An Interview with Author Steve Carr
YOU HAVE LIVED SUCH A FASCINATING LIFE, STEVE. TELL MY READERS ABOUT YOURSELF.
I'm not certain how fascinating it is. I was born in poverty and raised with four siblings by a single mother who had an eighth grade education. The only books we had in the house for most of my childhood was the Bible and a set of encyclopedias, so I read both the Bible and encyclopedias from cover to cover a few times. I make up what I lack in intelligence with sheer will and determination. Thanks to a high school English teacher who told me I could write, I joined the Army right out of high school to become a military journalist during the Vietnam War era. I didn't go to Vietnam, but instead was given plush duty at the Jacksonville, Florida District Recruiting Command where for about three years I wrote articles for newspapers all over Florida. That launched my career as a writer, although I went years, and traveled extensively, without writing to pursue other means of making a living and to see the world. In college I majored in English/Theater which fed my interests in playwriting, so I went that direction for a few years and had my own stage production company. It wasn't until June, 2016 that I took up writing short stories and since then I've been very lucky to find editors and readers who seem to like my work.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STORY ABOUT?
I write, but I still haven't fully embraced that I'm a writer. I lack any gravitas at all as a writer. In middle school I wrote a short story that was about thirty handwritten pages long that had something to do with knights and battles. I'm pretty sure that was my first serious short story.
I AM ALWAYS IMPRESSED BY THE BREADTH AND DEPTH OF YOUR WORK. YOU ARE ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFIC WRITERS I KNOW, AND I LOVE YOUR WRITING. CAN YOU OFFER A GLIMPSE OF HOW YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORKS?
The word “process” always freaks me out because I have a very clear process for submitting stories (as outlined in my Guidebook: How To Get Your Short Stories Published) but no real process for how I manage the activity of writing. I write when I want to write without feeling guilty when I don't. The number of words I write per day really depends on when I have a story scheduled to be submitted by. If I have a real process its an organizational process, knowing what publication I'm writing a story for based on what they want, following their prompt and guidelines, not writing just to put words on paper.
AS IS STATED EARLIER, YOUR WRITING BREADTH IS AMAZING AS IS YOUR CHOICE IN GENRES. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ONE?
I love the many forms of the fantasy genre. There's a bit of that in so many of my stories and often it goes unnoticed. Fiction is fantasy, after all.
WHAT GENRE(S) WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN?
I'm not sure I want to be more effective in writing it, but I wish I could grow to like writing romance stories. It's a very popular genre that I'd like to be able to write with some conviction, but it's a genre that I have a very hard time taking seriously, so therefore I mostly stay away from it.
EVERY NOW AND THEN I SEE YOUR GORGEOUS WORK THAT DEALS WITH GENDER AND SEXUALITY. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT SUBJECT WITHOUT BEING OVERLY POLITICAL?
That's an amazingly great question that no interviewer has asked me before. I have never hidden that I'm gay and amazingly in my entire life I have never had one single negative word said to my face, or attacked online, because of my sexuality. I wish I could say that was the same for all LGBTQ+ individuals. The world can be an ugly place for almost anyone in many, many circumstances, so I don't have the right to complain about life being unfair simply because I'm gay. Gender politics is unavoidable when writing about men and women, gay or straight, or any variation in between. My only real political axe to grind is with those that harm others emotionally or physically.
WHAT THREE KERNELS OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW WRITER? A SEASONED WRITER?
So you're asking for six kernels of advice. For the new writer: (1) Learn grammar, (2) Learn how to self-edit your work, (3) Don't take advice from anyone who knows less about writing than you do. For the seasoned writer: (1, 2 &3) Follow the same advice I give to the new writer.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED TO WRITE?
There will be a time when I will stop writing. I want to make sure I've said as much as I wanted to say by the time I reach that point which motivates me to continue to pound on the computer keys in hopes that I'm getting it all out.
IF YOU WERE TO BE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND (WITH YOUR PARTNER) WHAT THREE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE WITH YOU?
(1) How To Catch Fish. (2) How To Cook Fish. (3) Things To Do With Fish Bones.
HAVE THESE BEEN LITERARY INFLUENCES? IF NOT, WHICH AUTHORS HAVE BEEN?
The books and short stories by W. Somerset Maugham taught me everything I needed to know about writing short stories. The plays by Tennessee Williams taught me how to write dialogue.
PLEASE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS.
I have about thirty publications on my schedule to submit new stories to in the next few months. As always, the projects cover almost all genres, and some I have an idea of what story I'm going to write for it, and some I don't. I wish I could be more specific, but being too specific would hem me in. I allow myself the freedom to be non-specific until the very last moment. It's not a writing project per se, but I have a new collection of short stories coming out in October, titled The Very Best of Steve Carr: 50 Short Stories, that is being published as a hardback to be available on Lulu and on Amazon kindle by Clarendon House Books. It contains 50 stories that were written and published prior to March of 2019. I'm particularly proud of this collection because it includes commentaries on the stories by over 85 writers, editors, educators, poets, artists, and friends worldwide.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO HOW?
The real world and the writing world have a very uneasy relationship, both fearful of being overly controlled by one another. I don't think writing can transform the world, but a world without writing would be transformed almost overnight.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE OR SOCIAL MEDIA?
Twitter is @carrsteven960.
My Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/steven.carr.35977
STEVE, IT IS A REAL PLEASURE AND HONOR. I HOPE WE DO THIS AGAIN SOON.
Thank you, Jesú. I hope so too.