About Author
Keith Steinbaum
Keith Steinbaum
  • Writing:

    Crime Fiction Thrillers Suspense Mysteries Supernatural Suspense
  • Country: United States
  • Books: 2
  • Profession: Landscape Industry & Author
  • Born: 12 June
  • Member Since: Aug 2018
  • Profile Views: 2,285
  • Followers: 21
  • Visit author: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon,
BIOGRAPHY

Many of us are driven to write through experiences born from pain, generating a need to uniquely express our own inner turmoil. Light-hearted inspiration is certainly an enviable reason to tap into one’s creative juices, but those feelings don’t stimulate the kinds of thoughts that lodge within me and grow in complexity. I can pinpoint a tragic, life-changing event occurring in my mid-teens that transformed me into a writer, and it seems that the weightier side of life continues to be my motivation.

Keith Steinbaum Books

Book
(1) $3.99kindleeBook, Paperback, Signed Paperback,
You Say Goodbyeby Keith SteinbaumPublish: Feb 23, 2019Crime Fiction Suspense Mysteries
The Poe Consequence
Audio,
The Poe Consequenceby Keith SteinbaumCrime Fiction Thrillers Supernatural Suspense

Keith Steinbaum interview On 31, Oct 2019

"Keith Steinbaum lives in Los Angeles. As a professional lyricist in the 1980's he had several songs recorded but was unable to sustain a career, so he turned to the landscape industry while raising a family with his wife, Danielle. Keith has written two adult fiction novels, You Say Goodbye and The Poe Consequence. As a kid he learned to play tennis, taught lessons for awhile, and still plays twice a week. Other recreational activities he enjoys are playing the piano, going to restaurants with family or friends, and traveling with his wife whenever his income and time allow."
Tell us a little more about yourself. Where did you grow up and when you were first bitten by the writing bug?

Admittedly, my story as a child growing up isn’t one that would bring any kind of compassion when contrasted to challenging childhood situations we’ve read about from other people. I had no dysfunctional family interactions or financial struggles to provide food and clothes for my two sisters and brother. My father worked his butt off to provide for us, and as his son, I was the beneficiary of his long hours and high intelligence as a businessman. From a Russian immigrant grandfather who came through Ellis Island with twelve dollars in his pocket and no knowledge of English, my father eventually started working for him after graduating college. By the time I was two-years-old, my family was able to move into a very nice home in a neighborhood that was safe and a school district that afforded me a good education. As for when I was bitten by the writing bug, I’ll answer and expound on that in question #2.

What inspired you to start writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

When you ask about what inspired me to start writing, perhaps you’re referring to novel writing, but as a creative writer it didn’t start with that thought at all. Something happened in my sophomore year in high school that was of such a tragic nature I needed an emotional release strong enough to help me. That’s when I started writing poetry – my first foray into creative writing of any kind. After several years of poetry, while in college my creative writing transformed into writing song lyrics. I’d take songs by artists I liked and write my own words to their melodies. After graduating, I tried hard to be a successful song lyricist, and although I had songs cut, mostly overseas, I realized about ten years later that it just wasn’t going to happen for me as a career. Fast forward to about twenty-years later after working in the landscape industry from the time I stopped writing lyrics, I eventually got the desire to write a novel due to an internal unhappiness with my life that I didn’t recognize until I started writing what turned out to be my first novel, The Poe Consequence. That story was inspired by the many Section 8 low- income housing projects I worked at that had their share of neighborhood gang problems and my fictional novel is directly related to that.

How do you use your imaginative thinking and creative flair to bring your stories to life in engaging and entertaining ways?

For me, it’s a movie in my mind approach. And as the inventor of every character and environment in which they’re placed, I use my mind’s eye to visually let the scenes play out. The same methodology also applies for dialogue. I’ve found that this is a good way to keep things realistic based on how I believed things would be portrayed in those situations. This also leaves the door wide open for possible changes in those scenes because as writers of fiction it would be counterproductive to limit yourself to an initial idea when real life offers more than one possibility for a particular setting. It’s analogous to what directors of movies do, making changes in action or dialogue once the first ‘take’ is viewed and a realization that it could be better ensues.

What makes a book ‘Publish worthy’?

