Wednesday 30 October 2019

Interview with Clare Rhoden - Author of The Chronicles of the Pale

Today's interview is with Clare Rhoden. Clare is a Melbourne writer inspired by culture, politics and the march of history. Her writing is noted for great world-building and fabulous characters - some to love, and some you'll love to hate.

Her book series - The Chronicles of the Pale - comprises three books: #1 The Pale, #2 Broad Plain Darkening, #3 The Ruined Land.

Genre:  Dystopian Sci-Fi
Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world, the humachines of the Pale compete with the  Outsiders for scarce resources. What happens when a human boy is found at the gates of the city?
Publish date: #1 2017, #2 2018, #3 31/8/1029
Publisher: Odyssey Books (

Thanks for stopping by, Clare.

What made you choose this genre? 
*confused* LOL. You're kidding, right? The genre chose me. This series all began with a dream, and nobody should ever argue with their subconscious. The Chronicles of the Pale are futuristic dystopia but sadly not that futuristic.

What’s the story behind your book title?
The first book in the series is called The Pale. I chose it from the saying 'beyond the pale' which means something totally outrageous and unacceptable. Apparently it comes from the time when the English first invaded Ireland and built a 'pale' or protected tract of land around the old Viking city of Dublin. Everyone outside that area was a wild barbarian native and 'beyond the pale'. Inside my city called the Pale, augmented people called humachines despise every other surviving group on the Outside - they consider themselves the highest level of life existing now that the great Conflagration has destroyed all the previous cities and infrastructure.

Which scene from your book do you like best and why?
There's a scene in The Pale, after another earthquake, when the canini (genetically modified wolf-dogs who have opposable thumbs and language) have to choose how to go forward, because it's clear that not all of them will be able to survive on the ruined land. Their bravery and self-sacrifice was extremely difficult but ultimately uplifting to write.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Seriously, yes - for many reasons. I write in different genres such as historical fiction and academia as well as speculative, so maybe it would help readers if I chose a different name for each style...Then there's the freedom of anonymity, so that your friends and family don't know it's you writing. And there are notions such as: different author names suit different genres, a manuscript written under a masculine name is more likely to be read, initials are cool, having a surname near the top of the alphabet is better for shelving, BLAH BLAH.
But essentially, I want to be me, and to celebrate all the weird bits of my writing as a single person. I want to own my writing and my take on the world so I use my own name.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Two ways:
Editors! OMG. Who knew? I've written for academic journals and completed a PhD, meeting some pretty snarky editors along the way, but the process of having your fiction edited is very different. It's much more collaborative. After an initial shock period, I now love working with my fiction editor. I learned SO MUCH from my first book. I'm definitely a better writer since my first book came out.
Secondly, getting the first book published was such a thrill, and an emotional boost: I can actually do this, I thought. Great for my confidence as a writer of fiction.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault. It's a brilliantly imagined historical fiction of ancient Greece with great characters and flawless writing.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
One of my canini, of course! But as they haven't been developed yet (luckily/unluckily for us the apocalypse is yet to come), I'll have a wolf, thank you very much.

How do you select the names of your characters?
They tell me. Haha! Well, sometimes! I like names that resonate on a few levels, so I will consult name meanings as well as how the names sound. I studied linguistics and I'm fascinated with word origins and the way syllables are constructed. For all the separate groups in the Chronicles of the Pale, I tried to choose a set of connected names - all Maori names for the Shaking Landers for example. And sometimes I just make names up from suitable syllables - like Mashtuk the canini scout - because it seems right.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
How did you know? Of course! Plus occasionally there's a tiny thing that's there just for me.

What's next for you in writing?
I'm off for a change of direction. I have a cozy mystery bubbling away which features a large deerhound-poodle cross called Violet, and I am tightening up a YA fantasy, hopefully to be published in 2021, with cats. Magic cats. So, nothing weird to see here. :-)

Thanks for that, Clare. Now, I have a quick quiz for you. Ready, set, go!

Favourite food: Macaroni cheese
Favourite drink: Gin & Tonic
Silliest saying: 'More better'
Best holiday spot: West coast of Ireland
Favourite song at the moment: 'All the Leaves are Brown' by mamas and papas
With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser?: I start by pantsing and then make a plan Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: How can you be so cruel? All right, LOTR, if you insist on choice.
Best superpower: Reading
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Walk the High Country trail in Australia's Snowy Mountains

Thanks again for stopping by, Clare. How can people reach you or check your books?


Be sure to check out Clare's Launch Party on 6th November at Readings Carlton. Check out her blog or Facebook for more details.

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