Exclusive Interview with
Stephen E. J. Tomporowski
Let’s start with your Career as a writer!
When did you start writing?
The first time I remember writing is in High School. I was doing the assignments but not to spec. I was always doing something different than what they asked for. I half-heartedly wrote for a long time before actually sitting down to write in 2017, which resulted in my first book.
What makes writing your passion?
I'm an engineer, so 'passion' doesn't really enter into it. It's more entertainment and the feeling of crafting something to give the reader exactly what you envision. It's design engineering in words.
How long have you been writing?
In my 20's I began writing and thought that was good and now cringe when I read it. I dabbled in writing for many years--although I did have several technical articles published. Finally I met another writer online who encouraged me. That was back in 2017.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Relief and a bit of confusion! I was totally unsure of what I was doing and how well I was doing. With that first book I had committed to doing a series and now it's entertaining to see what my characters are up to.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Most of my characters are based on models in a 3d video game. These models actually made up 'my' team in that game and when I write about matches they played in, it's mostly what exactly happened in the video game. While the character Grabby is mostly me, there are parts of me in Raven and Chaoschick. The rest of it is just from my observations of people when dealing with them in engineering projects. Francona is specifically the perfect manager because he knows when to shut up.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Marketing and all the so-called 'successful' writers who sell you what they did. If I hear one more time the screaming that 'You have to have a book launch party!' I think I'd throw-up.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Don't know if I ever had writer's block as defined. What stops me is pretty much a type of perfectionism when I feel reluctant to write because I'm not sure I'd get it right. Of course the point there is to write anyways because it can be fixed up later.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I keep going because I've made a commitment and I'd really like to see how the story developed. It's already twisted away from what I've had in mind! As for new authors, keep writing, keep revising. keep reading. Don't be afraid to copy a favorite author's style and above all, don't be afraid to rewrite. Once you have read enough, you are ready to start writing.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Stay away from the red-headed girl, she's not worth it. Oh, did you mean with respect to writing? In that case: Your writing sucks. Thirty years from now you'll be embarrassed by what you've just written. However, keep writiing and keep reading and you'll get there.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
You should always read your book reveiws, however, never take them at face value. You look at the praise and look at the criticisms and decide if either applies. If it does, then continue to do the good and decide what changes to make for a valid criticism. If you encounter a criticism that states exactly what you meant to do, for example if you are criticized for writing a 'popular' novel, then laugh and move on.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
A good reveiw? It's about freaking time! It's amazing how many people will read your books and either not leave a review or say something like: I liked this. A good review has to have some 'meat' to it.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I do that all the time except that you wouldn't really notice it. You morph the situation to fit the story and suddenly it is really something new. As an engineer you get 'thrown into the deep end' quite a lot. That's why Raven ends up being thrust into the 'fire' twice in succession.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I've already mentioned that Grabby is very similar to me. Chaoschick is the part of me that will shoot out a one-liner at the most delicate moment and Raven's ability to channel anger into accomplishment is something that I really hope I do!
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
I'm not so sure when it comes to eBooks, as you either see it for a few seconds or it a much reduced icon. When I buy a book at a bookstore, the cover will attract me to read the cover blurb, although we've been lied to by covers and their blurbs so often. For myself, the cover is not really something to show you the story, but rather a piece of art related to the story that shows how much effort you've put into the book itself. If all you see on the cover is words on a solid background, that takes no effort. I'm not an artist, so I have to rely on what is free on the web, which is a lot and add a little training on a photo manipulation program and you'll have a pretty good cover.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
Probably both. I don't mind interacting with fans but I don't specifically seek it. I will correspond with fans but there are so many people out there that seem to only want to waste your time.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
It feels good to have your efforts recognized. Unfortunately , at work, the recognition results in more work! I haven't been recognized in public yet, as a writer, but once for another endeavor and found myself annoyed. However, I did give the person a few minutes of my time. It's always good to be polite.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Gene Wolfe. I like his imagination and just the density of his images. I could also say Jack Vance because of his imagination. Jack puts ordinary people into fantasy-like situations. Both are good writers to emulate.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
The 'writing dream' that I have is for a movie to be made out of my books. The does feel like a double-edged situation as so many bad movies have been made out of good books. As for bigness, I'm not sure. I would like enough success to be able to retire and write full-time. And, no, I would not turn down an invite to the Tonight Show!
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
Funny you should mention that because I am in the process of 'updating' my first book, Raven: The Call from Central. There are minor details to be reconciled with the subsequent books and the first book is pretty bare in description at many points. Besides, don't we all learn something new every time we write?
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
George R. R. Martin....and I'd finish the damn story. Period.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
They are just trying to get your attention, or their lives are so pathetic, they have to find some way to feel in control. So? You just ignore them. Trolls these days will completely ignore whatever you say and scream louder, so it's a better idea, no matter how angry they make you, to just ignore them.
What would you say to your readers?
I'm not trying to write the next great novel, nor am I pushing any kind of philosophy, of life or of politics. All I'm trying to do is write an enjoyable story that will make you laugh at times. Give my books a try!
Thank you for sharing! Let’s talk about your Personal Life!
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I've been married over 30 years, five kids, all but one out of the house. I've lived in Connecticut (USA) all my life except for a five year period during college where I lived in Boston.
What is your day job if you have one?
I'm an Electrical Engineer, still working, with a Master's degree. I spent 27 years designing medical equipment and in a bit of irony, have spent the last 10 years designing bomb fuzes. Previous jobs have sent me all over the country and even to the Netherlands. Well, by accident into Germany, but that's another story.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Other than writing, there's reading, music composition (as Syemak), computer games and my eBay store. Yes, I'm usually busy.
Did you have a happy childhood?
I would say it was happy. Not a perfect family and except for the bullies I encountered, mostly happy.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
No, no particular experience that caused me to write and the urge to write was discovered so far in the past that I've forgotten when I first realized I wanted to write. Rather ironically, it was writing test procedures and specifications that helped me improve my writing.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I have a series of blogs about management that I would like to collect and add more too. Then I have a medieval swords & sorcery story that I want to expand. I did publish the initial chapters as a short story. Then there is the post-apocalyptic story that I wrote in my 20's which has to be almost totally re-written. The idea is good, the execution embarrassing.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
First, all politics should be wiped out of schools. Our children are there to learn how to think, not be indoctrinated. Second, kids who don't learn should be 'left behind'. Just look at the recent riots to see how stupid kids are coming out of our schools.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
First I would wish that everybody would listen. These days all they do it yell louder. Second, I'd wish that everybody realized that they could be wrong in their beliefs and make efforts to improve them. Third I'd wish that everyone be imbued with a full measure of honor. Once people express honor, so many scams and so much cheating and lying would disappear.
What is your favorite music?
I've very eclectic with my musical taste. I enjoy classical, especially Renaissance/Medieval/Baroque, Industrial/ambient/Steampunk modern music. Even popular and 40's/50's music.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I secretly like the Muppet Show.