Stephen S. Power
The Warmth of Sun in Winter, flash fiction, Issue 32, September 1, 2015
Birthday? May 1967
When did you start writing? I wrote poetry throughout college to no real success. My favorite moment was entering a poem in a poetry competition at my school and getting a form response back that said no poem was up to snuff, so no prize would be awarded. Handwritten in the margin was a note from the judge that said my entry was, however, the best of the bad lot.
While spending a year abroad, then in grad school, I turned to writing literary fiction, in particular flash, inspired by several anthologies that came out at that time. I had a half-dozen stories published in small magazines, including an honorable mention in the World's Best Short Short Story contest, but ultimately I realized I didn't have much to say.
A few years later, inspired as cliche would have it, on a road trip to Iowa, I went back to poetry. I puttered about in free verse for a few years before devoting myself for more than a decade to formal verse, first sonnets, then longer works. I've had more than 70 poems published, including one that was nominated for a Pushcart.
After finishing an immense poem, "The Hanging of Robin Hood,' which took more than six years, on and off, to write and eventually appeared in Measure, I figured I'd done my part for poetry. I got the idea for my novel and dove into that. Once it was sold, I then poured myself into writing stories while editing it. Currently, I'm also outlining a sequel to The Dragon Round.
What themes do you like to write about? I'm trying to write more positive things--"Warmth" was an important step for me because it was consciously my first story in which no one is obliterated in some way--but I can't help myself, so I tend to write something upbeat and hopeful, then something full of despair for the future.
What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? I've been a book editor for two decades, mostly for trade nonfiction, so I pull a lot of ideas out of the books I've worked on. For instance, now that I handle business books, many of SF stories deal with the gig economy, automation, corporations, etc. I'm not above taking classic plots too: The Dragon Round is essentially Count of Monte Cristo with a dragon. My biggest struggle is trying to not sound like Jack Vance, one of my favorite authors. Finally, I tend to ramble, so I very deliberately write as sparingly as possible. This style also sets me apart from worldbuilders like GRRM or Tolkien. I couldn't compete on their turf anyway. They're too awesome.
Stephen S. Power's first novel, The Dragon Round, will be published by Simon451 in June 2016. His stories have recently appeared in AE, Daily Science Fiction and Nature, with others forthcoming in Lightspeed and Stupifying Stories. He's also a Pushcart-nominated poet whose work will soon be read on StarShipSofa.