PROFILE YOURSELF: An Amazing Story with Steven Arnett, Author.

Steven Arnett for “Time for Storytelling.”

Novelist Steven Arnett writes in many different genres, including mystery, suspense, comedy, and literary. A graduate of Michigan State University, he was born in Detroit, Michigan, and lived most of his life in Michigan. He now resides in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, with his wife, Delphine, and daughter, Vivienne.

Ana: First, thank you for letting me interviewing you today. I know how busy you are.

Steven, how did you find your calling to become an author? 

Steven:

After I first started reading literature seriously during my first couple of years in college. I developed a passionate love for all types of literature and that led to want to be a writer myself. 

Ana: I read your book, The Labyrinth. It hooked me from the very start, and I remember that I was more interested in finding out the actual identity of the protagonist than the motif of his sudden death. Where did you get the idea? How did you get the reader focused on the person itself and forget that fact?

I wrote the first draft of The Labyrinth a long time ago, and I can’t remember what led me to the original idea of the story. I can tell you that the protagonist is more like me than any of the other protagonists in my stories and novels. Also, more of the scenes and characters in that novel are taken from my life than those of anything else of written.

That said, the story is far from being autobiographical, and even the scenes and characters that are taken from my life have been dressed up a lot from the actual events.  

Ana: What skill do you think is always the best policy in writing and life? 

Steven:

To believe in yourself and never give up. 

Ana: Imagine that today you met yourself when you were just a child, what would you tell yourself-child?

Steven:

To always think for yourself, not follow the crowd or the easiest path in life, and to let your dreams come true. 

Ana: Good advice! And now, what makes a great story for you? 

Steven:

Great characters and dialog and a compelling plot. 

Ana: How did you find your writing style? Has it changed over time? 

Steven:

It just developed as I began to write fiction. I didn’t consciously look for a style: It just developed on its own. Surely, though, it has been influenced by writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, whose writing styles I really admire. On the other hand, it has even been influenced by writers whose style is very different than my own, like Faulkner: I really admire the beauty of his poetic prose. I would say my style of writing hasn’t change significantly over time. 

Ana: What does it mean to be an author for you?

Steven:

It means the enjoyment of being able to express myself in writing and to be able to invent stories and characters and places from my imagination. Also, I felt great satisfaction from publishing my books and getting great feedback from readers. 

Ana: Tell us a story, an anecdote of your writing, presentation of your books…

Steven:

This isn’t such a big deal really, but last year I was featured on the front page of our local newspaper for a story in it about my writing and my books. Obviously, it’s not quite up there with winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, but it was nice for me.

Also, one of my novels, Winners and Losers, reached #1 in its category on Amazon!

Ana: Whom do you admire? And why? 

Steven:

In terms of writers, my favorites are the great American authors of the post-World War I era, including Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald. They are the writers who inspired me the most to become a writer myself, and also, I admire them because they were at the forefront of the greatest era in the history of American literature. 

Ana: Think about a character that demanded total self-control in your novels. What made him or her difficult or special? How did you successfully interact with them? 

Steven:

Mike O’Brien from Death on Lake Michigan. It took great self-control for him to pursue the case of who murdered Rich Mallon, despite many discouragements and distractions. He needed a lot of self-control both to pursue the case and to stay emotionally detached enough to make sure he ended up with the right answer. I don’t consider myself as interacting with my characters: I think of them instead as my creations, but there’s always a wall between them and me that would prevent what I would call interaction.

Ana: What’s your favorite character and what did you learn about him or her? 

Steven:

Robert Byron from The Summer of Robert Byron. I did a lot of research about the Vietnam War for this novel because the lead character, Robert Byron, has just returned from Vietnam and the army when the story begins, and what happened to him in Vietnam is central to the story line. So, I tried hard to get a sense of what it would be like to have served in the infantry there and to come back home, shattered, afterwards. 

Ana: If you had to choose one current character of a TV show, whom would you choose and why? Have you ever attempted to emulate her or him somehow?

Steven:

Before the coronavirus put a stop to most normal activities, I didn’t really watch much TV. However, in the last two months I’ve watched quite a bit of it. My favorite show lately is Babylon Berlin. I quickly devoured all 28 episodes!

I really came to admire the lead character, Gereon Rath, and the interaction between him and Charlotte Ritter, who becomes his detective assistant and eventually his lover. The way he manages to keep his integrity despite all the corruption going on around him during the Weimar Republic era of German history hooked me. He’s definitely far from perfect, though, and that’s what makes the character interesting: Perfect heroes tend to be dull! I have never tried to emulate Gereon, though. 

Ana: Imagine you have two teleportation devices to travel through time, where will you place them and why? 

Steven:

Tough question because there are many times and places from the past I would like to visit! However, one that really intrigues me is 1920s America, when everything changed, and the modern world was created. I would also love to have lived during the time of Jesus and his apostles, just to see what he was really like and what really happened. If I can sneak a third time in, I would also love to go back to the Golden Age of ancient Greece. 

Ana: What could you not live without?

Steven:

Without question, that would be my wife, Delphine, and my daughter, Vivienne. 

Ana: Tell us about one secret passion.

Steven:

I can’t think of any: The passions I have I don’t keep a secret at all. 

Ana: Do you have any moving story that changed your mind, life, somehow, and you would like to share?

Steven:

In terms of my writing life, I had some really inspiring professors in college who passed on to me their love of literature, which has stayed with me ever since. 

Ana: What’s the most rewarding at the end of the day? Why?

Steven:

Being happy with my family and friends and continuing to stay healthy. Health is a big deal when you get to be my age (68). I know so many people my age who didn’t make it this far or who have terrible health problems. 

Ana: Finally, let’s talk about your last work and your future plans.

Steven:

It’s been awhile since I wrote anything new, but I have been running some ideas through my head about possible new novels. I really enjoy mystery novels, and they are from one of the most popular genres, so my thoughts have been leaning in that direction. If I do write another mystery novel, it would probably be set in the 1960s/1970s era that my other books are set in. That’s the era I really feel I know the best and represents my life better than any other I’ve lived in. To some extent, as you get older, you become an observer of the world, rather than a participant, as new generations come along, and to me that makes it harder to write about them convincingly. 

Ana: Thank you, Steven, for this amazing interview.

The books referred to in this interview, and the other books written by Steven Arnett are available on Amazon. To learn more of Arnett, check out his Facebook Author Page. 

PROFILE YOURSELF: An Amazing Story with Celia Martin, Author.

Celia Martin for “Time for Storytelling.”

Celia loves history, always has, and she loves to tell stories. So intertwining history and stories just seems to come natural to her. Her 17th century adventure romances take place in England and colonial America. Each book is a stand alone story. Doesn’t matter what order they are read in, but major characters in one book may reappear as minor characters in another book. The three primary families are the D’Arcys, the Lotterbys, and the Haywards, but they have many friends who have their stories as well.

Celia loves multiple characters because for her, they round out a story. In real life, we know many people, are involved with many people. In her stories, her major characters are involved with many minor characters. Besides, for her, minor characters are so much fun to write. And they just appear out of nowhere. When Celia starts a book, she has no idea who some of the characters are going to be or what role they will play. Such fun! 

Ana: First, thank you for taking for letting me interviewing you today. I know how busy you are.

Celia, what do you do for a living? 

Celia:

I am a retired history teacher.

Ana: What was the trigger for choosing your job?

Celia:

I love history, and I also liked having summers off to be able to travel and work on research for my writing.

Ana: Where do you get your ideas? 

Celia:

I have always had a vivid imagination and my brother and I and neighborhood friends played many make-believe games together. When I had to give up playing make-believe, I continued to tell myself stories. Eventually, I started writing some down. I still have so many stories in my head. I never have writer’s block. I just don’t have enough time to write all the stories. Besides writing, which is great fun, a lot of time is spent on proofing, and even more time on promoting. 

Ana: What and Who inspires you? 

Celia:

If I had anyone inspiring me, it would be my mom who encouraged my reading, and my dad who was full of stories.

Ana: What message do you want to get across?

Celia:

In my books my characters are caring people. Besides just the love of history and what life was like in a different time period, as well as fun adventures and sweet love stories, I would say I try to make empathy a major theme.

Ana: What is most challenging about what you do?

Celia:

Book promoting. Because I am technologically challenged, I know I am not able to do as much promoting as I wish I knew how to do. Plus, right now, no book signings. That hurts. And I am having trouble getting people to do reviews.

Plus, I would dearly love to hear from readers, but none seem to contact me. I believe those who like history and like adventure and romance would really like my books, but I am having trouble reaching them.

Ana: Imagine you meet today yourself when you were just a child, what would you tell yourself-child?

Celia:

Try to learn to be more media-savvy.

Ana: For you, what makes a great story?

Celia:

I like history, but I like it to be accurate. 

I like romance, but I’m not particularly into erotica. Not that I don’t write some love scenes with some sex involved, but I would say they are more romantic that sexual.

I like adventure, and I think my action scenes are very vivid. I like to be able to see the action in my mind when I am reading as I do when I am writing. 

And I like mysteries, but not gory ones. Most of my villains are evil, but they are not necessarily evil just for the fun of it. I try to make them real and often with circumstances that have led them to their worst behavior.  

Ana: What do you feel are the most relevant aspects of a successful story?

Celia:

Holding the readers attention and having them care about the characters and what happens to them.

Ana: Tell us a story, an anecdote of your writing, presentation of your books (or whatever you would like to share).

Celia:

As a teacher, what I loved to get across to my students was not so much dates and battles and well-known men of history, but how people of the past lived and the problems they faced. Just ordinary people.

We took people on wagon trains west. We made farms and forts and villages. We made colonial signs for our colonial businesses explaining what the business was with a picture or something on a sign, like a boot to designate a shoemaker, because a lot of people in the past could not read.

Anyway, the kinds of fun that I wanted my students to have is the kind of fun I want my readers to have when they read my books.

Ana: How did you find your writing style? 

Celia:

I always had my stories, but what made the biggest difference for me was the terrific writing group I was with for a number of years. They taught me more than I ever learned in writing classes that I took. 

Ana: Has it changed over time?

Celia:

Yes, thanks to my writing group and what I learned from them. I learned to see, hear, taste, and smell in my character’s point of view. My readers should be able to experience what my characters are seeing, hearing, etc.

Ana: What does it mean to be an author for you?

Celia:

Having my first book, To Challenge Destiny, published was such a thrill. I carried it around with me and had to show it to everybody. Now, I have 5 published books, another due out in June, another hopefully in August, and more that I am working on. As I said, I have multiple stories in my head. Just have to get them out. Writing is so much fun.

So being an author means getting to share all my fun stories with other people.

Ana: Who do you admire? And why? 

Celia:

I admire a lot of people, but if you are asking about a specific author, I would say, Georgette Heyer. I loved her romances, her humor, her characters, and her multiple minor characters (which my books have). 

I also read her more historical works. Heyer was very knowledgeable. She knew her history, and she could read Old English. I suppose Georgette Heyer had more influence on my writing than anyone else, though I also like the way Joan Wolfe writes.

Ana: Imagine you have two teleportation devices to travel through time, where will you place them and why?

Celia:

I don’t know that I would want to leave the present. Diseases, lack of proper sanitation, poor transportation, no computers or electricity or good heating – I like to study the past and paint pictures of it with my words in my books, but I don’t want to go there. I am a cancer survivor. Wouldn’t be if I lived in the past. Nor do I want to go into the future. Right now, it is not looking too bright for the young people.

Ana: What could you not live without?

Celia:

My husband and electricity.

Ana: Tell us about one secret passion.

Celia:

That’s an easy one, I want more readers to discover my books. If they like history and they like romance and adventure, they are bound to like them.

Ana: Do you have any moving story that changed your mind, life, somehow, and you would like to share?

Celia:

The most moving story in my life is when I married my husband. We are not only lovers, we are best friends. We love being together. I feel so blessed.

Ana: Finally, let us know about your last work. What’s new?

Celia:

As I said, I have 5 published books. 17th century adventure romances with strong women heroines, lots of fun characters, and sweet love stories. 

In June, my book, Fate Takes A Hand, will be released. It will be free on ebooks for the first two weeks it is out and then like my other books, it will be 99 cents throughout the summer. The story is a fun romance, with some cute kids, a terrific dog, and a lot of fun minor characters. 

Ana: Thank you, Celia, for this amazing interview.

For those wishing to find out more about Celia Martin and her books, check out the following link:

PROFILE YOURSELF: An Amazing Story with Allan Hudson, Author.

Allan Hudson, author, for "Time for Sotorytelling."
Allan Hudson for “Time for Storytelling.”

Allan is an avid reader all my life, he always wanted to write. He was inspired by one of my favorite authors- Bryce Courtenay – who started his writing career in his mid-fifties and went on to publish over twenty best sellers. He knew then that it was never too late to start and it’s been a wonderful journey since. Writing is my passion.

Ana: First, thank you for taking for letting me interviewing you today. I know how busy you are.

Allan, where do you get your ideas? And what message do you want to get across?

Allan:

Like many authors, I believe inspiration comes from our surroundings, the people we meet, the things we do and the memories we make. I live in a small coastal village in Eastern Canada where the sunrises are spectacular, the sunsets glorious, the land is rich, the community is vibrant and the waters are moody.  You will find many references to where I live in my stories.  Often conversations with friends or acquaintances will spark a new story or an addition to a novel. For an example, while chatting with my sisters at a recent gathering, I discovered that many years ago, a cousin had a small convenience store at a public beach with many funny incidents which has acted as a catalyst for a short story I am working on.

I’ve never given much thought to any particular messages I’ve wanted to express. I love feel good stories and I think we need a lot of those in our lives. Many of my short stories contain instances of people helping people. I like older people and children in stories too.

“People helping People.”

Ana: What is most challenging about what you do?

Allan:

Finding the time to write is perhaps my biggest challenge. I still work full time so writing is secondary to life’s commitments but I write every chance I get.

I’ve always been a morning person, so on weekends, you’ll find me up early at my laptop. I like quiet and solitude when I write. I especially have two favorite spots to work from. In the warmer months, I write in my workshop where I have a space cleared specifically for writing. I can look out my window at the water and I always find it calming when I need to think about something I’m stuck on.

In the colder months, I’m at it early at the kitchen table. I plan on retiring in another year so hopefully, there will be more writing time.

Ana: For you, what makes a great story?

Allan:

I like this question and I expect we would all give different answers. I’ve read so many great novels, a lot of so-so novels. Most stories keep me interested but every once in a while, I’ll pick up a book that keeps me enthralled. I can’t wait to get back at it and I can’t stop reading when I do. 

What makes it great? Above all, strong characters, good prose, good dialogue is vital, detail is important to me, what the character is seeing, hearing, doing, etc. I like stories that take me around the world or explore different cultures.

I like characters that are a shade above average, smarter, braver, able to overcome obstacles, kind and no-nonsense. An example is my all-time favorite novel – Shibumi. The main character, Nicholas Hel, is a world-class assassin, an artful lover, courageous with an incredible past, a spelunker and a true friend. 

Ana: What do you love about writing the most?

Allan:

I enjoy taking an idea, an incident, an image or a memory and turning it into a story. 

Sitting in your favorite spot, in front of your laptop, a blank page, a flickering cursor and a few notes and you start. Building the scenes, finding the right words, creating new characters and their personas, all the creative energy that goes into building a story makes me feel good, productive. Getting to the very last sentence and a rush knowing that you’re finished the first draft – what a feeling!

In short, that whole creative journey from start to finish is what I love the most.hat whole creative journey from start to finish is what I love the most.

Ana: Tell us a story, an anecdote you would like to share.

Allan:

As I mentioned in an earlier question, I started writing later in life. After discovering that Mr. Courtenay started around the same age as I was then, I talked about writing a story, I felt like it was possible.

A theme and the main character were already formed in my mind. I just needed to sit and write. I had no clue how to start or really what to do. So, I continued to procrastinate until finally my wife looked at me with a frown and said, “Are you going to talk about it forever, or are you going to sit down and write that darn story? If not, then be quiet!”

We laughed over that a few times but it was the catalyst I needed to get on with it. I’ve never looked back and, in some sense, I guess, I owe it to her for getting me going.

