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The Scariest Part: Loren Rhoads Talks About KILL BY NUMBERS


This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Loren Rhoads, whose latest novel is Kill By Numbers. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Former assassin Raena Zacari thinks she’s left the past behind. The Imperial torturer who trained her is dead, the human empire is disbanded, and she is finally free. But Raena is troubled by a series of nightmares that always seem to end with her shooting an ex-lover in the head. She needs to get her mind clear because there’s a flaw in the most commonly used stardrive technology and the band of media-obsessed pirates she’s fallen in with is right at the heart of the controversy.

With humanity scattered across the galaxy, Raena’s going to have to rely on the alien crewmembers of the Veracity to help her put the pieces together. It doesn’t help that the Templars — wiped out by a genetic plague while Raena was imprisoned — have left booby-trapped biotechnology scattered across the galaxy.

Kill By Numbers mixes a Philip K. Dick mindwarp with sweeping space opera that features aliens, androids, drug dealers, journalists, and free-running media hackers. It is the second book in Loren Rhoads’s epic In the Wake of the Templars trilogy.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Loren Rhoads:

At first, my grandmother seemed only a little dotty. If you visited her long enough, she began to tell the same stories more than once per visit. Each time, she would use the same words, the same inflections. When questioned, she gave the same responses. It was like her memories were on a loop. I would try to disrupt the tale, make the needle skip onto the next track, but it couldn’t be done. Talking with her was eerie.

Grandma was never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. At that time, they could only diagnose it after an autopsy, when they could actually see the lesions on the brain. The doctors called what Grandma suffered from dementia. For the most part, it was benign. She wouldn’t have been unhappy, except that she repeatedly discovered that people she remembered had been dead for years. When that happened, she would grieve their losses all over again.

The worst part of the illness to watch was that occasionally the dementia lifted enough for Grandma to realize the horror of what was happening to her. It looked like she woke up inside a trap that she could only sporadically see the outlines of. She never cleared long enough that she could attempt to escape.

Twenty years after her death, I remember how terrible it was to watch her decline. Every time I forget a name or misplace an object or wonder where I parked my car, I think: is it happening to me? That terror, spawned by watching my grandmother struggle against her own mind, inspired events in my new novel, Kill By Numbers.

Former Imperial assassin Raena Zacari spent decades in solitary confinement, entertaining herself with her own memories. She’s made peace with who she is and what she’s done. Now that she’s finally out of prison, she’s looking forward to leaving the past behind and learning to live in the galaxy. She’s got a new gig, new friends, and a sweet old diplomatic transport to call home. The future looks promising at last.

But Raena’s memories are being hijacked. Again and again, she finds herself sucked back into her past, except that the memories are warped, twisted out of recognition. Often they end with her killing an ex-lover in increasingly brutal ways. Worse than that, the nightmares are coming faster and faster, with less time for her to question their reality in between. She’s finding it harder to tell the truth of who she is from these unfamiliar shadows.

If there’s no record of your past, how do you know what’s true?

If you’re used to relying on no one but yourself, where do you turn for help?

Once you’ve been honed into a weapon, is there any way you can keep your crewmates safe?

We tell stories to make sense of our lives. Sometimes there’s no way to heal the people who suffered in your past. I couldn’t have done anything to make life easier for my grandmother. Writing this book, though, I could finally confront the dissolution she suffered and give her some revenge on it.

Loren Rhoads: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Kill By Numbers: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / IndieBound

Loren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes — the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy — all coming from Night Shade Books in 2015. She’s the co-author with Brian Thomas of a succubus/angel novel called As Above, So Below and solo author of a collection of travel essays from graveyards around the world called Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She’s also the editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual.

3 responses to “The Scariest Part: Loren Rhoads Talks About KILL BY NUMBERS”

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  2. […] Kaufmann encouraged me to talk about The Scariest Part of writing Kill By Numbers.  This is another guest blog series that is absolutely fascinating. […]

  3. […] Kaufmann encouraged me to talk about The Scariest Part of writing Kill By Numbers.  This is another guest blog series that is absolutely fascinating. […]

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