A Sit Down with Stephen H. Provost

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His next work, tentatively scheduled for release in 2016, will examine the history of U.S. Highway 99 in California.

In addition, the author has published several books under the name Stifyn Emrys, beginning in 2012 with “The Gospel of the Phoenix” and also including the nonfiction works “The Way of the Phoenix” and “Undefeated.” He has published three works of fiction: “Feathercap” (children’s); “Identity Break,” (young adult science fiction/adventure) and an accompanying novella, “Artifice.”

The author served as editor of four young adult novels: the “Mad World” series by Samaire Provost – “EPIDEMIC,” “SANCTUARY” and “DESPERATION” – and the award-winning “Lorehnin: A Novel of the Otherworld,” Volume 6 in the Otherworld series by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson. He has worked in journalism as a news editor, sports editor and reporter for four daily newspapers in California, and is currently managing editor for an award-winning weekly, The Cambrian. He has worked as an educator and has been featured at occasional speaking engagements.

He lives on the California coast with his wife, stepson, cat and dog.

Stephen H. Provost

Author – Editor – Photographer

All titles available on Amazon

“Fresno Growing Up” available online and in stores now from Craven Street Books

Q & A with Stephen H. Provost

  1. Tell us about this book.  Is there a central message? How will it add value to a reader’s life?

(SP) The central message is that you really can go home again. I started researching this period of Fresno’s history because it was the time I grew up: the Baby Boom era. Fresno has changed a lot since then, and I wanted to recapture the feeling of what it was like to grow up in the city during the era of Al Radka, the Fulton Mall, Lesterburger and The Big 13 KYNO. There were so many iconic people, places and institutions that folks from my generation remember fondly, but which just aren’t there anymore. I wanted to bring them back for a curtain call. I wanted two reactions from my readers, “Wow, I remember that!” and “Gee, I never knew that!”

  1. If you could compare this book with any book out there we might already be familiar with, which book would it be and why?

(SP) Part of the reason I wrote the book was that I wanted it to fill a void: To my knowledge, no writer had focused specifically on this specific period in Fresno’s history before. Some material in Catherine Rehart’s Legends and Legaciesseries dealt with aspects of it, but that series was broader in scope. We’ve seen an increase in Americana-themed nostalgia material on the market, specifically dealing with things like highways, railroads, neon signs, roadside stops and so forth. (My own follow-up to Fresno Growing Up focuses on the history of Highway 99 in California.) Many of these are book-length photo essays. I wanted to produce books that were more equally balanced between text and photos.

  1. Tell us about the central characters in the book. Are they pure fiction or did you draw from people you know?

(SP) They’re historical figures. Among them are TV personalities Al Radka (Channel 30 Funtime, Oberti Olives commercials), Jimmy Weldon (Webster Webfoot children’s show), Dick Carr (Dialing for Dollars), Dean and Don (KKDJ’sBreakfast Club) Roger Rocka (news anchor and theater owner), members of Fresno State’s NIT championship basketball team and the Fresno Rockets national champion softball team. … That’s just for starters. They’re local heroes whose names are emblazoned on the memories of people from my generation who grew up in Fresno.

  1. Tell us your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

(SP) I’ve been gratified by the response to Fresno Growing Up during my media and book-signing tour. I’ve met many people who have told me it brought back memories from their childhood, youth and early adulthood, and they’ve shared some memories with me that I wish I would have known about before I started writing! Nearly everyone I’ve talked with seems to have received the work exactly as I intended it: as a way to revisit those years and enjoy them all over again.

  1. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

(SP) Thirty-year detour: How I finally got around to being an author.

  1. How would you describe your writing style?

(SP) Conversational. When I’m writing historical nonfiction, I’m aware that people will fall asleep if they read something that sounds like a textbook. I’m a storyteller, not a teacher trying to get them to remember names and dates for a final exam. I want them to feel that I’m taking them on a journey and that I’m going right along with them – because, in a sense, I am. My historical books are as much fun to write as they are to read, because my research is like a voyage of discovery. I’m just inviting readers along for the ride.

  1. Who influenced your writing the most?

(SP) That’s difficult to say, although I’m sure that my career as a journalist has informed both my style and approach. I’m more prolific than some authors (I’ve written eight other works of varying lengths since 2012 under the name Stifyn Emrys) because I’m used to writing on deadline. I also tend to write in short, direct sentences, in part because of my journalism training.

  1. Are you more of a character artist or a plot-driven writer?

(SP) That’s a difficult question. In writing fiction, I always start with the plot, because I want to have a story in mind that will capture the reader’s attention. But the characters take over from there. It’s essential to me that the reader can relate to them, and if I don’t find them interesting as people working to meet difficult challenges, I won’t be as motivated to write about them.

  1. Other than selling your book, what do you hope to accomplish with it?

(SP) I want to reawaken people’s interest in history as a vital force that informs us in the present and, even now, helps to shape our future. In an era of tweets, texts and instant gratification, I want readers to sit back and remember where they came from. I’d like all of us to ask, far more often than we do, “Where did we come from?” and “How did we get here?” I believe the old saying that those who forget the past are destined to repeat it. I wrote a book (as Stifyn Emrys) calledUndefeated to showcase the heroism of those from a variety of backgrounds who have overcome bigotry over the years. That kind of history can be painful to relive. But sometimes, it’s fun to revisit where we’ve been. I wanted Fresno Growing Up  to emphasize how much fun it was being part of Fresno’s history during that era. I wanted a book that wasn’t just about politicians, scandals, war and crime. I wanted a book about the joy of being young during a time when the city itself was coming of age.

  1. Who should buy this book? Whom did you write it for?

(SP) Foremost, obviously, people who grew up in Fresno during this era. But I’ve also been pleased that some have seen it as a snapshot of American life in a medium-sized city during the period. One reviewer wrote: “If you grew up in the U.S. in the latter half of the 20thcentury, this is your story. Perhaps you’ve never been to Fresno or had a burger at the Mars Drive-In, but you’ve eaten and hung out at drive-ins exactly like it.” I wrote it for anyone who loves or is curious about history from this period.

  1. Where can readers find you and your book?

(SP) You can get it at many Fresno-area booksellers, including A Book Barn in Clovis, Petunia’s Place in northwest Fresno, All Things Fresno downtown, Hart’s Haven in the Tower District, Barnes & Noble-River Park and area Costcos. On the Central Coast, you can visitCoalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay and Barnes & Noble in San Luis Obispo. You can also order online directly from the publisher atquilldriverbooks.com, as well as from amazon.com andwww.barnesandnoble.com.

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About L Lee Kane

An author of seven published books that can be viewed on my website www.lindaleekane.com. I have an adult book, Murder on the Vine, The Black Madonna and A Very Special Clyde children's book for release in 2017.
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