Short Story Judge 2019-2020

The Short Story Judge – Not Your Usual Writer

Jon Steele was born in the American West. Considered ‘slow and somewhat troublesome’ by the good nuns of St Gerard’s Elementary School, he was told to accept the fact he would never amount to much in life. The nuns were generally right until 1980 when Steele lied his way into television news as a sound recordist in the Washington, D.C. bureau of a British TV network.

jon steeleHe quickly learned the skills he needed so he wouldn’t get fired, including how to tell stories with a video camera. He travelled across the North and South America filming everything from hurricanes to presidential elections.

Steele was transferred to Moscow in 1991 to film the chaos, riots and civil wars resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1993 Steele was trapped in Kigali during the Rwandan Genocide as more than a half million human beings were slaughtered. That same year Steele covered the cholera epidemic in Zaire where tens of thousands of people fell ill and died in a matter of weeks.

These experiences were the source material for Steele’s autobiography War Junkie. Today the book is considered a cult classic of war reportage. In 1994 Steele was diagnosed with severe PTSD, but he rejected treatment and continued to film stories across Russia, as well as the war in Chechnya.

In 1995 Steele was transferred to Hong Kong to cover the final years of British rule. He travelled extensively through China and Asia, making several trips into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

In 1998 Steele moved to Jerusalem where he covered the ongoing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. He also began making regular trips into Saddam’ Hussein’s Iraq, filming the daily life of ordinary Iraqi’s struggling under a brutal combination of Saddam’s dictatorship and American sanctions.

The Second Intifada between Israelis and Palestinians erupted in 2000. The West Bank and Gaza were warzones, Israeli cities were targets for suicide attacks. Steele often found himself caught in crossfire while filming.

Then in Baghdad, in 2003, on the day before Iraq War II began, Steele decided he had had enough. He put his camera on the ground and quit. By now Steele was emotionally broken.

He moved to Lausanne because he needed a place to hide from the weight of terrible memories. And it was in Lausanne where Steele found inspiration for The Angelus Trilogy__an epic mystical noir thriller about the last of the good angels hiding out in Lausanne Cathedral. The books were published worldwide by Random House and Penguin.

Currently, Steele lives in Bourg-en-Lavaux with his wife, two cats, and a PTSD service dog named Toby.