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Stephen Ross: What is the most difficult part of writing a crime novel?

Today I meet again with Stephen Ross, known for his books Operation Wolf Hunt (2020) and Memoir From Hell (2019), for which he won a readers' award. I would like to present to you his new novel, Severed Things, which just hit the market.

I believe that to write a novel that sounds authentic, you need to know the subject closely. Crime novels, I admit, are easy for you. Your dialogues are written with ease, and as I read the excerpt from the book, I felt like I was at the crime scene and everything was happening around me. I like your writing style for sure, Steve. Do you think that practicing the law for so many years has helped you look into the criminal mind, creating the characters in your books so authentically?

Thank you for your kind words, Donika. It’s always nice to hear that someone appreciates your work. I don’t believe any one thing has helped me create characters, develop a plot, or construct any other aspect of my writing. I didn’t practice criminal law, so my direct involvement with the criminal mind is minimal. I believe that living an observant life makes us who we are and defines the ability to write. So, dealing with parents, interacting with friends, travel, reading, and watching movies and TV all play a part.

Introduce us to the story of your latest work - Severed Things, and what do you think was the most challenging part while writing it?

Severed Things is a detective story that takes place in 1954 in a small midwestern town. Detective Vince Nolan and his partner, Petuski, are tasked with solving a rather unique crime. Vince drinks whiskey, smokes Old Gold cigarettes, sees the humor in life, deplores poor grammar, and appreciates the shape of a woman’s body. He and Petuski encounter a variety of interesting characters and situations while persuing the perpetrator.

The most challenging part of writing the story was making sure that it rang true to life in the United States in 1954.

I liked that the novel has a touch of humor that makes it easier to read. What else can the reader find in it?

A bit of sexual innuendo, the hint of a possible romance, and hopefully, an enjoyable way to escape reality and spend a few hours in the wonderful world of make-believe.

Can you compare writing a novel to an adventure in which you are the protagonist investigating a complicated case? Have you ever dreamed of being a detective in real life?

Absolutely. While writing Severed Things, I become Detective Vince Nolan. I’m constantly asking myself what would Vince think, say, and do. So, in a very real way, I was tasked with solving this crime.

I can’t say I’ve dreamed of being a detective, but I have thought I might try it if given enough lives. I think it would be fascinating and challenging to be given a few bits of evidence and then try to string them together to solve a case. My hat is off to the people who do it.

Will there be a sequel to detective Nolan's story?

Hmm … maybe?

At the moment, I would define you as a thriller writer. Is this the genre you want to create in, or are you interested in other genres? Tell us, what motivates you to write?

I’m interested in all genres. I don’t try to force myself to write in any particular style. I get an idea, put down a sentence, which leads to a paragraph, and eventually a story. It is what it is.

I’m motivated to write as a means of creative expression. Something I believe most people desire in some form. The idea of creating something from nothing is exciting. I’m retired but still need to be engaged. Writing provides that.

That's great. I'm curious to know if you have a schedule for writing during the day? Any rituals or settings that help you start the creation process with you? Tell us something funny from your writing life that your friends think is weird or funny?

I don’t have a rigid schedule. I usually get up, make coffee, and turn on the computer. I try to write at least one page a day: sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I bang out three or four pages. Some days I don’t feel inspired to write at all, so I don’t. Other days, I don’t write but will think about the story and where it wants to go next. Typically, I run out of creative gas after two to three hours. I write as long as it’s fun.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything funny from my writing life that people find weird or funny. Well, on second thought, they may think me weird or funny for choosing the particular crime I chose for Severed Things.

Hahaha, I know what you're talking about. Thank you for this conversation, Steve. I look forward to the book release.

Severed Things by Stephen Ross is available on Amazon. Read an excerpt from the book on this link. Grab your copy today! Enjoy!



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