Thursday, January 2, 2014

Featured Author: Rathan Krueger

Lie is a surreal dramedy by Rathan Krueger, and he's here today to tell us about it and give us a taste of it with an excerpt.

About the book:

Four women who go on vacation to help one of their own through a life-changing decision. It's also an attempt at having the social-consciousness of the 1970s, without the heavy-handedness of the 1990s. It's also a revenge against generic female characters in modern fiction, something I'm very proud of my characters for not being.

Here are the stars of the show:

Quinevere Ainsworth is the one with the problem. Under normal circumstances, she's quiet but with the right accident, this white-haired comic book geek can be quite the companion.

Fantine Karoly is quiet under pretty much all circumstances. In her defense, she's a rather shy teen. She'd much prefer to watch films or let her mind drift to faerie folk. Her aunt, however, wants her out of her shell and feels that this getaway will do her a world of great.

Veronique Karoly is a middle-aged woman with no regrets. Save for how her niece acts sometimes. She's done it all in life, and sometimes twice. The only thing she loves more than Fantine is being a woman.

Idette Rudelle has known Quinevere for most of her almost-30 years being alive. Although she's younger, she's the protector of the two. A bit like those tiny dogs that are cuddly with the ones they like, and insanely... chompy around everyone else. Except she's obviously not a dog and I've never seen a ginger pooch.

Interview with Rathan Krueger

What’s the story behind the title of your book?

It probably has a more esoteric story than most titles. I wanted to come up with something that looked unassuming and would "comfort" the reader when they get to the point where the novel becomes something that completely betrays what preceded it. "Hey, the author lied! Oh. Well, he did warn me. Jerk." There's even a hint in the design of the title, although a detail wasn't updated as I wrote because I made it before I started writing. All of this probably sounds very confusing, but ask me again after you've read it and I'll be able to give a much clearer answer. Promise.

How did you create the plot for this book?

Well... I wouldn't call what's inside Lie a plot, and I mean that in the most pleasant way. I've been inspired by films that don't have an A-B-C plot structure. Instead, they begin and things happen and they end. A lot like life. Lie starts, some things happen, Lie stops. But the story came from me wanting to throw a few female characters in a house and watch them interact with each other. And I wanted the female characters to be like the women I've known throughout my life and not the wallpaper that people are sadly used to in modern fiction. I also wanted to combine two genres in a way that no one's used to.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

"All shall love me and despair." --J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

How do you get to know your characters?

From Lie and backward, I found out about them as I wrote, but I constantly edited as I wrote so they'd seem like the same character at both ends of the story. With my current novel and onward, I create a few details about a character and fill out a personality survey as that character. You find out A LOT about the character, and it's fun. But you shouldn't feel beholden to the survey. It's just a way to figure the character out. There are some things in the survey for the second of two main characters in my current novel that were fun to write, but wouldn't translate to how she is in the novel.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Neither, but there were bits that were more enjoyable than others. Whenever Idette picked on Fantine. And whenever Veronique got a chance to show her pride in a particular part of her past. All of the writing was fun, but those bits stand out.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. She decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

Since Idette has red hair and I have a case of ginger ail, she wouldn't have to do much. Smiling at me while pushing me down some stairs would do it.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

There are two. One is when Quinevere and Fantine are pretending to be wrestlers. Or rather, Quinevere is pretending to be a wrestler and is trying to get Fantine to play along. The other is more of a moment than a scene. Something happens in the last few pages of the second-third of Lie that makes Idette figuratively and literally see her best friend Quinevere in a new light. Idette's look at Quinevere is something I can imagine SO vividly... I'm gonna rip myself off in a film someday and copy that moment because I wanna see it onscreen SO badly.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

I have a crippling Doctor Who addiction (in the Summer of '12, I watched every episode since 1963 as I made my first film [which ended up being my first short film due to schedule, location, and camera conflicts and NOT me watching all of Doctor Who) so my knee-jerk answer would be the Doctor. I would've said Batman, but I wouldn't have the entire day to be Batman unless it was a polar night. And I wouldn't wanna be Batman in Alaska. So yeah, I'd be the Doctor. That begs the question "Which Doctor?"... but there's not enough room here to give a proper answer.

What would your dream office look like?

Like a room in Orthanc, with Steampunk bits.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I wrote a script a few years ago that I took to agents. I eventually got one, but it was taking a long time to find someone to be interested in it. I didn't wanna go through that process with Lie because I really wanted it out in the world as soon as possible. Plus, Lie is too original for a publisher to take a chance on it. I'd rather put the footwork into selling copies than hope for a publisher to take a chance on it.

What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!

Charleston Chew. And Heath.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I'm a simple kind of man, so I'm either watching films, reading about films, or listening to music. I should be making music and drawing. Next year.

What are you working on now?

I'm writing my second novel. It's an attack on nostalgia, and I'll be looking to get it traditionally published because of that. Lie is something that can take its time finding an audience. It's not a novel you wanna push onto someone. You want them to glance at it or hear about it from a friend, then take a chance on it. With my second novel, it needs to be the Sentinels invading Zion. The culture of nostalgia in this country has gotten out of control and someone needs to say something about it. Someone's going to say something about it, it's an eventuality at this point. I'd rather that person be me, so I'm writing.

Excerpt from Lie

“Are you ready?”

A woman is chatting away on her rotary dial. Her voice is airy and she looks something like a Samantha Morton. Perpetually wearing red eyeshadow.

“’Almost’ isn’t quite the answer I was looking for, Idette. How much longer do you need?”
Veronique Karoly walks around the living room of her vintage-tinged townhouse as Idette mentions something about an hour or so. She runs her fingers through her salt-&-pepper pixie raven hair, heavy on the pepper.

“That gives me enough time to pick up my niece, then.” She rubs the ivory locket dangling from a silver necklace. She bought it shortly after her niece was born and hasn’t taken it off since. “Yes, she’s coming, too.”

She slides on black flats and smooths her black kapris.

“Oh, don’t be like that. She’s of age. A little sheltered, but you’re used to those types. Speaking of, have you heard from your mate yet? It’s her cottage we’re going to.” She takes a drag of her rolled cigarette. The black rotary phone has scorched memories of her occasionally clumsy grip of those slender things.

“It would be a little difficult getting in without… What’s her name?”

The disembodied, slightly treble voice mumbles a name.

Veronique walks to her CD rack— “Shit.” —almost tripping over the phone’s cord.

The voice muffles something caring and that she has to go for some last-minute tricks.
“You’ll be at your flat in an hour, then?”

She scans her collection… “Splendid.” ...and picks up Gipsy Kings’ “Allegria”.

“I will give a honk.” Hanging up the phone and putting it on a nearby table, Veronique looks for her favorite coat. No such luck, not in this vintage-tinged mess. She looks around the room and accidentally ashes on her zebra-striped halter top. “Shit.”

Wiping herself off with the CD case, she puts the cigarette out in the almost-finished cup of coffee near the phone. Next, she runs to the closet and grabs the first thing that falls down.

A long, gray knit cardigan is Newton’s slave. She sniffs it before putting it on.
She then wraps herself in an absurdly long and striped scarf, checking herself out in a wall-length mirror.

Finally, she grabs a small suitcase as she goes to the front door. Giving the place a quick once-over, she leaves into an overcast, Autumn morning in the sleepy English village of Edithshire.

Veronique walks to her well-kept black 1963 Austin Mini Cooper S. Someone down the street greets her as she dumps the suitcase in the back. She’s not sure who they are, but better to be confused than rude, and waves as she gets into her car then takes off to St. ColĂ©re’s.

Waiting in the lobby of the relatively modern hospital, amid medical smells and everyone’s favorite muzak cover of “Smooth Operator”, Fantine Karoly sits with a book.

“What’re you reading there?”

The skittish reader jumps and her copy of R.L. Stine’s “Switched” hits the linoleum. “OH! Oh… Aunt...Aunt Vernie. I was reading—”

The older female picks up the paperback and checks its title. “I see, I see.” They kiss each other’s cheek. “How is it?”

Fantine’s eyes are the Karoly blue, the rest of her resembles a Jodelle Ferland. With a short and shaggy bob of black.

And a generally sexless, coal wardrobe.

“It’s good. One of the characters is… is at a… wall. Yeah.”

The youthful Karoly eyes rarely look anywhere except down. Throughout this tale, she will cry twelve times.

Smiling, Veronique gently lifts her niece’s chin and says, “Let me see those eyes as you say that again and we’ll get ice cream.” Fantine manages to look up and say with her soft voice, “It’s good. One of the characters is at a wall.” Veronique kisses her niece’s tiny-butterfly-clipped hair, then grabs her duffel bag. “How’s my Marietta?”

“Mum’s ok. They’re taking her appendix out in a few hours.” The two Karolys make their way to the car.

“Can… can we have vanilla?”

A Mini Cooper S with flamenco guitar strums the entire street can here pulls up to a corner store. A head sticks out of the window of the apartment above Rumpled Bags. The car’s horn eventually stops blaring, but the flamenco carries on.

A few minutes later, a 20-something woman walks out of the store with a well-loved knapsack over her shoulder. The wind picks up slightly and Idette Rudelle pushes her red, Grecian mess away from her Olivia Thirlby face. In a black sweater vest over a white button-up, with a black tie decorated with white lace and bows flopped over the vest, with black slacks and boots.

She takes a quick photo of the car with a disposable camera. She then clicks to the trunk and tosses her sack inside.

As she moves to the passenger door, she sees a girl of age finishing her two-scoop. “Cheers, you must be famished,” Idette says in a puckish voice. She offers her black-on-red French-tipped hand as she corrects herself, “I mean, Fantine.”

“And she called ‘shotgun’, didn’t you?” Fantine worriedly looks up. “Wh… what?”

“Your niece is gonna be fun. Move the seat up, madam.” The younger Karoly fumbles with the chair until it jerks forward. The elder Karoly stops Idette just as sole touches rug, “Could you throw away her cup?”

“She’s almost—” Idette grunts as she takes the cup away.

Veronique asks, “Which way is Quinevere’s?” The backseat driver’s eyes grow wide. “Oh, she’s not back yet.”


“Don’t worry, don’t worry. Roll a fag or something. She’s coming back from, blargh, Melissa’s and—” She almost hits the ceiling as she rushes for her phone and calls Quinevere. “You’re not driving. We’re picking you up.” A confused voice asks, “We?”
“Don’t worry, it’s that Veronique lady I told you about. The one I met at one of me dance classes. She’s surprising us with her niece but she seems mellow. You two will have a lot to stare about.”

Fantine fidgets as the voice over the phone says something. “She’s legal, relax. You said that we were going to Dragonspire to get away, right? Getaways are more fun with a party." The voice is about to say something but the ginger cuts her off.

From the author:

I'm an all-around artist who's taking his first step into the world with being a novelist. I love films and they're my biggest inspiration when it comes to writing. Not so much about referencing films, although there's some of that in Lie. Someone once told me that my writing style is like reading a film, which made me all sorts of proud.

I try to create stories that are real with bouts of surrealism. I'll get better with age, and I hope you stick around to watch me gray.

Connect with Rathan:
Blog | Goodreads | Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble