7 Dec 2014

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Author Interview / Rachel Manija Brown (co-author of Stranger)

 Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, "the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. "Las Anclas" now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Collaboration isn't only a matter of who you most admire as an author; it's also about who you enjoy working with, and if you can get your working styles to mesh. Both Sherwood and I have successfully collaborated with others, but have also had unsuccessful collaborations with people whom we liked, but couldn't manage to find a working style that was good for both of us.
So I have no idea who else I'd enjoy working with. I couldn't know until I tried. 

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
Sherwood and I develop the story together, then literally sit down at the computer and type together, alternately speaking the dialogue, like an improvised play. We usually work at her house, or at a writing retreat. We enjoy visiting author Judith Tarr's horse ranch, riding and writing. It's a wonderful retreat.
I also write solo. I am currently in the middle of the third book of my "Werewolf Marines" series, which is urban fantasy for adults written under the pen name Lia Silver. I write that at home and on my lunch breaks at work. (I'm a PTSD therapist.)

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Beginnings, when I don't have the voices and tone down yet, and early middles, when I am convinced that it's all terrible.

4. When and why did you first start writing?
At age seven, I wrote my first "novel" in a notebook. It was the lightly fictionalized adventures of my actual pet rat, Ratsy, and was called "The Adventures of Ratsy." (There are cute mutant rats in Stranger; I like rats. They are so smart and fuzzy!)

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Sherwood and I wanted to write a fun adventure story for everyone who normally gets left out of the fun books - for the readers who aren't normally seen as heroes, because they're racial or ethnic or religious or sexual or gender minorities. It probably originally comes from me being a little Jewish girl who wanted to read books about girls being heroes, and stories about Jews having adventures rather than facing anti-Semitism. 

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I read constantly! Right now I'm in the middle of a wonderful book called Santa Olivia, by Jacqueline Carey. It's about a genetically engineered lesbian boxer after the apocalypse, and it's terrific - fun and juicy and completely engrossing. 

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Don't give up. There's someone out there who really wants to hear the stories you have to tell.