By ‘publish worthy’ I’ll go on the assumption that you mean a book that’s offered a contract by a publisher rather than self-published. Book publishers are businesses, and like any business that’s successful, your product needs to be something that is desirable to the public you’re targeting. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always mean that a published book will be one of high literary standards, but we as readers are individually objective so what’s well written to me might not be to you. I was a professional song lyricist for over ten years and I can compare this idea to the music business. How many times have I heard a song that I thought was at best, fair, and at worst, pure garbage? Yet there it is playing on the radio, meaning that the artist got a deal. But, of course, there are books, like there are songs, which are real turn-ons and make me aspire to produce such great work. So while ‘publish worthy’ is an open-ended concept, my ideal for what that means as it pertains to books is something that is well written, engaging, and a page-turner that stays in your mind not only while you’re reading it, but after you finish it as well.

How do you think your books have helped young readers spark their imagination?

Both of my novels are adult fiction and therefore not intended for young readers. But that said, it’s probable that the most important authors of all are those that do ‘spark the imagination’ of young readers by gearing their stories to that age group. In this time we live in with smart phones, video games, and all the other audio and visual distractions dominating the attention of young people, those highly valuable imaginations are being held back in my opinion. As a young child, from books such as The Phantom Tollbooth to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to my later teen years reading classics such as Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy and Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, certain literary experiences affected me in a positive way and this I hope will happen for many young people.

Have you ever been a part of any book clubs? How do you facilitate a book club discussion?

I’ve never been in a book club but have had the pleasure of speaking to three of them about my first book, The Poe Consequence. As the author, what better audience could there be than to have discussions about my book with passionate readers who read my story and came with questions and follow-up comments not only about the book itself but the real life social aspects of ideas that were presented through my fictional characters and events. I live in Los Angeles, so I’ve tried to contact book clubs in the city through the MeetUp App but due to understandable security reasons, I was eventually shut down and shut out from getting through to anybody even though my intentions were obviously innocent. Of course I had potential sales in mind, but I was simply attempting to see if there’d be any interest in a club reading my book and meeting with the author for a Q & A. On the chance that anyone reading this lives in L.A. and is part of a book club, I can be contacted at keith@keithsteinbaum.com. How’s that for a shameless plug?

How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book on yourself as you are writing the story?

Although I’ve only written two novels, I’m absolute in my conviction that emotions have been and always will be the gasoline that powers my engine for storyline ideas and inspiration. But for me, those emotions must be centered on the characters. I’ve constructed my two stories around people who I want to be memorable both good and bad, so if I’ve succeeded that will mean that the situations in which they’re placed will be alluring for the reader because they’ll either be cheering them on or rooting against them. Now we come to the heart of your question – the emotional impact that this has on me as the creator of all of this. As I mentioned in an earlier question, I write to the movie in my mind, and as we can be affected by movies we watch, whether we tear up or get angry, so, too, can this happen for the author. For people reading this, thinking that I’m somehow exaggerating the effect that a character of my own creation can affect me emotionally like this, it may not happen at the moment the words are written, but after you remove yourself from the pages and re-read it later, it can seem as if another person wrote that scene and the objectivity of an emotional response occurs more readily.

What sparked the idea for You Say Goodbye? How did you come up with the book title?

This is an easy one to answer, as it’s a true anecdote that comes from the heart. There’s a young girl with cancer in my story whose name is Kayleigh Michaels. Kayleigh was patterned after a story I came across in the obituary section of the Los Angeles Times about Alexandra Scott from the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation – a charity to raise money for childhood cancer awareness and treatment. She started selling lemonade at the age of four after being diagnosed with cancer, and by the time she died at the age of eight, Alex’s Lemonade stands were in all 50 states, in much of Canada, and parts of Europe. The story both fascinated and moved me to a point where I cut out her photo and taped it to my office wall. After a number of months, I started developing a character to play off of someone like her, so young and fighting for her life. And that’s how my protagonist, Sean Hightower, was born – a selfish, grumpy fifty-year-old ex-rock star who feels his best days are behind him and that life is a bitch (something he utters often). Eventually, after a couple of short story versions focusing on these two characters, I decided to write a murder mystery with these two highly dissimilar people playing prominent roles. Because the story involves a serial killer who leaves Beatles song titles behind as his ‘calling card,’ one of their many popular hits, Hello Goodbye, seemed to be the appropriate choice because of the line, ‘I say hello, and you say goodbye.’ That line, ‘you say goodbye’ was an a-ha moment in deciding what would be an intriguing title related to the story.

Who inspired the character of Sean Hightower?

I was a professional song lyricist many years ago, but I only use the word ‘professional’ because I did have songs recorded. However, I made very little money while receiving many rejections so the frustration and disappointment is something I’ll always remember. Sean Hightower isn’t based on my personal failed attempt at a songwriting career, but I did use that memory of my frustration and disappointment in developing a character that was on top of the world for a magical year before crashing down into the land of one-hit wonders. Never able to recover, he wound up a resentful and regretful man.

How difficult it is to write a book full of twists, turns, and unexpected suspense?

Writing a whodunit mystery was a big challenge that I didn’t know would work until I presented the completed story to an editor before attempting to get it published. It was during a phone conversation I had with her, when she told me that she was focused on a particular character as the one she believed was the killer, only to realize as she got to the last quarter of the book that he was now only one of several possibilities, that I knew I’d succeeded. You’d know how relieved and gratified I was if you saw my fist pump after she said that. I had to have an open mind as to different directions the story could go and I would have been doing myself a disservice by limiting it to a narrow street of only one or two options. Even I wasn’t sure at first who I wanted the killer to be, concentrating instead on developing the personalities of the characters that would and could make any of them suspects. So one of the biggest difficulties in writing this book was to not only make an interesting read that keeps the momentum going, but also working those characters into that storyline while simultaneously keeping them all relevant and dubious.

When you're not reading or writing a book, what are some other things that you love to do?

I learned to play tennis as a kid and still play singles twice a week. I like to play songs on the piano and now I’m up to about twelve or thirteen that I’ve learned with hopefully more to go. Travelling with my wife is something that I hope to do for a lot more years. I went to a lot of rock concerts in the past and still attend an occasional one, but now my taste for live shows has moved toward jazz. Listening to a group of expert musicians each working off of each other to bring it all together puts me in a great frame of mind every time. Going to restaurants with family or friends for good food and drinks will always be something that brings me joy as well.

What is the one advice you would like to give to young writers in the world?

Please allow me to give two, not one, for any young writers of creative fiction.
a) It’s a long and often lonely period of time working on a book, so your commitment to the task will be tested and re-tested. But if you have a passion driven by your heart and thoughts, you’ll make it.
b) Writing is an empowering way to keep those inner demons at bay.

What does your family think of your books?

They’re very complimentary, encouraging and have seen what it’s done for my self-esteem. It’s certainly nice to receive their kudos for my work, but let’s face it, most family members aren’t going to be objective critics. But I’ve been fortunate to receive a number of acknowledgements for both of my novels from online sites and book bloggers, so perhaps that outside recognition gives them a heartfelt reason to encourage me to continue.

Tell us something about the book that you are currently working on. How are the characters in this book different from your other characters?

I’m not currently working on anything new as I still seek something to inspire me. However, The Poe Consequence, originally self-published and written before You Say Goodbye, was signed to a contract with Black Opal Books and will be re-released in March of 2020. The two books are quite different from each other. You Say Goodbye is a Beatles themed whodunit murder mystery featuring a little white girl and a white fifty-year-old man as the two main characters. The Poe Consequence is a modern day supernatural thriller with six main characters, three of whom are white, and three who are Latino. Here’s the premise of the story:

After the death of an innocent bystander in a drive-by shooting, the two rival Latino street gangs responsible for his murder soon face an Edgar Allan Poe inspired vow of revenge from beyond the grave.

How long have you been associated with AllAuthor? How has your experience been?

AllAuthor is a new addition to my writing career and I’m very pleased with their professionalism. They keep me updated on promotions, continue to provide mock banners for my book, follow through on the daily Twitter announcements from the deal that was offered, (and which has been better than expected), and even gave me this forum to answer questions that aren’t just throw-away formulaic ones but questions that, to me, are asked from thoughtful and experienced literary viewpoints.

Ask Keith Steinbaum a question

      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • Authors shouldn't have this mindset. I guarantee you it's a lot more difficult to write about a war scene for an author who's never even put on a uniform, let alone been on a battlefield, yet look at the many war stories that have been written by authors who didn't. Same goes for stories from the perspective of astronauts when the reality is that perhaps 100% of those books about space travel were written by those who never donned a space suit. I didn't grow up in a world comprised of only men, and even though there are differences between how men and women react or think in certain instances, there are also many things we share in common about human behavior in various situations. Not all women are alike, and neither are all men, so we as authors do the best we can to find that connection with the opposite sex as it pertains to our stories.
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    • AllAuthor AllAuthor 4 months ago
      Allauthor
    • If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • Because your question didn't specify if the three people need to be currently alive, I'll choose three that are all deceased. Assuming they'd somehow all speak English so that we could understand each other, I'll invite Jesus, Buddah, and Mohammed. Why? Because I'd like to see if I could gain insight as to why these are the three most influential figures in the history of mankind. And, in addition, this would give me a chance to see if they like my cooking...
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    • AllAuthor AllAuthor 4 months ago
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    • How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • These are tremendously helpful inventions and here are four reasons that come to mind: Firstly, they make book buying affordable to so many more people. Secondly, they allow the chance to read a sample first before purchase, and then if the reader wants to invest in the whole book it's downloaded within a few seconds. Thirdly, the font can be enlarged for those who can't easily read the smaller print offered in regular books. Lastly, the interior book lights allow for night reading without preventing your significant other next to you in bed from an ability to fall asleep. (book lights that attach to real books are too bright when the lights are off). One negative, and this is a big one for me, is that it's hurting the brick and mortar bookstores who sell soft and hard cover books. I'm old school and truly appreciate the sensibility that a book store offers the soul.
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • Being a sixty-five year-old man I'm either qualified to answer this by observing from more life experience than most in terms of age, or not qualified because I'm observing from the outside for the majority of today's generation. That said, with the seeming growing addiction to cell phones, internet streaming, and video games, something has to give for people's free time and literary art is certainly one of the victims. I do believe that attention spans have been made shorter in duration through our technological dependencies on speed so reading a book is probably something that less people are inclined to do than in the past. As an author, and as someone who values what books offer people, this of saddens me a lot.
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • Because I've only written two books I admit that novelists who have at least several on their resume might offer more insight into the reason for their selection. But I chose this question to answer because I'll be getting that opportunity with my publishing company, Black Opal Books. Despite the fact that my first novel, The Poe Consequence, was originally self-published, they agreed to read it as a possible acquisition as long as I owned 100% of the rights. It turns out that they did, indeed, offer me a contract and the book will be re-released through them in March of 2020. I've already thought about certain parts that I'll want to tweak, or even a scene that I plan on removing, so your question will fortunately become a reality for me in the near future.
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • When I graduated college my goal was to become a professional song lyricist and I worked very hard trying to achieve that dream. So, yes, I did see writing as a full time career but not as an author. I had some songs on albums and even a couple in a forgettable movie but that dream eventually died when the reality hit me that it just wasn't going to happen.
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    • AllAuthor AllAuthor 4 months ago
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    • Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • Yes! For example, in my first novel, The Poe Consequence, there are two L.A. street gangs that play a prominent role in the story. For many years I worked as a landscape professional in Section 8 housing areas and other gang neighborhoods (only during the day, of course). I took a lot of what I saw and heard about and incorporated that into my story. Another example is in my second book, You Say Goodbye, which found its original inspiration for a main character after I read the L.A. Times obituary article about a young girl who died of cancer at the age of eight. That young girl's name was Alexandra Scott who started selling lemonade in her front yard at the age of four to raise money for childhood cancer. That front yard effort was the starting point for the Alex's Lemonade Foundation which is now an international movement. I have a main character in my book patterned after Alexandra.
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • The importance of these two facets can't be overestimated, especially a cover. There's just too much competition for attention when someone is scrolling book sites for something to read, or browsing through a bookstore, so the immediate appeal of the visual is a must to even have a potential reader give your book a chance. And a good title is also an attention grabber to add to the intrigue and/or curiosity. Bottom line here is that the two things together are synergistic, each enhancing the other.
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    • AllAuthor AllAuthor 4 months ago
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    • Have you ever experienced "Writer's Block"? Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • First of all, this is quite common and the creative process sometimes needs recharging, so I accept the need to be patient with myself. If it's not there it's not there, so step away and do something else for awhile. But it's important to remember that fictional writing allows us to journey into our own minds away from our current realities, so I remind myself each time I write to appreciate the world I'm entering and developing that is all mine. This mind-set limits writer's block for me.
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      • Keith Steinbaum Keith Steinbaum 4 months ago
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      • Yes, I do read my reviews both good and bad. In terms of the bad ones, I'm happy about the fact that those are in the minority. But they do sting, of course. The ones that frustrate me are the comments that seemingly make it seem as if the reviewer didn't read most of the story, leaving out key scenes or character relationships that are imperative for an honest review of the complete book. But ones that offer constructive criticism that back up their points are taken as learning experiences despite the hurt that can ensue. However, because most of my reviews of the two books I've written have been good to great ones, of which I'm very grateful, that's what gives me the self-esteem through validation of my writing and fuels my confidence that I'm not fooling myself about what I can bring to the table as an author.
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