· Author bio:
A. R. Silverberry writes fiction for adults and children. His novel, WYNDANO’S CLOAK, won multiple awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award gold medal for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. THE STREAM is his second novel.
· Book title: The Stream
· Genre: Fantasy > Metaphysical and Visionary
What if your world was six miles wide and endlessly long?
After a devastating storm kills his parents, five-year-old Wend awakens to the strange world of the Stream. He discovers he can only travel downstream, and dangers lurk at every turn: deadly rapids, ruthless pirates, a mysterious pavilion that lures him into intoxicating fantasies, and rumor of a giant waterfall at the edge of the world. Defenseless, alone, with only courage and his will to survive, Wend begins his quest to become a man. Will tragic loss trap him in a shadow world, or will he enter the Stream, with all its passion and peril?
Part coming-of-age tale, part adventure, part spiritual journey, The Stream is a fable about life, impermanence, and the gifts found in each moment.
· Publish date: 4/26/14
· Publisher: Tree Tunnel Press
Welcome A.R. It's great to have you in the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network. As well as hearing about your books, we're keen to find out a little about the mysterious author hiding behind the pen name.
What’s your favourite pet?
Picture something white, grey, spoiled, and furry. That’s what I’ve got purring on my lap right now. He on insists supervising my writing. When he stops purring I know something needs to be revised. If I want to go into denial, though, I type with one hand and keep massaging behind his ears. He’s happy to play along, but then there’s the occasional hairball to let me know the truth!
Now that is an interesting sub editor.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m a psychologist, working with children, teens, and adolescents. People often ask if that background influences my writing. I don’t think it did in my first two books, but I made a conscious effort in the novel I’m currently working on to tap into my knowledge of personality theory and the workings of the unconscious. Writers are encourage to “write what you know,” so I figured it was time to put that PhD to good use!
I bet that PhD comes in handy when it comes to character development and your characters' motivations.
The concept sprang more or less full-blown from a conversation I was having in which I was using the metaphor of a stream. I kept thinking about that metaphor the rest of the day, and pretty soon the image a five-year-old boy popped into my mind. The next day, I wrote out the basic idea for the story, including the theme, and started outlining it. I was working on another novel at the time, but dropped it. The Stream had me hooked!
It sounds quite an original concept.
What made you choose this genre?
Half the day, I’m daydreaming anyway, so writing fantasy fiction is pretty natural for me. I gravitated toward the genre as a child, consuming vast quantities of fairy tales, myths, Oz books, all things Tolkien, and the spooky tales of Robert E Howard. I like to be astonished and intrigued, so creating worlds where anything can happen, and usually does is just the ticket for me!
I swear, I grew up in Fantasy Central. California painted in swatches of the state flower was Baum’s field of poppies, sans poison. The redwoods were home to pixies. And San Anselmo’s Red Hill was Hobbiton.
How do you develop your characters?
There are two kinds of characters, the ones I slave over and the ones that step onto stage, fully alive. Let’s talk about slaving over a hot computer first. I fill out a number of character prompt sheets I’ve developed over the years. I want to know what the character’s motives, strengths, weaknesses, and past are like. I’ll often interview the character, and let them speak. Unless I can hear the character in my head, I keep working on them.
The characters that step onto stage and announce themselves are usually the most successful. In Wyndano’s Cloak, my first novel, it was the snarky countess, Petunia Pompahro. In The Stream, it was the boat builder, Dory. I had a whole other idea about him, but when I tried to write it that way, another voice kept coming out. It was pretty clear that I needed to get out of the way and let him do his thing. What I didn’t expect was that he came along with a truculent rooster. That kind of surprise is what keeps me writing!
It sure takes you by surprise when characters write themselves.
Have you used any real people in your characters?
Every character is probably an amalgam of several people. No one would be recognizable though. I listen carefully to speech patterns. My notebook is often out as I capture the phrase of a store clerk or a waitress. One time, I ordered dry toast. The waitress read back my order, and said, “Toast, hold the grease.” You can’t make this stuff up!
Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?
For a story about a stream, I needed to be on location. Fortunately, I lived within walking distance of a beautiful one through out the writing. I walked there at all times of day, and in all kinds of weather conditions. I studied the current, the flora and fauna, and closed my eyes and listened to it. I watched sunlight on the ripples. I inhaled.But I still had a huge learning curve ahead of me! I knew almost nothing about boats and sailing. My knowledge of surviving in nature was just as scant. Here’s a short list of some of the things I needed to learn and integrate into the novel: the flora and fauna of the riparian wilderness; the technology available to the primitive people occupying the stream; knife making, basketry; boatbuilding; the myths, legends, rituals, and beliefs of the culture; and the mainstays of their diet and how it was prepared.
