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Interview with Reese Hogan (SHROUDED LOYALTIES)

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Reese-Hogan.jpg?resize=200%2C282&ssl=1Reese Hogan (he/they) is a nonbinary transmasc science fiction author from New Mexico. He has published three novels, and the latest, Shrouded Loyalties from Angry Robot, was a Best SFF of August 2019 pick by both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. His short fiction has been published in The Decameron Project and Clockwork, Curses, and Coal, an anthology of steampunk fairy tale retellings.  In addition to writing fiction, Reese is a content writer for the Writing Mastery Academy at www.writingmastery.com.





Welcome back to the Hive, Reese! Let’s start with the basics: tell us about Shrouded Loyalties – why should readers check it out?

Thank you, I’m excited to be here! Shrouded Loyalties might best be described as Stranger Things meets Man In the High Castle: it’s a dieselpunk war novel with submarines and tanks, but also an alternate realm of existence where dangerous Lovecraftian monsters reside. During one of the military’s missions through this “shrouding realm”, as it’s called, two soldiers receive strange marks that give them otherworldly powers. But though the military hopes this will give them the advantage they need to win the war, they don’t know that one of the marked soldiers is an enemy spy…


Can you tell us a bit more about your characters? Do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?

The characters in Shrouded Loyalties are my favorite part. There are three points of view: submariner Mila Blackwood, whose parents died while studying the shrouding realm, leaving her with the overwhelming responsibility of raising her little brother; Klara Yana Hollanelea, the spy who infiltrates Mila’s submarine, who’s on a personal and dangerous mission to find out what happened to her mother; and Andrew Blackwood, Mila’s seventeen year-old brother, whose brilliance could be the key to ending the war, if he hadn’t been left alone on the home front and seduced into collaboration by an enemy soldier.

The joy of writing these three different POVs is that you get to see the other characters through each one’s eyes: Mila’s trust of fellow soldier “Holland”; Klara Yana’s guilt-tinged knowledge of how her partner is using Andrew; Andrew’s resentment at Mila for joining the war and leaving him on his own. I immensely loved writing all three, but my favorite was probably Andrew. On the one hand, he’s a prodigy who’s thinking on a whole other level from everyone around him, but on the other hand, he’s struggling with self-hatred and loneliness so strong that it drives him right into the enemy’s hands. He was a complex and fascinating character to write.


If, like Mila, you could have a special ability, what would yours be?

That’s a tricky question, because more than anything, I’d like the power to make people truly care about and respect one another. It can feel hard to go on sometimes with the constant barrage of hate and controlling behavior in our world, so I would deeply treasure some method of putting compassion and acceptance into people’s hearts, so they didn’t feel the need to try to control and pull others down.

But of course that kind of power would make for a very different book, so on a more sci fi level, I’d love the power to manipulate weather. Living in New Mexico, it is always DRY, and it is often HOT, and many times we are on FIRE, and to have the power to create thunderstorms and rain would literally save lives. Plus it would be an amazing power to have – I’m fascinated by weather in all its forms!


Give us a glimpse into the world of your story – is your world building inspired by anything specific?

The world building of Shrouded Loyalties was inspired by World War 2. While planning it, I was specifically thinking in terms of making a fantasy world that was more modern than what people expect from fantasy. I also appreciated the freedom of adding technology not yet seen in the 1940s, like solar power and stun grenades, to give the world an off-kilter feel. I’m also fascinated by volcanoes and extinction events, so the shrouding realm portion of my world building was inspired by that – an apocalyptic and barren land, unfamiliar stars in the sky, volcanic ash, and haunted but dangerous creatures roaming the wasteland. The relationship between the shrouding realm and the main world in my story mirrors some of the same uncanniness as the characters’ relationships, in that there’s far more beneath the surface than what first meets the eye.


We see such varying opinions from authors when it comes to the time of editing their books. How have you found the editing process? Enjoyable, stressful or satisfying?

A little bit of all three! I hesitate to say I enjoy it more than drafting, but as you move from your earlier drafts into the editing process, there’s a feeling of moving forward; you’re getting to share your book with more people, hearing what worked and what didn’t, and strengthening everything piece by piece to make it the best version possible. For me, there’s always an underlying anxiety while I’m drafting about whether things are working or not, but after getting feedback, I have more clear-cut guidance about where to focus my efforts, and that’s much easier to deal with than vague anxieties. I’ve also found that what people say needs work is never what I expect, which is why it’s so important (and interesting!) to get feedback.


Back in 2019, you told us you were working on a sequel to Shrouded Loyalties, can we expect to see that soon?

Several fans have asked me this, but unfortunately, Shrouded Loyalties didn’t sell quite well enough to earn a sequel. For the time being, my attention is on other projects. But I do have the first several chapters of a sequel written, as well as a detailed synopsis, and I haven’t ruled out the possibility of either self-publishing it down the line or of it getting another chance if a future book of mine takes off.


Fingers firmly crossed for its future!

You also mentioned you were working on a nonfiction piece about Celiac’s Disease. How is this project going?

That one, I’m excited to say, has been published! My daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease at seventeen months, and my article, published on Celiac.com, details our journey from her very first symptoms through three hospital stays, during which her health declined until we almost lost her. We learned many things through that harrowing process that I think could help others, which is why I’m happy to have her story out there. You can read the whole article HERE.


Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress? Have you any upcoming projects which you can share?

I currently have two finished novels. The first one is on submission right now. It’s a near future sci fi thriller in a world where all tech has been outlawed due to fear of technological sentience. When a rogue robot uploads itself into the brain of a young transgender father, he must find a way to remove it before the government finds out, while simultaneously sharing his body and mind with an evolving AI.

My second novel was just sent to my agent. It’s part humor, part horror, part romance and mystery, and 100% gothic, following the exploits of a pansexual necromancer who knows how to summon the dead but not get rid of them. Though it started out as pure guilty pleasure, I’m very proud of the end product and excited to share it with more people.

I also have some new short stories out! During the pandemic, I wrote a fun assassin vs assassin story for Jo Walton’s Decameron Project, titled “Unfinished Tally.” Then last year, I had a story published in an anthology of steampunk fairy tale retellings, Clockwork, Curses, and Coal. My story, “The Balance of Memory”, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. It’s a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, with the siblings portrayed as one being split into two.  And just this month, I have a new story out in A Coup of Owls, Issue 6, called “A Harrowing Tale of the Author’s Plight”—my first full-on comedy story, following a nonbinary dragon hunter’s quest through a humorous modern setting.


One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?

I would love to bring Sisu from Raya and the Last Dragon! I fell in love with her the second I saw her. Her self-deprecating personality, snarkiness, kindness, and trust in people’s goodness would make her a fun and ideal companion for any adventure. In battle, I know she would find a way to prevail that would preserve as many lives as possible, and that her quick thinking and water-like agility would make her virtually impossible to kill.


Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?

I’ll answer that with a quick reference to my favorite band, Linkin Park: their first album depicts a soldier with dragonfly wings, which was designed to represent the hardness of their music blended with the fragility of their themes and lyrics. If you go through their discography, you’ll find that they constantly experimented with different styles and modes of expression, but they always kept that edginess alongside almost painfully personal messages.

This is how I see my writing, and how I hope others will, too. There are hard edges to my writing, always lots of action and frequent strays into dark territory, but every mental battle my characters fight is an exploration of something meaningful to me, whether it’s wondering whether your life has value or discovering the most authentic way to be yourself. I also don’t worry too much about what readers will want to read, and instead follow the themes that fascinate me, which I hope keeps my fans on their toes, because you never know what you’ll get next from me—but you do know that whatever it is, you’ll get the signature Reese Hogan action scenes alongside the dark but hopeful pathways that get me through life, one day at a time.


Thank you so much for joining us today!

Thank you! I was honored to be invited and have had a great time chatting with you!

The post Interview with Reese Hogan (SHROUDED LOYALTIES) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive.

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