Interview with F.E. Arliss | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Osiris Stone?
The Osiris Stone is the second book in the ‘Shield Skin’ series and continues on from where Emery Harlow learned she’d be able to attend college at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland. When COVID 19 hit, I couldn’t help but wonder what that would do to my character as she entered university life. So I sat down at my laptop to see what had happened. Unlike most authors – I have no idea what my characters will do before I sit down to write. The stories literally write themselves. People used to ask me what was going to happen in the next book, but I could never say. I, myself, have no idea what my characters will do. Much like Agatha Christie and her complaint that her character, Poirot, wouldn’t leave her alone – even though she disliked him and found him to be ‘an annoying little man’. That said, I like my character, Emery Harlow.
If you woke up in the world of The Osiris Stone, what is the first thing you would do?
If I was to land on the Isle of Eigg, I would head to Thornridge Abbey, ask for a warm woolen sweater and a piping hot cup of tea in front of the fire in the small parlour.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
Usually, I am quite eclectic in the genres I read for myself. I occasionally read science fiction, which is the genre I first started writing in. More frequently I read British mystery novels and have very much enjoyed the Anne Perry series about William Monk, an inspector with the Thames River Police who loses his memory after a carriage accident. When he awakens, he learns that his previous self was a bit of a bad piece of work. In addition, I have truly enjoyed following the novels surrounding the character Aloysius Pendergast by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston. If those went on forever, I’d be delighted.
What fictional world would you most like to visit?
If I could visit any world I’ve read about I would most like to visit the science fiction worlds described in my own series ‘Alien Alliance’. I have deeply enjoyed imagining those worlds and rendering them into being through writing.
What book did you expect to hate, but ended up loving?
I would say that the book I thought I would hate, but ended up loving – is actually a reverse situation. I thought I would love, “Eat, Pray, Love”. Instead, I ended up really hating it. If there is one theme that runs through all my novels it is the idea that women can empower themselves and make themselves happy. Strangely, many times when I traveled through India I would meet women who had gone to India in order to “fix their lives”, an idea they got through reading this book. I detest that way of thinking. No one and nothing can ‘fix your life’ except yourself. It is not up to the world to fix your life. It is up to you to fix your life. Make yourself happy. Then you can perhaps find a partner that enhances your life. Your partner is not responsible for your happiness – you are!
What’s your favorite thing about writing? What’s your least favorite thing about it?
My favorite part of writing is seeing what characters flow out and what it is that motivates them to come to life under my fingers. Usually, it is because they want to break out of the mundanity of ordinary life. My least favorite part about writing is marketing. Yes, marketing. I want to write, but unfortunately, marketing goes right along with that.
What scene in The Osiris Stone was your favorite to write?
I can’t say it was my favorite part to write, but I was deeply grateful when the book’s characters resolved their own rather confused gender identity issues. When those originating scenes came out under my fingertips, I actually stopped writing for a few days as I was genuinely confounded by the unusual relationship between the twins and how Emery would fit into that. I can’t say that I’m not still confounded, as I am. However, it was their solution, not mine. So be it.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
I do have a motto I live by. It is not anything in the least deep and meaningful, but it is what motivates me in life. Life should be beautiful. In amongst such ugliness and turmoil in the world, I wish my life to be beautiful. That does not mean living in a big house or driving a big car. It means being kind to people; eating lovely food that is so savory you can never forget it; listening to music that moves you; trying to find the best in people even when you occasionally suspect they have none; keeping my home clean; my clothes in good order; myself in the best condition I can. It means cutting down on stress by having no debt. The most important thing that is beautiful in my life is an adventure. If being safe means being forced into a routine of boredom – that will kill my soul. I am currently, in the midst of the Covid crisis, teaching English at an American University in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It was an adventure where I could still be useful and not be forced into non-action by a virus I cannot control.
What will your next adventure or writing project be?
The current project is a book of short stories, poems, and essays from my students at LETU (Le Tourneau) Mongolia American University. They are a group of clever, expressive, and genius students with whom I hope to impress the world that the younger generation of Mongolians are far more versatile and intelligent than the world has given them credit for. The book will be called “Messages From Mongolia” and should come out sometime in 2022. I also hope to publish the third book in the ‘Shield Skin’ series in 2022. It will continue developing the connection between the young witch, Emery Harlow, featured in “Shield Skin” and “The Osiris Stone,” and the character, Remington Arana Hartsel, the queen of the oldest vampire clan in existence as portrayed in “The Oldest Blood”.