JKB: First off, tell us a little about you. I mean, *I* know you and how cool you are, but my readers of this blog don't. So tell. And don't be shy!
Steve: The character Woody Allen plays in his movie "The Front" is asked how he came to be a writer. He answers that he worked as a sailor, a boxer, and all those other professions a writer must pursue in order to gain the necessary background. I have a fear of deep water, and I'd just as soon chew rocks as hit someone, but my experiences are no less varied. I've been a caddy, a factory worker, a bartender, a chef, a soldier. The two jobs I drew from most while writing The Tavernier Stones were cartographer and jewelry salesman. First and foremost, I'm a dad.
JKB: And since I haven't had the good fortune to get my copy yet (stupid release dates!) can you tell me a bit about your book? I know it involves treasure, and cartography, and highly brainy things. You scare me, really. Tell!
Steve: It's based on the true story of seventeenth century journeyman and trader Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. He made six voyages to the Orient, chiefly India, and brought back to Europe many of the world's most famous diamonds, including one that would eventually be recut into the Hope. He mysteriously disappeared during his seventh and final voyage to India. My novel capitalizes on that mystery: it postulates that he arrived at his destination, amassed the largest cache of gemstones in history (including several actual stones that haven't been seen since his time), and was robbed during his return trip to Europe. The legend of the "Lost Tavernier Stones" grew and grew during the centuries following Tavernier's disappearance, until the day a body floated to the surface of a bog in northern Germany, with one of the Lost Tavernier Stones clutched in its fist. That's where my story begins.
JKB: I'm all about perseverance on this blog - how people succeed, against all odds, to become successful and get their dream book published. Can you give me a short overview of your path to publication?
Steve: Twelve structurally different versions of the novel. Probably thirty rewrites. A hailstorm of rejections. I always knew that the only person who truly loses is the one who quits. So I vowed never to quit.
JKB: I'm having to kill the baby in my own revisions for my (soon to be published) book. Tell me - did you cut out anything particularly wonderful you mourned to do?
Steve: "Mourn" is the right word for it. When the novel was first represented to publishers the reason they gave for turning it down was that it had too many perspective characters. So I killed off three of them. I got over one of the deaths, but the other two still haunt me.
JKB: I love your current contest (Guys! Click HERE to take part and maybe you'll win a BIG FAT DIAMOND of your own!) How in the world did you come up with it? Do you have more fun things planned?
Steve: My introduction to "armchair treasure hunts" was Treasure: In Search of the Golden Horse. Ever since I've been a codebreaking junkie. It just seemed natural to promote The Tavernier Stones with such a contest. I do have plans for more fun stuff, but for now the top priority is to make that diamond bigger. As big as I can make it.
JKB: Was this the first book you'd written? What's your writing history been like, up to now?
Steve: It's my third. The first went gleefully into the trash can. The second followed it kicking and screaming, but followed it all the same. I wrote a lot of short stories that didn't get published before I started writing novels that didn't get published. I'm a bit old fashioned in that I think fiction writers ought to cut their teeth on short stories, especially if they intend to write long novels. You have to be able to create a scene before you can create a book full of scenes.
JKB: Have you always written in this genre? Did you ever switch around? (I was gonna say play for another team, but that sounded er, odd).
Steve: I've always wanted to be a "mainstream" writer. The Tavernier Stones is a departure from the plan, but one I had to make: maps and gems have been such a big part of my life that I just had to write a story about them.
JKB: What are you working on now? Are you switching genres?
Steve: My next novel, which is finished, will probably be called a spy novel. It's based on personal experience: my former boss got life in prison for espionage, and others who worked in our office got sentences ranging from twelve to thirty-six years. My WIP is about a family in Germany that overcomes hardships to keep a vineyard running.
JKB: Are you a dog (boo) or cat (yay!) person? Tell me about your current animal. (I suspect it's a cat, because you're just cool like that).
Steve: Cats rule and dogs drool!
Thanks Stephen! Now if you guys want a darn cool book, go check this one out! It's already getting crazy good reviews and everything, and I can vouch for it!
YAY STEPHEN! CONGRATS ON YOUR RELEASE!