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December 1, 2011

Writer Wrangler: Red Tash

Time to wrangler another writer and today we are in the company of
a brilliant author
Red Tash


Time for some explanation for the "head trip" that she caused


I noticed a line from Major Tom (Coming Home) by Peter Schilling and it makes me wonder what type of music do you listen to?
I listen to everything! Funny, I thought no one would get the Peter Schilling reference, since it's just a couple of words and not enough to get sued over...but two people have brought it up, which is a testimony to how popular that song is! If you look at the chapter titles closely, you will see they are mostly song titles, or lyrics. And my current work-in-progress, Troll or Derby, is the same way. In fact, since you asked, I've made a couple of playlists that you are more than welcome to share with your readers:

This Brilliant Darkness playlist: http://pl.st/p/22320375307

Troll or Derby Playlist (still growing): http://pl.st/p/22670021387

I'm so glad you asked. :) That's just a sampling of some of the music I like (and one song on the Troll or Derby list that I really hate!).
You've made a bold move injecting your own parody of Star Trek, are you a Trekker?
When I was a kid, I didn't go to church. Our Sunday morning ritual involved coffee (milk for me), doughnuts, the Sunday paper, CBS Sunday morning, and...Star Trek. Old school ST:OS, because that's all that existed in the early 80s, you know? I loved it. I still love it. I also love William Shatner, and if anyone knows self-parody, it is that man. The parody continues into the second book. I guess it's a pretty important sub-plot, huh?

When I first started writing This Brilliant Darkness, it didn't seem a bold thing to do, because I never imagined anyone would read it. I was thrilled to learn that because that storyline *is* so obviously a parody, I wasn't going to have to edit it out. It's a good thing, too, because readers always tell me the Star Trails stuff gives them the most laughs. I still give people the Fullcon sign for Live Well & Tidily, but most of the time, they don't understand, so it's still getting me into trouble.
This Brilliant Darkness has religious and scientific threads in it, is this your way of taking up the age-old debate of God v Science?
Oh, gosh. You know what? The story just sort of evolved that way, and it's definitely already set off some Christians who are more conservative in their views. The book's not meant to make any particular statement about the existence of God, or the power of science, or anything like that. Although I did invest a significant number of hours studying string theory and wormholes and the like before writing this, I also spent a week at the monastery at Gethsemani, in Trappist, KY. As I explained to an early reader, this book exists in a world of its own, with its own immutable reality, and as an impartial third party (which is what I feel like I am, as the author), I just tell the story as I "see" it going down, before my eyes.

In my other life, I am a professional journalist, and I have found its best when I approach storytelling in the fiction realm as if I'm reporting something for the AP wire. Just the facts, ma'am. The fact that these stories come out of my head is still a little weird for me, to be honest. I'm not complaining, though. Just typin'.
Since you mentioned conservative Christians, are you getting a lot of flak from that group? We can't please everybody but some people are more passionate about certain things than the average person and that's when things get ugly. How do you handle a sensitive topic like that? 
I would not say "a lot of flack," although I will say there was one rather involved, very polite conversation with a reader who really wanted this book to be Christian fiction. Christian fiction is a genre just like any other, and although the work within it varies from romance to horror to non-fiction just like the rest of the bookstore, Christian fiction is a subgenre of the publishing community as a whole, and thusly, has its own set of expectations. Just as I would never market This Brilliant Darkness as a romance, I would never market it as a work of Christian fiction, either.

If you will look through the reviews of most any book on Amazon or Goodreads, you will see that there are people who rate the books they read as less than three or four stars not because they don't like the book, but because it's not their type of book. When you dabble in the literary treasure trove that is Christian mythology, there are going to be people who take offense to that. I apologize if that happens--but at least so far, the one person who took issue with it also said she can't wait to read the sequel--so I take that as a VERY good sign! Pair the "wrong genre" problem with the "sacred cow" issue, and it doesn't surprise me that anyone got upset. But being upset and still recommending my book, and waiting for the next, shows me that my writing is making an impact on someone--and that's the biggest compliment any writer can dream of getting.

Christians are individuals and they choose to read whatever piques their interest. I don't market this book to those who gravitate toward the Christian fiction market. I market it to readers of dark fantasy & light horror, as well as paranormal, contemporary fantasy readers. There's cross-over there with sci fi fans, as well--and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Surprisingly, I've had more criticism about the believability of the portrayal of a college professor in the book than I've had about the feasibility of a group of Catholic monks just taking in a strange child and raising him behind monastery walls. In this day and age, I expected to get some skepticism about that, but no one's mentioned it.

The thing about writing fiction based in any kind of alternate reality, is that you get to create that reality. It could be so based on this world that it seems the same world--but if there's any element of the fantastical in it, readers usually will give you license to rewrite their common mythology. That's all I'm doing in This Brilliant Darkness. I opened the door to the story, and this is how it tumbled out. I was just as surprised as the readers have been, to be honest. It is not as if I thought all my life I would grow up to write a book about a shape-shifting monster who's the survivor of child abuse. LOL! What the heck!?
Did the negative reviews on This Brilliant Darkness influenced the sequel?
Well, like I said, the worst I've gotten was only three stars, so is that a negative, really? 11 out of 13 reviews on Amazon have been 5-star & 4-star. Barnes & Noble and Smashwords have been even kinder than that.

But I will say that YES, all comments, questions, complaints, and suggestions are listened to, and in some cases, discussed at length. I appreciate reader feedback. It's really important to me that I'm able to please the reader, as well as surprise him/her. I want to entertain--and if you, as a reader, are stuck on a certain point, I will take that into consideration. There's no crime against updating a book, or "righting" a wrong in the sequel.

PLUS, when someone says "Oh, what about XYZ?" and I intended for that to be a cliff-hanger for book #2, that makes my day! So let the questions flow, people! :)
As a writer or fiction, do you feel the pressure of being politically correct? I understand that you have to be but for you, where do you draw the line between this and your own personal creativity?
This is a very important question, and a good one.

As a journalist, you have to be as unbiased as possible. When I was writing an opinion column, even though it was "all about me," I still tried to be fair, because I knew I was addressing a public audience of varying backgrounds. But I shoot for fairness, regardless, so I suppose "being PC" is not much of a concern, but a side-effect of being me, in my personal life.

As a novelist...no. What you must do as a novelist, in my opinion, is be true to your characters. Are you writing a five year old boy? It's possible that if he's exposed to the wrong people, he may spit out a racial term that his politically incorrect grandmother taught him. That would lead some people to assume that the novelist is a racist, but in this case, I dare say that kind of knee-jerk reacting person is not as literate as he or she should be.

Having said that, I can't think of any instance in This Brilliant Darkness where I was PC or not PC. I just tried to show every character think, talk, and act as they authentically do.
Now, if only I could get *real* people to be more authentic, then I'd rule the world!
So what exactly is Greachin [a picture would be perfect], is he a celestial being out to crush these people? NOTE: It reminds me of that part in revelation between the beast and the woman, is this a loose version of it?
Oh, you are good! I did not set out to make Greachin a representation of anything Biblical, but it's totally possible that on a deeper, more "collective unconscious" level, that could be a part of why the story played out that way. Definitely wasn't intentional.

What I wanted was for the blonde "damsel in distress" to be the hero (not locked into a tower). I wanted the old wise man to have none of the answers, and the handsome leading man to be the opposite of a Fabio heartthrob. I also didn't want the bad guy to be "Lord Voldemort," only capable of evil. I threw in a guardian angel who wasn't, and a holy man who saw visions but wasn't able to tell anyone--not because of his vows, but because of his own deep-seated emotional problems. Rather than having any particular agenda toward religious themes, my original vision really was that of "opposites," and the characters just showed up for the party. I suppose you could say my only rule was "check your stereotypes at the door."

For me, personally, it was like watching a summer storm. Couldn't stop it, couldn't control it, couldn't guide it. I just tried typing as fast as I could, as often as I could, until I felt I'd gotten all the important parts of the story on paper. The story continues, of course (it has to!), but I was so relieved just to get to a stopping point. No time to contemplate making religious statements, believe me.

But you asked about Greachin. Just as Christine identifies as a human being, Greachin identifies as a Zort. (We will get more into what I mean by "identifies" in the next book!) On his home planet, in the life in which he "conquers death" and wills himself into the next plane of enlightenment, he has tentacles and moves by levitation. He looks more like Lovecraft's Cthulhu in that life, so his body image was originally similar to that. (Zorts don't have wings, though. Or limbs.)

Over time, though, Greachin's abilities have sharpened, and his own sense of self has eroded in his isolation and insanity. His ability to cast himself into genetic material, mutating it into any form he desires, is his art. It is a talent that belongs to him, just like some human beings can sculpt. You could compare Greachin to a mad Michelangelo, in that way. His ability to see into the minds of others, reading their brain waves on the frequency of space-time, is something akin to ESP, and within the reach of all beings in this book's reality. Greachin's just the first character we meet who displays this gift.

I probably shouldn't have told you all that, as these answers are going to be part of the narrative for the sequel to This Brilliant Darkness, but I just love talking about Greachin, and once I get started, it's hard to stop.

The original cover for This Brilliant Darkness had an artist's rendering of Greachin in this life's manifestation. Here's a tiny little sneak peek of that: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqsqhs6m6I1r0fw3ho1_100.jpg I don't like showing the big version, because I think it's more true to the story to keep Greachin a shadowy, menacing beast until the reveal in Christine's office. I mean, that's his modus operandi. It would just feel wrong to expose him fully, but if you're truly interested, the original cover is still "out there."

As much as I loved the original cover, the current cover seems to fit the novel better. Eventually I would like to produce This Brilliant Darkness as a graphic novel, and the full-on image of Greachin attacking Christine will hopefully be back, then.
Ok let's talk about Tristan. I can tell that he is a divine soldier but can you tell us more about him?
Other than the fact that he's the hunkiest guy in the book and he's *not* hooking up with the leading lady? LOL. Nope. No more on Tristan until the sequel.

Oh, okay. I will tell you that he loves Christine very much. Tristan doesn't know how to do anything except to love. And he hasn't always been what he is now. Just like everyone in this story, he changes.

And...that's all I'll say about that!



So she's still mum about a lot of things which is understandable. I want to get my hands on book two because I want this Greachin get served seriously!

Many thanks Red for gracing our blog and trusting us to pick your book apart.
 Our interview was very enlightening not only with regards to This Brilliant Darkness but a very good insight on who you are as a writer.

For more on Red Tash please check out
to get updates on this series other stuff that she ponders on.
You can also follow her on Goodreads to see what's on her shelf.

If you want to get a copy of the book you can get one at


She also has a hilarious short story
that you can download for FREE

4 comments:

  1. Awesome interview Red & Talk Supe! My favorite character is Christine. When she had her mental breakdown and was screaming about the flying monkeys, it still has me laughing every time it comes to mind. My second favorite character is the insane Greachin and his love of shitting. LOL I didn't realize that you used song titles or lyrics in the chapter titles. I'm so excited for the sequel to release!

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  2. You got it right. I enjoyed this interview very much i wish it was a one on one instead of the very sterile email. Red is so smart and witty! Thanks Deanna for the link up. <3

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  3. Great interview hon! Thank you for sharing your playlists with us. Really good stuff. I have the book, but haven't cracked it open yet. After the other books I am reading, it is next on the list. It is crazy. Love the picture of Greachin, looks insane and scary LOL! Love how you handle the religion vs. science. Let the story just be a story. Sucks you have gotten some grief about that hon. I can't wait to start this and I am definitely going to get the sequel. Thank you so much you guys :)

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  4. I am so honored to have been given the Writer Wrangle! Even if I still have the scars to prove it! ;)

    Seriously, this was awesome.

    I can't thank you enough. <3

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