Today, our star of honor is Anna DeStefano. It’s so nice to have you here and shining! I’m sure you’re ready to share with us your success and many fun endeavors. So, let’s get on with the party!
It’s amazing to be here. Thanks for having me!
Best-selling, award-winning author Anna DeStefano wants to you stop, look, and keep digging, until you find the soul of your own fantasies. No matter how moody the setting or impossible the dilemma, Anna’s characters and stories challenge you to hope and dream for your own exciting future, the way her strong heroines and hunky heroes do. Her Forgotten Betrayal and over of Anna’s books have their own Pinterest pages (http://pinterest.com/annadestefano/her-forgotten-betrayal/). Scoot over for all the fun details and updates. Then join Anna’s blog each week for posts on The Soul Of The Matter, Dream Theories, Things My Teenager Says, How We Write, Waterfall Challenges, and more. And to keep up with all her 2012 releases, friend her of Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
Let’s get to know you a little better. Why don’t you step over here under the spotlight and shine a little.
Ouch! That’s hot (in a non-Paris Hilton sort of way). Let me get my shades and sunscreen… Ok. MUCH better ;o)
First questions: (I’ll go easy on you.)
No worries. I like it rough ;o)
What made you decide to become a writer?
I don’t think I really decided. I think I just am a writer, you know? If you get around to reading my extended bio on my website, you’ll see my detour through college and my first career in the “secure” world of corporate IT. Yet my knack for math and computer programming aside, I always ended up doing the writing on each project I worked or managed—until I specialized as a senior tech writer. At some point (and with some gentle nudging from my husband), it became clear I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I tried to write that book I’d always wanted to… That was something like 19 published/contracted novels ago ;o)
Resistance is futile, when your soul knows who you are long before you stop fighting the truth inside you.
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?
Water inspires me. I write beside it as often as I can. People inspire me, the good and the bad in them—they become the characters that come to me long before the stories. Hope inspires me, and the things we do as we cling to the belief in our own happily ever after. Love inspires me—I’ll always write romance, no matter what else a publisher chooses to call a book, so a reader will pick it up and discover what I’ve painted inside.
Do you beat your muse? I mean…Wait! Do you have a muse? Does he/she have a name?
This is turning into a violent sort of interview. Lovely!
My muse is the everyday, I think. Whether I’m writing a gothic thriller or a family drama, or something more edgy like my sci-fi/fantasy, I see the everyday in the amazing, other-wordly, healing, damaged, magnificent and ordinary ways I write my characters. I like to be funny, though I often am not. I like to be dark, so the light can shine more brightly when you reach that happy ending. I like to be in as many points of view as possible, so your can see rather than simply listen to what I’m saying.
My muse is my reader’s emotions, and how well I turn them toward what he/she needs to experience from the story. If I engage you and transport you and bring you to a place where you’re feeling my characters’ journeys the same as they are, then I’m in heaven.
Let’s talk about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantser? Are there any weird things that you do before you start to sit down to write? (Like stretch those fingers…? Scream at the computer…?)
Before I start, I wanted. Shorelines, shopping malls (my natural habitat, my husband says), interior hikes into theNorth Georgiawilderness where I find my hidden waterfalls). I’m not plotting or planning at this point. I think I’m listening. And I’m more often than not alone, even when I’m in a room full of people. The things I need to discover about a story come from within, I think. Doesn’t that make me sound like a party animal!
I’m a pantser and a plotter ;o) I teach my odd method all the time, and the more I do the more people I discover who basically do the same thing, only they’ve never had a name for it.
I’m a pretty analytical person, so I live to plan and revise. Planning is all about character discovery for me—how the character comes to the story and how she’ll arc during her journey through it. Revision is about deconstructing how the story developed from my basic character and plot plans while I “pantsed” through the rough draft. I spend as much or more time revising as I do drafting every book, because that’s when I find myself at my most creative—once I know how the bones of the book will work. Then I get in there, figure out what I really want to do with all the pieces, and make the story shine.
What is your call story?
I’d been trying to sell for about five years, had been “close” for two of those years, after regularly submitting material, having full manuscripts requested and rejected, revising for editors and entering/winning as many unpublished contests as I could. I’d really gotten to know well the editors of the Harlequin line I wanted to write for. I’d done my homework and paid my dues and kept writing, despite the let downs and bumps in the road.
My break came when I finaled in the 2003 Golden Heart. Two editors from my final round judges requested the book—one of them the senior editor at the line I ended up selling to. I won the GH, my agent came on board, I worked on spec revisions for Superromance, and within a year not only saw that book hit the shelves (and win a Gold Medal review from Romantic Times), but had contracts for three other novels (the second of which is just now being re-released by Harlequin’s Heartwarming imprint July 1st of this year).
