Yesterday was the official release date for Shades of Green by Rhonda Parrish. She was kind enough to agree to be interviewed by email about it. You can learn more about Rhonda and her work on her web site at http://www.rhondaparrish.com.
Amber: Shades of Green takes place in Aphanasia in 1690. This is a world you created. How many stories have you currently written about Aphanasians?
Rhonda: A lot. I’m not trying to be vague, but I’m not actually sure of the number. In addition to Shades of Green only three others have been published (Sister Margaret, There’s Always a Catch and The Legend of the First Reptar) but I have more sitting on my hard drive.
Amber: How far along Aphanasia’s timeline do your stories take place?
Rhonda: There is a very long span. The Legend of the First Reptar takes place prehistory, as you noted Shades of Green takes place in 1690 and my current WIP takes place a couple hundred years after that. It’s a lot of fun to be able to write a story set in different points of a world’s life cycle. I hope to eventually have something written that is set in all the major time periods of Aphanasia.
Amber: The novelette mentions swamp fever, battles between races, and a curse that reanimates the dead. Is there ever a Golden Age in Aphanasia?
Rhonda: What fun would that be? 🙂 The truthful answer is, not in any sort of universal way. Like in reality certain aspects of life, or specific races might have a golden age, but the whole world is never sharing in one great utopian period. The Reptars’, for example, lived their golden age long before the time period in which Shades of Green is set. At that time they were the most technologically advanced race in Aphanasia but now…well, things don’t look too good for them.
Amber: I enjoyed reading the scenes of the Reptars’ everyday life – they clean their dishes and eat dinner together as a family. Did you purposely try to not make them foreign or alien-like?
Rhonda: I don’t know how conscious those things were, actually. I did want the Reptar to be somewhat relatable so I didn’t want them to be too foreign, but I don’t remember sitting down and actually thinking about ways I could achieve that. Perhaps I should have LOL The problem with a good interview question is that it makes you think, and now I’m wondering if perhaps I might have made them a little bit too human. Hmmm. Thanks, Amber, this one is going to be plaguing my brain for a while to come.
Amber: The main character, Z’Thandra, is the last Swamp Elf. Did it ever occur to her to try and find other types of Elves or was Aphanasia only inhabited by Swamp Elves?
Rhonda: There are other types of elves in Aphanasia, but I don’t think Z’thandra could survive on her own outside of the swamp. It’s all she knows. She would be lost in anywhere else.
Amber: How did you come up with the brilliant title? It refers to so many things in the story including the jealousy felt by Orga. I think most readers can identify with that feeling.
Rhonda: Oh my goodness, the title was such a huge pain in the butt. Seriously. There’s a pretty long story there. When I first submitted it the story was called “A Love Story”. It wasn’t a title I was particularly happy with, but it seemed appropriate and referred (to me) to more than just the obvious ‘love’. My publisher, hated it. From the start he was like “I love this story, but the title? It has to go.” We batted some ideas back and forth and eventually settled on Shades of Green. I’m glad we did, I think it’s better suited to the story than “A Love Story” was and you picked up on exactly why. It touches on so many parts of the story, the colors of the swamp, or people’s eyes, or reptar’s scales as well as more intangible things like Orga’s feelings for Z’thandra. I’m glad you liked it 🙂
Amber: Many writers say the real writing begins with editing and multiple drafts. How long did you work on the novelette before you decided to find a publisher?
Rhonda: Shades of Green was revised less than most of my work, but even so, I’d been working on it for quite a long time. It started out as ¼ of a novel-in-stories I’ve been working on for a couple years. I wrote the first draft as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2007. After revising the novel-in-stories I decided that it didn’t work in that format and tore it apart and re-revised it to be four separate pieces (including Shades of Green). It was after that point I decided to find a publisher for it and was incredibly lucky in that it was accepted by the first one I sent it to. There’s always micro-revision that goes on as well, of course, right up until the time it goes to the printers.
Amber: Your writing is available in various lengths and formats (short stories, novels, poetry, and so on). Does the variety keep you energized to keep pushing ahead?
Rhonda: It really does. I have stories I want to tell, and if one format doesn’t suit a particular tale it’s fabulous to be able to move on to a different one that does. Also, I tend to have a short attention span so being able to do shorter pieces while I’m working on a novel, for example, keeps me (usually) from becoming distracted by a new novel idea and dashing off to write it while leaving the WIP to gather dust.
Amber: Are there any upcoming publications in the near future?
Rhonda: I have a short story, “Share”, which will be included in the Trafficking in Magic / Magicking in Traffic anthology from Drollerie Press. I’m incredibly excited about that because Drollerie has long been on the list of publishers I wanted to work with, and I’m pretty fond of my story too.
Amber: Is there a new project you’re working on?
Rhonda: There are three major ones at the moment. The first is a chapbook of zombie poetry, the second are extensive revisions on another ¼ of the novel-in-stories Shades of Green was once a part of. Lastly, I’m working on the first draft of a novel I’m very excited about. It’s also set in Aphanasia and is currently titled See The Sky Again.
Title: Shades of Green
Author: Rhonda Parrish
Publisher: Sam’s Dot Publishing available at The Genre Mall
Z’thandra, the last swamp elf in Aphanasia, lives with the Reptar, a fierce race of lizard-people, most of whom resent her presence and want her gone from their village. When she discovers a human in the swamp and falls in love with him she must face the most difficult decision of her life. Will she pursue a life of happiness with the man she loves and in doing so condemn the Reptar to extinction, or will she chose to sacrifice her future to offer them hope? In the end the choice she makes will affect the Reptar for generations.
I believe the cover does a good job matching up with the synopsis. It shows Z’thandra with the man she loves and a Reptar in the background. I’m not sure if the Reptar is angry or fierce-looking but I would think twice before purposely crossing paths with one.
Z’thandra has no choice though. Her adoptive parents are Reptars so she sees them every day. They do give her a little more attention than their birth daughter but Z’thandra does them kind favors in return. She doesn’t take them or their love for granted.
The Reptars were once a technologically advanced race. Z’thandra’slife would be a little bit better if they would fix the indoor plumbing. She bears all her hardship with more grace than the Reptars who barely tolerate her presence. The wounds caused by racial wars have not healed.
By the time Z’thandra meets Dorian, the human, and falls in love with him, it’s easy to see Z’thandra’s future with the Reptars is a bleak one. Without her adoptive parents’ protection Z’thandra may not even have a future with the Reptars. The reader really wants her to be selfish and run off with him. It doesn’t matter that she would be running from something instead of to something even though such romances usually don’t end well.
The ending is a bit of a surprise but it’s what sets the story apart from similar tales. It ties things up neatly in a way that isn’t obvious on a first reading. If you want to lose yourself in the story of the last Swamp Elf for an hour or two this is the novelette to pick up.
Come back tomorrow for my interview with Rhonda Parrish to learn more about Rhonda and Shades of Green.