The Qwillery | category: William Morrow


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Cherie Dimaline, author of Empire of Wild

Please welcome Cherie Dimaline to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews for her US Debut. Empire of Wild is published on July 28, 2020 by William Morrow.

Interview with Cherie Dimaline, author of Empire of Wild

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

Cherie:  I used to get in trouble all the time during class because I would write stories on the back of math tests… and forget to do the math. This started in grade 2 and 3. I’m sure they were short and terrible, but I remember in those moments when the classroom was quiet and there was an hour stretching in front of me, all I could do was write. I remember one story about some kids who find a dragon in the woods behind their house after school one day.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Cherie:  Total hybrid. Usually I start with a seed of an idea, or a voice and then I plot once I have a bunch of pages teetering on the edge of my desk.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Cherie:  It’s tough to shut out the public before it’s time to let them in. I lose myself in the story and it’s so beautiful. But then I start to think about the readers who are my partners in the project and my confidence falls. So I have to try to build walls in order to write, which then makes me feel like a bad partner. Maybe anxiety is the biggest challenge then.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Cherie:  Other writers like Omar El Akaad and Jesmyn Ward and poets like Gregory Scofield inspire me and anger me- how can they write so damn well?!. And always, my grandmother who was the first person to tell me stories, is my main inspiration. She told my stories about the rogarou who plays a huge role in this book. And, full disclosure, I binge watched True Blood to de-stress and that sulky, supernatural-ness may or may not have seeped in to the prose here and there….

TQDescribe Empire of Wild using only 5 words.

Cherie:  Gothic, lush, magic, sex, survival (Oh, sex survival sounds like a good reality show)

TQTell us something about Empire of Wild that is not found in the book description.

Cherie:  I started writing it on the back of a barf bag during a redeye flight. I still have that bag. Thankfully there was minimal turbulence so it didn’t have to be used for anything other than story notes.

TQWhat inspired you to write Empire of Wild?

Cherie:  On that same flight, I read an article in a magazine (Walrus magazine) about these new well-funded missionary churches that were going into Indigenous communities to bring the people in off the land and to god. They were headed by Indigenous preachers, at least publically. It made me wonder about a lot of things like why now, and who was funding the missions, and what did this mean for traditional people and the community overall.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Empire of Wild?

Cherie:  I really thought about wolf culture globally, which surprisingly brought me to the Inquisition in Germany where they tried werewolves along with witches.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Empire of Wild.

Cherie:  We really wanted to find an image that spoke to the magic and fear and seduction of the woods and all the things that could be lurking there. So the trees and the stars in one image really gives the idea of possibility and adventure.

TQIn Empire of Wild who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Cherie:  Joan was the easiest to write because she is based on so many strong women who I love dearly, real badass, beautifully flawed and remarkable women. Cecile was the hardest because she was a villain and started off as such a cliché. She had no nuance, no rationale that you could connect to. And a villain without nuance is a paper doll. So I sat down to write her backstory and it ended up in the book.

TQDoes Empire of Wild touch on any social issues?

Cherie:  Everything I write end up having social issues embedded in them. This one has resource extraction, cultural survival and colonization. You know, just the small stuff.

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


Was it fun to write the sexier scenes in the book?

Oh hells yes it was!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Empire of Wild.


Old medicine has a way of being remembered, of haunting the land where it was laid. People are forgetful. Medicine is not.

He had generous lips and a wide smile. But his teeth? It was like God put a bunch of potentials in a Yahtzee cup and tossed, thinking Fuck it, let’s just hope for the best.

TQWhat's next?

Cherie:  I’m working on the TV adaptation to my YA book The Marrow Thieves. And researching souvenirs, road trips and witchcraft for a new project. Oh yeah, it’s going to be a wild one!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery!

Empire of Wild
William Morrow, July 28, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Cherie Dimaline, author of Empire of Wild
“Deftly written, gripping and informative. Empire of Wild is a rip-roaring read!”—Margaret Atwood, From Instagram

Empire of Wild is doing everything I love in a contemporary novel and more. It is tough, funny, beautiful, honest and propulsive—all the while telling a story that needs to be told by a person who needs to be telling it.”—Tommy Orange, author of There There

A bold and brilliant new indigenous voice in contemporary literature makes her American debut with this kinetic, imaginative, and sensuous fable inspired by the traditional Canadian Métis legend of the Rogarou—a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of native people’s communities.

Joan has been searching for her missing husband, Victor, for nearly a year—ever since that terrible night they’d had their first serious argument hours before he mysteriously vanished. Her Métis family has lived in their tightly knit rural community for generations, but no one keeps the old ways . . . until they have to. That moment has arrived for Joan.

One morning, grieving and severely hungover, Joan hears a shocking sound coming from inside a revival tent in a gritty Walmart parking lot. It is the unmistakable voice of Victor. Drawn inside, she sees him. He has the same face, the same eyes, the same hands, though his hair is much shorter and he's wearing a suit. But he doesn't seem to recognize Joan at all. He insists his name is Eugene Wolff, and that he is a reverend whose mission is to spread the word of Jesus and grow His flock. Yet Joan suspects there is something dark and terrifying within this charismatic preacher who professes to be a man of God . . . something old and very dangerous.

Joan turns to Ajean, an elderly foul-mouthed card shark who is one of the few among her community steeped in the traditions of her people and knowledgeable about their ancient enemies. With the help of the old Métis and her peculiar Johnny-Cash-loving, twelve-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan must find a way to uncover the truth and remind Reverend Wolff who he really is . . . if he really is. Her life, and those of everyone she loves, depends upon it.

About Cherie

Interview with Cherie Dimaline, author of Empire of Wild
Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. In 2014, she was named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and became the first Aboriginal Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of the young adult novel The Marrow Thieves, which was a Canadian bestseller and won several honors, including the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Kirkus Prize in the young adult literature category, and was a fan favorite in the 2018 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads. She lives in Christian Island, Ontario.

Website  ~  Twitter @cherie_dimaline

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood

Please welcome Kassandra Montag to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. After the Flood was published on September 3, 2019 by William Morrow.

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kassandra:  I’m a hybrid. I start as a pantser—I write snippets of scene and dialogue and take notes until I have enough rough material to start evaluating everything. I need to have a strong narrator’s voice, main characters, a solid premise, and a rough idea of the various plot points. Then I look at what I have and outline. Afterwards, I write a full draft, often deviating from the outline and making substantial changes as I go.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kassandra:  Trusting the process can be difficult if it’s been a long, hard writing day. But really, translating what is in my imagination and making it real for the reader remains the most challenging—and most rewarding part about writing.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kassandra:  A variety of influences all came to bear on this novel: Viking sagas, early American Western adventure tales, environmental documentaries, contemporary post-apocalyptic storytelling, and my personal experience of motherhood. Other influences include the post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels The Road and The Handmaid’s Tale. A nature/animal documentary called The Last Lions also shaped my desire to write a tale that felt both epic and personal at the same time.

TQDescribe After the Flood using only 5 words.

Kassandra:  Adventure, Courage, Hope, Survival, Love

TQTell us something about After the Flood that is not found in the book description.

Kassandra:  I’ll go a step further and share something that was in my notes for After the Flood, but I didn’t have room to include in detail in the novel. In the beginning the book briefly summarizes how countries and governments collapsed during the flood. The thing I didn’t have room for was describing my vision of a Second Civil War in the U.S.—this time a war of the coasts at war with the middle of the country. I imagined that as the coasts lost all their major cities, they depended more and more on resources in the middle of the country. Immigration and resource scarcity placed pressure on regions that already harbored resentment and a urban/rural divide, resulting in a brief Second Civil War.

TQWhat inspired you to write After the Flood?

Kassandra:  It came from the confluence of a dream, an image, and a line in my journal. The dream was of a wave of water coming across the prairie, all the way from the oceans, a flood that spanned the whole continent. After having this dream, I saw the image of a mother on a boat in a future flooded world, sailing with one daughter, but separated from her other daughter. Years before I had the flood dream, I had another image that kept recurring in my mind’s eye and that I detailed in my journal: “A group of people huddle around a campfire, struggling to survive and looking for a safe haven.” These two storylines, of a mother separated from her daughter in a flood, and a group of people trying to survive, began to brush up against each other, suggesting possibilities.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for After the Flood?

