I’m delighted to welcome B.L. Bates here today for an interview and to share a look at her her debut release, AsterIce.
Hi, Barb, congratulations on your debut and thanks for being my guest! What inspired AsterIce?
Barb: I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. Not many of the sci-fi books back then even thought of including romance. When I started writing, a friend recommended J. D. Robb, and so I read her work. (Yes, I know who she really is.) I was amazed by the fact that science fiction and romance could work together. So in some ways, this book is a thank you to J. D. Robb. And if you read the book you’ll see what I mean.
Babette: What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
Barb: I have two first drafts begging me to be next. Both are dark fantasy and I haven’t decided which one to work on. I do have a finished novel that I’ve submitted to a contest. I’ll have to see how it does.
Babette: What are your writing goals for this year?
Barb: To finish both first drafts and to work on another book which will include three novellas.
Babette: How do you come up with ideas?
Barb: I get ideas from everything I do, every place I go, and many people I talk to. I have a file on my computer where I put ideas for novels, shorts, and scenes, depending on information I’ve gathered.
Babette: Can you share with us “the call” story?
Barb: I sent in a pitch to Savvy Authors for a pitch session. There were multiple editors and agents there. I got a request for a full from Eternal Press. They liked the story and offered me a contract. I was a bit leary about going with a small press, but at the time, they were the only game in town. I took the offer.
Babette: What do you enjoy most about writing?
Barb: It lets me escape my “reality”. Being totally blind, I need a place where I can let the inner “me” out. I do this in my writing. While some of my characters are disabled, others are not. This allows me to let the world know that the disabled are people.
Babette: Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
Barb: I get an idea — maybe for a scene, or a story. I let it “gel” in my brain until I start “seeing” scenes. Then I decide whether the idea is good enough to be a complete novel or just a short.
If it’s going to be a short, I set aside a week or two and write it down. If it could be a novel, I set aside a couple of weeks and come up with an outline. Then I set aside at least a month and write the first draft. I’ve been doing Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) for several years now and can write the first draft in about a month. Then I let it sit and go back and do the second draft, usually it takes a couple of months. But, it’s taken me years to get to this point.
Babette: What is the best thing about being an author?
Barb: The freedom to work when it’s convenient. Being blind, I depend on others to help me with my errands. So, I have to mold my schedule around others. Writing allows me to do this. If I only have a few minutes, I’ll make notes to expand later. If I have more time, I’ll write a scene or two. Once a story “grabs me”, I think of it almost continuously until it’s finished.
Babette: What did you learn from writing your first book or what do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
Barb: Anyone who thinks it’s easy obviously hasn’t written a book. I hate ads on the Internet; write a book in a week, or whatever. I can write a first draft in a month (I’ve done enough Nanowrimo’s (National Novel Writing Month) to be able to say that. But at the end of the month, it’s NOT a finished novel. It’s the skeleton, the framework, that with work, will become a completed novel. It’s a lot of work. Sure, some of it is fun, but there’s a lot of work involved. You hone your craft. You take classes to improve your weak spots. You wake up in the middle of the night and make notes for a scene that isn’t going right. You know the fun stuff.
Babette: Do you have a favorite time of day for writing?
Barb: I like to write in the morning after exercising and eating, as I find my mind cultivates ideas at this time. But at the end of the day, I also find things I’ve thought of all day gel and I can write then too.
Babette: Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
Barb: Though this is my first published book, I’ve completed a couple more. There’s always a strong female protagonist. I put into her my good habits, and better characteristics, making her into what I’d like to be. She becomes the “light at the end of the tunnel”, and is always my favorite.
Babette: How do you balance writing and everyday life?
Barb: Being blind, it takes me longer to do the things you nons (stands for non-handicapped, this is said with love) do without thinking about. But my home has braille labels and marked appliances to make it easier for me.
And though technology has made great strides towards equalizing the Internet and other computer applications, there are still things I cannot do. This annoys me. I hate asking others to aid me with things I “should” be able to do, if the technology were available.
But to answer the question. My youngest child is now in college, so I have more time to write than in the past. The things that take up my time that shouldn’t are blogging, as my screen reader doesn’t interface all that well with any blogging platform, trying to find reference materials in accessible format, and getting someone to take me to do things I can’t do myself — like driving around to do errands.
And though I’m disabled, I don’t receive any help doing my chores, shopping, or picking up necessary items. Budgets have been cut all over, that’s life.
