Announcing my novel debut!


Screencap of Publisher's Marketplace deal report, reading: "Samantha Mills's THE RISE AND FALL OF WINGED ZEMOLAI, told in two timelines, following one woman's rise to power and fall from grace, as she gives up everything to serve a charismatic leader and then unravels the truth of what really happened, in a city whose gods have gone to sleep after bestowing technology like magic, leaving their followers struggling to understand why, to Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications, with Jaymee Goh editing, by Lisa Rodgers at JABberwocky Literary Agency (world English).

I’ve got your sleeping gods, your towers built to reach the heavens, your women who’ve done things they may or may not regret. The story focuses on one woman’s disillusionment with a cause she dedicated her life to, and her attempt to atone for her mistakes. It opens when Zemolai is cast out of her religious sect after twenty-six years of service to a warrior god, and moves back and forth to the war that brought her sect into power, as she finally begins to understand what happened in her youth.

It is more generally about crises of faith and the grief of realizing your idols have failed you. I wrote the first draft all the way back in 2017, while processing some difficult feelings. I then set it aside for a couple of years while I focused on short stories and an entirely different book. By the time I picked ZEMOLAI up again last year, I had an entirely new perspective on grief and intergenerational trauma and regret, and I had leveled up enough as a writer that I finally felt I could do the underlying concept justice.

I’m thrilled to be working on this book with Jaymee Goh and Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications. We’ve worked together once before (when my short story “Strange Waters” was collected into The New Voices of Science Fiction) and it was a great experience, so I really feel that the book is in good hands.

It is slated for release in early 2024. We’ll get a firmer date dialed in once I’ve gotten through initial edits — at which point I will of course be shouting it from the rooftops. ;D

Talk to you soon!

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