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Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013


Please welcome Thomas Van Essen to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Center of the World was published on June 4, 2013 by Other Press. You may read an interview with Thomas here.



Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013





I started writing The Center of the World on March 21, 2003. I had turned fifty the year before. I was doing well in my job, having climbed about as high up the ladder as I was going to get. I had wanted to be a writer in college and I had written a pretty good, I thought, detective novel shortly after I finished graduate school, but after I couldn’t find a publisher for it, I got discouraged and stopped writing. I concentrated on my career and my family.

The idea that eventually became The Center of the World had been kicking around in the back of my mind since I had been in graduate school. That March I knew I had to give it one more shot. I told my wife that I had started working on a book and that if my interest in the project lasted long enough for me to produce seventy pages of long hand prose, I would cash in some frequent flyer miles and go to England to write and to do some research (which, in this case mostly meant going to the Tate and the National Gallery and looking at pictures by Turner).

So I made the trip. In addition to London, I went to Petworth House (about an hour south of London) where I found the scenes and the inspiration for the sections of my book that were set in 19th century England. In the morning I wrote for four or five hours, a luxury my job and life did not permit; in the afternoons I soaked up Turners. It was great.

I came back to New Jersey and went on with my life, but with the important difference that every morning I woke up an hour and a half earlier and wrote. I still worked hard at my job and did all the other things I was supposed to do, but I now had this writing time which gave some important meaning, purpose, and structure to my life. I had good days and bad days with the writing, but the time I spent working every morning as I sat in my pajamas and drank my coffee, made me feel good about myself in a way that I hadn’t for years.

But I never told anyone beside my wife and one or two very close friends (who were asked not to talk about it) about my writing. I didn’t want to be a fifty-something unpublished writer, nor did I have whatever it takes to be a member of a writing community. There are, I know, lots of writer’s groups that meet in libraries or online, but I never felt like I wanted to do that. I think it would have been in some sense healthier to be “out” about being a writer—to at least define myself that way in public—but I didn’t want to define myself (at my age) as a failed (i.e. unpublished) writer. I don’t think that was a particularly healthy attitude, but that is where I was during the writing.

I hadn’t quite realized while I was working on The Center of the World that I had encoded my thoughts and feelings about writing and my relationship to writing into the very structure of the novel. Every book contains an element of autobiography and in all works of art about art, there is an implicit dialogue between the work of art in the process of being created (in this case, my novel) and the work of art that the work of art is about. The Center of the World is about a secret and forbidden painting, a painting so powerful that it transforms all who come into contact with it. There is, I have come to understand, a deep psycho-metaphorical link between the secret and “forbidden” nature of the painting in my novel and my own practice as a writer. Part of what I was trying to work out was the transformative power of writing in my own life. My writing, I was trying to tell myself, was the secret, powerful, and transformative center of my world.

Now that The Center of the World has been out for a few weeks, I am no longer a secret writer and writing is no longer forbidden. I have been thinking about what’s different. The short answer is “not much.” I feel, of course, (and this is a very good feeling) that I have accomplished something that I have wanted to accomplish since I was in high school forty years ago. It’s a good book, and I am proud of it. Most people who read it like it; it’s gotten good reviews. But now I have to own myself as a writer and I have to figure out what that means.

I think a lot about that great moment in the second act of Waiting For Godot:

         ESTRAGON: We are happy. (Silence.) What do we do now, now that we are happy?

         VLADIMIR: Wait for Godot.

For writers, that waiting that Vladimir recommends is more writing. And that is what I have to do: keep writing.






About The Center of the World

The Center of the World
Other Press, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.

Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.





About Thomas

Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013




Thomas Van Essen graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and earned his PhD in English from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey with his family. The Center of the World is his first novel.




Website  ~  Twitter @tvanessen2

2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013


It's time for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for June 2013!


2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013


Since Cover Wars was so much fun as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, we're doing it again for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge. Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2013 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is released in the US. Cover artist/illustrator information is provided when I have it.



Vote For Your Favorite June 2013 Debut Novel Cover
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Voting will close on June 24, 2013.

(Please note that when you click "View" above it will take you to the PollCode site. Please click "Back" there to come back to this post. Leave any comment below.)





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013
Cover photos: feather © Vasilius/Shutterstock; oil drops © Buzz S/Shutterstock; 
texture background © Hemera/Thinkstock; bird © VladimirCeresnak/Shutterstock.
Cover design by Judith Lagerman





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013





2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013



Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013


Please welcome Thomas Van Essen to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Center of the World is published today. Happy Publication Day to Thomas!



Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Thomas:  Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be “here” on the internet.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Thomas:  I started writing in high school. It always seemed to me one of the few things a person could do that really mattered I wrote at Sarah Lawrence, where I got to study with E.L. Doctorow and a number of other great people. I spent a year after I graduated trying to finish a novel I had started there, but I couldn’t make it go anywhere and, more importantly, I couldn’t figure out how to make a living and be a writer. So I went to graduate school in English, with the vague idea of becoming one of those English professors who teaches literature during the academic year and writes novels during the summer. It took me nearly forever, however, to complete my degree and when I was done I couldn’t get an academic position (I wasn’t one of those graduate students who impressed the hell out of people) and so I took a job because I needed to make a living. I wrote a pretty good, I think, post modern sort of detective novel in those early years, but when I couldn’t find a publisher for it I stopped writing and concentrated on my family and my career. But ten years ago I knew I needed to go back to writing so I started The Center of the World.



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

Thomas:  I don’t know how interesting this is, but I write in the morning before I go to work. I wrote the first draft of The Center of the World with a Namiki retractable tip fountain pen on nine Ampad Gold Fibre 8½ by 11 3/4 writing pads, which, according to the text on the back of the pad, offers “Rigid backing for easy hand-held use/Professional quality bond provides smoother writing surface/Stylish cover fits with any décor . . . home or office.” All of which, especially the part about being stylish and fitting with any décor, is true. Having a stylish pad is very important, although even more important if you write with a fountain pen is good paper that doesn’t blot. Over my desk I have one of the section signs that says “PAPERBACK FICTION” from a local bookstore that went out of business. Whenever I look at it I think of the Beatles tune: “. . .and I need a job and I want to be a paperback writer.”



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Thomas:  I had to look up “pantser” but I guess that is what I am. I had a pretty strong idea about how the story was going to end, but only a general sense of how to get there. I thought of myself as heading in a general direction, but I tried to be open to whatever unexpected things I might find along the way. I think the best parts of my book were mysterious gifts that came from some unexpected place and are greater, in some sense, than anything the more or less normal person that I am could produce. The Center of the World is about J.M. W. Turner, a Romantic painter, and the book shares a sensibility with the poets and painters of his era, a sensibility which is inimical to a strict “paint by numbers” approach. I believe you have to write in a spirit of openness to whatever might come along. The Center of the World has a complicated structure—four alternating narratives—two set in the past, two set in the present—that speak to each other in what I hope are interesting ways. By the time I got to the second draft I had to start worrying about how all the pieces fit together so I had to start wearing the plotter hat.



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

Thomas:  Finding the time. And then finding the words.



TQ:  Describe The Center of the World in 140 characters or less. /like a tweet/

Thomas:  Two vectors, one labeled “art,” one labeled “eroticism” meeting some place beyond what we know in either category. Realistic fiction about.

or

An erotic painting by J. M. W. Turner that turns it up to eleven: how created in the 19th century? How would people respond to it today?



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Center of the World?

Thomas:  During my first or second year of graduate school I took a course in 19th Century Non-Fiction Prose. I was sitting in the back of the room, on the left hand side, when the professor told the famous story about Ruskin supposedly burning Turner’s erotic sketches. I didn’t know an awful lot about Turner at the time, but I knew I liked him and that he was a great painter. My first thought, I remember, was what a shame, but my second was, what if these sketches were a sign of something else? What if Ruskin burnt them not because they were merely erotic, but because they had some kind of power in them that was more than mere eroticism? What if they were the preliminary sketches for a work like no other? That notion, in various permutations, knocked around in the back of mind for around 25 years.

I have a very good “day job,” but one evening about ten years ago I had one of those “is this all there is?” moments. I was the last one left in the office; I had just gotten off the phone with a very demanding client and I knew that I had done a pretty good job of handling a complicated situation. In some universe I should have been very pleased with myself, but I just felt empty and depressed. Is this what I really want out of life? Is this all there is? I had stopped writing once, but I knew that I needed to go back to it.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Center of the World?

Thomas:  I read a lot about Turner, and looked at a lot of his paintings. I am fortunate in that I live near New York, so I could look at the Turners at the Met and the Frick. I used the Frick Art Reference Library to do research on some of the less well-known painters mentioned in the novel. I took a few trips to England to look at the Turners in the Tate and the National Gallery and to go to Petworth House where much of the novel is set. At Petworth House I tried to imagine how this real place could be instrumental in the creation of the impossible object that is at the heart of my book. The descriptions of the rooms and the paintings at Petworth are pretty accurate. The National Trust guide to Petworth House was an import resource



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

Thomas:  Mrs. Spencer, who is Egremont’s mistress and the model for Helen in Turner’s painting, was the easiest. When I started writing she really wasn’t part of the original conception and I don’t really understand where she came from. She was a gift. It wasn’t really a Pygmalion situation, but I fell in love with her as I wrote and that made it somehow easy. The hardest character, oddly, was Henry, the guy who finds the painting in the present. He is not me, but he is about my age and, like me, lives in New Jersey and has a place in the Adirondacks. What I found difficult was getting the right amount of distance between Henry and myself. He is a less happy and more troubled person than I am and it took awhile to figure out how to draw on my feelings to make him real, but to do so in a way that wasn’t me. Judith Gurewich, the publisher of Other Press, gave me some important help with him.



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

Thomas:  I think my favorite scene in the novel is the one where Charles Grant, one of the narrators, first poses nude for Turner. Grant, who is a very beautiful young man, has been chosen to be the model for Paris. Grant is a poor, but university-educated writer who feels out of place at Petworth. He finds it difficult to reconcile his tenuous position in society with the fact that he’s been asked to take his clothes off in front of Turner. As Grant stands naked before Turner, the painter gives him a pose and tells him to look through the studio window toward the distant horizon. Grant tells us that after a few minutes of concentrating, he sees “a bright shadow on the physical world, and I knew in the depths of my heart that a goddess was making her appearance.” As Grant seems to see the goddess, Turner experiences what he calls “the frenzy. . . [when] the work seems to make itself, as though I’m a mere medium for some other power.” When the two men compare notes after the event, Turner says,

Funny about the gods. They’re a damn hard business. They are long gone in this miserable nineteenth century of ours. The groves are empty and so forth. Still, I sometimes imagine I catch a glimpse of them. Or see what they might be if they existed, if you follow me. You can walk about the park all you like. See deer. Foxes. Flocks of fowl. Most wonderful song birds. Marvelous light. Color. Shades between shades never seen before. But no gods. They are gone. Decamped to who knows where. Railways and machines took their place. Who knows? But sometimes, when I look about me, I sense that they were here, that they have just departed. It is hard to explain. They leave behind a scent in the light. As though an attractive woman’s been in the room. Only her scent remains. But in light. The residue of their glory in the world. An odd business.

At one level this is a scene is about what I would like my writing and the process of writing to be, but it was also a scene in which some of the main currents of the book came together for me.



TQ:  What's next?

Thomas:  I’m revisiting the novel I started while I was an undergraduate, but coming at it from the very different perspective of an older person. It features an unreliable narrator trying to make sense of the lies his father tells (or doesn’t tell). It’s about history and how we remember it; about the sins of the fathers and the sins of the sons. I hope it will be a shorter and more compact novel than The Center of the World.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Thomas:  Thanks for having me. It’s a nice place you have here.






About The Center of the World

The Center of the World
Other Press, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.

Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.





About Thomas

Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013




Thomas Van Essen graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and earned his PhD in English from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey with his family. The Center of the World is his first novel.




Website  ~  Twitter @tvanessen2







The View From Monday - June 3, 2013


Happy first Monday in June! This is a very full release month. I'm going to need another bookcase soon.  (Note: I always need another bookcase.) You'll find a printable PDF shopping list for this week's releases here


The View From Monday - June 3, 2013



There are 4 debuts this week:

The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill;

The Center of the World by Thomas Van Essen;

Captive (Survival Race 1) by K.M. Fawcett

and

The Year of the Storm by John Mantooth.


Also out this week from former Debut Author Challenge authors are

Suddenly Beautiful by Boon Brux;

and

Trail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard 2) by Melissa F. Olson.




June 1, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The J.R.R. Tolkien Miscellany Robert S. Blackham LC
Doors (Kindle e) Daniel Brako H
His Vampyrrhic Bride (h2tp) Simon Clark H - Vampyrrhic 4
Hidden Fire (e) Alexis Fleming PNR
The Destroyer's Creed Tom Flynn SF - The Messiah Game: A Comedy of Terrors - Part Three
Hunting the Jackal (e) Seressia Glass PNR
The Darkest Embrace (e) Megan Hart PNR
A Method to the Madness: A Guide to the Super Evil Jeffrey A. Hite (ed)
Michell Plested (ed)
SF/Hu - Anthology
Zombies!: Tales of the Walking Dead Stephen Jones (ed) H/Z - Anthology
Blood Sacrifice (ri) Maria Lima UF - Blood Line 5
Cradle Lake Ronald Malfi H
A Planet Called Happiness R M Robinson SF - Science Fiction by Scientists 3



June 3, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Paladins of Shannara: The Black Irix (e) Terry Brooks F - Shannara - Short Story
Suddenly Beautiful (e) Boone Brux PNR
Seducing the Demon Huntress (e) Victoria Davies PNR
Family Pride (e) Sheryl Nantus PNR - Blood of the Pride 3
Secrets of the Jaguar (e) Jaye Shields PNR



