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Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars


Please welcome Sarah Gailey to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Magic for Liars is published on June 4, 2019 by Tor Books.



Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece that you remember writing?

Sarah:  The very first piece of fiction I ever wrote was a short story for a Young Authors contest at my elementary school. I was in first grade, and I wrote a story about a guy named Bob who saved the Queen of England from being killed by a wave of acid. I was really into the idea of being the queen of something at the time, because I figured being a queen was a lot like being the president, but with more gold and access to cool frogs.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sarah:  For long fiction, I’m a hardcore plotter. I have lengthy spreadsheets that help me keep track of story beats. For short fiction, I’m a little more of a pantser — I have an idea of where I want the story to go, and I let it happen however it wants to happen.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sarah:  I struggle a lot with remembering to describe what people look like. I think part of that is because I have such a hard time remembering faces — I generally remember a person by their mannerisms, or their sense of humor. So when I’m trying to tell a reader what a character looks like, I tend to talk about things like their walk and their neck and their perfume, and then my poor editor has to remind me that people also have faces.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sarah:  This might sound silly, but my writing is heavily influenced by television. I pay close attention to the way TV writers structure narrative beats, plot development, and character arcs. Bringing those elements into my writing helps me craft stories that readers can stay invested in. I also pull a lot from contemporary horror, a genre that I think is exquisite at establishing stakes and then raising them higher and higher. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention some of my biggest narrative influences: Mario Puzo, Erin Morgenstern, and of course, Clive Barker.



TQDescribe Magic for Liars using only 5 words.

Sarah:  Angst-Ridden Magical School Noir.



TQTell us something about Magic for Liars that is not found in the book description.

Sarah:  There’s a significant focus in the book on consent and bodily autonomy. A lot of magical narratives ignore a person’s right to decide what happens to their body, and I think that’s worth exploring. For instance, the leg-locker spell in HARRY POTTER — a spell that locks the victim’s legs straight and together, so they can’t walk. This spell is treated as mild, nonthreatening, and relatively harmless (if inconvenient). In practice, though, a spell like this would be viscerally harmful. It’s a spell that immobilizes and pronates a person without their consent. In much of MAGIC FOR LIARS, I explore the consequences of such casual disregard for bodily autonomy.



TQWhat inspired you to write Magic for Liars?

Sarah:  A challenge: my agent, DongWon Song, said ‘I bet you can’t do it.’ (He is very artful, and often tricks me into doing hard things using this method.)



TQWhat appealed to you about combining Contemporary Fantasy with Noir?

Sarah:  I think there’s an angle on the magical school narrative that can be very bright and optimistic. This is understandable — adding magic to a standard school narrative is, in many ways, an attempt to make the idea of adolescence more bearable. That said, there is a dark underbelly to every story, Noir tends to be very interested in exploring the different ways people can hurt each other, and I was captured by the idea of exploring the way magic might change the harm we inflict upon each other.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Magic for Liars?

Sarah:  I spent a lot of time talking to a doctor who performs abortions. I could not have written this book without the information she gave me about different types of abortions and abortion ethics. Her insights were absolutely crucial. I also did a lot of reading about the practice of private investigation, and the ethics of investigating crimes committed by minors.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Magic for Liars.

Sarah:  The cover art for this book is by Will Staehl, who is absolutely brilliant. The central graphic references the disorienting perspective of the book, and the unreliability of the narrative. Nothing in this book is what it first appears to be, and the truth is never simple. Between the optical-illusion-style graphic and the vibrating colors that outline it, Staehl managed to capture that feeling beautifully.



TQIn Magic for Liars who was the easiest character to write and why?

Sarah:  I had a great time writing Rahul Chaudhary, the Physical Magic teacher at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages. He is Ivy Gamble’s window into the world of the faculty at the school, and also becomes a romantic interest. Writing him was easy, because his character is fundamentally good-hearted (unlike most of the characters in the book). Being able to write someone who is doing his best to do good in the world was incredibly refreshing.



TQDoes Magic for Liars touch on any social issues?

Sarah:  Absolutely. MAGIC FOR LIARS touches on classism, especially in academia; it also looks at consent and reproductive rights. Teens in this book deal with healthy and unhealthy perspectives on sex and sexuality. The protagonist struggles with alcoholism and isolation, both of which point toward her struggles with mental health. There are several queer characters in the book as well.



TQWhich question about Magic for Liars do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sarah:  I wish someone would ask me about the differences between the first draft and the final draft, because answering that question gives me the chance to gas up my brilliant editor, Miriam Weinberg. She took this book further than I ever thought it would be able to go. In the first draft of MAGIC FOR LIARS, I held back, fearful of what would happen if I made any character suffer too much. Miriam stripped away the safety nets I’d set up for the reader, and the result is a book that feels infinitely less tentative.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Magic for Liars.

Sarah:

“I couldn’t tell if I’d been there for happy hour before, or if I’d just been to a thousand places exactly like it. Places like that were springing up around Oakland by the score back then, every one a marker of the way the city was changing. It felt all-at-once, even though it had been brewing for years. Decades. Across the bay, San Francisco bled money like an unzipped artery. Those who had been privileged enough to have their buckets out to catch the spray drove back over the water to Oakland — from The City to the Town. The bumped aside people who had been living in these neighborhoods for generations, and they tore down storefronts, and they built brunch pubs with wood reclaimed from the houses they were remodeling.”



TQWhat's next?

Sarah:  I have a book-heavy 2020, with my first YA book, a new novella, and a second as-yet-unannounced-novel, which I can't wait to tell people more about.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sarah:  Thank you so much for having me!





Magic for Liars
Tor Books, June 4, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars
Sharp, mainstream fantasy meets compelling thrills of investigative noir in Magic for Liars, a fantasy debut by rising star Sarah Gailey.

Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it.

Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life – or at least, she’s perfectly fine.

She doesn't in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister.

Ivy Gamble is a liar.

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister—without losing herself.

“An unmissable debut.”—Adrienne Celt, author of Invitation to a Bonfire





About Sarah

Interview with Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars
©Allan Amato 2019.
Hugo award winner Sarah Gailey is an internationally published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe, and they are a regular contributor for Tor.com and Barnes & Noble. Their most recent fiction credits include Fireside Fiction, Tor.com, and The Atlantic. Their debut novella, River of Teeth, was published in 2017 via Tor.com and was a 2018 Hugo and Nebula award finalist. Their adult novel debut, Magic For Liars, will be published by Tor Books in June 2019. Their Young Adult novel debut, When We Were Magic, will be published by Simon Pulse in Spring 2020. You can find links to their work at www.sarahgailey.com; find them on social media @gaileyfrey.

Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves


Please welcome Cate Glass to The Qwillery. An Illusion of Thieves (Chimera 1) is published today by Tor Books.



Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Cate:  A short story for my tenth grade English teacher. It was the first time an assigned story could be about anything we wanted. I wrote about a brother and sister growing up on an isolated hardscrabble farm in some version of the Midwest. Their very strict but loving father had taught them that the only way to survive was to focus on the here and now, on what was real, forbidding them to make up stories or otherwise use their imaginations. Then Something Happened in the woods one day to upend their beliefs—and explain why their father was the way he was. The teacher asked to keep the story, and, foolishly, I let her. That was it for fiction writing for many, many years. When a friend persuaded me to take up writing as a hobby, I expanded that story into a novel, which still sits in my trunk, yelling at me for attention.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Cate:  Definitely not an outliner/pre-plotter. But I do know where I am going when I sit down to write. I call myself an Organic Story Developer. I develop enough of characters, world, and situation to write an opening scene and get a general idea of the shape of the story. I just don’t know the details of how I am going to get there. As I move forward, I learn more and more about the characters and the world, which feeds the plot, clarifying events that need to happen to develop the characters and to deepen the world. Rinse. Repeat. To me it keeps the story new every day.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Cate:  Verbiage. I love words, and I obsess over getting just the right feel, sound, and rhythm on the page. It makes me a slow writer.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Cate:  Everything. Nature, music, art, museums, travel, politics, history. Tidbits I hear on National Public Radio. Archeology news. Science. Living. Stories I love. I do believe that a writer brings every experience to the page in some fashion.



