Thursday, September 03, 2015

Interview with Kai Ashante Wilson

Please welcome Kai Ashante Wilson to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps was published on September 1st by

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

Kai Ashante Wilson:  I think like most writers I began as a tiny child, and started because writing seemed a natural extension of reading, my first and truest love. It wasn’t until 2010, though, after the six-week course at Clarion San Diego, that I began to write with the goal of publication.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Kai Ashante Wilson:  I make it up as I go along, though I hold off beginning a story until I have a sure idea of the ending.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kai Ashante Wilson:  Being patient with my crazy process is a challenge for sure. Beginning a ten chapter book, for example, I’ll usually write a random selection of five chapters quickly. But those five missing chapters will each take me as long to write singly as the first five chapters collectively, costing all the blood, sweat and tears in the world.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Kai Ashante Wilson:  I love Kenneth Rexroth’s translations from the Japanese and Chinese. I love Christopher Logue’s adaptations of the Iliad. I’m always excited about the next Tananarive Due novel. Paladin of Souls and Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold are both on my private list of “ten best epic fantasies ever.” And though this might not make sense to anyone else, Carmen McRae’s singing—where and just how she puts the emphasis in a song—has shaped my own sense of narrative rhythm, emotional beats, and how to inflect a sentence. (Pop over to YouTube and check out her versions of “Midnight Sun” and “As Time Goes By”.)

TQDescribe The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps in 140 characters or less.

Kai Ashante Wilson:  A nice country boy joins a wild fraternity while dating his dorm RA on the sly. But the boy’s a demigod; the frat, caravan guardsmen; the RA, last of the old world knights.

TQTell us something about The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps that is not found in the book description.

Kai Ashante Wilson:  I wrote this book before everything else I’ve ever published. I’m incredibly excited to see it finally in print!

TQWhat inspired you to write The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Kai Ashante Wilson:  I’ll answer the second question first: I enjoy a broad array of genres as a reader, but I only ever write fantasy. That’s where my inspiration arises.

I was sick enough to believe I was living in my last year when I began writing The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. (A six year old MRSA infection, failing antibiotics, long story). Some people would have gone on a long road trip, but I wanted to finish at least one piece of writing longer than a short story… yet not so long that I might not manage to write finis. With that impetus—under that shadow—I threw all my ideas into one pot, pulled out all the stops authors put into place under normal circumstance, and wrote the novella’s first draft. I could never write a story quite like this now; the specter of mortality charges the mind irreproducibly. Any reader, then, looking for a sedate and measured read: beware!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps?

Kai Ashante Wilson:  When I began the novella, I knew next to nothing about big-cat predation, sub-desert topography, or the practical mechanics of apotheosis. The Brooklyn main library at Grand Army Plaza was wonderfully helpful on these and other topics.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Kai Ashante Wilson:  Demane was the easiest to write. By nature, he has all the compassion I try to cultivate in myself. Writing him was encouragement for my own best impulses. Captain was the hardest to write. He’s socially maladept in exactly the manner I am, and has all my self-destructive tendencies unsuppressed, given full rein. It was hard going there.

TQWhich question about The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kai Ashante Wilson:

“Is this novella part of a greater continuity with your stories ‘Super Bass’ and ‘Légendaire’? And are you writing or have you written other works in the same continuity?”

What lovely, perceptive questions! And the answer to both is yes. I hope that my related, second novella, A Taste of Honey, will appear some time in 2016.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps.

Kai Ashante Wilson:  Here are a couple lines concerning the captain that I couldn’t find space for, though I tried and tried: “A dog that cowers and whines any fool can see has been kicked around. But what of the one that lunges, savage and snarling, at every hand no matter whose or how kindly, even the one that feeds? Damn, that’s mean dog! Is that what you say?”

TQ:  What's next?

Kai Ashante Wilson:  In the short term, I have short story, “Kaiju maximus®,” forthcoming in the December issue of Lightspeed. In the long term, I dearly hope to finally figure out the missing chapters of my first full novel: In the Country of Superwomen.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Note: You may read "Super Bass" here at

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, September 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 224 pages

Critically acclaimed author Kai Ashante Wilson makes his commercial debut with this striking, wondrous tale of gods and mortals, magic and steel, and life and death that will reshape how you look at sword and sorcery.

Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors' artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.
The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.
The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.

About Kai Ashante Wilson

Kai Ashante Wilson's stories "Super Bass" and the Nebula-nominated "The Devil in America" can be read online gratis at His story "Légendaire" can be read in the anthology Stories for Chip, which celebrates the legacy of science fiction grandmaster Samuel Delany. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.

Press Release: Barnes & Noble and Samsung Unveil New Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK®

Press Release

Barnes & Noble and Samsung Unveil New Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK®

Best Ever NOOK® by Samsung Brings Together Samsung’s Most Powerful Tablet with NOOK’s Reading and Entertainment Experience

Barnes & Noble and Samsung’s Thinnest, Lightest and Ultra-Fast Tablet Now Available in Barnes & Noble Stores and Online at

New York, NY– September 3, 2015 –Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), in conjunction with Samsung Electronics America, today announced the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK, an 8-inch tablet blending Samsung’s elegant design and multi-tasking power with NOOK’s unparalleled reading and entertainment experience. The new flagship in Samsung’s line of tablets, the co-branded Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK is the thinnest, lightest, ultra-fast device from the two companies. It is now available in Barnes & Noble stores nationwide and online at for $399.99, including a special limited-time offer for customers to choose three free NOOK Books® and three free NOOK Magazines® from a selection of titles, plus a $5 starter credit and free lifetime in-store support.

Interview with Alan Gold

Please welcome Alan Gold to The Qwillery. Bat Out of Hell was published on September 1, 2015 by Yucca Publishing.

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

Alan Gold (AG):  I started writing as a journalist a million years ago. My first book was about my wife's pregnancy, from a man's perspective. Then I wrote an academic book about marketing. So I really have been dealing in fiction much of my life. I've now written 25 novels published and translated throughout the world, avidly read by me and my family.

TQAre you a plotter, pantser or hybrid?

AG:  I'm a plotter. I devise the overall story at the very beginning, often based on reading or watching the Simpsons on TV, and then I go into detail about the plotline and the subplots. But these always change and evolve as I'm writing, or as I'm doing my research after I've written the first draft.

TQYou are a literary critic. How does this affect or not your own writing?

AG:  Yes, I'm a critic, but I never let it affect my writing. I put on one of my de Bono hats and become another person entirely when I read a book for review. Then, when I've written my review, I put on my novelist's hat and become a different person (my psychiatrist says that there are probably many literary critics, as well as potential girlfriends for Donald Trump, inside my brain.

TQDescribe Bat out of Hell in 140 characters or less.

AG:  Mammalian bats have been living apart from other fauna for 50 million years. They've developed viruses in their blood which are unknown to modern primates. Now they're living in city centre botanical gardens spreading their filth. Bram Stoker was prescient.

TQTell us something about Bat out of Hell that is not found in the book description.

AG:  It's author is breath-takingly beautiful

TQWhat inspired you to write Bat out of Hell?

AG:  One of Australia's television presenters, Richard Morecroft, used to read the news with a distressed bat underneath his jacket, giving it warmth. I wondered whether it could cause Richard harm, so I looked up bat diseases, and kerpow....a book was born.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Bat out of Hell? Why did you choose bats as the disease vector?

AG:  I spent hours with Professor Google, as well as talking by email around the world to zoologists, mammalian specialists and those who study the order Chiroptera. But I didn't want to confuse a good story with too many specialist's facts, so I kept it as general as possible, while trying to be true to the research. But this is a novel, not a scientific text, and makes no pretense at scientific veracity....but I don't think too many scientists would have problems with much of it, except the last page. However, I don't expect to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate for contributions to science.

TQWhich question about Bat out of Hell do you wish someone would ask? Please ask it and answer it!


     Q. If bats are as dangerous as you claim in your book, Alan, why are they allowed in botanical gardens?

     A. What a brilliant question! Well, they're being frightened off by grounds keepers because of their filth and the damage they do to flora. But the truth is that I....only I....truly know how deadly bats are. They're thought to be the original source of AIDS, SARS, Hendra, rabies and many other viruses which affect humanity. Yet only I know the truth. Only I can save the world from these harbingers of death. But I'm a lone voice in the wilderness. Nobody takes me seriously. But one day....

