THE WRITERS FORUM Book of the Year 2023. First place is awarded to –

STEPHEN OLIVER for his dual entry of Science Fiction and Urban Fantasy novels.




‘Jigsaw pieces of Douglas Adams, shavings of Vonnegut, shards of Philip K. Dick… stud these two novels like diamonds. Crammed full of a highly fertile imagination that spills from page to page in a glorious hemorrhaging of ideas, Stephen takes us on fantastic journeys. But you can relax and strap yourself in… because you're in the hands of a fantastic storyteller.'

“As a panel we couldn't seperate either of your novels for first place and so nominated the award to both works.” — Andy Oakes, Head Judge, in a private email.

Hi, I’m Stephen Oliver, a writer and author.

I differentiate between the two because, as the late, great, Harlan Ellison once said. “An author is someone who gets their name on the cover of a book. A writer is some poor schmuck who can't help writing because the Muse has got her hooks into them.” Like him, I'm both. I've already had a couple of books published, with more on the way, but the Muse stands over me with a whip and insists I keep writing.

I'm a ‘Pantser' (aka ‘Discovery Writer'), meaning I write ‘by the seat of my pants'. In other words, I have no idea what I'm writing until I've written it. Give me a picture or a writing prompt (a sentence, a phrase… heck, even a word will do) and let me loose. I can create something in twenty minutes, 400-500 words to begin a new story. I don't stop there, of course. Those few words can turn into four or five thousand or more. The next day or week, the Muse will strike again, and I'll finish it off, creating something weird, wonderful, or just plain odd.

Once I'm done, then comes the hard part: turning it into something good. I've had to learn that what I wrote initially is only the beginning. Read, revise, edit, wash, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat… There are some stories I've gone over dozens of times, and I'll still find something to improve on occasion.

My space opera novel Shuttlers and dark urban fantasy anthology Paranormal City have both been traditionally published. I've also published thirty short stories and am working on a couple of dozen more books. My genres include science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, humour (very dark), noir, detective fiction, fairytales and fairy stories, to name but a few. Often more than one in a single tale… There’s an epic fantasy in the works, too, and the second anthology in the Paranormal City series is in the hands of the publisher, awaiting publication. Volumes three and four are finished, and I'm writing volume five. And Shuttlers is getting a sequel, too.

I came to writing relatively late in life, but that ain't gonna stop me now because I've already written almost 1½ million words since I began. I'll be done when they peel my cold, dead fingers off my keyboard.

Mind you, given the kinds of stories I write that will probably be because one of the monsters I created finally finished me off…!

In the UK

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