AUTHOR Q & A: MICHAEL STEPHENSON

Question Marks

Today, we are participating in the Blog Tour for Michael Stephenson’s upcoming novel, The Man On The Roof. As you probably noticed in the title, we are giving you an author Q &A, so let the questions begin!

KS: When did you first decide to become a writer?

MS: I first decided to become a writer around eight years of age. I grew up with a love for film and television, and one of my earliest memories is sitting in front of the TV while watching some game show and telling my mom that I wanted to be an actor-director of film. I always knew I wanted to be part of the entertainment industry as a whole and still do want to eventually end up as a multi-hyphenated industry standard.

It wasn’t until around eight that I discovered my vivid imagination wouldn’t simply settle for taking an already cobbled-together story and directing or acting in it. I had original stories to tell and felt I’d burst if I didn’t tell them. In many ways, I am a writer out of necessity and a need to see cool, original content. I think with the amount of sequels, prequels and remakes/reboots we’re getting, we need storytellers with a little originality on all platforms.

KS: What is your favorite time of day to write? Where is your favorite place to write?

MS: I can write all day when I have the time to do it. I don’t really have a favorite place to write because I usually only do it in my family room where my computer is, but I do know that I hate writing in crowded places. And while I can write all day, I don’t have a favorite time per se, but I do have a most productive time, which is between 9pm to 2am.

KS: Which one of your books would you like to see become a movie or a TV show?

MS: Honestly, I’d like to see all of my novels become movies or TV shows except for three: my summer serial The Writer, The Provocateur, and my other serial Extraordinary. Interestingly enough, I’d say a little under half of my novels start as screenplays, then evolve into novels if I feel I have more detail to add.

Another intriguing twist is that out of all of my novels and projects I’m working on, I specifically wrote The Man On The Roof with a mind to try making the narrative as difficult to film as possible. I think that is partially due to the fact that I had read so many reviews of other popular psychological thrillers (and books in general) where readers complained that it felt like the novel was written to be made into a film. So I wanted readers to feel as if this book was not trying to be a movie. With that said, I still believe it can be made into an engrossing film.

KS: If you had to “Sophie’s Choice” your books, which book would you save?

MS: Of the published works (TMOTR included), I think it would easily be The Man On The Roof. I know that totally sounds like marketing fluff (oh, you chose to save the book you’re currently promoting 🙄) but it is true. Despite its dark content, it was fun to write and, hopefully, fulfills the goal of being both an entertainment piece and a thought-provoking artistic piece.

KS: If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what book would you choose?

MS: If we’re talking any book at all, it’s definitely the Bible. Looking at it as a road map for faith, I think that it always has some kind of answer in there about perseverance, love, compassion, and all the ideals that we as humans strive for. Crazy enough, it’s also a really interesting entertainment read, too, spanning every genre from romance to mystery to thriller to “sci-fi” to crime and even to horror.

If we’re talking non-debatable pure fiction, I would probably go with Dean Koontz’s The Bad Place. My mother turned me toward this book and went on and on about how insane it is. And then I finally read it and it was truly crazy. A trippy experience for an average mind. Either that or One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for its sentimentality and hard-hitting look at the mental health industry.

KS: According to your Twitter bio, in addition to books, you are an avid fan of film, TV and the NBA, so, what show(s) are you loving right now? What’s the last movie you’ve seen, and what rating would you give it? Which team are you rooting for in the Finals?

MS: Lebron in 2 against the Warriors in the Finals. That’s a joke for your NBA fans out there. Being from Cleveland I am a Cavs fan, but admittedly a fair-weather fan. When we had those four Lebron-less years, I couldn’t watch the team lose so much. I wasn’t into basketball pre-Lebron. That first game of the Finals I yelled at my TV and am still traumatized by JR’s baffling play. In fact, let’s not speak of this further.

Lebron James Upset with JR Smith
Image: Giphy

*Editors Note: If you are not an NBA fan, then you may not know the Cavs were swept in the Finals. It’s all JR Smith’s fault.*

I recently saw two movies, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Deadpool 2. I have to first admit that I’m not a big Star Wars fan, so I never have anticipation for the films, but I see them to remain current with pop culture. Also, I thought the first Deadpool was so juvenile in its jokes I was both confused and relieved by its popularity because I am known to dabble in immature humor in my novels as well. So going into the sequels (I saw them back-to-back the day after Memorial Day) I didn’t have high expectations.

I thought Solo was decent, contrary to popular opinion. It wasn’t boring. It took a while to get there, but it did have a plot (that’s a biggie for me), and I could see it building toward the Solo from the original trilogy. Deadpool 2, on the other hand, didn’t have a plot until 2/3rds of the way into the movie. Where the first was about revenge and getting his face fixed, the second had individual character motivations but not a real plot until *SPOILER* after the prison scene. I also didn’t find the jokes as fresh as the first one.

As far as TV, I cover as many new shows on my blog as I can each year. This year I got bogged down late in the season because so many new shows premiered, and that’s not even counting any of the streaming services. But I am currently hanging in there with Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Timeless (Rufus is my dude), wishing that ABC had given Deception and The Crossing more time to grow (both would’ve made great summer shows), trying to figure out why they made Krypton a terribly-lit Game of Thrones copy, salivating in anticipation of Big Little Lies season 2, waiting until I get a free weekend of HBO to binge Westworld season 2, wondering what the hell that Scandal series finale was, and trying not to lose my head over the crop of reboots of old, dead shows that should’ve stayed dead (I’m lookin’ at you Murphy Brown) coming to TV next season.

KS: What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite writer?

MS: I don’t know if I have a favorite book, but I would have to say that my favorite writer is Stephen King. Not only do I enjoy the stories he weaves, I think that his career should be the model for any writer taking this seriously. He’s obviously a literary god whose word is gold (almost every huge bestseller that has come out in the last couple of years reached big numbers after he gave a pull quote). His commitment to being a workman-like author who consistently gives us something to read is admirable.

KS: What is the best book you’ve read so far this year?

MS: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. Though the metaphors were occasionally overdone and distracting, I liked the heavy callback to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and I like that the book felt as if it was written for not just readers but film lovers, too. I find it surprising that sometimes these two groups don’t cross-pollinate.

KS: I also read on your blog that you want to write a screenplay for a Captain Planet movie. Captain Planet was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, and I’m actually excited about the idea of a reboot. How is your screenplay coming along?

MS: Oh, it’s done. It’s been done for years, actually. I have an entire trilogy planned out beginning with Captain Planet: Planeteers Unite, Captain Planet: World Ablaze and ending with Captain Planet: Dark Heart. It’s an origin story which is something I think these characters need because so few people really know or respect Captain Planet. Some don’t even respect the idea he stands for.

The last time I heard news of a potential live-action adaptation, it was in the hands of Leonardo DiCaprio with two very young new screenwriters on-board who wanted to do a futuristic take that is a sequel to the show. In their idea Captain Planet needs the Planeteers more than they need him, and I was just baffled by that entire premise. The world was supposed to need the captain, not just the kids. And it made it sound like he was wandering around without the kids having had to summon him? I don’t know. I could talk about CP all day, so I’ll leave it at that for now. #GoCaptainPlanet

KS: Speaking of blogs, what TV show will you review next on Are You Not Entertained?

MS: At the moment, I really don’t know what I’ll review next. I try to review everything new but the influx of late-season adds that premiered in March and were quickly canceled in May threw me a little. It happens every year, but this year it seemed like even more new late adds got canceled a bit earlier than their time. I still have review posts that were never posted for shows that I watched. Some felt like a slog to get through, while other shows I thought deserved better.

I wish that the Castle (the defunct Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic show) crowd would’ve backed Deception, which was the same exact show except with magic in the place of a writing career and the added twin-brother-in-jail twist. But for now, the next show I might review the first three episodes of seems to be Starz’s Sweetbitter, based on the book of the same title. It’s a culinary coming-of-age show in which a young 20-something woman moves to NYC to work in the cutthroat world of fine dining. I rarely review cable shows because not everyone can see them, but I’ll try this one.

KS: How do you feel about spoilers?

MS: If they’re for my own book and someone writes them in a review, then I guess I’m a little perturbed if it’s early in the book’s life. But I’d say that after a month, I think it’s fine. For instance, with The Man On The Roof, I would say that a reviewer could spoil three things—one major and two small things—in the book and a reader could still read it and be engulfed in the mysteries because there are so many. But I think that spoilers ultimately are left up for the individual.

Personally, I only hate spoilers if it’s not a book or if it’s something I really care about. I read tons of reviews. I know some authors will reach out to bloggers and say that they’ve read their reviews and compliment them before asking for a review but have never actually read that person’s reviews. Not me. While I mostly read my reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I do roam as many blogs as possible with my limited time. I do this usually when researching the latest book craze. I compare and contrast books to any of my latest projects for marketing purposes.

With that said, I read book spoilers all the time. All. The. Time. People who hate a book will rip it apart with every possible detail you can imagine. Before reading them, I knew what happened in Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Woman in the Window. I still enjoyed the reads. Some people can do that, others can’t. I would say to readers that if you lose interest when you know what’s to come, don’t read spoiler reviews.

KS: For all the readers who also love gardening, what are you planting this year, and do you have any helpful gardening tips to share?

MS: This year, I’m trying to keep it light. As I’ve been gardening in my main veggie spot for seven years, I’m trying to do the Old Testament Bible thing and have a rest year in order to let the ground replenish itself. So my normal garden is currently a mound of composted organic fruits, vegetables, grass clippings and coffee grounds. However, I am still gardening in a smaller garden where I’m growing sweet potatoes, two kinds of tomatoes, a sweet pepper plant, two types of watermelon, collard greens, kale, green bush beans, and salad greens, so we’ll see how good this soil is for growing because I didn’t do anything to it beforehand.

As for tips, I’d say to always compost. Like anything in this life, veggie gardening takes a good amount of pre-planning. The best compost materials come in the fall. Gather up your dead, fallen tree leaves, mix them with dead grass clippings (must be non-chemically treated lawns) and throw them in the spot you plan on starting a garden. People who don’t have homes can do it, too. If you live in the city in an apartment, take one day or two to venture out to the suburbs in the fall and ask people for their leaves. Most don’t want or need them anyway. Get a few large paint buckets from a home improvement store, fill them half with leaves, half with grass, dig a few worms from your local park (don’t take the soil because that’s illegal) and keep the bucket in a warm place for a few months. Things sort themselves out.

Used coffee grounds work great, too. Go to your nearest coffee shop and ask how they dispose of their grounds. Some friendly ones will give you full bags of their used coffee grounds which make the best growing medium for pretty much anything. Gardening is all about having great, nutrient-dense soil, so get that kind of soil however you can. And start your seeds indoors in wet paper towels and baggies and you’ll never fail.

KS: Finally, why are you excited for people to read The Man On The Roof?

MS: I’m excited because not only do I think that it could be the next “It” book as far as psychological thrillers, I also think that it has a bit of everything for everyone. I think it’s a book that could make you laugh or snicker, could make you ponder the issues raised in it, draws you in with a slew of mysteries, could be just as horrifying as it is thrilling and suspenseful, and that it could tug at your heart so much that it could make you cry. There’s even a bit of romance in there, too.

When I crafted this novel, I wanted to write not just a book that you read, but an experience. I wanted this to be a book that, after you turned that last digital page, you had to sit in silence for a while just to take it all in, and that you could re-read and still get something new and enjoyable out of it. And with so few really big movies and TV shows coming out this summer, and this year’s most hyped Big-Pub-House books already long out, I think that this novel could be the piece of entertainment that people are looking for to fill their summer. I truly hope it’s talked about.

Thank you, Katisha. It’s been a pleasure being here with you.

KS: Michael, thank you so much for participating in our Author Q & A and letting Reel Literature be part of the TMOTR Blog Tour.

___________________________

The Man on the Roof Book Cover

Someone has been creeping in the dark while the others sleep, and they’ve done terrible, terrible things. The Man On The Roof is a tension-building psychological mystery-suspense thriller that propels the reader through a tangled, volatile, and suspenseful thicket of deception, murder, and friends. Available on Kindle June 22

The Blog Tour

TMOTR Blog Tour Graphic

Obviously, we are just one stop on the tour, so keep the support for Michael and his newest novel, The Man On The Roof, going by following the tour:

Your Turn

So…is The Man On The Roof on your TBR List yet? How excited are you by a Captain Planet reboot? Are you feeling Michael’s gardening tips? What’s your next stop on the blog tour? Let us know in the comments! |RL

P.S. Want more Reel Lit? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Reel Literature Digest!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Wizard Profile Picture

I’m Katisha, the wizard behind Reel Literature. As a longtime book nerd, I hate to see an amazing book spoiled by a lackluster movie. Join me as I read the books that have definitely been watered down and most likely ruined by Hollywood. With a lot of humor and a little snark, I share my thoughts on all things books and the movies they inspire. Find me in these internet streets on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!