I am so thrilled to be part of this tour because Rabia Gale's novellas rocked my world, Mourning Cloak in particular. Here's my review, and I'm also happy to welcome Rabia for an interview.
Also available from Smashwords
Summary: Kato Vorsok is a man deserted by his god. A failed hero living in exile, he wants nothing to do with his old life.Until the night he encounters a wounded mourning cloak—a demon that can walk through walls, dissolve into mist, and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.She calls him by name. She knows his past. She needs his help.And she is his key to redemption.Mourning Cloak is a science fantasy novella of about 22,000 words.
"One broken being to another broken being. One sick heart to another sick heart. Flutter, I need you to live."
I'm quite sure the word "mind-blowing" was invented for stories like Mourning Cloak. Welcome to a review brimming over with superlatives, because in all honesty, just thinking of Mourning Cloak makes me want to shout praises from the rooftops.
This being my second novella by this author, I learned that Rabia's stories are a special category of unique, a marvelous combination of science fiction and fantasy. Mourning Cloak is a dark but full of hope story of redemption, betrayal and love, exploding with action and magic, but at the same time deeply emotional. Thanks to her immense writing talent and the ability to create outstanding settings and characters, Mourning Cloak reads fast, always on the edge of your seat and with a pang in your chest.
Considering that this is a novella, it's incredible what a long way the story goes, and how rich it is. There is so much packed into these 22 000 words that it feels like a lifetime with Kato and Flutter.
Please say HI to Rabia Gale!
Who (or what) inspires and influences your writing most?
The more I write, the more I find inspiration everywhere. It’s an occupational hazard of being a writer. There’s always a part of me looking at life and thinking, “How can I put this in a book?” or “There’s a story in there somewhere.”
For the science fantasy fiction I’m writing these days, my inspirations are the cartoons of my childhood (Thunder Cats! Mazinger Z! Voltron!) and video games like Skies of Arcadia and Final Fantasy. All these happily mix genres (where else can you find swords alongside laser guns, and princesses flying battle robots?) and emboldened me to throw fantasy and science fiction ingredients together in my stories.
I also return to fairy tales over and over again, mostly to break them. And, because truth is stranger than fiction, I draw inspiration from colorful historical characters, weird scientific discoveries and other cultures.
The worlds and creatures that you describe in your novels are truly unique. What are some fantasy worlds or realms (by other writers) that you enjoy?
Any world with flying habitats is a win in my book. I adore the settings of Skies of Arcadia (video game), Castle in the Sky (Studio Ghibli film) and The Floating Islands, a young adult fantasy by Rachel Neumeier.
The Raksura trilogy by Martha Wells also hits many of my worldbuilding sweet spots. It includes non-human sentient races, especially the Raksura with their unique caste-system, physiology, and culture; giant trees; abandoned flying islands; and a city built upon the back of a magically-controlled sea-monster.
I loved Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan books for their awesome reimagining of World War I technology, including battle robots (oh, yeah!) and bio-weapons. A living airship formed out of a blue whale, with its own eco-system of fléchette attack bats and hydrogen-sniffing canines? How cool is that!
Your novellas have both extraordinary characters and settings. Do you have a favorite "type" of character to write?
I’m a sucker for redemption stories, so many of my characters are burdened by their past. They’ve made terrible mistakes or done awful things, and need that second chance.
It’s often my female protagonists who have the dark past. I enjoy pairing them with thoroughly decent men, the ones who have faults of their own, but are just really good guys.
What comes to you first when you start a new story-a character, a mythical creature, the world?
All my stories start with a lightning strike, a flash of inspiration. It could be a single image, a what-if, a phrase, or perhaps an opening line. Rainbird started out with an image of a girl in the cold, thin air, dancing under the stars. Mourning Cloak is the name of a real butterfly, a name that struck me with its poetry and dark beauty. Whatever the inspiration is, if sets my nerves tingling I know it’s worth pursuing.
Setting and character follow hard on the heels of that initial spark. Sometimes a character will come first, sometimes the setting will. The interaction between character and setting is often ripe with conflict, and I exploit that to create my plot.
Then I write, think, write some more, go off to do something else for a few weeks or months, return and write, finish, get comments, and revise until done.
About the Author
I break fairy tales and fuse fantasy and science fiction. I love to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. In my spare time I read, doodle, eat chocolate, avoid housework, and homeschool my three children. A native of Pakistan, I grew up in hot, humid Karachi. I then spent almost a decade in Northern New England where I learned to love fall, tolerate snow, and be snobbish about maple syrup and sweet corn. I now live in Northern Virginia.
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