Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview with Steve Alten

Author Bio:

Steve Alten grew up in Philadelphia, earning his Bachelors degree in Physical Education at Penn State University, a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate of Education at Temple University. Struggling to support his family of five, he decided to pen a novel he had been thinking about for years. Working late nights and on weekends, he eventually finished MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror. Steve sold his car to pay for editing fees. On September (Friday) the 13th, 1996, Steve lost his general manager’s job at a wholesale meat plant. Four days later his agent had a two-book, seven figure deal with Bantam Doubleday.
 MEG would go on to become the book of the 1996 Frankfurt book fair, where it eventually sold to more than a twenty countries. MEG hit every major best-seller list, including #19 on the New York Times list (#7 audio), and became a popular radio series in Japan.
Steve’s second release, The TRENCH (Meg sequel) was published by Kensington/Pinnacle in 1999 where it also hit best-seller status. His next novel, DOMAIN and its sequel, RESURRECTION were published by St. Martin’s Press/Tor Books and were runaway best-sellers in Spain, Mexico, Germany, and Italy, with the rights selling to more than a dozen countries.
Steve’s fourth novel, GOLIATH, received rave reviews and was a big hit in Germany. It is being considered for a TV series. MEG: Primal Waters was published in the summer of 2004. A year later his seventh novel, The LOCH, hit stores — a modern-day thriller about the Loch Ness Monster. Steve’s eighth novel, The SHELL GAME, is about the end of oil and the next 9/11 event. The book was another NY Times best-seller, but the stress of penning this real-life story affected Steve’s health, and three months after he finished the manuscript he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Steve’s ninth novel, MEG: Hell’s Aquarium, is considered to be the best of the best-selling MEG series. Steve says his best novel is GRIM REAPER: End of Days. The story, a modern-day Dante’s Inferno, takes place in New York when a man-made plague strikes Manhattan.
Steve’s novels are action-packed and very visual. He has optioned DOMAIN, MEG and The LOCH to film producers. Steve has written six original screenplays. His comedy, HARLEM SHUFFLE was a semi-finalist in the LA screenwriting contest, his comedy MINTZ MEATS was selected as a finalist at the Philadelphia film festival as was his psychological thriller, STRANGLEHOLD. Steve’s reality series, HOUSE OF BABEL won at Scriptapalooza. He has also created a TV Drama, PAPA JOHN, based on his years coaching basketball with Hall of Fame coach John Chaney.
Over the years, Steve has been inundated with e-mail from teens who hated reading …until they read his novels. When he learned high school teachers were actually using his books in the classroom (MEG had been rated #1 book for reluctant readers) Steve launched Adopt-An-Author, a nationwide non-profit program designed to encourage students to read. Teachers who register for the program (it’s free) receive giant shark posters, free curriculum materials, student-author correspondence, an interactive website, and classroom conference calls/visits with the author. To date, over 10,000 teachers have registered, and the success rate in getting teens to read has been unprecedented. Steve now spends half his work week working with high schools. For more information click on

As an author, Steve has two goals. First, to continue to work hard to become a better storyteller and create exciting page turning thrillers. Second, to remain accessible to his readers. Steve reads and answers all e-mails, uses the names and descriptions of his loyal fans as characters in all his novels, and even hires readers as editors, depending on their particular expertise.


1. Tell me a little about yourself.

I am 55 years old, married with two kids, and have been writing thrillers since 1995. My first novel, MEG was a best-seller.

2. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Workout, watch TV, spend family time.

3. How long have you been writing?

Since the summer of 1995 when I read a TIME Magazine article on the Mariana Trench and decided to pen a novel about a prehistoric giant Great White shark called a Megalodon.

4. Who or what inspired you to be a writer?

The article inspired me. When I read Peter Benchley’s novel, JAWS, I became a shark fanatic. When I read his novel, White Shark, I was convinced I could do better.

5. What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?

Receiving a publishing offer for a new book.

6. What books do you enjoy in your free time?

None. I used to read a lot, now I spend days reading and researching so there’s no time. Plus I want to retain my inner voice.

7. Who is your favorite author/book and why?

You mean after me? I’m a fan of Tom Clancy, Ian Fleming, Michael Crichton, and I love the book Dracula, by Bram Stoker.

8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t write about what you know, write about things you like to read, then do the research.

9. How important is it for an author to love and research their material?

For me, it is the most important thing. Research is the key to fleshing out my stories. Writers Block is simply a lack of info in your brain, research fills it. 

10. Could you tell me a little about your writing coach program?

WRITING COACH is a program where I help new writers who have a basic premise to flesh out their story, create a beat sheet, treatment, and ultimately write the book. I may spend a year or two with each writer. Eight out of the 20 clients I accepted into the program have been published so far. Cost of the program - $3300.00.

11. When I was a kid reading was my escape from the stresses of school and growing up. Can you share a little about your Adopt-An-Author program?

Adopt-An-Author is a free nationwide program for middle and high school teachers looking to entice their reluctant readers to read. The program began when I became inundated with emails from teens telling me they hated to read—until they read MEG. Then teachers emailed me, telling me they were using MEG in classrooms to great success. So I created the non-profit to offer teachers everything they’d need – free curriculum materials, tests, quizzes, vocabulary lists, free posters, plus direct contact between students and authors via email, skype, visits, and in-class calls. In 1999 there were a dozen teachers registered. Today there are over 10,000!

12. Can you tell us about any of your new work?

East Antarctica is the coldest, most desolate location on Earth. Two-and-a-half miles below the ice cap is Vostok, a six thousand square mile liquid lake, over a thousand feet deep, left untouched for more than 15 million years. Marine biologist Zachary Wallace has been recruited to join two other scientists aboard a tiny 3-man submersible tethered to a laser which will journey 13,000 feet beneath the ice into this unexplored realm to discover Mesozoic life forms long believed extinct – and an Extraterrestrial object of immense power responsible for the evolution of modern man. In writing VOSTOK, I spent over twenty hours interviewing Dr. Steven M. Greer, the world’s foremost authority on Extraterrestrial Intelligence Last week, Obama Advisor John Podesta revealed that his biggest regret since leaving office was “keeping the UFO issue a secret.” Dr. Greer was the person who provided the extensive briefing to John Podesta on UFOs shortly after President Obama took office in 2009.

13. In VOSTOK you combine characters from both The Loch and The Meg series. As someone who adores all things sea-creature (specifically Megalodon) I'm dying to know what got you interested in this type of aquatic life?

JAWS started things off. This led me to read real shark attack stories, which led me to Megalodon. When I was thirty-five I read a TIME article about the Mariana Trench and the MEG seed was watered.

14. What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?


By email at or via my website at where you can watch my book trailers and sign up for free monthly newsletters.

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