Monday, September 15, 2014

I'm pleased to welcome Robert Dahlen, author of "The Monkey Queen!"

1. Hello and welcome to my blog! To start off, what made you decide to take the plunge into the world of publishing?

It's a combination of two things: The desire to tell stories, and the realization that this may be my last and best chance to do so in front of any sort of audience. The trigger was a sequence of three events: Winning enough money so that I could afford a tablet to let me write on my commute, then discovering the existence of indie publishing, then finding a synopsis for a comic series I had come up with 15 years prior that I realized could make a good series of books.

2. Tell me about your book.

It's a fantasy adventure about a kidnapping and the two women who are out to solve it - Michiko, a young hero with a wisecracking streak, and Beth, a college student/geek girl who gets swept up in events when she discovers a secret about herself. It's about the beginning of their friendship. It's the start of a series, but it's a complete story, cliffhanger-free. I'm biased, but I think it's a fast, funny, satisfying read.

(And there's a snarky guinea pig. You'd be snarky too if you were a once-powerful but selfish sorcerer who was stuck in Limbo for a thousand years, and then reincarnated as something cute and furry.)

3. How long have you been writing?

Well, I was making up stories with stuffed animals and (God help me) Hot Wheels cars when I was eight, so let's just say that's a long time. I got serious about it for awhile in the eighties and nineties, dialed back (but never stopped completely) for a number of years, caught the fire again in March 2013, and haven't stopped since.

4. What authors do you derive inspiration from?

Just authors? I can point to Tolkien and Leiber and Gaiman and Pratchett, but I've also been inspired by Chuck Jones, Hayao Miyazaki, Charles Schulz, Stan Sakai (read Usagi Yojimbo!), the staff behind Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, five dozen musical artists on my iPod, and another 100-odd sources. Not to mention Wu Cheng'en and everyone who followed him. If I had to narrow it down, I'd point to webcomics artist Phil Foglio (with a nod to his talented wife Kaja); he's the only one out there I consciously tried to emulate at any point. And if we have to stick to prose, well, my favorite fantasy novel (heck, my favorite book period) is Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart.

5. If you could achieve one goal with your writing, what would it be?

World Domination! Leveraging the Monkey Queen franchise until I am king of all entertainment, sitting proudly on my throne while all-girl K-Pop bands sing my praises!... Seriously, if I could get a core audience of fans that like what I write and want to read more, that would be enough, be it 500 fans or 50,000.

6. What do you do when you're not writing?

Well, I have a full-time job that I don't plan on quitting soon, with a long commute on public transit, so I don't have a lot of free time, and I've been using a lot of that to promote this book and write more. I do try to keep up with webcomics, the occasional novel or movie, and time with family. And one of these days I should see if the oven in the new apartment does a good job on chocolate chip cookies.

7. When can we expect your next books?

It depends on whether on not the cover artist - hey, that reminds me, I haven't talked about Willow yet! She did the wonderful cover art you see here, and you can see more of her work at ! Anyway, I need to find out if she's free soon to do the cover for the second Monkey Queen book. If she is, I'm hoping to get it published in time for Thanksgiving weekend reading!

Off-beat questions

1. I see you write fantasy. If you could live in any fantastical universe, what would it be?

I actually gave this some thought a while back, and I realized that my life expectancy in most fantastical universes would be disturbingly short. As in, doesn't survive season one/first book in the trilogy short. I might consider the Discworld if we're sticking with prose, but my first actual choice would be...Duckburg. Really. All the comforts of home, advanced technology, and there's always the chance that Uncle Scrooge might drag you off on a treasure hunt. (I just don't want to live in Donald Duck's immediate neighborhood. He has to be rough on property values. And property.)

2. One of your main characters is asked, "How would you like to help me save the world?" If you were asked this by a random stranger, what would your response be?

Good question! What would I say? It depends. If I'm just walking down the street or waiting in line for something and someone approaches me with that question, my response would probably be "You may want to check your meds," or maybe ""

But if I've just discovered that a good friend of mine actually looks like an elf straight out of Lord of the Rings, pointed ears and all, and then I get chased by a monster that shouldn't exist, and then I'm rescued by a hypercute teenage girl with a magic staff, I mean really magic as in grows fifty feet high, and then said teenage girl asks me that question, my response would probably be, "I'm listening."

And Beth has a different response from the ones above...and that's when things get interesting. In the "may you live in interesting times" sense of the word...

(Hope you don't mind that I reworded the last question to actually fit what Michiko says to Beth at one point.)

Author bio:
 Fantasy novelist, all-around wisecracker and penguin aficionado, Robert Dahlen lives in California with lots of penguins (no surprise), a tablet stuffed with e-books and works in progress, and a long-suffering wife. He is hopefully working on more Monkey Queen stories as you read this. And FYI, his last name is pronounced "duh-LANE", as in "The rain in Spain falls mainly on Dahlen," which really freaks out everyone at the Weather Channel.

Buy links:
Kobo --

1 comment:

  1. Regarding question seven: Willow has the time! Look for the official announcement soon, Monkey Queen fans! And thanks again for having me, K.J.!