Friday, June 23, 2017

Interview with Bradley W. Schenck, author of Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom

Please welcome Bradley W. Schenck to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom was published on June 13th by Tor Books.

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

Bradley W. Schenck:  Well, “when” is pretty easy. I was about seven. “Why”, though, that one I have to reconstruct. Because I wasn’t keeping notes or anything.

My best guess is that I really liked stories, and so it seemed like making stories was just one of those things that people did. So I did it, too. I had a tendency at that age to just jump right in.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

BWS:  I call what I do “limited pants”.

I just like saying that. It’s such an evocative phrase, right? In what sense are these pants limited? Where do you draw the line, once pants limitations are on the table? Who has the right to limit pants, if pants can be constrained?

But it’s also accurate. When I start out I have a rough idea of where I’m headed, and I’ve decided on a few of the important stops I have to make along the way. I know the shape of the thing. But then I arrive at my destination through improvisation, and the best things in the stories are the ones I didn’t see coming.

The things I could never have planned, I mean, because they grow naturally out of the things that I discovered along the way. And the endings? They could change. The map I start with is there purely for reference.

That’s probably a crazy approach for a book like Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. This is an ensemble piece with a lot of characters who are all blundering toward the same goal, with no idea that there are other people blundering in parallel with them. Each character or group has its own rhythm, its own pace, as it moves toward their eventual meeting. So keeping them all in sync without an outline was an adventure in itself.

The ending of Switchboard is not exactly the ending I had in mind when I started it. The result is the same, but we arrive at that result in a way that turned out to be inevitable only when I got there.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
BWS:  The most difficult thing about writing is starting to write. The second most difficult thing is finishing what you wrote. The stuff in between, that’s a piece of cake.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

BWS:  That’s such a subjective question, isn’t it? I mean, for me a big influence might be Morrie Ryskind’s screenplay for My Man Godfrey. But if I say that you’d just scratch your head and say “Really? With robots?”

My characters have grown out of the streamlined futurism of the 1930’s. So I kept looking back (especially for dialogue) to the Warner Brothers films from that decade; to John Steinbeck, and Damon Runyon, and Ring Lardner; and, for their humor, to Morrie Ryskind, and George S. Kaufman, and S. J. Perelman.

But I’ve been influenced by everything I’ve ever read, and those influences sprout out in ways we’re not even aware of. So your observations are just as reliable as mine.

TQDescribe Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom in 140 characters or less.

BWS:  A light-hearted adventure set in one of our used futures: because nobody else was using it at the moment, and robots and rockets are neat.

TQTell us something about Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom that is not found in the book description.

BWS:  This book examines both the difficulty of being a robot and the horror of being a babysitter. Also, there’s a thing that’s more like a squid than anything else. And really tiny elephants.

TQYou've been drawing Retropolis pictures since the late 1990s. What inspired you to write a novel based on/in Retropolis?

BWS:  It came about gradually. Back in 2010 I started serializing illustrated stories at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual (home of the Pulp-O-Mizer!). Those stories ran around 30,000 or 40,000 words.

Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom was going to be the next serial at Thrilling Tales until I realized how much bigger it was. At that point I admitted that I was working on a novel, and I decided to treat it like one.

So I guess my inspiration for writing a novel was the discovery that I was working on a novel. Weird, isn’t it?

TQWhat sort of research, if any, did you do for Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom?

BWS:  I had to find out what area on the Moon had lots of underground lava tubes that people could turn into habitats. And I had to calculate how many years you can get out of 15,000 hours. Is that research? You decide.

Also, I researched the pen names used by Henry Kuttner and Catherine Moore.

But most of the research for the book was working out ways to talk about things that are completely preposterous, while waving my hands in such a hypnotic manner that you - possibly - don’t mind.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom?

BWS:  The thing about book covers is that they have to tell you what the book is like. It’s nice when that means you get to show a scene from the book; but it’s not essential that you do that. You’re not illustrating a chapter, on the cover. You’re wrapping up, in a single image, the experience of being in the book.

So in my original cover concept I did show a scene from the book, and it was one that I thought summed up that experience. But the publisher wanted something different, and I was really happy to learn that they wanted me to do a new one. I mean, who gets to do their own cover?

What they wanted was two of the characters and a view of the city of Retropolis. That’s more or less what you see on the front of the book. Well... more, I guess. Because although they asked for Dash and Rusty, it’s just as much Nola’s story as it is Dash’s. So I put her there, too.

But on the back I added a bunch of other characters, posed or fleeing, in something a little like Josh Kirby’s covers for the Discworld series. Because it’s that chaotic mass of people, acting independently and without an overall plan, that I think sums up what being in the book is really like. None of these people understands the scope of what’s happening to them: but you can see it.

Some of these are characters from the book, and some of them are stand-ins for whole groups of people - like the mad scientists of the Experimental Research District.

And then, behind and around them, you have that 1930’s City of Tomorrow: Retropolis.

TQIn Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

BWS:  I never really wondered who was easiest. I’d guess that would be either Dash Kent or Abner Perkins: Dash, because understanding what he was about was the thing that got me started me on the book; Abner, because of all these characters his oblivious tunnel-mindedness is probably the most like me.

The hardest characters to write were either Howard Pitt or Lillian Krajnik. That’s because they verge on monologue, and it’s always hard to let a character carry on like that in a way that seems natural - especially when what they’re going on about is important.

Actually most of Lillian’s scenes were a lot of fun to write. She just has this one scene....

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom?

BWS:  Well... this is a light, humorous book. I don’t flatter myself that I can instruct you about anything.

That said, it does seem these days that no matter what you write there will always be someone, somewhere, who finds something deeply disturbing about it. And who will point out how what you’ve written is a sign of everything that’s wrong with the world.

But, honestly, the closest I come to a social message here is “Slavery is bad.” And if there’s anybody out there who’d condemn me for that message... well, that’s a person I’d like to offend.

I’m not exactly going out on a limb, there.

At one point I do draw a distinction between idealism and fanaticism, while in practice it’s often hard to do that: one person’s idealism is another person’s pogrom. And if drawing that distinction is hard, it’s also pretty important - especially when it’s a kind of idealism with which we agree.

TQWhich question about Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Question: “Is there a limit to how many copies I can buy?”

Answer: “No, go on, knock yourself out.”

Hey, I’m not proud.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom.


“The squid-thing had been designed to live in a place that did not exist, and it wanted very much to get there.”

“You need first to understand that a robot’s entire sense of self worth is tied to its job performance. A welding robot welds, and is uncomfortable in the face of bad welding. A service robot cleans and repairs: broken, dirty things offend it on a deep and profound level. A giant robot smashes things, and unsmashed things, to a giant robot, look incomplete and disturbing.”

TQWhat's next?

BWS:  While Switchboard was in my editor’s hands I wrote a series of shorter, web-serialized stories about the Retropolis Registry of Patents. That’s the agency that oversees patent applications from the universally mad scientists in the city’s Experimental Research District.

While they never mention this outside the office, the officers and investigators at the Registry also keep tabs on what’s going on in the District. They’re the only people who get a preview of the bizarre experiments and inventions that might just wipe out the city, if nobody stops them. So of course they also have to prevent those things from happening.

That’s their job. But they’re people, whether human or what really interests them? Office politics.

I’m finishing that series with a final story, and I’ll collect them in an illustrated book called Patently Absurd.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

BWS:  It’s a pleasure to be Qwilled!

Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom
A Novel of Retropolis
Tor Books, June 13, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages


If Fritz Lang’s Metropolis somehow mated with Futurama, their mutant offspring might well be Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. Inspired by the future imagined in the 1939 World Fair, this hilarious, beautifully illustrated adventure by writer and artist Bradley W. Schenck is utterly unlike anything else in science fiction: a gonzo, totally bonkers, gut-busting look at the World of Tomorrow, populated with dashing, bubble-helmeted heroes, faithful robot sidekicks, mad scientists, plucky rocket engineers, sassy switchboard operators, space pirates, and much, much more—enhanced throughout by two dozen astonishing illustrations.

After a surprise efficiency review, the switchboard operators of Retropolis are replaced by a mysterious system beyond their comprehension. Dash Kent, freelance adventurer and apartment manager, is hired to get to the bottom of it, and discovers that the replacement switchboard is only one element of a plan concocted by an insane civil engineer: a plan so vast that it reaches from Retropolis to the Moon. And no one—not the Space Patrol, nor the Fraternal League of Robotic Persons, nor the mad scientists of Experimental Research District, nor even the priests of the Temple of the Spider God, will know what hit them.

