Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your debut novel, Barbary Station, through Saga Press! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
R.E. Stearns: Thank you! Barbary Station is about two recent college grads who hijack a colony ship to try to join a pirate crew on a space station. When they get to the station, they end up trapped, along with the pirates, by the station's overzealous security AI. If they figure out how to free the crew, then they'll get to join it.
I've always wanted a space pirate and AI story with characters I can identify with, in a story with modern sensibilities. The ones I'd already read never satisfied me in that regard, so I wrote my own.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in writing the book, and what have been some of your creative influences?
RES: First, I spent months outlining and researching. This was a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) novel, so I wrote the first draft in about thirty days and spent many more months revising.
Significant creative influence for Barbary Station were the Expanse novels by James S. A. Corey, Neuromancer by William Gibson, and the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper novels by Nathan Lowell.
BD: What has been your experience in preparing for the release of Barbary Station, as well as to the incredible critical response to the book?
RES: Saga Press is a wonderful publisher, and my editor had all kinds of ideas for how to introduce Barbary Station to everyone. I just focused on final edits in preparation for release! This month, I've been virtually surrounded by amazing, competent women in sci-fi publishing. Everyone's been unfailingly patient with the new author ridiculousness I'm sure I'm perpetrating. And I'm happy that the story entertained some critics. It's always interesting to receive feedback on what's working in a novel and what isn't!
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
RES: The whole Barbary Station universe was telling Adda and Iridian, "Be exploited, be separated, go with the flow like everyone else." They refused, thereby kicking off the events in the story. It would be nice if Barbary Station reminded readers to think before doing what they're told. Silently tolerating what everybody else tolerates doesn't make the tolerated thing ethical, moral, compassionate, right, or even logical. When people say something's impossible, they sometimes mean "I don't know how to do it myself." So, think!
BD: What makes Saga Press the perfect home for Barbary Station?
RES: Saga Press groks speculative fiction publishing, and they have the connections and infrastructure to keep the process running smoothly. My editor, Navah Wolfe, is fantastic, as the internet knows, and I never have to worry about her trying to make me change my protagonists into people they're not. And have you seen the book design? I'm biased, but I think it's the coolest-looking book on my virtual and physical shelves.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
RES: The sequel to Barbary Station was just announced! Mutiny at Vesta is coming out in Fall 2018.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Barbary Station?
RES: I've got a summary and an excerpt on my website, but if your local library has a copy, check it out there for free.
*Photography by Carlos Romero