Name V. R. Craft
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education, family life, etc.
I always heard you should write about what you know, so I decided to write a book called Stupid Humans, drawing on my previous experience working in retail and subsequent desire to board a spaceship and get away from planet Earth. I also worked in marketing, advertising, and public relations, where I found even more material for the book. Now self-employed, I enjoy writing stories where annoying people get abducted by aliens (something I will do for you on my blog, in fact), slamming on the brakes for yard sale signs, and wasting time on social media, where I find inspiration for a sequel to Stupid Humans every day.
I have two college degrees, neither of which is worth the paper it’s printed on.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My publisher is going to turn Stupid Humans into a serial, for their Killer Serials series, which will be released early next year. It’s very interesting to watch your novel turned into a script for a graphic novel. Someone has to turn the things you described in the book into pictures, and it’s really fascinating to watch that unfold.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing off and on since I was a kid. I always liked making up stories. I remember I started submitting stories to magazines when I was about 8 or 9. The thing was, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to see my writing published. I was always entering a contest where the winner won a prize or cash or something. I was always hearing “can’t afford it” from my parents, and I always wanted to have the nice stuff I never had (and still don’t). But I just got a bunch of rejection letters from all these magazines that probably had thousands of entrants, because I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who wanted to win the hot new toy or the cash prize.
So my dad thought he could be helpful and called the local newspaper, and somehow convinced them to let me write a weekly column. I know he meant well, but he just signed me up to write for free. So I got signed up to do a bunch of work I didn’t always want to do every week, and I never got the prize money I wanted. Plus my parents were always telling me what to write, and I hated that. Eventually I got burned out and quit.
It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I decided to start writing again. After years of working in retail, I had so many sarcastic comments I couldn’t say at work because I needed the lousy ten bucks an hour. So I decided to take them and start writing. But this time I just wanted to write what I wanted to write and not have anyone telling me what to say.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know. I guess I’ve always considered myself one.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Stupid Humans was inspired by my time working in hell—I mean retail, where I encountered stupid humans every day and was forced to be fake nice to them. After a particularly long day of dealing with dummies (including one who wanted to know if a six-pack of boxes had more than one box in it) for very low pay, I was running on the treadmill and thinking about how I wanted to move all the stupid people to another planet. Then I realized that, logistically, it would make more sense for the reasonably intelligent humans to leave and let the stupid humans have Earth, since there are a lot more idiots in the world.
I began thinking about what an interesting setting that would be for a book — what would happen if all the intelligent people left Earth? Better yet, what if they all left Earth thousands of years ago? Might explain a few things.
That brings us to the book’s main character, Samantha, a journalist who travels through a wormhole and meets humanity’s more intelligent, long-lost relatives, the People. She discovers they left Earth thousands of years ago to escape the idiots, and decides to stay with them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the Earth humans and the People to be on the verge of a war. Unwilling to return to Earth and plagued by anti-Human sentiment on New Atlantis, Samantha moves to the space station closest to the wormhole, where Human (and People) stupidity lurks around every corner.
A peacekeeping event ends with participants lobbing peace symbols at each other, the station’s Copacetic Communications director needs help finding a word for war that doesn’t sound too much like conflict, and a beer company executive plans to market his product as a way to make peace between the Humans and the People. Meanwhile, the Human/People conflict worsens with an increase in violence from both sides, causing a growing concern for the security of the wormhole—and its closest neighbor. Of course, politicians from both sides decide they can provide a diplomatic solution—or at least apologize for forgetting idiots can be hypocrites, too—by holding peace talks on the station.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Well, I think of my style as sarcastic more than anything. I write to express my sarcasm and snark.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It just came to me. I thought it summed up the book—and most of reality—pretty well.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Dealing with idiots is a tough job. Anyone in a retail or customer service job or who has to deal with the public should get paid quadruple whatever they’re making, just for that.
Also, sometimes even smart people can do stupid things. In the book, the People are very smart but it’s also sort of their undoing, because they’re too smart to even anticipate some of the things the Humans do.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, unfortunately I’ve never been off planet Earth, although I’ve always wanted to visit another solar system. In fact, me next book was inspired by my time in retail, as well—specifically, all the times I wished aliens would abduct me and get me out of that stupid store. Unfortunately, that never happened, either.
I did spend some time working in journalism, which sadly didn’t pay any more than retail, but I was able to use some of those experiences when writing about Samantha, who is also a journalist in the book. I have also worked in marketing and public relations, something we see in the book when Haylea tries to improve Space Station Five Alpha’s image. There’s a scene where she throws a peace rally, and everything is going great until someone starts a fight, and before she knows it everyone is throwing peace symbols at each other. That scene wasn’t based on anything that happened to me, but it did remind me of Black Friday in retail—everyone going nuts and beating each other with ten dollar blenders.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I started reading Stephen King when I was about 8. My mom was horrified, but it never gave me nightmares. As a writer, I like the little quirky details he puts in his books. It’s the things that seem real because you know you’ve see someone do that in real life. I always liked that about his books, and I try to write in a realistic way like that whenever I can.
I also read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books when I was about 14. I loved how they were science fiction, but they were also really, really funny. I think the humorous tone was a big influence on me.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have so many favorite authors. Douglas Adams and his use of humor, Stephen King for his realistic character quicks, John Grisham for writing about ordinary people in unusual situations.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My writing critique groups, and that includes my local Nanowrimo group. I actually wrote Stupid Humans for Nano. I started it in November of 2012 and I finished it in November…of 2014. (Hey, they never said it had to be November of the same year…)
I may not always succeed at writing 50,000 words in November (of the same year), but I enjoy all the other writers I’ve met and become friends with through Nanowrimo.
My critique groups are great, too. They’ve given me a lot of good advice to improve my writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I hope to one day. Right now, I work for myself, buying crap on clearance and reselling it online. I go to yard sales (do not tailgate me, I will slam on the brakes at the first sight of a neon sign with “yard sale” printed on it), clearance sales, discount stores, flea markets, whatever, and flip what I buy. That’s my career.
I hope one day I will actually make money as a writer, though.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Honestly, I don’t think so. I did a LOT of editing. For one thing, it was a long book, and while I was writing it I started going to my critique groups, where I learned a lot of things that improved my writing. But that meant I had to go back and change things earlier in the book. Plus I’m a pantser, so I often write stuff that I really don’t need in the final version of the book.
I really lost count of how many times I went through that book before I finally sent it to my editor (who was very, very patient, and I appreciate that). It was at least ten. Maybe fifteen. So I changed A LOT from the first draft to the final draft.
But sure, every now and then I’ll think of something and have the thought, “Oh, I should have written that in that scene where this happens…”
One thing my editor told me is that you’re always going to want to go back and change something, even after the book is published. I think he’s right about that, there will always be little things I want to tweak, but really, there’s nothing major I wish I could change.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always liked to make up stories. I come from a family that bends the truth a little, and I was always very creative. I think my dissatisfaction with reality and the truth has always driven me to make up a story I like better.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. Here’s the prologue for Stupid Humans:
“What’s another word for war that doesn’t sound too much like conflict?” Haylea asked the automated bartender at the Wormhole in the Wall.
“Would you like a list of synonyms for war? I can list them in order of—”
“No, I already had my AI pull up a list. What I want is a word that doesn’t sound like it means something contentious, even though, you know, wars and conflicts and almost-wars and things we refuse to call wars because it would sound bad actually are all kind of contentious.”
The bartender hologram blinked at her. “I’m afraid there is no logical solution to your problem. You want a word that doesn’t mean what it means. Can I get you another drink? Usually when patrons start asking questions like this, another beverage makes them feel better.”
“No, I want a word that doesn’t sound like it means what it means, which is why an AI will never be a Director of Copacetic Communications.”
“Then I guess you have job security.” The holo gave her one of those creepy human-impersonator grins that never quite looked right.
“I’m not so sure about that, but three drinks should be enough for lunch. Just get me the total.” She looked around the empty bar, then out through the windows onto the almost-deserted concourse. Of course there were no holes in the wall—that would be pretty dangerous on a station floating in space—and the wormhole was a safe distance away, although still close enough that tourists could capture pictures through the wall screens. Well, they could if they visited The Wormhole in the Wall, which they hadn’t lately.
