The Writing of Jane: The 816 Chronicles & Invisible
June 1st, 2019.
A simple date, for some an important one for a variety of reasons. For me, it is the release date of my next novel The Stranger. The Stranger is a crazy, wild, fun ride through the woods and cabin at the summer campground. It was a tough write for me and I hope a hard read for you, the reader, for a few reasons.
But how did I get here? The Stranger marks my second full length novel, and 9th release overall, and in honour of its arrival, I chatted with Gavin about the journey from then to now. Or more accurately, my growth from the beginning. This journey will be told over four installments, with each one focusing on two of my releases. So to start – Gavin asked me about my two earliest releases; the novella Jane: the 816 Chronicles and my first novel Invisible.
KR: Welcome back Steve! Let’s start from the beginning. Tell me a bit about your first novella Jane: The 816 Chronicles.
Thanks for having me Gavin. It’s always fun to be featured here. Most folks see all my featured reviews and some of my columns etc, but I love how much you support the horror genre and just the width of sub-genres within.
As for Jane: the 816 Chronicles that was probably my first real go-around with trying to release something proper. I’d released the short story ‘For Balder Walks’ prior to it and at the same time, I had a meagre email list and a small group of friends and family who were interested in my work. So I started doing a serial release of Jane. I wanted to challenge myself by writing a sci-fi/horror tale, but I don’t believe I’m smart enough in the sci-fi realm to develop something techy, so I went the creature route. Surprisingly people loved the tale and Jane’s grown into many readers fav character of mine. It’s also one of the few tales I’ve released where, at least I think, there’s a happy ending.
The cover is also one a lot of folks love and that’s actually based off of a tattoo I have.
KR: So the story is told in parts?
Yes that’s right. The ebook and paperback are the original Jane parts that I wrote, as well as a bonus epilogue that closes the story off. Although it’s looking like I’m going to revisit it again in the future. Follow up with Rose in the story and move it along further.
KR: Then from there you released Invisible? That book seems to be one that affects people pretty deeply.
Oddly enough, Invisible was a book that took me over 8 years to write, which is far and away longer than my current writing pace is. I typically am getting stuff written, prepped, edited and ready for readers within a year.
KR: Why did that one take so long to write?
For a few reasons really. Life and insecurity. I was writing it at a point in my life where everything was going well. Solid job, athletic aspirations, happily married etc. Then our dog suffered a spinal stroke after jumping off of our bed. He was paralyzed for a few months and we threw all of our savings into getting him to walk again. A lot of folks cough and choke when they hear how much we’ve spent on him, but at that point he was our only child and we weren’t going to let him suffer. We wanted him to have a quality life. So therapy etc.
Then we moved a few times and other events popped up. I finally finished it and then when I re-read it I was a bit surprised with how personal I went. It was cathartic and it got a lot off of my chest. I say about 50% of it is autobiographical, then I wrapped it up with a paranoia inducing lighthouse and a creature feature. I’ve not have many people read it who didn’t say the ending got them in the feels.
But when I first finished it and read it over, I was insecure out putting that stuff all out there.
KR: How did you end up getting over that fear?
I don’t think I ever have haha! I think the response to For Balder Walks and the response to Jane really pushed me to click submit and get it released. I’m also selfish in that I hate when bands take forever to get new music out, and even though I have a very small fan base, I just felt it was a bit selfish on my part to not put something out that I was very proud of, but insecure about. If you can’t handle the heat, don’t go in the boiler room, right?
KR: Invisible originally had a different cover, correct? What made you change it?
A few things really. I had my old high school friend Lee Orr do the cover for For Balder Walks. He was fantastic, but is super busy with his own career. So for Invisible I took a photo of this really creepy tree that we came across on a hike. I ended up finding that when you looked at it on Amazon in regular size or the thumbnail, it just got lost in the details. It was tough to make it out. So when I started working with my regular cover guy now, Mason McDonald, we discussed an updated cover that would feature the story better, but would also look good as a thumbnail. Justin M. Woodward had provided such a great review with the line about ‘A Monster Calls meets Widow’s Point,’ and it just made sense to feature that on the front.
Some folks say they prefer the old one, but the new one is just so much better haha! Crisp, clear and professional looking!
KR: Both of these releases feature a bit of a deeper meaning. Whether that was intentional or not, could you expand on that a bit?
Yes, that’s right. Both were intentional to be honest. The deeper meaning of both was the entire reason I wrote both. In Jane, the central theme or narrative that runs throughout is ‘Hope’. It’s even on the cover haha! I just wanted to create this character that continued to fight for and strive for freedom and it was her undying commitment to the thought that if she just kept hoping it would get better, it would. I think that might be why she’s become such a fav character.
In Invisible, it was more about the pain and struggle in life that we don’t see. This one’s a tough one to expand on because I don’t want to give the ending away. I can say that I do discuss my own struggle with depression and anxiety a lot in it, which doesn’t ruin anything!
KR: In closing, is there anything particular that you took away from releasing either of these?
That’s tough. I think with Jane I was able to develop the suspense aspect of telling a tale. And a bit of marketing. I remember I finished part one and had circulated it a bit. I posted the first two or three lines of part two and I had a dozen or so messages asking me when part two would be available, and that felt really good.
With Invisible, I think I really accepted that once something is released, it’s no longer only mine. I’m fine with negative reviews and folks not liking my stuff, but with Invisible, because so much of it actually, physically happened, I had to let my brain perceive it as fiction and not get caught up in the what if’s.
KR: Next week, I’ll be chatting with Steve about Frostbitten & Left Hand Path.
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark, Bleak Horror author.
Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.
On June 1st, 2019 his second full length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here
Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?
Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.
Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?
But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.
While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.
The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.
The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.
Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.
YOU TAKE FROM ME
I TAKE FROM YOU
Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.
But what if it’s not…
What if there is something out there?
The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”
With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.
Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.
Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…