I am very pleased to bring you this interview with Rebekah Turner, an exciting Brisbane writer on the scene with Harlequin’s new digital imprint, Escape Publishing. I was introduced to Rebekah at Genrecon, as a fellow author. (Yes, there is a gleeful squee in that) and I was looking forward to read her urban fantasy, Chaos Born.
Chaos Born is a good example of the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Love is not the central driver in this story. There’s some sexual attraction and some ‘pinch and tickle’ and a maybe a promise of a happy ever after in a later tome. This story is hard hitting, gritty and complete with a quirky female, kick-arse heroine with attitude. The heroine, Lora Blackgoat is flawed, funny and frankly in a lot of trouble. Rebekah takes the tropes and puts them through a mangler, then she twists them, smashes them into the pavement then slaps them onto her broad canvas. She has goblins, elves, half-angels, witches and demons and she makes it work in this fantastical place.
I had trouble putting this book down. This book rocks and the production is good. Congratulations and well done to Rebekah.
You can get Chaos Born from the Escape Publishing website here. Or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ibooks and other retailers of digital books. It was on special but it is now $4.99.
Rebekah thank you for letting me interview you .
So tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Brisbane with my husband, two kids and a psychotic Boston Terrier. In my past I’ve worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world. I now work part-time and spend rest of the week being a child-wrangler and house-witch.
How long have you been writing for?
I started writing when I was young, maybe around primary school. I loved creating stories and usually had illustrations that accompanied the fantastic tales of magical horses and snarky dragons.
What kind of genres to you write?
I enjoy making things up, so all things paranormal interest me. I also like a tasty romance. My first big story was a bloated fantasy mess, called Bane of the Flamebird. I wrote it in high school in my lunch break. It was about a girl in high school (cough, cough) who gets transported to a magical fantasy land. Once there, she had to find some magic McGuffin to get back home.
When did you start writing Chaos Born?
I wrote Chaos in 2008, when doing Year of the Novel with Kim Wilkins. It was originally straight up fantasy, and written in third person. After it was finished, I let it rest while I tinkered on other stories. Then I gravitated back to the story, because I’d had a lot of fun creating the world and the characters, but knew the story wasn’t quite right. In particular, the protagonist, Lora Blackgoat, was flat and uninteresting. So I re-wrote the story from her point of view and she emerged as a cranky anti-heroine that I found hilarious to write.
Do you have other novels in progress or is Chaos Born you first? (If you have others tell us a bit about those).
Other than a few short stories and book 2 in The Chronicles of Applecross series, I’ve been working on a sexy paranormal romance. The working title is Biker Werewolves in Tasmania and involves an ex-homicide detective who comes to her home town to recuperate after job burn-out, and a disgraced werewolf pack enforcer.
The Weald is a very fantastic place, with creatures from legend, steampunk, magic, half-angels and religion all blended in. Was this how it started out for you or did you end up with that mix?
The world evolved as I edited the story, but the creatures from legend and the religious aspect were always there. I used a few techniques I found online to flesh the world out more and did up a kind of scrapbook to help visualise what Harken City looked like. I wanted the city to be fantastic, but in a realistic sense.
Lora is such a likable but flawed character. She sounded fun to write? How long and how hard was it to get her just so?
Lora took a while to develop. I knew the type of anti-heroine I wanted, but she was difficult to get a handle on at first. The male characters came easier to me, while Lora read very flat. But I persevered and finally her voice came through after I re-wrote the story from her POV.
Her circumstances are quite out of the ordinary even for an urban type fantasy or even fantasy. She was adopted by a Satyr and an elf witch. I’m sorry to ask this question but how do you think that shit up?
Not sure. Though I didn’t have a television set when I was a kid, and had no brothers or sisters until I was seven years old. So I read. A lot. I used to wake up at 4 am so I could read more. I was also a huge C.S. Lewis and Robert Jordan fan-girl.
So how many goes did it take for Chaos Born to get accepted?
I submitted Chaos Born to publishers and agents when they had their doors open. Took about a year of rejections until it was accepted for publication by Escape Publishing, which was VERY exciting.
How did you manage to get through the disappointments? Did you have mentors and support groups to keep your spirits high?
I’m a member of a writing group called Sisters of the Pen and their support was fantastic. Chaos Born was a finalist in the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program. While Hachette didn’t pick Chaos up for publication, it was validation that I had a good story. The constant rejections were depressing, but I always managed to bounce back.
Where did you hear about the opportunity with Escape Publishing?
At the 2012 Romance Writers Convention at the Gold Coast. A panel of publishers pitched to the conference on why writers should submit their manuscripts to them. After hearing the Escape editor say they had a two week response time, I jumped at the chance to submit.
How did it feel to have Escape Publishing accept the MS?
Pretty awesome. It happened very fast and took a long time to sink in.
I believe you are working on a sequel? Can you give us any hints (without spoiling Chaos Born?)
The second story revolves around Lora killing a crazed griorwolf in self-defense. His grieving mother hires Lora to find out what happened to her son to turn him into a killer. Lora’s investigations put her into the crosshairs of the violent Reaper Street Gang and a corrupt city official with a taste for blood sport. Lora’s relationship with Roman deepens, and Seth, alarmed at the deepening affection between the two, redoubles his efforts to win Lora.
Thank you Rebekah for taking the time to be interviewed. I just hope you know that you interrupted my writing today ( on my writing day) because I had to finish the book. Now I have to hang out for the next one. I know you won’t mind, Rebekah, if I say I have a girl crush on Lora.
Here is a shot of Kate Cuthbert and Rebekah resting their feet after a hard day during the launch of Harlequin Escape in Sydney on 14 November.