Steven Simmons is our RJ Julia Author Spotlight for January. I’m excited because Steven is a novelist turned academic turned novelist again, and he will be approaching Placing Literature from both perspectives.
Steven’s first novel, Body Blows, was published in 1986 amid the Aids crisis in San Francisco, and the book’s main character is credited with being one of the first bi-sexual protagonists in modern literature. The book follows Cal as he goes on the lam after committing a heinous crime—although in self defense—taking him and the reader from San Francisco, to the Berkeley Hills, Oklahoma and Los Angeles. Interestingly, these are places that have had a big impact on Steven’s life, and these observations, lessons and impressions are reflected on the character.
Steven then taught writing throughout the Bay Area, including at Standford and the University of San Francisco. Place was always an element of writing he found fascinating, but it wasn’t until recently when he started mapping Body Blows that he realized how important place is to his own work. He talks about this realization on the Placing Literature podcast with Tim Knox.