Sunday, July 12, 2015

Interview with Loren Rhoads author of The Dangerous Type

You have given lectures on reading your own work. What do you find is the key thing writers miss when looking at their own work?

When they perform their own work, writers tend to think about the scenes that were fun to write, or bits of research that excited them. They don't always think about what would make sense taken out of context, what illuminates the characters to people unfamiliar with the story, or what is most likely to sell the book to the audience to whom they're speaking. They need to think as someone coming to the book cold rather than as someone intimately familiar with it.

What is the one thing you find most challenging being an author?

I have a hard time switching gears from one project to the next.  I want to work on something straight through until it's finished, which isn't realistic when you're waiting on an editor's notes or for the proofreader to get back to you.  I tend to fritter away my waiting time, tidying up my social media sites or fiddling with my blog, instead of just jumping ahead on the next big project that needs my attention.

In the beginning of The Dangerous Type, it is talked of the Templars being basically extinct, how important was that to put at the beginning?

The extermination of the Templars is crucial to the trilogy.  It's the most important change in the galaxy since Raena was sent to prison.  She expected the War to have ended during her imprisonment, but she never predicted that Humanity would lose so badly after they committed the Templar genocide.  The Templars may have been the first space travelers in the galaxy (none of the surviving peoples know) and a large variety of widely used technology -- from translation devices to star drives -- is based on Templar math. In the subsequent books, the tech is breaking down galaxywide because no one really understands how Templar tech works.

Do you feel there are now more strong women roles in books than there used to be and how do you feel that impacts on today's fiction?

There are definitely more -- and more varied -- roles for women than there used to be.  In fact, I'm interested in the way the woman warrior trope has morphed. Originally women had to be tougher than the boys. The lone female, surrounded by men, was always an aberration. She was not at all like other girls.  In answer to that, I wanted Raena to have strong relationships with other females. The only healthy relationship in her life, in the beginning, is with her adopted sister.  On the Veracity, she serves with a feline female hacker and a neutral gendered engineer, whose translator speaks with a feminine voice. It was important to me that Raena have friends who weren't male and that they talk about things other than men. I think today's fiction is more realistic because of its variety.

How would you describe Raena?

Raena stands under five feet tall, so people underestimate her.  She's always worn her hair long and straight down her back, so in the beginning of The Dangerous Type, she whacks it off with a knife.  The uneven result amuses her, so she leaves it that way.  She has several large scars as mementoes of the rough life she's led.  She sees them as talismans that keep the past from hurting her again.  She's fierce in her loves and hates, extremely loyal, and lethal.

Revenge seems to be one of the themes in The Dangerous Type, do you think people want revenge on certain situations more often than not?

I based the framework of The Dangerous Type on martial arts revenge movies.  The warrior is beaten by the bad guy, then trains himself up until the climactic battle at the end.  Justified vengeance is always the motivating factor in those stories. In The Dangerous Type, Raena isn't merely revenging herself on the master who trained her and abused her sister. She's also avenging the Templars. There are several levels of vengeance going on.

In real life, I don't think revenge is the answer, but I find it very satisfying in stories from Harry Potter to Ancillary Justice.

How would you describe the relationship between Raena and Thallian?

Complicated.  She'd never had any power in her life, so she was captivated by him.  The longer she spent serving as his aide in public and his lover in secret, the more she realized that he was a psychopath.  She wouldn't have ever had the courage to leave him, until her sister was picked up as a political prisoner.  Even after they escaped, Raena felt that it was only a matter of time until Thallian captured and killed her.  On the other hand, Thallian lives in a galaxy where no one seems real to him.  After she left, he realized that Raena was real.  He understood what he'd lost.  So of course he would do anything in the galaxy to have her back.

Thallian seems like a villain than at times he seems to have a softer side. Is that an act on his part or does he really care?

I'm particularly fascinated by the personas people create for themselves -- and for other people -- and how those personas affect how the characters are perceived and perceive themselves. The answer to your question depends on which point of view is telling the story.  

What influenced you to write the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy?

I wrote stories about Raena in the early 90s for a zine published at MediaWest Con.  At that time, Raena's story ended during the War, when she was imprisoned in a Templar tomb and forgotten.  I've always wondered what would happen to her when she got out, what it would feel like to be a time traveler who drops back into the lives of people she used to know during the War.  Everything has changed, except Raena's outward appearance.  Could her friends accept who she's become?  Could she accept the way the galaxy has changed?  The only way to find the answers was to write the book.  I have NaNoWriMo to thank for getting them finished.  When I approached Night Shade about the first book, I mentioned I had a short NaNoWriMo draft of the second one.  He asked if I could write a third book and sold the series as a trilogy.

Can you give readers a sneak peek into the last two books of In the Wake of the Templars trilogy?

I wanted to play with different tropes in each book.  The Dangerous Type is a space opera revenge story centered around two interlocking love triangles.  Kill By Numbers is a Philip K. Dick mind warp, which deals with the failure of the Templar tech and looks into the nature of memory and truth.  No More Heroes is an interspecies love story set in a courtroom drama that ends with a time travel attack and rescue, as a venue for exploring the way a strong leader can influence people and inspire the best in them. The second and third books will both be out before the end of the year.

Are you making any upcoming appearances?

Thanks for asking!  I've got three scheduled so far.  I'll be at Borderlands Books in San Francisco on Sunday, July 19 at 3 pm.  During Sasquan, the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, I'll be taking part in the Broad Universe reading on Friday, August 21 at 7 p.m. In October, I'll be reading at Gamescape North in San Rafael, California on October 11 at 3 pm, as part of the Litquake Festival.

Are there any new projects you are working on you share with readers?

I have a story in the nEvermore! anthology, which just came out.  Margaret Atwood and Tanith Lee both have stories in the book, so I am thrilled to be in their company.  My story features Alondra DeCourval, the young witch whose stories have appeared in Wily Writers, Not One of Us, Instant City, Wattpad, and in the books Sins of the Sirens and The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One.  In my mind, Alondra's stories have always been linked. I'm finally pulling them together into a novel that explores all the ways she tries to prevent the death of her guardian.  I hope to turn it in to my editor at Night Shade in the fall.

Where can readers find out more about you?

Loren on Facebook:

Loren on Twitter:

Loren’s blog: