Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welcome Riptide Publishing's Rhi Etzweiller/Contest/Blog Tour Stop

There are two contests for this tour an individual winner and two for the entire blog tour itself. Details on the blog tour can be found HERE along with other stops.

Individual Contest Giveaway: One randomly selected commenter at each stop will receive a signed cover card and magnet. Open to all, regardless of location (winner selected from all comments posted to blog at 11:59pm EST).

Blog Tour Contest: Two winners to be selected at random from drawing of all comments on tour (entry ending Feb. 2nd, 11:59pm EST – comments with date/time stamps after this time will not be counted). Restricted to mainland US and Canada only, for shipping purposes. First winner will receive an autographed tote bag and pen, signed cover flat, and large magnet. Second winner will receive a t-shirt (size XL), pen, signed cover flat, and small magnet.

Welcome to Dawn’s Reading Nook, Rhi Etzweiler. Please let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink and make yourself at home. Comfortable? Great…now let’s get down to business.

Q: So tell us about yourself. What got you interested in writing? Who are your publisher(s)?

My interest in writing… goes back to my childhood when I listened to the cadence of my father’s voice as he read the Lord of the Rings trilogy aloud. I recall seeing the characters, that world, in my head. I wanted to tell stories like that, with that kind of vivid engagement, drag the reader into another place, another life.

Carina Press published my first co-authored work with Aleksandr Voinov last summer. Dark Edge of Honor is very different from Blacker Than Black, my solo debut with Riptide Publishing.

Q: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?

The elements of quality writing that make a story great can be highly divergent. It depends on the individual story – and each one is that, an individual, unique. Authentic and dynamic characters, solid development, conflict – and quality editorial attention.

Q: Please tell us about your latest release. What inspired it?

Blacker Than Black was inspired by a number of factors. It began over five years ago, when I was bogged down and stuck in a writing rut. I needed a fresh angle, a different perspective, and the road Black led me down has certainly been that. I discarded all the writing techniques that were familiar up to that point: third person point of view, past tense, the “epic quest” that is fantasy trope. Abandoning the comfort zones and challenging myself that way was, to say the least, an eye-opening experience.

Q: Among your own books, have you a favorite?  A favorite hero or heroine? 

Each is special in its own unique way. It’s impossible to choose a favorite, especially when there are so many that I’ve not yet shared *laughs* I might fall hopelessly in love with a single character one day, but I’ve not discovered that one yet.

Q: Which of your books has been the easiest to write?  The hardest?  The most fun? 

My published repertoire isn’t that large – DeoH was the easiest book to write, comparatively simple and straightforward, in that blunt, raw way. Aleks and I wrote it in six weeks. Hands down, BTB has repeatedly proven the most difficult. Probably the toughest one I’ll ever write, actually, and not just because I wrote every sentence twice while hammering out the first draft. BTB is unorthodox, unconventional, and strange. I doubt any of my future projects will compare with that, and the struggles it caused.

As for fun – I’ve a few of those lined up, and they’re still to come.

Q: Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

Ha! Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or the chicken hawk?
The story and the characters tend to take the lead in my writing, with the setting secondary. Not to say the world-building isn’t developed or evolved, but when I tell a story it’s less about the world and more about the individuals, their journey (be it internal or external). The setting only enters into it as a function of direct external conflict. This is self perception of my own artistic expression, of course. And sometimes that “function” of the setting is strong enough that the world-building becomes a character in and of itself.

Q: What part of a book has been the easiest to write?  The hardest?

Dynamic character development is the easiest part for me to write. Exploring the mind, the emotional and psychological journey the character is taking, showing their progression from point A to point B; it’s what I love most about writing, in fact.
The hardest part is the beginning and end. Getting started, finding the right point, the best one, from which to launch a tale. Gathering the energy and momentum is every bit as difficult as bringing it to a halt, finding a satisfying closure without dragging out the details. I strive for balance in my writing, nor am I above leaving the reader to wonder a little, either, about the lesser or more tenuous details.

Q: What is the hardest/the easiest part of writing for you? 

I struggle with developing strong plot arcs in my stories. It’s the aspect I hate the most, hands down. The easiest part is character interactions, communication both verbal and unspoken. I love finding new methods of showing the reader those thousands of ways to communicate without uttering a syllable.

Q: What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?

I’m thoroughly enjoying Colonel Dave Grossman’s writings, “On Killing” and “On Combat.” I’m also fascinated by Nicholai Lilin’s raw, unadorned writing style in “Free Fall.” That’s just what I am reading right now… I’m of the school of thought that quality writing is genreless, and that quality of writing is the sole requisite for what I’ll read. I don’t limit myself, or an author, with genre labels.

Q: What do you hope readers take with them, after reading one of your stories? What do you hope they feel, or learn?

I am acutely aware that readers will pick up my stories for different reasons, in search of different things. I hope that each finds what they’re seeking—whether it’s a completely submersed escapism experience, an emotionally satisfying journey, or an exploration into a fresh perspective of the world around them.

Writing is my art, words the medium of expression. I hope that my stories challenge the reader in some fashion. To see what is there…and what is not; the positive space, as well as the negative space, so to speak. To read what is on the page, but also to interpret, to peek between the lines. I hope that my stories stay with them, unfold in fresh perspectives, with richer meanings, over time. I hope they find them to be treasures to revisit again and again, in search of new details.

Q: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Caffeinated Warmonger. [Oh look, I only need two!]

Q: What is the strangest source of writing inspiration you’ve ever had?

Strange. Well, hmm. I think it’s safe to say, the things I consider utterly mundane and normal are firmly in the “strange” category for the majority of the general public. I keep thinking this, and then stumble upon individuals who prove me wrong. (Keep it up, I’ve no qualms with being wrong.)
I have this nebulous idea of writing a dark fantasy that revolves around the idea of Mystery, the Whore of Babylon, and the Beast with seven heads and ten horns – both are literary concepts from the Book of Revelations, in the New Testament, but I’ve always wanted to play with those conceptual images and see what happened. I have a story on the drawing board that does precisely that, though I have yet to see where it takes me.
Q: So a bit of naughty truth, do you ever do a little real life research to make your books spicy or do you just have a great imagination?

I wouldn’t consider my stories erotic – I doubt I’ll ever write something that could be labeled such, simply because I tend to write too much of the surrounding story in order to create a rich and balanced experience.

Real life research… all life is research, for an artist. That being said, here’s the naughty truth of what I think you might be gunning for: with a few exceptions, I think I’ve banked quite a healthy collection of life research already. About the only thing I’ve not done at this point is [thinking really hard, give me a second] have sex in public. For those of you who want the explicit detail: I’ve topped and bottomed for both sexes, so I’d say I have a healthy repository of perspectives and experience.

Yes, I draw on my experiences – sexual and otherwise – to keep things authentic, spicy, and intense. If that ever fails [wow, it’s hilarious that I would even consider that, actually] I’ve a large buffer of explicit conversations with others to fall back on for reference.

Q: If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?

Bring me the first person you find wearing a military uniform, I’d like to buy them dinner. And say thanks. Why? Because everyone has a story to tell, and as a writer I fancy myself a collector of stories. And because though every soldier has their own private reasons for donning a uniform and bearing arms in defense of their nation (regardless of their nationality), there’s a foundation of a warrior ethos that becomes weathered into them – duty, honor, country. And I am one who honors and respects that, every chance I get.

Q: What is the most ridiculous thing that you have thought about doing to any of your characters but never did?

I don’t know that this has ever happened. I should probably clarify this – when an idea occurs to me, I write it out. Not to say it ends up in the story, but I explore it. Sometimes thoroughly. So I can’t say “never did” because... in all honesty, I have. It’s just not fit for public perusal! J

Q: Want to tell us about any projects you are working on?

Currently, I’m working on an alien-smut gunporn novella for Riptide. I’ve also got the sequel companion to BTB, titled “Blood Red,” in the works, the co-write sequel hanging around out there in the near future, and a completely unrelated solo project that’s a military fantasy.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

I’d like to thank the readers – all of you – for your patience as the release date got shuffled and shifted over the past month. I hope you deem it worthy of the wait! Good luck in today’s drawing, and follow along to Amara’s Place (http://amarasplace.blogspot.com) for my appearance tomorrow, where we’ll have another randy interview, lots of espresso, an Extra Special Excerpt!

For more on my books and what’s in the works, this is where you can find me:
Twitter: @musefodder
Facebook Profile: here
Goodreads Profile: here
Amazon Author Page: here
Google+ Profile: here
Get “Dark Edge of Honor” here
Get “Blacker Than Black” here

Blacker Than Black by Rhi Etzweiller
Coming January 23rd, 2012
Riptide Publishing
Fantasy M/M

Apparently, my twin and I are two of York’s most notorious criminals. We’ve been Nightwalkers in the blue-light district since the vamps took over the world. Don’t know how many years it’s been. Long enough that a stream of fellow ’walkers have come and gone. Most don’t last long selling their chi. End up face-down in the gutter, or worse.

For us, one night and one sale change everything.

Monsieur Garthelle is the first john to hunt me down. He calls me a chi thief in one breath and offers absolution—servitude—in the next. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I like living and breathing. Strange that such a powerful vamp would show leniency to a mere human. And something’s not right with the chi I took from him. It won’t go away.

Neither will he, and he’s forcing us to spy on his peers. Then a vamp turns up dead, and we go from playing eyes and ears to investigating a murder. This isn’t what I signed up for. All I ever wanted was to sell a little chi, maybe steal some in return. I should’ve kept my damn hands to myself.

This is my story. Look through my eyes.

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