Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 DAC Cover Wars - September Winner


The winner of the September 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp from Orbit with 37% of all votes.



The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Orbit, September 13, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

"Ingenious and funny . . . Magnificent." -- Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen and V for Vendetta

Jack Sparks died while writing this book.

It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed.

Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed -- until now.




The Results





The September 2016 Debut Covers


Saturday, September 24, 2016

BLACK PANTHER by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Brian Stelfreeze is #1!

PRESS RELEASE

BLACK PANTHER by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Brian Stelfreeze is #1!
The Bestselling Series is Now a Bestselling Collection

New York, NY—September 23rd, 2016 — A new era has begun for the Black Panther – and the critics are hailing it as a hit! Now, the series that’s being called “important” (The Daily Beast), “the year’s biggest comic news” (Vulture) and “the best reason in years to start reading comics” (GQ) is being collected for the first time! BLACK PANTHER: A NATION UNDER OUR FEET BOOK ONE – the thrilling new series from MacArthur Genius and National Book Award Winner Ta-Nehisi Coates and acclaimed artist Brian Stelfreeze is available now wherever comics or books are sold!


Marvel is proud to announce that the recently released collection has debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List, reached #1 on Nielsen BookScan and Amazon and continues to burn up the charts of Diamond Comic Distributors! If you haven’t read the series that everyone is talking about, now is the perfect chance to get caught up! This exciting volume collects Black Panther #1 - #4 along with a reprinting of the Panther’s very first appearance! Don’t miss BLACK PANTHER: A NATION UNDER OUR FEET BOOK ONE – available now!

BLACK PANTHER: A NATION UNDER OUR FEET BOOK ONE
Written by TA-NEHISI COATES
Art & Cover by BRIAN STELFREEZE
On-Sale Now!




To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook.

About Marvel: Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit www.marvel.com © MARVEL 2016

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Apothecary's Curse by Barbara Barnett




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



Barbara Barnett

The Apothecary's Curse
Pyr, October 11, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 340 pages

In Victorian London, the fates of physician Simon Bell and apothecary Gaelan Erceldoune entwine when Simon gives his wife an elixir created by Gaelan from an ancient manuscript. Meant to cure her cancer, it kills her. Suicidal, Simon swallows the remainder—only to find he cannot die. Five years later, hearing rumors of a Bedlam inmate with regenerative powers like his own, Simon is shocked to discover it’s Gaelan. The two men conceal their immortality, but the only hope of reversing their condition rests with Gaelan’s missing manuscript.

When modern-day pharmaceutical company Genomics unearths diaries describing the torture of Bedlam inmates, the company’s scientists suspect a link between Gaelan and an unnamed inmate. Gaelan and Genomics geneticist Anne Shawe are powerfully drawn to each other, and her family connection to his manuscript leads to a stunning revelation. Will it bring ruin or redemption?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Guest Blog by Jessica Estevao and Review and Giveaway of Whispers Beyond the Veil


Please welcome Jessica Estevao to The Qwillery. Whispers Beyond the Veil, the first Change of Fortune Mystery, was published on September 6th by Berkley.







Don’t you just love serendipity?

Several years ago my husband and I were looking for a summer place near the water. I had no idea that our search would lead to a new series and a love of historical mystery writing. After looking at places all over the state of Maine we found the perfect spot in Old Orchard Beach. We spent that first summer renovating the house and basking on the beach. By the end of the first month we were utterly charmed.

After all, what’s not to love about seven miles of sandy beach and the last remaining seaside amusement park in New England? But while the kids were building sand castles and perfecting their body surfing technique, I found myself visiting the Harmon Historical Museum and buying antique post cards at Cottage Decor. Slowly, but surely, the history of Old Orchard worked its way into my affections and on my imagination.

I was intrigued to discover our property used to be part of a Methodist campground. While it now has different owners, the natural amphitheater they used for sermons and speakers is still in operation just up the street from our house.

