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Q&A

His Infernal Juggernaut Cover.jpg
An Interview with Novelist Torey Rain

CLB: What pronouns do you use?

Torey: They/them.  I think it's the most appropriate because of my closeness to the characters.  I feel pangender and sometimes, gender neutral, sometimes gender specific.  It seems the most appropriate for the spectrum of voices I need to conjure when I write.  I think maintaining that identity helps me to create  authenticity and resonance within the work.  

CLB: What’s the fascination with Marie Antoinette?

Torey: Well, it really was a Freddie Mercury situation.  Killer Queen.  It's a story about a woman who is utterly gorgeous, independent and devastating.  I was fascinated by a character that couldn’t ever really be captured and was always fleeting.  What makes her tick?  In the end, the Marie in my story became very real and human, troubled and consumed, not only by the physical struggles (wars and battles) that present themselves, but also caught between expectation and desire for freedom.  In addition to that, I’ve always been fascinated by the fashions and decadence of the French Empire/French Revolution.  I thought that aesthetic would be a perfect jumping off point for world building.  An Empire of the future that looks to the past because they think it’s the epitome of the human race.  They long for “better” days.  They try to reclaim art and architecture that have been lost.  They’re trying to recapture the magic of what was.

CLB: Why was her story important to tell?

Torey: What interested me about Marie was that she owns her own sexuality and her own womb, in effect.  But at what cost?  I was interested in telling the story of a starship captain who doesn’t necessarily want to be a mother and has great fear around being a mother.  I wanted to explore those feelings.  Babies seem to be commodified and fetishized in society.  It’s almost as if those who don’t want to bear children or can’t are made to feel less than in some way.  What is life like for Marie who doesn't want to follow the expectations of her society?  Can she ever escape that expectation?  What if she and her husband aren't on the same page?  It’s unsettling and horrific to me, the pressure.  Marie unravels it for herself throughout the book.

CLB: Why His Infernal Juggernaut?

 

Torey: I suppose it boils down to age old patriarchy and Dark Ages thinking.  More and more now religion rears its ugly head.  In this book, oftentimes like in real life, religion is used as a heavy blunt instrument rather than as a source of true healing.  My wonder is--how do you defend that?  In the end, I wanted to provide for Marie an escape from Dark Ages thinking and dreamed up Hout.  It's a place where she can escape to, where almost anything can happen--a dark, robotic wonderland.  The infernal part of the whole thing is that this fantastical adventure runs in contrast to the unavoidable need of religion/society to force Marie into the ‘the right answer'.  I think that process strips her of the most important parts of herself.   But overall, it’s an anti-box book.  I was fascinated by the idea of putting this newly pregnant woman into what boils down to as an arcade game.  I love putting things that don’t traditionally belong together, together, shaking it up, and just seeing what happens.    It’s definitely a book of non sequiturs, fantasy--an oddity.

CLB: Was writing this book therapy?

 

Torey: Yes.  Writing is my therapy.  It’s a way for me to figure out the world on my own terms.  I guess it's kind of selfish.  I explored a lot of fears.  What if birth control were illegal?  What if a gold clad tyrant controlled the galaxy, backed by the ideology of the Catholic church?  What if past mistakes come back and try to obliterate us?  What if my ability to have a child was stripped away?  What if I could have a baby and didn’t want one?  How would I come to terms with wanting to have my career and a relationship and both just weren’t working out at all?  What if everything I had was taken away from me?  Did I even want it in the first place?  Plus, the fight scenes.  Totally therapeutic. 

CLB: Who inspires you?

Torey: I’m really a classicist.  I’m inspired by classic art and architecture, period fashion.  Mythology.  I love Charles Dickens and Ray Bradbury, Ann Radcliffe and Joan Didion.  A lot of the aesthetics rolling around in my mind for Hout, especially the Volgens and the infernal world of the burning Orzos kingdom were the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.  As the series progresses you will see more elements of classical aesthetic come forward--for better or worse.  Homages to art history and throw backs to classic literature.  These will come to the forefront, but resituated for modern, non-mainstream characters.   

 

CLB: What’s next for the series?

 

Torey: The goal is to tell an overarching story with smaller tales, each with their own main character and also, genre.  The first one was a fantasy/adventure about starship captain Marie Antoinette.  The next will be a spy novel about a gay Intergalactic Intelligence spy who is closeted.  The whole question surrounding this book is why do we remain loyal to certain institutions when they are intolerant towards us and wish us ill?  --That’s the serious through line, but of course it will be framed with plenty of action/adventure, fantastic characters, mystery and intrigue. 

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