Thursday, April 27, 2017

Interview with Antonia Honeywell, author of The Ship


Please welcome Antonia Honeywell to The Qwillery. The Ship was published on April 25th by Orbit Books.







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

Antonia:  Hello! Thank you so much for inviting me.

I wrote my first novel when I was eight – it was a wet playtime at my primary school and we weren’t allowed to play outside. A group of classmates were playing snakes and ladders. I think I’d have liked to join in, but I didn’t make friends easily, and instead I found myself writing the story of a game of Snakes and Ladders from the point of view of one of the counters. I kept writing because, apart from reading, it was the thing I enjoyed doing most – I kept diaries, wrote long letters, and stories which I kept secret. I’m a teacher by training – the intention was to earn my living by teaching until I could earn it by writing. But I fell in love with teaching – I still think it’s one of the hardest and most valuable jobs anyone can do – and it took me over a decade to start working seriously on a novel, and another decade (and more novels) to get published.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Antonia:  I’m a panster first-drafter. It takes that roller-coaster ride of just letting the words come to work out what I’m writing about, where the focus of the story lies, what potential it has. It’s safe to say that my first drafts are largely unreadable! But they give me the material to begin crafting a working draft, and then the plotter in me takes over.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Antonia:  Finding the time. I was a full-time teacher when I began, running the English department of a huge comprehensive in Inner London. Then I married and began having children, which was just as time-consuming. There are always things that need doing more than my writing, and it’s not always easy to put my work first. But I’m well-organised and determined, which helps. I have writer friends who tell me that they have acres of time and still struggle, so I’m not sure there are any easy answers.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Antonia:  My reading, mostly. I’ve always read a lot – we had a village library close to my school, and as my parents both worked, I spent hours there, reading voraciously and indiscriminately. When they divorced, my life was torn apart, but the libraries in the different schools and towns gave me places I felt at home in. Opening the cover of a book is like unlocking an escape hatch into a new world. When I began to write, I realized how fine is the line between escape and self-discovery. No matter how unfamiliar or strange the fictional world, a reader is always searching for herself in it. I think that’s true of writers, too.



TQDescribe The Ship in 140 characters or less.

Antonia:  A father tries to save his child from a man-made apocalypse, and the child realizes that the truth is an ugly, complicated beast from which she must save herself.



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

Antonia:  It’s a book about faith, and about belief. And about the stories we tell ourselves in order to justify the actions we’ve taken, or that we long to take.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Ship? What appealed to you about writing a post-apocalyptic novel?

Antonia:  When we write about the future, we’re really writing about our fears for the present. That’s as true of George Orwell and Margaret Atwood as it is for me. For me, the fear for the future doesn’t lie in any one specific threat. Climate change, global warming, religious extremism – they’re all worrying, but hanging over these real and tangible concerns is a malaise that’s allowing a particular kind of political bullying to take the place of genuine debate. In the UK, for example, we currently have no effective opposition party. This means that initiatives are being implemented without being properly explored and examined. We need the friction of differing opinions to polish and refine our ideas, wherever we place ourselves on the political spectrum. But increasingly, I find people wanting to escape from the news, to create their own bubbles in which they interact only with people who agree with them and ignore, or dismiss, those who don’t. We’re beginning to write our own news, instead of studying the reality. The Ship is a fictional exploration of that tendency.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ship?

Antonia:  Oh, so much – everything from how much longer our oil supplies will hold out to the cubic footage of storage required for enough tinned tuna to keep five hundred people in protein for twenty years. I studied preppers and religious cults – opposite but strangely similar reactions to the prospect of the end of civilization. I studied the construction and maintenance of cruise ships. And I found a great deal of material by simply reading the papers. The interesting thing is how little of this concrete research made it into the final draft of the story. It forms a bedrock, but doesn’t appear on the surface.



TQPlease tell us about The Ship's cover.

Antonia:  I love the US cover. It’s mysterious and atmospheric, with that incredible flash of shocking pink. The hardback beneath the dustjacket is the same bright pink, which is a touch of genius – the very book design suggests hope in a seemingly hopeless universe.



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

Antonia:  Once I’d discovered Lalla, she became quite easy to write. At first, I wanted readers to love her as much as I do. But once I let go of that notion and allowed her to be what she is - a teenager who’s always had whatever she’s needed, and who has been the centre and sun of her parents’ existence since the day she was born – she lived and breathed quite naturally. Michael was harder. It would have been easy to write him as the tyrannical dictator he is, but I wanted to understand why people follow him and revere him as they do. Many speculative/futuristic novels take place in a society in which the good and bad are crystal clear – we know who are the terrorists and who the freedom fighters. And I love reading them. But I wanted Michael to exist in the muddier waters of intention and effect, and for Lalla to show the price that we pay for our confusion.



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

Antonia:  We’re living in a world in which the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Being rich is becoming confused with moral worth, and more and more doors are being closed to children whose parents can’t pay for them to be opened. And this worries me, because eventually choices will become the preserve of the wealthy, while the poor will do what they must to survive. This puts the future into the hands of the people who can pay for it, with no interrogation or exploration of what that future looks like. In The Ship, the collapse of society has made Michael Paul incredibly wealthy, and he is free to do exactly as he wants with that wealth. The only person free to question him and his motives is the reader.



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

Antonia:

Q: How can you love such an ungrateful little toad as Lalla Paul, for whom the entire world of The Ship was created?

A: How can you do anything but love someone who has the courage to speak up for the sun in a world illuminated only by electric light?



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

Antonia:  At the beginning, Lalla asks her parents, ‘If the ship is real, why don’t we just get on it?’ I think of this whenever someone presents a simple solution (“Build a wall!” “Finish the relationship!” “Play together nicely!”) to a complicated situation. Ideas are wonderful, and the start to everything, but every solution contains problems of its own. I also enjoy Lalla thinking of herself as ‘a bubbling stream, lost in a ocean of salt.’ So often, the quiet, fresh, life-sustaining voices are drowned out by the clamour and glitter of those who think they have all the answers. But no one has all the answers. That’s why we need to listen more than we talk.



TQWhat's next?

Antonia:  The Ship was sold on a one-book deal, and my subsequent writing occupies a different universe, so the path ahead is neither clear nor smooth. But it’s a rare writer who knows exactly what’s coming next – all I can do is keep writing, and writing, and writing. That’s what makes a writer, whatever stage they are at in their career.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Antonia:  Thank you so very much for having me; it’s been a pleasure.





The Ship
Orbit, April 25, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

"Powerful, haunting, and beautiful," (M. R. Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts) The Ship is a luminous and genre-defying debut novel that follows a young woman's coming of age in a world where she has no future.

London burned for three weeks. And then it got worse...

Young, naive Lalla has grown up isolated in her parents' apartment, sheltered from the chaos amid the ruins of civilization. But things are getting more dangerous outside. People are killing each other for husks of bread, and the police are detaining anyone without an identification card. On her sixteenth birthday, Lalla's father decides it's time to use their escape route--a ship he's built that is only big enough to save five hundred people.

But the utopia her father has created isn't everything it appears. There's more food than anyone can eat, but nothing grows; more clothes than anyone can wear, but no way to mend them; and no-one can tell her where they are going.





About Antonia

Antonia Honeywell studied English at Manchester University and worked at the Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums in London, running creative writing workshops and education programmes for children, before training as a teacher. During her ten years teaching English, drama and film studies, she wrote a musical, and a play which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival. She has four young children and lives in Buckinghamshire. The Ship is her first novel.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @antonia_writes


The New Adventures of Aladdin - VOD May 16


THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ALADDIN

From Under the Milky Way - opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, May 16th  on all major platforms including: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

The film has both dubbed English and French language versions (with English subtitles).

On Christmas’ eve, Sam and his best friend Khalid both dress up as Santa Claus to steal everything they can at their local department store. Quickly, Sam is stopped by a group of children asking for a story... the story of Aladdin. Or his own version of it. In Aladdin’s shoes, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him to the heart of the city of Baghdad, a place of infinite wonders.

Unfortunately, behind the picture-perfect setting, people are suffering from the tyranny of the terrible Vizir, known for his ferocity and questionable breath. Helped by his Genie, will the young thief Aladdin be able to thwart the evil plans of Vizir, save Khalid and conquer the heart of the princess Shallia?

McDonald’s Happy Meals “Power Up” with Toys Based on Mario and Friends Through May 22nd


Press Release


McDonald’s Happy Meals “Power Up” with Toys Based on Mario and Friends

Purchase a Happy Meal for the Chance to Enter to Win a Nintendo Switch System

Nintendo fans will want to collect each of the eight toys, which include Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, Yoshi, Invincible Mario, a Red Koopa Shell and 1-Up Mushroom. Each one of the toys has a special function, like a translucent Mario that lights up in different colors. (Graphic: Business Wire)
REDMOND, Wash.--April 26, 2017 (BUSINESS WIRE)--Nintendo is partnering with McDonald’s to bring some of its most famous characters from the Mushroom Kingdom to Happy Meals everywhere. Starting today and running through May 22, anyone who purchases a Happy Meal at participating McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S. will receive one of eight fun toys based on Super Mario characters. These classic and instantly recognizable characters are also featured in the upcoming Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game for Nintendo’s newest system, Nintendo Switch.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Interview with T. M. Lakomy, author of The Shadow Crucible


Please welcome T. M. Lakomy to The Qwillery. The Shadow Crucible was published on April 25th by SelectBooks.







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

T. M.:  I started writing when I was 13, but I never took it seriously enough. I wrote little stories, and snippets of larger ones that I never finished. It was when I enrolled at university that I began to give it proper thought, especially after delving into fascinating topics such as shamanism and the Archaeology of the North (Viking Age).

I write because culturally, storytelling is an important piece of our heritage. Our morals, ethics and beliefs are woven through tales often dark and mysterious conveying the spiritual wisdom of our people and our collective memories. Since we didn’t really have much of a recorded history, oral traditions prevailed and were the backbone of our society. So, storytelling is in my blood and an important component of my identity.

