Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Solomon's Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.

J. Dalton Jennings

Solomon's Arrow
Talos Press, July 14, 2014
Trade Papeback and eBook, 400 pages

It’s the mid-twenty-first century. The oceans are rising, the world’s population is growing, terrorist organizations are running rampant, and it has become readily apparent that humanity’s destructive nature is at the heart of the matter.

When all faith in humanity seems lost, a startling proposal is announced: Solomon Chavez, the mysterious son of the world’s first trillionaire, announces that he, backed by a consortium of governments and wealthy donors, will build an interstellar starshipone that will convey a select group of six thousand individuals, all under the age of fifty, with no living relatives, to a recently discovered planet in the Epsilon Eridani star system. His goal is lofty: to build a colony that will ensure the survival of the human race. However, Solomon Chavez has a secret that he doesn’t dare share with the rest of the world.

With the launch date rapidly approaching, great odds must be overcome so that the starship Solomon’s Arrow can fulfill what the human race has dreamed of for millennia: reaching for the stars. The goal is noble, but looming on the horizon are threats nobody could have imaginedones that may spell the end of all human life and end the universe as we know it.

Filled with action, suspense, and characters that will live on in the imagination, Solomon’s Arrow will leave readers breathless, while at the same time questioning what humanity’s true goals should be: reaching for the stars, or exploring the limits of the human mind?

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.

Brian Kirk

We Are Monsters
Samhain Publishing, July 7, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 312 pages

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum. 

He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.

Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.

Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.

Review: The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath
Author:  Ishbelle Bee
Series:  From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, June 30, 2015 (North America Print)
       June 2, 2015 (eBook)
       June 4, 2015 (UK Print)
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $9.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857664426 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

1888. A little girl called Mirror and her extraordinary shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down…

An extraordinary dark fairytale for adults, for fans of Catherine Valente and Neil Gaiman.

File Under: Fantasy [ Shapes Shifting / Inside the Clock / A Tasty Little Girl / 12 Dancing Princesses ]

Melanie's Review

This book is very difficult to explain but a must read for anyone who likes the unusual. In true gothic/horror style Bee tells the story of Mirror who as a young girl was almost murdered by her grandfather when he leaves her to die in a grandfather clock. She is rescued by the policeman Goliath Honeyflower who becomes her protector, guardian and companion. Mirror is no longer just a normal young girl and Goliath searches for answers as to what she has become. We also learn of the life of young John Loveheart whose family are cruelly murdered and he is taken by the demon Mr. Fingers to live in the underworld along with 13 other young boys. Mr. Fingers wants to eat Mirror and sends John Loveheart to find her. I could tell you more but that would spoil the story.

Bee has written one of the creepiest books I have ever read. Well done! She has also managed to create some fantastically evil characters that were quite frankly a delight to read about. The story is told from a number of different POVs including those of Mirror and John Loveheart which gives us a different perspective of the overall story. Bee also has a fantastic imagination especially when it comes to naming her characters. At the start it seemed like it was going to be a very quick read but due to the plot, the colourful characters and the different environment in which the story is staged I found I had to give myself some more time to read it. I didn't want to miss any of Bee's crazy and compelling story. This is an excellent debut and I look forward to reading more from this author. If you are a fan of the strange and unusual you won't want to miss out.

Interview with Alyc Helms, author of The Dragons of Heaven - June 30, 2015

Please welcome Alyc Helms to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Dragons of Heaven is published on June 30th (North American print) by Angry Robot Books and is already available in digital format.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing? How does having a background in Anthropology affect (or not) your writing?

Alyc:  Hello to all and sundry.

I could go with the old standard, which is that I've been writing for as long as I can remember. That's true after a fashion. My dad has a book I handmade when I was nine that has a few illustrated short stories, some very-dark-for-a-nine-year-old poetry, and some transcribed family folklore. I continued to noodle with writing throughout my teens and twenties, and I even sent a few short stories out. I just moved to a new home, and while I was unpacking I found a small stack of rejection letters from Shawna McCarthy at Realms of Fantasy from back in the *cough* 90s *cough*.

But the truth is that I didn't really get serious about writing – especially finishing things I'd started, which is my benchmark for 'serious' – until I was in graduate school. Writing fiction became my way of keeping sane when my coursework and dissertation research became too much to handle. With my fiction, I could have fun. Nobody cared if I was wrong. Nobody was judging me. I could be as ridiculous as I wanted to be.

I could also use all the things I'd learned about cultural structures, about representation and identity, about politics and economics and activism, to ground my writing. I sometimes joke that I really just write critical theory fanfic.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Alyc:  I started out a pure pantser, and for a long time I thought I was more of a pantser than I probably actually am because I like structures. I love structures. I'm a big fan of using ritual and structures to trick myself into doing work that I'd rather avoid. And because of my background in folklore (and anthropology), I've got a pretty good grasp of how we structure stories. I tend to determine my structure early on in my drafting process (in terms of acts and beats and rising/falling action), and then I refine my upcoming framework and leave the further-off stuff fuzzy until I get closer to it. So in that way, I'm definitely a plotter.

With The Dragons of Heaven, I had written several self-contained story chunks before I decided to turn it into something novel-shaped, but in doing that, I had to figure out a shape for the novel. That birthed the palimpsest-like Now-and-Then structure that goes a good deal beyond your typical flashbacks. I wanted the 'Then' sections to inform and give added meaning and depth to the 'Now' sections, so that when readers meet a major character in a 'Now' section, they know why the character is important to Missy and the story because they just saw the same character in a 'Then' section. It wasn't something I'd often seen done in popular fiction, and I knew it'd be a weird structure for some readers and potentially a hard sell to publishers, but I thought it offered some interesting storytelling opportunities. And now I can point to the television version of The Arrow (which I love like whoa) to show that it's not as weird a device as all that.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alyc:  Butt-in-chair, because it pervades every aspect of the process. Need to write a first draft? You gotta get butt-in-chair. Research? Revisions? Butt-in-chair. Querying, marketing, all the business aspects also require you to show up and do the work. I know so many people who are super smart, who have fantastic ideas that I'd love to read, and who write beautiful or hilarious or profound snippets of prose. But none of that matters if you're not sitting down, finding the time, doing the work, getting it wrong, working toward making it right.

