Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Interview with Todd McAulty, author of The Robots of Gotham

Please welcome Todd McAulty to The Qwillery, as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Robots of Gotham was published on June 19th by John Joseph Adams / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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

Todd:  Thanks, and it's great to be here!

I was into comics and science fiction at a pretty early age, and the first fiction piece I remember writing was a pretty funky mad scientist story. I borrowed my Dad's typewriter and pecked it out, one key at a time. I submitted it to a science fiction magazine at the age of 12, and I was bursting with pride and excitement just to be able to say I did that, let me tell you.

Surprisingly. I got back what seemed to me to be a thoughtful rejection. It meant so much to me to be treated seriously by a science fiction editor that I immediately set to work on another story.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Todd:  I admit, red faced and embarrassed, that I am a total pantser. I have no idea where my stories are going. I sit down in front of my computer and start typing, mostly to find out what happens.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Todd:  Getting started. I'm a procrastinator, Woowee, am I a procrastinator. The day I was supposed to start writing my next novel, I did six loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and vacuumed the whole house. I never wrote a word but, hey, my writing space sure was ordered and tidy.

Still, I do enjoy writing. I just have a hard time getting started. Once I get over that hump though, once I fall into the regular rhythm of 2-5 pages a day, it's the best feeling in the world.

You just need to exercise those writing muscles. Once you get them in shape, you can routinely accomplish things that seemed impossible when you were just getting started.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Todd:  Reading. Novels of course, but also short fiction. Read the magazines -- Clarkesworld, Asimov's, Lightspeed. There are writers doing things today that will blow your mind open. Clarkesworld has a marvelous podcast, read by the amazing Kate Baker, and I listen to it while riding the train home from Chicago in the evening. Yesterday I listened to Bogi Takács' “Some Remarks on the Reproductive Strategy of the Common Octopus,” about uplifted octopi on an alien planet. Great stuff!

If you're a writer looking to get inspired, novels are a fine choice. But I find that nothing really churns the mind like great short fiction. There's so much out there today, and so many ways to consume it. If you haven't tried, you're really missing out.

The other thing I read is newspapers. Real journalism, not just bloggers and Facebook. I think I'm the only person in my train compartment every morning that still carries a physical copy of The New York Times with me downtown. Pretty old school, I admit.

When I wrote the first draft of THE ROBOTS OF GOTHAM, it seemed flat and unrealistic until I realized I was missing a global perspective. I needed to tell the story of how the rise of independent machines had changed the entire world, not just the United States. That was a hugely positive change to the book, and I think it comes directly from exposure to so many in-depth resources on global affairs.

TQDescribe The Robots of Gotham in 140 characters or less.

Todd:  A Canadian businessman in an occupied Chicago uncovers a machine conspiracy to destroy all life and teams with humans and robots to stop it.

TQTell us something about The Robots of Gotham that is not found in the book description.

Todd:  I worked with the great folks at John Joseph Adams Books to craft what I thought was pretty serviceable jacket copy for the novel. But it wasn't until all those terrific blurbs from other writers starting coming in that I realized that there were much better ways to describe the book than just a straight-ahead plot synopsis.

C.S.E. Cooney, who'd just won a World Fantasy Award for her magical collection BONE SWANS, said something that really struck me. She said:

            "For all its breakneck world-building, constant questing, and relentless wheeling and dealing, The Robots of Gotham is deceptively deep-hearted: a novel about, of all things, friendship.”

It's interesting how the themes in your fiction aren't always clear to you until someone points them out. But she's absolutely right. THE ROBOTS OF GOTHAM is about a Canadian who gets dropped into a very ugly situation, an occupied Chicago hollowed out by a prolonged war against machines, and sets about indiscriminately making friendships. With Americans in his hotel, with foreigners who are part of the peacekeeping force, and with machines of all kinds, including some who are part of the occupying army. Those friendships become crucial when he stumbles on a machine conspiracy to destroy all life on the continent with a horrific plague.

