Let’s welcome, Gloria. I’m so glad to cross paths with a fellow fantasy romance lover, and I know you’ll enjoy getting to know her too! To win an ebook copy of her soon-to-be released novel, comment below.
Gloria, tell me a bit about your journey to publication.
I have a fairly traditional journey to publication – except for the promise that if you get one book published, you are on your way. [smile] I studied writing, read romance, wrote short contemporary romances, attended writing conferences and learned my craft and a bit about the business. My sixth completed novel was accepted by Barbour Publishing for their Heartsong Presents line in 1997. Christian fiction was just beginning to take off.
Then I got married and couldn’t write romance for a number of years. In 2001, I went with a local small press for the novel I’d finished writing the year I married because I had this marvelous idea of writing romance novels that were 100% Christian and 100% romance – meaning the characters were allowed some chemistry, too. My idea was that Christian women would buy the book for their non-Christian coworkers whom they knew loved to read romance but weren’t interest in “Christian romance” because of its perceived non-believability. The idea never took off and the book failed to sell, miserably.
In 2007, I published a novella in a four in anthology with Barbour Publishing, NASCAR themed.
By then my reading tastes had shifted to speculative fiction, more fantasy than sci-fi, but when it came to writing books, the stories still emerged in my head in the romance genre format. I began writing the first book in what has become the Children of the King series to practice writing better descriptions/settings. Set in the future, the story was a romance with speculative elements, the largest being a medallion that would take the main character directly into the presence of the King. I found a home for it in 2010 with Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc, then a young ebook only publishing house in San Diego, CA.
I’ve been writing a book a year for them, since. Dealing in Shadows is book 4.
That’s great, Gloria. I’m a huge fan of fantasy romance stories too. Now, where did you get the idea, as well as continued inspiration, for your novel?
Children of the King series is centered around the idea that in the future the King will send out his children to reclaim his lost lands. The focus is a fictional archipelago where each island is under a different spiritual deception that pertains to an ancient civilization as well as modern America. For example, the island in Washed Under the Waves was founded by ancient Roman citizens and deceived by entertainment. In The Fire Starter, the civilization was Greek and the deception was materialism – only believing in what your senses perceived.
To that main idea, I would add a particular element that could be used for allegorical purposes, thematic depth, and spiritual depth as a characteristic of the King—Waves, Fire, Ice, and Light, so far.
Then, I need to figure out the setting. The islands aren’t necessarily tropical or rational. It’s speculative and I create them to suit the story. And, of course, so I can practice writing better descriptions. [smile]
Your process is fascinating. Could you please describe your story’s setting?
So the setting in Dealing in Shadows is the Isle of Karoo. It was once a rainforest, but was stripped of its natural resources during the age it was colonized and so by the time of this story it is two-thirds desert and only one-third rainforest. The play off the ancient civilization is Australia’s history of being a penal colony. So was Karoo. However, now in its third generation of prisoners, a few of the people are beginning to rebel.
Other main aspect of the setting of this novel is the underground tunnels where the rebels live. A series of ancient waterways, these tunnels house the rebels who now hide from their government and work to free others from the penitentiary before they are sold off as slave labor.
The thematic element, as you might guess, is shadows, the play between Light and dark. The island deception is gambling, hence the title, Dealing in Shadows.
Again, I’m impressed. I’m more of a pantser myself, so I’m always fascinated with plotters. Tell me a bit about your main characters. Who did you have the most fun creating? Why?
You’re absolutely right. The next thing to figure out is the characters. First I need to decide whether it suits the story to have a man or a woman come from the King. In Dealing in Shadows, Prince Mitchell Chifley Monroe comes from the King on his first mission, not having been in the King’s service for long. He’s not confident. He’s not romance book pretty. And women terrify him. And, yes, he was a lot of fun to create, mostly because he was innately brave. Guards, dragons, rogue government leaders – Mitch was willing to face them all in the King’s strength. Oh, and he faces his greatest fear, a girl, the leader of the band of rebels.
Kylie Laperouse was a fun character, too, but I’ll admit that I didn’t get her developed as fully as I’d intended when I started writing the story. She had some history – her parents and grandparents started the rebellion and passed the responsibility of keeping it alive onto her. So whereas Mitch is humble, Kylie has some pride that she’s been called to great and important things. Of course, she’s also smart enough to realize that she’s not accomplishing great and important things, so her pride is tempered and I think readers will find her quite empathetic as she attempts to free all the members of her island.
What message do you hope your readers will take away after reading your novel?
First, that the King is Light and that he is the best place to live, not in prison, not in emotional prisons of our own fears, and not in caves and tunnels of darkness believing we are free.
Second, that walking in the Light is a moment-by-moment choice, one decision at a time.
What spiritual themes do you prefer to emphasize?
I find myself focusing a lot on God’s power and His right to write our story however He wants. I believe this world would be a much calmer, saner place if more and more people could grasp how much God loves them and wants good for them. He’s not a God who punishes without purpose, and His purpose is always for our good and His glory – and those two things really can work together in every circumstance.
When I take a characteristic of God, like Light, I try to bring out the different aspects of that facet of God. Of course I fail because God is too much to be explained fully, but I hope that I can help readers see God differently than they did before they read one of my books. Maybe feel His love as I show the King loving his children in different ways that suits their temperaments, personalities, and situations.
I’m a firm believer in God’s will, and His plans for us. Are you planning a sequel? Please tell me a bit about it.
I am. Book five, titled Lost in Beauty, is in the works. Its ancient civilization is Egypt, its people’s deception is physical appearance. Mina comes on mission from the King to marry the island’s pharaoh and lead its people into knowledge of the one true God. Hawk already believes in one god – sort of. Tradition says as pharaoh, he’s the son of Aten, one of Egypt’s many sun gods. Osaze Island is much like ancient Egypt with a river as its main water source that floods annually and keep the land fertile and prosperous. The bigger problems are how Mina’s going to deal with a society that expects her to radically change her appearance, and how Hawk’s going to survive a prophesied princess whose stated purpose is to change his thinking. Never mind why the island’s population continues to drop each year.
Gloria, thank you so much for venturing to other worlds with me today.
A Chance at Freedom
A Desperate Leader
Since her parents’ courageous sacrifice, Kylie Laperouse leads a band of rebels in the underground tunnels of Karoo. She lives to free prisoners from the governor’s systematic slavery and protect them from the island’s dragon. Kylie wonders if her mum’s promised help will ever arrive or if she’s simply moving people from one dark cell to another.
The King’s Man
Prince Mitchell Chifley Monroe likes his mission, but he’d rather forgo a princess. Women terrify him. Especially the bold gamblers on Karoo. He’s more unsettled to discover the one member of the rebel band who continually has his back is its fearless, female leader.
An Imprisoned Isle
As Mitch uncovers the secrets of Karoo, he finds a penitentiary isn’t necessary to keep a body cowering in shadows and nothing less than the King’s Light can defeat the blindness of generations controlled by fear.
Dealing in Shadows releases August 11th and can be ordered at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Desert Breeze Publishing.
Gloria Clover grew up on a small goat farm not far from where she currently lives in western Pennsylvania. Her first novel was published in 1997 and she continues to write contemporary romance, romantic mystery and speculative romance with the hope of illuminating various characteristics of the Lord Jesus. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian PEN, and local writing groups. She directs a One Day Writing Conference in April in Mercer County, PA. She attends Emmanuel Christian Church where she works in the Prayer Ministry, in Women’s Ministries, and American Heritage Girls. She enjoys reading, word and jigsaw puzzles, board games, adventure movies, lists, teaching, intimate conversation… basically anything that doesn’t take coordination. Follow Gloria at gloriaclover.com.
10 thoughts on “Speculative Romance: An Interview with Gloria Clover”
Great interview. To have speculative fiction in the Christian genre is a time-honored tradition (Tolkein, Lewis) and I am looking forward to reading yours.
Thanks! Speculative fiction is great fun, isn’t it?
Great interview, i have enjoyed this series and cant wait to read book 4!
Thanks, Cara. And for the visit and support this afternoon. You are beautiful inside and out.
Gloria, I enjoyed knowing more of your writing journey, you success and your obedience to God. You’re a good writer and I wish you the best with this new book.
Thanks, Jude. This really is a fun series to write.
Love speculative fiction. You go, Gloria.
Thanks, Vijaya. I read your Alien Lockdown some years ago — I don’t know if that setting wormed its way into my subconscious for the idea of a penitentiary on Karoo, or not. 🙂
Sounds like a great series, Gloria! I’ll have to check it out.
LK, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your support!