Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interview with Chris Beckett - April 23, 2014

Please welcome Chris Beckett to The Qwillery. Dark Eden was published on April 1st in the US by Broadway Books.  You may read a guest blog by Chris - The Sunless Planet - here.

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

Chris:  More of a pantser - I don’t understand how some people can work out a detailed plot before they’ve got to know their characters! – however the best description of the writing process I’ve come across was from the poet Ted Hughes, who said that for him it was a matter of ‘evading his mental policeman’ (or words to that effect). I think that’s the tricky part, allowing oneself to let go and trust one’s imagination and intuitions.

TQ:  Does being a social worker (and lecturer in social work) influence what you write?

Chris:  My second novel Marcher was certainly influenced a great deal by my background in social work. It’s less obvious in my other work. But if I was to say that my career in social work often involved dealing with unhappy, dysfunctional, and sometimes abusive or incestuous families, I guess this may ring a bell for readers of Dark Eden! (Also: I’m interested in outsiders, and I think this drew me both to social work, and to the kinds of topics I write about.)

TQDark Eden is your third novel after The Holy Machine and Marcher . You've also written numerous short stories. Do you approach novels and short stories differently?

Chris:  Very differently. A short story is a complete little object and requires just two or three core ideas to drive it forward and bring it to a conclusion. Once I have those ideas, I can write a short story fairly quickly, but I have to wait for the ideas to come of their own accord, and until they do there’s no story. (I’ve got a lot of half-written short stories waiting in a file in my laptop for that second or third idea to come along and bring them alive. Sometimes this takes ten years.)

A novel is easier in some respects, since it requires a similar number of core ideas to get started, but then you run with them for a lot longer, and they spawn new ideas as you go along. Dark Eden is the equivalent of, perhaps 20 short stories in terms of length, but once it was under way, it had its own momentum, whereas 20 short stories would have required starting all over again each time.

On the other hand, a novel has got to convey a sense of people growing and interacting over a long period of time and that is challenging. Just as with real people you live your life with, you have to allow them to change, to do unexpected things, to mess up your cherished plans! Unlike in life, you also have to be willing to go back and start again, sometimes many times.

The ideas for all my novels to date began in short stories, actually. The essential ideas for The Holy Machine were contained in two short stories from the beginning of my writing career. Marcher grew out of six short stories. Dark Eden began in a short story called ‘The Circle of Stones’ first published in 1992. I knew I hadn’t finished with that world at the time. I even started, and abandoned, a second story at the time, and a decade later I wrote another short called ‘Dark Eden’ which is really the back story of the book: how the planet Eden was first found, and how a man and a woman came to be stranded there. (The story can be found in my collection The Turing Test). Finally, the better part of two decades after I’d first envisaged this sunless, luminous world, I wrote Dark Eden the book.

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

Chris:  You will find detailed advice in it on how to catch a slinker. All you need is some wavyweed string, a club and... a slinker.

TQ:   In Dark Eden which character surprised you the most? Which character was the most difficult to write and why?

Chris:  The characters that surprised me were the ones who weren’t even in the book when I started off, but just slowly appeared. Hard to pick out one, but maybe Sue Redlantern (Jeff and Gerry’s mum, and John’s aunt). I didn’t know at the outset that she was going to be in the book at all, let alone one of the narrators of the book (she narrates three chapters, which is more than anyone else except for the two main characters, John and Tina), but she really came alive for me.

Hard to write? To be honest, I didn’t find any of the main characters hard to write, once I’d got going. What I did find hard – something which isn’t a problem in short stories - is keeping track of the minor characters and maintaining some sense of who they were across the span of the book. I’ve never written a book before with anything like this many characters in it.

TQ:  How did you develop the language spoken by the inhabitants of the world in Dark Eden ?

Chris:  These people have been cut off from Earth for 160 years, and the way they speak would certainly have changed in that time.

One of the original couple was American and one British, so I gave them a mixture of British and American words. For instance they say ‘bloke’ (which I think of as a very British word) but also say ‘smart’ in the American way, to mean ‘clever’. (In the UK, when we say ‘smart’ we mean well-dressed).

The first generation born in Eden would have lived in a family where there were just two adults and a bunch of kids. I’ve noticed that the language of new parents tends to become more childish, even when they talk to one another, and I thought the overall effect of this (in the absence of a community adults around to draw the language back towards adult norms) would be to entrench some childish ways of speaking into the language. Hence the doubled up words for emphasis (‘big big’) and the tendency to drop articles and other short words here and there.

Otherwise, I tried to bear in mind that words that hadn’t been needed for generations would have been lost (they’ve forgotten the word for ‘sea’ for instance), and that the people who first found the planet would have had to coin new words for things only found in Eden, typically naming things after vaguely similar things on Earth. (A bat on Eden is not the same as a bat on Earth, but has a superficial resemblance to it, just as an American robin is a completely different kind of bird from a European robin, but both have a red breast.) One of my favourite parts of the book is the story that people in Eden tell about how Michael Name-giver gave names to the animals and plants.

TQDark Eden is set on a planet very much unlike Earth. What sort of research did you do to create this planet? In general, what kinds of research did you do for the novel?

Chris:  I did very little research for this novel at all – none worthy of the name really - but I thought about it a lot, and drew on my existing knowledge. I knew that there are life-forms on Earth for instance, that get their energy from the heat of the planet’s core, rather than the sun, and I built on that. I am one of those people who are mines of useless information, but in my case, being a writer allows me to find a use for it all!

TQ:  Please give us one or two of your favorite lines from Dark Eden .

Eden was all I knew, all my mother knew, all my grandmother knew, but sometimes I longed and longed for the bright light that shines on Earth – as bright everywhere as the inside of a whitelantern flower – and the creatures that lived there, with red blood and four limbs and a single heart like us, and not the green-black blood and two hearts and six limbs of bats and leopards and birds and woollybucks.

TQ:  What's next?

Chris:  My next book will be a sequel to Dark Eden, set some two centuries on, when the followers of David and the followers of John have become, in effect, two nations. The main character is a descendant of Jeff Redlantern. Her name is Starlight Brooking. It’s called Mother of Eden.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dark Eden
Broadway Books, April 1, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family take shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it.

The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark...and discover the truth about their world.

Already remarkably acclaimed in the United Kingdom, Dark Eden is science fiction as literature: part parable, part powerful coming-of-age story, set in a truly original alien world of dark, sinister beauty and rendered in prose that is at once strikingly simple and stunningly inventive.

You may read an excerpt from Dark Eden on Scribd here.

About Chris

CHRIS BECKETT is a university lecturer living in Cambridge, England. His short stories have appeared in such publications as Interzone and Asimov’s Science Fiction and in numerous “year’s best” anthologies. In addition to the Arthur C. Clarke award for Dark Eden, he won the Edge Hill Prize, the UK’s premier award for short story collections, for his collection the Turing Test.


Interview with Donna Glee Williams - April 23, 2014

Please welcome Donna Glee Williams to The Qwillery. The Braided Path was published on March 15th by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

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

Donna Glee:  Thanks, Sally. It’s great to be Qwilled.

Even though I produced my first poem in second grade, I'd have to say that my first real momentum in writing happened in junior high school. There was a group of us misfit-types that were so crazy bored with school that we used our time in class to write elaborate “notes” to each other, assuming alternate, fantasy personalities, heavily flavored heavily by the books we were discovering: Tolkien, Poe, Bradbury—those guys. We got in trouble regularly for not paying attention in class, but nothing stopped us. Plots developed in the “notes,” adventures, even fantasy landscapes that we'd draw out in elaborate maps. (Think Tolkien's geography of Middle Earth.) Fantasy caught fire for me then. Later, after years of being “grown-up” (always a bad idea, btw) and learning my craft doing introspective contemporary realism, I got bored with writing--bored with myself, I guess--went back to the wellspring, and took up fantasy writing again.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Donna Glee:  Pantser all the way. I can’t imagine writing a story that you already know. It would bore me silly. Too much like work. What would be the point? And the most interesting discipline of writing for me is trusting the story-source that’s smarter than my conscious intellect. (The intellect always thinks it knows better. Don’t believe it, at least not about creative issues.)

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

Donna Glee:  What a great question. I guess the biggest challenge for me right now is the whole paycheck thing. How do you build a life where you’ve protected enough idle, dreamy time to really sink into an alternate reality and explore it while simultaneously bringing home the bacon, showing up to work on time in the morning and sharing your brain-space between your day-job and your writing.

And as to where I write, that’s been a bit of a journey. I used to only be able to write when I was away from home—at writers’ retreats, in hotels, on ferries, that kind of place that shelters you from all the routines and demands of your ordinary life. But just in the last year or two I’ve had some progress about that. I find that I’m able now to ignore the dishes and the laundry and the messages on my phone and write, in my own little cabin in the woods. I do all most all of my work where I’m writing this right now: in an ancient armchair, with my feet up and my computer settled on a pillow on my lap.

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

Donna Glee:  Very early, it was Bradbury. I think The Martian Chronicles was the first book that ever gave me a taste of poetry in prose. I didn’t know you could do that, put lush language at the service of Story. Knocked me sockless. Then there was Poe, mostly the poetry, for teaching me about rhythm and atmosphere. Tolkien, of course, not just for language but for Story—maybe my first glimpse into the power of myth. His life overlapped with Jung’s pretty closely in time—Jung lived from 1875 to 1961, Tolkien from 1892 to 1973—and I think they were working with a lot of the same verities, each in his own way. Terry Pratchett, just for fun—except for Small Gods, which rises well beyond just-for-fun status, I think. Neil Gaiman. And the other one, Neal Stephenson, when I want to feel smart. Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake. Sheri S. Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country. Josh Whedon brings me to my knees. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was probably the biggest esthetic experience in my life. Anything Whedon does, says, or thinks is of interest to me. But my dearest influence has to be LeGuin. Ursula K. LeGuin is who I want to be when I grow up, and I want the whole package: the wisdom, the language, and the imagination.

TQ:  Describe The Braided Path in 140 characters or less.

Donna Glee:  Whoa—tough one. Try this:

The world’s a wall & there’s just one path.
Two directions, though, one for each of them:
Cam’s called upward. Fox goes low.
Will the path they walk bring them home again?

TQ:  Tell us something about The Braided Path that is not in the book description.

Donna Glee:  I’ll give you two for the price of one.

First, the book positively oozes with pre-industrial technology. Living in the Appalachians and traveling to places where life is pretty simple, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot of traditional technology: making cord from fibers, spinning on drop spindles, making fire from a fire-bow, and so forth, and I used the details of that experience to help build the world of The Braided Path and make it feel solid and real. (Even though it’s not in the book, I’ll take this moment to brag that I’m one of the few people you’ll ever meet who has actually brain-tanned a deerskin.)

And here’s another piece of randomness: There’s no evil in the book. Not even any human brokenness to speak of. The conflict, danger, and struggle in the book come from other sources. I noticed this while I was writing it and tried to slip in some badness a couple of times, but the story just didn’t want it there. I mean, it’s not like I can’t write evil—wait until you meet the Chief Interpreter in my next book, Dreamers—it’s just that this story wanted to be an exploration of a society that might actually work without deforming its people. Sort of anti-dystopian. Not just “utopian,” meaning “nowhere,” but “eutopian”—“a good-where.” I wonder what people will think of this with grimdark being so fashionable?

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Braided Path?

Donna Glee:  Remember I said that I used to do most of my writing when I was away from home? Well, about seven years ago, I was at this fabulous creative retreat called The Hambidge Center, in the hills of north Georgia. (Writers, check it out!) At Hambidge, each writer, artist, or musician has their own “studio”—a little cabin off in the woods where you live in total solitude except for coming down to the main lodge for stellar vegetarian dinners in the evenings. (And, lemme tell you, people start to look really good to you after the isolation of the long work days. Everybody’s beautiful. Witty. Charming. Seriously.) I was on the long, uphill slog back to my cabin when a “what-if” started nibbling at my brain: What if this slope went on forever?

I’d recently been through a Wilderness First Responder Course, so I knew some of the answers to that question. Temperature would change, for one thing, by about 4 degrees per thousand feet. Atmospheric pressure would change. Humidity would change. And because these basic things would change, the plants and animals would be different at different levels along the path. And because the plants and animals would be different, the human society basing itself on these resources would be different, too, depending how high or low you were. Hmmm… This began to interest me. What would it be like to live where you could easily walk right out of your own ecological community?

So, when I got back to the cabin, I started to write and out of that one “what-if” came my short story “Limits.” (You can read it for free on Strange Horizons or catch the audio version on PodCastle.) Jed Hartman, then at Strange Horizons, helped me put a nice polish on that tale of Cam, a young man who longed to climb high, toward the top of the world, and Fox, a young woman who longed to climb low, down toward the mythical sea at the bottom of all things. “Limits” got some positive attention, showing up on several “Best of the Year” lists and getting an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’s anthology that year. But best of all, the story kept going, as young Cam and Fox followed where their hearts led them. And led me on the merry hunt for the story. I finished it—for the first time—on a Fulbright Fellowship in Hyderabad, India. You may see a little of India in the book when Cam gets to Big River Town.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Braided Path?

