Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2016 BSFA Awards Shortlist

The British Science Fiction Association has announced the shortlist  for the BSFA Awards. The Awards will be presented at Innominate, the 68th Eastercon, which takes place April from 14-17, 2017 in Birmingham, UK.

Best Novel

Best Short Fiction

Best Non-Fiction

Best Artwork

Interview with Keith Rosson, author of The Mercy of the Tide

Please welcome Keith Rosson to The Qwillery as part of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Mercy of the Tide is published on February 21st by Meerkat Press.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Keith a Happy Publication Day!

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

Keith:  Thanks so much! I started out doing punk zines in the mid-‘90s, when I was in art school. Y’know, those who can’t play instruments, write. The zine was dorky anecdotal stuff, record reviews, interviews with bands. Eventually that morphed into more personal creative nonfiction stories. Meanwhile, I wrote my first incredibly bad novel at 20, my second slightly better one at 27 or so, and in my mid-thirties wrote one that was pretty solid and will be published next year. Then I wrote The Mercy of the Tide. I’ve also been kicking out short stories for the past six or seven years or so, which I probably love more than novel writing, though there’s something alluring about the huge emotional brain-drain that writing a full length book takes. And I’ve always been a ferocious reader, something I personally think is integral to being even a half decent writer.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Keith:  That’s a good question. I generally plot a few chapters ahead – and by plot, I mean I have a very rough idea of what’s going to happen. I’ve tried plotting out larger, more extensive chronologies and it’s just no fun; I eventually find myself struggling to adhere to earlier plotlines when what I really want to do is take it in a new direction that I’ve come up with after I’ve already penned the original plot. You know? So yeah, I like to have a general idea of the book’s direction, with maybe a line or two laying out a few future chapters, but that’s about it. I also have a separate doc that I refer to full of locations, names, bios of characters, important plot points and facts, and reminders. For example, in this new novel I’m working on, I have about three dozen bulletpoints that say things like this:
  • In the Sandoval section, the bus station is swamped.
  • Introduce Liza’s miniature pony, Fish.
  • Have Viktor introduce himself at the Hotel, and establish that Orvar is indeed his cousin.
When you work on a bigger piece, there’s a lot of things to keep in the air, a lot of moving parts. I’m constantly referring to my notes. So I guess I’d say I’m mostly a “fly by the seat of my pants” guy, with moments of mild plotting.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Keith:  Writing. Quite the hot take, right? The actual act of getting past the trepidation and uncertainty and distractions and fear of failure and sitting my ass down in front of the computer and getting to work, that’s the most difficult thing. Once I make it there it’s almost always great, and I almost always remember how much fun it is to write. But first I have to move past that nattering voice that tells me I won’t be able to do it, that today will be the day that I freeze up, that this’ll be the day that I will just bomb. I’m writing my fifth novel and have written dozens of stories, and ignoring that voice and getting to work is still the biggest challenge.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Keith:  Reading. One of the most significant tools a writer can have is a joy of reading. It helps us hone our craft, shows us by both good and bad example, offers a sense of solace, transports us – at least to me personally. While I try very hard not to be directly influenced by the current books I’m reading, there’s no refuting that being a voracious reader has helped me find my own voice and themes throughout the years. Honestly, I’m a little wary of writers who aren’t big readers too.

TQDescribe The Mercy of the Tide in 140 characters or less.

Keith:  In 1983, members of a small coastal town recuperate from loss as Cold War tensions rise and some unnamed monster terrorizes the community.

TQTell us something about The Mercy of the Tide that is not found in the book description.

Keith:  The hands on the cover of the book spell out M-E-R-C-Y in American Sign Language, a hidden nod to the fact that one of the main characters is deaf.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Mercy of the Tide? Why a genre-bending novel?

Keith:  Well, without giving key plot points away, I’ll just say that it started out as an entirely different book. It was still an alternate history novel, but the first attempt was set in present day. I kept coming up against particular roadblocks in the story – “How did this particular event actually happen? Why are certain people acting like this?” Long story short, I found that I was backtracking a lot to fill in a lot of foundational stuff surrounding the story I wanted to tell, and a lot of world-building, and it just reached the point where it was obvious I needed to tell the back story first. So I started from the beginning, which turned out to be in 1983. But originally it was a whole different book.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Mercy of the Tide?

