How S.M. Stevens Became A Fiction Writer
A lifelong business writer who dabbled in creative writing on the side, S.M. Stevens has two health crises to thank for the opportunity to write fiction in earnest.
First, she broke her pelvis in three places in a horseback riding fall when her beloved Connemara pony Elphin spooked and tossed her onto the pavement like nobody’s business. On crutches for three months and unable to commute to work, cook, clean or shuttle kids to activities, she turned to writing to stay sane. The result was Shannon’s Odyssey, a middle-grade novel written for her animal-loving younger daughter.
Almost a year to the day later, she found out she had ovarian cancer, which was treated with surgery and five months of chemotherapy. During this recovery, she wrote Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers for her older daughter and all musical theatre-loving teens. The idea was to fill the void in fiction for fans of performance shows like the Glee TV series and the High School Musical movies.
While Stevens doesn’t recommend this crisis-driven approach to starting a writing career, it worked for her, especially those 8-hour chemo sessions, captive in her padded hospital lounge chair, a warm laptop on her knees. Back to work after the cancer, she squeezed in two additional Bit Players novels because she couldn’t leave the characters behind.
(For more on the Bit Players series, visit www.bitplayers.me.)
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is her first adult novel, prompted by the #metoo movement. As she watched and read the media coverage about Harvey Weinstein, she kept noticing parallels between workplace sexual harassment and childhood incest, specifically how society asks many of the same questions of both types of victim: Was it partly your fault? Why didn’t you say something sooner? How severe was it really? Was it severe enough to even matter?
Thus was born the dual narrative of Shelby and Astrid, two women starting their careers in 1980s Boston while struggling with past and present demons. Stevens hopes their story entertains you and gets you thinking about those questions and the right answers to them.
Beautiful and Terrible Things, her next novel, will be released in early 2023. Charley–a superstitious, damaged, socially isolated bookstore manager–takes a chance on life again only to be betrayed twice by her new friends. This sends her spiraling into a dangerous depression against a backdrop of an American city in turmoil due to social justice ills. The story of Charley and her friends reminds us how friendship has the power to validate, destroy, transform and save lives.
Stevens has enjoyed a business career that included executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. On the corporate side, she helped list a company on the New York Stock Exchange and managed communications for multiple, billion-dollar mergers. On the nonprofit side, she has worked on amazing projects like the grand opening of a rainforest exhibit that took Franklin Park Zoo in Boston from doldrums to world-class attraction, and the first “drydocking” repair of the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) in 20 years.
She has written more articles than can be counted, mostly ghost-written for clients or colleagues. A few articles and columns have run over variations of her name, in publications including the Boston Sunday Globe, Bay State Parent, Bay State Realtor, Strategic Communications Magazine and Guitar & Bass Magazine.
A long-time New Englander with stints in New York, London and Italy, she lives in Washington, N.H.
She still consults and provides marketing and public relations services to a cause near and dear to her heart: solar energy.
What’s Up with the Photos
Several people have asked the author the point of the photos used at the top of this website’s pages. She explains: “I didn’t want to use typical author images like pens and paper and typewriters and computers, so I pulled some of my own photos. The images I chose show the beauty of nature when looked at from a slightly different perspective — the sunflower as it starts to unfold, the berries encased in ice from an early storm. I like to think literature is the same, taking us into aspects of life where we normally wouldn’t venture, or showing us a completely different view of the familiar and challenging our assumptions. In other words, if you delve deeply enough, sometimes you are rewarded with something very special.”
Click here to read/view/listen to interviews with the author.