Thank you all for stopping in to learn about an author who may be new to you or get to know Steve a little better. Welcome to my interview space! Grab yourself a drink at the bar over there, have a seat or mingle among the other guests. We're here to find out what makes Steve tick and how those wonderful stories come about. I've included a few links for Steve so you can hop over to his sites and roam around a bit. Let's get started!
Tonya: Steve, welcome to my blog. My readers are anxious to get to know you and add your books to their TBR lists! Tell us a bit about yourself. Do you have a day job?
Stephen: Hmm, well I’m not as young as I use to be, but I’m not as old as I’m going to be. ;-) Seriously, I’ve been in a traditional marriage with the same wonderful, woman for the last twenty five years. All the normal frustrations of dealing with somebody for that long aside…I adore my wife; I’m one of the lucky ones, though it makes me, the individual, horribly boring in romantic matters. No one is interested in the type of drama a long term relationship generates. Of course, to go Shakespearian on you, in regards to barn yard matters, imagination makes up for what reality lacks and for you, the reader, that is the important part. You’ve got to love Elizabethan euphemisms. I believe in love and being a reincarnationist, well, I’ll let the prescript to The Hollow Curse (available from Club Lighthouse Publishing website: www.clublighthousepublishing.com ) say it for me.
There are two forces that are stronger than death, love and hate. They draw us together in life after life, forming families of souls traveling through time together. Of these two, love is the stronger and more persistent. Like gravity, its force stretches between the stars and across all time; because of this no parting in love will ever last, no sorrow is eternal. Love makes a lie of all obstacles; age, race, gender, caste or station are as nothing before its subtle might. Even hate, its strongest foe, must fall before the pervasive force of love. Thus love binds us to love and eternity becomes a friendly place we journey through with those our hearts hold dear.
I’m also a Pagan Priest. The core beliefs that people get back what they put out and a person is responsible for their actions and will receive a just retribution inform everything I write. Until recently I worked as a Lifeguard / Swim instructor. Sadly years of doing eggbeater kick, the only kick suitable for brining in an aquatic spinal victim, has contributed to knee injuries and I’m not up to facing the pain in doing a required bi-annual recertification of my qualifications. I’ve also worked at a winery, on a fruit loading bay, in a balloon factory, as a S and R clerk and a professional psychic and a collage teacher doing courses on developing PSI abilities. Yeah spooky, so shelve the ectoplasm and fire up the barby. In my youth I trained as an Emergency Medical Care Assistant. At present I’m putting the coals to my writing.
I’ve been a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and know how to fence as well as having a grounding in fighting long sword, long sword and shield as well as using a short bow. I’m a museum hound and love the excuse to research my writing gives me. In other words the sword fight in The Hollow Curse is quite accurate.
I live in southern Ontario with three cats, who really run the house, and a very tolerant wife. Everything except historical information above is subject to change on a moment’s noticed.
Tonya: What an interesting background, Steve! Some of us have things we do to get into the writing frame of mind like music, or drinks. Do you have anything special you do to get into the writing mood?
Stephen: As a rule, I’ll spell correct then read over and do a quick edit on the previous day’s work. Nothing to intense, just a quick clean up then I’ll start in on the new pages. Several more edits will come once I’ve got the rough draft done. Of course there is also the ritual of getting the cat to settle on my lap and stop bumping my typing hands with her head.
Tonya: Are you ever at a loss for ideas? What do you do to get past those time? I don’t have them often but being out in my yard and gardens helps me get creative.
Stephen: I sometimes get blocked on executing an idea I have, but I’m never at a loss for story ideas.
One thing I do is plot while I’m doing my swim. It takes me about an hour to swim three Kilometers so that’s three hours a week to work out problems and bring those solutions back to the computer. For the most part the next step of the process is implied by the last few pages written though I’ll admit there have been a few occasions where I had to toss a group of pages and restart from an earlier decision. This usually occurs when I force a character to do something I want them to do instead of allowing the action to grow from the characters nature. As I’ve gained more experience I’ve gotten better at stepping back and letting my characters dictate their own actions. In an odd sort of way being a writer is like being a Game Master. If anyone has played role playing games, yes I’m a geek, you know what world building is like. As a game master you build the world and let the players do what they do within it. You supply logical consequences to those actions based on the world you’ve built. Writing, for me at least, is like that. My characters come alive and take on personalities of their own. At that point I just set up situations and let them cope with them. I’m sure my characters would all tell you I’m a sadistic S.O.B. who they want to punch out.
Tonya: From one geek to another, thanks for being here, Steve! LOL Do you have a card file where you keep story ideas? Where do they come from?
Stephen: I will put ideas down in a computer file if I remember to. Honestly, I tend to forget about it. There are just so many story ideas. Look around watch the news, the world is full of stories. Heck a funny one I have involves a group of people that get turned into cats. Guess where that came from, oh come on guess, he says as a furry body rubs against his legs and the sound of feline howling comes from the kitchen as the litter box in the basement undergoes yet another deep mining expedition.
I write primarily speculative fiction, so I tend to choose an everyday thing and take it one step out of the everyday so that people are forced to look at it with new eyes. Or I just look at the world and see where logic takes me.
The world of Tinker’s Plague (available from Draumr Publishing Website: www.draumrpublishing.com ) is a good example of following a logic projection into the future. I looked at what we are doing today and asked myself where we would be in 200 years time if we kept on as we are going. It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s not as dire as some would have you believe. Of course it’s set a hundred years after society collapses so some of the mess we leave the Earth in has had a chance to heal. In Slaves of Love (Available from Club Lighthouse Publishing Website: www.clublighthousepublishing.com ) I wanted to address a society where good men can’t hit back. This reflects the silliness of today where someone can break into your house in the middle of the night and if you kill or injure them the state will persecute, yes that is the right word for it, you. I also wanted to explore the power of love not just in a romantic sense but the love of family and friends as well. Much of what you see there is torn from actual events. The concept of mail order brides and women being indentured into servitude as same is part of our past and sadly still goes on today. The use by criminals of drugs to control people again is sadly a fact as is how often money buys immunity to prosecution. I also wanted to explore the infatuation response and the psychological mechanics of partner abuse. I combined these things then enhanced them and wove a story.
In The Hollow Curse I wanted to explore the barriers society puts up to people being in love and how foolish they are. I also wanted to showcase a realistic Pagan couple, ain’t much difference folks, and possibly dispel some misconceptions. It was also my goal to show the triumph of love.
You can see in all of these, I start from what’s in front of me, the real world, and mix and match elements to make an internally consistent whole.
Tonya: Tell us about a day in your life as a writer.
Stephen: Wake up. Convince a cat that I can’t lie there all day. Make coffee. Drink coffee as I check my e-mail, face book, Good Reads, and other promotional sites. This is usually done with a cat on my lap bumping my hand when I stop petting her. Clear spam. Here it varies. Lately, I’ve been going over the Gallies for an upcoming book Nukekubi: Ray McAndrews, a current day Wizard, must neutralize a Nukekubi, a form of Japanese goblin, that is feasting on the people of Toronto. Nukekubi are quite grisly, they look human during the day but at night separate their heads from their bodies and fly around eating people. Ray is helped in his battle by his friend with benefits Cathy and two Martial artists who have made hunting Nukekubi their life’s work. It should be out early next year from Dark Dragon Publishing. (Dark Dragon Publishing Website: www.darkdragonpublishing.com )
If I’m not doing gallies I’ll either be writing rough draft or editing a “finished” piece. After a few hours of this I’ll probably prep a manuscript for submission selecting a potential publisher and creating a submission package that matches their guidelines then sending off to them. I’ll also use this time to set up promotion opportunities such as booking a table at a SF convention and or preparing information for panels I’m serving on at a convention. After this, if I’m lucky, I may have some time to vacuum, work on the car or any of the other annoying everyday life things we all have to do.
Tonya: Are you a daytime writer, night time writer, and do you have to be alone to write?
Stephen: I tend to write during the day though if I have a bout of insomnia I’ve been known to edit at night. I need to be alone, excepting cats. I’ve learned that when you have three cats you are never alone. Often crazy but never along.
Tonya: Do you have critique partners or ever been in a critique group? What was the best thing you learned from a critique?
Stephen: Definitely. I don’t think anyone can make it without outside input. For speculative fiction, I highly recommend the Critters on line Writers group. (Critters Website: www.critters.org ). I also recommend finding people who share your passion and getting into a face to face writers’ group. A short warning is that Fan Fic groups don’t count. The rules of etiquette in fan fic groups prevent people giving a writer the brutal honesty they need to improve.