I learned about the different incarnations the town had experienced. In the Victorian era it hosted wealthy families for the entire season at the grand hotels like The Hotel Velvet as well as day-tripping mill girls from neighboring Biddeford.

By the early 1900s Grand Beach was popular with early auto racers as well as pioneering pilots attempting the first trans-continental flights. A few years later the big band era and dance marathons drew the crowds. Soldiers returning from WWII brought their families in droves throughout the middle of the twentieth century.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that all that information would work its magic on the story-telling part of my brain. Before I knew it, I started imagining the buildings and vehicles and amusements from the past still lining the streets. Then, of course, the buildings filled with imaginary people with all their intrigues and peculiarities.

Before long, the influence of Old Orchard had concocted Ruby Proulx, the protagonist for my latest book, Whispers Beyond the Veil. The Gilded Age hotel where she lives and works, her friends and family all invented themselves as I walked along the sand or imagined a trolley car trundling down the street beside me as I strolled to the shops. Reasons for murder and mayhem swooped into my brain like marauding seagulls making a play for picnic lunches.

Just like that, an historical mystery had snuck up on me. I had never intended to turn my hand to historical writing but thanks to a little serendipity it had.





Whispers Beyond the Veil
Author:  Jessica Estevao
Series:  A Change of Fortune Mystery 1
Publisher:  Berkley, September 6, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  US$15.00 (print); US$11.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425281604 (print); 9780698197152 (eBook)

First in a dazzling new historical mystery series featuring Ruby Proulx, a psychic with a questionable past who suddenly finds her future most uncertain…

Canada, 1898. The only life Ruby Proulx has ever known is that of a nomad, traveling across the country with her snake-oil salesman father. She dreams of taking root somewhere, someday, but, until she can, she makes her way by reading tarot cards. Yet she never imagined her own life would take such a turn…

After one of her father’s medical “miracles” goes deadly wrong, Ruby evades authorities by hiding in the seaside resort town of Old Orchard, Maine, where her estranged aunt, Honoria, owns the Hotel Belden, a unique residence that caters to Spiritualists—a place where Ruby should be safe as long as she can keep her dark secret hidden.

But Ruby’s plan begins to crumble after a psychic investigator checks into the hotel and senses Ruby is hiding more than she’s letting on. Now Ruby must do what she can to escape both his attention and Aunt Honoria’s insistence that she has a true gift, before she loses her precious new home and family forever…



Qwill's Thoughts

Whispers Beyond the Veil is a lovely historical mystery set primarily in Orchard Beach, Maine during the the late 1890s. It was an era of Spiritualism - mediums, seances, tarot cards, and much more.

Ruby Proulx grew up traveling around and appearing in medicine shows with her unscrupulous father who raised her after her mother died in childbirth. The beginning of the novel gives details of this life and a catastrophic event which forces Ruby and her father to separate. Ruby heads to Orchard Beach to her only remaining family - her mother's sister Honoria Belden.

Orchard Beach is a popular seaside resort town and will become even more so when the new pier is finished. It will be the largest pleasure pier in the world. The construction of the pier has attracted crowds to Orchard Beach and its hotels as well as an influx of pickpockets that prey on unsuspecting tourists. As soon as Ruby arrives in Orchard Beach she is accosted by a pickpocket. Not an auspicious beginning to what she hopes will be her new life with her Aunt Honoria.

Honoria Belden owns the Belden Hotel and is thrilled that Ruby has found her way to Orchard Beach. In order to compete with the larger and more luxurious hotels, the Hotel Belden is the place to go in Orchard Beach for the summer season if you are a Spiritualist. Honoria has hired experts in many spiritual disciplines. The Hotel is fully booked and Honoria needs this season to be a huge success or she will lose the Hotel that her family founded. The experts and guests begin to arrive. When the medium that Honoria has booked cancels at the last minute Ruby steps into that roll in order to save the season and help her Aunt.

Ruby feels that she is back to conning people pretending to be a medium and is uncomfortable, hoping that she had left that life behind. Ruby confides to her Aunt that she hears a voice - one that tries to steer her in the right direction. Ruby always thought the voice was a sign of mental illness. Her Aunt reassures her that the women in Ruby's family have 'gifts'. When one of the guests, a renowned debunker of the spiritual, is found murdered on the beach, suspicion falls on all the spiritual practitioners at the Hotel Belden where he was staying and then more squarely on Ruby. She sets out to find the murderer and save herself and her Aunt's Hotel.

Ruby is a wonderful character - she's an independent woman in a time when women were not so independent. She is unafraid of standing up for herself. (Qualities also found in her Aunt Honoria.) Ruby's smart and often unafraid. She has lived in unbearable circumstances with her father and wants to find a home with her Aunt in Orchard Beach. She has been a con artist and is trying to leave that life behind, which puts sometimes puts her in an ethical quandary.

The hotel guests, hired experts, and hotel staff are all interesting and have their own stories. There is a terrific array of townspeople some of who are nicer than others who are introduced in the novel. I'm looking forward to see many of them again as there are subplots swirling around some of them.

Whispers Beyond the Veil is a fantastic foundational novel for this series. Estevao introduces the wonderful setting of Orchard Beach as well as the well-developed cast of characters for future stories. The setting of Orchard Beach is lovingly detailed. While the complex mystery of who killed whom and why are resolved there is so much more to be visited in subsequent novels. The Spiritualism of the era is a fabulous backdrop to the novel.

Whispers Beyond the Veil is a top-notch historical mystery with a touch of the otherworldly. You will will fall in love with Orchard Beach and Ruby Proulx.





About Jessica

Jessica Estevao writes the Change of Fortune Mysteries.The first in the series, Whispers Beyond the Veil, will release in September 2016. She loves the beach, mysterious happenings and all things good-naturedly paranormal. While she lives for most of the year in New Hampshire with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children, she spends summers on the coast of Maine where she keeps an eye out for sea monsters and mermaids.

As Jessie Crockett she’s the author of the nationally bestselling Sugar Grove Mysteries and the Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Live Free or Die.



Website  ~   Twitter @JessEstevao  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram  ~  Pinterest





The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Trade Paperback copy of Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on October 2, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interview with Jason Arnopp and Review of The Last Days of Jack Sparks


Please welcome Jason Arnopp to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Last Days of Jack Sparks was published on September 13th by Orbit.







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

Jason:  Hello! Thanks very much for ushering me in. I started writing at around the age of five, having been inspired by Tom Baker-era Doctor Who and Enid Blyton stories like The Magic Faraway Tree. I created my own comic strips and short stories, all of which involved an explosion roughly every five seconds.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jason:  I’m very much a hybrid, so you could call me a plotser. I establish a skeletal framework, which tends to work out the story’s big turning points, and I try to decide what the story’s really about (although this will often change). Then I dive on in and work it out as I go. This can cause me untold trouble, in the form of rewriting and wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I think it’s important to engage the subconscious mind and let the story grow the right way. I find it extraordinarily difficult to put myself entirely into character’s heads before I start writing them. It’s like the difference between viewing them from above, as if they’re chess pieces, and actually possessing them like some kind of demon.

When I do go off the story rails, incidentally, that’s when I tend to turn to hardcore plotting wisdom. I kind of treat story structure templates like they’re Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad – I only call them when I’m in trouble.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jason:  It would honestly be quicker to tell you what I don’t find challenging. I pretty much find it all very challenging and sometimes just unpleasantly difficult. The more writing experience you gain, the harder it arguably seems to become, because you get a more accurate idea of what it actually takes if you want to really achieve things and break any kind of new ground. For me, the most challenging thing about writing is that each new project seems to require a whole new skillset. It’s not like you learn your trade and then it’s plain sailing, oh no. What a ludicrous way to try and earn a living.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does having a background in journalism affect (or not) your fiction writing?

