Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Reese Hogan?
I’m a sci fi writer who loves to write books with a blend of high action and broken relationships. I’m also the mother of two very cool children. I love working out, and I’m obsessed with music, especially alt and punk rock.
Your latest novel, Shrouded Loyalties, is published this month by Angry Robot Books. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
It’s a dieselpunk spy fi about a submarine that can travel vast distances across the planet through an alternate realm inhabited by monsters. When Chief Sea Officer Blackwood receives strange powers during a mission through this realm, she is put in the hands of ruthless scientists to be studied, along with her partner, Holland. But she doesn’t know that Holland is an enemy spy… or that Holland’s partner has seduced her teenage brother Andrew and drawn him into enemy collaboration.
At the moment, Shrouded Loyalties is a standalone, but I am planning to pitch a sequel soon, and hope very much that it will be a series down the road.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I was inspired to write the setting by my interest in World War 2, and the storyline came together through a mishmash of other inspirations: the movie K-19, Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series, the tv show Chuck, and a newly discovered love of writing extremely broken relationships from both sides (newly discovered because I’d done it in my previous novel Holding the Ashes, and had a blast with it). As for inspiration, it can come from anywhere. I’ll often be inspired by seeing a really cool piece of art, or hearing lyrics from a song. I was even once inspired by an answer on Jeopardy!
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
Like so many others, my first memory of SFF is The Hobbit. I think it was the first full-length novel I ever read. My dad introduced me to it, and I used to read it to him every night when I was in first or second grade. As I got older, I discovered the Wheel of Time series, then the Miles Vorkosigan saga, then Star Wars… and on and on until the amazing things I’m still discovering today.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
Like any job, I love parts of it and struggle with other parts. Overall, I wouldn’t trade this job for any other. Being a writer has been a dream of mine since I was 14, and it’s been a very long road — so long, in fact, that I didn’t think I’d ever make it to this point and had just about made my peace with that. So now that I’m here, with my first traditionally published book, I take all of it, good and bad, as incredibly fortunate, and I don’t plan to waste a second of this opportunity. It’s been eye-opening and challenging and absolutely amazing.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
My main practice is just putting the time in. Writing is time-consuming, and you have to be patient with yourself. I take a minimum of two hours a day to write new material, and even if I end up erasing it or only get 500 words in, it’s still worth it. Other things — blog posts, interviews, researching, updating website, etc. — I do in the evening, when my attention is more likely to be split, but I make sure I have focused time to work on that new material every day, no matter what.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I started with poetry at the age of 12, mostly driven by pre-teen angst and inspired by my favorite music. I wrote my first novel at 14 — kind of a cross between an epic fantasy and space exploration — then moved on to novels about virtual reality and immortality and cloning. I remember teachers in high school telling me they hoped I’d get published someday. But I don’t remember consciously making the decision to BE an author, as a career, until my mid to late-twenties. And even then, it seemed like such a long shot that I never thought it would actually happen. It still doesn’t feel real to have come as far as I have.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I’m really excited about the direction of SFF today! I feel like a lot of us grew up on similar iterations of medieval epic fantasies and/or space operas, but I feel like the last decade has brought us an explosion of new ideas and unique directions in the SFF world. I’d like to think I’m part of that change; I’ve never followed a formula in my writing, and I’m always trying to think of things that either haven’t been done, or things that have been done but in a whole new way.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on sequel material for Shrouded Loyalties, to pitch to Angry Robot.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I was asked to blurb an anthology called Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline, which is a collection of fairy tales retold in dieselpunk settings. I’m really loving it!
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
I’m gonna go in an odd direction and recommend a kids’ book: The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. This is a great book for any artist to read, about how the perfect image in your mind never matches the product you come out with, and how to work with the frustration and emotions that triggers.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I like naming my stuff. My laptop’s name is Robot Boy (after a Linkin Park song), my phone’s name is iBorg (after a Star Trek episode), and my car’s name is A-Star (after our local black hole Sagittarius A*).
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
At the moment, I’m looking forward to visiting friends I met on the writing cruise in their hometown of Boston. I don’t get to go on writing retreats nearly as often as I’d like, and I treasure the friends I make every time I go. Plus, it’s Boston! In the fall! I’m also looking forward to pitching my sequel material and working on new stuff in general, and seeing where the next step takes me. It’s uncharted territory from here, which is something I haven’t had in a long while. It’s an exciting time!