I first met Warren Rochelle when he taught a Creative Writing course I took in college. He definitely knew his stuff, and he definitely helped me to become a better writer. A few years ago I read his novel Harvest of Changelings and realized the reason he can teach creative writing so well is because he’s an excellent writer himself. I was very happy to have the opportunity to interview him for my blog.
Q: Do you remember how old you were when you wrote your first story? If so, do you remember what it was about?
A: When I was quite young my mother, who was a secretary at Duke University, brought home used typing paper (yes, back in the days of the typewriter, eons ago) and I would draw stories on the blank sides, long and involved tales. When I try to remember what they were about what comes to mind are transformations.
As for the first written story, 2 stories come to mind—I’m just not quite sure which came first. In third grade I read and fell in love with The Chronicles of Narnia. I wrote my own version, with a High Queen and bucentaurs (people with the bodies of cattle—I found them in some myth book somewhere). In fourth grade, I wrote a tale based on The Island of the Blue Dolphin and the Native American who was abandoned there.
I am pretty sure there were stories written down before that, but those are the two that I first thought about when thinking about this question. I do remember always been excited when creative writing was assigned.
Q: When did you really become serious about writing?
A: In a sense, I have always been serious about writing, but that’s not the question. I was living in Garner, a Raleigh, NC, suburb and working as a school librarian in the Wake County Schools. This was in the early 1980’s. I decided then I wanted to really do this—be a writer, and to really pursue it with a concentrated effort. This led me, a few years later, to go back to graduate school at UNC Greensboro for an MFA in fiction.
Q: What was your first published piece?
A: Below are my first 3 published short stories (outside of undergraduate campus publications). The 1989 story was the first one for which I was paid actual money.
“A Peaceful Heart.” Aboriginal Science Fiction 3.3, #15 (May/June 1989):
“Eyes the Color of Wet Leaves.” Colonnades 31 (Spring 1980): 48-54.
“Her Hands Curved Around the Cup.” Graffiti 10 (Fall 1978): 25-35.
Q: Your fiction seems to fit primarily into the categories of science fiction and fantasy. What draws you to those particular genres?
A: They seem to best fit my imagination and the way I view the world. As Le Guin said at some point, they provide me with an arena, or rather a stage, to best explore the ideas and concepts that interest me the most. In science fiction and fantasy I have found my stories.
Q: Your first published novel was The Wild Boy. Was that the first novel you ever wrote? And did you submit it to many publishers before Golden Gryphon Press?
A: I wrote an absolutely awful one for my undergraduate honors project at UNC-Chapel Hill. I did not get honors. Before Golden Gryphon Press, I submitted The Wild Boy to several other publishers and agents.
Q: You followed up your second novel, Harvest of Changelings, with a sequel, The Called. Was that always planned, or were you simply unable to let go of the characters?
A: No, when I wrote Harvest of Changelings I had no intention of a sequel. I found I wanted to know what happened to them next and to the world after it changed, after magic came back.
Q: What are you working on currently? Can you whet our appetites with any details on the project?
A: I am getting ready to send off a completed novel, The Golden Boy, which grew out of a short story published in The Silver Gryphon back in 2003. I’m also working on a gay-themed collection of short stories, tentatively titled, Happily Ever After and Other Stories—2 more to go: a gay retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and the other is about what happens when a guy falls in love with a graduate anthropology student and learns his lover is not from Here.
The main project is a novel, The Werewolf and His Boy, which grew out of a short story published in Icarus back in 2012, which was inspired by a dream my partner had of a monster in the roof of the local Lowe’s store (“Lowe’s Wolf”).
In the novel, Henry Thorn, the survivor of years of years of foster homes, works at the Lowe’s in Short Pump, just outside Richmond. He has been having disturbing dreams. He is also disturbed by a new Lowe’s employee, the red-haired Jamey Currey. Henry learns that he is a werewolf and that he is falling in love with Jamey.
Jamey, disowned by his conservative parents after his sexuality is discovered, is learning he has powers of his own. He is a godling, a descendant of the old gods, and this means he has certain abilities. It is not enough that the two boys have to work out the complexities of love and a relationship, let alone their new abilities. They also find themselves hunted by an ancient evil. These Watchers were left here by the gods to prevent the disclosure to the mundanes (us, aka muggles) of such creatures as werewolves and godlings. Elimination is the preferred method.
Complications ensue. They do get help from the local witches.
Q: Do you have a particular writing regime, such as always writing at a certain time of day or in a particular location?
A: I try to write in the morning but that doesn’t often happen. So, instead I try to write every day, one way or another.
As for location, here, in my study. Or in my partner’s living room.
Q: Finally, what advice would offer to any young writers out there?
A: A writer reads. Read everything, not just things in your preferred genre. A writer writes. Make it your goal to try and write every day. Don’t give up. Write. Find your story, your worlds, your place, and write. Write.
Many thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed and for sharing it on your blog. Great questions!
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. People should definitely check out your website at http://warrenrochelle.com/
and give your books a read. I think they’ll be glad they did.