I’ve got questions and answers. Who’s asking the questions? Me. Who’s answering the questions? Also, Me.
Hello and welcome! I thought I would kick the blog off by answering questions so you can better get to know me as a person and as a writer. I will pose the questions myself, though if you have a question you would like answered feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions come from a variety of sources. Some have been asked of me in a rather blunt manner by former family members, some every writer is asked at some point in their career, and others I have simply made up.
Let’s get started.
Who are you and what do you do?
Right, introductions first. My name is Stephen Roth and I’m a writer. A middle grade writer to be more precise. Most of my writing falls into the dark, macabre world of horror, though I do stray from time to time in order to test my abilities and showoff my skills a bit (a side note: if you want an example of exactly this, look for my upcoming short story collection where one story focuses on a taboo subject).
I was born, raised, and live in Wichita, Kansas. Most of my stories tend to take place in the Land of Oz for this reason. It’s what I know best. My wife, Belinda, is an ESOL teacher at an elementary school. She has been the breadwinner and my main supporter while I travel this long road as a writer. I have been on the receiving end of her selfless nature and positive attitude enough times to be embarrassed. We have three daughters, all filled to the eyebrows with sass. They make life interesting. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Why do you write?
Ah, this question is simple, isn’t it? The answer is simple as well, yet with a complexness at the same time. Allow me to explain. I write because I must. That’s the simple part. Now, explaining why I must write is were things get a little complex.
I fell in love with books as a kid reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. Those books are the reason I write in the middle grade horror genre today. At some point I started writing my own stories. Those first stories were a boy imitating his hero. As I grew, I developed my own style and voice, which is very different from my childhood hero. The journey to get there holds the answer to this self-posed question.
Since I started writing many years ago, it has always been a compulsion which I couldn’t resist. The more I do it, the more I need it. It’s like an itch I need to scratch. If I don’t scratch that itch, which resides in the depths of my brain, I go crazy. Sure, I can take time off. After finishing a novel, I take a week off to breath from the relentless pace. By the end of the week my brain is calling me back to the computer. Create or die, it says in dramatic fashion. So, I create.
I write because I must.
Yeah, but why horror?
I’ve been lucky enough not to have been asked this question in real life, for which I am grateful. I pose it here because I know other writers haven’t been so lucky.
Like I said earlier, I fell in love with books while reading R.L. Stine. Later, I progressed to Stephen King. I’ve always enjoyed a good scare whether it’s through fiction or cinema. Those two writers, and many others along the way, had a way of evoking emotion within me. That’s what good fiction should do. Evoke emotion in the reader, plain and simple. If your reader doesn’t feel for your characters and your story, then why bother? Scaring people just happens to be my favorite way of evoking emotions.
You’re still doing that?
Unlike the previous question, I was asked this question personally. Some context is needed to understand the question and the answer. Several years ago, I decided to leave my job in order to focus on writing. I would watch a friend’s foster children during the day and write during naps and evenings. For the first time in my life I would be able to give writing the time it deserved.
My last week on the job before I left to focus on writing, I ran into my former brother in-law. Upon learning that I was leaving my job to focus on what he thought of as a hobby, he posed this question to me. Knowing he wouldn’t understand if I took the time to explain my reasoning, I simply smiled and nodded. Years later, I finally have a response. He may not understand it, but at least I have a response. This is that response.
Have you ever wanted something so bad in your heart and in your soul that you couldn’t stomach the thought of it not happening? Being a fulltime writer is that way for me. It’s been a dream for as long as I can remember. Who am I if not a writer? It’s engrained in my soul, just like being a husband and a father. It’s part of who I am. It’s the reason after fifteen years of hearing no from the publishing world I decided to take matters into my own hands.
So, yeah, I’m still doing that. Whether I’m read or not, represented by an agent or not, have a book deal or not, critically acclaimed or widely panned, it matters not. For as long as there is a breath in my body words will flow from my fingers.
Where do you get your ideas?
This is every writer’s favorite question. It’s the question we are asked more often than any other. The truth? We don’t really know. Some ideas are inspired by books that we have read. Another might be inspired by an interaction with a fellow member of humanity. While others simply appear in our heads out of nowhere. In my experience the latter seem to make for the best stories. This is just a writer trying to explain the unexplainable. I could be wrong. It wouldn’t the first time.
What’s to come?
As far as this website goes, I plan on doing a blog from time to time. I’m afraid I can’t give any specifics on the timing of those, though I hope it’s weekly. Stay tuned to find out.
As far as my writing goes, there are several things forthcoming. I just finished writing several short stories for a collection, which I mentioned earlier. As of this writing it’s untitled. Next up is a final review of my finished novel, Breaking Character, before self-publishing. It may not have netted an agent, but I’m proud of it. Once Breaking Character has hit the publishing world, I will turn my attention to reading, editing and rewriting another novel, tentatively titled the Stranger. Eventually, I will start writing the second book in the Breaking Character Series.
Always follow your dreams, no matter how much they terrify you. Thanks for reading.
Stephen Michael Roth