Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cover Reveal - Regeneration by Stephanie Saulter

No Whitewashing! Author Input! – A Good Cover Design Story

To celebrate Regeneration’s US cover reveal, I thought I’d tell you a story. A true story this time, and like many truths, one that confounds conventional wisdom – in this case, the oft-repeated tale of woe in which an unapproachable and unaccountable publishing behemoth slaps an unrepresentative (or just boringly generic) cover onto a book and sends it out into the world, insensitive either to the text or to the opinion of the person who wrote it.

Sadly, we’re not talking urban legend here: this does happen. Even famous, best-selling authors bemoan having no input, nor even seeing their covers before they’re published. Sometimes, when the wrongness of what they’ve done hits a particularly frayed public nerve, the resulting furore becomes fierce enough to force a change on the part of the publisher. But the conventional wisdom remains that authors, as a matter of course, have no say in how their books are packaged.

Here’s the thing: while this may be often (and appallingly) true, it’s by no means universal; and it does a disservice to the publishers who do work with and listen to their authors to tar them with the same brush. Despite being neither famous nor best-selling (yet, they insist, just not yet), my publishers have always shown me my covers as works-in-progress. They have always asked for my feedback, and I’ve never been ignored. It’s been my experience through six covers now: the UK and US editions of Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration, published by Quercus Imprint, Jo Fletcher Books in both markets (although the two series wound up looking quite different to each other).

Never has this spirit of enthusiastic, respectful collaboration been more evident, or more important, than in developing the US cover for Regeneration. It was the first time that I found myself not just suggesting tweaks to an image that I was basically OK with, but having to explain what was wrong with it and asking for it to be significantly reworked. Now that the final happy result has been revealed to the world, I want to share the story of its evolution from that somewhat shaky beginning. I pitched the idea to Quercus, who have very kindly agreed. We both think it’s important to demonstrate how things are done when they’re done well. And to tell more than one kind of story.

The following is lifted largely from our email correspondence, with some additional context from Quercus on how they approached the cover and responded to my comments.


Designing the US cover for Regeneration, the final book of the ®Evolution trilogy

The US covers for Gemsigns and Binary

Round 1

Quercus’ original idea:

We were lucky to have the same cover designer, Daniel Rembert work on Gemsigns, Binary and now Regeneration. We have been very conscious of wanting all three covers to be coordinated so that the sense of a trilogy would be recognizable. There are several dynamic plotlines to pick from, but we chose to focus on the gillungs’ story – as it directly reflects the progression of the gems from chattel fighting for their rights, to better integrated members of society, to community leaders and innovators. We wanted the image to be underwater but to convey the idea of the quantum battery technology and its use as a power source.

Quercus initially approached Stephanie with the below first cover ideas for Regeneration:

Stephanie’s original thoughts:

“These are beautiful as a picture, but: why is the central image of a naked nubile female? And: who is she supposed to be? The only teenage gillung woman in the text is Agwé, and Agwé is black. So if it’s meant to be Agwé it needs to look like Agwé, which means properly dark skin and CLOTHING. But much as I love her — and believe me, my soul would soar at the sight of beautiful black Agwé with her glowing green hair and cherry-red bodysuit as the cover image — she’s very much a secondary character, so I’m not sure why she’d be the cover? That suggests a YA novel. And she certainly wouldn’t be in such a passive pose, none of them would. If we’re going to do a gillung underwater against a turbine they should look more engaged, more dynamic.

“I think part of what’s thrown me as well is that this composition is such a departure from the Gemsigns and Binary covers, which had been developing a motif that I really liked: the raised arms/ fist, the crowd of people, the sense of an engaged urban community. Regeneration continues that whole theme of the collective and the communal, and brings it to a climax with the intersections of family, friends, workmates etc.

