January 21, 2014

Chatting with A. R. Silverberry

Today we're delighted to welcome fantasy author A. R. Silverberry.

Electric Scroll: There are an estimated 535,389.7 unique ways to die. How do you hope to meet your maker?

A. R. Silverberry: Really? 535,389.7? Not point 3 or point 6? I’ll take the point seven, though. Then I’ll only die about two thirds of the way, effectively cheating death.
Can you imagine the kind of person who would come up with that number? Let’s call him Dr. Lester Dodleman. Poor soul must be quite morose, spending his days contemplating all the paths to the Grim Reaper. No matter where he goes or what he does, another way of dying occurs to him. Even if he fortifies his house, trying to make it safe, he realizes every attempt to do so holds the seeds of calamity. His sleep is sporadic; his dreams riddled with nightmares about slips, falls, crashes, and choking. He believes cardiac arrest would be a blessing compared with ingesting a live Africanized honey bee while dashing from his house to his car; he knows full well that, though the chances are infinitesimally small, the improbable happens. Just ask the post-asteroid dinosaurs as they gasped out their last breath.
And then, low and behold, salvation enters his life in the form of Danielle Delacroix, travel journalist, racecar driver, and skydiving aficionado. The rest of the novel, Lester strives to win her heart, knowing full well that to do so, he must leap from a plane flying at 12,000 feet.

ES: Tell me a little about yourself as a person.

ARS: By day, I’m a licensed psychologist. I work primarily with children and teens, but also with adults. Many people ask if being a psychologist helps me with my writing. Honestly, it doesn’t. When I’m with my clients, my focus is on helping them access their own creative resources for growth. When I’m writing, my focus is on accessing my own creativity! I started plying piano when I was ten. By the time I was in high school, I was playing in jazz and rock bands with some pretty darn good musicians. In college, I got my BA in music, with an emphasis on composing. After graduating, I wrote a choral cantata, Ode to Paul Robeson, based on a poem by Pablo Neruda. When I met my wife, she got me into painting watercolors. Here’s what got me into writing. She was taking a class from Elizabeth George, the Edgar-Award-winning author. My wife took me to a book signing to meet Elizabeth, who said to me, “Make sure she keeps writing.” Shortly after that, my wife decided writing wasn’t for her. I grabbed her notes from the class and haven’t looked back. Funny thing, when Wyndano’s Cloak came out twenty years later, I went to another Elizabeth George book signing and told her the whole story. She loved it, especially because she was going to another signing at a store I had just been to! Full circle.

ES: If you had unlimited money, what’s the first thing you would spend it on?

ARS: I’d use it to help people. I have everything I need, and most of the world doesn’t have the basics. I couldn’t spend it on myself knowing that someone is hungry or doesn’t have potable water in their village. Moving up Maslow’s hierarchy, since the money is unlimited, I’d spend it on education, art, and music programs in schools, worldwide.

ES: What genre do you write, and why?

ARS: Fantasy, fantasy, and fantasy, with a good dose of mystery and suspense. It’s not a conscious decision. Stories bubble up from the unconscious. They may reflect something about the writer, who’s around the writer, and what’s going on in the world at the time. I’m guessing I gravitate toward fantasy because I love being in worlds where anything can happen, and does; I love being in worlds where there are surprises, where things are different. I love magic and larger-than-life heroes and heroines.

ES: Tell me about your most recent published work, and why people should buy it.

ARS: Here’s a quote from Yalp, Aerdem’s Royal Mage. “Prepare for a bone-thrilling ride in a land of fantasy, enchantment, and adventure. Where betrayal vies with loyalty, friendship and courage. And hope lies with the unlikeliest heroes and heroines.” His whole proclamation, on the original scroll, is on my home page!

ES: If you threw a cocktail party and invited all of the characters in your books, who would be the least likely to come, and why? Who would you really hope to see at the party, and why?

ARS: I would hope to see Miss Drath, but as you’ll see, she isn’t too fond of me. Here’s a slice of the kind of diatribe she’s been spewing (taken from a character interview of her on WLC Author Spotlight):

Interviewer: We all want to be different, so what is the one thing you wish your creator had done differently with you?

Miss Drath: Everything. He slandered me. If there were a lawyer around here with brains between his ears, I’d sue Silverberry out of house and home, seize every copy of Wyndano’s Cloak, and burn them. Look at me! I keep my hair tidy, not tied so severely that your roots hurt to look at it. My nose is proud and strong, not like a bird of prey. My chin is not like a knife, and my eyes aren’t black slashes. Those are the least of the distortions by which he enchants the minds of innocent children. I ran a respectable business for years, keeping lost and wayward orphans off the streets. I gave them four squares and a roof over their pathetic little heads. It’s not my fault that the world threw them away. I was only doing my civic duty protecting them.

Silverberry: She’s a riot. I’m trying to track down the link for the whole character interview. If I find it, I’ll post it in the comments section below.

ES: What could you not survive without for three weeks?

ARS: The PC answer is books. The real answer is my wife, my cat, and my piano.

ES: Reading: Paper or Electrons? Why?

ARS: I never thought electrons would win me over, but I love that I can change the font size on my kindle. The biggest surprise was that my reading speed increased. (Research documents that!) I love that I can store so many books and reduce clutter. They don’t use up trees, which we desperately need right now. But physical books still have appeal. For one thing, you can’t do a pop up ebook. For another, bookmaking is an art. People still play harpsichords, albeit, not as much as synthesizers, but they’re still around. I went to a Shakespeare museum and the manager showed me a book from Shakespeare’s time. Electronics die, relegated to the recycle bin. Books won’t, as that encyclopedia from 1600 proved!

Here's a little bit of vital information about AR's novel, Wyndano's Cloak:

Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears—of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever.

She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen's family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning.

Wyndano's Cloak may be Jen's only hope. If she’s got what it takes to use it . . .

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About the Author:

A. R. Silverberry has won a dozen awards, including Gold Medal Winner in the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction; Gold Medal Winner in the 2010 Readers Favorite Awards for Preteen Fiction; and Silver Medal Winner 2011 in the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book, Children’s/Young Adult. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. Wyndano's Cloak is his first novel. Follow him at the links below!

A. R. Silverberry’s Website