I’ve known Steven Shrewsbury from Facebook and his personal blog since May of 2010. To say that this author is prolific in his writing would be a complete understatement, as he has written and published over 360 short stories, 100 poems, and with the release of his newest work, PHILISTINE, 10 full-length novels. This author has done it all and is well known for his horror, historical, and ‘Sword & Sorcery’, works of fiction. Hailing from the central plains of Illinois, this self-proclaimed ‘country-boy’ still lives in the same house his grandfather built and cuts an imposing physical presents, standing at 6 feet 5 inches and weighing in at 250 pounds. He is known to many on the ‘Con’ circuit for his story-telling abilities as well as for his ‘WODAN RANT’, which is an entity all in itself. Being a civil war buff and avid researcher, this man knows of what he writes… and he does it with a flair that is hard to match.I was pleased to have an opportunity to interview ‘Shrews’, as most folks call him, and this interview is here for your enjoyment. Hold on to your hats, folks… it’s going to be a wild ride…
DJW. First things first… please give us a short synopsis of your latest work, PHILISTINE, and tell us how you came up with the story premise. In your opinion, how does it rank with the rest of your work?SLS. PHILISTINE is a story of Goliath, the biblical giant, but not the one seen in any scripture. His death is not recorded here. The phrase, “He is a man of war since his youth” always struck me about Goliath and it is an epic fantasy living off that culture of the time. There are plenty of evil wizards, warring armies, monsters, buxom maidens, and lusty heroes (and anti-heroes) to keep all hungry for more. Goliath is sent on missions by one striving to be King of Kings of the Philistia culture, but a dire force is working against him, causing a rebel army to arise and manipulate the gods themselves. I think it’s my most bloody, action packed, wild tale ever.
DJW. Can you tell us, what got you started on the writing journey and who has had the most influence on what and how you write?
SLS. I started telling tales in the sandbox as a kid, always re-telling classic stories and even the Bible until I heard one can go to hell for that. My brother, Mark’s, worn-out old works of Robert E. Howard inspired me, spoke to me, like no other as a child and teen. Harlan Ellison and Karl Edward Wagner taught me there are no limits. Howard, though, is the apex of all for me. He still speaks to me.DJW. We know most authors put in varying amounts of time on research. How much research went into the writing of PHILISTINE, and how much time did you spend on that research?
SLS. Let’s see, I’ve read about Goliath most of my life, but I put in earnest efforts to make the work accurate to the times, plus the culture. I discovered there isn’t as much known about the Philistines as one might think. I ordered several volumes, out of print and the local library helped me greatly. I read on it for years before I took that first step. While I use the Net for some things, one cannot beat real paper volumes for true knowledge.
DJW. We are aware that you have written quite a bit of poetry and several novels. Can you give the readers an idea about where to find some of these previous works?
SLS. Amazon is a good starting point, plus the Seventh Star home page for my most recent works, like PHILISTINE, BLOOD & STEEL, OVERKILL and THRALL. If one searches hard enough, one can locate HAWG still for sale, but I think STRONGER THAN DEATH, TORMENTOR, and many a collection are no longer available. My collaboration with Peter Welmerink, BEDLAM UNLEASHED about a crazed Viking, might be seeing a new life, but that is another matter.DJW. Many authors have a routine they follow, or quirky things they do while writing. Can you impart some insight into a typical writing day for you?
SLS. I’ve tried writing in the nude, but it annoys the people at the Laundromat and at airports. Today is a snow day from work, so I have coffee made and will be playing moody, death country music and speed metal, low while I craft a new novel. Granted, I don’t always have music playing or coffee. I oft write with kids yelling and the NICK channel blaring. If that doesn’t make one want to lop off a head, I don’t know what does. I don’t have a set time or routine. When I worked 2nd shift I did, but now, I snatch it when I can. When the dam breaks, look out. I do like to write here in the front room of my house, surrounded by Confederate paintings and Boba Fett drawings by my kids.
DJW. Please tell the readers, which author you most closely follow in your personal reading and also, what genre’ you favor over all others.
SLS. Lately, Joe Abercrombie is my fav. He’s the goods… love his work. Ron Kelly, Norm Partridge, Joe R. Lansdale… there’s a young lady in the pacific northwest, Jennifer Willis, who is incredible and should be noticed. I do love fantasy, but horror still is fine by me. Also works by Ray Banks, Tim Zahn and some Neil Gaiman.
DJW. If you could sit down with any other author, living or dead, who would it be and what questions would have for him/her?
SLS. Robert E. Howard, of course, and we’d finish that BRAN MAK MORN work he wanted to do. I’d love to talk with Karl Edward Wagner about writing and drinking. I have a handwritten note from Karl I got as a youth (he wrote it on the back of a reject slip. lol) and I cherish it. It’s in a magazine of mine over on the shelf right now. I’d also like to tell George Bernard Shaw to lighten up.
DJW. We have read that you typically always have a story to tell. If you could tell all the readers your best funny or weird story, what would it be?
SLS. I’ve shared this with a few folks, but it is funny. I meet a great many people at Cons, a young lady who had a book signed in Louisville, soon friended me on Facebook… and within a few months said, “You are such a big guy, I’d LOVE to see a pic of your JUNK!” To which I pondered, “Why would she want to see where I put the tin cans out by the garage?” Ahem. So, next publicity shots, I will take a few Shrews JUNK pics. Perhaps I will pull out the hand plow, all rusty, and say, “Here’s Shrews’ junk. It isn’t as pretty as it used to be, but still functions and is reliable.”
DJW. If you could talk to a group of novice writers, what would you tell them about the writing/publishing business that you have learned from experience and what would be the most important lesson you’ve learned that you would pass along?
SLS. RUN! No, really… I’d say always re-read and revise what you think is your best work. Always leave it sit and take it up later with fresh eyes. Read other authors of your chosen genre and others NOT in it. Read other ways to tell tales and never be afraid to learn you aren’t the beeswax you think. Also, don’t always listen to the advice of experienced writers. Some of them are paranoid jerks with small penis’s afraid of a new talent.
DJW. Readers want to know what is on the horizon for you in terms of your writing. What can we be expecting to see coming up from you next?
SLS. Rumor is my novel LAST MAN SCREAMING a Lovecraftian western, was just accepted for publication this year. Who wouldn’t want to check out a work where a one-armed Confederate takes on the spawn of Shub Niggarath while searching for NAMELESS CULTS in 1899 Juarez? More works about Gorias La Gaul are on the horizon too, plus a collaboration by Maurice Broaddus and myself, BLACK SON RISING.
DJW. Please tell us, is there anything you’d like the readers to know about you that we have not covered?
SLS. Read PHILISTINE. It is my greatest work ever. Be on the look-out for blogs, and me at a few Cons later in the year.
Thanks again to Steven for the opportunity to interview him and review his work. To purchase a copy of PHILISTINE, and many of Shrewsbury’s other works, you can go to www.amazon.com or to Seventh Star Press’ catalog page at http://www.seventhstarpress.com/catalog To find out more about Steven Shrewsbury, check out his blog at http://sshrewsbury.wordpress.com/category/blog You can also catch up with him on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/stevenlshrewsbury?fref=ts or on his author page over at Seventh Star Press at http://www.seventhstarpress.com/steven-shrewsbury
DJ Weaver, co-author of COLLECTING INNOCENTS and reviewer/interviewer for Suspense Magazine and WebbWeaver Reviews