Speculative fiction
Five Questions for Rhoads Brazos

Five Questions for Rhoads Brazos

Author of “Deux ex Noir” (Other)


How long have you been writing? Do you write genres other than speculative fiction?

I’ve been publishing stories for the last five years. I’m a daydreamer, so sometimes my stories are vicarious. (Let’s not call them wish fulfillment.) They’re more of an escape from the mundane. I’m almost compelled to write them down just to get them out of my head. Otherwise, they can be distracting. There’s something about seeing your words in print that makes them feel very final. And then you’re able to move on.

I write every genre that falls under spec-fic. There isn’t one I avoid. Sci-fi, fantasy, dark-fantasy, grimdark, every shade of horror. Particularly horror. Sometimes it feels like it’s the most publishable. I’m not sure why that is. There are more anthologies? I really like oddball magical realism where the world is turned on its head, but those pieces are harder to get out there. (At least they are for me.)

As for moving outside of spec-fic, I’ve written my share of literary fiction. I have the highest respect for authors that can pull that off convincingly. It isn’t easy. I’ve written Regency too. You’d be surprised how well that meshes with horror. Not paranormal romance, as in the viscount is a handsome vampire with a heart of gold, but more along the lines of society-of-manners stories that begin giddily buoyant before sinking into darkness. I love those.

What are some of your literary influences?

Dumas. His stories have endured so well because they’re episodic. Every chapter ends perfectly, right where you wish it wouldn’t, because now you have to keep reading. He knew how to close a scene. Or to not close it, if that makes sense.

Chuck Palahniuk. I love his aggression and color. His voice is one hundred percent confident.

P.G. Wodehouse. His dry wit is just genius. I love it when Jeeves “trickles into the room” along with all the cheerio-and-pip-pip speak. Sometimes I wish the world were like that.

Clive Barker. For how dark Barker is, he’s such a poet. I think it may be the British in him. They have a way of phrasing that’s so pleasant to the ear, even when they’re speaking nightmares. Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman have the same gift. I guess I should mention that Dahl’s short stories are not for kids. A lot of people don’t know he has adult stories out there.

Nathan Ballingrud is a genius. He’s my favorite modern-day writer. Everything I’ve ever read by him flows perfectly. He’s quietly profound. What’s always so surprising is how simple the story should be, and yet how complex it becomes when his characters move through it.

Dan Abnett. Abnett writes cinematically. You feel like you’re watching the novel on the big screen. Not just the visuals he creates, but the landscapes and the characters too. Some of those characters don’t last long. He can be quite cruel. But you always find yourself wishing they’d endure. He establishes even the most minor character so quickly. He does it with a deft flourish, before you even realize what he’s done. He knows how to pull a reader in and not let go.

What’s on your to-be-read list right now?

 Paolo Bacigalupi. A fellow Coloradan, his story “The People of Sand and Slag” is one of my favorites. Bio-punk, how’s that for a genre? It’s hard to describe, but it has a certain weight to the description. I have his short story collection “Pump Six and Other Stories,” and I plan on getting to that very soon.

Jeff VanderMeer. I need to get to the Southern Reach trilogy before the movie comes out. That way I can say I read it first. It still counts, honest!

Jeremy Robert Johnson. His short stories are just stunning, but not for those who like to look away. He reminds me of Palahniuk in many ways, only horrific beyond words. Once again visceral and poetic. His short, “The Oarsman,” is so broad in its description. You see the big stage. I like stories like that.

The O. Henry Prize Stories. I like reading lit-fic for its elegance, and this is my favorite “Best-of” series. I read these as an author because every sentence sings. It’s like watching a concert pianist who leans back and plays with his eyes closed. Though I don’t doubt how much work went into trimming and shaping each work, the effortlessness of the stories is just astounding.

I’ve been trying to read all the Pulitzer novels too. If I ever finish them, I’ll move on to the runners up.

Are there themes that you find recurring in your work?

Religious themes show up a lot. Western religion is a gold mine for me. A lot of publishers these days don’t want that directly, but I almost always use them. I bury them deep in the story. The non-Western religions are usually closer to the surface. I’ve done Aboriginal, Incan, Aztec, Shinto, and the standard Norse and Greek along with new amalgamations that don’t really have a culture to call home.

Were you drawn to the Egyptian mythos on account of its likely novelty to the audience, or did you feel there was a certain emotional temperature of the stories that blended well with your noir baseline?

I really wanted something unique and didn’t want to deal with anything I’ve done before. I don’t think I’ve ever written an Egyptian myth before, but I also wanted a story where the characters were opposites. I needed a woman who was a socialite to play opposite the MC. Egyptian worked really well with that. It has the rigidness of castes so that a character can be the MC’s social better. That gave him more room to be surly, which was more fun for me and for the readers too, I hope.

You can read Rhoads Brazos’ story in Metaphorosis Magazine, “. . . and now He erases” for free online.

For more about Rhoads Brazos:

Amazon webpage: https://www.amazon.com/Rhoads-Brazos/e/B00TBK80WU


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