Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Stephanie Barr, about her fiction book entitled, Legacy. Enjoy!
Where did the idea for Legacy come from?
Well, that’s a long story. I’d written short stories (already in another anthology) and then five novels and had self-published four of them after my divorce. I was having a hard time getting into the mood or writing after my divorce and signed up with a short story contest. Although I didn’t win, I jumped back into short stories as I hadn’t done in years. After a couple years, I had more than thirty of them and nowhere to put them. So, I thought I’d make another anthology. I have another two stories coming out in multi-author anthologies this fall.
Wow, thirty short stories is impressive. With thirty stories in one book, how long is the book?
It is nearly 133k words, so it’s a long read. I was actually expecting a few of my beta readers to complain, but, so far, no one has.
How did the title of this book come about?
“Legacy” is a story in my anthology and involves a pair of teenage boys who survive the atomic bombing in Nagasaki, with one of the boys (Omoto) deeply in love with the other but unwilling to bring that up because he didn’t want to ruin their relationship. When the one loved dies in violence, Omoto has to decide what kind of legacy he’ll leave. I love the title and it seemed fitting for stories that reflect my thoughts, frustrations, societal issues. There are also stories with characters from my novels, my own legacy so the title seemed perfect for the collection.
I’ve seen that quite often, having a whole collection of stories listed under the title of one, but the fact this is a representation of your own legacy, makes this all the more special.
What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?
Most of my fiction is fantasy and/or science fiction and my short stories are the same. The short stories that expand on novels are in keeping with the original genres, almost all of my upcoming novel related stories are hard science fiction and the stories that are related to nothing could be anything. I have two that are historical/contemporary, some fantasy, and some science fiction.
Do you worry that including so many different genres will alienate fans of a particular genre?
You know, I really don’t. I’m a character writer and I think the genre is really immaterial if the characters “speak” to the reader. And I hear that a great deal from readers. “I don’t normally like fantasy but this was really good,” or even, “I didn’t get all the technical details, but I just loved Kado.” That is something cool with my science fiction. Because I’m a rocket scientist, the science is pretty sound, especially anything in space.
What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?
People are what matters. What you are is not as important as who you are. We all can do something to make the world better. Love is always better than hate.
That’s quite a message, and one you can never seem to have too much of. I like it.
Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take?
The first contest I wrote for started in January 2015. The last story I added to the mix was in June 2017. There are four stories (Tarot Queen stories) which are the only ones that were written before the respective novel. The rest of the stories, the other twenty-eight, were written in the last two years along with maybe half a dozen I’ve sold or am marketing elsewhere.
So, about two years to write an impressive single author anthology. Not too shabby.
Briefly, describe some of the stories within this book.
I told you about “Legacy.” I’ve got three stories with an autistic scientist in a space station (my son is non-verbal autistic). I have a blind arcane archer with a shapeshifting cat. I have kids escaping from ruthless invaders (prequels to the Bete Novels), meet and fall in love fantasy stories (prequels to Curse of the Jenri), a young couple getting married and the bride’s eccentric grandmother (sequels to Saving Tessa), and several stories centered on a talented Tarot Queen who uses and is used by her cards. And a farcical story of a dragon, a unicorn, and a miller’s daughter.
That last one sounds like the set-up to a cheesy joke, but then you did say it was farcical. I gotta say, I’m really digg’n the diversity of this collection. Nice job.
What are some of the major themes in this book?
Some things are bigger than yourself.
Who you are is more important than what you are.
Love can come from anywhere.
Love is better and stronger than hatred.
Better to try and fail than be silent.
Karma, like natural laws, has no pity.
The quick answer isn’t always the best answer.
Brains over brawn.
There’s more than you think to some people.
Sometimes there is no good answer.
Anything can be taken too far.
Women are powerful.
Appearances can be deceiving.
People are people, no matter the “species.”
Those are some pretty intense and noble themes. I get the feeling that all your writing, at some level, has a greater message to it. Were these themes on your mind when writing these stories or did they develop within the writing process?
