Steven Manchester is one of my favorite Indie Authors, his books are so thoughtful, heart-warming, and real. He writes general fiction that dives deep into your soul with health struggles, family's love, and emotions. I got a chance to interview Steven for his new upcoming book, Ashes. I've always wanted to be able to ask these particular questions to an author, and I'm honored for it to be Steven.
Read on for the thoughtful musings from the mind of an author, and I encourage you to read every word. It's worth it. Trust me.
1. What made you start writing?When I was young, my grandfather was an amazing storyteller. Although he never put pen to paper, I was awed by the power of words—to make people laugh or even cry. I knew then that I wanted to be a storyteller too.
I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, he explained, “There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” He smiled again and dropped the bomb. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on his desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.
2. How many years has it been since you published your first book? Tell us about the experience.I was first published in 1996 under the pen name, Steven Herberts. To say this was a thrill would be a gross understatement. My oldest son, Evan, was three years old and I nearly dropped him when I read the acceptance letter from the publisher.
3. Is writing considered your passion? If so, how did you know?Writing is definitely my passion. I know that because I’d write if I never got published or paid again. No matter how much I accomplish, I still consider myself a writer—period.
4. What is the quote or motto that you live by? Tell us why.
“If you can dream it, you can live it.” – Walt Disney.
This has defined the first steps on the path to realizing my dreams. What I’ve also learned, though, is that “we don’t get what we wish for…we get what we work for.”
5. What are your thoughts on writing to please yourself or writing to please your readers?When I first started, I wrote to please myself (and for my children). As I moved away from that and tried writing for my readers, I lost something very important in the process. Once I returned to writing for me and my kids, I learned that this style was the reason I gathered my readers, to begin with.
6. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you cope with negative reviews?…with a grain of salt. Literature is subjective. Although I don’t appreciate mean or unkind words, I can easily brush them off. I worked in a medium security prison for years, insults have very little power over me.
7. How do you come up with content for your books?My stories are usually experience-based; either my experiences or something that’s happened to someone I know. I only need a major theme that has the potential evoke emotion (i.e., a couple gets divorced, and the children are taken from their father) and I can spend the next six months writing.
8. Have you gone through writer’s block? What is your way to keep going when you’re suffering from it?I’ve been blocked, but for me, it’s just a matter of going to some other place in the story and writing that. Usually, when I redirect my attention, the block quickly dissolves. More often than not, my books are not written from beginning to end. I’m able to jump around and then put it all together at the end.
9. Does your recent novel; Ashes, relate to you? How?Absolutely! Although they’re polar opposites, I can easily relate to both main characters (as many of their traits are mine). There are scenes that are semi-autobiographical. The initial environments are familiar and then I needed to do some research.
10. Finally, if you could take one message or quote from the book, what would it be?None of us is ever alone—ever
Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other's company. It's either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he's left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.
At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, ASHES puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.