Following the loss of her husband, Michael, Barb Caffrey has decided to keep their writing alive. She has now published A Dark and Stormy Night and To Survive the Maelstrom, finishing the stories he started.
I thought I’d share the story of this extraordinary woman here, taking advantage of a promotion for both A Dark and Stormy Night and To Survive the Maelstrom that runs until July 27th.
Hi Barb, great to have you here. Let’s start with a common enough question, to which I know that you have an unusual answer: what inspired you to write this book?
Since we’re talking mostly about the two books on sale at the moment – A Dark and Stormy Night is free and To Survive the Maelstrom is reduced to 99c until July 27 – I’ll stick with those.
My late husband wrote A Dark and Stormy Night trying to figure out just why Joey Maverick was so well-known in the Atlantean Union. Joey’s a rather obscure figure, you see, and had a solid but mostly undistinguished Naval career. Yet he’s a household name – and it all happened because of Joey’s rescue efforts during the Westmount Regatta.
During this time, Joey also met the love of his life, Belinda Simpson (neither of them knew it at the time, of course).
Now, as for why I finished this story after my husband Michael’s early death? I felt it had a great deal of importance to say. My own contribution was upping the romance a trifle, mind. I felt it important for Joey to realize what was going on, even though he couldn’t do much about it at the time.
As for To Survive the Maelstrom, I wrote this based off 2,000 words my late husband left behind. The 2,000 words were about how Peter Welmsley found his weremouse, and I was arrested by them. I thought, “How would a driven man like Peter let his guard down enough to bond with an empathic weremouse, anyway?”
So I thought about it, and realized that Peter had a story to tell in his own right. He’d suffered extensive medical rehabilitation – I knew that from Michael’s notes – and I postulated that Peter must’ve lost a great deal.
As a widow myself, I know how hard it is to keep going. So Peter’s story of love, loss, hope and eventual bonding with his weremouse companion resonated with me to the point I had to finish it.
What was the first thing you ever wrote?
When I was eight or nine, I wrote a story about the first female ballgirl at Milwaukee County Stadium. This was fantasy at the time, as we hadn’t yet had one. After sixty-some pages, I turned it in without an ending, and received an ‘A’ from my generous teacher.
Lol – an early start, then. What other writing have you done? Anything else published?
I have many things published. Some poetry, several short stories (both separately and together with my late husband, Michael), a full-length novel… and I have two more novels coming later this year in CHANGING FACES and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE (the hotly-awaited sequel to AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE).
As far as writing goes, I’ve written all sorts of things. Sports. Nonfiction. Editorials. Music and book reviews. I just can’t seem to help myself, I guess.
I know the feeling! Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?
I’m a professional musician, and play in several bands. I’m also an avid baseball fan (Go, Brewers!) and enjoy the NFL – though not as much since Brett Favre retired; he was my favorite player.
What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).
Right now I’m rewriting CHANGING FACES. It’s a sweet transgender love story in the contemporary/fantasy romance category; a pair of aliens (who may as well be angels) intervene to keep a couple together. But their intervention puts the male half of the pair, Allen, into his fiancée Elaine’s body, and vice-versa… except Elaine is actually in a coma. And she’s talking to one of the aliens/angels, because it’s her sadness and refusal to admit to her deep feelings for Allen that have led to this mess.
There’s deep-seated trauma in both of their pasts, yet Elaine can’t seem to get past hers… will changing their faces help or hurt this couple? (Since it’s a romance, I think it’s safe to say that it probably will.)
Lol – yes, it’s probably safe to say so. Who are your favorite authors and what do you love about them?
I enjoy Rosemary Edghill’s work because she can write anything. Whether it’s a mystery, a romance, science fiction, fantasy, anything at all, she tells a compelling and well-researched story.
I enjoy Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s work because she, too, can write anything. Her stories about Alfreda Sorenssen are inspired; they’re YA “frontier fiction,” and she predated the market for this by about fifteen years. Her first two in this series were written in the 1990s, I believe; her third was written last year. And her stories about Nuala, a world dealing with severe radiation issues and massive infertility among the population, are incredible.
I also truly enjoy Stephanie Osborn’s work. My goodness, can that woman write. She has a series out called the Displaced Detective, about Sherlock Holmes brought to the modern-day via the World of Myth hypothesis and some rather nifty hyperspatial physics. Because Stephanie is a former rocket scientist, she knows her science and she’s able to convey it to the layman in such a way that you don’t feel like you’re being talked down to – she even finds a way for Holmes to meet a woman who’s worthy of him! (And that’s not easy.)
There are many other authors I admire, including Andre Norton, Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, David Weber, David Drake, Ryk Spoor, Eric Flint… and I keep an eye on my fellow book reviewer Jason Cordova’s career, too. Jason has a number of very solid short stories, plus he’s making a name for himself in the relatively new genre of kaiju.
And that doesn’t even go into the romance writers I read, or the nonfiction writers – there are so many, and I feel terrible that I have to name just a few.
What genres do you read mostly and what are you reading now?
Oh, I read nearly everything. But mostly I enjoy science fiction, fantasy, romance, and mystery.
I’m re-reading STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel right now. That is a fabulous book, a post-apocalyptic story that actually has some hope.
And I just read Charles Leerhsen’s TY COBB: A Terrible Beauty, and reviewed it over at Shiny Book Review. Cobb was a badly maligned man; while no saint, he didn’t do half the stuff he’s credited with doing. From Leerhsen’s portrayal, I learned that Cobb, while difficult, had his good points.
Finally, I’m reading A TIME TRAVELER’S GUIDE TO MEDIEVAL ENGLAND by Ian Mortimer. This is a funny, fast-paced historical that gets right to the heart of the issues. I’m enjoying it immensely.
Are you an Indie author? If so, do you have any advice for other indie authors?
I’m a hybrid author, in that I have a novel out via a small press and a number of other things out as an indie.
As for advice, mostly I’d say to keep on trying. Refuse to give up. Keep working at your craft, network as much as you can, and be generous with your time as you are able.
I don’t know for certain that this will lead to your ultimate financial success. But it certainly will make your journey more pleasant.
Well said. Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?
If you’re not reading Kris Rusch’s website, go and bookmark it now. She has a regular column called “The Business Rusch” that talks about many issues regarding publishing that are must-reads.
I also read the Passive Voice, the Mad Genius Club (many great tips there for indie authors), Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, Larry Correia’s blog, and Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog, among many others.
Thanks for that; I was following about half of these, so it’s good to add the rest. Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?
My blog and website is known as Barb Caffrey’s Elfyverse. What you’ll find there is a mixture of posts – anything that interests me, I talk about. Books, music, publishing, my stories, other people’s stories, current events, politics, baseball, sports figures, inspirational posts, or something completely different – whatever it is, you will find it at my blog.
Indeed, it is delightfully eclectic. What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?
Meeting and marrying my late husband Michael B. Caffrey is by far the most important thing I ever did. I’m very grateful for the time I had with him, and am doing my best to continue on with his work as well as my own.
Indeed you are. How would you like to be remembered?
I wish to be remembered as a positive person who motivated people by example. Someone who never gave up, who was always focused on becoming a better writer, a better musician, a better editor, and a better person – and who never stopped trying to help others.
Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us about them. Who inspired their characters? Would you like to meet them? What would you tell them if you did?
This is challenging, because I have a number of characters! But I’ll stick with A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE for this one.
Bruno was inspired by a dream I had. You see, I’d just read an anthology about Elves where the editor (I wish I could remember her name) said, “These aren’t your normal Elfie-welfie types.” So my subconscious apparently wondered, “What is a normal Elfy-welfie type, anyway?”
Bruno showed up in black, saying, “The other Elfys like bright colors, the louder the better. But not me. I’m a teenager, and I like black, thank you… want to hear my story?” So of course I proceeded to write that down as fast as I could.
Bruno’s love interest, Sarah, was inspired by my husband Michael, oddly enough. Sarah has an odd sense of humor, loves puns (at least, when they’re not at her expense), is deeply romantic in an unconventional way, and is loyal to the bone.
Would I like to meet them in real life? Absolutely. It probably wouldn’t be comfortable – they’d probably say I’d gotten half the stuff wrong, for all I know – but I’d do it anyway.
As for what I’d tell them? “Help me write the rest of your story!” Because I know there’s a lot more there…I just have to find it out and write it down.
I love the concept of the characters telling us their story. As for dream-inspired writing, most of mine is exactly that. If you had to describe a theme or thread running through your life, what would it be? What’s your life theme?
I’d say the main theme or thread is perseverance. I finished up my Bachelor’s degree at age 29. I finished up my Master’s degree at age 37. I finished my first draft of CHANGING FACES earlier this year, and am now working out the final draft…and I started it in 2001. And while I finished ELFY (now a duology; AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is available now, and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE should be out in a few months) back in 2003, I didn’t get the first part of it published until 2014.
In other words, I refuse to give up. I keep working, keep trying, and just do not give up. There’s a reason at least four of my friends call me the most relentlessly persistent person they’ve ever met.
A wonderful quality, indeed! Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Where are you from?
Probably Saturn. I like the rings.
Don’t we all? Is it true you’ve been abducted by aliens?
Nope. But they do speak to me from time to time. (Picture me smiling from ear to ear.)
Nice. Which one do you prefer: Elephants or tigers?
I like them both, but if I had to pick, I’d probably go with an elephant. They are friendlier if well-treated, and I would treat an elephant well.
How could you not? If you had to live over again, what would you change in your life?
That’s easy. I’d do everything in my power to meet my husband Michael at least ten years earlier. Providing we both took to each other at that point, who knows what stories we’d have created together? Besides, I’d have had at least twelve years with him, rather than three.
Where in the universe would you live if you could travel anywhere?
If Michael’s Atlantean Union existed, I’d like to travel to Heligoland and meet a weremouse. I think that would be fun!
A Dark and Stormy Night
Joey Maverick, a young Ensign in the Atlantean Union, takes part in a low-tech sailing regatta right before he’s supposed to ship out for space. A storm hits, causing Maverick to take command of his ship and mount a rescue mission. Along the way he picks up stranded nurse Belinda Simpson, along with many others. Sparks fly while the tension mounts . . . what will be the outcome of this dark and stormy night?
To Survive the Maelstrom
Command Sergeant-Major Sir Peter Welmsley of the Atlantean Union has lost everything he holds dear. He wonders why he lived, when so many others died at Hunin — including his fiancée, Lydia, and his best friend Chet.
Into his life comes Grasshunter’s Cub, an empathic, sentient creature known to those on Heligoland as a “weremouse.”
Weremice are known for their ability to help their bond-mates. But how can this young weremouse find a way to bring Peter back from the brink of despair and start living again?
On Westmount Station
Newly-minted Lieutenant Joey Maverick of the Atlantean Union is finally about to head out into space and is waiting at Westmount Royal Naval Station for ship assignment. Joey thinks no adventure is possible on Westmount Station, but he couldn’t be more wrong . . . there’s treachery afoot, black treachery, and it’s up to Joey and his temporary crewmates to stop a saboteur before it’s too late!
Columba and the Cat
Meet Princess Columba of Illinowa. She’s a magician, a scholar, and is currently the heir to the throne…but she wants no part of it. Because she’s royalty, she’s had trouble meeting men, and she’s tired of dealing with people in search of a title rather than herself.
Into her life comes a mysterious cat. She rescues the cat, takes him into the palace, and starts having unusual dreams — dreams of a man who understands her, cares about her, and loves her. Not her title.
Unbeknownst to Columba, the cat is a shapeshifter. He, too, is royal, albeit from far away. And he’s the man of her dreams…that is, when he’s not in the form of a cat.
Then the dream-man shows up, and the cat disappears. Columba must decide whether or not to believe in her dreams — and hope that somehow, the magical romance she’s found is here to stay.
An Elfy on the Loose
One Elfy for an entire planet?
Bruno the Elfy believes he’s very young, has no power, cannot see or talk with spirits, and has no enemies.
Quickly sent to our Earth (the Human Realm) and told to watch for magic, Bruno must unravel the lies, keep his mentor from being tortured, and—oh, yeah—figure out why he’s so strongly attracted to young, Human Sarah.
Because his life depends on it.
Watch out, universe–an Elfy is on the loose!
- Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JMSPR5Y/
- Barnes and Noble link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-elfy-on-the-loose-barb-caffrey/1119190597
- Five free chapters are available at the Twilight Times Books website
Connect with Barb
- Amazon author page (Barb)
- Amazon author page (Michael)
- Goodreads author page
You get around, Barb! Was pleased to find you on this site. 🙂
Thanks, Kayelle! Glad you found me.
Nicholas, this was a great interview with interesting questions for Barb.
Barb, what a loving tribute to your late husband. My deepest sympathy.
Thank you very much for your kind words.
I enjoyed doing this interview and am very happy that people here seem to be enjoying it in the spirit intended.
Thank you, Michelle! I wish I had read her books, so I could ask her some more question about her heroes. Maybe in the future 🙂
It sounds like you’ve got your assignment.
Lol – one of many 😀
Barb, you are a true woman power, your work in field of writing is awesome and truly inspiring.
Thank you very much! I appreciate your kind words.
Well done for finishing the book at a difficult time, and good luck with all your current books, and future projects.
Best wishes from England. Pete.
Thank you, Pete. I appreciate your kind words.
A wonderful up-lifting interview. Barb, you are so busy, and that has clearly kept you upright and lucid after your terrible loss. I hope with time the pain will ease and that you will keep on writing!
Thank you so much, Noelle. 🙂 I appreciate it.
Writing definitely helps me. I feel if I can keep creating, I can keep growing…and if I can keep growing, then I’m doing my part in making the universe a better place. (That sounds really saccharine, doesn’t it? All apologies — I try not to dip into too much of that sort of stuff, honestly.)
Lol – saccharine is good. I have a sweet tooth 😀
Very good to hear! 😀
BTW, Nicholas, I feel nearly overwhelmed as the positive show of support here. Thank you so much for featuring me at your blog!
The pleasure is all mine. I’m lucky enough to have some wonderful people visit here, and the support is well-deserved 🙂
What a great act of love, finishing what the loved one couldn’t.
Thank you very much for your understanding, Solveig.
I’ve had people over the years wonder why I can’t leave Michael’s stuff alone. Some have believed it has stunted my own writing career; some also have believed that Michael would’ve undoubtedly improved as a writer if he’d have lived, so why concentrate on what he probably would’ve set aside by now?
But they didn’t know him.
In his way, he was as persistent as I am. And he didn’t give up on his stories, or himself, or anything at all — he was a Zen Buddhist, so the way he looked at life was from a different angle than most I’ve met (note I just nearly wrote “different ‘angel’,” which I found amusing), which might be one reason why some people never understood this about him.
I’m glad I finally have the skill-set to write decent-to-better military SF. That way, I can perhaps do justice to Michael’s vision as well as my own.
A lovely Freudian slip 🙂
Hey, I try. 😉
Barb, I’m so glad you got a chance to meet Nicholas and the rest of us here on his blog. You’re one of the strongest people I know and I’m lucky enough to call you my friend. *hugs*
Thank you so much, Mrs. N. Your friendship means a great deal to me. *hugs* back.
Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
More from Nicholas 😉
A wonderful tribute, indeed. And a great interview. You’re so strong, Barb. I truly admire you.
My feelings exactly 🙂
Thank you, Maria. And thank you, Nicholas, for having me at your blog. I appreciate it very much!
It was a pleasure! 🙂
Barb, my condolences on your loss of Michael. I lost my 2nd husband after 2 months of marriage, so I know how loss feels.
You are such an amazing author in your own right, I really respect and admire you for finishing Michael’s work. What a wonderful tribute!
Thank you, Melinda. I appreciate your kind words.
I’m also very sorry you lost your husband after only two months. That’s dreadful. I hope the memories you two shared will stay with you throughout your lifetime, and I also hope that providing there is an eternity (where we hope to be reunited with our loved ones), you two will take up again right where you left off.
Bless you, and thanks again for your comment.
Thanks, Barb. I remarried after a year, and 6 months. But Bobby will always still be in my heart.
I’m glad you were able to find someone else who’s right for you. But yes, we can’t forget our loved ones…it doesn’t work that way.
You are definitely right. Always in our hearts.