Sunday, July 21, 2019

Interview with Reesha Rugroden, author of Memory Aether


Today the Speculative Fiction Showcase has great pleasure in interviewing Reesha Rugroden, whose first novel, Memory Aether, we featured on July 15.

You are a writer, an Administrator and the mother of two young children. How do you organise your writing schedule? 
I wonder that myself sometimes. I have a few rules I try to follow that help. The first one is that the kids always come first. The second is that there is no time of day during which I can’t move the progress bar of something in my life. I am always making progress on something. For example, before I get in the car to go to work, I assign myself thinking homework. What is the next sentence in my story? What is the next thing that I need to figure out? If I’ve done all the time-consuming thinking work before I sit down to write after the kids have gone to bed, I’m not wasting that precious time sitting there thinking. I can get right to typing. The third rule is that I need to try to write everyday, and if I can’t write everyday, I need to at least look at my writing every day. And if I can’t even do that, then I at least have to think about it every day and ask the question, “What comes next? What will be the first sentence I write when I can find the time?”

You have just published your first book, Memory Aether, which we featured on July 15. What was it like to finish the novel and get it ready for publication? 
I thought I would be ecstatic but instead I felt a little sad. I was able to work on that book for 5 years during which time I gave birth to my two children, and it was such a wonderful adventure that I was sad it was over. I also had to deal with a lot of impostor syndrome immediately after publication. So that was a learning curve I didn’t expect. Something that helped was I had this tea, the last of its kind in existence (that I know of) that I’d been saving for about seven years, to drink when I was published. Shortly after publishing Memory Aether, my close friend, husband, and I all had an inaugural author tea ceremony. It was wonderful.

Tell us something about Memory Aether. On your web-site, you describe it as a cyberpunk fiction novel about loss of memory and family connections. And space pirates. Please tell us more!
Alexia is a memory technologist, and her whole quest is fuelled by her desire to get and keep her people, the ones she calls family, together in the middle of an interplanetary war. She has to erase her boyfriend’s memory of herself (among other things), and she doesn’t really know why, except that it involves a mission he has been assigned to. When he is captured as a prisoner of war, she doesn’t know if that was part of his plan or not. To find out, and to save him, she forms a crew and steals a ship and flies into enemy space to find him.

Why were you particularly interested in the theme of memory loss? It sounds particularly poignant in that your main character has to erase her boyfriend’s memory of her in order to save him. 
I really wanted to explore memory loss in a different way than just having my characters forget things, so I came up with this system where people can choose to have things forgotten. In Alexia’s world, memory modification is only used to treat PTSD, and only in rare cases. But of course, she has access to this technology and it gets abused somewhat. When it’s a choice and somewhat controlled, what does that do to a person? What are the consequences? Can you alter your sense of self through forgetting, or are there things about our identities that go deeper than memory?

In your author bio, you describe your interests as varied and esoteric. Tell us more! 
I’m curious about almost everything, which leads me down some pretty interesting paths. I’m an armchair horologist, video game speed-runner, and I do kickboxing and take an interest in systematic theology and astronomy, oh and Scherenschnitte, to name a few. There’s a plethora more. It’s very hard for me to find people who share my passions, but when I do, it’s almost like finding a soul mate. Fortunately, my biggest interest is super common and wide-spread: reading. I’m always asking everyone I know what they’re currently reading. It’s easier than having to explain what horology is.

What other projects have you got in preparation? 
I’ve started writing book 2 in the Memory Aether series, which I hope will only be 3 books total (I outlined 5...we’ll see what happens). I have an epic fantasy series outlined for 10 books, (Melladore), which I’m really itching to get to. Um, remember that part about always planning in my head even if I can’t physically sit down to write? Sometimes that leads to overplanning. If I manage to publish 3 books a year starting in 2019, I will have finished publishing all the books I have outlines for by the time I’m 86. I gotta get on this!

Will there be a sequel to Memory Aether
Yup! It’s already started and I’m having just as much fun with it as I did with the first one. In book 2 we’ll get to see more points of view and more of what things are like on Bayama, the planet attacking Earth.

Are there any particular RPGs or video games that you enjoy? 
For RPGs, I play a homebrew D&D campaign that I sometimes help write and DM. I love watching Dice Friends with Loading Ready Run when they do a campaign. Currently, my husband and I are making our way through Breath of the Wild a second time, in Master Mode. And my husband just resurrected the old Nintendo ‘64 Podracer game, which was my favorite growing up and I’m so excited to get to play it whenever I want now without my brothers crowding me for the controller.

What do you like to read yourself? 
Everything. All the things. A lot of science fiction and fantasy, but also historical fiction and book club type books, and some non-fiction. Most recently I was completely enthralled by Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire. I’m also currently reading Tao Wong’s System Apocalypse LitRPG series. Ooh, and LJ Cohen’s Derelict gave me that really cozy, excited feeling. Such great writing. There are so many talented writers out there and I love them so much.

On your web-site, you mention an epic fantasy series, Melladore, that you have been working on for over ten years. How do you see that progressing? 
Melladore is my baby. I’ve been working on it slowly, letting it evolve over time, because there are so many details involved. When I first started writing it, I knew pretty quickly I didn’t have the skills to do it justice, so I’ve been adding to the story bible here and there, and I think I’ve written the first book five times now, updating it every couple of years as my skills grow. I’m hoping to work on it right after I finish the Memory Aether series, but we’ll see.

What movies have you enjoyed in the past, and now, and are you watching any TV series? I’m currently re-watching Stargate and Stargate Atlantis, which is a thing I will probably never stop doing because I love that show so much. Otherwise, I’m not really into movies. We do more Twitch streaming than anything else, usually D&D or Minecraft. You can tell we have young children because we keep watching things that either don’t have a plot or you don’t need a lot of attention span to keep up with what’s going on.

Science Fiction and Fantasy seem to be enjoying a huge renaissance. What do you think about this? 
I’m super excited to see this next generation of writers take Sci-Fi and Fantasy to places it hasn’t been before, or that haven’t been explored as much in the past. There’s new ways of writing and publishing that are giving platforms to voices not previously heard, and I think it’s revived reader interest. I know it has for me. It’s great to read the classics and major influencers from the past, but when I hear about a new, self-published writer who has things to say in my time and context? I’m all over that. New voices = new shiny, gimme.

If you could have any writer, living or dead, as a dinner guest, who would you choose? 
I would roll a 4-sided die to decide between Ursula K LeGuin, John Scalzi, Garth Nix, and LJ Cohen. And then I’d cancel at the last minute because I’m an introvert and am frightened of meeting my heroes.

Which writers were your main influences starting out? 
I started writing my first book when I was eight, and at that age it’s hard to not be influenced by everything. And what I had access to was limited. The Seven Sleepers Series by Gilbert Morris was a big influence, but then I also randomly discovered The Aeneid of Virgil and The Odyssey at the library one day, and they blew my mind, and I knew that someday I wanted to write an epic fantasy. The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings were presented to me as things that were a big deal, and I enjoyed them, but I knew instantly I didn’t want to write like them, which is its own influence. Neil Gaiman’s works really made me think about how to create a story that seems like it was always a story. Yoon Ha Lee’s Conservation of Shadows specifically influenced Memory Aether. I discovered Harry Potter and the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage around the same time (I think), and those two were huge turning points in how I wrote, opening my eyes to the flexibility of a soft magic system without losing any of the fascination.


Amazon

About Reesha Rugroden:



Reesha Rugroden is an administrator by day and a writer by night, with a side of technical writing and being a virtual assistant for authors. She never sleeps. She has an extreme case of optimism and suspension of disbelief. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, two children, and a cat. Her interests are varied and esoteric, from RPGs and video games to Origami, Scherenschnitte, and Kickboxing.


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