Let Me Introduce You To…R.P. Steeves

As you all know, I own and am the managing editor of Seven Realms Publishing. Needless to say, it’s so much fun to be part of something that’s been so successful in the one year we’ve had our doors opened. But I’ll be honest with you…there’s one part of the job that can be tedious. What’s that? Well, it’s the submissions process, of course. On a regular basis, I get hundreds of submissions each month (even when my website clearly states submissions are closed! lol). And of those hundreds of submissions, maybe only one or two catch my eye. I remember when R.P (Rich) Steeves first sent his submission to me…it was one of those emails that made me almost giddy with anticipation to read. Why? Because, as you also know only too well, I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher, Anton Strout, and the Urban Fantasy genre in general. And Rich…oh, Rich had just sent me my very first urban fantasy submission that actually made me excited! The book he proposed had a strange, and rather unnerving title (I remember thinking we might just have to change that), but the premise had me ready to dive into his manuscript with a gusto. And when I read it, I knew I wanted to be the one to publish Misty Johnson, Supernatural Dick in Capitol Hell (strange, suggestive title and all!).
There was just something about it. It had a little bit of everything you could want in a good urban fantasy yarn. Dastardly villains. Creatures and monsters of every variety. A cool headed hero. A wisecracking sidekick. And magic battles and mystery galore.
I promptly contracted Rich and set to work immediately on designing a memorable and awesome cover to go with the equally memorable story. And I could think of no one better to do than artist extraordinaire Gil Murillo. He promptly set to work creating character studies of Misty, her partner Dru, and at least one of the creatures the duo face within the pages of the story…a feral vampire. And as you can see by the cover image, Gil did an amazing job [I’ll post his character sketches through the rest of the blog post for your consideration].
Needless to say, we had the makings of a blockbuster! Now, if we can only get the readers!! And hopefully, this post will convince you to give Misty a try. She’s available right now in ebook via Kindle and other formats via Smashwords. The print version will be released in late February…so start saving your pennies now! But if you need a little more convincing, here’s what the book is about:
Centuries ago, Misty Johnson, Supernatural…er,…Dick, was cursed with near immortality when a black magic spell she and a friend were casting backfired…and the supernatural realm has regretted it ever since. A near millennium full of battling paranormal nasties, saving helpless victims, and trying to stay up with the latest cultural niceties, Misty has put her experiences to good use. With the help of her trusty partner, Dru Chance, the two take on the magical underbelly of Washington D.C. as they investigate crimes that no one else can handle.

From shady Senators to sneaky shape shifters, from a ninja made of clay to a vampire afraid of his own shadow…Misty Johnson navigates the nation’s capital, all the while seeking to uncover the truth for her clients—and for herself.
An unnatural life span. A timeless mission. A woman like no other. Just don’t call her a detective!
Still not sure? Well then, maybe these testimonials by some very respected authors and entertainers might convince you:
Misty and Dru are the paranormal world’s answer to Holmes and Watson.” – Lori Devoti, author of AMAZON QUEEN and AMAZON INK.
Misty Johnson enters the worthy ranks of psychic investigators and takes you on a page-turning tour of Washington DC’s seedy Underworld-Underworld. I’ll never feel completely safe in an unfamiliar comic book store again!” – John J. Miller, author of DEATH DRAWS FIVE (the Wild Cards series).
Rich Steeves has arrived as a fresh new voice in fiction, and his creation, Misty Johnson is an instant classic. She is a welcome addition to the ranks of paranormal investigators – funny, tough and one-of-a-kind.” – Liz Tigelaar, author of the Pretty Tough series and creator of The CW’s Life Unexpected.
Feisty and fierce, Misty Johnson is one savvy, supernatural detective that’s always one step ahead of her clever, otherworldly prey. Steeves has created a fun new heroine that’s a pleasure to follow in her investigative misadventures. Misty’s a charmer!” – Tara Bennett, co-author of the LOST ENCLYCLOPEDIA.
