Monday, May 18, 2020

THE MAY ISSUE


THE MAY ISSUE   
                                                NEWS @



Welcome to the third issue.  While I continue to write the occasional blog posts, this newsletter provides information about multiple topics. This month I’ll explain my methods with dialogue, discuss my latest work in progress, have an interview with another author and music. There must be music!  Ready? Let’s Roll!

WRITING

Years ago I picked up a book that had won an award or two and was supposed to be a fantastic read. The back cover sounded intriguing. Nice artwork on the front. So I gave it a try. But I couldn’t get past the first twenty pages. Why not? There was not a single line of dialogue! Not one single line!

Dialogue to me is one of the most important elements in a story. That’s another way for my characters to interact, to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and reactions. It can help set the tone and the pace of the book.  It sets the mood. Long, lengthy sentences can slow it down. Short, quick responses can speed things up. It’s action in the form of talking.


In order for the dialogue to flow, you have to listen. As a writer, it’s not uncommon for me to hear not only what people say, but how they say it.  If you want a character that’s a bit more refined, they may speak only in full sentences, avoid vulgarities and contractions.  I did that with Harrison Mundy, a character in “Fleeing Beauty”.  His dialogue matched perfectly with his mannerisms and his bearing, while different from any of the other characters. The vocabulary used can also give an indication as to education and upbringing.

On the flip side, you can have a character whose speech is less than perfect or comes from a different part of the country.  Captain Prescott ‘Pappy’ Cantrell from the Chene series is just that kind of guy.  Pappy uses phrases like ‘My daddy learned me that…” and while I know an English teacher or two would cringe, it helps define him.

Sometimes, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.  All of that can be conveyed in dialogue.  Which, by the way, doesn’t always have to come in the form of complete sentences. Unless your story is set in the time of Queen Victoria, it’s not uncommon for your dialogue to be short. It can even be interrupted by the comments or actions of another character.
Dialogue. As Pappy would say ‘gotta have it’.

Work in Progress

I started a couple of novels last fall, before getting caught up in the “Don’t Mess with the Gods” project that I described last month.  Now that the final edits have been done, I can put that to the side until it’s time to promote the release. Which is a perfect time to get back to work on the third book in the Chene series.

“Your Turn to Die” the second book in the series, introduced Leo Agonasti, a retired member of organized crime who has an unusual friendship with Chene. As I was finishing that novel, the idea of him turning to Chene for help started to percolate in my brain. A couple of possibilities surfaced and were rejected. Too bland, too outlandish, too unrealistic, too overdone.

This relationship between Agonasti and Chene does not sit well with Pappy Cantrell. The idea that Chene would investigate an old crime in an attempt to clear his friend sets Cantrell on edge. He’s concerned not just for the image of his squad, but also any blowback this could have on his best investigator’s career.  In case you’re curious, there is no link here between this case and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Yet.

Getting back to this story was easier than I expected, given the number of months since I’d worked on this. But these players are like old friends. You fall out of touch for a while and when you return, they welcome you back without a moment’s hesitation.  Of course, they’ll probably stick me with the bar tab. A quick review brought me up to speed and I just passed 26,000 words.


Author Interview:
Clay Boura

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Clay.  We met a few years ago at a local author’s event and ended up having tables beside each other. While the event wasn’t as productive as some, we did get a chance to trade stories and background.

Clay is a gifted writer and a very talented artist, whose children’s books are a delight to read.



Where are you from?
I grew up in Ferndale, MI and moved to Oak Park, MI after getting married. We lived there for about 15 years before recently moving to the Anchor Bay area.   

What’s your ‘someday’ or dream vacation spot and why?
I actually have three. My first dream vacation would be to go to Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef because I am a huge lover of sea-life and marine animals. My second and third dream vacations would be to take my wife and kids to the Philippines and Thailand to visit my wife’s family and to show our children where their mother’s and grandmother’s (Lola’s) and grandfather’s (Lolo’s) families came from.  Australia is on my bucket list as well!

What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation?
Honestly, spending time with my wife and kids. Whether we are going for walks around the water, playing board games together, going camping or simply enjoying a movie night at home, I love spending time with my family.

Any favorite hobbies?
I love to draw (obviously)! I also have a 1993 Ford Mustang Convertible that I enjoy tinkering with and cruising around in. I also enjoy listening to music and playing video games.  I’ll bet the kids have their eyes on that Mustang for when they get their driver’s licenses.

How long have you been writing?
I like to joke that I came out of the womb with a pencil in my hand because I have loved to draw and write for as long as I can remember. I have been creating characters and writing stories since probably kindergarten or earlier.

Are you able to write full time or do you also have a job/career?
My ultimate dream is to be able to write full time and put all of my time and energy into my passion. However, at the moment, I do have a full-time day job working in sales and doing web design/marketing for my company.  Sounds like you’re a very busy guy.

Is there a particular genre that you write?  What led you to there?
I have always been interested in fantasy. Wizards, dragons, centaurs, magic, time travel and things like that have always fascinated me. When I was younger, I used to write lots of stories based on those things. However, after starting a family I found myself spending my evenings reading children’s books to my kids. Watching how much enjoyment they got out of those stories, I decided I wanted to write children’s stories. The rest, as they say, is history!

Do you use friends or family as characters in your work?
Absolutely! So far in my 3 children’s books I have used my wife and 3 kids, an aunt and 2 cousins, 4 nephews and 1 niece as characters. And there are many more to come!  

What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?
My all-time favorite author is Dr. Seuss. His creativity and imagination are unparalleled. He excelled at making his stories and characters extremely different and unique and unlike anything else that had already been done. I absolutely love that and try to emulate those same things in my characters and stories.

Has anyone in your life influenced you or encouraged you to pursue your interests of writing?
I am extremely blessed and lucky to have been surrounded by so many loving, caring and supportive people throughout my life. My 5th & 6th grade elementary teacher, Mrs. Stede, was always supportive of my writing. I had a high school art teacher named Mrs. Potts who encouraged my love for drawing and even encouraged me to create the very first animated Beamer cartoon, which my girlfriend (who is now my wife) helped me create. My mother has always been very supportive of my writing. She held on to some of my early stories from my childhood and gave them back to me as an adult. I remember her encouraging me to keep adding on to stories I wrote for school assignments in case I wanted to publish them some day. However, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support and encouragement of my amazing wife, Sheri. My initial dream was to become a cartoonist and have my very own comic strip in the newspaper. Being the school teacher that she is, she would give me assignments to turn in and hold me to deadlines to keep me motivated. Later, when I decided to write and illustrate children’s stories, she supported me in every way and helped me become the author I am today.  That’s great that you’ve had so many people rooting for you!



What is your favorite aspect or writing?
When I visit schools and share my stories with kids, I always ask them if they enjoy writing. I then tell them that we are only limited by our own imaginations. There is no right or wrong story. When we’re in school we have to write about specific topics, whether we like them or not. But as an author, I have the freedom to write about anything that I want and that is fantastic.  

Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing? 
They aren’t necessarily “must haves”, but I always use my laptop for writing and my tablet for sketching and illustrating.

Is there a common theme or item that appears in each of your work?  
The main plot/structure of all of my stories are the same. Beamer hears someone speak an English idiom which he doesn’t understand. He then drifts off and dreams up a wild, crazy adventure which helps explain why he thinks we would say such a silly thing. Then he awakens from his daydream and learns the real meaning to the idiom. Every single one of my stories follows this same structure, but with different idioms and different stories dreamed up by Beamer.
  
What have you learned the most from being in the writing business?
Before I became an author, I thought (or maybe hoped!) that there was one specific way of getting published. However, I have since learned that there are many different ways of accomplishing that. I also learned how tough it can be to become successful as an author/writer, especially as an indie author/writer. Not everyone can be Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and creativity to get yourself out in front of potential readers and to promote yourself. It also takes a strong mind and lots of willpower to push through the setbacks and the failures, because those do occur. However, I also learned how rewarding it can be. When someone tells you they loved your story or they can’t wait for your next story or they carve your character into their pumpkin on Halloween (true story!), it makes it all worth it!  You make some excellent points.

Tell us about your latest work:
If you’ve read my stories or been to my website, you know that I like to put little Easter eggs in my books. One of the Easter eggs that I put in each book is a clue as to what my next book will be about. So in my most recent book, “Leave it to Beamer Presents: The Proof is in the Pudding”, I have an Easter egg which gives a hint at my upcoming book, which is “Leave it to Beamer Presents: Get The Ball Rolling”. In this book, Beamer dreams up a story about a town of gnomes who don’t get along and rarely talk to one another. One day, a giant walking by and drops his toy ball right in the middle of their town. The giant’s ball is so big that it gets in the way and causes all sorts of problems and none of the gnomes are able to move it. Eventually all of the gnomes put their differences aside and start working together to “get the ball rolling” so they can get it out of their town!   What a great way to tell the story!

