Brush Prairie resident pens fictionalization of life experience


Brush Prairie resident Joseph Stevens (J.G. Stevens) tells his life story a little different than most. Using the fictional character Lonny Berry, Stevens uses his life experiences of serving in the United States Navy. 

“The sequence of books, aside from the demons, follows my career,” Stevens explained.

Born in southern Utah in the 1930s, Stevens travelled around the Southwestern United States as his dad picked up various jobs — once as a sheep shearer, another time as a silver miner in Nevada. Once World War II picked up, Stevens said his family traveled back to southern Utah as his dad “didn’t want to be stuck in the mines” during the war. After graduating from Provo High School, Stevens joined the Navy, where he spent seven years serving in the field of cryptographic communications in various countries around the world. 

“I really enjoyed my time in the Navy,” he said. “We would receive messages, decode them, (re)code them and send them out again. It was quite the job; I enjoyed it.” 

After serving in the Navy, Stevens worked for a steamship company until he retired in 2000. Since retiring, Stevens has spent much of his time reading his favorite authors and penning his science fiction series “Children of the Prophet.” 

Stevens said he has “been a reader” for his entire life and has always toyed with the idea of writing a novel some day. Growing up, some of his favorite authors included Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan, and Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Currently, his favorite author is Taylor Anderson, who writes alternate histories of the Earth with science-fiction inspired characters.

The first book in Steven’s series is “Children of the Prophet: Demon Plot” While the general idea of the book followed Stevens career, many other aspects such as demons, gods, and murder were made up by Steven’s while he was writing. Of the two types of writers, “planners and pantsers,” Stevens said he “very much so” finds himself to be in the “pantser” category as he tends to write by the seat of his pants. He said he didn’t plan for any of the books to come out the way that they did, but that’s just how he started writing them. 

Stevens started writing for the first time around 1994, when he wrote his autobiography as a “practice run,” he said. After that, writing came pretty naturally to him and writing the “Children of the Prophet” series was not too difficult.

“This may sound strange but I didn’t find any of (the writing process) hard,” Stevens said. “It all flowed and I really can’t say it was bad at all.”

Stevens said the ease of the writing process came from the fact that he used his own life as a reference point for the book.

“I didn’t have to research anything because I knew the landscape and the political-scape,” he said. “I knew the background and geography.” 

The book series takes place in the mid-1800s and follows the story of Lonny Berry, a “fresh new convert from England” as he fights with possession, and, under the influence of an inner demon, begins teaching his own brand of religion. 

According to Stevens, the book was edited by his niece who helped him with punctuation as needed. After that, the book was self-published through Xlibris, and is available in both paperback and ebook formats on Amazon and through the Xlibris site. The book is also available at Literary Leftovers in Battle Ground. 

For Stevens, the entire part of the writing process is fun and his favorite part is just getting words down on the page. For the future, he plans on continuing to write as much as he can.

“Writing is my favorite thing to do besides read,” he said.