As one of the hosts of Drinkshares: Last Call, Rebekka Leber (Facebook, Twitter) has cemented herself as an influential member of the Inkshares community. Her book, Proxy, is available for preorder now and if what I’ve read of it is any indication, it’s going to be gritty and dark, witty with snark, and … I can’t exactly think of a third pair rhyme that works. Long story short: it’s going to be a fantastic book. Learn more about Proxy and Rebekka below.
Max Lucas only ever worried about one thing: how she was going to score her next bottle. She’s not proud, but it’s the only thing that ever gets the voices to shut up.
When a horrific murder lifts the veil on her mysterious ancestry, she finally learns the reason why she can hear the thoughts of an entire city and why she can move objects with her mind. She’s a Preternatural.
Now, the ancient Preternaturals who once ruled the world as gods need her help to keep safe the most precious of human resources: the human soul. The entirety of human history has been written on the back of a conflict between the Preternaturals and the Vapids, an enemy that could upset the natural balance by profiting from the removal of human souls. Max will learn that hard way that the version of history you read about in textbooks is always written by the winners, and until now, that has been the side she’s chosen.
To protect the human soul, Max agrees to become the only weapon that can fight against the Vapids. But, right now…she just needs a goddamn drink.
Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?
A: The thing that I find most exciting is that Proxy is something new to me. Even though I am writing it, I am discovering it for the first time. The premise is really nothing all that new, and while it is not truly a “chosen one” story, it does feel like that sometimes. The story is so hard to describe, and that is because I have such trouble finding something to compare it with, as I truly feel that by the end of the story, no matter how many familiarities you may find in the story, it proves itself very hard to define as one particular type of story.
The genre at times is undefinable, and I believe that is simply because it is a story written within a historical background. As a history teacher, I often explain to my students that history is the subject that encompasses all other subjects, and writing history is no different. Perhaps this is why is has been so easy to create a historical novel with science, fantasy, and humor aspects, with elements of sociological and political conflict. What is even more exciting is I never really know where the story is going to take me.
The other exciting thing about this story is that I genuinely say it is a female driven story. Now, that is not to say it is chick lit—far from it. Which, that clarification in itself makes me sad that I have to defend a female driven novel as “not chick lit,” but that’s an argument for another day. The story did not originally start out leaning so heavily on the female characters, but they kind of ran away with the plot. Many of the roles in the story that began with male characters shuffled to female characters over the eight years I have been writing. Having the females drive the plot meant that many of the periods in history became periods in which women were questioning their place in society or the limitations that bound them, so one of the underlying themes in the story is female enfranchisement and agency, But, then, as the great Gene Roddenberry taught us with Star Trek, science fiction has always been the best mechanism for discussing social justice issues without preaching about it.
Q: What (if any) are some novels (or films, games, etc.) that are similar to yours?
A: Many people who have read the excerpts has stated that it reminds them of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Their words of course, not mine—not that I mind being compared to the writer of Stardust and my favorite Doctor Who episodes—but, I am not bold enough to compare my writing to his. At least in concept, they are similar, since both deal with gods who have long since lost their power among human beings.
What I do hope people see when the read it is the influence from my favorite writers: Christopher Moore and Joss Whedon. Moore’s books have always been my favorite for the way they mix humor into fantasy. Plus, he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to dirty joke, and I have no filter. So, whether it is actually funny or not, that is up to the reader, by I have tried to make it as funny as it is dark. And, that is also influence that come from our lord and creator, Joss Whedon. One the best pieces of advice I have ever read on writing came from him:
What I love about that quote is it is basically my approach to life- humor is the best defense mechanism, and nothing in this world is so sacred can’t make fun of it.
Q: What was the most interesting bit of information you uncovered in your research?
One of the first books I read during my research for Proxy was a book called Spook that attempted to explain the science of the soul, mostly in how it had been studied in the past.
