws, and they cause a shitload of trouble.



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

KSM:  While there’s a lot of violence and grit and horror in Bite, there’s also quite a bit of humor! Of course it’s very dark humor that mostly revolves around cannibalism and similarly unsavory topics, but still, I think the story will get more than a couple laughs out of readers.



TQIn the About section on your website (here) you say that Bite is, in part, "...inspired by my love of villains... ." Who are some of your favorite villains? What else inspired Bite?

KSM:  Ooh, there are so many! I love Harley Quinn and the Joker, Bellatrix Lestrange, Gogo Yubari, Negan from the Walking Dead... I have a soft spot for female villains, and for villains that are both evil and funny. As far as other inspiration, I really love the post-apocalyptic setting, but I wanted to take it in a direction that hadn’t been explored before. It’s a setting ripe for violence and villainy, and as soon as I started to wonder about the “bad guys” in such a bleak world, the story began to come together.



TQWhat appeals to you about writing post-apocalyptic SF?

KSM:  I love the gritty, high stakes nature of the setting. The world has fallen apart, civilization has collapsed, and everyone is doing whatever they can to survive. In a world like that, you can really dig into the darker parts of human nature and explore exactly how far people will go to stay alive.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Bite?

KSM:  I did a lot of research into how people would survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Growing up in Arizona, it wasn’t too hard to imagine the desert-like setting and what kind of survival challenges it would pose, but I wanted to include as much realism as I could. I researched things like heatstroke and dehydration, the longevity of various kinds of canned food, and how water would be purified.



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

KSM:  Kid was the easiest to write. Her voice came really naturally – in part, I think, because her narration is so deeply entwined with the story in my mind. Bite wouldn’t be the story that it is without Kid telling it. I also relate to her because she’s not some badass or killing machine. She’s just a girl who’s figuring out where she belongs in the world.

The crew’s leader, Wolf, was the hardest for me. He wasn’t difficult to write on a surface level, but it was harder to figure out who he is beneath all the profanity and ridiculous one-liners, and harder still to get him to show it a little over the course of the book.



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

KSM:

Q: Have you ever drawn inspiration from an unexpected source?

A: What a coincidence, this sets me up perfectly for a story I’ve been dying to tell! ;)

Early into the first draft of Bite, I was working on it at home. I had put Kid in a pretty shitty situation – dying of dehydration and separated from most of the crew – and was puzzling over how to get her out of it. While I was brainstorming, my little brother (who was 12 or 13 at the time) asked me what I was working on. I gave him a quick run-down, and he listened and nodded and advised, in a very serious voice: “You should put a lizard in it.”

And, just like that, I knew how to write myself out of the corner I was stuck in. Thanks, Lucas!



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

KSM:  Here’s an excerpt!
     “Is that a map?” I ask. I can’t read a word of it, but I recognize the shapes of mountains and roads.
     “Again with the stupid questions,” Wolf says. “Of course it’s a damn map. See, it’s got all the towns and shit.”
     “Wow.” This piece of paper holds more of the world than I’ve ever seen, not that it means much. Before I left town, I knew other places like it existed, but certainly not their locations or names. “You guys made this?”
     “Got it off a caravan,” Pretty Boy says.
     “So you stole it?”
     “It doesn’t count as stealing if they’re dead,” Wolf objects.
     “I think it still counts if you killed them for the map…”
     “I never said we killed them,” he says. “And no. That would count as looting, ain’t that right?”
     “Isn’t that worse than stealing?”
     “Whatever.”


TQWhat's next?

KSM:  Expect a sequel to BITE next year!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Bite
Orbit, July 26, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with K.S. Merbeth, author of Bite
Kid is trying to survive in a world gone mad.

Hungry, thirsty and alone in a desert wasteland, she's picked up on the side of the road by Wolf, Dolly, Tank and Pretty Boy - outlaws with big reputations and even bigger guns.

But as they journey across the wild together, Kid learns that her newfound crew may not be the heroes she was hoping for. And in a world that's lost its humanity, everyone has a bit of monster within them...





About K.S. Merbeth

Interview with K.S. Merbeth, author of Bite
Photo by Mauri Mobray
Debut author K.S. Merbeth is obsessed with SFF, food, video games, and her cat and resides in Tuscon, Arizona.











Website  ~ Twitter @ksmerbeth


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2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers


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


K. B. Wagers

Behind the Throne
The Indranan War 1
Orbit, August 2, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers
"Excellent SF adventure debut." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

Hail Bristol has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire.

When she is dragged back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir, she finds that trading her ship for a palace is her most dangerous move yet.



After the Crown
The Indranan War 2
Orbit, December 13, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers
The adrenaline-fueled, Star Wars-style sequel to Behind the Throne, a new space adventure series from author K.B. Wagers.

