Interview / Novels

Creating Takakush: an Interview with Raine Reiter

Raine Reiter is an author who weaves together an empowered, female-centered narrative with rich descriptions of nature and an ever-present sense of mystery. Her vivid, flowing prose takes readers of dark fantasy into a world that looks and feels real, while still evoking the enticing paranormal creativity shared by authors such as Richelle Mead and Kat Richardson. A fifth generation Washingtonian, Raine lives in the gloomy Pacific Northwest and prowls the rainforest with her silly spaniel, Luke.

When Professor Elena Lukas returns to her cozy Pacific Northwest hometown with a broken heart, she’s plunged back into the fate she tried to escape. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Elena must now dedicate her life to a powerful ancient Lithuanian goddess. Although she is prepared to live as a priestess hiding in a contemporary tourist town, she arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest.

With the help of a handsome detective from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Elena uses her expertise in invasive and endangered species to identify that these are no normal animal attacks. The woods are stalked by a dark, mystical creature bent on ravaging the area in an attempt to quell its insatiable hunger. When her little sister goes missing, Elena realizes that the beast can only be vanquished if she is brave enough to face it in-person, embrace her identity as a high priestess, and expose her powers to the man she is growing feelings for.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Welcome! I can’t wait to start chatting about your book. I’ve never read a novel featuring Lithuanian folklore before (though I did try to learn some Lithuanian in middle school!) What drew you to these stories as inspiration?

RAINE REITER: Lithuania is a fascinating country. It was the last European country to become officially Christian, the common folk continued to practice their pagan religion into the nineteenth century. In response to a pagan nationalist revival, Stalin sent Lithuanian pagans to the gulags.  Neo-Paganism is the fastest growing faith in modern Lithuanian.  The language is ancient and has more in common with Sanskrit than the romance languages.  This rich history piqued my imagination and the Lukas family of hereditary priestess was born.  Noted Lithuanian-American archeologist and anthropologist, Marija Gimbutas and her groundbreaking “Goddess Theory”  was also an early inspiration.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: What are some other mythological stories or figures would you like to see represented more in fiction?

RAINE REITER: What a hard choice, there are so many interesting pantheons out there.  India, Africa, Inca, Aztec, Native America have fascinating stories to offer.  I have shelves of mythology books in my office. I also appreciate works of “new” mythology such as “The City We Became” by the divine N. K. Jemisin, and “A Cosmology of Monster” by Shaun Hamill. My current interest is Haitian Vodou and its sister New Orleans Voodoo, I have a future series percolating.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Takakush is the first in the Genus Magica series. Will the later books feature the same characters as Takakush or different ones?

RAINE REITER: The Genus Magica series features the same major characters, but in future books their stories will deepen and contort. New characters (and creatures) will emerge to spice things up. I’m a super fan of long-form story telling.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: You’re far from the only one, I’m sure! Could you tell us about yourself as an author? When did you write your first story?

RAINE REITER: I wrote a Nancy Drew style murder mystery at eight, plays and screenplays in college, and many technical manuals. There was always time to write those novels.  Then life gave me a kick in the pants. The doctor diagnosed my cancer. I realized that if I wanted something, I’d better do it. I wrote my first novel. It was horrible, but I didn’t give up. Twelve years later, I’m cancer free and I continue to study my craft. I published my first novel, Takakush–Genus Magica Book One this year and Book Two’s set to ship later this year. My advice to aspiring writers is don’t wait, do it now.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Wow. What an incredible journey! Now that you’ve been practicing a while, what method do you find works best? Do you do a lot of planning before you write or do you write as it comes to you?

RAINE REITER: I’m definitely a plotter. I plan like I’m preparing to storm the beach at Normandy.  Writing character studies, plotting my story line(s) on graphs and spreadsheets, mapping locations, collecting pictures, and analyzing weather patterns.  But during the writing process, when the bullets are flying and the bombs are bursting, I adjust to meet the needs of the narrative.  In Takakush, Gabby the younger sister just appeared when the storyline needed her.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: I guess some characters just show up whether we expect them or not. Thanks for sharing your story with us. One final question–this one’s just a fun question from your Goodreads profile: What’s the one Ted Talk every writer should listen to?

RAINE REITER: A writer writes, right? Easier said than done. If a writer is reading about Justin Bieber’s new baby instead of working, I recommend checking out “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” by Tim Urban. If they get around to it, of course.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Ha! I see what you did there. Thanks again for the interview, and best of luck with your book release! Readers can find more info on Takakush below. There’s also a giveaway going on, so don’t forget to check it out:

Direct links to Takakush:

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