Part I: Leon Stevens, Author, interviews Leon Stevens, Reader
Today we sit down with Leon Stevens, the reader. We haven’t chatted for a while, how have you been?
-I’m doing well, thanks for asking!
-Oh, yes please.
[clinking of fine china teacups]
When you want me to stop pouring.
-Can’t you tell when it’s full?
Well then, enough of the small talk. Let’s get started, shall we? First question:
What was the first book that you remember reading?
-Wow, that’s a great question.
I thought it was.
-I guess if I try to remember all the way back, I’d have to say, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
That’s the one with all the holes in the pages through the apples.
-Yup. I think that I got my finger stuck in one of them.
I think we all did.
Any others worth mentioning?
-I do recall reading Curious George, Pippi Longstocking, Hardy Boys, and I liked pop-up books. Oh, and the Highlights magazines.
Next Question: What was the first book that fascinated you?
-That’s an easy one, A Wrinkle in Time.
Why that one?
-My fifth-grade teacher read it to us. I looked forward to that time. He was a great reader, and I was sad when the book ended. It was a kind of a dark adventure for that age group.
Did you like reading?
-I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t a voracious reader.
Were you encouraged to read?
-I think so. My dad would read to me at bedtime. He would make space stories for me. I later found out, when I started reading science fiction on my own, that many of those “made up” stories were ones he had read before. I don’t fault him for it. It was funny reading a story and thinking, “Hey, Dad didn’t make that up!”
Do you have a favorite genre, or do you have a variety of interests?
– I usually read science fiction, and I prefer the older works over new. I do enjoy historical non-fiction, especially about explorers. I do enjoy some fantasy from time to time, as well as crime dramas.
What book have you re-read the most?
-I would have to say, Klondike by Pierre Burton, followed by Alive by Piers Paul Read, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
-Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.
Any newer books that I might know that you have enjoyed?
-Umm, you know the same books I do.
I suppose that’s true…Well?
–Ready Player One and The Martian would be the most recent. But again, you knew that.
Have you ever not finished a book?
Care to throw it under the bus?
-Nope. Not fair to the authors. Sometimes a book just doesn’t fit with the reader.
I understand. Well then, last question: What will you be reading next?
-I’m waiting for you to finish your science fiction book.
It’s getting there, don’t rush me.
-I’m just yankin’ your chain, I’ve liked what I have read so far.
Thanks. I appreciate that.
-I knew you would.
I knew that you knew that I would.
-I’m not playing that game.
I guess we are done then. It has been a pleasure interviewing you.
-Well, thank you. It was fun! We should do this again.
[sounds of shaking hands (which doesn’t sound like anything…)]
Part II: Leon Stevens, Reader, Interviews Leon Stevens, Author
Today we have the pleasure [eyeroll] of sitting down with Leon Stevens, the author. How have you been?
– Considering all that has been happening, I have been OK. You?
You know the same as I do. We share a place, remember?
– Just being polite, you know.
Moving on. You have some exciting news to tell.
– I had some news. Like a month ago.
Would you like to share it?
– That’s why we are here, isn’t it?
Yes, indeed. Let me spill the proverbial beans then–
– I’m not going to clean those up.
Do you want me to say it or not?
– Go ahead.
You published your second book this year, a science fiction book, I believe?
– That is correct. It’s called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
Interesting title. How did you come up with that?
– It’s the first story in the book, and the rest tells you what is in it.
But what does it mean?
– You will have to read and find out.
I did. You know that.
– Then why are you asking?
I thought that other readers would like to know.
– Well, it’s all about how choices that life gives us are not always good things, I guess. It is the shortest story in the book.
You like writing short stories, don’t you?
– My stories always seem to come to a natural conclusion sooner rather than later. Say what you want about short attention spans…
Do you have a favori—Wait! Where are you going?
[from another room] – I thought we were done.
No. We are not.
– Want some coffee?
Sure. Are you using the press?
– Is there any other way?
[elapsed time: 15 minutes]
– Here you go.
Thank you. Shall we continue?
– Fire away.
Mmm, good coffee.
– Thank you. It’s one of my favorite things.
Before the break, I was asking if you have a favorite story?
– That’s tough. Each story has its charm in how it came about and what ideas I was trying to convey. But if I had to choose–
– As I was saying, if I had to choose, it would be Reasonable Hand-drawn Facsimile.
– Probably because it has elements of humor. It made me laugh when I thought about it. My editor said that she laughed out loud when she read it. Now, that’s the sign of good humor writing.
Do you consider yourself a humor writer?
– Quite a bit of my writing has elements of humor, so yes. I like to make people laugh.
There are quite a few post-apocalyptic stories in the book as well, along with poetry. Poetry? What’s up with that?
– I don’t know which came first, the stories or the poems, but I recall coming up with the idea that sometime in the future, writings from after an apocalyptic event would be found. So naturally, I named the series Found.
That sounds like the premise of the book, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr.
– That’s not far off. I didn’t mean it to be, but as I was coming up with the poems, it was a book that came to mind. It is the first post-apocalyptic book that I remember reading.
You write many different styles. Do you think that will limit your appeal by segmenting your readership?
– Well, I do now. Thanks a lot.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.
– Limiting my appeal? Or writing different styles?
I thought I was asking the questions here…
– Can’t we have a spirited discourse once and a while?
How long have you been waiting to throw in that word?
– Quite some time. Impressed?
Very. OK. Back to my point. I’m just worried that your poetry readers won’t like your science fiction stories and vice versa.
– I’ve thought about that. But if I am inspired to write something, I don’t want to limit myself. I still write poetry. It took me four years to publish my first book of poetry—I’m not going to be able to put out another right away. I hope my readership will embrace my eclectic writing. It is about entertaining and keeping readers engaged.
And how do you do that?
– I began to write a blog, which became more of a satirical/humorous take on life. Then when I started my newsletter to keep my readers updated on my writing journey–
Writing journey. I like that.
– Thank you. Anyhoo, I try to keep my weekly newsletters informative and entertaining. I hope that people read and appreciate them.
Ever thought of doing a podcast?
– I wouldn’t know where to start. Do you?
Not a clue. Last question: Who are The Miniscules I keep hearing about?
– You’ve heard about them from other people?
Not really. I just thought that we should mention them.
They are dear to your heart, are they not?
– No. Not really. I’d miss them if they went away, though.
But they’re not going anywhere, right?
– Nope. They still have lots to say.
Well, thank you for taking to time to answer some questions. Any final thoughts?
– You’re going to clean up those beans, right?
Yes. Not to worry…
– Don’t forget to take out the garbage when you go.
I’m not going anywhere. I live here.
– Oh, right. Another cup of coffee?
Leon Stevens Interviews Leon Stevens (again)
Originally published @thestoryreadingapeblog.com
Hello. I’m Leon Stevens and I’m sitting here with author Leon Stevens who has written two books, Lines by Leon-Poems, Prose and Pictures, and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. Well, here we are again.
– It seems that way.
You wrote down a list of questions for the guest post on thestoryreadingapeblog.com. Where did you come across that site?
– Through my WordPress blog. I was reading a repost of a book marketing article.
How is your blog coming along?
– Better than I thought. I’ve been writing something almost daily.
Nice. Shall we get to the questions?
Now bear in mind I do know all these answers so try to forget who I am.
– I wish I could.
I’ll let that pass. Question 1: Have you always been a writer?
– Not until I learned how to hold a pencil if that’s what you mean.
It’s not…I meant writing on order to get published.
– Ahh, no. I don’t recall wanting to write until I needed to. I began to write songs and song lyrics to get my thoughts and emotions onto paper, which evolved into poetry.
Do you consider yourself a poet?
– I suppose. Poetry is one aspect of my writing, but I think that if you write poetry, then you are a poet. Some people might think that if you are a “real” poet, then that’s all you do, describe the world through verse.
Do you read a lot of poetry?
– Not really. I don’t think it’s a prerequisite to writing meaningful works. Maybe it’s a way to be unique.
Do you think you are unique?
– I think we all are-except for you and me.
Shouldn’t that be: You and I?
– Who knows?. Or is it Whom knows? No. It’s who knows.
Don’t we all love grammar?
Oh boy, do we ever!
– Actually, it’s question #7. Go back and read the transcript.
Next question then. What do you write about then?
– I write poems about emotions, struggles, ego, environment, travel, and everyday experiences. Some poems have a humorous edge to them.
Something humorous from your book.
– Umm. I wrote this one about a sock:
Is there anything lonelier than discarded clothing?
A sign of disappointment, of rejection, of loathing
Threadbare and stained, no fight left within
Wondering what events caused this great sin
Did you wear out your welcome, what did you do?
Was it a weakness of cotton
That allowed the big toe to come through?
Was it your owner’s odd gait that wore through the heel?
Taking the blame, how did that feel?
Was your partner discarded or saved for another
Pair that shares the same fate and just the right color?
Are all your poems light-hearted?
– No. There are many that are much deeper emotionally, but it is nice to be able to take a break and laugh.
Your latest book is a science fiction book. Why the change in genre?
– Science fiction has always been my favorite, and I had all these ideas kicking around.
Why short stories?
– Why not.
Care to elaborate?
– Some of my earliest memories of reading was short science fiction, either reading it or listening to my father making up stories at bedtime.
He made up stories for you?
– I thought he did. I would come across stories as I was reading years later that I could have sworn I had read before but then I realized that he had told those ones to me.
So he passed them off as his own?
– Well, he didn’t say they were not, and I never asked, so no plagiarism there.
Any other reason for writing short stories?
– When I have an idea and start to write, my stories seem to come to a natural conclusion sooner rather than later. There is a challenge to writing short, though. Developing characters to the minimum, letting the reader fill in the details of the setting, and I think successful short stories either end with a twist or leave the reader thinking.
Your shortest story?
– The title story The Knot at the End of the Rope is 175 words. I have some stories in my poetry book, the shortest one there is 41, but it’s more of a caption to a picture than a story.
So, if you don’t have time to read a novel…
Any other projects on the go?
– I do have a book of classical guitar compositions, and I am currently working on a continuation of one of my short stories. Its up to 12000 words so far.
So, not a short story then.
– It will probably finish up being a novella, but you never know.
– You do?
Naw. This has been fun as usual. Thank you for sparing the time to sit down and talk to me.
– You knew I wasn’t doing anything anyway.
Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.