Thursday, February 6, 2014

Interview with author Stephen Seitz

We have a two-fer today with author Stephen Seitz. He’s sharing a bit about his novels Never Meant to Be (MX Publishing, London, 2013), and Secrets Can’t Be Kept Forever (CreateSpace and Kindle, 2013).

Stephen Seitz is a journalist, author, media consultant, film critic and talk show host based in Springfield, Vermont. His varied career includes writing and editing books, radio host, advertising, newspaper reporting, and political campaign manager. He is also a lifelong Sherlockian.

Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula is Seitz' first novel. His next Sherlock Holmes-themed novel, Never Meant to Be, released in October 2013 by MX Publishing.

Seitz has recently published the first novel in a Vermont-based contemporary mystery series, titled Secrets Can't Be Kept Forever. He is revising the second novel in the series and drafting the third. In addition to that, Seitz is researching a series of nonfiction books about the art of cinema.

Seitz also hosts the cable program, "Book Talk,” seen on various public access shows, as well as on Vimeo and YouTube.

Welcome, Stephen. Please tell us about your current releases.
I have two which emerged at about the same time. In Never Meant to Be, copy editor Cynthia Kenyon has an accident with H.G. Wells’ time machine, and finds herself taken to London in 1882. An encounter with Prof. James Moriarty requires the aid of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Cynthia doesn’t count on her attraction to Watson, or the consequences it has for the course of history.

Secrets Can’t Be Kept Forever, is the first in a series of contemporary mysteries featuring Ace Herron, the crime reporter for a Vermont newspaper. (I’ve been covering courts and crime for going on 20 years.) I based part of the story on a real-life case where two people who would ordinarily have no business falling in love, fall in love anyway, with devastating consequences for two families. And the story doesn’t do a lot of good for Ace’s marriage, either.

What inspired you to write these books?
Never Meant to Be just sort of emerged. I wanted to write a love story, and time travel has always fascinated me; in fact, I’m researching another story involving the Lincoln assassination. The universe of Sherlock Holmes provides the perfect setting for such a story, and poor Dr. Watson, so often described as a ladies’ man, hardly ever gets to indulge that side of his character. I don’t believe I have ever written a book so quickly; it took about six weeks.

For Secrets, one reason I wrote it is that no one writing stories featuring reporters has even met one, let alone understand what reporters actually do. I wanted to have some fun with life in the newsroom, and especially correct the cliches. I also have a few things to say about modern newspaper management, which is strangling the industry. The Internet and online news outlets are not the problem.

The other reason is that mysteries are more challenging when the protagonist doesn’t have the tools of law enforcement at his disposal. Reporters can’t search law enforcement databases, witnesses are under no obligation to talk, there isn’t any penalty for lying to the press, and deadlines can’t be ignored. I like to think I portray people more realistically than usual. However, only the readers can make that judgment.

Excerpt from Secrets:

Virginia made an impromptu lunch date with Robin Ewald, her closest friend from high school, class flirt and oracle on all relationship problems. Virginia had been there for both of Robin's divorces, after all; perhaps the time had come to return the favor. They met at a quiet Italian restaurant south of town, close to Massa­chu­setts, where neither Ace nor anyone he knew (but, dammit, he knew everybody!) would be likely to overhear.
"Don't do it, Ginny," Robin told her, topping up her glass with strong, dark chianti.
Ginny, surprised, stared at her steaming plate of angel hair pasta, savored the aroma of the garlic sauce and sipped cold white wine.
"What are you talking about?" she asked. "Out of everyone I know, I thought you'd understand."
"I do understand," Robin said, her brown eyes tight and concerned. "It's an emotional and financial train wreck. Get him into couples counseling. It's what I did with Bob. That's why we're still together."
"About fifteen years' worth of equity in your home, yes?"
Ginny nodded.
"A fair amount tucked away for retirement?"
"As long as Ace doesn't get his hands on it."
"How's the sex life?"
"Pretty middle-aged."
Now it was Robin's turn to hesitate, and Ginny jumped in.
"You were about to say?"
Robin sliced a meatball with her fork.
"I'm not sure I should mention this in your frame of mind."
"Too late now, snookums."
Robin smiled.
"There's a good chance that this is your midlife crisis, you know. Have you thought of that?"
"So you think this might be a fling that doesn't go anywhere?"
"Let's face it, Ace may be dull, but he's reliable. He's never cheated on you, and the two of you have raised as level-headed a daughter as any parents I've met. The things that are driving you crazy now are the things you liked about him in the first place: steady, calm, there when you need him, predictable as the sunrise. In short, security. Dump him or hurt him too much, that all goes away."
Ginny nodded.
"But I'm bored out of my mind, Robin."
"Are you capable of not taking a fling too far?"
"You know, just have the affair for a little while, keep Ace from finding out, and then drop the guy like a hot rock once you've satisfied yourself."
Ginny laughed.
"Is that the real reason you and Bob stay together?"
"Let's just say that sometimes I've explored my options."
What!? thought Ginny, flashing Robin a surprised smile. You hypocritical bitch!
"But, seriously," Robin continued, "you do have to be careful. I think if you use this guy like a vibrator for a while and let it go when the time comes, fine. Every woman likes to be the apple of a man's eye now and then. But if you fall in love with him, you're headed for disaster."
Ginny dropped her gaze to her plate, and the two ate in silence for a while.
Finally, Ginny raised her glass.
"To adventure," she said.

What exciting story are you working on next?
This never stops. I’m writing a new Sherlock Holmes pastiche for MX, this time in the traditional mold. Ace’s next adventure follows him as he investigates a possible terrorist explosion that takes out half a city block. And there’s the Lincoln assassination story I’m researching, as well as the third Herron book. The real problem for me is picking which ideas to develop fully.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Corliss, told me I was a writer. It seems as if I’ve been spinning stories since I learned to read. There are several novels in the trunk which will never see the light of day. I didn’t become good until a few years ago.

Do you write full-time?
I’m a full-time freelance writer. I keep pretty busy with that.

If so, what's your work day like?
It depends on what assignments I have at any given time. If it’s slow, I write fiction, or work social media in order to keep people interested in the books.

If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I always find time to write.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’d have to say repetition. I constantly have to weed certain words out of my copy because of overuse. It usually takes about three drafts before I’m satisfied.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
First Batman, then James Bond once I discovered girls.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I host a show on public access cable, titled “Book Talk.” On it, I have librarians, fellow authors, bookstore owners, and readers. The idea is to promote interest in reading and writing. Anyone interested and able to come to Springfield, Vermont to tape a show is welcome to contact me and arrange it.

Here’s a link to the most recent episode:

Other links:

Thanks, Stephen!

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