Barry Simcoe and his new friends set out to stop it, and when they do they make two more startling discoveries: that the fabled American resistance is not nearly as extinct as everyone believes, and that there's a very big secret hidden behind the machine machinations in Chicago. A secret that America's machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.

If I had to describe the book today, I'd do it a little differently than I did when I wrote that jacket copy. I'd want to find a way to boil down what the book is all about. To say that the antidote to all this skullduggery and mistrust is friendship. The outsider Barry Simcoe is able to make friendships in a very dangerous place, with parties who are intensely hostile to each other, and those friendships spread.

Can something as simple as friendship successfully undermine a global conspiracy? Can man truly be friends with something as alien as a sentient machine? Those are the questions I had so much fun exploring in my novel.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Robots of Gotham? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Todd:  The Robots of Gotham is a standalone book, and it tells a complete tale, but it's also part of a series of stories that use the same setting. I was inspired to write it because of my love for the science fiction and fantasy series that have captivated me over the years, from The Lord of the Rings to Star Trek to Harry Potter.

Neil Gaiman once said he didn't truly understand serial fiction until he realized that the key is giving readers time to live with the characters between installments. That the magic of his Sandman comic wasn't always magnified by collecting the monthly issues into graphic novels so readers could digest them all at once. That good serial fiction has more impact when it has room to live, for readers to daydream and imagine their own stories between chapters. I think that's a powerful insight, and it's part of what fascinates me about writing a series.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Robots of Gotham? How much of the science in the novel is more fact than fiction?

Todd:  I work for a machine learning company in Chicago, and one of the great surprises of my life was how much the real world caught up with the world of 2083 Chicago I imagined, just in the three years between when I began writing the book and when it was published. The advances in machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence over the last three years alone have been staggering.

If I had it to do all over again, I might have moved my time line up by 30 years, to 2053. And even that might not be enough! We are plunging into a future world of robots and Thought Machines far faster than I had imagined. Much of what I conjectured in the book is fact already. That's both exciting and a little terrifying.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Robots of Gotham.

Todd:  I'd be delighted to! The cover was designed by Mark R. Robinson at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and it depicts a scene from the novel. It shows a massive fireball over Lake Michigan, a scant 15 miles offshore, created when an unknown group of machines create a controlled magma vent -- basically a volcano -- in the middle of the lake.

Why? That's just one of the mysteries Barry Simcoe is faced with when he arrives in the city, and sees this happening from his hotel room.

I'm absolutely thrilled with the cover. Covers are enormously important, and I think doubly so for debut authors. There's not a lot of reason for a casual browser to pick us up in the bookstore. If the cover doesn't catch your eye, we're sunk. And Mark's cover is certainly eye-catching!

TQIn The Robots of Gotham who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Todd:  That's easy. The easiest character to writer was the first robot introduced, Nineteen Black Winter, a diplomat from the robotic kingdom of Manhattan. He and Barry are both injured in the attack on their hotel in the first chapter. While Barry quickly recovers, Black Winter is dying, and no one can help him. Barry has to make a crucial decision about how much he's willing to risk to try and save a machine he just met a few hours ago.

Black Winter was easy to write because, like Barry, he's an outsider. He's just trying to make his way in a city that hates and mistrusts machines. He doesn't understand the politics any better than anyone else. But his connections and knowledge prove to be invaluable to the fledgling team when the crisis hits.

I think the hardest character to write was the villain, who's also a machine. I'll leave the rest of that question alone for now.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Robots of Gotham?

Todd:  I think social issues were unavoidable. Any time in history when a race has conquered and oppressed another, the consequences have been brutal and long-lasting. In this case the conquering race is machine, but I think the dynamics involved will be painfully familiar.

But I don't think that's the most interesting social theme in the book, at least not to me. The machines in The Robots of Gotham are gendered. There are male and female robots, and they are born with a powerful drive to reproduce. What does it mean to be part of a wholly new race that is discovering gender politics for the first time? If the ability to be transgender is part of your programming, does gender even exist?

These are very valid questions, some of which are already being asked today about people, of course. I find it fascinating to mirror that conversation in a different space, among machines, to see if we're comfortable with the same answers.

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

Todd:  When is it on sale?

