Bookpleasures.com welcomes today as our guest, Steve Myers. Steve has published short fiction, poetry and novels and has recently published A Case of Love and Squalor.
Norm: Good day Steve and thanks for participating in our interview.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
Steve: I was born in the low mountains of Pennsylvania in a house in a strip of homes for miners. When I was 8 we moved to Ohio, where I grew up. I served 6 years in the US Air Force (a year in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War). I went to Kent State on the GI Bill, majored in math, and graduated summa cum laude. I was on the field and witnessed the Kent State shootings.
My first fiction and poetry was published in the Kent Quarterly.
I made my living as an electrician and in data acquisition for Procter & Gamble. I am married with 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and a great grand daughter.
My first published book was “The Enchanted Sticks,” a children's story that is still in print in the Junior Great Books series. I gave up on trying to get published for over twenty years before Eternal Press took my dystopian novel Nowhere, Nowhen. Since then I've had 3 novels published: Garden of the Falling Moon, All In, All Out, and A Case of Love and Squalor.
Norm: Why do we read fiction particularly thrillers and crime novels?
Steve: Fiction deals with how humans live in the world. Science and nonfiction deal with facts but not how those facts feel. I think a good analogy is with centrifugal force—it's called a fictional force because it is not invariant under co-ordinate trasnsformations. In other words, if you are not the one being spun around you don't experience it. But it is felt by the person spun. In the same way, fiction is about being spun by life.
As for thrillers and crime novels, they deal with intense or dramatic experiences—living on the edge. Consider how much literature is really crime fiction: Macbeth, Brothers Karamazov, Light in August, The Scarlet Letter, The Red and the Black, An American Tragedy, and so on, not including the obvious Sherlock Holmes, Maigret, Marlowe, and all the rest.
On top of all that, fiction is entertaining, the imagination at play.
Norm: Why have you been drawn to writing noir/mystery?
Steve: I enjoy reading crime novels and it's a form that forces you to write directly: you have a crime or crimes to solve and that is always at the center of your story, the back bone. On those bones, that armature, you can add all sorts of variety of flesh, of characters and scenes.
When writing a novel, what's your average working day like? Do you
have any unusual habits/rituals?
Steve: I start off with a few notes on a folded sheet of paper, then I write in a spiral notebook a very short description of what I think will be the main events of the story. That always changes as I'm writing. Then I list the characters, their names, ages, occupations, a word or two of description. Then I write a very rough chapter by chapter synopsis, which is always changed as I write. I write the beginning several pages in long hand before going to the computer. When I'm on a story or novel, I write every day for around five hours, sometimes longer, mostly in the afternoon.
What served as the primary inspiration for A Case of Love
and Squalor? As a follow up,
where did you get your information or ideas for the book?
Steve: I've seen the underside of life in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Mexico, the Philippines, and Thailand. I've seen men kicked in the head when down. I've had a pistol stuck in my face and been stomped on by four men. I wanted to show that brutal side of men. Often that brutality is visited on women. You only need to see a woman's battered face or the hard crusted sores from cigarette burns once to never forget it.
Norm: How did you come up with the title A Case of Love and Squalor?
Steve: The original title was to be “Shoot the Dog” until I created the character Esme and remembered Salinger's story, “For Esme, with Love and Squalor.” My novel has plenty of squalor and maybe a passing scent of love, but it doesn't resemble Salinger's story in any way.
Norm: What was your main focus when you created Joseph (Joe) Andrews, your protagonist?
Steve: I tried to create a character with several sides. He is a tough guy who reads poetry and discusses Anselm's ontological proof of God with a whore. He is drunk with lust—he practically trips over his tongue when he sees an attractive woman—but he falls in love without realizing it. He is a gunslinger born out of his time; he's an analog guy in a digital age.
Norm: What would you say is Joe's biggest strength? His greatest weakness?
Steve: His strength? He enjoys living and cares deeply about the victims of brutality. His greatest weakness? He reacts violently without considering consequences. He is a loyal friend, good to have on your side in a fight, but you wouldn't want to live with him.
Norm: How did you flesh out the minor characters in the novel?
Steve: Al Sanzio, Joe's friend, is meant to be in many ways an opposite type, more cerebral rather than emotional and violent. The others? They come out of listening to and watching people. I don't think I have a character until I can see or hear them. Then they sort of flesh-out themselves. It's important to realize everyone has his own agenda, his view of the world, and his own desires.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and A Case of Love and Squalor?
Steve: My WEB SITE
Norm: What is next for Steve Myers?
Steve: I have another Joseph Andrews coming out, The Lady and the Wolf February first, 2015, published by Damnation Books. Then Joe again in Jellybeans & Jabberwocks & Murder (Pen-L publishing). Two more with Damnation sometime in2015 (Devil's Dance and Devil's Goddess); a western with Pen-L called Along Showdown River and several stories in Frontier Tales. I have poems in Winter and Spring issues of Poetry Pacific and an essay on Shakespeare in Wilderness House Literary Review in Spring.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Steve: Question: Why do you write? Answer: Because I can't help it. I'm like the scorpion stinging the back of the frog carrying it across the river: it's just my nature.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors