Getting into writing – an interview with Steve McEllistrem


Steve McEllistrem has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. He writes both fiction and non-fiction, but his passion is in science fiction and speculative fiction, where he can let his imagination run a little wild. His novels include The Devereaux Dilemma, The Devereaux Disaster, The Devereaux Decision, The Devereaux Deity, and The Man Who Found His Moniker. His works have been selected as finalists for the Minnesota Book Award, the Midwest Book Award and the International Book Award. He also produces and hosts Write On! Radio in Minneapolis, where he interviews local, national and international authors.


What got you into writing?

I’ve been writing since high school, really. Though I didn’t begin to take it seriously until about 20 years ago, after college and other distractions. I always enjoyed the process of creating a new world or new characters, putting the pieces together into a puzzle that made some sort of sense.

I like to comment on the world in a way that doesn’t put people on the defensive, that doesn’t make them feel like I’m attacking them, because then they just build walls to keep my observations at bay. I’m sure I’m not always successful at that, but I try.

What inspires you?

Mostly what inspires me is the state of the world and our collective responsibility for it. We all want the world to be a better place, but we all have different ideas about what constitutes “better.”

I like to examine where we’re headed, show that to my readers, and let them decide if that’s really the direction we want to go.

What makes you write even when the nights are long, your fingers ache and your eyes droop?

Some stories just grab you. They suck you in, compelling you to reveal them, not just to your readers, but to yourself. You imagine characters in difficult situations and you have to find out what happens to them.

Are you a traditionalist (print) or a new-wave (ebook)?

I publish in both print and digital platforms.

Do you have a publisher or did you go the self-publishing route?

I started with self-publishing, then found a publisher that practices a new kind of publishing – sort of a hybrid of traditional publishing and self-publishing. I still pay a lot of the up-front costs, but I reap greater benefits than I would from a traditional publisher.

What do you aspire to achieve if you haven’t already and how can ‘we’ help?

I want my books to be read. It’s fine to write them, to get a sense of accomplishment from completing a large and difficult project. My Devereaux books (the Susquehanna Virus series), for example, took me over a decade to write. That’s a lot of effort for something that might end up on a shelf somewhere.

Any time I can do something to build readership, I’m eager to pursue that course of action.

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