My Favorite Debuts So Far 2013

2013 is half over and I’ve read some incredible books and a lot of them have been debuts. I wanted to honor my favorites–the ones already out and the ones I’ve been lucky enough to read that will be available later this year.  (not in any sort of order)

Favorites that are out now:
RebootArclightIn the After
Reboot by Amy Tintera, Arclight by Josin L. McQuien, In the After by Dimitria Lunetta

ItSoBSplinteredSome Quiet Place
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters, Splintered by A.G. Howard, Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

Favorites that will be out later this year:
All Our YesterdaysThe Bone Season
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (releases September 3rd), The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (releases August 20th)

 What have been your favorite debuts this year so far? Which are you most looking forward to later in the year?

Interview with Josin L McQuein Author of Arclight & Premeditated

Today I’m so excited to have Josin L. McQuein author of the sci-fi thriller Arclight on the blog. I read Arclight recently and it is one of my very favorites this year. The world and characters are incredibly original and I absolutely love the ominous aura throughout. Plus, I was actually surprised by the twists and turns.

ArclightWhere did your inspiration for the Dark and the Fade come from?
Ha! So you want to hear the “ant” story, do you? I won’t give you the long version – because it is *long*, but basically, the Fade developed from a horrifying hiking experience in South America. Thankfully, I only heard about it second hand, but the hikers were trapped in a small hotel with no electricity during an army ant migration.  One of the women described waking up to the feel of something crawling on her in the night, and the sight of the wall paper “moving.”

It was ants swarming down the walls, and over the floors, and over the hikers! AAH! Through the night, they watched this endless horde of ants stream through and eat all of the small rodents and scorpions, etc, they crossed. It was an image I never lost.

The Dark was the product of Arclight starting out as a space opera. The Fade lived in deep space and glowed. When I changed the story to an earth setting. I kept that eerie space-like blackness and silence for the dark. As creepy as it is in space, it’s more unnerving on earth.

Marina, Rue and Tobin are all very unique and multi-dimensional; do you imagine your characters or their world first?
It depends on the book. For Arclight, it was definitely the world first, because of the way the idea stemmed from that hiker’s story.

With Premeditated, it was the opposite. I had the image of this girl who was wearing a school uniform and hiding behind a set of stone steps. It was such a strange picture to have in my head because the way she looked felt totally at odds with her personality. She turned out to be the main character, who is hiding inside a school uniform, as cover to find the boy she blames for hurting someone she loves.

And with a book I’ve been working on for a while now, called Sing Down the Stars, I had both at the same time. I saw a character dressed as a mermaid in a sideshow carnival, which is a pretty specific atmosphere. That girl wasn’t the main character, but she was integral

You created such an original concept with the Fade have you considered writing from one of their point of views?
I did actually consider doing a chapter or two from Rue’s point of view, but the way they communicate is so odd, I’m not sure a reader could stand to see more than a paragraph or two in their “voice.” They really don’t phrase things like a human, so you pretty much need a translator to fill the gap when things get weird. Also, given the lack of grammatical structure, there’s a terrible risk of Rue and the others sounding like they’re using “broken” English, which isn’t something anyone would enjoy.

I would love to read a prequel focusing on how the world descended into the Dark, can we ever hope for something like that (as you can tell I really just want to continue reading about your world)?
It’s always been my hope/intent for Arclight to be a trilogy, and then to tell the story of how the original survivors banded together against the dark. If you’ve read Arclight, you’ll kow whose story this would be, but I don’t want to spoil that twist by using the character’s name.

Would you rather live in the Arclight or in the Dark?
That’s the big question, isn’t it? Neither of those places is exactly what they seem to be, and each has its own secrets and shortcomings. I think the better question is *could* you live in the Arclight or the Dark? The way the Dark exists, it’s really not possible for a human to live there for long. There’s no regular plant life or food source, so the Arclight’s a necessity for the people who live there.

I see that there is a sequel listed for Arclight (so happy about that!) called Meridian, was Arclight originally a standalone or always planned as a series? How many books can we expect?
It was always a series of independent novels. I’m not a fan of the first novel cliff-hanger, which is why there’s a “hard” ending on Arclight. But, I think that ending is why there’s so much surprise when people hear about the sequel.

Meridian isn’t a rehash of book one. You’ll see the characters venturing further out to face a threat that affects both them and the Fade. There’s a deeper exploration of the Dark itself, and what – if anything – is left of the world beyond on. Marina’s having difficulties with her still-emerging memories. The Arclight also finds that their discoveries concerning the Fade in book one were only partial; the Fade have been keeping a huge secret, and it’s one they don’t let go of easily.I’m hoping for four books, but we’ll have to see how things go.

You have another book releasing this year (October), Premeditated, which is in the contemporary genre. Could you tell us about it?
Premeditated is “the little novel that could.” I almost didn’t finish it, but got some encouragement from someone in the industry to polish it off. I didn’t think anyone would want to read about some girl and her plot for vengeance.

Basically, Premeditated is the story of Dinah, whose younger cousin Claire tried to kill herself — or so everyone thinks. But Dinah knows better because she knows where Claire kept her biggest secrets. She uses a diary, some text messages and letters as a road map to reconstruct the last three weeks of Claire’s life.

Once she discovers what had Claire so upset, Dinah makes up her mind to rebalance things on her own – she’s convinced that this will make Claire better. She enlists the help of her friends and goes undercover at Claire’s school to find the guy responisble for Claire’s misery so that she can return the favor by deconstructing his perfect life. What she finds is not what she expects.

It’s a story of assumptions, betrayals, love and loyalty – and yes, revenge – and what it costs.

Is it more or less challenging writing your characters rooted in our reality?
Both have their challenges. With fantasy or sci-fi, you have a lot to remember. You have to think up the rules and keep them consistent throughout the story. You have to worry about things making sense.

With reality based settings, you have to double check your facts, and triple check your assumptions. You don’t want to describe a place only to find out that it’s not anything like you’ve said. If tattoos are illegal in a certain state (which, sadly, they are), then you can’t have someone getting inked at a shop on a Saturday.

Now to some more random questions:
What are you reading right now?
I feel awful saying this, but: my own books. I’m knee deep in editing Meridian for my editor and doing edits on Sing Down the Stars so my agent can send it out on submission. Doing two storylines, in two different voices, from two different POV’s, doesn’t leave a lot of room for me to concentrate on another book.
However, I’m smack in the middle of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I want to get back to it ASAP, and Amazon is taunting me with reminders about The Eternity Cure. Once June rolls around, I’ll be diving into Siege and Storm.

Is there a character or book you wish you had written?
Books are so much a part of the person who writes them, that it’s impossible to answer this. If I were to wish, I’d wish for a novel with atmosphere and heart, that had mass appeal and characters so vibrant they could step off a page and read with you.

And as a special treat, here’s the first page of Josin’s upcoming book Premeditated:

Killing someone’s easier than you think. All it takes is decision, aim, and follow through. Like basketball, only you shouldn’t expect people to leap to their feet and cheer if you hit the free throw.The whole thing’s a done deal in a matter of seconds.

Revenge, on the other hand, and I mean real, calculated, make-him-sorry-he-was-ever-born vengeance, takes time and planning and patience. You have to smile when you want to scream. You have to look your target in the eye when you’d rather claw his eyes out. And you have to ignore the slow spreading burn in your gut until it turns to ice, and sets your resolve so completely, you can’t turn away without splintering.

Do it right, and their blood will be on their own hands. Just another tragic teen suicide buried on the back of page three with a memorial sheet in the school annual. Lots of flowers, and stuffed animals, and card collages stuck to the door. Pretty words and puffy, red-rimmed eyes from people who question “why,” but don’t look hard enough to find out. No matter how messy it gets, or how much blood’s involved, suicide’s a clean kill.

Though, any scenario ending with Brooks Walden in a mangled heap would have worked for me.

About the AuthorMy Photo
Josin L. McQuein was born and raised in Texas and can trace every place she’s lived in by the movies that were filmed there. She currently lives with three crazy dogs in a town so small that the buffalo outnumber the people and things like subways and consistent internet service are creations of that far away fantasy land called “Civilization.”

Find her on Twitter, Goodreads and her Blog

Arclight is out now and Premeditated releases October 2013

Related Posts:
Review of Arclight

Review of Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

ArclightArclight
By: Josin L. McQuein
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Purchased

My Rating:
star

I read Arclight with my fellow blogger Scott Reads It check out Scott’s review here. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I read a book along with a friend. It was wonderful to be able to talk about what I just read.

The Summary (via Goodreads):
No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

The Story:
Arclight has an original premise which kept me interested from start to finish. McQuein has created an intriguing concept with the Arclight, Grey and Dark and with the Fade. As I read I had a hard time really grasping the full scope of the world and its inhabitants. This might frustrate some readers but I honestly loved it. It kept me alert the entire time I was reading, looking for clues and piecing things together. In no part of the story did I want to stop learning about the world McQuein described. I wanted more; I need to know about the Fade: do they eat? sleep? I want to know every detail possible to help flesh out this vastly unique world.

The thing I loved so much about Arclight was the subtle creepiness. Nothing out right scary but the Fade and Dark are ominous. The lack of knowing all the details really let my imagination run and added to the atmosphere. Part of my enjoyment of this book was in the mystery of the world and bad guys. I want so badly for there to be a prequel that takes a character through the world’s transition to Dark.

The Characters:
For the most part I enjoyed all the characters McQuein created and developed. Our main character, Marina was strong-willed and resilient. I enjoyed watching her discover answers to her questions and grow. The one character that was lacking most for me was Tobin. I never found myself really caring about what became of him though I didn’t dislike him, he just fell to the wayside because I cared much more for Rue. Tobin was also rather belligerent in the beginning and his character’s growth seemed sudden and a little disjointed.

Final Thoughts:
I really loved Arclight because of its mysterious Fade and ominous atmosphere mixed with some great sci-fi elements. I am beyond happy that there will be a sequel.

Extras:
Universal has picked up rights to Arclight. Read the article here.

Teaser Tuesday #3

Teaser Tuesdays
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

ArclightThis week I’m reading Arclight by Josin L. McQuein along with Scott Reads It. I’m at 25% and so far I’m really enjoying it. Things are building up slowly and I have a lot more questions than answers. I’m very curious where this story will go.

Danger isn’t something to be appreciated; it’s something to be avoided. And if thinks I don’t understand that, then he’s not half as smart as I give him credit for. pg. 63

Summary (via Goodreads):
No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?