Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations, and Giveaway - April 30, 2013


Please welcome Alex Hughes to The Qwillery as part of the Sharp Blog Tour. Sharp (Mindspace Investigations 2) was published on April 2, 2013.






TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery!

Alex:  Thank you! I’m thrilled to be here. I was so happy to be involved in the Debut Author Challenge last year, and incredibly touched by the response. You guys will always have a very special place in my heart because of that.

TQ:  Thank you. It was wonderful having you in the Challenge!



TQ:  Please tell us something about Sharp (Mindspace Investigations 2) that is not in the book description.

Alex:  The smart beat cop in Clean who spotted one of the key clues to solve the case is back, and he’s been promoted to junior detective working under Cherabino. Michael is smart, cheerful, and well-adjusted, everything Adam is not, and Adam is insanely jealous.



TQ:   Which character has surprised you the most in the series so far?

Alex:  Paulsen, actually. She started out as a pretty one-dimensional character, but over time she’s really developed into someone I’d like to spend time with. She’s interesting and strong in a way unique to her.



TQ:   What do you wish you'd known when the 1st book came out that you know now?

Alex:  Checking the Amazon ranking numbers every hour is a bad idea. Much better to be writing on the next book :)



TQ:  Are there any other genres in which you would like to write in addition to Science Fiction?

Alex:  I love good stories of every kind, and I love suspense. Mystery of course is a possibility, and a futuristic romance-adventure or a space opera. I’ve written short stories in crime fiction and literary stuff both in and out of science fiction / fantasy. I might also be interested in doing straight urban fantasy. The world is big and there’s a lot of room in it to explore great stories. I love great stories--of any kind, to be honest. :)



TQ:  Your bio says that you are "an avid cook and foodie." If you could invite 3 people fictional or not to dinner who would they be and what would you serve?

Alex:  I would serve my famous Eggplant Parmesan with homemade crusty bread and a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette and apples. As to who I would invite, that’s a tough one, and the answer will probably change depending on the day you ask me. Today I’ll say Q from Star Trek: TNG, Anne McCaffrey, and the biblical Saint Paul, preferably near the end of his life when he’s in jail. I have no idea what we’d talk about -- I might have to invite each separately.



TQ:  What's next?

Alex:  Books Three and Four in the Mindspace Investigations series are currently scheduled to come out in 2014. I’m also playing with some ideas in other worlds with other characters, so stay tuned.



TQ:   Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alex:  Thank you again for having me here!



Guilt – an excerpt from Sharp, Mindspace Investigations 2

You okay? came Cherabino’s thought again, frustrated. Tap, tap, her mind against mine, tap, tap, as if she could somehow feel my distress and reacted with impatience instead of care. Tap, tap, along the long yellow line back to the real world.

I followed that line, hand over hand, inch by painful blind inch, laboriously surfacing, one overwhelming moment at a time. She kept tapping. She kept pushing. It was the only thing that got me all the way there.

I woke to the clear view of the floor and my knees, twelve inches from the bloodstain, my nose overcome with bad smells. I hadn’t thrown up. I could say that much. And—mind shaking, aching, shivering in reaction pain, I realized I was back to mind-deaf. My head rang with pain, pain—but no emotion. I was deaf and blind again.

“You okay?” Cherabino asked.

I shook my head—and immediately thought better of it; the movement made the world spin.

My eyes caught the victim’s foot, her bare foot on the tile, and I saw a small tattoo, a circle of wavy lines, neurons, encircling a stylized S and Q. I sat down hard, on the tile. I knew that tattoo.

I knew that tattoo, and in combination with it the female mind, or who she’d once been. Her name hadn’t been Hamilton when I’d known her, but she hadn’t been married. Emily, her name had been. Even through the overwhelming pain in my head, I couldn’t let go of the thought. Emily had been one of my best advanced students, years ago. Before it all fell apart. Before her mind twisted into a knot—into something not an Abled mind anymore. Before I’d done the unthinkable.

“Are you okay?” Cherabino repeated.

I fought the guilt and the disorientation of seeing Emily again, seeing her dead. I fought the exposure sickness, the injury. I sat on them, hard, and built a barrier between us with bleeding fingers. Cherabino couldn’t know. She knew too many of my failures as it was.

One small knee shuffle at a time, I moved back, away from Emily. It wasn’t her fault she smelled of urine, dried blood, and darker things, but it wasn’t mine either.

“Well, did the husband do it?” Freeman asked.

“Are you okay?” Cherabino repeated.

I pulled myself to my feet and fished out my sunglasses over my now-light-sensitive eyes. “Unless the husband’s an ex-SEAL or something,” I said in a rasp, “somebody else did it. And now, unless there’s some kind of emergency, I’ll be in the car.”

Uncaring of reactions, I stumbled out of the devil house, away from the seat of every failure I’d ever had, down the stupid steep stairs, and climbed into the backseat of the cop car. I needed to be horizontal. Now.




Mindspace Investigations

Sharp
Mindspace Investigations 2
Roc, April 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF, EVEN FOR TELEPATHS.…

As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.

And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino's longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all...



Payoff
A Mindspace Investigations Novella
Roc, March 5, 2013
eBook

Being a telepath, I should have seen the hell I was getting myself into…

I used to be one of the most powerful telepaths in the guild. That was before my drug addiction and before they kicked me out. But I'm not a bad guy. Now I help the Atlanta PD solve murders. And even though there are only a few people I call friends, I'd do most anything to keep their trust.

So when a judge asks me to help investigate a missing college kid, I'm down for it. No questions asked. No problem. But in this dark world, things are never easy and a favor is never just a favor. Turns out, politicians don’t like being murder suspects. And it's bad to anger someone with more power than you. I thought I had nothing to lose... I was wrong.

Includes a preview of Alex Hughes’s Sharp



Clean
Mindspace Investigations 1
Roc, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

A RUTHLESS KILLER—
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.

My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.

Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.





About Alex

Alex has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, she has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area, including Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered. Her work is dark, complex, action-filled and a little funny. Her Mindspace Investigations series has been called "A fun blend of Chinatown and Blade Runner" by James Knapp, and Publisher's Weekly called her "a writer to watch."

When not writing you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and humming to delightfully obscure music.

Learn more about Alex and her work at www.ahugheswriter.com.


Website  ~  Blog  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Goodreads





The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Clean (Mindspace Investigations 1) from Alex. US ONLY

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on May 10, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Hot Blooded (Jessica McClain 2) by Amanda Carlson - April 29, 2013


Hot Blooded
Author:  Amanda Carlson
Series:  Jessica McClain 2
Publisher:  Orbit, April 23, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
Price:  $13.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780316205214 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher via NetGalley

It hasn't been the best week for Jessica McClain.

Her newly found mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge, and Jessica is positive she can save him.

But being the only female werewolf in town comes with its own set of rules and powers... if only she understood them.

Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means.

The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties...



My Thoughts:

Hot Blooded, the 2nd Jessica McClain novel, picks up immediately after the end of Full Blooded. Jessica has only been a werewolf for a few days. She is the only female werewolf in the world. Prophecies regarding what she is swirl around and endanger her as well as those close to her.

Hot Blooded is as much about Jessica starting to learn about her powers as it is about her desire/need to rescue her mate. As the story progresses we learn more and more about Jessica’s powers along with her. I suspect that we are very far from learning all about what she can do and who/what she is. At the moment she is running on adrenaline and gut instincts with more than a little help from her wolf. Her powers surprise her and those around her. One of the things I like most about Jessica is that, despite wielding what seems to be unimaginable powers, she continues to be compassionate. Becoming a wolf had not changed her essential human nature. It will be interesting to see if she struggles with this over future novels. This is not to say that she can’t make the tough decisions, she certainly does. She simply does not solve every problem by killing it.

Jessica does not go it alone in Hot Blooded. There is a lovely supporting cast of characters with her on this journey. It’s a pleasure reading about Jessica’s interactions with her friends/companions. Ms. Carlson does not skimp on the bad guys. They were awful, of course. There is also a touch of humor, which keeps the story from being grim at all the right times.

Hot Blooded is wonderfully fast paced. Unlike the prior novel there is no cliffhanger, but it does end with new issues for Jessica to face. I certainly hope that she brings along her friends in the next novel.

Ms. Carlson does not disappoint in the second Jessica McClain novel. Hot Blooded is full of action, monsters galore (some of which I’d never seen before) and a psychotic and vicious Goddess. I’m looking forward to Jessica’s next adventure. Jessica McClain remains one of my favorite Urban Fantasy heroines.



Note: While you don’t have to read Full Blooded to understand the events in Hot Blooded, I suggest you do because it’s a terrific read. You may read my review of Blooded (a prequel eNovella) here, of Full Blooded here and read an interview with Amanda here.





Prior books in the Jessica McClain series:

Full Blooded
Jessica McClain 1
Orbit, September 11, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

After living in hiding for the last twenty-six years, Jessica wakes up to find she's become a full-blooded werewolf -- claws, fangs, fur, everything. It was never supposed to happen: female werewolves don't exist.

When a mercenary killer comes looking for her, her Pack finds themselves caught in the middle of a war. They must rise up to protect her, but no one knows if she's means the end of their race-or just a new beginning.



Blooded
Jessica McClain Novella
Orbit, April 11, 2012
eNovella, ~61 pages

Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is-she's no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can-in the ring.

When she's brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer . . .




Upcoming in the Jessica McClain series:

Cold Blooded
Jessica McClain3
Orbit, October 8, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Jessica arrives back in town to find her best friend missing and the most powerful witch in the country is blaming her for it. But before they can move to save her, the group is attacked.

On the run, Jessica and Rourke head to the mountains. Several surprises await them, but in order to save her father they are forced to leave for New Orleans early.

Arriving on the Vampire Queen’s doorstep unexpectedly, and bringing trouble on their heels, the Sects are thrown into an all out war. The vicious skirmish ends up forcing the vamps and Jessica to fight on the same team.

The Vamp Queen ends up owing Jessica, but what Jessica doesn’t realize is just how soon she’ll have to cash it in.


The View From Monday - April 29, 2013

We've reached the last Monday in April. Spring is sort of here. It's still a bit colder than normal. Despite this everything has started to bloom. See?



Here are the remaining April genre releases.

There are two Debuts this week:   

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu;

and

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar.


And from former Debut Author Challenge featured authors:

One for the Wicked (Dark Mission 5) by Karina Cooper;

Wicked as She Wants (Blud 2) by Delilah S. Dawson;

Silver by Rhiannon Held is available in Mass Market Paperback. It was published originally in Trade Paperback;

and

Year Zero by Rob Reid is available is Trade Paperback. It was published originally as a Hardcover.


There are quite a few books, etc. out this week so if you click here you can print a PDF to take shopping with you.



April 29, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Clockwork Mafia (e) Seleste deLaney SP/W/R
Club Monstrosity (e) Jesse Petersen UF