June 19th! Here, let me write that down for you. Thanks for asking!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Robots of Gotham.

Thanks for the opportunity! Given the chance, I'd like to quote from one of my other favorite robot characters, Paul the Pirate, a Jamaican Thought Machine who blogs about politics. In Chapter Two he shares his thoughts on the origin of the war with America, and he's much more clear-eyed than others. Here's Paul. (Warning for language -- Paul is something of a potty-mouth.)
In April 2080, with American alliances in tatters, the fascist machine regimes of Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Panama banded together to form the SCC—the San Cristobal Coalition. The SCC stoked the flames of suspicion against America, and powerful interests backed their accusations. Diplomatic solutions failed, and on October 20, 2080, the SCC invaded Manhattan.

I was on vacation in Mexico when it happened, and like the rest of the world, I watched the invasion of America in real time. No one had ever seen anything like the war machines that emerged out of the Atlantic to terrorize the financial capital of the world. Manhattan fell in less than twelve hours. The SCC spread rapidly across the Eastern seaboard, quickly retooling device factories in New York City to manufacture huge war machines. From there, the Robots of Gotham spilled across the eastern half of the United States, and it looked like nothing could stop them.

But damn, man. Somehow America _did_ stop them. They did it the old-fashioned way, with bloody sacrifice and sheer guts and willpower. And they did it with massive war machines of their own, operated by recklessly brave pilots. They did it in the fields of Iowa, and the streets of Atlanta, and the swamps of Louisiana, wherever the fuck those are. At horrific cost and with peerless determination, America fought the invaders to a standstill, until the Memphis Ceasefire in December 2082 finally brought the bloody war to an end.

TQWhat's next?

Todd:  I am hard at work on the second book with the same setting, THE GHOSTS OF NAVY PIER. And who knows, maybe some short stories.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Todd:  Thank you for having me!

The Robots of Gotham
John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 19, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 688 pages

A thrilling adventure in a world one step away from total subjugation by machines.

After long years of war, the United States has sued for peace, yielding to a brutal coalition of nations ruled by fascist machines. One quarter of the country is under foreign occupation. Manhattan has been annexed by a weird robot monarchy, and in Tennessee, a permanent peace is being delicately negotiated between the battered remnants of the U.S. government and an envoy of implacable machines.

Canadian businessman Barry Simcoe arrives in occupied Chicago days before his hotel is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the aftermath, he meets a dedicated Russian medic with the occupying army, and 19 Black Winter, a badly damaged robot. Together they stumble on a machine conspiracy to unleash a horrific plague—and learn that the fabled American resistance is not as extinct as everyone believes. Simcoe races against time to prevent the extermination of all life on the continent . . . and uncover a secret that America’s machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.

About Todd

Todd McAulty grew up in Nova Scotia. He was a manager at the start-up that created Internet Explorer, and currently works at a machine learning company in Chicago. This is his first novel.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Interview with Michael Rutger, author of The Anomaly

Please welcome Michael Rutger to The Qwillery, as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Anomaly is published on June 19th by Grand Central Publishing.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Michael a Happy Publication Day!

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

Michael:  I moved around the world a lot when I was a young kid, because of my father’s job (he was an academic). My mother had taught me to read by the time I was four, partly as a way of keeping me occupied, I suspect — and so I always read a lot. When I was in my early teens I started writing a kids’ adventure story based on a series of books I’d read and re-read many times. I discovered that writing the beginning of a story is fun and pretty easy, but then it gets much harder. That hasn’t changed.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Michael:  A little of both. I have sketched out whole stories — though rarely — and I do plot sections sometimes. But usually I start off just with the underlying ideas, characters, and some sense of where I’m headed… and let it evolve from there. THE ANOMALY was a little different because it’s tightly structured in the second half, and so a natural-born hybrid had to tilt a little more toward plotter on this occasion.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about novel writing?

Michael:  Working out a compelling plot is always challenging, but the first hard thing is choosing what to write. Ideas come easily. The challenge is deciding which of them is worth the commitment of a year of your life, and which truly has the potential to expand from being a simple “What if?” or question mark in your head into something that will provide a strong enough scaffold for a narrative experience that will engage the reader throughout an entire book.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does writing for film affect (or not) your novel writing?

Michael:  Like all writers, I’m influenced by other writers. You start off trying to emulate the writers you enjoy — and trying to recreate the experience they give you in their books — even if only unconsciously. After a while you realize you’ve left that behind and are trying to find and then refine your own voice, your own take on the world and the stories to be found in it. Writing for film yields a helpfully different perspective on the process. In prose you can simply tell people things, in words. In movies and TV, it’s much better to show them. Bringing a little of that to novels, by presenting the reader with images and scenes and letting them do the work of interpreting what’s going on, and what it says about the characters, can make a book a more visceral and immersive experience.

TQDescribe The Anomaly in 140 characters or less.

Michael:  Can I go with the new 280 character limit?

“YouTube archeologist Nolan Moore and his team set out to retrace the steps of an explorer who claimed to discover a mysterious cavern in the Grand Canyon. For once, he may have actually found what he seeks… but also possibly the end of the world.”

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

Michael:  Every single thing that is presented as fact, is a fact. The history, the back story, the myths and legends… it’s all true. The fun for me, and the challenge, was taking all that true stuff and making something quite untrue out of it — while remaining credible.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Anomaly?

Michael:  I’ve been fascinated by unsolved mysteries and strange things about the world and pre-history my whole life. With THE ANOMALY, I felt that I’d finally found a way of taking that obsession into novel form. When I realized this, and the character of Nolan Moore appeared in my head, I knew I’d found what I’d wanted to write.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Anomaly?

Michael:  Quite by accident, I came upon the story of an explorer who claimed to have found something buried deep in the Grand Canyon. After that I nosed around, trying to find out anything that had been found to confirm it… and found nothing. So instead I researched local Native American myths, tied it with things I already knew about speculative areas in American history, and mixed it all together into something strange and different…

TQ Please tell us about the cover for The Anomaly.

Michael:  THE ANOMALY is about a very old mystery, buried deep in a cave system. The cover image captures that well… evoking the locale and the intrigue, without giving anything away.

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

Michael:  THE ANOMALY is told in a first person voice—Nolan Moore, the central character. He was the easiest character to write, because I really enjoy writing in the first person: it makes it feel as if you’re telling a story to someone sitting right there in front of you. That also made him the hardest person to write, however, because he has to convey a universe through his description of events and his internal dialog — evoking not only his own story and feelings, but those of all the other characters.

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


Question: I love THE ANOMALY, its characters and the way it prizes open the door on our understanding of the world, showing us some of the mysteries lurking underneath. Will there be any more like it???

Answer: Yes ;-)

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

Michael:  Hard for me to choose a favorite quote from my own writing, so instead I’ll give you the two epigraphs I used for the first part of the novel, which I think capture some of that the book is about…

It’s the loss of the Grail that sets us out
on the Quest, not the finding.
Martin Shaw
The Snowy Tower

5. The Lord saw that the wickedness
of man was great in the earth,
and that every intention of the thoughts
of his heart was only evil continually.
— Genesis,Chapter 6

TQWhat’s next?

Michael:  At the moment I’m halfway through a sequel to THE ANOMALY, and also working with a company in Hollywood who are aiming to bring THE ANOMALY to the big screen… fingers crossed.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Michael:  A huge pleasure — thank you for having me!

The Anomaly
Grand Central Publishing, June 19, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

“A taut, take-no-prisoners thriller, lean and fast as an express train.”–Preston & Child, #1 New York Times bestselling authors

Not all secrets are meant to be found.

If Indiana Jones lived in the X-Files era, he might bear at least a passing resemblance to Nolan Moore — a rogue archaeologist hosting a documentary series derisively dismissed by the “real” experts, but beloved of conspiracy theorists.

Nolan sets out to retrace the steps of an explorer from 1909 who claimed to have discovered a mysterious cavern high up in the ancient rock of the Grand Canyon. And, for once, he may have actually found what he seeks. Then the trip takes a nasty turn, and the cave begins turning against them in mysterious ways.

Nolan’s story becomes one of survival against seemingly impossible odds. The only way out is to answer a series of intriguing questions: What is this strange cave? How has it remained hidden for so long? And what secret does it conceal that made its last visitors attempt to seal it forever?

About Michael

Michael Rutger is a screenwriter whose work has been optioned by major Hollywood studios. He lives in California with his wife and son.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The View From Monday - June 18, 2018

Happy Monday!

There are 4 debuts this week:

The Grey Bastards (The Lot Lands 1) by Jonathan French;

The Robots of Gotham by Todd McAulty;

Witchmark by C.L. Polk;


The Anomaly by Michael Rutger.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (The Risen Kingdoms 1) by Curtis Craddock is out in Trade Paperback;

The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey;

Dance of the Heart (Muse Chronicles 6) by Lisa Kessler;

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle 2) by Jay Kristoff is out in Trade Paperback;

Arabella and the Battle of Venus (The Adventures of Arabella Ashby 2) by David D. Levine is out in Trade Paperback;


Vampire's Faith (Dark Protectors 8) by Rebecca Zanetti.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.

June 17, 2018
Blue Shift Jane O'Reilly SF/SO/AC/SFR - Second Species Trilogy 1

June 18, 2018
Night Myst (e)(ri) Yasmine Galenorn PNR - Indigo Court 1
Dance of the Heart (e) Lisa Kessler PNR - Muse Chronicles 6
Hunter's Pride (e) Shiloh Walker PNR - Hunter's World

June 19, 2018
The Completionist Siobhan Adcock LF
The Skaar Invasion Terry Brooks F - The Fall of Shannara 2
Thicker Than Water Mike Carey SupTh/Occ/Sup/GH/Th - Felix Castor 4
An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (h2tp) Curtis Craddock F/Gaslamp/SP - The Risen Kingdoms 1
It Will All Hurt Farel Dalrymple F
Curse of the Black Swan (e) Alyssa Day PNR - League of the Black Swan 2
The Grey Bastards (D) Jonathan French F/DF - The Lot Lands 1
Ghost Frequencies Gary Gibson SF/F - Newcon Press Novellas Set 4 1
The Synapse Sequence Daniel Godfrey SF
The Mermaid Christina Henry HistF/FairyT/FolkT/LM/CW
The Thousand Year Beach TOBI Hirotaka
Matt Treyvaud (Tr)
SF - The Thousand Year Beach
The Privilege of Peace Tanya Huff SF/HSF - Peacekeeper 3
The Reign of the Departed Greg Keyes CF/F - The High and Faraway 1
Godsgrave (h2tp) Jay Kristoff F - The Nevernight Chronicle 2
Arabella and the Battle of Venus (h2tp) David D. Levine SF/SP - The Adventures of Arabella Ashby 2
The Twilight Herald Tom Lloyd F - The Twilight Reign 2
The Stormcaller: Collector's Tenth Anniversary Limited Edition Tom Lloyd F - The Twilight Reign 1
Black Mad Wheel (h2tp) Josh Malerman Fict
The Robots of Gotham (D) Todd McAulty SF
Stray Magic (e) Kelly Meding PNR - Strays 1
Outcasts of Order L. E. Modesitt, Jr. F - Saga of Recluce 20
Witchmark (D) C. L. Polk F/Gaslamp/RF
The Anomaly (D) Michael Rutger Sus/PsyTh/FairyT/FolkT/LM
Best of British Science Fiction 2017 Donna Scott (Ed) SF - Anthology
Jurassic, Florida (e) Hunter Shea H - Hunter Shea: One Size Eats All 1
Storm Glass Jeff Wheeler F - The Harbinger Series 1
Tell the Machine Goodnight Katie Williams CoA/FL/LF
Embracing The Demon Beth Woodward DF/SupTh/P/H - Dale Highland 2
Vampire's Faith Rebecca Zanetti PNR - Dark Protectors 8

June 20, 2018
Shattered Blades (e) Marie Brennan F - Born to the Blade Season 1, Episode 10

