Recently I joined a group of fiction authors. Lauren graciously offered to feature interviews on her stuff and I liked the idea so I stole it (with her permission).
Lauren Alder is my first victim – author. 🙂 Her book is The Codex of Desire. If you want to stalk her (in a nice way) on social media, or buy her book, the links are at the bottom of the page.
Lauren Alder has forged at 25-year career in the professional comics industry, including projects for the Big Three and an Eisner Award nomination (which she shared with her husband, comic book veteran George Freeman). She is a lifelong science nerd who harbours a powerful fascination for dinosaurs, archaeology, and the sociology of food. She loves stories that provide the reader with plenty to think about after the last page has been turned, and enjoys creating narratives that challenge her audience to look at reality in new and deeply engaging ways. “The Codex of Desire” is her first novel, but will certainly not be her last.
Now for the questions:
1. Tell us about yourself.
In brief, since a separate bio has been provided: 53 years old, freelance commercial artist, happily married for 23 years to a fellow artist. Natural redhead, ENFP, Ravenclaw, Lawful Good alignment. Initiated Wiccan priestess who enjoys adding a spiritual dimension (in subtle ways) to my work. Has an abiding love for cats, dinosaurs, true history books, and the movie “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”. Adores the SF&F fannish subculture and attends conventions whenever possible.
2. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
If you subscribe to the definitions that “writer = someone who writes” and “author = a writer who is published”, then I always knew that I wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago, after putting nearly 1 million words of fan fiction under my belt on Archive of Our Own and having a number of fans rave about the quality of my works, that I heard about National Novel Writing Month and set my sights on finishing — and publishing — a novel.
3. What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
Actually, I’m primarily a non-fiction reader: history and true crime, mostly, as well as books on food sociology. When I read fiction, I tend toward science fiction (which is the genre that my current novel, “The Codex of Desire”, falls into).
4. Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
Definitely adults! There’s suggestive sexual content and episodes of violence which place it in the 18+ category.
5. What is your current release or project?
“The Codex of Desire” was published in mid-August of this year.
6. Tell us about the key characters
Tir’at is the fulcrum around which the events of the novel turn: a beautiful and vain Warrior of the Culture of the Word, he is utterly secure in his genetic, cultural, and mental superiority — until one glimpse of a lovely female Poetess of the Tribes of the Inspiration brings his icy self-composure crashing down in ruins.
Ev’ora, the Most Potent Chieftess of the Tribes of the Inspiration, is in a grim position indeed: she has not laid a viable clutch of eggs in many months, and an infertile Chieftess is invariably cast down. She is determined to remain in power — and in Tir’at, with his ability to provide fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, she sees the potential to save herself… if only she can persuade him to submit to her willingly.
Girn’ash, the Lowest slave of the Tribes, falls in love with Tir’at at first glance, and vows in her silent heart to do everything in her power to save him from the two possible fates which await him: captivity in Ev’ora’s harem, or death if he displeases the Chieftess.
And Raoul Deguchi, the human paleontologist from the distant future, has access to all their thoughts through touching the alien memory storage device which is unearthed along with Tir’at’s fossilized remains. He can only watch, helpless to intervene, as love and violent, war and lust, secrets and betrayal all chart a course toward certain disaster.
7. What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?
“The Codex of Desire” is an epic science fiction novel which celebrates the barbaric splendour of a long-lost prehistoric world.
When Raoul Deguchi, a human palaeontologist, touches the alien-forged metal band wrapped around the forearm of a small theropod dinosaur fossil, he is mentally transported back in time to experience the tragic intersection of five dinosaur lives. Girn’ash, a shrewd and secretive female slave, falls in love with Tir’at~Esk, a dashing military prisoner — and she will do anything in her meagre power to win his freedom. But Girn’ash’s queen is determined to coerce the handsome warrior into her harem, and when so many savage desires collide it might doom an entire civilization to nuclear extinction.
8. Share an excerpt:
[In this scene, Tir’at finds himself the unwilling guest of E’vora at a banquet in honour of the Longest Day. Seated beside at the head table on the dais, exposed to the gazes of all the gathered Chieftesses below, Tir’at can only endure the presence of his enemy and do his level best to remain calm in the face of her obvious lustful interest in him.]
Ev’ora hooted under her breath, and leaned again closer to him to speak directly into his ear: “Keen as your eye may be, little male, it misleads you this time. I love indeed — oh, how I love! None better!” Her voice was low, deep, infused with a musical resonance which his mind abhorred but his body well recognized: the song of a female to her intended mate! “Well… you shall learn hereafter. For the moment, perhaps the song of the living will banish from your ears the silence of the dead.”
