Author interview with Adam Steiner

This month we have an author who’s book is being published next month! So here you can get your first insight into the mind of Adam Steiner, then wait eagerly for his book Politics of The Asylum to be published by Urbane Publications.

About the author


Adam Steiner’s poetry and fiction appear in Low Light Magazine, L’Ephemere Review, The Arsonist, Glove zine, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Bohemyth, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Rockland Lit, Proletarian Poetry, The Next Review, Fractured Nuance zine.

Adam Produced the Disappear Here project: a series of 27 x poetry films about Coventry ringroad.


Describe your ideal writing atmosphere.

Whiskey would be involved ­– ideally quiet – or really good music played really loud [Faith No More’s Angel Dust is a current favourite] – I think it’s all about getting a good flow going, so your hands [pure instruments] just know what to do.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to start?

I poured years into years trying to find some kind of style – and something interesting to write about that isn’t just my world with the names changed [ a la The London Novel ]. It’s also very hard not to just ape other writers you admire – if I could be as jarring and dysfunctional to standardised thought processes as William S. Burroughs managed in a short, terse sentence – I might feel I had attained some powerful  function as an author – rather than just being an entertainer on paper. I’ve had a few failed attempts at writing a novel; PoTA is partly that – but for me it’s a brilliant car-crash of a book that is not altogether one thing.

Describe your writing style.

I think I write quite closed-in, trapped-feeling characterisations; people who dream big but also struggle to reconcile those imaginings with reality – we are all dwarfed by our perceptions and mental expectations – everything falls short of our world-view.

However – with PoTA I was pushing to make something plastic and knowingly artificial, a bit like Naked Lunch – a novel you could finish in pieces – or never pick-up again – but it would still have affected you in an odd, indescribable way you might carry around with you; a reflex of mental detritus. I wanted to try the novel as a pop-art objet d’art.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

What kind of story that hasn’t been written yet do you want to read?

The British Road novel / movie – I would be interested in seeing more grown-up, positive literature [ the world is so often so full of crushing miseries ] we deserve a better representation of the good things – especially a novel that might take the perspective of next generations of children and young people who are so much more awake to racial tolerance and open-mindedness than the old guard of their adult forebears.

Name any authors or books that have had an impact on your writing.

I love Evelyn Waugh [the utter snob] he was defiantly funny, outspoken and utterly contemporary at the time he was writing. J. G. Ballard showed me odd beauty in the painful abstractions of humanity as it drifts from its better natures – more closely aligned to true state of nature. Lewis Carroll displays the quiet power of irreverence and non-sense [japes/antics] which we need to take us out of ourselves. I’ve recently read a bit of James Baldwin [The Fire Next Time] I love non-fiction – it has great stories – he was frighteningly acute and articulate in his excoriations of racism of the USA and colonial powers – no wonder white America was afraid of him.

Describe the moment you truly felt like an author.

Writing the odd good line that really zipped and zinged – made me feel like a lyricist in a rock band – those moments are what make you want to keep going.

What book by another author do you wish you’d written?

I can’t be anyone but myself; so I’ll settle for that.

What is the best thing about writing/being a writer?

The fact that you can change/inspire how people might think and perhaps move them deeply, from the comfortable remove of a written page; you connect without ever having met.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Keep going. Always keep going. For some it’s harder than others – but if you really want to write – you’ll stick with it.

Tell the story behind your latest book, why did you write it?

I worked in the NHS for a few years, as the jacket says, and I saw a few things that made me angry, sad, amused and fascinated; most of it in my early 20s – a place where lots of people die is weird environment for a young mind – I think it shaped me irredeemably. All I can do is take my hat-off to the front-line staff, they save lives every day for little reward.

Most inspiring quote?

“Life is like a haircut, you get a different result every time.” – Anon

Which author (living or dead) would you like to have dinner with?

Probably myself – it would be interesting to watch the lion sweat in the cage of his choosing.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Mad Hatter at the tea party – a riot.

How do you beat writer’s block?

I either have something to say; or I don’t. I think that levels out the playing field.

Give yourself some writing advice.

Be more concise, write stronger stories, don’t be so fucking pretentious.

What are your plans for the future? What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’d like to do more novels, I’ve really enjoyed a spell in poetry but not sure if I am a “pure” poet – if that makes sense? I’d also like to return to poetry films – I’m highly visually responsive – which makes writing and standard communications an odd choice…



Nathan Finewax is a cleaner in a hospital steadily falling apart. He’s working on a ward where staff cheat, lie and steal to get ahead, where targets, death tolls and finance overrule patient care, and every day the same mistakes are repeated in a seemingly unstoppable wave of failures. Nathan is sucked deeper into the hospital routine as he dreams of escape, trying to avoid one day becoming a patient himself in this house of horrors. Based on the author’s experience working in the NHS, Politics of the Asylum is a nightmare vision of the modern healthcare system. Adam Steiner’s challenging debut is a novel for our times, and an emotive and highly original story of people trying to do more than simply exist.

Note: Politics of The Asylum will be available to buy from 8 March 2018, find it on Amazon here.

Watch the trailer for the book here.

Connect with the author:

Twitter: @BurndtOutWard


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