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator

AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternate History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CulH - Cultural Heritage
CW - Contemporary Woman
CyP - Cyberpunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
Fict - Fiction
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
Gothic - Gothic
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humor
LC - Literary Criticism
LegalTh - Legal Thriller
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
Med - Medical
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
MU - Mash Up
NF - Near Future
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PI - Private Investigator
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PopCul - Popular Culture
Psy Th - Psychological Thriller
Rel - Religious
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SH - Superheroes
SocSci - Social Science
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
Tech - Technological
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
VisM - Visionary and Metaphysical
W - Western

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

Warframe, Volume 1 Arrives in July!


Collects issues #1-5

PORTLAND, OR, 06/14/2018 — This July, writer/Top Cow President and COO Matt Hawkins (THINK TANK), writer/editor Ryan Cady (MAGDALENA), and digital art concept/production studio Studio Hive (AMERICAN LEGENDS) will release WARFRAME, VOL. 1, collecting issues #1-5 of the Warframe online game tie-in series.

In the far future, humanity's descendants scramble to survive in a solar system rife with conflict. Only the Tenno, a faction of powerful warriors, fight to preserve peace and keep the technological masterpieces of the long-dead Orokin out of the wrong hands. But when a faction of enhanced Grineer soldiers begin to scour the Earth for a particular hidden artifact, only a lone Tenno and a blinded girl can stop them.

WARFRAME, VOL. 1 (ISBN: 978-1-5343-0512-0, Diamond code: MAY180094) will hit comics shops on Wednesday, July 25th and bookstores on Tuesday, July 31st. It can be preordered via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indiebound, and Indigo.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline Comics, Skybound Entertainment, and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit

Friday, June 15, 2018

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June Debuts

Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2018 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on June 30, 2018, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be posted.

Vote for your favorite June 2018 Debut Cover! free polls

Cover design by Brian Lemus
Cover image © Cultura Exclusive/Manuel Sulzer/Getty Images

Jacket design © Leo Nickolls Design
Jacket photograph © All Canada Photos/Alamy Stock Photo

Cover design by Adam Simpson

Cover design by Cameron Cornelius

Cover art by Mingchen Shen

Jacket design by Duncan Spilling LBBG
Jacket photograph © Larry Rostant

Cover design by Micaela Alcaino

Cover art by Micah Epstein

Cover design by Gregg Kulick
Cover image by Antarworks

Cover design by Mark Robinson

Cover art by Tommy Arnold

Cover art by Jan Weßbecher

Cover by Will Staehle

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review: Torn by Rowena Miller

Author:  Rowenna Miller
Series:  The Unraveled Kingdom 1
Publisher:  Orbit, March 20, 2018
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
List Price:  US$15.99 (print);  US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:   9780316478625 (print); 9780316478618 (eBook)

TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

In a time of revolution, everyone must take a side.

Sophie, a dressmaker and charm caster, has lifted her family out of poverty with a hard-won reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly embroidered spells. A commission from the royal family could secure her future — and thrust her into a dangerous new world.

Revolution is brewing. As Sophie’s brother, Kristos, rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement, it is only a matter of time before their fortunes collide.

When the unrest erupts into violence, she and Kristos are drawn into a deadly magical plot. Sophie is torn — between her family and her future.

Doreen’s Thoughts

Rowenna Miller does an excellent job portraying the balancing act that her protagonist, Sophie, performs between the haves and the have-nots. Seemingly based on the French Revolution, Torn focuses on a young dressmaker who also can cast spells into the clothing that she sews. As a shopkeeper, Sophie deals with the upper class and the aristocracy and employs two other shopgirls. However, her brother, Kristos, is one of the leaders of the growing disenfranchised who wish to overthrow a government that fosters such great inequities as currently exist between the rich and the poor.

Viewed as an artist for her charm skills, Sophie is invited by a member of the aristocracy to join an intellectual and artistic salon. Sophie is intrigued by the intelligent discourse and the artistic works they celebrate. She meets Theodor, who happens to be in line as an heir to the throne. She also learns more about the aristocratic world and why/how they happen to think, making her more convinced than ever to remain neutral.

