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Nine Questions with… Steve Vernon

Today I’m asking nine questions to fellow Canadian Steve Vernon. Welcome Steve, why don’t you take a moment to introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

Author's photo, with beaverHi folks.

My name is Steve Vernon and I’m a writer and a storyteller.

I’m what some folks call a hybrid author – in that I write both for a traditional publisher as well as a line of my own independently published e-books.

I know. I know. Your Aunt Winifred has released her own e-book. So has her cat. And that ball of magenta yarn in her basket – has its own particular yarn to tell.

I’m not saying that I’m unique.

I started out my writing career writing short stories for the North American small press. Little tiny basement magazines – and some that I think were published in somebody’s sub-sub-sub-basement – for as much as one quarter of a cent per word.

I’m not saying I was making money at it.

In 2004 I pitched a collection of Nova Scotia ghost stories to a regional press up here in Nova Scotia. They liked my pitch and in 2006 they published my first official book Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories from Old Nova Scotia. It’s a great collection of stories based on regional history and folklore that has gone on to sell about 10,000 copies – which is considered pretty good for a regional Canadian press such as Nimbus Publishing.

Only that wasn’t REALLY my first book.

My first book – a novella entitled Long Horn, Big Shaggy – A Tale of Wild West Terror and Reanimated Buffalo was released by Black Death Books way back in 2004.

Since then I have released SEVEN books through Nimbus Publishing – including four ghost story collections, one children’s picture book, one YA novel and a collection of historical murder tales from Nova Scotia.

In addition I’ve released about two dozen e-books and I am writing just as fast as my fingers can tackle the keyboard.

Wow… You really are a storyteller! Tell us about your writing process?

I get up every morning and check my e-mail. Then I check Twitter and I check Facebook. I have breakfast. I pet the cat. I look out the window and try to predict the weather for today. I check my day-timer and figure out if I have a shift at my day job to worry about or not. I bring my wife coffee. I pet the cat some more.

In between all of that elaborate procrastination I somehow manage to write a line or two.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I ought to be honest with you folks. I really wish I could write Fifty-One and a Half Shades of Grey – an unofficial sequel to the multi-multi-billion copy bestselling series.

Here’s a fun and/or depressing little fact. Did you know that one in five books sold in 2012 was a part of the Fifty Shades Trilogy? I tell you – if I could write something that would sell like that I would have to hire me someone to fold up my folding money for me.

But seriously, I really would love to make more headway in the field of young adult literature. There are just so many kids out there who are putting off reading in favor of texting and computer gaming and You-Tube and all of those other Borg/Dalek/hive-mind diversions that are rampant in today’s society. I would REALLY love to write something that would catch the mind of all of those reluctant readers and turn them around.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Wow!

Only five?

For starters – Dracula. My grandmother gave me a paperback copy of that novel way back when I was knee-high to a short knee bone. It was a battered old copy with a photograph of Christopher Lee looking all ominous and moody and gothic. That had to have been the FIRST horror novel I ever read and I loved it.

Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King, was another powerful inspiration. I read that when it first hit the market – alright, so it was after I read a comic book that showed Ben Grimm – The Thing from Marvel’s Fantastic Four – reading a copy of it. I read that novel and I said to myself I have got to grow up and start writing books like that.

Sharpe’s Tiger – by Bernard Cornwell. I read that after reading a recommendation by Stephen King and I still would like to someday sit down and write me a big military adventure series such as the Sharpe series.

Joe Lansdale’s work has inspired me a lot – no book in particular – but I truly admire his comfortable uncensored style of relating a story to the reader that both enlightens and puts a strong tug on your funny bone at the same damn time.

Robert Parker’s Spencer series also rocked my world – at least the first dozen or so books in the series.

I don’t know if that’s five or not. Math was never one of my strong points.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Let’s see – I would love to see Donald Sutherland and Gordon Pinsent cast in a movie version of my vampire and hockey novella – Sudden Death Overtime. Gene Hackman would probably fit as well – even though he’s not Canadian. Tommy Lee Jones would be another great pick – if he could learn how to skate.

I’d love to see what Ray Stevenson would make out of my tough guy anti-hero Captain Nothing. I really thought Ray did a great job in Punisher: War Zone – even though the critics and the box office tally would disagree with me.

And I can’t tell you about casting – but if some Canadian studio does not hurry and pick up the movie rights to my young adult novel Sinking Deeper OR my questionable (sometimes heroic) decision to invent a sea monster and start working on it I may break down and scream.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I would promptly pay off whatever bribe I had offered.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Coffee. Cold and black and strong enough to break a spoon off if you are foolish enough to attempt a stir.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I garden. I have a day job. I pet the cat. I have an addiction to old black and white movies and cheap cheesy horror flicks.

And in between all of that I think about writing.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

Okay – so here are the opening lines of my upcoming YA novel – Big Hairy Deal.

Chapter One – The bear, the Bigfoot and Me

One moment I was standing here in the Cape Breton highlands – and why in the heck did they call them highlands, anyway? I mean, they didn’t look all that high to me. Everything I could see was all rocks and rolling terrain and it seemed more of a humpy-kind of hill country.

“This is Bigfoot country, Adam,” Warren told me. “So you had better keep your eyes open.”

Warren is my stepdad – which is another way of saying that he was a bit of a total dork.

I mean, just take a look at the guy. He’s about as thin as a skinny reed with an Adam’s apple that sticks out from the skinny of his neck and bobbles up and down like he was constantly trying to swallow a live bullfrog inside of his throat.

The man looked absolutely gorky.

“But Adam,” my Mom would always tell me. “He’s your stepdad. You’re just going to have to learn to get along with him.”

Baloney.

As far as I was concerned – all that him being my stepdad meant was that he had accidentally married my Mom six months after my real Dad was killed by that baby carriage.

Which sucked.

Was that more than nine lines?

I told you that arithmetic was NOT my strong point.

Now let’s take a sneak peek into Steve’s Sudden Death Overtime – A Tale of Hockey and Vampires

Sudden Death Overtime - final artMeet Sprague Deacon – one of the toughest old-time hockey players who ever skated upon a rink of hand-poured ice. Sprague was born and raised and he expects to die here on the Northern Labrador coast. What he did not expect was a tour bus full of vampires – none of whom glitter in the least bit – to pull into his town and begin lowering the population level – one corpse at a time. Sprague and his three best friends – an over-the-hill never-say quit bush league hockey team from Northern Labrador go toe-to-tooth with a tour bus full of vampires in an immortal-stakes showdown of street hockey? For the answer – throw Paul Newman’s Slapshot into a blender with Steven Niles 30 Days of Night and hit frappe!

Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you directly to Amazon!

I’d like to thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to connect with Steve you can find more information about him, including all of his novels on his website.

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