AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: STEPHANIE BROOKS
Welcome Stephanie Brooks to the land of the JR….
What is your most current work out?
My most recent novel is a duology titled Forever After available from Amazon.com, it contains the stories Sweet Enemy and Forever And A Day which are stories 2 and 3 in my House Celestia Series.
Tell us a little about this project:
Forever After has two stories, one (Sweet Enemy) is a novella and the other is a short novel. When I finished Into The Dreaming (House Celestia Series #1) my original plan was for the next installment to follow one of the secondary characters named Dom as he found his match and fell in love. But when I sat down to actually write the story I realized that there were two couples from Into The Dreaming who truly deserved to have their stories told first before I really jumped into advancing the series too much further. That’s how Sweet Enemy, which tells about how Allyce captured and fell in love with Ajax, was born. Forever And A Day does get us back into the over-arcing storyline of the series and truly bridges the major gap between Into The Dreaming and the next full-novel installment of the series by following Desi and Cy as they deal with the aftermath of Into The Dreaming and come to terms with what they mean to each other.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I usually try and do both. I start with an idea of where I need the story to go as far as the series is concerned or the outcome I want for my characters, but then I put them through the wringer to get there. Always, always it’s important to me that my characters stay true to themselves and act in a manner that fits the character I’ve created and sometimes that means a story goes off in a direction I didn’t see coming but those detours usually end up being some of the more heartfelt parts of my stories. Plus, I think it’s important that my heroes and heroines both deserve and appreciate each other. There’s nothing I find more aggravating when I’m reading a story for pleasure than a hero or heroine who I think doesn’t really deserve or appreciate the happy-ever-after they’ve been given.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I write paranormal romance and sci-fi with romantic elements because it’s what I enjoy reading myself. When I sit down and open up the cover of a book or power on my e-reader I want to lose myself in a story that really transports me to another place, often another world entirely, and have an ending that leaves me feeling good about the world. I truly love those kinds of stories so when I decided to write professionally it made all the sense in the world to write what I already love to read.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I think my favorite character at any given time has to be the main character of the current manuscript. If I don’t focus and lavish all my care and attention on that character then the story might suffer for it. That being said, I think my favorite character from my published works is Allyce from Into The Dreaming where she is a secondary character and Sweet Enemy where she is the heroine. She goes through hell and back again for her people, even sacrificing what might’ve been her only chance at true love to protect what’s left of her family and dealing with a psychopath on a daily basis for centuries. Allyce is the epitome of a tough cookie who jumps every hurdle and then finally gets her reward in the form of a happy-ever-after love with Ajax.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Kraken, the villain from the House Celestia series, is amazingly complex to the point that I still don’t think I have him 100% nailed even after three stories published with him featuring at least in part. Every time I think that I have him figured out, he changes on me, throwing me a new motivation or a different twist on a scene. He’s definitely my problem child which is only suitable for a major bad guy character. He’d be no fun to work around with my protagonists if he was easy and one-dimensional.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I always find parts of people I know creeping into my characters. One of the easier moments for me to write was in Into The Dreaming when Genevieve (the main character) was threatening to leave an event her best-friend Desi suckered her into going to. At one point in the scene Desi wraps her hand up in the back of Gen’s shirt and makes a fist, threatening to literally rip the clothes of Gen’s back if she tries to leave. One of my very good friends actually did that to me once and I never forgot it. Another time I was hanging out with my same friend at her house and I was wearing my favorite monkey-slippers, I was probably 19 or 20, and her brothers walked into the kitchen. I was mortified to be caught wearing something that was so juvenile in front of two rather attractive young men. That was the inspiration for the scene between Desi and Cy where he just keeps staring at her fuzzy animal slippers.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Writing in general is the hardest part of writing. Oh, sometimes I’ll have trouble with a scene or I’ll get a little blocked but the hardest part of writing for me is always ignoring everything else going on with my life and sitting down and punching the keys or putting pencil to paper. There’s always something else that needs doing and there always will be, finding the motivation and the courage to ignore my life in favor of my writing is the hardest part of writing for me and it likely will be for years to come.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I am very much a homebody. I tend to write female characters that are feisty go-getters that set goals and achieve amazing things. I’m much more contented with my life than my characters are. Which isn’t to say I’m not a feisty go-getter, as my husband would attest. I just keep my feistiness contained to my home, my family, and my writing. I don’t feel any need to conquer the business world or even set the world on fire with my stories. I’m much more grounded than that.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I try not to feel guilty about things since I feel guilt is just a weapon for a self-defeating attitude, but…I love strawberry cheesecake ice cream to an unholy degree. It really is a pleasure and at times I do feel guilty about it because I never want to share it to the point I’ll hide it in the freezer and not tell anyone so my husband won’t eat it.
What TV Show/s are you addicted to?
I love cooking shows most especially Chopped and MasterChef. I love watching Chef Ramsey being a more moderate personality than he is on Hell’s Kitchen. Although part of me watches Hell’s Kitchen partially because he yells so much at the competing chefs.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Sometimes I just need music in my ears to help me tune everything else out. It can really help those times where it seems like I can’t even get two words to go together let alone form a sentence.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Music influences my writing in a major way; I listen to music quite a bit while I write. Into The Dreaming was partially inspired by Skillet’s song Don’t Wake Me while Sweet Enemy has touches of Halestorm’s songs I’m Not An Angel and Love/Hate Heartbreak.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Oh, goodness. For Sweet Enemy I like Emma Stone for Allyce, she was amazing in The Help. Chris Helmsworth would make a delicious Ajax. Desi from Forever And A Day would be done well by Charlize Theron and would be paired well by Hugh Jackman for Cy.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
The first thing I ever published was an editorial piece in The Seattle Times and I was only fifteen years old. I remember reading that email in my parents’ store and rereading it over and over again. I never thought my piece would actually get selected. My parents were there in the store and I told them right away, dragging them over to the computer to see the email for themselves.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Probably around twelve was when I read my first “adult” romance. I’d read YA romances but they never seemed all that realistic to me even at that age.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books? I’m a total Kresley Cole and Robin D. Owens fan. I love both of those ladies work. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, I’m a voracious reader and I’m into series by Gena Showalter, Angela Knight, Christine Feehan, Ilonda Andrews, and my all-time favorite Lora Leigh just to name a few.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I do but it’s the most traditional “job” of them all: being a stay-at-home wife and hopefully soon mom. I’m also an eternal student and am taking college courses year-round.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
Beautiful Creatures was very well done and well-acted. My all time favorite movie is probably A Walk To Remember.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m currently working on the next installment of the House Celestia series and am editing Sand and Snow for publication. In the wings is the continuation of House Celestia, a contemporary romance series, and a pre/post-apocalyptic romance series that I’m really excited about.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Robin D. Owens for sure. Her Celta series is simply amazing with the depth of detail and effort that she’s put into it, I would love to be able to set one of my paranormal or sci-fi stories in that world.
How do you pick your characters names?
I try and match names to personalities, often I’ll look at the year a certain character was supposed to have been born in and see what names were popular there, sometimes I’ll choose names for their meanings, it all depends on what I’m planning on doing with the character and story at hand and I’m not afraid to change a character’s name if called for.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout? Whichever suits the personalities and situations at hand. For example, in Into The Dreaming North loved at first sight, it was an instinctual reaction on his part but it took Genevieve much longer to feel anything at all for him in return. I think that in many relationships one person tends to reach the point of actual visceral love before the other. However, I have utilized love at first sight with both parties at the same time if it fit with the situation and story.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side –
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Chocolate? All chocolate. There is no such thing as bad chocolate.
Ranger or Morelli
Gah! I’m horrible at these decisions. It’s not really appropriate but I’m generally a fan of not choosing either and keeping both.