R. L. King is an indie author and game freelancer for Catalyst Game Labs, publisher of the popular role-playing game Shadowrun. She has contributed fiction and game material to numerous source books, as well as one full-length adventure, “On the Run,” included as part of the 2012 Origins-Award-winning “Runners’ Toolkit.”
Her first novel in the Shadowrun universe, “Borrowed Time,” was published in Spring 2015.
When not doing her best to make life difficult for her characters, King is a software technical writer for a large Silicon Valley database company. In her spare time (hah!) she enjoys hanging out with her very understanding spouse and her small herd of cats, watching way too much Doctor Who, and attending conventions when she can. She is an Active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Horror Writers’ Association, and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.
Have you done any projects that took you way out of your comfort zone?
My books tend to be long on action and horror, and pretty short on romance (particularly sex). I’m hoping to add a bit more romantic/sexual component to the upcoming stories, but even then it’ll probably be PG-13 at best. Trying to write anything more explicit than that makes my inner 12-year-old giggle.
Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far and why?
Far and away, Dr. Alastair Stone. He hits all my buttons: he’s smart, snarky, British, moody, funny, a bit arrogant, very good at what he does, and a fun combination of self-absorbed introvert and adorkably attractive showman.
What’s the craziest story idea you’ve ever had? And did you write it?
It has to do with cannibals, and in particular how a civilized cannibal society would operate. And yes, I’ve written it. It’s an upcoming Stone Chronicles story.
What about your most recently published/upcoming work?
My most recently published work is The Forgotten, which is the second book in the Stone Chronicles series. It’s actually the first one I wrote—I published it and the one after it a couple of years ago, with the focus on a different character and the intent of writing a trilogy. That didn’t work out, so I pulled it down, unraveled it, rewrote it with Dr. Stone as the main character, and it’s a much stronger story now.
Plotwise, Stone teams up with a young man who’s looking for his missing sister, and they discover a huge conspiracy that’s been flying under almost everyone’s radar for the past several years. The next two books after it continue this storyline, though they’re all complete stories (no cliffhangers). I’m getting the next one ready to go now—just got it back from the editor, and hoping to bring it out in September or October.
What project are you looking forward to next?
I’m just about to start a new Stone Chronicles novel, and hoping to get the green light to write another Shadowrun novel.
Who are your writing heroes and why?
I’ve been a fan of Stephen King and Graham Masterton since I was a kid—from them, I got my love of horror. More recently, Jim Butcher (I hadn’t read any Dresden Files when I started writing my series, but friends told me I needed to because I was playing in the same sandbox—they were right, and I love the books!) I also really like some of Chuck Palahniuk’s stuff, for sheer weirdness and wordplay.
Have you ever done an interesting interview to get background information?
Not yet, but since Stone is a professor at Stanford, I’m planning to try to find a Stanford student (or maybe even a professor, if I’m lucky!) and offer to pay them to show me around campus (I don’t live far from it), tell me stories, and talk to me about academia.
How do you decide where to set a story?
I’m not a great lover of geographical research, so I set my series in the area where I live, so I’m familiar with it.
How do you manage world-building? Is it all thought out ahead of time, or do you make it up as you go?
A little of both. My magic system, in particular, has been evolving with the series. I’ve had to go back and tweak the earlier books a bit to make them fit with the new paradigm. Also, when I started I was adamant that I wouldn’t include the major magical creature types (vampires, werewolves, etc.) in my world, but now I’m looking for ways to introduce them in a new way. We’ll see how it goes.
How much do you structure your stories before you write them?
I need to have at least some idea of where things are going before I start. I need a basic beginning, middle, and end. Beyond that, I have things I want to do in the story, but I leave a lot of room for cool new ideas to suggest themselves.
Do you find it more difficult to write your first draft or to revise?
I do a lot of revision as I go (reading back over the previous day’s work and editing/revising before I start the next bit) so I wouldn’t say either is easier or harder.
What has been the hardest thing about publishing for you?
Promotion. I’m an introvert and terrible at blowing my own horn. I’m getting better, but I still have a long way to go. I’ve accepted that people won’t find out about my work if I don’t let them know it’s out there.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Always be learning. Be open to story ideas from everywhere—news, internet, friends, stray thoughts…write them down. You might be able to use them in something later. Also, do what you need to do to afford a pro editor and a pro cover designer. They can make a huge difference in the quality of your book.
What’s the best part about being a writer?
Being able to tell the stories I want to tell, and write about the people I want to write about. As someone who’s always been a pretty solitary writer, I’ve also enjoyed discovering the fun with interacting with other indie authors—supporting each other, helping promote each other’s work, and just talking about writing.
Do you have a writing routine?
When I’m working on a project, I focus a lot. Usually work on it during lunch hours, after work, evenings, weekends…whenever I can fit time in. Then I have to take time off to recharge.
What do you do when you get stuck writing your story?
Put it away for a while and let it rattle around in my subconscious. Sometimes that takes a few days, sometimes months. If it’s just a minor issue, I either try to power through it and fix it later, or else skip it and write something else later in the story.
How did you decide on your genre?
My genre decided on me. I love magic, but I’m not a big fan of medieval fantasy. My loves of horror and of the RPG Shadowrun were probably the biggest things that set me on the road to urban fantasy with a horror/supernatural thriller focus.
“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
“Cats,” he said eventually. “Cats are nice.”
–Terry Pratchett, Sourcery