Interview with Michael Stewart
What a fantastic coming of age story. I laughed, I shed a tear or two, I highlighted quotes I loved… this story will warm your heart and make you think about your own life, your relationships, and even come away with inspirational quotes. Author Stewart tells his story so well that you’ll think you’re there, in the midst of the RV park sitting next to Ray as he plays video games, or as he’s flippin’ hamburgers, or breaking up the big ‘ol huge ‘iceberg’ in the pool so the little girl can go swimming. You’ll get to know his dysfunctional family and will cheer him on as he searches for the meaning of life. What a delightful story.
Hi Michael! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. I absolutely loved Ray vs the Meaning of Life. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
First of all, it’s my pleasure. I’m so pleased to be part of your inaugural edition. May you have hundreds! I’m also really glad you enjoyed Ray Vs the Meaning of Life!
So ideas . . . Most of my projects germinate from a number of different ideas coming together. Here were a few of them for this one.
- I read an article about Robin Sharma who self–published a book called the ‘Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ and learned that he was Canadian—the success of his book really showed me the power of entwining self–help with fiction.
- My twins (12 at the time) were given The Alchemist to read by their favorite teacher. This book is also self–help packaged as fiction. Both of the twins were thinking a lot about who they were, who they wanted to be, and having some early teen challenges too.
- So I started to think of the book as young adult.
- Which brings me to the final thing that happened. I get these Facebook memes. You know the ones, pictures of kittens hanging from couch arms by claws and the caption: Hang in there! 😉 Most of them I blaze past, but I started to look at them a little harder and realized that many held decent wisdom, if only I chose to look closer. And so I did.
I decided to write a YA book in the vein of Sharma’s and Coelho’s books, but with a greater emphasis on the story than the message, which I felt to be a failing of theirs despite the huge successes. In fact, I first set out to write a bit of a parody and, in the process, came to terms with my own prejudice about self-titled gurus. I’ve read a lot of guru books and listened to their lectures and well … if I look past some of their schtick, they have a lot to say even if much of it has been said before. There’s value in the retelling.
Your Amazon profile is so impressive! It sounds like you’ve been writing for a while now. In part, it reads: “He’s written adult horror, sci-fi, urban fantasy, and adventure. He’s even written books you’ll never find.” Do you have a favorite genre that you love to write in, or are they all equally fabulous?
They are most certainly NOT equally fabulous! Lol. I probably should have used a penname for earlier books. 😊 I think I started to hit my stride with the Assured Destruction Series, some 7-8 years after I started writing seriously. The premise of the book usually determines the genre. I do love horror and fantasy (my first love), but I really love inspiring books too. At the end of the day, I think the world has enough darkness though, and I’ve been focusing on books that deal with tough issues in fun ways and have a positive story arc, the kind that might make you laugh-cry. That’s my favorite genre, I guess, the laugh-cry.
I see that a number of your books have won awards. That’s super! How did you begin writing? Was it a gradual thing that happened or is it just part of who you are?
I spent my childhood buried in books. I’ve always loved reading and always wanted to write. How I eventually got there is a long story, but I needed to quit my day job before I really committed.
Do you have a favorite place where you write?
I do! Here’s a picture. Thank you for forcing me to clean up!
I read that you have four daughters. What an incredible story you could probably tell just by living in a household full of females, lol. What are a few of your survival tips?
Always have tampons handy? Be quiet in the car and you’ll learn more from your daughters’ friends than through direct conversation. In child development, I believe nature is a bigger factor than nurture, so don’t beat yourself up too much, nor can you take too much credit. Be very careful of social media—it’s totally crack for kids. How’s that?
What’s in the future for Michael F. Stewart? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
I do. I’m involved in a secret project. Shhh . . . I also have been working on a couple of television shows that are in the early stages of development with producers (which is short hand for they’ve a long way to go, but it’s a fun process and I LOVE the collaborative approach to TV). My next book is a contemporary YA about a teen who tries to put his dead, twin sister back together again—in spirit—by creating a virtual reality movie of all the people who received her organs. <<<see—happy-cry-book.
Last one. Info readers are dying to know:
Chocolate or caramel? Caramel! (or even better, maple butter)
Dine in or Takeout? Dine in (I love to cook.)
Beach or Mountains? Beach but preferably kayaking beside one.
Bloody Mary or Shirley Temple? Given the option, Shirley Temple with Vodka
Sleep in or Stay up Late? Get up early.
Hammock or Recliner? Hammock
Thank you again, Michael. We wish you all the best in your writing future.
Thank you for all the wonderful questions! Good luck with the magazine and happy reading!