(Guest Post) Author Interview with Ism Stephensbailey

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I was diagnosed with ASD before I turned two after I had suffered from a seizure. Apparently, until I was about seven I rarely talked and didn’t start fully opening up as an individual until I turned ten in fifth grade.

It’s hard because I know it shouldn’t be an excuse for how I feel, but with all of the problems that come with ASD, including social issues, it can be hard to accept that you aren’t like everyone else.


Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

In 9th grade I was told by an older substitute teacher I had that my “black lives matter” shirt offended him and if he saw me wearing it again, he would write me up. Being the defiant person I am, I wore that shirt again the next day.


What are some of your pet peeves?

One of the pet peeves I have are when people act like the stereotypes they fit in (like dumb white girl or black kid who doesn’t care about society) just because they feel like they fit in to it. It bothers me because stereotypes are wrong, but rarely do people try to set new ideas about their culture.


Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born in Honolulu, Hi while both my parents were stationed there. My brother came a week before I turned one so we both apparently have Hawaiian property rights (if that exists).

I like to pick on my sister because she and my baby brother were born in Maryland (what’s cool about Maryland?). Since my dad remained in the military, I’ve been everywhere up and down the Mid-Atlantic Coast.


If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’d spend the day making reparations to all of the people I have ever wronged, and it’s a lot.


Do you have a favorite movie?

I love all of the MCU movies (okay, maybe not Iron Man 2 or The Incredible Hulk). Something about watching a story span that many years and be executed so well is very attractive. I draw a lot of inspiration from it.

My all-time favorite movie, though, is The Departed. If you notice in Saga of the Savage the setting is Beantown, MA. I love Boston and everything about it, which is why I used the nickname for it for the official name in my book.


Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

Both of them. They could use the first story in the saga called A Savage is Born. I wrote the book like you are watching a movie with constant perspective changes. If I were to choose one (although, both heroes are the most important in the universe), I would definitely choose Lightning.


What inspired you to write this book?

I was sad as an incoming 9th grader back in 2015. Although I wouldn’t be diagnosed with Depression for another two years, it still impacted the way I thought of myself. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I wasn’t really socializing very well. Now, we can attribute at least some of that to my ASD.

Whenever I would write, I was provided with positive feedback and it gave me something to call “mine”. All of my books and short stories draw from this inspiration. I write for myself, first and foremost, and secondly, I write for the sake of having these characters have their story told.


What can we expect from you in the future?

All I should say is a lot more heroes! These two books start off the wonderful and massive universe of the Heroship. In time we will be introduced to three males and one more female. Then a lot of these heroes will have their own stories and groups.

The Huntress already has her hunters as seen in Doomsday and I can provide one spoiler into a new group of heroes alluded to in Saga of the Savage called The League of Runners.


Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

Of course I do. When I’m in between projects I write a lot of side stories. Also, when the idea first came to me six years, I didn’t really have the “perseverance” of finishing long stories. So the result? Now, I have a ton of shorter stories that can fit themselves into the story line.


Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Lightning: Saga of the Savage? The Huntress: Doomsday?

Alea was my first character I had ever come up with in this universe and fittingly so, I based her personality (or at least most of it) on me. She starts the story off as an innocent trying to go through her first year at high school. Then, tragedy strikes and takes her down. Her innocence is lost and she becomes more cynical. Her twin sister is Belle and her best friend is Piper.

If I were to spend a day with any of these females, it would definitely be Piper probably because I’d see too much of myself in Alea. Also, Piper is kind and down to Earth and no matter if you are male or female, being kind is the first step to getting me to hangout with you.

In Doomsday, the MC is a woman who takes the name of Audrey. She doesn’t really know who she is in the first part of the story. But she can turn people into animals. That’s a plus, right?

Grace is a brave girl who goes through a lot. She’s raped and her girlfriend is murdered. Did I forget to mention that the hunters are females who aren’t allowed to love men? This provides for a good plot when, in the 1940’s, the world isn’t ready for homosexuals.


Where did you come up with the names in the story?

Audrey was the name of a girl I liked in 9th grade and proceeded to ruin any chance I had with her. She was cool and smart and beautiful too so when I was making the Huntress, of course (as a hormonal teenager) I named the character after her.

Grace is a good friend of mine from when I was going through more troubled times. She’s pagan and I thought that was interesting because I’ve never met anyone who is openly pagan. She was always changing her hair – that’s one thing I remember very clearly. Thalia was a fifth grade friend and my cousin’s (she might be four) name is Aaliyah.


How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

So with Saga of the Savage it was actually originally called A Savage is Born because that’s who Alea must become to save the ones she loves. All innocence must be lost. Then, I decided that at 40k words, it was too short, so I added a second story called The Echo Protocol and turned the whole thing into a saga.

Doomsday was so named because it takes place just as Operation Doomsday (D-Day) was taking place.


If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

I think about this a lot and for Lightning, I’d have to say Jenna Ortega. I don’t know why she came to mind, but she would be awesome. I also know she probably doesn’t have any Middle Eastern blood in her and Lightning is half Middle Eastern, but should that really matter?

For the Huntress, I’d give it directly to Florence Pugh. Something about watching her movies and the previews for her upcoming Black Widow movie and something about her says “power”.


Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

They come to me as I write. Originally, Alea’s older sister, Diana, is a Senior at her school. Then, I wrote her off and suddenly, she came back to me in A Savage is Born as a woman 10 years older. Whenever I need something to keep the story moving I like adding characters.


Do you see writing as a career?

Of course I do. Writing is my special talent and I know one day enough people will be reading my stories to support my future self. I hope soon, they can get turned into movies soon because I really want for my conclusion to this universe to be released in books the same time the movie is.


What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

To be judged upon by a false perception. My dad once asked me, “Why are you fantasizing about lesbians?”

I guess in a way it is. Doomsday is lesbian fantasy, but nothing about is sexual for me. My parents think I write too much about females and they act like they think I just spend all of my time thinking about females. The truth is I feel that females need more representation especially in the fantasy department.

The Heroship is split equally between three males and three females, but when as a teenager with, again, no perseverance to finish a novel the perception is I’m always writing about females. The reality is I’m stuck on the same two stories that start everything off.


How long have you been writing?

When I was seven, I would fold printer paper into booklets and write stories in colored pencil to my favorite game at the time, Civilization.


Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I used to have several going on at the same time, but when I turned eighteen with no completed draft, I started focusing on one book at a time. Now while I work on my books, I might also make short stories to submit online or to sell on Amazon.


What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

What made me want to become an author? When I was twelve all of these characters started coming to me. I would fall asleep every night with movies of these characters playing in my head. I knew I had to share it with the world.


How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I can knock out 50,000 words in a month.

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