Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - August 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 August 31, 2018, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be posted.

Vote for your favorite August 2018 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




Cover Art by Argh! Nottingham
















Jacket photo of woman by Karan Kapoor/Getty Images;
Jacket typography by Doctor Letters;
Jacket design by Steve Meditz

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Interview with Anna Smith Spark, author of the Empires of Dust Trilogy


Please welcome Anna Smith Spark to The Qwillery. The Tower of Living and Dying, Empires of Dust 2, was published on August 7th by Orbit.







TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Tower of Living and Dying (Empire of Dust 2), was published on August 7th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Court of Broken Knives (Empire of Dust 1) to now?

Anna:  Thank you so much for having me back!

Good question. The writing process for the two books was totally different. They were both incredibly interesting to write in very different ways.

The Court of Broken Knives was written in a mad blast over a year, with no thought of publication at all. It wasn’t even written as a novel, in fact – I sat down one day after not having written fiction for well over ten years, started writing and things came unstoppably vomited out. Men in a desert, heat, violence: I had no idea what was happening, who these people were, where they were, why. Then next thing I knew a dragon had turned up. It really wasn’t until I’d written maybe 50,000 words that I had any idea that I was writing a fantasy novel; I finally worked out what the book was about clearly in my mind, uh, when I came to edit it for final publication. It was a journey of discovery for me, a world to explore and a group of people revealing more of themselves as I travelled with them.

The Tower of Living and Dying was written after I had an agent and a book deal. So I was writing ‘book two of a big new fantasy trilogy’ with a plot synopsis I vaguely needed to follow, characters I knew inside out (virtually literally, in some cases), a world who’s geography I could follow on a beautiful map. There were far more limitations in some ways, I’d be cursing Sophie my amazing map artist for putting a river just here rather than a smidge more over there, suddenly things like a character’s family background, life goals, chances of surviving the next twenty pages with a head and at least one working limb, were rather more fixed. And I had my editors’ voices whispering in my ears: ‘that’s not a commercial move to do that’, ‘that’s not persuasive motivation’, ‘no no no no no we’ve literally just discussed this as a problem in book one’.

But – the confidence! The joyous pleasure of feeling ‘I’m a writer! A writer! Me! So ... I can write!’ After a lifetime of not having much confidence in myself, mental health problems, a depressing day job stretching on into eternity as my one purpose in life, suddenly I was a writer with people saying very nice things about my writing. The confidence to really explore how far I can go with it, push my prose to the limits. I knew I could do it. The Tower of Living and Dying was a sculpture in a block of marble, in there waiting for me to hack it out. Perhaps it wasn’t as exhilarating as a whole as writing The Court of Broken Knives, finding out that I could write every day as I wrote. Certainly it was more exhausting. But it felt more stable. In the end I think it produced a stronger result.

Book three, however, is bloody killing me. The one thing about the kind of reviews I’m getting is the amount of pressure they pile on for book three.

What’s that sound I can hear? Is it your heart bleeding for me as you read this? Please don’t feel you need to cry for me either, it’s getting your computer all wet. But you have no idea how tough it is. It’s right up there with ‘I’m struggling to find ways to spend my money’, ‘the thing about being this beautiful is how difficult it is to get my PhD supervisor to take me seriously’ and ‘I have a metabolic condition where I lose more weight the more chocolate I eat’ as a tragic but often misunderstood life problem. It’s hard but I’m heroically trying to cope.

Seriously, I am humbled and awed and wonderstruck by the response to The Court of Broken Knives and The Tower of Living and Dying. It’s difficult to put into words how it feels when I get a good review, how grateful I am when people say they’ve bought my book. I regularly cry when I hear from people who enjoyed it, then phone my dad to tell him and he cries too. But the pressure I feel not to disappoint people is pretty intense now. Book three is the end of the story, the summation of the ideas I’ve explored in the first two books, the culmination of my and my readers’ hopes, potentially the last book of mine people buy and the last book I write for HarperVoyager and Orbit. So … no pressure there.



TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Court of Broken Knives came out that you know now?

Anna:  Hmmm… I know a lot about the publishing industry anyway, to be honest, my father is a writer and small-press publisher, as are many of his friends, I have several old family friends who work in publishing, journalism, arts administration and so on. Also I did a PhD, so the process of structural editing, the polite comment that asks you to entirely recast the structure of the book, was nothing new to me. I rather enjoy being edited, actually, it’s familiar, and nice to have someone telling you what to write for a bit. Also if everyone hates that bit I can feel vindicated at my editor.



TQDescribe The Tower of Living and Dying using only 5 words.

Anna:  War sorrow landscapes beauty death.



TQWhich character in the Empires of Dust series (so far) surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Anna:  Another good question. One I think about a lot.

Marith is always the hardest character to write because he is both the depths of my soul and the one great love of my life. He gets out of control and has to be reined in to make him readable, I have to check myself to try to understand him in the way we have to try to understand ourselves sometimes. It can feel very raw writing something that intensely about parts of myself and feelings I’ve had. He is toxic and vile, I’ve fallen into the fucked up romantic trap so many times myself and it’s important to make clear that he’s poison. But the lure of what he offers, him as something attractive despite or because of it, a leader, a dreamer, why people might follow him … that has to be important too. So many times, over and over, people have followed to the bitter end. Some blithely, some pitifully, some out of their own evil, some horribly aware of how fucked up it is. Trying to embody any of that in a character is emotionally draining.

I have to rein him in for other reasons too, reminding myself I’m writing grimdark fantasy not, uh, the other kind of fantasy. Although several people have said they’d love to read some of the other kind of fantasy about him and Carin, so…

Raeta was one of those delightful surprise characters that hit you from nowhere, more like the experience of writing The Court of Broken Knives had been. She really came out of nowhere at me, and I fell deeply in love with her. She was originally introduced as a very minor cameo role for a friend of mine in Broken Knives and blossomed from there.

Also, the increasing depth of heart and humanity I find in Bil Emmereth as she opens herself up to me as Orhan more is delighting me.



TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Tower of Living and Dying.

Anna:

Out of the chaos an army forming, eight thousand men armed and ready, horses, ships, supplies. Tearing its way to life like a child birthing. Coalescing like bronze in the forge.


We worship the sky and the trees and the earth and the sea and the rocks we walk on. We dream of light and shadows and the glory of something far greater, the old wild powers of the world. Gods and demons parading. The secret things we cannot see that fly somewhere far beyond our human eyes.


Salt-soaked pitch-soaked well-seasoned damp wood is … astonishing when it explodes.



TQThe Empires of Dust series is grimdark fantasy. Are there any other genres / subgenres in which you'd like to write? If not, why not?

Anna:  At the moment, I can’t see myself writing anything other than high fantasy in one form or another. I love reading and writing fantasy, writing wonders and magic and epic war is so much damned fun. And there’s so much of Irlast I still need to explore.

There’s a lot of the stupid snobbery around ‘literary writing’ doesn’t apply in the same way it does in fantasy. It makes me so incredibly angry that literary fantasy is dismissed as a non-sequitur. Literary science fiction is a given, as is literary historical fiction. But literary fantasy is ignored. In as much as I have any goal in my writing now beyond writing for the joy of it, I want to treat the rarefied path of literary fantasy and see just how far I can take it. Explore the horrors of the human soul, the heights of love, the depths of grief, the riches of mundane life, push the language of modernism and archaicism, play delicious language games … with magic swords and chainmail bikinis and dragons.



TQWhat is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?

Anna:  My father has a postcard on his desk that says ‘You must write as if your life depended on it’. I grew up looking at it. All it really means, in the end, is WRITE. Don’t wait for the right time and place, or think you’re not good enough. Don’t write for others. Don’t think about ‘will this sell? Is this good?’. Just write without restrictions on yourself.



TQWhat advice would you give to a debut author?

Anna:  Honestly? You’re nothing special. You’ve written one book. Unless you’re J K Rowling or E L James, your life is not going to be forever changed. All that’s changed is that you’ve got the pressure of having a deadline for your next book.

Even more honestly? You’re really nothing special. No matter how many books you go on to write. If I ever find myself approaching book bloggers and review sites like this one with anything other than humility awe and gratitude, if I ever stop pinching myself in wonder every time anyone asks me what I do and I can say ‘author’, if I ever stop feeling like I’m going to weep for joy when someone says they liked my book, I need to stop writing for publication immediately.



TQWhat's next?

Anna:  Killing myself wrestling book three into submission. It’s either the book or me. Indeed, by the time this is published, it may well have been me. Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant. Then …. who knows? I would love to write more novels set in Irlast, exploring other voices and perspectives on things. There’s a whole world there to explore, the landscapes, the people; Irlast is ultimately a map of my subconscious so I don’t see myself abandoning it any time soon. I’ve written several short stories set in Irlast, for the forthcoming Rogues, Legends III and Unbound II anthologies. Beyond that, it’s with the gods. I’ve been pouring libations to Apollo and Calliope daily.


TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.





The Tower of Living and Dying
Empires of Dust 2
Orbit, July 24, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages

A powerhouse story of bloodshed, ambition, and fate, The Tower of Living and Dying is a continuation of Anna Smith Spark’s brilliant Empires of Dust trilogy, which began with The Court of Broken Knives.

Marith has been a sellsword, a prince, a murderer, a demon, and dead. But something keeps bringing him back to life, and now there is nothing stopping him from taking back the throne that is rightfully his.

Thalia, the former high priestess, remains Marith’s only tenuous grasp to whatever goodness he has left. His left hand and his last source of light, Thalia still believes that the power that lies within him can be used for better ends. But as more forces gather beneath Marith’s banner, she can feel her influence slipping.

Read the second book in this “gritty and glorious!” (Miles Cameron) epic fantasy series reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence where the exiled son of a king fights to reclaim his throne no matter the cost.

Empires of Dust
The Court of Broken Knives
The Tower of Living and Dying





Previously

The Court of Broken Knives
Empires of Dust 1
Orbit, August 15, 2017
    Trade Paperback, 512 pages
Orbit, June 27, 2017
    eBook, 512 pages

Perfect for fans of Mark Lawrence and R Scott Bakker, The Court of Broken Knives is the explosive debut by one of grimdark fantasy’s most exciting new voices.

Shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel
Shortlisted for the David Gemmell Morningstar Award


It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed–but only one man can see it.

Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross the desert to reach the capital city. Once they enter the palace, they have one mission: kill the emperor, then all those who remain. Only from the ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Though he is young, ambitious, and impossibly charming, something dark hides in Marith’s past–and in his blood.

Dive into this new fantasy series for readers looking for epic battle scenes, gritty heroes, and blood-soaked revenge.





About Anna

Anna Smith Spark is the author of the critically acclaimed grimdark epic fantast trilogy Empires of Dust. The David Gemmell Awards shortlisted The Court of Broken Knives is out now with HarperVoyager/Orbit; The Tower of Living and Dying will be published August 2018.

Anna lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website www.greatworks.org. Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher and fetish model.

Anna’s favourite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart and Mary Renault.  She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at sff conventions wearing very unusual shoes.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @queenofgrimdark

Monday, August 13, 2018

The View From Monday - August 13, 2018


Happy Monday!

There is one debut this week:

Severence by Ling Ma.

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



From formerly featured DAC Authors:

Olympus Bound (Olympus Bound 3) by Jordanna Max Brodsky is out in Trade Paperback;

Sip by Brian Allen Carr is out in Trade Paperback;

Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall;

The Sea Queen (The Golden Wolf Saga 2) by Linnea Hartsuker;

Graveyard Shift by Michael F. Haspil is out in Trade Paperback;

Bad Faith (Dragon Lords 3) by Jon Hollinsk'

Noumenon Infinity (Noumenon 2) by Marian J. Lostetter;

and

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh is out in Trade Paperback.

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.

August 14, 2018
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Selected Stories: Science Fiction, Volume 1 Kevin J. Anderson SF - Collection
Rituals (h2tp) Kelley Armstrong F/SupTh - Cainsville 5
Olympus Bound (h2tp) Jordanna Max Brodsky CF/UF/FairyT/FolkT/LM/Occ/Sup - Olympus Bound 3
Moderan David R. Bunch SF/AP/PA - Collections
Successor's Promise (h2tp) Trudi Canavan F - Millennium's Rule 3
Sip (h2tp) Brian Allen Carr SF/AP/PA/LF
Pinnacle City: A Superhero Noir Matt Carter
Fiona J. R. Titchenell
SH/PI/Occ/Sup/Noir
Denied: A Novel of the Sazi Cathy Clamp PNR/UF - Luna Lake 3
Annals of the Black Company: The Black Company, Shadows Linger, The White Rose, Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, The Silver Spike, Bleak Seasons, She Is ... Live (e) Glen Cook F - Chronicles of The Black Company
A Spy in Time Imraan Coovadia SF/TT
Stars Uncharted S. K. Dunstall SF/SO/GenEng
Relic Alan Dean Foster SF/AC/AP/PA
Connect Julian Gough TechTh
The Adventure of the Neural Psychoses Lois H. Gresh H - Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu 2
The Sea Queen Linnea Hartsuyker Sagas - The Golden Wolf Saga 2
Graveyard Shift (h2tp) Michael F. Haspil UF/SupTh/PP
Bad Faith Jon Hollins F/HU -  The Dragon Lords 3
Mutilation Song Jason Hrivnak H/Occ/Sup/VisM
Every River Runs to Salt Rachel K. Jones F
Ball Lightning Cixin Liu
Joel Martinsen (Tr)
SF/HSF
Princess of Blood (h2tp) Tom Lloyd F/CF - God Fragments 2
Noumenon Infinity Marina J. Lostetter SF/SO - Noumenon 2
Severance (D) Ling Ma LF/SF/AP/PA
Wild Hunger Chloe Neill P/PNR/UF - Heirs of Chicagoland 1
Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories Abbey Mei Otis SF/AC/F
The Super Ladies Susan Petrone CW/FL/CF/UF/SH
The Complete Clockwork Century: Boneshaker, Dreadnought, Ganymede, Inexplicables, Fiddlehead (e) Cherie Priest SF/SP/AH - Clockwork Century
Black Lotus Kiss Jason Ridler F/UF/HU - The Brimstone Files 2
Laura: A Journey into the Crystal (ri) George Sand
Sue Dyson (Tr)
F/Occ/Sup - Pushkin Blues
The Moons of Barsk Lawrence M. Schoen SF/SO - Barsk 2
The Million Karl Schroeder SF/HSF/SO
The Blinds (h2tp) Adam Sternbergh Sus
Flights Olga Tokarczuk
Jennifer Croft (Tr)
LF/MR - Collection



August 15, 2018
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Bookburners: The Complete Season 4 (e) Max Gladstone
Margaret Dunlap
Brian Francis Slattery
Mur Lafferty
Andrea Phillips
UF - Bookburners



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
Cr - Crime
CulH - Cultural Heritage
CW - Contemporary Woman
CyP - Cyberpunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
Gothic - Gothic
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humor
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
MU - Mash Up
Noir - Noir
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PerfArts - Performing Arts
PI - Private Investigator
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PP - Police Procedural
PolTh - Political Thriller
Psy - Psychological
R - Romance
Sagas - Sagas
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
TV - Television
UF - Urban Fantasy
VisM - Visionary and Metaphysical

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Review: Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio


Empire of Silence
Author:  Christopher Ruocchio
Series:  The Sun Eater 1
Publisher:  DAW, July 3, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 624 pages
List Price:  US$26.00 (print); US$12.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  ISBN 9780756413002 (print); ISBN 9780756413026 (eBook

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.



Melanie's Thoughts:

Hadrian had his life all mapped out. He wants to become a scholiast - one of the learned academics like his beloved teacher, Gibson. However his father, the Archon of Meidua, has other plans. His father is planning to send him to the Chantry where he will become just another soulless minion of the Empire, torturing the poor and defenseless. No one, not even Hadrian, could have anticipated the chain of events that unfold when he defies his father's wishes.

Stranded on a planet far away from home and the future that he sacrificed so much for. With no money, friends or family Hadrian does the only thing he knows - fight. All the years of training have paid off as Hadrian enters the gladiatorial arena. It's not long before he makes a name for himself beating gladiators with better weapons and armor soon becoming a hero of the arena. Once again, politics of the court take him farther away from the life he started to make for himself. He is now firmly on the path to become what the galaxy will remember him as  - the Sun Eater.

Empire of Silence is truly an epic. The story is told in the first person with Hadrian recounting the events that lead up to him becoming known as the world killer. The story starts at the very beginning, with his birth and ends with Hadrian leaving the planet that became his new home. A lot happens to Hadrian in the first few decades of his life and his fortunes change dramatically between the start and the end of book 1. Events before he leaves his home world are very traumatic for him but it seems that his life on the streets of Emesh are what define him as a person.

Ruocchio has an incredible imagination and the worlds that he has built for Hadrian are rich and full of detail. Despite the story only covering the first twenty something years of Hadrian's life a lot happens to him. I liked how the story was told from the first person and and that 30+ years were lost in Hadrian's life as he traveled across the galaxy after escaping his father but we don't find out why. The society, history and social structures are also very detailed, in fact, so detailed that Ruocchio provides us with one of the longest glossaries I have ever seen. Although I didn't find it until I had finished the book which is pretty easy to do when reading an eBook.

My one criticism with Empire of Silence is the pace. There is so much detail and so much dialogue that the story can actually drag in parts but then half a chapter later something would happen so that I could barely put the book down. If I had only two words to describe this book I would say that it is 'topsy turvy' because one minute I was bored stiff with all the detail and the next I was on the edge of my seat. Having said that this was a debut and it was very ambitious. I am very curious to find out what will happen next to Hadrian. I just really hope that Ruocchio evens out the pace and and doesn't unnecessarily drag out the story.

Note: I love the cover. It is one that I spent a lot of time staring at it. And it won the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for July!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Image Comics Creators Fight Censorship


IMAGE COMICS CREATORS FIGHT CENSORSHIP
Image teams with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for powerful anti-censorship variants this September

PORTLAND, OR, 08/09/2018 — This September, Image Comics fights censorship with a powerful line of variant covers to benefit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), the industry's voice for free speech advocacy and education. All proceeds from this dynamic campaign will support CBLDF's important legal work on behalf of comics creators, retailers, educators and readers.

All proceeds from this campaign will benefit CBLDF, with each title featuring two versions of the CBLDF Charity variant—one censored and one uncensored. Image Comics is pleased to reveal the censored versions here.

Spearheaded by HACK/SLASH creator Tim Seeley and Image Comics’ Publisher Eric Stephenson, this benefit includes contributions from Skottie Young, Mirka Andolfo, Howard Chaykin, Justin Greenwood, Geoffo, Ryan Browne, Wook-Jin Clarke, David Rubín, Martin Morazzo, Mark Torres, Danny Luckert, and Seeley himself.

Simon Belmont from Castlevania and King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country Join the Cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate


Simon Belmont and King K. Rool Join the Fight in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Nintendo Switch Exclusive Features More Than 70 Fighters, 100 Stages, 900 Music Tracks and Counting…

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 8, 2018 – A legendary vampire hunter and a fan-favorite villain are joining the sprawling cast of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game. In a Nintendo Direct video presentation entirely focused on the Nintendo Switch exclusive, it was revealed that Simon Belmont from the Castlevania series and King K. Rool, the main antagonist from the original Donkey Kong Country games, are both joining the game as playable fighters. In addition, the Nintendo Direct also shared additional information on Echo fighters, new stages, new modes and one of the most impressive collections of music ever in a single game, with more than 900 music tracks and 28 hours of music. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on Dec. 7.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the biggest games Nintendo has ever released,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Between all the iconic fighters, stages and music, it’s the largest video game crossover ever produced – and nothing short of a Nintendo fan’s dream come true.”

Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - July Winner


Another epic voting battle took place for July and this time it was between Empire of Silence (DAW) and City of Lies (Tor Books).

The winner of the July 2018 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio with 35% of the votes. The cover art is by Sam Weber



Empire of Silence
Sun Eater 1
DAW, July 3, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 624 pages

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.





The Results






The July 2018 Debuts

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Interview with Sam Hawke, author of City of Lies


Please welcome Sam Hawke to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. City of Lies was published on July 3rd by Tor Books.







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

Sam:  There is a photograph of me (aged 4ish) in my parents' photo album, with a picture I painted and the accompanying story written down by my preschool teacher. My face is dark with rage because she transcribed the story incorrectly ("Then I had an idea, and it worked!" is written as "Then I had an indeed, and it worked!"). I must have known then that I couldn't trust anyone else to relay my apparent genius and I would have to do it myself. Hehe.

By age 6 I had graduated to stapling piles of paper together and writing chapter titles and the first sentence of each on each page, because by then I had figured out there was such thing as a novelist, and I wanted to be one (my follow-through was a bit poor though).



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sam:  I work very well to a plot if I have one, but they take me a lot of time and pain and so sometimes I have to plough ahead without one. City of Lies was very well plotted in advance. The sequel I'm figuring out as I go along, madly trying to stay one step ahead of myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sam:  First drafting, getting the words on screen in the first place, will always be my hurdle. I love revising but I find it very hard to just switch off the critical part of my brain and embrace the creative so first drafting is a laborious process. I live in desperate admiration of writers who can just spew out first drafts and then go back and fix them.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sam:  Really good writing, and occasionally really bad writing - the former because I want to share stories that make me feel things the way good writers do, the latter because I think I can do better! (I'm sure one day I'm going to be someone else's example of a bad writer that they find inspiring, and that's OK. Gotta stay useful.)



TQDescribe City of Lies using only 5 words.

Sam:  Poison, treachery, city under siege.



TQTell us something about City of Lies that is not found in the book description.

Sam:  Oooh, tricky. Well, it's not on the back cover but the main large-scale conflict in City of Lies is about cultural divides, and the consequences when cultures forget their roots. Some long past decisions come back to bite everyone in the arse, basically.



TQWhat inspired you to write City of Lies? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Sam:  I love writing fantasy. I can't really imagine writing anything else. There's just something transportive about working outside our own reality. Basically I like having the freedom to work outside what we think we know about the world in order to explore what we do know about it. Also, I prefer making stuff up to researching, so secondary worlds are a natural fit for my lazy self.

City of Lies was kind of my love letter to the two kinds of books I like reading the best - secondary world fantasy, and closed room mysteries. I wanted to write something that gave me the kind of ratcheting tension of a good mystery/crime novel, but which was also in my preferred setting.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for City of Lies?

Sam:  Not a lot, honestly, other than a fair bit of reading about poisons and supertasting. I'll steal this expression from my friend Rob and say I like to 'research like a ninja', which is to say that I'm not the type of person who spends a lot of time doing background research and detailed worldbuilding before I start writing, but rather just look things up as I go. My favourite system is to stick stuff in square brackets that says something like '[check if you call the railing on a ship a railing or if it has some special name]' or '[check if this is physically possible??] which I leave for Future Sam to handle.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for City of Lies.

Sam:  The Tor cover is a beautiful hand drawn picture by Greg Ruth of a hand holding a knife, and a city reflected in the blade. It is stunning and I love it so much I bought the original graphite art off Greg for my wall. It's not depicting something specific about the book so much as a flavour - I think looking at it you get a sense of danger and mystery and treachery, and a glimpse at what the city looks like.



TQIn City of Lies who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sam:  I found the main characters - the two POV characters and the two main secondary characters - the easiest to write because I knew them so well, I knew what they wanted and what they were afraid of, and how they would react to a situation (Well, when I say easiest, this is a relative term, heh).

The tertiary characters were probably the hardest because I needed to give them all distinct voices, personalities and motivations, but I had so little page space to do it in.



TQDoes City of Lies touch on any social issues?

Sam:  I mean, all books have social issues, don't they, as long as they're about people? But yeah, City of Lies touches on classism, the concentration of wealth in cities, how dominant cultures interact with non-dominant cultures, xenophobia, and the ways that societies under external pressures can turn on themselves.

