Saturday, April 30, 2016

Artisan's Avenue: Frankie B. Washington

Artisan's Avenue is a place to showcase fantasy, horror, or sci-fi artists and their creations. As you may have guessed, the name pays homage to Artist's Alley and the wildly talented people I've met at various comic cons. I am continuously fascinated and impressed with their creativity and imagination and I hope our readers feel the same.

I would like to welcome illustrator/artist Frankie B. Washington back to The Qwillery.

Tracey MFrankie would you tell our audience a bit about your creative background?

Frankie B. Washington:  Once Upon A Time in the community of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts a youngster (that would be me) was given the gifts of a pencil and the brown shopping bag that mama had brought the groceries home in... And set to the task of illustrating what came to his young mind. My creativity started at a very young age and was influenced by comic books, novels, television and films. I remember that out of all my friends, I tended to get very detailed with our fantasy games. For instance, I had to know how big a dragon was and the shape of its wings in order to add more credibility to its existence. This of course annoyed many of my friends but I felt justified that the dragon would reflect a character that could exist longer - if it was concepted better. This frame of thinking carried me thru middle, high and eventually art school. I believe to truly create a character or scenario you need to devote time to establishing a solid foundation to build your idea upon. It all began with a brown grocery bag and a small pencil.

TMYou've worked for multiple companies as a commercial illustrator, how did you begin accepting commissions for artwork from individuals? And what has been your favorite commission to date?

FBW:  I've been a freelance illustrator for 26 years now, so the idea of accepting commissions started around 26 years ago. I mean the reality is that being self-employed is not an easy job to undertake. Those of us who have survived the shifting waters have learned how to operate our vessel more effectively and remembering that we need to constantly be on the hustle for clients. I will admit that this is the most exciting and addictive part of the career. I really love pitching what I can do and offer to a potential client. Then the wait to see if I've gotten the gig or not. I'm a stern believer of the "One Door Closes ... And Five More Will Open". I live it every single moment of the day. I'm addicted to that sensation.

My favorite commission to date would be this recent Botcon 2016 Chase Card commissioned by Fun Publications :

TMYou've worked in Film, Animation, RPG/Magazine Print, Comics, Editorial, Advertising, Toys, Video games, Trading/Sketch Cards. Do you have a favorite field and if so why?

FBW:  The truth is that I have a love for Advertising because it really shaped me up as an artist in dealing with the commercial aspect of the business. What I mean is that it helped me to see that art is what you make of it and that business has a part to play in the grand scheme. I learned how to produce art at a faster pace, yet not lose quality of the image. My ability to express my ideas and even pitch myself was all because of advertising. So I have a special place for it BUT my REAL passion has always been to work in the comic book industry. Just any way to be able to do sequential art and really challenge my storytelling skills. To develop characters that might be seared into the subconscious of a young person who happens to also have a pencil and brown paper bag in front of them. I'm so happy that I've taken chances and gotten the opportunity to dabble in so many aspects of the art industry.

Star Wars Motif Magazine cover

TMWhat are some of the things that inspire your art?

FBW:  Everything inspires me in some form... or fashion. My girlfriend Jess, is constantly barraged by me creating stories from nothing with her in it. I also include our cat, Shadow and friends as well. This is something that I've always done and it's helped me to create some really cool things. I tend to also read various books and novels, I really can't peg one genre because I'm open to anything. This goes with music as well because each and every sound offers another wonderful inspiration for me.

Nemesis vs Megatsuchi

TMPlease tell us about something that you are currently working on.

FBW:  I'm currently working on the web comic series called Secret Lives Of Villains: I'm also the artist for The Mighty Mascots which is debuting in the anthology called Reckless Chronicles by Reckless Sidekick Productions: I also did a variant cover for Night Of The Fire Beast:

The Secret Lives of Villains #17
May 21, 2015

TMWhat are some of your favorite things you have done?

FBW:  One the greatest things that I'm so blessed to have done and I still go on about was my climbing of Mt. Katahdin in 2003. Reaching the summit was an amazing thing and an analogy of how I truly wanted to live. To at least attempt to climb something that seems impossible and succeeding when you've given your all.

Frankie B. Washington on Mt. Katahdin

TMIs there a cool story you'd like to share about a commission or any of your artwork?

FBW:  There's been a few but I will say that last year's Rhode Island Comic Con pretty much did it for me. I was commissioned by the show to create artwork for the badge passes for the Frank Welker (Megatron) and Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) meet and greet. I didn't know that they also took the artwork, blew it up and made them into con exclusive lenticular posters. I was given some posters and allowed to meet both voice actor legends. I still get the shakes thinking about it. LOL

Frank Welker, Frankie B. Washington, Peter Cullen
at Rhode Island Comic Con

TMWhat's new and exciting for 2016?

