Good day, friends and followers. I promised a very special Saturday Spotlight, so here it is. I thought Steven Mix had quite a story to tell when I got my first email from him! So here’s Steven in his own words to start off:
My name is Steven Mix. I was a Sergeant with the 82nd airborne 1st of the 505th. I was airborne infantry (paratrooper) and on a machine gun. I saw combat, lost some friends and got injured. I had no less than 9 concussions in the army. Now I’m living with a traumatic brain injury (damaged frontal left lobe, damaged brain stem), messed up back, messed up neck, messed up knees and ankles. I have memory and cognitive skill issues.
But my intelligence is intact. So writing everything down, really helps circumvent my issues. I had wanted to be an author when I was younger so becoming a writer seems like the most logical I could have done.
When I was deployed to Iraq we lost my Sgt Major on November 21st and then my good friend Cpl Chris Mason on November 28th.
November is a terrible month for me. I tend to get really depressed near the anniversary of my friend’s deaths. Two years ago I decided to try and change November by doing something I had always wanted to do, so I signed up for Nanowrimo and began working on my outline.
I met my wife shortly before Nano began. I obsessively wrote my story for the whole month of November… It didn’t take the depression completely away, but obsession certainly put it on the back burner at times. I even named one of my main characters after my friend Mason.
I then spent the next two years editing and re-editing my book. I had a giant snafu with a terrible copyeditor who strung me along for 6 months and then didn’t do the work he had agreed to do. I even found a publisher. My love life flourished too. I wound up marrying my wife in that time, and had a kid. His name? Mason.
I write zombie horror (I’m a little haunted… it makes sense) so the date isn’t a giant coincidence but two years later, almost to the day, this october 31st in fact, my first novel, Goodbye from the Edge of Never, is going on sale for preorder.
I’m now looking forward to this November. I never thought I would look forward to November again.
The level of enthusiasm the Nanowrimo community possesses is amazing. I might never have taken the leap and tried to capture an old dream and become an author if it wasn’t for Nanowrimo and the motivated members. Now I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that my wife healed me more than anything…. but Nano certainly helped share some of that load. It encouraged me to step outside of myself, to bring a friend back to life in literary form (at least in name) and then helped me find my soul to live again. It helped me slay figurative (or maybe literal) demons in my head. Best of all, I have something to show for it. I’m an author now. I have a novel to show for it. 🙂
My Nano profile is ghostzen . I have no idea where that name came from. I usually go by Zip for a nickname.
My blog (that my publisher wishes I’d update more often) and book info can be found here.
What are you writing about this year?
I haven’t decided what I’m writing about this year. I have two stories outlined and ready to be brought to life. One is book two of The Edge of Never series which is about the world, twenty years from now after a zombie apocalypse has overrun everything. The other story I have outlined is a cyberpunk murder mystery. I don’t know why I haven’t picked one yet but I’m really excited about both of them.
Who’s the best character in your Nano novel?
From the novel I wrote for Nano two years ago, my favorite character is Mason. He’s named after a buddy of mine who died in Iraq (Chris Mason). My son who was born during the books revision process also was named Mason. 🙂 It’s not just sentimental reasons that make him my favorite though. His character is an artist in a zombie apocalypse. He’s obsessed with art and art supplies. Given the chance, he would sprint across a battlefield for a paintbrush. When the world lays in ruins, it gives him a chance to make art from everything. He’s fun to write because he finds freedom on the edge of obliteration. I’m sure he’d agree that he could die at any moment but he’d probably tell you, “that’s why it’s so important to live now.” He wears an old fashioned hockey mask on his face which he will often use as a canvas, and paint various things onto it. He tends to keep his mask raised up to hide the image and show his face until something gets serious, when he’ll pull it down to hide behind and reveal the image on it. This allows me to use his mask to describe the general mood of his group of friends, or foreshadow a shit-storm.
What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
The advice I’d give fellow Wrimos is, if after the event is done you decide you want to keep going with your novel, or maybe even pursue publishing, don’t quit. I only made it through about 37,000 words when I wrote my first novel for Nano two years ago. The excitement I felt going into it kept pushing me to complete it. After all my editing (and copy editor nightmares), a huge formatting issue, and a gigantic waiting game, my novel is finally being published. It took me two years for my first novel to be released but, it’s actually happening! Just because you finish (or don’t finish) Nano, or run into snags along the way, doesn’t mean that you should give up on seeing your novel go the distance. Nanowrimo IS about a sudden jolt of creativity and a looming deadline but that doesn’t mean you should quit playing with that energy the second the event is over. It should affect you (or infect you) with imagination. All of your dreams should seem a little more attainable after and… if one of your dreams is to be a published author, you should chase that dream, screaming and laughing. The end of Nanowrimo shouldn’t mark your return to that same daily grind until next November.
Sneaky Ninja question! What social class, if any, are you a part of?
I don’t really know how to answer this question. The boring answer would be, “I’m middle class,” but part of me wishes I was part of a fiefdom. A knight, working my way up to Duke, Lord or King through a series of cut throat political moves. Ya…. Game of Thrones has clearly screwed me up a little.
If you’re interested in reading Mason’s adventure, my novel Goodbye from the Edge of Never will be available for preorder on October 31st of this year. That’s the (almost) two year anniversary from when I began writing it. It’s horror crossed with comedy, lots of action and just a dash of super powers. You can preorder a copy from this site: http://stevenmix.com/books/ and receive either a digital copy from Amazon or order a paperback copy. Presale announcement is here: http://falkorpublishing.com/goodbye-from-the-edge-of-never-presale/