Interview with Stella Atrium, Author of The Bush Clinic

02 Nov 2022

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Bush Clinic: Book I of The Tribal Wars?

Thanks for asking. I was so pleased to find reviewers who call The Bush Clinic femme-driven. Ha, ha, that was my intent. In all societies, women live in a network of women, although that practice is not dramatized in our novels or movies. For female heroes as far back as Angie Dickinson’s Police Woman, women characters operate in a world of men. Where were her sisters, aunts, daughters, sorority sisters, and female colleagues who held strong positions like judges or reporters?

Women working together is a novel idea in some writing genres. Mostly we see a few forced together like in refugee camps, or the wives of men in leadership like in the church. I started with the writing principle that the female characters drive the plots of my stories. Nothing happened except by their pushing. That’s in all my stories, but not so much LGBTQ+.

I looked at women in combat zones and saw that they had no protection, no cover, no rights even to clean water. How did they manage to feed the children and stay clean? Women were corralled together and could not resist abuse or separation. My idea was that women talked among themselves and found strategies for how to respond to abuse and support each other, except some were ostracized.

In a free emerging democracy, women must secure the right to vote, the right to open a business, to own property, to choose when to have kids. Access to capital is critical for women to have a voice in business and in politics. Not a token woman on the board of a corporation, but a self-made woman who succeeds by the work of her own hands. So I developed several of these types in a fantasy story set on another planet to see what obstacles they addressed, what bad behavior they indulged, and how much social power they could accrue.

The fantasy series starts with The Bush Clinic, and several novels follow our connected tribal women and intruders from Earth. The male characters were not neglected. In fact, some get hero roles as militia leaders of generals in the peace-keeping corp. A woman is more interesting when an interesting man pursues her.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I’ve been reading for many decades, so I had trends where I read mostly biography or mostly philosophy. In the 2000s I was enamored with books about the Ottoman Empire; I sort of fell down the rabbit hole. I read in fantasy after I discovered Robin Hobb. The books based on old fairy tales were a favorite, or tales from Eastern European Jewish tradition. I started reading deeply in science fiction when I was writing in that mode, but shied away from the grimdark subgenre where all the plots were the same and interest was driven by the gore or unusual creatures. That trend ran out for me rather quickly.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Right now I’m reading books from India, especially survival strategies for women in a layered society where status is about what you are rather than gained through merit. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is open on my reader right now.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

Dr. Greensboro is gifted with a pair of infant gualareps, lizard-like creatures that throw their thoughts. One day she asks one who she likes best, Dr. Greensboro or Hakulupe Le, showing a small stone for each person. The gualarep takes the stones in her mouth and climbs a nearby tree to dig a hollow and plant the two together forever at the bush clinic. Dr. Greensboro says, “I don’t think I knew that they could climb trees.”

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

The needed elements to write are to get up early, put on a pot of coffee, and turn on the computer. At two in the afternoon I look up because my stomach is growling. LOL

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Never let ‘em see you sweat.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Our lives benefit from the lives of people who came before us: family, friends, heroes, philosophers, leaders, enemies. We should learn a little something about them.


Stella Atrium is the author of the new book The Bush Clinic: Book I of The Tribal Wars

Connect with Stella Atrium

Author Site



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