Sunday, March 31, 2013

Giveaway - Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn 1) by Dana Cameron - March 31, 2013

I recently reviewed Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn 1) by Dana Cameron. I summed up my review by writing: "Seven Kinds of Hell is all sorts of thrillery mythological terrificness in a lovely Urban Fantasy wrapper.  I'm putting Dana Cameron's Fangborn novels on my must buy list." 

You may enter to win one of 15 digital copies of Seven Kinds of Hell from 47North by filling in the Rafflecopter below.  US ONLY - Kindle or PDF format.

Seven Kinds of Hell
Author:  Dana Cameron
Series:  Fangborn
Publisher:  47North, March 12, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 374 pages
Price:  $14.95 (print)
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN:  9781611097955 (print)

Archaeologist Zoe Miller has been running from a haunting secret her whole life. But when her cousin is abducted by a vicious Russian kidnapper, Zoe is left with only one option: to reveal herself.

Unknown to even her closest friends, Zoe is not entirely human. She’s a werewolf and a daughter of the “Fangborn,” a secretive race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles embroiled in an ancient war against evil.

To rescue her cousin, Zoe will be forced to renew family ties and pit her own supernatural abilities against the dark and nefarious foe. The hunt brings Zoe to the edge of her limits, and with the fate of humanity and the Fangborn in the balance, life will be decided by an artifact of world-ending power.

The Giveaway

What:  15 digital copies (15 winners of 1 copy each) of  Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn 1) by Dana Cameron - Kindle or PDF Format - US ONLY.

How:   Log into and fill out the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans in the US. Contest ends at 12:00 am US Eastern Time on April 10, 2013. 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.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Interview with Claire Ashgrove, author of The Curse of the Templars - Part 2 - March 30, 2013

Please welcome back Claire Ashgrove. Claire and I were 'chatting' on March 14th when we were interrupted by Merrick du Loire, one of the Templar knights.  In the interim Immortal Trust (The Curse of the Templars 3) was published on March 26th.

TQ:  Welcome back. I hope that whatever Merrick was upset about was nothing too serious!

Claire:  Well, yes and no, but it’s nothing I can relate right now. Something to do with Tane and a reassignment.

TQ:  How do you pick the names for the Templars in the series?

Claire:  Oooh! I just explained this in the Templar Discussion Group during my release day party.
Merrick du Loire: du Loire comes from the Loire valley of France, and Merrick's father really did, in history, spend time locked in Chinon.

Farran de Clare: Clare, England still exists, and did see Saxon/Norman strife, per Farran's history.

Lucan of Seacourt: Seacourt is a deserted medieval village in Oxfordshire, which first made record in 955.

Caradoc of Asterleigh: Asterleigh is also a deserted village in Oxfordshire, later known as/cominbed with Kiddington, which fairly recently was just auctioned off.

Tane du Breuil: The de Brueil name is first found in the diocese of Nevers (Fr.) and belonged to a very distinguished family.

Declan MacNeill: Is a Scot, with a really old family name, who has no linking history with the particular area/region of my little world. But the surname was exceedingly common during the era, and was found in some Templar documentation I discovered.
And if you’d like to join the group:

TQ:  The Curse of the Templars is now up to 3 books and 1 eNovella, what is the most difficult thing about writing a series?

Claire:  I’m a plotter, so when it comes to the actual writing of the series, it goes pretty smoothly for me, with few hitches in the get-along. But that planning phase can be a real witch. Sometimes I know there are things I want to happen later on, but layering what’s necessary first can get really complicated. I have to figure out not only where, but how much to drop in. Where do the hints come in, where do the reveals fall. For instance, a side-project I’m working on the planning went really smoothly for the first three objectives, but the critical fourth became so complicated that suddenly, what was supposed to be a 4-6 book series blew into ten, just to incorporate all the necessary elements for that final resolution. Two days of planning blew into a week, and a lot of backing up, scratching out, reconstructing, and so forth.

TQ:  Which character in The Curse of the Templars series has surprised you the most?

Claire:  Frankly, Lucan. In Immortal Hope he was introduced as the gentleman, which really left me sort-of cringing when it came to having to flesh out his personality and put him in a full-length title. But thankfully (perhaps luckily) once I spent some time really thinking about how he was going to work out with Chloe (one of the rare situations where I knew the heroine better than the hero), he ended up being a delightful surprise. Patience, subtle alpha aggression as opposed to in your face, dedication. And a tender side that really captured my imagination and made writing Immortal Trust a wonderful experience. Trite as that may sound.

TQ:  What's next?

ClaireImmortal Sacrifice is next! All I am saying ;)

Meanwhile though, I have some other things going on while you’re waiting on the next Templar installment. I’ve made a hard decision to take the above-mentioned side project completely indie, under a completely new name. I’ll be sharing those details on Facebook as I move closer to fleshing out a concrete plan and hope my readers will embrace that project too! I also have some Tori St. Claire goodness coming very soon too! And THAT I am really, really excited about.

TQ:  I'm glad that we made it through without further interruptions from Merrick! Thank you for joining us again!

Claire:  Thank you so much for having me and for all your support on this series! Those knights can be really demanding about having things their way, as you know. But I have to confess, I don’t particularly mind, given how amazing it is to be included in their secrets!

About The Curse of the Templars

Immortal Trust
The Curse of the Templars 3
Tor Books, March 26, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

When archaeologist Chloe Broussard accepts the contract to lead a dig in Ornes, France, she has no idea she will uncover the Veil of Veronica. When she does, she discovers a danger far greater than the demonic presence stalking her at night. Azazel wants her, as well as the Veronica, and his chosen minion is her brother. Her hope lies with immortal Templar Knight Lucan. Her life depends on oaths she knows nothing about.