Now, as an atheist, the fact that I writing a book that asks serious questions about religion should surprise nobody, but I will admit that I do find religion and spirituality fascinating. It’s actually one of my favorite things to teach in World History. In fact, the idea for this book came to me in my sophomore year World Religions class in college during our section on Hinduism. I remember taking notes as we talked about the Trimurti, and the creation of all the souls in the universe at the conception of the universe, and a thought struck me: I wonder if Brahma accounts for growth? Is that something they control, especially considering that India is one of the most populous places in the world. What if they didn’t plan for it?
So, the original idea for Proxy was simple: What would happen if uncontrollable population growth lead to a shortage of souls?
Then, when I was reading Spook, I was struck again by an idea that anyone who loves science as much as me should have realized: Consciousness is just energy, right? It’s just a bunch of electrical signals that are interpreted by our brain as “thought.” And, the First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, on transformed. So… that means that when a person dies, the energy that is their consciousness has to go somewhere because it just can’t just die out. Where does it go? What does it become then? This became the basis for the science in my story. When the first sentient human beings began to die, their souls escaped their body as energy, and being sentient, it sought out a new host. But, after the first vessel, it is transformed. It began to need energy to sustain itself, and thus, the soul becomes a parasite. The funny thing is this actually has some historical truth in the fact that when human beings were hunter-gatherers, we were healthier, taller, and lived much longer. Now, in reality we know that it was the advent of a less healthy diet from agriculture in which we traded sustainability for diversity in our food supply that caused the early humans’ problems, but it also led to civilization. So, it wasn’t a huge leap to think that the price we paid for higher thinking and civilization was mortality.
Q: How much time is left in your campaign?
A: Currently there are 52 days left as of July 13th. It ends on 9/4.
Until the end of my campaign, I am holding a drawing every Friday to reward new readers and people who make the most referrals that result in orders. Prizes will consist of Proxy themed art, shirts, and glassware. Check my Facebook page for more information.
Q: Is this your first novel?
A: Officially, yes. I have written stories since I was a kid, but I really cut my teeth as a writer in fan-fiction. It sounds nerdy, but it was an excellent way to learn the mechanics of writing. It allows you to play with pre-created characters and concepts, so all you have to focus on is character voice, dialogue, and plot without the added pressure of world building. I always received compliments for my ability to capture the voice of the characters, and that I wrote realistic dialogue. Dialogue and description continue to be my strengths as a writer, and I built that strength writing fan-fiction before I moved to writing my own original works.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I’m always working on something, but the next project I plan to focus on will probably end up being a series. The concept is still pretty raw, but it is based on a campaign I created for our home brew table top game. It will be set fantasy world existing in a time period like that of the Early 1900’s, mixing dieselpunk, magic, and mythical creatures. I like to sell the concept as “magic, motorcycles, and mermaids.”
Being the child of the most famous and powerful couple in the history of the realm has become a bit played out for Imperatrix Verity Starling. She rebels, refusing the accept her responsibilities as Imperatrix. When a vision of being tethered to her own Sentinel is seen by the Priestess, she is forced to embrace the inevitable and begin the task of growing up, accepting her role as one of the few magically blessed half-Paragons and heir to the throne.
But, after she meets her Sentinel, Orion Gray, she gets much more distracted ideas. Blowing off lessons and skipping meetings with her Father’s cabinet- all in preparation for her assuming throne some day- Verity is constantly hounded to shape up. Having to live in the shadow of your parents is a burden for any young girl on the verge of adulthood, let alone the by-product of the a relationship that has become akin to fairytale, and deep down, she feels like there is not point in really trying- she could never live up to their legacy.
When her blissfully carefree world is blown apart, and she is spared from the carnage only due to her carelessness, she will be forced to accept that she may be the only person who can restore the realm in the wake of disaster. Unfortunately, she has to lose everything and grow up first.
A draft of this project is already posted in Inkshares.