Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Q&A with Noah Lemelson


Noah Lemelson is the author of the new novel The Lioness and the Rat Queen. It's the second in his Slickdust Trilogy, which began with The Sightless City.

Q: The Lioness and the Rat Queen is the second in your fantasy series--did you know from the beginning that you'd write a sequel to The Sightless City?  


A: Yes! I actually wrote all three books as one overly-large novel until I realized it made far more sense as a trilogy. So I had rough drafts for book 2 from the start.  


Admittedly I rewrote pretty much 100 percent of it by the end, but it gave me a direction and outline for this story. Initially the story was going to start where this book starts, with the events of book 1 as flashback, but that ended up being too convoluted.  


Q: How did you create the world in which the stories take place?  


A: I wrote up the basis of the setting years ago as a teenager. It’s an amalgamation of various influences from sci-fi and fantasy novels, to video games and other media. At this point it’s grown so much it’s difficult for me to say exactly where each element came from.  


At its core, I was trying to take a fantasy world and ground it in something closer to modernity. I think the post-apocalyptic aspect allowed me to have modern or magical technology but still have a form of wilderness, albeit a mutated one.


Thematically I was trying to answer the question, what happens after the climatic and disastrous battle that occurs in so many sci-fi and fantasy stories? What happens to a world scarred? 


Q: How do you think your character Marcel has changed from one book to the next?


A: A lot, though not as much as he might think. He holds a lot of anger and guilt for being tricked into helping Lazarus, and now wants to excise that by taking the tycoon out.  


However, he’s sort of stuck repeating the same mistake, trying to be a hero like from the pulps he loves to read. He’s just switched genres from noir to Western revenge.  


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the novels?  


A: That’s a good question, because it’s not something I got into my novels with a clear design for. My desire is to tell stories that are engaging in worlds that are interesting.  


I suppose if there is a moral takeaway, it’s that being the “hero” is not a simple thing, and that the world is not split into black and white. Good intentions are important, but they don’t magically make everything work out.  


At the same time, I think we should have empathy for the struggles we all face trying to do the right thing, when the right thing is not always clear or simple.  


Q: What are you working on now?  


A: I have two projects. The first is the final book in the Slickdust Trilogy. I’m taking some risks with this third book, so I’m a bit apprehensive, but also very excited.  


The second project is still under wraps, and may or may not come together. All I can say is that is a very strange novel.  


Also I write short stories and other projects, including a Tabletop RPG featured in this year’s Level 1 Anthology https://www.9thlevel.com/post/2023-level-1-anthology-contributors-announced  


Q: Anything else we should know?  


A: I’ll be doing a book launch this Sept. 15 at Village Well books in Los Angeles (Culver City to precise!). The Lioness and the Rat Queen comes out this August from Tiny Fox Press.  


You can always find my work at Noahlemelson.com and if you want to keep up with my releases as well as news from other talented speculative fiction authors, check the Swordfight & Spaceflights substack https://swordfightsandspaceflights.substack.com/ 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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