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A blog about books and other things speculative

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2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner

Blogger restored all polls! So the results are in and the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars winner for October is Lee Collins' The Dead of Winter (Cora Oglesby 1) with 28% of the votes cast. The cover art is by Chris McGrath.  

The Dead of Winter was published by Angry Robot BooksShe Returns from War (Cora Oglesby 2) will be published in early 2013.


2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner




The final results:

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner





The October Debut Covers
2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 Winner






Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue in November with voting on the November debut covers.

Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012

Please welcome Lee Collins to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Lee's debut, The Dead of Winter, is published today in the US and Canada and on November 1st in the United Kingdom. Happy Publication Day to Lee!


Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012


TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery!

Lee:  Happy to be here!


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

Lee:  For me, writing isn’t best when done while isolated from all stimuli. I need distractions to work at peak efficiency. Nothing too large (I don’t write best in the middle of a riot, for example), but I find I have much more difficulty getting a day’s worth of writing done without my girlfriend watching a show or playing a game in the same room.


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

Lee:  I grew up reading Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Frank Peretti, then moved on to Orson Scott Card, Terry Goodkind, and George R.R. Martin in high school. All of them had a say in how I learned to write, from the pace and structure of storytelling to the construction of sentences. Tolkien, Lewis, and Martin are still writers I read frequently, but I’ve recently added a lot of Stephen King (who was a forbidden author in my childhood), some Ursula K. le Guin and Connie Willis, and a smattering of newer writers like Paolo Bacigalupi and Saladin Ahmed to the mix.


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Lee:  I approach a novel like I approach planning a cross-country flight: get a good idea of where you want to end up, file a flight plan with the proper authorities, and let the wind blow you around a bit. If something stops working or catches fire, reevaluate where you want to land. Similarly, I get a good synopsis of the plot together but am open to emergency landings if need be. I don’t actually outline, though; too much work.


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

Lee:  Coming up with ideas that I think would make good novels. I have no shortage of scenarios, characters, or worlds that seem interesting to me, but very few weather the months-long cogitation crucible required for me to seriously consider devoting that much time to them. I don’t like the idea of just starting a novel to see if it can sustain itself; I want to be reasonably sure it can hold together before I put a single word down. As a result, I don’t have a lot of half-finished novels lying around, but I don’t have an abundance of ideas I feel confident in pursuing, either.


TQ:  Describe The Dead of Winter in 140 characters or less.

Lee:  Old West bounty hunter Cora Oglesby must face her past if she is to overcome the unholy creatures lurking in the mines of Leadville.


TQ:  What inspired you to write The Dead of Winter?

Lee:  The character of Cora Oglesby was the spark. She began life as a Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning witch hunter in 2008, evolving into an Old West bounty hunter when I wrote her into a short story for a Western horror anthology Morpheus Tales was preparing. Sadly, the anthology never came together (although the story appeared as a regular feature in Morpheus Tales IX), but the character continued to grow in my imagination until I worked out a novel-length world for her to inhabit.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Dead of Winter?

Lee:  I picked up a few books about frontier living and cowboy humor to get a feel for both the environment and characters that would surround Cora. Serendipity struck when I learned of Marten Duggan, who served as marshal of Leadville from 1878–1882; suddenly, I had a way to boost the historicity of the book while still having a critical role filled. I also had to do quite a bit of reading on how the different firearms of the period functioned, from calibers and loading to dates of manufacture for certain models.


TQ:  What is the oddest bit of information that you came across in your research?

Lee:  Apparently, Oscar Wilde stopped by Leadville during a tour of the United States and proclaimed that a sign begging saloon patrons not to shoot the pianist was “the only rational method of art criticism” he had ever come across. That factoid was just too good to leave out.


TQ:  Tell us something about The Dead of Winter that is not in the book description.

Lee:  Cora Oglesby’s original name was Miriam. Her name came to me as “Mad Madam Mim” when she first popped into my head, and that’s how I thought of her for three years. Her name changed to (the possibly more historically accurate) Cora when I signed with Angry Robot. They requested the name change so as not to cause confusion between my books and the fantastic protagonist Miriam Black of Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds. Still, the name Miriam occasionally pops into my head when I think of the character.


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

Lee:  The Catholic priest Father Baez was the easiest for me to write. I based him on a colleague of mine at the university who is one of the kindest, quietest people I have ever met. Writing the scenes with this character was as simple as imagining how the real-life inspiration would handle a person like Cora Oglesby. On the other hand, my biggest challenge was Fodor Glava, the main antagonist. He’s a classic narcissistic villain, but I didn’t want him to become a cartoonish exaggeration of the trope. I tried to incorporate some development to explain why he views the world as he does.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Dead of Winter?

Lee:  The scene on the train when Cora first meets traveling Englishman James Townsend has always been a favorite of mine. It captures both Cora and Ben’s relationship as well as how she handles the strangers she meets in her travels.


TQ:  What's next?

Lee:  I’m currently working on research and a synopsis for a third book in the series, but I also have a science fantasy story set in Soviet Russia that is demanding more and more of my head space.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Lee:  The pleasure was all mine!




About The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter
Angry Robot, October 30, 2012 (US/Can)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook
November 1, 2012 (UK)


Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012
Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist.

When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

A stunning supernatural novel that will be quickly joined by a very welcome sequel, She Returns From War, in February 2013.

File Under: Dark Fantasy [ Winter Chill | Small Town Blues | Dead Reckoning | Sharp Shooter ]




About Lee

Interview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012
Lee Collins has spent his entire life in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he generally prefers to stay indoors reading and playing video games. As a child, he never realized that he could create video games for a living, so he chose to study creative writing at Colorado State University. Upon graduation, he worked as an editorial intern for a local magazine before securing a desk job with his alma mater.

Lee’s short fiction has appeared in Ensorcelled and Morpheus Tales, the latter of which awarded him second place in a flash fiction contest. In 2009, a friend challenged him to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and the resulting manuscript became his debut novel, The Dead of Winter. It will be published in 2012, and the sequel She Returns From War arrives in 2013.

In his spare minutes between writing and shepherding graduate students at his day job, Lee still indulges in his oldest passions: books and video games. He and his girlfriend live in Colorado with their imaginary corgi Fubsy Bumble. You can track him down online via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads

Guest Blog by Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - "Weird West is Weird"

Please welcome Lee Collins to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Lee's debut, The Dead of Winter, will be published on October 30th in the US and Canada and on November 1 in the United Kingdon.


Guest Blog by Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter -



“Weird West is Weird”

I had no idea weird West was even a genre (or sub-genre, or genre affiliate, or whatever) until after I’d completed the manuscript for The Dead of Winter. The idea of putting monsters in a tale of six guns and outlaws seemed perfectly natural, one that had surely been done many times before. We’ve been putting monsters, magic, and machina into interesting time periods and calling it historical sci-fi/fantasy for a good while now. The Old West is an interesting time period; surely it’s been given its share of monsters. The resulting books go right next to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, probably. If a book is decent, it will find a place on bookstore shelves.

Oh, the naïve arrogance of innocence.

I first realized that weird West might not be as big a cup of tea as I originally thought when I started shopping around for agents. Marketed as “a blend of fantasy, horror, and thriller set in the American Old West,” the manuscript had a difficult time dodging the various “we do not represent” criteria listed on agency websites. Fantasy, horror, no Westerns. Historical fantasy, yes; horror, no. Hours of reading slush pile rejection stories deterred me from dropping a label because I didn’t want to be one of those aspiring authors who didn’t read the submission guidelines. Form rejections and non-responders piled up, leaving me sullen, bitter, and ready to move on to greener pastures. Had Angry Robot not thrown open its doors to unagented authors in March 2011, Cora Oglesby might never have stumbled through the saloon’s batwing doors into the light of day.

Once I finally learned what The Dead of Winter should be called, I read through the Wikipedia article on weird West with a growing sense of confusion. The list of related works was short and featured far more movies than novels. Why could the infinite fandom knowledge of the Internet only come up with a score of books that fell into this genre? Aren’t the rich mythologies of American Indian tribes every bit as worthy of exploration as the legend of King Arthur or the wardrobe preferences of 19th-century England? Weird West is as open and endless as the prairie, as cold and foreboding as the Rocky Mountains, as merciless and deadly as the Great Salt Flats. Stories lie beneath its rugged surface, waiting to be mined and smelted into fantastic new shapes.

Yet these riches remain largely untouched, and I can’t fathom why. Have the legions of Spaghetti Westerns marched the setting of the Old West into a farcical grave? Do the arid landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico clash with traditional ideas of faeries, elves, and nature-infused magic? Whatever the reason, I challenge new and established authors alike to take a second, serious look at this criminally-underexplored sub-genre. The Dead of Winter is just one of thousands of stories that could flourish in the Great American Desert. I know I had a fantastic time exploring those frigid peaks and dusty streets, searching for ancient beasts and nuggets of culture and lore. There’s plenty for everybody, so cinch up your saddlebags, strap on your six gun, and see what magicks and monsters await you in that untamed frontier.

All this from a guy who is planning to set his next series in Soviet Russia.



About The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter
Angry Robot, October 30, 2012 (US/Can)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook
November 1, 2012 (UK)

Guest Blog by Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter -
Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist.

When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

A stunning supernatural novel that will be quickly joined by a very welcome sequel, She Returns From War, in February 2013.

File Under: Dark Fantasy [ Winter Chill | Small Town Blues | Dead Reckoning | Sharp Shooter ]




About Lee

Guest Blog by Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter -
Lee Collins has spent his entire life in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he generally prefers to stay indoors reading and playing video games. As a child, he never realized that he could create video games for a living, so he chose to study creative writing at Colorado State University. Upon graduation, he worked as an editorial intern for a local magazine before securing a desk job with his alma mater.

Lee’s short fiction has appeared in Ensorcelled and Morpheus Tales, the latter of which awarded him second place in a flash fiction contest. In 2009, a friend challenged him to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and the resulting manuscript became his debut novel, The Dead of Winter. It will be published in 2012, and the sequel She Returns From War arrives in 2013.

In his spare minutes between writing and shepherding graduate students at his day job, Lee still indulges in his oldest passions: books and video games. He and his girlfriend live in Colorado with their imaginary corgi Fubsy Bumble. You can track him down online via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads
2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - October 2012 WinnerInterview with Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - October 30, 2012Guest Blog by Lee Collins, author of The Dead of Winter - "Weird West is Weird"

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