Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Author Interview - Rachel Aaron

Hello and welcome to our latest author interview with fantasy and sci-fi author Rachel Aaron!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing.

I'm Rachel Aaron, and I'm the author of over twenty novels both self published and trad. I've been doing this full time since 2008, which seems crazy now that I type it. My books are fun, dramatic, full of magic, and always have a happy ending, even if I put the characters through a few books of hell to get there. 

Who would you say your biggest literary influences are?

I was hugely influenced by 90s fantasy I read growing up. I devoured big epics like The Wheel of Time, but also more intimate works by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Elizabeth Moon. I also really loved anything by Ursula Le Guin or Peter S. Beagle. The Last Unicorn was my favorite novel growing up. In terms of my actual writing voice, though, I think my single biggest influence was probably The Enchanted Forest series by Patricia Wrede. Other than an obvious preference for dragons, my books are very different from hers, but there's something about her fun, easy voice that clicked hard inside me as a kid and still shows up in my writing to this day.

How has the history of the middle ages impacted/influenced your work?

I've always loved learning about history. I was one of those kids who loved getting lost in museums, and I specialized in Renaissance literature in college. The thing I find most powerful about history is that the people then are exactly the same people we have today. They're just as smart, just as inventive, just as dedicated to their causes. The only difference is environment: the world in which they live. Look at it that way and it's easy to see why history and Fantasy go so well together. They're both humans in a different world. The middle ages in particular are exciting because they're far enough back to seem magical from a modern perspective but close enough to still feel familiar. They're the best of all worlds!

Do you feel like your writing has been impacted/influenced by Tolkien? If so, in what way(s)?

I don't think there's a genre writer alive who can honestly say their work wasn't impacted by Tolkien. He's the water we swim in. The ideas he made popular--secondary worlds, ancient magic, dark lords, ferocious dragons, underground cities, fellowships of heroes--are so baked into our shared language of tropes and references, a fantasy novel without Tolkien probably wouldn't even be labeled Fantasy.

So in that very broad way, Tolkien was a huge influence on me. Specifically, however, I was never a Middle Earth fangirl. I read the books and enjoyed them well enough, but I was much more influenced by the stories that came after his...which were themselves influenced by Tolkien. He really is the foundation.

What do you think the current innovations in your genre(s) are?

I've written all over SFF, from hardcore SciFi with my Paradox series as Rachel Bach to classic Fantasy with my Eli Monpress books, Urban Fantasy with my DFZ novels, and now historical Fantasy set in the Old West with The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow. Over the years, I've seen a lot of fads in all the genres, but the movement I'm most excited about is the expansion of Fantasy and SciFi to include a wider range of voices, experiences, and stories. Just look at the popularity of stories like Gideon the Ninth and pretty much anything by NK Jemisin and you'll see we're in a different world than the mostly white, mostly male-dominated Fantasy marketplace most of us grew up with, which is a very very good thing. Fantasy has and will always be my absolute favorite thing to read, watch, and play games about. I want it to grow and spread as much as possible so I have more amazing stories to read!

What is something in your genre(s) you'd like to see more of?

Happiness. I know Game of Thrones made a lot of money, but so many of the new books I try just seem so...grim.
It's very frustrating for me as a reader because when I pick up a book, I want to go on an adventure and learn some magic, not be crushed by the grinding unfairness of the world. Fantasy is all about the power of the individual to change the world! It's the one place where good really can triumph, so let's have some happier books!

What is something in your genre(s) you'd like to see less of?

Isekai/trapped in another world stories. This genre is freaking everywhere right now, and while I'm guilty of this too since I wrote my own trapped in the game series (Forever Fantasy Online), that was like 4 years ago. I love Isekai a lot, but I feel we've really hit the bottom of this trend. At the very least, I'd love to see some isekai stories that come at the tropes from a new angle. Then again, it keeps selling, so what do I know?

Is there anything else related I didn't ask a question about that you'd like to add?

Not really, this has been a wonderful series of questions!

Where online can our readers find you and your work? has a full breakdown of everything I've ever written along with my contact form, mailing list, and all my social media links. If you're looking for anything Rachel, that's place to look. 

Thanks so much for having me!

Rachel, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your thoughts and experiences on Post-Tolkien and Post-Middle Ages influence!

No comments:

Post a Comment