Five Questions with… Mike Steeves

Mike Steeves, author Giving Up and an upcoming IFOA participant, answered our five questions!

IFOA: Can you tell us a bit about Giving Up?Steeves, Mike (c) Nikki Tummon

Mike Steeves: At the risk of sounding ridiculous, the novel is about faith (in a very general sense of the term) and how it is utterly incompatible with everyday life, while also being absolutely integral to it. More simply, it’s a novel told in three partsa he said/she said/they saidthat takes place over the course of an evening, and deals with some of the irreconcilable hopes and dreams that make up the lives of many young couples.

IFOA: When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

Steeves: I’ve loved to read since I was young, and consequently, I had a lot of respect for authors. They got their picture in the paper. People talked about them and read their books even after they had been dead for a long time. They always seemed to know exactly what they wanted to say. All of this was extremely attractive to me.

IFOA: Is there a contemporary author who inspires your work? Steeves, Giving Up

Steeves: I used to focus mostly on the classics, but lately I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary work, and a lot of it is in translation. There is so much excellent fiction being produced at this moment that I no longer subscribe to the opinion that nothing can rival the work of the greats. Karl Ove Knausgaard and Elena Ferrante are two writers who have published work that has changed my understanding of what literature is and what it can do. Roberto Bolano was a real shot in the arm. Thomas Bernhard is a continual touchstone. Pierre Michon and Laszlo Kraznahorkai are capable of the same degree of beauty that we associate with writers like Faulkner or Woolf. But the deepest and most abiding influence over the years has been Dostoevsky, not for any stylistic reasons so much as for his fierce, spiritual dedication to his art, as well as his devotion to addressing the most pressing issues of his time. He’s far from contemporary, but at times he feels like it.

IFOA: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Steeves: Play to your strengths. Be patient. It’ll come. Or it won’t. But either way, whether you get there or not, it’s worth it to try. I think.

IFOA: What is next for you?

Steeves: I’m working on a novel about office jobs. I’ve been researching it since 2006 by working in an office.

Mike Steeves attended University of King’s College in Halifax, where he received a BA in Political Science and English Literature. He completed an MA in English Literature at Concordia University. Steeves lives with his wife and child in Montreal and works at Concordia University. He presents his debut novel Giving Up, a deeply felt account of what goes on in the inner sanctum of a modern couple’s apartment.