1. Welcome Stephanie, can you tell us a little about your latest release?
I’ve actually got two “latest releases” – the back-to-back releases of the first two books in the Cynster Sisters’ Trilogy – VISCOUNT BRECKENRDIGE TO THE RESCUE, and IN PURSUIT OF ELIZA CYNSTER. Both can be described as Errol Flynn rescues Elizabeth Bennet in the wilds of Scotland – lots of adventure, drama, kidnaps and rescues, escapes and pursuits, and, of course, through it all, lots of romance.
2. What do you love most about historical romances, and what do you think makes these stories so popular?
Historical romances were my first romances, and continue to be favourites of mine. There’s just something very satisfying in stepping into a much different world for a few hours of total relaxation – no phones, no internet, everything done at a much more relaxed pace. A much more human pace. I think that in terms of focusing on the emotional crux of an evolving romance, not having so much distraction is boon. There’s various elements that contribute to the popularity of historical romances, but I think the two most important are the slower, more focused, more intimate world, and the glamour of the aristocratic settings that are generally used.
3. Do you have a favourite book that you’ve written, or is this an impossible choice?!
I’ve never heard any career author talk of a favourite book. As Nora Roberts has said, the favourite book is always either the one being released now, or the one we’re currently writing. No other book really has much claim in an author’s mind.
4. Before writing, do you have any rituals or do anything specific to get you in the mood for your story?
Nope. I just sit down and write the next scene. I try to end each writing day having finished one scene and put down just the first line or two of the next, so I know exactly where I’m going – then the next day, I may or may not read over what I wrote the day before and then continue on, or equally may simply pick up right where I left off. My outline helps a lot in keeping me focused on exactly where my characters are going, and most importantly why.
5. What do you enjoy most in the process of creating a novel – researching, plotting/outlining, writing, or editing?
All of the above. I enjoy all of the aspects, but strive to keep focused on the point of it all – writing the next book as well as I can, meaning in the way that will most enthrall and entertain my readers. I guard against over-researching, over-outlining, over-editing – even over-writing! There’s only one goal for me, and that’s creating the best book I can.
6. Do you write detailed plot outlines and character descriptions before starting a new novel, or do you dive straight into the writing and see where it leads?
I started off doing the latter, and after about 10 books realized that it was a great way to waste a huge amount of time. That said, I think beginning writers have to start like that, and some authors may never need to move away from the just dive in and see where it goes. For me, the more effective way is really a combination. I flesh out the characters really well, and I always know the initial scenes where the H & H meet, then with them I “walk through” the story, getting at least the major points and events as the story organically rolls forward, and from that I work up my outline, but note that the outline is derived from a “follow the characters and see where they lead” approach. I’ve learned that for me, working through a work in outline form first saves me HUGE amounts of structural editing later, and also frees me to concentrate more on the actual writing – on being more creative – because with the outline, I don’t have to worry about where my characters are going or why – I know because it’s in the outline.
7. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Hahahahahaha! Sadly these days I have little time not caught up in the incessant demands of an author’s life. WHEN I have the time, I enjoy gardening and reading.
8. In your many years as a published author, you would have seen how the industry has changed and grown. What do you think authors entering the industry now need to be most aware of or educated about?
The fact that, no matter what avenue of publishing they follow, the ONLY thing that ultimately matters is writing books that readers what to read. Not just one book, but book after book after book. You can do absolutely everything else wonderfully well, but if you can’t write those books, nothing else is going to matter.
9. How do you keep on track with deadlines, do you set a daily word count goal?
I find daily goals too restrictive – life happens. However, when I sit down to actually write the manuscript (with outline completed), I have a weekly minimum of 60 pages, but often write more than that per week. I write for 5 days a week, but might look at bringing that down to 4 days a week for the next book, seeing if I can’t be equally as productive with just the 4 days – but I’ll still keep the 60 pages minimum in place. Essentially that’s moving from an average of 12 pages per day (which I pretty easily do) to 15 pages a day (which I often do). We’ll see. But I won’t drop below the 60 pages a week.
10. What do you love most about being an author?
Most? I think it would have to be “telling the stories.” I love spinning the tales, even if just in my head, and my most precious moments in my writer’s life would be when I reach that point when I know a book is ready for submission, and I know that it’s as good as I could make it.