Friday, September 19, 2014

Interview with Maria Alexander, author of Mr. Wicker - September 19, 2014

Please welcome Maria Alexander to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Mr. Wicker was published on September 16th by Raw Dog Screaming Press.

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

Maria:  Pleased to be here! I started playing with stories when I was 8 years old while I was recovering from chicken pox. I wrote on and off throughout my childhood, but I was more of a musician until I was in college. That’s when I co-founded a company called Dead Earth Productions that designed and ran fully immersive, live-action horror games. We were based in the San Francisco Bay Area. This meant many of our players came from the big RPG companies, like Chaosium, R. Talsorian and White Wolf. Because I loved games and creating interactive experiences more than anything, I devoted my nascent writing talents to that. I didn’t start writing fiction seriously until Neil Gaiman and I started corresponding years later.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Maria:  Having spent a long time as a screenwriter, I’m a hopeless plotter. But I’m not so locked into my plotting that, if something cool jumps out of my head and it feels right, I can’t be flexible.

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

Maria:  Typing. Right now, I have hand problems and I write with voice technology. You would never know it based on my output. Ask my publisher!

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

Maria:  Gabrielle Garcia Marquez. Clive Barker. Michael Marshall Smith. Tim Powers. Neil Gaiman. I recently realized how much Julio Cortázar has shaped my creativity. I first read him in college and he is astonishing. “The Night Face Up” is one of the greatest stories ever written, I think.

TQ:  Describe Mr. Wicker in 140 characters or less.

Maria:  Alicia Baum is missing a deadly childhood memory. She must get it back before it destroys her life — again.

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

Maria:  At the midpoint of the story, Mr. Wicker shares with Alicia a story about who he used to be before the Library. He takes the reader on a brutal, chilling adventure in ancient Gaul on the eve of the Gallic Wars. The fate of those ancient people is entwined with Alicia’s in ways she could never guess.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Mr. Wicker? From the description of the novel it appears to be a genre bender. Is it essentially an Urban Fantasy? You also touch on suicide on the novel. Why did you go there?

Maria:  Mr. Wicker is quite similar to American Gods in that it’s mostly urban fantasy with parts that are historical fantasy. (Now that I think about it, I wonder if American Gods is considered cross genre.) The difference is that the historical fantasy in Mr. Wicker is one larger story, rather than several shorter, individual stories distributed throughout the book.

As for inspiration, I had a close encounter of sorts with Mr. Wicker himself back in 1997. If you solve the puzzle at the end of the book trailer, it unlocks something that ultimately reveals the bizarre yet true tale. Two people have solved it so far: legendary “Monkey Island” game designer/online community guru Randy Farmer, and brilliant actress/puzzle aficionado Whitney Avalon. (Remember the mom in that controversial Cheerios commercial? Yep. Her.) The puzzle is really not that hard. You’ve seen that sequence before…

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Mr. Wicker?

Maria:  I haunted mental health forums looking for information about suicide and lockdowns. I wish there was more transparency in the mental health profession about what it’s like in a proper lockdown environment. The book is set in 2005. When I started writing the book in 2004, we didn’t have as much information about mental health treatment online as we do today. It was very difficult to get a solid idea of what happens inside mental health facilities from a professional perspective, and still is. Eventually, a friend of mine who’d recently obtained her medical degree graciously shared with me her experiences as a med student on rotation in a lockdown, but I could have used more information.

As for the historical fantasy, I initially started researching ancient Gaul and Rome according to guidelines that Tim Powers gave me for historical research. However, I encountered difficulties because the Gauls were so obscure and my Roman interests so particular. I went to the UCLA library, where I found journal articles written by a classicist named Dr. Maurice James Moscovich at the Western University in London Ontario, Canada. His scholastic specialty covered exactly what I needed to know. I got in touch with him and he took me under his wing. I’m truly lucky. He even read what I wrote and gave me feedback. (I took at least 90% of it.) He’s retired now, thinking more about golf than the Gauls, but he considers me one of his students.

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

Maria:  Alicia was both the easiest and the hardest because, even when I thought she was being an idiot, I understood her. I got the most blowback about her from male agents. One jackass in particular, who had obviously read the entire book, sent me a long letter explaining how much he disliked her and that no one would ever like a female character who is angry. When my friend Edith Speed committed suicide in 2009, she was incredibly angry. (She was a very strong woman most of her life, by the way.) There was no way I was going to soften Alicia to please anyone’s aesthetic palate, especially after Edith’s death. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s honest, and I think readers prefer that. I know I do.

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

Maria:  From Chapter 40:

      She’ll die if you don’t come.
      The words rolled before him and retreated like a riptide into the darkness. His will got caught in the undertow and he could not resist the plea.
      Dr. Farron put down the water cup and sized up the hallway, the portrait glimmering. Forget sanity. Eat me. Drink me. Vomit me. Scorch me. Love me. Remember me...
      He ran.

TQ:  What's next?

Maria:  I’ve just finished writing a dark, action-packed YA novel called Snowed. It’s about a 16-year-old engineering prodigy named Charity Jones whose social worker mother brings home a mysterious boy named Aidan to foster for the holidays. But as Charity and Aidan fall in love, violent deaths occur that Charity investigates with her Skeptics Club. They wind up battling a terrifying twist on the Christmas myth that changes their lives — and human history — forever.

I recruited a team of teen beta readers and their moms for notes to help make the book more authentic. They gave me great notes, but I was not prepared for their overwhelming, unrelenting excitement. Not even the moms were able to put down the book. I also got resounding approval from my 13-year-old male beta reader. (He says it’s a mystery, not a romance. I’m good with that.) I’m querying agents now, as well as plotting the second book in the trilogy.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Maria:  You’re welcome! Thank you for having me.

Mr. Wicker
Raw Dog Screaming Press, September 16, 20414
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 236 pages

Alicia Baum is missing a deadly childhood memory.

Located beyond life, The Library of Lost Childhood Memories holds the answer. The Librarian is Mr. Wicker — a seductive yet sinister creature with an unthinkable past and an agenda just as lethal. After committing suicide, Alicia finds herself before the Librarian, who informs her that her lost memory is not only the reason she took her life, but the cause of every bad thing that has happened to her.

Alicia spurns Mr. Wicker and attempts to enter the hereafter without the Book that would make her spirit whole. But instead of the oblivion she craves, she finds herself in a psychiatric hold at Bayford Hospital, where the staff is more pernicious than its patients.

Child psychiatrist Dr. James Farron is researching an unusual phenomenon: traumatized children whisper to a mysterious figure in their sleep. When they awaken, they forget both the traumatic event and the character that kept them company in their dreams — someone they call “Mr. Wicker.”

During an emergency room shift, Dr. Farron hears an unconscious Alicia talking to Mr. Wicker—the first time he’s heard of an adult speaking to the presence. Drawn to the mystery, and then to each other, they team up to find the memory before it annihilates Alicia for good. To do so they must struggle not only against Mr. Wicker’s passions, but also a powerful attraction that threatens to derail her search, ruin Dr. Farron’s career, and inflame the Librarian’s fury.

After all, Mr. Wicker wants Alicia to himself, and will destroy anyone to get what he wants. Even Alicia herself.

About Maria

Maria Alexander writes pretty much every damned thing and gets paid to do it. She’s a produced screenwriter and playwright, published games writer, virtual world designer, award-winning copywriter, interactive theatre designer, prolific fiction writer, snarkiologist and poet. Her stories have appeared in publications such as Chiaroscuro Magazine, and Paradox, as well as numerous acclaimed anthologies alongside living legends such as David Morrell and Heather Graham.

