This time around we're chatting with author Jeff Chapman. Thanks so much for joining us today, Jeff!
MRP: What first brought you to the world of Avenir Eclectia and got you interested in the project?
JC: I'm friends with some of the Splashdown authors. I learned about the project when I followed links to their stories. I don't usually read much science fiction but the stories were fascinating and the world so varied and full of potential.
MRP: What do you consider your unique 'trademark' as a writer, and how does that show itself in your Avenir Eclectia stories?
JC: I like to write about characters who aren't certain about their beliefs or the decisions they make. The consequences of those decisions likely won't play out as they hope or expect. I also love tragedy, so while a few of my stories will end happily, most will have a more ambiguous ending.
MRP: The stories you've written for Avenir Eclectia often deal with complicated issues of right versus wrong. Can you tell us a bit about that?
JC: When Elihu discovers the hermit's cache of coins, he has to decide between honoring the dying man's property or the good that Elihu could do for his impoverished community with the money. He's not happy with his decision, but the right choice doesn't always bring us immediate joy.
"A Creature of Words" comes down to a moral decision on the part of the fish. She decides to abort her attack on the human diver not because she's having trouble sawing through his dive suit armor but because she realizes he has language like the angels. Her morality forbids eating a creature with words.
MRP: What do you see as the biggest advantage of a multi-author project like Avenir Eclectia?
JC: I particularly like the sharing of characters between multiple authors that allow various story arcs to interact. We see familiar characters from a new perspective and the stories no longer appear as single threads going off in their own directions but as different colored threads woven together. I've consciously tried to tie my story arcs into those of other writers. My stories "A Fortuitous Stumble," "Shelter from the Storm," and "The Hermit's Cache," for instance, borrow the character Elihu Simmons--a bug-hunter and pastor--from stories that Travis Perry wrote. Of course it's polite to ask permission to borrow characters and let the other writer see what you're doing with them. This is great for building friendships and relations with other writers.
The stories from others are expanding and filling in the Avenir Eclectia world and each addition can spark your imagination in a new direction.
MRP: The biggest disadvantage or challenge?
JC: The flip side is that it can be hard to keep up with what's happening in the story world. You don't want to be caught writing about something that can no longer happen. I think Grace is doing an admirable job keeping a watchful eye on all the story threads.
MRP: Do you have a favorite memory or experience from the Avenir Eclectia project so far?
JC: My first story "A Creature of Words" is from the point of view of a fish, albeit an intelligent fish. I wasn't sure if this would fly, so I was elated when Grace accepted it.
MRP: Can you give us any kind of hint at where your story/character arc is going from here?
JC: The stories about the hermit that Elihu discovered in a cave will follow the hermit to the The Abbey of Francis and Lazarus House located on the asteroid Assisi. We'll find out who the hermit is and what's in his cryptic book. The contents of that book will create a profound personal crisis for one of the monks
MRP: Is there anything else you'd like to add or share?
JC: I'm looking forward to writing more Avenir Eclectia stories. I have the hermit thread which I see going on for quite some time and a new thread about a couple bug hunters. I hope to get back to the fish as well.
Thanks so much for hanging out with us here at the Writer's Lair, Jeff!
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