Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Tell us a bit about you – where you’ve been, how you got here, where you’re going.
I’ve been writing seriously since I was a teenager … first songs, and then I got hooked on prose while attending university in Canada. After completing undergraduate studies, I spent many years living and working overseas, particularly in Japan.
Somewhere along the way I earned graduate degrees at Columbia and the University of Iowa, and I continued to write … getting some short plays published, along with articles and a nonfiction book titled RAISING A CHILD TO BE BILINGUAL AND BICULTURAL, based on my and my Japanese wife’s experience raising our children to be fluent in both parents’ native languages and cultures. More recently I’ve been concentrating on fiction, and my first novel, TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART, was released by Saga Books earlier this year. A second novel, PLAN B, will be published by Saga Books in 2009.
Tell us about Tough Love, Tender Heart and how it went from idea to published book.
Well, it’s the story of Don Fisher, a middle-aged misfit—just about everything has gone wrong in his life—who finally meets the sort of woman he’s given up on ever meeting. This happens while he’s on vacation in Venezuela.
The woman, Ana, is Colombian, working as a waitress in Caracas, and while the two don’t exactly have a storybook romance, a child is conceived during Don’s vacation. He doesn’t learn this until he’s back in the States, but from that point on his energy is directed toward marrying Ana and bringing her to live in the US. Little does he realize the obstacles US Immigration is going to put in his path.
As far as the inspiration behind the book goes, I’m a partner in an international marriage, though I’ve got to admit my wife and I never faced many of the problems Don and Ana do. I’ve talked to people who have, though, and I think there’s a certain arbitrary nature to immigration matters that has to be addressed. And what better way to address it than in the context of a tale about unlikely love … love similar in ways to Robert and Francesca’s in The Bridges of Madison County … love trying to take root in a difficult if not impossible situation?
When the manuscript was completed I sent a proposal to some publishers and agents—maybe fifteen or twenty in all—and received some encouragement but no offers. Working against me, perhaps, was the fact the manuscript was less than 50,000 words—and, of course, there’s a very tight market for new fiction.
Then a further search for publishers of fiction led me to Saga Books, based in an area of western Canada where I used to live. I contacted Ruth Thompson of Saga Books, sent her a proposal and sample, and things started moving forward from there.
What is the one thing you like the most and the one thing you dislike the most about Don Fisher?
Well, he cuts his own path at times. He’s open to change, too, and I like that. What I don’t like is that he’s so focused on himself and his problems. He’s really a talented guy, and if he were more oriented toward the outside he’d have a lot to offer.
How did you become a writer?
As I said, it started with songs. You can listen, by the way, to a few of my songs on my myspace page, which is accessible through stevenverrier.com. My writing interest branched out to prose when I attended the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada, and I credit a lot of that discovery to Prof. Frank Ledwell, who mentored a lot of young writers during his distinguished career there. “Discovery” is the key word because I think I was born a writer and just happened to discover it during my teens.
What would you say is the most difficult thing about being a writer?
Perhaps the solitude. The tension. If you work at another job, as I do, you’re always busy. Evenings and weekends aren’t free time; there’s always writing or related activities to be done.
If you could pick any author to collaborate with, who would it be?
Maybe Stephen King, because he’s so prolific and I’d like some of that to rub off on me. On the other hand, it would be fun to work with a writer who hit it big but isn’t so prolific … maybe a Harper Lee or a Salinger. I’d like to try and coax some more great work out of them.
Do you have any interesting writing habits/quirks?
I’m not sure how interesting it is, but the first draft of everything I write is in longhand. I’m probably about a quarter-century behind in my absorption of new technologies.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given/learned in your life as a writer?
Write about what you know … from your own unique perspective … and you’ll end up with a book no one else could write. Whatever else happens, you’ll have something to be proud of. And, of course, grit your teeth and be ready to face rejection—and to outlast it.
When you’re not writing, what are you doing?
Currently I’m working as a high school English teacher. I’m also the father of four boys, two of them toddlers, so nights involve reading a lot of storybooks.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers here?
I’ll be around for the long haul doing whatever it takes to carve out a significant writing career. I appreciate every little step along the way, and I appreciate every little bit of support I get. For information about Tough Love, Tender Heart or about Steven Verrier, please visit stevenverrier.com, and drop me a line telling me what you think about this book.
Thank you very much for coming by this blog. I wish you great successes with Tough Love, Tender Heart.
My pleasure. Thanks so much for this opportunity to introduce myself and my work.