For countless centuries, Lucan of Seacourt has lived with the knowledge that his brother killed their family. Now, as Azazel’s darkness eats away at his soul, old betrayal stirs suspicion. He trusts no one. Not even the seraph who can heal his dying spirit.

With the fate of the Almighty hanging in the balance, Lucan must find faith in something more terrifying than the dark lord’s creations. He must learn to believe his heart.

Immortal Protector
The Curse of the Templars 2.5
Tor Books, March 13, 2013
eBook, 132 pages

After the brutal murder of his seraph, Iain Donnelly's salvation is eternally lost. Damned to become a dark knight of Azazel, he can no longer embrace his immortal purpose as a Templar Knight. When the archangels send him on Sabbatical to find his faith once more, his quest leads him straight into the forbidden arms of a Benedictine Sister, whom Azazel is threatening. But this woman arouses far more than his protective instincts. He wants her as he's wanted no other woman, and he's willing to provoke the archangels’ fury to keep her safe.

Catherine Grady has devoted herself to the fellowship of faith and forged a path of eternal dedication to a higher calling. But when a traffic accident forces her to accept Iain's aid, she discovers that her chosen path is not what her heart craves. Iain awakens a buried yearning to be needed and loved in a way her broken childhood denied her. As she struggles to reconcile her desires, she stumbles into the truth about her heritage, ancient secrets, and unholy danger. Iain's immortality is all that can protect her.

For Iain, it's an impossible choice. The archangels have decreed if he walks away from the Templar, they will reclaim his soul. Yet returning to the Order only guarantees his inevitable death…

Immortal Surrender
The Curse of the Templars 2
Tor Books, September 25, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.

Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.

As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.

Immortal Hope
The Curse of the Templars 1
Tor Books, January 3, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Centuries ago, Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll that revealed the locations of the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they now roam the earth, protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation—the return of the seraphs.

Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul, releasing him from the clutches of their enemy. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers that she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As Merrick struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold.

Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache that he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she is destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.

About Claire

Claire Ashgrove has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before deciding to leap into the professional world. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction's Stakes, sold to The Wild Rose Press in 2008, where she continues to write steamy, sexy stories for the Champagne and Black Rose lines. Adding to these critically acclaimed romances, Claire’s paranormal romance series, The Curse of the Templars debuted with Tor in January 2012. For those who prefer the more erotic side of romance, she also writes for Berkley Heat as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire.

She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, and her local RWA chapters, Heartland Romance Authors, Midwest Romance Writers, and North Texas Romance Writers of America.

Claire lives in Missouri with her two sons, and too-many horses, cats, and dogs. In her “free” time, she enjoys cooking, winning at Rummy, studying Ancient Civilizations, and spending quiet moments with her family, including the critters. She credits her success to her family's constant support and endless patience.

To learn more about Claire, visit her on the web at, or You can also connect with her via Facebook, and Twitter.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Interview with Chandler Klang Smith, author of Goldenland Past Dark - March 29, 2013

Please welcome Chandler Klang Smith to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Goldenland Past Dark was published earlier this month by Chizine Publications.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Chandler:  Thanks so much for having me!

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Chandler:  I've been making up stories almost as long as I can remember; as a child, I remember spending hours lying in bed at night constructing epic adventures in my mind, trying to make them play across my shut eyelids like a movie. I got serious about writing these down around sixth grade, when I started making my first attempts at "novels" -- ranging from a historical romance set in the Middle Ages (I vividly remember a swordfight on top of a half-built cathedral) to a pretentious road novel about middle-schoolers who steal a car and take off across the country, talking philosophy en route.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Chandler:  Hmm -- although the subject matter in my work is often quirky in the extreme, I'm not sure there's anything quirky about my process per se. When writing longhand, I do always use a spiral bound notebook and a blue Pilot roller ball pen. (I ordinarily write in longhand before typing it up, then go on to do revisions and additions on the computer.)

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Chandler:  A bit of both. At the beginning of working on a novel, I write a 6-8 page document mapping out the overall direction of the book in broad terms, and I use this as a guide moving forward -- it usually takes me in the general direction I want to go. But as soon as I start putting words on paper, new questions and problems and images invariably present themselves. It's important to listen to what the book is trying to tell me, since in my opinion, the richest material is usually the stuff that starts bubbling up from the subconscious.

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

Chandler:  I work very slowly, and the hardest part for me is always getting started, whether it's with a project or even just a scene or chapter. As Donald Barthelme writes in his brilliant short story The Dolt, "Endings are elusive, middles are nowhere to be found, but worst of all is to begin, to begin, to begin."

TQ:  Describe Goldenland Past Dark in 140 characters or less. /like a tweet/

Chandler:  Hunchbacked clown runs away to join the circus; after heartbreak & murder, he runs away from the circus into the darkness of his fantasies.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Goldenland Past Dark?

Chandler:  Hmm -- a lot of factors! I love circuses; they're misfit families, composed of people who often have little in common except for their status as outsiders, so getting to explore the dynamics of such an odd group kept my imagination fueled. But the very first image that I ever came up with from the world of this story related to Webern's sisters, Willow and Billow, who don't appear in the present action till the very end of the novel. There's a curious symmetry to that, which I like.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Goldenland Past Dark?

Chandler:  Basically, I let my curiosity be my guide. I read a bunch of terrific books, both fiction (I highly recommend Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus for anyone looking for another big top-related read) and nonfiction (Joe Nickell's Secrets of the Sideshow might be the most entertaining). And a former professor of mine, Edward Hoagland, actually traveled with the circus in the early 1950's, tending to the big cats, so I was lucky enough to read his book Cat Man and hear first-hand accounts of his adventures. But I also watched a ton of films, including Tod Browning's Freaks, Marcel Carne's Children of Paradise, Charlie Chaplin's The Circus, and Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (where my novel's epigraph comes from), for inspiration. And I checked out as many live circus and clown shows as I could, including Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey, the New York Goofs, Cirque de Soleil, the Coney Island Sideshow, and Circus Contraption (an extraordinary performance troupe from Seattle, whose lyrics I quote in a late chapter of the book).

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

Chandler:  The easiest was the protagonist, Webern Bell, probably because I wrote a bunch of short stories about his childhood (a few of which you can read on my website here) before beginning this novel, so I knew exactly where he was coming from. I guess the hardest was Mars Boulder, the menacing figure pursuing Dr. Show the ringmaster during the first half of the book. It took me awhile before I figured out what his motivation was.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Goldenland Past Dark?

Chandler:  I really like the clowning dream sequences; it was a goal of mine to convey visual imagery in crystal clear prose, and I feel like I occasionally achieve that in those sections.

TQ:  What's next?

Chandler:  I'm working on another novel about a futuristic, parallel universe New York City under constant attack by dragons. You can read a short excerpt from it here.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chandler:  It was my pleasure.

About Goldenland Past Dark

Goldenland Past Dark
ChiZine Publications, March 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages

A hostile stranger is hunting Dr. Show’s ramshackle travelling circus across 1960s America. His target: the ringmaster himself. Struggling to elude the menace, Dr. Show scraps his ambitious itinerary; ticket sales plummet, and nothing but disaster looms. The troupe’s unravelling hopes fall on their latest and most promising recruit, Webern Bell, a sixteen-year- old hunchbacked midget devoted obsessively to perfecting the surreal clown performances that come to him in his dreams. But as they travel through a landscape of abandoned amusement parks and rural ghost towns, Webern’s bizarre past starts to pursue him, as well.

Along the way, we meet Nepenthe, the seductive Lizard Girl; Brunhilde, a shell-shocked bearded lady; Marzipan, a world-weary chimp; a cabal of drunken, backstabbing clowns; Webern’s uncanny sisters, witchy dogcatchers who speak only in rhymes; and his childhood friend, Wags, who may or may not be imaginary, and whose motives are far more sinister than they seem.

About Chandler
(bio from Author's website)

Chandler Klang Smith grew up in Springfield, Illinois, before dropping out of high school early and running away to join the circus – or rather, the most circus-like educational environment she could find, namely, Bennington College. After four years of costume parties, lonely mountains, brilliant professors, passionate 3 a.m. aesthetic arguments, and dark nights of the soul, she graduated in 2005 with a concentration in literature and philosophy and journeyed on to the MFA Creative Writing Program at Columbia University, from which she graduated in 2007. At Columbia, she began the project that would develop into Goldenland Past Dark and discovered the joys and terrors of a city grown large beyond all reason, a mutant place nourished by history and money and the redemptive elixir of art.

In New York City, she has enmeshed herself variously in the great machine of publishing: as the ghostwriter of two young adult novels for Alloy Entertainment Group, as a reader for the Paris Review, as an assistant/associate agent for a boutique literary agency, and currently, as the Events Coordinator for the KGB Bar. She still loves books.

Website ~ Goldenland Past Dark FB Page

Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - March 28, 2013

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the 2 newest featured authors for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.

Mur Lafferty

The Shambling Guide to New York City
Series:  The Shambling Guides
Publisher: Orbit Books, May 28, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $15.00 (print)
ISBN: 9780316221177  (print)

A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city - for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can't take off her resume --- human.

Not to be put off by anything -- especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker -- Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble -- with Zoe right in the middle.

Anthony Ryan

Blood Song
Series: Raven's Shadow
Publisher: Ace Hardcover, July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages
Price:  $27.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425267691 (print)
US Debut

From “a new master storyteller” comes the beginning of an epic fantasy saga of blood, honor, and destiny…

“The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Interview with Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Little Italy - March 27, 2013

Please welcome Suzanne Palmieri to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Witch of Little Italy was published on March 26, 2013.  You may read Suzanne's Guest Blog - Finding Magic....  - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Suzanne:  Thank you for having me!

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Suzanne:  When I was little I wrote all the time. Then... life happened. I began writing in earnest in 2008. I just sat down one day and began to type.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Suzanne:  I use all caps a lot. And I like staccato sentences. But mostly? I can't do what other writers do... eat certain foods or wear certain clothes. When I'm writing? I'm writing until my fingers cramp up. Literally. Curl up.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Suzanne:  PANTSER. Sometimes I don't even know where the story is going and then a character says something and I'm like "OH!" But: Note: When I revise? I am fixing the plot. Filling the holes. So I guess I plot when I revise.

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

Suzanne:  TIME! And insecurity. And a feeling of being lost in a vast ocean with all the other wonderful books out there. How to make your own novel shine? Should it? It's a terrible, wonderful feeling.

TQ:  Describe The Witch of Little Italy in 140 characters or less.

Suzanne:  A young woman in trouble moves in with three magical old ladies, unearthing 50 year old secrets that will heal or shatter their family.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Witch of Little Italy?

Suzanne:  Being lost. Wanting to find what Elly found. Summers at the beach. My own great Aunts. Living in the Bronx. Also? A newspaper story, years and years ago about two spinster ladies who died, and what did they find in the house? Yeah. THAT'S A SPOILER. So I can't tell you!

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Witch of Little Italy?

Suzanne:  I had to do some research on Far Rockaway and the amazing vacation destination that it once was. It's gone now. The historic buildings and boardwalks. The amusement parks. Also, a little history about WWII, because part of the book, the "Back Flashes" happen during that time. But I'm a history teacher by day... so that makes it easier.

