A Salisbury-based father-of-two’s debut book published today ranks in Amazon’s top ten hot new releases alongside Stephen King's new short stories.

Steven J Dines and his wife Summer moved to Salisbury around a decade ago which has inspired some of the settings for his new release “Look Where You Are Going Not Where You Have Been”. 

The book is a collection of chilling short stories he curated from his favourite pieces written over the past eight years, with two unseen works, and draws on his experiences of family, loss, and parenting.  

The 45-year-old said, “It’s all a bit surreal... since [I was] about ten I’ve wanted to become a writer. 

“I’ve published stories in magazines and things, but this is the first sort of book of my work with my name on it to come out.

“I’m looking forward to it being out there, and people reading it and letting me know what they think.” 

In August, his the collection reached number two on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Horror Short Story genre, sandwiched between Stephen King’s new short stories which took the first, third and fourth spot. 

“I took a screenshot because it was getting a lot of attention on Facebook for some reason, and I think because of that it was getting quite a few pre-orders and things.”

The book is now in the ninth spot, but he noted that it was a “nice moment”.

“When you see your book alongside Stephen King it’s... again I use that word surreal.”

The new book features 11 short stories and novellas, with at least three pieces set in Salisbury: So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words, The Harder It Gets the Softer We Sing, and This House is Not Haunted

Although they are in the Horror section, Steven said he’d rather describe it as “dark literary fiction”, not suitable for children.

Salisbury Journal: Steven with his wife Summer and young sons Joshua, 10, and Taylor, 4 Steven with his wife Summer and young sons Joshua, 10, and Taylor, 4

Steven was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he met Summer who he describes as his moral support, and his unofficial agent. 

“I’ve wanted to write all my life, and she knows just how much this means to me so she’s really supportive. 

“She definitely deserves a commission.”

Not one to miss the moment, Steven confessed his feelings to Summer just before she was about to emigrate to Australia with her mother.

Steven jokes, “I don’t know if she regrets it or not, but she did change her mind.”

She stayed in the UK, and the couple got married 14 years ago at Disneyland Florida. 

They moved to Malta together from Aberdeen with the intention of staying but after having their first son Joshua, who is now 10 years old, they decided they wanted to put down ‘foundations’ and chose Salisbury.

“I never used to set stories [in Aberdeen] because it was so familiar, so when I moved here, I felt compelled... I do find it inspiring.

“We don’t have any family down here which does make it quite difficult. When you’ve got your family around you, you’ve always got a babysitter. But here we sort of struggled with that a little bit.”

Joshua has autism spectrum disorder, which Steven explores in some of his short stories with events loosely based on real life experiences. 

He said the stories are mainly about characters struggling with their past and family, “fathers and sons particularly”. 

“I didn’t really know my father growing up, so I sort of write about father-son relationships and want to explore it in my own work.”

Steven and Summer’s younger son, Taylor, is four years old. 

To support his family, Steven works a nine-to-five job as a legal and medical document proof-reader, a job he feels improves his writing and is often rewarding. 

He is also in the process of writing his second book, a novel, which is more of a gothic thriller, often waking up at 5.30am to work on it before the day starts. 

He said, “You’ve got to love what you’re doing to get up that early and sort of drag yourself to the computer and start."

In terms of his goals, he said “I’ve never thought about money or anything like that, I would just like people to read my work and appreciate the stories... that’s all I’ve ever really wanted out of it.”

You can buy Look Where You Are Going Not Where You Have Been by Steven J Dines as an e-book for around £5 or as a paperback for £12.99 at various locations including Waterstones, Blackwell’s, independent retailer Books from Scotland, and of course Amazon. 

The book features introductions by American writer Ralph Robert Moore and  editor and horror historian Johnny Mains.

It was published by the award-winning UK independent publishers, Luna Press Publishing. 

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