Meet Far, Far Away Contest Winner: L.R. Braden

Last Summer we ran a contest. This summer, we’re publishing the collection of winning stories in an anthology. Far, Far Away: 7 Stories in 7 Realms of Science Fiction and Fantasy is now available for pre-order in our store and on amazon in ebook and paperback form. In the coming weeks we’ll be featuring the winning stories and the talented people who wrote them and this week we are pleased to be able to introduce L.R. Braden, author of the speculative, science fiction story, “Piece of Mind”.

We asked L.R. Braden to tell us a bit about “Piece of Mind” in her own words, starting with the setting:

In the (perhaps not so) distant future, the Earth is dying and humanity has set out aboard Ark spaceships in search of inhabitable worlds where the species might survive. A handful of lucky lottery winners have been selected to join Earth’s best and brightest to start a new colony, but the journey is long, and resources sparse. What seemed like a lucky break has turned into a never-ending torture for the souls trapped aboard the Ark—stripped of their physical bodies and stored in limbo—as the voyage continues long beyond what was anticipated.

Then we asked about her inspiration:

Right around the time I started writing this story, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. I was told it was a slow, painful way to go, with little to no hope as the disease ate away at her body a little bit at a time. That got me thinking along the lines of “What do you live for when all you have to look forward to is losing a little more of yourself each day you wake up?” “At what point do you stop recognizing the person in the mirror?” “When do you say ‘enough is enough?’” It also led me to consider the status of legal euthanasia. “What does a person do when those in power won’t let them die?”

We wondered if she had any other projects in the works she could share with us:

Thanks for asking! Aside from short stories, I also write the award-winning Magicsmith urban fantasy series. Those books follow a woman who discovers she’s not entirely human in a world that’s much like ours, but where magical beings live side-by-side with humans. The first book in that series is called A Drop of Magic. The fifth book, Of Mettle & Magic, releases May 14, 2021, and the sixth book should come out next year.

I’m currently working on a spin-off to my Magicsmith series that, while still urban fantasy, will have deeper ties to the mystery genre. That will publish either late 2021 or early 2022. I’ve also written a couple young adult science fiction adventures that I’m hoping to get revised and published in the near future.

And we wanted to know what made her decide to submit to the Far, Far Away Anthology contest:

I love speculative fiction! All the stories I write are either fantasy or science fiction, and many of them take place in distant lands, different eras, or an alternate version of our world. In the case of “Piece of Mind,” the story is set both in the future and in the distant reaches of space, so it was perfect for this anthology.

Finally, we asked her to tell us a bit about herself and what she does in her spare time:

What is this “spare time” you speak of? Seriously though, I feel like I’m always working to one deadline or other. When I manage to pull myself away from my computer, I spend as much time as I can with my family. We love board games and bike rides.

I also create chainmail jewelry when I’m too tired to think but need to keep my hands busy. Which apparently happens quite a lot, because I’ve got a whole Etsy shop full of it. You can check out my creations at https://www.etsy.com/shop/WimsiDesign.

Bestselling author of The Magicsmith urban fantasy series, LR Braden makes her home in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies with her wonderful husband, precocious daughter, and psychotic cat. Her debut novel, A Drop of Magic, won the Eric Hoffer Book Award for sci-fi/fantasy, the First Horizon Award, and the Imadjinn Award for Best Urban Fantasy Novel. With degrees in both English literature and metalsmithing, she splits her time between writing and art.

Piece of Mind by L.R. Braden

With the imminent collapse of Earth, humanity sends out the seeds of civilization aboard an interstellar Ark to find a new home among the stars. But as the voyage drags on, the passengers lose themselves piece by piece to the limbo in which they are forced to travel, begging the question: what will be left of “humanity” if and when they reach their destination?

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