Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Special Guest Loren Rhoads Is Inspired By Tentacles

Today I'm very pleased to host fellow tentacle lover, Loren Rhoads. Her inspiration came directly from an octopus and resulted in an intriguing alien gender fluid character. Her book looks like a must read!

Character Inspiration…with Tentacles
by Loren Rhoads

One of the characters in my novel Kill By Numbers was inspired by a coconut octopus that lives at the California Academy of Sciences. The day I visited her, she walked across her tank. I’m not sure why I thought she might stride by on the tips of her tentacles, but her tentacles were bent so that the lowest third clutched the ground lightly as she ran.

She used five legs to run, shifting her weight quickly from one tentacle to the next.  The other three tentacles she clutched close to her body, curled up so that only the sensitive tips hung free.

Later, she climbed the glass in front of me.  She was able to peel each suction cup up individually. When she got ready to climb off the glass, she hung on with a couple of legs and let her body and the other legs drop. I was surprised by the speed with which gravity took her, she didn’t appear to be.  She remained in complete control.

My Dagat engineer Vezali joined the crew of the antique Veracity because she likes to tinker.  She speaks through a translator which she wears on a braided gold chain around her midrift.  The translator uses a high-pitched girlish voice, but Vezali herself is actually neutral gender at the time of the book.  She understands binary gender and allows the crew to use female pronouns to refer to her, but gender for her people is actually more complicated than that.

When she was younger, Vezali was male and fathered children. Now she is in an interim phase. When she matures, she will return to her homeworld, mate, and retire to tend her eggs.  Like the coconut octopus, she will not eat while she waits for her children to hatch.  She will not long survive their birth.

I wanted to explore friendship between a human woman and a creature so alien.  Vezali’s coloration changes with her mood, but Raena (my main character) can’t read it.  Vezali has no expressions that Raena can decipher. Their interactions are reliant on a piece of machinery that may not correctly convey Vezali’s emotions, yet they come to trust each other and enjoy each other’s company.

It’s not often I can track my characters so directly to one source.  Vezali was so much fun to write about that I may continue her adventures in a short story or two.

About the Author
Loren Rhoads is the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes – the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy – all coming from Night Shade Books in 2015.  Visit her website at

Kill By Numbers
Author: Loren Rhoads
Series: In The Wake of The Templars
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Page: 288
ISBN-10: 1597808318
ISBN-13: 978-1597808316
Buy now: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's

Blurb: Former assassin Raena Zacari thinks she's left the past behind. The Imperial torturer who trained her is dead, the human empire is disbanded, and she is finally free.  But Raena is troubled by a series of nightmares that always ends with her killing an ex-lover. She needs to get her mind clear because there's a flaw in the most common starship drive -- and the band of media pirates she's fallen in with is at the heart of the trouble.

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