Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Sunday, July 26, 2020

TAKE TEN with Steven Manchester, author of THE MENU

by Cyrus Webb

For years I have been a fan of author Steven Manchester. Through fiction he is able to share not just some entertaining stories but some real-life lessons that the reader can take away from them. His newest, THE MENU, is so different. Though a tad different in subject matter the message is one that is typical Steven Manchester. We discuss his literary success and new book in this Take Ten. Enjoy!

Steven, great to catch up with you again. Congratulations on the new book THE MENU. We’ll get more into it soon, but I want to begin with this writing journey for you. What has it been like for you to do what you love from book to book and see the response from readers?
It’s been a dream come true. It really has. From a young age, I wanted to be a writer. Twenty-five years ago, I  embarked on that journey and never looked back. Even during the failures, it’s been worth every second of my time and effort. The love I’ve received in return from my readers is the icing on the cake.

You have definitely given us some great stories, but there are some themes that seem consistent: family, faith and forgiveness. Is this just a part of who you are, or do you find they just find themselves naturally into your work?
I would have to say both. I write reality-based fiction and, although it’s a bit cliché, we can only write about what we know, who we know, and where we’ve been. Family means everything to me. I believe that we’re all connected.  As long as I’m writing stories for my children, I figure I can never go wrong, and I would never waste their time with anything that doesn’t have meaning.

With THE MENU the faith element is probably the strongest we have seen. How did the story come about?
When I first started, I knew I did not have the skill set to pull off a story of this scale and depth. The Menu is a story of hope and healing, of finding real peace. Originally, I wanted to write a story that had the potential to break my children’s fear of death. That naturally evolved into a spiritual work and, in my opinion, the best story I’ve ever written. None of us are ever alone, not ever, and The Menu was written to show that.

Like some of your other characters Phinn is definitely flawed yet so relatable. What was it like to navigate the world through his eyes and experiences?
Phinn was an easy character for me to develop because he is so flawed. I don’t think people relate to characters that are perfect. The trick to pulling off a story like this is to make the characters as real and relatable as possible. By doing that, the reader is able to feel the character’s joys as well as his sorrows. And as soon as we move from thinking into feeling, we have a novel worth reading.

One of the big messages in THE MENU is the importance of making the most of each and every day. How has that message served you well? 
As you know, I served in the first Gulf War. It was a brutal experience. But sometimes in the shadows, I think we’re able to see what’s truly important in life. Being an optimist and seeing the glass as half full has allowed me to live a joyous life, filled with hope and purpose. I’m trying to teach my children to approach each day the same way.

I mentioned your readers earlier. What has that part of the experience been like to see how they have gotten the message of THE MENU?
I’ve always been blessed to receive some amazing feedback for my novels. The Menu has been at a whole different level. I am incredibly humbled by the kind words that people have sent me when providing feedback on this novel.  The story is clearly affecting most folks at a deeper level. Conversations about purpose and passion, faith and forgiveness, have all been a part of the book’s discussion. I honestly feel blessed that I was able to write the story, and I feel equally blessed that my readers have been willing to jump into the deep side of the pool with me.

You and I haven’t met each other yet, Steven, but social media has kept us connected. How have you used that tool in your marketing as an author?
We haven’t met in person yet, though I do feel quite connected to you and your work. At first, I hated social media. There’s so much hate and divisiveness spread on these platforms—where courage is not required for people to express their biases. I’ve since learned that we can also use the platforms to unite and spread positive messages. Social media has been an effective tool for me to get the word out about my work. If it wasn’t for Facebook and Twitter, the kids I graduated from Kindergarten with would never know I’m a writer.

2020 has been a different kind of year for all of us. What has it been like adjusting to promote a book while dealing with a pandemic?
Writing time has been in surplus thanks to being quarantined. Promoting books, however, has been the opposite. Social media is fantastic for marketing, but it doesn’t come remotely close to meeting my readers face-to-face and discussing one of my books that they’ve just read. With The Menu, I intend to promote the story long after we’ve all been vaccinated for the Coronavirus. I’m remaining optimistic.

You’ve been able to consistently deliver great work. You don’t stop. Unfortunately so many out there haven’t even started doing what they are passionate about. Any advice you want to share with our readers about the importance of going after their goals and dreams and not giving up?
The simplest advice I can give is this: For me, it’s all about the three P’s—Purpose, Passion, and Perseverance. I believe that the trick to success and joy is to first find your purpose. Once you do, pour all of your passion into it. Perseverance will take care of the rest.

Always a pleasure, Steven. How can our readers stay connected with you and get their copy of the books?
The pleasure is mine, my friend. I can’t thank you enough for your continued support. I love to follow your successes and accomplishments, as well. I’m proud to count you amongst my friends.
The best place to get The Menu—in both print an e-book—is on Amazon.

No comments:

Post a Comment