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2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


Curtis C. Chen

Waypoint Kangaroo
Thomas Dunne Books, June 21, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen
Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket.” It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he's pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation:” an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship–and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?

With Waypoint Kangaroo, Chen makes his debut with this outer space thriller. Chen has an extensive network of connections to prominent science fiction authors, and has studied under John Scalzi, James Patrick Kelly, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


Claire Humphrey

Spells of Blood and Kin
Thomas Dunne Books, June 14, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey
Where we love, we ruin…

Some families hand down wealth through generations; some hand down wisdom. Some families, whether they want to or not, hand down the secret burdens they carry and the dangerous debts they owe.

Lissa Nevsky's grandmother leaves her a big, empty house, and a legacy of magic: folk magic, old magic, brought with Baba when she fled the Gulag. In the wake of her passing, the Russian community of Toronto will depend on Lissa now, to give them their remedies and be their koldun'ia. But Lissa hasn't had time to learn everything Baba wanted to teach her—let alone the things Baba kept hidden.

Maksim Volkov's birth family is long dead, anything they bestowed on him long turned to dust. What Maksim carries now is a legacy of violence, and he does not have to die to pass it on. When Maksim feels his protective spell fail, he returns to the witch he rescued from the Gulag, only to find his spell has died along with the one who cast it. Without the spell, it is only a matter of time before Maksim's violent nature slips its leash and he infects someone else—if he hasn't done so already.

Nick Kaisaris is just a normal dude who likes to party. He doesn't worry about family drama. He doesn't have any secrets. All he wants is for things to stay like they are right now, tonight: Nick and his best buddy Jonathan, out on the town. Only Nick is on a collision course with Maksim Volkov, and what he takes away from this night is going to crack open Nick's nature until all of his worst self comes to light.

Lissa's legacy of magic might hold the key to Maksim's salvation, if she can unravel it in time. But it's a legacy that comes at a price. And Maksim might not want to be saved…

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 45


This is the forty-fifth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their 2015 works published since the last update and any upcoming works for 2016. The year in parentheses after the author's name is the year she/he was featured in the Debut Author Challenge.

This Update includes the cover for Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Check out the gorgeous cover and add it to your must read list. It's on mine!



Part 1 herePart 11 herePart 21 herePart 31 here
Part 2 herePart 12 herePart 22 herePart 32 here
Part 3 herePart 13 herePart 23 herePart 33 here
Part 4 herePart 14 herePart 24 herePart 34 here
Part 5 herePart 15 herePart 25 herePart 35 here
Part 6 herePart 16 herePart 26 herePart 36 here
Part 7 herePart 17 herePart 27 herePart 37 here
Part 8 herePart 18 herePart 28 herePart 38 here
Part 9 herePart 19 herePart 29 herePart 39 here
Part 10 herePart 20 herePart 30 herePart 40 here
Part 41 herePart 42 herePart 43 herePart 44 here



Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2015)

Certain Dark Things
Thomas Dunne Books, October 25, 2016
Hardcover, 320 pages
[See at the Author's site]

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors? - Part 45
Certain Dark Things combines elements of Latin American mythology with a literary voice that leads readers on an exhilarating and fast-paced journey.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Here in the city, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay, Domingo is another trash-picking street kid, just hoping to make enough to survive. Then he meets Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers. Domingo is smitten. He clings to her like a barnacle until Atl relents and decides to let him stick around.

But Atl's problems, Nick and Rodrigo, have come to find her. When they start to raise the body count in the city, it attracts the attention of police officers, local crime bosses, and the vampire community. Atl has to get out before Mexico City is upended, and her with it
.
In 2015, Silvia's debut, Signal to Noise, was named on seven year's best lists: B&N's Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, RT, BookRiot, Buzzfeed, i09, Vice, and Tor.com. Certain Dark Things was also listed on B&N's Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog as one of 42 books they can't wait to read in 2016 and on io9 as one of 40 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books That Will Rock Your World In 2016!

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner


The winner of the December  2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger from Thomas Dunne Books with 28 votes equaling 44% of all votes. The jacket was designed by Young Jin Lim.

Voting for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR will start on December 21, 2015 and end on January 9, 2016.



2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner



The Results

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner



The December Debut Covers

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - December Winner

Interview with Holly Messinger, author of The Curse of Jacob Tracy


Please welcome Holly Messinger to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Curse of Jacob Tracy was published on December 1st by Thomas Dunne Books.



Interview with Holly Messinger, author of The Curse of Jacob Tracy




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

Holly:  I started getting ideas for stories almost as soon as I could write independently. I remember in the second grade, watching The Apple Dumpling Gang on The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night, and getting this brainstorm of how I could continue the story. I stapled together a little book, started writing in my laborious 7-year-old handwriting, and then the teacher took it away from me because I wasn't getting my seatwork done.

Like most young writers I wrote to amuse myself, and insert myself in my favorite stories. But I always had a proficiency for language, and I love the rhythms and patterns of it. I love words and I love the structure of a good scene and I love trying to capture a moment in words. One of my favorite movies when I was twelve or so was Willow, and I got so mad when I read the novelization of it because it didn't match what had happened on the screen! So I rewrote the love scene between Sorcha and Madmartigan and tucked the typewritten pages into the book. And that incident is sort of exemplary of the way I still write: I see scenes in my head and I try to capture them in words as accurately as possible.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Holly:  I'm a hybrid. I either start with a character and build a situation that will put him through the maximum amount of torture, or start with a situation and build the type of character who would be more likely to suffer under the circumstances.

Once I have the character, setting, and conflict in place I can hammer out the opening scenes, establish the mood and start exploring themes. Usually additional conflicts will present themselves and that keeps things interesting. But I periodically hit points where I have to stop and brainstorm again, to look at the plot threads I've laid down and extrapolate where they will lead. Sometimes more research is required. Very often my brain will toss up these—let’s call them premonitions of scenes—the high-tension moments in the story where there is a revelation or a power-shift or some other major event (screenwriting manuals call these pinch-points or tentpole scenes). I write these scenes out and use them as signposts to write toward. These drafted scenes rarely make it into the final version—at least not in their original form—but they always contain critical plot points that get used one way or another. To me it feels more like a topographical map than an outline. I know where I'm going but not necessarily how I will get there.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Holly:  The challenge is always getting it done versus keeping it fun. Like most creative people I have my fingers in too many pies, and I get resentful really fast if I start thinking I must work on this story. So I try to maintain that feeling of writing to entertain myself, and to do that I have to make it my leisure time, no exceptions. Luckily my husband and I are both independent as cats and he can amuse himself while I work. He likes to read, too, so sometimes if I haven't written anything in a while he'll nudge me, "Go write some more good words for me to read."



TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Holly:  Toni Morrison, pre-90’s Stephen King, Mary Balogh, Octavia Butler, Barbara Michaels, Charlaine Harris, Joss Whedon. I tend to value storytelling over beautiful prose. Style should be transparent, in my opinion, which is to say, a writer should have enough mastery over language to convey exactly a mood or feeling that will make me nod and go, "Yes, that's what that feels like," but not in such a showy way that I’m admiring the writer’s turn of phrase instead of empathizing with the character. I won't read books where the supposed appeal is the writer's clever imitation of someone else's style, because it always feels like a filter between me and the action, akin to having a head cold.



TQDescribe The Curse of Jacob Tracy in 140 characters or less.

Holly:  Cowboy tries to maintain his bromance in the face of his burgeoning psychic power & the intriguing English witch who wants to exploit it.



TQTell us something about The Curse of Jacob Tracy that is not found in the book description.

Holly:  I’d want to assure hesitant readers that while this may be a western, it’s not your grandpa’s western. There are no sinister Mexicans in this book, or wise spiritual Indians, or whores with hearts of gold. There are Jewish farmers, and Chinese rail workers, and French Acadian trappers and various and sundry other people just trying to make a living and get along with one another. And I tried to represent that without passing judgment on any of them. Trace is more like Bruce Banner than the Lone Ranger; he's driven to help people but he never swoops in and solves a problem on his own. I wanted to write the kind of hero who would bring people together instead of applying paternalistic “solutions.”



TQWhat inspired you to write The Curse of Jacob Tracy? What appealed to you about writing a Historical Fantasy/Western/Horror novel?

Holly:  In the most cynical analysis, you might say Westerns and Horror are an obvious fit, because Horror stories are all about fear of the Other, and Westerns are all about the Other being conquered by the Norm. What difference does it make if your (white, straight, male, Christian) hero goes around shooting Indians or zombies? The difference is reflected only in our current collective fear. It’s not a coincidence that both the western and horror genres are outgrowths of the 19th century, with its legacy of colonialism, genocide, and paternalism. And it’s not surprising, given that context, that both westerns and horror are fraught with racist, misogynistic tropes.

I never set out to write a “revisionist western,” but I did want to get away from the clichés. For one thing, I am constitutionally incapable of writing a story without a dominant female character. And since I’d already written my share of ass-kicking warrior women, this time I went with a sickly, manipulative little harridan. And I saddled my hero with self-doubt and an egalitarian mindset. Trace’s arguably anachronistic attitude toward people beyond his ken makes him more sympathetic to a modern reader, but it also makes sense to his character: he was part of the establishment and it failed him. But he’s smart enough to step back, examine the values he was taught, and re-calibrate for himself.

And the monsters, too—rather than have the monster be the “other,” that is, a thinly veiled metaphor for some foreigner—I was thinking in terms of the monsters being very intimate: Trace’s religion, the color of Boz’s skin, Miss Fairweather’s illness. And the tangible monsters they encounter are often metaphors for those personal demons. Of course there are examples of “imported” monsters, as well, like the keung-si (Chinese “vampires”) but I tried to always twist those imported monsters, as a dual symbol of cultural appropriation, and adaptation of immigrants to the new life they found in America.

That was the challenge and satisfaction of these stories; vivisecting the tropes until they screamed. I learnt that from Miss Fairweather.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Curse of Jacob Tracy?

Holly:  All of it. And by that I mean, I had to get into every aspect of my characters’ lives, from the clothes they wore to the food they ate—and how it was obtained, which is something few of us have to think about these days. The specifics of travel was a recurring frustration: Wikipedia will tell you the trans-continental railroad was completed in 1869, but it won't tell you how fast the train traveled or how much tickets cost or how sleeper-cars worked or how many days were lost on side-tracks or to breakdowns. Things like that. I spent a lot of time and money acquiring maps, and then identifying landmarks that still exist today, so I could map them on Google and calculate out the distance between two points, just so I could figure out how long it would take Trace and Boz to travel from Miss Fairweather’s neighborhood at the north end of St. Louis, to Carondelet township at the south point of the city.

One of the funnest parts of research was learning to shoot. I learned to shoot a single-action Colt .44 revolver (replica, of course), as well as a .22 rifle, a .50 cal deer rifle, and assorted shotgun loads. Shooting a long-barrel revolver is nothing like shooting a semi-automatic pistol. The recoil is completely different, the grip is different, the amount of time it takes to reload is significantly longer.



TQYour bio says you're a costume designer. Has that affected your writing?

Holly:  I hate to admit this, but the original reason Curse was set in 1880 is because that's my favorite sartorial period of the 19th century. The bustle went away, but skirts became very narrow, even tied behind the knees. Sleeves became so tight a lady could hardly raise her arms. Wearing those dresses was yet another form of research and really helped me get into the head of Miss Fairweather, to understand how her clothes could be both armor and fetters to her. Throughout the book Trace notes her fine clothes as indicative of the distance between them, and a subtle reminder of the power she exerts over him, in terms of money, magical knowledge, and social influence. In fact the only moments of real honesty between them are when she is sick and in her dressing gown, or in her work apron.

From a completely different perspective, sewing has shaped my writing in terms of seeing it as a process. When you make a dress you start with a pattern, and the more precise the pattern the less you have to alter the assembled garment. So it is with fiction: the more you plan ahead, in terms of research and plot, the less rewriting you have to do. Writing is more difficult than sewing, in part because the “pattern” is so amorphous, but it helps to see the story as a thing constructed of parts, because then it can be pulled apart and made-over. It’s a pain in the ass to rip out stitches, but you have to do it until the dress fits correctly and all the plot holes are closed up.



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

Holly:  Boz was easiest, because he’s the simplest. He knows who he is and so doesn’t do the waffling and whinging that Trace does. He has to be the rock and the voice of reason throughout the book, so that makes him predictable in a reassuring way.

Sabine Fairweather was and continues to be the most difficult, because she’s so complex and volatile. From the beginning I didn’t know how good, bad, or ugly she would prove to be, or how she actually regarded Trace, whether she had any respect for him or simply saw him as a tool to be used and discarded. I’m writing book three now and I still feel she could go either way.



TQWhich question about The Curse of Jacob Tracy do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Holly:  It’s not a question so much as a temperature reading—I’m always curious to know what readers think of Miss Fairweather. Do they admire her? Do they trust her? John DeNardo at SFSignal said Trace and Sabine’s relationship was “beautifully uncomfortable” and that struck me as about right.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Curse of Jacob Tracy.

