Interview with Steven Clark

What are you working on next?
The title is Wage$ of Greed. It's a John Gresham meets Tony Hillerman type legal thriller set in the Four-Corners area. Its the story of a young Navajo attorney who discovers that a local Oil Company is screwing Indians on the reservation out of royalties on gas wells the company has drilled on reservation land. The misery caused by the conspiracy has spawned the creation of a dangerous para-military group calling itself the NALM, short for Native American Liberation Movement. After the NALM blows up two gas wells, the attorney files suit against the oil company; and act that opens the gates of hell against him. It's an action filled work that incorporates a lot of Navajo culture and tradition. It's sort of a modern day cowboys and Indians tale but you'll have to read it to see who wins. Projected publication date is July of this year.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, I have a lot. Currently I'm reading Sue Grafton, James Patterson, David Baldacchi, and Patricia Cornwell. I guess that explains why I write mystery/thrillers. I love John Grisham, but my two all time favorites are Tony Hillerman and James Clavell. Tony Hillerman actually reviewed Wage$ of Greed shortly before he died and gave me written permission to invoke his name in recommendation of the book. I was very honored. I think I've read everything James Mitchner ever wrote. The same goes with John Steinbeck. I mean, how do you get better than East of Eden? I can only aspire to such greatness.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm tempted to say 'my bladder', but that would be uncouth, wouldn't it. I think what motivates me is the desire to create something meaningful and lasting. I hope that when I'm gone, my words will perhaps live on and inspire some other wannabe writer to pick up his or her pen, no matter their age. I'm inspired by James Michener who didn't publish his first book until age 67, the same age I am now.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Oh, there's never enough time. But I have a 14,000 sq. ft. lawn I have to pay attention to from time to time. I love to golf and wish I did more of it. Same with fishing. Lauri and I like to travel whenever we get the chance (car trips). Between my writing, my home and teaching sunday school at my church, I somehow don't seem to have a problem filling my days.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
For me, quality is everything. I think the chances of picking up a top quality book in the 'free' bin is pretty slim. I'd say your odds in the .99 cent bin are not much better. I look at the cover, first of all. If the cover is bad, chances are so is what's inside. I avidly read the 'pitch'. Many times I can tell right off whether the author is a good one or not by how well or badly those critically important 50 or 60 words are. Then I look at the reviews, especially what other authors have to say about the book. And finally, I look at the sample of what's inside. If I find spelling, punctuation or grammar errors in the first few pages, I know the author hasn't thought enough of his work to even run it past a professional editor. At that point I close the book and move on. But a well written, well edited work that can engage me from the very first chapter, I will read to the end and look for more.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was actually a poem; with cowboys and horses and branding irons. The first story I wrote was published in my seventh grade Jr. High School yearbook. I don't even remember what it was about now. But it was my story and had my name attached and I was so thrilled to see all that in print.
What is your writing process?
I sit my butt down in a chair, turn on the computer and start to write. I don't know any other way to do it. Some days it's great. The words flow out like water and before I know it I've written pages and pages. Other days it's tough and I only get a page or maybe a few paragraphs out. You never know. But there's nothing magical about the process. You just have to get your butt into that chair and your fingers on the keyboard.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
You mean other than 'Look Dick look, see Jane run?' I was one of the top readers in 1st grade. My teacher, Mrs. Morgan, liked me. She was about to retire and when she did she brought me a great big box filled with old children's books and told me they were just for me. I treasured that box. It was the source of so much imagination. That's were I met Rapunzel and a whole cast of Grimm's Fairy Tales characters. and countless others. When I left home one of my sisters got her hands on the box and I've never seen it nor the books since. I'd give anything to have that treasure box back again. In fourth grade I read a book called The Bears of Blue Mountain, about a little boy who lived on a mountain that had lots of bears. I loved that story. When I was twelve I read The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come and read it over and over, along with The Yearling. The first book I ever bought was when I was thirteen and somehow ended up with a copy of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. My parents didn't know and I had no idea what it was about. It had a bunch of words like orgasm and coitus that I didn't understand. And the people sure spent a lot of time with their clothes off. I thought that was exciting.
How do you approach cover design?
I designed the cover to All The Pretty Dresses myself, but did consult a graphic artist about it. That's not going to happen with my next book (Wage$ of Greed). I'll collaborate with a good, experienced cover designer
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My all time favorite is Shogun by James Clavell. I'll bet I've read it eight or ten times. For some reason, I have a strong identification with all things Japanese. No idea why. Number two is East of Eden by Steinbeck. I felt myself actually living in the Salinas Valley and identifying with every character in the book. It was the first book I ever read that had a truly sad ending. The third one would have to be Clavell's Tai Pan. His characters are so strong and the settings so intriguing. The fourth, (but maybe the first), is the one I mentioned before; The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come. (Can't remember the author's name.) I was that little boy. I wanted his dog. The fifth is actually a collection. Our grade school library had a collection of biography's of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Jim Bridger, and about fifteen other American figures. I read every one of them. They helped make me who I am today.
What do you read for pleasure?
The same thing I write. mysteries, thrillers, legal thrillers, etc. If I were a romance writer I'd immerse myself in romance novels. If I were a western writer I'd Immerse myself in Louis La'more and Zane Grey. (I can't imagine what the writer of 50 Shades of Grey must have immersed herself in. Makes me tired just thinking about it.)
Describe your desk
Functional and somewhat chaotic.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Provo, UT and raised in the same area. The best word I can think of to describe my growing up is 'Mayberry." Until seventh grade I was raised in a small town where every kid knew every other kid. We lived in what we called 'the jungle', a small canyon were a creek flowed down from the mountains and there were lots of trees to play in and hide in. Every kid in town wanted to live in the jungle. I spent countless hours playing cowboy and Indian with my buddies while we all hung out away from our mothers.

It was in the jungle that I began to develop my imagination. There were no computers and we didn't even own a TV. So we had to create our play world out of our own minds. It was wonderful.

In seventh grade my parents moved to Orem, UT, a huge city by Payson standards. There I learned that everyone didn't think the same way I did and that it took some social graces go get along in the big, wide world. And, of course, there I also discovered that half the other people in the world were delightfully female, a discovery that served me well when I progressed into high school. I'll never forget Mary Ann Morris, or Rebecca Carr, or Vanessa Rowley. Then, of course, there was Kathy Young, my first real love. She will always have a corner of my heart that no one else can have.

I left Orem for the big, bad world at ninteen, but I've carried vestiges of my idlic life growing up in Utah Valley to this very day.
When did you first start writing?
My first attempt at writing was a short story I wrote for my seventh grade yearbook. It was a hit. The only two classes I failed in high school were two terms of English, when I refused to write research papers because they were just too long. My first book was 374 pages and my second 392. If only my English teacher could see me now.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is entitled Wages of Greed, and is the story of a young Navajo attorney, Danny Whitehorse, who discovers an oil company has been cheating Indians out of gas well royalties. He sues the oil company and they decide he has to go. Danny quickly discovers that his greatest challenge isn't winning the lawsuit, it's to stay alive long enough to bring it to court.

This story actually came true in real life as I was writing the book, only the real culprit wasn't an evil oil company, it was someone you won't believe.
Published 2015-09-10.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.