Thursday, September 17, 2020

Interview with Jon Richter

Please welcome Jon Richter to The Qwillery. Auxiliary: London 2039, Jon's most recent novel, was published in May by TCK Publishing.


The QwilleryWelcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jon Richter: I’ve actually never heard of a ‘hybrid’ before, but I love the idea of such a disturbing experiment, stitching the two approaches together to create some sort of horrifying Frankenstein’s Writer! I am probably closer to a ‘pantser’ these days –my first couple of books were meticulously planned before I started writing, only to find the stories veering wildly off track as soon as I got going! So now I’m happier to go with the flow, scribble down an outline and just dive in to see what emerges…

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing? 

JR:  Sadly I don’t make enough money from writing to rely it on it for my full-time income, so I have to juggle it alongside a busy day job. I was foolish enough to become a qualified accountant in my younger days, so although I’m very lucky to be able to earn good money, it does mean that my working hours can be very long and challenging… and it can sometimes be difficult to switch my brain out of numbers mode and into words!

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? 

JR:  I love dark fiction of all kinds, and in many forms of media: books, movies, TV shows and video games are all fantastic sources of inspiration. I love stories that are original, unpredictable and leave a lingering chill… recent favourites include the book House Of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (never have I felt so keenly that a book was reading me as much as I was reading it…) and the video game Pathologic 2, which told a haunting tale of a plague outbreak in a fantasy setting. When I spent the first two days saving up fictional currency to buy a gun from a dodgy bloke at the docks, only to find two days later that the town’s economy had collapsed and I was having to trade the gun for a loaf of bread just to avoid starving to death, I knew I was experiencing a masterpiece!

TQDescribe Auxiliary: London 2039 using only 5 words. 
JR:  Where our technology might lead…

TQTell us something about Auxiliary: London 2039 that is not found in the book description
JR:  This is a great question! Hmmm… okay, the first thing that’s popped into my head is a bit about the game’s omnipresent AI ‘overseer’, TIM (The Imagination Machine). A little like an extremely beefed-up version of Alexa, TIM runs everything: he flies the planes, he reads your children bedtime stories, he makes your coffee, and he’s your constant companion, available to speak to you whenever you like. I wanted to make this character very different from the more typical ‘evil AI’ trope that proliferates science fiction, but also not necessarily motivated by good either. TIM is a tool, nothing more: a neural network that learns from vast quantities of data to simulate consciousness to better serve its human creators. 
When researching other fictional AIs, I stumbled across ‘AM’, the Allied Mastercomputer, who appears in Harlan Ellison’s short story I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream (what a title). The short story is certainly worth a read, but is most notable for being the alleged inspiration for Skynet in the Terminator movies – indeed, Ellison settled out of court following the first film’s release, and was given a sum of money as well as an acknowledgement in the credits. 
AM is not the sort of AI I wanted to create, but is a fascinating character nonetheless: it despises humanity with a passion, so much so that it wipes out all humans except for five hand-picked victims who it intends to torture for all eternity. The video game version of the story features an incredible, hate-fuelled rant, which I recently learned was actually voiced by none other than Harlan himself!

Check it out here if you want to hear what our AIs might grow to think of us…

TQWhat inspired you to write Auxiliary: London 2039? 
JR:  I am fascinated by modern technological trends and developments, and the book was really an attempt to project forward into the near future, when things like driverless cars, smarter AIs, cybernetics, augmented reality and rudimentary robots will become much more commonplace.
I have always loved classic murder mysteries and noir detective stories, and when an image popped into my head one day – of a crime scene with a dead body mashed into a wall, a severed cybernetic arm protruding out from its crushed face into the room, while detectives took photographs and pondered what had happened – I couldn’t resist making my first foray into the world of cyberpunk!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Auxiliary: London 2039?

