The Qwillery | category: Robert Ashcroft


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Robert Ashcroft, author of The Megarothke

Please welcome Robert Ashcroft to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Megarothke is published on February 27th by Cinestate.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Robert a very Happy Publication Day!

Interview with Robert Ashcroft, author of The Megarothke

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

Robert:  My sophomore year of high school I wrote a piece of flash-fiction. Sort of a dramatization of the “Albatross Riddle” that ended up being around 1000 words. I remember showing it to my little sisters and cousins and thinking, “This stuff is pure gold.” I would highly recommend looking up the riddle online. I would not highly recommend reading my short story about it.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Robert:  First of all, I’m not a fan of the word “pantser.” I feel that it is too negative. Like, how is it fair that one side gets the word “plot” included in their name and the other gets a variation of the word “pants?” What if the terms were “Creative Visionary” vs “Methodical Producer of Contrived Events Ready to be Turned into a Script for Hollywood Consumption?” Because I do think that over plotting can lead to a sort of air-tight movie structure, and I one of my favorite things about books is that they can still be so ragged. You can really get lost in a book.

And if you think I’m being overly defensive here, it’s because there’s a lot of condescension among the “plotters” of the world! You know who you are!

I like to think of writing a novel like the expedition of Lewis and Clark. You’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen, but you’ve got some guns, some rations, and god dammit―you are going to get to the Pacific Ocean. In the end, I much prefer G.R.R. Martin’s terms “Gardeners vs Architects.” Under these definitions, I’m a gardener.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Robert:  Finding the courage to write about difficult subjects. We all read sex scenes as if they were nothing. But then you think about your mom or your friend reading it and all of the sudden it’s NC-17. As you write it, you see everyone you know imagining you as that particular character. This is a rather debilitating aspect that a lot of people never really address.

Let’s say your character murders someone. Or contemplates suicide. There’s a certain barrier that comes with having a loving family and its mostly an artificial one. You have to realize that your writing, to them, is just like painting or fixing cars. An awkward little hobby that they put up with during conversation. Meanwhile you have to believe in yourself to the fullest extent, to live your work, and to write through all criticism and doubt.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Robert:  I still think that J.D. Salinger is in the running for one of the greatest writers of all time. I reread Franny and Zooey recently and he’s got a masterful touch for scene variation, character description, weaving ideas into conversations―he just crushes it. As per the Megarothke specifically, here are the top ten influences:

1. I am Legend, Richard Matheson

2. Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

3. Solaris, Stanislaw Lem

4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick

5. Battle Royale, Koshun Takami

6. In the Miso Soup, Ryu Murakami

7. Girl, In Landscape, Jonathan Lethem

8. Annihilation, Jeff Vandermeer

9. Burning Chrome, William Gibson

10. Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn

TQDescribe The Megarothke in 140 characters or less.

“A book about a monster that brings about the apocalypse and then lives under Los Angeles while abducting humans to perform experiments on them.”

TQHow do you pronounce "Megarothke"?

Robert:  I say it, “Mega-Roth-Key.” It’s worth pointing out that my grandma’s maiden name was Roth. I’m sure psychologically this factors in somehow, but I’m not a psychologist.

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

Robert:  Sometimes I forget to mention that it’s based on the myth of the Minotaur. You’ve got Theo (Theseus), Aria (Ariadne) and the Megarothke (the Minotaur). I probably should have had it added to the description, but I was deployed during the early phases of the publishing process and really couldn’t spend as much time on it as I would have liked. That being said, the publishers wrote a really thorough two paragraph summary that really gets at the core of the book. I’m not sure I even really understood what the book was until they had summarized it for me.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Megarothke?

Robert:  The name came to me in a sort of dream-like state while living in South Korea in 2010. I wrote a short story with the same title and then began adding to it. Then it was a novella, and then a novel, and all throughout the process, people kept saying, “This is good, but you’ve got to change the name.” To me, the book only exists because of the name. I don’t think I can explain it rationally. I get these things sometimes, like an obsession, and my mind won’t let them go until the idea has been set free.

TQThe Megarothke is described as "sci-fi/horror novel infused with Nietzschean philosophy..." What appeals to you about writing SF and Horror? Why Nietzsche?

Robert:  Nietzsche is a big part of the book in the sense that the Megarothke co-opts a lot of popular misinterpretations about the ubermensch. There is a sort of love affair in some tech circles with “improvement” and I really think that the natural extension of this would lead to an other-than-human form of life. Within Zarathustra, there are a lot of really empowering lines. Lines that encourage you to go above and beyond those around you. The problem with empowerment is that sometimes it leads to selfishness and cruelty. When we’re too powerful, we lose perspective and empathy.

I first read Thus Spoke Zarathustra when I was living alone in Mexico as a twenty year old. I didn’t understand it but I would go back and reread sections, almost like you read a religious text.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Megarothke?

Robert:  I spent a lot of time looking at maps of Los Angeles.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Megarothke.

Robert:  The cover design is styled to mimic a retro, straight-to-VHS science fiction movie. The word “gonzo” got used a lot during the conversations about it’s creation, and within the right film context that makes a lot of sense. When I look at designs online, minimalist renderings of famous works often catch my eye, but I have to think: What if I was looking at stand of twenty books by authors I’d never heard of before?

The more I see it out there, the more I love it. At the end of the day I think Cinestate and their designer, Ashley Detmering, did a great job.

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

Robert:  The easiest character was probably Takatoshi, because his lines just sort of came from a natural place. The hardest character was Aria, the semi-love interest, because she has her own unique story line and it’s hard to capture a strong female character without giving them a lot of screen time. To be honest, this was even harder than writing the transgendered character, Mathew, because he had a lot to say.

Aria is stuck within a power structure she can’t control, surrounded by a bunch of violent maniacs with very little to lose. She needed to be tough but vulnerable, strong but likeable―I’m not sure if I succeeded. I got a lot of input from some of the members of the writing group I was a part of in Harker Heights, TX: Alexandra Burt, Sandra Desjardins, Andrea McAuley and Kat Wooley. They would say things like, “No woman in the history of the world has ever thought this sentence.” At several key points, the actions of the female characters changed in response to their insight and it’s a much stronger book because of it.

I’ve also got about sixty pages of a parallel novel from Aria’s point of view. She definitely has the most unpublished backstory throughout the book.

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

Robert:  There’s a transgendered character in the novel. In the end, I really believe that it’s a civil rights/human rights issue and I hope that comes across within the text. Mathew is probably the most complex character in the novel. He's not airbrushed and perfect, but he really does have goals and aspirations that mature and shift as the novel progresses. Without getting too political, I believe America is a country that should lead the way in creating a space where all people can live as they choose.

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

Robert:  How much chocolate did you eat while writing the Megarothke?

Way too much. I went through entire phases of different brand loyalty and styles, and am still going through them. I write in the mornings, so I don’t even eat breakfast anymore. I just slam down chocolate with coffee until my stomach hurts and call it good. I heard once about George Harrison mentioning that he liked jelly beans (or jelly babies or some British nonsense) and then getting pelted with them on stage. I would gladly get pelted with chocolate. That being said, I’m not a Beatle.

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

Robert:  This one gets brought up in a lot of reviews: “Intimacy can be sudden: a primal ache; a desperation that your whole life has been missing something up until that point.”

But I’m more partial to this one: “There are rooms you can sense before you actually trace their outlines, almost as if your body were able to inhale a portion of their expanding volume.”

TQWhat's next?

Robert:  I’m working on a military science fiction novel called The Bureaucracy and the Egregore. Much like The Megarothke, I’ve been told the title will never work. I hope to have the first draft finished by May, 2018, and then to be done within the year. I’ve been writing it for over a year now and I think that two to three years per novel is as fast as I can go and still feel I’m doing a good job.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Megarothke
Cinestate, February 27, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages

Interview with Robert Ashcroft, author of The Megarothke
Blade Runner meets Westworld via Resident Evil in this shocking, gripping debut sci-fi/horror novel infused with Nietzschean philosophy, exploring humanity's darkest desire for transcendence.

