I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree R.D. Vallier today. The highlight of R.D. Vallier’s award-winning career was when her 6th grade teacher threatened to call CPS over a story about a runaway and a magic wolf. She avoided government capture, but continued creating dark tales in secret. Now she’s living the cliché as a storyteller in the remote wilderness, handcrafting an off-grid homestead with straw and mud and whatever she scrounges from the landfill. She holds degrees in wildlife management and hard knocks, only feels at home on the road, and believes humanity illuminates the most brilliantly during darkness.
Tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?
I noticed books which had done well in the various writing contests I was researching had earned indieBRAG Medallions. I looked into indieBRAG, and was happy with what I discovered—an organization which seemed to honestly care about both authors and readers. I liked the concept and agreed with their vision, so I submitted Darkshine!
How did you get into writing in the Paranormal genre?
I adore both paranormal and reality, and my brain tends to naturally mesh the two. I find myself questioning and making up stories about what I see around me. What really goes on inside that storage unit building? Is that graffiti just graffiti, or is it some sort of code? What’s hidden in plain sight? I love bringing an element of magic to the mundane, and believe the fantasy genres in general have tremendous capability to explore humanity.
Please tell me about your award winning book, Darkshine?
Darkshine is a dark urban fantasy/paranormal. The main character, Miriam, has a mundane, adult life, and no social or family connections outside of her emotionally abusive husband. Her whole life she has been treated differently, but it isn’t until a chickadee speaks to her that she begins to understand she is a lost changeling. Two fae–who are complete opposites of each other–try to convince her where her true home is, and each insists the other is lying to destroy her. Miriam goes on a whirlwind adventure, both physically and emotionally, to discover who she is and where she belongs, while staying ahead of her enraged husband who is desperate to keep her silent about truths which can damage his political campaign. Along the way, Miriam needs to confront the preconceptions of dark and light, good and evil, and hopefully choose the answer which will deliver the home she’s always yearned for, instead of her demise.
Will this be part of a series?
Yes. Dark Ember, book 2 in the series, is currently in the editing and beta reader stage. It should be released soon, but I don’t have a date yet.
Tell me a little about Miriam. What are her strengths and weaknesses?
Miriam is a changeling and an intentionally mixed bag, especially early in the story. I often see stories where changelings learn what they are at a young age. I wanted to see what would happen to a changeling discovering who they were after having a spouse, a job, a mortgage, an adult life (and what type of life that would be).
Miriam never excelled in anything, has low self-esteem due to emotional abuse, and is someone who people treat as a chore to deal with. I wanted to write an “average” character who suffered social ostracism, and who had never experienced much good in life. But I also wanted a character where the reader had to question whether her background was a weakness which hindered her (as she always believed), or a strength to build upon and draw conviction. Thus, her weaknesses are also her strengths, melded together, which I feel is closer to reality. As people, our failings and shortcomings, while they do hold us back in some ways, often drive us forward in others. I often see books where the characters have specific weaknesses or strengths, and those aspects are written throughout the book as solely weaknesses or strengths. I sought to break that concept of static attributes, and instead strove to create an amalgam where each was both simultaneously. Where a beaten down woman can stand up, fight back, falter and still strive to overcome where others would give up, all drawing upon the myriad of experiences which brought her to this point. Thus, her strengths are found in accepting her weaknesses, fighting the internal voices of those who insist she could never amount to anything and that she is an unlovable failure. Her strengths are found in discovering that her shortcomings do not need to hold her down, she can move forward despite pain and fear, and her weaknesses only overpower her while she allows it.
Did you face any challenges writing this story?
Darkshine is what I called “my throw away novel.” I went into it giving myself permission to break a lot of rules (well, what I then considered rules, anyway), to explore ideas and themes I had, and to see what would develop. As Darkshine started morphing into a novel instead of a writing exercise, I had to keep preventing myself from writing the story I thought I should tell, and keep on telling the story I wanted to know. I fought a lot of internal programming, and in doing so found my style and voice and a story I love. It is a challenge I will forever be grateful for.
In addition, I explored a lot of my own past suffering to capture the tone I wanted for various scenes, making myself relive the memories over and over. To this day I have trouble reading some scenes in Darkshine because it calls up those personal memories I used. But in the end, I love the result, which makes me feel gratitude for those past grievances. This is as uncomfortable as it is freeing, and a continuous emotional challenge.
Where can readers buy your book?
Currently, Darkshine is available as an e-book at all major retailers. I just took it off Kindle Unlimited, and I’m unsure when or if it will return in the future. As a paperback, Darkshine is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Most private bookstores will order it in as well.
What is your current writing project?
I’m currently working on Dark Cinders, book 3 in the Darkshine series. I’ve always seen the story as a trilogy, so I hope this will be the final book, but there is a possibility it will be split into two books.
I’m also working on a series of free Darkshine short stories, going more into the background and hidden drives of the various characters. I will be releasing these only to people who have joined my email subscription. http://www.tinyurl.com/darkshineemail
How did you get into writing?
I’ve always considered myself a storyteller in various forms. My early focus was on comic book story and illustration, but I eventually discovered my ideas were too in-depth for this medium, and I couldn’t explore the inner journey as much as I wanted. I then shifted my focus, learning how to write novels instead. And here I am!
Is there a message you would like to give your readers?
Darkshine can be read as a fun adventure, but can also be dissected as a fictitious analogy of cultural and sociopolitical viewpoints, and life under different governing bodies throughout history, through which the main characters gain their own independence and honesty. This is all crafted into the background to remain unobtrusive and out of sight for the reader who simply wants to be whisked away to a dark fairytale, and who doesn’t want to think about politics or governments or whatnot. (Books where such details are in-your-face have always turned me off.) Foremost, I wrote the book to be an entertaining fantasy. Yet it is also written to have deeper substance, and for those who want more, it is there. I’ve had numerous readers tell me they were surprised with what they initially missed, and that they enjoyed a “different” story the second time through.
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview R.D. Vallier who is the author of, DARKSHONE, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, DARKSHINE, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.