Kassandra:  My research included: accounts of the Bajau people who partially live on the water in Southeast Asia, stories from ancient seafaring tribes such as the Vikings, and contemporary guide books on survival techniques such as building fires, fishing, etc.
In imagining the flood itself I was inspired by scientific research, namely an article in the New Scientist about how three times the Earth’s water was stored under the Earth’s crust in hydrate form. So I imagined what it would be like if that trapped water could somehow be released to the Earth’s surface in liquid form, exploding up from the depths.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for After the Flood.

Kassandra:  The cover for After the Flood is an abstracted picture of the sky and sea. It has glorious colors and in the image you cannot see the horizon—the sea and sky blend together. The novel depicts a world in which the horizon has moved dramatically and I loved how the designer captured this sense of sky and sea merging in a way that is both beautiful and dramatic.

TQIn After the Flood who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Kassandra:  Pearl was the easiest character to write, perhaps because she is a child and does not have ulterior motives the way other characters do. She is more purely herself, less torn by the demands of survival. Also, because she was born in this flooded environment, she seems to deal with it in a more natural way than some of the other characters. The hardest character to write was Jacob because I had trouble getting into his head and understanding his motivations for abandoning part of his family.

TQDoes After the Flood touch on any social issues?

Kassandra:  Yes, it touches on wealth distribution, climate change, immigration, colonialization, and nation building.

TQWhich question about After the Flood do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kassandra:  What is a central theme of After the Flood?

After the Flood is partly about the role selfishness and selflessness play in the fight for survival. I was interested in how the survival instinct can be inherently selfish in a dangerous world without enough resources and if there are ways to transcend that. I was also curious about the way that survival can be seen as selfless—an act of love through carrying on.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from After the Flood.


“Children think we make them, but we don’t. They exist somewhere else, before us, before time. They come into the world and make us. They make us by breaking us first.”

“But other times, when everything was so dark out on the sea that I felt already erased, it seemed like a kindness that life before the floods had gone on for as long as it did. Like a miracle without a name.”

“I don’t know how to talk to Pearl about what lay beneath us. Farms that fed the nation. Small houses built on quiet residential streets for the post-World War II baby boom. Moments of history between walls. The whole story of how we moved through time, marking the earth with our needs.”

TQWhat's next?

Kassandra:  I’m currently working on my next novel, a gothic murder mystery.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kassandra:  Thank you!!

After the Flood
William Morrow, September 3, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood
An inventive and riveting epic saga, After the Flood signals the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.

A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.

Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.

On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.

A compulsively readable novel of dark despair and soaring hope, After the Flood is a magnificent, action packed, and sometimes frightening odyssey laced with wonder—an affecting and wholly original saga both redemptive and astonishing.

About Kassandra

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood
Photo by Nancy Kohler
Kassandra Montag is a poet and novelist. Her work has appeared in Mystery Weekly Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and Prairie Schooner, among other literary journals. She has won the Plainsongs Award, New Year's Poet Award, and 1877 Award.

Website  ~  Facebook

Interview with Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M

Please welcome Peng Sheperd to The Qwillery, as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Book of M is published on June 5th by William Morrow.

Interview with Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M

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

Peng:  It was a picture book about a spider! A Very Friendly Spider was the title. I was just old enough to read, and I drew the accompanying illustrations as well, of course. My mother, wanting to encourage my interest in books, got it laminated and bound with a cheap plastic spiral spine, and gave it back to me as a surprise. Being only four or five, I gleefully assumed that my book had been published. If only it were that easy!

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Peng:  I’m a hybrid. I almost always start by pantsing it and make a huge mess because I’m too excited by the newness of the idea to plan anything. If I’m still obsessed with the story after 50 pages of exploration, then I come up with an ending, which is the make or break moment. If I can get the ending, then I make a brief outline and everything (mostly) falls into place from there.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Peng:  Revision! It’s such a different (but very necessary) skill from first drafting.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Peng:  Ursula K Le Guin has always been and will probably always be my biggest source of inspiration. Her books were life-changing for me, and were a huge part of the reason that I began, and kept, writing myself.

I also have been greatly influenced by the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, NK Jemisin, Lev Grossman, and Jeff Vandermeer. I love reading their work because they write things so imaginative and unique that it seems like it could never work, but they do it so courageously and brilliantly that each time I turn the page, I can feel the boundaries of what I had thought possible in writing expand.

TQDescribe The Book of M in 140 characters or less.

Peng:  Disappearing shadows, magical elephants, sinister cults, a dangerous journey, a mysterious city.

TQTell us something about The Book of M that is not found in the book description.

Peng:  Ory and Max are the main characters, but the novel is actually told from 4 points of view—there are two other characters not mentioned on the back of the book who play very significant roles in the story and whose fates are deeply tied to those of Ory and Max.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Book of M? What appeals to you about writing about a near future catastrophic world?

Peng:  I love post-apocalyptic stories in general. I’m a big fan of The Stand, Station Eleven, The Passage, The Walking Dead, and video games like the Fallout series, The Last of Us, Shadow of the Colossus, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, etc. I’m fascinated by the idea of a world wiped clean, but even more than that, about what that new reality would do to the survivors—if living in it would force you to become more true to yourself, or less. I think The Book of M asks that question a lot of its characters… maybe in even more direct ways than some of its bookshelf-mates, because people are fighting to literally not forget who they are and who they love.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Book of M?

Peng:  Most of my research was centered around Zero Shadow Day (which is a real-life phenomenon that occurs every year!), as well as several ancient myths in the Rigveda, as they’re both subjects that feature prominently in the mystery surrounding the vanishing shadows. And I studied a lot of highway maps. A lot.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Book of M?

Peng:  The amazingly talented Ploy Siripant at William Morrow designed and created the gorgeous cover. It does depict something from the novel—I can’t say much more without spoiling it, but a big portion of the story follows some of the characters as they set out on a very perilous trip from one place to another.

TQIn The Book of M who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Peng:  The easiest and hardest character to write turned out to be the same one. I’ll refer to him as “the amnesiac.” He was there from the start, but went through many incarnations—a disgraced psychiatrist, then a con man, then a mathematician, then a mayor... it was like pulling teeth! Something just felt off about him every time, but I didn’t know what. I even finished the near-final revision of the novel with him still not set. It wasn’t until the very last few weeks before the book went out on submission that I suddenly realized who he really should be and how to fix him. I wrote all of his chapters again from scratch in a matter of days, and he took on a life of his own that I never could have imagined.

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

Peng:  It’s not exactly a question I wish someone would ask, but the thing I had to cut from the story that I miss most was a group of talking crows that followed some of the characters around and periodically interrupted their conversations to give advice. It didn’t move the plot forward in any way and the book was already so large, I just couldn’t justify keeping it. But I loved those cheeky little crows!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Book of M.


“Did you know that the word that means a group of elephants together is memory?” he asked. “A memory of elephants.”


“There’s a difference between when the mind forgets and the heart does. The heart has a harder time letting go. But what happens when you refuse to let go of a delicate thing as it’s being pulled away from you? It stretches. Then it tears.”

TQWhat's next?

Peng:  I’m in my “make a huge mess” pantser phase of a second novel. It’s still very early days so I’m hesitant to reveal too much, but let’s just say that it’s another mystery, but set in our present day world. There’s no apocalypse this time—all the cities are fully inhabited and everyone’s got a shadow—but there’s still plenty of intrigue, danger, enigmatic figures from shady organizations, and a little bit of impossible.

TQ:   Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Peng:  Thank you so much for having me!

The Book of M
William Morrow, June 5, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

Interview with Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M
"Eerie, dark, and compelling, [The Book of M] will not disappoint lovers of The Passage (2010) and Station Eleven (2014)." --Booklist


Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

Like The Passage and Station Eleven, this haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down.

About Peng

Interview with Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M
Photo by Rachel Crittenden
Peng Shepherd was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet. She earned her MFA in creative writing from New York University, and has lived in Beijing; London; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and New York City. The Book of M is her first novel.

Website  ~  Twitter @pengshepherd  ~  Facebook

Interview with Jamey Bradbury, author of The Wild Inside

Please welcome Jamey Bradbury to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Wild Inside is published on March 20th by William Morrow.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Jamey a Happy Publication Day!

Interview with Jamey Bradbury, author of The Wild Inside

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

Jamey:  I was writing before I actually put pen to paper. I used to make up plays and force my younger brother and cousins to act them out. But the first time I remember plotting out a story and putting it on paper was in the first grade, around age six or seven. I wrote and illustrated a story about a boy who moved to a new town and couldn’t make friends at school, but did manage to make friends with a monster, instead.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jamey:  Total by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer. I find if I plot things out too far in advance, the idea becomes stale to me—I don’t wind up surprising myself, or letting the characters surprise me.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jamey:  The first draft. I’m never happier than when I’m rewriting—which may account for my writing process, which consists of drafting until I run out of ideas or run up against a plot problem; then I circle back around and rewrite everything I’ve got, hoping the momentum will push me through whatever I was struggling with. I hate bumping around in the dark with no light, wondering where I am and what’s going to happen next—and that’s what a first draft feels like. But it’s worth it to get to the good stuff, i.e., the revision.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jamey:  Alaska’s a big influence on my writing. Not just the landscape, which is pretty inspirational, but also its emptiness and distance. Alaska is such a large state, with so much space that’s only trees and wildlife and mountains. You feel the distance between people, between towns, between the state itself and the rest of the country. It’s like the physical manifestation of the psychic distance between people—the difficulty we have in truly knowing another person, which is what a lot of my writing ends up being about.

TQDescribe The Wild Inside in 140 characters or less.

Jamey:  Stubborn, feral Alaskan girl hunts animals, maybe stabs a guy, and hates being grounded. Finds people irritating, but likes dogs.

TQTell us something about The Wild Inside that is not found in the book description.

Jamey:  Since Tracy and her dad are mushers, they have about forty dogs they raise, train, and take care of. A lot of the dogs are named after dogs I know personally. For instance, Zip and Stella, in real life, are a Jack Russell terrier and a labradoodle I used to dog sit for. Homer and Canyon are actually two yellow labs that belong to some friends who took me sailing one time. The other dogs in the book have theme names, just like a lot of litters that belong to actual mushers—like the “words that convey movement” litter (Fly, Chug, Pogo).

TQWhat inspired you to write The Wild Inside? What appeals to you about writing a psychological thriller?

JameyThe Wild Inside started as an attempt to write a horror novel because that’s what I love to read—especially horror that’s mashed up with what critics might deem “literary” fiction. I like books that seem steeped in reality until the surreal or weird or terrifying creeps in. In a lot of ways, if The Wild Inside is a horror novel, Tracy ends up being the monster of her own story. I think that’s what ultimately turned the story into something that’s more akin to a psychological thriller—if you’re inside the “monster’s” head, privy to her struggle with being monstrous, you end up gaining a better understanding of the scary thing, which hopefully sparks a little empathy, in this case.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Wild Inside?

Jamey:  I’ve only been dog sledding once, and that was a short excursion with some mushers I visited when I first moved to Alaska as an AmeriCorps volunteer. So for the mushing aspects of the book, I read a good bit: books like Yukon Alone by John Balzar and Winterdance by Gary Paulson; the article “Out in the Great Alone” by Brian Phillips was helpful, too. Twitter has become a surprisingly helpful research tool, allowing me to follow mushers like Blair Braverman and Dallas Seavy. For animal and hunting and trapping information, I relied upon the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s very user-friendly website.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Wild Inside.

Jamey:  The cover of The Wild Inside was inspired by a poster for the 2017 movie It Comes at Night, which also depicts a dog, seen from behind as it gazes into the terrifying, endless night. I saw the poster and thought, “That’s my cover,” so I sent it to my editor, and the talented folks at William Morrow—including jacket designer Mumtaz Mustafa—took that bit of inspiration and made something I’m totally in love with. At the heart of this book lies the protagonist’s true love—dog sledding—so a dog made sense. But the way the dog seems poised, ears up, watchful, taking in the falling snow and whatever else might be out there—I feel like it captures the tension at the heart of the novel—the draw of wildness pushing against the need for home and family.

TQIn The Wild Inside who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jamey:  Tracy was the easiest. After writing and rewriting so much, I felt I knew her inside and out—her stubbornness and secretiveness, her desire to do good by her family, her simultaneous need to be her own person and live by her own rules. I grew to understand her reasons behind every action, even the truly terrible ones, even as I disapproved of the things she thought she had to do.

Tracy’s mother, Hannah, was the toughest to write, mostly because we only see her in flashback and through Tracy’s admittedly often unreliable filter. Even though Tracy is the one interpreting her mother’s actions and personality for the reader, as the writer I had to know Hannah better than her daughter did—to understand her motivations and her love and fear of her own daughter.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Wild Inside?

Jamey:  I knew early on that Jesse needed a secret—something that would pique Tracy’s curiosity and, eventually, draw the two of them together, based on their shared need to hide in plain sight. When I realized what Jesse’s secret was, I also realized that—because of Tracy’s unique ability to know other people—it was an opportunity to skip over all the questions (and doubts and suspicion) some people may have when someone reveals something like sexual preference or gender identity. With her ability to “know” a person so completely, Tracy wouldn’t have doubts or suspicion; she would accept a person for who they are, which I found refreshing.

It’s important to me to write about folks we don’t always see represented in popular culture (although, happily, representation seems to be growing and changing). It’s true that when you can see yourself in the media you consume, you can also see possibility, and perhaps understand yourself and others better. As an asexual person, for a long time I thought I was some kind of crazy anomaly; who talks about being asexual, unless you happen to be a plant? It wasn’t until I started to see asexual people represented in film and television that I realized I wasn’t alone.

I also think it’s important to tell stories about all kinds of people that aren’t just the story about their “otherness.” Not every story about a gay person has to be about their coming out. Not every story about a person of color needs to be an object lesson. I want to see stories that are just stories, that happen to have gay or trans people or people of color as their protagonists and supporting characters.

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

Jamey:  Maybe, “Where can I find the Peter Kleinhaus book Tracy loves so much?” Which is a trick question, because you can’t: I made up How I Am Undone by Peter Kleinhaus—and frankly, writing the excerpts from that was a heck of a lot easier than writing The Wild Inside. Probably because I could just write the pretty parts and not worry about making the plot make sense. But who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll tell Peter Kleinhaus’s whole story, too.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Wild Inside.

Jamey:  “There are books out there that when you read them, you wonder how some stranger could know exactly what’s in your own mind.” I like that because it’s how I feel when I read a really great book. And because, like Tracy, sometimes I wish other people were as easy to get to know as a really great book.

One more: “There is satisfaction in running fast…My mind travels somewhere else, and I become only breath and bone and muscle. The feeling is serene and focused, powerful and energized, all at the same time.” Because that’s exactly how I feel on the rare occasion I manage to hit a meditative state when I’m out running

TQWhat's next?

Jamey:  I’m working through the first draft of my second novel, which is inspired by two things: the Winchester Mystery House and Homer, Alaska, which is a small coastal town in the southeast part of the state. There’s a spit down in Homer which features the longest road into ocean waters in the world. In my book, at the end of this road, a woman has built a massive house with doors in every surface—large doors, tiny doors, doors within doors, doors in ceilings, doors in floors. Every door she opens gives her access to a different point in her own life—and, possibly, to points in alternate versions of her life. It’s a book about memory, time travel, history, dementia, and family.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Wild Inside
William Morrow, March 20, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Jamey Bradbury, author of The Wild Inside
"The Wild Inside is an unusual love story and a creepy horror novel — think of the Brontë sisters and Stephen King." —John Irving

A promising talent makes her electrifying debut with this unforgettable novel, set in the Alaskan wilderness, that is a fusion of psychological thriller and coming-of-age tale in the vein of Jennifer McMahon, Chris Bohjalian, and Mary Kubica.

A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.

But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.

Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.

It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.

Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?

About Jamey

Interview with Jamey Bradbury, author of The Wild Inside
Photo by Brooke Taylor
Born in Illinois, Jamey Bradbury has lived in Alaska for fifteen years, leaving only briefly to earn her MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Winner of an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, she has published fiction in Black Warrior Review, Sou’wester, and Zone 3, and she has written for the Anchorage Daily News,, and storySouth. Jamey lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @JameyBradbury

Interview with Nick Clark Windo, author of The Feed

Please welcome Nick Clark Windo to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Feed was published on March 13th by William Morrow.

In addition, Amazon and Liberty Global have announced that they have ordered a ten-episode adaption of The Feed from The Walking Dead executive producer Channing Powell and British producer Studio Lambert.

Congratulation to Nick on both the publication of The Feed and the upcoming TV adaption!

Interview with Nick Clark Windo, author of The Feed

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

Nick Clark Windo:  Thank you very much – it’s lovely to be here.

