Stephen Tremp was born in Marshall, Michigan, in 1962. He is the third out of four children of Duane and Joyce Tremp. When he was five, his family moved to Grand Ledge, ten miles to the west of the capital city of Lansing. Stephen attended Holbrook Elementary, Beagle Middle School, and Grand Ledge High School. He always dreamed of writing and enrolled in numerous English and writing courses throughout high school and junior college.
After living in Houston, Texas, for one year when he was nineteen, Stephen moved back to Lansing, Michigan, briefly a year before moving to Orange County, California, where he has lived ever since. He met his wife, Deena, and married her in October 1996 in an outdoor ceremony in Dana Point, California, high up on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They have two children and a Yorkie. Stephen had to make a very difficult decision and give away his beloved parrot, Pepper, a nanday conure, when the children were born.
Stephen attended Golden West and Orange Coast junior colleges before finishing his undergraduate degree with the University of Phoenix with a B.A. in information systems. After a two-year hiatus, he went back to the University of Phoenix, where he earned an MBA degree in global management. He is currently completing his doctorate program in business administration with the University of Phoenix.
Stephen spent over ten years in consumer finance for some of the largest companies in the industry, holding numerous management positions and often working over 60 hours a week. He has also worked as a classroom and online instructor, facilitating various courses in the field of Project Management.
After many years of writing short stories and poems—when he could squeeze in the time—Stephen has taken the last two years off to fulfill his lifelong passion: write and publish Breakthrough, the first installment of the Chase Manhattan trilogy. He has four more suspense thrillers to follow. Stephen receives his inspiration from some of his favorite authors: the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child tandem, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King, among others.
Stephen has identified two charities to donate proceeds from his books: The Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
I asked Steven some questions.
What or whom inspires you to write?
I just see life and all of my experiences as one continuous action suspense story just waiting to be transferred to paper. I see “what if” scenarios throughout the day, regardless of where I am, what I’m doing, or who I’m with.
Although I’m a bit of an introvert, I’m very passionate about developing “what if” scenarios. I can relate to the Drew Carey’s show Whose Line Is It Anyway? an improvisational comedy show. Give me a simple “what if” scenario, and I can develop it into an action suspense trilogy that will keep the reader up late at night, turning the pages.
I draw much inspiration from Dean Koontz, Dan Brown, Stephen King, and the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child tandem. I read a lot of fiction thrillers and felt I needed to identify a unique niche market that a large segment of the population could identify with and get excited about.
I think I’ve found it in a world where the Information Age is moving at breakneck speed, and breakthroughs in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming a part of our everyday life. I believe I’ve found my calling, my gift to the world.
How did you get started?
I accepted a voluntary layoff after toiling over 10 years in the banking and finance industry and took advantage of the opportunity to write full-time.
Breakthroughs in physics and technology are broadcast into millions of homes via numerous cable channels in layman’s terms and computer graphics anyone can understand. I thought I would capitalize on this particular niche and incorporate them into an action thriller series weaving together breakthroughs in physics and technology with greed, murder, and mayhem. Will these breakthroughs benefit mankind and be used to further civilization, or will they be stolen and used for greedy gain? I think we know the answer. That’s why the world needs a hero like my protagonist Chase Manhattan.
What did you find to be the most frustrating step/process of getting your first novel published?
I signed a non-exclusive contract with iUniverse, who was acquired by AuthorHouse. During the transition, much information was lost and it took about two or three additional months to bring Breakthrough to market. iUniverse (really, AuthorHouse) originally sent my unedited draft off to print. Can you imagine my response when I received the (ahem) final product? This was just the beginning of a series of comedies of errors.
But iUniverse has terrific customer service. They fixed everything in a timely manner. So some of the sting of their mistakes (which were many) were soothed by awesome customer service reps.
Do you have an agent? If yes, how long did it take for you to find one?
I do not currently have an agent, but I am actively pursuing one. I use Publisher’s Marketplace, a site to look for reputable agents and view deals they have made over the past couple years.
It took about three months of receiving feedback from various sources before I felt my query letter was professional. I even had my editor / proofreader go over it. I now understand why, after my initial effort of sending out my query letter, I received rejection for every one.
I feel much more confident today and have just this past week sent out about 50 query letters to specific agents. I’m expecting big things in the near future.
How long did it take for you to write Breakthrough?
Two years from start to finish. I thought I could accomplish everything in about eight months. But after the first editing/proof reading, I realized I still had a lot of research to perform and character development to perform. Then I had a second editor / proof reader go over the entire manuscript a second time. This was money well spent.
Are your characters based on yourself or anyone else you know?
The protagonist, Chase Manhattan (I may have to change his name to Chase Hawkings) is loosely based on me, only he’s a little bit taller than I am, a little bit better looking, a little faster, stronger, smarter, and much richer.
The rest of the good guys (and girls) and bad guys (and girls) are partialy made up and partially based on people I’ve known throughout my life.
What advice would you give someone who wants to get a book published?
The number one piece of advice I can give an aspiring author is to budget money for a competent editor / proofreader. Even editors who want to write and publish a book need an editor. This is the biggest, and one of the easiest, mistakes an author can make.
Editors / proof readers are vital to your success. Vital is an appropriate word. It means: necessary for life. Don’t try to go it alone, even if you call yourself an editor. You need that second set of eyes to look over your manuscript before you forward it on for printing.
You’re only as good as your editor / proof reader. Perception is reality, and the person buying your book will be the ultimate judge, not you, the author. I can say this with confidence, and hope to convince everyone I can to find a way to budget for a quality editor / proof reader.
Most editors / proof readers will review your first 10 pages for free. I’m confident even the most experienced writers will be amazed at the results. Do what I did; pay for a few pages here, a few chapters there. Before you know it, your entire manuscript will be transformed into a work of art.
Please share with us your latest work-in-progress.
I am currently writing the next two installments of the Breakthrough trilogy entitled Opening and Escalation. These two books will pick up where Breakthrough left off and take the story on an international level. The setting is the United States, China, and the Middle East.
These next books are very exciting as I use more discoveries and breakthroughs in physics in these books. Its too early to give away anything from these books, but for those who read Breakthrough, they will have a pretty good idea what direction Opening and Escalation will go.
What’s awesome for me is that I do not have to not have to set my stories centuries in the future and use characters with pointy ears. Since mankind is on the cusp of discoveries and breakthroughs in just about every facet of our lives, I can use our modern day setting and not have to resort to using a science fiction genre.
I’m also outlining an eerie Stephen King-type thriller entitled Murcat Manor set in Michigan.
Where can people buy your book?
Readers can visit my blog site at http://www.stephentremp.blogspot.com
Currently, Breakthrough can be purchased through traditional retailers. Currently, Breakthrough is cheapest though Barnes and Nobel, but can also be purchases through Amazon, Borders Books and Music, and Target.