What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Solitude Of Light (Beyond Cascadia Book Three)?
The story behind the story of “Solitude Of Light” is that, as I was developing the “Beyond Cascadia” speculative fiction series, I uncovered darker aspects of the relationship between the brothers, Tomás and Francisco Chen. I saw there needed to be a final confrontation between both of them, but because they are such unusual personalities, it went in unexpected ways. Because of the focus on these characters, “Solitude Of Light” was written as a stand-alone story that can be thoroughly enjoyed even if a reader hasn’t read the first two novels.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Solitude Of Light (Beyond Cascadia Book Three), what would they be?
I love this question, as I have composed lengthy playlists for most of my characters and appreciate how certain lyrics really help me catch aspects of their personalities. I think the songs that capture Tomás’ inner anguish the best are the classic “Everything I Own” by Bread, and “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, by Death Cab For Cutie. For Francisco, “Cold Little Heart”, by Michael Kiwanuka and “Winter” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, really describe what’s happening inside him.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
My reading tastes are very eclectic, so I don’t stay in one genre. Even though I technically write Science Fiction, my themes and goals are inspired by more mainstream literature. I enjoy classics like Tolkien, Mervyn Peake, Dostoyevsky, Flannery O’Connor and Evelyn Waugh. Two authors that I love, and who write very differently than myself, are Diana Wynne Jones and P.G. Wodehouse.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
My TBR list is getting pretty long, but two books I hope to get to soon are “Star of the Unborn” by Franz Werfel and “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
Very tough to choose, as there are many scenes in this story that are emotionally gripping and moving. But one that is very special to me is where Tomás spends a few minutes saying goodbye to his little daughter, knowing he’ll never see her again.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I do, in fact have a preferred coffee cup (coincidentally, the biggest in the cabinet). But I’d say my quirkiest writing habit is that, at about half-way through creating a novel, I find I have to tape a bunch of graph paper together and make detailed sheets of what’s happening in each chapter, color-coded for characters and emotional beats, etc. Seeing everything charted out like this helps me envision the path towards finishing the work. These documents are similar to plot boards, but can be folded or rolled up, like ancient scrolls bursting with lost wisdom.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
The older I get, the more I value this advice attributed to Carl Jung: “Know all the theories. Master all the techniques. But as you touch a human soul, be just another human soul.”
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
I think the most important theme in “Solitude Of Light” is that love isn’t comfortable or easy. It is actually the hardest thing we are called to do, and if we answer that call, love will take everything we have to give—and then it’s going to demand even more.
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