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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors

Here are some of the upcoming works by formerly featured DAC Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.

Sebastien de Castell (2014)

Spellslinger 1
Orbit, July 17, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
A would-be mage with no magic of his own has to defeat powerful enemies with only cunning and deception in the first book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell.

Kellen is moments away from facing his first duel and proving his worth as a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is fading.

Facing exile unless he can pass the mage trials, Kellen is willing to risk everything – even his own life – in search of a way to restore his magic. But when the enigmatic Ferius Parfax arrives in town, she challenges him to take a different path.

One of the elusive Argosi, Ferius is a traveller who lives by her wits and the cards she carries. Daring, unpredictable, and wielding magic Kellen has never seen before, she may be his only hope.

The first novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic.

Spellsplinger 2
Orbit, August 21, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
A failed mage turned outlaw must use guile and a handful of spells to challenge a dangerous rival in the second book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell.

With a death sentence hanging over his head, Kellen is forced to abandon his clan and his home. Living as an outlaw, he relies on his wits and allies, the mysterious wanderer Ferius and thieving squirrel cat Reiches, to survive the unforgiving borderlands.

Then he meets Seneira, a young woman cursed with a deadly plague by a ruthless mage. Similarly afflicted Kellen is compelled to help, and it’s not long before he’s entangled in a conspiracy of magic, blackmail and murder. Loyalties are tested as Kellen races to find the mage responsible before he can claim any more victims

The second novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic.

Spellslinger 3
Orbit, September 18, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the third book of a new adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell.

Spellslinger 4
Orbit, October 23, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the fourth book of a new adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell.

Sean Grigsby (2018)

Daughters of Forgotten Light
Angry Robot Books, September 4, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
A floating prison is home to Earth’s unwanted people, where they are forgotten… but not yet dead, in this wild science fiction adventure.

Deep space penal colony Oubliette, population: scum. Lena “Horror” Horowitz leads the Daughters of Forgotten Light, one of three vicious gangs fighting for survival on Oubliette. Their fragile truce is shaken when a new shipment arrives from Earth carrying a fresh batch of prisoners and supplies to squabble over. But the delivery includes two new surprises: a drone, and a baby. Earth Senator Linda Dolfuse wants evidence of the bloodthirsty gangs to justify the government finally eradicating the wasters dumped on Oubliette. There’s only one problem: the baby in the drone’s video may be hers.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Banged Up |Out of Mind |Girls Gone Bad | Moppet in Space ]

Tristan Palmgren (2018)

Angry Robot Books, November 6, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC Authors
Operatives from an advanced alien culture struggle to survive in medieval Italy, in the SF sequel to the astonishing Quietus.

The transdimensional empire, the Unity, has dissolved. Its rulers and agents have been exiled, stranded across a thousand planes of existence. Empires don’t die gladly. The living planarship Ways and Means has ended the Black Death ravaging medieval Europe, but it has bigger plans for Earth. Someone is trying to kill former Unity agent Osia. Spy-turned-anthropologist Meloku becomes a target, too, when she catches the planarship hiding the extent of its meddling. While they fight to survive, Fiametta – Italian soldier, mercenary, and heretical preacher – raises an army and a religious revolt, aiming to split her world in half.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Last Throes | The Saviour | Let It Burn | Crisis of Faith ]

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018

Fear not gentle reader, I am back with my Week in Review :)  I thought I would give you a short break from my WIR and share two of my SPFBO 2017 reviews. I hope you enjoyed them. Keep your eye on the blog for reviews from my fellow Qwillery reviewers on what they thought of the books they read for the competition.

I had a little pooch at NetGalley this week and was surprised by two books I had read last year but hadn't yet reviewed.  Lately books have been available months before their publish date and then I get all excited about reading them. This time I had convinced myself that I had actually posted a review here but after some checking it transpired I hadn't left you a review so check out what I read.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
First up is The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan which is the first instalment of The Map of Unknown Things, published by Angry Robot on January 2nd. This series is set in the same world as Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire series with Elizabeth Barnabus back in her role of spy but this time with the dreaded Patent Office. When airships start to disappear, along with someone close to Elizabeth, she decides to take action and goes undercover, again as a man. As the science officer on a whaler far out to sea Elizabeth is desperate to find out what has happened and more importantly, who is responsible. Elizabeth finds herself in the middle of a mystery and in more danger than anything the Patent Office could do to her. It will take every ounce of her ingenuity and bravery to discover what has happened and survive long enough to report back.

I loved Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire series and thought that Elizabeth was a complex, gutsy heroine. Normally, I am a bit nervous when an author creates a new series for one their characters as it usually means they don't want to let go and new books usually aren't as good. I prefer a shorter, excellent series than a long mediocre, drawn out one. However, Duncan doesn't disappoint and this is an excellent start to what I feel is going to be a compelling series. At the beginning of the story I had pretty much guessed what was going to happen, but midway through every thing changed and I couldn't really guess what was going to become of Elizabeth. This is a difficult book to review because I don't want to give anything away. I want you to discover what happens to Elizabeth on your own because it is such a tasty tale. I have read too many reviews that spell everything out and basically rewrite the book so I don't want to do that here. What I can say is that Duncan fleshes out Elizabeth even more and the new landscape in which this story is set is rich and bleak in equal measure. If I had to sum up this story I would describe it as a story of the power of friendship. Cruel, beautiful, warm, and chillingly lonely. It's all these things and a great mystery as well. If you haven't read the original series don't miss out and then join Elizabeth in The Queen of All Crows.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
The second book I would like to tell you about is The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. This is the second in her Winternight Trilogy and follows not long after the events of book 1 - The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya is on the run. She has been cast out of her village following the death of her father and she faces either being married off  - to become a girl in a tower - or joining a convent. Neither option appeals to her so when the opportunity presents itself she disguises herself as a boy and joins the Grand Prince of Moscow's retinue. When a mysterious and possibly magical force threatens the kingdom Vasya risks everything, including her freedom, to save the Prince, her family and her kingdom.

I can't believe that it is less than a year from the time that Arden released her debut The Bear and the Nightingale (check out my review here). Book 2 does not disappoint. In fact Arden has built upon the strengths of these characters and takes this from a mere fairy tale into some more like folklore. While this is fiction Arden has created characters who are credible, who make you believe they were actually alive, centuries ago. I have to admit I did spend a lot of the story thinking to myself  'poor Vasya' as things seem to go from bad to worse for our teenage heroine. She is forced to grow up quickly but at the same time stays innocent from how cruel the world can really be.

Again, this is another book that I could recount half the plot for you in this review but why would I ruin the journey that you need to take? Join Vasya on her journey of self discovery. Well done Arden, another great book. I can hardly wait for the final in this trilogy, The Winter of the Witch.

That is it for me this week. Apologies for not getting these reviews to you sooner. Better late than never! Until next time Happy Reading.

The Queen of All Crows
The Map of Unknown Things 1
Angry Robot Books, January 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
Only one woman can stop the world from descending into endless war, in the thrilling new series in the world of the Gas-Lit Empire
The year is 2012 but it might as well be the Victorian age. The nations of the world are overseen by the International Patent Office, and its ruthless stranglehold on technology.

When airships start disappearing in the middle of the Atlantic, the Patent Office is desperate to discover what has happened. Forbidden to operate beyond the territorial waters of member nations, they send spies to investigate in secret.

One of those spies is Elizabeth Barnabus. She must overcome her dislike of the machinations of her employers, disguise herself as a man, and take to the sea in search of the floating nation of pirates who threaten the world order.

File Under: Fantasy [ A Lost Airship | On the Sargasso | Stowaway Bay | The Crow Queen ]

The Girl in the Tower
Winternight Trilogy 2
Del Rey, December 5, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.

Guest Blog by Peter McLean, author of the Burned Man Novels, and Giveaway

Please welcome Peter McLean to The Qwillery. Damnation, the 3rd Burned Man Novel, was published on May 2nd by Angry Robot. You should read this series!

Guest Blog by Peter McLean, author of the Burned Man Novels, and Giveaway

Urban Fantasy: The YA Gateway Drug?

It has apparently been asserted on Twitter (I know, what hasn’t?) that urban fantasy makes for an easy crossover between Young Adult and Adult fantasy fiction, that it’s a “gateway drug” for teens to discover adult fantasy such as A Song Of Ice And Fire or The First Law.