After swiping her finger to settle the bill, she walked out of the bar and drifted past the other empty restaurants and businesses—Earth Hearth, Two Solar Sisters Bistro, The Star Bar. Just months ago they were full of tourists and now—nothing. No surprise why her boss, Woolerton, wanted her to make the don’t-call-it-a-war sound better. She quickened her step, eager to jump in the elevator and leave all reminders of her failed marketing strategy for the station behind. After downing a few Solar Slushes, she wasn’t walking in a perfectly straight line, but who was around to notice?
Today, of course, not one, not two, but four people were around. Fortunately, none of them was remotely interested in Haylea or how effectively her central nervous system responded to the recently lowered artificial gravity—until recently it had been set to New Atlantis normal, but her boss had reduced it slightly to save on energy costs.
“I will never forgive you for this!” screamed a small blonde woman being hauled down the strip by two Guard officers. They were trailed by a tall, slouching guy who kept looking around as if he expected a crowd to gather. Fortunately he was looking back at the screaming blonde as they passed Haylea, who had paused in an alcove.
“Samantha, please,” the sloucher said. “I’m doing this for your own good, and one day you’ll see that—”
“My own good? You used your political clout to have me forcibly removed from my home for my own good?”
Political clout? Who was this guy? Some low level politician Haylea had tried to get drunk at a party so she could talk him into voting for lower import tariffs? He did look familiar.
“Sammy, listen,” he continued. “It wasn’t safe for you on New Atlantis—or here. The only reasonable solution is for us to go back to Earth.”
Back to Earth? Haylea shuffled out of the alcove, no longer worried anyone would see her, and stared at the group as they continued toward the elevator. She couldn’t tell about the blonde woman, but the sloucher didn’t look like someone from Earth.
Something flickered in her mind. Something about all the Humans fleeing back to their planet since one of them started this stupid war-like situation. Well, officially they didn’t start it, but they pissed off the people who did, so it was pretty much their fault. That was one of the things she’d drank to during her liquid lunch—the stupid Humans starting this stupid not-really-a-war and tanking her tourism business, because no one wanted to go through the wormhole and visit the people who were trying to kill them—and, embarrassingly, doing a good enough job that they hadn’t been stopped yet.
The wormhole! That was where she knew the sloucher from—he was that Brad guy, host of some news commentary show, who kept babbling that the wormhole might collapse at any moment, leaving everyone stranded where they were. He was a real contributor to the station’s bad image, too.
She ambled after the group, squinting at the blonde. It was hard to tell, but she could have been a journalist who’d debated with Brad about the possibility of someone finally getting faster-than-light travel to work. Brad supported government grants for those working on the drive, which he said was the wormhole of the future or something like that. Haylea agreed, but wished he could make his point without telling everyone the wormhole was going to blow up. That really wrecked tourism on the station closest to the damn thing.
“You and I are through!” the blonde screamed over her shoulder at Brad.
“When we get to Earth, you’ll change your mind.” He nodded as if trying to make himself believe it.
“I will never change my mind, and you’re going to pay for this!”
That was the last thing Haylea heard as the group boarded the elevator. She watched as the numbers moved down, finally stopping at the station’s bottom floor, where the loading docks were located. Brad must have called in some serious favors to get his girlfriend deported to Earth. Hopefully he hadn’t called in all his favors, because a functional, widely-available FTL drive might be the only thing that could revive the tourism business here.
With a sigh, Haylea boarded one of the elevators herself. Unfortunately, she had to go back to her office and pretend to work on a plan to bring customers back to Five Alpha.
She really tried, but no one wanted to visit the station closest to the wormhole that connected New Atlantis and its various colonies to its new enemy, Earth. Ever since that idiot blew up one stupid ship, supposedly just because his girlfriend dumped him, and some other idiots overreacted and blew up a couple Human ships, and the whole debacle rapidly degenerated into a situation neither government could control, her business had also rapidly degenerated.
Not that it stopped the Humans. Those people continued to hang around her station, scaring off the few customers she had left. In the past, she’d been happy for their business, but now they were more of a liability than an asset. There weren’t enough of them to keep her business afloat, but there were just enough to give the depot a reputation for being a Human hangout.
They weren’t dangerous. In fact, most of the Humans she’d met were just as annoyed and inconvenienced by the not-really-a-war as she was. Unfortunately, the People had misinterpreted the first disaster as an act of aggression and conducted its own acts of aggression, and then the Humans retaliated, both sides claiming “ self-defence.” Now it was a big mess that both governments refused to call a war.