Holly:  There’s a bit about halfway through where Miss Fairweather basically calls Trace a sanctimonious prude, saying he only cares about the helpless and pious. But he’s changed too much by this point, he knows he’s not the altar-boy he used to be, and he replies,
“I gotta confess, these days I find myself inclined toward the worldly and sinister.”
“Sinister?” she echoed, amusement in her voice. “Is that how you see me?”
“Well I know you ain’t pious,” he said, “and if you claimed to be helpless I’d be lookin for the knife in my ribs.”
He could tell she took that as a compliment. “What a relief, then, to know I needn’t play the damsel in distress. How tiresome that would be.”
“Wouldn’t suit you,” he agreed, and won himself a wry gleam from those cool blue eyes.
If you took that conversation out of context of the rest of their relationship, you’d almost think they were flirting (like Bond and any good supervillain!). And I love these little moments of jousting between them. This is a battle of wills between two very strong and stubborn individuals.



TQWhat's next?

Holly:  Well the second book is with my publisher, and I’m hacking out the third one, to finish off the main arc. I’m also working on peripheral pieces, to flesh out the world and bring some of the supporting players front and center. Boz, in particular, has his own story to tell, because at the end of Curse he’s no longer quite as sure of things as he was in Chapter One.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Holly:  My pleasure! Thanks for having me.





The Curse of Jacob Tracy
Thomas Dunne Books, December 1, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Holly Messinger, author of The Curse of Jacob Tracy
St. Louis in 1880 is full of ghosts, and Jacob Tracy can see them all. Ever since he nearly died on the battlefield at Antietam, Trace has been haunted by the country's restless dead. The curse cost him his family, his calling to the church, and damn near his sanity. He stays out of ghost-populated areas as much as possible these days, guiding wagon trains West from St. Louis, with his pragmatic and skeptical partner, Boz.

During the spring work lull, Trace gets an unusual job offer. Miss Fairweather, a wealthy English bluestocking, needs someone to retrieve a dead friend's legacy from a nearby town, and she specifically wants Trace to do it. However, the errand proves to be far more sinister than advertised. When confronted, Miss Fairweather admits to knowing about Trace's curse, and suggests she might help him learn to control it—in exchange for a few more odd jobs. Trace has no interest in being her pet psychic, but he's been looking twenty years for a way to control his power, and Miss Fairweather's knowledge of the spirit world is too valuable to ignore. As she steers him into one macabre situation after another, his powers flourish, and Trace begins to realize some good might be done with this curse of his. But Miss Fairweather is harboring some dark secrets of her own, and her meddling has brought Trace to the attention of something much older and more dangerous than any ghost in this electrifying and inventive debut.





About Holly

HOLLY MESSINGER lives in a bohemian town in eastern Kansas, where she writes in coffee shops and sews costumes for a living. Her costumes have appeared at some of the world's biggest cosplay events, including Hulu's launch party for "The Awesomes" at San Diego Comic Con. She also appeared as a judge on the premiere season of SyFy's "Heroes of Cosplay." Holly's short fiction has appeared in Baen's Universe and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. The Curse of Jacob Tracy is her first novel.

Website  ~  Twitter @HollyMessinger  ~  Facebook

Review: Seeders by A.J. Colucci


Seeders
Author:  A.J. Colucci
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, July 15, 2014
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $26.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781250042897 (print)
Review Copy:  eARC provided by the Publisher

Review: Seeders by A.J. Colucci
George Brookes is a brilliant but reclusive plant biologist living on a remote Canadian island. After his mysterious death, the heirs to his estate arrive on the island, including his daughter Isabelle, her teenage children, and Jules Beecher, a friend and pioneer in plant neurobiology. They will be isolated on the frigid island for two weeks, until the next supply boat arrives.

As Jules begins investigating the laboratory and scientific papers left by George, he comes to realize that his mentor may have achieved a monumental scientific breakthrough: communication between plants and humans. Within days, the island begins to have strange and violent effects on the group, especially Jules who becomes obsessed with George’s journal, the strange fungus growing on every plant and tree, and horrible secrets that lay buried in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Isabelle to realize that her father may have unleashed something sinister on the island, a malignant force that’s far more deadly than any human. As a fierce storm hits and the power goes out, she knows they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

A.J. Colucci masterfully weaves real science with horror to create a truly terrifying thriller, drawing from astonishing new discoveries about plants and exploring their eerie implications. Seeders is a feast of horror and suspense.