This is a challenge for me because (like many writers), I have what I call page-fear. Getting started is the hardest hurdle to get over because writers have excellent imaginations, and we're very good at turning them against ourselves. The game of 'what if?' becomes 'What if I get it wrong? What if it sucks? What if I'm not the right person to tell this story?' There's no right answer, so every word is a leap of faith. You have to be willing to be wrong. Writing is an alchemical process. A great idea transmutes into crap the moment it hits the page, and then you have to putrefy and purify it until it becomes gold. And that won't happen if you don't get butt-in-chair.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Alyc:  I grew up reading Katherine Kurtz, Mercedes Lackey, Melanie Rawn, and (of course) Anne McCaffery. I was dragon-obsessed as only a girl weaned on McCaffery could be, and there were never enough non-McCaffery dragon books to satisfy me.

More recently, I've gobbled up everything Robin Hobb is willing to give me. The Fool is one of my favorite fictional characters for the way he skewers gender assumptions. Naomi Novak and Temeraire are up there, too. Marie Brennan is a good friend, but she's also one of my favorite authors, and I love her naturalist take on dragons. It makes me feel like I'm back in field school.

For The Dragons of Heaven, however, I had to wander outside of fantasy fiction for my inspiration. I drew from Chinese folklore and legends (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin/Outlaws of the Marsh were brilliant for this). I also drew inspiration from pulp and wuxia in other media: Indiana Jones, The Mummy movies, The Shadow (radio show), Big Trouble in Little China, K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces. Bunraku. I read literary pulp to get a good grounding in it, but it didn't quite have what I was looking for. Filmic pulp adventure/wuxia was the vibe I wanted.

TQDescribe The Dragons of Heaven in 140 characters or less.

Alyc:  Oh man. You guys are mean with these questions. Okay, I just yoinked my unsuccessful #PitMad entry from two years ago:

Pulp and wuxia collide when Missy Masters faces off against an ancient dragon to save China and get the guy.

TQTell us something about The Dragons of Heaven that is not found in the book description.

Alyc:  I'm a sucker for complicated, adult romances. Also, consent is sexy.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Dragons of Heaven? How would you describe into which genre(s) The Dragons of Heaven fit(s)? Having asked that, do you think that genre classifications are useful?

Dragons started as a side-adventure fic for a character I was playing in a tabletop game, and it lives in the intersection between pulp adventure and wuxia. About the time I hit 40k words, I realized I had the longest thing I’d ever written, the seed of a novel, and I still wasn’t bored. Of course, it was a character fic. It wasn’t novel-shaped at all. Missy was unfocused as a character, and the story was based in a world owned by a large corporate gaming company. I spent the next several years carving down, building up, reshaping, rewriting. The current iteration contains less than 10% of the original character fic.

Neither pulp adventure nor wuxia are what you would call well-known genre categories, especially in prose fiction. I keep expecting them to be better-known, but the consistently confused looks I get when I call Dragons a pulp adventure/wuxia mash-up indicate that I am mistaken in my expectations. I have three frivolous goals with Dragons: a) to bring back fedoras and tailored suits for men and women, b) to encourage demand for more cart-delivered dim sum restaurants, and c) to encourage more demand for pulp adventure wuxia, preferably including Eastern dragons.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Dragons of Heaven?

Alyc:  I have an outdated and incomplete bibliography on my website that covers some of my research materials, but it only covers the things I read specifically for Dragons. It doesn't cover the years I spent studying world folklores, anthropology, representation and identity politics, etc.

Some of the most valuable texts are a little hard to come by (especially now that I don't have access to a university library ::sobs::). I've already mentioned The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin, which is a little like mainlining Aurthurian mythology and all the works of Shakespeare before writing a Western fantasy. Wasserstrom was my main source for contemporary Chinese history. Sheridan Prasso's The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, and Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient was a great starting point for considering problematic tropes and issues in representation. Booth's The Dragon Syndicates and Huston's Tongs, Gangs, and Triads formed my hopefully-a-little-more-nuanced portrayal of the Triads' role in Chinese diaspora communities. And I can't shower enough love on Kang's The Cult of the Fox, which is an obscure monograph about household fox worship in southern China, and why I decided my fox spirits would be called huxian rather than the more derogatory huli-jing.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alyc:  Easiest was Missy, definitely. If I've been away from her for a while then it can be a bit of work to get back into her voice, but once I'm in it, I'm in it. She says the things I wish I was quick enough to come up with on the fly.

Hardest was the dragons because I had to balance giving them the gravitas they deserved with making them personable to the reading audience. In addition, there are nine of them (though some get more screen time than others), each with their own concerns, personalities, and agendas, which meant that in addition to differentiating them from each other so readers didn't get confused, I had to do a lot of work figuring out their histories and relationships with each other, not just with Missy.

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

Alyc:  Where can I go to get proper, cart-delivered dim-sum?

Sadly, my favorite cart-delivered dim-sum isn't in San Francisco at all. It's in Los Angeles. My go-to dim sum when I lived in L.A. was The Palace Seafood & Dim Sum on Wilshire on the Westside (I expect to get lots of hate-mail for this from San Gabriel Valley purists). For special occasions, though, we'd haul over to Chinatown to The Empress Pavilion. I understand The Empress Pavilion closed for a while and was recently re-opened under new ownership, so I can't say if it's as great as it used to be.

I've yet to find the right combination of carts, cost, and quality for dim sum in San Francisco, but this probably just means I need to go out for dim sum more often.

I'd love for readers to leave suggestions for good dim sum in the comments so I can try it if I ever visit wherever they are!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Dragons of Heaven.

"Idealism is a series of compromises waiting to happen."

TQWhat's next?

Alyc:  I'm deep in the weeds on writing The Conclave of Shadow, the sequel to Dragons. In it, Mr. Mystic teams up with Professor Abigail Trent, aka The Antiquarian. My original pitch on this one was 'Thelma and Louise take on 1,001 Nights.' It's high on adventures and escapades, but I do get to jump around on my soapbox for a bit regarding archaeological ethics, looting, and repatriation. Sorry Indiana Jones. That artifact may 'belong in a museum,' but without decent provenance, it's not much use to anyone!

I just turned in some freelance game writing for the Dragon Age tabletop RPG, and I'm putting final touches on the manuscript for an Italianate secondary-world fantasy full of politics and poisoners, courtiers and courtesans, rapiers and repartee. My elevator pitch for that one is 'Game of Thrones meets Queer as Folk,' though in truth, it owes a bit more to Dumas than to Martin.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alyc:  Thank you for having me!

The Dragons of Heaven
Dragons of Heaven 1
Angry Robot Books, June 30, 2015  (North America Print)
      June 2, 2015 (eBook)
      June 4, 2015 (UK Print)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 512 pages

Would you deal with the devil to save the world?

Street magician Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather – she also got his preternatural control of shadow and his legacy as the vigilante hero, Mr Mystic. Problem is, being a pulp hero takes more than a good fedora and a knack for witty banter, and Missy lacks the one thing Mr. Mystic had: experience. Determined to live up to her birthright, Missy journeys to China to seek the aid of Lung Huang, the ancient master who once guided her grandfather.

Lung Huang isn’t quite as ancient as Missy expected, and she finds herself embroiled in the politics of Lung Huang and his siblings, the nine dragon-guardians of creation. When Lung Di, Lung Huang’s brother and mortal enemy, raises a magical barrier that cuts off China from the rest of the world, it falls to the new Mr Mystic to prove herself by taking down the barrier. But is it too great a task for a lone adventure hero?

File Under: Fantasy [ Sins of the Grandfather / Missy and Master / Geek Fu / Little Trouble in Big China ]

About Alyc

Alyc Helms fled her doctoral program in anthropology and folklore when she realized she preferred fiction to academic writing. She dabbles in corsetry and costuming, dances at Renaissance and Dickens fairs, gets her dander up about social justice issues, and games in all forms of media. She sometimes refers to her work as “critical theory fanfic,” which is a fancy way to say that she is obsessed with liminality, gender identity, and foxes.

She’s a freelance game writer and a graduate of Clarion West, and her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, to name a few. Her first novel, The Dragons of Heaven, will be published by Angry Robot Books in June 2015.

You can find Alyc online at http://www.alychelms.com and follow her @alychelms on Twitter.

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - June 2015 Winner

The winner of the June 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is (R)EVOLUTION by PJ Manney with 23% of all votes.

The Final Results

The June 2015 Debut Covers

Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the July Debut covers starting on July 15, 2015.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Interview with Ishbelle Bee, author of The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath - June 29, 2015

Please welcome Ishbelle Bee to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath will be published on June 30th (North American print) by Angry Robot Books and is already available in digital format.

TQWhen and why did you start writing?

Ishbelle:  I have been writing stories, poetry and film scripts since I was a little girl. I found the ‘real’ world boring and I was disappointed there were no magicians flying about.

TQAre you a plotter of a pantser?

Ishbelle:  Pantser. My prep work is a few pages of scribbles and then I start writing.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ishbelle:  I get bored very easily

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favourite authors?

Ishbelle:  Angela Carter, Philip K Dick, Terry Pratchett, Margaret Atwood and Lovecraft

TQDescribe The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath in 140 characters or less?

Ishbelle:  (A very strange Victorian fairy tale) - A little girl is locked inside a grandfather clock. She is rescued by a policeman who becomes her supernatural guardian. The Lord of the Underworld orders his assassin/ son Mr Loveheart to hunt her down because he wants to eat her.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath? What appealed to you about writing a dark fairytale? Do you have any favorite fairytales?

Ishbelle:  I am fascinated by fairy tales, as I am a huge fan of symbolism and fairy tales are stuffed full of them. My favourite fairy tale is BLUEBEARD. Nearly all fairy tales were originally very dark and have been sadly sanitized over the years.

TQTell us something about The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath that is not found in the book description.

Ishbelle:  It explores a little of the mythology of the kidnaping of Persephone and her descent into the Underworld.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath?

Ishbelle:  I wanted, initially to write a book about exorcisms and the idea of having a demon inside a child. The character of Goliath was going to be priest.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath?

Ishbelle:  I read a lot of books on mythology and fairy tales, and also looked into Victorian Spiritualism.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Ishbelle:  The easiest was Mr Loveheart, whose madness is a joy to write. The hardest was perhaps Detective White, who, because he is neither quirky or deranged, actually makes it trickier for me. (I prefer narrative voices which are unbalanced)

TQWhich question about The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath do you wish someone would ask you? Ask it and answer it!

Ishbelle:  The book seems to be obsessed with food and eating. WHY?

I am fascinated with cannibalism in fairy tales and mythology and this reoccurring theme appears in all my books

TQGive us two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath.


“… I’ve witnessed some horrible things in my life. Musical Theatre! Frightened the buggery out of me.” ( Rufus Hazard )

“ Sometimes I think I am a strange key. Swallow me and I will unlock every door inside of you.” (Loveheart)

TQWhat’s next?

Ishbelle:   Book 2 : The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl is being published in August and features an insane collector of butterflies.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery!

The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath
From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Volume 1
Angry Robot Books, June 30, 2015 (North America Print)
     June 2, 2015 (eBook)
     June 4, 2015 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

1888. A little girl called Mirror and her extraordinary shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down…

An extraordinary dark fairytale for adults, for fans of Catherine Valente and Neil Gaiman.

File Under: Fantasy [ Shapes Shifting / Inside the Clock / A Tasty Little Girl / 12 Dancing Princesses ]

The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl
From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Volume2
Angry Robot Books, August 4, 2015 (North America Print and eBook)
        August 6, 2015 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook

A dark and twisted Victorian melodrama, like Alice in Wonderland goes to Hell, from the author of The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath.
Two orphans, Pedrock and Boo Boo, are sent to live in the sinister village of Darkwound. There they meet and befriend the magical and dangerous Mr Loveheart and his neighbour, Professor Hummingbird, a recluse who collects rare butterflies. Little do they know that Professor Hummingbird has attracted the wrath of a demon named Mr Angelcakes.

One night, Mr Angelcakes visits Boo Boo and carves a butterfly onto her back. Boo Boo starts to metamorphose into a butterfly/human hybrid, and is kidnapped by Professor Hummingbird. When Mr Loveheart attempts to rescue her with the aid of Detective White and Constable Walnut, they too are turned into butterflies.

Caught between Professor Hummingbird and the demon Angelcakes, Loveheart finds himself entangled in a web much wider and darker than he could have imagined, and a plot that leads him right to the Prime Minister and even Queen Victoria herself …

File Under: Fantasy [ Closing the Net / Heads in the Trees / The Angel-Eater / Prime Minister’s Questions ]

About Ishbelle

Ishbelle Bee writes horror and loves fairy-tales, the Victorian period (especially top hats!) and cake tents at village fêtes (she believes serial killers usually opt for the Victoria Sponge).
She currently lives in Edinburgh. She doesn’t own a rescue cat, but if she did his name would be Mr Pickles.

Twitter @ishbellebee

The View From Monday - June 29, 2015

Happy last Monday in June. Sadly I've not been doing much reading lately. I've been spending most of my time dealing with a house issue that requires things being ripped out and insurance. The extent of damage keeps getting worse and worse as they remove more floor and walls. Hopefully things will calm down soon and I can refocus on reading and writing and not be so incredibly behind. Apologies to all!

There are 3 debuts this week:

The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath (Notebooks of John Loveheart, Esq 1) by Ishbelle Bee;

The Linesman (Linesman 1) by S.K. Dunstall;


The Dragons of Heaven (Dragons of Heaven 1) by Alyc Helms.

And from formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Authors:

American Craftsmen (American Craftsmen 1) by Tom Doyle is out in Mass Market Paperback;

Supervillains Anonymous (Superheroes Anonymous 2) by Lexie Dunne;

Luck of the Irish (Leprechaun's Gold 1) by Sara Humphreys;


Provoked (Dark Protectors 5) by Rebecca Zanetti.

June 29, 2015
Indelible Ink (e) Matt Betts SP/H/Th
The Adventures of Cassius Flynn and Molly McGuire (e) Eleri Stone Dys/PNR - Reapers Novella

June 30, 2015
The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath (D) Ishbelle Bee HistF - Notebooks of John Loveheart, Esq 1
Ascendance: Dave vs. the Monsters John Birmingham UF - David Hooper Trilogy 3
Tomorrow War J. L. Bourne TechTh - The Chronicles of Max (Redacted)
New Frontiers: A Collection of Tales About the Past, the Present, and the Future (h2mm) Ben Bova SF - Short Stories
Working for Bigfoot Jim Butcher UF - Dresden Files Novellas
Terminator Genisys: Resetting the Future David S Cohen SF - Media Tie-In
Virtues of War Bennett R. Coles SF - Virtues of War 1
Prize of Night Bailey Cunningham CF - Parallel Parks 3
Undead and Unwary (h2mm) MaryJanice Davidson PNR - Undead/Queen Betsy 13
American Craftsmen (h2mm) Tom Doyle CF - American Craftsmen 1
Supervillains Anonymous (e) Lexie Dunne UF/SH - Superheroes Anonymous 2
Linesman (D) S. K. Dunstall SF - Linesman 1
Follow You Home Mark Edwards Th/H
Of Bone and Thunder (h2mm) Chris Evans F
The Sea of Trolls (ri) Nancy Farmer F - The Sea of Trolls Trilogy 1
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sacraments of Fire David R. George III SF - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Severed Souls (h2mm) Terry Goodkind F - Richard and Kahlan 14
The Silenced Heather Graham Sus/P - Krewe of Hunters 15
Soul Scorched Donna Grant PNR - Dark Kings 6
Soul Scorched: Part 4 (e) Donna Grant PNR - Dark Kings
The Undying Legion Clay and Susan Griffith HistF - Crown & Key 2
The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who Simon Guerrier
Dr. Marek Kukula
SF - Doctor Who
Heat of the Moment Lori Handeland FR - Sisters of the Craft 2
The Hollow Queen Elizabeth Haydon F - The Symphony of Ages 8
The Dragons of Heaven (D) Alyc Helms UF - Dragons of Heaven 1
Brothers in Valor H. Paul Honsinger SF - Man of War 3
Luck of the Irish (e) Sara Humphreys PNR  - Leprechaun's Gold 1
The Rods & The Axe (h2mm) Tom Kratman SF - Carerra 6
The House of the Four Winds (h2mm) Mercedes Lackey F - One Dozen Daughters 1
Wolf with Benefits Shelly Laurenston PNR - Pride 8
Artemis Invaded Jane Lindskold SF - Artemis Awakening 2
Little Girls Ronald Malfi H
The Baba Yaga Eric Brown
Una McCormack
SF - Weird Space
The Red: First Light Linda Nagata Th/SF - Red Trilogy 1
The Map of Chaos Félix J. Palma SF - Map of Time 3
Zoo: The Graphic Novel James Patterson
Michael Ledwidge
All Dressed Up and No Place to Haunt Rose Pressey PM - A Haunted Vintage Mystery 2
Islands of Rage and Hope (h2mm) John Ringo SF - Black Tide Rising 3
The Ripple Effect J.A. Saare UF - Rhiannon's Law 3
The End of All Things #4: To Stand or Fall: The End of All Things John Scalzi SF - Old Man's War
Alien Hunter: Underworld (h2mm) Whitley Strieber Th/SF - Alien Hunter 2
The Rhesus Chart (h2mm) Charles Stross SF - Laundry Files 5
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (h2tp) Genevieve Valentine LF/FairyT
The Philosopher Kings Jo Walton F - Thessaly 2
The Isle of Blood (ri) Rick Yancey H/Go - The Monstrumologist 3
Provoked (ri) Rebecca Zanetti PNR - Dark Protectors 5

