Monday, September 16, 2019

The View From Monday - September 16, 2019

Happy Monday!

There are 5 debuts this week:

Kansastan by Farooq Ahmed;

Gamechanger by L. X. Beckett;

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill;

Neon Empire by Drew Minh;


Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes.

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

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

The Hanged Man and the Fortune Teller by Lucy Banks;

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox;

Randomize by Andy Weir;


System Failure (Epic Failure Trilogy 3) by Joe Zieja.

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.

September 15, 2019
The H. G. Wells Collection: Boxed Set Herbert George Wells SF

September 16, 2019
Kansastan (D) Farooq Ahmed Dys/LF

September 17, 2019
A Little Hatred Joe Abercrombie F/DF/HistF - Age of Madness 1
Double Eagle Dan Abnett SF - Warhammer 40,000
The Preserve Steve Anderson AH
The Hanged Man and the Fortune Teller Lucy Banks Hist/GH
Gamechanger (D) L. X. Beckett SF/AC/CyP
Dark Forge Miles Cameron F/HistF - Masters & Mages 2
Summer Frost (Ke) Blake Crouch SF - Forward Collection
The Widow of Pale Harbor Hester Fox Hist/GH/Occ/Sup
The Stalking Heather Graham PNR/RS/GH - Krewe of Hunters 29
A Cosmology of Monsters (D) Shaun Hamill H/DF/FL
Cadian Honour Justin D Hill SO/SE - Warhammer 40,000
Siege and Sacrifice Charlie N. Holmberg F - Numina 3
Emergency Skin (Ke) N. K. Jemisin SF - Forward Collection
The Ticking Heart Andrew Kaufman LF/MR/AB
Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction Lisa Kroger
Melanie R. Anderson
A Trick of Light Stan Lee
Kat Rosenfield
SF - Stan Lee's Alliances
A Single Light Tosca Lee Sus - Line Between 2
A Golden Grave Erin Lindsey HistM/GH/P - A Rose Gallagher Mystery 2
Gotrek and Felix: The Fourth Omnibus Nathan Long F - Warhammer Chronicles Omnibus 4
Inspection (h2tp) Josh Malerman PsyTh/H/CoA
Different Beasts J.R. McConvey Collection
Dragon Age: Last Flight Deluxe Edition Liane Merciel MTI/F
Neon Empire (D) Drew Minh SF/CyP
Wonderland: An Anthology Marie O'Regan (Ed)
Paul Kane (Ed)
F - Anthology
The Heart and Other Viscera: Stories Félix J. Palma SS/Occ/MR
Wild Boar in the Cane Field Anniqua Rana MR/CulH/Religious
Ark (Ke) Veronica Roth SF - Forward Collection
The Renegat (e) Kristine Kathryn Rusch SF - The Diving
Resurrection of the Daleks Eric Saward SF/MTI
On Wings of Blood: An Aeronautica Anthology Gav Thorpe
Matt Westbrook & more
SF - Warhammer 40,000
You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Ke) Amor Towles SF - Forward Collection
The Last Conversation (Ke) Paul Tremblay SF - Forward Collection
Chilling Effect (D) Valerie Valdes SF/SO
Randomize (Ke) Andy Weir SF - Forward Collection
A Hero Born: The Definitive Edition Jin Yong F/HistF - Legends of the Condor Heroes 1
System Failure Joe Zieja SF - Epic Failure Trilogy 3

September 19, 2019
Before the Coffee Gets Cold Toshikazu Kawaguchi MR/LF
Battle Beyond the Dolestars Chris McCrudden SF/HU - Battlestar Suburbia 2

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

AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
Bio - Biographical
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CulH - Cultural Heritage
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romane
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
H - Horror
HC - History & Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PerfArts - Performing Arts
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PolTh - Political Thriller
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
RF - Romantic Fantasy
RS - Romantic Suspense
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SS - Short Stories
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

2019 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September 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 2019 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 September 30, 2019, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2019 Debut Cover! free polls

Artwork by Julie Dillon

Cover illustration by Na Kim
Jacket design by Kelly Blair

Cover by Stephan Martiniere

Cover art by Tommy Arnold
Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill

Cover by Francesca Corsini

Cover design by Matthew Revert

Cover art by John Coulthart

Cover art and design by Jason Booher

Nintendo Download, September 12, 2019: Pilot Your Own Mech

This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content:
  • Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch
    • DAEMON X MACHINA – In this new action game from Kenichiro Tsukuda (Armored Core) and mech designer Shoji Kawamori,your environment is your ally. Collect and use Femto Energy on the field to boost your stats and create powerful mirages, or wield objects like cars and street signs as melee weapons and projectiles. For even more power, upgrade your physical combat abilities and learn new skills through body modification. It’ll also come in handy when you eject from your Arsenal and fight on foot using special weapons and abilities.
    • Castle Crashers Remastered – Hack, slash and smash your way to victory in this Remastered edition of the popular 2D arcade adventure game from The Behemoth. Up to four friends can play locally* or online**  and save your princess, defend your kingdom and crash some castles.
    • The Sinking CityThe Sinking City is an adventure and investigation game set in an open world inspired by the universe of H.P. Lovecraft, the master of Horror. The half-submerged city of Oakmont is gripped by supernatural forces. You’re a private investigator, and you have to uncover the truth of what has possessed the city … and the minds of its inhabitants.

New DLC:
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Expansion Pass Wave 2 – In the great land of Fódlan, you must be ready for any conflict that could arise. With this new wave of paid downloadable content for the Fire Emblem: Three Houses game (sold separately), prepare your army for war by testing their strength in five additional auxiliary battles, invigorate their fighting spirit with a new auxiliary battle song option, equip them with a powerful set of items and dress them for success in a new training outfit for many characters. Oh, and the protagonist, Byleth, can wear glasses now, too. Looking good, Professor!

Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch Coming October 19, 2019

Embark on a Fantastical Journey to Defeat a Bodybuilding Dragon Using Real-Life Exercise in Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch

Game Includes Accessories That Transform Physical Force Into Powerful Attacks

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 12, 2019 – A new type of adventure game is headed to the Nintendo Switch system on Oct. 18 – one that incorporates fun new accessories that turn real-world movement into in-game actions in a quest to save the world. Nintendo just revealed a new video that takes a closer look at this new experience for Nintendo Switch.

In the Ring Fit Adventure game, players explore an expansive world, battling enemies along the way using real-life exercises to perform in-game attacks. The new Ring-Con and Leg Strap accessories that are included with the game respond to the player’s real-world movements, allowing the game to turn them into in-game actions, like jogging in place to move your character through the world using the attached Leg Strap, or squeezing the Ring-Con and turning that strength exercise into powerful attacks. By playing the game daily, players can regularly work out various parts of their bodies. With additional mini-games and workout routines, Ring Fit Adventure is a fun experience for players of various skill levels and lifestyles.

“Nintendo is always looking for ways to surprise people with one-of-a-kind, fresh experiences,” said Nick Chavez, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Ring Fit Adventure combines gaming and physical activity in a way that incentivizes people to keep coming back for more, to further both the story and their own fitness goals.”

The Adventure mode featured in Ring Fit Adventure takes place across 20 different colorful worlds in a quest to take down Dragaux, a giant, chiseled dragon with an ego to match his oversized muscles. Jog, sprint and do knee-highs in real life to travel through the world, and use the Ring-Con accessory to perform different in-game actions, like jumping, hovering in mid-air or steering a raft on a river.



Image Comics has revealed some of the highly anticipated covers for the upcoming record-breaking, history-making SPAWN #301 issue by Todd McFarlane, President at Image Comics and creator of SPAWN.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Interview with Kassandra Montag, author of After the Flood

Please welcome Kassandra Montag to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. After the Flood was published on September 3, 2019 by William Morrow.

