Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Being a Writer: A Guest Post from Steven Lloyd

I’m going to make this as brief and as painless as possible. Can you tell I’m nervous? Good. I don’t hide it well. My name is Steven Lloyd. I don’t have a huge readership or a large body of work. I’ve been writing short stories for twenty-five years. The first fifteen years of my life were dismal. I wanted acceptance from my peers and by my early teens I was experimenting with Cocaine and Heroin. My fear of needles and constant nose bleeds kept me from shooting or snorting.  Instead I ingested it by mixing it with food or drinks. When I hit fifteen, teachers told my parents I was unreachable and I would either be dead or in prison by my twentieth birthday.  Still, my parents believed in me. I owned my place and cleaned up not too long before the writing bug bit me.

I wrote a horror story for an English class assignment—thank God it was Halloween, and I had to read it in front of the class. The writing assignments kept coming, I think because my teacher saw my ability as a future writer. From that day on, students paid me a dollar or two to write their stories for class. For the first time in my life I found something so overwhelmingly powerful that I kept going with my new talent. I left the drugs and alcohol behind about a year later and found my purpose in life: I wanted to write stories.

In 2001, I was searching for myself. I hadn't written anything in ten years and one day my then girlfriend bought me a computer. Voices, once silent, now began to talk. It wasn't long before I hammered the keys. My first acceptance came in 2005 when Naked Snake Press released my short story “When Darkness Falls” as a standalone chapbook. The next year Ellen Datlow mentioned the story in her summation “The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” 2006. For me it was just as good as having my story published in the book. The book sits on my shelf today.

In 2013 I started collecting some of my favorite stories. Forty-three was knocking on the door and I wanted to leave something behind for readers and loved ones. At the same time an idea for a novel surfaced. I was on fire. A brief description of the novel is below:

When fifteen-year-old Hector McGee skipped the last day of school to go fishing with his best friend Vernon, he didn’t expect to hear a woman’s screams coming from inside the Buckmyer house. He heard a familiar voice, one he knew all too well—the raspy voice of his drunken father—dishing out brutal punishments that only he could give.

It's the 1940’s and Hector McGee is on the run from the Buckmyer brothers seeking revenge after the disappearance of his father. Hector enlists the help of his best friend and several others as they plunge deep into the Dogwood Bottoms seeking the mythical voodoo doctor Pepper Jones. They will have to go through hell to find him and the trip may very well kill them all.

Most of the tales in my short story collection “Strange Roads” deal with real life horror. I wrote a short titled “The Wooden Box” that put me on the map a couple years ago. I knew then I was on the right track. Readers loved it. My most acclaimed stories are in this one collection: The Wooden Box, When Darkness Falls, Brothers, Where There Be Dragons, The Wallet, The Fight of the Century and an excerpt from my forthcoming novel Dogwood Summer. Also includes an introduction by John Paul Allen and various interviews with me.

The writing game is a hurry up and wait business. Nothing moves fast. It’s best to get that out of the way now. Things take time. Strange Roads took over a year to prepare before its release in October. Cover art, interior layout, editing; all this takes time, and I found myself rewriting most of the stories. During all this I wrote two new pieces and slipped them in.

This is not a hobby. Writing is a second full-time job for the serious writer, published or not and I found reading outside my chosen genre helped me grow as writer. Since then I’ve written crime, fantasy, horror and mainstream literary works. Don’t hold yourself to one genre. Move around and draw other things into your reading. Most importantly--have fun.    

Not too painful, was it? Good. Now go out and buy the print edition or download a copy of Strange Roads off of Amazon. You’ll be better for it. I promise. Best to all and happy writing. 

You can download or buy the print edition of Strange Roads here:

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