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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Marissa Levien, author of The World Gives Way

Please welcome Marissa Levien to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author ChallengeInterviews. The World Gives Waywas published on June 15, 2021 by Redhook.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Marissa a Happy Book Birthday!






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

Marissa:  I wrote this truly bonkers story for a kindergarten assignment… we would dictate the story to our teacher, and they would write it out for us. For most kids, it was just a couple sentences, something like “The cat ran into the tree to chase a squirrel. Then a bird flew away.” Mine was this long run-on paragraph about an alien in a cloud spaceship coming down to earth to bury the severed limbs of his ancestors. It drew some weird looks from the teachers, but six-year-old me was very happy with the finished product.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Marissa:  I’d say I’m a hybrid. I love outlines, but I also strongly believe that you should let your characters change and grow as you’re writing them, which means sometimes they’re going to change the story on you. When that happens, you just kind of have to go with it.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Marissa:  When writing a story, I always get bogged down in the middle. I always have a sense of how a book is going to begin, and how I want it to end, but the middle is where I get stuck. Sometimes it’s because I’m trying to force a plot through that’s not quite the right fit anymore, or because I’m avoiding the necessary conflict or change for my characters. But somewhere, about 150 pages in, I usually have to take a step back and shake off my preconceived notions of the story in order to keep going.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Marissa:  Everything influences my writing. I’m a very big fan of reading all genres, and even outside of literature, just taking in as much of the world as possible; paintings, dance, history, travel, politics, scientific theorems, you name it.

For this book, I read a lot of Calvino, a lot of Beckett, Douglas Adams, Karen Thompson Walker, and Emily St. John Mandel. Lots of existentialism and lots of humanity. One of my main characters is also an art appreciator, so I got to pull from some of my favorite artists, like Alma Thomas and Roman Opalka.



TQDescribe The World Gives Way using only 5 words.

Marissa:  A warm, humane, aesthetic, apocalypse.



TQTell us something about The World Gives Way that is not found in the book description.

Marissa:  Most of the descriptions talk a lot about the class structure in the book, the fact that my main character is an indentured servant. I don’t think many of them directly state that the book is an apocalypse story.



TQWhat inspired you to write The World Gives Way?

Marissa:  I’ve had apocalypses on the brain for a few years now (I’m sure the 2016 election had something to do with it), and I kept thinking about what it would be like to know that the end of the world is coming, and to just sit with that knowledge. There are plenty of thrillers and action movies about characters fighting to avert the end of the world, but I was interested in writing a character who was fighting to come to terms with the end of everything, and fighting to live their best life with the time left.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The World Gives Way?

Marissa:  I did a lot of research on what I consider to be the world’s most beautiful places: Tokyo, Mexico City, Istanbul, Petra, Tunisian deserts, Mediterranean coasts, the Himalayas. I was creating a world that had to be a little bit of everything all compacted into one, so I wanted to blend as much of the world together as possible. That meant also finding ways to blend cultures with food, religion, architecture, technology, etc. I did a lot of research and then tried to pepper it into the world of the story as subtly as possible.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The World Gives Way.

Marissa:  Lisa Marie Pompilio designed the book cover, and it’s beautiful. There’s a lot of teal and warm peachy-orange colors; we’ve been joking that the color palette accidentally matches the decorating in our house. It’s been very convenient for Instagram.

The cover shows a woman in profile, against a moon and backdrop of stars. The woman is meant to be Myrra, my main character. I don’t know specifically if this was the intent, but her posture to me suggests someone who has been beaten down a bit, but is also resolute and strong. It fits the character very well.



TQIn The World Gives Way who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Marissa:  Tobias was the easiest character to write, I think because he’s fastidious. I like writing characters who are buttoned up, who want everything just so; I think I’m a little like that, which might be why they’re easy to write.

Myrra was the hardest (and most rewarding) character to write-- she’s faced with pretty terrible circumstances throughout The World Gives Way, and I had to constantly reassess and delve more deeply into what was driving her, what pushed her to keep going.



TQDoes The World Gives Way touch on any social issues?

Marissa:  I ended up having quite a bit to say about class structure in The World Gives Way, which is funny to me because I don’t think I intended to write a book that was so focused on that. But the circumstances of the story, the nature of the social structure aboard a generation ship where people must buy their passage-- it very much demanded that class, wealth, and power all be evaluated, and I got more and more passionate about it the more I wrote. Now it’s one of the first things people note when they’re describing the book, this element of class dystopia. I didn’t know how many opinions I had about class and the wealth gap until I started writing them down, but it turns out I’m pretty angry about it.



TQWhich question about The World Gives Way do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Marissa:  I’m sometimes surprised that people don’t ask more about the thread of motherhood in The World Gives Way. This was another thing that came into the book by accident, but became very meaningful as I kept writing. Early in the book, Myrra is given charge of a baby, Charlotte, and as she deals with all the other conflicts thrown her way, navigating an apocalypse, running from the government, etc, she is also learning how to be a mother. Myrra’s own mother disappeared, and the push-pull of her caring for Charlotte and coming to terms with her own fraught upbringing becomes a huge driving force in the story. I’m at a time in my life where I’m on the precipice of having a family of my own, and I spend a decent amount of time wondering what kind of mother I’ll be, if I’m capable of such a monumental thing. I think that definitely found its way into the book.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The World Gives Way.

Marissa

“The world is a relative concept”

“Who knows what keeps us from letting death in. Even now, when death waits at the threshold for the whole world.”



TQWhat's next?

Marissa:  I’ve been working on a haunted house book, which has been an absolute blast to write. It means I get to read a bunch of ghost stories and gothic romances, all in the name of research. I’ve set it on the Oregon Coast, an area where I grew up, which makes a nice change after all the worldbuilding I did in The World Gives Way. Earlier this year I took a trip out to Oregon to reacquaint myself with the landscape. I’m honestly surprised more people don’t set horror stories in the Pacific Northwest. It’s fantastically moody, with all the clouds and rain and dense impenetrable forests. I know Stephen King loves Maine, and the English have their wild moors, but the Pacific Northwest has always felt wonderfully haunted to me. I’m finishing up my first draft now. I’ll be eager to share it soon.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





The World Gives Way
Redhook, June 15, 2021
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
“Marissa Levien's debut novel is a thrilling adventure, and in a moment when we're all looking for escape pods, this is a great one.”—Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author

ONE OF LITHUB'S MOST ANTICIPATED TITLES OF 2021

In a near-future world on the brink of collapse, a young woman born into servitude must seize her own freedom in this glittering debut with a brilliant twist.

In fifty years, Myrra will be free.

Until then, she's a contract worker. Ever since she was five, her life and labor have belonged to the highest bidder on her contract—butchers, laundries, and now the powerful, secretive Carlyles.

But when one night finds the Carlyles dead, Myrra is suddenly free a lot sooner than she anticipated—and at a cost she never could have imagined. Burdened with the Carlyles' orphaned daughter and the terrible secret they died to escape, she runs. With time running out, Myrra must come face to face with the truth about her world—and embrace what's left before it's too late.

A sweeping novel with a darkly glimmering heart, The World Gives Way is an unforgettable portrait of a world in freefall, and the fierce drive to live even at the end of it all.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Interview with Marissa Levien, author of The World Gives Way
© Robert Mannis

About Marissa

Marissa Levien is a writer and artist who hails from Washington State and now lives in New York with a kindly journalist and their two cats. The World Gives Way is her first novel.









Website  ~  Twitter @marissalevien


Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time


Please welcome Constance Sayers to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. A Witch in Time is published on February 11, 2020 by Redhook.



Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time




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

Constance:  This is embarrassing, but I wrote a soap opera treatment when I was twelve. (In my defense, it was the height of the General Hospital craze.) My sister gave me her old baby-blue Smith Corona typewriter and I sat for hours in my dad’s study and typing this story. I worked on it for years and in the end I think it was nearly two-hundred pages which is quite a lot of commitment at that age! Obviously, I really wanted to be a screenwriter at one point in my life. In undergrad, I took at least three semesters of screenwriting and playwriting.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Constance:  I’m a true hybrid. Being a full pantser hasn’t worked out for me very well because I tend to wander. Having to turn in fully-baked plots to the publisher has helped me make sure that I know where I’m going with the narrative. Often, I can see holes appearing right away in a 3-page synopsis and I know those are things I’m going to have to work out to find solutions for (plot holes, inconsistencies). I also get feedback from my editor on the outline where she can see any major structural problems and things I should steer clear of or places where I could get tripped up. I also try to put in some atmosphere in my synopsis, kind of like a movie treatment. I’ll often go back and consult them to see what type of mood or voice I was trying to create and if I pulled it off. Once I start to actually write, however, I allow the manuscript to surprise me. I will make drastic changes (adding characters, shifting the ending) if it feels right as I’m writing or revising on the fly so my detailed plot description never feels restricting.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Constance:  The first draft. It’s an ugly time for me when there is nothing yet on the page. When I’m in first draft mode, I write a thousand words a day, faithfully. Some days it’s excruciating and other days I’ll write five-thousand words…but I always make myself come back and do another thousand the next day. I don’t worry if the words are good, I never even look at them, I just keep going. This process is not unlike getting up at 5 am to work out (which I also do). In the moment, you hate it…you’ll try to talk yourself out of it, but after you’ve put in the time, you feel at peace. I adore the second and third drafts, so I’m just slogging through the first (very rough) draft.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Constance:  My father always wanted to be a professional musician, so growing up, our house was always filled with music. There was no choice in the matter that I would study piano and voice with an eye toward a career in an opera somewhere. I love music, but there is a math to it that didn’t come naturally to me. I’m a terrible piano player. That said, music is the single biggest influence in my writing. My characters are always musicians or frustrated musicians. I find musical instruments haunting and mysterious things. Often, I provide a soundtrack for the book. For nearly four years, I was an overnight DJ for a commercial radio station in rural Pennsylvania and the love of music and the search for new music is something that always present in me. I write with the Apple Music Chill station and for A Witch in Time, I was very influenced by music—particularly Eric Satie for Juliet and the Laurel Canyon sound for Sandra.



TQDescribe A Witch in Time using only 5 words.

Constance:  Curse Gone Wrong Through Time



TQTell us something about A Witch in Time that is not found in the book description.

Constance:  There is actually some family history in the book. There is a scene for Juliet that is something that came from my own grandmother’s history. In 1918, my grandmother was a young girl and was attacked by three men while walking home. In the 1980s, my father learned about this incident quite by accident and attempted to find out more details. I recall no one in the family wanting to discuss it, so we were forced to go to the city archives to find her police case files. Those files were tough for him to read. It’s a rather tragic story in that as a result of the attack, my grandmother had a child out of wedlock. It was 1918, so as you can imagine, she had very limited options, but she took her infant daughter and went to work as a housekeeper for an older widower. That widower would eventually become my grandfather Despite a rather large difference in their ages, they were married on Valentine’s Day and had three children of their own before she died at the age of 27. I like to think—hope—that she eventually found some happiness in her life. So much of her story was lost to history and memory, but the character of Juliet is definitely inspired by her. It’s a crazy story, but shows you that real life is sometimes much stranger than fiction.



TQWhat inspired you to write A Witch in Time?

Constance:  My sister brought home a print of a well-known painting and she thought the subject looked exactly like me. I’ll admit, the likeness was pretty unsettling. This painting hung on her wall for years and I recall thinking: What if there was a story where a character discovered she was the person in the painting from another time? I love “what if” types of narratives. The book just came to shape rather quickly after that.



TQWhy do you think we are continually fascinated by witches?

Constance:  For years I wrote rural noir short stories and novels—those realist kind of close-up, gritty stories. I don’t think my writing really popped until I started looking at the fantastical. Witches are limitless creatures in a way…they can transcend the mundane and at least for me, I love the power and possibility of that.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for A Witch in Time?

Constance:  I started with books, both non-fiction and fiction or films of the time. I have bookshelves filled with biographies of painters and Hollywood stars of the 1930s. One time period is difficult enough, but I was juggling three, so I just dove in, getting a sense of each time. With the exception of Challans, France, I also visited every location and worked with local historians who would take me to places representative of the time. I recall admiring David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas so much for his immersive time periods. I tried very hard to make the language of each section really feel like the time. I studied a lot of interviews and films from the 1930s to try and get Nora right. I also think those feel different than the groovy tone of Sandra in the 1970s or the more formal language of Juliet in Belle Epoque Paris.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for A Witch in Time.

Constance:  Lisa Pompilio of Orbit Books created the cover. I love how mysterious it is and how shadowy the woman on the cover is. I’m assuming she’s Juliet, but then Juliet is all of them so I love the choice Lisa made to shadow her face. I’d also never talked to the folks at Redhook/Orbit about my love (borderline obsession) of all things Rococo so to my amazement, Lisa included this Rococo flourishes on the cover that I adore. I’m also a sucker for typography, so I love a good serif font.



TQIn A Witch in Time who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Constance:  Sandra is hands-down my favorite character, yet she is no one else’s favorite. (In fact, she’s usually people’s least favorite). Without giving anything away, you don’t get to the ending without Sandra. She is the keystone and asks the difficult questions and matches Luke for the first time in the book, much to his surprise. I loved, loved writing for her and I think it shows. Also, I grew up in the 1970s, so for me it was the romanticized time of childhood. While my favorite, Sandra was the hardest to write. I ended up writing that section twice. By that I mean, I largely scrapped the first take on her and started over and rewrote the entire thing. Juliet was the easiest. Her story just came to me. I didn’t know if I could write a period section like that (I’d never done it before), so it was fun to see that it worked.



TQDoes A Witch in Time touch on any social issues?

Constance:  I really tried to illustrate how difficult it was to be a woman. I think it is still hard to be a woman, but certainly in 1895, Juliet is a teenager who is seduced by a much older man. She finds herself in a terrible situation that requires otherworldly intervention to get her out of. I wanted her time period and the choices available to her to feel as restrictive as a corset. Nora’s situation is a bit better, but not much. I wanted to focus on Hollywood at the very moment the idea of the ideal “woman” was created on screen. To me that was “the” moment in Hollywood and quite a moment in the public’s formation of an “ideal.” Norma is literally erased and re-created as a sex-symbol Nora, but it’s all an illusion. Next comes Sandra. The seventies were about choices, but still I think they weren’t always free.



TQWhich question about A Witch in Time do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Constance:  Who would you cast as Luke and Helen! It’s my favorite question. I was a big Battlestar Galactica fan and actor Callum Keith Rennie (Leoben) was always who I had in my mind when writing for Luke. For Helen, I always thought Genevieve Angelson from Good Girls Revolt was a great Helen. In my mind, the same actress would have to play all of the parts and I think she’d morph from Juliet to Helen well.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from A Witch in Time.

Constance:

“People were meant to live in their small pockets of time with events proceeding in digestible intervals. To see so many lifetimes of progress unfurled before us is far too jarring and almost incomprehensible. It makes us doubt our significance in the world. And a feeling of significance is so important to our survival.”



TQWhat's next?

Constance:  I’m working on a book about a circus with dark origins.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Constance:  You’re welcome!





A Witch in Time
Redhook, February 11, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time
A young witch is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist, in this haunting debut novel.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — attempts to cast a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly summons a demon, binding her daughter to both Auguste and this supernatural being for all time.

Born and re-born, Juliet is fated to live her affair and die tragically young across continents and lifetimes.

But finally, in present-day Washington D.C., something shifts. In this life, Juliet starts to remember her tragic past. And this time, she begins to develop powers of her own that might finally break the spell…

A Witch in Time is perfect for fans of A Secret History of Witches, Outlander, and The Time Traveler’s Wife.





About Constance

Interview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time
Photo by Julie Ann Pixler
Constance Sayers received her MA in English from George Mason University and her BA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a media executive at Atlantic Media. She has been twice named to Folio’s list of “Top 100 Media People in America” and was included in their list of “Top Women in Media.” She is the co-founder of the Thoughtful Dog literary magazine and lives in Kensington, Maryland.

Website
Twitter @constancesayers
Facebook

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow


A Thousand Doors of January
Author:  Alix E. Harrow
Publisher:  Redhook, September 10, 2019
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  US$27.00 (print); US$ 9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780316421997(print); 9780316421980 (eBook)

Review - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E Harrow
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.



Melanie's Thoughts

Living as the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, January Scaller is as much of a rare curiosity as the many rare treasures that fill his mansion. January spends much of her life alone and lonely with her father off searching for new treasures for Mr. Locke and the New England Archaeological Society. When she finds a strange book that tells a story of mysterious doors that lead to dangerous and exotic places her life starts to change with every turn of the page.

I absolutely love The Thousand Doors of January. I was really very pleasantly surprised to discover that this was a debut novel. Harrow has crafted an excellent story within a story that carefully unfolds as January reads the book - The Ten Thousand Doors. It took me a while to realise what was happening and how the story is interwoven with January's life. I don't want to say too much and ruin the surprise.

In my opinion Harrow mastered the three essential components of a good book - characterisation, setting, and plot. I found January completely believable as the lonely young girl who wanders the halls of Locke's mansion desperate for her father's attention. Despite having a companion and a pet January is very much on her own and even more so when her father fails to return from one of his missions abroad. This 'aloneness' and loneliness is a prevalent theme throughout. Harrow uses multiple settings for her story - everywhere from a luxurious mansion, to a desolate farm in the midwest to a multitude of exotic and dangerous 'other' worlds. Harrow writing is descriptive enough that you can feel the hot wind on your cheek or smell the perfumed air yet she does this without being verbose. Now about the plot. As I mentioned earlier there is a story within a story and this is the same with the plot. There are two main dimensions to the plot - one is a love story or the search for love and the other is about overcoming the odds. I know this sounds very vague but I don't want to accidentally give anything away by describing too much of what happens.

The Thousand Doors of January is a great book that had me gripped from page 1 all the way to the end. It has easily made it into my top 5 books of the year....and the year isn't over yet. I am also pretty sure that it will make it into my top 20 fave books ever! All these accolades and Harrow is new author. Imagine what is going to come next for Harrow! I can hardly wait.

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January


Please welcome Alix E. Harrow to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was published on September 10, 2019 by Redhook.



Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January




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

Alix:  My mom had an MS DOS game where you could write and illustrate picture books (if anyone played this and remembers what it was called, @ me on Twitter, Google has failed me). When I was five or six I wrote a story about a little girl whose wicked mother tried to make her eat poison bread. It was titled, “The Poison Bread.” I peaked early.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Alix:  Like most writers, I’m actually a cobbled-together mess of strategies and schemes, most of which collapse at the first sign of any actual writing. I employ elaborate outlines, but I’ve recently admitted to myself that those outlines are almost always lies. They serve more as a very, very rough first draft than as a map.

In conclusion, I would like to phone a friend.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alix:  The crushing terror that each decent idea I have—each decent sentence I write—is the last one. That there is a finite number of good words assigned to each person and I used all mine up being funny on the groupchat with my brothers or sending overwrought emails to my college friends.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Alix:  Not be glib, but the answer is literally everything. Twitter threads and podcasts and talking about Twitter-threads and podcasts with my husband; good music and bad music and in-between music I can perfectly tune out to think about other things; paperback romances and my kid’s picture books and Spiderverse. Someone mentioned that my book reminded them of the movie The Journey of Natty Gann, and I realized in a single blinding flash that Natty Gann is a girl-and-her-dog-questing-across-historical-America-to-find-her-father story that deeply informed The Ten Thousand Doors.



TQDescribe The Ten Thousand Doors of January using only 5 words.

Alix:  Girl finds door; adventures ensue.



TQTell us something about The Ten Thousand Doors of January that is not found in the book description.

Alix:  There are a lot of footnotes, y’all. Like, from the book-flap you might go in thinking this is a fast-paced YA adventure full of hijinks and possibly sword-play, but I just want you to know that it shares more DNA with Jonathan Strange than with, say, Six of Crows.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Ten Thousand Doors of January?

Alix:  I started with a childhood love of portal fantasies and a lonely kid’s longing to find a door on the back acres of her Kentucky hayfield, and then waded into postcolonial theory. In grad school I studied race and empire in turn of the century British children’s literature, which meant I reevaluated a lot of my formative books and started to wonder what it would look like if I turned a portal fantasy inside out and backwards, and made it about homegoing rather than conquering some mythical, foreign land.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ten Thousand Doors of January? Why did you set the novel in the early 1900s?

Alix:  I’d argue the six years I spent getting an undergrad and then a graduate degree in history were the bulk of my research, although no number of degrees is going to fill in all the practical, mundane details you need to write a novel (like: where were the rural train stations located in 1911? How much was a laundry-worker paid per hour?). And no number of degrees is going to really, genuinely illuminate the lived experiences of people of color in the American past—that required a lot of extracurricular reading of memoirs and letters from women in similar circumstances to January.

And I chose the turn of the twentieth century because it was in many ways the peak of global imperialism. Because every empire believed in that moment their horizons would stretch on forever, that their suns would never set. One of the conceits in the book is that Doors introduce change and upheaval, and are the natural enemies of the status quo; I wanted to choose a historical moment where that effect was palpable.


TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  The Orbit/Redhook team very generously asked if I had any particular cover ideas, early on. I sent them a very excitable list of possibilities, which they wisely and humanely disposed of, before sending me Lisa Marie Pompilio’s brilliant cover. There wasn’t any back and forth or nit-picking or adjusting, because it was perfect and everyone knew it. She hadn’t captured anything actually, specifically from the story, but she’d captured the feeling—wonder and mystery and things waiting just out of sight.



TQIn The Ten Thousand Doors of January who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alix:  Every character was difficult to write, because characterization is the thing I’m worst at. It comes to me slowly, rising to the surface through a dozen drafts. (But the actual answer is: Adelaide was the easiest because she’s based on my own mom, and Samuel was the hardest because he’s based on my husband and therefore almost too good to be true).



TQDoes The Ten Thousand Doors of January touch on any social issues?

Alix:  I would argue that every novel--and every book, and every grocery list, probably--touches on social issues. Many people have said it better than me, but essentially: all stories are political, it’s just that some of their politics are so near the status-quo that some of us don’t notice them.

In conclusion: hell yes it touches on social issues.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Alix:  Weirdly, the line that’s stuck with me as the most practical and useful is: “Hearts aren’t chessboards and they don’t play by the rules.”



TQWhat's next?

Alix:  My next project is another standalone historical fantasy! This one is pitched as “suffragists, but witches,” set around the early American women’s movement except instead of fighting for the vote, they’re fighting for the return of women’s magic. It’s still in hideous, shambling draft-form right now, but it’s getting there!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alix:  Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure.





The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Redhook, September 10, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.





About Alix

Interview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Alix E. Harrow is a part-time historian with a full-time desk job, a lot of opinions, and excessive library fines. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Apex, and other venues. She and her husband live in Kentucky under the cheerful tyranny of their kids and pets. Find her at @AlixEHarrow on Twitter


Website  ~  Twitter @AlixEHarrow

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep


Please welcome H. G. Parry to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep was published on July 23, 2019 by Redhook.



Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep




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

H.G.:  It's a cliche, but I honestly don't remember not writing. I wrote stories all the way through primary school. My first "proper novel" I wrote in Intermediate, when I was twelve: it was about a group of explorers who find the lost city of Atlantis and rescue it from the grip of an immortal despot. It was really a short story, but it did have a talking robot cat, Magic that turned out to be Science, and a healthy paranoia about government, so I call it a win.



TQ:  Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

H.G.:  Hybrid, though I do outline a lot. I start with just writing down fragments, which are nearly always conversations between characters. Then I read back what the characters are saying, and work out the plot from there - it's often a matter of deciding what they want, what they'll do to get it, and what will hurt them the most! I won't usually get the whole plot from that, but I'll get enough to work with, and then when I get stuck I'll go back to what I've written, read over it again, and do a bit more outlining. It's all wildly out of order, of course, just to make things more fun.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

H.G.:  On a technical level, it's the opening sentences of books, chapters, and even paragraphs. I always end up plunging right into the middle, leaving some kind of note like "amazing opening goes here!!" Which of course means the last stage of every draft I've ever written is me scrolling through the book writing about fifty "amazing openings" in succession, which takes time, sighs, and multiple slices of cake.

On another level, it's the fact that whatever I try to write always feels just a little bit beyond my skill level at the time. And I don't think there's anything to be done about that except embrace it and keep growing.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

H.G.:  Honestly, just books of every kind, from Keats to Dickens to children's literature to 1960s Dr Strange comics. My academic background is in English Literature, and I love using writing as a way to explore existing stories and history.



TQDescribe The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep using only 5 words.

H.G.:  Reading books saves the world.



TQTell us something about The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep that is not found in the book description.

H.G.:  It's set in Wellington, New Zealand, where I live. I wanted to map the action very specifically on to real places I knew intimately, so that the effect of fictional characters intruding upon reality could be very distinct (if only to me!). I'm also really interested in the way Victorian literature in particular fits into colonised spaces like New Zealand - there's something about the image of Dickens in central Wellington that's more jarring than Dickens in modern London.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep? What appeals to you about writing Contemporary Fantasy?

