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There were two elements to the story that had been with me for a couple of years prior to writing the first book. One was that I wanted to explore a relationship between a person who was favoured and popular and apparently had everything, and a more serious person in the background on whom the flashy partner relies. The second involved having a female character who was basically happy with herself. So many strong female characters have traumatic histories and are tormented by them, which does make for interesting reading, but I wanted a character who was more at peace with herself. I felt someone with a more sedate background could be interesting, too.
I love the idea of the Source and Shield bond and the fact that when one dies so does the other. It makes the relationship between partners so wonderfully personal and dire. Where did you get that idea?
Some aspects of the bond, such as easing pain, were designed to force Lee into behaviours she normally wouldn’t display. Normally, she wouldn’t let Taro touch her, but once she feels the positive effects of him doing so, she doesn’t see the point in fighting it.
As to the mutual fatality, I had to figure out a way to keep Lee with Taro in the beginning of the relationship. Anything less than a bond that couldn’t be broken would have her spending a lot of time trying to get out of the partnership, and I didn’t want to go down that route. It was also the best way to make sure partners who hated each other did their jobs.
I do know that the idea of a bond where the death of one meant the death of the other isn’t an original idea, but I couldn’t tell you where I came across it.
I’m a big fan of the names Shintaro and Dunleavy, as well as their nicknames Taro and Lee. How do you go about naming your characters?
How I come up with the names varies wildly. Some are significant, others are not. I wanted Lee and Taro to have longer first names that could be shortened, so there could be tension over that: Taro presuming to call Dunleavy Lee from the very beginning and Lee refusing to call Shintaro Taro until well after they met. Dunleavy is an important family name and I’d always wanted to have a public connection to it. Shintaro means, in Japanese, new firstborn, which suits his circumstances after his older brother dies.
Most of the other names don’t have particular significance. Some are the names of acquaintances. As I’m trying to introduce different ethnic groups in the story so it’s not all about people of European descent, I’ll look up newspapers from different parts of the world and use names from the articles.
Lee and Taro’s world is a very unique one. At first glance it seems like fairly standard fantasy fare, but the more you read, the more layers come out. Set in the future, on a planet colonized and then abandoned by all but the most stubborn of survivors, at times is feels as though there’s quite a bit the characters themselves don’t know about their home. Will we (and they) be finding out more about their origins in Heroes at Risk or am I reading too much into this?
It’s interesting that you ask that question. That won’t be addressed in Heroes At Risk, but it will in the book that’s coming after that. Not as thoroughly as I would like, because realistically speaking, a lot of information will have been lost over time. I do have a chapter on my blog that was taken out of the first book, which gives a brief description of how the world was settled and what happened after that. Anyone interested in reading that will have to look way back in the entries, because I’m terrible at tagging.
(I tracked the chapter down and you can read it here!)
Taro has a habit of using modern idioms no one else understands. I find it a charming quirk but can’t help but wonder if there’s more to it?
Some of what he says is based on Shakespeare. The idea is that what he says is supposed to be incomprehensible, and I find Shakespeare largely incomprehensible, so there you go. (My apologies to all the Shakespeare lovers out there. He drives me nuts.) Another aspect to that is I am having him use language that was passed down from the original settlers but has since fallen out of use. Finally, Sources think a lot in metaphor, and rather than translating what they “see” into normal language, they just kind of blurt out words that directly reflect what they’re “seeing.”
Is there a Heroes at Risk soundtrack? Do you regularly listen to music while writing and/or plotting?
I can’t write to music, I find it hugely distracting.
What can you tell us about the next book in the series? And what do we have to look forward to after that?
I can’t really answer that, unfortunately, without spoiling the ending for Heroes At Risk. There’s a real shift between book four and book five. I have plans to write three more books – for a total of seven in the series – and have the series end there.
Do you have a particular place or time of day that’s best for writing? How do you work it in around your day job?
When I’m at home, the morning is definitely the best time to write for me. I’m usually a morning person, and I tend to wake up pretty early. I write on my couch with the tv on but the sound off. (I don’t know why, I just feel uncomfortable with the tv off but usually don’t want to listen to it.) Otherwise, I write best while sitting in a restaurant. I think that’s because I first started writing books while in class, so having conversation going on that I’m not actually listening to is great background noise for me.
What’s the one book you’ve been gushing about nonstop lately?
I hate to admit it, but I don’t read a lot anymore. If I have time to read, then I should be writing. I like fantasy novels, but none of the people I know read fantasy, so I have no one to give me recommendations. And also, no one to make recommendations to. The only books I tend to read are those chosen for my book club, and the last one was a wallbanger.
And just for fun, what’s the first word that comes to mind when I say:
Source: oil (yeah, I have no idea why)
Books: It’s really hard for me to come up with a single word, mostly I think of that new book smell and how much I enjoy it
Thanks so much, Moira!
And now for the giveaway! Moira has been so kind as to offer up a brand spanking new copy of Heroes at Risk to give away to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me why you love Taro! Lol. Or, if you haven't read the Hero series yet and had the pleasure of meeting our lovely Source, tell me who your favorite literary "hero" is and why. The contest will run for one week and will close at midnight on Tuesday, September 8th. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday. As always, please make sure to leave me a way of contacting you.