FBW:  Surprisingly, I've decided to take off this year from the shows and cons. I might pop up at a few as an attendee but I really needed to recharge my batteries after 2015. I have some artwork in the upcoming issue of Cemetery Dance Magazine. I will have some news about some toy concepts I worked on from SCS Direct - Summer time (fingers crossed). I will most likely be working on some new art for The Mighty Mascots. Definitely more trading cards in the fall... And of course the other projects that pop up at more door unexpectedly. LOL

TMAsk and then answer a question about your work that I haven't asked.

FBW:  Frankie do you ever get asked whether you did all the artwork you posted... Or not? Since there's such a rash of artwork being stolen and used by people.

FBW:  Wow, Great question. When I look at the body of artwork that I've done. There are times that I can't believe I really did all those pieces. I can honestly say that YES - I drew everything from rough sketch to final art. Working as a commercial illustrator, I've had to adapt my style on numerous assignments to fit the needs of the client. I feel this has really helped me immensely because I can't really be placed in one genre of the art industry. I always admired the title of Illustrator because it meant to me that this individual could draw anything and for any client of need be. It was never a question of style but whether the illustrator can rise up to the task set before them and execute the assignment. Which of course makes the client very, very happy.

Frankie's Links

Dorugan Variant Cover
Fire-Beast's 'The Horror from Space'
Here's a link to my Deviant Art Gallery :

PixIv Gallery :

Webpage :

LinkedIn :

Twitter :

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Shadows in Summerland by Adrian Van Young

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

Adrian Van Young

Shadows in Summerland
ChiZine Publications, May 17, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 350 pages

Boston, 1859. A nation on the brink of war.

Confidence men prowl the streets for fresh marks. Mediums swindle the newly bereaved. Into this world of illusion and intrigue comes William Mumler, a manipulating mastermind and criminal jeweler. Mumler hopes to make his fortune by photographing spirits for Boston’s elite. The key to his venture: a shy girl named Hannah who sees and manifests the dead and washes up on Boston’s harbor along with her strange, intense mother, Claudette.

As Mumler and Hannah’s fame grows throughout Boston, everybody wants a piece: Bill Christian, a brothel tough; Algernon Child, a drunken rival; Fanny A. Conant, a sly suffragette; and William Guay, a religious fanatic. These rogues among a host of others, including the great spirit rapper Kate Fox, form powerful bonds with the spirit photographers, one of which will end in murder. Mumler’s first and last mistake: the dead cannot be made to heel.

Roughly based on the real-life story of William H. Mumler, spirit photographer and his clairvoyant wife, Hannah Mumler, Shadows in Summerland immerses the reader in a shifting world of light and shade where nothing is quite what it seems at first glance. A soaring and resplendently Gothic novel spanning three decades, it is as much an homage to the Golden Age ghost stories of Edith Wharton and Henry James as it is a companion to the revisionist historical epics of Peter Carey and Sarah Waters, with a little steampunk all its own.

I have to share the book trailer! I love it!

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Woodwalker by Emily B. Martin

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

Emily B. Martin

Harper Voyager Impulse, May 17, 2016
     eBook, 336 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 14 , 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages

“What on earth would I gain from that?” I asked him. “Risk my own neck by violating my banishment just to leave you? The sentence placed on me if I return is execution. If I’m entering the mountains again, I’d damn well better get something out of it.”

Exiled from the Silverwood and the people she loves, Mae has few illusions about ever returning to her home. But when she comes across three out-of-place strangers in her wanderings, she finds herself contemplating the unthinkable: risking death to help a deposed queen regain her throne.

And if anyone can help Mona Alastaire of Lumen Lake, it is a former Woodwalker—a ranger whose very being is intimately tied to the woods they are sworn to protect. Mae was once one of the best, and despite the potential of every tree limb to become the gibbet she’s hung from, she not only feels a duty to aide Mona and her brothers, but also to walk beneath her beloved trees once more.

A grand quest in the tradition of great epic fantasies, filled with adventure and the sharp wit—and tongue—of a unique hero, Woodwalker is the perfect novel to start your own journey into the realm of magical fiction.

Note that the cover for Woodwalker was also created by the Author! Read about "The Evolution of a Cover" at Emily's blog here.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

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

Kat Howard

Rose and Rot
Saga Press, May 17, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Publishers Weekly Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Novel of Summer 2016

Imogen and her sister Marin escape their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, whether it be art or love in this haunting debut novel from “a remarkable young writer” (Neil Gaiman).

What would you sacrifice for everything you ever dreamed of?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April Winner

The winner of the April 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is The Monster Underneath by Matthew Franks from Samhain Publications with 39% of all votes.

