Thursday, August 13, 2020

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: Souls by Terri Bruce @_TerriBruce @RABTBookTours

Speculative Fiction
(Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror mix)
Date Published: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Mictlan Press

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There’s magic and mystery around every corner, if you know where to look…

This collection of eleven short stories from fantasy and science fiction author Terri Bruce explores the hidden corners of our world. Blending fantasy, horror, magical realism, and folklore, these tales will delight, mystify, and unsettle. Unicorns roam the New Hampshire countryside disguised as a biker gang. Portals to other worlds hide on commuter train platforms. And be careful of what really lurks at the bottom of those quaint wishing wells that dot the countryside. Strip away the veneer of everyday life and dare to see what lies just below the surface.

Interview with Terri Bruce

    For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?
    That is a very interesting question because, before this book came out, I would have said that the “theme”/genre was “slipstream, new weird” short fiction. New weird is defined as a literary genre that features real world settings for horror or horror-esque stories blending fantasy, science fiction, and existential terror. Slipstream is defined as “the fiction of strangeness” and as a form of writing that makes the ordinary seem strange and the strange seem ordinary or familiar. It’s the fiction of “displacement, surrealness, or cognitive dissonance.”

    However, when the early reviews for SOULS came in, they all said the same thing: horror, horror, horror. And I was puzzled at first because I don’t think of myself as a horror writer. In fact, I would say that, for the most part, my stories are hopeful/happy. But then I went back and looked at each story in the collection and thought, “That one’s dark. That one’s dark. That one’s dark. Oh, yeah, maybe I do write horror!” LOL! I still stand by my assertion that the overall genre I’m writing in is slipstream new weird and that the “existential dread” part of new weird is the horror vibe a lot of readers are picking up on. My husband calls that horror and “strangeness” undercurrent of my writing the defining trait of everything I write. He’ll read one of my stories, and it’s going along seemingly innocently and happily and then there will be a twist and he goes, “yup, there it is. It’s a Terri story!”

    Some other writers who write in this same vein/genre are Tim Powers, the great China Mieville, and Shirley Jackson.
    How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
    Writers always get asked where our ideas come from and I think I am not unusual in saying “I have no idea.” I might read a news story that sparks an idea (such as with Stone Baby) or I might have a bad day at work due to ridiculous bureaucracy that sparks the desire to mock that ridiculousness (as with Welcome to OASIS). Sometimes, a character just pops into my head, speaking to me, the story pouring out of them into my head, and I’ll sit down and write the entire thing in one sitting (as with The Tower and My Lover Like Night). There’s a wonderful TED Talk on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert (“Your Elusive Creative Genius) in which she talks about a poet who felt poems approach her like a train and pass through her on their way to wherever they were going. Often time, stories feel that way to me, too. They’re out there in the ether and I pass through one like an airplane through a cloud and I manage to grab hold of it and pin it to a piece of paper.

    Speaking of My Lover Like Night – I just realized I never explained the title in the afterword to the story in the book, so here is an exclusive for readers of your blog: the title of that story comes from the fact the original story idea/seed was of a man describing his dark-hearted lover/mistress. In my head, the man is narrating the story, telling the reader about his lover who is beautiful but cruel and deadly, but when I went to write the story down, the woman was the narrator, telling her own story. Apparently, the characters had a fight in my head between story inception and fruition and he lost and got elbowed out of the way.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
    The short stories in SOULS were written between 2015 and 2019. I wrote the stories as the ideas occurred to me, without any particular rhyme or reason. About half the stories have been published (either in an anthology or magazine) and half have never before been published.

    In 2019, I went through transitions as a writer and in life that changed my writing focus a bit. Not in any way that would be tangible to an outsider/to someone not in my head. More a change in the type of themes I wanted to explore. My short story writing of late has been much more personal and emotional. Less general “new weird” type themes and more personal stories of loss, reconciling with one’s past, forgiveness, etc. I feel like I’ve transitioned to a new phase of life and, as such, I think my writing has transitioned a bit as well. So, it seemed a good time to collect up my short stories to date (at that time) and bundle them together as a showcase of my work during “Phase I” of my writing career.
    Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
    Book 4 and 5 of the Afterlife Series are coming! Thank you for your patience! I moved 6 times in eighteen months between 2015 and 2016, then did a long-distance move to another state and changed jobs, and then recently bought a house and moved again. The last 5 years have been really busy personally (plus some health challenges) which put a crimp in time and ability to write. But so far, in 2020 (knock on wood), I’ve been really productive. It usually takes me one to two years to draft a novel; in the last couple of months I’ve written 42,000 words on a new Science Fiction novel, and 20,000 on the fifth Afterlife novel, and four new short stories. So, I’m definitely working on making up for lost time!

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
    Writing the “rest of the story” afterword to each story with a bit of behind-the-scenes info on where the story came from or various writing or publication challenges with each story. Those were fun. And, certainly, giving readers a chance to see some of my stories that had not yet been published—Ghosts of Acadia and Before the Evolution Comes the Smoke are, perhaps, my two favorite stories and neither has yet been published so I’m thrilled to be able to share them with fans.

    Additionally, from a personal standpoint, it was also really eye opening to see my body of work laid out side-by-side and realize I could see themes, I could see a distinct writing style, I could see common elements that identified them as a cohesive collection of work by the same author. Prior to that moment, I always worried that I didn’t have a distinct style/narrative voice. I write in multiple genres. Much of my work is cross-genre. My work covers a variety of themes and types of characters (men, women, young, old, etc.). It felt a bit “all over the place.” I worried I didn’t have a clear “brand” or “identity” as an author. When I sat down and read the proof of SOULS straight through so that I read story after story after story with no break, I got to the last page and said, “OH! That’s who I am as a writer!” It was a really good feeling and an “ah ha” moment in my career. So, personally, I feel that SOULS was an important moment of awakening for me and also a necessary step in my career. Armed now with that clearer insight to who I am as a writer has prepared me to move into the next phase of my career.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?
    I have a contemporary fantasy/paranormal series (the Afterlife series) that features a woman who dies and has to navigate the afterlife with the help of a fourteen-year-old boy who can see ghosts. Three books have been released so far of a planned five books. The fourth book will release next year and I’m currently working on the fifth book. Additionally, I’m working on a Science Fiction “space western” that’s kind of Firefly crossed with Dark Matter and The Expanse. And, of course, I’m still producing short stories that are appearing in various magazines and anthologies.

    How long have you been writing?
    I’ve always written, since I was a kid, but I became serious about being a professional writer around 2000. But it took eleven years for me to complete a publishable novel and to sell that novel to a publisher (I completed two novels during that eleven years but the first one has never been published. Hereafter, my first Afterlife novel, was my first novel to be published; it came out in 2012).

    Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in SOULS?
    You know, it’s interesting… while I write character-driven stories, I’m not entirely sure there’s a lot of common elements between the characters in the various short stories in SOULS. Or, at least, I didn’t think so when I started writing my answer to this question. A young woman searching for love and acceptance, a young woman who is forced to fight for the people she cares about, a man who dies and gets stuck in a computer, a middle aged knight from the crusades, a government website, a sentient computer program/AI… all very different. But then I realized that there is a common element to all of them: they are all dissatisfied with life. They feel stuck or like there’s something not quite right with the world. In all my stories, there’s something lurking just out of sight or below the surface that, if the character lets themselves focus on it, causes them to realize that nothing is as it seems. And I think maybe that’s reflective of how I feel in real life—that there’s a little bit more to the world but that “bit more” might not be so pleasant. Some of that strangeness comes from the unexplained/the supernatural - I’ve lived in a haunted house, I’ve experienced unexplained phenomenon, my grandmother had experiences with omens and warnings from beyond, etc. – and some of it comes from often feeling like an outsider (I’m shy and an introvert so I often feel alone even in a crowd).

    If you could spend the day with one of the characters from SOULS who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.I think, hands down, I would want to spend it with the “witches” (AIs) from 
    “Before the Evolution Comes the Smoke.” They are so ornery, pedantic, and literal, they make me laugh. Their dialog was incredibly fun to write. I cracked myself up writing it. Funnily enough, I actually have mapped out the names of all thirteen “witches” and their various personalities. I keep meaning to revisit the world of that story and turn it into a novel. I keep thinking of maybe a story featuring Magda ten years in the future. Or maybe a series of linked short stories or novellas featuring each of the thirteen witches.

About the Author

TERRI BRUCE is the author of the paranormal / contemporary fantasy Afterlife series, and her short stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies and magazines. She produces hard-to-classify fantasy and science fiction stories that explore the supernatural side of everyday things from beautiful Downeast Maine where she lives with her husband and various cats.

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marisela zuniga said...

very cool cover, this sounds interesting

Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting!