The Qwillery | category: Tyler Whitesides


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Tyler Whitesides, author of The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

Please welcome Tyler Whitesides to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn was published on May 15th by Orbit.

Interview with Tyler Whitesides, author of The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

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

Tyler:  I recently found a story I wrote when I was about seven years old. It was about a monster who went looking for dinner, but he couldn't find any so he went home only to find out that his monster mother had made dinner for him.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Tyler:  I would consider myself a hybrid, but leaning quite heavily toward being a plotter. I've found that if I don't plot enough, the story will ramble on with no end in sight. I'd say I plot about 70% and leave about 30% up to discovery as I write. Often, that unplanned 30% takes me by surprise and ends up being some of my favorite parts.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tyler:  For me, I'd say the most challenging thing is dealing with expectations. Not just readers' expectations, but my own. Every time I sit down to write I feel a tremendous pressure to make this paragraph better than the last one I wrote. Make this chapter better than the one before, the next book better than the first one. I've got so many ideas swimming around in my head, I want to make sure I execute them the very best that I can. With that comes a lot of self-imposed pressure that can be crippling if left unchecked.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Tyler:  Books! I've loved fantasy since I was little and the things I read definitely influence my writing. As a young reader, I loved the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, and The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. As a teenager, I devoured the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. Lately, I've been loving the works of Brandon Sanderson.

In addition to reading, I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors, hiking and exploring the mountains of northern Utah with my friends and family. The grandeur of nature and the mountains always inspired me - when a fog settled in and covered the peaks it was easy to imagine a company of travelers and their wizard guide coming down the slopes.

TQYou are the author of 2 best-selling children's series - Janitors and The Wishmakers. How different for you (or not) is writing for adults?

Tyler:  That's a great question. There are definitely similarities. The more I learn about writing, the more I realize that everything is about characters. Whether writing a children's book or an adult fantasy, the focus should be on crafting interesting characters whose actions are well motivated. In writing The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn, I tried to keep what I loved about writing for children - fast pacing, humor, and plenty of dialogue. But this book also allowed me to do things I'd never done in writing - explore heavier themes, develop more complex magic systems, and take a little more time inside the characters' thoughts. I loved both experiences, and hope to continue writing in both genres.

TQDescribe The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn in 140 characters or less.

Tyler:  Ardor Benn is a master of intricate plans, but he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Hired by a priest to steal the king's crown, Ardor assembles his team and begins an infiltration into high society. But he soon discovers that there is more at stake than getting paid.

TQTell us something about The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn that is not found in the book description.

Tyler:  The magic system is derived from harvesting a biproduct from the dragons and processing it down into powder. This "Grit" can then be ignited to create detonation clouds with varying effects. There are fifteen types, ranging from Grit that creates clouds of Light, or Heat, or even clouds of weightlessness.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Tyler:  There's something appealing about tackling a long story. I love reading them because they last. I like to live in the world and think about the characters and their situations. There is so much imagination in fantasy, allowing the reader to extrapolate what they want to learn from the story, whether that was really the author's intention or not.

I've always wanted to write an epic fantasy. The idea for The Thousands Deaths of Ardor Benn started with the magic system, an idea I had been kicking around in my brain for more than fifteen years. I was between projects for my children's series, and decided I would begin my first fantasy epic. I thought I'd pick away at it whenever I had some down time, and eventually finish in a few years. To my surprise, the characters really took hold of me and I was able to write the entire first draft in about six months.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn?

Tyler:  I spent some time researching geography, elevation, climate, and vegetation. The book takes place on a series of large islands that are rather unique, with a high cliff shoreline (think fjords, or the cliffs of Dover all the way around each island). I also did some research into flintlock guns, although the firearms in the story (while similar to flintlock) are powered by in-world magic. High society in the world centers around symphony concerts. I have a BA in music, so it was fun to remember some of the composition and musical form/analysis terminology.

At the end of the day, I was writing a fantasy book, so I obviously deviated from some of the facts in order to make all the pieces work within the world I was creating. After all, I was worldbuilding, not going for historical accuracy.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn.

Tyler:  Tommy Arnold did a great job with the artwork for the cover (and Lauren Panepinto on design). The character depicted is indeed Ardor Benn, the cunning master of heists, crouched atop the skull of a dragon. Although you can't see it in the artwork, the kingdom's throne is actually mounted atop that skull. I love the way Ardor is poised, ready to spring into action with an expression on his face that seems to say, "I got this."

TQIn The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Tyler:  Writing the chapters from Ardor Benn's point of view was really fun and flowed quite naturally for me. I was able to put a lot of humor into the character, and Ardor is constantly engaging in witty banter. He likes to pretend that nothing bothers him, when in fact he tends to care deeply about what he's doing. Too deeply, sometimes. Ardor moves the story along at a swift pace.

The most difficult character to write was Isle Halavend. He's the priest who hires Ardor to steal the crown. His chapters explore religion, truth, and history of the world, so I had to be very careful to stay consistent and check my own facts. Halavend harbors his true motives, but his chapters unveil a lot of earth-shattering epiphanies for everyone. Needless to say, it was a challenge to keep it all straight and get it right.

TQWhich question about The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Tyler:  Which type of Grit is your favorite, and what does it do? Visitant Grit is by far the most powerful type. It is controlled by the Wayfarist religion, and will only work for those that are worthy to detonate it. The effect is a cloud in which a holy paladin can appear, powerful enough to decimate life with his very presence.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn.


"This was madness and genius, mixed and detonated on the spot."
"It's our new hideout."
"The Bakery on Humont Street?" she read.
"A dangerous place, to be sure," added Ard. "Enough secret meetings there and none of us will be squeezing through a culvert grate."

TQWhat's next?

TylerThe Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is the first book in the Kingdom of Grit trilogy. The second book should be coming out in 2019. In the meantime, I have another children's book coming out this fall, which is the sequel to the Wishmakers. I love writing and I feel so fortunate to be doing this. Thanks to everyone willing to take a chance and pick up one of my books. I hope you enjoy!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tyler:  Thank you for having me!

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn
Kingdom of Grit 1
Orbit, May 15, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 784 pages
(Adult Debut)

Interview with Tyler Whitesides, author of The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn
The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is the first in an action-packed epic fantasy series featuring master con artist Ardor Benn.

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory – Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.

About Tyler

Interview with Tyler Whitesides, author of The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn
Photo by Jamie Younker
Tyler is the author of bestselling children’s series, Janitors, and The Wishmakers. The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is his adult debut. When he’s not writing, Tyler enjoys playing percussion, hiking, fly fishing, cooking, and theater. He lives in the mountains of northern Utah with his wife and son.

Website  ~  Twitter @twhitesides

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2018 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on June 8, 2018.

Vote for your favorite May 2018 Debut Cover! free polls

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts
Jacket design by Rachel Willey

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts
Cover art by JungShan

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts
Cover art by Tommy Arnold
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Debuts
Jacket design by Sarah Brody
Jacket illustration © MagdalenaWasiczek / Trevillion Images

The View From Monday - May 14, 2018

Happy Monday! Our last SPFBO review will post this week, which will wrap up the latest SPFBO for us. It's always a learning experience. Many thanks to Mark Lawrence for founding and hosting SPFBO.

Look for the start of May's Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars tomorrow and vote in the poll.

There is one debut this week:

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn (Kingdom of Grit 1) by Tyler Whitesides.

The View From Monday - May 14, 2018
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

By Fire Above (Signal Airship 2) by Robyn Bennis;

Warlock Holmes - My Grave Ritual (Warlock Holmes 3) by G.S. Denning;

Armistice (Amberlough Dossier 2) by Lara Elena Donnelly;

Mirror Bound by Rhiannon Held is out in eBook;

Wrath of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder 2) by Brian McClellan;

The Crossing by Jason Mott;


The Forbidden City by Deborah A. Wolf.

The View From Monday - May 14, 2018The View From Monday - May 14, 2018
The View From Monday - May 14, 2018The View From Monday - May 14, 2018
The View From Monday - May 14, 2018The View From Monday - May 14, 2018
The View From Monday - May 14, 2018
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

The View From Monday - May 14, 2018

Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

May 13, 2018
How To Marry A Werewolf (e) Gail Carriger SP - Claw & Courtship Novella 1

May 14, 2018
Ghost Moon (e) Heather Graham Sus/GH/Sup - Bone Island Trilogy 3
Grayghost Tamara Grantham FR/FairyT/FolkT/LM/P - Fairy World MD 7
Lords of the Underworld Collection Volume 3: The Darkest Secret\The Darkest Surrender\The Darkest Seduction (e) Gena Showalter PNR - Lords of the Underworld Series 7
The Healer Series Complete Collection: Touch of Power\Scent of Magic\Taste of Darkness (e) Maria V. Snyder F - Healer
Tide of Stone (e) Kaaron Warren PsyTh

May 15, 2018
The Soldier Neal Asher SF/SO/AC - Rise of the Jain 1
By Fire Above Robyn Bennis SP - Signal Airship 2
Buying Time E.M. Brown SF
Ascendant Jack Campbell SF - The Genesis Fleet 2
Warlock Holmes - My Grave Ritual G.S. Denning UF/Cr - Warlock Holmes 3
Armistice Lara Elena Donnelly HistF/Th -  Amberlough Dossier 2
The Queen of Sorrow Sarah Beth Durst F - Queens of Renthia 3
Harvest Song (e) Yasmine Galenorn PNR - Otherworld 20
Ghost Radio (ri) Leopoldo Gout SupTh
Mirror Bound (e) Rhiannon Held UF
Toroa (Ke) Erik Hofstatter H
The Plastic Magician Charlie N. Holmberg FR - A Paper Magician Novel 4
Meltdown GP James SF/PA
In Our Own Worlds: Four LGBTQ+ Novellas (e) Margaret Killjoy
Ellen Klages
Kai Ashante Wilson
JY Yang
Salamanders: The Omnibus Nick Kyme SF - Salamanders
The Big Alpha in Town Eve Langlais
Milly Taiden
Kate Baxter
PNR - Anthology
Bearing His Sins (e) Eve Langlais PNR
In the Region of the Summer Stars Stephen R. Lawhead F/HistF - Eirlandia 1
Wrath of Empire Brian McClellan F - Gods of Blood and Powder 2
The Crossing Jason Mott LF/Dys
The Bedlam Stacks (h2tp) Natasha Pulley HistF
The Immortal Renshai Mickey Zucker Reichert FairyT/FolkT/LM/DF/F - Renshai Saga 3
Hell Divers III: Deliverance Nicholas Sansbury Smith SF/AP/PA - Hell Divers 3
Taste of Darkness (e)(ri) Maria V. Snyder FR - The Healer 3
Ghost Warrior Gav Thorpe SF - Rise of the Ynnari 1
Overlords of the Iron Dragon C L Werner F - Kharadron Overlords 1
The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn (D) Tyler Whitesides F - Kingdom of Grit 1
The Forbidden City Deborah A. Wolf F

May 16, 2018
Grace's Family: A Original (e) James Patrick Kelly SF
Trade Deal (e) Malka Older F - Born to the Blade Season 1, Episode 5
The Best Science Fiction Stories of H. G. Wells H. G. Wells SF

May 17, 2018
Extinct RR Haywood SF/TT/Dys - Extracted Trilogy 3

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

AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternate History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CulH - Cultural Heritage
CW - Contemporary Woman
CyP - Cyberpunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
Fict - Fiction
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
GN - Graphic Novel
Gothic - Gothic
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HU - Humor
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PopCul - Popular Culture
Psy - Psychological
Psy Th - Psychological Thriller
SF - Science Fiction
SciFan - Science Fantasy
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy
VisM - Visionary and Metaphysical

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts

There are 12 debut novels for May.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The April debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite April cover for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on May 15, 2018.

If you are participating as a reader in the Challenge, please let us know in the comments what you are thinking of reading or email us at "DAC . TheQwillery @ gmail . com" (remove the spaces and quotation marks). Please note that we list all debuts for the month (of which we are aware), but not all of these authors will be 2018 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for May 2018. The list is correct as of the day posted.

Melissa Broder

The Pisces
Hogarth, May 1, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
“Bold, virtuosic, addictive, erotic – there is nothing like The Pisces. I have no idea how Broder does it, but I loved every dark and sublime page of it.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter 

Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection.

Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

Julia Fine

What Should Be Wild
Harper, May 8, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
“Delightful and darkly magical. Julia Fine has written a beautiful modern myth, a coming-of-age story for a girl with a worrisome power over life and death. I loved it.”  —Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry

In this darkly funny, striking debut, a highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia—an utterly original novel with all the mesmerizing power of The Tiger’s Wife, The Snow Child, and Swamplandia!

Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.

But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.

Kate Heartfield

Armed in Her Fashion
ChiZine Publications, May 22, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
In 1328, Bruges is under siege by the Chatelaine of Hell and her army of chimeras―humans mixed with animals or armour, forged in the deep fires of the Hellbeast. At night, revenants crawl over the walls and bring plague and grief to this city of widows.

Margriet de Vos learns she’s a widow herself when her good-for-nothing husband comes home dead from the war. He didn’t come back for her. The revenant who was her husband pulls a secret treasure of coins and weapons from under his floorboards and goes back through the mouth of the beast called Hell.

Margriet killed her first soldier when she was 11. She’s buried six of her seven children. She’ll do anything for her daughter, even if it means raiding Hell itself to get her inheritance back.

Margriet’s daughter is haunted by a dead husband of her own, and blessed, or cursed, with an enchanted distaff that allows her to control the revenants and see the future. Together with a transgender man-at-arms who has unfinished business with the Chatelaine, a traumatized widow with a giant waterpowered forgehammer at her disposal, and a wealthy alderman’s wife who escapes Bruges with her children, Margriet and Beatrix forge a raiding party like Hell has never seen.

R. F. Kuang

The Poppy War
Harper Voyager, May 1, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 544 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
“I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year [...] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang’s] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin.” -- Booknest

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

Harriet Alida Lye

The Honey Farm
Liveright, May 29, 2018
Hardcover snd eBook, 336 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Lily King meets Patricia Highsmith in this slyly seductive debut set on an eerily beautiful farm teeming with secrets.

The drought has discontented the bees. Soil dries into sand; honeycomb stiffens into wax. But Cynthia knows how to breathe life back into her farm: offer it as an artists’ colony with free room, board, and “life experience” in exchange for backbreaking labor. Silvia, a wide-eyed graduate and would-be poet, and Ibrahim, a painter distracted by constant inspiration, are drawn to Cynthia’s offer, and soon, to each other.

But something lies beneath the surface. The Edenic farm is plagued by events that strike Silvia as ominous: taps run red, scalps itch with lice, frogs swarm the pond. One by one, the other residents leave. As summer tenses into autumn, Cynthia’s shadowed past is revealed and Silvia becomes increasingly paralyzed by doubt. Building to a shocking conclusion, The Honey Farm announces the arrival of a bold new voice and offers a thrilling portrait of creation and possession in the natural world.

Bethany C. Morrow

The Unnamed Press, May 22, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 192 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
MEM is a rare novel, a small book carrying very big ideas, the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete.

The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source — zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault.

What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heart-breaking novel in the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Debut novelist Bethany Morrow has created an allegory for our own time, exploring profound questions of ownership, and how they relate to identity, memory and history, all in the shadows of Montreal’s now forgotten slave trade.

Jen Neale

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
ECW Press, May 8, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pates

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
A startling, moving magic realist debut

Almost immediately upon Julie Bird’s return to the small port town where she was raised, everyday life is turned upside down. Julie’s Gulf War vet father, Marty, has been on the losing side of a battle with PTSD for too long. A day of boating takes a dramatic turn when a majestic blue whale beaches itself and dies. A blond stranger sets up camp oceanside: she’s an agitator, musician-impersonator, and armchair philosopher named Jennie Lee Lewis — and Julie discovers she’s connected to her father’s mysterious trip to New Mexico 25 years earlier. As the blue whale decays on the beach, more wildlife turns up dead — apparently by suicide — echoing Marty’s deepest desire. But Julie isn’t ready for a world without her father.

A stunning exploration of love and grief, Land Mammals and Sea Creatures is magic realism on the seaside, a novel about living life to the fullest and coming to your own terms with its end.

Billy O'Callaghan

The Dead House
Arcade Publishing, May 1, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 244 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Sometimes the past endures—and sometimes it never lets go.

This best-selling debut by an award-winning writer is both an eerie contemporary ghost story and a dread-inducing psychological thriller. Maggie is a successful young artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to get out of London to heal mentally and find a place of quiet that will restore her creative spirit. On the rugged west coast of Ireland, perched on a wild cliff side, she spies the shell of a cottage that dates back to Great Famine and decides to buy it. When work on the house is done, she invites her dealer to come for the weekend to celebrate along with a couple of women friends, one of whom will become his wife. On the boozy last night, the other friend pulls out an Ouija board. What sinister thing they summon, once invited, will never go. 

Ireland is a country haunted by its past. In Billy O'Callaghan's hands, its terrible beauty becomes a force of inescapable horror that reaches far back in time, before the Famine, before Christianity, to a pagan place where nature and superstition are bound in an endless knot.

Charlton Pettus

Exit Strategy
Hanover Square Press, May 1, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Sometimes you just need to escape. For crooked politicians, military brass from third-world nations, and white-collar criminals looking to avoid either prison or a deadlier form of payback, there’s Exit Strategy. With just one call, Exit Strategy helps these wealthy-but-wanted types disappear completely. They can fake your death, give you a new name and face, and launder whatever ill-gotten funds you need to establish a new life on the other side of the world.

When Jordan Parrish, the brilliant founder of a medical technology start-up, made the call, he thought he had no other way out. With his marriage in shambles and his company on the brink of financial ruin, it seemed the only way to make things right. But after his exit, he began to wonder about the circumstances that led him to make that momentous decision: was someone, in fact, working against him? To find out, Jordan will have to break the cardinal rule of Exit Strategy: you can never, ever go back.

Charlton Pettus’s Exit Strategy is a cutting-edge, globe-trotting thriller about the type of shadowy organization that most of us have long suspected exists behind the scenes.

Rachel Pudelek

Freyja's Daughter
Wild Women 1
City Owl Press, May 22, 2018
eBook, 328 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Meet Faline. Bounty-Hunter. Huldra. Wild Woman.

Well behaved women seldom make history, but they still end up as the monsters of folklore.

Faline Frey is a bounty-hunter, more comfortable relying on perp files and handcuffs than using her huldra powers to take down a suspect. No sense in catching the unwanted attention of her local Hunter authority, a group of holy soldiers born to police the supernatural and keep Wild Women--huldras, mermaids, succubae, rusalki and harpies--in check.

All that changes the night she heads out for a date, hoping to get lucky. Instead, she gets screwed.

Now her sister is missing, along with Wild Women from all over the country. The Hunters are on her tail and the one person offering to help is her ex-lover, Officer David Garcia, who has just enough ties to the supernatural world. To unite her enemies against their common foe, Faline will need to convince the Wild Women to do the one thing she fears most--exhume their power buried deep beneath centuries of oppression. That is, if she can keep them from killing each other.

Danielle Teller

All the Ever Afters
  The Untold Story of Cinderella's Steppmother
William Morrow, May 22, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s "evil" stepmother.
We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?
As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of "happily ever after."

Tyler Whitesides

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn
Kingdom of Grit 1
Orbit, May 15, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 784 pages
(Adult Debut)

2018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts
The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is the first in an action-packed epic fantasy series featuring master con artist Ardor Benn.

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory – Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.
Interview with Tyler Whitesides, author of The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May DebutsThe View From Monday - May 14, 20182018 Debut Author Challenge - May Debuts

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