Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born and raised in South Jersey – an important fact. I earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communications in 2000, and then spent seven years as a reporter and assistant editor at weekly newspapers in Maine. In 2007 my family moved out to my wife Carrie’s home state of Wyoming so I could work as to the editor of a weekly newspaper. Today I work at the local library in Buffalo where we live with our two sons. In October 2009, Marcher Lord Press, an independent publisher of Christian science-fiction and fantasy, published my first novel, The Word Reclaimed. It’s an epic space opera tale of a young man who finds a book amidst the wreckage of a starship, and adventure that ensues as he avoids the galactic religious police, who are adamant the book be destroyed. The sequel, The Word Unleashed, is due out from MLP in April.
Why did you start writing?
I’m not sure why I started writing. It’s something I’ve done since early elementary school. Perhaps it’s because creating your own little universe allows the freedom to write about any issue you want, in a somewhat veiled fashion. It could be, however, that I just saw so many cool starships and adventures that I wanted to create my own.
How did you select your genre?
I’ve always loved science-fiction, especially space opera (e.g. Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly). My bookshelves have many great selections from this genre. When I found my faith, or it found me, I started turning my ideas around so that the reflected Christian themes.
What is your writing day like?
My writing day is pretty much evening-oriented. I work for a few hours in the morning at a print shop and then the rest of the day at a library. Ideas stream into my head at any point in time, so I squirrel those away as soon as they arrive, be it in my notebook or a scrap of paper. It’s only after work, after the kids are in bed, and after the dishes are done that I give writing my full attention. Though sometimes I can sneak in some during my lunch breaks.
How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
I try to roughly outline the chapters for my stories in a large notebook. Random notes that I accumulate throughout the day wind up clipped inside or transcribed onto the notebook pages. Plus, I enjoy sketching characters and the starships for my novels-it helps me visuals people and scenarios, and is a great way to generate new ideas.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
The most surprising thing about these fictional characters is that, by writing about their actions, you come to think more clearly about your own. Yes, I know, they are pretend people, but as you write more and more, they really do take on their own lives. By watching their lives, you do think more about your own motivations, reactions, and beliefs.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
I have started keeping such a list on characters for a third novel I have in the works. I keep stats on their physical characteristics, mannerisms, clothing, speech, overall attitudes, hobbies, etc. These are all things that real people show to the world or select individuals in their lives; characters in a book should do the same to seem as realistic as possible.
What does your work space/office look like?
Well… it’s mostly concentrated in my backpack. My closet in our apartment has room at the bottom for several large shelves, so that’s where I hoard my drawing supplies, technical notes, and the like. I keep a notebook, sketchpad, and background info for my sci-fi in my backpack. The rest of my work space is digital, and is saved on a thumb drive.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
Anything. And I do mean anything. It could be a granola bar, or saltines, or cheese, or a Hershey’s bar, … I’m not picky.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
Definitely Merchanter’s Luck by C.J. Cherryh. It’s a great “real world” kind of sci-fi, complete with a reluctant hero who is not particularly brave or lucky. He deals with betrayal, the pain of losing his family, the fear of losing his ship, and still manages to cut a few corners to pay his bills. It’s a story of a character on the fringe of the big goings-on in galactic politics and economics, and a fun read.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
That’s easy- Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist, by Jeff Gerke (my publisher.) It’s an excellent book that lays out a very precise way to make realistic characters for your stories, by making you consider all those little traits that add up to a real person. It’s available from Marcher Lord Press.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of The Word Reclaimed, leave a comment AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS (I cannot enter you to win if I can’t contact you!). Or, if you have questions, comments, or encouragement for Steve, please leave him a note.
A winner will be selected Monday, March 1 at noon. Have a great weekend!