Welcome to Author Thursday hosted by Never Too Old for YA and NA Books group on Goodreads.
Today we welcome author Stacey Jay to the group.
You may know Stacey's most awesome series:
Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.
When I was eight years old I decided I wanted to be an actor. I was very stubborn about it and wouldn't be persuaded to pursue a less soul-crushing career. Fourteen years later, I graduated from college with a BFA Acting. After about four years working in the industry, my soul was pretty good and crushed. I decided I needed out, but unfortunately I wasn't qualified to do anything except play pretend. I'd always written--from my first attempt at a novel when I was in second grade, to the many plays I wrote and produced in college--and so I decided to give fiction writing a shot. Luckily for me--very, very luckily--that worked out!
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It really varies. I've written the first draft of a book in as little as six weeks, but my last book took six months to work out a rough draft. It ended up needing significantly less editing in later stages of the game, however, so I think maybe I'm starting to work more self-editing into my process. At least that's what I tell myself when I get down about how slow I've become.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I don't always set out with a theme in mind. I have my characters and I know what they want more than anything in the world, and I know what/who will stand in their way. The theme often makes itself clear to me as I write and see how the characters respond to hardship. That said, I knew from day one what OF BEAST AND BEAUTY's (July 2013 Delacorte) theme would be. It came to me right along with the voice of the main character.
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I do have a schedule, but I keep things more fluid than I used to. I don't write every single day anymore, and I don't always write first thing in the morning. I make time for ballet class in the morning some days, and have been known to take a three day weekend now and then. After five years of writing upwards of 500k words per year, I found I needed to take things a bit easier to avoid burning out.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
It was difficult at first. I focused on work and family and totally neglected to make any time for me. After about five years of that I stopped to take a breath and realized how much I missed having time for hobbies and long weekends and just sitting still watching the world go by. I cut way back last year (from writing 4 books in one year to writing 1) and I am much, much happier. My annual salary isn't what it was, but thanks to strong sales of JULIET IMMORTAL, my family hasn't had to make drastic changes in our lifestyle. We eat more chicken pasta than we used to, but hey...chicken pasta is good stuff!
What elements do you think make a great story line?
Great characters with a passionate desire for something they aren't sure they will ever have, but that they won't stop pursuing regardless. Also conflict. Lots and lots of juicy conflict!
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Writing books isn't hard for me. It's one of the few things that feel completely natural. It's surviving the other parts of the writing business--dealing with the internet and all the feedback one gets from it (good and bad), promotion, worrying about sales numbers, and etc--that is difficult for me. If it were all playing pretend and writing it down, I wouldn't have many stressful days at work.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
OF BEAST AND BEAUTY will be my ninth book published as Stacey Jay. I have also had one book published under another YA pen name, and five books published under an adult pen name. So in total, I've had fifteen books published in five years. My favorite is usually the last one I wrote so currently, OF BEAST AND BEAUTY is at the top of the list.
Do you have a favorite character?
I love Megan Berry from my YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME series. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to let her go completely.
Where do you write?
I write primarily in my office under the house. My husband renovated a damp crawl space into a lovely place to work where my kiddos can't come bang on my door. I also write on my treadmill desk in the garage when I start feeling too stiff from sitting in one place.
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
In 2009 I was overwhelmed by the idea of self-publishing and never even considered it. It seemed like so much work, and I felt I needed help to get my book in publish-worthy shape. These days, however, I have a different view of self-publishing. I love working with traditional publishers and hope to continue to do so, but it's nice to have a place to publish stories I know wouldn't appeal to a large publisher, but will have appeal to my established readership (like the Megan Berry novella I self-published in 2011).
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
Different members of my family have read different books (my mom enjoys my YA books, and my husband preferred my adult urban fantasy series), but they are all proud and wonderful. I couldn't ask for a better support system.
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I took up ballet again after more than a decade this year, and even ended up performing in the Nutcracker in toe shoes. It was an amazing, exhausting, humbling experience that taught me I can meet even seemingly impossible goals (it had been 18 years since I'd been on toe shoes and it was so painful at first I was sure I'd never be able to get back in shape). I also love sewing dresses and costumes for my kids, and drinking wine with my hubby.
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Read everything you can get your hands on. Write every day. Be prepared to revise and revise and revise (and revise). Be fearless when you can be, and solider on through the fear when you can't.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
I have too many favorites to choose just one. And I am inspired by too many people to mention them all, but I will say that Stephen King's writing book "On Writing" is solely responsible for the way I work. He says to set a word count for the day, and not simply a number of hours you'll sit at your desk. I have done that since the day I started writing seriously and I think it is the main reason I have been so prolific.
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
My critique partner, Julie Linker and her daughter, Annabelle, are invaluable editors and beta readers. I don't know what I'd do without their feedback. I also really value feedback from my agent, Ginger Clark. She's wonderfully no-nonsense, so when she says a book of mine made her a little teary at the end, I know I've written something powerful.
Are you working on anything now?
Of course! Always.! What is life without a work in progress? I'm working on the first draft of my 2014 Young Adult Novel for Delacorte. I can't give many details except to say that it is another fairy tale inspired book like OF BEAST AND BEAUTY, my 2013 release.
Thanks for the interview!
Thanks so much for stopping by Stacey! It was great to have you here!
And now, you can scroll down and enter the giveaway for copies of these books. It's INTERNATIONAL so you know you want to do it!
Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with three pen names, two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor (for real) and yoga instructor.