- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview an inspiring author from Alabama, U. S. A.
Welcome, Stephen ...
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 crafted.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
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.
8. 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 more.
9. 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.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
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.
11. 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.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
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.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
When I can, day or night, sometimes till the next day.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Out on the deck, overlooking the lake.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Getting it right.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
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 about.
23. 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 island?
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
None would be interested in my thoughts.
25. 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.
26. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
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.
27. 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.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Too far in.
30. 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.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Liking what you write.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
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.
33. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
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.
34. 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.
35. 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.
36. 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.
37. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Fresh Ink Group, https://FreshInkGroup.com, where I am a principal, is my publisher.
38. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Supportive, loving, left-wing, mortal atheist
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
“To my surviving friends, your love and support made the heartache and pain worthwhile.”
42. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
43. ANYTHING YOU’D 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.