Ana: After that process, what does it mean to be an author for you?

Being an author allows me the opportunity to leave something in the world after I’m gone. When I first started writing, I drew to short stories and penned a few of them. Having three grandchildren, I wanted them to have something that I made especially for them that would continue to be in their lives long after I left. I created three collections of short stories, each one a limited series and dedicated them to my grandchildren. The first copy was signed and given to them, of course.

In other words, I hope that someday, they’ll be going through their collection of memorabilia and will find a book that their “Grampy” made for them.

Ana: In the case of you have two teleportation devices to travel through time, where will you place them and why?

Allan:

I would have one in my workshop here at home. Here at home being on the east coast of Canada in a small community called Cocagne. The other machine would sit in the same spot a hundred years previous.

The Countdown starts…

I have recently finished a manuscript of historical fiction and my main character immigrates to Canada from Scotland to settle in Cocagne. During the writing of the story, I had the opportunity to research the history of my community. Then, comparing the area to today, it was a vibrant busy place, several hotels, two churches, shipbuilding, farms and fields stretching to the horizon, fishermen reaping the bounty of the Bay, a house on an island – what an amazing history. I would love to be able to go back to the turn of the century and see it for myself.

Ana: Do you have any moving story that changed your mind, life, somehow, and you would like to share?

Allan:

This is an interesting question. I think each of us have that moment in our lives where something meaningful happens and changes our ways of thinking. 

I had a close friend who was married to a lady from the US and they moved back to Canada to start a family. We worked together, became friends. We hung out together with our wives and I became the godfather to his oldest child. Later, things changed, they moved to another city two hours away and I saw little of them as the years progressed. Until one day, I was working in his city and I met my friend for a coffee and we chatted about his marriage breaking up and such.

Sad moment because they made a swell couple. After several hours, he looked at me and said, “There’s something I have to tell you”. He had a strange look in his eyes and I thought he was going to tell me he had a terminal illness. After a moment of silence, he informed me, “I’m gay.”

Up to that moment, I’d never know a gay person personally. So, I didn’t understand their struggle.

“Live and Let Live”

Personally, I think he was brave to tell me, not knowing how I would react. I’d always been of the mind “live and let live”. Digesting the news, I didn’t see a gay person on the other side of the table. I saw a good friend that happened to be gay.  So, I broke the silence that ensued by telling him that I guess I wouldn’t have to worry about him flirting with my wife. Relief flooded his face and we laughed so hard.

Ana: Finally, let’s talk about your last work and your future plans.

I have three projects on the go. My completed manuscript of an historical fiction account of a young man having to go live with his bachelor uncle due to misfortunes and difficulties in his mother’s life. Loneliness and happiness follow until catastrophe strikes. As a result, it changes the young man’s life and he decides to emigrate to Canada and start anew.

Tentativley titled – The Alexanders – Dominic, it covers ten years of his life from 1911 to 1920. It’s with my editor now. I’m hoping for publication in the Fall of 2020.

My second WIP is the third book in the ongoing Drake Alexander series. It is 75% completed. No working title as of yet.

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My first two novels introduce him and his antics. An ex-soldier, he and his small group of friends are vigilantes.  They have the time, the funds and the experience to hunt for some of the world’s deadliest criminals.

The third series is their hunt for two brothers that went on a bank robbing, killing spree and have never been caught. A victim’s father approaches them, pleading with them to bring the brothers to justice for killing his daughter, but the clues are twenty years old. It’s an international thriller, the hunt takes them from Bordeaux, France to Mongolia to Switzerland.

My third project is the next Jo Naylor series. In my latest release – Shattered Figurine – Josephine Naylor is a detective. She discovers crimes too close to home. At the end of the story, she needs to leave Canada. Certainly, it has been well received with many excellent reviews. In the next installment, Jo Naylor is on the run and in Thailand. Maybe she’s not a cop anymore but she still finds someone in trouble. Can she help them in a village where she doesn’t know anyone?

Ana: Thank you, Allan, for this amazing interview.

For those wishing to find out more about Allan Hudson and his books, check out these links:

Web: http://www.allanhudson.com

Twitter: @hudson_allan

FB: @southbranchscribbler

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