SS Hampton, Sr., goes through The Gates of Moses
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He has served in the Army National Guard since October 2004, and holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Please describe your writing environment.
It’s a rather austere and tiny efficiency large enough for a bed, a long folding table and a second kitchen table, with several bookcases for my books and magazines, and storage cases for my DVDs and CDs. As I can’t stand silence I’m always listening to music or have a DVD playing on my flat screen TV. And, that’s about it.
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
I plan the major characters in some detail such as where they were born, year, education, and personalities. I even write a few words about their parents. Strangely enough, probably due to my own background, almost all do not have siblings. I don’t think I’d know how to write about brothers and sisters. Once I have the character established and start writing I have a good idea about how a character will react in what situations. Sometimes though, as the story progresses, the character evolves as well.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
As much as it takes to establish a believable background. Yes. For instance, for a World War II story that takes place in North Africa, I learned of “troglodytes” that live in the Matmata Hills of southern Tunisia. It seems (according to Wikipedia) that not even the government knew of them until the late 1960s, I think, when there were severe rains in the area. Seems this small “branch” of the Berbers (a desert people scattered across North Africa) dig a pit in the ground, build walls around the pit, and then cover their homes with dirt. Basically you wouldn’t notice you were passing through one of their villages unless they emerged from their homes. I knew that “Star Wars” was filmed in Tunisia, but it seems that the home where Luke Skywalker lived with his aunt and uncle is actually a “troglodyte” hotel at the edge of the Matmata Hills (according to Wikipedia).
If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?
Gee – Lady Gaga or Bernard B. Fall? Britney Spears or H.P. Lovecraft? Katy Perry or George Armstrong Custer? What the heck—George Armstrong Custer. Tell me of West Point in the 19th century. Tell me in detail of what it was like to be a cavalryman on campaign in the Civil War; tell me of human courage and foolhardiness, and of the chaos of the noise of musketry and cannon fire, and the blur of smoke and dust. Tell me about the western prairies and the Native people there. Finally, tell me in extreme detail of that day on the Little Big Horn in June, 1876. Tell me why you positioned your cavalry companies the way you did, and finally, tell me of that moment when you realized there was a mistake, and you knew that you and your men were going to die.
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
No. I wish I did with appropriate financial reward to allow me to write full time, but I attend college full time, and I continue to serve in the Army National Guard. I consider myself to be a writer, and I worked for the Federal government when my first story was published. I left Colorado, worked briefly out here in Las Vegas, Nevada, became unemployed, and joined the Guard. I continue to work for the Guard from time to time in addition to monthly drill, but regarding a civilian job—I can’t even get hired to sweep and mop and pick up cigarette butts.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
Breaking free of writer’s block is an act of desperation. There are many things I want to write, but can’t. The motivation, the desire and need to put a story on paper is there, but it’s like trying to break out of a block of ice. But finally, forcing myself to type, though I know what I’m writing is no good, is a first step. I force myself to keep at it a little every day. The words become more than empty shells, they become words full of meaning that strung together, become a story. The old desire of putting a story on paper and editing (I dislike editing) to make it a better story, comes to life. And the writer’s block is shattered.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I have to admit, steampunk. I don’t know much about it, but it sounds like a challenge. And it might even be fun.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
Google “author SS Hampton Sr” and my name will pop up on the first 6-8 pages. Guest blog postings and interviews will give a pretty good idea about me, as well as lead to the publishers of my various writings.
What's your favorite genre to read?
There’s two—science fiction and horror. Unfortunately, I don’t make time to read fiction that much anymore. What I read is mostly research material, and military articles and books.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
THE 24TH OF DECEMBER was a little 2,400 word short story published in 1992. I submitted it to a fledgling literary magazine in Colorado Springs, Colorado, titled JOURNEYS. Journeys was a print magazine published by the owner of a little bookshop located in a former home. To my great surprise it was accepted.
An engineer dedicated to saving Venice from the rising seas, fails in his task. As a severe storm and high tides threaten to burst through the flood walls, he resolves to remain in Venice with a ghostly lover who claimed his heart years before. A woman from his staff who loves him, does not evacuate, but remains to battle his ghostly lover before he dies in a sinking Venice…