June 4, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Clockwork Fairy Tales: A Collection of Steampunk Fables Stephen L. Antczak (ed)
James C. Bassett (ed)
SP - Anthology
Shapeshifted Cassie Alexander UF - Edie Spence 3
Darkness Unmasked Keri Arthur UF - Dark Angels 5
Tiger Magic Jennifer Ashley PNR - Shifters Unbound 5
The Beautiful Land (D) Alan Averill SF/H
Wicked Memories Nina Bangs PNR - Castle of Dark Dreams 7
The Too-Clever Fox: A Tor.Com Original (e) Leigh Bardugo Folk Tale - Grisha Trilogy
Queen's Hunt (h2mm) Beth Bernobich F - River of Souls 2
The Shining Girls Lauren Beukes SF
Orion and King Arthur (h2mm) Ben Bova SF/F - Orion 6
The Cryptos Conundrum (h2mm) Chase Brandon SF/Th/M
Darkest Desire of the Vampire: Wicked in Moonlight\Vampire Island Rhyannon Byrd
Lauren Hawkeye
PNR
Earth Afire Orson Scott Card
Aaron Johnston
SF - First Formic War 2
His Clockwork Canary Beth Ciotta SP - The Glorious Victorious Darcys 2
Abaddon's Gate James S.A. Corey SF - The Expanse 3
Redemption Ben Counter F - Warhammer 40,000: The Soul Drinkers Omnibus
Keeping Secret Sierra Dean UF - Secret McQueen 4
Sleeping With The Entity Cat Devon PNR - Entity 1
How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection (h2tp) David F. Dufty S/Robotics
The Center of the World (D) Thomas Van Essen AH
The Magic of "I Do" Tammy Falkner PHR - Faerie 2
Captive (D) K.M. Fawcett SFR - Survival Race 1
The City Stella Gemmell F
Silken Shadows Jennifer St. Giles PHR/Go - Killdaren 3
Midnight's Kiss Donna Grant PNR - Dark Warriors 5
Midnight's Kiss: Part 4 (e - serial) Donna Grant PNR - Dark Warriors
The Diabolist Layton Green SuTh - Dominic Grey 3
The Egyptian Layton Green SuTh - Dominic Grey 2
The Summoner Layton Green SuTh - Dominic Grey 1
Casino Infernale Simon R. Green UF - Secret Histories 7
Live and Let Drood (h2mm) Simon R. Green UF - Secret Histories 6
In a Fix (tp2mm) Linda Grimes UF - In a Fix 1
Breath of Fire (e) Liliana Hart FR - Rena Drake 1
Blood of the Emperor (h2mm) Tracy Hickman F - Annals of Drakis 3
Soul Bound Anne Hope PNR - Dark Souls 2
Blood Price (ri) Tanya Huff UF - Blood / Victoria Nelson 1
Night Terrors (e Serial) Jonathan Janz H - Savage Species Pt 1
Devil Said Bang (h2tp) Richard Kadrey UF - Sandman Slim 4
The Firebird Susanna Kearsley F
Smoking Hot Karen Kelley PNR - Good Girls 3
Joyland Stephen King M/Th/H
The Angel of Fire (h2tp) William King F - Warhammer 40,000: Macharian Crusade 1
Trouble Vision Allison Kingsley PCM - Raven's Nest Bookstore 3
The Road to Woodbury (h2tp) Robert Kirkman Z/H - The Walking Dead:
Burdens of the Dead Mercedes Lackey
Eric Flint
Dave Freer
AH
Home From the Sea (h2mm) Mercedes Lackey F - Elemental Masters 8
Steadfast Mercedes Lackey F - Elemental Masters 9
Lethal Outlook (h2mm) Victoria Laurie PCM - Psychic Eye 10
The Midnight Man (h2tp) Stephen Laws H - Collection
The Lucifer Glass (e) Frazer Lee H
The Year of the Storm (D) John Mantooth H/Th/Gh
Iron Kingdoms Chronicles: In Thunder Forged Ari Marmell F - The Fall of Llael 1
Gameboard of the Gods Richelle Mead SF/M - Age of X 1
Dead Iron (tp2mm) Devon Monk SP - The Age of Steam 1
Man-Kzin Wars 25th Anniversary Edition Larry Niven SF - Man-Kzin Wars 1
The Double Human (h2mm) James O'Neal SF/Dys/M/Th
Trail of Dead Melissa F. Olson UF - Scarlett Bernard 2
The Seven-Petaled Shield Deborah J. Ross
F
Bled & Breakfast Michelle Rowen PCM - Immortality Bites Mystery 2
Dragon Mine (e) Jaime Rush PNR - Hidden eNovella
Yellow Moon (ri) David Searls H
The Seventh Day (Kindle serial) (e) Scott Shepherd SP
Heart of Obsidian Nalini Singh PNR - Psy-Changeling 12
Eight Million Gods Wen Spencer F
Angel City Jon Steele UF - Angelus Trilogy 2
Phantom Wolf Bonnie Vanak PNR - Phoenix Force 2
Miss Garnet's Angel Salley Vickers Meta
Charred Kate Watterson Th/Psy - Detective Ellie MacIntosh 3
Long Fall from Heaven George Wier
Hilton T. Burton
M/UF
A Captain and a Corset Mary Wine SPR - Steam Guardians 2
Cobra Slave Timothy Zahn SF - Cobra Rebellion 1



June 5, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
A Window or a Small Box: A Tor.Com Original (e) Jedediah Berry MR
Definitely Dead A Sookie Stackhouse Novel Charlaine Harris UF - TV Tie-In




