Interview with Steven Lloyd

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a rural area 20 miles south of Carbondale, IL. Growing up in the country is the shit. I wouldn’t have it any other way. A lot of my writing is based on characters who are poor, country folks who either have no education or very little. Wasn’t anything for us to go out hunting at the age of ten, or play war games out in the middle of nowhere. We let our imaginations run wild.
When did you first start writing?
When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher wanted us to write a horror story for the month of October. What a drag, right? I wrote a story called Killing Vengeance. Two weeks later I read this little story in front of the class, which is a nightmare because I have stage fright, and it takes a special kind of voice to pull this off. I, unfortunately, don’t have the talent for public readings. I took my turn and read the blasted thing. I was horrified at hearing my own voice. A hush fell over the class. You could’ve heard a mouse fart. I looked up from my paper when I finished. In that moment I was calculating how long I’d be in In School Suspension. This, I assured myself, was not going to go unpunished. My parents would be called—bet on that one, and I’d be grounded until my hair either fell out or turned gray. But none of that happened. When the bell rang I made for the door. The teacher, a small woman of about fifty, took hold of me and sat me down. She said (I’ll never forget these words) ‘You have a great talent for words, Steven. Don’t ever stop’. If only I could tell her what I’ve accomplished over the years as a writer.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The "Wooden Box" idea surfaced one night at work. I played with the idea for some time. It’s not often I get an idea that I can start writing immediately. I like to bat ideas around before the initial execution. My brother-in-law’s mother suffered greatly her last couple years on earth. She gave up. She’d said, ‘If I can’t smoke and shop and cook, what’s the use in living’. She was a free spirit. Before the sickness took hold of her, and the amputation of her leg, she lived her life to the fullest. And I thought what if…

My grandmother turned a hundred and one this year. She once told me stories of the Great Depression. They didn’t have medications and surgeons like they do today. Having a love for history, I decided to go back to a time when hard work and choices meant life or death. Not only does Mack have to deal with an ailing wife, but the hardships of life around them, and what needs to be done to save his wife from an unspeakable sickness.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I think I'll wait a while for the indie thing. I tried it last year and wasn't too happy. I need a larger fan base. In previous interviews I’ve bashed E-Books with a baseball bat. My thoughts have since changed. Not long ago I picked up my wife’s Nook. I ordered Joe Lansdale’s “The Ape Man’s Brother”, and “Hyenas” and James Newman’s “Olden”. Needless to say I fell in love with the Nook. Sorry, guys, I still love print books, but I like that I can download books and read them immediately.

When I was in my twenties a fellow writer called me over to check out this new thing called the Internet. Not much was added to the net then. He was working on a magazine with some kind of graphics or some such shit. After a while I told him that one day this could replace printed books as we know it. He laughed. He told me I was nuts. I don’t care the way things are shifting. I love print! But as I said above, I've fallen in love with the E-reader. I see publishers falling to the wayside in the future. I’m not talking about small presses. I think we’ll always have the small press, but I’m not so sure about the major New York Publishers. What’s to stop Stephen King and other money makers from telling their publishers to kiss off and start publishing digitally? Nothing. Cut out the middle man. Hardcore fans will buy.
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What are you working on next?
At the moment I’m working on a novel/novella called “Dogwood Summer”, and “Strange Roads” a collection of stories.
Who are your favorite authors?
Writers who have influenced me? Man, what a wide road you’ve given me here. In my early years before I found the internet it was Stephen King, Jack McLane (Bill Crider), Clive Barker, Anne Rice, John Steinbeck, William Golding, and Ray Bradbury ect. Then I discovered the small press. Books you normally can’t find in brick and mortar bookstores. You’ll find some of the best writing in the small press such as Joe Lansdale, James Newman, Ronald Kelly, Brian Keene, Drew Williams, Jason Brannon, Sara Brooke, William Ollie, John Little, Ray Garton, T.M. Wright, Bryan Smith, Brian Knight, John Grover, and R. Thomas Riley, and John Paul Allen. The list goes on and on.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m a machinist at a plastic factory not far from where I live now. It’s hot, grueling work, man. Five years ago I met and married the woman of my dreams. I knew her a week and a half and asked her to marry me. She said yes. Not really much to tell about myself. I’m a very uninteresting man who likes to watch horror movies, read and write. I’m a homebody. Oh, and, I tend to drive my wife crazy.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
From friends or just browsing. Just recently I bought my very own Nook Simple Touch. What a ride I’ve had. I download most of my books from Barnes N Noble now. My wife’s friend just walked in the door and handed me most of the Dark Tower graphic novels she bought at a yard sale. Yep, I’m a happy camper.
Do you remember the first story you ever sold?
In 2001, I was searching for myself. I hadn’t written anything in ten years, and one day my then girlfriend bought me a computer. Voices once silent now began to talk. It wasn’t long before I began to hammer the keys. My first acceptance came in ’05 when Naked Snake Press released my short story “When Darkness Falls”, as a stand alone chapbook. The next year brought good news when Ellen Datlow mentioned the story in her Summation “The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” 2006. Blown away I was, and I made sure to call friends and family to let them know. For me it was just as good as having my story published in the book. I have it on my shelf today.
What is your writing process?
Mornings. I work the graveyard shift. I like to write between 10:30 AM to about noon. Later if my mind is running.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Bill Crider's horror novels had a substantial impact on me as a writer. You can buy all his backlist here:

He wrote under the name Jack MacLane back then. Great writer!
What are three books that scared you?
The Fog by Dennis Etchison. Gifted Trust by John Paul Allen (not really scary but very disturbing!) Amityville Horror by Jay Anson.
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What do you read for pleasure?
Anything I can get my hands on.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Doesn't really matter so long as I can read.
Most inspiring words said about “The Wooden Box”?
A masterpiece of storytelling
--Reviewer Tracey Fleming
Describe your desk
Catastrophic mess! But I know where everything’s at.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Playing God and getting away with it. Slipping out of my skin and wearing someone else’s.
Published 2013-09-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.