Friday, November 21, 2014

Hangin' with interstellar travel agent (actually writer) Rosalie Skinner

I'm stoked to host writer Rosalie Skinner today. She's Australian. Yeah, yeah, yeah, she's a terrific author, but did I mention she's Australian? Mega bonus points. Let's get started...

*Rosalie, I really enjoy your prose. It’s evocative, descriptive, sometimes old-fashioned and at times quite lyrical. Did you adopt this style to fit fantasy writing in general? Is it your usual style? Would you change it if you wrote a contemporary thriller or other genre?

Stuart, first off, thanks for having me as a guest. You were correct when you said your questions would take some answering. I will endeavor to answer truthfully and where I can’t I hope my attempts at least sound believable.

My voice I guess is fairly old fashioned when I write fantasy. The location of the chronicles is on a planet where modern language would seem out of place. If, or should I say, when, I write in another genre, I am pretty sure my ‘voice’ and the language used would reflect the change. Or, perhaps I am just old fashioned and love to use archaic words. 

*I believe you said that Adrift: In Search of Memory is a stand-alone book in your Chronicles of Caleath series. To be honest, I was just as confused as the protagonist during some of the information drop scenes. But I’m dumb. That’s the bad news. The good news is it’s intrigued me to read from the beginning. I’m curious if the other books would enhance the enjoyment of Adrift.

I hoped ADRIFT: In Search of Memory would stand alone. Caleath/Tag spends much of the time confused, so perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. You and he can both complain to the author.

*Clearly, you know your way around the world of sailing. I felt like I was out on the seas of turmoil with Tag Seawell. Did you toss on an eye patch, tour the world on a fishing boat, and growl, “arggh” a lot? Or is this the result of extensive research?

Arrgh. Ya’old landlubber, was’t the eye-patch what gib’it away? I drew a line at the eye-patch, but have sailed under a jolly roger. Thankfully we weren’t shot out of the water. Plenty of research, wonderful hours spent on sail boats, whale watching vessels and fishing boats. Every trip out of the harbor helped. Having access to, and a tour guide’s notes, while exploring the Bark Endeavour and climbing over Notorious a visiting pirate ship also helped gain an insight into what it would be like traveling aboard a tall ship.

In Australia we are lucky to have a scheme available where young people can learn about sailing aboard a tall ship. So, we sent each of my three kids for a ten day trip on the tall ship, the Young Endeavour. When they returned I used their experiences to add to my own. My son is a skipper of a dive boat and swims with sharks most days. He proof reads my sea faring stories. It sure helps having an expert available.

*I imagine it was tempting to keep your kids afloat. I kid, I kid. 

Memory plays such a huge theme in the book, almost a character in itself. As a newcomer to the series, I feel somewhat like Tag/Caleath in that I’m discovering identity, characters, worlds along with the protagonist. Intentional?

Yes, of course it is. Phew, that was an easy one.

*”Balls of a hairy goat!” I think this is my fave catch-phrase, well, maybe ever. Where can we get t-shirts?

Let me know your size and preference for long or short sleeve! I can do anything through Vistaprint. LOL.

*I read that your daughter inspired Caleath’s triumphs and struggles. In what way?

I will explain as part of a later question… if that is allowed.

*Your books are billed as fantasy/science-fiction epics. The first part of Adrift is firmly anchored in the fantasy genre with dragons, death as a character, sorcerers, quests, and other such tropes. Then suddenly sci-fi elements are introduced just as Caleath begins to remember parts of his past. Coincidence? A commentary on progress?

At this stage I think I must confess to coincidence. Now you mention it, though, I like the idea of the juxtaposition as a commentary on progress.

*Let’s talk about the character of Caleath, your protagonist in the epic series. Some of the other characters describe him as “arrogant.” At times, I’d agree. He’s also quite tempestuous. Yet he strives to take the moral high ground. I get the impression he hasn’t always been this way. Is the series a tale of redemption? How do you see Caleath?

Caleath is looking for redemption. He’s been through a lot before he reaches ADRIFT and rediscovers himself. By this time in his journey, he has grown from seeking revenge and relying on hate and rage to sustain him. He has almost completed his quest. He still has a few lessons to learn, challenges to overcome but he can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

*Again about Caleath. At the start of the tale, he’s committed to his goatherd lady love. As the adventure continues, he’s definitely tempted by several other women (also hinting at past dalliances with men). He’s ready to ditch his pregnant girlfriend at the end of the book until he sees her, remembers how beautiful she is, then changes his mind. Dude’s a “player!”

Is this a question? (Stuart: No, but it gives me more of a chance to blab.) Caleath has been in a few relationships during the previous books. Regaining his memory jolts recollections of those women and the relationships, not always successful, he shared with them. No wonder he’s confused when Tag is committed to the goatherd. Tag is committed to Naomi and protecting his unborn child. Now he finds himself thrown into the company of the feisty and attractive witch, Melody, during his struggle to remember who he is/was. All his confusion clears when he sees Naomi and Tag/Caleath remembers her faith, strength and vulnerability.

*The book’s packed full of action, Caleath running from one skirmish to the next, not to mention remembering his past adventures on different planets, different lives, even different clones. Yet there’s also time for introspection, even philosophy. Are all the books this lively?

I would like to think so, though I feel as I worked through the series each book improves on the last. They all have lots of action, adversaries, challenges, relationships and a little introspection.

*Okay, poor Caleath takes a beating (Thank God he has a special healing ability). He’s captured, beaten, stabbed, arrowed, burned by dragons on several occasions, runs around the countryside with bleeding feet…that’s just the start. Um, do you have it in for this guy, Rosalie? Perhaps a closet literary sadist?

In a previous question you asked how my daughter inspired the Chronicles. It seems pertinent to answer here. The chronicles loosely follow the journey/battle my daughter faces living with three chronic, painful, incurable but not terminal illnesses.

From the time she was first ill, at age fifteen, she has experienced a lot of pain, loss and dismay and yet her courage, strength and determination continue to inspire those around her. Often people don’t even realize she is unwell. Her smile hides the pain, the despair. Each day is a battle. Pain is constant. Only the depth varies. She was told she had had appendicitis but she didn’t even see a doctor because she was so used to the level of pain she just thought it was another day in her life.

So Caleath’s journey was written while I cared for my daughter. I watched her struggle as her future crumbled. Relationships fell apart, friends stopped dropping by, jobs failed and yet she refused to give up trying every avenue to manage her life. She now has a supportive partner and two children who make life worth living when the pain becomes too much.

Caleath, sadly, gets to face a lot of pain and disappointment during his journey. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. Ooops… no spoilers.

*Bravo to your daughter, Rosalie!

Like an annoying child, I’m gonna’ hit you up with a question no parent ever wants to answer. Which book in The Chronicles of Caleath is your favorite? (And you CAN’T answer “I love them all the same.”).

Good question and no, I do have favorites. Although I enjoyed writing each book, as the story develops I think I enjoy the journey more. What am I trying to say? For me, ADRIFT: In Search of Memory and ADRIFT: The Fragile Sun (since in my mind they are one continuing story) were the most fun to write and most rewarding to revisit. I guess it’s the pirate life and sea faring adventures that draw me. Arrgh, the eye-patch is back.

*Alright, Rosalie's taken to the seas again. In the meantime, you can find out more about her adventures at Rosalie Skinner's Amazon page


  1. Totally enjoyed this interview, Stuart. I like your style. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Rosalie during the editing process for one of my books. She is a super lady and I have the first book in her Chronicles of Caleath on my TBR list. Am looking forward to escaping into it during the Christmas holidays.

    1. Hey there, Susan, thanks for the kind words. Rosalie is, indeed, pretty awesome. I jumped into a later book in her Caleath series and am looking forward to backtracking.

  2. Love the cover! I admire anyone who can write about ships.

    1. Suzanne, if I'm not mistaken, Rosalie uses her own photographer for her covers. But, then again, I've been wrong a couple times before.

  3. Hi Susan, Thanks for dropping in. :) It's hard to believe Christmas is almost upon us again.

  4. Hi Suzanne,
    Stuart is right, I did use my own photographer and model. It was an amazing experience, seeing my character come to life.
    Writing about ships is second only to being able to sail on them. :) Thanks for dropping in. Stuart has a great blog here and asks great questions.

  5. What a wonderful interview. You asked great questions Stuart and Rosalie handled them with her usual ease. I love this series. I have also read Adrift: The Fragile Sun. This is a wonderful conclusion to the series. I wish it could be released soon so that everyone could enjoy it as much as I did. I have all the ebooks and can't wait until all 8 are in print so I can buy them and proudly display them as a set on my book shelves. Rosalie is a master world builder and uses such fabulous phrases. She is a writer's writer as well as being thoroughly entertaining for the reader.

    1. Hey, Wendy, nice to meet you. Yes, milady Rosalie is a fantastic writer. Everyone should read her books. She makes writing seem so easy.

    2. Hi Wendy, Thank you for your support. Stuart did ask great questions. I has been terrific being his guest and also hosting him.
      I think February will be when the final book is released. All being equal. Print... as far as that, I don't know.
      Thanks for dropping in.

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