April 30, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Gilead's Blood (ri) Dan Abnett
Nik Vincent
F - Warhammer
Bronze Gods A. A. Aguirre SP - Apparatus Infernum 1
Hair Raising Kevin J. Anderson UF - Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. 3
As Twilight Falls Amanda Ashley PNR
Rogue Descendant Jenna Black UF - Nikki Glass 3
The Serene Invasion Eric Brown SF
Invincible (h2mm) Jack Campbell SF - Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier 3
Earth Unaware (h2mm) Orson Scott Card
Aaron Johnston
SF - First Formic War 1
We Have Always Lived on Mars: A Tor.Com Original (e) Cecil Castellucci SF
The Lives of Tao (D) Wesley Chu SF
One for the Wicked Karina Cooper PNR - Dark Mission 5
Wicked as She Wants Delilah S. Dawson F - Blud 2
Deep Space Ian Douglas SF - Star Carrier 4
Dark Wolf Kate Douglas PNR - Spirit Wild 1
Blackmail Earth (h2mm) Bill Evans Th/SF
Siege (tp2mm) Rhiannon Frater PA/Z - As the World Dies 3
The Stranger's Magic (h2tp) Max Frei UF - Labyrinths of Echo 3
A Perfect Beast Michael Jan Friedman
Robert Greenberger
Peter David
SF - After Earth Prequel
Tides of War (h2mm) Christie Golden F - World of Warcraft: Jaina Proudmoore 2
Graveyard Child M.L.N. Hanover UF - Black Sun's Daughter 5
Silver (tp2mm) Rhiannon Held UF - Silver 1
NOS4A2 Joe Hill SuSu
Dark Days Caitlin Kittredge UF - Black London 6
Roses in Moonlight Lynn Kurland PNR - De Piaget 15
World Divided (h2mm) Mercedes Lackey
Cody Martin
Dennis Lee
Veronica Giguere
SF - Secret World Chronicle 2
The Bone Triangle B. V. Larson SF/SuM - Unspeakable Things 2
Rebirth (tp2mm) Sophie Littlefield PA - Aftertime 2
Etruscans (ri) Morgan Llywelyn
Michael Scott
F - Beloved of the Gods 1
The Folded World Jeff Mariotte SF - Star Trek: The Original Series
The Devil's Heart Cathy Maxwell HistR w/ PE - The Chattan Curse
Echoes of Betrayal (h2mm) Elizabeth Moon F - Paladin's Legacy
Crucible of Gold (h2mm) Naomi Novik F - Temeraire 7
Accidentally...Evil? (e) Mimi Jean Pamfiloff PNR - Accidentally Yours
The Book of the Sword (e) (ri) Diana L. Paxson F - The Hallowed Isle 1
The Book Of The Spear (e) (ri) Diana L. Paxson F - The Hallowed Isle 2
The Book Of The Stone (e) (ri) Diana L. Paxson F - The Hallowed Isle 4
The Book Of The Cauldron (e) (ri) Diana L. Paxson F - The Hallowed Isle 3
The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! Angie Pedersen SF - Star Trek: Crafts
Guards! Guards! (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 8
Pyramids (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 7
Sourcery (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 5
Wyrd Sisters (ri) Terry Pratchett F - Discworld 6
Year Zero (h2tp) Rob Reid SF
The Last Victim (h2mm) Karen Robards PRS - Charlotte Stone 1
A Stranger in Olondria (D) Sofia Samatar F
Five Autobiographies and a Fiction Lucius Shepard F - Collection
The Darkest Kiss (ri) Gena Showalter PNR - Lords of the Underworld 2
The Darkest Night (ri) Gena Showalter PNR - Lords of the Underworld 1
The Darkest Pleasure (ri) Gena Showalter PNR - Lords of the Underworld 3
The Darkest Whisper (ri) Gena Showalter PNR - Lords of the Underworld 4
Flashback (tp2mm) Dan Simmons SF
Dark Magic (h2mm) James Swain Th/F
Advent (h2tp) James Treadwell F
Necessary Evil Ian Tregillis SF - The Milkweed Triptych 3
Dust (tp2mm) Joan Frances Turner H - Dust 1
Good-bye Robinson Crusoe and Other Stories John Varley SF - Collection
Oath Bound Rachel Vincent UF - Unbound 3
Transgalactic (tp2mm) (ri) A.E. Van Vogt
Eric Flint (ed)
David Drake (ed)
SF - Collection
The Touch (ri) F. Paul Wilson SuTh/H - The Adversary Cycle 3
Judgment at Proteus (h2mm) Timothy Zahn SF - Quadrail 5



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


F - Fantasy
H - Horror
HistR - Historical Romance
M - Mystery
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PRS - Paranormal Romantic Suspense
R - Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SP - Steampunk
SPR - Steampunk Romance
Su - Supernatural
SuSu - Supernatural Suspense
Th - Thriller
UF -  Urban Fantasy
W - Western
Z - Zombies

Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - April 28, 2013





The Qwillery is pleased to announce the 3 newest featured authors for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.





Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice
Orbit, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

[Cover forthcoming]
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose--to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.





Jaime Lee Moyer

Delia's Shadow
Tor Books, September 17, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.






Jay Posey

Three
Legends of the Duskwalker 1
Angry Robot Books, July 30, 2013 (US/Canada)
August 1, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook

The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more.

But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantle of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Three For All | Apocalyptic Wasteland | A Journey Home | Fear the Weir ]



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: London Falling by Paul Cornell - April 27, 2013



London Falling
Author:  Paul Cornell
Publisher:  Tor Books, April 16, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
Price:  $24.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765330277 (print)
Review copy:  Purchased by Melanie

Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.





Melanie's Thoughts:

London Falling starts out as a traditional police thriller with Detective James Quill leading the investigation and subsequent arrest of the notorious drug lord, Toshack. Just when he thinks he is going to wrap up the case of his career his world is turned upside down when Toshack mysteriously dies while in police custody (in a most gruesome fashion, I might add). It is at this point that the story takes a turn from traditional thriller to supernaturally, weird and crazy with a purely evil antagonist. Quill and his team uncovers something far more evil than Toshack and it’s a race against time to save London, his colleagues and himself from an evil power the likes he has never come across before.

Like the action in the story Cornell keeps a frenetic pace with the story swapping between the different characters. I felt it was written more like the script for TV rather than as a novel with subtext and inference playing heavily in the interaction between characters. I found it a bit difficult to get into the story at first due to the number of police acronyms that Cornell used but found a glossary at the back of the book after I had finished reading it! That is the problem with ebooks as useful things like glossaries hide at the back and I don’t find them until the end. I think that maybe I would have engaged a bit earlier had I found the glossary sooner. However, once I got to grips with the police ‘talk’ and as the plot progressed I soon became completely engrossed in the story and all its dysfunctional characters. Cornell doesn’t just make the dialogue authentic from a police perspective he also uses local colloquialisms. As a non-native Londoner I always enjoy books that are based here but I wonder how easily others pick up the local jargon and slang that Cornell litters throughout the story. I thought the plot was unique and much more grisly than I was expecting and Mora Losely was chilling and completely evil. The backdrop to how she came to be a witch was interesting and the fact that she was a serial killing West Ham fan was quite amusing in its own right.My husband is a West Ham fan and while I am a football widow from August to May I think even the most ardent fan would draw the line at the atrocities that Mora did to support her team.

Cornell develops his characters through POV chapters and uses this technique to create a substantive backstory for each one. However, I couldn’t really connect with any of them despite having a full and rich background for each. I think this was down to the pace of the story, the characterization and the fact there were four lead characters to keep track of.I thought it was a bit unusual, although not in a bad way, to have so many lead characters that each had equal time dedicated to their lives and their backstory. I found that I was spending as much time keeping their stories straight as I was following the main plot and this distracted me somewhat from what was happening in the overall. It is however, a testament to Cornell’s story telling ability in that he can intertwine the four broken and fractured lives of his main characters with a nail biting plot. Cornell devises a unique, interesting plot and sets the scene for future novels in the series.

While Cornell is an accomplished writer in other genres and mediums this is his first urban fantasy novel and demonstrates his imagination and creativity. While I really enjoyed London Falling (as much as you can enjoy reading about a serial killer) I didn’t love it. I think that now that I have come to understand the characters and their motivation through this novel that I will enjoy subsequent books more. If you are a fan of murder mysteries and like the supernatural element then I urge you to give London Falling a go.

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - April 27, 2013





The Qwillery is pleased to announce the 3 newest featured authors for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.



Mark T. Barnes

The Garden of Stones
Echoes of Empire 1
47North, May 21, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 506 pages

An uneasy peace has existed since the fall of the Awakened Empire centuries ago. Now the hybrid Avān share the land with the people they once conquered: the star-born humans; the spectral, undead Nomads; and what remains of the Elemental Masters.

With the Empress-in-Shadows an estranged ghost, it is the ancient dynasties of the Great Houses and the Hundred Families that rule. But now civil war threatens to draw all of Shrīan into a vicious struggle sparked by one man’s lust for power, and his drive to cheat death.

Visions have foretold that Corajidin, dying ruler of House Erebus, will not only survive, but rise to rule his people. The wily nobleman seeks to make his destiny certain—by plundering the ruins of his civilization’s past for the arcane science needed to ensure his survival, and by mercilessly eliminating his rivals. But mercenary warrior-mage Indris, scion of the rival House Näsarat, stands most powerfully in the usurper’s bloody path. For it is Indris who reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing man, the only one able to steer the teetering nation towards peace.





Richard Ellis Preston, Jr.

Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders
The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin 1
47North, July 2, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 456 pages

In a post-apocalyptic world of endless snow, Captain Romulus Buckle and the stalwart crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must embark on a perilous mission to rescue their kidnapped leader, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the impenetrable City of the Founders. Steaming over a territory once known as Southern California – before it was devastated in the alien war – Buckle navigates his massive airship through skies infested with enemy war zeppelins and ravenous alien beasties in this swashbuckling and high-octane steampunk adventure. Life is desperate in the Snow World – and death is quick – Buckle and his ship’s company must brave poisoned wastelands of noxious mustard and do battle with forgewalkers, steampipers and armored locomotives as they plunge from the skies into the underground prison warrens of the fortress-city.

Captain Romulus Buckle must lead the Pneumatic Zeppelin and its crew of never-do-wells on a desperate mission where he must risk everything to save Balthazar and attempt to prevent a catastrophic war which could wipe out all that is left of civilization and the entire human race.





Jason Sheehan

A Private Little War
47North, June 11, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 374 pages

He felt something in his belly twist up like cold fingers curling into a fist. This is it, he’d thought. This is when it all goes bad…

Private “security” firm Flyboy, Inc., landed on the alien planet of Iaxo with a mission: In one year, they must quash an insurrection; exploit the ancient enmities of an indigenous, tribal society; and kill the hell out of one group of natives to facilitate negotiations with the surviving group—all over 110 million acres of mixed terrain.

At first, the double-hush, back-burner project seemed to be going well. With all the advantages they had going for them—a ten-century technological lead on the locals, the logistical support of a shadowy and powerful private military company, and aid from similar outfits already on the ground—a quick combat victory seemed reasonable. An easy-in, easy-out mission that would make them very, very rich.

But the ancient tribal natives of Iaxo refuse to roll over and give up their planet. What was once a strategic coup has become a quagmire of cost over-runs and blown deadlines, leaving the pilots of Flyboy, Inc., on an embattled distant planet, waiting for support and a ride home that may never come….

The debut novel from acclaimed, James Beard Award–winning food critic Jason Sheehan, A Private Little War is the dark tale of a deadly war being waged in secrecy—and the struggle to stay sane in a world that makes no sense. A Catch-22 for a new generation, A Private Little War is sure to become a science fiction classic.




Friday, April 26, 2013

Guest Blog by Michael Logan - On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows - April 26, 2013


Please welcome Michael Logan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Apocalypse Cow, Michael's Debut, will be published on May 21, 2013.








On the Feasibility of Zombie Cows

Apocalypse Cow, as the title suggests, contains zombie cows. It contains Zombie sheep. Hell, it even has a few zombie squirrels chucked in. Pretty ridiculous, right? Well, yes. But is this any more ridiculous than the concept of a zombie human, which people seem to have no problem swallowing?

Apocalypse Cow is not intended to be particularly serious, as the title and cover may have suggested. However, a few people have assumed that the whole comedy aspect of the book is based on the assumption that sex-crazed zombie animals are intrinsically funny. They aren’t, or at least not beyond a brief initial titter. It’s certainly not enough to sustain a whole book, so I played this aspect pretty straight. The humour in Apocalypse Cow comes from the human reactions to the crisis, both in terms of social interaction and government response.

I do find it noteworthy that some people think my maniacal cows are a dafter idea than zombie humans. I would actually argue that the zombies (more correctly just ‘infected’) in my book are less far-fetched than your typical human undead shuffler.

Let’s take a look at the traditional zombie, which has permeated modern culture to such an extent that people are holding serious debates over whether there could really be a zombie apocalypse in the works:

  • They come back from the dead, where they have often spent decades rotting, so their entire system of movement is compromised, if not entirely broken down. Yet they still manage to shuffle about in search of tasty brains (is there something about becoming a zombie that enhances one's taste for French gastronomy?);
  • They have no apparent fuel source to sustain them, as their digestive systems aren’t working, making it unclear where all that ingested meat actually goes;
  • Their wounds don’t heal, what with them being dead and all;
  • They still have rudimentary brain function, despite all the decomposition, and follow basic instincts or retain vague memories from their previous lives (see the mall scenes in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, with zombies aping the shopping experience along to ditty Muzak);
  • They can only be killed by destroying the brain, which means that all the other organs that support human life and create movement are defunct. In fact, they can often comprise nothing more than a head, a chunk of torso and maybe an arm or two and continue to crawl around trying to bite people’s ankles like the Black Knight in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail;
  • They will continue to attack a victim until it he or she is ripped to shreds, which may make for some titillating scene of intestines being slurped down like spaghetti, but does not serve the purpose of passing on the virus that infects them.

So, they are driven by a mysterious, never explained, virus that somehow takes a system with the component parts vital to its function utterly decimated, and makes it move and act in systematic way without any apparent source of energy. Sound feasible to you?

Now, take the infected in my book:

  • The dead stay dead, although in all fairness most cow corpses tend to be slathered in ketchup rather than buried in a quiet little graveyard;
  • They continue to eat, shit, breathe as usual, and their bodies are not compromised beyond the sniffles and a few sores;
  • They can be killed in normal ways, although it may take a little longer for them to realize they are dead;
  • Their behavior is driven by a virus with the sole goal of propagating itself, therefore forcing the host to behave in a way that encourages this;
  • They only attack long enough to ensure the virus has been passed on, thus ensuring the survival of the victim as a new host.

In summary, they are normally functioning biological organisms – just with a new agenda driven by the virus. Now, I’m not saying my book is entirely scientifically accurate. However, the basic idea of an organism taking full or partial control of a living host in the interests of survival of the species is based in nature and science. The flu virus, for example, prompts sneezing and coughing as its host tries to expel it. If it didn’t do that, it wouldn’t spread. Animals get colds and flus too. Nature even gives us a perfect example of ‘zombie ants’, which are taken over by a fungus that directs them to die in a cool, moist place where the fungus can flourish. There is no biological reason why such a ‘zombie’ virus could not infect animals rather than humans. We've just never really considered it before.

An idea only seems far-fetched until we’ve had time to get used to it. Let me start my final point with a tangentially related example. Recently, I was editing a huge report written by a non-native English speaker, in which a made-up word featured at least 70 times. At first, I replaced every instance, shaking my head in irritation. Halfway through, I found the word slipping through the editing net, because it started to make sense through repetition. My brain was beginning to amalgamate this ridiculous word into my vocabulary after just a few short hours.

The same thing applies when we are exposed to a concept in popular culture. Give us films, TV shows and books about zombies or vampires or ghosts for long enough, and we begin to accept these ideas as a possibility, no matter how unfounded they are in reality. Human zombies have been around for long enough to become so accepted that their future existence is being taken for granted by some. Witness the articles last year talking about the feasibility of zombies and the CDC having to issue a statement saying the zombie apocalypse is not upon us after a spate of weird incidences of cannibalism.

So, there you have it. In twenty years’ time, after a hundred zombie animal books and films, I fully expect everybody to accept the premise without batting an eyelid. And, of course, I expect to receive the Nobel Prize for outstanding services to zombie animal science, a field that is currently sadly overlooked.





About Apocalypse Cow

Apocalypse Cow
St. Martin's Griffin, May 21, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
(US Debut)


If you think you've seen it all -- WORLD WAR Z, THE WALKING DEAD-- you haven't seen anything like this. From the twisted brain of Michael Logan comes Apocalypse Cow, a story about three unlikely heroes who must save Britain . . . from a rampaging horde of ZOMBIE COWS!

Forget the cud. They want blood.

It began with a cow that just wouldn't die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain's livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn't recognize a scoop if she tripped over one.

As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?

Three losers.
Overwhelming odds.
One outcome . . .

Yup, we're screwed.





About Michael

Michael Logan is a Scottish journalist, whose career has taken him across the globe. He left Scotland in 2003 at the age of 32, has lived in Bosnia, Hungary, Switzerland and Kenya, and reported from many other countries. His experience of riots, refugee camps and other turbulent situations helps fuel his writing.

Apocalypse Cow is his first novel. His short fiction has appeared in literary journals and newspapers such as Chapman and The Telegraph, and his piece We Will Go On Ahead and Wait for You won Fish Publishing’s 2008 international One-Page Fiction Prize.

He currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya and is married with a young daughter and son.

Website  ~   Blog  ~  Twitter @MichaelLogan





Thursday, April 25, 2013

Interview with Eric Brown and Giveaway - April 25, 2013

Please welcome Eric Brown to The Qwillery. The Serene Invasion will be published on April 30, 2013 by Solaris.








TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Eric:  Delighted to be facing the grilling...



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Eric:  Both. In the early stages of a novel I plot it roughly in stages or scenes; I know where it’s going, and what the major scenes, and the ending, will be – then I begin writing and never refer to my notes. I allow my subconscious to take over, and this does the writing and gets me over all the difficulties. And I sometimes find that the finished result bears little resemblance to the initial concept.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Eric:  The initial idea, settling on something that a) works for me, and b) works for my publisher. After that it’s plain sailing. All I have to do is sit down and write four thousand words a day, every day, until the book is finished. And then the next hard part: rewriting, cutting. (Another challenge is attempting to make a living by writing these days.)



TQ:  Tell us something about The Serene Invasion that is not in the book description.

Eric:  It’s the best thing I’ve written for a few years, I think. It’s the novel whose message I believe in more than I do with many of my more recent books.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Serene Invasion?

Eric:  Despair. Despair at the people who use ideology to commit violence on the innocent. Despair at the US gun lobby and their cynical manipulation of the population’s assumed right to bear arms: seen from outside, looking in, it strikes me as evil and insane. Despair at the Taliban and their ideology of ignorance. Despair at religion.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for the novel?

Eric:  I try not to do any research before beginning a book, for fear of allowing the research to get in the way of the story and characters. I do fact-checking after the second draft.



TQ:  It strikes me that the title of the novel can be read in 2 different ways - 1) an invasion by the Serene and 2) an invasion that is serene. Did you name the Serene after the concept of a benign invasion or did the name of the alien race come first?

Eric:  I named the Serene after the concept, and called the aliens the S’rene.



TQ:  In The Serene Invasion, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Eric:  James Morwell. I hated doing his sections. I hated having to get into the mindset of someone who thinks that violence, and the status quo that allows violence to flourish for reasons of material gain, is good. He’s an amalgam of certain businessmen I despise, and his scenes were hard to do. I wrote them last. Ana Devi was the easiest. I’ve written about her before, in different guises. I think the reason I found her easy to do was that she’s a good person.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Serene Invasion?

Eric:  I found myself close to tears when I wrote the epilogue, so that’s probably my favourite scene.




TQ:  What's next?

Eric:  Next month I’ll begin my second crime novel, the follow up to Murder By the Book, a murder mystery set in 1955 London – just out now. Then I’ll be doing four more novellas for PS Publishing, and later this year starting a steampunk novel for Solaris, Janisha and the Greater Game, set in India in 1900. That should be fun, as I like writing about India.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Eric:  And many thanks for the questions!





About The Serene Invasion

The Serene Invasion
Solaris, April 30, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages

The Serene are an alien race. The Earth in 2025 is an ailing world, and the Serene an end to poverty and violence - but not everyone supports the seemingly benign invasion. There are forces out there who wish to return to the bad old days, and will stop at nothing to oppose the Serene.

It's 2025 and the world is riven by war, terrorist attacks, poverty and increasingly desperate demands for water, oil, and natural resources. The West and China confront each other over an inseperable ideological divide, each desperate to sustain their future.

And then the Serene arrive, enigmatic aliens form Delta Pavonis V, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The Serene bring peace to an ailing world, an end to poverty and violence - but not everyone supports the seemingly benign invasion.

There are forces out there who wish to return to the bad old days, and will stop at nothing to oppose the Serene.





About Eric

Eric Brown began writing when he was fifteen, while living in Australia, and sold his first short story to Interzone in 1986. He has won the British Science Fiction Award twice for his short stories, has published over forty books, and his work has been translated into sixteen languages. His latest books include the SF novels The Serene Invasion, Satan’s Reach, and the crime novel Murder by the Book. He writes a regular science fiction review column for the Guardian newspaper and lives near Dunbar, East Lothian. His website can be found at: www.ericbrown.co.uk











The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of The Serene Invasion from The Qwillery.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on Saturday,May 4, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.


*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Interview with Bee Ridgway, author of The River of No Return - April 24, 2013


Please welcome Bee Ridgway to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  The River of No Return was published on April 23, 2013.  You may read Bee's moving Guest Blog here.








TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Bee:  Thank you. I’m very happy to be here.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Bee:  When I was six or seven my mother went back to school to get an MFA in creative writing. She cleared a bit of the basement and she sat down there banging away on an electric typewriter. After she got her degree she started teaching creative writing workshops in my hometown, and I often sat in on them, all the way up through high school. She is a brilliant teacher, and I owe a huge amount to her and to her courage in pursuing her art. I stopped writing fiction after college, though, and didn’t start again until a week before my 40th birthday, when I sat down and began writing THE RIVER OF NO RETURN. I thought a lot about my mother and that old electric typewriter as I worked hour after hour on my nearly silent laptop. She dedicated herself to writing when she was in her early forties . . . maybe I just needed to live a big chunk of my life before I knew what I wanted to write.



TQ:   What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Bee:  If I don’t start writing by 10 am I won’t write all day. But if I do start by 10 am I can write all day and into the night.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Bee:  I am totally and completely a pantser! Every day I make myself write until I don’t know what happens next. So in other words I write until I reach some sort of emotional or action-based cliff-hanger. Then I go to sleep and usually when I wake up I know how to continue. It’s not that I know what happens next, exactly, but I know what the next move needs to be.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Bee:  Staying healthy while I’m in it. While I was writing my novel my health regime went to pot. I didn’t exercise, I ate too much, I skipped haircuts . . . it was intense! I turned down invitations from friends and stopped reading, going to movies, going for walks. Since only two people in my entire life knew what I was doing, everyone else thought I had fallen into some sort of pit of despair. In fact I was having more fun than I ever thought humanly possible. I’m trying to balance things out more as I work on the next novel.



TQ:  Describe The River of No Return in 140 characters or less.

Bee:  A Georgian lord jumps in time & thinks he’s stuck, but “The Guild” helps him return. True love, swashbuckling & hints of apocalypse ensue.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The River of No Return?

Bee:  There are several answers to this question, since I wrote the first scene seven years before the rest of the novel came spilling out, and it sat buried deep in my computer’s hard drive, slowly building pressure. But what caused me to sit down a week before my 40th birthday and start writing a novel that then came out in a rush, like water bursting a dam? I think the answer is that I was unhappy and I didn’t even know it. I love my job, my city, my family. But I had lost the sense that I was living my life creatively. Actually, to be honest, I had lost that sense years ago, but I didn’t know it was gone and so I didn’t know to miss it. But some part of me must have known, and must have pushed me into the deep-end of writing. I describe it that way because the decision to write was not a conscious decision at all, but more like an irresistible physical impulse. One day I was living my old life, and thinking that I was content, and the next day I found myself hunched over a laptop, crashing through a big, fun, fast-paced adventure novel. Before that first day (July 23, 2011) was over I knew that my life had changed.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The River of No Return?

Bee:  Since I am a scholar of 19th century literature, a lot of the history I engage was already familiar to me. And since I am a reader of genre fiction, the various genres I engage were also familiar to me. But my characters have to dress and move around in space and speak and eat and otherwise engage a detailed world of minutiae that wasn’t so familiar to me. I did a lot of research into the quotidian details of everyday life in Georgian Britain. But I also decided early on that, since this was a time travel novel, I needed to find a way to make my reader feel the uncanny nature of time. I decided to imbed dozens of little references to the literature I study and know so well throughout the book. My friend Kathy describes them as “Easter eggs” hidden throughout the text. But although some of them are very obvious, I would rather that most of them go by completely unnoticed, except perhaps to make the reader feel an almost unconscious pull backward through the prose itself. A sense that there are some little currents in the prose, whispering from other times and other voices than my own. In order to achieve that, I had to research, I had to return to texts I read long ago, and I had to work hard to make sure the seams between my voice and the voice I’m borrowing are almost invisible.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Bee:  Nick, my main male character, was the easiest. He was the one who turned up in my head seven years before the rest of the novel arrived, and he led the way through the story. He is a jovial companion, easy to get along with. His self-doubts never crippled my writing, and his insouciance helped me keep going when I was tired. The person who was difficult was Julia, my main female character. In the first draft she was – to be perfectly honest – an airhead. She really was almost obnoxiously dim. I revised every single sentence that she speaks, or that describes her, at least twice before she finally sprang up and joined the rest of the characters in complexity. For the final few revisions she was a delight to work with, just like Nick. But my early difficulties with Julia really surprised me. I am an intelligent woman, I teach at a women’s college, I teach literature by and about women. My sisters and my mother and my female friends are all perfectly brainy. In fact, it’s rare to meet a woman making her way through life, making choices and keeping body and soul together who isn’t at least reasonably sharp and interesting. I’m constantly meeting fascinating women in real life. And Nick is an intelligent character who wouldn’t want to shack up with a dim bulb. So why was Julia so stubbornly shallow at first?

I have a rather long answer to that question. Let me begin by reminding you, or perhaps informing you, of “The Bechdel Test.” The Bechdel Test is cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s guide for how to choose a film to watch, and the horrifying thing is, very few films pass the test. Here are the criteria a film has to meet in order to pass the test: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.

The reason I bring this up is because many, many very good movies and very good books do not pass this test. Movies and books I love. And they don’t pass this test because even though the novel as we have inherited it from the 18th century is a form that is all about inventing the middle class woman and therefore the story of the middle class itself, you don’t need more than one or maybe two women in a novel for action to be instigated by her and to proceed on her behalf or in her name. The good woman, the bad woman, the woman in danger. Stuff happens to her or around her but really, all she has to do to start a story going is walk on and stand there with a sign around her neck that reads “Virgin” or “Whore” or “Mom” or “MILF” or “Dead Girl” or whatever. For many plots – good plots, plots we love -- a woman is absolutely necessary, but she doesn’t have to do very much. She is like the rising agent in a cake. Essential, but you shouldn’t taste her.

So I knew that about novels and women. I’d noticed it in many books and films, I’d laughed about the Bechdel Test, I’d read countless student papers that critique shallow female characters or get excited about complex ones. And yet, when I sat down to write a novel that moved among genres and that needed to be plot driven, I wrote a shallow woman to begin with. Making Julia have flavor, and more than that, have character that could and should and would move action, was hard. It was also very fun, and a real awakening for me about how genre works, how plot works, and how hard it is to do the thing we’re always critiquing other writers for not doing. I’m very happy with Julia now, and I’ll always be grateful to her for teaching me what she did.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The River of No Return?

Bee:  My favorite scene is one of the last I wrote. I’ll call it the paper airplane scene. You’ll know it when you reach it. I like it because it feels like my two main characters are simply at home in themselves. I’ve just told you how hard I had to work at making Julia herself. It was a pleasure to write this late-comer of a scene when she was really in place and fully fledged. It’s actually not a scene in which she does much! But I knew who she was and that was great.



TQ:  What's next?

Bee:  I’m hard at work on the sequel to THE RIVER OF NO RETURN. Its working title is BROTHERS AND SISTERS. It stays in the world I’ve created for the first novel, and like the first novel it is centered around a love story. This means that Julia and Nick become secondary characters, and a new pair of lovers move into the foreground. So far it’s just as much fun to write as the first novel, and since I learned so much from working on THE RIVER OF NO RETURN, some things about it are much easier.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Bee:  Thank you. It is such an honor to be invited.





About The River of No Return

The River of No Return
Dutton Adult (Penguin), April 23, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.





About Bee

Bee Ridgway was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts.  After various adventures in the US and the UK, she has finally come home to roost in Philadelphia.   She is an English professor at Bryn Mawr College.  THE RIVER OF NO RETURN is her first novel.



Website  ~  Blog  ~  Facebook   ~  Twitter

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Interview with Rhonda Riley, author of The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope - April 23, 2013


Please welcome Rhonda Riley to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is out today. Happy Publication Day to Rhonda!








TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Rhonda:  Happy to be here! Thank you for inviting me to talk about my work.



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Rhonda:  I started writing when I slammed into the wall of hormones that is adolescence. Writing was a way to dissemble that impact. I wrote lots of really awful abstract, angst-ridden poetry and filled a few journals. The act of writing clarified things for me and saved my psyche. I continued writing poetry through college and got a few poems published in small literary journals. Later, I switched to fiction and some excruciatingly flat short stories. Really, I still can’t get those stories off the floor. I took a hiatus and then, after two kids and a divorce, returned to fiction, abandoned the stories, and started Adam Hope.



TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Rhonda:  That’s an oddly tough question. Generally speaking, I am far too fond of dashes and semicolons. But that may be more of an annoying quirk than an interesting one. I’ve noticed that in the early drafts of things, I often have a character throw up. Usually, the throw-up scene gets edited out and I find a better way of conveying how upset a someone is, but it strikes me as peculiar since I never get nauseous when something awful happens and I’ve rarely seen it happen to others. In the initial drafts of Adam Hope the narrator, Evelyn, threw up when she first saw Adam or “A.” as she refers to him. That got toned down to a few unproductive retches. (His initial appearance isn’t gory, just very alarming for a solitary farm-girl narrator.) In the novel I am working on now, I finally have a good reason from someone to throw up in the first scene—the main character is pregnant.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Rhonda:  Pantser? Someone who flies by the seat of the pants? How is it that I missed that word until now? I think I am a mixture of the two approaches. Mostly, I start from some pivotal moment or central truth for a character and that, rather than a concern for plot, determines where I will go. I can’t imagine setting up a plot and sticking to it, nor can I imagine starting a novel without any idea of where it is going. I plot to give myself something to bounce against and, when necessary, to deviate from. I’m the kind of person who loves maps and cookbooks. But I hardly ever follow a recipe completely, and I don’t mind getting lost once in a while. The most interesting things can happen then. I guess that puts me closer to the pantser camp.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rhonda:  Without question, self-discipline. The world is infinitely interesting, I have trouble sitting still for long periods, and I’m almost incapable of forming habits, good or bad—except, of course, my habitual lack of self-discipline. To finish the first draft of this novel, I quit my job and took all the money I had in savings to buy myself a “sabbatical” year of writing, and I made all my friends promise to ask every time they saw me how my novel was going. I used my pride to leverage my lack of self-discipline. It worked, but it was unnerving and not a strategy I’d recommend. It’s a writing method fit only for the truly desperate. Another thing that challenges me is the very thing I love—good writing. Well-told stories are so wonderfully seductive! I can be overwhelmed by the effect of the craft while being unable to see its mechanisms. Not good if you’re trying to become a better writer. Trying to both be in the story and see the craft was like trying to make an anatomy lesson of my lover’s body. But about ten years ago that began to change for me—I actually felt like something shifted in my brain. There are far more times now when I can be deep in a good read and still be consciously aware of the beautiful tricks and talents of a writer. Now, if only my brain can also learn that self-discipline trick!



TQ:  Describe The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope in 140 characters or less.

Rhonda:  That was the most difficult part of writing query letters! My micro-pitch has been: The Time Traveler’s Wife meets Cold Mountain with a dusting of LSD. Of course, that summary works only if I’m speaking to someone familiar with both of those books. But I have noticed that ending any sentence with the words “dusting of LSD” gets most peoples’ attention, thus giving me the chance to give a more elaborate description: In 1944 on her family’s farm, Evelyn Roe rescues what she thinks is a badly burned soldier. But he is not a man, perhaps not even one of us. The stranger’s arrival changes everything, and Evelyn must learn to love what she cannot understand, explain or share.

The single word I most often use to describe the book: mystery. Not as genre but as subject.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope?

Rhonda:  Initially, I was trying to write a nonfiction account of my mother’s life. She was a good and generous story-teller (especially at night on the front porch surrounded by the odor of blooming ligustrum). She died when I was in college and left me with some crucial and unanswered questions about who she and, by extension, I was. After fits of pursuing those familial truths with no success (the dead are very difficult to bargain with), I turned to fiction. With the character of Adam Hope, I took a 180-degree turn from the truth or rather I decided to rely on fiction to tell the truth. But my relationship to my mother and the ways in which she remained a mystery to me was big factor in Adam Hope. Family secrets are very much a part of the book. There’s that moment in every relationship—lovers, spouses, parent/child, friends—when we turn to the person we have known and loved, maybe for years, and we think, “Who the hell are you?” The question can be a terrible shock or wondrous surprise. That question drove me to write this book. I also have to say that nature inspired me. I fell in love with Florida. The landscapes of North Carolina and northern Florida are central to the story and the character of Adam Hope. So the book is my tribute to my mother and to Mother Nature. People ask me where the supernatural/surreal elements in the novel came from and where I got the inspiration for Adam’s character. I’ve always been drawn to androgyny and the question of gender, so his talents in that area seemed obvious to me once I decided to depart from the “real.” The only aspect of Adam that I can trace back to an actual moment of inspiration is his voice. A friend told that she was awakened from a deep sleep one morning by a beautiful, inexplicable tone that swept through her, rising in pitch as it passed up her body. It left her euphoric for hours. She had no idea what had happened to her but her story stuck with me, and when I began to write Adam, I knew he would have a voice that could do that. Then someone introduced me to Tibetan singing bowls. I knew Adam had to have unusual vocal abilities. Voice is, of course, important to any writer. I’ve wondered in a more general way what inspired me write a character like Adam, I’d never been interested in writing supernatural or surreal characters before. But that is what I wrote, and that’s what many people are writing. Supernatural characters seem to be everywhere now. Mostly zombies, vampires and werewolves. Adam Hope is very different spin on that kind of character. His powers come from his voice and from the natural world. His focus is life, not death, and his story is definitely not one of thwarted sexuality. He is very sexual and sensual.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope?

Rhonda:  There was the obvious research about the times and places where novel it set. The book starts on a North Carolina farm outside a textile mill town near the end of WWII and ends in the college town of Gainesville, Florida in 2000. So I had to research that period and some farm practices. I read oral histories and newspapers from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The irony was that, while doing my fiction research I stumbled on some information about my family! My biggest research challenge was horses. I knew nothing about them and they became THE animal in the novel. I read about them and watched them, and then I wrote the best I could. I have a couple friends who’ve raised horses. They proofed the horse scenes to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself. I also interviewed an ER doctor when I decided to kill one of my characters in a bloody farm accident. That was a bit of macabre fun. But the most unusual research I did was on the genitalia of infant hermaphrodites. I’d given a cursory description of what Evelyn and Adam saw when their first child was born, but my agent wasn’t happy with my vague, wimpy description. So off I went to the University of Florida medical library. I didn’t dare to that research online! A lot of the photographs and illustrations I found were in older medical books, black and white photos of people of all ages with every degree of variation in gender physiology. The surrendered dignity of the people in those photos was disturbing and moving.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rhonda:  By far, the narrator, Evelyn, was the easiest to write, I felt like I was channeling my mother’s voice and the voice of my Great- Aunt Lil. Once I got that voice, she wrote herself. Roy Hope was the most difficult to write. For the purposes of the book, he had to be a loser and a little despicable, but attractive enough for two intelligent women to desire him.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope?

Rhonda:  The scene when Evelyn finds A. is one of my favorites because that’s the first image I had. Long before I wrote the first chapter, I saw their hands touching in the mud. All I knew at that point was that they, somehow, were bringing each other into being. I’m also fond of the scene where Addie returns. Evelyn, at first refuses to believe who she is, and Addie must prove her identity. The underwater scene in Florida was fun to imagine, though it was a little difficult to describe Adam’s upside down stroll in the cave. Some of the lighter scenes were also fun to write: the doolywhacker scene when Evelyn tries to fool Addie about the size of the normal male “thing” and the LSD scene before Evelyn realizes what’s going on and everything is still whacky and beautiful.



TQ:  What's next?

Rhonda:  Currently, I’m working on a new unrelated novel about some good people who suffer the consequences of their innocence as well as their sin. Its focus will be a father-son relationship--a stretch of my imagination. But the Adam Hope story is still very much with me. The narrator of The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope takes her story pretty seriously. Of course, she had to; she’s the narrator and that’s how I wrote her. But my take is a little more playful, especially now that the novel is published. It’s very interesting to me to hear other people’s reaction to the story. I purposefully left a little ambiguity about his situation. At the end of the novel, he really could be anywhere. Or anyone. I’m hoping readers will post their sightings of Adam Hope, maybe photos or drawings of where and who he is now. Though I’m not pursuing his story, I LOVE the idea of others playing with it. Stories should be able to expand beyond their borders. Right now, I am more interested in the continuation of his daughters’ stories. At the novel’s close, the daughters are scattered around the world. His genes have gone global. For a sequel, I’m thinking: India, China and tigers. And lots of research on genetics.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rhonda:  Thanks for inviting me. It’s been fun. I think it’s great that you dedicate your time to letting authors talk about their work!

TQ:  It's an absolute pleasure!





About The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope
Ecco (HarperCollins), April 23, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

In the waning months of World War II, young Evelyn Roe's life is transformed when she finds what she takes to be a badly burned soldier, all but completely buried in the heavy red-clay soil on her family's farm in North Carolina. When Evelyn rescues the stranger, it quickly becomes clear he is not a simple man. As innocent as a newborn, he recovers at an unnatural speed, and then begins to change—first into Evelyn's mirror image, and then into her complement, a man she comes to know as Adam.

Evelyn and Adam fall in love, sharing a connection that reaches to the essence of Evelyn's being. But the small town where they live is not ready to accept the likes of Adam, and his unusual origin becomes the secret at the center of their seemingly normal marriage.

Adam proves gifted with horses, and together he and Evelyn establish a horse-training business. They raise five daughters, each of whom possesses something of Adam's supernatural gifts. Then a tragic accident strikes the family, and Adam, in his grief, reveals his extraordinary character to the local community. Evelyn and Adam must flee to Florida with their daughters to avoid ostracism and prying doctors. Adrift in their new surroundings, they soon realize that the difference between Adam and other men is greater than they ever imagined.

Intensely moving and unforgettable, The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope captures the beauty of the natural world, and explores the power of abiding love and otherness in all its guises. It illuminates the magic in ordinary life and makes us believe in the extraordinary. 





About Rhonda

Photo by Isaac Oster




Rhonda Riley is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Florida. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is her first novel. She lives in Gainesville, FL.