Someone brought this to my attention, saying she thought it was hilarious that books like Ben Aaronovitch’s or mine should be read by young adults and citing the swearing and the violence contained in them as reasons why not. You don’t get violence and swearing in “kids’ books”, right? That’s an interesting point and I can see where she’s coming from, but consider this:

Category Young Adult fiction is marketed at 13-18 year olds, with Middle Grade being the younger market of 8-12 year olds. I’m sure there’s a degree of fudge factor in there depending which publisher’s marketing department you speak to, but that’s roughly how it works. Now, I certainly wouldn’t want an 8 year old reading my books, or even most 13 year olds, but 15+ is a different matter. When I was that age I was reading Stephen King and James Herbert and even Herbert Kastle when nobody was looking (yes, those are pure violence and filth, I admit it) and so was nearly every other lad in my year at school.

Teenagers do things we might like to pretend they don’t, but that doesn’t change the fact of it. Modern YA fiction doesn’t shy away from these things, either. The last YA novel I read was Sarah Pinborough’s brilliant 13 Minutes, and if you read that book you’ll see what I mean. Teenagers do swear and they do take drugs and have sex, and sometimes they kill people too, both in the book and in real life. You can debate whether or not they should until the cows come home, but that doesn’t change the fact that they do. Yes some 16 year-olds are still emotionally and developmentally “kids”, but some (in the UK at least) are already in the army at that age and they really aren’t.

So no, I don’t think swearing and violence makes a book unsuitable for (later) teens. The difference between YA and adult fiction isn’t the swearing and violence, it’s the underlying themes of the story and the life experiences of the characters. Protagonists in YA are usually the same age or a year or two older at most than the target market for the book, so are generally teenagers in the 15-19 year old range. There is a lot more to modern YA fiction than the tried and tested “coming of age story”, and to suggest otherwise does a great disservice to the genre, but not withstanding that YA stories are by definition about things that affect, or are relatable to their target audience. There’s some really great YA fiction about drug dependency, about teenage pregnancy, about self-harm and eating disorders, but as far as I know there is no YA fiction about going through a bitter divorce or trying to find a way to afford to put your kids through college.

Those are adult experiences, not teenage ones, and the themes they would explore (having wasted the best years of your life, social failure, financial stress, wanting your children to have a better life than you had) are broadly adult themes rather than teen ones. That, I think, is the underlying thread that makes my books and Ben’s firmly adult novels. My main character Don Drake is a seedy forty-something magician, not a hip young vampire slayer. His personal demons are long-term addiction, his deeply-buried memories of domestic abuse from a decade when it just wasn’t talked about, and a desperate need not to turn into the man that his father was at his age. Those are adult themes and while I’d be happy to let a 15 year-old read Drake or any of the rest of my books I’m not sure how much of it they would or even could relate to on a personal level.

So no, I don’t think adult urban fantasy is intrinsically unsuitable for teens but neither do I think it is necessarily their obvious first step into adult fantasy in general. These days, that gateway drug is television. Game of Thrones has been a phenomenal success worldwide, and I suspect that a good number of teens have been watching the show despite HBO putting an 18+ rating on it. For those who haven’t, there’s MTV’s Sword of Shannara, or “Beverly Hills 9021Elf” as I’ve heard some wag describe it, and of course the Lord of the Rings movies. Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time is coming to television soon too, apparently.

If I ever write a YA novel, and one day I just might, it’ll be the themes that are the most different from my existing writing. I’ll probably swear a bit less, too, but only a bit.

They’ve heard it all on the Internet already anyway.

A Burned Man Novel 3
Angry Robot, May 2, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Guest Blog by Peter McLean, author of the Burned Man Novels, and Giveaway
Don Drake is living rough in a sink estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh, doing cheap spells for even cheaper customers while fending off the local lowlifes. Six months ago, Don fled from London to Glasgow to track down his old girlfriend Debbie the alchemist.

With the Burned Man gradually driving him mad, Don meets with an ancient and mysterious tramp-slash-magician, with disastrous consequences. Now his old accomplices must step in to save Don from himself, before he damns himself for good this time.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Fallen So Far | Smacked Up | Devil Don’t Care | Hell or Heaven ]


A Burned Man Novel 1
Angry Robot Books, January 5, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Peter McLean, author of the Burned Man Novels, and Giveaway
Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself.

Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice the Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.

Now Don must foil Lucifer’s plan to complete Trixie’s fall and save her soul whilst preventing the Burned Man from breaking free from captivity and wreaking havoc on the entire world.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ One Last Hit / Both Ends Burning / Going Underground / London’s Finest ]

See Qwill's Review here.

A Burned Man Novel 2
Angry Robot, November 1, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Guest Blog by Peter McLean, author of the Burned Man Novels, and Giveaway
In the tunnels deep under London, the Earth Elementals are dying.