JR:  As mentioned above, I’m really interested in modern technology, and so researching the book was a labour of love! It gave me a great excuse to read about all manner of emerging innovations, such as the Brain Computer Interfaces being developed by the likes of Neuralink which really could transform our society (imagine being able to talk just by ‘thinking’ to each other?) 
One of the most interesting subjects I stumbled upon was the field of synthetic meat. I don’t just mean meat substitutes made from mushroom or soya or whatever – I mean actual, vat-grown protein grown from stem cells that is indistinguishable from the real thing. It looks and tastes like chicken because it is chicken – just chicken that’s been cultivated in a laboratory. This technology already exists, and if its developers can reduce the cost then there’s a very real chance this could completely replace traditionally farmed meat in the coming years… and could also mean that we find ourselves able to grow and eat the meat of more exotic animals, because there would no longer be any need to kill them. 
And why stop at panda steaks and polar bear fillets? Soon we might find exclusive restaurants selling meat from our favourite celebrities… Beyonce Burgers, anyone?

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Auxiliary: London 2039. 
JR:  To my shame I actually don’t know the name of the artist, but I certainly think TCK Publishing did a fantastic job with the book’s cover. It depicts the afore-mentioned mechanical arm, and the central mystery that drives the book’s plot – and also leaves the reader with no doubt about the type of book they are about to enjoy! Metal prosthetics like this are such an iconic cyberpunk image that it felt like an absolutely perfect piece of cover art.

TQIn Auxiliary: London 2039 who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
JR:  The main character, Carl Dremmler, is a bitter and selfish man, but also honourable and good-natured at his heart. In some ways, he is similar to me – struggling at times to exist in modern society, always feeling a little behind the curve, riddled with irrational neuroses and prejudices he is unaware of, trying but not always succeeding to do the right thing – so to write him I really just had to crank up the dial on some of my own flaws. 
Conversely, writing TIM was a challenge, as I had to make a huge effort to think in a very different way. TIM is ruthlessly logical, but his actions and the way he communicates are born from a very different type of intellect: an intellect forged not from nurture, but from billions of terabytes of uploaded data. I am particularly proud of the poem that TIM writes during the story, which I hope captures the AI’s motivations and mindset.

TQDoes Auxiliary: London 2039 touch on any social issues? 
JR:  I wanted to consider the impact of emerging technology on society in a realistic way. For example, just because new building methods exist doesn’t mean that all existing housing stock will be demolished and replaced with some sort of dystopian metropolis: people are likely to be living in the same existing housing for many decades to come. 
However, I do think there will be some fundamental changes, particularly a trend towards greater social isolation (especially following the COVID outbreak). We are already seeing this manifesting in the form of services like UberEats (why go out for food when you can have it brought to your door?), Amazon (why go to the shop when you can order everything you need online?) and the staggering rate of improvement in the levels of immersion offered by video gaming (why interact with friends in person when it’s more interesting to do so via Minecraft, or Fortnite?) 
If you couple this with the inevitable decimation of the workforce (automation will, without doubt, reduce the number of jobs available, and the government will need to find new economic systems to cope with a population where the majority, not the minority, are unemployed, rendered obsolete by technology such as driverless cars and sophisticated AIs) then our society will face a very real challenge in providing stimulation and motivation for a population that spends most of its time sitting around indoors.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Auxiliary: London 2039.
JR:  Well I’ve already shared the book’s central mystery, so here’s the scene where Dremmler first learns about the crime he’s about to be dispatched to investigate: 
‘He nearly decapitates his girlfriend, then calls to hand himself in? And then, what, cuts his own arm off? He sounds like a piece of work.
Maggie drew a long pull on the eCig, the swirling vapour almost hiding her face from view. ‘That’s the fun part. He’s saying he didn’t do it. He’s saying it was the arm.’

And then a little snippet of conversation between Dremmler and TIM, where the former is trying to understand the AI’s approach to morality: 
‘But how do you decide what’s right and what’s wrong?’
‘I don’t. My decisions are based solely on probabilities, statistics, and frequencies. The world has already decided what’s right and wrong; I merely observe, and imitate.’

TQWhat's next? 
JR:  Before sitting down to this interview I was working on the first round of edits for a ‘sidequel’ to Auxiliary, exploring how TIM might react to a pandemic similar to the one that’s turned our lives upside down in 2020. It’s a very different sort of novel to its predecessor, and in typical ‘pantser’ style has gone completely off the rails, but I’m hoping to bring it to you all very soon!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

JR:  It has been my absolute pleasure. Thank you for listening to my sinister ramblings!

Auxiliary: London 2039
TCK Publishing, May 3, 2020
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 223 pages
The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind but a good detective is never obsolete.

London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel. 

And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul.

Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.

A chip controlled by TIM.

Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine.

Auxiliary is gripping, unpredictable, and bleakly atmospheric—ideal for fans of cyberpunk classics like the Blade Runner movies, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the Netflix original series Black Mirror

About Jon

Jon Richter writes dark fiction, including his three gripping crime thrillers, Deadly Burial, Never Rest and Rabbit Hole, his recent cyberpunk noir thriller Auxiliary: London 2039, as well as two collections of short horror fiction, volumes one and two of Jon Richter's Disturbing Works
Jon lives in London and is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a great story. He writes whenever he can, and hopes to bring you more macabre tales in the very near future. He also co-hosts the Dark Natter podcast, a fortnightly dissection of the greatest works of dark fiction, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcast fix. 
If you want to chat to him about any of this, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites or Instagram @jonrichterwrites. His website haunts the internet at, and you can find his books available on Amazon here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - September Debuts

Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2020 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it. 

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on September 30, 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite September 2020 Debut Cover! free polls

Cover design by Lauren Panepinto
Cover art by Sasha Vinogradova
Cover copyright © 2020 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Cover by Daniel Strange

Cover design by Elizabeth Story
Intial concepts by Francesca Myman

Cover art by Sam Gretton

Jacket design by Yeon Kim
Jacket Image © Chipmunk131 /Shutterstock (silhouette)

Cover by Chris Panatier and Glen Wilkins

Cover art by Anka Lavriv
Cover and interior design by Dana Li

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Interview with Dan Hanks, author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire

Please welcome Dan Hanks to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire was published on September 8, 2020 by Angry Robot.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Dan:  The very first I can remember, at about age 9, was a straight rip off of the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom mine cart chase, followed by some gruesome attack by the Hoth wampa from The Empire Strikes Back. I was deservedly called out for my copying and didn’t write another story (that I can remember) for years afterwards. However, I’m pretty proud I at least knew I should copy from the best.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Dan:  I’ve tried everything, but I’ve found my groove right in the middle. I like to plot out my structure so I know where the story rises and falls and where the beats roughly need to be. Yet in between these plot points I really prefer to fly by the seat of my pants and give the characters licence to roam. That way the writing process is still exciting, because I have no idea how they will get from A to B, but I know that at the end of the first draft it’s going to be structurally pretty sound. (Usually.)

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Dan:  Twitter. And I’m only half joking, because there are so many distractions and feeds to doomscroll that it’s incredibly difficult to start writing. Once I get those first few words down, it’s okay. But the first step continues to be the trickiest part of the process.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How does being a "vastly overqualified archaeologist" influence your writing?

Dan:  I always use the “vastly overqualified archaeologist” title as a bit of a joke, because even with two degrees in the subject I still wasn’t able to earn a long-term career in the field. Mainly because I should have spent my time in an actual field doing the work instead of reading about it.

However, I adored my time studying archaeology and the knowledge I soaked up gave me the confidence to tackle some of the aspects of the subject that lie at the heart of this book. Admittedly, I also spent far too much time studying the more fringe elements of archaeology – flood myths, catastrophes, lost centres of information – which directly influenced the story itself.

