Please welcome Steven H Silver to The Qwillery. “Well of Tranquility” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.
This is the twenty-seventh in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!
While you may have missed the Genius Loci Kickstarter (I'm a backer), you will be able to get the anthology via BackerKit and if you miss the BackerKit, from Ragnarok Publications later this year.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Steven: I tend to make it up as I go along, but I need to know what my target it. If I don’t know how the story ends before I begin, I usually find that it peters out without actually achieving anything.
TQ: You are an editor and a fiction prize judge, among other things. How does this affect (or not) your writing?
Steven: I don’t think being a judge particularly impacts my writing (although it does cut into my time to write). It would be nice to think that working as an editor means that my own work tends to be better than it otherwise would be, but the truth is, that as an author, I’m too close to what I write to be my own editor.
TQ: Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Steven: Well, the major question would be “Can I publish your novel and give you piles of money?” and the answer would be an emphatic “Yes!”
TQ: Describe “Well of Tranquility”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.
Steven: In an ancient monastery in Armenia, a monk discovers an ancient force that may be the peace of God or may be something older.
TQ: Tell us something about “Well of Tranquility” that will not give away the story.
Steven: Since I was writing about two different cultures to which I don’t belong, I needed to make sure I was showing respect and honestly depicting those cultures. Fortunately, I had friends who had grown up in those cultures and could vet the writing and research I was doing.
TQ: What was your inspiration for “Well of Tranquility”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?
Steven: “Well of Tranquility” began with the idea of a peaceful holy place that in reality was a place with a Lovecraftian Elder God was once worshipped. It changed quite a bit when I began to do research into Armenia, where I decided to set the story.
The first time I really felt like I had encountered a Genius loci was in 1984 while walking around the ruins of Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. I don’t believe in the supernatural, but it was one of the few times in my life that I felt like I could possibly run into a ghost when I turned a corner.
TQ: Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Well of Tranquility”.
“Father Mesrop tells me that a supernatural calm falls upon those who enter the cell, allowing their thoughts to bring them closer to Him in a way that he has never felt in any other place in the world. But, he also warns that the feeling of serenity can be dangerous, for it is a…how did he describe it…an enticing calmness, as much to be feared as revel in.”
TQ: In which genre or genres does “Well of Tranquility” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?
Steven: It definitely falls into the fantasy genre, although it is sort of fantasy light. Although there is a fantastic explanation for what happens to Brother Sevak, it is also quite possible that there is nothing supernatural occurring and just a matter of the power of suggestion.