Please welcome Stephen V. Masse as he makes his first virtual book tour stop! Stephen Masse is the author of the novel A Jolly Good Fellow.
Terri B.: Thank you for this interview Stephen. I must tell you that I enjoyed reading your novel, A Jolly Good Fellow. I stayed up way too late in order to finish the book! I just had to know how things would turn out for your two main characters.
Both Duncan and Gabriel are clearly driven to their actions by both people and events in their lives. I couldn't help but wonder who or what drove you to write this particular story?
Stephen M.: I wrote A Jolly Good Fellow many years ago, taking six weeks to pound out the first draft. At that time I had two other novels written, which were circulating like yo-yos from publisher to publisher. My intent had been to just keep writing novels as they came to me, so that within a reasonable time I was making my living from writing (*didn't work out that way).
It was approaching the holiday season, and the story inspired me with an unexplainable force. Perhaps it was the story I always wanted to read but it didn't exist yet. Or maybe some inner need to face my own darker side and work through things I couldn't yet identify. Christmas brings anticipation and all sorts of memories and feelings together, and during that season I plunged myself completely into the world of Duncan Wagner. In retrospect, I could see it was a safe time of year for me to explore the darker side of myself because the light of the season invests the story with balance and hope.
Terri B.: Your young character, Gabriel, has run away from home and his outlook on the world is definitely colored by his home environment and upbringing. How has your environment and/or upbringing colored your writing?
Stephen M.: I grew up in a home full of books and music. My father has always been known to rescue discarded books, and both parents were always fond of reading. Probably because I was hyperactive as a child, I hated to read even though I loved being read to. My father often made up stories to tell me. My mother would laugh to see me writing stories when I had read so few. But teenage years brought new interest in reading, and a family emphasis on education and persistence have definitely influenced my writing.
Terri B.: What book or books have most influenced your life?
Stephen M.: Every book makes an impression because it is a life experience. Books that I'd consider most influencing are those I remember best: To Kill a Mockingbird, Bullwhip Griffin, Endurance, Catch-22, Huckleberry Finn, Pudd'nhead Wilson, The Mysterious Stranger, Ethan Frome, Captains Courageous, Animal Farm.
Terri B.: I'm a bit nosy when it comes to noticing what other people are reading, so of course I have to ask you: What are you currently reading?
Stephen M.: There are always several books by my bed, and I'm working mostly on Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman and Garrison Keillor's Love Me.
Terri B.: There are a number of messages someone could take away from reading A Jolly Good Fellow, but is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Stephen M.: I'd like to think of A Jolly Good Fellow more as a story of personal growth than as a story of message. Every reader brings something different to the experience, and so the message received is often different with each person. Readers have commented on the fact that the story takes place at Christmas, and that Gabriel and Duncan are somehow gifts to each other.
Terri B.: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing this book?
Stephen M.: It was many years after the original draft that I recognized what Duncan Wagner's true motivation was for kidnapping Gabriel. I had been stunned by lost love so thoroughly that it took writing a fourth novel before I could go back to A Jolly Good Fellow and work out the details that would complete the story.
Terri B.: I see from your website that you have a current writing project. Tell us something about that project and how it's coming along.
Stephen M.: The current writing project is Short Circus. This is a children's book narrated by twelve year old Jem Lockwood about his adventures with his Big Brother and a merry assortment of neighborhood friends, all while living under the threat that his Big Brother may have to move away. The revision project is stalled mainly because of the lack of time. My day job takes a lot of concentration and energy, so the book gets the leftovers. A frustrating fact of life for most writers, I imagine.
Terri B.: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Stephen M.: Travel, adventure, hiking, cooking, beach & boating, socializing, volunteering, good movies, concerts.
Terri B.: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Stephen M.: Well, I certainly hope that A Jolly Good Fellow is a good contribution to their reading experiences, and I hope that it enriches their enjoyment of the holiday season.
Thanks to Stephen for a wonderful interview and for letting us peer into his life just a little bit. See my review of A Jolly Good Fellow to find out more about this novel!
To purchase a copy of A Jolly Good Fellow:
Visit the author's website at stephenvmasse.com.
A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '08 begins today, October 1st, and ends October 30th. You can visit Stephen's blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com during the month of October.