Hunted by something they know only as the Rotman, the Elementals have no one trustworthy they can turn to. Enter Don Drake, drunken diabolist and semi-reformed hitman, and an almost-fallen angel called Trixie.

When Don learns that Rotman is actually the archdemon Bianakith, he knows this is going to be a tough job. The fiend is the foretold spirit of disease and decay whose aura corrupts everything it comes near, and even the most ancient foundations of London will crumble eventually. Now Don, Trixie and his ever-annoying patron the Burned Man have to hatch a plan to keep Bianakith from wiping out the Elementals and bringing down the city. But the Burned Man has other plans and those may have dire consequences for everyone.

The past never stays buried, and old sins must be atoned for. Judgement is coming, and its name is Dominion.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ The Devil You Knew / Deeped & Down / Great Irresponsibility / London’s Burning ]

See Qwill's Review here.

About Peter

Guest Blog by Peter McLean, author of the Burned Man Novels, and Giveaway
Peter McLean was born near London in 1972, the son of a bank manager and an English teacher. He went to school in the shadow of Norwich Cathedral where he spent most of his time making up stories.

By the time he left school this was probably the thing he was best at, alongside the Taoist kung fu he had begun studying since the age of 13. He grew up in the Norwich alternative scene, alternating dingy nightclubs with studying martial arts and practical magic.

He has since grown up a bit, if not a lot, and spent 25 years working in corporate IT. He is married to Diane and is still making up stories.

You can find Peter online at his website, on Twitter @petemc666 and on Facebook.

The Giveaway

What:  Three sets (three winners - 1 set each) of the Burned Man Novels Drake, Dominion and Damnation by Peter McLean from the publisher. INTERNATIONAL

  • Send an email to theqwillery . contests @ [remove the spaces]
  • In the subject line, enter “Burned Man“ with or without the quote marks.
  • In the body of the email, please provide your name and full mailing address. The winning address is used only to mail the novel(s) and is provided to the publisher and/or The Qwillery only for that purpose. All other address information will be deleted by The Qwillery once the giveaway ends.
Who:  The giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address.

When:  The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on June 4, 2017. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

Guest Blog by Foz Meadows

Please welcome Foz Meadows to The Qwillery. An Accident of Stars, the first novel in the Manifold Worlds series, was published on August 2nd by Angry Robot Books.

Guest Blog by Foz Meadows

        Nearly ten years ago, which is to say – ye, gods! – in 2008, there was a furore in the publishing world over age banding on children’s books. The idea was that books aimed at teens and children would list a “suitable age” on the cover – ages 10+, for instance – to provide a better idea of both the intended audience and the book’s contents. Understandably, this proposal was met with stern resistance from authors, librarians, reviewers and readers alike, and as best I can tell seems never to have come to pass. However well-intentioned the idea itself, the execution could only have been needlessly prescriptive, for the simple reason that children, like adults, are not a hivemind. A book that terrifies one child of ten might endlessly delight another, while a story too complex for a particular fourteen-year-old might be just the thing for their precocious younger sibling. As far as reading age goes, it’s horses for courses – and yet we have an entire genre casually designated on the basis of its (intended, but by no means exclusive) readership: YA.

        YA, in its current incarnation, is very much a recent invention: novels explicitly written both for and about teenagers. But even though it’s easy enough to say, that dual qualification – the for and about – is itself a key source of tension in how the genre is viewed, for the simple reason that certain portrayals of teenage life, no matter how honest or accurate, are held to be unsuitable for teenage consumption. As adults, we are endlessly concerned with what’s “appropriate” for young people, and while those conversations can and do have merit, particularly in discussing the collective narrative representations of wider sociocultural trends, they ultimately dovetail with the same problem as age banding: that not every teenager needs or wants or is interested in the same things.

        That being so, it’s extremely difficult to talk about the ambiguity of the intended age range for a given book without simultaneously picturing a type of reader, regardless of whether we’re aware that’s what we’re doing. In those moments, I tend to feel like a doubled person: as someone who’s pro-YA – and, indeed, a YA author – the intensity of Lovejoy* moralising surrounding the genre frequently reduces me to headdesk and invective, especially when it comes from outside sources; but as someone who passively absorbed and thereby internalised a great deal of toxic bullshit from the books I read as a teenager, messages that had a direct influence on my beliefs and actions at that age, I don’t think it’s sensible or wise to waive all age-based criticism. As a writer, I fervently believe that stories have an impact on the world: that their ability to leave an impression, whether positive or negative, is precisely the reason they matter. This is why I’m an advocate for diversity and greater representation, and as such, it would feel deeply hypocritical to claim on the one hand that specific groups can be buoyed or harmed by the prevalence of particular tropes, stereotypes or stories, and then to say on the other that stories aimed at a specific group – which is to say, at a diversity of teenagers – are somehow immune to this criticism.