TQDescribe An Illusion of Thieves using only 5 words.

Cate:  Forbidden magic. Four sorcerers. Intrigue.



TQTell us something about An Illusion of Thieves that is not found in the book description.

Cate:  The reason magic is forbidden: Sorcerers are believed to be the descendants of a beast the gods imprisoned under the earth after the Wars of Creation. This same beast causes volcanoes and earthquakes. Those who carry the taint of sorcery are condemned to die, lest they use their talents to set the beast free to wreak the world’s end.



TQWhat inspired you to write An Illusion of Thieves? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Cate:  I watched a recent Mission Impossible film and my exceptional spouse and I started comparing it to the original TV series about an ensemble of people with specific talents who accomplished off-the-books missions that legit spies couldn't do. That got me asking "what if...?" What if the very specific talents were magical—maybe in a world where magic is forbidden, and sorcerers are very rare? What if there were really impossible missions that they believed needed doing? Once I started thinking about possible talents that would make up such a group, Romy, Placidio, Neri, and Dumond came alive, insisting that their stories be written!

I enjoy writing fantasy because there are no rules. I grew up reading just about every genre of fiction. I loved mysteries, double agent and other kinds of spy novels, adventure stories, historical novels, romantic suspense, political thrillers, mythology, fairy tales, and fantastical adventures like Alice in Wonderland. As a fantasy writer, I can tell any of those stories in a world of my own making! What could be more fun than that?



TQWhat sort of research did you do for An Illusion of Thieves?

Cate:  I wanted to set the Chimera stories in the kind of world where intrigue and skullduggery abounded. Rather than empire-building battles, I wanted to focus on more localized struggles, where the important conflicts take place in salons or dining rooms, artisan workshops, public buildings, and the like, and involved matters like hostage-taking, poisonings, assassinations – and, yes, thieving. When I settled on a locale much like that of Renaissance Italy, I was led into research about every thing from the materials available in an age of burgeoning exploration and trade to Mediterranean vegetation, poisons, wine production, barge traffic on rivers. As the Chimera's first mission has to do with art forgery and a statue of great antiquity, I read up on bronze casting. And as one of my four is a professional duelist, I read up on dueling regulations, weapons, and protocols. As the series goes on, I've gotten into researching the cloth trade and divination schemes, the history of geology, and numerous other topics.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for An Illusion of Thieves.

Cate:  The artist is Alyssa Winans. Rather than reflecting a specific incident, her gorgeous cover art reflects the hidden energies in a world where magic has a meant a death sentence for thousands of years. Sorcerers spend their lives suppressing their gifts. The person on the cover is Romy of Lizard's Alley, a law scribe who for nine years was a courtesan bound to the most powerful man in her city. She tells the story of An Illusion of Thieves...how magic caused her to forfeit one life and find another.



TQIn An Illusion of Thieves who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Cate:  The easiest was Neri, Romy's almost-sixteen-year-old brother. Maybe because I have three sons of my own. Maybe just because his emotional drivers were so clear. He has grown up in grinding poverty with a family who is terrified of him. He is illiterate and ignorant about the wider world, possessing one incredible gift that he dares not use. His eldest sister, whose name no one speaks, is the only other person he knows who has magic, but she lives in luxury with the richest and most dangerous man in the city. This is one angry, resentful kid, and yet that elder sister is the only person in the world who was never scared of him.

The hardest was Romy herself. We are in her head, so I had to learn everything about her. This is not a romance, so what was it that defined her relationship with the Shadow Lord both before and after the split that changed the course of her life? It would have been very easy to fall into the "lost love" cliche or the "woman scorned" cliche. I wanted her strong, but flawed. Intelligent, but her knowledge of the world is through the very specific lens of her past. Conflicted, but not wallowing in the past. And always interesting and unexpected.



TQDoes An Illusion of Thieves touch on any social issues?

Cate:  I never set out to address social issues. But I do try to make my worlds feel real, which means issues of morality, justice, bias, fanaticism…you name it…will eventually come into play.



TQWhich question about An Illusion of Thieves do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Cate:  Does Romy believe there is really a monster imprisoned under the earth? No. But events tell her that magic is only one hint of the extraordinary in the world. The mythos will creep quietly into the Chimera stories as they go on.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from An Illusion of Thieves.

Cate:  When Romy the courtesan is dismissed, she’s thrown back into poverty and saddled with an angry teenaged brother to feed:

“I sat in the dark fretting over what kind of work I might do that did not involve lustful men, libidinous women, haggling at the market, or incessant stares from strangers. After four-and-twenty years of haphazard education, I ought to have a few useful skills besides the obvious.”

And Placidio di Vasil always has a pithy comment:

Placidio examined the dagger’s grip, quillions, edge, and point as a physician explores skulls, tongues, and urine. “Well chosen,” he conceded. “A good length. But what need has a Beggars Ring boy for a new blade and finer skills? Have you acquired a new enemy? ’Twould likely be cheaper to hire me to fight, than to teach a hothead to skewer a dunderwit.”



TQWhat's next?

Cate:  Next up is the second Chimera adventure: A Conjuring of Assassins, coming in February 2020. Romy, Placidio, Neri, and Dumond think their new mission is a simple one—break into a prison cell, find out where the prisoner has hidden a very dangerous document, and be off to destroy it. But things get complicated very quickly when the prisoner isn’t at all what they expected, and Romy rescues a half-drowned stranger who has some most unusual talents.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Cate:  Thank you for having me!





An Illusion of Thieves
Chimera 1
Tor Books, May 21, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves
A ragtag crew with forbidden magic must pull off an elaborate heist and stop a civil war in An Illusion of Thieves, a fantasy adventure from Cate Glass.

In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy's aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they'll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.





About Cate

Interview with Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves
Cate Glass is a writer of the fantasy adventure series Chimera. Cate Glass is also a pen name of Carol Berg, award-winning and bestselling author of fifteen epic fantasy novels and half a dozen novellas and short stories.

Though Cate's home has a great view of the Colorado Rockies, she has lived a large portion of her life in realms of mystery and adventure - Middle Earth, Camelot, Amber, Wonderland, Harry Dresden's Chicago, Jim Chee's New Mexico, Cheltenham race track or the colleges of Oxford, Victorian London, Cold War Berlin, the Welsh borderlands, River Heights, Marvel's version of Hell's Kitchen...you get the drift.

While studying mathematics and software engineering at Rice University and the University of Colorado respectively, Cate carved out a special place for studies in English and History of Art and reading, reading, reading.

A few years into a career as a software development engineer, Cate took up a hobby of writing her own fiction. Many manuscripts later (see Carol Berg's bibliography) Cate is deep into the stories of the Chimera.

Cate enjoys binging on movies and (well-written!) TV, as well as camping, hiking, and biking with her mechanical engineer spouse, and three sons who juggle music and teaching, software and carpentry, rocket science and ice hockey.

Website  ~  Twitter @CateGlassWriter  ~  Facebook

Interview with Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings


Please welcome Jenn Lyons to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ruin of Kings was published on February 5, 2019 by Tor Books.



Interview with Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece that you remember writing?

Jenn:  I wrote a short story in elementary school about an Egyptian high priestess. And I remember being annoyed because I didn’t think the story was good but my English teacher had given me an A anyway because she liked the drawing I’d handed in with it. I didn’t think that was fair.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jenn:  A hybrid, although I lean towards plotter. I start with an outline of milestone to aim for and usually have adjusted by the time I’ve finished. The journey may not travel on quite the roads I predicted, but I end up at the right place eventually.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jenn:  Protecting my time. As a writer, there's always people (often well-intentioned) who think that I have a tremendous amount of free time, that writing is a few hours of intense focus following by oh, just doing nothing the rest of the time. So surely I must have that time for whatever it is they want. And that's not true at all, at least it isn't for me. Typically their 'free time' is exactly when I do my best work, so if I don't studiously protect that, I end up not accomplishing much.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jenn:  I was reminded recently what an impact years of table top role-playing has had when someone commented on how I was able to juggle so many story threads. It seems very natural to me, and I think in large part that’s because I’m used to dealing with giant campaigns stretching back years. But my writing has been influenced by so many factors. It's difficult to single out just one thing.



