Christine Steendam has the soul of an editor. I know this because when I got back the interview corrections, Christine chose to torment this writer with all the corrections visible and in tact. I think there was just a little bit of perverse pleasure in that whole exercise. Editors as you know, are evil by nature.
I met Christine while she was visiting Calgary in the midst of a mini tour. She had just come from the set of Heartland and had been gracious enough to give me a couple hours of her time. What follows is epic. I’m talking that one of a kind epic that is so legendary in its description that only an epic movie voice can truly match the sheer awesome that was this little car ride. So from here, until the interview begins, you have to read this article like you are the epic movie voice guy that does all the previews in the movies.
This epic story begins now!
Once Christine and I exchanged pleasantries at the Chapters, we sought out the nearest food place we could find to continue. She led me to her a car – a simple looking car. The kind soccer moms have been known to travel in for generations unto the past. Little did I realize I was about to endure the hellacious ride that awaited me as we boldly left the parking lot and headed towards that food court.
At first, there wasn’t any action to report. Once we got to the road we just waited. And waited. For just a minute I thought Christine was a passive driver, but NO. She like all the great storytellers was simply picking her moment to explode.
And she did.
She struck the peddle perfectly, suddenly going up to the epicly dangerous forty kilometers an hour we turned. That soccer mom style car transformed as we drove as the meter jumped up to sixty and eighty – even a hundred kilometers an hour. We were zooming and the hellbeast roared, awaken. Suddenly I wondered at the driver in front of me. She seemed so mild mannered, so patient about the road. Who was this daredevil in the car, swerving across lanes as if this was a race, stopping cars behind her dead in their tracks. I still swear as we turned off anderson road that Danger Zone from the top gun soundtrack blared out of nowhere. The beast that drove roared to the concrete jungles of Calgary Alberta.
I was trying to catch my breath when we pulled in. Christine pulled away from the mall and made us walk into the cold. I cursed the cold biting me as we moved forward. With her Winnipeg sensibilities, I could not protest. I looked at the beast that drove us and the driver that tamed it. Before we even began, Christine’s driving skills, her prowess and mastery of the road, won my respect.
What was I getting into as we agreed to talk about her books?
The interview is coming, right NOW
Joshua Pantalleresco: I love the last bit of your bio. It is awesome.
Christine Steendam: Well, it’s kind of true.
JP: I know. It cracked me up.
CS: I changed it with the second book because only like three people got it.
JP: I think that’s the reason you should keep it. I got it, and it’s great when you get those little easter eggs.
CS: I’ll think about it.
JP: So you’ve always rode horses?
CS: I’ve always been around animals. When I was a kid we had Siberian huskies and did dog-sledding.
JP: That’s damn cool.
CS: My dad got sick with an undiagnosed neurological disease. When that happened, my dad could no longer run them and my mom decided to pursue her own animal goals. We got horses and they’ve been a part of my life ever since.
JP: You still got horses now?
CS: Oh yeah, two of them. Guinness and Philip.
JP: So you know exactly what I’m saying when I say “sit the saddle, ride the horse?”
CS: I can say with confidence that at this point, there isn’t much a horse can do that surprises me. I’ve been doing it for years.
JP: Have you ever considered barrel racing?
CS: Not really. I mean, there’s a part of me that would like to do it as kind of a bucket list thing. That said, all the work, time and money is for essentially being on the arena for ten minutes. I enjoy riding, and enjoy my horses, but for me, showing isn’t worth the money or stress.
JP: Let’s talk about your writing a little bit. Tell me about your books.
CS: Heart Like An Ocean is an adventure book with pirates and romance.
CS: No. It’s an adventure story with romance and pirates. Unforgiving Plains is about cowboys and romance. I’m actually heading to Foremost, Alberta for a book signing.
JP: Really? Well I’m grateful because of the chance to meet you.
CS: Nice to meet you too. Lol.
JP: So what’s coming up?
CS: I have two books coming up. One of them is called Shadows of the Unseen. It’s a sci fi romance that is supposed to come out sometime in December. The other book, Betrayed by the Ocean is the prequel to Heart like an ocean. It’s supposed to be out the first week or second week of January.
JP: That’s a pretty full plate. I understand you are doing comics too?
CS: Yes. I’m working with Andrew Lorenz on his series New Guard. I did two issues. One of them for sure is coming out next year. Maybe two. Andrew is in charge of release dates, I just do as I’m told lol
JP: How is doing comics for you?
CS: Different. In my other projects I am so used to having a plethora of words at all time. With comics all the work is done by pictures. I kind of feel like I still don’t know what I’m doing here.
JP: Did you read comics as a kid?
CS: Not really. I know a bit about the superhero stuff. I used to listen to the Batman and Superman audio stuff, so I have a general idea what is going on. But I don’t read superhero comics.
JP: Graphic novels?
CS: That’s the thing, I can read the single issues, you know? But the graphic novels are hard for me. I have a time reading the words and pictures together.
JP: That is so fascinating. I can see where some of your struggles with writing comics come from. What graphic novel did you try to read?
JP: Oh God…
CS: Yeah. Andrew said it wasn’t exactly the best graphic novel to read as a beginner.
JP: Absolutely not. I like Watchmen, and strictly from a design point of view, is brilliant. But it’s not what I’d give a beginner. I’d give you something like Usagi Yojimbo. You ever watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid?
CS: Nope. I didn’t watch Television much as a kid.
CS: I was always doing stuff outside. I just never got around to it.
JP: Wow. I don’t know if I should be horrified for you, or jealous. So many good things for you to see and try…Anyways, Usagi Yojimbo is an anamorphic comic about a ronin rabbit in Ancient Japan. Something like that would be better.
CS: It sounds good.
JP: Did you read non superhero books as a kid?
CS: I read TinTin.
JP: Great choice. So tell me about the issues of new Guard.
CS: Originally, I was brought in to tell the Origin of Firefly. I can’t really delve into it too much because the issue isn’t out yet. Andrew wanted some help with the female perspective so he asked me to do it and I said sure.
Things have evolved from there. Turns out I’m not so good at listening to page limitations and the backstory ended up spanning a few more pages than I was allowed for issue 2,but Andrew liked it all and didn’t think it should be cut down, so we spread it over issue 2 and 3. I actually went from being a co-scripter to a co-writer on this story because of what happened. I was able to input a few things in the story and I’m proud of it.
JP: I can’t wait to read it. So with all the things you’ve done up here, I’m asking if you have ever considered writing a fantasy?
CS: I refuse.
JP: But Heart of the Ocean sounds like fantasy.
CS: Like I said above, it’s an adventure story with romance and pirates lol.
JP: So you don’t want to do a fantasy?
CS: I don’t really want to write one, no. Epic fantasy just seems so daunting, you know?
JP: Not to mention that it’s been done to death.
CS: Exactly. There are only so many ways you can tell that story you know?
JP: The reason that style has always been popular is because it’s a formula we gravitate to. I did an essay about Eragon a few years back. It’s all based on the character of Percival. Like him, we’re caught up in the action and don’t have any idea of what’s going on.
CS: I enjoyed Eragon. I wasn’t into the later books so much. I lost respect for the author a little bit when he called himself the next Tolkien.
JP: In all fairness, he was very successful.
CS: But where is he now?
JP: Fair enough. I still say that Heart of the Ocean could be fantasy. Have you read any Charles De Lint?
CS: I haven’t really had a chance to read any fantasy recently. I haven’t read any since my teens.
JP: So what do you read?
CS: Historicals mostly these days. I enjoy the genre. It’s neat to learn about our histories.
JP: How are you with marketing yourself?
CS: I get all shy, and do one of those Canadian things of putting my head and go “please read this book”
JP: Kind of counter intuitive to what we do these days though?
CS: Totally. I did a signing with my publicist. It was great because I got to learn a lot about what to do and what not to do at a signing. We all need to do things to get out there. And sometimes we need a push to get there.
JP: I was a big pro wrestling fan. I know, me and people and tights…
JP: One thing I picked up from wrestling was the need to believe in yourself. You have to stand out there.
CS: It’s true. I have heard writers say that they need to come up with some kind of persona when they go out there, and that’s not true at all. Your best bit of marketing is you. It’s genuine and people gravitate to genuine.
JP: Totally, although you can embellish or turn up the dial a bit.
CS: Of course! But you can’t really make it up. Why bother?
JP: I’ve enjoyed this conversation. I hope to see you again in Winnipeg. You doing any cons there?
CS: Maybe. I don’t know. I definitely won’t be doing much traveling next year. I have plans to do C4 Comic Con next November, butthis year was a crazy busy year. I’d like to actually take a step back from writing a bit after the books come out and focus on helping others. I have this friend from LA whose story I’ve been beta reading. I’ve been enjoying helping him put his story together. I’d like to do a little more of that in the coming year.
JP: Sounds like a great plan. I wish you the best of luck with it.
CS: Thank you! Good luck with the Watcher!
Currently, Heart of the Ocean and Unforgiving Plains are available where books are sold. You can get Owned by the Ocean for free when you sign up for Christine’s Newsletter at http://www.christinesteendam.com, where you can find all her current news and information on upcoming projects. Her next book, Shadows of the Unseen comes out next month. Betrayed by the Ocean, the sequel to Heart of the Ocean comes out in January.
If you want to keep in contact with Christine (which you should because she’s awesome) she also has a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/authorchristine.s and her twitter handle is @chrissteen1991. It has been a pleasure to get to know her in the short time we talked and I get the feeling you will see her on this page again sometime. I want to thank Christine once again and invite you to check out her works, you will not be disappointed.