        An Accident of Stars is a book with four POV protagonists, three of whom are adolescents, one of whom is an adult in her fifties. Whether that makes it YA or not seems largely to be a matter of Your Mileage May Vary: some find it to be so, and others don’t. In writing it, I was more concerned with telling a story that interested me than in tailoring it to an age bracket – which isn’t, I hasten to add, because I have any problem whatsoever with authors aiming to please a target audience. Rather, it’s a reflection of the fact that my own adolescence is still a liminal thing to me, both a finished experience and an ongoing experiment in consequences. More than a decade after I officially graduated from Teenager to Ostensible Adult, I’m still in dialogue with my younger self: I understand her now in ways I didn’t then, and that’s a fascinating sort of time-travel power to have. The teenagers in An Accident of Stars are born of that self-reflection. Whether that makes them more engaging to adults or teens is an open question – and whatever you think of the story, I’d be interested in your answer.

An Accident of Stars
Manifold Worlds 1
Angry Robot Books, August 2, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook,

Guest Blog by Foz Meadows
When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.

Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?

File Under: Fantasy [A Rough Start | Trial of Queens | First Kill | Infinite Worlds]

About Foz

Guest Blog by Foz Meadows
Foz Meadows is a genderqueer author, blogger, essayist, reviewer and poet. In 2014, she was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer for her blog, Shattersnipe; she is also a contributing writer for The Huffington Post and Black Gate, and a contributing reviewer for Strange Horizons and

You can find Foz online at, and on Twitter @fozmeadows.

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2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi

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

Keith Yatsuhashi

Angry Robot Books, August 2, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi
Every civilization has its myths. Only one is true.

When eighteen year old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”

Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfil her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows and chaos envelops the city. As Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession – that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honour her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.

File Under: Fantasy [ Gods and Guardians / A Father’s Secret / Longing for More / Cosmic Reinvention ]

Interview with Jen Williams, author of The Copper Promise

Please welcome Jen Williams to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Copper Promise was published on July 5th in North America by Angry Robot.

Interview with Jen Williams, author of The Copper Promise

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

Jen:  Like most writers, I’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember – the first Christmas and birthday presents I can remember asking for were a typewriter and a desk (nerdy child, nerdy grown-up). I wrote a number of grim short stories as a young adult, usually involving someone getting eaten by cats at the end, but never thought I had the stamina to write a book. One day in my early twenties I came home from a particularly rubbish day at work and decided that to make myself feel better, I would write a scene that had been hanging around in my head for weeks. The scene grew, and spawned other scenes, and after about a year and a half I had a book. A terrible, wonky mess of a book, but still. From then on writing books was all I wanted to do.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Jen:  I tend to start with a very rough plan, and a lot of detailed character notes. My books are very character driven, so for me the most important starting point is knowing everything I can about them, and I like to have some idea of how they change over the course of the story. From there though, I let the first draft guide me, and often the final draft barely resembles the plan I started with. I recently took down the planning post-its from my corkboard for a new novel I’m writing called The Ninth Rain, and as I read them back I was amused by how much of my plan never made it into the book.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jen:  Maintaining stamina, I think. Writing a novel is a marathon rather than a sprint, and it involves a lot of work over a long period of time, and often throughout a lot of that time you are very unsure of what you are doing. I usually have a crisis of confidence about halfway through the first draft, and it can be very hard to throw yourself back into the work when you know you’ve still got a very long way to go. However, I’ve learnt that this period of uncertainty pops up with every book, and I’ve started to get quite good at ignoring it. In the end, writing a book requires you to be incredibly stubborn in a lot of ways, and that’s certainly a character trait I have.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jen:  This is always a tricky question to answer, because I think often the things that really influence us slip under our skin and become invisible threads holding our work together – they’re there, and they’re vital, but they’re very difficult to see. Certainly Terry Pratchett has been a big influence. When I was a young person, the Discworld was fantasy to me, and those books taught me how important humour is. Likewise, reading Stephen King as a kid instilled in me the idea that readability is key – you want the reader to come on a journey with you, so don’t make it difficult for them. The Copper Promise was specifically influenced by Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories (the book is essentially a love letter to that sort of sword and sorcery) and the video game Dragon Age. I hadn’t written any ‘traditional’ fantasy for a long time, and Dragon Age gave me a kick up the butt, while reminding me that it’s totally possible to write funny modern fantasy that also features dungeons and dragons.

TQDescribe The Copper Promise in 140 characters or less.

Jen:  A pair of mercenaries accidentally awaken an elder god bent on destroying the world. And then things get worse.

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

Jen:  The dragon/elder god has a bunch of minions called the brood army. They are murderous dragon women, who cause all sorts of trouble, but also go through a sort of identity crisis…Huge fun to write, but very tricky to squeeze into the blurb.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Copper Promise? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Jen:  I wanted to write something that had all the stuff I’ve always loved about fantasy – adventure, wild magic, outlandish monsters, dungeons, flashy weapons etc. Basically, I wrote it to please myself. I’ve always loved fiction that transports the reader to an entirely new world, and fantasy is the genre where you can take that to its extreme. I love creating new worlds, new histories and then exploring them.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Copper Promise?

Jen:  I sampled a lot of mead. Does that count?

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

Jen:  Wydrin, the wisecracking rogue, was certainly the easiest to write. Her voice has always been very clear to me, and it’s just a case of being quiet and listening to her. Sebastian, the knight who is her business partner and closest friend, was much trickier. Seb has a lot of internal conflicts; deeply honourable and kind, he also has a lot of reasons to be very angry. Seb’s journey through the books is not a straightforward one, and it was always important to me that although he makes some bad decisions, it’s vital that the reader understands why he makes them, and feels empathy for him.

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


Q: Which bit of The Copper Promise always makes you smile when you read it?

A: Ah well, I’m so glad you asked that! There’s a scene where Wydrin forces Lord Frith to jump from the top of a tower, and it makes me laugh every time. That sounds pretty weird out of context, but honestly it amuses me so much.

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


‘I changed my mind. It’s been a slow morning and I am easily bored. You, fresh meat. Would you like to die first?’ She held up one of her daggers, showing it to the youngest guard. ‘This one is called Frostling, and the other is Ashes.’
          ‘That’s the Copper Cat,’ he blurted. ‘She’ll kill us all, and take our bodies back to Crosshaven to feed to the Graces!’
          Triumphant, Wydrin turned to smile at Sebastian.
          ‘And you said that rumour wouldn’t stick –‘

TQWhat's next?

Jen:  Currently I’m in the middle of writing the first book of a new trilogy. It takes place on an entirely new world, with new characters, and so far it’s been a lot of fun. The first book is called The Ninth Rain.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Copper Promise
Copper Cat 1
Angry Robot, July 5, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Jen Williams, author of The Copper Promise
There are some tall stories about the caverns beneath the Citadel – about magic and mages and monsters and gods.

Wydrin of Crosshaven has heard them all, but she’s spent long enough trawling caverns and taverns with her companion Sir Sebastian to learn that there’s no money to be made in chasing rumours.

But then a crippled nobleman with a dead man’s name offers them a job: exploring the Citadel’s darkest depths. It sounds like just another quest with gold and adventure … if they’re lucky, they might even have a tale of their own to tell once it’s over.

These reckless adventurers will soon learn that sometimes there is truth in rumour. Sometimes a story can save your life.

File Under: Fantasy  [ Beware of the Gods | Dungeon Crawlers | The Brood Rises | Prince of Wounds ]

About Jen

Interview with Jen Williams, author of The Copper Promise
Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their cat. She started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and has never stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the 2015 British Fantasy Awards.

You can find Jen online at her website:, on Twitter @sennydreadful and on Facebook.

Note: The Copper Cat series is published in the UK by Headline. The 3 novels are already published there.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Interminables by Paige Orwin

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Interminables by Paige Orwin

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

Paige Orwin

The Interminables
Angry Robot, July 5, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Interminables by Paige Orwin
It’s 2020, and a magical cataclysm has shattered reality as we know it. Now a wizard’s cabal is running the East Coast of the US, keeping a semblance of peace.

Their most powerful agents, Edmund and Istvan — the former a nearly immortal 1940s-era mystery man, the latter, well, a ghost — have been assigned to hunt down an arms smuggling ring that could blow up Massachusetts.

