The Qwillery | category: 2015 Debut Author Challenge


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

2015 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR Winner!

2015 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR Winner!

The votes are in and the winner of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR is Darkhaven by A.F.E. Smith from Harper Voyager UK with 1,088 votes (44%). The cover artist is Alexandra Allden.

There was a quite a battle between Darkhaven and The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca but Darkhaven won by 107 votes in the end! In total there were an amazing 2,494 votes cast. Thank you to everyone who voted!

Harper Voyager UK, July 2, 2015
eBook, 400 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR Winner!
Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

The Results

2015 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR Winner!

Cover Wars started as a way to recognize and celebrate the talented individuals who bring books to life with their eye-catching covers. While we may not judge a book by its cover, a terrific cover will certainly make us want to know what is on the inside.

Interview with Dana Chamblee Carpenter, author of Bohemian Gospel

Please welcome Dana Chamblee Carpenter to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bohemian Gospel was published in November 2015 by Pegasus.

Interview with Dana Chamblee Carpenter, author of Bohemian Gospel

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

Dana:  Thanks for having me! I actually started writing in the third grade, but after a bit of a detour into the halls of academia to get my Ph. D, I came back to my dream of being a writer. Stories are like food or air for me--I need them to live. When I was a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on, and it didn't matter if the protagonist was a boy or a dog or a girl kind of like me; I could slip into the skin and become any of them. But there was still a part of me that knew that even the female characters I could most relate to—a Jo March or Laura Ingalls—weren't quite free enough or wild enough or strong enough. So I wrote my own stories with my own free, wild, strong girls.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or hybrid?

Dana:  I am so absolutely a pantser that I have a hard time associating with plotters (just kidding). I still occasionally peek over the fence to see if the grass is really greener on the plotters' side (knowing where your story's going before you get there sounds SO nice), but then I start panicking at the idea of getting boxed in and trapped. I like to feel my way through a story.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Dana:  Blocking off the time to do the actual writing. I wear so many hats—mom (and the whole subset of jobs that involves), homeschooler, professor, wife, friend—that I have to be pretty fierce with myself to schedule my writing time and not forfeit pieces of it to something else.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Dana:  I'd like to think that almost any writer I've read is an influence on me in some form or another. But one of the touchstones for me is Eudora Welty—there's something in her writing that speaks to my soul, and I will likely forever be striving to emulate the fluidity of her narrative. There’s also Neil Gaiman, who so masterfully blends light and dark in his work and who is such a powerful role model for staying positive and encouraging in a very critical and competitive industry. I want to be him when I grow up.

TQDescribe Bohemian Gospel in 140 characters or less.

Dana:  Girl named Mouse. Girl has powers. Girl meets king. Girl fights demons. Girl lives in 13th Century Bohemia. #NotBohemianRhapsody

TQTell us something about Bohemian Gospel that is not found in the book description.

Dana:  Things get really dark and scary. Mouse is an extraordinary young woman and so extraordinary things happen to her. She has magical moments of joy and uncommon tragedy.

TQWhat inspired you to write Bohemian Gospel? What appeals to you about writing historical fiction and, in particular, historical fiction set in 13th Century Bohemia?

Dana:  Mouse was my inspiration. She came to me first, and I didn't know when or where she belonged. As she slowly revealed some of her secrets to me, her story led to Bohemia and the 13th Century, which is where I learned about Ottakar, and I was hooked. I've always loved historical fiction, especially the books that focus on typically overlooked characters or develop fictional characters that challenge conventions in a particular historical setting. I want to go somewhere I've never been or see a familiar world in an entirely new way.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Bohemian Gospel?

Dana:  Anything and everything. The typical surface-level internet research served as breadcrumbs to lead me into the deeper waters of really old books that only lived in the dusty archives of a library, digitalized copies of rare and out-of-print books, music, art, architecture, and loads of research into the practices of Premonstratensian monks.

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

Dana:  Mouse was the easiest character to write because I knew her so well by the time I actually started drafting. It didn't take lots of mental work to imagine what she would do or say in any particular situation because I'd been living with her for a year in my head. But she was also the hardest character to write because I love her deeply and it breaks my heart (weeping and gnashing of angry teeth) when crappy stuff happens to her. I hear from readers who get so mad at certain parts of the story when bad things happen to Mouse, and I SO understand. I feel the same way. But I have to the let the story go where it needs to go; I have to let Mouse make her own decisions. And sometimes, life is really hard.

TQWhich question about Bohemian Gospel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Dana:  It's actually not a question I can say here because it would be a spoiler, but it’s one my big brother asked over the holidays. He loved the book but he was upset about something that happens toward the end. His question was: Why? And we spent hours talking about Mouse's choices and the deeper underlying themes in the book. It was a great question that led to a great discussion. I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any better than that.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Bohemian Gospel.

Dana:  I love Father Lucas' reprimand of King Ottakar when he's being "protective" and trying to keep Mouse from doing something she needs to do. Father Lucas tells the King, "We both know that she is not just a girl."

Then later, at a time when Mouse is wrestling with figuring out her place in the world, Ottakar tells her "You do have value, Mouse, not lent you by parents or a family name, but a worth all your own." I love him for that.

TQWhat's next?

Dana:  I'm working on revisions to the sequel to Bohemian Gospel right now. The first book was only a part of her story and I can’t wait to share with readers what happens next.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dana:  My pleasure!

Bohemian Gospel
Pegasus, November 16, 2015
    November 8, 2015 (eBook)
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Dana Chamblee Carpenter, author of Bohemian Gospel
Set against the historical reign of the Golden and Iron King, Bohemian Gospel is the remarkable tale of a bold and unusual girl on a quest to uncover her past and define her destiny.

Thirteenth-century Bohemia is a dangerous place for a girl, especially one as odd as Mouse, born with unnatural senses and an uncanny intellect. Some call her a witch. Others call her an angel. Even Mouse doesn’t know who—or what—she is. But she means to find out.

When young King Ottakar shows up at the Abbey wounded by a traitor's arrow, Mouse breaks church law to save him and then agrees to accompany him back to Prague as his personal healer. Caught in the undertow of court politics at the castle, Ottakar and Mouse find themselves drawn to each other as they work to uncover the threat against him and to unravel the mystery of her past. But when Mouse's unusual gifts give rise to a violence and strength that surprise everyone—especially herself—she is forced to ask herself: Will she be prepared for the future that awaits her?

A heart-thumping, highly original tale in the vein of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, Bohemian Gospel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice for historical fiction.

About Dana

Interview with Dana Chamblee Carpenter, author of Bohemian Gospel
Dana Chamblee Carpenter is the award-winning author of short fiction that has appeared in The Arkansas Review, Jersey Devil Press, and Maypop. Her debut novel, Bohemian Gospel, won Killer Nashville’s 2014 Claymore Award. She teaches creative writing and American Literature at a private university in Nashville, TN, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @danaccarpenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

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

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

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

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

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TQWhat's next?

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

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Holly:  My pleasure! Thanks for having me.

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

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

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

About Holly

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

Website  ~  Twitter @HollyMessinger  ~  Facebook

Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound

Please welcome F. Wesley Schneider to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bloodbound was published on December 1st by Tor Books.

Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound

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

Wes:  I’ve been writing for a long time. My Mom says, as a kid, I used to tell her stories and insist that she write them down. So, I guess I’ve always enjoyed telling stories.

