Sunday, January 6, 2019

Q&A with Stephen Evans

Stephen Evans, photo by Avonlee Photography
Stephen Evans is the author of the new novel The Island of Always. His other books include A Transcendental Journey. Also a playwright, he lives in Maryland.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Island of Always, and for your characters Nick and Lena?

A: The book was written in two parts, the first published in 2008. For the first one, I had read an article in Best Friends magazine about animals in shelters, and I had Minneapolis and Lake of the Isles in my imagination. I just started to write and finished the first draft in about three weeks, in screenplay format. I continued to work on it off and on until 2007, when it was accepted for publication.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: For the first part, I did not know the ending; in fact, the ending changed completely. For the second part, I had an image of the ending in mind, but no clear idea how to get there.

Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: Titles are hard for me. But one usually emerges during the writing. This title comes from a children’s story that Nick tells about a magical island, and that became over time the central image of the book. As to what it signifies, I would prefer to leave that to the reader.

Q: As a playwright and novelist, do you have a similar writing process with both types of work?

A: I think so. Both my fiction and plays are dialogue-driven. Usually I start with a situation and characters, and various vague notions of this and that. That’s probably why I do so much rewriting, and why finishing anything takes so long. But if I tried to plan anything out all the way, I probably wouldn’t finish it.

The big difference for me is that with a play I get to hear the audience react (or more importantly, not). With a book, I can only imagine, and listen to what readers tell me later.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have two friends from high school who are also wonderful writers; each of us is writing a one-act play, with plans to stage them together in one evening of theater.

Q:  Anything else we should know?

A: The book can be ordered through your favorite local bookstore.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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