Qwills Thoughts

Seeders is the second novel by A.J. Colucci. Like Colucci's first novel, The Colony (killer ants), it's a science-based thriller, which makes the events feel frighteningly plausible. Colucci slowly ramps up the dread, there is terrific foreshadowing, and a suitably beautiful and isolated setting gone wrong.

The characters, Isabelle, her sons Luke and Sean, Jules Beecher (and more) are all distinct individuals with different reactions to what is happening on the island. It is interesting to see how each of them handles (or not) the events that take place. Colucci slowly unveils what is really going on, which ratchets up the suspense. I had several "don't go into the woods!" moments as things spiral out of control. It's not often that I want to shout at characters in a novel.

The underlying science regarding plant communication is taken to the extreme in a shocking, yet seemingly plausible way. This is the construct upon which the novel hangs and it is very well done. There is plenty of gore as things and people become more and more dangerous on the island, but often enough Colucci gives you the idea of what is going on and lets you fill in the horrific rest. That the gore is sometimes so matter of fact makes it incredibly more frightening.

Underneath the horror, suspense and dread, I found a message about how humans mistreat the planet. Seeders has me looking at plants in a new light ...and has me wondering what they think of me.

Seeders is a marvelous novel with well drawn characters (not all of them likable), terrific pacing, crisp writing, plenty of action, and a thought provoking eerie story. Get Seeders and read it with the lights on, but not near any of your potted plants. I can't wait to see what A.J. Colucci is going to make me afraid of next!


Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014


Please welcome A.J. Colucci to The Qwillery. Seeders, Colucci's second novel, will be published on July 15th by Thomas Dunne Books.



Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014



TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Seeders, will be published on July 15th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Colony (2012) to Seeders? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

A.J.:  I think my writing process has changed. For one thing, The Colony took five years to write and I had less than a year to finish Seeders, so I’m definitely a faster writer. It does get easier over time, as you refine your skills and develop a feel for what works and what doesn’t. I always say research is the most time-consuming thing about my work, but as far as challenging goes, that would be the writing itself. Good prose, character development and creating a smooth, linear storyline take a lot of hard work and rewrite. It’s exhausting and can suck the life out of you if you don’t pace yourself.



TQ:  What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Colony came out that you know now?

A.J.:  That it’s important to enjoy all the little successes along the way. I’ve never been the type of person who is satisfied with reaching my goals because there is always the next hurdle and the one after that. So even though finding an agent, getting two books published, two audio books and a German edition have been exciting moments, they’ve also been fleeting. I didn’t take the time to bask in the joy of seeing my reviews in print, the large turnout for my first book signing, having my daughter’s teacher ask me to speak to her class. You have to make a conscious effort to enjoy those moments because after all the time and hard work it takes to write a marketable book, you deserve it.



TQ:  Tell us something about Seeders that is not in the book description.

A.J.:  Book summaries mainly focus on plot, but the real story is in the complex relationships between the characters. I especially loved writing about Luke and Monica, two teenagers trapped on the island who start out as adversaries, but develop a deep friendship. Monica had a difficult childhood and keeps a tough wall up to protect herself. But eventually, partly out of fear for her life, she reveals her true nature to Luke and they’re able to comfort each other during an extremely terrifying experience.



TQ:  What kinds of research did you do for Seeders?

A.J.:  All of the information on plants – their ability to learn, remember, signal each other, attack prey – is based on fact. The most amazing discoveries in plant neurobiology are new and controversial so there are a lot of recent articles on the subjects. I interviewed a few experts in the field and used a plant biologist as a consultant to make sure my facts were correct. The story also touches on some mind-blowing facts about fungi, which we are still learning about, so I interviewed a mycologist at The New York Botanical Gardens who was very helpful and gave me a tour of the herbarium.



TQ:  Both Seeders and The Colony are science thrillers. What appeals to you about grounding your novels in science?

A.J.:  I’m fascinated by science. Each time I read an article or see a documentary on some new creature discovered under the sea, possible life on another planet, or a new theory in quantum physics, my story ideas go nuts. When I hook onto an exciting subject, I submerge myself in research until I’m in a euphoric zone where time slips by quickly. That said, this is not an easy genre to break into. Not only am I a woman in a male-dominated category, I’m one of the few science thriller authors who doesn’t have a Ph.D. I think my books sell because of my enthusiasm for the subject matter. You have to write what you love, not write what you know.



TQ:  In Seeders, which character was most difficult to write and why? Which character surprised you the most?

A.J.:  Isabelle was a tough nut to crack, but then my main protagonist is usually the hardest to write. She is almost always a woman who is strong, yet slightly damaged, and I have a hard time not putting myself in her place. It’s important to keep a certain distance from your characters, so through most of the book she remained rather two-dimensional, while everyone around her developed unique personalities. I was halfway through the book when I suddenly saw her fully-formed, and understand her on a deep level. Then I went back to make her whole.

I think Jules surprised me most, and he certainly has the biggest character arc. He was a mild-mannered scientist who valued self-control and, although I knew he was headed towards insanity, I didn’t realize just how far he would go. Being stranded on an island with someone like Jules is what makes the book so scary.


TQ:  Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Seeders.

A.J.:  It’s more than a line or two, but one of the creepiest parts of the story is when the two teenagers discover a body on the island, and it’s the first time we realize that something very strange is going on:
       The man wore the remains of a gray jumpsuit, stiff and faded from the elements. He was beginning to collapse at the center. Flies buzzed over the abdomen that had turned into a puddle of dark soup, and they hovered over the rotting face, landing on perches of bone.
       “Luke,” Monica’s voice was small and shaky. “Please, let’s go back.”
       There was a hole in his forehead, about an inch in diameter. Luke thought for a moment. “It looks as though he’s been shot in the head. I think he was murdered.” He got on his knees and leaned over the body. “There’s something in his hand, or what’s left of it.” He reached down to the nearly skeletonized fingers, clasped around an object the size of a baseball.
       “Don’t touch it,” Monica pleaded.
       Luke took hold of some fuzzy strands and tugged at the thing until it was free of the bones. It spun around and the winking face of a baby stared up at him. “It’s a doll’s head.”


TQ:  What's next?

A.J.:  I’m working on a few projects. One is another science thriller but I’m also finishing up a mystery and a crime novel. I’d like to explore other genres. Shake things up a little. Keep things fresh.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

A.J.:  Anytime!





Seeders
Thomas Dunne Books, July 15, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014
George Brookes is a brilliant but reclusive plant biologist living on a remote Canadian island. After his mysterious death, the heirs to his estate arrive on the island, including his daughter Isabelle, her teenage children, and Jules Beecher, a friend and pioneer in plant neurobiology. They will be isolated on the frigid island for two weeks, until the next supply boat arrives.

As Jules begins investigating the laboratory and scientific papers left by George, he comes to realize that his mentor may have achieved a monumental scientific breakthrough: communication between plants and humans. Within days, the island begins to have strange and violent effects on the group, especially Jules who becomes obsessed with George’s journal, the strange fungus growing on every plant and tree, and horrible secrets that lay buried in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Isabelle to realize that her father may have unleashed something sinister on the island, a malignant force that’s far more deadly than any human. As a fierce storm hits and the power goes out, she knows they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

A.J. Colucci masterfully weaves real science with horror to create a truly terrifying thriller, drawing from astonishing new discoveries about plants and exploring their eerie implications. Seeders is a feast of horror and suspense.





About A.J.

Interview with A.J. Colucci, author of The Colony and Seeders - June 23, 2014
Photo by Julia Colucci
A.J. Colucci was born in the Bronx and raised in Larchmont, a suburb outside of New York City.

"My stories combine cutting-edge science with the fast pace of a thriller," said Colucci, whose second novel will be coming out in spring 2014 from St. Martin's Press. "I like to write about nature because it can be a brutal place—kill or be killed—but it's also filled with a sort of beauty and logic that makes you wonder which species are truly evolved. Humans have a tendency to separate themselves from everything non-human. We consider ourselves above nature, not part of it. I think it's important to recognize what we have in common and gain a better understanding of all living creatures that share this planet."

The Colony was given a starred review by Publishers Weekly, noting, "Colucci's exciting thriller debut...balances scares and science nicely. Michael Crichton fans will hope that this is but the first of many such outings from the author's pen."

A.J. spent 15 years as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and writer for corporate America. Today she is a full-time author who lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and a couple of slightly overweight cats.

A.J. is a member of International Thriller Writers.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @ajcolucci  ~  Goodreads


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