Alan Steven Kessler

  • Fiction & Literature

Alan Steven Kessler

I grew up in a small town in Ohio. When most people think of the Midwest they imagine wholesome families with good values.

Mine was quiet different.

My mother was mentally ill and sadistic; my father brutal and a murderer who, sentenced to the electric chair, died in prison. I learned at a young age that sometimes monsters, the human kind, masquerade as parents.

Fortunately, I survived. I am happily married, have four great kids, a dog, and love Ohio State football.

But in my second novel, Shadowlands, I've written about the dark side of resiliency.

Alan Steven Kessler welcomes queries regarding:
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"Kessler's textured prose and intense imagery perfectly frame this disquieting psychological thriller."

Kirkus Reviews


Hometown Bexley, Ohio

Favorite author Charles Dickens

Favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird

Day job karate school owner/teacher

Favorite line from a book "If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

Unexpected skill or talent I can twirl a baton

Passion in life writing


Page count: 340pp

Kessler’s novel follows the troubled life of a twisted, confused boy.

Steve has been unwanted since birth. His mother alternately ignores and harangues him while lavishing attention on her twin daughters. His father is a silent, barely-there presence, except when he’s beating Steve. As a Jewish boy in an upper-class neighborhood, he’s also subject to both thinly veiled and blatant anti-Semitism. To survive the abuse, Steve descends into a kind of quiet madness from which he views the world around him in bizarrely twisted ways. His best friend, Tom, a boy from the poor part of town, allows Steve the time to spend with Tom’s mother, who has the maternal attitude his own mother lacks. Steve then meets Dane, a new arrival in town who insults and abuses him constantly, often tricking him into getting into trouble; Steve nonetheless worships Dane and adopts him as a role model. Despite occasionally heavy-handed metaphors, Kessler’s textured prose and intense imagery perfectly frame this disquieting psychological thriller. After Steve encounters a hive of bees, for example, Kessler frequently represents his mother’s admonishments as the buzzing of bees inside his head. But rather than let the reader arrive at the connection, he spells it out explicitly in several places. Elsewhere, particularly in chapters that describe the history of Steve’s mother, some metaphors are so convoluted that it’s hard to make out what they’re supposed to represent. Overall, though, Kessler’s solid writing overcomes these minor flaws to present the thoughtfully drawn portrait of a disturbing character.

A complex, multilayered book that will satisfy anyone with a taste for dark, complicated stories.


Spiritual horror

What does the devil really want? Nostalgic for the Inquisition and plague, Satan feels neglected by the modern world that no longer blames him for disease and death. He plans to create a new genesis, a place where people will love him. For that, his son needs just the right soul. And there is one—unique, powerful, able to heal. To get it, Satan has a plan that begins in Ireland in the famine year, 1848, and 180 years later traps a young girl and her family in demonic forces pushing them to kill. A Satan Carol is a horror story about family values-- even if they originate in hell.

ISBN: 978-1-61798-013-8
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