Keith:  An incomplete list: nuclear yield of various Cold War-era ICBMs, American Sign Language, Europe’s role in the 1980s stalemate between Russia and the US, educational options for deaf children in rural Oregon during that time, mythology of Native American tribes of the Oregon coast, the Indian Wars of the 1850s, Hinckley’s assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan, to name a few. Fun! I seriously do love the research aspect of novel writing.

TQPlease tell us about The Mercy of the Tide's cover. Does the cover depict something from the novel?

Keith:  It totally does! It’s essentially a grid pattern of various visual elements of the book. A Sheriff’s badge, a gun, a bird, a skull, etc. They’re all indicative of key characters and plot points in the novel. I was fortunate enough to be able to design my own cover, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

TQIn The Mercy of the Tide who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Keith:  I’d say the teenaged kid Sam was the toughest to write. It’s hard to remember the torpor and angst I held as a high school kid, though I know I had a toooon of it. It was tough to try to pull that off convincingly and also run Sam’s character through the lens of someone who has just lost his mother and is trying his best, in spite of his age and limitations, to take care of his sister. Meanwhile, I took a dark pleasure from writing about the mental and physical unraveling of Hayslip, the sheriff’s deputy, though one or two scenes specifically were pretty tough to write, as he’s kind a tumbling shipwreck of a guy who doesn’t make the best choices. Though to be honest none of the book was particularly easy, per se.

TQWhich question about The Mercy of the Tide do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Keith:  I feel pretty happy with the questions that folks have asked about the book. I get a lot of folks asking if there will be a sequel or not, and all I can really do is pensively rub my chin for a moment and then point over the person’s shoulder and say, “Hey, look! A puppy!” And when they turn back… I’m gone. Oh, and I did know a kid named Todd who went by Toad, the same as in the book, though the similarities stop there.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Mercy of the Tide.

Keith:  Honestly, I’m not even sure about apt quotes, but one of my favorite aspects of the book is when people begin to recognize the minute differences of this world compared to ours. The reader isn’t made aware of the differences right away, but there are little kernels lining the path throughout. One of my particular favorites is that Trina, a 9 year-old deaf girl and one of Mercy’s main characters, adores Judy Blume novels. Loves em. But in Mercy, she’s very excited about the new (as of 1983) Blume book that’s just been published, The Wolf In the Basement, which of course is entirely made up and doesn’t actually exist. But the publisher and I wrote Blume a huge fan latter and she was totally cool with me fictionalizing her stuff and making up books she’d never actually written. That’s just one little tidbit among many, but I love it so much.

TQWhat's next?

Keith:  Meerkat Press, the publisher that’s worked their ass off getting Mercy out there, will be publishing my second novel, Smoke City, in early 2018. Really excited for that. Meanwhile, I’m writing a book about a crypto zoologist and his reluctant assistant investigating a unicorn sighting off the coast of Iceland. So, you know, staying topical and whatnot.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Keith:  Oh, goodness, thanks for the opportunity, I really appreciate it.

The Mercy of the Tide
Meerkat Press, February 21, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 294 pages

Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening—a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town’s beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives—leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. At the heart of the story are Sam Finster, a senior in high school mourning the death of his mother, and his sister Trina, a nine-year-old deaf girl who denies her grief by dreaming of a nuclear apocalypse as Cold War tensions rise. Meanwhile, Sheriff Dave Dobbs and officer Nick Hayslip must try to put their own sorrows aside to figure out who, or what, is wreaking havoc on their once-idyllic town.

Keith Rosson paints outside the typical genre lines with his brilliant debut novel. It is a gorgeously written book that merges the sly wonder of magical realism and alternate history with the depth and characterization of literary fiction.

About Keith

Keith Rosson’s fiction has appeared in Redivider, Cream City Review, PANK, The Nervous Breakdown, and more. He is the author of The Best of Intentions: The Avow Anthology, an omnibus collection of his long-running punk fanzine, Avow, as well as an illustrator and graphic designer, with clients that include Green Day, Against Me, the Goo Goo Dolls, and others. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at keithrosson.com.

