Monday, January 19, 2009
Interview & Contest with Rae Lori, author of ASHEN TWILIGHT Series
"An intriguing mix of hard core corporation driven conspiracies (Umbrella Corp. anyone?) and a twist on vampires and racism, Cimmerian City is a powerful story indeed."
My Vampire Chats guest today is Rae Lori, a multigenre author and artist who is launching her new Ashen Twilight series this month. Rae's also an avid columnist and has written articles about comic books and films for sites that include Suite 101 and Comic Shack.
Her scifi books include Cimmerian City (under the name Rae Lindley), and her short fiction has been included in anthologies like Sexy Paranormal Bedtime Stories.
Rae will be giving away an advance reading copy of her upcoming release, A Kiss of Ashen Twilight, the first in her new series. If you'd like to enter this contest, simply leave a comment. The contest runs through Saturday night, and a winner will be drawn at random.
MARTA: Welcome to Vampire Chats! Give us the scoop on your new Ashen Twilight series.
RAE: Thanks for having me on Marta! I’m jazzed to be here to talk about this series because it was so fun to create this world and the characters within it.
The Ashen Twilight series focuses on an underground group of Nightwalkers, Lycans and Shifter Elves who have gathered together for protection under human eyes. They call themselves the Ashen Twilight House. At the same time, outside of our world is the Aziza fairy realm where Ariya feels one of the Nightwalkers named Jace Archane in her dreams before a strange elemental attacks her family. This is where the first book takes off as Ariya escapes her realm into ours and runs into the Ashen Twilight House.
I call it an urban fantasy romance series because although there is a romance blossoming between Jace and Ariya, the focus is very much on the world as the Ashen Twilight House deals with living undetected by humans…at least for now.
MARTA: What kind of character appeals most to you? How do you create a character that feels real and intriguing?
RAE: I like characters that are pretty low-key but still make an impact with their actions. Characters that have different sides to them, not quite black and white which make them feel complex and real to me. I’m a big fan of Anne Rice’s early books in her Vampire Chronicles because she really paved the way with complex characters that go through a journey. I love reading books about "others" from their point of view and how they communicate in this world which is great advantage to writing speculative fiction. It allows you to explore these kinds of machinations.
I try to do this with my characters by thinking about them as people and seeing how they’d react within situations they fall into based on what type of personality they have. It’s so strange how the character can take on a life of their own with the more background, likes and dislikes they’re given.
MARTA: You also write sci fi and romance novels. Do you have a favorite genre?
RAE: Hmm. I can’t really say I do as it’s like choosing a favorite book! I think that’s one of the reasons I tend to blur my genres a bit and the reason I write in so many. If I had to choose I would say the speculative genre. It’s cheating a little bit because it encompasses science fiction and fantasy but it’s the most fun! Throw a little romance and suspense and I’m on cloud nine.
MARTA: Tell us a little about your world-building for the Ashen Twilight series.
RAE: This definitely was a beast that took on a life of its own. The first book in the series started out as a novella but there was much more story to tell, as I eventually learned. As I dove into the histories of the characters and the people they meet, the world building grew and grew. Each group of the house has an origin that is explored in each of the books.
I tended to tie in some well known real figures in history to give it that extra oomph. Say for instance, the Prince of Wallachia is shown in the beginning using the immortals for his own use. There’s also a character named Angel Polidori (two points to whoever can tie in that name with the vampire genre!). And naturally I also ended up adding some of my own mythology with the characters. With the different cultures presented in the House and in the Aziza background, I dove into Scottish and African history and the mythologies to get an idea of the worlds along with their beliefs. Sometimes researching names and genealogy was enticing in itself because I learned so much.
MARTA: You’re also an artist and I was wondering how your visual sense influences your writing.
RAE: I started out writing screenplays when I first dove into writing because I have an enormous love of visual storytelling in movies. There’s something about moving pictures that touches you on a different level than the written narrative. When I write, it’s like seeing a movie unfold in my head which is such a wonderful rush and I try to present that in my stories to give the same effect for my readers. When I don’t write I sometimes create images that tie into my work whether it’s the world or the characters to give it that extra cinematic feel.
MARTA: What is it that you get from writing that you don’t get from your artwork, and does art let you express something different than your writing?
RAE: I think so! It’s sort of an extension of the difference in moving pictures and narrative. With the visual, everything is right there basically told to you how things are, what they look like, etc. With narratives it’s a different sort of personal level between the creator and the viewer/reader because it’s subjective in how that person sees the world as it relates to them.
I think that’s why books to movies fail more so than succeed. Everyone feels something different toward that book and although they may connect similarly on a certain level, it may not be the same level as the adaptor who brought it to the visual medium. Simply because it’s that’s person’s vision and collective twist on the story. Both mediums serve a different purpose in giving something different to readers and I think that’s what makes it fun when I’m creating in one medium over another. Plus there are just some things I can’t create with my art that I can create much better in written format. And vice versa. Sometimes one sometimes helps the other along though.
MARTA: What are your writing habits? Do you sit down at the same time every day, or do you write in marathons?
RAE: I wish I could sit down and write everyday! My hat's off to writers who sit down and take no prisoners. My brain likes to fight me on that a lot. I usually write in marathons. Sometimes I get in a groove and I’m just popping out word count each night (when I write best). Recently I needed to take a break and it was just as if a light turned off and I couldn’t put pen to paper without my inner critic screaming. That’s usually when I switch over to making some artwork or doing the business side of writing. Anything to get my mind off the project while my subconscious continues to work on it. It definitely helps because once I stop pushing, it’s like a dam breaks and the ideas just start pouring out again.
MARTA: Any theories about why paranormal is so popular right now?
RAE: That’s a good question because it did seem to just come out of nowhere in the mainstream media! I think it’s always been there though. Vampires have been around for centuries before they went mainstream and mythology is strongly apart of every culture. I think now we’re seeing a resurge in popularity of it because of the new generation coming up that is being introduced to this genre.
There’s a certain amount of themes you can get away with exploring in paranormals, much like science fiction, that you can’t do in a contemporary. Plus it’s much more fun to deal with beings of lore living in contemporary society since today’s world is so grim and somewhat mediocre that the paranormal opened up a world of possibilities in new stories to be told by a various amount of authors. Much of it is very fantastical.
And think about the history and how much an immortal being has seen in human history on this Earth across the continents! I think we’ve just touched the tip of the genre because not many cultures have been explored in publishing today. Chinese vampire lore is different from that of the African vampire lore. Same with fairies, werewolves, flying creatures and other beings. With the amount of varying mythologies across the world, there are so many stories ripe for the paranormal genre. I’m still researching it myself and they are definitely fascinating.
MARTA: What can we expect next from you?
RAE: Currently I’m working on the second book in the Ashen Twilight Series entitled Within the Shadows of Mortals. I’ve noticed a lot of paranormal urban fantasy dealing with what would happen if immortals made themselves known in today’s society but I wondered what would happen at that moment they were known to be alive. How would humans really react to someone else revealed to be higher on the food chain? What actions would they take?
Plus Ariya and Jace’s relationship hits another note as their relationship is put to the test when the House is in turmoil.
Also since each book reveals the origin of each group, with A Kiss of Ashen Twilight focusing on the House of Blood Nightwalkers, Within the Shadows of Mortals will focus on the House of Lycan and their leaders.
I’m also working on another series at the same time called The Awakening series which deals with tribes of Skinwalkers, shapeshifters basically. The first one is Nocturnal Awakening which is due in the middle of 2009 and focuses on a woman helping out the local police force with her ability to sense crimes that have been committed. A murder leads to a group tracking her and thus her true background is revealed as she learns of the Skinwalkers in her city.
MARTA: Where can readers learn more about your books and buy them?
I have a website and my books page links straight a list of my books. I currently have a teaser trailer of the Ashen Twilight Series leading to the site which will be updated with new information, excerpts and blurbs for each book in the series. I also have a MySpace page of my first book, my graphic design work and for my writing. Feel free to add me on if you’re apart of the network!
Thanks for joining in Vampire Chats, Rae!
So here's the lowdown: