Name: Steve Liddick
Where are you from:
Originally from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area. I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida for a decade; Los Angeles for another decade; went back to Pennsylvania for 12 years. Finally, my wife, Sherry, and I came to Sacramento 26 years ago where we have been ever since.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My second novel will be published in September. The new book is titled “Old Heroes” and is the story of two elderly World War II U.S. Army vets living in a senior care home. One of them is being kept there by a vindictive daughter in law. They make a break for it and go to the Philippines to attend a reunion of their old army buddies and unexpectedly experience an age-defying adventure.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing right after the invention of the pencil. Seriously, I wrote my first novel (“Sky Warriors”) in 1991, but never published it. That will probably be my third—possibly my fourth—book.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t believe I was really a writer until I held a copy of my first novel, “All That Time.” Before that I had all the doubts everyone probably has as to whether my work was ready for prime time.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I suffered a back injury in a workplace accident. I was in pain and had little use of my right hand. I couldn’t work at my profession (radio news correspondent). I’m a licensed private pilot, so I spent my time pecking out a novel about two men who fly across the country and have some adventures along the way. It was never published.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write talking, not writing. Writing writing distracts from the story. I try to be as invisible as possible so the story is the star.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Years ago I met a group of elderly WWII U.S. Army veterans of the war in the Pacific at a reunion. I was so fascinated by their exploits that I was convinced that if they were put in a similar situation today they would again be heroes—despite their advanced age.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
People should realize that old people have value. Just because they can no longer leap tall buildings in a single bound does not mean they should be disregarded or treated as though they are invisible.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Other than being elderly myself and often treated as though I am invisible, the book is roughly based on WWII exploits of real U.S. Army troops in the south Pacific campaign.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Although there is no obvious parallel between my books and those that have influenced me the most, my favorite is “Lucifer’s Hammer,” byLarry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Another is “The Haj,” by Leon Uris. An early mentor was Nora Profit.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite new author is Margaret Duarte who writes Visionary Fiction. My favorite author is John Sandford. What I enjoy most about his style is the realistic dialog, especially in the Virgil Flowers series.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The California Writers Club Sacramento Branch and its members with varied degrees of experience exposed me to knowledgeable people as to the many elements of bringing a novel from idea to bookshelf.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It is my final career. I was a news photographer right out of high school. I transitioned to the radio business and retired after 47 years as a broadcast news correspondent. If I had known how much I enjoy writing I would have switched years ago.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a single word.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I wrote an article for my high school newspaper and enjoyed such acclaim that it made me want to repeat the feeling. But, beyond the acceptance, I enjoy the writing process for its own sake.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Colonel Kelsey looked at Kate Halstadt, her face layered with sweat and dirt as the reality of the events of the past hour came crashing into her psyche. She was without expression, leaning her head against the buckled landing gear of the downed aircraft.
Kelsey watched her for some time before he spoke.
“Talk to me Kate.”
She didn’t answer right away and when she did it was barely a whisper.
“A man died to save my life and I just killed at least two human beings.”
The colonel did not comment immediately, allowing Kate some time to consider what had happened. Then he said, “Kind of gives you a different view of life, doesn’t it?”
“Life is much more fragile than I ever imagined.”
“A pretty bad feeling, isn’t it.”
“Bad doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.”
Kelsey touched her hand gently. “Right. That’s good,” he said.
“Good! How can you say that, colonel?” she almost snapped. “This is the worst moment of my life and you say ‘that’s good’?”
“You’re supposed to feel as you do, Kate.”
“You’re saying that feeling bad should make me feel good?”
“Something like that.”
“Well that’s the stupidest goddam logic I ever heard.”
“An anomaly if ever there was one,” Kelsey agreed. “I don’t suppose it would do any good to tell you those men were trying to kill us all and you saved our asses?”
“No good at all.”
“I thought not.”
“This is something I’ll never forget.”
“Not for the rest of your days,” Kelsey agreed quietly. “I’ll tell you this. I think a hell of a lot more of you for regretting taking lives than I would if you were proud of it. Time will make it better, Kate. I promise you. Hold on until then.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing is such a pleasure for me that it isn’t really work in the negative sense. The hard part is getting published. Hardest of all, is marketing the book.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I travel 50 feet to my little backyard office where I do all of my research and writing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Allowing myself to be distracted. The Internet is the greatest resource for a writer . . . and the greatest distraction, if you allow it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
In exploring the problems of the elderly I identified personally with the slights and the disrespect they suffer from and I was appalled by the extent of it that I had not been fully aware of.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Clint Eastwood as Col. Thomas J. Kelsey. Failing that, Robert Duvall.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up. Don’t write to the market, write what you like. As author Lee Child has said, “Someone will like what you write.”
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you have been inspired and entertained by the story and come away with a better understanding of the suffering of the elderly.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“Between Will and Surrender,” by Margaret Duarte. Wonderful writing in the Visionary Fiction genre.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I had the “What Every Child Should Know” series of books at the age of about eight or nine and read all seven volumes.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Animal babies make me laugh; man’s inhumanity to man makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Benjamin Franklin would be first on the list, followed by Mark Twain.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Here lies a man who lied for a living.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Elementary is the only TV show I watch. Action films that feature gunshots, explosions, car chases and scantily-clad women.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Spanish tapas. Cobalt blue. Bits and pieces of all music genre (no bagpipes, please).
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Television and motion picture production.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?