Born in Simcoe, Ontario, Richard began writing in 1974 at a young age. A circuitous route eventually led him to full-time writing at a later age, which demonstrates that passion should always be followed.
WG: What was the book you and your friend wrote (Hardy Boys style), and what became of that manuscript?
RS: The book was called, The Stobetts, The Falls that Weren’t. The title of the series combined my last name, Stephens, with my best friend’s last name, Corbett—the Stobetts. Thus, Paul and I became my version of Frank and Joe Hardy.
I still have the original manuscript that I wrote when I was 9. It is safely stored in a secret room that is accessed through a movable bookshelf in my home library.
WG: As a young writer faced with having to support a child versus writing (at all), how did you reconcile to go work full time, and was there any hope of writing at any time?
RS: There was little time for me to write. I left school in grade 10 to support my first child. As the sole money earner, I worked a lot of overtime. As I grew older, I had more children and two careers, so finding time to write was difficult.
WG: Looking back, do you wish you’d done it differently?
RS: Absolutely. I should have found more time for myself to write, but who knows what my books would look like today? Everything works out for a reason, so perhaps this was the best way for me.
WG: What is the best part of the process for you? Worst part?
RS: As a writer who doesn’t plot, (I always know the ending of a series, but I never know how I’m going to get there), the best part about writing is that I get to discover the story just as my readers do. When my characters decide to do bizarre things, I’m as shocked as anyone reading along.
Being independently published, the worst part of the writing business is marketing and promoting my books. I don’t enjoy doing it, and I never will. Fortunately, I have the luxury of someone who takes over this part for me—my wife, Caroline.
WG: What’s your writing routine look like.
RS: I write from Monday to Friday. I get up early every morning and am in my home office by 8. I look after social media and emails for the first part of the morning and then set into editing what I wrote on the previous writing day. That usually takes me to lunchtime. In the afternoon, I sit down to write for a few hours. If I get 2,000 to 2,500 words written, that’s a good day for me.
WG: Do you get negative criticism, and if so, how do you deal with it?
RS: Being a writer can be a lonely occupation, especially between book releases. As a creator, negative criticism is like a slap in the face. It stings, but just like the slap, it goes away. Fortunately, I have enough amazing fans that have an uncanny knack for lifting me up whenever something brings me down. For that, I will always be grateful.
WG: What was the impact of reading Stephen R. Donaldson and Terry Brooks?
RS: Their impact was powerful and life-changing. They instilled in me my love of reading fantasy, and then, a few years later, my love of writing it as well.
WG: Why did you go back to finish high school?
RS: As much as I appreciated my job as a shipper at Weston’s Bakery, I had always aspired to do something more.
Back when I was growing up, to think that I could actually publish a book was nothing more than a fantasy.
In my 30’s, I went back to school to get my high school diploma. I grew up wanting to be a police officer, but I am legally blind in one eye, so I could never pass the physical.
When I was 38, however, I found out that I could become a special constable and work in the court systems. The major difference in our roles is that I wasn’t on the road at all hours of the day and night. Instead, I worked Monday to Friday during the day, dealing with the many hard-nosed criminals who entered the justice system.
WG: What prompted you to resign from the police force?
RS: I’m not a big and tough guy. Nor do I have the Alpha personality that is so often required to deal with the 5% of the population that we encounter. The stress of handling hardened criminals day in and day out wore on me. It was only a matter of time before my health suffered as a result. Realizing that, my wonderful wife and I decided it was time to leave the police service and allow me to realize my fantasy and write full-time.
WG: 33 years, two jobs/careers. Was the plan always to return to writing?
RS: Not until that fateful day my wife and I concluded that my job in the police service was detrimental to my mental and physical health. Sure, deep inside, I always wanted to become a full-time writer, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that would become a reality, but here I am.
WG: Any advice to new writers?
RS: Believe in yourself. Don’t try to be Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Terry Brooks. The world already has those amazing authors. What the world doesn’t have is you.
WG: Anything else you would like to mention?
RS: Along with Christie Stratos and David M. Kelly, I cohost a Live Video-cast. ‘Lurking for Legends’ airs live every Tuesday night at 8 PM EST.
Our broadcast is primarily designed to give back to the writing community that has been so instrumental in helping us achieve our own goals. We livestream to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch TV.
My favorite part of the show is the monthly Live Read, in which we invite fellow authors to read excerpts from their stories for our audience. It’s so much fun. Here is the link to view our latest Live Read: HERE.
Be sure to watch well into the middle (around the 38-minute mark). Things get a little crazy!
I would also like to announce the upcoming release of my next book in the Soul Forge Universe. Windwalker is set to release this summer! █
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