Today I’m fortunate to present Rob Davies, author of The Seventh Life of Aline Lloyd.
Hi Rob, thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?
I live in Washington state now, but I was born and raised in a small town called Niles, southwestern lower Michigan
Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?
An argument could be made in lots of areas, but for me the essential element is an engaging and believable character or characters. Storylines will likely follow a more or less predictable path according to genre, but a compelling character the reader connects with (and will invest emotional capital willingly) is often the mechanism that keeps a reader turning the pages.
Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?
I waited a long time before taking the plunge, but to be honest, it was curiosity. I wanted to find out if I was “publishable” and capable of writing stories anyone would enjoy reading. My mother was a librarian and always encouraged my scribblings in childhood, so credit to her for igniting the fire.
Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
On the fly and rarely according to a comprehensible schedule. I still work a day job, so writing is limited to evenings and weekends. The creative force often runs in peaks and valleys, which limits production as well. I hear others insist that writing even a few lines every day is important. Not to me. I write when I have something worthy of writing. I edit differently than I write, which is much more disciplined in terms of time management. Dreaming up stories is a scattered, ‘ride the wave while you can’ proposition in my experience.
Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can write with music in the background, but it has to be instrumental or orchestral only – no vocals. I prefer looped music, or extended versions (video game ambient music is great for this purpose). Also, I can’t seem to type “this” on the first try – it always starts out as “shit” and has to be backspaced and typed again. I don’t suffer dyslexia, so no idea where that eye-to-hand problem came from.
Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.
The Seventh Life of Aline Lloyd (paranormal romance)
Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
How much I thought I knew about history that, as it turned out, I didn’t. Research hours to writing hours is always a disproportionate ratio slanted toward research, and I considered myself quite versed in the historical elements I needed to tell the story. I was wrong, and that was both surprising and humbling.
Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?
My new neighbor’s interest was obvious, but not as clear was her goal. Vienne said it was terrible of me to say but I felt uneasy at the prospect of a mental patient lurking on the edges of my property. In simple terms, I wondered what the hell she wanted. “Treat her like any other,” Jeremy had cautioned, but that’s not so easily accomplished if she isn’tlike any other.
It seemed useless to worry about it, and I resumed my slow property walks, establishing from Jeremy’s map the neighboring property line I was determined not to violate. Damon’s investment was a rough, dogleg parcel matching the contours of our road on the western side and those of the hill separating it from Aline Lloyd’s farm to the east. It was getting late in the day, but splendid sunbreaks made for a nice stroll through the trees when I decided to aim downhill toward the southeastern corner and the limits of my modest domain.
The ground levels for a while with space between the groves where sunlight splashed across gathered leaves and twigs. I moved through them, dry and rustling with each plow of my boot, uncaring for the noise that echoed beyond. I remember being charmed at the notion of becoming a gentleman farmer until I saw in tangible terms what the process would demand. Taking out the underbrush alone would consume a summer, I reckoned, and that meant time I didn’t want to spend. It wasn’t long before my fanciful idea died out under the weight of cold reality, and standing on a decent-sized plot of land that was suddenly mine brought a strange calming effect I couldn’t help but notice. I bathed in it for a while until the daydream changed abruptly when I could hear the thump of my own heartbeat.
There was no reason or cause; I was at peace, alone and content in that solitude. I didn’t know why—not back then—but I turned left slowly and looked at a precise spot halfway up the hillside. Of course, she was there, motionless and watching me through the trees. She hadn’t made a sound and my line of sight was focused in the opposite direction, but somehow, I knew just where to look.
There is an interesting effect that happens in the ocean when predators hunt the shallow waters of a reef. Sea animals make noise—clicks and pops, squeaks and gurgles—and it is unexpected if you’ve never heard it. I marveled at a sound, shouting out the power of life, while snorkeling ten feet deep along a cliff of coral in the tidal channels of Takaroa when suddenly the water around me changed and went quiet when a sleek, gray shark moved through, perhaps compelling the subordinate creatures to silence (and survival). In the sunlight that poured on an angle through the trees, I felt like that as I stood perfectly still, looking only at her. Was I predator or prey?
I decided to offer a test, an unexpected action that might provoke an interesting response. Instead of a shout or another idiotic wave, I knelt down in the leaves and leaned over a bit to prop myself up with an outstretched arm as one might in the park on a summer afternoon. Would she return a gesture of her own, I wondered, or move down the hillside at the very least? Instead, she did nothing. A test returned in a silent war of wills? It was childish, but I wanted to see how far she would go. Could she be spooked if I called the bluff?
I looked away, only for a second, and when I turned back, she was gone. But as I grinned with a self-satisfied chuckle, a sudden, sharp noise like rocks being clapped together in a slow, deliberate cadence pulled me to my feet when I realized it came from the direction of my house. Without a thought, I sprinted across even ground and the spaces between trees, dodging them like a football player on a straight line for the opening to my weed-covered backyard. I could hear the clacking sound increase in its frequency, as though reacting to my pounding feet. Suddenly the direction changed, echoing downward from the north through trees to my right. As I drew nearer, and the roof of my house came into view, the air went suddenly and deathly still.
I paused where the ground levels off to catch my breath beside the remains of an old, fallen tree rotting on its side among the ferns. The odd sounds seemed frantic and hurried to draw attention but were now only a slight rustle in the leaves as a soft breeze wandered through. I breathed with relief those strange noises had not been made by uninvited visitors at my house. By habit, or maybe instinct, my eyes wandered from left to right looking for something—anything—to account for the sounds. Only the oaks, still holding their brown leaves tightly, looked back at me. The answer would stay hidden, it would seem, but I decided to move up the hill on my next foray to look around and find the source. A mystery to be solved, I thought to myself, but only for the moment.
As I turned to go, she stood in the open a few yards away, and I felt the hair on my neck standing in the shock and wash of adrenaline sudden surprise always brings. It was impossible she could have closed the distance so silently in a tangle of branches and dead leaves, yet she faced me without the slightest sign of fatigue or breathlessness. For a moment there was only the quiet of an undisturbed forest and an awkward pause until she spoke.
“Hello, Mr. Morgan,” she said.
“Evan,” I replied. “You must be Aline.”
Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?
My next manuscript (WIP) is the third book in a sci-fi series and follow-on to my first two books, Specimen 959 and Echoes of Esharam. It will release in mid-2020. After an interesting exploration of romance and paranormal, I will return to my traditional sci-fi genre in the foreseeable future with a second Specimen Chronicles trilogy and two other, standalone novels.
Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
A Pleasure in Words, by Eugene T. Maleska
Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Web site: www.rcdaviesbooks.com
Publisher’s author page: https://www.bhcpress.com/Author_Robert_Davies.html
Echoes of Esharam
When the River Ran Dry
The Seventh Life of Aline Lloyd