I'm so excited to welcome a gifted author to my blog today. Steve Emmett published his horror novel Diavolino with Etopia Press and I rushed to download it. I wasn't disappointed in the chills I got while reading his debut novel. I asked if he'd like to visit with me where I could find out more about his writing.
Steve, you've had some exciting reviews and events with the release of Diavolino. Can you tell us about your experience with your debut novel?
Steve: I’d had my share of rejections and had almost become immune to them. I had really bad influenza in October 2010 and had to take to bed – a rare event for me – but one morning I dragged myself to my study and checked my emails. There was one from Etopia Press. I read how much they liked my writing, the story and so on, and it was only when I got to the end I realised I hadn’t come across the words ‘unfortunately’ or ‘however’. I read it again and saw that I’d completely missed their offer! I can honestly say that my life changed that day. I’d longed to be a published writer and deep down felt it would happen, but you still doubt as time goes by.
I had a great editor in Patricia La Barbera and my first experience of working with a professional editor was genuinely a lot of fun. I learned a lot, too. Then there was the cover art; Annie Melton (the big cheese at Etopia) sent me two versions and they were both stunning. We disagreed about which one to use. Annie won. She was right! After all of that, there were more edits to make sure nothing had slipped through, then the release as an e-book in February 2011.
I knew nothing about e-publishing, frankly, and was surprised to find that I had to do a lot of hands on promo work myself in places like Twitter and FaceBook, but Annie was great, always there to advise and point me in the right direction. I was a bit taken aback when I got a mention on ClassicFM, which is one of the biggest nationwide radio stations in the UK, on release day. The scariest thing of all was getting reviews from total strangers. It seems I needn’t have worried. Aside from a couple of people, everyone has been full of praise. On Amazon.co.uk there are currently 31 reviews of which 28 are 5* and 2 are 4*.
Recently, I’ve had to proof the galleys for the paperbacks. That was strange reading Diavolino again after all this time and having worked on other projects since. Just as well I still liked it! Having the paperbacks is important to me as, especially here in the UK, not everyone is yet into e-books.
You also have a horror short story called Kid that sounds just as frightening as Diavolino. How did the idea for this story come to you?
Steve: To be perfectly honest, Kid was written for a British horror magazine but at the last minute they ran out of space (or so they said). It seemed a shame to let it languish on the hard drive of my computer so I decided to make it a bit longer and see if I could do something with it. The actual story idea had been in my head for months, but until I had the request from the magazine I had never written what I call ‘gore fest’ material. Kid leaves us unsure what to think, how to feel; I like to play with ambiguity.
What is your current writing project?
Steve: I hesitate to answer because I have two on the go. I suppose the ‘A’ project is a horror novel set in Rome. It’s about ancient Roman emperor gods, vampires, guilt and sin. I’d like to have the first draft ready by mid-March if I can. Project ‘B’ is a darkly depressing psychological contemporary thriller. Can I say that?
Do you have a story idea that you'd like to write in a genre besides horror?
Steve: Oh yes! I’ve already written two chapters. It’s a humorous story about a hapless British real estate agent selling houses in Italy, and the incredible wacky characters and crooks he has to deal with. Yep – it’s quite autobiographical; you would not believe the people I met when I was in that business!
You are also a writing coach. How does that work and what's the most difficult thing for a new writer to improve in their writing?
Steve: When I decided to write I was aware that I had no idea how to write fiction. I’m a firm believer in the old saying ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ so I decided to take a course. It was my ex-tutor who said to me a few months ago, ‘Time you started tutoring, Steve.’ I thought about it, realised how much I enjoyed helping other writers, how much they said I’d helped them, and decided to give it a go. I set up http://thewritingcouch.com/ where people can get information on what I do, and I work entirely by email so my ‘students’ can be anywhere in the world. I’m a one man band, so I can’t handle lots of people at the same time but, on the other hand, students get personal attention.
New writers invariably stumble over pacing and fall into the trap of giving too much detail. I’m always saying, ‘Do we need to know this? If not, get rid of it and get the story moving.’
Not only are you an accomplished author, you've also spent time as an actor. Do you feel that your acting background has made you a better writer and if yes, how so?
Steve: I’m not sure which is the egg and which the chicken. To act you have to get right inside the character you’re playing, become that person. A good writer has to do the same thing with the characters he or she is writing about. The two roles help each other, of that I have no doubt whatsoever, but it’s worth noting that not all actors can write, and not all writers can act. The important thing for a writer is to be creative and to do things that stimulate your creativity. Acting does that for me.
Now, here are a couple of fun questions about you personally and not so much about your writing. You're in a plane that crashes on a deserted island. You have to spend the rest of your days with 5 people who were also on the plane. Who would you like to spend it with? You can choose people you know or famous people.
Steve: Five? That’s an awful lot! Well, look, I have to have my partner because I can’t live a day without him, not even after fourteen years. And I’ll not sleep tonight if I miss off my son who is the other man in my life (though I do feel guilty inflicting the situation on them). Which leaves me with three, right? Jeesh. *drums table with fingers* Oh, I guess Robinson Crusoe would already know much of what we’d have to do in order to survive! And Oscar Wilde would entertain us and provide stimulating conversation. I’m thinking of protecting ourselves, hunting, forest survival I guess…hmm… Robin Hood!
I've never traveled to England, and I'm fascinated by your country. If I were to visit England, what is the most interesting thing you would take me to visit and why?
Steve: London is the greatest city in the world. Yes, I can hear the protests, but let me tell you I know many cities and I love them, but London does pip the lot. It has a rich history with ancient sites, ghosts, traditions – plus some of the most spectacular modern architecture in the world. If I could have you for just a short time, I’d take you on a boat trip down the Thames from which you’d get the most spectacular sights. You’d be chomping at the bit to get your map out and investigate further. Come on, Brinda! Get over here, I want to show you! Let me take you by the hand and lead you…oh, no, that’s another guest, isn’t it. *blushes*