Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your daily writing rituals?
Loren Rhoads: My writing day starts after I drop my daughter off at school. I walk to one of the cafes in that neighborhood, get a bagel and a café au lait, and open my notebook. Usually, I have a subject in mind before I begin, but I try to keep a list of subjects or scenes in my notebook, so I’m never at a loss for things to write about. That way I don’t waste a minute of time when I could be writing. I learned to keep a notebook in my high school creative writing class, and the practice has served me well ever since. I like to write longhand on lined paper with blue ink, then edit as I type it in later.
TLR: With what media — or genres — do you work? How did you come to these?
LR: My new novels are space operas. I used to write science fiction when I was in school, but I drifted into urban fantasy and paranormal erotica before coming home. There are some subjects — xenophobia, the true nature of freedom, the real meaning of love — that seem to me to be better suited to exploration in science fiction.
TLR: Do you have a “day job” in addition to being a writer/artist—or is that your day job? If you have an unrelated day job, how do you balance your creative and work time?
LR: I write full time, which was lucky when my publishers decided they wanted me to finish the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy in nine months. I honestly didn’t have time to do anything else but get my daughter to school.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers? This could be anything from a time-management strategy to an inspirational quote or exercise.
LR: If there’s something that’s tricky to get into or emotionally difficult to write about, I start a timer and give myself 10-15 minutes to tackle the subject. The timer jolts my subconscious into turning loose what I want to say. If I’m still struggling after 15 minutes, I go for a walk: no headphones, no distractions, just the rhythm of my steps. St. Augustine says, “It is solved by walking.” I’ve found that to be true.
TLR: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?
LR: I’m fascinated by the challenge of bringing my characters to life in other people’s imaginations. Every reader brings a different background and expectations to a text, which means that no one will ever share exactly the same vision. Even so, the similarity of experiences when people read the same book feels like magic. There’s no better life than making things up to entertain other people.
TLR: Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you? Intrigues you?
LR: The genesis of Kill By Numbers was talking with Brian Thomas, the friend to whom the novel is dedicated and my co-writer on As Above, So Below. We interpreted our shared experiences in radically different ways. At first, I thought it was just that Brian’s interpretations were wrong (sorry, B!), but as I studied the subject of memory, I learned more about observer bias and the unreliability of eyewitnesses. So I wanted to examine Raena’s past through memory, both her own and those of people who shared the past with her.
TLR: What interview question would you most like to be asked?
LR: No one’s ever asked me how I switched from writing about cemeteries as travel destinations to writing science fiction. They seem like opposite ends of the spectrum. I find a lot of similarities in the two subjects, though. The things I love most about cemeteries are the stories they contain. The same is true about science fiction: I’m intrigued by the technology, but what really captivates me are the stories. Since my trilogy has characters whose heritage is saurian, feline, and octopoid, as well as human, I wondered how their differences alter their perceptions and the ways they communicate. How would their pasts and the stories their peoples tell be different from ours?
TLR: What about upcoming publications?
LR: The first two books in this trilogy have already come out this year: The Dangerous Type in July and Kill By Numbers on September 1. No More Heroes, the final book, comes out November 3. It’s a straight-up adventure/courtroom drama/time travel rescue story and I adore its cover image. I’m very excited to have that coming up.
TLR: What are you working on now?
LR: I’m writing some short stories set in Raena’s universe, as a way to explore the characters more. The first is about how Raena and Ariel met as children: Ariel was given Raena as a bodyguard for a birthday present. Another story will be about one of Raena’s escapes from bounty hunters, when she was on the run from the Empire. I’d like to write about the nonhuman crewmembers of the Veracity, too. There are some exciting opportunities coming up, including a chance to create an online game set in Raena’s galaxy. I’m curious to see where this ride will take me.
TLR: Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? Ten?
LR: I was a student at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop almost 30 years ago, so it’s taken a while to get to this point. I would love to go back and teach at Clarion, to give back to writers coming up. I also have a series of books about a young witch that I’d love to see published in the next five years. Stories about Alondra have already appeared in Wily Writers, and the books The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One, Sins of the Sirens, and nEvermore, the new Poe-inspired anthology. I’d love to share more of her adventures.
TLR: Anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?
LR: Thank you so much for allowing me to participate in these interviews, Terrie. I’m fascinated by how different our writing processes are!
TLR: I, too, am fascinated by the variation of writing processes – which is one of the many reasons I love interviewing writers! Thank you so much for participating, Loren, and best to you in all your endeavors. Be sure to check out her bio – ad yes, buy her wonderful books!
Loren Rhoads is the author of the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy – The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes – all coming from Night Shade Books in 2015. She’s the co-author with Brian Thomas of a succubus/angel novel called As Above, So Below. Before that, she authored a collection of travel essays from graveyards around the world called Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She also edited The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Usual, and in the dim, misty past, Morbid Curiosity magazine.
Please visit Loren – and discover her work – at these sites:
Here’s the blurb for Kill By Numbers: Former assassin Raena Zacari thinks she’s left the past behind. The Imperial torturer who trained her is dead, the human empire is disbanded, and she is finally free. But Raena is troubled by a series of nightmares that always end with her killing an ex-lover. She needs to get her mind clear because there’s a flaw in the most common starship drive — and the band of media pirates she’s fallen in with is at the heart of the trouble.