One exciting part of being involved with a great author group like the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network is being able to get to know other authors in my genre. Today I have the privilege of interviewing one of those brilliant authors, one who happens to be an award winning writer.
A.R. Silverberry talks about his lack of boy scouting ability, the need to create and of course, his exciting new adventure, The Stream.
Your book The Stream sounds so intriguing and such an original concept, what inspired you to come up with it?
The idea came from a conversation I was having where I was using the metaphor of a stream. Afterward, I kept thinking about that metaphor. In a few hours, the character of a small boy, alone, defenseless, trying to understand the ways of the world, popped into my mind. I saw images of him confronting the challenges we all face in life: love, loss, pain, losing your way. The next morning, I put aside the novel I was working on (it wasn’t working anyway), and started writing. It pretty much tumbled out of me and didn’t let go until it was done.
If The Stream were to be made into a movie, would you want a cameo? Who would you play?
Fun question! If you look at Alfred Hitchcock movies, he always puts himself in as a bystander in a crowd, or some anonymous person walking by. That would be the place for me. No aspirations here to get into acting, though both of my parents did it professionally. I loved watching them in plays from the front row. My father played Harry Brock in Born Yesterday, my mom played Billie Dawn. The both were fabulous actors, especially my mom, who ran 100% on pure talent and instinct and left people speechless. I think my dad knew that it was a little disconcerting for my young mind to see his parents so transformed, my sharp-witted mom into a ditzy doll, and my father into a gangster boss. So what did he do? He stuck his tongue out at me during the dress rehearsal. I’ll always love him for that!
How long did it take to write The Stream once you had the idea mapped out in your head?
Looking back on it, it’s a miracle I wrote it so quickly. I was going through a rough year looking for a house to buy. The market where I was looking was crazy. There were bidding wars with twenty or more people bidding on the same house and tossing out tens of thousands of dollars over asking. Some how, during all that, I wrote The Stream. Start to finish, it was about sixteen months before it went to edit.
Tell us about some of the learning you had to go through in order to make The Stream seem real and believable?
I never attended Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts. I never river rafted or took a wilderness course. That left me with a huge learning curve, understanding how my five-year-old hero, Wend, would survive in a primitive water world. What I did have was a sailing trip I took with a good friend and his dad during high school. Some of the imagery from that trip found it’s way into the story. He and I lost touch until a few years ago, but I reconnected with him at a reunion and gave him a call. He answered a lot of questions I had about boats, storms, and sailing.
Did you do any hands on research?
Henry James coined an interesting word: verisimilitude. It means the appearance of being true or real. That’s paramount in a novel. If something doesn’t have the ring of authenticity to it, readers are knocked out of the story, even if they aren’t aware of why. Since the setting, the stream, is a character in my story, I had to get it right. I visited two streams multiple times, sitting and absorbing with all my senses. I captured my impressions immediately in a notebook.
I actually wrote on how much research was involved in a post called The Secret Ingredient In Fantasy Novels.
What do you do for fun, when you are not writing award-winning novels?
Taking award-winning walks on the beach! Long before I started writing, I played piano. When I need serenity, that’s still the center I return to.
I hear you are a psychologist, working with children and teens, is there ever a time that your immense imagination comes in handy with those you are working with?
Psychotherapy is less about imagination and more about empathy; intuition; and sensitivity to process, listening with every part of yourself. Writers and psychologists do have this in common: the ability to step into someone elses shoes. For the author, that means not just the hero or heroine, but also the villain.
Ever had any interesting encounters with fans of your work?
After reading Wyndano’s Cloak, a number of girls wrote to me that I inspired them to write their own novels. Several parents told me their children came out of their shells and started showing their true colors after reading the book. Comments like that send me to the moon!
When did you know that you had to be a writer?
For me, it’s not that I have to be a writer per se, but that I have to create. Right now, writing just happens to be the best mode for me to express that side of myself.
What other authors to you look up to and feel inspired by?
Jane Austen, Dickens, Harper Lee, Tolkien, Hemmingway, Barbara Kingsolver, Dean Koontz, Stephen King.
What is the best part of writing?
Meeting readers at bookstores. Once, a girl of about nine was too shy to come up to my table, though her little brother did, and at last, he convinced her to stop by. We talked for a long time and I read her an excerpt. After paying for the book, she sat on the floor, carefully peeled off the stickers, and walked out of the store hugging the book to her. I’ll never forget her.
Synopsis of The Stream:
What if your world was six miles wide and endlessly long?
After a devastating storm kills his parents, five-year-old Wend awakens to the strange world of the Stream. He discovers he can only travel downstream, and dangers lurk at every turn: deadly rapids, ruthless pirates, a mysterious pavilion that lures him into intoxicating fantasies, and rumor of a giant waterfall at the edge of the world. Defenseless, alone, with only courage and his will to survive, Wend begins his quest to become a man. Will tragic loss trap him in a shadow world, or will he enter the Stream, with all its passion and peril?
Part coming-of-age tale, part adventure, part spiritual journey, The Stream is a fable about life, impermanence, and the gifts found in each moment.
Purchase The Stream:
Purchase Wyndano’s Cloak:
Limited first edition Hardback:
Signed and unsigned copies available only from the author
Follow A. R. Silverberry:
A. R. Silverberry writes fiction for adults and children. His novel, WYNDANO’S CLOAK, won multiple awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award gold medal for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. THE STREAM is his second novel.