Name Stephen Kozeniewski
Age Mumble mumble…
Where are you from
Scenic Norristown, Pennsylvania
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I got my degree in German from Millersville University, which is right in the heart of Pennsylvania German country, so that was a good fit. I live with my wife and two cats not far from Harrisburg.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest news? Oh, boy, what’s the latest thing? Well, I guess that would be signing a nine book deal with horror titan Permuted Press. I signed on for three trilogies and book one of the first trilogy should be going into editing this summer
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I won an award for writing when I was 6 or 7 so it’s been a while. As for why, boredom I guess. There’s only so many times you can play Minesweeper or Rodent’s Revenge during the long hot summers at your dad’s apartment. I mean, I guess I could’ve gone outside…
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Twelve? Ish? I guess? Anyway, that’s when I finished my first novel.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published book, right? Well, BRAINEATER JONES was actually kind of an act of frustration. A lot of my trunked manuscripts up until that point were very complex, with multiple viewpoint characters. But all the advice I kept getting was “Focus on a single protagonist.” So I just kind of thumbed my nose and said, “Oh, you want just one main character? Fine! I’ll give you ONE main character. A main character you’ll never forget!” Guess it worked out though, right?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I consider myself proto-Cambrian.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
BRAINEATER JONES? I’ve told that story a hundred times so I’ll tell how I came up with the title of my second novel. THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is a play on Solzhenitsyn’s THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO. This was a rare instance where a punny title coincided with the plot. Much to their credit my publisher, Severed Press (God bless you guys) didn’t make me change it. I’ve got my fingers crossed they’ll feel the same way about the next manuscript I have with them, which has an even wackier title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
See, there is, but I don’t believe in force-feeding that to my readers. Like, I don’t think authorial intent is as important as a reader’s interpretation. Yeah, I had a fairly stark message I was trying to put across. But if you read it and say, “Oh, obviously this is a critique of 17th century scrimshaw techniques” then more power to you. In fact, I encourage you to have your own wild, epileptic tree theories.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
BRAINEATER JONES? None. I mean, I guess the era slang is somewhat realistic. THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO I guess is a little more real emotionally, but it’s still over-the-top. Sorry, I’m not really big into realism. 🙂
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It will probably not surprise my readers to know that I am an avid drinker of Old Crow.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Can I just say THE BROTHERS KARMAZOV?
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Um, I’m very solitary and I don’t really believe in taking writing advice. I don’t really consider anyone my Obi-Wan. However, that being said, Bill Braddock has been really supportive and helped me with a few issues I’ve been having. And Kate Moretti has been my marketing mentor.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
THE BEHOLDER by Ivan Amberlake.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
See, that’s tough because I know so many of them. If I had to pick one person, I’d say Claire Ashby. I got to read her forthcoming WHEN YOU MAKE IT HOME and oh my goodness it’s amazeballs. I don’t even read romance, either, but she’s just that good.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m midway through two of the aforementioned nine novels I owe Permuted Press. I’m currently editing what I think will be called BLACK SUN, BLOOD MOON, which is Book I of THE HYENA series. And I’m still pounding the keyboard on HUNTER OF THE DEAD, Book I of the MODERN BLOOD series. Oh, and I’m working on an entry for the BRAVE NEW GIRLS anthology curated by Mary Fan and Paige Daniels.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Oh, wow, that’s a good question! Um, I’ve gotten some complaints about the first chapter which is sort of a stealth prologue. But, see, it’s hard to say that I would change that, because I think tonally it was really important. Oh, I do know what I would have done if I hadn’t been so lazy. I would have changed one character’s gender.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Oh, I think it was just seeing that my egg donor had a typewriter. This was a magical time called the ‘80s when we weren’t all so jaded and demanding our devices blink at us with colored lights and entertain us. (Except Simon.) So just the fact that I could create words on a page was pretty mind-bending.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Yeah, sure, why the heck not? How about the introduction to our “hero” from HUNTER OF THE DEAD:
The man in buckskin sat atop a pile of sickly, purple-skinned corpses in varying states of dismemberment. He gulped at a bottle of cheap liquor, maybe one step up from Thunderbird, though Nico didn’t recognize the label. Old Harper it read and the man gulped it down like candy.
“You’ll be the professor’s nephew, then?” the drunken murderer asked by way of introduction.
“Ye…yeah,” Nico replied, cursing himself for stuttering.
The man angled his body, stiffened like a board, and raised his angel wings. He slid down off the pile o’ corpses like a child too poor to afford a sled. He hit the ground and bounced up, swearing at his old knees. In addition to the buckskin clothes that made him look like Daniel Boone less a coonskin cap, the man wore two bandoliers across his chest. Instead of shotgun shells, though, the bandoliers held wooden stakes.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Very few people know this about me but I don’t emotion good. (Cue the laughter of my beta readers and fellow authors Mary Fan and Elizabeth Corrigan.)
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Brian Keene. He has a unique capacity to create scenarios of claustrophobic, overwhelming, existential terror.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Oh, a bit. I’ve done conventions as far away as Raleigh, NC, but mostly it’s more in my area: Baltimore, Philly, Carlisle, and so forth.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Ah, well, the cover for BRAINEATER JONES was designed by the lovely and talented people at Streetlight Graphics who have a good working partnership with my publisher Red Adept. The cover for THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO was done I believe in-house by my other publisher, Severed Press out of Hobart, Australia.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding a publisher. 130 rejections over four years. Fun!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
“Kids, as you walk down that road of life, remember: just because it says non-toxic doesn’t mean you should eat it.”
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never draw to an inside straight.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. Time seems to be in short supply these days. There’s kids, work, home moanership, and all manner of other ungodly things sucking away your free time. And when you do have actually time for leisure, the dazzle of Candy Crush must be mind-boggling. So when you actually take the time to read one of my books instead of all that other stuff you could or should be doing, it fills me with gratitude. It’s like you’re giving me a gift. So thank you.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Hmmm, that’s a good question. It was probably THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR or THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK. If you mean the first proper novel, it was probably A STUDY IN SCARLET.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
My boilerplate answer to this is wargaming but good heavens I can’t even remember the last time I actually did that. Is TV a hobby? Because I LURVES me some TV.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Oh, nice segue. That wasn’t even planned. Hmmm let’s see most recently I’ve been watching Louie, Fargo, Regular Show, and I watch Colbert and Stewart every night. Oh, and I’ve been watching Star Trek TNG daily lately. In fact, it’s almost on…
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Cheesesteak/not really/The Who
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Here’s the link where folks can purchase my books: