Monday, September 10, 2012

Thriller Author Steven James, at it again!

John Robinson scored an interview with award-winning author, Steven James, creator of the Patrick Bowers series. This is Steven's second appearance on AuthorCulture--the first time, "Interview with Psychological Thriller Author, Steven James" was after release of The Pawn, book five of the Bowers series. That book went on to win the 2012 Christy award for the suspense genre. September 4th, his newest in the series released: Opening Moves, and like all his other, this one promises to be a winning seat-edger.

Steve, thanks for visiting with us today. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I’m a tortilla eating, coffee drinking, trail running, once-in-a-while starving artist writer. I’m privileged to have a bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation (read: playing) and a master’s degree in storytelling (yes, I’m not making that up).

You're a very fascinating guy! Introduce us to your books.

I’ve written a variety of fiction and nonfiction books over the years, spanning inspirational to fantasy to instructional—and even prayer books—and now I write psychological suspense novels. It’s all up there in my head somewhere and I need to get it out.

Those sound great. So tell me, is it a hard line to walk to write fiction featuring gritty, hard-core material, yet fusing it with a theme of spiritual healing or redemption?

Well, I believe that tension lies at the heart of fiction so if you strive to get a message across, or if you start with an answer, you undermine the very medium you are using to convey it. So, I explore moral dilemmas and try to ask big questions in my fiction rather than trying to write agenda-driven stories. I find that when you write crime novels it’s natural to explore issues of good and evil, life and redemption, God, meaning, justice, and so on. I think it’s our role as authors to explore the truth about the world, and as a Christian, I can’t help but come at that from the perspective that every moment has meaning, and redemption is available to all, no matter how far we have fallen.

On the range with an M4 Carbine
As a manly male-type guy, your books sound really interesting to me. Do you get a lot of women who read your books?

Interestingly enough, I do. I write stories with lots of energy, suspense and testosterone, but there is always a family-element and a romance, and I have a feeling those aspects of the stories appeal more to my female readers.

Steve, do you remember when you first decided that you wanted to write for publication? Was that always your goal?

I have always been a storyteller at heart but never really embraced the dream of being a storyteller until I was in my late twenties. I don’t recall a specific moment, but I do remember being drawn in this direction for a long time—without knowing what it would look like to live this life, but interested in finding out. Then I recalled this story Jesus told about a master giving out talents (that is, gold pieces) to three servants. He chastised the one who didn’t put the money to work and valued those who risked all to honor their master. When I thought of that story, I realized it was true for me—not that God had given me gold, but that he had given me ideas and I couldn’t bury them. So, I started throwing them out to the world, hoping in some way to honor the master who gave them to me.

Tell us about your first contract and how that came about. I always love to hear writer’s stories of how they first got published.

At a conference I met a man who worked at a publishing company. He knew that I traveled around speaking at events, and as we became friends he encouraged me to submit a proposal to his associates. I did, they offered me a contract, and I was on my way. Moral of the story: networking really is the key to making things happen.

Do you (or did you) have someone in your life who was an inspiration in your pursuing writing?

My uncle always told us stories when I was a boy and that impacted me, drew me to the idea of telling stories. Others encouraged me along the way, but I always look back at him as the one who first inspired me to be a storyteller.

So what lies ahead for Steven James?

I’m finishing up the Patrick Bowers series and have launched a new series of thrillers that will begin to release this fall. Next year, I’ll be starting a youth series and a book on novel writing. Lots on my plate. But I like it best that way.

Thanks so much for being with us here today. Steve; we really appreciate it. I do have one last question. What would be your advice to someone just trying to break into publishing in this day and age?

Tell better stories than anyone else. Grab readers’ attention, draw them in emotionally, and escalate the tension so much that they won’t want to put the book down. With anyone and everyone publishing their own e-books, it’s a strange time in the history of publishing, but I believe that the cream will rise to the top.  

You can find Opening Moves, and all of Steven's books anywhere books are sold.
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  1. The parable about the talents has been instrumental in my journey as a writer as well. In the early days, I had some struggles, wondering if writing was truly the best way to spend my life. The answer I got, loud and clear, was that the Lord always gives gifts because He expects them to be used for His glory.

    1. I personally am glad that you and Steven paid attention to that parable!

  2. I love the parallel to the parable of the talents. I've never thought of my ideas as those gold nuggets, but I see what you mean. I'm not one of those people who has a thousand book ideas brewing all the time. Nuggets, yes, but full-fledged plots--those are rare for me. I see now that they really are like the talents, because when I write my stories, I know most of the great ideas aren't coming from my brain.

    I'm looking forward to reading Opening Moves. Will there be a book titled "The King"? I've read the rest, so I was sort of expecting that to be the title of this one.

  3. I am so mourning the loss already of the series...but I can grow! I can move on. Waiting for more. Even with the guy-based romance elements. Thanks for sharing here at Author Culture, Steven.