I grew up in the east coast town of West Orange, New Jersey. Even as a kid, I had this endless need to be creative. I just didn’t know how to channel it. It wasn’t until I played through a video game called Final Fantasy III when I was a teenager that the thought of writing a book entered my mind. I didn’t want the story to end, so I wrote a short sequel. After that, I decided to write something completely original. And I loved it! I’ve been writing ever since.
I now live in St. Louis with my fiance, and I’m just about finished with the rough draft of a new project. In the meantime, The Fourth Dimension has been getting a lot of attention from readers, and I’m really excited about what the future of my writing career.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always had a creative drive in me. I used to create these elaborate stories with my action figures as a child. Eventually, my brother introduced me to role-playing video games. Final Fantasy III, in particular, captivated me with its deep story and beautiful soundtrack. I loved how every character had a fleshed-out story and conflict to overcome. It added so much more depth to those little blocky game characters than I ever thought possible.
When I’d finished the game, I was depressed that it was over. I wanted more. So I wrote a short sequel. Reading it now makes me cringe; I obviously didn’t know much about writing back then. But when I finished, I started to wonder what I could create if I wrote a completely original book. All my characters, my worlds, my story, my ideas. The idea of being able to write anything at all that came to mind was so exciting. And that’s where it all started for me.
How many books, and in which genre, have you written?
I guess the grand total would be almost ten. I say almost because the tenth is about 85% completed. The first three were my original versions of The Fourth Dimension, a sci-fi/fantasy series that combines the sword and sorcery of Final Fantasy with the action and adventure of Star Wars. Then I wrote a couple of unrelated fantasy books that hope will one day reach readers. They need a lot of work before they’ll be ready for publishing, however.
After that, I rewrote the first book of The Fourth Dimension. I’d learned a lot about writing, grammar, story structure, and style by that point. The originals lacked a lot of logic; I just wrote things that came to mind. So I restructured the story, keeping only the main plot elements intact. The resulting tale became so grand that I divided it into three volumes. Key to the Stars is Volume I.
Lastly, I started running a blog called Retail Ramblings sometime in 2009. I’d write stories of the craziest customer encounters I’ve had over the years and post them there. It got a great reaction from people, so I organized the stories into book form, added ten original stories that were not posted to the site, and published that as an ebook as well.
What steps do you take in starting a new book?
The process isn’t always the same, but I most often start by deciding on the message I want to portray. With The Fourth Dimension, I wanted to inspire people to do good. I wanted to write about a true hero as opposed to the anti-hero that dominates society these days. Then, for the main character, I decided to write him as “the person I wish I was.” The rest slowly came together from there.
When do you find it best to write?
Right after waking up in the morning, actually. That makes it difficult due to the need for a job, but I feel the most creative and motivated after a good night’s sleep. The funny thing is that I’m not a morning person at all.
How many drafts do you usually have before deciding it’s done?
In my eyes, it’s never done. There’s always an edit missed, a sentence that could be reworded, or a description that could be modified. But when the book reaches a point where I can read through it and not find myself overly distracted by these things, that’s when I consider it ready for publishing.
What issues or challenges do you struggle with the most?
Paying attention. Focusing. I’ll sit down and write for ten minutes. Then I’ll get up and get a drink. Flick channels for a minute. Flip through the mail. Then write a little more. Then check facebook. Then email. It’s not that I’m not interested in what I’m writing, I just get restless when doing anything. Happens at work, too. Even when I’m playing video games!
But once I get into the zone, nothing can stop me. When I finally manage to focus on the task at hand, I usually make significant progress. Those are the days when I feel the most fulfilled by my writing.
What would you do differently if you were just starting out today to become a writer?
I think I’d focus more on creating a compelling story than anything else. When I started, I had hundreds of ideas for scenes and stories and events and plots, and I think I tried to hard to cram as many of them as I could into one book. I’ve since then learned to focus on making the story flow and writing scenes that help the story progress in a direction that makes sense. Anything that doesn’t fit into that flow can wait for another part of the book or another book altogether.
© 2011, Steven R. Drennon. All rights reserved.
Filed under: Interviews