The Poison of a Smile
I know you’ve been waiting for this! I’m so excited to share with you this interview with the super talented Steven Jensen! You can find a sneak peek of his soon to be released book The Poison of a Smile on his website!
Poison of a Smile will soon be released in print and as an e-book. It will be available through Amazon and Smashwords.
Feel free to leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Newport, South Wales but consider myself an Irish exile. This is a typically Romantic and wholly self-indulgent position; I’ve never even been to Ireland. But my ancestors lived there for centuries…They ranged from minor royalty – in those times when anyone with enough ambition and ruthlessness could be King – to madmen to ‘whisky priests’; a fine and inspiring lineage for a writer and failed poet like me! It just so happens that many of my idols were Celtic literary types; Wilde and Yeats in particular are an ever-present inspiration to me.
You could say that I was raised by books: the vast and eclectic range of my late father’s reading, and my mother’s requited love affair with Historical Fiction. I went to school but, in reality, I was truly educated at home. The food was better there too…
Where do you get your ideas?
I think, in common with the majority of writers, I have precious few truly original ideas. The trick is to put heart and soul into whatever inspires one, to try to express the very essence of whatever themes and notions come to mind. Authors cannot help but repeat history, that is, their own reading history; we can never repay the debts we owe to those who came before us, the writers who blazed a trail for us with their luminous brilliance. And so, we only rewrite that history, and impress our own, modern perspective onto the pages of the past. In spirit, virtually everything I write has its genesis in greater works than my own…virtually nothing is taken from life, only from my literary life; there is no finer existence, and there can be no finer tribute to those who taught me to love literature.
Your first book will be published in late 2010. Can you tell us about it?
The Poison of a Smile began life as ghost story, and then became something other. This abrupt shift is reflected in the earliest drafts – in which a tired and sceptical investigator ventures alone into a haunted manor house – and the current version, focused on my characters Alatiel, Gabriel Holland, and Cristian Salazar. There is an unbreakable bond, an ineradicable connection, between characters who are ostensibly ‘bad’ and ‘good’. Every one of them has their sins and secrets…
In truth it was the creation of that Mistress of Death, Alatiel, which gave the story a new and vital impetus; The Poison of a Smile always possessed the blackest of hearts but now her body is bejewelled and bewitching; a spider’s web appears quite delicate and charming until one is caught fast within.
You’re working with an interesting publisher, how did that come to be?
I was very fortunate. I’d joined the excellent Night Reading website
, and soon learned about Night Publishing
and Mr Tim Roux, whose progressive philosophy seemed to me to be a breath of fresh air. Before too long, I enquired about the prospect of submitting fiction. With the helpful encouragement of my friend in mind – the Penguin author and NP editor Genevieve Graham-Sawchyn – Mr Roux was receptive to the idea of publishing my book. I appreciate that it’s rather a cliché for authors to praise their publishers but, nonetheless, I can honestly state that I couldn’t be happier with Night Publishing and the company’s staff.
How do you market your work? What have you found is getting your upcoming book the most attention?
Being quite new to ‘public’ writing, I’m still learning about the more effective forms of publicity. While I find my way, I’m thankful to friends, reviewers and interviewers for helping me.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I would only dare or presume to advise ‘new’ writers, like myself: write the kind of fiction you want to read, stories with the style and spirit of those you love and have loved. That sounds rather obvious and simplistic, doesn’t it? And yet it’s the most important advice I could ever give. Naturally, we all have to compromise a little – when it comes to editing for publication, for instance – but it is crucial for a writer to hold in mind (and heart) what enthused him or her about literature in the first place.
In effect, an established author, one who is genuinely passionate about books, stands on the shoulders of giants – those greats whose works are a constant inspiration – and we, the inheritors, only breath new life into stories which are perhaps as ancient as mankind. While we newcomers strive to add a new ‘twist’ to those tales, the foundations are already set in stone for us to build on – in our own style, one which reflects the legacy of those writers we have admired all our reading lives. The vocation of writing should never be a mere ‘means to an end’, a way to make a living; ideally, it should be one’s whole life.
What project are you working on now?
I’m hoping to put the experience I gained from writing Poison to good use in the crafting of my second book. The Passion Bearer is more of a traditional Victorian-style ghost story, the kind I seek out while browsing Amazon and the like. I hope to explore the very heart of romance too; despite the obligatory unsettling atmosphere of the genre, I’m endeavouring to make this a more gentle tale than The Poison of a Smile. As such, it might lack the Grand Guignol horrors of my first book but I anticipate that this will resplendent with the most bittersweet poignancy. Ok, that’s quite enough pretentiousness for now…
Have you been planning ahead on what you will write in the future? Are there certain characters you would like to go back to?
There will definitely be a prequel to Poison. I’m really looking forward to writing an entire history of the Salazar clan. A sequel is on the horizon too and this will be quite a different beast to the other novels; more of a detective tale, in fact.
Also, I’ve been fortunate in that readers seem to interested in my character Alatiel, so perhaps she will take centre stage in a later book.
Finally, a novel set in Berlin will come forth somewhere along the line; I’ve always been fascinated by the Expressionist films produced by German masters in the early years of the Twentieth Century, and this ‘world’ will be the setting for another book.
As long as I can write books which interest me, then that is my definition of success. If anyone else is captivated by the people and places I imagine, then the pleasure is greater still.
Want to know more?
Check out Steve’s blog here