There is much I would love to share with the world, and the best vehicle for my messages is fantasy, new ideas and stimulating thoughts are best spread through the conduit of storytelling and allegories. I have also a very different take on Fantasy that I believe would prove to be interesting to people.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

T. M.:  I would say I am a hybrid, it depends on the flow of the story and the themes I am exploring. At times, there is little need to plot, as the story flows naturally, chartering it’s own course, and at other times there is need for careful scheming as I wish to establish a certain trajectory in the story.

I suppose it is about the destination of the story and the best manner of achieving it, but there are set rules with me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

T. M.:  The most difficult thing is the cultural context. Having grown up in North Africa as a tribal native, there is a dark and esoteric undertone to my writings. There is a psychological quest that I seek to assuage through discovering the darker aspects of our imagination and I am careful not to come across the wrong way with the audience. There are many social issues that I explore in my writing and because my part of the world isn’t really explored, there is much room for misinterpretation.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

T. M.:  My experiences as a child influenced my writing. I grew up between two worlds and felt part of both at times and yet neither. Folklore plays a role in my inspiration and my Slavic maternal grandmother was full of old myths of Eastern Europe, that I prized. The monsters, demons and spiritual warriors of the Amazigh culture also influenced my writing; I grew up believing in them and they fascinated me.

I am very much influenced by the darker aspects of the human experience; wars, disasters, poverty, sorrows but also hope. There is a yearning in my writing to find answers to the world and what lies beyond.



TQDescribe The Shadow Crucible in 140 characters or less.

T. M.:  The novel is about a Seer who discovers the ruler of the world is an evil deity, trading in human souls so she seeks to tear down the veil and escape the world.



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

T. M.:  The Shadow Crucible explores the theme of Apotheosis, basing it on genuine theories around the Threefold death. Many deities and humans that achieved a status of godhead (glance at religions) went through some form of death initiation, returning as a god. The shamanistic transformations in the novel are not fantasy but rather detailed accounts given by Siberian shamans as they were initiated. So, there is a mixture of gnostic texts and archaeology.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Shadow Crucible? What appeals to you about writing a Dark Fantasy?

T. M.:  The Characters in the novel have been germinating in my mind for years. I have always loved Dark Fantasy as it is somehow more raw and genuine, exploring the darker aspects of our imagination and nature thus making it more real and closer to our reality in some strange way.
My archaeological studies prompted my interests, then my fascination with apotheosis and Gnosticism. I have always been an avid explorer, desiring nothing more but to discover the origins our belief systems and mythology.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Shadow Crucible?

T. M.:  It was mostly re reading the banned gospels and ascertaining whether there is a salient thread connecting them all, I intend to be thought provoking so I leveraged many notions that are deemed controversial.



TQPlease tell us about The Shadow Crucible's cover.

T. M.:  I discussed what I wanted the cover to look like with my publisher. I dreamed about it one night, I saw what the cover was intended to look like. In the dream there was one of the character I had imagined, and he having a full blown discussion with me over it.

A crucible is where you mix and melt metals together, and on an alchemical level it’s about achieving something new through the mingling of numerous elements. I have mingled many different esoteric religious beliefs into my novel as well as pagan traditions and sheer fantasy; the combination achieves a fresher outlook on human spirituality and folklore.



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

T. M.:  The easiest character to write was the blind god Samael, I had a fixed idea about what he was and what he stood for, and exactly what he intended to do with the world. I based him on the Samael of the Nag Hammadi (Dead sea scrolls). He is the embodiment of evil, the true absence of light, the one who intends to dethrone the Goddess/God and continue enslaving humanity by creating false religions and waging war against one another.

The most difficult character to write was Estella; there are numerous facets to her personality and she is often confused as to where she stands on the chessboard of the gods. She is very human; loves life and its delights, not particularly interested in her gift or being part of the effort to stop Samael or Lucifer’s machinations. She is more interested in her people, those gifted by the older pagan gods, yet feels it is her duty to stand up to the Templar and the church because of her position. Her beliefs change a lot and her encounter with Lucifer furthers her confusion and fear of the world. She is a reluctant heroine, determined to do things on her own terms and refusing to “save the world” the way the Templar Mikhail wants.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Shadow Crucible?

T. M.:  I explore the topic of blind dogma a lot throughout the novel, the dogmatic aspect of people and religions claiming the monopoly on god and claiming to be his mouthpiece. And also, the validity of old religions and the similarities between all of them and their syncretism. I have explored social issues more in my second novel which I am polishing up.



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

T. M.:

“Do you believe in any of the ideology that the main protagonist subscribes to?”

The answer is yes: I do believe a lot of Estella’s worldview, question remains what it exactly is she truly believes and whether it comes out clearly in the story.



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

T. M.:

1)  The wraiths clamoured and filled the king’s head with their ghastly whispers, and his will was threadbare and like a glass bauble, frail and liable to splinter into a million pieces. Alina was at his side with a smile that could curdle blood, pushing into a sharpened silver dagger into his hands. The king did not recoil from the beast’s touch this time.

