I first met Steve Shear several months ago. He introduced himself and requested a book review of his book, The Fountain of Youth. After reading it (and MR N reading The Trials of Adrian Wheeler), I knew Shear was a gifted storyteller. He’s not afraid to tell the truth and to speak about relevant topics. When I asked him for an interview, he graciously agreed. Sit down, grab your favorite beverage and enjoy! Take it away, Steve:
What is your writing process?
I write every day from about 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon with regular breaks. I don’t make outlines and in the first draft I am never sure what’s going to happen and might materialize on front of my eyes. Apart from the time I spend at the computer, I spend often hours a day solving problems relating to the story I’m working on.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
Good writers with good stories and with something to say like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Bernard Malamud, Noah Gordon, and Ken Follett.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
I try to fit a name to a character if possible. For example in The Trials of Adrian Wheeler, I started with Wheeler because it is a strong macho name. Sergeant Major John Wheeler (Adrian’s father) is a retired Vietnam vet and a first class bully/bigot. I chose Adrian because it serves as both a masculine and feminine name and suits Adrian’s artsy and sensitive personality as contrasted with his father’s and his brother’s name, John-Mike Wheeler, who is just like his father. Otherwise, often I use the last name of someone I’ve grown up with.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I assume you are talking about in my writing endeavors. Otherwise I might say my kids since they are great parents and have excellent careers. As for my “best” writing accomplishment, that’s hard to say. I am guessing it is the yet to be published Ira Neebest Trilogy that has taken over ten years to write, dozens and dozens of drafts, and a three generation story that morphed its way into its present state without my help I sometimes think. The three books are: The First Coming, An Eye for an Eye, and Black Hearts and Hungry Bears.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Be careful with that question. I will be 75 this February.
Have you always liked to write?
I wouldn’t say I did much if any writing in high school, college, or law school. It wasn’t until I began my career as a Patent Lawyer that I started writing.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Love it or leave it! Writing is and must be an emotional drive that you are willing to take just about every day. For beginners who are interested in writing fiction, I would urge them to start out by writing and reading poetry, not the contemporary stuff that makes me crazy but the good stuff written by the English and American poets who’ve are long gone. Poetry forces you to deal with each and every word and to focus on imagery.
If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?
First of all, if I were writing books for a living I no doubt couldn’t afford the small and reasonable fees charged by book reviewers and the like. As it is I write books strictly for the fun of it. I also paint and sculpt for the fun of it.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I read my reviews and so far I’ve not received any bad ones, I think in part because I have enough honest readers of my material long before I’m at the review stage. And I take serious what these people say. Besides I have a pretty good idea when my stuff stinks.
What is your best marketing tip?
First, don’t count on your publisher to do much for you, although that isn’t true for my present publisher, The Wild Rose Press. The marketing team there is quite active. Also, put yourself out there, as much as it hurts, especially on social media.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Do you have a favorite spot to write? What is it?
Yes, my study. I think it’s important to have a single comfortable place with a good chair and ergonomic keyboard.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
I have written a total of six novels (two published), five stage plays (two published), five screenplays (one under option), and over a hundred poems (a few published).
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
Presently I am putting the final touches on my Ira Neebest Trilogy.
What is the biggest fib you’ve ever told?
I don’t fib … and that is my biggest fib ever, which no doubt in itself is even a bigger fib.
Do you write naked?
Have you ever been in trouble with the law?
Have you ever gotten into a fight?
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
I don’t drink (I did in college), I stopped smoking forty years ago.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
I don’t want a tombstone.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
The power to beam myself up and down so I can avoid airplanes and California drivers.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
I have no bucket list. I hate the term. And I’m doing exactly what I want to do; write, paint, exercise, and most important be close with my grandchildren.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
I flunked out of law school because I never went to class and didn’t know where the exams were being given.
Title The Trials of Adrian Wheeler
Author Steve Shear
Genre Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher L&L Dreamspell (originally) Catalina Sun Press (now)
A young soldier faces a court-martial trial while dealing with PTSD, sexual inadequacy, and an unrelenting father.
Adrian Wheeler returns from Baghdad with a mangled knee and no left arm, ever mindful of a tormented past and even bleaker future. His brother, John Mike, didn’t return at all. One chilly morning in February both participated in a reconnaissance mission that tragically failed; a mission during which innocent women and children died along with John Mike and other combatants. As the sole survivor Adrian carries the details of that trauma deep within his subconscious and drinks excessively in hopes of hiding from the visitors that torment his dreams.
In his compromised mental and physical condition Adrian does everything he can to avoid seeing Rachael, his girl since the first grade. But he can’t escape his domineering father, a retired Vietnam veteran who bullied him into joining the Marines in the first place.
When he begins turning things around and taking control of his life, he’s charged with murdering the innocent women and children. Private Wheeler finds himself the center of the most important court-martial trial of the Iraqi war; his only hope is to move beyond his trauma and the terrible secret that lies deep within the cellar of his psyche.
Adrian arrived home from the war a broken young man. No one was there to put back the pieces. Ma would have, for sure, but she died on his twelfth birthday. Had she been there to see his new knee and armless shoulder hidden within an empty knotted sleeve, she surely would have been sad, but she would have moved past the sadness quickly.