The Monster Underneath
Samhain Publishing, April 5, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 208 pages

Reality can be the difference between a dream and a nightmare…

Max Crawford isn’t a typical prison therapist. He uses his unusual psychic ability to walk with convicts through their dreams, reliving their unspeakable crimes alongside them to show them the error of their ways.

Max always has to be on his toes to keep himself grounded, but the FBI agent waiting for him in his private office immediately puts him on edge. The bureau wants Max to go way outside his comfort zone to enter the dreams of suspected serial killer William Knox.

To get a confession and secure the future of his prison program, Max must gain Knox’s trust by any means necessary—and survive the minefield of secrets waiting inside a murderer’s mind. Secrets that could turn Max’s reality into a living nightmare.

The Results

The April 2016 Covers

Friday, April 29, 2016

Interview with Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Please welcome Thomas Olde Heuvelt to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. HEX was published on April 26th by Tor Books.

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

Thomas:  Thank you. I finished my first short story when I was ten. Before that, I had started about a thousand, but then a buddy would ring the doorbell and ask me out to play soccer or climb roofs or set fire to some boxes (or all three at the same time) and I would forget about the story. But that first finished story was a present to my grandmother’s birthday at Christmas. It was a kind of sci-fi Christmas Carol, featuring me and my sister in Bethlehem in the year 3.000, and we had to save our grandmother from the hospital as she was giving birth to the AntiChrist. It’s been a while, so I can't really judge it on its literary merits.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Thomas:  I'm one of those writers that like to plot a lot. But of course, as you’re writing, your subconscious takes over and comes up with all these little (and sometimes big!) surprises that are way, way better than you could ever have cooked up rationally. So you go with that. And that is a good thing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Thomas:  Mostly, setting time aside to actually do it! The success of HEX has been overwhelming. After it did very well in Holland and Belgium, it has now sold to countries all over the world, and Warner Bros. is developing a pilot for a TV series. It’s all fantastically wonderful, but it took a lot of my time. I worked closely together with the translator on the English version of the book, and then there are events and promo and all sorts of other stuff that comes my way. What works for me is if I lock myself in some place abroad, to be socially secluded for a period of time in order to focus on writing the new book. I have family in northern Thailand and in the Swiss Alps, and they’re kind enough to let me use their houses every now and then, as long as all the nasty little things I cook up happen in the books, not in their house.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Thomas:  Reading as many good books as I can. And then write the best book that I would want to read myself.

TQDescribe HEX in 140 characters or less.

Thomas:  This book will haunt you in your sleep. Guaranteed. Mwuhaha.

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

Thomas:  Although it’s a horror novel and it turns pretty dark, it is actually also a very humorous book. I just love the scene where Griselda Holst, the butcher woman, tries to think of a sacrifice she would like to make for Katherine (the witch), in order to stay on her good side. She has a habit of sacrificing pâté to her, and now has raised the stakes with a pig's head, so she really has to come up with something good this time. Except it needs to fit in a big shopping bag, as she doesn’t want the townsfolk to find out about what she is doing. So she comes up with the idea of a living peacock. Except, she first has to catch a living peacock. And the witch is just staring at her, behind those stitched-up eyes...

TQWhat inspired you to write HEX? What appeals to you about writing Horror?

Thomas:  I wanted to write a story about a witch ever since I was traumatized by Roald Dahl's book The Witches, and the 1990 movie adaptation of it. The moment when Anjelica Huston, the Grand High Witch, takes off her mask... gosh, I was seven years old, and I didn’t trust any women for the next six months. Imagine what my winter was like, with women wearing gloves all the time. I saw witches everywhere. Then I watched The Blair Witch Project when I was fifteen, and of course, the scary part there was that you did not see the witch. Katherine van Wyler, the witch in HEX, has influences of both. Of course she has this horrible, disfigured face because her mouth and eyes are sewn shut... but for exactly the same reason, you never really get to see her. If you can’t see someone's eyes, you'll never know what they are thinking. That makes her so scary.

As for horror in general: it’s just a quirk. As a kid I used to collect model airplanes. You know, the ones you have to glue together from scratch, then paint all the way. It took me days. When it was done, I took a sledgehammer and crushed the plane right through the middle. I burned the edges with matches and used burnt cloth and wrinkled aluminium foil to simulate wreckage. Then I placed my toy ambulances around the crash scene and showed it to my mom. I was, like: Tadaaaa! She wasn’t amused. I guess it proves that I’ve always been drawn to the dark side of things. But at least I never poked the eyes out of my teddy bears.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for HEX?

Thomas:  Mostly stuff about the witch craze in the seventeenth century, about superstitions and about omens. Did you know there is actually an Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions? So cool. Also, I did a lot of research about the Hudson Valley area where the book is set, which has a lot of Dutch history. I am from the Netherlands, and although I’ve visited the area many times and I used to live in Ottawa (I was a uOttawa student!), you still want to make sure you get everything right. But both the translator and the editor lived in the Hudson Valley for years, so they were both of great help.

TQWhy have you chosen to include social issues in HEX?

Thomas:  I thought it was a much more frightening idea if the real evildoers in the book are the townsfolk themselves, not the witch. The novel is a parable about mankind’s depravity and the depths of evil of which we are capable. When things go bad in Black Spring, hidden tensions and human weakness trigger a whole other kind of witch-hunt that boils over into persecution and scapegoating, with shocking consequences. I wanted to show that even today, little truly separates us from the time when we really used to persecute people on the grounds of our primal fears like witchcraft. And we have a lot of primal fears in our society at the moment...

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

Thomas:  I guess it would be the obvious one, once you've read it: So who was it, at the front door? And of course, I'm not gonna tell! Or maybe: Do you really believe people are so messed-up they would react this way? And I'd say: yes, I'm afraid so. As soon as you'll pull the carpet of normality from underneath us, we start to crumble.

TQGive us one of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from HEX.

Thomas:  I love this bit, as it tells so much about these people: "Theo Stackhouse, who had been a garage owner and car mechanic the week before, eagerly accepted the office of town executioner and was summoned to the stables of the councilman's estate on Wednesday night. He practiced first on a leather saddle, to master the art of flogging, and then on a floundering, bound calf, to prepare himself for the reflex of living flesh. That night before he went to bed he took two Advils for the intense aches in his upper arm, but despite the pain, he slept like a baby."

TQWhat's next?

Thomas:  I tremendously look forward to the reception of HEX in all the different countries where it will appear. This has always been a dream of mine and I've been working for years to realize it. Now people in China and Turkey and Canada and France and Serbia and many other countries are suddenly reading my work. In Holland, I've been getting so many messages from readers who told me they had to leave the lights on at night after finishing the book, in order to fall asleep. I wonder if it will have the same effect on people abroad. Also I'm going on tour in some of these countries, starting with a US tour in June and July. That's going to be special.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Thomas:  You're very welcome!

Tor Books, April 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

The English language debut of the bestselling Dutch novel, Hex, from Thomas Olde Heuvelt--a Hugo and World Fantasy award nominated talent to watch

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children's bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town's teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

This chilling novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in mainstream horror and dark fantasy.

About Thomas

Born in 1983, Thomas Olde Heuvelt is the much praised Dutch author of several novels and many stories of the fantastic. BBC Radio called Thomas "One of Europe's foremost talents in fantastic literature." Olde Heuvelt is a multiple winner of the Paul Harland Award for best Dutch Fantasy. His story "The Boy Who Cast No Shadow" received the Honorable Mention in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards.

Website  ~ Twitter @Thomas_Novelist

Guest Blog by Susan Furlong and Review and Giveaway of Rest in Peach

Please welcome Susan Furlong to The Qwillery. Rest in Peach, the 2nd Georgia Peach Mystery, was published on April 5th by Berkley.

Why Every Character Needs a Dirty Little Secret

Ever been haunted by a book character? Someone you just can’t shake even after you turn the last page? They follow you through your daily tasks, popping back into your mind from time to time. They seem almost alive, and you can’t wait to visit them again and join in their next adventure. Those are the type of characters I strive to write in each of my stories. And I do it by creating—and keeping—their secrets.

Secrets? Yes. Lots and lots of secrets. Because I believe it’s our past secrets that define our current day actions. It’s the same for book characters. A character without a compelling backstory, most of which is kept hidden from the reader, will seem about as dynamic as a cold, flat rock.

So before I begin a novel, I take time to write my characters’ past story, including a life-defining event or a juicy secret. A character’s secret can take on any form. It can be horrifying, guilt-driven, or humiliating. But no matter the secret, it must influence my character at a deep and personal level. The best secrets are those that have the power to push people apart or drive them into cohorts, cause family estrangement or derail even the most devoted lovers. Secrets that, once revealed, could cause your protagonist to lose something of importance, whether it be love, respect, community standing, money or power.

For example, I may present a character as a successful lawyer who is well respected in the legal community, but only I know she cheated on her bar exam, or that she worked evenings in a strip bar to pay her college expenses. However, developing her past personal struggles helps me, as the writer, to understand her motivation to take on the cause of an undereducated, poor woman guilty of heinous murder. Or why she may hide evidence that proves that woman’s guilt. Knowing my character’s secret before I begin writing helps me form her story, understand her motivations and make her seem real to my readers.

