Author Interview - Rene Astle (aka C. Rene Astle)

Author Interview - Rene Astle (aka C. Rene Astle)

Yes, that’s really me. I believe that’s my dad’s finger telling me I should be looking at the camera. This is the only picture from the photo booth, so I guess I decided I wasn’t going to do that.

I think I’ve always been an author. Or at least a creator of worlds. Not my earliest memory but one from maybe late elementary school has me lying on the living room floor with a ceramic lobster and a couple of stuffed animals. In front of me was an old school tape recorder on which I was recording an undersea news radio program all by my lonesome, with voices and everything.

I came to science fiction and fantasy early as well. My mom reading either The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Hobbit as a bedtime story is one of my earliest memories. I mention in my bio that between that and my dad’s interest in science and space, I was destined to be a sci-fi and fantasy writer.

I wrote throughout my childhood. Then I went to university and it all ground to a halt. I still wrote, but I wrote about books rather than writing them myself.

Q: What inspired you to write your latest series?
A lot of my stories start with a scene in my head. I don’t know anything about the characters or the setting, but the story builds as I ask questions about them, where they are, and what they’re doing there. Sometimes there is no story there, but in the case of The Lyra Cycle there was. That scene had a ship’s engineer, a muscled-bound fighter, and a slight crew member with hair falling over his eyes: Tink, Alek, and Ish. In the end that scene didn’t make it into the book. The story evolved as I got to know the characters.

The Bloodborne Pathogens series (which I write under my super secret pen name) started in a similar way, although in this case this scene occurred in a dream. There was a vampire escaping into a church – what? Why?

Q: Super secret pen name?
When publishing my first book, I had this thought that I shouldn’t publish under my own name, so I came up with a sort of pen name: C. Rene Astle. When I published sci-fi, “they” recommended that I shouldn’t use the same name as for the urban fantasy. I realized that was going to be too much trouble, so I kept my sci-fi name mostly the same but simplified. I should have just used one name from the start. Lessons learned.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing sci-fi and fantasy? Reading it?
As a writer, I love the opportunity it gives me to explore worlds that don’t exist and make up new creatures, or let me riff on mythological monsters. There are lots of books that allow me to explore whole new worlds even a non-fiction book about cycling the Silk Road but that's especially true with sci-fi and fantasy books.

Q: As a reader, what draws you to a book?
I am absolutely a sucker for a good cover.

I absolutely picked up Cinder (from Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles) because of the illustrated cover. Same with Persephone Station by Stina Leicht. And Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty … though I did also have a recommendation on this one. I see a commonality in these three.

Though I also grabbed A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine based on a cover (very different from the above three) + recommendation combo. I loved the grandness of it.

I’m sure there are others I can’t think of right now. Every year, I say I’m going to track the books I read … and every year I fail.

Q: If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book set in that place, where would you choose?
Oh, that’s a good question, and a hard one to answer. If I have to choose a place, I’d probably say Istanbul. There’s so much history there, and it’s at a crossroads of worlds and cultures. I’d love to visit Gobekli Tepi and Çatalhöyük while I was in Turkey. And then there’s the food.

Hmm, I’m not sure I’d actually get much writing done.

Q: What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
I sew and crochet. I ferment things (non-alcoholic) and grow beans (as well as some other things). I love jigsaw puzzles. Not a lot of that comes through in what I write. It feels like those should be the hobbies for a cozy mystery author … though I want to write a sci-fi cozy mystery!

Q: What’s on your TBR shelf?
I recently picked up Redshirts by John Scalzi, so that's on the list. And I have to finished the Murderbot series almost there! I love that series; I'll be sad when it's over. I actually need to go book shopping since the books on my physical TBR shelf are falling over because there aren't enough of them.

Q: What’s up next for you as a writer?
Well, I need to write book 4 in The Lyra Cycle. It's wrapping up in a few books, though I absolutely want to write more in that universe. There are so many side characters that I've fallen in love with – I have a space archaeologist out there discovering stuff! I recently finished what I named "Grim's Tale", Grim being the cat on the Lyra. However, Grim was more of a side character still but I did have a character from the main series show up.

I have a completely unrelated non sci-fi story that I'm writing right now. I had the idea and I needed to write it.

And I have a spin-off from my urban fantasy series to write. It follows one of the characters from that series as she sets out on her own.


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