By Virginia Carraway Stark from Starklight Press
Steve Stanton’s post-graduate training in accounting led him to volunteer as the financial administrator of SF Canada. He served on the Board of Directors for seven years, including three years as President from 2011-2014. SF Canada was started in 1989 in the pre-internet era to sponsor a sense of community among Canadian Authors.
Steve Stanton is the author of The Bloodlight Chronicles Sci-fi trilogy. His stories have been published in sixteen countries in a dozen languages.
His latest book is FREENET, a novel of interplanetary intrigue: A pretty girl falls from the sky, a handsome boy rises from the underground, and a popular newscaster dares to tell the real story.
Coming April 2016, available for pre-order today!
Hi Steve! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed for StarkLight Press! We tend to get a little informal in our questions, so please have fun with them.
When did you first begin to suspect that you were a writer?
Hi Virginia! Thanks for your interest at StarkLight Press. I love the idea of grassroots publishing!
I think creative people are just born that way. When I was a teenager in the ’60s, I wrote poetry and song lyrics inspired by Bob Dylan and the folk-rock music of that era. After graduating from university, my wife and I had three daughters, and raising a family became our primary concern. It wasn’t until I was thirty that I began to write seriously. I re-enrolled at U. of Toronto to take a course in Creative Writing and was influenced by the postmodernism of the ’80s. I was thirty-three when my first stories began to appear in magazines and literary journals.
Did you find your background in accounting was helpful to you when you ‘left your day job’ to become a full-time writer?
Not really. Novelists usually don’t make enough money to need an accountant. I suppose I developed great respect for money along the way, seeing the ups and down of various clients and dealing with death and bankruptcy. I had my house paid off, which is the biggest thing for most people. I learned how to live frugally on the financial fringe. I use free phone, free TV, free internet, free website. I borrow books and movies from local libraries for free. I hardly ever go to restaurants or bars, or buy clothes in an actual store. I live a bohemian lifestyle.
What first drew your interest to the sci-fi genre? Was it always important to you or something you developed as you grew in your interests?
I was always into sci-fi. I used to think I was from the future. When I was a kid, comic books cost 12 cents, and all you had to do to buy one was find six empty pop bottles and bring them to the counter. So while my brother was reading Archie and watching Hogan’s Heroes, I was going from Legion of Super Heroes to paperbacks by Isaac Asimov.
When you sit down to write, how do you get into ‘the zone’? Do you have a ritual, set times, or do you just sit down and do it?
I generally prefer to write first thing in the morning, especially if I have been awake in the night rehearsing scenes. If I am left alone with no wife or grandchildren, I usually fall naturally into writing mode. Sometimes I screw off work completely, especially between rewrites, because I know my subconscious keeps working in the background. The rare times that I find myself in a breathless panic writing a vivid and meaningful scene are the rewards that keep me going year after year, because writing a novel is a slogging task.
What is the funniest question that anyone has ever asked you about being a writer? How did you respond?
Someone once asked me about kitchen utensils. 😉
How do disruptions affect your writing? Even though you have some buffering from ‘real life’ interfering in your work with the power of writing being your full-time pursuit, how do you deal with the intrusion of life? What is your advice to authors juggling day jobs and writing?
I hate disruptions when I’m trying to work. I find it difficult to get back inside my imaginary world if I get pulled out to answer the phone or stop to eat. Real life sucks. The best thing I ever did as an artist was to drop out of society. All the novels I wrote while I was working in the real world were crap, but some of my short stories from that time are still being published and translated. Based on that limited experience, I would advise young authors to concentrate on short stories, which often arise “full blown” in the imagination and can be worked out quickly with great personal satisfaction. Novels take a huge investment of time and energy. In some of the top short-fiction markets, you can make just as much money as you will get for a royalty advance on a novel these days.
What song best describes your work ethic when it comes to writing?
“Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive, because I love to work at nothing all day.
If you had to be a kitchen utensil, what utensil would you be? Why?
I would be a butcher’s knife, capable of trimming fat, cutting to the bone, and plunging deep into the heart of a metaphor.
If you could switch bodies with anyone on the planet for the day, who would you pick and what would you do?
I would pick an attractive woman, probably middle-aged, someone with a vast life experience for me to cannibalize for my next novel. That way I would “know” both sides of the interpersonal coin and could represent the genders equally. I would have sex, eat fatty food, drink fine champagne, go dancing, and spend all her money.
What frustrates you? In writing, in love or in life in general?
I find humanity frustrating. I can’t understand on a visceral level why someone would deliberately do evil to another person or racial group, or why a culture would distribute resources in an inefficient or wasteful manner. Watching the news is painful for me, and reading a horror novel is out of the question. I can barely sleep as it is.
Tell me something you’ve never told anyone else.
I’ve never told anyone any of this stuff. 🙂
What do you wish that other writers could understand or know?
Well, I’ve never had commercial success as an author, so I’m probably not the best person to dole out advice, but I think writers have a great privilege and responsibility. Many people in the world cannot read, and many choose not to learn how to spell, even in so-called civilized societies. Literature can elevate both authors and readers. Writers have a duty to educate the future, and an obligation to represent the truth in their fiction. Your words will be the only thing you leave behind.
Thanks for taking time out to talk to us, Steve!
You can find Mr. Stanton at his webpage http://stevestanton.ca/
There you can find more information about his upcoming book, FREENET.