As an actor Stephen Jared has appeared in feature films, such as He’s Just Not That Into You, and on television in popular shows such as iCarly, 24, and Touched by an Angel (plus commercials for both radio and television). His writings have appeared in various publications. In 2010, his first novel, Jack and the Jungle Lion, received much critical praise, including an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Hollywood Book Festival. Solstice Publishing released his second novel, Ten-A-Week Steale, hailed as a “fantastic work in the tradition of the old pulp/noir masters.” His third novel, The Elephants of Shanghai, continues on from where Jack and the Jungle Lion left off; both books will be included in the same release, available from Solstice Publishing in early 2013. Stephen lives in Pasadena, California.
I was wondering where you get your story ideas?
Movies. I’m especially fond of classic Hollywood. My published novels so far have all been set in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. My latest release – The Elephants of Shanghai – is probably influenced mostly by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Rocketeer, and the 1931 Mask of Fu Manchu with Boris Karloff.
What is your usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I try not to have a usual process. I’ve been a plotter and a pantser. My crime novel, Ten-A-Week Steale, needed to be unpredictable as there are so many noir-inspired stories set in Los Angeles. And so, it benefitted from the type of approach where I didn’t really know where I was going. The Action Jack adventures needed a more classic feel, so I devised more rigid structures. I recently wrote a psychological thriller screenplay, and I wanted it to have a feeling of urgency, a feeling of great desperation. So, I wrote much of it while weaving through LA traffic, which I spend an enormous amount of time doing anyway. Some writers, no doubt, work best with a routine. For me, I just get better ideas if I mix things up.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
What is your daily writing like?
I’m an early morning person. I come back to it at the end of the day. I will typically leave it alone in the middle of the day, as I get too busy with other things. I pretty much never write at night. I’m usually too beaten down by then. I don’t strive for a certain number of words per day or anything. That makes sense if you have a deadline. I think it’s best not to have a deadline or set parameters for quantity. It’s art. What pride is there to be had in writing five thousand words in a day if none of it is any good? I work hard. I’m very disciplined. But in the end, all that matters is – is it any good?
Are you a full time writer? If so, when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision? If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
I’m not a full time writer. Would I like to be? Sure. The world is changing though, and I suspect it’s going to become more difficult to make a decent living as an artist. The stunning volume of work produced and the flood of new distribution channels for those works has devalued everything. The good news is it’s easier to get products into the marketplace than ever before; the bad news is it’s easier to get products into the marketplace than ever before. That’s the same for music, movies and books. I’ve seen it as an actor – lot of people working just as hard as they did ten years ago, but for less money.
Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher?
I’ve been working with Solstice Publishing and they’ve been terrific. I think they genuinely love books. There’s nothing snooty about them. They work hard. They’re accessible. I believe their books have been successful to varying degrees. They’ve had a few optioned for film. I like them a lot. They’re always looking to build, grow, and improve. I’m extremely grateful to them.
My latest – just released! – is The Elephants of Shanghai. It’s the sequel to an adventure story I wrote called Jack and the Jungle Lion. That book earned an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Hollywood Book Festival, and it’s included in this new book for free as a bonus. These are light-hearted romantic adventures set in exotic locations. With each story I aimed to capture the feeling I had as a kid when I’d walk out of a movie theater, and I really missed the characters and the fun we had. For two hours you believed they were your friends, and then the credits rolled and they were gone. You desperately hoped they’d come back so you could go on another adventure together.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing?
Ten-A-Week Steale is set in 1920s Los Angeles. It’s a much darker novel as compared to the adventure stories. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for nearly a quarter of a century. I’ve been fascinated by its history since before I arrived. It’s tough guy stuff – guns and sexy film actresses. But there’s an authenticity to it. It doesn’t read as pure fantasy. As to other writings, I’ve written articles and conducted interviews with some people whose work I admire – people like Lonesome Dove director Simon Wincer, and world famous movie poster artist Drew Struzan. Some of those can be found on my website.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to author?
I’ve been writing my whole life. The vast majority of my efforts have resulted in failure. Yet I keep going. It’s just what I do. When I see people toasting each other at Happy Hour or practicing their golf swing, I just think – I’d rather be writing.
Who is your favorite author, and can you recommend a book or series by that author?
I don’t really have a favorite author – maybe William Boyd among contemporary authors. Recommendations? Hmm … Lately, I’ve been reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. They’re outrageous stories written with such cool casual prose. Fleming was a terrific writer.