Interview: Rachel Bach on Paradox, Villains & a Spin-off Series

May 20, 2014 Author Feature, Interview 17

You haven’t had an action packed fun read like this before! Deviana Morris is a kick ass mercenary with a sweet armor suit and she is out for glory. But she will soon find herself set on a crash course when she signs onto a small trade ship with a crew that will turn her life as well as her heart upside down.

I’m lucky enough to have the author, Rachel Bach (aka Rachel Aaron) join me today for an interview!

Paradox series

Read my review of Book 1: FORTUNE’S PAWN

Read my review of Book 2: HONOR’S KNIGHT

Read my review of Book 3: HEAVEN’S QUEEN


TABITHA: Hello, hello Rachel, thanks for joining me today, and agreeing to this mild interrogation. I’ll try to leave you with some small measure of your soul still intact, no promises tho!

RACHEL: I’m a tough nut to crack. Do your worst!

TABITHA: Can you pitch the books to us Twitter style in 140 characters or less? Hook those readers in good I say!

RACHEL: … You are diabolical. I see you’ve employed every author’s weakness: brevity. Fortunately for me, my amazingsauce readers and reviewers have already done a better and more eloquent job of summing things up than I ever could.

FORTUNE’S PAWN: “Scifi written like urban fantasy with an awesome Ripley-from-Alien type heroine and explosive action. SPACE. ALIENS. KICKASS WOMAN. FUN. ” – WendyDarling via Goodreads

HONOR’S KNIGHT: “It’s intense and visceral and feminist, and my heart ached for Devi…As far as sequels go, this one was nearly flawless.” – Kate from The Midnight Garden

HEAVEN’S QUEEN: “Fans will find this installment the last act they hoped for, the gratifying denouement that Bach has clearly been working toward all along.” – Publisher’s Weekly (okay, this one is cheating, but hey, the book isn’t even out yet!)

TABITHA: Phew bet that was a tuffy! Ready for the next round? *turns up the heat on the spotlight*

RACHEL: *turns on plasma shotgun* Bring it!

TABITHA: As new readers may not already know you have some very interesting non human alien races in your series. It seems like you have one from each of the environments: land, air and water. Can you tell us why you decided to model your races this way and how you went about it!?

RACHEL: You know, I never event thought about that! I had a lot of fun with the alien races in the Paradox books. I knew right off the bat that I wanted at least three non-human races that felt really alien, but were still easily relateable for us human readers. Honestly, I think that when we do finally meet an alien race, they’ll be so radically different we might not even recognize them as life, which is a whole SF book in itself right there. For Paradox, though, I was more interested in characters and civilizations, so I left the physical details easily imaginable (giant birds, carnivorous lizard-people, squids) and focused instead on creating radically different social and mental structures to show that these were indeed aliens with their own radically different priorities, cultures, and ways of thinking rather than humans characters dressed up in alien suits.

TABITHA: VILLAINS! Oh how I love them, let me count the ways! But what I love even more is when you are left guessing who the villains really are! You have done an excellent job in showing that nothing about your characters are black and white.  Everyone has reasons for their actions and the more we readers learn about each of the characters/races the better we see a realistic struggle. Ultimately, in war – is there really a bad guy, or rather just heinous deeds done in the service of one’s ideals!? Can you elaborate on what you were doing with this mode of storytelling?

RACHEL: I’m so glad you mentioned this! The Paradox series was actually a grand experiment for me on if it was possible to write a gripping action story with no villain. I like to think that true evil is as rare as true good, and that most people really do think they’re doing the right thing, even if I think they’re doing the absolute wrong one. This doesn’t mean they’re nice about it–as my favorite saying goes, Lawful Good is not Lawful Nice–but I think most people try to do the good thing if they can.

I took this to the extreme with Devi’s story. I’m going to have to be a little vague here to avoid spoilers, but I can say that every major character except for Devi is dead set gun-to-the-head convinced that they are doing the good, right, and moral thing. Everyone thinks they’re the good guys, and the challenge for Devi (and, though her, the reader) is to look at the information provided and make their own decision about what is actually right. And then I twist the knife again, because Devi doesn’t always have all the information. She only knows what the reader knows, and sometimes even less, so she has to go with her gut a lot. That gets pretty intense, especially since the core problem of the series doesn’t actually have an easy right answer. It might even be said to have noanswer. Fortunately for the universe, Devi’s not a lady who accepts “no” or “you can’t do that.” She makes it work.

All that said, these books gave me a lot of headaches. In hindsight, I realize I was writing an incredibly delicate, morally quandarous china shop of a setting and then dropping the most pig headed, aggressive, charging bull-like character I’d ever created right in the middle. That was a very difficult situation to manage as an author, but in the end, I think it really worked. This world needed someone like Devi to come and blast it open, and Devi’s really really good at blasting things.

TABITHA: Oh yes and of course I must know what are some of your all time favorite SFF villains!? *coughs* I cannot guarantee you won’t be unfairly judged based upon your response. *cackles madly* Personally, from urban fantasy I have always loved Algaliarept, the demon, from Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. Because really who can’t love a murdering yet charismatic demon? And a recent favourites of mine are Victor and Eli from VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab. Seriously these are some sociopathic men with super powers.

RACHEL: If we’re talking Science Fiction, I think my favorite villain would have to be Khan, as in Wrath Of. I love a good revenge plot to start, and that man just had so much style. I probably watched that movie way too young, but I loved him right from the start, which I think says something about me as a kid. For SFF in general, though, I think my favorite villain of all time was King Haggard from Peter S Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. Both the book and movie versions of him are so awful, and yet ultimately still sympathetic, I just can’t get enough.

Apparently, I have a thing for old dudes with great lines!

TABITHA: I really believe one of the best ways to convince someone to read a book is done by amazing quotes or snippets from the books themselves. Can you give us one of your favorites from each book?

RACHEL: You’re going to make me choose?! T__T You are awful, aren’t you? Well, it’s impossible for me to pick favorites since my favorites change all the time, but here are a few lines I’m perennially fond of and feel really represent the books.

FORTUNE’S PAWN: “You have to kill a xith’cal with one hit, because he won’t give you two.”

HONOR’S KNIGHT: “The situation was so ridiculously bad it could have been the punch line of a joke, and if I hadn’t been the one getting punched, I probably would have laughed myself sick.”

HEAVEN’S QUEEN: “‘You can’t tell me what I can and can’t forgive,’ I snapped. ‘It’s my forgiveness.'”

RACHEL: Ah, Devi. Such a smart ass ;D

TABITHA: There are often moments while I’m reading, that I’ll think, ‘oh goodness the author really wrote themselves into a corner with that one.’ Did you ever have any of those moments with the Paradox books?

RACHEL: Not really, actually, because I plot my books so heavily. My problem was actually that Devi wasn’t getting into enough trouble to keep the excitement pumping, and I was constantly asking myself “How can I make this situation even worse?”

One of my mottos as an author is that characters get nothing for free but trouble. This is especially true for a larger than life character like Devi Morris. She’s so awesome, I can’t let her get away with anything. Every step has to be a test, every inch bought in blood. If it isn’t as hard is it can possibly be, she risked being overpowered, and that’s no fun for anyone. It’s a hard life being Devi!

TABITHA: I can only imagine how much more story and detail is floating around in the back of your head about your world and characters. Or even things that you felt needed to be cut because they just didn’t fit. Do you have any such tidbits that you weren’t able to squeeze into the books that you can share with us?

RACHEL: Oh tons, but none I can really share at the moment. I am, however, currently plotting a new Paradox novel about the mystery of the Sainted King starring a new heroine who’s a commander in the Blackbird armored mercenaries. It’ll address the mysteries left hanging at the end of Heaven’s Queen, and Devi will make a guest appearance. She’s always been in the first person, so I think it will be very interesting to see her through another character’s eyes. As I said, though, it’s all still in the plotting and subject to change at any time, but we will definitely be seeing more of Paradox in the future.

TABITHA: *cranks the heat up full blast* Too hot? Not to worry, this will all be over soon, like a nightmare you just can’t forget…ok maybe not all that bad *wink* On with it you say!? I have a bit of a habit collecting embarrassing moments from author’s lives. Being as I’m a booknerd/blogger/stalker whatever you fancy calling me…I am essentially your very own version of paparazzi. Are you scared yet? So I wouldn’t be doing my job well and proper if I didn’t collect incriminating dirt on you right!? So tell us something oh so embarrassing that still turns your ears red to think about!

RACHEL: I’ve been fortunate enough not to have had any truly embarrassing moments in my professional life yet *knock on wood.* I did have a bit of a moment with Honor’s Knight, however. I rewrote that book like four times because I just couldn’t get it how I wanted. When I turned it into my editor the final time, she was really happy with it but I was all MY BOOK IS AWFUL I AM A FRAUD and other such author melodrama.

