Although the former reporter was in Phuket for an ostensibly relaxing holiday earlier this month, he still made time to meet with me and talk about his two books Bella and Bootlicker.
He was also in Thailand to deliver a talk to the International Finance Corp (ICF) firm in Bangkok, as part of his work as a trainer, coach and inspirational speaker for the Washington-based Communication Center.
Much of the Communication Center’s work is spent designing customised training sessions and coaching programmes that enable companies and businesses to communicate in more effective ways and make best use of social media.
“It’s what I do now,” says Steve, “That, and write fiction.”
Both of which, considering his extensive and varied background, he is quite qualified to do.
“I was a reporter for 25 years in the States, mostly in Washington D.C. But I was writing for space – an editor would say I want 12 inches of text – no more. So I was missing out on writing all of these great stories. I was also a speech writer for federal agencies, so I know that world too.”
It was that world that was later to provide the inspiration for his two political thrillers: Bella and Bootlicker.
About 11 years ago, Steve completed a writing course and got more involved in writing fiction.
“I started thinking that I was a novellist in a reporter’s clothes, but even though I was a reporter for so long, I had to change the way I thought about writing. I had to think about protagonists, and scenarios and plots, whereas in stories that is usually all laid out for you.”
Steve did admit, however, that many stories and characters that he met during his time on the Washington beat provided inspiration.
“One was sort of based on an old racist senator in the South – who’s dead now – who kept on being re-elected and I never knew why. I used to ask political journalists why and they could never give me an answer.
“So I made an answer up and that became my first book, Bella. I found it very cathartic doing that. He passed away before it was printed. But many people in South Carolina knew him well and have hopefully read it,” says Steve.
Getting people to read books nowadays is the biggest challenge and one that is made all the harder when a title is self published.
“[On average], people’s free leisure time has never been lower. It [currently] stands at around 5 to 7 per cent of the day, and this is split up between radio, TV and the internet, so if you spend time reading a book nowadays, the writer needs to be good.”
If you can’t beat the modern-day technological distractions, then Steve believes in joining them.
“[Authors] have to do everything nowadays; Twitter, Facebook, write a blog and even Pintrest to effectively market your book.
Why Pinterest you say? Well 80 per cent of people who buy books are women.
Getting the actual book into people’s hands or even just making people aware of its existence is a full time job, explains Steve and one that doesn’t let up even when holidaying on a tropical island.
For more information on his books, visit stevepiacente.com