Friday, April 19, 2013

Featuring Red Tash


  Hi, everybody! Today’s is a very special post for me, because I get to promote (and interview!) one of my favorite authors, Red Tash. For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I reviewed her dark fantasy, Troll or Derby, in June of last year and her name crops up in my ramblings periodically. Well, this weekend, there is a crazy-ass sale going on where Troll or Derby is available as an ebook for only 99 cents. I can’t think of anyone I know (with the possible exception of my mother-in-law), who wouldn’t love this book. I mean, you are crazy not to read this book, so as a service to y’all I have posted the purchase links following my review (and the five stars) below.
 
  So, who is Red Tash, anyway?
 

Red Tash is a journalist-turned-novelist of dark fantasy for readers of all ages. Monsters, SciFi, wizards, trolls, fairies, and roller derby lightly sautéed in a Southern/Midwestern sauce await you in her pantry of readerly delights. Y'all come, anytime.”
   That’s her official blurb. For me, she’s a huge lump of gold that I stumbled over while tromping through the forest of recommendations Amazon throws at me constantly. I was so impressed with Troll or Derby that I shifted my lazy butt in my chair and wrote a review (re-posted below).
   Since then I’ve devoured everything I can find that she’s written, which is sadly not nearly enough to satisfy my hunger. I’ve corresponded with her via email and social media posts, and I’ve discovered she is a delightful person as well as a great writer. I’m proud to say I’m one of the Radishes, the group of fans that follow her avidly on Facebook. And last week, she graciously consented to do an interview for my blog!

   Here it is…
Me:
Okay, Red, you already know I’m a big fan, so enough of the stroking and brown-nosing. And I’m going to apologize for the selfishness of the following interview questions, because they are not so much in the interest of promoting you or the book. I have my own curiosity to satisfy.
Uh, how’s it going, by the way?
Red:
Going okay! 2013 got off to a challenging start, but I'm looking forward to working my way through all sorts of writing projects near and dear to my heart.
Me:
The titles for this series, Troll or Derby (and subsequent titles which I understand are Troll or Park and Troll or Trash), are delightful to me. Especially since titles are something I suck at. You attribute the title to someone else in your acknowledgments. Did that person come up with all three titles? Please elaborate.
Red:
Oh, no, I'm taking all the credit for Park and Trash, but my dear friend accomplished author Marian Allen did, indeed, pitch Troll Or Derby at me back when the book was in its early stages. She's a very witty gal and I can't recommend her work more. Those of you who've read the Let It Snow collection from the 2012 holiday season might remember Marian's story “The Pratty Who Saved Chrismuss,” a sort of Dickensian twist on the “off-world holiday” oeuvre.
Me:
I remember that one. It was good. Now… I love the cover for Troll or Derby. Tell us again who did the cover art, and how much input did you have in the concept, layout, etc?
Red:
The fairy was done by an artist named Brittany Smith of Amaranth Dreams studio. I stumbled across one of her photo manipulations on tumblr or deviantart.com and fell in love with her work. I wrote to her about Deb, sent her some excerpts from the books, and she sent me back sketches until we came up with the gal you see on the cover. I hope to have Brittany do the covers for Park& Trash, as well! She does great work and was worth every penny.
As far as the rest of the cover (fonts, layout, textures, paper tear, etc.), that was all me. I put up a rough draft of the cover without the textures and the paper tear, and a writerly friend complained it was too plain, so I thought about it and tried again. I have a background in page design and have done a lot of work with graphics, so I just kind of fiddled with it until it looked "roller derby" enough for me.
Me:
Well, the layout works. Every time I see a roller derby billboard now, I think of that fairy. Similarly, I often think of Harlow when I walk in the nearby greenway in my hometown, which is built atop an old landfill. You’ve captured the ambience of the Laurents County Landfill extremely well in your writings. You hangout in landfills a lot?
Red:
In rural Indiana there isn't always curbside trash service. When I was a little girl in Memphis, Indiana, my dad would load up his pick-up truck with the week's trash and take it out to the dump on Saturday morning. He almost always took me with him. I will never forget the sour odor of acres of rotting trash. I have no idea what took my dad so long when he was dropping off, but it always seemed like I had to sit and wait inside the cab of the truck forever. I guess those memories really stuck with me, because I feel like the sight of a zillion discarded pieces of garbage is one of the most colorful, vivid landscapes imaginable. When I began to write the role of Harlow into Deb's story, I asked myself where a troll might choose to live if he wanted to remain unseen. Just seemed like a good idea at the time to hide him in the landfill.
Me:
I think it was a great idea. Okay, I have one more question. Troll or Derby at one point reached #1 in Dark Fantasy on Amazon, with a total number of reader reviews now pushing sixty, and an average reader rating so close to 5 stars that it may as well be. Have you ever gotten a negative review? 
Red:
Of course!  All novelists get negative reviews. 
Me:
Not me! Okay, I’m kidding of course. I have a few 3-star reviews on amazon for my first novel, plus some negative comments in some of the more favorable ones, but some of those have actually been helpful. How do you handle it?
Red:
If I'm lucky, a negative review will shed some light on the issues that reader didn't care for.  If he/she just didn't like the story, then there's really nothing I can do about it.  If I can make a change, I will, though.  I have a free flash fiction story that got a lot of complaints because it was so short.  Free stuff always gets a lot of negative reviews, for some reason, and I don't think it helped that readers outside the writing community might not really know what “flash” fiction means.  Readers wanted to know more about that character, so I've since published a couple more stories about him, and hope to get another done this year.  I also solicited friends to add some free material to the end of that download, so now instead of one flash fiction story, it has two flash pieces and two longer pieces.  That's a lot of bang for your “free.”

Or, take the case of my first novel, which tells a story through the viewpoints of about seven or eight different characters.  I knew the transitions would be a bit jarring, and made a lot of caveats to that effect in all the descriptions and even in the front matter of the book, but when it still showed up as a point of contention in several reviews, I added the name of the character to the beginning of each chapter and haven't had that complaint, since. 
Me:
You’re talking about This Brilliant Darkness. I liked the shifting perspective in that book, but I read the version with the character names at the beginning of the chapters. So I guess, as a reader, I ultimately benefited from those negative reviews.
Red:
My job, in essence, is pleasing my readers.  If they like my work enough to pay for it, then it's my job to clarify what they enjoy and provide more of that.  Do they like the adventure, the pacing, the rush, the characters?  More, then.  I'm happy to do it!  I become a better writer every time I hit a home run based on their desires.
Me:
I heard that. Um, we’re about out of time. Anything else you’d like to say?
Red:
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, John, and thanks for being one of the Radishes.
Me:
My pleasure and my privilege, Red. Thanks for your time. Now, get back to your writing, because we’re all eagerly awaiting more of Deb and Harlow in the rest of the series.
                                                              Red and her Biggest Fan 
That was fun! Here’s my own review of Troll or Derby…
 

 
   Troll or Derby is Paranormal Americana at its best. It starts out at a dead run as teenaged Roller Deb rescues her older sister from a meth lab fire and the pace only increases from there. Ms. Tash is a former journalist, and it shows. There is not a wasted word in the whole story. There’s no time for background explanations or character development. You need to keep your head up and your eyes and ears open and get ready to duck ‘cause the next thing’s coming at you already. Yet somehow, amidst all the chaos, I came to know the characters and their world pretty well by the end of the book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel.
   This is an action book and to describe any more of it would risk spoiling something for the reader. But aside from the pace there were two particular things I liked about the book that bear mentioning. The first is the author’s talent for saying a lot in few words. Here’s an example, where Deb sums up her relationship with the evil April, “My heart both longed for her and ached for its own stupidity, at the same time.” Man, it would have taken me half a chapter to say that!
  The other thing I liked about the book was the very natural, off-hand treatment of Deb’s sexual orientation. It’s an important element of the story, but at no point does it become the central theme. This is the way it should be, and in my opinion does more for gay rights than any amount of preaching from the soap box, which I’ve done more of in the last sentence than Tash does in the whole book.
  I was a little disappointed there wasn’t more roller derby action, something I was expecting from the title, but that was not enough to keep me from giving Troll or Derby five stars. And the author has promised us more derby action in the upcoming sequel, Troll or Park. Dollar-for-word, this is the best thing I’ve read all year.
 
   As promised, here are the links to buy Troll or Derby for only 99 cents
 
   Coming up next time…
       … wow, I have no idea!
Until then, Happy Reading!

Oh, and don't forget you can purchase either of my books by clicking on the links below...

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback
in Charlotte    Smashwords

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback
in Charlotte    Smashwords

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