Stephen McClellan is a published author. He has released one book by the name To dance and the second book, Between fire and ashes, would be released on the fifteenth of October and we are all dying to read it.
We called on this amazing writer and requested an interview which he gladly agreed to. In this interview he encourages us with his journey and as writers, we can all learn from him.
QUESTION #1: When and how do you start your day? What do you do to prepare yourself for a day of work and your morning routine?
A: I am the most productive in the mornings, so I like to get up early, have some prayer and reflective time, and exercise to start off each day.
QUESTION #2: What do the day-to-day responsibilities look like to you, would you consider yourself strict or disciplined when it comes to do your duties?
A: I am a teacher, so during the school year, my responsibilities look a lot different compared to the holidays and summer break. When I am not in school, I love to read, write, travel with my wife, and spend time with family and friends.
QUESTION #3: How often or how long do you write a day and how does it fit into your schedule?
A: I can write at any time during the day, although my favorite times to write are in the mornings and in the early evenings. I try to write between two and three hours a day if my schedule allows.
QUESTION #4: What is your favorite part about being a writer? Are you planning on making it your full time responsibility or a side job?
A: I absolutely love envisioning new realities and bringing them to life on paper. Character and plot development are by far my favorite parts of the writing process. It is definitely my goal to land an agent and to write full-time.
QUESTION #5: How did you discover and harness your writing skill and develop your own style of writing? How did the whole journey begin?
A: I began writing children’s picture books in 2013 and full-length novels in 2015. My novels are heavily based off of life experience, so I simply used the places, people, and experiences in my life to help inspire me to begin writing. I also believe writing is a calling, one of my purposes that I am meant to fulfill in life. So writing is not only something I love to do but something I believe I am meant to do.
QUESTION #6: Who is your favorite author and what have you learned from him or her.
A: My favorite author is Stephen King, and it was his books the birthed in me a love for reading.
QUESTION #7: What book of yours would you recommend to a person who hasn’t read your stories before?
A: If you enjoyed the book Wonder or The Shack, then you will most likely be interested in my debut novel, To Dance.
QUESTION #8: If you were to write a song or poem about yourself, how would you begin it?
A: “It’s all about time . . . ”
QUESTION #9: What does your writing process look like and what goes into your physical and mental preparations. How do you tune yourself into the writing mode during a writer’s block?
A: After I formulate an idea, I develop the characters and plot out the entire novel chapter by chapter. Then I write the first draft and send it to beta readers to review. After that, I begin the editing phase. If I ever feel stuck, then I set my project aside and pursue other interests until I feel mentally healthy or my creativity is rejuvenated.
QUESTION #10: What was the worst mistake you made in your writing journey and how will aspiring authors prevent the same from happening to them?
A: I would encourage aspiring authors to heavily research different methods of marketing so that they put themselves in the best possible position for exposure.
QUESTION #11: What do you look for most in your writing and how do you achieve the results you want? What do you consider the most important in a story?
A: I want to connect with people. I think all great writing should somehow instill value into people, the themes resonating with their souls in some capacity.
QUESTION #12: Rank all your books:
i.Your favorite, the one you enjoyed writing.
ii. Most engaging and helpful or likely to win an award.
iii. The bestselling or most read.
A: I have only written one book to date, and that is a Christian Fiction novel titled, To Dance.
QUESTION #13: Rank all your characters:
i. Your favorite or they one you could possibly have a romantic relationship with?
ii. Most irritating and most likely to get killed by you.
iii. The most badass or adventurous.
A: The characters of To Dance cannot necessarily be placed into these categories as the nature of the book is about how to cope with pain, how to make sense of tragedy, and how to find significance in suffering.
QUESTION #14: What was the most exciting moment for you in your journey and how have you coped with disappointment?
A: The most rewarding moments so far have been people share about how their lives have been impacted through my novel. These testimonies, along with the firm belief that I am fulfilling my calling, have helped me endure through the disappointments.
QUESTION #15: What does success look like to you in look like to you in this position? What new projects are you working on and when should we be expecting them?
A: I value significance over success, meaning who have I am impacted through my writing. Currently, my debut children’s picture book, The Bat and the Mule, is set to release some time this year, and my second novel, Between Fire and Ashes, will be released October 15th of this year.
QUESTION #16: Do you think you have developed professionally and personally through your journey? What can you tell us about it?
A: I have most certainly grown throughout my writing career so far. More so than personally, I would say I have grown in my knowledge and awareness the publishing market and the art of writing itself.
QUESTION #17: What do you see as the most challenging aspect of this job and how do you overcome them?
A: I believe the most challenging aspect of the job is to market your book successfully and gain notoriety in your platform. I think you have to have a unique message that connects to people and inspires them to want to follow what you stand for.
QUESTION #18: How did you master the courage to share your work with the rest of the world and what were the first reactions you received? How do you face the negativity and hate?
A: I got to the place where I couldn’t NOT write. I felt compelled, a force driving me that wouldn’t allow my spirit to settle until I had fulfilled that longing. I believe that if you have developed a conviction for why you want to write, then that conviction will help you endure through trials and setbacks.
QUESTION #19: Do you write with songs or you prefer dead silence? If yes, what are your go to writing songs?
A: If I do write with music, then it is instrumental soundtracks. Typically, however, I write in silence unless I am traveling. In that case, I really enjoy writing in cafes or other spots with a beautiful view (oceans, lakes, mountains, etc).
QUESTION #20: Have you had any issues with people stealing and distributing your work and how did you deal with it?
A: I have only had one issue with people stealing my work, and that was a website that delivered viruses. The website was banned shortly after.
QUESTION #21: What promotional method or practices did you use to promote your book? Which ones did you find the most useful? How did you get so many people interested in your work?
A: I first utilized every resource available to me, from my place of employment to my family to my friends to my church. Then, I promoted on social media, contacted the local newspapers to write articles, and planned book signings. The most effective I have found as been purchasing personal copies to sign for people. People love a personal note from an author.
QUESTION #22: What was the most exasperating experience you have had in your journey?
A: The most draining aspect mentally and emotionally of my writing experience has been when I put in hard work to create a post on social media or host an event, and few people respond to it or participate in it.
QUESTION #23: Is there a timetable for when you write and what you write? If yes, share some tips on how to make one.
A: Timetables are individual to the project itself. Normally, I will set a goal considering the time of year and what other responsibilities I have with my job. If you are able to write at any time of the day, however, you will be able to adapt to any changes in your schedule. This is helpful if you cannot set a specific time to write every day.
QUESTION #24: Where do you see yourself and your work in ten years from now?
A: I see myself doing what I am doing write now but on a global scale.
QUESTION #25: What is the mystery and reason behind your pen name?
A: I do not have a pen name.
QUESTION #26: What sparked the plot of the first book you released and what writing tips can you offer to upcoming authors?
A: To Dance was sparked by the idea of what the world would look like if seen through the eyes of a child. It focuses on themes of pain, racial injustice, love, healing, and hope. My advice to aspiring authors would be to first determine your conviction of why you believe you want to or should be writing. Then, I think it’s crucial to actually experience life in different capacities. It’s often difficult to get into the mind of a character if you have never experienced any of those encounters or emotions yourself. Pursue life, create memories, and then share those experiences in ways that your audience will resonate with.
QUESTION #27: What was your family’s reaction to your writing success?
A: My family has been extremely supportive throughout this process.
QUESTION #28: Do you ever consider luck, your gender, ethnicity or race as a helping factor in your success?
A: No, I have not considered those things. I place my faith in Jesus Christ and pursue the calling I believe He has placed on my life. That is where I draw my inspiration from.
QUESTION #29: How do you feel about all the success you have garnered as a writer, Are there any specific people who helped you out and encouraged you on this journey?
A: Once again, I pursue significance over success. While I am grateful for how far I have come, I am hopeful in how far I can go. In that sense, there is still so much more to accomplish, so I don’t stay focused too long on what I have already achieved.
QUESTION #30: Any advice for the young, doubting or upcoming writer who feels like giving up?
A: The world needs you to be who you were created to be. So in that sense, there are future generations, some who haven’t even been born yet, that you will be impacting. If you are tempted to give up, you must consider the lives that will not be impacted by your work. For the sake of humanity, you must endure.
Thank you Stephen McClellan for this inspiring interview. We are really honoured.
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I am a fifteen year old book addict and writing enthusiast from Ghana in West Africa. I love potato chips and jelly, pizza too but not so much. If you want to know more about me, you can follow me on other social media platforms. Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter!!!!