Steve Semken


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This On the Fly interview begins with Iowa author and publisher Steve Semken reading from Soul External: Rediscovering the Great Blue Heron, which Semken wrote with Andrew R. Driscoll. He discusses the process of writing the book and its themes.

Semken acknowledges his work is a blend of fiction and nonfiction. “So I always believe the perfect mix for a book,” he says, “would be 51% fiction, 49% nonfiction.”

Once he has his opening for a new work, Semken gets off to a fast start. “The thing I always need is that first sentence…I kind of explode through a hundred pages,” he says.

Semken makes a distinction between words themselves and their power when combined.

“I don’t think of the words so much,” he says, “I think of the sound of the words and I think of the pattern of the words.”

In addition to Soul External, Semken is the author of Pick Up Stick City: Restorative Fiction as well as several other books. He founded Ice Cube Press in 1993 and has since published books by hundreds of authors of regional and national acclaim.