Jason:  I’m influenced by every genre thing I’ve ever enjoyed, and some I haven’t. Particularly things involving the supernatural, or what seems to involve the supernatural. So that would be everything from Doctor Who to The Evil Dead to Stephen King to Mark Z Danielewski’s House Of Leaves to Scooby Doo to John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing. Chuck Palahniuk is also one of my favourite authors: I love how he has his very own style, and takes such unflinching looks at the human condition.

To make the obvious joke, journalism certainly trained me in the art of making stuff up! But actually that’s not true, because I was always lucky to avoid the dark side of journalism that involves ruining lives or bugging people’s phones. Spending over a decade on a weekly rock magazine certainly prepared me for deadlines and possibly taught me how to work out what to write first in any given piece. And in the case of The Last Days Of Jack Sparks, of course, it helped me write a journalist character with some degree of authority.



TQDescribe The Last Days of Jack Sparks in 140 characters or less.

Jason:  It’s a scary and funny thriller about an arrogant celebrity journalist who sets out to debunk the supernatural and ends up dead. #JackSparks



TQTell us something about The Last Days of Jack Sparks that is not found in the book description.

Jason:  At one point, the book incorporates a scenario based on a real-life thing called The Philip Experiment. In 1972, a group of Toronto researchers invented their own fictional character then tried to summon him into some form of existence. The results remain ambiguous to this day, making the whole thing rather fascinating. I changed its name to The Harold Experiment in this book, for reasons which should become plain enough when you read it.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Last Days of Jack Sparks? What appealed to you about writing a psychological thriller?

Jason:  I do like to climb inside characters’ heads and have a natural curiosity about life’s big questions. So I suppose I combined both interests by writing about a guy who travels the world looking to disprove the existence of ghosts. It appealed to me to make Jack an unreliable narrator, because that can be a useful way to reveal character while keeping the reader guessing.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Last Days of Jack Sparks?

Jason:  Of the global locations featured in the book, Hong Kong was the one I hadn’t visited in a long time, so Google Street View really helped there. God bless Google Street View, it’s a real unsung hero for writers. One brief part of the book is told from the POV of a flight stewardess, so I interviewed my friend Phill Barron, who works in the air as well as being a prolific screenwriter. Perhaps the most research-intensive topic in the book, though, was combat magic. More about that in a minute…



TQIn The Last Days of Jack Sparks who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jason:  I hate to say it, but Jack was the easiest character to write. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it’s true nonetheless. The thing is, authors regularly seesaw between egotism and self-loathing, so perhaps it’s healthy to let some of that ego run riot through a fictional character. A lot of people siphon out some of their worst traits out through writing and maybe I’m one of ‘em. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, the hardest character to write? That was Sherilyn Chastain. Since Sherilyn’s a combat magician, she had to know her stuff. Luckily, my friend Cat Vincent is a retired combat magician and could tell me lots of stuff. In fact, plenty of Cat’s sage words went straight into Sherilyn’s mouth, which made reading the book quite an odd experience for him!



TQWhy have you chosen to include social issues in The Last Days of Jack Sparks?

Jason:  I suppose what I chose to include were social media issues. I’d noticed quite a lot of certainty expressed on social media, perhaps as an unconscious response to what often feels like an increasingly chaotic world. There are lots of great things about social media (and about certain kinds of certainty, for that matter), but sometimes it’s hard to escape the nagging sense that Twitter’s a vast room full of people yelling through megaphones, then wondering why no-one’s listening. Often feels like we’re in broadcast mode more often than we’re in receive mode. So that darker side of social media was interesting to me and helped to illuminate Jack’s own character, particularly as his own ego starts to peel away and reveal more of him beneath. Thematically, the book ended up being an exploration of how ego, belief and certainty interact in the social media age.



