A self-described ‘mad, blind, heavy metal loving chick’, Kiwi writer Steff Green Steff Metal is a USA Today best-selling author of 12 novels, several short stories and poems and a handful of creative guides. Steff was born with the rare genetic condition achromatopsia which has resulted in colour blindness, extreme sensitivity to light and extreme short-sightedness. A passionate advocate for independent musicians, authors and artists - Steff is regularly called on as an expert on the topics of metal and goth subculture, creativity, writing, self-publishing and living with a disability.
We caught up with Steff to ask her about being nominated for the 2016 Attitude Awards, her amazing novels, what her favoutie reads are, and if she thinks reading has the power to change lives.
The Attitude Awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with disability and chronic health.
Congratulations on being nominated as finalist for Artistic Achievement in the 2016 Attitude Awards! How does it feel?
It feels pretty amazing. Being a writer, I'm used to hiding out in my little attic office. It's sometimes easy to forget the rest of the world is there. I write a book, release it, then start writing the next one. Getting the Attitude Award nomination made me put my head up and realise that some people out there could see all the work I was doing, and that my books were having an impact. To a writer there's no better feeling in the world.
Plus, there's a fancy dinner. I get to wear a pretty dress and eat lots of delicious food. Apart from writing and my husband and my cats, those are my favourite things.
You write under a few different pen names – can you tell us about the sorts of books you publish under each?
Sure! I write dark urban fantasy / science fiction under S C Green. I love to use alternate worlds to throw a wonky mirror up at the human condition. My first series, The Engine Ward books, are about an alternate history Georgian London where dinosaurs still survive. They're all about the battle of the natural world against encroaching technology, and about friendships corrupted by power. I'm currently working on a new series about a woman with a very unusual power, who is trapped inside a decaying city that's been infested with eerie, soul-sucking ghosts. The first book, Petrified City, came out in September, and I'm just working on the sequel now.
I write paranormal romance under Steffanie Holmes. Romance is really fun to write. I love writing female characters who are in the midst of dealing with very real, very visceral problems. My heroes aren't there to solve their problems for them, but to give them the strength they need to figure out the answers for themselves. My latest romance novel, Digging the Wolf, is a shapeshifter story set on an archaeological dig. Both hero and heroine are mourning people who were close to them, and the whole book is about them learning to love again.
What literary character is most like you, and why?
One of my favourite authors is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I even have a Sherlock Holmes tattoo). I'm quite a bit like Dr. Watson, I think. On the outside, I'm quite sensible, but I really love to have adventures and walk into danger and solve puzzles, and I tend to befriend oddly intense people with fierce intellects and strange hobbies.
If we came to your home and looked at your bookshelf, what would we find?
A HUGE mixture of strange and interesting things. I read a lot of gothic literature, from the Bronte sisters to Dorothy Eden. I've recently started to get into hard science fiction – Asimov, Heinlein, all the greats. I love really gritty historical books, literary tomes with pondering, unlikeable leads, anything with an unreliable narrator, and really fun romances or mysteries with quirky characters and settings. We've got nearly every Discworld book, about ten copies of The Lord of the Rings in various states of disarray, and a massive collection of non-fiction books about archaeology, history, science, and art.
The New Zealand Book Council believes reading changes lives – do you agree?
Absolutely! For me, growing up, books were always my escape. In books I could be anyone, do anything. It didn't matter that I was blind, or weird, or any of those things. I loved reading about characters overcoming their issues and becoming stronger. Books got me through a lot of hard times. Now, I'm the person who creates those stories for other people, and that is an incredible feeling.