Steve Robertson has lived in the Jacksonville community for over thirty-seven years. During this time he has been an educator in the Duval County School System and recently retired from his position of Assistant Principal at a local school. In 1998, he became involved with local author, G. W. Reynolds III of the “Jetty Man” series as a cover artist, editor and illustrator for his novels. The novels and illustrations can be seen at www.jettyman.com . Like many people, Mr. Robertson had always wanted to be an author. With the publication of his highly successful first novel, “Ranch Boy,” it became a reality. He now has a second book in print, “Acorns of Love and Wisdom,” which is a lovely little book of poetry. Mr. Robertson now has two more books ready to be published. The first is a “how to” book “Soccer Made Easy For Americans,” which will be available in mid-October, and the second is a novel, “Bottom Time.” Check out his website www.ranchboybooks.com
We met through my association with an online community called Author’s Den. I have also found Steve’s writing to be interesting, unique and emotional. So it is with great pleasure that I bring to you, Steve Robertson.
Aneeta: Hello Steve. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. You know, Steve, I am on your email list and you send some of the most beautiful panoramic pictures of the area where you live. Can you tell us a little more about this area, it’s history, the people and really life in general in your corner of the world? You see, most of my readers live in Asia and Africa and places like that are just seen on TV!
Steve: I live in Neptune Beach, which is on the Atlantic Ocean outside of Jacksonville, Florida. It is located on a barrier island that begins on the north bounded by the St. Johns River and runs south to St. Augustine. It is separated from the main land by the Intra Coastal Waterway. The Intra Coastal Waterway runs the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, culminating in Key West, Florida.
There are a series of beach cities that start with Mayport that runs along the St. Johns River. Mayport is a rustic, sleepy little fisherman’s village that G. W. Reynolds wrote about in his Jetty Man series. Going south from Mayport, is Atlantic Beach, which extends about 10 miles to Atlantic Boulevard.
Neptune Beach borders Atlantic Beach, south of Atlantic Boulevard and extends two miles south, to where Jacksonville Beach begins. Jacksonville Beach is about 10 miles long and ends at the Duval County line. There, St. Johns County and Ponte Vedra Beach begin.
This area is known as the “First Coast” because it was one of the earliest areas in the United States settled by Europeans. There are many old forts and other buildings that still exist. One such fort is Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine. See at: http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/castillo/castillo.html
This is an absolutely beautiful area. Palm trees grow everywhere and the weather is very pleasant most of the time. We do get the occasional hurricane or Nor’Easter, and occasionally it will drop to freezing, but those are rare. The beaches are very wide and the sand near the water is very hard which is great for jogging, walking or biking. The waters abound with fish and fishing is one of my favorite pastimes.
Aneeta: You never, know, someday I might actually see these places you speak of. Now on to another thing that fascinates me – your cooking. Only recently, I received from you, this recipe:
NEW SPAGHETTI SAUCE RECIPE
February 6, 2005
2 CAN 14.5 OZ HUNTS DICED TOMATOES
3 CANS 14.5 HUNTS TOMATO SAUCE
1 CAN 6 OZ HUNTS TOMATO PASTE
1/3 CUP FRESH OREGANO CHOPPED
2 CANS 28 OZ HUNTS WHOLE TOMATOES
2 LARGE SLICES BACON
MUSHROOMS (FRESH) 2 – 8 OZ PACKAGES
5 LEAVES FRESH BASIL CHOPPED
2 LBS. FRESH GROUND BEEF
FIVE SAUSAGE (HOT DOG SIZED)
2 YELLOW ONIONS MEDIUM SIZED
7 CLOVES GARLIC CHOPPED SMALL
2 CUPS FRESH WATER
FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER
Start two slices of bacon frying in the bottom of a large saucepot (about 8 quarts). When the bacon has fried, remove and set aside. Pour in two tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the ground beef out on the counter in a thin layer and sprinkle Worcestershire sauce over it. Add salt, grind on black pepper, and sprinkle on some dried oregano and garlic powder. Mix the ingredients into the ground beef uniformly. Roll the beef into meatballs the size of a golf ball and put it in the bacon grease to cook. Turn until the meatballs are browned uniformly. Slice the sausages into one-inch links and add them to the pot. Before the meat is done, chop up the onions, oregano, and add to the bacon grease with the meat in the bottom of the pot and sauté. When the onions start to get clear, add the mushrooms and pour in all of the cans of Hunt’s and the two cups of water. Chop up the bacon and add it to the mixture.
Turn the fire on as low as possible and cook for at least two hours, stirring often. The sauce must cook for a long period of time for the ingredients to meld properly.
Aneeta:So, Steve, my question then to you is this: do you like cooking and why?
Steve: Well, now, I eat don’t I? Actually I am an artist. I enjoy any form of creativity. Cooking is one of them.
Aneeta: I know that you have written a few books. Can you, for the benefit of our readers, describe each of them here, please.
Steve: This story takes place in Sebring, Florida in 1959. It is a story that any one can enjoy. Adults especially like the story because it takes us back to the age where we first became an adult. The boy, Robbie Duncan, and his family move to the city of Sebring. Robbie has just turned 15 and hard old dad says, “Go get a job!”
Robbie finds a job on a ranch. First, he learns that it is hot, back breaking and dangerous work. But he loves it. He loves the out of doors, he loves the big animals, he enjoys being with the hard working, honest cowboys and he loves nature and the wild animals. He has many experiences, some hilariously funny, some dangerous and life threatening. And he learns to be a cowboy.
He is raking his yard one day in the new house on a lake, when he looks up and sees a beautiful girl walk out of the house on the corner. He is smitten and too shy to speak to her at first. He’s never had a girlfriend before. They do eventually begin a dialogue and eventually she accompanies him to the movies where he schemes to hold her hand. Days later he decides he wants to kiss her but doesn’t know how. He devises some hilariously funny schemes here as well. That relationship matures, albeit later secretly, because his father and her mother try to keep them apart because they fear the youngsters will get in trouble together.
Robbie has many adventures in football, in the community with his friends and on the ranch. Towards the end of the book, he has matured physically, emotionally and intellectually to a great degree and performs some heroic acts that save several lives.
Perhaps the best description would be one a lady wrote for the rear cover of the book:
In no way does Steve Robertson, at 6’4″ tall and 250 lb., fit the stereotypical image of the sensitive, soft-spoken poet. In fact, there’s nothing delicate about the rugged, hulking frame of the coach/athlete, educator/author, except his heart. The compassion in Steve’s heart is reflected in his poetry and his art. In “Acorns of Love and Wisdom,” a lifetime of experience is described in words of beauty, wonder, tragedy and triumph. With threads of love, humor, irony and elegance, Steve weaves a spell-binding tapestry of life. Susan D. Brandenburg, Journalist
This book is due out any day. See at www.ocean-publishing.com I coached soccer for 30 years and played for about 22. This book is loaded with text and photographs, which detail all aspects of watching, playing or coaching the sport. Soccer is the fastest growing sport in America and youth leagues have sprung up everywhere. This is an excellent resource for the individuals involved in these or in school soccer.
Currently, I am publishing another manuscript. Bottom Time – I hope to have this available by mid year. Bottom Time is a delightful novel where in the same character from Ranch Boy, Robbie Duncan, graduates from college and moves to Jacksonville Beach to take a teaching job. Robbie begins scuba diving. When one dives, the amount of air in the tank, the rate of exertion, the depth, and the water temperature all determine how long the diver can stay down. This is called bottom time.
Robbie has many exciting adventures diving. I was a diver and actually dove professionally, bringing up ships and airplanes from the bottom. I kept a log and was able to use my experiences as a basis for the fiction I wrote. On the way out to the dive sites, however, the boat took as along as two or three hours to get there. Robbie would drift back in his mind to his crazy, Animal House like days in college. He was quite a wild young man and did some hilarious things. He was also with many beautiful women.
In the beaches area, Robbie had the ideal bachelor pad on the beach. He was huge, well built and handsome. And the ladies loved him. There, plus with the ladies in college, Robbie was quite the ladies’ man. Also, Robbie’s favorite part of the female anatomy was the bottom so he had Bottom Time there as well.
The last manuscript I have and hope to publish by year-end is Until Death Do Us Part. You, Aneeta, are reading that and perhaps you will add your comments here?
Aneeta: I am reading it, yes. I am enjoying it immensely. It’s very emotional and more often than not, I have to stop because after living with someone who was terminally ill, some of the scenes are a little too close for comfort.
Steve: I have felt the pains of tragedy from an event that causes death or severe injury to a loved one. In my story one of the characters is made a quadriplegic by a horrible accident. The mate is forced to suffer along as well because of the tremendous love the two will always feel for each other. Robbie Duncan is still with Brenda Paulson from Bottom Time. This story explores the thoughts and actions of the two as they struggle to cope with the disastrous change the accident has brought into their lives.
Of course the first part of the novel is loaded with love and adventure. So it isn’t all struggle. This may be my best work so far.
Aneeta: Well, good luck. I hope it is so for you. Now, being a fellow writer, I am well aware that most authors have a pool of ‘horror stories’ where publication of their books are concerned. Can you share with us some of these stories, please?
Steve: Yes, I got screwed on my first book because of the publisher keeping all of my money, including royalties of in excess of $5,000 and shutting down the business. I know how that goes but fortunately, I was able to salvage 1,500 printed copies so I may make it out okay — albeit someday.
Aneeta: What advice then would you give to people who are considering publishing a book?
Steve: Don’t think about money. Of course you have to be wise, but I published because my love of the craft and creativity and because I always admired authors. But, as far as the actual publishing is concerned, today everything in the publishing world has changed in just a few years due to computer capabilities. Therefore you should do a lot of research and ask advice from people who have published. If you know someone who has had a good experience with a publisher, use the same one. Be sure to examine examples of the product the publisher produces. Some produce trash. I was lucky, because at least my first publisher had class A people working for him and Ranch Boy is a beautifully crafted, hard cover book.
Aneeta: Now Steve, I am going to touch on a sensitive topic here. About a month ago, you sent to us a beautiful picture of your daughter and information that she was going to be featured in ‘SuperBowl’. Now, what struck me in your message was the fact that you mentioned that on the scale of importance, SuperBowl was second only to the World Cup. You see, Steve, until last year’s incident with Janet Jackson, many people, just like me, living in Asia, had no clue what this SuperBowl is and how important it is to Americans. My sensitive question is this: being American, do you think that in the global market, it has become obvious that what is important to Americans ultimately becomes important to all? If yes, then how did this happen and why? Indeed, should it be so?
Steve: Actually, I got my college education by playing football on full athletic scholarship. Remember, however, that I have written a book on soccer which is the football most of the world enjoys so I am very open minded. I watched the Super Bowl, but it was nothing compared to the joy I get from watching World Cup. As far as Americans, there are as many thoughts about the global market as there are people. Most of us don’t think much about that. I suppose people in all countries think there way is the best way. The Super Bowl is actually all about power and money.
Aneeta: Just yesterday, I read in the newspaper of an incident where two teachers began to hit each other during a school assembly … all this in the presence of the students. Being a retired Assistant Principal of a school, what do you think is the one quality that a teacher/educator should have to motivate his/her students?
Steve: Love and creativity. It is important for our educators to “be real.” What I mean by that is that we need to have successful, enjoyable lives filled with experience, education and adventure. It is important to realize that the stick with the carrot hanging from the end to entice the donkey to move forward is far more successful than using a stick from behind to try and motivate it by striking it. Setting good examples and being friendly, firm, and fair work best. I could write a whole book on this subject but that is not the intent here.
Aneeta: Well, I think that wraps it up. Thank you Steve. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Steve: Thank you for this opportunity. If anyone would like to contact me, they can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my website www.ranchboybooks.com. They can also see more of my cover artwork and illustrations at www.jettyman.com
Aneeta: My pleasure.
This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.