I’d like to apologize to Belva and my readers for being a little late in getting this interview out. I generally shoot for early morning, but lately, there have been a number of distractions that have taken control of my life… (sounds like an alien force!)
But, I won’t waste any more time. Please help me to welcome Belva Rae Staples, author of ‘THE WORLD BETWEEN’ and ‘THE TIDE WALKER’.
IDI – Thanks for joining me today, Belva.
BRS – Nice to be here.
IDI – Tell us, what is an ordinary day in the life of Belva Rae Staples?
BRS – I’m not sure I have an ordinary day. It all depends on the time of year. In the harshest weather of the winter months, we aren’t fishing, so life is pretty laid back. All that changes once we put lobster traps in the water. A typical day during fishing season begins at around 4:30 A.M. (for me, my husband has specific orders not to get up when I do) I take a few minutes to soak up the silence and slurp a cup of coffee (preferably French Vanilla Supreme) while I read two or three chapters in my Bible. Sometimes my dog snuggles with me while I read (I know it’s wrong, but he thinks he owns the sofa along with almost everything else in the house). After that, I pack a lunch and have breakfast with my husband. We go off to work and ply the waters around our island in search of the elusive lobster. We lead a simple life of hard work, home, and family.
IDI – Define a great book.
BRS – A great book makes you feel something. It should make you laugh or cry or make you mad or some other strong emotion, but above all it should make you stop and think. If a book doesn’t do at least one of those things, I toss it in a corner and forget it. I used to slog through a book whether I liked it or not, but these days I don’t have that kind of time to waste.
IDI – Would you say your stories are more plot or character driven?
BRS – I would have to say my characters drive the story. It may sound odd to some, but I let the characters talk and interact with each other and they decide where the plot goes. I rarely know what the outcome will be and am often shocked at the turn of events in the story. I can honestly say that I never get bored with writing when I operate this way.
IDI – Tell us about your book.
BRS – The Kriterion Saga: The World Between is my first effort. It is an inspirational fantasy about an evil young man named Alex Edgecomb who has a demented notion that he is better than everyone else and deserves to be served and obeyed by all. Because of his attitude, he soon finds himself down to his last friend. He murders the boy because he failed to obey him during the course of a game they were playing together. Alex’s younger sister, Sharon Rose had the misfortune of witnessing the event. It changes her young life forever.
Alex’s parents refuse to face the facts concerning him and instead of turning him over to the authorities, they try to reform him on their own. He plays along, but doesn’t change.
Then, Alex learns of another young boy named Sean who during a grave illness claims to have visited another world where he met a king. When Alex hears about it, he becomes obsessed with going there to depose the king and take over.
The narrator of the story, George O’Dell, has a rich life of his own. He lives on an island off the coast of Maine with his family and befriends an elderly lady who tells him the saga of Kriterion. He becomes enthralled with it, but soon sees similarities between Alex and himself. He must decide whether to alter the path he is on or become just like Alex.
The book has a positive message and is filled with action that provides constant twist and turns. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. I think it will be enjoyed by a wide variety of people and age groups. Who doesn’t like flying horses, talking Border collies, and Peregrine falcons, after all?
IDI – When did you hve your Eureka moment? When did you know that you were born to be a writer?
BRS – My Eureka moment came about two years ago. I wrote a poem for my daughter’s baby shower called: The Vision. I think the poem was prophetic, but that’s another story. Anyway, I hadn’t written anything since high school. When I read the poem and looked around the room, I noticed that several people were in tears. I thought, Holy Cow, this is powerful!
Shortly after that, a minister visited our church and preached a message entitled: And the Walls Came Tumblin’ Down (you can find this sermon in its entirety on my blog). During the course of the sermon, he said, “Think of one thing you know you should do. Whatever pops into your mind is what God has placed into your hands.” The bottom line is: That is what you’re supposed to do, so get at it. That’s exactly what I did. A few days later I began work on my first novel.
IDI – Can we get a sneak peek at what you’re working on now?
BRS – I am working on the third book of my fantasy series entitled: The Kriterion Saga. I haven’t nailed down the title for this specific book as of yet, but it takes place in the mining province of my little created world.
