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A Chat with Author Steven Van Patten, a Trailblazing Creator!

Updated: Nov 1, 2022


You look at science fiction and horror, all the time; you just don’t think it would be coming from someone that looks like us.”


Award-winning author Steven Van Patten, “SVP” as he likes to be called is a trailblazing creator. He has been captivating readers with his socially conscious characters from his books like “Brookswater’s Curse” and “Killer Genius.”


He continues to tap into his reader’s imaginations with books, screen adaptations, short stories, and a thought-provoking podcast.


I had the opportunity to sit down with SVP in an interview to talk about how his love for horror began and where the creative process has led him.


SVP, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today?


Well, the shortest version I can muster is that horror and science fiction was my escape as a little kid. But as I got to my teen years and my twenties, I began to realize how trite the portrayals of people of color were in some of my otherwise favorite films. I decided to write stuff where Black people were given real backstories and character development and not just one-dimensional minstrels. Three vampire novels, two serial killer novels, two anthology team-ups, and several short stories deposited into other people’s anthologies along with some awards and great reviews later, here I am. As a latchkey kid, it was a way to keep my mind off stuff.


How did your environment growing up in Brooklyn mold your love for writing horror?


My mother, thankfully, was never one of those parents who judged me for my interests. If I wanted to read Anne Rice or Stephen King, it was fine. She would probably be upset to find out I played hooky to see the first Friday the 13th. Now the only horror she deals with is the stuff I write. My English teachers relieved someone was writing anything, were also into it. So even if it was just two or three cheerleaders, it was enough to keep me going.


How is it that you have been able to maintain a flow in an industry that does not always pull in horror-related projects especially if it is related to African Americans? Tell me a little more about the New York Chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association how did joining help you, what do they do for writers?


I think my joining the New York Chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association and surrounding myself with like-minded folks from all walks of life has been the biggest help. Producing and publishing work with other well-known writers. Readers get to discover your work and associating with other professionals helps the growth of the brand. I only wish I had known they existed before I released things.


How do you relate to some of the older movies and books of the horror genre?


If there was ever a way to mix fright with nostalgia, that is me watching ‘Exorcist.’ Of course, that same kind of nostalgia hits me whenever I watch any of the old Universal monster movies with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr. Same holds for the movies of Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee. Lee in particular, because of his ability to carry a two-hour Dracula movie and be frightening as hell while in some cases barely saying five words.


Then, of course, came my spirit animal, William Marshall, the Black Shakespearean-trained actor who starred in Blacula and Scream, Blacula, Scream! I own the DVDs but still stop whatever I am doing if they are on. While these movies do not hold up to the current moviegoer’s eyes of 2022, they remain an inspiration.


With all the reboots we only hope they do not mess it up. With streaming, there is a lot of unoccupied space and a lot of new territories for people to explore. I grew up in an era where there were not many Black people in movies, now we are getting away from that and it is a good thing.


As an author, stage director, and former professor, in this culture, content has been an enormous key from many angles. What would be your advice to an up-and-coming author and or content creator?


I think whenever a creative embarks on the journey to manifest if they can remain true to themselves, they will, unless it suddenly starts raining money, will get to the point where it will feel stupid to stop AND it will feel stupid to continue. My advice is to push past those feelings of doubt. My advice is to continue. One small caveat! As you push, you must also be open to criticism. There is always the possibility that you are doing something wrong.


Your books for example ‘Brookwater’s Curse ‘create such an amazing journey into the imagination, do you plan to bring this work or any of your work to the screen or streaming?


First, thanks for that. I have been back and forth with a few people, and I am hoping one day to get something off the ground. But I actually have a lot of content. It is altogether possible that one of my smaller projects will hit daylight first.


With all the different avenues that have fueled your career thus far, what inspired you to start the “Beef, Wine and Shenanigans” podcast? And how do you feel your outlook was different in regard to starting the podcast?


Well, Beef, Wine & Shenanigans started with fellow Black horror writer, Marc Abbott, sword, and sorcery mavin, Kirk Johnson, and figuring that no one was really addressing horror or sci-fi from the lens of the middle-aged Black man. Then, Trump got elected and the ridicule of conservative and blatantly racist politicians was on the menu if only for therapeutic reasons. And then covid hit and we had to run to zoom. We picked up Denise Tapscott along the way and while we all write very disturbing stuff, we manage to be damn funny sometimes.


Will you continue to focus on politics, or will you mix it up?


We will continue to stay true to ourselves, we are going to ridicule when someone acts up and then review a Marvel movie. We will jump back and forth between topics. I do not feel the need to commit to one thing.


In giving with the time of the year “Halloween season” have you created any customs that you carry out this time of year?


There are certain movies that I will make a point of watching. When October comes all eyes are on me and people like me. It is an overall mood, but it is also about the work and the recognition of what we are doing. SVP, one of the main focuses is to get more African American readers to gravitate and read more horror. Most people are not aware that this genre is among the top genres for reading. “I was asked once why I would go into this when it’s not really a successful genre?” I responded by saying how science and horror are, not successful genres. You watch horror and science fiction all the time; you just do not think it would be coming from someone that looks like us.”


For more information on SVP, you can visit him on social media.


Twitter @SVPThinks

LinkedIn Steve Van Patten



ABOUT THE WRITER


Lydia Bailey’s (also known as ‘Lydz’) love for writing began when she was about 9 years old writing, she started writing, wanting to transfer her thoughts into words and express herself openly. Her first experience was writing love notes and cards for classmates that they gave as gifts. 


For many years she collected her work by drafting poems, short stories, scripts, journals, notebooks, word documents, phone notes, or whatever she could write.



“Whenever I am inspired, it could be on the train, sitting in a waiting room, or just walking down the street, I write in order to capture that moment.”


She began sharing her work when a fellow poet encouraged her to read one of her poems at an event.


After starting her own business in consultation for new businesses and artist development, she found herself reviewing and writing content for newsletters, articles, magazines, creating scripts, synopsis, webpages, social media, and other projects.


She is the co-creator of ‘Poetry in 3D Motion’ with Patricia Ralph and Dawn Nedd, a platform created to host and showcase poets and spoken word artists. Specifically, for those that may not always have the opportunity to share their work in a comfortable space.


With several of her published poems and spoken word pieces, she is constantly working on new material to share.


Lydia has always known that she wanted to be at the writer’s table in the most creative way possible and embarked on a journey to do just that.


“The joy I feel when writing is one of the most exhilarating and therapeutic moments of my

day”.  If my work can connect with people to bring them joy, then that makes it even more

heartwarming.”


Follow Her on IG @3bsentertainment






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