Will I divulge these gritty details of my character’s past to my readers? Well … eventually. Take my character Nola Harper in my Georgia Peach Mystery series. She left her hometown of Cays Mill, Georgia years ago. Why did she leave in such a hurry and avoid visiting for so long? I’ll drop hints here and there, but only enough to keep readers wanting to know more. After all, there’s nothing more mysterious and intriguing than a well-kept secret. And there is nothing that makes readers feel closer to, more in-tune with, and more concerned about a character than when their deepest secret is finally revealed.

Rest in Peach
Series:  A Georgia Peach Mystery 2
Publisher:  Berkley, April 5, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price: $7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780425278567 (print); 9780698184220 (eBook)

In the refreshing new Georgia Peach Mystery from the author of Peaches and Scream, an upcoming debutante ball turns into the pits when a juicy murder scandalizes a small town.

The annual Peach Cotillion, Cays Mill, Georgia’s biggest event, is fast approaching and Nola Mae Harper is just as excited as the rest of the town—even though she’s busy juggling both the cotillion dinner and the grand opening of her new shop, Peachy Keen. But she never expected that plans for the cotillion would end up in the pits because of the cutthroat competition between local debutantes.

When Vivien Crenshaw, insufferable church organist and despised mother of the town’s spoiled-rotten Peach Queen, is stabbed to death, the police turn to Nola’s friend Ginny as prime suspect. Apparently the two had fought over a one-of-a-kind cotillion gown. As Nola steps in to prove Ginny’s innocence she soon finds herself picking through a bushel of suspects, twice as many motives, and at the mercy of a killer all too keen on killing again.


Jennifer's Review

Rest in Peach is the second installment in Susan Furlong’s Georgia Peach Mystery series. The story is set in Cays Mill, Georgia and follows Nola Mae Harper, a former world aid worker who has recently returned to her hometown to reconnect with her family and help run their magnificent Peach Farm. Nola is in the process of opening a delightful little store front that will feature gifts made and inspired by her family’s delicious peaches. Unfortunately, her work is interrupted when a local woman is murdered in her best friend’s dress shop, and another close friend is the prime suspect in the crime. Nola uses her curiosity and past experience in sleuthing, to help her friend beat a murder charge and stop a killer from striking again.

Nola Mae is still trying to find her feet now that she has faced her demons and returned to the home she once loved. She is aided in this task by devoted family and friends. Her parents are lovely, down to earth characters that any kid would be proud to claim as their own. Nola’s brother and sister, one a lawyer and the other a stay-at-home mom and rising socialite in the small town, are always there whenever Nola has need. Hattie McKenna, Nola’s oldest friend, runs the aforementioned dress shop and is sweet and supportive. Hattie’s brother, hunky carpenter Cade McKenna, is someone that confuses Nola. She has feelings for him but is incredibly insecure about them, especially given Cade’s cool demeanor recently. Ginny Wiggins, a vivacious red head with a quick but short lived temper, runs a local diner with her husband Sam. Ginny’s temper has gotten her into the thick of things when the subject of her public anger is found murdered soon after a heated confrontation over a cotillion gown.

The plot of the novel revolved around the biggest event in the small town, the annual Peach Cotillion, where the local debutantes will make their triumphant entrance into society in a series of events that culminates in an old school cotillion, complete with elaborate white ball gowns for the young ladies. To fuel the plot readers are introduced to the local debs and their moms, one of which will be the victim of a brutal murder. Maggie Jones is the local preacher’s wife, a mousy and timid creature who dotes on her children, young deb Belle and her twin brother Nash. Debra Bearden, a catty local mom, is proud to show off her beautiful daughter Sophie. And Vivien Crenshaw, the murder victim, is just as proud of her daughter, the reigning Peach Queen, Tara, but in a much more offensive way. Vivien is arrogant and rude and makes no friends in the town with her demanding ways and conceit. Each of the women have their own reasons for disliking Vivien, but Ginny, whose sweet daughter Emily has a dispute with Tara and Vivien over a ball gown, is the only resident who had a recent public feud with the victim.

We also get to know more local residents in this installment, with many having appeared in the first book in the series, but also with a few new faces. Francis Simms is the local, beady-eyed reporter who makes herself a nuisance with her pointed accusations and questionable print conclusions. Sherriff Maudy Payne is again in charge of the murder investigation, and resents Nola’s involvement, having tangled with her in the previous book. Maudy has a chip on her shoulder and is not in any way interested in investigating the crime if it takes her in a direction she doesn’t like. Dane Hawkins, aka Hawk, Nola’s old flame is back in town with his dangerous good looks. Dane is a private investigator now temporarily employed as supplemental security by a local congressman and his wife. Congressman Wheeler is a typical southern politician in an election year, and is hoping to boost his voter base by offering his stately old home as the setting for the Peach Cotillion events. The congressman’s wife, Stephanie, is also portrayed as a typical political spouse, being well polished and poised in any situation. Lastly, we meet young and troubled teen, Carla Fini, who has been shipped to Cays Mills to live with relatives after one incident too many in her big city home. Carla plays a surprise role in the denouement of the mystery, but is a strong character before this and one I think could be worth expanding on in subsequent novels in the series.

Rest in Peach is a very good second look into this series. The main characters and townspeople find even more depth and become more like friends in this book. The interpersonal relationships are becoming even more defined and interesting and the town itself starts to play an even stronger role, which I find to be a plus with a cozy mystery series. There is an exciting end to the mystery and the personal subplots that run throughout the story are also nicely concluded. The author includes some peach themed recipes at the end, and there is a snippet from the next book in the series, War and Peach, which I will definitely be looking forward to reading when it is published.


Peaches and Scream
A Georgia Peach Mystery 1
Berkley, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

In the first Georgia Peach Mystery, when murder threatens her family’s orchard, Nola Harper is ready to pick out the killer and preserve the farm’s reputation…

To help run the family peach farm during her parents’ absence, Nola Harper returns to her childhood home of Cays Mill, Georgia, and soon discovers that things back at the farm aren’t exactly peachy. A poor harvest and rising costs are threatening to ruin the Harpers’ livelihood, and small-town gossip is spreading like blight thanks to Nola’s juicy reputation as a wild teenager way back when. But Nola really finds herself in the pits when she stumbles upon a local businessman murdered among the peach trees.

With suspicions and family tensions heating up faster than a cobbler in the oven, this sweet Georgia peach will have to prune through a list of murder suspects—before she too becomes ripe for the killer’s picking…


See Jennifer's Review here.

About Susan

During her writing career, Susan has worked as an academic writer, freelance writer and novelist. Currently she’s busy working on The Georgia Peach Mysteries. (Berkley Prime Crime/July 2015) She also writes under the pen name Lucy Arlington. To learn more about her writing, visit her website at

WebsiteTwitter @foulplayauthor ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Rest in Peach by Susan Furlong from the publisher. US ONLY

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

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on May 10, 2016. 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

2016 Debut Author Challenge - The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay

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

Martin Seay

The Mirror Thief
Melville House, May 10, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages

A globetrotting, time-bending, wildly entertaining literary tour de force in the tradition of Cloud Atlas.

The Mirror Thief is a dazzling combination of a genre-hopping adventure, a fast-paced mystery, and literary verve. Set in three cities in three eras, The Mirror Thief calls to mind David Mitchell and Umberto Eco in its serendipitous mix of entertainment and literary mastery.

The core story is set in Venice in the sixteenth century, when the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world’s most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination — was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing? — the Venetian mirrors were state of the art technology, and subject to industrial espionage by desirous sultans and royals world-wide. But for any of the development team to leave the island was a crime punishable by death. One man, however — a world-weary war hero with nothing to lose — has a scheme he thinks will allow him to outwit the city’s terrifying enforcers of the edict, the ominous Council of Ten …

Meanwhile, in two other iterations of Venice — Venice Beach, California, circa 1958, and the Venice casino in Las Vegas, circa today — two other schemers launch similarly dangerous plans to get away with a secret …
All three stories will weave together into a spell-binding tour-de-force that is impossible to put down — an old-fashioned, stay-up-all-night novel that, in the end, returns the reader to a stunning conclusion in the original Venice … and the bedazzled sense of having read a truly original and thrilling work of literary art.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - The God Wave by Patrick Hemstreet

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

Patrick Hemstreet

The God Wave
The God Wave Trilogy 1
Harper Voyager, May 17, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

A team of neuroscientists uncover amazing new capabilities in the brain that may steer human evolution toward miraculous and deadly frontiers in this spectacular debut work of speculative science fiction—Limitless meets James Rollins—that combines spirituality and science in an inventive, mind-blowing fashion.

For decades, scientists have speculated about the untapped potential of the human brain. Now, neuroscientist Chuck Brenton has made an astonishing breakthrough. He has discovered the key—the crucial combination of practice and conditioning—to access the incredible power dormant in ninety percent of our brains. Applying his methods to test subjects, he has stimulated abilities that elevate brain function to seemingly “godlike” levels.

These extraordinary abilities can transform the world, replacing fear and suffering with tranquility and stability. But in an age of increasing militarization, corporate exploitation, and explosive technological discovery, a group of influential power brokers are determined to control Brenton’s new superbeings for their own manipulative ends—and their motives may be far from peaceful.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Udate: Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning

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

G.S. Denning

Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone
Titan Books, May 17, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. A font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart companion. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Bundle from StoryBundle

This year The Qwillery is one of 10 blogs participating in the 2nd year of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO2). We'll be reading a lot of books to find the one novel that The Qwillery will put forward to be considered by the other SPFBO2 blogs. You can read more about SPFBO2 here.

