Interview with Shea Stevens, Outlaw Biker

I have created a fictional interview with Shea Stevens, the main character from Iron Goddess, Snitch, and the upcoming Blood Sisters. The interview questions were provided in part by my wonderful, creative fans. Which left me the fun, yet challenging job of coming up with answers.

A word of warning! Shea has a bit of a mouth on her, just as she does in the books. Enjoy!

Dharma Kelleher: How old were you when you first rode a motorcycle?

Shea Stevens: I ain’t exactly sure. I vaguely remember riding in my father’s lap on his old Harley panhead. When I was eight or nine, he got me a mini bike, which I rode around the neighborhood. I started riding a motorcycle solo around age fourteen. Didn’t have my license or nothing. But by then I’d been riding a while, so I never had no problems. Just had to make sure I didn’t get caught by the cops.

What is it that you like about riding motorcycles?

Geez, how to describe it? In a word, freedom. It’s like you’re fucking flying. Whether you’re winding through some twisties in the mountains or riding like a bat outta hell on the open road, it’s just an amazing feeling. Wind therapy bikers call it. There’s a Buddhist biker gal I know, she says it’s better than meditation.

What was it like as a kid growing up around a biker gang?

Shit. Started out pretty fucking awesome. Then everything went to hell.

What did you like about it?

It was like having this big humongous family. Everybody looking out for ya. And things got kinda wild at times.

cover art for iron goddess

But then things got bad.

Yeah. It’s crazy, ya know. There was a lotta bad shit going on all around me. Especially toward women. The guys were fucking animals. They couldn’t even spell the word consent, much less know what it means. Women were considered property. Said so on the back of their cuts. But it never really sunk in, until that morning Ralph killed my mom.

Ralph was your father?

Yeah. A goddamn fucking murderous asshole.

What’s it like to be a female outlaw biker?

First of all, I don’t consider myself to be an outlaw. Yeah, I did some time, but that was years ago. I tried to live an honest life. Thing is, sometimes that ain’t always an option. But I do the best with the cards I get dealt, ya know?

After your mother was killed and you ran away from that life, you turned to stealing cars. What led you to that choice? And do you regret it?

I was fucking fifteen and a runaway. And I sure as hell didn’t wanna get stuck in some foster home. But I was too young to get a legit job. So I did what I had to to earn a living. I knew how to break into cars. Found some people willing to pay me for it. Why the hell not? Do I regret it? I regret that I got caught and got sent up for seven years. That’s what I regret.

What was prison like?

What d’you think it was like? It wasn’t no Camp Cupcake, I’ll tell ya that.

Mostly I kept my nose down and did my time best I could. Every so often some bitch would try to start something, but I’d quickly put an end to it. Spent more time than I’d like in solitary. More than anything else, I missed riding. I missed the open air and the wind in my hair.

Snitch cover art

After you got out of prison, you got a job working for Lenny Slater’s motorcycle repair shop. What was he like to work with?

Lenny, man. He was the father I wished I’d had growing up. Fuck, you’re gonna make me cry, aren’t you?

First day I met Lenny, he looked at me and said, “Girl, this is your chance to make a life on your terms. To put all the shit in your past behind you. No easy ride, I’ll tell you that. But you can always count on me to give you an honest shake.” And he did.

See, he lost his own son to drug addiction. Heroin. So then he starts hiring folks coming outta prison. Second-chancers what he called us. He made us work hard, but he taught us to appreciate it. Never took advantage of us. He was a good man.

After Lenny died, you and Terrance Douglas became business partners. You two are very different, and yet you’ve managed to make it work somehow. What’s your secret of success?

Terrance is a fucking genius when it comes to running the business. He handles all the financial stuff and the marketing. Sometimes he gets on my nerves with his talk about branding and ROIs and shit, but the place wouldn’t be there without him. And he lets me do my thing, which is building bikes. And I fucking love it.

We got a good crew. We’re like a little family. Which ain’t to say we don’t piss each other off every once in a while. But usually we can work it out.

Who came up with the concept for Iron Goddess Custom Cycles?

That was all Terrance. He got the name from some Chinese tea he saw somewhere. It was called Iron Goddess tea. Dunno why. But he thought it’d be a good name for the shop since we make bikes for women.

Why specialize in motorcycles for women?

Most bikes are designed for men. In fact, there are a lot of bikes just too damn tall, even for me. So when we were rethinking the shop, Terrance suggested the idea and asked me if he thought I could come up with bikes with a lower seat height, but which didn’t sacrifice clearance or comfort. I said hell yeah. And after a while, we started getting some publicity and business really took off.

Your shop is located in a tiny town about fifty miles north of Phoenix. Ever thought of moving to the big city?

Not just no, but hell no! I like the open road too much. Phoenix is crowded, full of distracted drivers, and about ten to fifteen degrees hotter in the summertime. You couldn’t pay me enough to live in that mess.

How’s your love life?

Ha! What love life? I was dating a woman from Scottsdale. Really hot. Really girly. But honestly, she was outta my league. Only reason she was dating me was that she had a thing for bad girls. And honestly, I’m a lousy girlfriend. Not because I want to be, but because I’m so goddamn busy. I got the shop to run. Now I’m raising my niece. Just don’t have time for romance.

When did you know you were attracted to women rather than men?

I dunno. Since I was a teenager I guess. Bodies started changing. Hormones start to raging. There was this girl, Heather. Her father was a Thunderman, just like mine. We’d wander off into the woods and make out. I knew without a doubt, I was a born-in-the-wool dyke.

Did you come out to either of your parents?

Hell no. They probably suspected. I mean, I wasn’t exactly a girly girl, ya know? But we never talked about it.

What does the word family mean to you?

Aw shit. I guess it depends on how you mean. Right now, family is the people who love you and accept you just as you are. The ones who always got your back. Don’t got nothing to do with blood. That’s what it means to me, anyway.

You reconnected briefly with your sister before her death. What are your feelings about that?

Now I know you’re trying to make me cry. Fuck. It’s like some Oprah interview or some such. [wipes face]

I’m sad that she couldn’t get away from the Confederate Thunder like I did. The Thunder fucks women over. Domestic violence, rape, drugs, all kinds of shit. A lot of them don’t make it to forty.

Sometimes I wished I’d been able to take her with me after Mom died. But I was just a kid. Barely able to take care of myself, much less anyone else.

I’m pissed off that she got caught up in the shit created by the Thunder’s drug running. But ain’t nothing I can do now but accept it and move on. That and take care of Annie, my niece.

If you could say one thing to your mother, what would it be?

Jesus Christ, I don’t know. Maybe that she was right. She tried to warn me. She begged me to run away with her. I was just too stupid to see it then.

If you could say one thing to your father, what would it be?

I got nothing to say to that son of a bitch.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

[laughs] Staying alive as long as I have. That and raising Annie. It was crazy at first. Suddenly being responsible for someone. But she’s doing good. So that, I guess.

If you could change one thing about your life or one major decision you’ve made, what would you change?

Honestly, I’ve done a lotta stupid shit. Maybe I would’ve reached out and tried to find my sister sooner. Might coulda got her out of that lifestyle. But who knows? Woulda, coulda, shoulda. It’s all blood under the bridge.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still alive, hopefully. Watching Annie graduate high school, something I never did. I really don’t think about it that much. Maybe I’ll finally meet that special someone, but honestly, I can’t imagine anyone putting up with my shit. I’m just too much trouble.

I hope you enjoyed this fake interview with Shea. I tried to avoid too many spoilers for those who hadn’t read the books. But still keep it interesting. Let me know what you thought.

Book three, Blood Sisters, will be coming out in October. I’m hoping to have a cover reveal in the next couple of months. So stay tuned for that.

dharma kelleher books