Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Tours virtual book tour for R. Ramey Guerrero’s Epic Fantasy novel Dust of a Moth’s Wing! Today, I am excited to kick off the tour by sharing an interview with the author!
You can find our Q&A below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, links to purchase a copy of Dust of a Moth’s Wing for yourself, as well as an opportunity to win an ebook or audiobook copy! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule at the bottom of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
Dust of a Moth’s Wing by R. Ramey Guerrero
Series: The Age of Fire
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Older Teen to Adult
Published: March 25, 2022
Publisher: Self Published
The age of Fire begins in six days.
For fifteen hundred years, Slate and the other rebels have trained students to return Fire’s energy to the city of Wen. All have failed. Only one is left, and Nokhum’s past is less than ideal. If he cannot convince the Council of Elders to allow Fire magic to return, chaos will claim the city. The rebels are determined to avoid that end— even if it means sacrificing his student to chaos’s demons to make the Council believe Fire’s energy is necessary.
Magically talented people are disappearing.
Nokhum is convinced that his life-mate is still alive— no matter what everyone else says. Human slavers who salivate for magical beings have taken her. Realizing the Council of Elders will not help him, he seeks forbidden magics to find her. His plans are derailed when Slate sends him out of the city for training. Will his time in the Whisperwood be his undoing?
Like a Moth to Flame • Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires • #Vegetarian
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4DxBDQ
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dust-of-a-moths-wing-r-ramey-guerrero/1140395533
Thank you so much for joining us for this short Q&A! Before we get going, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is R. Ramey Guerrero (Rae), and I’m so excited to be doing this book tour. My pronouns are they/ them. I live in San Antonio, Texas, with my pets. I live with an Australian shepherd (Tlaloc), two kitties (Katara and Enki), a ball python (Artemis), and a box turtle (Gaia), plus tons of stuffed animals. When I’m not writing my series, I am editing for great Indie and traditionally published authors. I love my job, but I haven’t really taken off yet. I’m getting there. Basically, I live in the world of muses all day.
I want to start things off by asking: what is a great book that you’ve read recently and why should we give it a go?
I mostly read unpublished work, but one of my favorite little-known series is the Green trilogy by Jay Lake. I’m in the middle of rereading it, and I absolutely love it. It’s about a girl who is stolen from her home, sold, and trained to be a lady. One of her teachers trains her to fight, and eventually she escapes and creates a god based on her homeland. It is a great adventure with amazing worldbuilding and memorable characters and gods that interfere with human lives. Plus, there are assassins. Who doesn’t love women assassins?
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of reading/writing? Do you care to elaborate?
Well, I don’t know if this counts, but I’ve begun collecting Squishmallows. They are freaking adorable. I have an axolotl and a goat. Ok, it’s not really a collection yet, but they go well with my giant T-Rex plushie and Stitch stuffed animal. Oh! And I have a moth plushie too, but Luna lives on my bookshelf and not my bed.
Tell us about your road to writing. What made you want to become an author?
I’ve been writing since I could spell. My earliest memory is of me scribbling on a picture book because I thought I was supposed to make up my own story. The library was not as enthusiastic about this as my mom. At the time, I could only spell a few words, so those were the only legible things on the page.
My mom’s side of the family really encouraged this creativity, but my step dad’s side didn’t get it. One day when I was around eight or nine, I was complaining to my mom that I had nothing to read. It was during the Scholastic book fair, and I was hoping to guilt her into buying me a new book. Instead, she went into the drawer and brought out a spiral notebook and a mechanical pencil. She told me that I should write the book I wanted to read.
The next year my siblings and I were taken away from our family to live with a new set of guardians. That was the first time I remember being depressed, and I slept almost all the time. My guardians didn’t believe it was possible for a ten-year-old to be depressed, so I was forced to self-medicate. Writing became my addiction.
When I was eleven, I stole a copy of The Hobbit from a Goodwill because I wasn’t allowed to read things with magic in it. (Sorry, Goodwill.) I had already seen the old cartoons when I was much smaller, but the book opened new doors for me. I set out to write something I liked as much as Tolkien right away. That’s when The Age of Fire was born, originally titled The Eye of Dragons.
At first, my book was a crude copy of The Hobbit with my own characters and setting. Once I would finish a draft, I would start over from the beginning because I wasn’t happy with it. My story never really clicked until I read Game of Thrones, and I was introduced to multi POVs.
When I figured out the POV situation, it was like the rest of my series fell into place on this great spiderweb in my mind. During a manic episode, I completed my series outline. Unfortunately, this brought on a really deep depression that I almost didn’t make it out of. The only thing that kept me from doing something desperate was my unfinished series.
I became disabled not long after that. During a psychotic episode after losing my job and healthcare, I began what is now my final version of this story. I was in the hospital for a suicide attempt when I was writing about a portal into a different world where animals can talk.
It’s been several years since then, and I have gotten help. I learned about my disabilities, and I put them into a character. I tried to portray my symptoms as accurately as possible, while still allowing my mentally ill character to be a hero in the story.
Right now, I am working on editing the fifth book in my series, and I am proofing my second book, Poison from a Scorpion’s Sting, getting ready for its release on November 11th.
Writing is a hard and lonely affair in the best of circumstances. How do you achieve a good work/life/writing balance?
Honestly, I constantly struggle with this. I try to give myself time out of the day so that I can just chill, but it seems that if I am not writing, editing, or formatting, then I am promoting (or trying to). When my partner lived with me, he constantly complained that I did nothing but work on writerly things.
I wish I had advice, but I will say that struggling with this balance is normal.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
This is my debut novel!
I think the most important thing I learned while writing my final version of this story was that I needed partners to read my work. I didn’t know where to start, so I’m going to tell you what worked for me. I began on Facebook, looking for writing groups. I joined as many as I could, but I didn’t stay genre specific. There are pros and cons to this. If I could start over, I would have began genre specific and incorporated more as time went on.
I asked all the questions I had and read a ton of blogs. I also found a critique partner group that was advertising for new members. As an editor myself, I recognized these specific critiques were soft developmental edits. I was able to use their feedback to edit my own work. If you’re short on money, which a lot of us are, I would suggest doing this.
Next, I learned about CritiqueMatch.com. Because my book was written during an episode of psychosis, I needed to make sure my writing was clear. I was able to see the picture in my mind clearly before I began taking medication, but I wasn’t sure if my vision was coming through. Additionally, some of my scenes were out of order.
On CritiqueMatch, I found new friends. I really needed friendship from creators like me, and I was so happy to find my best friend there. She pointed out this annoying habit I had of using accidentally smutty language in serious, non-smutty situations. (Thanks to reading primarily classics growing up.) I would have been mortified if that had been in a review instead of a friend’s giggle.
Next, I began networking on Twitter. I should note that while it is important to have writer friends, it is important to network with readers too. I did not do this starting out, so I am trying that now. Other social media is important for building your brand, but I found Facebook and Twitter helpful in making the product itself.
Do you usually write to background noise, music, etc. or do you prefer silence?
When I write, I like to have my Pandora playlist going. Currently, I am listening to a lot of movie soundtracks. My favorites are Pan’s Labyrinth and Coraline. If my series were ever made into an animated series, I would want both composers’ styles incorporated in the background music.
What made you want to write in Epic Fantasy? Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
I’ve always been attracted to fantasy, but my earliest work was in horror. In elementary school, I read exclusively horror until my fourth grade teacher gifted me a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I fell in love with trying to write my own fantasy. Fantasy had previously seemed like a “step-dad” thing, but seeing children my age in a fantasy setting was life changing. And it wasn’t overly girly, with pink and pixie wings. Nothing against that stuff, but it wasn’t for me.
The next year my siblings and I were taken away from our family. Hanging onto fantasy, even though my new guardians didn’t allow it, was important to me. It was a way for me to remember my old life and the me who I truly was.
But I also write in horror still. I revamped an old idea I had from high school called The Boogeyman’s Portal, and it’s coming out this October under Rae Ramey. It’ll be in e-book and audiobook, and it’s intended audience is 8-12-year-olds.
I think my mom’s obsession with slasher movies probably inspired my love for horror. She had just turned sixteen when she had me, so she never considered it bad that I had a morbid fascination with horror and monster movies. In fact, she encouraged it.
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I like that I’m able to find more diverse writers now, but I wish I saw more unique worlds and cultures. I see a lot of takes on existing earth cultures, but I’m looking for something completely new.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
My favorite authors that are published are George RR Martin, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman. I was influenced by all of these writers, as well as Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis, and Tolkien. One of my current creative gods is Guillermo del Toro, but while I love his books, I was more influenced by his movies.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
I think my worldbuilding is unique. I have created a new world in my series, The Age of Fire, and in The Boogeyman’s Portal, I revisit the suburb I grew up in. My readers have told me that the settings and cultures come alive.
I like to include a diverse cast, powerful imagery, and some kind of monster in all my work.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I used to be a pantser, but now I am a plotter. I pantsed my first and second books, then I pantsed my outline by writing it in one sitting with few edits (if that counts). Now I live by the outline. Once I began taking antipsychotics, my brain changed. I was no longer able to see the story before I jotted it down. I had to build a scene like a sculptor, with a frame then little bits of clay until I was ready to add details.
I preferred it when the muses whispered the words in my ear, but this way is effective and efficient. I do exactly what my outline says, and my writing has been much smoother.
What are your favorite types of characters?
All of my favorite characters have been complex, often with grey morality. I like to see bits of myself in characters, and that’s why I put bits of myself in many of my characters. In villains, I like to see people with ideals that I can identify with, even if I don’t agree with their morality.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
I actually call my series my soul. I put almost everything that is important to me into my series. In my first book, I tried to portray my mental illness symptoms accurately. I also grew up with absent parents, so Nokhum did too. In my story, raids often result in orphans, which I always connected to.
I also put my fears into my books as monsters. If you stick with me until the end, you’ll see what I mean. My monsters are creatures and people. I was often betrayed by the adults that were supposed to be my mentors, so I was influenced by that.
After my siblings and I were taken away from our family, we weren’t allowed to do any of the things that we were able to do before. No TV, movies, books, or music that wasn’t Evangelical Christian. My room was constantly checked for contraband, so I became more and more reclusive and secretive. I was put into a small Evangelical school that I was constantly at odds with until one of my guardians was afflicted with cancer. Then I got to go to public school. I put all of this experience of constantly feeling like I was being spied on and judged into the country of Wen.
I also put my personality into my main character. According to the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I’m an INTJ-A, and with the D&D alignment chart I am chaotic neutral, and I have grey morality. I based my entire cast off of this profile for Nokhum.
For those who haven’t read Dust of a Moth’s Wing, give us the elevator pitch.
Fire is forbidden in Wen, and the age of Fire is prophesied to bring chaos. Adahai is determined to stop this from happening, even if it means sacrificing her student, Nokhum, to do it. Nokhum has found himself in trouble because of his obsession for finding his missing love, but he may not survive his mentor’s schemes.
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Imaginative, epic, and dark.
What do you think is the overarching theme?
Peace and balance are not naturally occurring. They require maintenance.
Were there any specific challenges with writing Dust of a Moth’s Wing? Or, did you find anything to be easier?
The biggest challenge with writing Dust of a Moth’s Wing was dealing with unmedicated mental illness. I seemed to wake up a different person each day, and that was reflected in my writing. Luckily, I was fortunate to qualify for Medicare, and I eventually qualified for help. I edited once I was medicated, but by then, I wasn’t able to visualize my scenes anymore the way I was able to before.
If you had to do so in just one or two sentences, how would you describe the plot of Dust of a Moth’s Wing?
The age of Fire is coming, bringing with it chaos and destruction. Can Nokhum stop it?
They say to never judge a book by its cover and maybe that’s true in the philosophical sense, but it certainly happens with books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Dust of a Moth’s Wing?
When I began writing Dust of a Moth’s Wing, I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted my cover to look like. It looked a little different in my mind than what my artist actually did, but I like his version better. It’s taken from a scene in my book where Nokhum, my main character, is being attacked by a giant Scorpion. In my mind, the camera was zoomed out more.
One of my favorite things is highlighting quotes that really resonate with me and sharing them in my reviews. Do you have a favorite quote from Dust of a Moth’s Wing that you can share with us?
“A moth must be hardened for this world.”
What can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you?
I have two books being published this fall. One is a middle grade horror called The Boogeyman’s Portal, where a young girl must find a way to save her town from the Boogeyman. This comes out on October 21st, and the story takes place at Christmas time.
My main project, though, is The Age of Fire series, and my second book will come out on November 11th, because, get it? 11+11=22. It’s perfect! Poison from a Scorpion’s Sting is the continuation of Wen’s troubles. Look for it on pre-order by the end of the summer.
I’m also open for editing customers. I offer developmental, line, and a combo of both services. You can find out more on my website or by DM-ing me on Twitter.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! I always enjoy this little peek behind the curtain. Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
Thank you so much!
About the Author
To cope with disabling mental illnesses, R. Ramey Guerrero created a world of their own to explore. Their apartment in San Antonio transformed into forests, cliffs, and sea shore. With pen and paper, they filled their world with creatures and people as diverse as a world should be. Now, R. Ramey Guerrero edits fantastic stories written by amazing authors with a kitty on their lap. They live in the medical center in an apartment by the woods with their pets. Two cats: Enki and Katara. An Australian shepherd: Tlaloc. A box turtle: Gaia. Two red-eared sliders: Atl and Tera. And a ball python: Artemis.
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