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Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black


The cover for the Trade Paperback edition of Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black was recently revealed (by the author on Facebook)! I like the change in cover as it depicts something from the novel, which I recommend you read. 

In my review I said that "Ninth City Burning is both grand space opera and post-apocalyptic SF anchored in compelling characters and exceptional intricate worldbuilding." See my full review here.


Ninth City Burning
Ace
Trade Paperback, forthcoming
Hardcover and eBook, September 6, 2016

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
For fans of Ender’s Game, Red Rising, and The Hunger Games comes an explosive, epic science fiction debut…
Cities vanished, gone in flashes of world-shattering destruction. An alien race had come to make Earth theirs, bringing a power so far beyond human technology it seemed like magic. It was nearly the end of the world—until we learned to seize the power, and use it to fight back.

The war has raged for five centuries. For a cadet like Jax, one of the few who can harness the enemy’s universe-altering force, that means growing up in an elite military academy, training for battle at the front—and hoping he is ready. For Naomi, young nomad roaming the wilds of a ruined Earth, it means a daily fight for survival against the savage raiders who threaten her caravan.

When a new attack looms, these two young warriors find their paths suddenly intertwined. Together with a gifted but reckless military commander, a factory worker drafted as cannon fodder, a wild and beautiful gunfighter, and a brilliant scientist with nothing to lose—they must find a way to turn back the coming invasion, or see their home finally and completely destroyed.

[description from the Hardcover]

Interview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning Isle


Please welcome Will Panzo to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Burning Isle was published on November 1st by Ace.



Interview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning Isle




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

Will:  I started writing as a teenager. Before then, I often made up stories and characters and worlds, but I didn't put them to paper. I just, sort of, walked around with these people and these strange ideas in my head, sometimes for months. In my early teens I started writing, mostly as a way of getting those thoughts out of my head. I quickly realized I didn't know how to write, but it seemed the only way to learn was to do it. So I did a good amount of writing and an equal amount of throwing away.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Will:  I'm more of a pantser. I need to know the ending of a story before I can start. I have to be writing towards something. But the writing itself is a discovery. Sometimes whole chunks of story come to me, and I'll plot those sections out. But then during the act of writing, I'll inevitably stray from the path I set myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Will:  Feeling like I'm getting at something honest and raw. I don't like to feel as though I'm treading water in a story, or walking a reader through the beats they've come to expect. It's a challenge to stay present and open while writing. You've got to trust that the thing which excites you, but which you're worried might be too much for an audience, is the only thing worth pursuing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does being a former editor at Marvel affect (or not) your novel writing?

Will:  I'm a huge fantasy fan, but also a fan of literary fiction, poetry, comics. Pulling from influences outside your genre is a great way to explore new ground. The mantra I learned at Marvel was a good editor helps a writer or artist tell the best version of their story. I try to put myself in that mindset when I write. I ask myself what story am I trying to tell, and what is the best version of that story.



TQDescribe The Burning Isle in 140 characters or less.

Will:  A dark, violent story set in a fantasy ancient Rome with lots of magic and revenge.



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

Will:  Our protagonist, Cassius, is a young man who is very powerful and very naive. Obsessed with myths and legends, he fancies himself an avenging hero come to clean up a lawless town. But when confronted with the harsh reality of his work, he realizes that the cost of vengeance is innocence, and the cost of power is your humanity



TQWhat inspired you to write The Burning Isle? What appeals to you about writing Grimdark Fantasy?

Will:  I've always liked stories where a mysterious hero plays two sides of a corrupt town against each other. We've seen this story told in feudal Japan (Kurosawa's Yojimbo), in the Old West (Leone's A Fistful of Dollars), and in Depression-era America (Hammet's Red Harvest). I thought it would be interesting to set this kind of story in a fantasy world. I also wanted to write a revenge story. Lastly, I wanted to show a protagonist really struggle, psychologically and morally, with the violence and upheaval he causes.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Burning Isle?

Will:  A lot of Roman names. Hundreds of them. Military equipment and civilian tools from roughly the first century AD. Accounts of people driven mad by jungles. I'm very eager to sacrifice authenticity for a more satisfying story though, so I make no claims to authenticity.



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

Will:  Sulla was by far the easiest. She had her own agenda, and no qualms about pursuing it. Cassius was more difficult. I had a handle on what he wanted. But his quest troubled him. He's a very conflicted character.



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

Will:  Do you think Cassius is a hero? That's the central question of the story itself. I honestly don't have an answer though. I don't think there is a clear answer. It's this uncertainty that plagues Cassius.



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

Will:  "That thing gnawing inside you, I know it well. It has a tremendous appetite, and it can only be sated with blood and fire. A man of your skills is liable to leave a great trail of ruin trying to feed it."



TQWhat's next?

Will:  I'm working on another novel set in the same world as The Burning Isle, with some returning characters. I'm very happy with how it's shaping up so far.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Will:  Thanks for having me!





The Burning Isle
Ace, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning Isle
A powerful and gripping debut grimdark fantasy novel, set in a world of criminals, pirates, assassins, and magic…

“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”

Cassius is not lost…

The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…

But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This is a treacherous island where the native gods are restless and anything can happen…





About Will

After working in publishing and as an editor for Marvel Comics, Will Panzo found his true calling as a physician assistant for an emergency department. The Burning Isle is his first novel. He lives and works in New York City.


Website ~ Twitter @WillPanzo

Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan


The Waking Fire
Author:  Anthony Ryan
Series:  The Draconis Memoria 1
Publisher:  Ace, July 5, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
List Price:  US$28.00 (print); US$11.99 (eBook)
ISBN9781101987858 (print); 9781101987865 (eBook)

Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
The New York Times bestselling Raven’s Shadow Trilogy was a perfect read for “fans of broadscale epic fantasy along the lines of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels.”* Now, Anthony Ryan begins a new saga, The Draconis Memoria…

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from the veins of captive or hunted Reds, Green, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that give fearsome powers to the rare men and women who have the ability harness them—known as the blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered blood-blessed, who finds himself pressed into service by the protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted territories in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin, facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an ironship, whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.

As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake.

*Library Journal



Tracey's Review

At the dawn of the Corporate Age, the Mandinorian nobility replaced their properties and privileges for shares in the Iron Trading Syndicate. Their pursuit of profit reigns supreme and the most sought after commodity comes from the "Interior" of the untamed continent of Arradsia. Indigenous to the Interior are several species of drakes, (dragons) whose blood can be distilled into a miraculous mixture called "product". However the blood of drakes is dangerous to all but the small percentage of humans, called Blood-blessed, who can safely consume it. Product is extremely valuable because once used by a Blood-blessed, it temporarily provides enhancements comparable to superpowers.

Overhunting and exploitation of the drakes has seen a drop in the amount of product available and a shortage in product would mean a sharp reduction in profit. Lodima Bondersil, a prominent member of the Iron Trading Syndicate, believes there may be a solution. An artifact has recently been recovered that can be linked to the ill-fated Wittler Expedition. Over thirty years ago, Wittler and his team had been searching a particularly dangerous section of the Interior for the nesting place of the elusive White Drake. Legend has it, that the White Drake is the most powerful of all its brethren. The explorers, along with Ethelynne Drystone, one of Lodima's prized pupils disappeared without a trace, but not before sending a communication to Lodima of a vital discovery.

Setting her secret plans into motion, Lodima plans to succeed where Wittler failed. She hopes that even the remains of a White will boost the projected decline in the economy. But complications arise as the aggressive Corvantine Empire's desire for conquest blossoms and war between the two hegemonic regimes becomes imminent.

The Waking Fire is the first book in author Anthony Ryan's second series; The Draconis Memoria. And by the way; it's awesome. A complete departure from the world he created in his previous Raven's Shadow series, The Waking Fire is set in a complex and beautifully detailed steampunk-esque era. Ryan is a skilled world-builder and his expertise is demonstrated throughout this nearly six hundred page book. I was immediately impressed with the particulars of this world's settings and the fact that his descriptions are as rich in texture as they are to the senses of sight and sound. Ryan effortlessly transports his readers from a hideout concealed in a decaying church in the slums, to life aboard an Ironship war vessel, and easily transitions to the deserts, mountains, and jungles of the danger-fraught Interior.

The Waking Fire is a detailed account, written in the perspective of three characters, each important players in the unfolding events. Efficient and ruthless, Lizanne Lethridge, is this world's version of Agent 007. Being Blood-blessed allows Lizanne the opportunity to perform fantastic feats that are utterly kickass and believable. Clay Torcreek is an orphan and a thief who uses the fact that he is an unregistered Blood-blessed to his every advantage. Clay is one step away from leaving the slums forever when the consequences of his life of crime catch up with him. Motivated by guilt and the promise of freedom, he is coerced into joining his uncle's expedition into the Interior. I really like that Lizanne and Clay start off somewhat unlikeable, but gradually grew in my affections. The third main POV, 2nd Lt. Corrick Hilemore, is an honorable naval officer who is compassionate as well as brave. Although he is involved in some amazing battles at sea, his thread doesn't shine as bright as Lizanne's or Clay's, and his story arc stagnates during the last portion of the book. I am assuming that he is intended for bigger and better things in book two.

This gorgeous new world, fraught with peril at every turn, delivers a breathtaking ride through battles, across oceans, and deep into the heart of the jungle. Its characters are well-written and three-dimensional; dealing with topics such as political intrigue, greed, and impending war. I absolutely love this book and have high hopes for the series. Anthony Ryan weaves an intricate tale that is part Raiders of the Lost Ark, part James Bond, and part Master and Commander, but with dragons. Calling all lovers of epic fantasy; you don't want to miss The Waking Fire.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Burning Isle by Will Panzo


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Burning Isle by Will Panzo


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


Will Panzo

The Burning Isle
Ace, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Burning Isle by Will Panzo
A powerful and gripping debut grimdark fantasy novel, set in a world of criminals, pirates, assassins, and magic…

“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”

Cassius is not lost…

The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…

But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This is a treacherous island where the native gods are restless and anything can happen…

Interview with J. Patrick Black, author of Ninth City Burning


Please welcome J. Patrick Black to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Ninth City Burning was published on September 6th by Ace.







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

JPB:  Thanks for having me! I've always enjoyed writing, but I didn't get into it seriously until college. I took a creative writing seminar and was just hooked. I've been at it ever since.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

JPB:  I suppose I'd say I'm more of a hybrid. The broader the storyline gets, the larger and more sweeping the events involved, the more careful I am about plotting things out in advance, but I like to leave room for surprise and improvisation when it comes to filling in the details. That's especially true when I'm writing something especially character driven; for me it sometimes takes actually writing a scene out to really know what a given character will do or say.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JPB:  Dealing with the fact that every word might not come out perfectly on the first try. It's easy for me to get hung up on the phrasing of a particular sentence or choice of vocabulary and lose track of the bigger picture. I have to remind myself to keep moving even if I'm not absolutely satisfied with the way my writing sounds--there will be time to come back and fuss over the words, but I need to make sure I've got a story first.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

JPB:  As I think is the case with a lot of writers in the speculative genres, there those books I encountered as a kid that marked out a territory in my mind that would always be off in some other world. Ursula K. LeGuin's "A Wizard of Earthsea" is one of many, many examples. I'm still an avid reader, and omnivorous, and I'm sure everything I read influences me to some degree or other. I'm a big fan of short stories--Lorrie Moore is one of my favorites--and I've got a soft spot for experimental fiction. Really, though, I'd say I have most of my ideas when I'm away from my desk: walking through the city (hometown: Boston), taking a long drive, standing in line at the supermarket. I'm not sure if those quite qualify as influences, but if so one of my more important ones would have to be going to the beach.



TQDescribe Ninth City Burning in 140 characters or less.

JPB:  Alternate reality invades Earth using a universe-altering power called thelemity. We learn to use it and fight back. Action, adventure ensue (think that's 140 exactly!)



TQTell us something about Ninth City Burning that is not found in the book description.

JPB:  It has seven first-person narrators, each with his or her own voice.



TQWhat inspired you to write Ninth City Burning? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction? Do you consider Ninth City Burning a Dystopian novel?

JPB:  There wasn't really any single moment of inspiration for Ninth City Burning. It was more like whole constellation of different proto-stories, ideas that had been floating around my head--for years, in some cases--merged together to create something larger than any of them. The catalyst was the concept of the fontani, sources capable of creating almost unlimited power, but only within a small area--sort of like wifi. That was the idea that bridged the space between all these other ideas, and allowed me to bring them all together.

One reason science fiction appeals to me is the sheer breadth of possibilities (or, seen another way, the absence of limitations). Every genre has its own tropes and conventions, but with science fiction these are far from required, and in the hands of really great writers can act as a kind of shorthand for the experienced reader. You see scifi elements everywhere, from literary fiction to joyously pulpy action extravaganzas--it can take you anywhere.

I don't consider Ninth City Burning a dystopian novel per se. To me, dystopian fiction tends to revolve around some central issue or ideology the consequence of which the story's author wants to explore. Ninth City Burning certainly has features common to dystopian fiction--there are plenty of totalitarian overtones, for example--but these aren't tied to any particular present day issue. They're a consequence of a highly militarized society, and war has been around longer than history.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Ninth City Burning?

JPB:  I read up on my military history, researching different eras of warfare. The conflict at the center of Ninth City Burning is very different from what we see in the modern world, but I had the idea that principles from the past would still apply. I also went back and revisited some of the story's conceptual ancestors: my favorite alien wars, adventures in fantastical other realms, giant robot battles. I had a good idea of the areas of genre I intended to inhabit, and I wanted to get a good view of the territory.



TQIn Ninth City Burning, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

JPB:  All of the characters presented their own challenges, but I think I had the easiest time with Kizabel, if only because I felt free to explain as much or as little as I wanted about the ideas behind the story; with most characters I had to be very careful about not loading down the plot with exposition, but Kizabel narrates with footnotes, so if there was some big idea I really wanted to get into, I could use those without interrupting the story. The hardest to write was probably Imway; he's very competent at what he does, and he wants you to know it, so I had to make sure I knew every little specification for everything he describes. Also, he's kind of a jerk, and I wanted that to come through but also feel sympathetic from his perspective; the dissonance between how I thought he was acting (like an ass) and how he thought he was acting (like a completely reasonable person) made his narrative the hardest to balance for me.



TQWhich question about Ninth City Burning do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

JPB:

Q: Where does the word "thelemity" come from?

A: Well, Patrick, I'm glad you asked! It comes from a word in Ancient Greek meaning "to will" or "to wish". It seemed like an appropriate root to use when describing an energy with quasi-magical properties.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Ninth City Burning.

JPB:

"When I think on Death, I imagine her as a child, a girl in a white dress with untidy hair, running barefoot through the battlefield, collecting lives like wildflowers."

"And when you think about it, most things that are really fun *aren't* toys."



TQWhat's next?

JPB:  The sequel to Ninth City Burning will (hopefully) be out next year!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JPB:  Thanks! It's been fun!





Ninth City Burning
Ace, September 6, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

For fans of Red Rising, Starship Troopers, and Ender’s Game comes an explosive, epic science fiction debut…

We never saw them coming.

