ATB: Congrats on Kelpie Dreams winning a Kindle Press contract. This book was your second novel submitted to Kindle Scout, but your first win. What advice would you give authors considering Kindle Scout as a means to publication?
Write a good book. An awful lot of fuss has been made about the way that Kindle Scout is kind of like American Idol for books - but at the end of the day the good folk at Kindle Scout are looking for a good book. That is the best way to think about it. Those gods of Kindle Scout, those folk who have the powers of life and death over every single Kindle Scout book campaign - at the end of the day they are nothing more than a room full of readers looking for a darn good book.
Find some characters that readers can relate to. Keep the pacing peppy. Don’t fart around having your main character take thirty-eight days to get up out of bed. Give them a problem that they need to solve. That is the heart of any story ever told. Get your character into a tree and then throw rocks at him.
ATB: Summarize Kelpie Dreams in one or two sentences?
Meet Lady Macbeth—a high school librarian, ex-assassin, and part-time kelpie, whose mother wanted to name her Hemorrhoid at birth. Now she has to take on a Sea Hag—eight legs of Godzilla-ugly poured into a bucket full of meanness—with the help of a one-woman army named Rhonda, a 200-year-old Sea Captain, and a hunky lighthouse keeper who won't admit that he's dead as well. KELPIE DREAMS is a funny, action-packed, shoot-em-up paranormal romance novel for folks who HATE to read romance novels.
ATB: What’s your favorite lines from Kelpie Dreams?
I hate picking favorites. That just feels way too much like picking kids out of a line-up back in public school for the baseball team - and I was always the last one picked which really hurt my feelings because I hated the idea that everyone thought that I was a total klutz and to make matters worse I totally KNEW that they were right about me being a total freaking klutz when it came to anything remotely athletic, unless you count me coming first place in that St. Patrick’s Day green pancake eating contest - so yes, I absolutely HATE picking favorites.
But here goes. Mild-mannered and easily-offended folks might want to close their eyes while they are reading this brief excerpt. This is a short scene from early on in the first chapter when Lady Macbeth (the main character) is in the middle of explaining just how she came to be NAMED Lady Macbeth.
“Hemorrhoid isn’t really any kind of a name,” the delivery doctor had argued with my mother, after she had quietly confided her choice of a name for her firstborn child to approximately half of the hospital’s five and a half floors’ worth of patients and staff in one long lungful of a screaming shout: “Jesus dying nail-palmed Christ almighty, Margaret Hemorrhoid Sally Anne Macbeth—will you just hurry the Hell up and get born!”
“Hemorrhoid really isn’t a name at all,” the delivery doctor told her. “It is more along the lines of a somewhat irritating medical manifestation.”
“I have an Aunt Hermione,” my mother tartly informed the delivery doctor. “That’s close enough to Hemorrhoid, isn’t it?”
Jazz hands, Mom, big-time jazz hands.
“I want to name the child Hemorrhoid,” my mother insisted. “I have the right to, if I want to do so.”
And yes, indeed—that was most definitely the single biggest jazz hands, hallelujah, and please-pass–the caramel-coated-popcorn moment in my entire lifetime.
(I would like to take a brief moment to apologize for my protagonist’s chronic potty mouth. She is a high school librarian when she isn’t busy wrestling Sea Hags - and there is just no telling at all what will come out of the mouth of a high school librarian.)
ATB: You have quite a backlist. How would you describe your writing/publishing career?
I guess that I would have to describe my writing career as a long rambling road trip through about forty years or so of writing experience - with a broken compass and a seriously out-of-date road map.
I got started back in the early 1980’s, peddling short genre fiction to the North American small press. One of my first short stories, “The Bridge” was sold to a biker magazine with more breasts, beards and bug-ridden grins than you could shake a Harley Davidson at. I also had the good fortune to place a short story in the pages of Cemetery Magazine, a well-established magazine of horror fiction that was just getting off the ground back when I was also getting started.
Over the years I sold poetry, book reviews, interviews and stories. I also sold a dozen or so novels and novellas to various small press publishers. Then, in 2006 I took part in a local pitch session - the first of its kind here in Halifax - and sold a collection of Nova Scotia ghost stories (HAUNTED HARBOURS) that was picked up and published by a local regional publisher (Nimbus Publishing). Since then I have published seven books through Nimbus - including a young children’s picture book (MARITIME MONSTERS) and a young adult novel (SINKING DEEPER: MY QUESTIONABLE AND SOMETIMES HEROIC DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER).
About three years ago I was approached by the folks at Crossroads Press who asked me if I had ever considered releasing some of my back catalogue in e-book format. I tried that for a while with them and then I got the bug, but bad, for indie publishing and I went through my back catalogue and released everything that I could possibly lay my hands upon. Then I began writing new work for immediate indie publication.
Then came Kindle Scout.
So, in a way, my writing career has been a little bit like the politics of a country. For a few years the independents were running things. Then came the Republicans. Then the Democrats. Right now I think the fellow in charge isn’t quite right in the end but I like the look of his grin and I voted for the son of a bear anyway.
ATB: If you could come face-to-face with any mythical creature, what would it be?
I think it would have to be Bigfoot. With my rambling frame and easy-going physique and totally uncombable hair I have often thought of myself as a bit of a Bigfoot.
What’s it like to live in Nova Scotia?
Steve: The best way to think about it is to remember that I came here to Nova Scotia to visit - about forty years back. In between I have hitchhiked from end of Canada to the other - and I still call Nova Scotia my home stomping grounds. It’s been a forty year visit - and considering that’s four decades long it has been pretty darn good to me.
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