Twitter @keith_rosson

The Mercy of the Tide - Keith Rosson - Book Excerpt

SFWA Announces 2016 Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury Award Nominees

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has announced the nominees for the 51st Annual Nebula Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book.

The awards will be presented during the annual Nebula Conference, which will run from May 18th-21, 2017.

  • All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
  • The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Ninefox Gambit,Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)

  • Runtime, S.B. Divya (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “The Liar”, John P. Murphy (F&SF)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

  • “The Long Fall Up”, William Ledbetter (F&SF)
  • “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
  • “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories”, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “The Orangery,” Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)

Short Story
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Sabbath Wine”, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Things With Beards”, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door”, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, Alyssa Wong (Tor.com)
  • “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)

  • Arrival, Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/Xenolinguistics
  • Doctor Strange, Directed by Scott Derrickson, Screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Kubo and the Two Strings, Directed by Travis Knight, Screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm/ Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’, Directed by Jonathan Nolan, Written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO
  • Zootopia, Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, Screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

The Nebula Awards recognize the best works of science fiction and fantasy published in the United States as selected by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, membership in which is open to all professional science fiction and fantasy authors. The first Nebula Awards were presented in 1966.

In addition to the Nebula Awards, SFWA will present the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

Please see the full text of the announcement here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The View From Monday - February 20, 2017

Happy Monday and Happy President's Day to those in the US.

There are 5 debuts this week:

The Book of Mirrors by E. O. Chirovici;

Kings of the Wyld (The Band 1) by Nicholas Eames;

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan;

The Mercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson;


Cold Counsel by Chris Sharp.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

And from formerly featured DAC Authors:

The Devourers by Indra Das is out in Trade Paperback;

Enemy (Seven Eyes 3) by Betsy Dornbusch;

The Vagrant and the City (Vagrant Short Story) by Peter Newman;

The Fallen (The Darkest Hand Trilogy 2) by Tarn Richardson;

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic 3) by V. E. Schwab;


Empire's End: Aftermath (Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 3) by Chuck Wendig.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.

Debut novels are highlighted in green. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in blue.

February 20, 2017
Humans, Bow Down (e) James Patterson
Emily Raymond

February 21, 2017
The Book of Mirrors (D) E. O. Chirovici LF
Cassius Ben Counter SF - Space Marine Legends 2
The Devourers (h2tp) Indra Das DF/LF/HistF
Driving Rain Sierra Dean UF - Rain Chaser
Enemy Betsy Dornbusch F - Seven Eyes 3
Kings of the Wyld (D) Nicholas Eames F - The Band
The Book of Etta Meg Elison SF/AP/PA - The Road to Nowhere 2
Dark Promises (h2mm) Christine Feehan PNR - Carpathian 29
Firestorm: Volume 2: A Dragon Romance (e) Donna Grant PNR - Dark Kings
The Keeper of Lost Things (D) Ruth Hogan Fiction
Lady of Silver (e) Shona Husk PNR - Blood & Silver 1
Steal the Lightning Tim Lees UF - Field Ops 3
Through The Gate in the Sea Howard Andrew Jones F - Pathfinder Tales 37
The Great Wall - The Official Movie Novelization Mark Morris F/P
The Bird's Child Sandra Leigh Price Fiction
The Fallen (e) Tarn Richardson DF - The Darkest Hand Trilogy 2
The Mercy of the Tide (D) Keith Rosson AH/MR/LF
A Conjuring of Light V. E. Schwab HistF - Shades of Magic 3
Cold Counsel (D) Chris Sharp F
Interior Darkness: Selected Stories (h2tp) Peter Straub H - Collection
Dark Blood (e) James M. Thompson DF - Elijah Pike Vampire Chronicles 2
Empire's End: Aftermath Chuck Wendig SF/SO - Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 3
Wardens of the Everqueen C L Werner F - The Realmgate Wars 5

February 22, 2017
Losing Heart Among the Tall: A Tor.com Original (e) A. M. Dellamonica F

February 23, 2017
Fierce Gods (e) Col Buchanan F - Heart of the World 4
The Fortunate Fall (ri) Raphael Carter SF
Carnivalesque (e) Neil Jordan LF/F
Science Fiction Criticism: An Anthology of Essential Writings Rob Latham HC/SF
The Vagrant and the City (e) Peter Newman F - Vagrant Short Story
Players of the Game (e) Graeme K. Talboys F - Shadow in the Storm 3

