Today on my blog we begin a series of interviews featuring the authors from the charity anthology, Catstruck! The anthology was originally conceived by Stephanie Barr before she handed over the reins to me. Her story, “The Emperor’s Companion” featured in the book is a science fiction tale of Gyn Ryker a seasoned bodyguard sent to protect a very special monarch of the feline persuasion. You can read an excerpt from Stephanie’s tale later in the post, and don’t forget to enter our Catstruck! Rafflecopter which includes to generous donated prizes from Stephanie. But first the interview:
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Stephanie
I’m a rocket scientist by day, crazy writer by night, single mother of three (the eldest is grown and independent) all the time, and I have a BUNCH of cats. I love solving problems, snarky humor, cats and dragons, and telling stories.
2. When did you first start writing?
In junior high (7th grade) I started with poetry that I’d write, enjoy, then toss. My father, when I showed him a poem I thought he’d like, made me promise never to throw anything away again. I wrote mostly poetry and a few short stories in high school, moved to mostly short stories in college and then stories and novels as an adult.
3. Who are your favorite authors?
I have dozens and, at any given time, I’ll give you a different list. Heinlein, Georgette Heyer, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Poe, Herbert, Robert Ludlum, James Clavell, Sake, Alexander Dumas are all on there along with Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Stephen King, and James Herriot. My tastes are eclectic. Have I left off tons of them? I have.
4. What inspires you to write?
Anything? Everything? I love playing “what if?” and imagining how I’d feel in a particular situation.
5. Tell us a little bit about your story in Catstruck, “The Emperor’s Companion”.
I bought a book cover (the one above) and wrote a story to match. I wanted to play with a feline emperor and decided it would pair well with a bodyguard who thought protecting a feline emperor was stupid. Then I changed his mind. I had a lot of fun and it’s a fun story. Especially if you’re a cat lover and can appreciate how cats can worm themselves into one’s heart.
6. Do you plan to follow Gyn Ryker’s story in another tale in the future?
I don’t at this moment but I do like his character and have been known to write more for characters I like.
7. What are you currently working on?
I’m working on one of my collections of short stories (Inner Worlds) to come out before the end of the year and a novel centered around an albino dragon and her kitty companion (Anathema and Tidbit) which I’ll hopefully be able to publish next year.
8. Tell us about your own kitties? (Feel free to add pictures!)
I have four black boys (Smudge, Kismet, Soot and Shadow), three brown tabbies (Camo, Tigress, and Gogo), a gray super-soft kitty (Twilight) and a medium haired yellow/white cat (Ishtar).
Oh, they are all so pretty! DMK
9. Do you have a favorite literary cat?
I love any literary cat but probably have the softest spot for my own. I have them in every book, after all.
10. How can readers connect with you?
FB page for fans: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CatsandDragons/
and my webpage: http://stephanieebarr.us
You can also find me on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B00N9W84YK
And Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/stephanieebarr
Want to read a snippet from Stephanie’s story? Of course you do!
So here’s a sample of The Emperor’s Companion from Catstruck!
“You’re kidding me, right?”
The woman behind the desk was not known for her sense of humor and she showed no sign of it now. “Don’t be ridiculous. I would never joke about this job. Emperor Tiddles is the latest in a long line of feline rulers of the planet Darby. Given the gravity of the forthcoming conference and that we are hosting it—and therefore responsible for the planetary leaders that will attend—we are assigning our own guards in addition to their own retinues. And you’ve been assigned to Emperor Tiddles.”
“He’s a cat,” Gin Ryker said, through his teeth. “Am I being punished for something?”
Captain Grenter rolled her eyes. She had about twenty years on Ryker, her light blonde hair cut close to her scalp. She had a brutal scar across her face and had once, he’d heard, nearly been blown to bits by an incendiary device. He knew some of her limbs were prosthetics, but he wasn’t sure which ones. More importantly, she’d never lost a client and that was why she was in charge. “Have you ever had a cat, Lieutenant?”
“Pets are pointless.”
“Well, then you have no idea how hard keeping control of a feline is. You’re my best and that’s why you’re being assigned here. Cats don’t follow directions or do as you expect them to do. Nor do they seem to have the least sense of self-preservation. And they are escape artists, getting into places you thought were impenetrable.”
“They’re cats,” he said. “You speak like they’re sentient beings, not dumb animals.”
Captain Grenter sat up at that and glared at Ryker. Only one of her eyes could focus on him, but somehow it made the glare more powerful. “I strongly advise you not to confuse Emperor Tiddles with any preconceptions you have about pets. He will be crafty and challenging and you’ll underestimate his intelligence at your own risk—and his. And, even if he were dumb as a stick, your diligence would still be critical.”
Ryker didn’t test the glare. He stood silently, waiting for the rest.
“I’m sending the dossier to you and specific instructions, protocols specific to Darby royalty, preferences and the like. This will be a challenging detail, not only because of the nature of the client, but because Darby, as you know, is one of the few planets that has a sizeable deposit of Cytocil.”
“Cytocil? Used in wormdrives?”
“Exactly. And, intelligence reports that there is a rival for the throne who is building a considerable backing faction, which puts Emperor Tiddles in a vulnerable position. If he’s assassinated, all hell will break loose. A significant civil war could disrupt exports and bring the universe to a halt. No one wants that, but what I especially don’t want is for it to be our fault. If this ends up chalked up to us, someone’s going to lose some skin and, believe me, it won’t just be me. Do not let that happen, Ryker. Are you understanding me?”
“Yes, ma’am. Keep the furball alive no matter what it takes.”
Captain Grenter sighed. “Don’t offend him either. Cats hold grudges like no one’s business.”
Ryker bit back his retort. “Right.”
Want to read more? Pick up a copy of Catstruck! today!
And don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter for a chance to win a whole host of awesome prizes including a hardback copy of Catstruck! and Pussycats Galore and Meow o Ween from Stephanie.