Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nintendo Download, July 27, 2017



Nintendo Download, July 27, 2017: Embark on a
Very Personal RPG

This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content:
  • Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS
    • Miitopia – Since the dawn of ever, warriors have banded together to fight evil. Now … Mii characters based on your favorite people must unite to do turn-based battle and save Miitopia! Cast them in roles across the kingdom, manage friendships and give them jobs with distinct stats, abilities, gear and custom looks. The Miitopia game will be available on July 28.
    • Hey! PIKMIN – Captain Olimar has crashed on an unknown planet inhabited by Pikmin. Get a new perspective on his adorably fierce partners as you fight to fuel his ship in his first 2D platformer. Hey! PIKMIN is also the first Pikmin game for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. The 2D game will be available on July 28.
  • Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch
    • Overcooked: Special Edition – Working as a team, you and up to four* fellow chefs must prepare, cook and serve up a variety of tasty orders before the paying customers storm out in a huff. Overcooked: Special Edition features all the exhilarating (and enraging) kitchens from the main game, as well as both expansions, “The Lost Morsel” and “Festive Seasoning.” Sharpen your knives and dust off your chef’s whites – there isn’t mushroom for error, and the steaks are high in these crazy kitchens!
    • NAMCO MUSEUM – Play some of the most popular Namco games, anytime, anywhere! Enjoy classics such as PAC-MAN, GALAGA, SPLATTERHOUSE and TOWER OF DRUAGA, or play games including ROLLING THUNDER, SKYKID or TANK FORCE with friends and family.

Interview with Lee Markham, author of The Truants


Please welcome Lee Markham to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Truants was published on July 11th by The Overlook Press.







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

Lee:  I’ve written for as long as I’ve been able to, all the way back to my early childhood. Storytelling has always been a big thing on both sides of my family. I’m Irish on my mother’s side, and they always like to spin a good yarn. On my father’s side, lots of Christianity (to which I seem to have an immunity, if not quite an allergy) – including quite a few preachers in the bloodline. So the why part of the question doesn’t really apply, or at least feels like it doesn’t – storytelling is something I’ve always been made of, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make stuff up.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Lee:  OK so, here’s the thing – my internet is down right now, so I can’t read through what the other guys you’ve asked have said in response to this, so I’m going to have to answer it blind: is it actually possible to be exclusively one or the other? I do get what you’re saying, and am perhaps being (deliberately?) obtuse, but for me it kinda goes in zebra stripes – plot then pants, pants then plot – and if you fly through it fast enough perhaps it starts to look like the greyness of a hybrid approach… but I can’t begin to imagine that if you subscribe to pantsing (and on a side-note, while we’re here, can we think about addressing the terminology?! I mean, really: pantsing?!) that you don’t have to eventually stream it into some kind of structure. And vice versa, if you have too rigid a structure/plan, your characters will suffocate if you stop them wandering off-piste… they just become Sims ¬– just crappy automaton versions of you.

With The Truants it went like this – I had a neat idea: vampire blood on a knife, that knife ending up on the streets and dropped into the knife-crime mix – so I’d say that would fall at the ‘plan’ end of the spectrum. I then ‘pants’ed my way through the first few scenes of that scenario, and saw where it went. From there I could then see some very clear narrative pillars dotted right the way across the novel – so more plan (I’d say mapping actually feels nearer the mark). I then ‘pants’ed my way out from those opening scenes towards those new pillars on the map. And a ways across the map from there a huge twist (which lands about one third of the way in) came out of nowhere, took even me by surprise and so a huge pants moment, but from which the whole map then revealed itself, so plan plan plan to the end. But yeah – you gotta flip between the two, surely?



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Lee:  Writing for me seems to be quite a visceral, primal thing. When it comes, it just explodes out of me, and oftentimes largely fully formed and ready to roll. The hardest thing for me to do is to tame it, and make it do what I need it to do. With The Truants, entirely by necessity (at the time I was working a horrible job for a sociopathic manager, commuting, all consumed) I accidentally stumbled across a process that worked – I set my alarm clock for 4am every day. Fell out of bed. Was writing by 4:15am. By 6:15am I’d have done 2000 words, half of them from somewhere unknowable between my conscious and subconscious mind. I did that for about 40 days straight and the book was done. I genuinely don’t recall writing huge chunks of it. But the question you asked was what’s the hardest thing about writing – my answer is this: getting up a 4am every morning until the bastard is done. That’s how I do it. It’s massively antisocial. I disappear from the world when I’m writing. It’s like a moon mission. I really struggle to do it around other stuff… and by other stuff I even mean the sound of my own conscious mind wittering about day-to-day rubbish.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Lee:  At the risk of sounding pretentious, simply the pursuit of truth. Even if I’m writing about vampires. It’s just that constant internal churn of questioning about why we’re here, what we’re for, is it really worth it? I struggle sometimes with the world we live in, and have to battle frequently to work around existential impasses. My mind never lets it go. A line in a poem I wrote once rather neatly summarises this process as “Chewing on these same old rages, like dogs killing sticks”. It’s pointless, and no answer ever seems to stick, but that’s the essential machinery of me, and it can be quite exhausting (one reviewer has actually picked up on this, and yeah… it’s a fair cop, I’ll take it). On the plus side though, when I have a narrative idea (like for example a knife with vampire blood on it), I can throw it into that same machine and all sorts of interesting stuff comes out. So there’s that.

I have of course been influenced by other storytellers too – all of whom seem to chew on those same old rages too – and by storytellers I mean anyone working creatively, imaginatively. So not just writers. Filmmakers and musicians too. And journalists. All those guys lifting up the rocks, looking underneath, and reporting back. But to check off a few writers: formatively I went the Stephen King/Clive Barker route… alongside that there was David Cronenberg and John Carpenter working in film… more recently the writings of Robert Fisk, Blake Morrison (whose As If was the single biggest influence on The Truants), and Cormac McCarthy have hugely influenced my voice, if not my style. Alan Moore too.

But the thing that most fires up the 4am writing beast is music. Certain songs can hit a core id button and trigger off whole scenes of a story… the song that was most on a loop whilst writing The Truants is one called CPU by Skream. It’s quite cold and mechanical on one level, but has swirls of fractal undercurrents that perfectly tapped me into The Truants duality of the old-ones’ ancient manipulations contrasting the feral survival instinct that governs the world they’re thrown into. Too much other stuff to go into here – there’s actually a Truants playlist on Spotify and even that only skims the surface.



TQDescribe The Truants in 140 characters or less.

Lee:  A desperate prayer for love and purpose in this endless age of rage and sadness



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

Lee:  I think what perhaps gets lost in the description is the truth of it. That it’s more about love, and grief, and the futility of being, than it is about vampires and neglect. But – and this is a huge but – I don’t feel comfortable claiming any higher-ground credit for that. The Truants really did explode out from somewhere deep down and hurt, and it is what it is. It’s not easy. It assaults. For better or worse it is the sound of my soul weeping for us all, and raging at us all. And it doesn’t have any answers. I don’t know… it seems to catch a lot of readers off guard – they come in expecting something they’ve experienced before, and it breaks the rules. No-one, and nothing is safe. Nothing is assured or sacred. It’s asking, it’s pleading… it’s destabilising… because that’s where I was when I wrote it. Where I still am, really. I think, when it’s boiled down to a soundbite, what’s missing from the book description is this: The Truants hates you, but it wishes, more than anything, to be loved by you. Just like the children in the tale it tells. It’s hoping you will tell it everything will be OK, whilst blaming you for everything being screwed. It wouldn’t blame you for fearing it, but really it just wants to hold you. It’s complicated. It might make you sad. Or angry. Or both.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Truants? What appealed to you about writing a dystopian novel?

Lee:  I’m not sure I would actually call The Truants dystopian. To my mind it’s simply the here and now. With vampires. The world of The Truants is very much a documentary vision of the world we already live in. And so in that sense the inspiration to write The Truants was simply this: how might this horror high-concept (Vampire knife!) play out in the real world? What might that story look like as an after-the-watershed BBC Panorama documentary about inner-city strife? Or what if we looked at the events in this story in the same way Blake Morrison looked at the events in As If? Might it be possible to drag horror, vampires and all, back into reality like Romero did in the 60s with Night of the Living Dead? What might something like that look like today?



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Truants?

Lee:  Obviously As If formed the core of that research – although interestingly the crime it details is far less alluded to in The Truants than other incidents. Those incidents that do form key pillars in the novel – the murders of Baby P and Damilola Taylor, as well as the shooting of Mark Duggan and the subsequent city riots of 2011 – are all events that received extensive coverage in the media both at the time and subsequently. To an extent these things are key strands in the weave of the narrative that currently exists in the UK about our inner cities – with one side seeing these horrors as symptomatic of how far people have fallen from decent society, whilst the other side sees them as symptoms of how much decent society is actually failing its people. Round and round, tit-for-tat. The Truants dives into that debate, lives in the minds of both sides, and tries to explore how such opposing views have become so hopelessly entrenched. So from a research POV, I just buried myself in as much objective, inquiry-based reading on each event as I could – which was pretty rough, especially in the case of Baby P – as well as then swinging to each end of the commentary-spectrum. In terms of locale for the story – I just set it in the city I’ve known and lived in for years.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Truants.

Lee:  The cover for The Truants is by a guy called Zack Crook. I think it’s an incredible piece of work. In fact, when the book was initially going through preparations for publication, it went through a name-change – it was originally called The Knife – and I wasn’t 100% sold on the new title. I was open to persuasion, but had my reservations. But when I saw the new title dropped into Zack’s cover design, everything came together for me – that was the moment I thought “OK, cool – we’re all on the same page here.” He may not be aware quite how pivotal he was in putting my mind to rest on the matter, so quite nice to be able to put it on the record here.



TQThe vampire is often used as a metaphor for something else. Are the old-ones of The Truants a new twist on the vampire mythos? What do they stand for in your novel or are they simply another type of vampire?

Lee:  If anything I’d say they’re a metaphor for society itself – a representation of what humanity, and the so-called civilization and social mores it has accrued over millennia, might look like as an individual – which is then used as a device to explore the notion that society might be just as susceptible to patterns of behaviors – doubts and insecurities, judgments and belief systems, a conflicting sense of purpose/purposelessness – as we all are as fleeting, mortal individuals. And then what was interesting was to force this immortal psychology to exist within its constituent mortal ones and see how, perhaps, it’s not as different/superior as it thought it was. For that to work though, I did have to twist the vampire mythos into a new form, so that’s true as well.



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

Lee:  None of the characters were technically hard to write. They all represent voices that chatter in my own journey through life, and so it was easy enough to allow them each time on the platform to say their piece uninterrupted. But writing as Peter was especially tough existentially – painfully heart-breaking – certainly his early scenes.



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

Lee:  Ha! OK… The question would be: is it just me, or is there something being said about gender roles, and gender politics, in the final chapter? Yes. Absolutely. There’s a lot of noise out there at the moment about what constitutes the family unit, and the argument that parenting should ideally consist of a male-female/mother-father double-helix. The final chapter is a discrete parting shot that calls bullshit on that. And on notions of gender and sexuality being defined simply by physical biology. It’s not a core point of the novel, but it pleases me to think some readers might think “Hey, is he saying here that it’s OK for two people of the same gender to start a family?” Yes, I am saying that. Although to be fair it could be argued that the way the point is only very lightly alluded to it might suggest I’m saying the opposite – let me clear right here that I’m not saying that at all. But yes, there is a nod to that debate tucked in there at the end.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Truants.

Lee:  Probably my very favourite quote in the book is also kinda silly, certainly throwaway. And divisive. Most readers I suspect don’t even notice it, but some laugh out loud at it – much like I did when it came to me – others think it’s really annoying (one reviewer went so far as to accuse of it “triteness bordering on the twee”, which also makes me smile – the contrarian in me likes to think the publishers might one day even put “Twee” on the cover in amongst the other reviews because that would tickle me). But anyway, that quote is:
“She didn’t put food down for the cat. She didn’t have a cat.”

The next two are particular favourites with readers. Both capture the melancholy that underpins the whole novel, but the second one punches through into the actual grief of losing a child and forms part of a longer passage that I’ve heard a number of times has left readers on the floor:
“The black tiger-stripes burnt into the blade reminded him of the trails raindrops would weave as they fattened and became too heavy to cling to rain-struck windows. He remembered watching the rain on the windows when he was little. He remembered liking it. He remembered when he was little and would sit and watch the rain on the windows for what seemed like hours and he would feel OK. It had made a kind of sense to him that he couldn’t put into words, but which made everything else seem acceptable. It made everything seem as if it had its place, even the bad stuff, and that if things got too much, they’d simply roll away under their own weight.”
“She hadn’t turned any lights on when she’d got in. She’d gone through to her room, in her coat and her shoes, and she’d lain on the bed and looked at the ceiling. She hadn’t cried. She barely even made a sound. She tried not to breathe. She tried not to blink. But in the end her body would oblige her. That’s just the way it was built. She felt guilty about that. Eventually she got tired, and eventually she slept. She’d felt guilty about even countenancing the idea of sleep, but it had crept up on her in the end and taken her away from it all. She hadn’t dreamt.
        When she’d awoken there had been a few moments when it had all been a dream. A heavenly interlude of untruth, swaddling her in the beautiful notion of her boy not being dead. It had been her shoes that had shattered that moment. The shoes still on her feet. On her bed. They were the vicious little detail that moored her to reality. It had been her shoes that had appropriately repositioned her existence from hope to despair and had reset the trajectory of her life ever since. It had been her shoes that had calibrated the sine wave of her grief. Set in motion the pendulum of her pain.”