Here’s a tidbit:
I entered the mine which was shrouded with thick darkness, so I took an oil wick lamp with me to light up the way. Everything was in disarray. Tools were thrown everywhere and it was obvious the crew had quit work with no plan of returning anytime soon. It seemed a shame for such a previously, productive mine to have ground to a complete halt. As I looked around to view what had been an orderly hard rock diamond mine, I saw discarded pick axes, upended ore buckets, and even a few of the miner’s lunch pails. There were candlesticks in their bent spike candleholders jutting from the walls in which they had been driven by large hammers. These were stationed at regular intervals in order to light the cavernous mine without the constant need for lanterns. Most of the men used candlesticks which they attached to their caps with a lump of clay to ensure complete freedom of movement. It made the backbreaking work a little easier and I saw a few discarded hats that had been strewn around here and there as I progressed deeper into the mine. I began noticing something troubling. Many of the veins that had been rich had been stripped. I looked to my left and right and saw the same everywhere, but I also noticed something else. I saw strange, new tunnels that hadn’t been there. They were smaller than the main mining tunnels, but still quite large considering they were new and hadn’t existed prior to the mine shut-down. I couldn’t begin to imagine who or what was responsible for them.
Suddenly from a main tunnel off to my left I began hearing curious sounds. It sounded like something burrowing through rock. It was faint a first, but became louder. Then all was quiet. I walked in the direction of the sound and tried not to make any noise that would give away my presence. The burrowing began anew and I crept closer and put my ear to the rock wall from which I had heard the sounds. Then I heard voices. The burrowing stopped and the voices became louder. Several of the burrowers were speaking at once and the tone was angry, argumentative, and agitated. I couldn’t make out what was being said, but it was definitely a foreign language. It sounded as though it was made up of guttural grunts and snorts. I stepped back from the wall and waited for the burrowing to resume. As I stood there stalk still, I detected an odd rustling sound off to the tunnel on my right. I turned to look and saw a sight that made my jaw drop.
I saw only the back side of the creature and did not have an opportunity to get a look at its face. It was a large, cylindrical, creature with velvety, dark brown fur. It appeared to me to be about five feet in length and I would guess that it weighed at least one hundred and fifty pounds. It had a long, pink, furless tail and its feet were wide and long with strong looking claws which would enable it to do a lot of hard digging. I took a couple of steps in the creature’s direction and saw it enter the tunnel swiftly. I ran forward quietly and was just in time to see the last bit of its pink tail disappear into the hole in the wall. I gasped, in spite of my desire to remain silent. I couldn’t help myself. It was all so shocking. It was hard to believe that these creatures were powerful enough to be penetrating rock walls, but it had to be true. I had seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. The question in my mind was; Why? What could these beings want with diamonds? Who are they and what could they be doing with gems? Then I wondered if other mines throughout Minorea were being similarly invaded and stripped of their wealth by the weird creatures.
I looked at my oil wick lamp and saw that it was running dangerously low. If I wanted to make my way safely out of the mine, I had better start back now before the oil ran out. Being in a pitch black mine is not a good situation for anyone. I didn’t want to become lost in the tunnels that branched off in many different directions. It would be an easy thing to do in the dark. It would also be easy to get tripped up on jagged rocks jutting out from the tunnel walls. The last thing I needed was to break a leg or an arm and lie there injured, alone in the dark with only these odd creatures for company, especially since I had no idea if they were even friendly. I hurried along the main tunnel artery and tried to avoid the debris scattered throughout the place. At last, I could see a faint light in the distance. I waited for a minute, until it became brighter, then I blew out the lamp and hurried to the mouth of the mine and out into the sunshine. I breathed a sigh of relief and hung my lamp up on one of the huge wooden uprights that helped make up the entrance.
IDI – When people say ‘why do you write’, I reply, “I’m either creative or a pathological liar – I’m not sure.” Actually, I think (in part) that writing is almost like being schizophrenic, but without the personalities coming out verbally. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
BRS – I write because I love to spin a good yarn and have ever since I was a kid. Whenever I heard someone tell a story (gossip) I liked to embellish it and give it an extra added twist, if I thought it was boring. Apparently, that was a lot of the time, according to my mother.
I agree with your assessment up to a point, but when I write about an axe murderer I don’t become one, not even for a minute. When I am writing about a character, I do try to get inside the character’s brain. I’ve always enjoyed trying to figure out what those around me are thinking from little things like their facial expressions and body language. I think this has helped me a lot. I’m also a person who empathizes with others and their plight. When you care how others feel and are sensitive to them, I believe it gives greater insight. Greater insight translates into more believable characters.
