Thursday, August 23, 2012

An Interview with author Red Tash

Bio: Red Tash is a journalist-turned-novelist of dark fantasy for readers of all ages. Monsters, SciFi, wizards, trolls, fairies, and roller derby lightly sautéed in a Southern/Midwestern sauce hand-canned from her mama’s recipes await you in her pantry of readerly delights. Y’all come, anytime.

Please welcome fellow Kentucky-born author Red Tash to Unwritten! Take a load off, sip some sweet tea, and kick off your flip-flops, Red. Give us the scoop on the woman behind the screen. Where are you from and what do you do when you're not a "teller of tales"?

I am from Southern Indiana, born in Louisville.  I've lived on both sides of the river & thusly consider myself "bilingual."  I grew up in Sellersburg, IN & live in New Albany for the moment.  When I'm not telling tales, I'm homeschooling three ninjas and wrestling one monkey:  I used to write a newspaper column in the local papers that was syndicated nationally, called Guerilla Mothering, under my real (former) name.  The bigger the kids get (and the more I have, hello!) the harder it is to keep with all *I* want to do, so pretty much, either I'm trying to fit in some quality time with my husband, the coolest guy in the world, I'm being a mom, or I'm writing.  And that's more work than I can handle right now!

Red was so generous to offer some copies of her latest release, Troll or Derby to my 20,000th Hit Giveaway. The blurb goes something like this:
Buy it HERE!
In Troll Or Derby, fifteen-year-old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and for being different. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she's grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and the blonde temptress April, forever?
This book explores a fantastically chaotic, and rockin', world of roller derbies, so I have to ask...have you ever participated in a roller derby league, and how did you come up with that idea?

I did.  I was Tyra Durden of the Derby City Rollergirls here in Louisville, KY, and of TeamMILF at RollerCon 2008  The league was still rather young and there weren't any B team opportunities at the time, so I was basically a punching bag on skates for the younger, more athletic players, but it was a lot of fun.  I'd never been obsessed with a sport before.  Dance?  Yes.  Theatre?  Yes.  Writing?  Of course.  But never a sport.  Falling in love with roller derby was a more passionate experience than most in my life, with the exception of meeting all four of my children and falling in love with my husband.  Roller derby simply takes over your life.  NO ONE plays it casually.  It's impossible to do.  So, as addictive as it, was naturally it took over my work-in-progress at the time, which had started as simply a girl-meets-troll story.  It quickly turned into much, much more.  The girl turned into a fairy, the roller derby was put together by an evil troll drug dealer, and it really took on a life of its own from there.

Tell us a little about your first novel, This Brilliant Darkness. 

It's hard to tell just a little about it, but here's the intro to the excerpt:

This Brilliant Darkness is a dark fantasy, and my first novel.  It was released on in September 2011, where it climbed the Dark Fantasy charts, eventually breaking the Top 20 for sales, and remaining in the Top 10 for Top-rated Dark Fantasy as of this writing.

It's kind of a weird little book, but I'm quite satisfied with it.  Part poetry, part horror, part science fiction, all karmic headtrip and 100% fast-fast-fast, it took me seven years to build it up and tear it down.  
It's a difficult work to pull excerpts from, because you move so quickly as a reader from character to character, diving head-first toward the climax from page one.  Still, here's a bit I managed to share one Sample Sunday last fall.  Hopefully you'll enjoy this peak inside the mind of our designated "baddie," the ageless monster Greachin.  (If  not, you might give it a try, anyway--maybe one of the other characters will ring your bell.)
In this sample, Greachin is still in a very young host body that he’s tailor-making to scare the wits out of our hapless heroine, Christine Grace.
Buy it HERE!
     It was a matter of hours before he could take flight into the darkness, on the hunt for the woman. He could manage a few miles, if he stopped to rest on the way. A few miles were all he needed.
     The woman’s pulse was calling him, but not from these woods. He’d found her scent in this locale, but except for his finding a host, it had been a dead end.
     Well, she’d found a dead end, too, hadn’t she?     A smile flickered across his dimpled cheeks, and faded as he turned his head in the direction of his target’s beating heart.
     Christine Grace had been here, definitely, but this was not her forest.
     He closed his eyes, tilting his crested head to one leathery shoulder. He could hear the rattle of branches in a canopy across the nearby town. He was on the outskirts and she waited in the center, radiating a signal that burned in him, impossible to ignore.
     Her ruah beat upward and out, into the woods, her scent wrapping languidly around her own trees, then carried to him on the breeze.
     Greachin hummed, unconsciously leaning into the direction of her spirit, as the woman walked briskly across a hard paved path. His ruah flapped enormous wings high above her, then dove.
     Too soon. Not yet.     His small physical eyes opened, and he wrenched himself upright. He had gone too far, too fast into the scent, into the pulse. He wrapped his chubby baby legs around the branch of the ash.
    An insect bored into the trunk, and Greachin leaned forward, pawing at the emerald green bug with his tender talons.
     Hunger. Torture.     Eating was a trick. Greachin leaned forward on the branch, his supple lips sucking the insect’s spindly body into his mouth, raking the exoskeleton across his burning gums. His pointed teeth strained to burst through blackening flesh.
     Distasteful mealTeething, too. The scare had better be worth it.     Greachin mused over the power of fear as he munched another emerald ash borer.
     And eating.     The humans seemed to love eating, making great rituals out of it, but Greachin had never understood their celebrations. Meals, hugging, kissing, shaking hands—and the mating. Oh, what a ritual surprise that was. The fruitless mating.

Debates are raging online (as they tend to do) over self-publishing (indie) vs. traditional publication. If I'm not mistaken, you are an indie author. What made you decide to go that route?

I was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist.  I was accustomed to seeing my name plastered across a lot of newspapers, and thusly, getting feedback on my columns from readers all over the country.  I did the query-go-round and the conference circuit just like everyone else, but at this point in time, I see little reason to continue that route.  1.) Agents and publishers have become even more selective, and there's more competition than ever to reach them 2.) The benefits of an advance + marketing push are shrinking 3.) I'm not bad at marketing 4.) Most editors and cover designers don't have as much experience with writing/editing/page design as I do and 5.) I wanted to hear from my readers before I was too old to enjoy the benefits of having built a career around pleasing them.  Frankly, I love hearing what they love about my work.  It pushes me to do more.  Again, I was spoiled by having success as a newspaper girl, and before that, a blogger.  After a decade of having people log in every day to hear what I had to say, it was kind of unimaginable that I'd start all over again submitting and querying and submitting and querying and die an unheard voice on the fiction landscape--that's where my heart is, it's where my dream takes wings and flies, it's what I LOVE!  

I don't like being tarred with the same brush as the goofs who bash out a bunch of badly-written crap and then hit "submit," but in my experience, that kind of stuff doesn't get tons of exposure, anyway.  There are a sea of talented indies out there and I am most definitely not ashamed to be among them.  

Would I still like a big advance and a three-book deal?  OF COURSE!  But the longer the traditional publishers sit back waiting to see if I'm a worthwhile bet or not, the bigger that advance requirement becomes, because every month my sales and my reach grow.  Especially since releasing Troll Or Derby in June.  

Random question comin' at ya! What did you eat for lunch today, and would you recommend it to our readers?

Some badly-burned quesadillas, actually.  And, no.  Def. would not recommend!  But it has been a busy day and I'll scarf down whatever at this point.

My humblest thanks from one Southern girl to another. May your books sell like hotcakes and your sweet tea hold up a spoon!

Amen, girl!


  1. Thanks for having me! I appreciate it! Perfect interview length, Mysti.

  2. Very cool! I've always been fascinated with roller derbies.

  3. Awesome interview. Great to learn a little bit about someone who seems to be a very interesting and talented author. "evil troll drug dealer" wow that takes some immagination!


  4. A great interview. Enjoyed meeting Red an learning more about her life and loves! Nice interview, Mysti. Bette A. Stevens


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