September 12, 2010

Interview With Author Steve Cushman

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

In my early twenties, I decided I wanted to try to write fiction because I was reading quite a bit. Once I started writing, I discovered that it's easy to write but no so easy to write well. But I kept at it and after a few years decided to take a creative writing class at the local community college. The teacher told me I was a good writer and had some talent. Someone telling you you are good at something is usually a pretty strong motivator. Then the more I write, the more I liked it and it became part of my life so that now I need to write just about every day. Some days that may be 30 minutes, some days an hour, and other days 2-3 hours. But if I don't write for a couple days, I start to feel bad.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Not so big on inspiration. I believe in hard work and sitting at your desk, or wherever you choose to write, and getting the work done.

How do you create the characters in your books? Are they based on people you know?

Usually when I start a story or novel, I know I have a character and he/she has this problem/situation but I don't generally know that much about the character until I start to write about them. Then they can take off on their own. One of my favorite parts of my writing is when a character does something that surprises me. For example, I send a character into a grocery store, then he/she turns a corner and something happens that I didn't know would happen when I started writing that day.

Characters are usually composites of people I know or have met. This is usually not intentional--I start writing and then personalities/characteristics of people I know start appearing. In Heart With Joy, Old Lady Peters, is pretty much my next door neighbor. She and I have had many conversations about birds and especially hummingbirds, something the main charcter, Julian, does with Mrs. Peters in the book.

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

Not sure I can answer this one. Everyone has different tastes and I think as long as people are reading something, that's a good thing.

If you weren’t a writer, what be your profession?

I actually work full-time in the IT department of a hospital, after working as an X-ray Technologist for 17 years. I've always worked and written at the same time. They are two different worlds for me, and I try not to let them cross. Would I like to write full-time? Of course I would, and I believe this book will be the one that helps me get there.

If you could trade places with anyone in the world, past or present, real or fiction, who would it be and why?

No, thanks. I'm happy with my family and where I am in my life. I'm very fortunate. I've got a lovely family, I get to write, and I've been lucky enough to publish three books now.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 3 things, what would they be?

My wife, son, and dog.

If I can't take people or pets, I'd say an Ipod & Kindle that are fully-loaded with batteries that would never wear out. I'd also need a never-ending supply of pens and paper.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

Changes all the time, but the last movie I saw that I thought was really great would be Little Miss Sunshine.

What is the one thing that you want all your fans to know?

Never, ever, no matter what anyone says, give up on your dreams.

If you could invite 5 people to dinner, who would they be and why?

Father--because he died before I could ask him the questions that I still wonder about today.
My son--so my father could meet him.
My Wife-so my father could meet her.
My Mother--heck, because she's my mother.

Four is enough people for me.

If you were on death row, what would you choose for your last meal?

Nothing fancy--a good old chicken quesadilla with lots of sour cream and guacomole.

About the Author:

Steve Cushman was born in Massachusetts and grew up in Florida. He earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida, then an M.A. from Hollins University and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His debut novel, Portisville, was the winner of the 2004 Novello Literary Award. Portisville went on to be named a Finalist for both the Independent Publisher’s Book Award in General Fiction and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in Literary Fiction.

Cushman’s short story collection, Fracture City, was published in 2008. Stories from this collection were originally published in the North American Review, 100% Pure Florida Fiction, Rosebud, Village Rambler, and the Raleigh News & Observer, among other places. His book reviews have appeared in the Greensboro News & Record, Winston-Salem Journal and Our State magazine. In 2007, he was awarded a Central Piedmont Regional Artist grant from the United Arts Council of Greensboro. For the last sixteen years, Steve has worked as an X-ray Technologist and is currently employed at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife and son.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free from the author. All opinions expressed are 100% mine. If you purchase a book using my Amazon or Barnes and Noble link, I will receive a small portion of the purchase price.

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