Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m R. E. Stearns, a full-time author (for however long that lasts) writing in Denver, Colorado. The Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy, soon to conclude with book 3, Gravity of a Distant Sun, is about two women whose best hope for making a life together is to leave Earth and join a pirate crew.
That’s what they do in book 1, Barbary Station, although getting stranded on an AI-controlled collapsing space station complicates matters with explosions and killer robots. In book 2, Mutiny at Vesta, their new crew returns to their home base and finds that a megacorporation has taken over the whole planetoid while they were gone. Over the course of several heists and betrayals, they free themselves, but the fallout drives our heroines to their final stand in book 3, Gravity of a Distant Sun. They’ll have to escape dangerous AIs and interplanetary law enforcement or face indefinite prison sentences that could separate them forever.
Do you have tips on choosing titles?
Patterns in your titles may be helpful, and they may cause a lot of stress! I started Gravity of a Distant Sun with a bland title, but my editor saved me from using it. Once I gave the first title up, I realized that I’d created a distinct pattern with the first two books in the trilogy: three-syllable word ending in Y + a major setting. Fortunately, free online rhyming dictionaries with advanced search options let me list potential first words which fit the pattern. Pay attention to patterns you may have created, imagine how your book will look on a shelf next to others, and choose your titles accordingly.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
In my opinion there are two kinds of negative reviews. The most common is “This story does not unfold the way I wanted it to.” I told the story in a way that felt right to me. If it didn’t turn out the way those readers preferred, it’s too late to change it! The book is published. Also, I write about certain things in my own way. My stories will never include a cast of straight characters or multiple pages describing a single setting. People who want more of those things have just discovered that my books are not for them. That’s fine.
The second type of negative review says, “This specific thing happened in the story and here’s why it didn’t work for me,” and those I love. I can match what I wrote to a particular reader’s reaction. For example, readers had a mixed reaction to misgendering the pirate captain in the first book. The misgendering was minimal but present, and some nonbinary readers found it painful to spend time in a future where that was still a problem. Other nonbinary readers said it was an appropriate example of mistakes cis folks make. Because I read these informative reviews, I got more creative about how characters discussed gender in the next two books.
What are your plans for future books?
I’m writing a novel in a new universe which explores an unusual first contact scenario. If you’re tired of humanoid aliens and “utopias” with predictable dark sides, this might be the story for you!