February 24, 2017
Stone Cold Bastards Jake Bible UF

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Ke - Kindly only eBook
mm - Mass Market Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback

AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternate History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
CW - Contemporary Women
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GB - Genre Bender
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghosts
GN - Graphic Novel
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HU - Humor
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legends and Mythology
M - Mystery
Meta - Metaphysical
MR - Magical Realism
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
Psy - Psychological
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
R - Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SH - Superheroes
SO - Steampunk
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy
UFR - Urban Fantasy Romance
Vis - Visionary

Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - February 19, 2017

I'm back! This is my first WIR since last January. Did you miss me? I have been reading debuts and they get full reviews and I have been a bit slow at reading other books. Although I am back now with the books I have read in between debuts. Let's get to it. What did I read?

I received Kelley Armstrong's novella Lost Souls from the publisher via NetGalley a few weeks go. This story is set in the world of the author's Cainsville series with Gabriel on the case to debunk a popular urban legend of a girl in a white dress hitchhiking on a quiet back road. Gabriel is a lawyer and wants to solve the case but his investigator (and love interest?) Olivia is out of town. Determined the solve the mystery Gabriel has to face his past in order to find the clues that leads him to the woman in white.

I haven't read any of the book from the Cainsville series but I still enjoyed this novella. The story was told through POVs from two of series' characters - Gabriel and the supernatural Patrick. Through their inner dialogue we get to learn both about the opposite character but also about the background characters such as Olivia and her boyfriend Ricky. I really enjoyed how the urban legend played out and thought it had just the right amount of creepy....just like a good urban legend. Fans of this series need to check out Lost Souls.

Another book I received from NetGalley was The Turn by Kim Harrison. This is the prequel to The Hollows series and set in the late 60's. Trisk is a woman and dark elf trying to make a name for herself in a male, light elf dominated world. When her genetically modified tomato gets hacked and becomes the carrier for a virus that kills off hundreds of thousand humans Trisk is left on the run in order to save herself, her race and humanity.

I really liked The Hollows series with Rachel, Ivy and the caustically funny fairy Jenks. I am not sure what I was expected with The Turn but I really struggled to finish it. Many of the characters were back as their younger selves but almost unrecognisable. Trent was particularly loathsome. I kept trying to find out if it was the same Trent from the original series as I couldn't believe how horrid he was and wondered how he could actually become Rachel's love interest 30-40 years later. I think that Harrison spent too much time building up the conditions to have the virus released via tomatoes and could have spent more time after the tomato induced apocalypse. For big fans of the Hollows series I wouldn't be in a rush to read this one. If you haven't read any of the series then maybe start with The Turn which will make the other books all that much better.

That is it for me this week. Fingers crossed with more for me to tell you about next week.

Lost Souls
A Cainsville Novella
Subterranean Press, December 15, 2016
       eBook, 192 pages
Subterranean Press,  March 31, 2017
       Hardcover, 192 pages
Cover by Xaviere Daumarie

The disappearing hitchhiker is one of the hoariest urban legends, and no one knows that better than Gabriel Walsh, a lawyer who grew up on folklore and myth. When author of books on the supernatural Patrick brings Gabriel a case of a hitchhiking woman in white who vanished on a country road after accepting a ride from a businessman, Gabriel knows the Cainsville elder is just trying to wheedle into his good graces. But Gabriel is a man in need of a mystery, one that will get him back into someone else’s good graces. His investigator, Olivia Taylor-Jones, has blown town supposedly on a simple vacation. But when she left there was a rift between them and…he misses her.

Gabriel is well aware the only thing Olivia loves more than a good mystery is a weird one, and this hitchhiker case more than fits the bill. As Gabriel digs into the story, he’s forced to face ghosts of his own and admit that the woman in white isn’t the only one who has lost her way.

With Lost Souls, New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong weaves an unmissable novella-length tale connected to her fan-favorite Cainsville series.

The Turn
  The Hollows Begins with Death
Gallery Books, February 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison returns to her beloved Hollows series with The Turn, the official prequel to the series that will introduce you to a whole new side of Rachel Morgan's world as they've never seen it before!