Anyway, we had a bit of a miscommunication and the book was put into production (meaning it was going through all the copy editors and what not) without me realizing it, so here I am thinking I’m going to rewrite the book again when I get my line edits from the copy editor. Naturally, I panic because I still had all this stuff I wanted to change and the copy edits are the very last step of the process where I can make changes before the book gets typeset. So I end up rewriting whole sections of the book in the copy edit, which is a big no-no because that means those new sections haven’t been through the copy editor and could be full of typos. I checked everything as thoroughly as I could myself, but I’m pretty sure Honor’s Knight has more than it’s fair share of typos and I want to say right here that that is entirely my fault, not my publisher’s.

All that said, I’m very happy with the changes I made and I’d make the same decision again. It wasn’t that the book wasn’t good, it just wasn’t as good as I knew it could be, and I couldn’t accept that. I do wish that I’d actually told my editor I wanted to make more changes beforehand because no one likes a typo, but hey, it worked out okay in the end.

TABITHA: A swoon worthy man, that might just be one of the biggest things any romance reader is looking for. Really tho, I didn’t even consider your books heavy romance, indeed they had such a perfect balance of all the ingredients of a blockbuster hit that I think makes and females alike will rave about it. By the way Rupert is my total dream boat. So tell us about the dynamic duo, Devi and Rupert!

RACHEL: Hooray for Rupert! He’s gotten a very mixed reception, which boggles my mind because I love him to pieces. He does come off a little broody, mysterious PNR hero in the first book, but that’s only because revealing more about him would have tipped my hand for the other mysteries and we can’t have that. In reality, though, Rupert is far from impervious or perfect. He’s a man who has suffered a lot for a very long time fighting a war he can never win and make really bad (REALLY BAD) decisions because of that, which he then has to pay for because he’s in a Rachel Bach book where no one gets anything for free. But all the pain was necessary, both because it kicked off parts of Devi’s story and because it made Rupert change. He actually has the most dramatic character arc in the series, but (slight spoiler) those painful catalysts were necessary to take him from almost villain to Devi’s staunchest ally. It takes a lot to break a stubborn man out of his own guilt fueled misery, but Devi packs a hell of a punch, and boy did Rupert need it.

Devi and Rupert’s relationship was both the hardest and the most fun part of the books for me. There have been people who hated the romance part of the book because they felt it weakened Devi as a badass lady character, but I think falling in love at the absolute worst time is a fundamental part of being human. Also, it’s a ton of fun to write! Sexy times FTW! That said, though, the Paradox novels are’t really a romance. It’s more of a three way split between SciFi action, forbidden love, and conspiracy mystery. I like to think that means there’s a little bit of something for everyone. So if you’re someone who likes intense science fiction action and kissing, my books would probably be right up your alley!

TABITHA: Hats off, round of cookies, and fresh fresh cup of tea to you my dear for becoming one of my heroes of kick arse, science fiction action adventure! I love it that you wrote the book that you yourself as a reader wanted to read!  Tell us what are you dying to read and write for us next!? No secrets between stalkers friends now.

Thank you so much Rachel for soldiering through this interview. I’m definitely looking forward to reading much more from you in the future and book pushing the Paradox books on countless friends.

RACHEL: Thank you so much for reading!! Making people squeal in delight was the entire point of this series, and I’m so glad it was a success with you!


 Rachel Aaron

Hello, my name is Rachel Aaron, and I write The Legend of Eli Monpress fantasy series for Orbit Books! I’m also the author of the new, rolicking fun Paradox Science Fiction trilogy under the name Rachel Bach. Confused yet? I know I am!

I was born and raised in Atlanta, but I currently live a lovely, nerdy, bookish life in Athens, GA with my faster-than-the-speed-of-light son, perpetually understanding husband, and fat dog. I write full time, all the time, but when my husband can drag me away from my own books, I love reading fantasy (urban and traditional), Romance (paranormal and Regency), and Science Fiction (all kinds). I also enjoy video games, Minecraft, anime, manga, hanging out at conventions, and very overdone, epic things.

Besides my own books, the internet knows me best for writing very fast.

Find the Books: Amazon | Indiebound | Book Depository | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Stalk the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Stalk me!

Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
Stalk me!

Latest posts by Tabitha (Pabkins) (see all)

17 Responses to “Interview: Rachel Bach on Paradox, Villains & a Spin-off Series”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    YES!! *fist pump* MORE books in this world with kick-assedly awesome characters!! I can’t wait. Seriously. I loved Devi and, really, all the characters. I liked how no one was really *bad*, that they all (human and alien) thought they were working for the greater good. Morally ambiguous just ratcheted up the tension. As for Rupert…loved him. I didn’t trust him but I loved him (though I had a hard time picturing a bad-assed guy named Rupert. Gentle English Lords from my historical romances kept popping into my head.).

    And I definitely agree with Tabitha: No secrets between stalkers…er… friends! Tell us all! 🙂
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: Bacon, Bacon! Who’s Got the Bacon?My Profile

  2. Lege

    Great interview, Rachel and Tabitha!
    I think I lost it when I read: “The craziest lady in the universe thought I was nuts.”
    Devi was hilarious. That was my favorite quote. 😉
    I liked Rupert-he’s made of dreams.
    And yes, I am so happy we’ll see more of Paradox and King in future book; there was a hint about him in HQ that got me really interested. 🙂
    I enjoyed this trilogy great deal and I’m looking forward to anything new Rachel comes out with. 😉

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Rupert – yes made of dreams – oh goodness the man makes me clench OK TOO MUCH INFORMATION I KNOW! Anyways he’s like the whole kitten kaboodle in my opinion. My man needs to learn how to cook stat!

      I totally love the hint she threw there at the end about what the next series is going to be about.

      Heck I’m excited for the new stuff as well but now I went ahead and picked up the first book of her fantasy series!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Interview: Rachel Bach on Paradox, Villains & a Spin-off SeriesMy Profile

  3. Sandy Williams

    I am SO excited to hear there’s another Paradox book floating around in your head! Love this world and your writing so much.

    These books are amazing, yall. The perfect blend of sci-fi, action, and romance.

  4. Mogsy

    Rupert may have been a bit broody and mysterious, but I thought that “PNR persona” really fit even if that wasn’t what she’d originally been going for. I think it helped a lot of readers who might not be that into sci-fi ease into it and connect more with the romantic aspect. What I would have really like to know though is how she initially came up with the name Rupert — it just seemed an odd choice of name for a hunky chef!

    And a spinoff that would focus on the Blackbirds? That sounds amazing.
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Night Terrors by Tim WaggonerMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I totally think that the romance aspect of these books would help transition normal UF or PNR readers into this genre. I have given it to my cousin who reads nothing but UF and told her its basically the same thing just set in space and give it a chance. I am waiting on the verdict.

      Rupert is an odd choice for a name but gahhhh I love it!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Interview: Rachel Bach on Paradox, Villains & a Spin-off SeriesMy Profile

  5. Richelle Nicole

    Now THAT was a fun interview! You really must be one of authors most favorite book bloggers, your questions are always so much fun, yet thought provoking. This series sounds exactly like something I would want to read. I’m adding them to my wish list/to be read list. 🙂

  6. Richelle Nicole

    Son of a biscuit, my last comment got lost whilst attempting to post. Blasted cyber hiccup!! Ok, so only for you would I go through this whole click clacking out of another comment. Only you!!

    That interview was AWESOME! Seriously, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…love your interviews! So much spunk, spaz and wit packed into those questions! You have got to be so many authors most favorite book blogger, because come on, you’re amazing! And I’m not just saying that because I could be amazing by proxy (I’m already amazing, lol) . Rachel answered her questions with spunk enough to match your zaniness, hmmm, she could be related. Check the family tree, investigate for missing branches! I’m adding this series to the have to read pile 🙂

  7. BookaholicCat

    I love this series. I devoured book 1 and 2 and eagerly waited for Heaven’s Queen. I read it last week and really liked it too.
    I love the idea behind the new spin off, the Sainted King is a very intriguing character. I can’t wait to read it!
    BookaholicCat recently posted…CATS-ilicious ThursdaysMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I know – interesting to hear about these glowing eyes of his. Anxious to meet the new female lead. I haven’t read any of her other books but since this new character will also be female and in a similar role as a Blackbird instead but still with a suit no doubt it makes me wonder how she’ll give her a different personality from Devi.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: The Forever Watch by David RamirezMy Profile

  8. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    OHMYGAWD!! I can’t even focus on how happy I am about another book on the horizon b/c I freaking out about Khan! I completely agree that he’s a EXCELLENT villain, but his revenge plot involved alien BUGS that crawled into your EARS and made you go CRAZY. I just can’t, LOL. Bugs in the ears are where I have to draw the line. *shudders*

    Wonderful interview, Tabitha!