How did you decide on your story plot?  
My books are all about English idioms and how a young boy, Beamer, could misunderstand them in their most literal form. Since we use idioms multiple times a day, every day, I am constantly surrounded by potential book ideas. Any time I am at work or out shopping or talking with friends and neighbors and I hear someone use an idiom, the gears begin to turn in my mind and I start thinking of potential story ideas. If/when I come up with a good story idea, I make sure to write it down for later. Right now I probably have ideas for around a dozen more books and new ideas are popping up every day. So when I finish with one story, I go to my archives to find the next one!

Do you have a favorite scene you’ve written?
I don’t have a favorite scene. However, people always ask me which one of my books is my favorite. This is kind of like asking me which one of my kids are my favorite! However, I will always have a very special place in my heart for my first book, “Leave it to Beamer Presents: Don’t Let the Cat Out of the Bag”, because it was my first book and the one that helped me realize my dream of becoming a published author!  Yes, that first book is always memorable.  Thanks for stopping by today.



Here are some links to Clay.
My website: www.leaveittobeamer.com
My Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/ClayBouraBooks
My Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/ClayBoura
My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT_mR22i0J9iGK5p3WWXnug/

My books can be purchased online through my website (https://www.leaveittobeamer.com/store.html), online through my Etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeaveittoBeamer) on Amazon.com, BooksAMillion.com and many other places. You can also check out my website for “Where to Buy” (https://www.leaveittobeamer.com/books.html - scroll down to the bottom of the page).

I am also available for school visits, library visits, book fairs and other events and can be e-mailed at kartunist78@yahoo.com




                                                 MUSIC


A good friend suggested I always include Motown music as part of the newsletter, because there is such a great collection of artists and songs going back more than fifty years.  I agree. However, every once in a while, you need to change it up.

So this month, here’s a tip of the rock and roll hat to one of Motown’s favorite sons. Bob Seger’s deep voice has been a driving force for years. Whether it’s ballads or the ‘get you moving’ tunes, Seger never disappoints.
Here’s my top five from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

Betty Lou’s Getting Out:  https://youtu.be/bQSpvk6Vtfc
Old Time Rock and Roll: https://youtu.be/W1LsRShUPtY
Rock & Roll Never Forgets: https://youtu.be/cO3bufB547A



Sunday, April 26, 2020

What's Cookin?


Every once in a while, I like to mess around in the kitchen.  Usually I can throw together salads or some eggs (I do make a mean omelet) and I enjoy flipping through cookbooks to discover something new. My wife tolerates this and on occasion is pleased with what I come up with.

So the other night I had the opportunity to put together a favorite, which consists of shrimp, veggies and pasta.  The original recipe comes from a Paul Newman cookbook and it always seems to work well. I rarely take pictures of any meal, let alone one I created, but this looked pretty good.


In an effort to make my characters believable and realistic, some of them are comfortable in the kitchen. Others are not.  Hey, it’s not for everybody. I can think of one person who considers making toast cooking.  Another whose response to ‘what did you make for dinner’ inevitably says ‘reservations’.   Everyone likes to eat. But not everyone cooks.

Including these traits, whether good or bad, can bring a character to life.  In my latest story, “Don’t Mess with the Gods” Michael has no culinary skill whatsoever. He even tries to blame the kitchen for his burnt toast. That doesn’t make him a bad guy. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. So should our characters.


Sticking with the culinary theme, here’s a bit from “Your Turn to Die” the second book in the Jefferson Chene series.  In this scene, Chene returns home following the first day of the homicide investigation. He is on unfamiliar ground, as being in a relationship is a new experience for him.


Simone’s car was in the driveway. She was in the tiny backyard, relaxing on one of the wooden deck chairs that I keep meaning to paint. Simone was facing west, enjoying the sunshine. Her eyes were hidden behind large oval sunglasses. There was a mischievous smile playing across her face.
“I hope it’s okay that I stayed. I wasn’t sure if you’d be back early or not, but it’s more peaceful here than at the apartment.”
“I don’t mind at all.”
She was wearing a gold tank top and a pair of denim shorts. Her slender legs were bare. I settled into the chair beside her.
“You have some very friendly neighbors.”
“I do?”
Her laughter was light and musical. “Yes, you do. A lot of people going out on their boats, up and down the canal. Everyone waves and toots the horn.”
“Two things you need to understand. One, when a boat is leaving a canal like this and entering the lake, they are supposed to sound the horn to alert other boaters. There’s only one more house at the end of the street, which puts us pretty close to the lake. So they may not have been blowing the horn at you.”
A smirk crossed her face. She pushed up out of the chair and came over, settling onto my lap and sliding one arm around my neck.
“And two?”
“Two is I’ll bet most of people waving were guys admiring a beautiful woman.”
The kiss that followed was slow and tender. “Good answer.”
Without getting into too much detail, I told her about the investigation. There was a flicker of concern when she noticed the bandage on my arm. That faded when I assured her it was nothing serious. We talked in generalities. Simone could find out most of the information from the media. After a while we moved into the kitchen. She boosted herself up onto the counter as I began putting things together for dinner.
“Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy it when you cook for me?”
“No, but I don’t remember any complaints. Hungry?”
“Starved. I was going to give you one more hour. If you hadn’t called, I was going to head home and pick up a hot dog along the way.”
“A hot dog?” Skepticism filled my voice. “Are you telling me I could get away with feeding you hot dogs?”
She swung a foot at me. “No, you can’t. I’d eat a hot dog from Lafayette’s if we were going to a baseball game or downtown for something. But if you’re cooking, I expect great fare. So what are you making anyway?”
“It’s shrimp with some fresh veggies on angel hair pasta.”
She groaned in anticipation. “What can I do to help?”
While I put the dinner together, she took half a loaf of French bread, split it and sprinkled olive oil and herbs down the center and put it in the oven on high heat. Then she cleaned some fresh berries and grapes to accompany the meal. When the pasta was ready, I put it on two plates and garnished it with quarters of fresh avocado. Simone handed me a bottle of Reisling to complete the meal. We ate quietly, enjoying the fresh air from the lake.
“I have to go to work tomorrow,” Simone said softly as we cleaned up the kitchen. I noticed how comfortable we’d become, moving together.
“Traffic can be rough in the morning.” I knew it would take her about an hour to get to her office from here.
She dried her hands on a towel as the last pan was put away. “I’ll need a good night’s sleep. It’s going to be a busy week.”
Twilight arrived. We didn’t have the lights on in the house. Shadows were quickly filling up the rooms.
“You could spend the night. I have to be at the post early for a briefing.”
“I don’t have clothes here. I’d have to swing by the apartment anyway to get dressed. I can’t show up for work in shorts and a tank top.”
“I could wake you before I leave, so you’d have plenty of time.”
“Do you want me to stay?” Her voice was even softer now. She was right beside me, her eyes on the floor. I was straining to catch every word.
I turned her to me and tilted her chin up. “Yes, I want you to stay.”
“Then why didn’t you just say so?”
“Stay the night.”
“But I want to get a good night’s sleep.”
“Then I guess it’s time for bed.”

A picture of what Simone would look like


Buy Links

Music this week comes from Jesse Cook.







Sunday, April 19, 2020

THE APRIL ISSUE

NEWS @





Welcome to the second issue.  While I continue to write the occasional blog posts, more than 200 to date, this newsletter provides information about multiple topics. This month I’ll explain about creating one of my favorite characters, share the details about a new project, an interview with another author, and music. There must be music!  So let’s get this party started.

WRITING

It seems like a lifetime ago when I began working on my first book. I was challenged by an old friend to try my hand at creating a mystery. At the same time, I had an acquaintance named Lee who worked in the forensic lab with the Michigan State Police. She was a great source of information to many bizarre questions that would pop into my head over the years.  Lee even helped me set it up to do a ride along with a trooper on patrol, to gain some insight for a character.

While on that ride, I was able to witness many interactions between the public and the trooper.  In addition to a few traffic stops, we also participated in a couple of high speed chases, which was amazing.   During that night, I didn’t have a particular character in mind. It was just research gathering.

But an image began to form in my brain. A female who was confident in her areas of expertise, but a bit vulnerable. I made her an investigative newspaper reporter, so she’d know how to get to the bottom of a story. Independent, loyal, stubborn and determined were traits that also came to mind. She was a ghost. But as I began to add talents and attitude she quickly took shape.  That’s how Jamie was born.

