Author S.A. Gibson has five books and several short stories set in a future where modern technology has been lost. All his stories are suitable for a wide range of ages, from 5th grade on up. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.
Growing up in Southern California, I have held many jobs over the years, computer tech, administrative support, community organizing, and book writing. After years of work, I returned to school to study for a Ph.D. in education. For the last several years, I have been publishing academic articles, books, and book chapters. I am looking a what qualities make individual good teachers, under difficult conditions and low pay. I now live with my spouse and a small dog, working on school work and fiction stories.
When and why did you begin writing?
From childhood to the present, I have been reading huge numbers of science fiction stories and books. Finally, by the 2010s I was finding it difficult to find more of the books that I wanted to read. I sometimes would read more than 2 books a week. I wasn’t able to find as many of the stories that would keep me up all night, that I desired. So I decided to write a story I would want to read. My first fiction book was A Dangerous Way, 2014, about a library swordsman who wanders the land restoring peace to a fractured society after the collapse. It was a way for me to get another story I wanted to read.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For the last few years, I’ve become a super fan of books I enjoyed. On Goodreads and Amazon, I followed authors and envied those published authors. Hearing that it was possible to self-produce an ebook appealed to my desire to join the exalted rank, in my mind, of published authors. When seeing my name on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and Goodreads, I first considered myself an author. I now have a higher bar and respect the reviews offered by readers and the work of professional artists and editors that make it possible for my work to shine.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Asante’s Gullah Journey is set in a future of the America South when advanced technology has been lost. Beneda is a teenage girl whose mother owns a large farm in the Gullah lands. She is a Black girl living in the community that shares a common background and culture. When the land is threatened Beneda and the farmers appeal to the Library to help them. In this society, libraries and librarians have major power because of ownership of the knowledge in books. Library Scout Asante, from Africa, helps the farmers against their enemies and attempts to preserve the peaceful order.
What inspired you to write this book?
After writing several stories in this low-tech world of the future, I wondered what kind of story could be told about one ethnically distinct group. Because of my background and relatives, I tried it first with Black Gullah inhabitants of the American South.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write third person, in the POV of different characters during the story. I want the reader to walk in the characters’ shoes during the journey. While I include violence and some warfare in my tales, I want all readers to be able to follow them, so there are no excessive or gratuitous scenes. I hope my stories can be enjoyed from middle school age on up. Part plotting and part pantsing mean the story conclusion is planned, but there might be detours during story construction.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
This book was conceived as the first of a series that follows one of the main characters. I thought the African swordsman Asante would be that character. That explains his name in the title. To let potential readers know what to expect, the Gullah term was added. Gullah is used to describe a people, a culture, and a language shared by individuals in part of the American South. So, Asante’s Gullah Journey was seen as announcing the story for readers.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Shades of grey are in each character in the story. The evil ones are not purely evil, and our heroes don’t always make the right decisions. There is a chance for everyone to grow, and people should be given a chance to change, sometimes.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
All the events and individuals in this story are fictitious. For this story to come true, modern technology would have to be lost due to an apocalyptic disaster. Then the Gullah people in the Carolinas would have to survive and thrive, maintaining their culture. While basing this story on how I think humans behave, I hope our descendants don’t have to face this future.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I was able to escape the world when young, through the portal of science fiction books. The authors I read included Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, A. E. van Vogt, and Andre Norton. Those authors and others opened my eyes to other worlds, on this planet, and others. I believed almost anything was possible, and humans could improve. More recently, authors like Lois McMaster Bujold have shown me it is possible to write science fiction with heart, soul, and emotion. I feel inspired to think I can write in ways that can change people’s thoughts and lives.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
My writing has dramatically changed since meeting the development editor I work with today. Two years ago I first worked on a short story with help from E. J. Runyon. Working with E. J. has taught me the importance of the editing step in writing. I believe my writing quality has vastly improved, and excitingly, I believe there is even opportunity for greater improvement in the future. I enjoy and learn from E. J.’s fiction and nonfiction books.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Aaron Radney agreed to illustrate the cover for Asante’s Gullah Journey. I saw a piece he was working on for another project and it made me think of librarians. I knew I wanted the two mains, Beneda and Asante with a library background. It was a pleasure to work closely with him through the process from design, sketching, drawing, and coloring. He brought to life, the vision in my mind.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I now believe editing is one of the most powerful parts of the writing process. Editing can take an average manuscript and turn it into a valuable intellectual property. While many stories have interesting premises, plots, or characters, how they are presented will determine whether readers will stay with them and appreciate them. My advice for any writer is to find an editor who brings out the best in you. A good editor will work well with you, and enable you to feel good about your work. You should see your work improve and develop your ability to craft better passages, scenes, and books.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I can’t say enough of how I feel about my readers. You are why I do what I do. My efforts are dedicated to building a world that will envelop you and carry you away. I want to create for you what the science fiction writers of yesteryear did for me. May your reads always be enjoyable, may your reading journeys be long, safe and fulfilling.
S. A. Gibson
Asante’s Gullah Journey
Cover Artist: Aaron Radney