Please introduce yourself?
My name is Steven Manchester. I am the author of The Rockin’ Chair, as well as the #1 best seller, Twelve Months (2013 San Francisco, DIY & New England Book Festivals award winner). I am also the author of A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Goodnight, Brian (2013 Southern California Book Festival award winner), and Pressed Pennies (due out May 2014). My work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Three of my short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with my beautiful wife, Paula, or my four children, I’m out promoting my works or writing. Visit: www.StevenManchester.com
How did you come to be a writer?
I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, he explained, “There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” He smiled again and dropped the bomb. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on his desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.
What genre(s) do you write on?
Inspirational fiction; male perspective to female audience.
Pressed Pennies is one of my favorite works because it’s so personal to me. And if I didn’t admit to that, then I’m fairly certain that my wife, Paula, would have my neck. At its foundation, Pressed Pennies is autobiographical. After both suffering failed marriages, Paula and I were blessed with a second chance at love. Just like Rick and Abby (within the novel), we met at the party of a mutual friend. And from the moment we laid eyes on each other, the adventure had begun. Although Rick and Abby’s conversation at the party and the scene details are completely fictional (also, Paula and I didn’t know each other as children), the feelings are the same. As a writer, my greatest goal is always to make my readers feel. By placing myself within the scene, I have a much better shot at successfully pulling that off.
Why the title Pressed Pennies and what convinced you that this is the best title for this book?
Some titles come before the book is ever written and other titles are born as the book is being penned. The title Pressed Pennies came to mind during the writing process and readers will know exactly how when they give it a read (if I offer anything more, I’ll be giving a piece of the plot away).
What distinguishes Pressed Pennies from other books in the same genre?
Pressed Pennies is a love story at its core, but it also tackles the trying issues associated with living in a non-traditional family. In an era of divorce and single-parenthood, it is a story about raising children and peacefully co-existing; making it work with mutual respect and consideration. It’s one thing to find your soul mate. It’s another thing altogether when that soul mate’s daughter hates you.
When you are not writing, what else do you do?
Spending time with my family; we enjoy the theatre and dining out. In the summer, we’re at the beach or off doing something outdoors. In the winter, we’re hunkered down in front of a nice fire.
What next should we be expecting after the release of Pressed Pennies?
Although it took me nine months to pen Gooseberry Island, it’s been a novel in the making for better than twenty years. Again, I served in Operation Desert Storm and have both experienced and witnessed the terrible suffering that accompanies combat service. More times than not, the wounds that are invisible prove much more painful than those that can be seen.
On the heels of Pressed Pennies, we decided to create another love story. In Gooseberry Island, David and Lindsey fall deeply in love, but quickly face a monstrous obstacle—the after effects of war.
Gooseberry Island is a tribute to all who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who stayed behind and suffered every moment until their loved one’s return.
The novel’s excerpt depicts David during his first few days of returning home from combat in Afghanistan. He is suffering terribly from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and must decide whether to continue seeing Lindsey, the woman who helped him survive the twelve months of hell. My life is in complete chaos, but maybe if I tried talking to Lindsey? David thought, shaking his head. No…it wouldn’t be fair.
Now fate has thrown Rick and Abby together again. In their early thirties, they are more world-weary than they were as kids. But their relationship still shimmers, and they’re hungry to make up for lost time. However, Paige, now nine, is not nearly as enthusiastic. She’s very protective of the life she’s made with her mother and not open to the duo becoming a trio. Meanwhile, Rick has very little experience dealing with kids and doesn’t know how to handle Paige. This leaves Abby caught between the two people who matter the most to her. What happens when the life you’ve dreamed of remains just inches from your grasp?
Pressed Pennies is a nuanced, intensely romantic, deeply heartfelt story of love it its many incarnations, relationships in their many guises, and family in its many meanings. It is the most accomplished and moving novel yet from a truly great storyteller of the heart.