As it says in this blog’s heading, “"Writing can be solitary, but success isn't." To that end, we’ll be featuring some other authors of the male persuasion on this blog.
Our first guest is Berin L. Stephens, author of two novels, “The Dragon War Relic” and “Time Gangsters”.
(By the way, I recently reviewed “Time Gangsters” on my personal blog. It can be found by clicking here.)
Without further ado, on with the interview!
1. What inspired you to become a writer?
A: I'm not entirely sure. I read a lot when I was in elementary school but I don't remember thinking about being a writer until I read Tolkien's The Hobbit. For some reason, that book fired up an interest in me to create similar worlds. Shortly after that, I read Asimov's Lucky Star and the Pirates of the Asteroids which then got me into sci-fi. Since then, I've taken up being a jazz musician, and I think writing and jazz allow me to do something that is essential to my personality: to create. My mind is constantly thinking up new creative things, both in word and music, that it is just hard to keep it contained.
2. Tell us about your latest book.
A: Time Gangsters is a middle-grade urban fantasy about two 12 year old cousins who find some ancient Egyptian coins buried in the walls of their neighboring houses. But it turns out that gangsters from 1927 also want the coins due to their magical properties. Some of the magic allows people to make super human leaps, or to shoot fire from their hands, or make it rain. The most powerful ones, though, are the ones that allow time travel. The kids are pulled back in time to face the vile gangster Franco Carnassi and his gang of thugs who want to use the coins to rule America. If they don't stop him, the kids might not have a future to return to.
3. What challenges (if any) have you faced as a male author?
A: I really don't know of any. It is a little bit of a challenge writing female characters, but with a wife and three daughters to straighten me out, it hasn't been too bad.
4. In the books you've written, which character would you say is most like you as a person and why?
A: In my first book, The Dragon War Relic, all three main characters were aspects of my personality. Jared was the boy I sort of was as a teenager. Doug was the teenager I sometimes wished to be. Gar the Ogre from Orgrenia is close to how I am now: the grumpy parental figure with a twisted sense of humor.
5. What types of books do you like to read? Has your taste changed as you've gotten older?
A: I started off on Hardy Boys, then into fantasy through Tolkien. I also grew up on some of the old swords and sorcery stuff by Michael Moorcock and Robert E. Howard. I also read a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs. As I got into my teens and early twenties, I got into David Eddings, Roger Zelazny, and Terry Brooks. Most of the stuff I like to read is fantasy, though I do love science fiction and comedy, too. Probably the thing that has changed the most in my reading tastes is that I read a lot more young adult and middle-grade material. For one, it keeps me up on what my kids have been reading. It also keeps me in tune with what the market is like. But most importantly, I prefer it because, for the most part, they are clean reads with without language, sex, etc.
6. Are you working on your next book? If so, can you give us a preview?
A: I have several irons in the fire right now. The one I plan to reveal next is a story about a teenage sidekick of a superhero. He gets in over his head when the Moguls of Mayhem capture all the heroes in the city and he is faced with defeating them on his own. I also have a fantasy/steampunk/dystopian project I've been working on for a year that still needs work but is progressing well. This one is a little darker than my previous outings. I wanted to make it a comedy, since I've never seen a dystopian comedy before. Now I know why.
7. What advice would you offer aspiring authors?
A: It might sound like a broken record, but you got to keep at it. For me, I did a lot of time wasting activities that kept me from writing for years. I watched a lot of TV and played computer games when I could have been writing. I wish I had that time back now. But TV and games don't interest me much anymore because creating my own stories is so much more interesting, exciting, and fulfilling.
I guess the other thing I harp on a bit is health. Part of the reason I didn't write for about ten years was because I had no energy. I ate a garbage diet and I didn't exercise. I lived on Advil and Tums. When you're tired all the time, it is so much easier to sit back in a chair and turn the TV on than to put forth any kind of mental effort. When I turned my health around by switching to a more plant-based natural diet and exercising, I suddenly had more energy. My creative juices started flowing. Then it became almost impossible not to write.
8. Where does the white go when the snow melts?
A: Not to Utah. It looks like it's all going to my home state of Alaska. As far as actual color white, as long as there are people out there like us, fighting the fight against chaos and evil, we will always bring white back into the world.
Thank you Berin for the wonderful interview.
To find out more about him, click here.
To find out more about "Time Gangsters", click here.