Interview with Steve Bolin!
By: Kevin ‘Myth Master’ Adams

Hello all and welcome to The World of Myth Interview page! With Terry stepping down as editor and resident Myth Master, the torch has been passed to me. I am your new probing host, Kevin ‘Myth Master’ Adams. It is now my responsibility to delve into the mind of my victims and pluck from them the answers that need to be heard.

This time around I want to warmly welcome to the ‘hot spot’ our new Editor in Chief: Steve Bolin.

M.M.: With Terry gone what do you plan to do to take TWoM to the next level?

S.B.: As with any new job, there is a break-in period that includes a steep learning curve. My first task is to acquaint myself with the specifics of publishing TWoM on a regular basis. In the future, I’d like to see the readership (hits per month) increase as well as submissions from new authors. This magazine exists primarily to showcase new talent and to entertain our readers. The only way to go to “the next level” is to pay attention to the feedback on our forum and do our best to give readers what they want.

M.M.: What type of experience do you bring to the table?

S.B.: Shortly after graduating from high school I was married on my 19th birthday. A year later I enlisted in the US Navy and traveled to dozens of foreign locations during my four year stint – including Turkey, France, Italy, Monte Carlo, Finland and even a trip across the Arctic Circle. At the end of that time, I turned down a re-enlistment bonus of $30,000 so I could return to civilian life.

From 1993 until 2003, I was employed at General Motors. There, I underwent a four year apprenticeship and became a journeyman Machine Repairman/Machinist. During that time I attended IUPUI, Ivy Tech, and various in-house classes provided through my employer. While this was all good enough to certify me as a master mechanic, I hope to one day return to college and finish the last remaining credits of my degree.

On writing: My first official publication was a humorous poem which appeared in my high school’s annual “Pierian,” a publication which both raised funds for our school and showcased student talent. I also penned a children’s poem entitled “There’s a Human Under My Bed,” in 1995. It appeared in Half Price Bookstore’s 5th Annual Bedtime Story Contest as one of 20 finalists out of more than 1,000 submissions. Another poem, a dark fantasy piece, appeared in Black Petals after that. I also wrote horror for Dark Moon Rising until they closed shop. My first submission at TWoM appeared in issue #15, a poem of dark fantasy entitled “Call of the Dead.” My work has appeared in every issue since then, in a variety of genres. During my tenure here, I joined the Central Indiana Writer’s Association. Additionally, I am the co-author of Black Rising, a novel of high fantasy published early in 2006.

M.M.: What do you think is expected of you as the new Editor in Chief?

S.B.: My job is to read all submissions – stories, poems, movie and book reviews, featured writer, interviews, etc. and, if accepted for publication, edit were necessary. It is my desire to follow Terry’s example and work with authors to encourage, inspire and challenge them to continuously improve their craft.

M.M.: And now let’s delve a little deeper. What is your one true passion, what one thing drives you more than anything else?

S.B.: My number one passion in life is God; everything else is secondary to my Christianity. He has given me the talents I possess and a wonderful family who loves and supports me.

M.M.: Does your wife or other loved ones read your work and get ‘creeped’ and then can’t sleep?

S.B.: My wife and son read almost everything I write, providing insightful suggestions or pointing out weak storytelling. Neither of them gets ‘creeped’ out, but they often call my stories “strange” or “weird.” However, I have had readers comment that they found some of my tales eerie.

M.M.: Has anyone you know refused to read a story of yours due to its ‘unusual’ content?

S.B.: Of all the stories I’ve written, my wife has only refused to read one, my short horror story The Blade (issue #29). This is because she has an aversion to knives – for reasons I won’t discuss here.

M.M.: I know that you were a GM certified master mechanic, does any of that training influence your life or your writing?

S.B.: I doubt that a poet or author can experience anything in life which doesn’t influence his or her writing.

M.M.: What are you personally scared of? What strikes fear into your mind?

S.B.: I can’t imagine a greater terror in this life than to lose my son – something that nearly came to pass when he was five. Next to that I think this interview ranks fairly high on the scary scale.

M.M.:What is the scariest horror movie you have ever seen?

S.B.: Horror movies rarely scare me – and I’ve seen plenty of them. I guess I’m just jaded when it comes to watching flicks. Maybe it’s because, in the back of my mind, I know they’re not real. The atrocities splattered on the evening news every night are what truly scare me. And the fact that many people seem to thrive on watching it scares me even more.

M.M.: Briefly describe any ‘rituals’ that help you to get in the mood for writing. Do you listen to heavy metal or light a candle or two?

S.B.: Sorry to disappoint you but no heavy metal or candles are needed to “get me in the mood.” I don’t know if this counts as a ritual or not but my son’s rotund cat often perches on the leg rest of my easy chair when I sit down to write. My wife calls him my muse; I call him my moose. I have no idea why he enjoys hanging around me… I don’t even like cats. Hmm… I think I just figured it out.

M.M.: If you were to get discovered by a big publishing firm, who would you call first?

S.B.: The E.R. I’ll probably be having a heart attack.

M.M.: With the new post of Editor in Chief will you still submit a regular piece for ‘your’ fans?

S.B.: Yes, I will try to post stories on a regular… wait a minute. I have fans?

M.M.: Any regrets in life?

S.B.: Appointing you as the new Myth Master comes to mind.

M.M.: As Editor in Chief, what advice would you give to new writers?

S.B.: I can list a few ideas that might be helpful.

1.   Decide what genre interests you and read the books of successful authors who have been published by established companies (Tor, DAW, Ace, Del Ray, etc.). If you’re interested in writing fantasy, read Terry Goodkind, Dennis McKiernan or any of a dozen others. If you’re interested in writing horror, read Dean Koontz, Clive Barker or others. After you’ve read enough books, you’ll eventually get a feel for how words should flow and how characters and plots should be developed.

2.   I cannot overemphasize this next point. The first draft of your story is simply a sketching pad. Plot summaries and outlines are good references when writing your draft but are less important with short stories than with novels. Regardless of whether or not you use an outline, focus only on the story. Don’t worry about grammar, sentence structure, spelling, etc. while writing the draft. Concentrate solely on translating the pictures in your head into words on paper.

3.   Another word about draft writing. When you write, try to do so without distraction if possible. For example, writing on a computer can be distracting because the blasted machine relentlessly points out every little error you make along the way (mine does anyway). This is all well and good if you’re editing, but not if you’re drafting. It is for this reason that I prefer writing most of my drafts in long hand, on spiral bound notebooks.

4.   When your rough draft is finished, type it into a good word processor such as MS-Word, double spaced with one inch margins. During this process, both you and the computer will catch a multitude of errors. At this time only worry about correcting blatantly obvious errors such as spelling, misplaced quotations, extra spaces between words and incomplete sentences. When finished inputting the rough draft, do a word count and make a note of it.

5.   The first revision comes next. For me, this is the most difficult and time consuming step of all. Print out the chapter or section to be edited and set a goal of reducing the total word count by no less than 10%. Scrutinize each sentence and see if it’s possible to say the same thing using fewer words. Take this sentence for example: “Bob didn’t want to bother Mary any more than he had already bothered her so he decided to leave her alone and ask someone else for help.” This could be re-written to read, “Not wanting to bother Mary further, Bob decided to leave her alone and seek help elsewhere.” This re-write cuts 11 words from the original 27, without losing any of the meaning.

6.   Enter the revisions into your computer and look for grammatical, punctuation and additional spelling errors. This is where the power of your word processor shines. If you have MS-Word, you can set it to watch for run on sentences, split infinitives, clichés, passive writing and more. Make use of your thesaurus to reduce repetitive words when appropriate. Also, remember that the computer is not as smart as you and will not catch errors such as “Eye love ewe.”

7.   At this point, have someone, other than yourself, read your story. Sometimes others will catch mistakes or plot inconsistencies that you didn’t notice the first time through. If they ask a question about any portion of your story, a re-write may be necessary to clarify what you’re trying to say. When Kevin and I wrote Black Rising, we must have let nearly half a dozen people read it. If two or more asked the same question, we re-wrote the relevant text to eliminate the confusion.

8.   Another tactic, well suited for beginners, is to read your story aloud or have someone read it aloud to you. It’s a good bet that if the words don’t flow smoothly off the tongue of the mouth, they won’t flow smoothly off the tongue of the mind.

9.   If you’re writing a novel or novella, repeat the steps outlined above until your story is complete. If desired, perform the process once again for your second revision. Personally, I like to leave my freshly edited story alone for at least a month, if not more, and let it “cure.” After this time I can read my story with a new perspective and better perform the second (or third) revision.

10. Now it’s time to submit your story. If you get rejection slips, don’t take it personally. If you want to “test the waters” in a friendly environment, I suggest submitting here, to The World of Myth. While I can’t promise to accept every submission that comes across my desk, I will attempt to explain why a story doesn’t work and often give constructive criticism when I can. No one who submits to TWoM will ever have to worry about receiving a nasty rejection slip from me saying that “You suck as a writer!” For the stories I do accept, I edit only where necessary. Writers rarely catch every mistake. (myself included)

M.M.: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

S.B.: Earlier I mentioned that I was a Christian. That probably sounds strange coming from a guy who primarily writes dark fiction. However, I see writing as a kind of outlet for a variety of emotions and thoughts. This is not to say that I only write when I’m depressed or angry – far from it – but we all have a “dark side” whether we want to admit it or not.

The process is not unlike traditional therapy where a psychologist suggests writing feelings down on paper or journaling as a way to vent. For example, my father was a heavy smoker for years. Watching his health slowly deteriorate left me angry at tobacco companies after his death. Unable to take revenge on them, I did the next best thing. I wrote Smoke Scream (published this month in the horror section) a story where justice prevails – even if it’s from beyond the grave.

I also mentioned that I’d like to see a greater percentage of our readers voting on each story they read. Even if you don’t like a tale, vote anyway. If you have negative criticism to dish out on the forums, make sure you use tact so your comments are constructive. Tact is telling someone to “go jump in a lake” in such a way that they actually look forward to the trip.

Lastly, I would ask all our readers to spread the word about The World of Myth. We want to see new talent and increased readership. Tell everyone to join our mailing list so they won’t miss a single issue. The sign up form is near the bottom right of our Home page.

M.M.: Well. That is all for now. In closing I would like to thank Steve for taking the time to let me interrogate him. So, until I hunt down and pummel my next victim with marvelous, murderous, mind-numbing questions, please take care.

Kevin ‘Myth Master’ Adams

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