If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Jean Roberta.
Are you a full-time author? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time author if you could?
I teach English full-time in a university. I plan to become a full-time writer after I retire in a few years. I’m grateful that instructors of a certain age are no longer forced out.
What is the title of your next story and what will it be about?
In 1998, I wrote an erotic lesbian novel, Prairie Gothic, set in the local queer community before the internet became part of dating culture. It was briefly available as an e-book from a British publisher that went bust in 2006, then collected virtual dust in my “Documents” for ten years.
During my sabbatical year (2016-2017), I completely revised the novel, while keeping the time-frame. The new version has 22 chapters, and has been accepted by Lethe Press for print publication in 2018. It will have cover art for the first time!
Prairie Gothic traces the developing sexual relationship between Kelly, a newly “out” university student, fresh from her home on a farm, and Vivienne, an older woman with a past. Vivienne’s unfinished relationship with Ruth, her first female lover, complicates things, as does Kelly’s resistance to hearing Vivienne’s life-story. Eventually, the complications are resolved as a web of political corruption involving Vivienne’s father is brought to light in the wake of a spectacular murder trial. The novel shows that there has always been a queer, and specifically lesbian culture, even in past eras and places far from any large coastal city.
What are you doing to market yourself?
I belong to the ten-writer blog “Oh Get a Grip,” where I post something on the topic of the moment every other Friday. I also post something about writing or sex once a month in the blog section of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association. I also write reviews and post news about my latest publications on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
From “Mysteries of the Dragon” by Jean Roberta
Would an actual dragon be more intimidating than wildfire? The young man doubted it. He spent years searching for an intelligence, a human-like will, in the earth, the trees, the water, the air, the sky, and most of all, in fire, the greatest enemy he knew. The most violent human could be bargained with, but as far as the young man could tell, fire was deaf to such tactics.
Perhaps, the whole world consisted of opposites, including substances that could neutralize each other. Enough water could quench a fire, but without a nearby river, could other substances suffice?
In a small chamber of his mentor’s house, the young man tried setting fires in metal containers intended for such experiments and dumped quantities of dirt on them. The results were interesting, since the quantity of earth seemed less relevant than the composition of it. Certain fibrous crystals and shiny metallic flakes in the soil cooled the fire, but soil composed mostly of dead leaves had no such effect.
Could a wall of the right material stop a fire?
“Could we not gather the Block-Stone and the Dragon’s-Coat to build a wall? And even work them into a suit of clothes, with gauntlets to protect the hands? Fire does more harm than an invading army, so why shouldn’t we prepare for war?”
“My son,” said Doctor Peak, “your plan is ambitious. You know we cannot gather a crew of helpers for the work because it would be too dangerous for anyone else to know you’re here. These blessed materials alone are not enough to conquer fire. They can only give us more time to fight or escape. Worst of all, most of our countrymen are too priest-ridden to think for themselves. They have set themselves to accept the worst of what the Dragon inflicts on them, thinking it just punishment for the evil in their hearts.”
The young man glowed with hope. “You don’t believe in Fireheart, do you?”
“I do not.” The scholar’s solemn tone was matched by his gaze. “At least, not as others do. Does fire have a will? That could be argued. It prefers certain foods and shuns others, and it breathes oxygen, as do we. Does it hate us for our sinfulness? I see no reason to believe so. It simply wants to thrive, as do we all. If we can protect ourselves from it, we have every right to use whatever we can find for that purpose.”
The student felt the relief of an orphan who has found his home. “You have wisdom, Sir, but I have youth and strength. Will you help me?”
“Gladly, my son.”
Jean Roberta lives on the Canadian prairies, where the vastness of land and sky encourage daydreaming. She teaches literature, composition and creative writing in the local university. Her diverse fiction (mostly erotic) has appeared in many print anthologies, and in the single-author collection Obsession (Renaissance). Her gothic fantasies include “The Water-Harp” in Underwater (Transmundane), and “Roots” (in the “Treasure Chest”). Follow her on her website, blog, or Facebook page.