Turns out the mission’s more complicated than it seemed. They discover a shadow war that’s been waged since the world ended, and, even worse, they find out that their own friendship has always been more complicated than they thought. To get out of this alive, they’ll need to get over their feelings, their memories, and the threat of a monstrous foe who’s getting ready to commit mass murder…

File Under: Fantasy [ After the Cataclysm / Thief and Surgeon / Your Best Nightmare / Haunting the Ghost ]

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

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

Jen Williams

The Copper Promise
Copper Cat 1
Angry Robot, July 5, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
There are some tall stories about the caverns beneath the Citadel – about magic and mages and monsters and gods.

Wydrin of Crosshaven has heard them all, but she’s spent long enough trawling caverns and taverns with her companion Sir Sebastian to learn that there’s no money to be made in chasing rumours.
But then a crippled nobleman with a dead man’s name offers them a job: exploring the Citadel’s darkest depths. It sounds like just another quest with gold and adventure … if they’re lucky, they might even have a tale of their own to tell once it’s over.

These reckless adventurers will soon learn that sometimes there is truth in rumour. Sometimes a story can save your life.

File Under: Fantasy

Interview with Peter Tieryas

Please welcome Peter Tieryas to The Qwillery. United States of Japan was published in March by Angry Robot Books.

Interview with Peter Tieryas

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Peter:  Every story has a different challenge. With United States of Japan, many of the issues and ideas explored are still contentious in Asia, so I had to be extra careful with any of the speculative elements I took. That meant months of research, as well as continual editing and fact-checking to make sure I wasn’t getting battle names mixed up or chronologies twisted (unless that was an intentional choice meant to distort the past for propaganda reason).

I am definitely a hybrid of the two, though I do like to plot a lot before I go wild with the narrative and my drafts undergo a whole lot of revision. I’m always trying to improve my craft, the emotional connection with characters, and convey personality through dialogue as much as possible.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Peter:  Philip K. Dick is an obvious influence for United States of Japan. But I also draw on Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth and Rieko Kodama’s brilliant work on the Phantasy Star series as I love her storytelling in the Sega Genesis space operas. Food is also important in my books as I refer to Asian, American, and fusion dishes, adding in some of my favorite restaurants in the alternate history. So is music and the tracks that form the ambient choir for the strange adventure the characters undergo. I really feel some scenes in USJ would have played out a lot differently had I been listening to different music.

TQDescribe United States of Japan in 140 characters or less. 

Peter:  United States of Japan is a spiritual sequel to Man in the High Castle focusing on the Asian tragedies of WWII, gaming, & mechas.

TQTell us something about United States of Japan that is not found in the book description.

Peter:  There’s a scene where the Kempeitai, the secret police of the Japanese Empire, are investigating one of the characters. Parts of the dialogue and sequence pay tribute to Orson Welles’ cinematic vision of Kafka’s The Trial, which thematically connects it with another inspiration for USJ, 1984.

TQWhat inspired you to write United States of Japan? What appeals to you about writing Alternate History?

Peter:  I’ve mentioned The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. I was also motivated because I’d heard so many stories about what happened in Asia during WWII that weren’t known here in America and I wanted to share that history. At the same time, it’s a love letter to many of the aspects I love about Japanese culture. There are the mechas, but it’s also about the hard-boiled detectives, cyber yakuzas, and of course, samurai and ronin. How would they fit into a world combined with American ideals? United States of Japan was about sating my curiosity and fascination for the world of High Castle, finding out what happens after the end of the events in the book. Not just 1-2 years later, but decades later. What will people who grew up in the USJ think of that world (especially considering Nazis are undertaking all sorts of wild enterprises)? Would technology progress in the same way?

The best alternate histories help us see our own world in a very different light. I remember one of the first alternate history movies that moved me was Planet of the Apes which at first doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with Earth, before I realized, it’s all about humanity and our society at that time.

The scary part of United States of Japan isn’t how different it is, but how similar.

TQWhat sorts of research did you do for United States of Japan?

Peter:  That’s an interesting question because it was very hard for me to find works about WWII from the Asian perspective. Almost everything was American-centric, which makes sense being in America. But I really wanted to know what life was like for the average Asian, from the Japanese citizens in Tokyo finding out about the war on the news, to those living in an Asia occupied by the Empire. History skews very differently depending on who does the telling, and I read everything I could get hold of. I also watched a whole lot of war documentaries, interviewed people where I could, and asked people to translate various works for me when I couldn’t find English versions. Some of the books I depended on for the history are The Rising Sun by John Toland, Japan’s Imperial Army by Edward Drea, A Modern History of Japan by Andrew Gordon, Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer, and Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert Bix to name just a few (there’s a more complete list in the acknowledgements).

