THIRTEEN RISING, the last in the ZODIAC series, by Romina Russell

I’ve been a fan of Romina Russell’s ever since I featured her here. In reading the Zodiac series, I’m in awe of Romina’s intricate worldbuilding, unique characters, and poetic writing. Here are some quotes from ZODIAC that I’ve permanently highlighted:

“Home is within me, no matter where I go, no matter what happens to our planet or our people.”

“Most of us don’t intentionally try to misrepresent anything–but the lies we tell ourselves, the truths we repress, the things we conceal in the physical realm…they inform reality…”

“People with tormented souls can barely see beyond their own torment. Your sight is clear because you are honest.”

The Zodiac series draws to a close with THIRTEEN RISING, which debuts at the end of this month. Have a look:

THIRTEEN RISING: Debuts on August 29, 2017

The master has been unmasked. Rho’s world has been turned upside down. With her loved ones in peril and all the stars set against her, can the young Guardian from House Cancer muster the strength to keep fighting? Or has she finally found her match in a master whose ambition to rule knows no limits?

In our last interview, you said, “The world must exist before the character can be born.” Is this true for all the stories you write, and in what ways do your characters continue to surprise you? 

Yes–I always lead with worldbuilding whenever I brainstorm a new project, and because of that my characters are constantly surprising me. If you birth characters in worlds distinctly different from your own, you’ll find that their thoughts and actions and dialogue are always foreign and fresh because they’re unique to them. For example, Rho was born on House Cancer, which is a matriarchy–so she felt empowered in many situations where I would have felt self conscious and uncertain. I think of all the characters in Z, Hysan was the most surprising and unexpected because he was raised by a pair of androids–something I could never relate to! So breaking into his mind was almost like hacking into a super advanced software and trying to anticipate how that sort of operating system would function. Which, for me, was extremely hard!

Yes, but Hysan is also one of the most interesting (and disconcerting) characters. As a Libra, I wasn’t sure of him at first, but I warmed to him a bit more over time. You’ve also said that THIRTEEN RISING is your favorite in the series. What about it was the most fun to write?

I always change my mind about which one is my favorite! Usually it’s the one I’ve just finished writing. I think THIRTEEN RISING was tonally very different from the previous tomes because by now Rho has endured so much that she’s shifted into a new woman. I think we’ve seen hints of that woman from time to time in the earlier books, but by now she’s fully embraced her new self, and it’s very shocking to see her shed her old skin–a little sad, a little exciting, and (for me) very fulfilling. I also loved diving into the villain’s mind and finally pulling back the curtain on what’s happening in the Zodiac. To me, it just felt like a very complete book, filled with answers and action and heartbreak. And I especially loved writing the big battle scene!

That makes me want to read it even more, and it goes to show why you’ve penned so many great books! Is there pressure to make the next books better than the previous ones? What ways do you renew your creativity when the well runs dry? 

Thank you! And yes, SO much pressure–mostly from myself. I think I’ve been in a bit of a postpartum depression since completing the final book, and I’m only now starting to crawl out of my cave. The thing that has been instrumental in igniting my desire to write again has been traveling and meeting readers on tour. Talking with you guys at events has reminded me of how much I love creating new worlds and telling new stories, and it’s made me eager to get back to work for you!

Hooray! What are some of your current projects? 

I’ve outlined a few different ideas, but they’re all in too early stages to say much. One of them is calling to me louder than the others, and it’s a YA fantasy based on ancient Argentine lore that I researched while I was there presenting the third book in May. I’m originally from Buenos Aires, and I hear my home calling, tugging me back, urging me to explore the life I left behind so long ago.

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Pre-order/Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound