(Folks, don't forget to comment for a chance to win one of Stephanie's books. AND don't forget to go back and look for the questions I posted about Stephanie for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate.)
How long have you known you were a writer? Did you receive a clear "call?" Or have you loved writing all your life?
- I've know I was a writer since first grade. My elementary school really emphasized reading and writing. We had writing every day and when we finished our story, we got to go to the "publishing office," which was a tiny room in the school. We picked our cover and binding, then they typed up our story, bound it, then returned it to us to illustrate. When we were done, we read it to our class. I loved every bit of it except the illustrating. From then on I told people I wanted to be a writer.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
- I write young adult fiction. My books are geared to girls between the ages of 14 to 18.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
- My writing days were pretty uniform until my book released. These days I'm often doing more marketing than actual writing, and marketing includes blogging, commenting on other blogs, Facebooks, Twitter, school visits, giving interviews, and all kinds of other things. When I'm writing I try to get a thousand words done a day. I often do more, but a thousand is always the goal. It takes me about 4 to 6 months to write and edit the average book.
What is the spiritual message in your book? What can readers expect to get from it?
- While it's not something I set out to write about, the overall spiritual theme I see is that you're never too far gone for God. He always loves you. He always wants you back.
You've recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your book?
- Sure. My latest book is Me, Just Different It's the first book in The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series. Skylar Hoyt is a girl who seems to have it all--she's pretty, popular, and has a great-looking boyfriend. Her senior year should be the best one yet. But a horrible experience at a summer party has changed everything. Now she's vowing to make better choices, including going back to church. But as Skylar tries to gain new perspective on life, the world as she knows it begins to fall apart.
- Her parents are constantly fighting. Her younger sister has a big secret that Skylar is forced to keep. the guy she's dating is annoyingly jealous. And the new guy down the street is just plain annoying. In the midst of the chaos, Skylar starts to wonder who her real friends are and even more importantly, who she is.
- Me, Just Different is available wherever books are sold.
Where do you get your ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?
- I feel like ideas come to me in snippets. For example, when I wrote about Skylar, I wanted her to somehow be trapped in a relationship with a guy who SHOULD be her dream boyfriend, but who she wasn't attracted to. But that can't sustain a whole novel, so I pieced together other ideas. Like an idea about two sisters who look totally different that each other, but are both beautiful.
- Naming characters is one of my favorite parts of the process. A lot of my names, specifically main character names, are names I liked for my own children but were vetoed by my husband. When I hear names I like, Imake a note of them. And I spend a lot of time on babynames.com.
- Usually my main characters have a little bit of me in them, but I don't think Skylar and I share a single trait. We both like the same kind of ice cream, and the similarities end there.
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don't understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you've gone through? Who's inspired you the most?
- I remember a very dark season of rejection that lasted almost all of 2007. Every lead I had with an agent or publishing house turned into nothing, and I received criticism form people who I didn't anticipate receiving it from. I remember walking into Barnes and Noble, looking around me, and thinking, "There's a TON of books in here. Why do I think they need one more? What do I have to say that hasn't already been said by someone who's published?" And there was one day--the day I received the unexpected criticism--that I curled up on the floor of my apartment and just laid there feeling like a failure. The only real bright spot writing-wise during that year came December 21st, when the woman who became my agent, emailed me and said, "Hey, this premise looks interesting. Send me the first chapter, okay?"
- Now that I'm published, I don't often feel like throwing in the towel. Interviews and school visits still make me so nervous that I often look up at heaven and say, "Please don't make me do this. This scares me a lot. Please get me out of this, okay?"
- My husband really inspires me. The man works hard, and he's talented at basically everything he touches. Seriously, It's a good thing he has no interest in writing a novel because I'm sure whatever he turned out would totally kick my butt. It inspires me to do my best. I don't want to let him down.
Would you explain how you "chose" (or was chosen) a publisher? Do you just go "inny, minny, miney moe?" Grin. Now that you're published, can you sit back and relax from the success you've experienced?
- That, "can you sit back and relax?" made me chuckle. In a word, no. I think you can only sit back and relax when you've decided you no longer want ot be a published author
- My publishing house, Revell, chose me. Well, we chose to submit it to them, but basically they chose me. I love being a Revell author. The team there is awesome, and I have the honor of being in the same catalog with great writers like Melody Carlson and Julie Lessman.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel?
- Likes: writing, reading, coffee, and my family: particularly, my husband, daughter, and dog.
- Dislikes: things that take me away from what I've listed above. And spiders.
- If I could travel anywhere . . . hmm . . . I'd like to get back to Europe. Spend more time in Ireland. Do a Jane Austen tour in England.
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you'd like to share? Promotional information?
- My website is www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com. There you can check out my blog, sign up for my newsletter, and read the first chapter of Me, Just Different. If you're in the Kansas City area, I'm having a couple book signings in early November, so check those out.
Thank you so much for having me, Carole!
Thank you for being here, Stephanie.
There you have it, folks, interesting information about the new young adult author.
Look for my next interview, Wednesday, October 28, with Dwight Ritter. He's the author of "Emerson, The Magnificent."