TQDescribe The Ruin of Kings using only 5 words.

Jenn:  secrets, power, brothers, dragons, destiny



TQTell us something about The Ruin of Kings that is not found in the book description.

Jenn:  It's completely diegetic, meaning the book itself 'exists' in the world the book describes. This makes the reader something of a voyeur, reading a work that wasn't intended for them. When I was a child, I remember my mother coming home with this very old photo-album of black-and-white photos of, I kid you not, the Boxer Rebellion, along with notes that the original owner, a missionary, had taken before they’d been forced to flee for their lives from China. It’s always stayed with me, that sense of subterfuge, of glimpsing someone else’s secrets.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Ruin of Kings? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Jenn:  ROK is large enough for a multitude of inspirations, but one of the subjects of table-top RPGs I've always been fascinated with is how trivial death becomes. In most games, if a character dies, the rest of the adventurers just go and ask for that character to be brought back to life. Easy. Except…what happens to a society where that kind of solution to death exists? Where an afterlife and reincarnation aren't guessed at or matters of blind faith, but known provable absolutes? My attraction to fantasy, of course, is deeply ingrained, and I suppose harkens all the way back to the fairy tales of my childhood.

It's a somewhat difficult question though, because I can't imagine not writing fantasy, or not having fantasy in my life. My reasons may have changed since I was a child using such stories to escape from the reality of my situation, but I still love the opportunity to examine scenarios impossible in a more 'realistic' setting.

Also, dragons. I really love dragons.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ruin of Kings?

Jenn:  Oh, so much. Linguistics, geology, meteorology, metallurgy, mythologies of all sorts, historical costuming…sometimes it seems like I’ve been a dragon myself, hoarding stray scraps of information I could use for world building. I also studied fencing and learned to play the harp, although I've very much lapsed in both areas in the years since.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Ruin of Kings.

Jenn:  It depicts a dragon, and yes, the dragon exists in the story, and no, I won’t tell you which dragon it is. (That would be a spoiler.) The cover was created by Lars Grant-West, who is amazing. He does extraordinary 2D work, but he created this dragon in 3D and I couldn’t be happier.



TQIn The Ruin of Kings who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jenn:  I would say the easiest character to write was Kihrin. I know him so well by this point it’s a bit like breathing. And conversely, Darzin and Gadrith were the hardest. Gadrith because he's so coldly logical I sometimes have remind myself that this is a man who’s completely amoral, and thus has no interest in stopping at the usual societal limits. And Darzin because...well, because Darzin is cruel and delights in causing pain. It's not easy to put myself in that headspace.



TQDoes The Ruin of Kings touch on any social issues?

Jenn:  As the story progressed, a discussion on consent snuck in as well. I hadn’t planned on it, but the idea planted itself pretty firmly into the foundational bedrock of the story and refused to leave. A great deal of fantasy presents questions about agency and free will but doesn't always do a good job of answering those questions. We don't think about what it really means to have an inescapable heroic destiny. After all, a great many fantasy tropes are a complete denial of the idea of free will, or imply that morality and worthiness are tied to genetics. So, this spends some time looking at that, and probably will continue to do so as the series progresses.



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

Jenn:  What did you learn about yourself while creating this book?

I have tells. Most authors do. There are certain themes that may show up again and again in an author’s work, and for me, I apparently have a deep and abiding faith in the ability of loved ones to lie to each other. Also, that nobody’s parents are going to be who they think. Probably explains why I always liked King Arthur so much as a kid.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Ruin of Kings.

Jenn:

“When they brought me up to the auction block, I looked out over the crowd and thought: I would kill you all if I had a knife.
And if I wasn’t naked, I amended.”

“I don’t want to be your hero. Those stories never end well. The peasant boy done good slays the monster, wins the princess, and only then finds out he’s married to a stuck-up spoiled brat who thinks she’s better than him. Or he gets so wrapped up in his own majesty that he raises taxes to put up gold statues of himself while his people starve. The chosen ones—like Emperor Kandor—end up rotting and dead on the Manol Jungle floor, stuck full of vané arrows. No thanks.”



TQWhat's next?

Jenn:  Next is the sequel, The Name of All Things, which will be available on October 29th (pre-orders are live now!) And of course finishing the rest of the series.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jenn:  Thank you for having me! It’s been a real pleasure.





The Ruin of Kings
A Chorus of Dragons 1
Tor Books, February 5, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 560 pages

Interview with Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings
"Everything epic fantasy should be: rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying. I loved it."—Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians

When destiny calls, there's no fighting back.

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel's son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family's ruthless power plays and political ambitions.

Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he isn't the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world.

He's destined to destroy it.

Jenn Lyons begins the Chorus of Dragons series with The Ruin of Kings, an epic fantasy novel about a man who discovers his fate is tied to the future of an empire.

"It's impossible not to be impressed with the ambition of it all . . . a larger-than-life adventure story about thieves, wizards, assassins and kings to dwell in for a good long while."—The New York Times





Upcoming

The Name of All Things
A Chorus of Dragons 2
Tor Books, October 29, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 579 pages

Interview with Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings
"Everything epic fantasy should be: rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying. I loved it."—Lev Grossman on The Ruin of Kings

You can have everything you want if you sacrifice everything you believe.

Kihrin D'Mon is a wanted man.

Since he destroyed the Stone of Shackles and set demons free across Quur, he has been on the run from the wrath of an entire empire. His attempt to escape brings him into the path of Janel Theranon, a mysterious Joratese woman who claims to know Kihrin.

Janel's plea for help pits Kihrin against all manner of dangers: a secret rebellion, a dragon capable of destroying an entire city, and Kihrin's old enemy, the wizard Relos Var.

Janel believes that Relos Var possesses one of the most powerful artifacts in the world—the Cornerstone called the Name of All Things. And if Janel is right, then there may be nothing in the world that can stop Relos Var from getting what he wants.

And what he wants is Kihrin D'Mon.

Jenn Lyons continues the Chorus of Dragons series with The Name of All Things, the epic sequel to The Ruin of Kings





About Jenn

Interview with Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings
Matthew & Nicole Nicholson,
Dim Horizon Studio
Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, three cats and a nearly infinite number of opinions on anything from Sumerian mythology to the correct way to make a martini. She is a video game producer by day (although currently taking a break from that to concentrate on writing epic fantasy). A long-time devotee of storytelling, she traces her geek roots back to playing first edition Dungeons & Dragons in grade school and reading her way from A to Z in the school’s library.

Her debut epic fantasy novel, The Ruin of Kings, from Tor Books, found its way into the wild on February 5, 2019. The second book, The Name of All Things, drops October 29, 2019.

Website  ~  Twitter @jennlyonsauthor  ~  Facebook


Interview with K. A. Doore, author of The Perfect Assassin


Please welcome K. A. Doore to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Perfect Assassin was published on March 19, 2019 by Tor Books.



Interview with K. A. Doore, author of The Perfect Assassin




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

K. A.:  A story about a girl who climbs rainbow mountain and becomes a ballerina – with illustrations and everything. I’m sure it made a lot of sense to me at the time in 2nd grade.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

K. A.:  I’m a pantser, through and through, to the point where I can’t even write a synopsis until I’ve at least written a draft zero.

I did try plotting, once. And that story is still just an outline somewhere, which only proves I should never do that again. Know your process, folks.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

K. A.:  That first draft. It used to be the easiest thing, and the most fun, but now that the gap between my final drafts and my first drafts has widened so much, it’s hard to look past the hot, steaming mess that is Draft Zero and just get it down. But alas, as much as I’ve tried, you can’t edit a blank page.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

K. A.:  I love Annie Dillard’s lyrical writing style and I love Seanan McGuire’s fast-paced and tight plots, so please blame both for my continuous attempts at writing both lyrical and fast-paced. Whether or not I ever actually achieve that goal is up to the reader, but I’m going to keep trying!



TQDescribe The Perfect Assassin using only 5 words.

K. A.:  Oh, I can do one better and describe the whole trilogy with five words:
Queer! Assassins! Saving! The! Day!



TQTell us something about The Perfect Assassin that is not found in the book description.

K. A.:  It’s gay!

No really, I’ve tried to be very clear that I’m a queer author writing books with queer characters in the hopes that readers looking for that will find it. It’s not always obvious in the descriptions – which I absolutely 100% get – so I’ve been looking for other ways to make it obvious. Which has mostly involved a lot of shouting and waving my arms.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Perfect Assassin? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

K. A.:  My editor.

Okay I guess I should explain that one, huh? Fun fact: even though TPA is my debut, it’s not the first book I wrote in the trilogy. I’d originally written a standalone and when Tor expressed interest in acquiring it, they also expressed interest in turning it into a trilogy. I couldn’t see a way to write two sequels from that starting point, but my editor suggested I write a prequel instead and specifically about Amastan.

That was all the inspiration I needed. Amastan pretty much told me his story himself and here we are.

As for what appeals to me about writing fantasy, it’s the freedom to make and explore a whole world. You can do anything, be anyone, explore any concept – it’s limitless and vast and breathtaking. I’ve tried writing other genres, but fantasy always creeps back in. A little bit of magic, I think, is necessary to keep things interesting.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Perfect Assassin?

K. A.:  I spent a solid chunk of months living in the university library. Thank the patron saints for inter-library loans. I also lived in the Sonoran Desert for six years which, while not quite the same sort of desert as Ghadid is set in, still helped me understand and write the extreme heat and weather.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Perfect Assassin.

K. A.:  It’s very striking – literally, hah. Larry Rostant is the cover artist, and he did both the photography as well as the design. He’s kind of amazing.

As you can probably guess, it shows the main character Amastan. But what most people tend to miss is that, while the red is pretty, yes, it’s actually plot-related. There are spirits in the story called jaan, which, left unattended, quickly become deadly. Most of the time they’re invisible and you wouldn’t even know they were there until it’s too late. But when they’re particularly new and strong, they look like a smear of red.

Which means technically there are two characters on the cover.



TQIn The Perfect Assassin who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

K. A.:  The easy: Tamella aka the Serpent of Ghadid aka Amastan’s teacher. I had a pretty good idea of her as a badass woman who did amazing stuff in her own time, but has since been forced to keep a low profile. It was just so easy to channel her frustration, but also her acceptance of her new role.

The hardest was Yufit. I had to write several scenes from his point of view just so I knew what was going through his head. It’s always been hard for me to write the love interest, because the main character is so infatuated that they can forget the other person has a life of their own. So balancing that self-centeredness, but also making certain Yufit still has his own character moments, was a hard line to walk.



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

K. A.:

Q: Which character in TPA could you beat in a fair fight?

A: Literally none of them. Barag is the closest, but he’d probably offer me tea and then his wife would shank me. Which would be her version of a fair fight, so.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Perfect Assassin.

K. A.:  Let’s go with weather-related, because weather plays a big part in the story:

“Dusk fell like dust, coating the world in a darkness that accumulated in one continuous, ever-thickening, layer. The clouds hadn’t broken yet, but they were denser now, billowing and dark. They hunched on the horizon like a brooding crow, flashes of light briefly illuminating their depths.”



TQWhat's next?

K. A.:  The second book – The Impossible Contract – which follows Thana on her own adventures, will be out next November, and I just turned in edits on the third book – The Unconquered City – which will be out summer of 2020. After that, I’ve got a few projects bubbling on the back burner, so we’ll just have to see!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

K. A.:  Thank you for having me!





The Perfect Assassin
Chronicles of Ghadid 1
Tor Books, March 19, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with K. A. Doore, author of The Perfect Assassin
A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own in K. A. Doore's The Perfect Assassin, a breakout high fantasy beginning the Chronicles of Ghadid series.

Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.

The Perfect Assassin is a thrilling fantastical mystery that had me racing through the pages.” —S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass

“Full of rooftop fights, frightening magic, and nonstop excitement and mystery, I absolutely loved it from start to finish!” — Sarah Beth Durst




Upcoming

The Impossible Contract
Chronicles of Ghadid 2
Tor Books, November 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with K. A. Doore, author of The Perfect Assassin
Second in K. A. Doore's high fantasy adventure series the Chronicles of Ghadid, a determined assassin travels to the heart of the Empire in pursuit of a powerful mark, for fans of Robin Hobb, Sarah J. Maas, and S. A. Chakraborty

Thana has a huge reputation to live up to as daughter of the Serpent, who rules over Ghadid’s secret clan of assassins. Opportunity to prove herself arrives when Thana accepts her first contract on Heru, a dangerous foreign diplomat with the ability to bind a person’s soul under his control.

She may be in over her head, especially when Heru is targeted by a rival sorcerer who sends hordes of the undead to attack them both. When Heru flees, Thana has no choice than to pursue him across the sands to the Empire that intends to capture Ghadid inside its iron grip.

A stranger in a strange city, Thana’s only ally is Mo, a healer who may be too noble for her own good. Meanwhile, otherworldly and political dangers lurk around every corner, and even more sinister plans are uncovered which could lead to worldwide devastation. Can Thana rise to the challenge—even if it means facing off against an ancient evil?




About K. A.

Interview with K. A. Doore, author of The Perfect Assassin
K.A. Doore grew up in Florida, but has since lived in lush Washington, arid Arizona, and cherry-infused Michigan. While recovering from climate whiplash, she’s raised chickens, learned entirely too much about property assessment, photographed cacti, and now develops online trainings.




Website  ~  Twitter @KA_Doore

Magic x Mayhem Campaign From Tom Doherty Associates


Magic x Mayhem Campaign From Tom Doherty Associates
GREAT POWER. NO RESPONSIBILITY.

TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES LAUNCHES MAGIC X MAYHEM FANTASY CAMPAIGN FEATURING AWARD-WINNING & DEBUT AUTHORS

New York, NY [March 7, 2019] – Tom Doherty Associates is proudly launching the Magic x Mayhem campaign, on the heels of the 2018 Fearless Women campaign. 2018 was a year for breaking though barriers of gender and sex—but 2019 is the year for breaking all the rules. Gone are the days of simple good-versus-evil narratives; these are complicated times that call for complicated characters. From Game of Thrones to The Haunting of Hill House, pop culture has clearly shifted its attention to the messy, the morally ambiguous, and the weird. In short, fans want magic, and they want mayhem. The Magic x Mayhem campaign features an eclectic mix of daring new speculative fiction by fan favorite authors and new voices from the Tor Books and Tor.com Publishing imprints.


Magic and mayhem don’t just live on the pages of books; they’re doled out in fantasy realms and the real world alike by this impressive array of writers. Featured authors include Seanan McGuire (Middlegame), Cate Glass (An Illusion of Thieves), Sarah Gailey (Magic for Liars), Duncan M. Hamilton (Dragonslayer), Tamsyn Muir (Gideon the Ninth), Brian Naslund (Blood of an Exile), Saad Z. Hossain (The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday), JY Yang (The Ascent to Godhood) and more. This illustrious group of wordslingers includes bestsellers, award-winners, scholars, and influencers. Through this campaign, the authors will have a combined organic reach of 400,000, and they’re truly a rebel force to be reckoned with.

The campaign will include extensive outreach to social media influencers, a robust marketing and advertising campaign with outlets like Den of Geek and The Mary Sue, exclusive content from select participating authors, Magic x Mayhem branded events at BookExpo, BookCon, New York Comic Con and more. Follow the chaos with #magicXmayhem.

Don’t miss these additional titles featured in the
Magic x Mayhem campaign!
Elizabeth Bear’s The Red-Stained Wings
Cherie Priest’s The Toll
Andrew Bannister’s Iron Gods
S. L. Huang’s Null Set
Max Gladstone’s The Empress of Forever

GET TO KNOW THE AUTHORS OF MAGIC X MAYHEM

Seanan McGuire, author of Middlegame
Seanan McGuire is the author of the October Daye urban fantasy series, the InCryptid series, and other works. She also writes darker fiction as Mira Grant. Seanan lives in Seattle with her cats, a vast collection of creepy dolls and horror movies, and sufficient books to qualify her as a fire hazard. She was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo ballot.


Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves
Cate Glass was born and raised in Texas, and now resides in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and three sons.


Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars
Hugo and Campbell finalist Sarah Gailey came onto the scene in 2015 and has since become one of the sharpest, funniest voices in pop culture online. Gailey is a regular contributor for multiple websites, including Tor.com, where their Women of Harry Potter series was named a Hugo Finalist for Best Related Work. Gailey's nonfiction has appeared in Mashable and The Boston Globe, and Gailey's fiction has been published internationally. They recently relocated from Oakland, California, to Portland, Oregon, and frequently visit NYC.


Duncan M. Hamilton, author of Dragonslayer
Duncan M. Hamilton holds Master's Degrees in History and Law and has practiced as a barrister. He lives in Ireland, near the sea. Hamilton’s debut novel, The Tattered Banner, first of the Society of the Sword trilogy, was named one of BuzzFeed’s 12 Greatest Fantasy Books of The Year in 2013. That book was followed by The Huntsman’s Amulet and The Telastrian Song, and by Wolf of the North, a Norse-inspired fantasy trilogy.


Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth
Tamsyn Muir is a horror, fantasy and sci-fi author whose short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Eugie Foster Memorial Award. A Kiwi, she has spent most of her life in Howick, New Zealand, with time living in Waiuku and central Wellington. She currently lives and teaches in Oxford, in the United Kingdom.


Brian Naslund, author of Blood of an Exile
Brian Naslund had a brief stint in the New York publishing world but quickly defected to tech in Denver where he does internet marketing. Blood of an Exile is his first book, written ona coffee-fueled whim during his long bus commute.


Saad Z. Hossain, author of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday
Saad Z. Hossain writes in a niche genre of fantasy, science fiction and black comedy with an action-adventure twist. He is the author of Escape from Baghdad!, and Djinn City, as well as the forthcoming The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday. He lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


JY Yang, author of The Ascent to Godhood
JY Yang is the author of The Black Tides of Heaven, The Red Threads of Fortune, and The Descent of Monsters. They are also a lapsed journalist, a former practicing scientist, and a master of hermitry. A queer, non-binary, postcolonial intersectional feminist, they have over two dozen pieces of short fiction published. They live in Singapore where they work as a science communicator and have an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. Find out more about them and their work at jyyang.com.


Elizabeth Bear, author of The Red-Stained Wings
Elizabeth Bear was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005. She has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction. Bear lives in South Hadley, MA.


Cherie Priest, author of The Toll
Cherie Priest went to college at Southern Adventist University and got an M.A. in Rhetorical Logic at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is one of the most popular and involved authors in the steampunk/urban fantasy community.


Andrew Bannister, author of Iron Gods
Andrew Bannister grew up in Cornwall and studied Geology at Imperial College and went to work in the North Sea before becoming an Environmental Consultant. Andrew is active in voluntary work, focusing on children with special educational needs.


S.L. Huang, author of Null Set
S. L. Huang has a math degree from MIT and is a professional stuntwoman & armorer who has worked in Hollywood on Battlestar Galactica and a number of other productions. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, and The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016.


Max Gladstone, author of The Empress of Forever
Max Gladstone is a fencer, a fiddler, and a two-time finalist for the John W. Campbell Award. He is fluent in Mandarin and has taught English in China. He is the author of the Hugo Award-nominated Craft Sequence of novels, a game developer, and the showrunner for the fiction serial, Bookburners. A graduate of Yale, Max lives and writes in Somerville, Massachusetts.



###

About Tom Doherty Associates
Tom Doherty Associates (TDA)—better known by its imprint of Tor Books, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover, trade softcover and mass market books founded in 1980. Imprints include Tor Books; one of the leading publishers in science fiction, fantasy, and horror since 1980, Forge Books; committed to publishing quality thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction and general fiction, Tor Teen and Starscape; dedicated to publishing quality science fiction, fantasy and contemporary fiction for young readers, Tor.com Publishing; publishes original fiction, art, and commentary on fantasy, science fiction, and related subjects across all media by a wide range of writers from all corners of the field



About Tor Books
Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, was founded in 1980 and committed to quality speculative literature. Between an extensive hardcover, trade softcover and mass market paperback line, a growing middle grade and YA list, and robust backlist program, Tor annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy produced by a single English-language publisher. Books from Tor have won every major award in the SF and fantasy fields, including Best Publisher in the Locus Poll for 31 years in a row.



About Tor.com Publishing
Tor.com publishes original fiction, art, and commentary on fantasy, science fiction, and related subjects across all media by a wide range of writers from all corners of the field—including professionals working in the genres as well as fans. In addition to the short fiction published free online, Tor.com also publishes novellas & the occasional novel. The aim of the site is to provoke, encourage, and enable interesting and rewarding conversations with and among our readers. Tor.com debuted online July 20, 2008 and currently reaches 3 million readers a month.

Interview with Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine


Please welcome Andrew Bannister to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Creation Machine is published on March 5, 2019 by Tor Books.



Interview with Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

Andrew:  Thanks for inviting me in. A beautiful home you have here…

When I was around eight years old I wrote a science fiction short about living underground, probably inspired by a cross between The Wind in the Willows and The Time Machine. Then I read Asimov’s ‘Caves of Steel’ and realized I was Not Alone.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Andrew:  I’m a hybrid – a pantser who has to embrace some plotting to make sure the thing gets written!



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? How does your background in geology and environmental consulting affect (or not) your fiction writing?

Andrew:  My biggest challenge is trusting myself to put my brain into free-wheel and let it do the strange stuff. Look at it this way – if I was only writing the things I expected to write, I would only be writing the things everyone else expected to read. I would rather be unexpected.

Certainly my background has an effect, in that my planets tend to be geologically plausible even if they’re impossible in other ways, and I do often include the environmental effects of ‘human’ activities. Note that ‘humans’ may come in various forms and external finishes.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Andrew:  I love writers who can do much with few words – John Steinbeck, for example, and Tove Jansson – and who can create complex emotions with simple tools. I try to emulate that. In science fiction particularly, I always namecheck Iain M Banks, Ursula K. Le Guin and Lauren Beukes, but there could be many others too. At the moment I would add Lavie Tidhar.



TQDescribe Creation Machine using only 5 words.

Andrew:  War, betrayal, sex, ancient machines… You know how much authors hate writing synopses, right? Five words is just cruel.



TQTell us something about Creation Machine that is not found in the book description.

Andrew:  Okay, I am particularly proud of the part of the Monastery that floats off to one side and inverts itself like an hourglass. I want one of those! And one of the planets is named after an ancient Roman holiday resort on the present island of Cyprus.



TQWhat inspired you to write Creation Machine? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Andrew:  I want amazing worlds. I want stuff that makes me go wow or woah or, occasionally, eugh, and science fiction is a great environment to do that. And through those amazing worlds I hope to animate ordinary, attractive, flawed, strong, weak, vulnerable, unbreakable people like Fleare Haas, who occurred to me when I sketched something about a woman imprisoned in an impossible tower on a dying moon, and who then took over the next ten months of my life without even saying thanks.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Creation Machine?

Andrew:  None. I’m far too lazy. Or almost none; I think I did about one page of really basic calculation to make sure the Spin (the artificial planetary cluster) was roughly the right size. Near enough is good enough, right?



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Creation Machine.

Andrew:  The cover is by Stephen Mulcahey, but he kindly took my suggestions about the concept into account. It does indeed depict something from the novel but as you said no spoilers…



TQIn Creation Machine who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Andrew:  The easiest was Alameche, because I just channeled my inner psychopath. Everyone has one, or is that just me? The hardest was Muz, because he spends much of the book in a form where human expressions don’t work; I had to keep thinking of ways for him to express himself. The same is true of Eskjog to some extent, but Eskjog is a less demonstrative character.



TQDoes Creation Machine touch on any social issues?

Andrew:  I do social issues, yes. I think writers should. I glance across attitudes to gay people, the contrast between dictatorship and democracy and between industrial oligarchies and leftist revolutionaries, the effects of poverty, ecological destruction… but that said, I don’t preach (I hope) - the story is mainly about people, not issues. If a character happens to be gay, for example, that is because the Universe contains gay people and I don’t intend to limit myself by not writing about them.



TQWhich question about Creation Machine do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Andrew:  Which civilization in Creation Machine would you most like to live in? And my guilty answer is that if I were rich and aristocratic I would live in The Fortunate Protectorate, but if I were poor I would prefer Society Otherwise.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Creation Machine.

Andrew:  Okay. One from Alameche, which sort of sums him up I’m afraid:

Eskjog began to move away, and then stopped. ‘What do you call it, in your society, when a man demands sexual congress with his unwilling wife?’

Alameche shrugged. ‘Marriage,’ he said. ‘So what?’

And one from – someone else:

I don’t know how long I’ve been here. It’s one of a very long list of things I don’t know. Sometimes, when I’m not in a simulation, I try to make a list of the things I do know. I never get past the fact that I’m a simulation myself.

I assume I have a body somewhere.



TQWhat's next?

Andrew:  I am writing a novella called According to Kovac, which is to be published as part of a set of four (I believe) next year by Newcon Press in the UK and elsewhere. It is set in the same volume of space as the Spin. I do have another major project planned, but I can’t let that out in public yet as it is very much in the discussion phase.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Andrew:  It’s been my pleasure.





Creation Machine
Spin Trilogy 1
Tor Books, March 5, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine
Creation Machine is a fast-paced, whip-smart science fiction debut from Andrew Bannister introducing the stunning galaxy called the Spin.

In the vast, artificial galaxy called the Spin, a rebellion has been crushed.

Viklun Hass is eliminating all remnants of the opposition. Starting with his daughter.

But Fleare Hass has had time to plan her next move from exile to the very frontiers of a new war.

For hundreds of millions of years, the planets and stars of the Spin have been the only testament to the god-like engineers that created them. Now, beneath the surface of a ruined planet, one of their machines has been found.





About Andrew

Interview with Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine
ANDREW BANNISTER grew up in Cornwall and studied geology at Imperial College and went to work in the North Sea before becoming an environmental consultant. He is active in volunteer work, focusing on children with special educational needs. This is his debut novel.










Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @andrewbauthor

Review: Beyond the Pool of Stars and Through the Gate in the Sea by Howard Andrew Jones


Beyond the Pool of Stars
Author:  Howard Andrew Jones
Series:  Pathfinder Tales29
Publisher:  Tor Books, October 6, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  US$22.99 (print); US$7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780765374530 (print); 9781466842656 (eBook)

Review: Beyond the Pool of Stars and Through the Gate in the Sea by Howard Andrew Jones
Mirian Raas comes from a long line of salvagers, adventurers who use magic to dive for sunken ships off the coast of tropical Sargava. When her father dies, Mirian has to take over his last job: a dangerous expedition into deep jungle pools, helping a tribe of lizardfolk reclaim the lost treasures of their people. Yet this isn't any ordinary job, as the same colonial government that looks down on Mirian for her half-native heritage has an interest in the treasure, and the survival of the entire nation may depend on the outcome...

From critically acclaimed author Howard Andrew Jones comes a fantastical adventure of deep-water danger and unlikely alliances in Pathfinder Tales: Beyond the Pool of Stars, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Role playing Game.



Through the Gate in the Sea
Author:  Howard Andrew Jones
Series:  Pathfinder Tales 37
Publisher:  Tor Books, February 21, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  US$14.99 (print); US$9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780765384386 (print);  9780765384393 (eBook)

Review: Beyond the Pool of Stars and Through the Gate in the Sea by Howard Andrew Jones
Deepwater salvager Mirian Raas and her bold crew may have bought their nation’s freedom with a hoard of lost lizardfolk treasure, but their troubles are only just beginning in this sequel to Beyond the Pool of Stars.
 
When Mirian’s new lizardfolk companions, long believed to be the last of their tribe, discover hints that their people may yet survive on a magical island, the crew of the Daughter of the Mist is only too happy to help them venture into uncharted waters. Yet the perilous sea isn’t the only danger, as the devil-worshiping empire of Cheliax hasn’t forgotten its defeat at Mirian’s hands, and far in the east, an ancient, undead child-king has set his sights on the magical artifact that’s kept the lost lizardfolk city safe all these centuries.

Pathfinder is the world's bestselling tabletop role-playing game—now adapted as a series of novels.




Branningan's Thoughts

Howard Andrew Jones is an inventive and talented author that has created sea and land-based fantasy adventures. Beyond the Pool of Stars and Through the Gate in the Sea are two stand-alone novels that share the same cast of characters. If you’d like to read them in order start with the Beyond the Pool of Stars, but truly you can read either book in any order.

Mirian Raas is the protagonist for both books. Mirian grew up in a family of underwater ship scavengers. With her inherited magical items that give her some awesome powers, she leads a life of adventure fighting off pirates and monsters with her crew on the ship Daughter of the Mist.

In Beyond the Pool of Stars, Mirian’s father dies, leaving her to finish his last job reclaiming a treasure that has the potential to leave two group of civilizations at war. This one kept me on my toes through the entire read. It’s full of adventure and exotic locations. I have to say that I’ve never read a book with underwater treasure hunting before and I really enjoyed experiencing something new. It’s rare these day to be surprised by stories.

Jones continues to expand on the adventures stories in Through the Gate in the Sea. This time, Mirian Raas picks up a new Lizardfolk crew member and helps him seek out the long lost homeland that has captured the attention of an undead ruler.

The best thing about Jones’s style is that it reminds me of a modern-day pulp writer, which for me is the highest of compliments. I love the quick pace of the story, the nonstop action, and imaginative cast of characters and storyline. I never got bored and I was left wanting just a few more chapters. I’d recommend either book to any fantasy reader. There is nothing in the content of either story that would keep me from recommending it to Teens to Adults.


On a Completely Separate Side Note: This will be my last review of new to current books. I’ve loved the last six years of reviewing books for The Qwillery, but now that my children are getting older, my free time is dwindling. I will, however, be submitting RetroReviews from time to time, so I hope you’ll keep your eyes out for those. Thank you for your support and keep reading.

Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed


Please welcome Drew Williams to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Stars Now Unclaimed is published on August 21st by Tor Books.

Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Drew a very Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Drew:  Hmmm. The key to that question really is 'remember', isn't it? I've been writing fiction since well before I could clearly tell you what I was writing: I remember making up stories as a little kid - usually with my cousins or my brother, sometimes alone - and thinking we'd written the next great American novel (usually involving cyborgs or zombies, and topping out at all of five pages). I finished my first full-length novel at twelve or so, so we'll go ahead and count that as the first real 'piece', I suppose. (Don't get me wrong, it was terrible: a mishmash of stolen ideas and, just, horrid writing, but you didn't ask 'what was the first good piece of fiction you remember!').



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Drew:  Oh, absolutely a pantser, no question. (Though I have to admit, that phrasing makes me feel like a British boarding school villain : 'watch out for Geordie Wilkins; he's a pantser, he is!’) I sometimes get scattered lines of dialog, impressions of an upcoming character, or brief images of scenes yet to come - and I'll dutifully jot them down, and sometimes use them, and sometimes forget them entirely once I've gone haring off in another direction - but ninety-seven percent of my writing is done in chronological order, start to finish, with nothing but the preceding sentence to go off of. My absolute favorite thing about writing (and make no mistake - my first audience is always myself; I write for me, I just happen to be lucky enough to get paid to do so!) is to be surprised by something - a line of dialog I wouldn’t have thought a character would have said, a realization that comes to me at the same time it comes to the characters, even just a grace note in a description - and that’s much harder to achieve if I already know what’s going to happen!



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Drew:  Endings. Definitely endings. Part of that’s building off of the last question - once I’m past the climax and into the denouement, I pretty much know how things need to wrap up, and that’s just… not as interesting for me to write - but I also mean it much more literally, as in I find it insanely difficult to find the last sentence, or even scene: that place where a story should end, to look back and yet forward into everything all at once. (Honestly, I think part of the reason I write books in series is so that I can put off that final moment, where it’s all done, for as long as possible!)



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Drew:  Outside of treacly-but-necessary responses like ‘my friends and family’ - in terms of style, it’s hard to get past Stephen King, honestly. The man can sketch a character in just a few lines, and yet you know them inside out; he can also nail a character’s interior voice in a way that very few can match.



TQYou are a bookseller. What is it like for you to see your own novel on bookstore shelves?

Drew:  Insanely surreal - I say that, and I’ve (redacted by Drew’s assistant, because he’s an idiot who probably shouldn’t be allowed to do any more interviews)! I mentioned Stephen King above - we’re a small bookstore, which means we’ve only got one section for speculative fiction, with sci-fi and horror and fantasy all mixed in together, which means MY book is in the same section as Stephen King! My book! Same section! I honestly still don’t quite believe it!



TQDescribe The Stars Now Unclaimed using only 5 words.

Drew:  ‘Grief Can Be Used Bravely’. If you want something a little more descriptive and less thematic: ‘Space Opera, Quips, More Quips’.



TQTell us something about The Stars Now Unclaimed that is not found in the book description.

Drew:  The entire last two acts are climax! Seriously, it’s all one big, chaotic, sound-barrier-breaking rush, because I have no impulse control, and nobody told me not to!



TQWhat inspired you to write The Stars Now Unclaimed? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular a Space Opera?

Drew:  Those questions are linked, actually (well done!). Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy is fun for me partially because I’m not beholden to history or social mores or little things like ‘physics’ or ‘reality’ if I don’t want to be. I can sort of pick and choose what I want to carry over, and what I want to leave behind. Plus, my writing process - on the creative side, in terms of ‘where do I begin, what is this story’, rather than the procedural ‘the actual writing’ side - usually starts with world-building: ‘how is this world different from our own?’ Which, of course, inherently means I’m not going to be writing contemporary fiction.

So with that question in mind: I started Stars because I wanted to write a sort of post-apocalyptic space opera, to mash up those two genres, mainly to give myself as broad a canvas as possible - it meant I could have dogfights in space in one scene, and desperate one-on-one scrabbles in blasted-out cityscapes the next. So I asked the question ‘how could that sort of universe come about’, came up with a very specific type of apocalypse, which led me back to the creation of the nuclear bomb (where my thoughts always tend when the apocalypse comes up) and the idea that men did this thing: men set it loose. Whether they meant to or not. And then I had myself a narrative.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Stars Now Unclaimed?

Drew:  Very little! That’s part of the fun of writing science fiction! You look up very specific things online when you need it - physics or biology or astronomy - and the rest of it, you can just make up, because it’s your universe, and you don’t have to be beholden to the same rules as this one!



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Stars Now Unclaimed.

Drew:  I was privileged enough to work very closely with my editor, Devi Pillai, and Tor’s in-house art director, Peter Lutjen, who did the cover (or at least, they were kind enough to at least entertain my constant stream of suggestions: ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’). We wanted to get across that very bifurcated idea of this universe, that it was this divided place where you could have spaceships and high technology one moment, and then abandoned, pre-industrial societies on the very next page, and I think Peter nailed it! (Devi was the one who was insistent on the big, floating type, though. Which is fair: the big, floating type is awesome!)



TQIn The Stars Now Unclaimed who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Drew:  Jane (the protagonist), just because we’re in her mind, seeing things from her view - if I hadn’t been able to find her voice, and quickly, there wouldn’t have been a novel. She snapped into place pretty much from the first page, thankfully; was just there, waiting for me, tapping her foot impatiently like I was overdue (and Jane’s not someone you want pissed at you - even a little!). The hardest was probably the Preacher, just because - again, coming at that character from Jane’s perspective, she’s the hardest for Jane to read, which made her harder for me to pin down, and also because, as an advanced machine intelligence, her way of thinking needed to feel a little alien to the reader.



TQDoes The Stars Now Unclaimed touch on any social issues?

Drew:  I would say ‘themes’ rather than specific issues: since I was writing sci-fi, I allowed myself to be a little utopian (even in a sometimes post-apocalyptic setting) with the notion that certain ugly current social impulses like racism, misogyny, and homophobia were mostly-forgotten relics of the distant past. Thematically, though, I was say the thrust of not just Stars but the entire Universe After series is the idea that we cannot pass our own sins on to our children - which is exactly how we need to wipe out those ugly impulses I just mentioned. So long as each generation is just a little better than the next, we will get there eventually.



TQWhich question about The Stars Now Unclaimed do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Drew:  Honestly, this is only like my third interview, so I haven’t had time to get used to the idea that there are questions I’ve already heard too much! I’d say my thinking is more ‘I’m horrified someone’s going to ask me a question I absolutely cannot answer’ - sort of like this one! Hooray, milestone!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Stars Now Unclaimed.

Drew:

‘It hovered above the burning town, almost drawn even against the bulk of the orbital gun, as if it were a mirror image of the flaming settlement below—broken towers and shattered structures on both craft and township, fires flickering in the interior of buildings and bulkheads both, the dreadnaught still shedding metal like a snake molting its skin.’ (I just like the description here, and I’m usually not wild about my own descriptive writing.)


“Well I don’t know, but it’s the thought that counts! They’re art students, you know how hard it is to find a virgin in an art school?” (That one just makes me crack up; apologies to my friends - and your various readers - who are art students... but I bet very few of them are virgins.)


“But you could have been.” (I realize that one means literally nothing without context, but you did ask me for my favorite lines, and that one absolutely slays me, every time I re-read Stars on an editing pass - it’s a knife to the heart, another one of those lines that surprised me, came out of nowhere.)



TQWhat's next?

Drew:  The rest of the series, of course! I don’t think I’m allowed to give out pertinent information yet, not even titles (though I’ve got them in my back pocket!), so I’ll just say this: exploring the relationship between Jane and Esa - in ways that I think, or at least I hope, will surprise the reader - is definitely the focus of the next novel.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The Stars Now Unclaimed
The Universe After 1
Tor Books, August 21, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed
Drew Williams's The Stars Now Unclaimed is a fun, adventure-filled space opera set in a far-future galaxy.

Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages.

Hot on her trail is the Pax--a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.

Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.

And that's just the beginning . . .





About Drew

Interview with Drew Williams, author of The Stars Now Unclaimed
Photo by Daniel Barnacastle
Drew Williams has been a bookseller in Birmingham, Alabama since he was sixteen years old, when he got the job because he came in looking for work on a day when someone else had just quit. Outside of arguing with his coworkers about whether Moby Dick is brilliant (nope) or terrible (that one), his favorite part of the job is discovering new authors and sharing them with his customers.Drew is the author of The Universe After series, including The Stars Now Unclaimed.





Twitter @DrewWilliamsIRL



Review: Gears of Faith by Gabrielle Harbowy


Gears of Faith
Author:  Gabrielle Harbowy
Series:  Pathfinder Tales 38
Publisher:  Tor Books, April 4, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback, 288 pages, and eBook, 350 pages
List Price:  US$14.99 (print); US$9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  ISBN 9780765384409 (print); 9780765384416 (eBook)

Review: Gears of Faith by Gabrielle Harbowy
Pathfinder is the world's bestselling tabletop role-playing game—now adapted as a series of novels.

Keren is a sworn knight of Iomedae, proper and disciplined in every way. Her girlfriend, Zae, is the opposite—a curious gnome cleric of the clockwork god, who loves nothing more than the chaos of her makeshift hospitals. When a powerful evil artifact is stolen from a crusader stronghold, both knight and gnome are secretly sent to the great city of Absalom to track down the stolen bloodstone.

Sure, they may not be the most powerful or experienced members of their organizations, but that’s the whole point—with legendary champions and undead graveknights battling at every turn in their race to recover the stone, who’ll notice one young knight and her gnome? All they have to do is stay alive long enough to outsmart a thief capable of evading both gods and heroes.



Brannigan's Review

Gabrielle Harbowy’s Gears of Faith, while enjoyable, often fails to fulfill its promises. We follow two main characters, Keren Rhinn, a human, and Zae, a gnome, who are lovers and who both have a strong religious faith. Keren, as a Holy Knight, is more comfortable using her sword to accomplish her god’s missions, while Zae, a tinkerer, uses her faith in healing and creating. Together they are given a mission to find a thief of a holy relic while also seeking further training.

The hidden antagonist is the thief who stole a part of a dead god and we’re left to wonder who the thief is and what he or she wants to accomplish with the relic. We follow Keren and Zae as they travel to a new city to both seek new training in their respective religions. Keren learns how to call on her god to help her cast magic, and Zae receives formal inventor training. While in the city we meet many different characters that could be the thief.

Harbowy’s writing has a very natural flow to it, which makes it easy to lose time reading. She writes characters you easily embrace and enjoy, and is very descriptive in her writing. My main problem with the book is that Harbowy starts it off by saying the characters are going to be going to school and apprehending a thief. While Harbowy technically does show us the characters going to school and looking for the thief, we never really dive into either plot points very deeply. I felt like we spent the book in a wading pool. I never felt like I got a satisfactory immersion with either character. Because of this, the climax of the plot felt rushed and unsatisfying.

Harbowy's Gears of Faith, while being a wonderful fantasy story, in the end falls flat on its promise of showing the characters growing while going to school and seeking the thief. There isn't an issue with language. Minor acts of violence and sexual situations make it appropriate for older teens and adults. If you would like a light fantasy read, pick up your own copy today.

Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies


Please welcome Sam Hawke to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. City of Lies was published on July 3rd by Tor Books.



Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece you remember writing?

Sam:  There is a photograph of me (aged 4ish) in my parents' photo album, with a picture I painted and the accompanying story written down by my preschool teacher. My face is dark with rage because she transcribed the story incorrectly ("Then I had an idea, and it worked!" is written as "Then I had an indeed, and it worked!"). I must have known then that I couldn't trust anyone else to relay my apparent genius and I would have to do it myself. Hehe.

By age 6 I had graduated to stapling piles of paper together and writing chapter titles and the first sentence of each on each page, because by then I had figured out there was such thing as a novelist, and I wanted to be one (my follow-through was a bit poor though).



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sam:  I work very well to a plot if I have one, but they take me a lot of time and pain and so sometimes I have to plough ahead without one. City of Lies was very well plotted in advance. The sequel I'm figuring out as I go along, madly trying to stay one step ahead of myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sam:  First drafting, getting the words on screen in the first place, will always be my hurdle. I love revising but I find it very hard to just switch off the critical part of my brain and embrace the creative so first drafting is a laborious process. I live in desperate admiration of writers who can just spew out first drafts and then go back and fix them.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sam:  Really good writing, and occasionally really bad writing - the former because I want to share stories that make me feel things the way good writers do, the latter because I think I can do better! (I'm sure one day I'm going to be someone else's example of a bad writer that they find inspiring, and that's OK. Gotta stay useful.)



TQDescribe City of Lies using only 5 words.

Sam:  Poison, treachery, city under siege.



TQTell us something about City of Lies that is not found in the book description.

Sam:  Oooh, tricky. Well, it's not on the back cover but the main large-scale conflict in City of Lies is about cultural divides, and the consequences when cultures forget their roots. Some long past decisions come back to bite everyone in the arse, basically.



TQWhat inspired you to write City of Lies? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Sam:  I love writing fantasy. I can't really imagine writing anything else. There's just something transportive about working outside our own reality. Basically I like having the freedom to work outside what we think we know about the world in order to explore what we do know about it. Also, I prefer making stuff up to researching, so secondary worlds are a natural fit for my lazy self.

City of Lies was kind of my love letter to the two kinds of books I like reading the best - secondary world fantasy, and closed room mysteries. I wanted to write something that gave me the kind of ratcheting tension of a good mystery/crime novel, but which was also in my preferred setting.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for City of Lies?

Sam:  Not a lot, honestly, other than a fair bit of reading about poisons and supertasting. I'll steal this expression from my friend Rob and say I like to 'research like a ninja', which is to say that I'm not the type of person who spends a lot of time doing background research and detailed worldbuilding before I start writing, but rather just look things up as I go. My favourite system is to stick stuff in square brackets that says something like '[check if you call the railing on a ship a railing or if it has some special name]' or '[check if this is physically possible??] which I leave for Future Sam to handle.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for City of Lies.

Sam:  The Tor cover is a beautiful hand drawn picture by Greg Ruth of a hand holding a knife, and a city reflected in the blade. It is stunning and I love it so much I bought the original graphite art off Greg for my wall. It's not depicting something specific about the book so much as a flavour - I think looking at it you get a sense of danger and mystery and treachery, and a glimpse at what the city looks like.



TQIn City of Lies who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sam:  I found the main characters - the two POV characters and the two main secondary characters - the easiest to write because I knew them so well, I knew what they wanted and what they were afraid of, and how they would react to a situation (Well, when I say easiest, this is a relative term, heh).

The tertiary characters were probably the hardest because I needed to give them all distinct voices, personalities and motivations, but I had so little page space to do it in.



TQDoes City of Lies touch on any social issues?

Sam:  I mean, all books have social issues, don't they, as long as they're about people? But yeah, City of Lies touches on classism, the concentration of wealth in cities, how dominant cultures interact with non-dominant cultures, xenophobia, and the ways that societies under external pressures can turn on themselves.

It's not an issue in the book, just a fact of how the society is structured, but gender politics are a completely different beast in this world. There's no strict assumptions about what roles and professions are available to either gender and no concept of marriage (families are defined by blood relationships, not romantic ones). I suspect some readers may regard the basic premise of women being allowed and expected to contribute to their families in the same way as men as a social issue even though it's simply a background fact of the worldbuilding.



TQWhich question about City of Lies do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sam:

Q: How can I order 1000 copies of your fine publication for all my friends and family?
A: Why, thank you for asking, it's available at all good bookstores, or anywhere online that sells good books!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from City of Lies.

Sam:  Most of my favourite bits are spoilery but this one's from the first chapter. A bit of a shameless self-insert but I've seen a number of people quoting it so I'll assume it resonates with anyone who's ever been on the way home after a long trip and had something delay them further when they just want a cuppa:

I dodged a stray blow in my direction and, as the man launched himself heavily at Tain again, his drunken focus on this new target of his rage, I chopped into his stomach as hard as I could with the side of my hand. "I just want a cup of tea," I told him bitterly.



TQWhat's next?

Sam:  Busy finishing off the sequel, Hollow Empire, and then no doubt I'll be very focussed on editing that for the next while. Then it's largely up to my publisher - if they would like more books in this world, I'll launch into a third one. If not,



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sam:  Thanks so much for having me!





City of Lies
The Poison Wars 1
Tor Books, July 3, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 560 pages

Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies
Poison. Treachery. Ancient spirits. Sieges. The Poison Wars begin now, with City of Lies, a fabulous epic fantasy debut by Sam Hawke

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he's a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.





About Sam

Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies
Sam Hawke has wanted to write books since realising as a child that they didn’t just breed between themselves in libraries. Having contemplated careers as varied as engineer, tax accountant and zookeeper Sam eventually settled on the law. After marrying her jujitsu training partner and travelling to as many countries as possible, Sam now resides in Canberra, Australia raising two small ninjas and two idiot dogs. City of Lies is her debut novel.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @samhawkewrites  ~  Instagram
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