Women In SFF Author Spotlight: Chloe Moore
Chloe Moore is a new author with an authentic voice and a passion for writing and language.
By day, she works as a product developer for an insurance company, but in her free time, she has always been a passionate writer. Falling in love with writing after leaving school, she used the art as a means of escape, to help process her thoughts and feelings whilst coping with depression and anxiety.
Chloe lives in the Milton Keynes, where she is fortunate enough to be able to split her time between work and writing. In her spare time, she trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and eats pizza and ice-cream.
Welcome to the Hive, Chloe. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction whilst I’m in the development stage of my next book. I like to get a feel for the life experiences of those I wish to write about, and interact with those whose experiences are beyond my own so that I can build a 3D character within the world I’m creating.
So, I’ve just started “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine, and finished “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Madeline Miller.
Prior to this, I just finished Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer series after a friend gifted me the set for my birthday, which I enjoyed, but found the sexism contained within the series to be a little off-putting throughout…
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
In all honesty, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to get to a game of D&D, but my preferred class has always been Tiefling-Ranger.
I originally wanted her main weapon to be a bow, but as I’ve progressed (and subsequently rebuilt her to suit my preferred playstyle) her preferred weapons are close-quarters combat based, such as a dagger or short-sword. Her companion, Gabe – A red fox, also likes to help out when he can.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?)
Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
So, I’d like to preamble what I’m about to say with how I writing became a larger part of my life, and why it’s only really been in the past five years that I’ve set upon this journey. Growing up, I wasn’t a heavy reader – or a light reader for that matter – my twin brother and I would play videogames and watch movies a lot, and the only real reading I did was through comic books.
I originally started writing to help me process trauma I’d experienced. The process of using storytelling to re-enact, or to follow logical paths of progression allowed me to deal with a lot of issues I’d been dealing with, and giving those issues a narrative separate to my own lived experience allowed me to explore possibilities, and challenge my own ideas and beliefs on a number of subjects. Writing helped me to process my transition, and allowed me the freedom to discover who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to accomplish in what short time I have left in this life.
Now, I still use writing to help with my daily issues and struggles, but I also like to use it as a creative outlet, my recently released first book – Birthright – being the first piece of writing I’ve felt comfortable enough to share.
Whilst writing this book, my writing method was fairly regimented, I guess. I would work for a few hours every morning, mostly between the hours of 5-8AM, before I start my day-job, and if I’m not too exhausted from the day, or if I’d had any brainwaves throughout the day, I’d write for another hour or so in the evening also.
Due to how I got my start in creative writing, I’m not a great planner, but as I was developing the story for Birthright I needed some steer to ensure that the narrative hit the right beats, and that the style remained consistent throughout. So at the outset, I separated a sheet of paper into three sections, Act 1-3, and noted what I wanted to be accomplished in each of these sections, then I moved on to adding structure to these notes, and planning out the individual chapters, which consisted of roughly 2-3 sentences of story that need to be accomplished in the chapter.
From there, I simply worked down the chapter list and fleshed out each of the objectives, trying to stick to between 2500-3000 words per chapter.
A great resource, and companion, that helped me immensely in developing this structure further has been a book called – “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler. This book has been an invaluable resource for information relating to storytelling, character archetypes, and world-building, and really helped me to find and focus my voice at the start of my writing journey.
What (or who) are your most significant female fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
As I stated previously, I’ve never been a heavy reader, but from what I have read, I’d say April Daniels, author of the Dreadnaught books, and Kristin Cashore, author of the Graceling Realm series have had a good deal of influence over my writing.
Cashore’s writing is unapologetically feminist, she seamlessly writes strength and grace into her female protagonist, with magic that doesn’t feel forced or overwhelming, and romance that is handled so deftly as to not come off as ham-fisted or pandering, I can’t recommend her series enough for women who are tired of clichéd fantasy plots and stereotypical female heroines.
Daniels’ Dreadnaught series showed me that it’s perfectly okay to put your own experiences on the page, and use them as a starting point for your own characters. Previously, such writing had felt personal to share, and so I would only use it privately. But by adding the fantastic to those narratives, something completely new can be born, and grown, through a new narrative. Daniels also demonstrated expertly how representation can and should be handled within a story, tackling subjects such as trans-misogyny and sexism whilst developing an LGBTQ+ sub-narrative.
Most of my influence for my current work has come from much older stories though, where I’ve always had a keen fascination on Greek Mythology, I wanted to write a story that let me explore how the current world would react to the reintroduction of gods and monsters, which I found to be an interesting endeavour.
I would also like to mention some other amazing female voices that I’ve read, and cannot recommend enough, though not all are fantasy authors, most are just strong influential women who deserve love, attention, and recognition, such as: Caroline Criado Perez – “Invisible Women”, Rennie Eddo-Lodge – “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”, Madeline Miller – “Circe”, Naomi Alderman – “The Power”, and Grace Blakely – “Stolen”.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
I have recently obtained my platinum trophy on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which has been one of my most thoroughly enjoyed gaming experiences of the last 5 years. In the last month, I’ve been obsessed with Animal Crossing: New Horizons too, which is just a nice game to play.
Film and TV-wise, I’m pretty vanilla… I like to be entertained, because who doesn’t, so I’ve been progressing through “Workaholics” on when I want to veg-out. I watch a tonne of documentaries now, when I was younger I don’t remember them being so compelling, but now… titles like “Athlete A”, “Killer Mike’s Trigger Warning”, “Won’t You Be My Neighbour”, “Take Your Pills”, “Icarus”, and many more… It’s difficult not to get sucked in!
I quite enjoyed “The Witcher” when it was released, and I recently rewatched “Game of Thrones”, I just wish they’d made a Season 8 and not decided to stop after 7… I’m a big anime/animation fan, so titles like “Beastars”, “My Hero Academia”, “DoroHeDoro”, “Gargoyles”, “The Mighty Ducks”, and “Bucky O’Hare” all feature, thanks to Disney+ I’ve been rewatching a lot of my childhood favourites, and thanks to Lockdown, I have nothing but time to fill.
Oh, most of my viewing tends to be stand-up comedy, as my depression tends to kick me while I’m down a lot of the time, I tend to watch back to back stand-up shows every evening, from Tom Segura to Mike Birbiglia, Chelsea Peretti to Ali Wong, I can’t get enough. After all, who doesn’t like to laugh?
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Oh, you must be talking about Sundays… These days are reserved for relaxing, eating pizza and ice-cream, and clearing my head in preparation for the week ahead.
This will usually include a few hours of video games, probably a couple hours of a tv-series I’m watching, a walk around a lake near where I live, and maybe even a phone call to a family member if I can stomach some human interaction.
But yeah, it would be one of my “Nothing Days”, for sure.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m currently working on the follow up to “Birthright”, which has a working title of – “Retribution”. As much as I loved the characters in the first book, by the end I felt I’d said all I’d needed to say with any sense of detail, so for the second book I’ll be shifting the focus of the book toward the antagonist that was set up in Birthright.
Additionally, I’m also shifting the style of writing from third-person to first-person, which is proving a challenge, but is also adding some additional depth to this character that I think the original Protagonist lacked in some ways.
I’m excited by the story I want to tell, and I really hope that I can do it justice for those who end up reading it.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve been very fortunate in my short stint as a writer to have some avid readers, and some experienced writers in my life who have been immensely helpful in directing my focus and helping with some of the finer details of story writing.
I think, for me and my style of writing, the best advice I’ve received is:
- Keep your chapters within 2500-3000 words (Unless the story requires)
- ALWAYS BE MINDFUL OF THE TENSES YOU’RE USING!
Because I’ve had so many issues with tenses in the past, I now write out my first draft of a chapter, and then reread, and review, that chapter after, and assess the tenses used and rewrite where necessary.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Funny you should ask, as I am currently in the throes of such a period at the moment. After the first book, I knew that I wanted to expand upon to the story I’d told, but I didn’t know how to go about telling the story I wanted to tell, and having it all fit within the narrative already created.
Now, I’ve been able to plan out the story I want to tell, and have completed the first two chapters, but now, I’m on chapter two, and I’m stuck on how to progress the story without it feeling forced. So now, I’ve left the story where it is, and focused on developing the characters outside of the narrative.
I’ve found that when I struggle to progress the narrative, it’s usually because I don’t know how I want to proceed with certain areas of the story being told, so by further developing individual aspects of the story, I’m better able to move forward from where I had previously struggled.
On days where I struggle to find the will to actually write, I’ll usually either listen to my body and take a break from it, but I will – most of the time – make notes on the characters, on the story, on the environment, and generally just jot down ideas throughout the day, and add the notes in next day.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
This is a difficult question to answer, as time travel for anyone that isn’t a straight-white-male is going to be somewhat problematic…
History hasn’t been kind to women in many places, so I’d probably like to visit somewhere that valued women, and held them as societal equals, such as with the Vikings in Norway or Sweden.
Personally, despite everything that’s going on right now in the world, I feel that now is the best time to be a woman, and thrive, so I don’t think I’d want to travel backward anywhere…
Praia da Luz, in the Algarve region of Portugal, May 3rd 2007. I want to DIFINITIVELY know what happened to Madeline, and potentially stop it from happening.
Who are your favourite female characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of female character you enjoy writing?
Good question, Leia Organa (Star Wars) – Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) – Kat Stratford (10 Things I Hate About You) – Mulan (Mulan) – Kassandra (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey) – Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) – Artemis (Greek Mythology/Ready Player One – Both are valid) – Noi (DoroHeDoro) – Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) – Himiko Toga – (My Hero Academia)
It’s difficult to choose off the top of my head, because my life has been littered with amazing women, and now most tv shows, movies, and books are taking heed to the fact that women aren’t weak, nor do we constantly need saving, which opens up so many more interesting and important avenues of character development and positive representation for future generations to grow up with and to find their own connections to these wonderful characters.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
To be honest, the most obscure book out there at the moment is probably my own… I’ve not read that many obscure novels by women outside of the non-fiction genre recently, as I’ve been interested in discovering other women’s voices and perspectives, but this hasn’t bled over into my few fiction reads.
Saying that, I do remember reading an interesting book last year called “Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor which I really enjoyed. Well, maybe enjoyed isn’t the right word considering the content and tone of the book… But I was gripped by the story being told. It features graphic scenes of rape and female-genital-mutilation, so it is definitely not for the faint of heart, and while it’s an often unsettlingly brutal book, it is also a powerful story that expertly accomplishes one of science fiction’s primary goals, extrapolating a fantastical future from the real world as it actually exists.
It’s also an exploration of power in its many forms: as courage, as knowledge, and as violence. I’d like to point out again, that this book is not an escapist novel in the least, the subject matter is not designed or written to go down easy, and everything from the imagery, to the writing style, to the dialogue is purposefully designed to slow the reader down – as though Okorafor is forcing you to truly see what she’s revealing.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
What would you do if you found out you were descended from gods? And how would a lifetime of trauma shape the decisions you make with this newfound power?
In a world that has been set upon by ancient beasts, how will the world adapt to include the reintroduction of magic, magical creatures, and the revelation of the Gods that are responsible for the world we inhabit? – Birthright seeks to provide answers to these questions and more.