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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

INTERVIEW: STEVEN MANCHESTER

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Steven Manchester whose newest book Twelve Months is now available. He will be giving one random commenter on today's interview a paperback copy of the book.

His next book, Goodnight, Brian, is scheduled for release in December. A healthy baby is poisoned with toxic soy formula, causing permanent brain damage. When the doctors say that he’ll never develop normally, his grandmother sets out to prove them wrong…and does. Faith and unconditional love are what make the difference. What she doesn’t expect, however, is that her grandson will return the favor. Mama always said that, “Love can move mountains, make miracles – but it has to be a pure love, unconditional and driven.” And, as she always knew, the doctors were wrong. Love expected miracles.

"What inspired you to start writing?" I asked.

"It was 1991 and I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, 'The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?' He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d finally done it! In his office, he explained, 'There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.' He smiled again and dropped the bomb. 'If you’re so smart,' he said, 'why don’t you write it?' Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on his desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer."

The characters always come first to Steven when he's working on a book.

"If they become real enough, your characters will tell the story for you," he told me. "Think about it: The raised eyebrow from a well-established character is worth more than a paragraph or two. The saddest time for me is when a novel comes to its end. This is mostly true because I start to miss the people that I’ve grown to love and hate. And if you don’t feel that for your characters, then your readers won’t, either. When I'm completely vested in a story, the first thing I think about in the morning is the characters (what they’re thinking and feeling, and how they might act), and the last thing I think about before turning in at night is the characters. Again, beware that you don't lose touch with reality."

The hardest part of writing for Steven is time. First and foremost, he's a dad and his children always come first. Then there are other responsibilities that need his attention. However, his passion for writing always gnawed at his soul.

"To overcome the obstacle of time, I made writing a priority over watching TV and sometimes even sleeping," he said. "Once my family is taken care of and the world closes its eyes, I’m up for a few more hours each day – chasing my dreams on paper."

Some of the writers who have influenced his writing are Stephen King (his discipline). Nicholas Sparks, Nicholas Evans, Mitch Albom, Harper Lee (who he thinks penned perfection when she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

"Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?" I asked.

"Honestly, I don’t believe in writer’s blocks—though I understand that they’re quite real when perceived as such. True story: I have a friend—let’s call him Jack. Anyway, he phoned me one night complaining that he was agonizing over a terrible writer’s block. 'How does your story end?' I asked him and he went on to explain the ending in detail. 'Good,' I said, 'so write the ending and then all you have to do is fill in the middle.' He did just that. The lesson is this: Most books aren’t written from point A to point Z. If you get stuck at a certain crossroad, begin to write a passage from a different point in the book. This maintains momentum and confidence (if lost, the two causes of a perceived block). Again, I write novels like creating complicated word puzzles—only to put it all together in the end in order to paint the grandest picture I can. Do whatever works for you, but keep moving. The last thing you want is for a story to go cold on you. You could risk losing the passion, if you wait too long to finish it. "

"Do you hear from your readers much?" I asked.

"I do--and I love it. Most want to share their reaction to my work, and let me know how the book moved them. The very best fan letter I ever received was from a teenager in lock-up who read some of my work and said that he was inspired to turn his life around. I'm still hopeful."

When Steven is writing, he puts on a CD of soft rock and loops it, so it plays over and over in the background like white noise, because he finds it helps drown out distractions.

Finally I asked, "What advice do you have for a new writer just starting out?"

"Be true to yourself, always. Write constantly. Keep the faith!!! And NEVER, EVER, EVER quit. Most people in this industry would agree that more than talent or skill or even luck, perseverance is the one trait that will always get the job done. Knock on every door you can, and keep knocking. I promise that eventually someone will open and the warmth you feel on your face will more than validate every hour spent alone in the darkness. "

About the Author:
Steven Manchester is the published author of Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or his four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. Visit Steven at his website, www.StevenManchester.com

or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorStevenManchester



Don DiMarco has a very good life – a family he loves, a comfortable lifestyle, passions and interests that keep him amused. He also thought he had time, but that turned out not to be the case. Faced with news that might have immediately felled most, Don now wonders if he has time enough. Time enough to show his wife the romance he didn’t always lavish on her. Time enough to live out his most ambitious fantasies. Time enough to close the circle on some of his most aching unresolved relationships. Summoning an inner strength he barely realized he possessed, Don sets off to prove that twelve months is time enough to live a life in full. A glorious celebration of each and every moment that we’re given here on Earth, as well as the eternal bonds that we all share, Twelve Months is a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit.
Buy the book:

Paperback & Kindle:http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Months-Steven-Manchester/dp/161188053X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343826594&sr=1-1&keywords=twelve+months+manchester
Nook:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/twelve-months-steven-manchester/1111526739?ean=9781611880533
eBook: http://www.booku.com/Twelve-Months/Steven-Manchester/ebook_989303.htm

3 comments:

Debby said...

I enjoyed the book so much. Good luck with your next.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Angela Adams said...

Interesting premise and theme for "Goodnight, Brian." Looking forward to the book's December release.

Teena in Toronto said...

I enjoyed it :)

http://www.teenaintoronto.com/2012/10/book-twelve-months-2012-steven.html