Let’s give a warm welcome to JC Steel, the author in our spotlight this week.
- When and why did your start writing? To be honest, I’ve told myself stories in my head as long as I can remember; I just never got around to writing any of them down. I finally started actually writing around age fourteen; I was in boarding school, frankly probably on the verge of washing out due to sheer boredom, and one of my friends asked me why I never wrote any of my stories down so other people could read them. It solved my boredom problem. I scribbled my way through high school, and wrote five novels in five years (and, to everyone’s surprise, passed all my exams). The beauty of the hobby was that to a teacher, a student busily writing a space battle looks remarkably like a quiet, attentive, note-taking student.
- What genres do your writings fall under? What age group? I write sci-fi and urban fantasy. I’d say on the whole that the themes are adult; which is no bar to younger people reading the books, but the language and topics aren’t specifically slanted at the younger age brackets, and parts of all of the stories would definitely fall into the PG-13 category.
- What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing? I read a lot, I play with my cats a lot, and when I have the time and money, I enjoy martial arts and riding (usually not simultaneously). This year I’m hoping things will come together so I can take a week and ride across Iceland – I got to meet Icelandic horses in 2017, and they manage to combine looking ridiculously cute with the kind of instinct for mayhem usually found only in six-month-old cats.
- What genre is your favorite to read? I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. I scared myself silly with Lord of the Rings aged about seven and refused to go to the bathroom on my own for six months in case a Black Rider came hunting me, but my addiction was firm. I added sci-fi to my habit a couple of years later, when I climbed to the very top of my parents’ bookshelf and came across Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ series. I still have that edition of Dragonflight; it’s been through a lot of moves with me.
- If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t waste several years half-heartedly begging publishers and agents to consider at least opening my submission envelopes – I’d go straight to independent publishing and save myself a lot of hassle and postage costs. I love having complete control over, and responsibility for, what I publish and when I publish it. It means whatever goes out into the world is completely mine.
- Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Actually there are three on the boil right now, I have an extreme case of literary infidelity. I’m working on the fifth book in my sci-fi series, which hasn’t yet confessed to a final title; I’m in the final edit stage on my first urban fantasy novel, Death is for the Living, which is about a team of vampire hunters based on a yacht in the Tropics; and I’m on the first draft of another urban fantasy about a half-siren ‘acquisitions specialist’ tasked to acquire the Peaches of Immortality at their next ripening. I’m hoping at least Death is for the Living will make it out of the door in the next six months, and if I’m lucky, #5 in the Cortii series will publish towards the end of the year.
- Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?Well, my sci-fi series is set in an interstellar mercenary cult, which would make my past life both terminally interesting and probably admissible evidence J Death is for the Living, though, is heavily based on my childhood. I grew up on a yacht in the Caribbean, and a lot of the settings are drawn from that. The martial arts training comes in surprisingly useful for the fight scenes across both my genres, which means I can call my classes research when asked (it tends to worry people less than calling them stress release!).
- What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? I’ve actually been really fortunate with all my books so far; about the worst thing I’m told on a regular basis is that my writing is complex. I’m fine with that; it’s perfectly true. I’ve never had a lot of time for the concept of writing to a ‘grade-level’, and honestly I don’t feel that we, as authors, do society a favour by trying to write to a level of the language geared at 12-year-olds. On the whole, though, the feedback has been remarkably positive. It’s a great feeling if even a few people enjoy the read enough to take the time to go online and leave a rating or a review.
- Do you prefer comfortable clothes or dressing nicely? If I didn’t work in a business environment, I would be a jeans and hoodie wearer full-time – and bare-foot whenever I could get away with it. I deeply appreciate clothes that are comfortable, have capacious pockets, and will tolerate a slide on a muddy path followed by a hot wash.
- Have you travelled to places outside your home town/country? Where did you go? What did you see/experience? I moved around a lot growing up, and went through a lot of schools before I finally wound up in boarding school in the UK. I’ve spent at least a few months in most of the Caribbean islands, most of the countries of southern Europe, and a couple of weeks in Morocco, Venezuela and the USA. Iceland was my first visit to Scandinavia, and I’m currently living in Canada. I enjoy travelling, preferably away from the tourist routes if I can manage it, and I love learning new languages and trying new foods. I have a friend who holds that someone who learns a new language experiences a whole new life, and I’m broadly onboard with that opinion. I’m hoping to get to the Far East in the foreseeable future; I’ve practiced karate, aikido, and bujinkan for years and never even visited Japan. One of the oddest places I think I’ve ever been was when we sailed across a corner of the Sargasso Sea; it’s basically a huge, semi-stationary patch of floating seaweed in the Atlantic that’s several days’ sail across. The ocean goes from deep blue to a greenish-brownish-yellow and stays like that as far as you can see.
Connect with JC Steel
Author website: http://jcsteelauthor.com
Newsletter sign-up: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/odlUs
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/J-C-Steel/e/B00XARD7XC/