Please join me in welcoming Loren Rhoads. I’m thrilled to have her as a guest on my blog. Loren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes, all coming from Night Shade Books this year. She is also the co-author of As Above, So Below with Brian Thomas and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two. I met Loren through the activities of the San Mateo County Fair Literary Stage, and Broad Universe, a nonprofit international organization which celebrates and promotes the work of women writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror.
When I read the opening pages of The Dangerous Type, I was hooked. I had to keep on reading. What did you concentrate on to achieve this effect on readers?
Loren: Thanks so much for saying that! I’m glad it worked for you. I tried to keep things moving along quickly by using multiple points of view. Each point of view is very tightly focused: just the things that each character would know or notice. Each scene tells only a bit of the story, but most of the characters are untrustworthy or deluded — or hiding things from the others — so it’s left to the reader to piece everything together like a puzzle.
What drives your main characters in The Dangerous Type?
Loren: Raena Zacari, the central character, was an assassin until she couldn’t face her job anymore and she fled from her post. Once the Empire recaptured her, they imprisoned her inside a cave that kept her alive and unaging. Her former commander knew where she was, but he never came to let her out. Once she was locked up, he was blackmailed into spreading a targeted plague that wiped out the galaxy’s oldest species. Raena wants vengeance. Thallian wants her back under his control. They’re locked into destroying each other.
Gavin Sloane is a former Coalition pilot that flew against the Empire during the War. He had been sent to offer Raena asylum, but lost her when she was recaptured by Thallian. After the War, Sloane amassed a fortune so he could discover what happened to her. More than anything, Sloane wants the relationship with Raena he never had before.
When Ariel Shaad was a girl, her father bought Raena as a bodyguard for her. He made a fortune designing and manufacturing sidearms for the Empire. Once Raena ran off to kill for the Empire, Ariel started stealing guns from her father to arm the Coalition. Ariel and Gavin met during the War. She really liked him, but Gavin was — and remains — focused on Raena.
Ariel considers Raena a sister, although their relationship is much more complicated than that. She never expected Raena to have survived the War, but when she finds out that Sloane freed her, Ariel is willing to forgive him anything.
How is The Dangerous Type different from your previous stories?
Loren: As Above, So Below, my previous novel, was co-written with Brian Thomas. It’s about a succubus who sets her sights on bringing down an angel, who in turn possesses her with a human girl’s soul. That story is a blend of urban fantasy and horror, but it’s set in a very real Los Angeles. The language is a whole lot more descriptive and lush than The Dangerous Type. Both books share the multiple point of view structure.
When you wrote The Dangerous Type, were you trying to target specific groups of readers? Or just tell the stories of your main characters?
Loren: I used to write science fiction and actually published a chapbook of it called Ashes & Rust. I got pulled into other genres over the years, but my favorite movies were always science fiction. I wanted to write a book that reflected the original Star Wars (before it was A New Hope) with the politics of Firefly and the relentlessness of Aliens. I’ve always felt that the first rule is to write what you love.
What is your favorite chapter in The Dangerous Type?
Loren: That’s a great question, Laurel. I’ve never really thought about it before. I’m really proud of the chapter where Ariel, Gavin, and Raena are walking along the beach on the weapons-free pleasure planet after sunset. Raena is ready to light out after Thallian; the others know they can’t hold her back. Raena goads Gavin into swimming in the alien ocean after dark. Unable to back down from the dare, he follows her. The chapter captures the characters really clearly. I’m so fond of them in all their weaknesses. It’s funny, because the beach scene came to me really early in the process of writing the novel, but swimming amongst the sea monsters was written really late. The two halves really illustrate the ambitions of the book: action and character development and a little bit of sex.
What new story or stories are you working on now?
Loren: I’ve got a couple of things going on. I am working on a short story based in the same universe that tells the story of when Ariel’s dad bought Raena as a slave. I’m also co-writing a story with Martha Allard about Raena’s first encounter with the black market medic called Doc, when the crew of Doc’s ship rescued Raena from a bounty hunter during the War.
In a completely different vein, I’m finishing a new novel called The Shadow of Death. It’s about a witch who isn’t ready to let her guardian die. She travels to Prague, Oslo, Paris, London, and New Orleans, struggling to buy him more time with increasingly more dangerous magic. The book is urban fantasy blended with horror. Some of the chapters have been published as standalone stories on Wily Writers and in Not One of Us, The Paramental Appreciation Society, and in the book Sins of the Sirens. The chapter set in Venice appears in the nEvermore! anthology, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles, just published by Edge.
Thanks so much for your great questions, Laurel! You gave me a lot to think about.
And thank you, Loren.