Today I am interviewing Betsy Dornbusch, author of the new science-fiction, fantasy novel, The Silver Scar.
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DJ: Hi Betsy! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Betsy Dornbusch: Hi, Thanks for having me.
I’m a SFF writer with five novels, three novellas, and a bunch of short stories. I live in Colorado with my husband, two teenage kids, two dogs, and a ball python called Vatican. I like to go to conventions, punk rock concerts, travel, snowboard, and watch football. Go Broncos!
DJ: What is The Silver Scar about?
Betsy: It’s about a Christian soldier who tries to stop a crusade in 2160 Boulder Colorado. The US balkanized after protracted wars over scarce resources. In Colorado Territory the Christian Church runs the walled cities. Christians live relatively safely inside and anyone of other religions live outside the walls. Trinidad is a converted Wiccan who abandoned magic and his coven as a child to soldier for the Church. But when his Bishop turns up with a silver scar she says is proof of Heavenly orders to crusade, Trinidad knows it’s a lie. He knows where the scar really came from: an otherworldly graveyard filled with silver sand that heals wounds, reached only with Wiccan magic. But proving her lies means committing heresy and being executed for treason. So he has to choose between friends and enemies, and heresy and faith to try to stop the war from happening.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Silver Scar?
Betsy: I’ve read a lot of post apocalyptic fiction; I think in particular before I wrote Scar I was reading SM Stirling’s books. And I have a fascination with religion and the feudal system, which I think the Church still emulates to this day. People gravitate to the idea of absolutes when they’re desperate and frightened. Absolute authority. Absolute loyalty. Trinidad is very much a part of a feudal world.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?
Betsy: Trinidad is a standout in his world because he converted from Wicca to Christianity at a young age after being orphaned. Now he’s tattooed with crosses and swords on his forehead and hands, and he’s a well-trained soldier for the Church. Despite being a perfect archwarden, he still isn’t trusted. I find him interesting because he has an unscholarly, positive view of Christianity combined with a pragmatic mistrust of the world, including the church. So he is constantly torn between the opposite psyches of grace and doubt.
Castile was Trinidad’s best friend when they were kids, but as a teenager, he joined the ecoterrorism movement. He spent a number of years in prison for his crimes but has just been released. He’s similar to Trinidad in that he tries to be a helpful member of the coven and a devout witch, but his coven doesn’t really trust him. On the other hand, he is more cunning and jaded than Trinidad, and has a wicked sense of humor. There’s romantic tension between Trinidad and Castile, but they are very absorbed with their mutual resentment, bad history, and opposite perspectives as they find a way to work together toward the common goal of stopping the crusade.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Silver Scar like?
Betsy: In 2003, Folsom Field, the football stadium for Colorado University, expanded. When I saw it on the hill there, looming high against the mountains, I thought it looked like a prison. And then I started wondering, what if it were a prison? What would be happening in Colorado to turn Folsom Field into a prison? That was seed of The Silver Scar.
So in Boulder in 2160, climate change has polluted the air and made life a struggle. The majority of people flocked to the Church for protection, so it runs the government in walled cities for the faithful. But hunger and illness are rampant, and various tribes and covens and independent people living outside the walls trade or fight over resources and do their best to elude slavers. Boulder is gritty and aging, with large sections of wall created from torn down University buildings, and the county land and mountains make for rough living conditions. Castile’s coven live in a large cave in the mountains with fresh water and decent hunting, so they have better living conditions than some and are fairly protected.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Silver Scar?
Betsy: Castile’s and Trinidad’s relationship. From Trinidad’s standpoint, friendship with Castile means treason and heresy. Castile has no belief in hell, and he’s already been to prison, so while he knows his coven and culture frowns upon their friendship, he also has a survivor’s apathy. But there is a lot of chemistry between them and they had it from the first draft.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Betsy: That’s a good question. I hope readers enjoy the portrayal of a gay couple what I hope is a natural, uncontentious way. I hope people can see some of themselves in these characters, good and bad. And I suspect there will be some discomfort with the paradoxes in the story: Wiccan ecoterrorists, Mexican slavers, the church’s justifications to crusade and kill, a graveyard of silver sand that heals.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Silver Scar? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Betsy: I just took a lot of elements that fascinate me: violence, death, terrorism, graveyards, mirrors, scars, religion, feudalism, and faith, and threw them all together to see what would emerge. Of course when I wrote the book years ago, I had no idea of our situation now, with politicians discussing building actual walls, and actively finding ways to divide and control us based on gender, creed, color, sexuality, and faith. So hopefully Scar resonates as a sort of warning of how little it takes for culture to regress into tribalism.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Silver Scar that you can share with us?
Betsy: This is a scene after Castile and Trinidad escaped police chasing them. Castile is starting to know Trinidad better and learning he doesn’t have to be afraid of him.
Castile broke into the shed and bridled the horses with barely a jingle. They looked at the humans with curiosity and snuffled low.
He handed the Appaloosa’s reins to Trinidad. “Sorry. They didn’t have a white one.”
DJ: Now that The Silver Scar is released, what is next for you?
Betsy: I have a story in the anthology Straight Outa Tombstone from Baen Books in Spring of 2019 and I’m working on a fantasy mystery series set in post-apocalyptic Scotland. Murder, magic, and monsters!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Betsy: I’m on all the platforms but spend less time on Facebook. Twitter is quickest; Instagram is the most fun.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Betsy-Dornbusch/e/B0071AJE0E
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Silver Scar that we haven’t talked about yet?
Betsy: I hope it’s an exciting read and people enjoy the story.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Betsy: Thanks for featuring me and my book here. Happy reading!
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*** The Silver Scar is published by Talos and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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When Trinidad was twelve, his Wiccan parents blew themselves up in an ecoterrorist attack that killed several Christians. Orphaned and disillusioned, he fled his home and his best friend Castile to soldier for the powerful Christian church inside the walled city of Boulder, Colorado.
Fostered by a loving priest and trained by a godless warrior, Trinidad learned the brutal art of balancing faith and war. He is the perfect archwarden, disciplined and devout. But when his Bishop turns up with a silver scar she claims is proof of angelic orders to crusade, Trinidad alone knows her story is a lie. The silver is from a mystical, ancient graveyard called the Barren, a place of healing reached only by Wiccan magic, a place that could turn Christianity on its head.
To accuse her outright would be treason, and gaining proof means committing heresy, both of which would be a death sentence for an archwarden. Instead, torn between the lure of powerful magic, his love for Castile, and his vows to defend the Church, Trinidad secretly conspires with a violent tribe of ancestor-worshipers and a Wiccan coven to stop the crusade. But as everyone he trusts is mired in betrayal and bent on vengeance, he soon realizes no amount of righteousness can stop the slaughter of thousands.
From Betsy Dornbusch, the author of the Books of the Seven Eyes trilogy, The Silver Scar is a terrific novel with all the incredible world building that Betsy is known for
About the Author:
Betsy Dornbusch writes epic fantasy, and has dabbled in science fiction, thrillers, and erotica. Her short fiction has appeared in over twenty magazines and anthologies, and she’s the author of three novellas. Her first fantasy novel came out in 2012 and her latest trilogy, Books of the Seven Eyes, wrapped up with Enemy in 2017. The Silver Scar, a standalone future fantasy novel, was called “a spellbinding saga” by Publisher’s Weekly.
In her free time, she herds her teenagers (like cats, only they talk back), snowboards, air jams at punk rock concerts, and follows Denver sports teams.