Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Interview with Jamey Bradbury, author of The Wild Inside

Please welcome Jamey Bradbury to The Qwillery as part of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Wild Inside is published on March 20th by William Morrow.

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

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

Jamey:  I was writing before I actually put pen to paper. I used to make up plays and force my younger brother and cousins to act them out. But the first time I remember plotting out a story and putting it on paper was in the first grade, around age six or seven. I wrote and illustrated a story about a boy who moved to a new town and couldn’t make friends at school, but did manage to make friends with a monster, instead.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Jamey:  Total by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer. I find if I plot things out too far in advance, the idea becomes stale to me—I don’t wind up surprising myself, or letting the characters surprise me.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jamey:  The first draft. I’m never happier than when I’m rewriting—which may account for my writing process, which consists of drafting until I run out of ideas or run up against a plot problem; then I circle back around and rewrite everything I’ve got, hoping the momentum will push me through whatever I was struggling with. I hate bumping around in the dark with no light, wondering where I am and what’s going to happen next—and that’s what a first draft feels like. But it’s worth it to get to the good stuff, i.e., the revision.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Jamey:  Alaska’s a big influence on my writing. Not just the landscape, which is pretty inspirational, but also its emptiness and distance. Alaska is such a large state, with so much space that’s only trees and wildlife and mountains. You feel the distance between people, between towns, between the state itself and the rest of the country. It’s like the physical manifestation of the psychic distance between people—the difficulty we have in truly knowing another person, which is what a lot of my writing ends up being about.

TQDescribe The Wild Inside in 140 characters or less.

Jamey:  Stubborn, feral Alaskan girl hunts animals, maybe stabs a guy, and hates being grounded. Finds people irritating, but likes dogs.

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

Jamey:  Since Tracy and her dad are mushers, they have about forty dogs they raise, train, and take care of. A lot of the dogs are named after dogs I know personally. For instance, Zip and Stella, in real life, are a Jack Russell terrier and a labradoodle I used to dog sit for. Homer and Canyon are actually two yellow labs that belong to some friends who took me sailing one time. The other dogs in the book have theme names, just like a lot of litters that belong to actual mushers—like the “words that convey movement” litter (Fly, Chug, Pogo).

TQWhat inspired you to write The Wild Inside? What appeals to you about writing a psychological thriller?

JameyThe Wild Inside started as an attempt to write a horror novel because that’s what I love to read—especially horror that’s mashed up with what critics might deem “literary” fiction. I like books that seem steeped in reality until the surreal or weird or terrifying creeps in. In a lot of ways, if The Wild Inside is a horror novel, Tracy ends up being the monster of her own story. I think that’s what ultimately turned the story into something that’s more akin to a psychological thriller—if you’re inside the “monster’s” head, privy to her struggle with being monstrous, you end up gaining a better understanding of the scary thing, which hopefully sparks a little empathy, in this case.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Wild Inside?

Jamey:  I’ve only been dog sledding once, and that was a short excursion with some mushers I visited when I first moved to Alaska as an AmeriCorps volunteer. So for the mushing aspects of the book, I read a good bit: books like Yukon Alone by John Balzar and Winterdance by Gary Paulson; the article “Out in the Great Alone” by Brian Phillips was helpful, too. Twitter has become a surprisingly helpful research tool, allowing me to follow mushers like Blair Braverman and Dallas Seavy. For animal and hunting and trapping information, I relied upon the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s very user-friendly website.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Wild Inside.

Jamey:  The cover of The Wild Inside was inspired by a poster for the 2017 movie It Comes at Night, which also depicts a dog, seen from behind as it gazes into the terrifying, endless night. I saw the poster and thought, “That’s my cover,” so I sent it to my editor, and the talented folks at William Morrow—including jacket designer Mumtaz Mustafa—took that bit of inspiration and made something I’m totally in love with. At the heart of this book lies the protagonist’s true love—dog sledding—so a dog made sense. But the way the dog seems poised, ears up, watchful, taking in the falling snow and whatever else might be out there—I feel like it captures the tension at the heart of the novel—the draw of wildness pushing against the need for home and family.

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

Jamey:  Tracy was the easiest. After writing and rewriting so much, I felt I knew her inside and out—her stubbornness and secretiveness, her desire to do good by her family, her simultaneous need to be her own person and live by her own rules. I grew to understand her reasons behind every action, even the truly terrible ones, even as I disapproved of the things she thought she had to do.

Tracy’s mother, Hannah, was the toughest to write, mostly because we only see her in flashback and through Tracy’s admittedly often unreliable filter. Even though Tracy is the one interpreting her mother’s actions and personality for the reader, as the writer I had to know Hannah better than her daughter did—to understand her motivations and her love and fear of her own daughter.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Wild Inside?

Jamey:  I knew early on that Jesse needed a secret—something that would pique Tracy’s curiosity and, eventually, draw the two of them together, based on their shared need to hide in plain sight. When I realized what Jesse’s secret was, I also realized that—because of Tracy’s unique ability to know other people—it was an opportunity to skip over all the questions (and doubts and suspicion) some people may have when someone reveals something like sexual preference or gender identity. With her ability to “know” a person so completely, Tracy wouldn’t have doubts or suspicion; she would accept a person for who they are, which I found refreshing.

It’s important to me to write about folks we don’t always see represented in popular culture (although, happily, representation seems to be growing and changing). It’s true that when you can see yourself in the media you consume, you can also see possibility, and perhaps understand yourself and others better. As an asexual person, for a long time I thought I was some kind of crazy anomaly; who talks about being asexual, unless you happen to be a plant? It wasn’t until I started to see asexual people represented in film and television that I realized I wasn’t alone.

I also think it’s important to tell stories about all kinds of people that aren’t just the story about their “otherness.” Not every story about a gay person has to be about their coming out. Not every story about a person of color needs to be an object lesson. I want to see stories that are just stories, that happen to have gay or trans people or people of color as their protagonists and supporting characters.

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

Jamey:  Maybe, “Where can I find the Peter Kleinhaus book Tracy loves so much?” Which is a trick question, because you can’t: I made up How I Am Undone by Peter Kleinhaus—and frankly, writing the excerpts from that was a heck of a lot easier than writing The Wild Inside. Probably because I could just write the pretty parts and not worry about making the plot make sense. But who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll tell Peter Kleinhaus’s whole story, too.

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

Jamey:  “There are books out there that when you read them, you wonder how some stranger could know exactly what’s in your own mind.” I like that because it’s how I feel when I read a really great book. And because, like Tracy, sometimes I wish other people were as easy to get to know as a really great book.

One more: “There is satisfaction in running fast…My mind travels somewhere else, and I become only breath and bone and muscle. The feeling is serene and focused, powerful and energized, all at the same time.” Because that’s exactly how I feel on the rare occasion I manage to hit a meditative state when I’m out running

TQWhat's next?

Jamey:  I’m working through the first draft of my second novel, which is inspired by two things: the Winchester Mystery House and Homer, Alaska, which is a small coastal town in the southeast part of the state. There’s a spit down in Homer which features the longest road into ocean waters in the world. In my book, at the end of this road, a woman has built a massive house with doors in every surface—large doors, tiny doors, doors within doors, doors in ceilings, doors in floors. Every door she opens gives her access to a different point in her own life—and, possibly, to points in alternate versions of her life. It’s a book about memory, time travel, history, dementia, and family.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Wild Inside
William Morrow, March 20, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

"The Wild Inside is an unusual love story and a creepy horror novel — think of the Brontë sisters and Stephen King." —John Irving

A promising talent makes her electrifying debut with this unforgettable novel, set in the Alaskan wilderness, that is a fusion of psychological thriller and coming-of-age tale in the vein of Jennifer McMahon, Chris Bohjalian, and Mary Kubica.

A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.

But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.

Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.

It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.

Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?

About Jamey

Photo by Brooke Taylor
Born in Illinois, Jamey Bradbury has lived in Alaska for fifteen years, leaving only briefly to earn her MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Winner of an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, she has published fiction in Black Warrior Review, Sou’wester, and Zone 3, and she has written for the Anchorage Daily News, TheBillfold.com, and storySouth. Jamey lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @JameyBradbury

STELLAR Coming in June

Strap in for an all-new science fiction tale from
Joseph Keatinge and Bret Blevins

PORTLAND, OR, 03/19/2018 — Writer Joseph Keatinge (GLORY, SHUTTER) and legendary artist Bret Blevins (New Mutants, Sleepwalker) team up for the spacefaring series STELLAR—created by Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri—this June from Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment.

Stellar was taken as a child and transformed into the ultimate weapon, one that would end an intergalactic war. She succeeded…at everything except finding peace. Now, she’s reduced to bounty hunting, scouring the worlds she’s broken in search of redemption.

But there are other weapons loose in the galaxy, and it seems they just can’t leave the war behind them.



PORTLAND, OR, 03/19/2018 — Renowned cartoonist Farel Dalrymple (POP GUN WAR, The Wrenchies) will release two very different companions to The Wrenchies this June: the first issue of the miniseries PROXIMA CENTAURI, and a paperback collection of IT WILL ALL HURT.

PROXIMA CENTAURI is a psychedelic science fantasy action comic book drama that follows one of the protagonists of The Wrenchies: teenage wizard adventurer Sherwood Breadcoat. Sherwood is currently stuck on Proxima Centauri, a manufactured dimensional sphere 4.243 light-years from Earth. He’s on the prowl for an escape from its confounding spectral zone—and for a way back to his brother—but he also has to deal with his confusing emotions, alien creatures, and all sorts of unknown, fantastic dangers.

SHANGHAI RED Coming in June


PORTLAND, OR, 03/19/2018 — Eisner-nominated writer Christopher Sebela (High Crimes, Heartthrob, We(l)come Back), artist Joshua Hixson (The Black Woods), and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Felix & Macabber) team up for the all-new revenge thriller SHANGHAI RED, coming this June from Image Comics.

“Moving to Portland, Oregon was the thing that jump-started my comics career, so I wanted to pay it back the best way I know how: by putting it in a book,” said Sebela. “After studying its history and going on a tour of the Shanghai Tunnels, I came out with Red, our main character. She’s as bloody and complicated as the city she’s come back to, and getting to do justice to both of them alongside Josh and Hassan has made this book a dream/nightmare come true for me.”

Red is one of hundreds shanghaied out of Portland in the late 1800s. Drugged, kidnapped, and sold to a ship’s captain, she wakes up on a boat headed out to sea for years, unable to escape or reveal who she truly is. Now, she’s on her way back, in a boat covered in blood, to find her family—and to track down the men responsible for stealing her life out from under her.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The View From Monday - March 19, 2018

Happy Monday!

There are 5 debuts this week:

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury;

Tomorrow by Damian Dibben;

Torn (The Unraveled Kingdom 1) by Rowenna Miller;

Sisyphean by Dempow Torishima;


Anna Undreaming by Thomas Welsh.

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

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

A Veil of Spears (Song of Shattered Sands 3) by Bradley P. Beaulieu;

Veiled Enchantments (Veiled Magic 3) by Deborah Blake;

Malice of Crows (The Shadow 3) by Lila Bowen is out in Trade Paperback;

Ally (On the Bones of Gods 3) by K. Eason;


Evolution Omnibus by Stephanie Saulter (eBook Bundle).

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.

March 20, 2018
Stone Mad Elizabeth Bear SF/SP/HistF - A Karen Memory Adventure
A Veil of Spears Bradley P. Beaulieu D/DF - Song of Shattered Sands 3
Veiled Enchantments (e) Deborah Blake PNR - Veiled Magic 3
Malice of Crows (h2tp) Lila Bowen F - The Shadow 3
The Wild Inside (D) Jamey Bradbury LF
The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea Ellen Datlow (Ed) H - Anthology
Tomorrow (D) Damian Dibben Animals/Hist/HistF/MR
Khârn: The Red Path Chris Dows SF - Khârn the Betrayer 2
Ally K. Eason DF - On the Bones of Gods 3
Lie Close To Me (e) Cynthia Eden PNR - Lazarus Rising 5
Fall of Light (h2tp) Steven Erikson F - The Kharkanas Trilogy 2
Covert Game Christine Feehan PNR/SupTh/GenEng - GhostWalker 14
Cult of the Spiral Dawn Peter Fehervari SF - Genestealer Cults 2
Violent Cases - 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition Neil Gaiman
Dave McKean
Dante (h2tp) Guy Haley SF - Blood Angels
Blood Demons Richard Jeffries H
The Folded Land Tim Lebbon DF - Relics 2
The Golden Vial Thomas Locke F - Legends of the Realm 3
The Greatest Story Ever Told Una McCormack F - NewCon Press Novellas Set 3 #4
Torn (D) Rowenna Miller F - The Unraveled Kingdom 1
SINdicate J.T. Nicholas SF/CyP/GenEng - The New Lyons Sequence 2
Talon of God (h2tp) Wesley Snipes
Ray Norman
A Guide for Murdered Children Sarah Sparrow LF/Sus/Occ/Sup
Sisyphean (D- English) Dempow Torishima
Daniel Huddleston (Tr)
SF - Sisyphean
The Past Is Never Tiffany Quay Tyson LF/SoGothic
Anna Undreaming (D) Thomas Welsh DF/UF - The Metiks Fade Trilogy 1

March 22, 2018
Evolution Omnibus (Gemsigns, Binary, and Regeneration) (e) Stephanie Saulter SF/GenEng - Evolution

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

Ab - Absurdist
AC - Alien Contact
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
Cr - Crime
CyP - Cyberpunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
GN - Graphic Novel
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HSF - Hard Science Fiction
HU - Humor
LC Literary Criticism
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legend and Mythology
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
MTI - Media Tie-In
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PoliSci - Political Science
Psy - Psychological
Rel - Religious
RF - Romantic Fantasy
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SO - Space Opera
SocSci - Social Science
SoGothic - Southern Gothic
SP - Steampunk
Sup - Supernatural
SupM - Supernatural Mystery
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Review: Semiosis by Sue Burke

Author:  Sue Burke
Publisher:  Tor Books, February 6, 2018
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  US$25.99 (print); US$13.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780765391353 (print); 9780765391377 (eBook)

Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.

Chicago Review of Books—Best New Books of February
SyFy Wire—9 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels to Read in February
The Verge—18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Read in February
Unbound Worlds—Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of February 2018
Kirkus—The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in February

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches...and waits...

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.

Melanie's Thoughts:

Its hard to decide whether the first colonists from Earth on a planet far far away were brave or foolish. Only the rich can survive on earth and a group of adventurers decide to take their chances to establish a colony on another planet. Crash landing on a different planet they find landscape that's lush and where the sentient plants produce delicious fruits...until one day they don't. One day they turned and started to poison the colonists. Only a few survive and Burke tells their story. The story of the original colonists and the following generations trying to survive among planets that are beautiful and deadly in equal measure. Things change when the colonists discover they share the planet with another alien species. The fragile balance of the ecosystem is in jeopardy and it's the plants who are really calling the shots.

The story of the colonists on Pax is told through POV chapters which span five generations. Each new generation struggles to survive alongside the sentient plants that hold their very existence amongst their green leaves, twisted roots and razor sharp thorns. The story really starts to take a turn when two things happen. First, the colonists discover they share the planet with another alien species who may or may not be friendly. The second big twist occurs when one of the plants - a colourful bamboo - starts to communicate with them, warning them of dangers and enlisting other plants to help them survive. The bamboo even has its own POV chapters and this is where the story gives us a mini botany lesson. Through these chapters it is clear that the colonists are not the dominate species on the planet.

I think that the concept of Burke's story is very interesting. Sentient plants who treat humans as slaves is new and fresh. However, I found that the story dragged, particularly in the middle. I didn't find the human characters that engaging and therefore, it was a bit difficult to be that invested in their fate. In fact, it was Svetland (the bamboo) who I thought that was most well developed and interesting. As a debut this demonstrates that Burke has an amazing imagination but a little more attention developing engaging characters would have moved this book from the 'ok' category to the 'awesome' category for me.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Giveaway: The Child by Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton's The Child came out in Trade Paperback on March 6th. Thanks to the publisher we have a copy to giveaway. US Only! See 'The Giveaway' below to see how enter.

The Child 
Berkley, March 6, 2018
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Hardcover and eBook, June 27, 2017

An NPR Best Book of the Year
A Bustle Best Thriller Novel of the Year

The Child is a perfect blend of beach read and book club selection. It’s a fascinating and fitting follow-up to [Barton’s] best-selling debut novel, The Widow. . . .[A] page-turning whodunit….A novel that is both fast-paced and thought-provoking, it keeps the reader guessing right to the end.”—USA Today

“Fiona Barton brings back reporter Kate Waters from the best-selling The Widow and delivers another winner with The Child.…A truly engaging tale. Those who enjoyed The Widow will discover that Barton has only gotten better.”—The Associated Press

“An engrossing, irresistible story about the coming to light of a long-buried secret and an absolutely fabulous read—I loved it!”—Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

“Tense, tantalizing, and ultimately very satisfying…definitely one of the year’s must-reads.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense, now in paperback.
As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers human remains, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but she’s at a loss for answers. As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier. A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. She soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

About Fiona

Photo by Jenny Lewis
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she currently lives in southwest France.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @figbarton

The Giveaway

What:  1 Trade Paperback copy of The Child by Fiona Barton. US ONLY

  • Send an email to theqwillery . contests @ gmail.com [remove the spaces]
  • In the subject line, enter “Child“ with or without the quotation marks.
  • In the body of the email, please provide your name and full mailing address. The winning address is used only to mail the novel(s) and is provided The Qwillery only for that purpose. All other address information will be deleted by The Qwillery once the giveaway ends.
Who:  The giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a United States mailing address.

When:  The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on March 31, 2018. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

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

Deluxe Hardcovers - Black Science, Low, and Tokyo Ghost


PORTLAND, OR, 03/16/2018 — A BLACK SCIENCE PREMIERE VOL 1 REMASTERED EDITION by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera will kick off the first of the forthcoming Giant Generator deluxe hardcovers to hit stores this May, followed that same month by both LOW BOOK ONE by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini and TOKYO GHOST by Rick Remender and Sean Gordon Murphy.

“Giant Generator is a studio specializing in the development of unique and top flight comic books co-created with passion in partnership with the best artists in the world,” said Remender. “The continued sell outs of our line of oversized hardcovers is a testament to the love each art team has dumped into their work, work that deserves to be printed in this prestige format to be enjoyed by fans of true craft who want to support creators' endeavors to develop their own original ideas.”

Francesco Mattina SPAWN #284 Covers


PORTLAND, OR, 03/16/2018 — Image/Todd McFarlane Productions is pleased to reveal jaw-dropping cover art by Francesco Mattina for SPAWN #284—including black & white and virgin (without trade dress) versions.

In SPAWN #284 fans will see Spawn turn himself in to the Federal authorities, but what seems like the end for Spawn is just another ploy to advance his master plan.

SPAWN #284 Cover A by Mattina (Diamond Code JAN180829), Cover B black & white by Mattina (Diamond Code JAN180830), and Cover C virgin by Mattina (Diamond Code JAN180831) will be available on Wednesday, April 4th. The final order cutoff deadline for retailers is this Monday, March 19th.

[click to embiggen]

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 five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino. 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

Friday, March 16, 2018

Guest Blog by S.L. Lahna, author of The Bulletproof Spy #1: The Silver Bullet Affair

Please welcome S.L. Lahna to The Qwillery! The Silver Bullet Affair, The Bulletproof Spy #1, was published on March 15th.

Queer Culture in Russia: a Brief History

Alright, I’m going to kindly ask my American readers here to take everything you think you know about Russia’s stance on the LGBT community and throw it into a trash can. What you see today is not how it has always been, and not even close to how it began.

Before the Soviets and Stalin and the Bolshevik Revolution, we have the Tsars. The Tsarist period of queer history is its foundation, and while so much is wrong with the Tsarist rule for commoners, being gay during this time period is pretty damn good. At this point in history, there are no laws against homosexuality. It is seen within the culture to be rude and overbearing for a man to constantly want to have sex with his wife. She has better things to do. The notion of women having a sex drive then is ludicrous. But you can’t have sex with another woman, that’s cheating and the Russian Orthodox Church will have a very unpleasant punishment for you should it come out.

What do you do? You go to the local bathhouse and sleep with male prostitutes. Which is completely legal.

The only known sodomy laws were part of the church, and they were so mild in consequence that it was barely a slap on the wrist. There were no public trials or shaming whatsoever involved in the few who came forward.

Peter the Great doesn’t attempt to draft sodomy laws until after his great tour of Europe. When he returns in 1698, his conclusion is that while a law of some sort should be put into place, naming the thing may cause it to spread. To put it simply: Peter the Great is in such denial about the already thriving homosexual subculture in Russia that he believes he writes a law saying sodomy is prohibited, people will realize that sodomy is a thing they can do and then go do it. And so, the first true law prohibiting sodomy is drawn up and reads that “unnatural shamelessness” is prohibited.

This law remains in place for over 186 years. The 1835 criminal code prohibits consensual sodomy on punishment of exile to Siberia. Aggravated sodomy, which was defined as any case of sodomy or under force or the abuse of a position of power, was prohibited on punishment of exile with hard labor.

This lasts less than a hundred years; sodomy becomes decriminalized after the Bolshevik Revolution during the first Bolshevik criminal code in 1922.

So, what does all of this add up to?

It means that homosexuality in Russia has a solid foundation of being both religiously and morally acceptable. You can see this during the dialogue of when homosexuality becomes decriminalized; the mutual agreement by lawmakers is that homosexuality is a private matter and what citizens decide to do in a consensual manner in their own bedrooms is no one’s business but their own.

Journals from 1925 to 1927 estimated that over 5,000 queer men were living in Moscow during that time, with even larger numbers in St. Petersburg, which was regarded as the true center for queer subculture.

However, LGBT subculture was not only limited to cities. Diary accounts detail men from farming villages entering cities and immediately assimilating themselves into the queer culture present there; they know the signals, meeting places, and exactly what to say without having to ask a soul, which astonished Russian doctors and psychologists who were trying to understand where queer culture came from. Was it the cities? Was it the Tsars? What? Later it was even theorized that the Soviets created homosexuality. However, these research leaders were equally outweighed by those who believed that homosexuals posed no threat to society or issue to anyone; this is why the laws regarding homosexuality go back and forth depending on the ruler at the time period.

The answer to the question no medical practitioner or politician could solve was simple, but it wasn’t the one anyone wanted to acknowledge: LGBT culture existed in Russia from the start. And that means that when we go to write characters in Russia at any time period, we have to take in account that the shame we may encounter as Americans is not the same as in Russia; it is far less.

And that’s why its important to never go into a writing project with your own Americanized views on other cultures. Because unless you’re specifically educated on it via college level courses, you can almost certainly get it wrong.

To learn more about the growth and development of queer culture in Russia, you can check out the wonderfully put together and thoroughly researched Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia by Dan Healey. And if you’d like to see this history come to life through a quick ass queer Russian spy, check out the Silver Bullet Affair book one in the Bulletproof Spy series.

The Silver Bullet Affair
The Bulletproof Spy #1
March 15, 2018, eBook
Cover art: Dante Saunders

The year is 1965, and Alan Gable is the best spy America doesn’t know they have. Operating off books and outside the law, Alan has been tasked to do the impossible—get inside a laboratory in Moscow, get the Russian’s lead nuclear scientist, and get out, all without the KGB ever knowing he was there. No human could do it.

But Alan isn’t human.

Yulian’s life is perfect. A top counter-intelligence agent for the KGB, favored by the head of Section 1. His best friend is happily awaiting his first child. His indiscretions have remained discreet.

Until Dr. Tamm and his entire lab goes missing, and Yulian’s life starts to unravel.

The only way to survive long enough to get the bottom of the mystery is for Alan and Yulian to work together. If they can survive each other that is.

A madcap mashup of Hellboy and The Man From Uncle, The Silver Bullet Affair is a winning combination of espionage and the supernatural, an action-packed novella from start to finish lead by LGBT characters. Fans of the genre who’ve grown weary of the same old James Bond song and dance will find a new series to love with the Bulletproof Spy.

About the Author

S. L. Lahna goes by they pronouns and knows way too much about Weird Things and Cold War history. Will tell you all of the reasons why James Bond is Wrong. They are hard at work on various novels for teens and adults. Some are about asexual magicians and their demonic mentors, some are about mentally-ill monster hunters, some are about pansexual teenage boys trying to survive a horror movie. Their day job is tearing apart books for money as a freelance editor at Word Vagabond. The Bulletproof Spy series is their debut novella.

Twitter @Vagabond_Sue  ~  Facebook