Guest Post and Excerpt: DEADROADS by Robin Riopelle (+Giveaway)


Subscribe to AISFP Newsletter to enter giveaway for 3 copies of Deadroads.

While that cover certainly sparks my curiosity, I thought I’d ask Robin Riopelle (@Robin_Riopelle) to come over and share an introduction and sample from her new novel, Deadroads. Have at it, Robin!

It’s largely unavoidable. Sometimes, you just have to make a deal, no matter how unsavory. Sometimes we accept a proposition knowing all the details of the transaction. Other times, it’s like the NHL draft: this, in exchange for a player to be named later.

Early on in my novel Deadroads, one of the main characters—loopy, optimistic Baz, brother to dour Sol, son of dead Aurie and disappeared Mireille—makes such a compact. Not with Gary Bettman, but with a devil (insert NHL commissioner joke here). For Baz, the payoff is immediate and huge. He gets the address of his missing sister, Lutie, who was taken by their mother years ago. But the price he will pay is less sure, less imminent.

Long after writing this scene, I realized that it came from my own past. That at one point in my life, I had held an address in my hand, not knowing what price might be extracted. Or more truthfully, what the future might hold if I acted on this information. The address was my birth mother’s. I did contact her, and it did change my life, often in ways I didn’t expect.

It’s the same for Baz, who tells himself he just wants to know if Lutie is okay, that he doesn’t need more than that. Of course, he’s lying to himself. And with his actions—going up to Manitoba to visit Lutie unannounced, forming a relationship with her unbeknownst to Sol—he sets all sorts of things into motion. Most critically for the story, however, Baz makes contact with a devil, a p’tit mauvais according to their father’s Cajun lore.

The devil in question is one of three. I lifted folklore from an ancient French folksong, Les trois hommes noirs, which describes a bride abducted on her wedding day and the groom’s efforts to get her back. Although Baz comes to believe everything that happens from there on out is his fault, this isn’t the first time this particular devil has shown up in their lives. As Deadroads progresses, flashbacks help flesh out the story.

This scene also introduces the magical quality of Baz’s voice, and how the devil really isn’t swayed by it. Baz’s singing attracts ghosts—something his younger sister exploits ruthlessly in flashback—and also something else that becomes more evident as the story unfolds. But what Baz’s singing doesn’t do is attract devils. Their currency is more base than that.

Finally, the setting is Nebraska, specifically the railway tracks. The openness of the Great Plains, especially in juxtaposition to the bayou upbringing of the Sarrazins, is central to the characters. From here, they can go anyplace, be anyone. They have no history, and that’s exactly as they like it. Having a history, being part of a history, is dangerous. There’s a reason Sol in particular likes to be so far from salt water. Most definitely, far from the bayou, where the very land is untrustworthy, shifting. Lost.

In writing Deadroads, one idea I wanted to explore was the notion of “nomad”. Why people move around, especially when they don’t have to. Railway lines speak directly to that, as do the eventual scenes with rail-riders and hobos. There’s a certain appeal to just “catching out”, getting away from problems, being rootless. At the beginning of Deadroads, where this scene is from, that’s what my three main characters want almost more than anything—to be free from ties, to be unfettered by the past. To not feel so keenly what they have lost.

They will find, as I did, that you can’t escape your past, not really. Not if you want to be whole in your own skin. That you must face up to things, name them, deal with them. Not make a deal with them.

Enjoy this short excerpt from Deadroads:


Subscribe to AISFP Newsletter to enter giveaway for 3 copies of Deadroads

This week’s giveaway: Night Shade Books is offering paper copies of winners’ choice of either of Michael Martinez’s books, The Daedalus Incident and The Enceladus Crisis (listen to Michael this week on the AISFP Podcast 261) or Robin Riopelle’s book, Deadroads. To enter, sign up for our AISFP Newsletter by 11:59 PM CDT on Monday, 6/2/14. US only, sorry.

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About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former Executive Producer for AISFP. His debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution, blends Dune with Alien in a thriller where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America's buried fortresses. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases.

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