Some of the themes come from the novels that spawned the stories. Many of the standalone stories were prompted by particular markets or contests I was going for, but they include my own personal philosophies. “Legacy” was partly inspired by George Takai and his work. Several other stories like “Nemesis” and “Nightmare Blanket” were spawned by frustration with the recent election. I’m pretty adamant about feminism. It’s the long way of saying, some stories are built on the theme and some have the theme built into the story.
What are some of the settings in this book?
I have a space station – and that was fun because I worked with folks on orbit so it’s a bit of an area of expertise (though I don’t know as much as those who lived it). I’ve got high fantasy realms (often with highly patriarchal societies), the Earth in 2058, in a galaxy far far away (had fun with space battles using real orbital mechanics), modern day San Francisco and California between WWII and today.
Whatever the anthology is about, I always enjoy the sense of travel. It’s one of the best parts of reading an anthology, but you don’t get that as much when all the stories happen in the same world. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when being engrossed in stories from the same world is just what I want, but most of the time, I prefer setting diversity.
Who are some of your favorite characters in this book?
Who don’t I love? Characters are my favorite. Okay, I love Saldomar, Tander, Riko, Cristo, Denra, and Klevaron (Curse of the Jenri), Dylan, Nathan, Tessa, and Dotty (Saving Tessa), Dante da Silva, Scruffy, and Gus (Tarot Queen), Xander, Alya, K’Ti, and Laren (the Bete Novels), Bryder and Nayna, Kado—love me some Kado, the Devil, the dragon, Billy, Ryuuji and Omoto.
I love some of the names your characters have. I like that some are average sounding while others are more exotic.
Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?
Oh, yeah. Most of my characters have a bit of me, but some have more than their fair share like Nayna and Dylan who are both very very smart and socially awkward. But the snark that makes my charming characters is mine, too (don’t ask me how both can be true; I can’t explain it) so that’s Dante da Silva, the Devil, Tander, Bryder. Kado, as I mentioned, is patterned on my son though he’s not really non-verbal, more ultra-terse and more ruthless than my son. I’m also a manga otaku who loves yaoi so Legacy is my sort of tribute.
I find that most writers can’t seem to keep themselves out of their stories, I know I can’t, but I like how you swing that a bit to pay tribute to people and influences that you care about the most.
What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?
True love. Though inventing something that made me rich and famous would be cool, too.
One thing I’ve learned from reading so much is that true love isn’t always romantic love, (says the girl who married her best friend and can’t get enough of the Princess Bride). I too think I’d like to have something that could make me rich (don’t need the fame).
What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?
I wish people who were different or smart weren’t judged, bullied or mistreated, though that happened to me (to a lesser extent than in my stories). This is also applicable to minorities, religious minorities, women and LGBTQ folks.
I feel ya. There never seems to be a shortage of reasons for people to pick on others; I do wish the world would go ahead and change already.
Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.
That’s really more pertinent to one of my novels, though you could tease a film out of the “Tarot Queen, Melan” stories or “Legacy.” I think Curse of the Jenri would make a great film. Grace Jones was an image I had for Melan. I could really see Scarlett Johansen as Layla and someone like the Rock (though probably younger) playing Tander. But that’s the general attitude he’d need. I always thought the opening credits would be great to a remix of “Witchy Woman” as Layla sneaks into the castle.
I love that opening credits description. Sounds like something I’d totally watch. I understand this question being more suitable to a novel, but what if you could cast a film based on this collection. Imagine something like the Heavy Metal movie (not suitable for children) where one entity connects all the unrelated stories together. Do you think that would be too much?
That’s a very intriguing thought. I don’t have a single thread holding them together, but don’t challenge me. I could come up with something and several stories could be grouped into a single episode.
Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?
Well, I’m hoping to release it in paperback and ebook at the end of July or, at the latest, early August. My other anthologies (stories and poetry) are only available in ebook format (and they’re available for free) but I think this is something special. My friend (Chuck, I mentioned him) says this book is like an anthology of anthologies. I think it’s something special.
So, is this book available for pre-order?
Yes. You can find it at Amazon.com
Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To try other works by Stephanie Barr, please visit the links provided.
Learn more about Stephanie Barr at the links below.
This has been a
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords