Monday, August 13, 2012

TLC Book Tour Guest Post: Rachel Neumeier

Today we welcome Rachel Neumeier to A Chick Who Reads. Rachel is the author of House of Shadows. (Check the site later today for a review)
Thanks for having me on A Chick Who Reads!  It’s a pleasure to be here.
I realized long ago that what matters most to me as a reader is character and setting – that if the plot has a few minor bobbles or is a trifle predictable, I don’t much care about that, if the setting is beautiful and the characters are sympathetic and feel real enough to step right off the page.  It took me a surprisingly long time to realize that, for me, the characters must be sympathetic as well as feeling “real”; that for me, an antihero, no matter how well-drawn and believable, is never going to make for a pleasant reading experience.

One of the first general comments my agent made about my books, long ago, was how nice my characters are and how much she appreciates that.  Of course she reads a lot of manuscripts, and antiheros are so big right now, for example in epic fantasy, that she may find nicer characters a little sparse on the ground.

Of course, “nice” doesn’t have to mean saccharine or one-dimensional.  In HOUSE OF SHADOWS, Karah is the most beautiful of the sisters – but when people say she’s beautiful, they’re actually being drawn to her sweetness more than her beauty.  She stops hardened professionals in their tracks with her sweetness and innocence.  But Karah is not a protagonist – she’s a foil around whom the three true protagonists intersect.

Nemienne, Karah’s younger sister, is earnest, distracted by the things she can see that other people don’t seem to, and eager to learn magic. She is understandably truly distressed by her growing doubts about her teacher and what she gradually learns of his plans.

Leilis, Karah’s cool, somber sponsor in Cloisonné House, is perhaps kinder than she first appears.   Suffering for years under a curse, Leilis has had to learn to protect herself against human touch.  But Karah, needing protection, gives Leilis a focus other than her own shattered dreams.

And Taudde?  Taudde is my personal favorite – though not everyone agrees with me!  (One of the pleasures of being a writer is finding out that every character you’ve written is somebody’s favorite.)  A foreign practitioner of forbidden sorcery, Taudde is not even supposed to be in the city at all.  He has his own agenda, but after he allows himself to become embroiled in a plot whose ramifications he doesn’t understand, he finds himself dismayed as a blow he’d aimed elsewhere turns out to threaten Karah instead.  And thus all three protagonists are at last driven together in order to stop a threat common to them all . . .

Of course, I certainly strive to ensure that my plots don’t bobble and aren’t too predictable!  But what I love most to hear from readers is that my worlds are beautiful and that they loved my characters.  I hope you do, too.
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