JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Stephen Mellor, author of The Long Sleep
The first ever colony ship, the New Argo, arrives at its target planet but is immediately destroyed. Back on Earth, Lize Carr, the youngest member of Earth’s Executive Committee tries to get an official investigation underway but is blocked by the other members of the Committee who think that it is no longer relevant.
Rather than accepting the situation, she decides to hire a private investigator and chooses Kem Logan to find out if there is any information on why it happened. Needless to say, the investigation leads them both deeper into trouble than either of them were prepared for. The search for the truth leads to major changes in both of their lives before the truth is finally discovered.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write The Long Sleep?
Stephen Mellor: I really don’t remember what inspired me to write the initial story that eventually became The Long Sleep. It started out as a short story. I wrote the first draft while I was sitting on one of the D-Day Landing beaches while on holiday in Northern France several years ago.
I was happy with the story and hadn’t thought about extending it. Lots of people who read it said that there was so much more to it, and it should be extended. Finally, I decided to take the plunge and worked on it and turned it into the book as it now exists. I have to say that I’m really glad it did and amazed that it turned out as well as it did.
JP: What sets The Long Sleep apart from other books in the same genre?
SM: I’m really not looking to set the science-fiction world on its head. All I’m trying to do is write a good story that has well-written characters and isn’t completely clichéd. Frankly, setting myself apart from other SF books never even entered my head while I was writing it.
Really, I think that it’s not for me to say what it is that sets it apart, it’s for my readers. And, whether they think it’s a revolutionary concept in the field of Science-Fiction on a par with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke or Iain M. Banks or of it’s as clichéd as Battle Beyond The Stars, I really don’t care. All that’s important for me is that they enjoy it. Although, saying that, if someone does think that it’s as clichéd as Battle Beyond The Stars then, frankly, they’re wrong…
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to The Long Sleep getting out to the public?
SM: I have no idea! I’ve got my website, my Livejournal blog, my Twitter account and my Facebook account. I’m really just feeling my way at the moment. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to get my book out to the public in this way. I had it self-pubbed on Lulu for a while. That was really just a family and friends thing. I wasn’t really worried about getting it out there any further.
Frankly, the impetus to do this was finding out that I was being made redundant. I’ve spent the last twenty years doing jobs that, on the whole, I hated and that made me depressed and not realising that I was really just following the path of least resistance. But, I’m 40 now and in a way, I’m seeing my redundancy as a chance for myself.
I’m going to try to make a go of it as a writer. If I fail and have to go back to some shitty job then at least I won’t be able to look back in twenty or thirty years time and realise that I didn’t even try to do something worthwhile.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish The Long Sleep?
SM: I am appallingly undisciplined when it comes to writing. It is not unknown to stop writing for two or three months at a time. As a consequence, it takes me far too long to write. This one probably took me about eight years all together, from initial short story to final novel, although it has been tinkered with several times since then.
When I finish work, I am going to seriously get down and make myself do it properly. I’ve got an idea for my next novel, and I’d like to have it done in a year. But, really, we’ll see.
JP: What’s next for Stephen Mellor?
SM: Next is a collection of short stories. I’m hopefully looking at getting that published in September or October. I’ve also got a second novel, a fantasy called Down Among the Yla which is currently being considered by a real publisher. If it gets rejected from that then I am probably going to publish it myself, the same as I did with The Long Sleep.
I also have my third novel, a contemporary supernatural thriller called Ghostkin which is about 2000 words away from finishing. I am going to finish the first draft on that before the end of July, leaving me ready to edit it when I come back from my summer holiday in August/September.
If I do end up publishing Down Among the Yla myself then there is a very strong possibility that Ghostkin will follow in the same way. I’m anticipating a Christmas release date for Down Among the Yla and then Ghostkin will probably follow this time next year.
I’m also going to continue trying to push The Long Sleep. I want to podcast an audio-book version of it and I need to completely revamp my website. Other than that, it’s a case of feeling my way and seeing what comes along.
I’d like to thank Joey for giving me this opportunity to talk about my work, and I’d especially like to thank the reader of Joey’s website who brought The Long Sleep to his attention. I hope you enjoyed it!
I also hope that anyone else who is inspired to check it out as a consequence of this interview enjoys it at least as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thank you very much for giving me this interview, as well as for all the tweeting you’ve been doing about The Long Sleep over the last few days. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know!
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Down Among the Yla