Missouri Stories Spotlight with Steven Clark

Steven Clark was one of the inaugural Missouri Stories Fellows in 2014 for his feature film, Searching for Jesse, which follows a sailor’s search for a notorious ancestor which collides with a librarian’s bittersweet life. Steven is a Missouri native, US Army veteran, and prolific author.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?

SC: I have been inspired in my work by history, personal experience, and the usual demon inside that has to break out and tell a story. Certainly my screenplays might be influenced by other movies in terms of movement and style, but I still remain a literary person, but can take ideas from anywhere, including comic books, opera and TV, but also classical literature and folk tales. Watch out talking to me: you could be a story!

Tell us about a screenwriter who inspires you and why.

SC: As for screenwriters, I tend to like Andrew Davies. His work on period pieces like Pride and Prejudice and Emma are wonderful, and I like how he hits the mark on dialogue and staging. As he says, he updates some parts so it doesn’t sound too treacly, but keeps the essence. I also enjoy Tamara Jenkins, whose film The Savages is strong and poignant, and Andres Heinz, whose screenplay Black Swan is dark and delightful (written with Mark Heyman and John McLaughlin).

Describe your writing process.

SC: My writing process: Very terrible notes, and I usually walk around a script or story, putting scenes and etc. as I play them around in my mind. LOTS of walking. Then comes a paper draft here and there. Paper, then typewriter used to work, but I’m hooked on the computer in recent decades…was there life before spell check? It takes time, and is fun, then comes the real work of writing, editing, etc. Not as much fun, but still enjoyable, a real “whew! I did it.” It’s a restful accomplishment.

How do you connect with other writers?

SC: I belonged to a writing group in St. Louis for about ten years, and they were very helpful. I gave them full credit in my second novel’s thank yous. I don’t really meet with writers anymore. I have written some in ages past to give them kudos, and a sense of laying on of hands, but I don’t do that anymore. I’m waiting for someone to lay their hands on me. I’m due for that.

How has being a Missouri Stories Fellow affected you?

SC: The pleasure and fulfillment of winning greatly improved my morale, and it was great fun and honor to be part of such a society. There have been no material gains, but the spiritual ones have been quite estimable.

What are you up to now?

SC: Ah, now. I’m self-publishing my other works through Amazon, although two earlier novels were published in independent presses before. I’ve put out five novels, three volumes of short stories, a collection of memoirs, and more works are ready to come out. Midwest Book Review just published reviews of The Green Path and The Saint Louisans. I’m mostly marketing now, but also write essays on Countercurrents, and am considering my (last?) screenplay, a story about my life under Covid. I may consider publishing my ten screenplays…a sort of closet film. I’ve also written several plays.

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