Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and twelfth, is of horror, suspense and supernatural novelist Steve Emmett.
Steve Emmett is a British author with a keen interest in horror, suspense and the supernatural, and he is proud to be a member of the Society of Authors. He has reviewed for the New York Journal of Books, Suspense Magazine and FEARDex but now concentrates more on his own writing and professional editing. As a writer he considers himself a late starter, having decided to put pen to paper just four years ago at the age of fifty.
Steve studied at the Architectural Association in the late 1970s after which he got involved with designing and building a few luxury houses. But he went off the rails and pursued further his love of Italy which had started during his student days.
After many years running his own London-based agency selling Italian country homes and estates, he moved to the Tuscan-Umbrian border in 2000, not only setting up home but founding a local branch of his UK agency. No surprise, then, that his highly acclaimed debut novel, Diavolino, is set in the very area Steve lived and knows so well. He retired from real work in 2009 to concentrate on writing. He is an opera fan and admits to being pro-Wagner, enjoys films by Peter Greenaway and music by Nyman and Glass.
And now from the author himself…
I may be a horror fan but personally I’m not inclined towards violence of any kind. I have wondered, were I young enough to be called to arms should HM Government find it necessary, if I would be a conscientious objector. I think I might. Not because I’m a coward – I think anyone who knows me would testify that I’m quite willing and able to fight for what I believe in – but because I don’t think killing can ever be justified. And there are always two sides to a story – conflict, if you prefer – and both sides will claim quite earnestly that God is with them. Plainly, they can’t both be right.
Well, why do I start with such a subject on a writerly website? If you are a writer who hasn’t made the A list yet, you will know what I mean when I say that, despite my stance against violence, I really want to swipe my hand across the faces of people who give you that look (you know the one I mean – lips tight across the face, slightly turned down at the corners, eyes pooling with pity, head tilted to one side) when you tell them you’re a writer, or you want to be writer. Why do they do that? It’s because they believe you won’t make it, that it’s all just a dream. Poor little misled you. You need to go back to the 9-5 day job and be content. SMACK!
Of course you can do it. But you have to really, really want it. Not want it like you wanted that fortnight in Venice or the new car or the conservatory. Getting those was easy. Becoming a writer is the hardest thing you will ever do. When I decided in 2008 that I wanted to bring an end to my previous career and become an author, I had no idea how to write fiction. I’d written plenty of factual articles over the years and had some published, but ‘journalism’ is quite different from good story telling. At least I realised that, I suppose. The first thing I did was to sign up for a writing course. Now that’s a minefield, so be wary. There are lots of ways you can be parted from your money and I feel fortunate that I chose well. I came across a course run by the London School of Journalists. I took the novel writing course and had a wonderful tutor – the novelist Margaret James. After that it was just hard slog and determination. And sacrifice. Yes, learning to live on a fraction of what you’ve been used to isn’t easy – but nothing was going to stop me from making this change.
My first novel, Diavolino, got picked up by US publisher Etopia Press and is available as an e-book and paperback. I self-published a short story, Kid, just to see what the process was like and, really, to serve as a kind of loss leader for Diavolino. I still believe in publishers rather than self-publishing, and that’s why my second novel will soon be sent off to… Ah, you’ll have to wait and see!
So where am I after a bit less than four years? Not on the A list, for sure, so I still get those damned looks. But I’m published and I earn money from my writing and from editing/tutoring. Onwards and upwards.
Now, did I mention luck? Luck plays a big part and I am not naturally lucky, I have to graft for everything. That’s OK, I’m used to it, I’ve worked it out by now. But you know those very rich people who smile and say ‘There’s no such thing as luck’? Don’t you just want to go… Smack!
Morgen: I do. I’m often just in the right place at the right time but yes, I graft too. Thank you, Steve.
You can find more about Steve and his writing via… http://steve-emmett.com and http://thewritingcouch.com. His books are widely available including Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and Steve will also be one of the authors appearing at Northampton’s first ever Gay Literature Festival (14th-16th September), here in my home town (and where I’ll be talking about eBooking and writing groups!).
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction author Jasha Levi – the four hundred and sixty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.