In the spring of 1941, young Jon Meyer’s family dies in a tragic accident, and he is sent to live in a small Indiana town. He arrives to find himself unwanted and shunned.
Mary Dahlgren is the mayor’s daughter. A pretty girl, she could have the pick of the boys in town, including Vernon King, the star of the vaunted high school basketball team. To the chagrin of her friends, though, Mary has always been more interested in books than boys. That is, until she meets Jon.
But Jon and Mary are kept apart by an insidious campaign orchestrated by Mary’s father, who perceives their relationship a threat to his political aspirations, and Vernon, to whom Jon is a rival for Mary’s affections. For months Jon is subjected to a painful ostracism. Then, just when the young man’s earnestness and perseverance begin to win over many of the townsfolk, and it appears that love may conquer all, tragedy strikes.
As the country is caught up in war, so too are the young lovers swept up in events beyond their control, leaving both fighting for their very lives. If, against the odds, they are to be together, each will need to find the strength, the courage and the resourcefulness that beat only in a defiant heart.
The son of a career air force officer, Marty Steere grew up on or near military installations across the country and overseas before settling in Southern California, where, when he’s not writing, he practices law. Sea of Crises is his first novel. His second, Defiant Heart, will be released on April 15, 2013.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what
would you say?
Defiant Heart is my most recent novel. 30 words, huh? No pressure there. Ok, here goes: On the outbreak of WWII, two young lovers are swept up in an adventure that will test their courage and resourcefulness as they seek to defy the odds and reunite.
What books have influenced your writing?
There are so many, it seems unfair to single out just one or two. But, you’ve asked, and I’ll give it a go. For my first novel, Sea of Crises, which is a thriller and an adventure, I have to acknowledge the influence of Alistair MacLean. He wrote a series of fabulous books in the ‘60s and ‘70s, including Ice Station Zebra, Guns of Navarone and my all-time favorite, Where Eagles Dare. MacLean was a great storyteller and I love losing myself in his worlds. For Defiant Heart, I’ll mention two very different books. The first is Anton Myrer’s Once an Eagle, featuring one of the most admirable characters I’ve ever encountered, “Sad Sam” Damon. In retrospect, I think I may have subconsciously modeled my protagonist, Jon, after him. The other is a classic I read in high school. A lot of people think “classic,” and conclude “boring.” That’s wrong, but I didn’t know it until I read Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. I loved it, and I’ve read it multiple times. I even paid it homage in Defiant Heart with some direct references. The two stories are clearly not the same, but there’s some not unintentional overlap.
Who designed the cover of your book?
The covers of both of my books have been designed by Ben Lizardi, a very talented artist and a friend of many years. The cover for Defiant Heart features an original illustration by Ed Lum, a local artist whom Ben recommended because he’s done a lot of work that evokes the 1940’s and 50’s. Ed and I spoke before he got started and discussed what I was looking for. I had a specific scene in mind. Ed took it and drew it in a way that I think captures the mood of the book perfectly!
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I do my writing in the evening and on weekends, always on my computer at home. (I have a pretty robust day job as an attorney!) Occasionally, though, I’ll have ideas pop into my head, and I’ll jot down random notes that I then shove into my pocket – usually little snippets of dialogue. I get a kick out of pulling them out sometimes and wondering what the heck I was thinking! But I’ve created a number of scenes using those notes, so I think I’ll keep it up.
Your thoughts on receiving book reviews – the good and the bad.
I’ve heard other writers say they ignore reviews. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll be that blasé. But now? No way. I read every review written about my books. I seek them out. To me, each represents not only a commitment to read what I’ve written – which is, at the end of the day, the whole reason I write – but the extra effort required to put down thoughts about it. How fabulous is that? I may not always agree with the conclusions of the reviewer (you know, especially when he or she doesn’t absolutely love every word!), but I respect the opinions and I try to take away something that will help in the future.
List 3 books you just recently read and would recommend?
I’m within 50 pages of finishing Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Well written, but very disturbing. Before that, I read Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn. Literally made me feel like I was in the middle of the Vietnam War. Awesome. Going back a little ways (but looking for something I would particularly recommend), I really enjoyed Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. It was classic escapism, pulling me out of my regular life, putting me in a place that was different and interesting, and making me want to know what happens next.
Where can your readers stalk you?
I don’t know that I’m particularly stalkable (or that anyone would want to), but my novel, Sea of Crises, was selected as the inaugural choice for the One City Reads One Book program in Signal Hill, California, and I’ll be speaking at the Signal Hill library on April 17. I love hearing from my readers and encourage anyone who wants to reach out to me to send me an email at [email protected].
My blog: Don’t have one. Yet.