For this post, I’m excited to bring you an interview with a very good friend of mine, Steven Hardy. Over the past year, Steven has written his first book, and set up a new blog. I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions…
Let’s start with a bit about yourself for readers that don’t know you…
Well, my full name is Steven William Hardy and I recently graduated from the University of Nottingham with a first-class degree in English with Creative Writing.
And what do you do to relax?
For pleasure, I like to read, and I’m not fussy in this department – I like anything from Old Norse myths all the way to Marvel comic books and every genre in-between. I also enjoy writing in as many different forms as I can, from poetry to prose, and plays to songs. I’m a little bit of a health freak, and I enjoy working out too. I have also been a Christian my whole life, so church life, family and community is a big part of my life too!
So how did your blog, The Pursuit of Writing, come about?
Upon graduating, I tried different lines of work, from finance to sales to retail; however, my creative soul felt choked in these different industries. So I took some time off work to develop swhardywriter.com as a way of keeping my creativity active whilst hopefully also inspiring others to write creatively too! I realised that after three years of higher education and learning from other writers and creative individuals that I had gained so much information I wanted to share, hence The Pursuit of Writing.
Do you have a specific audience in mind for the blog?
My blog is aimed all individuals who have some kind of interest in writing, whether they’ve been writing for many years or are completely new to writing creatively. You can expect to read posts about writing theory coupled with practical exercises for you to try. You can also find book reviews and original creative works that I upload there. You can also find inspiration with regards to travel, as well as writing fiction and non-fiction.
Where do you see The Pursuit of Writing going further down the line?
This blog is still new, but my end goal is for it to become a hub for writing inspiration, so whoever comes across The Pursuit of Writing leaves feeling inspired to write something.
I know you have a book out, can you tell us a bit more about that?
No Separation is a Young Adult Dystopia I wrote during my three years at the University of Nottingham. From my days of working at Waitrose, I stumbled upon a nugget of an idea to write about relationships which involved permanent, connecting emotions. However, for years I was too daunted by the idea of writing an entire novel, so I put it off until university where I finally bit the bullet and wrote it – best decision ever!
And you self-published, right? Why did you decide to go down that route?
I decided to self-publish through Amazon because I knew I wanted some exposure for my work, but I also knew I needed to develop myself greatly as a writer before I approach literary agents and publishers, and self-publishing enabled me to do both!
Let’s talk a bit more generally – what/who are your biggest influences and inspirations when you write?
That’s a huge question! Growing up I was crazy about Anthony Horowitz, from Alex Rider to the Diamond Brothers and the Power of Five – I’ve read them all! When I was writing No Separation my writing style was inspired by other successful YA writers such as Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth and Cassandra Clare. I think my inspiration fluctuates depending on the project I am working on, so right now I am reading lots of non-fiction Improv books by the likes of Alison Goldie, Charna Halpern and Mick Napier.
I can’t resist asking – what’s your favourite book of all?
As for my favourite book of all time it’s probably The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, it really speaks to me and the writing itself is delicious!
You mentioned earlier that you’re a Christian. Does your faith impact your writing at all, and if so, how?
It does. In a similar way to how an academic would criticise work through several ‘lenses’, I believe that I too write through several ‘lenses’, one such lens would be faith. I think faith is an active quality, I don’t think you can put it down and pick it up at will, once you have it, you have it. So undoubtedly some degree of faith is reflected in my writing. In No Separation, I touch upon topics of hope, forgiveness, and trust – all are notions closely associated with faith. So, do I force my theistic views upon my reader through my writing? Of course not. But I do encourage my reader to question these notions through my writing.
How much does faith tend to affect your interpretation of other people’s work?
It does to a degree. Again, it is a lens which can’t be shaken; it’s a part of how I interpret the world so naturally it affects how I read. Sometimes I read faith into things that maybe the author didn’t originally intend involve faith, and sometimes I completely miss the point the author might have been trying to make because I was reading through the lens of faith. But for me that’s the joy of literature, particularly fiction. There is no right or wrong – there’s only interpretation. And interpretation is personal, so it’s not subjective. It is unique, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a beautiful thing!