Stephen King writes romantic thrillers? Australian author Stephen B. King does! In his new release, Thirty Three Days, his heroine not only falls in love but has to save the world in the process.
This much published author from Down Under took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about writing for an American audience and sharing his name with a pretty famous guy.
What made you decide to write a romance?
This may sound like a cliche, but one of my characters in another book, called Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer, says “who knows where random thoughts of inspiration come from?” All of my books have as a central theme a love story, because I think it’s important. In the case of Thirty Three Days, the story came to me in a dream, a particularly vivd one – and generally speaking, I don’t remember dreams, not ones that make any sense anyway. So, I sat bolt upright around 5 a.m. one morning having had this amazing dream of a woman who goes back in time to save the world and falls in love for the only time in her life. But she can’t stay in the past.
From there, the plot outline grew quickly in my imagination, and I believed I had something rather special. Yes, a romantic thriller involving time travel is not my usual genre, but I am thrilled to bits to have written it, and I’m awfully proud of it.
Many readers have asked for a sequel,and I love Jenny’s character. She is by far my favorite creation. She is naive, possesses little self-esteem, yet she takes an enormous leap of faith to accept a mission to save every living thing on the planet.
Does your name (so similar to another famous writer) cause any problems, or does it help?
Good question. I don’t try to cash in on it, and when the comparison has been made I quickly point it out. The other SK is a writer I aspire to be like, in that his way of creating totally believable characters who you desperately want to invest in, is among the very best in the business. I always say if I could write one hundredth as well as him, I’d die a happy man.
I do remember receiving an email via Goodreads, and a five-star review from a man who said he bought one of my books because he thought I was my namesake, but he went on to say, it was one of the finest books he had ever read. High praise indeed, so in that instance it wasn’t a problem, it helped us both. He enjoyed the book, and I got a five star review.
You live in Australia and have a U.S. publisher; do you have to change any phrasing to appeal to a U.S. audience? Or are the two markets basically the same? Are your stories set in Australia?
I love this question. I have to ‘Americanise’ certain things, spelling, phrasing and such, but I don’t mind in the slightest. I am a writer; my job is to entertain and the readership is much larger in the U.S. I do my best, but my editor, the amazing Melanie Billings, is there to catch anything I miss. She is a delight to work with, and she works pretty hard with my completed drafts, though I’m sure my Aussie words and slang frustrate her no end – yet she never complains. She has told me she tells her friends she is editing for Stephen King, and they envy her.
My first publisher was a UK one, and they wanted me to re-set Forever Night from Perth, Western Australia to London and they assured me it would sell more copies if I did. Being fiercely patriotic, I resisted, for better or worse. All of my books are set in Australia. We have a unique culture, some amazingly beautiful locations, and some very colorful characters. I love America, but would never give up my Aussie heritage.
Blurb from Thirty Three Days:
Jenny is a lonely university lecturer who’s consciousness has traveled back in time to her younger body to try to save the future of the world. A young microbiologist is going to release a genetically modified wheat that will mutate and ultimately destroy all plant life, leaving nothing but barren windswept dust bowls.
In the past, Jenny finds a love that has been missing from her life; the kind that comes just once in a lifetime. But Jenny can only stay in that time-period for thirty-three days.
Meanwhile, in the future, fearful Jenny will fail, plans are made to send another back in time–an assassin. How can she choose between saving the man she loves or saving the future?
Jenny looked at Simon’s kindly but sun weathered face. “That’s so sad, they are going to die? Brad is going to make a discovery of such epic proportions and then die in a vehicle accident? Can’t I stop it when I go back, warn them somehow?”
“Jenny, any change we make in the past will affect what has already happened in the future, because, as we now know, time is a continuum. If you save someone’s life who otherwise would have died, who can say what will occur. One alteration now could cause fifty others down the line and have some sort of huge domino effect. Maybe they will be good changes, maybe they won’t. The whole reason for ASX, and us taking it, is to save humankind from the Yellow Spot Blight. Anything else? Well that’s up to you and your conscience in your allotted thirty-three days.”
“So, are you saying I shouldn’t save their lives?”
“I’m saying it will be your call when you are there. People will not, and cannot, judge you because whatever changes you make will become their new reality. No-one would know any differently. Just remember this though, Jenny.” He paused to gather his thoughts. “When your thirty-three days are up, the young you won’t remember what the older you did. It will be as if you’ve been asleep, and, as you know, your dreams disappear sometime after waking. Similarly, when you wake up, back in your future, within hours you won’t remember what happened in the past. If you are successful, you alone will have saved the future of every person, animal and plant on earth, but you won’t know it. So, you do whatever feels right to you in the past, and damn the consequences.”