Interview with J. Kathleen Cheney, author of Dreaming Death
Today I’m chatting with J. Kathleen Cheney, whose new book Dreaming Death is being released today!
Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.
A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.
But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…
Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?
My writing is a mix of things, part Fantasy, part Murder Mystery, and a small part Romance. Never as much of a swashbuckling story as a thinking one. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)
Would you want to live in the world of your book? Why or why not?
No way! It’s too cold in this novel. Not Antarctica cold, but I personally consider anything north of Texas too cold, so it doesn’t take much to get me shivering. The setting of Dreaming Death is in a part of the world where glaciers have receded, but could come back at any time.
Well, maybe if I never had to come above ground….
Why did you write this story? What is compelling about it for you?
For what it’s worth, I love this world. I actually have eight novels outlined in this setting (across two time periods: the invasion, and two hundred years later.) I think what I loved about this story was the sensitives (of the Six Families) coming together with the broadcasters (of the Anvarrid Houses) and learning to use their talents together. Dreaming Death is set two hundred years post-invasion, but it’s still the same problem: a broadcaster and a sensitive have to learn to use their powers to complement each other.
What surprised you while writing it?
I have a culture in this series that lives underground in a man-made structure (called the Fortress.) In considering that structure, I learned that at the University of Minnesota you can study building underground buildings. In fact, one of the resources I used while writing it was a textbook for the school called Underground Space Design. The book was really invaluable, not only in discussion of the physical buildings themselves, but also in the psychological ramifications of having people underground all the time. (The low level of stimulation is difficult for some people to endure.)
How will reading it make people feel?
If they’re not claustrophobic, then I hope they would be satisfied at the end (Don’t we all hope that?) and then want to read the next installment…
Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)? Why?
I tried on this one to differentiate speech more in dialog. One person speaks in short sentences while another goes on and on. One character has very precise speech and qualifies her sentences. One uses virus words: um, well, so, uh. I also have one character who speaks like he was raised speaking a null-subject language. He frequently drops his subjects, particularly when he’s speaking of himself. I originally did that, thinking it would make him sound more efficient, as if he’s got so much on his mind he doesn’t have room for subjects. Now I’m just hoping that people don’t think they’re all overdone!
Buy the book here:
J. Kathleen Cheney taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, but gave it all up for a chance to write stories. Her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, The Golden City was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). Dreaming Death will be the first in a new series, the Palace of Dreams Novels.