IndieView with Steven Arnett, author of The Summer of Robert Byron

After reading about different publishing options, I decided that the indie approach was best for me

Steven Arnett – 9 October 2017

The Back Flap

It’s fall 1966, and Robert Byron has returned to his home town of Blue Spring in Michigan after serving in Vietnam. Everyone there tries to welcome him home, but he’s unsocial and ends up alienating almost everyone. He pretty much keeps to himself through the winter, until the money he’d saved up in Vietnam runs outs, and he has to go back to work. He meets Jean Summers, a teacher at Blue Spring High School who’d just started her teaching career the previous fall herself, when Robert is hired by her landlord to do some work on the house she’s renting. They’re complete opposites in personality, but somehow, they’re attracted to each other anyway. The Summer of Robert Byron is their story: Of how Jean tries to redeem through love Robert’s alienation and the dark secret that he has brought home with him from the war. Can she succeed or is it too late to ever really bring him home again?

About the book

When did you start writing the book?

I wrote it about 30 years ago, set it aside, then picked it up again about a year ago and revised it extensively.

How long did it take you to write it?

About 3 years total.

Where did you get the idea from?

Just out of my head.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

The hardest parts were where I wasn’t quite sure where the story should go next or how I could stitch different parts of it together and had to do a lot of thinking before I could continue writing.

What came easily?

The easiest parts were where I had a clear idea of a part of the story and just needed to write it out.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

They are all fictitious.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

The writers that influenced me the most are the great American novelists from the generation that emerged after World War I: Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, for example. They influenced me because of the beauty and originality of their prose, their interesting and memorable characters, and the significance of their stories.

Do you have a target reader?

Only in the sense that I thought if I wrote an interesting story that was very well written—the kind of story that I like to read myself—that people like myself who love to read good stories would enjoy it.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I don’t have a formal process: Generally, I start with a basic story idea and description of major characters, make an informal outline of the story, then start writing a first draft. Along the way, I am likely to change the story and add and subtract characters many times!

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I use an outline, but an informal one, not extensive.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I edit some as I go along, but most of it I do after I finish the first draft.

Did you hire a professional editor?


Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

No. I prefer complete silence when I write.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?


What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

After reading about different publishing options, I decided that the indie approach was best for me, so I would call it a gradual process.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I had it professionally done.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

A little bit of both, but I did start with a basic list of marketing ideas for the book.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Yes! Do extensive research on the subject and heed the advice of experienced indie authors. One can start by joining Goodreads, but the number of sources for this advice is so extensive, I’d hesitate to try to list them all. A newbie author can use Web searches to learn a great deal about this subject.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in the Detroit area.

Where do you live now?

In Johns Creek, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta.

What would you like readers to know about you?

That I love to read and to write, and I hope you will give my novel The Summer of Robert Byron a try!

End of Interview:

For more from Steven, like his Facebook page.

Get your copy of The Summer of Robert Byron from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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