So, overnight success—after busting my ass for 5 years. And I haven’t stopped writing my heart out ever since ;o)
Have you always envisioned yourself a writer? What were you doing before you started writing? Has your earlier career influence your current one?
I’m a computer geek and a girl who loves technical writing—breaking down someone else’s process (mostly computer design and application in my career), and making it make sense to someone else. This skill helped me discover my own writing process pretty early on, and how to make the most of my time as I craft a new manuscript. It’s also helped me teach other fiction authors, and edit, the way I did as a tech writer.
And as I say to everyone I have this conversation with, being analytical is a bonus to a creative writer. Being able to create freely (drafting), while at the same time being able to see the different parts of what you do and how they fit together and then how to make them all work better as a whole, is a gift not every writer has. If that’s your strength, as it is mine, your challenge will be to trust your gift and engaging your creativity when you need to simply play and draft write freely—but the analytical side of you will always, if you let it, make what you create even better!
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now with your writing career?
My plan from the start has been to write for multiple publishers at the same time, which I have for the last three years. I don’t see that changing. And to be a best-selling author. Which I am.
But in the next five years of my career, I of course want to take that to another level, where more and more readers see me as a brand and auto-buy my books, whatever the genre or platform. I want to make my publishers wildly happy and successful, so in turn they will promote the heck out of my books, which will make me wildly happy and successful financially ;o) And I want to indie publish my own titles (my first self-pubbed romance will be out this fall), so I have the flexibility to write what I like and what I think my readers will love, without the middle-man of going through a publishing house/imprint.
Skies the limit in our industry these days. I want to be intuitive and take risks and write quality books readers enjoy and find more and better ways to get those stories into their hands so my career continues to grow and I can continue to create indefinitely—WHILE I send my son to college with the money I make ;o)
What is the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your writing career so far?
The downtime I encountered when I was sick a few years back. It was hard, but I don’t regret it. I’ve learned a lot from it. And as I’ve gotten back into the swing of my career, that time and experience has given me focus. Being away has inspired me to dive back in and revel. I’m so excited to have FOUR novels coming out in 2012. I’m grinning ear-to-ear at the possibilities and options all authors have in today’s publishing market. It’s a GREAT time to be an author!
Now let’s talk more about you. If you could pick to live the life of a movie star, who would it be and why? Does this person show up in your stories?
Um…Anyone with a killer shoe collection and a reason to wear them every day ;o) They’re my shopaholic obsession ;o)
Through research, what is the most silly thing you’ve ever done?
Actually, I’m a writer who does most of her research online, through reading books and articles, or exploring character. I’m not the kind of girl who stops cops on the freeway to ask them all kind of quirky questions…
What genres do you read? Do you read what you write?
Everything. Classics. Contemporary romance. Romantic suspense. Straight thrillers. Sci-fi/fantasy. Literary fiction. Words and characters and emotion. I read it, as much of it as I can, wherever I can find it.
My only rule is typically not to read in the genre I’m writing while I’m writing it. Muddles with the voice. So that’s when I mix things up the most and branch out when I need a break from my own work. You know, in all my free writing time ;o)
What’s the last book you’ve read for fun? Did you read it on an e-Reader or are you still a paperback-kind-of-person?
I just read Suzanne Brockmann’s entire category romance “SEAL” series, because I found it bundled for the Kindle. LOVE it. I love everything she writes, but I’ve never read all of those books in order/sequence.
I’m doing more reading than ever on an eReader, for the convenience of it, though when I find an author I know I’ll want to re-read a lot I’ll order the paper/hardcover online. I can’t tell you the last time I actually bought a book in a bookstore that didn’t come out of the remainder bin.
What did you wish you had known back then when you began writing?
To always stay true to your voice and the type of story you write, regardless of the shifts in the marketplace.
Publishing today is very different than it was eight years ago. Some of the sacrifices I made to continue writing for my first publisher sidetracked me for a while from what I’ll be writing the rest of my life—emotional, intense stories about broken people who heal and inspire all of us to find our own healing path. That’s a little dark for Harlequin, though I love all of my editors and books there.
But now more than ever there’s a place for the books I write to find readers who love them. If I’d known that all along, I’d have saved myself the worry and angst over how I’d re-make my voice into something more sellable in a single publisher’s lineup—and I’d have focused sooner on doing what I do best even better, knowing there’d be publishers lining up to work with me down the road (or that I could successfully publish my novels myself, if it came to that).
Is there anything else you’d want your readers and friends to know about you?
Um, I might write dark and stormy, but in reality I’m a snarky, smart-ass, fun-loving kid of girl ;o) I enjoy meeting readers and other writers, so look for me at your next conference or reader event. I’ll be the one with the long, dark hair on the dancefloor with my girlfriends and the cover models! Or check out my blog. We have a blast out there, too!
And lastly, where can we find you?
Website: www.annawrites.com and www.annawrites.com/blog
Thank you so much for being a star! (Please insert giveaway here if available.)
I’ll be around to answer any questions you have… And Entangled Publishing is offering a free digital copy of Her Forgotten Betrayal to one lucky commenter!
Remembering will save her life. But will the truth destroy their love forever?
When the CEO of a global technology empire retreats to her ancestral mountain mansion to heal from a brutal shooting, she discovers the danger has just begun. Suffering from amnesia, she is at the mercy of nightmares that soon morph into something much more real…as well as a menacing stalker determined to toy with her sanity.
The FBI suspects her of illegally selling top-secret research, and has sent an agent to find evidence of her treason. She doesn’t realize the man who sweeps in from the cold claiming to be her protector, and her former love, is keeping dangerous secrets from her. She begins to trust him, unaware that he is about to repeat the most painful betrayal of her past–a past she doesn’t remember…a past that may kill her.
“Dark danger and lush romance, Anna DeStefano mysteries deliver!” —Catherine Mann, USA Today Bestselling Author
“DeStefano crafts a tense and touching suspense about forgotten pasts and reunited lovers.” —Caridad Pineiro, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author
“Intrigue, danger, and a hero to die for make DeStefano’s Her Forgotten Betrayal a page-turner!” —Rita Herron, Award-Winning Harlequin Intrigue Author
A crash beyond the kitchen’s door jolted Shaw from her thoughts. The wooden spoon rattled from her fingers to the stovetop. She whirled toward the dining room.
“Esme?” She raised a hand to cover her heart.
She was scaring herself senseless for nothing. She was going stir crazy, that was all. She’d simply been alone for too long. The unexplained rattles and noises and sometimes even voices she kept thinking she heard were symptoms of cabin fever.
The house answered her with silence, except for the soft hum of the refrigerator. She took an uncertain step forward, determined to conquer her fear. There was no one there, she told herself firmly. No one was ever there. There was no threat, except from her own panic. All she had to do was turn on the dining room lights, and there’d be no one lurking around the next corner, waiting to attack her.
She reached for
“Sorry, Shaw,” the faceless, scratchy-voiced man whispered from her nightmare.
She clenched her hands into fists, her nails digging into her palms.
“Don’t be such a baby,” she said out loud. “Stop this.”
Fear and the amnesia it fed had stolen everything from her. She had no recollection of the four high-tech research centers she was said to oversee. Or how she’d come to be the sole living heir to an estate that included not only this mountain house near the North Carolina border, once used by her family as a summer retreat, but also a loft in Atlanta and homes on several other continents. And to add insult to injury, no one had yet been allowed to tell her more. Doctors orders.
She wanted her life back, damn it. She smoothed her hand against the dining room door, and braced herself to push it open. She could do this. She had to.
Sudden darkness swallowed the kitchen.
Her thoughts were immediately swamped with the panicked claustrophobia of being trapped in a closet, waiting to be discovered.
“No.” She blinked, willing the lights to come back on. Her imagination was merely playing tricks on her, anticipating the worst.
But regardless of how many times she tried to force the room into focus, there was nothing to see. Someone had killed the power for real. Her nightmare was coming true. It was waiting for her in the very next room.
She backed away.
Fell over one of the kitchen chairs.
Landed hard on her backside.
“There’s no one there,” she insisted. “The electricity’s gone out. That’s all.”
Something else crashed in the dining room, followed by the distinct sound of a man’s footsteps, inching closer. She covered her mouth with her hand. She scrambled backwards on the floor, her nightgown and robe twisting around her legs. Disjointed dream memories swirled through her mind. She lurched to her feet. She felt her way along the wall, blindly heading for the storage room and its back door to the outside world.
She was a fool, a weak, clueless fool. But she couldn’t stop herself from panicking.
“Kill the bitch…” the night whispered.
She clawed at the back door’s stubborn deadbolt. A glimmer of sanity kept her from running into the freezing, moonlit darkness. If she really was in danger, heaven only knew what waited for her outside the mansion’s protection. And there was suddenly nothing but silence behind her, no movement whatsoever.
She tried to believe this was just like all the other times when she’d freaked herself out and then realized how ridiculous she’d been. She was running from ghosts. She tensed to turn back, to confront her paranoia. And heard footsteps again. Closer than before. Behind her. Coming for her. And there she stood like a paralyzed idiot, trapped between the shadows beyond her family’s home and the nightmare crowding closer within.
A hand clenched in her hair. A gun pressed into her skin. When it fired, the sound of the blast shattered her reality all over again.
Thanks for stopping by Anna! Anna is offering a free giveaway of: Her Forgotten Betrayal (Entangled Publishing, Dead Sexy Books) to a random commenter that will be selected by her!