MITCHELL R. STEVENS
- Guest Author -
Today I feature an interview conducted with an author from the Midwest of the USA - Mitchell R. Stevens. Below, you will find a video interview with this interesting author.
Welcome, Mitch ...
- TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING
Upon reading many mystery thrillers, I found myself often wondering how in the world did the author eloquently crochet together an amalgamation of characters, ideas, plots, time lines, facts, fiction and the rest to create enjoyment. Upon reaching a tender age when a ‘bucket list’ is all but mandatory, I wittingly etched ‘writing a book’ near the top of the list.
How was a guy who spent his entire career in business going to write a story, and one that would bring enjoyment to the reader? I had developed a healthy lexicon and proficiency for writing business related correspondence over the decades; was that a strong enough foundation? In the end, I believe my career in sales, more specifically, my ‘wiring’ that supports my success in sales, was the puzzle piece that helped me along on my writing journey. In sales, one must often create a sale where one doesn’t exist, research and legitimize the rationale for purchase and keep the buyer engaged throughout the process. Arguably, writing is analogous to the sales process.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I finished my first novel last November. How I became a writer, which I would define as actually finishing and publishing a book, is probably best answered with accountability. I had to make myself accountable to make it happen. The secret to that is to tell everyone you know you are writing a book. Talk about pressure to finish!
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
Based upon my business background managing, people, projects, etc., I of course started with a business plan of sorts. I had a matrix of potential plots, characters, geopolitical events, a chapter outline, blah, blah, blah. For me, none of this worked. I eventually sat at the computer and envisioned myself in the story and respective scene, and simply let the words flow. Now, given I had and continue to have a full time job, there were periods of time when I did not write for up to weeks at a time. In retrospect, I believe this helped the story as I had to reread what I wrote to refresh my memory, but more importantly, I seemed to dive back in with more of a critical eye. During those refresh periods I did the majority of my editing and continued to ask myself, ‘is this fun to read?’.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
There are several things I enjoy. Without a doubt, the most enjoyable is giving enjoyment to the reader. In addition, I am in complete control, it challenges me to lean on parts of my pea brain that are not often used and it stimulates me.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The not so fun parts were the research and ensuring that the plot and sub plots were congruent, plausible and chronologically accurate. Let’s save marketing the book for another day as that turned out to be the most difficult element. I purposely wove many current (2011) geopolitical events into the book to lend credibility and punch to the story. For example, in the first chapter we learn that Osama bin Laden was not killed, but rather captured; there was sufficient, or rather, insufficient detail related to the death to create this plausible alternative. What fun!
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I wish I could claim that writing was my single source of income. Better said, I wish I could tag it as a source of income. My business career has involved stints in financial management, business ownership and sales.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
Completing my debut novel, Deliberate Deceit, the first in the Deceit series.
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Deadly Deceit, the second book in the series.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
This is a difficult question for me. Honestly, I believe experiencing the gratification of completing the task at hand, given I have given it my best shot.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Lessons I learned:
· Hire an editor that is local.
· If writing pops into your head during the day, sit down and do it, even if you only have 15 minutes to write—you may be amazed on what you can write.
· Be aware of bogus (claim to have read but did not) reviewers, but don’t worry about it
· Do the research
· Tell friends and family you are writing. They will be supportive and subtlety keep you accountable.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
No, just a little laziness on occasion.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
No, then it would seem like work.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Not really. It is really a matter of time and convenience.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Having a reader tell me they enjoyed the book.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
Robert Ludlum as he was the first author that hooked me in the mystery/thriller genre.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
An excerpt from a top Amazon Reviewer....’ This is without a doubt the best debut book I've read. It was difficult to believe that this was his first, not his fifth or sixth which I'm sure are down the pike.’
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Fortunately to date, for those that have actually read the book, the comments have been very favourable.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Possibly with some of the character’s behaviours, but all in all, most of the story is fabricated.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Good health/physical fitness, reading, cooking, eating, socializing, travelling, sports, crosswords, golf, helping, sleeping.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes. Unfortunately, the one I selected from a site that promotes editors missed deadlines, missed over 300 grammatical errors and generally did a poor job. I had to lean on many friends to help me finish the editing as my editing budget was spent. Thus the recommendation to select an editor that is local; the one I selected was 2500 miles away in Los Angeles.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Awaking for a good night’s sleep, writing a bit, working out, contributing to some cause, golf, interacting with my kids, preparing dinner for friends accompanied by active discussion, reading, romance and back to sleep.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Someone that had the wherewithal to get us off the island and back to civilization. Other than that, a healthy, intelligent, beautiful woman who was fifteen years my junior.
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
The devaluation of the dollar and the global currency will have debilitating effects on our world economy; read about it in my next book!
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Continue living the dream. As far as writing, upon completing the three books in the Deceit series, I plan on beginning a new series depending upon the readership of the Deceit series.
26. WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
Five different versions of the Bible; you never know what’s going to get you in the gates.
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Yes, mostly the ones with character flaws.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
No, although I am inexperienced and self published my first novel.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No, but again, it is mostly a hobby now.
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
Only one-Deliberate Deceit.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Bringing enjoyment to the reader and selling lots of copies.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
They will learn a little bit about how our government works, geopolitical events and certain behavioral dysfunctions. They should feel the time they spend reading the book was worthwhile.
33. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I did invest time trying to capture the essence of the book and sent my drawing to a professional. I thought she did a nice job and I have received positive comments in this regard.
34. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
Becoming a best-selling author.
35. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
This is a big challenge. Over one million books are published each year, so there is lots of competition. Social media plays a big part in promoting your book and brand. I encourage visiting my website at mitchellrstevens.com. As far as my brand, I have attempted to create a brand of an experienced, relatively sophisticated writer (thus the tuxedo in many of my photos). I continuously request reviews, which are very difficult to secure. I would estimate I have requested over 300 reviews, have 22 to date with a commitment for 10 more. I recently placed my books on consignment at a regional book store, participate in Giveaways on Goodreads and give books away to those I believe have a relatively large social network.
36. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Yes. It was tedious the first time, but now that I have been through it, the next time should be a relative breeze.
37. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
38. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
39. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Give and Take by Adam Grant. Interesting enough, but much of the content repeated throughout the book.
40. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
With regard to a series, probably a sentence dealing with the demise of the protagonist who persevered throughout the series. Maybe something like…
‘He first felt the pain in his knees as they simultaneously struck the concrete floor followed by the iron taste of his blood as it flowed steadily from his mouth and nose; the realization that his enemy’s final lunge had secured the blade deep into his chest occurred to him a nanosecond before everything went black.”
41. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
More time with my children.
42. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I fantasize about being a guest on a talk show discussing the Deceit Series. Ellen DeGenres would be fun; can you hook me up?
Clancy's comment: Many thanks, Mitch. Good luck. Oh, are you free next week? I've arranged an interview with Ellen ...