Jeanie: We’re here today with Elizabeth F. Shearly, author of Endless Sea of Stars, my very own story! I’m sure you’re all anxious for the juicy details, so let’s jump right in.
What part of my life first hooked you on my story?
Elizabeth: The image that first caught me was the two of you, you and Liam, I mean, just staring out the screen of your pod, with nothing else in view. The two of you just totally isolated and alone with no help in sight.
J: Was there something in particular that made you feel kinship for me as a person?
E: Having experienced chronic pain myself, I know how it feels to suddenly be unable to do the things that you love to do.
I’m also a very independent person, like you. I like my solitude and being stuck in a sardine can with someone for weeks would not sit well with me. I don’t know how you two did it.
J: What about me surprised you more than anything?
E: I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised how stubborn you are. [laughs] I guess how much you cared about MS. I knew that she meant a lot to you, but just how much took me by surprise.
J: I appreciate you making MS a bigger part of the story. What do you think she contributed?
E: She ended up acting as a really good go-between for you and Liam, prodding the two of you into working things out. She also really made Liam’s development obvious, in his relationship to MS.
J: Would you ever write about me again?
E: I might consider writing about you again, but I really hope you don’t go through anything interesting enough for me to write about in the future. I hope your search and rescue ship is interesting only in the best ways!
I hear your crew is pretty rag-tag though, so maybe I’ll write about some of them eventually.
J: Was there a time when you wanted to just shake some sense into my dumb head?
E: That sounds like a leading question, Jeanie. [laughs] Yes, of course it was hard to see you and Liam fighting and talking past each other. I understand where both of you were coming from though, and I’m glad you were finally able to get everything out in the open.
J: How did I change over the course of the writing process?
E: You started out a lot less plucky, wallowing a lot more in your pain and your helplessness. But then every time I turned around you were jumping in to help Liam or trying something new. I just couldn’t hold your spirit down!
J: In the first draft, you started the story earlier. Why did you decide to start it right in the action instead?
E: You’re right; in the first draft, I had talked about the client that you and Liam were just finishing up when the moon started collapsing. I realized, though, that they didn’t belong in the story. The story was about you and it should start out focusing on you and on Liam.
J: What echoes of your life can readers pick up when they’re reading my story? Has anything like what happened to me ever happened to you?
E: As I mentioned, I struggled with chronic pain for quite some time, and getting it handled and dealt with really changed my life and my entire outlook. I won’t go into too much detail, but that’s a big part of it.
Otherwise, yes, being locked away and isolated with your partner for a long period of time when everything is going wrong…the premise was greatly inspired by caring for a baby during COVID lockdown…I won’t expand on that since I’m sure the parallels are obvious.
J: I haven’t told you everything about my past, and I know Liam hasn’t either. What are your biggest unanswered questions about where either of us came from?
E: Jeanie, your family situation for sure. I know how you finally decided to get your own ship and make a life for yourself, at least the bare outline, but before that, your life is a total question mark.
For Liam, I know he hates talking about his first marriage, so I tried not to pry too much into it, but I am curious how he met his first wife and how they ended up together when they seem so incompatible.
J: At one point, you came up with an ending for my story that almost made you cry into your keyboard. What made you decide not to use that ending?
E: [Sighs] Yes, that’s right. That ending…would have been too sad. I spoke about the parallels with my life before, and that ending just wasn’t what I wanted to put out into the world for you two. It wasn’t the lesson or theme or moral I would want readers to take away from one of my stories. The ending you got wasn’t totally happy, but it was upbeat in a way that the other one was decidedly not.
J: Thanks for telling our story! It means a lot that you got it out there.
E: You’re both very welcome, it was my pleasure!