Steven Spitzer has a literary taste for the twisted, but some of his unconventional plot lines originate from his own life experiences.
The 29-year-old Lake Butler resident published his first three books in September.
“I just let it go dark and twisted and see just how weird I can get,” Spitzer said. “I’m not trying to be gruesome, even with all the ones I am gruesome on.”
Amazon released his most recent book, “The Snake Before Christmas,” on Sept. 23. Spitzer’s time working at The Gourmet Rodent in Newberry, where he performed ultrasounds on ball pythons, influenced his retelling of the classic story “The Night Before Christmas.”
“Everyone hates snakes, really,” he said. “So I’ve always wanted to do something to make people like them a little more and make it the hero of something.”
Spitzer said he wasn’t always interested in writing. As a shy, withdrawn middle school student, he loved reading science fiction novels, a hobby that he said influenced his own writing.
He enjoyed writing in high school, but it wasn’t until his last year of college, while pursuing a bachelor of fine arts with a concentration in ceramics at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, that he considered writing as a hobby. One of his final ceramics projects required him to write a description of his work, so Spitzer decided to get creative.
“I didn’t want to do something boring,” he said. “So, I just made it a narrative walking you through the whole thing, and I really enjoyed writing that.”
Spitzer began writing short stories as a creative outlet, many of which ended up in his second published book, “A Giggle in the Darkness: Twenty-Four Dark Comedy Shorts.”
He wrote his first book as a favor to a friend, a baker, who didn’t know what to tell her customers when they asked about the scar on her cheek. Amazon published the book, “A Month in the Life of Laura the Baker,” on Sept. 15.
While working on the book, Spitzer decided to give his friend plenty of options. His paragraph-long tale turned into a 232-page book.
“With Laura, she was such a strong character – and she is such a strong person – she took on a life of her own,” he said. “I ended up just throwing situations at her with no idea how she was going to get out of it, and she would work her own way out.”
He attributes a certain alligator episode in the book to his experience working at the alligator farm at Cypress Creek Farms in Starke, but most of the other content is purely fictional.
Spitzer researched publication options, and he eventually opted for CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing service that leaves the power in the writer’s hands. Once he saw the book in print, he realized he wanted to make the book available for anyone to purchase.
“I remember holding the book and saying, ‘Oh wow, this is so cool,’” he said. “Not the most sophisticated reaction, but it’s amazing to see your name in print – see something that you designed, words that came out of your head – actually printed.”
Amazon published his collection of short stories, “A Giggle in the Darkness,” the day after it published “Laura the Baker.” One of the stories, “The Lake,” is set at Butler Lake, and it expands on an old, little-known local legend.
Spitzer said that despite some of their shocked reactions, his friends and family fully support his work.
“I’m impressed with the way he comes up with an idea,” Spitzer’s friend David Stegall said. “It just seems neat how he can flow through with taking the story in his imagination and putting it into words on a page and have it all make sense.”
Spitzer said his next project, a story told from the perspective of his dog, Lincoln, portrays life with Spitzer.
“It’s easier now than ever before to get a book published,” Spitzer said. “You might as well go for it.”