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

Suzanne:  Eleanor was the HARDEST character for me. We fought constantly. She woke me up at night telling me things. I'm still not sure if I explored her the way I should have. Or could... if I were to write the book now. I've learned so much since I finished that book.

Mama, Margaret Green, was the easiest. Because I loved her. And she loved me.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Witch of Little Italy?

Suzanne:  I love the scene when my three old ladies come back from church through the garden gate and find Elly without shoes on, in the snow. I LOVE the scene when Elly and Liz visit the graveyard. I adore the whole part of the novel that involves "Fairview" (Where Mama's people came from)

TQ:  What's next?

Suzanne:  Due out in 2014 from Saint Martin's Press/Griffin is THE WITCH OF MAGNOLIA CREEK, a southern gothic, magical, murder mystery. It is a stand alone novel, but readers who enjoyed THE WITCH OF LITTLE ITALY will enjoy the subtle connections and recurring characters. I am very proud of that novel. It was hard work. But I felt... like an author when I finished it.

ALSO: I write under a pen name: Suzanne Hayes: The Novel "I'LL BE SEEING YOU" Mira Books, that I co-authored with Loretta Nyhan will be in stores MAY 28th! (Back to back book releases from two publishing houses is an experience, let me tell you!)

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Suzanne:  Thank you for having me!

About The Witch of Little Italy

The Witch of Little Italy
St. Martin's Griffin, March 26, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her. She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there. With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. Aided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery over fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.

You may read an excerpt from The Witch of Little Italy at the Macmillan site here.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Palmieri (AKA Suzanne Hayes) is an author, a teacher, and the mother of three little witches.

Her debut novel THE WITCH OF LITTLE ITALY will be published by Saint Martin's/Griffin on March 26, 2013, and has sold internationally. Her co-authored novel, I'LL BE SEEING YOU (written as Suzanne Hayes) will be published by Mira books on May 28, 2013, and has also sold internationally.

She lives by the ocean in Connecticut with her husband and three darling witches. Suzanne is represented by Anne Bohner of Pen and Ink Literary.

Website  :  Facebook  :  Twitter -  @thelostwitch

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Interview with Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century - March 26, 2013

Please welcome Peter Higgins to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  Wolfhound Century is out today! Happy Publication Day to Peter.  You may read Peter's Guest Blog - Russian-ness - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Peter:  Thank you for having me! It’s fantastic to be here.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Peter:  I was a slow starter. I was always a reader though. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t surrounded by books. All kinds of books. Anything I could find. Thrillers, fantasy, SF, Victorian novels, the Greek and Roman classics, folktales, comic books, history, biography, science. Absolutely everything. I’ve never felt anything was off limits. It’s all part of one big wonderful book.

I used to make attempts at writing from time to time, but I always gave up. I couldn’t get beyond the initial idea and the first few pages. Looking back now, I realize that I wanted to write, but technically I just didn’t know how to do it. Eventually, I found myself stopping off in cafés on the way to and from work, scribbling in note books, and I decided I really did need to try and do it seriously.

About that time – I’m really not sure now whether this came before or after I’d made that decision to commit to writing seriously – I was poking about in a carton outside a junk shop and I found this old book. It was by Joan Aiken, whose stories I loved when I was nine or ten, and it was about how to write. I mean, not what makes a good book – plots, themes, characters – but what the actual processes of making a story are. It was like someone had taken me into a workshop full of tools and shown me how to use them.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Peter:  Well I’m not sure how to answer that. Every reader has their own internal compass … But there are a couple of things I find really interesting when I’m actually doing the writing (sorry, I’m being greedy – having two).

I love trying to capture the atmosphere of places and periods. A crowded café in a northern European city a hundred years ago, in the rain. A path in the forest when the wind is blowing hard. An immense bureaucratic office building. It’s not really about accurate description, because every reader has their own places like that, which they visit inside their heads. I guess I’m trying to find the thing, or sound, or smell, that will trigger those imaginative memories, and make spaces in the story where a reader can bring their own imagination with them.

Also, I ask myself the most wild and off-the-wall question I can think of: such as, what would be it be like if the rain knew you were there and didn’t like you? And then follow it through with absolute care and seriousness.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Peter:  Plotter. Definitely. I like stories that are tense and move fast and have lots of mystery and surprises. I work all that out first, so there’s a good strong spine to the book, because when the actual writing starts I get absorbed in the moment and the characters, and if I didn’t have a good idea of where it was going I’d be lost in the woods. Of course I don’t always stick to the plan. Sometimes a new character just walks in, or something unexpected happens, and I go with it. Change the plan.

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

Peter:  Mixing genres. I love thrillers and I love fantasy and SF, and in Wolfhound Century I wanted to write a book that would work as both, at the same time. I didn’t want to choose. So Wolfhound Century is a thriller, and it’s set in a world that’s different from ours in some important ways. It’s a lot like Soviet Russia, but there are giants there, and every few decades a monstrous inhuman creature falls from the sky, and usually they’re dead. The people call them angels, but they’re not.

There’s no reason why you can’t mix genres – books and movies and TV do it all the time – but I learned that it’s a kind of balancing act. There are times when the different genres pull against each other. For example, SF and fantasy books often take their time over world building. If you introduce something new and strange, you can expand a bit about what it is and give it some context. But thrillers don’t work like that: you have to start with a bang, in the middle of the action, and the pace can’t let up for too long or the book starts to sag and the sense of urgency and threat gets lost. That was certainly a challenge: finding ways of slipping the world-building in naturally along the way.

TQ:  Describe Wolfhound Century in 140 characters or less.

Peter:  A city of artists and revolutionaries and secret police, a monstrous alien presence in the forest, a woman sewing uniforms in a factory who wants to change the world …

TQ:  What inspired you to write Wolfhound Century?

Peter: I found the basic idea almost by accident. A long, slow accident. It was really an exciting moment when I finally got there. I jumped out of my skin.

I was reading a lot of fantasy at the time. Robin Hobb. I was obsessed by Robin Hobb. I wanted to write a big, wild fantasy. But I just couldn’t find a way in. Every time one of my characters picked up a sword, or did some magic, or heard about a dragon, I felt someone else in another book was already doing that better.

So, quite slowly, I started shifting my story deeper into central Europe, and north to the Baltic shores in winter, and I was moving forwards in time. Revolvers not swords. Trucks and trains not carts. Suddenly I found myself in St Petersburg in the early twentieth century. The idea just exploded into life. Suddenly I had marching crowds and modernist painters and propaganda cinema and noisy railway stations, and all the darkness and emotion of that historical period, and I had giants and golems and an endless forest. And I could make the story a thriller, an investigation, a race against time, a struggle against the overwhelming power of the state.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Wolfhound Century?

Peter:  A lot more than found its way into the finished story. I spent a lot of time, not only with history books, but also with artists and cinema and novels of the time. Old photographs. Travel books and guide books. Wildlife documentaries. Menus and recipes. I wanted to know what it felt like to be there, what it smelled like and tasted like, what they were afraid of, and what kind of things could happen. Where Stalin came from and how he took power.

I was always very aware that the events I was researching were real, and caused the deaths of millions of people and ruined the lives of millions more. I’ve tried to let that awareness come through in the book, as a kind of quiet undercurrent, so that Wolfhound Century doesn’t trivialize or exploit its background.

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

Peter:  The bad guys were the easiest, for sure. Josef Kantor, master terrorist with his eye on the main prize, and Lavrentina Chazia, head of the Secret Police. As they develop, they just get crueler and crueler, more and more powerful. Each has their own plans, and they pursue them ruthlessly. They spot their enemies’ weakest, most sensitive points, and they stick their fingers in and they push. If you have any kind of a malicious streak in you, writing villains is great fun.

The heroes were the hardest – Vissarion Lom, the police investigator whose refusal to toe the line starts the story rolling, and Maroussia Shaumian, the woman he meets, who wants to change the world – because they grow and deepen as people. You have to think about that really carefully: they’re thrown out of their familiar lives and experience terrible things, and they have to respond, emotionally, but not to the point where they become ineffective and they can’t push back. You don’t want them to come over as callous or unaware either: what happens affects not just them, but their families and friends and other people. They have to make hard decisions, knowing there’s a price to pay either way. And of course they respond to each other, too.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Wolfhound Century?

Peter:  When I think about Wolfhound Century now, it’s often the quieter moments that come back most vividly. The pauses after the action. For example, there’s a scene where the heroine, Maroussia, has just had to run and fight for her life, and she knows she’s going to have to leave her apartment for ever, but she has a moment where she goes back home and washes the dirt off her cuts and bruises, changes her clothes and packs a bag. It doesn’t take long. She doesn’t own much. The passage only takes a paragraph or two, and I wrote it quickly, but I felt I’d got close to who she really was. What it was like to be her.

TQ:  What's next?

Peter:  Well, Wolfhound Century is definitely not the end of the story. It’s the first in a series of three. The second is already written, and I’m working on the third at the moment.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Peter:  Thank you for inviting me. I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

 About Wolfhound Century

Wolfhound Century
Vissarion Lom 1
Orbit Books, March 26, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 380 pages

Inspector Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist --- and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown terrorism with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.

And the recently revealed cover for Truth and Fear (Vissarion Lom 2):

I love the Russian included on the seal on this cover (and yes, I know what it means).


About Peter

Peter Higgins read English at Oxford University and Queen's, Ontario. He was a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford and worked in the British civil service. His short stories have appeared in Fantasy: Best of the Year 2007, Best New Fantasy 2, Asimov's Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Zahir and Revelation, and in Russian translation in the St Petersburg magazine Esli. He lives with his family in South Wales.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Mash Ups and More Update - William Shakespeare's Star Wars

I haven't found a mash up type book to share with you in a long time. Look at this!

William Shakespeare's Star Wars
Author:  Ian Doescher
Publisher:  Quirk Books
Pub Date:  July 2, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 176 pages
Price:  $14.95
Genre:  Humor / Science Fiction
ISBN:  9781594746376

May the verse be with you! Inspired by one of the greatest creative minds in the English language—and William Shakespeare—here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify learners and masters alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for. 

I'd love the cover as a poster!

The View From Monday - March 25, 2013

Happy Monday!  It's the last Monday in March. Spring has arrived astronomically but not meteorologically - in other words, supposed to be Spring, still snowing.  If I've missed thanking anyone please accept my thank you for the birthday messages yesterday!

The 2013 Debut Author Challenge featured authors with novels out this week:

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins. You may read Peter's Guest Blog - Russian-ness - here.

The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri. You may read Suzanne's Guest Blog - Finding Magic..... - here.


Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry. You may read Joshua's Guest Blog - Pink Girl in a Cruel World - here and the Interview here.

Two former Debut Author Challenge featured authors have new novels out this week:

The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby, which is the second novel in Lee's Marius dos Hellespont series.

The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher.  The Age Atomic is the sequel to Empire State.

Don't forget to vote in the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for March!

And here are the releases for this week:

March 25, 2013
Pooka in My Pantry (e) R.L. Naquin UF - Monster Haven 2

March 26, 2013
The Good, the Bad and the Infernal Guy Adams SP/WW
Demon's Daughter Paula Altenburg PNR - Demon Outlaws 1
Passion's Prey A.C. Arthur UF - The Shadow Shifters 3
Immortal Trust Claire Ashgrove PNR - Curse of the Templars 3
The Marching Dead Lee Battersby F - Marius dos Hellespont 2
Galactic Courier (tp2mm) A. Bertram Chandler SF - John Grimes Saga 3
The Age Atomic Adam Christopher SF - Empire State 2
The Weight of Worlds Greg Cox SF - Star Trek: The Original Series
Rebel Kristina Douglas PNR - The Fallen 4
Deadly Sting Jennifer Estep UF - Elemental Assassin 8
Fire Caste Peter Fehervari SF - Warhammer: 40,0000
1636: The Kremlin Games (ri) Eric Flint SF - Ring of Fire 14
The Wreck of the River of Stars (ri) Michael Flynn SF - Firestar 5
Dog and Dragon (tp2mm) Dave Freer F - Dragon Ring 2
Twice Tempted Jeaniene Frost PNR - Night Prince 2
Ripper (h2mm) David L. Golemon AH/SF/Th - Event Group Thriller 7
Let the Dead Sleep Heather Graham PM
Play with Fire & Midnight at the Oasis Justin Gustainis UF - Morris and Chastain Investigation
Deadlocked (h2mm) Charlaine Harris UF/M - Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire 12
Hellhole Awakening Brian Herbert
Kevin J. Anderson
SF - Hellhole 2
Wolfhound Century (D) Peter Higgins F
Kiss of Temptation Sandra Hill PNR - Deadly Angels 3
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (h2mm) Darynda Jones Su/M - Charley Davidson 4
Time Untime (h2mm) Sherrilyn Kenyon PNR - Dark-Hnuter 16
Black Feathers Joseph D'Lacey F - Black Dawn 1
Wolf with Benefits Shelly Laurenston PNR - Pride 8
Aftertime (tp2mm) Sophie Littlefield PA - Aftertime 1
Gotrek & Felix: The Fourth Omnibus Nathan Long F - Warhammer
Extinction Machine Jonathan Maberry SF - Joe Ledger 5
The Scrivener's Tale Fiona McIntosh F
Princeps (h2mm) L. E. Modesitt F - Imager Portfolio 5
The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin (h2mm) Walter Mosley SF - Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion
The Witch of Little Italy (D) Suzanne Palmieri F
Virus Thirteen (D) Joshua Alan Parry SF/Th
Red Planet Blues Robert J. Sawyer SF
Triggers (h2mm) (ri) Robert J. Sawyer SF
A Problem of Proportion John Scalzi SF - The Human Division 11
Of Shadow Born Dianne Sylvan F - Shadow World 4
The Slab (h2mm) Karen Traviss SF - Gears of War
Angelopolis Danielle Trussoni UF - Angelology 2
Lover At Last J.R. Ward PNR - Black Dagger Brotherhood 11
Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction Ian Whates (ed) SF - Anthology
Kitty Rocks the House Carrie Vaughn UF - Kitty Norville 11
Rage of the Dragon (h2mm) Margaret Weis
Tracy Hickman
F - Dragonships of Vindras 3

March 31, 2013
The Best of Joe Haldeman Joe Haldeman SF
Necroscope: The Mobius Murders Brian Lumley SF - Necroscope
Magic Highways: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Three Jack Vance SF

e - eBook
D - Debut
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback

AH - Alternate History
F - Fantasy
M - Mystery
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SP - Steampunk
Su - Supernatural
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy
WW - Weird Western

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013

It's time for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for March 2013!

Since Cover Wars was so much fun as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, we're doing it again for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge. Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2013 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is released in the US. Cover artist/illustrator information is provided when I have it.

Cover Design: Lauren Panepinto

Cover Artwork: Robbie Trevino

Cover Artist: Nekro

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Guest Blog by Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni - March 23, 2013

Please welcome Helene Wecker to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Golem and the Jinni, Helene's debut, will be published on April 23, 2013.

On Accidentally Writing a Historical Fantasy

I didn't mean to write a fantastical novel about 1890s New York. It just sort of happened.

At first I didn't even have a setting. The characters just appeared in my mind, free of context. A golem, a clay creature of Jewish folklore, built to be a rich man's wife. A jinni, a fiery Arabian being, trapped in a flask for a thousand years. They arrived simultaneously, sort of peering at each other, trying to figure each other out. And then they turned to me. All right, they said, what do you plan to do with us?

I gave it some thought. I wanted to tell a story about the American immigrant experience, and the profound changes that come with life in a new country. I'd been working on a bunch of short stories about my own immigrant family, and my husband's. The stories were so-so, to put it kindly. They needed a spark. They needed something. And frankly, I was growing a little tired of quiet domestic realism. When a friend suggested I add a fantastical element—that's the stuff you love to read, so why don't you write like that?—I could feel my brain grab onto the idea, like a double cheeseburger in the hands of a starving man. Almost immediately the Golem and the Jinni sprang to life: the Golem stolid and curious, the Jinni mercurial and impatient.

So, how would they arrive in America? What setting would fit them best? Suddenly New York loomed large in my mind: the raucous, polyglot city, an explosion of peoples and cultures. It was an enticing canvas, and a little intimidating.

Next came the time period. When could these two characters, one Eastern European Jewish and one Syrian, have actually met each other in New York?

A quick trip to the library told me what I needed to know: The Venn diagram of Jewish and Syrian immigration to the U.S. intersected from the 1890s to the 1920s. The Jewish Lower East Side was already in full swing by the 1890s, but it wasn't until nearly the turn of the century that Little Syria, in what's now New York's Financial District, was a true neighborhood of its own.

Well, there it is, I thought. Late 1890s Manhattan. Better get to work.

Keep in mind that I thought I was writing another short story. In its first conception, this story was going to span a hundred years. (I think about it now, and oh, do I laugh.) My supernatural characters would live their separate lives, and every five or ten years they'd wave at each other from across the street, or maybe exchange a few words in a park. I had in mind something like Dream's once-a-century meetings with Hob Gadling in Neil Gaiman's Sandman: they would be each other's points of constancy in an ever-changing world.

I dashed off twelve pages and brought them to my writing workshop. This is interesting, they said. But slow down. Put more on the page. The details are the fun part.

So I tried to slow down, and flesh things out. But research made me impatient. I had no time, dammit! I had a story to write! So for a while, I got by on Google hit-and-runs. The rest of the details I glossed over, the writing equivalent of Vaseline on a camera lens. I gave the next installment to my workshop, and waited anxiously for their opinion.

What they said was, Stop sidestepping the details. Oh, and you know this is a novel, right? Because it's totally a novel.

And of course they were right.

So back to the library I went—and this time I stayed there for a year. I researched everything. How common were pocket-watches in the 1890s? How about indoor plumbing? What did a tenement apartment look like? How much did it cost to ride the Elevated from the Lower East Side to Central Park? What was it really like to arrive at Ellis Island?

I'd poke at a gap in my knowledge, and watch it turn into a sinkhole. The Syrians who emigrated to the United States in the 1890s weren't Muslim, as I'd assumed—they were mostly Maronite Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, two Christian denominations I knew next to nothing about. That was about a month of research right there. I started delving into Polish history for a character's backstory, and got lost in a thicket of peasant uprisings and redrawn borders and breakaway city-states. (Never, ever write about Polish history if you can avoid it. Trust me on this.) I spent days researching ancient caravan routes for an extended flashback, and then ended up cutting the whole thing. I ordered a back issue of a Catholic magazine because it had an article I needed—and soon I was getting donation requests from every missionary group and charity in the country.

Then something unexpected started to happen. Instead of just filling in holes, the research began to steer the story. At one point I learned that women in the 1890s weren't supposed to go out by themselves after dark, or they'd risk being mistaken for a prostitute. And here I had two main characters, one male and one female, who didn't need to sleep. So why not make the Golem rely on the Jinni to be her nighttime chaperone, to keep her from the appearance of impropriety? Soon my characters made a pact: one night a week, they would go out walking together. And just like that, the structure of my book fell into place, organized around those weekly visits. This happened over and over again: a stray fact or a detail in an old photo would trigger an idea, and take me in a new direction. Research, it turned out, wasn't just about pocket-watches and train fares: it was about adding depth, figuring out how these details informed the characters' lives.

It took me seven years to write this book, and I'd estimate that research accounted for at least two of them. But looking back, the research was fun, in a perverse and stressful sort of way. The longer I spent hunting for a fact, the more satisfying it felt to pin the damn thing down. At this point, if I had to write a story set in the modern day, I'm not sure how I'd do it. No research? Where would I get my ideas? This might be a sort of Stockholm syndrome for historical writers, but these days I'm glad I jumped in over my head. Next time, though, I might figure out how deep the pool is first.

About The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
Harper, April 23, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

About Helene

Helene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, and received her Bachelor's in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After college, she worked a number of disheartening Marketing and Communications jobs before returning to her first love, fiction writing. In 2007 she received her Master's in Fiction from Columbia University. After a dozen years spent bouncing between both coasts and the Midwest, she's finally putting down roots near San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in late April 2013 by HarperCollins.

Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Friday, March 22, 2013

Interview with author Richard Thomas - March 22, 2013

Please welcome Richard Thomas to The Qwillery. Staring into the Abyss (a short story collection) will be published later this month by Kraken Press.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Richard:  Thanks for having me.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Richard:  Seriously, about five years ago. I've been in advertising for almost 20 years and it has rarely been satisfying as a creative outlet. I loved reading as a kid, devouring as many books as I could get my hands on. That has always stayed with me. I wrote in high school and college, but really, I was more interested in chasing girls and expanding my mind.

I owe a lot of my career to Chuck Palahniuk. After I saw Fight Club, I realized it was a book, discovering the body of Chuck's work. I immediately read everything, starting with Choke and Survivor, loving them both. He really got me excited about reading again, a fresh voice. I'd always read Stephen King, I think he's a great storyteller. But Chuck got me to some other voices, edgy people like Dennis Lehane, Will Christopher Baer, Craig Clevenger, Denis Johnson, Stephen Graham Jones. It got me to these sub-genres, writing that was transgressive, grotesque—neo-noir.

I took a class with Clevenger at The Cult ( and he pushed me submit a story, "Stillness." In the end, after about 20 rejections, Cemetery Dance took it for an anthology that would be Shivers VI. And I was lucky enough to publish alongside Stephen King, Peter Straub and many other talented voices. That was my first breakthrough, and since then I've had one novel, two short story collection, 75+ stories published, five Pushcart nominations, a few contest wins, landed an agent, and just got my MFA. It's been a wild ride, but I'm only getting started.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Richard:  Pantser, for sure. I want to be surprised along with the audience. I just have to follow the story and characters, to see what these people are really made of. I like to start at the inciting incident. You could also call that the tipping point. I like the idea of being "in media res," Latin for "in the middle of things." I start with general ideas, themes and philosophies and see where my characters take me. The hero will be brave and the coward will be weak, and in the end I try to twist those notions, play with them, to create something compelling and visceral.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are there different challenges for you when writing a short story versus a novel?

Richard:  Engaging the reader. I want to pull them in, make them be a part of that moment, immerse them in the horror, the tension, the sensuality—whatever is happening. If I'm not making them feel something powerful, then I'm not doing my job. I want them to feel compassion, or I want them to feel rage, but whatever it is, to feel it deeply.

I don't see stories and novels as being much different. To me, it's just about sustaining that note (or a series of notes). Some stories just don't have the depth to be a novel, though, I'll give you that. And some novels probably should remain just a story. You have more time with a novel, but it's the same approach—hook them, pull them in, make them care, educate them, make them feel strong emotions, speak the truth, and leave them spent. I love writing novels, but they are a huge investment of time, energy and emotion. If you fail at a novel, it can really paralyze you, as a writer. Whether it's a kiss in a dark alley or a lifelong romance, the stories I write need to pack the same punch at 500 words, 5,000 words, or 50,000 words.

TQ:  What were some of your inspirations for the short stories in Staring into the Abyss?

Richard:  The idea of loss, I think. Or really, the idea of actions and consequences, how vivid and powerful and deep our lives are, and what happens when we make the choices we do. There is a ripple effect, a connection between us all, and how you react, how you treat others in the face of those challenges, that defines you. I find it fascinating to study these people (maybe that's why I have a minor in psychology) whether they are alone in a tower making mechanical birds, filled with the need for vengeance, or simply trying to fix what they destroyed.

TQ:   In the short stories in Staring into the Abyss who was the character who was the most difficult to write and why? The easiest and why?

Richard:  "Victimized" was a very tough, dark story about a woman (Annabelle) who was abused as a child, and sought revenge against that person. There were some really difficult scenes in that story, but I feel like I was able to get her side of the story. When you are hurt, you want to hurt back, vengeance. But you also retain that pain, and want to be whole, to forgive, to erase. It's complicated.

"Maker of Flight" was a story that really just spilled out of me, but I credit the excellent writing of Brent Hayward, the source material of Filaria. I could see the world, and the character, Isaac, just felt real to me. It was a lot of fun.

TQ:  You write neo-noir, dark fantasy and horror stories. Are there any other genres or sub-genres in which you'd like to write?

Richard:  I don't write enough science fiction. I think that's because I get worried about the science being believable. I worry I'll screw it up. I haven't written much YA, but I did just rewrite my debut novel, Transubstantiate, as a YA title. My agent is reading it now, we'll see if it works. And even though I got my MFA last year, I'd love to write more literary fiction, but it doesn't come naturally to me. I have to work hard to not kill people off, to not write sex scenes, and to avoid twists and revelations. I studied with Pulitzer nominated author Dale Ray Phillips down at Murray State University, and when he took away those crutches, I found it really difficult to write. In the end, I was rewarded for stretching myself, and I'd like to focus on more of that voice. Even if my love of literary fiction leans towards the dark sheep: Flannery O'Connor, Denis Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, and Cormac McCarthy, for example.

TQ:   How would you define noir fiction? And neo-noir fiction?

Richard:  Great question. To me classic noir is a formula—detective, woman in distress (femme fatale), crime to be solved. It has tension and mystery, but there's a certain tone, and language, that keeps it in the past, for me. To write contemporary noir, or "neo-noir" (which is just French for "new-black") it can't limit itself to that equation. There certainly has to be some sort of crime, or problem, or conflict, but you could say that about a lot of genres. It needs to lean to the dark side, those moments in life when things are out of control, a tipping point, inciting incident, a point of no return. But I think neo-noir can also be Southern gothic and rural, it can focus on the grotesque, be horrific, as well as transgressive. It's not as narrow as you may think. Whether it's Brian Evenson or Stephen Graham Jones, Daniel Woodrell or William Gay, neo-noir is a contemporary voice that feels as if it could happen to you today—or tomorrow.

TQ:  What's next?

Richard:  Well, so far 2013 has been a great year. My short story collection, Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press) is out in late March. I just had stories accepted in Midwestern Gothic and Arcadia, and they'll be out soon. I'm editing an anthology for Black Lawrence Press (The Lineup) which will focus on edgy, literary short stories by women authors, as well as another anthology of transgressive short stories entitled Burnt Tongues, with Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer, also out in 2014. That's enough to keep me busy, as well as my ongoing column at ("Storyville") and book reviews at The Nervous Breakdown. Onward and upward!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Richard:  Thanks for having me, it was my pleasure.

About Staring into the Abyss

As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.” In this collection of short stories Richard Thomas shows us in dark, layered prose the human condition in all of its beauty and dysfunction. A man sits in a high tower making tiny, mechanical birds, longing for the day when he might see the sky again. A couple spends an evening in an underground sex club where jealousy and possession are the means of barter. A woman is victimized as a child, and turns that rage and vengeance into a lifelong mission, only to self-destruct, and become exactly what she battled against. A couple hears the echo of the many reasons they’ve stayed together, and the one reason the finally have to part. And a boy deals with a beast that visits him on a nightly basis, not so much a shadow, as a fixture in his home. These 20 stories will take you into the darkness, and sometimes bring you back. But now and then there is no getting out, the lights have faded, the pitch black wrapping around you like a festering blanket of lies. What will you do now? It’s eat or be eaten—so bring a strong stomach and a hearty appetite.

Read more about Staring into the Abyss at Kraken Press.

About Richard

Richard Thomas is the author of three books—his debut novel, Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications), and two short story collections, Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press) and Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press). He has published over 75 stories online and in print, including the Shivers VI anthology (Cemetery Dance) with Stephen King and Peter Straub, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Pear Noir!, Word Riot, 3:AM Magazine, and Opium. He has won contests at ChiZine, One Buck Horror, and Jotspeak and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of two anthologies, both out in 2014: The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he is a featured book critic at The Nervous Breakdown, as well as a columnist at LitReactor. He is represented by Paula Munier at the Talcott Notch Literary Agency. For more information visit

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