D - Debut
e - eBook
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback


AH - Alternate History
Dys - Dystopian
H - Horror
Hu - Humor
F - Fantasy
FR - Fantasy Romance
GH - Ghosts
Go - Gothic
LC - Literary Criticism
M - Mystery
Meta - Metaphysical
MR - Magical Realism
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PHR - Paranormal Historical Romance
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Psy - Psychological
S - Science
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SP - Steampunk
SPR - Steampunk Romance
Su - Supernatural
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy
Z - Zombies

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts


2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts


There are 10 debuts for June.  Please note that I use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The June 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.

Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite June cover for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place later this month.





The Beautiful Land
AuthorAlan Averill
Publisher:  Ace, June 4, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $16.00 (print)
ISBN:  9780425265277 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
Takahiro O’Leary has a very special job…

…working for the Axon Corporation as an explorer of parallel timelines—as many and as varied as anyone could imagine. A great gig—until information he brought back gave Axon the means to maximize profits by changing the past, present, and future of this world.

If Axon succeeds, Tak will lose Samira Moheb, the woman he has loved since high school—because her future will cease to exist. A veteran of the Iraq War suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Samira can barely function in her everyday life, much less deal with Tak’s ravings of multiple realities. The only way to save her is for Tak to use the time travel device he “borrowed” to transport them both to an alternate timeline.

But what neither Tak nor Axon knows is that the actual inventor of the device is searching for a timeline called the Beautiful Land—and he intends to destroy every other possible present and future to find it.

The switch is thrown, and reality begins to warp—horribly. And Tak realizes that to save Sam, he must save the entire world…





In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
AuthorMatt Bell
Publisher:  Soho Press, June 18, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 312 pages
Price:  $25.00 (print)
ISBN978-1-61695-253-2 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife's beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.

This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.





Captive
AuthorK.M. Fawcett
Series:  The Survival Race
Publisher:  Forever Yours, June 4, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
Price:  $17.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781455546480 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
"Fawcett delivers a suspenseful and captivating science fiction romance. A must read for all, but especially for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES." --Caridad Pineiro, NY Times & USA Today bestselling author

AN IMPOSSIBLE JOURNEY

The last thing Addy Dawson remembers is a blazing inferno and freezing river water overtaking her lungs. When she awakens, Addy finds herself on a strange, alien planet, trapped in a cell with no doors, no windows-- and to her horror-- a naked warrior who claims to be her mate.

AN UNDENIABLE PASSION

An alpha gladiator, Max is forced to breed and produce the finest specimens for the Survival Race, a deadly blood sport created by the alien rulers of Hyborea. To rebel means torture-or worse-yet Max refuses to become the animal his captors want him to be. But their jailors will not be denied, and soon Addy and Max find themselves unwilling players in this cruel game. Pushed to the limit, they will risk everything for the chance at a life free from captivity. And though fate brought them together as adversaries, Max and Addy will discover that when they're together, there's nothing in the universe that can stop them.





The Year of the Storm
AuthorJohn Mantooth
Publisher:  Berkley, June 4, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $15.00 (print)
ISBN:  9780425265741 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
In this haunting, suspenseful debut novel, John Mantooth takes readers to a town in rural Alabama where secrets are buried deep, reality is relative, and salvation requires a desperate act of faith.

When Danny was fourteen, his mother and sister disappeared during a violent storm. The police were baffled. There were no clues, and most people figured they were dead. Only Danny still holds out hope that they’ll return.

Months later, a disheveled Vietnam vet named Walter Pike shows up at Danny’s front door, claiming to know their whereabouts. The story he tells is so incredible that Danny knows he shouldn’t believe him. Others warn him about Walter Pike’s dark past, his shameful flight from town years ago, and the suspicious timing of his return.

But he’s Danny’s last hope, and Danny needs to believe…





Reviver
AuthorSeth Patrick
Series:  Reviver Trilogy
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, June 18, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
Price:  $25.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781250021700 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
CSI meets The Sixth Sense in this compelling horror/thriller that has already been optioned by the producers of The Dark Knight Returns!

