Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Interview, Part 1

Following is the beginning of my interview at a cool website for newbie and professional writers, The Writer's Block, at Raychelle-Writes.blogspot.com.  Specifically, you can find my interview here.  But it's an interesting site, so look around!

Welcome to The Writer’s Block! 

1)      Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

Thanks for having me here at The Writer’s Block, Raychelle.  I have a job I love that pays The Man, and I'm a novelist, short story writer—and so-so poet.  I live in the Northeast, in a quiet area of a loud suburb.  It’s sort of rural where I am, but I’m half a mile from suburban and seven miles from urban.  Also just half an hour to the good beaches, forty minutes to an hour to good walking/biking/hiking trails, an hour and a half from Fenway Park, two hours to the peaks and streams, and five hours from Manhattan—all of which I love and go to as often as possible.

2)      Describe your journey to becoming a writer/author.

Oh, boy.  How much time have ya got?  Well, the short of it is that, when I was about six or so, I wrote a short story in a birthday card for my mother, whose name was Carole.  The story was called something like, “A Christmas Carole, by Charles Dickens, but re-written by Steve Belanger.”  (The misspelling of her name was intentional.  I still have the card somewhere, since she’s passed.)  It made her smile, and I was hooked.  Throw in some slacking, finishing a novel, getting ripped off by an “agent” who scammed me for about a year (she’s still under indictment in NY State after many other victims came forward), and not writing a single creative word for nine years, and then being rescued (creatively and perhaps literally) by a great woman who convinced me to write again.  “Hide the Weird” was the first thing I finished and sent out, and it’s in Space and Time Magazine right now.  I feel I have those nine years to make up for, so I’m full speed ahead with many projects.

3)      Do you gravitate toward specific genres in your writing?

Well, I don’t know.  “Hide the Weird” is speculative fiction, I guess, though I’m not happy with that label.  I just sold a very short nonfiction piece about how adopting a greyhound changed my life.  I also finished a much longer nonfiction piece about managing anxiety in ten easy steps, with examples, anecdotes and short summaries.  I’ll be sending that out soon.  I’ve written (and am now re-writing) a zombie story that has quite a bit of the feel of Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night.”  And a tiny bit of the Sox collapsing last year.  Cuz they just rolled over and died, get it?  (Sorry.)  My edited and re-edited, finished and re-finished (knock on wood) novel is a mystery titled Cursing the Darkness.  A draft of a sequel (or maybe a prequel, we’ll see) titled Remembering James is about half done.  My novel The Gravediggers is a historical fiction horror novel, which I guess is what Dan Simmons’ The Terror was.  It’s about the TB epidemic in 1880s and 1890s New England (specifically RI and NH) and how a creature really could have hidden in the shadows of the hysteria and walked in the footsteps of the disease—suspected, but never seen.  Or was it?  The Mercy Brown folklore of Rhode Island plays a part, as does the unbelievable sacrifice of the village of Eyam, England during the Plague (look both of those up).  Modern-day, hysteria-inducing diseases, like 1980s AIDS, does, too, at least in the draft so far.  I’m writing a memoir as well, and even my poems are of differing subjects and themes.  Oh, yeah, and a book of my existentialist philosophy, titled Faith & Reality: Jumping Realities.  And I’m about 100 pages into a semi-autobiographical novel, The Observer.  And a collection of essays and articles about my experience in education, titled When No Child Gets Ahead, No Child Gets Left Behind: Adventures and Lessons in Education.  And a concentration camp novel, about a camp the Nazis used as a sort of positive advertising to the world’s cameras (the prisoners were shown performing whatever talent they had, like singing; they ate only for the cameras, and were told to smile or be shot after the cameras were shut off).  A small group of courageous adults try to save the life of a young boy who has no obvious talent whatsoever, at first by hiding him in a chorus.  And a novel about a different sort of Armageddon, titled Apocalypse.  So, no, actually I’d have to say I’m all over the place!  I guess there are two different theories for not-yet-firmly established writers: write what’s selling (Do we really need another teenage paranormal romance?) or write what you want and work your butt off trying to sell it.  I do the latter.

(Me again.)  There are 10 total questions, so there'll be more to come.  Thanks for reading.  Try out her site!


  1. Steven, I'd like to read that non-fiction piece about How to Manage Anxiety In 10 Easy Steps. I think it would be very beneficial for someone like me who suffers from anxiety on any given day. I have no doubt it's well written and well researched (primarily from your own experiences in dealing with it).

    With all those short stories and novels you're writing something is bound to get picked up! Good luck :)

    ps--don't knock all teenage paranormal romances. Some of them are quite entertaining and make me realize I could easily come up with my own paranormal story. In fact I recently read one about a zombie falling in love with a human girl (yes you read that correctly) and I was annoyed because I had that idea years ago!

  2. Whenever I see a pretty woman walk by, I think, "Well, there goes my next ex-girlfriend who'll leave me for a zombie." :-)

  3. What an interesting writing journey! Too bad about that agent. I'm glad you started writing again.

    1. Me, too, Alexia. I'll be kicking myself the rest of my life for allowing that woman--and other things--to allow me to stop writing for so long. I want those 9-10 years back and I'll never get 'em.

  4. The best thing about dormancy is the inspiration that wakes you from it. If I see Ms. Evil Agent at jury duty, I'll stink-palm her for you!

    1. Thanks, Namzola. True about the dormancy, though I would've preferred to be dormant for one year rather than nine or so...And she needs more than a stink-palm!