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.
** 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
** 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
** 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
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