• Gaby Triana

Author Interview - STEPHEN H. PROVOST

On today’s Witch Haunt, please welcome STEPHEN H. PROVOST! Stephen writes paranormal adventures and historical nonfiction, including the fantasy novels Memortality and its sequel, Paralucidity; the young adult adventure Identity Break; and the Twilight Zone-inspired collection of short stories and dark poetry titled Nightmare’s Eve

WH: Welcome to the blog, Stephen! Please give us a brief introduction of your fabulous self:

For the first time in my life, I can say I’m a full-time author. I’ve written a number of books, but they’ve always been my “second job.” Now I’m focusing on my craft full time, and it’s exciting and scary all at once. My range of interests runs the gamut, and I write about what I find fascinating in the moment, whether it be horror, ancient religion, Americana, fantasy, science fiction, philosophy or whatever. I’m married. I’m a cat person. I’m a Dodgers fan. That’s the key stuff.

WH: What is it about writers and cats? I’d be curious to know what the parallels are, since I have four. :) Stephen, what other career would you have if not writing/publishing?

I worked for more than 30 years as a journalist until the bottom fell out of newspapers. Part of me always wanted to be a rock star, but I never had the discipline to learn an instrument. I do sing karaoke from time to time, so I get to pretend. Oddly, I did find the discipline to write 15 books (and counting). I guess that means I’m doing what I was supposed to do all along.

WH: I wouldn’t be surprised if some rock stars popped up as characters in your books then. What is your writing process like?

I’m an unapologetic “pantser.” I start with a basic idea and then see where it leads. I didn’t know how I was going to wrap up my novel Memortality until I got there; it was a lot of fun striking the inspirational gold that tied everything together. The same thing happened with the sequel, Paralucidity, which just came out this summer. When I’m writing nonfiction, I research as I go, and I write the stories I find most interesting. I did the same thing as a journalist: When something interesting happened, I reported it. I have a knack for being able to organize things in my head, and formal outlines just get in the way. Whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, I start with a very basic framework and take a few notes as I go along so I don’t run off the rails in terms of consistency. The writer is, really, the first reader. I don’t want to know what’s on the next page before I read it, and I take the same approach to writing. That’s why I enjoy writing twists. It’s fun to keep the reader guessing.

WH: I’ve learned to be more of a pantser to leave room for such surprises, but I also like having a tight idea of where I’m headed. Funny how different approaches work for different people. Which of your written works are you most proud of?

That’s a hard one. A lot of artists will tell you they’re most proud of the last piece they produced, because it’s the freshest inspiration, and I’m no different. I’ve written in a broad variety of genres, from regional history to mythology to horror to fantasy, even philosophy and political commentary, so it’s hard to compare. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Highway 99: The History of California’s Main Street, because I learned so much about the highway while doing my research and got to take photos for the book, as well. I intended to write the definitive history of the road, and I think I succeeded. On another level, I’m very proud of Nightmare’s Eve, because I hadn’t written many short stories, and this is an entire collection of them – all in the psychological horror genre, which was new to me as well. It’s been well-reviewed, and it turned out better than I expected. In terms of creativity, I think Memortality (whose hero can bring people back to life by remembering them) is my most original idea, and I love the twists and turns the series is taking.

WH: I will have to check those out, and I love the titles of your books. If you could interview any horror author, gone or alive, who would it be?

Neil Gaiman. Actually, I’d like to collaborate with him. I think we’d work well together. Is that arrogant? Probably. But there’s always that old saying about a man’s reach exceeding his grasp.

WH: Aim for the stars and catch the world in your hands. How have you changed as a person from your early life until now?

I’ve lost my hair, I’ve gotten a little smarter (I hope) and I’ve learned I can’t eat as much Mexican food as I used to. The more I learn, the more eclectic I become. I don’t like labels because they don’t tell the whole story, and I am a storyteller, after all.

WH: I’m not a fan of labels either. I particularly hate political labels, because then people put you in a box and characterize you. Meh. How do you like your coffee? Do you have a favorite libation? What’s your favorite dessert? This is the food portion of the interview. :)

I don’t drink much coffee because I like sweet Frappuccinos with caramel and chocolate and whipped cream. That doesn’t go so well with my diabetes. More often, I’ll drink diet orange Monster energy drinks and Diet Pepsis. (Sorry, but I don’t fit the mold of the heavy-drinking author; again, the diabetes would object, although I do miss having the occasional Long Island iced tea.) Food: I love salad bars, good Mexican food and Me-N-Ed’s black olive and sausage pizza (a California chain that, alas, will be a memory once I move to the East Coast).

WH: Not a big drinker here either, Stephen. What’s your favorite Halloween tradition?

As an introverted author, I haven’t done many Halloween parties. I did dress up as sort of gentleman vampire a few years back, and, as teenager, I went trick-or-treating as Gene Simmons, “The Demon” from KISS. I will say fall and winter are my favorite seasons; I love the shorter days and the cooler weather. I’m always up for a good corn maze or visit to a haunted house.

WH: What is the witchiest thing about you (we’re all a little witchy)?

My writing. Writing is perhaps the oldest and most profound form of magic. The ability to transfer one person’s thoughts into another person’s mind, however imperfectly, through a series of characters written thousands of miles away or thousands of years ago, is nothing short of amazing.

WH: You’re so right—it’s magical to be able to pull readers into the worlds that exist only in your mind. Who would be your favorite Addams Family character?

Wednesday. She doesn’t conform to expectations, and neither do I.

WH: I’ve said it before, but Wednesday is my spirit animal! What do you feel makes a horror novel scary?

The author has to be able to put the reader inside the characters’ heads; that’s where the real horror always exists. The reader should feel the fear, the anxiety, the imaginary fingernails scraping at the inside of the characters’ skulls as they realize what they’re up against. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a paranormal story set on another planet or a novel that unfolds the streets of contemporary Los Angeles. All the blood in the world won’t make a story scary if the reader can’t connect with the characters. The external setting only matters as an entrée to what’s going on inside their minds. That’s what’s scary.

WH: I strongly agree with this. It’s all about the character. What is the most awesome thing happening in your life right now that you’d like to share with us?

I’m a lifelong West Coast resident who’s about to do something incredibly crazy: My wife and I bought a house and will be moving to Virginia to work full time as authors (Samaire is the force behind the Mad World zombie trilogy and the vampire-dragon-time travel novel Romanov). I have no idea what’s going to happen after that, but I have a feeling it will be awesome.

WH: What a spontaneous decision, Stephen—perfect for a pantser! I’m sure it will lead to big, bright things for you both. Good luck! What’s next for you? We can’t wait to see what you have coming up!

I just signed a contract for another highway book, this one covering U.S. Highway 101 in California, aka El Camino Real/The Redwood Highway. It’s already written and should be out next year. In the meantime, I’m working on the third installment in The Memortality Saga. After that, I have a few other ideas in various stages of development. I’ve got a lot on my plate!

It was great getting to know you, and I look forward to the new installment. Now I have to to go online and get the first books, so I’ll be ready. Good luck with all your upcoming projects! To learn more about Stephen H. Provost, visit the links below:

* Website: www.stephenhprovost.com

* Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/default/e/B00UFWGMLY/

* Latest release: Paralucidity

* Facebook: www.facebook.com/shprovost

* Twitter: @sprowriter

* Instagram: @sprowriter

Stephen H. Provost writes paranormal adventures and historical nonfiction. Works of fiction include the fantasy novels Memortalityand its sequel, Paralucidity; the young adult adventure Identity Break; and the Twilight Zone-inspired collection of short stories and dark poetry titled Nightmare’s Eve. 

The author’s nonfiction works include Fresno Growing Up(history and nostalgia), Highway 99: The History of California’s Main Street(Americana and travel), Media Meltdown(political commentary) and Undefeated. His extensive survey of ancient history, fable and mythology is contained in his Phoenix series of books. A journalist with more than 30 years of experience and a former educator, he has worked as an editor, reporter, and columnist at newspapers throughout Central California.

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