Thursday, April 24, 2014

Interview with Robin Riopelle, author of Deadroads - April 24, 2014

Please welcome Robin Riopelle to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Robin:  Hi – thanks again for having me.

Always. In the crib, I think. Although I’ve had a really interesting series of creative careers [see earlier blog post, maybe a link?], I always had to write. During lunch hours, after the kids were asleep, I wrote. Writing feeds a different part of my soul. About five years ago, I decided I was going to push myself further and start submitting things. I didn’t want to have any regrets about roads not taken.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Robin:  Oh, I am a plotter. I am clearly a chronic, over-the-top plotter of epic proportions. Because I’m also an illustrator, my outlines often look like annotated drawings. If people are amazed at how quickly I can turn out words, it’s because I spend stupid amounts of time working the outline.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Robin:  Giving myself permission to take the time to do it. So much else seems to crowd in and will eat my attention if I’m not vigilant and determined.

TQ:  Describe Deadroads in 140 characters or less.

Robin:  Classic loner gets over it.

What? Something more? Oh, okay.

Sol Sarrazin lays ghosts to rest, but after his father is murdered, he must face down demons to save his estranged family.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Deadroads? Why did you write a novel of ‘Supernatural Suspense.’ Are there any other genres or sub-genres in which you’d like to write?

Robin:  I’ve always liked a good ghost story. Ghosts work well as a metaphor for unfinished business, for past mistakes, for things that we try to ignore that keep coming back. It’s difficult to pin down what Deadroads actually is, genre-wise: part thriller, part family drama, part horror. Character-driven supernatural suspense is as close as I can come.

Fractured families interest me. Separation, reunion – as an adopted person, these are the ideas that I want to take apart, examine, and put through their paces. A natural extension of this idea is le grand dérangement – the historical expulsion of Acadians from maritime Canada – which tore families apart, with some ending in the swamps of Louisiana, where Deadroads begins.

Other genres? I’m partial to all sorts of fantasy, and I definitely would like to write something set in an alternate history. Really well-written creative non-fiction appeals to me, too. I’d love to research the hell out of a topic and write something accessible about it. Like writers Erik Larson (The Devil in the White City) or John Vaillant (The Golden Spruce).

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Deadroads?

Robin:  For Deadroads, I had a research vector: Cajun and Acadian history and culture; the lure of “The West”; and paramedicine. I live in Ottawa, where I use French a lot. I talked to francophone friends about language and culture; I read a lot. I listened to Quebecois, Cajun and Acadian music almost non-stop, though that never was and never will be a chore. As for The West – well, Jack Kerouac came in handy. Because my character Sol is a paramedic, I pestered my EMT friends about what they loved and hated about their jobs. And due to a hiking accident and subsequent 2-hour ambulance ride, I had a rambling, drug-fueled conversation with a very nice paramedic about the entire contents of her rig, the injuries that still make her queasy, and the difficulties of maintaining a love life.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Robin:  Sol Sarrazin screws up so royally, and is so flawed, that he’s a joy to write. Sol witholds: his love, his tongue, his approval, his temper…until he doesn’t. As a writer, I tend to hold back myself, let the reader fill in the blanks, so maybe that’s why he resonated with me.

Writing his sister Lutie wasn’t difficult so much as harrowing. Lurking under her poise and her seemingly cold indifference is a monumental hurt. She masks it by straight-arming anyone who comes close to her. When I felt her warming up to Baz, this long-lost brother who is happy as a balloon at a kid’s party, it was painful, the return of sensation, like pins and needles. She’s a hard person to like, and writing her self-imposed distance made me ache.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Deadroads?

Robin:  When Sol figures out that the stranger he assumed his brother Baz’s date is actually their sister, Lutie. You could describe Sol as beleaguered and harried, at the best of times. He’s juggling about twelve things at once: lying to his girlfriend, dealing with his dead father’s ghost, trying to keep Baz safe, and then there’s this chippy girl who’s giving him grief. He more or less throws her out from Baz’s motel room. But when the penny finally drops, when he understands the enormity of what’s going on, and how he’s going to have to face it—it’s a whole new level of harried. I knew, as Sol knows, that he’s going to have to tackle all this emotional crap he’s swept under the rug. It’s delicious.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite lines from Deadroads.

Robin:  Sol, in response to his paramedic partner Wayne’s assertion that the best part of the job is the thank-you sex, before recapping Sol’s daring rescue of an injured construction worker:

“Bon,” said Sol, nodding. “That’s why I do it. So I can see your little face light up like that.” He grimaced. “Not for the thank-you sex. Jesus.”

I like this line because Sol is not generally funny. He had to take on a lot of responsibility on at an early age, and it made him serious and solemn. I really like the relationship he has with Wayne, how Sol’s easier around him, doesn’t put up as many fronts. It also reveals that while Sol will joke around with the EMT crews, he’s serious about his relationship with his girlfriend. He’s a decent guy, at the core.

I also love listening to my completely bilingual friends, how they slip in and out of two languages in the same sentence.

TQ:  What's next?

Robin:  There’s more to the story I start in Deadroads. I based the story on an old French folksong: Les trois hommes noirs. There’s three of those devils, right? So I’ve been writing the sequel.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.


Night Shade Books, April 15, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
(eBook published March 17, 2014)

Lutie always wanted a pet ghost-but the devil's in the details.

The Sarrazins have always stood apart from the rest of their Bayou-born neighbors. Almost as far as they prefer to stand from each other. Blessed-or cursed-with the uncanny ability to see beyond the spectral plane, Aurie has raised his children, Sol, Baz, and Lutie, in the tradition of the traiteur, finding wayward spirits and using his special gift to release them along Deadroads into the afterworld. The family, however, fractured by their clashing egos, drifted apart, scattered high and low across the continent.

But tragedy serves to bring them together. When Aurie, while investigating a series of ghastly (and ghostly) murders, is himself killed by a devil, Sol, EMT by day and traiteur by night, Baz, a traveling musician with a truly spiritual voice, and Lutie, combating her eerie visions with antipsychotics, are thrown headlong into a world of gory sprites, brilliant angels, and nefarious demons-small potatoes compared to reconciling their familial differences.

From the Louisiana swamps to the snowfields of the north and everywhere in between, Deadroads summons you onto a mysterious trail of paranormal proportions.

About Robin

Robin Riopelle lives on the border between French and English Canada with her criminologist husband, two seemingly adorable kids, and an obstreperous spaniel. In addition to writing for museums and magazines, Riopelle also illustrates children’s books. Deadroads is her first novel.

Website  :  Twitter @Robin_Riopelle :  Facebook

Feature: Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance Boxed Set

Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance Boxed Set is now available worldwide for a special introductory price of only $0.99!

Eight hot paranormal romances by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Alpha-male bad boys will fulfill your darkest, most deadliest desires in these stories about shifters, werewolves, vampires, magic, special powers and other realms. But only if you dare…

Bodyguard by Jennifer Ashley

Elizabeth Chapman is saved from an armed attacker by a Kodiak bear who shifts into a tight-bodied, naked human male. Ronan takes Elizabeth to Shiftertown, becoming her 24/7 bodyguard. The mateless Ronan has adopted a houseful of orphaned Shifters--having grown up in foster care, Elizabeth is touched by his protectiveness. Ronan only wants to keep Elizabeth safe, but the sassy woman is triggering his long-buried need to mate.

Alejandro's Soceress by Alyssa Day

He’s a warrior, hardened by years of protecting his town from vampire attack. She’s a garden witch who sees the world in shades of sunshine and delight. Opposites don’t only attract, they go supernova in this sizzling tale of magic and mayhem.

Bewitch by Felicity Heaton

A vampire with a bloodstained past and a soul tainted with darkness, Payne is perfect in his self-control, never surrendering to his darkest desires. Now a beautiful witch in the shadowy fae underworld reawakens long denied hungers and tempts him with pleasure. When one incredible night of fulfilling their fantasies leads to more than just keeping a promise and saving a friend, will they be able to overcome the barriers that stand between them and forever?

Darkness Falls by Erin Kellison

Agent Malcolm Rook is hunting for people with the rarest of talents—the ability to master dreams. He finds the undeniably gifted Jordan Lane, but she’s wary of mysterious Rook and resists his pursuit as long as she can. Yet the dreamwaters they enter are too exhilarating to resist, and attraction soon ignites electric passions. Delving too deep stirs a nightmare, one they must defeat, or be forever lost to darkness.

Rogue's Passion by Laurie London

Blaming himself for the death of a friend, Iron Guild warrior Asher Kane vows to bring those responsible to justice. After he’s hurt on a mission and nursed back to health by a beautiful yet mysterious woman, this dangerously sexy bad-boy finds himself falling for Olivia…even as he struggles to stay away. But stalking them on the streets of New Seattle is a cruel and vengeful evil—one that threatens to destroy them both…

The Forbidden Life of Alex Moore by Erin Quinn

Alex’s mission: Kill the hellhounds that have invaded earth and return to his home in the Beyond. But from the start, things go horribly wrong. The hounds are cunning and a human female witnesses their attack—she intervenes and saves Alex’s life. Now he must keep the alluring Lilly alive while fighting his desire for her. When passion flares, Alex risks all to protect her and defend the forbidden life he craves.

The Mating Heat by Bonnie Vanak

Werewolf Kara Mitchell fled with her brother Aiden to Montana after their alpha father punished her for kissing sexy omega werewolf Ryder Carrington. Left scarred by her father’s cruelty, Kara believes no one can love her. After killing his alpha to save the pack, Ryder now rules, but needs a mate. His blood runs hot for Kara. Ryder will do anything to claim her, even risk an all-out pack war that could cost them everything…

Trapped by Caris Roane

Mastyr Vampire Zephyr, a one-man fighting force, struggles to save the life of a woman who despises his warrior ways. She’s been a thorn in his side, but he has one goal: to keep her safe. For Alesia, however, she just wishes he’d leave her alone since she can never approve of his profession. She broke up with him months ago and wants to start a new life. The trouble is, he’s still the one man who can curl her toes.

Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Find the links to your preferred retailer at:

or use these links:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interview with Chris Beckett - April 23, 2014

Please welcome Chris Beckett to The Qwillery. Dark Eden was published on April 1st in the US by Broadway Books.  You may read a guest blog by Chris - The Sunless Planet - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing about writing for you? Are you a plotter or pantser or a hybrid plotser?

Chris:  More of a pantser - I don’t understand how some people can work out a detailed plot before they’ve got to know their characters! – however the best description of the writing process I’ve come across was from the poet Ted Hughes, who said that for him it was a matter of ‘evading his mental policeman’ (or words to that effect). I think that’s the tricky part, allowing oneself to let go and trust one’s imagination and intuitions.

TQ:  Does being a social worker (and lecturer in social work) influence what you write?

Chris:  My second novel Marcher was certainly influenced a great deal by my background in social work. It’s less obvious in my other work. But if I was to say that my career in social work often involved dealing with unhappy, dysfunctional, and sometimes abusive or incestuous families, I guess this may ring a bell for readers of Dark Eden! (Also: I’m interested in outsiders, and I think this drew me both to social work, and to the kinds of topics I write about.)

TQDark Eden is your third novel after The Holy Machine and Marcher . You've also written numerous short stories. Do you approach novels and short stories differently?

Chris:  Very differently. A short story is a complete little object and requires just two or three core ideas to drive it forward and bring it to a conclusion. Once I have those ideas, I can write a short story fairly quickly, but I have to wait for the ideas to come of their own accord, and until they do there’s no story. (I’ve got a lot of half-written short stories waiting in a file in my laptop for that second or third idea to come along and bring them alive. Sometimes this takes ten years.)

