Saturday, June 25, 2016

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June Winner

The winner of the June 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl from Viking with 29% of all votes.

A Hundred Thousand Worlds
Viking, June 28, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

“A Kavalier & Clay for the Comic-Con Age, this is a bighearted, inventive, exuberant debut.” —Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
Valerie Torrey took her son, Alex, and fled Los Angeles six years ago—leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.

As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars, from a hapless twentysomething illustrator to a brilliant corporate comics writer stuggling with her industry’s old-school ways to a group of cosplay women who provide a chorus of knowing commentary. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined.

A knowing and affectionate portrait of the geeky pleasures of fandom, A Hundred Thousand Worlds is also a tribute to the fierce and complicated love between a mother and son—and to the way the stories we create come to shape us.

The Results

The June 2016 Debut Covers

Friday, June 24, 2016

Interview with Christopher Husberg, author of Duskfall

Please welcome Christopher Husberg to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Duskfall was published on June 21st by Titan Books.

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

Christopher:  Well I can answer that in a few different ways, but the most relevant seems to be THE WOMB. Just kidding, obvies. A huge catalyst for my writing career came in the seventh grade when I started writing fan fiction for Final Fantasy VII. [Nerd Alert!] FFVII was one of those things that left a hole in my heart when I finished it (that’s the best kind of thing, by the way). I filled that void by reading all the fan fiction I could get my hands on (I still remember printing off hundreds of pages of FFVII fan fic parents were not happy about that), and, of course, attempting to write some of my own. In a lot of ways, attempting to tell those stories about Cloud, Aeris, and Sephiroth is what solidified my conviction to one day write stories of my own. (Also I’m totally pumped for the FFVII reboot!)

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Christopher:  I used to say that I was pretty much a straight-up pantser, and while that's still mostly true for my stand-alone stories and first novels in a series, my experience writing CQ2 has told me that I'm a bit more of a hybrid than I realize. Most of my formal outlining still takes place after my first draft, but I’ve begun to use it more and more as a tool to make sure I’m hitting the emotional beats I want each character to experience in the right order, at the right time, etc. Turns out I’m definitely not smart enough to hope that those things just happen as I’m writing a five-book series!

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Christopher:  Right now, it’s definitely writing sequels. All of the writing workshops and classes I’ve taken have focused on writing first and/or standalone novels and stories--none of them ever mentioned writing sequels. Nobody told me how difficult and how different it would be from writing a first entry in a series! I’m more boxed in with characters and plot points, and, as I mentioned earlier, outlining has become a pretty important facet of my process in overcoming that difficulty.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Christopher:  Yikes. A lot of stuff! I feel like I’m always drawing influence from movies, television shows, books, music, and the world around me in general. That said, I can definitely speak to a few things that have heavily influenced my craft and how I approach the writer’s life. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield has probably been the most important--it’s a fantastic treatise on what it means to be a professional. I’ve had the privilege of taking fiction writing classes from Brandon Sanderson, and he taught me a lot about the industry and the world of SFF writing, and also introduced me to the phenomenal podcast Writing Excuses. Stephen King’s book On Writing is one of the few “how-to” writing books that I genuinely appreciate, mainly because it endeavors to not be prescriptive. And I’m always on the lookout for more books, podcasts, Youtube channels, etc. that will help me become a better writer!

TQDescribe Duskfall (Chaos Queen 1) in 140 characters or less.

Christopher:  An amnesiac assassin, a woman with an addiction to magic, and a priestess caught between faith & family converge. Dark epic fantasy ensues.

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

Christopher:  It has vampires--of the legit variety, who murder folks! Well, a vampire, anyway, although I can say for a certainty that you’ll see a few more as the series progresses. I’m always a fan of vampires who murder folks and drink actual blood and such, so I couldn’t help but include one in my first novel.

TQWhat inspired you to write Duskfall? What appeals to you about writing Dark Epic Fantasy?

Christopher:  The characters. Knot and Cinzia were the first characters I wrote the story around, but Winter soon came out of the woodwork as one of the most important characters in the entire series. Each of the three main characters spoke to me in different ways, and their stories are the reason I’m writing this series. I want their stories to be told!

As far as Dark Epic Fantasy goes, I have to admit the surface level things are fun--higher body counts, more on-screen gore, etc. But what really draws me to the genre is the moral ambiguity, the extremely flawed heroes and the redeemable villains, and the horror elements woven throughout. Exploring the dark, confronting it and processing it through writing and reading, makes the light that much more powerful for me.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Duskfall?

Christopher:  Boats boats boats! Namely sailboats and fishing boats and how they work, who crews them, etc. I did quite a bit of research on telekenisis and telepathy (Can you call that research? Pararesearch, maybe? Yeah, that sounds cool.), which influenced the central magic system. I also did a fair share of medical research, mostly into how certain injuries affect (and sometimes kill) people, and what medieval ways there are of treating those injuries.

Fun fact: I get pretty queasy when I’m thinking about my own blood, and while I did all of that medical research and applied it to certain scenes in my book, I did a lot of thinking about my own blood. When I block a scene, even a violent scene, I usually imagine myself in that scene and...yeah. I had to stop writing/blocking certain scenes more than once while working on Duskfall because I was about to either faint or vomit. So, basically, I grossed myself out multiple times. Also, I’m apparently a total poltroon when it comes to that stuff!

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

Christopher:  Astrid, a young girl who shows up partway through the novel, was the easiest. Sometimes characters are so easy to write that they almost take over the story, and that was the case with Astrid. She’s sarcastic, quippy, and is capable of surprising violence, and all of that makes for a pretty easy character to write.

On the other hand sometimes, despite being difficult to write, the story that a certain character has to tell is so important that they take over a whole novel (or series, in this case), and that was the case with Winter. Knot was the original central character of the novel and series, but as I wrote the first draft of Duskfall years ago, I began to see that, while Knot certainly plays an important part, everything was really revolving around Winter. Winter is difficult to write because her story has such significance (in my eyes, anyway) that, I think, it’s just intimidating to approach as a writer. But on a more base level she is also just...solemn. She sees the world through weary eyes, and getting that tone right without making her sound indifferent or boring was tough for me. Still is, even in the later books in the series.

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

Christopher:  Well, now I’ve got “Issues (Think About It)” by Flight of the Conchords stuck in my head, and that’s awesome.

I do include social issues in my writing, though. Definitely. At least the way I see it, social issues are inherent to human experience. Whether we like to admit it or not, I think we’re all confronted with social issues every day. Some of have very strong stances on those issues, while others don’t want to hear about them. As a writer, I’m not in the business of preaching, I’m in the business of telling stories, but by telling stories, if I can help someone experience another perspective, something they’ve never considered or never been able to see before, then I think I’ve succeeded on some level. And one of the great privileges of writing stories is the opportunity to learn about and research perspectives and experiences that are different from my own. It’s a fine line to walk, in a lot of ways, but it is also just completely part of what I do.

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

Christopher:  Ha! You know it seems I think of dozens of these questions when no one is asking them, and then when someone gives me the opportunity to talk about them I can hardly think of any!

That said, one question that comes to mind that no one has really asked yet is “Did you have the ending of Duskfall in mind all along?” The answer is actually yes and no. One of the things I love about being a discovery writer (pantser) is the sense of organic freedom I have when I’m writing. I definitely had a pretty clear idea of what the ending of Duskfall was going to look like...until I actually started writing the book. The more I wrote, the more my idea of the ending changed, until it became something pretty different from what I’d originally had in mind--and, in my opinion, much better! Call it my muse, call it my subconscious, call it whatever you want, but it’s pretty amazing how that kind of thing develops consistently in my writing without me even expressly looking for it.

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


“There are daemons even daemons fear.” This quote comes up a few times in the book. I won’t go too much into it in the spirit of non-spoilerism, but it’s sort of the “there’s always a bigger fish” concept. But, you know, with demons.

“I know that I can kill a man with anything you can think of. Give me a sword or give me a spoon, and I’ll give you a dead man.” I won’t tell you who’s speaking there, because it’s a minor spoiler (you know, I’ve read the book so many times that it’s getting hard for me to tell what might be a spoiler for a reader and what wouldn’t--I have to be careful!), but the idea of someone who has been trained to kill in any situation, with any tool available, definitely intrigues me and heavily influenced one of the characters in Duskfall.

TQWhat's next?

Christopher:  Well, right now I’m hard at work revising book two of the Chaos Queen Quintet--and, fortunately, it looks like the CQQ will be taking up a lot of my time over the next few years :-). That said, I’ve got a few side projects that take place in the CQ ‘verse, but aren’t exactly part of the Quintet, that I hope eventually see the light of day. One is an ancient history, a few others address how the events of Duskfall (particularly the ending) affect other parts of the world. I have a lot of stories I eventually want to tell in that setting!

I also have a YA series in the works, but that might be a few years down the road, so I’ll keep my lips sealed(ish) about that for now :-).

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Christopher:  Thank you for having me! It’s been a pleasure.

Chaos Queen Quintet 1
Titan Books, June 21, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Pulled from a frozen sea, pierced by arrows and close to death, Knot has no memory of who he was. But his dreams are dark, filled with violence and unknown faces. Winter, a tiellan woman whose people have long been oppressed by humans, is married to and abandoned by Knot on the same day. In her search for him, she will discover her control of magic, but risk losing herself utterly. And Cinzia, priestess and true believer, returns home to discover her family at the heart of a heretical rebellion. A rebellion that only the Inquisition can crush…

Their fates and those of others will intertwine, in a land where magic and daemons are believed dead, but dark forces still vie for power.

About Christopher

Christopher Husberg was born in Alaska and studied at Brigham Young University, where he went on to teach creative writing. His short story collection Look Me in the Stars received an honourable mention in the 2013 Utah Original Writing Competition. He lives with his wife in Lehi, Utah.

Website  ~  Blog

Twitter @usbergo  ~  Facebook

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

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

Ezekiel Boone

The Hatching
The Hatching Series 1
Atria/Emily Bestler Book, July 5, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

“An apocalyptic extravaganza of doom and heroism…addictive.” —Publishers Weekly

“It’s been too long since someone reminded us that spiders are not just to be feared, but also may well spell doom for mankind. Fortunately, Ezekiel Boone has upped the ante on arachnophobia. This is a fresh take on classic horror, thoroughly enjoyable and guaranteed to leave your skin crawling.” —Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Wish Me Dead

An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut novel about the emergence of an ancient species, dormant for over a thousand years, and now on the march.

Deep in the jungle of Peru, where so much remains unknown, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist whole. Thousands of miles away, an FBI agent investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Kanpur, India earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. During the same week, the Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. As these incidents begin to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at a Washington, D.C. laboratory. Something wants out.

The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Interview with Rachel Dunne, author of In the Shadow of the Gods

Please welcome Rachel Dunne to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. In the Shadow of the Gods was published on June 21st by Harper Voyager.

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

Rachel:  I’ve been writing since I was a kid, always telling or scribbling down stories. I never really had a choice in being a writer—it’s just been something I’ve needed to do, and something that makes me incredibly happy.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rachel:  I’m a hybrid, only because I realized with this book that my usual pantsing wasn’t going to work. I outline chapters, give myself a concrete starting or ending point for each chapter, and then let the whole journey and all the details emerge as I’m writing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rachel:  Not writing ahead in my mind! I’m constantly thinking through plot points and events, and a lot of times I’ll find myself writing whole scenes in my head—which sounds great, except that it triggers my brain to think I’ve already written that scene, so when I have to go actually write the words down, writing the scene feels almost boring. As much as I can, I’ve trained myself to stop mentally writing ahead; now, if I get a great scene idea or an awesome line, I write it down quick and then force myself to stop thinking about it until I can actually dedicate some real time to writing. Usually, the few jotted lines are enough to kick my brain back into the mindset that triggered the thought, and I can write the full scene without it feeling like a chore.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Rachel:  Reading, of course—I’ve been an obsessive reader all my life, and I’m constantly reading anything and everything. I think most stories are a mishmash of ideas pulled from other stories, bits and pieces rearranged in new and interesting ways. It’s wonderful to be reading something completely out of the norm for me, like mysteries or mindless celebrity gossip, and to find a piece of that—some twist or a quote or a tertiary character—that just clicks, and suddenly becomes a potential plot piece for my gritty epic fantasy. It feels like its own kind of magic.

TQDescribe In the Shadow of the Gods in 140 characters or less.

Rachel:  Twins are creepy!

No wait, let me try again: When the gods make war, people become the pawns—but pawns don’t always move in ways you’d expect. The pawns can have minds of their own...

TQTell us something about In the Shadow of the Gods that is not found in the book description.

Rachel:  There’s a lot of struggling with identity for the various characters, with the idea of fate—is it possible to escape your past, to become someone different than the person everyone else thinks you are? All of the point of view characters struggle with this at some point during the book, if not throughout, and this (hopefully!) adds a layer of depth and realism.

TQWhat inspired you to write In the Shadow of the Gods? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy in particular Dark Fantasy?

Rachel:  Fantasy has always been my favorite genre. I’ve spent most of my life devouring fantasy books, so writing my own was a no-brainer. I love the grittiness in dark fantasy, the way you can turn old tropes on their heads to make something fresh…but I also love the beautiful, lyrical language and introspection you can find in high fantasy. I wanted to bring those two ends of the fantasy spectrum together, and In the Shadow of the Gods is the result of that: something both gritty and beautiful.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for In the Shadow of the Gods?

Rachel:  I had to do some research on deserts for one of the sequences in the book, and even though the desert is only a setting for a handful of pages, I got really into that research. In general, settings are what I do most of my research on—I want all of my settings to feel real, and that starts with at least getting the basics right. I also did a fair amount of research on eye wounds—not a fun time, since eyes make me pretty squeamish.

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

Rachel:  Scal is definitely the easiest—out of all the point-of-view characters, he’s the one that’s been lurking in my mind for the longest, so I feel like I know him best. His chapters just flow Plus, his voice is just plain fun to write. Joros is probably the hardest to write, because he’s a very different character than the other three points of view—Scal, Rora, and Keiro are all generally good people trying to do the right thing, but Joros…is kind of a bastard. He doesn’t have that nice, do-good core to him, so I need a totally different mindset when writing him.

TQWhich question about In the Shadow of the Gods do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Rachel:  “How do you deal with having multiple point of view characters?” The key is in the voice—my goal from the start was to make each of my characters sound different and distinct, so that even without any name cues the reader would be able to tell whose chapter they were reading within the first few sentences. I played around with so many styles before settling on the current four voices, and that in itself was a ton of fun.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from In the Shadow of the Gods.


“The words were trapped in him. Hard in his throat. So many things in all his lives he had never said. Too late, now. Always too late. There was a breaking here. A fracture in a slab of ice, spidering slowly but unstoppably outwards. There was an ending waiting for him, somewhere.”


“It was much like how he imagined things would be if he returned to his family’s home. Disgust and disappointment from both sides, and an excess of sullen glares. At least in the villages, Joros wasn’t causing his sisters to cry.”

TQWhat's next?

Rachel:  I recently turned in the manuscript for the sequel, so I’ll be working with my editor on that over the next few months. At the same time, I’ll be writing the third and final book in the series, which is both exciting and terrifying!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rachel:  Thanks so much for having me!

In the Shadow of the Gods
A Bound Gods Novel 1
Harper Voyager, June 21, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook 400 pages

A breathtaking talent makes her debut with this first book in a dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a mismatched band of mortals led by a violent, secretive man must stand against a pair of resentful gods to save their world.

Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the Twins grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked until now.

Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—to set off a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it.

When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious. Joros, a mysterious and cunning priest, has devised a dangerous plan to win. Over eight years, he gathers a team of disparate fighters—Scal, a lost and damaged swordsman from the North; Vatri, a scarred priestess who claims to see the future in her fires; Anddyr, a drug-addled mage wandering between sanity and madness; and Rora and Aro, a pair of twins who have secretly survived beyond the reach of the law.

These warriors must learn to stand together against the unfathomable power of vengeful gods, to stop them from tearing down the sun . . . and plunging their world into darkness.

About Rachel

Photo © Knotted Tree Photography
Living in the cold reaches of the upper Midwest with her great beast of a dog, Rachel Dunne has developed a great fondness for indoor activities. For as long as snow continues falling in Wisconsin, she promises to stay inside and keep writing.

Her first novel, In the Shadow of the Gods, was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and will be published by Harper Voyager in June of 2016. Its two sequels will follow.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @RachelKDunne

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

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

David D. Levine

Arabella of Mars
The Adventures of Arabella Ashby 1
Tor Books, July 12, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!