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2021 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September 2021 Debuts



Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the beginning of 2022 the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2021 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on September 30, 2021, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2021 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls





Cover art by Ashe Samuels
Cover design by Samira Iravani










Jacket design by Lauren Panepinto
Cover images by Shutterstock
Cover copyright © 2021 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.










Cover design by Mark Ecob










Cover art by Sasha Vinogradova
Design by Christine Foltzer





2021 Debut Author Challenge - September 2021 Debuts



There are 8 debuts for September 2021.

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

The September debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite September cover for the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting in the latter half of September.



Paige Crutcher

The Orphan Witch
St. Martin's Griffin, September 28, 2021
Hardcover, Paperbook and ebook, 352 pages
"Mystical, magical, and wildly original...If Alice Hoffman and Sara Addison Allen had a witchy love child, she would be Paige Crutcher. Do not miss this beautifully realized debut!"--- JT Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Her Dark Lies on The Orphan Witch.

A deeper magic. A stronger curse. A family lost...and found.

Persephone May has been alone her entire life. Abandoned as an infant and dragged through the foster care system, she wants nothing more than to belong somewhere. To someone. However, Persephone is as strange as she is lonely. Unexplainable things happen when she’s around—changes in weather, inanimate objects taking flight—and those who seek to bring her into their family quickly cast her out. To cope, she never gets attached, never makes friends. And she certainly never dates. Working odd jobs and always keeping her suitcases half-packed, Persephone is used to moving around, leaving one town for another when curiosity over her eccentric behavior inevitably draws unwanted attention.

After an accidental and very public display of power, Persephone knows it’s time to move on once again. It’s lucky, then, when she receives an email from the one friend she’s managed to keep, inviting her to the elusive Wile Isle. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. However, upon arrival, Persephone quickly discovers that Wile is no ordinary island. In fact, it just might hold the very things she’s been searching for her entire life.

Answers. Family. Home.

And some things she did not want. Like 100-year-old curses and an even older family feud. With the clock running out, love might be the magic that saves them all.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





J. S. Kelley

Gutter Mage
Gallery / Saga Press, September 21, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
J.S. Kelley weaves epic fantasy and hardboiled noir in this fast-paced, twisting tale of magic, mystery, and a whole lot of unruly behavior.

In a kingdom where magic fuels everything from street lamps to horseless carriages, the mage guilds of Penador wield power equal to the king himself. So when Lord Edmund’s infant son is kidnapped by the ruthless Alath Guild, he turns to the one person who’s feared by even the most magically adept: Rosalind Featherstone, a.k.a. the Gutter Mage.

But as Roz delves into the circumstances behind the child’s disappearance, she uncovers an old enemy from her traumatic past and a long-brewing plot that could lead to the death of countless innocents, as well as the complete collapse of Penadorian society itself!
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Cassandra Khaw

The All-Consuming World
Erewhon, Septemenr 7, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages
Maya has died and been resurrected into countless cyborg bodies through the years of a long, dangerous career with the infamous Dirty Dozen, the most storied crew of criminals in the galaxy, at least before their untimely and gruesome demise.

Decades later, she and her diverse team of broken, diminished outlaws must get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade . . . but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir.

The highly evolved AI of the galaxy have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humanity from ever regaining control. As Maya and her comrades spiral closer to uncovering the AIs’ vast conspiracy, this band of violent women—half-clone and half-machine—must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all.

Welcome to The All-Consuming World, the debut novel of acclaimed writer Cassandra Khaw. With this explosive and introspective exploration of humans and machines, life and death, Khaw takes their rightful place next to such science fiction luminaries as Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo






J. Todd Kingrea

The Witchfinder
The Deiparian Saga 1
BHC Press, September 26, 2021
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 318 pages
In a post-apocalyptic world where tyranny and medieval torture reign supreme and witch burnings are an everyday occurrence, a top Witchfinder must confront the very Church he serves when he learns of its dark past and twisted plans for the future.

The Church of the Deiparous rules with an iron fist and its rising star, Witchfinder Imperator Malachi Thorne, is committed to leading its cause. Thorne is a man on the fast track to greater things so when a convicted traitor and heretic escapes his grip, he won’t tolerate it marring his perfect record.

As he pursues his quarry, he must confront demons, sorcery, and a cult of witches out for his blood. But when Thorne comes face to face with the Church’s dark past and its twisted present, his faith is tested to its limits. Now Thorne must decide who and what he believes in—and what he will do about it. In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





M. J. Kuhn

Among Thieves
Gallery / Saga Press, September 7, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
A thrilling fantasy debut—a high-stakes heist novel set in a gritty world of magic and malice, and perfect for fans of Six of Crows!

In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.

For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down...but even the most powerful men can be defeated.

Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all…but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Lee Mandelo

Summer Sons
Tordotcom, September 28, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
Lee Mandelo's debut Summer Sons is a sweltering, queer Southern Gothic that crosses Appalachian street racing with academic intrigue, all haunted by a hungry ghost.


Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom that hungers for him.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble.

And there is something awful lurking, waiting for those walls to fall.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Lincoln Michel

The Body Scout
Orbit, September 21, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
"I devoured it." —Jonathan Lethem

“Completely weird and still completely real. Delightful—I couldn't put it down."–Shea Serrano

In the future you can have any body you want—as long as you can afford it.

But in a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn't get much worse.

Then his brother—Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz—is murdered at home plate.

Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he's in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he'll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder.

Diamond-sharp and savagely wry, The Body Scout is a timely science fiction thriller debut set in an all-too-possible future.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Calder Szewczak

The Offset
Angry Robot Books, September 14, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages
On your eighteenth birthday, one of your parents must die. And you must be the one to decide. Who will you choose?

In a dying world, the Offset ceremony has been introduced to counteract and discourage procreation. It is a rule that is simultaneously accepted, celebrated and abhorred. But in this world, survival demands sacrifice so for every birth, there must be a death.

Professor Jac Boltanski is leading Project Salix, a ground-breaking new mission to save the world by replanting radioactive Greenland with genetically-modified willow trees. But things aren’t working out and there are discrepancies in the data. Has someone intervened to sabotage her life’s work?

In the meantime, her daughter Miri, an anti-natalist, has run away from home. Days before their Offset ceremony where one of her mothers must be sentenced to death, she is brought back against her will following a run-in with the law. Which parent will Miri pick to die: the one she loves, or the one she hates who is working to save the world?

File Under: Science Fiction [ Only One Leaves | The Choice is Yours | Last Hope | Counting Down ]
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

Interview with John Appel, author of Assassin's Orbit

Please welcome John Appel to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author ChallengeInterviews. Assassin's Orbitwas published on July 20, 2021 by Solaris.





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

John:  Thinking back, I was about nine or ten when I started writing a story based on a book about kid spelunkers that I really enjoyed. But that story, like many others for years, never got finished. It took me quite a long time to find my writing discipline.

The first fiction I actually wrote all the way through to the end was a series of short pieces based on my World of Warcraft character, sometime in about 2006 or 2007. I was in my early 40s at the time, so you can see I had quite a long period of starting but not finishing.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

John:  The plotter vs. pantser concept is, to me, a false binary. In my experience, there’s really a number of factors which different people plan ahead of time vs. discover, and you’d need a radar plot to see where any given writer falls. In my case, though, I usually have a strong sense of the overall plot arc, and I tend to be a solid world builder before I start drafting. I also know a good bit about the characters, but not as much as other writers I know. In all of these cases, though, I frequently discover things while I’m writing, and this may lead to changes in plot events, some aspect of the world, or in an extreme case, a whole new POV character.

