Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Author Joseph Steinmann

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book: It is called "One Step Away From Clay" and it is a philosophical book about discovering ones own reason for existence. I have a passion for existentialism, and the book is an extension of that passion.
What inspired you to write your first book: I was sitting at a coffee shop one day and was reading my copy of "Through the Looking-Glass." I had just finished reading about the walrus and the carpenter, when an idea sort of popped into my head. I realized that Lewis Carroll was an existentialist in his own way. And his creations mirrored many of the existential ideals I loved to read about. So I said to myself, how could I write a story that, like "Through the Looking-Glass", would be entertaining, profound, philosophical, and transcendental? And within about a week I had the first three rough chapters finished, which introduce the reader to a stance and nonsensical world that the main character has fallen into.
Do you have a specific writing style? Not really. Sometimes I write fantasy, science fiction, or stories that are meant to capture a concept I am fascinated with. I do not like labels, but the things I have written have been called fan fiction, transcendentalism, Romanticism, modernism, abstract, complicated, and most often by be horrible. I think that a writer should try to write in every style of writing at least once. He should try to write a play using a Shakespearean dialect, a horror story that reads like a dark and melancholy work of Poe, and upbeat and witty read like Woody Allen did in "The Kugelmass Episode." I don't think anyone will ever be able to make your work exactly the same as those aforementioned, but I think it is a crucial practice.
How did you come up with the title: In the first two chapters, when the main character first sets foot on the weird new world, he finds himself in the middle of a seemingly endless desert of clay and dust. I was inspired to do this because I had been listening to one of my favorite albums by the band Creed. On the cover of the album was a very surreal picture of a clay statue crumbling in the middle of a crossroad. It was this picture that created both the title, and one of the chief characters, who is in fact made out of clay.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp: The book addresses the issue of suicide pretty deeply, and it was always my intention to incorporate a message of anti-suicide. In addition I would have to say that in a nutshell the two most poignant messages within my story are, to always try to create your meaning for existing, and to always endure the pain that seeks to teach you more than hurt you.
How much of the book is realistic: Well, it is a work of fiction. But like a true work of fiction all real life applications are found in the messages, the conveyed ideas, and the personal growth of the characters.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life: Not really. My adolescence has been affected by suicide, and the case could be made that having known the universes most absurd answer to life's apparent senselessness was a force in writing this book.
What books have most influenced your life most: I have a list... "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by. Stephen Chbosky. "The Lord of the Rings" by. J. R. R. Tolkien. "Of Mice and Men" by. John Steinbeck. "Crime and Punishment" by. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. "Class Six Climb" by. William E. Cochrane (My grandfather). And I am a fan of Stephen King, and admire him as a very talented writer.
What book are you reading now: "Stone of Tears" by. Terry Goodkind. And "Paradise Lost" by. Milton.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest: The only one whose work seemed a step forward to me, was Christopher Paolini's "The Inheritance Cycle." But when it comes to "New" things I do not direct much of my attention. I never make it a habit to do anything because it is new, and that philosophy is all the more vehement when dealing with something that I am passionate about and know a great deal of. I am not a novice reader and have the ability to see what is a good read, and a bad one. To me that a book is well written is all that matters.
Do you see writing as a career: To be honest it is, and has been, one of the few things I was ever truly great at doing.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book: Sadly I would... I have been called one of those "Moody artists." Nothing is ever good enough, and even if this book sells seven million copies in the future, and changes seven million lives I will still think it inferior.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing: Just coming up with a story to write is challenging, and writers block is a pervasive sickness.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work: One of the most prolific authors of all time is Stephen King. He is one of the most influenced writers of all time, meaning that, like me, he read first wrote later. He once said that after reading a story by Harlan Ellison, he would sit down to write and notice that his prose would sound eerily like Ellison's.
Do you have any advice for other writers: Never write anything unless it means something. A story must have substance, and it is your job to do all you can to make it the best it can be. To change as much as it can, and affect as many as it can. Writers are unlucky in that we have the most difficulty selling our art, and as a result we get books and stories that teach and change nothing placed on the highest pedestal. This is a sad truth, but it is one that can be reversed if more and more people value incorporating intelligence into the art we all love to experience.