September 2, 2009

Interview with Moira J. Moore + Heroes at Risk Giveaway

Thanks to the lovely Ann Aguirre, I was introduced to Moira J. Moore and her hero series about a year and a half ago. Since then I've been pimping them here and there and everywhere and waiting (fairly impatiently) for Heroes at Risk--the fourth in the series--to come out. As I was gearing up to get my copy, I contacted Ms. Moore about doing an interview to celebrate the release and, to my delight, she kindly accepted. I finished the book last night and I'll be posting my review tomorrow. For now you can find my reviews of the first three books here, here, and here. And without further ado, Moira J. Moore!

First things first: When did the idea for the Heroes series first hit you and what (if anything) did you know right off the bat?

I was teaching English in Japan (age twenty-six or so) when I came up with the characters, world and plot for the first book. Being in Japan had a huge impact on the story, due to the wicked weather the Japanese experience. As well, the slew of pretty men over there was an inspiration for Taro. While that influence has lessened as the story goes on through the books, it still pops up. For example, the fact that Lee is considered gorgeous in the south, while Taro is not, comes directly from some of my experiences in Japan where there are a lot of different standards for beauty.

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:

Lee: stubborn

Writing: exhilarating

Taro: light

Hero: overrated

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

Shield: maiden

Sexy: smile

Fantasy: satire

Home: comfort

Thanks so much, Moira!

Thank you.

***

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.

22 comments:

  1. I have been meaning to try these since you first wrote about them...They sound right up my ally.

    For favorite hero, I'll go with M.W. Turner's Eugenides, just because he's so darn smart!

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  2. Oh me oh me!! *WAVES ARMS*. Ok. Well, I plan to buy this book as soon as I find it in the bookstore (stupid B&N didn't have it last week, I really should bug them to ship it in), but if there's a giveaway, I'm entering.
    I love Taro because he seems like this big playboy, happy go lucky guy, but he has so much more depth. And he puts up with Lee! :)

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  3. I definitely need to take a look at this series. As for my favorite hero, right now it's Gale from Hunger Games. I have Hunger Games on my mind since Catching Fire just came out.

    Fun pose, Angie. Thanks!

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  4. Anonymous12:31 PM

    Great interview, Angie. Thanks. Please don't add me to the contest. I bought Heroes at Risk the day it came out and I got the last copy at the store. I'm looking forward to your review. I plan to start HaR as soon as I finish the book I'm reading now. Karen

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  5. What isn't there to love about the Darling, the Stallion of the Triple S?? *swoon* ;) I love Taro because he always offers to watch over Lee so that she can listen to music(and follows through with it...heh).

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  6. My favourite literary hero is Rhett Butleer from Gone With the Wind.
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

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  7. Charlotte, I think they just might be. And may I say most excellent choice of heroes, my friend. I adore Eugenides. Beyond all reason.

    Janice, grin, he really does. In fact, I think he puts up with an enormous amount from her. One of these days, I'm telling you, he's gonna get through to her.

    Brodi, you bet. And you are Team Gale!?!? *confetti* So glad you're one of us. ;)

    Karen, yay for snagging the last copy! I knew you'd have it by now. Can't wait to hear what you think of it.

    Pissenlit, amen, sister. I'm particularly fond of that scene in book 3 where he "follows through with it." hehe.

    Wanda, oh, good choice. I had seen the movie so many times before I ever read the book and when I finally did I was amazed at how good it was. Love Rhett.

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  8. Oh Angie, I am so happy to see this interview up - Moira has answered so many of the questions I've had for so long with this series. Like Taro using modern idioms for instance (that no one ever gets but gives the reader a nice chuckle). (BTW- that is my favorite thing about Taro). I am so pleased to hear that there is yet another book in store for this wonderful series.

    Thanks!

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  9. I haven't read any of the series yet, but I'm looking forward to getting started.
    My favorite hero or rather heroine right now is Sarantha Jax from Ann Aguirre's great series.

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  10. I haven't yet read this series and gotten to know Taro, but he seems like an awesome hero and the series something I'd greatly enjoy reading!

    As for my favorite literary hero would have to be Megan Whalen Turner's Eugenides (with Diana Wynne Jones's Howl and Patricia C. Wrede's Mairelon in close seconds), because he's so brilliant. :D

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  11. Oh, I could swear I was already following you... hm. Well, refollowed!

    Thank you for the great interview and review! The premise seems very interesting, and I would love to read Heroes at Risk.

    I've never read anything in the series, so I guess I'll have to go with my favorite hero. Truthfully, I actually don't have a hero; my attention tends to go to another very quickly, haha. However, I am definitely all for handsome, smart, and mischevious kinds. (:

    jenniferwang.usa@gmail.com

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  12. I haven't read this series yet so I'll have to go with a favorite hero. Hmm, that's really tough, especially since I tend to like the type of character you wouldn't really call the heroic type. So I guess I'll just go with a favorite flawed hero of sorts - Mildmay from Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinth series.

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  13. Great interview! I haven't read any of the series yet, but now I have to start! Sounds like a great series...

    Ok, so a hero... I'd have to say my heroine of choice right now is Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo & the Stieg Larsson trilogy. She really had to overcome a lot to live her life her own way.

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway!
    Suzanne

    quzy [at] mac [dot] com

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  14. Havent read this series so my fave literary hero is Garth from Arena because he avenged the wrongful deaths of many against all odds

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

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  15. Michelle, I'm so glad! I was excited to ask the questions and hear the responses. Love Taro's idiom use! Well, love pretty much everything about him.

    Barbara, Jax rocks! I can't wait to see how she's doing in DOUBLEBLIND. I'm worried!

    Sandy, oh my goodness, Eugenides is most definitely brilliant. I love him so much. Just got DH to read THE THIEF and he's into QUEEN now. *clasps hands with joy*

    Jenn, then it sounds like Taro is for you. Check, check, check!

    Kristen, I love a good anti-hero. I haven't read anything by Monette, though I keep hearing excellent things. Do you have a recommendation for what to try first?

    Suzanne, Lisbeth sounds really interesting. I'll have to check that one out.

    throuthehaze, wow, I love how you put that description of Garth. Very noble!

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  16. Liesel from The Book Thief. She's only a little girl but a true hero in my eyes. She loves books and will do anything to get to learn how to read and the get her hands on books. All the time living in Nazi run Germany.

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  17. I'd pick Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice because even though he is not your typical swash buckling type of hero, he comes Lizzy's aid. Swoon.

    lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  18. Mary D
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    OMG I am DROOLING to win this set!! What a wonderful giveaway :) And since I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading this series (hence my frothing to win lol), I would have to select A. Pendegrast (from Preston & Child series) as one of my very favorite heroes.

    Thanks for such a great post, I really enjoyed reading it. Hope everyone has a safe & super holiday weekend :)

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  19. I haven't read Moira's books yet but now that I know about them I will. One of my favorite literary heroes is Roarke from J. D. Robb's In Death series. He is smart and sexy.

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  20. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me! I haven't read the Hero books yet, so my hero right now would be Vlad Tod from the Heather Brewer books.

    Lizzi0915 at aol dot com

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  21. I haven't read her books before. Love Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon because he is sexy, smart and caring!
    Thanks
    Sarah
    believedreamcourage (at) gmail.com

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  22. I've never heard of this series until now... but one of my favorite "heroes" is Harry Potter (come on... you can't disagree if you've read HP7)

    paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

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