We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!
R J Theodore (they/she) is an author, graphic designer, and all-around collector of creative endeavors and hobbies. They enjoy writing about magic-infused technologies, first contact events, and bioluminescing landscapes.
Their love of SFF storytelling developed through grabbing for anything-and-everything “unicorn” as a child, but they were subverted by tales of distant solar systems when their brother introduced them to Star Trek: The Next Generation at age seven. A few years later, Sailor Moon taught them stories can have both.
Their short fiction has appeared in MetaStellar, Lightspeed, and Fireside Magazines as well as the Glitter + Ashes and Unfettered Hexes anthologies from Neon Hemlock Press.
They live in New England, haunted by their childhood cat. Find more information including a directory of guest posts, podcast appearances, blog tours, and interviews from around the genre reading and writing communities at rjtheodore.com.
Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.
The story is one of several side tales from the world of Peridot, which was destroyed centuries ago, and re-assembled by its new alchemist deities into a planet held together, literally, by magic. Floating islands, a swirling layer of frozen trash, and a glowing green center where souls float to rest. It’s not your average world. But people are still people, and they still do whatever they can to survive. Sometimes those things are illegal, sometimes those things are wrong (those two items not always the same thing), and sometimes those things are dangerous. But you gotta put coffee on the table, and if you’re lucky, you can have fun doing it.
What was the inspiration behind this story?
This story came out of the joy that I get from reading and watching stories with a grifter who comes into a space, pretending to be one of that space, and then making a narrow escape after their activities being discovered.
Sometimes they do it very well (e.g., Ocean’s Eight), sometimes they do it very poorly (e.g., Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean), and sometimes it’s somewhere in between (e.g., Firefly).
I once drew an image by the same title with a feeling of all the above examples, and though the setting is very different from this story it felt like the same experience at its core, so I couldn’t see doing anything but borrowing the name.
If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?
If I were going to put myself into a SF setting, I think I’d dive in for the Star Trek worlds. Seems safer, better food, a guarantee that all risk can be dissolved within a 48 minute episode. Dealing with chronic disease, I definitely look forward to certain Science Fiction promises ahead of others. Sure, the Expanse is masterfully crafted both in terms of the vehicles and the politics, but I’d probably still be dealing with health issues, on top of worrying about what corruption has spread throughout the solar system (just because I write stuff along those lines doesn’t mean I’d choose them for myself!).
What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?
I have to say I always loved Odo-focused episodes of Deep Space Nine. Rene Auberjonois wore that character like the most endearing grumpy detective you could imagine. He wasn’t head of security for Star Fleet. He was an independent figure of the law on a station where everyone (even friends) were trying to sell the bolts that kept the station together. He was a cowboy-esque sheriff, and he was a shape-shifter, which made watching him on a stake-out especially fun.
What authors have inspired your writing?
Talking before I became an actual Science Fiction writer, when I was just haunting the SF&F rows at Barnes & Noble, I’d give credit to C J Cherryh, with her extremely well crafted galaxies, and Douglas Adams, who pulled absurdity into a story and made it the key to how everything worked. I also have to give a nod to Charles de Lint who, while not an author of science fiction, was the vehicle through which I encountered urban fantasy and is probably why just about ALL my stories include some crossover with magic. If it can exist in a random Canadian city, why not in space?
These days, I am inspired by authors such as Valerie Valdes, C.L. Clark, Darcie Little Badger, Sarah Pinsker, Malka Older, Alex White, Zig Zag Claybourne, L.D. Lewis, Mari Ness, Phoebe Barton, A.Z. Louise, Rivers Solomon, Caitlin Starling… sorry, I could really truly go on and never stop. SF&F right now is overflowing with incredible talent, and every day someone astounds me with adding something new and newly styled to the genre.
What are you working on next?
This year I’m finishing up my genre-demolishing airship pirate Peridot Shift series, finally getting the series completed and out into the world after the small press that first bought it shuttered and the rights swung back to me. Once all the self-publishing effort there is off my desk, I am tremendously excited about drafting something new, something equally genre-disregarding. I like to call it “Dead Space meets Sailor Moon meets Mycelial Networks.” Usually by this point in my process, I’d have a title that’s pretty sticky and likely to make it to the end, but not this time. I’ll have to invite folks to stick around on my newsletter to wait for me to finally come up with a short phrase to capture this current hot mess.