Author Stella Telleria is here today, and she’s brought some fine looking friends… 😉
Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today!
I’m pumped to be here. Thank you for having me.
What 5 things should readers know about you?
This is a tough question—especially since I hate talking about myself.
- I was a tomboy growing up and I dislocated my elbow while wrestling with my older brother when I was about 7 (my brother was 12). He also socked out a few loose teeth of mine and was responsible for a few scars and black eyes. I wouldn’t have traded my brother for anything though. Love ya, Bro.
- My favorite movie as a young teenager was Terminator 2. When I got to high school, my girlfriends insisted I had to watch Grease and Dirty Dancing (their favorite movies) because I’d never seen them. I couldn’t understand what they like so much about those movies. Why would I want to be Sandy when I could be Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley? Those women were badass.
- I love rollercoasters and extreme rides. The more my stomach feels like it’s in my throat the better.
- I love to restore/refinish vintage and antique furniture. I grew up fiddling with wood, power tools, and renovations with my father who was a carpenter. The sweet smell of sawdust always reminds me of him. I miss you, Pops.
- My favorite room in my home is my library. I love everything in it. A room without books has no soul.
Yes! Sarah and Ellen all the way!
Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? What one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle?
I’ll talk about the four main characters in the novel: Mia, Eben, Gavin, and Vuri.
At 26, Mia Mitchell has had her fair share of tragedy. During her first tour in Iraq, she was badly injured in more than just the physical department. A few tours later, an emotionally detached Mia is honorably discharged from the Marines and struggles to remember what life should feel like. Nightmares and PTSD are all she knows and the motto “keep moving” has kept her afloat amidst the psychological storm following her.
When she’s approached by Vuri, a strange man with an agenda of his own, she decides to take on the stranger’s cause. A cause that will take her to the parallel world of Gaia and into an entirely different fight. A fight that highlights the holes in her life and helps her find the softer side she thought died in a ranger grave long ago.
If stranded on a desert isle, Mia would bring her trusty KA-BAR knife. After all, is there anything that knife isn’t good for?
Eben’s name is the perfect description of him; a rock. He is a 28-year-old slave who has worked in a mine since before he can remember and is slowly dying from an infection in his lungs common to miners. He had never examined his life too closely until a fellow slave told him stories of the outside world.
No longer content with his life, he dreams of escape even if it means death, for even death would be a release. But his duty to his childhood friend and fellow slave, Gavin, keep him from trying. Once freed by Mia from the mine, he loses all sense of himself. But his keen intellect and his drive to rise above being a slave have him joining Mia’s resistance. Eben is the perpetual survivor.
If stranded on a desert isle, Eben would bring his bastons. They are his one true prized possession, and the only thing he’s ever owned in his life.
Vuri, a middle-aged foreigner, approaches Mia on the streets of San Francisco with an offer she finds both interesting and mysterious. He offers Mia the opportunity to teach self-defense and her other survival skills to a group of refugees whom due to gender and law, are banned from such teachings. She is skeptical but is convinced by Vuri she is perfect for the job.
Vuri is from Gaia, a parallel world where women rule, men are servants, and all fear the Empress. He is one of four Elders whom are trying to liberate the male population of his country, Beyal. He is cunning, manipulative, and no one knows much of his past except for his refined speech that indicates he’s never been a slave. Vuri wants the resistance to succeed—he is tired of living in hiding. But Mia isn’t the only one with secrets.
If stranded on a desert isle, Vuri would bring his wormhole device so he could simply travel to another parallel world.
Gavin, childhood friend of Eben, is a 24-year-old labor slave. Gavin has always had his way with the female sentries at the mine, earning him perks others covet. But Gavin has always relied upon Eben for protection from the other male slaves. After all, his smart mouth is always getting him in trouble. Sold to the mine as a child, unlike Eben, Gavin remembers his previous life and is bitter and cynical about everything as a result.
Once freed from the mine by Mia, Gavin cannot understand Eben’s desire to overcome his slave origins and challenge society’s doctrine. He thinks he and Eben should just look out for themselves, but it isn’t long before Gavin’s ideas start to change as well. These once friends find themselves being pulled apart as their desires have them challenging each other. Freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
If stranded on a desert isle, Gavin would bring Eben. Eben has always watched out for him, so if he were there everything would turn out ok.
Hmmm. I’m tempted to say that Vuri would be cheating… 😉
If your book were being cast as a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?
Ohmygosh, YES. I cannot argue with a single one of your choices!
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I have been actively writing for about 8 years now.
I always had made up stories running through my head my whole life and always loved to read. In high school I had my heart set on being an animator/digital artist. I had a few comics I’d written and illustrated and I applied for a design and digital media program at a local collage. Alas, I was rejected. It was a really hard program to get into. Life went on and I had engrossed myself in a job I was no longer passionate about when my father suddenly became ill and passed away when I was 24. I was numb. I couldn’t find happiness in anything anymore and it really made me examine my life. I had this overwhelming urge to write my thoughts and feelings down and suddenly I couldn’t stop writing. That was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.
Sometimes you just need that extra push…it’s your silver lining in an otherwise sucky cloud.
What do you like best about being a writer?
My favorite thing about being a writer is when a reader tells me how much they identified with my characters. Those are the most rewarding moments of my life—to hear that someone else loves my characters as much as I do.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
I find the hardest thing about being a writer is juggling your life around it. It’s a hard task. Writers are hermits. I am perfectly happy to sit in my pajamas all day and write from morning till night. Some days are easier than others. You have to make time for a social life and your loved ones. I find it to be a constant struggle. There is this sort of obsession/passion in writing and other art forms. It can be all consuming at times and unhealthy for the relationships in ones life. It’s a balancing act and I’m lucky my husband is as supportive as he is. He keeps me sane.
That’s fantastic! Everyone needs someone to do just that.
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I am currently working on the sequel to Across the Wire tentatively named Molding the Marksmen. I hope for it to be out in the next year and a half.
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
Wow! That’s quite a collection.
What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?
I’m about halfway through Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I love dystopian fiction and first person perspective, so it’s right up my alley. I like it so far and really enjoy discovering different writing styles and voices. I’ll soon have a review of it on my YouTube channel.
We’ll have to check that out 🙂
Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.
This is the first scene from the book and is one of my favorites because I think we get to know Mia quite well in just one act.
That worked most of the time. So did going to karate class on days the dream came. The busyness helped. I went almost every evening and tonight would be no different.
I made dinner. A tuna sandwich and some nuked water in the microwave for tea. I headed to the only chair in the place, a plastic lawn chair on the balcony. I’d almost reached it when a loud crash sent me diving to the floor.
The plate and mug clattered against the wood floor. Hot tea splashed the walls.
My heart pounded like it was trying to escape my ribs. I covered my head waiting for the mortar rubble to fall. The desert sand in my mouth tasted like it had so many times before, dust and grit.
Someone’s wail of pain made me forget my panic and focus.
This wasn’t Iraq. This was my apartment. The crash had come from next door.
I pushed off the floor, ran out into the hall, and banged on the door. “Mrs. Bateman? Are you all right?” I jammed my ear against the wood, held my breath, and strained to hear.
The plea was full of wobbly fear. “Help. I-I can’t move.”
I turned the knob but the door was locked.
I backed away from the door. The sweet spot next to the dead bolt practically screamed kick me in for fuck’s sake! The first kick was a test. The second kick did the job. The wood door jamb splintered apart.
I was through the doorway, and the apartment was an inverse of mine except that Mrs. Bateman had lived there long enough to turn it into a museum—porcelain knickknacks everywhere. The smell of mothballs and perfume was so strong it left a taste in my mouth. As I ran past the kitchen and living room, glass crunched under my trainers.
Books, picture frames, and shattered glass bits were all over the floor and bed. A tall bookshelf was propped up on the edge of the bed. A burgundy-slippered foot, an S.O.S., stuck out of the books between the triangle of the floor, bed, and bookcase.
“Mrs. Bateman!” I stepped over the foot and pushed the bookcase back against the wall. “Are you all right?”
She moved and it was as if the books were crawling over the old woman lying on the floor. “Mia?”
I pulled old encyclopedia-sized books and records aside. A shard pricked my knee as I knelt down. The last few records fell away to reveal a scared old woman. Her cheek was swollen; it pulled at her wrinkled tissue-paper skin, smoothing it out. I forgot my knee.
“Where are you hurt?”
She blinked. “I—” her eyes darted and she winced, “—my arm.”
I cleared away picture frames and porcelain figurines of women in long dresses. Mrs. Bateman was on her side, she’d landed on her arm, but it didn’t look broken.
Footsteps sounded at the door and a man entered the room.
“What happened?” Sam, from down the hall, arrived looking like a chihuahua trying to have a bowel movement, trembling and nervous about it all.
“Get the medic,” I barked.
He twitched in a way no real man should. “What?”
I shook my head. “Call. An. Ambulance.”
He paled and ran out of the apartment as if being chased.
I helped Mrs. Bateman up.
“I think you scared him.” She frowned, and I remembered at one point she’d tried to fix me up with Sam.
“It’s for his own good,” I said.
She sat on her bed and stared at the mess of her room. She seemed brittle. She had to be at least eighty years old, shaped like a pear, and she bruised like one. Her swollen face darkened by the minute. She shouldn’t live alone.
“Thank you, Mia,” she said. “You must have heard the noise.”
I nodded and sat on the bed next to her. “The ambulance should be here soon.”
She shook her head and frowned. “I’m fine. I was trying to get one of Mr. Bateman’s records, he loved Sinatra.” Her chin quivered. “It’s all broken. It’s all gone now.”
It wrenched my guts sideways. I couldn’t stand the sight of old people crying. There was no consoling them. They knew better than most. They’d lived long enough to know pretty words were just that.
I picked up books and set them back on the shelves, trying to help in some small way. I straightened a pewter frame with a sepia photo of Mrs. Bateman and a man in an old tuxedo. An old pain lanced through a dark place I kept shut.
Placing the wedding picture on the shelf, I paused. “How long were you and Mr. Bateman married?”
The corner of her mouth twitched. “Mr. Bateman and I were married for eleven years, but that was my first husband, Mr. Wayland.”
“First husband?” I’d never thought of my neighbor as the divorcing type.
She cradled her arm and smirked. “I’ve had three husbands.”
I continued putting books and figurines back on the shelves. The sound of broken ceramics and ambient street traffic filled the room.
“I’ve buried three husbands,” she added.
I placed another framed picture of a different wedding on a shelf. A young Mrs. Bateman smiled in the picture. I wondered how she had survived such sadness and how so much pain could find its way to certain people’s door steps. I scratched at my left wrist but forced myself to stop. I understood why she lived alone now.
The two most insignificant words, words I’d heard a million times, came out of my mouth. “I’m sorry.”
She nodded. “Most people think it’s a joke I’ve buried three husbands.” Her voice was hard.
The glass of the picture caught a glint of sunlight. “It’s not,” I said and heard an ambulance off in the distance through her open window.
know why some think it is.” Her eyes seemed unfocused. “It’s not easy watching the ones you love die.”
She was hurt, she’d lost things she’d loved, and maybe she’d lost confidence in her independence. I could understand those things.
“Maybe it’s some people’s way of dealing with it,” I said. The siren became louder—getting closer.
Mrs. Bateman sat staring at me. “Of dealing with what?”
I went back to placing a bunch of unbroken records on the shelf. “That fortune holds no favorites. That everyone dies.”
A fragment of a figurine stood out of the wreckage on the floor. A decorative ceramic mask smashed roughly in half. It was white with sparkles painted on the lips and a tear glittering on its cheek. It lay there with its broken side to the floor and a wave of déjà vu hit me in the gut. The broken figurines and records became gravel. The mask became Sergeant Kosher’s head, what was left of it. The sparkled mouth became blood that caught the light. The tear was some other bodily fluid that seeped out of his remaining eye because there’d been no time for tears. His brain was scattered around his head like a halo. Kosher, the patron saint of car bombs. He never saw that IED; he never knew what was coming. It’d made me feel better about it somehow.
“The worst isn’t what people say,” I said.
“What’s worse?” Mrs. Bateman’s voice was hushed as if we were in church.
“That there’s nothing you could’ve done or will do to make their deaths worth it. Nothing that’ll explain why you survived and they didn’t.”
“But… in time a small bit of understanding can come from it.”
The closed casket memorial service of another solider played in my mind.
“Time passes and you realize you’re never gonna do enough to earn your right to live.” I closed my eyes and when I opened them, Kosher was gone. It was the mess on Mrs. Bateman’s floor at my feet again. One glance at the little old lady on the bed told me I’d said too much. Her eyes were a little wider than normal, and her lips parted.
“Just keep moving,” I said as I pulled books and whole tchotchkes from broken bits of crystal and porcelain clinking together. The sound punctuated her loss. Maybe it was more than just her loss in that room.
Mrs. Bateman stared at me and I wished I could’ve taken back those words, wished I hadn’t upset her more.
“I can sweep this up for you, if you like.”
Her face sagged. She reached down, wincing as she did, till she pulled a salt shaker out of the rubble. The bottom was gone but it looked like a souvenir from some tourist destination. I wondered if she wanted to glue what she could back together.
“It’s like losing my husbands and friends all over again.”
I couldn’t understand the mourning of possessions. They had always been dead.
She wiped at her face with her hand, her knuckles swollen with age and ache. “I can’t believe I did this.”
Kneeling, I picked at the cut in my knee. My jeans were a little bloody and the cut was already clotting. But Mrs. Bateman’s regret hit me somewhere deep. Somewhere raw that never scabbed.
Thank you so much, Stella! Want to find out more about her first book, Across the Wire, and enter for a chance to win your own copy? Just keep reading!
All my life I’ve dreamed of stories or have had my nose buried in one. I live in Edmonton, Canada with my husband and my weird sense of humor. Across the Wire is my first novel.
I love old war movies, dystopian fiction, and any story with action, a good plot, and characters I’d get into a fight at the pub for. Not that I’m a brawler or anything. Unless you think that out-of-print book or vintage piece at the thrift shop is going home with you instead of me. Then, my friend, the gloves are off.
Some say if you have your nose buried in a book, you’re missing out on life. I say my nose is buried in a book because one life is not enough.
Tweets by Stellatelleria
Publication date: November 4th 2013
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
When Mia Mitchell, a hardcore but lonely former Marine, steps into an alley to pull some thugs off an unlucky foreigner, she walks into a fight she expects. What she doesn’t see coming is the foreigner making her a job offer any sane person would refuse. So, she takes it. She thinks she’s headed for some third-world country; instead she’s mysteriously transported to an Earth-like parallel world. That’s a mad left-hook.
Mia discovers a matriarchal dystopia where freedom doesn’t exist and fighting for it means execution. Lethal force bends all to the law; women fear for their families and un-wed men suffer slavery. Mia’s job is to train an underground syndicate of male freedom-fighters for a violent revolution. However, the guys don’t want a pair of X chromosomes showing them the way.
Eben, an escaped slave, is encouraged by Mia to become a leader among the men. But when he turns his quiet determination on her, it spells F.U.B.A.R. for cynical Mia. Their unexpected connection threatens more than her exit strategy; it threatens the power struggle festering with in the syndicate.
Haunted by nightmares and post-traumatic stress, unsure who to trust or how to get home, Mia struggles to stay alive as she realizes all is not what it seems.