MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SHAY STONE
What kind of research did you do for this book?
So much! If anyone ever checks my browser history, they’re going to think I was living a secret life.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Some books I have read seemed crammed or underdeveloped while others seemed padded and repetitious. I think that may be because the author was trying to fit everything into one book or stretch it out into a series. When I sat down to write, I didn’t think about whether it would become a series. I wanted to tell the best story I could without limiting myself to standard word count. Anything else would have been unfair to my readers. I could definitely have stretched The Fame Series into three books. But I at some point you have to ask yourself, “how much can two people go through before they get together?” I’m a stickler for realism, and didn’t want my book to become far-fetched or boring. My goal was to keep the reader engaged the entire time. In the end, that meant two books. Although the characters from The Rise to Fame and The Cost of Fame will be popping up in future books so fans won’t have to say good-bye to them completely.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I write throughout the day, but I do most of my writing in the early morning. Annoyingly, around 5 or 6 am seems to be when I am most inspired. I have woken up with conversations or ideas in my head that refuse to let me go back to sleep until I get them down. And there’s no snooze button on ideas. You want to get them down as soon as possible.
I don’t have a daily writing goal, but I try to write every day. I usually force myself to take one day off to let my brain recharge and the story settle, and of course, clean the house and do the whole “responsible adult” thing. By the next day I’m usually chomping at the bit to write again.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
Yes, and I am so excited about it! The name is still a working title, but I believe it is going to be Beautiful Lies and the series title is definitely going to be The Redemption of Memphis Drake.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I pick names I like and that fit the characters. Occasionally, a character’s name will be derived from something or someone. The MC in my first novel is named Alexandra (Alex). I’ve always liked when feminine women have men’s name. And I also said if I had a daughter, I’d name her Alexandra. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to have kids (I have fur babies, but no human ones!). I think I may have chosen that name subconsciously for my character. Now, at least she exists in some realm.
Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from songs, a conversation, something I see – like two people interacting a certain way, or something as simple as a sentence I read. It’s funny because growing up, all of my brothers and sisters were much older than me, so I was by myself a lot. What sixteen-year-old brother wants to play dolls with his 6-year-old kid sister? When I was little, I used to play Barbies a lot. Even then, my Barbies always had these fantastic lives filled with obstacles and triumphs. Sometimes Ken could be a real asshole. Ha ha They would fight, break-up, make up, have opposing careers, etc. – stuff way to elaborate for an 8-year-old. I think my mind has always created stories.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I’ve been told my books transcend genres, so I think I pretty much explore everything I want in my books – contemporary, suspense, mystery, borderline erotica. I would probably enjoy exploring fantasy or paranormal, only because I love how die-hard and devoted the fans are to that genre.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Focus is the hardest part. I have a head injury from a car accident. Because of that, some days I get distracted too easily. There are times I have three books going at once because ideas keep popping in my head.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
Trailers are cool and I’d love to have one, but there are a lot of twists and turns in my book that I wouldn’t want to give away. I also think they can be a bit dangerous. Everyone has different taste. When you read a book, I think you envision the characters in your mind. They may not always coincide with who the author had in mind. I remember one time I read a book and had a vision of the character in my head. Halfway through, I stumbled across the authors “dream character” list. When I saw her pick for the MMC I was like, “Oh no, no, no!” Her image kept competing with the one I had in my head and it kind of ruined the rest of the book for me.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Without a doubt, putting these books out. There was a time I couldn’t read or look at a computer because of my injury. I had to retrain my eyes and build up my tolerance. And there are still times I have to write with the screen covered.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Having someone love the story you created. Some of the reviews I have received have made me cry tears of joy. Having someone connect with your story and characters and love them as much as you do is an amazing feeling.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
If all goes well, I will be a wildly successful full-time writer, living in a house overlooking the beach. Hopefully with a full-time masseuse on staff because writing is hell on your neck and back. ha ha
Have you always liked to write?
Yes, but I didn’t like being forced to write. I always excelled at writing papers in school, but I didn’t enjoy it. But I’ve always had a love affair with words.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write. Write. Edit. Then write some more. And don’t write the story for anyone else. Write the story the characters tell you to – the one you want to write – without catering to outside pressures.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I’d be a movie or television producer, although an alarming number of people have told me I need to have my own talk show which is funny to me because I hate small talk.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I’m sad to say I do. I think it’s important for new writers to read reviews because you need to know what unbiased people think works and what they think doesn’t. What you do with it from there is your choice.
I never respond – that’s a big author no, no. Thankfully, I haven’t gotten a really bad review. One blogger gave me 3.5 stars and I was crushed at first because all of my other reviews had been awesome. She was a self-proclaimed tough critic and her average review was something like 3.2 stars. I hated not being able to ask her what I did wrong. But then I realized not everyone is going to like your writing. Some people love Stephen King. Some people hate him. Critics hated Fifty Shades of Grey, but readers loved it. And all of that is okay. You just have to find your audience.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Not yet… but I’ll give I’ll tell you the tagline will most likely be: The cruelest lies drip from beautiful lips.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
Like I said, I’m a sucker for a good love story.
Where did your love of books come from?
I loved to read when I was a kid, but got a little bored growing up because I never liked the books we were assigned to read. When I was in my teens, my boss turned me on to contemporary romance. Until then I didn’t know books like that existed.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
Dave Barry (humor)
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
I love Richard Steed (my antagonist). He was deliciously evil and fun to write because he did and said whatever he wanted without any regard for anyone else. And who doesn’t love a good bad guy.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. There are times I get up at 5 am and the next time I look at the clock it’s 11pm. Then there are other times that I write such an emotional scene, I’m completely spent afterward.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My dogs. They tend to be a little high maintenance at times and distract me. I feel guilty not giving them love or attention.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Definitely original. If everyone only delivered what readers wanted, we’d all be writing different versions of the exact same story. I like to give readers something they didn’t even know they wanted until they’re reading it.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Danica Raimz, Stephanie Ayers, Marie Vermisaglou, K Williams, Rebekah Hodson, Krys Fenner, Lauren Dawes, Megan Grooms and Gianna Gabriela. We support each other, give honest feedback, bounce ideas around. Being an author is hard. It’s nice to have people to relate to and that know and understand the wonders of being a writer as well as the pitfalls.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Well, that Didn’t Go as Planned.
Why do you include sex in your books and why do some of them have what people call “insta-love?”
I include sex in my book as a way to empower women. So many women I know were raised to think sex was bad or dirty and feel shame when they have sex or broach the subject. As a result, many women have unsatisfying sex lives. I hope when people read my book it helps them to be more comfortable with sex and encourages them to communicate their wants and needs to their partner without shame or embarrassment. And for those that are already okay with sex, maybe it’ll give them some fun ideas to try.
Part two of the question: I write about Insta –love because, to be honest, sometimes it happens. Everyone’s love story is different. That’s what makes them great. How boring would it be if everyone’s love story was the same? Some people become friends first. Others are co-workers. And then there’s people like my mom and dad. The day my mom met my dad, she told her friend she was going to marry him. 12 dates later they were married and they just celebrated their 61st anniversary.
When I develop my characters, I take everything into account – friends, family, relationships around them, etc and determine at what rate they’d be more likely to fall in love. If someone grew up in a tumultuous household, they may be more cautious. But if someone was an orphan, they might be more apt to fall in love hoping to create a family of their own.
Usually when you read insta-love in one of my books, the characters aren’t actually in love yet, even if they don’t know it. What they are really experiencing is an intense visceral connection and inexplicable chemistry and they are acknowledging the idea that they could see themselves loving this person someday.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Shay Stone started her writing career after a car accident left her unable to read or look at a computer. Ironic, right? Many years, and hours of vision therapy later, and voila! She wrote her first book. She lives in Georgia with her four dogs and one cat, that thinks he is a dog. If you happen to be driving around Atlanta, there is a good chance you will see her dancing in her car and singing (poorly) to some 80’s tune. She has no shame.
Her passions include writing and traveling. She writes strong women with a bit of attitude, and flawed men that you can’t help but fall in love with to create that once in a lifetime love one page at a time. The Rise to Fame and The Cost of Fame complete her first contemporary romance series.