To the End with Collared Souls
A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to have Lex Chase interview me and post said interview on her blog. I'm reposting it here for anyone who didn't see it when it originally went up.
Dreamspinner Press author Elizabeth Noble may appear like an unassuming veterinary nurse, but in fiction she delights readers with post-apocalyptic worlds and the will to survive. Her new release in the long running “Sentries” series is the fourth volume called “Collared Souls” is due out April 3, and she elaborated on the next chapter in the characters Todd and Nick’s lives.
“The story takes place in the future, several hundred years after a natural disaster drastically alters society and things as we know it,” she said via email interview. “There is sex, monsters, horses, fights, betrayal, something for everyone. The series centers around Todd Ruger, a very special kind of hunter and his slave Nick. Bonded as children they become true comrades in arms, fighting side by side against foes both seen and unseen. Bound by love, they are mates for life, each willing to do what it takes to protect the other. Fourth in the series is titled ‘Collared Souls’ and our guys go back to the village where Nick was raised. There they not only discover personal history, but uncover a conspiracy that could determine the fate of a war.”
THE WORLD OF SENTRIESWhen it comes to the intricate worldbuilding featured “Sentries,” Noble maintains it’s not necessary to plot out every blade of grass, every star in the sky, or need hands-on experience in knife fighting. Wait. Knife fighting?
Noble offered the answer.
“I have a friend who is disturbingly good at things like knife and fist fights, so I have to credit her with making mine flow so well. Actually I’m afraid not to…,” she said with a laugh.
Senseless violence aside, Noble elaborated upon another kind of violence such as natural disasters and how they factor into “Sentries.”
“In order to make this sort of story line plausible I had to reinvent society and the world,” she said. “I did that, in part, by using the Wyoming Supervolcano. There is more to that particular part of the story and ‘Collared Souls’ gives us much more detail on the how and why things went the way they did including the evolution of sentries and how the slave industry was established. Basically, I had a good idea of the geographical location of the story, what it would be like in terms of climate and if there were any changes from how it looks now.”
Between just winging it and hoping for the best, and having ideas, Noble explained the difference.
“I had the basics of the society and added to that and developed it from there as the story progressed,” she said. “I worked out the generalities, and allowed the world to evolve as I wrote. Societies, people and planets are not static, they change. I try to allow that to happen in the creation of my worlds.”
Noble gave her biggest tip for authors new to building extravagant worlds.
“Know what you want and be flexible in the worldbuilding,” she said.
REDEFINING MASTERS AND SLAVESNobel maintains “Sentries” isn’t the typical Dominant/submissive book, and she went out of her way to make her own twist on Masters and Slaves.
She offers the origin of Todd and Nick, and well as the origin of “Sentries” as a whole.
“I was reading the posts on a LiveJournal community where people searching for a certain story, or type of story leave messages,” she said. “I read a post where someone was looking for a story featuring an arranged marriage between the two main characters. The very next thread was someone looking for a story about two people who knew from the time they were very young they were always meant to be together.”
You could say the rest is history, but Noble had some logistics to work out, she explained.
“My use of an Owner/Slave relationship is a bit different than most,” she said. “Todd, the owner, was forced into his role as a child. His slave becomes the center of his world, the true partner and family he’s always yearned for. Nick, the slave is smart, educated and prides himself on being an asset to Todd. The Owner/Slave system was one thing I did put a lot of thought into and had all sorts of details worked out beforehand. While there is a D/s relationship little of that is because one is an Owner and one is a Slave. It’s more of a result of the fact it’s something these guys like.”
She elaborated further on the twists and turns she made the standard Dominant/submissive model most readers know.
“As the series progresses it becomes more and more apparent that the roles each plays within their relationship have come about because of each man’s personal wants, desires and likes,” she said. “Their sexual relationship, as is most couples’, is independent from their jobs and place in their society. I think they would have the same sort of relationship if there was no Owner/Slave element to the story. There is a lot of variation on how slaves are treated by various people, not everyone has the same opinion and I try to show that.”
What does this mean for Todd and Nick? Noble continued.
“Nick wears a collar and has Todd’s initials branded into the inside of his wrists,” she said. “To him they do not symbolize captivity, but the partnership he has with Todd. Slaves receive varied and extensive educations in order to be an asset to their eventual owners. I think one aspect that sets them apart from other slave books, is Nick is very accepting and proud of his position. It is Todd who was forced into becoming an owner and struggles through the times he has to act as Nick’s master not his mate.”
THE FUTURE FOR NOBLE Noble says with her constantly full schedule, she lives by the productivity apps such as Microsoft OneNote on her smartphone to keep her on task. She lamented she almost never uses her phone to make calls. But what’s on her phone besides her life? Noble dished on her upcoming projects.
“I’m currently working on the fifth book of the ‘Sentries’ series, ‘Tethered Pair,’” she said. “Most of the book takes place on an old time riverboat. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine to write that type of story. There are gamblers and demons to name a few things.”
But if that wasn’t enough, Noble says she’s also cooking up an urban fantasy series with Dreamspinner Press author Anne Barwell called “Sleepless City.”
“It’s an urban fantasy that involves vampires—good and bad—and some werewolves. We hope to start releasing them this year,” she said. “The first book, which Anne is writing is ‘Shades of Sepia.’ Anne is very nice to work with. She’s very open to ideas and we spend a lot of time in chat plotting and planning the series and our books. She and I both like paranormal books, movies and TV and the whole thing sort of blossom out of our mutual interests and tastes. We had many of those ‘I’d like to read a series like this’ sort of conversations. The idea of an urban fantasy with the vampires was hers, and I just sort of horned in on it.”
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