In ASSASSIN’S ORBIT, for example, Noo came into being because another character needed a mentor, and the character I’d intended to fill that role was otherwise occupied at that moment in the story. She started as a secondary character but her personality was so strong that she displaced the original POV character and took her spot in the roster. This didn’t change the overall arc of the book, just the perspective through which the reader sees it.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

John:  Sherwood Smith introduced me to the concept of “visual writers”, i.e. people who see the story playing out in their heads like a movie. I’m one of those, and one challenge I face is unpacking the visuals and sensations the characters are experiencing and getting that onto the page. I’ve found myself leaning hard on CL Polk’s “54321” technique, where you jot down five things the characters see, four they hear, three they feel, two they smell, and one they might taste in a scene. This gives me the sensory detail I need to help connect the reader to the action – when I remember to do it!



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

John:  So, so many writers! I grew up reading adventure thrillers by Alastair McClean (THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, WHERE EAGLES DARE, etc.) and I think my love for action-filled stories comes from there. Lois McMaster Bujold is a big source of inspiration for characters, and how to come up with challenges that are more than simple life and death. Current influences include Martha Wells’ Murderbot stories, Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London/Peter Grant series, and most importantly, the members of my local writing/critique group, the Maryland Space Opera Collective (MD SPOC).



TQDescribe Assassin's Orbit using only 5 words.

John:  Old women space competence porn.



TQTell us something about Assassin's Orbit that is not found in the book description.

John:  This is kind of hinted at, but one important aspect is that while the protagonists are key players in the action, they don’t solve the problems they’re faced with by themselves. In the real world, problems get solved by people working together, and portraying that is a theme that keeps showing up in my work.



TQWhat inspired you to write Assassin's Orbit? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

John:  I started ASSASSIN’S ORBIT in late 2016, though it got put aside for a while to work on a different project which didn’t pan out. There was no single point of inspiration for it, but I definitely drew from certain aspects of then-current events and where I thought they might go. Hard to say much more about that without giving away spoilers.

I’ve been a science fiction fan nearly my entire life, beginning with the Danny Dunn series of children’s books back in elementary school and going on from there. I think it’s the speculative element that appeals to me: “What if the world changed in these ways? What would that look like? How would people behave differently, or the same? What would a more just society look like?” But since I’m also hooked on the escapist aspect, I tend to approach it through the lens of action and adventure.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Assassin's Orbit?

John:  I’ve done a lot of reading over the years about space stations and mostly-realistic space combat. I also read a lot of work by West African writers, since many of the characters have origins from that part of Earth, both fiction and non-fiction, along with research into both Ife and Islam.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Assassin's Orbit.

John:  The cover does loosely depict one of the space battles that occurs in the book, or part of it anyway.



TQIn Assassin's Orbit who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

John:  Of the three main protagonists, Noo’s voice was the loudest in my head, which hopefully comes through in the reading! As I mentioned earlier, she actually displaced another character to become a principal POV.

Toiwa began as someone easy to write but became more challenging as the book progressed. I know a lot of very competent professional women from my past career in corporate life, and it was easy to borrow aspects of those people and fold them into her character. Her journey, though was the one that most surprised me while writing; she has to face a number of tough choices, and making sure the way she acts when faced with those aligned with the moral code I’d built for her required some work.



TQDoes Assassin's Orbit touch on any social issues?

John:  It does, but not necessarily by conscious intent. I think any writer with a degree of empathy couldn’t help but be affected by the deliberate cruelty and kleptocratic government of the Trump administration, and there’s a certain faction in the book that I didn’t realize matched that crowd and their followers until one of my beta readers pointed it out to me. (And let’s be clear, they’re some of the bad guys.)

Buried within is also something I mentioned up above: that it’s not people acting alone who make change, but rather people acting together. I don’t think it’s ever explicitly called out in the book, but it’s a message I definitely want people to get.



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

John

Q. “How many people has Noo slept with, anyway?”
A. She’d have to check her djinn, she’s lost count.



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

John:  “Noo shot him anyway, just to be sure.”



TQWhat's next?

John:  We’ll see! My agent and I are pitching a sequel to Rebellion, and if ASSASSIN’S ORBIT does well I hope to be writing that. I have another project that I’ve been working on in the meantime which we hope to be pitching later this year.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

John:  Thank you for having me!





Assassin's Orbit
Solaris, July 20, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
Murder makes unlikely allies.

On the eve of the planet Ileri’s historic vote to join the Commonwealth, the assassination of a government minister threatens to shatter everything. Private investigator Noo Okereke and spy Meiko Ogawa join forces with police chief Toiwa to investigate – and discover clues that point disturbingly toward a threat humanity thought they had escaped.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo






About John


John Appel volunteered to jump out of planes before he’d ever been in a plane; his friends and family say this sums up his approach to life pretty well. He writes science fiction and fantasy and the occasional tabletop RPG adventure. A lifelong Marylander, he lives in the Baltimore suburbs with his wife and children. He masquerades as a technology risk manager to pay the bills after two decades as an information security pro. When not writing, rolling dice, or keeping the bad guys at bay, he enjoys rum and swords, but not both at the same time. John is a graduate of the Viable Paradise writing workshop.

Website  ~  Twitter @oldscout

2021 Debut Author Challenge - August 2021 Debuts



There are 10 debuts for August 2021.

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

The August debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite August cover for the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting in the latter half of August.



Sarah Adlakha

She Wouldn't Change a Thing
Forge Books, August 10, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
Sliding Doors meets Life After Life in Sarah Adlakha's story about a wife and mother who is given the chance to start over at the risk of losing everything she loves.

A second chance is the last thing she wants.

When thirty-nine year old Maria Forssmann wakes up in her seventeen-year-old body, she doesn’t know how she got there. All she does know is she has to get back: to her home in Bienville, Mississippi, to her job as a successful psychiatrist and, most importantly, to her husband, daughters, and unborn son.

But she also knows that, in only a few weeks, a devastating tragedy will strike her husband, a tragedy that will lead to their meeting each other.

Can she change time and still keep what it’s given her?

Exploring the responsibilities love lays on us, the complicated burdens of motherhood, and the rippling impact of our choices, She Wouldn't Change a Thing is a dazzling debut from a bright new voice.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





A. K. Blakemore

The Manningtree Witches
Catapault, August 10, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Wolf Hall meets The Favourite in this beguiling debut novel that brilliantly brings to life the residents of a small English town in the grip of the seventeenth-century witch trials and the young woman tasked with saving them all from themselves.

England, 1643. Puritanical fervor has gripped the nation. And in Manningtree, a town depleted of men since the wars began, the hot terror of damnation burns in the hearts of women left to their own devices.

Rebecca West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only occasionally by her infatuation with the handsome young clerk John Edes. But then a newcomer, Matthew Hopkins, arrives. A mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, he takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about what the women on the margins of this diminished community are up to. Dangerous rumors of covens, pacts, and bodily wants have begun to hang over women like Rebecca—and the future is as frightening as it is thrilling.

