Author Interviews

Steven K Craig

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

After nine books, I still haven’t decided if I want to be a writer. Becoming a published author was never something I considered. However, I was raised in a family that was either in the publishing or printing industry. I gained experience in both growing up. In my early twenties, I owned and operated a music publication called Platinum Bound, but had a falling out with the publisher when they wanted to assume control. Many years later, I became well known as an artist and then wrote instructional articles for art magazines. Writing is just something I enjoy doing.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The first book is always the hardest. You are continually re-writing, adding, subtracting, editing and writing more. It never seems done or perfect. There comes a time when you just have to say, “That’s enough.” I learned a valuable lesson with my first book that was the size of War and Peace – if you can remove something and it doesn’t alter the story, remove it. Just by doing that my first book went from 180,000 words down to 130,000. I do tend to be long-winded in some of my writing when I’m trying to drive home a certain subject. My first book “Loving a Narcissist – Foreclosure of a Dream” took two years to complete. My second book “The Truth About Love” which was finalized at 110,000 words only took four months… but then I was hopped up on Monster Java “Mocha and Vanilla” Energy Drinks the entire time. I swear… during that book I felt as if I was suffering from vampire syndrome watching the sun come up every morning. I laugh when I skim through that book now because I can see in my writing where I had the jitters from caffeine overload.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Schedule… what’s that? Only career authors work on a schedule like a 9 to 5 job. I think I can say this for many of us that when we get into writing we cannot stop. We write chapters in our sleep. Post it notes and pads of paper filled with barely legible scribbling clutter every available space. I try to limit the hours I write a day, but that doesn’t always happen. I get lost in what I’m doing while writing and time slips away. You really have to be dedicated to what you are doing if you want to write books. I’ve upset family and friends when I go into writing mode because I can’t focus on anything else at the time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That I’ve been the stereotypical writer. There have been times where I haven’t shaved my face for weeks while writing and ended up with an itchy beard until I couldn’t take it any longer. Also, an ashtray full of cigarette butts next my computer and a glass full of Pepsi (instead of whiskey).

How do your books get published?

With my first book, I tried the traditional publishing route. I took almost six months to meet all the requirements that are demanded by the publishing industry. Such as creating an award winning query letter, hooklines, and the dreaded book proposal. Seriously… they need a college course just on how to write the proposal which is a book in itself. I spent months sending out submissions to agents. All I can say about agents is they are a joke. They only accept what appeals to them personally and are out of touch with what the readers want. Fifty Shades of Grey is a prime example. Agents are still complaining about the success of that series after they turned it down. I had one agent tell me flat out that the industry is changing, agents are on their way out and basically only signing authors that they feel can quickly line their pockets with cash before their time is up. The more I learned about the internal operations of the traditional publishing industry, it made no sense to pursue that route. The large publishing firms do very little for the author and they take control of the book. Also, the author is required to have an established platform to sell books. So, if I have to do all the work, why on earth would I want to give them the majority of the royalties? For what, to have them put my book in a few of the remaining retail bookstores? Deal with buy backs? Lose royalties from overstock? No thanks! If I have to do all the work and marketing myself then I’ll keep my royalties and rights. Print on Demand is the only way to go. All you need is a good micro-publisher such as Empire Publishing and Literary Service Bureau to produce a top notch product for you. Don’t let the word “micro” throw you off. The only reason I used “micro-publishing” is to differentiate from the old large publishing houses. In all actuality, a “micro” publisher will do more for an author than the old world publishers.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I prefer to read and write non-fiction. I feel real life is far more interesting, humorous and dramatic than fantasy. Everything I’ve written has to do with real life experiences. A few books that I’ve written such as “The Truth About Love” took an enormous amount of research and interviewing many people to obtain what I needed to complete the book.

When did you write your first book?

I began my first book in 2010 and completed it in 2012. It was never intended to be a published as a book. It was more like a journal that I was writing as a catharsis for myself. I was in the midst of going through a relationship with a narcissist. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, so I wrote about it as it was taking place seeking answers. I didn’t know I was documenting the emotional and mental onslaught of being victimized by a narcissist. Since its release, I’ve had victims from around the world contact me to thank me for telling their story and helping them through their own suffering. I admit, it’s a tough book to get through unless you’ve experienced a romantic relationship with a narcissist and since the book lacked proper editing. I have since learned that the editor I hired was not that good and I had to learn to deal with some brutal reviews on Amazon. However, the private emails I receive from victims outweigh anything an Amazon reviewer can dish out.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Anything and everything, I enjoy seeing new sights and experiencing new things. I’m a history junkie and a foodie… those alone keep me busy. I like to go boating, jet skiing, riding my Harley in the mountains or going to see a great rock band. Recently, I had to go to the Rivera Casino in Las Vegas to see it and take pictures days before it was closed permanently and will soon be demolished. Pretty much… I’m game for about anything.

What does your family think of your writing?

With the exception of my book “My Wave – A Surfer Tale”, they don’t want to read any of my books. Some are too painful for them to read from what I’ve been through and some are just too raunchy for them and those I’d prefer they didn’t read.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I was surprised at how satisfying it is. There is not much that is more gratifying than holding your story in your hands. It is definitely a life accomplishment.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve written eight books and co-authored a ninth. It’s difficult to say which one is my favorite because they all have special meaning to me. Fun read wise, I think “My Wave – A Surfer Tale” would be at the top of my list. It’s a short book with a lesson to be learned about life that young adults would enjoy.

Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Other than what you will read everywhere online… just write what you feel in your heart. Don’t be concerned about what others think. Don’t be concerned about perfection. You’ll find errors in books by longtime bestselling authors, so don’t fret. Besides, just read news articles on the internet – most of them are littered with errors. This is the texting generation and most of them cannot spell correctly as it is. If you are writing non-fiction as in a memoir or narrative, write as you speak rather than trying to feel your emotions through a grammatically correct, polished, Shakespearian work designed solely to obtain the approval of critics. Readers will connect with you better if it has a personal one-on-one feel as if you are writing to a close friend.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Yes, I do, mostly from my book “Ghost of a Rose – Loving a Narcissist”. It makes the tough endeavor and horrendous experience worthwhile when I get letters saying how much the book helped them through their traumatic ordeal. Then there are those that write me who are in the midst of such a toxic relationship and it breaks my heart.

Do you like to create books for adults?

I did one based on a personal relationship. It began when I read Fifty Shades of Grey and felt it was anti-climatic. So, I decided to write a hardcore romance based on real life (Stranger than Paradise). A word of caution if you attempt doing one using real characters with this kind of storyline… there will be reproductions down the line. As in problems with future relationships, and you’ll become Satan himself to those written about. But that style of writing sure is naughty fun.

What do you think makes a good story?

Real characters with real emotions are what I prefer. I like stories with twists, high and low points. I want to feel what the writer is feeling and experiencing. The new rule is that it doesn’t always need a happy ending to make a lasting impression.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I planned on being an Architect. My uncle is one; I studied and took classes for many years in grade school. But then I went in an unforeseen direction and went into music management. My involvement from that time period landed me in the history books as a co-creator of the heavy metal band Slayer. Years later, by fluke, I became a world famous airbrush artist. Now, I’m waiting to see what next great adventure comes my way.

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