TQIn United States of Japan who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Peter:  The easiest character to write was one of the background civilians that gets killed in the mecha battle in San Diego and only shows up as a scanner blip. Easy because I only devoted one sentence to him. The hardest was a background civilian that gets killed and only shows up as a scanner blip because I had a hard time envisioning his motivations, his family background, and what he felt when he died in that one sentence. =)

TQWhich question about United States of Japan do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Peter:  Why?

Changes every day. I saw a flock of crows flying in circles and I wondered what they were chasing. There was one morning I craved strawberry ice cream and shortcake and made that the impetus for evolution. The digital blips on my clock strike visual chords that subconsciously subjugate my every thought, a prison to arbitrary dishes of time. I am more bound by those numbers than any ideal which scares me. Is there a way to flip the relationship? Is there an alternate history where we don’t have to worry about the list of lists with empty aspirations and dreams?

TQWhat's next?

Peter:  A multimedia project called United Chocolates of Japan about a world where candy takes over the world. =)

Seriously though, with United States of Japan, I wanted to pay tribute to PKD and bring light to the dark past of the Pacific Front. I’m hoping now that I’ve done that (or at least done my best), I can take the world set up in the first novel and weave my own story into further adventures.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Peter:  Wait, Qwillery? I thought these were questions for the Kempeitai. Who are you all? Where are you taking me? Hold on, wait a second, the wntgkltf----

Note:  No Authors were harmed seriously in the making of this interview.

United States of Japan
Angry Robot Books, March 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
    North American Print and eBook
Angry Robot Books, March 3, 2016
    UK Print

Interview with Peter Tieryas
Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the world might be like if the United States had won the war instead.

Captain Beniko Ishimura’s job is to censor video games, and he’s tasked with getting to the bottom of this disturbing new development. But Ishimura’s hiding something… He’s slowly been discovering that the case of the George Washingtons is more complicated than it seems, and the subversive videogame’s origins are even more controversial and dangerous than the censors originally suspected.

Part detective story, part brutal alternate history, United States of Japan is a stunning successor to Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.

File Under: Science Fiction

About Peter

Interview with Peter Tieryas
Peter Tieryas is a character artist who has worked on films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Alice in Wonderlandand Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.

His first novel, Bald New World, was listed as one of Buzzfeed’s 15 Highly Anticipated Books as well as Publishers Weekly’s Best Science Fiction Books of Summer 2014. United States of Japan, his second novel, was featured in io9, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Lit Reactor, The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog and Popular Mechanics’ most anticipated lists for 2016.

You can find Peter Tieryas online at his website and @TieryasXu on Twitter.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Silent Hall by N.S. Dolkart

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Silent Hall by N.S. Dolkart

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

N.S. Dolkart

Silent Hall
Angry Robot Books, June 7, 2016
   North American Print
   Mass Market Paperback, 528 pages
Angry Robot Books, June 2, 2016
    UK Print and eBook
Cover Ilustration: Andreas Rocha

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Silent Hall by N.S. Dolkart
Five bedraggled refugees and a sinister wizard awaken a dragon and defy the gods.

After their homeland is struck with a deadly plague, five refugees cross the continent searching for answers. Instead they find Psander, a wizard whose fortress is invisible to the gods, and who is willing to sacrifice anything – and anyone – to keep the knowledge of the wizards safe.

With Psander as their patron, the refugees cross the mountains, brave the territory of their sworn enemies, confront a hostile ocean and even traverse the world of the fairies in search of magic powerful enough to save themselves – and Psander’s library – from the wrath of the gods.

All they need to do is to rescue an imprisoned dragon and unleash a primordial monster upon the

How hard could it be?

File Under: Fantasy [ Ravens of Revenge / The Great Flood / Dragon Boy / You’re the Prophecy ]

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Works by DAC AuthorsMelanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018Guest Blog by Peter McLean, author of the Burned Man Novels, and GiveawayGuest Blog by Foz Meadows2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Kojiki by Keith YatsuhashiInterview with Jen Williams, author of The Copper Promise2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Interminables by Paige Orwin2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Copper Promise by Jen WilliamsInterview with Peter Tieryas2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Silent Hall by N.S. Dolkart

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