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Guest Blog by Steven John, author of Outrider and Three A.M. - September 17, 2014


Please welcome Steven John to The Qwillery. Outrider, Steven's second novel, was published by Night Shade Books on September 16th.



Guest Blog by Steven John, author of Outrider and Three A.M. - September 17, 2014





Roughly between the time my first novel, THREE A.M., was published back in early 2012 and the release of my second book, OUTRIDER, my life has changed in many ways, not the least of which has been my relationship with writing.

Both of the books I’ve thus far had published were written when I was fully employed. I grabbed what time I had during lunchtime or late at night to write; I snuck in editing sessions there at my desk. I told myself things like: “Just write for 20 minutes a day at least!” or “Just do 500 words, minimum!” And despite how little time I had to devote to writing… it worked. I wrote books.

I have since become what I suppose I can fairly call a “professional writer.” In fact, I think I have to call it that: I’m a freelancer who pens articles under my own name for multiple websites and as a nameless scribe for several more. I write marketing copy, humorous blog posts (I’d like to think, anyway), I write about the tech world, and I often write about writing. But sadly, I also write less fiction.

In the past, those few minutes of writing were an escape for me; writing a paragraph or two of halfway-decent fiction was like turning a release valve on the day. But of late, when I have often written upward of three, sometimes four thousand words a day of copy for various assignments, trying to motivate myself to work on finishing book #4, or at least continuing the edit of #3, can be a daunting task indeed. The fisherman doesn’t unwind with more fishing, nor does the lawyer relax at night by reading a few more briefs, after all.

There’s another factor at play, mind you: in October of last year my wife and I had our first child, a boy named Benjamin. He is charming, brilliant, and handsome, and he will neither suffer boredom nor will he sleep through the night (11 months on and he has done so once). Our son is a treasure, but he is also exhausting in a way I had never dreamt possible (they don’t give you the handbook until you already have kids, nonparents. It’s goddamn sneaky of them).

The blend of too much “hired gun” writing, almost no free time, and precious little sleep had, for months, ground my fiction writing to a near-standstill. But then something happened: as stipulated in the contract I signed so long ago with my publisher Skyhorse (now the parent company of the venerable Night Shade Books, the logo actually gracing the book’s spine), a box full of books showed up at my door a few days ago. Though it was not the first time this had happened, and though I vaguely knew they were coming, it was still a compelling moment when I opened the nondescript cardboard box and looked down to see my name on the cover of the novels therein bubble-wrapped.

When I flipped through a few pages of OUTRIDER, I had to let myself admit that “Hey, this is pretty good writing, actually.” The next day I opened up a file I had not double-clicked on in weeks and edited a few pages of my third novel (let’s call it… UNTITLED – that has a nice ring to it). Again, I was pleasantly surprised to find sentences I enjoyed reading. It hit me not as an epiphany, but certainly as a motivator that if I wanted to have any more moments like that any time soon, I had to get my nose to the grind. No one else is going to write books for me; that’s not how it works.

How it works is saying: “Just write for 20 minutes a day at least!” or “Just do 500 words, minimum!” So now I’m going to sign off and see if I can’t take my own admonitions to heart – sure, there may be less free time in the day, but I’ve got 20 minutes. The kid has to nap sometime, and I can always catch up on my own sleep when the next book is finished.





Outrider
Night Shade Books, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Steven John, author of Outrider and Three A.M. - September 17, 2014
Within a few decades, solar technology will evolve to the point where power is endless . . . unless someone wants to stop the flow—which someone does.

And the only men who can stop these high-tech terrorists are on horseback.

In the near future, the New Las Vegas Sunfield will be one of many enormous solar farms to supply energy to the United States. At more than fifty miles long and two miles wide, the Sunfield generates an electromagnetic field so volatile that ordinary machinery and even the simplest electronic devices must be kept miles away from it. Thus, the only men who can guard the most technologically advanced power station on earth do so on horseback.

They are the Outriders.

Though the power supplied by the Sunfield is widespread, access to that power comes with total deference to the iron-fisted will of New Las Vegas’s ruthless mayor, Franklin Dreg. Crisis erupts when Dreg’s quietly competent secretary, Timothy Hale, discovers someone has been stealing energy—siphoning it out of the New Las Vegas grid under cover of darkness.

As the Outriders investigate, the scale of the thievery becomes clear: these aren’t the ordinary energy leeches, people who steal a few watts here or there. These are high-tech terrorists (or revolutionaries) engaged in a mysterious and dangerous enterprise and poised to bring down the entire energy grid, along with the millions of people it supports.

The pressure mounts and fractures appear within both the political leadership of New Las Vegas and in the tight-knit community of Outriders. With a potential crisis looming, the mysterious goal of the “Drainers” finally comes into focus. Only then do the Outriders realize how dangerous the situation really is.





About Steven

Guest Blog by Steven John, author of Outrider and Three A.M. - September 17, 2014
Steven John is a writer living in Glendale, California (by way of Washington DC). He and his wife Kristin, an elementary school teacher, were joined by their son Benjamin in October of 2013. In addition to writing for several websites and journals, Steven published his first novel, THREE A.M., in 2012. His second book, OUTRIDER, hits shelves in September of 2014. When not writing or spending time with his family, Steven tries to squeeze in some mountain climbing.








Website  ~  Twitter @StevenJohn3AM


The View From Monday - September 15, 2014


Happy Monday! I'm incredibly behind on reading. Getting part of a house ready for renovations, especially when your family started living in the house in the late 1960s is a major, exhausting and liberating experience. My inner very tidy person is extremely happy, but it is an amazing amount of work. I should have a dumpster on standby at all times. Enough about that. Demolition starts Wednesday and I get to just sit back and watch (hopefully).