Can science save us when all else fails?

Trisk and her hated rival, Kal, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.

But death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government's new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague rises, giving the paranormal species the choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague-torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved, and Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nintendo's Poochy and Yoshi - 10 Ways to Celebrate National Love Your Pet Day!

National Love Your Pet Day is February 20th and Nintendo's Poochy and Yoshi have some tips for you!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Interview with Arianne 'Tex' Thompson, author of the Children of the Drought Series

Please welcome Arianne 'Tex' Thompson back to The Qwillery!

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your newest novel, Dreams of the Eaten (Children of the Drought 3), was published on December 26, 2016. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote One Night in Sixes (Children of the Drought 1) to Dreams of the Eaten?

Tex:  I’m so glad to be back! And I would really like to tell you that I’ve become a much more stable, productive writer since my first book came out. Unfortunately, here in one handy visual chart was my word-count progress on Dreams of the Eaten. (It was due on October 21st).

As you can see, my process is apparently an exponential growth-curve of procrastination and deadline panic. Remember, kids: the only minute that counts is the last one!

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when One Night in Sixes came out that you know now?

Tex:  You know, I cannot think of a single “overnight success” who has not been writing, publishing, and working in the community for at least a decade. Not even the so-called debut authors. It’s really easy not to realize that when all you see is their giant award-winning bestseller splashed everywhere you look. If I had, I would have stopped comparing myself to them a long time ago, and saved myself a lot of unproductive angst.

TQTell us something about Dreams of the Eaten that is not found in the book description.

Tex:  Y’know, when you’re trying to wrap up a trilogy and make it sound properly epic, all the packaging has to talk up the world-ending cataclysm. You don’t get to say, “by the way, there’s some funny stuff in here too. It isn’t all doom and gloom.” I wish the fantasy market in general was more tolerant of that kind of thing: I feel like we’re at our best (authors, publishers, and readers alike) when we don’t let the genre disappear up itself.

TQWhich character in the Children of the Drought series surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Tex:  This is an odd thing to admit, but my principal female character was the hardest one to write. Whenever I’m out in public, I’m usually operating half a dozen layers of empathy, situational awareness, and self-analysis, and it feels REALLY good to turn off one or two of those to write or roleplay a character, usually male, who doesn’t depend on them to navigate their world. Día is hard for me to write because she has to be even more vigilant and thoughtful than I am: as an outsider, a woman alone, and a visible minority, she has to walk through the world more carefully than I ever have. As it turns out, turning off a couple of your own mind-layers is easy – but adding temporary ones is tricky, intricate business.

TQPlease tell us about your fabulous covers!

Tex:  Oh, what covers they are! That is the work of the brilliant Tomasz Jedruszek, a professional artist from Poland whom Solaris commissioned to paint the covers for this series. I was very happy to be able to ask him for certain images and scenes, and happier still that they did not turn out exactly how I’d pictured them. For example, the town of Sixes is a mishmash of adobe buildings built over an old military fort – but what’s on the cover of One Night in Sixes looks more like a medieval European village.

That juxtaposition of old-world architecture with new-world landscapes and figures is a huge part of the cover’s appeal, I think, and perfectly reflects the idea of a ‘patchwork’ fantasyland. I love it, and am so lucky to have Tomasz’s beautiful work on my books!

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in the Children of the Drought series?

Tex:  Honestly, sticking my sheltered nose into a political anthill was the last thing I wanted to do with my first novels - but I just couldn’t avoid it. The minute I chose to write a historical American setting, considering race and colonialism and identity became a moral mandate: to include people who have been misrepresented or left out, to build the fantasy world in a way that reflects the struggles of the real one, and (most importantly) to give the characters in that world access to the better future that we’re trying to create right now. I am the least-qualified person to judge how successful I’ve been in that effort, but it would have been tremendously irresponsible not to try.

TQWhich question about Dreams of the Eaten do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Tex:  “Tex, did a fan really actually make this incredible handmade doll version of your main character and make you cry when she surprised you with it at your launch party?”

Yes. Her name is MaryLou Condike, and yes. Yes, she did.

TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Dreams of the Eaten.

Tex:  Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Tolkien, it’s that you can’t finish a fantasy trilogy without someone climbing a mountain. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from hiking the Sandias in Albuquerque for research, it’s that that is WAY harder than the hobbits make it look.

Elim had never had much of an opinion about mountains. He could approve of them on principle, in much the same way as he would lend his endorsement to petticoats, libraries, and the moon.

That was before he’d tried to climb one.

Now, he’d decided, mountains were awful – just the most horrible, hateful, unnatural piles of shameless man-eating lies. And about the only thing worse than the rocks – the ones in his shoes, the ones in his path, the ones hanging down overhead waiting to crush him like a lizard under a dropped brick – was the nauseating drop mere inches from his feet, the yawning abyss of scrubby red earth just waiting for him to put a foot wrong, just waiting to receive his broken body like a window-pane whacked by a cross-eyed idiot pigeon.

“Hell,” he swore as he inched past. “I was tired of living anyway.”

TQWhat's next?

Tex:  I don’t get a chance to mention it much, but I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett for all kinds of reasons, especially his Discworld publishing model: one big sandbox with multiple sets of characters, and lots of entry-points into the world and the series. I would like to do something similar: put these characters down for awhile and pick up a new set in some other corner of Droughtworld, for even more rural fantasy adventures. Stay tuned!

TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.

Tex:  Thank you for having me!

One Night in Sixes
Children of the Drought 1
Solaris, July 29, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day. Still, Appaloosa Elim has heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight.

And the daylight is running out. Elim's so-called 'partner' - that lily-white lordling Sil Halfwick – has disappeared inside the old adobe walls, hell-bent on making a name for himself among Sixes' notorious black-market traders. Elim, whose worldly station is written in the bastard browns and whites of his cow-spotted face, doesn't dare show up home without him.

If he ever wants to go home again, he'd better find his missing partner fast. But if he's caught out after dark, Elim risks succumbing to the old and sinister truth in his own flesh - and discovering just how far he'll go to survive the night.

Medicine for the Dead
Children of the Drought 2
Solaris, March 31, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

The story of Appaloosa Elim continues.
Two years ago, the crow-god Marhuk sent his grandson to Sixes.
Two nights ago, a stranger picked up his gun and shot him.
Two hours ago, the funeral party set out for the holy city of Atali'Krah, braving the wastelands to bring home the body of Dulei Marhuk.

Out in the wastes, one more corpse should hardly make a difference. But the blighted landscape has been ravaged by drought, twisted by violence, and warped by magic - and no-one is immune. Vuchak struggles to keep the party safe from monsters, marauders, and his own troubled mind. Weisei is being eaten alive by a strange illness. And fearful, guilt-wracked Elim hopes he's only imagining the sounds coming from Dulei's coffin.

As their supplies dwindle and tensions mount, the desert exacts a terrible price from its pilgrims - one that will be paid with the blood of the living, and the peace of the dead.

Dreams of the Eaten
Children of the Drought 3
Solaris, December 27, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

As the funeral cortege draws near, the crows begin to gather...

The stunning conclusion of this extraordinary trilogy.

After trials by fire and thirst, Appaloosa Elim's quest to bring home the body of the crow prince is finally nearing its end.

But the coffin is missing, the funeral party is hopelessly scattered, and the fishmen are hell-bent on revenge. Worse yet, the pilgrimage has disturbed an ancient power – and the earth is crumbling in its grip.

As the ground shakes and the crows gather, the final reckoning promises to unite the living and the dead in a battle for the land itself. One way or another, blood debts will come due, Elim will face his judgment, and the World That Is will be forever changed.

About Arianne "Tex" Thompson

Arianne "Tex" Thompson is home-grown Texas success story. After earning a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in literature, she channeled her passion for exciting, innovative, and inclusive fiction into the Children of the Drought – an internationally-published epic fantasy Western series from Solaris. Now a professional speaker and writing instructor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex is blazing a trail through conferences, workshops, and fan conventions around the country – as an endlessly energetic, relentlessly enthusiastic one-woman stampede. Find her online at www.TheTexFiles.com and on Twitter as @tex_maam!

Ethereal Fantasy Series ARCLIGHT Collected in Paperback This March

Press Release

Collecting issues #1-4 of Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland’s
8HOUSE story

Fan-favorite comics creators Brandon Graham (KING CITY, PROPHET, ISLAND) and Marian Churchland (FROM UNDER MOUNTAINS, BEAST) will release a trade paperback collection of the first four issues of their dream-like fantasy series ARCLIGHT this March from Image Comics.

Sharp genderqueer knights, blood magic, death gods, astral projection, and a goose: ARCLIGHT has it all. Her mind trapped in a strange alien body, a lady of the blood house hides on the outskirts of her kingdom, until she learns that an alien monster pretending to be her has taken her place.

ARCLIGHT TP (Diamond code: DEC160751, ISBN: 978-1-5343-0097-2) hits comic book stores Wednesday, March 22nd and bookstores Tuesday, March 28th. The final order cutoff deadline for retailers is Monday, February 20th.

ARCLIGHT TP is available for preorder now via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Indigo.

Select praise for ARCLIGHT:

“ARCLIGHT seems to be an attack on the binary—an exploration of conformity and
identity—and those themes carry the material past its shared universe setting. It’s a
slow, more deliberate burn; it’s the kind of book you linger with rather than tear through.” —Multiversity Comics

“In only a few panels, Graham and Churchland suggest an ancient world, rich in its own
customs and history, with a unique flora and fauna as well as its own systems of
governance and magic.” —CBR

“ARCLIGHT is a story of solemn grace that gently pulls you into its story, titillating your imagination, and makes you want more.” —AiPT!

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Skybound and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com

Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn Launch New Fantasy Series In May

Press Release


Powerhouse creative team Jonathan Luna (ALEX + ADA, THE SWORD, Spider-Woman: Origin) and Sarah Vaughn (ALEX + ADA, Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, Ruined) return with the monthly epic fantasy series ETERNAL EMPIRE, coming this May from Image Comics.

The Eternal Empress has waged war against the countries of Saia for over one hundred years, and now her sights are set on the last country left standing. Within the brutal Empire’s workforce, a young woman receives strange visions that give her the courage to escape her fate...or run straight toward it.

“I’m very excited to finally release this series,” said Luna. “Sarah and I have spent the past year immersed in building this story and world. It’s on an epic scale I’ve never attempted before. Ever since my teenage years, I’ve desperately wanted to create a fantasy story. This has been a long time coming.”

“I am passionate about fantasy,” said Vaughn. “It feeds my soul and it’s what I reach for when I need comfort and restoration. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be working with Jonathan again on this book, and to dive into ETERNAL EMPIRE’s world and its characters.”

ETERNAL EMPIRE #1 arrives in comic book stores on Wednesday, May 3rd.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Skybound and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush Fruits

Please welcome Thoraiya Dyer to The Qwillery as part of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Crossroads of Canopy is published on January 31st by Tor Books.

Five Favourite Bush Fruits

by Thoraiya Dyer

If you go for a stroll in an English forest, you might be able to forage for such familiar fruits as plums, raspberries, blackberries and wild strawberries. Ditto for a Malaysian forest, home of mangosteen, pomelo and rambutan. But would you recognise good fruit when you saw it in my backyard? What are the tastiest (IMO) fruits to be found at random while hiking in the Australian bush?

Here are my top five!

(1) Magenta cherry (aka magenta lilli pilli, Syzygium paniculatum). There are many tasty, snack-sized lilli pillies out there, but this one is my favourite. I love the crisp texture, like a nashi pear, and the slight sourness with a hint of turpentine aftertaste. They can get quite big, hovering between grape sized and date sized, not only in wild rainforests but when people who water their plants every day use them for suburban hedging purposes. And they’re so pretty. No hesitation naming magenta cherries as my number one!

(2) Finger lime (Citrus australasica) comes a close second, although if I’m truthful I’ve never seen one in the wild and it seems they’re threatened in their native range due to land clearing. You can find them in most Australian nurseries, however. The plant itself is just wonderful, painfully thorny with tiny, perfect, three-petalled flowers that attract tiny, perfect native bees. And the fruit, full of round vesicles full of lime juice that snooty restaurants have christened vegetarian caviar, are sublime to eat straight off the tree. Or in cheesecake (see recipe below!). Or in salad dressing. Or on smoked salmon and crackers. Etc.