IDI – Are you an outliner or a fly by the seat of your pants writer?
BRS – You have probably already guessed my answer to this question. I am a wing it person. My mind simply isn’t organized enough to get into sketching out the entire book. In my opinion, plotting everything in advance would be too limiting. I let my fingers fly over the keyboard and pray it turns out alright. I have more fun this way and so far I’ve liked the end result.
IDI – Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of Barnes and Noble or the quiet of your study? Alone or within a writing group? Tell us, what is your most productive/inspiring setting?
BRS – I use the computer and Word alone in my cave (study). I prefer quiet when I can get it. If it’s really quiet and I have the entire house to myself, I like to sit at my dining room table. I glance up from my keyboard from time to time to stare out my picture window at the ocean that is about 70 feet from my front door. Who wouldn’t be inspired? I am truly blessed to live in such a picturesque environment.
IDI – We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?
BRS – Of course, I’m in everything I write. It can’t be avoided. In my fantasy series, I would have to say that I identify most with the narrator, George O’Dell. He’s kind of a hothead and so am I, but don’t tell anyone. I try not to let that side of me show. That’s why it’s so much fun to write from his point of view. I can let it all out without getting into any personal trouble.
IDI – I know I have ideas that cross over the lines of my usual genre. Do you have any such ideas wandering around and if so, what’s your outlook on genre crossing?
BRS – I don’t want to be pigeon holed. I am writing a fantasy series, but on my blog (www.mainelymugups.blogspot.com) I am working on a mystery/suspense serial called: Myrtle Watson’s Secret Admirer. Each week I write a new installment. This has been going on every Sunday for about six months. I absolutely love it and am considering turning it into a novel and a new series. This one is not kid friendly like the fantasy series. Maybe, that’s why I like it. Stop by my blog and check it out. I think it will suck you in.
IDI – What do you do when you’re not writing?
BRS – When I’m not writing, I am working aboard a 36 foot lobster boat. I’ve been co-partners with my husband in the lobster business for 27 years. I love it because I am outside in the elements (not always good, but always challenging) and I have the luxury of being my own boss. I never need to punch a time clock. It’s great and you never know what you’ll see in the run of a day. You might see dolphins or a whale or an eagle sitting on the shore of an island or soaring high overhead. It is hard work, but I wouldn’t trade it.
IDI – Wow, that sounds interesting! What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writes?
BRS – The most difficult aspect of writing is killing off a character you’ve come to love. Writing is a lot like playing God. You alone decide who lives, who dies, what kind of world to create, and the list continues. These characters I create seem like my children and it’s tough to get rid of one. I think it has given me a deeper sense of how God must feel at times.
The most frustrating part of writing is the editing. It is tedious and time consuming, but even during that you can find ways to tweak the story to make it better, so it’s all good really.
IDI – How do you promote your work?
BRS – I blog constantly (once a day, at least) to try to get what I do out there. I would be thrilled to have more followers on the blog, at http://www.mainelymugups.blogspot.com. When you visit, if you like what you see, become one.
You can follow me on Twitter (@BelvaRae Staples) and on Facebook
I have an Amazon author page at http://www.amazon.com /author/belvaraestaples. It will keep you posted on my upcoming events.
I have a book signing scheduled for June 30, 2012 at 1:00 P.M. at the Barnes and Noble in Augusta, Maine at 9 Market Place Drive. If you’re in the area, by all means, drop by and visit with me. I’d love to meet you.
IDI – What are your future plans?
BRS – I plan to continue writing as long as I remain living and breathing.
IDI – That’s my plan, too. Belva, thank you for being here and I wish you the very best of luck with your writing career.
While I sit and imagine how cool it would be to look out my front window and see the ocean every day for the rest of my life… here is a list of this week’s recommended reading.
If you enjoyed Belva’s interview, be sure to take a minute and let her know. If you’re a published author and would be interested in participating in an interview yourself, contact me at ladybuggerly (at) hotmail, I’m easy to get along with!
All interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of ‘MISSOURI IN A SUITCASE’ and the award-winning ’LILY WHITE LIES’
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