Please welcome our first guest from Satalyte Press… the wonderful Robert Stephenson!
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Writing is an absolute passion, it is what fulfills me and helps me feel alive. As I write words I live the lives of the characters and experience their worlds, nothing can compare to this feeling. Finding publications is just topping on and already beautiful cake. With all things published I hope to entertain above all things and through my writing allow others a journey away from the ho hum of the day.
So, what have you written?
I have written five novels for myself, Life Light has been published in both English and Polish, the other 4 are languishing in editing hell. I have a story collection ‘We Would be Heroes’ available from amazon along with a book on the observations of religion and faith in a neutral world. I have written several hundred short stories, and have sold over 100. My how to write book is available from http://www.smashwords.com for free. The Writing Soldier is a simple attempt and creating a background in which a new writer can develop there skills and enjoy the full process from writing, to editing, to publication.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
In Life Light the characters paranoia drives him to stand up against a system he thinks is broken. He doesn’t know the tele-transportation system is broken, it is just a feeling he gets when he uses it. He has lost much of his passion but is driver by the notion of being right and finding out what is wrong with him. He isn’t a free spirit and no is he really in control of his own destiny but he tries, fails and tries again against threats and sanctions. Mikolev is a character you want to succeed but you struggle to work out just how he can given the situation and the world.
What genre are your books?
Life Light is Science Fiction, but I have written 2 books in Urban Fantasy (submitted for publication), a steam punk novel and two biographies for persons undisclosed. I have also written a High Fantasy novel for a film company in LA.
How much research do you do?
In my initial draft I do little research as I delve into creating the bones of the story first. I might leave notes for myself to look things up, but it is usually in the second draft that I do a lot of research into everything from word use, to physics.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I moved into writing in my late teens, where I wrote poetry for many years, publishing Garments of Rainbows in 1992 – a reprint will be coming soon. In 1996 I ventured into short story writing and found, while I was rather rough in skills, I had a good imagination for the genre field. I started and ran Altair Magazine until 2000, which allowed me to see other writers and edit materials for publication. My first full length novel wasn’t written until 2002, and it was published in Poland in 2005 – this book is Life Light, which has now been published in English by Satalyte Publishing in Australia.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
While I write full time, I also teach genre writing in a couple of colleges – online tutoring. I am now averaging about 80 graduates a year, and I now and awhile get news of their successes. I write a long short story every month, and have done so for twenty years, and when I am satisfied I have the energy to write the first draft of a novel I dedicate myself to the creation of the first draft in 12 weeks, though it takes a long time to edit the work for possible publication. I aim for around 7 full drafts before I think I am getting the words in the right order.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Creating a time to write is vital to any writer’s life. I have many things to do in a week, but I have set aside one whole day that n o one is allowed to bother me. This is my writing day, and I even run a writer’s group in the evening that day – everything is writing. I write at other times as well, but if things go awry for the week everyone knows that one day is out of bounds. That day has been in place for 15 years now, so everyone respects that day.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing for me is that I am bipolar depressive so changing moods can affect me from time to time. The interesting thing is because I now take á lot’ of medication as treatment, and see a psychiatrist every month, my completion rates for fiction has gone up considerably. I almost complete everything I start, where as in the early days my mind would create but I couldn’t finish. If anyone suffers serious depression do not be afraid of the medications. Yes they do dull you emotionally, they have to, but what you lose in one area you pick up big time in others. If it wasn’t for my medications I would never have written 5 novels or hundreds of short stories. Some days sitting at the keyboard can be frustrating as my sadness gets really dark, but sometimes it is also refreshing to expound wonder that flood my mind. Oh, and one thing the medications do strange things to, your dreams. They are often rather wild and colourful. I wrote a story based on part of a dream once, and it was published by Keith Stevenson and was awarded an Aurealis Award for be SF short story for the year. Yes, there are hard days, but then there are not so hard days
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
I have always held the opinion that writer’s block doesn’t actually exist. What does exist is an authors unwillingness to write. They want the story but they don’t want the effort. Some say it is a real thing, it has the root in depression and depression is a blockage to creativity. So there are probably bigger issues at play here and so called writers block is a manifestation of an underlying condition. If you find yourself struggling, then write a shopping list with reasons why you need products and what you would use them for, then write reasonable excuses why you shouldn’t use the same product. Trust me, there are many stories in that small setup.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
My favourite authors are many and varied and I would happily suggest ready some James P Blaylock, early Jack McDevitt, Nancy Cress, Joe Haldeman and if you are looking for collections of stories, look for collections edited by Ellen Datlow.
What advice amused you?
In my early writing days I submitted a story to Marion Zimmer Bradleys Fantasy Magazine and it was sent back with a note saying ‘this almost made me vomit’. The same story was rejected 30 times and without alteration I sent it to the Australia anthology Alien Shores. The story sold and was argued could have been up for an award. So, if I took what people said to me about my writing to heart I would have probably given up in that first year. I received 450 straight rejection (5 years) before I sold my very first story, and it took another 50 rejections until I sold my second. The thing I say to all writers and I definitely say to my writing students, never, ever give up. Never take rejection personally, and never be swayed but what others thing you should do. I was told many times to just give up. I didn’t and you shouldn’t either.
Thanks so much to Robert for being on the blog from the great Down Under! Please be sure to follow Robert and check out some of his books!
Facebook: robertnstephenson (The one in the Fez)