About Bradley

BRADLEY W. SCHENCK is the owner and operator of the web site RETROPOLIS, which showcases his unique retro-futurist artwork. He has been a digital artist, art director, and video game developer. Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom is his debut novel. Learn more at, and

More Images of Tomorrow Variant Covers!


PORTLAND, OR, 06/22/2017 — Image Comics is pleased to reveal seven more of the variants planned for July’s 25th anniversary theme—“Images of Tomorrow.”

After 25 years of ushering in waves of bestselling, award winning, and groundbreaking comics, these variants will celebrate the longevity of Image Comics’ series with covers speculating possible future events in their storylines.

Each month of Image’s 25th year will boast a theme for special anniversary variants.

Nintendo Download - June 22, 2017

This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content:
  • Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS
    • Ever Oasis – The desert’s last safe haven is a lone oasis you call home. So draw a line in the sand and fight to protect it! As you explore the desert and solve puzzling dungeons, you’ll gather resources to build up your oasis with the water spirit Esna. Allies will join your cause, so equip them with weapons, and use their skills to slay towering bosses. The Ever Oasis game will be available on June 23.
    • RPG Maker Fes – Create the RPG you always dreamed of with the RPG Maker Fes game. RPG Maker Fes is game-creation software that lets you create your own RPGs without any programming knowledge. Customize characters, stories, combat and more. Then, upload and share your creations to play other users’ games with the free RPG Maker Player application, which can also be downloaded in Nintendo eShop on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. RPG Maker Fes will be available on June 27.

Incoming Games for the Nintendo 3DS Family of Systems

With the E3 video game conference in the rear-view mirror, Nintendo is now looking ahead to all the great games coming to Nintendo 3DS this year. This includes games in some of gaming’s most popular and long-running franchises. Nintendo is highlighting many of these upcoming Nintendo 3DS games, including Metroid: Samus Returns, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, Pokémon Ultra Sun, Pokémon Ultra Moon, Hey! PIKMIN and LAYTON’S MYSTERY JOURNEY: Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy, the next game in the popular Layton series starring a new super-smart detective.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors

Here are some of the upcoming novels by formerly featured DAC Authors! The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.

Gerald Brandt (2016)

The Rebel
San Angeles 3
DAW, November 14, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

The third and final installment in the San Angeles trilogy, a thrilling near-future cyberpunk sci-fi series

Kris Merrill has lost everything. Her family when she was thirteen, her identity when she joined the anti-corporate movement, and now the man she loved. Living in a small room the resistance gave her, she feels alone. Abandoned.

A year ago, Kris’s life was torn apart when a delivery went wrong. The last year spent training with the anti-corporate movement had been the closest she’d ever gotten to normal.

Now, war has broken out between the corporations, and the lower levels of San Angeles are paying the price. Water and food are rationed. People are being ripped from their families in massive sweeps, drafted to fight. Those remaining live in a wasteland. The insurgents are trying to help, but Kris is being left out, given menial tasks instead of doing what she was trained for.

She is torn between working with the insurgents as they become more like the corporations they are fighting, and helping the people of the lower levels.

Caught in one of SoCal’s draft sweeps and being hunted by an enemy who will stop at nothing to have revenge are just the tip of the iceberg. Kris is pregnant, and she might have to choose between bringing down the corporations that destroyed her family or saving the life of her unborn son.

The Operative
San Angeles 2
DAW, November 7, 2017
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Hardcover and eBook, November 1, 2016

The second installment in the San Angeles trilogy, a thrilling near-future cyberpunk sci-fi series

Kris Merrill was a survivor. She’d lost her parents as a young girl, and she’d been forced to flee the dubious shelter of her aunt’s home at thirteen to escape the unwanted attentions of her uncle. She’d lived on the streets of San Angeles, finding refuge in the lowest level of the city. When she got the chance, Kris found a room to rent on Level 2, earning a precarious living as a motorcycle messenger, a courier delivering sensitive materials the megacorporations would not trust to any method that could be hacked.

A year ago, Kris’s life changed irrevocably when a delivery went terribly wrong, and she was targeted for termination by the Meridian corporation, one of the most powerful of the megaconglomerates that controlled the government. Salvation came in the form of Ian Miller, who rescued Kris from certain death, recruiting her for the underground resistance group of which he was a part.

Since then, Kris has been hidden with the resistance, training to become an operative. Just as her training with the anti-corporate movement is nearing its end, their compound is destroyed by surprise attack.

Ready or not, Kris and the other trainees are recalled to the dangerous metropolis of San Angeles. But their transport is shot down and Ian Miller, the man she loves, is captured. Someone, it seems, is using him to get to Kris.

With the help of a retired operative with PTSD, and the mysterious man who fled the scene when Kris’s parents were killed, Kris searches for any sign of Ian. As the corporations battle civil unrest—and each other—the city slowly shuts down. Kris and San Angeles are running out of time….

Pierce Brown (2014)

Iron Gold
Red Rising Saga 4
Del Rey, January 16, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 480 pages

Pierce Brown expands the size and scope of his #1 New York Times bestselling Red Rising series with a brand-new adventure of revolution and betrayal among the stars.

Geoffrey Girard (2013)

Carolrhoda Lab™, August 1, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 360 pages

Katie Wallace has never given much thought to 9/11. She was only a year old when terrorists struck American soil. But now her dad has landed in a mental institution after claiming to know what really happened. He insists the attacks were part of a government conspiracy. And he claims that Katie is living proof: the lone survivor of a massive cover-up. Hoping to free her dad, Katie sets out to investigate his bizarre claims. Soon she's drawn into the strange and secretive world of 9/11 conspiracy theorists known as the Truthers. What is fact and what is fiction? Katie no longer knows what to believe.

Kodansha Comics - Humble Manga Bundle Launched

Kodansha Comics Launches the Humble Manga Bundle: Fairy Tail, including 45 volumes of Hiro Mashima’s manga masterwork

Latest Humble Bundle offering presents a massive catalog of the epic-fantasy Fairy Tail universe—including spinoff series and never-before-translated works

San Francisco, Calif. (June 21, 2017)—Kodansha Comics presents the Humble Manga Bundle: Fairy Tail in partnership with Humble Bundle. The offering amounts to a whopping $630 worth of digital manga, including a massive chunk (45 volumes!) of Hiro Mashima’s epic-fantasy manga Fairy Tail. The actual cost of the bundle is based on Humble Bundle’s unique pay-what-you-want charitable model.

“With the end of this best-selling, long-running hit manga announced earlier this year, this bundle represents an amazing value and opportunity to get all caught up with the entire Fairy Tail universe in time for its conclusion later in 2017.” said Alvin Lu, General Manager of Kodansha Advanced Media.

The manga comes in multiple formats including CBZ, PDF, and ePub, so they can be read on computer, e-readers, iPads, cell phones, and a wide array of mobile devices. Bundle buyers choose where their money goes—between Kodansha Comics, two charities (the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union), and, if they like, a third charity of their choice via the PayPal Giving Fund. If they like what Humble Bundle does, they can leave a Humble Tip too.

This special bundle ends WEDNESDAY, July 5, 10:59 A.M. PACIFIC TIME.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2016 Sidewise Awards for Alternate History Nominees

The nominees for the 2016 Sidewise Awards for Alternate History have been announced.

Finalists for 2016 Best Short-Form Alternate History

Finalists for 2016 Best Long-Form Alternate History

The Sidewise Awards have been presented annually since 1995 to recognize excellence in alternate historical fiction. This year’s panel of judges included Stephen Baxter, Karen Hellekson, Matt Mitrovich, Jim Rittenhouse, Kurt Sidaway, and Steven H Silver. Winners will be announced August 20, 2017.

LeSportsac and Super Mario Power Up for a New Travel Collection

[click to embiggen]

LeSportsac and Super Mario Power Up for a New Travel Collection

Various Super Mario Items and Styles Coming This Holiday Season

REDMOND, Wash., June 21, 2017 – LeSportsac and Nintendo have teamed up to celebrate one of the most recognizable video game icons, Mario, with a special collection of totes, backpacks and accessories – launching in time for the holiday travel season.

Interview with Matthew Sullivan, Author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Please welcome Matthew Sullivan to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore was published on June 13th by Scribner.

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

Matthew:  I started writing in earnest in college in the 1990s, mainly because I loved to read. I grew up in a household of eight kids, and we were constantly telling stories and acting out characters that we’d made up, so storytelling has always been in my genes. My mom was a writer—she published some articles and stories and two novels for middle-grade readers—so there were always writing books around the house, and she and took me to my first writing conference when I was in 8th grade. Our storytelling genes definitely came from her.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Matthew:  I’m definitely a hybrid. A lot of my writing comes from the discoveries I make along the way, so I feel like I always need to be open to whatever possibilities arise. At the same time, writing without a destination can create a lot of unfocused content, at least for me. I think a general path forward is good, as long as it is outweighed by a willingness to bail from that path.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Matthew:  My biggest challenge is finding the time to write, and then focusing when I find it. With a full-time job and kids and life, getting into the right headspace to write can be a real obstacle. It helps to carve out uninterrupted blocks of time, like going away alone for a few days with no goal except to create. I sometimes go camping alone with a laptop hooked up to a car battery.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Matthew:  Books, books, books. I really fell for writing because of the relationship I felt with reading. Of course, the authors that do the influencing change all the time, and have for several decades now. Early on it was Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins. Later it was Lorrie Moore and Flannery O’Connor and John Updike and Denis Johnson. The list goes on and on, which is part of the pleasure of reading.

TQDescribe Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in 140 characters or less, like a tweet.

Matthew:  Bookseller Lydia, as a girl, was the sole survivor of a violent attack. Books are her sanctuary—and the way she solves a very old crime.

(I’ve never actually tweeted before… this is my first! Is a tweet still a tweet if it has never been sent?)

TQTell us something about Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore that is not found in the book description.

Matthew:  The opening chapter originally had Lydia chasing a book thief (Joey) through downtown Denver. That was cut during revisions. Also, in early drafts, David was more of a jerk.

TQWhat inspired you to write Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore? What appealed to you about writing a psychological mystery?

Matthew:  The biggest inspiration came from working for a number of years at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. The story unfolded entirely from that setting, or at least my imagination’s interpretation of that setting.

Psychological mysteries are appealing because they get to the heart of mystery fiction for me, which is the impact of crime on people.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore?

Matthew:  The story is very loosely connected to an unsolved cold case that happened in Aurora, Colorado, when I was growing up (a family was murdered in the night by a man with a hammer, not far from my childhood home: The Hammer Man). But I intentionally didn’t research the crime until long after the book was finished. Instead, I focused on the emotions and fears I felt as a child in the wake of those murders and tried to capture that. I did seek some research on the history of Denver, mostly as a refresher, and some aspects of social work and family services to help me capture the character of the “BookFrog” named Joey.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore.

Matthew:  The jacket was designed by Tyler Comrie, and I LOVE the work he did on it! For a book about books, it was important that the cover capture not just the image of books, but also the textures and the feel. The level of detail on the books is incredible, from the slight stains to the slightly threadbare corners. And the little colophons—I think that’s what they are called, those tiny etched images on the spine—even refer to themes or individual moments in the story. He somehow did all of that while making it both colorful and sinister. I am totally impressed.

TQIn Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Matthew:  The easiest character to write was Lydia, I think because she and I have so much in common (such as a love for books!). The hardest character to write was her boyfriend David because he’s so different from me.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore?

Matthew:  Even though this is a mystery, realism matters to me. It was important to capture real issues that real people face, such as children who have fallen through the cracks in the foster system, or the ripple effects of violent crime—even decades later.

TQWhich question about Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

MatthewWhat about the role of books in the book?

Funny you should ask. I was hoping to capture the way that books are so thoroughly connected to individual identity… we are the books we read. Books are an intrinsic part of the quest for truth in this mystery.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore.


Libraries were havens for everyone… not just the clean and productive.

You leave yourself open to answers, he’d always taught her. You keep turning pages, you finish chapters, you find the next book. You seek and you seek and you seek, and no matter how tough things become, you never settle…

TQWhat's next?

Matthew:  I’m working on another literary mystery, this one about a woman who ends up living alone in a very strange small town in the Northwest. I’m excited about it.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Matthew:  You are so welcome, Sally!

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Scribner, June 13, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Goodreads Debut Author of the Month and an Indie Next Pick!

“Sullivan’s debut is a page-turner featuring a heroine bookseller who solves a cold case with clues from books—what is not to love?” —Nina George, author of The Little French Bistro, and the New York Times bestselling The Little Paris Bookshop

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. Bedazzling, addictive, and wildly clever, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a heart-pounding mystery that perfectly captures the intellect and eccentricity of the bookstore milieu and will keep you guessing until the very last page.​

About Matthew

Photography by Lucid Concepts
Matthew Sullivan received his MFA from the University of Idaho and has been a resident writer at Yaddo, Centrum, and the Vermont Studio Center. His short stories have been awarded the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize and the Florida Review Editor’s Prize for Fiction and have been published in many journals, including The Chattahoochee Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Fugue, Evansville Review, and 580-Split. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he currently teaches writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in the high desert of Washington State. The author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, he is married to a librarian and has two children.

Website  ~  Facebook

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors

Here are some of the upcoming novels by formerly featured DAC Authors! The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.

Lila Bowen (Delilah S. Dawson) (2012)

Conspiracy of Ravens
The Shadow 2
Orbit, July 18, 2017
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover and eBook, October 11, 2016

The sequel to Wake of Vultures and second novel in Lila Bowen's widely acclaimed Shadow series.

Nettie Lonesome made a leap -- not knowing what she'd become. But now her destiny as the Shadow is calling.

A powerful alchemist is leaving a trail of dead across the prairie. And Nettie must face the ultimate challenge: side with her friends and the badge on her chest or take off alone on a dangerous mission that is pulling her inexorably toward the fight of her life.

When it comes to monsters and men, the world isn't black and white. What good are two wings and a gun when your enemy can command a conspiracy of ravens?

Malice of Crows
The Shadow 3
Orbit, October 31, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

The sequel to Conspiracy of Ravens and third novel in Lila Bowen's widely-acclaimed Shadow series.

The Ranger known as Rhett has shut down a terrible enterprise running on the blood of magical folk, but failed to catch the dark alchemist behind it. And now the Shadow refuses to let him rest.

Rhett must make the ultimate transformation if he has any hope of stopping the alchemist or fulfilling his destiny; he must become the leader of a new Rangers outpost.

To save his friends, and the lives of countless others, he'll first have to lead them on a mission more dangerous than anything they've ever faced.

Beth Cato (2014)

Call of Fire
Breath of Earth 2
Harper Voyager, August 15, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 362 pages

A resourceful young heroine must protect the world from her enemies—and her own power—in this thrilling sequel to the acclaimed Breath of Earth, an imaginative blend of alternative history, fantasy, science, magic, and adventure.

When an earthquake devastates San Francisco in an alternate 1906, the influx of geomantic energy nearly consumes Ingrid Carmichael. Bruised but alive, the young geomancer flees the city with her friends, Cy, Lee, and Fenris. She is desperate to escape Ambassador Blum, the cunning and dangerous bureaucrat who wants to use Ingrid’s formidable powers to help the Unified Pacific—the confederation of the United States and Japan—achieve world domination. To stop them, Ingrid must learn more about the god-like magic she inherited from her estranged father—the man who set off the quake that obliterated San Francisco.

When Lee and Fenris are kidnapped in Portland, Ingrid and Cy are forced to ally themselves with another ambassador from the Unified Pacific: the powerful and mysterious Theodore Roosevelt. But even TR’s influence may not be enough to save them when they reach Seattle, where the magnificent peak of Mount Rainier looms. Discovering more about herself and her abilities, Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to light the long-dormant volcano . . . and a war that will sweep the world.

Red Dust and Dancing Horses and Other Stories
Fairwood Press, November 2017
Trade Paperback

This debut collection from Nebula-nominated author Beth Cato brings together works that span history and space, a showcase of vividly imagined speculative stories that range from introspective and intense to outright whimsical. Here you'll find the souls of horses bonded into war machines of earth and air, toilet gnomes on the rampage, magical pies, a mad scientist mother, a bitter old man who rages against giant extraterrestrial robots, and a sentient house that longs to be a home. The book features 28 stories and 6 poems, and includes Cato's acclaimed story "The Souls of Horses."

Table of Contents:

The Souls of Horses / What We Carry (poem) / Beat Softly, My Wings of Steel / Hunter (poem) / Headspace / The Death of the Horse (poem) / Red Dust and Dancing Horses / What Happened Among the Stars (poem) / Biding Time / Hat Trick / Blue Tag Sale / Nisei (poem) / Toilet Gnomes at War / Minor Hockey Gods of Barstow Station / An Echo in the Shell / 213 Myrtle Street / The Human is Late to Feed the Cat / The Sweetness of Bitter / Post-Apocalyptic Conversations with a Sidewalk / A Dance to End Our Final Day / A Lonesome Speck of Home / La Rosa Still in Bloom / A Recipe for Rain and Rainbows / Bread of Life / Stitched Wings / My Brother's Keeper / Deeper Than Pie (poem) / Maps / Overlap / Moon Skin / Cartography of Shattered Trees / Roots, Shallow and Deep / "Cartographer's Ink / The Quest You Have Chosen Defies Your Fate

Jon Hollins (Jonathan Wood) (2011)

The Dragon Lords: False Idols 
The Dragon Lords 2
Orbit, August 29, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 640 pages

Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hobbit in this rollicking fantasy adventure series. 

The Dragons who once ruled over the land are dead.

The motley crew that stumbled through that revolution are rich and praised as saviors.

Everyone gets to live happily ever after, right?


Well, it might have worked out that way if the dragons in Kondorra had been the only ones. If they hadn't been just the tip of the spear about to fall upon the whole world...

Diablo III - The Necromancer Rises on June 27th

The Necromancer Rises in Diablo(R) III June 27

Rise of the Necromancer pack adds all-new class to Blizzard Entertainment's acclaimed action-RPG

Diablo® III: Eternal Collection, containing the original game, Reaper of Souls® expansion, and Rise of the Necromancer, will be available digitally on PlayStation®4 and Xbox One

IRVINE, Calif.—June 20, 2017—As the Burning Hells invade Sanctuary and all hope seems lost, an unlikely hero rises to restore balance to the world, calling forth an army of the dead and cleansing the land of evil. From the crypts deep beneath Blizzard Entertainment today came a dark invocation proclaiming that the Rise of the Necromancer pack, which summons the much-anticipated necromancer class into Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, will be unleashed June 27—available to those in the living realm digitally in-game on PC or through the online Blizzard Shop, PlayStation®Store, and Xbox One Store.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Interview with Nicky Drayden, Author of The Prey of Gods

Please welcome Nicky Draydon to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Prey of Gods was published on June 13th by Harper Voyager.

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

Nicky:  I started writing in 2005. In November of the previous year, the local news did a segment on National Novel Writing Month, and it sounded fun. The event was nearly over by the time I heard about it though, so I just planned on doing it the next November. Turns out I couldn’t wait that long, and ended up doing my own novel writing month in April. I completed my first book in 25 days. It’s buried deep in a trunk somewhere, but I’m still proud of it. I’ve been writing ever since.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Nicky:  I started off as a total pantser, but I’ve become more of a hybrid these days. My outlines are short maybe a page long, and I like to keep the ending vague. If I know how the story ends, I have no motivation to find out what happens.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Nicky:  The Middles. Beginnings of stories flow out of me, and I love the challenge of weaving together the plot strings at the end, but the middles are murky, deep, and tough to navigate without a map.

TQThe Prey of Gods is your first novel. What are, for you, the major differences in writing short stories versus a novel?

Nicky:  I’m great with flash fiction, since the plotting is so tight and targeted, though I probably rely too much on puns and twists. I love working with novels, since they’re so forgiving. You can meander until you strike the plot or the plot strikes you. But man, those stories between flash and novel length are rough. There’s no room to wander, and you can’t prop them up solely with humor and expect them to stand.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Nicky:  I have a lot of weird dreams that become story ideas. If I’m not actively working on a project, my dreams tend to get REALLY weird. I’ve also been able to lucid dream and have plotted an entire short story while asleep. Then all I did was wake up and type it out in the morning.

TQDescribe The Prey of Gods in 140 characters or less.

Nicky:  The Prey of Gods takes you on a raucous romp through a futuristic South Africa brimming with demigods, robots, and hallucinogenic hijinks.

TQTell us something about The Prey of Gods that is not found in the book description.

