Meghan: Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books, Steven. It’s a pleasure to have you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Steven Heumann: I love comics and books, good movies and thoughtful prose. I worked in television for 15 years writing and producing for an outdoor adventure show in the Intermountain West called At Your Leisure. That experience sent me around the world, climbing frozen waterfalls, jumping out of airplanes, and filming some of the most beautiful spots on Earth. I directed films, won screenplay awards, and had six kids. It was a good time that prepared me for what I was always supposed to do in the first place: tell my own stories.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
- I have an EPIC action figure collection.
- I hate avocados.
- Talking on the phone is one of my least favorite things to do.
- I grew up in Chino, California and lived for two years in Sao Paulo, Brazil (two locations featured prominently in my new book because I thought it would be awesome to revisit them in my mind).
- As a toddler, my older brothers and sisters put me in the dryer and turned it on to see what would happen.
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
Steven Heumann: Charlotte’s Web
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Steven Heumann: Ranger’s Apprentice and a lot of Superman comics.
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Steven Heumann: The Scarlet Letter
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
Steven Heumann: As a kid I would make up stories and record them on tape. Once I became an adult, I started writing scripts but found that novels appealed to me because I got to create every aspect of the world. I started writing my first book in the fall of 2016 and started writing as a full-time author in October 2018.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Steven Heumann: My office. I have my action figures to keep me company.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Steven Heumann: Not really. I plot everything out, so I have an idea where a story is going and then allow the story to flow where it needs to as I write. Generally, by the last chapter the story has taken me to places I never would have thought when I did my original outline.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Steven Heumann: Knowing when to pull back a narrative. Pacing is so important and sometimes a single paragraph can throw things off.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Steven Heumann: The Gavin Baller series. I’ve fallen in love with the main character and I love how he responds to things. Knowing that character inside and out is extremely fulfilling.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Steven Heumann: I love old-school science fiction. Thoughtful works always appeal to me, so I love Huxley, Dick, and Asimov.
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Steven Heumann: Character, character, character. There are no new stories. They’ve been told to death. You throw in a great character though and suddenly everything is new. If you love the protagonist of a book, you’ll likely love where the character takes you.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Steven Heumann: They have to be flawed and understandable, just like the rest of us. Even characters we look up to need to be relatable, so we know how they think and why they act the way they do. Once you’ve developed a great character the readers should see every choice they make as natural and convincing.
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Steven Heumann: Stewart from Paper Heroes. He’s trying to do the best he can in an extreme situation and just making everything worse. He sees the world similarly to how I do, with a lot of optimism seasoned with a dash of cynicism.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
Steven Heumann: I created all of my covers. For me writing and drawing always went together (thus my love of comics). I did graphic design for years while working in TV. I love simple covers that convey movement or action. Bad or unprofessional cover art will hurt any book no matter how well written.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
Steven Heumann: So much goes into creating a worthwhile novel. Without editors and beta readers you can’t create good books (or at least I can’t), and so you need to listen to feedback. When I finished the first draft of Paper Heroes, I thought it was a masterpiece. I learned quickly that wasn’t the case, and only by listening and learning did I eventually become a better writer. Even now every novel improves, and I’m sure that will continue for the rest of my life.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
Steven Heumann: Whatever scene comes next. I always worry what I write tomorrow won’t be as good as what I wrote yesterday. It’s a pretty common problem with writers, and I can’t seem to escape it.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Steven Heumann: I love thoughtful sci-fi, but I REALLY love when it’s balanced with fun characters and action. I’m a popcorn movie guy, and I’ve found that when you tell stories that people actually enjoy it’s a lot easier to get them to think about bigger things. If you want someone to question their existence or the society they live in, it’s better to make them laugh first. That’s what my books do.
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)?
Steven Heumann: The title has to follow the feel of the book. If it’s a fun novel, your title has to encapsulate that. When someone reads the title of my books, I want them to be intrigued. In the case of Hunt for the Hollywood Clone I want them to smile at its playfulness and then wonder who the clone may be. With its sequel, Empty Universe, I want readers to get a sense for things getting deeper and more dangerous. By the third instalment I went with Galactic Kingpin, again a title that conveys a sense of fun, but also foreboding.
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Steven Heumann: Writing a novel. I don’t know if it’s the size or the depth you can get into, but for me finishing a novel is the greatest. I do love short stories because it forces me to create worlds and character in a tight space but being able to go deep and explore as a writer is very fulfilling.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Steven Heumann: I love contemporary sci-fi, where the world is more or less ours but you’re able to tweak things to get people to think. That’s where most of my novels inhabit. Far-flung futures are great, but there’s something about looking at our experience today and shifting things enough to get readers to question everything, that’s a lot of fun. I also don’t like rehashing old stories and characters. For me things need to be as fresh as I can make them, particularly when I bring in aliens and stuff in a book. I never want the aliens to feel two-dimensional or like something from an old Star Trek episode. I want them to be new and interesting and as complicated as the rest of us.
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
Steven Heumann: In the case of Paper Heroes there was a lot that hit the cutting room floor, mostly because I was just over-telling. It was good stuff but slowed the book down too much; lots of little character moments and backstory the readers didn’t necessarily need. With Gavin Baller it came down to characters I wanted to introduce that I just couldn’t fit in. I had a character I wanted to introduce to the audience that had to be pushed all the way to Book 3 because I just couldn’t make it work. Once I did finally fit them in, they turned out to be so minor it didn’t even matter anymore. That sort of thing happens sometimes. The book dictates what it needs, not the author.
Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?
Steven Heumann: I have a movie we started to film a few years ago where we weren’t able to finalize the finances and thus only shot part of the script. I’d love to go back and finish that in full production. It was a funny heist movie that takes place at a comic convention. I’ll get back to that one eventually.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Steven Heumann: I’m currently working on a stand-alone whistle-blower story called Transfused about a near future where physical attributes (muscle mass, cancer, etc) can be passed along to other people through technological means. I’ll be sending it to my editor within the next few weeks. From there I’ll do a shared-consciousness thriller called Dreamforgers. Add to that a few short stories and an anthology and the rest of the year is going to be pretty busy, and a crap-ton of fun.
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Steven Heumann: Joining my Reader Group is a good way to keep up with all of my stuff, plus I give group members all of my short stories for free. I’m on Facebook where I post excerpts along with videos and such from many of my adventures over the years. You can find all my novels on Amazon of course as well.
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?
Steven Heumann: I’m just excited to be a part of this world and get to know sci-fi readers and what they love. This entire journey has been one giant learning process where I’ve met amazing people and learned more than I ever imagined. I can’t wait to share all the craziness inside my brain with readers around the world, and I hope to delve into their stories as well. It’s a wonderful life, that’s for sure.
Ready for a good story?
Steve worked in television running his own outdoor adventure program and left it all behind to become a full-time author. With a wife and six kids.
Sound nuts? Well that’s who we’re dealing with here!
Steven Heumann, founder of Super Heumann Creative graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in broadcasting and immediately put it to good use. He began working as a freelance writer for television production house Chadwick Booth and Company and worked his way up to Senior Producer. Working in this position allowed Steve to oversee the creation of a new half-hour program every week, one of the most demanding workloads in television. This gave him the opportunity to write extensively, edit, film, and even host in front of the camera for many years, honing his craft. There are quite literally over 500 individual episodes that bare his mark, along with a dozen documentaries, government projects, and ad campaigns.
Despite his impressive television pedigree, Steve has spent a good portion of his time as an author, writing the contemporary science fiction novel Paper Heroes, as well as the popular Gavin Baller series, and being published in Immortal Works newest Fairy Tale compilation, Of Fae and Fate. He has directed almost a dozen short films, winning numerous international film awards in the process, including Best Screenplay and Best Director.
Steve always says that without a great script you can’t have a great movie, and so he has worked for over a decade to sharpen his writing craft by penning several full-length scripts and prepping them for production. Between his short feature works, full movie manuscripts, and television writing, Steve has produced over one thousand scripts in the past twelve years, with the vast majority of them going into full production. Whether writing, producing, or directing, Steven Heumann has proven himself a force to be reckoned with in the television and film-making worlds.
Gavin Baller 1: The Hunt for the Hollywood Clone
Gavin Baller is the most famous actor in Hollywood. He’s confident, self-absorbed, and hunted by Aliens!
Before he can figure out whether it’s real or a hoax, he first has to escape.
Terrified, confused, and eventually distracted by a beautiful warrior trying to keep him safe, Gavin must become the hero he always pretended to be. With his freedom and life up for grabs, can Gavin survive and return to his celebrity lifestyle? More importantly, will he even want to?
What’s an egotistical actor to do?
Start this amazing journey today!
Gavin Baller 2: Empty Universe
Gavin is in space… and it sucks.
After a chase that started in the Hollywood Hills, everyone’s favorite Academy Award-winning actor finds himself in the cold universe with nothing to do. All he wants is to rescue his best friend and the woman he loves from the clutches of evil aliens, but when the view outside the window never changes, it’s hard to stay motivated. But when a new danger looms that threatens to put Gavin in an intergalactic zoo, he better find his courage fast!
In this unexpected and hilarious adventure, Gavin’s out of his depth, out of options, and out for revenge… so long as the other zoo animals don’t eat him first.
Continuing from where The Hunt for the Hollywood Clone left off, you’ll laugh, think, and be surprised at every turn.
Gavin Baller 3: Galactic Kingpin
War closes in.
Gavin isn’t running away anymore.
The search for Abraxas-Mon and his army gets cut off as the team finds themselves cornered on the oldest planet in the galaxy. What they discover there destroys their very understanding of the Commonwealth and the journey they’ve been on since taking Gavin from Earth.
The Perennials are gone.
Abraxas-Mon may already be dead.
Someone has been pulling the strings and is ten steps ahead. Now it’s up to Gavin to stop them.
A Hollywood actor verses the biggest threat in the universe.
Yeah, this is going to end well.
Hero. Villain. Stewart Mitchell thinks they’re opposites, but he’s about to be pulled into a conspiracy that will turn him into both. What would you do if your wealthy and reclusive boss offered you the chance to be the greatest modern hero, but you knew it was all a lie? It may seem like the ultimate acting job, but once the charade begins to crumble Stewart discovers there are less destructive ways to weather a mid-life crisis. Can he salvage his life, or will his deception bring ruin down on everyone he cares about? Plus with the FBI hot on his tail, he may be unable to save himself, let alone anyone else. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Stewart has his foot on the gas.
Paper Heroes is a contemporary sci-fi novel that mixes politics, technology and heroism, asking whether or not the ends truly justify the means.
It’s time for a hit from a cognitive crack pipe.
When Alice joins her boyfriend’s university experiment in shared consciousness, she discovers a world where thoughts are reality and concepts are smells. Her scientific brain is soon overwhelmed by the presence of other people, some dreaming, others hunting.
Can she escape, or will her desire for knowledge be crushed beneath the drug-rush from a sea of emotions?
And that’s before her boyfriend throws his mind into the mix.’
Conscious in Wonderland is a short story that will take you down the rabbit hole like never before, leaving you questioning your perceptions of the world.