Today I am so pleased to welcome Steven Harper to Joyfully Jay. Steven has come to talk to us about his latest release, Resurrection Men. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Steven a big welcome!


Whenever people ask what I like to read, my usual answer is quite unusual:

I like to read advice columns.

Scratch that. I love to read advice columns. Ask Amy. Miss Manners. Carolyn Hax. Dan Savage. And, of course, Dear Abby. They’re a window into other people’s lives.

What’s the deal? Well, there’s a certain amount of  “Goodness me!  How could anyone get themselves into that situation?” Like the woman who discovered her boyfriend grew up in a doomsday cult, or the guy who realized he was hoarding so much stuff, he couldn’t even get into his house.

It’s also fun to guess what kind of advice the columnist will give, see if it matches what I would say. Sometimes I read the letters aloud to my husband Darwin and we discuss them before checking what the columnist says. It’s more fun when we disagree with the columnist than when we agree!

I’ve noticed that a lot of the problems end up being quite similar, when you look closely. A lot of people write in basically to say, “I’m unhappy in my current relationship. My romantic partner does this thing and that thing, and it scares me/drives me crazy/makes me feel awful about myself. What should I do?”  nd the columnist often says something like, “You need to use your words and tell them to stop doing that. And if they don’t stop, you need to leave.” I always wonder if the writers do.

And then there are the real whack-jobs, the ones that make you say, “Who could possibly think like this?” Like the smoker whose baby was highly allergic to cigarette smoke and wrote in to ask if she could give her baby up for adoption. Or the above-mentioned guy who lived in a houseful of junk. Or the lady who couldn’t stop buying stuff, and her house was filled with clothes, shoes, hats, and small appliances she never even took out of the box. (The columnist suggested she hold a giant garage sale to clear her house out, then let herself go “shopping” once a week at garage sales with $10 worth of ones. And see a counselor.)

But the best part is that these letters are character ideas.

I found Matilda, a secondary character from Resurrection Men in an advice column. The letter-writer said she was falling in love with her best friend, who she had met at a bake sale, and she was fairly sure the feelings were reciprocated, but didn’t know what to do about it. The columnist advised her to tell the friend how she felt and see what happened. A version of this appears in the novel.

And that’s why I devour advice columns.


resurrection menArthur Tor steals the dead for a living. As a resurrection man, he creeps around graveyards with his shovel, hoping to dig up corpses so he can sell them to the local medical college and pay his tuition there. He also holds a strange position in underground society. If someone is dying a slow, painful death, the family members come to Arthur and beg him to end their loved one’s pain. Arthur can never refuse, and he helps the dying cross the threshold without more pain in a process he calls the Black Rounds. Unfortunately, the local judge has gotten wind of Arthur’s activities and has sworn to send him to prison—or the hangman’s noose.

Jesse Fair has fled his corrupt family in Baltimore and landed in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he becomes the town gravedigger and, eventually, the undertaker. He works hard to help grieving families through their pain with warmth and compassion. Some of these families make odd requests for their dearly departed, and Jesse discovers that the undertaker often has to deal with the absurd side of death. But his nefarious family is still searching for him. Relentlessly. And once they find him, Jesse will have to make a terrible choice.

When Jesse catches Arthur in the act of robbing a grave, the two of them form a strange friendship and even stranger partnership that digs deep into social taboos—and into their own souls.

In his first book since his critically-acclaimed novel The Importance of Being Kevin, Steven Harper spins a heartfelt, uplifting story of suspense, life, and love against the backdrop of a Michigan town at the edge of the frontier.

Universal Buy Link:


steven harperSteven Harper Piziks was born with a last name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the name Steven Harper. He grew up on a farm in Michigan but has also lived in Wisconsin and Germany and spent extensive time in Ukraine.

So far, he’s written more than two dozen novels and over fifty short stories and essays. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, lifts weights, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him. He teaches high school English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s funny.


Steven is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post
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