Which created another challenge. I have always written in the first person, so my main character would tell the story. But I’m a guy. I have no clue as to how a woman thinks or feels or reacts to situations. So the research continued. Observing women gave me some ideas about Jamie’s personality and how she would behave. From there, it was a lot of trial and error to get the story to flow from her perspective. 

In addition to the three novels in the series, and one short story (so far) Jamie’s not done yet. She appears in the second Jefferson Chene novel, “Your Turn to Die” and may play a similar role in the next book.  As to her own series, she is impatiently waiting for me to develop another book.
Here’s a photo of what Jamie may look like.



A New Project
While my previous stories have all been mysteries, or romance/mysteries I had the opportunity to try something new.  Inkspell, which is the publishing house for the Jamie Richmond series and many other great books, periodically does a short story collection. I got word about this last fall and wanted to try something different, a tale with romance and a little paranormal twist.  But this was a bit out of my comfort zone. I needed help.

Enter Elle Nina Castle.  While living in Australia, she read “Why 319?” and wrote a glowing review. We had traded a few emails around this time and I was impressed with her writing. So I pitched the idea of co-writing this novella, with a target of 25,000 words.  To my delight she agreed. A flurry of emails followed and with a little luck on our side, we created “Don’t Mess with the Gods” a modern day twist on a fairy tale.  The story is scheduled to be released as part of the collection in July.  I hope to have Elle make a guest appearance here around that same time.
  

Author Interview: Jana Jenkins

You just never know where or when you’ll discover another talented writer. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Jana Jenkins, who I discovered on Twitter.



Where are you from? 

The middle of nowhere, Indiana.   I spent a week there one day!

What’s your ‘someday’ or dream vacation spot and why?

It’s a tie between a tour of Italy and a tropical island. Italy, because I’d love to see all the beauty and the history, and take cooking classes there! A tropical island, well, I think that one is pretty obvious, to lie on the beach and do nothing!

Any favorite hobbies?

I am a beekeeper! I’m almost as obsessed with my bees as I am with writing! 😊
Wow, that’s quite a difference.  Seems like beekeeping is becoming very popular.

How long have you been writing?
As long as I can remember, but I’d never shared anything publicly until I started doing VSS365 in February 2019.   For those who aren’t familiar with #VSS365, it’s a daily prompt game on Twitter. Each month a different host chooses and tweets a daily prompt word. Anyone who wishes to participate then uses the prompt word to write a tweet-length story. It is challenging and fun! This month’s host is @zevonesque, follow him on Twitter if you’d like to check it out.
I've seen a number of these. Very impressive to create a story in that length.

Are you able to write full time or do you also have a job/career?

I still have a social work day job. I work as an abuse prevention educator, which means I travel to schools and teach children body safety, internet safety, and abuse and bullying prevention.

Is there a particular genre that you write?  Or more than one?  What led you to there?

Honestly, I like to play around with all of the genres. I like to push myself to write a little of each, but thriller and suspense are my favorite

Do you use friends or family as characters in your work?

I’ve never used friends or family specifically, but some characters have definitely been based on real people.

What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult? 

I loved scary books as a kid. I devoured Goosebumps and Christopher Pike, then moved onto Dean Koontz and Stephen King as I got older. I also love fast-paced thrillers with a twist, like Harlan Coben and James Patterson.  And my very favorite short-story writer is Mike Rowe, hands down. I love his book and his podcast.

 Has anyone in your life influenced you or encouraged you to pursue your interests of writing? (teacher, family member, friend)

I have always been very private about my writing, actually, most of my family and friends still don’t know I write. I keep thinking that I’ll tell them once my first novel is finished and published, haha.

What is your favorite aspect or writing?

My favorite thing about writing is dreaming up the characters, stories and worlds.

Your least favorite? 

That would definitely be editing!

What aspect of writing would you most like to improve on? 

I think my descriptions could use work. I tend to be very direct and straightforward when I write, so I’m working on the whole “showing, not telling” thing.

Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?  (Food, drink, silence, noise, location, scented candles)

I need music when I write. I usually curl up on the couch with my laptop and ear buds, and then pick a playlist depending on what I’m writing    Yes, music is necessary.

Is there a common theme or item that appears in each of your work?  

 
I seem to write about murder a lot, haha!  I also write a lot of creepy, supernatural type stories and stories about betrayal and revenge.

What have you learned the most from being in the writing business? 

I am brand new at all of this, so I feel like I’m still learning. I just self-published my first book, and that whole process was quite the learning experience!  Congratulations!

Tell us about your book

My most recent work would be my collection of microfiction, Tiny Tales. It is a collection of about a year’s worth of my VSS365 tweets.  I’m also working on my first novel, but it’s still in its infancy.

How did you decide on your story plot?   

The tweet collection obviously didn’t really have a plot, and as far as the novel goes, I’m still deciding on that, haha!

Describe how this method works best for you. Outline or ‘seat of the pants’?  

I’m definitely a “pantser”. I start out with a very loose outline and then just try to let the story take me where I feel like it should go.  That's the method that works for me too!

Do you have a favorite scene you’ve written?

Here’s one from Tiny Tales



She was in the lobby of the ER

“May I?”

“Sure.”

“I’m Ethan”

“Ava. My mom’s in surgery-car wreck.”

“The doctors here #amaze every day”

“Ava, she’s done,” a nurse called.

“Is she okay?”

“She will be, thanks to an organ donor named Ethan.”

She turned; he was gone.

BUY LINKS
You can find Tiny Tales on Amazon:

        
Find Jana on Twitter
Twitter, @janalynnjenkins

Music

Every once in a while, I’ll try to work in silence, just me and the computer, without any music or background noise.  It never works.  Even though my office has a wall behind me, my imagination starts churning up villains sneaking up on me. Or angry girlfriends from my long-ago past.  So music must be the key to keeping them at bay.  





Here's another Motown legend whose music remains popular today. Aretha Franklin was known as The Queen of Soul. With a career spanning over 60 years, Aretha’s catalog of hits is extensive.  

Here’s a list of my top five favorites.





Freeway of Love  https://youtu.be/Ip_pjb5_fgA






Sunday, April 12, 2020

Author Interview: Stephen B. King


Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Stephen B. King. This prolific Australian author has quite a story to share.  But before we get started, let’s take a peek at his new release “Domin8”.



After his wife loses interest in him, fifty-year-old Dave Barndon turns to the dark side of the Internet and sex chat rooms.  There he finds willing partners who are happy to fulfill his needs with no strings attached.  But they aren’t the only ones looking to play.     
When a woman he had an affair with is murdered he becomes the prime suspect.  He thinks his alibi is solid until a second woman is murdered, and then a third.  He fights for his freedom and redemption while the body count rises.  He must figure out who is framing him and why before the killer strikes again.  



So let’s find out more about the man behind the story.  Tell us about your past. 

I was born in the UK but moved to Perth Australia at age 16. I considered myself to be an Aussie from the day I arrived. I proudly took citizenship here, and have never once gone back to my homeland.

What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation?

Boring answer, sorry. I write. Not promote, or edit but write – it is pure joy.

How long have you been writing?

All my life. At school I wrote horror stories that shocked my teacher. I wrote poems about love and war and all things in between. I won two short story competitions as a youth, and then I came to Australia and got into music as a long- haired rock guitarist and wrote songs. But all my life I wanted to write books, and now I do. I am living proof that anyone can achieve their dreams.

Are you able to write full time?

I manage a large Kia Dealership and spend a minimum of 58 hours a week there. I  have been in the motor trade for many, many years. I’d love to be a full time writer, but, until I score that one ‘bestseller’, it ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

Is there one genre that you write?  More than one?  What led you there?

I’d like to think any genre is possible that I get inspiration for. My first love is for a good thriller, preferable a psychological one with an engrossing serial killer. But I’ve written sci-fi romance, a historical romantic thriller and some others under top secret pseudonyms. There have been seventeen poems published, and love songs sung by some reasonably well known people. But my first love is (hopefully) an un-put-down-able thriller.

What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?

Four come to mind instantly. As a teenager John Wyndham who wrote The Midwich Cuckoos, Day of the Triffids and others. Then as an adult, Val McDermid, Stieg Larssen, and Michael Robotham.   I enjoyed Larssen’s triology. Looks like I need to add the others to my reading list.

Has anyone in your life influenced you or encouraged you to pursue your interests of writing?

My English teacher at high school was always supportive. She sent something I wrote for an exam to a literary agent for an appraisal. I left school shortly after and she moved to Scotland, so I never saw Mrs. Stewart again. One day I picked up a major rock album in a record shop and there on the inside of the cover was that piece I wrote. I realized then I could write and began to dream.

