Thursday, June 30, 2016

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Midsummer Night's Mischief by Jennifer David Hesse

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.

Jennifer David Hesse

Midsummer Night's Mischief
A Wiccan Wheel Mystery 1
Kensington, July 26, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

As the Summer Solstice approaches in idyllic Edindale, Illinois, attorney Keli Milanni isn't feeling the magic. She's about to land in a cauldron of hot water at work. Good thing she has her private practice to fall back on--as a Wiccan. She'll just have to summon her inner Goddess and set the world to rights. . .

Midsummer Eve is meant for gratitude and celebration, but Keli is not in her typically upbeat mood. The family of a recently deceased client is blaming her for the loss of a Shakespearean heirloom worth millions, and Keli's career may be on the line. With both a Renaissance Faire and a literary convention in town, Edindale is rife with suspicious characters, and the intrepid attorney decides to tap into her unique skills to crack the case. . .

But Keli weaves a tangled web when her investigation brings her up-close and personal with her suspects--including sexy Wes Callahan, her client's grandson. The tattooed bartender could be the man she's been looking for in more ways than one. As the sun sets on the mystical holiday, Keli will need just a touch of the divine to ferret out the real villain and return Edindale, and her heart, to a state of perfect harmony. . ..

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.

Beth Lewis

The Wolf Road
Crown, July 5, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

ELKA BARELY REMEMBERS a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.

But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.

Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind—and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she’s been set on.

The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape—told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.

Alexandra Oliva

The Last One
Ballantine Books, July 12, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.

Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.

But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.

Sophisticated and provocative, The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Interview with Simone Zelitch

Please welcome Simone Zelitch to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Judenstaat was published on June 21st by Tor Books.

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

Simone:  When I was little, I wanted to be a dog-trainer, and then a psychiatrist, but at fourteen, I started filling notebooks Harriet-the-Spy style which was a way to both understand the very confusing world around me, and rewrite it. In a sense, you could say a writer is both a dog-trainer and a psychiatrist, at least when it comes to shaping a plot and understanding characters.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Simone:  I actually had to look those terms up. I’m a classic panster. Sometimes, I’ll make outlines or jot down notes, but I always lose them. Instead, I absorb history and location, and then just see where a story leads me à la up-a-trail-with-a-flashlight. It makes for a lot of stumbling, but it works, at least for me and gets me through a first draft. Of course, then I revise like a madwoman.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Simone:  At this point, the challenge is finding sustained time to get into the driven, obsessed frame of mind I need to produce battery-power to turn on that flashlight and wander up that trail. I teach at Community College of Philadelphia, and my students deserve every part of me.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Simone:  My own life and travels influence me, and too many authors to name, but in the case of Judenstaat, I need to give the big shout-out to George Orwell and in the case of everything else, James Baldwin, Leo Tolstoy, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

TQDescribe Judenstaat in 140 characters or less.

Simone:  This one was given to me by SF author Terry Bisson:

A widow stalks her husband’s assassin in a Jewish state carved out of Germany in 1948.

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

Simone:  There’s a Stasi agent in it, and a very sweet and dogged Jewish mother. Also, it’s Nineteen-Eighty Four fan fiction not only thematically, but structurally. I even stole a crucial line. I hope Orwell’s estate won’t sue.

TQWhat appeals to you about writing Alternative History?

Simone:  Alternative History messes with the concept of inevitability, and opens up space for raising questions about where we are now. I’ve just been re-reading Roth’s The Plot against America where the isolationist, racist fascist sympathizer Charles Lindbergh becomes president in 1940. Given present circumstances in this country, Oy Vey.

But alternative history doesn’t just raise political questions. It’s really about dislocation and instability. I love the moment in The Man in the High Castle when Mr. Tagomi somehow ends up in the “real” version of San Francisco, and it’s impossibly alien to the character and also to the reader. I’m kind of an Aspie, so to paraphrase Oliver Sacks, I like to make a reader feel like an anthropologist on Mars.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Judenstaat?

Simone:  I came in with a strong foundation in Zionist history from researching my novel Louisa, but the real challenge was overlaying that time-line with East Germany’s. It helped that I’d spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Hungary during the early ‘90s, which gave me a sense of how Soviet-dominated countries like my imaginary Judenstaat responded to the end of the Cold War. Also early on, I went to the former East Germany and Israel, back-to-back, and focused on how each acknowledged its complicated history. Berlin is fantastic that way, FYI. Finally, I studied Yiddish in Vilnius and decided it was too wild and cosmopolitan to be the language of my country.

TQ I've read the "Judenstaat Historical Timeline" at your website (here) and it had me wondering - were there any talks/ideas in the 40s or earlier for the establishment of such a state in Europe?

Simone:  Not that I know of, given the way most post-Holocaust Jews thought about Europe—essentially as an enormous graveyard. But returning to my idea of countering inevitability, there were plenty of non-Palestine possibilities for a Jewish State including a British offer of Uganda, and Stalin’s “gift” of Birobidzhan (which was Yiddish-speaking by the way). There seemed to be a regular smorgasbord of Jewish states on offer, from a province of Australia to (as Chabon discovered) Sitka, Alaska.

However, there was absolutely a European movement to set Jewish roots in Europe prior to the Holocaust, the Bund, Jewish socialists who believed in the concept of Doykeyt, which can be translated as “Here-ness”. You make life where you are, and do it as a people with a national identity but without national borders. The Bundists spoke Yiddish, of course.

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

Simone:  Minor characters are always easiest for me, and most colorful, particularly if they’re talkers. I love the way they appear and need to make sure they don’t take over. In that category, I’d put Judit’s professor, Anna Lehmann who is kind of a cross between Hannah Arendt and a battleship. She challenges all of Judit’s assumptions in an off-hand, cynical, grandmotherly way.

Judit, the book’s historian-widow heroine was hardest to write, probably because I felt too close to her; I couldn’t see her from the outside. Also, she sometimes doesn’t understand herself and her own motivations, and almost the entire book is from her point of view.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Judenstaat?

Simone:  I think a lot about official stories, and what gets left out of those stories. A Czech academic, Karl Deutsch, defined a nation as a group of people who agree to lie about the past. My novel’s very much about that concept of selective memory—which can certainly apply to any country, including my own (the U.S.A.).

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


Question: Do you really think a Jewish State should have been established in Germany instead of Israel?

Answer: No, I don’t. Really. My book isn’t an endorsement. Things don’t work out all that well.

On the other hand, I grew up being told that Israel was an answer to the Holocaust, and as time when on, I understood that no country can be an answer to the Holocaust. If that catastrophe does have an answer, it has to be making the world as a whole a place where genocide is impossible. Would that be considered a social issue?

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

Simone:  Here’s Judit speaking to a little ultra-orthodox girl, a “black-hat”:
       “My mother survived Auschwitz.”
       Shaindel asked, “What’s that?”
       Judit stopped walking [....] The black-hats believed that the slaughter was a consequence of Jews like Judit who had turned their backs on God. Maybe Shaindel’s ignorance was better than what someone might have taught her. Finally, Judit said, “Auschwitz was a camp.”
       “Oh,” Shaindel said. She must have known that Judit had left something out of the story, but she didn’t pursue it. “Like an army camp. Where they train people.”
       Now, the public bus passed by. Judit flagged it down and boarded before she had to say what people were trained to do.
And here’s one from Anna Lehmann as she tells her students about her own research into another alternative for a Jewish state, the Palestine experiment:
Anna Lehmann’s own argument—one that gained currency—was that the messianic element doomed the project from the start. “Messianic” wasn’t even her name for it. It was their own. Palestine-Jews believed that in returning to the land mentioned in the scriptures, they would become the agents of their own salvation.
      “Are you the agents of your own salvation? Are you biblical prophets?” Lehmann addressed the eight students who sat on plush little stools and a big couch in her living room sipping tea from Meissen china [...]
       “No, Grandmother Professor,” they all replied.
       “Good,” she said. “Don’t be. Biblical prophets make terrible historians. They never bother with the past, and they always mistake the present for the future”.

TQWhat's next?

Simone:  I’m hoping to finish a draft of a new book this summer, a take on Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain which examines a group in isolation, in my case in a fancy nursing home called The Hill. It’s a nifty concept, but a struggle to get right. Recently, discovering Kelly Link’s work made me realize the missing piece—oddly enough—was the magic. What if their fixation on their health and bodies became almost supernatural? I think I’ll have fun with it now.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tor Books, June 21, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Simone Zelitch has created an amazing alternate history in Judenstaat. On April 4th, 1948 the sovereign state of Judenstaat was created in the territory of Saxony, bordering Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

Forty years later, Jewish historian Judit Klemmer is making a documentary portraying Judenstaat's history from the time of its founding to the present. She is haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, Hans, a Saxon, shot by a sniper as he conducted the National Symphony. With the grief always fresh, Judit lives a half-life, until confronted by a mysterious, flesh-and-blood ghost from her past who leaves her controversial footage on one of Judenstaat's founding fathers--and a note:

"They lied about the murder."

Judit's research into the footage, and what really happened to Hans, embroils her in controversy and conspiracy, collective memory and national amnesia, and answers far more horrific than she imagined.

Photo by Nathaniel House
Simone Zelitch is the author of three prior novels, including Louisa which won the Goldberg Prize for Emerging Jewish Fiction. Her work has been featured on NPR and recent honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

Website  ~  Blog  ~  Twitter @simonezelitch

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Monster's Daughter by Michelle Pretorius

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured authors for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.

Michelle Pretorius

The Monster's Daughter
Melville House, July 19, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 464 pages

Somewhere on the South African veld, 1901: At the height of the Boer War, a doctor at a British concentration camp conducts a series of grim experiments on Boer prisoners. His work ends in chaos, but two children survive: a boy named Benjamin and a girl named Tessa . . .

One hundred years later, a disgraced young police constable is reassigned to the sleepy South African town of Unie, where she makes a terrifying discovery: the body of a young woman, burned beyond recognition.

The crime soon leads her into her country’s violent past—a past that includes her father, a high-ranking police official under the apartheid regime, and the children left behind in that long-ago concentration camp.

Michelle Pretorius’s epic debut weaves present and past together into a hugely suspenseful, masterfully plotted thriller. With an explosive conclusion, The Monster’s Daughter marks the emergence of a thrilling new writer.

#DASHNERDASH Google Hangout - The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The #DashnerDash Binge Read Google Hangout to discuss The Maze Runner is happening THIS THURSDAY, June 30th, at 8pm EST. You may join the Google Hangout here.

The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner Series 1
Delacorte Press, August 24, 2010
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. The Maze Runner, and its sequel The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, are now major motion pictures featuring the star of MTV’s Teen Wolf, Dylan O’Brien; Kaya Scodelario; Aml Ameen; Will Poulter; and Thomas Brodie-Sangster! Also look for James Dashner’s newest novels, The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts, the first two books in the Mortality Doctrine series.

Read the first book in the #1

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

Don't forget to enter to win a signed copy of The Scorch Trials!

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win one signed copy of the THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner from the publisher. US / CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on July 7, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 13 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Interview with Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red

Please welcome Jon Skovron to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Hope and Red is published on June 28th by Orbit. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Jon a Happy Publication Day!

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

Jon:  When I was in high school, I was going to be a rock star. It was the early 90's and the grunge/alt scene was in full swing. I played guitar or bass in several bands, wrote lots of angst-ridden songs, and generally made bad life choices. And it all went nowhere because, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't really all that good.

When I was in college, I was going to be a famous actor. I studied at an acting conservatory, got my Equity card, did some shows, even auditioned for some pilots. I was better at acting than I was at playing guitar. But while I enjoyed the art of acting, it turned out, the life of a professional actor made me miserable.

Now, this whole time I had been writing. I journaled extensively. I wrote little short stories here and there, just for my own amusement. I even attempted a novel, which was a shameless rip-off of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But for some reason, I never considered writing a viable career choice until one night, during a particularly hellacious production of Merchant of Venice in which I played Lancelot Gobbo. The play was performed in a warehouse without air conditioning in the middle of summer and the director had inexplicably put me in a wool sailor suit. As I sat backstage, dripping sweat, waiting for my next scene, I was reading The World According to Garp and it occurred to me for the first time that I could be an author.

And that was it. Since that hot summer night in 1999, I have strived to build a writing career. It's taken a while, but things seem to be working out.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jon:  I suppose I'm a hybrid. I write the first few chapters with only a vague idea of where it's all going or what it's all about because I find that thrilling. But usually about a quarter of the way through the book, things start to get muddled. That's when I stop and write my outline. Once I've got that squared away, I go back to writing the draft. Naturally, I ignore most of what I wrote in the outline. But still, writing it makes me feel better and gives me confidence that there is a way to resolve the conflict I so willy-nilly created in those first few chapters.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jon:  What I find most challenging is the business part of being an "author". But if I had to confine myself only to the craft of writing, I think it would be that period in revisions where you can no longer see the forest for the trees. When you are so saturated with the minutia of the story that you've lost the big picture. That's when I have to step away and let it rest for a while. And ideally give it to a trusted reader who still has some perspective.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jon:  Naturally, a lot of my influences are other writers. David Eddings, Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Chabon, China Mieville, Kelly Link, Holly Black, Jeff VanderMeer, Tim Powers, just off the top of my head. My theater background also factors in quite a bit. Playwrights such as Shakespeare, Chekov, and Wilde have had an impact, of course. But I suspect my acting training itself also contributes a great deal. I've also been an avid comics reader, both western and manga, for my whole life. And anyone who reads Hope and Red will be able to spot the obvious influence of a childhood spent watching as many kung fu films as I could get my hands on in the pre-Internet age.

TQHope and Red (The Empire of Storms 1) is your first adult novel. How was the experience in writing Hope and Red different (or the same) as when you write Young Adult novels?

Jon:  The biggest difference for me was simply being able to address topics that are not directly related to the teen experience. There are very few "rules" in YA. Well, maybe that's not as true as it was 5-10 years ago...but I think for the most part that still holds. One of the things that defines YA, though, is that it must be directly and specifically about the teen experience. And while that's fun and cool and all, it's nice to grapple with some more nuanced grown-up things.

Also, more sex and cursing! YAY!

Oddly, I think the gore factor is about the same...though I don't think I could have gotten away with exploding genitalia in YA.

TQDescribe Hope and Red in 140 characters or less.

JonHope and Red is my swashbuckling kung fu gangster pirate romance!

TQTell us something about Hope and Red that is not found in the book description.

Jon:  It's can be pretty funny at times. Red and his mentor, Sadie, come from a gritty urban criminal underworld where everyone has a very...earthy sense of humor.

TQWhat inspired you to write Hope and Red? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Jon:  In general, fantasy was what I read the most as a kid. And I think it's safe to say that I mostly read it to escape the dreary confines of growing up middle class in the Midwest. I left fantasy when I was in college, deeming it not intellectual enough, or something pretentious like that. I let others tell me what to read. And that was fine for a while because I read a lot of amazing, challenging, and impactful literature. But when I decided to start writing seriously, I asked myself what it was I wanted to write, and I came back fairly quickly to fantasy. Partly because it's what made me fall in love with books and writing in the first place. But also because I realized that fantasy is not simply escapism. While getting swept away is a part of the pleasure, there is also this element of using the metaphor of fantasy to see things in our own lives from a fresh perspective.

More specifically, I was inspired to write Hope and Red as a palliative to the commercial pressures of writing YA fiction. I decided to write something totally for me. I wanted to make a world completely from scratch and fill it with all the things I loved best. Turns out, other people like those things, too!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Hope and Red?

Jon:  I love research. Maybe a little too much. I like to dive deep. So I did extensive research on naval and pirate tactics, particularly during the Napoleonic wars and the "golden age" of piracy. I researched the early history of New York City as a model for my own urban settings. I read a lot of samurai folklore, and of course the Bushido. I re-watched all my favorite kung fu films (what a hardship!), and I read as much wuxia as I could get my hands on, which is the source of a lot of kung fu storytelling.

TQIn Hope and Red, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jon:  Hope was probably the easiest, because she was always in my mind from the very first page. There was no story before Hope. She entered my mind, and everything else flowed from her. I tried my best to keep things balanced between her and Red, and I think I've succeeded. But way deep down, my heart belongs to Hope.

There is a character named Brigga Lin who goes through a significant transformation during the story, and I worked very hard to write about that as thoughtfully and sensitively as I could. Brigga Lin is an absolute delight to write, so it's not difficult exactly. But I feel a responsibility to handle it the right way.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Hope and Red?