That sounds like quite a research list. I admire your dedication.
I see my clients in the afternoon and evening, which is perfect because I prefer to write in the morning. My mind is clear, and I’m more in my right brain. I’m a put-in-the-time kind of writer, as opposed to a word-count writer. That worked out well when I wrote Wyndano’s Cloak because I was commuting on a train. That gave me three hours a day, round trip on the laptop, and forty minutes of walking between work and the train station, when I was jotting down snippets of dialogue or description. The worst day of my writing life was when we moved away from that train! Just hearing one clanging along puts me into writing mode.
What do you do when you have writers’ block?
Can I put on my psychologist’s hat for a sec?! I don’t believe in the concept of writer’s block. It’s too poorly defined, making it hard to identify the appropriate solution. When I’m stuck, it’s usually because I don’t know what direction I want to go in, or because I need to know the characters and their motives better. Let’s say it’s the latter. I’ll interview that character and let them tell me what’s on their mind. If I’m struggling to find the right word, I’ll brain storm words. If things aren’t flowing, I speed up how fast I’m writing, bypassing my internal editor. If anyone’s curious, I wrote a post called Unblock Writer’s Block, which lists how to identify what the problem is and specific strategies for resolving them.
You sound very committed to your writing.
Which book character are you most like and why?
Jenren, the heroine of Wyndano’s Cloak. She’s dogged, persistent, loyal, and has a huge heart.
Are there any writing styles or genres you dislike?
This is going to get me into big trouble with YA Paranormal crowd, but I loathe first person present. It calls so much attention to itself that it knocks me out of the story, if I ever get pulled in at all. A part of me is screaming, “Wait, if you’re running from that gunman, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, and scurrying down that fire escape, when did you have time to write those words.” See? It’s an improbable leap from the get go. For this reason, it used to be rare. A writer really needed to be a master to pull it off. I’ve read very few modern examples that worked. Dean Koontz did a fabulous job in By the Light of the Moon. He did it so seamlessly, I had to step back to realize he was using it.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
You can’t take me too far from the ocean! I start to wither. I love to take long beach walks and hikes in the forest. I’m still looking for those pixies!
You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
This will date me (that photo is at least 15 years old!), but I’ve always liked Superman, and had my nose glued to those comics as a kid. We’ve all had those dreams when we were flying, with that feeling of freedom, with that perspective of the world. I’m not sure I’d go after crooks, though. I might pay a visit to some shortsighted, world leaders.
Well, that's the great thing about fantasy, if you want your characters to have super powers, you just have to make it real in your world.
Can you give us a short excerpt from The Stream?
Here’s an excerpt of some prose that describes the world of the Stream. It never found its way into the novel, but I really like it, and it gives you a flavour of what the main character, Wend, is dealing with:
If Wend had stopped to think about it, he would have realized that his family, searching for fruit, nuts, and roots, never ventured far from either shore, that travelers never sailed upstream to tell tales of what lay ahead. Except for tacking and voyages of a few miles, his family never ventured upstream either. When he’d asked his father why, he was told, “It’s a law.” Wend must have looked blank because his father told him to jump as high as he could. Wend jumped, and after his feet landed on the ground, his father said, “Now jump as high as the top of the mast.” Wend had laughed, but declared that no one could do that.
“Why not?” his father asked.
“We come down first,” Wend replied.
“It’s a law,” said his father. “And it’s a law that we go that way.”
His father pointed downstream.
If Wend had thought of these things, he would have understood that everyone was tethered to the stream and could only go in one direction. People stopped from time to time, working at abandoned foundries to smelt metal for anchors, chains, and knives, cutting trees to build or repair boats, living in villages, taking over deserted houses like creatures that move into another animal’s shell. They never stayed long, always returning to their boats, always going with the current, always traveling downstream.
Thanks so much for stopping by to chat A.R. I'm looking forward to checking out your fascinating novels.
Book trailer for Wyndano’s Cloak: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWaLY61MSyo
Purchase Links for The Stream:
Amazon Softback Edition
iTunes: Coming Soon!
Purchase Links for Wyndano’s Cloak
Barnes and Noble
Limited first edition Hardback:
Collectible Gift! Signed and unsigned copies available only from the author!
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