- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview an inspiring author from Alabama, U. S. A.
Welcome, Stephen ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT
YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I’m a middle-aged white male retiree-cum-publisher living
by a lake in the still-mostly racist and staunchly evangelical Southeastern
USA. I spend way more time working on other people’s books than on my own, a
pattern I need to adjust.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU
BECOME A WRITER?
I wrote a short story in second grade that so impressed the
adults that the school secretary typed two copies, one for me, one to post.
These were the manual-typewriter years, so seeing one’s words as font-styled text
proved rather cool. I never set out to be a writer, but everything I’ve done
has included it in various forms. Eventually it became the outlet I could do
from anywhere, anytime—or not.
WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A
MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I’m a hardcore outliner. I want to work out the structure
of my story while it is easy to move parts around, backtrack to plant ideas,
whatever. Then when I work on the prose, I am confident where I am going, which
I think is the best way to let creativity flower atop utility. Knowing what a
line, a paragraph, even a scene needs to accomplish lets me have fun trying
different ways to put that part together. Some free-writing without structure
can produce compelling narrative, but to me that is more likely to feel
unedited, which makes me distrust that the piece will lead someplace carefully
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST
ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
WHAT IS THE HARDEST
THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Fitting writing into life. I wish I could stop time a few
hours, maybe a day or two, and just wade in. Composing music used to lure me
that way, too, before I’ve let it lapse.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A
PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
Exec Producer of television, composer/producer of music for
TV, businessman, always a writer in some form or another.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST
I’m proudest of What Sara Saw because I aimed higher
than ever and, I believe, nailed it. I shot for commercial literary (mainstream
literary?) with Fantasy Patch, and I think I got there, too. I think I
hit my mark on all my books, but Sara for the lit crowd and Patch
for the mainstream crowd are “achievements” for me. Having waxed too long on
that, I should mention, too, that in Been There, Noted That, the essay
“Tanya’s Kite” in tribute to my sister seems to resonate a lot for readers. The
tributes in that book are most personal for me, so saying what needed said
could, I guess, be way up there on the writing-achievement scale.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING
ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am putting together my collection called Comes this
Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez. They’re all written, but
I’m doing little intros for each and finalizing the images. I’m also about
midway into a novel titled How It Turns Out, but I have neglected that
for some time now. Man, I need to be able to stop time. I run the publishing
enterprise with lots of help, do https://GeezWriter.com, and a lot
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I need to creatively produce things, then move on to
something different, and writing/designing/publishing is the most convenient
outlet at this stage of my life. I think I most liked composing music
and working with other musicians to produce it. Television was certainly way
more lucrative. Business proved best for coasting after the early creative part.
I like to read or hear or see what I’ve done, which rewards my effort and encourages
me to do more. Feeling like I got it right inspires me to try the next one. I
don’t understand why some refuse to watch or hear their own work. Enjoy your
accomplishment; then pay attention to how you’ve expanded your skills so you
can apply that to your next project.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU
Literary, contemporary fiction, science fiction, thrillers,
personal-experience essays, how-to, promo-video scripts, and more. Today I’m
writing blurbs for a few books we’re publishing this month as a step toward
designing the covers.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS
FOR NEW WRITERS?
“Say something.” We have way more than enough writers
focusing on high-concept, imagine-the-movie derivatives. Aim for writing that
makes people think, share—even make a decision. If you don’t have something
important to say about who we are or the world we live in—or who we could be
and the world we might shape—then what makes you so eager to write? If it’s
because you want to be a writer, you need to step back and figure out if
you are one or not. Of course, if you have to ask… Be able to answer the
question—even if you avoid actually answering it—of why you wrote that story,
what you wanted to say, what you hoped we would take from it.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM
I don’t understand the concept, really. If you are a
writer, you have more to say than you will ever have a chance to set down. If
you can’t think of anything to say, you just want to be a writer. I have
very little sympathy on this one.
DO YOU HAVE A
PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
When I can, day or night, sometimes till the next day.
DO YOU HAVE A
FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Out on the deck, overlooking the lake.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST
JOY IN WRITING?
Getting it right.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE
AUTHOR AND WHY?
Let’s limit that to novelists: Edmund White, because he
reaches into our inner beings to find universal truths, then paints them
exquisitely in heartfelt stories and memoirs. AM. Homes, T.C. Boyle, Barbara
Kingsolver, Beem Weeks, Robert A. Heinlein for sci-fi—I’ll stop before I get
too serious about expanding this list.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST
COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I’ve been humbled by a few reviews, such as the Papala
Skies review by Robin Chambers or the What Sara Saw review by Sooz
Burke, whose opinion matters to me, and whose ranking of the top-25 books she
read in 2018 landed my Sara at #1.
WHAT WAS THE WORST
COMMENT FROM A READER?
One judge on a panel said I have punctuation problems. I
don’t. I was a prodigy in English lit at Michigan in my teens; and I’ve had
nearly forty years of learning, experience, and seen-it-alls since. I tried one
of her short stories, but couldn’t finish it. She peppered the pages with
clueless commas and drifted between past and present tense within paragraphs.
It wasn’t just a one-off ignorant comment, but rather a judgment that affected
my standing in an organization. Look at the first sentence in my first response
up there at number one; she would destroy it by scattering commas among that
fun list of modifiers I deliberately sequenced as restrictive so it would
require no commas. I love to debate the nuances of unusual punctuation
challenges, so her comment still annoys me.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES
INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Darn tootin’. I’m most reflected in two of my Fantasy
Patch characters, but every piece is written to say something, and it is
infused with my life experiences and worldview. That whole grief thing is a
biggie. I’ve had some serious traumas in my life, but I don’t generally discuss
something that personal with strangers.
OTHER THAN WRITING,
WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
People, travel, outdoor adventure, scuba, prog-rock
concerts, fishing with the old man, amusement parks, reading, cinema, TV, understanding
things. I think I most value friends and maintaining my mental acuity.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK
/ BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes, by me. Few editors are on the top tier. I am. It’s not
bragging, but rather stating a fact. I read my material aloud to author Beem
Weeks, as I trust his feedback. Otherwise, I’m writing commando-style.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT
This one doesn’t resonate, as there really is no such
thing. Some days are better than others, but for umpteen often-unrelated
reasons. I like spending an entire day roller-coastering or canoeing a fun
river with a good friend(s), an evening seeing one or more of my most-admired/enjoyed
musicians performing live, all-day intimacy (near as I can recall), traveling
to new places, accomplishing a lot of rewarding work, binging on TV/films
without checking my email. I like a day of feeling proud of someone I care
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A
DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Damn… just one? That’s tough, as my lifelong best friend
comes to mind first, but I’m not gay, so maybe my friend and I could swap
messages in bottles while a friendly lady takes up residence. (Please
identify yourself if you’re out there.) I mean, how long am I stuck on that
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF
YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
None would be interested in my thoughts.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS
FOR THE FUTURE?
Survive as long as I can, with maximal autonomy and minimal
pain, and hope the people I love will accomplish long and contented lives.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY
Yes, but only if they are used strategically. Just
uploading them to YouTube and waiting for traffic—not so much. Thing is, most
book trailers suck (a technical term). Look at some of what Beem Weeks and I
are doing at https://GeezandWeeks.com.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN
ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Sure. None are me, though Dante in Fantasy Patch overlaps a
lot with what I used to do. At the core, many of my characters share my moral
center, despite people who assert I don’t have one.
DOES THE PUBLISHING
INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
DID YOU EVER THINK OF
Too far in.
WHAT WAS YOUR
FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
What Sara Saw is my best literary work, with even
more depth than the rest, but I really enjoyed Papala Skies, which is
both literary and somewhat mainstream.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A
Liking what you write.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY
Characters need to face
challenges inside and outside of themselves, and they need to change while
accomplishing something good. If readers ride along emotionally with my
characters until they reach a place they’ve never been, then they have learned
something about themselves and maybe even changed, too. As for how they should
feel? Like they want to purchase and read everything I publish.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A
I’ve written and
produced TV scripts. My books are not designed to translate into screenplays,
as the writing is what I’m displaying, not a plot for production.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Quite a lot, though I
do it for most of the books we release at Fresh Ink Group, which is a trio
(dust jacket / softcover / ebooks) once or twice a week.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
I have lots of them,
mostly unrelated to each other. World peace would be nice, but that has no
chance of happening. I would like to see mankind outgrow its need for religion,
but that sure won’t happen in my lifetime. That’s one of the biggest reasons
that world-peace thing won’t be around soon, either.
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT
MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I spend a lot of time
and money and other resources on marketing. It’s a tough accomplishment, my
level of sales mediocrity. Find me at https://StephenGeez.com, where I
also have an embedded blog.
ARE YOUR BOOKS
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Supportive, loving, left-wing,
WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Oh, lots of big stuff,
but day to day? Dangerous bungholes who mire traffic by blocking the passing
lane, then cop an attitude when people are trying to jockey around them.
WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Daedalus Combat, which is 4th
and last in the Daedalus Files series about Navy SEALS diving from low-Earth
orbit in hardshell rocket-propelled wingsuits. The third and fourth aren’t out
yet, but we are publishing them, so, you know. Yes, damn good—like all of
Robert G. Williscroft’s books.
WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST
SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
“To my surviving
friends, your love and support made the heartache and pain worthwhile.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE
YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
LIKE TO ADD?
More zeroes. Don’t stop
at just one meaning for that. Here’s another: Thanks for your time. Thanks to
Clancy Tucker for bringing me to you. May you all enjoy reliable contentment.
Clancy's comment: Welcome, Stephen. Always happy to promote other strugglers. Very good book trailers, Stephen. Great work.