eSpec Books interviews Robert Waters, contributor to the anthology Horns and Halos edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: Please tell us a little something of your story.

RW: “A Bluebird from Aspen” is basically a continuation of my love/interest in Native American culture. It tells the story of a young woman named Chimalis (which means “Bluebird” in the Zuni language), who finds herself stranded on a dark highway in Colorado. To survive, she must use all her wits and personal skills. She’s given assistance from a nice old lady, but not everything is as it seems.

eSB: Angels and Devils are a common theme in fiction. How did you make yours stand out? How much of a challenge was it?

RW: Well, by picking a Zuni myth (see below) for “A Bluebird from Aspen,” I was hoping that it’d be unique by default, even if other authors chose a Native American theme for their stories. By setting it on a dark highway in Colorado, based upon the normal, everyday tragedy of having one’s car break down, and then throw in the Good Samaritan impulse that most of us possess (a la Stephen King’s “Mile 81”) , the story builds from the mundane to the terrifying very quickly.

eSB: Is your story based on particular lore or legend, or did you take the broad concept and run with it?

RW: “A Bluebird from Aspen” is based on the Atasaya, a Zuni cannibal demon. The story itself is loosely based on two Zuni stories (“Atasaya, the Cannibal Demon” and “The Rabbit Huntress and Her Adventures”), which showcase how the Atasaya lures his/her victims to their deaths by taking on the shape of people that the victims can trust.

eSB: Is your story set in an existing universe or fresh and new for this collection?

RW: This is a brand, spanking new universe, and hopefully one I can continue writing in with other stories.

eSB: Are your characters here ones that you plan to revisit?

RW: Absolutely, if the opportunity arises. Chimalis is a great character. “A Bluebird From Aspen” only begins to scratch the surface of who she is and what she’s all about.

eSB: Is this your first time writing for a themed anthology, or have you done so before? What draws you to such projects?

RW: No, I’ve written for themed anthologies on a number of occasions. What draws me to them are the themes themselves. In my experience, most themed anthologies are based on some kind of real-world element that you can then research for a story. For instance, Horns and Halos gave me an opportunity to search for demon figures in Native American mythology. It didn’t take me long to find the Atasaya, and once I did and started reading further into its myth, I knew there was a story there to write.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

RW: Well, if you enjoy reading about Native Americans and their culture, I’d certainly recommend that you look for my DEVIL DANCERS, the entire collection of my Victorio “Tomorrow’s Wind” Nantan stories, published by E-Spec Books…

In addition, my latest novel, THE SWORDS OF EL CID, is out from Winged Hussar Publishing…

Please also check out my series The Mask Cycle, which began with THE MASKS OF MIRADA, published by Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press…

And finally, I write a lot of stories set in Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Alternate history series published by Baen Books. My first novel set in the series, 1636: CALABAR’S WAR, co-authored with Charles E Gannon, will be out in April 2021…

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

RW: You can check out my website at…

Robert Waters 2020

For the past twenty-five years, Robert E. Waters has served in the gaming industry, first as a Managing Editor at The Avalon Hill Game Company, and then as a producer, designer, and writer for several computer game studios. Robert has been publishing fiction professionally since 2003, with his first sale to Weird Tales, “The Assassin’s Retirement Party.” Since then, he has sold over 75 stories to various online and print magazines and anthologies, including the online magazine The Grantville Gazette, which publishes stories set in Baen Book’s best-selling alternate history Ring of Fire series.

Over the years, Robert has contributed to many E-Spec Books anthologies, including their wildly popular Military SF series, Defending the Future. His latest is a collection of his DEVIL DANCERS mil-SF stories, which is now available on Amazon.

Robert currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife Beth, their son Jason, and their two kittens Snow and Ash.

Check out his website.

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