Name: A.J. Steiger
Where are you from: The Chicago suburbs
A little about your self, ie your education Family life etc:
I graduated from Columbia College in 2005 with a degree in Fiction Writing. I love craft beer, anime, and dogs.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
MINDSTORMER, the sequel to MINDWALKER, will be coming out in spring of 2016.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a compulsion to tell stories. Even as a small child, I loved to make up characters and scenarios. I spent a lot of time in my own head.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably around age twelve. That’s when I really decided that this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life—that it wasn’t just a hobby I’d eventually tire of, it was a part of my identity.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first full-length book was a fantasy novel I wrote as a teenager. I was reading a lot of fantasy at the time and I was in love with the idea of one day seeing my own story on bookstore shelves. Of course, I still had a lot to learn as a writer so my first novel was full of clichés, but it was satisfying to finish something.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Lately I’ve been writing in first person present tense. I like the immediacy of it, and it helps you really get into a character’s head. It’s her story told in her voice.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It just kind of popped into my mind, and I liked how it sounded.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are a lot of messages, but I think the biggest one is about truth. If you try to erase or hide from something painful, whether on an individual or societal level, it usually makes things worse. Sometimes, the most painful memories are the ones we can learn the most from.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
MINDWALKER takes place in the future, but it touches on a lot of current issues, such as domestic terrorism, government surveillance, and the social stigma around mental illness. Also, the technology that exists in the book—such as procedures that can change people’s memories—is already being researched. So in that sense, I think it’s pretty realistic.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not directly, but there’s a lot of myself in all my characters.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
When I was younger I read a lot of Stephen King. I loved the combination of darkness and humanity in his books. They were about horrifying things, but they always left you with some hope. I also had some wonderful teachers at Columbia.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It starts out a little slow, but once you get into it, it has its own distinct style that’s really compelling.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Corinne Duyvis. I haven’t read any of her books yet but I keep hearing good things about them. I like stories about outsiders, people who are different.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’ve already finished the sequel to MINDWALKER. I’m also working on a contemporary YA novel called ALVIE FITZ.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Just one? I’ve had support from so many great people. My friends, my agent, and of course, my readers. But if I had to pick one it would be my partner, Joe. He’s always encouraged me and been there for me, whether I need feedback or just need to vent about something.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I’d like to think that MINDWALKER is just the beginning.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a lot. The book went through a lot of editing, and on the whole, I’m satisfied with how it came out. But if I had the opportunity to edit it again, I’m sure I’d find little things I wanted to tweak.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a kid, I loved movies and books. It just seemed natural to want to create my own stories.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m working on a book called ALVIE FITZ, which is about a teenage girl with autism struggling to live an independent life and overcome a past trauma. It’s also a love story.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes you have to just keep pushing through, even when inspiration fails. It can be tough to keep writing when you feel like it’s not working, but as the saying goes, you can’t edit a blank page. If you can just get your ideas down on paper (or screen), even if they’re still rough, you can work towards improving them.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
It’s tough for me to pick just one! Like I said, Stephen King was a favorite when I was younger, but his later work doesn’t have the same spark for me—I’m not sure if his style changed or if my tastes did. I also really love Lev Grossman’s work, The Magicians and its sequels. The writing is so rich, I feel like you could pluck any random sentence from those books and there’d be something clever or interesting about it.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. I was considering going to the UK to speak at a writing festival, but that fell through. I tend to be a homebody, so I focus on what I can do from here, but I would like to travel a little more in the future.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher, Knopf. And I’m really happy with it. It captures the mood and tone of the book perfectly—there’s something both intimate and mysterious about it.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Figuring out how to end a book is always tough for me. Real life doesn’t have endings, things just change, so an ending always feels somewhat artificial.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Persistence. This book went through a ton of edits, but the effort was worth it.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Find a good beta reader (or ideally, several). A beta reader should be someone who reads within your genre, who really gets your work, and who’s not afraid to be honest. That’s important, because feedback from someone who’s not on the same wavelength can screw you up; someone who only reads spy thrillers probably won’t be an ideal beta reader for an introspective, relationship-driven novel, or vice versa.
Also, if you’re striving to be published, learn how to write a good query letter and get feedback on your query letter, too.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
That I hope MINDWALKER gives them some things to think about, as well as keeping them entertained. That’s what I strive for, anyway.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
One of the earliest books I remember reading (aside from picture books as a small child) is Bunnicula, the story of a vampire bunny who befriends a dog and cat. I also loved the Redwall novels.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The Internet. It’s changing our culture in a lot of ways, and that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve seen some hilarious and clever stuff online, as well as some very moving and meaningful things, and have connected with some cool people. I’ve also seen and read some really troubling stuff. Online, many people feel that they can say anything without consequence, and that exposes some of the darkness in our collective soul.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Edward Snowden. I just think it would be fascinating to talk to him.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I’m planning to be cremated so I likely won’t have a headstone. Even if I did, I’m not sure how I’d answer that question. It’s really hard to come up with a single message that you want to leave the world with.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Reading (of course), drawing, going to zoos and museums, visiting the city, spending time with my loved ones, and going for walks out in nature.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Breaking Bad and Lost are my favorite live action shows. I also enjoy a lot of anime, especially science fiction like Psycho-Pass and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Pizza and sushi/amber. As for music, I listen to everything from symphonic metal to Broadway musicals. There’s no genre of music I’m closed to. I even like the occasional country or hiphop song.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If I couldn’t write I’d probably be an artist. I need a creative outlet. But I’d probably keep my day job too. It seems even tougher to make a living as an artist than as a writer.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Just my Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AJ_Steiger
One of these days I’ll probably get on Facebook.
Amazon Authors page http://www.amazon.com/A.J.-Steiger/e/B00OI0YZRC/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1