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2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson


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


M.H. Boroson

The Girl with Ghost Eyes
Talos Press, November 3, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

Interview with Paul Tassi, author of The Last Exodus


Please welcome Paul Tassi to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Last Exodus is published on September 11th by Talos Press. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Paul a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Paul Tassi, author of The Last Exodus




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

Paul:  Thanks for having me! I wrote my first story in probably fifth grade. It was about a magic pencil where its drawings came to life, and sadly, it did not secure me a publishing deal. I ended up seriously considering writing as a career in college when I wrote for my student paper. I graduated with an economics degree, but I went straight into writing about pop culture full time. I'm still a journalist to this day, but I also love writing novels. I always had a million ideas bouncing around in my head, but it was only after my cousin finished his first novel and self-published it on Amazon that I set a similar goal for myself. I swore that within the year, I'd finish my first book, and that ended up being The Last Exodus. Once I was done, I fell in love with the process and the world I created, so it evolved into a trilogy. Now, I write because I almost have to. There's simply always a book in my head I have to get down on paper.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Paul:  Probably a hybrid. I don't freestyle entire books, but I don't sit down and write pages and pages of outlines either. I have a clear idea of the end I'm going for, and certain major plot points along the way. But how I get from point to point is variable, so sometimes I will end up writing scenes spontaneously within the larger framework I have in my head. I believe in having a clear end goal, but how I get there can be a bit up in the air.


TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Paul:  Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated to continue writing a book after writing all day for my regular job. If I've already put in 10,000 words for work, it's a bit challenging to put in a few thousand more. Lately, I've also had a tough time picking a specific project and sticking to it. I have so many ideas I want to get down, and I can find myself jumping between two or three different books which makes it difficult to commit to one and see it through until the end.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Paul:  For The Last Exodus specifically, I was influenced by many different books (along with a few movies, TV shows and video games for good measure). Cormac McCarthy's The Road was a heavy influence during the initial earth sections. I still have never read another dystopian book like it. Joe Haldeman's Forever War influenced some of the space aspects. As the series evolves in books two and three, it's probably influenced by Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon, John Scalzi's Old Man's War and a whole bunch more. Other favorite authors include Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, William Gibson, Max Brooks, Margaret Atwood, George RR Martin, HP Lovecraft, James SA Corey, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Orson Scott Card and others.



TQDescribe The Last Exodus in 140 characters or less.

Paul:  Traveler, bandit, alien. All want to kill each other, but none of them wants to die. They must leave a ruined Earth together, or not at all.



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

Paul:  The description implies that The Last Exodus mostly takes place on Earth in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, but a fairly big chunk of it actually takes place in space itself. For a while, it becomes a bit of a "bottle" where three characters are stuck on a rather small ship, and conflict comes from that. And once they're in space, that's when they start to be pursued by the book's ultimate antagonist, who is absent for quite a while in the beginning. I wanted to make sure the entire first book didn't have the characters trapped on earth for the entire duration, so in essence, it kind of switches sub-genres midway through.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Last Exodus? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Paul:  I had the initial scene where Lucas finds the wrecked ship in the crater wall written for years before I finally picked it up again and turned it into a book. I've always liked dystopian sci-fi and alien invasion stories, but I just had the idea for a simple premise of "what if the world was destroyed, but one man had the chance to leave it all behind and go somewhere unknown?" Not some mass exodus into survival ships. Not some plan to rebuild society and fix the world. But just a handful of (very) different people trying to survive. I like science fiction specifically because it gives you the freedom to develop your universe however you want. Working in the "real" world comes with many more limitations, but with sci-fi? You can be as creative as you want. The same is true for fantasy in many ways, but even that has its limits. I think sci-fi is one of the only truly limitless forms of fiction.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Last Exodus?

Paul:  This is not "hard sci-fi," so I do not spend loads of time describing the minutiae of the tech. I'm okay with saying "this ship generates its own gravity" without going into exact detail as to how that could be physically possible. I recently heard someone describe James SA Corey's The Expanse as a series that doesn't spend a ton of time describing how a transmission works in a car. They just step on the gas, and go. I did do research into the locations I talk about in the book, Portland, Norway, etc, and a bit about the solar system.



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

Paul:  Lucas was probably the easiest because the voice just came naturally to me. I also really liked writing for Alpha. Originally, he wasn't going to speak at all, and Asha didn't even exist, which would have made for a pretty boring book, I imagine. Asha ended up being my favorite character by the end of the series, though I always question if I'm writing a woman well or not as a male author. I really wanted her to be a complete and utter badass, but I realize there are also certain tropes that come with that too, so it's a tough balancing act. While she was probably the hardest to write, I liked her the best out of anyone by the end.



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

Paul:  I'm surprised no one asks me what Alpha's voice actually sounds like when run through a translator, because I don't want people thinking it's just flat and monotone and robotic. There's actually supposed to be a lot of emotion that translates through the tech. I've always though of it like if Kiefer Sutherland's voice was run through a bit of electronic filtering.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Last Exodus.

Paul:

"Why did you come here?"
The alien looked out the black viewscreen.
"Why we always come. To conquer. To pillage. To strip your planet bare to fuel our war."
"Your war? The war against Earth?"
The alien paused.
"I did not say our war was with you."

The last voice was not any of their own, and sounded as if it had been spoken right beside his ear. His eyes darted around as the voice continued.
"It appears I have misjudged your taste in allies, traitor."
The voice was deep and dark, speaking in perfect English. It was coming from inside Lucas's own head.
"They will have to be studied and dissected instead of destroyed. This species subset is the most violent we have encountered to date. And these two, to fight on your behalf with such devotion and ferocity? Fascinating."



TQWhat's next?

Paul:  There are two more books in the Earthborn trilogy, The Exiled Earthborn (#2) and The Sons of Sora (#3), which will also be released in a few months, as I've had the whole trilogy written for a little while now. I'm also deep into my fourth book, a new story that has traces of dystopia, but is only set 20 or so years in the future. After that, I have one high fantasy book and another full sci-fi book planned out, though I'm not sure which of my new projects will spawn sequels, if any.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Paul:  Thanks for having me!





The Last Exodus
The Earthborn Trilogy 1
Talos Press, September 8, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 348 pages

Interview with Paul Tassi, author of The Last Exodus
The Earth lies in ruins in the aftermath of an extraterrestrial invasion, the land devastated by a desperate war with no winners between mankind and a race of vicious, intelligent creatures. The seas are drying up while the atmosphere corrodes and slowly cooks any life remaining on the now desolate rock. Food is scarce, trust even more so, and the only people left alive all have done horrific things to stay that way.

Among the few survivors is Lucas, an ordinary man hardened by the last few years after the world’s end. He’s fought off bandits, murderers, and stranded creatures on his long trek across the country in search of his family, the one thing that drives him to outlive his dying planet. What he finds instead is hope, something thought to be lost in the world. There’s a ship buried in a crater wall. One of theirs. One that works. To fly it, Lucas must join forces with a traitorous alien scientist and a captured, merciless raider named Asha. But unless they find common ground, all will die, stranded on a ruined Earth.

Combining gritty post-apocalyptic survival and epic space opera, The Last Exodus is the beginning of a new action-packed science fiction adventure where the future of the human race depends on its survivors leaving the past behind.





About Paul

Interview with Paul Tassi, author of The Last Exodus
Paul Tassi decided after years of consuming science fiction through a steady diet of books, movies, TV shows, and video games to try writing his own stories in the genre. He didn't imagine he’d ever actually finish a single book, but now that he’s started writing, he doesn't want to stop. Paul writes for Forbes, and his work has also appeared on IGN, the Daily Dot, Unreality, TVOvermind, and more. He lives with his beautiful and supportive wife in Chicago.







Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @PaulTassi  ~  Google+

Interview with David Nabhan, author of The Pilots of the Borealis


Please welcome David Nabhan to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Pilots of the Borealis is published on August 11th by Talos Press. Please join The Qwillery in wishing David a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with David Nabhan, author of The Pilots of the Borealis




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

David:  Twenty-five years ago, owing to a number of large temblors I experienced living in Los Angeles, a catalog of data regarding a possible pattern of higher probability windows for seismicity in Southern California was compiled. Over the next two decades those studies gave rise to three books I wrote on seismic forecasting and hundreds of major media interviews, articles and papers all over the world. Wrestling for all that time with any number of scientific conundrums—having to do with earthquake prediction and every other “impossible” art that now is quickly becoming science fact—was an excellent curriculum for the very plausible science fiction in Pilots of Borealis.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser or a hybrid?

David:  I’m tempted to say “plotter,” because with science fiction especially there are real and absolute parameters around any story, due simply to physical laws. I’d be fibbing, however, were I to say that a few great ideas (and escapes from dead-ends!) didn’t owe their origin to the seat of the writer’s pants. It helps to have a great editor too, no doubt.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

David:  Getting everything right. I write both science and science fiction and that means that there are literally thousands of facts that not only have to be checked, but explained properly and in a way easily understood and satisfying to read.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

David:  Well, the description of Pilots of Borealis at Edelweiss is “Top Gun heads to outer space in this throwback to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein.” Those are real giants and I’m more than honored to have my name uttered in the same sentence with them.



TQDescribe The Pilots of Borealis in 140 characters or less.

David:  A look into a future where everything is exponentially heightened and amplified, including the unbounded daring of the human race entering its adulthood.



TQTell us something about The Pilots of Borealis that is not found in the book description.

David:  There is a love story hidden within this book, but one like few others. It’s a very poignant one, between two very incongruous characters. Pilots of Borealis is a fast-moving, death-defying thrill ride in many ways, but still, what every reader will take from it at end, where the lasting impact will be made, will have nothing at all to do with the exploits of the most celebrated and deadly mercenary of his time. Any tears and sighs wrung from the reader will be pulled from a different emotional well.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Pilots of Borealis? What appealed to you about writing Science Fiction?

David:  I wanted to bring to life the protagonist of Pilots of Borealis, Clinton Rittener. He’s someone that is impossible to meet without making a deep impression. There aren't too many characters in literature—in science fiction or any other genre—like him, at all. Yet, science fiction is the only place where a Clinton Rittener could be crafted. He's an embodiment of the kind of human being that might be forged in the confluence of multiple and ferocious perfect storms, but the product of tempests that can only take place in the future. Only science fiction is wide enough for this most unlikely of candidates to be thrust into such a terrifying crucible. But he's very much at the same time a man of our century too, especially the young Rittener, with his superlative achievements in mathematics, linguistics, science and diplomacy. The tattered remnants of that same humanism is nonetheless the foundation for how the horrific challenges sculpt one of the most dangerous, stony, lethal mercenaries in existence five centuries in the future…and yet bizarrely, a most extremely likable and engaging one nonetheless. It’s a real test for the reader not only to forgive him his many outrageous solutions—he’s a “pilot,” after all, and they have their own code unlike other humans—but also to try to avoid pulling for him, harder and harder with every turn of the page.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Pilots of Borealis? Why did you focus on Helium-3?

David:  We’ve all been schooled to dread a future where resources will be supposedly running out. This, in my view, should turn out to be the exact opposite of what tomorrow holds. We live in a Solar System that has such staggering amounts of energy and materiel, sufficient to power humankind for a mind-boggling number of millennia. There is enough iron in just the Asteroid Belt alone to forge the girders to construct a building ten stories high—across the entire face of the Earth. And, as far as power is concerned, the statistics regarding the Sun—and a Dyson Shell orbiting it which may someday glean much of the energy that now just washes out into space—indicate that energy in the far future could be as commonplace and taken for granted as the dirt upon which we walk. Fusion reactors will be the next step; they’re really not that far off. There is a furious race going on at this moment, among a half-dozen countries, to get a working fusion reactor up and running. Helium-3 may turn out to be indispensable to those reactors, which could make the surface of the Moon the next great Klondike, its regolith infused with the stuff, just waiting to be mined and shipped to Earth.



