This week’s Interview With An Author is with Steve Vernon
What got you into writing?
I grew up in Northern Ontario. I was raised by my grandparents and I spent a great deal of my time prowling through the woods surrounding our small railroad town. That gave me a lot of dedicated solitude and time to think. That solitude and silence was a fine brew for the growing of fiction.
What really turned the trick for me, though, was school. I hated homework – but once I figured out that all I had to do was to write a good story and hand it in then suddenly I became inspired and motivated. If the history teacher asked me for an essay on Christopher Columbus I wrote a story detailing his cruise across the Atlantic – because an essay is nothing more than a story with facts.
If an English teacher asked for a book report then I just sat down and wrote a story about why I enjoyed reading a certain book and why I figure that author wrote that certain book and what exactly were the characters thinking in that certain book when they went ahead and did whatever it was they were doing.
The key turned and the door unlocked for me the moment that I realized that MOSTLY what my teachers were going on and on about was just learning how to communicate – and storytelling is one of the basic foundations of human communication. Sooner or later we are ALL going to open up our mouths and let slip those fateful words – “This is how it happened” and before you say once-upon-a-time a story falls out.
The only thing it did not do for me was help me with math. Not all of the my-dog-ate-my-homework or my-mom-threw-my-homework-into-the-woodstove-for-kindling or my-dog-ate-my-cat-who-ate-my-homework-in-the-first-place helped me one figure out algebra.
I hate math more than any man in the entire universe.
What’s your favourite book and why?
I hate that question almost as much as I hate math. It’s a little like asking a mother to name her favourite child – and we’re not even talking about the books I have written. I have read SO many books that it would take a half a million mathematically trained monkeys armed with a thousand abaci each to calculate just the shear word-count.
Still, if I had to pick ONE book I believe I would say Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. It’s a short, strong and vivid yarn that catches me down deep, hooking me in places that I don’t even have words for.
What’s your writing routine?
I get up and I write just as soon as I can. I have ALWAYS been a morning man.
Tea, or Coffee?
Coffee in the morning. Strong, black and ugly. Tea in the afternoon and herbal in the evening.
Unless there’s beer…
You write ghost story collections. Do you find it hard coming up with a fresh idea with an each story?
I’ve written four of them so far and the way go about writing them is to wade into the archives and come up with a couple of dozen historical yarns which I then write down in my own voice – storying them up just as much as possible to make them entertaining.
Some folks have asked me if I would consider myself a ghost hunter – because I have read and written so many ghost stories – but I always tell them that I am far too lazy to be hunting ghosts. I am that old fellow that you find hunkered down around the campfire – just waiting for an opportunity to spin one more yarn.
What’s your writing process?
I like to know where I am going and I where I am coming from. Each book and each story is like a journey to me. I need to know my destination and my departure and then I just run until I get there. Ideally, I like to finish my first draft as soon as I can. Then I sit it down and let it cool off and then I put on my editorial glasses and start working it into a decent story.
Tell us a little bit about your latest book
The latest book I am working on is called BIG HAIRY DEAL. It is a novel involving a Bigfoot, the Native Trickster Coyote, the Raven, the Death Dog Old Shuck, and a giant flying pink Winnebago.
I can’t talk about when it might be in print. I’ve got a publisher looking at it right now but if they decide that it isn’t for them I will put it out myself in my indie line.
HOWEVER – if you want to check out one of my books I would DEFINITELY recommend TATTERDEMON – which is fat full length novel of scarecrow horror.
How long did it take you to write? Did you have any problems with the story?
I have had a LOT of trouble finishing this one – partly because I wasn’t sure who I was writing it for. That’s important to know when you are working on a novel. You want to know your audience and you want to know just exactly who you are writing it for.
Are your friends and family supportive of your writing career?
How do you manage your time? Is it hard balancing your writing life with your working life?
Yes. There never is enough time in the day but I believe that even if I were making enough income from my writing to retire from day job I would still find that there was not enough time in the day. I could blame it on the time I spend promoting and blogging and even Twittering – yes, old farts do know how to Twitter – but in all honesty it is mostly because I have a harder time staying on track these days.
Are you self-published or with an agent?
I am self-published AND traditionally-published. I’ve got seven books out through Nimbus Publishing – a local Nova Scotia publisher – and I am working on an eighth.
I love the freedom that self-publishing gives me. I also love being able to arrange book sales and set up promotions whenever I want to. HOWEVER, the folks at Nimbus can get my regional books in bookstores right across the Maritimes as well as right across Canada and even into the states. That is something that indie writers still struggle with. Some folks will shrug and say that they don’t need bookstore sales – but I say to heck with that. I still buy an awful lot of books in local bookstores and I reach a lot of readers who still haven’t caught onto e-books. It is well and fine to posture and say that e-books are the big new thing and that everyone is reading them – but no, not everyone, not yet.
There might come a time when everyone is actually reading e-books and then I might have to make a decision about traditional versus indie publishing – but Nova Scotia has a very large population of seniors – and a lot of those folks still like to read plain old-fashioned books.
Not me, mind you. I have REALLY been converted to my Kobo and I hope to own a Kindle in a year or so. I love not having to worry about bookshelf space and I love the adjustable font that the e-reader offers.
Hey, I told you I was old.
How do you keep motivated?
Those bills keep on coming in and I don’t earn enough from my day job to pay them yet.
Thank you Steve!
Steve Vernon’s Blog – http://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/
Steve Vernon’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/StephenVernon
Steve Vernon’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/stevevernon007
Steve Vernon’s Kindle Page – http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Vernon/e/B002BMD282/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Steve Vernon on Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/Search?Query=steve+vernon
Miss the last Interview With An Author? Don’t worry – you can catch up here.