Rabia Gale breaks fairy tales and fuses fantasy and science fiction. She loves to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. Rabia grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and now lives in Northern Virginia. Visit her online at http://www.rabiagale.com.
When Rabia Gale announced she was doing a very relaxed blog tour for her new novella Rainbird, I put my hand up straight away. I am a big fan of Rabia’s writing, and I’m excited to host her today. So without further ado, here is our interview.
S: You have three children and you homeschool them. How on earth do you find time to write?
R: I shackle my children to their desks, hand them math workbooks and spelling lists, and go off to write.
Okay, maybe not. *grin*
Our mornings are dedicated to school. Occasionally, we’ll do an art project or music appreciation right after lunch, but for the most part, early afternoons are free—for all of us. The children read, play, draw and amuse themselves in other (hopefully non-destructive) ways while I write.
I also make writing a priority on low-key weekends, and I am careful not to over-schedule us with lots of activities.
S: What is your writing process? Do you have specific times you sit down and write, or do you snatch time where you can?
R: It’s a bit of both, actually. Like I said, early afternoons are usually free of other activities. Once a week, my husband watches the kids after dinner and puts them to bed while I write. I also take my laptop to my daughter’s gymnastics class twice a week so I can write, edit or blog while she has her lesson.
I try not to have too many rituals around my writing process, because those can take up a lot of time. My favorite tool is an online timer. Whenever I have a hard time settling down to write, I set it for 10-20 minutes. Usually the furious scribbling as I race the clock unblocks me enough to get more words.
Chocolate also fuels far more of my writing than it should!
S: One criticism levelled at self-published writing is that it bypasses the gatekeepers of “good writing”. Your writing has always struck me as high quality and your stories well developed. How much effort do you put into editing and polishing your stories?
R: First of all, thanks for the compliment. 🙂
It’s important to me to put out my best stories—and also to package them well.
Many of the stories I’ve self-published were written years ago and critiqued by excellent betas. They’ve been polished numerous times, and every so often I’d pull them out and give them yet another look-over. By the time I was ready to release Shattered, I was confident that I had good stories.
I’m also picky about how my e-books look. Presentation matters.
I do several line-editing passes. I read my stories aloud to find typos. I ask friends to proofread for me. My programmer husband formats my e-books. It helps that he’s detail-oriented, patient, and willing to learn how to do fancy small caps and other features. And while I think I have a good aesthetic sense when it comes to cover design, I know I don’t have the skills to create a good cover. So I work with other people, but I’m very hands-on. We tweak and toss ideas back and forth until both my cover designer and I are happy with the result.
S: Tell us a little about the inspiration behind Rainbird.
R: Rainbird sprang from a mental image of a girl dancing under a night sky. I knew that it was high and cold, but I didn’t know where she was, who she was or why she danced.
S: One of the really fascinating things about Rainbird is the sunway. How did you dream it up?
R: Lack of light is a motif that crops up again and again in my fiction. The need for a cold, high place to fit the mental image I mentioned above and my attraction to dark worlds gave rise to the sunway. I’m not sure when the sunway became the spine of a space dragon and the sun its eye, but I think it was the influence of Lucius Shepard’s The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule—a story I read in my teens—creeping across the intervening years that caused the transformation.
That, and I’ve always been fascinated by really really BIG animals (would you call them gigafauna?).
S: Without being too spoilery, what was the hardest scene to write, either in terms of technique or subject matter?
R: It wasn’t so much a scene as a relationship that was the hardest to write. Rainbird is a half-breed: half human and half eiree (a winged race). She was abandoned by her eiree mother as a baby, then found and rescued by her human father fifteen years later, and brought up to the sunway. She wants nothing to do with her mother or her mother’s people, but part of her character development is dealing with that side of her heritage. Which means interacting with her mother, the stranger who bore Rainbird, then gave her up to a terrible childhood. Portraying their relationship, with all its complexity, subtlety, and change, was a delicate task.
S: Will there be a sequel?
R: There are no plans for a sequel as yet, but I’m not ruling out the possibility!
Thanks, Stacey, for having me on your blog!
Thanks Rabia! It was a pleasure :).
You can read an excerpt from Rainbird on Rabia’s site.
She’s a halfbreed in hiding.
Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed.
She lives on the sunway.
High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself.
But one act of sabotage is about to change everything.
For Rainbird. And for her world.