Interview with Dharma Kelleher, Author of Iron Goddess

30 Jun 2016

What can you tell us about your new release, Iron Goddess?

It’s a hardcore biker novel, but from a woman’s viewpoint, sort of a cross between Sons of Anarchy and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The story follows Shea Stevens, a lesbian motorcycle builder, who must join forces with her estranged outlaw biker family in order to rescue her niece from drug dealers and recover three stolen custom motorcycles. My critique group describes it as feminist biker noir.

Who are your literary heroes working today? Why do you admire them?

I love Lawrence Block for his ability to create memorable, gritty characters like Matt Scudder. I’m also a big fan of Jim Butcher, primarily for his ability to describe people and locations in vivid detail and an economy of words. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with the work of Christa Faust. With all of the female-driven neo-noir novels out like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, Faust takes it all to a whole new level. Her book, Moneyshot — about a semi-retired porn star who gets pulled into a violent clash with organized crime — just blew me away.

What’s rocking your world this month?

You mean besides Phoenix’s triple-digit temperatures and my looming deadline for my next book? I just had a great pre-release book-signing at Phoenix Comicon that was an absolute blast. Also I just finished reading an amazing debut novel from Meredith Stroud called If I Was Your Girl about a transgender teen who moves to a new school following her gender transition. So emotionally gripping.

If you had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Tough question! As much as I love the tropics, I would have to say Seattle, specifically the Capitol Hill area. My wife and I stayed at a B&B there a few years back and we just fell in love with it. The culture, the people, the weather, the food. I love living in Phoenix where I can ride my motorcycle year round, but a week or four in the Emerald City every year or so would be a nice getaway. Especially this time of year.

If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?

Writing and editing. It’s hard work and at times frustrating, but I love telling stories. I love telling truths in the guise of fiction.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I’ve done a number of adventurous things. I learned to ride a motorcycle. I’ve gone on solo hikes on the Appalachian Trail. I even flew a sailplane. But the most adventurous thing I’ve done is probably free-climbing the Papago Buttes here in Phoenix. They’re funny-looking mountains made of wind-carved sandstone and they’re only a few hundred feet high. But they are treacherous to climb, especially without ropes. Many people have died in the attempt. But I managed to do it a few times back when I was young and immortal.

What scene in Iron Goddess was your favorite to write?

There is a chase scene where the main character, Shea Stevens, is being chased on her motorcycle by members of a Mexican drug cartel after she broke into one of their warehouses. It takes place in a remote wilderness area on gravel roads. Street bikes don’t do so well on gravel, especially at high speeds. It’s a high-octane scene that ends not so well for Shea.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

I am what I describe as a Zen punk Buddhist. I combine the compassion and tenets of Buddhist philosophy with the “question everything” rebelliousness of punk. These two may seem rather incongruous, but they play rather well together. The Buddha himself was reported to have told his students to question everything they were taught and put it to the test, no matter who taught it, including him. Punk is about finding your own truth and living authentically, regardless of what anyone else is doing. This all makes sense to me. It’s how I live my life.

Dharma Kelleher is the author of the new book Iron Goddess.

Connect with Dharma
Author Website

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