TQWhat's next?

AG:  A book about the Holocaust called The Mechanic. Then a book called Lady of the Night about a wannabe professor of literature who is constantly rejected by the New York publishing cabal, so he writes a pseudonymous book as a woman, but it becomes an overnight success, and he has to hire a lady to masquerade as the writer, and then....and then...don't worry, I'll send you a copy when it's published.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

AG:  Thank you for having me, Sally, and my apologies for me being a scientific charlatan (though interestingly, my wife thinks I'm a literary charlatan as well....hmmmm)

Bat out of Hell: An Eco-Thriller
Yucca Publishing, September 1, 2015
Hardcover and eBook,284 pages

From the jungles of Indonesia to the very heart of New York City comes a plague that kills 100 percent of its victims. Medicine’s greatest nightmare, this modern black death is caused by the most virulent and uncontrollable mutant virus humanity has ever witnessed. And medicine can do nothing to stop its merciless spread.

Scientist Debra Hart and her team of experts are tasked by the United Nations to stop the disease. Racing against time, they must find the cause and the cure and figure out why this deadly disease—spread by bats—is killing thousands in cities across the globe. Debra and her team will struggle to stop the disease from spreading to millions more, even if it means killing off every bat alive. But fighting to prevent her are manic animal rights’ activists who rail against species genocide, even if it means risking the deaths of human beings. And hidden behind a cloak of secrecy is a crazed academic who’ll even kill top American government officials to save one living creature.

This is the nightmare scenario that Debra faces as the public becomes so terrified of bats that entire communities become vigilantes.

About Alan Gold

Alan Gold continues as an influential columnist for The Spectator, The Australian and other highly regarded magazines and related media. He appears regularly in the media as a commentator on human rights and international politics. Several of his twenty-plus books have been optioned for movies. Alan lives with his wife and three children.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @heritagetrilogy

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Interview with Zen Cho, author of Sorcerer to the Crown

Please welcome Zen Cho to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Sorcerer to the Crown was published on September 1st by Ace.

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

Zen Cho (ZC):  Thanks! I started when I was six, but I didn't figure out how to finish stories till I was 16. I started writing for publication when I was 24, so it's taken a while.

I started writing because books made me. So I wanted to make books of my own.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

ZC:  Plotter. Especially for longer works, I outline in detail: it means that when I get home from my day job in the evening, I don't have to think about what happens next. I can just look at my outline and bash it out.

The two most challenging things are time – there never seems to be enough, and because writing is the hardest thing I have to do on a regular basis (though it's also the most rewarding), it can end up going to the bottom of the to-do list if I don't force myself to move it up. And I also have a lot of self-doubt, which I'm sure all writers have. A small amount is healthy but too much can stop you from doing the work.

TQYou edited Cyberpunk: Malaysia, which was published in 2015. How has your editing experience affected or not your own writing?

ZC:  It was a very interesting experience! I'd known in theory that (good) editors only want to help you improve your work, and they don't critique to hurt your feelings or because they think you're an idiot. But doing editorial work myself made me really get that. I hope it'll make me better at dealing with the editorial process as a writer.

I'm more sensitive about the stories I've edited than my own work, even. I can't read negative reviews of Cyberpunk: Malaysia because I get so defensive on behalf of the writers.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

ZC:  I'm very much influenced by the authors I read as a child and teenager, so Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, Georgette Heyer, Patrick O'Brian and Jane Austen. When it comes to more recent authors, I love the work of Susanna Clarke, Naomi Novik, Geoff Ryman and Karen Lord. I've jokingly said that as a writer I'd like to be a combination of Pankaj Mishra and Edith Nesbit.

TQDescribe Sorcerer to the Crown in 140 characters or less.

ZC:  In Regency London, England's first black Sorcerer Royal doesn't need any more problems, but female magician Prunella Gentleman disagrees ...

TQTell us something about Sorcerer to the Crown that is not found in the book description.

ZC:  The blurb has a lot about English magic, but the book's really interested not in England, but Britain – the United Kingdom – and its connections with the wider world. There are a couple of appearances of magicians from the sorts of countries that don't usually appear in Regency novels!

TQWhat inspired you to write Sorcerer to the Crown? What appealed to you about writing Historical Fantasy?

ZC:  I really love Regency romances and like genre crossovers, so a Regency fantasy is my idea of a good time. I'd written two novels before Sorcerer to the Crown and had to chuck them and I was ready for a good time!

My interest in historical fantasy specifically comes from all the period fiction I read as a kid, by 19th century British writers. To a child in 20th century Malaysia Jane Austen's world might as well have been a fantasy world. I really enjoy playing with the different social norms in historical settings, and the language is such a delight. The fantasy element is because I just really like dragons. I go to fiction for things that couldn't happen in real life.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Sorcerer to the Crown?

ZC:  I read a lot of nonfiction about Georgian Britain, including the history of black people in Britain. I also read about India, China and Southeast Asia in that period. With fiction I was reading a lot of Georgette Heyer novels and the more obscure books written during the period – Maria Edgeworth, Mrs Inchbald, Pierce Egan's Real Life in London.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

ZC:  Prunella Gentleman was both the easiest and the hardest! She's the ambitious runaway orphan and female magical prodigy who vexes the protagonist, Zacharias Wythe. She writes herself because, to me, she has such a strong voice – I know exactly who she is. But in the course of revisions with my agent and editor it became evident that she wasn't really coming across to others as I'd imagined her, so I had to do a lot of work to get my understanding of her down onto the page.

TQWhich question about Sorcerer to the Crown do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


     Q: What does the name of Malayan witch Mak Genggang mean?

     A: It means "Mother Gingham" and I stole it from Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals, a historical/legendary work about the Melaka Sultanate).

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Sorcerer to the Crown.

ZC:  "The women of Janda Baik are not mild. Blood, and not milk, flows in our veins."

TQWhat's next?

ZC:  I'm working on Book 2 of the Sorcerer Royal trilogy. I've never worked on a second book before and it's both nervewracking and exciting.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

ZC:  Thank you for having me!

Sorcerer to the Crown
Sorcerer Royal 1
Ace, September 1, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

About Zen Cho

Darren Johnson / IDJ Photography
Zen Cho was born and raised in Malaysia. She has lived in three different countries and speaks around two and a half languages. She began publishing short stories in 2010 and has since been nominated for the Selangor Young Talent Awards, the Pushcart Prize and the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and honour-listed for the Carl Brandon Society Awards. Her short story collection Spirits Abroad, published by Malaysian indie press Buku Fixi in 2014, was a joint winner of the Crawford Fantasy Award, along with Stephanie Feldman’s novel The Angel of Losses. She occasionally writes romance as well as speculative fiction, and has self-published a historical romance novella set in the 1920s, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo.

Cho is the editor of anthology Cyberpunk: Malaysia, also published by Buku Fixi. She was a juror for the Speculative Literature Foundation 2014 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds grants. She also co-organised Nine Worlds Geekfest’s first Race & Culture track.

Her debut novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, is a historical fantasy set in Regency London, published in September 2015. It follows the adventures of Britain’s first African Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias Wythe, whose many problems are compounded when he meets runaway orphan Prunella Gentleman — a female magical prodigy, of all things. Sorcerer to the Crown is the first in a trilogy published by Ace/Roc Books (US) and Pan Macmillan (UK and Commonwealth).

Cho has a BA from Cambridge University. She lives in London with her partner and practises law in her copious free time. The two things she loves most in the world are books and food, but she also enjoys travel, shoes and lively conversations.

Website  ~   Twitter @zenaldehyde  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~  Instagram

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Take On Me by Minerva Zimmerman

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.

Minerva Zimmerman

Take On Me
The Shattered Ones 1
Fireside Fiction Company, October 6, 2015
eBook, 238 pages

Turning someone you don’t know into a vampire probably violates the Hippocratic oath. But Alex wasn’t really thinking about that when he found a girl bleeding out in his shower.

Being turned into a vampire isn’t as cool as it sounds. Especially when all Hannah wanted to be was dead. She thought she had finally escaped her brother. Until she woke up. Alive? Undead? Whatever. And now Hannah is stuck with the uncoolest vampire in existence.

As Alex and Hannah feel each other out — breaking some bones along the way — Alex’s oldest friend comes looking for help, and Hannah’s brother comes looking for her. What none of them see are the forces pushing them all on a collision course.