What is your favorite aspect or writing?

Even though my publisher won’t let it stay in the book, the absolutle best part is writing THE END on a first draft.  Yes, that is quite a feeling of accomplishment.

Your least favorite? 

The re-writes and edits. But I have a saying: ‘write from the heart and edit from the head’.   Great advice!

What aspect of writing would you most like to improve on?
 
Having left school at fifteen, I hate that I don’t know grammar as well as I should. That’s why I need my editor. Thank goodness she puts up with me.

Is there a common theme or item that appears in each of your work?  
 
It’s true to say there is always, without fail, a love element, no matter how dark the story.  In fact, the darker the story, the more it needs lightening, and love is the best way to do that. We all are in love or looking for it, had it and lost it and striving to find it again. Love is such a part of what makes us human beings. I’d find it difficult to write a hundred thousand word novel and not put a love story in there somewhere.  Yes, the pursuit of love and happiness are the key to so many stories.

What have you learned the most from being in the writing business?

That the greatest gift I have is to be able to entertain. If I can get the reader to invest in my characters, I can take them by the hand and take them on a roller-coaster ride.

Your latest book comes out on Monday, April 13.  Care to share an excerpt?

Oh, my God, will the embarrassment of tonight never end? They’ve read my emails? I must have turned an even deeper shade of red, because he smiled and chuckled. “Oh, don’t worry, you weren’t the only one. Let’s just say she enjoyed being single and led a very uninhibited lifestyle. Your letters were kind of tame compared to some of the other men, and women, she dated. But the fact is on Saturday night, so far as we know, you were the last person to see her alive. She died sometime between nine and ten, so the Medical Examiner tells us, though that is never an exact science.”

I sat open mouthed and couldn’t speak. After what could have been seconds but may have been minutes, I became aware they had been watching me closely, obviously to gauge my reaction. “But she was in her late thirties or early forties and pretty fit.  What killed her, a heart attack or something?”

“No, Mr. Barndon. Someone bashed her head in with a piece of scaffolding pipe in your motel room. I’ve never seen so much blood and brains splattered everywhere in my life.”

The shock and the thought of what it must have looked like was too much; I vomited. I only just turned my head in time; otherwise, I would have hit them with the projectile. My earlier dinner came up, and my stomach continued to empty until I was dry retching. Through the fog, I heard a voice ask, “are you alright? Would you like me to call your wife, Mr. Barndon?”

How did you decide on your story plot?

A combination of things. An episode of a very good British TV show called Wire in the Blood featured a serial killer using the screen name of Domin8. Then consider the rise in popularity of Fifty Shades of Gray which seemed to make submissive women ‘cool’. And at poker one night with a bunch of fifty-year-old male friends, everyone lightheartedly complained about the lack of sex in their marriages. Those three things percolated around until I came up with Dave, his addiction to sex in a sexless marriage, and a stalking serial killer who wants to punish him by murdering everyone in his life and framing him for the killings.

Outline or ‘seat of the pants’ writing? 

I start at the beginning and go forward from that point. I don’t have a plan, or an outline, I write my way toward the unknown ending. What I find is that I want to write to find out what happens next. In re-writes I play around with things like the order of chapters, add more or delete some, but a first draft for me needs to flow from the heart chronologically.

Do you have a favorite scene you’ve written? What makes it special? 

For my enjoyment the best scene(s) are the ones that I had no idea what I was going to write before I wrote it. Sometimes I read it back when it’s done and say: “Wow, where the hell did that come from?” This is particulary true for the ending of Domin8. I had no idea what was going to happen when Dave finally gets to confront the killer and find out why such horror had been inflicted on him. Of course it doesn’t matter what I think, it’s up to the reader. But the final scenes in Domin8 are to my mind very good, and I certainly enjoy a sense of achievement even today through editing and revisions I’ve read it a hundred times.

Thanks for stopping by Steve. Best of luck with the new book!

A sidenote.  Steve was the inspiration for the collaborative effort that became “Australia Burns” the three book collection of short stories donated by the authors, publishers, editors and staff of  The Wild Rose Press.  Proceeds from the sale of these books are donated to support the ongoing relief efforts.

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You can find out more about Steve and his other novels on the links below.

Twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor