Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stephen Bly -- More Than a Minister

Today, I want to introduce you to Stephen Bly--an author, minister, cowboy. I haven't met Stephen yet, but I hope to. Through my association with Glass Roads PR firm, I have come to know a lot about him. I'm really looking forward to reading his new book Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago published by Broadman & Holman. I just started reading it today. In the meantime, let's get to know Stephen together.
Stephen, thank you for appearing on my blog. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I used to say only a few of the characters reflected my image. . .most of my close friends say my character, Stuart Brannon, is just like me. My wife pointed out, after the books were in print, that I even used my initials S.B. for his name (I was unaware of it at the time.) So for the next series I avoided that. I named the protagonist Brady Stoner instead! But, over the years I realize there is a little of me in every character. I’m able to live inside the mind of all the people (no matter how minor their role.) There is an attachment to each that goes beyond computer screen. They become family. . .even the rascals.

Interesting. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Absolutely nothing that a fiction writer does should be considered quirky. We are not a normal breed. So. . .it’s tough to tell what’s unusual. If my mind is starting to wander while writing a western, I’ve been known to sit in the saddle and type for a day. I’ve laid in the dirt on the prairie a couple hundred yards from a buffalo herd just to get the smell of the grass and the rumble of the earth. I’ve climbed up on White Rocks behind Deadwood before daylight just to watch the sunrise on the Dakota Plains. I’ve built a false front western town next to our house. I sat on a butte in the middle of Nevada for four hours and never saw a person, a car, a house, a fence or a cow. But, like I said. . .I’ve never done anything really quirky.

I love it. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In December of 1976 I went to the mailbox and found two envelopes from publishers with checks made out to me for articles to be published. I suppose that was the day I decided I could write. Another turning point was when editors called me and asked for book proposals. Then when my first western novel was read, chapter by chapter, on network radio. . .that helped confirm my writing. Other affirmations were when I got a positive review in Publisher’s Weekly . . . when I received a Christy Award. Maybe the best affirmation are the letters and emails from readers on how my books have impacted them. Nothing is more exciting than that.

The more I hear from you, the more anxious I am to meet you. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Most of my reading is non-fiction book. Books for my soul and spirit. . .and then a ton of books for research. When I get a change to read some fiction, I’ll go back to some old dead guys like Steinbeck, Saroyan, Hemmingway, and Russian novels. If I read modern westerns, I like Elmer Kelton.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?

With over a hundred books in print, there’s no place to start. Any that are interested can email me for a complete list. BUT if they are interested in writing, they need to read Paperback Writer. It will give the reader an inside look at the mind of a novelist.
Actually, we don't have your e-mail address in this interview. I hope you check it out online and leave a comment with that contact information.

Now for another question, how do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I run. Actually, I get up extremely early. . .and run a few miles to clear my head. But one of the fortunate things about being a fiction writer is that we are not required to keep our sanity. Besides being a full-writer. . .I pastor the only church in town on the weekends, and serve as mayor (Winchester, Idaho, pop. 308). Actually, the diversity of activities help keep me in touch with real people and real relationships. That helps the writing.

Readers are often interested in this. How do you choose your characters’ names?

After 100 books, I try to find a name I’ve never used before. I want a name that was common to the historical era in which it was set, so I study newspapers and journals. Also, I like some names to be unusual. . .so I invent names like Tap (Tapadera) Andrews. . .or No-Neck Mowrey, etc. I usually build the character before I name him/her. I want the name to be consistent with the personality. Sometimes it’s just chance. I had a protagonists name Elizabeth. . .and I decided to call her Liz. . .but every time I typed Liz, it came out Lix. . .I just couldn’t find the z. I decided not to fight it, and gave her the nickname of Lixie.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

On June 14th of 1963 (at age 18), I married Janet Rae Chester. She is still the absolute joy of my life, and that was, hands down, the greatest achievement of my life.

Words a romance writer likes to hear. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A porcupine. They are slow and ugly, but everyone and everything respects them.

I like that answer. What is your favorite food?

I only get one? What kind of deal is that?

Many of the authors have mentioned more than one. You could have, too. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

I’m guessing that the featured book is Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago—my latest in the Horse Dreams series. The struggle that Develyn Worrell goes through. . .with her grown daughter, with her regrets from the past, with her relationship with her mother, with her uncertainty about her future. . .are all real dilemmas that, in some way, all of us face.
There are not easy answers, but there are answers. Her change in environment for the summer doesn’t let her escape the struggles, but helps her tackle them with renewed strength. It’s a book that will make you laugh, make you cry. . .you’ll say. . ., “Yeah, I’ve been there, too,” and in the end, you’ll want to say, “Go, Girl!”
Once again, thank you, Stephen, for spending this time with us. Your answers are interesting and make me want to look up more of your books. So be sure to leave a comment with your e-mail address, so visitors to the site can contact you.
And remember, readers, to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago. I'll choose a winner on August 5.


Jennifer Y. said...

Great interview! I love his greatest accomplishment! I'd love to enter!

eileen said...

I had a chance to meet S and his wife. Super people! Enjoyed the interview!

Margo Carmichael said...

What an intriguing title from an intriguing author. I'd love to read it. Thanks for the chance to win. Hugs~

Stephen Bly said...

Hi, Lena . . . thanks for posting the interview. In case anyone is interested in taking a look at a few Stephen Bly books, they can check out our website at or email me at
God bless . . . and keep up the great site!
on the trail in northcentral Idaho . . .
Stephen Bly

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. I'm now about a third of the way through the book, and I can see why you've sold a hundred books. I'm really enjoying it.

Kristy Dykes said...

Great interview. Thanks, Lena, and Stephen.

Michelle said...

Another great interview and another great author. My TBR pile and my 'To Buy' list just keeps getting bigger and bigger!

Michelle's Writing Space

Cherie said...

Great interview! I enjoyed learning more about Mr. Bly. Thank you! i would love to be entered in the contest.

Cherie Japp

Anonymous said...

Wow I guess I missed the contest, but I love Stephen Bly in fact I have the last of his code of the west book beside me now. Just finished it, which is how I got here.