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

Kassandra:  I’m a hybrid. I start as a pantser—I write snippets of scene and dialogue and take notes until I have enough rough material to start evaluating everything. I need to have a strong narrator’s voice, main characters, a solid premise, and a rough idea of the various plot points. Then I look at what I have and outline. Afterwards, I write a full draft, often deviating from the outline and making substantial changes as I go.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kassandra:  Trusting the process can be difficult if it’s been a long, hard writing day. But really, translating what is in my imagination and making it real for the reader remains the most challenging—and most rewarding part about writing.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Kassandra:  A variety of influences all came to bear on this novel: Viking sagas, early American Western adventure tales, environmental documentaries, contemporary post-apocalyptic storytelling, and my personal experience of motherhood. Other influences include the post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels The Road and The Handmaid’s Tale. A nature/animal documentary called The Last Lions also shaped my desire to write a tale that felt both epic and personal at the same time.

TQDescribe After the Flood using only 5 words.

Kassandra:  Adventure, Courage, Hope, Survival, Love

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

Kassandra:  I’ll go a step further and share something that was in my notes for After the Flood, but I didn’t have room to include in detail in the novel. In the beginning the book briefly summarizes how countries and governments collapsed during the flood. The thing I didn’t have room for was describing my vision of a Second Civil War in the U.S.—this time a war of the coasts at war with the middle of the country. I imagined that as the coasts lost all their major cities, they depended more and more on resources in the middle of the country. Immigration and resource scarcity placed pressure on regions that already harbored resentment and a urban/rural divide, resulting in a brief Second Civil War.

TQWhat inspired you to write After the Flood?

Kassandra:  It came from the confluence of a dream, an image, and a line in my journal. The dream was of a wave of water coming across the prairie, all the way from the oceans, a flood that spanned the whole continent. After having this dream, I saw the image of a mother on a boat in a future flooded world, sailing with one daughter, but separated from her other daughter. Years before I had the flood dream, I had another image that kept recurring in my mind’s eye and that I detailed in my journal: “A group of people huddle around a campfire, struggling to survive and looking for a safe haven.” These two storylines, of a mother separated from her daughter in a flood, and a group of people trying to survive, began to brush up against each other, suggesting possibilities.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for After the Flood?

Kassandra:  My research included: accounts of the Bajau people who partially live on the water in Southeast Asia, stories from ancient seafaring tribes such as the Vikings, and contemporary guide books on survival techniques such as building fires, fishing, etc.
In imagining the flood itself I was inspired by scientific research, namely an article in the New Scientist about how three times the Earth’s water was stored under the Earth’s crust in hydrate form. So I imagined what it would be like if that trapped water could somehow be released to the Earth’s surface in liquid form, exploding up from the depths.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for After the Flood.

Kassandra:  The cover for After the Flood is an abstracted picture of the sky and sea. It has glorious colors and in the image you cannot see the horizon—the sea and sky blend together. The novel depicts a world in which the horizon has moved dramatically and I loved how the designer captured this sense of sky and sea merging in a way that is both beautiful and dramatic.

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

Kassandra:  Pearl was the easiest character to write, perhaps because she is a child and does not have ulterior motives the way other characters do. She is more purely herself, less torn by the demands of survival. Also, because she was born in this flooded environment, she seems to deal with it in a more natural way than some of the other characters. The hardest character to write was Jacob because I had trouble getting into his head and understanding his motivations for abandoning part of his family.

TQDoes After the Flood touch on any social issues?

Kassandra:  Yes, it touches on wealth distribution, climate change, immigration, colonialization, and nation building.

TQWhich question about After the Flood do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kassandra:  What is a central theme of After the Flood?

After the Flood is partly about the role selfishness and selflessness play in the fight for survival. I was interested in how the survival instinct can be inherently selfish in a dangerous world without enough resources and if there are ways to transcend that. I was also curious about the way that survival can be seen as selfless—an act of love through carrying on.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from After the Flood.


“Children think we make them, but we don’t. They exist somewhere else, before us, before time. They come into the world and make us. They make us by breaking us first.”

“But other times, when everything was so dark out on the sea that I felt already erased, it seemed like a kindness that life before the floods had gone on for as long as it did. Like a miracle without a name.”

“I don’t know how to talk to Pearl about what lay beneath us. Farms that fed the nation. Small houses built on quiet residential streets for the post-World War II baby boom. Moments of history between walls. The whole story of how we moved through time, marking the earth with our needs.”

TQWhat's next?

Kassandra:  I’m currently working on my next novel, a gothic murder mystery.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kassandra:  Thank you!!

After the Flood
William Morrow, September 3, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

An inventive and riveting epic saga, After the Flood signals the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.

A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.

Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.

On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.

A compulsively readable novel of dark despair and soaring hope, After the Flood is a magnificent, action packed, and sometimes frightening odyssey laced with wonder—an affecting and wholly original saga both redemptive and astonishing.

About Kassandra

Photo by Nancy Kohler
Kassandra Montag is a poet and novelist. Her work has appeared in Mystery Weekly Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and Prairie Schooner, among other literary journals. She has won the Plainsongs Award, New Year's Poet Award, and 1877 Award.

Website  ~  Facebook

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Melanie's Month in Review - August 2019

Apologies reader for my tardiness posting my August month in review. I had it all planned. I was going to have my post written so that it was ready to go up last weekend. Work however, interrupted my carefully laid plan and here we are partway into September and I haven't yet told you about all the great books I read in August.

I have to say that I ended the summer with a couple of excellent books. One has even made it onto my fave books of all time! Pssst....and it's a debut! So what did I read?

I will start with books I listened to. First up is Ben Aaranovitch's The October Man which is a novella in the Rivers of London series but not starring my favourite member of magic police Peter Grant. Instead, Aaronovitch stages the story in Germany with Tobias Winter investigating a recent grizzly murder by magic. Set in Trier, a former Roman city and famous for its wine, Tobias needs to find out why a man was found dead covered in a fungal rot. Not just any fungus but one used in the making of a special vintage of wine. Tobias is joined by a local cop,Vanessa Sommer, and together they need to find out who is killing these men and why. Little do they know that the city's bloody history forms the backdrop for the murders. Unlike a well-aged wine time is not on their side.

I thoroughly enjoyed The October Man and am really glad I chose to listen to the audio version rather than read it as my sister read the book a week before me and said that she struggled with all the German names. The narrator Sam Peter Jackson really brought Tobias Winter to life and it was much easier to listen to the story with a 'easy to listen to' German accent than trying to read the English translation of German words. I thought the plot was engaging and really drew you in from the very start. For a novella it seemed much longer and I think that was down to the well developed plot. If you like this series then definitely give The October Man a go.

My second audiobook was The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. As this was the last book of the trilogy and because I loved it soo much I wrote a full review. Check it out here.

Another series I finished was Michael McClung's Amra Thetys series with The Thief Who Went to War. In this final instalment Amra and Holgren are determined to destroy the final blade of the Blades of the Eightfold Goddess. Amra was left with a not so little reminder after her last encounter with one of the blades and is now an avatar for a goddess. Determined to find a way to destroy the final knife Amra returns to Lucernis for a showdown to end all showdowns...and possibly her life!

I only discovered this series by participating as a judge in the SPFBO two years ago and book 1, The Thief that Pulled on Trouble's Braids, had been the winner the year before. It has been 4 years between the final and penultimate books in the series so fans who were there from the start had quite a long wait to see how McClung would finish the series. While I liked this instalment it wasn't the best of the series and I think I might have been a tiny bit disappointed if I had waited 4 years to find out whether Amra and Holgren would make it. Amra has one too many lucky escapes for my liking and it was action, action, action from very early on in the book until the end. There wasn't as much character development as there had been in previous books. However, it's still a good series.

