Hello Steven, welcome and thank you for agreeing to an interview.
It’s my pleasure, Adele. Many thanks for having me.
Twelve Months is a novel which is written in a memoir style, how much of its content was related to things which you have experienced in your own life?
A few of the experiences that our protagonist, Don, lives through closely mirror experiences that I’ve had. The cliché is true: We can only write about who we know and what we know. Although I consider Twelve Months a fictional work, the content all felt very real to me—so the emotions were also very real. For example, Don served in Vietnam. I served in the first Gulf War.
How much time did you spend on research for this novel?
This is very difficult to measure. The short answer is years. In retrospect, I spent six months conducting direct research for the novel, but when I look at the book as a whole—it’s taken me years to gather the information to pen this work.
The novel is very emotional, was it difficult to write?
Years ago, I heard that “a good writer makes readers think, while a great writer makes readers feel.” I have always strived to achieve the latter. Unless a book is going to move someone, it’s not worth the time for me to write it. At times, it was difficult—because if I can’t cry, then I don’t expect my readers to.
How did you decide which life experiences to give your character?
I started with a list of lessons that I wanted to main character to either learn or impart on his family. From there, I spun the life experiences.
The first person narrative works very well, was this always your intended style or did you initially begin writing in third person?
This is the first and only book I’ve ever written in the first person. It just seemed to be the best approach. To tell the truth, it was a much easier and quicker write. With third person, you’re playing God as the writer; able to know every characters thoughts, feelings, etc. In the first person, you only have insight into the main characters thoughts and feelings, and everyone else’s reactions to that. Although it’s more complex, I still prefer to write in the third person.
You have included a lot of inspirational quotes and advice, are these things which you personally try to live by? Do you have a favourite?
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
“If you dig someone out of their troubles, you’ll always find a place to bury your own.” – although not original to him, my grandfather always told me this
How do you juggle your family and writing life so that each aspect gets the time it needs and deserves?
The greatest challenge for me has been time. First and foremost, I am a dad and my children come first. After that, there are other responsibilities that need my attention. Yet, my passion to write has constantly gnawed at my soul. To overcome the obstacle of time, I made writing a priority over watching TV and sometimes even sleeping. 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.
Do you have any writing advice to give to the new authors out there?
Now that I have nearly two decades of writing and getting published under my belt, here are a few tips on being a writer I wish I had known at the beginning of my career. I enjoy trying to help new writers break in. My advice is always the same:
- 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.
You have written a number of books now, do you have a personal favourite?
My favorite is always my next book – The Rockin’ Chair due out June 2013
The Rockin’ Chair (due out summer 2013) is mainstream fiction, written from a male perspective to a female audience. A la Nicholas Sparks, the novel is based on three generations of Montana men who struggle with their very different roles. Intended as spiritually heart-warming, this tear-jerker was written to feel like a leisurely walk through high grass on a lazy summer Sunday. On the way, however, there are lessons to be learned: that the same truths have many perceptions, while attitude shall dictate life’s memories.
You have just released a new novel, could you tell us about this please?
Goodnight, Brian was released January 8th. Fate was working against little Brian Mauretti. The food that was meant to nourish him was poisoning him instead, and the doctors said the damage was devastating and absolute. Fate had written off Brian. But fate didn’t count on a woman as determined as Brian’s grandmother, Angela DiMartino – who everyone knew as Mama. Loving her grandson with everything she had, Mama endeavored to battle fate. Fate had no idea what it was in for.
This novel was inspired by a true story; I have a dear friend whose cousin has suffered from the Sytex tragedy. The vast majority of the story, however, is fiction. In fact, Mama (the protagonist and central point of the story) is a combination of my grandmother, my mother, my mother-in-law, as well as a few other women I’ve met in my life who have inspired me.
What other Works in Progress are you involved with at present?
I’m current working on a new novel; a love story between a soldier and the woman he returns to (who will heal him). I’m just in the storyboard phase now.
Thank you Steven it was a pleasure talking with you.
It was my pleasure, Adele! Again, thanks so much for sharing my work with your readers.
Please provide a list of all your published works.
The Unexpected Storm
Steve Manchester is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of his works, including #1 bestseller Twelve Months. You can learn more here.