Interview with Teresa Frohock
This week I’m asking five different questions to five different authors. Anthony Ryan and Kameron Hurley have already taken their turn. Next to search frantically for somewhere to hide is Teresa Frohock, author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and numerous short stories. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, contains all three novellas: In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death in one convenient book.
Hi Teresa, thanks for dropping by.
1. As with my other interviewees, I’ll start with an easy question. What are your thoughts on the theory of “rainbow gravity”, which suggests that the universe stretches back into time infinitely? See, nice and easy.
Okay. Stay with me now and I'll try to explain this.
The “rainbow gravity” is the theory that rainbow gravity affects different wavelengths in the same way that a prism affects light. Think about a prism and how the light going in on one side is white, but when it comes out on the other side, it is multi-colored. Scientists use the rainbow theory in an attempt to prove there was no Big Bang (except for the television series, which scientists seem to like), because the Big Bang theory (the scientific one, not the television show) calls for all wavelengths of light to be impacted, to some extent, by gravity.*
The upshot of it is that the ability of gravity to affect wavelengths would be very difficult on earth, because of earth's low gravity, but in places of high gravity, such a black hole, creatures such as Rainbow Brite and her Color Kids can slip into the world through a prism and alter the world with color and love.
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Portions of this answer were shamelessly plagiarized from Wikipedia, except for the part about Rainbow Brite coming through black holes—I made that up.]
2. Both Miserere and Los Nefilim are set against a struggle between the forces of Heaven and Hell. What attracted you to write books about angels and demons?
I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church, where instead of stories about the baby Jesus and little lambs, we were told about demons and hell. Once a week. Every week. For my entire childhood. Eventually, it screws with your mind in weird and subtle ways. I wanted proof that these creatures existed—not lambs, or babies named Jesus, but actual demons and angels.
What I found was: there is no proof. So I started doing what everyone else was doing and made up tales to fill in the blanks.
No proof of demons? Then what is this figure on my shoulder that keeps telling me to eat chocolate?
3. You mention on your blog that you have conducted research into demons and demonology, and that this research included the study of such light-hearted texts as Satan’s Rhetoric and In the Company of Demons. When guests visit your house, do they raise eyebrows at the contents of your bookcase? Or at the chalk circles of arcane characters on the floor, perhaps?
Most of the people invited into my house already know I'm strange, so they're rarely surprised by what they find there. I did, while I was reading Satan's Rhetoric, take it with me to the local Mexican restaurant so I could read while munching on salsa and chips. And if you've seen the cover art and the words SATAN'S RHETORIC in huge letters, this will make sense:
One of the waiters walked by and did a double-take on the cover. I don’t mean “oh my, someone is a reading a book” double-take, I mean the gentleman almost dropped the plate he carried.
He was clearly disturbed. A few minutes passed and he returned. He knew me because I’m regular there, so he tried to casually ask me about the book. In return I attempted to reassure him, but accidentally made it worse at first. Finally, I reassured him that I wasn't a Satanist and the book was a history of Renaissance documents, and there was really nothing to worry about at all ... and I gave him a BIG REASSURING SMILE.
After that, I only carried books about the Spanish Civil War into that restaurant, and we’ve had no problems since.
I save my big, reassuring smiles for when I’m most looking to freak someone out.
4. The Los Nefilim omnibus came out only recently (in ebook – the paperback is available for pre-order). Why did you initially decide to tell the story as three novellas, rather than as a single book in three parts?
A few years ago, I wrote a novel with the Los Nefilim characters—Diago, Miquel, and Guillermo—and although the novel didn’t sell, the characters and their backstory really stayed with me. Since I was between projects, someone asked me to write a novella, and after thinking about it, I decided to bring the boys from that early novel into the twentieth century.
What came out of that suggestion was In Midnight’s Silence, and I was absolutely shocked when Harper Voyager wanted to buy it. David [Pomerico], my editor at Harper Voyager, asked my agent if I had more novellas planned, and of course, the answer was yes.
For me, the Los Nefilim series was a lot like Pan’s Labyrinth was for Guillermo del Toro—it was a project of my heart, and I was just ecstatic that it would be published. So it was nothing for me to rough in the plots to two more novellas for David.
I simply built on the first story. The omnibus reads like a novel in three acts. To fit the time period, I wrote the novellas like the old radio serials of the thirties and forties with lots of action and adventure. They were great fun to write, and as I said, I was just thrilled to have the chance to see Diago’s story come to life. He’s always been one of my favorite characters.
5. Los Nefilim begins in the early years of Spain’s Second Republic. What was it about the Spanish Civil War that particularly interested you, and how many holidays visits to the country did you take for the purposes of research?
I first encountered the Spanish Civil War through Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, where del Toro captured the brutality of the period. However, for the purposes of character motivation, I had to understand the political reasons and why different people chose opposing sides in the war. In the same way in which you can’t fully understand Hitler’s popularity in Germany unless you have some background about the years preceding his rise, you can’t fully understand the Spanish Civil War until you know the political and societal issues at play. The more I read, the more fascinated I became of the whole subject.
While I have not had the pleasure of visiting Barcelona, Spain is number one on my bucket list! I had a wonderful beta reader in Spain, who helped me find resources and answered questions about street names and places in Barcelona. In order to “see” some of the areas I wanted to portray, I took my little yellow Google man and dropped him into Barcelona’s more notorious areas. We made it through unscathed.
I can’t quite say the same for Diago and the boys …
Thanks for your time!
You can find out more about Teresa at her website here.