Interviews

Interview with Author Steven Day

What is the name of your blog or book and how did you get started?

I live in Portland, Oregon now but I spent my twenties hitchhiking around to meditation centers and traveling all over America and Internationally. I was looking for the meaning of life and trying to figure out if God exists.  It was an incredible time, meeting and helping people, and going on crazy adventures. I found meditation and yoga, and lots of drugs, and sex, and rock and roll (and kirtan and techno) too. It was a wild ride and I felt like Jack in the Titanic most of the time, leaning over the bow of the ship screaming, “I am the king of the world.” I did eventually find the answers I was seeking, which is a miracle in and of itself, and something I wouldn’t trade for the world. 

After more than a decade of insanity, I moved to Portland to settle down and to be around artists and to learn to write. This city has always been an inspiration and the lifestyle has always been a good fit for me. I’ve been based here since, and I think after a lot of work, I’m starting to become a better writer. 

I’m 38 years old now and I just finished my first novel, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, which I’m giving away for free on my website: sexartandgod.com. We’ve never been able to legitimately do something like give away a book and have it be available to every human with a computer or phone or tablet before and I wanted to be a part of that and also just to be heard and to get read. When I put the website and book up we were all in quarantine and there was of course a chance I could have died and I kinda bucket listed the book out into the world. Fingers crossed for the Netflix adaptation and the big publishing contract for the next two. 

The book, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, is the story of a female playwright, Jessie, who becomes famous for a highschool play she wrote and produced. It’s about her struggle to find herself and to contribute something deep and real and powerful in a world that is only interested in shallow, empty, entertainment. She is the artist of integrity struggling through poverty and slamming into the patriarchy and going up against it with everything she has. 

It’s also my attempt at working in a literary form created by John Stienbeck. He created the form for Of Mice and Men, the play/novelette, and then he used it subsequently, turning it into what he called the play/novel, for Burning Bright. My version is elegantly called, the limited series/novel, which is the modernized version of the form, the idea being adaptation by one of the streaming giants eventually. 

What is your favorite food?

As a fledgling creative, I’ve been working in the restaurant industry here in Portland, so I’m a little bit of a foodie but also a flexitarian who doesn’t cook much meat. That being said, chicken wings! Really really fucking hot chicken wings are my favorite food. I love hot sauce in general and I do shots of it sometimes. It’s a drug. Capsaicin, which is what makes hot peppers hot, is my favorite drug, and I’m a junky for it. 

What foods do you crave all the time?

People might hate this response but I crave salads with oil and vinegar and kombucha and blue cheese crumbles for lunch and then I just always crave yogurt and granola. I probably have an addiction to vinegar which is why I love hot sauce too, because they are mostly vinegar based. I also really crave super super hot chicken wings. Here in Portland we have this wing place called Fire On the Mountain, and they have a chicken wing challenge. You eat 12 of the el hefe wings in 18 minutes and you get a picture of yourself on the wall with your burning bright lips. It’s my favorite place in Portland, and that’s saying a lot in a city with great food. 

What is your favorite comfort food?

Pho. Mac and Cheese. Chicken wings, fries, blue cheese, and celery sticks.  

What advice do you have for new writers just starting out?

My answer to this is a little controversial but I always answer with a question. Can you play an instrument or can you draw or paint? Or do you have any other creative abilities? If you answer yes to either of those questions you should seriously consider them both. Writing is really hard and takes years to get good at. If you write a novel you’re going to spend six months to three years writing and then the world won’t magically line up to read your book. 

Books require long commitments from the author but they also require long commitments from the audience. The audience has to give you their time and it can take days, weeks, or months to read a book. A song is a couple minutes long. You can look at a painting in a matter of seconds. Books are different. It’s the hardest medium. Period. 

So, the question is, how much do you love the writing itself? Because if you’re just looking for some kind of creative success and you can write music or paint a picture, visual art doesn’t require much commitment from the audience or nearly as much commitment from the creator. I’m very close friends with multiple professional painters and musicians. My friends who are great painters spend about eight to a hundred hours painting a picture. A writer will spend that much time on a short story. It can take thousands of hours to write a book. Writing is a long slog. 

