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Jan Steele grew up in the burbs of Chicago and after thirty-two years of shoveling snow, moved to Southern California with her husband and children. She has taught everything from Kindergarten through high school but found her passion for writing years later while living as an expat in Asia for four years. She’s a contributing author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Miracles and More (2018), shares a blog with her sister-in-law, and is an MFA student at UC Riverside. In addition to writing, she loves to travel, volunteer, watch college basketball and sunsets. She’s also passionate about shedding light on the lasting effects of bullying.
What was your inspiration for the book?
My Inspiration for Shoes on the Stairs was my own insecurity as a stay-at-home mom. There are so many thankless days as a parent, and it is intensified when it’s your only job. I threw up my hands one day and thought about what would become of my family if I wasn’t there. Out of this thought came a novel that made me realize that even though I might not initially see the results of my work as a mother, the seeds I have planted will eventually grow within them.
Do you think with the invention of e-books libraries will become obsolete?
Sadly, I think it’s possible. Even my children’s high school’s library is void of actual books. But even with e-books, there are still many readers who prefer to hold an actual book, and there will always be those whose only way of obtaining books is through a library. I can only hope that many future generations will have the opportunity to experience a physical library.
Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you write when the inspiration hits you?
I am a “pantser” most of the time. Because my schedule as a mother varies greatly, it’s difficult to hold myself to a strict writing schedule. But when I’m not physically writing, I’m running plots and scenes in my head and having conversations with my characters to get to know them better – I have a lot of “aha” moments this way, and then I’m rushing to my computer to write them down before I forget.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about being a writer?
There are many misconceptions people have about being a writer, but one that stands out to me is the idea that all writers are confident in their writing. I haven’t met a writer who didn’t question his or her work or press the submit button with a shaking finger. Putting our work out there where millions of eyes can potentially see and critique our work is nerve-wracking. We know we need to be tough because there will be haters, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Self-doubt can often follow the writer, even after they’ve experienced success.
What is the one thing you want readers to take away from this book?
That even the smallest things we do can make a lasting impact. At the end of the day as with the end of our life, how we treat others is what truly matters – that’s love.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
When I’m doing research for my novel or plotting, I like to use the old-fashioned method of pen and paper (I love using various Sharpie pen colors). But when it comes to the actual writing of the story, I use my computer because I can type faster than I can write with a pen – and when the words flow, I don’t want to be slowed down.
I am a pantser most of the time. Because my schedule as a mother varies greatly, it's difficult to hold myself to a strict writing schedule.Click To Tweet
By Jan Steel
Published by Acorn Publishing July 2019
Inspired by the many frustrations of parenthood and the ever-present fear of failure, SHOES ON THE STAIRS centers around a mother’s struggle to accept what she has left behind after her death. She takes the reader on a journey of both laughter and tears while learning even the smallest of gestures can make a significant and lasting impact.
* * *
Claire Blackwell can’t find that damn white light. Thanks to a mishap at an intersection, she’s dead and stuck somewhere between Heaven and what seems like Hell as she is forced to watch her husband and children unravel without her. While she struggles to find answers for her limbo state, her family begins to see her, offering what she believes, is a gift of second chances.
As she navigates through this new, untouchable world and the challenges it creates, she is forced to face some sad and potentially dangerous truths. Determined, she works to mend her relationship with her family, but her stubborn teenage son refuses to acknowledge her, and when tensions escalate with his long-time bully, her inability to control the physical world around her leaves her fearing for her family’s safety. With her time running out, she must find a way to save them before the progress she has made is lost and she fades from this world forever.
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