“We own you, today and yesterday, tomorrow and for infinity, body and soul, blood and bone, mind and dreams” it hissed.

2)  “To the everlasting miracles!” he cried out softly, and his countenance darkened briefly like a passing storm. “You worship the god of lies, whether in churches or as heretics hidden in secret covens. And you war against each other, proclaiming the other one damned. But you are all lost, for the many houses of human religion are held by the string of the same master puppeteer.” His face held bleak judgement.



TQWhat's next?

T. M.:  What’s next is polishing up my second novel, it has more of a horror element in it, it deals more with magical religious cults and eugenics in magic, again I draw on real things and couch them in Fantasy.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

T. M.:  You are very welcome.





The Shadow Crucible
The Blind God 1
SelectBooks, April 25, 2017
Trade Paperback, 400 pages

In a world where angels, demons, and gods fight over the possession of mortal souls, two conflicted pawns are ensnared in a cruel game. The enigmatic seer Estella finds herself thrown together with Count Mikhail, a dogmatic Templar dedicated to subjugating her kind. But when a corrupted cardinal and puppet king begin a systematic genocide of her people, the two become unlikely allies.

Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All organized religions are shops orchestrated to consume mankind. Every deity, religion, and spiritual guide has been corrupted, and each claims to have the monopoly on truth and salvation.

In a perilous game where the truth is distorted and meddling ancient deities converge to partake of the unseen battle, Estella unwittingly finds herself hunted by Lucifer. Traversing the edge of hell’s precipice, Estella and Mikhail are reduced to mere instruments. Their only means to overcome is through courting the Threefold Death, the ancient ritual of apotheosis—of man becoming God.

The Shadow Crucible is a gripping epic set in medieval England where the struggle for redemption is crushed by the powers of evil. Tamara Lakomy is a new and compelling voice in the world of dark fantasy.





About T. M. Lakomy

Tamara Lakomy is British born but grew up in North Africa during troubled times. She resides in London.

She studied archaeology and became enamoured with the shamanistic practices of indigenous people.

She is an author and poet who seeks to challenge our notions of reality, and see life with a different perspective.

She works in East Africa with indigenous tribes studying the origins of mankind and the salient golden thread in the tapestry of humanity’s beliefs.


Facebook  ~  Twitter @shadow_crucible

Review: Skullsworn by Brian Staveley


Skullsworn
Author:  Brian Staveley
Series:  Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne World
Publisher:  Tor Books, April 25, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  US$25.99 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780765389879 (print); 9780765389893 (eBook)

Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess-assassin for the God of Death.

“Brilliant.” —V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author

From the award-winning epic fantasy world of The Emperor’s Blades

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love . . . and ending it on the edge of her sword.

"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades



Tracey's/Trinitytwo's Review

Pyrre Lakatur must kill seven people in fourteen days or she will die. Pyrre however, is not afraid of death- rather, she is troubled by the thought of failure. Killing seven people would be easy for Pyrre, who belongs to a religion known among the populace as Skullsworn. She is accomplished in the many ways a life can be offered to Ananshael, the God of Death. However, to become a priestess, she must adhere to certain requirements; one of which is to kill the individual she loves. Love is something Pyrre has never experienced, so in desperation she has chosen Dombâng, the city of her youth for her Trial. There she will attempt to rekindle the passion she shared with former lover, Ruc Lan Lac, who now presides as constable over the troubled city. Accompanying Pyrre as witnesses are vivacious and deadly Ela, a legendary priestess of her order, and Kossal, a gruff older priest. Her Trial hinges on the hope that Ruc will let her get close enough so they can fall in love. Then she can kill him.

Skullsworn is set in the world of Brian Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. Although Pyrre had a part to play in that trilogy, this standalone novel takes place years before those events. I like that Pyrre tells her own narrative in first person. It allows the reader to fully appreciate her history, motivations, and inner workings. She is a distinctive protagonist who is definitely more comfortable with her blades than her emotions. I particularly enjoyed her interactions with Ela, whose lessons are a delightful combination of philosophy, humor, and combat.

The city of Dombâng plays an integral role in the story. It still seethes under the martial law imposed upon it by the Annurian Empire centuries ago. Worship to its fierce gods is outlawed, but its people still believe in the forbidden sacrificial rituals, which leaves it ripe for rebellion. The deadly deltas and marshes that surround it are rife with a plethora of creatures that survive by preying on the weak. I really enjoyed the political intrigues and colorful, yet lethal locations that kept the action progressing in unexpected and exhilarating ways.

Because of her devotion to her deity, Pyrre's heartfelt journey of self-discovery is unlike any that comes to mind. Skullsworn kept me mesmerized from start to finish. I love the story's epilogue; it took me by surprise and left a smile on my face. Brian Staveley is both a master of the English language and an accomplished storyteller which makes this book a pleasure to read. Unique, bold, and exciting, Skullsworn is not to be missed.

Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment Announce All-New Live-Action Series “Titans”

Press Release


Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment Announce All-New Live-Action Series “Titans,” from Executive Producers Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, to Debut in 2018

“Young Justice: Outsiders,” the Highly Anticipated Third Season of Warner Bros. Animation’s “Young Justice,” Also to Bow Next Year

Series Will Air Exclusively on Upcoming DC-Branded Direct-to-Consumer 
Digital Service

BURBANK, Calif.--April 25, 2017 (BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment today announced that executive producers Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter are teaming up for the all-new live-action drama series “Titans,” which will debut in 2018. Additionally, Warner Bros. Animation’s “Young Justice: Outsiders,” the highly anticipated third season of the popular “Young Justice” series, is also ramping up for its first mission next year.

Both fan-driven series are in early stages of production and will air exclusively on a DC-branded direct-to-consumer digital service in 2018. Operated by Warner Bros. Digital Networks Group, the new digital service will deliver an immersive experience designed just for DC fans.

New game based on “The Pillars of the Earth” begins this summer

Press Release








New game based on “The Pillars of the Earth” begins this summer

Part 1 of Daedalic’s interactive novel to be released in August; The
game is coming to PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; The
steam page is live now


Hamburg - April 25, 2017 - German developer and publisher Daedalic Entertainment today reveals their upcoming video game “The Pillars of the Earth” is set for an August 2017 release. Available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, the game is an adaptation of the best-selling historical novel by Ken Follett, “The Pillars of the Earth”. It is a one-of-a-kind, 2D point and click adventure, a genre that Daedalic is renowned for. The development team took the 1200-pages book as the blueprint and, turned it into an interactive novel. Players follow a nonlinear storyline with 3 playable main characters. The game is going to be released as three books with seven chapters each. Players purchase a season pass when buying book 1 – Daedalic will share more information about book 2 and 3 at Gamescom this year.

This has been the biggest and most ambitious project Daedalic has embarked on to date. Matt Kempke and Kevin Mentz, both author and game designer, stated, “We took the source material completely apart and reassembled it as a unique experience for the player. We kept the core story but of course a game gives us more freedom to add decision-making and interaction.” The game provides a compelling and involving version of “The Pillars of the Earth”. Players develop a deep emotional connection with the characters while controlling their way through the dense and thrilling story. Moreover, the game lets player change events from the novel as well as influence the fates of its characters.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Interview Casey Doran, author of Jericho's Razor


Please welcome Casey Doran to The Qwillery. Jericho's Razor is published on April 25th by Polis Books.

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







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

Casey:  Thanks for having me. Writing is something that I’ve always done. I began by scribbling stories in notebooks that usually went unfinished and unread by anyone - probably because even then nobody could read my handwriting. When I was fourteen I got my very first Smith Corona typewriter for my birthday. The feel of sitting down in front of it, feeding a fresh sheet of paper and hammering away was the most awesome thing I’d experienced. I still didn't really know what the hell I was doing, but I was hooked. My family was always very supportive of my writing, but I probably owe the focus that I eventually developed towards being a writer to various teachers that I had over the years.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Casey:  I’d say that I run the gamut. Everything that I write starts out plotted, outlined and organized. My board will be filled with 3x5 cards that lay out the exact direction the book is supposed to follow. The problem is I’ve never been very good with directions and once I start typing everything takes a sharp detour into ‘How The Heck Did We Get Here?’ I’ve come to look at outlines the same way I do Christmas Decorations - Nice things that serve their purpose for awhile but will eventually be taken down without really affecting anything. I used to get frustrated when I couldn't plan a story every step of the way but I’ve learned to just let the plot develop the way it wants.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Casey:  I think just trusting the process. I still have tendencies to be something of a control freak so when a book doesn't fall in line I tend to get frustrated. Then I’ll question everything I’ve done up to that point and want to change everything. When that happens I’ve learned that the best thing to do is just walk away for while and focus on something else. Inevitably the solution will present itself. Not having everything mapped out is still intimidating but it’s like the old adage about writing being like driving in fog - you can only see a few feet ahead of you, but you can make it to end that way.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Casey:  I try to take inspiration from everything. Books. People. Music. Experiences. If I see something on the news or if a certain situation happens that makes me think about something in a certain way. The list of writers who inspire me grows every day with almost every book I read, even the ones I don’t like. Inspiration is everywhere, it’s all a matter of how you use it. Pop culture also plays heavily into my inspiration since Jericho is a movie buff and likes to crack out random quotes throughout the book.



TQDescribe Jericho's Razor in 140 characters or less.

Casey:  A new twist on a familiar story with an ending you won't see coming. (Hopefully)



TQTell us something about Jericho's Razor that is not found in the book description.

Casey:  I think Jericho’s Razor covers many themes, but mainly it’s about people who are just trying to deal with the situation they’re in while struggling to come to terms with events that have affected their lives. Nobody is an ex-commando or a psychic or in any way really exceptional. I think the overall normalcy of the characters helps make them more relatable.



TQWhat inspired you to write Jericho's Razor? Your main character is a horror writer. How much do you draw on your own experience as a writer in crafting Jericho Sands?

Casey:  The inspiration for Jericho’s Razor began with a documentary I watched about cults late one night. I started to imagine what it would be like for a person to grow up in that kind of situation. Then I imagined the worst possible exodus that person could have and how it would affect the rest of their life. Jericho was raised in a heavily abusive and isolated environment. He never had to interact with society at large until he was a teenager and by then he was notorious. His decision to write horror novels, specifically a main character who he uses an avatar for his baggage, all stems from that. It certainly explains his position on authority figures and why he can be overly confrontational to almost self-destructive degrees.

I don’t really draw much from my own experience for Jericho since we’re both so different. He’s constant chaos and movement and stimulus. He can't write without a glass of Jack to one side, a burning cigarette to the other and something loud playing in the background. He’s the embodiment of Henry Chinaski saying that nobody who could write worth a damn could ever write in peace.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Jericho's Razor?

Casey:  Since I’m still pretty much a newbie, research is one of the areas I’m still working on. I did some background into cults and police procedure but mostly I just winged it and let the book be more character driven than fact driven. As a reader I tend to skim sections that seem bogged down with extraneous information, so I tried to follow Elmore Leonard’s advice and leave those parts out.



TQPlease tell us about Jericho's Razor's cover.

Casey:  The artist responsible for that amazing cover is Adrijus Tuscia. When I first saw the proof I literally leapt out of my chair. Readers will instantly recognize the scene from which Adrijus got the inspiration for the cover and I’m sure they’ll agree that he did a phenomenal job of capturing the essence and tone of the moment.



TQIn Jericho's Razor who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Casey:  Jericho is probably the easiest character to write since he’s the driving force behind the narrative and he and I have common ground. We both have some bad habits that we let get the better of us. We’re both probably a little too sarcastic for our own good at times. I’m not sure who the hardest character to write was, but the most fun ‘character’ to write is actually Doomsday. I had no idea he would be so popular but many of the reader reviews make a point to mention him. They’ll be happy to know that Jericho’s temperamental Boxer will have an even larger role in books to come.



TQWhich question about Jericho's Razor do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Casey:

Q - Is the ending the one that you first envisioned when beginning the book?
A - Not remotely!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Jericho's Razor.

Casey:

“You didn't recognize him?”
“No. The missing head made recognition difficult.”



TQWhat's next?

Casey:  Book Two in the Jericho Sands series titled The Art of Murder will be released later this year. I feel it’s a much more complex and developed installment with higher stakes and bigger shock value. We’ll get to know the characters a little better while also saying goodbye to some of them. I’m currently finishing Book 3 in the series which will lead almost directly into Book 4.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Casey:  Thank You. The pleasure was all mine.





Jericho's Razor
Jericho Sands 1
Polis Books, April 25, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 272 pages

Horror writer Jericho Sands has had a hell of a month. He's endured a bitter break up with his punk rocker girlfriend, learned that his lungs are blacker than a coal mine, and served time in county jail for throwing a United States Congressman in a dumpster. He's heartbroken, sleep deprived and suffering from a debilitating case of writer's block

Life is about to get much worse.

Somebody from Jericho's past has left a decapitated body on his doorstep. The similarity to methods used in his books, his lack of an alibi and his proximity to the victim all lead the detectives handling the case to quickly identify Jericho as the primary suspect.

But being framed for murder is the least of Jericho's problems, because this killer is only getting started. The mysterious executioner known as 'The River City Slasher' has made it clear that more innocent people will be killed before Jericho himself is the final victim. Unable to trust the cops, Jericho is forced to examine the darkest parts of his own psyche to catch a killer, save innocent lives, and free himself from his own guilt. When Jericho finally learns the identity of the killer terrorizing the city, it shocks him in ways he was unprepared for, causing him to doubt all he holds to be true, including his own judgment and motivations.

The first book in the Jericho Sands series, Jericho's Razor heralds the debut of a phenomenal new thriller writer in Casey Doran.





Upcoming

The Art of Murder
Jericho Sands 2
Polis Books, August 15, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

Jericho Sands has spent the past nine months in Mexico getting in bar fights with shark poachers, drinking tequila and listening to wolves howl outside the walls of the beachfront shack he’s been calling home. He’s living completely ‘off the grid’; no power, no phone, nothing but nagging questions about who he is and how far he allowed himself to fall for a woman who proved to be a serial killer hell-bent on revenge. He’s struggled with his decision to let Alyssa Jagger live. Was it because he realized that revenge does not equal justice? Or did he spare her life because deep down, in a dark place he doesn’t want to explore, he allowed himself to fall for her and could not bring himself to be her executioner.

Jericho’s self-imposed exile is ended when he learns about the murder of his best friend and father figure, Gus Tanner. Gunshots fired in a dark alley force Jericho back to the city he left behind and he soon discovers that a new killer is making himself known, a daring young painter who uses the blood of his victims as the medium for his works of art. The butcher who the media dubs ‘The DaVinci of Death’, leaves his handiwork on the front door of a new art gallery and demands that it be displayed, or else more macabre works will follow. Katrina Masters, the owner of the gallery and Jericho’s old flame, refuses to be blackmailed, enraging the killer who is determined to make the town appreciate his talents. Even if it kills them all.

While facing the fallout from everything he left behind, Jericho must also deal with a new police chief with a personal vendetta, detectives who prove incapable of stopping the killer, his resurrected feelings for Katrina Masters and his conflicted feelings for Alyssa Jagger. To find the killer, Jericho must continue going down roads he does not want travel. He must commit to choices that will forever determine who he truly is. And this time, there will be going back.





About Casey

Casey Doran is the author of the Jericho Sands series (Jericho’s Razor, The Art of Murder) published by Polis Books. When not writing he enjoys running, collecting vinyl albums and watching his favorite football team loose. A California native, he now lives in Illinois with his teenage daughter and a nine pound Jack Russell possessed by the devil. He invites you to follow him on Facebook and Twitter at @cpdoran.




DQ® Brand Sends Guardians of the Galaxy Fans on a Sweet Mission - Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard Treat

Press Release


DQ® Brand Sends Guardians of the Galaxy Fans on a Sweet Mission

Brand celebrates Marvel collaboration with limited-time Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard Treat and #MissionMixtape, challenging Fans to uncover the last cassette players in the galaxy

The Dairy Queen brand is teaming up with Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated movie release, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” to launch the Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard Treat and #MissionMixtape, a Fan journey to claim an exclusive mixtape with a celestial reward.

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fasten your seatbelts. It’s time for a sweet mission that’s out of this galaxy. Today, the Dairy Queen® brand is teaming up with Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated movie release, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” to launch the Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard Treat and #MissionMixtape, a Fan journey to claim an exclusive mixtape, then search the galaxy for a cassette player to hear your celestial reward.

The Marvel collaboration allows us to bring our Fan Food philosophy to life in our new summer blockbuster Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard treat,” says Barry Westrum, executive vice president of Marketing for American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ). “In the movie, the Guardians are stronger as a team. Likewise, we teamed up with Marvel to create a Fan favorite summer Blizzard treat flavor, mixing brownie and cookie pieces to create 'Brookie' pieces and combining them with caramel, choco chunks and DQ vanilla soft-serve."

The limited-time Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard Treat is available now at participating DQ and DQ Grill & Chill® locations.

Starting April 26 at 12 p.m. CDT, Fans can claim one of 1,000 Mission Mixtapes at MissionMixtape.com. Once claimed, Fans must search the galaxy for a cassette player to play the tape and get a special code for prizes ranging from limited edition, cast-signed Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” movie posters to DQ gift cards. Each cassette tape also includes original, unofficial ‘bonus’ tracks. Fans can share their missions or follow along with #MissionMixtape.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview with Brian Staveley


Please welcome Brian Staveley to The Qwillery. Skullsworn will be published on April 25, 2017 by Tor Books.







TQWelcome back to The Qwillery again. What appeals to you about writing Epic Fantasy and are there any other genres or subgenres in which you'd like to write?

Brian:  I love the scope of epic fantasy, the chance to include the mythic, the historical, the religious, the philosophical at the same time as writing some bloody battles and backstabbing intrigue. That said, I’m writing a novella now. It’s the first time I’ve worked at that length, and the first time I’ve written anything outside the world of the Unhewn Throne, and I’m loving both the intimacy of the form and the chance to be more stylistically experimental.



TQYou've written 100s of pages in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe. What is your method for keeping your facts straight?

Brian:  I have no method. I have random documents strewn about my computer that are only vaguely organized. Occasionally I need to go back and dig around in one of my books for some obscure name or fact. I am absolutely certain that there are better, easier, more efficient ways to do this, but no one ever accused me of doing things the easy way.



TQThe 3rd novel in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy, The Last Mortal Bond, was published in 2016, with the Trade Paperback out last month. How did you feel wrapping up that Trilogy?

Brian:  Massive relief. A trilogy is sort of like a hockey game: kicking ass for two periods doesn’t matter if you let everything go to shit in the third. And I’ve read a number of trilogies in which this happens. I’m thrilled that most readers seem to have really enjoyed the conclusion to the tale, that I didn’t inadvertently ruin everything that came before.



TQBut, you've returned to that universe with Skullsworn which is a standalone novel. Where does Skullsworn fit temporally with The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire and The Last Mortal Bond?

BrianSkullsworn is set about twenty years before The Emperor’s Blades, and it takes place in a city—Dombang—that doesn’t appear (outside the occasional, casual mention) in the trilogy at all. It was great having the chance to flesh out the physical world, and also to take a look at the Annurian Empire from a different angle—many inhabitants of Dombang see the Empire as a sinister occupying force. They’re certainly no fans of the Malkeenians.



TQPlease tell us something about Skullsworn that is not found in the book description.

Brian:  The setting is more important to this book than any of the others. Dombang is a city built on a river delta, a city of a thousand bridges and canals, while the delta is teeming with deadly flora and fauna—poisonous plants, venomous snakes, jaguars, crocodiles. I wanted to create a location for this story that felt beautiful but also rotten, hot, and claustrophobic. That’s crucial to the political climate of the city, but also to Pyrre’s personal psychological journey.