Haylea arrived at her office and flopped down into her chair. After checking her messages, she determined there were no emergencies she could do anything about, and settled in for her usual afternoon nap. She had almost drifted off when something tugged at the back of her mind.
Humans! Her eyes popped open and she sat up so fast the room tilted a bit, and she remembered how many Solar Slushes she’d had. No matter, she had a good idea.
“Draft a message to Woolerton,” she told her AI. “I have an idea for a new Copacetic Communications campaign.”
“No. Absolutely not.” Samantha stared down Dr. Anderson as they stood in the dingy infirmary of the ship that was supposed to carry her and Brad back to Earth. Anderson had a husky build and a round face that made her think of a pug dog. At the moment, his head was tilted in a way that intensified her mental comparison. He looked at her like she was crazy.
“Are you crazy?” he asked finally.
“Not anymore.” She shifted her gaze to the data pad he’d shoved in her face. “I’m not signing that.”
“Samantha, baby, you have to sign it.” Brad leaned against the door, thumping his head back every so often as if her refusal made him want to bang his head against the wall.
“No, baby, I don’t,” she snapped. “You can have me hauled out of my home on some trumped-up charge, you can get your government friends to deport me, but you can’t have me put in cryo against my will.”
Brad shoved off from the wall and took a tentative step toward her. “I thought by the time we got here you’d have calmed down and realized this was the best thing for you.” He reached for her hand.
She snatched it away. “I. Am. Not. Going. Back. To. Earth!”
Brad scampered back to his place by the door.
“Look, Samantha….” The doctor fixed her with a pug-dog-glaring-at-a-cat look. “This ship leaves in three hours. I don’t have time to argue with you. Either you sign this form, or I leave you here on Five Alpha. Remember, this is the last Earthbound ship leaving for who knows how long, considering the current… situation. Now, are you sure you don’t want to sign the consent form?”
“I’m sure.” Samantha’s eyes drilled holes into Brad as she said it.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Anderson asked an hour later, as Brad sat on a cold examination table and waited to get even colder.
“I’m positive. Put me in cryo right now. You have my instructions.” Brad shoved the signed consent form and travel order back at the doctor. Could Anderson tell he was terrified his plan wouldn’t work and not at all sure he wanted to do this?
Anderson stared at him for a moment and finally took the pad. “You know….” He ambled back to the row of cryocans. “You still have a few minutes to reconsider.”
“I’ve made my decision.”
“But what if your girlfriend doesn’t follow you in? Are you sure you want to go to Earth, a planet you’ve never visited before, by yourself, in the current political climate?”
Brad took a deep breath. “She’s only refusing to go back because she doesn’t want me to leave my home for her. Once I’m in cryo, and you can’t wake me up or take me off the ship, she’ll join me.”
“You’re sure of that?” Anderson pushed buttons on the nearest can. Samantha called those things coffins, and suddenly Brad saw the resemblance—it did look like a sleek, white coffin with blinking lights. He’d never been in cryo before, and despite everything he’d read about how safe it was, the prospect of spending months in that thing was a little nerve-wracking. But cryosleep was necessary to protect travelers from the potentially damaging physiological effects of traveling through a wormhole, and a trip through the Divide was necessary to get to Earth. Besides, cryo had been used safely for years, and he had nothing to worry about.
Screw that, as Samantha liked to say. He was terrified.
“I’m sure,” he said with as much confidence as he could fake.
“Her reasoning, as you’ve described it, sounds right.” Anderson unlocked the narc box and removing a dose of anesthetic, which he slapped into a port at one end of the cryocan. “But there are a few problems.”
“Problems? What do you mean?” Brad swallowed, his throat dry.
“You know she had her medchip locked, right? And the only restriction she put on it was no cryosleep?”
“She did what? Why would she do that?”
Anderson shrugged, leaned against the can and stroked his chin. “You know the usual reasons people restrict a medchip, but nobody puts a cryo lock on it for moral or religious reasons. It can’t be construed as hurting anyone else, and you still have a heartbeat—even if it is extremely slow—so you’re not technically dead. People feel much more secure about their beliefs in the afterlife when they don’t have to come back from the dead.”
“Then why?” Brad gripped the table. The whole world was falling away from him, and they were still under AG.
“Well, I really can’t speculate. But, you know, some people do.”
There was only one other reason a person might have a no-cryo lock. “You mean she might have pissed someone off? Like a criminal who might want to put her out of commission for an extended period of time without actually committing murder?”
“Some people place cryo restrictions for that reason. Your girlfriend is a journalist—like you, right?”
Brad frowned. “Uh, yes. But she writes features about seeing this place from the Human perspective. She doesn’t cover crime.”
“Again, I can’t speculate.” Anderson shuffled over to his desk, where he stared down at a data pad for a moment. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, because it’s confidential—sort of like what I just told you—but it does affect the treatment you’re about to choose for yourself, so I’m making an exception. And I didn’t tell you any of this.”
“Of course. What is it?” He had no idea Samantha had so many secrets. What now?
“She placed that restriction on her medchip five years ago, shortly after she arrived here from Earth. That means she was damn sure she didn’t want to go back a long time before she met you.”
Brad sat, unable to speak, for what seemed like an eternity. Anderson said nothing more. After a few seconds, he sat at his desk and busied himself shuffling stuff around.
Brad stood and went to the view screen to look out on the space station. The brightly lit curve of Five Alpha cut through the blackness like an enormous crescent moon. Once he went into cryo, the ship would pull away from the station and head for the wormhole, whether Samantha joined him or not.
But of course she would. There might be lots of reasons for the block on her chip. She could undo it now—all she had to do was sign some paperwork, and convince the doctor and his medical scanners she wasn’t making the decision under duress. If the scanners determined she was stressed, even the doctor couldn’t override the block—that was what prevented criminals from abusing cryostorage.
Was she really serious, all those times she’d insisted she wasn’t staying for him? She did say she hated Earth, that it was crowded and polluted and full of stupid Humans, and she hadn’t wanted to go back since the day she’d arrived here. Could that really be the reason she was stubbornly refusing to return, even in the midst of a war that made it dangerous for a Human to remain on this side of the Divide? Or was there a more sinister reason, like an angry criminal waiting over there?
So, wait, did that mean she didn’t really love him?
Brad jerked away from the window. This was ridiculous. Of course she wasn’t mixed up with Earth criminals, and of course she loved him. In fact, she loved him enough to join him even if she didn’t really like Earth. And if she didn’t, well, surely the people of Earth would admire him for trying. Maybe he’d even meet someone new there—
But that was not going to happen. He shook his head, trying to clear the thought away. Samantha was going to join him in cryo, and once they were on Earth she’d forgive him for manipulating her into it. He was sure of it. He hoped.
“Put me into cryo,” he told Anderson.
“He did what?” Samantha stared at the pug dog face again. After his consultation with Brad, Anderson had joined her in the infirmary waiting room, where their only company was a cleaner bot drifting over the already-spotless carpet.
The doctor shrugged. “I told him it was a bad idea. But he was convinced that if he was already under and slated to go to Earth, you’d go with him.”
“That son of a bitch!”
“This may be none of my business, but I really think he’s trying to help you.”
“I didn’t ask him to do that. In fact, I explicitly told him—”
“You’re not going back to Earth, yes, I know.” Anderson made what Samantha took as an attempt at a look of fatherly concern. “There’s nothing I can do now. He signed the papers to go to Earth before being put in cryo. I can’t take him out against his will any more than I could put you in a can against yours.”
Inching closer to the door, Samantha shook her head, more to shake away the rising feelings of panic than to communicate disagreement. “Fine, then get his cryocontainer off this ship!”
“Unfortunately, you don’t get to decide what happens to his cryocontainer.” The doctor shoved the form at her again. “Legally, I have to respect his wishes. Now, you have two choices. You can go with him, and the two of you can wake up a few days out from that pretty blue planet and finish up your argument. Or, you can stay here and let this guy go to a hostile planet by himself because he made the mistake of trying to help your stubborn ass. What’s it going to be?”
Samantha’s heart pounded. How could her disagreement with Brad have spiraled into this situation? Typical Brad, thinking the whole galaxy revolved around him, that she would forget everything she’d said about never seeing Earth again just to be with him. He was an arrogant asshole, and she loved him.
And he was going to Earth with or without her.
She pushed the pad back at Anderson. “When you wake him up, tell him to send me a postcard from Earth.”
With that, she turned around, grabbed her bag, and walked out the door.
“We’ll be in dock until tomorrow, when you change your mind,” the doctor called after her.
She did not look back.
Haylea couldn’t believe how well her latest Copacetic Communications stunt had turned out. To be fair, the Travel to Exotic Lands theme she’d tried last month had been poorly planned—every new Human attack made visiting a station close to the wormhole seem less exotic and more neurotic. Then the luxury angle failed because her funding from corporate—her mother’s travel company—abruptly dried up when the non-war’s effect on the travel industry cost Go Galactic a fortune.
But the “Can’t We All Just Ignore Each Other Peace Rally” on the main concourse was a huge success. She’d put out a hurried press advisory yesterday, and this morning people showed up toting signs, wearing t-shirts with peace-mongering messages—”Togetherness is overrated” was her favorite—singing songs, and reciting poetry. Some of it was borrowed from ancient Human culture, as one of the head chanters explained to her.
She’d made a deal with some of the station’s artists and clothing designers to carry their crap—er, memorabilia—in the concourse gift shop. One of them had hastily produced dozens of plastic “peace symbols” from Earth, strange circle-triangle symbols that she saw as an ironic reminder of how badly the humans had failed to establish peace on their own planet. Unfortunately, the damn things were selling like Carvalian beer, so she pretended to love them.
Naturally, she was thrilled when Farley, the head chanter, invited her to host a Prayer for Peace on the concourse. Public praying was more of a Human thing, but that was okay—showing support for the Humans was acceptable as long as it was part of the “Let’s All Just Ignore Each Other” campaign. She was helping both sides focus on the bigger goal.
So she found herself on a stage constructed from cafeteria tables, holding hands with Farley and mumbling to “any and all greater powers who might or might not be”—no one wanted to offend anyone—for a peaceful end to the conflict. She wasn’t really religious, but she was genuinely interested in ending this stupid war.
I’m a force for peace, she mused as she watched the other chanters. About ten percent were Human, and hopefully they’d remember her station as the place where peace between their peoples started. Wouldn’t helping bring peace to a warring sector of the galaxy look great on her résumé in case Go Galactic had to close Five Alpha?
As she considered how best to articulate that achievement in a job interview without sounding conceited, she saw a small blonde Human stride purposefully from the elevator, start toward the cafeteria, then pause, as if she wasn’t sure where to go. Something tickled the back of Haylea’s brain. Where did she know that woman from?
“Great crowd, isn’t it?” her assistant, Clark, whispered in her ear. “Hey, is that another Human showing up to make peace with us?” He thrust his chin in the direction of the blonde.
“I guess so. She looks familiar,” Haylea whispered back, hoping no one in the prayer circle would notice. Fortunately, they were all chanting pretty loudly.
The blonde turned around a few times, surveying the area, then shifted her overstuffed bag to the other shoulder and headed back toward the elevator. Of course! That was the woman the guards had hauled off to some ship the other afternoon. What happened to her politician boyfriend? Had she finally dumped him?
Was a young, attractive, and influential politician now recently unattached?
What a great power couple Haylea and that attractive guy from the other night would be. Maybe he could feature her on his show—
“Isn’t that Samantha, the reporter from Glass?” Clark nudged Haylea and pointed at the blonde.
“That’s right!” Haylea’s train of thought veered away from the talk show host. That must be why the Human journalist was here at the peace rally. Finally, one of the news nets was sending a real reporter—not just a news-collecting drone, but a real person. Well, Human, but that was okay.
“I’m sure she’ll want to interview the main organizer of this event.” Haylea smoothed her hair and started toward the reporter. The other peacemakers were too busy chanting to notice.
Samantha was interviewing a shop owner, probably about the positive economic effect the “Can’t We All Just Ignore Each Other Peace Rally” was having on her business.
“We’ve got five-cred pitchers of beer all day long, to help keep everyone in a peaceful mood,” the woman practically screamed the word peaceful.
Haylea walked casually toward the two, not sure when she would enter the shot. Reporters usually had micro-cameras embedded in their clothing, and often roving, insect-sized camera drones flying around, too. Those were conspicuous, so most of the reporters Haylea was in the habit of plying with beer said they used them only when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, it was impossible to know just how wide a shot the cameras were taking, so Haylea kept a perfect smile plastered on her face and tried to look like she had no idea she was on camera.
“Here’s the person who made this all possible.” The restaurant owner grabbed Haylea by the arm and shoved her toward Samantha. “Haylea here is the reason I’m able to offer five-credit pitchers of beer all night!”
“Thank you for talking to me, Sheila.” Samantha’s face was slack with boredom. “I’m sure you have to get back into your restaurant and keep the beer flowing, so I won’t keep you.”
The restaurant owner bustled off, screaming over her shoulder about five-cred pitchers.
“I’m working on an independent piece for Glass.” Samantha’s dark eyes looked Haylea up and down in one swift glance. “You organized this event?”
“Absolutely! As the manager of this station, I felt strongly—”
For half a second, Haylea thought she heard a very loud thunderclap, because that was what it sounded like. Then she remembered there were no thunderclaps on a space station, because there was no thunder on a space station. There were only very loud explosions. The noise went on, deafening, with no sign of stopping.
The praying, on the other hand, ground to a complete halt. Everyone looked around at the ceiling, the walls, the floor for the source of the noise. Samantha gripped the nearest table with one hand, her eyes sweeping the crowd of people.
Haylea looked around, frantic, trying to recall if they’d skimped on any safety measures lately due to cost. She sure hoped not. But then she realized the station was holding together, and the rumbling sounded like it was coming from outside—but how could that be? Sound didn’t carry in space.
Well, it did if something crashed into the station’s hull and the vibration of the impact carried through the walls.
“Oh, no!” Clark stumbled over to her, waving his data pad. Why hadn’t she been looking at hers? What was she doing?
He shoved it in her face. “Look at the news!”
Haylea stared at the up-to-the-minute newsbrief, reported by roaming news automatons faster than any living, breathing reporter could even ask what was happening.
Ship explodes departing Space Station Five Alpha. Due to the nature of the explosion, natural causes are deemed unlikely (12% probability based on all available information). The most likely explanation for an intentional explosion is another act of aggression (probability of Human origin, 55%; probability of People origin, 45%).
For reasons Haylea didn’t quite understand, the second the shaking stopped, everyone ran for the exits. Hands pulled apart, feet pounded the floor in heels and soft soles, and signs fluttered to the ground as their holders fled.
“This door is locked!” someone screamed from the end of the concourse.
“So is this one!” Clark had joined the fleeing crowd. She’d thought better of him than that, but he’d been dating a Human, and while stupidity wasn’t contagious, people sometimes picked up each other’s habits.
Farley, running through the crowd in his “Peace for peace’s sake” t-shirt, threw the first peace symbol. Samantha said something Haylea couldn’t hear to Sheila, as she flounced out the door of her restaurant and surveyed the scene. Sheila grabbed for the nearest emergency exit door, jostling Samantha, who stumbled into Farley.
“This one’s locked too!” Sheila bellowed.
“It locks automatically after an impact to protect the inner part of the station in case of….”Haylea No one could hear her over the noisy crowd, and finishing the sentence with “a hull breach” would only worsen the panic, anyway.
“This is your fault, Human!” Farley yelled at Samantha. “I bet you caused whatever just happened, didn’t you? Your people can’t stand peace.”
Two minutes earlier he’d been holding hands with two Earthers and singing some old Human song, the lyrics of which sounded a lot like, “Come buy bombs.”
“Oh, that’s great!” yelled a Human at the back of the crowd. “Some peace organizer you are.”
“Seriously? You helped organize this display?” Samantha sneered at Farley.
“Not anymore!” He slammed his peace symbol onto the ground. Due to the lightweight plastic and the lightweight gravity, it bounced off the floor and flew up into the crowd, smacking Clark in the face.
Sheila shoved Samantha up against the wall, grabbing the collar of her black jacket. Was that messing up one of the camera shots? “Time for you to stop asking questions and start answering them. What do you know about this Human attack? Which of your people blew up that ship, and how stupid was their reasoning? Or were you in on it, Human?”
“Leave her alone, or I’ll make sure you stop getting an Economic Crisis discount on your rent.” Haylea hoped to come off as a beacon of peace instead of a miserly manager. It was so hard to gauge these things before they hit the news nets.
Sheila let go of Samantha and stomped back into her restaurant, slamming the door on other frantic fleers, but the Human/People clash was far from over.
While Haylea yelled at the crowd to calm down, every peace symbol in the room was lobbed at someone. Fortunately, the cheap plastic limited the damage, but a few pieces managed to leave red marks. One found its way to the mouth of a shop owner just as he yelled, “You people are sub-Human!” The peace sign drove his lip into a nearby tooth, and blood trickled down onto his “Give peace a fighting chance” t-shirt.
What was she doing? She was supposed to be in charge here, and she was gaping at this idiocy like, well, an idiot. Remembering her data pad, she called up the emergency preparedness plan she’d signed off on after Clark wrote it last month. She hadn’t actually read the plan, so hopefully Clark knew what he was doing.
Going through the emergency procedures—screaming at engineering to seal off the departure dock, ensuring the station’s AI had sent a distress signal to nearby ships, checking reports for life support systems in the danger zone, sighing with relief when none of them were—Haylea realized she was a lousy person. While she was genuinely concerned about the safety of everyone on Five Alpha, another part of her brain pictured the whole place going bankrupt. As the Humans and non-Humans ran around, screaming, crying, and generally melting into masses of useless hysteria, it was clear that no Copacetic Communications campaign could repair the damage the explosion had just done to her station.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Figuring out how to finish what I’ve started. I don’t outline, so I really just make things up as I go along. Sometimes I have to run with a bad idea if I don’t have any good ones. I tell myself I can always change it later.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, travel is expensive. I do some local events, mostly at libraries. I love meeting readers.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher, Oghma Creative Media. I really like the cover a lot with the space station and the green spine.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Wondering if I’d ever finish. I’m still surprised I did. It was such a long book—the first draft was about 176,000 words. (The final version was around 142,000—I told you I did some serious editing!) I think if I’d realized how much more I actually had to write, I might have given up.
But when the store I worked for closed in November of 2014, I figured now was the time. If I didn’t finish my book when I had the time, I’d never do it. My last day at work was November 15. I finished on the 28th, I think.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned writing is hard work, and half the time you don’t know if what you’re writing is good or crap or somewhere in between.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
I always kind of pictured Stupid Humans as a TV show. Don’t laugh, but I wanted to play Samantha. I pictured my friends playing some of the other roles, like Dr. Vance and Haylea.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
First, finish the book. Then edit the book. Don’t just go by what you think. Ask other people, preferably other writers, or at least people who read the kind of book you wrote. If you can find a writers’ critique group in your area, I highly recommend it. Mine has helped me a lot.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my book or my blog. Also, I love hearing from my readers. Please drop by my blog or social media links any time:
Book Link on Amazon:
Author Page on Amazon:
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Gears by Gordon Bonnet. It’s a really good, fast-paced story about a seemingly nice older couple with a plan to take over the world.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably one of the Berenstein Bears books, or maybe a Sesame Street book.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m not much of a crier. I laugh at the ridiculousness of things. I’m also big on laughing at irony, which I see a lot of. Of course, I also laugh at sarcasm and snark, two of my favorite things.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Oprah, so I could get my book in her club, LOL. What writer doesn’t want that?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
The last page of my work-in-progress, ending wherever I left off.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I watch a lot of TV, I run, and I know a lot of Star Trek trivia. If that was a marketable skill, I’d be so much more financially solvent.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Like I said, I’m a big Star Trek fan. Right now I’m watching Timeless, which is a new series about time travel that I like a lot.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Chocolate. I swear I eat healthy food too. I eat a lot of watermelon and cantaloupe. Black is my favorite color. I love Bruno Mars.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would really have liked to have been born rich and lived a life of leisure, but that didn’t work out. Lottery winner? That’s my dream career.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Book Link on Amazon:
Author Page on Amazon:
V.R. Craft always heard you should write about what you know, so she decided to write a book called Stupid Humans, drawing on her previous experience working in retail and her subsequent desire to get away from planet Earth. She has also worked in marketing, advertising, and public relations, where she found even more material for Stupid Humans. Now self-employed, she enjoys the contact sport of shopping at clearance sales, slamming on the brakes for yard sale signs, and wasting time on social media, where she finds inspiration for a sequel to Stupid Humans every day.