The Qwillery | category: Interview | (page 5 of 58)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Gregory Benford

Please welcome Gregory Benford to The Qwillery. The Berlin Project, an alternate history of World War II, was published on May 9th by Saga Press.

Interview with Gregory Benford

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. You've written over 20 novels. How has your writing process changed over the years?

Gregory:  I started out writing terribly stiff stuff, which meant my first two stories did not sell. Then to compete in a story contest I wrote a wry, amusing story about a party—not my usual subject, i.e., science. It worked! So as I wrote more, moving to novels, I saw that you can’t think about that future in the dry light of science alone. Novels serve us deeply because we want meaning, and fiction creates meaning in concrete form. Scientifically minded people could perhaps conceptualize novels as case studies or thought experiments--both finer grained and wider ranging in their approach to meaning than cruder genres such as religion, psychology or common sense. A literary life is an ongoing moral education, a geography of the human world. I learned to include as much of life as I could, evoke the five senses and our fallible human selves. It helps to be humble.

TQWhat is, for you, the most challenging things about writing?

Gregory:  Learning to let yourself fly. Just go. Savants call it The Zone but to me it’s letting the unconscious come out to play. The murky origin of Freudian slips can help you!

TQThe Berlin Project is an alternate history of WWII. Why did you focus on the development of the nuclear bomb?

Gregory:  It was the crucial phase shift between the first 45 years of the 20th Century, dominated by the two biggest wars in history—into the rest, where wars were cold and a golden age bloomed. The problem of vast wars was solved not by the diplomats, but by the physicists. Make those wars impossible. I’m a physicist, know how weapons design works, and learned of the key historical pivot from Edward Teller, for whom I was a postdoc: We erred early in the war, neglecting the technology that would have given us the bomb a year earlier. Could that lead to a better world than ours? I couldn’t resist! I knew nearly every character in the novel, so I used my memories of them. It was huge fun, though it took 5 years.

TQWhat appealed to you about writing alternate history?

Gregory:  A chance to rethink the crucial turning years of the last century. To revisit many friends, long gone. To make WW II new again!

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

Gregory:  I had to rethink the whole last two years of the war. A million people died nearly every month, then!—colossal tragedies, every day.

        So suppose we do the Manhattan Project job right, first time.

        Next, how to use a bomb? There would be a fresh one every month or two, at best, so what’s the first target?

        In the novel, everybody thinks Berlin is the obvious target. I asked military types and they said no, you must leave in place the civilian authority that can surrender. This is standard doctrine. But in 1944?
        We now know that the Prussian wing of the German Army’s General Staff tried to negotiate through the British for at least a cease-fire, from 1943 onward. They tried to kill Hitler and nearly did in July 1944. The commanding generals were all on battlefields in 1944, not Berlin--where the Nazi Party types, whom the Prussians hated, were dug in.
        So… What to do with these elements?
        I researched many off-trail threads that really happened, but we forget: That both sides thought of using radioactive uranium as a pollutant, akin to poison gas and worked out details. That Eisenhower sent teams with Geiger counters to measure such use at Normandy. That we so feared a German nuclear program, the General commanding the Manhattan Project, Leslie Groves, sent in his top agent to assassinate Heisenberg if the agent thought Heisenberg’s team was getting close to a bomb.
        Blend these and many existing letters and memos, my memories from knowing most of the characters in the novel--season to taste, heat, stir.

TQIn addition to being an author you are a physicist and a professor of physics. How did your own background influence The Berlin Project?

Gregory:  I used my whole education—nuclear, weapons, and how scientists think. They’re hardnosed, sure, but idealistic, too. These counter-currents in their personalities made the drama work better, more furious.

TQWhat sorts of research did you do for The Berlin Project?

Gregory:  I must’ve read 200+ books, innumerable memoirs, once-classified documents, the works. I found the ID badges of Feynman and Fermi and others, at the Los Alamos lab—and put them in the novel! It has 45 photos, since I thought: This is a historical, why not show history? Much fun.

TQYou knew many of the people portrayed in The Berlin Project. How difficult or easy was it to write people you know?

Gregory:  Easier than inventing from whole cloth. I have a good aural memory, could recall how people like Fermi, Feynman, Teller, etc talked. I sat back and channeled them!

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

Gregory:  Freeman Dyson remarks, “All of science is uncertain and subject to revision. The glory of science is to imagine more than we can prove.”

The baseball player Moe Berg (a major character in the novel!) says, “
“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”

TQWhat's next?

Gregory:  Just turned into Simon & Schuster, a next novel, Rewrite—about reliving your life, better this time, and quantum mechanics. As characters, Phil Dick, Albert Einstein, and Robert Heinlein.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Berlin Project
Saga Press, May 9, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 480 pages

Interview with Gregory Benford
New York Times bestselling author Gregory Benford creates an alternate history about the creation of the atomic bomb that explores what could have happened if the bomb was ready to be used by June 6, 1944.

Karl Cohen, a chemist and mathematician who is part of The Manhattan Project team, has discovered an alternate solution for creating the uranium isotope needed to cause a chain reaction: U-235.

After convincing General Groves of his new method, Cohen and his team of scientists work at Oak Ridge preparing to have a nuclear bomb ready to drop by the summer of 1944 in an effort to stop the war on the western front. What ensues is an altered account of World War II in this taut thriller.

Combining fascinating science with intimate and true accounts of several members of The Manhattan Project, The Berlin Project is an astounding novel that reimagines history and what could have happened if the atom bomb was ready in time to stop Hitler from killing millions of people

About Gregory

Interview with Gregory Benford

Gregory Benford — physicist, educator, author — was born in Mobile, Alabama, on January 30, 1941. In 1963, he received a B.S. from the University of Oklahoma, and then attended the University of California, San Diego, where he received his Ph.D. in 1967. Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine, where he has been a faculty member since 1971. Benford is the author of over twenty novels, including Jupiter Project, Artifact, Against Infinity, Eater, and Timescape. A two-time winner of the Nebula Award, Benford has also won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1995 Lord Foundation Award for achievement in the sciences, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature. Visit his website at

Interview with Jessica Reisman

Please welcome Jessica Reisman to The Qwillery. Substrate Phantoms was published on May 16th by Arche Press (Resurrection House).

Interview with Jessica Reisman

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

Jessica:  I started writing poems and short fiction at nine years old; my first story was inspired by Watership Down. Why would be two things: first, reading stories and loving them and wanting to create worlds and stories myself; second, because visions of beautiful possibilities crowded my head, but my art skills weren't up to the task of bringing them into being, so I started to try and bring them to life with words, instead. My writing is still very visual.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jessica:  I'm a hybrid in that I do a whole lot of note writing, character background work, world building, etc., before I start writing, and have an idea of the overall arc and shape of the story, but plot only comes to me organically, from the characters and the world. With novels that just means I find my way slowly sometimes. With short fiction it often means I don't find the actual plot until second or third draft.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jessica:  My dayjob, it keeps getting in the way of writing time. :) A less flip answer would be that I find beginnings of stories challenging, and I find after-writing challenging--that is, everything that comes after to get the work published, noticed, read. The challenges involved in the writing itself are challenges I enjoy, so I don't think of them as "challenging," if you see what I mean. I'm one of those writers who actually do love the writing process itself.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jessica:  Other writers, first and always. My earliest direct influences in writing were Samuel Delaney, Ursula Le Guin, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, followed soon by Patricia McKillip, Tanith Lee, and C.J. Cherryh. Other influences are a love of art and nature; a never diminished awe for the amazing possibility and wonder of this universe and this planet; and a longing for community, connection, kindness, and a more just society.

TQDescribe Substrate Phantoms in 140 characters or less.

Jessica:  Substrate Phantoms is a far future literary space adventure that opens on a space station haunted by strange phenomena.

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

Jessica:  In its very first incarnation it was sort of the Orpheus myth in space.

TQWhat inspired you to write Substrate Phantoms? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction and in particular an Alien Contact story?

Jessica:  I love space opera and adventure, and the first blush of inspiration for SP was the seemingly haunted station, and how we, us humans, keep bringing the more Gothic/superstitious preoccupations of our psyches forward with us, no matter how much our technology advances. What appeals to me about alien contact, particularly in this case first contact, is the dichotomy between the fact of so many planets, so many galaxies, so much potential "alien" life, when we still haven't, as far as we know, had any contact with any, and still, to our detriment, treat others within our own species as alien.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Substrate Phantoms?

Jessica:  Everything from space station mechanics and disaster experiences to agricultural/farming systems and neurological disorders. My usual research habits are wide-ranging, tangent-prone, and perhaps a little shallow.

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

Jessica:  Jhinsei is the easiest for me. I wouldn't say that I am Jhinsei or Jhinsei is me, but we have some things in common and he's definitely a cognate of one of the mes within me. And Mheth was the hardest, because he's far from me in personality and behavior. Also, I wanted Mheth to have a shade of Mercutio from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a certain morbid, slightly manic whimsy, and that was a bit of a challenge--a fun one, but still a challenge.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Substrate Phantoms?

Jessica:  I don't think it's a choice, at least not for me; social issues are unavoidable. In fact I consider myself a writer of social science fiction--one of the things I've always most loved about science fiction (and fantasy) is its vast and glorious potential to envision other and better possibilities for societies, for ways of being, and to comment on ways that are maybe not so helpful or useful to us. For me, it's integral to the act of writing--not to be didactic or overt, but writing from a real place within means those social issues are just going to be there, in the way you envision your world and the characters, relationships, politics, economies, and life within it. Saying you don't include social issues simply means you include the status quo unexamined, doesn't it?

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


Q: Would you like to see the book as a beautifully illustrated graphic novel or perhaps a movie?

A: Yes, yes I would!

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

     Wind splashed, sudden and violent, across the fields and against the semiperm. Stronger winds moaned behind it. The roiling, flickering murk Mheth had seen in the distance was almost upon them.

     “What exactly is a moud storm?”

     “Mouds are some type of insect. I think—”

     Flickering murk hit the semiperm, with a huge rush of wind. It went over the building in a wave, filling the air with little lightnings and smudges of color in the murk. There was an odd pattering Mheth thought must be rain, but then thousands, hundreds of thousands of bugs began tumbling into the semiperm, pitching along the roof, spitting colored light on impact, chartreuse, verdigris, dark gold, angry reds.

     Jhinsei sat up, eyes wide. It seemed to go on for a long time, droves of insects hurtling on the wind, gusting torrentially into the semiperm and everything else in their path, flashing stains of gleaming color all around. The noise dinned and drowned. It wasn’t just the sound of insects pummeling semiperm, walls, and roof, but a sibilant clicking washing through it all from the insects themselves.

     A scent like cardamom and hot sand burned the air. The moud storm raged for maybe ten minutes. Then, slowly, the noise of wind and pummeling insect bodies lessened. The sound of rain came, gentle in the wake of the violence; occasional straggling insects, tiny turning flecks of colored light sparked and disappeared. Scents of cool and mineral rain washed through the semiperm.

TQWhat's next?

Jessica:  I have a story coming out at June 7th called "Bourbon, Sugar, Grace," for which I've recently seen the fabulous art. I'm excited for people to read it (and Substrate Phantoms!). I'm working on the sequel to Substrate Phantoms and I have an alternate 1600s South China Seas fantasy novel soon to be going out looking for a home.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jessica:  Thank you!

Substrate Phantoms
Arche Press, May 16, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages

Interview with Jessica Reisman
The space station Termagenti—hub of commerce, culture, and civilization—may be haunted. Dangerous power surges, inexplicable energy manifestations, and strange accidents plague the station. Even after generations of exploring deep space, humanity has yet to encounter another race, and yet, some believe that what is troubling the station may be an alien life form.

Jhinsei and his operations team crawl throughout the station, one of many close-knit working groups that keep Termagenti operational. After an unexplained and deadly mishap takes his team from him, Jhinsei finds himself—for lack of a better word—haunted by his dead teammates. In fact, they may not be alone in taking up residence in his brain. He may have picked up a ghost—an alien intelligence that is using him to flee its dying ship. As Jhinsei struggles to understand what is happening to his sanity, inquisitive and dangerous members of the station's managing oligarchy begin to take an increasingly focused interest in him.

Haunted by his past and the increasing urgent presence of another within his mind, Jhinsei flees the station for the nearby planet Ash, where he undertakes an exploration that will redefine friend, foe, self, and other. With Substrate Phantoms, Jessica Reisman offers an evocative and thought-provoking story of first contact, where who we are is questioned as much as who they might be.

About Jessica

Interview with Jessica Reisman
Jessica Reisman's stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. A graduate of Clarion West 1995, she is a SFWA member. Her story “Threads” won the South East Science Fiction Achievement award. Her far future science fiction adventure SUBSTRATE PHANTOMS, from Resurrection House Books, is out in May 2017, and her story "Bourbon, Sugar, Grace" will appear on in June 2017. She currently calls Austin, Texas home. Find out more at

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @jesswynne

Interview with Steve Wiley

Please welcome Steve Wiley to The Qwillery. The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan is out now from Lavender Line Press.

Interview with Steve Wiley

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

Steve:  I published my first short fiction piece about five years ago by entering a short story contest in a small literary journal. My piece didn’t win the contest, but was a finalist, and so was published. That gave me real confidence in my style of writing and voice. After that, I kept publishing short pieces in literary journals, and actually published a few chapters of this book in literary journals. As far as why I write, I’ve always liked to tell stories, and create art. This book is both.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Steve:  Definitely a pantser. I wrote the middle of this book before I even had an idea of the start and finish. As a reader, I just want to enjoy what I’m reading, strong plot or not. So, I tried to make this book something people could enjoy reading, chapter by chapter, as individual stories which were interesting for the reader to digest, with or without a plot.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Steve:  Finding a big, new, fun idea, which gets the words flowing is difficult. I’m still figuring out what my next project will be. Once I get it, I’ll be fine, but finding the idea can be hard.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Steve:  Everything I read is in what I write, but this book has J.M. Barrie and Lewis Carroll fingerprints all over it. The East Side in this book was inspired by a Wonderland, and Francesca Finnegan is based in many ways on Peter Pan. I also pulled quite a bit from Hans Christian Andersen.

TQDescribe The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan in 140 characters or less.

Steve:  The novel is a magical redefinition of the city and its citizens, explained through the adventures of a boy and girl aboard a secret L train, which travels through a mythical, East Side of the city.

TQTell us something about The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan that is not found in the book description.

Steve:  I don’t socialize the fact that I pretty much rewrite Chicago history in the book itself, because I was afraid too much history might turn fantasy readers off. But within the book itself, we take major events and places in Chicago history (Chicago fire, Riverview, Fort Dearborn), and blow them up to high fantasy. I hope readers are pleasantly surprised by this, especially those who know Chicago, and appreciate history.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan? What appeals to you about writing fantasy and in particular a fairytale?

Steve:  I still live near Chicago, and lived within the city itself for many years. I’ve always felt like Chicago was missing a fairytale. New York has a fairytale. London has one. Why not Chicago? I wrote something I would have been interested in reading myself. I also like the idea of a fairytale because they’re an endangered species. Beauty and the Beast was written more than 200 years ago! We cling to these old fairytales, but don’t create new ones. Why?

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan?

Steve:  Historical research was definitely needed, but not all that much, just due to the fact I was already pretty well educated in everything Chicago. I think it would have been impossible for someone not from Chicago to write this book. You have to know the city inside and out to rewrite the story of how everything in it came to be.

TQWhy did you set the novel in Chicago?

Steve:  I set the novel in Chicago because I love the city itself. I was born there, grew up there, am raising my kids there, and I’ll be buried there. Chicagoans are proud of their city. I wanted to deliver a book the city could be proud of. We give half the proceeds from the book to Chicago Public Schools because we wanted to make the reader feel like they were giving back to the city with each purchase. My mother was also a teacher for 30 years within the city. If this book could raise a meaningful sum of money for Chicago Public Schools, it would be a proper end to the fairytale.

TQIn The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Steve:  Easiest character was the protagonist Richard Lyons. He was really based on myself in many ways, and we have a lot in common – I’ve been reported missing by my wife, have been a vice president of something, and used to ride the Brown Line to work daily. Hardest character was Francesca Finnegan. I wanted her to be the strange combination of an innocent girl, who was also fearless and mysterious.

TQWhich question about The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Steve:  Who is your favorite character in the book?

Easily Templeton Goodfellow, the funny old, alcoholic elf. I had fun writing his lines. He’s the friend you call to have a drink, who will never turn you down, and always has a good story to tell.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan.


"Once people stop asking you what your favorite color is, you're done for."

"Within the shallow river valleys of Chicago, there hide undiscovered kingdoms."

TQWhat's next?

Steve:  I’m consumed with marketing activities for the book well into the summer, and after would like to take a break from everything. I think I’ll start my next project in 2018. I’m not certain what that next project will be yet. But, whatever the next project is, you can expect something as unexpected as The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan
Lavender Line Press, February 24, 2017
Trade Paperback, Hardcover and Kindle eBook, 342 pages

Interview with Steve Wiley
"One of the most captivating and magical books I've read"  ~ Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune

"Intelligent, Enchanting, Playful"   ~  Publishers Weekly    

There is magic in the city...

In Chicago, a secret L train runs through the mythical East Side. On that train, you'll discover fantastical truths about the city, alongside the most incredible cast of characters, including one exceptional girl by the name of Francesca Finnegan.

Once upon an extraordinary time, Francesca invited a boy named Richard aboard the secret L, for an adventure through the East Side. The night was a mad epic, complete with gravity-defying first kisses, spectral cocktails, fabled Ferris wheels, and more. Unfortunately for Richard, the night ended like one of those elusive dreams, forgotten the moment you wake. Now, Richard is all grown up and out of childish adventures, an adult whose life is on the verge of ruin. It will take the rediscovery of his exploits with Francesca, and a reacquaintance with the boy he once was, to save him.

Witty, humorous, and at times profound, this fairytale teaches a lesson - one that adult readers are sure to benefit from.

Half the proceeds from this book are donated to Chicago Public Schools.

About Steve

Interview with Steve Wiley
Steve is a father, husband, uncle, brother, friend, and purveyor of fairy stories. He grew up in and around Chicagoland, where he still lives with his wife and two kids. He has been published in an array of strange and serious places, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., to Crannóg magazine in Galway, Ireland. This is his first book. He has an undergraduate degree in something he has forgotten from Illinois State University and a graduate degree in something equally forgotten from DePaul University. Steve once passionately kissed a bronze seahorse in the middle of Buckingham Fountain.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

Interview with Marie Brennan

Please welcome Marie Brennan to The Qwillery. Within the Sanctuary of Wings, the 5th and final Memoir of Lady Trent, was published on April 25, 2017 by Tor Books.

Interview with Marie Brennan

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery! The first of the Memoirs of Lady Trent, A Natural History of Dragons, was published in 2013 and now Within the Sanctuary of Wings, the final Memoir has been published. What are your thoughts on ending this series?

Marie:  I'm sad to see it end -- but I also am glad to be finishing while I am sad, rather than after I've grown tired of it. Or worse, after my readers have grown tired of it.

TQWhen we first spoke I asked if you were a plotter or pantser and you replied "...somewhere in between." And now, 4 years later, how would you answer that question? Has anything changed about your writing process?

Marie:  I'm a bit less linear than I used to be, but ultimately, I'm still in between on the question of outlining versus improvising. For example, I knew going into Sanctuary what Isabella was going to find, but the specifics of how she found it and what happened afterward? Those mostly got made up as I went along. I still have fixed points I want to hit, and those get added to along the way, but a lot of it is still discovery, me figuring out how I'm going to get from where I am to where I want to be.

TQYou are both an anthropologist and a folklorist. Have you based any of the dragons that have been documented by Lady Trent on anything in the fossil record?

Marie:  Oh, definitely! The drakeflies in The Tropic of Serpents were inspired by a dinosaur called Microraptor, which had two sets of wings. They were probably connected by a membrane rather than being separate like a dragonfly's, but that didn't stop me from running with my own version. And the idea that a swamp-wyrm at different stages in its life cycle might look like very different organisms also came from a theory about certain dinosaurs -- apparently I was reading a lot about dinos while I worked on that book!

TQAnd do you have a favorite dragon from folklore?

Marie:  My favorite dragon overall is Maleficent, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to call Disney's decision to turn her into a dragon an element of genuine pre-modern folklore. I'm also quite partial to the Wawel dragon of Kraków -- but that's more a matter of liking the story of how the dragon got defeated, rather than the dragon itself. So let's go with the quetzalcoatl of Aztec folklore, because feathered dragons are cool. (As are feathered dinosaurs!)

TQWhat is the most unusual thing that Lady Trent has discovered in Books 1 - 4?

Marie:  I am so tempted to name off some random detail about people! Part of the idea behind the series is that the places she travels to are every bit as interesting as the dragons she studies there. But since I suspect you meant something dragon-related, I'll say the odd quirk of draconic development Isabella figures out at the end of In the Labyrinth of Drakes, via the honeyseeker breeding project. I can't really be more specific without spoilers, though.

TQPlease describe Within the Sanctuary of Wings in 140 characters.

Marie:  Intrepid lady adventurer nearly gets killed in the Himalaya discovering awesome dragon stuff!

TQPlease tell us something about Within the Sanctuary of Wings that is not found in the book description.

Marie:  There's a whole lot of linguistic fun around the efforts to decipher the ancient Draconean language. And I love the fact that fans of this series are the kinds of nerds who really will find that fun -- it's like a puzzle, and the characters have to get really creative to solve it.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Within the Sanctuary of Wings.

Marie:  "In the history of scientific discovery, it is my opinion that insufficient credit has been given to the behaviour of the humble yak."

TQPlease tell us a bit about the 4 dragons on the gorgeous cover of Within the Sanctuary of Wings?

Marie:  Todd Lockwood and I were discussing the covers a year or two ago, trying to figure out what else we could do that would fit the "scientific" theme of the images, without being a rehash of what we'd done before. He was the one who suggested an evolutionary series, like those pictures you see of a chimpanzee getting bigger and more upright until it's a modern human being. The idea is that you're seeing how a much more lizard-like creature eventually became a beautiful Yelangese azure dragon.

TQWho has been your favorite not main character in the Memoirs? And which character has given you the most trouble?

Marie:  Oh, man -- you're going to make me pick? I'm going to cheat and say my favorite is a tie between Tom and Suhail. The former because I loved developing his partnership with Isabella over the course of the series, and the latter because he's an archaeologist and in some ways my self-insert character. Most trouble was Ankumata, the ruler of Bayembe, because he required me to think through a lot of political calculus to figure out how he should act.

TQWhat's next?

Marie:  On May 30th will be publishing Lightning in the Blood, the sequel to Cold-Forged Flame. That series is more in the epic fantasy vein than the historical/scientific flavor of the Memoirs, but I've had a lot of fun with the worldbuilding for it.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Marie:  Thank you!

Within the Sanctuary of Wings
The Lady Trent Memoirs 5
Tor Books, April 25, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Marie Brennan
Within the Sanctuary of Wings is the conclusion to Marie Brennan's thrilling Lady Trent Memoirs

After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent--dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.

And yet--after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia--the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure--scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland's enemies--and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.

About Marie

Interview with Marie Brennan
MARIE BRENNAN is an anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for material. She is the author of several acclaimed fantasy novels including A Natural History of Dragons; The Onyx Court Series: Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, A Star Shall Fall, and With Fate Conspire; Warrior; and Witch. Her short stories have appeared in more than a dozen print and online publications.

Website  ~  Blog  ~  Twitter @swan_tower


A Natural History of Dragons
The Lady Trent Memoirs 1
Tor Books, February 4, 2014
Trade Paperback,352 pages
Hardcover and eBook, February 5, 2013

Interview with Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age.

You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon's presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one's life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world's preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.
Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

"Saturated with the joy and urgency of discovery and scientific curiosity."—Publishers Weekly (starred review) on A Natural History of Dragons

An NPR Best Book of 2013

The Tropic of Serpents
The Lady Trent Memoirs 2
Tor Books, February 14, 2015
Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 4, 2014

Interview with Marie Brennan
The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents . . .

Attentive readers of Lady Trent's earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world's premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

Voyage of the Basilisk
The Lady Trent Memoirs 3
Tor Books, February 2, 2016
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 31, 2015

Interview with Marie Brennan
The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's Voyage of the Basilisk . . .

Devoted readers of Lady Trent's earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now.

Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella's in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella's life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.

In the Labyrinth of Drakes
The Lady Trent Memoirs 4
Tor Books, March 14, 2017
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Hardcover and eBook, April 5, 2016

Interview with Marie Brennan
In the Labyrinth of Drakes, the thrilling new book in the acclaimed fantasy series from Marie Brennan, the glamorous Lady Trent takes her adventurous explorations to the deserts of Akhia.

Even those who take no interest in the field of dragon naturalism have heard of Lady Trent's expedition to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia. Her discoveries there are the stuff of romantic legend, catapulting her from scholarly obscurity to worldwide fame. The details of her personal life during that time are hardly less private, having provided fodder for gossips in several countries.

As is so often the case in the career of this illustrious woman, the public story is far from complete. In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and her well-being; and how her determined pursuit of knowledge took her into the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth of Drakes, where the chance action of a dragon set the stage for her greatest achievement yet.

From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review
A Lady Trent Story
Tor Books, May 18, 2016
eBook, 32 Pages

Interview with Marie Brennan
After risking the neck of her loved ones and herself during her perilous sea voyage aboard The Basilisk, and the discoveries made at Keonga, Isabella, Lady Trent, returns to Scirland with the aim of publishing her research. And yet, given the level of secret knowledge she now posses, she is reduced to waiting to reveal her new academic discovery until royal decrees can be lifted and a fraught political situation avoided. In her idle frustration, Isabella vents her spleen upon the shoddy research published by lesser men with swollen heads in local journals. Enjoy the following collection of letters, found in a trunk of mislaid scholarly documents left behind when she removed to Linshire for the season.

Dark Matter by Black Crouch - Excerpt, Interview, Review

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch was published in Trade Paperback on May 2nd by Broadway Books. Today we are sharing an excerpt from Dark Matter and re-posting our interview with Blake and review from July 2016.

An Excerpt from Dark Matter

I’m aware of someone gripping my ankles.
     As hands slide under my shoulders, a woman says, “How’d he get out of the box?”
     A man responds: “No idea. Look, he’s coming to.”
     I open my eyes, but all I see is blurred movement and light.
     The man barks, “Let’s get him the hell out of here.”
     I try to speak, but the words fall out of my mouth, garbled and formless.
     The woman says, “Dr. Dessen? Can you hear me? We’re going to lift you onto a gurney now.”
     I look toward my feet, and the man’s face racks into focus. He’s staring at me through the face shield of an aluminized hazmat suit with a self-contained breathing apparatus.
     Glancing at the woman behind my head, he says, “One, two, three.”
     They hoist me onto a gurney and lock padded restraints around
my ankles and wrists.
     “Only for your protection, Dr. Dessen.”
     I watch the ceiling scroll past, forty or fifty feet above.
     Where the hell am I? A hangar?
     I catch a glint of memory—a needle puncturing my neck. I was injected with something. This is some crazy hallucination.
     A radio squawks, “Extraction team, report. Over.”
     The woman says with excitement bleeding through her voice, "We have Dessen. We're en route. Over."
     I hear the squeak of wheels rolling.
     "Copy that. Initial condition assessment? Over."
     She reaches down with a gloved hand and wakes some kind of monitoring device that's been Velcroed to my left arm.
     "Pulse rate: one-fifteen. BP: one-forty over ninety-two. Temp: ninety-eight-point-nine. Oh-two sat: ninety-five percent. Gamma: point-eight seven. ETA thirty seconds. Out."
     A buzzing sound startles me.
     We move through a pair of vaultlike doors that are slowly opening.
     Jesus Christ.
     Stay calm. This isn't real.
     The wheels squeak faster, more urgently.
     We're in a corridor lined with plastic, my eyes squinting against the onslaught of light from fluorescent bulbs shining overhead.
     The doors behind us slam shut with an ominous clang, like the gates to a keep.
     They wheel me into an operating room toward an imposing figure
in a positive pressure suit, standing under an array of surgical lights.
     He smiles down at me through his face shield and says, as if he knows me, "Welcome back, Jason. Congratulations. You did it."
     I can only see his eyes, but they don't remind me of anyone I've ever met.
     ''Are you experiencing any pain?" he asks.
     I shake my head.
     "Do you know how you got the cuts and bruises on your face?''
     "Do you know who you are?"
     I nod.
     "Do you know where you are?"
     "Do you recognize me?"
     'Tm Leighton Vance, chief executive and medical officer. We're
colleagues and friends." He holds up a pair of surgical shears. "I need to get you out of these clothes."
     He removes the monitoring device and goes to work on my jeans and boxer shorts, tossing them into a metal tray. As he cuts off my shirt, I gaze up at the lights burning down on me, trying not to panic.
     But I'm naked and strapped to a gurney.
     No, I remind myself, I'm hallucinating that I'm naked and strapped to a gurney. Because none of this is real.
     Leighton lifts the tray holding my shoes and clothes and hands it to someone behind my head, outside my line of sight. "Test every­ thing."
     Footsteps rush out of the room.
     I note the sharp bite of isopropyl alcohol a second before Leighton cleans a swatch of skin on the underside of my arm.
     He ties a tourniquet above my elbow.
     "Tust drawing some blood," he says, taking a large-gauge hypoder­-
mic needle from the instrument tray.
     He's good. I don't even feel the sting.
     When he's finished, Leighton rolls the gurney toward the far side of the OR to a glass door with a touchscreen mounted on the wall beside it.
     "Wish I could tell you this is the fun part," he says. "If you're too
disoriented to remember what's about to happen, that's probably for the best."
     I try to ask what's happening, but words still elude me. Leigh­ ton's fingers dance across the touchscreen. The glass door opens, and he pushes me into a chamber that's just large enough to hold the gurney.
     "Ninety seconds," he says. "You'll be fine. It never killed any of the test subjects."
Excerpted from DARK MATTER. Copyright © 2017 by Blake Crouch. Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. You've written over a dozen novels. Has your writing process changed (or not) over the years? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Blake:  Thanks for having me! My writing process has definitely evolved and is continuing to evolve from book to book. The hardest thing for me is finding the right idea. It involves lots of hemming and hawing and self-doubting and journaling and outlining before I finally commit to something and get underway with the writing itself.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Blake:  I would describe myself as a plotter who, along the way, is very open to becoming a pantser when inspiration strikes. In other words, I go into a book having a pretty good notion of what the first half of the book is going to be and a vaguer idea of the latter half. But along the way, I want to be surprised. By characters. By sudden reversals I never planned. So I go into the process with a game plan that I hope inspiration and magic will dramatically alter.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Blake:  Lately, it’s a combination of two things. 1. My own life: the challenges and struggles I face seem to work their way into the psychology of my main characters (and sometimes villains). 2. A strong interest in emerging technologies and how they are changing our world, our species.

TQDescribe Dark Matter in 140 characters or less.

Blake:  If Christopher Nolan directed It’s a Wonderful Life.

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

Blake:  At it’s heart, it’s a love story.

TQWhat inspired you to write Dark Matter? What appeals to you about writing Thrillers?

Blake:  I wrote it because I’m fascinated by quantum mechanics and what that field of science suggests about the universe we live in. I love writing thrillers because I love reading thrillers. I write the kinds of books I would want to read.

TQDo Dark Matter and the Wayward Pine Trilogy (Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town) share anything thematically?

Blake:  Yes. They share man questioning his reality, and at times, his identity. They also share the idea that as we progress as a species and reach higher levels of scientific achievement, that threatens to not only change the world around us, but also what it means to be human.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Dark Matter?

Blake:  I read books, articles, abstracts for the last decade, just trying to wrap my brain around quantum mechanics. I still don’t fully understand it. To truly grasp the insanity of how sub-atomic particles behave requires advanced mathematics degrees, and I took as few of those courses as possible in college. When I finished Dark Matter I sent the book to a physicist named Clifford Johnson who teaches at USC. He was kind of enough to read the science-heavy passages and make sure I hadn’t gotten too far off track in my representation of certain theories.

TQ:   In Dark Matter who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Blake:  Jason was far and away the easiest because I feel like he and I are pulled in similar direction in terms of career vs. family. And being in my mid-thirties, I find myself looking more and more back toward the path not taken. Amanda was the hardest character for me, not to write, but to do justice to. She’s a fairly minor character in the book, but she is with Jason during his hardest moments. I didn’t want to short shrift her character, while at the same time, I didn’t want her journey to overshadow my main character’s.

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


Q: Was this the hardest book you ever wrote?

A: By a factor of about 10.

TQ:   Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Dark Matter.

Blake:  I really like this one, from early on in the book. We’re deep in the main character (Jason’s) head here and beginning to understand where he is in life:
“There’s an energy to these autumn nights that touches something primal inside of me. Something from long ago. From my childhood in western Iowa. I think of high school football games and the stadium lights blazing down on the players. I smell ripening apples, and the sour reek of beer from keg parties in the cornfields. I feel the wind in my face as I ride in the bed of an old pickup truck down a country road at night, dust swirling red in the taillights and the entire span of my life yawning out ahead of me.

It’s the beautiful thing about youth.

There’s a weightlessness that permeates everything because no damning choices have been made, no paths committed to, and the road forking out ahead is pure, unlimited potential.

I love my life, but I haven’t felt that lightness of being in ages. Autumn nights like this are as close as I get.”

TQWhat's next?

Blake:  That’s a great question. Remember what I said about how hard it is for me to fall in love with a new idea? I’m speed-dating a bunch of them right now.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Blake:  Thank YOU! Awesome questions.

Dark Matter
Broadway Books, May 2, 2017
Trade Paperback,368 pages
Hardcover and eBook, July 26, 2016

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

Qwill's Thoughts

Jason Dessen's life is about to change dramatically. He's kidnapped. His life is wrenched away from him. And all he wants is not the fame and glory of the new world he wakes up in, he just wants his wife and son and the life they've made. Jason is not a typical hero. He starts out a happy man who understands what he has potentially given up to have the life he has with the woman he loves deeply and their son he loves as much. This love is palpable and deeply felt. He will do what he has to do to get home if he can while coming to a deeper understanding of what makes the world around him his world. I didn't always like Jason's attitude and some of things he did, but I understood and respected his decisions.

Dark Matter is tightly plotted and beautifully written. There are moments of deep introspection and of pulse-pounding action. There is science that stretches the boundaries of what we know and what is possible. Crouch raises questions about identity, the multiverse and who we are and wraps these questions in an extremely entertaining, often tense, moving SF thriller.

Dark Matter is, for me, essentially a story about a man's love for his wife and family and his journey to be with them. And it's about quantum mechanics and human entanglement. It's about perseverance in the face of nearly insurmountable odds and finding your way home. It's also mind-blowingly twisty and wonderful. Dark Matter will make you think, question and wonder.

About Blake

Photo by Jesse Giddings
Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of the novel, Dark Matter, for which he is writing the screenplay for Sony Pictures. His international-bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy was adapted into a television series for FOX, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, that was Summer 2015's #1 show. With Chad Hodge, Crouch also created Good Behavior, the TNT television show starring Michelle Dockery based on his Letty Dobesh novellas. He has written more than a dozen novels that have been translated into over thirty languages and his short fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Crouch lives in Colorado.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @blakecrouch1

Interview with Brian Staveley

Please welcome Brian Staveley to The Qwillery. Skullsworn will be published on April 25, 2017 by Tor Books.

Interview with Brian Staveley

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery again. What appeals to you about writing Epic Fantasy and are there any other genres or subgenres in which you'd like to write?

Brian:  I love the scope of epic fantasy, the chance to include the mythic, the historical, the religious, the philosophical at the same time as writing some bloody battles and backstabbing intrigue. That said, I’m writing a novella now. It’s the first time I’ve worked at that length, and the first time I’ve written anything outside the world of the Unhewn Throne, and I’m loving both the intimacy of the form and the chance to be more stylistically experimental.

TQYou've written 100s of pages in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe. What is your method for keeping your facts straight?

Brian:  I have no method. I have random documents strewn about my computer that are only vaguely organized. Occasionally I need to go back and dig around in one of my books for some obscure name or fact. I am absolutely certain that there are better, easier, more efficient ways to do this, but no one ever accused me of doing things the easy way.

TQThe 3rd novel in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy, The Last Mortal Bond, was published in 2016, with the Trade Paperback out last month. How did you feel wrapping up that Trilogy?

Brian:  Massive relief. A trilogy is sort of like a hockey game: kicking ass for two periods doesn’t matter if you let everything go to shit in the third. And I’ve read a number of trilogies in which this happens. I’m thrilled that most readers seem to have really enjoyed the conclusion to the tale, that I didn’t inadvertently ruin everything that came before.

TQBut, you've returned to that universe with Skullsworn which is a standalone novel. Where does Skullsworn fit temporally with The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire and The Last Mortal Bond?

BrianSkullsworn is set about twenty years before The Emperor’s Blades, and it takes place in a city—Dombang—that doesn’t appear (outside the occasional, casual mention) in the trilogy at all. It was great having the chance to flesh out the physical world, and also to take a look at the Annurian Empire from a different angle—many inhabitants of Dombang see the Empire as a sinister occupying force. They’re certainly no fans of the Malkeenians.

TQPlease tell us something about Skullsworn that is not found in the book description.

Brian:  The setting is more important to this book than any of the others. Dombang is a city built on a river delta, a city of a thousand bridges and canals, while the delta is teeming with deadly flora and fauna—poisonous plants, venomous snakes, jaguars, crocodiles. I wanted to create a location for this story that felt beautiful but also rotten, hot, and claustrophobic. That’s crucial to the political climate of the city, but also to Pyrre’s personal psychological journey.

TQPyrre Lakatur is the main character in Skullsworn. Where has she appeared in the trilogy?

Brian:  Pyrre is in her mid-forties in the trilogy. She’s a pretty significant secondary character—definitely a fan favorite—but I don’t want to say too much about her for people who haven’t read The Emperor’s Blades. I guess it’s obvious from Skullsworn itself that she is very, very good at killing people. It’s worth mentioning, though, that she’s quite a different character in Skullsworn than in the trilogy—younger, less certain of herself.

TQCan you tell us about the world in which Pyrre finds herself?

Brian:  As I mentioned above, Dombang is nominally part of the Annurian Empire—it was conquered two hundred years before the time in which Skullsworn is set—and yet, unlike most other parts of the empire, Dombang still seethes with revolution. Part of this is due to the city’s isolation. Even more is due to the local religion, which the Annurians have attempted to stamp out. The locals believe that a trinity of brutal, bloody gods inhabits the delta and keeps the city safe. They’re even willing to offer human sacrifice to those gods…

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Skullsworn.

Brian:  Rich Anderson’s cover art for the US version doesn’t depict a specific scene. Our goal was to capture a) something of Pyrre’s character and b) something of the city itself. We actually considered a few versions that had Pyrre front and center in the frame, but those struck me as wrong. Not only does she fight from the shadows, but she’s not emotionally ready to stand in the middle of a book cover when this story takes place. The Pyrre of the trilogy would happily recline straight across the cover, but she’s not there yet in Skullsworn.

The UK cover, by contrast, does a really nice job capturing the feel of the delta. There are no huge cliffs like that, but I like the ambience of the cover, the way it suggests a wild and dangerous world beyond the limits of Dombang.

Interview with Brian Staveley
US Cover
Interview with Brian Staveley
UK Cover

TQWill you be writing more stories set in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, perhaps bringing back another fan favorite?

Brian:  Absolutely. As soon as I wrap up this novella, I’m getting back to another in-universe stand-alone. This one involves another female character that a lot of readers have grown to love, although I don’t think she’s going to be a POV character in the novel. Stay tuned!

TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery!

Brian:  Thanks for having me!

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne World
Tor Books, April 25, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Brian Staveley
Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess-assassin for the God of Death.

“Brilliant.” —V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author

From the award-winning epic fantasy world of The Emperor’s Blades

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love . . . and ending it on the edge of her sword.

"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades

About Brian

Interview with Brian Staveley
Author Photo: Laura Swoyer
Brian Staveley is the author of the award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decade, he began writing fiction. His first book, The Emperor’s Blades, won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, the Reddit Stabby for best debut, and scored semi-finalist spots in the Goodreads Choice Awards in two categories: epic fantasy and debut. The entire trilogy, which includes The Providence of Fire and the The Last Mortal Bond has been translated into over ten languages worldwide.

Brian lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order.

Website  ~  Twitter @BrianStaveley  ~  Facebook  ~  Google+

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy

The Emperor's Blades
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 1
Tor Books, August 26, 2014
Trade Paperback, 496 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 14, 2014

Interview with Brian Staveley
In The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.

Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery, learning the enigmatic discipline of monks devoted to the Blank God. Their rituals hold the key to an ancient power he must master before it's too late.

An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral, elite soldiers who fly into battle on gigantic black hawks. But before he can set out to save Kaden, Valyn must survive one horrific final test.

At the heart of the empire, Minister Adare, elevated to her station by one of the emperor's final acts, is determined to prove herself to her people. But Adare also believes she knows who murdered her father, and she will stop at nothing—and risk everything—to see that justice is meted out.

See Tracey's/trinitytwo's Review here.

The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2
Tor Books, December 8, 2015
Trade Paperback, 624 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 13, 2015

Interview with Brian Staveley
The Providence of Fire is the second novel in Brian Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series

The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.

Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, a renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.

See Tracey's/trinitytwo's Review here.

The Last Mortal Bond
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 3
Tor Books, March 14, 2017
Trade Paperback, 672 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 15, 2016

Interview with Brian Staveley
The trilogy that began with The Emperor's Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion, as war engulfs the Annurian Empire in Brian Staveley's The Last Mortal Bond

The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.

But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all--Valyn, Adare, and Kaden--come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.

See Tracey's/trinitytwo's Review here.

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 1 - 3
Tor Books, Dec 6, 2016
eBook Bundle

Interview with Brian Staveley
Includes: The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire, The Last Mortal Bond, and an excerpt from the forthcoming Skullsworn

“An enchanting union of old and new, Staveley's debut will keep you turning pages late into the night.” Pierce Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising

The emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.

The Emperor’s Blades — Three siblings: Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery. An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral. At the heart of the empire, Adare hunts those who murdered her father.

The Providence of Fire — Kaden infiltrates the Annurian capital, while Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion compels the rival forces to unite. Unknown to Adare, Valyn has allied with the invading nomads.

The Last Mortal Bond — The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; capricious gods walk the earth in human guise, but the imperial siblings at the heart of it all soon understand that there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
The Emperor's Blades
The Providence of Fire
The Last Mortal Bond

Other books in the world of the Unhewn Throne
Skullsworn (forthcoming)

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Interview with Deborah Blake

Please welcome Deborah Blake to The Qwillery.  Veiled Menace, the 2nd novel in the Veiled Magic series, was published on April 18th by InterMix.

Interview with Deborah Blake

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your newest novel, Veiled Menace, was published on April 18th and is the second novel in the Veiled Magic series. Please tell us about the series.

Deborah:  It’s an urban fantasy set in a world much like ours, except there the Paranormal races are still in hiding, except for the Witches, who came out of the broom closet a few years back. The protagonist is a Witch-cop named Donata Santori, who specializes in speaking to the dead—specifically, the victims of crimes. In the first book, Veiled Magic, Donata stumbled across a long-lost secret relic of the war between the Paranormal races and the Catholic Church, and got involved with two very different men, Peter (a half-dragon forger) and Magnus (an Ulfhednar shapechanger from her past). She was threatened and chased by two different factions and in the end, they all barely escaped with their lives, and the mysterious Pentacle Pentimento was thought to be destroyed. Peter and Magnus left to deal with their own issues, and Donata went back to a life that was changed forever. What happened after that is the story of Veiled Menace, where nothing is exactly as it seems and Donata gets in ever further over her head.

TQDescribe Veiled Menace in 140 characters or less.

Deborah:  Donata discovers the identity of the lost sixth race and is again torn between two men; none of it goes well and everyone is keeping deadly secrets.

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

Deborah:  Since the first book, Donata’s boss, the Human police chief, has moved her up out of the basement and asked her to look into “unusual” cases that might involve Paranormal influences. She is practicing magic with her eccentric great-aunt in an effort to be able to deal with these new duties better. It isn’t going all that well, alas.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Veiled Menace?

Deborah:  Does nearly twenty years as a practicing witch count? I did a ton of research for the first book, Veiled Magic, including studying up on the Inquisition, an obscure painter, and Norse berserker shapechanger legends (because I didn’t want to use the typical paranormal vampires and werewolves). Most of Veiled Menace build on that initial research. I did have to read up on golems, but I can’t tell you why!

TQPlease tell us about Veiled Menace's cover?

Deborah:  I love the covers for the two books in this series. They picked a model who looked exactly the way Donata did in my head, and even managed to include her familiar, Grimalkin. The cover doesn’t show anything about the story in particular, but I think it captures the mystical and slightly threatening feeling well.

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

Deborah:  Donata was the easiest, because I already knew her well from the first book. Peter might have been the most difficult, because he turned out to be a little different than I thought he was going to (characters do these things to their authors sometimes), even though we’d met him in Veiled Magic, and he was a complicated, conflicted man.

TQ:  Why have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Veiled Menace?

Deborah:  I didn’t address specific social issues (I did more of that in my Baba Yaga series, also from Berkley), but I did touch on the difficulties that ensue when various sections of society believe that they are being oppressed or need to fight for what is theirs.

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

Deborah:  “Was it hard to write the second book in a continuing series?” “YES! The Baba Yaga series is a little different, because there are three main characters, each of whom gets her own book and her own happily ever after. It was tough to keep kicking poor Donata when she was down, and break her heart repeatedly, without making the reader feel cheated.”

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

Deborah:  Here’s one from the very beginning of the book!

Donata Santori looked down at the dead body lying at her feet and thought, Damn, that can’t be a good sign.

There was a choking sound from behind her and the Chief said, “No kidding, Santori. A dead body is never a good sign.” He crossed his arms over his bulky chest and looked impatient and a little bit cranky. Pretty much like usual.

Crap—had she said that out loud? No wonder he only let her work outside the precinct once in a blue moon.

TQYour Baba Yaga novels and the Broken Rider Novels are interconnected in that the Broken Riders protect the Baba Yaga witches. Is there any crossover to the Veiled Magic novels in any way?

Deborah:  Not at all. The books take place in different worlds, and even the witches are completely different. (The witches in the Veiled Magic series have more realistic limits to their magic, and are a separate race from humans. The witches in the Baba Yaga series have tremendous, although not unlimited, magical powers, and were born human and then became Baba Yagas.)

TQWhat's next?

Deborah:  I’m actually working on the third book in the series right now, tentatively titled Veiled Mysteries, although that could change. I’ve got another novella set in the Baba Yaga world coming out in September, and the second Broken Rider book, Dangerously Divine (Gregori’s story) comes out November 28th. Save the date!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Deborah:  Thank you for having me!

Veiled Menace
Veiled Magic 2
InterMix, April 18, 2017
eBook, 285 pages

Interview with Deborah Blake
From the author of Veiled Magic and the Baba Yaga novels comes an exciting new paranormal romance…

Since Witches came out of the broom closet in the early twenty-first century, they have worked alongside humans as police officers, healers, stock traders, and more. But they aren’t the only paranormal entities in our world…

Witch and police officer Donata Santori is no stranger to magical mayhem, but lately her life has been unexpectedly charmed. Her job as a Ghost Yanker now includes the occasional paranormal investigation, and she’s advancing her magical abilities with the help of an ancestor’s treasured spell book. And while both of her former love interests—reclusive half-Dragon art forger Peter Casaventi and disgraced Shapechanger Magnus Torvald—are nowhere to be found, she’s not averse to being wined and dined by wealthy businessman Anton Eastman.

But Eastman isn’t what he seems, and what he wants from Donata is far more than she’s willing to give. When a mysterious relic, the Pentacle Pentimento, resurfaces, along with Peter’s Dragon father and a shocking Santori family secret, Donata must fight to save herself, her friends, and just maybe the fate of the world from a magic as old as it is dangerous…

Includes an exclusive preview of the next Broken Rider novel, Dangerously Divine


Veiled Magic
Veiled Magic 1
InterMix, November 17, 2015
eBook, 281 pages

Interview with Deborah Blake
A spellbinding new novel from the author of the Baba Yaga novels.