Seven years after the limitless depths of the Hollow War decimated Earth, leaving only 50,000 humans to fight for survival in Los Angeles, Theo Abrams is sent on a mission to destroy the enigmatic being that initiated this apocalypse, confronting the fact that humanity's yearning to transcend reality caused its downfall . . .

Robert Ashcroft, trained as cryptologic linguist, has worked as a State Department contractor and was recently mobilized to serve abroad with the US Army Reserve.

About Robert

Interview with Robert Ashcroft, author of The Megarothke
Robert Ashcroft, trained as cryptologic linguist, has worked as a State Department contractor and was recently mobilized to serve abroad with the US Army Reserve.

Website  ~  Twitter @AshcroftAuthor


The View From Monday - February 26, 2018

Happy Monday!

There are 2 debuts this week:

The Megarothke by Robert Ashcroft;


Echoes the Roger Arthur Smith.

The View From Monday - February 26, 2018The View From Monday - February 26, 2018
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

Zero Day (The Hatching 3) by Ezekiel Boone;

The Hatching Ebook Box Set by Ezekiel Boone;

Starfire: Memory's Blade (The Starfire Trilogy 3) by Spencer Ellsworth;

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave (Charley Davidson 12) by Darynda Jones is out in Mass Market Paperback;

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor 1) by Mark Lawrence is out in Mass Market Paperback;


It Takes a Coven (A Witch City Mystery 6) by Carol J. Perry.

The View From Monday - February 26, 2018 The View From Monday - February 26, 2018
The View From Monday - February 26, 2018 The View From Monday - February 26, 2018
The View From Monday - February 26, 2018 The View From Monday - February 26, 2018
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

The View From Monday - February 26, 2018

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

February 27, 2018
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories Michael Andreasen LF
Planet of the Apes Omnibus 4 William Arrow SF - Planet of the Apes
The Megarothke (D) Robert Ashcroft SF/AP/PA
Gridlinked (e) Neal Asher SF - Agent Cormac 1
The Skinner (e) Neal Asher SF - Spatterjay 1
Brass Man (e) Neal Asher SF - Agent Cormac 3
Hauntings of the Western Lunatic Asylum Steve E. Asher Sup
The Initiation Chris Babu Dys
The Tangled Lands Paolo Bacigalupi
Tobias S. Buckell
Witch Creek Laura Bickle UF - Wildlands 2
Zero Day Ezekiel Boone H - The Hatching 3
The Hatching Ebook Box Set: The Hatching, Skitter, and Zero Day (e) Ezekiel Boone H
The Black Elfstone: The Fall of Shannara (h2mm) Terry Brooks F - The Fall of Shannara 1
Witchy Eye D.J. Butler F
The King in Yellow, Deluxe Edition Robert W. Chambers H/Sup
Starfire: Memory's Blade Spencer Ellsworth SF/SO - The Starfire Trilogy 3
Praetorian of Dorn (tp2mm) John French SF - The Horus Heresy 39
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter (h2tp) Theodora Goss F - The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club 1
Eternity Gate Traci Harding F - Time Keeper Trilogy 2
Hawkyn: A Demonica Underworld Novella Larissa Ione PNR
The Trouble with Twelfth Grave (h2mm) Darynda Jones PM - Charley Davidson 12
The Kill Society (h2tp) Richard Kadrey UF - Sandman Slim 9
Fire in the Ocean K.D. Keenan CF- Gods of the New World 2
Red Sister (h2mm) Mark Lawrence F - Book of the Ancestor 1
Relics (tp2mm) Tim Lebbon DF
Deadland 2: Immortal Paul Mannering SF/AP/PA
The Listener Robert McCammon H
The Hyperspace Trap Christopher Nuttall SF/SO
The Dead Road Seth Patrick H - Reviver Trilogy 3
It Takes a Coven Carol J. Perry PCM - A Witch City Mystery 6
Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection (h2mm) Brandon Sanderson F
Echoes (D) Roger Arthur Smith H
Blade and Bone Jon Sprunk F - The Book of the Black Earth 3
Borne (h2tp) Jeff VanderMeer LF
The Strange Bird Jeff VanderMeer LF
Dark Masques J.N. Williamson (Ed) H - Anthology
Angeleyes (h2mm) Michael Z. Williamson SF - Freehold 7

