The author of newly released debut series The Wave of Silence set in a postapocalyptic Europe.
I accidentally discovered Xen Randell browsing and fell in love with her cover, bugged her for an early copy of the book, because I thought I was going to die if I don’t read it immediately, and once I got it and read it, I became her fan forever. The author’s writing is superb, her story incredibly engaging, her characters well developed and realistic and her world well built, and I have no words to describe her uniqueness and originality. I am pretty sure that a year from now I will still think she was one of my best discoveries of this year. Xen Randell graciously agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her work.
Q1: Please tell us a bit about yourself. What made you become an author and how did your life change since you announced and now published your first book?
A1: First of all, I’d like to thank you for giving this poor noob author a shot. To answer your question: it took me years, decades even, to start considering becoming an author seriously. I had several obvious drawbacks: dyslexia, lack of attention and language. English is my third language, my native being Croatian, and second Italian, which will become obvious in the books I’m writing. By the time I thought my English good enough to try and pour my immense imagination into words, I was over 30 years old. It still may not be perfect, but that’s why I have my awesome editor for! And how did my life change since finishing and publishing my first novel? It changed in ways I didn’t anticipate: first time in my life full of jumping from job to job, project to project; of being all different kinds of artists and spending years of training and tons of invested money on being something I was actually not, I’ve found my true calling. I felt like I came home. It makes me happy every day.
Q2: You chose a very interesting topic and the setting. What was your inspiration for this story and what made you choose this particular location?
A2: The story starts in Pula, my main character’s and my own hometown. The reason is obvious: I’ve grown up here and I love it. Plus, I am of the opinion that it is greatly underestimated and not enough known about. The rest of the story happens on the protagonists’ way to Geneva through Italy, to finish in Vienna.
I have always loved science fiction, and was always deeply disturbed by the stories that had little to do with actual science. I think most of us became authors so we could write stories “better” than the others. While I’m positive I’m hardly better than known authors, I made sure to write about something I knew enough about. I’ve always been fascinated by black holes. What are they? What do they do? How do they exist? The fact is, to this day, it is still a mystery. So, I took what was known and shaped the unknown to fit my story premise.
Also, I like fanged beings, so I took the opportunity to create “supernatural” beings that would resemble vampires, but are not. I used a lot of our local lore to do it, and tried to scientifically explain their existence.
Q3: You give a stern criticism of human greed for money and power, and general disrespect for the planet. I thought that was brilliantly done all throughout your book, and I could not agree more with everything you said. What made you include this into your story?
A3: Huh, I guess I was always a bit of an ecologist, and a bit of an anarchist. Since I was a little girl, nature meant everything to me. While others played with dolls, I climbed trees. I spent the majority of my childhood pretending to be an animal, either hanging from a branch or running on all fours. It was embarrassing even, when other thirteen-year-olds already dressed in heels and took on smoking while I trained jumping over obstacles on all fours.
Since forever, I could feel the damage we were doing to our planet in my bones. I could see the hypocrisy of humanity even when I wasn’t yet sure how to use the toilet, and then as an adult, consumerism was always something bothering me, especially when succumbing to the same temptations I dared judge in others. In the book, I criticise myself as well as everyone else.
Q4: Your characters are amazing and so realistic. Did you have an inspiration for your characters in real people, or did you invent them? And do you have a favourite? Bana and Riva are mine.
A4: Thank you! I was actually greatly worried about my characterisation, and I am glad I seemed to make it work!
To answer your question: I had only one real life inspiration, and that is for Helena. She is based on my real life best friend, and the kind of relationship she and Alex have is more or less what my muse and I have. The other characters are invented; they are not based on anyone I know, not that I’m aware of. But mind is a tricky thing, pulling memories even when you’re not aware.
My favourite character would be Riva. She’s brash, honest to the bone, and loyal. She’s a perfect friend and a perfect lover. (Spoiler alert) I’ll continue to be mad at Alex for not choosing her.
Q5: I absolutely love Einstein, so I have to make a special mention of him. Is he based on a real dog person? And if yes, can you tell us more about him?
A5: Einstein is based on a dog of the same name from Dean Koontz’s novel, Watchers. They share many similar traits, and it is, in a way, my way to honour the book that shaped my childhood. It was always my favourite. A classical good versus evil where nothing is black and white: where the evil has a heart, and the good is never a hundred percent pure. It is, in short, what humanity is. Plus, I love dogs.
Q6: The locations in the story, are they all real? Did you use the existing places, like Mimoza, Rock Cafe, the shelter where Alex was living…? And can you tell us more about them, perhaps if you have photographs?
A6: I am glad you asked! Yes, they are real. Mimoza is my living-room café. I spend many hours a month there, just talking to my friends and socialising. Rock Café exists, the interior very much spot-on as I’ve described it, and it is indeed situated above Arena.
The shelter where Alex lives at the beginning of the story and the building she grew up in above it… well, I’m answering these questions from that apartment right now. I’m attaching some pics!
Also, every little place I talk about on their way to Geneva is real, with the exception of the Italian castle. The Lago Maggiore I’ve imagined it on is very much real, though.
Q7: In the second half the characters go on a journey, and make stops in certain places, take certain roads from Croatia, through Italy and then Switzerland, it almost sound like you were there. Did you take the route they were driving?
A7: Some I did, yes, some not. I visited most places but the Geneva itself. There is this one saying: write what you know about. I took that advice seriously, and for the rest, Google Street View makes all the difference!
Q8: Your cover is one of the most beautiful covers out there, can you tell us a bit about the inspiration for the cover and how the design come about?
A8: Thank you! I am glad my efforts are rewarded! The published cover was actually the third version. I did two prior versions that just didn’t hit the home button. So I redid it until I got what I wanted.
What I wanted to convey was a strong female character and the grittiness of the world she’s in. This is, after all, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic story. I can’t have my MC all dressed up with flawless make-up, now can I?
Q9: What kind of books do you like to read?
A9: I’ve grown up on horror/mystery books, S. King and D. Koontz being my favourite authors. I did take trips into other genres, too, so one of my other favourites were Children of The Earth by J.M. Auel.
After growing up, I have been reading mostly Urban Fantasy, Dystopian Sci-fi and Paranormal Romance. Sometimes, I like to rest my mind with a good ole Contemporary Romance and get a headache from rolling my eyes, so cheesy they are, but still finish every last page. I’d be ashamed if I cared what people thought.
Q10: What have you planned for the readers in the next year or two?
A10: My plan is to finish The Wave of Silence trilogy until September, then I have spin-offs planned, all set in The Wave world, and I’ve already started writing a Paranormal novella series, the Cormack Displacement. It’ll be something different for me, but I’m excited to see what readers will think!
And after that? Who knows? The possibilities are endless and I want to try my hand at everything I think I’d be good at!
Read the preview blurb about Cormack Displacement:
For years everyone around her thought her insane. She thought herself insane. After many therapies and years spent in numbness caused by prescription drugs, Charlene Cormack gives up on listening to her doctors and escapes into the underground of a big European city.
Almost a decade later, she’s living off of her abilities that she’s harnessed. Okay, living off of them would be a slight overstatement, since she’s behind on her loan payment and didn’t pay electricity bills for two subsequent months.
When a strange blonde turns up on her door one night, her luck might just go up a notch and the offered gig could enable her to finally afford a better meal than a can of sweet corn is.
Now, if she’d only figure out how to survive the gig, that would be great.
Books by Xen Randell
The Wave of Silence
Face the War (The Wave of Silence 3)
Other Work by this author featured Here