After years of helping students at Salt Lake Community College on the road to realizing their dreams, John Steiner is about to realize one of his own. A 1998 graduate of SLCC and the lead tutor at the Learning Center on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, Steiner will soon have a published book title to add to his resume.
“When I was a kid I was kind of disappointed in a lot of the science fiction I was seeing. In junior high in my English classes I didn’t like writing in my journal, so I started writing short stories. I would just write something that I thought was more interesting than my own journal would be,” Steiner said.
Steiner said that although he feels much of his writing ability has come to him naturally, he is a much improved author from the junior high days. Inspired by authors such as Michael Crichton and Isaac Asimov, “Squad Five,” the title of his soon to be published work, is a culmination of that improvement. The work will be published in late September.
In short, Steiner indicated that the book is about how a country like ours would handle a vampire invasion, calling it a metaphor for counter-terrorism.
“Kind of Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy territory,” he said. “I tell a true story through a science fiction context. That’s the beauty of science fiction. It allows you to say things that you otherwise could not get away with. You can’t do the immorality of the Red Scare when it deals with Soviets, but if you do the immorality of the Red Scare and it comes to Martians, you can get away with that.”
Given the premise of “Squad Five,” perhaps it is ironic that Steiner’s first day as a tutor at SLCC was September 11, 2001. In the nearly 10 years since that day, Steiner recalls having helped a variety of students on their way to success, from a future detective to a blind student who is interested in writing fiction like Steiner. He even recalled being stopped on the street by an individual who yelled, “I passed chemistry because of you, man.”
“The thing about working here is that you are affecting people’s lives for the better,” Steiner said. You’re helping them get through a hurdle that they are having, and at the same time you are inspiring them to achieve great things regardless of their start. You get them past that one speed bump and it’s an open highway for their career. It’s the butterfly effect.”
Calling Steiner “the resident expert” on many subjects that students have questions about, Avani Vyas, the Tutoring Coordinator at the Learning Center feels that Steiner’s success is an important story for SLCC students to know.
“We have every reason to be inspired by it,” Vyas said.
As much knowledge as Steiner has imparted to a countless number of students over the years, he feels as though he has learned some important things as well.
“Everyone leads by example, even if they don’t intend to,” he said. “So the best way to help other people is to set that example. That’s what I’ve learned as a tutor here. These small things do help tremendously in people’s lives.”
In talking about what has made him a successful author, Steiner points to the persistence that he has tried to show throughout his life.
“That’s one of the best properties a student can have,” he said. “If you persist you will prevail. You just have to get a hold of the problem like a dog on a bone.”
As far as last advice that Steiner would give to students, he urges an attempt at what he has given much of his life to.
“Experiment with writing,” he said. “You’ll learn things about yourself when you do so.”
To obtain a copy of “Squad Five,” visit www.melange-books.com in late September. Steiner indicated that the book will be available in eBook format, as well as print-on-demand.