Thursday, January 7, 2010

Teacher, Thespian and Novelist? Um, yeah

Hi and welcome to the Wicked Writers.  I’m Steve.

My sister and I are the two youngest of seven first cousins, at least four of whom have taught.  Teachers, journalists, and lawyers hang on our family tree back to before the Civil War.  Older cousins read to us constantly, which did more than anyone else to develop my ear for rhythm.

I majored in teaching instead of writing, but grad school resurrected my urge to put words on paper and I wrote five unpublished novels over the next eight years, one of which became my sixth-year thesis at Wesleyan University.  Among other projects, I’m presently rewriting that book and hope to have it ready to send out by late spring.

I drifted into theater, where the social aspects of rehearsing and performing drew me away from writing for several years.  In fact, I still run a playwriting workshop I developed after acting, directing, producing, or designing for about 90 plays throughout central Connecticut. Then, just as I took early retirement from teaching, the local theater group lost its performance space.

To fill the suddenly available time, I returned to writing.  My first plan was to rewrite that thesis, but, at my high school reunion back in Michigan, I met a classmate who was a session musician in Detroit.  Either personally or through about two degrees of separation, she has played with Meat Loaf, Lou Reed, Bob Seger, and Alice Cooper, and she became the inspiration for a series with a private investigator who is a wannabe guitar slinger and his girlfriend, who is the real deal.  The first book has been revised more often than federal health care legislation and is currently seeking an agent. “Stranglehold”  features the same cast and won the Black Orchid Novella Award from The Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which will publish it in their summer 2010 double issue.

I read dozens of books on writing, attended the Wesleyan Writers Conference, and met writers who encouraged me to keep trying.  Through their help and encouragement, I’ve published three short stories, two of them Honorable Mention for the Al Blanchard Story Award from MWA.

Even though I experiment with romance, comedy, and sort of mainstream material too, most of what I write is crime fiction in one form or another.  Every time I sit down to write, I discover how much I still have to learn about this stuff—and how much I love it.

Three years ago, an actress in a play I was directing challenged me to write a romance. Somewhere along the line, it morphed from romance to mystery, and Mainly Murder Press will publish the result in May 2010.

In Who Wrote The Book of Death? someone is trying to finish the author instead of the book.  When PI Greg Nines agrees to protect a woman from death threats, he assumes that her name isn’t really Taliesyn Holroyd.  Unfortunately, he also assumes she’s really a romance novelist with a book in progress.  She assumes he’s no longer drinking after his own wife’s murder.  What else they don’t know could bury them both along with the book.

Nines realizes he’s falling in love with a woman who doesn’t even exist, but unless he can find the truth hidden in a maze of suspects—an angry ex-husband, an asexual lottery winner, a college rapist, and a philandering politician with mis-matched eyes—nobody will have a happy ending.

My website will appear in the spring.  I’ll keep you up to date on other projects here, too, and invite you to comment and ask questions whenever the mood strikes you.

Thanks for dropping by.


  1. Great beginning, Steve. You've had an incredibly varied life and bring a lot to the table - wishing you much success with your release this May!

  2. Good to see you blogging, Steve. Keep it up.

  3. Steve, now I see why you have a cat as your avatar. Those sure are a lot of lives you've lived! Good stuff for your writing toolkit. I look forward to reading your new novel!

  4. WOW, Steve, you're quite the accomplished writer and all around busy guy. I love the characters you've described in Who Wrote the Book of Death?

  5. Excellent intro, Steve. I feel so inadequate next to you guys. I may have to develop a pen name and write trashy novels or something.

    It is good, though, that we have such a varied list of writers. Romance, mystery, horror, science fiction.

    Any chance you'll be putting your theater experience into a book?

  6. Hey - that sounds like me! Unless, of course, you didn't realize that I write with a pen name - and then it's just damn funny.

  7. Supriya,
    I loved hearing about your book and I am excited that you are working the sequel.
    This is going to be a great year for you. I can feel it!

    All the best,

    Vicki C

  8. Thanks so much, Vicki! I hope it's a great year for BOTH of us!

  9. Thanks, Dawn.

    Now that I've got my feet wet, I'm finding it's fun. We're learning how to work with each other, and that's fun, too. Not to mention learning from what everyone else writes.

    Drop back again, OK?


  10. Wow, Steve, I guess I'm not the only former teacher and long-term writer around. Right now i'm working as a substitute teacher to make money (ha!) and hoping to get a new full time job soon to pay my bills.

    I'm working on a revenge novel/cozy about the greedy man who worked on my manager to promote him and take over my unit. What a creep he is!


  11. Joann,I can surely sympathize. I loved teaching but hated the political games that went with it. I couldn't write and teach because all the voices of defiantly bad student writing interfered with the voices in my head :-) But I find that subbing is good because I don't have to write plans and I don't have to grade papers. And I can read or even edit my own stuff on free periods. Not a bad gig.

    I do have a novel about teaching that's actually gone to a few agents. It's loosely based on my years of teaching during the gang/drug wars of the 90s--when I lost a student three consecutive years in gang shootings. Obviously, it's a comedy.

    Good luck on the full time job. What subject or grade?


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