She straightened proudly and parted her jaws to utter a belling cry which hushed the primal murmuring of her subjects: “Let his protege come forth, to demonstrate that his skills shall never be lost!”
Another ripple passed over the crowd, a wave of low welcoming hoots — but this time, even through the overwhelming disgust burning in every cell of his body, Tir’at could clearly hear that the response was neither as loud nor as enthusiastic as it had been for the Chief Poet. Through those calls was woven a word, clearly a name: “La’leet — La’leet — La’leet of the Soul of Evening Rain!”
The curtain on the southern wall lifted again, and Tir’at briefly closed his eyes, telling himself that he would bear steadfastly whatever came next —
“Open your eyes, Illustrious Guest,” said Ev’ora, her voice full of amusement. Tir’at drew a slow breath before complying with his enemy’s directive.
She entered the brightly lit dancing space with a dainty mincing step, as if her finely boned feet with their scythe-claws painted glossy black spurned the dusty ground on which they trod. As she passed from the shadows into the light, the glow of the tall torches kindled and ran gleaming along the shaft of every feather to flash over the vanes: she was red, oh, so intense a black-barred red, with each pinion tipped clean yellow and a few of those tips finely threaded with pure white accents which made them shine even more brightly. She was a supremely healthy female of the Tribes, yet so refined in manner, her downcast eyes the vivid green of fresh spring leaves — and the lush pouf of feathers on her breast, full and thick and an even brighter scarlet than the feathers of her fine well-fed body, marked her as a young female of perhaps six-fours years, only newly fertile.
Tir’at’s right hand, which had been reaching for his wine-bowl in a gesture of casual contempt, stalled mid-motion and sank to the table-top as if all its nerves had been cut. He forgot wine, forgot the Exalted table at which he sat, forgot that anything else existed except this unknown female who rivalled his host in size and utterly surpassed her in beauty, as the Moon surpassed all the lesser Stars.
The female advanced to the centre of the space, turned to face Ev’ora’s table, and bowed to touch her chin to the floor, as graceful as a willow dipping its leaves to drink from a virgin spring. “This ~R’ral’nin, apprentice of Wa’Nilin~Ral’Ur, greets Thee and all Thy gracious company,” she said in a deep voice which was the essence of Music itself, a music more potent and piercing than any Tir’at had ever heard: it slipped into his heart like a silver blade and pricked the wellspring of his heart’s-blood, bringing a rush of heat to his cheeks and his breast and his vent, tingling all the way to his fingertips and to his toes braced hard against the couch he lay upon.
A Poet/Singer/Dancer, he realized dimly through the tumult in his body, as she swayed smoothly erect from her obeisance. How unutterably barbaric!
Barbaric, and exquisite, and so unbearably alive that Tir’at could feel her body as if it were a double of his own — her breath the source of his own life, her pulse one rhythm with his pulse, her gracefulness the perfect accompaniment to his own inherent nobility! He stared in absolute sacred silence, dazzled as if by the embodied Soul of Flame itself, as she moved into a stylized pose — wings flared wide, scythe-claws cocked, her sweet tapering head silhouetted against the dark shiftings of the anonymous crowd beyond her — and then into another pose, a slow turn, a measured step, a pause, another sharper step, a lunge as fluid as bright water that flowed through a complete circle to the meeting of angles in perfect harmony — a dance as holy as an act of worship, all while her voice twined round the core of him and drew out his life in exquisite agonizing degrees, soft and perfectly pitched, aching with poignancy:
The Sun, the Sun, the Sun rules in His heaven,
The Clouds, the Wind, the Leaves obey His will…
The Moon, the Moon, the Moon rules in Her heaven,
The Stars, the Stars, the Stars at Her command…
9. Do you have a favorite scene?
I’m very fond of the scene above, where Tir’at sees La’leet for the first time. It’s really the moment that seals his doom, although he doesn’t realize it at the time.
10. What advice would you give a beginner?
Do NOT edit as you write the first draft. That will choke you up and possibly slow you down to the point where you won’t be writing at all. Just concentrate on getting the whole thing out of you — put things down as they occur to you, even if they’re out of order, because it can all be fixed in the editing. But editing is for later. The most important thing is to tell the story for yourself: you can concentrate on tidying it up afterwards.
Social media links:
Book Trailer Link: https://youtu.be/-ROPzoCg248
Blog link: https://laurenalder.home.blog