Tuesday, June 12, 2018

5 Questions with #Horror Author Loren Rhoads

Recently, I answered 5 Questions at author Loren Rhoads' blog. So now it's her turn.

Loren Rhoads is the author of the space opera trilogy In the Wake of the Templars. She is co-author (with Brian Thomas) of Lost Angels, the first in a series about a succubus and her angel. Loren is also the author of the nonfiction travel guides 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel.

Her latest and second collection of stories features Alondra DeCourval, a young witch with a passion to make things right.  In Alondra’s Investigations,,  Alondra discovers a book that claims to have destroyed Atlantis, faces the things that ghosts fear, and makes the hardest sacrifice in New Orleans. (See book 1, Alondra's Experiments, for more stories including magical creatures and the limit she'll go for love.

The Alondra stories have appeared in the books Best New Horror #27, Strange CaliforniaFright Mare: Women Write HorrorSins of the Sirens: Fourteen Stories of Dark DesireThe Haunted Mansion Project: Year OneThe Ghostbreakers: New Horrors, and nEvermore: Tales of Murder, Mystery, and the Macabre, as well as in upcoming issues of Occult Detective Quarterly and Weirdbook.

Five Questions: 

Did something in the real world inspire Alondra’s Investigations?

Yes, all three of the stories in the chapbook came from things that really happened to me.  “Last-Born” grew out of visiting New Orleans.  The tropical storms that come every afternoon to flood the streets in late summer inspired me to pit Alondra against the weather. Elijah Rousseau is a tribute to a man I met at the Voodoo Museum, before my friend Wendy, who lived in New Orleans, warned me away from the place.

“A Curiosity of Shadows” was born during the first Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat, where several of my fellow writers were menaced by a dense black shadow.  The shadow was even caught on video!  I wanted to explore the Mansion’s ghosts and pay tribute to the séances I went to in high school.

What is your favorite scene in the book — and why?

That’s a touch choice, but I think the scene where the creatures of Air come to parlay in “The Fatal Book.”  I struggled to describe elementals without visible bodies until one day I saw the wind playing with a newspaper.  San Francisco is a very windy city, particularly in the afternoon when the tide changes.  The wind rolls Styrofoam cups down the sidewalks or chases fallen leaves in spirals or dances with papers into the air. I thought: what if that’s not the wind?

What was your writing process like as you wrote Alondra’s Investigations?

“Last-Born” took a long time to write, because I got stalled after the first couple of scenes.  Brian Thomas, with whom I wrote the succubus novel Lost Angels, suggested some dialogue for Simon LeBranche, Alondra’s cursed boyfriend, and the story took off from there.  I wrote the last couple of scenes sitting in Golden Gate Park, scribbling into a notebook when I was supposed to be exercising.  “The Fatal Book” was written in a torrent after I got invited to do a reading with the writing group I grew up in.  The best part of researching that story was asking Alan Beatts from Borderlands Bookstore how books used to be printed and bound. I’m really fascinated by books bound in human skin.  “A Curiosity of Shadows” was written for the first Haunted Mansion Project anthology and came together in a rush in order to make a very short deadline.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

T. Thorn Coyle, who I’ve admired for years, gave me the best blurb.  

What do you have planned next?

 I’m almost done with the third of these chapbooks, Alondra’s Adventures.  One of the stories made the long list for the British Science Fiction Association Award. Another made Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mentions in The Year’s Best Horror #9. The third was published in Best New Horror #27.  That collection should be out before the end of June. The War Between Fire & Air, a new Alondra novella, will be released for Kindle in August.  Get the latest news at her website.