Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Interview with Stacey L. Tucker, author of Alchemy's Air

Today the Speculative Fiction Showcase are delighted to interview Stacey L. Tucker, whose new release, Alchemy's Air, we featured on 14 May.

1. Congratulations on your new release, Alchemy’s Air, which we recently featured on the Speculative Fiction Showcase. This book is the second in your trilogy, titled The Equal Night Trilogy. Can you tell us a little about the overarching arc of the trilogy?

Thank you so much for featuring my book! My original idea for the trilogy came from the three mother elements that created the world, Fire, Air and Water. In the books, I call them the three Great Mothers. The protagonist, Skylar has lessons to learn from each of them but the overarching theme is to find your inner truth and live from your heart. Skylar is every woman. The heroine’s journey really is one of going within. It’s much quieter than the hero’s journey, fighting dragons and bad guys. The majority of women, at one time or another, must go within to seek the answers the material world has failed to give her. Over the course of the three books, Skylar must peel away the layers of beliefs placed on her by family and culture, to uncover the guidance and power of her own internal compass-her heart.

2. Your first book, Ocean’s Fire, was very well-received, winning the Living Now Book Awards Gold Medal for Best Adventure Fiction, and praise from Kirkus Reviews, Buzzfeed and more. San Francisco Book Review had this to say “It is time for the power of women, and women's mysteries, to reclaim their rightful place in world cosmology . . . the lore behind the book came across as well researched. Enjoyable.” How did you feel about this response?

Everyone hopes their work is accepted and liked, it’s part of being human. You send your creations out into the world and they are judged, and you as an artist are judged. At least that’s how it feels from this end. I appreciate the kind words and was very excited for the Living Now win, but have to admit I stuck to the harsh and negative reviews more than relished the positive. I guess that’s also being human. I cried when I got my first bad review, taking it so personally. I now see if I want to be in this business, I have to toughen up. Everyone gets rejected, everyone gets negativity thrown at them. The “mission” of my books is greater than one or one hundred harsh comments. It has to be, or I would head to the beach. 

3. Could you tell us more about “the power of women, and women’s mysteries” in your novels?

I was fascinated by Goddess Culture circa 3000 BC. It was a time when women were revered and sex was sacred. I asked myself when did that change? And why? The internet is a beautiful place, so easy to research any topic. I spent three years researching women’s history and was horrified to come so close to the systematic destruction of women’s rights in early history. We learn in school about the suffragettes and women winning the right to vote, but I had never really dug into the “why” it was ever gone in the first place. After uncovering a rabbit hole of information, I was bent on bringing these concepts to the modern reader. I was so mad! I want women to remember their worth, their magic, their power that was taken by early Church fathers and patriarchal conquerors. Millennia ago, women were closely tied to the earth and natural rhythms of life. Along the way, they were deemed “witches” and exterminated, out of fear of this power. I’m hoping to help all readers, men and women, remember their connection to the magic of the earth.

4. The protagonist, Skylar Southmartin, is described in the introduction to the second book as being no longer naive. What has she learned, and how may readers see her character develop?

In the first book, Skylar learns what desire without discipline looks like. It’s a lesson most women learn in their early 20s. We become smitten with the bad guy. He connects us to a part of ourselves we’ve been told is wrong, yet we are curious enough to bite. It usually ends badly in life and also in this story. But as a philosopher at heart, I have a thirst to know what is really at the core of that longing. What, as women, are we really searching for when we choose the bad guy? It certainly isn’t love.

5. Tell us a little about the importance of the Book of Sophia. Some readers will be familiar with the concept of Sophia, other less so.

I fell in love with the concept of Sophia-in Christian Mysticism she is the feminine face of God. Being raised Catholic, I hadn’t heard of the feminine face of anything except Mother Mary so to hear that there was room for the Divine to be female was life altering. This was my small way to pay homage to the Divine Mother and again, to remind women of their inherent divinity.

6. How does Alchemy’s Air blend the elements of mysticism and adventure?

Making it an adventure was my biggest challenge! As I mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to portray a male character fighting physical battles. I love when women give a good ass kicking but that wasn’t Skylar. And it isn’t most women. We want that power but have no idea how to get it. She had to start like most college students, not one carrying a bow and arrow. But introspective journeys are boring on paper so I had to tackle the adventure part…I created a school with a summer camp type atmosphere that Skylar attends. And while she’s there she finds a way to the Underworld, which is where she must complete her main task of this book. I was able to accomplish the metaphor of the journey within, but also make it an actual place, filled with danger and requirements to fulfill her quest. 

7. At the time of the novel, the United States has a new president (number 46) with an unhappy wife, Milicent. What role do they play in the book, as antagonists or otherwise?

Milicent is the antagonist in Book 1. She sees her appointment as First Lady in book 2 as punishment for her wrongdoings. I enjoyed that story line very much, expressing her dissatisfaction with Washington from a “witches” perspective. How incredible would it be if we infused some magic into the White House?

8. What drew you to become interested in the mystical ideas that form the core of the book?

Well, between Goddess Culture, Sophia, and female empowerment I felt I had a trifecta of topics that could fuel a good conversation and plant the seed for change for women to view themselves and the world differently. Originally reading about the three mother letters, Shin, Aleph, Mem in the Jewish Kabbalah, representing Fire, Air and Water I thought how cool it would be to make that into a trilogy. Never writing fiction before, I was naïve about how much work and blood it would take to get this done.

9. Are you at work on the third book, and have you an idea how things will progress?

I am almost done with the first draft. I have to make sure all my circles close to satisfy the story and I have to make it better than the second book. It’s bittersweet, kind of like sending your kid to college. I’ve been plugging away for six years and now I’m picking my head up to see the finish line. 

10. What writers have influenced you, and is there anyone you look on as a key influence? (Some people look to Tolkien, others to Ursula le Guin, for example).

It’s funny, I’m a voracious non-fiction reader. I am always on the quest for the next answer to my questions. Fiction, not so much. I have to say it’s hard for a story to keep my attention, lol. I read J.K. Rowling and it stopped me in my tracks when I was starting. I was not as good as she was so what was the point? Then I read a mediocre e-book that had the most predictable ending and I thought, “wow, I can do better than this.” I have to thank that writer, I can’t remember her name. If she had the guts to put her work out there, so could I.

11. The success of The Da Vinci Code some years ago suggested a hunger for a different version of religion, one in which women were no longer marginalised. How have things changed since then?

Well, people are leaving organized religion in droves, especially in the Northeast. Today’s woman no longer resonates with the false dogma shoved down our mother’s throats. And speaking from personal experience, I do not want my child to be influenced by the negative views of the church. But that leaves a spiritual hole in the teachings of young people. My books and the course I’ve developed from them, teaches about the connection to the Divine that is within our own human heart. Accessing and cultivating this relationship is the number one thing we can do on our journey to wholeness. 

12. Tell us about the Akashic Library. Like the idea of Atlantis, it is a powerful myth that recurs in many places. What is its significance in your books?

The Akashic Records are said to be a mystical library containing records of all action, thought and desire, of every soul that has ever walked on or will walk on the planet. It’s an amazing concept. This would make sense if you accept that linear time is just an illusion for our consciousness to process our experiences and everything that will ever happen already has. It’s a mind bender for sure. I’ve read quite a few new age books on the Akashic Records and there is definitely a fantastical element to it, making it perfect for fiction writing. There are many mystical concepts we can choose to believe in. It is our belief in them that makes them real. And life is more fun with magic in it. 

13. You are a working mother. How do you balance the different parts of your life?

I ask myself that question daily. My son is in Middle School so more independent than ever. I work bus stop hours-and for now it’s working. But once I start teaching on weekends, it will need to be worked out yet again. I want to be there every second for my son, I know how quickly it goes. BUT seeing his independent tendencies aka teenager-itis I realize I have to put my fulfillment on my schedule too or I will grow with resentment. I have to take my own advice and listen to my heart. He is fine and I have done a good job and if I miss a hockey game here or there, it will be all right if what I’m doing lights me up.

14. What are you watching or reading at the moment?

I said I didn’t read much fiction but I have to admit I’m reading Daisy Jones and the Six right now. It’s good, really good and there are many insightful lines in there, spoken like a true artist would say them. That’s a testament to the author. Writing, whether it be books or music connects the artist to God and the most profound answers come through if you are willing to be open to the experience. I feel that in Daisy Jones.

I wish I watched programs but I read mostly. I have to admit I haven’t seen one episode of GOT.

15. When the trilogy is complete, what do you see yourself writing next?

I have two desires, one-to write middle grade with a spiritual spin. Children need soul nourishment. Two, there is a huge disconnect between what women want from men and what they actually get. And vice-versa. I want to take a crack at writing a relationship that fulfills both people. 

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About Stacey L. Tucker:

Stacey L. Tucker uses the action/adventure genre to bridge science and spirituality in her Equal Night series. Tucker’s first book in the trilogy, Ocean’s Fire, took gold at the Living Now Book Awards and she’s looking to make magic again with Book 2, Alchemy’s Air. She has written for Women’s World, Working Mother, and PopSugar, and speaks to teen groups about self-empowerment and awareness in today’s social media–saturated climate.

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