The Qwillery | category: 2019 DAC Interview | (page 5 of 5)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine

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

Interview with Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine

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

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

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

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

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

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

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

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

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

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

TQDescribe Creation Machine using only 5 words.

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

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

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

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

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

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Creation Machine?

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

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Creation Machine.

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

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

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

TQDoes Creation Machine touch on any social issues?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And one from – someone else:

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

I assume I have a body somewhere.

TQWhat's next?

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

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Andrew:  It’s been my pleasure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Andrew

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

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @andrewbauthor

Interview with Leife Shallcross, author of The Beast's Heart

Please welcome Leife Shellcross to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Beast's Heart is published on February 12, 2019 by Ace.

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

Interview with Leife Shallcross, author of The Beast's Heart

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

Leife Shallcross: Somewhere in a box I have a story I wrote and illustrated when I was about six called The Princess and the Ghost. It involved hidden treasure. I first tried to write a novel when I was about 15 – that one never got finished, but I still have it, all in longhand in old exercise books left over from school.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

LS:  Definitely on the pantser end of the spectrum, but I’m finding it more and more useful to challenge myself to learn how to plot better.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

LS:  Ugh. Plotting. See previous answer. It’s the kind of thing that makes all my procrastination instincts kick in. But when I actually force myself to sit down and do it, I always end up enjoying it.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

LS:  Probably mostly the books I read during my formative years. I love stories where the world is so vibrant and immersive it becomes a character all on its own, and I love lush, descriptive language and understated, dry-as-bones humor. Authors who really inspired my love of story and language in my youth include Jane Austen, Tanith Lee, M M Kaye, Joan Aiken and Diana Wynne Jones. But then, there’s so many incredible authors writing today that continue to inspire me.

TQDescribe The Beast's Heart using only 5 words.

LS:  Enchanting, slow-burn, fairy tale romance. (I definitely didn’t cheat, hyphens are allowed.)

TQTell us something about The Beast's Heart that is not found in the book description.

LS:  In my tale, Beauty has two sisters and they get their own stories.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Beast's Heart? What attracted you to the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast?

LS:  Firstly, I love that Beauty and the Beast isn’t an insta-love story. They spend quite a lot of time getting to know each other before Beauty realizes she’s fallen in love with him, and I love a slow-burn romance. Secondly, I love the idea of the Beast’s enchanted castle being this magical hidden world at the heart of the forest. When I started writing this story, it was mostly a way of losing myself in a fairy tale and getting to hang out in a magical chateau with ensorcelled gardens. Pure self-indulgence.

TQDo you have any other favorite fairy tales?

LS:  This is like asking me to name my favorite kind of cake! There are so many delicious kinds! I am definitely partial to a Cinderella story. Catskin is one of my favorite variants on the theme, and if you want a stunning version of that, the Sapsorrow episode of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller TV series from the late 1980s is wonderful. Then there is a great Norwegian fairy tale called Tatterhood where the main character is a princess who slouches around in a ragged hood, rides a goat and beats up trolls with a wooden spoon for fun.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Beast's Heart?

LS:  So, so much! I’ve been intimately familiar with the fairy tale since I was a child, so my research was mostly about the setting I chose, being 17th Century France. It was lots of weird, bitsy stuff, like 17th Century cutlery, clothing, food, nutcrackers, wedding customs and French names. For example, forks were not really in common use in 17th Century Europe. They weren’t unheard of, just not common. So you won’t find any forks in The Beast’s Heart. I also had to do a bit of research on fireworks.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Beast's Heart.

LS:  I can’t tell you how much I love the cover. It makes me think of 17th Century tapestries, and the roses are so very fairy taleish. The artist is Lisa Perrin, and she has done a bunch of other book covers and quite a bit of illustration. Her work is so beautiful. I’m just thrilled and honored to have it on the cover of my story.


Insta: @madebyperrin

TQIn The Beast's Heart who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

LS:  The hardest character was definitely Isabeau (aka Beauty). Because it’s his story, I spent so much time in my Beast’s head and had to stop at one point and deliberately move out of that space to see the story from her point of view. She’s got an awful lot going on, but the story is so centered on the Beast, I found I hadn’t paid enough attention to her motivations and drivers and she was coming across as a bit of a cipher. The easiest character was probably Claude, the younger of my Beauty’s older sisters. She’s lovely, but she’s not a complicated person.