The 10 novels that last year's blogs chose as their blog's top book are included in the SPFBO Bundle from StoryBundle and I get to give a away a Bundle to one lucky entrant.


Curated by Blair MacGregor

"Ten fine bloggers and blog-sites spent a year considering almost three hundred self-published fantasy books to bring you their ten favorites. It's hard to imagine you won't find some gems among them." — Mark Lawrence

This is a unique bundle, its books chosen not by me, but by reviewers who took part in the first Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off organized by Mark Lawrence. Each reviewer received over twenty-five books and a mission: Choose one. This bundle contains the books those reviewers put at the very top of their list.

The SPFBO Bundle includes some of the coolest indie fantasy around. Crista McHugh's A Soul for Trouble gives you a witch named Trouble, possessed by the god of chaos. William Saraband's Shattered Sands follows a slave girl suddenly empowered by forces older than the desert itself. You'll delve into the more-than-murder mystery of Matthew Colville's Priest, and follow another priest trying to save the world after the gods disappear in Barbara Webb's City of Burning Shadows. And The Weight of A Crown from Tavish Kaeden serves up the deep epic of a recently-united realm on the verge of fracturing.

There is the sharp warrior who knows the value of leaving heroism behind in Under A Colder Sun by Greg James, and the ruined hero who chances into a way to surmount the past in David Benem's What Remains of Heroes. Plague Jack delves deep into a brutal world of conspiracies, consequences, and backlash against a conqueror in Sins of the Sovereignty. Ben Galley smacks a young man into a frontier Wyoming filled with blood magick and secrets in Blood Rush. And Michael McClung's The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble's Braids—the novel scoring highest in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off—races along with a sassy, smart thief who must find an artifact everyone thinks she already has before she's killed for it.

StoryBundle lets you choose your own price, so you decide how much you'd like to support the writers. For $5—or more, if you'd like—you'll receive the basic bundle of five novels in DRM-free ebook format. For the bonus price of at least $15, you'll receive all ten novels. If you choose, a portion of your payment will go toward supporting different charities such as Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now. Over the years, StoryBundle and its participating writers have donated thousands to support awesome charities doing great work.

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Bundle is available for only three weeks, so now is the time to pick up this unique collection of reviewer-beloved fantasy novels, and discover new independent writers who want to take you on thrilling adventures through worlds you've never seen with characters you want to know (even if a few of them are rather terrifying). – Blair MacGregor

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you feel generous), you'll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format worldwide:
  • Shattered Sands by W. G. Saraband
  • The Weight of a Crown by Tavish Kaeden
  • Priest by Matthew Colville
  • What Remains of Heroes by David Benem
  • A Soul for Trouble by Crista McHugh
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more:
  • Sins of a Sovereignty by Plague Jack
  • The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids by Michael McClung
  • Under a Colder Sun by Greg James
  • Bloodrush by Ben Galley
  • City of Burning Shadows by Barbara J. Webb
The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that's fine! You'll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you'll get the bonus books!
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for and

For more information, visit our website at, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

About Blair

Blair writes fantasy—adventurous, epic, and dark. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise, chairs SFWA's Self-Publishing Committee, and runs a Patreon for self-defense and fight scene writing. When not writing, she hangs out with family, camps alone, trains in Okinawan karate, and speaks to groups on resilience and wellness. She loves traveling to places both wild and domesticated.

The Books

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Bundle from the StoryBundle. Winner will be provided with a code to redeem to download the Bundle.

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 an emailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on May 1, 2016. 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

Interview with Rod Duncan

Please welcome Rod Duncan to The Qwillery. Rod's most recent novel is The Custodian Marvels, the 3rd book in The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series, from Angry Robot Books.

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Rod:  The most challenging thing is keeping the outline of a whole series of novels in my head.

Yes, I create plans of each novel. Lots of them. And each of them turns out different. When it comes down to it, a plan of a novel is only good for helping me to write the next chapter. Once the chapter is written, I have usually made discoveries that will change my ideas about where the book going.

TQDescribe The Custodian of Marvels in 140 characters or less.

Rod:  A heist & a date with destiny. It’s where the small adventures of Elizabeth Barnabus meet the big story of the fall of the Gas-Lit Empire.

TQTell us something about The Custodian of Marvels that is not found in the book description.

It is a story of circus folk and high politics.

It is also a story of horrifying secrets and terrifying locks. One secret is hidden in the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook. Another is hidden in a vault below the International Patent Court. One lock is the hammer that fires a gun, another is the mechanism that holds a mighty door closed.