But the passage I think I’m proudest of, and which is one of a few passages that I don’t quite recall writing – I channelled it from somewhere in an early-hours haze between sleep and waking – is this one:
“For so long, he ran with me, hunted with me, lived with me, and he was beautiful.
        But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then time serves only to blind us. Or perhaps time merely serves to erode beauty’s myopia and reveal the base offal at our core, that writhing, desperate need to be something more than life-struck mud and barely repressible appetites. Engines of procreation and decay. Bubbling and gurgling towers of digestion and waste.
        I don’t know. I think these things, and I sound like him.
        I see him now, as he sees everything. That too, I suppose, has been gifted to us both by age.
        After all these years, lifetimes really, I still don’t even know what beauty is, much less love. Other than that once I found him beautiful, and that I remember thinking I loved him.
        But he changed. Of course he changed. Everything changed, everything changes. And perhaps that’s what really happened to him – he stopped changing, stopped moving. And like a shark that stops swimming, the stasis brought him low. His vision clouded over and he lost sight of beauty. He started to hate.
        He started to die.
        He got old.”


TQWhat's next?

Lee:  I have a lot of ideas for a follow-up to The Truants. It’s set about 7 or 8 years after the event of the first novel, and goes a lot deeper and wider. That’s something I’d love to get stuck into. I’m also keen to finish work on a novel I’ve been kicking around for about 25 years now. That one is called The River, and would I suppose be my own Dark Tower – the one that forms the spine into which everything else might plug into. Beyond that, I’ve a few ideas for some other stories in the vault that look pretty interesting. And I’m also working on a series of children’s stories – Chestnut Tree Tales – that have gathered some dust recently, but which I’d love to get up and running again.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Lee:  You’re welcome!





The Truants
The Overlook Press, July 11, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages

A fresh twist on the vampire mythos, The Truants is a dystopian novel of startling intensity, narrated by immortal old-ones.

Contorting the conventional vampire narrative into a startling tale of immortality, blood lust, and rage contaminating London’s inner-city youth like a virus, The Truants tells the story of the last of the old-ones―creatures afflicted with a condition not unlike vampirism: ancient, bloodthirsty, and unable to withstand sunlight.

The last old-one has decided to end his life, but before he can act he is held up at knifepoint. His assailant disappears, the knife in his pocket, the blood of the old-one seared into its sharpened edge. The knife trades hands, drawing blood again, and the old-one is resurrected through his victims’ consciousness and divided, spreading through the infected. With his horde of infected youth, the old-one must reclaim the knife to regain control of his soul. But someone is out to stop him...





About Lee

Lee Markham is the founder of the children’s publishing house Chestnut Tree Tales and No Man, an independent publishing house. He has previously worked as a brand content developer, and he has written articles for magazines including Admap and Brand Strategy. The Truants is his debut novel.

Website

2017 World Fantasy Awards - Nominees


Statuette created by Vincent Villafranca

The 2017 World Fantasy Awards nominees have been announced. The awards will be presented during the World Fantasy Convention, held November 2-5, 2017 in San Antonio TX.


NOVEL
  • Borderline by Mishell Baker (Saga Press)
  • Roadsouls by Betsy James (Aqueduct Press)
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North (Redhook US/Orbit UK)
  • Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (Harper)

LONG FICTION
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe” by Kij Johnson (Tor.com)
  • Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor LaValle (Tor.com)
  • Every Heart a Doorway” by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com)
  • Bloodybones” by Paul F. Olson (Whispered Echoes)
  • A Taste of Honey” by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com)

SHORT FICTION
  • Das Steingeschöpf” by G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12.12.16)
  • Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 11/12.16)
  • Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales)
  • Little Widow” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Nightmare 9.16)
  • The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me” by Rachael K. Jones (Clockwork Phoenix 5)

ANTHOLOGY
  • Clockwork Phoenix 5, Mike Allen, ed. (Mythic Delirium Books)
  • Dreaming in the Dark, Jack Dann, ed. (PS Australia)
  • Children of Lovecraft, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Dark Horse Books)
  • The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, Karen Joy Fowler and John Joseph Adams, eds. (Mariner Books)
  • The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga Press)

COLLECTION
  • Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit US; Gollancz)
  • On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories by Tina Connolly (Fairwood Press)
  • A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer Press)
  • Vacui Magia by L.S. Johnson (Traversing Z Press)
  • The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu (Saga Press/Head Of Zeus)

ARTIST
  • Greg Bridges
  • Julie Dillon
  • Paul Lewin
  • Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Victo Ngai

SPECIAL AWARD PROFESSIONAL
  • L. Timmel Duchamp for Aqueduct Press
  • C.C. Finlay for F&SF editing
  • Michael Levy and Farah Mendlesohn, for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press)
  • Kelly Link for contributions to the genre
  • Joe Monti for contributions to the genre

SPECIAL AWARD NON-PROFESSIONAL
  • Scott H. Andrews for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy
  • Neile Graham for her work as Workshop Director of Clarion West
  • Malcolm R. Phifer and Michael C. Phifer for The Fantasy Illustration Library, Volume Two: Gods & Goddesses (Michael Publishing)
  • Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas for Uncanny Magazine
  • Brian White for Fireside Fiction Company

BLACK CLOUD Collection Coming In October



BLACK CLOUD, VOLUME 1
DESCENDS THIS OCTOBER

Collecting the first five issues

PORTLAND, OR, 07/26/2017 — Writers Ivan Brandon (DRIFTER, Wolverine) and Jason Latour (SOUTHERN BASTARDS, Spider-Gwen), artist Greg Hinkle (THE RATTLER, AIRBOY), and colorist Matt Wilson (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, PAPER GIRLS) will release a trade paperback collection of the first arc in their darkly ethereal fantasy series BLACK CLOUD this October.

From the creators of Spider-Gwen, SOUTHERN BASTARDS, DRIFTER, and AIRBOY, comes a new fantasy where heroes are hard to find.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Interview with Vivian Shaw, author of Strange Practice


Please welcome Vivian Shaw to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Strange Practice was published on July 25th by Orbit.







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

Vivian:  Thank you! I've been writing since I was very small; I think I started my first trilogy around age 11 or 12. Those weren't novel-length, probably around 20,000 words, but for a kid that's not too shabby. Mostly I wrote books because I loved reading them, and I had my own stories I wanted to tell.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Vivian:  Not gonna lie, I had to look this one up. I think I prefer George R.R. Martin's are you an architect or a gardener taxonomy of writers, but of the three options you present I'm definitely a hybrid. I have the plot of any given arc or scene outlined -- i.e. this character has to do this thing or get to this place -- and the specific means by which I get that done often just comes to me as I go along. I find it helpful to talk over a scene with someone else, because complaining out loud about how it's not working or I can't come up with an idea almost always kickstarts my brain into figuring out the answer.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

VivianDoing it when I don't want to, or I'm tired, or I can't come up with good words but I'm on deadline and I have to produce.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Vivian:  The authors who have been most influential on me are Mervyn Peake, Robin McKinley, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman; but I find inspiration everywhere, from architecture to urban exploration blogs to medical case studies. I'm interested in so many things.



TQDescribe Strange Practice in 140 characters or less.

Vivian:  Greta Helsing, doctor to London’s monstrous and undead, fights to defend her community alongside characters out of classic vampire lit.



TQTell us something about Strange Practice that is not found in the book description.

Vivian:  There's not only ghouls, but demons, a witch, lots of detail about the geography of the London sewer system, and frank discussion of the nature of Heaven and Hell. Also, I'd like to state for the record that I wrote the first version of this novel as a National Novel Writing Month entry back in 2004, so my concept of vampires in Volvos just barely predates Stephenie Meyer's in Twilight.



TQWhat inspired you to write Strange Practice?

Vivian:  Two main threads gave rise to the original concept: the wonderfully spooky world of London's subterranean network of tunnels and shelters and conduits (and the amazing 1940s-vintage electrical technology that was at least up until recently still being used down there) and a challenge I gave myself to see how many characters from classic gothic/horror literature I could put together into a story. The original version included Dracula and Carmilla as well, but they ended up being reserved for future books in the series.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Strange Practice?

Vivian:  Lots of it. I mean lots. Nothing infuriates me more than an author who has either not bothered to do the research or has done the bare minimum to get themselves some useful-sounding buzzwords and concepts but failed to investigate what they actually mean. I spent a lot of time on Google Street View working out what my characters would have seen while moving through particular spaces, and I tracked down some actual plans for one of the deep-level shelters connected to a Tube station. Incidentally, while there is no deep-level shelter at the St. Paul's station, one was planned for that location -- but excavations were halted when concerns for the stability of the cathedral's foundation arose. Also the details of the science of mirabilics, my universe's version of magic, took a long time to work out and I wish I could have included more of that in the book.



TQWhat do you think are the reasons for the ongoing popularity of the Van Helsing / Helsing family?

Vivian:  Vampire hunters have always been exciting. The original Van Helsing wasn't even slightly sexy, but he was an expert and he could advise Stoker's characters through their extraordinary experience; it's not surprising that later readers of the novel should have wondered about the possibilities of expanding the character and examining his backstory, wondering what kind of exciting adventures he could have had prior to the events of Dracula. Also, the name is cool.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Strange Practice.

Vivian:  The cover artist is Will Staehle, the designer behind Unusual Co. (http://unusualco.com/) For Strange Practice Staehle has taken elements of immediately-recognizable modern London -- the landmark London Eye, the Shard, the Tower, Westminster Palace, even the Thames Flood Barrier -- and combined them with an old-fashioned Victorian engraving design that to me brings to mind the work of Edward Gorey, one of my favorite artists. The combination of modern and elegantly old-fashioned elements echoes the book's juxtaposition of characters from classic horror lit with the modern day.



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

Vivian:  Greta is dead easy, because she is an ordinary human: she has no powers at all other than skill and training and intelligence. I used to want to be a doctor myself, I read medical textbooks for fun, I'm fascinated with the history of medicine and therefore it's a lot of fun writing characters who work in the medical field. August Cranswell is also a human, but he's a bit more difficult because I don't have the knowledge background in museum studies that I do in medicine. Probably the Gladius Sancti monks were the most difficult, because I have the least in common with them, and it was challenging to get inside their heads.