Her second poetry collection—At Louche Ends: Poetry for the Decadent, the Damned and the Absinthe-Minded—was nominated for the 2011 Bram Stoker Award. And she was a winner of the 2004 AOL Time-Warner “Time to Rhyme” poetry contest.

When she’s not wielding a katana at her local shinkendo dojo, she’s on the BBC World Have Your Say radio program shooting off her mouth about blasphemy, international politics and more. She lives in Los Angeles with two
ungrateful cats and a purse called Trog.

Explore her website: You won’t regret it.

Twitter @LaMaupin

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Interview with Chloe Benjamin, author of The Anatomy of Dreams - September 18, 2014

Please welcome Chloe Benjamin to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Anatomy of Dreams was published on September 16th by Atria Books.

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

Chloe:  I'm one of those annoying people who's been writing as long as she (I) can remember. As for why, hmm--I think I've always had an overactive imagination and a ferocious appetite for knowledge, as well as more curiosity than is probably healthy, and in combination they've led me to reading and writing.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Chloe:  Is it embarrassing that I had to google "What is a pantser"? I'd say I'm a combination of both. I always have some idea of where the story is going; I tend to know the beginning and have a hazy idea of the end, as well as some twists and turns along the way. But I'm also a believer in the notion that writing a novel is like driving through a dark tunnel at night--you can only see as far as the headlights will show you, but you can make the whole trip that way. For me, plotting a book out entirely ahead of time would reduce the possibility of discovery and surprise, which are (for me, at least) the chief delights of writing a first draft.

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

Chloe:  Oh, there are so many things. I find revision really grueling. As I mentioned above, I really love the process of writing early drafts: there is so much to be uncovered, so much room to invent and play. Revisions are about taking that pulpy mass of invention and turning it into something with shape and cohesion--in other words, narrative and structural integrity. That process is absolutely necessary but it's simply less fun and less intuitive for me.

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

Chloe:  I tend to fall for authors who explore human relationships with insight and style. That's a really big umbrella, and I suppose it could cover all authors ever, but I'm thinking of people like Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore. I also love authors who push the limits of speculative or genre fiction, like Kazuo Ishiguro, Tana French, Judy Budnitz, Lev Grossman, Margaret Atwood, George Saunders and Philip Pullman.

TQ:  Describe The Anatomy of Dreams in 140 characters or less.

Chloe:  Couple pursues experimental dream research beneath a charismatic but ethically-questionable professor; trouble ensues.

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

Chloe:  The book actually doesn't veer into sci-fi or even speculative fiction--it stays firmly in the realm of what's possible within our world, though I do think it nudges those boundaries.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Anatomy of Dreams? What is lucid dreaming?

Chloe:  I've always had very vivid dreams, and I find dreams in general so fascinating--they're such evidence of the human brain's tendency toward narrative. And because we have little control over that narrative--it's so subconscious--dreams can be very revealing.

Lucid dreaming is the act of knowing that you're dreaming while in the midst of a dream. The researchers in the novel think this presents an opportunity for patients with sleep disorders to regain some control: they reason that if disordered dreamers can become aware of their dreams while inside them, they'll be able to intervene in their own behavior and better process their subconscious fears and urges.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Anatomy of Dreams?

Chloe:  I did a few different layers of research. I wanted to be grounded in the history of dream theory, so I read Freud and Jung, whose ideas still influence the way we think about sleep and the subconscious. Then I read the work of current dream researchers, both those who work on sleep disorders and those who work on lucid dreaming--people like Rosalind Cartwright and Stephen Laberge. Finally, I researched the nuts and bolts of sleep studies: how to operate polysomnography equipment, for instance, as well as academic papers that explore methodology for lucidity studies.

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

Chloe:  What an interesting question! I'm going to be a cheater and say that Sylvie was both the easiest and the hardest to write: the easiest because her voice came to me immediately, and the hardest because it took a lot of finessing and revision to make sure that she didn't come off as too much of a wet blanket. That was a big part of what I hoped to convey with her character--that even someone who seems utterly practical and conventional can have many layers of weirdness--but in early drafts she was, in my agent's words, somewhat pathetic. In later drafts, I tried to bring out her voice and give her more agency.

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

Chloe:  Another great question! It's so easy, as an author, to focus on self-criticism and forget to highlight the things you're proud of. I've always liked these lines:

"I’d heard about the power of striped bass, how they grew as heavy as sixty pounds; mature, they had few enemies. But the one in Keller’s hands was docile, resigned. Its eyes--even larger than a human’s, the black irises pits in pools of yellow--stared out at the room with what seemed like attention, as if Keller were offering not death but a privilege. Here, he seemed to say, was life on land."

TQ:  What's next?

Chloe:  In addition to promotion for ANATOMY and a few short writing projects, I'm working on my next novel. I'm superstitious about sharing plot info, but I will say that I'm researching divination, vaudeville and sex work in 1980s San Francisco. My Google searches are getting pretty sketchy!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chloe:  Thank you!

The Anatomy of Dreams
Atria Books, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

“A sly, promising and ambitious debut.” —Publishers Weekly

“Chloe Benjamin is a great new talent.” —Lorrie Moore, author of Bark: Stories

It’s 1998, and Sylvie Patterson, a bookish student at a Northern California boarding school, falls in love with a spirited, elusive classmate named Gabe. Their headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, is a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming: By teaching his patients to become conscious during sleep, he helps them to relieve stress and heal from trauma. Over the next six years, Sylvie and Gabe become consumed by Keller’s work, following him from the redwood forests of Eureka, California, to the enchanting New England coast.

But when an opportunity brings the trio to the Midwest, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled relationship with their mysterious neighbors—and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller’s research, recognizing the harm that can be wrought under the guise of progress. As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn’t, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself: an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia, and a new sense of rebellion.

In stirring, elegant prose, Benjamin’s tale exposes the slippery nature of trust—and the immense power of our dreams.

About Chloe

Photograph © Nicholas Wilkes
Chloe Benjamin is a graduate of Vassar College and The University of Wisconsin-Madison MFA program. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlantic, Pank, Whiskey Island, and The Washington Independent Review of Books. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Website  ~  Twitter @chloekbenjamin

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guest Blog by Steven John, author of Outrider and Three A.M. - September 17, 2014

Please welcome Steven John to The Qwillery. Outrider, Steven's second novel, was published by Night Shade Books on September 16th.

Roughly between the time my first novel, THREE A.M., was published back in early 2012 and the release of my second book, OUTRIDER, my life has changed in many ways, not the least of which has been my relationship with writing.

Both of the books I’ve thus far had published were written when I was fully employed. I grabbed what time I had during lunchtime or late at night to write; I snuck in editing sessions there at my desk. I told myself things like: “Just write for 20 minutes a day at least!” or “Just do 500 words, minimum!” And despite how little time I had to devote to writing… it worked. I wrote books.

I have since become what I suppose I can fairly call a “professional writer.” In fact, I think I have to call it that: I’m a freelancer who pens articles under my own name for multiple websites and as a nameless scribe for several more. I write marketing copy, humorous blog posts (I’d like to think, anyway), I write about the tech world, and I often write about writing. But sadly, I also write less fiction.

In the past, those few minutes of writing were an escape for me; writing a paragraph or two of halfway-decent fiction was like turning a release valve on the day. But of late, when I have often written upward of three, sometimes four thousand words a day of copy for various assignments, trying to motivate myself to work on finishing book #4, or at least continuing the edit of #3, can be a daunting task indeed. The fisherman doesn’t unwind with more fishing, nor does the lawyer relax at night by reading a few more briefs, after all.

There’s another factor at play, mind you: in October of last year my wife and I had our first child, a boy named Benjamin. He is charming, brilliant, and handsome, and he will neither suffer boredom nor will he sleep through the night (11 months on and he has done so once). Our son is a treasure, but he is also exhausting in a way I had never dreamt possible (they don’t give you the handbook until you already have kids, nonparents. It’s goddamn sneaky of them).

The blend of too much “hired gun” writing, almost no free time, and precious little sleep had, for months, ground my fiction writing to a near-standstill. But then something happened: as stipulated in the contract I signed so long ago with my publisher Skyhorse (now the parent company of the venerable Night Shade Books, the logo actually gracing the book’s spine), a box full of books showed up at my door a few days ago. Though it was not the first time this had happened, and though I vaguely knew they were coming, it was still a compelling moment when I opened the nondescript cardboard box and looked down to see my name on the cover of the novels therein bubble-wrapped.

When I flipped through a few pages of OUTRIDER, I had to let myself admit that “Hey, this is pretty good writing, actually.” The next day I opened up a file I had not double-clicked on in weeks and edited a few pages of my third novel (let’s call it… UNTITLED – that has a nice ring to it). Again, I was pleasantly surprised to find sentences I enjoyed reading. It hit me not as an epiphany, but certainly as a motivator that if I wanted to have any more moments like that any time soon, I had to get my nose to the grind. No one else is going to write books for me; that’s not how it works.

How it works is saying: “Just write for 20 minutes a day at least!” or “Just do 500 words, minimum!” So now I’m going to sign off and see if I can’t take my own admonitions to heart – sure, there may be less free time in the day, but I’ve got 20 minutes. The kid has to nap sometime, and I can always catch up on my own sleep when the next book is finished.

Night Shade Books, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Within a few decades, solar technology will evolve to the point where power is endless . . . unless someone wants to stop the flow—which someone does.

And the only men who can stop these high-tech terrorists are on horseback.

In the near future, the New Las Vegas Sunfield will be one of many enormous solar farms to supply energy to the United States. At more than fifty miles long and two miles wide, the Sunfield generates an electromagnetic field so volatile that ordinary machinery and even the simplest electronic devices must be kept miles away from it. Thus, the only men who can guard the most technologically advanced power station on earth do so on horseback.

They are the Outriders.

Though the power supplied by the Sunfield is widespread, access to that power comes with total deference to the iron-fisted will of New Las Vegas’s ruthless mayor, Franklin Dreg. Crisis erupts when Dreg’s quietly competent secretary, Timothy Hale, discovers someone has been stealing energy—siphoning it out of the New Las Vegas grid under cover of darkness.

As the Outriders investigate, the scale of the thievery becomes clear: these aren’t the ordinary energy leeches, people who steal a few watts here or there. These are high-tech terrorists (or revolutionaries) engaged in a mysterious and dangerous enterprise and poised to bring down the entire energy grid, along with the millions of people it supports.

The pressure mounts and fractures appear within both the political leadership of New Las Vegas and in the tight-knit community of Outriders. With a potential crisis looming, the mysterious goal of the “Drainers” finally comes into focus. Only then do the Outriders realize how dangerous the situation really is.

About Steven

Steven John is a writer living in Glendale, California (by way of Washington DC). He and his wife Kristin, an elementary school teacher, were joined by their son Benjamin in October of 2013. In addition to writing for several websites and journals, Steven published his first novel, THREE A.M., in 2012. His second book, OUTRIDER, hits shelves in September of 2014. When not writing or spending time with his family, Steven tries to squeeze in some mountain climbing.

Website  ~  Twitter @StevenJohn3AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Interview with Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger - September 16, 2014

Please welcome Beth Cato to The Qwillery as part of the  2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Clockwork Dagger is out today from Harper Voyager. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Beth a very Happy Publication Day!

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

Beth:  Thanks for having me here! It's an amazing feeling to be on a site that I've visited for years as a reader.

I was the odd four-year-old who wrote and illustrated my own stapled-together books. I continued to dream of being an author into my teenage years, at which point reality and my own insecurities smacked me upside the head. I gave up on writing for a decade. I was at home with my toddler son while my husband deployed in the Navy and I realized I wasn't being true to myself. I needed to do something more. I needed to write again.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Beth:  I'm a dedicated plotter but I leave a lot of wiggle room in my outlines. My stories always manage to surprise me!

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

Beth:  Oh, rejection. No question. It's hard to work on something for weeks or months and see it turned away with a form rejection, or worse, a personal rejection that let's you know it was oh-so-close to be accepted. I've developed a thicker skin over the years but it's still hard sometimes. My husband is acting as the screener for my book reviews so that I mostly see the positives ones.

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

Beth:  I adore C. E. Murphy's Walker Papers series. I found her books when I was starting to write again and I desperately wanted to be published, and I studied her books to figure out why they worked. I also love Elizabeth Moon's work--in particular, her Paksenarrion and Vatta's War books. On a personal level, she inspires me because she was a prolific writer while raising a son with autism, just as I am. I really needed a role model like that, especially during my son's hard preschool years.

TQ:  Describe The Clockwork Dagger in 140 characters or less.

Beth:  Healer on airship. Murder, spies, poison, cute gremlins & world tree that seriously plays favorites. Epic fantasy meets steampunk!

TQ:  Tell us something about The Clockwork Dagger that is not in the book description.

Beth:  The setting is based on post-World War I Europe, while the geography is based on western Washington state.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Clockwork Dagger? What appealed to you about writing a steampunk mystery novel? What do you think is the appeal of steampunk and why do you believe that steampunk blends so well with other genres / subgenres?

Beth:  I knew I wanted to write about a healer. I've loved steampunk for ages. My mom raised me on Agatha Christie mysteries. Everything mashed together in my brain. I initially pitched the idea to my agent as "Murder on the Orient Express, on an airship, with a healer."

First of all, steampunk is just plain fun. The clothes! The gadgets! The manners! Yet there's also depth to it. The Victorian and Edwardian periods were filled with such scientific promise and excitement, but at the same time you had the horrors of colonization and the dark side of industrialization. Steampunk literature lets us rewrite history or use that framework on a different world (as I do). Women can fight for empowerment, and minorities are given a greater voice. The real-life steampunk community reflects that, too--all ages, all body types, all backgrounds. Everyone is accepted and celebrated.

Steampunk blends well with other genres--mystery, post-apocalyptic, future science fiction--because there is so much inherent conflict, and anyone can be the hero.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Clockwork Dagger?

Beth:  I read a number of books set during the American Civil War and World War I, fiction and nonfiction, though I most heavily relied on books about battlefield medicine. Within The Clockwork Dagger, the Lady's herbs are the only thing I invented. Other herbs, tools, and usages are drawn from history--things like the use of iodine for tender-feet.

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

Beth:  Leaf was by far the easiest to write. He's also the character that readers are the most crazy about. I based Leaf on my cat Palom--I thought, what would Palom be like if he understood more language and had wings? The hardest character was Octavia. In early drafts she was an extreme good-two-shoes. I had to soften her a lot to make sure she was relatable.

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


"I'll try not to grope you without a legitimate medical excuse."

Apparently, one doesn't make friends by assaulting fellow passengers with a serving tray.

TQ:  What's next?

Beth:  I just wrapped up revisions for the second book in the duology, The Clockwork Crown. It's set to come out next autumn. I also have another steampunk series in the works, but no guarantees about that yet!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Beth:  Thanks for letting me be part of the site!

The Clockwork Dagger
Harper Voyager, September 16, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

You may read an excerpt from The Clockwork Dagger at here.

About Beth

Photo by Corey Ralston
Beth Cato resides in the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. Her husband Jason, son Nicholas, and crazy cat keep her busy, but she still manages to squeeze in time for writing and other activities that help preserve her sanity. She is originally from Hanford, CA, a lovely city often pungent with cow manure.

Website  ~ Twitter @BethCato  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest