Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: B.R. Stateham

Meghan: Hi, B.R. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to sit down with me. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

B.R. Stateham: My name is B.R. Stateham. I am a seventy-year-old writer of genre fiction. I have been writing stories since I was ten years old. And no, I am not famous. For the last 35 years I’ve been married to a tolerant wife who puts up with my eccentricities. Most of the time. We have three kids, five grand kids, a dog . . . all the ‘stuff’ that makes up a typical human being. Nothing special here, which frankly, I am grateful for. Who wants to constantly live under a spotlight all the time?

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

B.R. Stateham: There’s nothing here. I’m an open book for normalcy. Two arms, two legs, five fingers on each hand, and a wise-ass mouth. You get what you see.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

B.R. Stateham: It had to be something in science-fiction. I definitely remember getting hooked on the Edgar Rice BurroughsBarsoom novels featuring a Martian princess by the name of Dejah Thor and an earthman by the name of John Carter of Virginia. Burroughs is the guy who created Tarzan of the Apes, another of his series which I devoured at the age of 10 or 11.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

B.R. Stateham: The Norwegian mystery writer, Jo Nesbo, has a new novel out called The Knife. Nesbo writes a dark noir kind of mystery, a bit bleak, with a police detective named Harry Hole (I know; it’s a funny name, but probably not pronounced in Norwegian as we do here in the States). The writer has all the standard tropes found in this kind of novel. The main character is an alcoholic. He’s a loner, misunderstood and difficult to be around people. The standard shtick. But, for me, somehow it works. I have this ‘thing’ of tasting mystery novels from authors living in places other than the States.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

B.R. Stateham: Haven’t found one yet, although I think most people would be very surprised if I read a romance novel and enjoyed it. Including myself in that equation.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

B.R. Stateham: I was ten years old when I wrote my first story. A full-length sci-fi novel. Hand written. Edgar Rice Burroughs put the writing bug in me at ten for science fiction. A twelve or fourteen, a guy by the name of Dashiell Hammitt torched me with a desire to write mystery fiction. I’ve been writing ever since.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

B.R. Stateham: Not really. The big computer I work on is in a converted bedroom I use as a book depository and writing desk. But I have a laptop I take with me. And it seems I am always writing, or plotting out a story line, in my head no matter where I am at. So the ‘writing’ never seems to stop with me.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

B.R. Stateham: A big glass of instant tea. And when available, a little silence around me. But a house filled with grand-kids pretty will eliminates the second choice. (sigh)

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

B.R. Stateham: Generally speaking, just sitting down and beginning the typing process. I don’t know what it is, but I find myself straining to climb that mountain of inertia when it comes to the physical aspect of writing. Don’t ask me why. I have no answer. Specifically, writing action scenes are difficult. I have to really, really slow down when chopping on the keyboards writing an action scene. Movement, physicality, action and reaction have to make sense. Hard to do when, in reality, the action sequences in a novel are the most exciting times to write.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

B.R. Stateham: I have a recurring character by the name if Smitty. He’s a hit man/investigator. I wrote a short story a while back explaining how Smitty became Smitty. Going from a normal married man to a man who becomes, in many respects, a cold-blooded killer. But one with a code of honor. Without doubt, that’s the best thing I’ve produced so far.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

B.R. Stateham: Hundreds of books. Dozens of authors. No one book, or one author, truly stands out. But all combined inspired me and gave me that incentive to experiment in the writing form and finding my own voice and style. I’d be hard pressed to single out a particular writer. Each one I’ve read and appreciated has contributed something to my logbook on how to write. To name names now, and explain why they’ve impressed me in their writing styles would become a long essay, if not an entire book, of wishful thinking.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

B.R. Stateham: For me it breaks down to three elements. One, a kick-ass opening which glues me instantly to the story. Two, a character, usually the lead character, who I can love or hate who is quirky and three-dimensional in nature. And Three, imagination. I want to see what is going on inside the novel. I want to taste it . . . feel it . . . the whole nine yards. (To be honest, the imagination part probably is what made me become a writer. The more I read, the less I found writers who could convey their imagination over into the words. So they didn’t. They just barely drew an outline and told the writer to fill in the colors and details. For some reason, that really pisses me off.)

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

B.R. Stateham: See my answer to the above question.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

B.R. Stateham: This is a hard one. I have several recurring characters in a about three different series I am writing. Each has their own traits. Their own strengths and weaknesses. I like them all. I don’t know if I can say I have a ‘favorite.’

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

B.R. Stateham: Absolutely turned off by bad covers. And yes, I try to be actively involved in cover design. In self-publishing and using small indie publishers, I usually can have my way in cover designs. So far I have had limited success in finding a major publisher for any of my work, and they never ask me for any real input in their decisions. Nor, if I ever get lucky and find a major publisher again who likes my work, do I expect them to ask me for my opinions.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

B.R. Stateham: Money talks. If you have the money to create the book you want, you get what you want. If you’re funds are limited, so is the end product. As simple as that.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

B.R. Stateham: Again, action scenes.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

B.R. Stateham: I wished I could tell you convincingly. But I can only hazard a guess. I think I put more imagination in my efforts. I try to draw characters verbally which capture your complete attention. I try to write plots which are tightly drawn and hang together, drawing you deeper into the story without you realizing you’re being pulled in. At least, that’s what I hope I am doing.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

B.R. Stateham: Book titles are very important. Usually what a potential reader sees first is either the title, or the artwork of the cover. Both go hand in hand.

Therefore, both are critical. Generally, I find the title for my book or short story in the body of the story. A phrase, a sentence, an idea . . . there is something within the story which gives me the title. And that title has to foretell what the story is about. It doesn’t have to be a blunt-force trauma kind of title. But it must be suggestive. Maybe even a bit menacing.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

B.R. Stateham: The length of the story doesn’t matter. The story must be sharply defined, tightly plotted. Even elegant, if you’ll allow that idea to be considered. A definite beginning, middle, and end. And it has to create some kind of emotional reaction. A reaction which fits the story. If I achieve all of this, I’ve done my job as a writer.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

B.R. Stateham: I write mysteries, police-procedurals, two different historical mystery series and fantasy series. At the moment, I am hunting for publishers for the historical mysteries and the fantasy series. But I do have a mystery series, featuring the hit man named Smitty.

The first book in the series is called, Dark Retribution Volume I: Smitty’s Calling Card. This is the first full-length Smitty novel. The publisher is a small indie from out of Britain (Close to the Bone).

Volume two of the series (Dark Retribution, Volume II: Sometimes Nightmares Come True) came out September 27th of this year. This is ten short stories plus a novella featuring the dark-eyed Smitty.

Fahrenheit Press (another Brit indie) has one of my historical detective mysteries out, the title being Death of a Young Lieutenant. A series featuring an art thief turned-reluctant-detective by the name of Jake Reynolds. The series is set in the first part of the 20th Century, starting in the opening weeks of 1914 and the beginning of World War One.

Each of these books can be found either in Amazon Books, or on the publisher’s web sites. Hope to have news soon detailing about a few of my other novels circulating the circuit hunting for a publisher. We’ll see.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

B.R. Stateham: What deleted scenes?

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

B.R. Stateham: Oh, golly. Currently I have about five novels in the que, plus that many or more short stories I’m working on. The writing never stops. Sometimes it slows down. But it never stops.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

B.R. Stateham: More writing and adding to the many series I’ve started. Just more writing in general.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

B.R. Stateham: You can find me on Twitter and Facebook. Usually under my full name (Bryant R. Stateham). I also have a blog site called In the Dark Mind of B.R. Stateham. The blog lists everything I have published at one time or another, plus I talk about writing in general.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

B.R. Stateham: Thanks for the interview! I appreciated the invitation. I hope I’ve said something . . . anything . . . even remotely interesting. And I hope your readers might be intrigued enough to check out some of my material. Gaining a reader or two is always something I strive for. Becoming a successful writer is more a matter of sheer luck than it is of pure talent. Therefore, I feel really lucky whenever anyone discovers, and enjoys, something I have written.

With luck, maybe we can do this again someday. That would be a blast!

B.R. Stateham is a fourteen-year-old boy trapped in a seventy-year-old body. But his enthusiasm and boyish delight in anything mysterious and/or unknown continue.

Writing novels, especially detectives, is just the avenue of escape which keeps the author’s mind sharp and inquisitive. He’s published a ton of short stories in online magazines like Crooked, Darkest Before the Dawn, Abandoned Towers, Pulp Metal Magazine, Suspense Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, Near to The Knuckle, A Twist of Noir, Angie’s Diary, Power Burn Flash, and Eastern Standard Crime. He writes both detective/mysteries, as well as science-fiction and fantasy.

In 2008 the first book in the series featuring homicide detectives Turner Hahn and Frank Morales came out, called Murderous Passions.

Also, in 2008 he self-published a fantasy novel entitled, Roland of the High Crags: Evil Arises.

In 2009 he created a character named Smitty. So far twenty-eight short stories and two novellas have been written about this dark eyed, unusually complex hit man.

In 2012 Untreed Reads published book two of the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales series A Taste of Old Revenge.

In 2015 NumberThirteen Press published a Smitty novella entitled, A Killing Kiss.

In 2017 a British indie publisher, Endeavour Media, re-issued A Taste of Old Revenge, and soon followed by a second Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel entitled, There Are No Innocents.

In 2018 Endeavour Media published a third novel of mine, the first in a 1st Century Roman detective series, entitled While the Emperor Slept.

Also in 2018, NumberThirteen Press merged with another famous British indie, Fahrenheit Press. Soon afterwards, Fahrenheit Press re-issued an old novel of mine entitled, Death of a Young Lieutenant.

Now, after all of this apparent success, you would think Fame and Fortune would have sailed into my harbor, making me the delight of the hard-core genre world. Ah but contraire, mon ami! Fame and Fortune are two devious little wraiths who pick and chooses the poor souls they wish to bedevil. I remain in complete anonymity and am just as bereft of fortune as I have always been. And apparently will continue to be for a long time to come.

Dark Retribution 1: Smitty’s Calling Card

He’s desperate. He knows his sister-in-law is the next victim. And even though he’s a cop assigned to the team built to hunt the killer down and arrest him, they’ve had no luck finding him. How does he save his sister-in-law?

Sometimes to fight evil, you must flirt with the devil. Sometimes you need a killer to find a killer.

Dark Retribution 2: Sometimes Nightmares Come True

How does a man become a cold-blooded hit man? Once, a loving husband and loyal brother… now a strange man who kills for profit. And for conviction. Ten short stories and a novella explaining the transition of an ordinary man into a near-legend.

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