Tell us something about yourself and how you became a writer.
I studied three years for the ministry before I decided to become a heathen journalist. But the years were not wasted, the protagonist in Hidden Evil is a minister with a tragic secret.
I wrote my first journalism piece my junior year in college (about the top Bible salesman in America), met this beautiful blonde and got married. I haven’t looked back since, spending my life in a career uniquely suited to my personality. I have often felt sorry for anyone who got up each day and went to the same job; putting lids on tin cans. With me, I never knew if I was going to the scene of a murder or a high society tea party or rub elbows with an electric celebrity.
I have been managing editor of three small dailies (one named the top newspaper in its category in the state by the Associated Press Managing Editors) and knocked around at big city newspapers in Dallas and San Antonio. In San Antonio I was asked to write a daily television column (mostly based on the fact that I co-authored a couple of scripts for Gunsmoke). I moved on to freelance writing, working special assignments for Time and Life before landing a job with People Weekly magazine as a Texas correspondent. For People I reported on three of the school shootings, the Branch Davidian standoff, the sacrifice murder of a college student in Mexico on spring break and the Oklahoma City bombing, among a number of breaking news and celebrity gigs.
All the while as I was dreaming about creative writing, I wrote four nonfiction books, one of them a Literary Guild Alternate selection and another is a True Crime Book of the Month.
Now, I’ve broken the fiction ceiling and wonder of wonders, I have two novels currently on the market.
Tell us about your novels Alias Thomas A. Katt and Hidden Evil and where readers can purchase a copy.
I’m hoping that I’ve invented a new genre with Thomas, “feline noir.” The idea came one night while watching Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. Our cat Schyler (that’s his picture on the cover) was settled in Martha’s lap and I wondered what would happen if he switched bodies with Bogart’s tough detective. Would Schyler/Thomas be as tough? How would he react as a stranger in a strange land? If he landed in the river, could he dog paddle? What would be his thoughts when he discovered he was no longer “fixed?” And how many of those nine lives will his adventures cost him?
So, Thomas, a cat, switches bodies with Tom A. Katt, his mistress’ boyfriend and a sharp-tongued evil serial killer who is also a mob enforcer. Three-year-old Thomas’ must learn the foibles of his new humanity while armed with only the knowledge he’s gained from watching television, listening to the radio, viewing Bourbon Street from his window on the world and the books Mallory read to him on rainy New Orleans afternoons.
It’s difficult to place this in a genre. It has a bit of warm fuzzy, a great deal of suspense, a bit of humor, a good dose of horror and a dollop of old-fashioned romance. So, I decided to call it “feline noir.”
It’s available at Solstice Publishing -- http://www.solsticepublishing.com/ -- as well as all standard ebook outlets.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
With the exception of Thomas, from real life.
In particular, I’m interested in knowing where you got your information to write Hidden Evil.
Much of it comes from real-life experience in reporting on the death of Mark Kilroy and writing a book with his wonderful parents, Jim and Helen. (Sacrifice: The Murder of Mark Kilroy in Matamoros) I’ve lived in Texas all my life and never heard the words Santeria or Palo Mayombe, two Afro-Caribbean religions brought to America by slaves. It is very prevalent in South Texas and extends from the humble homes of poverty into the haciendas of wealth.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that not all practitioners of The Religion are evil. Many are just good, superstitious people who want to improve their lives through Magick. Many of these people are the victims of evil men and women who use mind control to foster malevolence, one of the themes in the book. These people are as surely victims as the hapless people tortured and killed.
A couple of real-life examples.
Once while standing near the lip of the Grand Canyon a young girl and her girlfriend started toward the railing. Before reaching the edge, one turned back fearful. I read her cult signs and told her quietly.
“You can go to the edge, the gods will protect you.” She eyed this six-foot-plus white man with great suspicion. “It’s okay,” I reassured her, “the gods won’t let you fall.”
“Are you a Santero?”
“No,” I said. “But I know you can go safely.” (Of course, I knew she could go safely, there was no magick in looking into the canyon, so I spoke the truth.)
She studied me for a few minutes, then began walking toward the edge, looking back many times. “You are a Santero,” she said, seeking permission of a holy man.
“You are safe. The gods have willed it.” She turned and strode firmly to the edge and looked down, much to her girlfriend’s delight.
Without the Santeria manipulation she would have stayed back. As she walked off, my best friend told me, “You were just messing with her.”
Not really, but it sure demonstrates the power of manipulation.
The other very briefly. While visiting Voodoo queen Marie Laveau’s grave in New Orleans, I came across a black man making a libation sacrifice by sprinkling the contents of a bottle on the tomb. We talked about Palo Mayombe. He was studying to be a Palero. When he discovered my knowledge of the religion, he asked if I was studying to be a Palero and who did I want to kill?
It sure made me wonder who he wanted dead.
In my research, I found a shadowy world of manipulation and a strong belief that the end justifies the means. You want a woman for a lover – married or not – you have the right to work a ritual to bring her to you. You can ask the gods to burn your business rival’s home to the ground. You can even use a stronger evil to drive out a lesser evil.
I visited old cemeteries, talked to Believers, read many books, consulted experts and had one special person allow me inside her world as an animals control expert for the sheriff’s office.
What are you working on right now? Tell us a little about it.
Two projects. One about three lawmen on the border and their battles with drug gangs and terrorists. The other is about a victims’ rights advocate trying to outwit a pedophile. It is based on a “how-to” manuscript discovered in the cell of a pedophile when guards tossed his prison cell. It details means of torture and the best places to capture a child.
What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Thrillers. The only other genre is the “feline noir” for Thomas, sort-of a mixed breed of genres.
Anything you’ve found to be particularly helpful in marketing your books?
Wonderful, giving folks like you. Otherwise, I embarrass my family by telling everyone who will listen that I’ve written a book. Of course I try to blog and comment on the internet.
Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?
Yes, they are but the experience is so new I can’t properly answer that question. The only downside is the inability to have books for a signing or to give reviewers.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Do it! Write! Don’t offer excuses or don’t say the muse has abandoned you. As a journalist, I had to write a news report whether I had a cold or had a bad day at the office. I had to write every day. It’s well-worn advice, but set aside a time every day and write, write, write.
Where can readers find you?
WriterBob Stewart on Facebookhttp://www.writerbobstewart.com/
Barnes & Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-evil-bob-stewart/1106504458?ean=2940013257948&itm=1&usri=hidden%2bevil