Friday, December 4, 2015

Interview with Roxanne Bland, author of 'The Moreva of Astoreth

Roxanne Bland grew up in Washington, D.C., where she discovered strange and wonderful new worlds through her local public library and bookstores. These and other life experiences have convinced her that reality is highly overrated. Ms. Bland lives in Rosedale, Maryland with her Great Dane, Daisy Mae.

Her latest book is the science fiction novel, The Moreva of Astoreth.

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Can you tell us what your book is about?

It’s the story of priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the headstrong granddaughter of a powerful goddess who is banished for a year from her beloved desert home to a volatile far northern corner of Peris for neglecting to perform her sacred duties, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love. 

Why did you write your book?

The story demanded to be written. I was working on another project when The Moreva of Astoreth came knocking at my head. I tried to put it on the back burner until I finished the project I was working on, but I kept thinking and thinking about it until it was interfering with my work-in-progress. So I set that project aside and started writing The Moreva of Astoreth.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

I’m what they call a pantser—I write by the seat of my pants. The plot unfolds as I write it. It means I sometimes end up with a lot of material that doesn’t get into the book, but when that happens, I just save it for another story.

Your book is set in an isolated village.  Can you tell us why you chose this place in particular?

Well, the heroine is from a big, tightly planned urban area located in the planet’s southern hemisphere. Think New York City in the desert. Then she’s forced to go to this backwater village the north, where the populace basically lives cheek to jowl with wild nature. Going from one extreme to another, I wanted to see how she would cope. Much to my surprise, she does pretty well—once she learns obeying the village’s rules can be a matter of life or death.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Yes, and I try not to worry about it—just ride it out. I think worrying is the worst thing I can do. When I’m blocked, I just go do something else for a while—usually reading—and keep doing something else for however long it takes. Then it just seems to lift, and I’m back at the computer. In writing The Moreva of Astoreth, I felt blocked for about two months. I fretted for a while, then I threw up my hands and went about my business. Didn’t think about it. So one day, I’m in my office puttering around and the next thing I know, I’m sitting in front of the computer writing again. 

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

If I could instantaneously transport myself, I’d ride every rollercoaster I could. I love rollercoasters. The scarier, the better.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

To Meskerem, a little Ethiopian restaurant I know in Washington, D.C. Eating Ethiopian style is a different experience in dining. No forks or knives. You tear off a piece of this spongy kind of bread called injera, wrap it around your food, and pop it into your mouth. We’d eat and talk and eat and talk until they’d have to winch us out of our seats.

What do you like the most about being an author?

That I can sit for hours thinking, daydreaming and visualizing. It’s like I’m watching a movie in my head, and I just write down what I see. Of course, seeing your book in print is a rush, too.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

There’s nothing inherently wrong in mixing seemingly un-mixable genres. To me, mixing it up it makes things more interesting. There’s more you can do with it. And it makes your book different, stand out even, from all the rest. I would also add there’s nothing wrong with being an independent author, either. From what I can tell, indies are gaining respect in the literary world, though we’re not there, yet. Besides, it’s nice not to have to work under deadlines.

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