Brimming with contemporary energy and resonance, The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where suspicion, mistrust, and betrayal run amok as a nation's arrogant male institutions start to realize that the very people they've suppressed for so long may be about to rise up and claim their freedom.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : Kobo





J.T. Greathouse

The Hand of the Sun King
Pact & Pattern 1
JAB Books, August 5, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 370 pages
Wen Alder was born into two worlds.

On his father’s side, a legacy of proud loyalty and service to the god-like Sienese Emperor spanning generations. And it is expected that Alder, too, will follow this tradition by passing the Imperial exams, learning the accepted ways of magic and, if he serves with honor, enhancing his family's prominence by rising to take a most powerful position in Sien—the Hand of the Emperor.

But from his mother he has inherited defiance from the Empire, a history of wild gods and magic unlike anything the Imperial sorcerers could yet control. It began when his spirited, rebellious grandmother took Alder into the woods and introduced him to her ways—ways he has never been able to forget.

Now, on the verge of taking the steps that will forge the path of his life, Alder discovers that the conflict between the Empire and the resistance is only the beginning of a war that will engulf both heaven and earth, gods and man—and he may be the key to final victory for whichever side can claim him as their own…
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Jadie Jang

Monkey Around
Solaris, August 3, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 405 pages
The debut novel from Jadie Jang is an action-packed urban fantasy delivering a bold new take on the Monkey King in San Francisco - complete with murder and mayhem!

San Francisco has a Monkey King — and she's freaking out.

Barista, activist, and were-monkey Maya McQueen was well on her way to figuring herself out. Well, part of the way. 25% of the way. If you squint.

But now the Bay Area is being shaken up. Occupy Wall Street has come home to roost; and on the supernatural side there’s disappearances, shapeshifter murders, and the city’s spirit trying to find its guardian.

Maya doesn’t have a lot of time before chaos turns up at her door, and she needs to solve all of her problems. Well, most of them. The urgent ones, anyhow.

But who says the solutions have to be neat? Because Monkey is always out for mischief.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : Kobo





David Hoon Kim

Paris is a Party, Paris is a Ghost
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Agust 3, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages
In a strangely distorted Paris, a Japanese adoptee is haunted by the woman he once loved

When Fumiko emerges after one month locked in her dorm room, she’s already dead, leaving a half-smoked Marlboro Light and a cupboard of petrified food in her wake. For her boyfriend, Henrik Blatand, an aspiring translator, these remnants are like clues, propelling him forward in a search for meaning. Meanwhile, Fumiko, or perhaps her doppelgänger, reappears: in line at the Louvre, on street corners and subway platforms, and on the dissection table of a group of medical students.

Henrik’s inquiry expands beyond Fumiko’s seclusion and death, across the absurd, entropic streets of Paris and the figures that wander them, from a jaded group of Korean expats, to an eccentric French widow, to the indelible woman whom Henrik finds sitting in his place on a train. It drives him into the shadowy corners of his past, where his adoptive Danish parents raised him in a house without mirrors. And it mounts to a charged intimacy shared with his best friend’s precocious daughter, who may be haunted herself.

David Hoon Kim’s debut is a transgressive, darkly comic novel of becoming lost and found in translation. With each successive, echoic chapter, Paris Is a Party, Paris Is a Ghost plunges us more deeply beneath the surface of things, to the displacement, exile, grief, and desire that hide in plain sight.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Anita Kopacz

Shallow Waters
Atria/Black Privilege Publishing, August 3, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 224 pages
“Spellbinding...A captivating debut.” —Harper’s Bazaar
“Part history, part fantasy, this novel crosses genre as easily as it does time.” —BuzzFeed

In this stirring and lyrical debut novel—perfect for fans of The Water Dancer and the Legacy of Orïsha series—the Yoruba deity of the sea, Yemaya, is brought to vivid life as she discovers the power of Black resilience, love, and feminine strength in antebellum America.

Shallow Waters imagines Yemaya, an Orïsha—a deity in the religion of Africa’s Yoruba people—cast into mid-1800s America. We meet Yemaya as a young woman, still in the care of her mother and not yet fully aware of the spectacular power she possesses to protect herself and those she holds dear.

The journey laid out in Shallow Waters sees Yemaya confront the greatest evils of this era; transcend time and place in search of Obatala, a man who sacrifices his own freedom for the chance at hers; and grow into the powerful woman she was destined to become. We travel alongside Yemaya from her native Africa and on to the “New World,” with vivid pictures of life for those left on the outskirts of power in the nascent Americas.

Yemaya realizes the fighter within, travels the Underground Railroad in search of the mysterious stranger Obatala, and crosses paths with icons of our history on the road to freedom. Shallow Waters is a nourishing work of ritual storytelling from promising debut author Anita Kopacz.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Pamela Korgemagi

The Hunter and the Old Woman
House of Anansi Press, August 3, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 440 pages
The intertwined story of a cougar and a man that portrays the strength, vulnerability, and consciousness of two top predators. Not since Life of Pi have we encountered such transcendence or walked so fully in the footsteps of a big cat.

The “Old Woman” lives in the wild, searching for food, raising her cubs, and avoiding the two-legged creatures who come into her territory. But she is more than an animal — she is a mythic creature who haunts the lives and the dreams of men. Joseph Brandt has been captivated by the mountain lion’s legend since childhood, and one day he steps into the forest to seek her out. A classic in the making, The Hunter and the Old Woman is a mesmerizing portrait of two animals united by a shared destiny.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : Kobo





Elijah Menchaca

They Met in a Tavern
CamCat Publishing, August 10, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
The Starbreakers went their separate ways after they failed a whole city. Seven years later, when a hefty bounty is placed on their heads, they must choose between hanging onto their past grudges or working together to save the day.

They used to be heroes . . . and it was all downhill from there.

The Starbreakers were your classic teenage heroes. Using their combined powers and skills, they were the most successful group of glintchasers in Corsar. But that all changed the day the city of Relgen died. The group went their separate ways, placing the blame on each other.

Brass carried on as a solo act. Snow found work as a notorious assassin. Church became a town’s spiritual leader. Angel was the owner of a bar and inn. And after overcoming his own guilt, Phoenix started a new life as a family man.

Seven years after their falling out, a hefty bounty is placed on their heads. Phoenix tries to reunite the Starbreakers before everything they have left is taken from them. But a lot can change in seven years. And if mending old wounds was easy, they would have done it a long time ago.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Kobo





Meredith Westgate

The Shimmering State
Atria Books, August 10, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Named Vogue’s “Best Books to Read This Summer” ∙ The Millions “Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2021 Book Preview”

“A shimmering, dreamlike experience of multiple lives that collide and repel through fate and coincidence.” —Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

A luminous literary debut following two patients in recovery after an experimental memory drug warps their lives.

Lucien moves to Los Angeles to be with his grandmother as she undergoes an experimental memory treatment for Alzheimer’s using the new drug, Memoroxin. An emerging photographer, he’s also running from the sudden death of his mother, a well-known artist whose legacy haunts Lucien.

Sophie has just landed the lead in the upcoming performance of La Sylphide with the Los Angeles Ballet Company. She still waitresses at the Chateau Marmont during her off hours, witnessing the recreational use of Memoroxin—or Mem—among the Hollywood elite.

When Lucien and Sophie meet at The Center, founded by the ambitious yet conflicted Dr. Angelica Sloane to treat patients who’ve abused Mem, they have no memory of how they got there—or why they feel so inexplicably drawn to each other. Is it attraction, or something they cannot remember from “before”?

Set in a city that seems to have no identity of its own, The Shimmering State is a graceful meditation on the power of story and its creation. It masterfully explores memory and how it can elude us, trap us, or set us free.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : BookShop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Nicole Willson

Tidepool
Parliament House, August 3, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 322 pages
"Wilson's plot hits all the right beats...Devotees of cosmic horror will enjoy this woman-centered take on familiar tropes."
-Publisher's Weekly

If ye give not willingly, the Lords will rise…

In 1913, Henry Hamilton disappeared while on a business trip, and his sister, Sorrow, won’t rest until she finds out what happened to him. Defying her father’s orders to remain at home, she travels to Tidepool, the last place Henry is known to have visited. Residents of the small, shabby oceanside town can’t quite meet Sorrow’s eyes when she asks about her brother.

When corpses wash up on shore looking as if they’ve been torn apart by something not quite human, Sorrow is ready to return to Baltimore and let her father send in the professional detectives.

However, after meeting Ada Oliver, a widow whose black silk dresses and elegant manners set her apart from other Tidepool residents, Sorrow discovers Tidepool’s dark, deadly secret.

With this discovery, some denizens of Tidepool—human and otherwise—are hell-bent on making sure Sorrow never leaves their forsaken town.

Lovecraftian dark fantasy gets a modern treatment in this terrifying debut novel.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

Interview with J.P. Oakes, author of City of Iron and Dust

Please welcome J.P. Oakes to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author ChallengeInterviews. City of Iron and Dustis published on July 6, 2021 by Titan Books.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing J.P. a Happy Book Birthday!






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

JPO:  When I was 4 or 5, I remember writing a one-page story about The Milky Bar kid who was in TV ads, and who seemed pretty cool to me at the time. I’m fairly sure there was an illustration involved as well.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

JPO:  A plotter. At least from a narrative perspective. If I know how a scene opens and ends, and what critical information needs to be relayed that gives me the space to explore character, themes, and dialogue with that frame. For example, I’ll know a fight is going to happen, and who’s going to win, but I don’t know exactly how the fight is going to play out.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JPO:  Balancing the flow of information to the reader. Going into a project knowing everything about the backstory and motives, it’s tough to judge exactly when a reveal needs to be made, and what information has to be conveyed at what point. But my agent and editors help immeasurably with that.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

JPO: This might be a bit of a cop out answer, but I have a hard time thinking of things that haven’t influenced my writing. Books I read, TV shows I watch, games I play, politics, parenting, memes on social media… it’s all material, it all goes into the hopper. In broad strokes, I like New Weird, noir, fantasy, action-adventures. I think some of that shows through.



TQDescribe City of Iron and Dust using only 5 words.

JPO:  Goblins. Fae. Revolution. Drugs. Magic.



TQ:  Tell us something about City of Iron and Dust that is not found in the book description.

JPO:  The books pretty ambitious in its themes. Along the way I think I touch on capitalism, racism, and the redemptive power of art, among a fair few other things.



TQWhat inspired you to write City of Iron and Dust?

JPO:  Fundamentally, my kids and the phrase “Make America Great Again.” Over the past few years, there seems to have been a lot of looking back at a sort of 1950s golden age that never existed. Meanwhile, where I see hope, is when I look at the youth of today, and the generations to come. There’s so much progressive energy in Generation Z that fills me with joy, and I wanted to put those two forces against each other.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for City of Iron and Dust?

JPO:  Virtually none, I’m afraid. A little bit into the different types of fae, but I’ve taken enough liberties that it may not show.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for City of Iron and Dust.

JPO:  The cover doesn’t show a precise scene from the book. Rather, it’s a more evocative design piece by Julia Lloyd. I think she did an amazing job capturing the oppressive feel of the Iron City that’s at the heart of this book.



TQIn City of Iron and Dust who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

JPO:  I have a character, Granny Spregg, who’ the deposed matriarch of a goblin house, who was an absolute joy to write. She foul-mouthed, and sarcastic, and wickedly clever, and whatever the thing you absolutely definitely shouldn’t say was exactly what she’d say. As someone who always struggles with a filter, that was fun. Meanwhile, Edwyll, who is a very earnest fae looking to transform the city through art was a much harder note for me to hit. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person…



TQDoes City of Iron and Dust touch on any social issues?

JPO:  Yes it does. For me, the Iron City—the city where the whole story takes place—is a metaphor for America, and the struggles and battles that are occurring in it right now. So, a lot of social ideas made their way into the book, or, at least, they did for me. Whether they translate to the reader or not, I can’t be sure, but even if they don’t hopefully there’s a fun story there for everyone anyway.



TQWhich question about City of Iron and Dust do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

JPO:  The question I’d loved to be asked is: has an awesome metal band written a song inspired by your book? Because, yes, they have! The black/death metal band Ashen Horde is releasing a track called “Archaic Convictions” inspired by the book, and it is absurdly cool. Check it out on bandcamp when you have a chance.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from City of Iron and Dust.

JPO

“A bouncer hulks in a doorway—the type with more knuckles than IQ points”

“Bravery, in his opinion, is just stupidity that happens to benefit others”



TQWhat's next?

JPO:  That’s a little up in the air right now. Writing has been slowed by the pandemic, but I have two dark fantasy projects I’m working on at the moment. Hopefully something good will happen with one of them.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JPO:  Thank you so much for having me, and thank you for the thoughtful questions.






City of Iron and Dust
Titan Books, July 6, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
“A fantastic book, full of wit and sharp humor, City of Iron and Dust careens through a modernized faerie at a breakneck pace, full of verve and unforgettable characters. Oakes spins a smart, electric, and sometimes snarky tale, showing that the beating heart of modern fantasy is alive and well.” – John Hornor Jacobs, author of A Lush and Seething Hell and The Incorruptibles

The Iron City is a prison, a maze, an industrial blight. It is the result of a war that saw the goblins grind the fae beneath their collective boot heels. And tonight, it is also a city that churns with life. Tonight, a young fae is trying to make his fortune one drug deal at a time; a goblin princess is searching for a path between her own dreams and others’ expectations; her bodyguard is deciding who to kill first; an artist is hunting for his own voice; an old soldier is starting a new revolution; a young rebel is finding fresh ways to fight; and an old goblin is dreaming of reclaiming her power over them all. Tonight, all their stories are twisting together, wrapped up around a single bag of Dust—the only drug that can still fuel fae magic—and its fate and theirs will change the Iron City forever.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : Kobo






About J.P. Oakes

J.P. Oakes is a writer and creative director living on Long Island, where he drinks too much tea, overthinks dumb action movies, and indulges in profound nerdery. Follow him on social media @jp_oakes for flash fiction and thoughts on the writing process, or if you want to engage someone for many long hours on the topic of Bioware Games.








Website  ~  Twitter@jp_oakes


July 2021 Debuts



There are 6 debuts for July 2021.

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

The July debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite July cover for the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting in the latter half of July.




John Appel

Assassin's Orbit
Solaris, July 20, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
Murder makes unlikely allies.

On the eve of the planet Ileri’s historic vote to join the Commonwealth, the assassination of a government minister threatens to shatter everything. Private investigator Noo Okereke and spy Meiko Ogawa join forces with police chief Toiwa to investigate – and discover clues that point disturbingly toward a threat humanity thought they had escaped.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Lena Nguyen

We Have Always Been Here
DAW, July 6, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
This psychological sci-fi thriller from a debut author follows one doctor who must discover the source of her crew’s madness… or risk succumbing to it herself.

Misanthropic psychologist Dr. Grace Park is placed on the Deucalion, a survey ship headed to an icy planet in an unexplored galaxy. Her purpose is to observe the thirteen human crew members aboard the ship—all specialists in their own fields—as they assess the colonization potential of the planet, Eos. But frictions develop as Park befriends the androids of the ship, preferring their company over the baffling complexity of humans, while the rest of the crew treats them with suspicion and even outright hostility.

Shortly after landing, the crew finds themselves trapped on the ship by a radiation storm, with no means of communication or escape until it passes—and that’s when things begin to fall apart. Park’s patients are falling prey to waking nightmares of helpless, tongueless insanity. The androids are behaving strangely. There are no windows aboard the ship. Paranoia is closing in, and soon Park is forced to confront the fact that nothing—neither her crew, nor their mission, nor the mysterious Eos itself—is as it seems.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





J. P. Oakes

City of Iron and Dust
Titan Books, July 6, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
“A fantastic book, full of wit and sharp humor, City of Iron and Dust careens through a modernized faerie at a breakneck pace, full of verve and unforgettable characters. Oakes spins a smart, electric, and sometimes snarky tale, showing that the beating heart of modern fantasy is alive and well.” – John Hornor Jacobs, author of A Lush and Seething Hell and The Incorruptibles

The Iron City is a prison, a maze, an industrial blight. It is the result of a war that saw the goblins grind the fae beneath their collective boot heels. And tonight, it is also a city that churns with life. Tonight, a young fae is trying to make his fortune one drug deal at a time; a goblin princess is searching for a path between her own dreams and others’ expectations; her bodyguard is deciding who to kill first; an artist is hunting for his own voice; an old soldier is starting a new revolution; a young rebel is finding fresh ways to fight; and an old goblin is dreaming of reclaiming her power over them all. Tonight, all their stories are twisting together, wrapped up around a single bag of Dust—the only drug that can still fuel fae magic—and its fate and theirs will change the Iron City forever.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : Kobo





Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun
Tor Books, July 20, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan's She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother's identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother's abandoned greatness.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Lucinda Roy

The Freedom Race
The Dreambird Chronicles 1
Tor Books, July 13, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
The Freedom Race, Lucinda Roy’s explosive first foray into speculative fiction, is a poignant blend of subjugation, resistance, and hope.

In the aftermath of a cataclysmic civil war known as the Sequel, ideological divisions among the states have hardened. In the Homestead Territories, an alliance of plantation-inspired holdings, Black labor is imported from the Cradle, and Biracial “Muleseeds” are bred.

Raised in captivity on Planting 437, kitchen-seed Jellybean “Ji-ji” Lottermule knows there is only one way to escape. She must enter the annual Freedom Race as a runner.

Ji-ji and her friends must exhume a survival story rooted in the collective memory of a kidnapped people and conjure the voices of the dead to light their way home.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Scott Ruesterholz

Robert Wilson and the Invasion from Within
Permuted Press, July 27, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
As the world confronts an invasion from an alien empire—which has embedded spies in global institutions—the decisions of one man may determine humanity’s fate.

Alien conqueror, Anton Frozos, sends Robert Wilson, a top graduate of a spy-training program, to Earth to gain influence and prime the planet for its eventual conquest. Robert uses his advanced knowledge and technology to amass significant power and fortune in the business world. However, Robert has concealed aspects of his past from Frozos, which may complicate his loyalty.

When Frozos’s forces arrive several years later, Robert must decide whether to support the man who has lifted him from a life of enslavement or defect and ally with Earth. This choice forces Robert to insert himself into the political process, opposing American President Nick Neverian, as the planet decides whether to forcefully resist invasion or accept Frozos’s demands. Robert’s own past with President Neverian, a one-time ally and now foe, further complicates his decision-making. As the crisis builds, will nations be brought to the brink of war? Will governments be toppled while the world reckons with Frozos’s army amassing in the sky?
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

Interview with Marissa Levien, author of The World Gives Way

Please welcome Marissa Levien to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author ChallengeInterviews. The World Gives Waywas published on June 15, 2021 by Redhook.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Marissa a Happy Book Birthday!






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

Marissa:  I wrote this truly bonkers story for a kindergarten assignment… we would dictate the story to our teacher, and they would write it out for us. For most kids, it was just a couple sentences, something like “The cat ran into the tree to chase a squirrel. Then a bird flew away.” Mine was this long run-on paragraph about an alien in a cloud spaceship coming down to earth to bury the severed limbs of his ancestors. It drew some weird looks from the teachers, but six-year-old me was very happy with the finished product.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Marissa:  I’d say I’m a hybrid. I love outlines, but I also strongly believe that you should let your characters change and grow as you’re writing them, which means sometimes they’re going to change the story on you. When that happens, you just kind of have to go with it.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Marissa:  When writing a story, I always get bogged down in the middle. I always have a sense of how a book is going to begin, and how I want it to end, but the middle is where I get stuck. Sometimes it’s because I’m trying to force a plot through that’s not quite the right fit anymore, or because I’m avoiding the necessary conflict or change for my characters. But somewhere, about 150 pages in, I usually have to take a step back and shake off my preconceived notions of the story in order to keep going.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Marissa:  Everything influences my writing. I’m a very big fan of reading all genres, and even outside of literature, just taking in as much of the world as possible; paintings, dance, history, travel, politics, scientific theorems, you name it.

For this book, I read a lot of Calvino, a lot of Beckett, Douglas Adams, Karen Thompson Walker, and Emily St. John Mandel. Lots of existentialism and lots of humanity. One of my main characters is also an art appreciator, so I got to pull from some of my favorite artists, like Alma Thomas and Roman Opalka.



TQDescribe The World Gives Way using only 5 words.

Marissa:  A warm, humane, aesthetic, apocalypse.



TQTell us something about The World Gives Way that is not found in the book description.

Marissa:  Most of the descriptions talk a lot about the class structure in the book, the fact that my main character is an indentured servant. I don’t think many of them directly state that the book is an apocalypse story.



TQWhat inspired you to write The World Gives Way?

Marissa:  I’ve had apocalypses on the brain for a few years now (I’m sure the 2016 election had something to do with it), and I kept thinking about what it would be like to know that the end of the world is coming, and to just sit with that knowledge. There are plenty of thrillers and action movies about characters fighting to avert the end of the world, but I was interested in writing a character who was fighting to come to terms with the end of everything, and fighting to live their best life with the time left.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The World Gives Way?

Marissa:  I did a lot of research on what I consider to be the world’s most beautiful places: Tokyo, Mexico City, Istanbul, Petra, Tunisian deserts, Mediterranean coasts, the Himalayas. I was creating a world that had to be a little bit of everything all compacted into one, so I wanted to blend as much of the world together as possible. That meant also finding ways to blend cultures with food, religion, architecture, technology, etc. I did a lot of research and then tried to pepper it into the world of the story as subtly as possible.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The World Gives Way.

Marissa:  Lisa Marie Pompilio designed the book cover, and it’s beautiful. There’s a lot of teal and warm peachy-orange colors; we’ve been joking that the color palette accidentally matches the decorating in our house. It’s been very convenient for Instagram.

The cover shows a woman in profile, against a moon and backdrop of stars. The woman is meant to be Myrra, my main character. I don’t know specifically if this was the intent, but her posture to me suggests someone who has been beaten down a bit, but is also resolute and strong. It fits the character very well.



TQIn The World Gives Way who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Marissa:  Tobias was the easiest character to write, I think because he’s fastidious. I like writing characters who are buttoned up, who want everything just so; I think I’m a little like that, which might be why they’re easy to write.

Myrra was the hardest (and most rewarding) character to write-- she’s faced with pretty terrible circumstances throughout The World Gives Way, and I had to constantly reassess and delve more deeply into what was driving her, what pushed her to keep going.



TQDoes The World Gives Way touch on any social issues?

Marissa:  I ended up having quite a bit to say about class structure in The World Gives Way, which is funny to me because I don’t think I intended to write a book that was so focused on that. But the circumstances of the story, the nature of the social structure aboard a generation ship where people must buy their passage-- it very much demanded that class, wealth, and power all be evaluated, and I got more and more passionate about it the more I wrote. Now it’s one of the first things people note when they’re describing the book, this element of class dystopia. I didn’t know how many opinions I had about class and the wealth gap until I started writing them down, but it turns out I’m pretty angry about it.



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

Marissa:  I’m sometimes surprised that people don’t ask more about the thread of motherhood in The World Gives Way. This was another thing that came into the book by accident, but became very meaningful as I kept writing. Early in the book, Myrra is given charge of a baby, Charlotte, and as she deals with all the other conflicts thrown her way, navigating an apocalypse, running from the government, etc, she is also learning how to be a mother. Myrra’s own mother disappeared, and the push-pull of her caring for Charlotte and coming to terms with her own fraught upbringing becomes a huge driving force in the story. I’m at a time in my life where I’m on the precipice of having a family of my own, and I spend a decent amount of time wondering what kind of mother I’ll be, if I’m capable of such a monumental thing. I think that definitely found its way into the book.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The World Gives Way.

Marissa

“The world is a relative concept”

“Who knows what keeps us from letting death in. Even now, when death waits at the threshold for the whole world.”



TQWhat's next?

Marissa:  I’ve been working on a haunted house book, which has been an absolute blast to write. It means I get to read a bunch of ghost stories and gothic romances, all in the name of research. I’ve set it on the Oregon Coast, an area where I grew up, which makes a nice change after all the worldbuilding I did in The World Gives Way. Earlier this year I took a trip out to Oregon to reacquaint myself with the landscape. I’m honestly surprised more people don’t set horror stories in the Pacific Northwest. It’s fantastically moody, with all the clouds and rain and dense impenetrable forests. I know Stephen King loves Maine, and the English have their wild moors, but the Pacific Northwest has always felt wonderfully haunted to me. I’m finishing up my first draft now. I’ll be eager to share it soon.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The World Gives Way
Redhook, June 15, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
“Marissa Levien's debut novel is a thrilling adventure, and in a moment when we're all looking for escape pods, this is a great one.”—Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author

ONE OF LITHUB'S MOST ANTICIPATED TITLES OF 2021

In a near-future world on the brink of collapse, a young woman born into servitude must seize her own freedom in this glittering debut with a brilliant twist.

In fifty years, Myrra will be free.

Until then, she's a contract worker. Ever since she was five, her life and labor have belonged to the highest bidder on her contract—butchers, laundries, and now the powerful, secretive Carlyles.

But when one night finds the Carlyles dead, Myrra is suddenly free a lot sooner than she anticipated—and at a cost she never could have imagined. Burdened with the Carlyles' orphaned daughter and the terrible secret they died to escape, she runs. With time running out, Myrra must come face to face with the truth about her world—and embrace what's left before it's too late.

A sweeping novel with a darkly glimmering heart, The World Gives Way is an unforgettable portrait of a world in freefall, and the fierce drive to live even at the end of it all.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Interview with Marissa Levien, author of The World Gives Way
© Robert Mannis

About Marissa

Marissa Levien is a writer and artist who hails from Washington State and now lives in New York with a kindly journalist and their two cats. The World Gives Way is her first novel.









Website  ~  Twitter @marissalevien


Interview with David Bowles, author of The Blue-Spangled Blue

Please welcome David Bowles to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Blue-Spangled Blue, David's adult SF Debut, was published on March 11, 2021 by Castle Bridge Media






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

David:  I still have it in the “baby book” my mother kept until I was seven—a bit of “microfiction” I wrote in first grade about a boy standing on the beach with an ice cream cone in his hand. A wave decides to snatch it from him.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

David:  A plotter for sure. Characters begin to make their own decisions and change some of the particulars, but I can’t write if I don’t have the basic story outlined.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

David:  Focusing on one particular book at a time. I have tons of ideas and dream projects.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

David:  The storytelling practices of my Mexican American family, especially the sorts of folktales I heard as a child, as they intersect with my own identity and passions.



TQDescribe The Blue-Spangled Blue using only 5 words.

David:  Action-packed religiopolitical BIPOC futurist romance



TQTell us something about The Blue-Spangled Blue that is not found in the book description.

David:  Many of the characters are queer, either in sexuality or in gender. In fact, the planet Jitsu waits until children are 10 before considering affirming a gender for them, and those who don’t feel either female or male are considered “omedeyo” or “twin-selved” (a term like our present “non-binary” or “two-spirit”).



TQWhat inspired you to write The Blue-Spangled Blue?

David:  After getting married, I lived with my wife’s family in Mexico for a while. The particular dynamics of her evangelical Mexican family, her sister’s neurodiversity, and her drive to give everyone in her community a better life got me to thinking about what such a struggle might look like on an interstellar scale. Over time, those reflections have led me to speculate about what it will take for humanity to pull away from its present struggle for power and wealth, moving down a different collective path.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Blue-Spangled Blue?

David:  Over two decades, I have crafted two very important elements of the novel: the “religion” known as The Path (or Neo Gnosticism) and the language Baryogo (I’m also a linguist, full disclosure). That required considerable study, as did developing the cultures of the Aknawajin (an ethnic group that arises in the asteroid belt, a blend of Indigenous Mesoamerican, African, and East/Southeast Asian peoples) and of the Simerianes (a branch of Latinx people that emerges in the Cimmeria region of Mars).



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Blue-Spangled Blue.

David:  The cover art was created by Estudio Tlalli, an activist non-profit dedicated to protecting land and community created by my two daughters (a tattoo artist and illustrator, respectively). It pictures the two contrasting couples in the book: Tenshi Koroma (foreground) and Brando D’Angelo (silhouette) – Konrau Beserra and Jeini Andrade (midground).



TQIn The Blue-Spangled Blue who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

David:  The easiest was Brando D’Angelo, because his personality is essentially a fictional extension of my 25-year-old past self. The hardest was (and continues to be) Samanei Koroma, Tenshi’s sister, because she is a powerful neurodiverse antagonist, and I have to constantly check whether I’m falling into stereotypes about people with dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia.



TQDoes The Blue-Spangled Blue touch on any social issues?

David:  Yes, very much so. It depicts humanity as having moved past white hegemony (the global majority—BIPOC people—are the ones who have colonized space), but still shackled by corporate capitalism and a will toward power. Religious fundamentalism, queer identity, and future spirituality are all explored as the series speculates as to how we might escape what seems an inevitable, tragic end as a species.



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

David:  Does it have bad-ass action scenes and space battles? Absolutely! What would a space opera be without them?



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

David

Tenshi to Brando: “Don’t imagine we need you or any other offworlder to be our savior. We can save ourselves just fine. You’ve come to teach, but you also need to learn. Instead of you being the hero and changing this world, maybe it will end up changing you.”

The Ramatini to Brando: “You don’t have a soul. You have a self. But you didn’t create that self. It has accrued together over time, coalescing out of bits from the world around, expectations imposed on you, teachings you’ve received, experiences you’ve had. The second Oracle taught us to shatter those selves and build bricolage souls from the pieces.”



TQWhat's next?

David:  Books 2 and 3 of THE PATH drop in July and November of this year. My Indigenous magic / steampunk graphic novel series Clockwork Curandera launches in October with The Witch Owl Parliament. In the midst of all that, Penguin Random House will be publishing my debut children’s book this summer, My Two Border Towns.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





The Blue-Spangled Blue
The Path 1
Castle Bridge Media, March x, 2021
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 690 pages
Jitsu. Once the center of human expansion into distant space, this world was isolated for the better part of a century, a theocratic government rising to fill the void left by its former corporate owners. Now, as Jitsu begins to open itself to the rest of humanity, Brando D’Angelo di Makomo accepts a teaching position on the arid planet. He finds himself drawn to controversial architect Tenshi Koroma and her religious reform movement. As he learns more about Tenshi's faith—The Path—Brando decides to accept its tenets, to shatter his identity and rebuild himself so that he can be worthy of a soul.

But the dogmatic struggles on Jitsu are a mask for the machinations of a diabolical mind, and the professor’s life will be forever altered by the cruelty of Tenshi’s enemies.

In the aftermath, Brando will find a deadly new Way along The Path.

And his steps will echo throughout history.
Amazon



Upcoming

The Deepest Green
The Path 2
Castle Bridge Media, July 13, 2021
Kindle eBook
Twins Teri and Miwa Miranda are happy and popular high school students on the independent world of Terego. Their family is beloved by the community: their sweet half-brother Jakobo, caring stepmother Rhea, and doting father Nando, a model citizen in all aspects of his life.

But every bit of that life is a lie.

In reality, Nando Miranda is Brando D'Angelo, a wanted fugitive, raising the clones of his murdered wife and daughter, hoping he won't be discovered.

Now the armed forces of the Consortium have finally tracked him down. In an instant his carefully constructed identity is exploded, and the true nature of his daughters is revealed.

The devastated teens have little time to assimilate the news. Retreating from their community in shock, they find themselves abducted, drawn into a cataclysmic crisis that will shake the foundations of human society.

For humans are not the only species on Terego. In the deep green shadows of its impenetrable forests, fierce creatures are rallying for war.

And an ancient intelligence is awakening from its slumber.
Amazon





Photo by Paul Chouy, UTRGV

About David

David Bowles is a Mexican American author and translator from south Texas. Among his many award-winning titles are Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico; The Smoking Mirror, and They Call Me Güero. His work has been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as The New York Times, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, The Dark, Latin American Literature Today, School Library Journal, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature. Additionally, David has worked on several TV/film projects, including Victor and Valentino (Cartoon Network), the Moctezuma & Cortés miniseries (Amazon/Amblin) and Monsters and Mysteries in America (Discovery). Learn more at www.davidbowles.us and follow him on Twitter @DavidOBowles

Interview with T.L. Huchu, author of The Library of the Dead

Please welcome T.L. Huchu to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Library of the Dead was published on June 1, 2021 by Tor Books.






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

T.L.:  I recall attempting to write a novel during my GCSE holidays (I would have been about 16 at the time). It was called “The Enigma of Alfred”, and was about an alcoholic recluse who secretly ruled the world. Needless to say, I lacked the stamina and the skill to pull it off.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

T.L.:  Definitely a hybrid. I like drafting notes and planning. But when the writing actually starts, a lot of stuff goes out the window. It’s as Mike Tyson said, “Everyone’s got a plan till they get punched in the mouth.” So, when the characters start doing their own thing, the plan’s got to be updated and/or discarded.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

T.L.:  Writing is a joy, a beautiful thing, a playful activity. The art itself is pure. I suspect most challenges are to do with things outside the writing itself; by this I mean, most writer’s hang-ups are to do with publication, reviews, sales, etc, not the actual writing itself. If one is not mindful, those external things can end up adversely affecting one’s writing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

T.L.:  Books, naturally. I’m a reader first and foremost. TV and pop culture.



TQDescribe The Library of the Dead using only 5 words.

T.L.:  Ghouls, Grimoires, Ghostalkers, Guts & Glory.



TQTell us something about The Library of the Dead that is not found in the book description.

T.L.:  The book is an exploration of Scottish history, in particular, the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Library of the Dead? What appeals to you about writing contemporary fantasy?

T.L.:  Fantasy brings out the inner child in all of us. That sense of wonder about a universe we don’t quite understand. It turns that shadow in the corner of your eye, the one you can’t quite see, into that most primitive form of art, the story.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Library of the Dead?

T.L.:  Most of my research was on history and science, in particular Scotland’s immense contributions to the modern world in this regard. TQ: If I pulled out my modern map of Edinburgh would I be able to follow Ropa through the city? How have you changed Edinburgh for The Library of the Dead?

All the locations described in the book exist, though some have been altered. You have Edinburgh as a third world city. The Edinburgh you find in the text exists as different layers of history superimposed upon one another, so you find the past in the future.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Library of the Dead.

T.L.:  The cover was designed by Leo Nickolls who has an incredible, sort of illustrative style, and he has an amazing track record for doing stunning covers. For my book, you have the towering figure of the Scottish philosopher David Hume on either side and a rendering of the magical library in the book. Nickolls did a great job; it’s a work of art in its own right.



TQ: In The Library of the Dead who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

T.L.:  There is no such thing as easy or hard when it comes to creating your characters. Even the most minor ones with walk-on parts deserve care and attention.



TQDoes The Library of the Dead touch on any social issues?

T.L.:  It contains themes of class and exploitation, but I hope it doesn’t come across as didactic and that the novel never loses a sense of fun. I read to escape, to get away from it all, and you can have that with “The Library of the Dead”, but, if you want to go deeper, then it, hopefully, has something to say about the world we live in, too.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Library of the Dead.

T.L.:  “Eat my vag.”



TQWhat's next?

T.L.:  I’ve just turned in the second book in the series ,“Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments”, and, hopefully, that should be out next spring.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

T.L.:  Thanks for having me. This was a LOT of fun!!!





The Library of the Dead
Edinburgh Nights 1
Tor Books, June 1, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
"An absolute delight . . . kept me totally hooked." – Genevieve Cogman, bestselling author of The Invisible Library

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu's The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.


WHEN GHOSTS TALK
SHE WILL LISTEN

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and they sure do love to talk. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to those they left behind. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and strength. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will rock her world.

Ropa will dice with death as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. And although underground Edinburgh hides a wealth of dark secrets, she also discovers an occult library, a magical mentor and some unexpected allies.

Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

"A fast-moving and entertaining tale, beautifully written." – Ben Aaronovitch, bestselling author of Rivers of London
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





About T.L. Huchu

T. L. Huchu (he/him) has been published previously (as Tendai Huchu) in the adult market, but The Library of the Dead is his genre fiction debut. His previous books (The Hairdresser of Harare and The Maestro, The Magistrate and the Mathematician) have been translated into multiple languages and his short fiction has won awards. Tendai grew in up Zimbabwe but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life.






Twitter @TendaiHuchu


Interview with Ava Reid, author of The Wolf and the Woodsman

Please welcome Ava Reid to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Wolf and the Woodsman is published on June 8, 2021 by Harper Voyager.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Ava a Happy Book Birthday!






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

Ava:  Definitely fanfiction for the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. Honestly a very auspicious start for my fantasy career—grimdark middle grade about feral cats.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Ava:  A pantser, absolutely. None of my books have ever been outlined. I find that when I outline I inevitably get bored with the project. I’m definitely a thematic writer, so everything kind of coalesces around a concept, and the details shake out as I write.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ava:  Revising. I’m a big picture person and anything that involves getting into the nitty gritty is difficult for me. I’m lucky to have critique partners who treat me very gently when I abandon plot threads halfway through or mix up characters mid-scene!



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Ava:  My academic studies, for one. I majored in political science and worked a lot on topics of religion, ethnic nationalism, and state-building—all of which underpin the fantasy genre but are rarely given a lot of actual page time. I’m also very much into the genre-blending speculative work of writers like Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, and Karen Russell. Anything eerie, strange, and a bit mordant.



TQDescribe The Wolf and the Woodsman using only 5 words.

Ava:  Eating things you shouldn’t eat.



TQTell us something about The Wolf and the Woodsman that is not found in the book description.

Ava:  It has no actual wolves, but it does have a bear.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Wolf and the Woodsman? What appeals to you about writing fantasy?

Ava:  There was one precise moment that I remember which served as the impetus for this book. I was reading about Hungary for a paper I was writing for one of my classes, and I ended up down a Wikipedia rabbit hole about Hungarian history. I stumbled upon a sort of casual, throwaway sentence about how Saint Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary, had his nephew and heir apparent’s eyes stabbed out for being a pagan.

The image of that, the symbolic resonance and the brutality, was so visceral that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What sort of zealous devotion would prompt such an act of barbarity? Doing more research, I came to understand that sort of cruelty was necessary to the construction of the state of Hungary as we now know it. I’m hardly the first person to conclude that state-building requires violence; Charles Tilly would agree with me on that one—but it was something I rarely saw directly addressed in fantasy.

The Wolf and the Woodsman drew together a lot of disparate threads of history, politics, and culture, but reading that factoid about Saint Stephen that was the moment when I knew: okay, this is a book I need to write.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Wolf and the Woodsman?

Ava:  Lots and lots of historical research about medieval Hungary and about early Christianity. I read about Finno-Ugric languages and Magyar tribes. I read Hungarian ballads and folktales. I read about Jewish magic and mysticism and about Jewish history in Hungary. I also read political monographs about state-building, religion, ethnonationalism, and identity, particularly the works of Charles Tilly, Benedict Anderson, and Edward Said.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Wolf and the Woodsman.

Ava:  The cover was actually meticulously hand-painted by Russell Cobb, who did a stunning job rendering so many unique details. There are at least three “Easter eggs” from the book hidden inside the design of the cloak—for people who have read it already, try to find them!

When I initially received the design for the cover, the background was green, not blue. I asked my team if they’d be willing to make it blue instead, as blue is a significant color in Judaism. My grandmother is already telling people that she’s responsible for this change, since many, many months ago I asked her what kind of Jewish elements she’d like to see reflected in the cover!



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

Ava:  The easiest was Gáspár. Even though he’s tormented and has dual loyalties, the core of his character is introspection and compassion. Nándor was much more difficult. Writing villains who are real people and not just avatars for the author’s own opinions is hard. I decided to lean into the glamour and allure that he and his beliefs represent. The concept of a homogeneous, unbroken nation is something that can be very appealing if you don’t think too hard about what it takes to create a country like that.



TQDoes The Wolf and the Woodsman touch on any social issues?

Ava:  It is nearly impossible to write a fantasy book that includes Jews without being political in some way. The fantasy genre relies on the concept of a homogeneous nation state and antisemitism is pretty much one of the foundational blocks of the genre, going back to Tolkien and even further, to medieval myths of blood libel. If you peel back enough layers, most European-set fantasy books are, in some way, tacitly antisemitic.

If you want Jewish people to even exist in your fantasy world, it requires problematizing the notion of a homogeneous nation-state. I wanted to write about a character who doesn’t have the sort of unbending, unconscious patriotism and loyalty to her nation that is usually a given in fantasy books. I wanted to write a character who was typically excluded from narratives, who had to fight for her own inclusion and identity. I was of course inspired by my own cultural heritage, and I think these themes are incredibly resonant in today’s political climate.



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

Ava:  I wish someone would ask if any of the characters are inspired by real people! In truth, most of them are amalgams of various real historical figures, including Saint Stephen himself, but also Andrew I of Hungary (otherwise known as Andrew the White), Béla I of Hungary, and Vazul of House Árpád. (They’re all fascinating people with bloody histories that I highly recommend reading about!)



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Wolf and the Woodsman.

Ava:  My favorite non-spoilery quote is “Do not concern yourself with the bear.”



TQWhat's next?

Ava:  My next book is another standalone, a horror-fantasy retelling of Grimm’s The Juniper Tree set in Victorian-era Ukraine. A good portion of my family emigrated from Odessa in the early 20th century, so it was fun to research that time period and also repurpose some apocryphal family stories! It has the last three witches in an industrializing city, a gruesome curse, and varenyky with suspicious filling. Look out for it in summer 2022.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





The Wolf and the Woodsman
Harper Voyager, June 8, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages
In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo






About Ava

Ava Reid was born in Manhattan and raised right across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey, but currently lives in Palo Alto. She has a degree in political science from Barnard College, focusing on religion and ethnonationalism. She has worked for a refugee resettlement organization, for a U.S. senator, and, most recently, for an AI robotics startup. The Wolf and the Woodsman is her first novel.


Website  ~  Twitter @asimonereid
2021 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September 2021 Debuts2021 Debut Author Challenge - September 2021 DebutsInterview with John Appel, author of Assassin's Orbit2021 Debut Author Challenge - August 2021 DebutsInterview with J.P. Oakes, author of City of Iron and DustJuly 2021 DebutsInterview with Marissa Levien, author of The World Gives WayInterview with David Bowles, author of The Blue-Spangled BlueInterview with T.L. Huchu, author of The Library of the DeadInterview with Ava Reid, author of The Wolf and the Woodsman

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