SPFBO 8 Author Spotlight: R. Ramey Guerrero with Dust of a Moth’s Wing

This is the last weekend in July, and today I have R. Ramey Guerrero for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 8 Spotlight. Ramey’s SPFBO 8 entree, Dust of a Moth’s Wing is also eir debut novel and the beginning of a thirteen book series following an ex-convict who might be the one to usher in the Age of Fire. We’ll find out more about that below. First, let’s introduce Dust of a Moth’s Wing.

book cover for The Age of Fire book one, Dust of a Moth's Wing, by R. Ramey Guerrero. Surreal, dark nightmare colors. A man with deer-like ears in a woven shirt is lying under a giant purple scorpion about to sting him, with the moon shining through a gap in the trees. Eerie.The age of Fire begins in six days.

For fifteen hundred years, Slate and the other rebels have trained students to return Fire’s energy to the city of Wen. All have failed. Only one is left, and Nokhum’s past is less than ideal. If he cannot convince the Council of Elders to allow Fire magic to return, chaos will claim the city. The rebels are determined to avoid that end— even if it means sacrificing his student to chaos’s demons to make the Council believe Fire’s energy is necessary.

Magically talented people are disappearing.

Nokhum is convinced that his life-mate is still alive— no matter what everyone else says. Human slavers who salivate for magical beings have taken her. Realizing the Council of Elders will not help him, he seeks forbidden magics to find her. His plans are derailed when Slate sends him out of the city for training. Will his time in the Whisperwood be his undoing?

I love that cover! It is one of my favourites!

And now, onto the Questions!

As a Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) Entrant, you’re not just independently as opposed to traditionally published, but self-published. Can you start by explaining a bit about why you chose that route and how it’s been for you?

I’ll be honest; self-publishing is challenging. I chose this route because I am writing a thirteen-book series without having the books themselves be stand-alones. That would have been a hard sell. I didn’t want to query for 10 years, essentially selling my whole series by that time, and I was not willing to simplify the plot because plot A cannot survive without plot B and C. I also wanted to design my cover because I hate the traditional, plain character covers (for mine, yours is probably fine). I wanted all of my covers to be action scenes.

I knew that would leave me responsible for editing, proofing, and marketing. Marketing has been a whole beast on its own. I am not good at it at all, and I’ve sold about 50 books total. I’ve had a real struggle with reviews and keywords. I’ve tried services for ARCs by giving out 500 copies, but it’s been four months and no reviews. I’m working with someone for keywords, but I’ve not had any success yet.

I love your approach to book covers! (There’s just so many things about traditional publishing that can be a real turn-off.)

On a related note, why did you enter the SPFBO contest? A number of people have related that they find it pretty stressful. How do you feel about it so far? Or has it not affected you much?

Peer pressure.

I’m just kidding! I entered, not necessarily with the hope of winning, but the hope of gaining visibility. I had recently gotten honorable mention for a segment of Dust of a Moth’s Wing, and I thought it would be cool.

Contests don’t really affect me. I usually just drop my name in and forget about it until I get an email explaining the findings.

That’s a nice, sensible way to handle it.

Book titles. Why did you choose the title you did for your book? Take this wherever you want; an analysis of how it fits your book (if that’s not a spoiler you’d rather not share); the inspiration for your title; how the title makes you feel. As short or as in-depth as you like.

People of my main character’s tribe are divided into the soil steward lineage and the dust steward lineage. Soil is to be nurtured, while dust is to be swept away. Nokhum is born of dust, having the taint in his blood from Goblin ancestry. A derogatory term for someone like this is Moth. Moths have scales on their wings that come off like dust if you touch them. These are the thoughts in my mind while coming up with the title Dust of a Moth’s Wing.

I like the depth of your world-building and that comes through in your title. Also I think Dust of a Moth’s Wing (especially when coupled with later titles in your series) has a really nice ring to it. Sort of a rhythm.

I won’t ask for your favourite scene since I know some people don’t have those (wink wink), but can you share a scene you really like and you just can’t believe how awesome it is every time you go back to re-read it, that you don’t consider to be a spoiler? Alternately, you can share something about a character you really like. Or both, if you want.

My favorite scene is when my characters find themselves fallen into another world, where the trees are brightly colored with golden leaves and colorful animals talk. I tried to give these animals imp-like qualities. They are not to be trusted, but Atnu has no other choice if he wants to save Nokhum.

I really enjoyed creating the aesthetic of this world because it could be whatever I wanted it to be, without fearing for realism. This is where they meet Nyara, a helpful Sky Person with ulterior motives. She will be a side POV for the duration of the series, only appearing at night. Her motivation for helping will be revealed in time. She appears as a child with a blue-black, starry complexion and hair like an afro of clouds. Although she only looks to be nine or ten, she is well studied in the magical arts, including blood magic.

It’s really fun to be able to play around without worrying about realism! Things get real interesting.

Same sort of thing as with the last question, except this time what about a quote? One to five lines or so, but this isn’t math. You don’t need to count the periods (or question marks, exclamation points, or other sentence-enders).

Years ago, their circle was thrice this size. 

Young, old, poor, wealthy– they all came together in secret to dissolve the oppression. It was too broad a goal. Those who hadn’t perished under the harsh new laws, decided to separate because of various concerns. Schisms of ideals, execution of plans, disputes of morality, or simple fear. Now, their revolution had dwindled to twelve.

—Slate, tribe of Onryx

Very understandable. And very frustrating.

In your world, there’s a Wheel of Elements and the tribes of your main character’s people, the Lowasii, are each connected to the Wheel. The Wheel is about to turn to the Age of Fire, and the tribe of Imbyr, Fire, is lost.  Can you share a little about that?

The Wheel of Elements had thirteen elements as spokes, including fire, water, salt, clay, soil, stone, ect. When Fire was banished and the tribe of Imbyr with it, it caused the Wheel to wobble. If imbalance were to continue, time would crack, releasing chaos.

The Wheel of Elements was directly linked to the boundary around the great city of Wen. Because the Wheel was missing an element, it would not have been able to support the boundary. Fortunately, the Sea Temple had a solution.

Salt’s main ability was to cleanse other magics. By making Salt stronger, the Sea Temple was able to neutralize the energies the other elements created. Once again, the Wheel of Elements was balanced.

That is so interesting! I love the balance and harmony of the Wheel.

Could you share about what inspired you to create the Wheel of Elements?

I was inspired to create the Wheel of Elements after seeing the Indian flag for the first time in fifth grade. At the time, my school was a part of a children around the world pageant thing. I went to an extremely Evangelical school, and one of the teachers was discussing whether the Indian flag should be allowed, because in her words, the wheel was a symbol of witchcraft. Witches, at this school, were tied to all bad things.

Being an eleven-year-old with no ability to research what the flag actually represented, my tiny mind spun with possibilities. I gave it thirteen elements to be unluckier. It evolved into a lunar calendar.

The Wheel of Elements was a part of the Old Ways, but the lunar calendar was what the Council of Elders developed after Fire was banished.

This was largely symbolic for me. Just the year before, I was living the life of a little heathen, and I was happy(ish). I enjoyed reading fantasy, which no longer was allowed. This was because we were taken away from our family to live with a new family. Everything changed, from not being allowed to watch, listen to, or read anything secular to being monitored almost every minute of the day. Even my conversations with my peers were scrutinized, and the number of students in my Evangelical school that I was allowed to befriend shrank by the day because they weren’t Evangelical enough.

This restrictive environment is what I mirrored in Wen. The Wheel of Elements was one way to distinguish the Old Ways vs the new. I wanted to portray a society undergoing a change from paganism to a monotheistic theocracy. I wanted to show how those Old Ways and rituals were often incorporated into the new religion.

That’s really interesting how you came up with that! Can I say I hope Wen returns to the Wheel of Elements?

What would you like to share? Take this in any direction you consider to be related to your book and your writing.

I recently entered the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest with a segment of Dust of a Moth’s Wing. I got honorable mention, and I thought that was pretty cool. My certificate is at my sister’s house, and I’m so excited about it.

That does sound exciting!

To cope with disabling mental illnesses, R. Ramey Guerrero created a world of their own to explore. Their apartment in San Antonio transformed into forests, cliffs, and sea shores. With pen and paper, they filled their world with creatures and people as diverse as a world should be. Now, R. Ramey Guerrero edits fantastic stories written by amazing authors with a kitty on their lap. They live in the medical center in an apartment by the woods with their pets. Two cats: Enki and Katara. An Australian shepherd: Tlaloc. A box turtle: Gaia. Two red-eared sliders: Atl and Tera. And a ball python: Artemis.

Ramey has two books coming out this year. One is a Middle Grade horror called The Boogeyman’s Portal, published under the name Rae Ramey, that will be coming out around Halloween (it takes place over Christmas).

The other is Poison from a Scorpion’s Sting, the second book in The Age of Fire, and it comes out on November 11nth!

The Nez’kali has failed.

Slate’s actions are to blame. Without Adahai to advocate for fire’s return, no one protested in the streets. There is only one day before the Age of Fire, and the Nez’kali is near death and under the scrutiny of the Council of Elders. Can Slate convince Wasii Pon Ruwa that Nokhum is not a danger to the people?

Here is Ramey’s Linktree. Where you can buy her books, or find her website and Social Medias.


Other SPFBO 8 Author Spotlights

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