Please give T. Frohock a very warm welcome. She kindly answered a few of my questions about her Los Nefilim series, and more!
Will you tell us a bit about Los Nefilim and what inspired you to write the series?
I’ve had the characters of Diago, Miquel, and Guillermo in the back of my mind for a very long time, and I wanted to do something unique with them. The trend toward novellas made me think of the old pulp novels of the nineteen thirties. These were short adventures that could easily be digested in one or two sittings. They were light reading that were heavy on adventure, which made them all the more fun.
In the pulps, each individual story was always part of a larger narrative, which is what I did with Los Nefilim (Spanish for The Nephilim—say it like “the Mob” and you’ve got the right idea). The first novella in the series, In Midnight’s Silence: Los Nefilim Part One, is a complete adventure with a beginning, middle, and end.
Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim Part Two is also a complete adventure, but the second novella picks up where the first left off, and so on for the third and final novella in this sequence, The Second Death: Los Nefilim Part Three. I wrote them with the omnibus in mind so that if someone wanted to, they could read the three novellas back-to-back, and they would read like a novel, or a pulp serial.
The hero of the Los Nefilim series is Diago Alvarez. He and his lover, Miquel, are part of Los Nefilim, a group of angelic Nefilim that monitors daimonic activity for the angels. The only thing is: Diago is not fully angelic. He is part daimon, part angel, and his very unique form of magic is sought by both sides in the conflict between angels and daimons. Diago moves through a world of espionage and partisan warfare with a rogues’ gallery filled with angels, daimons, and mortals.
They’ve just been a blast to write, and I have enjoyed working on them.
What kind of research did you do, and what is your writing process like?
I do a lot of different kinds of research for my novels. Good historical resources for the Spanish Civil War are finally becoming available, and I own several that I use for references. I also read novels and first person accounts set during the time period. Whereas a history will give the big political picture, novels and first person accounts of the war can give a lot of insight into details of everyday life. My other favorite thing to do is watch movies set during the late twenties and thirties, especially Spanish movies, because then I can pick up a lot of information about products that were used, the type of clothes that people wore, hairstyles, that sort of thing.
I have a friend in Barcelona who pointed me toward some excellent online resources from libraries. I also keep a Pinterest page with pictures and links to sites that talk about the Spanish Civil War.
The way I bring all of this information into the story is very gradual. What I generally do is write my scenes with what I call stage direction and dialogue—Diago goes to the door; Miquel lights a cigarette; Guillermo speaks—that kind of thing. Then I go back in and flesh out the thoughts and the interactions. I keep building on the details until the scene feels finished. I write like a lot of artists draw: first with a sketch, and then filling in the color and details until the picture is complete.
Why fantasy and SFF? What do you enjoy most about writing, and reading, in the genres?
I love Gothic fiction, because it roots around in all of the hidden places of our psyches, and manifests our character defects as monsters. Gothic is moody and atmospheric, leaning toward emotion over plots. I grew up on the old Dracula films, the monster movies that used to run every Saturday and Sunday evening. The Twilight Zone was another favorite, because it exemplified how the weird could seep into your everyday life.
For those reasons, I tend to gravitate toward literary horror and weird fiction in my reading preferences; although, I still love fantasy and science fiction, too.
What do you look for in a good story? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
I look for strong characterization and a central story to follow. I need at least one character that either fascinates me, or with whom I can heavily relate, in order to keep me hooked. Dark, weird fiction like that of Laird Barron is one of the rare exceptions to that rule. His work is enigmatic and his imagery is such that I am much more patient in following his stories. I also love stories with a philosophical bend to them, but again, characterization must be the primary thrust of the story. I read about people.
So any book that is all plot, or one that is cluttered with too many characters, will often cause me to lose interest and set the book aside.
It’s been a while since we caught up! Have you read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend?
Oh, yes! Several!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Alex Gordon’s Gideon, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Jericho. Gordon gives the Gothic a modern edge without losing the creepiness of other worlds/religions.
Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption teetered on the fault-line of horror and grimdark, and just kept me fascinated with his characters and wordplay.
The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis tickled all of the right triggers for excellent characterization, intense story, and a dose of philosophy tossed in to spice the mix.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve got a couple of projects rattling around in my head. One is a possible Los Nefilim novel, but I’m not saying too much about it yet. I’d like to expand my repertoire and experiment with literary horror, more Gothic stories, maybe under different names. I’m sort of at a crossroads right now, and I’ll determine my direction after a few events come to pass. I’m rediscovering my joy of writing, because if I don’t enjoy what I’m doing, the reader won’t either.
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