Interview with Stephen Masse, author of “Short Circus”

About Stephen V. Masse

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He wrote his first novelat age 13, handwritten into a school composition book.

Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied creative writing, and was author of a weekly newspaper column, “Out of Control.” His first novel for children, Shadow Stealer, was published by Dillon Press in 1988. Short Circus is his second novel for children.

In addition to children’s books, Masse has written A Jolly Good Fellow, winner of the Silver Medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, as well as honorable mention in the 2008 New England Book Festival for best books of the holiday season.

The Interview

Q: Thank you for this interview, Stephen. Can you tell us what your latest book, Short Circus, is all about?

A: Twelve-year-old Jem Lockwood has been fatherless for four years and finally gets a Big Brother, but just as the best summer of his life is about to begin, he discovers that Jesse Standish’s rented house is about to be sold. Jem does all in his daring imagination to make Jesse’s house unmarketable, and the neighborhood unfit for prospective buyers. Sadly the city’s swimming pond has been sabotaged, and the city has to close it to all recreation after two boys are injured. Jem is sure he knows who did it, and helps carry out a plan to punish the evildoer. But Alpha qualities are not always perfectly aimed, and Jem learns about the consequences of jumping into action without sufficient knowledge or understanding.

Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how was writing this novel different from writing your first?

A: This is my third published novel, quite different from writing my first. The process of publishing the first novel taught me an incredible amount about finishing a manuscript professionally – a huge benefit for later novels.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

A: Writing Short Circus was probably my most pleasant writing project. There was no writer’s block, although in the many re-writes there was an occasional editing block where some tough decisions had to be made on what to keep and what to cut.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

A: It’s probably too early to tell, since I’ve only had one fan mail. The reader wrote that “reading Short Circus is like taking a hit from the crack pipe of childhood memories.” Funny and flattering, though perhaps not appropriate for a dust jacket blurb on a book for young readers.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

A: I don’t make my living by writing, so having a daily writing routine would be a luxury. When I’m in the midst of a writing project, I try to write as much as possible each day, taking a break for eating, and hoping to reach a logical stopping point in the narrative or editing.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

A: Writing is my relaxation. Next to that I enjoy socializing, reading, watching a good movie, and music.

Q: What book changed your life?

A: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which I read at 12 years old.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

A: Unauthorized: The Biography of Stephen V. Masse

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

A: I think people understand me fairly well. When they don’t, I make good effort to communicate where I stand.

Thank you for this interview Stephen. I wish you much success on your latest release, Short Circus!

About Short Circus

Twelve-year-old Jem Lockwood has been fatherless for four years and finally gets a Big Brother, but just as the best summer of his life is about to begin, he discovers that Jesse Standish’s rented house is about to be sold. Jem does all in his daring imagination to make Jesse’s house unmarketable, and the neighborhood unfit for prospective buyers. This three-ring circus romps with with Jem’s boyhood friends and older brother Chris, all recognizable kids who share in the rough-and-tumble delight of living in a northern Massachusetts city whose newspaper is delivered by kids on bikes, where kids play in the streets, and the local convenience store is owned by the family of Jesse’s girlfriend, Andrea. Sadly the city’s swimming pond has been sabotaged, and the city has to close it to all recreation after two boys are injured. Jem is sure he knows who did it, and helps carry out a plan to punish the evildoer.

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