In terms of general influences, I’m still in a place where 80s movies are playing a big role. The sense of storytelling fun from that era is something I miss and am trying to channel into my writing.

TQDescribe Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire using only 5 words.

Dan:  Can I go for five unconnected words?

Archaeology Adventure Exhaustion Monsters Seaplane

TQTell us something about Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire that is not found in the book description.

Dan:  Great question! Wow, okay.

The book was originally called ‘Captain Moxley and the Ashes of the Gods’. The team at Angry Robot came up with the current and much better title, but both related to the idea that the end goal of this book – the Hall of Records - is connected to a much wider universe. It’s all about the remnants of empire. And this works on a couple of levels in the book, it’s not just about physical material culture left behind, but ideologies too.

TQWhat inspired you to write Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire?

Dan:  I love Indiana Jones. Grew up with the first three movies and couldn’t wait to see the fourth. I’ve since made my peace with it, but my initial viewing didn’t sit well and prompted me to rather egotistically think I could write my own – so I sat down and wrote a script of Indy 5.

This obviously wasn’t going to go anywhere. So I decided to revise it with new characters and a more twisted and fantastical story, before eventually adapting it into a book and having it evolve even more. And my inspiration behind this rewrite was to create a hero who was far more exhausted and cynical than any I’d seen before in this type of adventure. Someone who also saw the age-old archaeological treasure hunt in a different light. And that someone was Captain Samantha Moxley.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire?

Dan:  This is a fantastical alternate history adventure… so my research was fairly light! I knew I could draw on the archaeological thinking already in my head for that core plotline, so my main concern was trying to convey the 1950s setting in an authentic light (while not distracting from the story). And that was a lot of fun, because it’s a really fascinating era.

I wanted Sam to be a former Spitfire pilot because my grandfather was one and I grew up wanting to be one myself. And although she isn’t drawn from any particular person, there are a wealth of stories of incredible women from the Second World War that I used to give her that stubborn spirit and refusal to bow down in the face of oppression. The brilliant author Tara Moss recently wrote a piece on seven of these women which you should totally take a few minutes to read:

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire.

Dan:  The cover is a dream. Literally, this has been my dream for as long as I’ve been writing. I love those old school film poster style illustrations and the artist here, Dan Strange, is an absolute master of them. I saw his work initially on a book by S.A. Sidor called Fury From the Tomb and fell in love with that so much (the book is also AMAZING). So when Angry Robot suggested Dan should be my cover artist I was so incredibly happy. And this cover is perfect. I couldn’t have wished for anything better.

Does it depict anything from the novel? Yes! In that old school style you’ve got the main cast, you’ve got a couple of hints about set pieces, you’ve got a hint of a badder baddie than the bad guy you can see, and there is an artefact too. Also some weird, undead hands at the sides, which I guess you might see too…

TQIn Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Dan:  Sam was the most fun. Writing someone who reacts badly to corrupt and shady governments and is tired of everyone’s crap – as most of us are in 2020 – was a joy. Especially because she gets to fight back. Wish fulfilment? Maybe.

The hardest… I’m not sure. I had to take more time with one of the ‘bad guys’, a military man called Colonel Arif, because I wanted to give him a level of righteousness which we can understand. Yes, he’s bad. But also… he’s right. He’s justified in his hatred of western interference in Egypt and his distrust of the American Agents (and Sam). He also has an arguably noble intention of restoring his country’s position as a shining light on the international stage. So that took a few versions and some brilliant guidance from my editor Eleanor Teasdale to get right.

TQDoes Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire touch on any social issues?

Dan:  Absolutely. Storytelling versions of archaeology have always made it seem romantic. Travelling the world, picking up mystical artefacts, and taking them back to your country to show ‘the world’. Yet this idea is rooted in colonialism. Those aren’t our artefacts to take away from their cultural context or display in our countries for a select group of outsiders to ogle.

I was taught old school archaeology. I appreciate the importance of studying our past and I LOVE museums as places of learning and safeguarding material culture. But thanks to some powerful voices out there, I now understand how the execution of these concepts has been – and can still be – problematic. So this issue is explored in the book as a clash of thinking between our cynical hero and her archaeologist sister.

TQWhich question about Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


“This story reminded me of that old click and point adventure game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Was that intentional?”
“Why yes, thank you so much for noticing! I loved that game when I was a teenager and it played a huge part in influencing some of the story and the general feel of lots of this book.”

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire.

“Our gaze into history should always be humble and respectful and undertaken with a light touch.”

I love this quote from Sam’s older professor friend Teddy, not only because it’s pretty much how I feel, but also because it comes shortly before the destruction of a whole site of ancient artefacts and tons of fighting. Best laid plans and all that.

TQWhat's next?

Dan:  I’m heading towards the end of a middle-aged-parent-ghostbusters-at-Christmas story right now, as well as working on something else which is a huge, exciting project. So I’m busy writing other books and finally in a position where I can give them my full focus, after many years of writing around day jobs and freelance gigs.

As for future Captain Moxley adventures… I’d love to write more. Let’s see what happens. :)

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dan:  Thanks so much for having me and for so many wonderful questions!

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 394 pages

An ex-Spitfire pilot is dragged into a race against a shadowy government agency to unlock the secrets of the lost empire of Atlantis…

In the post-war peace of 1952, ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley should be done fighting bad guys. Instead, she finds herself dragged into a clash with a mysterious US government agency known as The Nine, when they take an interest in the work of Jess, her archaeologist sister.

Pursued by The Nine, former Nazis, and a host of otherworldly monsters, Sam must fight to protect her sister and uncover two hidden keys which promise to unlock the greatest archaeological find in history: the fabled Hall of Records.

From the skies over New York, to the catacombs of Paris, and finally to the ruins of Ancient Egypt, her quest takes her into the ashes of the past in search of the dying embers of an empire….and a discovery that could transform the world, or bring it to a terrible end.

File Under: Fantasy  [ Top Women | Riff-RAF | Pyramid Scheme | Bash the Fash ]

About Dan

Dan is a writer, editor, and vastly overqualified archaeologist who has lived everywhere from London to Hertfordshire to Manchester to Sydney, which explains the panic in his eyes anytime someone asks “where are you from?”. Thankfully he is now settled in the rolling green hills of the Peak District with his human family and fluffy sidekicks Indy and Maverick, where he writes books, screenplays and comics.

Website  ~  Twitter @dan_hanks

Monday, September 14, 2020

The View From Monday - September 14, 2020

It is Monday again!

There are 2 debuts this week:

The Scapegracers (The Scapegracers 1) by Hannah Abigail Clarke;


To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini.

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

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox;

Crown of Darkness (Dark Court Rising 2) by Bec McMaster;

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag is out in Trade Paperback;


The Forgotten Kingdom (The Lost Queen 2) by Signe Pike.

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

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

September 14, 2020
Fire Study (e)(ri) Maria V. Snyder GothicR - The Chronicles of Ixia 3

September 15, 2020
The Trouble with Peace Joe Abercrombie F/DF - Age of Madness 2
Turning Darkness Into Light (h2tp) Marie Brennan HistF
The Trials of Koli M. R. Carey SF/AP/PA/Dys/LF - Rampart Trilogy 2
The Remaking (h2tp) Clay McLeod Chapman H/SupTh/Occ/Sup
The Scapegracers (D) Hannah Abigail Clarke F - The Scapegracers 1
Piranesi Susanna Clarke LF/F/DF
Return of the Wizard King Chad Corrie F - Wizard King 1
Chance of a Lifetime Jude Deveraux
Tara Sheets
CW/TTR/MR/HistR - Providence Falls 1
The Orphan of Cemetery Hill Hester Fox GothicR/GH
The Strawberry Thief (h2tp) Joanne Harris LF/MR
The Hellion S. A. Hunt H/CF - Malus Domestica 3
The Cipher (ri) Kathe Koja H/DF
Crown of Darkness Bec McMaster RF - Dark Court Rising 2
Only the Devil Is Here (h2tp) Stephen Michell Occ
After the Flood (h2tp) Kassandra Montag CW/Dys
Cursed Objects: Strange but True Stories of the World's Most Infamous Items J. W. Ocker Reference
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (D - Adult) Christopher Paolini SF/SO/AC
The Forgotten Kingdom Signe Pike Hist - The Lost Queen 2
Restoration Angela Slatter UF/P/Cr - Verity Fassbinder
Saints Nicholas Sansbury Smith SF/AP/PA - Sons of War 2
It Came from the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers Joshua Viola (Ed) H - Anthology
An Unnatural Life Erin K. Wagner SF
The Moonlit World Edward Willett F/UF - Worldshapers 3
Entanglements: Tomorrow's Lovers, Families, and Friends Sheila Williams (Ed) SF - Anthology

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
Ke - Kindle eBook
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade Paperback to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator

AB - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternative History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - CyberPunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FL - Family Life
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
GothicR - Gothic Romance
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistM - Historical Mystery
HistR - Historical Romance
HistTh - Historical Thriller
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humorous
LC - Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
Med - Medical
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PolTh - Political Thriller
PopCul - Popular Culture
Psy - Psychological
R - Romance
RF - Romantic Fantasy
ScF - Science Fantasy
SE - Space Exploration
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SFTh - Science Fiction Thriller
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
SS - Short Stories
STR - Small Town and Rural
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
VM - Visionary and Metaphysical

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

Friday, September 11, 2020

Interview with Chris Panatier, author of the Phlebotomist

Please welcome Chris Panatier to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Phlebotomist was published on September 8, 2020 by Angry Robot.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Chris:  Thanks for asking me onto your blog! As far as my first fiction piece, this would have been during grade school, when I was perhaps ten or eleven years old. I recall some slapped together knight and dragon fantasies based on some Dungeons & Dragons I’d played. I never wrote more than three or four pages as I discovered that writing is hard and I was lazy. As a kid I was definitely more attracted to the idea of writing rather than the actual doing of it.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Chris:  I am a total pantser when I sit down to write the words, but it would be inaccurate for me to say I do that to the exclusion of plotting. I do an immense amount of plotting before I begin the book, though I write down very little. I don’t like to feel hemmed in or committed to ideas and writing them down seems to do that. The premise, character, and plot ideas sit in my brain like a nebula and I just let them coagulate on their own. At some point, when the general direction becomes clear, I’ll sit down to write. Things are never fully fleshed out before I start, as the process tends to do this for me.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Chris:  Valid self-doubt. Writers like to talk about imposter syndrome. Some of it is likely attributable to the particular neuroses that accompanies writing. I think it has something to do with the empathy and observational awareness we’re constantly employing in order to understand characters and people. Writers are already wired, I think, to be hypervigilant and overly self-critical. For me, this invariably crops up during the writing process when comparing my imagined story to what actually ends up on the page. They don’t always match no matter how hard I try.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Chris:  Having been a visual artist for so long before I got serious about writing, I knew I loved creating something from nothing. Turns out I enjoy building with words even more than I do with pencil, ink, or watercolor. And I want to push that creativity as far as I possibly can while still maintaining a coherent story. I am influenced and inspired by writers who do that. I think about Cameron Hurley, Philip K. Dick, Jeff Vandermeer, N.K. Jemisin, and Tamsyn Muir right off the bat.

TQ Describe The Phlebotomist using only 5 words.

Chris:  Oppression. Blood. Grandmother. Vengeance. Fun!

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

Chris:  There’s a murderous teenager in it.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Phlebotomist? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Chris:  I was (and am) very angry about income inequality and the lengths to which the ruling class will go to keep the rest of the population under its boot. I decided that marrying a near future science fiction story with an apt fantasy trope was the best way to make my point. Science Fiction has always been such a great way to explore social and political issues. Sometimes when you remove events and conflicts from their present context and place them into another setting, they gain clarity. Also, readers’ alliances and prejudices are often challenged.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Phlebotomist?

Chris:  Oh, a lot. The society of The Phlebotomist is based upon a government-mandated blood draw called the Harvest and a cash-for-blood exchange called the Trade. There is varying demand for each of the blood types based on their compatibility with potential recipients—so each type fetches a different price. Society is thus segregated by blood type. Since I was creating an economy based on blood, I had to make sure it was scientifically accurate. I did plenty of internet research, bought a Phlebotomist’s Quick Reference Guide (laminated), and reached out to experts in the area. Some even talked to me! Amazing.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Phlebotomist.

Chris:  This cover brings me absolute joy. I wanted it to be hot pink from day one and this thing is more like surface-of-the-sun pink. It’s brilliant. Angry Robot keyed in on doing a vintage medical illustration theme, which I love. I ended up doing the illustration of the heart and lilies. The cover itself has five distinct nods to parts of the story.

TQIn The Phlebotomist who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Chris:  The excommunicated marine long-gun specialist turned blood hacker, ‘Lock’ came most naturally to me. She’s this older woman who is tired of your shit. I had a very specific old friend in mind when I wrote her. Maybe that’s why her distractable manner of speaking—a hybrid tech-slash-frontier gibberish—came so naturally to me. She’s also a bit unhinged. So I relate.

The hardest character to write was the protagonist, Willa. This is interesting because I know who she is. Her personality, brains, values, fears, and motives were all very clear to me from the start. It got hard when she was thrust into a string of increasingly bonkers situations that nobody in history has ever actually been subject to. Figuring out how a real person would react when dropped into one of these scenarios had me doing a lot of trial and error to make sure I got it right.

TQDoes The Phlebotomist touch on any social issues?

ChrisThe Phlebotomist is an allegory for a number of social issues. Segregation is front and center. Interestingly, this is an issue that many people (including a number of Justices on our Supreme Court) might believe is no longer relevant, but I think it’s more relevant than ever. The story also grapples with wealth inequality, urban food deserts, privacy, and consent.

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


Q: Did you ever entertain any other potential titles for the book?
A: I briefly considered calling it The Evens. If you read it, you’ll see why!

TQ Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Phlebotomist.


“Holy shit, Willa, you look like Beelzebub,” said Lock. “Rub a little of that inside Llydia so it looks like you brained yourself genuinely.”

TQWhat's next?

Chris:  I have a few short stories coming out soon. I’m always plugging away on those as it’s nice to start and finish something when novels take so long. As for novels, I took a flyer on this absolutely insane premise and I’m almost done with the first draft. It’s so nuts that I don’t know if I’ll ever even show it to anyone. Sort of The Matrix + Monsters, Inc., but with angels and they’re all drunk on turpentine. Maybe I’m drunk on turpentine.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chris:  Thank you very much!

The Phlebotomist
Angry Robot, September 8, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 344 pages

In a near future where citizens are subject to the mandatory blood draw, government phlebotomist Willa Wallace witnesses an event that makes her question her whole world…

To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was instituted to pass blood to those affected by radiation. But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Government blood contractor, Patriot, rewards you generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give the most, gets the most in return.

While working as a reaper taking collections for the Harvest, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete technique that could rebalance the city. But in her quest to set things into motion, she uncovers a horrifying secret that cuts to the heart of everything.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Blood Will Out | This Might Hurt a Bit | Be positive | Bloody Nightmare ]

About Chris

Chris Panatier lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. He plays himself on Twitter @chrisjpanatier.

Website  ~  Twitter

Facebook  ~  Tumblr


Thursday, September 10, 2020

2019 Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards - Winners

The winners of the inaugural Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards were announced in July!

