Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Steven F. Freeman : An Author Interview
Hello Steven, Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a former member of the US Army's Signal Corps, a twenty-six year employee of a large American technology company, and an avid traveler who has visited five continents. My novels draw from my firsthand knowledge of military service, the tech industry, and the diverse cultures of our world. I currently live near Atlanta, Georgia with my wife, daughter, and two dogs.
What have you written?
I am writing a series of novels entitle The Blackwell Files, which feature the same main characters in each book. I’ve finished the first two books (Nefarious and Ruthless), nearly wrapping up the third (T Wave), and have penned a little over half the initial draft of the fourth (Havoc).
Where can we buy or see them?
My books are available in both eBook format (Kindle and Nook) and paperback from most online retailers. You can also order author-signed copies from my website: www.SteveFreemanWriter.com. If you’re interested in knowing when future books are released, you can use my website to sign up for future notifications.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Alton Blackwell, my first main character, was an Army Communications Captain. After he takes a hit to the leg while on active duty in Afghanistan, his self-confidence and leg are equally shattered in the explosion. Assigned to a desk job while recovering, Blackwell struggles to rebuild his emotional and physical life. Pushing through despair and self-doubt, he manages to build new friendships and prove his resourcefulness as he matches wits with Al-Qaeda operatives in the dangerous regions of Kabul. Unable to fully heal, he resigns himself to the abrupt end of his military career as well as any hope to win the affections of the beautiful and intelligent Lieutenant Mallory Wilson.
Mallory Wilson, my second main character, also retires from the Army, applying her forensic accounting skills as an FBI agent. A happy person in general, she nonetheless maintains a fear: all the men in her life have left without warning: her father to a sudden death, and her older brother to a job offer. Will she be willing to take a chance on love?
What are you working on at the minute?
I'm currently working on Havoc, a romantic thriller. I expect it to be released in May, 2014.
What’s it about?
HAVOC charts the convergence of high-tech operatives and government agents on Rome, where a piece of highly-sensitive American technology is about to be sold to the highest bidder. The deal goes bad, resulting in the death of the seller, and the other characters race to lay their hands on the smartphone containing the specs for the breakthrough technology.
My protagonists, Alton and Mallory, are vacationing in Rome at the time. As witnesses to the murder, they are reluctantly drawn into the investigation, eventually becoming targets themselves.
What genre are your books?
I write in the romantic mystery/thriller genre: romantic because it’s a great way to engage the reader on an emotional level, and mystery/thriller because it’s a great way to engage the reader with an interesting plot. So my hope is that readers get double the fun.
What draws you to this genre?
As a fan of this genre, I love writing it as much as I enjoy reading it!
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I think Michelle Borth, who plays Catherine Rollins on the Hawaii Five-O television series, would be a wonderful fit for Mallory Wilson, the female lead in Nefarious.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I only started writing a little over a year ago. A few family members have encouraged (read “bugged”) me for several years to put pen to paper, but my personal schedule only recently evolved in a way that freed up enough time to begin writing. I have had a wonderful time embarking on this career.
Why do you write?
For me, writing is a source of joy. Even though it's a lot of work, I find it energizing.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Like most writers, I write part-time. I actually find this to be an advantage, because my job affords me to the opportunity to engage in the high-tech topics that form the basis of my plots.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I generally write on weekends, holidays, and vacations. I do write on evenings at times, but I prefer having larger blocks of time to write, which allow me to more deeply engage in the story.
Where do the your ideas come from?
I'm a pretty voracious reader of the news, and I work for a tech firm. Both of these outlets provide an abundance of material for intriguing mysteries.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
As a writer of mysteries, I have to outline the plot before I begin in order to ensure all the threads weave together seamlessly. But as I write, I often find I change story elements as better options emerge.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is finding the time. Between my job and family time, finding the time to write is always a challenge.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
I find the creation of ideas is the easiest aspect of writing. I have plots in mind for my fifth, six, and seventh books. Now I just need to find time to put pen to paper!
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
I rarely experience writer's block, thankfully.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
When I experience writer's block, I read the last few pages I've written. By the time I've reached the end, I'm back into the flow of the story and then it's off to the races.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I love science fiction writers (Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card) and historical fiction (Ruth Downie, Harry Turtledove).
What do you think makes a good story?
I think is good story combines an exciting, unexpected story line with characters you care about deeply. When I finish a book, I want to have undergone an emotional transformation, to feel like a slightly different version of myself than I was when I started it. A good story has the power to do that.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I like a paperback for beach reading, but I have to admit e-books are wonderful for travel.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I'm currently reading "Gone" by James Patterson and "Too Quiet in Brooklyn," a cozy Mystery by Susan Russo Anderson.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I engage others to edit my books. While I edit my books as much as possible, I've found that most authors are so familiar with their own work that it's almost impossible to edit it for either dramatic elements or typos.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I've written three books and am making good progress on the fourth. Trying to choose among them feels like trying to pick your favorite child; I love each of them for different reasons. Since my first three books form a series and therefore share many main characters, the arc of the characters’ relationships has spanned across all three. For that reason, I find particular satisfaction with T Wave, the third book in the series (to be released in late spring or early summer), because of the important points reached in the relational narrative. I also particularly like some of the minor characters in T Wave.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book last year at the age of 48. Starting to write at a later age has been fantastic in that I have a variety of life experiences to provide a richness to my books that I couldn't have written at a younger age.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
One of my secondary characters shares my proclivity for telling “groaner” jokes. I suppose almost all writers confer aspects of their own personalities into their characters. I do, too, but this particular characteristic is near and dear to my heart.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
My biggest advice would be to join a critique group so you can meet with other writers with the goal of regularly reviewing each other’s work and giving feedback. Obviously, receiving feedback on your own writing is helpful, but even giving advice to other authors will improve your own craft as a writer.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I decided to self-publish for two reasons which--for me--offset the disadvantages. First and foremost, I like the idea of maintaining my artistic vision. I also liked self-publish because I’d rather use the limited time I have to devote to my writing to actually write rather than spending the hundreds of hours needed to go the traditional-publishing route. I’m not saying I’d never attempt to dip my toes in the pond of traditional publishing, but to date I haven’t felt a great compulsion.
The disadvantage of self-publishing is assuming responsibilities for activities typically addressed by a publisher. Since I lack a publishing-house’s editor, I’ve worked on acquiring other editors. Whether self-published or not, I believe the editing process is always crucial to the quality of one’s story.
How do you market your books?
I have promoted my books primarily via social media. I have author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook, and I participated in a Goodreads giveaway, which placed my book in front of many readers. I have also used several personal appearances (book signings and a discussion at an upcoming meeting). When I sell books directly, I leave in note in the book asking the reader to leave feedback on Amazon and Goodreads. Last, I paid a small fee to have “Nefarious” added as a bargain book to an e-newsletter and received a good response from that effort.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I’ve been lucky so far in that my reviews in Amazon have all been four or five star. However, in the earlier stages of my work, I actively solicit feedback/reviews from a select group of readers, and this is the source of most of my well-intended criticism. And let me add…criticism of one’s work is a little like exercise: it may hurt in the short term, but it’s so good for you in the long term (assuming that the criticism has at least some merit).
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, Steven. Where can readers connect with you or find out more about your work?
Author-signed copies and notifications of future books
Author Facebook page
Author Goodreads page
* Amazon (Kindle and paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (paperback)
* Barnes & Noble (Nook and paperback)