Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview with Steven John and Giveaway - March 27, 2012

Please welcome Steven John to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Three A.M. is published today. A Happy Book Publication Day to Steven. Read Steven's Guest Blog here and my 4 Qwill review of  Three A.M. here.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Steven:  In my writing, I suppose a quirk would be suddenly dropping things into the prose, often before I’m fully conscious of my intent to do so. There is something of a constant internal battle going on while I write, the line of battle shifting between the words that move the plot forward with the words that express a view or conviction I hold or make a point I find interesting – finding instances when I can sneak things in that elevate the work without being obvious is a great pleasure, but I often find myself shaking my head and deleting lines with a rueful smile.

Another way to answer that question would be that I often affect accents or speech patterns and even physical mannerisms of the character whose dialogue or thoughts I am writing. I’ll even stand up and walk around the room working through the words. Luckily I work alone, because it’s gotta look reeeeaaaal strange.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Steven:  Softball answer: Henry Miller – his lurid prose and searing honesty taught me what writing can be (if you are not a coward, that is. Working on it.)

Still pretty softball answer: Hemmingway. I mean… it’s Hemmingway. Sure it made me feel cool to hold up his books during my high school years, but every time I return I am still impressed.

Hardball… or… baseball answer? Not baseball. I don’t know, anyway, third person, also a softball answer, it’s easier this way: Vonnegut. You can read his books so quickly and they’re so strange but pleasurable. It’s like eating soup. Great soup, sure. But it’s still soup, still very easy to eat.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Steven:  Um… a pantser is.... What’s a pantser? And plotter like Guy Fawkes or like someone who plans out their book’s plot…?

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Keeping my ass in the chair, if I may use the word chair. I am constantly finding distractions throughout the first two thirds of every novel (or other project) I write. By the end I start to cruise and then it is often hard for me to get out of the writing chair, but man, mowing the grass or going to the grocery store sure is appealing while I’m still in those first tens of thousands of words.

TQ:   Describe Three A.M. in 140 characters or less.

Steven:  A lonely man, a lonely place: a city enshrouded by mist. And mystery. He gets pulled into it all, the why and what. And it pulls him down.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Three A.M.?

Steven:  I wish I knew/remembered. I had a vision of the setting and an idea for a character. It was supposed to be a short story. Then I thought of a longer story and pretty soon it was clear it would need to be a book.

TQ: What sort of research did you do for Three A.M.?

Steven:  Cursory, at best. One of the greatest delights of writing about a world different than our everyday home is that you can fill it with things beyond the normal reference points people use; you don’t have to cleave to reality. That said, there are elements of the book that did require some study. I know a bit more about hydroelectric dams now, for example.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Steven:  Tom Heller, one of the most prominent secondary characters. He was easy to write because he was based directly off of a real person (or two). The hardest character to write was probably John Watley, because I had to struggle to keep him from seeming like an archetype. It would have been much easier to just throw in a cackling laugh and place a Persian cat on his lap, but that would have been awful, awful writing.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Three A.M.?

Steven:  It is a any number of scenes in which the protagonist reveals what his world is like – those times when he stumbles (and rambles) through the misty streets, when through his often hazy mind and garbled convictions we see how he and everyone around him is living.

TQ:  What's next?

Steven:  My second novel is finished and in the hands of the Powers that Be. I am working on the third and it is going well: I love the characters and am intrigued to see how twisted and wound about the story will end up, but I am still definitely in that “Keep your ass in the seat, Steve!” phase. And lots of other wacky projects I always have simmering on the back burners.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Steven:  That’s not a question, but you’re quite welcome and thank you.

About Three A.M.

Three A.M.
Tor Books, March 27, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Fifteen years of sunless gray.

Fifteen years of mist. So thick the streets fade off into nothing. So thick the past is hazy at best. The line between right and wrong has long been blurred, especially for Thomas Vale.

Long gone are the days when new beginnings seemed possible—when he was a new recruit, off to a new start fresh in the army. He had hoped to never look back. Not like there was much to see, anyway.

First came the sickness, followed by the orders: herd the healthy into the city, shoot the infected. The gates closed and the bridges came down… followed by the mist.

Fifteen miserable years of the darkest nights and angry, awful gray days.

Thomas Vale can hardly fathom why he keeps waking up in the morning. For a few more days spent stumbling along? Another night drinking alone? Another hour keeping the shadows at bay….

But when Rebecca Ayers walks into his life, the answers come fast. Too fast.

About Steven

Steven John and his wife, an elementary school teacher, live in Los Angeles by way of Washington D.C. and New York, respectively. He splits his time between many things, most of which involve words. Three A.M. is his first novel.

Steven's Links

Three A.M. on Facebook

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a hardcover copy of Three A.M.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What are some of your favorite dystopian or noir novels? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday,  April 3, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. I like Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Running Man by Stephen King

    tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

  2. The Handmaid's Tale is fabulous!! I also love the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. Naturally, The Hunger Games as well :D

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC: Vivien
    +1 tweeted:

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  3. Thanks for a fantastic post and giveaway! This book looks awesome ;)

    I'd have to say that I really liked I am Legend or more recent, The Hunger Games and Divergent.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc: erin

  4. Very nice post. I like Article 5.

    I follow the blog.

    Thank for the giveaway.


  5. I am a follower and email subscriber. I love I am Legend. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  6. Under the Never Sky, Eve and Cinder are some of my favorite dystopians:)

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower: Julie Witt
    +1 tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/jwitt33/status/184772932030054402

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  7. Stephen writes some pretty dark books. Congrats on your first book.

    debby236 at gmail dot com

  8. 1+ I have only read The Hunger Games!
    1+ GFC follower: Gisele Alvarado
    1+ tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/Gisselle_Alv/status/184844111742898179


  9. I like Mike Mullin's ASHFALL. It was a great read & I can't wait for the second book in the series.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  10. I'm a big fan of Manna Franci's Administration series.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  11. I am a classicist and an older reader. The genre is not new, despite the belief of some that The Hunger Games is innovative. I still prefer 1984 (which now can be viewed as an historical approach-- how fast the future now becomes the past), Lord of the Flies (perhaps a seminal work and it can give you a new view of your children), and Fahrenheit 451 (probably the ultimate in literary irony). These have proven to be classics and will endure regardless of any future dystopia(s). Fortunately since we are presumably dealing with fiction, there can be many.


  12. brave new world opened my eyes and is still one of my favourite!


    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  13. Very nice post. I really liked Article 5.

    I follow the blog.

    Thank for the giveaway.

  14. Some of my faves are Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and A Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC: Molly Frenzel
    +1 RT: https://twitter.com/#!/dg_molly/status/186835140230651905

  15. Feed by Mira Grant, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood to name my very favorites.

    cynicalsapphire at gmail dot com

    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/Reader_Fictions/status/187336275290886144

  16. This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs
    The Return Man by VM Zito
    The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
    City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore
    Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski

    +1 Follow
    +1 Retweeted on Twitter