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It’s time for another Behind the Quill author interview. This time, the ingenious Steven Montano, author of the best-selling Blood Skies Series, was willing to give me a few minutes of his time. (And he answered the questions all on his own – I didn’t even have to let the zombies chase him! How cool is that?)

Here’s what Steven had to share with us today:

Me: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

SM: I was pretty young, probably in junior high, but I didn’t actually start to write on a regular basis until I was almost out of high school. My first short story was AWFUL (it basically involved a woman killing a guy with a telephone…don’t ask), but I kept practicing, and eventually produced an 80-page horror novella for a creative writing class. I think that was when I decided I wanted to write novels.

Me: Tell us about the very first time you had a book published. What did you do? How did you feel?

SM: Well, that was BLOOD SKIES, and I pretty much flipped out. It was exciting, it was awesome, it was thrilling…and it was nerve-wracking as well, because that meant total strangers out there in the world might actually read my books.

Blood Skies, Black Scars, and Soulrazor are now available! Grab your copies today!

Me: Does your wife read your books? What about your parents? Your kids? How do they feel about them?

SM: My wife reads my books after-the-fact, and while they aren’t exactly her normal reading material (she actually doesn’t read much fiction), she says she enjoys them. She’s a big TV sci-fi nut, though, and I often bounce ideas off her, and she helps with some difficult plot-points. My daughter read Book 1 and enjoyed it, though, in her words, it had “too much death”. ;D

Me:  If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, which one would you be and why?

SM: Hmmm…I’d probably be Cross, but only on one of his days off. It would be cool to play with magic, but I wouldn’t want to experience the crap I put him through.

Me:  Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

SM: The unofficial theme of the series is finding one’s place in the world, and learning ways to battle isolation and regret. Those are things I’ve struggled with most of my life, and I guess a lot of that comes across in my work. I also love world-building, and the notion of never really being able to define all of the rules of the reality that we live in. That sort of uncertainty is terrifying to me, and I think it makes for a disturbing setting.

Me: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best complement?

SM: Toughest criticism: one reviewer said my work came across as a half-assed creative lit project. That kind of pissed me off. But that was one guy’s opinion, and about 90% of the reviews I’ve received have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m not sure if I have a “best compliment” – every compliment makes my head spin. =D

Me:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

SM: I refuse to edit until I finish the rough draft. Not sure why.

Me: Tell us about a really fantastic novel you’ve read recently? Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

SM: It has, unfortunately, been a while since a new author has really grabbed me. The most recent was John Meaney, whose “Black Blood” was a true marvel of sci-fi/urban horror. The best novel I most recently read was probably “Embassytown” by China Mieville, but I will say that “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was also pretty awesome, and lived up to its hype.

Me: What are your three favorite forms of procrastination?

SM: I actually don’t procrastinate much. It’s sort of a problem, really. I try to budget my time and schedule things out, but when I sit down to work, I get pretty psychotically focused on what I’m doing.

Me:  If you cook, which I know you do, what type of food is your favorite and would you mind sharing a recipe?

SM: I like fish. You’ve already seen my Cajun tilapia recipe, but I may have to share that one again, because it was awesome. ;D I’m really kind of a fan of anything I can cook in a cast iron skillet. http://bloodskies.com/cajun-style-tilapia-sandwiches/

Me: Are you a pet owner? If so, what pets do you have and their names?

SM: We have a totally schizophrenic dog named Lulu. She drives me insane.

Me: What would YOU like your readers to know about this book or you in general? What do you want readers to see in your books?

SM: I write books that I enjoy reading. That’s pretty much the bottom line. They’re filled with action, vivid imagery, dark settings, creative world building, and characters worth caring about. They may not be for all tastes, but I’ve put my heart and soul into each and every sentence, and I hope you like them. =D

Me: Tell us a little about your current or upcoming release. Will you have a new book coming out soon?

SM:Soulrazor: (Book 3 in the series) just came out a couple of weeks ago. “Tales of a Blood Earth 2”, a new short story, comes out sometime in mid April. Book 4 of the series, “Crown of Ash”, will be out sometime in August, and there may be another release squeezed somewhere in the middle. ;D

Me: What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?

SM: Don’t go about this half-heartedly. Put as much time, work and effort into your writing, editing, marketing, cover, etc. as you possibly can. If you just churn out something quickly, people will recognize that. But if you give it your all and stick with it, even when it feels like no one is paying attention, I promise you’ll find at least some measure of success.

Me:  Thank you so much for being here today and offering that exceptional advice. For the record, I really liked Blood Skies and I’ve just started Black Scars. Your novel was the first Post-Apocalyptic Military Dark Fantasy (with vampires!) that I had read and you’ve totally converted me!

Here’s a little more about Steven:
Author Bio: I’m Steven Montano, full-time accountant and full-time writer.  Yes, I use up a lot of time. I’ve been writing as a hobby for almost 20 years. “Blood Skies” is a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy fiction series.  It has magic, guns, vampires and zombies.  Really, what more could you want?
With the first three novels in the BLOOD SKIES series under my belt, I’m currently hard at work on CROWN OF ASH, Book 4 in the series. I also occasionally play D&D, work out far too often for my aging bones to handle, father two medically challenged but extremely wonderful children, and lend love and support to my insanely fantastic wife, who also happens to be the mastermind behind Liberty’s Yarn.

You can follow Steven on his blog and learn more about his novels (and a great tilapia recipe!) at his website: Blood Skies. Also follow him on Twitter – I do!

So, what did you think? Do you have other questions for Steven? If so, post them in the comments and I’ll see if I can get him answer a few of them for us.