Today is a historical day for me. I’m conducting my first ever guest post with the very talented and charismatic Steven Ramirez. Steven has been a writer for several years and his honest and open account of his life makes this interview very exciting – read on and find out why.
First of all I would like to welcome you Steven to my first ever guest blog. For me it’s a very special interview and one that I will always remember. We met only a couple of months ago through social networking and I have to say I was so impressed by your writing resume that I found myself trying to find out more about the person known as Steven Ramirez.
So tell me Steven, what was it that made you take up the pen and start writing?
Thanks to my mother, I started reading at a very young age. So I’ve always had an appreciation of story. I was particularly fond of dark fairy tales. My father also had a great love of the written word and often helped me with my compositions in school. I can’t say what made me want to start writing, but looking back I think it had something to do with wanting a more active role in the storytelling.
I’m guessing you started reading at an early age so what was the first book that really blew you away as a teenager and why?
Wow, there were so many. Probably my favourite author when I was young is Kurt Vonnegut. I absolutely loved The Sirens of Titan and Player Piano because they were sort of sci-fi gone horribly wrong. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was important to me because of the way of the way he captured insanity on paper. I’ll also add that Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint was a revelation—pretty vivid.
Of all the genres why is horror your most favourable subject to write about?
I know you want me to give you a clear explanation but, quite honestly, I don’t know. I can tell you that as a child I loved to watch horror movies on late night television. There used to be a show here in LA in the early sixties called ‘Jeepers Creepers Theater.’ The host, Bob Guy, would dress up like a ghoul more suited to the Tenderloin district in San Francisco than the graveyard. In any case, he showed old scary movies. I also loved to watch ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Outer Limits,’ ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ and ‘Thriller,’ which was hosted by the venerable Boris Karloff. When I wasn’t watching TV, I read Edgar Allan Poe and Mad Magazine. So, yeah, I’m pretty twisted.
Would you share with us a little of your writing career and perhaps reveal where you would like to be in five year’s time.
That’s a great question. I’ve been doing “real” writing since I was fifteen. Mostly poetry at that time—hey, I was a lovesick teenager. In college I shot 8mm and 16mm films, and later I wrote and directed a short comedy in 35mm.
By the time college came around, I was writing screenplays. I honestly thought I would end up a successful screenwriter in Hollywood. It’s a tough road, though. I did manage to sell one screenplay, which was made into a feature film called ‘Killers,’and showed at festivals and eventually ended up on DVD.
A couple of years ago, I decided that it was time to become a published author. So I got together my best short stories and published them on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Not all of them are in the horror genre, by the way. I’m planning to publish my new zombie novel this summer. We’ll see how it’s received. In five years, I hope to have published several more novels.
On your long and successful journey as a novelist/screenwriter what is the one thing (if anything) that has disappointed you over the years?
Again, Hollywood is a brutal place to try and become successful. My biggest disappointment was never achieving that great status as a screenwriter. But I’ve left that behind and, frankly, I feel much better. Every day is a blessing, and I am happy that there are stories in my head for me to write down and share with others.
What do you feel has given you inspiration?
People inspire me—especially my family. I don’t know about other writers, but to me there is music in everything that people around me say and do. Somehow I incorporate those things into my stories. They don’t come out as they were intended, of course. Somewhere along the way, I take a left turn and go off into some strange new territory.
Would you like to tell us about your new up and coming project?
As I said, I am planning to publish my new zombie novel this summer. The eBook will be published first, followed by a paperback later on. It’s about a guy named Dave, a twentysomething who is married and is a recovering alcoholic. Things are going great till people start coming back from the dead—including his best friend. On top of that, a woman who Dave was cheating with suddenly wants him back, so now his marriage is ruined. The questions the book poses are (a) will Dave be able to survive the rise of the zombies? and (b) will he be able to save his marriage?
Although your book ‘A Bone In The Throat’ was more of a thriller, what has steered you back to horror and zombies for your next novel?
I’ve never actually written a zombie story so I really wanted to do it. There are plenty of other ideas floating around in my head right now but this one bubbled to the top. Frankly, I am more interested in Dave and his messed-up marriage than I am about any zombie apocalypse. Zombies are fine but seeing how people try to survive is more interesting to me.
I’m curious. When you’re writing your stories does your brain go into overdrive when you start writing your action scenes and do you sometimes suffer an adrenalin rush?
I don’t know about an adrenalin rush, but I definitely get excited when writing action scenes. Those almost come out as shorthand because I tend to think in images. Afterward when I’ve calmed down I have to go back and flesh them out.
I have been very privileged to be able to read the first two chapters of your soon to be released novel. Without giving too much away I have to say I really enjoyed the way you start off your story, especially the hook. Your dialogue streams along with such a natural flow that I was soon absorbed in your story and wanted to read more. I would like to ask whether you find creating conversation between your characters an easy thing to do or do you sometimes struggle?
I really appreciate the compliment. I don’t find writing dialogue a struggle. I think it’s all those years of writing screenplays. I hear it in my head and essentially transcribe what I am hearing. Of course, the challenging part for any writer is to give each character a unique voice. That’s where I spend a lot of my time in terms of dialogue.
What valuable advice would you give any new writers out there who are just starting out?
The best advice I can provide is to read—read everything. Get to know the styles of different authors from different periods. And read international authors too. Try to learn why a scene works—or why it doesn’t. One of the best ways to learn dialogue is to watch movies. But don’t just watch them—study them. Films like ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ can teach you so much about good, tightly written dialogue that propels the story forward. And read James Scott Bell. I would also read Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a master class on how to write as well as on how to think about writing.
Books By Steven Ramirez
What is the one thing—the only thing—you must remember when someone you love sleepwalks? Don’t wake them. Ever. John Walker knows this and has so far taken all the right precautions to protect his wife, Mary Kate. But sometimes no matter what you do, no matter how vigilant you are, things go
wrong.John is about to learn that evil is out there waiting for the right moment. And when it strikes, it hungers for more than Mary Kate. It wants their daughter, Lucy. But it’s not his fault—it’s not anyone’s fault.
Sometimes bad things just happen.
“‘Walker’ is well-written with vibrant characters and natural dialogue. I was only sorry it ended so soon. I don’t want to give too much away since this is a short read, but suffice to say, supernatural shenanigans are afoot. I’m glad to say I’ve found another horror writer to follow.” 5 Stars
Please be advised that this is a short story and is around 5,900 words.
A Bone In The Throat
Mercer has made a good living conning the elderly out of their homes all over the country. Then one of his victims commits suicide. Now Mercer finds himself trapped in a house with a talented surgeon looking for
revenge. How far would you go to right a wrong?
“I thought the ‘punishment’ was very apt and the way the title related to the tale was genius. I loved this short story.” 5 Stars
Please be advised that this is a short story, and is around 5,300 words.
“I loved it!” 5 Stars
“Such a cute short story for tweens to read!”5 Stars
“This was a nice read.” 5 Stars. “Keep them coming Mr. Ramirez.” 5 Stars
Please be advised that this is a middle grade novel, and is around 6,400 words.
Steven, I have to say it’s been fascinating learning more about you.
You have shown you are extremely diverse in your writing and I have added the links to your books and their descriptions which show how you have your fingers in a lot of ‘genre pies’. I truly wish you every success in the future and I look forward to the release of your zombie novel later in the year.
Author of Sinners of Magic