Monthly Archives: October 2014

Pirate of Panther Bay: “A Thrilling Caribbean Ride”

An excellent review of The Pirate of Panther Bay by award-winning young adult author M.R. Street appeared recently on one of the Tallahassee Democrat’s community blogs. M.R. Street, author of The Werewolf’s Daughter and Hunter’s Moon, recommended readers find “a hammock swaying in a balmy breeze and hold on for this thrilling Caribbean ride.”

The review is quite extensive and appeared on the TWA blog. I think this is the essence of  her take on The Pirate of Panther Bay,

“Staley’s swashbuckling adventure takes place in historically accurate settings.  His research into the Caribbean region and time period (1780) encompasses the political dynamics, attention to detail of ships of war, and sailors’ superstitions.  The battles at sea are breathtakingly realistic, with cannon balls whistling by and swordfights that require both skill and psychology.  Staley deftly creates a lead character with multi-layered texture:  a scared former slave girl who at a young age has lost her first love; but who is, at the same time, a self-assured young woman with military cunning and skill.  As I read The Pirate of Panther Bay, I flinched each time Isabella was whipped in her cell in El Morro.  Why doesn’t she just give up?  She is beaten mercilessly, emotionally and physically.  But her will to survive is fueled by her mother’s prophecy.  Before Isabella was even born, the spirits told her mother what Isabella’s future would hold.  To Isabella, the prophecy is a promise that this is not how she is meant to die.”

View the Official Book Trailer here.

Buy The Pirate of Panther Bay here.

 

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Why Little People are Central to “St. Nic, Inc.” (No spoilers!)

All my novels grapple with the problems of diversity, tolerance, ethnicity and social justice in some substantive and meaningful way, although always in the context of the story; they are not lectures. In The Pirate of Panther Bay, for example, Isabella is an escaped slave who captains a pirate ship. She has to deal with her own identity and coming of age as a women in a violent, male dominated profession (pirating) and the racism that pervaded the plantation and extraction economies of the world during the 18th century.

So, as I continued to think through the mythology of elves and Santa Claus for the back story in St. Nic, Inc., I began to reflect on little people and dwarves. For some reason which I still don’t completely recall–writing is a process, not a moment in time–I became particularly annoyed by the fact little people were almost always depicted in stereotyped roles in popular culture, particularly movies–munchkins, elves, what have you. But I knew that little people have the same abilities and capabilities as average-sized peopled. Why didn’t we see more of that? So, I began to revise my thinking about little people and elves and thought this might be an opportunity to address issues such as inclusiveness, fairness, prejudice–social justice–through my story. So, the book has several passages that directly confront conventional stereotypes about little people and contrast them with the “reality” of the North Pole in St. Nic, Inc. I am particularly fond of a coffee shop scene in Chapter 10 between an average sized person and a little person, and a very poignant dialogue between two average-sized people on dwarfism and human dignity in Chapter 24.

Read more about the role of little people in St. Nic, Inc. by clicking here:

For more on little people, check out the Little People of America (LPA) website here.

To watch the St. Nic, Inc. trailer, click here.

To buy St. Nic, Inc., click here and help out LPA at the same time!

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How dwarves ended up in St. Nic, Inc.: An unexpected journey

Little people figure prominently in my newest novel, St. Nic, Inc.  Moreover, the climax hinges on the role of little people. In popular culture, little people are commonly associated with elves of myth, and some people have wondered if this why I included them as characters. Ironically, the mythology surrounding little people and elves is one of the reasons they didn’t end up in the story at all!

I completed the manuscript in 2000, and I didn’t know any little people personally at the time. St. Nic, Inc. is intended for a mainstream audience. So, as I began mapping the Santa Claus myth over the contemporary, reality-based world I was creating, I was trying to create practical analogues that would also be consistent if a North Pole operation actually existed. I purged fantasy elements from the back story. Elves didn’t figure into it, in the same way that the story doesn’t have reindeer, or flying sleighs, or a rotund Santa Claus (who is sometimes referred to as a “jolly old elf”). So, the early drafts tried to avoid little people altogether because I thought little people and elves would be conflated, detracting from the contemporary and reality-based setting I wanted to create.

For more on little people, check out the Little People of America (LPA) website here.

To watch the St. Nic, Inc. trailer, click here.

To buy St. Nic, Inc., click here and help out LPA at the same time!

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St. Nic, Inc: “quirky, fun and very clever.”

A 5-Star review is in from Jack Magnus at Readersfavorite.com! (I have added the emphasis in bold.)

“St. Nic, Inc, is an action and adventure thriller written by SR Staley. Peter Peary is a washed-up explorer in his early twenties. He excelled in school, graduated on a fast track and was making waves as the consummate explorer until the fateful trip to Mount Everest where a squall claimed the lives of his group as well as his mentor and father figure. The trip up to the North Pole with his friend Sheila Livingston was hard to fund as no one wanted to trust him anymore, but Sheila was finally able to procure sufficient funds for their sled and dog team. When Peter regains consciousness, he’s in some sort of hospital room, and his head is throbbing. His nurse, Jeff, is kind and considerate and is, Peter notices, rather short. Quite a few people in this hospital, or medical facility, are little people. Peter has difficulty remembering the circumstances that led his being here, and his attempt to leave the facility leaves him totally confused and under guard.
SR Staley’s action and adventure thriller, St. Nic, Inc. is quirky, fun and very clever. Peter, descendant of the famed Arctic explorer, finds himself embarking on a grand adventure indeed, as he attempts to understand just what he’s landed himself in this time. Nic Klaas, the driven CEO and computer genius, is a great foil for Peter, and I enjoyed watching as the two damaged psyches work at establishing rapport. I’ve never read anything like this book. You know where it’s going based on the modern mythology, but Staley takes you there via a marvelous and exciting thriller that has some pretty unpredictable turns. I enjoyed St. Nic, Inc. It’s especially bound to appeal to those of us who’ve never quite gotten the hang of growing up, and it’s highly recommended.”

 

 

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Why Write a Reality Adventure About the Santa Claus Myth?

My newest book, St. Nic, Inc., takes on one of America’s most cherished children’s myths, Santa Claus, and places it into a fast paced adventure that readers have compared to Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler. (Watch the trailer here.) Many people have asked what prompted me to write this book, so here’s my answer:

My story’s origin begins with the question every parent dreads: Do you believe in Santa Claus? As parents, we worry over how our children will react to the “truth” that Santa Claus is a myth. The overwhelming majority of our kids, of course, do fine. They may feel a period of betrayal and a sense of injustice, but they get over it. I think, however, many people underestimate how difficult this conversation is for parents and adults. We perpetuate the myth because we believe in its spirit and the core value of giving as an unconditional act of generosity. In this way the values are very secular. We are afraid that if our children realize that the myth is not real, the value of the principle is somehow degraded. I believe strongly in the importance of unconditional giving and charity. I think its a critical element of any sustainable society or community. As a novelist and storyteller, I wanted to reinvigorate this idea for adults. That’s why St. Nic, Inc. is not a children’s book. It’s a story with characters that gives us the space as adults and parents to believe if we choose to believe.

 

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“St. Nic, Inc.” and Dwarfism Awareness Month

October has been designated as Dwarfism Awareness Month, and Little People of America (LPA) has kicked off a series of activities geared toward raising the profile of little people. Of course, little people are critical to the plot, setting, and story of St. Nic, Inc., so we have created a few pages to help in the effort. So head over to www.srstaley.com and check out these pages:

You also can help out the efforts of LPA by buying St. Nic, Inc. from their website. It’s the first book listed under “Resources” and “Fiction with dwarf characters.” LPA gets a cut of every purchase made at amazon.com starting from their website.

Over 30,000 people in the U.S. live with one of the 200 types of dwarfism. Read St. Nic, Inc. and you just might kindle a new belief in Santa Claus through the little people that make this story so interesting.

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