H.G.:  I wanted to write a book that was a love letter to reading - all kinds of reading, but particularly literary criticism. I'm fascinated with the idea of reading as an act of interpretation - everyone who reads a book has their own version of that book. So I wrote a magic system where readers don't just read characters out of books, but their own versions of characters. The sibling rivalry aspect connected to that, because I wanted to link the way we read books and the way we read people. Just as we interpret books, we're constantly interpreting the people around us, and sometimes we see them the way we need to rather than the way they need to be seen.

As for contemporary fantasy - I love all kinds of fantasy, but there's something very attractive about the idea that magic is lurking just around the corner.



TQWhy did you choose Uriah Heep as your title character?

H.G.:  He actually wasn't the title character until very late in the day, after the book had already sold! But he was in the first chapter from the beginning. Once I'd decided that the book was going to centre largely around Dickens, Uriah Heep was the obvious antagonist - David Copperfield is based heavily on Dickens, so in Uriah Heep you have the nemesis of Dickens himself. He's also just a lot of fun - delightfully repulsive, yet intelligent and complex, and always understanding the parts of the main characters they least want people to see...



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep?

H.G.:  I cheated with this, because I deliberately wrote a book about everything I love and so I knew a lot already. I did go deeper into scholarship about Dickens, and specifically David Copperfield and Uriah Heep, than I've ever gone before, which was a pleasure. I watched a lot of classic novel adaptations to get a sense of different ways the characters can be interpreted, since the premise of the book is that each character is read and interpreted differently by different readers - but honestly I do that anyway. I was also lucky enough to revisit the Charles Dickens Museum in London while I was revising, which worked its way into the texture of the Street. It's an incredible place - like a time capsule in the middle of London.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep.

H.G.:  I love the cover! Lisa Marie Pompilio designed it, and it's bookish and atmospheric and Victorian yet still quirky. It went through a few different versions, and all were amazing, but this one captures the book perfectly. My favourite detail about it is that if you read the text on the page, it's from David Copperfield, and specifically the chapter toward the end of the book where David finds Uriah Heep in prison - as though Uriah Heep has escaped directly from book-prison out into the world. It's so subtle and clever.



TQ:  In The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

H.G.:  Dorian Gray was the easiest, probably, just because he's so much fun. I loved writing Millie too - I grew up reading Enid Blyton's various adventure series, and I loved playing with the trope of the girl detective (and that exaggerated old-fashioned British vernacular!). Nobody was really difficult, but Rob and Charley were complicated for different reasons: Charley because he's seen mostly through other people's eyes, so it was difficult to sift through that and see who he really is inside his own head; Rob because he's so reluctant to get involved with anything outside the norm that he risked missing out on most of the plot!



TQWhich question about The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

H.G.:  That’s a difficult one! Um… Who would you bring out of a book, and why? And the correct answer is Paddington Bear from Michael Bond’s books, because he would be delightful company and eat the marmalade I’ve had in my fridge for years and only get into sweet, well-meaning trouble. But in reality I’d probably accidentally read out Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle or Dracula or Keats or something and chaos would ensue.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep.

H.G.:  I think I'm the only one who laughs at my over-the-top descriptions of Dorian Gray, but I still laugh at: "His skin was polished ivory. His cheekbones were sharp enough to pose a flight risk. His eyes defied all metaphor. People who looked into them without fair warning tended only to report, incoherently, that they were blue."

Also, on one of the five Mr Darcys: "The poor thing was the victim of one of many readers convinced Darcy's haughtiness was the product of extreme shyness, and lived much of his life holed up in the study gripped with paranoia that the others were going to organise a dance."



TQWhat's next?

H.G.:  My next book, A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS, is coming out next year. It's an alternate history that tells the interconnected story of the French Revolution, the Haitian revolution, and the abolition of the British slave trade, but in a world where magic is strictly confined to the aristocracy. I’m editing that and drafting the sequel now – they’re bigger, darker, more research-heavy books than URIAH HEEP, and I’m both intimidated by them and love them very deeply.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

H.G.:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
Redhook, July 23, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.





About H.G. Parry

Interview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
H.G. Parry lives in a book-infested flat in Wellington, New Zealand, which she shares with her sister and two overactive rabbits. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, and teaches English, Film, and Media Studies. Her short fiction has appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and small press anthologies. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is her debut novel.







Website  ~ Twitter @hg_parry

Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood


Please welcome Rena Rossner to The Qwillery. The Sisters of the Winter Wood is now out in Trade Paperback from Redhook.



Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood




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

Rena:  I think I was in second grade, and it was a story about a bunny named Jenny LaHare. (There was also a real Jenny LaHare – a stuffed rabbit dressed in a pink flowered bonnet and dress and pinafore, who slept in my bed every night. I think I named her after my sister’s best friend Jen Levine…)



TQ Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rena:  I am a pantser and it is both a blessing and a curse. I am insanely jealous of authors who can plot out their novels – and authors who can plot in general. For me, my best work happens when I least expect it, and it is precisely when I decide exactly what will happen in a scene that my characters decide to do something completely different. But somehow, those are also the best moments – the places where magic happens. It’s really hard to trust yourself, to trust your subconscious, but it’s really what I’ve learned that I must do.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rena:  The most challenging thing for me about writing is plotting – I really love to let the story take me where it will, but that often means that my plots need work. I am much more invested in the lyricism of my sentences – the “prettiness” of the writing, than I am in the actual plot of the story, so I often have to force myself to focus, and that’s really hard. I also write really slowly, so I’m majorly envious of writers who can put down thousands of words in a session, while for me, every 100 words feel like a major victory.



TQDescribe The Sisters of the Winter Wood using only 5 words.

Rena:  A Jewish fairy tale about sisters. (That’s 5 if you don’t count the “A”!)



TQTell us something about The Sisters of the Winter Wood that is not found in the book description.

Rena:  There are moments when the forest comes alive, and also where things characters see in the woods are not exactly the reality. Those were some of the parts I enjoyed writing the most.



TQWhat appeals to you about writing Historical Fantasy?

Rena:  Two things: One, that it is a space where I can re-insert women into the story. Most of history has been written by men, and in seeking testimony and stories about what life was like in Dubossary (the town my mother’s father’s family came from, on the border of Moldova and Ukraine,) in the late 1800s and early 1900s, nearly all the stories I was able to find were either by men or about men. But I know that were women there, and I know that they had stories to tell, that some of them were certainly heroines in their own right. But their stories were lost to me – their stories are lost to us. One of the only ways that we can get those stories back (after doing copious amounts of research into what was, and what might have been,) is to imagine them. And secondly, fantasy is a place where we can rewrite history. It is only in fairy tales and fantasy where anything can happen – heroes can become villains and villains get the chance to redeem themselves. It’s a really important space, because it can help us make sense of our present, and find ways to make sure that if we are faced with a similar situation, we may have the tools or the power to make different choices – to ensure a different outcome.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Sisters of the Winter Wood?

Rena:  I didn’t know much about the history of the real town of Dubossary when I first started out. I was simply looking for a place to set my tale, and I decided to start reading some of my family’s genealogy books (which I had never read before.) I found a poem online that was part of the Dubossary Yizkor (Memorial) book that echoed some of Goblin Market, it mentioned that the town was full of orchards and vineyards, berries, grapes, pears, apples, and melons, and I knew where I had to set my book. I also discovered, via that Yizkor Book but also via family testimory, that the Jews from that town fought back and made sure that a pogrom didn’t happen there. But it didn’t last. Starting in September 1941, the Nazis came to Dubossary and forced 600 Jews into the main synagogue and burnt it to the ground, after which they systematically wiped out the entire Jewish population. Today, there are 18,000 Jews buried in mass graves in the forests surround the town and only about 100-150 Jews left from the town. It is a bittersweet tale, and I read many many words of testimony from survivors who grew up in Dubossary in order to be able to bring the story to life. I wanted to bring to life the shtetl as it was before tragedy befell the town, to tell a story of courage, resistance and resilience, not a tale of tragedy.



TQDo have a favorite folk or fairy tale?

Rena:  I think that GOBLIN MARKET is certainly my favorite fairy tale, which is why I spent so many years thinking about to write a re-telling. But I am also definitely partial to The Twelve Dancing Princesses – I once write a kind of twisted short story based on that tale…



TQ In The Sisters of the Winter Wood who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rena:  Liba was the easiest character for me to write, because she is the most like me. I struggled with Dovid the most. I wanted to strike the perfect balance between his naivete and his sweetness, but also to give him a backbone and to find a way for him to come into his own.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

Rena:

“She didn’t waste her time trying to smooth herself into something she wasn’t. She was powerful because she forged her own path.”


“If you want to know the history of a town, read the gravestones in its cemetery.”


“Sometimes even the smallest voice can have a big opinion.”


“That’s what the forest teaches you – change can come in the blink of an eye – the fall of one spark can mean total destruction.”


“Mami always says that fairy tales are real. With my head in my swan-mother’s lap,I start to believe – and I wonder which tale is ours.”



TQWhat's next?

Rena:  I’m working on another fairy tale retelling that will also be based on my family history but this time set in Romania - part Hansel and Gretel, part Boys with Golden Stars (a Romanian fairy tale,) and it features a girl who falls in love with a star. It’s another story about sisters, and it’s a story about how we tell stories, and how those stories change us.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!





The Sisters of Winter Wood
Redhook, June 18, 2019
Trade Paperback, 480 pages
Hardcover and eBook, September 25, 2018

Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood
Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner’s debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.

“With luscious and hypnotic prose, Rena Rossner tells a gripping, powerful story of family, sisterhood, and two young women trying to find their way in the world.” –Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles and Circe

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell – despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true…and could save them all.





About Rena

Interview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood
Photo by Tomer Rottenberg
Rena Rossner lives in Israel, where she works as a literary agent. All eight of her great grandparents immigrated to America to escape the pogroms, from towns like Dubossary and Kupel. It is their story, together with her love of Jewish mythology and fantasy, which inspired her to write The Sisters of the Winter Wood.








Website  ~  Twitter @renarossner

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Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017

This is going to be short WIR this week as I have been a been busy reading books I can't review....or at least not yet. The Qwillery is participating in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 3 and I am busy trying to find the next winner (I voted for the book that won the last SPFBO). I am also part of the beta review group for Michael Sullivan's third instalment of the Legend's of the First Empire Series - Age of War. It will be quite a while before I can tell you what I thought. So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
I discovered a great series of novellas from Claire North - The Gameshouse. Novella number 1 - The Serpent - is set in the 1700's in Venice and centers on Thene who was married off at the age of 15 to a drunken lout who gambles away her dowry. When she is forced to join her husband at the mysterious gambling house aptly named The Gameshouse she doesn't realise how much her life will change. The better you are at gaming the higher you rise in the leagues until you are playing a game far more sinister than you ever expected. Kings are toppled, wars are won and lives destroyed by the roll of the dice and all because of the Gameshouse.

No one really knows where the Gameshouse exists but it seems to exist outside of time and the games that are played are for higher stakes than a few coins. The way that North sets out her world inside the Gameshouse is very descriptive but she leaves enough to the readers imagination so that you can picture it in your mind. Not only is the plot compelling but the way in which North tells Thene's story is really unique. The reader is cast as an observer, following Thene throughout Vienna on her journey to win the game. Through the alleys and canals of Venice we follow Thene as she puts her pieces in play hoping that she has made the right choices. Finding out whether she wins is a nail biter. This is a fantastic read and very difficult to put down.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
Novella 2 is The Thief which it is set in the 1930's in Thailand. It starts again, in the Gameshouse where this time Remy Burke makes a dangerous gamble. He has to play a real life game of hide and seek. If he loses the game he loses all his memories so winning is the only option. From north to south and east to west Remy travels through Thailand trying not to get caught. Whether he wins or loses is for you to find out.

Yet again, another fantastic novella by North. Despite the fact that Remy was a bit of a drunken loser he still made you want to root for him and pray that he won the game. The Gameshouse seems even more sinister in this instalment than before and seems to take on a life of it's own. This is another great (and short) read. Don't miss out.


Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
Now, I feel I must apologise. I have had Urban Enemies for a few months now. It is an anthology of short stories all about the bad guys. Several popular authors contributed short stories of their favourite baddies that you love to hate including Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire and Kelly Armstrong. I have to admit I couldn't finish it! I have surprised even myself. I think the fact that Jim Butcher's contribution was the same one as in the anthology Dark and Stormy Knights (St. Martin's Griffin; July 2010) was a bit too disappointing and rather turned me off. I am not the biggest fan of short stories and when they all center around the antagonist I seemed to lose interest very quickly. Sorry!


That is it for me this week. I hope you have had productive weeks and I am looking forward to telling you about novella 3 of the Gameshouse series - The Master - next week. Until then Happy Reading!





The Serpent
The Gameshouse 1
Redhook, November 3, 2015
eBook, 100 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
In 17th Century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse.

There, fortunes are made and fortunes are broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun.

But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league . . . a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles.

Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman, who is about to play, may just exceed everyone's expectations.

Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules . . .



The Thief
The Gameshouse 2
Redhook, November 3, 2015
eBook, 100 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
The Gameshouse is an unusual institution.

Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost through games of chess, backgammon - every game under the sun.

But a select few, who are picked to compete in the higher league, know that some games are played for higher stakes - those of politics and empires, of economics and kings . . .

In 1930s Bangkok, one higher league player has just been challenged to a game of hide and seek. The board is all of Thailand - and the seeker may use any means possible to hunt down his quarry - be it police, government, strangers or even spies . . .





Urban Enemies
Edited by Joseph Nassise
Gallery Books, August 1, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017
Villains have all the fun—everyone knows that—and this anthology takes you on a wild ride through the dark side! The top villains from seventeen urban fantasy series get their own stories—including the baddies of New York Times bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, and Jonathan Maberry.

For every hero trying to save the world, there’s a villain trying to tear it all down.

In this can’t-miss anthology edited by Joseph Nassise (The Templar Chronicles), you get to plot world domination with the best of the evildoers we love to hate! This outstanding collection brings you stories told from the villains' point of view, imparting a fresh and unique take on the evil masterminds, wicked witches, and infernal personalities that skulk in the pages of today’s most popular series.

The full anthology features stories by Jim Butcher (the Dresden Files), Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville), Seanan McGuire (October Daye), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger), Lilith Saintcrow (Jill Kismet), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles), Domino Finn (Black Magic Outlaw), Steven Savile (Glasstown), Caitlin Kittredge (Hellhound Chronicles), Jeffrey Somers (The Ustari Cycle), Sam Witt (Pitchfork County), Craig Schaefer (Daniel Faust), Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire), Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock), and Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches).

Review: The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny


The Rule of Luck
Author:  Catherine Cerveny
Series:  Felicia Sevigny 1
Publisher:  Redhook, January 26, 2016
Format:  eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  US$2.99
ISBN:  9780316355506

Review: The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny
The Rule of Luck is a whirlwind thriller romance in a futuristic setting that will tug at your heartstrings while sending you on high-speed chases alongside a genetically-enhanced (and incredibly handsome...) criminal mastermind.
As a famed tarot card reader, all is well in luck and love for Felicia Sevigny, until Russian crime leader Alexei Petriv walks into her shop and demands a reading.

Petriv's future looks dark and full of danger, which wouldn't be Felicia's problem, except that it's also aligned with hers. Felicia discovers she is the key pawn in Petriv's plot to overthrow the all-knowing government, and she must decide if she will trust with him with her heart, body and soul, before the future of the entire human race collapses around her.


Qwill's Thoughts

The Rule of Luck is Catherine Cerveny's debut novel. You can tell that Cerveny has spent a lot of time thinking about and creating her future Earth. The wordlbuilding is exceptional and is not bogged down by minutiae. Cerveny gives you everything you need to understand why this future Earth is the way it is and it's fascinating.

I truly enjoyed the two main characters Felicia Sevigny and Alexei Petriv. The are both interesting and flawed. They make a wonderful, if not expected, couple. Felicia is a Tarot Card reader who really can read the cards and give advice to her clientele. Cerveny also provides insight into the Tarot and the way the cards are read that helps the reader get into the mind of Felicia. Alexei is the heir apparent to the Russian criminal enterprise that exists on Earth. He is somewhat rigid and very in control. He has his weak spots though. Their relationship starts as a professional one and progresses to more. It's not an easy road for either of them, with both of them questioning everything. Their relationship builds slowly with some difficult bumps along the way. Both Felicia and Alexei grow emotionally over the course of the novel and you can't but hope they will somehow end up together.

In addition to being a romance, The Rule of Luck deals with issues of what happens after the Earth faces catastrophic natural disasters. How do you provide resources and not overwhelm the planet? There are also issues of posthumanism, ethical and not-so-ethical science, population control, cutting edge science, and more. This is a novel with depth and gives you much to think about while being a really engaging and exciting read.

Cerveny has deftly blended Science Fiction and Romance. The writing is crisp and the novel flows beautifully. There is plenty of action and thrills as Felicia gets drawn deeper into Alexei's plans. The Rule of Luck is a compelling read with engaging characters, a terrific story and a somewhat frightening portrayal of future Earth.

Interview with Catherine Cerveny, author of The Rule of Luck


Please welcome Catherine Cerveny to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Rule of Luck was published on January 26th by Redhook.



Interview with Catherine Cerveny, author of The Rule of Luck




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

Catherine:  Hi and thanks for having me. I probably started writing stories when I was around 13 or 14 years old, about the time I realized I could write down words on a page and have them form a sentence that sounded half-way interesting. I'd always loved reading, the more fantastic the story, the better. And because I loved the story and didn't want it to end, I'd wonder happened to the characters when the story was over. What were they doing next after I'd closed the book? I'd start to devise elaborate plots in my head, imagining what they might be up to and the sorts of adventures they might have. Eventually I realized I wanted to write my own stories, with my own characters, and send them on adventures rather than having someone else do it for me.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Catherine:  I'm a panster who forced myself to become a plotter, but who still has strong panster-like tendencies. I find that if I don't have an outline and plot exactly what I'm doing ahead of time, my story tends to get away from me. It will veer off in some direction it had no business going to in the first place. I like to know exactly where I'm going, how I'm going to get there, what's going to happen at the end, and did I bring enough snacks for the trip. This isn't to say the outline doesn't get re-written at least a dozen times, and plot-points don't have fifteen different sub-sections because I've thought of something cool along the way I want to do instead. It's just that if I don't know how it's going to end, I'm not sure how I'm going to get there.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Catherine:  I think the most challenging thing is realizing I can't tell the reader everything on the first page. Obviously I know the whole story, and I want to tell the reader everything that's going to happen, but I can't blurt it out all at once. It would ruin the whole story.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Catherine:  My list of influences is really too long to mention. It's like everything I've ever seen or read is in my head, waiting to come out in some form or another, all synthesized together into some new, amazing hybrid. I could say the Bible stories I heard as a child, to Star Wars, to the endless action movies my husband makes me see. I love reading hard science fiction, but I love reading chick-lit as well. I'm also a sucker for a good romance. Some of my favorite writers are Kim Stanley Robinson, Hannu Rajaniemi, Sylvia Day, Christina Lauren, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Neil Gaiman, Sophie Kinsella, and Marian Keyes. I'm really all over the place.



TQDescribe The Rule of Luck in 140 characters or less.

Catherine:  A Tarot card reader living in a post-singularity world is made an offer that she can't refuse.



TQTell us something about The Rule of Luck that is not found in the book description.

Catherine:  In a world where genetic enhancements are the norm, Felicia is one of the few people alive without any genetic modifications. In some ways, it's a handicap to her. In others, she definitely knows how to use it to her advantage.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Rule of Luck? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction Romance?

Catherine:  I've always been interested in the idea of being able to predict the future with Tarot cards, astrological signs, prophecies, and the like. Most people believe it's a lot of nonsense and science scoffs in the face of these things. So I wanted to take a character whose entire life was based around the Tarot, mysticism, predicting the future etc. and put her in a post-singularity science fiction world with a character who was her exact opposite. One character represents a sort of spiritual, mystical side and the other represents pure science, and I wanted to see what I could do with them. As for writing Science Fiction Romance, I like the idea of pairing concepts that are traditionally science fiction while exploring personal relationships at the same time. It just makes the story more exciting and I can care more about what's happening when there's some sort of relationship at stake. I also like the idea that in the future, people will still care about each other and we won't be isolated entities, alone in our houses, all wired in, with no human contact. That' really sad to me. Plus, I can't help but like the action and adventure angle. It gives the characters something exciting to do while they're falling in love, like fight against an all-knowing government, while at the same time ratcheting up the stakes for the couple.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Rule of Luck?

Catherine:  I did a lot of research into Tarot cards, and went to more psychic fairs than I care to remember. I also did a fair amount of research into genetics, planet terraforming, global disasters, space travel, what living in a post-singularity society might be like for humanity, and the Russian mafia. There was so much world-building that had to be done to lay the groundwork for this story, it felt like I was reading a little bit of everything. I wanted to make the world feel real and logical, and as I researched, I realized there was so much I didn't know and had to learn. Obviously, I have absolutely no idea where society will be 800 to 1000 years from now, but it was fun to guess and build it from scratch.



TQ Does Felicia Sevigny have a favorite tarot deck?

Catherine:  Given what I know of Felicia (and I have to say I do know her), she'd like something flashy with images as vivid and colorful as possible. Obviously her favorite deck would be the one she inherited from her great grandmother, but she'll also use whatever's available.



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

Catherine:  Felicia was probably the easiest character to write since she was basically living in my head 24/7, telling me what to do. Alexei was probably one of the more difficult ones as I kept worrying if I was going in the right direction with his character. I mean, hey, he's a criminal mastermind. I am not. I kept thinking, "What would a criminal mastermind do next? How would he behave in this situation? What's the line between being evil and redeemable?" That made it challenging.



TQWhich question about The Rule of Luck do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Catherine:  One thing I wish someone would ask is why did I decide to set part of the novel in Brazil and part in Kenya? I love to travel and those are both countries I hope to visit someday. I almost went to Brazil a few years ago but the trip was canceled at the last minute. To make up for it, I decided if I couldn't go, Felicia would.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Rule of Luck.

Catherine

He was still looking at me. I mean, really looking. Looking at me the way a man did when he wondered how a woman looked naked or was considering ways to get her naked. I wondered if he was thinking about the Lovers. Or maybe I was the one thinking that. My throat went dry. I hadn't been studied like that in a long time and it felt better than it should.



TQWhat's next?

Catherine:  Now, I'm working on The Chaos of Luck, the sequel to The Rule of Luck. It's set five months after the events in the first novel and I have to say, it's been a lot of fun to spend extra time with these characters.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Catherine:  No problem! This has been great.





The Rule of Luck
A Felicia Sevigny Novel 1
Redhook, January 26, 2016
eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Catherine Cerveny, author of The Rule of Luck
The Rule of Luck is a whirlwind thriller romance in a futuristic setting that will tug at your heartstrings while sending you on high-speed chases alongside a genetically-enhanced (and incredibly handsome...) criminal mastermind.
As a famed tarot card reader, all is well in luck and love for Felicia Sevigny, until Russian crime leader Alexei Petriv walks into her shop and demands a reading.

Petriv's future looks dark and full of danger, which wouldn't be Felicia's problem, except that it's also aligned with hers. Felicia discovers she is the key pawn in Petriv's plot to overthrow the all-knowing government, and she must decide if she will trust with him with her heart, body and soul, before the future of the entire human race collapses around her.





About Catherine

Interview with Catherine Cerveny, author of The Rule of Luck
Photo by Ash Nayler Photography
Catherine Cerveny was born in Peterborough, Ontario. She'd always planned to move away to the big city but the small town life got its hooks in her and that's where she still resides today. Catherine is a huge fan of romance and science fiction and wishes the two genres would cross paths more often. The Rule of Luck is her first novel.










Website  ~  Twitter @catcerveny



2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny


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


Catherine Cerveny

The Rule of Luck
A Felicia Sevigny Novel 1
Redhook, January 26, 2016
eBook, 384 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny
The Rule of Luck is a whirlwind thriller romance in a futuristic setting that will tug at your heartstrings while sending you on high-speed chases alongside a genetically-enhanced (and incredibly handsome...) criminal mastermind.
As a famed tarot card reader, all is well in luck and love for Felicia Sevigny, until Russian crime leader Alexei Petriv walks into her shop and demands a reading.

Petriv's future looks dark and full of danger, which wouldn't be Felicia's problem, except that it's also aligned with hers. Felicia discovers she is the key pawn in Petriv's plot to overthrow the all-knowing government, and she must decide if she will trust with him with her heart, body and soul, before the future of the entire human race collapses around her.

Interview with Marissa Levien, author of The World Gives WayInterview with Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in TimeReview - The Thousand Doors of January by Alix. E HarrowInterview with Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryInterview with H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah HeepInterview with Rena Rossner, author of The Sisters of the Winter WoodMelanie's Week in Review - August 6, 2017Review: The Rule of Luck by Catherine CervenyInterview with Catherine Cerveny, author of The Rule of Luck2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny

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