Interview With Author – Natasha Rhodes

I’ve been running a series of interviews with authors that are releasing new books, particularly dark fiction. I hope you’ll take the time to check out their work. Today, please welcome author, Natasha Rhodes.

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To start, can you tell me a little about yourself.

I’m a British author currently living in California. I’ve written a disturbing number of horror-film novelisations, including the smash-hit movie blockbuster ‘Blade: Trinity,’ ‘Final Destination: The Movie’ 1 and 2, plus several original movie-based tie-in novels such as ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street: Perchance To Dream’ and ‘Final Destination: Dead Reckoning.’

My latest series is the Kayla Steele Vampire Hunter series, the first two books of which ‘Dante’s Girl’ and ‘The Last Angel’ have been published internationally to occasional critical acclaim. The latest book is called ‘Circus Of Sins’ and it came out on May 25th 2010. I currently live in Los Angeles and work at a rock club on Sunset Strip, filming Metal bands and trying to write in between dodging flying bottles, topless stagedivers and excitable club managers. I like coconut Mojitos with an extra cherry if you’re buying.

How long have you been writing and how did you get to this point in your career?

I started writing when I was 12 years old. My mother had an old-fashioned manual typewriter, and I used to type out all my favorite movies word-for-word to make them into a book, which I hoped I could sell for millions of dollars. One summer I typed up my favorite movie ‘Short Circuit 2’ and re-wrote it as a novel. I bound my 100 hand-typed pages together with kiddy-glue and string, drew a cover in colored pencil, and mailed it to the movie company. I got my first rejection letter at age 13. I had a lot to learn about the movie and publishing industry.

When I was 24 I got my ‘big break’ when I heard through an author friend that a new SF publisher called Solaris were looking to take on new writers. As an audition piece, I was told to watch my favorite movie and type up the first chapter as though it was a novel. Oddly enough, I had experience at doing that! I picked my favorite film ‘Blade 2’, sent in my chapter, and never expected to hear from them again.

A month later, I got an email – they wanted to hire me. My first project? Turning the as-yet-unfilmed movie ‘Blade 3’ into a novel, even though it hadn’t been made yet, a process which they called a novelization. I’d been a huge Blade fan since I first read the comic series in my teens, so writing the book was a dream come true for me. I worked from the shooting script (which the director David. S. Goyer kept changing as the film was shot), and my book hit the shelves at the exact same time that the movie came out in cinemas, 6 months later. It was quite an experience to see my name on the front cover next to Wesley Snipes and Jessica Biel!

Your new novel is called Circus of Sins. What’s it about?

‘Circus of Sins’ is Book 3 of an ongoing book series starring supernatural crime-fighter Kayla Steele, whose world is turned upside down when she finds out that her recently-murdered true-love Karrel Dante was none other than a werewolf hunter…. and that she’s next on his killer’s hit list. She’s a super-hero with no super-powers, which I thought was a great twist until I discovered that it’d already been done by Neil Gaimon. If you’re a writer in SF/ Fantasy, by the way, just forget it – everything’s already been done by Neil Gaimon. He steals all my great ideas several years before I even think of them, the meanie.

What inspired or drove you to write this book series?

This series was inspired almost entirely by my move to LA, as a way of capturing on paper the outlandish people and situations I come across almost every day living in the City of Angels. If most major cities can be described as cultural melting pots, LA could be described as a mental melting pot. Everyone who lives here is startlingly, alarmingly, bug-shaggingly crazy… in their own sweet, unique way, of course. The city has a very unique culture – you see things here that you could never see anywhere else in the world. I’ve been here almost 5 years now and the after-dark goings-on in Hollywood never cease to amaze me. I love it here.

I have a keen interest in dark and paranormal fantasy. Tell me how you would classify this book series and what’s dark about it?

I’d say this book series is a Dark Fantasy series, with some sprinklings of romance, black comedy and action-thriller thrown in. The hero gets killed on Page 1 of the first book of the series (‘Dante’s Girl’), and the rest of the series is about his girlfriend Kayla struggling to make herself into the heroine… only she’s not very good at it. After finding out that her dead boyfriend was actually a trained hit man for an underground werewolf-hunting organization called the Hunters, she must piece her life back together, whilst fighting off the advances of her true-love’s best friend, a werewolf named Mutt, and trying to resist a growing attraction to a rogue vampire named Niki, who may or may not be trying to kill her. And all this whilst trying to deal with the fact that she’s been bitten by a werewolf, and is now turning into one herself… the story continues.

The vampire movie ‘Twilight’ is very popular right now. Are there any similarities between Stephanie Meyer’s books and your series?

I put off reading the Twilight books until almost a year ago, just because everyone was reading them and telling me to read them and so of course I ignored them for as long as possible. When I finally caved (I was on a 13-hour flight from London to LA, in my defense, and I needed something to read) I was pleasantly surprised at how readable and addictive they were. I pretty much stayed up the whole night reading the first one in one sitting, then straight away went out and bought the rest of the series.

My novel series is similar to ‘Twilight’ in the fact that the heroine is torn between a werewolf and a vampire lover, but there I think all similarities end. Aside from the romance my books have a strong action-horror element, thanks to my background in writing the ‘Blade,’ ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’ and ‘Final Destination’ books. I think my heroine Kayla is much more proactive than Bella, and doesn’t sit around moping and waiting to be rescued every time something goes wrong. After seeing the Twilight movies I’ve made a definite attempt to make my werewolves and vampires more vicious and unpredictable, as I think the vampires in Twilight are all wimps. My vampires don’t sparkle, you’ll be pleased to know.

Often there are characters in a book that we just love, but what character of yours would you completely despise if you were to meet them in real life? Why?

Probably Niki. He’s a loose cannon, a vampire who our heroine just can’t bring herself to kill, although he deserves it many times over. I based him on Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue (one of my favorite LA bands) and he’s the classic Bad Boy. Women go crazy over men like Nikki Sixx, but as anyone who’s ever dated a real Bad Boy can testify, once the novelty of the unpredictability wears off, you just want to slap them every other minute. In the book he’s a seductive figure, but I’d probably want to knee him in the nuts if I met him in real life.

Sometimes we have to be ruthless in writing/editing. We cut scenes, eliminate characters or even kill them off. Tell me what was the hardest of these in this book.

(SPOLIER ALERT) I’m a huge fan of the bad guys. I always far prefer writing about bad guys than good guys. In ‘Circus Of Sins’, one of my favorite bad guys finally meets his maker, a serial-killing, chain-smoking, poetry quoting werewolf named Harlem. He’s what the Terminator would’ve been like if Frank Miller (of ‘Sin City’ fame) had written the screenplay. He’s always been my favorite character to write and he’s had some really great lines, most of which were cut before publication by my previous editor (usually accompanied by big red notes in the margin along the lines of “NO, NO, NO!!” and “This will get BIG complaints!!” etc). I miss him already.

This blog is called Random Musings, so give me a random quote from the book – something that you’re particularly fond of.

This quote’s not mine, but it’s one of my favorites:

‘Well-behaved women rarely make history.’

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said that. I liked it so much I put it in the front of my book, in the hopes that my readers will like it too.

What can we expect from you next?

This is the third book in the Kayla Steele Werewolf Hunter series. I’m currently halfway through writing Book 4, which (with any luck) should be published in Fall 2011. I’ve also just finished a short horror story for the upcoming Solaris/ Rebellion anthology, ‘End Of The Line,’ a compilation of short horror stories set on subway systems around the world. My story is called ‘Crazy Train’ and is set on a fictional LA metro line, and features a newly-dead rock musician who gets the chance to play one final show… with some very unusual guests. The official release date for the anthology is November 15th 2010 in the US and UK.

Where can we find you on the internet?

My official website is www.natasharhodes.com, or you can write to me on my Myspace page. You can buy my books through my website and on Amazon, here’s the link to my latest book.

Any final comments or thoughts?

Just a huge thank you to David Burton for doing this interview, and thanks to all my friends and fans who bought my last few books and who’ve waited so patiently for the follow-up. If you recognize yourself as a character in ‘Circus Of Sins,’ I just have three things to say:

a) It wasn’t me,
b) I didn’t do it, and
c) You can’t prove anything.

I’m also currently accepting monetary bribes to turn your ex into a character and kill them in an unspeakable way in Book 4. Just putting that out there. I hope you like my book!

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Natasha, thanks for coming by and answering these questions! I certainly hope you can come back for Book 4! I look forward to picking these up!!

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