- Nikky Lee
10 Questions with Clare Rhoden
Clare Rhoden started writing as a youngster, and hasn't stopped. She lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband and a super smart poodle-cross. She enjoys reruns of old Dr Who and Star Trek episodes, but who doesn't? Clare is inspired by politics, legends and history. But mostly by dreams. See Clare’s books, blog posts and reviews at clarerhoden.com.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
Hello Nikky, thank you for having me on Ten Questions. I’m Clare Rhoden, a writer from Melbourne. Most of my writing is speculative (sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia and horror), but I also write historical fiction. And lots of non-fiction, mostly book reviews these days.
2. What are you currently working on?
Weirdly, the thing that’s keeping me busiest just now is a slightly sexy Regency romance. I also have a cosy mystery on the go, a swathe of short projects, and edits for a middle-grade fantasy to be published later this year.
3. What’s your best known work?
In lots of places, I’m best known my WWI novel, The Stars in the Night, a novel that grew from my PhD research, but I get the most feedback about my dystopian trilogy, The Chronicles of the Pale.
It’s a story about a future world where resources are scarce, talking wolf-dogs are the most compassionate creatures, and tribes from the Shaking Land arrive to help out the folk on Broad Plain…If you squint your eyes a bit, you can definitely can see New Zealand and Australia in the story!
4. What inspired you to write it?
Ah, a dream. A nightmare, really. In 2015, in the early days of our current refugee crisis, I dreamt that I was inside a compound and not allowed to rescue an abandoned baby outside the gates. In the dream, my very old German Shepherd Dog, Dinny, arrived from the forest and rescued the child. So I guess you could say I was inspired by Australia’s current PM Scott Morrison—at the time, he was our Minister for Immigration and implemented our extremely harsh anti-migration measures.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, panster or somewhere in between? How do you research?
Oh, I’m a pantser from way back. I often start with a dream scene, or a snippet from the news, or an overheard comment (“Imagine if everyone read as many books as you do!”… yes, imagine! That would be a great world).
I find it wasteful to plot ahead because my seemingly great plans get sabotaged by the characters taking the story in the direction they want it to go, thank you very much. So I sit at the keyboard and let the story blurt out any old way, and check for plot holes, inconsistencies and details later. As a former academic, I love editing and fact-checking, so the process of unfettered imagination followed by critical review suits me.
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
Tin helmets. For my historical novel, I had to immerse myself in the period. Did you know that tin hats were not invented until 1916? So all the ANZACs at Gallipoli just had their slouch hats (the Aussies) and peaked caps (the Kiwis). Not much protection there, I thought.
For The Chronicles of the Pale, I had to get quite deeply (if you’ll pardon the pun) into liquefaction—the process by which solid ground becomes liquid mud. Fascinating.
7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?
The death of Helm, father of Feather, in The Ruined Land, Book 3 of The Chronicles of the Pale (spoiler, oops). I cried while writing it and still cry every time I re-read it, because I see my own dad in Helm.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
Anyone who can take me to a new world, make that world real, and make me care. I love the Alexander novels of Mary Renault—such a detailed world and characters—and the Arthurian books of TH White. More recently, my favourites are Robin Hobb (the Farseer books), Mercedes Lackey (the Valdemar books), Becky Chambers (the Long Way to a Small Angry Planet series), and Holly Black (the Cruel Prince series). All are excellent stories involving characters I really care about.
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
How long is this interview? LOL! Right at the moment I’m reading the latest Sarah J Maas, A Court of Silver Flames. Lined up next are The Ever After by Amanda Hocking and The Last Bear by Hannah Gold. Sitting beside me, waiting for me to finish their reviews, are The Gulp by sensational Australian horror writer Alan Baxter, and the stunning The Dispossessed by New Zealander Piper Mejia.
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?
My books are available through all online retailers, and especially at my publisher, Odyssey Books:
Chronicles of the Pale #1: The Pale
Chronicles of the Pale #2: Broad Plain Darkening
Chronicles of the Pale #3: The Ruined Land
I have quite a few stories in anthologies (so exciting when that happens), and a couple of free ones on my website—you can find all the links at https://clarerhoden.com/.
Follow Clare on these platforms!
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