Today I am so pleased to welcome Warren Rochelle to Joyfully Jay. Warren has come to talk to us about his latest release, In Light’s Shadow. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!

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Warren has written some questions and answers to share with us today! 

When did I know I wanted to be a writer? When did I discover I was good at it?

I remember drawing stories before I started school. My mother was a secretary in the Sociology Department at Duke University  and brought home reams of used typing paper. My brothers and I drew pictures on the unused side. Eventually I drew stories. But I didn’t know I wanted to write until I was eight years old and  in the third grade. That’s when I first read The Chronicles of Narnia and fell in love with the stories, with Narnia, and fantasy. I decided I wanted to write stories like that and wrote a horrible rip-off, but this time with a High Queen, bucentaurs ( like centaurs, but half-man, half-ox), and a Plain of Fire and of the Moon.  I was very proud of having discovered bucentaurs. I “bound” it in an old blue school notebook, covered in cloth from my mother’s scrap basket. Mercifully, the High Queen and her cohorts have been lost.

I discovered I was good at writing slowly, from teacher feedback, and winning student writing contests, poems in the high school literary magazine, and other similar affirmations. I recall a poem in particular I wrote about a half-human, half-alien green-skinned boy (by then I was in love with SF, too), the son of a human explorer and an extraterrestrial woman. He didn’t fit in anywhere and people shunned him for his telepathic abilities. His mind probes unfortunately had the tendency to make folks scream, as sadly often happens. More affirmation came in college in creative writing classes and getting published in the UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate literary magazine, Cellar Door.

My first published work, outside of the Cellar Door?

My very first published short story was “Her Hands Curved Around the Cup,” in Graffiti, in 1978. Graffiti, now defunct, was published by Lenoir Rhyne College (now University). It was the tale of a lonely old woman, who drank different kinds of tea each day, in a different cup for each day. It is about memory and loss, guilt and grief. My first published work of genre fiction, for which I actually got paid, was “A Peaceful Heart,” in Aboriginal Science Fiction in 1989. This story, an alternate history tale (one of my favs) takes place on Ocracoke Island, off the North Carolina coast, in the aftermath of World War III, which was fought with biological weapons. After a catastrophic plague, a man finds himself raising two orphans. I did come up with a time line for this story which spawned a few other stories.

What do I when I get writer’s block?

For me, it’s more of a matter of getting stuck or not finding the right opening or ending. Sometimes my solution is to take a break, a walk, tea or coffee, , read, watch TV—just to get away from the page for a while. Other times, journal writing helps. I find free writing very valuable when getting unstuck. Or I might just set the particular work aside for a while, and let my subconscious go to work.

Do my books spring to life from a character or from an idea?

I want to say both, as I believe character-driven fiction is stronger than idea-driven, but the idea is essential. The people on the starship are more interesting than how the starship works. Yes, the technology of the ship does affect the people onboard, and, yes, the reader might need to know something about the technological, but still: the people drive the story. Yes, sometimes the idea comes first, but without characters to engage the reader, the idea lacks life. In Light’s Shadow has its origins in “The Golden Boy,” a short story I wrote back in 2003, which has two core ideas or themes: all fairy tales are true, and exploring the intersection of the magical and the mundane. The novel, however, is about a person, the protagonist, Gavin Booker. He is a hybrid; he is one quarter fairy. Fairy tales are true in his world, and the intersections between the magical and the mundane have proven both beautiful and disastrous.

How did I choose the topics of this novel?

One dominant topic or theme, as just mentioned, is the intersection of the magical and the mundane, or here, the coexistence of both and the consequences of this coexistence, In this world, magic is real and present. Magical beings live among and with the non-magical, or in the Columbian Empire, the “normals.” Outside the Empire, this coexistence is accepted as the way things are and were meant to be. But in the Empire, magicals are persecuted and magic is condemned as Satanic. How then, can a man who is part-normal and part-fey, a hybrid, live? Grow up? Find himself, find love? How does he pass as normal, when all hybrids are under an automatic death sentence? In the dystopian nightmare of the Empire, is there a way to be true to yourself and live? As I write this, I realize the topic is really the Other and Self, and queer people in the real world are still the Other. I think I have known this made me Other, in one way or another, all my life.

Did I choose these themes?

Good question. I have always been fascinated by the tensions between the magical and the mundane, and the role and place of the Other. The tension between Good and Evil (yes, another theme for the novel) also has been fascinating. As the story grew, I found myself exploring these themes in depth. So, I chose these themes a good while ago, and they chose me.

How would I describe my writing process?

I find my stories often grow out of the “what if” question. If this were changed, what then? What if magic was real and present and acknowledged? What if magic was real and despised? How would we react and how would our reactions change history, or would they? From there, or sometimes before, I find who the story is about.

I also need to know how the story ends. For In Light’s Shadow, I knew Gavin would be safe and in bed with his beloved. Where this bed is and how they got there had to be discovered. I need a drop-the-flag opening. The flag falls, the race begins. The race is in motion. The train has left the station. I feel this energy; I can go on. Yes, I am such a plotter, so I make an outline, sometimes maps, a character timeline, dynastic family trees, a history—if the story calls for such. Bear in mind the outline is not set in stone, It’s more of a suggestion and is subject to change as the story demands change, as the story grows in its telling. Research is often required. I’m often amazed at how much research is required to write one or two paragraphs.


in light's shadowGavin Booker, a school librarian, leads an orderly, normal life. Work, jogging, friends from work, his son every other weekend. Gavin is also a secret. He is a hybrid, or part-fairy, and in the Columbian Empire, hybrids are under an automatic death sentence. Magic is illegal. So is loving another man, another capital crime. Fairies are locked away in ghettoes, magical beasts, such as gryphons, unicorns, and pegasi are kept in zoos. Also in zoos: werewolves and other wers, centaurs, and Cheshire cats. The others, the tree and water spirits, the talking beasts, fauns, and the rest, are in hiding. This is the world in which Gavin grew up. He survived, thanks to his mother. He can never forget he is different: ministers preach against people like him constantly; hating the other is a part of every school’s curriculum.

But now, things are changing fast, and apparently, for the worst. Earthquakes, volcanoes, killer storms. The medicine Gavin takes to suppress his body’s glowing, isn’t working. The spells cast by his doctor, a witch, are losing their power. If anyone finds out what Gavin is, he is dead. Under threat, the Empire always goes after its marginalized people. Can Gavin survive the common catastrophe? Will he ever recover from losing the boys he loved? Can he find the fairy man who has haunted his dreams all is life before it is too late? Can his scarred heart ever heal?

Warnings: Suicide (off-stage), suicidal thoughts and suicide attempt, and self-harm

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warren rochelle bioWarren Rochelle lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his husband and their little dog, Gypsy, after retiring teaching English and Creative Writing at the University of Mary Washington in 2020. His short fiction and poetry have been published in such journals and anthologies as Icarus, North Carolina Literary Review, Forbidden Lines, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Collective Fallout, Queer Fish 2, Empty Oaks, Quantum Fairy Tales, Migration, The Silver Gryphon, Jaelle Her Book, Colonnades, and Graffiti, as well as the Asheville Poetry Review, GW Magazine, Crucible, The Charlotte Poetry Review, and Romance and Beyond. His short story, “The Golden Boy,” was a finalist for the 2004 Spectrum Award for Short Fiction.

Rochelle is the author of a book of academic criticism, Communities of the Heart: the Rhetoric of Myth in the Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin, published by Liverpool University Press in 2001. Other articles and book reviews on science fiction and fantasy have appeared in various journals, including Extrapolation, Foundation, North Carolina Literary Review, and the SFRA Review.

Rochelle is also the author of four novels: The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010), all published by Golden Gryphon Press, and The Werewolf and His Boy, published by Samhain Publishing in September 2016. The Werewolf and His Boy was re-released by JMS Books in August 2020. His first story collection, The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories, was published by JMS Books in September 2020. His second collection, To Bring Him Home and Other Tales, was published in September 2021, by JMS Books. A stand-alone story, “Seagulls,” was released by JMS Books in September 2021.


Warren is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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