As to what I’ve learned, I’d have to say brevity, every word should pull weight. In writing, one strives to say it once, say it well then trust the reader to retain it. That and to write to your audience. If I say FTL to people who follow my erotica / romance I’m missing the point. To my SF fans it’s okay. It stands for Faster Than Light by the way. It’s something of a break point in space based science fiction.
Tonya: Do you write better when you first have an idea of what your characters look like or do you write, then add character looks?
Stephen: When writing, I tend to start with character looks because I believe in introducing characters organically as if the audience was meeting them. So first you see a person, second you may overhear something they say. Third you may speak to them and come to know them casually. Then as the relationship progresses you get to know them better.
In actually designing the character I almost work opposite to this. I start knowing roughly what that character will have to do so I give them a skill set and basic attributes such as intelligence strength and the like. After this the appearance will be dictated by these decisions. If I need the character to run a long distance for some reason that will imply a level of fitness. Their profession will dictate much of them. My male lead in Tinker’s Plague, Brad, travels a post-apocalyptic world. He is tough; he’s good looking in a cowboy kind of way but hasn’t had a day in his life when every hair was in place. My female lead in Tinker’s Plague grew up in the Dark Lands, areas without electricity. As a result she is what I like to call ‘hard work fit’ pretty but she keeps her hair back in a pony tail so it doesn’t fall into her work. Her finger nails are clean but cut short because she is a village healer and she can’t have them getting in the way. I think the important thing is to make consistent individuals.
Tonya: Do you always include HEA and is that type of ending important to you?
Stephen: Happily Ever After, how boring. You sit around mooning at each other for the rest of your days.
The thing is, in my view, there are no endings or beginnings, only the cycle eternal. The simple answer is no. Some of my endings can be tragic but never hopeless. I’m currently trying to market a book called Dinosaur’s Ending: Scientent Neolithic dinosaurs struggle to survive at the time of the great cretaceous extinction. Needless to say, everybody dies at the end. There is a love story in it involving two intelligent Raptor type dinosaurs that mate once a year. Interestingly enough, the book is based largely on real science. The relevance is I will do bummer endings, but even with the extinction of my lead character’s species he dies with honor fighting to the end and maybe in that battle there is a kind of salvation. I don’t do hopeless and I don’t do helpless in my life or my fiction.
Tonya: Where can our readers find you and your books?
Stephen: The most fun place to find me is my website Stephen’s Place at: www.stephenpearl.com . Where you can read the first chapter of any of my published books for free. There are also short stories, meditations, articles on sustainable energy generation and the environment. My personal appearances at conventions will also be listed here as well as links to other authors and reviews of their works.
I’m also listed on the following sites which may be updated a little faster than my personal site for things like signings.
Tonya: Steve, thank you so much taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us this week. Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
Stephen: Hmm, lots, A political party you should never support is the… oh you mean about writing. ;-) How embarrassing, I almost crossed a line, oh my. People might start to think I’m opinionated.
I do have one off topic thing. Just a reminder, we are at the height of the swimming season. If you have a pool or are close to a body of water please keep your ears and eyes open. Remember that a Sheppard’s hook and or throwing ring and rope can save most drowning victims.
A simple, cheap, rescue tool anyone can make is to take a boat’s bumper buoy and tie a rope to it so the rope loops through the holes around the buoy’s sides. Leave the rest of the rope attached and put a loop in its other end. The buoy can be thrown to a drowning person and they can be pulled to safety.
Most important, unless you are trained to do so, never jump in to save a drowning person, it is better to have one victim instead of two. Even highly trained professional lifeguards will do a low risk rescue over a high risk one. A good rescue is a dry rescue. The motto of the Life Saving Society of Canada is Reach, Throw, Row, Go, Tow. This is an abridged version of what’s called the rescue ladder. The lower on the ladder you are the less risk to the rescuer. Never climb higher than your skill level allows and never go higher than you have to.
Thanks for reading and keep smiling.
Tonya: Thank you all for stopping by to read and learn about Steve and his work. Please feel free to leave a comment or question - he'll be around all week. Your support is appreciate and we're glad you stopped in whether you left a comment or not!