Babette: What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
Barb: I love to cook. I’m willing to try (at least once) any recipe that catches my fancy, and many do. With my husband being recently diagnosed diabetic, I cook with little sugar, no salt, and little fat. So I’ve been collecting recipes and minimizing these items. Many of my new recipes have Indian (the country not Native American) influence. Their usage of many spices has delighted my palate and I intend to continue to add more similar recipes to my collection.
So I don’t have a favorite food as I have a favorite way of cooking. What I cook has to be: nutritional, tasty, spicy, and easy to make. I still do use traditional recipes, but modify them to fit my needs.
Babette: What do you like to read?
Barb: I like to read most genres of fiction (excluding war, military, and westerns) and non-fiction. I try to read at least one non-fiction book for every 4 – 5 fiction books. One of my crit partners writes YA, so I read some of that also. After all, how can I edit a genre I don’t read?
Babette: Do you listen to music while you write? What are you listening to now?
Barb: I can’t do this. My computer “reads” what’s on the screen to me. Music would be distracting. But, I appreciate the scents of incense or scented candles while I write.
Babette: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
Barb: My parents were avid readers. As I grew up lower middle class (working class), reading was something I could do that didn’t cost much money. The library was down the street, and I was a constant visitor. I grew up in New Bedford (think Moby Dick) and there were several “second hand” bookstores downtown. As I started reading at an early age, my parents thought it best for me to stay with the science fiction and fantasy books. At the time, sex was in few of these books. So my formative years were spent reading science fiction pulp magazines and paperback books of the same ilk.
Babette: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
Barb: I received a BS in electrical engineering in the late 70’s. After working in the semi-conductor industry for several years, a head injury left me totally blind. I did volunteer work for several years, and then had two children.
When adaptive software became available, I got my first computer from a local agency SHARE (Society for Human advancement through Rehabilitation Engineering) and started to write to vent my frustrations. I wrote for several years with no thought of publication. When my children entered high school, I began to take Internet courses and thought of publication.
AsterIce is my first novel published, and hopefully, it will be the first of many.
These are few of my favorite things:
1. Curling up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea.
2. Spending time with family and friends.
3. Movement. Writing is a sedentary life. I need to exercise and move around a lot during the day.
Drinking this ice from Heaven could open the gates to Hell.
Ice from an asteroid brought in from the belt contains vitamins and minerals invigorating the human metabolism and bringing improved health. It becomes the newest nutritional fad, selling world-wide.
The ice also contains an alien virus capable of altering human DNA, causing humans to lose their individuality, their will, and perhaps even their souls.
Can four infected individuals find a way to stop the process before humanity is lost?
“It’s worse than that.” Tanya rubbed her temples. The mother of all headaches waited in the wings, ready to pounce.
“How so?” Colonel Frade said.
“A computer simulation indicates AsterIce has spread to every known water source on the planet through drainage, evaporation and condensation. Using some process we don’t yet understand, the additions to AsterIce multiply when added to normal water, even sea water.”
“All of Earth’s waters are now…polluted by the virus?” Richard stared at Tanya.
She met his eyes, closed hers, and nodded.
“What percentage of the population will be affected by it?” Virginia asked.
Tina, seeing her mother’s agitation, brought her a glass of water.
“One hundred percent.” Tanya gulped the water Tina handed her.
“All this scientific jargon has me muddled. In English, please. What does this all mean?” Colonel Frade asked.
“In addition to the vitamins and minerals in AsterIce, there is what we originally thought to be inert organic matter. It turns out we were wrong.”
“How so?” Watts asked.
“The inert matter is actually a shell containing an alien virus.
“Tests show the AsterIce virus is originally passed to its subjects through the digestive system. The virus is then released in the stomach, where the outer shell is removed by our digestive acids. The virus spreads into every cell in the human body. This leads to a build-up in the lungs.”
“So, now the virus can become airborne.” Richard’s visage looked grim.
“Not quite. By the time symptoms begin to occur, the lungs are filled to capacity with the virus. The question is not when will it begin, but how long has it been going on? Also, how many of us are infected?”
Growing up reading speculative fiction, B. L. Bates received a BS in electrical engineering and worked for several years in the computer industry. When a head injury left her totally blind, she turned to writing speculative fiction to stay sane. With her youngest child in college, she lives with her husband in Massachusetts and plots ways to spend more time with her grandchildren.
She’s had short stories published online, and some like “GreenWorld” published in print. Now trying her hand at novels, she can be found online at BarbaraLBates.com or BarbaraLBates.com/polad.
Barbara can be found at:
BarbaraLBates.com/polad (more writing orientated)
AsterIce is available at:
EBook ISBN: 9781615728503
Print ISBN: 9781615728510
Eternal Press: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615728503