Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.
Sabitha: We’ve got the incredible Sascha Stronach with us today. Sascha, please introduce us to your queer science fiction novel The Dawnhounds (Against the Quiet #1).
Sascha: Gideon the Ninth meets Black Sun in this queer, Māori-inspired debut fantasy about a police officer who is murdered, brought back to life with a mysterious new power, and tasked with protecting her city from an insidious evil threatening to destroy it.
The port city of Hainak is alive: its buildings, its fashion, even its weapons. But, after a devastating war and a sweeping biotech revolution, all its inhabitants want is peace, no one more so than Yat Jyn-Hok a reformed-thief-turned-cop who patrols the streets at night.
Yat has recently been demoted on the force due to “lifestyle choices” after being caught at a gay club. She’s barely holding it together, haunted by memories of a lover who vanished and voices that float in and out of her head like radio signals. When she stumbles across a dead body on her patrol, two fellow officers gruesomely murder her and dump her into the harbor. Unfortunately for them, she wakes up.
Sabitha: Everything about this sounds amazing. I’m curious about the creation process. Was there any music that inspired you while you were writing?
Sascha: I had a playlist I had going in a loop for most of the writing process, and the one song I keep coming back to Stick and Poke’s Teeth on a String. It’s this dark surreal fairy tale told in only three minutes—what is Hainak but a dark wood with a couple of street signs?
Sabitha: From music to movies! Do you have a “fan-cast” – do you have actors you’d cast as your main characters?
Sascha: I do but for time I’ll just go for the big one: Shohreh Aghdashloo as Sibbi. In early drafts the character was a lot physically larger, alchemically roided-up, but I saw Shohreh in—god I think it was Grimm of all things—and went “Oh, yeah, that’s her.”
Sabitha: What book do you tell all your friends to read? Besides yours of course!
Sascha: VanderMeer, Mieville, right now I’m really enjoying Kerstin Hall’s Second Spear. If The Dawnhounds didn’t give it away, I kinda like fungi.
Sabitha: Everyone should love fungi. If you could pick any author to read your book, who would you want to read it? Why them?
Sascha: Jeff VanderMeer. I feel like I’m too old and hirsute to say “Senpai notice me” but The Dawnhounds never would’ve happened without his influence.
Sabitha: When you picture your ideal reader, what are they like?
Sascha: Rangy old punk, fine with a little darkness in their fantasy, mycology enthusiast, willing to punch a cop to protect a queer.
Sabitha: I suspect we have some of those in our community! What do you most want your readers to take away from reading your book?
Sascha: The police exist solely to protect capital and will act in ways deeply harmful to society in order to remain that way. Also mushrooms are cool and you should be fucking more gay people.
Sabitha: Indeed! Thanks for sharing your story. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?