Author Spotlight: Steven Van Patten
KG: What is one word to best describe your writing style?
SVP: One word? Detailed.
KG: Who is the target audience for readers of your work?
SVP: Mostly, Black folks are sick of the typical stereotypes and tropes that SOME white writers portray us as. Anyone who likes horror and dark fiction but wants to see us as more than comic relief and that 'sidekick.' Oh, and of course, anyone who is sick of us being dead at the beginning of the horror movie or being dead only to show how strong the monster is, being dead so the white dude can be triggered into going HAM. I'm pushing against all of that.
KG: Describe your writing life.
SVP: Constant state of flux because I also stage manage TV shows. Depending on the show, sometimes my writing time is cut into way more than I want, but the bills must be paid until I get a little more support. When I'm not working, I best believe I'm writing, but now even that time is split because I'm getting paid to write for other people. Anthologies. Episodes of either Extra History or Extra Mythology (visit the video library on my website). All of that is great for the writing career. My vampire and serial killer stuff usually gets handled in the middle of the night when I'm exhausted.
KG: What is your greatest literary accomplishment?
SVP: In 2019, I won Best Independent Publisher at The African-American Literary Awards. The book 'Hell At The Waystation' that I co-wrote with fellow blerd (black nerd) Marc L. Abbott won Best Anthology and Best In Science Fiction (because Black folks literature contests never have 'Horror' as a category) - so that was a lot of glass to take home. That was a good night.
KG: What has been the greatest lesson you've learned since becoming a published author, and advice would you give an aspiring author?
SVP: If you're going to pursue it, pursue it. Full-throated. Don't be like me, caught between two worlds. Learn your grammar, get you some test readers, and I don't mean your mama unless your mama is an English professor. Find people who will read your stuff, not show anyone else, and tell you something in your story that does not make sense. You have to build a team and network, just like these rap dudes. Only, don't have a bunch of useless MFS following you around to your book signings getting on people's nerves like rap dudes. That shit does not fly in this thing.
KG: How has Covid19 affected your literary career?
SVP: Initially, it jacked me up. I am not a household name, so I live and die by selling books at horror conventions. And guess what went away, along with everything else? Horror Cons. That sucked because I had a lot of product just sitting here in my place AND back at my mom's! So, I had to get resourceful and start using social media way more than usual. The good news is, I am now better at social media. I think.
KG: What are some other projects that you are working on besides being an author?
SVP: Well, as I said, I stage manage. And the odd thing is, because of that, I have been nearby of every famous person you could think of. But I can't use that to help this. It's not allowed. I can't do like Pookie and them and roll up on somebody I know from the old days and corner them asking for the hook-up. I can't just roll up on Rosario Dawson or somebody and start pitching. These producers would have fired faster than you could say 'hand grenade.' And even the celebs I do befriend and get to talk to outside of work are pretty much no help whatsoever. They're worried about their shit or too busy arguing with people on the internet. Honestly, outside of Hilarie Burton Morgan, no famous person I have ever worked with has even given me a shout-out.
Of course, about 100 or so 'almost famous' people have kept in touch and are very supportive, usually because I was the only person who was nice to them at some point in their lives.
I also mentioned 'Extra Mythology' and 'Extra History,' two YouTube channels run by 'Extra Credits.' Initially, they brought me into the mythology stuff, based on my original body of work. Then George Floyd was murdered, and they tasked me with writing some Black History episodes. I'm very proud of these, but it was hard during COVID, reliving all this heinous shit that's happened to Black folks. I broke down in tears while I was writing about Medgar Evers. Like, I needed a day before I could even look at it, much less finish. I am very proud of the work, though.
The last thing I'll mention is my podcast, 'Beef, Wine & Shenanigans. I co-host with Marc Abbott, Kirk Johnson, but we have guests here and there. Mostly old VJs who never got the shine that, let's say Carson Daly did. Again, HBM is the exception because she's a pretty big TV show actress, but she's been on the podcast. Again, I was decent to them, and they've been decent to me in kind.
Oh yeah, there was that episode of Viral Vignettes I wrote that starred Max Gail and John Schneider. That was cool. My bad. NOW I'm at the last thing.
KG: Lastly, what book did you read that made you fall in love with reading?
SVP: Scary comic books were really where it started for me. Tomb of Dracula. Werewolf By Night. Ghost Rider. I was reading all of those before I even cared about Spider-Man or the X-Men. Of course, this led to novels, and the first was either an old Stephen King book, 'Salem's Lot' maybe, or 'Ghost Story' by Peter Straub. That's funny that you made me remember that. I was too young to be reading any of that stuff.
Safe to say, I was a strange kid.
For more on Steven you can find him on social media. He uses his full name on Facebook but goes by @svpthinks on Twitter and Instagram. When he’s not writing, he can be found stage managing television shows primarily in New York City. Along with being a member of the New York Chapter of The Horror Writer’s Association, he’s also a member of The Director’s Guild of America and professional arts fraternity, Gamma Xi Phi. His website is www.laughingblackvampire.com.