I’m lying in bed next to my wife when Stella McMasters lifts the covers and slips in beside me.  She taps my chin.

“When are you going to do it?” she asks.

I glance over to see if Stella has awakened Jane.  My wife usually takes a dim view of me sleeping with two women at the same time.  Fortunately, she’s snoring.

I turn back.  “Going to do what?” I ask.

She snuggles closer.  “Tell the rest of my story.”

I sigh, for she’s asked this before.  Stella’s the cyborg heroine I created in Beyond Those Distant Stars, a SF action-adventure romance published by Mundania Press (  Twice I’ve tried to write a sequel, Star Warrior, but I’ve been stymied each time by my friends’ substantial and valid criticisms.

I try to brazen it out.  “Listen, honey, you’re my creation, and it’s up to me to continue your story or not.”

This doesn’t fly.  Stella’s face hardens, and she raises a fist.  Two-thirds of her body is synthetic, and she could crush me with a single blow.  “I rule an empire of a thousand worlds,” she says, “and I’ve got enemies who want to destroy me.  Hell, there’s enough for a whole boatload of books.  I can be an even bigger hero than Miles.”

That’s Miles Vorkosigan, the creation of the multiple prize-winning SF author Lois McMaster Bujold, whose name inspired Stella McMasters’ name.  “Look,” I say, “I tried twice to continue your saga, but my writers’ group found too many implausibilities.”

Stella gives me a chaste kiss, which is unlike the passionate ones she gave her unfaithful lover in Beyond Those Distant Stars.  “Screw the implausibilities.  Just write it.”  She smiles.  “I feel great adventures ahead of me.  New challenges, new men, new triumphs and revelations.  Sweetie, my saga is just getting started.”

My name isn’t Sweetie, but I don’t tell her that.  “I can’t do it,” I say.  “I tried twice—”

Her hand squeezes me below the covers, but not as a lover.  I moan in pain.

“Do it,” she orders.  Seeing Jane roll over beside me, she taps my chin again and disappears.

Jane sighs.  “Stella again?” she asks.

Great.  My wife heard.  “Yes.”

She moves closer.  “It was worse this time, wasn’t it?”

I don’t need to answer.  Jane kisses me gently.

“Honey,” she says, “why don’t you do what she says.  Only in the sequel . . .”


She giggles.  “In it, you kill the bitch off.”

* * *

Being haunted by your own character is no fun.  If Stella wants sequels, why doesn’t she take charge and sweep me along plot-wise like other authors’ characters do?  Doesn’t she recognize writer’s block when she sees it?

Two days later, I enter the shower to find Stella waiting there for me.

“Look,” I say, “we have to stop meeting like this.”

Nude, she taps my chin.  “Then you know what to do.”

* * *

After I dry off, I sit down and start Star Warrior again.


John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance.  He’s the former editor of Horror Magazine and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association.  Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens.

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16 thoughts on “STELLA HAUNTS ME!

  1. Martha Love

    John, I truly enjoyed your very creative introduction of and encounters with your character, Stella. These “close encounters” with Stella could be a book in itself! I love that your wife is so understanding and supportive of you and your writing.

  2. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

    John, it would seem as if characters won’t settle for happy mediums. They either persecute us, like your Stella, or elude us, like so many others we have a hard time grasping. Consider yourself fortunate to have been blessed with such a determined fiction lady!
    It’s been a real pleasure to read your piece.

  3. John B. Rosenman

    Thank you all for your comments. Yes, Stella has been a unique nemesis in my life. Sadly, Star Warrior continues to sit on a rickety table about nine feet away while I venture into Book 4 of my Inspector of the Cross series. As good as my hero Turtan there is, he is unenhanced, and if cyborg Stella gets jealous and takes it into her mind to seek revenge by attacking him, I’m afraid he’s a goner. I don’t know if anything like that has ever happened in fiction or literature before, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Jane is indeed supportive of my writing, though sometimes she thinks it is just plain weird. As for Stella, I feel her nibbling at my psyche again, and lately I’m a bit reluctant to step into the shower . . .

  4. Micki Peluso

    John, you just made my day—and it was a really lousy day. This story is hysterical!! I laughed out loud and I rarely do that. I’m still laughing. The visuals in this short piece were awesome and just too funny. What better way to explain writer’s block–and I love your wife!!

    Thank you,


  5. Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins

    John, I do not know how I missed this one but am I thrilled that I found it yet to read! Stella and Jane. No choice but it seems Stella will continue to disrupt your every dream or even daily routines until you give her what she wants so badly.

    I have to agree with Jane, you can just kill her off! Yet on the other-hand, she could provide many grand stories and is just waiting for your hand to get back to hers. Taking a shower could get risky if you don’t follow her lead.

    Thanks for this laugh this morning. What a great story! I enjoy the style in which you write tremendously.


  6. Linda Hales

    Just how empowered is this Stella character John? Are you in any serious danger, my friend? I’d be very much afraid that she’ll get the final word and and write the next book in the series without your permission with you as the central character. Please keep your desk and writing tools locked up tight – very tight!

  7. James L. Secor

    Wow! My characters went into hibernation mode during my first ever block that lasted nearly a year. Not even Teddy;s big stick was very useful. Good you can make a story out of the problem. Maybe, though, she’s not a “Star” Warrior.

  8. John B. Rosenman

    Thanks to the rest of you for your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed Stella’s antics. Linda, your fears have come to pass. Stella has taken over and I’m now the main character in the sequel AND her lover. You don’t want to know how Jane feels about that. Since Stella’s lovers come to a bad end, I’m not too hot about it either. Incidentally, when Stella saw your comment, she promptly wrote you into the sequel, too. You don’t want to know what YOUR role is. Take it from me, be afraid. Be very afraid. I keep telling her to go easy on you, but oh well. To Mamie, Trish, Micki, and Anne, I’m glad it was fun. James, I think Stella will be a “Star” Warrior yet. She’s too great a gal to keep down and tame on Terra.

    1. Linda Hales

      I feel relatively safe so long as Stella doesn’t have a passport to get into my country; although, I fear that she might teleport. Perhaps I really should be afraid…very afraid! Please tell Jane to be understanding…very undersanding!

    2. Linda Hales

      I feel relatively safe so long as Stella doesn’t have a passport to get into my country; although, I fear that she might teleport. Perhaps I really should be afraid…very afraid! Please tell Jane to be understanding…very understanding!

  9. Linda Hales

    I feel relatively safe so long as Stella doesn’t have a passport to get into my country; although, I fear that she might teleport. Perhaps I really should be afraid…very afraid! Please tell Jane to be understanding…very undersanding!


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