It's not an issue in the book, just a fact of how the society is structured, but gender politics are a completely different beast in this world. There's no strict assumptions about what roles and professions are available to either gender and no concept of marriage (families are defined by blood relationships, not romantic ones). I suspect some readers may regard the basic premise of women being allowed and expected to contribute to their families in the same way as men as a social issue even though it's simply a background fact of the worldbuilding.



TQWhich question about City of Lies do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sam:

Q: How can I order 1000 copies of your fine publication for all my friends and family?
A: Why, thank you for asking, it's available at all good bookstores, or anywhere online that sells good books!



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

Sam:  Most of my favourite bits are spoilery but this one's from the first chapter. A bit of a shameless self-insert but I've seen a number of people quoting it so I'll assume it resonates with anyone who's ever been on the way home after a long trip and had something delay them further when they just want a cuppa:

I dodged a stray blow in my direction and, as the man launched himself heavily at Tain again, his drunken focus on this new target of his rage, I chopped into his stomach as hard as I could with the side of my hand. "I just want a cup of tea," I told him bitterly.



TQWhat's next?

Sam:  Busy finishing off the sequel, Hollow Empire, and then no doubt I'll be very focussed on editing that for the next while. Then it's largely up to my publisher - if they would like more books in this world, I'll launch into a third one. If not,



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sam:  Thanks so much for having me!





City of Lies
The Poison Wars 1
Tor Books, July 3, 2018
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 560 pages

Poison. Treachery. Ancient spirits. Sieges. The Poison Wars begin now, with City of Lies, a fabulous epic fantasy debut by Sam Hawke

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he's a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.





About Sam

Sam Hawke has wanted to write books since realising as a child that they didn’t just breed between themselves in libraries. Having contemplated careers as varied as engineer, tax accountant and zookeeper Sam eventually settled on the law. After marrying her jujitsu training partner and travelling to as many countries as possible, Sam now resides in Canberra, Australia raising two small ninjas and two idiot dogs. City of Lies is her debut novel.


Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @samhawkewrites  ~  Instagram

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Interview with Lauren C. Teffeau, author of Implanted


Please welcome Lauren C. Teffeau to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Implanted was published on August 7th by Angry Robot.







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

LCT:  A horrible fantasy novel in my early teens. It was full of wish fulfillment and the worldbuilding was illogical at best, nonexistent at worst. I’m happy to say I’ve improved dramatically since then.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

LCT:  I’m a plotter, though how strict I am depends on the project. I want to ensure even when I have the entire story worked out in my head that there is some space for the unexpected, for the story elements to breathe, and in some instances surprise me.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

LCT:  In the past year, I’d say it’s been the difficulty in tuning out the noise of the larger world. I have lots of projects I’d like to work on or revisit, but it’s been harder than usual for me to quiet my mind to focus for long periods.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

LCT:  I took a screenwriting class in college. I was a bit of a film buff and wanted to see how things worked on the other side of the camera, so to speak. The emphasis on structure, dialogue, and action have been extremely formative and have provided the backbone to just about everything I’ve done since.



TQDescribe Implanted using only 5 words.

LCT:  Cyberpunk, adventure, gadgetry, couriers, and communication



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

LCT:  There’s a romantic subplot that I’m rather proud of.



TQWhat inspired you to write Implanted? What appeals to you about writing Cyberpunk?

LCT:  I’ve always enjoyed cyberpunk as a genre, but while those stories made me think, they didn’t necessarily make me feel welcome. I wanted to write something that wasn’t as emotionally sterile as other entries in the cyberpunk genre but still present an interesting examination of technology and where it’s taking us.



TQWhat is Cyberpunk and in your opinion what elements are essential to a Cyberpunk story?

LCT:  Cool tech, some sort of mystery (often originating in the corporate or government sectors of society), and some implicit or explicit commentary on technology and humanity’s relationship to it.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Implanted?

LCT:  Lots in bits and pieces over the years. I researched art nouveau and sustainability practices to get a better handle on the architecture of my domed city. I took a look at cybersecurity practices. I also included a lot of worldbuilding assumptions that can be mapped back to my social science background in information science, data curation, and mass communication as a graduate student and later on as a university researcher. I also never turn down the opportunity to consume the latest espionage thriller, no matter what the medium.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Implanted.

LCT:  The cover was created in consultation with Angry Robot’s Marc Gascoigne and the rest of the graphics team at Argh! Nottingham. I think cyberpunk as a genre is particularly hard to represent well on covers given the abstract nature of the concepts. In the case of Implanted, we wanted something captivating and landed on the human eye (that hopefully readers can’t stop looking at) and hint at some of the gadgetry you’ll find in the book thanks to the eye’s digital overlay. Combined with a bold and compelling title font, I hope it not only signals the cyberpunk genre to readers but that it's an exciting read as well.



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

LCT:  My main character Emery was easily the hardest. She valiantly fought me over the course of successive drafts. Sometimes I had trouble uncovering her motivations or pinning down her voice, but I eventually brought her to heel. I am the author after all. One of the easiest and (most enjoyable) character to write was Emery’s handler Tahir. He seems like he’s bit stuck-up and by-the-book but underneath his prickly exterior, he's a big softy.



TQDoes Implanted touch on any social issues?

LCT:  Besides technology and sustainability, I also delve quite a bit into inequality. Not simply in terms of who has money and who doesn’t, but what that money can buy—in particular neural implants and access to the network they're connected to that dictate just about everything in the domed city.



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

LCT:  Why blood as a data transmission vehicle? Well, for starters, recent research shows that tons of information can be encoded in DNA (frex: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/dna-could-store-all-worlds-data-one-room). So it seemed like using blood could be a practical solution in a world where information networks can’t be trusted. It was also a way to inject something fundamentally human into a high-tech future.



TQGive us your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Implanted.

LCT:

Rik simply lets the silence build, the connection between us alive with feeling. Synching can be surprisingly intimate, depending on how a user customizes their implant settings. The length of delay between thought and message. Whether or not nonverbals should be broadcasted. The priority of the interaction over other tasks and contacts. We’ve become so attuned to one another over the years, now our connection practically vibrates with what’s left unsaid. My doubts, his certainty, yes, but also a desire for more – a strange sort of friction as we run up against the limitations of our current configuration, like a snail that’s outgrown its shell.



TQWhat's next?

LCT:  I’m hard at work on a few sekrit projects, which may or may not include a sequel to Implanted. My website laurencteffeau.com is the best way to stay up-to-date with what’s going on with me.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

LCT:  It was my pleasure!





Implanted
Angry Robot, August 7, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

The data stored in her blood can save a city on the brink… or destroy it, in this gripping cyberpunk thriller

When college student Emery Driscoll is blackmailed into being a courier for a clandestine organisation, she’s cut off from the neural implant community which binds the domed city of New Worth together. Her new masters exploit her rare condition which allows her to carry encoded data in her blood, and train her to transport secrets throughout the troubled city. New Worth is on the brink of Emergence – freedom from the dome – but not everyone wants to leave. Then a data drop goes bad, and Emery is caught between factions: those who want her blood, and those who just want her dead.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Under the Dome | Blood Courier | Disconnected | Bright Future ]





About Lauren

Photo courtesy of Kim Jew
Photography Studios
Lauren C. Teffeau lives and dreams in the southwestern United States. When she was younger, she poked around in the back of wardrobes, tried to walk through mirrors, and always kept an eye out for secret passages, fairy rings, and messages from aliens. Now, she writes to cope with her ordinary existence. Implanted is her first novel.




Website  ~  Twitter @teffeau



Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Interview with V. M. Escalada


Please welcome V. M. Escalada to The Qwillery. Gift of Griffins is published on August 7th by DAW.






TQWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

V. M.:  Great to be here, thanks for inviting me. I'd have to say I'm a hybrid. My academic training pushes me in the direction of outlines, but I only prepare one to be sure that I've got a viable story, that the idea works and has someplace to go. That isn't necessarily where it actually does go, of course.



TQTell us something about Gift of Griffins that is not found in the book description.

V. M.:  I see that nothing about Griffinhome is mentioned, so there's nothing about how the griffins' society works, and what Weimerk's place is in it. It does have an impact on the plot, though obviously I'm not going to tell you what that is.



TQWhat inspired you to write the Faraman Prophecy? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

V. M.:  I was a fan of those forensics shows that were all the rage for a while. Since my brain lives in a fantasy space, I thought, "what if psychics were used as crime scene investigators?" They could just walk into the crime scene, touch things, and know immediately what had happened. I figured out pretty quickly that the idea wouldn't make a story – at least not a crime-based story, since the psychics would just say "he did it" and the story would be over. So then I wondered, what if being a psychic was the problem? What if they were going about their lawful business when their country was invaded by people who thought Talents were witches that had to be destroyed?

I consider fantasy one of the oldest genres. The way we approach it today, we're able to put our characters into situations that stress them to the breaking point in a way that non-genre writing just can't do. And it also allows the writer to present a society or a world that is different from the world we live in – explore that world, examine it and, occasionally, compare it to the real world.

I've said this before, and I know I'll say it again: I believe that genre literature in general, and fantasy literature in particular is the only place where the protagonist can behave heroically, honourably, without being treated ironically.

It's the only genre where characters can to try to behave as their best selves.



TQWhy griffins?

V. M.:  Well, there are already an awful lot of dragons around, aren't there? Seriously, I liked the idea of griffins because they're dual-natured. Lions and eagles are both at the top of their food chains, top predators. I thought that would make an interesting character, particularly since we meet Weimerk as a hatchling.



TQPlease tell us about magic works in the Faraman Prophecy world.

V. M.:  I like magic to be personal, not dependent on artifacts that anyone can use. So in both books of The Faraman Prophecy, magical abilities are something that people are born with, and trained to use. Like other natural abilities, singing, dancing, cooking etc. some are better at it than others.



TQIn Gift of Griffins who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Which character has surprised you?

V. M.:  Probably the easiest character to write was Ennick. He doesn't have a huge role in terms of lines, but in his way he's extremely important. He's unique in his motives and outlook, which made him easy to understand, at least for me, some of the other characters seem to have a bit of difficulty.

The hardest character was Weimerk, the griffin. It's always a challenge when you're creating a non-human consciousness. Why would they think the same way we do?

I'd have to say the character than surprised me is Wynn Martan. She became a bit of a Mercutio-like character in that she often steals the scenes she's in. She's a redhead, and it turned out that she has the true ginger attitude.



TQDoes Gift of Griffins touch on any social issues?

V. M.:  In many ways I'm looking at the issue of racial/social biases and prejudices from a number of angles. The Faraman Polity is fairly gender-equal, with a slight bias toward women. So you'll find that ranking military officers, nobles, landowners, and even the Luqs, are very likely to be women. The Faramans themselves don't find anything unusual in this, but the Halians are a totally different matter. Not only are they male-centric, but they believe Talents are abominations that must be destroyed. However, it's not just gender equally that gets explored. Biases pop up between the different types of magic-users, and even within the same groups.



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

V. M.:  Most of my favourite lines concern Weimerk the griffin. Here are a few:

Most of my favourite lines concern Weimerk the griffin. Here are a few:

"The griffin showed you?" The woman's tone softened and became kinder. Clearly she thought Ker was mentally defective . . . "And what griffin would that be, my dear?"
Ker pointed upward. "This one."


He might have been half lion and half eagle, but he seemed to have the stomach of both.
<<I am still growing.>> Somehow his thoughts conveyed a clear feeling of offense.
<<Sorry.>>
<<You are not.>>


<<You're late.>>
<<I am not. I am always here when I arrive, and never a moment later.>>



TQWhat's next?

V. M.:  I had a couple of ideas for more stories in the Faraman universe, but I couldn't choose between them. So, I'm working on a totally different book, where the "magic" and the physical world are linked. The magicians themselves don't understand as much about their magic as they think they do. I'm still working out the kinks, but it looks promising so far.

Still, I'd love to visit Kerida and Tel and Weimerk again someday. And Wynn. I can see her getting into a lot of trouble.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

V. M.:  You're very welcome. I've enjoyed myself.





Gift of Griffins
Faraman Prophecy 2
DAW, August 7, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

The second book in the Faraman Prophecy epic fantasy series returns to a world of military might and magical Talents as Kerida Nast continues the quest to save her nation.

Kerida Nast and her companions have succeeded in finding Jerek Brightwing, the new Luqs of Farama, and uniting him with a part of his Battle Wings, but not all their problems have been solved. Farama is still in the hands of the Halian invaders and their Shekayrin, and it’s going to take magical as well as military strength to overcome them.

Unexpected help comes from Bakura, the Princess Imperial of the Halians, whose Gifts have been suppressed.  As the Voice of her brother the Sky Emperor she has some political power over the Halian military, and she will use it to aid the Faramans, if Kerida can free her from what she sees as a prison. But whether Kerida can help the princess remains to be seen. If she succeeds, Bakura may prove their salvation. But should Kerida fail, all may be lost….





Previously

Halls of Law
Faraman Prophecy 1
DAW, August 7, 2018
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Hardcover and eBook, August 1, 2017

Now in paperback, the first book in the Faraman Prophecy epic fantasy series introduces a world of military might and magical Talents on the brink of destruction–and two unlikely heroes may be its only saviors.

Seventeen-year-old Kerida Nast has always wanted a career in the military, just like the rest of her family. So when her Talent is discovered, and she knows she’ll have to spend the rest of her life as a psychic for the Halls of Law, Ker isn’t happy about it. Anyone entering the Halls must give up all personal connection with the outside world, losing their family and friends permanently.

But just as Kerida is beginning to reconcile herself to her new role, the Faraman Polity is invaded by strangers from Halia, who begin a systematic campaign of destruction against the Halls, killing every last Talent they can find.

Kerida manages to escape, falling in with Tel Cursar, a young soldier fleeing the battle, which saw the deaths of the royal family. Having no obvious heir to the throne, no new ruler to rally behind, the military leaders will be divided, unable to act quickly enough to save the empire. And with the Halls being burned to the ground, and the Talents slaughtered, the Rule of Law will be shattered.





About V. M. Escalada

Photo: © Jessica Kennedy
V. M. Escalada lives in a nineteenth-century limestone farmhouse in southeastern Ontario with her husband. Born in Canada, her cultural background is half Spanish and half Polish, which makes it interesting at meal times. Her most unusual job was translating letters between lovers, one of whom spoke only English, the other only Spanish.



Twitter @VioletteMalan