Author Interview: Eileen Schuh

I asked Eileen how she might describe herself as a writer. Her response was: I am a writer of powerful psychological thrillers, luring readers into the action and then compelling them to ponder. Please welcome science fiction author Eileen Schuh to No Wasted Ink.

Author Eileen SchuhI was born Eileen Fairbrother in the small prairie town of Tofield, Alberta Canada. I now live in the County of St. Paul in Alberta’s northern boreal forests and write under my married name, Eileen Schuh.

At the age when most are planning their retirement, I launched my writing career with my debut novel, THE TRAZ, the first in my young adult BackTracker series. Flicking through the pages of a book with my name on the cover as the author, was the fulfillment of a life-long dream. With half a century of stories pent up inside me, THE TRAZ was quickly followed by my first adult Sci-Fi and just 4 short years later, I have 6 published books to my credit.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wanted to write novels since I learned to read, which was before I started school. I was raised on a small dirt farm with no conveniences and little entertainment. Reading opened the world to me; I was mesmerized by the magic of the written word and by the power stories had over me. I wanted to wield that power.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve been a writer since the age of four. I have letters I wrote to my mom when I was in Grade I. I was very homesick when I was sent off to school (which was about a two-hour bus ride each day, one way). Mom told me when I got homesick to write her a letter. She kept some of them. Throughout my school years, I excelled at reading and writing and won many competitions. When I was in Grade 8, one of my short stories was published in the Wee Wisdom Magazine for Children.

I eventually got my Journalism Diploma and off-and-on throughout my child-rearing years, I plied my trade as a journalist, editor and feature writer. I also dabbled a bit in creative writing. However, with little uninterrupted time to hone my skills, I was never able to bring those early stories to fruition.

Eventually, with my children all successfully reared and on their own and the family business financially secure, I got to pursue the dream of being a novelist,

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest release is my second adult Sci-Fi, a little near-future romance, entitled DISPASSIONATE LIES.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m really worried about the inherent insecurities in the World Wide Web. We seem too dependent on a technology few understand. The internet is a more powerful tool than the atomic bomb, yet we don’t know who is controlling it. I let my imagination run wild as to what might happen in the near future if the web were to collapse, hoping society might take note and do something to strengthen internet security.

I realized that the shortfalls of cyberspace might be a dry topic to most readers so I decided I ought to spice my story up a bit. I had been told sex sells, so my original intention was to make my novel a bit steamy. However, my muses (as they often do) played a trick on me and my young heroine turned out to be a member of what the media in the year 2035 dubbed the ‘eunuch generation’—a generation of females born infertile and without libido.

Of course, the forbidden relationship is always the most alluring and I found a way to get around my muses.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My novels, whether gritty contemporary novels for teens (like my BackTracker Series) or science fiction for adults, are marketed as psychological thrillers. It is my firm belief that the most exciting and interesting things in life occur in people’s minds and hearts. I try to write my novels with a lesson for those readers who want one, and pure adventure and thrills for those seeking entertainment.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I actually crowd-sourced the title on my facebook author page. Without telling my fans anything about the book, I asked which of four titles (all related to the novel) would make them most likely to pick up a book and read the back cover copy. DISPASSIONATE LIES got the most votes. Dispassion of course refers my heroine’s asexuality and lies…well, you’ll have to read the novel.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I really want people to not only consider the pitfalls of cyberspace, but also the environmental and biological risks inherent in our pharmacology industry. Perhaps the biggest message, though is: We ought to be more worried about who’s developing the quantum computer than who has weapons of mass destruction; quantum computing is where power of unprecedented strength will lie in the near future.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Very much so. I have an entire section at the back of the novel with links to news and science headlines supporting the premises explored in my story. DISPASSIONATE LIES is eerily realistic. Take note.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Jay Williams’ Danny Dunn series of children’s Sci-Fi got me hooked on that genre back in middle grade. Williams took science out of the boring textbooks and classrooms and made it fun and relevant. He made the possibilities for the future intriguing. His stories stayed with me and now I want to make today’s science fun and exciting for adults.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I give much credit of my success to best-selling Canadian author, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, who has helped me immensely for many years, with everything from establishing my website to participating in the social networks, to believing in my work. When the time was right she also, through her company Imajin Books, became one of my publishers. My other publisher, Carol Hightshoe from WolfSinger Publications, is also an author and gave my science fiction dreams their voice.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Lee Barlow Kuruganti is the cover artist for DISPASSIONATE LIES. Sci-Fi covers are notorious distinct with their digital other-world auras. Although the sexy lady on the cover surprised me utterly, I quickly came to accept that Kuruganti had done an excellent job. She incorporated many of my suggestions such as the sodium streetlamp lighting and the code markings. As is somewhat standard in the industry for traditionally published novels, my publisher chose the cover artist but did ask me for input on the design.

Lee Kuruganti’s claim to fame is that she won the competition to design the 2008 Hugo Award statue base. I feel quite honoured to have had her design the cover of my novel.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I frequently lament the decades of writing I lost to raising kids and undertaking other major life adventures but I understand now why that was exactly the right path to follow. I urge all those for whom writing is an obsessive passion to ensure that they sacrifice their keyboards to live fully and abundantly and to not be unhappy doing so. As intriguing as the imaginary world of words is, reality is infinitesimally more rewarding and important. LIVE IT!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Please, please leave me a review. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just saying if you liked it or not and why. Not only do I thrive on feedback but research shows reviews, good, bad, or indifferent, attract readers and I want everyone in the world to read DISPASSIONATE LIES.

Dispassionate Lies Book CoverEileen Schuh
St. Paul, Alberta, Canada



Cover Artist: Lee Barlow Kuruganti
Publisher: WolfSinger Publications


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThis week on No Wasted Ink there are articles on writing techniques, marketing and how to handle that 800 pound gorilla, Amazon. I hope you enjoy them!

A bit on Literary Techniques

Describing Setting: An Exercise

Why can’t you be a writer?

How to Handle Rejection like an Actor

Why Amazon Reviews Just Aren’t Enough

25 Must-Read Tips on Plotting from Top Authors and Editors

The Prequel as Bait: How to Hook More Readers

How to Quickly Create an EPUB File From Word (And Then Edit It)

Mordor, We Wrote

BookTrack: Why Soundtracks For Books Are Great For Readers And Authors

Wendy Van Camp featured on CHANGES Vlog Series

Changes Vlog

On January 7, 2015, I was interviewed by Sally Ember, Ed.D. on her YouTube video series entitled CHANGES. This is an hour long freeform conversation between authors and the host that range on a variety of subjects. Our conversation was about science fiction books, literary conventions, steampunk as a genre and a little about myself as an artisan jeweler and author.

I hope you will join me on CHANGES and enjoy the program.

Book Review: Dreamsnake

Book Name: Dreamsnake
Author: Vonda N. McIntyre
First Published: 1978
Awards: Hugo, Nebula, Locus

Vonda N. McIntyre was born in 1948 in Louisville, Kentucky. She moved around a great deal during her childhood finally settling in Seattle, Washington with her family. She earned a bachelor of science in biology at the University of Washington and graduated with honors. Before going on to graduate school, she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop in Clarion, Pennsylvania in 1970. This is a professional science fiction writer’s school. She went on to study genetics in graduate school and made the self discovery that a research scientist makes a wonderful background for a science fiction writer. She is a woman of many talents from riding horses in hunting, jumping, and three-phase events, earning a black-belt in Aikido, designing websites, partaking in public access television, crochet, and other handcrafts based on mathematical principals.

Ms. McIntyre became an ongoing instructor of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop, now in its new locations on the West Coast, and has been a workshop writing instructor at various colleges and conventions. She belongs to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and several feminist organizations.

McIntyre has been writing since her early 20s. Her first novel, The Exile Waiting being published by Fawcett Gold Medal in 1975. It was followed by her Nebula award winning novel Dreamsnake, based off her Analog short entitled Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand. At that point, the author turned to writing Star Trek novels for Paramount and landed the job of writing the novelizations of their hit movies: Star Trek II, III, and IV. She also wrote a fanfiction novel for Paramount entitled The Entropy Effect that was extremely popular with Star Trek fans.

“It’s a haunting, rich, and tender novel that explores the human side of science fiction in a manner that’s all too uncommon. The world it creates is vivid and fascinating, and Snake is a marvelously well realized character.” —Roger Zelazny

Dreamsnake follows the journey of a young female healer in a post dystopic world that has been reduced to the neolithic and yet has retained technology of a biologic nature. There is space flight and knowledge of other worlds, but access to this is curtailed.

Snake depends on three different types of serpents in order to be a successful healer, without one she is unable to perform her biological tech based medicine. Sand is the rattlesnake that has venom for vaccines and potions, Mist is a cobra with stronger venomous properties as Sand, and finally there’s Grass whose venom is used as a pain reliever and acts as a hallucinogenic drug similar to LSD. What makes Grass unique is that he’s a snake from another world without the ability to breed (as far as we know) and therefore his kind are very rare on Earth.

After having saved a young boy named Stavin from a village of people who fear snakes and therefore murder her precious dreamsnake, Snake is called upon to heal another patient is injured after a fall from her horse. Snake is hesitant to attempt to heal Jesse due to her lack of a dreamsnake, but her duty as a healer overrides her concerns. Jesse is grateful to Snake bids her to go to a place known as Central City where the otherworlders touch down. There she might find a replacement for Grass. Snake, Jesse and a companion set off for the city together.

Not long after the start of their journey, Jesse begins to sicken. The place that she fell off her horse was a radioactive crater and she has developed radiation poisoning. Snake is unable to cure her of this ailment. Before Jesses dies, she bequethes her horse Swift to Snake in the hope that the horse will be recognized by her people and Snake will be allowed access into the city despite Jesse’s absence.

Snake sets off to a place called the Oasis where she learns that her belongings have been destroyed and her precious journal has been stolen. This is where we are introduced to Arevin, the young desert dweller that has fallen in love with the young healer. Snake continues her travels and enters another town where she heals the governor and invites the governor’s son to her bed. This is where we learn about some of the strange sexual trainings and odd tribal practices – the governor’s son failed in a thing called biocontrol (a biological method of birth control that is based on training instead of drugs) and because of this the boy walks around covered in a cloak to hide his shame. Snake helps him to overcome his failing.

Snake then meets a child that has been abused and burned. Snake later adopts this little girl named Melissa. The crazy person that stole her journal, we never know the sex of the character as it is transgender, attacks and injures Snake leaving her to require several days of healing before she can travel to Central City.

Once she reaches the city, Snake is turned away from completing her quest and does not gain access to another dreamsnake. In the end, this doesn’t matter to Snake, who is disappointed by the result, but who realizes that she is self-sufficient as a healer and can continue to heal people without the third snake after all. She has traveled far and learned a great deal of new things. Things happen for a reason and those occurrences shape us into who we are. Dreamsnake comes full circle and the things that were once thought to be obstacles become opportunities.

There is some controversy about this classic science fiction novel. It is one of the first to explore transgender and to feature a woman protagonist that is female of outlook instead of a poorly disguised male character. At the time, the male dominated science fiction realm was scandalized by this. There are relationships in this book, but the sex is freely given and somewhat graphic in places. While the story is structured like a classic quest, the outcomes are subtle and are gained via understanding and teaching instead of via violence. As a teenage girl reading the book when it debuted, I admit that it rather blew my mind. At that age I could not put my finger on why the novel had such an impact on me both as a reader and as a writer, but now I see the threads of feminism and new ways for societies to live that were quite intriguing. The biological tech is very interesting and something that may become a reality via our genetic engineers in the not too distant future. McIntyre’s background as a biologist clearly shows in her writing.

Dreamsnake Book CoverDreamsnake is not in print, but you can purchase an ebook copy directly from the author. While the story is a little dated, it is a novel worth reading if you wish to learn more about classic science fiction.

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays on Writing * Writer's Links

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