Former gunrunner-turned-Empress Hail Bristol was dragged back to her home planet to fill her rightful position in the palace. With her sisters and parents murdered, the Indranan empire is on the brink of war. Hail must quickly make alliances with nearby worlds if she has any hope of surviving her rule.

When peace talks turn violent and Hail realizes she's been betrayed, she must rely on her old gunrunning ways to get out of trouble. With help from an old boss and some surprising new allies, she must risk everything to save her world.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Bite by K.S. Merbeth


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Bite by K.S. Merbeth


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


K.S. Merbeth

Bite
Orbit, July 26, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Bite by K.S. Merbeth
Kid is trying to survive in a world gone mad.

Hungry, thirsty and alone in a desert wasteland, she's picked up on the side of the road by Wolf, Dolly, Tank and Pretty Boy - outlaws with big reputations and even bigger guns.

But as they journey across the wild together, Kid learns that her newfound crew may not be the heroes she was hoping for. And in a world that's lost its humanity, everyone has a bit of monster within them...

Interview with Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red


Please welcome Jon Skovron to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Hope and Red is published on June 28th by Orbit. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Jon a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red




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

Jon:  When I was in high school, I was going to be a rock star. It was the early 90's and the grunge/alt scene was in full swing. I played guitar or bass in several bands, wrote lots of angst-ridden songs, and generally made bad life choices. And it all went nowhere because, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't really all that good.

When I was in college, I was going to be a famous actor. I studied at an acting conservatory, got my Equity card, did some shows, even auditioned for some pilots. I was better at acting than I was at playing guitar. But while I enjoyed the art of acting, it turned out, the life of a professional actor made me miserable.

Now, this whole time I had been writing. I journaled extensively. I wrote little short stories here and there, just for my own amusement. I even attempted a novel, which was a shameless rip-off of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But for some reason, I never considered writing a viable career choice until one night, during a particularly hellacious production of Merchant of Venice in which I played Lancelot Gobbo. The play was performed in a warehouse without air conditioning in the middle of summer and the director had inexplicably put me in a wool sailor suit. As I sat backstage, dripping sweat, waiting for my next scene, I was reading The World According to Garp and it occurred to me for the first time that I could be an author.

And that was it. Since that hot summer night in 1999, I have strived to build a writing career. It's taken a while, but things seem to be working out.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jon:  I suppose I'm a hybrid. I write the first few chapters with only a vague idea of where it's all going or what it's all about because I find that thrilling. But usually about a quarter of the way through the book, things start to get muddled. That's when I stop and write my outline. Once I've got that squared away, I go back to writing the draft. Naturally, I ignore most of what I wrote in the outline. But still, writing it makes me feel better and gives me confidence that there is a way to resolve the conflict I so willy-nilly created in those first few chapters.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jon:  What I find most challenging is the business part of being an "author". But if I had to confine myself only to the craft of writing, I think it would be that period in revisions where you can no longer see the forest for the trees. When you are so saturated with the minutia of the story that you've lost the big picture. That's when I have to step away and let it rest for a while. And ideally give it to a trusted reader who still has some perspective.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jon:  Naturally, a lot of my influences are other writers. David Eddings, Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Chabon, China Mieville, Kelly Link, Holly Black, Jeff VanderMeer, Tim Powers, just off the top of my head. My theater background also factors in quite a bit. Playwrights such as Shakespeare, Chekov, and Wilde have had an impact, of course. But I suspect my acting training itself also contributes a great deal. I've also been an avid comics reader, both western and manga, for my whole life. And anyone who reads Hope and Red will be able to spot the obvious influence of a childhood spent watching as many kung fu films as I could get my hands on in the pre-Internet age.



TQHope and Red (The Empire of Storms 1) is your first adult novel. How was the experience in writing Hope and Red different (or the same) as when you write Young Adult novels?

Jon:  The biggest difference for me was simply being able to address topics that are not directly related to the teen experience. There are very few "rules" in YA. Well, maybe that's not as true as it was 5-10 years ago...but I think for the most part that still holds. One of the things that defines YA, though, is that it must be directly and specifically about the teen experience. And while that's fun and cool and all, it's nice to grapple with some more nuanced grown-up things.

Also, more sex and cursing! YAY!

Oddly, I think the gore factor is about the same...though I don't think I could have gotten away with exploding genitalia in YA.



TQDescribe Hope and Red in 140 characters or less.

JonHope and Red is my swashbuckling kung fu gangster pirate romance!



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

Jon:  It's can be pretty funny at times. Red and his mentor, Sadie, come from a gritty urban criminal underworld where everyone has a very...earthy sense of humor.



TQWhat inspired you to write Hope and Red? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Jon:  In general, fantasy was what I read the most as a kid. And I think it's safe to say that I mostly read it to escape the dreary confines of growing up middle class in the Midwest. I left fantasy when I was in college, deeming it not intellectual enough, or something pretentious like that. I let others tell me what to read. And that was fine for a while because I read a lot of amazing, challenging, and impactful literature. But when I decided to start writing seriously, I asked myself what it was I wanted to write, and I came back fairly quickly to fantasy. Partly because it's what made me fall in love with books and writing in the first place. But also because I realized that fantasy is not simply escapism. While getting swept away is a part of the pleasure, there is also this element of using the metaphor of fantasy to see things in our own lives from a fresh perspective.

More specifically, I was inspired to write Hope and Red as a palliative to the commercial pressures of writing YA fiction. I decided to write something totally for me. I wanted to make a world completely from scratch and fill it with all the things I loved best. Turns out, other people like those things, too!



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Hope and Red?

Jon:  I love research. Maybe a little too much. I like to dive deep. So I did extensive research on naval and pirate tactics, particularly during the Napoleonic wars and the "golden age" of piracy. I researched the early history of New York City as a model for my own urban settings. I read a lot of samurai folklore, and of course the Bushido. I re-watched all my favorite kung fu films (what a hardship!), and I read as much wuxia as I could get my hands on, which is the source of a lot of kung fu storytelling.



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

Jon:  Hope was probably the easiest, because she was always in my mind from the very first page. There was no story before Hope. She entered my mind, and everything else flowed from her. I tried my best to keep things balanced between her and Red, and I think I've succeeded. But way deep down, my heart belongs to Hope.

There is a character named Brigga Lin who goes through a significant transformation during the story, and I worked very hard to write about that as thoughtfully and sensitively as I could. Brigga Lin is an absolute delight to write, so it's not difficult exactly. But I feel a responsibility to handle it the right way.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Hope and Red?

Jon:  I didn't set out specifically to write about social issues. For example, when I mentioned to my friend Darren that Red's best friend in the book is gay, he just gave me a wry smile and said, "Write what you know, eh Jonny?" And that's really it. Race, gender, class, and orientation are simply aspects of my life. Family, friends, everyone around me is affected by them. These topics can be enriching or divisive, but they are always present. I see no reason why they wouldn't be present in a fantasy world. In fact, I think a world that didn't include a multitude of races, cultures, and beliefs would be terribly dull.



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

Jon:

Q: You mentioned re-watching your favorite kung fu films as a part of your research. Which is your favorite?

A: My friend Ken Chen introduced me to the highly under-appreciated 1992 film The Swordsman II, starring Jet Li and Brigitte Lin. Jet Li is so young and fresh-faced, full of humor and heart. Brigitte Lin is simply devastating as the villain/love interest, with her deadly needle and thread form. The entire story is so outlandish, and yet it never feels forced. It's very...theatrical. Almost operatic. But with people getting torn in half and stuff.



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

Jon
“What is the child’s name?” asked Hurlo.

“She won’t say for some reason. I half think she doesn’t remember.”

“What shall we call her, then, this child born of nightmare? As her unlikely guardians, I suppose it is now up to us to name her.”

Captain Sin Toa thought about it a moment, tugging at his beard. “Maybe after the village she survived. Keep something of it in memory, at least. Call her Bleak Hope.”


TQWhat's next?

Jon:  Next will be the second book in the Empire of Storms trilogy, Bane and Shadow. I'm not sure exactly when it's coming out, but my understanding is less than a year from now.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jon:  It was my pleasure! Thanks for asking such thoughtful questions.





Hope and Red
The Empire of Storms 1
Orbit Books, June 28, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Interview with Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people will find a common cause.

Hope, the lone survivor when her village is massacred by the emperor's forces is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance.

Red, an orphan adopted by a notorious matriarch of the criminal underworld, learns to be an expert thief and con artist.

TOGETHER THEY WILL TAKE DOWN AN EMPIRE.





About Jon

Interview with Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red
Photo by Ryan Benyi
Jon Skovron is the author of several young adult novels and his short stories have appeared in publications such as ChiZine and Baen's Universe. He lives just outside Washington, D.C. with his two sons and two cats. The Empire of Storms is his first adult fantasy series.









Website  ~ Twitter @jonnyskov  ~  Tumblr

Facebook  ~  Instagram



2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hope and Red by Jon Skovron


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hope and Red by Jon Skovron


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


Jon Skovron

Hope and Red
The Empire of Storms 1
Orbit Books, June 28, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hope and Red by Jon Skovron
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people will find a common cause.

Hope, the lone survivor when her village is massacred by the emperor's forces is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance.

Red, an orphan adopted by a notorious matriarch of the criminal underworld, learns to be an expert thief and con artist.

TOGETHER THEY WILL TAKE DOWN AN EMPIRE.

Interview with Adrian Selby, author of Snakewood


Please welcome Adrian Selby to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Snakewood is published 3/15 by Orbit. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Adrian a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Adrian Selby, author of Snakewood




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

Adrian:  I was eight. I wanted to write the longest story my English teacher had ever seen, and it was FIVE PAGES LONG! It was, shall we say, mildly influenced by Star Wars. I drew many spaceships firing many laser weapons, along with many, many explosions. But I knew then I wanted to be a writer.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Adrian:  Hybrid, I’m probably 80/20 Plotter/Pantser. Serious plotter to start out, lots of prep, bios, background, chapter summaries etc. that give me a good structure. Then as I go, I occasionally see better decisions can be made so I steer course accordingly.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Adrian:  Carving out the time to do it and then needing to ‘switch it on and nail it’ in those hours. Three children and a full-time job make many fascinating demands on me. Opening up the laptop on the 7am commute and trying to write great prose in that bit of ‘me’ time is always a challenge, as is writing at my desk on the weekend while cartoons are blaring… ☺



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Adrian:  Great books and my research mainly. Great books educate me on how to tell stories and challenge me to improve my prose. My research obviously informs the stories I tell. Besides that it can be almost anything. Yesterday I watched an episode of the Danish drama ‘1864’ and they introduced a character played by the marvelous actor Søren Malling, and a reference to his backstory gave me an idea for one of my characters. It could equally be a conversation with a mate in a pub that makes me think of a moment I could write between two characters.



TQYou are a producer for videogames. How has that influenced (or not) your own writing?

Adrian:  It's influenced me in two ways. Working on a games team mean I’ve seen great games arise from creative collaboration. The lead designer might have responsibility for the game, and may have defined the concept, but its execution is a game of co-operation and invention. This helped a lot when getting feedback from my editors on Snakewood. I’m very comfortable taking critical feedback. The second way it’s influenced my writing has been just the challenge of managing people. This game of invention involves getting the best out of a team, helping them to feel trusted and respected, and hopefully then they feel some passion for the project at hand. It’s all human behavior; co-operation and conflict in challenging settings. Some of it has inevitably helped illuminate what might make some characters good leaders, for example. I’ve seen good and bad leadership in my career…



TQDescribe Snakewood in 140 characters or less.

Adrian:  Aged mercenaries of a long disbanded legendary crew race to find the survivors, and the identity of an assassin killing them off one by one.



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

Adrian:  Snakewood is told in a ‘found footage’ style, a collection of reports, interviews and journals with multiple narrators, including the assassin’s.



TQWhat inspired you to write Snakewood? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Adrian:  I’ve loved epic fantasy since I read The Hobbit at the age of ten. Then I started RPGs with some likeminded mates and it blossomed from there. I always wanted to create my own fantasy world, but the world of Snakewood evolved from my desire to have magic based around a world’s plant life, where imbibing concoctions of plant could make you almost superhuman. But, like any hard drugs, a price is paid for this power, which interested me a lot, so I was drawn to tell a story about old soldiers, damaged by these brews, having to face a threat greater than any in their prime.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Snakewood?

Adrian:  I remember one particular Sunday afternoon, when working out the bio for a young abandoned princess, I researched defensive knife fighting techniques and the properties of a good dairy cow. Thank you, Youtube ☺ More generally I researched many aspects of medieval military logistics and tactics, poisons and remedies, the history of trade, sailing, making moonshine, taxation and economics, alchemy, the list goes on and on, a thousand snippets of information about the things I specifically wanted characters to do or know.



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

Adrian:  They were all fairly hard because I’m an inexperienced writer! I found the character Kailen a challenge because he is meant to be a genius, a step ahead of everyone, so it was how to put across that surety and intelligence without him coming across as a bore. The plot thus precludes his actions having the foregone conclusions he expects, so that hopefully keeps him interesting. Gant was also very hard to write, mainly because I wanted to tell his story in a vernacular, as though he wrote it, complete with grammatical inconsistencies and errors. Keeping these ‘mannerisms’ consistent, but not perfectly consistent, especially while ensuring they didn’t bleed into the other narrators’ modes of expression, was a constant challenge.



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

Adrian:  “Hi, I’m from HBO, will you let us make an eight episode series of Snakewood?” “Speak to my agent. Quickly!”



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

Adrian:

“Then a kiss. The lips are the raw end of your terror and love. No steel can toughen lips, they betray more than the eyes when you’re looking for intent and the kiss is for telling them there’s always some way to die.”

“As the hours went by a howling grew in my head, perhaps some infection in my ears. The water chattered as though through a chamber, the damp trees and bushes seemed to be waiting, full of a presence, an intelligence. I could not stop or control this wailing of the things that lived about me, singing their instincts, a discordant orchestration of hunger.”



TQWhat's next?

Adrian:  I’m working out what’s next as we speak. Watch this space I guess. ☺



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Snakewood
Orbit, March 15, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Adrian Selby, author of Snakewood
A LIFETIME OF ENEMIES HAS ITS OWN PRICE

Mercenaries who gave no quarter, they shook the pillars of the world through cunning, chemical brews, and cold steel.

Whoever met their price won.

Now, their glory days are behind them. Scattered to the wind and their genius leader in hiding, they are being hunted down and eliminated.

One by one.

A groundbreaking debut fantasy of betrayal, mystery, and bloody revenge. 





About Adrian

Interview with Adrian Selby, author of Snakewood
Adrian studied creative writing at university before embarking on a career in video game production. He worked for several big-name studios as a producer, before settling down to more conventional work in IT project management. He is a Tolkien fanatic, and online gaming addict, and lives with his wife and family on the south coast of England.

Website  ~ Twitter @adrianlselby


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Snakewood by Adrian Selby


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Snakewood by Adrian Selby


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



Adrian Selby

Snakewood
Orbit, March 15, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Snakewood by Adrian Selby
A LIFETIME OF ENEMIES HAS ITS OWN PRICE

Mercenaries who gave no quarter, they shook the pillars of the world through cunning, chemical brews, and cold steel.

Whoever met their price won.

Now, their glory days are behind them. Scattered to the wind and their genius leader in hiding, they are being hunted down and eliminated.

One by one.

A groundbreaking debut fantasy of betrayal, mystery, and bloody revenge. 

Interview with Jamie Sawyer, author of The Lazarus War Series


Please welcome Jamie Sawyer to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Artefact (The Lazarus War 1) is published in print on February 23rd by Orbit.



Interview with Jamie Sawyer, author of The Lazarus War Series




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

Jamie:  I have always written but I probably started taking it more seriously in my early twenties. There’s something cathartic about it that I just don’t find with any other creative endeavor. I’ve always written SF because I enjoy creating worlds, and creating characters to live in those worlds.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jamie:  I wish that I was a plotter, and it’s popular to say you’re a pantser, but I’m really more of a hybrid. I usually start with a basic plot outline, develop key scenes from there, then just get writing. When I started writing Artefact I didn’t have much more than the introduction, ending and a few of the characters worked out. This way of writing means that my first draft is often a very long way from where I end up, and it makes editing more painful than it should be, but it’s a more organic process. I really wish that I could write out the scene structures and sketch out the novel in more detail like a proper plotter, but I often find characters leading me in directions inconsistent with my original plot!



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jamie:  Knowing when to stop. Because of how I make that first draft, even when it has gone off to my publisher my mind is still buzzing with ideas. I’m constantly fretting about how I can change or improve the manuscript… I’ve heard musicians say the same thing about their music – you just can’t ever stand back from it and say “this piece of work is finished”.



TQWhat has influenced your writing?

Jamie:  This is a hard question, because I’ve been influenced by so much! Obvious influences are probably classic SF, like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and anything by Arthur C Clarke. I’ve read almost all of the books by these authors; firstly as a youth, but latterly I’ve returned to them in adulthood as well. I’m also influenced by video games, movies and comics – anything that has a good story, and is set within a future environment. I’m a sponge so far as influences go; I think most of them are pretty apparent from my books, but I hope what I’ve written is more than just a combination of my influences.



TQDescribe Artefact in 140 characters or less.

Jamie:  Can I give two descriptions? (TQ:  Yes!)

“A soldier who uses cloned bodies to fight a never-ending war discovers an ancient alien weapon that could turn the tide of the conflict.”

Or…

“A full-on pedal to the floor space adventure with aliens, big guns, starships, an ancient artefact, cold war and a man who just won’t stay dead. Welcome to the War.”



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

Jamie:  There are two cold wars in Artefact. Firstly, between the Alliance (the good guys of The Lazarus War universe; a future NATO of sorts) and the Directorate (a broad union of eastern Asiatic states, including China and Unified Korea). Secondly, between humanity and the alien Krell. One of the questions I’d ask readers to consider is which enemy is worse? The Krell are responsible for the bigger body count, but the Directorate are human. If we can understand what they do and why they do it, does that make their actions all-the-worse?



TQWhat inspired you to write Artefact? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Jamie:  I’d probably rely on my answer above about my influences, but to be more specific I wanted to write an exciting, fun science fiction novel that would be something I would want to read. That meant combining all of my favorite ideas: so big aliens, power armor, ancient artefacts and disposable bodies! You can probably trace the heritage of lots of things in the book to their source: for example, Clarke’s Monolith inspired the Artefact.

As to what appeals to me about writing science fiction, it’s the idea that there are no limits. There are no right or wrong answers. The future setting is important, but it’s putting characters into that universe – and watching how they interact with the SF setting, and how it changes their lives – that really excites me.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Artefact?

Jamie:  I researched space dynamics, including topics like time-dilation. The science provided a backdrop to the wider story though; Artefact isn’t a hard science story, and I’d probably say I’ve placed more emphasis on the adventure aspects than the science. Although it is obviously very far advanced from our present tech, in my mind I also drew parallels between the Western world’s use of drones and the Alliance’s use of simulant technology. I read a lot about how drone pilots can become dysfunctional as a result of prolonged operation, and how the tech can cause psychological damage even though the pilots are never physically at war.



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

Jamie:  The easiest character was probably Captain Conrad Harris (the narrator). He kind of just did his own thing; he’s worn out and jaded, but he has a good heart and will risk everything to protect his team. Harris might get drunk a little too often, and I’m sure that Jenkins (his second in command) would call him “a bit of an asshole”, but basically he’s a good guy.

The most difficult character to write was probably the antagonist, Dr Kellerman. It’s very easy to write an antagonist as basically a Bond villain (especially when he’s bald and gets around in a hover-chair!) but I wanted Kellerman to be a multi-dimensional character. He has reasons for doing what he’s doing, even if the rest of us might think they’re unjustifiable. Kellerman really doesn’t think that he is evil, and by the end of the book hopefully you’ll see how he self-justifies his behavior.

Harris and Kellerman are really reflections of the same principles. They both have tragedy under the surface: but one has decided to take a certain course to correct the loss, whereas the other takes a darker path. I can’t say much more on this without giving away some pretty big plot points, so I’ll stop there!



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

Jamie:  Who are the Shard? What do they want with the Krell and with us? Are they really gone?

The answers to these questions, and much more, might be revealed later in The Lazarus War.



TQGive us one or two favorite non-spoilery quotes from Artefact.

Jamie:  “I’m Lazarus. I always come back.” (Captain Conrad Harris, callsign “Lazarus”)



TQ:  What's next?

Jamie:  Well, although Artefact is out in February 2016 in paperback, it has been out for a while on ebook. The sequel to Artefact has already been written, and has been released on ebook too. Called Legion, it’s due for paperback release in May 2016. There was also an ebook novella released in November 2015, called Redemption, which takes the series in a new direction with non-military characters (that one was a lot of fun to write!). I’ve just submitted the copy-edited manuscript of The Lazarus War: Origins – the final book in the series – to my editor, so that will be ready for release in August 2016.

As to where I’m going from there, I’d like to write some more stories in The Lazarus War universe. There’s a lot to explore out there: some of it good, most of it frightening, all of it exciting. I’m currently working on some new ideas for the different directions I could take the ending to the original series. But I’m also considering some story ideas set in completely different universes, so there are a lot of possibilities…



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jamie:  It was a pleasure! Anyone who enjoys Artefact should definitely pick up Legion: things might’ve gotten hot for Harris in Artefact, but they get a whole lot worse in Legion






Artefact
The Lazarus War 1
Orbit, February 23, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 544 pages
Orbit, March 24, 2015
     eBook, 480 pages

Interview with Jamie Sawyer, author of The Lazarus War Series
Artefact is book one of The Lazarus War, an explosive new space adventure series from one of the brightest new stars in science fiction - perfect for fans of The Edge of Tomorrow, Alien and James S. A. Corey's Expanse series. Jack Campbell, author of the Lost Fleet novels calls it "a gripping read that moves at warp speed."

Mankind has spread to the stars, only to become locked in warfare with an insidious alien race. All that stands against the alien menace are the soldiers of the Simulant Operation Programme, an elite military team remotely operating avatars in the most dangerous theatres of war.

Captain Conrad Harris has died hundreds of times - running suicide missions in simulant bodies. Known as Lazarus, he is a man addicted to death. So when a secret research station deep in alien territory suddenly goes dark, there is no other man who could possibly lead a rescue mission.

But Harris hasn't been trained for what he's about to find. And this time, he may not be coming back . . .

Artefact is an action-drenched tale of elite space marines, deep space exploration and galactic empires. Discover The Lazarus War - the thrilling new space opera series from one of the most exciting new voices in science fiction.





More in The Lazarus War

Legion
The Lazarus War 2
Orbit, September 1, 2015
     eBook, 544 pages
Orbit, May 31, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages

Interview with Jamie Sawyer, author of The Lazarus War Series
Following Artefact, Legion is the second book of the Lazarus War, an explosive new space adventure series from one of the brightest new stars in science fiction - perfect for fans of The Edge of Tomorrow, Alien and James S. A. Corey's Expanse series.

Conrad Harris is the legend known as Lazarus, and he has died hundreds of times. Using simulant bodies, he runs suicide missions in the depths of space. But he always comes back.

As commanding officer of the Lazarus Legion, Harris and his elite Simulant Operations team are humanity's last line of defence against the hostile alien race known as the Krell.

Having survived their ordeal on Helios, they're now leading a large-scale mission to the perilous, unexplored region of the Damascus Rift. There, another Artefact has been discovered. It is the product of an ancient alien life form - and a possible weapon to be used against the Krell.

This Artefact could finally help humanity win the war. But what Harris and the Lazarus Legion will discover there is from their worst nightmares . . .

Discover the Lazarus War - the thrilling new space opera series of elite space marines and galactic empires, from one of the most exciting new voices in science fiction.



Redemption
A Lazarus War Novella
Orbit, November 3, 2015
eBook, 75 pages

Interview with Jamie Sawyer, author of The Lazarus War Series
See the world of the Lazarus War in a whole new light, in this thrilling spin-off novella from the new science fiction star Jamie Sawyer.

Their family reunion will be disrupted, however, when a catastrophe strikes the space station. The crew of the Edison suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives - and amongst the chaos, Taniya will discover that she's not the only member of the crew with a secret . . .





About Jamie

Jamie Sawyer was born in 1979 in Newbury, Berkshire. He studied Law at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, acquiring a Master's degree in human rights and surveillance law. Jamie is a full-time barrister, practicing in criminal law. When he isn't working in law or writing, Jamie enjoys spending time with his family in Essex. He is an enthusiastic reader of all types of SF, especially classic authors such as Heinlein and Haldeman.

Website  ~  Twitter @JSawyerAuthor

Interview with Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Immortals


Please welcome Jordanna Max Brodsky to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Immortals was published on February 16th by Orbit.



Interview with Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Immortals




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

Jordanna:  I started writing seriously due to sheer competitive jealousy. My lovely husband fulfilled his lifelong goal of starring on Broadway a few years ago. The only way to cool my burning envy was to get off my ass and start writing that novel I’d always dreamed about.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jordanna:  I always start out with a plotter’s intentions and outlines, then wind up flying pants-less three lines in, only to come back to plotting by the end. It’s a bit of a plot-pant tango.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jordanna:  Remembering that I’m writing a fantasy, not a James Michener novel! I’ve got a background in history and academia, so I tend to get caught up in factual details. I can spend hours researching the exact layout of a certain New York block before reminding myself: “This is a story about Greek gods in modern Manhattan. Strict accuracy is not my most pressing concern!”



TQWhat has influenced your writing?

Jordanna:  I have a wide variety of passions: science fiction, mythology, American history, the outdoors, politics, feminism, and adorable dogs…to name just a few. Perhaps that explains why (to my agent’s chagrin) I tend to create stories that don’t fit neatly into any one genre. The Immortals is a contemporary fantasy, but it also contains elements of noir, historical fiction, action-adventure, bildungsroman, and romance.



TQDescribe The Immortals in 140 characters or less.

Jordanna:  Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, prowls the streets of modern Manhattan, mercilessly punishing men who abuse women.



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

Jordanna:  Artemis, who now goes by the name Selene DiSilva, has lived in Manhattan since it was a tiny settlement in the 1600s, so she knows the city intimately. The action of the book takes place all over the island, in secret places even many longtime residents never see but that are real locations nonetheless. In some ways, the book is as much a love letter to New York as it is to the Olympians.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Immortals? What appeals to you about writing Contemporary Fantasy?

Jordanna:  I’d always wanted to write a book about Greek gods living in the modern day, but it wasn’t until I’d lived in New York for many years that Selene’s character began to take shape. Whether you’re walking in Central Park or sitting on the subway late at night, you’re constantly surrounded by strangers. Visitors often think people in my city are rude or mean, and in my experience that’s simply not true. We may appear a little bit closed off, but our aloofness is a survival strategy: a way to secure a little privacy among a throng of eight and half million people. I think it’s human nature to start imagining what secrets might hide behind all those stern faces.

The very first scene I wrote was a prologue that I later cut from the book. I wrote it in the second person, speaking to the average New Yorker who might spot a silver-eyed woman on the subway and wonder about her story. Then a man who’s attacked a teenage girl in the park finds himself facing this same silver-eyed woman, a six-foot-tall vigilante avenger who’s holding an arrow to his throat and thinks she’s a goddess. As a jaded New Yorker, that sort of confrontation doesn’t actually sound so farfetched. But I started thinking…what would it be like if she really was a goddess after all?



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Immortals? Do you have a favorite Greek myth?

Jordanna:  I had a basic background in mythology before I started, but I still did an immense amount of research. I traveled to Greece and Rome, and I read everything I could, of course, from scholarly treatises on ancient Greek cult practices to every myth I could find about Artemis. My favorite is still one I learned as a kid, about Artemis and Acteon:

Acteon is a young hunter who boasts that he has the best hounds in the land. One day, he stumbles upon Artemis bathing in a forest pool. Even though it’s forbidden to see the chaste goddess naked, he stays to watch. When she catches him spying, she doesn’t scare him off, or beat him up, or even just put him to death. She turns him into a stag. His hunting hounds, seeing the prey in their midst, turn on the stag and rip him limb from limb. That’s the kind of justice Artemis used to mete out in the ancient world—and it’s the kind of justice Selene wishes she could still deliver today.



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

Jordanna:  Perhaps paradoxically, my male protagonist, the classics professor Theo Schultz, was the easiest for me. He’s an intellectual and a talker, who uses humor as a defense mechanism. His personality popped off the page to me from the beginning.

Selene herself, on the other hand, was always a challenge because she’s nothing like me. She doesn’t let anyone get inside her heart or her head. Her nature as an immortal also made things difficult. On the one hand, I wanted her to kick ass. I wanted her to have super powers and be invulnerable. (How awesome would it be if Artemis could still control the phases of the moon?) But as a fan of superhero movies, I didn’t want to fall into the old trap of creating characters who are so invincible that we don’t worry about them. Or so supernatural that we can’t identify. So Artemis, and my other gods, are not omnipotent or omniscient anymore. They retain some semblance of their old attributes, and they age very slowly, but they’re not invulnerable. Some of them are ready to die; others would do anything to stay immortal. All of them are, to a greater or lesser extent, going just a little bit mad—because that seems the only rational response to having existed for three thousand years.



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

Jordanna:  I can never resist opining on social issues! It’s a real problem at cocktail parties.

To many people, Artemis is the ultimate feminist role model, so I couldn’t help addressing that in the book. She’s strong, independent, fearless, and determined to assert a woman’s right to live however she chooses. But those traits meant something different in Ancient Greece than they do today. In a patriarchal society, men couldn’t conceive that a hunter and punisher could also be a mother or a wife. Artemis’s only option was celibacy. Because of her background, Selene buys into this dichotomy even today—so in that way, she isn’t really a feminist at all.

In the modern age, we no longer see femininity and ferocity as mutually exclusive. And we certainly don’t think that sex necessarily equates to motherhood or marriage. When she meets Theo, Selene has to explore the necessity of her own virginity and isolation. How much of her behavior is a choice and how much is simply an acceptance of the role that a male-dominated society has thrust upon her? Acknowledging that those questions exist is, to me, a quintessentially feminist endeavor.



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

Jordanna:  Some day someone will ask about the chapter titles. They’re all epithets! And all the ones that refer to Olympians are actually taken from Ancient Greek. Artemis herself has close to three hundred known epithets, or names—more than any other god. They range from the Good Maiden to the Relentless One to She Who Has Bear Paws for Hands. I wanted to include them because each embodies a different, often contradictory aspect of her personality. As human beings, we each have at least that many names, even if we never articulate them. Like the gods, some of these titles are roles or personality traits we’ve chosen for ourselves—others have been thrust upon us. We can’t help identifying with someone like Selene, who struggles to define her identity in terms of both her own sense of self and others’ expectations of her.



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

Jordanna:

“This was her city. Her people. They might not kneel at her statue as her acolytes had of old, but they worshiped at the same altar she did. We’re all mystai in the same cult, she realized. Bowing to a city that can be as harsh and as compassionate, as fickle and as stalwart, as any Olympian.



TQWhat's next?

Jordanna:  I’m just finishing up the second book in the Olympus Bound series, which has involved deep diving into all sorts of new fields including obscure Roman religions, geocentric astronomy, and the origins of Christmas. After that, Book Three!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Immortals
Olympus Bound 1
Orbit, February 16, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

Interview with Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Immortals
Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone -- just the way she likes it. She doesn't believe in friends, and she doesn't speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous.

In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago -- when her name was Artemis.


Read Melanie's review here.





About Jordanna Max Brodsky

Interview with Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Immortals
Jordanna Max Brodsky hails from Virginia, where she spent four years at a science and technology high school pretending it was a theater conservatory. She holds a degree in History and Literature from Harvard University. When she's not wandering the forests of Maine, she lives in Manhattan with her husband. She often sees goddesses in Central Park and wishes she were one.

Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Olympus Bound Website


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Lazarus War: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Lazarus War: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer


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


Jamie Sawyer

Artefact
The Lazarus War 1
Orbit, February 23, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages
(US Debut)

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Lazarus War: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer
Artefact is book one of The Lazarus War, an explosive new space adventure series from one of the brightest new stars in science fiction - perfect for fans of The Edge of Tomorrow, Alien and James S. A. Corey's Expanse series. Jack Campbell, author of the Lost Fleet novels calls it "a gripping read that moves at warp speed."

Mankind has spread to the stars, only to become locked in warfare with an insidious alien race. All that stands against the alien menace are the soldiers of the Simulant Operation Programme, an elite military team remotely operating avatars in the most dangerous theatres of war.

Captain Conrad Harris has died hundreds of times - running suicide missions in simulant bodies. Known as Lazarus, he is a man addicted to death. So when a secret research station deep in alien territory suddenly goes dark, there is no other man who could possibly lead a rescue mission.

But Harris hasn't been trained for what he's about to find. And this time, he may not be coming back . . .

Artefact is an action-drenched tale of elite space marines, deep space exploration and galactic empires. Discover The Lazarus War - the thrilling new space opera series from one of the most exciting new voices in science fiction.

Interview with K.S. Merbeth, author of Bite2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Bite by K.S. MerbethInterview with Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hope and Red by Jon SkovronInterview with Adrian Selby, author of Snakewood2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Snakewood by Adrian SelbyInterview with Jamie Sawyer, author of The Lazarus War SeriesInterview with Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Immortals2016 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Lazarus War: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer

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