Monday, July 29, 2013

The Culling - an Interview with Steven dos Santos

I am so pleased to have Steven on my blog this week. This is my first interview with an author who isn't one of my friends and book I have read, and loved!!! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!!!

  The Culling (The Torch Keeper, #1)

By Steven dos Santos

Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die...

For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother.

Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits’ loved ones. What Lucky isn’t prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly.


Damn ... just damn. Wow. I don't have the right words to put together for this book. I mean, it was a fantastic read. Keep in mind this is not for the faint of heart ... the gore was top notch, and I am a reader who loves gore. There were some really sweet and loving parts to this book, with Lucky and Digory. I just can't get over it, the book. So much to say but all would spoil the story line. There were a few bits that I thought were predictable, however that was fine. Once I sat down to read this book it was VERY hard to pull me away from it. Excellent read and suggest it to anyone who likes a good book that's action packed.

*** Source: I purchased this book ***


Steven, thank you so much for taking the time to come to my blog and let me interview you. I am very excited to have this opportunity to pick your brain.

Ashley – First off, I have to know, is this world something that just hit you randomly, or is it one you’ve been thinking about for a while?
Steven – The grim world of THE CULLING is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a long time. I can remember when I was a kid (waaaaaaay back, LOL) imagining what it would be like to have to choose who to save between two people I loved, and the idea followed me throughout the years. People might think that such a civilization is unimaginable, that people would never force others to make such a heinous choice. But if you look at the past and some of the atrocities human beings have inflicted on others throughout history, it’s unfortunately quite plausible. Also, the idea of hiding your love for someone, in order to protect both of you from the evils of society, is something LGBTQ people have dealt with for ages, so thematically, it works.

Ashley – Your characters are very believable, were you able to write them so well because they were based on people you knew?
Steven – I didn’t base any of my characters on people that I know particularly, but some of the qualities they possessed were hybrids of different people I’ve known in my life, including the villains in the story! I wanted to create a broad spectrum of characters with diverse backgrounds and emotions and hopefully I’ve succeeded in tapping into some universal elements that most people can relate to.

Ashley – The Uncle, wow, what an ass! Do you enjoy making characters that are just completely unlikeable?
Steven – By “Uncle” I take it you mean the character of Cassius, who had a former bond with my protagonist Lucian, and was a sort of foster uncle to Lucian’s little brother, Cole. He IS quite a piece of work, isn’t he? As much as I want to hate Cassius, however, I did want to at least hint of some complexity of his character, i.e. he’s the unfortunate product of what effect the sadistic machinations of the Establishment can have on the human soul. In many ways, Cassius is a broken and pitiful figure. But it’s still fun watching him make the other characters squirm and wondering what new ways he’ll think of to make everyone else suffer.

Ashley – I loved the gore aspect of your book. I can’t really take gore in movies but I LOVE a good book with violence that I can just picture in my head. What has the reaction been from your friends and family after reading those killing scenes? Do they look at you like you’re off it a little or do they not associate the gore with you?
Steven – LOL. That’s been funny. My partner has joked after reading the book that he has to sleep with the lights on, wondering what’s going on in my little head! Other friends have said I have a twisted imagination. Yes, the book is violent and gory. But I felt it was necessary to demonstrate the raw brutality of the situation. I wanted to evoke a visceral reaction from the reader, make them feel as if they are experiencing the horrors along with Lucian and the other recruits. Up until now, Lucian has been able to sit idly by, going along with the status quo. However, once he experiences the carnage and suffering first hand, he has no choice but to take a stand and fight for what’s right.

Ashley – How long did it take you to write this novel? Are you a plotter or punster?
Steven – It took me approximately 18 months to write THE CULLING, including revising the manuscript. I’m definitely not an outliner. I have an idea of where I want the story to start, how I want it to end, and a vague idea of what the middle will be like. I enjoy discovering the twists and turns of the story as I write, so I’m only one step ahead of the reader. If I had a detailed outline of everything that was going to happen, I’d be bored out of my mind!

Ashley – What is your favorite part of being an author? Has becoming a successful author changed any of your perspectives on things?
Steven – My favorite part has been the feedback I’ve gotten from teens. One teen in particular contacted me and told me that THE CULLING has inspired him to come out as a gay young man, despite the fact that his mother has issues with the LGBTQ community. The fact that something I wrote could have even a small impact on someone else’s life has made all the frustrations of writing a book and trying to get published definitely worth it.

Ashley – How do you handle the pressure of producing a sequel that’s just as good, if not better, than The Culling?
Steven – The sequel to THE CULLING, called THE SOWING, will be released on March 8, 2014. There is a tremendous feeling of anxiety wondering whether or not fans of THE CULLING will be pleased. If you go by what a few of my Beta Readers are saying, THE SOWING is even more intense than THE CULLING. But everyone’s opinion varies. I’m trying not to compare the two. I feel the story I came up with for the sequel is compelling in its own right, and I tried to blend the elements that fans embraced in THE CULLING, with new material, as the scope of the story and the world I’ve created opens up in exciting new directions. I think THE SOWING is quite a ride, but ultimately, it’s the readers that’ll decide if it measures up and meets their expectations. In the meantime, I’ll be hiding when it’s released. LOL.

Ashley – What books do you enjoy? Are there any authors that have inspired you? What’s your favorite genre?
Steven – I enjoy many types of books, but am partial to Sci-Fi and Horror. I would have to say THE STAND, by Stephen King, is one of my all-time favorites, because of the way the author handles such a huge cast of diverse characters and spins an epic tale. After THE TORCH KEEPER trilogy is hopefully completed, I would love to take a stab at writing something REALLY scary, the kind of story that gets under your skin and keeps you awake in bed with the lights on.

Ashley – How did you come up with the name, “The Culling” for what they have to go through?
Steven – The original title of the book was THE TORCH KEEPER, which eventually became the title of the series. When my publisher asked me to come up with another title for Book 1, I came up with THE CULLING because it sounded like a very ominous way of conveying the process of weeding through your loved ones. But it also works in the sense of weeding through the recruits themselves and deciding which one of them is cold-blooded enough to become an Imposer for the Establishment.

Ashley – Is there anything you would tell new authors who are feeling like this is an impossible task to conquer?
Steven – Yes. DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. I faced many challenges on the twisting road to publication, including opposition to publishing a book with a gay male protagonist. Join writing critique groups to hone your craft. Attend writers’ conferences to network and meet other people in the publishing industry. If you want to be an author, do what authors do. WRITE. And keep writing. Eventually, someone will take notice.

Thank you again for stopping in. If you had any other final thoughts you’d like to share with my followers please feel free. And, when can we expect to have the next book out? And can I pre-order it, lol.
Steven – Thanks for having me! It’s been a real pleasure. J
THE SOWING, The Torch Keeper Book 2, will be released on March 8, 2014. You can Pre-Order now on Amazon!
You can also visit my website at, with links to purchasing THE CULLING, fan forums and reviews.
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  1. Thanks for having me on your blog! :-)

  2. Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs?
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