Guest Post: Steven Shrewsbury


BLOG ON WRITING A BIGGER NOVEL with Minimal Masturbatory Back story


PHILISTINE is my biggest novel to date. Not only is that trade paperback version of that sucker big enough to take out a mugger, the actual word length is 137k. That’s a lot longer than I usually do books. I don’t actually set out to write them in the territory of 70k to 80k, typical novel length and typical of my works, usually.

I know the story I want to tell. I’m not a real blabber mouth in print, contrary to how I might be in person. The story tells itself and I have no reason to plan it farther than that and my outline. Granted, the subject matter of PHILISTIEN was epic in proportions I hadn’t quite grasped when I set them on the battlefield in the beginning. It grew and grew, the scope, as I went.

The characters, the regions, the clothes, foods, weapons and attitudes increased as I went, though I tried to maintain my set cast and main folks. I have no desire to write what one reader called a book by a famed fantasy writer “700 pages and nothing happens.” Good night, how do ya do THAT? I spend little time, and certainly not 700 pages, of masturbatory back story (how’s that grab you?) and tell a story. I was once or twice chided for lack of ‘world building’ probably because I assume readers are bright enough to realize this is happening on the EARTH and NOT a fantasy version of the earth set well, in a place that should be the Earth really.

PHILISTINE takes place circa 1000 B.C. The weapons, metals, jars, land lines etc are as accurate as I could make them. Since the Philistines are still a shadowy folk, mostly unknown, I had free rein to make up what I wanted about them…like using their various stripes for gods, Baal, Dagon, Moloch like feuding factions of protestant faiths.   

The novel was fun to write, and not a WORK. I enjoyed spending time in the realm and might return there again to tell more tales. I didn’t write this book as the kick off for a big assed series, however, when ass deep in the words, it occurred to me there were more tales to tell.

But, I didn’t make PHILISTINE really long because I like the sound of my own voice. The yarn tells itself and I needed that many words to get it out. Granted, I knew it was long after a while, but kept my head down and powered forward, like the warriors I write of and I think it came out well. I few pre readers advised me on places it needed stretched or trimmed. It was a more difficult book to get perfect due to such a length, but that wrestling match is another topic.

I told the story. I didn’t make it bigger to brag. I told the story and it was this long. I might just write one that long again.

All in all, it was an interesting journey that started in the summer of 2008 with the rough beginnings. Hell, it really started in my sandbox, circa 1973, as a five year old boy with cataracts rebuilt the plains of Canaan, listened to tapes of the Scriptures and pondered what it meant when they said, “Goliath is a man of war from his youth…”  

Makes one wonder what else I have to write about…



About the Author: STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY lives, works, and writes in rural Illinois. Over 360 of his short stories have appeared in print or electronic media along with over 100 poems. 9 of his novels have been released, with more on the way. His books run from sword & sorcery (PHILISTINE, OVERKILL, THRALL, BEDLAM UNLEASHED) to historical fantasy (GODFORSAKEN) extreme horror (HAWG, TORMENTOR, STRONGER THAN DEATH) to horror-westerns (HELL BILLY, BAD MAGICK, and the forthcoming LAST MAN SCREAMING).

He loves books, British TV, guns, movies, politics, sports and hanging out with his sons. He’s frequently outdoors, looking for brightness wherever it may hide.


Book Synopsis Philistine: The Philistines, a mysterious warrior people known now for mainly one man: Goliath. The giant.

Goliath. A name grander than even the man himself. You’ve heard of his infamous end at the hands of a shepherd as written in a famous book, but what of the life of the man himself? What book tells his tale?

A warrior among warriors, a son of a god, a living legend. Goliath, the warrior champion of the Philistines. On the battlefield, he runs like a horse, wields killing instruments no normal man may heft, and revels in the fear his presence evokes. Off the field, his will is immutable, his trust invaluable, and his appetites unbearable. Goliath. This man knows no challenge.

But such a reputation will not discourage all men. Scheming rulers and generals, prophetic priests and powerful cults, dauntless warriors looking to make their own legend. Monsters. Gods. For one seemingly unkillable, at the very least, these things can ruin an otherwise pleasant day.

Along with his shield bearer, Abimelech, and soldiers more in awe than they are useful, Goliath will set out on missions for kings, face foul magic users, and walk in the shadows of mysterious halls. History tells us Goliath died at the hands of an Israelite.

Goliath may have something to say about that.

Philistine is the first Tale of Goliath, set in the same world as Steven Shrewsbury’s novels such as Overkill and Thrall, and his Blood and Steel: Legends of La Gaul short stories.


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