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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013

Please welcome Helene Wecker to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Golem and the Jinni, Helene's debut, will be published on April 23, 2013.

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013

On Accidentally Writing a Historical Fantasy

I didn't mean to write a fantastical novel about 1890s New York. It just sort of happened.

At first I didn't even have a setting. The characters just appeared in my mind, free of context. A golem, a clay creature of Jewish folklore, built to be a rich man's wife. A jinni, a fiery Arabian being, trapped in a flask for a thousand years. They arrived simultaneously, sort of peering at each other, trying to figure each other out. And then they turned to me. All right, they said, what do you plan to do with us?

I gave it some thought. I wanted to tell a story about the American immigrant experience, and the profound changes that come with life in a new country. I'd been working on a bunch of short stories about my own immigrant family, and my husband's. The stories were so-so, to put it kindly. They needed a spark. They needed something. And frankly, I was growing a little tired of quiet domestic realism. When a friend suggested I add a fantastical element—that's the stuff you love to read, so why don't you write like that?—I could feel my brain grab onto the idea, like a double cheeseburger in the hands of a starving man. Almost immediately the Golem and the Jinni sprang to life: the Golem stolid and curious, the Jinni mercurial and impatient.

So, how would they arrive in America? What setting would fit them best? Suddenly New York loomed large in my mind: the raucous, polyglot city, an explosion of peoples and cultures. It was an enticing canvas, and a little intimidating.

Next came the time period. When could these two characters, one Eastern European Jewish and one Syrian, have actually met each other in New York?

A quick trip to the library told me what I needed to know: The Venn diagram of Jewish and Syrian immigration to the U.S. intersected from the 1890s to the 1920s. The Jewish Lower East Side was already in full swing by the 1890s, but it wasn't until nearly the turn of the century that Little Syria, in what's now New York's Financial District, was a true neighborhood of its own.

Well, there it is, I thought. Late 1890s Manhattan. Better get to work.

Keep in mind that I thought I was writing another short story. In its first conception, this story was going to span a hundred years. (I think about it now, and oh, do I laugh.) My supernatural characters would live their separate lives, and every five or ten years they'd wave at each other from across the street, or maybe exchange a few words in a park. I had in mind something like Dream's once-a-century meetings with Hob Gadling in Neil Gaiman's Sandman: they would be each other's points of constancy in an ever-changing world.

I dashed off twelve pages and brought them to my writing workshop. This is interesting, they said. But slow down. Put more on the page. The details are the fun part.

So I tried to slow down, and flesh things out. But research made me impatient. I had no time, dammit! I had a story to write! So for a while, I got by on Google hit-and-runs. The rest of the details I glossed over, the writing equivalent of Vaseline on a camera lens. I gave the next installment to my workshop, and waited anxiously for their opinion.

What they said was, Stop sidestepping the details. Oh, and you know this is a novel, right? Because it's totally a novel.

And of course they were right.

So back to the library I went—and this time I stayed there for a year. I researched everything. How common were pocket-watches in the 1890s? How about indoor plumbing? What did a tenement apartment look like? How much did it cost to ride the Elevated from the Lower East Side to Central Park? What was it really like to arrive at Ellis Island?

I'd poke at a gap in my knowledge, and watch it turn into a sinkhole. The Syrians who emigrated to the United States in the 1890s weren't Muslim, as I'd assumed—they were mostly Maronite Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, two Christian denominations I knew next to nothing about. That was about a month of research right there. I started delving into Polish history for a character's backstory, and got lost in a thicket of peasant uprisings and redrawn borders and breakaway city-states. (Never, ever write about Polish history if you can avoid it. Trust me on this.) I spent days researching ancient caravan routes for an extended flashback, and then ended up cutting the whole thing. I ordered a back issue of a Catholic magazine because it had an article I needed—and soon I was getting donation requests from every missionary group and charity in the country.

Then something unexpected started to happen. Instead of just filling in holes, the research began to steer the story. At one point I learned that women in the 1890s weren't supposed to go out by themselves after dark, or they'd risk being mistaken for a prostitute. And here I had two main characters, one male and one female, who didn't need to sleep. So why not make the Golem rely on the Jinni to be her nighttime chaperone, to keep her from the appearance of impropriety? Soon my characters made a pact: one night a week, they would go out walking together. And just like that, the structure of my book fell into place, organized around those weekly visits. This happened over and over again: a stray fact or a detail in an old photo would trigger an idea, and take me in a new direction. Research, it turned out, wasn't just about pocket-watches and train fares: it was about adding depth, figuring out how these details informed the characters' lives.

It took me seven years to write this book, and I'd estimate that research accounted for at least two of them. But looking back, the research was fun, in a perverse and stressful sort of way. The longer I spent hunting for a fact, the more satisfying it felt to pin the damn thing down. At this point, if I had to write a story set in the modern day, I'm not sure how I'd do it. No research? Where would I get my ideas? This might be a sort of Stockholm syndrome for historical writers, but these days I'm glad I jumped in over my head. Next time, though, I might figure out how deep the pool is first.

About The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
Harper, April 23, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

About Helene

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013
Helene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, and received her Bachelor's in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After college, she worked a number of disheartening Marketing and Communications jobs before returning to her first love, fiction writing. In 2007 she received her Master's in Fiction from Columbia University. After a dozen years spent bouncing between both coasts and the Midwest, she's finally putting down roots near San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in late April 2013 by HarperCollins.

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Guest Blog by Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return - March 21, 2013

Please welcome Bee Ridgway to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs.  The River of No Return will be published on April 23, 2013.

Guest Blog by Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return - March 21, 2013

The River of No Return is a time travel novel, but it isn’t exactly science fiction or fantasy. It’s really a genre mash-up drawing from at least four different traditions – a time-travel adventure romance swashbuckling mystery with a hint of apocalypse around the edges. I wrote it to be big and fun and fast-paced. But with that said, the novel is built on a scaffolding of serious ideas, and I’ve put a lot of my scholarly self into the bricks and mortar of the novel. For example, the time travel in the novel is a method for exploring how history, and that strange sense of connection that we have between the distant past and the present, affects character.

My main man, Nick Davenant, jumps forward in time from a scene of violent conflict, just when he is about to be disemboweled on a Napoleonic battlefield. A soldier and an aristocrat in his own time, he suddenly finds himself without title or weapons in the 21st century, and he has to quickly change his understanding of himself in order to survive in our present. An organization called the Guild – a brotherhood of time travelers – meets him and helps him learn how to be a modern man. Everything, from sex and gender to food and travel, are different. And when he goes home again, to Britain of 1815, he finds his old emotions waiting for him, ready to overwhelm him. Love is lying in wait for him in his past, but so is mortal danger. He must figure out how to give himself, and protect himself, using old tools that his 21st century self has almost forgotten how to wield.

My time travelers use emotions to navigate the stream of time. Alice Gacoki, the Alderwoman of the Guild, the organization that controls time travel, describes it to Nick like this: “Normally your feelings are calibrated to keep you in the present, ticking over from moment to moment. But they also can propel you forward and pull you back. Don’t you see? We do it with feelings. That’s why we keep Guild members away from their homelands. Yearning, nostalgia, loss, loneliness, -- these are all superhighways back to the past. Your emotions can be overwhelming when you’re in a place that once was familiar to you. Without training, without proper understanding . . . well. It can be dangerous. If time is a river, it is a deep and a strong one. It is easy to drown, easy to get swept away.”

Nick does get swept away. His headlong journey down the river and the friends and enemies he makes along the way, combine to form the action of the novel.

So that’s my idea: emotions are my characters’ time machine, and the rules that govern character and emotion are also the rules that govern time. But how to make that work, sentence to sentence? How to make that idea sing? One of my biggest challenges lay in trying to communicate the strangeness of time and temporal shift to my readers at the level of the prose itself.

I teach 18th and 19th century American literature at Bryn Mawr College. Another way of describing my job is to say that I tempt young readers into time travel. I trip them, and I hope they fall headlong into a historical text, that they feel history as they read – that they use their emotions to connect with the emotions of another time. My notion of emotional time-travel in my novel grew out of my two decades’ experience of getting students to fall in love with a book that at first strikes them as terrifying, or boring, or as just plain impossible. I want my students to be possessed by something strange and other when they read such long-ago literature. I think that that experience of letting something so old rush through your heart should be both scary and wonderful. Picking up a book, letting the talismanic power of printed text enter you, realizing that what you are doing is channeling the passions of the dead, and finding that those passions can live again in your own heart. It isn’t time travel, exactly – but it is about time and it is about travel away from and back to our own moment.

You could say that the idea of time travel in my novel is an allegory of the experience of reading – specifically, the uncanny moment when you disappear into the experience of reading something written long before the birth of your great grandmother. That strange backward-falling sensation of losing yourself in a text that grew out of the feelings of a lost era.

The readers of my novel won’t actually meet me, won’t have me as their teacher. They won’t be discussing American literature with me and my students. But I wanted my readers to experience something along the lines of what I try to do in my classroom. I wanted the prose itself to hint at the instability of time, I wanted there to be a little tingle at the back of the head now and then, the echo of something ghostly from the past.

Throughout The River of No Return I buried dozens of fragments from other texts. I’ve threaded bits of poetry, song lyrics, sentences from other novels and short stories through my own prose, taken from medieval to contemporary sources. A few of them are actually quoted by my characters, who, like good 19th century ladies and gentlemen, are somewhat prone to spouting poetry. But for the most part these shreds are intended to be invisible. My hope is that they serve to make the reading experience ever so slightly uncanny. I hope that here and there in the midst of enjoying a fast-paced fun read, my readers have a tingling sense that there is another voice, another time, whispering beneath the surface of the novel.

About The River of No Return

The River of No Return
Dutton Adult (Penguin), April 23, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

Guest Blog by Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return - March 21, 2013
In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

About Bee

Guest Blog by Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return - March 21, 2013
Bee Ridgway was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts.  After various adventures in the US and the UK, she has finally come home to roost in Philadelphia.   She is an English professor at Bryn Mawr College.  THE RIVER OF NO RETURN is her first novel.

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Guest Blog by Menna van Praag - Populating a Fantasy Novel with Historical Figures - March 19, 2013

Please welcome Menna van Praag to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The House at the End of Hope Street will be published on April 4, 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books (Penguin).

Guest Blog by Menna van Praag - Populating a Fantasy Novel with Historical Figures - March 19, 2013

Populating a Fantasy Novel with Historical Figures

Do you remember the game: who would you invite to dinner if you could have anyone, living or dead? I’m not sure if it includes fictional characters – dining with Elizabeth Bennet, Anna Karenina and Jane Eyre would be rather fun – but if that’s not allowed, then I’d want my literary heroines. I can’t imagine anything more exciting that discussing style and story with writers like Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and Agatha Christie. Just the idea of asking Daphne du Maurier about her inspiration for Rebecca makes me giddy with joy.

In my debut novel, The House at the End of Hope Street, I decided to take that game one step further and create a house where all these women still live or, rather, don’t live. So the house is a retirement home for famous ghosts who give advice to the living residents of Hope Street, advice on everything from romance to writing. It was fantastic fun researching all these women and then throwing them in a room together. Imagine if Beatrix Potter and Dorothy Parker had to share a bedroom for all eternity. Would they be friends or would they bicker? Would they respect each other’s writing or would they be contemptuous and smug?

After several months of immersion in the lives and words of these great women I got a real feeling for their personalities, so when I sat down and wrote their scenes, I could already hear their voices in my head. Of course it was the most fun to put women together who might tease and taunt each other, especially those who had opposing literary tastes. Virginia Woolf, who didn’t pull her punches, was fabulous fun to write. One of my favorite lines in the book is when she dismisses Beatrix Potter’s entire literary output as “those bunny books”. I have no idea if Woolf might actually say such a thing, but those are the lovely liberties one is allowed to take in fantasy novels. You don’t have to worry about historical accuracy. Phew.

After populating the house with my literary heroines, I added a few more famous women for good measure: some suffragettes, actresses, scientists and Florence Nightingale. Again, it was great fun capturing the essence of their characters while also taking liberties with history. At one point Peggy, the psychic landlady, refers to Flo as a “lovely girl, if a little too fond of sailors.” Now, factually speaking, this is absolutely inaccurate but being able to disregard the facts whenever you choose is one of the many delights of writing fantasy!

About The House at the End of Hope Street

The House at the End of Hope Street
Pamela Dorman Books (Penguin), April 4, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Menna van Praag - Populating a Fantasy Novel with Historical Figures - March 19, 2013
A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen.

About Menna

Guest Blog by Menna van Praag - Populating a Fantasy Novel with Historical Figures - March 19, 2013
Menna van Praag studied Modern History at Oxford University. Working as a waitress after graduation, it was seven years until she published Men, Money & Chocolate, an autobiographical fable about her life as an aspiring writer. It has so far been published in 25 languages. The House at the End of Hope Street is her first work of literary fiction. She’s just finished her second novel, The Dress Shop of Dreams. When she’s not writing, Menna loves reading, movies and eating cake.

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Guest Blog by Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood - March 18, 2013

Please welcome Brian McClellan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs.  Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage Trilogy 1) will be published on April 16, 2013.

Guest Blog by Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood - March 18, 2013

Sidekicks and Companions: An Author's Perspective

Samwise Gamgee. Tonto. Dr. Watson. Chewbacca.

Everybody loves a good sidekick. Not only are they funny, useful, and interesting, but they are important to the narrative. Sidekicks and companions serve a very pronounced role in fiction as a foil to the main characters, and as a relatable figure that helps the reader immerse themselves in the world.

We see sidekicks in every kind of story. As a concept, the "companion" is such a vital part of the Doctor Who series that there's a rather long Wikipedia entry dedicated just to them. Why is that? Why are so many heroes accompanied by a stalwart, trustworthy, and loyal fellow? I mean, other than to have someone that can save them when they get in over their heads?

They're used as a foil, for one. Someone to provide contrast against which we may see the protagonist's strengths and weaknesses. They may point out the hero's flaws directly within the narrative itself, or indirectly through their actions and opinions. Horatio, from HAMLET, is a fantastic example of this. He, like us, sees the madness at the Danish court and, like us, can do nothing to stop it. Which leads to the next point: sidekicks have the potential to be an everyman. He is a direct connection between the reader and the narrative and is often swept along by it just as helplessly as we are.

Often times our heroes are someone remarkable. They rise above and beyond the rest of the ruffians through brawn or brain or access to technology or magic. Their sidekick, more often than not, is a regular guy (or girl) and this makes them relatable. When the hero has to be brave, the companion can be scared. It gives us, as readers, a relatable proxy for what we'd likely be doing in their shoes. And again, it provides contrast. The hero goes on when the regular person gives up.

Which is, by the way, a fantastic argument for why Samwise Gamgee is the actual hero of the Lord of the Rings series.

Companions are also a wonderful channel through which an author can introduce their world to the reader. This is especially important for writing epic fantasy. The reader begins the book by knowing absolutely nothing about an entirely new universe and the author has to explain it to them. Enter the sidekick; a constant companion that the main character can talk to about worries, troubles, and plot points.

Each of the three main characters of PROMISE OF BLOOD has a companion for at least some of the book. Field Marshal Tamas has a new bodyguard named Olem. Taniel Two-shot brought his spotter, Ka-poel, back with him from a foreign war. Inspector Adamat hires his old friend SouSmith help watch his back while he investigates. While these characters weren't created explicitly for the purpose I mentioned above, it sure came in handy.

I think that sidekicks are often a great deal more fun to write even than main characters. They aren't the ones driving the plot, so you can give them character traits that might distract from the narrative if given to a main character. Olem, for instance, is a cheeky bastard. He chain-smokes his way through the day even though Tamas can't abide the smell, and he wears a beard against army regulation. And he's under orders to be blunt so that Tamas has at least one person around that isn't afraid to speak plainly.

Olem serves many purposes. Relatability and contrast, like mentioned above. He gives Tamas someone to bounce ideas off verbally, so that I don't have to write his thoughts into the narrative too often. Olem provides humor that comes across naturally, rather than forced, and he has particular traits that give the world depth.

I use companions to a different extent with each of my main characters. Olem almost never leaves Tamas' side. Ka-poel is with Taniel for most of the book, but she also has her own things to do, and SouSmith makes time to accompany Adamat when the latter is doing something particularly dangerous. I think this variety helps keep the idea of companions fresh, and keep it from being too obvious to the readers just what role those people are playing in the eyes of the author.

The Powder Mage Trilogy

Promise of Blood
The Powder Mage Trilogy 1
Orbit, April 16, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 560 pages

Guest Blog by Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood - March 18, 2013
The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

It's up to a few...
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

The cover for the second novel in The Powder Mage Trilogy, which is slated for publication in February 2014.

Guest Blog by Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood - March 18, 2013

Photo-Illustration by Michael Frost and Gene Mollica
Design by Lauren Panepinto

About Brian

Guest Blog by Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood - March 18, 2013
Brian lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and between 6,000 and 60,000 honey bees (depending on the time of year).

He began writing on Wheel of Time role playing websites at fifteen. Encouraged toward writing by his parents, he started working on short stories and novellas in his late teens. He went on to major in English with an emphasis on creative writing at Brigham Young University. It was here he met Brandon Sanderson, who encouraged Brian’s feeble attempts at plotting and characters more than he should have.

Brian continued to study writing not just as an art but as a business and was determined this would be his life-long career. He attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp in 2006. In 2008, he recieved honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.

In November 2011, PROMISE OF BLOOD and two sequels sold at auction to Orbit Books. It is due out in April of 2013.

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Guest Blog by Robin Riopelle, author of Dead Roads - March 12, 2013

Please welcome Robin Riopelle to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Dead Roads, Robin's debut, will be published on April 2, 2013.

Guest Blog by Robin Riopelle, author of Dead Roads - March 12, 2013

The Work/Write Balance: How I Learned to Stop Worrying 
and Love My Day Job

By Robin Riopelle

A piece of advice from my father-in-law, a well-published poet of some repute: writing will never pay the bills (for the record, he’s a retired English professor and, yes, poetry pays even less than fiction). Let’s face it, unless we’re spectacularly lucky and great fortune smiles upon us, most of us will have a day job. We will always have a day job.

So, how do you/can you love your day job and still function as a writer? The two aren’t, and shouldn’t be, mutually exclusive.

I actually love my day job, and am one of those people who would say, upon winning the lottery, “Well, I’ll still go to work.” Really. I’m a freelance museum exhibition planner. Shut up, it’s a real job. It’s a good real job. I work from my office at home, which is a huge plus. Any number of surprising things can catch my interest, and I’ve worked on projects varying from antique toys to New France to potash.

A writer friend of mine mused, “Wouldn’t life be great if we didn’t need to write?” I imagine it sometimes: after work, nothing but time to catch up on TV, learn to knit, spend quality time with the kids. Instead, to paraphrase Charles Bukowski, the writing has to roar out of me, it’s uncontainable, a massive itch in need of good long scratch.

A brief description of the writing job: it’s solitary time spent on yourself, every bit sustaining as a meditation retreat (not that I’ve ever had time for one of those, you understand). You spend a stupid amount of time hunched in front of a computer (if that’s your poison). Time walking the dog is more about working out a thorny plot problem, or anticipating a delicious scene you’ll get to when you return home. When it’s going well, there is nothing quite as good.

It feeds you. When it’s not eating you.

Work cuts into fiction writing time. But if I sat at my computer all day, working on the writing job, I don’t think it would make me a better, or even a more prolific writer.

Why? Because work helps the writing.

Knowing a little about a lot always comes in handy, whether it’s at a cocktail party or in fiction. In Dead Roads, I’m called upon to know a fair bit about trains, particularly in Nebraska. Do you think I’m an Omaha train engineer? No, but I’d worked on exhibitions about westward expansion. Ditto for New France, Acadia and the Grand Dérangement. Being able to identify the audience-pleasing story in a mass of research is a skill I’ve honed in my day job, and you know what? It helps the writing.

A lot of my daily word output goes toward exhibitions. These words go through any number of editors, bosses, CEOs, focus groups. They get handed back to me with “change this”, “don’t like this”. Cut this, re-write that. When it comes to my professional writing, I write for an audience. I have to have a thick skin. If it’s not working, I don’t take it personally, I revise. And it’s exactly the same with the fiction.

Work helps the writing.

I spent a number of years as an intermediary for Vancouver Family Services, reuniting adoptees with birthfamilies. Yes, that’s also actually a day job. Not only did I become a crack detective, I became a counselor of sorts. Telling someone they have a long-long sister, working out why families break down and what it looks like when they get back together after years apart—these experiences wiggled into Dead Roads as well.

The only real downside to having a writing job and a day job is the computer. I spend most of my day sitting in front of it. Working, writing, working at writing, writing for work. It involves the same muscles for me, figuratively and literally.

Fair enough, I have no spare time. No left-over hours. No time to kill. A recently retired relative worried aloud to me that he was “going to have to get a hobby” in order to fill his time. Seriously, I can’t even imagine those words coming out of my mouth.

If it’s one thing that we writers will never have to worry about, it’s retirement. Possibly because we’ll never be able to afford to retire, but also, at some level, because writing is more than a job. It’s a life. And how do you retire from that?

About Dead Roads

Dead Roads
Night Shade Books, April 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Guest Blog by Robin Riopelle, author of Dead Roads - March 12, 2013
Lutie always wanted a pet ghost—but the devil’s in the details.

The Sarrazins have always stood apart from the rest of their Bayou-born neighbors. Almost as far apart as they prefer to stand from each other. Blessed—or cursed—with the uncanny ability to see beyond the spectral plain, Aurie has raised his children, Sol, Baz, and Lutie, in the tradition of the traiteur, finding wayward spirits and using his special gift to release them along Dead Roads into the afterworld. The family, however, fractured by their clashing egos, drifted apart, scattered high and low across the continent.

But tragedy serves to bring them together. When Aurie, while investigating a series of ghastly (and ghostly) murders, is himself killed by a devil, Sol, EMT by day and traiteur by night, Baz, a travelling musician with a truly spiritual voice, and Lutie, combating her eerie visions with antipsychotics, are thrown headlong into a world of gory spirits, brilliant angels, and nefarious demons—small potatoes compared to reconciling their familial differences.

From the Louisiana swamps to the snowfields of the north and everywhere in between, Dead Roads summons you onto a mysterious trail of paranormal proportions.

About Robin

Guest Blog by Robin Riopelle, author of Dead Roads - March 12, 2013
Born in Ottawa and raised on Canada’s west coast, Robin Riopelle’s life has been marked by adoption, separation, and reunion. Like many of her characters, she has a muddy past, and a foot in (at least) two different worlds. She’s always had interesting work in museums and social service agencies. Some things she has done while collecting a paycheck:
• told unsuspecting people the whereabouts of a long-lost family member,
• go-go danced in front of 700 people,
• traipsed across a wind-whipped hospital rooftop with a nun,
• lost a frozen beaver head under a parked car.

Robin Riopelle is the author’s birthname. She currently lives on the border between French and English Canada with her criminologist husband, two seemingly delightful children, and an obstreperous spaniel.

In addition to writing fiction for adults, Riopelle also illustrates children’s books. Dead Roads is her first novel.

Website  :  Twitter  :  Facebook

Guest Blog by Amy Raby - Dangerous Women - March 4, 2013

Please welcome Amy Raby to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Assassin's Gambit (Hearts and Thrones 1) will be published on April 2, 2013.

Guest Blog by Amy Raby - Dangerous Women - March 4, 2013

Dangerous Women

Assassins are not uncommon in romance novels, but usually the assassin is the hero.

What if the assassin was the heroine?

The romance genre is full of stories about women falling in love with dangerous men, but I wanted to write the opposite, about a man who falls for a dangerous woman. And while femme fatales are not uncommon in literature either, usually such stories are cautionary tales, where the man who falls for the powerful woman ends up punished for it, either coming to a bad end or learning his lesson and finding another, tamer woman.

What if instead the man who falls for the dangerous woman realizes there are advantages to being allied with her?

Vitala Salonius, my assassin heroine, was born for a simple reason: I needed a character strong enough to stand up to my hero. I’d established Emperor Lucien in a previous book, in which he’d played a supporting role and stolen every scene he was in. He’s a brilliant young military strategist who can no longer take the field because of a disability: he’s an amputee. Hated by his father, who can’t stand having a disabled son, Lucien developed an obsession with the war game Caturanga (similar to chess), which served as an outlet for his prodigious intelligence.

What sort of heroine could I pair him with? I figured she needed to be great at Caturanga, maybe even better than Lucien. That would spark their initial attraction. And then I came up with the idea of having her be an assassin sent to kill him. At first I thought the idea was hilarious. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I gave it a serious treatment, I had the makings of a special book.

So often, accomplished women today are told to downplay or even hide their strengths—otherwise (so the stereotype goes) they’ll never find a man. I wanted to challenge that assumption. I wanted to write about a woman who was strong and never apologized for it, and a man who felt secure enough in himself to respect that—indeed, he’s attracted to her because of it. Neither of them can accomplish their goals separately. But by working together and pooling their strengths, they can achieve a great deal.

About Assassin's Gambit

Assassin's Gambit
Hearts and Thrones 1
Signet, April 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Guest Blog by Amy Raby - Dangerous Women - March 4, 2013
Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.…

About Amy

Guest Blog by Amy Raby - Dangerous Women - March 4, 2013
Amy Raby is literally a product of the U.S. space program, since her parents met working for NASA on the Apollo missions. After earning her Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Washington, Amy settled in the Pacific Northwest with her family, where she’s always looking for life’s next adventure, whether it’s capsizing tiny sailboats in Lake Washington or riding dressage horses. Amy is a 2011 Golden Heart® finalist and 2012 Daphne du Maurier winner.

Website  :  Facebook  :  Twitter  :  Goodreads

Guest Blog by Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Little Italy - February 27, 2013

Please welcome Suzanne Palmieri to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Witch of Little Italy will be published on March 26, 2013.

Guest Blog by Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Little Italy - February 27, 2013

Finding Magic.....

On March 26th 2013 (next month!) my novel The Witch of Little Italy will hit the shelves. It will be at all the major booksellers, at Target, at independent bookstores. It's been a truly magical experience and I feel so-- charmed.

One of the things that people have asked me about my novel, is how I created the subtle-- yet very present magic in the characters. Some call it world building...
Not me.
My life has always had magic in it. Not the kind you think of right away, not the romantic sort of woozy magic that we think about when we say things are "Magical". No, I had real magic. Good and bad. Black and White. Green, mostly...

Kitchen Magic.

It was always obvious that my stories would have a magical realism bent, because I was brought up that way.

In the kitchens of my childhood there was magic. Real, honest to goodness spell crafting. Garden under the moonlight. Oil in water on New Years Eve to remove and evil eye. Curses. (Yes, curses...)
But fun things too!

Want to know the sex of the baby you are carrying? Who needs an ultrasound? Put your wedding ring on a chain and have let one of my Great Aunts dangle it in front of your stomach.
She always got it right.

Sick? Make sure the "patient's" bed is made with white sheets. All white. Mustard plasters. Menthol. Tea and honey and lemon. Prayers. Who needs a doctor?
Rub down a fever with rose water and rubbing alcohol. Say the Rosary.

Because my mother was a child of the Sixties (hippie, spiritual, flower of a woman) and my Grandmother was a first generation Italian American... I was brought up with a certain kind of Pagan/Catholicism steeped in magical traditions.

So when my characters needed magic (to help or harm), It was easy for me to give them the things I already knew. I simply gave them the gifts that so many people in my life gave to me.

It's not a matter of believing something or not. It's a culture. A way of life.

I was a sad and lonesome child, but I knew, early on, that I was a daughter of the sea. My mother would bring me to the ocean and that's where I remembered, under the water, that I was a mermaid.

There's nothing salt water can't cure. There's nothing the sun won't bleach out of you. You can't hide from sand.


None of us live without it. We just don't look hard enough for it. Turn around. I'm right here! And I have a few spells for you. Just take a peek inside my book!

About The Witch of Little Italy

The Witch of Little Italy
St. Martin's Griffin, March 26, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Little Italy - February 27, 2013
In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her. She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there. With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. Aided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery over fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.

You may read an excerpt from The Witch of Little Italy at the Macmillan site here.

About Suzanne

Guest Blog by Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Little Italy - February 27, 2013
Suzanne Palmieri (AKA Suzanne Hayes) is an author, a teacher, and the mother of three little witches.

Her debut novel THE WITCH OF LITTLE ITALY will be published by Saint Martin's/Griffin on March 26, 2013, and has sold internationally. Her co-authored novel, I'LL BE SEEING YOU (written as Suzanne Hayes) will be published by Mira books on May 28, 2013, and has also sold internationally.

She lives by the ocean in Connecticut with her husband and three darling witches. Suzanne is represented by Anne Bohner of Pen and Ink Literary.

Website  :  Facebook  :  Twitter -  @thelostwitch

Guest Blog by Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century - February 26, 2013

Please welcome Peter Higgins to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs.  Wolfhound Century will be published in late March 2013 by Orbit Books.

Guest Blog by Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century - February 26, 2013


Wolfhound Century is a book about Russia, but the word Russia doesn’t appear in it anywhere. It’s a book steeped in 20th century history – totalitarianism, revolution, modernism, grinding global war, governments that spy on and murder their own citizens – but Lenin and Stalin and Hitler are nowhere mentioned. The world of Wolfhound Century has a detailed geography – a vast continent, a capital city, an endless forest in the east – but it’s not a geography you’ll find in any real-world atlas. And there are things in Wolfhound Century that aren’t in the real world at all, like giants and dangerous sentient rain.

So is it really a book about twentieth century Russia at all? Or is it an SF fantasy thriller sprinkled with Russian-sounding names? And if it is about Russia, why write it as an SF fantasy thriller?

To take the second question first: the answer, for me, is story. A story takes you into a world you can't reach any other way, and you experience that world through characters who are living vividly, intensely, on the edge. Stories put people under pressure, to show you what they’re really like: not just the everyday details of lifestyle and personality, but are they strong? will they take risks and confront their demons? what’s their true capacity for sacrifice or love? And genre stories – any genre, not just SF fantasy thrillers but historical romances, zombies, serial killers, anything – can do this brilliantly, because they go beyond the boundaries. They bend the rules of normality. They're extreme. Genre stories at their best can compress and simplify and take you directly to the heart of new things, raw experience and real emotion.

Wolfhound Century is meant, first and last and always, to work as a story: a thriller, an investigation, a race against time, a struggle against the overwhelming power of the state. A story of what it means to be human. The Russian-ness of the setting – artists and dissidents, informers and political police, the endless steppe, the rolling birch forests – are there to let the story do its work. But they’re also there to give it depth and meaning. The setting should be more than just stage scenery.

So how is Wolfhound Century about what happened in Russia and central Europe in the twentieth century, if it doesn’t mention Soviet Russia?

I’ve said that genre stories bend and compress and break the rules of what can actually happen, to bring out rawness of character and feeling. It can work in the same way with place and history. When you’re building a different world, you can change reality to get to the essence of things. You can pack a lot into a small space. Go to extremes.

The world of Wolfhound Century – marching crowds, propaganda posters and slogans, radio, cinema, newspaper articles, modern art, the smells in the street, the food they eat – is based on long hours of research, but the reality behind it is changed, distorted, magnified. Re-imagined. It’s not historically authentic in any literal sense. The ruling regime, against which the heroes struggle to win the right to be themselves, has an ideology, but it’s not called communism, and it’s never described in any detail. The historical Soviet Union and the real Stalin are in there, as a kind of undercurrent, a dark shape that reaches the surface from time to time.

You don’t need to know anything about 20th century Russia to read Wolfhound Century but some of that dark history is inside it, drumming away like an engine, if you want to look for it.

About Wolfhound Century

Wolfhound Century
Orbit Books, March 26, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 380 pages

Guest Blog by Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century - February 26, 2013
Inspector Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist --- and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown terrorism with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.

About Peter

Guest Blog by Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century - February 26, 2013
Peter Higgins read English at Oxford University and Queen's, Ontario. He was a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford and worked in the British civil service. His short stories have appeared in Fantasy: Best of the Year 2007, Best New Fantasy 2, Asimov's Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Zahir and Revelation, and in Russian translation in the St Petersburg magazine Esli. He lives with his family in South Wales.


Guest Blog by Joshua Alan Parry, author of Virus Thirteen - February 22, 2013

Please welcome Joshua Alan Parry to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Virus Thirteen, Joshua's debut, will be published on March 26, 2013.

Guest Blog by Joshua Alan Parry, author of Virus Thirteen - February 22, 2013

Pink Girl in a Cruel World

Modest is not normal.

In my novel, Virus Thirteen, you will meet a young woman named Modest. She is a frail, albino-white girl, with pink hair, and the vertical pupils of a feline. Her hair is not dyed and her eyes are not contact lenses. Her troubles are more than skin deep, however; much deeper - on the molecular level. She is the end result of genetic tampering that is rampant in the futuristic setting of this book.

Mankind has long had this problem. Since poor Prometheus gave us fire, perhaps misguidedly judging by our track record, we have been systematically using new technology, untested, with the utmost vigor, blinded to potential complications. Someone invents radiography? We take x-rays of each other until we're full of cancer and growing extra limbs. Atomic energy? We put it in convenient packages and drop it on cities. Genetic engineering? We engineer Modest.

Modest is one of the many freaks living in the post-genetic modification era. Thanks to government regulations, no longer are genetic engineers allowed to modify the human genome for purely aesthetic purposes. They are limited to genetic manipulations that are medically indicated, like the insertion of cancer-proof genes and the removal of genetic defects. Tormented by her body, her bizarre eyes, and hair, Modest is reminded daily of the choices she did not and could not make. I’m referring to multi-generational consent, a novel idea, only necessary in a universe of altered genomes, where a parent’s choice infringes on their child’s. Altered genes would pass down through the generations like drunken tattoos, each generation cursing their predecessors, “Why do I have this hideous tattoo of a frog on a lily pad beneath my right breast? Gee…thanks a lot great-grandma!”

To call this "playing God" is cliché, but a suitable one. There is only one thing certain: once the technology exists, the unscrupulous among us will use it. Then and only then, will the negative consequences be apparent. It’s not entirely science fiction either. We can already select which embryo we would like to carry to conception based on its genetic material. You can even choose the sex of your baby. If these options were available, would you pick your child's gender? What about their eye, hair, or skin color? Do you have the right to? If I picked a specific trait, then my child could certainly be unhappy about it; but if my child received such trait by random chance, only the dice of probability is to blame. I wonder if selecting certain traits would lead to an inevitable dissatisfaction with the child? When I pick green eyes and black hair, will I regret not sticking with the classic Aryan formula of blue eyes and blonde hair? I know, at this point, asking these questions is similar to asking which type of flying car will best suit my personality. They are silly questions today, but perhaps these things are not as far off as we think. In that case, I’ll take a black, flying convertible with extra rocket boosters and I think I’ll leave my children’s genetic future to fate.

About Virus Thirteen

Virus Thirteen
Tor Books, March 26, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Joshua Alan Parry, author of Virus Thirteen - February 22, 2013
An irreverent and contagious thriller from debut author Joshua Alan Parry

Scientists James Logan and his wife, Linda, have their dream careers at the world’s leading biotech company, GeneFirm, Inc. But their happiness is interrupted by a devastating bioterrorist attack: a deadly superflu that quickly becomes a global pandemic. The GeneFirm complex goes into lockdown and Linda’s research team is sent to high-security underground labs to develop a vaccine.

Above ground, James learns that GeneFirm security has been breached and Linda is in danger. To save her he must confront a desperate terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer: Virus Thirteen.

About Joshua

JOSHUA ALAN PARRY is a medical resident at the Mayo Clinic. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and holds a B.S. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was also captain of the ice hockey team. Over the years, he has worked as a guide for at-risk youth in the Utah wilderness, a metal worker in Montreal, a salmon canner in Alaska, and a molecular genetics intern. He was raised in Keller, Texas.

Guest Blog by Clifford Beal, author of Gideon's Angel - February 12, 2013

Please welcome Clifford Beal to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Gideon's Angel will be published on February 26th in the US/Canada and February 28th in the UK.

Guest Blog by Clifford Beal, author of Gideon's Angel - February 12, 2013

Historical Fantasy: the pitfalls and pleasures of 
writing crossover fiction
Clifford Beal

A few months back I wrote on my own blog about what it was like writing historical fantasy. I came up with an analogy: that it was like renovating a building listed by the Historic Preservation society—but without planning approval. You keep the fabric of the structure and build on what’s there, but with some rather strange additions along the way.

I’ve published non-fiction history, and even worked on writing straight historical fiction, but until Gideon’s Angel, had never attempted historical fantasy before. Admittedly, it’s a strange, hybrid creature (like its cousin genre, alternative-history), slightly out of the mainstream of fiction. But, if one accepts the challenge of combining good, solid historical research with well-crafted fantasy plot elements, then the results can be as entertaining as any epic fantasy built from the ground up.