The final book I have to tell you about is Half Way Home by Hugh Howey. Set in the future where ships are sent out to colonise new planets with 500 vat grown humans on board. On the way to their eventual new home they are educated and trained in a specialism as they sleep. Midway through their development cycle the AI controlling their ship decides to start the abort sequence and only 60 teenagers manage to escape. Alone, scared and without all the skills they need to survive they have to rely on each other and the AI that almost killed them to survive. It's not long before they realise it's not just the inhospitable planet that they have landed on that is the biggest threat to their survival.

I loved Howey's Wool series so, in my opinion, it was going to be hard to follow those books. I didn't realise that when I requested Half Way Home from the publisher on NetGalley that it was originally released in 2010. It's a good book but it's not a great book and I found it quite predictable in parts. It is, however, quite short so a quick read if you are looking for some half decent science fiction.

Well that is it for me for August. I do have one more August book to share with you but I am planning on writing a full review so keep your eyes peeled to find out what book has made it onto my top reads ever. Sorry for being a tease! Happy Reading!

The October Man
A Rivers of London Novella
Subterranean Press, May 31, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 169 pages

With this long new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series.

If you thought magic was confined to one country—think again.

Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany’s oldest city.

When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.

Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork.

Together with frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he quickly links the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men whose novel approach to their mid-life crisis may have reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century.

As the rot spreads, literally, and the suspect list extends to people born before Frederick the Great, Tobias and Vanessa will need to find allies in some unexpected places.

And to solve the case they’ll have to unearth the secret magical history of a city that goes back two thousand years.

Presuming that history doesn’t kill them first.

Winter of the Witch
Winternight Trilogy 3
Del Rey, October 1, 2019
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover, Audiobook, and eBook, January 8, 2019

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Vasilisa Petrovna is an unforgettable heroine determined to forge her own path. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

The Thief Who Went to War
Amra Thetys 5
eBook, August 10, 2019
Trade Paperback, July 30, 2019

After barely surviving the attentions of the Knife That Parts the Night, Amra and Holgren are determined to end the threat posed by the remaining sentient, powerful Blades of the Eightfold Goddess. They are willing to risk everything to win their secret war, but can they succeed when their adversaries are cunning, powerful beyond measure, and utterly ruthless? And even if they can, what will it cost them?

Half Way Home
Mariner Books, October 1, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

From the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Wool and the Molly Fyde saga comes a story of teenage colonists marooned on a distant planet


Five hundred colonists have been sent across the stars to settle an alien planet. Vat-grown in a dream-like state, they are educated through simulations by an artificial intelligence and should awaken at thirty years old, fully-trained, and ready to tame the new world.

But fifteen years in, an explosion on their vessel kills most of the homesteaders and destroys the majority of their supplies. Worse yet, the sixty that awaken and escape the flames are only half-taught and possess the skills least useful for survival.

Naked and terrified, the teens stumble from their fiery baptism ill-prepared for the unfamiliar and harsh alien world around them. Though they attempt to work with the colony A.I. to build a home, tension and misery are rampant, escalating into battles for dominance.

Soon they find that their worst enemy isn’t the hostile environment, the A.I., or the blast that nearly killed them. Their greatest danger is each other.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Interview with Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga, authors of The Resurrectionist of Caliga

Please welcome Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Resurrectionist of Caligo was published on September 10, 2019 by Angry Robot.

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

Wendy:  At some point in second grade, I made the leap from “plagiarizing” Misty of Chincoteague to creating an original popup book about a dinosaur with a time machine who befriends a petite dino-fairy…and I can’t say my stylistic tendencies have significantly changed much since then.

Alicia:  Everything I wrote before a certain age is a foggy blank, so all that remains is my high fantasy novel that I started in high school. There was amnesia! There were dark family secrets! And characters introduced only to be killed a few chapters later! It goes without saying it was epic in length.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Wendy:  I am an incorrigible pantser and chaos fairy. Left to my own devices, once I find a character voice that intrigues me, I will chase them around and make them increasingly miserable because their tears bring me great joy.

Alicia:  I’m a pantser who aspires to be a plotter until I actually sit down and start typing and suddenly nothing goes the way I planned in my head.

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

Wendy:  Figuring out the lines of demarcation—what’s mine, what’s yours, and in what circumstances may we cross that line? With one exception, all the characters fall into either a “Wendy” or “Alicia” bucket—this determined who had the final say on that character’s voice, motivation etc. While we (usually) drafted our respective POV character’s chapters, we also heavily edited in one another’s sections to ensure the cross-over character voices and overall tone stayed consistent throughout.

Alicia:  Giving up full creative control. It’s something that’s very easy to take for granted, but it’s definitely the most challenging aspect of working together. We have different likes and dislikes, different writing habits, and different ways of attacking the work. So when we set about discovering characters and setting, we constantly need to open ourselves to what the other person wants to bring to the table regardless of whether or not it’s an aspect we naturally would have included on our own.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Wendy:  I have a soft spot for dark, offbeat, obscure lit, especially if it challenges me emotionally, and I do my best to learn from eclectic reading. Writing is how I’ve dealt with past trauma in my life, and so I tend to reach for the biggest, scariest, emotions I can, then inundate my characters with everything I can throw at them. They do the work for me. I find myself writing a lot about death—it’s cathartic.

Alicia:  My influences tend to be mercurial, and they’re never limited to one medium. For instance, this week, I’m absolutely in love with Isak Danielson’s song Power, TwoSetViolin YouTube videos, re-watching episodes of Justified, and reading about the history of safecracking. And all of that is getting baked into what I’m writing at the moment, whether through mood, inspiration, or as research.

TQDescribe The Resurrectionist of Caligo using only 5 words.

Wendy:  magic is fake, hail science! (don’t mind me, I’m just trolling my co-author. #TeamScience)

Alicia:  (I see how it is… #RealMagic) mysterious happenings and unrequited angst

TQTell us something about The Resurrectionist of Caligo that is not found in the book description.

Wendy:  Books are frequently discussed according to their central romantic relationships, but what about other key relationships? One of my personal favorites is Roger’s friendship with a ferocious graveyard-haunting wild child.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Resurrectionist of Caligo?

Wendy:  It all started as a “for fun” writing exercise. Alicia emailed me a letter that began “Dear Snotsniffer” (uh…it’s still in the final draft) and that set the tone for our character’s snarky exchanges around which the entire book is built on. She let me pick the setting (gothic Victorian cemeteries!) and is still regretting that decision.

Alicia:  On a very basic level, I just wanted to try a fun letter exchange writing exercise and somehow managed to convince Wendy to participate as the other half. I actually didn’t go into the project with very many expectations of what it would be.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Resurrectionist of Caligo?

Wendy:  I am fascinated by morbid history, and this book provided ample excuses for procrastination—err, research. I read 200-year-old (digital) copies of The Lancet medical journal to learn bloodletting techniques, collected necropolis photographs, perused poems written to commemorate hangings. In an emergency, I could probably extricate a corpse from a coffin using an old Scottish method…

Alicia:  I wanted the magic to have its root in aquatic life, so I spent a good deal of time exploring different sea creatures—from jellyfish to squids to the mighty pistol shrimp—and their various underwater traits. I also read up on how to address royalty in letters and greetings and how pet names were created within royal families. And then there was the concertina… Despite very few scenes making it through the editing process with the princess actually playing the instrument, I myself watched endless videos and listened to several performances in an attempt to get a feel for how one would play the instrument. I even contemplated buying my own concertina at one point, but fortunately reason prevailed, as I’m sure I’d be even worse at learning the thing than Sibylla is in the book.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Resurrectionist of Caligo.

Wendy:  Our amazing cover artist John Coulthart ( couldn’t have designed a more fitting cover. It features our leads, Sibylla and Roger, who are aptly facing away from each other (they’ve had a falling out from the start). Sibylla has a hand raised, and her ink-magic flows in ribbons around the border. Meanwhile, “Man of Science” Roger holds a skull and stares down his biggest fear. My favorite detail is the central anatomical heart, which I think sums up their strained relationship perfectly.

Alicia:  And if you want to know more, check out this post where the artist specifically discusses the challenge of creating our particular cover:

TQIn The Resurrectionist of Caligo who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Wendy:  Ada the ferocious waif was pretty easy—I subverted the sweet Cosette type and channeled Maddie Ziegler from the Sia music videos. Roger was more challenging in his complexity. Male protagonists in SFF often exude power, logic, and/or sexual appeal. Roger gets the short end of the stick in every department except the soft heart he shields behind a defensive, snarky voice. Since he’s more flawed cinnamon bun than action hero, I couldn’t let him bust heads to solve his problems (and he has many).

Alicia:  For me, the easiest was Harrod, Roger’s naval captain older brother. He’s a straightforward individual and has very defined ways of behaving with the other characters in the book. I didn’t really feel like any character was hard to write so much as almost every character had a challenging rewrite moment/scene. Rewrites tend to require the extras: extra explanations, extra understanding, extra delivery of head canon, which makes them trickier.

TQDoes The Resurrectionist of Caligo touch on any social issues?

Wendy:  Class differences play a big role in the book. Near the bottom of the social hierarchy, Roger has pride but virtually no power, so he rages ineffectually against the system while trying (and failing) to live his life outside it.

Alicia:  There’s a lot of exploration of position and how that position can vary in different contexts. Sibylla, as a princess, has a great deal of power over the vast majority of society in the book, however, within her own family, she has very little freedom or ability to exercise her own will.

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

Alicia:  What’s up with Sibylla’s parents? So glad you asked… It was very important to me when writing Sibylla that she not be the orphaned princess who tragically lost her parents or the horribly mistreated princess suffering under the weight of her nefarious, overbearing parent(s) who wants to take over the world. In many ways, Sibylla’s parents are lovingly absentee, and Sibylla absolutely adores them. Her mother in particular is pragmatic and warm. She genuinely wants her daughter to find happiness but also understands the confines of her royal position. Her advice in the book is easily one of my favorite aspects of a character.

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


“‘Those class differences you harp upon ain’t real!’ Roger shouted. ‘No human is better than another. I’ve cut up enough of ‘em, and we all look more or less the same on the inside. We all rot when we’re dead. A smart man may have a small brain or the other way ‘round. Royals claim their faerie magic, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.’”


“Whether she liked it or not, Roger had turned into one of the most ostentatious writers she’d ever had the displeasure to come across, as in love with his own words as he was with his transgressions.”

TQWhat's next?

Wendy:  Right now I’m working on an odd little story about a put-upon astronaut being stalked by an otherworldly cat, and hopefully I can stick the landing. It’s hard for me to talk about works in progress because they often turn into completely different things by the time—or if—they make it out into the world.

Alicia:  All the things, no seriously… all the things. I keep bouncing around between several projects I equally love. Who will win in the end? Only time will decide.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo
Angry Robot, September 10, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

File Under: Fantasy [ Straybound | Royal Magic | A Good Hanging | Secret Sister ]

About the Authors

Wendy Trimboli grew up in England, Germany and the United States, and learned to speak two languages well enough that most people can understand her. Determined to ignore her preference for liberal arts, she attended the US Air Force Academy then worked as an intelligence officer, which was less exciting than it sounds. These days she has a creative writing MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Colorado with her family, border collie, and far too many books.

Twitter @Bookish_Wendy

Alicia Zaloga grew up in Virginia Beach not liking the beach, and now moves every few years, sometimes to places near beaches. She has a writing degree from Columbia College Chicago, and when she’s not dealing with life’s chores, she collects hobbies: plucking the E string on the bass, producing an alarming number of artistic doodles, and French beading floral bouquets.

Twitter @alicia_zaloga