To force Sophie to utilize her spell-casting skills on behalf of the revolution, the group kidnaps and threatens her brother’s life. She is forced to support a cause that she understands but does not embrace, twisting her gift to cast curses rather than positive spells. As revolutionary talk sparks into violence, Sophe is trapped with Theodor and her salon friends as the palace itself is attacked. She is forced once again to choose between continuing to help the revolutionaries or confessing to her new love and endangering her brother’s life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially the touch of magic added by the spell-casting through sewing. Miller does a terrific job of making each side in the conflict equally compelling and sympathetic, leading the reader to understand Sophie’s reluctance to take a position. The characters were well written, and the twist at the end is perfectly believable. Torn is a strong beginning to The Unraveled Kingdom Trilogy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Interview with Bethany C. Morrow, author of MEM

Please welcome Bethany C. Morrow to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. MEM was published on May 22, 2018 by The Unnamed Press.

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

Bethany:  The first thing I remember having written (versus literally remembering the writing of it) was what we'd call a piece of flash fiction in (I think) second grade, about a deer named Faline, which I thought was the most beautiful name ever and I have no memory of what the story was about but my teacher taped it to my desk for Back To School night, and I thought, "I've made it."

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Bethany:  I'm definitely a plotser. Typically I know the first line, the inciting incident, the first half of the first act, probably, and likely, the climax before I start writing. Once I get to the end of what I know - in a skeletal way, not a chapter-by-chapter plotted ahead of time way - then I stop, plot organically based on how the first act has developed, again in a skeletal way, and start from the beginning, reading and continuing drafting.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Bethany:  Getting over the hump and actually writing, lol. It's so lovely to have just written or to be energized to write... and then you actually have to do it. Repeatedly. And in particular once the third act starts, it's very much a feeling of, "Get this out of me!" Like labor. I'm so done at that point. Just want it to be OUT.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Bethany:  Music, music, music. I write with music, I muse to music, it's everything. It's the way I establish the tone of the story I want to write. I have to find the sound that captures what I'm trying to portray. James Horner, Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer, Koda, playlists of ambient post-rock, chill-step, etc.

TQDescribe MEM in 140 characters or less.

Bethany:  In an alternate 1920s Montreal, scientists can extract memories. Elsie is one such Mem, but the first sentient of her kind. (I think the conflict is inherent in that description, so I just made the cut!)

TQWhat appeals to you about writing speculative fiction?

Bethany:  What I love about speculative fiction is how easily the truth about life comes through when you try to talk about worlds that aren't.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for MEM?

Bethany:  I spent a lot of time reading online, finding resources like the Art Deco Society of Montreal or the Quebec Family History Society, and then cross-referencing, studying pictures in online collections through museums and universities, always looking for a source that went into slightly more detail than the last one. What is infinitely frustrating about historical research - at least in my experience - is how readily available information seems once you've located it once. Like suddenly, that information is everywhere, despite how long it took you to find it.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for MEM.

Bethany:  Jaya Nicely is responsible for the cover, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I didn't see multiple concepts and choose between them, I saw the vault door (which is something I had on my pinterest board for the project, but had never imagined as the cover) and immediately it was haunting, sad, beautiful, everything that I felt set the perfect tone for beginning the story. She nailed it.

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

Bethany:  I think Elsie must've been the easiest character to write, because I was in her head. Nurse Ettie too, maybe, because she's almost like a non-Mem version of Elsie. The most difficult character to write was Dolores, firstly because I didn't originally know we'd spend time with her, and then because she wasn't ordinary, or the logical conclusion of everything we come to know about Sources, so it took a while to find her in a way that showed that individualness.

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

Bethany:  I wish people asked about the story of Dolores, the Source. But I won't answer it now.

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


"When I lost hope that she could live with the loss, I began to wonder whether she could forget, whether I could help her to."
   From there, I knew the rest. The wonderings of a brilliant man had already yielded so great a number of impossible feats, to the good of friends and strangers alike.

TQWhat's next?

