October 31, 2008

Being a Male Writer: Author Steven Payette

The Author

Steven Payette has worked in the insurance industry for thirteen years. An Honours graduate of Algonquin College's Business Insurance program, Mr. Payette went on to win two insurance related awards. While this is the first novel he has written for publication, he has always had stories rattling around in his head waiting to be unleashed. He was born, raised and currently resides in Ontario, Canada.

There are several places where you can visit Steven:

The Book

Trevor Samuels, an investigator with fifteen years experience, is commissioned to investigate three arson losses. After numerous leads fail to generate any suspects, he suddenly gets a break in the form of fifteen-year-old Goth boy named Jesse. Jesse is heavily involved in the contraband cigarette market and he exposes Trevor to this seedy underworld. While trying to determine if the arson's are related to the contraband cigarette market, Trevor uncovers greed, murder and corruption among the people he respects most. Join Trevor as he investigates the most difficult case of his career, a case that will either make his career or haunt him for the remainder of his life.

Click the cover above to order THE BACK OF MY MIND today!

The Excerpt


This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

THE BACK OF MY MIND. Copyright 2008 by Steven Payette.
All rights reserved. Printed in The United States of America.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any print or electronic form without the express written permission of the author.


She glanced at her watch nervously; it was four in the morning. Her companion told her to calm down, it would all be over with shortly. Just like the last job, in and out in a matter of minutes. She couldn’t help it. She was so afraid of getting busted and their plan falling to ruin. They were crouched in a shallow ditch across the street from the target property, waiting and watching for any sign of life. Finally he said “Now” and they began to crawl out of the ditch. The only sound to be heard in the early morning of the crisp Spring day was their own labored breathing as they stayed bent over, close to the ground. They bolted across the country road and onto the property with their gas cans in hand, always looking back toward the road to ensure nothing was coming. They had watched the family leave earlier the night before and were confident no one was at home, but it always paid to be damn sure of that, and they had learned that the hard way.

They made their way behind the house and stopped to listen, to make sure they were alone. A slight breeze blew across the vast property from east to west.

“Did you hear something?” he asked in a quiet voice.

“No, did you?” she replied in an equally quiet voice.


They continued on their journey until they came across the oil tank at the other rear corner of the dwelling. He took a penlight out of his coat pocket and shined it in the tank’s direction. Good, he thought. It’s pretty rusted; the flames should penetrate it quickly.

“Let’s go,” he whispered.

Silently, they both unfastened the tops on their respective gas cans and began pouring the contents on and underneath the oil tank.

She ran dry and fastened the top back onto her ancient metal can.

“That should be enough,” he mumbled as he put his can on the ground between them and began fishing around in his other coat pocket. He pulled out a matchbook and said, “Get ready.” She just nodded. He lit one match and held it up to the other matches. They all caught at the same time and lit up like a party sparkler. He quickly dropped the matchbook at the base of the oil tank and grabbed his gas can. Fuel started splashing all over the ground behind him as they ran back to the other corner of the house. He had forgotten to refasten the cap on his can. A few seconds later, a horrific explosion rocked the ground like a major earthquake.

The tank must have been full, he thought, as they ran away from the front of the house and back toward the road.

Suddenly, all he could see were flames as he screamed the most tormented, blood-curdling scream of his life. She was ten feet ahead of him and also screaming as the fire engulfed him, sending him to the ground in a heap of flames and burning flesh. She didn’t know how she did it, but she managed to resume running, faster than she had ever run in her life.

“There was nothing I could do to save him” was the only thought going through her mind as she continued running into the darkness. She never looked back.

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a male writer?

What themes and topics does my writerly mind force upon me? Hmmm, I must admit, I have never thought about it! When it comes to themes, that's a natural for me. Having worked in the insurance industry for thirteen years, I remember thinking how rare it is to find a story regarding insurance. That's probably because it would put the reader to sleep, but I hope not.

I just finished writing the second novel in my Trevor Samuels mystery series, and my books focus on a freelance insurance investigator who deals with arson and fraud cases. In an attempt to keep the reader awake, I steered clear of technical jargon and used layman insurance terms, and not very many of them. I wanted to portray an unorthodox investigator, but not get bogged down with insurance lingo. Hopefully I've pulled that off! I also wanted a plot that was unique, rather than ending up with cookie cutter plots that have already been written by countless other authors.

In my first tome, I had an arson investigation lead to the contrband cigarette market, which is a topic I haven't seen in print, or any other kind of media. Except, of course, when someone gets busted for trafficking the hot butts. Despite the underground cigarette market raking in millions of dollars annually, the media front is relatively quiet, other than retailers complaining about plummeting tobacco sales. These days you need an edge, what with so many new books being released each and every year.

I thought a unique story was appropriate, but that's not all. I decided to include a reader participation secton at the end of each novel. I ask a question, and readers can register their vote on my website. The winning vote from the first novel will be written into the third, and the winning vote from the second novel will be written into the fourth volume in the series. As my first book was just released, I have only received one vote thus far, and it was from the owner of this blog page, my exceptional editor. At any rate, the feedback I have received about the reader participation section has been very favourable. Hopefully I've attained "The Edge" I was going for!

Full details regarding my websites, novels, etc. are noted on this blog post. Feel free to shoot me any questions you may have, and I'll do my best to answer them. Of particular interest to writers are my MySpace blogs as they outline numerous aspects of the literary world, including what to watch out for. Happy reading!

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