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

David:  Clinton Rittener, the protagonist, and his foil, Nerissa were both the most difficult and easiest—by far. For starters, they resemble no one, either alive or in fiction. They are the most arrogant, self-reliant, sure-footed, superbly trained, fearless human beings that can be imagined—or better—that really can’t. It’s certain that readers will be completely enthralled with individuals like them, which makes things very, very easy. The hard part is getting the reader to fall into love with them. Clinton Rittener, for example, is an ex-soldier who led forces which cut a swath of death and destruction across Asia not seen since the days of Tamerlane. It was a task to nudge one toward not only allowing Rittener his redemption, but to convince the reader by the end that he or she had wound up on Clinton’s side. That…was…hard.



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

David:  Question: Be honest. There have been so many sci-fi books written, taking place in space. We will have seen this before, right? There must be quite a few themes and motifs that will seem almost re-hashed and bordering on stale? Isn’t this at least partially a fair guess? Answer: No.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Pilots of Borealis.

David:  To set the stage, there is no city like Borealis. It is so incredibly rich, beautiful and visually stunning that visitors are warned to take it in by snippets; too much too soon can be almost physically daunting. Clinton Rittener is preparing to take part in his first “piloting” match there, where athletes actually fly around Borealis’s dome—the light gravity and artificial wings allow for that—propelled by their own muscle power. And these “pilots” are, well, they’re something else…..“For Rittener, a newcomer to Borealis, everything else now was as distant as the heliopause at the far edge of Sol’s reign. Indeed, he was displaying the endemic condition of all neophytes to the city. He was “drifting.” Even moments away from being thrust into a do or die crucible, no matter that every ounce of his determination should have been spent on preparing himself for the looming trial—he was drifting. The pilot next to him snapped a warning. ‘You’d better get the stars out of your eyes, Clinton. This may look like Heaven, but these angels around us here, they’re more like the kind that flew with Lucifer.’ ”



TQWhat's next?

David:  The sequel to “Pilots of Borealis” is already finished, so it’s just a matter of letting the market decide if it should see the light of publication. In the meanwhile, I’m very fortunate to have my opinions about seismic forecasting judged by the media as fully meriting the nation’s attention. I’m constantly writing op-ed commentary pieces for magazines and newspapers worldwide and invite your audience to access many dozens of the more recent ones, archived at www.earthquakepredictors.com



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

David:  It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for your interest; I’m very much obliged.





The Pilots of the Borealis
Talos Press, August 11, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 236 pages

Interview with David Nabhan, author of The Pilots of the Borealis
Top Gun heads to outer space in this throwback to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein.

Strapped in to artificial wings spanning twenty-five feet across, your arms push a tenth of your body weight with each pump as you propel yourself at frightening speeds through the air. Inside a pressurized dome on the Moon, subject to one-sixth Earth’s gravity, there are swarms of chiseled, fearless, superbly trained flyers all around you, jostling for air space like peregrine falcons racing for the prize. This was the sport of piloting, and after Helium-3, piloting was one of the first things that entered anyone’s mind when Borealis was mentioned.

It was Helium-3 that powered humanity’s far-flung civilization expansion, feeding fusion reactors from the Alliances on Earth to the Terran Ring, Mars, the Jovian colonies, and all the way out to distant Titan. The supply, taken from the surface of the Moon, had once seemed endless. But that was long ago. Borealis, the glittering, fabulously rich city stretched out across the lunar North Pole, had amassed centuries of unimaginable wealth harvesting it, and as such was the first to realize that its supplies were running out.

The distant memories of the horrific planetwide devastation spawned by the petroleum wars were not enough to quell the rising energy and political crises. A new war to rival no other appeared imminent, but the solar system’s competing powers would discover something more powerful than Helium-3: the indomitable spirit of an Earth-born, war-weary mercenary and pilot extraordinaire.





About David

Interview with David Nabhan, author of The Pilots of the Borealis
David Nabhan is a science and science fiction writer. “Pilots of Borealis” is his first book in the sci-fi genre (Skyhorse Publishing/Talos Press). He is very well-known, however, for his controversial books and papers in seismology; he’s the author of “Earthquake Prediction: Answers in Plain Sight” (2013) and two other books on seismic forecasting. Mr. Nabhan has been featured in the media many hundreds of times (television, radio, newspapers, magazines). He is a retired teacher having spent two decades teaching public school in South Central Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Unified School District—fifteen of those years as an Earthquake Preparedness Coordinator.

Website  ~  Twitter @DaveNabhan  ~  Facebook

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Last Exodus by Paul Tassi



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Last Exodus by Paul Tassi


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


Paul Tassi

The Last Exodus
The Earthborn Trilogy 1
Talos Press, September 8, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 348 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Last Exodus by Paul Tassi
The Earth lies in ruins in the aftermath of an extraterrestrial invasion, the land devastated by a desperate war with no winners between mankind and a race of vicious, intelligent creatures. The seas are drying up while the atmosphere corrodes and slowly cooks any life remaining on the now desolate rock. Food is scarce, trust even more so, and the only people left alive all have done horrific things to stay that way.

Among the few survivors is Lucas, an ordinary man hardened by the last few years after the world’s end. He’s fought off bandits, murderers, and stranded creatures on his long trek across the country in search of his family, the one thing that drives him to outlive his dying planet. What he finds instead is hope, something thought to be lost in the world. There’s a ship buried in a crater wall. One of theirs. One that works. To fly it, Lucas must join forces with a traitorous alien scientist and a captured, merciless raider named Asha. But unless they find common ground, all will die, stranded on a ruined Earth.

Combining gritty post-apocalyptic survival and epic space opera, The Last Exodus is the beginning of a new action-packed science fiction adventure where the future of the human race depends on its survivors leaving the past behind.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Pilots of the Borealis by David Nabhan


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Pilots of the Borealis by David Nabhan


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


David Nabhan

The Pilots of the Borealis
Talos, August 11, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 236 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Pilots of the Borealis by David Nabhan
Top Gun heads to outer space in this throwback to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein.

Strapped in to artificial wings spanning twenty-five feet across, your arms push a tenth of your body weight with each pump as you propel yourself at frightening speeds through the air. Inside a pressurized dome on the Moon, subject to one-sixth Earth’s gravity, there are swarms of chiseled, fearless, superbly trained flyers all around you, jostling for air space like peregrine falcons racing for the prize. This was the sport of piloting, and after Helium-3, piloting was one of the first things that entered anyone’s mind when Borealis was mentioned.

It was Helium-3 that powered humanity’s far-flung civilization expansion, feeding fusion reactors from the Alliances on Earth to the Terran Ring, Mars, the Jovian colonies, and all the way out to distant Titan. The supply, taken from the surface of the Moon, had once seemed endless. But that was long ago. Borealis, the glittering, fabulously rich city stretched out across the lunar North Pole, had amassed centuries of unimaginable wealth harvesting it, and as such was the first to realize that its supplies were running out.

The distant memories of the horrific planetwide devastation spawned by the petroleum wars were not enough to quell the rising energy and political crises. A new war to rival no other appeared imminent, but the solar system’s competing powers would discover something more powerful than Helium-3: the indomitable spirit of an Earth-born, war-weary mercenary and pilot extraordinaire.

Interview with J. Dalton Jennings, author of Solomon's Arrow - July 7, 2015


Please welcome J. Dalton Jennings to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Solomon's Arrow is published on July 7th by Talos Press. Please join The Qwillery in wishing him a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with J. Dalton Jennings, author of Solomon's Arrow - July 7, 2015




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

JDJ:  Thank you for inviting me to participate, Sally. I first started in 1978, when I wrote a longhand, prototype version of Solomon's Arrow. I never tried to publish it, and years later, in a fit of frustration, tossed it in the trash. Then, almost eight years ago, I retired from being a graphic artist and returned to writing. This time I took it seriously. I wrote a non-fiction book, which is yet to be published. I then wrote my first fiction novel, which is set 2000 years ago in the Far East, and is over 200k words long. As one would expect, it is also yet to be published. However, while trying to find an agent for that novel, I realized I could rewrite my actual first novel and make it even better than before. I found an agent, Jeff Schmidt, at NY Creative Management, and he quickly sold it to Skyhorse Publishing. As to why I write: I'm like most writers, in that I feel an unquenchable urge to write. It's almost a compulsion; the germ of a story enters my mind and it won't be satisfied until it's birthed on the page.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser or a hybrid?