I can’t remember much about them, but I remember writing short stories at school as part of English class. There was one in particular written when I must have been seven or so, and some kids had discovered a portal to another world that was ruled by an evil goblin. They swore to defeat this evil goblin and then, when they got home, the evil goblin came to their house to try to kill them, but they dodged him and he burned to death on a heated towel rail. The teacher wrote in the margin ‘How did the goblin know where they live?’ I don’t think this was the only flaw in the story, but it got me thinking about plotting.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

NCW:  I love the term ‘pantser’! For The Feed I was a hybrid. I knew quite a lot about the novel – the midpoint, for example, and the last line – so I had a very good idea where the characters needed to go emotionally, and that worked as a compass point for pantsing their ways there. I like getting lost in a world, and there are certainly lots of things in the novel that wouldn’t have been there if I’d sat down and planned it all. At the same time, I reckon I could have shaved about five drafts off the process if I’d planned a little more.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

NCW:  At the moment, finding the time. Who knew that babies warp time like black holes do? It’s really quite distracting. That aside, it’s re-reading with an eye to delete as much as possible; trying to have no more words than is necessary. Because reading your own work like that requires your brain to be operating on many different levels simultaneously it’s draining: it’s not just about the words that are in front of you, it’s how they relate to all the other words in the book. It requires stamina. It’s very easy to realise you’ve read ten pages and not deleted anything, and it’s very unlikely that there’s nothing delete-worthy in ten pages.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

NCW:  I’ve always read irrespective of genre. In fact, I find pigeon holing books can be quite detrimental – I don’t think it’s necessarily good for them or for our imaginations. Same with TV and film, too: as a viewer, I’m happy to swallow anything – as long as nothing ‘catches’ me. Reading or viewing (and I hope this doesn’t sound too weird) I’m looking for a smooth experience: an overwritten sentence, a jarring edit, an intrusive soundtrack, a character whose actions are driven by plot necessity rather than their established ‘reality’…all of these things catch like a splinter on a piece of furniture and bring you out of the story. I’m very magpie-ish when I’m writing. Books, films, TV, music, overheard conversations, it all gets filtered and what feels interesting gets jotted down in the notebook and then, hopefully, worked and smoothed into place in the story.

TQDescribe The Feed in 140 characters or less.

NCWThe Feed is about two parents searching for their abducted daughter in an era when technology has collapsed.

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

NCW:  It’s not all doom and gloom! I actually think that a post-apocalyptic world could be very beautiful. There’s loads of nature, for example. Granted, it’s dangerous, but it’s beautiful too. And there’s something very beautiful about the relationships that need to develop across the story – people go on some big emotional journeys, and I think there’s a lot of hope therein, and some lovely moments between people.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Feed? What appeals to you about writing an SF thriller and in particular, a post-apocalyptic thriller?

NCW:  I’d had the idea for the ‘Taken’ a while ago, and how terrifying that would be: people being ‘taken’ in their sleep. They’d look like themselves, they’d sound like themselves…but they wouldn’t be. But I wasn’t sure about the world at that time, but a year or so later I had some Twitter-induced insomnia. I was basically checking it up until the second before I went to sleep and the rhythm of the technology – refresh, refresh, refresh – infected the speed of my dreams. There was one night where I was trapped in my sleep, refreshing my dreams all night. It was exhausting. So the next morning, I knew the world I wanted to investigate: one where technology is part of us, where we’re directly linked to each other. So, yes, it is a bit of a sci-fi concept in that this technology doesn’t exist. But it only doesn’t exist quite yet. To explore this aspect of our society I had to image how the way we’re currently living might look in a few years’ time – and that happened to be a post-apocalyptic world. My next book’s not post-apocalyptic.

TQDo you use social media?

NCW:  Yes, though with added caution now! I love Twitter. But I can feel it fusing my thoughts. So I try to be strict with myself: no emails or Twitter after 7pm or before breakfast. Or at weekends. So if anything urgent happens outside those times, or if the apocalypse hits, please phone me!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Feed?

NCW:  Two different types. The first was extrapolating my experience of technology and translating that into the Feed world. The Feed is the Internet directly to our brains: immediate access to unlimited knowledge and instant communication. It's not a paradigm shift from how we live now, but it’s an extreme version. So a lot of my research was sensing out how I feel about technology and how technology makes me feel (which is both very good and very bad – for me, it's all about whether I control it or it’s controlling me). The second was reading a lot around it, especially around neurology and technology. There’s a fantastic book called The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, for example, about how tech is physically rewiring our brains. Absolutely fascinating stuff. And I was really keen to give a balanced view of technology. Obviously, the book has to be dramatic, so things have to go wrong, but there are huge advantages to technological development. It just depends on how we use it.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Feed.

NCW:  Well, first of all, I love it! And I love the interior design and the font, too. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given what I said earlier about reading irrespective of genre and not always liking books being pigeon holed, I’m also really happy that the cover doesn’t scream ‘Sci-fi’. Just to be clear – I love sci-fi. But the sci-fi element of The Feed is actually relatively small – there’s a lot of other stuff going on. So I love the simple and nature of the cover art: it’s there for interpretation. And the colours! The colours are great.

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

NCW:  The easiest was the Pharmacist, in that he was very clear to me from the start. He’s a dangerous person. What delighted me was when it became clear that his mania and his desire to hurt people comes from how badly he’s been hurt in the past. He’s damaged and wants to damage in return. So I ended up feeling pretty sympathetic towards him.

The hardest was probably Tom. Given that Tom and Kate are our heroes, I wanted them to be sympathetic. I wanted them to be good people, so that the readers would back them and care about them. But I realised a few drafts in that Tom was just so anodyne. Furthermore, that portraying people behaving nicely is really un-dramatic. Further to that, the world of The Feed is not friendly, it's not fair; it's a place where there’s not necessarily a ‘right’ decision. And I’d argue that Tom does some cowardly things and makes bad decisions. So that was a bit heart breaking, putting these nice people in very tough situations.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Feed?

NCW:  They’re there at the core of the story: it’s about our relationship with technology, and how technology is slowly (yet in plain sight) changing not just our relationships with each other, but what it means to be human at all.

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

NCW:  Will there be a sequel? Well, I know what would happen in it if there were one; two, in fact. It’s a big world with more to explore, and some things in the first book not being quite what they seem.

TQWhat's next?

NCW:  Well I’m writing my next novel. It’s different from The Feed in that it’s not set in a post-apocalyptic world, but it has flavours that people will recognise. It will also, hopefully, appeal to people who like films – so there’s a broad target audience, for you! There’s also the TV adaptation of The Feed, which is due to start shooting soon. Casting for that is happening at the moment. It’s very exciting.

TQCongratulations for The Feed TV show! Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

NCW:  Thank you very much! It’s been a pleasure to be here.

The Feed
William Morrow, March 13, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Nick Clark Windo, author of The Feed
Set in a post-apocalyptic world as unique and vividly imagined as those of Station Eleven and The Girl with All the Gifts, a startling and timely debut that explores what it is to be human and what it truly means to be connected in the digital age.


The Feed is accessible everywhere, by everyone, at any time. It instantaneously links us to all information and global events as they break. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it; it is the essential tool everyone relies on to know and understand the thoughts and feelings of partners, parents, friends, children, colleagues, bosses, employees . . . in fact, of anyone and everyone else in the world.

Tom and Kate use the Feed, but Tom has resisted its addiction, which makes him suspect to his family. After all, his father created it. But that opposition to constant connection serves Tom and Kate well when the Feed collapses after a horrific tragedy shatters the world as they know it.

The Feed’s collapse, taking modern society with it, leaves people scavenging to survive. Finding food is truly a matter of life and death. Minor ailments, previously treatable, now kill. And while the collapse has demolished the trappings of the modern world, it has also eroded trust. In a world where survival of the fittest is a way of life, there is no one to depend upon except yourself . . . and maybe even that is no longer true.

Tom and Kate have managed to protect themselves and their family. But then their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing. Who has taken her? How do you begin to look for someone in a world without technology? And what happens when you can no longer even be certain that the people you love are really who they claim to be?

About Nick

Interview with Nick Clark Windo, author of The Feed
Photo © James Eckersley
NICK CLARK WINDO was a student on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. He studied English Literature at Cambridge and acting at RADA, and he now works as a film producer and communications coach. Inspired by his realisation that people are becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, and questions about identity and memory, The Feed is his first thriller. He lives in London with his wife.

Twitter @nickhdclark

Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather: Four Short Novels
Author:  Joe Hill
Publisher:  William Morrow, October 24, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
List Price:  US$27.99 (print); 9780062663139 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780062663115 (print); US$14.99 (eBook)

Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill
A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.

"One of America’s finest horror writers" (Time magazine), Joe Hill has been hailed among legendary talents such as Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, and Jonathan Lethem. In Strange Weather, this "compelling chronicler of human nature’s continual war between good and evil," (Providence Journal-Bulletin) who "pushes genre conventions to new extremes" (New York Times Book Review) deftly expose the darkness that lies just beneath the surface of everyday life.

"Snapshot" is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by "The Phoenician," a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.

A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in "Aloft."

On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. "Rain" explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.

In "Loaded," a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

Masterfully exploring classic literary themes through the prism of the supernatural, Strange Weather is a stellar collection from an artist who is "quite simply the best horror writer of our generation" (Michael Koryta).

Deb's Review

I'm a little ashamed to admit that Strange Weather is my first Joe Hill book. I’m not sure what took me so long, but the four novellas in this collection have convinced me that I've been missing out on something very good.

The stories are thematically bound by weather events, but they are also commentary on topics that touch a raw nerve in modern times.

The first story, ‘Snapshot,’ was not at all what I expected; not from my initial impressions of what kind of writer Hill might be, and not even from what I found in the opening paragraphs.

Mike Figlione is thirteen and the type of kid who develops a lively sense of creativity because his awkwardness leaves him short on friends. Tinkering on an invention in his garage, he is interrupted by his neighbor and former babysitter, Shelly Beukes, who shows up in his driveway, lost and confused.

After escorting Shelly home, Mike stops by a convenience store and manages to make an enemy out of The Phoenician, a mysterious stranger with an instant camera that robs its subjects of their memories, one snapshot at a time. That night, in the middle of a terrifying storm, Mike is left to watch over Shelly to keep her from wandering away again. Wrestling with the onset of maturity, he realizes that Shelly is more to him than just an old babysitter. Though he’s poorly equipped to defend anyone, Mike understands that he must do his best to protect Shelly from The Phoenician.

The story is a bittersweet celebration of Shelly’s and Mike’s memories and how they overlap to create a poignant, shared backstory that begins to fade as Shelly’s memories die. ‘Snapshot’ boasts a very complete protagonist arc, packed full of emotional resonance.

‘Loaded’ starts off with what appears to be an unrelated string of events that share one common element: guns. The narrative follows three characters: Aisha Lanternglass, a girl who sees a young man she considers to be a brother killed by the police; Becki Kolbert, a young woman whose married employer is teaching her all sorts of things at firing ranges and in motel rooms; and Rand Kellaway, a mall security guard whose ex-wife has hit him with a protection order that requires him to surrender his firearms to the local sheriff’s office.

As you might guess, this story contains intensely differing viewpoints. The conclusion should provoke a reaction — for better or worse — from everyone.

In ‘Aloft,’ Aubrey Griffin is not the kind of guy you’d expect to see jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, even with a group of buddies in tribute to a departed friend. Scared and at the point of backing out, something goes wrong with the plane and everyone must jump. Aubrey and the jump master he’s attached to quickly collide with a cloudy alien landscape, but when they disengage harnesses, the jump master is whisked away by his partially deployed parachute.

Aubrey is left marooned on a floating island that seems to understand his wants and tries to provide those desires in return for Aubrey’s presence. He has plenty of time to contemplate what’s broken in his life, and to decide if it’s worth bothering to work on a virtually impossible plan for escape.

‘Aloft’ is a curious portrait of a man at a crossroads in his life against a very unique backdrop. But Aubrey’s shift in self-awareness is much lighter fare than the other three stories that go straight for the throat. It’s beautifully written, but feels a bit like a palate cleanser.

I don’t want to say much about the final story, ‘Rain.’ There were a few surprising moments, and I’d prefer not to upend them. It’s a story about deadly rainfall with potentially apocalyptic consequences, has a very strong and compelling protagonist, and a diverse array of supporting characters. It touches on terrorism, human interference in the natural world, and says a whole lot about how people treat each other. It’s a thought-provoking coda to the book.

Should you read Strange Weather? Do you like horror and sci-fi? Do you enjoy novellas with their ability to give you full-blown characterizations with a shorter time commitment? Can you handle stories that actually make you feel something, even if it’s anger or empathetic sorrow? Are you OK with having your beliefs challenged a bit? You answered “yes” to at least one of those questions, right? Then, yes, I think you should read this book.

Hill is a skilled writer with all of the confidence and insight required to push a reader’s buttons. The book made me cry, made me angry more than once, and made me examine my own views. That’s a lot to ask from an unassuming bundle of stories, but Strange Weather delivers way more than what’s on the tin. Highly recommended.

Review and Excerpt of The Seventh Plague and Q&A with James Rollins

The Seventh Plague
A Sigma Force Novel 12
William Morrow, December 13, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Review and Excerpt of The Seventh Plague and Q&A with James Rollins
In a breathtaking blend of scientific intrigue and historical mystery, #1 New York Times bestselling mastermind, James Rollins, reveals an ancient threat hidden within the pages of the Bible, one that threatens the modern world in The Seventh Plague

If the biblical plagues of Egypt truly happened—could they happen again—on a global scale?

Two years after vanishing into the Sudanese desert, the leader of a British archeological expedition, Professor Harold McCabe, comes stumbling out of the sands, frantic and delirious, but he dies before he can tell his story. The mystery deepens when an autopsy uncovers a bizarre corruption: someone had begun to mummify the professor’s body—while he was still alive.

His strange remains are returned to London for further study, when alarming news arrives from Egypt. The medical team who had performed the man’s autopsy has fallen ill with an unknown disease, one that is quickly spreading throughout Cairo. Fearing the worst, a colleague of the professor reaches out to a longtime friend: Painter Crowe, the director of Sigma Force. The call is urgent, for Professor McCabe had vanished into the desert while searching for proof of the ten plagues of Moses. As the pandemic grows, a disturbing question arises.

Are those plagues starting again?

Before Director Crowe can investigate, a mysterious group of assassins leaves behind a fiery wake of destruction and death, erasing all evidence. With the professor’s body incinerated, his home firebombed, Sigma Force must turn to the archaeologist’s only daughter, Jane McCabe, for help. While sifting through what’s left of her father’s work, she discovers a puzzling connection tying the current threat to a shocking historical mystery, one involving the travels of Mark Twain, the genius of Nikola Tesla, and the adventures of famous explorer Henry Morgan Stanley.

To unravel a secret going back millennia, Director Crowe and Commander Grayson Pierce will be thrust to opposite sides of the globe. One will search for the truth, traveling from the plague-ridden streets of Cairo to a vast ancient tomb buried under the burning sands of the Sudan; the other will struggle to stop a mad genius locked within a remote Arctic engineering complex, risking the lives of all those he holds dear.

As the global crisis grows ever larger, Sigma Force will confront a threat born of the ancient past and made real by the latest science—a danger that will unleash a cascading series of plagues, culminating in a scourge that could kill all of the world’s children . . . decimating humankind forever.

Qwill's Thoughts

The Seventh Plague by James Rollins is only the 2nd Sigma Force novel that I've read. I have to ask myself why I haven't read them all? The Seventh Plague is fabulous. It weaves together science, history, historical figures, and myth into a breathtaking thrill-ride.

The Seventh Plague is beautifully researched. The focus on the biblical plagues and what could have caused them and allow them to happen again is thoughtful and well-done. It all makes sense and is seemingly plausible, which is what I look for in an historical mystery. It works even when Rollins stretches things more than a bit because the historical and scientific foundation for the story is so well set out. There are maps and drawings and nuggets of historical fact that are just tantalizing. The places in the story are all easy to picture as Rollins is masterful in his descriptions.

Rollins does his research whether biblical history, locale or cutting edge science which lends great depth to the story. But equally important, Rollins does not skimp on characters and their stories. The personalities and depth of emotion that fill the pages are wonderful. From the head of Sigma Force to the misguided villain to the operatives out in the field, each character is distinct and an integral part of the story. Each of the main characters' struggles are laid bare along with their worries and concerns, their loves and hopes. There is a large cast of characters but you will remember each of them. If you've never read a Sigma Force novel you needn't worry - everything you need to know is here.

I enjoyed every minute reading The Seventh Plague. This is a deeply engaging novel with well-researched historical and scientific underpinnings, a thrilling mystery, terrific characters, and nail-biting excitement.