Since Witches came out of the broom-closet in the early 21st century, they have worked alongside humans as police officers, healers, stock traders, and more. But they aren’t the only paranormal entities in our world…

Police officer and Witch Donata Santori spends her days interrogating dead witnesses by summoning their spectral forms. Normally the job is little more than taking statements and filing reports. But when she’s called in on the case of a murdered art restorer, she finds herself suddenly in possession of a mystical portrait that both the human and paranormal communities would kill to get their hands on.

Unable to take on the forces hunting her alone, Donata seeks help from two unlikely and attractive allies: a reluctant shape-changer and a half-dragon art forger. But as the three of them hurry to uncover the truth about the powerful painting, Donata realizes that she’s caught in the middle of not one but two wars—one for possession of the painting’s secrets and one for possession of her heart…

Includes an exclusive preview of the next Baba Yaga novel, Wickedly Powerful.

About Deborah

Interview with Deborah Blake
Deborah Blake is the author of the Baba Yaga Series (Wickedly Dangerous, Wickedly Wonderful, Wickedly Powerful), the Broken Rider Series, and the Veiled Magic books from Berkley, and has published nine books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide as well as a tarot deck. When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 130-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with various cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.

Newsletter  ~  Website  ~  Blog  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @deborahblake  ~  Goodreads

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will a prize pack that includes a notebook, broom pen, a $10 Amazon gift card, a cute stuffed dragon, some chocolate and some other miscellaneous things from Deborah Blake (see picture). INTERNATIONAL

Interview with Deborah Blake

  • Send an email to theqwillery . contests @ [remove the spaces]
  • In the subject line, enter “Veiled Menace“ 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 May 2, 2017. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

Also by Deborah Blake

The Baba Yaga Series

Interview with Deborah Blake
Wickedly Magical
A Baba Yaga Novella
Berkley, August 5, 2014
eBook, 73 pages

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one…

Barbara Yager loves being one of the most powerful witches in the world, but sometimes she’d rather kick back in her enchanted Airstream with a beer in her hand than work out how to grant the requests of the worthy few who seek her out.

But when a man appears with the token of a family debt of honor, Barbara must drop everything to satisfy the promise owed by her predecessor—and she isn’t above being a little wicked to make sure the debt is paid in full…

Interview with Deborah Blake
Wickedly Dangerous
A Baba Yaga Novel 1
Berkley, September 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages


Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

Interview with Deborah Blake
Wickedly Wonderful
A Baba Yaga Novel 2
Berkley, December 2, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet…

A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.

While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life…

Interview with Deborah Blake
Wickedly Ever After
A Baba Yaga Novella
InterMix, January 19, 2016
eBook, 66 pages

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one…

Having triumphed over a powerful enemy and ended up with both a wonderful guy—Sheriff Liam McClellan—and an adorable adopted daughter to raise as a Baba Yaga, Barbara Yager is ready to welcome her happily ever after.

But first she must bring Liam to the Otherworld and get the Queen’s permission to marry him. The Queen, however, is not so easily persuaded. She gives them three impossible tasks to complete in two weeks’ time—and if they fail Barbara will have to watch Liam slowly age and die like all humans, and kiss her happily ever after good-bye forever.

Includes an exclusive preview of the next Baba Yaga Novel, Wickedly Powerful

Interview with Deborah Blake
Wickedly Powerful
A Baba Yaga Novel 3
Berkley, February 2, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

The author of Wickedly Wonderful returns to her “addicting”* world of Russian witches in the latest Baba Yaga novel.

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

The only thing more fiery than Bella Young’s red hair is her temper. She knows that a Baba Yaga’s power without strict control can leave the people she cares about burned, so to protect her heart—and everyone around her—the only company she keeps is her dragon-turned-Norwegian-Forest-cat, Koshka.

But when Bella is tasked with discovering who’s setting magical fires throughout Wyoming’s Black Hills, she finds herself working closely with former hotshots firefighter Sam Corbett—and falling hard for his quiet strength and charm.

Sam may bear the scars of his past, but Bella can see beyond them and would do anything to help him heal. Only before she can rescue her Prince Charming, she’ll have to overcome the mysterious foe setting the forest fires—a truly wicked witch who wields as much power and even more anger than Bella…

Wickedly Spirited
A Baba Yaga Novella
InterMix, September 19, 2017

[cover not yet revealed]

An all-new Baba Yaga novella from Deborah Blake!

Jazz, the powerfully magical teen first introduced in Wickedly Powerful, is now being trained as a Baba Yaga--and she's determined to free the Broken Riders herself.

The Broken Rider Novels

Interview with Deborah Blake
Dangerously Charming
A Broken Rider Novel 1
Berkley, October 4, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

From the author of the Baba Yaga novels, a brand new series set in the same “addicting”* world, filled with wild magic, enchanting damsels, and the irresistibly daring men who serve the Baba Yagas…

The Riders are three immortal brothers who protect the mythical Baba Yagas. But their time serving the witches has ended—and their new destinies are just beginning…

Ever since a near-fatal mistake stripped Mikhail Day and his brothers of their calling to be Riders, Day has hidden from his shame and his new, mortal life in a remote cabin in the Adirondack mountains. But when a desperate young woman appears on his doorstep, he cannot resist helping her—and cannot deny how strongly he’s drawn to her…

For generations, women in Jenna Quinlan’s family have been cursed to give up their first born child to the vengeful fairy Zilya. When Jenna finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is determined to break her family’s curse and keep her baby, even if it means teaming up with a mysterious and charismatic man with demons of his own…

To unravel the curse, Jenna and Day will have to travel deep into the Otherworld. But the biggest challenge of the journey might not be solving an ancient puzzle but learning to heal their own broken hearts…

Interview with Deborah Blake
Dangerously Divine
A Broken Rider Novel 2
Berkley, November 28, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

The author of the “wonderful” (Tamora Pierce) Baba Yaga novels and Dangerously Charming is back with a magically mesmerizing new tale about the dashing and daring Broken Riders…

The Riders: Three immortal brothers who kept the Baba Yagas safe, now stripped of their summons to protect. But fate is not finished with them—and their new callings are even more powerful…

Though his physical wounds have healed, Gregori Sun, the eldest of the Riders, remains in spiritual turmoil. His search for his mother, the one person able to heal his soul and save his life, is failing—until he crosses paths with a beautiful and fascinating librarian who might be the key to his salvation…

Ciera Evans’s bookish ways are just a guise. The product of a difficult past, she has dedicated her life to saving lost teens—by any means necessary. She works alone, but when a dark, brooding stranger proposes they team up to solve both their problems, she is tempted—in more ways than one…

A Conversation with Daniel Suarez about CHANGE AGENT

Please welcome Daniel Suarez to The Qwillery. Change Agent will be published on April 18th by Dutton. Change Agent has been optioned by Netflix.

A Conversation with Daniel Suarez about CHANGE AGENT

1. What gave you the idea for the storyline of CHANGE AGENT?

I've always been fascinated by technological innovations and their implications for society. Having worked in tech for many years, most innovations I'd seen involved circuits and software, but several years ago, on a visit to MIT Media Lab, I first learned about synthetic biology. The idea that DNA was a primordial software language—one that could be used to create living programs from bacteria, yeast, or algae—was truly eye opening. That sent me on a multi-year quest to understand how living technology might transform our world. Along the way I learned about CRISPR-cas9 genetic-editing, and that's when the story for CHANGE AGENT clicked into place.

2. It might be set a couple decades in the future, but CHANGE AGENT has its foundation in gene-editing technology that's being developed as we speak. What kind of research went into writing this book?

Once I'd decided that CHANGE AGENT was going to entail a hero whose genetic identity is stolen from him, I began by re-familiarizing myself with the basics of genetics, DNA, RNA and cell biology. I then read deeply on current gene therapies, as well as CRISPR and synthetic biology. I consumed books by geneticists like George Church and Ed Regis, Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans, Siddhartha Mukherjee, and many more. Only then, after I'd absorbed the basic ideas encompassing the transformational biotech just now coming into use, did I reach out and speak with geneticists and CRISPR researchers, as well as the director of a major police crime lab to ensure my story was built on an authentic foundation.

Researching my books is easily a third of the effort involved in writing them, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it's also great fun.

3. While doing research for CHANGE AGENT, did you learn anything about CRISPR that particularly surprised you or stuck with you?

What surprised me most was that almost no specialized equipment or advanced training is necessary to use CRISPR! For little more than a thousand dollars, you can set up your own at-home genetic-editing lab and begin editing E.coli bacteria to grant it bioluminescence or other traits using kits and books available on Amazon. This is why I think synthetic biology combined with genetic-editing is about to transform our world – because it won't require a multi-million dollar lab to experiment with; millions and millions of people (some of them children!) will tinker with CRISPR on their own. That broad availability is key. For example, the Internet was used in government labs and universities for decades, but it was only when hundreds of millions of average citizens got online, that the first browser and then the first blockbuster web sites appeared—bringing humanity into the Internet age.

4. In your personal opinion, could the future of CRISPR gene-editing depicted in CHANGE AGENT become real within the next few decades?

A world where deadly heritable genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis or Huntington's disease are routinely cured in vitro by CRISPR edits is, I think, just a decade or so away. From there, the list of curing edits and their complexity will quickly expand. Within two or three decades I think we will indeed see expectant parents tempted to imbue their progeny with genetic advantages that could transform the fortunes of their family line – greater height, longer life, better memories, and more.

Adding urgency to humanity's mastery of DNA will be climate change—which may require that we edit agricultural crops to withstand higher temperatures, less rainfall, and temporary submersion in salt water in response to rising seas and increasingly powerful storms. Likewise, cultured meats—growing muscle tissue in vitro, instead of an entire cow, pig, or chicken—will be necessary in coming decades to satisfy the growing global demand for meat, especially if we're going to avoid destroying the Earth's natural ecosystem.

5. Interestingly, you chose to set Singapore as the future technology capitol of the world. Why? Is there a cautionary tale you hope readers in Silicon Valley will take away from the book?

It is a cautionary tale, but not necessarily one directed at Silicon Valley. It's an admonition to an America that thinks reason and science are optional, or which believes we can indulge in fantasies without the rest of the world passing us by. Hard choices lie ahead of us – but also fantastic opportunities.

Cocooning ourselves in platitudes and ignoring scientific evidence is not going to keep America relevant through the 21st century.

6. The 2045 you imagine is a world with even greater socio-economic gaps in advanced societies than today. Those who live at the top enjoy a life greatly enhanced by incredible technology. Of the inventions or advanced technology you imagined for the book, do you have a favorite? And what are the odds we may actually see it (or others) occur in our lifetime?

Light-field projection technology fascinates me. It’s depicted in CHANGE AGENT as fully immersive images beaming directly into a viewer's retina, instead of onto a physical screen. In real life, this technology is in its infancy; however, it does exist—and even these early prototypes are amazing. Designed to project light in the same format in which we perceive physical reality, they will change the world in surprising ways. Why have a physical television if watching a virtual one is even more comfortable, realistic, brighter, bigger, and better for the environment? Why have a physical phone? Or a laptop? But on the flipside: can you believe what you see with your own eyes in a world with such technology?

I think we’ll have a chance to find out within our lifetimes, as the first generation of these devices already exists as prototypes.

7. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I want readers of CHANGE AGENT to be both excited by the possibilities of our future, but also sobered by the responsibilities required to make that future possible. We can't leave this to chance, and neither can we tell only positive uplifting stories. When it comes to the transformative power of technology, we need to imagine the good, the bad, and everything in between, and use our intellect to navigate the narrow path we choose. Countless future generations are depending on us to get it right.

8. Your books are known for taking current technology and imagining its future – often with shocking accuracy. How do you strike a balance between writing a fictional story that's still grounded in real science?

I begin from my own fascination with a real socio-technological trend – be it the power of narrow AI (DAEMON and FREEDOM™), autonomous robotic weapons (KILL DECISION), technological oppression (INFLUX), or humans controlling their own evolution (CHANGE AGENT). The technologies I choose are typically in their real world infancy—although sometimes I combine existing technologies in unexpected ways, the effects of which can be dramatic. For example, the Internet and the mobile phone existed separately for quite some time. Only when they combined into the smart phone did everything from social media to Uber become truly possible.

The immediacy of people connecting away from their computers, while walking the streets, changed everything—a seemingly minor difference with a huge impact. Thus, it doesn't have to be a major innovation that sparks massive change.

Once I've chosen the catalyst(s) for a novel, I follow the trail of causation, using what I know of human nature to derive the impact of that catalyst on social behavior. I then start to imagine the resulting society through the eyes of someone we care about, and that leads me from the world-building to the story-building.

9. What drew you to the sci-fi and tech thriller genres?

In some ways I view myself not as a sci-fi author, but as simply an author. That's because, increasingly, all stories are sci-fi stories.

High tech now pervades and powers modern life. Technology enables our work and mediates our personal relationships. That was not true even twenty years ago.

In that sense we live sci-fi lives—at least to our younger selves. I, for example, am old enough to remember a time when no one carried mobile phones, and when the Internet was reached over dial-up modem connections. But today, I've got broadband wireless tablet devices sitting around my house that I could theoretically use to broadcast live video feeds to an audience of millions. I've got 3D printers, robots that vacuum the floor, and aerial drones that can follow programmed flight paths. I routinely speak with narrow AI assistants, and my next car will probably be able to drive itself. In such a world, technology is merely the background against which we live. And that's what I write about.

And as for what drew me to thrillers: well, who doesn't like a good thriller?

Change Agent
Dutton, April 18, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Suarez delivers an exhilarating sci-fi thriller exploring a potential future where CRISPR genetic editing allows the human species to control evolution itself.

On a crowded train platform, Interpol agent Kenneth Durand feels the sting of a needle—and his transformation begins…

In 2045 Kenneth Durand leads Interpol’s most effective team against genetic crime, hunting down black market labs that perform “vanity edits” on human embryos for a price. These illegal procedures augment embryos in ways that are rapidly accelerating human evolution—preying on human-trafficking victims to experiment and advance their technology.

With the worlds of genetic crime and human trafficking converging, Durand and his fellow Interpol agents discover that one figure looms behind it all: Marcus Demang Wyckes, leader of a powerful and sophisticated cartel known as the Huli jing.

But the Huli jing have identified Durand, too. After being forcibly dosed with a radical new change agent, Durand wakes from a coma weeks later to find he’s been genetically transformed into someone else—his most wanted suspect: Wyckes.

Now a fugitive, pursued through the genetic underworld by his former colleagues and the police, Durand is determined to restore his original DNA by locating the source of the mysterious—and highly valuable—change agent. But Durand hasn’t anticipated just how difficult locating his enemy will be. With the technology to genetically edit the living, Wyckes and his Huli jing could be anyone and everyone—and they have plans to undermine identity itself.

About Daniel

Photo by Walt Mancini Pasadena Star-News
DANIEL SUAREZ is a New York Times bestselling author whose books include Daemon, Freedom™, Kill Decision, Influx, and Change Agent. A former systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies, he has designed and developed software for the defense, finance, and entertainment industries. With a lifelong interest in both IT systems and creative writing, his high-tech and sci-fi thrillers focus on technology-driven change. Suarez is a past speaker at TED Global, MIT Media Lab, and the Long Now Foundation, among many others. Self-taught in software development, he is a graduate from the University of Delaware with a BA in English Literature. An avid PC and console gamer, his own world-building skills were bolstered through years as a pen-and-paper role-playing game moderator. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Website  ~  Twitter @ItsDanielSuarez  ~  Medium  ~  Google+

Interview with AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller, authors of Shadow Run, Plus Review and Giveaway

Please welcome AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller to The Qwillery. Shadow Run was published on March 21st by Delacorte Press.

Interview with AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller, authors of Shadow Run, Plus Review and Giveaway

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

Okay! Good! Ready to go! Great to be here! Thanks for having us!

A:  I started writing as a pretty young kid—before I really knew the alphabet, really; I just used squiggles—because I couldn’t not. I started writing in earnest after college, though, with the intention of getting published. It took 5 years.

M:  For a variety of reasons, it was later for me—I’d say about age 8, and at age 13, I started churning out comics, newspapers, and “novels” in earnest. I didn’t take writing as a career until I was 17, at which point I developed a reward system for myself to make sure I wrote a page a day. I thought that stuff was really good, until I read it twenty years later.

TQ Are you a plotters, pantsers or hybrids?

Together, we have to be plotters or else the story would be all over the place with two authors! We needed a pretty clear direction—or outline—to stay in-sync.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you both about writing? What is your co-writing process like?

A:  Writing is most challenging when it becomes a job, and you don’t have the luxury of waiting around for passion to strike. Sometimes you just need to sit down and force the words even if you’re not feeling them—and even if you have to scrap them all later. Writing together, though, was surprisingly easy. We fed off each other’s excitement, had amazing brainstorming sessions, and plotted our way out of corners by being a sounding board for one another.

M:  The hardest thing about writing is the “spin up” time. I have a long lag time between sitting down at the keyboard and actually hitting the “groove,” both of which are absolutely real phenomena. If you’ve given yourself three hours to write, and two of them are spent staring at the wall, it’s a problem! Fortunately, that’s where the GOOD part about coauthoring comes in—fear of your coauthor. I live in a perpetual state of panic, which is actually very good for productivity.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

A:  Ursula K. LeGuin, Neil Gaiman, Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor

M:  Influences? Robin McKinley, Suzanne Collins, Rosemary Sutcliff, PG Wodehouse. Favorites include Tolkien, Lewis, and Tove Jansson.

TQ:  Describe Shadow Run in 140 characters or less.

A prince in disguise tries to convince a starship captain that she can change the galaxy for the better before other royals can kill her.

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

Both main characters think the other doesn’t understand the world. The truth is, neither of them do, but together, they are going to do the best job learning.

TQWhat inspired you to write Shadow Run? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

The usual classics like Star Wars, Dune, and Firefly inspired us, but also Alaska—and not because of the cold, breathtaking environment and commercial fishing, but also that “found family” feeling that a lot of us develop with our friends up here.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Shadow Run?

In retrospect, so much! We researched faster than light travel, of course, “paired” magnets, methods of manipulating stock markets, and sword fighting techniques that involve two blades. This latter, in case you were wondering, is pretty rare because it’s largely impractical but it does exist, in a sense.

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

A:  Basra was both the easiest and the hardest for me. S/he felt most natural to me (as we’re both genderfluid), but I also wanted to get the character right. There are so many nuances that couldn’t fit in this book, and so I hope we did Basra justice.

M:  Telu. I’ve spent most my life around people exactly like her, and she is a clever, angry, insightful, and loyal to a level of ferocity no one is likely to understand. She’s a hacker, and all the bottled up sarcasm that implies.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Shadow Run?

We wanted to write something ultimately entertaining, but to also discuss social issues that are important to us as Alaskans and also citizens of the world. One doesn’t exclude the other. You can still talk about issues like identity and cultural clashes and still have fun in a book. So we included those discussions that were important to us, and also swords and space princes.

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

Would you rather live on Alaxak, the planet that Qole hails from, or Luvos, the royal planet? Alaxak, by any metric, until the suns burn out.

TQWhat's next?

We just wrapped up copyedits on Book 2, and we’re starting Book 3!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Shadow Run
Publisher:  Delacorte Press, March 21, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages
List Price: US$17.99 (print); US$10.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780399552533 (print); 9780399552540 (eBook)

Interview with AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller, authors of Shadow Run, Plus Review and Giveaway
Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

Qwill's Thoughts

Shadow Run is the first novel in a new YA SF series by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller. Initially set on and around the planet, Alaxak, and then on the planet Luvos and in between, the events take place years after the Great Collapse which isolated planets when the quick way to travel between them, the Intergalactic Ports, were destroyed.

The novel centers around the young Captain Qole Uvgamut, the crew of her starship, Kaitan Heritage: Arjan, Qole's brother and fabulous pilot, Telu, hacker supreme, Eton, in charge of weapons and protecting Qole, and Basra, the ship's trader. Nev is the newest crew member and everyone is a bit or more than a bit suspicious about him. But Alaxak is a place people come to get lost, to shed their own lives, and not to answer questions about it. So while suspicious, they let their concerns about Nev slide for the most part, at least initially.

Life on Qole's home planet is not easy. It's mostly bitterly cold and one of the only businesses there is Shadow fishing (in space), containing it, and selling it before it can degrade its canisters and kill everyone on the ship. Shadow is a volatile energy source. It's also poisonous and kills most of the people who work with it including Qole's parents and older brother. It's just a matter of time, Qole believes, until Shadow poisoning kills her too.

Nev had come to Alaxak searching for people like Qole. People affected by Shadow but who also are enhanced by it with amazing reflexes and augmented senses. Both Qole to a greater degree and Arjan are those people. Nev is actually a Prince of the family Dracorte and is hiding his identity both to be safe from other royal families and to not give away anything to Qole and her crew. Nev's ulterior motives for finding Qole become clear as the story progresses and his backstory is often as heartbreaking as Qole's.

The novel alternates between the points of view of Qole and Nev. Both are written so well that it's easy to tell who is relating the story (even without the chapter headings indicating that). They both are struggling with each other for a variety of reasons. Both undergo incredible changes by the end of the novel coming to grips with very personal events and losses. They are incredibly sympathetic characters and you can't but help root for them and feel deeply what they are going through.

Strickland and Miller have created a detailed universe as the backdrop to the story. Qole and Nev are caught up in political battles between great families vying to be in control, personal battles between family members (especially Nev's) and a variety of intrigues over which they have no control. Neither of them gets off easy and damage is done in a variety of ways. Many people in Shadow Run are not who they seem at all and both Qole and Nev have some hard lessons to learn.

While the novel moves at a fast clip it dragged in a few places for me but this is a minor issue and your mileage may vary. On top of great interpersonal relationships and finely developed characters, there are plenty of beautifully written battles, fights, and action! The authors have created some fabulous weapons too.

Shadow Run is a terrific start to an exciting new series and I can't wait to see where Strickland and Miller take the crew of the Kaitan Heritage next. Buy it for your teen, but read it first!

About the Authors

ADRIANNE STRICKLAND and MICHAEL MILLER met in their hometown of Palmer, Alaska, where they agreed on 99% of book taste and thus decided to write together. Adri spends her summers as a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the rest of the year writing. Michael grew up off the grid in a homestead in Alaska and now works in IT and tech. This is their first book together. Visit them on Twitter, AdriAnne at @AdriAnneMS and Michael at @begemotike.

The Giveaway

What:  One copy of Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller from the publisher. US Only

  • Send an email to theqwillery . contests @ [remove the spaces]
  • In the subject line, enter “Shadow Run“ 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 and is provided to the publisher and/or The Qwillery only for that purpose. All other address information will be deleted once the giveaway ends.
Who:  The giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address.

When:  The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on April 14, 2017. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

Interview with Jake Bible

Please welcome Jake Bible to The Qwillery! Stone Cold Bastards is published on February 24th by Bell Bridge Books. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Jake a Happy Publication Day!

Interview with Jake Bible

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

Jake:  I started writing when I was young, way back in elementary school. I was lucky enough to go to a school where we were required to not only write a short book, but to illustrate and bind it. I pretty much ripped off other ideas like the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, Bunnicula, Mercer Mayer stories. I've always had a seriously overactive imagination. I continued writing up through and after high school, but let it fall away as life got busy and I got tired of the old way of mailing in stories to markets and publishers. The internet changed all of that and when I could start submitting via email. So I decided to give it a go again. That was back in 2007 and I've been writing my butt off since.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jake:  I'm whatever it takes to get the novel written the way it needs to be written. The last novel I wrote I didn't even jot down a note until the final chapter. Then I outlined that chapter so I could tie up the story. I've outlined entire books and followed the outline, I've outlined entire books and never once looked at the outline, I've done it every way possible. It really all depends on how well-formed the story is in my head when I start writing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Has your writing process changed over the years?

Jake:  After 40 plus novels, the most challenging part of writing is to not be derivative. I have certain themes and archetypes that I steer towards when I write a novel, but I try to make each story's characters new and fresh. It isn't easy. As for my writing process, I haven't changed much over the years. My mind is hyperactive, so when the story is flowing, I let it flow. When it isn't flowing, I back off and do something– clean the house, run errands, watch Netflix, read, cook. But I pretty much have always had the same process of slow start, super fast finish. So far it works for me.

TQDescribe Stone Cold Bastards in 140 characters or less.

Jake:  A rag-tag team of gargoyles come to life must save the last of humanity from extinction before the demon-possessed hordes destroy the world.

TQTell us something about Stone Cold Bastards that is not found in the book description.

Jake:  One of the themes of the book is being the reluctant hero. Most of the gargoyles actually have a lot of contempt for the humans they are protecting. They understand that humanity needs to be saved, but if it wasn't for the magic that compels them, they may not exactly put their all into it. Overcoming that contempt is part of the hero's journey for many of the gargoyles. It was great playing with that dynamic.

TQWhat inspired you to write Stone Cold Bastards? Why gargoyles?

Jake:  I came up with the name first. Stone Cold Bastards just popped into my head and I went, "Huh? What kind of story is this?" Then I realized that there are billion vampire, werewolf, zombie, and ghost stories out there, but other than a couple paranormal romances here and there, gargoyles have been pretty much neglected. Plus, gargoyles are made of stone and I knew they could just whomp the crap out of their enemies. I wanted to write a novel with some crap-whomping heroes that just kicked ass.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Stone Cold Bastards?

Jake:  Oh, man, I learned something huge! Did you know that what we generically call gargoyles are actually grotesques? That's where we get the word "grotesque" from! Gargoyles are waterspouts that usually are set at the corners of buildings whereas grotesques are any carved faces or carved statues that adorn a building. The stereotypical winged and fanged creature we all think of as a gargoyle is technically a grotesque. I thought that was way cool.

TQIn Stone Cold Bastards who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jake:  The easiest character to write was by far Mordecai (Morty). He's the cigar-chomping, lead grotesque that acts all tough and gruff, but has a sweet spot for a few of the wards (humans) he and the other grotesques have to protect. Writing him came easy. I had a few hard characters to write, mainly the humans. Switching my brain from grotesque/gargoyle think and back to human think was not easy. I enjoyed being in Morty's head so much that when I went to write a human character I almost had a disdain for them. They were weak and soft and could get crushed so easily. They sucked. I had to work at making the humans likable and worth saving! It's kind of funny.

TQWhich question about Stone Cold Bastards do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Jake:  What type of novel is it? The genre is technically Contemporary Fantasy, but I think that classification (as many classifications do) misses the spirit of the novel. This is a dark, magical, post-apocalyptic, action adventure that I have tried to make as fun and entertaining as possible. It's a contradiction. I was inspired by those old war movies like The Dirty Dozen and Kelly's Heroes. The ones where the misfits are the heroes and you know most of them are probably not going to make it. Lots of jokes and sarcasm from the characters that helps mask the gravity of their situation. They know the odds are against them, but damn if they aren't gonna have a great time kicking ass and taking names along the way!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Stone Cold Bastards.

Jake:  One of my favorites is from Morty. “Guys, I have a big day ahead of me, so if we could avoid the one-on-one attacks, that would be great." Morty is facing several hundred demon-possessed "vessels" as they are called and he could care less about the numbers. He just wants to get the fight going and be done with it. One big, huge, violent brawl is what he prefers. I love it.

TQ:   What's next?

Jake:  Oh, wow, I have a lot coming up. I'm currently writing an urban fantasy for Bell Bridge Books called Black Box, Inc. It's like The Transporter meets Dresden Files. It's turning out to be a lot of fun to write. I also publish with Severed Press and have been releasing a lot of military scifi and space opera with them. What I'm looking forward to is tackling a new genre for Severed Press: LitRPG. Basically its when the protagonist is somehow transported/sucked into/merged with a role playing game/video game/online game and they literally have to play by the rules of the game in order to survive. Ready Player One is a good example, but true LitRPG goes even deeper than that. It's going to be cool to explore something new.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jake:  Thanks for having me!

Stone Cold Bastards
Bell Bridge Books, February 24, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 218 pages

Interview with Jake Bible
Only a rag-tag team of gargoyles stands between humanity and extinction.

Hell has released its ravening horde of demons, leaving most of humanity a puke-spewing, head-spinning mess of possession.

Humanity’s last hope? A team of misfit gargoyles—including a cigar chomping, hard-ass grotesque—come alive and ready for battle during the End of Days. They guard the last cathedral-turned-sanctuary atop a bald knoll in the North Carolina mountains.

Gargoyle protection grudgingly extends to any human who can make it inside the sanctuary, but the power of the stonecutter blood magic, which protects the sanctuary, may not be enough when a rogue grotesque and his badly-wounded ward arrive.

All the hounds of hell are on their heels. The last sanctuary is about to fall.

About Jake

Interview with Jake Bible
Jake Bible, Bram Stoker Award nominated-novelist and author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, has entertained thousands with his horror and sci/fi tales. He reaches audiences of all ages with his uncanny ability to write a wide range of characters and genres. Other series by Jake Bible: the bestselling Salvage Merc One, the Apex Trilogy, the Mega series, and the Reign of Four series. Jake lives in the wonderfully weird Ashville, North Carolina. Connect with Jake on Facebook, Twitter, and his website:

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