Donna Glee:  Most of the research was just my life—being a nurse and Wilderness First Responder, studying with traditional crafters, spending a lot of time on the trail in the mountains. But there was one thing that I’d really never done that became crucial in the book and that was making a cane boat. One of the main character’s deepest heart’s calling is to make boats—even though she is born in a place where that vocation has no possibility because there is no surface water there at all and boats haven’t even been imagined. I thought about trying to go to one of those places that teaches traditional boat building, but really didn’t want to wait to finish the book. So—thank you, YouTube—I was able to find some video of people making things from cane. That was really the only conscious “research” I did.

TQ:  Why did you choose to write a Fantasy novel? Do you want to write in any other genres or sub-genres?

Donna Glee:  I suppose that one answer is that I didn’t really “choose.” I don’t think writers have much conscious choice about what they write. You tell the stories you’re given and are grateful for the gift, in whatever form it comes. But if I did have a choice, I would stick with SF because of the issue of novelty. Our brains are wired to sit up and take notice of the strange and to relax and lie back in the presence of the familiar. It is literally true that you can go to sleep more easily in a familiar environment. Well, as a writer, I don’t want to go to sleep and I don’t want my readers to go to sleep either. Using the magic SF wand, I can make things new and strange, inviting the neurochemistry of alertness and curiosity. That’s where I want to live.

Also, I’m a Jung Junkie. (A Jungkie?) I believe in and respect the power of myth to shape human experience. Speculative fiction gives writers a great big canvas for working with myth without being jostled around by this thing we laughingly refer to as “reality.”

Some of my short stories are science fiction. (You can catch my flash, “Dancing,” on Pseudopod if you’d like to read about an arthropod ballerina having a midlife crisis. Or maybe “Dancing” is horror. I don’t know. I’m a little wobbly on the barriers between one kind of writing and another.)

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

Donna Glee:  Len was easiest. She was my way into the book, I think because she is closest to being my conscious self, an adult woman who thinks she knows pretty much what her life is about. Fox was hardest. I didn’t really get Fox until quite late in writing the book, after several drafts. I owe Fox to some conversations I had with an extraordinarily intuitive friend of mine, the composer and vocalist Lynn Rosser. I already knew about Fox that she’d been stymied by being born into a world where her vocation, boatbuilding, didn’t even exist. But what I didn’t understand, until I talked with Lynn, was how a lot of the load Fox carried came from becoming a mother too early, being left with a child so that she couldn’t follow her heart where it led her.

TQ:  Give us one of your favorite lines from The Braided Path.

Donna Glee:  I guess one of my favorite lines is the four-word line at the end of this passage. It’s near the end of the book, the journeys-end-in-lovers-meeting part:
Standing there by Nish, Len watches Cam’s head sink into
the night as he climbs down after Fox. For her, it’s so simple:
He’s home. Her son is home.

But it’s not simple for Cam and Fox. Len can see that now.
She reaches for Nish’s hand. His fingers settle into the
grooves between hers. The evening breeze flaps their robes.
She brings their clasped hands up where she can see them in
the firelight, see his darker skin interweaving with her lighter
tan. She squeezes his hand. The four slim blue fish tattooed
between his second and third knuckles all swim towards her.

This is what she wants for Cam, for Fox. This. Exactly this.

She can’t give it to them, though. They have to make it

Jade doesn’t wake up when Nish slips her into the lavender
cradle of her hammock. Her grandparents put away the clothing
they don’t need and bathe each other in the big stone basin
under the drape of vine that perfumes the night air with its
yellow blossoms. The water carries away the sand of the
day so that when they come together, skin-to-skin in the big
hammock, there is no grit to chafe them.

This, Len whispers. This.

TQ:  What's next?

Donna Glee:  Well, my second novel is in the hands of the wonderful literary agent Richard Curtis. It’s called Dreamers and happens in a much different landscape than The Braided Path, a desert land where everything revolves around rituals for bringing water up from the deep, both literal water to drink and the metaphorical waters of the unconscious. Unlike The Braided Path, Dreamers has a pretty serious bad guy in it and a dash of daring-do. I’m also working on the discovery draft of my third novel and trying to find a publisher for a little allegorical novella (think Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Little Prince, or “Leaf by Niggle”) about the adventure of going into solitude. I’ll be spending some time as a writer in residence in Norway this summer and scouting the West Highland Way in Scotland for a trail-based fantasy writing workshop I’m cooking up with Sarah McGuire, author of the forthcoming Valiant. If any of your readers would be interested in working on their writing in the literal Celtic landscape, they should contact me through my website ( and I’ll put them on the list to hear about the details when we pull it together.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Donna Glee:  Thank you, Sally. You’ve made this fun with some interesting questions. Let me wish the best to all my fellow writers out there in the salt-mines of The Word and send out my thanks to all my fellow readers who are making the world safe for the weird, interesting, non-cookie-cutter writing by buying it. I’d love to hear your responses on Goodreads or Amazon and I’ll be happy to connect with any book groups or classes reading the book by Skype, face, or text. Read on!

The Braided Path
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, March 15, 2014
Trade Paperback, 224 pages

On the slopes of a vertical land where people’s lives are bounded by how high and low they are able walk on the single path that connects their world, the young widow Len Rope-Maker watches as years go by and her son Cam never finds his limits. Long past the time when other youths in Home Village have found their boundaries, Cam keeps climbing higher and lower, pushing on with his sweetheart Fox who also shows signs of being a Far-Walker. But Cam’s drive to venture far nudges him towards the top of the world, while Fox’s sends her downward, toward the mythical sea at the bottom of all things. Both are true to their own heart’s calling.

Read "Limits" at Strange Horizons here or listen at Podcastle here.

About Donna Glee

Like Cam and Fox in my book, I was born with the Far-Walker’s impulse. I want to see what’s on the other side of things, what’s around the next bend. I want to be there for the next adventure. I don’t want to miss anything on this planet and, if there’s anything to explore out in the land of Phantasie, I don’t want to miss that, either.

I come by the wanderlust honestly. My parents grew up well-rooted but, when hoof-and-mouth disease threatened the continent, they headed for the wilds of post-revolutionary Mexico with about 20,000 other cowboys, veterinarians, secretaries, and livestock appraisers to fight back the danger to North America’s food supply. I was the daughter of people who never saved money; they counted their wealth in stories. Adventure was the order of the day; my family prized the weird in everything from food to language. (Even deep into old age, my father would save up stories and colorful sayings to delight me.)

And I love to take people to new places, too. Physical places, sometimes, like when I invited a few friends to come get lost with me in the bayous north of Lake Ponchartrain. (They were a little put out when we actually did get lost. I guess they just weren’t they listening.) But for the last 19 years or so, it’s often been a new place of ideas or spirit—I’ve made my living as a seminar-leader, planning and leading learning adventures about all kinds of things and ideas that leave people with new horizons in front of them. Places to explore.

Books are places to explore, too—the cheapest form of travel. You can visit lands that never existed: Middle Earth, Earthsea, and The Braided Path’s strange vertical world where a person can walk out of one biome and into another in one day’s travel. You can try on an idea like a pair of pants, to see if you want to buy it. You can snoop without embarrassment into the lives of people you would never want to have dinner with. You can swash that buckle (or buckle that swash?) without risk to life and limb. You can see things in the shimmer of possibility instead of the dust of the real. You can have adventures of the heart and body. Adventures of the mind and spirit.

For me, that’s what it’s all about.

Website  ~  Twitter @williadg1

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview with Roberta Trahan, author of the Dream Stewards series - Giveaway - April 22, 2014

Please welcome Roberta Trahan to The Qwillery. Roberta is the author of the Dream Stewards series. The Keys to the Realms (Dream Stewards 2) is out today. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Roberta a Happy Publication Day.

There will be a virtual release day party on Facebook on April 22nd from 3-9 pm PDT/6 pm-12 am EDT.  Here is the link:

TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. The Keys to the Realms, Dream Stewards 2, is out today. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Well of Tears (2012)? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Roberta:  Thanks so much for inviting me again! This is one of my favorite SFF hangouts of all time. Yeah, my writing process sure has changed since the last book – but I bet that is true of all writers. The more you do the better you get, right? I was really fortunate – my publisher hires top notch editorial support, and I was privileged to get to work with the legendary Betsy Mitchell on both books. I learned a ton about the art of storytelling, and how to streamline my writing process. The most challenging part of that process for me has always been honing in on the heart of a plot – pulling the central story thread out of the big-picture idea. I like to think I’m improving. I sure hope I am.

TQ:  What do you wish you'd known about publishing when The Well of Tears came out that you know now?

Roberta:  Wow. Well, the scary thing is that I actually knew more than most folks going in, and I still got blind-sided. The publishing industry is such a dynamic entity that what any of us knows about it at any given moment is obsolete before we get a chance to act on it. If anything, I wish I’d known how unbelievably difficult it is to get the attention of readers. Without bloggers like you, an author hardly stands a chance of attracting an audience. So, once again, I thank you.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Keys to the Realms that is not in the description.

Roberta:  Hmm. Let me think…*rubs hands together*…something juicy that isn’t spoilery. Ah! In this book, I introduce a secret sect of mage hunters called the Ruagaire Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is also a dying order, as all things magical are fading from the world of man. An important character emerges, however, who will take the lead in the next book in the series. Thorne Edwall is a tortured hero who is haunted by his past, but determined to accept the sacrifices of his calling.

TQ:  In The Dream Stewards series so far which character has surprised you the most? Which character has been the most difficult to write and why?

Roberta:  The character who surprised me the most was an extremely minor player in THE WELL OF TEARS who took on a much bigger role in this book. I never consciously intended for her to come forward as she has, but she was an unstoppable force. I think readers who remember Ariane from Book One will be surprised by her too.

Alwen, the heroine in Book One, has always been the most difficult character in this series to write and continued to challenge me in Book Two. I still don’t know why she confounds me so, but I am resigned to it now.

TQ:  The Dream Stewards series is Fantasy. What appeals to you about this genre? Are there any other genre or sub-genres is which you'd like to write?

Roberta:  What appeals to me about the Fantasy genre? Oh, that’s easy –the world building. No question. There’s just nothing like giving your imagination free rein – the possibilities are endless. I basically get to play out my daydreams – for a living. What could be better?

But I do like to write in other genres – all speculative fiction, of course, for the same reasons. I recently tried my hand at a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller – a novella titled AFTERSHOCK which was released in January by StoryFront (another Amazon Publishing imprint).

TQ:  What's next?

Roberta:  Book Three of The Dream Stewards, of course, and I am also at work on a full length book based on that recently published novella.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Roberta:  It’s always a pleasure to visit The Qwillery. I’d hang out all the time if you’d let me, but then I’d never get any writing done ;).

The Keys to the Realms
The Dream Stewards 2
47North, April 22, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 360 pages

In this sequel to The Well of Tears, the last bastion of magic standing against the dark forces threatening the prophecy of the Ancients has narrowly escaped destruction—wrought by the sorcery of one of its own.

Reeling from loss and betrayal, the Stewardry at Fane Gramarye is in chaos. The young acolyte Glain is called to replace the traitor as Proctor and serve the new Sovereign. It has fallen to Alwen to lead the order and find the remaining Guardians of the Realms and their keys of power. Only then will the king of the prophecy win his throne.

When assassins breach the protective veil surrounding the Fane, an unexpected evil is revealed. The renegade mage Machreth has garnered new allies and his agents might already have infiltrated the ranks of the order. Glain must discover where the treachery lies before Machreth bends destiny to his will, but the truth is shrouded by secrets. Though her visionary powers are strong, there are things Glain can’t foresee. Can she still trust those she calls her friends—or her own heart? For even Glain has something to hide…

The Well of Tears
The Dream Stewards 1
47North, September 18, 2012
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 325 pages

More than five centuries after Camelot, a new king heralded by prophecy has appeared. As one of the last sorceresses of a dying order sworn to protect the new ruler at all costs, Alwen must answer a summons she thought she might never receive.

Bound by oath, Alwen returns to Fane Gramarye, the ancient bastion of magic standing against the rise of evil. For alongside the prophecy of the benevolent king, a darker foretelling envisions the land overrun by a demonic army and cast into ruin.

Alwen has barely set foot in her homeland when she realizes traitors lurk within the Stewardry, threatening to destroy it. To thwart the corruption and preserve her order, Alwen must draw upon power she never knew she possessed and prepare to sacrifice everything she holds dear—even herself. If she fails, the prophecy of peace will be banished, and darkness will rule.

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win an signed print copy of The Keys to the Realms from Roberta! US / Canada / UK / Australia Only

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

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US,  Canadian, UK or Australian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on April 30, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2013 Philip K. Dick Award - Winner

The Philip K. Dick Award  award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. The ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.

The nominees for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award::

The winner was announced on April 18th at Norwescon:

Countdown City
Ben H. Winters
The Last Policeman 2
Quirk Books, July 16, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

The Last Policeman received the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original--along with plenty of glowing reviews.

Now Detective Hank Palace returns in Countdown City, the second volume of the Last Policeman trilogy. There are just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank's days of solving crimes are over...until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.

Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.

Countdown City presents another fascinating mystery set on brink of an apocalypse--and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond "whodunit." What do we as human beings owe to one another? And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around you?