Science fiction & Poetry
Leon Stevens, please tell us about yourself. What first got you into writing?
My kindergarten teacher gave me a fat pencil and told me to print my name. Oh, writing, writing… I started writing song lyrics and poetry as therapy to deal with a difficult time in my life. After publishing my first collection of poems, I turned to my favorite genre, science fiction, and began to write a series of short stories.
What did you read when growing up?
My dad would read me science fiction stories at bedtime when I was young, and the first book I remember reading on my own was Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. Other ones were the Narnia Chronicles, The Lord of the Rings, and a Lot of Issac Asimov. Then I discovered Vonnegut.
What book would you recommend to a friend?
It’s so difficult to recommend books because everyone has such different tastes.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Marketing my writing. That’s a full-time job if you let it. Otherwise, I try to stay active, usually cycling, running (when my Achilles' isn’t acting up), or kayaking.
From your website, I gather you have a variety of tastes and interests, ranging from comedy, to composing music and writing poetry, to writing cool science-fiction stories. How did you come to define your writing style and choose your writing genre (or genres)?
For me it’s all about entertainment. I want to write a story I would like to read, and hopefully others will as well. My poetry doesn’t always contain deep meanings that have to be interpreted, and it often has elements of humour and a tinge of cynicism.
What is your writing process like? Do you outline and plan a lot, or do you just sit down and write? What comes first, plot or characters?
I’m as unorthodox as it gets. I just write. Sometimes it starts with an opening line, a title, or an idea, and I don’t always have an ending in mind and the story leads me from scene to scene. I don’t like to keep track of characters, so most of my stories have very few.
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Maybe not a quirk, but I do write slow.
In your opinion, what is the measure of a successful writer?
In my opinion, if your writing positively impacts one reader, then you have succeeded.
How did you get the idea of interviewing yourself?
I have an odd sense of humour, and it was a way to ask the best questions to highlight that. I also did two interviews with ChatGPT and for some bonus content for my sci-fi trilogy, I did an exit interview with the characters.
(I’ve been thinking of doing that myself - would you recommend it?)
Nothing ventured, right?
Do you have a work in progress at the moment; a new book maybe, that you plan to publish in the coming months or years? What are you ready to tell us about it?
I do have a few things on the go but nothing that’s promotable yet. I had to scrap my last WIP because I came across a book (now a TV series) that was almost identical to my idea. Luckily, I wasn’t very far into it.
I’d like to focus on your trilogy now: The View from Here, The Second View, and The Final View. First let me congratulate you on the cover art; I find it compelling and it makes me want to read the books. So, what inspired you to write these very attractive books?
The View from Here started as a short story which I published in my first sci-fi collection, The Knot at the End of the Rope. When National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) came around, I thought it was a good chance to continue the story, since it did have an open ending. At the end of the month, I wasn’t even close to the 50K word target, so I just kept writing. By the time it was done, I still wasn’t close, so I published it as a novella. When the next (NaNoWriMo) came around I decided that the story—even though I ended it this time—still had some adventure left in it, so I started the sequel. Four months later I had 40k words and still more to go, so I turned the series into a trilogy.
In a nutshell, what are the stories about, and what do you hope readers will take away from them?
Adventure, mystery, critical thinking, and building trusting relationships. The short story told of a hiker who stumbles upon a portal to another world. He discovers he isn’t the first and they join forces to explore this strange new world and try to discover why it exists. As I was writing it, it reminded me of the video game “Myst”, where there were a series of puzzles and clues to decipher in order to move forward.
Tell us about your protagonists, Thomas and April. Who are they, and where do we find them at the beginning of the story? What do they do? Who are their friends and allies?
I tried to have two characters who were separated by a larger age gap than is normally seen in books. April is in her 30s and Thomas in his 60s. Their experience and knowledge is greater that the parts, which helps them navigate through the world they find themselves in and they quickly develop a friendship.
Without giving too much away, is there an antagonist force or villain in the series - or several? Without spoiling anything, what is the most prominent source of conflict within the whole story?
Was I supposed to have an antagonist? I suppose the mysterious world is their antagonist. It doesn’t give up its secrets easily.
I want to learn more about you and read your books... Where can I find you, and where should I start?
Easy, all my links are in one place: https://books.linesbyleon.com/links
Leon Stevens is a multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, and artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He published his first book of poetry in 2020, followed by a book of original classical guitar compositions and a short story collection of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales. His newest publications are the sci-fi trilogy, The View from Here, and a new collection of poetry titled, A Wonder of Words. Learn more from his links...