As we approach the June 1st release of my next novel The Stranger, Gavin from Kendall Reviews kindly invited me to be interviewed. In each interview we look at two of my releases. For Part 2 we focus on my two collections; Frostbitten and Left Hand Path.
The Writing of Frostbitten & Left Hand Path
KR: So now let’s pick up with where you’re at. You’ve released a novella and a novel, which have caught the eye of a few fans, and now you release two short story collections. How did that come about?
Well, in a roundabout way I’d already released a short story collection, at the same time as Invisible. Frostbitten was originally released as The Fence: and Other Sordid Tales. Poorly written, poorly edited and horrible cover. I did the cover myself. I had taken the picture for Invisible and then for The Fence I used the cover creator on Amazon. I loved the look of one of Joe Hill’s releases with the pink coloring, so I tried to match that a bit. Then I became buddies with JZ Foster and he said that I needed a better cover and that the stories were strong but needed to be redone. So I embarked on that. I decided to add in For Balder Walks, removing it as a stand-alone tale and made it track 1 if you will. I got Lee to modify the For Balder Walks cover for Frostbitten and voila. At this time I’d also met David Sodergren through Twitter and he kindly edited the stories and we started working together from that day forward.
As for Left Hand Path, I had another batch of tales sitting there and decided I wanted to send those out into the world as well. And if you’ve followed any of my literary journey, you know that release was a saga in itself.
KR: Well, tell me about that. Tell us about that. You’ve always been brutally honest and pretty open with people, whether through your social media accounts or through your blog.
Yes, thanks. I try haha! I’m not here to rip folks off or take their money and never be heard from again. I’m here to release the best stories I can and to leave a physical item for my son to read and love in the future. But man alive, Left Hand Path went from being a love to an issue to a love again!
It started off innocently enough. When The Fence first came out, I did what you’re never supposed to do. It was out and I offered it up for free on Amazon. Now, back then I had developed a bit of a relationship with a few bookstagrammers on Instagram and I cold messaged a few to say ‘hey, just a heads up, my collection is free!’ Some replied, some didn’t, but one who did, and who since has become a big supporter was Deb Gillis, aka @dlgillis20 on Insta. She takes gorgeous pictures of books, but we’d chatted and she snagged a freebie. Mason did an absolutely stunning cover for Left Hand Path and I sent her a copy as a thanks for her support. She took a phenomenal photo of it and posted about it, at the same time as I did a freebie promo and then I found out it wasn’t edited so well.
KR: Can you explain that a bit?
Do I have too? Haha! Well – I’d paid someone to edit it, and I guess it wasn’t edited so well. Now the fault lies with me 1000% for two reasons – 1 either I didn’t upload the correct file and 2 – I didn’t inspect the file to ensure it had been edited. Blind faith I guess. I was just so excited to get the stories out there, because I felt like these short tales were the best I’d ever done, and then whammy. That was my first 1 star review. I messaged Sodergren and he kindly edited them for me and I republished it and then re-offered it up for freebies, but some damage had definitely been done.
KR: For those who are not familiar, what type of damage?
Well obviously folks won’t want to take a chance on an author when they get a 1 star review for editing. I’ve updated the description to say it’s been re-edited and reformatted, but that may not be enough.
Secondly – I’d been approached by a horror reviewing group asking if I’d be willing to send them copies of Left Hand Path for review. (Apparently they only accept physical copies for review purposes) They’d seen Deb’s photo and review of Left Hand Path and thought it’d looked like something they’d be interested in. So I had copies made up and shipped out to them and then it turns out the editing sucks I have to get it re-edited. I couldn’t afford to replace the copies. If you look at some hard indie author math – I essentially make about $2 per ebook. So to send out 10 copies of a physical book I need to sell close to 75 ebooks to recoup that money. It’s tough. I’ve since sent them updated pdf’s and mobi’s for review, but at this point I don’t think it’ll be reviewed. I had heard at one time they were going to read it during the start of the year, but it’s May now. Think that ship has sailed which is a great shame.
KR: Editing gaffe aside, the stories have appeared to be well received. Can you elaborate a bit maybe first on what folks have thought of the stories from the first collection, Frostbitten?
Well Frostbitten has the benefit of opening with ‘For Balder Walks’ which was my first real story released. It’s a grim tale, about a father struggling with raising his young son while food becomes scarce and winter arrives. I’ve had a few people ask if it had anything to do with the arrival of my son, but the reality of it is, For Balder was written before we found out we were expecting! I’ve written another story in that world – Poppa? Which you kindly hosted here last winter, (KR: You can read ‘Poppa?’ here) and I’m revisiting the world in my third novel ‘Piece of Me,’ which will come out in December of this year (2019).
Jim, Mr. Tross, and Edge of the Woods are the other stories a lot of people really love, and of course Time Out Noose, which really kind of cemented my love of writing ‘western-horror.’
Jim is a funny ‘horror’ story in that it’s a tale about a guy who finds out he’s going to die, but he doesn’t know how. Seems to have resonated with people.
And Edge of the Woods is my first real stab at ‘coming-of-age’ story-telling, which I embraced with ‘The Girl Who Hid in the Trees’ earlier this year.
KR: Now tell me a bit about the stories in Left Hand Path. If I remember correctly, two of your novellas were set to appear in it originally?
Originally Wagon Buddy and YURI were going to be included as stories, but as the writing process went on, I found that the two should be featured on their own. They were replaced with The Witch and Wardrobe Malfunction. Funny enough, a number of folks have commented and suggested that they’d wished those two were also stand-alones, haha!
KR: Left Hand Path starts off with two stories but they are essentially the same tale, just one is good and one is bad. Why did you decide to do that?
To the Moon – Joy and Sadness was birthed from a single story. I wanted to write this story about a boy enamoured with the moon. But I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write a happy story or a sad story. So I decided to write both and ultimately adjusted each’s time period. You could almost make a case for the second story having the main character reincarnated from the first. The bad tale is a western-horror type tale, while the good one is a modern day tale where the character becomes an astronaut and goes to the moon.
KR: You also include a post-apocalyptic tale with Why Do Babies Cry? What propelled you to write that?
It was inspired by the Stephen King short story ‘Summer Thunder.’ I read that tale when it first came out and it’s pretty much stayed with me since then. I also enjoy the series ‘The 100’ and kind of merged the two plots together and gave my spin on it. Some folks have really enjoyed it, others have said it made them very angry! Either way, job accomplished!
KR: You finish the book off with some stories that directly link to Frostbitten, as well as some of your other work. Was that purposely done?
Yeah, for a few reasons. I typically tend to tie in 95% of all my releases. The Stranger coming out is related to these stories as is Jane. I think of it as rewarding those folks who like my work, by giving them little interconnected bits that make them think ‘hey!’ I’m no Stephen King, but I always loved his little interconnected bits, so I wanted to do that for my readers. Also – I wanted to challenge myself to be able to keep things straight and make things interesting.
As for them linking – the stories can be read with no prior knowledge, or haven’t having read Frostbitten. But if you have then they add a bit of extra bonus for you. 17 Hours has been pretty well received, as much for the drugged out ex-musician, as for the appearance of the Tooth Collector.
KR: Well, to finish this part off, we discussed about how in Jane and Invisible you had some main theme or narrative running throughout. Did you try and do the same here with this two collections?
Yes and no.
With Frostbitten I worked the stories to all be fairly sad and sorrow filled. The only story there that can even really be argued about having a ‘happy ending’ would be Mr. Tross and if you’ve read that story you’d still probably say it wasn’t that happy haha!
With Left Hand Path – I tried to write tales that followed the ideology put forth through the left hand path of Western esotericism. Each story loosely follows some of the freedoms put forth in the existing documents. Loosely is the key word here haha!
KR: Next week, I’ll be chatting with Steve about Wagon Buddy & Yuri.
Part one of our interview can be read here
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…