Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Loren Rhoads – Loren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes, space opera trilogy about bisexual assassin Raena Zacari. Her new series, co-written with Brian Thomas, is about a succubus and an angel.
Thanks so much, Loren, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Loren Rhoads: I started telling myself stories at an early age, fitting myself into Peter Pan or Wild Wild West or Land of the Giants. Now we’d call it fanfic, but back then the term hadn’t been coined yet. There just weren’t adventure stories about girls — especially not about women — so I had to make up my own.
The first time I thought I might be good at writing was then the Star Wars-inspired story I published in a friend’s fanzine received a fan letter. From a stranger. I mean, of course, my friends liked my stories. But when someone I didn’t know complimented it, I was hooked on writing forever.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
LR: I don’t like to confine myself to one genre. The space opera trilogy ranges from Hammer-style horror to courtroom drama, while showing my Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury influences. The first book is a Hong Kong-style revenge story, the second is a mindwarp with killer androids, and the third one has time travel. And the series has been accused of bringing grimdark to space opera.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
LR: My first published story was a Lovecraftian pastiche about college students at a cabin in the woods. The less said about it, probably the better.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
LR: I write everything longhand in my notebook, then edit as I type it in. These days I’m using Scrivener to organize my longer projects, because I don’t tend to write my first drafts in linear order. Scrivener makes it so easy to move scenes around and play with the outline as I’m writing. The program has really changed my life.
JSC: Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
LR: I visit cemeteries in every city to which I travel. I just got back from a trip with my parents to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The oldest graveyard in town still has trenches cut into it by the American occupiers during the War of 1812. Earlier in the summer, I spent a day in Paris visiting the graves of Alexandre Dumas and Marie Curie in the Pantheon. My love of graveyards even affected my space opera, which opens on an alien tomb world in the excerpt above.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
LR: I would love to have a glass of absinthe with Oscar Wilde. I’d ask him to tell me about the most perfect day he’d ever spent. I would just like to listen to him talk.
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
LR: Wow, that’s a hard question. I guess it would be Investigate, because I can’t figure out how to turn Curiosity into a verb. Curiosity is the guiding rule of my life.
JSC: What kind of character or topic have you been dying to try to write, but you’ve never worked up the courage?
LR: I can’t think of anything I’ve been afraid to write. There’s stuff I’ve written that will never be published, but that’s a different question, right?
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?
LR: I wouldn’t go back. Each year has gotten better than the ones before. I’m really looking forward to what the future brings. Could I choose instead to add another year at the end? I’m afraid to run out of years too soon.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
LR: For the newest series, I’ve switched genres away from science fiction to a hybrid of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Angelus Rose is the sequel to my angel/succubus novel Lost Angels, written with Brian Thomas. Lost Angels came out in March and Angelus Rose will be out in November 2016.
Lost Angels is mostly straight, but it has the hottest lesbian scene I’ve ever written, in my mostly humble opinion. I’m not sure there will be much queer sex in Angelus Rose, beyond a really heavy temptress-on-succubus SM scene. That was scary to write, because it feels over the top.
After Angelus Rose comes out, I’m not sure where I’ll go next.
And now for Loren’s book: The Dangerous Type:
Twenty years ago, Imperial assassin Raena Zacari was court-martialed, entombed alive, and left for dead. While she was imprisoned, the human empire she served unleashed a genocidal plague that wiped out the Templars. In retaliation, the other peoples of the galaxy banded together to obliterate the Empire. The Human-Templar War is over finally, but humanity remains scattered and reviled.
Gavin Sloane has been hunting desperately for Raena since the War. He’s sunken to robbing Templar tombs as a way to fund his search. He never was a nice man. Looking for Raena has driven him over the edge.
Raena’s adopted sister Ariel Shaad made a fortune smuggling guns to the human-and-alien Coalition during the War. She would do anything to help her sister, but money can’t make everything right.
Once Raena is freed, the insane war criminal who enslaved her and trained her to kill wants her back. Jonan Thallian is willing to risk everything – including his army of cloned sons – to bring her back under his control. Now it’s a race to see who kills whom first.
The Dangerous Type mixes action SF with adventurous space opera that grabs you from the first pages and doesn’t let go. Along with a supporting cast of smugglers, black market doctors, and other ne’er-do-wells sprawled across a galaxy brimming with alien life, The Dangerous Type has been described as La Femme Nikita meets Firefly.
The Dangerous Type is only the first book in Loren Rhoads’s epic trilogy, In the Wake of the Templars, which continues with Kill By Numbers and No More Heroes. All three books were published by Night Shade in 2015.
Loren is giving away a paperback copy of The Dangerous Type to go with this post – just comment below with your email and name for a chance to win. 🙂
Kavanaugh always had a moment, as he slithered past the edge of a slab, when he feared it would rock back into place and crush him. Or worse, it would rock back after he’d passed it, trapping him inside the tomb. No telling how long it would take someone to die inside one of those graves, how long until the air ran out or dehydration made breathing cease to matter. It wasn’t as if Sloane would feel he had enough invested in the team to rescue anyone. Kavanaugh wouldn’t put it past the boss to decide it was more cost effective to simply hire new men, leaving the originals behind as a warning to be more careful.
Most of the tombs they’d entered had warehoused whole companies of bugs, the dead warriors of a single campaign buried together. Kavanaugh played his light around the inside this cavern but found only a single catafalque, an uncarved slab of obsidian in the rough center of the room. Whoever lay atop it must be important, he thought. Shouldn’t take too long to loot one body. Maybe there would actually be something worth stealing this time.
Kavanaugh peeled off his face shield and lifted the flask, sucking down the last half of its contents as the men converged on the catafalque. His boot knocked something over. When he bent down to retrieve it, he found a human-made electric torch. Damn. Had someone beat them to this one?
“What’s a human girl doing in here?” Taki asked.
“There’s your dancing girl,” Curcovic teased. “Maybe you can wake her with a kiss.”
“ ’Cept for the dust,” Lim commented.
“Well, yeah, ’cept for the dust, Lim. Damn, man, don’t you have any imagination?”
“Just what did you have in mind?” Lim asked skeptically.
“Are you sure she’s human?” Kavanaugh asked as he slipped the flask back inside his coat.
“I think she’s just a kid,” Curcovic added. “No armor. You think she was somebody important’s kid?”
“She’s the best thing I’ve seen on this rock so far,” Taki pointed out. His hand wiped some of the dust from her chest.
Kavanaugh was crossing the uneven floor to join them when a low female voice said clearly, “No.”
Curcovic stumbled backward, dropping his torch and fumbling at the gun at his hip. The corpse sat up, straight-arming her fist into Taki’s face. Stunned, he cracked his head on the stone floor when he went down. He lay still at the foot of the catafalque.
Lim backed away, light trained on the figure rising in the middle of the tomb. It was hard for Kavanaugh to make her out in the unsteady light: a slip of a girl dressed in gray with a cloak of dusty black hair that fell past her knees.
Curcovic finally succeeded in drawing his gun. The girl darted sideways faster than Kavanaugh could follow in the half-light. A red bolt flashed out, blinding in the darkness. Lim collapsed to the floor, cursing Curcovic.
The girl rounded on Curcovic, turning a one-handed cartwheel that left her in range to kick the gun from his hand. She twisted around, nearly too quick to see, and cracked her fist hard into his chest. Curcovic fell as if poleaxed. Lim groaned from the floor, hands clasped over his belly.
None of the men were dead yet, Kavanaugh noticed. She could have killed them as if they’d been standing still, but she’d disabled them instead. He suspected that was because they posed no real threat to her. Maybe she needed them alive. He hoped that was true.
Cold sweat ran into Kavanaugh’s eyes. He held the flask in his gun hand. He’d have to drop it to draw his weapon. If the noise caught her attention, he’d be headed for the ground before his gun barrel cleared his holster.
“We didn’t mean you any harm,” he said gently as he let go of the flask.
Loren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes, space opera trilogy about bisexual assassin Raena Zacari. Her new series, co-written with Brian Thomas, is about a succubus and an angel.