D - Debut
e - eBook
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint

CF - Contemporary Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT -Fairy Tale
FR - Fantasy Romance
Go - Gothic
H - Horror
HistF - Historical Fantasy
LF - Literary Fiction
P - Paranormal
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superhero
SP - Steampunk
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Melanie's Week in Review - June 28, 2015

Hello and welcome to summer London style. It was been gorgeous weather the last few days and going to be super sunny and hot, hot, hot next week. I can hardly wait as lucky me is off work for 6 whole weeks on gardening leave. Hip, hip, hooray. Well not to rub it in, of course. The downer is I will have less time to read. Well enough of the weather what did I read?

I had pre-ordered Trailer Park Fae which is the first in Lilith Saintcrow's new series Gallow and Ragged a few months ago. Amazon UK delayed its release and I had almost forgotten about it when all of a sudden it was on my Kindle. I liked the sound of the down on his luck, former favourite of the Queen of Summer Jeremiah Gallow and what happens when he meets Robin Ragged who looks surprisingly like his dead wife. I was expecting this to be modern day urban fantasy considering it's title and the plot largely set in a trailer park. I was prepared to forgive maybe a bit of fantasy to be thrown in when Gallow and Ragged enters Summer's court. What I wasn't expecting  was writing so verbose that in parts it was almost intelligible on the first read through. I realise that Saintcrow was aiming for authenticity when dealing with the pureblood fae of fairy tales but I think this was at the expense of actually understanding what was going on. I found myself having to re-read parts more than once to ensure I captured what Saintcrow was really trying to say. In the end I found a bit tedious. Here is an example. 
They would not be half so pretty had they once were when a mayfly mortal's brief blossoming and enchanted the eye and hand.
 Of course, I know what this means but paragraph after paragraph of this type of verse was unexpected and in the end made the book a bit more effort to get through than I had hoped. Gallow and Ragged are interesting enough but both cornered the market on feeling sorry for themselves. Although I started to feel sorry for them by the end as they barely got to eat or change clothes for almost 300 pages. Saintcrow does leave us with quite a delightful twist at the end with a big juicy double cross but overall I only just liked Trailer Park Fae but didn't love it.

Second book on my list to read was Scardown (Wetwired / Jenny Casey 2) by Elizabeth Bear. You might remember I read book 1 Hammered a few weeks ago. In this instalment Jenny spends most of her time on The Montreal  - an alien spaceship the Canadian army has found and trying to fly with the help of the nanites and the AI Richard. The story flows rather seamlessly between earth (mainly Toronto) and the spaceship and between the political machinations of the Canadian president Riel and the morally corrupt Alberta Holmes and Fred Valens. Jenny is still finding her way in the romance department with her life long friend and love interest Gabe who is also romancing the scientist Elspeth. I thought this was quite odd as Gabe seemed committed to Jenny and Jenny didn't seem like the type of share. I think, however, the near annihilation of the earth at the hands of the Chinese government that may have put romance into perspective for this love triangle. Razorface is also back and looking for Jenny in Toronto. He is almost half the man he used to be. No longer the crimelord in charge of the underbelly of a whole city. Razorface is looking for revenge and has his sights on Alberta Holmes - the woman that killed his wife and his friend at the end of book 1.

Scardown doesn't really get going until the latter quarter of the book and then, boy it gets really exciting. So exciting in fact that I was reading it on the train and watched my station sail past when I finally remembered to look up from a particularly good bit. Bear doesn't protect her lead characters, and I think that Jenny is the only one that doesn't face getting killed off. A very sad ending for several good characters in this series so far. I enjoyed this book more than the last but I still wish Bear would spend less time allowing her characters to meander around the plot. It should be really engaging for 75% of the plot not just 25% of it.

Well that is all for me this week. I shall endeavour to get out in the sunshine and finish some books I have been meaning to read for ages now. Until next week Happy Reading!

A new feature for the Week in Review - book information!

Trailer Park Fae
Gallow and Ragged 1
Orbit, June 23, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow returns to dark fantasy with a new series where the faery world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.

Jeremiah Gallow is just another construction worker, and that's the way he likes it. He's left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae - by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer's Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding...

Wetwired (Jenny Casey) 2
Gollancz, April 30, 2015
eBook, 402 pages
(UK eBook)

The year is 2062, and after years on the run, Jenny Casey is back in the Canadian armed forces. Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she's been handpicked for the most important mission of her life - a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny - as pilot of the starship Montreal - must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.

Now Jenny is caught in a desperate battle where old resentments become bitter betrayals and justice takes the cruelest forms of vengeance. With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex-crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world. If it doesn't come to an end first . . .

Jenny Casey 2
Spectra, June 28, 2005
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

The year is 2062, and after years on the run, Jenny Casey is back in the Canadian armed forces. Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she’s been handpicked for the most important mission of her life–a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny–as pilot of the starship Montreal–must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.

Now Jenny is caught in a desperate battle where old resentments become bitter betrayals and justice takes the cruelest forms of vengeance. With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex—crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world. If it doesn’t come to an end first…

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review: Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton

Dead Ice
Author:  Laurell K. Hamilton
Series:  Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 24
Publisher:  Berkley, June 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover and eBook, 576 pages
List Price:  $27.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425255711 (print)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Anita Blake has the highest kill count of any vampire executioner in the country. She’s a U.S. Marshal who can raise zombies with the best of them. But ever since she and master vampire Jean-Claude went public with their engagement, all she is to anyone and everyone is Jean-Claude’s fiancée.

It’s wreaking havoc with her reputation as a hard ass—to some extent. Luckily, in professional circles, she’s still the go-to expert for zombie issues. And right now, the FBI is having one hell of a zombie issue.

Someone is producing zombie porn. Anita has seen her share of freaky undead fetishes, so this shouldn’t bother her. But the women being victimized aren’t just mindless, rotting corpses. Their souls are trapped behind their eyes, signaling voodoo of the blackest kind.

It’s the sort of case that can leave a mark on a person. And Anita’s own soul may not survive unscathed . . .

Doreen’s Thoughts

Laurell K. Hamilton has been writing since the early 1980s, and Dead Ice is her twenty-fourth novel about Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. During these years, Anita has evolved from a fairly uptight young woman to someone who is involved in polyamory, intimate relationships with more than one other person. Some reviewers feel that since Hamilton started adding this element to her novels, they have become little more than erotica. However, Hamilton was one of the pioneers to combine mystery with the supernatural, and for years, I struggled to find her novels in the stacks as Horror, Mystery, or Fantasy, before someone developed the Urban Fantasy genre.

Dead Ice brings Anita back with a new mystery to solve and more relationship issues to negotiate. While not as tightly written as Affliction, Hamilton is still able to balance the mystery with the personal. This time, someone is making porn using zombies that still possess their souls, something that no one has been able to do since the initial novels. However, the Senora is dead and cannot be the one raising these zombies, and Anita is left to work with the FBI to try to find some clue as to who is performing this rite and how.

At the same time, on the home front, Anita has agreed to marry Jean-Claude, the master vampire of America, and hold a commitment ceremony with at least two of her other lovers, Nathaniel and Micah. However, in the shapeshifter community, there is a prophecy that in order to keep Marmee Darkness dead, Anita must enter into a relationship with one of the tiger shifters. Lastly, Asher continues to make trouble with his lovers and negotiates a relationship that threatens the hyena shifter politics.

Hamilton does a good job portraying some of the more mundane aspects of polyamory -- communication. Everyone involved in the relationship must negotiate and discuss every aspect of adding or deleting someone from the roster. Anita proves that it is a balancing act, and her feeling that she may be torn too much among too many seems a legitimate response for someone with this lifestyle. In addition, Hamilton discusses some of the intimate details of BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission, and roleplaying). As she did with all elements of her novels, she researched the lifestyle extensively before trying to write about it, and it appears that she has done her homework.

I would not recommend this novel (or indeed, any of the novels after Obsidian Butterfly) for anyone under the age of 16, because the sexual scenes in the book are fairly explicit for someone younger. However, I would recommend this series for anyone who is interested in equality, because Hamilton does well portraying individuals from all walks of life – bisexual, polyamorous, sociopathic, etc.

While I feel the relationship aspect was balanced with the mystery, I did think the mystery was solved a little abruptly, although I did see the foreshadowing from the beginning. While some might complain about the relationship aspect of the series, I appreciate it because I feel it more fully depicts Anita as a well-rounded human. I appreciate that she has evolved and grown over twenty-four years. While I sometimes have difficulty remembering the difference between Dev and Demon, it makes me sympathize with an individual who must have sex to feed a certain supernatural need. I still look forward to a new Anita Blake novel whenever they are published.

Review: Storm and Steel by Jon Sprunk

Storm and Steel
Author:  Jon Sprunk
Series:  The Book of the Black Earth 2
Publisher:  Pyr, June 2, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 515 pages
Price:  $18.00 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-63388-010-8 (print)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

An empire at war. Three fates intertwined.

The Magician. Horace has destroyed the Temple of the Sun, but now he finds his slave chains have been replaced by bonds of honor, duty, and love. Caught between two women and two cultures, he must contend with deadly forces from the unseen world.

The Rebel. Jirom has thrown in his lot with the slave uprising, but his road to freedom becomes ever more dangerous as the rebels expand their campaign against the empire. Even worse, he feels his connection with Emanon slipping away with every blow they strike in the name of freedom.

The Spy. Alyra has severed her ties to the underground network that brought her to Akeshia, but she continues the mission on her own. Yet, with Horace's connection to the queen and the rebellion's escalation of violence, she finds herself treading a knife's edge between love and duty.

Dark conspiracies bubble to the surface as war and zealotry spread across the empire. Old alliances are shattered, new vendettas are born, and all peoples-citizen and slave alike-must endure the ravages of storm and steel.

Brannigan's Review

Storm and Steel is the second book in a gritty fantasy series by Jon Sprunk. Like the first book, the story takes place in a North African-like setting, with plenty of desert scenery. The Akeshian Empire has hints of Egyptian and Babylonian cultural influences. Much like the first book, I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Overall, the plot is well developed and I enjoyed what he put his characters through and how the world building continues to expand. I even liked the few deaths that occurred and felt they helped give a sense of doom to the story.

Two of the areas I feel Sprunk shines in are character development and story pacing. There is some great character development in this second book. The love triangle that was hinted at in the first book is thankfully gone while there is still plenty of romantic tension between the three main characters and their love interests.

One aspect of the character development that I felt Sprunk dropped the ball on was Horace's magical ability. I praised him in the first book by taking it slow and not allowing the hero to develop into a master magician. However, now after reading the second book and seeing Horace continue to seem to have no clue on how to use his magical gift, I'm getting annoyed. He doesn't need to be a master at the arts, but it would be nice if he understood how to control and use his magic with more confidence. I feel like by dragging this one out Sprunk is making Horace turn into a dunce.

I also feel the pacing in the story could use some help. I usually love how Sprunk sprinkles in enough action to keep me reading and excited in between the slower introspective periods, but the beginning of the book just dragged along far too slowly for me. The end is great classic Sprunk, but it seemed a little too late in the game.

Storm and Steel falls flat for me in what was a promising new series. I'm still invested in the characters and the overall plot of the series to read the next book, but I hope the pacing is faster and Horace finally figures out how to use his powers. If you've already read the first book and liked it, I would say continue on with the series as the characters are still great. But, if you haven't started the series, I'd wait to see how book three turns out. Due to the violence, use of adult language and sexual situations, I would recommend it to adults.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Interview with Sam Munson - June 26, 2015

Please welcome Sam Munson to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The War Against the Assholes was published on June 16th by Saga Press.

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

Sam:  Thanks for having me. I started – I think – in first grade, when I was assigned to write a holiday poem of some kind. Under the compulsion of state and society, in other words.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Sam:  I have never heard those terms before. If they mean what I think they mean, I’d in all honesty have to describe myself as a sleepwalker or stumbler. I think at least some readers will know what I mean, here.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sam:  Talking about it. Whenever I open my mouth, I get nervous. It seems to verge on violating a taboo.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Sam:  I don’t want to say that I am influenced by this or that writer, because I think that’s arrogant – claiming to be influenced by Tolstoy, for example, is effectively claiming that your work resembles his – but there are many writers I love. Most of them are Russian or Central European. In immediate private impact, The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil ranks first for me.

TQDescribe The War Against the Assholes in 140 characters or less.

Sam:  The book for everyone who ever wanted to punch Harry Potter in the face.

TQTell us something about The War Against the Assholes that is not found in the book description.

Sam:  At least four of the characters would be diagnosed as sociopaths if they ever found themselves in the hands of our psychoanalytical establishment. Which four? That’s the trouble with sociopathy: its adeptness at camouflage.

TQWhat inspired you to write The War Against the Assholes? What appealed to you about writing a contemporary fantasy?

Sam:  I discovered, via a coworker, the existence of a book called THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE, which is a manual -- the manual, really -- of legerdemain. And I had always wanted to write a fantasy novel. Though I object to the distinction as a little specious: novels are fantastic by definition, and verisimilar ones the most fantastic of all.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The War Against the Assholes?

Sam:  Ashamed as I am to say it, I did very little – I read THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE. Beyond that, nothing really.

TQWhich question about your The War Against the Assholes do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Sam:  Will it stop a bullet? Possibly, but don’t hold me to that.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The War Against the Assholes.

Sam:  Endurance equals greatness.

TQWhat's next?

Sam:  I wish I knew. Then again, maybe I’m fortunate not to – it might be massive and humiliating failure. But my first novel, THE NOVEMBER CRIMINALS, is (I am happy to say) being re-issued this fall. I don’t know if that counts as “next” or as eternal recurrence, but . . .

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The War Against the Assholes
Saga Press, June 16, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
(Debut Fantasy)

Contemporary fantasy meets true crime when schools of ancient sorcery go up against the art of the long con in this stunningly entertaining debut fantasy novel.

Mike Wood is satisfied just being a guy with broad shoulders at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan. But on the dirty streets of New York City he’s an everyman with a moral code who is unafraid of violence. And when Mike is unwittingly recruited into a secret cell of magicians by a fellow student, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. These magicians don’t use ritualized rote to work their magic, they use willpower in their clandestine war with the establishment: The Assholes.

About Sam

Sam Munson’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The National, The Daily Beast, Commentary, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Observer, The Utopian, n+1, Tablet, and numerous other publications. He is also the author of The November Criminals, soon to be a motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Ansel Elgort.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guest Blog by JG Faherty - A Discussion of Horror? - June 25, 2015

Please welcome JG Faherty to The Qwillery. I had the pleasure of meeting JG at BEA in May. I'm thrilled that he's sharing his thoughts on what is horror with us today.

JG's most recent novel is The Cure and most recent novella is Winterwood both published on May 5, 2015 by Samhain Publishing.

A Discussion of Horror?
Guest post by JG Faherty

I write horror. At least, that's what I tell most people, and that's how I tend to get categorized. Of course, like most writers, I do more than that. I write science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and pieces that fall into various sub-categories such as paranormal romance, paranormal erotica, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, weird fiction... the list, like the possibilities for stories, is probably endless.

Being labeled a horror writer – or any other kind of writer, comes with built-in advantageous and disadvantages. Genres have ready-made target audiences, but the various terms can also push away potential readers with a pre-cast prejudice. "Horror? Oh, that's all blood and guts. I don't like that." "Paranormal romance? Oh, that's for girls." "Science fiction? No, I like stuff with more adventure."

Which leads me to the idea of definitions, and back to the title of this blog. What is horror? Perhaps if more people understood the term they'd be more apt to browse some titles and see that there's plenty under that umbrella to pique their interest.

For me, horror encompasses anything that is "dark fiction." Pieces of writing that exist to create a sense of fear, unease, terror, or just plain chills in the reader. Horror isn't just entrails flopping on the ground, nor is ghosts wafting across a darkened moors or a possessed child spouting bad language and last night's dinner with equal ease. Horror is a feeling, or perhaps a set of feelings, and they are not beholden to any one category of fiction. Which is why my go-to term, dark fiction, is more accurate. You can think of it as books meant to be read in the dark, or books that have a dark tone, or books that involve dark acts and creatures of the dark.

Dark fiction also allows for the inclusion of other genres, which is appropriate. Just because something is sci-fi or fantasy or gothic doesn't mean it can't be dark. And by dark I am referring to things worse than criminal activities. I discuss this with parents, librarians, and teachers all the time, especially when I hear "I don't read horror." Or "I don't want my kids to read horror." The truth is, you do. And they do. Don't believe me? Look at these examples:

Frankenstein: Technically, it's as much science fiction as it is horror.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Either science fiction or early steampunk, your choice. But the horror aspects – giant squid, murder, mysterious dangers – are all there as well.
Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Time Machine – both a mix of sci-fi and horror. Same goes for the Invisible Man and old Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.
Dracula: A classic gothic romance with a vampire tossed in to change things around.
A Christmas Carol – ghosts, ghosts, and more ghosts. Maybe the first urban fantasy?
The Grimm fairy tales – you must be kidding. Cannibalism, torture, monsters... horror at its very best.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Many of what we today call 'classics' are in some part – if not all – horror. Yet we don't classify them that way. They are 'fiction.' They are 'gothic.' They are 'children's tales.' It demonstrates how there once was a time when we didn't need so many labels. It was all just fiction, and you called it for what it was: scary fiction, romantic fiction, adventure, etc. But descriptions turned into labels, and then labels into categories in book stores, and categories begat sub-categories... and now we're stuck with so many sub-genres that it can be overwhelming when searching Amazon for a book, or discussing your favorite kind of story with someone.

Lots of readers like the idea of specific labels, because they have a certain type of fiction they prefer to read, any searching online for those types of books is a lot easier when you can turn to ready-made, corporate-approved labeling. You like Twilight? Young adult paranormal romance is for you. The Harry Dresden books? Check out all our urban fantasy titles. Soldiers hunting werewolves? Military paranormal horror is your safe place. And so on.

Yes, it makes things easier when you want to buy a book. But it also hinders the joy of finding new things to read, of expanding your horizons. Remember when you would go into the local bookstore and the only labels they had were Science Fiction and Horror? You never knew what you'd find, and you often had to search both categories because sometimes things got classified oddly. (I'll never understand why my local Barnes & Noble back in the 1990s always put the Saberhagen Dracula books in the sci fi section.) You would look at all the titles, examine the covers of anything that looked interesting, and maybe walk out with something new to try. A ghost story instead of vampires. An unknown writer instead of King or Straub. Some stores even dropped the horror category altogether and just placed them in Fiction. Part marketing strategy as horror bottomed out, but also weirdly accurate. Because it's all just fiction.

Let's take my most recent novel The Cure as an example. In the 1980s or 1990s, it would have sat on a shelf mixed in with all the other horror novels, right between Dennis Etchison and John Farris (not a bad place to be, am I right?). The story of a woman who has the power to both cure people or kill them just by touching them. But she can't control it. Now her life is in ruins and she's on the run from the government and two criminal organizations. And all the while, this power is growing. Changing.

Now, however, I can't just market it as horror. Because there are whole subsets of readers who wouldn't bother to look at the back cover and see what the book is about. So I also market it as a paranormal thriller and as a story about a woman's retribution against the people who've abused and wronged her.

And what about my other books? They run the gamut of subcategories:
Carnival of Fear: classic monster horror
The Burning Time: Southern Gothic
Cemetery Club: Zombies
Cult of the Black Jaguar: Supernatural Pulp Fiction
Legacy: Lovecraftian quiet terror
Fatal Consequences: Ghost story
Thief of Souls: Suspense/Revenge, with a twist of supernatural
Castle by the Sea: Gothic tragedy
Winterwood: Fairy Tale

And my short stories – science fiction, sword and sorcery, mysteries, thrillers, weird fiction.

All of it with a dark twist, to be sure (although I've done some humorous horror as well), but nevertheless not traditional 'horror' as most people think of it. Just plain old fiction.

That's why my business card doesn't say Horror Author. It reads: JG Faherty, author of Dark Fiction, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy. Cover all the bases, that's my motto.

So now let's get ready for comments.

What does horror mean to you? And how should it be labeled?

*My thanks to Sally and The Qwillery for having me on!)

The Cure
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 264 pages

She was born with the power to cure. Now she’s developed the power to kill.

Leah DeGarmo has the power to cure with just a touch. But with her gift comes a dark side: Whatever she takes in she has to pass on, or suffer it herself. Now a sadistic criminal has discovered what she can do and he’ll stop at nothing to control her. He makes a mistake, though, when he kills the man she loves, triggering a rage inside her that releases a new power she didn’t know she had: the ability to kill. Transformed into a demon of retribution, Leah resurrects her lover and embarks on a mission to destroy her enemies. The only question is, does she control her power or does it control her?

Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015

You’d better watch out!

No one in Anders Bach’s family believed his old tales of Winterwood, a place where Krampus and his Wild Hunt rule a frozen land and where bad children don’t get coal for Christmas, they get baked into pies or forced into slavery. But now the Yule Lads have kidnapped Anders’s grandsons, and he has to rescue them before they’re lost forever. Anders and his daughter must cross the divide between worlds and enter Winterwood, where evil holds sway and even the reindeer have a taste for human flesh. By the time the sun rises, they’ll learn the awful truth about Winterwood: there is no escape without sacrifice.

About JG Faherty

JG Faherty is the Bram Stoker Award®- and Thriller Award-nominated author of five novels, including his most recent, The Cure, seven novellas, and more than 50 short stories. He writes adult and YA horror/sci-fi/fantasy, and his works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness. You can follow him at twitter.com/jgfaherty, www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, and http://jgfaherty-blog.blogspot.com/