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Interview with R.R Hood

We are pleased to announce we have a brand new and amazingly talented author with us today! R.R Hood takes daring leaps into darker and extremely thought-provoking content, resulting into a very unique reading experience. We get a behind-the-scenes glance into The Wishing Maiden (which we very much enjoyed and reviewed previously) and a sneak peek to her upcoming horror novel Virtually Reality.

Which of your characters are your personal favourites?

In ‘The Wishing Maiden’, Bron is most decidedly my favourite; I think she actually proves her loyalty to Jacquotte in ways that Lyall isn’t able to. When the plot thickens and Jacquotte is in real danger – more danger than she ever has been, if only because she’s never been so emotionally connected to another person – she doesn’t blindly stay at her side and defend her decision. Bron isn’t afraid to betray Jacquotte for her own safety’s sake, and I think that’s where she really stands out from the rest of the characters and why the friendship between Jacquotte and Bron is so strong. A good friend will be at your side, be you right or wrong, but a true friend will leave your side if they have to, to save you from getting hurt.

The Wishing Maiden herself, Asha, is also a favourite just because of the challenge she provides. She’s a bit of a balancing act; Asha has a lot of motives that are buried under layers and layers of abuse and being used like a tool. At the same time, I am literally writing a walking, talking plot device. As a writer, that was just fascinating, to look back over what I’d written and pick out the bits and pieces of, “Ah, here’s where the Wishing Maiden is speaking, not Asha. This bit of dialogue is Asha.”

In my other completed novel, though, it’s really hard for me to pick a favourite? I think it might be Whiteflower, if I can’t choose the grand master villain. I expect people who do wind up reading ‘Virtually Reality’ to either love or hate her; she’s got that air of ‘the load’ character, a sheltered little girl who needs protecting…but I think she may very well be one of the strongest characters in the book. I can’t cite examples (spoilers!) but I see a lot of characters that are in similar positions to the one she’s in just kind of dissolve into tears whenever things get really hard, and holy shit, does Whiteflower go through hell. But crying isn’t her thing. She bends, but she will not break, and I love that about Whiteflower.

‘Virtually Reality’ has my all-time favourite villain, though. I don’t know if I can ever really top him, and I can only hope readers will have the same appreciation for him that I do, because there’s so much to his motives that isn’t plainly written into the text.

Did you listen to or get inspired by any particular songs while writing?

I tend to compose actual playlists, depending on what I’m writing! They vary, in length and how many songs each one has. For ‘The Wishing Maiden’, though, it was mostly Lindsey Stirling (fantastic violinist, for those who haven’t heard of her, and she does a lot of fun, nerdy musical things). A few of her songs, in particular, have this feel to them that is very ‘Asha’, to me. That sort of…sad, cold, but beautiful sound?

And on the flipside, I had a very… I think the word I’ll use is ‘whimsical’ soundtrack, for ‘Virtually Reality’. That’s all I’ll say, on that front.

For the novel I might start up, pulling it from another story I’ve written in an unconventional format, I’ve got the soundtrack mostly formed. A lot of ‘The Birthday Massacre’, ‘Marina And The Diamonds’… It’s going to be a horror, can you tell?

Are there any details you pulled from real life experiences?

There are a few aspects of characters, in ‘The Wishing Maiden’, that kind of developed based on my life. How I wish people acted, or how I perceive people treating others. I think Lyall is the big one, there – at his core, he is a nice guy, who happens to be in love with a lesbian. The fact that I can sense the eye-roll at the words ‘nice guy’ is exactly the reason why Lyall exists. The core of his character dilemma comes when he thinks he can make a wish and will Jacquotte to fall in love with him, despite the fact that their orientations are not compatible. Now, obviously, that doesn’t work, and on a textual level that’s because he’s screwing up the wording of his wishes, but looking at subtext… Lyall knows it’s wrong to force his feelings on her. There’s this moment towards the end that was really therapeutic for me to write, with him telling her outright that he’d like to dance at Jacquotte’s wedding with Asha. A real nice guy – or, hell, a real good person – would never try to change someone orientation or convince them to love them back. I wish the world worked that way, more often, with people respecting the orientations and lack of reciprocated feelings without taking it personally. He loves her, and he’s just happy to be part of her life. He wishes her the best; we need more of that.

Did you have to do any odd research during the writing process?

Honestly, I can’t remember… ‘The Wishing Maiden’ is one of the stories I’ve had in my head for, I think, fourteen years? So, sporadically, I might’ve checked out a fact or two, but I forget the research process because everything just became so tightly woven into the story.

Now, ‘Virtually Reality’, on the other hand…

Yeah, I can’t talk about the research I did for that one. Without context, I could be arrested.

Is there any symbolism behind the names in your book(s)?

Oh, geez, there’s so much in the way of meaningful names. Because ‘The Wishing Maiden’ is based on fairy tale format, everything in those stories ties into the lesson. The names of the continent and cities/towns, the character’s names, the ship – everything was very deliberately chosen, either for the etymology or the sound. I’d love to list all of them, but it’d take forever, and some are pretty obvious. The big ones are probably Asha, whose name means ‘wish, desire, or hope’, and Jacquotte, who was named for the French pirate Jacquotte Delahaye. Delahaye faked her own death and lived as a man for several years, and was also famous for vivid red hair – it just seemed appropriate.

You see my fondness for symbolic names coming back in ‘Virtually Reality’, but in a different way. Due to the setting, all of the characters have nicknames they chose for themselves – gamers will be familiar with the process of online user handles. That was a fun exercise, because choosing those names was not only about how to make them significant to me, or the reader…those are names the characters chose for themselves.

Who would be your dream cast for your main characters if you ever landed a movie/show deal?

Hm… I have no idea! I did once do a Hollywood-casting of ‘Virtually Reality’ when I was procrastinating writing (Jennifer Lawrence as ‘Wingspan’ and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as ‘Knifebaby’) but it was both wildly unrealistic and not actually as well-thought out as it would be, if the opportunity honestly did arise. Some of the actors I chose weren’t even close, but they were on my mind at the time.

If ‘The Wishing Maiden’ ever went beyond a book, though, I think it’d be best converted into a musical. I don’t know where Bernadette Peters would be cast, and I don’t care; this is my fantasy world, and in this dream, she’s in my show.

Are there any special Easter eggs hidden away in your book(s) or little secrets that were never fully revealed?

There are a ton of little things that aren’t necessarily Easter eggs, or even intentionally hidden, but they’re certainly present and there if you look for them. They might even be obvious to some readers. For example, the prince’s advisor, Balthazar, harbours some lustful feelings for the prince.

There are also plenty of not-quite-stated things about Asha that are hinted at, that readers might be interested to know. The way the wishing process works, for example (minor spoilers!) is that, by making a wish, you are ripping away a piece of her life. The reason she’s lived so long is that a wish was made for the wishes to never end – and, bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, Asha thus never ends, for she is the very idea of ‘wishing’, embodied. That’s also why her hair is white! She’s very old, just…forever young and beautiful of face, because someone wished for it.

There are some great Easter eggs and little factoids from ‘Virtually Reality’ I could share, but there isn’t a lot of point without context? Which is a shame! Fingers crossed that it gets picked up by a publisher – still waiting to hear back from one, right now. There are a lot of sexualities that aren’t outright stated but still displayed, however; we’ve got a bisexual main character, and among the supporting cast is a pansexual, homosexual, perhaps a little bit of demisexual-to-bicurious; even though romance isn’t heavily featured, you still get to see glimpses of how these people are affected by their sexualities. In fact, the societal treatment and resulting shaming of a person’s sexuality becomes an extremely relevant plot point, but I won’t get into that.

Tell us a bit about your cover(s) and how it/they came about.

‘The Wishing Maiden’ doesn’t have a very official-looking cover, but it is a fun story as to how it came about. I had a few wardrobe pieces and this long, curly white wig, as well as a pair of really cheap prop handcuffs, courtesy of my Police Foundations-attending brother. So a friend of mine came with me, and we drove out to Aylmer, Quebec. It was fairly close to where my mother lived at the time. I park the car, ditch the shoes, and run out to this arrangement of trees. Barefoot. In snow. We got a few fairly nice shots with an iPhone camera, then bolted back. I…still can’t say for sure whether or not it was worth it…

‘Virtually Reality’, though – I adore my cover for it. That was courtesy of a friend of mine who designs book covers, and I remembered seeing a bit of her work. I’d finished the novel and was just in hyper-drive, fixating on the cover. We discussed some mock-ups, and one of them was just completely perfect, and so the deed was done! I’m still really happy with it, I show it off whenever possible.

What are your current projects?

Right now, I’m in the process of considering which route I want to go in. I have two horror novels I’m considering – one of them is an entirely fresh project, based on this (oh-so-foolish) idea I had to challenge myself, while the other would be converting one of my non-conventional stories into novel format. There’s potential for the latter to be a serial, as well, and so far I have about…three sentences, down on paper?

The other project I’ve been steadily developing is a fantasy series, and the only thing stopping me from working on it is that I have half of a language formed! I’m debating whether or not to go all-out and create some more terminology, or stick with what I have for fear of it being overkill. I’m not too rushed with the idea, though, because these characters are ones that I’ve had fully-formed in my head since I was about sixteen; they’re not going anywhere. I just hope I can do the story justice, once the world is out of my head and in a reader’s hands.

Is there anything extra you would like to say to your readers?

I’d definitely like to give my gushiest, most heartfelt thanks to anyone who’s read ‘The Wishing Maiden’, and throw a few tears in for the people who’ve said such kind things about my work!

I’d also like to encourage anyone with a strong stomach and who isn’t very easily offended to try out ‘Virtually Reality’, when it comes out. Fans of the psychologically twisted who also (like me) want to see a lot more diversity in horror novels, without it amounting to ‘the gay one dies’, should appreciate my intentions behind writing a varied cast.

Of course, when my future works start popping up online as well, you’d all have my gratitude if you felt those are worth checking out, too!

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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in GLBTQ, Interviews

 

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Interview with Cody Kennedy

We are honored to have the new -and quickly rising- author Cody Kennedy speak with us today! His young adult novel Omorphi was released earlier this year and has received raving reviews (including our own here), along with a republished version of his short story, Safe. Cody is a very daring writer who bravely tackles heavy topics like bullying and abuse with such skill and empathy. There is always an empowering message for his readers.

Make sure to check out Cody’s blog and catch up on his free online series, Fairy!

Did you have to do any odd research during the writing process?

One of the plights of being an author is near-constant research. Dare I say that I am a wealth of trivia and useless information? Even when an author is confident that he or she knows his or her subject matter well, it is imperative to verify information and check for updated facts. In the case of Safe, and while I know the limitations of a public attorney’s ability to prosecute child abusers, I took the time to check procedure and mandatory reporting requirements, and “who constitutes a mandatory reporter.”

Additionally, many of our youth do not have an opportunity to leave the state or province they live in, let alone travel abroad, and I try to bring a little of the outside world to my readers by making at least one of my characters foreign to the U.S. or from a different cultural environment. In the case of Omorphi, I performed substantial research regarding Greece, its political and policing structures, and its laws regarding victims of abuse. Further, and while I also know the procedures and intent of the Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioural Therapy used to treat victims of abuse (TF-CBT), I performed research to ensure that policies and procedures hadn’t been update or changed.

Which of your characters are your personal favourites?

I have two: Christy in my recently published novel, Omorphi, and Isidore in my upcoming novel, Slaying Isidore’s Dragons because their inner strength, determination, and resiliency are incredibly admirable.

Did you listen to or get inspired by any particular songs while writing?

I am not directly inspired by music, per se, but I do ponder and play songs as I write. Omorphi’s complete playlist can be found here The Notes Behind Omorphi’s Playlist. The songs that featured prominently during my writing were Coldplay’s “Fix you” and Pink’s “F*cking Perfect.” Both represent Michael’s determination to help Christy get beyond his history of abuse and develop a positive attitude about himself.

Is there any symbolism behind the names in your book(s)?

Certainly in Omorphi. Omorphi is the Greek word for pretty and it exemplifies Christy. Christy’s full name is Christophoros Tryphon Alexis Castlios. Christophoros derives from Late Greek meaning “bearing Christ” and phero meaning “to bear or carry.” Saint Christopher is also the patron saint of travellers and Christy travels from Greece to settle in the U.S. Tryphon derives from the Greek tryphe meaning “softness or delicacy.” Alexis derives from the Greek alexo meaning “to defend or help.” Alexis is also Christy’s mother’s name (he was partially named after her) and I needed to use a name that conveyed her goodness and wasn’t gender specific. In the case of Christy’s abusive father, Vasilis Spyros Kakios Castlios, Vasilis derives from the Greek basileus meaning king, Spyros derives from the Latin spiritus meaning spirit, and Kakios derives from the Greek kake meaning evil, hence the media in the story referring to him as the king of evil spirits.

Are there any details you pulled from real life experiences?

*chuckles* I’ll preface this answer by saying that I write fiction. That said, many of the events in my stories are influenced by the bright, insightful, and wonderful youths I know as well as my young childhood. Many of my experiences and feelings appear in all of my stories including my free read Fairy.

Who would be your dream cast for your main characters if you ever landed a movie/show deal?

For Omorphi, it out be Nico Tortorella as Michael, Andrej Pejic as Christy, and Darren Criss as Jake. And if it were within my power to pick the studio, it would be Universal Studios.

Are there any special Easter eggs hidden away in your book(s) or little secrets that were never fully revealed?

*smiles* Next question, please.

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on Tharros the sequel to Omorphi. Once that is complete, I will polish Slaying Isidore’s Dragons for submission, and next year I plan to expand Safe. In the interim, I hope to complete a Christmas story for Michael and Christy.

Do you have any advice for young wordsmiths to be?

Don’t get it right, get it written. Your imagination is priceless. It is the most loyal BFF you will ever have. Explore it, cultivate it, own it. It is far more important for you to put your imagination to paper than it is to be perfect. Don’t be afraid and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Many teachers and experienced authors will help you perfect your story. Bonus advice: Wear sunscreen. At least SPF50.

Is there anything extra you would like to say to your readers?

Go forth and multiply! On a serious note, an author isn’t an author without readers and without all of you I am nothing. Thank you a thousand-fold for reading my books.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in GLBTQ, Interviews

 

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Interview with Kirby Crow

Today we welcome our very first guest of honour, the incredibly talented Kirby Crow! She is the brilliant mind behind the fantasy series Scarlet and the White Wolf and many great iconic titles. It’s her unique voice that merges romance, humor, and dark elements together flawlessly that has drawn both Kaelin and myself to her writing. She has kindly dropped by to share the concepts and inspiration behind her work with us.

Visit her webpage to learn more and to stay updated!

Which of your characters are your personal favourites?

Published characters? Without a doubt, it’s Scarlet. Put him in any situation, and I always know what he’s going to do, what he’s going to say, which way he’ll turn the scene on its head. That makes me feel closer to him than the others. Liall is the question mark. Obviously, if you’ve read the books, you know what Liall is capable of. Same with Becket Merriday. Those are two characters with extreme capabilities. With Liall, you hear about those acts second-hand, because they happened in his past and the man Liall is now is much more cautious and subdued. He’s been tamed from his wild bandit years, to an extent. I’ve changed that up in Book 4, brought back the old Liall to cope with the challenges of Rshan, and there are surprises from Scarlet as well.

Did you listen to or get inspired by any particular songs while writing?

I don’t get inspired BY them, but sometimes I look for music with a melody that compliments the scene I’m writing, and use that for background mood. I have tinnitus and silence is more distracting to me than music or traffic or anything. I play a lot of nature sounds; seashores, forests, thunderstorms. I get more inspired by the sounds of rain than by music.

Are there any details you pulled from real life experiences?

The Hilurin cottage in Lysia was modeled after a mountain cabin that belonged to a friend’s grandmother, and every location in “Angels of the Deep” is modeled after a real place. When setting a scene, I’ll pull from memory or try to find a real place (or a picture of one) that resembles it. There’s a lot of outdoors in the Scarlet novels, so I spent many days walking in the woods, and there were several theological conversations in “Angels of the Deep” on the nature of good and evil that I took from memory.

For the rest, writing fiction is such an internal, personal process. You borrow from your past and friends and surroundings without even realizing it, and it goes into the book and when you’re done you cross your fingers and put it out there, all of it. So yes, in one form or another, much of it is my experience. How much? I couldn’t even guess.

Did you have to do any odd research during the writing process?

Fantasy writers have to research constantly. The street-lights of your underground Gwarg village are powered entirely by wind? Well, how does that work exactly?

Umm…

And then you have to research converting kinetic energy to mechanical, turbines, generators, battery storage, all that. Your fantasy world should theoretically be able to function. Maybe not up to “Dune” levels of precision, but the mechanics of it should be able to withstand some examination.

I’ve done copious amounts of research for “Malachite”, how the city is engineered, communications, canals, sea walls, how the citizens obtain and cook their food, even the plumbing, which is a not-inconsiderable concern for an island city. I’ve probably spent days reading about heliographs, telegraphs, and galvanic cells, not to explain the details in the text, but just to make certain they could work in my world. It turns out the study-to-inclusion ratio of research is rather small; hours of reading for half a paragraph of detail.

Even so, it’s enjoyable. If you’re not having fun with your writing, you’re doing it wrong.

Is there any symbolism behind the names in your book(s)?

Liall is taken from Lyall, and means “wolf” in Old Norse. And to put to bed the question once and for all, it’s pronounced Lee-ALL, not Lyle or even Leel. I love that there’s controversy on how to pronounce his name!

Who would be your dream cast for your main characters if you ever landed a movie/show deal?

I wouldn’t have to worry about it for the Scarlet books, because I’ve always wanted to see an anime or a yaoi comic of it, rather than a live action film. Besides, the images in my head don’t match any actors that I know of. I did use a much younger Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty era and previous, because RAWR!) for Liall in the very beginning, but the image I had of him has morphed so much since then. All you really need to know about the physical Liall — or any character — are the broad strokes, because every reader has their own vision of a character they love. Personally, I don’t like to mess with that. I want the reader to develop the image that is most appealing for them, and I invite them to ignore certain physical characteristics if they don’t find those as attractive. I only put the words out there. The imagination is all theirs.

In “Malachite” and “The Flower Prince”, yes, I had some very specific actors in mind when I wrote those. I’d cast Mads Mikkelsen as Kon Sessane and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for Marion Casterline. They’ve made films together before and have fantastic screen chemistry. Even though Marion and Kon are not exactly friends in the book, that would still be my fantasy casting.

Are there any special Easter eggs hidden away in your book(s) or little secrets that were never fully revealed?

Most of those secrets are coming out in Book 4 of “Scarlet and the White Wolf”, but I’ll give you one: the prostitute that Liall encounters in the alleyways of Volkovoi was never a random character. I’m keeping his identity secret for the moment, but he will figure prominently in “The Flower Prince”, which is another novel set in Nemerl. Can you guess who he is?

The other thing is that Liall is not gay. He’s bisexual, with a marked preference for men. That would be natural since Rshani attach little importance to gender when it comes to sexual partners. You’re attracted to whoever you’re attracted to, and they have few prejudices about it. Actually… I don’t even think that’s a secret, but I just wanted it out there. Not every character I write is either gay or straight, male or female. Life isn’t limited to gender binaries, so why should your writing be?

Tell us a bit about your cover(s) and how it/they came about.

All the “Scarlet” novel covers (with the exception of Book 4, which I created), “Prisoner of the Raven”, and “Angels of the Deep” were created by my buddy Analise Dubner, who is the most awesome artist ever. The cover for the upcoming “Hammer and Bone” was done by Roberto Quintero.

What are your current projects?

“Hammer and Bone” is finished and will be published in April of 2014. “Malachite” is in final stages at this time, as is “Scarlet and the White Wolf” Book 4.

Is there anything extra you would like to say to your readers?

I love you all! Thank you for being so patient with me. It’s true, I write about as fast as a snail crawls, but only because I’m so anxious not to disappoint my readers. Thanks for hanging in there!

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in GLBTQ, Interviews

 

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