Bethany:  Next is a young adult contemporary fantasy novel about literally magical Black girls, and the beauty and strength of their sisterhood.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Unnamed Press, May 22, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 192 pages

MEM is a rare novel, a small book carrying very big ideas, the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete.

The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source — zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault.

What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heart-breaking novel in the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Debut novelist Bethany Morrow has created an allegory for our own time, exploring profound questions of ownership, and how they relate to identity, memory and history, all in the shadows of Montreal’s now forgotten slave trade.

About Bethany

A California native, Bethany C. Morrow spent six years living in Montreal, Quebec. Her speculative literary fiction uses a focus on character and language to engage with, comment on and investigate worlds not unlike our own. MEM is her debut novel. She currently resides in upstate New York.

Website   ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @BCMorrow

Nintendo at E3 2018

Nintendo Smashes E3 with 2018 Lineup, Details About Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Fortnite Arrives Today on Nintendo Switch; New Super Smash Bros., Pokémon Games and Many More All Launching This Year

LOS ANGELES, June 12, 2018 – Nintendo opened its activities for the annual E3 2018 video game trade show with a bang – and a smash. Showing world-first footage of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo shared details about the latest entry in a series with sales of more than 40 million units worldwide. A new game built for the Nintendo Switch system, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lets up to eight players square off in action-packed battles that are all about smashing beloved video game characters off the screen. Legendary game worlds and fighters collide in the ultimate showdown at E3 2018, which runs through June 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Nintendo made its announcements during its Nintendo Direct: E3 2018 video presentation, which can be viewed at

September Mourning Coming In January 2019


PORTLAND, OR, 06/12/2018 — Bestselling writers David Hine, Mariah McCourt (editor of Emily the Strange, The Last Unicorn), and metal singer/songwriter sensation Emily Lazar (aka: September Mourning) team up with artist Tina Valentino to tell the story of a human grim reaper hybrid and her destiny in SEPTEMBER MOURNING. Issues #1-4 of the ongoing series, which first launched through Kickstarter, will be collected into trade paperback and available from Image/Top Cow Productions this January. In conjunction with the release of this book, September Mourning will be releasing new music via Sumerian Records, which will bring further life to the storyline.

Set in a world where Reapers prey on the souls of the living, imprisoning them in the shadow-land of Mortem, there is one last hope for humanity. Her name is September Mourning. Half human, half Reaper, she takes the souls of the wicked so the innocent can live again. September has joined forces with a woman who was murdered and restored to life, and a young blind girl who sees only the dead. Together, as The Trinity, they set out to fulfill a prophecy that will finally free all the lost souls who are trapped in Mortem.

SEPTEMBER MOURNING, VOL. 1 (ISBN: 978-1-5343-1030-8) hits comic shops on Wednesday, January 16th and bookstores on Tuesday, January 22nd.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline Comics, Skybound Entertainment, and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit

Cemetery Beach Coming in September


PORTLAND, OR, 06/12/2018 — Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, the creators of the critically acclaimed TREES (currently being adapted for television), bring a high-speed, mind-bending new series in CEMETERY BEACH—launching this September.​

“​Jason wanted to do an action book, so I wrote something that starts with a conversation in an interrogation room, ignites four pages later, and doesn't stop until the end of the final issue—which he's drawing right now, so when issue #1 comes out, the whole series will be in the can,” said Ellis. “It might be the most relentless action book I've ever written.”

In CEMETERY BEACH, a professional pathfinder, his only ally a disaffected young murderess, breaks out of a torture cell in pursuit of his worst extraction scenario ever: escaping on foot across a sprawling and secret off-world colony established a hundred years ago and filled with generations of lunatics.

Howard added: “In Cemetery Beach, Warren wrote the perfect book for me as an artist. It's an insane world filled with old future tech, cool characters, big explosions, and enough heart to make you care. It's the kind of comics I love reading and REALLY love drawing.”

CEMETERY BEACH #1 (Diamond Code JUL180123) hits stores on Wednesday, September 12th. The final order cutoff for retailers is Monday, August 20th.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline Comics, Skybound Entertainment, and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit