I am absolutely ecstatic to a be part of the tour for Danielle K. Roux’s August Prather is Not Dead Yet! I’m sure my followers know by now that any story with a lot of queer characters is a story I can’t resist. I have Danielle here on the blog today to talk a bit about how landscapes have influenced her writing – a topic I find so incredibly fascinating – and, of course, I’ve got info about the book to share as well. There’s also an awesome giveaway to enter. Lots of fun stuff, I know – so let’s get into it!
Katherine Garnet is a writer who has never cared much about much, making it awfully difficult to create new content. Despite the fact she has the “edge” of being trans (according to her cis male editor) she is not looking to capitalize on her own personal story. Garnet tries to sneak a peek at her rival, August Prather’s, latest fantasy manuscript about a quest for the elixir of life. While reading, Garnet gets accidentally dragged into a bizarre cross-country road trip that may or may not have a purpose and begins to see parallels in the story of the manuscript and the reality of their journey. Along the way, they encounter a parade of equally troubled individuals, including ghost-hunting priests, a robot magician, a discarded piece of furniture, a runaway teenager, and a Japanese rock star. As Garnet confronts her past, she begins to understand why someone might want to live forever.
The Guest Post
There is this idea that landscape is tied to memory, that certain places can hold the memories of a person, or a collective group of people. Sometimes if you know the story of the place you are in, you can feel something residual, like a layer of dust on a shelf. I want to capture that feeling in my writing, that sense of history and connection.
My writing is heavily influenced by a house I used to visit when I was a kid. The house was in my family for hundreds of years, and all the people who lived there left random personal objects behind: keys, opera glasses, cigarette cases, pocket watches. I knew almost nothing about these people, I had never met them, but all their cool stuff was still here for me to take out of the drawers and hold in my hand. These leftover pieces of their lives could tell their story if I read them correctly.
I started studying material culture and cultural landscapes because I wanted to be better at using objects and places to tell stories about the past. In my fiction writing I sort of did the opposite, I built characters and then chose places, objects, and spaces to represent them. In APNDY, the places the characters visit are all reflective of who they are and what they have been through. Mitya enjoys solving puzzles and treasure hunting, so he selects places that he can investigate. Lyosha just wants to have fun and so he chooses Las Vegas. August has ties from her past to New Orleans and Savannah. Garnet just wants to stop anywhere that’s beautiful, because she’s not quite sure who she is or what she wants.
In my current WIP, a YA urban fantasy series called This Will Kill That, I got to design an entire city around the characters. A lot of the architecture and the interiors are based on real places – like in APNDY – and slightly fictionalized. The vibe is way more dystopian, so there’s a lot of columns and stark facades. The city in the book, District City, is based on a real place that’s a mish-mash of this formal, monumental style and these cozy Victorian houses with all the ornamentation and embellishment. This place is also in ruin, being reclaimed by nature. It’s a romantic sort of decay, but also realistic. I’ve been in abandoned structures, they don’t last long without people there to maintain them. The city becomes its own character, rather than just mirroring the stories of the individuals living there. The way the city is built influences how the characters move through it, and how they relate to each other.
So now you know, I take my fascination with landscapes and mix in a lot of snarky dialogue, add some magic, make everyone queer and that’s how I write novels.
Danielle K. Roux is a writer, teacher, and historian. Her first novel August Prather is Not Dead Yet is currently available in e-book and paperback through Parliament House Press (and soon will be available in hardcover and audio book). Danielle has always loved reading and telling stories – especially stories with adventure, mystery, humor, romance and at least a little bit of spookiness. Not Dead Yet has all this covered, with a story-within-a-story structure and a quest for immortality in the early twentieth century paired with a present-day road trip. There’s a lot of existential crisis and a male/male romance that is sweet and steamy.
Danielle has been writing fiction since she was nine, after getting tired of reading from the perspective of white, straight male characters in fantasy novels. Her first written story involved a group of middle school girls who find necklaces used by a dead witch that give them supernatural powers. It was written in notebooks in purple and green gel pens that are currently housed in a box in her linen closet. She is inspired by travelling to new places and reading about the stories tied to landscapes. She has at least three novels building in her brain (or wherever novels come from) and wishes she was writing them all right now.
Danielle lives with her wife and two orange cats in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has added a lot of young adult fantasy fiction to her bookshelves recently, and regrets nothing. Her dream library would be accessed through a secret door and look something like the library in the animated Disney Beauty and the Beast, although it would also have a cute barista or sentient coffee machine that once was said barista.
When she isn’t writing or thinking about writing, Danielle is building houses in the Sims, listening to podcasts, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out what kind of tree she is based on her hair color. She has recently been watching lots of old BBC period pieces, and some of them are good. She has begun to drink Diet Coke and is worried this might be a real problem. Coffee and tea are still her primary beverages of choice.