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Writer's Roost Home Page

Last update: 04 September 2017

Welcome to Steven Houchin's official author website. He is a writer of novels, short stories, non-fiction articles, technical papers, and also performs editing services for other writers. His second novel won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association's 2007 Literary Contest in the Mystery/Thriller category. He was also selected to read and critique manuscript submissions for PNWA's annual literary contest in both 2009 and 2010 for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category, and in 2016 for the Mainstream Fiction category.

Please check out his Writer's Roost BLOG. It contains book reviews, announcements, and articles on the writing craft. Please post your comments on any of the articles. Also, take a look at our list of upcoming Literary Conferences and Contests.

By the way, if you think you are related to Steven, check out his family genealogy website.

News items:

** Steven's latest novel, The Ignominious Idol was selected as a finalist in PNWA's 2017 Literary Contest in the Mysery/Thriller category. With this selection, three of Steven's four novels have reached finalist status, with one chosen as the winner.

** Steven was selected to read, critique, and score manuscripts submitted to PNWA's 2016 Literary Contest for the Mainstream Fiction category.

** Steven's article "A Journey Through Time" appears in the October 2011 issue of Northwest Prime Time magazine. It tells the story of a letter he wrote while in kindergarten that returned to him 49 years later, unopened.

** Steven gave an interview about his writing experience to local Seattle author Norma Nill, which you can read on her blog.

** Steven served as guest blogger at the Literary Liasons site with a posting titled "So, You Want to Win a Literary Contest?" In it, he explains some of the factors that will help your manuscript break through the clutter of contest entries to maximize the chance of winning.

** Steven's non-fiction article "McGraw Square" was published in the Summer 2009 issue (Vol. 23 No. 2) of Columbia Magazine, a publication of the Washington State Historical Society. It details the history of a statue in downtown Seattle that honors John McGraw, who served in the 1880s and 1890s as King County Sheriff and Washington's second governor.



Book Review: The Day of Atonement

The Day of Atonement, by David Liss, is set in 1755 Lisbon during the height of the Church's Inquisition. Englishman Sebastian Foxx has returned after fleeing Lisbon ten years earlier. Back then, he was thirteen year old Sebastião Reposa, a Portugese boy whose parents were arrested by the Inquisition. A family friend whisks him off to England, where he is placed into the charge of Benjamin Weaver, a "thief-taker" (something like a private detective) whose adventures are detailed in some of Liss's earlier novels. Sebastião is brought up in Weaver's rough-and-tumble world of theives and cutthroats, where he learns how to handle himself in tough situations.

Sebastião, now Sebastian Foxx, has returned to Lisbon posing as an ambitious English merchant, determined to exact revenge on the Inquisition's top priest, who is to blame for his parents' deaths. But he quickly discovers others who need his help. Old friends threatened by the Inquisition, the girl he loved as a child, and the man who took him to England ten years ago, who is now destitute because of swindle.

As Sebastian maneuvers to help his friends, and makes plans to kill the priest, he slowly discovers he is being manipulated by a web of lies. Friends turn out to be enemies, and visa versa. He must make atonement for wrongs he commits while acting on the lies, and figure out who can and cannot be trusted. At the climax, nature intervenes with a cataclysm that both frustrates and aids in his mission.

As usual, Liss's prose and historical research immerse the reader in the culture and era of 1755 Lisbon, making the story thoroughly believable. Sebastian Foxx is both a failure and hero at various points in his adventure, gullible to misinformation fed him, then cunning and ruthless when necessary to turn the tables. The reader can feel something is amiss, and that Foxx is being set up for a fall, but Liss keeps us guessing.

The book is 363 pages hardback, but is so engrossing it becomes a quick read you can't put down. I've read many other Liss books (see my earlier review of The Coffee Trader), and this one is as compelling as the others. Highly recommended.

Steven Houchin -- 23 August 2017

To see previous essays and musing about writing, please visit my Web Log.