Friday Nights With Authors is a chance to get to know different authors who write a variety of genres. Tonight, I’m happy to have Stephanie Barr here who writes *mostly* fantasy and science fiction.
Stephanie Barr is a part time novelist, full time rocket scientist, mother of three children and slave to many cats. She has three blogs, which are sporadically updated: Rocket Scientist, Rockets and Dragons, and The Unlikely Otaku. Anything else even vaguely interesting about her can be found in her writing since she puts a little bit of herself in everything she writes…just not the same piece. Stephanie Barr has published five novels, two anthologies of her own stories, and a book of poetry and has had/will have stories published in six anthologies and three ezines. She also has a bit of a manga obsession. Keep up with new releases and events by signing up for her newsletter on any of her blogs or check out her author page on Facebook. You can also sign up for her monthly newsletter.
Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
Well, there’s the obvious stuff. I write fiction. I have three kids (single mom) and two are on the spectrum. I am also a full time rocket scientist and have eight cats. All of that is in my about the author blurb. I also have a manga obsession, currently focused on yaoi for reasons I have a hard time articulating, perhaps because I am a total romantic despite two failed marriages. I love people and always prefer hopeful stories to the alternative. And humor. I love laughing. I love purple. Like to crochet. Once had an obsession for Nelson Eddy and then another with Brendan Fraser.
Some of that ought to be new.
Million dollar question, are you working on another book?
I am always working on another book even when I’m not actually writing one. My subconscious puts together scenes and characters and then, when I sit down to write, they come out. I always know my characters really really well before I write, so that, if you ask me, I know everything about them, even if I didn’t consciously recognized it before you asked.
I have two books in beta review: The Taming of Dracul Morsus (which comes out in the book bundle On the Horizon May 1) and Ideal Insurgent, a science fiction adventure which just released this month.
I do have at least three more books I intend to write this year, two are sequels to existing books. and I’m cowriting another book with Mirren Hogan right now for another book bundle (on witches). I know I’ve had scenarios and scenes for the two sequels floating about behind my conscious brain for some months so far. But, before I jump into that, I’ve got a few books to beta read.
What is your favorite part of your favorite book (that you’ve written)?
I don’t know what I was thinking to pick this one. It’s like asking me my favorite book or movie. One? What kind of movie? What time of day is it?
I like to say I have scenes I love in all my books and it’s true. Almost always they involve at least a smidgen of humor and two people interacting, finding more about each other, often things they didn’t expect. Or they involve side characters I really really love. And if we go that route, I might have to give the edge to one of two scenes in Tarot Queen, one where we meet “Scruffy” and showcase a small dog that knows how to bring a supercilious military captain to his knees.
There’s meeting Dante’s grandfather, an old gentleman quite out of the common way. (Can’t same more without spoilers)
What was your hardest scene to write?
In Curse of the Jenri, I wanted to address who some of the stuff that people like us, who haven’t know total debilitating hardship, tend to judge decisions made somewhere else or in history that we think is just evil. “I would never do it,” they say smugly, having no idea of the exigencies people faced—still face sometimes—and the reasons they make their choices. So I had a protagonist do something unthinkable.
It was not easy to write, but I felt like it was important. And it does disturb people. My then husband hated it and insisted I take it out, which I got talked into, but eventually changed back. I felt it was necessary. Darkness is often part of life. My editor, when she sent back edits for that scene, commented, “You have no soul.” But both could understand why my character did what she chose to do, though, and that’s what I wanted to accomplish. Empathy.
What were the early influences on your writing and how do they manifest in your work?
You can still find them on my bedroom walls, that’s where I keep my favorites. And they’re eclectic: Michener’s Hawaii, Clavell’s Shogun, Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave, Poe, Shakespeare, etc. etc. but probably the most profound influences on my style are Heinlein and Georgette Heyer. I learned so much about making characters that really hit me to the core, great dialog that I could hear in my head, and humor. Other authors have come since that I admire (Nora Roberts, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller), but that’s more refinement on what I learned before.
Interestingly enough, though, when it comes to characters that compel and interesting scenarios, I’ve been as inspired by anime/manga as I have from any novel. I fall in love with a charter and go: that’s who I need for a book I’ve been percolating – that’s totally how I got Dante da Silva from Tarot Queen. And the premise from another manga inspired the Bete novels though I doubt you’d catch the similarities readily.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
If books are not part of a series (most aren’t), I want them to stand by themselves. And, if they’re part of a set series, I want them to be able to stand by themselves. I think every book should be able to be read alone with a complete story arc. Even if it’s part of a larger arc with characters I’ve used before, I want THIS book to be something you could read and enjoy without feeling cheated.
Even my short stories that have to do with my nocels (and I have a bunch in Legacy) I think should be able to stand alone as a great story. True, someone who read Curse of the Jenri is going to get a bigger kick out of Saldomar’s origin story and someone who read the Beast Within is going to have a better sense of the important behind “Storm Front” but the story should still be workable as it is.
Thank you so much for being here, Stephanie!
If you want to keep up with Stephanie on social media and what not, here are the links:
Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/cBGwmb
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Barr/e/B00N9W84YK
Smashwords Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/stephanieebarr
You all really should check out her new release. I read it and loved it. It’s an excellent sci-fi with nice amount of romance mixed in (just enough without being too much).
Two top analysts escaped their intellectual enslavement to the Empire, now intent on taking that same government down using any and every method at their disposal, not the least of which were their great analytical minds.
Bryder was well-suited for this task, a chaos agent with laser-sharp instincts, a grudge against the Empire, and contacts with rebels throughout the universe.