Friday, December 3, 2021

6 Books With Valerie Valdes

 Valerie Valdes lives in an elaborate meme palace with her husband and kids, where she writes, edits and moonlights as a muse. She enjoys crafting bespoke artisanal curses, playing with swords, and admiring the outdoors from the safety of her living room. Her debut novel Chilling Effect was shortlisted for the 2021 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and was also named one of Library Journal’s best SF/fantasy novels of 2019. The sequel, Prime Deceptions, was published in September 2020. Join her in opining about books, video games and parenting on Twitter @valerievaldes.

Today she tells us about her Six Books:

1. What book are you currently reading?

I'm currently reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, not just as research for one of my novels, but also because it's a welcome perspective on more hopeful and healthy ways to think about the relationship between humans and nature. It's so easy to fall into despair over climate change these days, and so much futuristic fiction revolves around the elimination or subjugation of the natural world in ways that maybe aren't examined as closely as they could be. Sloane Leong recently published an essay, "The Nature of a Natural Future," that also examines this trend and how to push back against it. So looking to better methods people have used in the past, and considering how to apply those lessons to visions of secondary worlds and possible futures, feels really vital and important to me right now.

2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?

There are so many amazing books coming soon, it's hard to pick just one! I'm a sucker for secrets and mysteries and cool fight scenes, so The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport has been on my TBR for a while. The cover looks awesome, and I feel like a space fantasy trend is coming up that I am extremely here for, with this book promising to be a great blend of magic and tech. While strong women can be strong in ways that aren't all about their physical prowess, I will always love to read about ladies who kick ass. And having to fight their way to the top in a society that devalues them and would kill them for existing? Hell yeah.

3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?

I've been thinking about The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin a lot as I've been working through my current project, because the ways in which it approaches the construction of the two central societies and their shared history are deep and perceptive. It works on a macro and micro level as a world study as well as a character study, and the nonlinear narrative structure maintains suspense and feeds information in a way that fascinates me. Her observations about capitalist structures as filtered through the narrative point of view made me laugh out loud sometimes, and groan at other times, and more than anything they made me want to rethink every default assumption I grew up with about how cultures and economies function. What is inevitable, and what is merely presented as such by people with a vested interest in preserving the status quo?

4. A book that you love and wish that you yourself had written.

 I wish I had written basically every book by T. Kingfisher, more or less, but Paladin's Grace blends so many excellent elements together--perfume, poison, magic and faith, love and despair and duty... Sometimes it feels like paladins are perceived as these strange pastiches of secondhand Arthuriana filtered through D&D, whose conflicts inherently revolve around how their lawful good natures must be broken on the rack of reality to force them to become somehow evil or lawless. Kingfisher doesn't do that; she explores other conflicts and quandaries inherent in the characters themselves, their dreams and fears, and yes, sometimes how they struggle to live in a world that's potentially hard for them to navigate. It's incredibly refreshing.

5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

I will never not have The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in my writer DNA. I think my humor trends toward Pratchett a bit more, especially in the ways I reach for parody and satire, but I read Douglas Adams first, and he instilled in me a love for absurdity and observation of the human condition that I've carried with me ever since. His wry asides and occasional long-winded digressions aren't super in fashion right now in most books, but I still find them hilarious. His were some of the first stories that challenged me to look at things I took for granted and considered normal, and analyze them from an outside perspective that rendered them differently.

6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome? 

My newest book is Fault Tolerance, coming in May 2022! It wraps up a lot of the loose ends from the previous two books in the series, and shows the crew really coming into their own as strong, capable people willing to face impossible odds despite being utterly outclassed. I've said before that in some ways, this is a dark mirror version of Mass Effect, where the characters aren't epitomes of awesomeness; instead, they're people with a particular set of skills who are just trying to get by in a big, tough universe. While I'd planned the arc of this book since the beginning, a lot of the details and minutiae were impacted by the pandemic, so some of the emotional landscape may be familiar. In particular, the ways in which the governments react to the crisis at hand range from okay to really, really bad, and some of that was definitely me being up in my feels about real life. Also like the previous books, this one is a love letter to certain cartoons and video games, and features one of my absolute favorite moments to write because of its pure, unmitigated ridiculousness. I can't wait to have readers yell at me like my editor did when she reached that part!

Thank you Valerie!

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.