FTN: Firstly Joanne, congratulations on your first novel. How did it feel seeing Romeo Spikes published?
JR: It felt ridiculously good. I’ve had films produced, but they come and go. Nothing beats the solid feel of a book in your hand.
FTN: You’ve chosen a very dark subject for the basis of your debut novel. What drew you to write about self-harm and suicide?
JR: We might think of ourselves as an individual with one mind, but we are a complex knot of ego, unconscious thought and something beyond even that. Suicide is a prism through which we can see these multiple selves. On a more real-world level, the rate of suicide amongst young adults is now so high that the World Health Organization has declared it an epidemic. It’s a hard topic to tackle, so perhaps the Lo’Life series can raise it for discussion.
FTN: Where did the idea for Tormenta come from? They’re certainly a welcome change from vampires and werewolves!JR: I wanted to create an enemy that had to be smart. A vampire or a werewolf can simply over-power a human by virtue of greater strength. To survive and succeed, Tormenta need to be ultra-cunning. I like my enemies to have razor wits. It makes them so much more fun to write.
FTN: Did your previous work on The Discovery Channel provide you with inspiration for some of the subject matter in Romeo Spikes, such as the secret religious sects?
JR: The factual elements in Romeo Spikes are pieces of knowledge that I’ve collected over many years. I have the kind of memory that can store weird-shit forever but forgets my cash-card number. I never knew that I’d be able to deploy so much of this useless learning within Romeo Spikes, but I’m glad that, at last, it has found an out-let. Now maybe I can wipe it from my brain’s hard-drive and use the space for something more useful…
FTN: Although the book is bursting with some very colourful and wonderfully crafted characters, it’s the strong female protagonists that drive the narrative. I’m a little bit in love with Lola. Can you give any hints as to what she will be getting up to in Black Antlers?
JR: In Rome Spikes, Detective Bianco is taken deep into the supernatural world of Lola. In the next book, the roles are reversed and Lola becomes locked into the search for a bizarre and brutal serial killer. As the two worlds of humans and Tormenta once again collide, the investigation takes an unexpected twist into the realm of quantum theory.
FTN: Despite its dark subject matter, love/lost love does feature quite a bit in Romeo Spikes. Will any of the heartbroken lovers be reunited?
JR: I think love’s blade will sink a little deeper and hurt a little more in the coming stories. But I am an optimist when it comes to love and there will be some ecstasy with the agony, I can promise you that.
FTN: There seems to be a delicious little hint of what’s ahead for Alexis Bianco in the final chapter. Without giving too much away, will her son be playing a central role in the second part of the Lo Life series? Are her loyalties set to be tested to the very limit.
JR: Yes and yes (which, I think, gives not too much away).
Thanks Joanne, we wish you all the best with Lo’ Life and look forward to the next part…
Read Ash’s full review of Lo’ Life: Romeo Spikes here