Steven Manchester returned home after a difficult tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He then began working as a prison investigator at a Massachusetts penitentiary.
He later decided to return to college and finish his degree in Criminal Justice. Which eventually led Steven into pursuing his dream of becoming a published author.
Steven has penned 16 books with 12 in publication, and contributed to more than three dozen international anthologies. His writings have been featured in national literary journals and various magazines.
Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series. His work has also appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning, BET's Nightly News, Good Day Atlanta, in the New York Daily News and many other media sources.
Steven recently released a new novel, entitled, The Rockin' Chair. Which should be another interesting read for those of us who enjoy intriguing characters and entertaining plots.
B2M presents our exclusive interview with Steven Manchester.
Welcome to Books2Mention Magazine.
STEVEN: Thanks for the opportunity.
B2M: Please tell us about your new novel, The Rockin' Chair.
STEVEN: In The Rockin' Chair the whole story is basically, that family is the foundation for everything. It was a very enjoyable book for me to write. I wrote it some years ago for my children. It was inspired by them. It's about three generations of a family in Montana that goes through some very difficult times. When it is finally time for them to get together and they start to share their memories, they realize that some of their memories are good but there are quite a few that are not. So, it's really a story of redemption. It's a story of reconciliation and really regardless to what happens, family is the most powerful thing.
B2M: Yes, that's right.
Is there a character in The Rockin' Chair that you identify with?
STEVEN: Yes, actually the protagonist in the story is Grandpa John in the book. This character was inspired by my own grandfather. So if you can picture, you know salt of the earth, not very educated but very wise. He has this unconditional love for his family. Basically in the book he discovers that his wife, his life long love has Alzheimer's and that she is dying. That she can not remember any of her life. But he also realizes as they put her into the ground that he will not be able to join his family until all of his chores are finished and those chores are really healing his family before he leaves. So, this character to me is probably the greatest character that I have ever written. He has wisdom, and the love that he shows bringing his family back together and healing them is something that was inspired by my grandfather.
B2M: It was really great that you incorporated Alzheimer's into your story because a lot of families are dealing with that now. So that was a great thing to put that into the story.
STEVEN: Yeah, thanks. I appreciate that.
I think in the beginning when people realize that they have Alzheimer's it's pretty terrible but as the disease progresses, I've discovered that it's the caretaker, it's the family that really does the suffering once the person who has it no longer remembers anything.
B2M: Yes that is indeed true.
Was there a particular character in the novel that presented a challenge for you to create?
STEVEN: Yeah it was. It was his son, Hank. Because the grandfather is salt of the earth. He's got leather hands. He's tough, he's a farmer. He's not someone who say's I love you. His son never really understood his father's intentions. So they are estranged through a good part of the book. To the point that they need to come to terms and heal each other. So, that was a difficult write for me. Because it was harder for me to relate to that particular character than the others in the book.
B2M: Normally do you write from your past experiences?
STEVEN: Yes I do, I absolutely do. I'm inspired by different things. I think in this case, what I do is, once I get the story line down, It's really about developing the characters. I spend a lot of time on the characters. So once I have the characters down, they really tell the story for me. They are inspired. Many of the stories that I write, including this one or at least portions of it are inspired by actual events. But I would say a good part of this book is fiction.
B2M: When did you first discover your interest in writing?
STEVEN: Actually, my grandfather, the one that inspired the book was an amazing storyteller and I recall thinking how incredible it was to be able to move people to laughter and also tears. So I always thought it would be great to be a writer and never really pursued it. I served in the first Gulf War and decided when I was over there which was an absolutely brutal experience, that if I made it home alive, I would chase my dream and become a published author. That's exactly what I did.
B2M: Is there a particular author that you admire that has influenced your writing style?
STEVEN: Yes there are a lot of them. I would say modern authors would be Mitch Albom, also Nicholas Sparks. I think Stephen King is brilliant. There's quite a few of them. That would be three of them right there. My favorite author of all time is Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill A Mocking Bird. To me that's literary perfection.
B2M: Yes, when I was reading Twelve Months, your writing style reminded me of Nicholas Sparks. It really did.
STEVEN: Thank you, I appreciate that.
B2M: What would you like to say to readers who have not had the opportunity to read your books?
STEVEN: I would say give it a shot. I believe good reads make people think and great writer make people feel. I think in my writing I spend a lot of time going after the heart. I definitely aim for the human heart. It's about the emotional attachment to the characters you get from the book. I would tell people that I'm most known or best known for writing tear jerkers and stories about healing and redemption and forgiveness, and all the raw human emotions that we all feel and sometimes don't share with each other.
B2M: What would say is the central message of The Rockin' Chair?
STEVEN: It would be that you need to tell people how you feel while you are here. You need to forgive yourself as well as others, and that life is too short. Much, much too short. We are all in this together. It's not like anyone is on a solo journey, we are all connected. If we can help each other along. I think that's the way to go.
B2M: What three key pieces of advice would you like to offer to upcoming writers?
STEVEN: Perseverance and determination is more important than any other trait you can possess. To stay at the table until you finally get a winning hand. You truly have to believe in yourself even when other people don't. I'm proof positive of that. I have faced as much rejection as any other writer. It's really about just sticking to your guns. The second is write constantly. It's a discipline as much as it is a passion. So in order to get better you have to continue to write. Keep the faith and never ever quit.
B2M: That's three great pieces of advice.
STEVEN: Thanks I appreciate that.
B2M: Outside of writing, what other interest do you have?
STEVEN: My family, first and foremost. I try to spend as much time with them. So I enjoy getaways with my wife. We enjoy the beach and spending time with the kids outdoors. Obviously, I love to read. A little bit of travel. I'm from New England. So, I am a sports fan of The Boston Red Sox. Right now, The Boston Bruins. Basically I am the quintessential family man. So, I spend my weekends with my family.
B2M: Do you have a special ritual that allows you to tap into your creativity?
STEVEN: Yes, I spend quite a bit of time in my car traveling, I speak into to a portable mini tape recorder. Then I transcribe that later on. But I spend most of my writing in my dinning room. The reason for that is, It's probably the room in the house that the least amount of people travel through. So, there aren't many distractions. What I do is throw on the same cd, put it into a loop, so that it plays over and over. It drowns out any distractions that may be there. I try to write a couple hours every day. As I say it's a discipline as much as anything else. Fortunately, I'm not a big fan of reality TV. So, I don't watch a lot of television. When the kids go to bed for the night. I'm usually up for a couple more hours for writing.
B2M: Now in all of the books that you have written so far, do you have a favorite character?
STEVEN: Yeah, actually it would be Grandpa John. I got to tell you, that's close because I wrote a book called Goodnight Brian and it is a character in there called Momma. That's very similar, They are very strong characters. They possess unconditional love but there is a kind of no nonsense, there's some tough love there.
B2M: Have you given any thought about taking some of your novels to the big screen?
STEVEN: Yes, actually my publisher and I have spoken about it. I know that it is something that is being entertained. In many respects it's out of my hands. It's something that the publisher and his people would take a look at it. But my hope is and my dream is to be quite honest with you, is to see The Rockin' Chair on the big screen.
B2M: That would be great.
What can we expect from you next?
STEVEN: I have actually just finished the first draft on a rewrite of a book called Pressed Pennies. That I put out many years ago. But the publisher that put it out was very small and closed right away. We didn't get many readers at all on it, so this publisher, The Story Plant is going to re-release the book. Basically it's been rewritten. I am overjoyed that this book will come out. It's called Pressed Pennies, and it is due out I believe February of next year.
B2M: Steven is was great speaking with you. We encourage you to continue writing great stories with intriguing characters and interesting plots. We hope to speak with you again in the near future. Please keep Books2Mention informed about your future endeavours.
STEVEN: Thanks you so much. I really appreciate your time.
Much Success To You!
The Staff @ Books2Mention Magazine
To learn more about Steven Manchester, please visit his website at www.StevenManchester.com.
Books by Steven Manchester include: