S T E P H A N I E J O H N
A D U L T C O N T E M P O R A R Y R O M A N C E A U T H O R
Last week I was fortunate to be the spotlight author in Go Baby! Book Obsessions' Facebook Group. In case you missed it, here is the full interview:
AT what age did you start writing?
I used to love English at school and making up my own short stories. The whole concept of writing a book came much later in life - I stumbled into it without prior planning. I come from a creative family, My siblings blog and write, and my dad used to make up stories and draw the characters for them when we were younger, so it was obviously in my genes somewhere!
WHAT inspired you to start?
Having a recurring dream of a particular scene in Salvation almost daily for about two months. I decided to write it all down and ended up with 3,000 words. I left it for a while, came back and played with it a little and fleshed it out. Then the characters took over, developed personalities and real emotions. I sat back for the ride and wrote what they told me until I ended up with an entire book! That first scene I wrote never made it into the final cut…
WHAT can you tell us about your current WIP?
I’m working on the second book in the Heal Me series, which is the conclusion to Nate & Kara’s story. Salvation is from Kara’s POV; this is from Nate’s. We get answers to all the questions raised in Salvation, learn about his past and how it has shaped his present. Discovering more about how deeply he loves Kara is truly beautiful and utterly breathtaking. It hasn't been easy - more than once I’ve found myself sobbing, asking “WTF?” and of course, fanning myself and running for the nearest cold shower - it is Nate we’re talking about (winks).
WHERE do you do the majority of your writing?
Ideas come at the most inopportune moments. In the shower, driving the car, when I’m about to fall asleep! For the most part, I write at my desk. I also tap away on my laptop when I’m in bed (yeah, the husband doesn't appreciate that so much!). I have a phone full of notes when I get random ideas or hear a great word that I’d like to use. I also have three notebooks on the go - one for each of the remaining books in the series.
EVERYONE has a “process” when they’re writing. What’s yours?
Most of my writing time is when my children are at school or in the evening when they’re all in bed. I’ll listen to music prior to writing to get me in the mood, but, for the most part, I need peace and quiet. I’ll write whatever scene comes into my head, so rarely is it in story order. I wrote the ending of my WIP first, then a key scene in the middle, so it all depends on what is turning over in my mind at the time. Oh and I need a drink (not always alcoholic) and a snack because once I’m in the zone I can’t afford to take breaks, otherwise I lose my train of thought!
IF you hadn’t been an author, what profession would you have enjoyed instead?
When I was little, I wanted to be a flight attendant and travel the world. I also had ideas of becoming a vet or working with animals but decided I’d probably end up adopting them all instead. Having said that, now I live in Australia, I’d be less inclined to take some of the wildlife home with me. My actual profession is in the financial sector, but I can’t say I ‘enjoy’ that. If I had to pick now, I’d say professional chocolate or wine taster would be great!
WHO are your favorite authors to one-click?
Going by the last books I one-clicked without question, I’d say Sylvia Day, Emma Chase & Christina Lauren. I have soooo many books on my TBR - some indie, some traditionally published, but those ladies have such great writing styles I’m pretty safe in assuming I’ll enjoy anything they write.
KINDLE or Paperback?
Both. Kindle is easy to carry and takes up little space, but nothing beats the feeling of having a real book in your hands. It will depend on my mood, and where I am when I’m reading. My kids don't need to see a half-naked man in mummy’s hands (I wish) so having books on the Kindle can have other advantages too.
BOOK Boyfriend that makes you swoon?
Can I cheat and say my own? Nate makes me swoon (and a whole lotta other things but we won’t go into those). You want others? Okay, collecting book boyfriends is a favourite pastime for me and I have way too many for one woman so I’ll pick a few. The completely raw and unadulterated passion he has for his woman puts Gideon Cross up there. Any of the men from the Beautiful Bastard series - I have a soft spot for Will, and being a Brit myself I have to say Max & Niall Stella. Seeing a man have a complete turnaround, knowing a woman has melted his heart can be incredibly sexy & swoon-worthy, so I can’t forget the book boyfriend who started a lot of women’s fictional obsessions in the first place - Christian Grey. And Drew Evans. A man who can make me laugh is a winner.
WHAT was your last 5 star read?
(Checks back on Goodreads to see what I rated). Sustained by Emma Chase. Love love love Jake Becker. The book had it all - humour, sweet tender moments, steam.
IF you could collaborate on a book with any author, dead or alive, who would you choose?
I’m not sure I would want to with anyone. I admire anyone who can co-write, but I don't think it’s for me. Writing is a personal obsession of mine, a journey I’m quite content to continue alone.
FAVOURITE book turned movie?
This is a tough one! There aren't a lot of books that I’ve read that have been turned into movies (that I know of!). Apart from romance, I love reading autobiographies, memoirs and so on. I know it isn't quite the same, but a couple I can think of that were turned into movies I enjoyed are Catch Me If You Can - based on the autobiography of Frank Abagnale about his escapades as a conman; and The Wolf of Wall Street - based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort and the corruption and fraud on Wall Street. I’m a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio so that helps! Recently I watched Gone Girl which I loved, but confess I haven't read the book. It’s hard to transition from book to screen because the beauty of books is you have your imagination, whereas on screen you’re watching someone else’s vision of the story. One book I read recently purely because I saw the trailer for the movie and was definitely teased was Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover…yeah, I can’t wait for that one.
OF your characters, which do you most identify with?
Kara, my female lead. She’s a sweet, gentle girl, quite shy and very self-conscious. She’s had a rough past that has made her behave in certain ways. I completely understand why she is so guarded, and I’m sure most of us crave love without being hurt. It’s a natural instinct to want to protect yourself from harm. Kara is a bit of an introvert, but once you get to know her, you can’t help but like her. Fiercely loyal, protective, passionate, fun. Love her!
IF you could have any superpower for one day, what would you pick?
To be invisible with the ability to transport myself anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye (does that count as two?). Number One on my list would be the voyeuristic stalking of a number of hotties. Oh, the fun I’d have!
ONE place you’ve never been but would love to go?
I’ve been lucky enough to do a fair amount of travelling in my life and having children hasn't stopped me. I’m originally from England so grew up with Europe on my doorstep. One continent I’ve never visited is South America. The food and wine would be fabulous, the culture so inviting, the landscape so diverse and stunning.
WHAT'S the last song you couldn’t get out of your head?
Let it Go by James Bay. I last heard it days ago, and it’s still in my head now! That man’s voice is beautiful, and the song is guaranteed to tug at the heart strings every time. Yes, you’ll catch me singing through the tears every time I hear it.
IF you could read any book for the first time again, what would it be?
Oooh, I’m not sure! This is really hard. What would be amazing would be to read the first book I could read unsupervised as a child, and experience the same rush of joy again. Learning to read is such an incredible feat, something that as adults we now take for granted. Unfortunately for me it was so long ago I can’t remember a name, but experiencing that pride and excitement would be great!
HAS your life changed since the first time you hit “publish”? If so, how?
Well, I sleep a lot less thanks to the voices in my head. Does that count? I write under a pen name, so very few people know I’ve even written a book. I’m probably distracted a lot easier and have learned I’m the biggest procrastinator and a complete perfectionist. Even though I have the full support of my family, I’ve sacrificed a lot of time with them as a wife and mother, and that makes me feel enormously guilty. On the upside, I’ve discovered a real passion in living with and loving these characters, embracing them into my world almost as if they were real. I’m going to find it tough saying goodbye to them when the time comes.
IF you could climb into and live in any book or series, what would it be?
I had to leave this question for days because I just couldn't think of one!! In my humble opinion, if a book is written well, you become submerged in the world and live and breathe the characters and story anyway. I know, that’s a cop-out, but honestly, it’s too hard to choose one. Sorry!
IF you could say one thing to your readers/fans, what would it be?
Thank you! Hiding behind a name, a Kindle screen, or the pages of a book is really hard because I just want to tackle them down and give them all a big bear hug. I’m stunned that readers around the world have taken a chance on me and immersed themselves into my story, and that they love my characters - Nate especially. Even more so, that they want more of it! So, I also need to apologise for keeping them waiting for the next one (due 2016). But, trust me when I say if you thought you loved Nate in Salvation, be prepared to fall harder. I freaking love that man!