Blog Tour: The Man on the Roof by Michael Stephenson
Today I am joining the blog tour for The Man on the Roof by Michael Stephenson, who has generously agreed to answer a few questions for us. Hope you enjoy!
How would you describe The Man on the Roof in three words?
Crazy. Timely. Twisted!
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
That is a tough and expansive question. Um... I would say it’s always different in each work. I would have to start with how I write something. Sometimes I’ll write something solely as a form of entertainment and other times I’ll try to construct a work of art with deeper meaning. I think for the entertainment pieces there rarely is anything to take from it other than a few hours of distraction. For more “artistic” works a recurring theme is that there is a truth about you as the individual when it comes to society, there is a truth about you when it comes to you and then there is the actual truth. That probably doesn’t make sense right now, but I think that if someone read a few of my meatier books, they’d understand.
Why did you choose to write in this genre?
I love this question because this is only the second mystery novel I’ve written, the first being The Knowledge of Fear. I think that while every story has a small level of mystery and suspense, trying to craft a story solely around those ideas can be very fun and freeing. As the writer, I get to play both detective and villain, digging into the minds of these characters as they traverse a twisted world subtly known to me. I think we all have this desire to think that nothing interesting is happening in our own life, so why not peek into the lives of others. We do it through social media or just eavesdropping a conversation on public transportation. Unfortunately, we usually only get a peek into someone else’s life, leaving all our questions unanswered. But writing or reading a mystery lets us get a full story, and get most of the questions answered. Writing in this genre is catharsis for all the disappointment received from having so many unfinished mysteries in life.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Crafting a story that could be engrossing, make them think, make them laugh, make them learn, make them see something differently or all of the above. With so much destruction in this world already (including in many of my stories, I confess), it feels like something of an otherworldly experience to create something without having to destroy something else. Writing is, from what I can surmise, the purest form of creation available to humans.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
The technical. I’ve never quite understood people who want to become writers because they’re in love with words or grammar. Yet, I’ve run into so many writers who say that very thing. Then they’ll next say characters and crafting fantastic settings, but the story often comes last. I remember during NaNoWriMo a few years back, I engaged in a conversation with a woman trying to complete the challenge but said that she always failed to meet her daily writing goal because she would look up the perfect word for each passage. I’m not saying that’s the wrong thing to do because each writer has their own process, but I feel like ideas, especially good ones, are so fleeting that it’s best to tell the tale first, then worry about the nuts and bolts later. But with that said, the nuts and bolts are what keep the story-reading experience steady. And in this day and age, I’ve seen more books live or die solely off the technical aspects of the book. Something old, tried and maybe even lacking in creativity can flourish because people love the sentence structure and it’s an easy read. So for me, story elements, character development, all the pieces of actual narrative creation are pure, but I’m always stuck on the question of, “Does that read well?”
How did you go about publishing your book?
I took the self-pub route. Interestingly enough, I wrote this back in 2015, intent on releasing it in 2016. But I had such a busy year with other projects that I never got around to editing it. And I also knew that I wanted it to be only my second mystery novel, so I had to edit the other book as well. I even showed a rough draft to a few people who thought I should pitch it to agents or big-house publishers. Instead, I chose to pitch the other mystery novel I wrote and got no traction.
At the end of 2016, I finally decide that I’m going to get The Man On The Roof together and hopefully publish in 2017. For the most part, I had only wanted to self-publish it. But I did send out a few queries and two came back and said that it sounded similar to this other book that was coming out with a big name already behind it in Paula Hawkins. Basically, I was scared off publishing it that year because of Hawkins’ Into The Water. When I finally read that book, I saw maybe one or two elements that were similar and said, “Darn it! I’m publishing it in 2018, regardless of what may come.” And here we are.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
I like all genres but I enjoy dark stories usually verging on thrillers, mysteries, action or sci-fi. Give me something that I haven’t seen before, something inventive and not a re-tread of the same exact story from yesteryear, and I am good. And definitely give me at least one person of color who actually has a complex character and isn’t just a token.
How do you like to spend time when not writing?
I walk a lot to clear my mind. I find that walking is the easiest and best way to generate new ideas or clear the clutter in my head. Other exercise makes you focus too much on performing that exercise correctly. I also love gardening. I’ve had an organic veggie garden for the last eight years and grow everything from Molokai purple sweet potatoes to kale to black beans to salad greens. But most of my time goes to gorging on other forms of story in film and TV. I try to review most new TV shows and like to get out to the movies every few weeks in the summer. Bravo’s The Real Housewives franchises are my guiltiest of pleasures, along with ABC’s The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise. I’m one of the fanboys who recently blushed and was happy all day after seeing Ashley I and Jared finally fall in love with each other (it’s a Bachelor Nation thing). Having my own unrequited love, I was pleased that Jared finally came around.
What is your next project?
My next mystery/psychological-thriller project is entitled The Ones That Stare, and I’m hoping to have it out this December. It’s still in the editing process and the name of the main character might change (I’m thinking about changing the gender of the main character to a woman) but there is a preview of it at the back of The Man On The Roof (the market copy). The line is, “Darien’s wife is Gone. Now, he must work to figure out who knows the truth.” Trust me, it will be a crazy read.
As far as what my next overall project is, that would be season two of my episodic serial Extraordinary. A few years ago, I undertook these serial projects that try to elevate the reading experience to something new and unique. Just like with The Man On The Roof, I don’t just want people to read, I want them to experience the read. Extraordinary is a weekly 10-episode sci-fi fantasy in which the world learns of alien life that is planning to invade the earth soon. To prepare, the government and a private company take dangerous steps to safeguard humanity, but in the process may very well have destroyed it. It’s a character-driven drama with a writing style that is supposed to mimic the weekly style of TV shows. If you are a TV fan, think ABC’s LOST but with less philosophy and unanswered questions and a lot more comic-y goodness. There will be an episode coming out every Friday starting, I believe in late July/early August, only on Amazon Kindle.
Thank you, and best of luck!
Thanks, Malia. I loved chatting with you.
Someone has been creeping in the dark while the others sleep, and they've done terrible, terrible things. “There was a man on your roof,” claims curmudgeonly lane-hermit Herbert McKinney. Then, he initiates an unprovoked fight with a local punk. Drama escalates when that punk's dead body is found hanging at mid-street one August morning—a boastful killer messaging their next prey. All fingers point to Herbert as the culprit. Soon, the five couples he calls neighbors come under suspicion, too. When detectives divine blackmail as the motive, eyes cross to find who hides the most shameful secret. Husband versus wife, friend versus friend, the shiny suburban veneer of innocence has been forever tarnished. As hidden deviousness boils from their pores, there lurks a thief, a pill addict and a sadist—secrets worth killing for. Now, as the man on the roof helps guide justice and watches devious neighbors slip in and out of sleepy houses, confusion and questions persist. Who dies next? What have they learned? Who is becoming a monster? Who already is one? And just how many secrets can a small group of multi-ethnic Ohioans have? Only one cemented truth exists: the killer will kill again. A taut domestic mystery-suspense thriller, The Man On The Roof propels the reader through a tangled, volatile and suspenseful thicket of deception, murder and friends, inviting the reader to discover the murderer and who hides which lie. First there was Gone Girl. Then there was The Girl on the Train. Now, there's The Man On The Roof.
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About Michael Stephenson:
Michael Stephenson has been writing for over a decade. A lover of horror, his fiction stretches over a plethora of genres including: romance, erotica, thrillers, action/adventure, horror, urban, legal, and political. Sticking mainly to fiction, he does enjoy reading a great amount of non-fiction as well. An avid lover of films, he also is a screenwriter. He believes that a good story engulfs the reader (or viewer) in the world of the characters. A well told story can be powerful in effecting a person's mood or life. For this reason, he seeks to tell a myriad of captivating stories about the things that interest him.
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