(3) Blue quandong (Elaeocarpus angustifolius) is even more sour than finger lime, and a little bit bitter, but is so satisfying to suck on as you hike through the forest that I’ve foolishly started trying to grow one here in Sydney. These towering hardwoods aren’t really practical for climbing without ropes and harnesses, but flighted birds have usually been squabbling in the branches, knocking down plenty of ripe fruit for both humans and flightless cassowaries to enjoy. Just make sure you wash it so you don’t get rabies-like diseases from flying fox saliva. The luminous blue skin is a structural, light-bending thing which quandong fruit have in common with blue Ulysses butterflies (Papilio ulysses) in a fine example of convergent evolution.

(4) Sandpaper fig (Ficus coronata) is pretty much everywhere up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia. I’ve picked and eaten them straight off wild-growing trees in Cairns, Port Stephens, the Wollemi and, most recently, Palm Beach in Sydney. Sometimes they’ll be dry and hard and nasty. Other times, they’ll be squirming with fly larvae. But occasionally, you’ll get one so syrupy and full of concentrated figgy flavour that it makes all the other attempts worthwhile!

(5) Pine leaf geebung (Persoonia pinifolia). This geebung is from drier climes, one that thrives in the devastation that follows a good bushfire. Eat these straight from the tree, and discover the unique experience of pouring dirty turps in your mouth. However, pick the ripe, fallen fruit up from the forest floor, after a period of good rainfall, and geebung fruit are sweet, refreshing and unique.

And finally, honourable mention…(6) White mangrove (Avicennia marina). I’ve heard that though these fruits are mainly used for medicinal purposes and can be toxic when untreated, there is a way to render them delicious! Sadly, I am not wise in such ways. So the white mangrove fruit must go untasted for now, lest I die before I finish my trilogy. Let this be a reminder not to eat anything that hasn’t been properly identified!

Recipe for Finger Lime Cheesecake:

Crush 100g hazelnuts and 100g chocolate tiny teddies in a mixing bowl. Add about 2 tbsp of melted butter - just enough to make it stick - and press into the bottom of a 20cm diameter cake tin to form the base.

Take your 250g block of not-in-the-fridge cream cheese and beat it in another mixing bowl with 400g melted white chocolate (don't bother about fancy double-bowled chocolate melting, just chop the stuff into a saucepan and heat it on the lowest possible setting until melted). Add 1 cup caster sugar, a 300mL tub of sour cream, and keep beating until the sugar's dissolved.

Squeeze out the insides of a bowl of Australian finger limes. These are the pink variety but they come in yellow, green and red. I’ve used about 1.5 cups of finger lime "caviar" (read: tiny sacks of sweet-sour lime juice)...this is a great workout for your fingers.

Stir the lime pulp into the white chocolate mixture. Add 3 egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between each one. Whip the whites of those 3 eggs in another bowl before folding in gently. Pour this mixture into the tin.

1 hour in a 180C oven did the trick for me, but others have had this set (firm and brown on top) in as little as 35 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Serve with whipped cream.

Crossroads of Canopy
Titan's Forest 1
Tor Books, January 31, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

The highly-anticipated fantasy debut from Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning author Thoraiya Dyer, set in a giant mythical rainforest controlled by living gods

At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to form the great city of Canopy. Thirteen goddesses and gods rule this realm and are continuously reincarnated into human bodies. Canopy’s position in the sun, however, is not without its dark side. The nation’s opulence comes from the labor of slaves, and below its fruitful boughs are two other realms: Understorey and Floor, whose deprived citizens yearn for Canopy’s splendor.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she wishes to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy's slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

“I am majorly impressed with Thoraiya Dyer's Crossroads of Canopy. A unique, gorgeous, and dangerous world, a stubborn female hero, and a writer to watch!”—Tamora Pierce

About Thoraiya Dyer

Photo by Cat Sparks
THORAIYA DYER is an Australian writer whose more than 30 short stories, as well as a novella and short fiction collection published since 2008 have racked up 7 wins from 17 Aurealis and Ditmar Award nominations between them. Her debut fantasy TITAN'S FOREST TRILOGY is published by Tor Books.

Website  ~  Twitter @ThoraiyaDyer