Here’s the book trailer for Misty Johnson:
Recently, I sat down and talked to Rich about Misty, Dru, and the gang…as well as his thoughts on writing and the future. Here’s what he had to say:
1) Your book, Misty Johnson, Supernatural Dick in Capitol Hell has finally been released! In your own words, tell us a bit about Misty, her partner Dru, and the plot of the book.
The woman now known as Misty Johnson was cursed with near-immortality nearly 900 years ago. Over the centuries, she has walked the earth, using different names and different identities, sometimes as a part of society, sometimes apart from it. Now, she has set up her shingle as Washington DC’s one and only Supernatural Dick where she investigates crimes that normal police cannot handle. She is stubborn and old-fashioned, but she seeks the truth, and finds it, no matter what it takes.
Dru Chance is Misty’s newly hired partner in the firm. He is Misty’s foil in many ways. A scruffy schlub from suburban CT, he is goofy, funny, friendly and fits comfortably in modern society. He helps Misty deal with modern technology and handles most interactions with contemporary humans. He is new to the supernatural world, so everything he encounters in the investigations is strange and new to him.
In Capitol Hell, Misty and Dru have been hired to investigate a break-in at the offices of Colorado Senator Brock Carlson. The case takes them deep into the supernatural underworld of Washington, DC, where they encounter clay ninjas, feral vampires, and spell-casters who seek power both mystical and political.
2) Okay…the question on everyone’s mind. Why “supernatural dick”? Where did that come from?
This is the number one question I field! It’s a two-part answer, really. First of all, when I created the character, I wanted her to be a ‘Paranormal Investigator’ (PI, get it?). But as I did research on the genre, I realized there were characters who already had that title, plus just about every combination of synonyms. At the same time, I was developing the personality of Misty, and I realized how old-fashioned and stubborn she could be, so I decided to dig up an old, obsolete term for detective: ‘dick.’ At that point, I decided that ‘supernatural dick’ sounded pretty good, and I knew that the name fit the character, would give me a running gag, as people told her how ridiculous it sounded, and it would give the book a title that would certainly stand out on the shelves!
3) What kind of supernatural creatures can we expect to see in Misty Johnson? Tell us how current popular views of certain mythical creatures helped to inspire your book.
Among the supernatural beings you’ll see in the book are: golems, various types of spellcasters (illusionists, necromancers, and others), a Berserker, a fenghuang, one capitalist fairy, a lizard man, at least one disembodied spirit, a lich, and several different strains of vampires. In Misty’s world, there are different forms of vampirism, from feral beasts like the nosferatu of old, to vampires who can pass as humans, though they don’t breathe or blink properly. I saw so many different versions of vampires in recent fiction, from Lestat to Bill Compton to Edward Cullen, and I thought to myself, why can’t all the different kinds of vampires coexist in a universe? I decided there would be different strains of vampires, with different strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Though, as Misty points out, she’s seen thousands of vampires in her lifetime, but hasn’t yet seen one that sparkles…
4) Who would you say are your greatest influences in writing (whether authors, books, TV, or movies)?
I have so many different influences, it’s hard to know where to start. My love of mysteries sprang from my enjoyment of the books of Agatha Christie. I see Misty and Dru as my loving homage to Poirot and Hastings. I grew to love fantasy through the books of Lloyd Alexander, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. My urban fantasy inspiration came from such authors as Jim Butcher and Anton Strout. Other writers I admire are the Wild Cards Consortium: John J. Miller, Carrie Vaughn, George R. R. Martin and dozens of others. I also love the works of Michael Connolly, Jasper Fforde and Christopher Moore.
I read a lot of comics, so writers such as Stan Lee, Mark Gruenwald, John Byrne and Peter David were influences. And in the TV realm, I admire the work of JJ Abrams, Damen Lindeloff, Carlton Cuse, Rob Thomas and, most of all, Joss Whedon. Misty has more than a little in common with Angel, I think!
