Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Interview with K. C. Norton - March 31, 2015


Please welcome K. C. Norton to The Qwillery. “Reef” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.

This is the eighteenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!


I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

KCN:  Pantser! I definitely revise later, but plotting doesn't work for me. When I plot, I write a boring storyline with a traditional plot structure. When I pants, I get something I wasn't expecting. The biggest challenge for me lately has been keeping focused. I'm working on about six pieces at the same time, so it feels like nothing is getting done. Maybe if I learned to plot ahead...



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

KCN:  I'm a big fan of Philip Reeve, and I wish he would finish the Larklight series! Gaiman, Tolkien, Lewis, and Roald Dahl figure heavily in my list of influences. Also Kij Johnson, who is a genius.



TQ:  Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

KCN:  I wish someone would ask, "Do you feel comfortable writing characters of different ethnic backgrounds?" I'm always worried that I'm going to get something wrong, or come across as invasive or entitled. I really don't want to, but I also want to tell stories about all kinds of people living all kinds of lives, so I keep my fingers and toes crossed and press on.



TQ:  Describe “Reef”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.

KCN:  "Reef" is a story about a girl and a coral reef working together to protect each other.



TQ:  Tell us something about “Reef” that will not give away the story.

KCN:  I had to do a lot of research about dangerous animal life on the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding ocean. One of the animals I learned about was the Crown of Thorns sea star, which is not something you'd want to touch. I went scuba diving this March, and I saw Crown of Thorns on every dive.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for “Reef”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?

KCN:  I'm a diver and a general ocean-lover, so I pulled a lot of the setting from places I've visited. When I heard about the anthology, I knew I had to write from the perspective of coral. Reefs have spirits, absolutely. I've visited a lot of places on land that have personalities, but in a reef, the landscape is actually a living organism.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Reef”.

KCN:  "No single living creature has a heart as unified as the uncountable hearts of a reef."



TQ:  In which genre or genres does “Reef” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?

KCN:  I guess "Reef" could be called slipstream, although now that I think about it, if one of the humans were telling the story it might not read like spec fic at all. I think there is still a place for classifications on a very basic level, at least as much as there has ever been. Star Wars is set in a sci-fi universe, but (at least in the classic trilogy) the main characters use what amounts to a spiritual magic system. Genre tropes don't limit what can go on in a story, and they never really have. Genre tags pretty much exist to point people to the next thing they might want to reach or watch.



TQ:  What's next?

KCN:  I have a story coming out in Flash Fiction Online next month, and I'm working on a children's adventure novel about Bigfoot that features a few of the same environmental themes as "Reef." I have a few other short stories in the pipeline, almost all of which take place in the ocean.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

KCN:  Thank you for having me!



About K. C. Norton

K. C. Norton's work has appeared in publications such as Writers of the Future Volume 30, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy's Edge, and Women Destroy Science Fiction! among others. She is an alumna of Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she studied children's writing. She is also a scuba diver, although she has yet to visit the Great Barrier Reef. You can find her on Twitter @KC_Norton.





Interview with Wendy N. Wagner - March 31, 2015


Please welcome Wendy N. Wagner to The Qwillery. “Scab Land” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.

This is the seventeenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!


I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What are the challenges in writing in the short form as opposed to the novel length? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Wendy:  Thanks for having me! I like working in both forms quite a bit. The wonderful thing about writing short fiction is that I can keep the entire story arc in my mind, which makes it easier to see how all the details build up to make a piece work. When I'm writing a novel, I have to keep very careful notes so I don't forget anything.

I guess you could call me a pants-plotter hybrid (is that a “plantser”?). For my two work-for-hire novels, I really had to get good at working to an outline, and I really enjoy having a framework constructed before I start digging into the real writing. But when I write on my own, I enjoy having a lot of flexibility, too. I tend to start with a very loose outline; I'll write a bit, and draw up an outline for the next section, write a bit, and then stop and do a detailed outline of something that's bothering me ... I go back and forth throughout.



TQ:  You are also a poet. How does writing poetry affect (or not) your prose writing?

Wendy:  I find that when I'm working on poetry, I'm much more conscious of the images I'm using and the rhythms that occur in my prose. The rhythms and shapes of words really change the reader's experience, I think.

I've been on a poetry break for the last year, but I'm hoping to get back to it this summer!



TQ:  Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Wendy:  I can't think of any! I'm a pretty boring writer. I just sit down and work!



TQ:  Describe “Scab Land”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.

Wendy:  It's about the secret stories families and landscapes keep beneath their surfaces.



TQ:  Tell us something about “Scab Land” that will not give away the story.

Wendy:  The title comes from the name of a real geographical feature—the channeled scablands—of Eastern Washington. It's a very gray landscape with a lot of agriculture, and the story is about a farming family.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for “Scab Land”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?

Wendy:   My parents live in Eastern Washington on a property that's been in our family for generations, and my grandmother actually came out to this dry, gray place on the train. She'd never seen the town or the farm, but she had met my grandfather and fallen in love with him, so she left everything to be with him. She was from Maine. She would tell me stories about Maine, and I could tell, even though I was just a very, very little girl, that she missed it desperately. So I always knew there were things that haunted her, and that idea of a haunted grandmother stayed with me.

I think every place has a genius loci. Some places slap you with their ambiance, and some you have to listen a little harder to, but yes, every place is full of stories that are just bleeding out into the air and waiting to inspire us.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Scab Land”.

Wendy:  All my favorite lines don't make any sense if you don't read the story!



TQ:  In which genre or genres does “Scab Land” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?

Wendy:  “Scab Land” is definitely a fantasy story. It started out as a literary piece, but I wasn't quite happy with it, and when the call for Genius Loci went out, I revised the piece to make it speculative.

Sure, they're useful. They help you find things you enjoy. I go to the library and browse through the mystery shelf because I like who-dunnits. I dig through the gardening section because I want to find books about gardening.

I know I should have a more serious answer than that, and I know there are a lot of discussions about the different ways to define the different genres. What's fantasy? What's science fiction? What do you call a piece with some magic but also space ships? At what point do subgenre classifications become so specific they're no longer of any use?

There are over a million books published every year and we need tools to help us find what we're interested in. Genre may not be the greatest tool, but it is one.



TQ:  What's next?

Wendy:  I have a lot of short stories coming out this year—I have a story in Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places, an anthology about Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger; She Walks in Shadows, an all-women-written anthology about women characters in Lovecraft's stories; and Cthulhu Fhtagn!, a new Lovecraftian anthology from Ross Lockhart.

I'm also serving as the guest editor for Nightmare Magazine's Queers Destroy Horror! special issue (due out in October), which I'm really excited about. And I have a second novel coming out in the Pathfinder Tales line, but I'm not sure when it will be released.

It's a busy year!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.


About Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner grew up in a remote town on the Oregon coast, a place so small it had no grocery store and no television reception. When the bookmobile came every two weeks, the whole town gathered to explore its latest offerings. Books were her lifeline, her window into the outside world, and soon, an obsession.

Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like Beneath Ceaseless Skies and The Lovecraft eZine, as well as many anthologies, including Armored, Heiresses of Russ 2013, and The Way of the Wizard. She is the Managing/Associate Editor of Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines, and is the former Assistant Editor of Fantasy Magazine. Skinwalkers is her first novel.

Wendy lives in Portland, Oregon, with her very understanding family. You can keep up her at winniewoohoo.com or find her on Twitter, where she’s @wnwagner.

Interview with Keris McDonald - March 31, 2015


Please welcome Keris McDonald to The Qwillery. “The Sleck” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.

This is the sixteenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!


I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Keris:  I’m a pantser. I start writing, and I research as I write. I like research and I love it when things fall into place and fit exactly where you need them in the story, like you somehow mysteriously knew them all along…

The most challenging thing for me about writing is keeping off the goddamn Internet. Somewhere in my psyche is a deep urge to know ALL THE THINGS, and since I joined Facebook this has forced me into a never-ending loop of procrastination. No longer do I just read the news on teletext several times a day: I have to absorb the entire Interwebs. Maybe I should just shoot myself now…



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Keris:  M.R. James. H.P. Lovecraft. Angela Carter.



TQ:  Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask?

Keris:  “Would you like to sign this lucrative contract for the publication of your collected horror stories?”
:-D



TQ:  Describe “The Sleck”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.

Keris:  A small girl has drowned in a pond in a patch of urban wasteland. Dad gets drunk and goes to investigate.



TQ:  Tell us something about “The Sleck” that will not give away the story.

Keris:  It’s all about the stinky slimy mud. “Sleck” is a dialect world from the north of England, meaning “foul-smelling mud”.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for “The Sleck”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?

Keris:  As a child I was passionately drawn to natural places that seemed otherworldy and eerie to me – little patches in the midst of the mundane world that no one else seemed to notice the wonder of. Now, as an adult, I struggle to recapture that numinous sense of immanence. I wanted to write a story about an adult forced to see the world from that child’s-eye point-of-view.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “The Sleck”.

Keris
“Even in his day, before the invention of Health And Safety or parents giving a shit where the bairns were off to, it had had a dire reputation.”


TQ:  In which genre or genres does “The Sleck” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?

Keris:  Horror/paranormal. Genre classifications are a necessary evil because most readers want to know what they are getting in advance. Personally, I like writing cross-genre. I like to confound expectations.



TQ:  What's next?

Keris:  I’m writing a trilogy about fallen angels and huge religious conspiracies for Cleis Press, under my other writing name, “Janine Ashbless. The first novel, Cover Him with Darkness, is already out. I recently visited Ethiopia to research the second volume, and now I’m going to write it.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Keris:  Thank you so much for having me!





About Keris

Keris McDonald lives in the not-very-grim north of England and has seen her horror short stories published in All Hallows magazine and anthologies by Ashtree Press and Hic Dragones Books. She spends most of her writing time under the pen name ‘Janine Ashbless’ though, spinning tales of supernatural erotica and passionate romantic adventure for publishers such as HarperCollins and Virgin. Her ninth novel, Cover Him With Darkness, a tale of fallen angels and religious conspiracy, was published in 2014 by Cleis Press. The Sleck was inspired by the post-industrial landscape of County Durham and childhood memories of visiting her aunts and uncles in Newcastle, as well as stories of “sacred” wells and springs. “Sleck,” by the way, is a very old dialect word for “stinking mud”.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu




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


Ken Liu

The Grace of Kings
The Dandelion Dynasty 1
Saga Press, April 7, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 640 pages

Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.

Cover Reveal: Indelible Ink by Matt Betts - March 31, 2015


The Qwillery is thrilled to present the cover for Indelible Ink by Matt Betts coming in June from Dog Star Books / Raw Dog Screaming Press:






It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Something lurks inside Deena Riordan. She never once questioned her life in the criminal underworld as the star of Mr. Marsh’s illegal empire and his youngest assassin. Her ruthless demeanor and dark magical powers have kept her at the top of the heap for years. But one day she pushes the sorcery too far and something snaps. Only then does Deena realize she’s always been a puppet of that dark power with no true will of her own.

Now, in order to get out of the crime business for good, she needs to save her sister from Marsh’s angry clutches. It won’t be easy. She’ll have to make her way through friends turned foes, dodge determined federal agents, and stay out of a particularly stubborn fellow hitman’s sights. Worst of all, Deena will have to wrestle with the darkness inside to keep it from swallowing her up again.





About Matt

Matt Betts was born in Lima, Ohio some years ago. Lima is just a stone’s throw away from several other towns with excellent throwing stones. During and after college, Matt worked for a number of years in radio as an on-air personality, anchor and reporter. He has written for Blood, Blade and Thruster Magazine and Shock Totem. His fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies.

Matt currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and sons. He is hard at work on the next adventure of the crew of the airship Leonidas Polk. And watching old horror movies. And maybe reading comic books. He can feel you silently judging him and doesn’t like it one bit.

Website   ~  Facebook  ~  Google+  ~  Twitter @Betts_Matt

Guest Blog by Kate Watterson: Why do Mystery, Suspense, and Romance Blend so Well? - March 31, 2015


Please welcome Kate Watterson to The Qwillery.  Fractured, the 4th Detective Ellie MacIntosh novel, was published on March 10th by Forge.







Why do Mystery, Suspense, and Romance Blend so Well?

I think this question says a lot about human nature in general. I’m not a psychologist (though I do have a main character in that profession and plays a pivotal role in several of the books in my Ellie MacIntosh suspense series), so you are just getting my opinion, but I certainly can tell you what I like to read.

And write.

Mystery involves of course, our curiosity. What happened? How is this possible? Who is involved? And the most important question of all: how is the protagonist even remotely going to be able to figure out this puzzle? It challenges us as we follow along on the journey of discovery, and I don’t know about everyone else, but I do my best to outguess him or her. Not because I think I’m more clever (How many times has someone handed you a book and said: You’ll never guess who it is until the end…There’s a challenge if I’ve ever heard one. Yep, we’re all guessing), but because that is the joy of a really good mystery. Definitely exercise for our intellect.

Suspense is completely a visceral response to our natural instinct to fear dangerous situations. So we put ourselves in the place of the character and feel the emotions of the moment. When will they realize the threat is there? What are they going to do to escape it? Will they even be able to get out unscathed or alive? It is an almost physical reaction to words on a page that make us ask a different question than the mystery itself. What will happen next? It’s exciting and tends to make a book a true page-turner. Our pulse picks up, we read faster and faster…

As for romance, characters are, no matter if they are bad or good, human beings and we interact with each other in various ways, and that includes sexual attraction. Why a certain person is drawn to another is an intriguing question that adds another layer to any story. Of course we are fascinated by romance since it is the very fabric of life and if it didn’t exist, none of us would be here. It adds to the mystery since it begs the question, why this person and not that one? It builds the suspense, because not all romance goes smoothly (I’m sure I’m not wowing everyone with that fact we all know) so as we read and become more invested in the characters, we want to know on an emotional level whether they make a good choice or a bad one.

Put all three together and you have a compelling read.

To me the magic of a good book is that while we all have our own lives, we can, in those pages, live and breathe as someone else in a different place, maybe a different time, and completely different circumstances. The stories spark our imagination, make us feel emotions that might not surface in our day to day routine, and expand our world. When I discover a new author, or a new character, that hits the mark and devour a novel in one sitting (been known to happen…well, more than once. Or twice ) I absolutely love that feeling of anticipation for the next book.

As I sit here typing this, I’m wondering what kind of trouble Detective Ellie MacIntosh will bump into next. Can’t wait to find out!

Happy reading to everyone!

Kate [whisking off to write Ellie into an impossible corner]





Fractured
Detective Ellie MacIntosh 4
Forge, March 10, 2015
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Blending mystery and romance, Kate Watterson's Fractured finds Detective Ellie MacIntosh racing to stop a serial killer.

Milwaukee homicide detective Ellie MacIntosh's bizarre case takes gruesome to a new level--and is eerily and frustratingly familiar. She has seen the signature work of the killer before, but cannot connect the victims. There isn't a single suspect in sight, but at least the case gives Ellie something to focus on instead of her chaotic personal life.
Ellie's partner, Jason Santiago, is glad to be back on the job, even on a disturbing case like this one. Working with Ellie has evolved into a tangled relationship that is no longer platonic, at least to him. The trouble is, she has no idea how he feels. Jason's chance to make a move is now, but he's paralyzed by the fear he will ruin both his career and a partnership he values more than any he has ever had.

Therapist Dr. Georgia Lukens is fascinated by the complicated relationship between Ellie and Jason, but she has other, non-detective patients with deeper problems. When a timid woman named Rachel reveals that she suspects her promiscuous and charismatic roommate Lea has been involved in the grisly murders, Georgia is put into the untenable position of deciding if this privileged information is just the ramblings of a delusional patient or something more. And little does she know that Lea has become focused on Jason Santiago.

As Ellie pieces together a macabre puzzle of past and present sins, it becomes clear that madness takes many forms and…it may be too late to stop her partner from becoming the next victim.





About Kate

Kate Watterson grew up on a steady diet of mystery/suspense novels. If it involves murder and intrigue, she is bound to be hooked. Kate also writes award-winning historical novels as Emma Wildes. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband, three children, and a temperamental cat named Poot. She is the author of the Detective Ellie MacIntosh series from Forge and the Danny Haase Mysteries from Tor.






Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @kate_watterson






Detective Ellie MacIntosh

Novels


Novellas

Interview with T.D. Wilson, author of The Epherium Chronicles - March 31, 2015


Please welcome T.D. Wilson to The Qwillery. Echoes, The Epherium Chronicles 3, was published on March 30th by Carina Press.






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

TDW:  I've written small short stories and even some role-playing adventures over the years, but I never took it seriously. In late 2011, I was helping my parents move some boxes out of their house. I opened one of them and found a short story I had written titled, "Into the Black". It was the basis for this series. I decided right there I was going to develop this into something more. Since that day, I've developed several new story ideas. It helps to keep my mind fresh.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

TDW:  I would have to say I am a plotter. I like to develop key plot points and twists then lay them out in order to see how they fit together. I recently took a plotting course run by my editor. It focused on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It was really enlightening and has helped me hone my skills. The most challenging thing for me is finding time to write. I have a full time job and a busy family. I've tried to do the National Novel Writing Month, but I just can't core dump 50K words in a month. Instead, I've used it to plan out stories and start the first pages.



TQ:  How has your background in Electrical Engineering influenced (or not) your writing?

TDW:  I've always been a technology guy and my degree really helps me put technology and its future in perspective for readers. Part of my normal job is helping explain technology to others and I've had to find the right way to convey the complex and uninteresting into something that grasps an individual's attention. I've tried to use that in these books as well.



TQ:  Describe Echoes (The Epherium Chronicles 3) in 140 characters or less.

TDW:  Captain Hood won a key victory and secured a new colony for Earth. In the darkness of space, a larger war threatens humanity. Can Hood recognize the danger in time?



TQ:  Tell us something about Echoes that is not in the book description.

TDWEchoes is a challenge novel. It's that middle part of the series where every major character will be tested and how they react will define them for later on. Probably the one most tested in this book is Maya Greywalker.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Epherium Chronicles. What appealed to you about writing Military Space Operas?

TDW:  I've always been a fan of space operas, be it Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Battlestar Gallactica, etc. I grew up on watching movies and TV shows like these, plus I was a fan of old war movies. My friends did too and we loved to talk about them so much, it became pretty natural to write something like The Epherium Chronicles.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Echoes?

TDW:  I did a lot of research on potential planetary landscapes and the effects of low or heavy gravity for Crucible and Echoes. I wanted to give the readers a realistic feel. I spent several hours looking at technologies to use for space travel and combat. I talked with fighter pilots for engagement advice in space and in atmosphere. I studied the effects of railguns and how they could effectively used in space. I think I gathered enough to write a detailed research paper...lol. But it was worth every minute.



TQ:  In Echoes, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

TDW:  The easiest character for me is Sanchez. He has a terrific spirit in him and when I write in his POV or just about his actions, the words just flow easily. Maya Greywalker is probably the most difficult. She is so closed, but her senses and abilities are often the most difficult to capture. She can see, hear, and feel so much. Also, her reactions to certain situations may not be what most people expect.



TQ:  Which question about Echoes do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

TDW

Where did you get your idea for Maya Greywalker?

Well, Maya is combination of some of the toughest comic book heroines with a bit of Sherlock Holmes thrown in. I needed something for her to stand out and that's when I came up with the luminescent blue eyes for the Greywalker children. I get a lot of comments about the eyes. They're unnerving and that can work to her advantage.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Echoes.

TDW:  This is probably one of my favorites.
“Much of what we know about ourselves and the world around us is handled by one’s perception. How we act or react to a certain situation is derived by stored responses to certain stimuli. Mastering the identification and procession of those stimuli is key to a higher level of awareness. Enhanced perception in a moment of contest can lead to the desired outcome.” Maya stared down at him. “After our session, what does your perception tell you now?”

“That I’m an idiot,” Sanchez grumbled and rubbed his sore shoulder.


TQ:  What's next?

TDW:  I am working on a few short stories for The Epherium Chronicles set during the first Cilik'ti war. They have a different major character, but will have some cameos of current series characters. I am also working on book 4 of the series and a new series that I defined when I took the plotting course from my editor. It sounds like a lot, I know...lol



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Echoes
The Epherium Chronicles 3
Carina Press, March 30, 2015
eBook, 180 pages

Book three of The Epherium Chronicles

The battle for Cygni colony may be over, but for Captain James Hood and the crew of the EDF Armstrong, the battle for humanity's future has just begun. Hood's defense of the remote outpost against the Cilik'ti aliens was magnificent, but without the timely help of an unlikely ally—a splinter tribe of humanity's bitter enemies—the colony would have been lost and the Armstrong destroyed.

An uneasy peace has prevailed ever since. But as the humans prepare for a crucial meeting, a desperately needed Earth supply convoy is attacked under mysterious circumstances, with the lead escort cruiser's captain disappearing even more mysteriously.

The fate of all of Earth's new colonies hangs in the balance, and Hood is charged with protecting them against growing threats from all sides. When rebellion and unrest challenge the very leadership of the Earth Defense Forces, Hood may need to go it alone…and make the ultimate sacrifice.





About T.D. Wilson

T.D. Wilson was born in 1968 in Troy, Ohio and has been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy from a very young age. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and has supported the systems and networks in several of the largest Supercomputing data centers in the world. His early thirst for adventure in reading began as he explored many of the great stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As his reading scope expanded, Mr. Wilson was fascinated by strange new worlds from the magical of Middle Earth and Narnia to the far reaches of space in Star Trek and Babylon 5. As a science fiction author, he strives to integrate a realistic flavor to his worlds by providing his readers a feel for the real science in science fiction. A topic he loves to discuss with his friends and readers. Mr. Wilson still lives in Ohio with his wife and their two sons.

Website  ~  Twitter @tdwilson3  ~  Facebook  ~  Google+  ~  Goodreads





Previously

Embrace
The Epherium Chronicles 1
Carina Press, March 3, 2014
eBook, 200 pages

Book one of The Epherium Chronicles 

Hope. Captain James Hood of the Earth Defense Forces remembers what it felt like. Twenty-five years ago, it surged through him as a young boy watching the colony ships launched by mega-corporation Epherium rocket away. He, like so many others, dreamed of following in the colonists' footsteps. He wanted to help settle a new world--to be something greater.

Then came the war... 

Hope. During years of vicious conflict with an insectoid alien race, it was nearly lost. Though Earth has slowly rebuilt in the six years since the war, overcrowding and an unstable sun have made life increasingly inhospitable. When mysterious signals from the nearly forgotten colony ships are received, Hood is ordered to embark on a dangerous reconnaissance mission. Could humanity's future sit among the stars?

Hope. Hood needs it now more than ever. As secrets about the original colonists are revealed and the Epherium Corporation's dark agenda is exposed, new adversaries threaten the mission, proving more dangerous to Earth than their already formidable foes...


See Brannigan's review here.




Crucible
The Epherium Chronicles 2
Carina Press, May 26, 2014
eBook, 217 pages

Book two of The Epherium Chronicles

January, 2155

Earth Defense Forces Captain James Hood is on the mission of his life. The Cygni solar system is just one space-fold jump away. One more jump and they'll have reached the fledgling colony that Earth desperately needs if the human race is going to survive. But a plot to derail him has already damaged his ship, threatened the lives of his crew and cost him time. Time the colonists might not have.

So much depends on him now, but Hood's confidence is shaken. It's self-doubt he thought he'd buried, a brutal mind-killer for all military commanders. Yet danger surrounds his team; a brutal insectoid alien race is still out there, intent on eradicating humans, and a greater threat from an unknown, elusive enemy has emerged.

The forces at work on Cygni are like nothing Hood has trained for, tactically or emotionally. When put to the test, he must choose to either trust the unlikeliest of allies, or run and seal the fate of the Cygni colony forever.


See Brannigan's review here.


2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2015 Winner


The winner of the March 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Beasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo with 45% of all votes.






The Final Results





The March 2015 Debut Covers




Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the April Debut covers starting on April 15, 2015.

Review: The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris


The Diamond Conspiracy
Author:  Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Series:  The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences 4
Publisher:  Ace, March 31, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  $7.99  (print)
ISBN:  9780425267325 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

For years, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has enjoyed the favor of Her Majesty the Queen. But even the oldest loyalties can turn in a moment…

Having narrowly escaped the electrifying machinations of Thomas Edison, Books and Braun are looking forward to a relaxing and possibly romantic voyage home. But when Braun’s emergency signal goes off, all thoughts of recreation vanish. Braun’s street-wise team of child informants, the Ministry Seven, is in grave peril, and Books and Braun must return to England immediately.

But when the intrepid agents finally arrive in London, the situation is even more dire than they imagined. The Ministry has been disavowed, and the Department of Imperial Inconveniences has been called in to decommission its agents in a most deadly fashion. The plan reeks of the Maestro’s dastardly scheming. Only, this time, he has a dangerous new ally—a duplicitous doctor whose pernicious poisons have infected the highest levels of society, reaching even the Queen herself…


Melanie's Thoughts

Book four of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series The Diamond Conspiracy starts not long after my favourite heroes escape certain death in Dawns Early Light. For those of you who have been following the series will remember that the two agents had come to a 'romantic understanding' in book 3 and this instalment starts with Books and Braun getting to know each other a bit more intimately. However, it’s all bad news back in London. Braun's band of street urchins, The Ministry of Seven are about to come very close to their last ever mission. In the midst of a normal snatch 'n' grab one of the seven is captured by an evil doctor. It's not long before Books and Braun are summoned back to London, determined to find the missing child. They however, discover something far more fiendishly evil is in play with the Ministry in ruins, it’s agents on the run from the Department of Imperial Inconveniences and The Maestro about to take the entire empire on behalf the Queen. It’s all hands on deck to save the Ministry and themselves from whatever nefarious plans The Maestro has up his sleeve.

Everything was turned on its head in The Diamond Conspiracy with the Ministry agents being hunted down by the Department of Imperial Inconveniences. It made for a rather exciting twist in the story and introduces or re-introduces us to more of the Ministry's agents. The writing duo of Ballantine and Morris felt the need to emphasize the horror of what was happening to the agents by describing the horrific murder of one of my favourite Ministry agents from the Ministry Protocols short stories not once, but twice.  I enjoyed the return of awesome Aussie, agent Bruce Campbell even though I wasn't that fond of him in the previous books. I think I liked him so much more because he was almost handed his butt on more than one occasion by one of the Department's more dedicated female agents, Beatrice Muldoon. The chapters involving Ministry's female enemies were some of my favourites. Beatrice was an excellent adversary but she didn't hold a candle to Sophia Del Morte. Sophia found that the Maestro and Dr. Hyde had gone one step too far in their evil plans so in order to save her own very attractive but evil bacon she takes the most unpredictable course of action.  To tell more would be too spoilery!

The Diamond Conspiracy could have just as easily been called 'the big reveals'. Ballantine and Morris serve up a plethora of uncovered secrets. Books' learns more about his father when he returns to his childhood home. What he discovers is far worse than he ever imagined. I wasn't totally surprised but thought there were a few good twists in store for my favourite character.  One of the biggest reveals was the  mystery surrounding Dr. Sound and the 'the Restricted Area' that had me silently shouting 'nnnoooooooooooooooo'. I felt let down that Ballantine and Morris decided to use other people, both real and fictional, as plot points.

I absolutely love this series. I love the characters (especially Books), I love the setting, the steampunkiness and the secrets and intrigue are second to none. Why is it in book number 4 where everything is ripe for maximum enjoyment that I have to say....and I can barely type it ...that I was disappointed? I felt let down by the crossover of other characters. Ballantine and Morris are so imaginative, not just in this series but in all their others and I think this is why I was so disappointed. I will say that despite my disappointment this is still a good book, a fantastic series and check out the cracking cover. Love it! I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on any of the adventures of Books and Braun so if you haven't indulged I suggest you start at the beginning with Phoenix Rising.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Interview with Heather Clitheroe - March 30, 2015


Please welcome Heather Clitheroe to The Qwillery. “Coaltown” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.

This is the fifteenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!


I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing about writing for you? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Heather:  A big challenge is carving out the time to write. I work full-time -- most writers, I know do -- and I try to come in to the office a couple of hours early and settle in with my chromebook to get to it. Some days are a lot harder than others. I'm kind of a hybrid when it comes to writing. Plotser, maybe.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors??

Heather:  Hmm, literary influences. Jose Saramago, for sure, though I think it would take a lifetime to become as lyrical as he was. Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, and James S. A. Corey for science fiction. Tanya Huff and David Eddings for fantasy. My influences change up depending on what I'm reading. I've got 'Pontypool Changes Everything' by Tony Burgess on the go, and also Anthony Trollope's 'Barchester Towers.' I'm a bit of an eclectic reader!



TQ:  Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Heather:  Hmm, maybe the first story I wrote. It was called 'A Riding Lesson' - the elementary school typed up stories and made a little booklet out of them!



TQ:  Describe “Coaltown”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.

Heather:  Coaltown is about ordinary people, obligation, and impossible choices. The mood is dark, I think, and bittersweet.



TQ:  Tell us something about “Coaltown” that will not give away the story.

Heather:  A lot of fantasy is about heroic characters being elevated and taken out of their environments -- almost about how you can go beyond your circumstances. I wanted to tell a story about the more ordinary, the common -- like me -- but still bring a strong fantastic element to the story.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for “Coaltown”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?

Heather:  I'd been watching a quasi-documentary series on coal mining and the images of the mine really stuck with me. It's haunting and scary to look at, and it ended up giving me the basis for the story.

Have I encountered a genius loci? I think so. Romantic descriptions of the sublime really resonate with me -- the sense of landscape being so awe-inspiring that they can create a moment of terror and frozen fascination in the observer. The sense of landscape as character is something I believe strongly in, and I've witnessed it myself in the Rockies.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Coaltown”.

Heather:  I love this little passage:
By the time he was thirteen, he was 'prenticed to his uncle, learning how to swing his pick and set a charge just so, bringing the coal down but not the roof. His skin was pitted with black dust, pale from so much time spent in the down under. He'd come to court her with his skin raw from washing, scrubbed so hard it was pink when he'd come to stand at the bottom of the porch step to ask her aunt if he might take her to the hall for a dance.

It touched her. It touched her powerfully.

One thing led to another. She found she was late.


TQ:  In which genre or genres does “Coaltown” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?

Heather:  Coaltown is not quite an urban fantasy -- it's not specifically contemporary, but it's not sword and sorcery, either. I'd characterize it as second world fantasy, I think.

I do feel that genre classifications can be useful. Not so much to narrowly define a work, but to give a nod to the conventions that inform writing, and to consider the literary tradition that came before it. I'm mindful of T. S. Eliot's 'Tradition and the Individual Talent' and that sense that every new work of art (and literature) reshuffles the continuum of the art that came before it, and what comes after it:
"No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new."
I love this, because it reminds me that when I produce and publish, I'm part of a larger community. It's nice to be reminded that I don't work in isolation.

I also don't think that genre classifications mean you can only write in that particular vein, either. There are always new intersections, new angles and beats to consider.



TQ:  What's next?

Heather:  I have a piece out this week at Beneath Ceaseless Skies - 'Wild Things Gotta Go Free.' I've been working on a sci-fi novel, so my short fiction has dropped off a bit as I do...so it's back to the office in the early, dark mornings with my coffee and my words.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Heather:  Thank you!





About Heather Clitheroe

Heather Clitheroe lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta. She is an alumni of the Banff Centre for the Arts. Her work has appeared in Lightspeed's Women Destroy Science Fiction and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.






Website  ~  Twitter @lectio


Interview with Mercedes M. Yardley - March 30, 2015


Please welcome Mercedes M. Yardley to The Qwillery. “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.

This is the fourteenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!


I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What are the challenges in writing in the short form as opposed to the novel length? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mercedes:  I adore writing flash fiction and shorts, but the space constraint definitely challenges you to condense your story. You either have to focus on a short, precise section of a character’s life and give it rich detail, or you can follow the character for quite a while but lose the detail. Everything is streamlined with the short form and you have to choose your words very carefully. Each one is like a jewel that must be polished.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Mercedes:  I adore so many authors! I grew up reading Erma Bombeck, and I’d say she’s influenced me with her humor and ability to make the mundane seem funny and magical. Peter S. Beagle has influenced me. All of his work is stellar, not just The Last Unicorn, although that is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. Aimee Bender has influenced me with her delicate prose and dreaminess. I haven’t read anything of hers I haven’t liked.



TQ:  Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Mercedes:  I’d love it if somebody asked about one of the most memorable moments in the author’s life and how that influenced their art. I was driving home from work one day when a Monarch butterfly swarm passed through on migration. Suddenly there was a cloud of butterflies. They were literally all I could see, and everybody stopped on the road so the butterflies wouldn’t be killed. I rolled the windows down in my car, and several flew inside. It was one of the most stunning, meaningful moments I’ve ever experienced. I had my hands on the steering wheel, sharing it with several butterflies. They were in my hair. They covered the hood of my Geo Metro. When I arrived home, I opened the door and let several more out, and watched them as they wheeled into the air. I’ll never experience that again.

Butterflies, and especially Monarchs, tend to be a theme in my work. I try to capture that moment of whimsy and perfection and also that sense of danger. The darling things are so vulnerable. Their wings are torn so easily. People are damaged easily, as well, and I write about that often.



TQ:  Describe “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.

Mercedes:  The desert openly lusts for a young boy’s blood.



TQ:  Tell us something about “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes” that will not give away the story.

Mercedes:  This story is actually part of a larger canon. I have a novel titled Pretty Little Dead Girls, which is actually a Genius Loci backing reward, that has to do with this very desert. It’s a hungry thing, this monster of sand and bone. “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes” takes place before the novel. The desert is never satisfied.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?

Mercedes:  I grew up in a small desert town, and spent quite a bit of time outdoors. We were always hiking and climbing. We learned Rattlesnake Bite 101 in school. I can’t tell you how many times I stepped on cactus or saw something whip into its hole out in the middle of nowhere. The desert was exceptionally beautiful but also dangerous. Everything out there could kill you. So that became the powerful, sentient inspiration for Pretty Little Dead Girls and “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes.”
That’s my Genius loci. The desert is very much alive.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes”.

Mercedes

The desert prowled up to the front porch, eying Lucas Marsh with interest. Lucas eyed it back.



TQ:  In which genre or genres does “Cactus Flowers and Bone Flutes” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?

Mercedes:  This story is a magical realism story, along the lines of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I think classifications are still useful as a general guideline toward what interests a reader, but works straddle so many genres right now that one story could easily be classified as several things. In my opinion, genre classifications are used for marketing purposes and to give the reader a general idea of what the book will be like, but it really isn’t super useful beyond that. And the classification system is growing every day. A few years ago nobody had heard of Grimdark, but now not only is it a genre, but it has its own subgenres as well.



TQ:  What's next?

Mercedes:  I’m currently working on a couple of shared-world novellas, and that’s really a lot of fun! I’m also working on the second book of THE BONE ANGEL trilogy, which will be out later this year. It’s called Heartless: Carnival of Isolation and it really takes a dark turn. I’m breaking the main character into teeny tiny pieces. I’m far too excited about that.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mercedes:  Thank you for having me! It’s absolutely a pleasure.





About Mercedes M. Yardley

Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantastic who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. She writes short stories, novellas, nonfiction, and novels. She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Nameless, Little Dead Red, and her latest release, Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, from Ragnarok Publications. Mercedes lives and works in Sin City, and you can reach her at www.mercedesyardley.com.






Twitter @mercedesmy  ~ Facebook


Interview with Sunil Patel - March 30, 2015


Please welcome Sunil Patel to The Qwillery. “The Gramadevi's Lament” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.

This is the thirteenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!


I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!


TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What are the challenges in writing in the short form? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Sunil:  In short fiction, every word counts, and the economy of language is key (even though you are frequently paid by the word, wordiness is not advised). You must say much with little, convey worlds in sentences, paint characters with phrases. As far as writing short fiction, I’m a pantser, though I am trying to be more of a plotter to keep from flailing around so much.



TQ:  You are a playwright. How does this affect (or not) your writing?

Sunil:  My Kickstarter reward is a one-hour writing workshop, and I answer this very question! Writing plays has absolutely helped me hone my dialogue skills and find the natural rhythm of conversation. Plus envisioning story scenes as play scenes gives me a good sense of space. I’m also an actor, and I can draw on my experiences feeling a wide range of emotions in a controlled environment when describing characters.



TQ:  Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sunil:

“As a man, how do you write good female characters?”

Well, sir, I grew up reading The Baby-Sitters Club, and also I think women are people, it’s not that hard.



TQ:  Describe “The Gramadevi's Lament”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.

Sunil:  Tuldara is full of corpses. The village spirit has been alone for decades. Now you approach, and she tells you about a girl named Pooja.



TQ:  Tell us something about “The Gramadevi's Lament” that will not give away the story.

Sunil:  I did a lot of research to write this story, and my favorite part was going to Curry Up Now and buying a bottle of Limca so I could describe how it tasted.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for “The Gramadevi's Lament”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?

Sunil:  “The Gramadevi’s Lament” is one of those stories completely inspired by the anthology theme: I had never heard of a gramadevi before Googling to find out what the genius loci in India was. I figured there was untapped story potential there. The story itself stemmed from an image in my head of someone going to an abandoned village to find out what happened—I modeled the village after my father’s village—coupled with my apparent ongoing obsession with telling stories about the relationship between a woman and a non-human character (usually coded as female). I’ve never encountered a genius loci myself, but there are some places where the history feels palpable: not the manifestation of a particular spirit, but the psychic energy of centuries of life and death and atrocity.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “The Gramadevi's Lament”.

Sunil:

“I am every particle of dust, I am the quiet, I am the swing no longer creaking.”



TQ:  In which genre or genres does “The Gramadevi's Lament” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?

Sunil:  I’d say “The Gramadevi’s Lament” fits best under dark fantasy, but even that doesn’t seem right, though it is a fantasy story that is dark. “Dark fantasy” conjures up images of monstrous beasts and murderous witches, but I’ve never read a story about a gramadevi before, so maybe it’s its own genre, who knows. Genre classifications are still useful for the works that do tidily fit into them; genres are a shared language, and their conventions let a reader know what to expect. But many of the best, most interesting works mix genres, and that’s what makes them fun and original.



TQ:  What's next?

Sunil:  I have stories coming out in Fireside and The Book Smugglers, and I’m writing a story for Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling, an anthology co-edited by Jaym Gates. I am nearing the end of the first draft of my first novel, a YA superhero novel starring a teleporting Indian teenage girl, and I’ll be attending Taos Toolbox this summer in hopes of making that second draft better. Finally, I have a secret project! Because all the cool writers have things they can’t announce yet. Though this isn’t actually a writing project. (A CLUE.)



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sunil:  Thank you for inviting me, and thank you for your support of Genius Loci!

TQ:  My pleasure!





About Sunil Patel

Sunil Patel is a Bay Area fiction writer and playwright who has written about everything from ghostly cows to talking beer. His plays have been performed at San Francisco Theater Pub and San Francisco Olympians Festival, and his fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Saturday Night Reader, Fireside Magazine, The Book Smugglers, and Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place. Plus, he reviews books for Lightspeed. Find out more at ghostwritingcow.com, where you can watch his plays, or follow him @ghostwritingcow. His Twitter has been described as “engaging”, “exclamatory”, and “crispy, crunchy, peanut buttery.”