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Author Name: Stephanie Bond
Website:
www.stephaniebond.com

Genre: humorous romantic suspense
Latest book in shops now:
In Deep Voodoo

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Target, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs?

Oh, wow, I’m going to blow this interview. I live in midtown Atlanta, with no car and no Target within walking distance, so I can’t even remember the last time I was in Target, and I think the last loaf of bread I bought was some kind of fancy whole grain, seeded type that was about $2.39 US dollars.

BUT you might be surprised to know that I don’t buy a lot of bread because I make biscuits and/or cornbread from scratch two or three times a week! (Does that mean I’m still grounded?)

Baking your own bread definitely means that you’re well grounded! *g*

What were your favourite books as a child?

All the series books like Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Meg. In fact, I still have my complete set of 54 hardcover Nancy Drew books, including the cookbook.

Did you read romance books as a teenager?

Did I! By the bagful! I lived in a tiny town with no bookstore and no library. The highlight of my year was when my aunt visited and brought me bags and bags of romance novels that she’d read. I devoured them, especially the ones by Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney.

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

I’m still waiting for a ‘typical’ day! What I strive for is to get up, workout to a 30-minute yoga tape, then update my website’s Open Book blog, return e-mail, and tackle the paperwork on my desk until noon.

Then I grab my AlphaSmart, head to the gym and write while I’m on the treadmill for an hour. I come back with 4-5 pages written, shower, then continue with my writing and whatever the phone/email/FedEx brings throughout the afternoon.

Since I write for two publishers, it seems as if I always have something to review (covers, copy, ads) or some kind of supplemental material to send them (bios, photos, dear reader letters, research notes, synopses for twelve different uses, etc.) Since I write 3-4 books a year, there’s always something up in the air. If I’m on deadline, I will write until bedtime!

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
The Velvet Promise by Jude Deveraux
Christy by Catherine Marshall

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

Hollis Gillespie, who is an Atlanta humorist—her writing just grabs you by the throat.

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

Oh, sure! I’m lucky that there are lots of romance writers who live in Atlanta and they’re all friends of mine—Rita Herron, Carmen Green, Karen Hawkins, Haywood Smith, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Sari Robbins, Wendy Wax, Patti Callahan Henry, Sandra Chastain, Karen White, Jennifer St. Giles, Virginia Ellis, Wendy Etherington, Tanya Michaels, and many more!

Ooh you name dropper you! *g*

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

I was seven years deep into a systems engineering career with a large petroleum company and finishing my MBA at night when an instructor commented that I had a flair for writing. He suggested that I submit my thesis to academic journals, but all I could think was, “I wonder if I could write a romance novel?” And I did!

How long has it been since you first got published?

After two years of writing on my lunch hour, in the evenings, and on weekends, I sold my first book, Irresistible? to Harlequin Books in 1995. (November 15 was my tenth anniversary of being a published author!)

Oh congratulations!

How did you get your first book published? Did you have a mentor?

I got published by attending conferences, connecting with editors, and submitting my work. An editor asked for a full of something I pitched to her at a conference, and she bought it. I didn’t have a mentor, but my home writing chapter, Georgia Romance Writers, is very supportive of its unpublished members.

Being part of a large chapter that can afford to sponsor events for its members, such as bringing in editors and agents, is very helpful in getting your work in front of the right people.

Which of your books do you feel that you are best known for?

Hm, my most notorious book is Too Hot To Sleep, that a reviewer for Romantic Times Bookclub magazine gave its lowest score, a 1, because the reviewer didn’t like the theme of the book, which was phone sex. But the review itself caused so much controversy and my readers revolted against the reviewer in such a backlash that it became my bestselling Harlequin book of all time, and has since been reprinted. Otherwise, I’ve gotten the most feedback from my first single title, Our Husband.

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

Amelia Earhart, what happened, girl?

Oooh good answer, I’d like to know what happened too!

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

To build and maintain a steady, loyal fan base. For me, it’s all about consistently giving my readers a few hours of entertainment that will make them recommend my books to their friends.

How has the romance industry changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?

It was tough enough to break into the industry in 1995, but it’s even more competitive now, and everyone seems to be earning less because so many titles are released every month. I do wish that publishers would cut back on the dozens and dozens of reprints that come out every month.

In this day and age, do you think it’s possible for new romance writers to make it without having some kind of presence on the internet?

Oh, sure, it’s possible, but it makes getting your name out there much harder and you’re leaving the task of building your name (your brand) to your publisher, and very few authors get the kind of attention from their marketing/publicity department that they think they deserve. A website is one thing that a writer can do better than a publishing house.

In your experience, what would you say was the most effective method of marketing a romance novel?

Through a great website, by building a reader email list to continue marketing to.

Which of your books is dearest to your heart, and why?

Our Husband is dearest to my heart because it was my first single title romance and the most challenging book to write of my career.

I’ve always wondered about this, but as an author, once your books are published, do you actually go back and read them yourself, and if so, are you able to enjoy them, or do you perhaps see things that make you want to chew your own arm off in frustration? (grin).

I read them when I have time and surprisingly, I do enjoy them because my memory is so short, I can truly read them as if they’re someone else’s book.

Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?

No, that can paralyze a writer. For my current book, In Deep Voodoo, between the two most prominent review magazines, one reviewer said my heroine was ditzy and the secondary characters saved the day, the second reviewer said they loved my heroine, and could have done without the secondary characters. As a writer, what can you do with that? Nothing but get back to work.

Earlier this year, RWA attempted to try to define romance, and it caused a bit of a furore round the blogosphere, due to the limitations of the definitions. What were your thoughts on this at the time, and do you think it’s possible/necessary to define romance in a way that doesn’t exclude other sub-genres?

RWA has to be careful about what they define/include as romance because then the writers of those sub-genres (such as gay romances, for example, or erotica) will demand their own categories in the RITA contest, advertising space in the official RWA publications, etc. It’s a slippery slope because RWA has to balance inclusion with their budget/resources for fulfilling the needs of their entire membership.

When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?

I was in Germany for three weeks in May/June—beautiful!

Who are your favourite romance hero and heroine of all time?

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.

What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?

Mostly I write morally good, smart women who find themselves in extraordinary situations, pitted against reluctant heroes.

If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)

Since this is hypothetical, I’ll put the impossible out there: my aunt who turned me onto reading romance novels passed away six months before my first book came out; if I could have any one person read my books, it would be my aunt Fonda, God rest her soul.

If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?

Not a person, here, but a publisher: Avon Books. I’m not saying this because they are one of my publishers, but because it was Avon that really put romance novels on the map in the 1980s.

What was the last movie you saw?

Just Like Heaven, with Reece Withersoon and Mark Rufalo—great flick!

Name your top five favourite romantic films.

Pride & Prejudice (the A&E version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle)
Sense & Sensibility
While You Were Sleeping
13 Going on 30 (unexpectedly cute)
Good Will Hunting

What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?

The last book I read was Hollis Gillespie’s Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch, and I loved every sentence.

Have you ever written a book that you didn’t particularly care for, and do you cringe if you see people picking it up to read it?

LOL!! None of them make me cringe, but there was one book that I wrote for Harlequin called Two Sexy! that the production date was moved up on me and I had to get it in way earlier than I’d planned. I always wished I’d had more time to develop the characters in that book.

That’s on my TBR pile actually, I got it absolutely ages ago, I think it’s a Blaze title?

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Working on my own schedule.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

No one respects my work schedule!

Lol!!

As you’ve been there, done it, and have the badge to prove it, what is the number one advice that would you give to aspiring writers out there?

Join a national writing organization for the genre/area in which you want to write, connect with local writers who are writing what you are, and get into a critique group of 2-3 writers to meet with once a week to exchange work.

Since all authors are readers, too, do you have any books you’ve especially enjoyed over the last year or so that you’d like to recommend to readers who’ve enjoyed your books?

Look for anything by Beth Ciotta.

Finally, when’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?

My next book is Body Movers, from Mira books, the first book in a new sexy mystery series! The heroine works at Neiman Marcus by day and helps her brother move bodies from crime scenes by night. Three delectable heroes—how will she ever choose? Look for it in trade paperback in August 2006.

Ooh, what an original plot device!! I may just have to check that out!

Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these very nosy questions!
You’re so, so welcome!

Well that’s all folks, Lisa Valdez’s interview wont be up for another couple of weeks, but don’t worry, we’ll have some great authors in the hot seat in the meantime!

Ciao for now!

2 Comments »


  • Reese
    December 12
    2:19 am

    Great interview, Karen. I like your style. Stephanie’s too. I’ll pick up on of her books.

    Thanks!

    ReplyReply


  • paz
    December 12
    3:50 am

    Liked the interview. Too Hot to Sleep is in my keeper pile. That books a winner!

    Paz

    ReplyReply

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