5) When did you get serious about becoming an author? Tell us a bit about that.
A few years ago, I was feeling very dissatisfied with my job. I was speaking to someone about this dissatisfaction, and he asked me what my ideal job would be. Without hesitation, I told him I wanted to be a writer (a dream since childhood, along with astronaut and game show host). He asked me what I was writing. I started to make excuses about being busy, tired, etc., etc. He replied “I don’t know a lot about writing, but it seems to me, if you want to be a writer, you should write.” I realized he was right, and I made it a habit to write every single day. I took time that otherwise would have been devoted to reading, playing games or napping, and I used that time to write. I started with a few short stories, and then decided I wanted to write a screenplay. After a short while, though, I realized I didn’t really know how to write or structure a screenplay, so I took my idea for an irascible paranormal investigator, and turned it into a novel. I wrote the first draft over the course of a summer, then revised and edited, and then, finally, went through the difficult process of finding a home for Misty Johnson, finally finding one at Seven Realms Publishing.
6) What can we look forward to seeing in future Misty Johnson books? What other projects do you have in mind for the future (whether Misty related or not)?
Misty’s next appearance will be in a short story in an upcoming anthology from Seven Realms. The tale takes place in Misty’s past, a story that she herself narrates. It is a tale inspired by the short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” and will be part of a collection of stories also influenced by that tale, due out in 2011 from 7R! I have also completed the first draft of the sequel to Capitol Hell, tentatively titled Misty Johnson, Supernatural Dick in… The National Maul. The book takes place a few weeks after the cliffhanger ending of the first Misty Johnson novel, and picks up many threads from the initial tale. You’ll see familiar friends, enemies and ongoing mysteries explored, as well as some new dangers and new questions that Misty must deal with. If you are interested in the Misty Johnson versions of werewolves and zombies, this book is for you!
As with most authors, I have plenty of ideas careening around in the creative corners of my skull. I’ve been tinkering with a screenplay that merges two classic sci-fi and fantasy tropes into an epic tale. I’ve also been plotting out a potential comic book series that is my take on the classic story of how super-powered individuals would really fit into our existing society. I also have a Young Adult Novel that I want to take out of mothballs and polish, as well as a sci-fi novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2009 that needs some major revisions. I have no shortage of ideas, only a shortage of time!
7) If you could offer just one piece of advice for aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
I wish I had something original or witty to say here, but I feel that the best advice in this situation is the simplest: write. As that one person once said to me, a writer should write. Most people I know that are interested in writing simply don’t make the time to write. I know it is not easy, but people are able to squeeze in, say, exercise or naps or time to read or play games and, if someone loves to write, then he or she should make time to do so. For me, writing is something I enjoy, and even if no one had ever read a word about Misty and Dru, I had a blast writing it. But the discipline I developed while writing, revising and editing served me well in the next phase: trying to get the book published! Once I was able to conquer the completion of the manuscript, the challenge of finding a publisher paled in comparison. But, of course, I never would have had anything to publish if I didn’t complete the novel, so, in a long winded explanation of a simple piece of advice, I say: WRITE!
If you know anything about me as a publisher, you should know only one thing…I only publish books that I would love to read. I promise you that if I wasn’t 100%  excited about Misty Johnson, I wouldn’t have published it…which means, I’m 100% excited to share it with the world. This isn’t a pitch hoping to increase sales…it’s like finding a great place that makes the best pie and wanting all your friends to know about it. If you enjoy urban fantasy, you should totally check out Misty Johnson, Supernatural Dick! (Strange title and all!)

Thanks Rich for the great interview! If you want to learn more about Rich and Misty Johnson, check out his website here: http://richsteeves.blogspot.com/ . Currently, you can view the very apartment building where Misty calls home! And if you look REALLY carefully, you just might see her Dorito-chomping landlord Lenny lurking about.

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