Professionally, though, I started writing in 2000, about the time the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons released. I’d been a D&D fan for years and had already targeted working on Dragon magazine (the monthly, D&D rules and news magazine) as my dream job. But the new edition of D&D debuted with a license that allowed other publishers to release their own game content, leading to a boom in small presses looking for D&D compatible content. Already used to creating detailed scripts for my personal games, I tried my hand at a few open calls. There were some projects for charity or exposure and a lot of rejections—all proving educational in their own ways—but eventually I started getting my work accepted and getting paid for it. When the first paycheck hit my mailbox, I realized I might actually be able to make my hobby into a career. I kept submitting, kept working, got better assignments with more established publishers—including Dragon magazine—and in 2003 landed an assistant editor position at Paizo Inc., then publishers of Dragon and Dungeon magazines.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Wes:  Absolutely a plotter. The outlines for anything I write typically end up being pretty meaty and I certainly don’t leave them alone once I start writing. No battle plan survives engagement with the enemy, and as I get into the nuances of a story I often go back to the outline and add notes for things to pick up later or that I can kick back to past chapters.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Wes:  Overwriting. That sounds like the “I’m too honest” answer to an interview question, but it’s actually something I need to get better at. You sure can go on for a thousand words about the variety of statuary covering a cathedral’s facade, but if it doesn’t matter to the story, who cares? Sometimes I get what I think is a cool idea, indulge it a bit too far, and then in editing think: Why’d I waste my time with this? What does this actually do to further the plot? Does the lily need this much gilding? Bloodbound might have released a year earlier if I was a bit more economical in my writing. (This probably applies to interview question answering too!)

Fortunately, I take a pretty sharp hacksaw to my writing. Even better, I have amazing editors in James Sutter and Chris Carey—both fantastically talented authors themselves. They’re certainly not shy about trimming the fat. So in the final equation it works out.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Wes:  Nobody writes a fight scene like Robert E. Howard. At the same time, “Pigeons from Hell” remains one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read. I love how he shifts from slow-build tension to fast-paced action, the stark contrast making both more effective. You also only need to look at Bloodbound’s cover to see the influence of Howard’s monster hunter, Solomon Kane.

I’m also a big fan of gothic horror in general, not just Howard’s southern gothic tales, but classics like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, and Le Fanu’s “Carmilla”—all three of which influenced bits of Bloodbound. Growing up in Baltimore, Poe’s also an inescapable force and I think he manipulates that whole city’s perception of what a writer is—he certainly did mine. And no one writes a vampire story without constantly comparing their fanged characters to Dracula, so Stoker’s work was certainly at hand during most of Bloodbound’s writing.

TQDescribe Bloodbound in 140 characters or less.

Wes:  If Van Helsing stopped pursing Dracula, how would a snubbed Dracula respond? And who would step in to stop him?

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

Wes:  The majority of Bloodbound’s characters—and certainly all the true ass-kickers—are women and the only romantic relationship involves a queer vampire.

TQWhat appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Wes:  Fantasy writing’s a genie with infinite wishes—you want it, you got it. In Bloodbound, I wanted to play with a slew of gothic tropes, be they familiar menaces—vampires, ghosts, horrors from below, mind-controlled minions—or classic creepy settings—like insane asylums, ominous cathedrals, dilapidated manors, and opera houses. I got to use every single one of those, as well as many more. In other genres, you might be restricted to just a few for believability’s sake—and certainly, even here, you need to keep things plausible—but in fantasy, no one’s going to tell you no. If you can come up with a reason, anything goes.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Bloodbound?

Wes:  Bloodbound is set in a nation called Ustalav, which is part of the larger Pathfinder world. That world wasn’t created to tell just one story, but to host pretty much any fantasy tale you might want to tell in fiction, roleplaying games, whatever. As editor-in-chief at Paizo, I was one of the creators of that world, but Ustalav, our land of gothic terror, is easily my favorite part. I even wrote a game accessory called Rule of Fear entirely about the country. But all of this work on Ustalav and the Pathfinder world has happened over nearly a decade. So I still had to go back and read a ton of world lore to make sure Bloodbound meshed with existing work. It can be daunting working in such a thoroughly detailed setting, but that’s also how you find stray gems just waiting to be picked up and turned into stories of their own.

Beyond that, my sister-in-law, Aimie Schneider, is a nurse who was good enough to talk me through some of how a vampire’s body might respond to drug injections. I wanted to know if having, essentially, an undead heroin addict could be a thing. Her advice was fantastically helpful in leading me away from ideas that it just didn’t seem like the real biology or medicine supported.

So I’d add that as a caveat to what I said before. In fantasy, anything goes—but real things still have to work like real things. Even in fantasy, you still have to check your science.

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

Wes:  Considine, a vampire cast out from undead society, was by far the easiest. He’s a character who hates his situation, but he distracts himself with a parade of fine things and attractive company—not to mention, spying on his “sister” Larsa. Considine’s spoiled and likes it that way. He’s effete and self-interested, cynical and easily bored. He’s a vampire playboy, but knows he’s stranded on a cultural desert island, and that no matter how many dodos he dresses up as butlers, he’s not really lord of the house. I love writing Considine, not just because he’s got the best sarcastic banter, but because he’s got the most potential to turn from a spoiled brat into an antihero. There’s also more than a measure of self-indulgence in writing a self-indulgent character, because you can write the first thing that comes to mind—filters are for people who care about who’s listening. And if you can come back later and make a comment even snarkier, so much the better!

For hardest, that’s two main characters, Larsa and Jadain, have that honor. That might seem strange since they’re so prominent. Larsa’s a hard-bitten, straight to the point, half-vampire vampire hunter. Jadain’s a priestess sworn to the goddess of birth and death, who tries to see the good in people. They’re very different characters, but they’re both determined and willing to do anything for certain causes. The chapters switch back and forth between their perspectives, giving us Larsa’s point of view in one then Jadain’s in the next. So I’m particular about making sure that they both have distinct voices, especially when they’re both in more action-oriented chapters where they have to be direct. Jadain’s usually the one that gets trickiest. While Larsa’s usually sharp, even in tense situations I need to make sure that Jadain’s humanity and optimism comes through, or else she starts to sound like Larsa. It wasn’t a balancing act I expected going in, but it made an interesting challenge.

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

Wes:  Pathfinder fiction and game material has a reputation for featuring characters of diverse genders, ethnicities, sexualities, etcetera. Does Bloodbound continue this trend?

Certainly! Bloodbound’s two main protagonists are both women, as are two of the story’s deadliest antagonists. A swordsman from the Egypt-inspired land of Osirian joins them, regularly offering a critical perspective on the Transylvania-esque lands of Ustalav. Aside from the immortal characters, there’s also a hero in her seventies who proves she’s not too old to head into a fray. Considine too is openly queer, though I’m not ready to pin him down as gay, bi, or otherwise quite yet. But writing Bloodbound was a long process and already I’m looking back at things with an eye toward what I might have done differently. I’m going to be keenly interested in hearing readers’ criticism about what I got right, what I got wrong, and how I can make the next story even better.

Also, being a guy who’s married to a guy, I know I started writing concerned about making the story somehow “too queer.” I’m not entirely sure why—probably something between personal insecurity and not wanting to scare off fantasy readers coming to my stuff for the first time. That’s not to say the queer elements are subtle in Bloodbound—there’s one particular relationship between two guys that is plainly there, but it’s a tertiary plot. I feel like I’m over my beginner’s anxiety now, though. If I get to play with these characters again, I’ve laid the seeds to make their relationship much more of a central feature.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Bloodbound.


