Interview with Rebecca Roanhorse

Today we welcome Rebecca Roanhorse to the blog. Her new book, Trail of Lightning, is being released today and she’s here to share a little about the book and her writing.

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Saga Press

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

Congratulations on your recent Nebula win. What led you to speculative fiction?

I’ve been a speculative fiction fan my whole life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading science fiction and fantasy, and, frankly, I can’t remember when I wasn’t writing it. It’s been my comfort and my shield, as well as where my dreams flourish. It’s what I love.

The cover of your book is fantastic. What are the things that stand out to you in the image?

First of all, that there are two Navajo characters on the cover and neither of them are wearing feathers, braids, or any of the typical trappings non-Natives think of when they think of Native people. In fact, they look pretty rock and roll. Leather jacket, AC/DC t-shirt. These are contemporary depictions of Native characters and I love it. But there is a nod to the traditional in Maggie’s mocassins, which are called Ké Ntsaaí. And there’s a nod to rez life in the ’72 Chevy truck. I love everything about the cover.

What kinds of monsters are wandering around in Dinétah?

Discovering the nature of the monsters is part of the fun of reading the book so I won’t spoil that. But many of the monsters you’ll see in this book, and the rest of the books in the series, will come from both Navajo legends and contemporary interpretations of what monsters would be like. They’re sometimes real and sometimes metaphorical. Sometimes manifest physically, sometimes are the kind that live inside us all. And Maggie must fight them all.

I’m excited to meet Maggie. What is she like and what drives her?

First and foremost, Maggie is a survivor. But surviving has made her tough and abrasive and hard to like. I always say I’m not sure I’d want to be her BFF, but I definitely want her on my side in a fight. But all that toughness is also hiding a person who wants family and who wants love. Part of her journey will be learning how to find that.

You may or may not know any supernaturally gifted monster killers, but are there any women you know or admire who have some of Maggie’s strengths?

Maggie reminds me of a lot of Native women. Statistics show that 1 in 3 Native women are survivors of violence and thousands of Native women have gone missing – you can find out more about that by following the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women hashtag #MMIW. With odds like that against us, we have to be survivors. Maggie is a bit of all of us.

What can we look forward to in the next book in the series?

The next book in the series is called Storm of Locusts and will be out April of 2019. I call it my post-apocalyptic girlgang road trip down Route 66. It’s readers chance to see a bit of what the larger world looks like and meet new characters, including a cult leader with a thing for locusts, body harvesters and newborn casino gods. It should be a lot of fun.

Rebecca Roanhorse: SFF writer. Nebula winner. Hugo Sturgeon and Locus Award Finalist. Campbell Award Finalist. Pug owner. Yale grad. Lawyer. Ohkay Owingeh /Black. Navajo in-law. Based in Northern New Mexico.