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'A Sprinkle of 'What If''
Interview with Rachel Lindley, Author of Cimmerian City
Ambrose Musiyiwa (amusiyiwa)     Print Article 
Published 2007-08-16 16:40 (KST)   
Rae Lindley was born in Torrance , California. Her articles and short stories have appeared in publications that include Suite101; The Acacia; The Post and Deep Tapioca.

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She has also written for speculative fiction ezines like Lunar Castles; Nightly Gathering; Dark Moon Rising and Comic Stack.

In 2004, her film-script, "Hotel Sunset" received an honorable mention in the Television/Movie Script category of the 73rd Writer셲 Digest Annual Writing Competition. Two years later, Quack, Quack, a short animated film that Lindley helped create and art direct went on to win the Copper Wing Audience Award at the Phoenix Film Festival.

Her books include a novella, The Eye of Alloria (Lavender Isis Press, 2007) and the novel, Cimmerian City, which is due to be released by Mundania Press in late August 2007.

In a recent interview, Rae Lindley spoke about her writing.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

Cimmerian City
©2007 Rae Lindley
Speculative fiction, which most would identify as sci-fi/fantasy. Most of my works deal with today셲 social issues in a futuristic or otherworldly setting.

I grew up on sci-fi television, movies and books and what always fascinated me about the genre is the way social commentary can be given in such diverse settings. Of course, I loved the cool futuristic cars, cities and technology but the ones that always had an underlying story about humanity, alongside the cool-looking technology, really stuck with me and inspired me in presenting my own story lines in such settings.

Which of these movies and TV programs did you find particularly inspiring?

I was really into the Doctor Who series, Invaders, U.F.O., Star Trek (the original series), Robotech, Battlestar Galactica (the original 70s version), Space: 1999 and a whole lot of others.

Movies that I really enjoyed were Star Wars, the Star Trek movies, Alien and Aliens, War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Independence Day, Blade Runner and others. I loved reading the novelizations of the movies I watched so I could get a complete idea of the story structure in the narrative as well as the visual form. There are probably others I셫 missing but it would turn into a novelization itself if I listed all of them!

I셶e always been an avid film lover. So much, in fact, that starting at the age of 12, I dreamed of becoming a filmmaker.

What happened to this dream?

It셲 still there on the back burner. I think I셫 taking baby steps and focusing on one aspect of my career at a time. I did come close by creating animated films, so I was in the director셲 seat for a while. I quench my thirst for visual storytelling with illustrations from time to time.

Writing is a lot like that and possibly even more imaginative than film because you셱e presenting a world with your own characters that live, breathe and interact among one another in your head and eventually in the heads of your readers. The speculative genre allows you to take it a step further in creating completely different worlds, some bad and some good, where your characters can rise above the everyday situation, possibly have wondrous supernatural powers and become heroes or villains!

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

It셲 strange, I don셳 really remember a defining moment where I went to my parents or anything and told them I wanted to write for a living. It was just something I did that was a part of me. Even at school, I used to write stories while the teacher was talking and pass them on to my classmates who would give me feedback on what they thought.

During my Anne Rice 쁵ampire fan stage, I was really into Gothic horror and I wrote a few stories that are still sitting in my old notebooks from middle school and high school. I remember I scared a few of my classmates with some of those stories!

In the writing that you are doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?

Definitely my mother and father.

My mother in that she continued pursuing her education after raising two children to adulthood and my father in that he continually struggled against hardships to travel and keep us going.

My mother is currently studying law in an effort to give children a voice in the justice system as well as us writers in the family who need a little extra legal guidance. My father works as a contractor, so he goes where the technical jobs need him, traveling from coast to coast, at times. At the same time, he셲 also working on a few technical books on space travel, scientific proof of higher life and artificial intelligence -- so both of them are real inspirations to me in how they can juggle so much and still hold on to their passions.

My father has also been a big inspiration because he was a science fiction fan from a very young age.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

I셝 say it's one part experience, two parts emotion and a sprinkle of 쁶hat if.

Many of my stories are inspired by current and past news events in the world and some personal experiences that have happened to me that usually transpire through my characters and their actions. If I feel passionately about how people are mistreated, I give them a voice through my characters to speak out and change the situation into a better one.

Who is your target audience?

I usually target my fellow paranormal, science fiction and fantasy fans at the same time aiming for the romance audience.

You셱e probably thinking this is a bit strange! But I think reaching beyond genres and touching aspects of each in a story can affect even the most casual reader. Not to mention the fact that most of the great science fiction stories of our time include fantastic love stories as subplots. For example, Isaac AsimovThe End of Eternity features a love story integral to the plot in a futuristic context.

What셲 also interesting is, while most of the classic science fiction works had allusions to relationships, recently a new genre, romantic science fiction, is being exercised in the works of Linnea Sinclair and Susan Grant, among others.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I would have to say my concerns are whether or not my characters are believable enough in their actions and dialogue.

When I write, it셲 not really a conscience procedure. I find it hard to sit down and make a character profile, structure out the plot in an outline and then start writing. I tried that in my early days of writing and by the time I got through planning, the story was already told and the mystery was gone.

Now, I have an idea of what my characters are like as well as the plot when I start the book, but I discover what happens as the story unfolds and the characters act out the situations in my head. So a lot of times things happen that I didn셳 even see coming. It셲 fun to let the characters do what they want. It셲 more like dreaming and recording what the characters are saying and doing.

Script Magazine featured an article by Robert Piluso about wakeful writing which I found to be very identifiable. Piluso said, ... this particular passion (in his case, screenwriting) must be providing some spiritual, emotional, and/or psychological release not ascertainable in our regular life. So in a way, wakeful writing is like living out a dream state within the pages, which for me is true since I sit back and allow my characters to act out in my writing. I think for many writers we have this urge to tell fantastical stories that make life interesting and quench that creative thirst that셲 always running around in our heads.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

Book promotion by far! Until I had to dive head first into it, I didn셳 realize how much it took to spread the word about your work. Not just time and energy, but also in terms of passion. Aside from that, I셝 say finding time to create new works alongside running a business.

I work at Lavender Isis Publishing, an e-publishing company... so I straddle both sides of the industry being a publisher as well as a writer. Also, I have my own freelance work where I create promotional items for self-published and small press authors who need that extra boost in getting the word out about their work.

How do you deal with these challenges?

I like to go where the readers are and let them know about my new writing works. So, be it online or people I met out and about who enjoy reading, I try to let them know that I have a book that may interest them and try to give them some cool promotional items that I create myself. It셲 been hard sometimes because I have to juggle writing and the business side which can clash into each other and completely tire me out! But I just take a few days off then hop on my train again to keep going.

I usually designate time to balance both. I셫 such a night owl and my most creative side comes out in the late night hours. So usually I set aside a day of the weekend or an evening in order to write and rewrite because it셲 so peaceful and I can hear my characters more clearly without the hustle and bustle of the daytime noise.

Do you write everyday?

I try to! (Laughs.) Lately, my writing times have been pretty sporadic. I had to take a bit of time off in between finishing my previous book and the other to give my mind a break. So I edited some of my short stories, wrote a poem (a medium I hadn셳 written in for a while) and now I셫 starting to dive into another novel that is more contemporary. Sometimes it helps to do other activities completely absent of writing to let the brain rest a bit then come back fresh to tell a new story.

When I do write I usually go in streaks of about four to six hours at a time. It usually happens during certain times of the week towards the night hours, especially if I셫 really trying to tackle a piece. If I셫 between projects, I end up writing about once a week.

My typical sessions usually start after my mind is percolating a bit usually in the evening because I tend to write best at night. I usually read news, or check my writing blogs and message boards throughout the day while thinking of the next part in my current story. I don셳 usually write on the computer, unless it셲 something I have to get down right at that moment. Typically, I take a large stack of notebook paper strapped to my clipboard and plop down in front of a movie that fits in with the mood of the story I셫 telling at the time. The marriage of the visual and the narrative brings out the story in my mind and onto the page. It셲 usually hard to start the session. I셫 a master procrastinator! But when I get started, I셫 completely on a roll. I usually try to finish a chapter per writing session or at least stop at a place where the scene ends and my mind can let go of the story. Otherwise, the characters and plot keep me distracted from other things!

Why is it important to write everyday?

You have to treat it as a serious job where you set aside some time everyday to hone your craft. It takes a lot of discipline to sit down in front of a computer and hammer away at a novel or a short story, but the more you do it the better you get at it.

How many books have you written so far?

I셶e written three novels and a few short stories.

The Eye of Alloria, an illustrated novella published by Lavender Isis Press was released in March in e-book and print format. It centers on a post-apocalyptic Earth where Saron Bravewind, the King of Orland, rules the main Earth city of Orland. Saron mans a flight into space with a faith in finding a higher life to help his daughter who has fallen ill. What he finds will change the fate of mankind. Fans of elves, the mystical and romantic triangles will like this story.

Cimmerian City, on the other hand,is a science fiction thriller set in a future not far from our time. It's a world where corporations rule the world, science is big business and governments as we know them no longer exist. A war breaks out between two races and one of them isn셳 human. Raven Blackheart awakens in this world as a product of both races and nurtured by the vice president of the main corporation as a symbol of the union of races. With her help, Vice President Tyler Deamond's corporation can take both beings off Earth, which is quickly becoming a waste planet, to a new terraformed planet. But... as Raven soon learns... nothing is as it seems, especially concerning humans. I think fans of thrillers, the paranormal, and science fiction would enjoy this book. I tried to offer an alternative take using the myths of vampire tradition in a realistic setting dealing with racial and class issues.

The latest book is actually the sequel to Cimmerian City entitled Cimmerian World which I셶e recently finished editing.

How did Cimmerian City come about?

I started Cimmerian City in 1999 during my high school English class where we were studying Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I still remember that day. I was doodling the idea for the story on a notepaper and from then on the story went through many incarnations, different ideas and mediums until I finally wrote it all out in novel format in 2004.

Although Cimmerian World took about a year to write and a little longer to edit, it took a lot more out of me.

What did you find most difficult when you were writing the novel?

Definitely the obstacles I셶e put my heroine through. Along with the usual external plot points and hurdles to jump through trying to save the planet, my heroine also has to learn to trust those who want to help her. She has an affinity to close herself off because of the people she's lost during her life. That transition into adulthood, the trials she goes through to come of age and stop the antagonist took a toll on me mentally because it was as if I was experiencing the same situation.

Which did you enjoy most?

With both books, I enjoyed building the personal connections between the characters. Seeing them interact in the environment, develop romantic feelings for each other and overcome so much that it's a relief at the end when the payoff finally occurs!

What sets the books apart from the other things you've written?

The tone is the darkest of all my works. I also consider the heroine of the Cimmerian books my alter ego and her story has been with me for a good chunk of my life. So of all of my books, this particular set of stories would be my labor of love.

In what way is it similar?

I like to write about seemingly ordinary characters thrown into extraordinary circumstances with an extensive amount of odds against them and see how they overcome these. Some of my stories deal with the everyday but the characters take various, out of the ordinary, actions to try and change it. Sometimes it turns out well for them, but other times they fall into traps.

What will your next book be about?

I have a few stories that I셫 writing at the moment along with Cimmerian Girl, the third book in the Cimmerian Series.

I셫 also working on a new illustrated novella, Marauder Star; a suspense novel entitled Before Dawn Breaks; a few short stories about how a married couple (two different sets in different stories) working in the entertainment business deal with corruption, infidelity and murder; and some screenplays I셫 adapting into literature.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

It would have to be the acceptance of my first book to be published, Cimmerian City, which is the book that's closest to me. It still hasn셳 entirely hit me yet!

How did you get there?

Persistence, plenty of writing and rewriting and tweaking. Receiving lots of good feedback on the direction of the work and just believing in it enough to keep pushing it out there.
This article is scheduled to appear on Conversations with Writers.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ambrose Musiyiwa

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