JDJ:  I ascribe to the Isaac Asimov school of writing, which means I'm a pantser. He would devise a beginning, a middle and an end for his novels, and then let his characters guide him through the spaces in between. I'm often surprised by where my characters take the story. As such, I hope my surprise is shared by the reader.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JDJ:  As a self-taught writer, I would say it's getting past the notion that I'm not good enough to be in the company of the writers I most admire. But, it also drives me to study and improve my skills.



TQYou were a graphic artist. How does being an artist affect (or not) your writing?

JDJ:  As a graphic artist, I used my imagination on a daily basis. Also, having deadlines to meet provided discipline, of which I was lacking in my younger years; and that discipline has translated over to my writing. I make it a point to write between three to four hours each day, six days a week.



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

JDJ:  First and foremost, my favorite author and biggest influence is Frank Herbert, of Dune fame. I also love Robert Heinlein; Isaac Asimov; Kevin J. Anderson; James Rollins; Orson Scott Card (for his writing, not his politics); J. K. Rowling; Clifford D. Simak; Philip K. Dick, and many more.



TQDescribe Solomon's Arrow in 140 characters or less.

JDJ:  With Earth's fate in his hands, the mysterious Solomon Chavez embarks on an ambitious quest that might save humanity, or cause its destruction.



TQTell us something about Solomon's Arrow that is not found in the book description.

JDJSolomon's Arrow attempts to shine a light on mankind's foibles, and bring the issues of today into clearer focus through the use of science fiction. It also explores identity and loss, which are vital sub-themes in the novel.



TQWhat inspired you to write Solomon's Arrow? What appealed to you about writing Science Fiction. In your opinion, should Science Fiction deal with 'big issues', just be entertaining, or both?

JDJ:  That's an interesting question. As I said, the novel was inspired by my misbegotten attempt to write the same novel back in the late 70's. As for Science fiction's appeal? My literary tastes have always leaned in that direction, or toward novels with big, mystical or earthshaking plots. I hate to say it, but subtle, literary fiction bores me to tears. Should science fiction deal with 'big issues?' It doesn't have to; but as they say, the best sci-fi can shine a light on issues in a way that other genres have a difficult time tackling. However, if a novel fails to entertain, the reader may as well be reading a technical manual. The big issues are a must in my writing.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Solomon's Arrow?

JDJ:  I researched Phoenix, AZ; did some research on the Pacific Ocean; sharks; the Epsilon Eridani star system; the various methods of propelling starships; cryogenics, and a few other things that would be spoilers if I revealed them here.



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

JDJ:  In my novels the characters write themselves. That being said, the hardest character was Solomon Chavez. I found it difficult at times to make him compelling, while not revealing too much about him. Halfway through the book it became easier, after a shocking reveal. The easiest character to write was Floyd Sullivant, the ship's security chief. I put quite a lot of my humor into him; and although we're dissimilar in many respects, his character was a joy to write. But, my favorite character to write was Bram Waters, mostly for the many layers of character he brings to the book's plot.



TQWhich question about Solomon's Arrow do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

JDJ:  “Judging by the state of society and the catastrophic events in Solomon's Arrow, Mr. Jennings, are you still hopeful for humanity's future?”

“Yes, I am, and I say that because we are a contradiction. Humans generate so much darkness and pain and suffering, and yet we are capable of so much beauty and potential. There will come a point in time where we must make a choice: continue down the unsustainable road we're on and risk destruction, or change course and live up to our innate potential. I hope we choose the latter.”



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Solomon's Arrow.

JDJ:  Wow! That's a tough question. All right, this line, in context, always brings tears to my eyes:

In a barely audible voice, she said, "I . . . I had a sister . . ."



TQWhat's next?

JDJ:  I'm presently hard at work on a kinda, sorta, prequel to Solomon's Arrow, starring Bram Waters. The working title is The Dark of Night and is a companion novel that takes place twenty years before the events of Solomon's Arrow. After that, I may write a second companion novel starring Solomon Chavez. However, judging from the plot structure I already have percolating in my brain, that one is so complex I may need to break down and actually create an outline. Maybe not. We'll see.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JDJ:  You're welcome, Sally. It was my great pleasure.





Solomon's Arrow
Talos Press, July 14, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with J. Dalton Jennings, author of Solomon's Arrow - July 7, 2015
It’s the mid-twenty-first century. The oceans are rising, the world’s population is growing, terrorist organizations are running rampant, and it has become readily apparent that humanity’s destructive nature is at the heart of the matter.

When all faith in humanity seems lost, a startling proposal is announced: Solomon Chavez, the mysterious son of the world’s first trillionaire, announces that he, backed by a consortium of governments and wealthy donors, will build an interstellar starship—one that will convey a select group of six thousand individuals, all under the age of fifty, with no living relatives, to a recently discovered planet in the Epsilon Eridani star system. His goal is lofty: to build a colony that will ensure the survival of the human race. However, Solomon Chavez has a secret that he doesn’t dare share with the rest of the world.

With the launch date rapidly approaching, great odds must be overcome so that the starship Solomon’s Arrow can fulfill what the human race has dreamed of for millennia: reaching for the stars. The goal is noble, but looming on the horizon are threats nobody could have imagined—ones that may spell the end of all human life and end the universe as we know it.

Filled with action, suspense, and characters that will live on in the imagination, Solomon’s Arrow will leave readers breathless, while at the same time questioning what humanity’s true goals should be: reaching for the stars, or exploring the limits of the human mind?





About J. Dalton Jennings

Interview with J. Dalton Jennings, author of Solomon's Arrow - July 7, 2015
Photo by Janna Virden, © 2014
J. Dalton Jennings is a retired graphic artist who served for six years as an Avionics Technician in the Arkansas Air National Guard. Solomon’s Arrow is Jennings’s first published novel, and he currently resides in North Little Rock, Arkansas.





Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @JayJennings57



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Solomon's Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Solomon's Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings


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


J. Dalton Jennings

Solomon's Arrow
Talos Press, July 14, 2014
Trade Papeback and eBook, 400 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Solomon's Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings
It’s the mid-twenty-first century. The oceans are rising, the world’s population is growing, terrorist organizations are running rampant, and it has become readily apparent that humanity’s destructive nature is at the heart of the matter.

When all faith in humanity seems lost, a startling proposal is announced: Solomon Chavez, the mysterious son of the world’s first trillionaire, announces that he, backed by a consortium of governments and wealthy donors, will build an interstellar starshipone that will convey a select group of six thousand individuals, all under the age of fifty, with no living relatives, to a recently discovered planet in the Epsilon Eridani star system. His goal is lofty: to build a colony that will ensure the survival of the human race. However, Solomon Chavez has a secret that he doesn’t dare share with the rest of the world.

With the launch date rapidly approaching, great odds must be overcome so that the starship Solomon’s Arrow can fulfill what the human race has dreamed of for millennia: reaching for the stars. The goal is noble, but looming on the horizon are threats nobody could have imaginedones that may spell the end of all human life and end the universe as we know it.

Filled with action, suspense, and characters that will live on in the imagination, Solomon’s Arrow will leave readers breathless, while at the same time questioning what humanity’s true goals should be: reaching for the stars, or exploring the limits of the human mind?

Review: Defiant by Karina Sumner-Smith


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

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

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

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

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



Brandon's Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Previously

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

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

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

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


See Brandon's review here.

Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith


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

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

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

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


Brandon's Review

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. BorosonInterview with Paul Tassi, author of The Last ExodusInterview with David Nabhan, author of The Pilots of the Borealis2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Last Exodus by Paul Tassi2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Pilots of the Borealis by David NabhanInterview with J. Dalton Jennings, author of Solomon's Arrow - July 7, 20152015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Solomon's Arrow by J. Dalton JenningsReview: Defiant by Karina Sumner-SmithInterview with Eli K. P. William, author of Cash Crash Jubilee, and Review & Giveaway - May 5, 2015Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

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