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

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

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






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

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



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

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



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

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



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

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



TQDescribe City of Iron and Dust using only 5 words.

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



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

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



TQWhat inspired you to write City of Iron and Dust?

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

JPO

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

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



TQWhat's next?

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



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

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






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

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






About J.P. Oakes

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








Website  ~  Twitter@jp_oakes


July 2021 Debuts



There are 6 debuts for July 2021.

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

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




John Appel

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

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





Lena Nguyen

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

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

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





J. P. Oakes

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

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





Shelley Parker-Chan

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

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

“I refuse to be nothing…”

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

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

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

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





Lucinda Roy

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

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

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

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





Scott Ruesterholz

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

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

When Frozos’s forces arrive several years later, Robert must decide whether to support the man who has lifted him from a life of enslavement or defect and ally with Earth. This choice forces Robert to insert himself into the political process, opposing American President Nick Neverian, as the planet decides whether to forcefully resist invasion or accept Frozos’s demands. Robert’s own past with President Neverian, a one-time ally and now foe, further complicates his decision-making. As the crisis builds, will nations be brought to the brink of war? Will governments be toppled while the world reckons with Frozos’s army amassing in the sky?
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo
Interview with J.P. Oakes, author of City of Iron and DustJuly 2021 Debuts

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