Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest New York Times best-selling author, Steve Alten author of MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror, Trench, DOMAIN, RESURRECTION, Goliath, MEG: Primal Waters, The Loch, The SHELL GAME, MEG: Hell’s Aquarium, GRIM REAPER: End of Days, SHARKMAN… and this summer, MEG: NIGHTSTALKERS
Steve has optioned MEG and The LOCH to film producers and SHARKMAN to a TV producer. He has written six original screenplays. His comedy, HARLEM SHUFFLE was a semi-finalist in the LA screenwriting contest, his comedy MINTZ MEATS was selected as a finalist at the Philadelphia film festival as was his psychological thriller, STRANGLEHOLD. Steve’s reality series, HOUSE OF BABEL won at Scriptapalooza. He has also created a TV Drama, PAPA JOHN, based on his years coaching basketball with Hall of Fame coach John Chaney.
Norm: Good day Steve and thanks for participating in our interview.
Steve: My pleasure.
Norm: What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
Steve: Obviously technology offers readers a new means of accessing books. For writers, e-publishing gives them easier access to being published. However, I think there will always be a core of readers who prefer holding a book in their hands.
Norm: How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Steve: I always had an
interest in writing that dates back to my early teens. Before I wrote
MEG I wrote a self-help story that didn’t garner much interest. It
was after reading a TIME magazine article on the Mariana Trench in
the summer of 1995 that I came up with the plot that would lead to my
first book deal. Here we are 20 years later with an all-new version
of that story about to debut in bookstores and Warner Brothers
working on the movie.
As far as what keeps me going, I love writing, plus it’s my career, the only means I have to pay my bills. It’s a job, but a job I enjoy doing very much.
Norm: What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Steve: I’ve been told many times by readers that you can pick up any of my novels, open to a random page and begin reading and become immediately absorbed in the story. I think that holds true. I also think the research woven into the plot really brings easily digested new information to the reader without diverting from the plot.
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Steve: Not necessarily. I was fortunate enough to have a supportive family, loving parents, and opportunities to choose my own path. My Philly upbringing sometimes peeks through into my characters.
Norm: Is your work improvisational or do you have a set plan? Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Steve: Once I have an idea for a story I flesh it out with extensive research before trying to put together a beat-sheet. If the beat-sheet works than the story will flow. Once the writing begins I allow the creative process to take me on whatever path feels right.
Norm: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Steve: Essentially, a
writer is on an island and it is up to them to determine if their
story is a good one. As an example, back in 2007 I finished The SHELL GAME but my agent couldn’t sell it – this was back while Bush was
still in office and the story dealt with conspiracy facts about 9/11.
It took me 2 years to write the novel and I knew it was a good book. Desperate, I took out an ad in Publishers Weekly’s e-newsletter letting people know the book was available. Twenty minutes later I received an email from Tim Schulte, an editor at Cedarfort Books – a Mormon publishing house. Tim was a fan and wanted to read the manuscript. I sent it to him and he loved it. Cedarfort took a chance and optioned the book and a year later it was on the NY Times best-sellers list – this from a publisher who had never published fiction or had a title in Barnes & Noble. Tim and I became good friends and we worked on several books together. He’s now the managing partner of my new publishing house, A & M Publishers. BOTTOM LINE: You have to believe in your work and have faith.
Norm: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching your books?
Steve: After I wrote the first draft of GOLIATH, a story about a futuristic submarine taken over by its bio-chemical computer, I met a fan whose brother was the captain of the USS Scranton, a Los Angeles class attack sub. She introduced us and he edited the book, giving me incredible insight and real-life details about piloting one of these amazing submarines. As a thank you, I changed the sub used in the story to the USS Scranton. After the book was published I was invited aboard the Scranton with a dozen other V.I.P.s. They took us on a three hour cruise off the coast of Florida. I did a book signing on board for the crew – it was definitely one of the highlights of my career.
Norm: In your novels, which character was the easiest to write and why? Which was the most difficult to write, and why?
Steve: At this point, probably Jonas Taylor in the MEG series is easiest because he’s now been in five books and his dialogue is second nature. The most difficult was Lilith Mabus, who becomes the succubus in RESURRECTION. Her character used sex to control the men in her life and I had to find the right balance between erotica and PG/R rating.
Norm: In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?
Steve: It’s an interesting question. I’ve been working for the last three months on a new novel that deals with terrorism. With the recent events in Paris I find myself balancing on a tight rope, not sure how closely to follow world events. So the answer is – I’m not sure.
Norm: Could you tell us more about your most recent release, Meg-Revised and Expanded Edition?
Steve: About a year ago I decided to create a 20th Anniversary limited edition MEG hardback that included MEG: Origins, a prequel that had been written a few years ago only as an ebook. When I added the prequel the two stories didn’t mesh as my writing had simply evolved too much from 20 years ago. So I took four months to completely rewrite the original story, expanding chapters and scenes, developing characters and changing dialogue. I also included 17 original images I had commissioned over the years. The result is a completely different reading experience that is far beyond the original. The mass market paperback debuts in stores after Thanksgiving.
Norm: What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read Meg-Revised and Expanded Edition?
Steve: You won’t be able to put it down… GUARANTEED.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Steve: They can go on my WEBSITE and read excerpts from any of my novels or view book trailers. They can also email me and receive a personal response.
Norm: What is next for Steve Alten?
Steve: The novel I am working on now is called The SECOND ANGEL. It involves a terrorist plot to unleash a natural disaster.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors