We’re starting the year off right with another guest interview and contest. Romance and speculative fiction writer Stephanie Draven is our interviewee. She’s giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader.
Romantic Journey: Stephanie, thanks for stopping by. Let’s dig right into the questions. How did you first get published?
Stephanie Draven: My first professional sale was a little short story I sold to Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. It was called “Limbo,” and it was a zany tale about a young woman looking for love in spite of the meddling of her dead ancestors. It’s a story I wrote on a dare, and it differs completely in tenor and tone from the dark paranormal romance I now write for Silhouette Nocturne.
However, my first Nocturne Bite, Midnight Medusa, was also written with a challenge in mind. I wanted to write a story that was socially aware, had emotional resonance, and pulled in elements of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I think I must thrive on proving that I can do stuff other people think can’t (or shouldn’t) be done!
SD: Right now, I’m a full time writer, but I used to be a lawyer. I think it was penance I had to serve for sins committed in another life.
RJ: How does a typical work day unfold? Do you clean first or write first? How do you let your family know when you are in serious writing mode?
SD: I have a few different modes. I try to draft everything quickly, which usually means writing at least 2k a day for 30-45 days. On those days, I wake up as early as 5am and I don’t leave the computer until I have my word count completed. On those days, if my family gets food on the table, they’re lucky, and I only clean once a week. (On Mondays, I run around the house with a timer, doing all my housework in increments of ten minutes.) [RJ: Must be another Flylady devotee. ]
When I’m in editing mode though, I allow myself more flexibility and work more of a 9-5 kind of job, although frequently I work late into the night, and it’s sometimes hard to get my husband to understand that I’m still working!
RJ: What are you working on now? Anything coming out soon?
SD: I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a modern day re-adaptation of the Minotaur story. It’s the last book in my Greek myth inspired paranormal romances. (So far, for Nocturne, I’ve written about gorgons, dryads, chimeras, hydras, and nymphs of the underworld.)
In the coming year, my first full-length Nocturne will be on the bookshelves and I’m ridiculously stoked to see it. The story is about a modern-day nymph of the underworld who sets out to seduce and kill a notorious arms dealer by taking on the appearance of the woman he once loved. There are some parts of it that made me cry to write, but it has a happy ending!
RJ: What are your five favorite books? What lessons have you applied from them to your own writing?
SD: Oh gosh, there is no way I could pick only five favorite books. I have so many! But I can tell you what I hope to learn from what I’ve been reading lately.
I’m reading How not to Make a Wish by Mindy Klasky–which is a lighthearted magical tale. Mindy has a great sense of humor, but more importantly, she has a sense of grounding detail in everything she writes, and I need to learn to do that. Mindy’s details are so rich that she’s even put out the cookie recipes of one of her characters, and let me tell you, I’ve had those almond lust cookies, and if I weren’t already married…
I also recently read Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran, which I fell in love with. I’ve long been fascinated by Selene (and have a book of my own coming out about her in January 2011, written under a different pen name), but I particularly enjoyed this novel because it effortlessly wove the protagonist through her times. I started out in fantasy and speculative fiction, so the way I approached Selene’s story was with a great deal of magic realism. I think I learned from Cleopatra’s Daughter, though, that sometimes the history is enough.
Not long ago, I read Megan Hart’s Dirty–which made me sob. Repeatedly. It taught me that contrary to expectations, erotica can be much more than sexy. It can also be moving, meaningful, and socially aware. I learned from it that books can still shake me and that true art can be found in any genre.
Another favorite is Philippa Gregory’s Wideacre, which is a book I’ll never get out of my head. I guess I learned from that book that it really is possible to write an absolutely captivating anti-heroine, and I think my own heroine’s have been more edgy because of it.
And I guess last, but not least, is First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner, from whom I’ve learned to really plan and outline my work.
RJ: Are you a chest or buns woman?
SD: Eek, are those my only choices? The first thing I tend to notice about a man is his eyes and his hands. But if I have to pick between chest and buns, I’m going to say chest because I’d rather he were walking towards me than walking away.
RJ: Who’s your fantasy man?
SD: I married him! No, seriously. I have the best husband ever. He loves me unconditionally, treats me like a princess, and has made my entire writing life possible. He’s smart and sexy and a much better person than I am. I’m always striving to be more like him. (I’m really in love, if you couldn’t tell.) But if he happened to come home one day looking a little bit more like Smallville’s Tom Wellling or Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles, I wouldn’t complain.
RJ: Very good taste. I’m a big Ackles fan myself, although some of the other ladies here are more into his co-star, Jared Padalecki. Anyway, What are your goals for 2010? Personal or professional are fine. Whatever is important to you today.
SD: Personally, I have a goal of teaching my cat Butterscotch a new trick. (He already sits up, shakes paws, and will give me a high-five. He also sometimes fetches. He thinks he’s a dog.)
Professionally, though, my whole next year is already mapped out writing my next book, and I couldn’t be happier. I think we’ve all been through some rough times lately, but I really believe that things are starting to look up!
RJ: Great outlook. I feel as if we’re on the brink of some positive times, too. Again, thank you for visiting with us today. And thanks for the generous contest item.
Readers, find out more about Stephanie on her website. And, here is how you can enter our contest for a $10 Amazon gift certificate courtesy of Stephanie Draven:
- Commenting on this post.
- Tweeting a link to this post in Twitter. You’ll need to comment letting us know that you tweeted. Include your Twitter username for verification.
- Posting a link on Facebook. Again, comment letting us know that you posted the link.
- Following The Romantic Journey in the Facebook Networked Blogs application.
- Adding The Romantic Journey to your blogroll. Comment that you did that and include a link for verification.
- Posting something about The Romantic Journey on your blog. Comment that you did it and include a link for verification.
- Subscribing to the RSS feed or email feed. Comment that you did it to be entered.
- Following The Romantic Journey on Twitter. Again, comment with your Twitter username for verification.
You receive one entry for each action, so you can potentially receive eight entries.
The winner will be announced 11 January. Entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. UTC on 10 January, 2010.
No transfers or substitutions.