Arianne “Tex” Thompson is a home-grown Texas success story. A relentless fantasy enthusiast dual-wielding a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in literature, Tex has since channeled her interests into an epic fantasy Western series, which kicked off in 2014 with the release of ONE NIGHT IN SIXES and its 2015 sequel, MEDICINE FOR THE DEAD. In addition to writing cowboys-and-fishmen fantasy, she is an active member of SFWA, and currently serves as editor for the DFW Writers Conference.
So, Tex, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
Well, on my business cards, I’ve put myself down as a ‘rural fantasy’ author, freelance editor, and comma placement specialist. But the short story is, some people pay me to write cowboys-and-fishmen stories, and other people pay me to help them with THEIR stories. The big secret is that I love both of these things so much that I would probably do them for free 🙂
Pitch your latest book to the world at large in 100 words.
Well, Medicine for the Dead is basically Lord of the Rings, if Frodo and Sam were Native Americans, and the One Ring was a corpse getting riper by the day, and the quest involved getting said corpse through Mordor and home for burial without getting killed by demons, drought, or those peculiar noises coming from inside the coffin…
What aspects of writing to do you find the most tricky?
For me, the toughest part is time management. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want to go through the wardrobe into Narnia until I’ve gotten absolutely everything else off my plate, and can afford to spend a whole weekend there. Unfortunately, this kind of dessert-last thinking doesn’t work too well, because if you treat writing like a treat – something you get to enjoy every once in awhile, in moderation, if you’ve been especially good – you won’t get to do it much at all.
Do you have a soundtrack for your work?
I really need to make one! And when I do, I can promise it’ll have Murray Head’s One Night in Bangkok, the country-western remix of the Game of Thrones theme, and an embarrassing amount of old Super Nintendo RPG tracks.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing, and does it come in useful for your stories?
Helping out with the DFW Writers Conference and reviewing sci-fi and fantasy novels definitely does! Watching My Little Pony and luxuriating in my cat’s belly fur, not so much 🙂
What one genre/plot cliché would you get rid of?
I have to say, it really bothers me how often we use ‘magical’ differences to stand in for real-life ones. Yes, I get that the hero/ine who’s picked on because they can’t use magic or have different-colored eyes is meant to be an avatar for a reader who gets picked on because they’re fat, or disabled, or gay, and that’s fine– but it’s not enough. We need to be able to see ourselves in our heroes, which means we need heroes who are actual, honest-to-God fat people, gay people, disabled people. The allegorical stuff alone doesn’t cut it.
What is the oddest fact you have ever unearthed when researching a book?
DID YOU KNOW that the frontier slang for meringue (like the foamy stuff on top of a pie) is ‘calf slobbers’? True story!
Who are some of your favourite authors and what is it about their work that appeals?
Well, this might sound strange, but Terry Pratchett and William Faulkner are two of my favorites – and they actually have a lot in common. I love their sharp turns of phrase, and how they can bring a place to life. More than that, though, I love how they treat every character as a fully-realized person. There are good characters in their books and bad ones, big roles and small ones, but nobody is a straw man or a punching bag or a stereotype. Any author who gives that kind of love and respect even to their villains and bit parts is someone I admire.
What are you currently reading?
I am about halfway through J.K. Cheney’s The Seat of Magic, and absolutely over the moon about it. Murder, intrigue, romance, corsets, and turn-of-the-century Portuguese fish-people – what else could anyone need?
Your favourite quote from any book.
Well, there’s a part in Norton Juster’s children’s fantasy novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, in which our heroes have been charmed by a handsome, faceless stranger into doing apparently pointless tasks. Too late, they realize they’ve been caught by the Terrible Trivium, the self-proclaimed “demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.” And he’s terrible indeed:
“Now do come and stay with me. We’ll have so much fun together. There are things to fill and things to empty, things to take away and things to bring back, things to pick up and things to put down, and besides all that we have pencils to sharpen, holes to dig, nails to straighten, stamps to lick, and ever so much more. Why, if you stay here, you’ll never have to think again—and with a little practice you can become a monster of habit, too.”
That was intriguing when I read it as a child, but as an adult, it sears my soul. It’s so, so easy to get caught up in the chores, the routines, the to-do lists – to be sedated by our habits, and drowned in our obligations. To me, all great art is a knock-down drag-out fight against that creeping complacency, a life-and-death struggle to hold on to ourselves as the world wears us down.
Find Tex online at:
http://www.thetexfiles.com and on Twitter as @tex_maam!
Two years ago, the crow-god Marhuk sent his grandson to Sixes.
Two nights ago, a stranger picked up his gun and shot him.
Two hours ago, the funeral party set out for the holy city of Atali’Krah, braving the wastelands to bring home the body of Dulei Marhuk.
Out in the wastes, one more corpse should hardly make a difference. But the blighted landscape has been ravaged by drought, twisted by violence, and warped by magic – and no-one is immune. Vuchak struggles to keep the party safe from monsters, marauders, and his own troubled mind. Weisei is being eaten alive by a strange illness. And fearful, guilt-wracked Elim hopes he’s only imagining the sounds coming from Dulei’s coffin.
As their supplies dwindle and tensions mount, the desert exacts a terrible price from its pilgrims – one that will be paid with the blood of the living, and the peace of the dead.