SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH STEPHENS
Elizabeth Stephens is a writer that has seen it all. A former political correspondent and travel writer, she draws inspiration from many sources. Now she has turned her hand to writing fiction. While she has written several horror shorts, her latest is a full-length novel called, Population. Population is a post apocalyptic, zombie romance. Sounds intriguing!
I wondered how this talented author got her start what gave her the idea to create a book with such a unique blend of horror and romance.
1) What inspired you to write fiction?
Elizabeth Stephens: I wrote my first book at the age of eleven. My mother promised me that she would purchase me a look-alike American girl doll on the condition that, like the other American girl dolls who had stories about growing up in the Great Depression and in the Victorian Era, I craft a story to accompany this new doll. I then set to work drafting a ninety-six page science fiction saga on my massive old school computer. The book was about a young girl picked up by a ragtag group of bandits and transported to other worlds; it’s a book I still have. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of publishing several short works of horror in a number of online magazines and last year, I published my first fiction novel.
In 2015, I worked with Vantage Point Books, the adult fiction arm of NubiTales LLC, to produce Population. Population is a post-apocalyptic science fiction romance about a young woman of color struggling to keep herself and her family alive following the coming of the Others, a predatory race of aliens that hunger for human flesh and blood. When her younger sister is captured, she is forced into an alliance with one of the Others and must confront foreign concepts like trust and desire in order to save her family.
The sequel to Population will be released in May 2016 and is titled, Saltlands. Both works can be found anywhere online books are sold, as well as in book stores across the United States. More information, including excerpt downloads and where to purchase, can be found on my website www.booksbyelizabeth.com.
2) Will have to look out for Saltlands! I know your first fiction novels were horror. What attracted you to write about horror?
Elizabeth Stephens: I find writing about violence, more so than horror, to be a truly cathartic experience and as such, take genuine pleasure in crafting an epic action scene. When writing both horror and action, I love the adrenaline rush!
As a kid, I was inspired very early on by the Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun, as well as by Agatha Christie. My other all time favorite (horror) authors have come to include Shirley Jackson, Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Anne Rice. The Lottery, A Haunting of Hill House, Salem’s Lot, Pet Semetary, A Hellbound Heart, Abarat, Queen of the Damned, and Interview with the Vampire are on my list of absolute favorite reads.
3) I understand Population, includes monsters but also romance! Do you feel it could be classified as an Urban Fantasy?
Elizabeth Stephens: Though I have been writing for a long time, I am still quite new to the publishing scene! Thus, you’ll have to forgive my ignorance but I get lost in the distinctions between Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy, Dark Erotica, and others. If I were to most accurately attempt to classify Population’s genre, I would call it a post-apocalyptic, science fiction, violent, action adventure, fantasy romance. It’s romantic – but also messy.
4) Don’t you feel that horror and romance are a difficult mix? (They seem so different.) Can you tell why or why not?
Elizabeth Stephens: My two all time favorite genres are horror and romance. The intersection where these two genres lie is where I idle both as a reader and as a writer. I love romantic elements in books when they are in situations that are anything but romantic – when characters defy human nature and put the lives of others before their own. For this reason, I think the most romantic story I’ve ever come across is 28 Days Later, an apocalyptic, zombie movie set in London.
5) What makes your main character, Abel, so special? Do you base her off of anyone you know?
Elizabeth Stephens: Abel is who I would want to be if a host of blood-sucking aliens descended through the sky and took over the planet. She’s tough as hell and always ready to fight to the death for those she loves.
In addition, Abel is a character of color. As a kid with multiracial heritage, I always found it difficult to find characters in my favorite books that A) looked like me, and B) were non-white. I strive to include a diverse cast of characters in all of my books that is more representative of the world we see today than what we find on today’s best seller list and on the big screen.
6) I totally understand. I don't feel there is as much diversity in books as there can be. Your books seems to show a darker side of humanity. Has traveling all around - particularly in troubled areas inspired you to write a sci-fiction/apocalyptic world as a social commentary?
Elizabeth Stephens: Traveling has certainly had an impact on my writing, and in a number of ways: It has influenced the setting of many of my works, both existing and upcoming, and has also impacted the way I view conflict.
Living in the Middle East during the Arab Spring and the Syrian Revolution, I was never more aware of my sexuality and the way conflict impacted the lives of women. Throughout the course of my works, I attempt to highlight these issues while showing the positive power of women in overcoming them.
7) Yes, your heroine definitely demonstrates a strong woman. Where did the idea of Population 'pop' into your head? Will you write more post-apocalyptic books?
Elizabeth Stephens: I was very much so inspired by the young adult book Angelfall by Susan Ee. I loved the opening fight scene and set to craft a similar scene – who knew I would have kept writing and that in the end, would have produced, not one, but two books!
While I don’t limit myself to the post-apocalyptic genre, I love the world I’ve built in Population and in its sequel, Saltlands. I plan on producing additional books set in this world that are told outside of Abel’s perspective. Book three in the Population series, Generation 1, is already well underway and is told from the perspective of an unlikely survivor of Saltlands!
8) So more to look forward to! What other new works do you have on the horizon?
Elizabeth Stephens: Population was published by NubiTales LLC in May 2015. It’s sequel, Saltlands, will be released in May 2016 and will complete Abel’s story, which ended on a cliff hanger in book one! Additional books in the series, including Generation 1, will be released at a date TBD.
For more information on the series, including excerpt downloads and details on where to purchase, please see my website www.booksbyelizabeth.com.
Wow! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you. It has been a real pleasure learning about your books on our site! :)
Elizabeth Stephens: Thank you so much for having me! I certainly hope that your readers enjoy Abel’s world as much as I enjoyed crafting it.
Interviewed by Steph from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club
For additional information about Elizabeth Stephens you can check her out at:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.stephens34
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/elliestephens5
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25220487-population?ac=1
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Stephens/e/B010M3BUY4
Recent and upcoming books by Elizabeth Stephens
Saltlands -May 2016
Abel and Mikey are trapped and Kane is taken. Tensions between Mikey and Abel keep their odds of survival bleak as they fight to escape their submerged prison cell and find Kane. With over 200 miles to trek, Mikey will have to learn how to trust and Abel, how to hope again as their journey across the apocalyptic landscape known as Population takes them through even more dangerous territory and into the Saltlands.
Saltlands is the second book in the Population series and will be released in May 2016. This is a science fiction romance with elements of fantasy and horror.
Population -May 2015
The day the sky ripped open and the Others descended on Earth marked the beginning of the World After. Twelve years later and violence is Abel’s native tongue in a world run by monsters, ravaged by gangs, and fueled by the desperation of hunger. The list of rules she lives by keeps her among the few humans left living, but when her best friend’s daughter is taken by one of the Others, Abel discovers that to get her back she’ll have to break them all.
Rule number five: run. But she doesn’t even though blood bastes the scene and one of the Others is still breathing. In a jolt of irrational inquiry, Abel takes something so precious from one of the Others as he clings to life.
Rule number three: don’t get personal. When he hunts her down to retrieve what she has taken, violence brings them together in an unlikely alliance and Abel realizes that in order to save the last of her family, she’ll have to learn to trust.
Rule number one: never hope. Unused to foreign concepts like passion and unity and desire, Abel is wary when the Other drags her into his world and offers her something she didn’t think existed in the World After: hope.