S F Chapman is signing copies of his debut book I'm here to help at The Avid Reader (617 2nd Street, Davis) from 1 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 21. The poignant literary novella is Chapman’s first of a dozen he plans to release in the next five years from his new independent publishing company Striped Cat Press.
In I’m here to help, Sharon has managed to keep secrets about her daughter’s birth from her for 17 years. Using a wall full of old family photos in the living room, Sharon slowly reveals the complex set of events that led them to their current situation.
Most of the characters in Chapman’s upcoming books are women, and he suspects casual readers might incorrectly assume I’m here to help is written by one. “I do however most definitely have Y-chromosomes,” the author quipped.
Chapman grew up with six sisters in a family of 12 children, and those experiences helped shape his female characters. Being a seventh-generation Californian also influences his writing.
“When I find the need to plunk my characters down in a big city, I usually describe San Francisco where I lived for many years. It looks and feels quite a lot like the older cities in the Northeast,” he said. “There is also a subliminal Hispanic influence in many of my books; some of which comes from the state where more than half of the population is Hispanic, the rest probably from ancient ancestors on my Dad’s side.”
While I’m here to help is a very intimate literary tale, most of Chapman’s next books are soft science fiction.
“I love to put very ordinary folks into quite extraordinary situations and watch them squirm for about 6 or 8 chapters,” Chapman said. “All of my books deal with isolation to varying degrees, sometimes physical and sometimes social, and how the characters manage to cope with it.”
Chapman began writing while working on his liberal arts degree at Diablo Valley College. He generated nearly a dozen short stories there, and in the last three years has begun writing novel-length fiction and prepping the new publishing company. The six works so far are the post-apocalyptic soft science fiction MAC Series consisting of Floyd 5.136, Xea in the Library and Beyond the Habitable Limit; the science fiction detective story entitled The Ripple in Space-Time; the general fiction tale of death and destruction called On the Back of the Beast; and of course I’m here to help.
The author is currently alternating between two entirely different writing projects: the first being a rough and tumble literary novel about homelessness called The Missive In The Margins; and the second a science fiction detective squeal to The Ripple in Space-Time dubbed Torn From On High.