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy's tactics are changing, and Earth's defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.



You may read my review of Ninth City Burning here.





About J. Patrick Black

Photo by Beowulf Sheehan
J. Patrick Black has worked as a bartender, a small-town lawyer, a homebuilder, and a costumed theme park character, all while living a secret double life as a fiction writer. While fiction is now his profession, he still finds occasion to ply his other trades as well. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he likes to visit the ocean. NINTH CITY BURNING is his first novel. Find out more about J. Patrick Black online at www.jpatrickblack.com





Twitter @JPatrickBlack  ~  Instagram

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Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black


Ninth City Burning
Author:  J. Patrick Black
Publisher:  Ace, September 6, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages
List Price: US$27.00 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101991442 (print); 9781101991459 (eBook)

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut...

We never saw them coming.

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy's tactics are changing, and Earth's defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.



Qwill's Thoughts

Ninth City Burning is set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been at war for the last 500 years with aliens. Part One of the novel introduces us to the primary characters - Jax, Naomi and her sister Rae, Torro and his friends, and Vinneas and his friends, Imway and Kizabel. The story is told from their varying points of view. Black presents the structure of his world - the war, the Ninth City, the Settlements, the enemy (the Romeos) and more all without really explaining what is going on. I liked this part of the novel though I really had no real information about the war, who the attackers are, etc. It's not until Part Two that Black reveals what is going on or at least what he wants us to know is going on. For me this is when I really started to enjoy Ninth City Burning. As the novel progresses the characters are more deeply fleshed out as they change, face obstacles and end up fighting to save the planet.

Black's worldbuilding is remarkable. He has a created a highly structured system to support the war effort. There are schools in the Cities set up to teach the elite and those who can use thelemity. Thelemity, which is an inventive concept, is well explained. There are the Settlements that supply the food, draftees and more for the war effort. There are people who live outside the Cities and Settlements and trade with the Settlements. It's really fascinating. Each of these groups are represented in the point of view characters.

There are wonderful little mentions of songs, books, TV shows from what is called the Common Era (before the war) - they are both familiar anchors and a bit disorienting at the same time.

The main characters are all young as those studying in the Cities and those drafted and in the war effort tend to be preteens and teens. This society is nothing like our own. Black does a nice job with each of the POV characters as we see their inner struggles as well as outer ones. These characters are very different from each other and Black does an excellent job with each of their 'voices'.

Ninth City Burning is both grand space opera and post-apocalyptic SF anchored in compelling characters and exceptional intricate worldbuilding. I'm looking forward to the next novel in this series.


Note: Ninth City Burning does not end with a cliffhanger.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black


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


J. Patrick Black

Ninth City Burning
Ace, September 6, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut...

We never saw them coming.

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy's tactics are changing, and Earth's defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.

Spotlight and Excerpt - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black


The Qwillery is thrilled to share an excerpt and more from J. Patrick Black's debut novel - Ninth City Burning!



Ninth City Burning
Ace, September 6, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

Spotlight and Excerpt - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut...

We never saw them coming.

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy's tactics are changing, and Earth's defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.




Excerpt

The Valentine War, Earth 500 Years Ago

It starts with the world how it used to be, with countries and billions of people living everywhere. Back then there was no such thing as thelemity, and people built houses and machines sort of like they have in settlements today, but all of that changed when the Valentines came.

The reason we call them the Valentines is that the day they first attacked, February 14 on the old Western Calendar, was called “Valentine’s Day”. We still don’t know what the Valentines call themselves, because we’ve never been able to talk to them. We don’t even know what they look like. People had all sorts of different names for them early in the war, but “Valentine” is the one that ended up being the most popular. It used to mean something totally different, but not many people remember that now.

We never saw them coming. All at once cities just started disappearing. A city would be there, everything totally normal, and then it would be gone, nothing but rubble and a cloud of dust. By the time we figured out we were under attack, half the cities in the world had already been destroyed. We tried to fight back, but the Valentines had thelemity, and our strongest weapons were next to useless. They probably would have killed every single person on the planet, except for one thing: It turned out we could use thelemity too.




Cast of Characters

JAX: A cadet at the Academy and the youngest fontanus in Ninth City. With the ability to harness thelemity, Jax must stand for all citizens during Valentine attacks and act as the only defense between the city and complete destruction.

NAOMI: The youngest sister in the Ochre family, and a member of the nomadic Walker tribe. Naomi longs to be a scout like her older sister, Rae, but her undiscovered gifts will take her down a different path, far away from the life she knows.

RAE: The beautiful, impulsive leader of the Ochre family and a scout for the Walker tribe. Rae’s penchant for bravery and lack of fear plunge her into a new world, where her strength will be tested in ways she never imagined.

TORRO: A factory worker in Settlement 225, which provides supplies and soldiers to the Legion’s war effort. Torro’s uncomplicated life is suddenly disrupted when he finds himself drafted as cannon fodder and shipped away to the horror of the front lines.

VINNEAS: Procurator of the Academy, responsible for every cadet at the school of Grammar and Rhetoric. Part of being Procurator is being prepared for command in combat, but an unwelcome promotion sends him to active duty sooner than he expects.

IMWAY: The top ranked warrior in the Equites Aspirant, the most elite fighting unit in the Academy. Highly skilled in combat, Imway’s power stems from a suit of armor called ‘equus’ and the ego that comes with it stands the chance of ruining any relationship he has.

KIZABEL: The most sought after Artifex—a creator of artifices—at the Academy. Her most recent project violates many rules, and Kizabel faces expulsion or incarceration if caught. But her project will revolutionize equus design, if she can only get it running.


Together, this unlikely group of allies will face a mysterious enemy and a war that has brought their world to the brink of destruction.




About the Author

Spotlight and Excerpt - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
Photo by Beowulf Sheehan
J. Patrick Black has worked as a bartender, a small-town lawyer, a homebuilder, and a costumed theme park character, all while living a secret double life as a fiction writer. While fiction is now his profession, he still finds occasion to ply his other trades as well. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he likes to visit the ocean. NINTH CITY BURNING is his first novel. Find out more about J. Patrick Black online at www.jpatrickblack.com












Interview with Holly Jennings, author of Arena


Please welcome Holly Jennings to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Arena is published April 5th by Ace.



Interview with Holly Jennings, author of Arena




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

Holly:  I honestly don't remember this but my mother tells me that when I was a kid I used to say I was going to be an author one day. I know I was writing a lot as a teenager, mostly for fun, and finally started trying to do something with it in my late twenties. I really can't tell you why, it's just something I've always enjoyed. If I had to say, it would be because I love creating new worlds or futures and figuring out what kind of people would exist in them and what their stories would be. There's something very fulfilling about starting with a blank page and finishing with an entire universe that never existed before.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Holly:  I was a complete pantser a few years ago but I'm slowly transforming into a plotter. Pantsing is still fine when I'm writing a short story or a standalone book, but now that I'm getting into novel series, it's much smoother and less headache-y if I plan things out first.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Holly:  I think it's when I don't have anything to work on. I rarely take breaks from writing. Even when I decide I need a few days off, I'm usually back at it in less than twenty-four hours. So, when I finished one story and don't have an idea for another, it's extremely frustrating for me.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Holly:  I draw influence from a variety of sources, from books, movies, video games, graphic novels, and short stories to scientific articles, and even a little poetry. I enjoy writing things that read like "a movie in your mind" so I'm influenced most by fast-paced and very visual works of any medium. As for authors, Damian Angelica Walters has probably had the most impact on my style. I love her short stories. The way she writes is just so smooth and lyrical.



TQDescribe Arena in 140 characters or less.

