Name – Steve Vernon
Age – Tiptoeing up on sixty.
Where are you from? – Originally, from a small town named Capreol, in Northern Ontario – about twenty miles north of Sudbury.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Steve: I first began writing back in public school. It started out when I got a good mark for writing a good story. Right away, I put two and two together and figured out that the easiest way for me to do well in school and to get the teacher off of my back was to continue writing good stories. I mean, just think about it. What is a history essay – if not a story? What is a book report? It’s just a story about some book. Around about eleven years old I submitted a story to Alfred Hitchock’s Mystery Magazine and received a handwritten rejection note from an honest to goodness editor. That lit the fire once and for all. From then on I decided that somehow or other I was going to make it as a writer.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I would have to say that the very first time that I considered myself a REAL writer was when I received my first check in the mail. It was for a short story entitled “The Bridge” written for the fiction section of a motorcycle magazine. It was kind of a Mad Max dystopian story and they paid me $125.00 for it – which, to a young man back in 1986, was a pretty respectable amount.
Great, I thought to myself. I am going to be rich.
Unfortunately, I am still working on that whole “rich” end of the equation.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Steve: Let’s go back to that comment about “rich”, shall we? My first novel was entitled LUNENBURG LOVE. I had read that you could make an awful lot of money by writing Harlequin Romance novels and I set out to write myself an honest to goodness Harlequin Romance. Well, it was pretty bad. In fact, let’s give LUNENBURG LOVE its proper due. That book stunk so badly that it gave a good name to road-killed outhouse skunks.
But all the same I learned an awful lot just from seeing that book through to completion. Especially when you consider that I did not have a keyboard or even typewriter to work with. I wrote that by hand on looseleaf – three hundred pages long with five total revisions.
And it still stunk.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Steve: At the heart of it I am a storyteller. I write as if I sitting in front of a campfire and spinning out a yarn. I want my readers to see what I am talking about. I want them to feel it and hear it and experience it – just as I dreamed of it happening when I first thought the whole thing up. I want my words to jump in the middle of your nightmares and yell booga-booga-booga.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Steve: I went to university, two or three times or so, and I majored in English and I minored in Philosophy and I read an awful lot of creative writing assignments – and there was NOTHING that I hated more in the entire known and unknown universe then when I was handed a story or a poem WITHOUT a title.
A lot has been said over the years about how a story needs to reach out and hook the reader right from the very first sentence. Well, the way that I see it, the very first sentence that reader is going to read – IS THE FREAKING TITLE!
So, I try to make it memorable. I try to give my work a title that is evocative. A title that will reach out and poke you out of the slow doze of reality. I want a title that jumps up at the reader and says “Hey, look here, there is freaking story going on!”
So that is how I came up with titles like SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME: A TALE OF HOCKEY AND VAMPIRES. That is how I came out with titles like TATTERDEMON, or PLAGUE MONKEY SPAM, or HAMMURABI ROAD.
I want my title to kick the reader square in their teeth and get their attention right from the get-go.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Steve: Well, there is that old line about “If a writer wants to send a message he ought to try Western Union.” – but I won’t fall back on that. What I will fall back on is the fact that you just cannot write ANYTHING worth reading without laying out some sort of a message – but I rarely sit down and try and come with anything remotely resembling an honest-to-Aesop moral.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Steve: Well, considering that I mostly write in the realm of horror, dark fantasy, and the paranormal you have to understand that a LOT of my writing is NOT going to be all that realistic – but whenever I sit down to write a story, a poem, a novella or a whole freaking novel – I make it a point to write some of the most realistic characters I can think of.
That is how I build anything. People always ask me where I get my ideas from and the best way that I can explain it is to say that I like to imagine normal everyday average people as being wild and bold and exciting. I like to take Joe Normal and throw him into the heart of an apocalyptic inferno – just to see how he would make out.
That is just how I roll, I guess.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Steve: Anything you write is going to be touched with the pigment of your existence. A writer’s imagination is generally poured into a bucket of recollection and personal experience.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Steve: Right off the bat I would have to say that Stephen King’s novel SALEM’S LOT is the very first novel that I read that stuck the notion into my head that I actually wanted to become a writer of horror. In fact, my scarecrow novel TATTERDEMON was written with SALEM’S LOT in mind. There is something about that whole trope of small town horror that I find intensely evocative.
However, the book that first stuck the notion into my head that I wanted to be ANY kind of writer was WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND by prairie author W.O. Mitchell. He came to our high school and spoke to our class and there was something about seeing that man up there in front of the blackboard talking about the way that words can touch the human spirit that woke up something in me that would not ever allow itself to be put down again. I wanted to be a by-god writer!
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Steve: As old school as this may sound – I think I would opt for an old school pulp writer – say somebody like Lester Dent. A guy who churned out books the way that Mcdonalds churns out hamburgers.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading a Dave Barry novel entitled INSANE CITY.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Steve: Currently I am working on two novels.
The first novel, KELPIE DREAMS, is a paranormal romance adventure that I intend to pitch to the folks at Kindle Scout. I ought to be done this and into the submission stage by the end of January 2016.
Over the rest of the remaining winter I hope to complete a YA novel for my local publisher, Nimbus Press.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Steve: Well, seeing as I have ALWAYS had a day job – and I still do – I guess I can’t really call writing my career. Rather, it is my passion and my path and I have followed this path for the last forty years or so. I don’t see me slacking off anytime too soon.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Steve: I’d write it faster. That’s the only thing that comes to mind.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Well, I won’t say too much about the two books I am working on – however I will be happy to talk about my most recent publication which was a YA novel entitled A BLURT IN TIME – THE TALE OF A TIME TRAVELING TOILET, which I personally guarantee to be the most exciting time traveling toilet novel that you have ever read.
The story takes place on Halifax’s Citadel Hill and it involves several local ghost stories, a pirate legend and a curse.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Steve: Time is always a challenge. Having a full time job and taking care of a house ALWAYS takes a bite out of your time.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is always a hard question. I have many favorite authors – including Joe Lansdale, Robert Parker, Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen and JA Konrath. I like authors who can mix a bit of humor with their action.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Steve: I have been to several conventions and festivals – one in New York and one in Toronto. I generally try to get out to author events and book fairs whenever I get the opportunity. I also travel to schools across the province and the country – but primarily in the Halifax region as a writer in the school. I talk to kids from primary right on up to university age and I tell them about writing and storytelling and teachers tell me that I always instill a strong love for the written and spoken word wherever I present.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Steve: Never give up. Never worry about what other people think. Always remember that writing can take a lifetime to master. You are always getting a little better. There is never a day when you do not find something new to learn about writing.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Steve: Nothing more than thanks – and if I could I would buy you all a cold root beer float and a good hamburger and I would sing you a song and shake your hand until someone called for security.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
Steve: Wrestle as a professional wrestler.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?
Steve: You can find my blog at https://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/
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