Stefan Bolz's “The Three Feathers" - BlueStone Press
August 21, 2019
Q&A with Stefan

Stefan Bolz's “The Three Feathers"

“The Three Feathers” follows Joshua the rooster as he escapes his mindless but easy life in the coop.

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Lori: Stefan, congratulations on your book. Its main character is a rooster, can you tell us a little bit about the story?

 

Stefan: Thanks, Lori. The story is about Joshua Aylong, a rooster, who lives a comfortable life in his pen doing what rooster do, protecting the hens, settling quarrels, and calling out each new day. One night while all the other chickens are asleep in the coop he realizes that there must be more to life than what’s in front of him each day. Something is missing and one day Joshua musters all his courage, pushes away his fear and doubt, flies up onto the highest perch inside the pen and, to the amazement of the other chickens, spreads his wings and flies out and into freedom. Little did he know that what he was about to encounter would change his life forever.

 

 

Lori: Would you tell us why you chose a rooster as your main character. Why not any other animal or person?

 

Stefan: This might sound strange but I didn’t choose him to be the main character. I didn’t wake up one morning thinking that I had to finally write that story about a rooster I have been contemplating for so long. The story, and Joshua, came about in a most unlikely setting: a sand box.

 

 

Lori: A sandbox?

 

Stefan: Yes. My colleague Diane told me to help her friend Joyce in Cottekill with her computer. While I’m at her house and trying to set up her new printer wirelessly, she told me that she’s an astrologer and asked me my birth date and time. For the next two hours (and while I was trying to concentrate on what I was doing) she told me all about my sign, where my sun is and the whole problem with Gemini. I didn’t contain any of it, to be honest (Joyce, you know I love you). However, two things she told me that I did remember: “Go back to therapy,” and in the same breath, “For God’s sake, stop editing yourself.”

 

The next day I called my long time friend and therapist Julie who has a practice in Accord. She is amazing, truly. That day, Julie suggested the sand box. It’s incredible what you can find in there. Here’s how it works: There is a wall filled with shelves in Julie’s office on which you can find pretty much anything, from small figurines to action figures to items like little palm trees, dragons, motor cycles, cowboys, dogs, helicopters, stones, rocks, pieces of wood, train cars, etc. I would usually pick out some of the items at random, the task being not to think too much about which ones to take and then place them into the sand box. So, I took some of the items from the shelf and placed them in the sand box. Here and there I pushed the sand to one side, again without thinking much about it. Once I was done, we looked at it together and as we always do, Julie asked me what I saw. It usually makes sense while I look at the landscape as to which of the figurines I am, what's going on in the box and therefore in my life at that moment, etc.

 

Not this time. I had no clue what I was looking at. There was a rooster, red and orange colored; there was a wolf, a horse, a Pegasus, a frog, a dragon and, stuck into the sand on the left side of the box, three feathers. That was all. I told Julie that I had no idea what it meant, what it was or what to make of it. All I said was that it sure looks like it would make a nice little fable: The rooster sets out on a journey. On his way, he picks up friends like the wolf and the horse. Then they encounter a Pegasus and a dragon. There is a frog in there somewhere. And in the end they find the three feathers. Nothing to write (home) about. Or so I thought.

 

I left Julie, not disappointed but feeling kind of neutral with the sense that nothing had really happened in there. Sometimes a session stays with me for days. Again, not this one. I forgot all about it for a while. Then one morning I thought I'd better write it down before I forget. That was more out of habit as I usually write down what happens during the sessions. So I began with, "Once upon a time there was a rooster who lived on a farm on the Eastern shore..." I stopped at the end of chapter one, I think. I couldn't believe the force with which the story made itself known to me. I truly felt like a scribe more than an author. None of it came from my conscious  mind. It was as if I discovered for myself, and for the first time, what had happened. Like an archaeologist finding an ancient city under the dessert sand. It was there. Complete and pretty much ready to come through. My duty was only in faithfully writing it all down. There was only a minuscule and insignificant amount of thinking about plot, characters and the story itself on my part.

 

 

Lori: Without giving away too much, can you tell us a little bit about the story of “The Three Feathers”?

 

Stefan: Part of the marketing efforts of getting the book out into the world was to try to condense the story to one or two sentences so readers get a feel for it from a business card or a book mark or a 30 second conversation at the cash register in the super market. In that sense, if you were to take “The Alchemist” and have it meet “Watership Down”, you’d have a good starting point. From there it takes on a life of its own though. I recently got a review by The Indie Book Review – a web site that reviews books that have been independently published. I thought I’d insert an excerpt below. It summarizes the book and gives a great review.

 

Stefan Bolz's “The Three Feathers” is a delightful story about stepping out of the box, following your dreams (literally and figuratively, in Joshua's case) and finding your place, your mission. It is about the bonds of friendship and love, and making differences a strength. It reminds me on many levels of an old Chinese proverb; the language, the Zen-like lessons, the writing itself. The best I could describe it would be an ancient Chinese fable intertwined with a Grimm's fairy tale, a parable, and an epic fantasy.


“The Three Feathers” follows Joshua the rooster as he escapes his mindless but easy life in the coop. He has had a dream, and unlike many of us Joshua is brave enough to follow it even though it means leaving the comfort of everything he knows, there is danger at every turn, and he doesn't know what it really means. He just knows that he must. As his journey begins he meets his companions, Grey and Krieg, a brave wolf and a mighty war horse. Together, they help Joshua follow his dream, while each of them separately fights to overcome their own personal demons. Friendships are forged and obstacles are overcome, fantastical creatures are discovered and evil souls unearthed.


Joshua steps out of his comfort zone and opens his heart to magical possibilities -- I am asking you to do the same when you read “The Three Feathers”. Mr. Bolz has woven a hypnotic tale where friendship and love can overcome the most devastating of enemies -- doubt in yourself. This is a book for all ages. There is danger, yes, and doubt and sadness and loss. But lessons cannot be learned without them, am I right? This book is marvelously innocent and thought-provoking all at the same time. Tired of the jaded and worn out modern fantasy tale? I enthusiastically encourage you to pick up this enchanting fable and rediscover the innocent joy of childhood and the magical wonder of life in this simple yet wonderfully complex story. Joshua and his friends will make you a believer, I promise.

 

Nice, right?

 

 

Lori: Yes, very nice. That’s a great review. Have you gotten others like this one?

 

Stefan: I have the book out to several other major reviewers, waiting to get the reviews; and the reader reviews on Amazon are beginning to come in as well. So far, 5 stars. To publish independently, the major push in sales comes from and through reader reviews. The more the merrier. As I don’t have a large publishing house backing me up, I am much more dependent on the individual reader and word of mouth to get books sold.

 

 

Lori: That brings me to my next question: What do you do in terms of getting the word out. And where is the book available? Can I just walk into Barnes & Noble and see one on a shelf there at some point?

 

Stefan: Ok, let me try to answer your last question first. Barnes & Noble is Goliath. I’m David. Or maybe I’m Bambi and Barnes & Noble is Godzilla. No, seriously, I have a contact there and a two page application I have to fill out and sent in, together with a copy of the book. If they like what they see (of course they’ll LOVE it), if they feel it’s something they can sell (of course they CAN) it’s possible that they will put it into their stores. The good thing is, if they do, it will go into all the stores, which would obviously be fantastic. In a couple of weeks, people can order the paperback through Barnes & Noble online but it might take a while before you can physically see it in the stores. If you want it for the kindle, just go to Amazon or B&N and order it there.

 

In terms of what I ‘m doing for marketing, there are many venues I’m pursuing. I used a company called CreateSpace, that’s Amazon’s self publishing department. They have an on-demand printing press there (I’m sure they have a lot of them) where I get my copies from. As part of their service, they set up the book with Amazon in the U.S. and seven other market places like the U.K., France, Germany and others, together with 25,000 book sellers across the U.S.

 

 

Lori: So, I could go online to Amazon.com and order to book right now?

 

Stefan: Yes you can, Lori. And you should. You can order it through Amazon directly or you can order it through my blog. If you order it there, you will get a signed copy. But Amazon.com is the biggest venue for selling the book. The other ones, besides Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, are the local book stores. I have begun to go to local book stores and other stores that could possibly have interest in selling it. I’m planning on a book tour which starts locally but extends beyond the Hudson Valley maybe into the Berkshires or down into the city. I was also thinking about Pet stores or Vets as the book is about animals. There are several directions I’m going with this. The other path is schools. My girlfriend’s daughter’s 4th grade teacher chose the book (back then still in manuscript form) as a read-aloud book for the class. Thanks Mrs. Coogan!!!! The kids loved it and I’m in contact with the PTA to arrange an author’s day. From there it will hopefully go to other schools as well.

 

 

Lori: Sounds like you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.

 

Stefan: Yes, true. But I think it’s worth it. I’m also working on book two (and three), so there’s no more turning back now. I’ve come too far. Just like Joshua in the story.

 

 

Lori: Can you explain that?

 

Stefan: Joshua follows a dream when he first flies out of his pen. He overcomes many obstacles in the process. The main obstacle is, I believe, doubt in himself. That’s the constant force that tries to hold him back. He is also very limited in what he can or cannot do. He can’t fly very well. He can’t swim or do anything big. Or so he thinks. But during the adventure with his friends he finds himself many times over in situations where he doesn’t have a choice. He has to reach beyond himself and access a part of him that he has not yet come in contact with: his strength, his power, and, in a sense, his authority. He has to do that or die. There are no other choices during his quest. I think we all not only believe in our own limits, we live by them. Almost never do we question their truth. Joshua, at one point, screams in utter despair: “Don’t you see! I’m not made to swim under water!” We all do that, I think. “I wasn’t made to be a successful writer. I didn’t even finish college. English isn’t even my first language!” Or whatever our own individual limitations are. I think Joshua shows us that despite it all, we can go far beyond what we think we can do. Joshua is us in search of this part of ourselves that can do great things despite everything that tells us we can’t.

 

 

Lori: That’s something all of us can certainly identify with. Can you tell us a little bit about the cover art? It looks really beautiful.

 

Stefan: Thanks, Lori. I met the artist, Matt Maley, two years ago during a drawing class my girlfriend and her kids and I took together. Matt had worked for Disney and other big companies before opening his own illustration and graphic design shop in New Paltz. It’s called Visualstuff. I had a pretty good idea for the cover. It was built around the two eyes of the lioness and the three feathers on the cylinder of stone as described in the story. The feathers are the origin of the journey and the eyes of the lioness its destination. I had thought that the eyes should come out of the darkness and speak of danger but also of unquestioned authority. I think Matt totally nailed that. I knew pretty much what I wanted and Matt just got it and went with it. The eyes are the best part, I think. They kind of look at you from across the book store as if saying: “You better read this book!”

 

 

Lori: This was great. Do you have any final thoughts?

 

Stefan: Just that I hope people will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m a huge fantasy/sci-fi fan and I felt like a kid in a candy store during the writing process, going deeper and deeper into the story and discovering it as I wrote. I got some amazing, unexpected and encouraging reviews. Thanks to everyone who has read it (and who hopefully will read it in the future).

 

 

Lori: Thanks for doing this interview with me and good luck to you.

 

Stefan: Thanks for having me. Good luck to you as well.

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