Saturday, June 16, 2012



Hello Steve, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. It is a pleasure to have the chance to get to know more about you and your writing. First tell us about your newest novel and why you decided to write it.

INTO THE MIST: SILVER HAND is book one of a two-part YA fantasy series with adventures both in this world and in an alternate reality in which 13-year-old Gabe Wrenn becomes a central player in an epic battle of Good vs. Evil.

But at its heart the story’s about Gabe’s struggles in this world to deal with his epilepsy and the way other people treat him as a result of it: His mom hovers over him. His brother bullies him. He has almost no friends. Gabe’s come to believe his epilepsy makes him an abnormal freak. On the other hand, Gabe’s dad believes his son’s epilepsy is responsible for making him a gifted graphic artist and writer. And his best and only friend, Ellie, thinks it gives him access to the supernatural world. To them, Gabe’s epilepsy is not a disability but an extraordinary ability.

This conflict, abnormal vs. gifted, is the engine powering this series. Meanwhile, the reader should be experiencing another conflict: “Is this adventure real or all in Gabe’s head?”

Now for the second part of your question: Why did I decide to write this story? Back in 2009, I came up with idea for a fantasy story in which a teenage boy has these really bizarre and terrifying experiences that he later has difficulty remembering. After his parents find him bloody and screaming and running naked through the park behind their house, brandishing a make-shift spear, they’re beside themselves about what is happening to their son and what to do about it.

Well, I loved the situation and believed that I could concoct a decent novel out of the mystery. I also thought it might somehow provide me with an opportunity to explore the hazy boundary between fantasy and reality – a particularly fascinating theme.

The question was: Where should I begin?

Being a parent, I knew this boy’s folks would most likely rush him either to the emergency room or to his doctor, so I called our pediatrician and asked him what he’d make of such a case. I expected him to brush me off or tell me the situation wasn’t plausible. Instead he said, “Wait a minute! I think I might know what he has.” Then he asked me to come in the following afternoon to talk about it.

“I’d say your boy’s showing symptoms of TLE,” said Dr. Miller the next day. “What?” I asked. “TLE. Temporal Lobe Epilepsy,” he repeated. I loved how seriously he was taking the case of my mystery boy. “What makes you so sure?” I asked. “I’ll show you.” He whipped around to his desktop PC and googled the term temporal lobe epilepsy.

For the better part of an hour, we sat cheek by jowl poring over online articles and talking about simple and complex partial seizures (which are short of the shuddering grand mal seizures everyone associates with epilepsy), and a host of other related issues. “The way I see it,” concluded Dr. Miller, “your boy had one of these more localized seizures right here.” He tapped the right side of his head just above the ear.

“Anyway he could have hallucinated an experience, which he then acted out, although it was very real to him. You see it’s as if the portal to the otherworld was in his brain, which more or less blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.” I felt a seizing in my chest. “Wow!” In that instant, I knew I had a story to tell. Yes, I had a ton of research to do before I could start writing it, but that didn’t dampen my spirits.

Tell us about some of your hobbies, things you like to do in your spare time.

What spare time? Seriously, my teenage son is a passionate lacrosse player, and I spend most of what would be my spare time being a year-round lax dad, coach, etc. But don’t feel sorry for me. I have a good time getting together with the other lax parents, and I always take a load of books with me to games and tourneys.

What is the one most rewarding thing in your life right now?

Well, that would have to be my family. Yes, publishing my first novel is hugely rewarding, but it wouldn’t have happened without the support of my wife and son. That sounds seriously old-fashioned, but it’s true.

When reading for pleasure do you tend to stick to the same genre you write or do you like to read other genres as well?

Oh, I read all over the place. I always have at least three or four books going at once: fiction, non-fiction. Right now, I’m reading a non-fiction account of the War in the Pacific, a fascinating book about Jungian psychology, and a couple of novels, including George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons, Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock, and Robertson Davies’ The Cunning Man.

When was it that you realized writing was what you wanted to do with your life?

I’ve always known that, and I’ve always written for a living, starting out as a newspaper reporter way back when (date unspecified .

When can we expect your next book out and can you give us a sneak peek?

The second book in my INTO THE MIST series is schedule to come out sometime in 2013. For those who have read SILVER HAND and taken me to task for the cliff-hanger ending, I don’t think you’ll be let down. The story gets a running start and never lets up. Of course, it benefits from all of the set-ups in book one.

Back in your high school career, who was the one teacher you would say made a profound difference in your life, if any?

My history teacher, Skip Squires. Amazing man. Always took my wild notions seriously, and made me feel as if I could do whatever I set my heart on.

What dreams do you have for future generations that you'd like to share with others?

I don’t want to go an a tirade. It’s simple: We’ve got to stop adjusting the deck chairs on the Titanic. We are ruining our planet. We’ve got to find a way to turn it around. It starts with each and every one of us. Do the little stuff. My thing is recycling. I’m relentless about it. And it’s time-consuming. But that’s what makes me feel as if I’m doing my part.

One off the board question I like to ask, is what are your views as far as 2012, and do you believe in the Mayan Calendar?

I haven’t given the whole 2012 world ending a second thought. If the question is do I think the world is going to end in 2012, the answer is no, and if I’m wrong there won’t be anyone around to call me on it.

Finally, do you have any advice you'd like to give to other aspiring authors, also please leave us your links where we can find out more about you.

Never stop learning the craft, never settle for mediocre work, and if you’re willing to do the first two, never give up on yourself. I’d rather have success (of course) or failure vs. mediocrity.

Steve Finegan
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