Jon:  I didn't set out specifically to write about social issues. For example, when I mentioned to my friend Darren that Red's best friend in the book is gay, he just gave me a wry smile and said, "Write what you know, eh Jonny?" And that's really it. Race, gender, class, and orientation are simply aspects of my life. Family, friends, everyone around me is affected by them. These topics can be enriching or divisive, but they are always present. I see no reason why they wouldn't be present in a fantasy world. In fact, I think a world that didn't include a multitude of races, cultures, and beliefs would be terribly dull.

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


Q: You mentioned re-watching your favorite kung fu films as a part of your research. Which is your favorite?

A: My friend Ken Chen introduced me to the highly under-appreciated 1992 film The Swordsman II, starring Jet Li and Brigitte Lin. Jet Li is so young and fresh-faced, full of humor and heart. Brigitte Lin is simply devastating as the villain/love interest, with her deadly needle and thread form. The entire story is so outlandish, and yet it never feels forced. It's very...theatrical. Almost operatic. But with people getting torn in half and stuff.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Hope and Red.

“What is the child’s name?” asked Hurlo.

“She won’t say for some reason. I half think she doesn’t remember.”

“What shall we call her, then, this child born of nightmare? As her unlikely guardians, I suppose it is now up to us to name her.”

Captain Sin Toa thought about it a moment, tugging at his beard. “Maybe after the village she survived. Keep something of it in memory, at least. Call her Bleak Hope.”

TQWhat's next?

Jon:  Next will be the second book in the Empire of Storms trilogy, Bane and Shadow. I'm not sure exactly when it's coming out, but my understanding is less than a year from now.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jon:  It was my pleasure! Thanks for asking such thoughtful questions.

Hope and Red
The Empire of Storms 1
Orbit Books, June 28, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people will find a common cause.

Hope, the lone survivor when her village is massacred by the emperor's forces is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance.

Red, an orphan adopted by a notorious matriarch of the criminal underworld, learns to be an expert thief and con artist.


About Jon

Photo by Ryan Benyi
Jon Skovron is the author of several young adult novels and his short stories have appeared in publications such as ChiZine and Baen's Universe. He lives just outside Washington, D.C. with his two sons and two cats. The Empire of Storms is his first adult fantasy series.

Website  ~ Twitter @jonnyskov  ~  Tumblr

Facebook  ~  Instagram

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Night of the Animals by Bill Broun

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.

Bill Broun

Night of the Animals
Ecco, July 5, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 560 pages

An imaginative debut that brilliantly recasts the tale of Noah’s Ark as a story of fate and family set in the near future in London

Over the course of a single night in 2052, a homeless man named Cuthbert Handley sets out on an astonishing quest: to release the animals of the London Zoo. When he was a young boy, Cuthbert’s grandmother told him he inherited a magical ability to communicate with the animal world—a gift she called the Wonderments. Ever since his older brother’s death in childhood, Cuthbert has heard voices. These maddening whispers must be the Wonderments, he believes, and recently they have promised to reunite him with his lost brother and bring about the coming of a Lord of Animals . . . if he fulfills this curious request.

Cuthbert flickers in and out of awareness throughout his desperate pursuit. But his grand plan is not the only thing that threatens to disturb the collective unease of the city. Around him is greater turmoil, as the rest of the world anxiously anticipates the rise of a suicide cult set on destroying the world’s animals along with themselves. Meanwhile, Cuthbert doggedly roams the zoo, cutting open the enclosures, while pressing the animals for information about his brother.

Just as this unlikely yet loveable hero begins to release the animals, the cult’s members flood the city’s streets. Has Cuthbert succeeded in harnessing the power of the Wonderments, or has he only added to the chaos—and sealed these innocent animals’ fates? Night of the Animals is an enchanting and inventive tale that explores the boundaries of reality, the ghosts of love and trauma, and the power of redemption.

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway - Forevermore by Kristen Callihan

Today is the publication day for the 7th and final novel in the Darkest London series by Kristen Callihan - Forevermore.  Read an excerpt and enter to win a copy below!

        One might think being an immortal was a blessing, never grow old, never grow sick, never die. At one time in St. John Evernight’s life, he considered it a blessing too. He would be around long after the simple humans who surrounded him were nothing but dust. They could stare all they liked at his “strange” hair and frosty green eyes. They could gossip and speculate about him until they lost their voices. It didn’t matter. He was untouchable, and they were but fragile sacks of blood and bone.
        How naive he’d been. Because living forever merely meant a lack of escape from the desolation of regret and loneliness. He knew now that he could walk down Jermyn Street endlessly, see the sands of time shift and rearrange before him, and never be a part of life.
        “Brooding, Mr. Evernight?”
        Sin almost jumped at the sudden sound of Augustus’s voice by his side. Damn, the blasted man loved to startle him. He gave Augustus a passing glance. Dressed in conservative brown tweed and a bowler hat, the angel appeared every inch the English gentlemen, save for his dark coloring that marked him to be from Southern climes.
        “It’s really quite the trick, popping up like a soap bubble whenever you choose, Augustus. You must teach me how one day.”
        The man’s mouth twitched. “With your luck, you’d pop up in the middle of a parliamentary session.”
        Yes, Sin had abominable luck. Or perhaps it was more a matter of making abominable choices.
        “You’re brooding again,” Augustus remarked.
        “I’m not brooding. This is simply my face.”
        Augustus snorted but remained silent as they walked along, past Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall.
        “Care to tell me why you called me here?” Sin asked, when they came upon the grounds of Westminster. For the past year, Sin had been in Rome, soaking in the warmer temperatures, drinking espresso in cafes along the Piazza della Rotunda, under the shade of the ancient Pantheon. He’d eaten simple but delicious food, and listened to the rapid fire of Italian, and felt…well, not peace, but a measure of contentment.
        Until Augustus had sent for him. Returning to England sat like a stone in his gut. But he would obey. Augustus was his mentor, and the man who’d given him salvation. The price was a lifetime of servitude. To be fair, his role was for justice, not evil, which was a nice change of pace.
        A massive dray rattled past, kicking up dust and sending a fug of stale manure into the air. They hurried past the cloud and headed for Westminster Abbey. Sin hadn’t planned on visiting today, but here they were all the same. He wondered if Augustus somehow had led him to their usual meeting place or if Sin had merely headed that way because of the man’s sudden arrival.
        He’d like to think the latter. It did not sit well with him having another control his actions. Not since a certain evil fae had kept Sin as a blood slave for years. Even now, the memory made his stomach turn.
        Not a soul acknowledged them as they walked through the abbey and into the cloisters. Here, a rare bit of sunlight peeked through the constant cloud cover and cast lacy shadows along the walkway. The sound of their boot heels clacked out a steady rhythm as they strolled along.
        “Layla returns to London tonight.”
       At the mention of her name, Sin’s heart stilled within his breast. He’d tried his best to ward off all finer feelings, to remain numb, detached from life. And yet he could not, for the life of him, remain immune to Layla Starling. His childhood friend. The one woman who could take his breath, his reason, simply by laying eyes upon her.
        Stuffing his shaking hands into his trouser pockets, Sin forced himself to keep an even tone. “So then I am to begin watching over her?”
        God, but he did not want to. It would be agony, staying so close to her and never being allowed to show his true feelings. And yet a thrum of anticipation went through him at the mere prospect of seeing Layla once more.
        “Are you ready?” Augustus asked, though his expression told Sin he fully expected an affirmative answer.
        So Sin told him the only truth left to him. “I will not fail her.”

Darkest London 7
Forever, June 28, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Isolated and alone, Sin Evernight is one of the most powerful supernatural creatures in heaven and on earth. As an angel of vengeance, he hunts down the darkest evil, but when his long-lost friend, Layla Starling, needs him, he vows to become her protector. Even though she will be horrified by the man he has become.

Now a famous singer and the toast of London, Layla believes that Sin is only here to guard her from rabid fans and ardent suitors. However, the truth is far more sinister. Desperate to avoid losing Layla a second time, Sin will face a test of all his powers to defeat an unstoppable foe - and win an eternity with the woman he loves.

About Kristen

USA Today bestselling author Kristen Callihan is a writer because there is nothing else she'd rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewers' Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book, Firelight, received RT Book Reviews' Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher's Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

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Twitter @Kris10Callihan
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The Darkest London Novels

Darkest London 1
Forever, February 1, 2012
Mass Market Paberback and eBook, 400 pages

London, 1881
Once the flames are ignited . . .
Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

Darkest London 2
Forever, July 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Once the seeds of desire are sown . . .
Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy's door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . .

Their growing passion knows no bounds . . .
Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret, and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul.

Darkest London 3
Forever, February 26, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Once blissfully in love . . .
Poppy Lane is keeping secrets. Her powerful gift has earned her membership in the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals, but she must keep both her ability and her alliance with the Society from her husband, Winston. Yet when Winston is brutally attacked by a werewolf, Poppy's secrets are revealed, leaving Winston's trust in her as broken as his body. Now Poppy will do anything to win back his affections . . .

Their relationship is now put to the ultimate test.
Winston Lane soon regains his physical strength but his face and heart still bear the scars of the vicious attack. Drawn into the darkest depths of London, Winston must fight an evil demon that wants to take away the last hope of reconciliation with his wife. As a former police inspector, Winston has intelligence and logic on his side. But it will take the strength of Poppy's love for him to defeat the forces that threaten to tear them apart.

Darkest London 4
Forever, December 17, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Once a heart is lost in shadow . . .
Life has been anything but kind to Mary Chase. But the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals has given her purpose. Now she's been tasked with catching a vicious murderer dubbed the Bishop of Charing Cross. But someone is already on the case-and the last thing he relishes is a partner.

Only someone who lives in darkness can find it.
Jack Talent has been alone with his demons for many years.
He never expected to have the willful Mary Chase assist him on the Bishop case. Their age-old rivalry reaches new heights-even as their desire for one another reaches a fever pitch. Though he aches to bring her close, Jack's dark secrets are a chasm between them. With dangerous enemies closing in, Jack must find the strength to face the past . . . or risk losing Mary forever.

Darkest London 5
Forever, August 26, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Once the night comes . . . 
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.

Love must cast aside the shadows
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.

Darkest London 6
Forever, February 24, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Once two souls are joined . . .
When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled-and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone . . .

Their hearts will beat together forever
No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted-by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken . . .

Monday, June 27, 2016

Interview with Bill Schutt

Please welcome Bill Schutt to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Bill is the co-author with J.R. Finch of Hell's Gate which was published on June 7th by William Morrow.

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

Bill:  I’ve been writing ever since I was a child (a nasty sci-fi short story called The Cylinder got me in some trouble when I was 12). I started writing peer-reviewed science papers in the early ‘90s and my first non-fiction book, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures, came out in 2008. I think writing is an extension of the fact that I’ve always been an avid reader.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Bill:  We generally work out an outline of the plot, then a summary of the chapters. Next we work on those individual chapters–editing them over and over again until things like the dialogue and character action sound and feel just right.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Bill:  I’d have to say what happens to a book once it gets out of my hands. Besides working hard to promote it locally and on social media, there’s little an author can do at that point. That’s tough.

TQHow does being a Professor of Biology at LIU Post and being a Research Associate of the American Museum of Natural History affect your fiction writing?

Bill:  That’s a rather complex question. As a professor I’ve always tried to be an entertainer—primarily to keep my students interested in whatever topic I happen to be covering. Because of this, I make a conscious effort to keep things lively and funny in my writings (both fiction and non-fiction). Also, as someone who has spent a lot of time in the field (I’ve studied bats all over the world), I think that was quite helpful when writing scenes where zoologist R.J. MacCready is sitting out in the rainforest at night or crawling around in a guano-filled cave.

TQDescribe Hell's Gate in 140 characters or less.

Bill:  During WWII zoologist RJ MacCready is sent into a Brazilian Heart of Darkness to investigate Axis activity. What he finds there is far stranger than even he can imagine

TQTell us something about Hell's Gate that is not found in the book description.

Bill:  There’s a great deal of real science in Hell’s Gate, from advanced weaponry that was on the drawing board in 1944 to the biology and behavior of some really weird but real-life creatures.

TQWhat inspired you to write Hell's Gate?

Bill:  A trip to the real Hell’s Gate in central Brazil got me thinking about, how, 60 or so years ago, it would have been a great place to hide something from the rest of the world.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Hell's Gate?
Bill:  The “bat is now out of the bag” that some of our main characters are vampire bats and I’ve been working on those for 25 years. Basically J.R. and I wanted to write a real vampire story in which the larger prehistoric cousins of modern vampire bats didn’t go extinct in the recent past. We tried to portray their behavior as accurately as possible, and in the end they became real-life versions of the Aliens in the Ridley Scott and James Cameron films.

TQIn Hell's Gate who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Bill:  I found Mac to be the easiest character to write because he and I are vertebrate zoologists with similar academic and museum backgrounds. We both love being out in the field. I found Mac’s best friend, Bob Thorne, the most difficult character to write. He’s based on my late best friend (also Bob), who we lost to leukemia during the writing. His parents and relatives knew Bob was in Hell’s Gate and so this became a very difficult thing to do. I believe we wrote something the real Bob would have enjoyed, and I was extremely relieved to hear that his mom really loved the fictional portrayal.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Hell's Gate?

Bill:  We thought it was important to mention some lesser known injustice that Americans of German ancestry (as well as Jewish Americans) faced during in the 1940s. Some of it was quite surprising and we decided to employ these events to give our hero a seriously haunted past.

TQWhich question about Hell's Gate do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Bill: (Please Note: This Q&A is purely hypothetical and has not happened! )

Q: “So Bill, where you when you heard Guillermo del Toro was interested in making Hell’s Gate into a movie?”

A: “I was being interviewed by Alice Cooper when the call came in.”

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Hell's Gate.

Bill:  “The history of civilization is written in humanity’s perversion of nature.” Then there’s… “Then, for a moment, the private’s scream became strong and clear, spiraling up, and up, and up into the night, until it was lost in the mist.”

TQWhat's next?

Bill:  We’re just about to turn in the sequel to Hell’s Gate and we’re already starting to think about the plot for the next book after that. We’re looking forward to Mac and Yanni’s adventures after the end of WWII (the sequel takes place in 1946) and then into the ‘50s and ‘60s. My next non-fiction book, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History (Algonquin) comes out on Valentine’s Day 2017.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Bill:  You’re very welcome. Thank you for being so cool.

Hell's Gate
William Morrow, June 7, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

When a Japanese submarine is discovered abandoned deep in the Brazilian wilderness, a smart, adventurous, and tough zoologist must derail a catastrophic plot in Hell’s Gate.

1944. As war rages in Europe and the Pacific, Army Intel makes a shocking discovery: a 300-foot Japanese sub marooned and empty, deep in the Brazilian interior. A team of Army Rangers sent to investigate has already gone missing. Now, the military sends Captain R. J. MacCready, a quick-witted, brilliant scientific jack-of-all-trades to learn why the Japanese are there—and what they’re planning.

Parachuting deep into the heart of Central Brazil, one of the most remote regions on the planet, Mac is unexpectedly reunited with his hometown friend and fellow scientist Bob Thorne. A botanist presumed dead for years, Thorne lives peacefully with Yanni, an indigenous woman who possesses mysterious and invaluable skills. Their wisdom and expertise are nothing short of lifesaving for Mac as he sets out on a trail into the unknown.

Mac makes the arduous trek into an ancient, fog-shrouded valley hidden beneath a 2000-foot plateau, where he learns of a diabolical Axis plot to destroy the United States and its allies. But the enemy isn’t the only danger in this treacherous jungle paradise. Silently creeping from the forest, an even darker force is on the prowl, attacking at night and targeting both man and beast. Mac has to uncover the source of this emerging biological crisis and foil the enemy’s plans . . . but will he be in time to save humanity from itself?

About the Authors

J.R. FINCH is the pen name of a painter, history buff, and cave explorer. He lives in New York with three cats.

Photo by Jerry Ruotolo
BILL SCHUTT is a vertebrate zoologist, professor of biology, and author. He is a Research Associate (in residence) at the American Museum of Natural History and a Professor of Biology at LIU Post. Bill’s first book, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures, was critically acclaimed by E.O. Wilson, The New York Times and Alice Cooper. His next non-fiction work, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, will explore the natural history of cannibalism. Bill lives with his wife and son on the East End of Long Island, and he is currently working on a sequel to Hell’s Gate with J.R. Finch.

Website  ~  Twitter @draculae