Rhiannon Paille is a booksmith from the middle of nowhere, Canada. She holds a PhD in Metaphysical Science and Parapsychology, which is to say she happens to know a lot about what goes bump in the night. When she's not writing she's singing karaoke, burning dinner, and hiding her superhero identity. She'd like to own a unicorn one day, as long as it doesn't eat her.
Loren Kleinman (LK): Let's talk about your series The Ferryman and the Flame. How did you come up with the idea for this series?
Rhiannon Paille (RP): Truthfully the entire series was inspired by my guide Kemplan, who coincidentally is a librarian. He was one of the guides I had met on my Imramma journeys who showed me parts of a story he thought was ready to be retold. My challenge as a new author was learning how to write so I could bring this story to life.
The mythological version of The Ferryman and the Flame is not as eloquent or synchronous or even coherent as the series I wrote. There were a lot of different mythologies clashing into one another and I had to separate. You'll see in the series references to Arthurian Myth, Norse, Celtic, and Druid traditions, but you'll see that I steered far from Eastern and Greek Mythology, despite calling one of my main characters a Ferryman and the other a Flame.
The Flames come from Buddhism, in particular the goddess Kwan Yin who was known to carry the Violet Flame with her. I expanded on the idea of the Flame, making them coveted weapons of mass destruction.
The choice to use The Ferryman and the Flame was more about aesthetics than mythology, since The Grim Reaper and the Flame, Death and The Flame, The Valkyrie and The Flame, and other names for this being didn't sound half as good as The Ferryman and The Flame. I also realized that it didn't matter because every culture on Earth has a myth that refers to someone who helps soul cross over to the other side. This character is an archetype that exists in every story.
LK: Which character in City of Cruelty and Copper do you relate to the most and why?
RP: I think Fable Ketterling, because of her cynicism and her sharp wit. With Fable has this struggle to rein in her feelings, and to be worthy of the pedestal everyone puts her on. She has a lot of expectations of her, and in her mind she's just a fifteen year old girl that accidentally ended up immortal, she doesn't think of herself as this great central archetype of the world she lives in.
I grew up being the outcast, that weird girl nobody wanted to hang out with. I was shunned until I met my husband and we started the Central Canada Comic Con, which used to be a small tradeshow event in a hotel basement, and now is the biggest event at the Winnipeg Convention Centre with over 44,000 attendees in 2013. By default I ended up at the top of what is now a much larger non-for profit organization. So in some ways I have the same pressures as Fable to organize an event thousands of people are looking forward to each year.
LK: You're a hybrid author. You've self-published and traditionally published. What are the benefits of self-publishing vs. traditional? What have been some of the cons for both?
RP: I think it's neat that you see me as a hybrid author because when I introduce myself as an author I'm always tagging on, "oh but I'm self published" which I suppose is all that insecurity in me over my right to call myself an author.
Also, while I was traditionally published by small press, I have more recently been acquired by another indie press, only this indie press happens to be run by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta and it is infinitely cooler to say my series was picked up by them, than by another small press. They run WordFire Press, if you're curious and they are rock stars.
For me the benefit of self-publishing is the lack of pressure. I'm not here to prove anything to anyone; I'm just offering a book to the few people who may want to read it. That was a success for my first book Integrated Intuition: A comprehensive guide to psychic development, which was pubbed in 2011. In 2012 that book ended up #1 in many Amazon bestseller categories and stayed there for twenty-nine weeks. It's now sold around 16,000 copies worldwide, which just floors me. I liked being on my own schedule, and I didn't feel this ever-pressing need to be a bestseller.
Traditionally published has differed and I want to talk about WordFire Press because these guys are amazing. Being with them has been like epic collaboration. We work together on every step of the publishing process, we have great communication levels, and they've really invited me into the fold. I've been through my own traditional publishing horror story, you know where you don't get paid royalties and the publisher takes months to edit your next book and you feel ignored, but WordFire is not like that. They produce books at lightning speed, they are always looking for new and interesting ways to get books into the hands of readers and essentially they are awesome people to work with.
The upside to Traditional publishing is having that team behind you to make you feel like this is worth it, and to cheer you on when you have success. They also help you be a better writer, and help you expand your reach. And if your traditional publisher is not doing that for you, then it's time for you to change your overall plan.
The downside I guess is those horror stories. I feel lucky to be able to work with Kevin and still produce self-published novellas and non-fiction. It's been an amazing journey.