TQWhich question about The Beast's Heart do you wish someone would ask?

LS:  Question: Fanfic: yes or no?

LS: Dear God, yes! I have a kind of bingo list of author goals and that’s definitely on there. Having the privilege of someone enjoying my story world so much they write fanfic just so they can spend more time in it would just be too exciting.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Beast's Heart.


Quote 1: Enchantments and dreams: I suspect they are made of the same stuff. They each beguile the mind and confuse the senses with wonder and strangeness so all that was familiar becomes freakish, and the most bizarre of things intimate and natural.

Quote 2: There is always a way to break a curse.

TQWhat's next?

LS:  I’m working on another fairy-tale-themed story - this one is based on Cinderella, but my Cinderella has faked her father’s death in order to get him out of his disastrous second marriage and then she gets caught up in a nefarious plot that threatens the crown. I’m also working on a series set in 18th Century London with runaway heiresses and dissolute viscounts and magic and murder. Lots of fun.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Beast's Heart
Ace, February 12, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Leife Shallcross, author of The Beast's Heart
A luxuriously magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in seventeenth-century France–and told from the point of view of the Beast himself.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse . . .

About Leife

Interview with Leife Shallcross, author of The Beast's Heart
Leife Shallcross lives at the foot of a mountain in Canberra, Australia, with her family and a small, scruffy creature that snores. She is the author of several short stories, including "Pretty Jennie Greenteeth," which won the 2016 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story. The Beast's Heart is her first novel.

Find her online at,, Twitter: @leioss, and

Interview with Kevin A. Muñoz, author of The Post

Please welcome Kevin A. Muñoz to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Post was published on January 15, 2019 by Diversion Books.

Interview with Kevin A. Muñoz, author of The Post

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

Kevin:  The first fiction piece I remember writing and completing and actually making an effort at doing well was something I did in elementary school. We were supposed to write short stories - two hundred words or so, because we were kids - once a week, I think it was. Well, I couldn’t do that. So over the course of three months I ended up writing a twelve-part, twenty-four hundred word serialized Gothic short story about an old man living in a French castle suffering from loneliness and hallucinations. It did not go over well.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kevin:  I’m not sure how to describe my process. What I usually do is come up with a general idea, then a beginning and an ending. After that I go through my huge film soundtrack collection and put together a soundtrack of my novel, using that as inspiration to find the story beats and the spine of the plot. After that, I start writing, aiming for those beats in the soundtrack. I think I do it this way because I really hate writing outlines, but I also don’t like just winging it.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kevin:  The most challenging thing would probably be keeping my momentum up. I am a terrible procrastinator. I’ll start work on a new project, or a rewrite, and sail full steam ahead for a long while and then sort of sputter to a stop. After that, I get what I call “writer’s blah” and just can’t be bothered to keep writing. I’m not blocked, I have the ideas, I’m just... over it. Then I have to find my motivation again.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kevin:  Music is the biggest day to day influence on my writing. I can’t write without it. But more broadly, I think it would have to be my weird collection of life experiences. I’ve lived all over the U.S. and known all sorts of people and places. I try to paint with that eclectic palette as much as I can.

TQDescribe The Post using only 5 words.

Kevin:  The best quick synopsis I’ve seen is one I didn’t come up with: dystopian mystery thriller with zombies. I used to jokingly call the book my zombie detective novel, but that’s not really accurate, since there are no zombie detectives in it.

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

Kevin:  There is a revelation about halfway through the book that, I hope, will raise questions for readers about the kinds of assumptions they make when reading. To say much more than that would give it away, so I’ll leave it at that!

TQWhat inspired you to write The Post?

Kevin:  Most of my prior writing has been science fiction or fantasy. I’d never really taken a stab at the horror genre, or anything next door to it. The Post came about because I wanted to challenge myself and write a story that ignores some of the conventions and boundaries that usually go along with the genre.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Post?

Kevin:  I mainly did research in two areas. First was in virology, at least enough to let me achieve verisimilitude in how I portray the virus that leads to the apocalypse. There are outlandish elements to make the story work, but I tried to put in as much real biology as I could. The second was a bit more mundane, and involved writing with Google Maps open in a separate window. I made a concerted effort to ground the story in the real geography of Georgia, down to the silliest of details, like the angles of certain street corners in Athens.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Post.

Kevin:  The idea for the cover came from the publisher and I immediately loved it. They wanted to give the feel of a thriller, of emptiness and solitude and anxiety, and the artist did a fantastic job. There is a scene in the novel that matches up fairly well with the cover but it’s really more about a feeling, a sense of dread, that makes it the right cover for the book.

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

Kevin:  The easiest character to write was Marilyn Trainor. She serves as the moral center, the conscience, of the whole story. The hardest was Chief Edison. A main character and narrator who has to be emotionally closed off takes a lot of delicate balancing to get right. Too much emotion and you get the character all wrong. Too little and no one wants to keep reading.

TQDoes The Post touch on any social issues?

Kevin:  It does touch on social issues, but to say much more than that would spoil some of the mystery!

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

Kevin:  I only wish people would ask this question because the answer behind it amuses me. It’s not an important question at all. Where did the title come from? The title is an inside joke. I wanted to write a post-apocalyptic novel. So I initially titled it, “The Post-Apocalyptic Novel,” until I got inspiration for the real one. Once I developed the themes of the story, I realized I could just shorten that title and it would be a perfect fit. Hence, “The Post.”

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

Kevin:  This is the easiest question to answer, because for me there is one line that is far and away my favorite. It comes at the end of chapter two: “Reading with bloodshot eyes in the dark of a cloud-covered night, it’s hard to remember that I can’t save everyone. And just as hard to forget.”

TQWhat's next?

Kevin:  The very next thing is a sequel to The Post. I’ve plotted out the story as a trilogy, and I’m in the middle of editing my early drafts of the second book. And after that I have a long line of projects to work on. I’ve got ideas to last me for years!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kevin:  Thank you for the great questions!

The Post
Diversion Books, January 15, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 254 pages

Interview with Kevin A. Muñoz, author of The Post
Zone One meets Station Eleven in this chilling, post-apocalyptic debut, perfect for fans of The Walking Dead and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ten years after the world’s oil went sour and a pandemic killed most of the population, Sam Edison is the chief of police of The Little Five, a walled-in community near Atlanta, Georgia. Those who survived share the world with what are known as hollow-heads: creatures who are no longer fully human.

A man and a pregnant teenager arrive at the gate and are welcomed into the town. They begin to settle in when suddenly both are murdered by an unknown assailant. In the course of investigation, Chief Edison discovers that the girl was fleeing a life of sexual slavery, and that some members of the Atlanta community were complicit in the human trafficking network that had ensnared her.

In retaliation for Edison’s discoveries, agents of the network abduct the stepdaughter of the town’s mayor. Sam Edison and three companions track the kidnappers to Athens, Georgia, where they discover that the entire city is engaged in human trafficking. By the time Edison has recovered the kidnapped girl, the other three rescuers have been killed, leaving Edison alone to bring the mayor’s stepdaughter home. Further complicating their return is Sam’s realization that a prominent member of the community is in truth the ringleader of the slave-trading network. Against such great odds, will Sam ever make it to Little Five alive?

About Kevin

Interview with Kevin A. Muñoz, author of The Post
Kevin A. Muñoz earned his Ph.D. in New Testament studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a game designer, language instructor, and adjunct professor, and now is following the path of his father as a published novelist.

Website  ~ Twitter @drmunoz


Interview with Joe Ollinger, author of 10,000 Bones

Please welcome Joe Ollinger to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. 10,000 Bones is published on February 5, 2019 by Diversion Books.

