Black Author Showcase

Agents of Literary Change

MEET Stefanie Worth

As soon as she put fingers to keyboard to crank out her first novel, award-winning author, writer and former journalist, Stefanie Worth realized that normalcy didn’t fit into her plot. Contemporary, yes. Passionate, moreso. But ready yourself for twists and turns that whisk you from ordinary to otherworldy, from “what if” to “why not?” Stefanie’s debut novel, Where Souls Collide, recently won the Science Fiction category of the 2008 African American Literary Awards. Her latest work, a novella titled Can You Believe, appears in The Holiday Inn anthology. When not penning fiction, she directs communications for the local chapter of a national nonprofit.

Can You Believe in The Holiday Inn? anthology (current release)
When a visit from the Spirit of Christmas gives newlyweds a glimpse into a future without each other, can a trip to the Holiday Inn persuade them to make a passionate new beginning?

Where Souls Collide (debut novel and winner of the 2008 African American Literary Awards Show’s Science Fiction category)
Detroit journalist Navena Larimore must decode violent visions and resolve rekindled feelings about ex-lover/new boss, Maxwell McKnight, as they team up to stop a murderer.

When did you begin writing? I grew up as the only girl in a family and neighborhood of mostly boys, so I spent a lot of time playing alone. My imagination just seemed to flourish as a result. Combine that with the fact that our house was filled with books; textbooks and romance novels for my mother, and mysteries and non-fiction for my father. I couldn’t help but channel my daydreams into written form. I was ten when I started my first journal and a pre-teen when I began dabbling in poetry. I didn’t try my hand at long-form fiction until after I completed my journalism degree, though I always knew I wanted to be a writer.

What drew you to this particular genre?
As a kid, I thrived on Saturday afternoon horror movies. I became a big Stephen King fan in seventh grade and really thirsted to read material that snatched me out of my blessed, but ordinary, suburban existence. I continue to love the unpredictability of plots “from beyond” in both movies and books. When I started my first novel, I was trying to write mainstream fiction. My mind just wouldn’t let me.

Why do you think speculative fiction is important?

I think speculative fiction exercises our mental muscles in ways “real” stories don’t. If you’re watching a Bourne movie, for example, no matter how thrilling the story is, it’s going to end with a real premise. Otherwise people won’t believe it. But you take a Matrix, Skeleton Key or Dejavu and you’ve allowed yourself to step outside the limits of this life. Who knows where you’ll end up? My kids love Harry Potter, the Eragon series, and good old Goosebumps books. I love that because dreamers – whether they grow up to be writers or not – are the ones who envision new ways of being and different ways of doing. They’re the ones who move society to the next level. It’s said that “without vision, the people perish.” Speculative fiction fosters vision.

What are the key elements or literary devices you use in your fiction (Ex. vampirew, space or time travel, first contact, Armageddon, etc.)?
So far, I’ve used a woman with a gifted ancestry and time travel. In Where Souls Collide, the heroine needed her dreams to help prevent a murder. In Can You Believe (in The Holiday Inn anthology), a glimpse of the future helps a pair of newlyweds deal with their marriage. I like placing ordinary people in supernatural situations and building an alternate world within their reality.

What are your plans for future books?
I have a short story coming out next summer with Parker Publishing and I’m currently flushing out a series idea I have for my next novel. I have a computer file filled with story ideas and I intend to write as long as my mind – and wrists – can stand it.

Favorite author, book and/ movie:

Very difficult questions because there are so many answers for so many reasons! I’ll choose Toni Morrison for the beauty of her prose, Sidney Poitier: The Long Journey because it showed me how hard he worked to become who he was, and Closer (starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen) because it is totally dialogue-dependent and tells an incredibly sensual story without on-screen sex. These are all non-spec fiction choices, but they’ve given me wonderful insight into being a better writer. For me, imagination comes naturally, but craft must be honed.

What do readers need to know about you and your works?

I recently blogged about believing in what you write. As a spec fiction author, people might assume that I’m beholden to certain superstitions. Yet, what I try to live in my own life and portray in my characters is that no one is helpless against the universe. We may have to search out those resources or sharpen a few skills, but we can empower ourselves to overcome the twists life throws our way. My characters, too, have to rise above themselves to succeed – though they get the second chances the rest of us can sometimes only dream of.

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