This week, I’d like to introduce you to another of my favorite authors, Steven James. Steven’s books include: The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, and The Queen. His latest novel, Opening Moves, will be at the end of this week.
Steven’s thrillers will keep you up far into the night, on the edge of your seat, turning pages. We don’t follow his main character, FBI Agent Patrick Bowers, on his cases. We are with him in every scene. Our adrenaline pumps when his does. We sweat with him, physically, emotionally, and mentally. When fear and doubt strike, we feel it. We are there from uncovering clues to dealing with conflicts within the FBI to his romances that seem to trip up along the way to the tests and proving of friendships to the face-to-face confrontations with killers to raising his teenage step-daughter, Tessa. As every parent knows, that can sometimes be more harrowing than facing killers.
Steven’s stories succeed because he has given us a character who is wonderfully complex and quirky from his Maglite and his coffee snobbery to peeling back his personhood layer by layer as Patrick risks his life and his heart and shows us what it’s like to be human.
In every Patrick Bowers novel, Steven has his hero face death in some form. James Scott Bell writes about every story dealing with death either physical, professional, or emotional. Patrick Bowers faces all three in every story. He faces his own death when confronting the killers. Professional death looms because his reputation, his career, is on the line in every case, especially when he comes into conflict with his superior. Emotional death arises as he tries to raise and protect Tessa, a learning process that continually challenges him, challenges every parent can relate to.
When I read Steven’s novels, I am immediately caught up in the plot and the characters. I re-read them to savor all they can teach me as a writer. How to develop intricate plots. How to create villains who are real. How to set scenes and write dialogue. How to build tension and suspense. How to portray intricate relationships between the characters. How to add twists and surprises to keep the story moving.
Reading one of Steven’s novels is like having a living writing workshop in my hands.
What authors do you read to learn from? Which author has taught you the most about writing?