I could tell you more, but it’s a secret.

TQThe Custodian of Marvels is the third novel of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire. What are your feelings on concluding the series?

Rod:  It is the end. But it’s not the end. Like so many things in the life of Elizabeth Barnabus, this is a paradox.

I can tell you that I have started to write the next book in this alternate history. But I don’t want to say more than that, because it might spoil things for readers of the series. When you get to the end of the Custodian of Marvels, I hope these vague comments will make more sense to you!

TQThe Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series is Alternate History with a late Victorian setting. What appeals to you about writing Alternate History and AH set in the Victorian era?

Rod:  Alternate history has always appealed to me because it gives us the chance to ask “what if”? What if the Luddites had overthrown the government? What if technology had developed in a different way?

I own a small mechanical calculator. It is a marvellous piece of engineering and design, containing many hundreds of moving parts. It would have cost a huge amount of money when new. But this one was thrown away because it had been superseded by the newly invented four-function electronic calculator.

I doubt that anyone could make such a mechanical calculator today. It was the pinnacle of the technology. But what might have been developed in the world of mechanical calculation if the electronic calculator had not been invented quite so soon? Alternate history explores questions like that.

As for the Victorianesque setting – I’m not sure why I like it so much. I certainly wouldn’t like to be living in that era. But there is something about the aesthetic that appeals.

TQIn The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rod:  I’m not sure which was the easiest character to write. But I will say that I particularly enjoyed writing Fabulo. I had a very clear understanding of who he was when I wrote the Bullet Catcher’s Daughter. But in that story he was always overshadowed by Harry Timpson. In the Custodian of Marvels he has a bigger part to play. Readers will get to understand him far better. It is a great pleasure to be able to share him in this way.

As for the hardest character to write – that was Elizabeth Barnabus. Of course, I know her best of all. I had no difficulty in knowing what she would feel or think or how she would behave. But for a couple of chapters in this story she is “not herself”. That is to say, she goes to a very dark place. My problem was working out how to convey that journey through her own voice.

TQWhy have you chosen to include social issues in The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series?

Rod:  Drama comes from conflict. Conflict often comes from inequality. And inequality lies at the heart of most social issues. Or, to put it another way, comfortable people aren’t so interesting to write about.

Most of the characters in these books are marginalised in one way or another. Fabulo is a dwarf. Tinker is a runaway from an abusive father. Elizabeth was born in a travelling show. It is because of these differences, and others that I can’t reveal here, that they go on to do extraordinary things.

TQWhich question about The Custodian of Marvels or The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Rod:  I think you’re asking me to do your job for you!

Q: “Can we make it into a series of movies?”

A: “Perhaps.”

TQWhat's next?

Rod:  As I said, I’m writing the next book set in this alternate history. I don’t want to reveal too much of that, because it might count as a spoiler. But I will tell you that in the last month, I have been researching the Louisiana Purchase, the sound of wooden beams moving against each other and various effects of the Labrador Current. Make of that what you will.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rod:  Thank you. I always enjoy Qwillery questions.

The Custodian of Marvels
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 3
Angry Robot Books, February 2, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Angry Robot Books, February 11, 2016 (UK Print)
Cover Art by Will Staehle

You’d have to be mad to steal from the feared International Patent Office. But that’s what Elizabeth Barnabus is about to try. A one-time enemy from the circus has persuaded her to attempt a heist that will be the ultimate conjuring trick.

Hidden in the vaults of the Patent Court in London lie secrets that could shake the very pillars of the Gas-Lit Empire. All that stands in Elizabeth’s way are the agents of the Patent Office, a Duke’s private army and the mysterious Custodian of Marvels.

Rod Duncan returns with the climactic volume of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, the breathtaking alternate history series that began with the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter.

File Under: Fantasy [ Time Runs Out | The Duke’s Enemy | Open the Vault | A Union ]

See Melanie's Review here.


The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 1
Angry Robot Books, August 26, 2014
    Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Angry Robot Books, September 4, 2014 (UK Print)
Cover Art by Will Staehle

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

File Under: Fantasy

See Melanie's Review here.

Unseemly Science
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire 2
Angry Robot Books, May 5, 2015
    Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
May 7, 2015 (UK Print)
Cover Art by Will Staehle

In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the brutal hanging of someone very close to her, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…

File Under: Fantasy

See Melanie's Review here.

About Rod

Rod Duncan is a published crime writer. His first novel Backlash was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, and he has since written three other novels (all Simon & Schuster UK), and had his first screenplay produced.

His background is in scientific research and computing, and he lives in Leicester.

You can find Rod online at and follow him @RodDuncan on Twitter.