Featuring Loren Rhoads
How I became an author:
My mom was a firm believer in naps. When I was 5, I didn’t really need to nap, but my 3-year-old brother walked in his sleep and the doctor suggested maybe he was overtired. So my mother brought us both into her big bed and laid down with one of us on either side of her. She’d fling an arm across my brother and a leg over me to hold us still until naptime was over.
Unable to sleep or even to wiggle, I told myself stories to pass the hours. My favorite book at the time was Peter Pan. I hated Wendy, who sucked the fun out of everything, but I idolized Princess Tiger Lily, who would rather be tied to a rock and drowned than betray her friends. In the stories I told myself, I was Tiger Lily’s best friend, standing up to Captain Hook and flying off on adventures with Peter. I still like those strong female characters.
Something quirky about me:
I love to visit cemeteries. In addition to my novels, I’ve written two books about visiting cemeteries around the world: 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. Brian Thomas (my co-author) and I managed to write 3 cemeteries into Angelus Rose: Forest Lawn, where they have a huge stained glass replica of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper; Westwood Memorial Park, where Marilyn Monroe is buried; and Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, which served as a backdrop for the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If I knew I would die tomorrow:
If I knew I would die tomorrow, I would go out to breakfast at Louis’ Restaurant overlooking the ocean. I’d get a table by the window, where I could watch for whales swimming by. I’d order waffles drowning in syrup and get all hopped up on coffee, then I’d walk along the Land’s End trail to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, which stands on the grounds of the former City Cemetery. The headstones were removed in the 1920s, but most of the bodies still lie under the grass. I’d sit on the bench in the sunlight and gaze over the mouth of the San Francisco Bay at the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d just enjoy the beauty with my husband and kid. That would be the perfect day, whether I was going to die soon or not.
What can we expect in the future:
My first novel, still unpublished, was about a young witch named Alondra DeCourval. I’ve written a bunch of stories about her traveling around the world and encountering magical creatures from a siren in Venice to a fox spirit in Tokyo to the monster that lives under the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve collected the stories into a couple of short ebooks on Amazon, but I would like to publish some novels about Alondra’s adventures. I’ve got 3 books in various states of done, but I’d like to settle down and finally tell her story.
About the characters in the As Above, So Below books:
The hero is an angel named Azaziel, although he prefers to be called Aza. The succubus who falls in love with him teases him about his name. She thinks there ought to be an ‘El” in there somewhere. He’s missing the honorific that denotes his Heavenly origin.
Azaziel’s backstory in our novels was inspired by a play by Lord Byron called Heaven and Earth: A Mystery. In that story, Azaziel falls in love with Anah, one of Cain’s granddaughters. When God sends the Flood, Azaziel tucks Anah under his wings and flies away to another plane.
My co-writer Brian Thomas asked what would happen if Azaziel outlived Anah but wasn’t forgiven — not necessarily for loving her, but for stepping away from his duties to be with her. Basically, Aza was faced with a no-win situation: save the woman he loved or let her drown. He’s never forgiven himself for making a choice. It gave us some juicy stuff to play with.
Our heroine, the succubus Lorelei, was inspired by a woman I knew at university. Kimmy lived across the hall from me in the dorm. She was beautiful: large very dark eyes, long mahogany hair, heart-shaped face. She wasn’t very tall, but she was seriously curvy. I wasn’t surprised to find she’d done catalog modeling in high school.
Mostly what I remember about Kimmy was her presence. She made everything more fun. When she came into a room, every head turned toward her, but she wasn’t obnoxious about it. She didn’t seem to crave attention; she just accepted it as normal.
Kimmy was always ready for anything. When Playboy came to town, looking to photograph Girls of the Big 10, she considered it. When she met another girl who had been contacted by a Greek millionaire who was looking for pretty girls to come lounge around on his yacht in their bikinis, she considered it. I think her curiosity about that lifestyle was matched by a small-town naivety that didn’t really guess what that kind of deal would demand in return. In consequence, I felt protective of Kimmy. I didn’t want her trusting nature to lead her into a situation she couldn’t charm her way out of.
Lorelei came directly out of that feeling. I wanted to explore the possibilities laid out in front of Kimmy, but know that Lorelei would survive them. I wanted to give Kimmy a happy ending and a boyfriend she wanted just as much as he wanted her. And I wanted to guarantee she’d never lose her fearlessness or sense of fun.
How did we come up with the title:
The working title of the original book was Hex Vex Sex. I had a long-sleeved black t-shirt that I’d bought on Haight Street with the slogan written down its sleeve. Brian thought the phrase summed up our story, from Lorelei’s initial seduction of Aza, to Aza’s possessing Lorelei with a mortal girl’s ghost, then their eventual Happy For Now ending.
Along the way, the book’s title changed to As Above, So Below, which we took from the old magical texts. In fact, the first novel was originally published under that title in 2013. When we got the rights back, we changed that novel’s title to Lost Angels, which is the name of the bar where Lorelei works in Los Angeles.
The second book is called Angelus Rose. We talked about changing it a couple of times, but never came up with anything we liked better.