Interview with Joe Ollinger, author of 10,000 Bones

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

Joe Ollinger:  Hmm… The earliest I can remember is a story I wrote in second or third grade as part of a class assignment. I overdid it and wrote this long story about an alien invasion that ended with Earth being destroyed and the protagonist waking up on a space station.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

JO:  I’m mostly a plotter, but sometimes when I get stuck with my outlines, I like to start writing scenes before the outline is 100% done.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JO:  The hardest thing for me, and the thing I worry about the most, is figuring out will connect with people. It might be the most fundamental thing about storytelling, the goal of relating to others. I’m constantly asking myself, “Is this something people will find interesting?” It’s the scariest part, never knowing the answer to that.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

JO:  My literary influences are too many to list without being unfair to a lot of authors. My favorites were always the sci-fi greats: Asimov, Clarke, Dick, Heinlein, Niven. In more general terms, I love telling stories, solving problems, and losing myself in other worlds and experiences. Writing allows me to immerse myself in all three of those things. Fiction is fantasy, in that in good fiction, life makes sense. (Of course there are some exceptions, such as Franz Kafka’s books.) Good fiction is built on cause and effect, if not a traditional sense of justice. Life is not like that. Our world often doesn’t make sense, and that’s frightening. Reading and writing fiction is an escape from that. But it’s not just an escape – it gives us a way to look at our lives within a framework of causation and goals and struggle. It reinforces a rational worldview. So for me writing is either a compulsive exercise to maintain sanity, or it’s an egotistical attempt to impose my own framework of meaning upon the reader. Or both.

TQDescribe 10,000 Bones using only 5 words.

JO:  Calcium is money. Get bones.

TQTell us something about 10,000 Bones that is not found in the book description.

JO:  After introducing the world and the basic premise, there’s not much room for the emotional elements of the story. Taryn’s investigation forces to confront her conflicted relationship with her world. There’s also a bit of a will-they-or-won’t-they romance subplot.

TQWhat inspired you to write 10,000 Bones?

JO:  The first inkling was a desire to write something about the nature of money, and the spark that made it seem like a promising idea was connecting the currency to the human body in a visceral, physically tangible way.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for 10,000 Bones?

JO:  I had to start with basic stuff. How much calcium is in a human body? What is the most efficient way to administer calcium to the human body? What are the symptoms of a calcium deficiency? How do you extract calcium from organic tissue and what kind of costs are associated with that? Then there was some math and price setting. How many human bodies does a Collections Agent track down in a year? How much calcium is she collecting from other sources? What is a reasonable percentage for the Commerce Board to pay her, and how does that add up to a yearly pay that makes sense in this economy? How much does she have to save to be able to afford an interstellar ticket? Needless to say, I had to do some math. I also went down some rabbit holes, like the Big Mac index and the effects of economic sanctions on countries like Iran and North Korea.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for 10,000 Bones.

JO:  I won’t say that the image depicted on the cover definitively does not happen in the story, but I don’t think the goal was to depict any specific scene. I think it does a good job of conveying the kind of world the reader is getting into: alien, desolate, but also urban and futuristic. The bones in the foreground subtly hint at the book’s subject matter. And I like the retro, minimalistic look my publisher Diversion Books went with. It’s got a kind of Sergio Leone ruggedness ad evokes some 1970s-style grit.

TQIn 10,000 Bones who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

JO:  Each character was a unique challenge. Taryn was fairly easy, because I really wanted her internal, emotional struggles to relate directly to the story and the world. That narrowed things down a little and helped shape her backstory. She was the starting point. The hardest may have been Brady Kearns. I won’t spoil too much, but I wanted to hint at him being a love interest for Taryn and also hint that he may not be everything he says he is, so writing him involved walking some fine lines.

TQDoes 10,000 Bones touch on any social issues?

JO:  The questions the book raises about currency as a source of power – an end and a means to an end – are no big secret. Readers will draw different answers and will have different takes on those issues, so I don’t want to stamp my own opinion on anything outside of what’s in the text.

TQWhich question about 10,000 Bones do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

JO:  Hmm... Mostly I just hope people read the book. While I have no definite plans for a sequel at this point, I’ll be thrilled if people read 10,000 Bones and want to know more.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from 10,000 Bones.

JO:  It’s a little bit spoilery, but I did get in a dig at my own day job:
               “You don’t blow up a lawyer’s office for fun.”
               “How many lawyers have you met?”

TQWhat's next?

JO10,000 Bones was part of a two-book deal with Diversion. The second book will be a contemporary thriller with a speculative twist. We’re still somewhat early in the process for that, and the publication date is yet to be announced, but I’m excited about it.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JO:  Thank you so much for having me and for featuring 10,000 Bones!

10,000 Bones
Diversion Books, February 5, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

Interview with Joe Ollinger, author of 10,000 Bones
Fast-paced and thought-provoking, Joe Ollinger has written a debut science fiction novel that reads like a thriller and will be loved by fans of Paolo Bacigalupi and Richard Morgan.

On the planet Brink, calcium is cash. The element’s scarcity led the world’s government to declare it the official currency. In the decades since, the governments of other colonized worlds have suppressed shipments of calcium in order to maintain favorable exchange rates, while Brink’s Commerce Board has struggled to negotiate importation quotas to keep the population alive and growing.

Taryn Dare is a Collections Agent, a specialized detective tasked with finding black market calcium and recovering it, so that the Commerce Board can recycle it and distribute it as currency. Taryn is fueled by one goal: to save up enough currency units for a one-way ticket to a better world. But when a job recovering a human corpse uncovers a deadly conspiracy in the system, Taryn is drawn into an investigation that may threaten her life, and the very fabric of her society.

About Joe

Interview with Joe Ollinger, author of 10,000 Bones
Joe Ollinger grew up in a small swamp town in Florida. After graduating from the University of Southern California, he worked for several years as a reader and story analyst for an Academy Award Winning Filmmaker. Currently residing in Los Angeles, he works as an attorney when he's not writing.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @joeollinger  ~  Instagram

Interview with Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Gutter Prayer

Please welcome Gareth Hanrahan to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Gutter Prayer is published on January 22, 2019 by Orbit.

Interview with Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Gutter Prayer

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

Gareth:  Oh wow. Um. I’m pretty sure I got into trouble writing Voltron fanfic in primary school, in Third Class (Third Grade).

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Gareth:  Hmm. When it comes to worldbuilding, pretty much a pantser – years and years of working on roleplaying games means that I’m pretty good at coming up with context and ramifications for whatever weird ideas I want to play with. For narrative, I try to plot more, although I find I need to revisit the plan every few chapters and adjust it based on how the characters are developing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Gareth:  Unlearning some of the habits I picked up writing tabletop games (in an rpg adventure, you want to avoid dictating what the main characters do or feel, as that’s up to the players). Also, the usual challenge of finding time and energy.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Gareth:  Is it absurd if I say everything? I’ve found the oddest things linger, and become weirdly influential. I randomly picked up a book on Victorian engineering many years ago, for example, and that was a huge influence not only on The Gutter Prayer, but on four or five other projects. You can get wonderful results by paying attention to the most mundane things – old street signs, or animals in rock pools, or whatever – and assuming there’s a magical significance to them.

Major literary influences – Tim Powers, Robert Holdstock, China Mieville, Lovecraft, Tolkien.

TQDescribe The Gutter Prayer using only 5 words.

Gareth:  I’m tempted to use a quote from the book – “fucking fuckers fucked us” – but it’s only four words. “Vengeful rogues amid architecture & stabbings”?

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

Gareth:  Guerdon’s patrolled by creatures called the Tallowmen – wax monsters created by the alchemists’ guild. Imagine a person made of wax, only their spine’s replaced by a magical wick, and their mind is the burning candle-flame inside their skull. They make the Tallowmen from condemned criminals, and then send them out to enforce the law. Tallowmen burn down over time, they’ve got to be renewed every so often – so the creatures are forced to obey the alchemists in order to win another chance at their horrid existence.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Gutter Prayer? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Gareth:  I don’t think there was any single moment of inspiration – more a sort of critical mass of ideas. I wrote the first 20,000 words or so for nanowrimo one year without any real clue of where the story was going or what it was for – I rarely find time to write for myself – and came back to it the following year and finished it.

Fantasy – fantasy’s a wonderful set of tools. It lets you exaggerate and concretise elements of the story (the villain can be a literal dark lord on a dark throne), it lets you focus the action on a small number of people (three thieves in a city, or a few Hobbits in a fellowship, can save the world), giving you human action on an epic scale.

Also, you get to make up monsters all day long.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Gutter Prayer?

Gareth:  None for the book itself. But I’d done research for other projects on alchemy, or architecture, or crime in the 19th century, or how secret societies work, so I was able to draw on all that. If you drew a Venn diagram of “non-fiction books Gar has read in the last twenty years”, the Gutter Prayer would be somewhere near the centre.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Gutter Prayer.

Gareth:  The cover’s a wonderfully atmospheric piece by Richard Anderson, depicting the city and the three thieves, Cari, Spar and Rat. I love the sense of scale it gives – you’ve got these buildings and spires towering over the thieves.

I’ve heard, over and over, from people who say the cover sold them on the book before they ever picked it up. I’m really happy with the cover.

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

Gareth:  Carillon wasn’t necessarily the easiest to write, but she was the most necessary. As I said earlier, my background is in writing tabletop games, where you want to leave space for the players to provide the protagonists. So, I’m really used to coming up with interesting situations, with compelling supporting characters, with villains – but not protagonists who actually do stuff. Carillon’s impulsive and incapable of sitting still or walking away. And once she was in motion, everyone else could react to her, and that made it possible for me to write the book.

The hardest – I had to restrain myself with writing Professor Ongent. He’s in the Giles-from-Buffy role of providing backstory and exposition, and I could write that stuff for years.

TQDoes The Gutter Prayer touch on any social issues?

Gareth:  A little. There’s a lot about power dynamics in there, about the gap between high-minded ideals and practical solutions. Several of the people the main characters think of as villains are genuinely – according to their own beliefs – trying to make the world a better place, and have judged the costs worth it. They’re not the only people paying the cost, of course, but that does that make them entirely misguided?

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

Gareth:  Let’s go for “Why did you pick the present tense for the story, instead of the more usual past tense?”

A lot of the story is about delving into the history of Guerdon, into events and secrets that have been buried over the centuries. I wanted the past to feel distant and weighty. Also, the three main characters are, in their ways, very much creatures of the immediate moment. Cari acts on impulse, Rat on instinct, and Spar’s very much aware that his future’s measured in months, not years.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Gutter Prayer.

          Aleena sheathes her knife, puts away the gun. “The Keepers sent me,” she begins.
          The elder ghoul snarls, angry at the lack of respect. Beyond it, other elders stir from their reverie. Sorcery hisses through the air like mustard gas, stinging Rat’s eyes and nose. He wants to run.
          “Buggering monks with their shitty scrolls. Er. I had all this written down,” mutters Aleena, and she tries to recite the correct greeting from memory. The words aren’t meant for human tongues, and she stumbles over them, like she’s trying to gargle with finger bones in her mouth.
          The orange-eyed elder unfolds, one obscenely long hoof-footed leg extending down to the cave floor, then another, crushing skulls to powder as it stands up and towers above them. Its jaws open much too wide as it yawns and roars. The elders may be the protectors and priests and gods of their race, but they think nothing of swatting an individual ghoul. Rat cringes in anticipation of the killing swipe.
          “Fuck this.”
          Aleena blazes with sudden light. Angelic, transfigured, her physical body is a stained-glass case for the burning lamp within. Her voice like choirs of angels.

TQWhat's next?

Gareth:  I’m frantically working on edits for the second book in the series, entitled either THE SHADOW SAINT or THE DIVINE MACHINE, as well as a bunch of tabletop roleplaying projects ranging from spies-vs-Cthulhu adventures in the 1960s for Fall of Delta Green to Middle-earth material for The One Ring game.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Gutter Prayer
The Black Iron Legacy 1
Orbit, January 22, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 560 pages

Interview with Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Gutter Prayer
A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

Enter a city of saints and thieves . . .

The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

The fate of the city rests in the hands of three thieves. They alone stand against the coming darkness. As conspiracies unfold and secrets are revealed, their friendship will be tested to the limit. If they fail, all will be lost, and the streets of Guerdon will run with blood.

The Gutter Prayer is an epic tale of sorcerers and thieves, treachery and revenge, from a remarkable new voice in fantasy.

About Gareth

Interview with Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Gutter Prayer
Photo by Edel Ryder-Hanrahan
Gareth Hanrahan's three-month break from computer programming to concentrate on writing has now lasted fifteen years and counting. He's written more gaming books than he can readily recall, by virtue of the alchemical transmutation of tea and guilt into words. He lives in Ireland with his wife and twin sons. Follow him on Twitter @mytholder.


Interview with Eyal Kless, author of The Lost Puzzler

Please welcome Eyal Kless to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Lost Puzzler was published on January 8, 2019 by Harper Voyager.

Interview with Eyal Kless, author of The Lost Puzzler

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

Eyal:  I was eight or nine years old. I read an Israeli children book called Hasamba. It was about a group of heroic young boys and girls who helped saving our young country from the machinations of its cruel enemies. It was barely diluted propaganda novels (and in its way, very naïve) but I became so excited reading about those kids, I immediately began writing more adventures for them. I believe it is called “fan literature” today.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Eyal:  I am definitely a plotter wannabe, but truth to be told, I am a classic pantser. I learned to trust my instinct and write scenes and introductory chapters before I even know what the plot would be. When things begin to get clear I let the plot take me places. I took almost four years out of writing The Lost Puzzler because I was lacking a satisfactory ending. It came to me one day, out of nowhere, as I was walking down the street and I began jumping up and down with excitement…

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Eyal:  Writing scenery and interior design. I pretty much hate it. maybe it is the vocabulary that I lack (I am not a native speaker), the fact I usually rush through those descriptions when I read books myself or a philosophical view that the readers should only have an outline of the picture and draw the picture themselves (probably options 1+2 are correct).

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does music influence your writing?

Eyal:  That’s a big one. Almost everything and anything could influence on my writing. Film noire, an argument on the bus, a joke I overheard, I always think if I could use this material, mold it to my needs and add it to the novel.

As to music. The long answer could take me a thousand words and more. in short: I see a novel like a piece of music. Each story line and each of the characters is a “voice” in this symphony or opera. A lone voice might be beautiful by itself but dull. When adding more voices together, they create a harmony, and just like in music, their relationship, even if distinctly apart, is the essence of what we hear and read. The moments of discord should have a resolution and the timing of both discord and resolution is crucial to the overall pacing. I also feel that rhythm is important to me when writing words which are spoken by the characters and many times I click my fingers as I read aloud the dialogues.

TQDescribe The Lost Puzzler using only 5 words.

Eyal:  Dystopia. Technology. SuperTracks, Mutants. Mystery

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

Eyal:  I only found out about this when I was writing the sequel, Puzzler’s War, so even I was not aware that this was a “thing” in the Tarakan Chronicles: There is an undercurrent theme in The Lost Puzzler which is about love. Not romantic love between characters but love of a parent to his/her child. Usually we think about parental love as a good and pure thing, but it also might have a darker side. Ask any parent (or yourselves) what would they do for the safety of their child and the answer would most likely be “everything and anything”. This is a natural reaction of a loving parent, but it can also have bad consequences, as in the case of The Lost Puzzler.

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

Eyal:  The inspiration came from my mobile phone. It was old and “stupid” flip phone but I looked at it and realized that if I was stuck on a lonely island with my family and a flip phone, I could teach my kids to use the phone, and they could teach theirs too, but we would not be able to produce or even fix the phone ourselves. This made me think about our society and how much of the technology which surrounds us is now too sophisticated to create and maintain alone.

Science fiction is a true challenge to the imagination but also to logic. What would life be 200 years from now? What would be the challenges we, as a society, will still face? What would seem like “magic” to a 21st century person (think Star Trek’s teleportation device)? The challenge is to create empathy with characters and story lines based on foundations which are alien to the reader. For example: He might be part human part cyborg pilot of a sentient spaceship but he still farts in public like a juvenile college boy. That description created a reaction, positive or negative, and made the alien character relatable in 21st century terms.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Lost Puzzler?

Eyal:  Not really research in the classic sense of the word. I read a little about cloning and theories regarding mind copying. The rest I just invented.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Lost Puzzler.

Eyal:  I am so lucky to have two covers for The Lost Puzzler which portrays different elements of the novel. The US cover shows the desolation which is left after what is called “the Catastrophe”. Only the small silhouette of the City of Towers hints something was left after the devastation. When you look at it you might feel alone and lost in a lifeless environment. The UK cover depicts the mystery and fantastic elements of the The Lost Puzzler: A hooded figure dressed in dark clothes returns from a long voyage and is facing the swampy entrance of the City of Towers. The dissonance between the unkept vegetation and the modern looking, alien towers creates sublime tension. Something had happened and something is about to happen.

Before you ask: I love both covers and can never make up my mind which one I would have chosen if I had to pick only one.

