Beverly and Tamara: Welcome to SSLY. Thanks so much for joining us today Barbara. So first why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.
Barbara: I’m a mother, step-mother, and grandmother. In the late 70s I received a BS in electrical engineering and worked for a while in the semi-conductor industry. In the mid 80’s I received a head injury which left me totally blind. Since then I’ve had two children, worked at some part-time jobs, and done a lot of reading and writing. At first, I wrote to vent. (You try bringing up two active children without using your eyes and tell me you don’t need to vent… often.) I sold some short stories in the past five years, then last year Eternal Press told me they were interested in publishing my novel AsterIce.
Tamara: What do you HAVE to have when you are writing?
Barbara: A computer, since I can’t read print, a computer is a must. My computer talks to me — through a screen reader called Jaws. And headphones; they allow me to keep the annoying stuff out. You know, like when the smoke alarm goes off and you’re in the middle of an action scene. And something tall and cool to drink. Usually flavored water, or iced tea.
Beverly: When did you start to write?
Barbara: I’ve always written. All through school, I loved to write stories. In college, it changed to mostly technical papers and reports, but I continued to read fiction.
Tamara: What do you think are the qualities that make up a “hero”?
Barbara: There are several that come to mind. First, the ability to see the good in people. Second, the follow through to see the result of your or other’s actions. Third, being able to pick the best option from what’s available.
Beverly: Can you describe your favorite character? And which of your books is he/she in? How do you come up with your characters?
Barbara: Since I was 27 when I went blind, I relate to characters with some sort of disability. Since that includes most of my characters, I have to choose Marlene Gardner, the female protagonist in a finished, but unpublished book called ‘Interwoven Deceptions’. This was the first novel I finished after deciding to try to get published and I put a lot of myself into her.
Tamara: What are the hardest scenes for you to write? Suspense? Sex? Dialogue? And why?
Barbara: I still have trouble with the sex scenes. For me sex is very private. But, I’m getting over it, a bit.
Beverly: What writer, if any, influenced how you write?
Barbara: I don’t think it was a single writer. My parents read a lot and we had lots of paperback books around the house when I was growing up. But all I was allowed to read were the science fiction and fantasy ones. So I read anything I could find in those genres. It was one of the reasons I ended up taking engineering in college. So, the classic sci-fi writers: Bradbury, Asimov, Clark, and fantasy writers like Tolkien.
Tamara: Who would you choose as your “book boyfriend”? From what book? Author?
Barbara: Ranger, from Janet’s Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum series.
Beverly: What is the kinkiest thing you’ve ever done? Or would like to? What? We are all about the love!
Barbara: Bringing a tent with us on hikes and setting it up and doing “things” inside.
Tamara: What are your favorite types of heroines? Do you like the damsel in distress who needs saving or the kick-ass variety? Why?
Barbara: The kick-ass kind. I grew up working on cars, fixing appliances, and doing things traditionally considered ‘male’. Then I went to college and got a degree in electrical engineering. I like heroines who know what they can do and aren’t afraid to do it.
Beverly: What was your worst date ever?
While I was in college, I went out on a date with someone I met in one of my non-engineering classes. We had a picnic (it went okay), at the Quabbin Reservoir. It was made by flooding three or four towns in a valley and there are several roads that run into the reservoir. We went for a walk down to the water. My “date” grabbed and put me between him and the water. He’d seen a snake and said he was afraid of snakes. It was our first and last date.
Tamara: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to have with you? (You have food, water, shelter, all the necessities, so nothing mundane)
Barbara: 1. Solar Rechargeable batteries and the recharger. 2. My digital recorder. 3. Taped books and some blank tapes. That way I can read and write (or record anyway).
Beverly: What is your “guilty pleasure”?
Barbara: Chocolate. (Or dribbling chocolate syrup on my husband’s naked body and licking it off.)
Beverly: I bet it’s his pleasure then too!
Tamara: What dream or goal have you yet to realize?
Barbara: To see one of my books made into a movie.
Beverly: What was your most embarrassing moment?
Barbara: Shortly after I went blind, I was at a function sitting in a small group. The woman sitting next to me asked a question. I answered her. She put her hand on my arm, and said, “That’t nice, hon. But I was asking the woman next to you.” (It can be a bitch being blind.)
Tamara: If you were a color what would you be and why?
Barbara: Blue. It’s the color of the sky and water. The color of healing and peace.
Beverly: Who has influenced how you perceive love? Why?
Barbara: First, my father. He stuck by my mother when she developed rheumatoid arthritis. She went through many treatments, many of which didn’t do a thing, and saw enough doctors to staff a hospital. Then my husband. When we married, I had normal vision. He stood by me through my rehab after my head injury and we’ve been married over thirty years.
Tamara and Beverly: Okay. We are SSLY so I have to ask. Who loves you?
Barbara: My husband and family, I hope. And I have some very dear friends.
Now for some quick fun questions:
Boxers or briefs? Bikinis
Coffee or Tea? One coffee in the morning, then tea for the rest of the day.
Tall, dark and handsome or Blond and buff? Tall, dark and handsome.
Hairy chest or smooth? Hairy, but not a gorilla.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate.
Kinky or Sweet? A bit kinky.
Fast or slow? Definitely slow.
Public or private? Private.
Top or bottom? Either way will do.
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.