AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: STACY JUBA
Author Stacy Juba has found the bunnies so we are now pestering her with questions…
What is your most current work out ?
Tell us a little about Twenty-Five Years Ago Today.
Twenty-Five Years Ago Today is about Kris Langley, an obit writer and newspaper editorial assistant who stumbles across an unsolved murder on the microfilm while researching her 25 years ago today column. She feels compelled to investigate as a way of redeeming herself from a mistake in her own past, and gets to know the victim’s family. During the course of the investigation, Kris falls for Eric Soares, the sexy nephew.
I started my writing career as a newspaper editorial assistant and one of my tasks was using the microfilm to compile the 25 and 50 years ago today column. One day, I got an idea: what if while researching a routine 25 years ago column, a newspaper editorial assistant comes across a cold case and is driven to solve it? What if the victim’s nephew stands in her way, until they can’t deny their mutual attraction? So presto a book idea is born.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I start by filling out character charts about my main characters, and then I do some free-writing to help me get to know my protagonist. Then I create a lengthy plot outline, sometimes 20-25 typed pages. The characters do drive the plot, but I generally have all the important events mapped out beforehand. The outline isn’t written in stone, however, and sometimes the characters will take the story on a little detour. When that happens, I just go with it.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I’ve always loved reading mystery novels, romance novels, and romantic suspense, so I like to blend all of those elements together into one story. I’ve been writing mysteries since I was in fifth grade, and then in my twenties, I started adding romance to my writing.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I love Kris from Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. She’s a young woman in her twenties who is struggling to get on the right life path. Kris falls into this editorial assistant job at the newspaper and discovers that journalism is the only career that has ever excited her. She’s not a reflection of me by any means, but Kris is introverted like I am so I could relate to her in many ways. She also cares about presenting all sides to a story and genuinely cares about people’s feelings. Even though she’s quiet, Kris is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. Kris has a secret that’s haunted her for many years, and as a result, she’s been to hell and back. Readers root for her to finally find some happiness. She undergoes a lot of personal growth in the book and I liked seeing how her character evolved. I also liked introducing her to Eric, her love interest in the book!
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
The character of Diana Ferguson in Twenty-Five Years Ago Today took some time to get right, as she’s dead when the story starts. In fact, Diana has been dead for 25 years. However, she’s the catalyst for the whole book. She’s a cocktail waitress and talented artist whose murder was never solved, and her family has had to get on with their lives while always wondering what really happened that night. There are a lot of layers to her personality and in order for readers to care about who killed Diana Ferguson, they have to know her on some level. It’s a challenge to make readers feel like they know someone who never actually appears in the book.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
All of my characters are made up, but I pick up certain characteristics from people I’ve observed. For example, in Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, there is an editor named Jacqueline and Kris thinks of her as Corporate Barbie. Jacqueline always wears a ponytail with a scrunchie. Years and years ago, (so long ago they’d never remember me!) I worked briefly at a company where the human resources director always wore a ponytail with a scrunchie. There was something about this woman that struck me as a little bit cold despite her welcoming words – one of those people who acts nice, yet you just have this sense that they would stab you in the back! Jacqueline isn’t a particularly warm person and when I was looking for traits to flesh her out, the human resource director with her perky ponytail jumped into my mind. The scrunchie was the only thing I borrowed from her. It just added an unexpected element to Jacqueline’s tough as nails character.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part is writing the first few chapters, particularly the first chapter. It takes awhile to get to know the characters and fall into a rhythm and the blank page can be intimidating.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I’m trained as an energy healer (Reiki master) and I consult my angel cards before making important decisions!
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love caramel apples! On vacation at the beach, I’ll have a caramel apple every day – plain, with peanuts, with sprinkles, or with chocolate, it doesn’t matter.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I need my outline in front of me, or a few scribbled notes to tell me what’s on the writing agenda for the day. I need to consult that logical part of my brain for some structure before shutting that off and going with the creative flow.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Music has never really influenced my writing, but I pay a lot of attention to finding the right theme song when I create my book trailers. The trailer for Twenty-Five Years Ago Today has a fast-paced instrumental song that fit the video and the book perfectly. My romantic suspense novel Sink or Swim, which is about a former reality show contestant who attracts a stalker, uses the song Every Breath You Take in the book trailer. You can see the trailers here: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/books-2/book-trailers/
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I could picture Spencer Grammer from Greek as Kris as she is blonde, about the right age, and has a certain clean cut and fresh-faced look about her, and I could see Zac Efron as Eric with his dark good looks.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I received my first contract when I was 18 years old. It was with Avon Books for my young adult hockey novel Face-Off. I received a telegram in the mail telling me that I’d won a contest for teenage writers and asking me to call the editor in New York. I showed the letter to my parents, so excited I could barely talk.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I used to read Sweet Valley High books when I was a teenager and some of those had romantic elements, but my first real romance books were VC Andrew’s Flowers in the Attic and Heaven series. I read those in high school. Those books had much stronger romantic elements than I’d read in the past.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I’ve recently discovered Meg Cabot’s adult books and now want to read everything she has written. I was totally fan girl over the Harry Potter books. Those are the only books I’ve ever run out to buy in hardcover.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I write a newsletter three times per year for a non-profit wellness client and my husband designs it. I used to write for other newsletters and do freelance writing for a parenting magazine, but I’ve cut back to focus on my books.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m working on getting a few young adult books out, and then I’ll go back to finishing a novel about a psychic healer who is on the trail of a serial killer. Despite the serious topic, it has some lighter elements to it. The character also has a boyfriend who wants to marry her, yet she has some commitment issues to overcome even though she is madly in love with him. And, I’ve been getting an idea for a sequel to Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, which I’d like to explore.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I’d like to write with my good friend Darcia Helle, who is the author of mystery and romantic suspense books. We write about similar topics, and get along really well so I’ve love to see what we could come up with.
How do you pick your characters names?
For Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, I named Kris after Cheryl Ladd’s character, Kris, in Charlie’s Angels. I loved that show growing up and it was sort of a nod to myself, acknowledging how I was honoring my childhood love of mysteries. Sometimes I’ll flip through a baby name book to find a first name and a phone book to find a last name.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I definitely prefer steady growth throughout. I like having chemistry and electricity at first sight, but some conflict that gets in the way, and then having the romance progress throughout the book. I always like a happy ending, though. That doesn’t mean they’re going to get married at the end of the book, but it means they’ve either cleared those obstacles or have promised to work on clearing them, so that they can take the relationship to a more serious level.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
Luckily I never get that reaction for either my mystery or romance content, but I’d say that I have an important job, which is entertaining people and giving them an escape from their day-to-day stresses. If my story can capture someone’s attention and they look forward to the moments when they can steal some time to read it, then I’ve accomplished my goal. That is a role that romance writers fill for many readers, and judging by the popularity of the genre, readers are grateful.
Where can readers find you?
Web Site and blog: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/
Visit http://stacyjuba.com/blog/contact/ to sign up for my newsletter to receive information about new releases along with special offers and periodic Amazon gift card drawings for subscribers only. It comes out 3 times per year.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I love peanut M&Ms and Mr. Goodbars!