The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.
Title: Faith & Fandom Volume 2: The Obligatory Sequel Author: Hector Miray Genre: Christian Nonfiction, Geek Culture Pages: 95 Reading Level: Teen Content: PG (reference to books, movies, and video games targeted to teen and adult audiences, religious principles)
I’ll admit that it took me some time to get into this book, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately shared it with a family member after finishing it. With that said, I did have a few issues concerning my reading experience and would like to explain what I liked and didn’t like, thus keeping this wonderful book from receiving a 5 star rating.
First, I loved the cover. It pulled me in from across the alley at the local Comic Con where I received it. The images and the title immediately had me curious about the content within, so imagine my disappointment with there were no images inside, at all. I’m no fool to the issue of copyright infringement, but for some reason, I at least expected to see some vague and rough sketches to accompany some of the featured stories, but there were none.
Second, I enjoyed the personal and carefree tone of the essays. Many of them include personal life experiences and moments of pure geekdom that I could totally relate to. Then when the author began to transition into making biblical connections, it didn’t feel forced or preachy. He was simply offering his opinions based on his personal faith-walk and experience as a geek and fanboy. However, there were times when comprehending the message was a little difficult. There was no stylized formatting to clearly separate what was personal opinion, media quotes, or scripture. Yes, Miray, used all correct punctuation, but since the essays are written in a conversational way, it was sometimes difficult to determine which part of the one-sided conversation you were reading. Plus, it bothered me that none of the paragraphs were indented, though, I got over it quickly by pretending I was reading blog posts, which are often times not indented.
Lastly, I liked that this was a short read that packed a lot of punch. Miray covers so many different fandoms in this volume, it makes me want to go back to see what he talked about in the first one. Since I acquired my copy at a live event, I got to speak with Miray who suggested that I start with whichever volume seemed to have more of the geek stuff I liked in it, thus I started with volume two.
Even though this was a short read, it did take me a while to get into it because of all the forwards. I’m used to reading one or two pages of forwards and I think this book had four pages of them. Also, I was a little annoyed that there were no page numbers to reference. Sometimes I like to gauge my progress as I’m reading to motivate myself to finish a book, but I couldn’t do that this time.
Overall, I really felt like this book was wonderful for those who love geek culture and who might be curious about Christian faith. Other books that claim to connect faith to pop culture in a fun and interesting way, to me, have fallen short, but this book does it right. Recommended to, as the description states “geek curious believer[s and] a faith curious fanboy[s and girls]” of all ages, though younger children may not get all the references.
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.
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.
Today I’m sharing a picture of “make tea not war” with a bird that I posted on my tea pin board.
Today in my meditation I’m thinking about Eternal Curse and Full Moon, and I’m writing about: Why the race thing?
My work isn’t that culturally diverse in comparison to works that aim for cultural diversity, but I do mix races and cultures a tiny bit sometimes. I can still remember one reviewer being shocked to learn that Mira, from Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel, was black. Apparently I revealed her race in a very dramatic kind of way. In actuality, I just think most people have preconceived ideas about how black/ethnic characters should be written.
In my mind, I was simply providing a reveal between characters who’d gotten to know each other online without ever wasting time talking about the color of their skin because so many other matters were much more important. In any case, I’ve made some changes to the chapter structure of that book, which should tone down the “race reveal”, since that’s not the point of that scene.
Now in my first attempt at a contemporary romance, I’ve included one black character who plays a supporting role to my white main character. Some people have asked why am I writing about white people. The truth is that race is never brought up as an issue in this story. I wrote the story based on the way the inspiration came to me. The story is not about race. It’s about all the crazy things that happen in the pursuit of love, but I’m sure someone will be fixated on the one black character for whatever reason because that’s how it always goes.
I’m still fairly new to this whole writing thing and even though I have so many other stories to share and so many other characters to create, some people will complain that I’m not culturally diverse enough, that I’m not black enough, that I’m too edgy, that I’m too PC, that I’m not PC enough, and so on. So, since I know it’s coming, I’m already prepared to simply ignore it all and keep on writing.
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
I started out this week with Sample Sunday 58- It’s Like the Full Moon.
On Monday, I posted my Top 5 Marvel Heroes.
On Tuesday, I observed Veteran’s Day. Then I added to my Character files Teddy’s opinion on the Eternal Curse. I forgot to share my visit to the Blood and Inkblog, so please check it out now.
On Wednesday, I posted a Post from the Past breaking down Sinclair Manor.
On Thursday, I posted a Tea and Conversation about fathers.
And yesterday, I posted a special Friday Forecast which featured my 4th Mock Squid Soup Review: Space Battleship Yamato. Then I posted a review of The Once and Future King. Lastly I shared a post I contributed to on Daily Dose of Gratitude.
Thanks for hanging out with me this week. I hope to see you again next week.
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