Monday, January 20, 2014

Author Interview with Steve LeBel

Steve LeBel
Muskegon, Michigan

Welcome to Vision and Verse this morning, Steven.  Can you tell us what have you written?
My full length novel, called Bernie and the Putty, is about a world where gods and goddesses build universes for a living. The hero is a young god named Bernie, who just graduated from God School and been lucky enough to land his dream job building universes. Plagued by a school rival and aided by his friends, he struggles to create a world he can be proud of.
It’s been great fun to write, and when your characters can design their own universe, it gives you a lot of latitude.

What is your favorite genre to write?
I love writing fantasy. Making stuff up gives me a chance to exercise my imagination, which is always fun. And when your subject is gods and goddess who build universes, your subject matter can go just about anywhere you can image.

Favorite food.
I love almost everything with one caveat: I don’t like spicy foods. Give me steak and lobster, or omelet and pancakes. Doesn’t matter. Yummm.

Tea or coffee?
Coffee.  And LOTS of it, please.

Pizza or ice cream?
Don’t think I have ever met a pizza I didn’t love. Ice cream I can be picky about, but give me a Grand Traverse Bay Cherry Chocolate, and I’ll write a dictionary for you.

Where would you like to visit?
I’ve had the chance to travel to over 30 countries around the world. I’m fascinated by the Far East, but also love the European countries. Still on my short list are Australia and Japan.

There are two things that drive my selections. The first is the people. I love experiencing new people, new cultures, and new ideas. The second is my fascination with anything ancient and shrouded in mystery. Old temples, abandoned cities, magical places? If I haven’t been there yet, they are probably on my short list.

Favorite musical artist.  Do you listen to music when you write?  What?
When I’m serious about writing, I turn off all distractions. It’s not uncommon for me to grab my laptop and put in a day at the library. I sneak in snacks and a thermos filled with energy drink or coffee so I don’t have to leave for lunch.
When I am semi-serious about writing. I run Pandora with Celine Dion for my station. I can listen to her (or similar songs), and it doesn’t distract from my writing. If I become conscious of the music, like when they slip in a song with a ‘rap’ background, I give it a thumbs down. Last week, I realized my Celine Dion station had morphed into a country music station.

What makes Steve LeBel laugh?
I find many things funny. First person stories, whether told or read, are great. There are a few things I don’t seem to ‘get’ any more, like slapstick.

How old were you when you started writing?
I did creative writing in high school and some in college. My work required a lot of business writing, and I was fairly good at it. But when I started writing fiction, I had to re-learn how to do it. It’s really very different.

Describe your perfect evening.
Warm night, slight breeze, foreign country, wife at my side, dining in an open air restaurant with people I just met, sipping wine, and listening to a soft band playing in the background. Nothing to do, except relax, have fun, and then a leisurely stroll home.

Where do you get your inspiration?
That’s never been a problem; I have a very creative mind, and it’s always full of ideas. My real challenge is keeping focused on the goal as more and more ideas pop up to distract me.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
When I find myself with a case of writer’s block, it’s more likely to be a case of “writer’s procrastination”. Usually, I have to change the setting for me to break through. A library day will usually get me going. Sometimes I’m having trouble getting started and what I write seems bad. I’ve learned to write through it, knowing the first 15 minutes of writing will be poor quality, and I will end up discarding most of it. After I get through that, I find myself in the zone and the writing starts flowing again.

Who is your favorite author?
Terry Pratchett, who wrote the Diskworld Series.  He’s brilliant and has an extraordinary ability to think so far outside the box that he always finds a humorous way to tell his story.

Best book you ever read.
There have been several. One that always comes to mind is The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart. It’s a story of Merlin growing up. It is a masterful telling of the story, and she kept me on the edge of my seat.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My father. He instilled me with a work ethic that has served me well. He taught me to work hard, do my best, and go the extra mile. To my amazement, it’s been rewarded far more times than not.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
To answer this question, I did a google search of amazing people. The great thinkers fascinated me, but it’s always been the problem-solvers that I’ve been drawn to. Somewhat to my surprise, I came up with Benjamin Franklin. He had an amazing grasp of science, literature, politics, invention, people skills, and leadership skills. Yet a strong sense of principles guided him. He would be great fun to get to know. I might even ask him about the Hell Fire Club.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
There are many skills required to be successful. The ability to write is obvious, but you also have to be able to promote and market your work. Whether you go with traditional or self-publishing, there is a lot of marketing required.
I think my advice would be to read a couple books on the ‘business of writing’ to make sure you understand what it really is. You will have a better set of expectations so you know what you are getting into.

When will your book be published?
It looks like May-June 2014. It seems like forever, to me. I had no idea so many things were required before a book was actually ready to be published.
Argon Press, my publisher, has free Advance Review Copies for anyone interested in doing a review of the book.


If anyone is interested in more about Bernie and the Putty, you can check the book trailer:

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  1. Thank you for visiting with us this morning, Steve. We've enjoyed having you with us and we wish you continued success in all your writing endeavors. I will be checking the freezer section for Grand Traverse Bay Cherry Chocolate ice cream! Come back and see us again.

  2. Thank you, Carol. This was a fun interview. Good luck to you and all your readers!

  3. Thank you, Steve. Vision and Verse has a terrific readership. They are the best in the world! Come back and see us again.