A short conversation with B.R. Stateham
- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is B.R. Stateham. I am a seventy-one year old curmudgeon/hermit. I am lucky enough to be married to the same woman for the last 36 years. I am a father of three, and a grandfather of seven wonderful grandkids. My wife, bless her, has been crazy enough lo’ these many years in putting up with my eccentricities and picadilloes. Frankly, she’s nuts for doing so. But I’m very grateful for her infinite patience and quiet tolerance for my mood swings (as, you know, the vast majority of writers do have huge mood swings while gripped in the creative process)
- How long have you been a writer?
Round it off to about an even 50 years. I wrote my first novel, a sci/fi tome, when I was 12 years old. I’m seventy-one now. Now, I know . . . you’re asking yourself this; “If he’s been writing this long, why haven’t I heard of him?”
Good question. I’m still trying to figure that out myself.
- When did the bug about becoming a writer first bite you?
Like I said, about fifty years ago. I was reading a sci/fi novel and I thought to myself, “I can write something better than this.” And to be honest, I still think that way. The novels I read currently are far, far from the books I want to read, in the descriptive sense. I can’t help but think today’s mode of writing is, basically, hardly more than a cookie-cutter attempt to write the same novel that has been written a hundred times over. All that’s changed is authors have changed the names of the characters, and possibly moved the settings of their novel to a different city or country. Other than that, that’s it.
Some pundit a long time ago said, “If the story you want to read hasn’t been written yet, you should write it.”
That’s exactly what I am doing.
- What fiction or non-fiction do you write these days?
Currently, I write fiction. Genre fiction, to be precise. I write mysteries, historical mysteries, and sci/fi and fantasy. I’m old school enough to separate sci/fi from fantasy.
I’ve been tinkering around with the idea of writing a non-fiction book. Something involving History (I used to be a History teacher at the high school/grade school level). But I’ve so many novels lined up, one after the other, I don’t think the itch for a nonfiction effort will never see the light of day.
- Who were the authors who influenced you the most in becoming a writer?
An old gizzard like myself will come up with names hardly anyone remembers these days.
Names like Raymond Chandler, Ed McBain, Dashiell Hammit in the realm of mysteries. Or writers like Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov in science fiction. Of course there are many, many others more contemporary I could name. But these five names infused into me both the imagination a writer must develop, along with the commitment to write regardless of what other people may say.
- How do you write? Do you outline your work? Know all the details?
To be honest, I write a scene-at-a-time. The novels I write are movie-scripts written in long hand for the reader to enjoy. I come up with a clear and distinct image/plot for the first chapter of the novel. And then I improvise . . . visually . . . from there on.
The only plotting and planning I do; I do while in the midst of writing. Nothing is set down on paper or computer memory in regard to plotting out a novel beforehand. I like the free-wheeling, seat of your pants method of writing while I am writing. To plan ahead of time and know how the plot and story line is going to come out, seems to me, to be very stifling and very limiting of one’s imagination and storytelling.
But each to their own method.
- Which do you prefer? The writing itself? Or the creation process leading up to the writing?
Good question. Lots of times I like sitting in my chair and stare out the window as I chart out in my head the scenes which need to come, one after the other. At other times, the task of just writing itself takes over and words just flow out of me.
But then, there are times when the act of sitting down in front of the keyboard and doing the mechanic of writing is such an anathema to me, I want to get up and pound my head on the wall.
That’s, frankly, the lot of most writers.
- What is your latest work of fiction or non-fiction?
My latest novel is one called, ‘Lenny.’ It’s a mystery. Published by a small indie publisher by the name of Fahrenheit Press.
- Tell us about your latest work. What’s it about? What compelled you to write it?
The story is about an Army veteran, just retired, coming back to the small Texas Panhandle rural home he grew up in. He left . . . actually forced to leave . . . by his stern father who seems to have had a real dislike for his son. The town is full of memories. Mostly bad memories. But a few he still cherishes.
While there he is forced to step in and use his Army Ranger skills to save a county deputy sheriff from a serious calamity. The next thing Lenny knows he’s becoming a new deputy sheriff himself.
A town filled with old memories and old feuds. And just under a thin layer of tranquility, the bubbling cauldron of murderous intent simmers with malevolence, ready to explode.
- Is this a stand-alone novel? Or is it part of a series?
Lenny is the first novel of a series. This one came out this year (2019). The next novel in the series, titled ‘A Quiet Place to Rest,’ is being worked on as we speak. I hope to have it done by 2021.
- Are there any other stand alone or serial novels out there for the public to read?
Oh, too many to list. I have a second series going with Fahrenheit Press. A series featuring an art thief set in World War One. The art thief is named Jake Reynolds. The first book of the series is called ‘Death of a Young Lieutenant.’
The second novel is in the editor’s hand. Called ‘Death of a Cuckold Knight,’ it too is set in World War One. I’m hoping this one comes out sometime this year (2020).
And then, with a second small indie publisher, I have the ‘Smitty’ series. Smitty is a hit man who is slowly turning himself into a private detective. Smitty is the definition of a modern-day anti-hero. Is a good man gone bad? Or a bad man trying to do good? Who knows.
This series is called ‘Dark Retribution.’ The first book is a full-length novel entitled, ‘Dark Retribution, Volume One I; Smitty’s Calling Card.’
The second one is a series of short stories and a novella, all featuring the hit man, titled ‘Dark Retribution, Volume II; Sometimes Nightmares Come True.’
- What’s next in the writing-block for you to begin on? Anything already started?
At last count, something like five novels have been started. A third Jake Reynolds novel. A third (second full-length novel) of the Smitty series. And others.
Lots of writing ahead of me. Let’s hope it all gets done.