I pressed his arm against the wall and drank fast, draining him like I was throwing down a shot. I didn’t like sharing from the same flask as my quarry, but if the evening was taking the turn I feared, I wouldn’t have another chance.

Anyway, he deserved it.

TQWhat's next?

Wes:  Well, next week I’m a guest of honor at GaymerX, where I’ll be talking a lot about the intersections between queerness and gaming of all types. It’s an amazing show and I couldn’t be more honored to be speaking. If you love gaming and you’re going to be in the San Jose area next week, we’d love to have you stop by. Everyone’s welcome!

Writing-wise, I swing between gaming and fiction pretty readily. I’ve got a massive adventure called “The Hellfire Compact” kicking off Pathfinder’s new Hell’s Vengeance Adventure Path in February. A few months later, I’ve got a story, “Stray Thoughts,” in the Eclipse Phase: After the Fall anthology. It’s a detective story involving a private eye mom, her sex worker son, and high-tech possession on an aerostat over Venus. It sounds bizarre—and I guess it is—but it turned out to be one of the more emotion rich stories I’ve ever written, so I’m interested in hearing what folks think.

Beyond that, I’m already starting to feel the fiction bug again, so who knows where that might lead!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Pathfinder Tales 30
Tor Books, December 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound
Larsa is a dhampir-half vampire, half human. In the gritty streets and haunted moors of gothic Ustalav, she's an agent for the royal spymaster, keeping peace between the capital's secret vampire population and its huddled human masses. Yet when a noblewoman's entire house is massacred by vampiric invaders, Larsa is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that will reveal far more about her own heritage than she ever wanted to know.

From Pathfinder co-creator and noted game designer F. Wesley Schneider comes Bloodbound, a dark fantasy adventure of murder, intrigue, and secrets best left buried, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Role Playing Game.

About Wes

Interview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of Bloodbound
Editor-in-chief at Paizo Inc. and co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, F. Wesley Schneider is the author of dozens of Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons adventures and accessories. Aside from having passionate opinions about horror, world-building, and storytelling, he’s spoken at length on inclusively and LGBTQ topics in gaming. His novel, Bloodbound, releases in December, while his next major roleplaying offerings, The Hellfire Compact and In Search of Sanity, debut in 2016.

Wes lives outside Seattle with his husband and a particularly unlucky black cat.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~ Twitter @FWesSchneider  ~ YouTube  ~  Instagram

Interview with Michael Livingston, author of The Shards of Heaven

Please welcome Michael Livingston to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews and The Shards of Heaven Blog Tour. The Shards of Heaven will be published on November 24th by Tor Books.

Interview with Michael Livingston, author of The Shards of Heaven

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

Michael:  Hi there! Thanks for having me.

I started writing stories as a kid, and the encouragement of my teachers really helped me to aspire to the craft. In fact, I started down the path to becoming a professor in part because I thought it would leave me with blissfully free summers in which I could write novels. Little did I know that I would need to be writing academic books, too!

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

MichaelThe Shards of Heaven features a rather intricate series of plots and point of view characters, and it's situated amid the real events of history -- all of which means that at some level I need to be a plotter. The history has to work.

At the same time, my outline is actually nothing more than a simple spreadsheet that describes the events of each chapter in one or two sentences. So I afford myself as much room as possible within that script to let my characters take over.

I guess that makes me a hybrid.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Michael:  As a professor I have a fairly busy life of teaching, grading, and doing research and writing on the academic side of my life. So finding the time to get into the mindset of my fiction is by far the most difficult thing for me. I've had to learn to keep the Muse on speed-dial, ready and waiting for any chance I get to steal an hour of time here or there to write.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Michael:  My tastes in literature are really quite diverse, from medieval writers like Chaucer to modern writers like Brandon Sanderson. On my shelf you'll find J.R.R. Tolkien next to Tennyson, Dan Simmons next to Shakespeare, and Parke Godwin next to Gilgamesh. I try to learn something from every author I've read.

TQDescribe The Shards of Heaven in 140 characters or less.

Michael:  It is history and fantasy colliding at the rise of the Roman Empire as Caesar's children fight to control the artifacts of gods old and new.

TQTell us something about The Shards of Heaven that is not found in the book description.

Michael:  At its core, this novel is about fashioning a reality from the fog of mythology. I have long been fascinated by the similarities between various legends of the ancient world, and so I tried to find a hidden thread that would bind them all together into a historical adventure that's part Indiana Jones and part Game of Thrones.

As an added bonus, if you liked Pullo and Vorenus from the HBO series 'Rome', I'm pleased to say that they ride again in this book.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Shards of Heaven? What appeals to you about writing Historical Fantasy?

MichaelThe Shards of Heaven is actually the backstory for another Historical Fantasy I started writing years ago. It grew so intricate and interesting that I realized it simply needed to be told on its own merit.

As for my interest in Historical Fantasy, it really stems from my interest in both worlds: I was trained as a historian, but I've always loved the fantastic. Like J.R.R. Tolkien, another professor of medieval literature who wrote his fantasies in his spare time, I have simply grown fascinated with the holes in our knowledge about the past, and the exciting tapestries we can weave through them.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Shards of Heaven?

Michael:  Given the strong historical element, I write with stacks of research at hand: whether that constitutes the tactics of a battle, the archaeological remains of a temple, or the technological workings of ancient armor, I need to know everything I can about my topic. My hope is that this knowledge base doesn't overwhelm the story but instead quietly percolates under its surface, making it all the more real.

Plus, I think it will lead to some surprises when those who know the history come across the various Easter eggs I've slipped into the narrative.

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

Michael:  The easiest point-of-view character for me was Didymus, the chief librarian of the Great Library in Alexandria. He's a polymath, and while I wouldn't call myself that I do recognize the thirst he has for knowledge. He needs to know, and that need runs so deep it can be all-consuming. For better or worse, I never had any problem facing the question of what someone like that would do or say.

Far more difficult for me at the beginning was the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Cleopatra Selene. She's a headstrong little girl in the novel -- something I have no experience being! -- but historically she grows up to become one of the most remarkable rulers of her age. It was hard to get that balance right at first, but as I'm writing her in the sequels I'm finding she's one of my favorite characters to engage. I hope readers will adore her as much as I do.

TQPlease tell us a bit about the historical Juba II on which your character is based.

Michael:  Juba II, like Cleopatra Selene, is an amazing historical figure who should be far better known. His father, the king of Numidia, fought against Julius Caesar and ultimately chose suicide over being paraded through Rome in Caesar's Triumph. Young Juba was taken into Caesar's household as an adopted son -- an act intended to demonstrate his mercy. Add into this potent background his ethnic separation from the Romans surrounding him and the passionate intellectualism that ruled his life, and you could hardly ask for a more fascinating figure to build a story around.

For more about what he does, and the power he learns to wield, read the book!

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


Q: In your book, several of your characters decide that God is dead. Do you anticipate any hate mail from that?

A: I don't think that's a terribly shocking thing for my characters to conclude, but if it does bother anyone, I hope they don't write me about it. I hope instead they purchase boxes and boxes of my books and burn them. On live TV. You simply can't buy that kind of publicity.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Shards of Heaven.

Michael:  My favorite passage is this:

Like a sudden exhalation, matched with an echoing boom that reverberated in Vorenus' chest, the rain came back against them, stinging like a thousand tiny arrows.

