Sunday, February 2, 2014

Interview with Rachel Neumeier

I'm thrilled to have fantasy/urban fantasy author Rachel Neumeier visiting the blog. Today we are talking about her newest release from Strange Chemistry (an Angry Robots imprint), BLACK DOG. You can also check out my review on the blog as well.

Please welcome Rachel to the blog!

M:  Hi Rachel. It's an honor to have you by the blog. Can you share describe your newest release for those that are new to the story?

RN:  Thank you, Melissa, for inviting me over to Words and Pages. It’s always so exciting to have a new book hit the shelves! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and delighted to be here.

Black dog is in the UF/Paranormal family, though it’s almost entirely set in rural Vermont and follows only the beginning of a romance. It’s set in a world filled with secret history that has recently been revealed, a world where demonic influence has shaped life in much of the world for thousands of years. A war between wholly demonic vampires and half-demonic black dogs has resulted in the destruction of all vampires, but has also destroyed the secrecy that has always hidden the supernatural from ordinary people. This is a good thing for the world, but produces serious complications for the black dogs who survived the war – and for Natividad, Alejandro, and their brother Miguel.

M:  Black Dog is classified as Young Adult. What age group do you feel Black Dog is geared toward?

RN:  I seem to naturally fall into writing at the boundary between YA and adult. I’d say that BLACK DOG is suited for anyone reading at the high end of YA on up. Having said that . . . I remember reading absolutely everything when I was a young teenager, and probably you do as well. Readers who enjoyed my other books might feel this one is a little darker, but it’s certainly in the same spectrum.

M:  It's hard to classify an age group, everyone reads at a different level as YA. I think this will be eaten up by many young eyes.

M:  The Black Dogs seem to be a blend of werewolf and much more. What myth did you pull on for the history of the Black Dog?

RN:  In creating the modern social structure of black dogs, I was influenced far more by modern UF/Paranormal writers than by any historical ideas or myths about werewolves.

But I did create my vampires in accordance with the old idea of vampires as purely evil demon-possessed corpses. That’s where I got the idea of also handing my “werewolves” demonic shadows, which of course gives every black dog character an extra layer of conflict to deal with.

It was also the decision to bring in demonic influence that then gave me a push toward creating Pure magic as the antithesis of demonic magic.

M:  The culture you've drawn on here is very interesting. There is a Mexican culture with the kids blending with the North. You occasionally use Spanish words with your characters. How did you find blending it together?

RN:  In practice, this was fun to do, but difficult, because I don’t speak any Spanish. I appealed to friends to correct my online-translator Spanish into correct colloquial Mexican Spanish – and it’s quite true, that disclaimer about any mistakes being my fault. I tried hard not to change anything that might affect the Spanish once it was corrected, but it would be hard for me to notice a mistake in that area.

I enjoyed using Mexican protagonists, though. Not only did that let me set up certain plot elements for the future, it also let me use the distinctions between black dogs, the Pure, and ordinary humans as a kind of metaphor for race and at the same time as a way to reduce the importance of actual racial distinctions. My black dogs may sometimes be snobs about your bloodlines, but they really don’t care about your race.

M:  I really liked that about your black dogs. Very nicely brought across in the read.

M:  You've created a world where lines are a little different. There are elements we have but Vampires were real and Black Dogs exist along with Magic of the Pure. Will be learn more of the Pure influence? There seems as there could be more books in this world. Do you have an idea how many, yet?

RN:  Yes, we will find out a lot more about exactly how vampires and black dogs used to exploit and prey on ordinary people back before the war destroyed the vampire magic that used to hide the supernatural. And the second book will showcase the Pure a bit, though just how much it will explain, well, I think I still know quite a bit more about the Pure and their magic than has yet made its way into a manuscript.

I have ideas and whole scenes set up for at least a third book, and a fairly clear idea of a broad overall story arc that might go farther. Whether those books will actually get written and when, well, that depends on a lot of practical factors, so it’s hard to say.

M:  Well, here's hoping you get to write those books. I'm curious to see more of these characters and what comes to pass.

M:  Okay, fun questions now. These are questions I ask my first time visiting authors.
One question I ask all visitors their first time by…If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

RN:  India! I have wanted to visit India for a while now. All that history! The stunning architecture! The great food! Maybe in a few years. The subcontinent is so big, I would probably have to decide on just one corner to visit, and I have no idea how I would narrow it down. But it would be hard for me to leave my dogs for that long, plus I would have to find a time when I’m not expecting or raising puppies.

M:  Tea or Coffee?

RN:  Hot chocolate, made with whole milk, 70% dark chocolate, and enough sugar to take the edge off. How people can stand to drink coffee, I’ll never know.

M:  LOL, you are not the only person I have heard say that of coffee. And Hot Chocolate is the best made with milk. :)

M:  Favorite Color?

RN:  Blue. All the blues. I’m a sucker for blue flowers in the garden, and I have a lot of blue in my house.

M:  Favorite Childhood Fictional Creature?

RN:  I loved unicorns before the unicorn craze even started.

M:  Now, as an adult, what’s your Favorite Fictional Creature?

RN:  Griffins, naturally. Not just mine, either: I loved the griffin in Nick O’Donohoe’s THE MAGIC AND THE HEALING and probably that’s why I put griffins into my own trilogy. Though, granted, mine came out very differently from his.

Well, okay, and dragons. Pretty much all dragons, especially the dragons in Patricia McKillip’s THE CYGNET AND THE FIREBIRD.

M:  Favorite word? (any word at all)

RN:  Hah, you shouldn’t ask someone with a bio background that! “Ovoviviparous.” I’ve always loved that word. How many words do YOU know that have three “v’s” in them? I will admit, this is a hard one to work into casual conversation.

M:  Haha, that is wild seeing all those "v's" in one word. Nice pick!

Thank you, Rachel, for stopping by for the interview. Here’s wishing you all the best in Words and Pages.
I hope you take a moment to check out Black Dog. It's available for purchase at all your book selling sites as of February 4, 2014

Barnes & Nobles
Book Depository

Author Bio:
Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.

Find Rachel:
Site & Blog:  Rachel Neumeier
Twitter:  @RachelNeumeier


  1. Nice interview :) I have been wanting to try her fantasy books from before

    1. Blodeuedd, I hope you get to try her books. This is a YA, but I really enjoyed the black dog she created here. :)

  2. thanks for the nice interview, I didn't know the book but I'm curious about it. thanks!

    1. Melliane, Glad to share a new book with you then. :) Glad you are curious about it. :)

  3. Wonderful interview! I've seen Black Dog here and there on various bloggers' sites and been intrigued. I enjoyed reading about some of the hows and whys behind the writing, and also getting to know Ms. Neumeier a little. (I was into unicorns before they were cool, too.)

    1. Oh thank you Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard. Glad you liked the interview. Glad you are seeing the book around. :) Thank you for visiting.

  4. I really love the cover for this book. I'm going to check out your review to see if it is one that might interest me. Nice interview as well!

    1. Chucklesthescot, thank you. And glad you liked the interview. :)


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