Please, help me welcome Steven James to my Window and enjoy a look into the world of the best suspense novelist of all time!!
1.When did you first discover your love for writing, and how did you begin to pursue that goal?
I’ve always liked making things up. I remember as a sixth grade student writing stories about a fantastical land called Hypodermia. Rather than pay attention in class I would pull out my notebook and fill the pages. However, the desert of junior high and high school deadened my creativity and it wasn’t until I went to college when my stories reawakened. Eventually I got my Master’s Degree in Storytelling and since then there’s been no turning back.
2. Your skills encompass verbal storytelling, writer’s conferences and a wide array of services that share your knowledge of word-smithing of many varieties. What is your favorite type of venue? Why?
I love doing family events where children and adults are all in the audience. It’s so much fun to make stories come alive and see parents share that with their children. So much of our culture is segregated by age, but stories can bridge that gap. Of all the events I do, those are my favorite.
3. Writing is notorious for its solitary constraints, yet you seem to have woven your writing among many public engagements. How do you balance the time needed to complete a project (The Patrick Bowers series) and your speaking engagements?
Whew. Balance is not the word I would use to describe my life. I do my best to write most mornings for a few hours and edit in the evenings, but each week shakes out a little differently. Since so much of writing is solitary, as you point out, I find that making public appearances really helps encourage me. It also helps my writing stay fresh. It’s too easy when you shut yourself away for your writing to become ingrown.
4. Quoting from one of your blog posts you state: “… the only way to make people disturbed by evil is to show it to them for what it really is.” Where on earth do you get your ideas for the challenges that Patrick Bower must face? Does it disturb you in the process of writing the detail of evil?
Ha, well honestly, yes the villains do sometimes really bother me. I had to take time off from writing two summers ago when I was working on The Knight since the book was giving me nightmares. Coming up with the ideas isn’t that difficult, though. I just keep asking myself what I would be thinking or doing if I were that character in that situation. So, when I’m writing from the perspective of the killers, I find that I’m able to naturally come up with creepy ideas. But that process of stepping into their minds is a little disturbing.
5. Many Christian writers take a lot of grief over the fact that they portray evil honestly without softening the details. You have stated very specifically on your blog that the parameters of your writing including: “celebrate life, love, imagination, beauty and family, validate the purpose and meaning of life within the context of the broader scope of God's story, tell the truth about the world--exposing the grief and horror as well as championing the hope and joy”
I do try to portray evil honestly, but I think that neglecting the fact that wonder and love and redemption are available skews stories away from the truth. When I write, I try to convey the truth about human nature and you can’t do that leaving out evil or hope.
Do you still receive critical or negative comments regarding this? What is your most common “complaint” regarding this issue?
Actually, most of my Christian readers respond favorably to my books. They like that they are not sermons in disguise. However, maybe 1% of them are offended by the graphic nature of some of the scenes. I usually point them to the Old Testament and remind them that my books are nowhere near as violent, graphic or disturbing as some of the scenes in the Bible.
6. From your website I gleaned knowledge that you have taught writing in a variety of places around the world including: South Africa,
Well, socially diverse cultures are different and respond differently. In
I’ve found that people all over the world learn best when they are having fun, and everywhere you go people like a good story.
7. I understand Patrick Bowers has some family trouble in the Bishop. I hope Raven isn’t in more trouble! Why does Bowers have such difficulties in her personal life? Does it all stem from the loss of his wife? Or, in your mind, does this just stem from the type of man he is? His core personality?
Well, at the heart of every story is conflict and so, since I want a well-rounded character, I need to show both his personal and professional struggles. In my mind he loves his stepdaughter but doesn’t know how to show that. This allows me to explore relationships in depth while I also take him through the troubling process of tracking serial killers.
8. Where did you get the inspiration for Raven’s character? As the father of three daughters, does her character make you hug your own children a little tighter?
At first she was just a surly teenager and really wasn’t very likable or engaging. But, as I worked on the first novel, she began to emerge as a girl who is emotionally scarred and intellectually isolated from her age group since she is so sharp. I now have two teen daughters of my own and truthfully they have started to give me material for my stories…
9. Does your family read your stories? Do they enjoy Patrick Bowers and his many adventures?
Well, my oldest daughter has read the books but I don’t let my children read them until they are fourteen. My wife will read them, but they aren’t exactly her genre. I’m hoping to work on a series targeted more for youth so that my daughters can enjoy some of my books without being too frightened.
10. Closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers? Are you already working on Patrick Bower’s next thriller?
Yes, I’m deep into The Queen and I can tell you that it has a sharp and distinctively different feel from the previous books. Fans of the series will really bite into it. After that, I’m planning a prequel called Opening Moves and then two final books The King and the series closer, Checkmate.