February 28, 2018
Hellraiser: The Toll Mark Alan Miller H
Penric's Fox Lois McMaster Bujold F
Widow's Point Richard Chizmar
Billy Chizmar

March 1, 2018
Last Dragon Standing (Ke) Rachel Aaron CyP/UF Heartstrikers 3
Awakening the Shifter (e) Jane Godman PNR
Into the Thinnest of Air: A paranormal country house murder mystery Simon R. Green PM - An Ishmael Jones Mystery 5
An American Witch in Paris (e) Michele Hauf PNR
Harlequin Nocturne March 2018 Box Set: An American Witch in Paris\Awakening the Shifter (e) Michele Hauf
Jane Godman
H.P. Lovecraft: Selected Works, Critical Perspectives and Interviews on His Influence
H.P. Lovecraft
Leverett Butts (Ed)
H - Collection

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint

AC - Alien Contact
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CyP - Cyberpunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GH - Ghost(s)
GN - Graphic Novel
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
LF - Literary Fiction
LitCol - Literary Collection
LM - Legend and Mythology
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
NR - Near Future
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SO - Space Opera
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy

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

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2018 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on March 7, 2018.

Vote for your favorite February 2018 Debut Cover! free polls

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts
Cover artwork by © ruby onyinyechi amanze

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts
Cover design by Dawn Adams

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts
Cover Art by Bob Eggleton

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts
Cover Art by Jonathan Coulthart

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts
Photo by Nigel Cattlin
Design by Jamie Stafford-Hill

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts
Cover Art by Jeff Chapman
Layout and typography by Shawn King

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts

There are 12 debut novels for February.

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

The February debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite February cover for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on February 15, 2018.

If you are participating as a reader in the Challenge, please let us know in the comments what you are thinking of reading or email us at "DAC . TheQwillery @ gmail . com" (remove the spaces and quotation marks). Please note that we list all debuts for the month (of which we are aware), but not all of these authors will be 2018 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for February 2018. The list is correct as of the day posted.

Robert Ashcroft

The Megarothke
Cinestate, February 27, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Blade Runner meets Westworld via Resident Evil in this shocking, gripping debut sci-fi/horror novel infused with Nietzschean philosophy, exploring humanity's darkest desire for transcendence.

Seven years after the limitless depths of the Hollow War decimated Earth, leaving only 50,000 humans to fight for survival in Los Angeles, Theo Abrams is sent on a mission to destroy the enigmatic being that initiated this apocalypse, confronting the fact that humanity's yearning to transcend reality caused its downfall . . .

Robert Ashcroft, trained as cryptologic linguist, has worked as a State Department contractor and was recently mobilized to serve abroad with the US Army Reserve.

Sue Burke

Tor Books, February 6, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches...and waits...

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.

Akwaeke Emezi

Grove Press, February 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 240 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Ada has always been unusual. As an infant in southern Nigeria, she is a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents successfully prayed her into existence, but something must have gone awry, as the young Ada becomes a troubled child, prone to violent fits of anger and grief.

But Ada turns out to be more than just volatile. Born “with one foot on the other side,” she begins to develop separate selves. When Ada travels to America for college, a traumatic event crystallizes the selves into something more powerful. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these alters—now protective, now hedonistic—move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dangerous direction.

Written with stylistic brilliance and based in the author’s realities, this raw and extraordinary debut explores the metaphysics of identity and being, plunging the reader into the mysteries of self. Unsettling, heart-wrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.

Jasmine Gower

Angry Robot, February 6, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Daisy’s starting a new job and stylish city life, but mage-hunters out for her dark magic threaten to destroy her vogue image.

In the flourishing metropolis of Soot City (a warped version of 1920s Chicago), progressive ideals reign and the old ways of magic and liquid mana are forbidden. Daisy Dell is a Modern Girl – stylish, educated and independent – keen to establish herself in the city but reluctant to give up the taboo magic inherited from her grandmother.

Her new job takes her to unexpected places, and she gets more attention than she had hoped for. When bounty hunters start combing the city for magicians, Daisy must decide whether to stay with her new employer – even if it means revealing the grim source of her occult powers.

File Under: Fantasy [ A Modern Girl in Soot City | Bootleg Magic | Shady Dealings | Revealing her Powers ]

Les Johnson

Mission to Methone
Baen, February 6, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
     (Solo Debut)

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
The year is 2065 and an accidental encounter in space leads to the discovery that we are not alone in the universe—and that our continued existence as a species may be in jeopardy.

Chris Holt, working in his office at the Space Resources Corporation, discovers that one of the asteroids he is surveying for mining is actually not an asteroid at all but a derelict spaceship. The word gets out and soon the world's powers are competing to explore and claim for themselves the secrets that it holds.

What they don't know is that across the galaxy, a war has been underway for millennia. A war between alien civilizations that have very different ideas about what should be done about emerging spacefaring civilizations like our own. The artificial intelligence resident in the derelict Holt discovered has been in our solar system since before the dawn of human civilization, watching, waiting and keeping quiet lest the interstellar war return and wipe out the sentient race that now resides there—humanity.

And that war might soon be again coming to our front door. The truth can only be discovered on Methone, a tiny, egg-shaped moon of the planet Saturn. Who will get there first? And will it be in time?

Tom Miller

The Philosopher's Flight
Simon & Schuster, February 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. “Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell.” (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

Tina LeCount Myers

The Song of All
The Legacy of the Heavens 1
Night Shade Books, February 20, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 452 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
A former warrior caught between gods and priests must fight for the survival of his family in this dark epic fantasy debut, set in a harsh arctic world inspired by Scandinavian indigenous cultures.

On the forbidding fringes of the tundra, where years are marked by seasons of snow, humans war with immortals in the name of their shared gods. Irjan, a human warrior, is ruthless and lethal, a legend among the Brethren of Hunters. But even legends grow tired and disillusioned.

Scarred and weary of bloodshed, Irjan turns his back on his oath and his calling to hide away and live a peaceful life as a farmer, husband, and father. But his past is not so easily left behind. When an ambitious village priest conspires with the vengeful comrades Irjan has forsaken, the fragile peace in the Northlands of Davvieana is at stake.

His bloody past revealed, Irjan’s present unravels as he faces an ultimatum: return to hunt the immortals or lose his child. But with his son’s life hanging in the balance, as Irjan follows the tracks through the dark and desolate snow-covered forests, it is not death he searches for, but life.

David Pedreira

Gunpowder Moon
Harper Voyager, February 13, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
“Interesting quirks and divided loyalties flesh out this first novel in which sf and mystery intersect in a well-crafted plot...Pedreira’s science thriller powerfully highlights the human politics and economics from the seemingly desolate expanse of the moon. It will attract readers who enjoyed Andy Weir’s lunar crime caper Artemis.” -- Library Journal, starred review

A realistic and chilling vision of life on the Moon, where dust kills as easily as the vacuum of space…but murder is even quicker—a fast-paced, cinematic science fiction thriller, this debut novel combines the inventiveness of The Martian, the intrigue of The Expanse, and the thrills of Red Rising.

The Moon smells like gunpowder. Every lunar walker since Apollo 11 has noticed it: a burnt-metal scent that reminds them of war. Caden Dechert, the chief of the U.S. mining operation on the edge of the Sea of Serenity, thinks the smell is just a trick of the mind—a reminder of his harrowing days as a Marine in the war-torn Middle East back on Earth.

It’s 2072, and lunar helium-3 mining is powering the fusion reactors that are bringing Earth back from environmental disaster. But competing for the richest prize in the history of the world has destroyed the oldest rule in space: Safety for All. When a bomb kills one of Dechert’s diggers on Mare Serenitatis, the haunted veteran goes on the hunt to expose the culprit before more blood is spilled.

But as Dechert races to solve the first murder in the history of the Moon, he gets caught in the crosshairs of two global powers spoiling for a fight. Reluctant to be the match that lights this powder-keg, Dechert knows his life and those of his crew are meaningless to the politicians. Even worse, he knows the killer is still out there, hunting.

In his desperate attempts to save his crew and prevent the catastrophe he sees coming, the former Marine uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that, with one spark, can ignite a full lunar war, wipe out his team . . . and perhaps plunge the Earth back into darkness.

Kaethe Schwehn

The Rending and the Nest
Bloomsbury USA, February 20, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one's own story.

When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.

Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object--and other women of Zion follow suit--the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn't return, Mira must decide how much she's willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.

Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others--and within ourselves?

Roger Arthur Smith

Baobob Press, February 27, 2018
Trade Paperback, 307 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
Roger Arthur Smith’s spectacular debut, Echoes, asks, what happens when your fundamental nature is challenged, not by the many evils without, but by an unexpected awakening within?

It’s 1960 in Hawthorne, Nevada, a desert town so secluded that the U.S. Navy stores munitions nearby. While the Cold war lumbers on, the town’s gossip mills and marriage-eligible bachelors and bachelorettes play a game of cat and mouse, a pastime, that if nothing else, manages to while away the hours. Attorney Will Dubykky keeps a watchful eye over Hawthorne, and it comes as no surprise that his interest is piqued by the sudden appearance of a strange boy. Why is this boy disfigured? Why does he have difficulty speaking? Why can’t some people seem to see him? As one of the initiated, Dubykky has an inkling; the boy is evil, an echo sent to rectify the wrongs of an indulgent murderer. The echo’s mission? Tempt, trap and eliminate the human monster that spawned it. If all goes according to evil’s intent, the echo will die fulfilling its destiny. This fatal sequence has persisted as long as evil itself, but before the dark circle can be closed, riddles must be solved. In a town this small, who is capable of committing a string of heinous crimes undetected? And, when the time comes will this echo, more naïve and innocent than any echo Dubykky has ever encountered, fulfill its gruesome destiny? Echoes, is a wildly entertaining, gloriously absorbing exploration of humanity, evil, and the stark environs in which both exist.

Keith Thomas

The Clarity
Atria/Leopoldo & Co., February 20, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
For fans of Black Mirror and True Detective, a visceral high‑concept thriller about a psychologist who must protect the life of an eleven-year-old girl whose ability to remember past lives makes them both targets of a merciless killer.

Dr. Matilda Deacon is a psychologist researching how memories are made and stored when she meets a strange eleven-year-old girl named Ashanique. Ashanique claims to harbor the memories of the last soldier killed in World War I and Matilda is at first very interested but skeptical. However, when Ashanique starts talking about being chased by the Night Doctors—a term also used by an unstable patient who was later found dead—Matilda can’t deny that the girl might be telling the truth.

Matilda learns that Ashanique and her mother have been on the run their whole lives from a monstrous assassin named Rade. Rade is after a secret contained solely in memories and has left a bloody trail throughout the world in search of it. Matilda soon realizes Ashanique is in unimaginable danger and that her unique ability comes with a deadly price.

Fast-paced, suspenseful, and a chilling blend of science and danger, The Clarity is a compelling take on the possibilities of reincarnation and life after death.

Maria Vale

The Last Wolf
The Legend of All Wolves 1
Sourcebooks Casablanca, February 6, 2018
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts
For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.

If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die.
But if she stays…

Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…
Interview with Robert Ashcroft, author of The MegarothkeThe View From Monday - February 26, 20182018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - February Debuts2018 Debut Author Challenge - February Debuts

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