If you love the writing process and you don’t care what happens, you just have to write, then welcome to Hell. You’re at least in interesting company. 

What helps you to stay motivated and keep writing?

I still believe that of all the creative mediums, writing is the most powerful. Writing can change people’s lives and it can change the world. It’s worth every moment of my time just on the chance that I might create something that makes the world a better place. It’s worth sacrificing my time and energy for that possibility. I believe in the power of the written word. It has, and will continue to shape and change human history. Every movie, every video game, article, essay, book, they all depend on the written word. 

What has influenced you the most as a writer?

When I was fifteen I read Alan Watts book, The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, and it completely derailed my life. I spent most of my teens and twenties on the spiritual quest to find enlightenment. To my own satisfaction, I found God and Truth and my work is trying to be a modern, pop cultural expression of timeless truth and spiritual wisdom but in a fun, sexy, hip way, that doesn’t bore the audience…and isn’t preaching or preachy. 

What are you reading right now?

Twitter. All the news everywhere online. My own work. I’m my biggest fan and my worst critic. 

What is a typical day of writing look like for you?

I’m a morning pages person. I wake up and have coffee and I sit and write for at least an hour. If I’m working on a longer project, like a novel or screenplay, I follow coffee with a snack (yogurt and granola or nuts and fruits) and tea and I write and snack and drink tea for two or three hours until lunch (usually three hours but if I get lost in it, sometimes it’s five hours.) I eat salad or a sandwich for lunch and then I like to go on a walk or hike for about an hour/hour and a half. If I’m writing in the city it’s usually a bike ride. 

During the walk or ride, the whole time I’m writing in my head, working things out, taking notes on my phone. I’m pretty obsessive when I’m deep in a project. I usually break the story on these walks, meaning I fully flesh out the plot and figure out what happens where and when. These walks/rides are integral to my process. All my best ideas come from them. I come back to my desk in the afternoon and sit in front of the computer (I love to type. That’s how I do it. I don’t like to write with a pen almost at all) and I write for another two-three hours. 

Then I’m usually tired so I have dinner, and then after food I go on another bike ride or walk, working out whatever needs to be worked out in my head, and then I come back in the evening, and sit down for another two hours or so. During this time I get really creative. I write in my most poetic in the evening. Sometimes I drink wine at this time. Or beer. But I write better on wine. It makes me really French and lovely. 

I also read at night for one or two hours when I’m doing the bulk of the words on paper draft. Once I finish the words on paper draft and move on to the editing phase, I do a lot of drafts, which involves reading my work over and over, so during this part of the process, I don’t read at night because I have been reading all day usually and my eyes are too tired to read.  During the editing process, I like to watch movies or drink wine and listen to music. If I drink too much, it hurts my writing the next day, so I try to be careful. 

When I’m doing something long, I write every day for five to fourteen hours a day, until I become exhausted and I have to take a day off, which is about once every ten days. I tend to isolate myself when I’m doing a longer project because I’m a monomaniacal person. I give everything to whatever’s in front of me. My process might not be the healthiest but it’s mine. I’m obsessed with my characters. I love them and I live with them and they become my reason for living. They become the only thing I care about. They become my life. 

What projects are you working on right now?

Currently I’m trying to turn writing into a legitimate career by building my brand on the internet. Using social media and just trying to get my work and name out there. I want to write a bunch of novels and screenplays but the amount of work that it takes, I realize I need an audience and support or it’s just not feasible over the long run. So, instead of just writing I’m trying to connect with the world. That’s what I’m doing here right now. I probably should have started this process years ago but I’ve been obsessed with trying to do something different stylistically and philosophically so I have just been writing. We’ll see if I get the things made the way I want them to be made or what happens. We’ll see if I did it all wrong and backwards. 

Any other information you would like to include to our readers?

My work is an attempt to create modern philosophical fiction that isn’t boring. Stuff that is fun, and sexy, and deep, and real. I think of my stuff as hyper-realism or surrealism sometimes, but I don’t know if that’s the perfect description. My goal is to entertain you and then blow your mind. To just completely blow your mind. So let me know what you think. Let me know if I blew your mind. 

Find me @:

Thank you  Steven for such a great interview!

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