Sunday, March 13, 2011

with Stephen Bly

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Stephen!
What started you on your writing journey?

It’s all my wife’s fault. She got me into it. After going to a couple writer’s conferences, she asked permission to submit some articles and short stories she edited out of my sermons. . .and took a book proposal from a study I’d done for college students to Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. All of them were accepted. After I got the first checks I said, “Hey, I think I’ll do my own writing.”

So, it was my wife’s insistence that I had something to say to folks beyond my local congregation.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Historical accounts of all sorts. . .especially western history and other resource books for 1870-1910. That’s the era for my novels. I’ve always loved history. Some of my favorite classic fiction writers: Fyodor Dostoevsky, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, William Saroyan, as well as the usual western guys like Zane Grey, Owen Wister and Louis L’Amour. As far as devotional reading, I’ve got J. I. Packer, John Stott, and Max Lucado on my recent stack.
One of my favorite western authors is Elmer Kelton, who just recently died. I had the privilege of meeting him and listening to his talk, “Fiction Writers Are Liars & Thieves.” He stayed with the code for classic westerns. Another is Luke Short. Library Journal and others have compared my writings to theirs.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
The narrator in the now available Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon. . .because he’s a 10-year-old boy in 1954. He could have been me. Much of his telling of the story brings back memories of my times with my Grandpa Wilson. . .playing Cribbage, hearing his windy stories, hanging out with him.
But then there’s the soon to be released Throw The Devil Off The Train. It was great fun to bring back a couple of characters as walk-ons and cameos from previous stories, such as Angelita, the young gal who tries to sell heroine Catherine Goodwin a gun once owned, she claims, by gunfighter, Stuart Brannon.
Speaking of Stuart Brannon. . .I’ll be starting any day now a final sequel of the Stuart Brannon Series, one of my earliest and most enduring protagonists. Stuart as an older man in 1905 is invited to be guest celebrity at a golf tournament on the Oregon coast. It’s a western too, but Stuart’s got more than one way to shoot. Really looking forward to this one. That’s when art imitates real life. I love playing golf!

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Okay, you’re expecting me to say Country Western music, right? Actually, I’m more like rap music. . .lots to say and not much time to cram it all in.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
You mean, quirkier than shooting golf balls off the top of cliffs and into waterfalls and sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon where there are no guardrails? And quirkier than dressing up as pirate Captain Zack Narrow at last summer’s VBS at our church? Or quirkier than driving 50 miles down a road that had a sign that said, “Do not enter if you’re alone” because I was doing research for the Austin-Stoner Files?

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Nope, can’t say that I have. I’ve got a sign in my office that says, “I must do those things in life I would regret not doing.” I’ve tried to hold to that.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Everybody loves my Spicy Elk Chili. . .well, a few hardy folks do! At every church potluck, especially our annual Wild Game Feed, I’m expected to bring my spiciest chili, with or without the elk. Here it is, if you’re hankering to fix it yourself.

Spicy Elk Chili

2 – 4 pounds of elk meat (for my pals in Quebec, that’s Wapiti meat).
1 16 ounce jar of Pace salsa (medium for most gringos, although I like hot)
2 cans of Hormel chili with beans (life is too short to wait for beans to soak)
1 bell pepper (make sure it’s crisp…. the red or yellow bells will work good too.)
several fresh jalapeno peppers (don’t wimp out, leave the seeds)
an unending supply of Montreal Steak Seasoning
ever present red Tabasco sauce

Apply for an out-of-state elk tag from the Idaho Fish & Game Department.
Clean your Winchester 1895, 405 caliber rifle.
Fly to Idaho and camp deep in the forest along the upper stretches of the north fork of the Clearwater River
Shoot your elk (whether you taxidermy the head or not is your decision.)
Pack meat in dry-ice and take it home with you on the plane
OR accept that package of wild game meat your brother-in-law keeps trying
to give you every Christmas.
Put one cup of water, 2 – 4 pounds of elk (steak or roast) in the crock pot.
Season with Montreal Steak Seasoning (one can never over-season anything).
Turn that sucker on low . . . then go to bed (it’s cold, it’s winter and it’s dark . . you need the rest.)

*** Sometime the next day ***

Drain most of the juices off the meat (yes, you CAN make elk gravy for breakfast the following morning, provided you don’t put it on biscuits that come out of a tube.)

Place in very large pan (you know the one on the bottom shelf at the back that takes forever to yank out of there.)

Dump in your two cans of Hormel chili beans, (or more if you are feeding the starting offensive line of the Green Bay Packers). Never use cheap canned beans, they taste like they were soaked in fast food restaurant’s catsup.

Gut out your bell pepper and carve it into ½ inch squares (approximately), then sauté them in the frying. (For those who are cuisine impaired, sauté means fry ‘em in a skillet, but don’t burn ‘em black or let ‘em get mushy). Then toss them in the big pan.

Cut the stems off the jalapenos, quarter them and toss them in. If your fingers blister while cutting the peppers, you have to promise to invite me over for supper.

Add a bunch more Montreal Steak Seasoning (bunch = 6 tads) and red Tabasco.

Stir them up together and let the entire delightful chili simmer for an hour or so. (Simmer is what happens when you ought to throw another log in the stove but you want to wait until half-time of the football game and fire almost goes out.)

At this point, it is time for the taste test . . . after stirring the chili (wooden spoons seem to be less susceptible to corrosion), take a small taste. You will probably want to add more Tabasco. (Note: if you have an obnoxious nephew among the guests, let him test taste the chili. Chances are he will spend the rest of Thanksgiving out in the front yard with his head buried in the snow.)

Serving size: now this varies. Most times, the bowl is scraped clean with only 10 to 12 people. But, with luck, there will be some left over and you’ll have it for breakfast for several days to follow.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
The themes of most every one of my novels involve forgiveness, redemption, and taking a stand against evil. No matter what the trials and troubles of life, faith in Christ gets you through to the other side. I receive letters from many in prisons who tell me they relate to the stories and the action of some character causes them to want to make something different of their lives. Many other fans love to give my books as gifts to relatives or friends who enjoy westerns (authors such as Louis L’Amour, Larry McMurtry or Zane Grey), but have no spiritual commitment. They pray that the books may prepare their hearts to receive God’s truth.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
As a new Christian in my early twenties, I became enamored with this verse and it has become my life verse: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). I once wrote it out on a poster and taped it to the ceiling over my bed, so it was the first thing I saw when I awoke.

Applied to writing. . .Writing, no matter how enticing or successful, is merely an “added thing.” In itself, it will never satisfy or complete the missing parts of the soul. The challenge will always be to seek God first in everything. I’ve learned not to consternate or obsess with chasing added things.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Throw The Devil Off The Train releases May 1st, 2011. It’s a historical western romance set in the 1880s. Catherine Goodwin heads west to a fiancé she hasn’t seen in 17 years. She’s desperate for a change. Race Hillyard heads west with a heart of vengeful justice and a body aching for sleep. The only thing these two agree upon: they hate each other. Holdups, hijacks, kidnappings and gold mine swindles bring them close, then push them apart. Fiery, opinionated and quick to react. . .can the Lord bring them together long enough to throw the devil off the train?

You can purchase Throw the Devil Off the Train from Amazon.

Stephen is giving away a copy of Throw the Devil Off the Train. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! I'd like to win
this book!

Mary / Touch of Heaven said...

I recieved an autographed copy of one of Mr. Bly's books for my Dad who is bedridden and he loved it. Would love to win another of his books for Dad.
atouchofheaven2010 at gmail dot com
Mary B.

lgm52 said...

Have not read this author, but this book sounds like a good one to start with!

Marianne said...

i met Stephen Bly at Living Books Inc.'s (Borden, Sask. Canada) Annual BBQ one year. He's a great speaker, as well as writer. i would love to win his latest book. Thankyou for the chance. mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com

Trinity Rose said...

I really love Steve's books. Have been a fan/friend for years. Joined his and Janet's yahoo group years ago.
Thanks for the interview and giveaway.
Many blessings
wandaelaine at gmail dot com

Julie Arduini said...

Stephen and Janet were my mentors through the Christian Writers Guild. They give great wisdom and support to writers. I encourage anyone not familiar with their books to check them out.

apple blossom said...

nice interview please enter me

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Sylvia said...

I've read one series by Stephen Bly and enjoyed it so I think I'll try this book too!


misskallie2000 said...

Thanks for the great interview. I really enjoyed reading it and just know I will enjoy reading Throw The Devil Off the Train.
Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Stephen Bly said...

Patty: Thanks so much for featuring my new book & interview on your blog. Greatly appreciated! Enjoyed reading all the comments too!

Pam K. said...

I loved reading the Elk Chili recipe; not sure I'm hardy enough to eat it though.
I've read 3 of Stephen Bly's books and really enjoyed them. I'd like to win "Throw the Devil off the Train."
Thanks for the interview and book give away.


lori shultz said...

I really like Stephen Bly's books. I have recommended him to others and this new one sounds great. His sense of humor and attention to details is wonderful.

Courtney said...

Sounds like a very interesting story, thank you for the chance to win it!


Charlotte Kay said...

I loved the interview!
The recipe sounds great!
Thanks for the chance to win!
Many Blessings and Smiles:)
Charlotte Kay
charlovesmark at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

Great interview! My hubby would love this book!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

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