TQWhich question about The Last Days of Jack Sparks do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Jason:  That’s a great question, I like it. Hmm, let’s see. The ideal question would be, “Would it be a big help if I reviewed the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Indiebound?” And my answer to this would be, “Hell yes, thank you so much, it would be a bigger help than you know! Especially for a debut novel, positive reviews are gold dust. Or, actually, word of mouth, off or on social media, can be just as valuable. Some folk might imagine that publishers put books out there and people just automatically buy them, but it’s tough – there’s a whole glittering constellation of books out there, vying for readers’ attention. You can practically feel each copy of the book selling, one at a time. When people pop up on Twitter to kindly tell me they enjoyed Jack Sparks, I send them a link to a secret page on my site that tells them how exactly how awesome they are. Word of mouth is vital.”



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Last Days of Jack Sparks.

Jason:  My favourite line appears twice in the novel: “There’s no such thing as the Devil”. I also like “No one listens any more. Only when it’s far too late do our ears open wide”.



TQWhat's next?

Jason:  I recently delivered the second book in my two-book deal with Orbit Books. This one is standalone and has nothing to do with Jack Sparks, who is after all, as dead as a doornail. It occupies the same general kind of territory, though, being a supernatural thriller. When I write, I aim to create an edgy kind of sense that almost anything can happen, so hopefully that unpredictability comes across in both The Last Days Of Jack Sparks and the next novel. Surprising (and hopefully delighting) readers is so much fun.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jason:  Thanks so much for having me. I had a totally qwiller time!





The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Orbit, September 13, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

"Ingenious and funny . . . Magnificent." -- Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen and V for Vendetta

Jack Sparks died while writing this book.

It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed.

Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed -- until now.



Qwill's Thoughts

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is spooky and strange. I absolutely love it. The novel's main character, Jack Sparks, is the poster person for unreliable narrator. I don't trust his brother Alistair either. The story is primarily told from Jack's POV in the form of a book he was writing called "Jack Sparks on the Supernatural", which is being edited and published with the help of his brother Alistair who offers his own notes on the events in the book. There are additional POVs included from people who are interacting with Jack and present a different picture of him.

Jack has written 3 prior books - "Jack Sparks on a Pogo Stick", "Jack Sparks on Gangs" and "Jack Sparks on Drugs". He ended up in rehab after that last book.

Jack has already made up his mind that the supernatural is all baloney. The intent of his latest book is to basically rip apart anyone involved with the supernatural and debunk what they are doing. It doesn't go quite as Jack planned. Jack Sparks is dead but how he gets there is a wild ride.

I really disliked Jack for the most part. He's self-important, self-entitled and unpleasant though he's often funny. His motives for writing about the supernatural are suspect. He's not nice. He's rude. However, toward the end of the novel I really came to feel for him, which is not to say I liked him.

Arnopp has put together a wonderful supporting cast for Jack, including his roommate Bex, his brother Alistair, and many of the people he encounters on his global trek to interview those who work in the the supernatural fields - an exorcist from the Church in Italy, a group in the US trying to recreate an experiment from the 1970s during which they try to create a ghost, and Sherilyn Chastain (a combat magician) in Hong Kong.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is tautly written and breathtakingly paced. Jack is both horrible and fantastic and the supporting cast of characters are well fleshed out.

Arnopp leads the reader deep into the chilling heart of the supernatural and Jack's psyche - neither of which are fun places to be. The Last Days of Jack Sparks is thrilling, astonishingly twisted and fabulous.





About Jason

Jason Arnopp is a British author and scriptwriter. His background is in journalism: he has worked on titles such as Heat, Q, The Word, Kerrang!, SFX and Doctor Who Magazine. He has written comedy for Radio 4 and official tie-in fiction for Doctor Who and Friday The 13th, but The Last Days of Jack Sparks is the first novel which is entirely Jason's own fault (though some may prefer to lay the blame on Jack...)






Website  ~  Twitter @JasonArnopp  ~  Facebook

The Jack Sparks Website