Don't skip the Author's Note to Readers at the end where Rollins lays out science, history and his fabrications, but read that after you read the novel.


9:34 P.M. EST
March 2, 1895
New York City
          Now this is more like it…
          With his goal in sight, Samuel Clemens—better known by his penname Mark Twain—led his reluctant companion through Gramercy Park. Directly ahead, gaslights beckoned on the far side of the street, illuminating the columns, portico, and ironwork of the Players Club. Both men were members of this exclusive establishment.
          Drawn by the promise of laughter, spirits, and good company, Twain increased his pace, moving in great, purposeful strides, trailing a cloud of cigar smoke through the crisp night air. “What do you say, Nikola?” he called back to his chum. “According to my pocket watch and my stomach, Players must still be serving dinner. And barring that I could use some brandy to go with this cigar.”
          Younger by almost two decades, Nikola Tesla was dressed in a stiff suit, worn at the elbows to a dull sheen. He kept swiping at his dark hair and darting glances around. When he was nervous, like now, the man’s Serbian accent grew as thick as his mustache.
          “Samuel, my friend, the night is late, and I still have work to finish at my lab. I appreciate the tickets to the theater, but I should be off.”
          “Nonsense. Too much work makes for a dull man.”
          “Then you must be exceptionally exciting…what with your life of such extreme leisure.”
          Twain glanced back with an exaggerated huff. “I’ll have you know I’m working on another book.”
          “Let me guess,” Nikola offered with a wry smile. “Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer get into more trouble.”
          “If only those two bastards would!” Twain chuckled, drawing the eye of a passerby. “Then I might be able to pay off my creditors.”
          Though Twain kept it quiet, he had declared bankruptcy last year, turning over all of his copyrights to his wife, Olivia. To help pay off his debts, he was due to head out on an around-the-world lecture tour over the next twelve months.
          Still, the mention of money had soured the moment. Twain kicked himself for mentioning it, knowing Nikola was struggling as much as he was with financial hardships, despite his friend being a veritable genius, a polymath who was equal parts inventor, electrical engineer, and physicist. Twain had spent many afternoons at the man’s South Fifth Avenue laboratory, the two becoming great friends.
          “Maybe one drink,” Nikola conceded with a sigh.
          They headed across the street toward the portico under the hissing gas lamps. But before they could reach the entrance, a figure stepped from the shadows to accost them both.
          “Thank God,” the man said as he ambushed them. “I heard from your doorman that you might end up here tonight.”
          Momentarily taken aback, Twain finally recognized the fellow. Surprised and delighted, he clapped his old friend on the shoulder. “Well met, Stanley! What are you doing here? I thought you were still in England?”
          “I only arrived back yesterday.”
          “Wonderful! Then let’s celebrate your return to our shores by raising a glass or two. Maybe even three.”
          Twain moved to draw the other two men inside with him, only to be stopped by Stanley at the threshold.
          “As I understand it,” Stanley said, “you have the ear of Thomas Edison.”
          “I…I suppose I do,” Twain answered hesitantly, knowing all too well of the deep-seated friction between Edison and his companion this night, Nikola Tesla.
          “I have a matter of urgency to discuss with the inventor, something to show him, a task given to me by the Crown.”
          “Truly? What a tantalizing bit of intrigue.”
          “Perhaps I could help,” Nikola offered.
          As the two men were unacquainted, Twain made proper introductions, acting as a potential matchmaker for this strange affair. “Nikola, this is Henry Morton Stanley—soon to be Sir Stanley if the rumors hold true—famed not only as an explorer in his own right but also regaled for his discovery of David Livingstone, a fellow explorer lost in the darkest heart of Africa.”
          “Ah,” Nikola said, “I remember now, especially how you greeted him. ‘Doctor Livingstone, I presume?’
          Stanley groaned. “I never said those exact words.”
          Twain smiled and turned to his other friend. “And this is Nikola Tesla, as much a genius in his own right as Edison, perhaps more so.”
          Stanley’s eyes grew wider upon this introduction. “Of course. I should have recognized you.”
          This drew some color to Nikola’s pale cheeks.
          “So,” Twain began, “upon what dire mission has the British Crown assigned you?”
          Stanley wiped a damp palm across his thinning gray hair. “As you know, Livingstone was lost in Africa while seeking the true source of the Nile. Something I’ve sought myself in the past.”
          “Yes, you and many other Brits. Apparently it’s a quest on par with finding the Holy Grail for you all.”
          Stanley scowled but did not discount his words.
          Twain suspected that the drive behind such a concerted search by the British had less to do with geographical curiosity than it did with the country’s colonial ambitions in Africa, but for once he held his tongue, fearing he might scare his friend off before the night’s mystery revealed itself.
          “So how does the source of the Nile concern the British Crown?” Twain pressed.
          Stanley drew him closer and pulled a small object from his pocket. It was a glass vial full of a dark liquid. “This was only recently discovered among the relics of David Livingstone’s estate. A Nubian warrior—someone whom Livingstone had helped by saving the man’s sick son—had given David an ancient talisman, a small vessel sealed with wax and carved with hieroglyphics. This vial holds a small sample of the water found inside that talisman, water which the tribesman claimed came from the Nile itself.”
          Twain shrugged. “Why’s that significant?”
          Stanley stepped away and raised the vial toward one of the gas lamps. Under the flickering flame, the liquid inside glowed a rich crimson.
          “According to Livingstone’s papers, the water was said to be thousands of years old, drawn from the ancient Nile when the river had turned to blood.”
          “Turned to blood?” Nikola asked. “Like in the Old Testament?”
          Twain smiled, suspecting Stanley was trying to set him up. The explorer knew of his personal disdain for organized religion. They’d had many heated discourses on that very subject. “So you’re claiming this came from Moses’ Biblical plague, the first of the ten he cast upon the Egyptians?”
          Stanley’s expression never wavered. “I know how this sounds.”
          “It can’t possibly—”
          “Twenty-two men are dead at the British Royal Society. Slain when the Nubian talisman was first opened and its contents tested in a laboratory.”
          A moment of stunned silence followed.
          “How did they die?” Nikola finally asked. “Was it a poison?”
          Stanley had paled. Here was a man who had faced all manner of dread beast, debilitating fever, and cannibal savages with nary a sign of fear. He now looked terrified.
          “Not a poison.”
          “Then what?” Twain asked.
          With deadpan seriousness, Stanley answered, “A curse.” He closed his fist around the vial. “This is indeed a remnant of God’s ancient wrath upon the Egyptians—but it’s only the beginning if we don’t stop what is to come.”
          “What can be done?” Twain asked.
          Stanley turned to Nikola. “You must come to England.”
          “To do what?” Twain asked.
          “To stop the next plague.”

A Dozen Questions about THE SEVENTH PLAGUE by James Rollins

(1)     Can you tell us a little about The Seventh Plague, your latest Sigma thriller? What’s it about?

The story starts when an archaeologist—who vanished along with a survey team into the Egyptian desert two years prior—comes stumbling back out and dies in a small village. But what’s strange is that his body is already partly mummified, as if someone had forced him to undergo the painful and gruesome ritual while he was still alive. Unfortunately when he came stumbling out of the desert, he wasn’t alone. He was carrying a plague organism, one that traces back to Moses’s ten plagues from the Bible. As this disease spreads and threatens to trigger the other nine Biblical plagues, Sigma Force is called in to search for a way to stop it. From there the story blows up into a global adventure spanning from Africa all the way up to the Arctic Circle. It’s one of Sigma’s biggest adventures yet.

(2)     Is it actually possible for people to mummify themselves while still alive?

Shockingly it is. Sokushinbutsu—or Buddhas in the flesh—can be found in Japan, where the practitioners underwent great and excruciating lengths to preserve their tissues after death. This involves fasting, consuming special bark and teas, and swallowing stones—then as death nears, they entomb themselves while still alive. You’ll also find similar practices in China and India.

(3     Back to those ten plagues from the Bible…could they really happen again?

This novel deals with an alternate timeline for the events featured in the Book of Exodus—the story of Moses, the plagues, and the flight of the Israelites from Egypt. It proves that these were historical events, not mere myths or legends. It’s a view well researched by Egyptologist and archaeologist David Rohl. Likewise, the plagues themselves have a rational and scientific explanation that not only shows they could have happened—but that they could indeed happen again.

(4)     Speaking of those plagues, you also tie this book to the current crisis involving the spread of the Zika virus. What does Zika have to do with your story?

The Zika virus originated in a monkey in Uganda, yet it’s grown into a tragic disease spreading around the world and now into the United States, causing crippling and deadly birth defects. Yet, as you can see from the media, we’re struggling to address it as it hits our shores. The organism in my novel is in the same family of viruses and causes birth defects and death, but only in male children, very much like Moses tenth plague—the deaths of the firstborn sons. So this novel serves as a cautionary tale about Zika and about our inability to face such crises.

(5)     Your novel also features “electric bacteria.” Those can’t possibly be real, can they?

They are very real. They’ve only recently been identified, but over a dozen different specimens have been found. These are microbes that feed directly on electricity, sucking electrons out of the environment and using them as an energy source. They’re so unique that a slew of labs are exploring practical applications for them—from growing them into living biocables that could conduct electricity to using them to power nano-machines capable of all sorts of industrial uses, including cleaning up the environment.

(6)     During this adventure, you also raise concerns about climate change. How does that play out in your book?

While I don’t intend my novel to be a diatribe about climate change, it’s hard to deny that the Arctic is getting warmer, the ice caps are getting smaller, and it’s opening up the entire north to exploration. Cruise ships are already plying the Northwest Passage, a trek once considered too hazardous to even contemplate and led to the deaths of countless explorers. Even more concerning, the whole region has become a political hotbed because the extensive melting is allowing easier access to the Arctic’s rich resources. Russia, Denmark, and Canada are fighting to divvy up the territory found under the Arctic Ice cap, with lots of butting heads, and Russian submarines are already patrolling under the ice, trying to stake a claim. It’s a powder keg waiting to explode.

(7)     You also look at a unique way of combating climate change, something called geo-engineering. What’s that?

These are massive projects, basically Hail Mary passes to save the planet. Most climate scientists believe we are near, at, or past the tipping point to do anything. So looking beyond just lowering carbon emissions, researchers are contemplating projects much larger: like enclosing the earth in a solar shield, or flooding Death Valley, or even wrapping Greenland in a blanket. The only problem—beyond the feasibility of funding or accomplishing them—is the danger of unintended consequences, disasters that no one could predict because the number of variables is so huge when talking about a global-wide engineering project. So, of course, I wanted to explore what might happen if someone actually attempted one of these projects.

(8)     The project featured in your book is tied to something actually up in the Arctic already.

It does. It ties to an Air Force installation called HAARP, which is an elaborate antenna array shooting energy up to the earth’s ionosphere, the electrically charged layer of our atmosphere. The installation has been the focus for many conspiracy theories, believing it might be a weather-control device or used to read minds. There were even concerns that is might set the sky on fire. So in my story, I built a larger, scarier version up in Canada—and make those fears come real.

(9)     As usual, you also fold some intriguing history into your novel, like featuring Mark Twain and his friendships with other historical figures, like the inventor Nicola Tesla.

I’ve always found it fascinating that so many bigger-than-life historical figures not only knew each other, but were involved in each other’s lives. Like how Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla were great buddies. Twain even spent time in Tesla’s lab, helping with experiments, and I’m sure being a general nuisance. I love one anecdote. Twain wanted to test Tesla’s “earthquake machine” to help with his constipation. Twain stepped onto the inventor’s large oscillating device and had to promptly and hurriedly excuse himself to the restroom. It’s such a fun relationship that I wanted to give that pair—a writer and an inventor—a great adventure of their own. And that’s what happens in this novel.

(10)     Besides Mark Twain, you even have Donald Trump’s uncle connected to Tesla’s story. Was that true?

Yes, and it ties into a great mystery surrounding Nikola Tesla. Tesla was a visionary genius, and later in life in The New York Times, he made the bold claim that he had discovered a new, and never-before-seen energy source, one that would change the world. But he never revealed his secret, so when he died, the U.S. government cleared out all of his papers and research journals, including notebook that Tesla had warned his nephew to secure upon his death. All of Tesla’s confiscated work was reviewed by the National Defense Research Committee, a group led at the time by John G. Trump, the uncle of a certain New York real estate magnate. Eventually, pressured by Tesla’s nephew, those papers were returned to his family, but not all of them. One conspicuous piece was missing—that notebook. In my book, it’s found.

(11)     Your stories are known for featuring animals in prominent roles. Is that the case with The Seventh Plague?

As a veterinarian, I love to fold animals into my story, and this book is no exception. I feature a young lion cub named Roho, but the emphasis is on the ingenuity of elephants. Elephants have the largest brains of any land mammal. In fact, they even have the same number of neurons and synapses in their cerebral cortexes as we do. And they put all that brainpower to good use. They use tools, are excellent problem solvers, show altruistic behavior, even self awareness. They are great painters, with a canvas done by a Picasso elephant named Ruby at the Phoenix Zoo selling for $25,000. They are also tremendous mimics, able to imitate other animals’ vocalizations, even surprisingly the sound of human speech. So I wanted to feature these great big beasts in my book, to highlight their majesty and intelligence.

(12)     Finally, as I understand it, this book is also very personal for you. Would you care to go into it?

I dedicated this book to my mother and father, who both recently passed away from complications secondary to Alzheimer's. In fact, my dad passed away while I was writing this book. In my series, the main character—Commander Gray Pierce—has been dealing with similar challenges of aging parents, including a father whose Alzheimer’s has been steadily worsening throughout the series. In this book, all of that comes to a head, as Gray tries to balance his professional and personal lives. It’s something we all struggle with in varying regards, so I think Gray’s struggle—and his shocking decision at the end of the novel—is something that will resonate with readers long after they close the book.

About James Rollins

Review and Excerpt of The Seventh Plague and Q&A with James Rollins
Credit James Rollins
JAMES ROLLINS is the New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People Magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets--and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

Website  ~   Twitter @amesrollins  ~  Facebook

JAMES ROLLINS will appear in the following venues to promote

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Review and Excerpt of The Seventh Plague and Q&A with James Rollins

Interview with Bill Schutt

Please welcome Bill Schutt to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bill is the co-author with J.R. Finch of Hell's Gate which was published on June 7th by William Morrow.

Interview with Bill Schutt

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

Bill:  I’ve been writing ever since I was a child (a nasty sci-fi short story called The Cylinder got me in some trouble when I was 12). I started writing peer-reviewed science papers in the early ‘90s and my first non-fiction book, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures, came out in 2008. I think writing is an extension of the fact that I’ve always been an avid reader.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Bill:  We generally work out an outline of the plot, then a summary of the chapters. Next we work on those individual chapters–editing them over and over again until things like the dialogue and character action sound and feel just right.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Bill:  I’d have to say what happens to a book once it gets out of my hands. Besides working hard to promote it locally and on social media, there’s little an author can do at that point. That’s tough.

TQHow does being a Professor of Biology at LIU Post and being a Research Associate of the American Museum of Natural History affect your fiction writing?

Bill:  That’s a rather complex question. As a professor I’ve always tried to be an entertainer—primarily to keep my students interested in whatever topic I happen to be covering. Because of this, I make a conscious effort to keep things lively and funny in my writings (both fiction and non-fiction). Also, as someone who has spent a lot of time in the field (I’ve studied bats all over the world), I think that was quite helpful when writing scenes where zoologist R.J. MacCready is sitting out in the rainforest at night or crawling around in a guano-filled cave.

TQDescribe Hell's Gate in 140 characters or less.

Bill:  During WWII zoologist RJ MacCready is sent into a Brazilian Heart of Darkness to investigate Axis activity. What he finds there is far stranger than even he can imagine

TQTell us something about Hell's Gate that is not found in the book description.

Bill:  There’s a great deal of real science in Hell’s Gate, from advanced weaponry that was on the drawing board in 1944 to the biology and behavior of some really weird but real-life creatures.

TQWhat inspired you to write Hell's Gate?

Bill:  A trip to the real Hell’s Gate in central Brazil got me thinking about, how, 60 or so years ago, it would have been a great place to hide something from the rest of the world.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Hell's Gate?
Bill:  The “bat is now out of the bag” that some of our main characters are vampire bats and I’ve been working on those for 25 years. Basically J.R. and I wanted to write a real vampire story in which the larger prehistoric cousins of modern vampire bats didn’t go extinct in the recent past. We tried to portray their behavior as accurately as possible, and in the end they became real-life versions of the Aliens in the Ridley Scott and James Cameron films.

TQIn Hell's Gate who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Bill:  I found Mac to be the easiest character to write because he and I are vertebrate zoologists with similar academic and museum backgrounds. We both love being out in the field. I found Mac’s best friend, Bob Thorne, the most difficult character to write. He’s based on my late best friend (also Bob), who we lost to leukemia during the writing. His parents and relatives knew Bob was in Hell’s Gate and so this became a very difficult thing to do. I believe we wrote something the real Bob would have enjoyed, and I was extremely relieved to hear that his mom really loved the fictional portrayal.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Hell's Gate?

Bill:  We thought it was important to mention some lesser known injustice that Americans of German ancestry (as well as Jewish Americans) faced during in the 1940s. Some of it was quite surprising and we decided to employ these events to give our hero a seriously haunted past.

TQWhich question about Hell's Gate do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Bill: (Please Note: This Q&A is purely hypothetical and has not happened! )

Q: “So Bill, where you when you heard Guillermo del Toro was interested in making Hell’s Gate into a movie?”

A: “I was being interviewed by Alice Cooper when the call came in.”

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Hell's Gate.

Bill:  “The history of civilization is written in humanity’s perversion of nature.” Then there’s… “Then, for a moment, the private’s scream became strong and clear, spiraling up, and up, and up into the night, until it was lost in the mist.”

TQWhat's next?

Bill:  We’re just about to turn in the sequel to Hell’s Gate and we’re already starting to think about the plot for the next book after that. We’re looking forward to Mac and Yanni’s adventures after the end of WWII (the sequel takes place in 1946) and then into the ‘50s and ‘60s. My next non-fiction book, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History (Algonquin) comes out on Valentine’s Day 2017.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Bill:  You’re very welcome. Thank you for being so cool.

Hell's Gate
William Morrow, June 7, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Bill Schutt
When a Japanese submarine is discovered abandoned deep in the Brazilian wilderness, a smart, adventurous, and tough zoologist must derail a catastrophic plot in Hell’s Gate.

1944. As war rages in Europe and the Pacific, Army Intel makes a shocking discovery: a 300-foot Japanese sub marooned and empty, deep in the Brazilian interior. A team of Army Rangers sent to investigate has already gone missing. Now, the military sends Captain R. J. MacCready, a quick-witted, brilliant scientific jack-of-all-trades to learn why the Japanese are there—and what they’re planning.

Parachuting deep into the heart of Central Brazil, one of the most remote regions on the planet, Mac is unexpectedly reunited with his hometown friend and fellow scientist Bob Thorne. A botanist presumed dead for years, Thorne lives peacefully with Yanni, an indigenous woman who possesses mysterious and invaluable skills. Their wisdom and expertise are nothing short of lifesaving for Mac as he sets out on a trail into the unknown.

Mac makes the arduous trek into an ancient, fog-shrouded valley hidden beneath a 2000-foot plateau, where he learns of a diabolical Axis plot to destroy the United States and its allies. But the enemy isn’t the only danger in this treacherous jungle paradise. Silently creeping from the forest, an even darker force is on the prowl, attacking at night and targeting both man and beast. Mac has to uncover the source of this emerging biological crisis and foil the enemy’s plans . . . but will he be in time to save humanity from itself?

About the Authors

J.R. FINCH is the pen name of a painter, history buff, and cave explorer. He lives in New York with three cats.

Interview with Bill Schutt
Photo by Jerry Ruotolo
BILL SCHUTT is a vertebrate zoologist, professor of biology, and author. He is a Research Associate (in residence) at the American Museum of Natural History and a Professor of Biology at LIU Post. Bill’s first book, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures, was critically acclaimed by E.O. Wilson, The New York Times and Alice Cooper. His next non-fiction work, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, will explore the natural history of cannibalism. Bill lives with his wife and son on the East End of Long Island, and he is currently working on a sequel to Hell’s Gate with J.R. Finch.

Website  ~  Twitter @draculae

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hell's Gate by Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hell's Gate by Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch

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

Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch

Hell's Gate
William Morrow, June 7, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hell's Gate by Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch
When a Japanese submarine is discovered abandoned deep in the Brazilian wilderness, a smart, adventurous, and tough zoologist must derail a catastrophic plot in Hell’s Gate.

1944. As war rages in Europe and the Pacific, Army Intel makes a shocking discovery: a 300-foot Japanese sub marooned and empty, deep in the Brazilian interior. A team of Army Rangers sent to investigate has already gone missing. Now, the military sends Captain R. J. MacCready, a quick-witted, brilliant scientific jack-of-all-trades to learn why the Japanese are there—and what they’re planning.

Parachuting deep into the heart of Central Brazil, one of the most remote regions on the planet, Mac is unexpectedly reunited with his hometown friend and fellow scientist Bob Thorne. A botanist presumed dead for years, Thorne lives peacefully with Yanni, an indigenous woman who possesses mysterious and invaluable skills. Their wisdom and expertise are nothing short of lifesaving for Mac as he sets out on a trail into the unknown.

Mac makes the arduous trek into an ancient, fog-shrouded valley hidden beneath a 2000-foot plateau, where he learns of a diabolical Axis plot to destroy the United States and its allies. But the enemy isn’t the only danger in this treacherous jungle paradise. Silently creeping from the forest, an even darker force is on the prowl, attacking at night and targeting both man and beast. Mac has to uncover the source of this emerging biological crisis and foil the enemy’s plans . . . but will he be in time to save humanity from itself?

Review: The Eye of God by James Rollins

The Eye of God
Author: James Rollins
Series:  A Sigma Force Novel 9
Publisher:  Harper, January 28, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 576 pages
    Hardcover and eBook (William Morrow, June 25, 2013)
Price: $9.99 (MMP and eBook)
ISBN: 9780061784804 (Hardcover); 9780061785672 (MMP);
     9780062194916 (eBook)
Review Copy: Hardcover from Publisher
Note:  The Hardcover is out of print

Review: The Eye of God by James Rollins
In The Eye of God, a Sigma Force novel, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins delivers an apocalyptic vision of a future predicted by the distant past.
In the wilds of Mongolia, a research satellite has crashed, triggering an explosive search for its valuable cargo: a code-black physics project connected to the study of dark energy—and a shocking image of the eastern seaboard of the United States in utter ruin.

At the Vatican, a package arrives containing two strange artifacts: a skull scrawled with ancient Aramaic and a tome bound in human skin. DNA evidence reveals that both came from the same body: the long dead Mongol king Genghis Khan.

Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force set out to discover a truth tied to the fall of the Roman Empire, to a mystery going back to the birth of Christianity, and to a weapon hidden for centuries that holds the fate of humanity.
[description from Mass Market Paperback]

Brannigan's Review

I like a good thriller, so just for the fun of it and to get a break from the speculative fiction I decided to read The Eye of God by James Rollins. I was quickly sucked into the story and finished it in record time.

The characters remind me of modern pulp fiction characters we know just enough to get the story told. Rollins attempts to give them some depth and for the most part succeeds. However, there are times when it comes across a little forced. For most the book there are two to three different groups of characters traveling all over the world and in each party there's about 3 to 4 different characters, so it's understandable that Rollins couldn't give each and everyone of them depth and their own subplots. Rollins does a great job of giving me enough information about the characters and the world that it didn't matter that I haven't read the first eight books. I knew what I needed to enjoy the story.

The plot of the story is where Rollins really shines. He's able to weave in history, science, religion, and plenty of action to make the book constantly entertaining and even thought-provoking. The world is coming to an end and the only way to stop it is to go a quest to find relics from the past that are the keys to saving the future. It's very imaginative and even plausible for the most part.

There is no real world building as it takes place in the present to near future time frame. Rollins does some building as he creates the Sigma Force headquarters underneath the Smithsonian Castle and hidden tombs around the world, but for the most part he's using our everyday world.

The Eye of God is a fast-paced thriller that doesn't suffer in story quality or imagination. A lot of these long book series often begin to feel cookie cutter, but even at book 9 I had a blast. There is violence, minor language and minor sexual situations. I would recommend it to older teens and adults. This is definitely for anyone who enjoys a good quest thriller with plenty of action included.

Interview with Cherie Dimaline, author of Empire of WildInterview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the FloodInterview with Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of MInterview with Jamey Bradbury, author of The Wild InsideInterview with Nick Clark Windo, author of The FeedReview: Strange Weather by Joe HillReview and Excerpt of The Seventh Plague and Q&A with James RollinsInterview with Bill Schutt2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Hell's Gate by Bill Schutt and J. R. FinchReview: The Eye of God by James Rollins

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