Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Editorial Opinion: Part 2 of an Interview with Steven Beeho

Part two of my interview with Steven Beeho, author of Sojourners in Shadow, continues with the original CritGit talking about writing and teasing us about what’s to come…

mai-phay:      How long have you been writing, Steven?

Steven:          Since I was a kid. Who knows when it started? Probably going on 30 years. When I was very little I drew a lot of pictures. Nothing artistic - just lots of battles and fights and adventure stuff - mainly stick figures. It was more about what they got up to than the drawing itself. It seemed natural to progress to writing about them when I could.

mai-phay:      Do you ever base characters on people you know and have they ever found out?

Steven:          Nope. Fictional characters and historical figures are far more appealing than mundane, ordinary people.

mai-phay:      So is that where you draw on your inspiration for characters?

Steven:          Yes.

mai-phay:      What's your preferred era of history?

Steven:          Can't say I have one. I’ve read lots on Japan, Renaissance Italy (love the Medicis), Imperial Britain, Ancient Rome and Greece. The Arthurian era is fascinating, as is the Dark Ages.

mai-phay:      I’ve only recently purchased a book about the Medici's.

Steven:          Great bunch of bastards. I prefer them to the Borgias. They set up a lasting legacy. Lorenzo's ingenuity and charm in dealing with his worst moments were brilliant.

mai-phay:      I also saw a book on Catherine, I think her name was, and how she did a lot more than her brothers.

Steven:          Yes, I think she ended up marrying into the French monarchy. Learning about Vlad the Impaler was fascinating, too, the Knights Templar and the Crusades - the mercenary companies who roamed Europe - the English Civil War and Frederick the Great, as well as Hannibal and how he nearly defeated Rome before it could grow up and dominate the Med.

mai-phay:      The Crusades I remember studying at school, but the Knights Templar is something on my list to read more about.

Steven:          You'll see their influence when encountering the Order of Mechanised Tyranny.

mai-phay:      Where did you get the inspiration for Sojourners in Shadow?

Steven:          That stuff started out as something completely different. I decided I needed to write lots of short stories and fire them out there to get published. But I have never enjoyed shorts much and the main problem I had was you often create a whole world for nothing more than a few pages.

To write several shorts I decided I wanted to create a world where lots of things could happen. It didn't matter if that world was shown in the stories, they would all be stand-alone works, but it meant I didn't have to rethink everything each time. So I started off thinking about monsters coming to our world and changing it. That meant I had a world I already knew but changed to however I wanted it to be, putting me in full control.

mai-phay:      I thought you always preferred to write shorts - have you written anything longer?

Steven:          Yes I used to write bigger stories all the time. I have about 7, I think. I wrote some shorts but had a hard time keeping things concise. Plus it annoyed me to lose everything at the end. At least in a bigger story it felt like the characters had a good run.

I wrote a full length story in early 2003 and it was editing my own work later that year when I began to think about the world for shorts. I was editing another story of mine, which was a biggie and was about a chaotic, war-ridden world. Again, that helped influence me.

I'm a fan of many genres and watched a lot of weird stuff growing up. I love comics too and action cartoons based on comic book characters. I hate watching movies set in ancient times where modern day values are placed. People had short lifespans. Dying in your thirties wasn't so tragic. People died a lot for all kind of reasons. Dying in war had a nobility to it we can't see because of how wasted a life would be now. So when I started thinking this up I think many aspects came naturally to me. 

mai-phay:      This is what amazed me about your work. Sojourners in Shadow, if memory serves correct, wasn't a new collection and yet it seemed very current. Then you have another collection, the untitled one, and that is even older, but there are some stand out stories in there and all very current.

Steven:          Yes - some of those are older, some younger. I did try for more shorts after a while, anyway, so I ended up with those and more like them. But those shorts in the first collection for Sojourners was started in late 2003, I think.

mai-phay:      So with the mutations more beings were created all, as you said, unique. The overall impression I got was that this collection has a long way to go, i.e. there are more tales to tell.

Steven:          Sojourners is a part one, there will be more a lot more of Sojourners in Shadows. I think the title will change when the tone or tempo changes. But I have already written second stories for Lotus, Straker and the Accursed. Also, several background characters have reappeared in other stories. Plus people and places get mentioned. Trade Island has a lot going on and I have found I tend to write two stories set there in each group of ten. Not always, but often.

Characters have to talk about things that have happened already. For instance, the Demon King's prince being in prison is a big talking point because something like that has never happened.

mai-phay:      Lotus is one of my favourite characters, even though there is undoubtedly a lot more to discover about him.

Steven:          Oh yes. He has a long journey ahead of him. I have this mapped out for a long way ahead.

mai-phay:      Oooh nooooo! Does Lotus make it, so far?

Steven:          That's giving things away. :P

mai-phay:      Ooooooiiiiiii!

Steven:          But like many major characters he has a long, winding road ahead of him.

mai-phay:      Yeh? Do you know how the whole saga ends or haven't planned that far ahead?

Steven:          I know how lots of mini-sagas will end. Those will have a strong bearing on the whole thing. I know how many characters will end, and when. I have a strong vision of where it will all go. I haven't decided on an ultimate end yet because there is a long way to go and many things may affect it.

But like I said, I originally began it as a series of stand-alone pieces to try and publish in different places. Then I started thinking it all out. The more I did, the more I saw the entire world and how everything connected or interacted.

mai-phay:      Can you give me a sentence to sum up Sojourners in Shadow?

Steven:          Many spheres of influence crowded into one world with individuals trying to pass through them. Expect death.

mai-phay:      Hey that's two!

Steven:          I know. I'm a git. 

I'm a firm believer that a story is about taking a character from A to Z, whether it being physically moving them or not, but certainly moving and changing them in some way.

mai-phay:      Character development?

Steven:          That, yes, but more. They should either suffer or realise or be challenged or something. They can be supermen but not untouchable. They should see how wrong they were or how much they have lost. They should risk a lot. Dare to dream. They should work hard to achieve something.

mai-phay:      If they remained static then it'd get boring, so I see your point. Sounds like a good mantra.

And there you have it.
If you have anything you’d like to ask Steven
he can be reached on twitter as 
or on Facebook as, well, 
Steven Beeho

If you’d like to read more of his ramblings check out his no nonsense blog,

Sojourners in Shadow,
a fantastic collection of post-apocalyptic stories, is available on both Smashwords and Amazon.

No comments:

Post a Comment