Today we speak with a true Renaissance soul, Halo Scot. Halo has been everything from a student to a teacher, a musician to a coder. Halo’s path through life was one they forged themselves, each experience bringing them closer to writing the Rift Cycle. Edge of the Breach is the first in the series, which breaches difficult topics and unveils truths hidden within the subconscious.
Edge of the Breach is the first of four novels in the Rift Cycle. Tell me a little about what you hope to achieve with this series of books.
I want to break stigmas, highlight the taboo and the unorthodox, and normalize invisible traits (such as mental illness, grief, and sexual orientation, amongst others). My main goal is to try and make people more open-minded.
What do you want the take away from Edge of the Breach to be?
Understanding. I’d love for people to judge less and accept more after reading about casually queer and neurodiverse characters. Also, I’d love to break stigmas surrounding what we consider “taboos” — we’re all human, at the end of the day, and we all have the same human urges and desires. I feel that connecting because of these imperfections often draws us closer together.
You have an ambitious plan to normalize aspects of human experience such as mental illness and sexual orientation, among other things, through these books. What inspired you to tackle such large concepts?
It’s funny — I didn’t initially intend on doing so. I just wanted to write the book I wanted to read, no matter how dark or bloody or gruesome. It was only after writing it that I realized what had come through. I think it’s because, in many ways, Edge of the Breach is a direct reflection of who I am (minus the murder lol), and I have long struggled with both mental illness and my sexual orientation. I didn’t even realize that the story was queer until I was in the editing phase, because it just seemed so natural to include it. I never wanted to force either of these elements, though. There’s something to be said for casual diversity — true acceptance comes from “she happens to have depression” and “he happens to be queer” instead of a more activist, in-your-face approach. I wanted Kyder’s and Rune’s mental illnesses and sexual orientation to be a part of their characters, not their defining attributes. These traits certainly affect what they do, but I wanted the audience to almost forget that both of them are bisexual. You don’t introduce someone as “here’s Joe, my straight friend,” and I wanted to normalize queerness in the same way.
Why is it important to you that people be able to continue to sympathize with Kyder throughout the book?
For Kyder’s character, I wanted to show why villains become villains, that everyone is a person, is the same, beneath their choices. I wanted to humanize villainy, in other words. It’s so easy to write people off, as so many do to Kyder throughout his life, but Rune always stands up for him, and I wanted to show the impact of that unconditional forgiveness on both the criminal and the absolver. In many ways, her forgiveness breaks him and makes her question her own ethics. I highlight the morally gray, and I tried to make the audience root for Kyder’s redemption, even after his most despicable actions, because if you can forgive Kyder, you can forgive anyone, and I think the world could use a bit more understanding, a bit more forgiveness.
What was the most difficult part of writing this particular book?
Fear. I knew how dark and how bold I wanted it to be, but self-doubt kept pulling me back while instinct kept pushing me forward. The ongoing battle of “what if people don’t like it” and “well, it’s the story you want to tell, so write it anyway” was the biggest hindrance to the process.
Since this is a four book series, are you a plotter or will the story grow organically?
I’m a bit of a hybrid pantser/plotter, meaning I tend to start with a loose outline with a bunch of brainstormed elements, write the first chapter, and go off-outline immediately lol. I have written all four books (they just need to be edited), and as I was writing, I knew where each book ended and where the series ended as a whole, though, so that helped guide me. Along the way, however, anything was fair game. For instance, Kyder wasn’t originally going to murder anyone, and that lasted all of a couple chapters.
Why did you decide to publish independently?
In all honesty, it was the path that presented itself. I wrote five books before Edge of the Breach, queried two of them with no success and then queried Edge of the Breach with no success. I was severely disheartened, to say the least. But Edge of the Breach was the book I committed to, the book I was willing to fight for, so I told myself I’d publish anyway, because it’s the story I wanted to tell exactly as I wanted to tell it. When no one stands up for you, you stand up for yourself — that was a hard lesson I learned along the way.
What was your favorite, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
My favorite part has been connecting with other authors — I met so many beautiful, talented souls because of this. My least favorite part is the marketing — when you self-publish, everything comes from you, and while I’m marketing and working full-time, I have very little time to focus on writing or reading.
Now that you’ve experienced it would you recommend this route to other authors?
I’d say do whatever works for you, in all things. Write the story you want to read, publish whichever way you think best. Self-publishing gives you complete control, but traditional publishing gives you more marketing power. All routes of writing and publishing are valid, so do what feels right.
Has publishing your first book caused you to change anything about your writing process?
I find myself struggling with balance more after publishing. I’ve written in odd bursts and corners of the day instead of a routine, as I did with the Rift Cycle, because I’ve been marketing. Pre-publishing, I only thought about the writing, but post-publishing, I’m figuring out how to juggle the many new facets of authorhood.
What you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mindset to do it?
I put on noise-canceling headphones, loop a mood-appropriate song, and try not to force it. If I’m not feeling that I’ll give proper attention to an emotionally draining scene on a particular day, I wait until I can get in the right mindset to give it justice.
How much world building took place before you started writing?
I brainstormed a lot before writing, because I needed to know how the world looked and why it looked that way. This helped me figure out the main tension and release in the environment and how that shapes the characters.
Can you share anything about the next volume in your series?
Without giving too much away, Kyder takes a brutal and bloody revenge after the events of last book, Rune joins a military academy to honor the memory of her late twin brother, and Earth is caught in the middle of an interrealm war, divided in many ways. In other words, debauchery abounds!
How can readers find out more about you and what you’re working on?
I put any updates on my website:
I’m fairly active/raunchy on Twitter:
And I’m super proud to be part of the Queer Indie writers’ alliance along with Dr. Mario Dell’Olio, TT Banks, Evan Knapp, Ash Knight, and A.C. Merkel. They’re all absolutely brilliant writers and beyond wonderful people. Definitely check out their fantastic books, and please also check out the directory on our website for your next read:
Thank you SO much for having me!
For Edge of the Breach, I recommend that you pair the Merry Cherry Old Fashioned, based with Knobb Creek, while reading this book. Edge of the Breach challenges you to look at old ideas in a new way and this drink adds a new twist to an old favorite. Because the topics tackled are sometimes dark and always nuanced, I recommend you smoke a Camacho Triple Maduro, whose dark Honduran maduro tobaccos make it spicy, earthy, sweet and delicious.
I always find your author interviews to be interesting and particularly enjoyed this one. Thank you to you both! 🙂