The Author Spotlight Series shines a light on writers creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their books and why they do what they do.


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“Mike Steeves was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and lives in Montreal, Quebec. His first novel, Giving Up, was published by Book*hug Press in 2015 and was a finalist for the Concordia University First Book Award. His work has appeared in The Globe & MailMatrix MagazineThe Shore and others.”


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In my early twenties.


Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? 

One of the first things I worked a lot on was a story of a closet alcoholic’s morning routine.


How did you develop your skills?

Reading a lot. And writing a lot of pages that nobody has ever seen.


Who are some of your biggest literary influences? Do you have a favourite book/author?

I like books by writers who are wholly committed to their work. Lately that’s the Australian writer Gerald Murnane. As far as influences go, if I could choose them, I’d say Dostoevsky, but I suspect the honest answer would be the gospels and Garfield.


How would you describe your work? 

I always struggle with how to describe the two books that I’ve published. I usually wind up talking about what they are not, rather than what they are. But based on what people who have read these books have told me, I gather they are funny, but also disquieting, or disturbing, and that they describe people and scenarios that readers find simultaneously sympathetic and deeply offensive.


What’s your writing process like?

I write at night, in longhand. I do this until I have a first draft. Then I spend a lot of time rewriting that first draft. For this book I spent more time rewriting it than I did writing the first draft. Not much changes on a structural level from the first draft to the final book. But the first draft of this book wasn’t very good. I suppose that’s because all books work at a sentence level, and that’s what takes time for me because my first sentences often aren’t very good. Or they’re just not there yet. But I feel like if I just keep with something long enough that it will eventually find its form.


Tell us about your most recent book.

Bystander is narrated by a smart and cynical man whose ambition in life is to be left alone. He works at a fancy company and makes a lot of money but he still lives in the same apartment from his college days and lives a largely solitary lifestyle. After being away for nine months, he comes home and meets a new neighbour. This banal encounter leads to a reckoning with the sort of person he believes he is, versus how he actually thinks and acts.


What are you working on now/next?

I have written a few pages of something that I’m telling everyone is a modern take on Coleridge’s Mariner.