Friday, April 19, 2013

April Novel Feature - The Exile's Violin

 Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key? That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.

Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport, she continues her quest for answers abroad.

With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late.


 R.S. Hunter

R.S. Hunter fell in love with science-fiction when he watched Star Wars with his grandmother as a small child. From then on there was no turning back. To escape suburban life he turned to stories that took him on wild adventures through time, space, worlds both real and imagined. While he knows space combat won't work the same way it does in the movies, he still hopes that someday he'll get his own X-wing or TARDIS.

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Going from Star Wars and Dr. Who to a rich steampunk environment is a bit of a jump. What interested you in that world?

I’d just read Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and the Steampunk anthology edited by the VanderMeers when I started working on The Exile’s Violin. Those two books were my introduction to steampunk. I’d seen some trappings before in anime, movies, and some other stuff on the web, but I didn’t know it existed as a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy.
I began with the airships first when I started creating the world of Tethys. I know the ones I describe in the book defy all normal laws of physics, but I didn’t care. If I wanted to follow all the laws of physics I wouldn’t have been writing secondary world fantasy fiction in the first place!

What made you decide to go with such a damaged main character? Jacquie has been put through her paces, definitely. Did you struggle with that aspect as you wrote her?

I knew the book was going to have a woman be the protagonist from the start. Making Jacquie the way she is kind of just happened. She’s scarred (emotionally and physically) and tough as nails to borrow the cliché. I think those aspects of her character just went well with the steampunk/private eye/noir-esque world I was putting together.

I *love* that Clay is not insta-good at being Jacquie’s sidekick and that he has to go through a learning curve. What was going through his mind when he decided to help Jacquie reclaim her pistols?

I really liked writing all of the bantering between Jacquie and Clay. Those parts of the book came pretty easily. As far as his thoughts during the auction scene go: I just imagine that here’s this guy who has ridiculous amounts of money. He’s bored with his life and looking for something fulfilling. I mean, perhaps it’s a little naïve of him to just trust Jacquie right off the bat when she said she was there to reclaim her stolen property, but he’s got the wealth to deal with the consequences if she wasn’t being truthful or they got caught.
Put another way: what if Bruce Wayne didn’t have the childhood trauma and decided to turn to crime instead of becoming vigilante? Clay’s a little bit like that minus, you know, actually being good at solving (or committing!) crimes. At least at first!

Knowing what you do about the story’s politics, would you be on Alesir’s or Kenesta’s side of the war?

It’s a bit surreal being asked about the politics in my made up world, but I’ll give this one a shot! To be honest, I don’t know which side I’d choose. There’s a lot of manipulation going on in both countries in the time period leading up to the war. It’s not that the regular citizens of either country are inherently bad or evil. Both sides have corruption to deal with so neither one is inherently better than the other.

How fun was your research and world-building?

Tons. World-building is my favorite part of writing fantasy and science fiction. Coming up with new worlds, places, cultures, and histories is a lot of fun. I could probably stand to do a little less of it in the future because it can keep me from actually starting on a project. You can see some of my concept art and terrible sketches at my website.
I’m extremely picky when it comes to choosing names and stuff like that. I’ll usually leave choosing names until I’m done writing a draft, and that will sometimes take me days to get it all to my liking. For the longest time Kenesta was called Rhadeus in my drafts and even in my sketches. But the sound of it just wasn’t quite right. I spent hours messing around with names until I chose Kenesta.

If you lived in this world, do you think you’d be involved in the political affairs? Would you be a private eye like Jacquie? Or would you do something totally different?

Knowing how corrupt the political system in Alesir and Vorleaux is, I’d probably stay as far away from politics as I could. Personally, I’d want to be an airship captain. That’s got to be the coolest job.
My answer would be the same if my book was in the space opera subgenre. There’s just something about being a captain of my own ship (naval, air, or space!) that appeals to me. Maybe it’s a freedom thing. If I lived in Tethys, I’d probably end up something like Mal from Firefly.

What’s next for Jacquie and Clay? What’s next for you?

There are more adventures in store for the two of them, I can tell you that much. I’m in the process of editing the second book in the series, Terraviathan. The story takes some dark turns and Jacquie and Clay don’t always see eye to eye, but they’re still a hell of a lot of fun to write. Look for Terraviathan sometime in late 2013 (or possibly early 2014). After that, who knows what else is in store for Jacquie and Clay!
I’m also revising another novel called Gifts of the Earth, which is the first novel in a brand new sword and sorcery series called The Song of Siya. There’s another book in that series in the works too. It’s too early to try looking for a home for Gifts, but I have high hopes for it!

Thanks so much for joining us!

The Exile's Violin is a fantastic read. Can't wait to check out the next installment in Jacquie and Clay's adventures!

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