Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.

Viola Carr

The Diabolical Miss Hyde
Electric Empire 1
Harper Voyager, February 10, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Forensic science, magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy steampunk fantasy—a retelling of the horror classic, in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll, daughter of the infamous Dr. Henry Jekyll—pursues a dangerous murderer in an alternate Victorian London.

In an electrified Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with newfangled technological gadgets. She will need every advantage available to catch a terrifying new psychopath splattering London with blood. Hidden in the grimy shadows, the fiendish murderer preys on beautiful women, drugging them before slicing off their limbs. Finding the “Slicer” can make Eliza’s career . . . or unmask her darkest secret. Like her father, she has a hidden second self that emerges when she drinks his forbidden magical elixir. Just a few sips, and a seductive and impulsive Lizzie Hyde is unleashed.

The members of the Royal Society do not trust Eliza, and they send their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a dangerous sorceress. The careful doctor knows that one wrong step can make her prey to the clever Lafayette, a man who harbors an evil curse of his own. No matter how much she craves the elixir, she must resist.

But as the Slicer case draws her into London’s luminous magical underworld, Eliza will need the potion’s power to help her . . . even if it might attract the attentions of Lafayette. .

Even if it means setting the wild Lizzie free. . . .

What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 18

This is the eighteenth in a series of updates about formerly featured Debut Author Challenge authors and their upcoming 2015 books. This update covers some of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge authors. What's Up for the Debut Author Challenge Authors in 2015? - Part 19 will cover additional 2014 DAC authors and additional DAC Authors.

See Part 1 here
See Part 1.5 here
See Part 2 here
See Part 3 here
See Part 4 here
See Part 5 here
See Part 6 here
See Part 7 here
See Part 8 here
See Part 9 here
See Part 10 here
See Part 11 here
See Part 12 here
See Part 13 here
See Part 14 here
See Part 15 here
See Part 16 here
See Part 17 here

Jamie Schultz

Arcane Underworld 2
Roc, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

The author of Premonitions continues his Arcane Underworld saga…

Anna Ruiz is on a mission: Help her friend and partner-in-crime Karyn Ames break free of the tangle of hallucinations and premonitions that have cut her off from reality. With the aid of her crew—ex-soldier Nail and sorcerer Genevieve—she’ll do whatever it takes to get Karyn help, even if it means tracking down every lowlife informant and back alley magic practitioner in the occult underworld of Los Angeles.

But since a magical heist went to hell, the crew has been working for crimelord and doomed magus Enoch Sobell. Between fighting Sobell’s battles with some seriously scary demonic forces and tangling with a group of violent fanatics who want to manipulate Karyn’s abilities for their own gains, Anna, Nail, and Genevieve are beginning to realize they’re in way over their heads.
And now that Karyn’s secret about seeing the future is out, even more unpleasant parties—human and otherwise—are about to come knocking…

Mark Smylie

Black Heart
The Barrow 2
Pyr, August 4, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 800 pages

The last survivors of the raid on the Barrow of Azharad have scattered to the four winds, each walking a separate path. For some, it is the path of noble service, as the households of great kings and warlords beckon, offering a chance to enter the fray of politics with the fate of nations on the line. For others, it is the path of secrets and magic, as the veil of the world parts to reveal the hidden truths that dwell in shadow and spirit.

And for Stjepan Black-Heart, royal cartographer and suspected murderer, it is the path of battle and sacrifice, as he is summoned to attend the household of the Grand Duke Owen Lis Red, the Earl Marshal to the High King of the Middle Kingdoms, on his latest campaign to find and kill Porloss, the Rebel Earl: an elusive quarry lurking behind an army of ruthless renegade knights in the wild hills of the Manon Mole, a land where every step could be your last, and where lie secrets best left undisturbed.

Brian Staveley

The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2
Tor Books, January 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 608 pages

The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.

Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace is search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.

Adam Sternbergh

Near Enemy
Spademan 2
Crown, January 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

The Taut, Unflinching New Thriller from Adam Sternbergh, Author of the Critically-Acclaimed Shovel Ready
New York is toxic—decimated by a dirty bomb years ago.  The limnosphere is a virtual safe haven—if you’re rich enough to buy in.  Spademan is a hit man—box-cutter at the ready.

His latest job is to snuff out Lesser, a lowlife lurking around other people’s fantasies.  As Spademan is about to close the deal, Lesser comes back from the limn with a wild claim: terrorists are planning to attack New York. Again. This time from the inside out.

The warning sends Spademan down a dark path full of unsavory characters and startling revelations.  A shadowy political fixer tells him of a long-running power struggle that goes all the way to City Hall.  A brilliant Egyptian radical brings Spademan to the mysterious far-reaches of the limn.  And a beautiful nurse holds the secret to what, and who, is behind these attacks—and she seems to want to help Spademan stop them.  But he works best alone.  Or so he thinks.

Spademan has always had his share of enemies, but now they’re coming at him from all sides and it’s impossible to know whom to trust.  To stay sharp, his only option might be the one thing he swore he’d never do again.

Karina Sumner-Smith

Towers Trilogy 2
Talos, May 5, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.

In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side?but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.

War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds; rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize?nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.

Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war?or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn't destroy them first.

Interview with Hilary Scharper, author of Perdita - January 28, 2015

Please welcome Hilary Scharper to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Perdita was published on January 20th by Sourcebooks Landmark.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Hilary:  For many years—and like many people it seems—I dreamed about becoming a writer, especially a writer of fiction. Then I hit the age of 40—big shock! I hadn’t (magically) become a writer! And more, I hadn’t really even started the novel I’d always wanted to write. So I went off and began to think about why I hadn’t written “my novel.” Of course I’d been doing other things (namely being a mother, a wife, becoming a university professor), but I tried very hard not to “beat myself up” with accusations of laziness, distraction, procrastination, etc. As result, I realized that there was a dynamic at work in my life—something I called the clearing-the-decks syndrome.

The clearing-the-decks syndrome came from the belief that I had to get everything else done, organized and set BEFORE I could start writing fiction. But the problem was I hardly ever had any moments in my life that resembled a clear deck. (And if I did have them, I usually used quiet moments for reading and enjoying a novel!)

I think that once I realized that a novel was going to have to come out of the “weather” of my life and not clear decks, I discovered a sense of direction and purpose...and just started writing.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Hilary:  I guess I am a bit of both.

I feel that a story is somewhere between my imagination and…something else. (In fact, in my Acknowledgements for Perdita I thank Georgian Bay as a co-author.) To be in that imaginative, co-creative space of the story, I need to be a bit of a “pantser.”

On the other hand, I’ve have to plan, craft and carefully think through things like plot and character development. Even when there are “loose ends” they must be parts of the story that are “skillfully” left open. This definitely requires a “plotter.”

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

Hilary:  Finding time to write!

I’ve since talked to other writers about this dynamic: of trying to establish creative time out of the bits and prices of our lives that are somehow seen as “leftovers,” i.e., as time we have after we’ve done everything else. The thing I discovered was to stop thinking about fiction writing in terms of “left-overs.” Once I took it as a serious and central part of my life, I began to find the time for it.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Hilary:  My reading interests are very wide, but I have a special place in my heart for late 19th century literary classics. At the moment I am exploring “the gothic” and going back into the mid to late 1700s to explore how nature was depicted in some of the earliest gothic novels (Castle of Otranto, The Romance of the Forest, Zofloya, etc.). It’s been fascinating and I’ve been struck by how many women writers turned to the gothic to both critique and confound the rigid social codes of their lives. The gothic genre still does this for us….

TQ:  Describe Perdita in 140 characters or less.

Hilary:  Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’s ready to go if it weren’t for a mysterious presence she calls Perdita. Garth Heller of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged, but reading her diaries from the 1890s might just change his mind.

TQ:  Tell us something about Perdita that is not in the book description.

Hilary:  There were many sources of inspiration for Perdita: Greek mythology, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, my own interest in aging and longevity, to name a few. One important source, however, was an old photograph. It was of the lighthouse where I was staying for a summer vacation, but taken over 100 years earlier.

Cabot Head Lighthouse, northern Ontario, Canada, c. 1900.

From the very first, I found myself drawn to the young woman standing in the doorway looking out across the landscape and contemplating the remoteness of her location. Somehow I felt as if I could hear her thoughts. Yet it seemed to me that the wind was pulling at her skirts, inviting her to step out into the wild beauty of her “home.” As I wondered what the woman in the photograph did…step outside or go back inside?…the story of Perdita came to me.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Perdita? Perdita has been described as eco-gothic. What is eco-gothic?

Hilary:  The "Eco-Gothic" is a term that my husband came up with after reading a draft of my novel. At the time, he was being a little tongue-in-cheek, but as we both thought about it, we grew to like the term more and more. Soon I began to think about it quite seriously.

The “eco” in my work is distinctive in that it builds on the Gothic’s depiction of Nature as more than a backdrop for plot or character. Rather, Eco-Gothic Nature is a living, acting, creating, and unfolding “other.” It is a Nature that is alive, unpredictable, and certainly capable of influencing events.

More on the eco-gothic:

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Perdita?

Hilary:  I had to do research in many different areas for Perdita.

First and foremost were lighthouses and Great Lakes shipping, shipwrecks and nautical lore. Much of this was done at the Cabot Head lighthouse where I was staying as an assistant lighthouse-keeper with my husband and young son.

Perdita also has a long section that takes place in Toronto at the turn of the last century. I did quite a bit of research for this, particularly by looking at maps and archival images in order to get a better feel for what it would be like to not only live in, but also move around a 19th century city.

Lastly there was research on mythology and then longevity. The first took me deep into Homer, Hesiod and Greek philosophical lexicons, and the latter into scientific research on aging.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Hilary:  An interesting question! I’m not sure how to answer this. Marged Brice came very easily to me because she was the first character to arrive and defined the story. Garth Hellyer certainly had his moments of challenge because I wanted to keep him reserved and cautious in contrast to Marged.

TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Hilary:  What does Perdita mean?

Perdita is Latin for “the lost one.” In my novel, Perdita is a mythological figure—the lost child—and she also represents the possibility of “being found.”

I drew on both Greek mythology and Shakespeare to develop her character. In Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale, for example, Perdita is a child who is “lost” owing to the blind and cruel jealousy of her father. Yet she is also “found” through loving acts of rescue, forgiveness and ultimately self-realization. In order to lose and find “a Perdita,” then, one must first become aware of who or what is lost (including the possibility of being lost yourself).

Ultimately this is the problem for my character, Garth Hellyer. He is a jaded professor and a longevity researcher and he’s convinced that it’s the 134-year-old Marged Brice who is the “lost one.” Marged, however, has her own views and thinks that Garth is really the “lost one”—to himself and to the possibilities of love in his life. This is why Marged insists that Garth stick with the question he asks her at their first meeting: who is Perdita? It is also a central question for the reader.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Perdita.


“Yes. But I want to know—and you must tell me. What would your trees say about you?” she demanded. “Would your trees tell me to trust you?”

“Their words tested each other in a way that intrigued me: each man with his own hammer striking the other’s surface with skill and listening for the true ring of steel. At times they did it with seriousness and at others with humor, but I felt them drawing out that deep sound from one another…the sound of a good man.”

TQ:  What's next?

Hilary:  I have a second novel finished (titled “Immanence”) and I am also working on sequel to “Perdita” (tentatively titled “Lonely Island.”) In the second volume, Marged Brice journeys to a lighthouse on a remote island and is asked to assist in the care of an ill and bed-ridden light-keepers’s wife.

George, Andrew Reid, Tad, Allan and Dr. McTavish all reappear in the story, and there are some new characters in the form of (possibly) unsavory passengers rescued during a dramatic shipwreck….

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Hilary:  Many thanks to you—it was a pleasure to answer these engaging questions!

Sourcebooks Landmark, January 20, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Marged Brice is 134 years old.
She’d be ready to go, if it wasn’t for Perdita . . .

The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…

Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.

Everyone knows about death.
It’s life that’s much more mysterious…

About Hilary

I am a Canadian author, living in Toronto. My husband and I have spent over a decade as assistant lighthouse-keepers and stewards at the Cabot Head Lighthouse and Bird Observatory, located on the northern Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. My major published works of fiction include a novel, Perdita (which draws on my experiences at Cabot Head), and a short story collection, Dream Dresses. I am also an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

Website  ~  Twitter @HilaryScharper

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

Gemini Cell
Author:  Myke Cole
Publisher:  Ace, January 27, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425269640 (print)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with an all-new epic adventure in his highly acclaimed Shadow Ops universe—set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel…

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Qwill's Thoughts

Gemini Cell is the fourth published novel written by Myke Cole. It is set at the very beginning of what becomes the world of the Shadow Ops Trilogy - Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone. Note that this is not the 4th book in that series but is a standalone and an excellent gateway to the Shadow Ops world. Start with Gemini Cell or go back and read Gemini Cell after you read the Trilogy. You will not be disappointed.

The novel is filled with action and surprises but also tells the story of the very start of what is called the Supernatural Operations Corps. Gemini Cell gives us hints at what's to come in the Great Reawakening (when magic comes back to the world). The government is playing with magic forces it does not understand. What could possibly go wrong? Conspiracies abound and things are not often quite what they seem. Cole makes this story come alive with his wonderful attention to detail when it comes to military operations and procedures. He puts you in the action and it is at times a rush.

At its heart Gemini Cell is about Sarah and Jim Schweitzer and their enduring connection and love. Jim is a Navy Seal and an artist (as he says) at what he does. Sarah is actually an artist and her own person. These two characters are written beautifully. I found it easy to connect with both of them and to understand what they were going through. I felt Sarah's emotions as she dealt with the death of her husband. I was rooting for Jim as he comes to grips with what had happened and what happens to him.

Gemini Cell moves along at a heady clip and the pacing is excellent throughout. With Gemini Cell, Myke Cole takes his writing to a new level with a thrilling and deeply engaging story featuring emotionally deep characters who are incredibly appealing. This is a fabulous story.