“You still have your mind and it’s a good one. Remember that, boy,” Ma would have whispered from the grave, if she could have.
No consolation, he thought as he lumbered once again up the old cement drive cluttered with weed-filled cracks and deeply embedded oil stains. The netless hoop still hung over the garage, and still seemed an insurmountable height from the ground. It wasn’t his thing, never had been. John Mike could always jump higher and was much quicker, but that didn’t matter. Adrian had to play and he had to win. Winning wasn’t everything, Pa preached—it was the only thing. Winning meant surviving, the Master Sergeant insisted with each war story he dished out at the kitchen table.
Adrian limped up the ramp through a sawed-off railing onto the front porch in need of painting. The porch, like the garden in the back, brought the fondest memories of his mother. On the long, dark green bench that hung from the rafters, he and Ma cuddled each time Pa beat him down for not doing this or that the way John Mike did it. Mother and son swung to the tune of Old Man River as it flowed sweetly and softly off Ma’s tongue. All the while, the real river meandered downstream behind the houses across the street, beyond the backyards of the Clyburn’s bungalow, and the Levi’s remodeled two-story. In his mind’s eye, whenever he thought of that porch swing and Ma, Adrian could see just a hint of the moving river and that always added a nostalgic backdrop to his recollections of her.
When he was just over three years old, right after Pa retired from the Marine Corps, his folks moved from Georgia to Virginia and bought the house on South Willow Street. At the time, South Willow was part of a welcoming middle-class neighborhood of white Christians, according to Pa anyway, but slowly changed into more of a melting pot as the city grew, a change the Master Sergeant was not happy with—and he let everyone know.
Not long after they moved in, Pa constructed the front porch and a door leading from there directly into the kitchen. From that day on few people entered or left through the front door. He added the ramp much later, after the accident that forced him into a wheelchair.
Adrian shuffled past Ma’s green bench around nine o’clock in the evening. The porch door was open and, late as it was, he smelled dinner through the screen door, fresh catfish stew in the pot and cornbread warming in the oven. Good old Esme was outdoing herself once again.
He swung open the squeaking screen door. Pa sat at the kitchen table; dread instantly swirled around in Adrian’s belly.
“You’re late again.” Pa gripped the edge of the table in order to pull himself up from his wheelchair ever so slightly, as if to use that contorted position as the exclamation point for his accusation.
“You’re late again,” Adrian mimicked the old man. “How are you doing, son? I’m glad you’re home. Really son, how are you doing?” he continued, trying his best to capture his father’s tired accusatory drawl.
“Well Pa, thanks for asking, I’m just fine, except maybe for a lost limb, a metal knee that doesn’t seem to be working right, and a bit of self-pity—but no big deal, right, Esme?”
Adrian dropped his backpack and crossed the room to hug the housekeeper who’d raised him, as he had done often since his return from the war. Esme was his surrogate mother, had been ever since Ma died. Back then, she was a Negro. Today she is African American, and in excellent physical shape for someone who just turned eighty.
“Well at least you’re alive.” The old man pushed himself back into his wheelchair.
“I know. I know, and John Mike isn’t. Right, Pa? Isn’t that what you were going to say—again?” Sitting across from his father, Adrian edged forward in his chair as if to make his own exclamation point. “I was there when he died! Don’t you remember me telling you that, Pa?”
“Enough!” Esme cried out standing by the oven with her back to the kitchen table. Pa might have been Master Sergeant John Wheeler in the United States Marines, but Esme Charles was and had always been the master of the house. She raised Adrian’s mother Lillian and she raised Lillian’s children. She took nothing off nobody—never. “Now, I is going to serve Mr. Adrian…”
“Private Adrian,” the old man said. “He ain’t received his discharge papers yet.”
“All right, I is going to serve Private Adrian his dinner and the two of you is going to sit across from one another and speak respectfully. And you will not bring Mister John Mike—excuse me, Lance Corporal John Mike—to the table.”
The Trials of Adrian Wheeler was my first published novel (L&L Dreamspell, 2011). It was awarded runner-up in the San Francisco Book Festival 2015.
I am happy to say that The Trials of Adrian Wheeler has been optioned as a movie by EVW Entertainment (producer of the movie Break the Stage), and the screenplay has been written by Erik Wolter and me. EVWE is now looking for partners to produce the movie. Erik and I have collaborated on a sequel to the screenplay.
The Wild Rose Press published The Fountain of Youth, my second published novel, in May of 2017. It has received exceptional reviews, some of which appear on Amazon and Goodreads.
My wife, Susan, and I collaborated on The State vs. Max Cooper and The Steele Deal (published by ArtAge Publications), courtroom plays in which the audience serves as the jury. Both are being produced around the country.
In addition, I have four novels that have recently been completed: The First Coming, An Eye for an Eye, Black Hearts and Hungry Bears (a trilogy) and The Click. I have written screenplays on the first three and am presently collaborating with Erik Wolter on a screenplay based on The Click.
I have been writing poetry for over fifteen years (some of which has been published) and am also a portrait and figure artist and sculptor, having been represented by a number of galleries in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. I am presently represented by the Delta Gallery in Brentwood, California and on line by Vango Art. My work can be seen at my website, www.steveshear.net.
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