Steven Harper on Drunk Writing in the Basement and his new novel The Importance of Being Kevin

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The Importance of Being Kevin by Steven Harper
Dreamspinner Press

Published July 2nd 2019
Cover Art: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press |  AmazonIndie BoundGoogle Books 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Steven Harper here today on tour for his new release, The Importance of Being Kevin.  Welcome, Steven.

 

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DRUNK WRITING IN THE BASEMENT

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I totally wrote a chunk of a fantasy novel while I was high in my basement.  Truth!

See, I’m a rotten sleeper.  Have been for most of my life.  Nothing beats a long day like staring up at the ceiling all night. Finally I complained about it to my doctor, and she prescribed Ambien.  Miracle!  Suddenly I was able to sleep!

Ambien does have its problems, as you’ve probably heard.  It can monkey with your memory or spur you to wander about your house, opening odd cupboards and stumbling down stairs.  It never did any of these things to me.  Until…

One evening I was hard at work on DANNY, my YA bisexual fantasy novel, and I noticed it was getting on to bedtime.  I didn’t want to quit writing quite yet, but I did pause long enough to take a dose of Ambien.  It usually takes about half an hour for it to kick in, so I could get in another chunk of writing.  I got back to my computer to hit the keys.

And then I woke up in bed the next morning.  It wasn’t until after breakfast that it came to me–I didn’t remember how I’d ended the day yesterday.  Mystified, I went into my office.  The computer was powered down.  I booted it up and called up the most recent files.

I discovered an entire scene I didn’t remember writing.  It was an action scene, a fight between a monster and the main characters.  And it used the style and voice I had chosen for the novel.  The writing was solid, and it advanced the plot the way I needed it to.

Reading it was the strangest feeling.  I never get to read my own work as a reader, and I’d always kind of wondered what it was like for people to read my stuff.  Now I was actually doing it.  This writing was mine, with characters and a setting I had created, but I had no idea what twists the scene would take or how it would end.  It was like finding a journal entry I didn’t remember making, or stumbling across an album filled with photos of myself I had never seen.  It was me, but not a me I remembered.

I kept the scene, with only minor edits.  If you’ve a mind, you can read DANNY and look for it.  Email me your best guess, and I’ll tell you if you found it!

I didn’t write THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING KEVIN while high on Ambien, though it did involve a my front porch, a water fountain, and a hella lot of caffeine.   That’s another story.

BLURB

Kevin Devereaux’s life can’t get worse. He’s on probation. He’s stuck with an unemployed ex-convict dad. And he lives in a run-down trailer on the crappy east side of town. To keep his probation officer happy, Kevin joins a theater program for teenagers and falls hard for Peter Finn, the lead actor in the show—and the son of the town’s leading family. Despite their differences, Peter returns Kevin’s feelings, and for the first time, Kevin learns what it means to be in love.

But Peter’s family won’t accept a gay son—let alone a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks—and in their conservative town, they must keep the romance secret. Still, they have the play, and they have each other, so they’ll get by—

Until a brutal attack shatters Kevin’s life and puts Peter in danger of going to jail for murder.

About the Author STEVEN HARPER PIZIKS

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a last name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the name Steven Harper. He grew up on a farm in Michigan but has also lived in Wisconsin and Germany, and spent extensive time in Ukraine. So far, he’s written more than two dozen novels and over fifty short stories and essays. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, lifts weights, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him. He teaches high school English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband and youngest son. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s funny.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Visit Steven’s web page at http://www.stevenpiziks.com or http://www.stevenharperwriter.com . You can also find him on Facebook as Steven Harper Piziks and on Twitter as Steven Piziks.

A MelanieM Review: Wallaçonia by David Pratt

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

High school senior Jim Wallace faces the approaching Christmas holidays with a mixture of hope and dread. To escape the pressure, he imagines the woods and marshes around his home to be an independent country, Wallaçonia, where he is accepted and recognized as the “upright and sterling” young man people expect him to be. And he may make it yet: this could be the week he and his girlfriend Liz finally have sex, putting to rest any lingering doubts Jim has about what kind of guy he really is. But then Pat Baxter, a neighbor, asks him to help out in his bookstore during the holiday rush, and Jim starts making new connections – and rediscovering an old one. Will Jim leave the sanctuary of his imaginary Wallaçonia for the real world? And which real world will it be, the one with Liz or the one that beckons from the bookstore?

Wallaçonia by David Pratt is a beautifully written story of one man’s journey to self awareness about his sexuality and adulthood.  As you can imagine,  it’s not an easy journey.  Its fraught with the perils of expectations, the hurdles of high school cliques, hormones and feelings of inadequacies and so much more.

Sometimes I’m amazed anyone makes it out of the high school environment intact, even more a LGBTQIA youth questioning their sexuality.  The stresses and pressures from everyone, from parents to peer groups to society is intense.  It’s through David Pratt’s  character of Jim Wallace that we watch Jim and others around him try to navigate through rough waters to get safely onto the path that will lead out of town to college. Not all will make it.

Jim’s path is strewn with rocks and holes, some of which he digs himself.  Why?  Sigh.  Because he’s young, confused, scared, questioning…check all those boxes and create some more.  Nor are his actions ones that you will like, understand perhaps, but not like.  Fear and confusion can make you do some downright mean things, which Jim himself will later acknowledge.  Every character here, from Jim to Liz, to Pat and  more are layered, real people.  They are recognizable.  And that makes all their actions, relationships and interactions feel not only authentic but able to let us so deeply into their lives that we can hurt for them in their stumbling youth, wishing we could in some ways help make their paths easier even knowing, that’s not possible.

The narrative flows smoothly, I was swept so easily into Jim’s story, caught up in his life and that of those around him, not coming out until the book was done.  It made me think of all the young people it represents, past, present and probably future.  In some things, high school never changes.

Wallaçonia by David Pratt is a complex and gorgeous coming out and coming of age story.  It will stay with you long after you’ve put the book or Kindle down.  It’s one I highly recommend.

Cover art is touching and matches the character and story.

Sales Links:

Beautiful Dreamer Press

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 227 pages
Published March 25th 2017 by Beautiful Dreamer Press
ASINB01N7JFT93