I have been thrilled to review Steven Manchester's last 2 novels - Goodnight Brian and Twelve Months. His stories are unlike anything else I've read. So when Steven asked if I would review his newest novel - The Rockin' Chair - I couldn't pass it up. This time though, I asked if he wouldn't mind doing a little interview with me. Enjoy! The Rockin' Chair was released today 6/18/2013
Interview with author Steven Manchester
When did you first know you wanted to write a book?
I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor—Barry McKee—talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” Barry smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d finally done it! In his office, he explained, “There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” He smiled again and dropped the bomb. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on Barry’s desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.
Who has been your biggest support through the writing process?
From an inspiration perspective: My family; wife and children. Everything I do is done with my children in mind, trying to teach them by the example I provide with my own life. And I could never thank my wife enough for the support she has given me through the years.
From a writing perspective: Lou Aronica—my publisher, mentor and friend. He has taught me more about writing in a year than I was able to learn during the decade that preceded it.
A question we must all ask, who are your favorite authors, and have their works shaped your writing?
Stephen King- for his prolific works, and the amazing work ethic that has produced them all;
Mitch Albom and Nicholas Sparks- for the emotional works that they’ve created. I’ve been inspired by both.
I also love many of the classic American novelists that came before—especially Harper Lee. For me, To Kill a Mockingbird is literary perfection.
What piece of advice would you give an aspiring write?
I work with a lot of aspiring writers. With an industry rejection rate of 96%+, this business can prove very harsh. I tell new writers:
Be true to yourself, always.
Keep the faith!!!
And NEVER, EVER, EVER quit. Most people in this industry would agree that more than talent or skill or even luck, perseverance is the one trait that will always get the job done.
Knock on every door you can, and keep knocking. I promise that eventually someone will open and the warmth you feel on your face will more than validate every hour spent alone in the darkness.
When it comes to your books, you have chosen some strong emotional situations that people deal with in real life - where did the ideas for your books come from? Are there personal connections you have with each circumstance?
I believe that good writing makes people think, while great writing makes people feel. I’m always aiming for the heart. There are personal connections to everything that I write—though most of it is fiction. For me, once I've decided on a theme that I feel passionate about, I write the book with my children in mind—to pass along my thoughts and beliefs.
All of your books focus around family and the love and support we should find within them - would you tell us a little about your family?
My wife Paula and I have four children (two boys and two girls) and, although we live very hectic lives, we try to share everything. I’m also blessed with parents and siblings that have been very loving and supportive.
Finally, I want to know, do you have any books in the works? Can you spoil us with a little preview?
A la Nicholas Sparks, Pressed Pennies is a wondrous tale of connecting love stories, proving that the world really is a small place and, whether we believe it or not, we’re all connected. Love can happen at any time in life – young or old – and the trick is to cherish it by living each of its moments to the fullest. Amid the heart-warming romances and deceitful twists and turns, Pressed Pennies tackles the trying issues associated with living in a non-traditional family. In an era of divorce and single-parenthood, it is a story about raising children and peacefully co-existing; making it work with mutual respect and consideration. The book’s underlying theme is discovered in the evolution of the 80’s child. Though life begins as wholesome and innocent, technology eventually takes over. Day care, fast food and a list of coveted luxuries replace long talks in porch swings, tree forts and family suppers. The price for comfort proves very expensive, though, as the American family is traded in for the American dream.
Expected release date of February 2014.
CONNECT WITH STEVEN
by Steven Manchester
About the Book: Memories are the ultimate contradiction. They can warm us on our coldest days – or they can freeze a loved one out of our lives forever. The McCarthy family has a trove of warm memories. Of innocent first kisses. Of sumptuous family meals. Of wondrous lessons learned at the foot of a rocking chair. But they also have had their share of icy ones. Of words that can never be unsaid. Of choices that can never be unmade. Of actions that can never be undone.
Following the death of his beloved wife, John McCarthy – Grandpa John – calls his family back home. It is time for them to face the memories they have made, both warm and cold. Only then can they move beyond them and into the future.
My Thoughts: The thing about Steven's books is no one is perfect, which makes them that much more relatable. We all have trials, and mistakes we make, but it's how we deal with them, that make us who we are. The Rockin' Chair takes a close look at a family who has let pride and anger stand in their way of family love. A key lesson I gleaned from this book is the need for open communication. Sharing our feelings, even if it might feel awkward at first, will benefit families in the long run. I don't want to ruin the book for you, so all I can say is - go read this! Read this book, and then use it to better your family relationships. Steven you've aimed for the heart and hit your mark once again. Thank you for a heartfelt story of family, love, and forgiveness.
Buy The Rockin' Chair on Amazon