An Interview with B. L. Bates

Please help me welcome B. L. Bates to my blog today. Barbara is giving away a $5 Starbucks gift card to one lucky commentor, so be sure and leave her a comment.

lc-AsterIceWood_2Tell us about yourself.
I’m a mother, step-mother, and grandmother. In the late 70s I received a BS in electrical engineering and worked in the semiconductor industry for several years. I got married just after my college graduation to a man with three children from a previous marriage. Then, due to a head injury I became totally blind. I then gave birth to two children, did odd part-time jobs, and got involved in disability issues. I ran a recreational activities organization and hosted a cable TV show, both concerned with the disabled. I helped design the house we live in now, though to be honest, I took an existing design and rearranged some of the rooms. I began writing soon after becoming blind, mostly as a way to vent. I started to pursue publication when my youngest child entered college. I’ve had some short stories and my first novel published so far. I’m currently working on a sequel to my first novel and shopping around two dark fantasy novels, both with romantic elements.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?
It would have to be near the ocean. I was born in New Bedford, MA (you know the one mentioned in Moby Dick). I love the ocean, walking along the beach, and other water activities.

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
I worked for over 5 years in the semi-conductor industry. First as a product engineer, taking ICs from design to production. Then as a programming engineer, writing the programs to test boards with ICs on them (basically a circuit board).

Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?
I write full-time. Though being blind makes doing some “normal” tasks longer, and I have to plan things around when other people can give me rides, writing is my main activity.

Do you have other talents? Or is there a talent you don’t have that you wish you did?
Before I lost my sight, I was an amateur artist. I did water color and ink drawings, charcoal sketches, and loved doing crafts. I still do some crafts, but I’ve focused my creativity mostly on cooking.

How did you get started writing?
Like I mentioned above I first started writing to vent. But I’ve always been a voracious reader. I still read several books a week, though now, if you’re going to be picky, I listen to the books I “read”. I read many genres, except for war and westerns.

I started thinking about getting published while my children were still in middle and high school, but living in a rural area, and having children interested in sports, scouts, and other activities, kept me busy enough, then.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Most of the books I write can be categorized as speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror); I often include facets of other genres: romance, detective, mystery, etc.

You can’t divide life into specific little packets. You don’t wake up in the morning saying, “I’ll have a romantic day today.” Or “This is going to be a day of adventure.” So, I try to make my books like life, a piece of this, a slice of that….

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve completed four novels so far. One has been published. Another has gone through several revisions and remains unsold. I’m shopping the other two right now. Both are dark fantasy with romantic elements.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I have several files on my computer with different ideas in them. Some ideas come from other books I’ve read. But some come from the news, movies, or TV programs. These are pieces of things I like, not a whole story line or plot. Then I take several ideas and put them together. For one of the books I’m currently shopping around, I combined: a guide dog school, a circus traveling cross country by railroad, and an idea from an article in a science mag about metabolic rate changes in hibernating bears.

What is your favorite part of writing?
Putting the ideas together and coming up with the first draft. I try to put together seemingly unrelated items and manipulate them until they work as a whole.

What is your least favorite part of writing?
I would have to say the editing part. It’s not that I don’t like editing; it’s more that I can never seem to consider the book “done”. Maybe after just one more edit. And I could add that short section in chapter…

How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
I don’t include other people per say, but I give my characters interesting characteristics I find in real people. Or if someone has an annoying saying they use all the time, it can migrate into something I’m writing.

What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
Emotions, especially those concerning relationships. I was a shy child, and some of that stayed with me. Going through college as a female engineer, and learning to advocate for myself after going blind, I learned to speak up. But there are still times, I would rather stay inside and either cook or read, and still try to avoid situations that have lots of emotion.

Where can readers find you?
I have two connected blogs: and I’m not good about keeping them up-to-date, though.

Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?
I’m published with Eternal Press and the books available on Amazon.
Eternal Press site:


JustBarb_2Growing up reading speculative fiction, B. L. Bates received a BS in electrical engineering and worked for several years in the computer industry. When a head injury left her totally blind, she turned to writing speculative fiction to stay sane. With her youngest child in college, she lives with her husband in Massachusetts and plots ways to spend more time with her grandchildren.

She’s had short stories published online, and some like “GreenWorld” published in print. Now trying her hand at novels, she can be found online at or

“It’s worse than that.” Tanya rubbed her temples. The mother of all headaches waited in the wings, ready to pounce.

“How so?” Colonel Frade said.

“A computer simulation indicates AsterIce has spread to every known water source on the planet through drainage, evaporation and condensation. Using some process we don’t yet understand, the additions to AsterIce multiply when added to normal water, even sea water.”

“All of Earth’s waters are now…polluted by the virus?” Richard stared at Tanya.

She met his eyes, closed hers, and nodded.

“What percentage of the population will be affected by it?” Virginia asked.

Tina, seeing her mother’s agitation, brought her a glass of water.

“One hundred percent.”Tanya gulped the water Tina handed her.

“All this scientific jargon has me muddled. In English, please. What does this all mean?” Colonel Frade asked.

“In addition to the vitamins and minerals in AsterIce, there is what we originally thought to be inert organic matter. It turns out we were wrong.”

“How so?” Watts asked.

“The inert matter is actually a shell containing an alien virus.

“Tests show the AsterIce virus is originally passed to its subjects through the digestive system. The virus is then released in the stomach, where the outer shell is removed by our digestive acids. The virus spreads into every cell in the human body. This leads to a build-up in the lungs.”

“So, now the virus can become airborne.” Richard’s visage looked grim.

“Not quite. By the time symptoms begin to occur, the lungs are filled to capacity with the virus. The question is not when will it begin, but how long has it been going on? Also, how many of us are infected?”

6 thoughts on “An Interview with B. L. Bates

  1. Loved the interview questions. What an in depth look into a fascinating author’s life. Ms. Bates, great excerpt. You are an inspiration in the journey you’ve travelled as well as encouragement to ant artist who wants to succeed. Very nice and thank you, Karen for hosting her.

  2. Sorry…Cynthia. Karen gave me the link from Facebook and I knew this wasn’t her blog and I know you…looks like my day is going to be filled with challenges . Seriously, thank you for hosting Ms. Bates. Fascinating interview.

  3. Inspirational author! Not having read AsperIce I assume from the excerpt that the arrival of the virus isn’t “accidental” so I hope the scientists can find a cure.

  4. Barbara,
    You are an amazing inspiration. I imagine with the loss of sight the sounds of the ocean are heightened. Next time I have writer’s block I’m going to think of you. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  5. Wow… Just wow.. How amazing the kind of strength as a writer you have even with the loss of your sight. Mandy prayers and blessings to you. I will definitely be adding your books to my TBR list. Thank you for letting me be a part of your guest blog. 🙂

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