Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Interview With Steve Stredulinsky

CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.

My full name is Steve Stredulinsky, but I publish under Steve Stred, to make it easier for people to search for my stuff!  I have been writing for 20 years now, since high school actually, but only recently began releasing stuff (2016).  My earlier stuff was poetry and short stories through our creative writing classes and then in my first college’s newsletters etc.  I published a non-fiction piece a number of years ago through Track and Field News, which had a great response.
Outside of writing, I am a Certified Canadian Pedorthist (I make Custom Made Foot Orthotics and Custom Made Shoes, etc) and used to be a high level athlete, competing in the sport of Bobsleigh and Shotput.
I am married, to my amazing wife Amanda, and we have an 8 year old Bulldog and a 20 month old son, named Auryn.

CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Since I began reading actually.  When I was little, I actually had a lot of difficulties reading, until my small elementary school started doing a buddy reading program, where older kids would read with the younger kids and then I took off.  My neighbor growing up was (and still is) a big Stephen King fan, so from the time my Mom would let me read his stuff, and our neighbor Patti let me borrow the books, I was enthralled.  That was when I started writing little things.  I created sports words, wrote my own season long stories and kept stats etc.  It was always a dream of mine, and I just never stopped writing.  But it wasn’t until 2016 and I wrote the short story For Balder Walks that I really saw some interest and traction from editors etc, about releasing stuff professionally.

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like? 

My writing schedule is all over the place.  I write every weekday.  My work schedule is appointment based, and I see people every 30 minutes.  Those appointments will typically take between 15-25 minutes, so if an appointment ends early, and I have nothing pending, I will try and get in 5-10 solid minutes, as well as 45 minutes at my lunch break.  I will put on my headphones, put on some music and pick up with where I was.  On the weekends, I don’t usually write, as I am focused on spending a lot of quality time with my family, but I am constantly thinking about stories, characters etc, so I will send myself emails, texts, facebook messages with little tidbits of things I have noted as being important.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?

Unfortunately nothing.  Other than I typically want some music playing when I have my solid block of writing.

CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?
I truly prefer short stories.  I have one novel out now (Invisible), and have the patch work pieces of two more, but I find my imagination is always on over-drive so I like the short story concept.  I have one book of short stories out already (The Fence: and Other Sordid Tales), and have a second one prepped for release, I am just awaiting artwork.  I have now started on my third book of short stories, which I think helps keep things fresh for me.  The other thing I love with short stories, is you get to have so many amazing characters.  I have always wrote just for me, and I love to see where the characters go, and where they end up, and if someone does purchase my stuff, then that is purely a blessing!

CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?

It appears to be alive and thriving.  There is a good mix of reviewers and releases.  Twitter has definitely opened up a lot of avenues, as I honestly just don’t have the free time to go explore and visit book readings etc.  If something catches my eye, then I will for sure make the time, such as Neil Gaiman is coming out this way in September, I believe it was.  But from what I have seen online, it is doing very well, and the city I live in (Edmonton, AB, Canada) is very open and receptive to all things.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

I actually do both.  I have some short stories that all have characters that come and go between them.  For instance, in a lot of my stories, there will be the reference to the tall, skinny man in the expensive looking suit.  All of these references are for folks who have read everything from day one, and they see these little clues that everything is leading somewhere, and eventually for this group of characters an answer will arrive.  So for this I use an outline, as I want to make sure continuity is accurate.  For the unrelated stories, I just go with the flow and have a general idea where I want to end up, and then I try and piece it all back together.  That happened with a story in the next batch called Yuri, where I knew what awful ending I wanted, but then went in reverse to get there.

CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?

I would think it changed this dramatically.  As did continuing to write.  When I first prepped For Balder Walks to be released, I was ecstatic, thinking I hit a home run.  Then I started sending it out for submission, and the replies brought me back down to earth.  I sent it out 36 times and received 36 rejections.  All of the rejections were about 50/50 in their responses.  Some said it was too bleak and others said it should be bleaker.  So I would tweak it accordingly and send it back.  Ultimately I ended up chatting with a literary agent at one of the submission places, and they said (and I paraphrase); it is clear you are proud of the story, and at this point your best option may be looking at self-publishing it.  So I took their advice and have never looked back! 
To me self-publishing, gives me the freedom of releasing what I want, what I enjoy and when I want it.  Usually I am waiting on art-work, but otherwise I get it prepped, edited, formatted and don’t sit on it too long.
Since the release of For Balder Walks and The Fence, I think I have continued to grow and mature as a writer, and now when I look back at a few of the stories in The Fence, I think I could have polished it more, but I am happy with them ultimately.

CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story? 

Oh jeez, what a question!  I am a big fan of twists that you just don’t see coming.  Like with Brother from Ania Ahlborn or The Nightmare Room from Chris Sorensen.  Obviously I enjoy great characters, a good story, but when you get somewhere in the book and something happens and you stop and yell I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!  Then you got me! 

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

I have a number of things actually.  As I answered earlier, I am always all over the place with stuff.  So I am awaiting art work on my 2nd short story compilation book called Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.  I have started book 3 of short stories, tentatively called The Night Crawls In.  Then I have two novels I am working on, one called The Stranger and one called 15 Years.  Then I have my kids action adventure series based on my nephews and nieces.  I love writing the kid’s stuff because it’s so different than the adult horror/thriller stories!  And writing stuff for my nephew Gabe (who has Autism) is amazing.  Just showing him that the sky is the limit and he can become whatever he wants.  He is a voracious reader already!

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?

I am currently reading Wildfire Season by Andrew Pyper, which is phenomenal.  I just started The Wicked Ones by JZ Foster as well.  Then I have Gilchrist from Christian Galacar and then Extinct from Ike Hamill.  I am saving up some coin to get the latest Joe Hill book Strange Weather, and then Stephen King goes and releases a few more books, so those will be in the works here shortly to read!  So many books but so little time!

CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?

The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen.  I finished reading it a few days ago and it was so good.  My only disappointment in the book was that I was done and part 2 isn’t out yet!

CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?

I don’t know if they count as ‘books’ but my all-time favorites are The Mist, The Long Walk and Summer Thunder, all short stories/novellas from Stephen King, although The Long Walk was of course, originally published as Richard Bachman.  From there I love, love the Dark Tower series.
Reading The Mist when I was super young is one of the reasons I am petrified of fog and what may be lurking in it.

CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?

Another tough question.  I don’t know if I could narrow it down to one single movie.  The Thing, Alien, Halloween, anything Freddy.  The Babadook, As Above So Below, Jeepers Creepers, Goodnight Mommy, The Devil’s Pass, The Blair Witch Project, Tusk.  Really anything super creepy or super unsettling that will stay with you.

CHHR: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite album?

Another good but tough question.  I listen to so many different things.  I tend to lean towards heavier than heavy, but I like a mix.  My top albums, which would still be tough; Fun Lovin Criminals – Come Find Yourself, Marilyn Manson – Mechanical Animals, Gorgoroth - Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam, Six Feet Under – Haunted, White Zombie – Astro Creep 2000, Septicflesh – Communion, Cradle of Filth – Thornography, Type O Negative – October Rust, Pantera – Reinventing the Steel, Sam Roberts Band – Lo-Fantasy, Book of Black Earth – Horoskopus, Above and Beyond – We’re All We Need.  I will stop there!  In my novel Invisible, I have over 100 music references in it.

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

I don’t think I have ever really thought about this before.  I would say maybe a bear.  Although I wouldn’t relate to the hibernation part of the animal.

CHHR: What is your favorite beer?

You might want to sit down for this one, and set your drink on a coaster; I don’t drink.
I grew up in a very small town, and while I did drink a small bit when I was younger, myself and my wife (girlfriend back then) really decided, that in order for us to move away and not get caught up in the small town grind, we wouldn’t drink.  I have no problem with other folks enjoying alcohol, but it’s not something I ever joined in.

CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?

I think I am going to have two answers to this; alive and dead.
Alive – for sure Stephen King.  I think that’s an obvious answer, but from all the interviews I have read and following his twitter feed etc, he seems like a down-to-earth legit nice guy, and I would love to hear some of his amazing stories.  Runner up would be Ania Ahlborn.  I love her work and it would be great to pick her brain, especially with her starting out independently.  2nd runner up would be Patrick Rothfuss.  He also seems nice, humble, but then I could ask him about the third installment of the King Killer Chronicles!
Dead – HP Lovecraft without a doubt.  Although it may be heartbreaking for him to hear, that while he died alone and broke, now he is such an influence and so, so recognized.

Instagram: @stevestred
Twitter: @stevestred

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