Hello, and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, you know we had to offer something that included a bookshelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to, on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but, no one has dared to cover them. We get personal! Because, when you sit on this “SHELF,” YOU are an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!
Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us, RRBC member, FORREST ROBERT STEPNOWSKI! We have been celebrating him for the last full month of February and today, he gets to sit on the shelf with me!
NJ: Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf? We updated it in 2017 and in all honesty, I can’t recall any accidents lately, so I think this redesign is working. Are you comfy?
Forrest: Thank you Nonnie for having me today, and yes, I am very comfy.
NJ: That’s good to know, Forrest. Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name:
Forrest: Forrest Robert Stepnowski is my birth name. My mother told me when I was born, I reminded her of an old ugly comedian, so she named me after Forrest Tucker. I figured since my identity has always been unique from that day forward, as an author, I should use that authenticity to reach readers who are also unique and different.
NJ: Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?
Forrest: I was born in San Diego, California, but raised on the East Coast and in So-Cal. I currently live in Tacoma, Washington and have lived in the Pacific Northwest since 2000.
NJ: Married or single?
Forrest: I am currently single.
NJ: Any kids? What kind? Do you like them?
Forrest: I have two daughters and an adopted son. I love them more than words could possibly state.
NJ: If you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one started seeking out the A PLACE FOR MOM franchise facility in your area when they were 9?
Forrest: HAHA, considering I work in this industry, I have a feeling they all probably have their eyes on a secured memory care somewhere. My son, however, would probably try and take care of me at home for as long as he could.
NJ: Any pets? What kind? They act like kids, too, so I have to ask the same question…do you like them?
Forrest: I do not currently, but have had both cats and dogs in the past. Maybe one day I will get another fur baby in the future.
NJ: What’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?
Forrest: Well, I do love food. I love cooking a variety of things from scratch. I would have to say that one thing I have caught myself dreaming about is something I do not cook. It is a dish made by someone who is near and dear to me, and that dish is called “Nacho Chicken.” It sounds weird at first, but it is definitely a big comfort food.
NJ: What’s your favorite color?
Forrest: I have two favorite colors; green and blue.
NJ: Favorite sport?
Forrest: I love baseball and soccer.
NJ: Favorite TV Show:
Forrest: Hmmmm. That is a hard one to answer, as I do not watch TV, but I will say that “Grace and Frankie” truly has hooked me. I also love the “Golden Girls”.
NJ: Favorite Actress/Actor…
Forrest: My favorite Actress is Meryl Streep and my favorite actor would have to be Hugh Jackman.
NJ: Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind walking around with a beer belly?
Forrest: I used to love exercising but health issues and a recent injury kind of made me a couch potato; temporarily of course. I have recently picked up exercising recently in the hopes to get healthy again.
NJ: Biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest, so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads. Hey, just being honest. It’s the only way I roll).
Forrest: My BIGGEST pet peeve is when people are dishonest, and when caught, they attempt to cover it up. Honesty goes very far with me, dishonesty, however, gets the door slammed in their zealous faces.
NJ: So, are you neat or messy?
Forrest: It depends on the day. Haha. No, seriously, I am usually a very neat person, however, I have days sometimes when I feel drained.
NJ: Forrest, I took you for being in the neat class of people. Welcome to my world! Good for you! So, are you nice or mean? Is that your perception of you, or is that what others think of you?
Forrest: Well, let me take a sip of my tea for a moment before I answer this question.
NJ: Tea? Did you say tea? Well, let me pull my chair up closer and lean in a bit more so that you can fill me in on all the TEA. I love tea!
Forrest: Well, I can be mean at times. I usually am kind to everyone and believe that everyone should be treated with kindness. But… once in a great while… (sips tea again), there are those individuals who like to push one to the point of temporary insanity and my words could be razor sharp at that moment.
NJ: Oh my! That’s some piping hot tea, Forrest! So, moving on – Facebook or Twitter?
Forrest: BOTH! Life as an author would be useless without either!
