The Bush Clinic follows a doctor who is forced to support a hospital where she encounters tribal women fighting for their and their children’s lives in a war that does not value them. Where did the idea for this novel come from and how did it develop over time?
Thanks for asking. I was so pleased to find reviewers who call THE BUSH CLINIC femme-driven. Ha, ha, that was my intent. In all societies, women live in a network of women, although that practice is not dramatized in our novels or movies. For female heroes as far back a Angie Dickinson”s Police Woman, women characters operate in a world of men. Where were her sisters, aunts, daughters, sorority sisters, female colleagues who held strong positions like judges or reporters?
Women working together is a novel idea in some writing genres. Mostly we see a few forced together like in refugee camps, or the wives of men in leadership like in the church.
I started with the writing principle that the female characters drive the plots of my stories. Nothing happened except by their pushing. That’s in all my stories, but not so much LGBTQ+. I looked at women in combat zones and saw that they had no protection, no cover, no rights even to clean water. How did they manage to feed the children and stay clean?
Women were corralled together and could not resist abuse or separation. My idea was that women talked among themselves and found strategies for how to respond to abuse and support each other, except some were ostracized.
In a free emerging democracy, women must secure the right to vote, the right to open a business, to own property, to choose when to have kids. Access to capital is critical for women to have a voice in business and in politics. Not a token woman on the board of a corporation, but a self-made woman who succeeds by the work of her own hands.
So I developed several of these types in a fantasy story set on another planet to see what obstacles they addressed, what bad behavior they indulged, and how much social power they could accrue. The fantasy series starts with THE BUSH CLINIC, and several novels follow our connected tribal women and intruders from Earth.
The male characters were not neglected. In fact, some get hero roles as militia leaders of generals in the peace-keeping corp. A woman is more interesting when an interesting man pursues her.
What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing your characters?
I feel that women compete and undercut each other. I feel that there’s a hunger among readers to see women who are generous in spirit and want the best for others, but that’s an ideal, isn’t it? Finding the oxygen for oneself is a daily struggle, so which woman has the energy to fight for the group? Unfortunately, altruism is learned behavior.
Just the same, women emulate some who they admire — either for looks or clothes or attracting men or the voice of outrage. The undercutting comes when a genuine position gained through effort is lost or not available. Women (and men) turn to other strategies.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The solutions I found for women in a combat zone were partly about how to handle the children for education and guiding them into different expectations. The tension between Dr. Greensboro, an offworld doctor with the bush clinic, and her growing native assistant Brianna Miller rang true, I believe, for the limitations of how women help women.
What is the next book in the Tribal Wars series about, and when will it be available?
In THE BODY POLITIC Brianna Miller returns to Dolvia as a grown woman with experience and the access to capital to make a difference among the savannah tribes. Her voice in the militia is strong because she contributes connections with offworlders and ideas for managing the kids at risk.
The tribal women who the reader has gotten to know in the first novel each come to the public square in Cylay and partake in self-torching, a protest act against the oppression of Rabbenu Ely. We feel the lost because we know each of the women as individuals.
Brianna Miller takes on an assistant named Kelly Osborn who is my heart’s favorite in the series. Kelly is a poet and trying to find her place, betrothed to a warrior who she fears, but still relating her love of the savannah and the people in her published poems. The differences between cynical Brianna Miller and emotional Kelly Osborn are stark and tell us more about women working together.
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The Bush Clinic is an imaginative and deeply thoughtful space opera that surprised me with its depth. While this is a science fiction novel, it only serves to create a fantastic background to contemporary issues people face in third-world countries today and provides a creative twist to distill modern issues down into a poignant narrative. In this book, we follow a doctor on Dolvia, who is forced to leave her clinic and support a hospital where she witnesses an epidemic and sees how resourceful tribal women have to get to save their kids and survive a conflict where corporate greed fuels the engine of war. Among the tribe is a girl whose storyline shows readers the abuse natives face at the hands of their colonizers and shows the strength of sisterhood in the face of adversity.
Author Stella Atrium channels the best of Frank Herbert’s Dune in the way it utilizes epic fantasy to tell a tale of oppression and colonization. What I like most about this novel, though, is the stark reality of the characters’ lives. While this is a science fiction novel, it still feels grounded and authentic, giving the novel a gritty feel that makes the emotion that colors this story feel raw and biting. The author sets up this emotional battery so well that it feels much more potent when hope and light shine through the darkness. Because of this, I found The Bush Clinic to be a moving and impassioned story; possibly because I was able to relate to the characters.
Readers will also find a vibrant and well-defined backdrop to this story beyond the insightful commentary on society. With plenty of time spent throughout the novel creating a world that feels lived-in and exotic, readers will enjoy the variety of cultures, species, and ideologies throughout this book. This lends to the epic feel of this fantasy story and made me feel like we are only scratching the surface of a backstory that feels deep (good thing this is only book one in The Tribal Wars series).
With strong female protagonists and inspired themes of solidarity, unity, and sorority among women, this science fiction book will appeal to readers looking for a meaningful story that is contemplative and intellectually invigorating. The Bush Clinic is an entertaining and inspiring sci-fi novel that will appeal to readers looking for a book with a relevant and thrilling storyline.
Pages: 496 | ASIN: B0B9VH51CW
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Seven Beyond follows Dr. Meenins as he goes on an adventure spurred by wild dreams and helped along by unlikely friends. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I was first attracted to the idea of writing about people with long life and how a century can be devoted to a specific study of music or warfare without loss. Also a woman can enter business without feeling the pressure to give birth to all her children within a single decade. As my father aged, I wondered how very old people cope with loss of friends, loss of a homeland, or a faulty memory without companions to reinforce the old heroic tales. The storyline grew from there.
Dr. Meenins is a well developed character that I enjoyed reading about. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to his character’s development?
Dr. Meenins is troubled by dreams that are his memory turning. The character has lived for 800 years and traveled to other worlds. He started a blood feud by killing another Longist, his great friend Frum from the Soldier caste. The relatives of Frum cannot with honor allow Chris Meenins, who they know as Clem from the House of Past Promise, to live. He must side-step assassins in each situation on each planet that he visits.
When our story opens, Dr. Meenins is channeled and believes that he’s an aging temporal earthling. He enters resurgence where he accepts that his knowledge is greater than he could attain over a temporal’s lifetime – human anatomy, advanced weapons, the relative positions of the stars. As a Longist, he must face his past guilty acts that perpetuated the blood feud. Only in full memory can he lead the colony to the new homeland.
This is an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
The Longists maintain group identity with social castes and old stories and ancient books of wisdom. To match those, I used Christian beliefs and stories from the Bible as the source of strength for Lady Drasher and other traveling companions.
The traveling group starts in old Russia, travels through the Caucuses, and across the Mediterranean to the northern coast of Africa, before they visit England and fly to NYC. They are piercing time from the 18th into the 20th century. They also test many philosophical theories that groups used to justify political movements.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The Backside of Beyond is a companion book to Seven Beyond that opens a generation later with a few characters the reader will recognize. Dr. Meenins’ daughter lives as Yolanda Santiago in fragmented America and volunteers for a brain implant experiment that is a corporate and military partnership. She gains core programming, making her independent and lethal, and goes rogue with a traveling group who are on the provinces’ most-wanted list. Her Longist friends who integrate with society in the USA have spiritual questions and join a tent revival movement to heal America and bring down the bisecting fence.
The Backside of Beyond is in beta now and may be released in 2019.
Dr. Meenins has recurring dreams that are his memory turning. He resists facing his guilty acts from eight centuries ago. Linda Deemer of his race of Longists is sent to help him step through painful memories of lost companions.
Travel companions help Dr. Meenins confront his dreams while haunted by wispy memories of faraway places and alien races. The reader is treated to his past adventures on other worlds where Christopher Meenins escapes assassins of a blood feud and gathers followers to find the new homeworld.
A quest novel that, in broader terms, is a cautionary tale with many tongue-in-cheek references to true human nature and injustices of contemporary society. Similar to Cloud Atlas or Sense 8.
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Dr David Christopher Meenins finds himself haunted. Haunted and disturbed by his past. He needs to reconcile with that past in order to move forward to a new home world. On the journey to self-discovery and a somewhat clean conscience, he is accompanied by mysterious Linda Deemer and the fabulous Lady Drasher among others. These people will all grow closer as the journey progresses. They will help the good Doctor unravels his past and come to terms with it. They will grow to become good friends and their friendship will lead to finding a new home, one that they will all revere.
The relationship between the characters is especially heartwarming. It is a beautiful friendship between inherently different people. All with different patterns of thought but are similar in the quintessence of human nature. The characters are all loveable and relatable to the reader. Their warmth and personalities jump off the pages and wrap the reader in a halo of joy. Lady Drasher is a particularly outstanding character. Her strength and stance are inspiring and mesmerizing. The author has made the female characters into pillars. They are not merely damsels but strong women who rely on their own capabilities.
Stella Atrium executes the plot with lustrous expertise and flair. Her writing flows effortlessly. She effectively captures the attention of the reader and keeps it hostage until the very end. The book is colored with intrigue, adventure, and a splash of humor. Maybe a dollop of romance on the side. The plot is quite original. For a fiction fantasy book, this story is quite enthralling. Weaving in fantasy worlds can be quite tricky and most probably doomed to fail but the author has handled it very well. Her portrayal of the characters in their natural (or unnatural) forms is impressive and masterful. This book is evidence of the vast level of creativity the author holds.
Dr Meenins is a wonderful character. His disposition works to gain the allegiance of the reader. One will find themselves cheering him on as he escapes assassins and works hard at his mission. At the beginning, the reader will have a little trouble staying on track but that situation dissolves quickly. It may also be problematic to keep up with the characters. This does not influence the literary experience. The book still holds charm and just enough mystique to look past that issue.
You will experience a cornucopia of emotions with this book. This is not the book you idle about with by the pool. It is a book you take seriously. A book you read intentionally and with fervor. The author will display exactly how deep her well of vocabulary runs. Either you can enjoy that or let it daunt you. If you choose the former, a scintillating experience is in store. There is nothing like it. Take the trip with Dr Chris.
Pages: 290 | ASIN: B00ICTAIN0
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