Steve Spithray – Q&A

Steve Spithray
Steve Spithray

Steve is a music journalist and freelance writer who has written for NARC. Magazine, God Is in the TV and Corridor8 visual arts magazine. Steve’s debut creative non-fiction book, From Shrug to the Moon… The Robert Nichols Story, was published by Sixth Element Publishing in 2021. His second book, How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant: The True Story of Press On Vinyl, will be released by Butterfly Effect in October 2023 and will be the first book in the UK published by a record label.

Steve can be found at:
Twitter: @underthehillss
Instagram: @howtobuildyourown

Tell me what inspired you to write your new book?

People, always people.

What came first the characters or the world?

The characters, the first time I met them I knew the world would easily follow. I realised a while ago I’m really writing about people regardless of the subject matter or context. How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant: The True Story of Press On Vinyl is only about the pressing plant on the surface. Really it is about the people that work there, their relationships with each other and how they change over the course of the book.

How hard was it to get your book published?

It was easy to get a publisher interested but then there were some logistical problems along the way. We originally costed the project based on a limited run of high-end hardbacks that would help pay for the bigger paperback run however then the costs of cardboard (particularly the special cardboard we needed to package a free 7” vinyl in the cover) trebled meaning we had to scrap the hardback altogether.

How long did it take to write?

It was written in real time following the first year in business of the record pressing plant, so one year. I wrote it month by month, transcribing interviews and writing around those which then informed the following chapter. Then there was quite a bit of editing which the brilliant Francoise Harvey mostly took care of, so all in about 15 months.

How many publishers turned you down?

One but they signposted me to Butterfly Effect who did publish the book.

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

People from all over the world who have set up similar pressing plants have been keen to read the book to compare experiences. I wasn’t expecting that.

Press On Vinyl
Press On Vinyl

What can you tell us about your next book?

Lol, my girlfriend would kill me if she knew there was a next book!

Do you take notice of online reviews?

The first two or three but after that all publicity is good publicity.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

I’d like to write more and more creatively within the non-fiction genre and see how far I can go with it. I really loved Cuddy by Ben Myers which I consider to be just about still in the creative non-fiction genre.

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I’m a paralegal and freelance writer. If I could successfully combine the two that would be perfect.

Which writers inspire you?

Tom Wolfe, Lester Bangs, AA Gill, 90s music journalists, Maria Sledmere…

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

It’s really important to me and I had the final say on this cover. We chose the designer (Rob Irish) very carefully but having said that we then only gave him the colour bar you can see on the spine as a brief. I love this cover so much. Rob’s a legend!

How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant: The True Story of Press On Vinyl
How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant: The True Story of Press On Vinyl

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

The Book Shop in Wigtown. A timeless treasure trove of books and stuffed animals in the wilds of South West Scotland.

What books can you not resist buying?

Music biographies. My favourite ever is Nick Tosches’ Hellfire about Jerry Lee Lewis. It reads like great post-war American literature.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

I’m always reading two or three at a time but I don’t ever let it get any bigger than that.

What is your current or latest read?

I’ve just finished Alex Niven’s The North Will Rise Again.

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

Not really, something very cool (and very me) later in the year maybe but Arts Council dependant at the moment.

Any events in the near future?

Depending when this goes out, I’m doing a book reading at an Industrial Coast experimental noise night on March 2 in Middlesbrough. It’s very niche but a very inclusive little scene of like-minded people from all over the country, while some of the performers are internationally recognised in their fields.

and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. For me the epilogue is still the benchmark for creative non-fiction.

Bottom Ko-Fi

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