Holly:  When her virtual teammate dies in reality, gamer Kali Ling fights to expose the venality of digital sports before its game over for all.



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

Holly:  One of my favorite things about Arena is that it's set in a future where gamers have become celebrity-athletes and hold a high status in society. Since the media usually portrays gamers as the opposite, I'm hoping it's an interesting twist on the trope.



TQWhat inspired you to write Arena? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction? Why a near-future setting?

Holly:  I had the inspiration for Arena when I was reading Neuromancer and came across a documentary about professional gaming in North America. I had heard of pro-gaming being popular in other parts of the world, but didn't know it was gaining traction in North America, too. Eventually, my mind started to blend these two concepts into a tech-heavy future where pro-gamers plug directly into the game and compete in tournaments in front of millions of people.

I've always loved science fiction because it forces us to explore other worlds or possible futures, and wonder "what if?" What if The Matrix was real? What if we could travel faster than light? I love how the only limitation is our imagination.

As for the near-future setting, it just went well with world dominated by VR technology and competitive gaming. I think it'll only be a few decades before we have full-immersion virtual reality, maybe even sooner.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Arena?

Holly:  All kinds! I love researching. The most amount of my time probably went into researching the evolution of VR technology, and predictions about the future of eSports. Next was the lives of celebrity-athletes and what it's really like behind all the glamor. The main character Kali also explores some basic concepts of Taoism in the book. I'd already been studying it myself on and off for a few years, so most of that was just brushing up on the subject and getting beta feedback from people who know a lot more than I do.



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

Holly:  The main character Kali was probably the most difficult because she changes quite a lot through the story. It was a challenge to pace her evolution in a believable way throughout the book. Her friend Hannah was by far the easiest. She's extremely easy-going and upbeat, and isn't afraid to joke around about anything. She's a blast to write.



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

Holly:  I wish someone would ask why I included several diverse characters in the novel, and the answer is that after playing games with people around the world, I've found that gamers are just as diverse of a group as any other and I wanted that diversity reflected in the story.



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

Holly:  My favorite non-spoilery quote from Arena is: "Nothing like seeing your own insides to make you feel mortal. Nothing like coming back to life to make you feel like a god." I feel like so much of the novel is highlighted in those two sentences, from the book's themes of duality and virtual addiction, to the main character's tempestuous relationship with the digital world. It also hints at why gamers in this future tend to take the whole "invincible celebrity" thing to the next level. How can you believe anything bad will ever happen when you die and come back to life every day?



TQWhat are your top 3 favorite video games?

Holly:  It's always changing but my favourite of all time is Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. As a teenager, Perfect Dark was pretty big for me and more recently, I've been enjoying Fallout 4.



TQWhat's next?

Holly:  Currently, I'm editing the sequel to Arena and dabbling with a few other series I'm interested in developing. I'm still deciding what will come after Arena and its sequel, but I'm very excited about a few projects I'm working on.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Holly:  Thank you so much for having me!





Arena
An Arena Novel 1
Ace, April 5, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Holly Jennings, author of Arena
A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming…

Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier…

The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside…





About Holly

Interview with Holly Jennings, author of Arena
Photo by Timeless Photography & Design
Holly Jennings is a life-long gamer who has spent innumerable hours playing World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. Arena is her first novel. She lives in Canada, where she is working on the sequel.






Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @HollyN_Jennings


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Arena by Holly Jennings


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Arena by Holly Jennings


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


Holly Jennings

Arena
An Arena Novel 1
Ace, April 5, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Arena by Holly Jennings
A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming…

Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier…

The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside…

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick BlackInterview with Will Panzo, author of The Burning IsleReview: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Burning Isle by Will PanzoInterview with J. Patrick Black, author of Ninth City BurningReview: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick BlackSpotlight and Excerpt - Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick BlackInterview with Holly Jennings, author of Arena2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Arena by Holly Jennings

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