It pays though, to research the chosen period well. Many readers expect historical accuracy and they will drop a book fast if too many errors of fact or jarring anachronisms pop up. With “crossover” genres like this, you’re trying to please readers who know their favourite time period as well as fantastic literature. With a world-building fantasy novel, that particular pitfall is taken away so long as you remain consistent within the cosmos you’ve created. One particular bugbear of mine is bad sword-fighting, whether in film or books, and there’s a lot of it about. I worked particularly hard to get my fight scenes as accurate as possible. It helped that I had done a fair amount of medieval combat with the Society for Creative Anachronism since the mid-70s and later, some fairly realistic (and risky) rapier and dagger practice with groups in England. Those experiences inform my writing and my duelling scenes.

I actually had intended to write a conventional historical adventure when I was outlining what would become Gideon’s. The idea was to create a suspense thriller—sort of a 17th century “Day of the Jackal”—centring around a plot to assassinate Oliver Cromwell. But I had also been toying with ideas for a novel that was 100 per cent fantasy. None of my epic fantasy ideas were gelling for me and then I hit upon the notion of injecting some fantasy elements into the historical adventure novel I was fleshing out, specifically some supernatural plotlines.

One trope I’ve used is taking real life people from the pages of history and having them interact with fictional characters. Gideon’s has some significant roles for Cromwell, Cardinal Mazarin, Elias Ashmole, and most importantly, Charles deBatz-Castelmore—otherwise known as d’Artagnan. Outside of France, most people think he was a creation of Alexander Dumas. Actually, Dumas plucked him from the history books and fictionalised him. My d’Artagnan is closer to the real man than Dumas’s was. Soldier, diplomat, spy, he was the trusted servant of the said Cardinal, a real 17th century action man. The interaction of the fictionalised real-life and the purely fictional characters such as my protagonist Richard Treadwell, lends itself to building tension in the story. Some of the characters refuse to believe what is happening to them until they are thrust into a maelstrom of otherworldly horror. This is the thing Stephen King does so well, and before him, authors like HP Lovecraft. Taking mundane surroundings and ordinary people and dropping them into situations that stretch their understanding and comprehension—that is, converting a sceptical character into a believer of the supernatural.

I hope I’m not done with my very middle-aged, slightly broken-down and world-weary Cavalier, Richard Treadwell. And I hope readers would like to see him again. I’ve already penned a complete prequel (just how did he get so good at running into supernatural horrors?) and in my mind at least, Colonel Treadwell’s otherworldly adventures in the 17th century aren’t over yet.

About Gideon's Angel

Gideon's Angel
Solaris, February 26, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Guest Blog by Clifford Beal, author of Gideon's Angel - February 12, 2013
He came back to kill a tyrant. He found the Devil instead. An amazing historical novel with a supernatural twist set after the English Civil War. This is the stunning debut from Clifford Beal.

He came back to kill a tyrant. He found the Devil instead.

1653: The long and bloody English Civil War is at an end. King Charles is dead and Oliver Cromwell rules the land as king in all but name. Richard Treadwell, an exiled royalist officer and soldier-for-hire to the King of France and his all-powerful advisor, the wily Cardinal Mazarin, burns with revenge for those who deprived him of his family and fortune. He decides upon a self-appointed mission to return to England in secret and assassinate the new Lord Protector. Once back on English soil however, he learns that his is not the only plot in motion.

A secret army run by a deluded Puritan is bent on the same quest, guided by the Devil’s hand. When demonic entities are summoned, Treadwell finds himself in a desperate turnaround: he must save Cromwell to save England from a literal descent into Hell. But first he has to contend with a wife he left in Devon who believes she’s a widow, and a furious Paris mistress who has trailed him to England, jeopardising everything. Treadwell needs allies fast. Can he convince the man sent to forcibly drag him back to Cardinal Mazarin? A young king’s musketeer named d’Artagnan.

Black dogs and demons; religion and magic; Freemasons and Ranters. It’s a dangerous new Republic for an old cavalier coming home again.

The very different UK Cover (out February 28th)

Guest Blog by Clifford Beal, author of Gideon's Angel - February 12, 2013

About Clifford

Guest Blog by Clifford Beal, author of Gideon's Angel - February 12, 2013
Clifford Beal, originally from Providence, Rhode Island, worked for 20 years as an international journalist and is the former editor-in-chief of Jane’s Defence Weekly in London. He is the author of Quelch’s Gold (Praeger Books 2007), the true story of a little-known but remarkable early 18th century Anglo-American pirate. But he’s also been scribbling fiction from an early age: his seventh grade English teacher nicknamed him “Edgar Allen” undoubtedly due to the gothic subject matter of his extremely short stories. His debut novel, Gideon’s Angel, is published by Solaris Books in February 2013.

For recreation, Clifford used to don plate armour and bash the tar out of people in the Society for Creative Anachronism before moving to more civilised pursuits such as 17th century rapier and dagger fighting and motorcycling (though not simultaneously). Today, he is more likely to be found at the seaside or the Savile Club in London, sharing good wine and conversation in a place where the sparring is usually only verbal.

Website : Twitter

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013Guest Blog by Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return - March 21, 2013Guest Blog by Menna van Praag - Populating a Fantasy Novel with Historical Figures - March 19, 2013Guest Blog by Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood - March 18, 2013Guest Blog by Robin Riopelle, author of Dead Roads - March 12, 2013Guest Blog by Amy Raby - Dangerous Women - March 4, 2013Guest Blog by Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Little Italy - February 27, 2013Guest Blog by Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century - February 26, 2013Guest Blog by Joshua Alan Parry, author of Virus Thirteen - February 22, 2013Guest Blog by Clifford Beal, author of Gideon's Angel - February 12, 2013

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