Tuesday, November 13, 2018

R. E. Stearns

R. E. Stearns is the author of Barbary Station and the newly released Mutiny at Vesta. She wrote her first story on an Apple IIe computer and still kind of misses green text on a black screen. She went on to annoy all of her teachers by reading books while they lectured. Eventually she read and wrote enough to earn a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Central Florida. She is hoping for an honorary doctorate.

When not writing or working, Stearns reads, plays PC games, and references internet memes in meatspace. She recently moved to Denver, Colorado, USA with her husband/computer engineer and a cat.

Last month I asked Stearns about what she was reading. Her reply:
Since it’s October as I write this, I want to tell you about a couple of horror stories I recently read. The first is The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates (2015), a creepy and charming haunted house ghost story. It begins with well-loved haunted house tropes: a woman buys a decrepit old house for a bargain price, footsteps sound from where nobody should be walking, furniture wanders, cell phones are as dead as the house's former residents.

However, Coates sidesteps or inverts a lot of annoying haunted house tropes, especially ones about the living characters, and that’s what I found so fresh and exciting about this ghost story. The homebuyer, Mara, is clever, brave, and independent. As a rational thinker, she investigates the creepy goings-on cautiously, resulting in multiple suspenseful scenes that gave me goosebumps. I love the character development as she is forced to accept that something in Blackwood really is out to get her. None of the characters are the people that decades of cheap horror thrills have led us to expect, and I loved all of them. Well, most of them. You’ll see.

Like The Haunting of Blackwood House, my nonfiction recommendation, Hugo-nominated Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by ZoĆ« Quinn (2017) tells exactly the its title describes. Between 2014 and 2016, Quinn’s ex-boyfriend mobilized thousands of sadists to terrorize and lie about her. Her well written account immerses the reader in that experience, then explains how to help if somebody you care about is targeted.

Like Quinn, I’m a queer woman, gamer, and creator who lives most of my life online. I picked up Crash Override to find out what garbage might land on my virtual or physical doorstep if my books get too popular. Aside from the sadists’ psychopathic and stalkerish behavior, the horrific part comes from how, just like in horror fiction, the real-life criminal justice system was ignorant, condescending, and generally unhelpful. Quinn’s narrative style is deeply moving, and she tells her own story in the audio version. Crash Override is an insightful but horrifying piece of recent internet history with mitigation tactics that are still useful today.
Visit R. E. Stearns's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Barbary Station.

The Page 69 Test: Mutiny at Vesta.

--Marshal Zeringue