The View From Monday - September 15, 2014


There are 3 Debuts this week:

Mr. Wicker by Maria Alexander;

The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin;

and

The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato.


From formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Authors:

A Vault of Sins (Chaos Theory 2) by Sarah Harian;

and

Outrider by Steven John.



September 15, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Mayor of the Universe: A Novel Lorna Landvik SF
Clockwork Secrets: Heavy Fire Dru Pagliassotti SP - Clockwork Trilogy 3
The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature's Greatest Monsters Andrew McConnell Stott Biography



September 16, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Mr. Wicker (D) Maria Alexander FT
Stone Mattress: Nine Tales Margaret Atwood Collection
Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon David Barnett SP - Gideon Smith 2
Siren's Song (e) Dana Marie Bell PNR - Gray Court 5
The Anatomy of Dreams (D) Chloe Benjamin LF/Th
Broken Monsters Lauren Beukes Th
The Clockwork Dagger (D) Beth Cato SP
Ancestral Machines (e) Michael Cobley SF - Humanity's Fire 4
The Grey Knights Omnibus Ben Counter SF - Warhammer 40,000
Battle for the Blood (e) Lucienne Diver UF - Latter-Day Olympians 4
The Night Visitor (e) Dianne Emley P/Th
Forge of Darkness (h2tp) Steven Erikson F - Kharkanas Trilogy 1
The Darkwar Saga: Flight of the Nighthawks, Into a Dark Realm, and Wrath of a Mad God (e) Raymond E. Feist F - Darkwar Saga
The Legends of the Riftwar: Honored Enemy, Murder in LaMut, and Jimmy the Hand (e) Raymond E. Feist F - Legends of the Riftwar
Brian Froud's Faeries' Tales Wendy Froud F
Burning Desire: Part 2 (e) Donna Grant PNR - Dark Kings
Phantasm Japan: Fantasies Light and Dark, From and About Japan Haikasoru (ed) F - Anthology
A Vault of Sins (e) Sarah Harian SF/R - Chaos Theory 2
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute (h2tp) Jonathan L. Howard H - Johannes Cabal 3
Black Water: A Jane Yellowrock Collection (e) Faith Hunter UF - Jane Yellowrock 6.3
The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane Alex Irvine F/TT - Sleepy Hollow
Outrider Steven John SF
The Golem of Hollywood Jonathan Kellerman
Jesse Kellerman
PM
Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection Jay Lake SF - Collection
The God Hunter Tim Lees UF - Field Ops
Conduits (K e) Jennifer Loring H
Once Haunted, Twice Shy H.P. Mallory PM - Peyton Clark 2
Gifts for the One Who Comes After Helen Marshall DF/ New Weird - Collection
Dragon Age: Last Flight Liane Merciel F - Dragon Age 5
Johnny Alucard (h2tp) Kim Newman H - Anno Dracula 4
The Signs of the Zodiac: The Scent of Shadows, The Taste of Night, and The Touch of Twilight (e) Vicki Pettersson UF - Signs of the Zodiac
They Do the Same Things Different There: The Best Weird Fantasy of Robert Shearman Robert Shearman WeirdF
Lords of the Underworld Collection 3: The Darkest Secret\The Darkest Surrender\The Darkest Seduction Gena Showalter PNR - Lords of the Underworld
Starfish (e) Peter Watts SF - Rifters Trilogy 1
The Way Inn Will Wiles M/Speculative



September 17, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Selfies: A Tor.com Original (e) Lavie Tidhar H



September 20, 2014
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Entice Me at Twilight (ri) Shayla Black PNR
Altar of Bones (ri) Philip Carter Th
Doom 3: Maelstrom (ri) Matthew Costello SF
Amazon Queen (ri) Lori Devoti UF - Queen 2
The Better Part of Darkness (ri) Kelly Gay UF -  Charlie Madigan
Demon Possessed (ri) Stacia Kane UF - Megan Chase 3
Highborn (ri) Yvonne Navarro UF - Dark Redemption 1
Black Dust Mambo (ri) Adrian Phoenix UF - Hoodoo 1
Heir of Danger (ri) Alix Rickloff PNR - Heirs of Kilronan Trilogy 3


D - Debut
e - eBook
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
K e - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint


DF - Dark Fantasy
F - Fantasy
FT - Fairy Tale
H - Horror
LF - Literary Fiction
M - Mystery
P - Paranormal
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
R - Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SP - Steampunk
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy


Yet Another 2012 Debut Author Challennge Update - May 14, 2014


Here are upcoming books for some of the authors who were featured in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.

Benedict Jacka

Hidden
Alex Verus 5
Ace, September 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Yet Another 2012 Debut Author Challennge Update - May 14, 2014
With his talent for divining the future, Alex Verus should have foreseen his friends’ reactions to the revelations about his previous life. Anne Walker no longer trusts him—and has also cut all ties with the mage community after getting kicked out of the apprentice program. As a favor to Luna, Alex’s own apprentice and Anne’s best friend, he checks in on her only to be told to leave her alone.

Then Anne gets kidnapped. The Council Keepers of the Order of the Star believe Dark mages from her past may be involved. Working with the Keepers, Alex and Luna discover that Anne has been taken into the shadow realm of Sagash, her former Dark mage mentor, and they must find a way to rescue her.

But another shadow from the past has resurfaced—Alex’s former master may be back in London, and Alex has no idea what his agenda is…







Steven John

Outrider
Night Shade Books, September 2, 2014
Trade Paperback, 320 pages

Yet Another 2012 Debut Author Challennge Update - May 14, 2014
The only people that can stop the high-tech terrorists who are stealing power are on horseback.

In the very near future, the United States’ energy needs are supplied by enormous solar farms the size of a small state. The panels generate an energy field that prevents ordinary machinery and electronics from functioning. The fields have to be guarded and tended by men on horseback: the Outriders.

New Las Vegas is ruled with an iron fist by Mayor Franklin Dreg and his quietly competent personal assistant, Timothy Hale. Crisis erupts when Hale discovers someone has been stealing energy—siphoning it out of the New Las Vegas grid under cover of darkness. As the Outriders investigate, the scale of the thieving becomes clear: these aren’t ordinary energy leechers. These are high-tech terrorists, or revolutionaries engaged in a mysterious and dangerous enterprise that could bring down the entire energy grid and the city it supports.

As pressures mount, fractures appear, both in the political leadership of New Las Vegas and among the tight-knit community of Outriders. As the pressure continues to grow, the mysterious goal of the “Drainers” finally comes into focus. Only then do the Outriders realize how dangerous the situation really





Ted Kosmatka

Divining Light
Henry Holt and Co., July 1, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Yet Another 2012 Debut Author Challennge Update - May 14, 2014
Brilliantly conceived and multilayered, Divining Light is a high-concept thriller that questions what it really means to be human

In Ted Kosmatka’s wildly original and genre-busting Divining Light, a groundbreaking new discovery changes the world forever
.
Out of a job and struggling with depression and alcohol abuse after a breakdown, the brilliant quantum physicist Eric Angus is given a second chance after he’s hired on a probationary basis by an old friend who runs Hansen, a prestigious Boston-area research lab. Unable to find inspiration for a project, Eric stumbles upon old equipment used for Feynman’s double-slit experiment and decides to re-create the test in order to see the results for himself.

Eric probes deeper into Feynman’s theory, with the help of fellow scientists Satish and Mi Chang. After extensive tests on frogs, dogs, chimps, working their way up every phylum, class, and order in the animal kingdom, Eric and his team establish a link between conscious observation and an evolutionary trait that is distinctly human: the soul. Mass chaos ensues after they publish the results of their experiment and Eric is bombarded by reporters angling for exclusive interviews and wanting to debate the varying implications. Questions arise when certain people appear to be “soulless,” and after Satish mysteriously disappears, Eric risks everything to answer them.





Daniel O'Malley

Stiletto
The Rook 2
Little, Brown and Company, February 10, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Yet Another 2012 Debut Author Challennge Update - May 14, 2014
In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic -- and slimy -- supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers---and the bureaucratic finesse---to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy---the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and...

The Grafters---a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

Stiletto is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks, from an author who "adroitly straddles the thin line between fantasy, thriller, and spoof " (Booklist).





Michael R. Underwood

Shield and Crocus
47North, June 10, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 416 pages

Yet Another 2012 Debut Author Challennge Update - May 14, 2014
In a city built among the bones of a fallen giant, a small group of heroes looks to reclaim their home from the five criminal tyrants who control it.

The city of Audec-Hal sits among the bones of a Titan. For decades it has suffered under the dominance of five tyrants, all with their own agendas. Their infighting is nothing, though, compared to the mysterious “Spark-storms” that alternate between razing the land and bestowing the citizens with wild, unpredictable abilities. It was one of these storms that gave First Sentinel, leader of the revolutionaries known as the Shields of Audec-Hal, power to control the emotional connections between people—a power that cost him the love of his life.

Now, with nothing left to lose, First Sentinel and the Shields are the only resistance against the city’s overlords as they strive to free themselves from the clutches of evil. The only thing they have going for them is that the crime lords are fighting each other as well—that is, until the tyrants agree to a summit that will permanently divide the city and cement their rule of Audec-Hal.

It’s one thing to take a stand against oppression, but with the odds stacked against the Shields, it’s another thing to actually triumph.

In this stunning, original tale of magic and revolution, Michael R. Underwood creates a cityscape that rivals Ambergris and New Crobuzon in its depth and populates it with heroes and villains that will stay with you forever.





Also upcoming are:


Endsinger (Lotus War 3) by Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne Books, September 23, 2014)


Silverblind (Ironskin 3) by Tina Connolly (Tor Books, October 7, 2014)


Hunter's Trail (Scarlet Bernard 3) by Melissa F. Olson (47North, September 2, 2014)


More about these novels when I have can share the covers.


A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Apologies for not announcing some of these winners sooner. We had a family emergency and I was not around for the most of last week. Let's catch up! And the winners are...


Dead Harvest (The Collector 1) by Chris F. Holm - Ended March 24, 2012 - Read the Guest Blog here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question:  What are some of your favorite cross genre novels? or Are there any genres do you think should not be crossed?

marybelle who said...

I think I might baulk at reading the cross between Horror & Regency. The mind boggles.



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski - Ended March 27, 2012 - Read the interview here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question:  If you could time travel, which historical event or events would you like to witness? OR Write a limerick about a book you've read.

Anne who said...

Boy, it's hard to pick just one big event. It would have to be an event where I'd be safe, so no Salem witch trials or crusades. I was actually up for the first moon walk, but so young it didn't really mean anything to me. Maybe the first actual flight.



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



Devil's Luck (Disillusionists eNovella) by Carolyn Crane - Ended March 29, 2012 - Read the interview here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question:   On what device do you read your eBooks?

Filia Oktarina who said...

I read my ebooks on my Samsung Tablet with epub or PDF format. Just two format was enough for me:)



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



Exogene (The Subterrene War 2) by T.C. McCarthy - Ended March 30, 2012 - Read the interview here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question: Favorite Military SciFi novel, movie, short story, or TV show?

rissatoo who said

Three of my favorite scifi series immediately popped to mind when I read the question... David Weber's Honor Harrington series. Orson Scott Card's Ender's series, and Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. Love lots more, but these are top three. (Other scifi authors I love include Elizabeth Moon Robert A Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, Frank Herbert, etc. I could go on. And on!)



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



Three A.M. by Steven John - Ended April 3, 2012 - Read the interview here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question: What are some of your favorite dystopian or noir novels?

molly.frenzel who said

Some of my faves are Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and A Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



Wicked as They Come (Blud 1) by Delilah S. Dawson - Ended April 3, 2012 - Read the review here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question:  What have you read recently that you loved?

Natalia J who said

I recently read The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams. I loved it and can not wait for the next. Thanks for the giveaway.



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



Winner's Choice of one of the first 4 Jane True novels by Nicole Peeler - Ended April 6, 2012 - Read the interview here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question: Which book series would you like to go on forever? OR Which book series do you think should end/should have ended already?

Stephanie who said...

I want the Hollows series to go on forever.



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



Deadworld (Deadworld 1), The Vengeful Dead (Deadworld 2) and The Lingering Dead (Deadworld 3) (signed) by J.N. Duncan - Ended April 7, 2012 - Read the guest blog here. US/CANADA ONLY

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question: What do you expect to see over the course of a series, what pulls you in more, and even those things that make you end up bored and stop reading a series?

BookAttict who says...

I can't believe this series hasn't appeared on my radar until now.. Deadworld sounds like a fantastic series that I'd love to read!

I read. A lot. What do I look for in a series that keeps me reading? I absolutely LOVE UF and Fantasy, so it's the details and world-building that pull me in, as well as well-drawn characters (main AND secondary) that I want to know more about.

While I realize nobody's perfect (even authors) -- and not every book is going to be a perfect read for me -- what really will turn me off a series is lack of development in the characters. I've noticed this seems to happen quite a bit in well-established series (14-15) books in. The author finds a formula that works and the characters stay in this time-warp and never change, just regurgitate the same jokes, situations, etc. -- Time moves forward-- people change. This should be true of characters in a series as well.

The other thing will put me off a series is a forced story arc -- like the author forced the characters to go in a direction that, well, seems manufactured and awkward, to get them from where they are to where the author "needs" them to be (if that makes any sense...)

Thanks for the amazing giveaway!



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque 1) by Anne Lyle - Ended April 9, 2012 - Read the interview here.

A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012

Question: Leave a comment.

Lilian who said...

Thank you so much for the interview! The book sounds like a great hisotircal read...I haven't read one in awhile!



A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012



The winners have been notified and have until 11:59PM US Eastern Time on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly chose a new winner or winners. Thank you!

Interview with Steven John and Giveaway - March 27, 2012

Please welcome Steven John to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Three A.M. is published today. A Happy Book Publication Day to Steven. Read Steven's Guest Blog here and my 4 Qwill review of  Three A.M. here.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Steven:  In my writing, I suppose a quirk would be suddenly dropping things into the prose, often before I’m fully conscious of my intent to do so. There is something of a constant internal battle going on while I write, the line of battle shifting between the words that move the plot forward with the words that express a view or conviction I hold or make a point I find interesting – finding instances when I can sneak things in that elevate the work without being obvious is a great pleasure, but I often find myself shaking my head and deleting lines with a rueful smile.

Another way to answer that question would be that I often affect accents or speech patterns and even physical mannerisms of the character whose dialogue or thoughts I am writing. I’ll even stand up and walk around the room working through the words. Luckily I work alone, because it’s gotta look reeeeaaaal strange.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Steven:  Softball answer: Henry Miller – his lurid prose and searing honesty taught me what writing can be (if you are not a coward, that is. Working on it.)

Still pretty softball answer: Hemmingway. I mean… it’s Hemmingway. Sure it made me feel cool to hold up his books during my high school years, but every time I return I am still impressed.

Hardball… or… baseball answer? Not baseball. I don’t know, anyway, third person, also a softball answer, it’s easier this way: Vonnegut. You can read his books so quickly and they’re so strange but pleasurable. It’s like eating soup. Great soup, sure. But it’s still soup, still very easy to eat.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Steven:  Um… a pantser is.... What’s a pantser? And plotter like Guy Fawkes or like someone who plans out their book’s plot…?

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

Keeping my ass in the chair, if I may use the word chair. I am constantly finding distractions throughout the first two thirds of every novel (or other project) I write. By the end I start to cruise and then it is often hard for me to get out of the writing chair, but man, mowing the grass or going to the grocery store sure is appealing while I’m still in those first tens of thousands of words.

TQ:   Describe Three A.M. in 140 characters or less.

Steven:  A lonely man, a lonely place: a city enshrouded by mist. And mystery. He gets pulled into it all, the why and what. And it pulls him down.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Three A.M.?

Steven:  I wish I knew/remembered. I had a vision of the setting and an idea for a character. It was supposed to be a short story. Then I thought of a longer story and pretty soon it was clear it would need to be a book.

TQ: What sort of research did you do for Three A.M.?

Steven:  Cursory, at best. One of the greatest delights of writing about a world different than our everyday home is that you can fill it with things beyond the normal reference points people use; you don’t have to cleave to reality. That said, there are elements of the book that did require some study. I know a bit more about hydroelectric dams now, for example.

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

Steven:  Tom Heller, one of the most prominent secondary characters. He was easy to write because he was based directly off of a real person (or two). The hardest character to write was probably John Watley, because I had to struggle to keep him from seeming like an archetype. It would have been much easier to just throw in a cackling laugh and place a Persian cat on his lap, but that would have been awful, awful writing.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Three A.M.?

Steven:  It is a any number of scenes in which the protagonist reveals what his world is like – those times when he stumbles (and rambles) through the misty streets, when through his often hazy mind and garbled convictions we see how he and everyone around him is living.

TQ:  What's next?

Steven:  My second novel is finished and in the hands of the Powers that Be. I am working on the third and it is going well: I love the characters and am intrigued to see how twisted and wound about the story will end up, but I am still definitely in that “Keep your ass in the seat, Steve!” phase. And lots of other wacky projects I always have simmering on the back burners.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Steven:  That’s not a question, but you’re quite welcome and thank you.


About Three A.M.


Three A.M.
Tor Books, March 27, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Steven John and Giveaway - March 27, 2012
Fifteen years of sunless gray.

Fifteen years of mist. So thick the streets fade off into nothing. So thick the past is hazy at best. The line between right and wrong has long been blurred, especially for Thomas Vale.

Long gone are the days when new beginnings seemed possible—when he was a new recruit, off to a new start fresh in the army. He had hoped to never look back. Not like there was much to see, anyway.

First came the sickness, followed by the orders: herd the healthy into the city, shoot the infected. The gates closed and the bridges came down… followed by the mist.

Fifteen miserable years of the darkest nights and angry, awful gray days.

Thomas Vale can hardly fathom why he keeps waking up in the morning. For a few more days spent stumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.


About Steven

Interview with Steven John and Giveaway - March 27, 2012


Steven John and his wife, an elementary school teacher, live in Los Angeles by way of Washington D.C. and New York, respectively. He splits his time between many things, most of which involve words. Three A.M. is his first novel.


Steven's Links

Website
Twitter
Three A.M. on Facebook












The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a hardcover copy of Three A.M.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What are some of your favorite dystopian or noir novels? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday,  April 3, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Release Day Review - Three A.M. - 4 Qwills

Three A.M.
Author:  Steven John
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher: TOR (March 27, 2012)
Price: $24.99
Language: English
Genre:  Noir/Thriller/Dystopian
ISBN978-0-7653-3116-8
Review Copy: ARC from the publisher


Release Day Review - Three A.M. - 4 Qwills
Fifteen years of sunless gray.

Fifteen years of mist. So thick the streets fade off into nothing. So thick the past is hazy at best. The line between right and wrong has long been blurred, especially for Thomas Vale.

Long gone are the days when new beginnings seemed possible—when he was a new recruit, off to a new start fresh in the army. He had hoped to never look back. Not like there was much to see, anyway.

First came the sickness, followed by the orders: herd the healthy into the city, shoot the infected. The gates closed and the bridges came down… followed by the mist.

Fifteen miserable years of the darkest nights and angry, awful gray days.

Thomas Vale can hardly fathom why he keeps waking up in the morning. For a few more days spent stumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.

tumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.


My thoughts:

Three A.M. starts out in gritty noir fashion as Thomas Vale sets eyes on a beautiful blond, Rebecca, at the bar he frequents. Vale is a Private Investigator and Rebecca wants to hire him. What Vale doesn't know is that he's already caught up in something beyond a simple case for one of his clients.

Mr. John creates an incredibly dark and murky world of shadows and mist, a city without sunlight, which is reflected in Tom Vale. He's as hopeless as the city in which he lives. Vale is an intriguing character. He's morally ambiguous, down and out. He drinks a lot. Takes more pills than he should to sleep. He's a man with no illusions about anything, including himself. Over the course of the novel, things change for Vale as he learns more about what is really going on in his sunless city. Vale is the most well-developed character in Three A.M. At times during the story I actively disliked him. Despite this, I cared about Vale and what was happening to him.

While Three A.M. starts out feeling like noir, it does not hold that for the entire novel. Once certain events happen the entire tone of the novel changes. It became more of a thriller for me than anything else. While the pacing of the novel is quite good, I enjoyed the change of tone and the resulting quicker pace.

Three A.M. is a gripping mix of noir and thriller set in a near-future dystopia. It is at times deeply moving, at times very raw, and at times pure adrenalin rush.

I give Three A.M. 4 Qwills.

 Release Day Review - Three A.M. - 4 Qwills

The View From Monday - March 26, 2012

It's the last Monday in March. I can't believe how fast this month is flying by! At The Qwillery this week:

Monday - 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interview with Saladin Ahmed. Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin's debut, was published on February 7, 2012.

Tuesday - 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interview with Steven John. Three A.M., Steven's debut, will be published on March 27, 2012.

Wednesday -  2012 Debut Author Challenge Interview with Delilah S. Dawson. Wicked as They Come, Delilah's debut, will be published on March 27, 2012.

Thursday - Authors After Dark Author Spotlight Interview with Kayleigh Jamison.

Friday - Authors After Dark Author Spotlight Interview with Nicole Peeler.

Saturday - Guest Blog by J.N. Duncan. The Lingering Dead, the 3rd novel in the Deadworld series, will be published on April 3. 2012.

Sunday - April 2012 Book Releases and 2012 Debut Author Challenge April Debuts


A book shopping list in PDF format may be found by clicking HERE. Click "File" on the left and then "Print (PDF).

March 26, 2012
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Outcast Blade
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Jon Courtenay Grimwood F - Vampire Assassin Trilogy 2


March 27, 2012
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume One
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Daniel Abraham GN/EF - Game of Thrones 1
Shadow and Betrayal
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Daniel Abraham EF - Long Price Quartet Omnibus
Armored
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
John Joseph Adams (ed) SF - Anthology
Temptation Rising
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
A.C. Arthur PNR - The Shadow Shifters
Deliverance
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Dakota Banks UF - Mortal Path 3
Back from the Undead
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
DD Barant UF - Bloodhound Files 3
Range of Ghosts
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Elizabeth Bear
F
The Master of Heathcrest Hall
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Galen Beckett F - Mrs. Quent 3
Sly Mongoose
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Tobias S. Buckell SF - Xenowealth 3
Jack of Ravens
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Mark Chadbourn F - Kingdom of the Serpent 1
To the Galactic Rim
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
A. Bertram Chandler SF - Galactic Rim Omnibus 1
Into the Black
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Evan Currie SF - Odyssey 2
Wicked as They Come (d)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Delilah S Dawson PNR - Blud 1
The President's Vampire (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Christopher Farnsworth Th/H - Nathaniel Cade 2
1636: The Saxon Uprising
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Eric Flint SF/AH - Ring of Fire 10
Body, Inc.
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Alan Dean Foster
SF
The Unseen
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Heather Graham PT
Phantom Evil (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Heather Graham PRS - Krewe of Hunters 1
Omega Point
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Guy Haley SF - Richards and Klein 2
Dead Reckoning (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Charlaine Harris UF - Sookie Stackhouse 11
Costume Not Included
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Matthew Hughes F - To Hell and Back 2
Secrets of the Fire Sea
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Stephen Hunt F - Jackelian 4
Blood on the Bayou
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Stacey Jay UF - Dead on the Delta 2
Three A.M. (d)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Steven John Th/AH
Sacrificial Magic
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Stacia Kane UF - Downside Ghosts 4
Retribution (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Sherrilyn Kenyon PNR - Dark-Hunter 21
Bear Meets Girl
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Shelly Laurenston PNR - Pride 7
Age of Aztec
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
James Lovegrove SF - Age of 4
The Gathering of the Lost
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Helen Lowe F - The Wall of Night 2
The Alchemist of Souls (d)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Anne Lyle F - Night Masque 1
Hemlock Grove (d)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Brian McGreevy H/Gothic
Silent Voices
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Gary McMahon H - The Concrete Grove 2
Lady-Protector
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
L. E. Modesitt, Jr. F - Corean Chronicles 8
Blood Secret
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Sharon Page PER - Blood 5
Liminal States
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Zack Parsons SF
Sins of the Son
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Linda Poitevin UF - Grigori Legacy 2
Quicksilver (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Amanda Quick PRS - Arcane Society / Looking Glass Trilogy 2
Time and Again: Time Was\Times Change
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Nora Roberts TTR - Time and Again Omnibus
Wonder (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Robert J. Sawyer SF - WWW 3
Fuzzy Nation (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
John Scalzi SF
Wanted: Undead or Alive
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Kerrelyn Sparks PNR - Love at Stake 12
Shadow's Master
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Jon Sprunk F - Shadow Saga 3
The Kingdom
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Amanda Stevens UF - Graveyard Queen 2
The Seduction of Phaeton Black (d)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Jillian Stone PNR - Phaeton Black 1
Shadow's Fall
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Dianne Sylvan UF - Shadow World 3
Lover Reborn
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
J.R. Ward PNR - Black Dagger Brotherhood 10
A Game of Groans: A Sonnet of Slush and Soot
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
George R.R. Washington EF - Parody
Mr. Monster (h2mm)
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Dan Wells YA - John Cleaver 2


March 30, 2012
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
10,000 Zombies: Create More Than 10,000 Zombies and 10,000 Stories
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Alexander Cox
David Hartmann (illus)



March 31, 2012
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Indomitable
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Terry Brooks EF



Corrections:

March 13, 2012
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: The Sub-Genres of Science Fiction
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Keith Brooke Literary Criticism



March 20, 2012
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Nightfall
The View From Monday - March 26, 2012
Stephen Leather PT - Jack Nightingale



d - Debut
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback

AH - Alternative History
EF - Epic Fantasy
F - Fantasy
GN -Graphic Novel
H - Horror
PER - Paranormal Erotic Romance
PHR - Paranormal Historical Romance
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PRS - Paranormal Romantic Suspense
PT - Paranormal Thriller
SF - Science Fiction
Th - Thriller
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
YA - Young Adult

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts


There are 9 debuts in March.  Please note that I use the publisher's publication date in the United States.

Take a good look at the covers. Voting for the your favorite March cover for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place later this month.

The March debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Pick one or more and let us know in the comments which one(s) you'll be reading. If I've missed any, let me know in the comments.


Wide Open
Author:  Deborah Coates
Format:  Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher:  Tor Books (March 13, 2012)
Price:  $24.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  978-0765328984

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' compassionate leave, her sister Dell's ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell's death was suicide, but Hallie doesn't believe it. Something happened or Dell's ghost wouldn't still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell's loss, think Hallie's letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn't have to.

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone's trying to beat her up, burn down her father's ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie's going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.


Wicked as They Come
Author:  Delilah S. Dawon
Series:  Blud
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher:  Pocket Books (March 27, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
ISBN:  9781451657883

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
Have you ever heard of a Bludman? They’re rather like you and me—only more fabulous, immortal, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.)

Delilah S. Dawson’s darkly tempting debut drops her unsuspecting heroine into a strange faraway land for a romantic adventure that’s part paranormal, part steampunk . . . and completely irresistible.

When Tish Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?


Three A.M.
Author:  Steven John
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher:  Tor Books (March 27, 2012)
Price:  $24.99
Language: English
Genre:  Paranormal Noir
ISBN:  9780765331168

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
Fifteen years of sunless gray.

Fifteen years of mist. So thick the streets fade off into nothing. So thick the past is hazy at best. The line between right and wrong has long been blurred, especially for Thomas Vale.

Long gone are the days when new beginnings seemed possible—when he was a new recruit, off to a new start fresh in the army. He had hoped to never look back. Not like there was much to see, anyway.

First came the sickness, followed by the orders: herd the healthy into the city, shoot the infected. The gates closed and the bridges came down… followed by the mist.

Fifteen miserable years of the darkest nights and angry, awful gray days.

Thomas Vale can hardly fathom why he keeps waking up in the morning. For a few more days spent stumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.


The Games
Author:  Ted Kosmatka
Format:  Hardcover, 368 pages
Publisher:  Del Rey (March 13, 2012)
Price:  $25.00
Language:  English
Genre:  Science Fiction Thriller
ISBN978-0-345-52661-8

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
This stunning first novel from Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist Ted Kosmatka is a riveting tale of science cut loose from ethics. Set in an amoral future where genetically engineered monstrosities fight each other to the death in an Olympic event, The Games envisions a harrowing world that may arrive sooner than you think.

Silas Williams is the brilliant geneticist in charge of preparing the U.S. entry into the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one rule: no human DNA is permitted in the design of the entrants. Silas lives and breathes genetics; his designs have led the United States to the gold in every previous event. But the other countries are catching up. Now, desperate for an edge in the upcoming Games, Silas’s boss engages an experimental supercomputer to design the genetic code for a gladiator that cannot be beaten.

The result is a highly specialized killing machine, its genome never before seen on earth. Not even Silas, with all his genius and experience, can understand the horror he had a hand in making. And no one, he fears, can anticipate the consequences of entrusting the act of creation to a computer’s cold logic.

Now Silas races to understand what the computer has wrought, aided by a beautiful xenobiologist, Vidonia João. Yet as the fast-growing gladiator demonstrates preternatural strength, speed, and—most disquietingly—intelligence, Silas and Vidonia find their scientific curiosity giving way to a most unexpected emotion: sheer terror.


The Company of the Dead
Author:  David Kowalski 
Format:  Trade Paperback, 752 pages
Publisher:  Titan Books (March 13, 2012)
Price:  $15.95
Language:  English
Genre: Alternate History
ISBN:  9780857686664

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
A mysterious man appears aboard the Titanic on its doomed voyage. His mission? To save the ship.

The result? A world where the United States never entered World War I, thus launching the secret history of the 20th Century.

In April 2012, Joseph Kennedy—nephew of John F. Kennedy—lives in an America occupied in the East by Greater Germany and on the West Coast by Imperial Japan. He is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order—even though it would mean his death, and the deaths of everyone he loves.

A magnificent alternate history, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest maritime disasters of the 20th century.


The Alchemist of Souls
Author:  Anne Lyle
Series:  Night Masque 1
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Publisher:  Angry Robot (March 27, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN:  9780857662149

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally – and Mal Catlyn his soul.

File Under: Fantasy [ Midsummer Magic | Skraylings | Double Trouble | Comedy of Terrors ]


Hemlock Grove
Author:  Brian McGreevy
Format:  Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Publisher:  FSG Originals (March 27, 2012)
Price:  $15.00
Language:  English
Genre:  Gothic
ISBN:  9780374532918

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.

The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.


The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Author:  Simone St. James
Format:  Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Publisher:  NAL (March 6, 2012)
Price:  $14.00
Language:  English
Genre:  Historical/Ghost Story
ISBN:  9780451235688

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah's task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a deperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, whereshe came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?


The Seduction of Phaeton Black
Author:  Jillian Stone
Format:  Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher:  Brava (March 27, 2012)
Price:  $14.00
Language:  English
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Mystery
ISBN:  978-0-7582-6896-9

2012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 Debuts
In the gaslit streets of Victorian London, phantoms rule the night, demons dance till dawn, and one supernatural detective dares to be seduced by the greatest power of all…

He’s The Man With The Magic Touch

A master of deduction, seduction and other midnight maneuvers, Phaeton Black is Scotland Yard’s secret weapon against things that go bump in the night. His prodigious gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover, his weakness for wicked women as notorious as his affection for absinthe. But when he’s asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks right into the arms of the most dangerous woman he’s ever known…

She’s The Devilish Miss Jones

Pressing a knife to his throat—and demanding he make love to her—Miss America Jones uses Phaeton as a willing shield against the gang of pirates chasing her. As deadly as she is, with a derringer tucked in her garter, Miss Jones is not the vampiric killer he’s been staking out—but she may be just what Phaeton needs to crack the case. As the daughter of a Cajun witch, she possesses uncanny powers. As a fearless fighter, she can handle anything from Egyptian mummies to Jack the Ripper. But when an ancient evil is unleashed on the world, she could be his only salvation…or ultimate sacrifice.

Guest Blog by Steven John - A Story You Already Know

Please welcome Steven John to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Three A.M., Steven's debut, will be published on March 27, 2012.


     With such obvious exceptions as adaptations, reinterpretations, or parables, one does not set out to tell a story that already has been told. This, of course, is especially true if the story has been told innumerable times, innumerable ways and over many years; if it is “one we all know,” so to speak. Or so this is what I would have said—indeed what I thought—up until a few short years ago. And notwithstanding this now disproved personal conviction, it is exactly what I inadvertently did while writing my first novel: I wrote a story you already know. I wrote a book I myself have read dozens of times. But it’s not my fault, dammit. It’s not like I had any choice. Allow me a short digression, and then I’ll make my point as concisely as possible, with perhaps a few ramblings and odd sidebars thrown in for no respectable reason.

     As I’ve said, I did not set out to write a book telling a familiar tale. In fact, I didn’t set out to write a book at all. Oh, mind you I’d long wanted to—long made furtive starts and passing plans—but this thing that turned into the novel Three A.M.? That was just a short story. It was not until a few days after I started typing it out that I realized that at already 20,000 words and counting it was growing into a rather long short story. Soon after that I realized “Well… hey… looks like we got ourselves a novel here.” That was exciting. It really was. And a lot of other things that came after that were, too. But I’ll keep this step back brief and leave it there for now, the broad strokes of the novel’s “origin story” laying down sufficient color for me to return to my assertions above.

     The fact is, I’ve come to realize, that there are only a few stories people really give a good goddamn about. Let me redefine that confining frame a bit: there are only a few themes people care about, and try as an author (or wandering minstrel or dancing shaman or anyone else with a story or two to tell) might to think up something truly new, he or she will fail. At least fail in finding the new theme, if not in telling a fine story. Beyond love and hate, victory or defeat, loss or gain or revelation and a few other sweeping terms (dozens, I’m sure, if we mine deep enough, but finite still!) what have we? We have but ways to tell of these constant themes; stories are little more than polishing a re-imagining of that which we have long sought to glean.

     From the minutiae made epic by careful observation—take, for example, John Muir detailing every move of a Douglas squirrel in his seminal book The Mountains of California, a squirrel which he manages to make captivating!—to the epics which have lived with humanity for thousands of years—I’ll invoke The Odyssey as it’s low-hanging fruit—we read of struggle and perseverance leading to victory. From Aesop to Shakespeare we read of characters veritably choking on their own bitterness (think the “grapeless” Fox and Iago). And lovers, star-crossed or clear-eyed and everything in between, number too many in humanity’s collective literary canon for me to bother plucking an example, but I doubt you’ll be long in remembering various examples with common threads of yearning, lust, loss, etc.

     And then, in my first novel, my wholly original piece of creativity, dreamed up solely in my head and written out by these same two hands now typing away, we find… well, let’s see:


     • The Hero, in this case one who tries to “Refuse the Call” (indeed, almost the anti-hero)

     • The Siren, who draws him in

     • The Guide, who gives the hero wisdom and direction; moral validation

     • Villain(s)… of course

     • And finally: The Hero as Redeemer… Out of the Void… Departure… etc.


     And on it goes. On I went. But, like I said, it’s not my fault: I didn’t know that every story told or yet to come is but one more crack at peeling back the wraps that bind the universal themes; the unending struggle to both reflect on and live life in the same instant. After all, isn’t that the only reason we need stories? To make sense of that which we cannot objectively view while passing through it? Humor, drama, satire, etc.—these are all but lenses to focus the mind. We search for myriad lenses and hapless folks like me seek to provide a new one now and then, but always it is merely a new lens, never a new thing focalized, really. (Implicit within these assertions is the idea that diversion, such as by comedy, is not at all without merit and is in fact at times necessary.)

     It took the reading of countless books over the years to prepare me to write one (or two or three), but it took reading the work of just one man to both humble and embolden me all at once and ready me to approach each character, each twist and turn—every page, to boil it down—with a sense of excitement tempered by the knowledge that what lies beneath the story, what lurks between each word of dialogue, what frames the story and what motivates one to undertake its creation, is as vital as the visible flesh spread out atop. In a word: “Why.”

     Very likely many of you are nodding now even before I write that man’s name: Joseph Campbell. If you are familiar with his fantastic and edifying oeuvre, you will know well how liberally I have used his own terms, or at least his language. I do not feel I am doing him any disservice in conscripting his work thus, for he spent his life not seeking to create new, original material, exactly (the many books, speeches and articles he produced duly noted) but rather Campbell sought—and succeeded admirably—in showing us just how universal our stories are; how from all corners of the world and down through the generations we have produced similar tales trying to tackle the selfsame themes.

     Oh there were others, of course, who did much to inspire my young mind. Others on whose shoulders I shall forever stand (or perhaps over whose shoulders I will ever be trying to catch a glimpse of whatever it was they saw that let them write the things I read). Henry Miller freed my teenage mind. Faulkner stirred my mid-twenty something soul. Rand frustrated the hell out of me—god, I wanted to slap her—but showed me what great writing can do, even if you disagree so often with what the words are saying. But as wonderful as all these writers were, ultimately they are just playing the same game, albeit playing with exquisite finesse. It was Joseph Campbell who made it clear to me that we’re all doing the same: all playing the same game, all telling the same stories, all seeking the same answers, be we writers or bankers or biologists, et al. There are plural answers to be sought, yes, but they are far from infinite. Perhaps that’s why the “same story” can remain so vital despite the fact that we keep hearing it told in different ways.


Credit for selected terms and a few ideas and a lot of inspiration due to:

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces Novato, CA: New World Library 2008. (Originally published by Pantheon Books 1949.)

And with a nod to my man in the mountains:

Muir, John. The Mountains of California Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press 1977 ed.



About Three A.M.

Three A.M.
Tor Books, March 27, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Steven John -  A Story You Already Know
Fifteen years of sunless gray.

Fifteen years of mist. So thick the streets fade off into nothing. So thick the past is hazy at best. The line between right and wrong has long been blurred, especially for Thomas Vale.

Long gone are the days when new beginnings seemed possible—when he was a new recruit, off to a new start fresh in the army. He had hoped to never look back. Not like there was much to see, anyway.

First came the sickness, followed by the orders: herd the healthy into the city, shoot the infected. The gates closed and the bridges came down… followed by the mist.

Fifteen miserable years of the darkest nights and angry, awful gray days.

Thomas Vale can hardly fathom why he keeps waking up in the morning. For a few more days spent stumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.
Pre-order


About Steven

Guest Blog by Steven John -  A Story You Already Know


Steven John and his wife, an elementary school teacher, live in Los Angeles by way of Washington D.C. and New York, respectively. He splits his time between many things, most of which involve words. Three A.M. is his first novel.


Steven's Links

Website
Twitter
Three A.M. on Facebook
Guest Blog by Steven John, author of Outrider and Three A.M. - September 17, 2014The View From Monday - September 15, 2014Yet Another 2012 Debut Author Challennge Update - May 14, 2014A lot of Winners! - April 10, 2012Interview with Steven John and Giveaway - March 27, 2012Release Day Review - Three A.M. - 4 QwillsThe View From Monday - March 26, 20122012 Debut Author Challenge - March 2012 DebutsGuest Blog by Steven John -  A Story You Already Know

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