TQWhich question about Strange Practice do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Vivian:  There are so many! One of the questions I'd love to answer is are arc rectifiers real? They absolutely are, and they're fantastically weird and gorgeous. The actual electromagnetic principles on which they work are elegantly simple, even for someone like me who has no official science background at all, and it is oddly satisfying to be able to see the principles in action rather than simply knowing they exist. Up until fairly recently a few of them were still on display, and even still in use, but I don't know if any of them are currently active. Google "mercury arc rectifier" and look at the videos to see what I mean.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Strange Practice.

Vivian:

Ruthven wasn't much of a traditionalist. He didn't even own a coffin, let alone sleep in one; there simply wasn't room to roll over, even in the newer, wider models, and anyway the mattresses were a complete joke and played merry hell with one's back.

and maybe

"You are not human," she said at last, "but you are people. All of you. The ghouls, the mummies, the sanguivores, the weres, the banshees, the wights, the bogeys, everyone who comes to me for help, everyone who trusts me to provide it. You are all people, and you all deserve medical care, no matter what you do or have done, and you deserve to be able to seek and receive that care without putting yourselves in jeopardy. What I do is necessary, and while it isn't in the slightest bit easy, it is also the thing I want to do more than anything else in the world."

or

Sir Francis Varney was also damned, with the Devil and his angels and all the reprobate, and it was keeping him up at nights.



TQWhat's next?

Vivian:  The next book in the Greta Helsing series, Dreadful Company, will be coming out next year. It's set in Paris, and follows Greta's somewhat complicated adventures in and under the city. Also featured: M. R. James monsters; remedial psychopomps; vampires in leather pants; a werewolf, and potential disruptions in the fabric of reality. The third book, Grave Importance, is set in a mummy spa and resort outside of Marseille where Greta is spending a year as acting medical director. There's also a lot of other projects I'm planning for the future, including a popular-history book on the space program and a science fantasy epic co-written with my wife, the author Arkady Martine.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Vivian:  Thank you for having me!





Strange Practice
A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel 1
Orbit, July 25, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Meet Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead.

Dr. Greta Helsing has inherited the family's highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. She treats the undead for a host of ills - vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies.

It's a quiet, supernatural-adjacent life, until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.





About Vivian

Photo by Emilia Blaser
Vivian Shaw was born in Kenya and spent her early childhood at home in England before relocating to the US at the age of seven. She has a BA in art history and an MFA in creative writing, and has worked in academic publishing and development while researching everything from the history of spaceflight to supernatural physiology. In her spare time, she writes fan fiction under the name of Coldhope.



Website  ~  Twitter @ceruleancynic  ~  Blog



Port of Earth Arrives in November



THE PORT OF EARTH OPENS FOR BUSINESS THIS FALL

All-new sci-fi series from ECLIPSE creator Zack Kaplan

PORTLAND, OR, 07/24/2017 — Fan-favorite writer Zack Kaplan (ECLIPSE) teams up with all-star artist Andrea Mutti (Rebels, Prometheus) for a gritty new science fiction series, PORT OF EARTH, coming this November from Image Comics and Top Cow Productions.

Aliens have come to Earth, not in war or peace, but with a business deal: open up a spaceport here on Earth in exchange for advanced technology. But when our alien visitors break Port restrictions and wreak havoc in our cities, it falls to the newly formed Earth Security Agency to hunt down and safely deport the dangerous rogue aliens back to the Port of Earth.

Lost Sphear Coming on January 23, 2018


AWAKEN THE POWER OF MEMORY IN LOST SPHEAR

LOS ANGELES (July 25, 2017) –   SQUARE ENIX® today announced that, LOST SPHEAR™, the latest title from Tokyo RPG Factory™ will be available on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Nintendo Switch™ console, and STEAM® on January 23, 2018.

The game is available to pre-order now from the PlayStation®Store and STEAM. Those who pre-order on the PlayStation®Store will receive a “Memoirs of the Moon” dynamic PlayStation®4 theme and two music tracks. Those who pre-order on STEAM will receive a custom LOST SPHEAR wallpaper and two music tracks.

LOST SPHEAR will be available digitally from the PlayStation®Store, Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, and STEAM. The game will also be available as a physical package exclusively from the SQUARE ENIX Online Store for the PlayStation®4 system (http://sqex.to/MxJ) and Nintendo Switch (http://sqex.to/YMC). Fans who pre-order the game from the SQUARE ENIX Online Store will receive two music tracks as a gift at launch.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Interview with Leena Likitalo, author of The Five Daughters of the Moon


Please welcome Leena Likitalo to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Five Daughters of the Moon is published on July 25th by Tor.com.

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







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

Leena:  Thank you so much for inviting me! It's a pleasure to be here!

I have always loved telling stories. In fact, so much that I started writing before I learned to read. No one else could make sense out of my scribbling which somewhat dented my credibility. Yet as far as I was concerned, the adventures of the butterfly-fairies had been duly recorded and that sufficed to me for the time being.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Leena:  I'm definitely a plotter.

I like to understand the big picture and what needs to happen in each chapter before I unleash creativity from the gilded cage where I keep it until a story is ready to be fully written. Creating an outline also enables me to know pretty accurately how much time I need to complete a bigger piece of work – I could never imagine committing to a timeline without being absolutely certain that I can pull it off!

If we do look into my dark past, I used to be a pantser. Let's just say I've learned my lesson. There was this story where it took me over 200 pages to get the main character and his horse to the right continent… After that, it was borderline impossible to get the pacing of that story back on tracks!



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Leena:  To me, it's not knowing if what I wrote, especially when it comes grammar and idioms, is at all correct English.

When I was in my teens, I really struggled to learn foreign languages. My father grew quite concerned about this and came up with a cunning plan. He dared me to read a novel from his fantasy and science fiction collection without the help of a dictionary.

Did I mention that his plan was cunning? The first book I read was none other than The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, and very soon indeed I found myself utterly and totally addicted to Wheel of Time and not so accidentally learned English.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Leena:  Endless curiosity in such scale that the world's kitten population is truly in danger here.

I've always been immensely interested in a wide variety of things: ancient Egypt, dinosaurs, fairy tales, royalty and aristocracy, French revolution, mechanical machines, early computers… I still go "ooh, shiny" every time I see an article about the history of a scientific discovery or an autobiography about a kick-ass woman. Usually after these "ooh, shiny" moments my brain starts ticking: where can I use this piece of information!

In terms of writers who've influenced me, Russian literature works fantastically in Finnish – though, I was probably the only kid in school who was ecstatic to read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. I have a long lasting love-love relationship with Patrick Rothfuss' novels and I really enjoy the works of Mary Robinette Kowal, Gail Carriger, and Maria Turtschaninoff.



TQDescribe The Five Daughters of the Moon in 140 characters or less.

Leena:  Court Intrigue. Revolution. A Great Thinking Machine that devours human souls. No one is safe, not even the Five Daughters of the Moon.



TQTell us something about The Five Daughters of the Moon that is not found in the book description.

Leena:  Some of my favorite scenes were brainstormed over lunch breaks with my friend at the Helsinki museum of modern arts. And the two dogs, Rafa and Mufu? Completely based on her Italian greyhounds – I studied their mannerism and habits for weeks to get the details right!



TQWhat inspired you to write The Five Daughters of the Moon? What appealed to you about writing historical fantasy based on the Romanovs?

Leena:  It all began with the Great Thinking Machine. For years and years now, I have wanted to tell the story of a girl genius who hacks the machine. I knew all along that the story would take place in an industrialized empire, some time after a revolution. But I really needed to know more about the world to be able to flesh out the storylines – and that's where intensive research kicked in.

One day, I happened upon an article about the Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov family. Midway through the article, inspiration struck me with such force that whole scenes unfolded before my eyes and I started hearing voice - the Five Daughters of the Moon came to life and demanded I tell their story.

Though The Five Daughters of the Moon is inspired by real historical events, it's to be noted that I would never presume to write about real persons. Rather, I explore how a fictitious character placed in similar circumstances might feel and react.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Five Daughters of the Moon?

Leena:  Sensory details are very important to me. I need to understand what everything feels, smells, and sounds like. And when applicable, I also want to know how everything tastes.

Whenever I visit an old house, a ship, or a forest that strikes me a as a place that I might want to use in a story later on, I stroll around brushing surfaces and… much to the imminent embarrassment of my friends and family, sniff things until I can provide a sufficient description of the object in question.

I'm also obsessed with getting even minute details right. My friends can testify on this – I've turned to their areas of expertise when it comes to the direction of shadows during specific timeframe, diseases that cause the desired symptoms, plants that grow only in certain latitudes, and fabrics that give just the right touch of authenticity.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Five Daughters of the Moon.

Leena:  I'm the luckiest author in the world when it comes to covers! I absolute adore the artwork by the super talented Balbusso sisters and the cover design by Christine Foltzer.

To me, the cover oozes the very essence of the novel. I love the girl's expression – it's haunted and haunting but defiant, all at the same time. Her posture is that of someone standing before a tide of change that can't be avoided, only accepted. And the composition of the cover, with the Summer Palace at the back and the mechanical peacock in the front – yes, I'm a lucky author indeed!



TQIn The Five Daughters of the Moon who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Leena:  I love all the daughters, and it's borderline impossible for me to pick a favorite from amongst frail Alina, opinionated Merile, angsty Sibilia, passionate Elise, and rational Celestia.

But if I do have to pick one, I'm going to have to say that Sibilia was the easiest--and funniest--character to write. Fifteen years old, over-the-top emotional, sarcastic, and just a teeny-weeny bit self-centered, there was never a boring moment with her! She took control of her scenes as soon as I started writing, and then steered off the tangent, revealing the juiciest plot twists.

The hardest character to write… As the point of view character changes in every chapter, each of the daughters was the most difficult one to write on their own turn. Keeping track of who knew what and when was beyond challenging at times!



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Five Daughters of the Moon?

Leena:  Fantasy, especially steampunk, as a genre provides the option to explore social issues relating to industrial revolution and its aftermath.

The Five Daughters of the Moon is written from the perspective of aristocracy. In the beginning, the main characters are very young and hence somewhat naïve. But as the novel progresses, they gradually become aware of the reasons behind the revolution and start questioning the things they earlier took for granted – and this also opens the window for them to consider social issues.



TQWhich question about The Five Daughters of the Moon do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Leena:  Is it true that some of the scenes came to you in the form of an opera?

Yes, this is indeed true. Almost all the main characters have their own theme, which plays on the background of every scene in which they make an appearance. I could see and hear these themes weaving together to form a grander structure – this novel was a very sensory experience to write.

There's one scene in particular (looking at you, Chapter 9) where my writing prompt to myself was "Elise and Captain Janlav sing their famous duet about [removed due to spoilers]"


TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Five Daughters of the Moon.

Leena:  I've gushed earlier about how much I loved writing Sibilia - and reading her early chapters always cracks me up. Here's a sample:

“Dear Father Moon.” Elise curtsied between giggles. I curtsied too, heart beating with guilt and excitement. Nurse Nookes would chide me if she learnt of this. To sneak from my room, to fool around outside without a coat or gloves!

But Elise spread her arms wide, bent her head back, and addressed our father. “Please send us lovers, handsome and tall.”

“Elise! You can’t just . . .”

Elise glanced at me, grinning. She fluttered her painted lashes. “I can’t just what? We are the Daughters of the Moon. We have the right to call out for his help when in desperate need.”

At that moment, I did consider if I really was that desperate to meet K again. His lineage is impeccable; not that I care about that sort of thing. He adores me. I’m sure of that, though we shared only one waltz, in secret, during Alina’s name day celebrations. But the look he cast me afterwards, from across the dance floor. Smoldering.



TQWhat's next?

Leena:  The second part of the Waning Moon duology, The Sisters of the Crescent Empress, is coming out in early November. You'd never guess, but I'm super excited about that!

I've also got two more stories set in the Waning Moon world in works. The first one takes place directly after The Sisters of the Crescent Empress. The second one will be the story about the Great Thinking Machine – at last!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Leena:  Thank you so much for having me!





The Five Daughters of the Moon
The Waning Moon Duology 1
Tor.com, July 25, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 224 pages

Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fueled by evil magic.

The Crescent Empire teeters on the edge of a revolution, and the Five Daughters of the Moon are the ones to determine its future.

Alina, six, fears Gagargi Prataslav and his Great Thinking Machine. The gagargi claims that the machine can predict the future, but at a cost that no one seems to want to know.

Merile, eleven, cares only for her dogs, but she smells that something is afoul with the gagargi. By chance, she learns that the machine devours human souls for fuel, and yet no one believes her claim.

Sibilia, fifteen, has fallen in love for the first time in her life. She couldn't care less about the unrests spreading through the countryside. Or the rumors about the gagargi and his machine.

Elise, sixteen, follows the captain of her heart to orphanages and workhouses. But soon she realizes that the unhappiness amongst her people runs much deeper that anyone could have ever predicted.

And Celestia, twenty-two, who will be the empress one day. Lately, she's been drawn to the gagargi. But which one of them was the first to mention the idea of a coup?

Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fuelled by evil magic.





About Leena

Writers of the Future
LEENA LIKITALO hails from Finland, the land of endless summer days and long, dark winter nights. She breaks computer games for a living and lives with her husband on an island at the outskirts of Helsinki, the capital. But regardless of her remote location, stories find their way to her and demand to be told. Leena is the author of The Waning Moon Duology, including The Five Daughters of the Moon and The Sisters of the Crescent Empress.






Website   ~  Twitter @LeenaLikitalo  ~  Facebook



Justice League - Comic-Con Sneak Peek


In theaters November 17, 2017

http://JusticeLeagueTheMovie.com
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https://twitter.com/justiceleaguewb
https://www.instagram.com/justiceleague/

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Doctor Who - Christmas Special 2017 Trailer


I am counting the days (154 days left) even though I will miss the 12th Doctor very much.