TQPyrre Lakatur is the main character in Skullsworn. Where has she appeared in the trilogy?

Brian:  Pyrre is in her mid-forties in the trilogy. She’s a pretty significant secondary character—definitely a fan favorite—but I don’t want to say too much about her for people who haven’t read The Emperor’s Blades. I guess it’s obvious from Skullsworn itself that she is very, very good at killing people. It’s worth mentioning, though, that she’s quite a different character in Skullsworn than in the trilogy—younger, less certain of herself.



TQCan you tell us about the world in which Pyrre finds herself?

Brian:  As I mentioned above, Dombang is nominally part of the Annurian Empire—it was conquered two hundred years before the time in which Skullsworn is set—and yet, unlike most other parts of the empire, Dombang still seethes with revolution. Part of this is due to the city’s isolation. Even more is due to the local religion, which the Annurians have attempted to stamp out. The locals believe that a trinity of brutal, bloody gods inhabits the delta and keeps the city safe. They’re even willing to offer human sacrifice to those gods…



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Skullsworn.

Brian:  Rich Anderson’s cover art for the US version doesn’t depict a specific scene. Our goal was to capture a) something of Pyrre’s character and b) something of the city itself. We actually considered a few versions that had Pyrre front and center in the frame, but those struck me as wrong. Not only does she fight from the shadows, but she’s not emotionally ready to stand in the middle of a book cover when this story takes place. The Pyrre of the trilogy would happily recline straight across the cover, but she’s not there yet in Skullsworn.

The UK cover, by contrast, does a really nice job capturing the feel of the delta. There are no huge cliffs like that, but I like the ambience of the cover, the way it suggests a wild and dangerous world beyond the limits of Dombang.

US Cover
UK Cover


TQWill you be writing more stories set in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, perhaps bringing back another fan favorite?

Brian:  Absolutely. As soon as I wrap up this novella, I’m getting back to another in-universe stand-alone. This one involves another female character that a lot of readers have grown to love, although I don’t think she’s going to be a POV character in the novel. Stay tuned!



TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery!

Brian:  Thanks for having me!





Skullsworn
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne World
Tor Books, April 25, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess-assassin for the God of Death.

“Brilliant.” —V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author

From the award-winning epic fantasy world of The Emperor’s Blades

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love . . . and ending it on the edge of her sword.

"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades





About Brian

Author Photo: Laura Swoyer
Brian Staveley is the author of the award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decade, he began writing fiction. His first book, The Emperor’s Blades, won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, the Reddit Stabby for best debut, and scored semi-finalist spots in the Goodreads Choice Awards in two categories: epic fantasy and debut. The entire trilogy, which includes The Providence of Fire and the The Last Mortal Bond has been translated into over ten languages worldwide.

Brian lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order.


Website  ~  Twitter @BrianStaveley  ~  Facebook  ~  Google+





Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy

The Emperor's Blades
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 1
Tor Books, August 26, 2014
Trade Paperback, 496 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 14, 2014

In The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.

Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery, learning the enigmatic discipline of monks devoted to the Blank God. Their rituals hold the key to an ancient power he must master before it's too late.

An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral, elite soldiers who fly into battle on gigantic black hawks. But before he can set out to save Kaden, Valyn must survive one horrific final test.

At the heart of the empire, Minister Adare, elevated to her station by one of the emperor's final acts, is determined to prove herself to her people. But Adare also believes she knows who murdered her father, and she will stop at nothing—and risk everything—to see that justice is meted out.

See Tracey's/trinitytwo's Review here.



The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2
Tor Books, December 8, 2015
Trade Paperback, 624 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 13, 2015

The Providence of Fire is the second novel in Brian Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series

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 in 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, the 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, a 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.

See Tracey's/trinitytwo's Review here.



The Last Mortal Bond
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 3
Tor Books, March 14, 2017
Trade Paperback, 672 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 15, 2016

The trilogy that began with The Emperor's Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion, as war engulfs the Annurian Empire in Brian Staveley's The Last Mortal Bond

The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.

But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all--Valyn, Adare, and Kaden--come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.

See Tracey's/trinitytwo's Review here.



Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 1 - 3
Tor Books, Dec 6, 2016
eBook Bundle

Includes: The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire, The Last Mortal Bond, and an excerpt from the forthcoming Skullsworn

“An enchanting union of old and new, Staveley's debut will keep you turning pages late into the night.” Pierce Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising

The emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.

The Emperor’s Blades — Three siblings: Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery. An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral. At the heart of the empire, Adare hunts those who murdered her father.

The Providence of Fire — Kaden infiltrates the Annurian capital, while Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion compels the rival forces to unite. Unknown to Adare, Valyn has allied with the invading nomads.

The Last Mortal Bond — The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; capricious gods walk the earth in human guise, but the imperial siblings at the heart of it all soon understand that there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
The Emperor's Blades
The Providence of Fire
The Last Mortal Bond

Other books in the world of the Unhewn Throne
Skullsworn (forthcoming)

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.