Today we are joined by Trace Riles who kindly agreed to answer some questions. Later today I am going to be reviewing Trace’s book Barely Human so look for it later today.
UFR: One of my favorite questions to ask is if you had to choose a theme song for Barely Human what would it be?
TR: That’s a really interesting question. I think I’d have to go with Sweet Surrender from Sarah McLachlan. The lyrics and haunting beauty of her voice speak to me of a difficult journey she didn’t ask for and is powerless to avoid. She’s traveling the path whether she likes it or not so she might as well surrender to it. I think that’s a good parallel for the adventure that Jessie experiences in Barely Human.
UFR: What is Jessie’s favorite movie and why?
TR: Definitely Ridley Scott’s Aliens (1986). I think Jessie would be drawn to Ripley, particularly in the second movie of the Alien franchise. Ripley finds herself the odd person out and not really a part of the team she’s supposed to be leading. She’s tough and she’s smart but mostly she’s scared of making mistakes that will cost more lives. Also, Ripley’s desire to do the right thing no matter how terrified she might be is something that Jessie could relate to.
UFR: If Jessie was in a book club what book would they be reading right now?
TR: Since Jessie is addicted to self-help books I think she’d be reading “Self Matters” by Dr. Phil. In this book Dr. Phil challenges you to look in the mirror, and see who is truly hiding beneath that face. Challenging you to think beyond the fears and excuses that have masked the person you’ve always wanted to be. Honestly, I don’t think Jessie would be able to put this one down.
UFR: Was there any scene or part of this book that was harder to write than the others, and if so why?
TR: Wow, this is hard question to answer without giving away too much. I would have to say chapter two. The original draft of this scene was extremely graphic and difficult to write. It was so scary and sad I knew I had to take it down a notch or two. I wanted to show the mindset of our antagonist without being obscene. But he is an obscene character so getting the balance right was difficult.
UFR: A large part of Jessie’s identity is that she is a cop, why did you choose this profession for her?
TR: I think that Jessie was destined to be a cop. Things that are described in the book from her childhood helped to put her on that path. Also, being a cop would allow her to work with the fringe of society; a place she feels would be the most likely locale to find other people like herself.
The “cop” scenes are written very well did you do any research to accomplish this?
Thank you, I did a LOT of research for this and every other aspect of the book. I have a box filled with reference books, maps, and two huge binders full of information that I pulled together. I had to specifically research the Chicago police since law enforcement varies slightly from State to State and is also different from anything I would know growing up in Canada.
UFR: Jessie finds her “flickering” both annoying and embarrassing; do you have any embarrassing moments you’d like to share?
TR: Wow…and there it is the question that ensures that no matter what I say, I’m not coming out of this looking cool. Actually, I have a pretty good sense of humor which allows me to laugh at myself, something I do quite frequently. I think one of the most embarrassing moments in my life was when a popular guy in school walked up to me and started a conversation. I was so nervous and just couldn’t believe that this beautiful guy was standing there talking to me! He said something funny and I responded by laughing and sneezing on him. So there I stood, mortified, with boogers hanging from my nose watching him laugh as he walked away. A pretty dark day in my world, but thankfully I was able to press on and I’m feeling much better now.
UFR: There seems to be a resurgence in books with angels and demons in them, why did you choose to put demons in the book? Did something specifically interest you or call out to you?
TR: I don’t think the demons in my book are typical of the standard angels and demons genre. I wanted to show that there is more to our world then what we see—there are different realms all interconnected but yet independent of each other. In this story, the demons are the main creatures that live in that particular realm. I think it was my way of saying maybe we aren’t as all-important as we think we are. Even the demons could have merit under the right circumstances.
UFR: Is there a character in this book that has a lot of similar personality traits to yourself, and if who?
TR: I think I would have to say Jessie. She’s insecure at times but is in it for the good fight when it matters. I think that’s a lot like me.
UFR: Who are some of your favorite writers?
TR: When I was younger I couldn’t get enough of Stephen King. In my twenties my tastes started to change a little and I read a lot of Koontz, and John Saul. Then one day I stumbled across a copy of Kelley Armstrong’s “Haunted” in a used book store and from that moment on I never looked back. I read anything of Kelley’s I could get my hands on. I’ve since become a fan of Christine Warren and Kim Harrison.
UFR: Could you tell our audience of aspiring writers what your journey to publication was like?
TR: I’ve been writing on and off since I was a kid. There have been many stories that I started and never finished mostly I think out of fear of rejection. When I got diagnosed with ovarian cancer all thoughts of writing went out the window and the only thing I thought about was getting well.
It took many years after that before I finally gave myself permission to write again—no matter the outcome. I write because I love it and because I have something to say. So one day I woke up and started writing. I set a goal to finish the manuscript and I did. Then I set the goal to send it out to ten agents and I did. I received rejections from each and every one of them. At that point I decided to start sending to publishers that would accept unsolicited, un-agented work. I believe I chose ten again and I received six rejections, and then one acceptance. Funny isn’t it? How it only takes one to change everything. Barely Human found a home at Eirelander Publishing and I’ll be forever grateful. It’s been a fabulously fun and fantastic learning experience.
UFR: Finally, is there anything you want your future readers to know about you or your book?
TR: I think I’d like to say that I understand that everyone’s time is a precious commodity. And although reading is enjoyable, it takes time and effort to read a book. So I’d like to thank everyone who fits me into their lives and wish you all happy reading.
I once again would like to thank Trace Riles for joining us today here on UFR, and even more so for opening herself up and telling us all a little bit about herself. Later on today I will post the review for Barely Human, you don’t want to miss it!