“(I’ve lost a bet with myself; I thought it might be an underwater viewpoint, but looking up through the water at the quayside crowded with people and the huge egg-shaped Thames Tidal building rising up alongside. Something that, when the reader got to the penultimate chapter with Gabriel desperately trying to get people to leave, they’d look back at the cover and go ah-ha! …Not saying it should be that, mind, it just seemed like it would be an obvious continuation of the motif.)”

Quercus’ cover design team went back to the drawing board with Stephanie’s suggestions in mind.

Round 2

Quercus’ thoughts:

“Stephanie provides fantastic, detailed feedback and we went back to the designer with it. We have been back and forth with the designer about these covers from the very beginning, so it’s no surprise that the first interpretation wasn’t quite right.

Featuring a gillung is essential, we agree, and I think the color palette here is good—figuring out how to pull off the composition in a way that captures the same sense of dynamism and community focus as the previous cover designs is just part of the challenge. We were not feeling 100% about the main figure (if we were to use her, our designer would definitely need to finesse some of the detailing with the wet suit and the skin tone but we really loved the general composition/direction.”

Stephanie’s thoughts:

“I too much prefer the overall direction of this composition, and in general I like the first image, with the central figure rising vertically and purposefully, best of all. The background figures are better in this as well; in the others it’s not clear whether they’re swimming or drowning, but in the first one it’s pretty evident they are all in their element. However I also like the fact that more of the topside buildings are visible in the second image; it sort of contextualises the swimmers. So I don’t know if it’s possible to maintain that general upward thrust of the figures in the first image while having more of the buildings from the second image as well? (I realise part of this also has to do with where the title sits on the cover, and the designer will no doubt play around with that far more efficiently than I can visualise it!)”

“As for the central figure, yes she’d need to be a bit darker and more detailed. I’d love her to be a teeny bit curvier and her hair a bit more cloud-like. The main thing to remember about the gillungs’ physicality — apart from skin tone — is that they are powerful people. This is a very subtle thing; I don’t mean to suggest that they should be large or blocky, but if you think of any aquatic mammal from otters to whales, there is a sort of muscular solidity about them.”

“You said you’re not 100% certain about the main figure; are you thinking about alternatives? Who/ what would you use instead? Because it does need a strong central component, I think, and at the moment she’s it …”

Round Three:

Quercus’ thoughts:

“We are always grateful for Stephanie’s very helpful and comprehensive feedback. Our designer has incorporated some of these tweaks. The differences are subtle but effective.”

Stephanie’s thoughts:

“I really like this, and I think it does the job well — it’s both attractive and accurate, if you know what I mean. Holding the earlier two covers up to look at all three in a row, it’s clear that although the images are different from each other they are thematically related, having a sort of family resemblance — the altered human figure against a crowded urban backdrop, the sense of energy and urgency. I like the cover itself, but also the sense of a continuum.”

The final cover:

Available in bookstores and online, May 2016!

Daniel Rembert's design work can be found at

Click each cover to see it full-sized.

A Peek at "A Whole-Hearted Halfling" by Melanie R. Meadors

The Qwillery is thrilled to exclusively share with you the first page of Melanie R. Meadors story, "A Whole-Hearted Halfling", which will be published in Champions of Aetaltis on April 12th!

[click to really embiggen!]

Champions of Aetaltis
Mechanical Muse, April 12, 2016
Trade Paperback, 480 pages

More than three hundred years have passed since the fall of the Atlan Alliance, and the people of Aetaltis have finally brought order to their fractured world. Fledgling nations have grown into powerful kingdoms, thriving merchant states have re-established old trade routes, and the priests of the Enaros have rebuilt their great temples.

But in this time of hope, the shadow of an ancient evil has emerged from the darkness to threaten the world once again.

Discover a new world of adventure in this collection of pulse-pounding stories written by some of the greatest fantasy authors alive. From the vine enshrouded ruins of a lost jungle temple to the seedy back alleys of the villainous city of Port Vale, experience the thrill of heroic fantasy with these gripping tales of action and adventure.
PreOrder - Amazon

About Melanie

A writer of speculative fiction and lover of geeky things, Melanie R. Meadors lives in a one hundred-year-old house in central Massachusetts full of quirks and surprises. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion.

Melanie studied Physics and Astronomy at Northern Arizona University, and uses her education to a surprising degree in her writing. Her short fiction has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. She is a freelance publicist, publicity coordinator for Ragnarok Publications, and the Marketing and Publicity Specialist at Mechanical Muse. She blogs at GeekMom and the Once and Future Podcast. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Interview with Alan Smale, author of the The Clash of Eagles Trilogy

Please welcome Alan Smale to The Qwillery. Eagle in Exile, the second novel in The Clash of Eagles Trilogy, was published on March 22nd by Del Rey.

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Eagle in Exile (The Clash of Eagles Trilogy 2), was published on March 22nd. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Clash of Eagles to Eagle in Exile?

Alan:  It’s changed a lot. Writing Clash of Eagles was quite a gentle, meandering process. I took my time with it and enjoyed playing with the story, feeling it out and figuring out where I wanted it to go, trying out ideas and discarding some, taking the strongest themes and reworking them. Then once I got an agent (the terrific Caitlin Blasdell from Liza Dawson Associates) and editor (the equally awesome Mike Braff at Penguin Random House) I worked on it some more to tighten it up and improve pacing, make character arcs more consistent, and so forth. And during all of this I was also planning out the future volumes in the series. Even before I started Eagle in Exile I had already done the major structural thinking for both the second and third books, but I had to write them to a deadline. So I was much more focused when I was writing Eagle in Exile. I did still sometimes career down blind alleys and produce large gobs of text that had to be discarded or reworked, but overall I was much sharper and better organized.

I’ve just finished the third book, Eagle and Empire, and that was different again: I wrote it more quickly and in a more assured way, because by now I know the characters inside and out and it often felt as if they were speaking for themselves. There were scenes in Books Two and Three that I’d been waiting years to write, and I loved getting to them at last.

Another, shorter answer is that I’m better at the craft now. I’m essentially the same writer, but these days there are things I handle automatically in my first draft that in the past I’d have only thought to fix in the edit.

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Clash of Eagles came out that you know now?

Alan:  How supportive everyone was going to be. Before the launch of Clash I had a lot of fear. I really didn’t know what it was going to be like, but most everyone I came into contact with – editors, publicists, and especially readers – were helpful, friendly, interested. I guess they’re a self-selecting population, and I don’t tend to hear from the people who don’t care for my kind of fiction. I do get some critical emails from time to time, but even those are framed politely.

And other writers are awesome. I don’t know how it is in other genres, but in the science fiction and fantasy fields, authors are incredibly supportive. We’re collegial rather than competitive. We’re all in it together. Everyone celebrates everyone else’s successes, and that’s as true for the established authors who’ve been around forty years as it is for the new folks who are making their debuts. It’s a great community.

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

Alan:  I do think the cover copy is great on both Clash of Eagles and Eagle in Exile. I’ll confess that I didn’t know how Del Rey was going to pull it off, but they did. They get right to the core of the story and present it in the most exciting way possible, without being too spoilery.

What’s not so easy to do in cover copy is explore subtlety and nuance. Amidst all the battles and action and derring-do, my hero Gaius Marcellinus has to navigate his way through a series of tricky moral and emotional situations. He’s a Roman, and he’s sworn to never raise a sword against an army of Rome. He’s not a man to cast aside his heritage and his oaths just because he’s made some new allegiances. And yet, Rome will once again invade North America. How does Marcellinus deal with that? His whole life is a high-wire act, and the difficulties and uncertainties exist at the personal level with his friends – and enemies – in Cahokia as well as at the large-scale, world-spanning level described in the cover copy.

TQWhich character in the The Clash of Eagles Trilogy series (so far) surprised you the most and why? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Alan:  The biggest surprise was Enopay. When Marcellinus first arrives in Cahokia its paramount chief, Great Sun Man, assigns three children to learn his language. Children soak up languages more quickly than adults, so it’s a smart move on his part. But those children grew in ways I wasn’t quite expecting. By the second book, one of them has reached adulthood. By the final volume two are essentially adult and the third – Enopay – has become far more pivotal to the story than I thought he would. When I hear Tahtay, Kimimela, and Enopay in my head they each have very distinctive voices and attitudes, and they don’t necessarily get along well together. They’re solid and opinionated characters in their own right. But Enopay’s development, and his importance, were things that I didn’t quite see coming, even when I finished writing the first book.

I suppose Sintikala is the most difficult person to write. After Marcellinus she’s the most important character, but we’re in close point-of-view on Marcellinus throughout. We never see into Sintikala’s head. All we know about her is what Marcellinus knows, plus what we can intuit from her actions and words. There’s a lot going on that Marcellinus is oblivious to, but that the reader needs to be aware of. Sometimes Sintikala’s actions surprise Marcellinus, but they need to be believable to the reader. That can be tricky.

TQ:   The Clash of Eagles Trilogy series is Historical Fantasy and Alternative History. Why did you chose the Roman Empire as the historical basis for your trilogy?

Alan:  It was a very fast decision. As soon as I knew that I wanted to write about the great Mississippian city of Cahokia, I realized I needed an outsider to serve as the reader’s eyes and ears. I needed a culture clash to throw everything into sharp relief. And somehow it was apparent to me right away that the invading culture had to be Rome. A Roman invasion of North America would look very different to the Spanish, French, or British incursions we know from our own history, but would cast an interesting new light on them. Rome would be an imperial, annexing culture, but the process would be completely different. I knew that that “the Roman Empire invades North America” was the elevator pitch, and that I had to write it, even if nobody else ever read it. It was what I wanted to do. It was what I cared about.

TQ:   Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Eagle in Exile.


        [Sintikala] turned on him, eyes flaring. “Can I not? You do not remember what I told you? When my husband was killed, when he needed me most, I was not with him, I was not there. Today-now, once again I was in the wrong place. Not there. It is my life, to never be there. To fail. And then men die. Men die.”

        Hurit looked worried. “If he keeps wandering around by himself, a bear will eat him.”
“Eat Tahtay?” Dustu snorted. “Tahtay is so bitter that the bear would spit him right out again.”

        “Just because you argued with your girlfriend, there’s no need to fall on your sword.”

        “Please step back, [name]. I would not want you to slip and accidentally slay Gaius Marcellinus before he has run out of ways to entertain me.”

TQIf you could have dinner with three deceased historical figures who would they be and why?

Alan:  I’d be really interested to meet Julius Caesar, Napoleon, and Adolf Hitler, but I certainly wouldn’t want to eat a meal with them. There’s been so much written about each of those terrible historical figures that it’s impossible to envision the human being inside any more. I do wonder what they were like as people. I’d like to know whether they sound smart in conversation, whether they’d seem charismatic at all when removed from their time, or whether they’d just come off as dreadful, banal, hateful, manipulative, and small-minded. I feel that I might understand some of the pivot points of history better as a result.

But not for dinner. It would be a really terrible dinner, and I’d have to scrub my brain with bleach afterwards.

For dinner I’d probably go with the Emperor Augustus, Shakespeare, and Leonardo da Vinci, because it would be so much fun to explore their minds and hear their stories. It would have to be a very long Roman-style dinner with multiple courses, so Augustus would be in charge of the catering.

If you did give me a time machine, though, there would be lots of other dining possibilities, and I might have to think for longer. Aristotle. Alexander the Great. Elizabeth I. Cleopatra. Teddy Roosevelt. They’d all be fascinating dinner companions. It’s an almost impossible question.

TQWhat's next?

Alan:  A short answer for once: I don’t know! I’m sure there will be a series of edits on the third book, Eagle and Empire, and more publicity work for the trilogy as a whole. But I don’t have my next book project all outlined and researched and ready to jump into. I have ideas brewing, but they’ll take a while longer to come into focus.

