Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!
I’m joined here today by Premee Mohamed, author of the recently released BENEATH THE RISING, a novel mixing science and ancient otherworldy forces in a horror setting with an increasingly creepy vibe. We’re going to be talking about all things behind the scenes of the creations of the story, from concept to research and a few other things you might wonder about when you read the book, or even if you just read the synopsis. So I hope you enjoy the answers, because I sure did!
Hi Premee, and thank you for joining me for this interview! BENEATH THE RISING is such a strange and engrossing, can you tell us more about it?
Hi Fadwa! Thank you for hosting this interview! And for the kind words about the book! ‘Beneath the Rising’ is a story about two friends, one of whom is a child prodigy, scientist, and inventor, and how they accidentally become responsible to save the world from extradimensional invaders. It’s about how we can never really be sure about the choices we make, or why we make them, and sometimes our very best intentions result in disaster—and that we not only can’t, but shouldn’t, try to do everything in our lives alone.
In your story, the “villains” are these mysterious and completely evil god-like creatures called The Ancient Ones, what inspired them?
When I began the book in about 2000, they were actually going to be sort of ‘traditional’ or Christian-style demons, maybe because I had just gotten out of 12 years of Catholic school! But I thought that the Satan/demons setup was too well-known as well as too complicated, and I couldn’t figure out how to make it interesting and challenging for the characters. Then I decided I wanted to make them monsters, but not really familiar ones, and finally hit upon the ‘cosmic horror’ villains from the Necronomicon, HP Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, and other horror writers I was becoming familiar with at the time. I liked the idea of villains that humans didn’t know anything about and would have a hard time learning about (so we would be guessing a lot of the time, and getting it wrong). I also thought it would be fun to write villains so powerful that it would be difficult to think about how to fight them or even negotiate with them.
I always love stories that manage to seamlessly mix science and magic, as many can think of them as opposite, how did the threads that connect the two in BENEATH THE RISING come to be?
This was also really fun to write! I was doing my undergrad science degree while I was writing the book, and it occurred to me many times that the saying ‘any sufficiently advanced science looks like magic’ was absolutely true. There was no way I could explain some of the science I was doing to my parents, for example; they waved it off as impossibility. And I really liked the idea that if you were a scientist, and became aware of the existence of real magic, you might respond by trying to turn it into science—study it, try to understand it, make sure you knew what you were doing if you brought it into the lab. Maybe you might find a way to analyze it. Or maybe it would be incredibly frustrating that you couldn’t, or couldn’t figure out any rules for it. There seemed to be so many possibilities to have a scientist in a fantasy story and have her know about but sort of be thwarted by magic.
What was your favorite piece of research you came across while writing this book?
I loved researching the historical and architecture aspects of the settings (particularly for the scenes late in the book that are set at an archaeological study site in Iraq) but I think my favourite thing was looking up the sort of ‘historical catastrophe’ stuff—people (of note: mostly not academics) have spent decades yelling about what they think happened to these so-called ‘lost continents’ or ‘lost civilizations’ like Mu and Atlantis, and trying to link various ‘pieces of evidence’ to some kind of international conspiracy to ‘hide the truth.’ As you can imagine, there are some amazing hoaxes and guesses mixed in with genuine historical and cultural artifacts and monuments that have perfectly well-known explanations from the local population, which these authors mostly ignore, so the tone of these books vary wildly. I was laughing out loud at some of the theories that people came up with (trust me, ‘aliens’ is the least weird in many cases). In ‘Beneath the Rising,’ I had a good time tying things together like “So it turns out that a lot of them are linked, and there is an international conspiracy”—but it’s to keep Earth safe from the Ancient Ones.
And to finish it off, what is one think you’d like to tell your readers or would like them to take away from your story?
You know, I wanted to say something profound about science and risk, but the more I think about it the more I think I’d like to tell readers to think carefully about the people they let into their lives… you’re trading something in every relationship, and it should always be something you’re both willing and able to trade.
About the author
Premee Mohamed is an Indo-Caribbean scientist and speculative fiction writer based in Canada. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of venues including Analog, PodCastle, and Nightmare Magazine, and her debut novel, ‘Beneath the Rising,’ was released by Solaris Books in March 2020. She can be found on Twitter at @premeesaurus.
About the book
Publication date : March 3rd, 2020
Publisher : Solaris Books | Simon & Schuster
Genre : Adult | Horror, science fantasy
Page Count: 416
Synopsis : A coming-of-age story about two kids in the middle of a war of eldritch horrors from outside spacetime…
Nick Prasad and Joanna “Johnny” Chambers have been friends since childhood. She’s rich, white, and a genius; he’s poor, brown, and secretly in love with her.
But when Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens the primal, evil Ancient Ones set on subjugating humanity.
From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they need to trust each other completely to survive…
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.