Sunday, November 11, 2007

Spotlight Interview: Rachel Lindley, Author of Cimmerian City

For aspiring science fiction novelists like me, Rachel Lindley is constant encouragement. Not only does she have a trilogy in the works, which has now been expanded into a six-book series, she also co-founded Lavender Isis, a promotional portal to aid independent, small press and self-published writers. Ambitious? I'd say so.

More times than I would like to admit, there are days where the blank computer page seems like the most daunting obstacle I've ever faced. Sometimes I give myself a mental slap across the face, crack my neck a few times, and put down a few good paragraphs. Other times, the idea of writing a book-length manuscript in the same genre as Samuel Delaney or Issac Asimov or Octavia Butler is too overwhelming for me.

When I feel as if I am not sure I can do this, I look for encouragement anywhere I can find it. The good thing is, I usually do find it. What's even better though, is I've found a new source.

I can't help but respect someone who thinks Dune is an awesome book, found the inspiration to write science fiction because of Brave New World, and views her work, at least in part, as social commentary on our society.

These were just some of the things Rachel told me in my recent interview with her:

six blocks east of mars: Your bio on your website says you've been writing since you were ten years old, and you were honing your art skills long before that. Was there someone in your life that put you on your creative path?

Rachel Lindley: I’d probably say my brother. Whatever he did I wanted to follow which started with drawing and then it moved to writing. I always watched him grab his clipboard before we watched our favorite sci-fi movies and he sat down and wrote away while watching. The bug moved over to me and I started penning my own stories which I loved to pass on to my classmates. I enjoyed seeing their responses to the stories I told which fueled me to write more.

sbeom: And while we're talking about early influences, was there a science fiction work that made you say, 'Wow, I want to do that for a living'? For me it was Dune. I read it when I was twelve and I was in awe of the Bene Gesserit. I wanted to be one, even if I was a boy. Was there a wow science fiction short story or novel for you?

RL: Oh, Dune is an awesome book! I didn’t get a chance to read it until later but I was definitely entranced by the movie version by my favorite director David Lynch. Some say he didn’t do the book justice but I try to keep both as separate works to enjoy on their own.

As for the influential science fiction work for me, I’d say Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. That story really stayed with me and showed me how prolific science fiction can be because it was definitely a story ahead of its time and still very relevant today.

sbeom: Speaking of strong women in science fiction, your latest novel, Cimmerian City, features a beautiful protagonist on the cover. Tell me a little bit about her, and how she came to be, how you developed her.

RL: Why thank you! Raven Blackheart is featured on the cover and a lot of her personality came from me. I consider her my alter ego (chuckle). She’s, however, a bit more fiery. In the beginning she tends to act first rather than think. She’s also very closed off at first due to the losses she’s suffered in her life. But all of it makes her stronger in the end when she comes to the crossroads of how she will live her future in comparison to how she has lived her past. In essence, a lot of her personality was developed by the events surrounding her.

sbeom: Cimmerian City seems to be steeped in symbolism, which can be seen with some of your characters' names as well as with the title. Is this more than a novel about good vs. evil?

RL: Oh definitely. I wrote it with characters that blur the line between good and evil at times so that it becomes a sort of commentary on our current and possible future society. The inhabitants of this world have to make decisions that will affect their lives in drastic ways and sometimes they make mistakes with those decisions but they always learn from them and grow in the process. I had hoped the stories would reach young adults as well as adult readers who may be going through the same coming of age process as Raven as they find their place in the world.

sbeom: Now, let's talk in more general terms about women and science fiction. These days, there are more avenues for women science fiction writers than ever before, be it short story, novel or anthology markets. Yet, do you think the industry is still a good ol' boys club, and if so, how can that be changed?

RL: I think in a lot of ways it is because the gatekeepers are still trying to hold on to a certain ideal within the book industry, which is apparent in larger houses. But it’s starting to slip away with the internet becoming very much reader oriented with blogs, online retailers and reviews that put the power in the reader’s hands.
Also with the growing popularity of paranormal romance, science fiction romance and urban dark fantasy, the lines are being blurred between genres and science fiction/fantasy books featuring female heroines at the forefront are showing their staying power. Although this is not our grandfather’s sci-fi much of today’s authors can thank the classics in the genre for paving the way.

sbeom: Finally, I'd like to thank you for doing this interview with me, but one more thing before I let you go. Cimmerian City is slated to be a trilogy, with Cimmerian World and Cimmerian Girl to follow. Give us a bit of a teaser about what we can expect from those two books.
RL: Thank you so much for having me!

As I started writing Cimmerian World and Cimmerian Girl, the world kind of grew so now I have three more books in all planned in the series as of now after Cimmerian City! (laughs)

Cimmerian World takes the stakes higher with Raven and Russell on the run as fugitives for the death of the corporate suit (who shall remained unnamed for those who haven’t read it) in Cimmerian City. This particular book was emotionally taxing on me because I made my characters suffer. Raven suffers a few big losses, experiences some betrayals and eventually gains some renewed strength and a team by the end. Throughout the book she also struggles with being human as well as Dracin, both of which are always tugging each other back and forth. A scene near the end will take Raven in a new direction for how she defines herself in future books.

In Cimmerian Girl, I can’t say too much as I’m still writing that one now but I will say that this one is a challenge because it takes place in a closed location for most of the book and the confrontation of the Deamonds and the Blackhearts finally come to an explosive end. The beginning of the book will take the series in an entirely new direction which will setup the course for future books after that, especially the fourth book tentatively titled Cimmerian Moonlight.

Rachel Lindley's homepage:

Other Writers of Color Blog Tour Rachel Lindley spotlights:
Carole McDonnell

Moondancer Drake


Kahnee said...

That is a pretty cool interview. You always ask very interesting questions. Now, I have to add Brave New World to my do list. But I can proudly say I've read Dune! So, I don't lose my sci-fi junkie card.

digable said...

Thanks Kahnee. It's fun to do these interviews, especially since I've always wanted to ask writers how they come up with their ideas, and how they develop certain elements of their novels. It gives me so much more insight when I read their books, and now the Cimmerian series is definitely on my reading list.

Also, I can't wait to interview Carole since I finished Wind Follower a month or so ago.