I’m here again with another interview with an amazing author and editor – the prolific and indefatiguable: Rayne Hall.
In addition to being a fantastic author in her own right in several genres, Rayne writes phenomonally good “how-to-write” books; teaches writing classes; works as an editor and is just an all-round awesome person. Follow her on twitter: @RayneHall
You are really missing out if you dont check out her catalogue on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Rayne-Hall/e/B006BSJ5BK/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1343905439&sr=1-2-ent
Some of her titles include:
So without further ado, I give you Rayne Hall.
Rayne Hall, Author and Editor
S: Can you tell us a bit about yourself in your own words, who are you?
R: I’ve worked in the publishing industry for more than thirty years, starting as a publishing management trainee, and later as an investigative journalist, feature writer, magazine editor, production editor, page designer, concept editor for non-fiction book series, anthology editor, editorial consultant and more. Being a multi-tasking workaholic, I also had other careers, often at the same time. I’ve worked as a museum guide in a reconstructed bronze age village, apple picker, tarot reader, adult education teacher, trade fair hostess, translator and bellydancer. I can still out-bellydance anyone!
The publishing background helps with the business side of my writing work, while the other jobs help me create authentic stories. There are a lot of bellydancers in my fiction.
S. You’ve been quite the traveller and have visited and lived in many places. Where and why?
R: The lure was my love for different cultures, with a dash of yearning for adventure. The only way to really experience a culture is to live and work there. In Germany, I edited a glossy bridal magazine, in China I edited language education materials, in Nepal I trained the journalists of a daily newspaper, in Mongolia I helped launch the first women’s magazine, in Britain I commissioned authors for non-fiction books – and much more.
My current residence is in south east England, in a small seaside town designed during the Regency period and filled with Victorian architecture. Much of the grand Victorian architecture is decaying under the constant onslaught of salty sea winds and human neglect, which creates a horror-inspiring atmosphere.
S: Have your travels influenced your writing and the worlds you create? If so, how?
R: Definitely. Some of my short stories are set in Germany, China, Tunisia, Turkey, Nepal and England. I’ve also created fantasy worlds, and those are inspired by the cultures where I’ve lived; the world of the fantasy novel Storm Dancer for example is a blend of several Middle Eastern cultures, with some Asian elements added.
My personal experiences also feed my fiction. For example, I had this job in North East China. The contract had promised me a fully furnished flat with double-glazed windows, running hot and cold water and central heating. When I arrived, a blizzard was raging; the windows were smashed, there was no furniture, no water either hot or cold, and the heating did not work. I survived the freezing night by piling all the clothes from my suitcase on top of me. In the morning, I confronted my employer and reminded him of the terms of our contract. He said, “I’m a busy man. You can’t expect me to keep all my promises.” He then took me on tour, displaying the “genuine foreign devil” like a performing monkey.
I created a similar situation in Storm Dancer. The heroine, a magician who can change the weather through dancing, travels a vast distance to bring rain to a parched land. Her contract promised a private apartment. Instead, she has to sleep in a crowded dormitory with unwashed bedding. When she complains, the ruler tells her “I’m a busy man. You can’t expect me to keep all my promises” – and then he makes her perform her magical dance as public entertainment.
Many of my characters suffer from culture shock. They’re foreigners stranded in a culture they don’t understand, struggling to adapt while holding on to their own values, learning to see the world from new perspectives, at the same time defending themselves against prejudice and exploitation and trying to survive.
Each culture has its own values and ideals, and what is “right” and noble in one culture may be “wrong” and evil in another. This makes great conflicts for fiction. Two opponents may fight for what they believe in, and each is genuinely good but perceived as evil by the other because of different values.
S: When did you first start writing and what attracted you to it?
R: I started writing as soon as I started school. The stories in the school books were so silly! I simply had to write more exciting ones.
S: Who are you literary influences and have there been any pivotal or defining works that you’ve read? (e.g Something that changed your life or made you want to write etc)
R: One of my earliest literary influences was Karl May who lived 1842 – 1912 and wrote adventure novels set in exotic countries. Although he his almost unknown in the English-speaking world, he’s famous in Germany.
In my early teens, I discovered a book with stories of Edgar Allan Poe. They were so exciting! I started writing horror stories at once. They didn’t have much plot and blatantly copied Poe’s style, but at the time I thought they were really good.
Other influences are Jane Austen (superb characterisation), Ramsey Campbell (horror stories with strong atmosphere), Tanith Lee (dark, with fluid boundaries between good and evil), Dave Duncan (exciting epic fantasy), Gene Wolfe (intelligent fantasy novels which can be enjoyed at different levels), Charlotte Bronte (intense passion created through understatement), Marion Zimmer Bradley (the reader experiences different cultures through individuals who live there), Lisa Gardner (nail-biting suspense)… and many more. I’m a rapid reader and devour several hundred books every year.
S. You are well known for writing horror stories and dark fantasy. How did you end up writing in these genres as opposed to say, literary fiction or romance?
R: I’ve written other genres as well! I’ve had quite a lot of short pieces and books published in other genres – although not under the Rayne Hall name.
In recent years, I’ve written mostly fantasy and horror. I enjoy writing about magic as reality. I believe that magic exists; only most people in the modern western world are not aware of it. It’s fun to write about worlds where people know that magic is as real as electricity is to us.
I also enjoy writing horror: scaring readers is fun. I like nothing better than making my readers’ skins crawl with apprehension, their spines tingle with suspense and their hearts thump in delicious fear.
Whatever genre I intend to write, it often turns into horror.
When I conceived Storm Dancer years ago, it was a straightforward adventure fantasy, with a swashbuckling hero fighting evil guys. Then it turned out that the hero was possessed by a demon, and the evil he was fighting was inside him. Now there’s war, rape, torture, treachery and human sacrifice.
Some years ago, I started a light-hearted Regency Romance novel with lots of funny situations and witty banter… but half way through the book I discovered that there was a centuries-old curse on the family, the hero had a guilty secret, the vengeful housekeeper was on a serial killing spree. The story grew darker and darker. This happens all the time. Even my lightest, funniest stories have an element of macabre humour.
[S: Just to emphasis her point Rayne released a new collection of historical stories four days ago, before I could upload this interview onto the site!]
S: I recently bought your book “Writing Scary Scenes” from Amazon. It’s totally awesome and I’ve found it really helpful with tweaking my own writing. When and how did you decide that you were going to write “how-to-write” books?
R: I’ve written how-to write books before, though not under the Rayne Hall name. Some were even bestsellers and got reprinted several times – but that was years ago. They’re out of date and out of print now.
More recently, I’ve been teaching online classes for writers, covering special aspects of the writing craft: Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Polishing Your Writing Style, Writing about Magic and Magicians, Creating Villains, Tighten Your Writing and so on.
I enjoy sharing craft techniques with other writers, especially the kind of advanced techniques that aren’t covered by other classes and how-to-write books. I also enjoy writing non-fiction books, so it made sense to expand the lecture material from the classes into ebooks. So far, I’ve published two – Writing Fight Scenes and Writing Scary Scenes – and more are in the pipeline.
I want my books to equip authors with new tools for their craft.
S: In the past you’ve lead writing workshops. Are you currently still running workshops? If so, what kind of classes and where can writers go to find information about them?
R: For an up-to-date list of upcoming workshops, go to https://sites.google.com/site/writingworkshopswithraynehall/
These are specialist classes for intermediate to advanced-level writers, and for professional authors who are serious about improving their craft skills. They’re not suitable for beginners – nor for the faint-of heart.
S: Are you working on any novels or projects at the moment and can you tell us a bit about them?
R: I always have several projects under way.
At the moment, I’m working on several short stories (horror, fantasy, historical), another fantasy novel set in the Storm Dancer world, and the next non-fiction books in the Writing series.
I’m also editing the Ten Tales series of multi-author short story anthologies.
S: Do you have any advice that you’d like to give aspiring writers?
R: Learn the craft and become the best writer you can possibly be. Study the works of the masters of your genre, get tough critique partners, identify your weaknesses, and improve, improve, improve. Don’t submit or self-publish before your writing is as good as you can make it.