Jonah Miller is a Reviver, able to temporarily revive the dead so they can say goodbye to their loved ones—or tell the police who killed them.

Jonah works in a department of forensics created specifically for Revivers, and he’s the best in the business. For every high-profile corpse pushing daisies, it’s Jonah’s job to find justice for them. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is on the other side watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it's only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah isn't so certain.

Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered. Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers. Working with Harker's daughter Annabel, he becomes determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long-hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a sinister force that threatens us all.

Putting the paranormal in the police department, first-time author Seth Patrick blends genre lines with this edgy crime thriller. The first novel in the Reviver trilogy, Reviver is sure to appeal to fans of Dean Koontz and Justin Cronin.





Stoker's Manuscript
AuthorRoyce Prouty
Publisher:  Putnam Adult, June 13, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
Price:  $26.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780399158551 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker's Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he's become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley's only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley's salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward's flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker's original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.





A Private Little War
AuthorJason Sheehan
Publisher:  47North, June 11, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 374 pages
Price:  $14.95 (print)
ISBN:  978-1611098945

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
He felt something in his belly twist up like cold fingers curling into a fist. This is it, he’d thought. This is when it all goes bad…

Private “security” firm Flyboy, Inc., landed on the alien planet of Iaxo with a mission: In one year, they must quash an insurrection; exploit the ancient enmities of an indigenous, tribal society; and kill the hell out of one group of natives to facilitate negotiations with the surviving group—all over 110 million acres of mixed terrain.

At first, the double-hush, back-burner project seemed to be going well. With all the advantages they had going for them—a ten-century technological lead on the locals, the logistical support of a shadowy and powerful private military company, and aid from similar outfits already on the ground—a quick combat victory seemed reasonable. An easy-in, easy-out mission that would make them very, very rich.

But the ancient tribal natives of Iaxo refuse to roll over and give up their planet. What was once a strategic coup has become a quagmire of cost over-runs and blown deadlines, leaving the pilots of Flyboy, Inc., on an embattled distant planet, waiting for support and a ride home that may never come….

The debut novel from acclaimed, James Beard Award–winning food critic Jason Sheehan, A Private Little War is the dark tale of a deadly war being waged in secrecy—and the struggle to stay sane in a world that makes no sense. A Catch-22 for a new generation, A Private Little War is sure to become a science fiction classic.





The Center of the World
AuthorThomas Van Essen
Publisher:  Other Press, June 4, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Price:  $15.95 (print)
ISBN: 978-1-59051-549-5

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.

Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.





Ecko Rising
AuthorDanie Ware
Series:  Ecko 1
Publisher:  Titan Books June 11, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Price:  $14.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780857687623

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
In a futuristic London where technological body modification is the norm, Ecko stands alone as a testament to the extreme capabilities of his society. Driven half mad by the systems running his body, Ecko is a criminal for hire. No job is too dangerous or insane.

When a mission goes wrong and Ecko finds himself catapulted across dimensions into a peaceful and unadvanced society living in fear of 'magic', he must confront his own percepions of reality and his place within it.

A thrilling debut, Ecko Rising explores the massive range of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and the possible implications of pitting them against one another. Author Danie Ware creates an immersive and richly imagined world that readers will be eager to explore in the first book in this exciting new trilogy.





Sea Change
AuthorS.M. Wheeler
Publisher:  Tor Books, June 18, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-0-7653-3314-8 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts
The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.



2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 15, 2013



2013 Debut Author Challenge Update  - May 15, 2013


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.



Thomas Van Essen

The Center of the World
Other Press, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Alternative History

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update  - May 15, 2013
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.

Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.



Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2013Interview with Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - June 4, 2013The View From Monday - June 3, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge - June 2013 Debuts2013 Debut Author Challenge Update  - May 15, 2013

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