A novel is easier in some respects, since it requires a similar number of core ideas to get started, but then you run with them for a lot longer, and they spawn new ideas as you go along. Dark Eden is the equivalent of, perhaps 20 short stories in terms of length, but once it was under way, it had its own momentum, whereas 20 short stories would have required starting all over again each time.

On the other hand, a novel has got to convey a sense of people growing and interacting over a long period of time and that is challenging. Just as with real people you live your life with, you have to allow them to change, to do unexpected things, to mess up your cherished plans! Unlike in life, you also have to be willing to go back and start again, sometimes many times.

The ideas for all my novels to date began in short stories, actually. The essential ideas for The Holy Machine were contained in two short stories from the beginning of my writing career. Marcher grew out of six short stories. Dark Eden began in a short story called ‘The Circle of Stones’ first published in 1992. I knew I hadn’t finished with that world at the time. I even started, and abandoned, a second story at the time, and a decade later I wrote another short called ‘Dark Eden’ which is really the back story of the book: how the planet Eden was first found, and how a man and a woman came to be stranded there. (The story can be found in my collection The Turing Test). Finally, the better part of two decades after I’d first envisaged this sunless, luminous world, I wrote Dark Eden the book.

TQ:  Tell us something about Dark Eden that is not in the book description.

Chris:  You will find detailed advice in it on how to catch a slinker. All you need is some wavyweed string, a club and... a slinker.

TQ:   In Dark Eden which character surprised you the most? Which character was the most difficult to write and why?

Chris:  The characters that surprised me were the ones who weren’t even in the book when I started off, but just slowly appeared. Hard to pick out one, but maybe Sue Redlantern (Jeff and Gerry’s mum, and John’s aunt). I didn’t know at the outset that she was going to be in the book at all, let alone one of the narrators of the book (she narrates three chapters, which is more than anyone else except for the two main characters, John and Tina), but she really came alive for me.

Hard to write? To be honest, I didn’t find any of the main characters hard to write, once I’d got going. What I did find hard – something which isn’t a problem in short stories - is keeping track of the minor characters and maintaining some sense of who they were across the span of the book. I’ve never written a book before with anything like this many characters in it.

TQ:  How did you develop the language spoken by the inhabitants of the world in Dark Eden ?

Chris:  These people have been cut off from Earth for 160 years, and the way they speak would certainly have changed in that time.

One of the original couple was American and one British, so I gave them a mixture of British and American words. For instance they say ‘bloke’ (which I think of as a very British word) but also say ‘smart’ in the American way, to mean ‘clever’. (In the UK, when we say ‘smart’ we mean well-dressed).

The first generation born in Eden would have lived in a family where there were just two adults and a bunch of kids. I’ve noticed that the language of new parents tends to become more childish, even when they talk to one another, and I thought the overall effect of this (in the absence of a community adults around to draw the language back towards adult norms) would be to entrench some childish ways of speaking into the language. Hence the doubled up words for emphasis (‘big big’) and the tendency to drop articles and other short words here and there.

Otherwise, I tried to bear in mind that words that hadn’t been needed for generations would have been lost (they’ve forgotten the word for ‘sea’ for instance), and that the people who first found the planet would have had to coin new words for things only found in Eden, typically naming things after vaguely similar things on Earth. (A bat on Eden is not the same as a bat on Earth, but has a superficial resemblance to it, just as an American robin is a completely different kind of bird from a European robin, but both have a red breast.) One of my favourite parts of the book is the story that people in Eden tell about how Michael Name-giver gave names to the animals and plants.

TQDark Eden is set on a planet very much unlike Earth. What sort of research did you do to create this planet? In general, what kinds of research did you do for the novel?

Chris:  I did very little research for this novel at all – none worthy of the name really - but I thought about it a lot, and drew on my existing knowledge. I knew that there are life-forms on Earth for instance, that get their energy from the heat of the planet’s core, rather than the sun, and I built on that. I am one of those people who are mines of useless information, but in my case, being a writer allows me to find a use for it all!

TQ:  Please give us one or two of your favorite lines from Dark Eden .

Eden was all I knew, all my mother knew, all my grandmother knew, but sometimes I longed and longed for the bright light that shines on Earth – as bright everywhere as the inside of a whitelantern flower – and the creatures that lived there, with red blood and four limbs and a single heart like us, and not the green-black blood and two hearts and six limbs of bats and leopards and birds and woollybucks.

TQ:  What's next?

Chris:  My next book will be a sequel to Dark Eden, set some two centuries on, when the followers of David and the followers of John have become, in effect, two nations. The main character is a descendant of Jeff Redlantern. Her name is Starlight Brooking. It’s called Mother of Eden.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Dark Eden
Broadway Books, April 1, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family take shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it.

The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark...and discover the truth about their world.

Already remarkably acclaimed in the United Kingdom, Dark Eden is science fiction as literature: part parable, part powerful coming-of-age story, set in a truly original alien world of dark, sinister beauty and rendered in prose that is at once strikingly simple and stunningly inventive.

You may read an excerpt from Dark Eden on Scribd here.

About Chris

CHRIS BECKETT is a university lecturer living in Cambridge, England. His short stories have appeared in such publications as Interzone and Asimov’s Science Fiction and in numerous “year’s best” anthologies. In addition to the Arthur C. Clarke award for Dark Eden, he won the Edge Hill Prize, the UK’s premier award for short story collections, for his collection the Turing Test.


Interview with Donna Glee Williams - April 23, 2014

Please welcome Donna Glee Williams to The Qwillery. The Braided Path was published on March 15th by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Donna Glee:  Thanks, Sally. It’s great to be Qwilled.

Even though I produced my first poem in second grade, I'd have to say that my first real momentum in writing happened in junior high school. There was a group of us misfit-types that were so crazy bored with school that we used our time in class to write elaborate “notes” to each other, assuming alternate, fantasy personalities, heavily flavored heavily by the books we were discovering: Tolkien, Poe, Bradbury—those guys. We got in trouble regularly for not paying attention in class, but nothing stopped us. Plots developed in the “notes,” adventures, even fantasy landscapes that we'd draw out in elaborate maps. (Think Tolkien's geography of Middle Earth.) Fantasy caught fire for me then. Later, after years of being “grown-up” (always a bad idea, btw) and learning my craft doing introspective contemporary realism, I got bored with writing--bored with myself, I guess--went back to the wellspring, and took up fantasy writing again.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Donna Glee:  Pantser all the way. I can’t imagine writing a story that you already know. It would bore me silly. Too much like work. What would be the point? And the most interesting discipline of writing for me is trusting the story-source that’s smarter than my conscious intellect. (The intellect always thinks it knows better. Don’t believe it, at least not about creative issues.)

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Where do you write?

Donna Glee:  What a great question. I guess the biggest challenge for me right now is the whole paycheck thing. How do you build a life where you’ve protected enough idle, dreamy time to really sink into an alternate reality and explore it while simultaneously bringing home the bacon, showing up to work on time in the morning and sharing your brain-space between your day-job and your writing.

And as to where I write, that’s been a bit of a journey. I used to only be able to write when I was away from home—at writers’ retreats, in hotels, on ferries, that kind of place that shelters you from all the routines and demands of your ordinary life. But just in the last year or two I’ve had some progress about that. I find that I’m able now to ignore the dishes and the laundry and the messages on my phone and write, in my own little cabin in the woods. I do all most all of my work where I’m writing this right now: in an ancient armchair, with my feet up and my computer settled on a pillow on my lap.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Donna Glee:  Very early, it was Bradbury. I think The Martian Chronicles was the first book that ever gave me a taste of poetry in prose. I didn’t know you could do that, put lush language at the service of Story. Knocked me sockless. Then there was Poe, mostly the poetry, for teaching me about rhythm and atmosphere. Tolkien, of course, not just for language but for Story—maybe my first glimpse into the power of myth. His life overlapped with Jung’s pretty closely in time—Jung lived from 1875 to 1961, Tolkien from 1892 to 1973—and I think they were working with a lot of the same verities, each in his own way. Terry Pratchett, just for fun—except for Small Gods, which rises well beyond just-for-fun status, I think. Neil Gaiman. And the other one, Neal Stephenson, when I want to feel smart. Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake. Sheri S. Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country. Josh Whedon brings me to my knees. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was probably the biggest esthetic experience in my life. Anything Whedon does, says, or thinks is of interest to me. But my dearest influence has to be LeGuin. Ursula K. LeGuin is who I want to be when I grow up, and I want the whole package: the wisdom, the language, and the imagination.

TQ:  Describe The Braided Path in 140 characters or less.

Donna Glee:  Whoa—tough one. Try this:

The world’s a wall & there’s just one path.
Two directions, though, one for each of them:
Cam’s called upward. Fox goes low.
Will the path they walk bring them home again?

TQ:  Tell us something about The Braided Path that is not in the book description.

Donna Glee:  I’ll give you two for the price of one.

First, the book positively oozes with pre-industrial technology. Living in the Appalachians and traveling to places where life is pretty simple, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot of traditional technology: making cord from fibers, spinning on drop spindles, making fire from a fire-bow, and so forth, and I used the details of that experience to help build the world of The Braided Path and make it feel solid and real. (Even though it’s not in the book, I’ll take this moment to brag that I’m one of the few people you’ll ever meet who has actually brain-tanned a deerskin.)

And here’s another piece of randomness: There’s no evil in the book. Not even any human brokenness to speak of. The conflict, danger, and struggle in the book come from other sources. I noticed this while I was writing it and tried to slip in some badness a couple of times, but the story just didn’t want it there. I mean, it’s not like I can’t write evil—wait until you meet the Chief Interpreter in my next book, Dreamers—it’s just that this story wanted to be an exploration of a society that might actually work without deforming its people. Sort of anti-dystopian. Not just “utopian,” meaning “nowhere,” but “eutopian”—“a good-where.” I wonder what people will think of this with grimdark being so fashionable?

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Braided Path?

Donna Glee:  Remember I said that I used to do most of my writing when I was away from home? Well, about seven years ago, I was at this fabulous creative retreat called The Hambidge Center, in the hills of north Georgia. (Writers, check it out!) At Hambidge, each writer, artist, or musician has their own “studio”—a little cabin off in the woods where you live in total solitude except for coming down to the main lodge for stellar vegetarian dinners in the evenings. (And, lemme tell you, people start to look really good to you after the isolation of the long work days. Everybody’s beautiful. Witty. Charming. Seriously.) I was on the long, uphill slog back to my cabin when a “what-if” started nibbling at my brain: What if this slope went on forever?

I’d recently been through a Wilderness First Responder Course, so I knew some of the answers to that question. Temperature would change, for one thing, by about 4 degrees per thousand feet. Atmospheric pressure would change. Humidity would change. And because these basic things would change, the plants and animals would be different at different levels along the path. And because the plants and animals would be different, the human society basing itself on these resources would be different, too, depending how high or low you were. Hmmm… This began to interest me. What would it be like to live where you could easily walk right out of your own ecological community?

So, when I got back to the cabin, I started to write and out of that one “what-if” came my short story “Limits.” (You can read it for free on Strange Horizons or catch the audio version on PodCastle.) Jed Hartman, then at Strange Horizons, helped me put a nice polish on that tale of Cam, a young man who longed to climb high, toward the top of the world, and Fox, a young woman who longed to climb low, down toward the mythical sea at the bottom of all things. “Limits” got some positive attention, showing up on several “Best of the Year” lists and getting an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’s anthology that year. But best of all, the story kept going, as young Cam and Fox followed where their hearts led them. And led me on the merry hunt for the story. I finished it—for the first time—on a Fulbright Fellowship in Hyderabad, India. You may see a little of India in the book when Cam gets to Big River Town.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Braided Path?

Donna Glee:  Most of the research was just my life—being a nurse and Wilderness First Responder, studying with traditional crafters, spending a lot of time on the trail in the mountains. But there was one thing that I’d really never done that became crucial in the book and that was making a cane boat. One of the main character’s deepest heart’s calling is to make boats—even though she is born in a place where that vocation has no possibility because there is no surface water there at all and boats haven’t even been imagined. I thought about trying to go to one of those places that teaches traditional boat building, but really didn’t want to wait to finish the book. So—thank you, YouTube—I was able to find some video of people making things from cane. That was really the only conscious “research” I did.

TQ:  Why did you choose to write a Fantasy novel? Do you want to write in any other genres or sub-genres?

Donna Glee:  I suppose that one answer is that I didn’t really “choose.” I don’t think writers have much conscious choice about what they write. You tell the stories you’re given and are grateful for the gift, in whatever form it comes. But if I did have a choice, I would stick with SF because of the issue of novelty. Our brains are wired to sit up and take notice of the strange and to relax and lie back in the presence of the familiar. It is literally true that you can go to sleep more easily in a familiar environment. Well, as a writer, I don’t want to go to sleep and I don’t want my readers to go to sleep either. Using the magic SF wand, I can make things new and strange, inviting the neurochemistry of alertness and curiosity. That’s where I want to live.

Also, I’m a Jung Junkie. (A Jungkie?) I believe in and respect the power of myth to shape human experience. Speculative fiction gives writers a great big canvas for working with myth without being jostled around by this thing we laughingly refer to as “reality.”

Some of my short stories are science fiction. (You can catch my flash, “Dancing,” on Pseudopod if you’d like to read about an arthropod ballerina having a midlife crisis. Or maybe “Dancing” is horror. I don’t know. I’m a little wobbly on the barriers between one kind of writing and another.)

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Donna Glee:  Len was easiest. She was my way into the book, I think because she is closest to being my conscious self, an adult woman who thinks she knows pretty much what her life is about. Fox was hardest. I didn’t really get Fox until quite late in writing the book, after several drafts. I owe Fox to some conversations I had with an extraordinarily intuitive friend of mine, the composer and vocalist Lynn Rosser. I already knew about Fox that she’d been stymied by being born into a world where her vocation, boatbuilding, didn’t even exist. But what I didn’t understand, until I talked with Lynn, was how a lot of the load Fox carried came from becoming a mother too early, being left with a child so that she couldn’t follow her heart where it led her.

TQ:  Give us one of your favorite lines from The Braided Path.

Donna Glee:  I guess one of my favorite lines is the four-word line at the end of this passage. It’s near the end of the book, the journeys-end-in-lovers-meeting part:
Standing there by Nish, Len watches Cam’s head sink into
the night as he climbs down after Fox. For her, it’s so simple:
He’s home. Her son is home.

But it’s not simple for Cam and Fox. Len can see that now.
She reaches for Nish’s hand. His fingers settle into the
grooves between hers. The evening breeze flaps their robes.
She brings their clasped hands up where she can see them in
the firelight, see his darker skin interweaving with her lighter
tan. She squeezes his hand. The four slim blue fish tattooed
between his second and third knuckles all swim towards her.

This is what she wants for Cam, for Fox. This. Exactly this.

She can’t give it to them, though. They have to make it

Jade doesn’t wake up when Nish slips her into the lavender
cradle of her hammock. Her grandparents put away the clothing
they don’t need and bathe each other in the big stone basin
under the drape of vine that perfumes the night air with its
yellow blossoms. The water carries away the sand of the
day so that when they come together, skin-to-skin in the big
hammock, there is no grit to chafe them.

This, Len whispers. This.

TQ:  What's next?

Donna Glee:  Well, my second novel is in the hands of the wonderful literary agent Richard Curtis. It’s called Dreamers and happens in a much different landscape than The Braided Path, a desert land where everything revolves around rituals for bringing water up from the deep, both literal water to drink and the metaphorical waters of the unconscious. Unlike The Braided Path, Dreamers has a pretty serious bad guy in it and a dash of daring-do. I’m also working on the discovery draft of my third novel and trying to find a publisher for a little allegorical novella (think Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Little Prince, or “Leaf by Niggle”) about the adventure of going into solitude. I’ll be spending some time as a writer in residence in Norway this summer and scouting the West Highland Way in Scotland for a trail-based fantasy writing workshop I’m cooking up with Sarah McGuire, author of the forthcoming Valiant. If any of your readers would be interested in working on their writing in the literal Celtic landscape, they should contact me through my website ( and I’ll put them on the list to hear about the details when we pull it together.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Donna Glee:  Thank you, Sally. You’ve made this fun with some interesting questions. Let me wish the best to all my fellow writers out there in the salt-mines of The Word and send out my thanks to all my fellow readers who are making the world safe for the weird, interesting, non-cookie-cutter writing by buying it. I’d love to hear your responses on Goodreads or Amazon and I’ll be happy to connect with any book groups or classes reading the book by Skype, face, or text. Read on!

The Braided Path
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, March 15, 2014
Trade Paperback, 224 pages

On the slopes of a vertical land where people’s lives are bounded by how high and low they are able walk on the single path that connects their world, the young widow Len Rope-Maker watches as years go by and her son Cam never finds his limits. Long past the time when other youths in Home Village have found their boundaries, Cam keeps climbing higher and lower, pushing on with his sweetheart Fox who also shows signs of being a Far-Walker. But Cam’s drive to venture far nudges him towards the top of the world, while Fox’s sends her downward, toward the mythical sea at the bottom of all things. Both are true to their own heart’s calling.

Read "Limits" at Strange Horizons here or listen at Podcastle here.

About Donna Glee

Like Cam and Fox in my book, I was born with the Far-Walker’s impulse. I want to see what’s on the other side of things, what’s around the next bend. I want to be there for the next adventure. I don’t want to miss anything on this planet and, if there’s anything to explore out in the land of Phantasie, I don’t want to miss that, either.

I come by the wanderlust honestly. My parents grew up well-rooted but, when hoof-and-mouth disease threatened the continent, they headed for the wilds of post-revolutionary Mexico with about 20,000 other cowboys, veterinarians, secretaries, and livestock appraisers to fight back the danger to North America’s food supply. I was the daughter of people who never saved money; they counted their wealth in stories. Adventure was the order of the day; my family prized the weird in everything from food to language. (Even deep into old age, my father would save up stories and colorful sayings to delight me.)

And I love to take people to new places, too. Physical places, sometimes, like when I invited a few friends to come get lost with me in the bayous north of Lake Ponchartrain. (They were a little put out when we actually did get lost. I guess they just weren’t they listening.) But for the last 19 years or so, it’s often been a new place of ideas or spirit—I’ve made my living as a seminar-leader, planning and leading learning adventures about all kinds of things and ideas that leave people with new horizons in front of them. Places to explore.

Books are places to explore, too—the cheapest form of travel. You can visit lands that never existed: Middle Earth, Earthsea, and The Braided Path’s strange vertical world where a person can walk out of one biome and into another in one day’s travel. You can try on an idea like a pair of pants, to see if you want to buy it. You can snoop without embarrassment into the lives of people you would never want to have dinner with. You can swash that buckle (or buckle that swash?) without risk to life and limb. You can see things in the shimmer of possibility instead of the dust of the real. You can have adventures of the heart and body. Adventures of the mind and spirit.

For me, that’s what it’s all about.

Website  ~  Twitter @williadg1