NJ: We’ve come to realize that the internet is giving way to tons of budding friendships. Who would you say is the one person you’ve connected with the most…your internet BFF or buddy?
Forrest: Oh my! That is a difficult question. Hmmm… I have met so many people from around the since becoming published, but if I were to pick one that you would be Vashti Quiroz. Another one who be a young man whom sought me out after reading my first book from Germany. I will not disclose his name as he is still coming to grips with his identity, but I have been honored to know him in the past year. Very endearing soul, he is.
NJ: Who’s the one person that you’ve met online who makes you laugh the hardest?
Forrest: The one person that I have met online that makes me laugh the hardest? I hope she is not offended by this but Shirley Harris-Slaughter! She has me cracking up on “Raters Not Haters” sometimes.
NJ: Who do you favor most: Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest.
Forrest: Let’s be honest, Nonnie Jules is WonderWoman. Seriously, without you Nonnie and your encouragement over the past several months, I would not be writing again. You helped me find my joy back, when I was stuck in a world of pain and depression. For that I owe you thanks and gratitude.
NJ: Oh, Forrest. I wasn’t expecting that, so thank you. It’s always an humbling feeling to know that you have helped someone with anything. You are truly an amazing person and it’s been such a joy getting to know you better. Keep growing and being as awesome as you already are! So, we all know that WonderWoman has her truth lasso and (in 3rd person) Nonnie has…well, just her truths, in the no-nonsense way she forces us to be honest and tell it like it is, whether it makes others uncomfortable or not. In your opinion, which one does a better job of making the world a better place? You can be honest here, too.
Forrest: WonderWoman is a fictional caricature of women’s strength. Nonnie is the epidemy of strength for all human beings. My vote is Nonnie.
NJ: WOW! What an awesome, totally unrehearsed response.
(Thanks, Forrest. I’ll pay you under the table when the interview is over.) Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read by RRBC members:
Forrest: Oh goodness, just two? I would have to say Fiza Pathon’s “The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra: Essays”. The other would be Beem Week’s “Strange HWY”.
NJ: Now, how about ONE good INDIE book you’ve read written by an RRBC member that was so good you wished the entire world would read it:
Forrest: I would have to say Vashti Quiroz-Vega’s “Memoir of a Mad Woman”.
NJ: What was so great about it?
Forrest: The storyline was so realistic and honest, you found yourself relating to the antagonist, and feeling empathy for her.
NJ: After you read books, do you post reviews?
NJ: What do you think readers should base their reviews on?
Forrest: I think readers should review books and collections on the storyline, the flow of the story, and the quality of the writing.
NJ: All good responses! Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?
Forrest: Actually, I used to be, however, I have learned that writers appreciate honest reviews. Now that being said, I do not publish public reviews that are not written well unless the author wishes me to do so. I do, however, share the review with the author directly.
NJ: I don’t know about that, Forrest. I come across very few who appreciate being told that their work needs work. I’ve experienced it all from tantrums to folks leaving the club because they couldn’t handle my truth or someone else’s truth in regards to their writing. But, some prefer to be lied to publicly and laughed at as the butt of jokes behind their backs, but, unfortunately, I’m not appeasing any in this area. So, have you read any poorly written books lately, Forrest?
Forrest: Haha, not recently. Not since joining RRBC and reading books and collections from the RRBC catalogs.
NJ: Oh. Well, lucky you. Now tell us how many poorly written books you’ve read that you gave high marks to in your reviews when you knew they were horrible reads? Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.
Forrest: Honestly? Zero.
NJ: Now that’s a super high-five GOOD FOR YOU! A lot of that floatin’ ’round these parts but we’re working to stamp out that problem.
There are some INDIE authors who have come onto the scene and have given our literary playing field a new look. Can you name two INDIE authors who have done this in your eyes? And, how have they changed the field for us?
Forrest: I would have to say Fiza Pathan and Balroop Singh, With Fiza, she has shown us diversity in its rawest and truest nature. She takes her readers on a journey that will take their hearts into a different perspective; one that most would not ever imagine. My fellow poet Balroop is a songbird of truth and in my eyes, has made poetry alive and well in the literary arts. She is a songbird of hope through her free-verse style poetry They have opened up doors for many of us and have made the indie-author a credible form of publishing.
NJ: Are you an author? Are you a good one? C’mon, we love honesty here.
Forrest: I am proud to say that I am an author. Am I a good one? I am my own worst critic. I think many of us can easily tear our own work apart without a blink of an eye. For me, I think the better question would be is my work making an impact of people who read it? That I can honestly say yes. I am bringing positive changes to how people perceive my community. I am also bringing a sense of hope for those who are struggling with their own sexual orientation.
NJ: How long have you been writing?
Forrest: I have been writing since I was twelve years old but did not pursue self-publication until 2018.
NJ: Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?
Forrest: Yes, most definitely. I am becoming a better author because of it. Without honest, constructive criticism, I would not be making improvements with my writing style or growing as a literary artist.
NJ: And I can attest that you most certainly are gracious in taking constructive critiques of your work; it’s what I adore most about you. Forrest, name two books that you’ve written?
NJ: Which one do you think is the best?
Forrest: I do not think I could say which one is better than the other because they discuss very different topics.
NJ: Do you have a blog or website? I love GREAT blogs, so would you say that yours is written well enough for harsh critics like me to enjoy?
Forrest: I do, and my blog is much more improved then it used to be, because of, as you say, “harsh critics” like yourself. I have not written much in recent months, but recently have begun to blog again. My site also discusses different community events I am working on, as well as upcoming books and collections that I am working on.
NJ: As I said, you are definitely good at taking advice and running with it to improve…in all areas. You’re awesome! Forrest, which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?
Forrest: That is the easiest question in this interview; RRBC all the way!
NJ: Yayyyy – all the way! So, how would you say you’ve been helped by RRBC the most?
Forrest: One, RRBC brought me a network of authors from all over the world who are supportive and helpful to younger writers, like myself. The mentorship one received with RRBC is not seen anywhere else. RRBC has also given me opportunities to be a guest host on “Raters Not Haters” this last autumn and be a special guest on “Beyond the Cover” last spring. I have been honored as a “Book of the Month” Author in January of 2019. More recently, my first collection of poetic works received the KT “Treat” International Literary Award “Honorable Mention”, which helped my poetry reach even more readers, like the young man from Germany who I mentioned before.
NJ: Well, it seems you’ve been busy around the halls of RRBC, Forrest! CONGRATS! Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUBmember, so what do you think of the club?
Forrest: There is no other book club organization I would rather be part of than RRBC. You will not find any other organization that provides the support and mentorship you get with Rave Reviews Book Club.
NJ: I agree with you there. Many have tried, and are still trying, but, this model cannot be copied. You have to have one special factor and we’re not going to divulge what that is. Forrest, have you come across any other online entities like RRBC?
Forrest: I have “researched” other entities that portrayed themselves to be like RRBC but did not have the consistency with support and assistance for authors like RRBC has.
NJ: Would you recommend it to your friends and family?
Forrest: I have in the past and will continue to do so.
NJ: Again, good for you! What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC? (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)
Forrest: I have to say each of the programs that are with RRBC are unique and filled amazing content. One of my favorites is the Writers’ Conference & Book Expo.
NJ: Well, OK. Glad you enjoy those programs of RRBC. They are all treats, aren’t they? This shelf is getting hard on my hiney so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our reading audience today?
Forrest: Thank you Nonnie for having me today. I had a blast!
NJ: It was my pleasure to have you with me today.
To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Forrest’s books above. Please be sure to leave him a comment below as he loves to chat! And, I’ll also ask that you drop by his RRBC AUTHOR PAGE to learn more about him and all of his books!
Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet? Well, here’s your chance! And, since Forrest was on the “SHELF” today, tell them he sent you.
Until next time, take care. We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!!
DISCLAIMER: RRBC does not alter the writing of any guest who has participated in our interviews. We post material exactly as it is submitted to us.