Interview With Rachel O'Laughlin, Author of COLDNESS OF MAREK

What?!!? A post on a Monday and it’s NOT Mirth and Music? Say it ain’t so.
Yup. It’s so. But technically there is some mirth involved and we do mention music. All for the excellent excuse of interviewing the talented Rachel O’Laughlin, author of Coldness of Marek which officially releases tomorrow (but which I’ve had the good fortune to read).blogtourbanner2 If you hurry over to There and Draft Again, I think you can still get in the drawing for a copy. Go. I’ll wait.
*cue Jeopardy music*
Ah, back so soon? Great, because Rachel and I were getting a little tired of sitting here counting pencil holes in the ceiling. Not that I sit back and throw pencils at the ceiling when I’m having a bad writing day. That’s just silly.
So, welcome Rachel. Can I get you something to eat or drink? A little coffee, perhaps? I know, it’s just a clunky wooden mug the troll left behind, not nearly as nice as your own cup, but it doesn’t leak or anything.
Now then, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and why anyone should want to read Coldness of Marek.
RO’L: I’m a stay-at-home mom who attempts to garden every year, loves going out for coffee, everything having to do with the arts, and is generally amused by life and people — whether they be easy-going or quirky, they’re my type. Why should you want to read my book? Well, I’m pretty terrible at pitches, but if you like character-driven kingdom wars in which it sometimes takes ten years for a snotty anti-hero to grow up and come into their own…I told you I stink at pitches. 😉
Not a problem. Pitches are notoriously difficult. I’m not so good at them myself. But I’ll give the folks a reason to read CoM, because it’s FREAKING GOOD that’s why. Go read all the wonderful reviews if you don’t believe me.
Moving on . . . are you a Pantser or Plotter?
RO’L: Always been a pantser, but it makes for so much work in revisions that I’m considering trying to convert. Mostly, my mode of operation seems to be to pants a draft and then use my draft as an outline for revisions so intense they’re basically rewrites. Every project is just a little different, though, depending on where my brain was going and where it might need reigning in.
Editorial Note: Pantsers rule. Just sayin’.

I love hearing how other authors go about this mysterious craft. Tell us about your writing habits. You know, any special place you need to write, goofy hat you need to wear, superstitious coffee cup you have to have before any words will ever flow?

RO’L: OH, FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT CUP! I actually do have a special cup. I don’t use it all the time, because I like to change it up, but the toughest of scenes require this 3oz sconce-shaped china cup with a delicate rosebud on it. It’s just so elegant, and it makes me feel like Beatrix Potter.
kls: Please, take the troll mug to add to your collection. Really. It’s not like he wants it back or anything.
RO’L: I typically write in the early morning and also at naptime, and on big heavy days I write again in the evening.
kls: You can nap *and* write at the same time? That is talent.
RO’L: Um . . . no, I have two small children, so I have to squish it in while they’re sleeping. As soon as they’re out, I grab my Netbook like my life depends on it and pound away. It’d probably be really funny to watch. On writer’s block days, I stare, bang my head against the keys, and procrastinate on Twitter.

Ha, ha, kids. Of course. I knew that. All right, then, tell us, where did CoM come from? What was your inspiration? Did it start with plot, with character? What drove your story?

RO’L: I think an interest in twisted politics drives the plot. I love looking at the bad side of government, or at what COULD happen if something was mishandled. I almost wrote CoM as alternative history…until I decided it just had to have a bit of magic.
The characters came after. I really didn’t expect to have so many sides to portray. I thought it was going to stay simple. But once I delved into the conflict, I knew Trzl’s perspective was going to be so skewed that I had to add the (also unreliable) voices of her antagonists, her allies, and her son. In a nutshell, I think the story is about seeing every side of a coin, and not giving up on yourself even if you have given up on the world at large.
How long did it take to write? Oh gosh. I actually made some classic mistakes with this book, which I might as well ‘fess up to here, because it’s a comfy place to do it. The first draft took thirty days. Revisions took another thirty. Then, I published it. And it was a really stupid thing to do. After a few months of thinking, I took it off the market and I let it sit in its own juices for about eight months, and then I took it out and rewrote it line by line. After that, it was five months of revisions and edits. So that is… nineteen months. Or you can minus the year and it’s seven months of actual writing and editing. Phew!
Well, you have me beat. I took years. Of course, several years were spent running a mindless loop of the first ten or so chapters due to extreme rewriteritess. But, enough about me, this is your interview. And now you get to spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and why? And what would you do?

RO’L: I’m tempted to say Kierstaz, because she’s just so fierce and rugged, but I think I’d have way more fun with Gernan. He’s pretty much a jack of all trades/master of none who has more plans than he’ll have time to execute in his lifetime. I think he’d be an all out riot as a friend. I’d ask him to take me exploring in the cliffs, because there’s got to be all kinds of cool things up there that I haven’t thought of.

I can definitely see that. Although, I wouldn’t mind spending the day riding and picnicking with young Mikel.  *ahem* So If you could be one of your characters, who would it be and why?RO’L: Oh, this one is easy. I’d be Malcom. Because he gets to do and see everything ever, and because even though Trzl fails in so many aspects of life, she IS a strong, protective mother. Malcom’s life is posh because of her awesome supermom abilities.

Wow, interesting answer.  I think I would be Marek for reasons I just can’t put my finger on. Not that it would be fun in any way . . .

Moving on. You’ve got a pretty involved world with several different cultures — tell us a bit about your world building. How do you approach it? How much detail do you work out that readers will never see?

RO’L: Bits of world come to me helter skelter, and with MAREK, a lot of the fantasy elements were not worked out until the very end.  Now that I have the first book finished and the second and third books started, my world-building is still random, but I document it much better. I have notebooks and graphs and timelines. I just edit and edit. A lot.
I actually don’t think there’s much detail I’ve worked out that readers won’t get to see at some point. I can’t always mention details within a certain setting or POV — I have to keep it trim and focus on the characters at hand — but it will be relevant to one of my characters later on. Anything about the Drei, the Desert People, or the gypsies, it’s  foreshadowing, because their cultures and history is super important to the final climactic events…later. 🙂

I need music to work by. Is there a soundtrack for CoM? Music that inspired you?
RO’L:
There is! The soundtrack is actually going up today as well, on Let’s Get Nerdy [http://letsgetnerdy.blogspot.com], so hop over and check it out.  There is a lot of music that can apply to the story because it is emotionally all over the place. Trzl is an idealist who makes every wrong move in the book and ends up falling on her face. But she gets up again, even though she’s somewhat dragged back into the fray, and she learns how to live and be herself again. Then there’s Hodran, who’s pretty much a self-important playboy turd. His kind never invokes much that’s good (duh). And Mikel, a big know-it-all who thinks the world would be so much better if everyone would just be a goody goody like him…until he loses everything and becomes all about survival and bitter realism. So yeah, a lot of spectrum. I pretty much drank music while I was rewriting it, ha.

What’s next? What projects are on the horizon? Obviously we need to know what becomes of Marek, but are there other projects you’ll be working on as well?
RO’L: I’m in it for a couple years with SERENGARD, as KNIGHTS OF RILCH is coming in spring of 2014 —
kls: 2014!!!!! But . . . but . . .
RO’L: I know. I’m sorry. Should be here in February. So not THAT long . . . and the third book in the fall. There may even be a fourth. But after that, I have a historical drama I have always wanted to write, as well as a spy thriller and a murder mystery. I’m not sure when I’ll get to writing them, but they are not on the “possibilities” list, they are squarely in the “to be written ASAP” pile.2014. *mutters* Well, then, I think that about wraps up my questions. Except . . . 2014? Really? *sigh* Is there anything else you’d like to add?
RO’L:  That this was awesome and you’re a cool person? Can I just say that?
kls: Well, of course. Thank you.
RO’L: Thanks so much for having me, Kathi!
kls: Thanks for being had. Um . . . I mean, thanks for joining us! Best of luck with the launch and the tour.
Coldness of Marek

Coldness of Marek

Coldness of Marek Blurb:

Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries—centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion.
As the rebellion escalates, her choices have an eerie impact on the revolution at large, elevating her to a position of influence she has only dreamed of attaining. But there are downsides to her new power that entangle her in a dangerous web of emotions, appearances and alliances. Even as she plays to the attractions of Hodran, a rich nobleman who wants to aid her cause, she is drawn to Mikel, a loyalist farmer who hates the rebellion but just might be winning her heart.
By the time Trzl realizes she is in too deep, she has an infant son and a dark mess of betrayal and lies. She runs to the furthest corner of the kingdom in hopes that she will be left alone with her child, but she has created too many demons. A figure she once trusted will take her captive in the chilling Cliffs of Marek, throw her back into the political upheaval she helped create, and leave her at the mercy of a man she never wanted for an enemy.

Book Info: 

COLDNESS OF MAREK
Epic Fantasy
The First in the Serengard Series
Release Date: August 6, 2013
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6 Comments:

  1. Nice job, ladies! Definitely makes me want to read the book.

  2. Great interview. Congrats to Rachel!! I admire all the hard work you put into the book, especially having the courage to pull it off the market and rewrite. And I um also have a special coffee mug.

  3. Gorgeous cover! Thanks for introducing me to Rachel. 🙂

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