Since graduating from Davidson College with the Patricia Cornwell Scholarship for creative writing, Steph Post has published a slew of short stories, earned a Pushcart Prize nomination, and penned a gritty thriller entitled A Tree Born Crooked. Steph will be joined by Charlotte writer and friend, Beth Gilstrap, who is the Pushcart nominated author of I Am Barbarella: Stories.
In January, Steph Post will release her second novel, entitled Lightwood, which promises to be just as riveting as her first. Returning to his rural Florida hometown after prison, Lightwood protagonist Judah Cannon tries to stay on the straight and narrow, but is bound by loyalty and blood to seek revenge after his little brother becomes a victim during a melee with meth-cooking bikers.
"Brilliant...Lightwood solidifies Steph Post as the official voice of working class literature in Florida."
- Brian Panowich, bestselling author of Bull Mountain
Steph Post Interview with Main Street Books
MAIN STREET BOOKS: Tell us about the fodder for Lightwood. Do you know any meth-cooking bikers? Pentecostal preachers? Vengeance-obsessed brothers? The characters, dialogue, and setting are so vivid in this book, and the plot so enviously unique, we'd love to know what inspired this tale.
STEPH POST: I think Lightwood is a result of a combination of different character types I've been interested in over the years. In fiction, I've always been drawn to the 'losers' - the lowlifes, those living on the fringe, and those who have fabulously interesting stories but are often only minor characters. I'm usually the one rooting for the almost-bad-guys, the anti-heroes, the Boyd Crowders, the complicated and messy characters who make bad decisions and then have to squirm and scrape their way out of them. They seem so much more true to life, and so, naturally, I gravitate towards writing these types of characters. I grew up with some larger-than-life family members, and, while I'll refrain from naming names, I can say that some of the characters and their stories in Lightwood didn't just spring up out of nowhere.
MAIN STREET BOOKS: What are the most significant ways this novel evolved, from its conception to its publication?
STEPH POST: Lightwood began as a way to explore more deeply character types and situations that I'd briefly touched on in my first novel, A Tree Born Crooked. There's no great secret to writing and publishing a book, though. It's simply a lot of hard work and a tough-as-nails drive to succeed. I write straight through, start to finish, and most of what's between the covers of Lightwood was present in some form in the first draft. My wonderful agent, Jeff Ourvan, helped to work out a few plot points, but otherwise the manuscript is almost exactly what I started with when I began the great agent search three years ago. Unfortunately, one of my favorite props, a stuffed squirrel with a pair of tiny revolvers named Wyatt Earp, didn't make the final cut...but what are you going to do?
MAIN STREET BOOKS: What is your favorite work of fiction?
STEPH POST: Oh, wow. If I had to pick one and only one favorite work, it would have to be Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, which has been my favorite novel since I was 15. Nothing has ever been able to eclipse it, though a few of Cormac McCarthy's books have come close.
MAIN STREET BOOKS: If you could do one part of your journey as a writer differently, what would it be?
STEPH POST: I probably would have become serious about being a novelist a little earlier than I did. I've always known that I wanted to be a writer, but I lived my life, from bar-tending to grad school and a lot in between, always thinking that publishing novels was something in the future, something that eventually would just happen to me. About five years ago, I had one of those breakthrough moments where I realized that if I really wanted to pursue writing as a career, I needed to suck it up, stop talking about writing, and get down to business. I haven't stopped writing since that day. Sometimes, I worry about starting a little later than I always intended to, but, let me tell you, listening to all those stories coming from across the bar has certainly helped me with some characters.
MAIN STREET BOOKS: Do you have an embarrassing nickname? (Past or present - we're not too picky.)
STEPH POST: I actually can't remember having an embarrassing nickname! I feel sort of left out, now that I think about it...
MAIN STREET BOOKS: Fast food or health food?
STEPH POST: I've never really considered myself a health nut, but as a gluten-free vegetarian, my options are kind of limited when it comes to fast food.
MAIN STREET BOOKS: A piece of advice for humankind? (I know it's a tall order...)
STEPH POST: Kindness is badass. More people should try it.