Doing a Story?
Get in touch with Steven
My insiders tell me you have two new horror novels about to hit the shelves.
Yes. The Lamia is being readied for published. It’s a horror novel that merges elements of The Exorcist, Dracula, greek mythology, and The Bible. Following that will be The Night Hag, the sequel to The Lamia. Then The Lust Gambit, which I wrote before The Lamia. I had that novel sold a few years ago, but the publisher went under. So I had to start over. It’ll be out in late 2021.
Horror is a new genre for you.
Yes and no. My novels are all thrillers, and I view horror as a sub-genre of thrillers. The story structure, the world-threatening stakes, and the character needs are identical. So it’s a natural fit.
Your first published novel, The Zeus Payload, is a techno-thriller, but most find the technology easy to follow. Was that intentional?
Yes. I was a computer scientist by schooling, and the technology is critical to the story and it’s believability, so I had to make sure the technology was correct, so that if a person in the field reads it, they’ll be satisfied with its plausibility and accuracy. At the same time, you don’t want to turn off the reader who lacks that background. So I tied to find a balance of accuracy and detail, without overwhelming the reader with technical minutia. Also, technology changes so fast, I didn’t want to get into specifics that would be quickly outdated.
You mentioned your first career was in engineering and the defense industry. How has that shaped you as a writer?
I use my engineering background every day in my career as a writer. Before I write anything, I do detailed planning. Character sketches, plot points, themes, and a detailed outline. This is the equivalent of design work in engineering. Then I write, which is equivalent to coding a piece of software. Then I rewrite and edit, which is equivalent to testing and integrating. Plus, I am able to leverage some of my experience in the thriller genre.
Any advice for writers just getting started?
I suggest two things beyond the obvious “get your butt in the chair and write.” Go to writers conferences and meet professionals. Spend time listening to their advice. They really do know what they’re doing. Second, hire a professional editor. After a year of working on the same 400 pages, you lose the ability to see what’s on the page. Your brain tricks you. Only an independent reviewer can see it for what it is.
Do you believe the threat described in The Zeus Payload is real?
Absolutely. Computer hacking gets more sophisticated every day. Look at all the publicity about election hacking. Most of the information about the threats aren’t in the public domain.
You mentioned spending a great deal of time on planning and editing. Can you describe how much time and effort goes into creating a novel?
I spent over three years working each of my novels. The first six months was planning and research. The next nine months was writing the first draft, which was junk, like all first drafts. Then another nine months rewriting and editing. Then it’s ready for a professional edit. I’m a big believer that an author needs independent editing by a seasoned pro. Then it’s ready to send to agents and publishers. If you’re lucky, they’ll give you feedback, which leads to another round of rewrites. Then, if you’re fortunate enough to have a publisher buy it, you’ll go through another round with their editors. The Zeus Payload had 18 rounds of editing with the publisher. It was with them a year before it got printed.
Do you have any special schooling for writing?
I have a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California. I use that and hundreds of interviews with agents and writers to run some exclusive writing workshops on structure, editing, characters, and the business.
When did you start writing for publication?
I wrote a novel in 1983, got the top literary agent in LA, and he tried to sell it. The feedback was good, but it wasn’t quite good enough to get a publisher. Then I wrote another one that wasn’t as good as the first. Then I had kids and spent many years with other priorities. In 2009 I retired from my engineering career to write full time.
Is it true you quit a good job to write full time?
Yes. But I don’t recommend it for most. I’m fortunate that I could pursue my passion without worrying too much about making a pile of money writing. Because you have little control over how books sell. Writing for profit is a tough business, and most people end up disappointed if their goal is to make a living. I prefer to write to be the best I can be, which is all I control.
I see you also write stage plays, a dozen of which have been produced, including four in international competitions.
Yes. I love live theatre, and I love writing short plays. Mostly comedies. It allows me to express a different side of me than my thriller novels. To use the third half of my brain. And the instant feedback you get from an audience laughing at all the right spots is very energizing.
Events and Appearances
Nothing scheduled at the moment. What’s up with that? Check back to learn about new upcoming events or subscribe to Steven’s blog to keep up with him!
April 6, 2020 – Steven G. Jackson gave a Zoom-based 90 minute talk on “Next Level Editing.”
The lecture provided detailed material on rewriting and editing that the author needs to do before handing the manuscript over to professional content and copy editors.
The 2020 version of 24 Hour Creative was performed at Camino Real Playhouse on Feb. 1, 2020.
Steven’s play, “Pharmaceuticals for Dummies,” was brilliantly produced, directed, and acted. This was his 10th produced stage play. Not bad for a recovering engineer.
The 2019 version of 24 Hour Creative was performed at Camino Real Playhouse on Feb. 2, 2019.
Steven’s play, “Psycho Therapist,” was brilliantly produced, directed, and acted.
Steven G. Jackson gave three writing workshops in December, 2018.
“Structure Matters” was given twice, both to small writing groups in a setting conducive to individual instruction. “Rewriting for the Pros” was given once in the same personalized setting.
Steven G. Jackson read his short story, “Life Dies, and Then You Suck” on August 21, 2018, at LitUP! OC in Tustin.
The story was published in the highly-acclaimed fiction anthology, It’s All in the Story.
The Zeus Payload World Tour continued on April 3, 2018, at the Dana Point Library in Dana Point, CA.
Steven spoke on “One Hour MFA in Professional Writing” from 5-7PM.
The 2018 version of 24 Hour Creative was performed at Camino Real Playhouse on Feb. 3, 2018.
Steven’s play, “The Optimism of Youth,” was brilliantly produced, directed, and acted.
The book launch for It’s All in the Story was Nov. 2, 2017, at Book Carnival in Orange, CA.
Two of Steven’s short stories, “Full Service” and “Life Dies and Then You Suck” were published as part of the SCWA short fiction Anthology – It’s All in the Story.
June 26, 2017 – Steven G. Jackson appeared at Long Beach Searches for the Greatest Storyteller.
His story will convinced people he is the most dangerous man to go on vacation with.
May 19, 2017 – Steven G. Jackson joined the Reading Between the Wines Book Club in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
Thanks to Sharon Rippy for the invite. We had a lively discussion and The Zeus Payload, and writing in general.
August 29, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson appeared at Long Beach Searches for the Greatest Storyteller.
Invited back as a finalist for their annual award based on winning the story competition in January. Good storytelling is the backbone of writing.
July 16, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson spoke at the Southern California Writers Association.
Steve’s topic, “Structure Matters: Engineering a Novel,” was a hit with the SCWA.
May 9, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson appeared on live radio.
You can hear the show at Steven G Jackson interview on Rated G Radio for the remainder of 2016.
April 20, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson spoke on The Making of The Zeus Payload at the Crowell Public Library in San Marino, CA., as part of their “Meet the Author” series.
Thanks to Irene and Celia for inviting and hosting me at the Crowell Public Library in San Marino, CA. I presented “The Making of The Zeus Payload”, followed by a spirited Q&A session, and a book signing. Good times.
February 18, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson joined the Palos Verdes Estates Gourmet Book Club in Palos Verdes Estates, CA.
A heartfelt thank you to the PVE Gourmet Book Club Book Club, which selected The Zeus Payload as their featured book for February. I attended their meeting on Thursday, and we spent three hours discussing the book, the craft of writing, and the business of writing. I had a spectacular time, and the food and wine were worthy of their name.
February 13, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson appeared at Book Carnival in Orange, CA.
Thank you to Anne at Book Carnival, where I read from The Zeus Payload, got interviewed by Lance Charnes, and then signed books.
February 10, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson joined The Best of Everything Book Club in Pleasanton, CA.
A heartfelt thank you to The Best of Everything Book Club, which selected The Zeus Payload as their featured book for February. I attended their meeting on Wednesday, and we spent two hours discussing the book, the craft of writing, and the business of writing. I had a wonderful time, and their positive comments about the book were very kind, and a joy to hear.
February 6, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson’s stage play “The Master Playwright” at Camino Real Playhouse.
February 6, 2016 – Steven G. Jackson’s stage play “The Master Playwright” at Camino Real Playhouse.
October 30, 2015 – Steven G. Jackson shared his insights into Writing a Thriller at Killer Nashville.
Killer Nashville is a premier writer’s conference, held annually in Nashville, Tennessee. At this year’s conference, fresh off his debut novel, The Zeus Payload, thriller writer Steven G. Jackson shared his insights on writing successful thrillers as part of the “How to Write a Thriller” panel. Along with fellow panelists David Bell, Patrick Kendrick, and David Putnam, Steven discussed the structure, characters, and setting that make for an awesome thriller. Each panelist brought their own experience to the party, and the result was a balanced and helpful session for the 25+ writers in attendance.
October 27th, 2015 – Steven G. Jackson joined the Gloria Dei Book Club after The Zeus Payload is selected as featured book of October.
A heartfelt thank you to the Gloria Dei Book Club, which selected The Zeus Payload as their featured book for October. I attended their meeting on Tuesday, and we spent two hours discussing the book, the craft of writing, and the business of writing. I had a wonderful time, and their positive comments about the book were very kind, and a joy to hear.