Stephen J. Stirling was born in Los Angeles, California, and grew up in the Southeast LA semi-ghetto of Huntington Park. Graduating from high school in 1970, he received a scholarship to Brigham Young University at the age of 17.
He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism in 1976, and then spent several years wandering America in search of adventure as a professional vagrant. Interspersed through his college career and days on the road, he served a mission in Chile and taught for 8 years as an early morning seminary teacher in various ports of call.
Stopping in Chicago, he entered the profession of advertising, a field in which he ultimately held many positions with companies from the Midwest to the Pacific coast. He eventually settled in Orange County, California, where he established Stirling Communications and spent 15 years as a freelance copywriter, scriptwriter, and video producer. His ghostwriting credits include Richard Simmons’ Deal-A-Meal, andWhere There’s a Will There’s an ‘A’. Other creative works include The Ultimate Catalogue and the comedy album, Latter-day Night Live.
In 1994 he was hired by the Church Educational System and relocated with his family to the Phoenix Valley in Arizona, where he has fulfilled a lifelong dream of teaching released-time seminary for the past 19 years.
He and his wife, the former Diane Leigh, were married in 1981. They have five adult children, two horses, several chickens, and a farm at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri—where they plan to retire someday.
1. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because Satan is real and wages a great invisible war all around us every day, we cannot afford to ignore him or be ignorant of his devices.
2. Briefly, what is the book about?
“Shedding Light on the Dark Side” reveals the nature, tactics and reality of Satan. But he does not claim the starring role in the book. “Shedding Light” is ultimately about the sovereignty of Jesus Christ in the universe, and the choice we all have to make between good and evil.
3. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
My fondest project in the works is my novel. Of course every author has “the great American novel” stashed away in the corner of his head – or in his file cabinet. My novel is as ambitious as “War and Peace” – a five volume spiritual/political action adventure. I took a break after completing part three to write “Shedding Light on the Dark Side.” I’m ready to return to it.
4. What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid. I suppose what inspired me was a unique life – my life – and the adventures of my youth, teenage and young adult years. I wanted to bring the memories of those personal experiences to life.
5. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My best experience came in that simple, glorious moment when I saw, for the first time, the embossed, full-color cover of my book in print – with my name under the title. Wow! The sensation was electric.
6. What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
I was a pitifully anemic consumer of literature as a child and teen. It is embarrassing for me to admit that I can’t remember a book I ever finished in high school. As a result, although I earned a scholarship to a major university at the age of 17, I don’t believe I had an intelligent thought throughout my college career. When I finally rediscovered books after I graduated, a whole world opened up to me.
7. What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Read great literature and write. Write constantly. Keep a personal journal. When you don’t think you have anything meaningful to write, write anyway. The two most important rituals I established in my life were to always have a book I was actively reading and to write every day.
8. Who are your favorite authors of all time?
I have read a lot of books now and possess a huge, well-worn library. My favorite authors in that collection, for power of thought are J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I also enjoy the conversational styles of Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. And for sheer brilliance, I appreciate the writings of LDS defender of the faith, Hugh Nibley. There are a ton of good books out there.
9. What is your favorite movie of all time?
Ah, there is the question. I didn’t read books as a youth, but I watched plenty of movies – critically. The most cherished aspiration of my youth became writing a movie. (And I’ve written quite a few scripts to circulate around Hollywood.) My favorite movie – and the most flawless script I ever read – is the old Bogart classic, “Casablanca”.
10. What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
There are hundreds of awful movies produced every year. But the worst movie – and the worst script — I’ve seen lately was “Mirror, Mirror”. That was particularly disappointing because it had a fine cast. It was one of the few movies I can remember being angry with myself for not walking out of. Stupid! As for TV, practically all of us have watched, with regret, an episode of “Laverne and Shirley”. But nobody seems willing to admit it.
10. What was your family’s favorite book?
As a father, I read to my children every night – religiously. (Those girls grew up loving books!) Our favorite book – and we read it three times – was Tolkiens “Lord of the Rings”.
12. Tell us about your children.
My oldest daughter was a championship runner and is a world-class orchestra trumpet player. My youngest is a budding author, and the best creative writer I know. Another daughter is a talented acrylic artist. My adopted son, Vladimir has personal gifts that will bless him in anything he aspires to. And my middle daughter is hip-hop violinist, and YouTube sensation, Lindsey Stirling. They are all good, kind people. I’ve got a lot to live up to in this family.
