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Interview with Marina Lostetter

Please welcome Marina Lostetter back to The Qwillery. The Helm of Mindnight, the first novel in the The Five Penalties series, was published on April 13, 2021 by Tor Books.







TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery! When we first chatted in 2017 you answered the questions regarding the most challenging thing for you about writing as follows:

"The upside to plotting for me is the focus it brings to drafting a story--the words flow well once I know where I'm going and what I'm trying to say. The downside is my tendency to try to bend the characters to fit the plot. I often write myself into corners because I want events to happen a certain way, but it doesn’t make sense for the characters to make the choices I want them to. " [Interview here.]

What has changed as far as writing challenges for you?

Marina:  Everything above still holds true. There is one new challenge I've encountered now that I'm five novels into my career, and that's coming to terms with the fact that each novel writing experience is completely different. I'll start out thinking, I can write this really quickly--draft it efficiently--because I've written a novel before, I know exactly how this will go, but then, inevitably, each book has its own nuances that make drafting completely different process than before. Either I'm trying to tackle a structure that's different, or I'm writing a character that just won't "behave," or thematically things just won't fit together easily. Each creative project is unique unto itself.



TQ:  What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when your first novel was published that you know now?

Marina:  Book releases are exhausting! There's a lot involved in a writing career besides butt-in-chair writing time. The more writing you do, the more "authoring" you do as well.



TQ:  Your prior novels have been Science Fiction. The Helm of Midnight is your first fantasy novel. What appeals to you about writing fantasy?

Marina:  I love the freedom of magic. The ability to create in-depth histories and versions of "physics" that have very little to do with reality. I can make monsters, I can make gods, I can built impossible cities.



TQ:  Describe The Helm of Midnight using only 5 words.

Marina:  I'm going to steal five words from some of the wonderful authors who blurbed the book: Bloody, ambitious, mind-ripping, beautiful, and vicious.



TQ:  Tell us something about The Helm of Midnight that is not in the book description.

Marina:  The valley of Arkensyre, in which the story takes place, is sealed off from the outside world. It's protected by the gods from the wastelands, where all manner of monsters roam. Only one kind of monster can make it past the god-barrier, and that's varger--hulking creatures that look half-bear, half-dog, which are covered in boils and only have a taste for human flesh. They can't be killed, just reduced to a fog and bottled away in enchanted glass.

But they might not all be as monstrous as they seem.



TQ:  Does The Helm of Midnight, the first novel in The Five Penalties series, share anything thematically with your Noumenon SF series?

Marina:  I tend to write about characters trying to do their best and be better people, even when their "best" is sincerely awful. Also, in the Noumenon series, the characters start out thinking physics is behaving one way, when really it's behaving very differently. Similarly, the magic system in The Helm of Midnight appears to function a certain way, but there are layers to its functionality that have yet to be discovered.



TQ:  Please tell us about the cover for The Helm of Midnight.

Marina:  Sam Weber is the cover artists. On the front we see a Regulator (essentially a lawperson in charge of overseeing enchantments) in a very specific version of their uniform. White is reserved for a special occasion. I play a lot with color meaning in The Helm of Midnight.



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

Marina:  Melanie came the most naturally to me, but that might be because I've "known" her the longest. She featured in the original short story The Helm of Midnight is based on, which I wrote a decade ago now. Individually, Krona and her sister, De-Lia, weren't that difficult to write, but I'd say their relationship was one of the toughest to get right. They have a very push-and-pull kind of sisterhood. Sometimes they're rivals, sometimes they're codependent, but there's a lot of love and respect between them, even when their relationship is rocky.



TQ:  Does The Helm of Midnight touch on any social issues?

Marina:  Part of The Helm of Midnight deals with being a cog in a bad system, and how society can push us to do things we might not otherwise do. Thematically it asks things like, what are our individual roles in upholding broken systems? In what ways can we use bad systems to try to do good things regardless? At what point are we truly bad people, and the system doesn't matter? Does intent matter? Do the ends ever justify truly terrible means?

There's also a lot of focus on bodily autonomy.



TQ:  Which question about The Helm of Midnight do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Marina:  I wish more people would ask about the deities, because the Valley's creation myth and the gods' roles aren't just set dressing or back story. They're extremely integral to the plot of the first novel, as well as the over-arching plot of the trilogy. Essentially, the Valley has five gods, which correspond to the five kinds of magic: Time, Nature, Knowledge, Emotion, and the Unknown. But there's also a sixth deity, the Thalo. The Thalo created the world and the monsters, but not the humans. It sees humans as unfit, poorly formed abominations. Its sinister influence is a constant drive in The Five Penalties series.



TQ:  What's next?

Marina:  I have another book coming out this year! ACTIVATION DEGRADATION is releasing on September 28, 2021. It's a thriller-esque sci fi novel set in Jovian space, featuring soft robots, queer space pirates, action-adventure, and unreliable narration.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Marina:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Helm of Midnight
The Five Penalties 1
Tor Books, April 13, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages
Hannibal meets Mistborn in Marina Lostetter’s THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, the dark and stunning first novel in a new trilogy that combines the intricate worldbuilding and rigorous magic system of the best of epic fantasy with a dark and chilling thriller.

In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power—the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city.

Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question.

It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





About Marina

Marina J. Lostetter (she/her) is the author of Noumenon and Noumenon: Infinity. This is her first foray into fantasy. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in Arkansas with her husband, Alex. When not writing or drawing she can often be found reading spec-fic, or playing it (she enjoys a good zombie-themed board game now and again). And she does it all while globetrotting. Visit her online at https://lostetter.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @MarinaLostetter.









The View From Monday - April 12, 2021

Happy Monday!

There are 4 debuts this week:

Becoming Leidah by Michelle Grierson;

Composite Creatures by Caroline Hardaker;

The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club by Doug Henderson;

and

Malice by Heather Walter.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



From formerly featured DAC Authors:

Gifting Fire (Stealing Thunder 2) by Alina Boyden;

The Worldbreaker Saga Omnibus by Kameron Hurley;

The Girl and the Mountain (The Book of the Ice 2) by Mark Lawrence;

and

The Helm of Midnight (The Five Penalties 1) by Marina Lostetter.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.



The View From Monday - April 12, 2021
 
 
 
Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

April 13, 2021
TITLEAUTHORGENRE - SERIES
Westside Saints (h2tp)
W.M. Akers HistM/GH - A Gilda Carr Tiny Mystery 2
The Immortals of Tehran (h2tp)Ali Araghi LF
Love in ColorBolu Babalola FairyT/FolkT/LM/SS
Gifting FireAlina Boyden F - Stealing Thunder 2
VicariousRhett C. Bruno SF
Multispecies Cities: Solarpunk Urban FuturesPriya Sarukkai
Chabria Taiyo Fujii
hweta Taneja
SF/GenEng/PA - Anthology
Trial of the Wizard KingChad Corrie F - The Wizard King Trilogy 2
TrafikRikki Ducornet SF
MortisJohn French SF - Horus Heresy: Siege of Terra
Becoming Leidah (D)Michelle Grierson F
Composite Creatures (D)Caroline Hardaker SF
Near the BoneChristina Henry H
The Worldbreaker Saga Omnibus (e)Kameron Hurley F - The Worldbreaker Saga
Savage GerryJohn Jantunen SF
Voices in the DarknessDavid Niall Wilson (Ed)
DF - Anthology
The Girl and the MountainMark Lawrence F - The Book of the Ice 2
The Night Library of Sternendach: A Vampire Opera in VerseJessica Lévai HistF
Breath by BreathMorgan Llywelyn SF - Step by Step 3
The Helm of MidnightMarina Lostetter F - The Five Penalties 1
Litany of DreamsAri Marmell F - Arkham Horror
NightbringerGraham McNeill SF - Black Library Masterworks
My Mother's House (h2tp)Francesca Momplaisir MR/CulH/LF
Vampire GenevieveKim Newman H - Warhammer Horror
Monstrous Affections: Stories (ri)
David Nickle H
Before the Devil Fell (h2tp)
Neil Olson LF/M/Occ/Sup/Th
The Anthill (h2tp)
Julianne Pachico LF/H
Space Marine Conquests: Masters of ShadowThomas Parrott
The Devil's PawnOliver Pötzsch
Lisa Reinhardt (Tr)
Medieval/HistF - Faust 2
Crooked River (h2mm)
Douglas Preston
Lincoln Child
PP/Occ/Sup/Sus
The Light of the Midnight StarsRena Rossner FairyT/FolkT/LM/Jewish/HistF
StormlandJohn Shirley SF/CyP
The Book of Speculation (h2tp)Erika Swyler LF/F
Luther: First of the FallenGav Thorpe SF/SO - Horus Heresy
The Ancestor (h2tp)
Danielle Trussoni Gothic
Savage Legion (h2tp)
Matt Wallace F - Savage Rebellion 1
Malice (D)Heather Walter F/FairyT/FolkT/LM
Lady of SorrowsC L Werner F - Warhammer: Age of Sigmar
Otherland: Mountain of Black GlassTad Williams SF/CyP/HSF - Otherland 3



April 15, 2021
TITLEAUTHORGENRE - SERIES
The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club (D)
Doug Henderson LBBTQ+/Fantasy/HU



D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator



AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
BHU - Black Humor
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CM - Crime & Mystery
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
GothicR - Gothic Romance
GW&CC - Global Warming and Climate Change
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistM - Historical Mystery
HistR - Historical Romance
HistTh - Historical Thriller
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
Med - Medical
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
MU - Mash-Up
NF - Near Future
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PF - Paranormal Fantasy
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PolTh - Political Thriller
PopCul - Popular Culture
PP - Police Porcedural
Psy - Psychological
R - Romance
RF - Romantic Fantasy
ScF - Science Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SFTh - Science Fiction Thriller
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
SS - Short Stories
STR - Small Town and Rural
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
VM - Visionary and Metaphysical
WS - Women Sleuths

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors


Here are some of the April 2021 novels by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge (DAC) Authors. The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.



Jason M. Hough (2013)

Instinct
Gallery Books, April 6, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
New York Times bestselling author Jason M. Hough dives headfirst into the world of thrillers with this explosive new tale!

Welcome to Silvertown, Washington. Population 602 (for now).

Despite its small size, the small mountain town is home to more conspiracy theories than any other place in America. Officer Mary Whittaker is slowly acclimating to the daily weirdness of life here, but when the chief of police takes a leave of absence, she is left alone to confront a series of abnormal incidents--strange even by Silvertown standards.

An “indoor kid” who abhors nature dies on a random midnight walkabout with no explanation.

A hiker is found dead on a trail, smiling serenely after being mauled by a bear.

A woman known for being a helicopter parent abandons her toddler twins without a second thought.

It’s almost as if the townsfolk are losing their survival instinct, one by one...

As Whittaker digs deeper into her investigation, she uncovers a larger conspiracy with more twists and turns than a mountain road, and danger around every corner. To save Silvertown, she must distinguish the truth from paranoia-fueled lies before she ends up losing her own instincts...and her life!
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo




Mark Lawrence (2011)

The Girl and the Mountain
The Book of Ice 2
Ace, April 13, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
The second novel in the thrilling and epic new fantasy series from the international bestselling author of Red Sister and Prince of Thorns.

On the planet Abeth there is only the ice. And the Black Rock.

For generations the priests of the Black Rock have reached out from their mountain to steer the fate of the ice tribes. With their Hidden God, their magic and their iron, the priests’ rule has never been questioned. But when ice triber Yaz challenged their authority, she was torn away from the only life she had ever known, and forced to find a new path for herself.

Yaz has lost her friends and found her enemies. She has a mountain to climb, and even if she can break the Hidden God’s power, her dream of a green world lies impossibly far to the south, across a vast emptiness of ice. Before the journey can even start, she has to find out what happened to the ones she loves and save those that can be saved.

Abeth holds its secrets close, but the stars shine brighter for Yaz and she means to unlock the truth.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo
Book One





Marina Lostetter (2017)

The Helm of Midnight
The Five Penalties 1
Tor Books, April 13, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages
Hannibal meets Mistborn in Marina Lostetter’s THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, the dark and stunning first novel in a new trilogy that combines the intricate worldbuilding and rigorous magic system of the best of epic fantasy with a dark and chilling thriller.

In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power—the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city.

Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question.

It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo

Interview with Marina LostetterThe View From Monday - April 12, 2021Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors

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