I may work on shorter fiction for a while, exploring some of those brewing themes. And I’ll read. A lot. Over the last couple of years, the day job and the writing deadlines haven’t left a whole lot of time for reading fiction, so that’s the area I’ve been seriously neglecting. I have a huge pile of SF to read, some of it by friends of mine – and yes, it’s very cool to be able to say that! I’m looking forward to diving in.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alan:  Thank you for having me!

Eagle in Exile
The Clash of Eagles Trilogy Book II
Del Rey, March 22, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 576 pages

Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Steve Berry, Naomi Novik, and Harry Turtledove, Alan Smale’s gripping alternate history series imagines a world in which the Roman Empire has survived long enough to invade North America in 1218. Now the stunning story carries hero Gaius Marcellinus deeper into the culture of an extraordinary people—whose humanity, bravery, love, and ingenuity forever change his life and destiny.

In A.D. 1218, Praetor Gaius Marcellinus is ordered to conquer North America and turning it into a Roman province. But outside the walls of the great city of Cahokia, his legion is destroyed outright; Marcellinus is the only one spared. In the months and years that follow, Marcellinus comes to see North America as his home and the Cahokians as his kin. He vows to defend these proud people from any threat, Roman or native.

After successfully repelling an invasion by the fearsome Iroqua tribes, Marcellinus realizes that a weak and fractured North America won’t stand a chance against the returning Roman army. Worse, rival factions from within threaten to tear Cahokia apart just when it needs to be most united and strong. Marcellinus is determined to save the civilization that has come to mean more to him than the empire he once served. But to survive the swords of Roma, he first must avert another Iroqua attack and bring the Cahokia together. Only with the hearts and souls of a nation at his back can Marcellinus hope to know triumph.


Clash of Eagles
The Clash of Eagles Trilogy Book I
Del Rey, September 1, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 17, 2015

Perfect for fans of action-adventure and historical fiction—including novels by such authors as Bernard Cornwell, Steve Berry, Naomi Novik, and Harry Turtledove—this stunning work of alternate history imagines a world in which the Roman Empire has not fallen and the North American continent has just been discovered. In the year 1218 AD, transported by Norse longboats, a Roman legion crosses the great ocean, enters an endless wilderness, and faces a cataclysmic clash of worlds, cultures, and warriors.

Ever hungry for land and gold, the Emperor has sent Praetor Gaius Marcellinus and the 33rd Roman Legion into the newly discovered lands of North America. Marcellinus and his men expect easy victory over the native inhabitants, but on the shores of a vast river the Legion clashes with a unique civilization armed with weapons and strategies no Roman has ever imagined.

Forced to watch his vaunted force massacred by a surprisingly tenacious enemy, Marcellinus is spared by his captors and kept alive for his military knowledge. As he recovers and learns more about these proud people, he can’t help but be drawn into their society, forming an uneasy friendship with the denizens of the city-state of Cahokia. But threats—both Roman and Native—promise to assail his newfound kin, and Marcellinus will struggle to keep the peace while the rest of the continent surges toward certain conflict.

About Alan

Alan Smale grew up in Yorkshire, England, and now lives in the Washington, D.C., area. By day he works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as a professional astronomer, studying black holes, neutron stars, and other bizarre celestial objects. However, too many family vacations at Hadrian’s Wall in his formative years plus a couple of degrees from Oxford took their toll, steering his writing toward alternate, secret, and generally twisted history. He has sold numerous short stories to magazines including Asimov’s and Realms of Fantasy, and he won the 2010 Sidewise Award for Best Short-Form Alternate History.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @AlanSmale

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Ghosts of Bergen County by Dana Cann

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

Dana Cann

Ghosts of Bergen County
Tin House Books, April 25, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

Set in New York City and New Jersey on the cusp of the financial crisis, Ghosts of Bergen County is a literary mystery with supernatural elements.

Gil Ferko is a private-equity lieutenant who commutes to Manhattan from the New Jersey suburbs. His wife, Mary Beth, has become a shut-in since a hit-and-run accident killed their infant daughter. When Ferko reconnects with Jen Yoder, a former high school classmate, Jen introduces him to heroin. As his dependency on the drug grows, his downward spiral puts his life in danger and his career in jeopardy. Mary Beth has also found an escape―first in prescription drugs that numb her senses, then in the companionship of a mysterious girl who heightens them. A ghost? Mary Beth believes so. And Jen is also haunted. Years ago she witnessed a man she had just met fall from a rooftop. She walked away from the accident and has been haunted since by the question of why she did so. As her quest to rectify that mistake starts to collide with the mystery of the hit-and-run driver who killed Ferko and Mary Beth’s daughter, all of the characters are forced to face the fine line between fate and happenstance. Dana Cann’s debut novel is a tautly paced and intricately plotted story in which collective burdens manifest into hauntings.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

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

Julie McElwain

A Murder in Time
Pegasus, April 11, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

When brilliant FBI agent Kendra Donovan stumbles back in time and finds herself in a 19th century English castle under threat from a vicious serial killer, she scrambles to solve the case before it takes her life—200 years before she was even born.

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place - Aldrich Castle - but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady's maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there's some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

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

Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants
Del Rey, April 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Thirst by Benjamin Warner

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

Benjamin Warner

Bloomsbury USA, April 12, 2016
Hardcover and eBook,304 pages

On a searing summer Friday, Eddie Chapman has been stuck for hours in a traffic jam. There are accidents along the highway, but ambulances and police are conspicuously absent. When he decides to abandon his car and run home, he sees that the trees along the edge of a stream have been burnt, and the water in the streambed is gone. Something is very wrong.

When he arrives home, the power is out and there is no running water. The pipes everywhere, it seems, have gone dry. Eddie and his wife, Laura, find themselves thrust together with their neighbors while a sense of unease thickens in the stifling night air.

takes place in the immediate aftermath of a mysterious disaster--the Chapmans and their neighbors suffer the effects of the heat, their thirst, and the terrifying realization that no one is coming to help. As violence rips through the community, Eddie and Laura are forced to recall secrets from their past and question their present humanity. In crisp and convincing prose, Ben Warner compels readers to do the same. What might you do to survive?

Book Trailer: A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell

In A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell, Falco, a young man from the country, arrives in the port city of Tardocco with the ambition of becoming an apprentice to a master shadow thief.

Maestro Astolfo, whose mysterious powers of observation would rival those of Sherlock Holmes, sees Falco’s potential and puts him through a grueling series of physical lessons and intellectual tests. Falco’s adventures coalesce into one overarching story of con men, monsters, ingenious detection, cats, and pirates.

Read an excerpt from A Shadow All of Light.

A Shadow All of Light
Tor Books, April 12, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Fred Chappell's A Shadow All of Light, a stylish, episodic fantasy novel, follows the exploits of Falco, a young man from the country, who arrives in the port city of Tardocco with the ambition of becoming an apprentice to a master shadow thief. Maestro Astolfo, whose mysterious powers of observation would rival those of Sherlock Holmes, sees Falco's potential and puts him through a grueling series of physical lessons and intellectual tests.

Falco's adventures coalesce into one overarching story of con men, monsters, ingenious detection, cats, and pirates. A wry humor leavens this fantastical concoction, and the style is as rich and textured as one would hope for from Chappell, a distinguished poet as well as a World Fantasy Award-winning fantasy writer.

About Fred

FRED CHAPPELL is an author, poet, and former professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997 to 2002. His 1968 novel Dagon was named the Best Foreign Book of the Year by the Académie Française. Chappell's literary awards include the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Prix de Meilleur des Livres Etrangers, the Bollingen Prize, and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He has also won two World Fantasy Awards.





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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Guest Blog by Linda Reilly plus Review and Giveaway of Out of the Dying Pan

Please welcome Linda Reilly to The Qwillery. Out of the Dying Pan, the 2nd novel in the Deep Fried Mysteries, was published on March 1st by Berkley.

One of the things I love to do is to poke around at a crafts fair. Whether it’s to snag a hand-made gift for the holiday, buy a whimsical pin, or pick up an herb packet from which to make a tasty dip, I find that spending an hour or so at a local crafts event really sparks my creative side.

Out of the Dying Pan, the second book in the Deep Fried mystery series, gave me the perfect opportunity to feature a crafts fair of sorts. Talia Marby, the newly-minted owner of Fry Me a Sliver, has volunteered to sell squares of deep-fried marble cake drizzled with raspberry sauce at the Town of Wrensdale’s annual fundraiser. Armed with a portable deep fryer, she sets up shop in a corner of the community center’s gymnasium, right next to a vintage accessories booth. While the delectable scent of Talia’s deep-fried cakes fills the air, unfriendly vibes drift over from the adjoining booth. Talia can’t imagine why Ria, the woman selling the vintage items, keeps throwing hateful looks at her. Talia doesn’t even know the woman! Then Talia spies a familiar scarf on one of Ria’s displays—it was the very scarf Talia had knitted for her nana eons ago. But how did Ria get her nana’s scarf? Talia tries to buy it, but is soundly snubbed. When Talia later stumbles upon Ria’s body, the scarf knotted around Ria’s slender neck, she catapults to the top of the suspect list. She later learns that the scarf was stained with telltale raspberry sauce . . .

I’m happy to report that I’ve never tripped over a body at a crafts fair. This past December I attended a huge crafts event that had all my favorites – glassware, pottery, baked goods (can’t go without those), and yes . . . knitted scarves. At one booth, a woman was selling gorgeous greeting cards. One set of cards in particular depicted forest animals lining up to visit an adorable Santa figure. It gave me an idea. I purchased the cards, which were blank inside. On my computer, I typed my own holiday greeting in red ink and printed out a bunch of them. Using a tiny paper cutter, I trimmed my holiday message to fit inside each card. A swipe across the top with a glue stick ensured that it would stay in place. What I loved about creating my own holiday message was that I could change the greeting, or even the font, to suit the recipient. Not only was this a fun project, but it gave me a way to personalize each of my cards.

So tell me, are you crafty? Have you ever set up a table at a crafts fair? I love hearing about readers’ creative pursuits!

Out of the Dying Pan
Series:  Deep Fried Mystery 2
Publisher:  Berkley, March 1, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print and digital)
ISBN:  9780425274149 (print); 9780698154889 (digital)

Revenge is set to sizzle in the tasty new Deep Fried Mystery from the author of Fillet of Murder.

For Talia Marby, the sweet smell of success is a lot like the pungent aroma of fried fish and vinegar. Her new business, Fry Me a Sliver, is rapidly expanding beyond fish and chips to become one of the best eateries in the Berkshires. But the nasty owner of a neighboring boutique is making a stink, baiting Talia in a very public fight at a community center fundraiser and nursing an inexplicable grudge.

When the boutique owner is found strangled with Talia’s scarf knotted around her neck, our favorite fish fryer finds herself in hot oil. Needing to clear her name, and fast, Talia’s investigation soon yields some shocking surprises as well as a sizzling suspicion: someone had good reason to want the victim dead—and it’s frying Talia’s nerves…

Includes delicious recipes!

Jennifer's Review

The second installment of Linda Reilly’s Deep Fried Mystery Series is entitled Out of the Dying Pan and picks up soon after the debut novel, Fillet of Murder, left off. Talia Marby is the new proprietor of Fry Me a Sliver, a small town comfort food eatery specializing in all things deep fried, nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Things are going well for Talia, with the usual bumps of starting a new business, when she again finds herself unwillingly involved in another murder mystery.

Talia never imagined herself being a restaurateur, but is enthusiastic about the turn her life has taken and is pouring all of her passion into taking her beloved fish and chips restaurant into a new, more modern direction. She is lucky to have the help of some wonderful friends, family and employees.

Lucas and Martha are recent hires at Fry Me a Sliver. Lucas is a nineteen year old student who is sweet, eager, and a bit accident prone and Martha is a much older but newer resident to the Berkshires who has an unclear past and a very prickly manner. Both prove to be very helpful to Talia in the restaurant and in the mystery, Talia’s best friend since childhood is Rachel, who has a smaller role in this novel, but is always there for Talia when she’s needed with advice and a shoulder to cry on. Ryan Collins is Talia’s relatively new boyfriend. Ryan is sweet and supportive and is willing to take things slow with their relationship, which is something that Talia needs. Talia also has the unwavering encouragement of her parents and sweetheart aunts, who all make brief appearances.

Various characters turn up during the course of the book who are tied closely to the murder mystery. Oriana “Ria” Butterforth, is a new shop owner who is demanding, snobby and despises Talia on sight, for reasons that are revealed later in the plot. Ria is also the ill-fated murder victim who Talia stumbles upon while participating in a fundraiser for the local community center.

Possible suspects for the murder include Andy Nash, Vivian Lavoie, Scott Pollard, Kelsey Dakoulas, and Will Claiborne. Andy is an awkward but seemingly harmless character who has an affection for Ria that is not reciprocated. Vivian is an older local crafter who has a habit of spreading gossip. Scott is a handsome and charming local contractor who Ria and Talia meet in his role as a helper to the vendors at the fundraiser. Kelsey is the much trod upon employee and former friend of Ria who holds an obvious grudge against Ria. Will is Ria’s boyfriend and also the landlord of all the shops in the Wrensdale Arcade, where both Ria and Talia’s businesses are located. Will seems heartbroken over Ria’s death, but it is obvious that his estranged wife is more than happy that her rival is out of the picture.

The plot of the story moves well and blends together perfectly with the backstory of Talia’s life, which is really one of the best parts of the novel. The author gives charm to her New England setting and brings the local residents to vivid life, making them likeable and understandable. The mystery flows logically and is nicely and a bit surprisingly tied up in the end, with enough twists and unexpected turns to keep the reader interested. The book is peppered with mouthwatering deep fried dish ideas, many of which appear in the recipe section at the end of the book and promise to be fun to cook. Out of the Dying Pan is a fun and fast read and will be enjoyable to any cozy mystery lover.

About Linda

Linda Reilly is the author of the Deep Fried Mysteries, including Out of the Dying Pan and Fillet of Murder. She lives with her husband in southern New Hampshire and is a member of Sisters in Crime and its subchapter, the Guppies. When she’s not prowling the shelves of a bookstore or library in search of a cozy read, she can be found tapping away at the keyboard creating her own cozy adventure.

Website  ~  Facebook

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Out of the Dying Pan by Linda Reilly from the publisher. US ONLY

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

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on April 8, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

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

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Fillet of Murder
Deep Fried Mystery 1
Berkley, May 5, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages


Talia Marby serves up delectable English deep fried fare in the heart of the Berkshires—but she soon discovers there’s something fishy going on…

Sometimes in this life, you have to fish or cut bait. After walking away from a miserable job and an even worse boyfriend, Talia Marby has no regrets. She’s returned to her hometown and is happy to help her dear friend Bea Lambert by working at Lambert’s Fish & Chips, a cornerstone of a charming shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.

But not all the shop owners are charming. Phil Turnbull has been pestering Bea to sign a petition against a new store opening up, and his constant badgering is enough to make her want to boil him in oil. When Talia and Bea stumble upon Turnbull murdered in his shop, the police suspect Bea. Now it’s up to Talia to fish around for clues and hook the real killer before her friend has to trade serving food for serving time…

Includes delicious recipes!
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See Jennifer's Review here.