An interview with Steven Manchester

What genre do you write?

I write commercial fiction with a slant toward inspirational; tear-jerkers from a male perspective to a female (and male) audience.

How did you come to write that genre?

I wrote two non-fiction books (on the first Gulf War and the prison system in Massachusetts). Once I’d exhausted my expertise, I had to switch to fiction. My style eventually evolved into what was most natural to me; the genre I write today. I feel compelled to evoke emotion when I write.

Who is your favorite character to write about?

I’ve created many characters who I’ve enjoyed developing and getting to know. In my new novel, The Changing Season, although I love the protagonist, Billy Baker—I adore his furry sidekick, Jimmy.

Living or Dead who inspires your writing?

Family, friends and hundreds of writers who I am eternally grateful to.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Spending time with my wife, Paula, and our four children. I love dining out, film, travel, reading—all the finer things in life.

What writing plans do you have for 2016?

I’m finishing up a book, entitles, Ashes.

In the novel, Ashes, two middle-aged brothers, Jason and Jeremy, have been estranged for nearly fifteen years. When they learn their cruel father has passed away and has been cremated, they sit for his last will and testament—to further discover that the old bastard has requested they spread his ashes cross country. And the only way they can receive the concealed envelope he has left for them is to take the trip by car—together.

Jason and Jeremy have raised their children and are on the tail end of their careers. Each is silently pondering what life has left for him. During their comical journey—filled with miscommunication and misunderstanding—the harsh realities of getting older are illuminated. With a few unexpected twists and turns along the way, Ashes is a page-turning adventure that has proven to be heartwarming, highly-relatable and hilarious.

Which of your books are you proudest of?

My answer to that will always be, “The next book.” Truthfully, it’s like picking a favorite child for me—impossible. There are things I love (and less than love) about all my titles.

What made you decide to pursue writing?

When I was a kid, I loved listening to my grandfather spin tales that made me laugh—and cry. I knew that that I wanted to be a storyteller.

In 1991, 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 finally 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.

If you were stuck on a deserted island with three things what three things would you take?

Something to write with

Lots of fluids

And a boat (to return to civilization once I’d finished a new novel)