Today I’m bringing you an author interview from the lovely Stacey Jayne McIntosh. Stacey is a close friend of mine, and a fantastic author. I have been a pretty slack friend though considering this is the first Author Interview I have done for her! But better late than never right?
Let’s get into it!
What inspired you to write The Winter Princess?
The idea for The Winter Princess first came about from a dream I had in 2006. There was this brunette girl feeling trapped in a hotel room, while her newly wed husband flirted with some other girl down by the pool in a hotel he clearly owned. I remember because that was a pretty full on year. The story actually sat idle for about four years before I really picked it up again and decided to do something with it. I just knew I had to write about them. Of course in that time Paranormal Romance had emerged and I didn’t think people would be interested in just any romance. So over the course of a few months I wrote what you see before you as The Winter Princess. It’s changed quite a bit from the original first draft though.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing is dialogue driven, to the point that sometimes I forget that the reader doesn’t have the scenes already in their heads as I do. There’s also a formula to my stories, I’ve found. Over time it’s boiled down to the following: My main characters are almost always teenage girls, they always fall for or end up with older guys, and they always come with baggage. I can’t help it. They mirror myself at fourteen.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’d like to think so, but I’m not quite sure what it would be. Maybe just don’t do what Zooey did. She’s not in control, like at all. She’s trying to escape something which ultimately she has no control over. I know, I’ve been there and it’s hard. Drinking and alcoholism, no matter how you portray it… well, it’s never going to be pretty. I grew up being silenced because of it, and I didn’t want to do that in my books. I wanted to speak out, and tell people just how confusing it is. It’s this disease, like depression that nobody really talks about, something that everybody hides, and I’m tired of hiding.
Are any of the experiences in The Winter Princess based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes. Most of the events that are portrayed in my books are influenced by real life. Zooey’s father Patrick, for example, is based off some of my experiences growing up with my mum. And Zooey herself is a lot like me. I won’t give any specifics, even though I want to, because it will ruin it for others.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Um, Angela’s Ashes, Looking for Alibrandi, Jessica by Bryce Courtenay and Little Girl Lost by Drew Barrymore. Anything by Sonya Hartnett and John Marsden. These were the books that got me through high school.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
VC Andrews, Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley. I picked these over all my writer friends (and trust me I do owe them a huge debt and love their work immensely) because I wouldn’t have put pen to paper if it hadn’t been for the stories they wrote. All of which I read over and over again.
What book are you reading now?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Its research really, as I’ve never read it, but one of my characters was given it as a gift on her ninth birthday. I sort of have to read it to make sense of her more clearly, as it colours her relationship with a certain guy she’s with.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
The last book I read was called “Starting Over” by Evan Grace.
Are you currently working on anything?
Yes. The complete list is rather long, so I’ll just list my top three.
Dandelions, Book 4 in the Eldritch Series; Sovereign, Book 3 in the Eldritch Series and Even Angels Fall, Book 1 in the Lilin Chronicles.
Name one person that you feel supported you outside of family members.
It’s hard to name just one person, but if I had to pick right this second it would be Nicky. I think I might have stopped writing and persisting if it wasn’t for her.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think I would have taken a little more time in polishing it, as its a little rough around the edges.
How did your interest in writing originate?
I was twelve, and there was this program called Creative Writer for Windows 3.1. I didn’t know it then but my stories were my way of dealing with an event in my childhood I’d since repressed. I shouldn’t have been writing about such adult themes, so young. I think I scared my parents a little.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I climb out of the black limousine and out into the rain, not bothering with an umbrella. Ahead of me is the hearse, waiting alongside the church. Even from this short distance I can see the coffin laden with flowers, so many flowers. It’s as if he cares and for a moment, just one, I want to believe that he does, but deep down I know that he doesn’t and it’s all just a pack of lies. He’s just doing it for appearances sake, and it makes my tower of resentment towards my stepfather grow even more.
It’s a short walk into the church as we follow along behind the hearse. We sit up front in the first row. I’m next to Rowan and even he, like me, has tears running down his cheeks.
It’s only moments later that the minister takes to the pulpit but I don’t hear the words. My gaze is firmly fixed on the coffin ahead of me.
I close my eyes. Run, Scarlett, run!
I only open them when I hear a familiar voice. It’s Ash.
“I’m sorry for you loss Scarlett.” Standing alongside him is a woman with greying hair.
I only smile.
“Your kind is not welcome here,” my father stands. “Now leave.”
“I’m not here for you. I’m here for my daughter,” she looks at Ash, and finally at me. “And granddaughter.”
I chance a look at my father. He’s red faced and beginning to sweat.
“Perhaps we should leave Mab,” Ash says.
“No, don’t! If anyone should leave it’s him,” I point my finger at my father. “He killed her. He lied to cover it up and he thinks he’ll get away with it but he—”
My father hits me. His hand comes down across my cheek so hard that the entire side of my face hurts. Tears sting my eyes almost immediately.
“I hate you!” I cry. “I hate you. I wish you were dead!”
I run, heading for the entrance to the church.
Outside the rain has stopped but it’s still overcast. Ahead of me three figures are advancing towards the church.
I take a seat, perching on a raised concrete bench. In the cracks is a dandelion and I snatch it up from its concrete bed.
“Scarlett?” Ash stops seeing me sitting on the bench. I take a deep breath and close my eyes and make a wish. I wish my mom was still alive.
“Honey, I don’t think… that’s not how it works,” Ash takes a seat next to me.
“You don’t know that! How can you know that?”
“Scarlett, Dad wants you inside. We need to get going to the cemetery,” my older brother Holden says walking up to me.
I cross my arms and shake my head. “I’m staying here!”
“Scar, come on!” Rowan yells but I don’t budge.
“Scarlett I swear to God if you don’t get in that fucking limousine this minute I’ll—”
“You’ll what… hit her again? I think you know by now what the repercussions of angering certain people are William. You wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of my wrath now would you?” the Grandmother asks.
Dad nods, and then turns back to me. “Get in the bloody car, now!” He hisses.
“Goodbye Ash,” I murmur slipping off the concrete bench.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes. Knowing people are going to read what I wrote, especially the sex scenes.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have too many favourites, honestly, but here are three:
Anne Rice because she was one of the first that drew me to Paranormal and Horror fiction. I love the scenery and the character names and the feel of her books. The rich history that is New Orleans… Anne simultaneously drew me into the world of Witchcraft and Catholicism. But I can’t adhere to such a strict doctrine; churches and a male led faith just don’t sit right with me.
Marion Zimmer Bradley. I discovered The Mists of Avalon on a Pagan recommended reading list. Early into my exploration of Wicca and Paganism I felt drawn to the Celts, primarily the Welsh because my maternal grandmother hailed from Swansea. I had an uncle Arthur, an Aunt Gwen and my mother’s middle name was Faye. It was enough of a sign and to this day, I still credit that book for helping me find my place as a writer.
Cassandra Clare because I got these as a Mother’s Day present in 2009 from my husband during a rough patch in our relationship. It was completely unexpected. I read both books in quick succession and have been hooked ever since. I love urban-ness of these novels, the way she blends the lore of vampires, nephilim, angels, fey and werewolves… it’s beautiful.
Who designed the covers?
I did. Unless my stories are featured in an anthology. I have had a little help along the way, especially for some of my upcoming releases, but the cover for The Winter Princess was all my own work.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Not running away with my characters… There were times where they’d get into epic long speeches. I had to cut those down, because people just don’t talk like that. Also Puck. He was a bit of a surprise, as was Tam Lin. But it gave me an excuse to take a deeper look into all of the Irish myths and culture.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes, I learnt to slow down and focus on the details, not just the dialogue. It’s still a work in progress but I’m getting there.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write your story the way it needs to be written. Worry about publishers and what they want later.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read my books and stories. I’ve learnt a lot about making my writing better over the last few years.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing The Winter Princess to life?
Knowing Zooey had been raped at seventeen and ignored the pregnancy for four and a half months. It probably wasn’t realistic, but she was 17 and Catholic and everything I read on Catholicism told me abortion was a sin, and rape wasn’t very well perceived. Also naming certain characters, just in general really. I like the names to all fit with one another and I hate creative names with a passion. Zooey was named for the character in one of JD Salinger’s stories, he went by Zooey, when his real name was Zachary. It was at that point I knew Zooey had a twin brother.
What genre do you consider your latest work?
Paranormal Romance. I’m hesitant to call it Young Adult because the sex scenes don’t fade to black, but that’s what I like about it.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Yes! Sometimes I don’t overcome it… but usually doing anything but focusing on writing will help bring me out of my writer’s block.
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
Nope. The most planning I do lately is plan the main cast of characters. I don’t plan the story because the characters will generally find someway to change it on me.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Yes. My first novel. I called it “Charity” and it’s about three teenagers, Charity, Jordan and Charity’s twin brother Cory. They are all scattered in different corners of the globe. Charity in the US, Jordan in Oz and Cory in London. They meet at an international music camp, which is how Charity and Cory discover that they are siblings. It leads to some kind of confrontation with the parents… the rest is pretty much up in the air. It might have potential one day, if I ever get back into Contemporary Romance but for now it’s been shelved.