As she got closer to the leak, where Blackwood was hauling herself up the sides of the torpedo tubes, it was harder to hear anything else. Someone shouted, but she couldn’t make out the words. She did hear the creak of the wheel as one of her deckmates locked the hatch, and knew the five of them were cut off from the rest of the submarine now. She couldn’t see the hole specifically, but it felt like the whole Trievanic Sea was pouring in from above.
Interview with Reese Hogan, author of SHROUDED LOYALTIES
Reese Hogan is the author of SHROUDED LOYALTIES, a military sci fi / dieselpunk novel. The novel will be published on August 13th 2019 by Angry Robot.
Question - Please describe what the book is about.
Reese Hogan - Naval officer Mila Blackwood receives dangerous powers when her submarine travels through an alternate realm of existence and is attacked by a monster. She must figure out how to use these powers to save her country from invasion, all the while unaware that her partner is a spy and her brother is an enemy collaborator.
Q - Where did you get the idea?
RH - I always have to have three ideas come together to really take off. This one’s root ideas were a fantasy with a WW2 feel, a soldier who returns home to find out her brother is an enemy collaborator, and people with magic tattoos who are being hunted by an occupying force (which became the marks with powers they receive in the second chapter). Everything else built from there.
Q - What’s the story behind the title?
RH - I came up with it, but it was a challenge. I knew I wanted something that would instantly invoke the feel of wartime, and I wanted to tie together the idea of having a spy on one side and an enemy collaborator on the other, and not knowing it. So I started working with “Secret” and “Hidden” and eventually realized that “Shrouded” related to a plot point in my book, so would serve double duty to describe the loyalties surrounding the main character as well.
Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
RH - I am very interested in how real-life historical events progress and distort over time, and this novel takes on that question in a new and refreshing way.
Q - Tell us about your favorite character.
RH - Andrew is my favorite character. He is a teenager who struggles with self-loathing and loneliness, but he is also dangerously smart, and writing the juxtaposition between his emotional well-being and his intelligence was very compelling. As someone who has struggled with self-loathing my whole life, writing Andrew gave me the freedom to dive deep into the roots of those feelings and explore how bad things might get for someone vulnerable who falls into the wrong hands.
Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
RH - I would spend a day with my spy character, Klara Yana, so I could pick up her penchant for blending in to any situation to gather intel.
Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?
RH - Imagination, although I do find them influenced by details from real people as I write.
Q - How long did you take to write this book?
RH - Approximately two years to write (not continuous), then ten months from there until publication. Atypically, I got the publisher offer before I had an agent, so that put me on a faster track than normal.
Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?
RH - Lots about World War 2, especially France both before and after occupation. A TON about submarines, including visiting the USS Pampanito, the submarine on which the BZS Desert Crab in the novel is based. And a lot about volcanoes—yes, there are volcanoes, too.
Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
RH - Mostly passages where it took too long to get to the point. I’ve discovered that when I’m not quite positive of the next step my character will take, my character is doing a lot of internal thinking to figure that out when I reread. So when I chop out the internal thought process, they appear to make decisions quicker, and the pacing is better.
Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?
RH - I write EXTENSIVE outlines, but—like that old military expression about the best plans only lasting until the first bullet is fired—my outlines go off the rails almost right away. That being said, the outlining does help me figure out the key points that I’m most excited about, and I use those as guidelines to keep the book on track.
Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
RH - Over time, it’s definitely become editing. Having the story down in a workable form makes it so much easier to sit down and work with than writing those initial words. And during the editing process, you’ve already had feedback and know where its weak points are, so there’s more confidence that you’re spending time obsessing over the right things.
Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
RH - When I first start writing a new draft, I have all these ideas but I haven’t yet put together a framework for how they’ll work together. There’s a lot of self-doubt about whether I’m starting in the right place, or have too many plot threads or not enough, or whether I should write first or third person…the list goes on. There’s lots of deleting—whole chapters worth—before I start to figure out what the story will look like.
Q - Can you share your writing routine?
RH - I write a minimum of two hours a day, and I have to plan when this block will be ahead of time to make sure it actually happens, since my kids’ schedules can vary. I try to get another two hours in the evening, but it depends on how crazy my kids are at bedtime (they are 7 and 5). My husband is very good about making sure I get my needed blocks on the weekends, which is the most challenging time to fit it in.
Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
RH - If yes, how do you overcome it? I think we all get stuck sometimes, and I think it usually relates to losing interest in your story. When this happens, I go back to the last moment in the story I was excited about and try a different direction from there.
Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
RH - Try not to be afraid to share your work. No matter how good you think it is, you won’t know what its real problems are until someone points them out to you.
Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
RH - I may be an outlier here, but I don’t have anything unfinished that I haven’t morphed into something else. I have about five manuscripts in my closet that were finished but never published. One of them, I pulled a character from and put into Shrouded Loyalties, although the rest of the book is completely different!
Q - Tell us about yourself.
RH - I live in New Mexico with my husband and two kids (ages 7 and 5). I have been writing for twenty-one years. Shrouded Loyalties is my third published novel, although it is the first from a traditional publishing house.
Q - How did you get into writing?
RH - I started out writing poetry at age 12, mostly influenced by my love of music. I always made up stories in my head, and at 14, I wrote my first novel from those ideas. I haven’t stopped since.
Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
RH - I like coloring and playing board games with my kids. I also like watching music videos and reading.
Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
RH - Not too much, although I love to write poetry when given the opportunity (as in my last book, HOLDING THE ASHES).
Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
RH - I am obsessed with the band Linkin Park, and was the one to host the Albuquerque memorial for Chester Bennington when the fanbase tragically lost him to suicide in 2017.
Q - Which book influenced you the most?
RH - POISON STUDY by Maria Snyder.
Q - What are you working on right now?
RH - I’m putting the final touches on the first several chapters of a sequel, which we hope to pitch soon, and brainstorming ideas for a new project too new to share details from yet!
Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?
RH - It’s from V.E. Schwab, and I absolutely love it: “At the end of the day, there’s one thing to do: Show up. Put in the work. Let go of the outcome.”
Q – What book are you currently reading?
RH - THE RESURRECTIONIST OF CALIGO by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga (spoiler: it’s totally awesome!)
Reese Hogan’s Biography
Reese Hogan loves nothing more than creating broken relationships in broken worlds. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in journalism, Hogan has spent the last twenty years honing her craft by taking classes, listening to podcasts, and attending writing workshops and critique groups. She is passionate about music, especially alternative and punk rock, and adamantly believes that art can reach out in a way no other form of communication can. She lives with her family in New Mexico.
Links to Reese Hogan