Nicky:  It also has walking, talking trees. No one ever mentions the trees.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Prey of Gods? What appeals to you about writing a novel that your publisher states "... braids elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and dark humor"?

Nicky:  The initial concept came to me after reading Ian McDonald’s River of Gods, which is set in a futuristic India. I’d been to Port Elizabeth, South Africa back when I was in college, and I thought it’d be interesting to imagine how the experiences I had there could translate into a work of speculative fiction. One of my recurring themes is God vs. Science and Technology, and how they can coexist (or sometimes not) and having a darkly humorous outlook on tough content sometimes makes it easier for readers to digest.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Prey of Gods? Why did you pick South Africa as the setting for the novel?

Nicky:  For research, I read articles and novels by South African authors, and – this one’s a bit odd – I dug into the comment sections of a few South African online magazines. People tend not to filter themselves in the comments section, so you can get an interesting glimpse of the issues people are dealing with. I also enlisted a few South African beta readers, and they helped to hone the story, filling in the gaps in my experience with rich texture and delectable details for readers to savor.

Many of the highlights from my visit there are featured in the book, for example, we toured some of the rural townships where people live in tin shanties, met teenagers who had recently gone through the circumcision rite, and visited a couple wildlife preserves. And it seemed like everywhere we went, there were these little cute antelopes called dik-diks rummaging around the city, kind of in a similar way some places have deer overpopulation problems, so those things all got worked into the book.

TQPlease tell us about the cover of The Prey of Gods.

NickyBrenoch Adams is the artist, and he does some amazing work. The little girl on the cover is Nomvula, and her name means “Mother of Rain” in Zulu. I first came upon the original image while putting together a Pinterest page of cover ideas for my editor. Brenoch was open to making some modifications so the image better fit the book. (If you’re interested, the original is #28 in this slide show.) I probably gave Brenoch way too many source materials and character sketches (I have some obsessive tendencies when it comes to these things), but he hit every detail, and surpassed my expectations.

TQIn The Prey of Gods who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Nicky:  Muzi was the easiest, because even though we have very little in common, I think we share a heart. I poured a lot of me into him. His mind is all over the place, like mine, and sometimes he doesn't make the best decisions, but he'll be there when you need him.

Stoker was the hardest. I’ve had a soft spot for their story from the beginning, but the way I told it left the arc feeling truncated and underdeveloped. I knew something was wrong, so I hired a sensitivity reader (who has also written an awesome humorous dark fantasy about fallen gods, if that’s your thing.) She worked her phenomenal plot magic, pointing out weak and problematic points, and posed questions that required me to do a lot of soul searching.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Prey of Gods?

Nicky:  I use social issues to examine my own biases. When staring at them on the page for months at a time, they’re impossible to ignore. I start questioning my assumptions, and then dig deeper to why I hold them in the first place.

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

Nicky:  There are song lyrics in the novel. Did you write them?

Yes! Writing lyrics opened up a new kind of creativity for me. I love music, but really, I have no ear for composition. Basically, all notes sound the same to me.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Prey of Gods.

Sydney closes her eyes and sighs to herself. She’ll have to be more careful. If Zinhle thinks she’s a witch, it’s only a matter of time before the other ladies find out. Even if they don’t believe it, rumors are enough to cast suspicious looks in Sydney’s direction, making it harder to do those things she does.

A witch.

She laughs at the idea, wishing it were that simple.

TQWhat's next?

Nicky:  My next book is sort of an African-inspired humorous dark fantasy with a heavy helping of steampunk. More gods and robots to look forward to!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Nicky:  Thanks for having me! This was so much fun.

The Prey of Gods
Harper Voyager, June 13, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

From a new voice in the tradition of Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, and Nnedi Okorafor comes The Prey of Gods, a fantastic, boundary-challenging tale, set in a South African locale both familiar and yet utterly new, which braids elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and dark humor.

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .

An emerging AI uprising . . .

And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.

Fun and fantastic, Nicky Drayden takes her brilliance as a short story writer and weaves together an elaborate tale that will capture your heart . . . even as one particular demigoddess threatens to rip it out.

About Nicky

Nicky Drayden’s short fiction has appeared in publications such as Shimmer and Space and Time Magazine. She is a Systems Analyst and resides in Austin, Texas, where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @nickydrayden