And behind the rain came the roar of an angry god.

TQWhat's next?

Michael:  I'm polishing off The Temples of the Ark right now, which is the sequel to The Shards of Heaven. It is scheduled for release in November of 2016. The adventure of the Shards, I'm happy to say, is just getting started!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Michael:  Thank you for having me. Happy reading, everyone!

The Shards of Heaven
The Shards of Heaven 1
Tor Books, November 24, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Michael Livingston, author of The Shards of Heaven
Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar's ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar's legacy. As civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may shape the course of history.

Juba, Numidian prince and adopted brother of Octavian, has embarked on a ruthless quest for the Shards of Heaven, lost treasures said to possess the very power of the gods-or the one God. Driven by vengeance, Juba has already attained the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which may also be the staff once wielded by Moses. Now he will stop at nothing to obtain the other Shards, even if it means burning the entire world to the ground.

Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves . . . and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.

Michael Livingston's The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.

About Michael

Interview with Michael Livingston, author of The Shards of Heaven
MICHAEL LIVINGSTON holds degrees in history, medieval studies, and English. He is an Associate Professor of English at the Citadel, specializing in the Middle Ages. His short fiction has been published in Black Gate, Shimmer, Paradox, and Nature.
  ~   Twitter @MedievalGuy

Interview with Michael Livingston, author of The Shards of Heaven

Interview with Michelle Hauck, author of Grudging

Please welcome Michelle Hauck to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Grudging is published in digital format on November 17th by Harper Voyager Impulse. On December 22nd, the Mass Market Paperback of Grudging will be published. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Michelle a Happy Digital Publication Day!

Interview with Michelle Hauck, author of Grudging

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

Michelle:  Hi! Thanks for having me on The Qwillery! I started writing about five years ago after a semi-serious illness. Once that health problem healed, it’s like my life and imagination came flooding back that had been missing for years. All of a sudden I had all these ideas. My husband said why not write them down (not that he imagined it would ever get this far), and I spent the next years learning how to do that. I think for writers you are always learning more.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Michelle:  If you’re talking never write anything down beforehand and never making any outline, then I’m a complete pantser. I do, however, have very basic plot structures in my head, sort of like a midway point direction I’m aiming to reach with the story. I almost never have any ending in mind and rarely much besides a basic concept. The rest all evolves as I go along. I’m often surprised by characters who were supposed to be tiny instead taking on a life of their own and getting their own perspective. It’s also neat when a small detail you included on a whim can become a plot point down the road.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Michelle:  I write very slowly. I often hear of writers churning out a book in a few months and feel some envy. I wish I could be speedy and finish a book faster. It takes the better part of a year, probably because I conceptualize as I go. Though, I have to say what I end up with is usually very close to the finished draft. Taking so long does mean that it’s not a rough draft, but a fairly polished one, which saves a lot on time in the editing process.

TQYou've written YA Epic Fantasy. What are the differences for you in writing adult versus YA Epic Fantasy?

Michelle:  Tone and voice are a big part of the difference. Also, the audience you have in mind as you write. Adult characters have a lot less to do with the story in a YA. That was my goal with Grudging. Unfortunately, pantser. The adult characters in Grudging took on a life of their own and my YA ending up selling to an adult publisher in Harper Voyager. So there’s a lot for both age categories in Grudging. You have the main characters being teens, but several perspectives from adult characters with adult voices.

TQDescribe Grudging in 140 characters or less.

Michelle:  I’m a big fan of twitter. Lemme see?

Enormous army. Desperate city. Father sends his sons for help from traditional enemy. Will the witches' voice magic save or destroy? #honor

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

Michelle:  There’s so much about this book that isn’t in the description. Despite the dark tone and themes, the characters have a real playful side. They kept breaking out into jokes and banter, and I couldn’t seem to stop them. I guess that’s how you know you’re really feeling the characters—when they do as they please.

In many ways the story is about a family and honor. Julian, the father, is the mayor. He sends his sons, Salvador and Ramiro, to find a witch to save the city. Most of the scenes involve at least one member of this family.

In this society I created, becoming a “man” is important and it takes the form of earning your beard. So the way they wear their beards is a way to express personality, much like today with tattoos. Watch for that and it will tell you more about the characters.

And there is a whole side plot about loyalty involving some pretty special horses.

TQWhat inspired you to write Grudging? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Michelle:  The truth is I had finished a project and needed a new idea and found it in a song: “Come Along” by Vicci Martinez and Cee-Lo Green. Most of the main plot ideas come from lines in that song. Friends, foes, God only knows, led to the title, Grudging, and the main theme of uncertainty between traditional enemies. Trespassing, this is their land is the arrival of the Northern army. Truthfully, that’s the first time I ever used a song for inspiration.

Fantasy has always been my obsession. It’s the only thing I will ever write, I think. I love the freedom to explore so much because any situation you can dream up, you can do in fantasy. This genre just gives you so much room to explore and create and build not only characters, but whole worlds and societies. And you don’t have to have just one. Grudging has multiple societies and explores the way that those clash.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Grudging?

Michelle:  The main society in Grudging is based on Spain. I did a lot of online research on medieval Spain: what they ate, what their houses might look like, the sort of names they might use. I also studied much more about early saints in the Catholic Church and based most of the details on real saints. I looked at pictures of armor.

But I also visited the desert in Tucson to get the setting and see the real plants and animals that live in that environment. There’s nothing like feeling the weather firsthand. ☺ I went to a Mission-built cathedral in Arizona and used that for my description of the church in Grudging. So some parts of the world in Grudging is built on reality, but most of it came from my imagination. It’s great you can do that in a fantasy world.

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

Michelle:  They were all easy at times and incredibly stubborn at others. I think it depended on the day. But my easiest and hardest characters to write turned out to be secondary characters. There’s a priest called Father Telo who started as a detail and grew to an important role and his own point of view—totally unplanned. He could be hard to write because I had to research his words more as he was a priest. How would a priest react to this? What sort of platitudes would he say? That’s pretty far out of my comfort zone.

Ramiro’s mother Beatriz was very fun to write and probably the easiest, because she just said things. She blurted out truths. They say there’s a little of the author in every character and that’s so true. Beatriz is a little flaky, yet so full of heart. I think readers will be drawn to her perhaps most.

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

Michelle:  You mean besides where can I buy it and how soon will it be a major motion picture? Hmm. Tough one.

Part of the story takes place in the desert and the other part in a swamp. A character has a close encounter with quicksand. Did you ever experience quicksand for yourself?

Why no. I can’t say as I did that research first hand. That came from watching the process on tv and staying well away.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Grudging.

Michelle:  How about two quotes from the mothers of the main characters.

Beatriz the hero’s mother says this: “But what does one pack to venture into a swamp and meet with a witch?” I think that’s a question we all should ask when we get up in the morning.

On the other side of the equation, we should hear from the mother of a witch. “Everything in nature is given for a purpose. The wolf doesn’t kill for sport. The blackbird doesn’t fly for show. We don’t use magic except to defend.” Keep that in mind when you suddenly find you have the ability to use magic.

TQWhat's next?

Michelle:  What’s next for a few years will be writing the rest of the Birth of Saints trilogy. The second is tentatively titled Faithful. Of course things get considerably worse for the characters. The description of what makes an enemy will get skewed and a little fuzzy. There might be some romance. Out of the chaos, a saint will be born to save them all. Or perhaps destroy, because pantser. ☺

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Michelle:  Thank you for inviting me! That was a lot of fun answering questions and being able to ramble on about my favorite subject—myself writing.

Birth of Saints 1
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 17, 2015
eBook, 432 pages
Mass Market Paperback, December 22, 2015

Interview with Michelle Hauck, author of Grudging
A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power.  And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

About Michelle

Interview with Michelle Hauck, author of Grudging
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly the writer contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints Series from Harper Voyager starts with GRUDGING on November 17, 2015. Her epic fantasy, KINDAR’S CURE, was published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was published by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer's Double Edge. Elephant’s Bookshelf Press also published another of her short stories, The Unfinished Task, in their winter anthology, Winter’s Regret. She’s represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

Twitter: @Michelle4Laughs
Blog: Michelle4Laughs: It’s in the Details
Facebook: Michelle Hauck, Author
Goodreads: Grudging
Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure
Tumblr: Michelle4Laughs

Interview with Patrick S. Tomlinson, author of The Ark

Please welcome Patrick S. Tomlinson to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ark was published on November 3rd by Angry Robot Books.

Interview with Patrick S. Tomlinson, author of The Ark

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

Patrick:  I wish to say upfront that I’m only answering these questions because unnamed persons at The Qwillery are holding my dachshund hostage. I started writing in 2009 when I was horrified to discover just how much time each day I was spending not being rich and famous.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Patrick:  We really need another word for a writer who doesn’t use an outline. “Pantser” sounds just a little too indecent exposure-y. Anyway, I started out writing on instinct, but as I’ve come along, an outline has become an increasingly important tool for me. A good outline gives me direction, lets me spot problems in the plot before they force a big rewrite, and drastically increases my daily word count. But at the same time, I’m not a slave to them. Typically, my outlines run about ten chapters ahead of wherever I’m at in the WIP at any given time. Fewer than that and I pause to push it out a few more chapters to keep the story on course. THE ARK is the first book I wrote this way, and I finished the rough draft in six months, which was months faster than the other two novel length works I’d completed previously.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Patrick:  Watching the success of my friends and colleagues. Gods, how I loathe them.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Patrick:  It’s a long list. Douglas Adams is why I started writing. My first novel began life as Hitchhiker’s Guide fanfic, because I was so upset over how the last book ended that I sat down to write a sixth. That one has since been massively rewritten and is now in the hands of my agent. Additionally, the satirical brilliance of Terry Pratchett has provided a nice warm little home for my sense of humor for many years. I can’t stop reading David Weber’s Honorverse books for military sci-fi. I think that Walter John Williams’ Praxis trilogy is the best space opera written in the last twenty years, with apologies to Ann Leckie’s excellent Ancillary cycle. Ramez Naam’s Nexus trilogy has been hugely impactful on the way I think about near-term futurism. I’m also a big fan of John Scalzi’s breezy character building and his plot pacing. I eat those books up.

TQDescribe The Ark in 140 characters or less.

Patrick:  THE ARK is a murder mystery set on a generation ship one month from reaching its destination. A “Sealed Airlock” thriller, to coin a phrase.

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

Patrick:  The people living onboard are part of the most invasive and controlling surveillance state ever conceived. Their every movement is logged and tracked. Everything they consume and recycle is relentlessly monitored. Yet inside the modules, they are self-governing. The surveillance state exists with their full knowledge and consent, and is generally viewed as critical for both survival and basic fairness. Which, in a very real sense inside the delicate balance of an artificial environment, it is.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Ark?  What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Patrick:  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea and the promise of generation ships. Realistically, if we’re going to send actual meat-bag humans to other star systems, generation ships are how we’ll do it. I was watching a show on Discovery channel, (I’m pretty sure) about all the hurdles to building one. But then I started thinking about what could motivate mankind to actually do it. Then what happens during the trip to change the nature of the society aboard. Then what happened on the other side. A story emerged quickly after that. Then I started making doodles of what the ship would look like and it was all over.

Science Fiction holds a special appeal for me because it requires so many different disciplines of story-telling. Not only do you have to create believable characters, but the entire world and society that they inhabit. And unlike pure fantasy, it has to have a level of internal consistency and scientific plausibility, which requires a whole other base of knowledge. Writing sci-fi forces us to walk on this weird tightrope of imaginative freedom and scientific constrictions. It’s fun finding the balance and trying to do it with narrative flare.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ark?

Patrick:  All kinds. From a plausible propulsion system based on existing technology, to acreage requirements for food production, to a safe number of people to ensure genetic diversity. The size and design of the Ark itself was entirely driven by the scientific requirements of moving fifty-thousand people twelve lightyears. The story and characters were then placed inside that artificial environment and allowed to develop organically.

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

Patrick:  There’s one character in particular, the museum curator, Devorah Feynman. She’s this tiny old lady, but is an absolute holy terror with a one-track mind and a sharp wit. I loved writing her. She’s just the star of every scene she’s in.

The hardest was definitely the main character’s love interest, Theresa Alexopoulos. I had real trouble trying to balance her role as Bryan Benson’s secret girlfriend and subordinate, while making her the strong and independent character I’d envisioned her to be. However, she’s promoted to a POV character in the next book in the series, TRIDENT’S FORGE, and I feel like she gets the attention and development there she deserves.

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


Q) Could we really make a giant starship that moves by pooping out atomic bombs?

A) Yes! We really could! Indeed, the idea has existed since the 1950’s. A variety of different organizations pursued the technology under the label Project Orion, including the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and even the British. We even built a technology demonstrator that used conventional explosives. You can find the clip on YouTube. We only abandoned the concept as a result of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was some hippie crap about not detonating thermonuclear weapons in the atmosphere. Boo, hippies, boooooo!

Indeed, the reason the Ark was designed as a Project Orion ship is because it’s the only proposal to facilitate interstellar travel we have that could realistically be scaled up with existing or near term technology. Since the disaster that convinces humankind to build the ship is discovered less than a hundred years from now, I didn’t want it using some far-future tech like an Alcubierre drive that might be possible someday. I wanted something that, if our backs were against the wall, we could start building today. And we have all these nukes lying around not doing anything…

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines/paragraph from The Ark.

Patrick:  [Bryan Benson and curator Devorah Feynman viewing the gun that killed Arch Duke Ferdinand in Sarajevo]

“Is it dangerous?”
“Are you kidding? The last time some idiot got his hands on it, sixteen million people died. Then they did it all over again a couple decades later and thirty million people died. This gun shaped world affairs for an entire century.”
“Can I hold it?”
“Don’t press your luck, detective.”

TQWhat's next?

Patrick:  Well, next up immediately is another round of rewrites for the second book in the series, TRIDENT’S FORGE. It’s a very different book from THE ARK, less murder mystery and more action- adventure with some frontier survival thrown in for good measure. I’m already happy with it, but there are some spots that need to be fleshed out so readers have an easier time accessing what was in my head while it was being written.

But after that, the real fun starts. In addition to writing sci-fi full time, I’m also busy developing my career as a stand-up comedian. The very first novel I wrote, which I mentioned earlier, was a sci-fi comedy in the tradition of Adams and Pratchett. I’ve just finished rewriting it after four years away and have submitted it to my agent. If that thing gets the green light, look out. I’ve got synopses ready for the next five books in that series.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Patrick:  Whatever. I did your damned interview. Now give me back my dog, you monsters.

Note from unnamed persons at The Qwillery: No dog or author was harmed in the making of this interview though it was touch and go about the author for a while.

The Ark
Children of the Dead Earth 1
Angry Robot, November 3, 2015
     (North American Print and eBook)
November 5, 2015 (UK print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Patrick S. Tomlinson, author of The Ark
Humankind has escaped a dying Earth and set out to find a new home among the stars aboard an immense generation spaceship, affectionately named the Ark. Bryan Benson is the Ark’s greatest living sports hero, enjoying retirement working as a detective in Avalon, his home module. The hours are good, the work is easy, and the perks can’t be beat.

But when a crew member goes missing, Benson is thrust into the centre of an ever-expanding web of deception, secrets, and violence that overturns everything he knows about living on the Ark and threatens everyone aboard. As the last remnants of humanity hurtle towards their salvation, Benson finds himself in a desperate race to unravel the conspiracy before a madman turns mankind’s home into its tomb.

File UnderScience Fiction [ Last Gun in the Universe / We’re Not Alone / Poison and Nukes / Race to the End ]

About Patrick

Interview with Patrick S. Tomlinson, author of The Ark
Patrick S. Tomlinson is the son of an ex-hippie psychologist and an ex-cowboy electrician. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a menagerie of houseplants in varying levels of health, a Ford Mustang, and a Triumph motorcycle bought specifically to embarrass and infuriate Harley riders.

When not writing sci-fi and fantasy novels and short stories, Patrick is busy developing his other passion for performing stand-up comedy.

You can find Patrick online at his website:, on Twitter @stealthygeek and on Facebook.

Interview with M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl with Ghost Eyes

Please welcome M. H. Boroson to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Girl with Ghost Eyes was published on November 3rd by Talos Press.

Interview with M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl with Ghost Eyes

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

M.H.B.:  I always wrote. Poems and letters when I was a child. I was the kind of kid who had pen pals all over the world. I only started writing fiction in 2010, after I had my Great Big Idea.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

M.H.B.:  I plot a detailed outline so I can write by the seat of my pants.

I know what's going to happen next, so my imagination can focus on surprising me with emotions and images, making *this* moment vivid and powerful, fleshing out the characters in ways I didn't expect.For me, a detailed plot allows me to focus more creative energy into my storytelling rather than the sequence of events.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

M.H.B.:  Perfectionism. It's also one of my sources of strength. Perfectionism drives my research to be top-notch, the details thorough, the language riveting, the plotting edge-of-your-seat. It also paralyzes me with indecision and leaves me second-guessing all my choices.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

M.H.B.:  There were three primary inspirations behind The Girl with Ghost Eyes.

1. Huang Ying (黄鹰). His horror-fantasy novels have never been translated into English. His most famous story was adapted into the movie Mr. Vampire. Huang drew on traditional Chinese ghost lore in order to create a Chinese alternative to the Universal Studios monster movies. He created a delightful and gruesome mythos with a great sense of spooky comedy.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The tv series showed me that genre stories could be so much bigger than I'd realized.They could be subversive, empowering, and feminist, while still telling a kick-ass story. They could have profound meanings; they could bring laughter and tears. The raw emotion behind some of the twists is still stunning to me.

3. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, by Maxine Hong Kingston. The book makes use of Chinese ghost stories to explore the nature of growing up Chinese and female in America. Some of the language is spectacular.

Other inspirations include:

* Jim Butcher's Dresden Files
* Iris Chang's The Chinese in America
* Charles de Lint's Newford
* Neil Gaiman's Sandman
* Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee
* Lisa See's On Gold Mountain

And also Hayao Miyazaki's movie, Spirited Away.

TQ Describe The Girl with Ghost Eyes in 140 characters or less.

M.H.B.:  In 1898 a Daoist priestess protects Chinatown from Asian ghosts and demons. The story is full of history, fantasy, and Chinese culture.

TQ Tell us something about The Girl with Ghost Eyes that is not found in the book description.

M.H.B.The Girl with Ghost Eyes is intended as the first novel in an ongoing series. The scope is epic but (I hope) it remains personal.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Girl with Ghost Eyes? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

M.H.B.:  I had a Great Big Idea in 2010. The idea changed my life and set me down a road of discovery. The idea was:

What if someone combined Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior, and a film genre from Hong Kong called Spirit Magic Kung Fu?

I saw the potential for great stories --rip-roaring, stay-up-all-night-to-finish-reading stories -- and it would also be intersectionally feminist. It would have amazing fantasy images on the surface and deeper hidden meanings. It would be an extended love letter to Chinese folklore, spiritualities, and cinema.

I'd studied Mandarin, so I was able to draw from primary sources and bring a wealth of detail -- accurate depictions of magic and monsters that had never been written about in the English language.

Fantasy fiction is a big tent. It can contain awesomeness and explosions, like The Dresden Files; it can be rich,meaningful, and literary, like China Mieville, Maggie Stiefvater, and Tanith Lee. It can contain social observations and delve deep into the religious imaginations of other cultures, like The Girl with Ghost Eyes.

TQWhy did you set The Girl with Ghost Eyes in San Francisco?

M.H.B.:  San Francisco at the end of the Nineteenth Century is a place of fog and cobblestone streets. It's like the setting of a gaslamp fantasy, with seagulls instead of blackbirds. A Chinese ethnic enclave struggles to coexist with the culture outside; laborers work hard, illegal organizations entertain the cultural outsiders, bigots chant "The Chinese must go," Christian missionaries try to teach immigrants the error of their ways, constables patrol the streets, and freed slaves compete for jobs.There's so much conflict there. So many stories. So much potential for drama.

Setting the stories in San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century allowed me to place Li-lin at the crux of many conflicts: male/female, tradition/change, father/daughter, culture/assimilation, Chinese/American. And that simply rocks.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Girl with Ghost Eyes?

M.H.B.:  I interviewed over a hundred Chinese and Chinese American people, asking them to tell me stories about ghosts, demons, Daoist priests, superstitions, folktales, and the afterlife, as well as stories about immigration, assimilation, gender roles, family, class struggles, and inter-generational conflict.

I bought Daoist manuscripts so I could study them. I also studied paper talismans and divination methods. I corresponded with contemporary Daoist priests.

Three semi-modern books of Chinese ghost stories provided me with a great deal of material: Pu Songling's Tales from the Liaozhai, Ji Xiaolan's Straw Hut Notes, and Yuan Mei's What Confucius Omitted. I took detailed notes on these books.

I went further back and took notes on ancient texts like the Shan Hai Jing (Classic of Mountains and Seas), The Investiture of the Gods, and Journey to the West.

I watched hundreds of movies like Mr.Vampire, A Chinese Ghost Story, and Green Snake.

I studied history texts and19th-Century newspapers to learn what life was like at the time and place ofthis story.

In all, I took sixty thousand pages of notes. Yep: 60,000 pages of notes.

TQ Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

M.H.B.:  The protagonist, Li-lin, was easy to write. I had placed so much of my imagination into listening to the accounts of people like her; she flowed into the story.

Her father was much harder. Li-lin herself doesn't understand him, so I needed to give his actions an internal logic which would be true to him and yet mystifying to his daughter.

TQWhich question about The Girl with Ghost Eyes do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

M.H.B.:  "What makes the story relevant in today's world?"

I'm glad you asked that! First let's stop a moment and think about vampires. We mined them for horror until they weren’t scary anymore. Then we mined them for erotica until they weren’t sexy anymore.Everyone has gotten tired of vampires and werewolves. Western folklore is exhausted. It’s time to explore fresh myths and images.

In the world of The Girl with Ghost Eyes, men marry ghosts, household objects come to life after a hundred years, corpse-walkers lead dead men on journeys, and burnt paper offerings become real objects in the afterlife. Readers will discover symbols they’ve never seen before. The resonant marvels of an entire civilization are waiting.

As I researched the history, as the stories took shape, I realized that these historical conflicts remain relevant to this day. The struggles of immigrants are timeless and universal. Xenophobia still shapes our discourse around “illegals.” The Chinese Exclusion Laws and the Geary Act echo in the controversy over California’s Prop 187. The Tong Wars provide insight into both small-scale gang violence and large-scale organized crime, which are still part of our society. Again and again, the events of this time and place in history have been re-enacted in today’s headlines. Again and again, the events of this period give us a lens to understand our world better.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Girl with Ghost Eyes.


The Pace of Yu would allow me to wander the three realms. I stamped the floor hard with one foot, and dragged the other. I danced the broken, halting steps of Yu the Great, who beat back the floods. Singing, stamping, and dragging, I danced as Yu, who could transform himself into a bear, yet walked with a limp. Yu the king, the sorcerer, nearly a god, who slew the beast with nine heads. His power cascading through me, I danced the same series of limping steps over and over, making intricate magical gestures with my hands.


There was an uncanny beauty to the spirit side of Chinatown, lit by perpetual moonlight, but brighter and more golden than the moon looks from the world of the living. Beautiful and eerie,the world of spirits would be a terrible place to spend eternity; unable to enter the cycle of birth and death and birth again, yet unable to establish a home in the lands of the dead.

TQWhat's next?

M.H.B.:  A lot, I hope.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

M.H.B.:  Thank you for inviting me!

The Girl with Ghost Eyes
Talos Press, November 3, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

Interview with M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl with Ghost Eyes
It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

About M. H. Boroson

Interview with M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl with Ghost Eyes
M. H. Boroson was obsessed with two things as a young man: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and kung fu movies. He has studied Chinese religion at Naropa University and the University of Colorado and now lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and three cats. The Girl with Ghost Eyes is his first novel.

Twitter @MHBoroson

The Girl with Ghost Eyes Blog


Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There

Please welcome Joshua V. Scher to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Here & There was published on November 1st by 47North.

Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There

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

Joshua:  Second grade, my buddy, Pando Eder, and I would sneak into his mom’s study to use her typewriter and write Snoopy fan fiction. Why… I guess because I had these nagging ideas about what the Peanuts gang was up to when it wasn’t Halloween or Christmas.

TQAre you a plotter, pantser or a hybrid?

Joshua:  I’m not quite sure what a pantser is (probably not what I’m imagining), but I’m definitely a plotter. At least in broad strokes. I like to know where I’m going. It can and often does change along the way, but I have a target in mind.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Joshua:  Overcoming that feeling every day that I’ve forgotten how to write. Also spelling. At one point, Microsoft Word actually issued an error message saying there were too many errors in Here & There and it could no longer continue spell checking.

TQYou are also a playwright. How has this affected (or not) your novel writing?

Joshua:  It made me keenly aware of dialogue, how it flows and sounds. As much as I like Faulkner, my characters don’t talk in 30 page monologues. Except to themselves. That’s been the fun part in delving into prose, being able to unshackle a characters chain of thoughts. On stage, you can only do that in very short bursts (see Hamlet).

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Joshua:  I think most writers probably have a two-column list for this, a long-term one and a more current one. Long term: Borges, Nabokov, Hammett, Faulkner, Chandler, Pynchon, Vonnegut. Current: Murakami, Atwood, Elroy, Danielewsky, Kundera, the Coen brothers (yes I consider them literary).

TQDescribe Here & There in 140 characters or less.

Joshua:  Love, loss, longing, and teleportation.

TQTell us something about Here & There that is not found in the book description.

Joshua:  It’s told through a series of journal entries, video transcripts, and government correspondences.

TQWhat inspired you to write Here & There? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Joshua:  I came up with the idea while reading Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Science fiction is a fantastic way to unpack our humanity with What if scenarios. It provides the freedom to explore big questions about the human condition without the constraints of the mundane. I mean, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep isn’t about Replicants, it’s about us. Who are we? What makes us human? What defines a soul?

AND with Sci-Fi we also get to sort of run probability scenarios about where we’re headed. Almost all Sci-Fi is less about some future and more about what’s going on in our society now and where it will take us.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Here & There?

Joshua:  Oh my god, so much. I had to really get into quantum physics and all the real, current, impressive work being done with teleportation on a subatomic level. Quantum cryptography and “normal” cryptography too. I also had to brush up on my singularity knowledge and even get a little into string theory. All the physics that made it past the redaction filters is real and accurate (at least to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing it).

I dug into a bunch of philosophy as well, Hume, Heidegger, Kierkegaard...

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

Joshua:  Danny was the easiest. His wiseacre tone just kind of flowed. There’s a strong sarcasm gene in my family.

Eve was the hardest. She speaks French. I don’t.

TQWhich question about Here & There do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Joshua:  How close are we to achieving teleportation?

Well, just last week a bunch of physicists over at the National Institute of Standards and Technology destroyed the distance record for quantum teleportation, transferring quantum information over 100km.

But as shown in Here & There, they are still way behind Dr. Reidier’s achievements.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Here & There.

Joshua:  In choosing between fact and fiction, it is the fiction that will always reveal more.
Men prefer myth to truth.

My bedroom ceiling fan is spreading rumors about me.

TQWhat's next?

Joshua:  My film, I’m OK, a coming-of-age story in the post-apocalypse, will be released in 2016.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Here & There
47North, November 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 587 pages

Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There
It was supposed to be a simple proof of concept. The physics were sound. Over one hundred teleportation experiments had already been successfully performed...

Debate rages over whether the Reidier Test’s disastrous outcome resulted from human error, government conspiracy, or sabotage. No one has actual knowledge of the truth. But hidden from the public eye, there exists a government report commissioned from criminal psychologist Dr. Hilary Kahn, chronicling the events that took place.

Dr. Kahn disappeared without a trace.

Now her son Danny has unearthed and revealed the report, fueling controversy over the details of Reidier’s quest to reforge the fabric of reality and hold his family together. Exposed with little chance of finding his mother, Danny goes underground to investigate. But nothing can prepare him for what he discovers.

In this thrilling saga, a paradigm-shattering feat may alter humanity’s future as quantum entanglement and teleportation collide.

About Joshua

Interview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & There
Joshua V. Scher is a recent transplant from New York City to the Hollywood hills, where he is continuing his transition from writing for the stage to the screen, both theatrical and television. His film, I’m OK, is in postproduction and slated for a festival run in 2016. The cinematic adaptation of his play The Footage was developed by Pressman Film. Scher collaborated with Joe Frazier and Penny Marshall’s Parkway Productions on the Joe Frazier biopic Behind the Smoke. He also worked with Danny Glover and Louverture Films on Scher’s original TV pilot, Jigsaw. His works for the stage include Marvel, Flushed, and Velvet Ropes, as well as the musical Triangle. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in creative writing from Brown University and a master of fine arts degree in playwriting from Yale University. This is his first novel.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @joshuascher

Interview with Paul Meloy, author of The Night Clock

Please welcome Paul Meloy to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Night Clock was published on November 3rd (US/Canada) by Solaris will be published on November 5th in the UK.

Interview with Paul Meloy, author of  The Night Clock

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

Paul:  I’m delighted to be here. Thanks for inviting me. I started writing fiction as a child, on an old manual typewriter my dad brought home from work along with a ream of thin yellow packing paper. The typewriter was as heavy as a car engine and smelt of ink and oil and I fell in love with it. I was an only child, and also a rather insular, introverted one, and I spent much of my time alone. I was also a voracious reader. This might sound a bit tragic, but I wanted to have adventures with friends of my own, so I started writing stories – and the odd epic poem – which consumed me and let me get lost in another, less restrictive world.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Paul:  Foursquare pantser. I start with characters, the sketch of a scene, a POV and go from there. I have ideas about where some things might go, or a scene I know needs to be later, or perhaps climactic, but I never plot. It interferes with the organic structure of the story, which could effectively go anywhere. If I can surprise myself then I guess I’m surprising anyone else who reads it. I trust the process entirely.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Paul:  Waiting for the process to happen. It can lead to long periods of inactivity but the end result, the subconscious epiphany, is always so much more satisfying than trying to force a scene. I doubt I’ll ever make a living at this. I’d have to sack myself.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Paul:  The first adult book I read was The Rats. I’d never read horror before but I was about twelve (the same age as my son is now, and he watches The Walking Dead and reads Stephen King) and the experience was secretive and very thrilling, definitely coming-of-age stuff. I had my first erotic experience a year or so later with the girl next door and a copy of The Fog, but I can’t talk about that. The scene where the rats attack the school is probably the scene that made me decide, that’s it, I want to be a writer. It can still be read out of context of the rest of the book and have the same effect on me. Again, it was one of those perfect moments that caused doors to open and servers to click over in my mind at just the right age and time of development. Later came Masterton, King, Bradbury, Barker, Iain Banks, Ramsey Campbell et al. All big hitters with unique, inspiring voices. These I read for entertainment, for involvement and distraction, but I have to say the one writer that did that thing, made the transition from author behind the page to personal inspiration and hero status, was Harlan Ellison. Not only were his stories unlike anything I had ever read before, his voice spoke directly to the angry and confused boy I was and the writer I wanted to become. He showed me how it should be done, and the attitude to have when doing it.

TQDescribe The Night Clock in 140 characters or less.

Paul:  A psychiatric nurse has a shitty day. His patients are killing themselves. He meets a mysterious man who tells him he’s part of a bigger picture. They fight monsters.

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

Paul:  It’s hard to write a synopsis in 140 words or less. That isn’t crap. Not sure I’ve met the remit. Also, what you don’t realise is that most of the characters appear in other stories I’ve written over the years, so they all have their own back stories which can be read to enhance the experience of the novel. It’s not necessary, but I hope it might be rewarding and fun to track them down.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Night Clock? What appeals to you about writing horror?

Paul:  Having written about all these characters set in the world of The Quays, Autoscopes and Firmament Surgeons, Gantries and Toyceivers, over about twenty years, I always had the idea of pulling it all together and having them meet in a kind of epic battle. I started The Night Clock with a novella in mind, but I strapped a pair on and went novel-side. I like writing horror because it can be shocking, exciting, surreal and can generate scenes that stay in the reader’s mind. I try to write with care, and I don’t like anything cruel or sadistic, or transgressive for the sake of it.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Night Clock?

Paul:  I read up on steam trains, hay-balers, community support officer training and glass blowing. No spoilers there, I hope.

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

Paul:  I loved writing about Rob. There’s something about him I recognise in myself, even more so than the main character, Phil Trevena, who is, like me, a psychiatric nurse in his late forties with the odd inner conflict. I think they are the two sides of me. The one who is hanging on, trying to be decent, and the one who’s gone, fuck it, I don’t care any more. Where’s the economy cider?

The most difficult character is Daniel. Not because he is less easy to develop than the others, but because his struggle is so real, and he is a very damaged man, and I really wanted to get that right without any sentimentality.

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

Paul:  Would you like to sell the film rights, Paul? Yes, please, Mr. Del Toro.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines/paragraphs from The Night Clock.


       Gollick had had a sister, Rob remembered. Barbara Gollick. She was a year below them at school but she was a big girl. Well, fat really. And very moley. Molier than Duncton Wood, to be perfectly honest. She wasn’t unpleasant at all, in fact she was quite a cheery thing and she used to hang about outside their prefabricated classroom at the top of the playground during breaks so she could spend time with her brother. She mortified Gollick by her very existence but he’d try and be nice to her. Unfortunately, with their innate abhorrence of lack of appeal in other children, their tyrannous misgivings towards any blemishes, pongs or impediments, the rest of the children – Rob included – found themselves bullying the poor girl. It was like they couldn’t help it. And of course, Gollick got it in the neck, too, just for being her brother, and when he tried to defend her, well, he was finished, really. Rob’s shoulders slumped at the memory of things he’d said, and heard said. Old moley, and fat old moley. Inspired combinations like that.

Dr Natus was removed from his mother’s teratogenic womb on the sixteenth of February 1953. He told Daniel this the night he found him in the back of the cupboard. He told Daniel his father was Berlyn Brixner, head photographer for the Trinity test, the first nuclear weapons test of an atomic bomb. Brixner had shown his mother a photograph of the first 0.016 seconds of the explosion, as the light bubble had inflated across the desert, and she had fallen immediately pregnant.

TQWhat's next?

Paul:  I’ve nearly finished the sequel to Night Clock. It’s called The Adornments of the Storm. I’m having another adventure with some old friends. I think it’s darker and more complex than Night Clock, but it’s still fun, I hope.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Paul:  Thanks for having me.

The Night Clock
Solaris, November 10, 2015 (US/Canada)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Paul Meloy, author of  The Night Clock
An incredible debut novel that will move and terrify you, as reality itself is threatened by a world just beyond our own.

And still the Night Clock ticks...

Phil Trevena’s boss is an idiot, his daughter is running wild, and his patients are killing themselves. There is something terrible growing in Phil that even his years as a mental health worker can’t explain - until he meets the enigmatic Daniel, and learns of the war for the minds of humanity that rages in Dark Time, the space between reality and nightmares measured by the Night Clock.

Drawn into the conflict, Phil and Daniel encounter the Firmament Surgeons, a brave and strange band that are all that prevents the nightmarish ranks of the Autoscopes overrunning us. The enemy is fuelled by a limitless hatred that could rip our reality apart. To end the war the darkness that dwells in the shadow of the Night Clock must be defeated...

Paul Meloy’s extraordinarily rich debut novel introduces us to a world just beyond our own, shattering our preconceptions about creativity and the human mind, and presenting us with a novel like no other.

About Paul

Paul Meloy was born in 1966 in South London. He is the author of Islington Crocodiles and Dogs with Their Eyes Shut, and the forthcoming collection Electric Breakfast. His work has been published in Black Static, Interzone and a variety of award winning anthologies. He lives in Devon with his family.

2015 Debut Author Challenge COVER OF THE YEAR Winner!Interview with Dana Chamblee Carpenter, author of Bohemian GospelInterview with Holly Messinger, author of The Curse of Jacob TracyInterview with F. Wesley Schneider, author of BloodboundInterview with Michael Livingston, author of The Shards of HeavenInterview with Michelle Hauck, author of GrudgingInterview with Patrick S. Tomlinson, author of The ArkInterview with M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl with Ghost EyesInterview with Joshua V. Scher, author of Here & ThereInterview with Paul Meloy, author of  The Night Clock

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?