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

Eyal:  I love all my characters but Galinak is just ‘the guy’ for me. He is tough and simple in his ways, funny and just the right side of the line differentiating between the ‘good guys’ and the bullies. In short, I guess is the kind of a super hero I would have liked to be under these circumstances.

The hardest to write was Rafik. I had to describe the world from the point of view of growing boy just reaching adolescent, whose entire life comes crushing down on him in one of the worst ways possible. I had to describe carefully how this character sees and reacts to technology which he is unfamiliar with, which would be different than an adult. Many of the editorial notes I received began with “Rafik would not…”

TQDoes The Lost Puzzler touch on any social issues?

Eyal:  Absolutely. You cannot ignore what had happened to the world and how the survivors had reacted to the new world around them. Why is it that the more we progress as a race the worst our planet is? And on a more personal dilemma: If you had the only one bottle of water, would you share it with others, give it to your family, drink from it yourself? What if you were the person who was standing next to the man with the bottle of water. Would you haggle, beg, steal, kill? These types of questions are the core of The Lost Puzzler.

TQWhich question about The Lost Puzzler do you wish someone would ask?

Eyal:  “When would they make a movie out of The Lost Puzzler 😊”

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Lost Puzzler.


Galinak: “we could dance for a bit but I’ll only stop if you ask nicely”

Vincha: “I can cut your throat, or I can take out an eye”

And my personal favorite: “Perhaps the Catastrophe was meant to clean the slate and start humanity over, but we managed to screw up even our own destruction.”

TQWhat's next?

Eyal:  I am working on Puzzler’s War right now. It took me more than 20 years to finish The Lost Puzzler but the people in Harper Voyager told me they needed the sequel a little faster than that…

Hiding somewhere in my files is a novel even older than The Lost Puzzler. It is a story in a fantasy setting which deals with music and magic. It has been long forgotten but now I can hear it calling me back…

I am also toying with a fantasy adventure novel about a goblin private eye called Grooch, who ends up adventuring with a ninja Weresheep, a substance abuser imp, a feminist succubus and a pacifist fallen Paladin…

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Eyal:  It has been an absolute pleasure!

The Lost Puzzler
The Tarakan Chronicles 1
Harper Voyager, January 8, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

Interview with Eyal Kless, author of The Lost Puzzler
A brilliantly written, page-turning, post-dystopian debut from Eyal Kless, about a society hoping to salvage the technology of a lost generation, a mysterious missing boy who can open doors no one else can, and a scribe who must piece together the past to determine humanity’s future.

More than a hundred years have passed since the Catastrophe brought humanity to the brink of extinction. Those who survived are changed. The Wildeners have reverted to the old ways—but with new Gods—while others place their faith in the technology that once powered their lost civilization.

In the mysterious City of Towers, the center of the destroyed Tarakan empire, a lowly scribe of the Guild of Historians is charged with a dangerous assignment. He must venture into the wilds beyond the glass and steel towers to discover the fate of a child who mysteriously disappeared more than a decade before. Born of a rare breed of marked people, the child, Rafik—known as “The Key”—was one of a special few with the power to restore this lost civilization to glory once again.

In a world riven by fear and violence, where tattooed mutants, manic truckers, warring guilds and greedy mercenaries battle for survival, this one boy may have singlehandedly destroyed humanity’s only chance for salvation—unless the scribe can figure out what happened to him.

About Eyal

Interview with Eyal Kless, author of The Lost Puzzler
Eyal Kless is a classical violinist who enjoys an international career both as a performer and a teacher. Born in Israel, Eyal has travelled the world extensively, living several years in Dublin, London, Manchester, and Vienna, before returning to Tel Aviv. His first novel, Rocca's Violin, was published in Hebrew in 2008 by Korim Publishers. Eyal currently teaches violin in the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University, and performs with the Israel Haydn String Quartet, which he founded.

Website  ~  Blog  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @eyalkless
Interview with Andrew Bannister, author of Creation MachineInterview with Leife Shallcross, author of The Beast's HeartInterview with Kevin A. Muñoz, author of The PostInterview with Joe Ollinger, author of 10,000 BonesInterview with Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Gutter PrayerInterview with Eyal Kless, author of The Lost Puzzler

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?