Interview with Steve Freeman
Author Steve Freeman is former member of the US Army’s Signal Corps, a twenty-six year employee of a large American technology company, and an avid traveler who has visited five continents. The novels of The Blackwell Files draw from his firsthand knowledge of military service, the tech industry, and the diverse cultures of our world.
He currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and daughter.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I only started writing a little over a year ago. A few family members encouraged (read “bugged”) me for several years to put pen to paper, but my personal schedule only recently evolved in a way that freed up enough time to begin writing. Once I started, I realized how much I enjoyed it, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve finished two books, have a third done except for a few edits, and I’m working on a fourth.
- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? One of my secondary characters shares my proclivity for telling “groaner” jokes. I suppose almost all writers confer aspects of their own personalities into their characters. I do, too, but this particular characteristic is near and dear to my heart.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? When I started writing, I really wasn’t sure to what extent readers of thrillers and mysteries wanted a character-driven story. In other words, did they just want the exciting ride, or did they want to feel deeply about the characters? In the end, I wrote the kind of story I would want to read, one in which the reader is emotionally invested in the main character, rooting for him to win the fight and the girl, despite the long odds against him. I have been surprised at how much readers have responded positively to this approach. Readers seem to deeply connect with Alton Blackwell, the main character. What a wonderful feeling for a writer!
- Where did you get ideas for your books? I am a former member of the US Army’s Signal Corps, a twenty-six year employee of a large American technology company, and an avid traveler who has visited five continents. I like my books to feel as authentic as possible, so I draw from my firsthand knowledge of military service, the tech industry, and the diverse cultures of our world. I also stay on top of the news, which provides an endless source of ideas for future volumes. (I have specific plot lines for books four through six. Now I just need the time to write them down!)
- Out of all the books you have written which is your favorite and why? This feels like trying to pick your favorite child; I love each of my books for different reasons. Since my first three books form a series and therefore share many main characters, the arc of the characters’ relationships has spanned across all three. For that reason, I find particular satisfaction with T Wave, the third book in the series (to be released in late spring or early summer), because of the important points reached in the relational narrative. I also particularly like some of the minor characters in T Wave.
- What age group do you think best describes your reader? Why? Nefariousdoesn’t contain any scenes that would make your Grandma blush. However, like most thrillers, Nefarious is written with the assumption that the reader is reasonably knowledgeable about our world (science, politics, government, current events). For this reason, I think the most appropriate audience would be mid-teens and up who enjoys face-paced, romantic thrillers and mysteries.
- What do you think makes a good story? I think is good story combines an exciting, unexpected storyline with characters you care about deeply.When I finish a book, I want to have undergone an emotional transformation, to feel like a slightly different version of myself than I was when I started it. A good story has the power to do that.
- Who are some of your favorite Authors? My favorite authors fall into several camps: classical literature with a romantic emphasis (especially Victorian—my all-time favorite is Charles Dickens—also Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte), mysteries (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie), and thrillers (James Patterson, Michael Crichton). I also love science fiction (Orson Scott Card) and historical fiction (Ruth Downie).
- If you could pick one actor to play a character in your book in the movie version, who would it be? I think Michelle Borth, who plays Catherine Rollins on the Hawaii Five-O television series, would be a wonderful fit for Mallory Wilson, the female lead in Nefarious.
- What song best describes your book and Why? I think “Go the Distance” would be a fitting song for Nefarious, the story of an underdog who tries to overcome physical and psychological damage, match wits with both terrorists and government agents, and somehow win the affections of Mallory Wilson, the former colleague with whom he is reunited in order to pursue an investigation.
- Who are some of the people that influenced your love of writing? Of course, my favorite authors take center stage here. William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair, said of Charles Dickens, “Who can equal this great genius? There are little words and phrases in his books which are like personal benefits to the reader.” I couldn’t agree more. I also have to tip my hat to my mother and my sister Cathy, who suggested for several years that I should throw my hat in the writing ring. If I had realized how much I would enjoy it, I would have started years ago.
- If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring Author, what would it be? My one piece of advice would be to join a critique group. This gives you an opportunity to meet with other writers with the goal of regularly reviewing each other’s work and giving constructive feedback. Obviously, receiving feedback on your own writing is helpful to improving your craft, but even giving advice to other authors will help improve your abilities as a writer.
- What would you like to say to friends and family of writers (not just your own)? I used to run marathons. As I trained for them, I was keenly aware that I was isolating myself somewhat in order to dedicate time to this interest. I think writing is similar in that it requires alone time. So I would say thanks for putting up with not only the time we writers take to ourselves but also for the time we rant about our work when we’re with you. Putting up with both of these periods is a special form of endurance.
- What projects do you have up and coming? I’m currently on the cusp of wrapping up T Wave, the third book in my series (which is entitled The Blackwell Files). I’m also about halfway through the first draft of Havoc, the fourth book.
- Is there anything else you want to share with your readers? I used to write music for the piano when I was younger. However, I think I’m more adept at the typewriter keyboard than the musical variety.
Alton awoke with a start, his heart pounding almost as loudly as the battering ram crashing into the front door. How had they found him so quickly? Why hadn’t the diversion worked? Attempting to balance silence with speed, he rose from the couch, glided through the connecting door into the neighboring apartment, and approached the side window. He would have been up the creek if Mallory’s place had been a second-floor unit.
Alton climbed through the window, closed it with a quiet snick, and—thankful for the cover provided by a dusk rapidly turning into night—limped across the lot to his vehicle, a late-model Explorer stashed behind a couple of low-rider pickups. As he slid into the seat, he could see dark jackets and flashlights huddled around the front door, which was beginning to buckle. Alton scanned the complex and spotted two more agents guarding Mallory’s back door.
Reminding himself to exercise patience, Alton waited for the agents to break through the door and storm the apartment. Only then did he drive away with headlights off.
Once he cleared the parking lot, he called Mallory. “Don’t go home.”