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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, thriller writer Stephen Steele shares details of his new book, The Trouble With Miracles, and what inspired his series.
Written by JJ Barnes
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am a writer of action-suspense thrillers and upmarket fiction. I graduated from the University of North Texas with degrees in English literature and marketing. My athletic passions have always been skiing, sailing, swimming and mountain biking. I worked as a salesman, syndicator of television sports shows, builder and developer, ski instructor and cowboy. I live in Montana in an 1800’s Victorian home with my ruthless editor Beverly.
When did you first WANT to write a book? When did you take a step to start writing? How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
I knew I was a writer in the fifth grade. Superman informed my first stories. My writing career came to an abrupt halt at the age of ten when I buried Superman under a mountain of rock and couldn’t figure out how to get him out because he had lost his superpowers. It wasn’t until fifty years later that I came up with the solution: There was an earthquake. Superman fell through a crack that opened up in the rock beneath him and fell through into a rushing river that carried him out from under the mountain. Here, he quickly recovered his powers and streaked off into the sky to continue his fight for “truth, justice and the American way”. After that my writing really took off.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
The first drafts of my novels generally take around six months. Rewrites and editing take another six months. A finished novel takes about a year from inception to release.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write The Trouble With Miracles?
My latest book is the third in a 3-book series. I didn’t want to write it because I had no idea what the story was going to be about. I knew I wanted to write about the mystery magic of the Easter Island statues, but didn’t know what that mystery and magic was, let alone how to work it into a story. Fortunately, I had a publishing contract, so I was obligated to press ahead. I’m so glad I did. It taught me once and for all an important writing lesson: the information isn’t there until you need it, any more than tomorrow is there until you wake up and realize it’s here.
What were your biggest challenges with writing The Trouble With Miracles?
At the end of the Book II in the series, I wrote that there were mysterious lights shooting out of the ground down in Chile. The lights were so powerful they could be seen outer space. I had not the slightest idea what these lights were, what they were causing them, or how I was going to work them into a story. I seem to do some of my best work when I have to write my way out of a corner I’ve written myself into.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
I try to create protagonists who don’t give up in the face of defeat. Men who seek the love of a strong and independent women to form a real partnership as opposed to a dominator relationship. Men and women whose internal struggles lead them finally to the truth about themselves. Men and women whose self-worth comes from within, who are so confident in their own truth they don’t need anyone else to believe it. In short, real-life heroes.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
Life is a learning curve, steep and challenging. I am inspired by the things I learn along the way.
What is the inciting incident of The Trouble With Miracles?
Book I, The Cannastar Factor, is about an inexpensive, organically grown cure for viral disease—everything from cancer to coronavirus to the common cold—that Big Pharma makes illegal.
The inciting incident in Book I is the mysterious and horrifying murder of a brilliant scientist and dear friend of the protagonists.
Book II, The Organ Grinder Factor, is about a 3D printer that replaces human organs without the need for surgery.
The inciting incident in Book II is a terrifying shipwreck off the west coast of Africa.
Book III, The Trouble with Miracles, is about the discovery of the ancient secret to fusion energy and a desperate race to keep it out of the wrong hands in a breathless adventure that ranges from Chile’s high northern desert to the magic and mystery of Easter Island.
The inciting incident in Book III is the strange disappearance of a close friend’s son who is working down in Chile as a geologist.
What is the main conflict of The Trouble With Miracles?
Book I: Big Pharma conspires with the government and the media to take a miracle drug that could save millions of lives off the market.
Book II: The real-world horrors of child slavey in Africa and the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in Israel threatens the lives of the protagonists.
Book III: The story is driven by China’s inexorable drive to control the world’s natural resources, and the moral dilemma of mankind getting its hands on a force so powerful it could solve air pollution and climate change forever—or turn the earth to space dust in a heartbeat.
Did you plot The Trouble With Miracles in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I have to know how a story is going to end before I start. Most everything else comes out of the daily process of writing it. Generally, the information isn’t there until I need it. And then it is. In real time. Every time.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Trouble With Miracles need?
Every writer needs an editor, just as every athlete needs a coach. It is very difficult to find someone who will tell you the truth about your book. It is even harder to find someone smart enough see what the truth is, and harder still to find a person who can tell you what needs fixing without telling you how to fix it, and say it in a way that you can hear it. I am very fortunate so have such a person: my wife and ruthless editor Beverly. In the case of the third book in this series, there was one sequence that went on and on and had to be drastically shortened.
at is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
If you are a writer you know it. You have always known it. Don’t let life talk you out of your dream.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
All Systems Have Failed, a dystopian thriller about what it takes to change the course of history, is in the final editing stage. Western civilization has been deliberately, systematically destroyed. A totalitarian dictatorship of corporate rulers has taken its place. The wealthy ruling class are called “Walled-Ins”, and food is used as a means of oppression.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
It’s not about leaving something behind for me because after you’re dead, who cares? It’s not about the destination because, as a writer, I’ve found there is not finish line. For me, it’s about the journey. Was it worth it, the journey? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Facebook: Stephen Steele – Author
My books can be found on Amazon, and wherever books are sold.
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