12. How long do you generally let a story idea ‘marinate’ in your brain before you start the book?
That’s a tough question because my mind is always marinating. My approach to writing resembles Newton’s approach to invention. When asked how he arrived at the Law of Gravity he replied, “By thinking about it all the time.”
13. Who or what inspired your last book?
This book began as an assignment to give an hour-long presentation on “the nature and reality of Satan” for my colleagues. I accepted the assignment, supposing it would be an easy subject to research. I was surprised to find very little compiled information on “the source and mainspring of all evil.” The book evolved from my research. I don’t believe there is another book like it in print.
14. What’s your biggest challenge as a writer? How do you overcome it?
I think most casual writers are lazy. Only the exceptional among us really know how to work hard, and those are the ones that are successful. Rod Serling once suggested that when you have a problem with a story, don’t leave the table until you resolve it. That takes a tremendous amount of resolve, but it is great advice?
15. How do you overcome writer’s block?
Writer’s block is another issue. When attacked by this carnivorous beast sometimes the best thing to do is to leave. Take a walk, get a snack, or even retire for the evening. The important thing is to give your subconscious enough data to work on while you take a break. Then, as Einstein put it, “the solution will politely tap you on the shoulder while you are eating an apple and say, ‘Here I am.’” It works that way.
16. How do you go about revising/editing?
I give the finished product to my wife, Diane. She is the best editor I know, with a great command of style as well as English grammar. She is also merciless in her pursuit of a readable manuscript – which can make the revision process a very painful experience.
17. Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
I learned from scriptwriting the value of working from an outline. It ensures both structure as well as content, yet allows enough flexibility for the story to still take on a life of its own. That applies to fiction and non-fiction.
18. What is next on your to read list?
Remember, I got a late start, so my ‘to read’ list is always pretty long. I would like to finish Will Durant’s eleven-volume, “History of Civilization”, but other pressing literature continues to interrupt my progress. I’m presently in the middle of volume V.
19. Titles: When does the title come to you as you write the book?
It depends. My new book had a very uncreative working title, “The Nature and Reality of Satan”. I knew it had to change – and I knew it would. “Shedding Light on the Dark Side” grew out of the research. Now my novel has always had an awesome title from page 1 – but that’s another subject.
20. What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?
My favorite part about writing is writing – the actual process. It captures the exhilaration of creation itself, and the power of playing Diety in my own little universe, one which I have given birth to from my own mind, heart and soul. In its pure essence, that is what it means to be a writer.
This or That
TV or Movies? – Movies. Television has become a vast wasteland.
Hot or Cold? – Cold. You can always put more on, the you can’t always take more off.
Night owl or early bird? – It’s a question of discipline. I would like to be an early bird, but. . .
Print or Ebook? – Book. There will always be something special about the feel of pages & the smell of ink.
Chocolate or Vanilla? – Duh? Because chocolate is – chocolate!
City or Country? – Country. Open space, fresh air, and less than 100 people per square mile.
Beach or Pool? – The beach, because you can’t surf in a pool, even in the deep end.
Cats or Dogs? — Dogs. Their love is unconditional.
Heads or Tails? – Tails. Always tails!
Text or Talk? – Talk. I know it’s out of vogue, but if we lose the nuance and power found in the art of conversation, we are doomed as a civilized society
Top Five Lists
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Grapes of Wrath – by John Steinbeck
Gone With the Wind
It’s a Wonderful Life
The Quiet Man
Classic Characters from The Golden Age of Television
Mr. Spock from Star Trek
Lieutenant Columbo from Columbo
Archie Bunker from All in the Family
Preacher Jim from Taxi
Eddie Haskel from Leave it to Beaver
It is time to rip the mask from the master of deceit.
Using the scriptures and modern revelation, Stephen Stirling defines who Satan is and what his role is on this earth. In a way that is engaging and perfect for youth to understand, he evaluates:
– What the scriptures say that Satan is and does
– Where Satan gets his power and why it influences us
– How to be better soldiers in the war Satan is waging on this world
We can overcome this deceiving yet unavoidably real being with the light of truth. The Prince of Peace holds the power to defeat the Prince of Darkness. The only question is where you will stand in this eternal battle of good and evil. Shedding Light on the Dark Side will help you understand the Adversary and his tactics so you can fearlessly stand on the Lord’s side.