Winners is green.

Best Collection
  • Collision: Stories, J.S. Breukelaar
  • Ghosts of You, Cathy Ulrich
  • Little Paranoias, Sonora Taylor
  • Out of Water, Sarah Read

Best Debut
  • The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, Sarah Read
  • Little Darlings, Melanie Golding
  • The Luminous Dead, Caitlin Starling
  • Theme Music, T. Marie Vandelly

Best Poetry Collection
  • Mary Shelley Makes a Monster, Octavia Cade
  • Choking Back the Devil, Donna Lynch
  • The Apocalyptic Mannequin, Stephanie M. Wytovich

Best Novel (Tie)
  • Bunny, Mona Awad
  • Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo
  • River of Souls, T.L. Bodine
  • The Twisted Ones, T. Kingfisher
  • Without Condition, Sonora Taylor

Best Novella
  • Dear Laura, Gemma Amor
  • The Ladderman, Angela Archer
  • The Festering Ones, S.H. Cooper
  • Halloween Fiend, C.V. Hunt
  • To Be Devoured, Sara Tantlinger

Best Young Adult
  • Five Midnights, Ann Dávila Cardinal
  • House of Salt and Sorrows, Erin A. Craig
  • Rules for Vanishing, Kate Alice Marshall
  • Wilder Girls, Rory Power

Short Fiction

Honorable Mentions
  • Till Death Do Us Part, Peggy Christie (Dark Doorways)
  • A Song for Wounded Mouths, Kristi DeMeester (PseudoPod 641: Artemis Rising 5)
  • Jack-O-Lantern, Gabrielle Faust (#ScaryStories)
  • Sun Dogs, Laura Mauro (Sing Your Sadness Deep)
  • What Throat, Annie Neugebauer (PseudoPod 640: Artemis Rising 5)
  • Butterflies, Samanta Schweblin (Mouthful of Birds)
  • The Woman Next Door, Ha Seong-nan (Flowers of Mold)
  • Quadrapocalypse, Sonora Taylor (Little Paranoias)
  • Weary Bones, Sonora Taylor (Little Paranoias)

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Walking Dead Deluxe - Art Adams, Julian Totino Tedesco and Sketch Covers


PORTLAND, Ore. 09/08/2020 — Image/Skybound Entertainment is pleased to reveal three more highly collectible variant covers by Art Adams, Julian Totino Tedesco, and a sketch cover to kick off The Walking Dead Deluxe full color editions.

The iconic independent series that took the entertainment world by storm 17 years ago—The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman (Fire Power, Oblivion Song) and Charlie Adlard (Vampire State Building)—will be reissued starting in October as The Walking Dead Deluxe and fully colored by Dave McCaig.

These Deluxe editions of the series will also feature a variety of additional variants—including covers by David Finch, Tony Moore, and connecting covers by Charlie Adlard—commemorating major character introductions and the series’ most memorable twists and turns.

Each issue will include a new installment of “The Cutting Room Floor,”  featuring Kirkman's original handwritten plots along with commentary on abandoned storylines and plot points that may have changed along the way.

The Walking Dead Deluxe issues will NOT be collected into trade paperback any time soon, so fans and new readers should not trade-wait to experience this fully colored edition of the popular survival horror series.

The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, October 7:
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover A David Finch & Dave McCaig - Diamond Code AUG200027
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover B Tony Moore & Dave McCaig - Diamond Code AUG200028
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover C Charlie Adlard (connecting) - Diamond Code AUG200029
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover D Julian Totino Tedesco - Diamond Code AUG200030
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover E Arthur Adams - Diamond Code AUG200031
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover F sketch cover - Diamond Code JUL209321

    The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 will also be available for purchase across many digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play.

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

Founded in 2010, Skybound Entertainment is a multiplatform entertainment company specializing in television, comics, film, digital content, interactive, gaming, and merchandise. The company is led by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and his longtime producing and business partner David Alpert.