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An Interview with Stephen M. Yulish

Conducted by Dr Bob Rich
November, 2002

Stephen M. Yulish has managed to have the following little ‘bio’ posted at perhaps forty web sites, including Amazon, and many devoted to Science Fiction:

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1947, received my BA from Case Western Reserve University in 1969, my MA in 1972 and my Ph.D in 1975 from the University of Illinois. My first book, “The Search For a Civic Religion,” was published in 1980. I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson and then became a Jewish Community Professional in Phoenix. Currently disabled with Multiple Sclerosis, I am co leader of Chayim Chadashim Messianic Fellowship. I live in Flagstaff, AZ with my wife Paula.

Most current release: “The Great Harpazo Deception: the real story of UFOs.”
ISBN 1893162583, recommended retail price $24.95

I chose him for my ‘maiden’ interview at The Fiction Forum because even this short paragraph shows him to be a fascinating person. I was convinced that whatever questions I asked, he would come up with entertaining answers. Here is our interview. Judge for yourself.

FF: Tell us how your writing career began? Was it always something you wanted to do?

Steve: My writing career really began in middle school; the only lessons I really enjoyed were English classes, and a lot of the time we got to write poetry and fictional pieces. I really enjoyed it, so much so that I decided to take it up in my spare time, as a method of putting my imagination to good use.

FF: Steve, your newest book is about UFOs. Have you ever seen one? Describe the experience if you have.

Steve: I have never seen a UFO. In the 60’s, however, I was a Member of several UFO investigative organizations including NICAP and APRO. I was fascinated by theconcept of life on other planets. At the age of 13, I had written a short story about a visit to Mars which I had sent to the popular magazine, Analog Science Fiction. It was not accepted. I attended Case Institute of Technology in 1965 as an astronomy major and even had a class with the famed Erwin Schroedinger. I later changed my major to exobiology, life on other planets. So I have had an interest in UFOs and aliens for quite some time. In May of 1995, I wrote a spec treatment for the popular TV show, the X-files, entitled, “The Catching Away.” I received a response from Kim Brophy, Producer Chris Carter’s assistant, in September of 1995, telling me that they had enjoyed reading my material, but had decided not to use it. However, they did not return the spec treatment. In July of 1996, I received a letter from the Legal counsel for Twentieth Century Fox, informing me that they do not read unsolicited material! He returned the material. At that point, I became convinced that I might have something, but I did not know what to do with it. I created new characters and a more convoluted plot which eventually a couple of years later became the beginnings of my novel.

FF: From your writing, you are clearly fascinated by technology, and about what may be possible. You have certainly used technology to spread the word about your book. And yet, you are one of the few writers in my acquaintance who does not have a web site. Can you explain this?

Steve: I am not fascinated by technology. It is a useful tool for disseminating information. I have a weak 60 MHz computer with 8 meg of ram. I dial up my wife’s computer at the University to get Netscape and webmail. I see no use for a website. People can punch my name into Lycos and get 100+ entries of my articles, books, etc.

FF: Hemingway said, “Write what you know about.” I think you must have paid heed to this: Dawn, your hero’s young wife, is affected by MS, and this is from your personal experience. Can you tell me how your writing career has been affected by MS?

Steve: People have asked me how long it took to write this novel. I tell them, a lifetime. This work is very much autobiographical in many ways. It is also the culmination of a lifetime of searching for the meaning of life. Dawn (my wife’s name is Paula Dawn) does have MS although she is confined to a wheelchair while I, thank God, am mobile. I always wanted to do creative writing. As I said earlier, I wrote a science fiction story 42 years ago as a young boy. I have also written and published poetry and written another novel, “The Other World” in 1978 which was never published. I did a reading of it in a loft in Greenwich Village when I went to New York to talk to Publishers. When I got MS and eventually was unable to “work” anymore (beginning in 1994), the world of creative writing, that I had always sought after, opened up. It that sense, the MS has been a real blessing and I thank God for it!

FF: While we are on MS, I have noticed that your ‘bio’ states you are ‘currently disabled’ by this disease. I admire the positivity of this way of putting it. I am aware that some sufferers have used meditation and similar activities to keep the problem at bay. Are you willing to tell us how you cope?

Steve: God’s grace is sufficient for me.

FF: Your hero Judah is a secret agent, both for Israel and the USA. Is that from your personal experience too? How did you research the background necessary for his career?

Steve: Interesting question! I never served in the Military. I was a Vietnam War protester and served two years in inner city teaching as alternate service. My best friend now, believe it or not, is Don Garrett. He graduated from West Point, flew planes, worked as an astronaut for NASA and was an Engineering Prof. here at he University. He was my military source for information. Also amazingly, another friend, James McCord, who worked for the CIA for 25 years and was special counsel to President Nixon(Watergate!) was helpful. He loved the book and has it on his website and has written positive reviews for amazon.co.uk I also did a lot of research on the internet. I often kid that my main character, Judah, is me from the neck up and Don from the neck down.

FF: How have your religious and academic activities affected your writing?

Steve: I am not sure what you are asking here? My academic activities of course included the writing of an historical book (1980), “The Search for A Civic Religion: A History of the Character Education Movement in America 1890-1935.” I also wrote several academic articles. I also have had my undergraduate senior thesis published in 1970, “Anterior Tooth Reductions in Ramapithecus” in the Japanese Journal, “Primates”. Yes, I eventually graduated with a BA in Human Paleontology! Go figure! That actually leads to the second part of this answer. I was always searching for the meaning of life whether it be from extraterrestrials or from a study of human evolution. I studied philosophy, Eastern Religions, mysticism, the Kabbalah. You name it. In 1988, I finally found what I was searching for, actually He found me. Now without a “job,” without the accolades or achievements of academia (I shared the podium with Stephen J. Gould), sitting all day at my computer writing and responding to people from all over the world, I am happier and feel more fulfilled than anytime in my life. I have a loving wife of 12 years who married me in spite of my MS and a loving God who is my strength when I am weak. It doesn’t get any better than that!

FF: I am impressed by a long list of enthusiastic reviews of “The Great Harpazo Deception” displayed at the Publish America web site www.publishamerica.com. Can you tell our readers something about your strategies in promoting the book?

Steve: My publisher got me on www.amazon.com, and www.amazon.co.uk,jp,de,fr,ca and www.barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, walmart.com, bam.com ,etc., about 30 or so to be exact and that was nice. I have personally got my novel on about 13 others and am working on more. I scan the internet every day for people or groups or organizations that are interested in UFOs, Bible prophecy, Israel, Messianic Judaism etc.. I was just asked to do an interview on a radio show, WakeUp USA-A UFO Study on the Stardust Radio Network. I have been interviewed on Jewish Voice Television. I got my book on www.prophezine.com (a prophecy website), www.sffworld.com (scifi), www.heartofisrael.org (Messianic Judaism).www.armageddonbooks.com (largest internet prophecy bookstore) etc.. I spend every morning marketing my novel and every afternoon writing.

FF: What are you working on now? Are there further books in the offing?

Steve: I am currently working on the sequel to The Great Harpazo Deception. I have about 70,000 words written and it is tentatively entitled. “The End of the Beginning.”

FF: Nowadays, almost everybody has a word processor. Most people have a story to tell. What advice would you give to people who’d like to write a book?

Steve: Stick with it. It is a hard and arduous task but one that is worth taking. If you really feel that you have something to say, than say it no matter what the obstacles or consequences. I needed to tell my story, as much for me as for an audience. I wrote the initial spec treatment in 1995 but my novel did not come out until 2001! Be patient!

Thank you Steve for the chance to get to know you. End

Copyright © 2002 by Dr Bob Rich

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