I’m delighted to be on the Horseshoes and Hand Grenades tour today hosting author S M Stevens in my hot seat.
Find out about the inspiration behind Sue’s story, the scene she found the hardest to write and much more.
I hope you find Sue as inspirational as I have. Enjoy. x
Fragile but practical Shelby Stewart and ambitious, confident Astrid Ericcson just want to start their PR careers in 1980s Boston and maybe find a nice guy to hang out with. But long-buried memories of incest at the hands of her local hero stepfather keep interrupting Shelby’s plans, affecting her health one way after another. And when will she actually date someone her friends think is good enough for her?
Astrid thinks she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting but is forced to re-visit her career advancement strategy when her boss Brad takes the innuendos to a whole new, scary level, threatening her job and her safety.
Suddenly, instead of taking charge of their lives, both women find themselves spinning out of control.
In this fast-paced story for the #metoo generation, the women reach new highs and lows in life, work and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades by S M Stevens is published by Touchpoint Press and is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
Hi Sue, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Horseshoes and Hand Grenades in 20 words or less.
A serious but uplifting coming-of-age story for two young women dealing, respectively, with sexual abuse memories and workplace harassment.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
The #MeToo movement; specifically, watching victims of sexual abuse and harassment being asked things like Was it partly your fault? and How bad was it really? I found that incredibly sad and frustrating because when you think about it, do we ask those questions of victims of other crimes? No. And we don’t question why a robbery or attempted murder victim speaks up, either. I decided it was time for a novel that took non-victims into the minds of victims so they might understand a bit more.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most Sue?
I’d have to say all the scenes in which Shelby, Astrid and their friend Tina interact, whether it’s on holiday or at a local bar. The negative situations Shelby and Astrid deal with test the strength of their friendships, but ultimately they forge bonds that will last a lifetime.
… and the hardest to write?
The incest and sexual harassment scenes were of course hardest to write, even though there are only a few of them and they are brief. While writing, I cried a few times in sympathy for my characters. (I can only hope readers experience the same type of connection!)
Do you have a theme for your book covers? Who designs them?
I’ve written this Adult/Women’s Fiction novel, a Middle Grade novel for animal-lovers, and a Young Adult series for theatre-loving teens, so they called for different cover treatments. I am fortunate, though, to have an artist in the family. My daughter, Natalie Simone, illustrated the covers of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades and Shannon’s Odyssey.
What inspired you to write Sue?
I had wanted to write fiction since I was a girl, but only found the time to attempt it during back-to-back health issues: a broken pelvis from a horseback riding fall, and ovarian cancer. During the former, I was on crutches and essentially housebound for three months so I wrote to stay sane. During the latter, pecking away at a laptop was a welcome distraction during 8-hour chemotherapy sessions!
Do you have a most creative time of day?
Inspiration seems to hit me most often between 3:00 and 5:00 AM which is not appreciated by the rest of the family. 🙂
Have you joined any writing groups?
Yes, two of them, and it’s true when they say aspiring authors must network. One writer’s group ultimately led to my publishing deal.
Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?
Sadly, it no longer exists, but I attended a three-day writer’s seminar in which published authors worked closely with eight students each. I learned so much in that long weekend about how to shape a story.
Finally Sue, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
The feedback from readers of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, in particular one woman who said the book prompted her to tell her husband about a workplace harassment situation she endured years before and had kept to herself ever since. If my novel can start those type of conversations, and help victims—even of “less severe” abuse—acknowledge that their experiences matter, then I will consider Horseshoes and Hand Grenades a smashing success!
Thank you for being my guest today. Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
Instagram: s.m.stevens https://www.instagram.com/s.m.stevens/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/S.M.-Stevens/e/B006E548JO
S.M. Stevens began writing fiction during back-to-back health crises. First, she broke her pelvis in three places in a horseback riding fall, and used the recuperation period to write Shannon’s Odyssey, a middle-grade novel for animal-lovers. Soon after, Stevens was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. During her five months of treatment and subsequent recovery spell, she wrote Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers for musical theatre-loving teens. Two additional Bit Players novels followed. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is her first adult book. After watching reactions to the #MeToo movement, she decided it was time for a novel that takes people into the minds of victims so they can understand why many women don’t speak up about their harassment or assault, and why some do. When not writing, she provides marketing and public relations services to solar energy companies. She is from Gorham, Maine, and now lives in Clinton, Mass., and Washington, N.H. She has also lived in Italy and in the U.K., where she was Group Public Affairs Director for National Grid.