Please Welcome Author Steven Manchester
Steven Manchester is the author of four #1 bestsellers: Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island. His long-anticipated novel, The Changing Season, is currently available for pre-order. Steve is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian. He has written A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette) and The Thursday Night Club (novella), while his work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Three of Steven’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series and he is the producer playwright of Three Shoeboxes. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.
His latest release now available for preorder to be released February 22, 2016
1. What is the title and genre of your current of your book?
The Changing Season, a coming of age novel
:Synopsis: This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy: one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He’d fill the hours playing with Jimmy—his canine best buddy—going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they’d do before Billy left. But that was before the accident that shook the entire town. It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck. And it was before Vicki. This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn’t truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple.
An enormously touching, richly textured, deeply moving novel of new adulthood, The Changing Season is an experience to savor—with special appeal to dog lover’s.
2. What inspired you to write this book?
My children; three of them are either in high school or college, so I wanted to capture this phase of life in a novel
3. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes…that none of us is ever alone and we all have to step out of childhood and into adulthood, but the choices you make at that period of time can have long-lasting effects.
4. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Jimmy—the lovable mutt—because he is unconditional love.
5. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Charlie’s mother; rather than be supportive she couldn’t care less about him.
6. What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author, his creator.
He likes me very much, or will when he grows up . I am a part of him and he is a reflection of me and my children.
7. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The last chapter, where everything gets tied up. I’d tell you why but that would be giving way too much away.
8. How much of the book is real life experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A great deal of the book is based on real life. All fiction has some connection to what the author knows, who he knows and where he’s been.
9. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in creating this book?
Time is always the challenge. With a family and other responsibilities, time is always the greatest challenge in writing a novel.
10. What books have most influenced your life, your writing?
Truthfully, every book I’ve ever read—the good and the bad—has had an impact on my writing.
11. If you had to choose, which author would you consider a mentor?
Lou Aronica…hands down.
12. What book are you reading now?
Medicine Man by Jerry Amernic
13. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Help spread the word and post a brief review on Amazon and elsewhere.
14. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
For the first time in my writing career, I’m considering writing a sequel—and it’s for The Changing Season. I love the characters and I think there’s more story to tell (as Billy goes through college).
15. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism: “I could not connect with the characters.”
The best compliment: “Steven Manchester is the Norman Rockwell of Literature!”
16. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
In the novel, Ashes, two middle-aged brothers, Jason and Jeremy, have been estranged for nearly thirty 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.
17. Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
Be true to yourself, always. Write constantly. Keep the faith!!! And NEVER, EVER, EVER quit. Most people in this industry would agree that more than talent or skill or even luck, perseverance is the one trait that will always get the job done. Knock on every door you can, and keep knocking. I promise that eventually someone will open and the warmth you feel on your face will more than validate every hour spent alone in the darkness.
18. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I cannot thank you enough for sharing this journey with me. With readers to connect with, there’s no reason to write.
19. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Links to All Online Retailers (for print and eBook versions): http://thestoryplant.com/our-authors/steve-manchester/the-changing-season-by-steven-manchester/
The Changing Season Promo Page: http://thestoryplant.com/our-authors/steve-manchester/the-changing-season-by-steven-manchester/
20. Steven, Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
The beach was nearly deserted. After erecting their tent and establishing a cozy campsite, Jimmy trotted to the water. As Billy looked on, the silver-faced mutt walked in slowly—like an old man easing himself into a warm bath—the reckless abandon he’d once been known for completely gone.
Jimmy swam for a bit before sitting in the shallows with the water line at his chest.
Billy waded in and took a seat beside him where they sat for a long while, looking out onto the horizon. While the tide gently lapped at their chests, Billy wrapped his arm around Jimmy’s shoulder. “This is the life,” he whispered.
A seagull landed on the sand a few feet from them. Jimmy just sat there, watching the squawking bird with mild interest. “You must be tired, Jimmy. Back in the day, you would have chased that vulture until you collapsed.”
Jimmy stood and took chase, but it was a haphazard effort.
“Half-stepper,” Billy teased the dog and stood to go for a walk and dry off.
As they strolled along the coastline, Jimmy shook the salt water from his coat. He also took breaks, long breaks, acting like he was exploring.
“I know you’re stalling,” Billy told him, “and it’s okay.” At least your spirit’s still willing, Billy thought, getting choked up.
When Jimmy slowed even more, Billy headed for the campsite. The sea grasses had lost their summer hue and were now brittle, snapping in half as Billy and Jimmy walked through the abandoned dunes.
They reached camp and sat together again where Billy discovered that the pads on Jimmy’s paws were dry and cracked. One was even bleeding, which Jimmy licked for some time. Billy pulled the big moose into his lap. “Too many miles on those old tires, huh?” he whispered, before noticing the patch of missing fur on the mutt’s hind quarter—a souvenir from a vicious fight he’d won in his glory days. A mean stray had swaggered into the backyard looking for trouble. Unwilling to let it go, Jimmy gave the growling stranger all the trouble he could handle. That one battle scar had been rubbed and patted thousands of times throughout the years, the family being forever grateful for Jimmy’s sacrificial love and fearless devotion. As they sat side-by-side, Billy rubbed it again.
Resting his head in Billy’s lap, Jimmy’s eyes squinted while he enjoyed the heavy scratching.
Billy worked his hand up the old dog’s body, stroking Jimmy’s head and kneading the scruff of his neck. “I love you, buddy,” he said. “You know that, right?”
Jimmy licked Billy’s hand.
“And I need to go away pretty soon…to college.”
Jimmy licked him again.
“The last thing in the world I want is to leave you, but I…” Billy stopped from going any further. A wave of tears was waiting to break on the shore just behind his eyes.
As though Jimmy understood, he nestled deeper into Billy’s lap and began giving Billy’s hand a thorough bath.
With his free hand, Billy rubbed Jimmy’s chest up and down—fast and hard—exactly the way the old mutt liked it. As he did, he looked up and noticed a bank of even darker clouds had gathered above. “Looks like rain,” he told Jimmy. “Hopefully, there’s no thunder.”
They napped in the tent, Jimmy appearing much less worried about his nails on the air mattress than Billy. They curled up together, the rain pitter-pattering on the light canvas above. “It’s just a shower,” Billy told him. As good a guess as any meteorologist would make, Billy thought, though it doesn’t matter either way. As they began to nod off in each other’s arms, Jimmy snored peacefully. Billy stared at his best friend’s face, studying every nook and cranny—memorizing every crease and line. But it was silly. He knew Jimmy’s face better than his own. And I’m going to miss it something awful, he thought, swallowing back the lump in his throat. While the rain picked up and began thumping on the tent’s roof, Billy closed his eyes.
When they awoke from their afternoon siesta, Jimmy stood on the wobbly air mattress and yipped in pain. Once the sound of playful banter, Billy knew it was from pain now. “You okay?” he asked, massaging the dog’s haunches and working out the knots as he’d watched Arlene do many times. “Feel better now?” he asked, stopping.
Jimmy reached up with his right paw and scratched Billy’s hand, gesturing that he continue.
After a few more minutes, Billy stopped again. “Better?” he asked.
Jimmy licked Billy’s face once before slowly stepping off the jelly-like mattress.
Billy hurried to throw two baby aspirin into a glob of peanut butter and fed it to the mutt.
When they came out of hibernation, the air was cool and fresh. The trees glistened from the rain. Billy looked up. The clouds had dispersed, leaving behind the last of the day’s light.
The sunset was a palate of coral pinks and greens, with swirls of purple brushed in. The light softened—like the ambiance of an expensive romantic dinner, before fading into the distance and becoming twilight. There was a giant pause, as if the world collectively exhaled after filing another day into the history books. Billy and Jimmy sat together on a sturdy fold-out chair, silently sharing the magic. Billy took a deep breath and sighed.
Jimmy did the same.
Billy laughed. “Copycat,” he whispered.
The beach had always been the place where Jimmy was free to romp and roam—to explore. And each year he did just that. But not this year. Jimmy nuzzled into Billy’s lap again, where he awaited the attention Billy had always showered on him.
“You’re a good boy,” Billy whispered, as he scratched the gentle canine under his chin. He shook his head. “Although you haven’t been a boy for a long time.”
In what seemed like minutes, a million flickering stars covered the dark sky. Billy and Jimmy got up to take another stroll. They walked a few feet when they happened upon a giant puddle. Moonlight was trapped in the puddle, along with Billy and Jimmy’s reflections—the two of them standing knee to shoulder. While Billy smiled, Jimmy bent at the water’s edge and began to drink, sending ripples through the portrait. “Don’t drink that, Jimmy,” Billy scolded him. “You have fresh water back in the tent.”
Jimmy paid him no mind and kept lapping loudly, slobbering all over himself and depositing an equal amount of back wash.
Billy shook his head. “Whatever, it’s your stomach.”
They made it down to the water’s edge again and stood together in the silence for a long, long while. It was as though neither of them wanted the night to end, as though both of them needed more time together. Billy closed his eyes and listened to the tide. The ebb and flow was constant but random, like surround sound lapping the shore on the left, right and center.