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Thread: AW's Day of Listening - Interviews Thread

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  1. #11
    Elf Queen Yeshanu's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
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    Yeshanu interviews smsarber

    First off, an apology to Steve. I knew I couldn't get away with four perfect posts, and I messed up big. Steve's user name is smsarber, not smbarber. Sorry for any problems that caused to Steve and others. Now on with the fun.

    I met Steve in Uncle Jim's thread, and he struck me as a sensible guy with a lot to say about life. It always impresses me when someone can overcome adversity and turn their life around, and by this measure, Steve is one of the most impressive guys I've ever met.

    Tell us about yourself. What would you like us to know about you?

    I was born in St. Louis, April 6, 1976. I am the oldest of three boys, Nick, 24, and Josh, 19, are my brothers. My early home life was good, but I got into a rebellious streak at 15, about the same time I started drinking. Being so much older than my brothers was good for them. They saw me trying to throw my life away, and were able to learn from it. And they had a lot to learn from. When I was 19, I broke my neck and back in a car accident. Unable to work I started to sell drugs. I had traffic in and out of my parent's house constantly. I drank openly in front of my family, I played my guitar loud and fought with my dad. When I was 24 they finally threw me out.

    In July of 2004, I suffered three blood-clots in my right lung. The clots caused an infarction, or tear, in the lung tissue. The tear became a large abscess. The abscess was drained, but the scar tissue remained.

    Early May 2007 I began to have breathing problems. I didn't think it would be a big deal, I've had severe asthma my entire life, but the x-rays showed a significant portion of my right lung was non-functional. The scar tissue was growing, and choking out the good tissue. Surgery to remove the balloon of scar tissue would be the only solution.

    Three years after the original embolisms, July 23, 2007, I went in to have a thoracotomy/bullectomy. The surgeon would spread my ribs, cut out only the dead tissue, then staple me back together. Major surgery, so it was estimated I would remain in the hospital for a week. And the surgery went fine. The first two days of recovery went fine.

    I don't remember the third day. I threw another blood clot, my body filled with infection, and the doctors put me into a coma. When I opened my eyes again it was the middle of August. At first I couldn't even understand what my wife and my dad were telling me. I saw their lips move, I heard the words coming out their mouths, but I couldn't remember what the words meant. Of course, that first day I spent less than an hour awake.

    Over the next four weeks I had three more surgeries, two of which were minor. Two of my four chest tubes came out. I got stronger. My appetite came back. Then it was decided that they would have to put a wound in my back to promote good tissue growth on the inside of my rear chest-wall. This wound would be twelve centimeters deep, at a downward angle, nine-to-ten long, and about nine wide. They took a couple-inch wide chunk out of three ribs, and they just happened to be the ribs adjacent to where my back was broke.

    If I hadn't been sober when this happened, I would be dead now.

    What are you doing now?

    I am disabled. My wife Crystal and I have been married for seven and-a-half years, married May 5, 2001. We have a 7 year-old son named Randy, and a rabbit of indeterminate age and sex, named Yin-Yang-Yo, after the Woo-Foo rabbits in the Disney cartoon.

    When did you first realize you had a talent for writing? When did you start to believe it could be a viable career option?

    I always knew it was there, I just never had the patience to write when I drank. While I was in prison I started to write, it was horrid stuff, but I knew then that I could do it. And now that I am no longer able to work, it may be my only shot at a real career.

    What do you write?

    Short stories, novellas, novels

    What is your favorite genre to write in? To read in?

    Horror Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Horror Comedy

    How do you generate story ideas?

    Many times it starts as a line or two, an opening. Then the idea builds from there.

    Give us an example of a typical writing day.

    Frustrating! No, seriously. The only place in our apartment I can fit my desk is in the living room, so I have no peace to write. I really need to get a laptop!

    I read Stephen King's On Writing, which isn't really a guide-book, or anything, but does contain some useful stuff. He says the most important thing is to have a door you can shut. In my case, it's not possible, but it sure would help. I used to write at night, after Crystal and Randy were in bed, but since I have to get up in the morning to take Randy to school that is not an option anymore. I do my best to write during the day, but it has been hard to retrain myself to do it that way. But I'm getting there.

    What are your strong qualities as a writer?

    I speak the truth, as best I can.

    Your weaknesses?

    Stubbornness when people offer criticism and advice. But I've improved drastically in that area. Before I started this interview I looked over my rep point list, and in the beginning there were a lot of comments that boiled down to “rude!,” but now they are supportive. I'm particularly proud of that. I'm growing, and it feels nice.

    I'm still working on “show vs. tell,” I know what it is, and how to do it, but I seem incapable of recognizing it in my work.

    If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

    Egypt. It's warm there; I don't do cold well. And the history and culture would be inspiring.

    What inspires you to write and why?

    Various things. Lately, stories on “Cold Case Files”. If you want real horror, just look at what humanity has already done.

    What is your favorite book and why?

    Hard question. Ask me one day and it will be The Stand by Stephen King, ask me another day, and it's Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz. Genetically altered monkeys... creepy!

    What is your favorite genre and why?

    Horror. As a kid I got scared easily, so one day I decided to read the stories in Stephen King's Four Past Midnight. And every weekend my friends and I had sleep-overs watching movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Pretty soon I was hooked.

    List your three favorite authors (any genre) and why?

    Stephen King (bet'cha guessed that one already),
    Dean Koontz,
    James Patterson,
    they're just good storytellers.

    What do you think makes a writer successful?

    Semantics. Successful in business might not be successful as a writer. I want to be able to make a living writing, but not write to make a living, if that makes sense.

    What are your goals as a writer?

    Publication, independence, and respect.

    How long did it take you to write your book?

    I've been working on it for two years, but I've only been seriously writing about six months longer than that.

    What have you learned about the publishing world?

    Don't use Publish America!!

    If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why?

    Stevie Ray Vaughan. He was an awesome, ground-breaking blues guitarist who struggled to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. He did overcome, then tragically died in a helicopter crash.

    What is your favorite food?

    Probably hot-wings. Contrary to popular belief you can eat them without beer.

    What is your favorite color?

    Blue or Black, depending on my mood.

    What is your favorite place?

    Home with my family.

    What is your favorite memory?

    What memory?!

    If you could have any talent in the world besides writing, what would it be?

    I've played guitar for twenty years, and am a fair artist.

    Is there anything you'd like to tell us about yourself that might surprise people at AW?

    Well, since I talk openly about my time in jail and prison, that probably won't surprise anyone. But it was an integral part of my life. I spent eight months in county jail, got released on probation, stayed sober one month, and spent the next year (June '04- Sept. '05) hiding my drinking as well as I could. All the while hatred was growing inside my wife.

    September 29, 2005 I was arrested. After five DWI's it was time to go to prison. And it saved my life and my marriage. I didn't just dry out in the pen, I got help. The day after Christmas '05 Crystal told me she planned to divorce me. I couldn't believe it, but at the same time I understood it was time for a change. She agreed to wait until I was released and she would see how I did.

    I've been sober ever since.

    The professionals say you stop growing emotionally when you start drinking. If that is true, then I emerged from prison a fifteen year-old boy. And I know the way I have dealt with some things certainly have been immature. But I am growing. My writing is improving, and one of the coolest things I have is a son who loves me, not just because he's my son, but because I'm around, and he knows me. The old Daddy missed his second and fourth birthdays behind bars. Now he makes his own books. But even if he doesn't follow in my footsteps I will support him in whatever he wants to do, just like my family supports me in this dream to be a writer.
    Last edited by Stew21; 12-15-2008 at 12:45 AM. Reason: Ruth asked real nice. ;)

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