Darque Reviews welcomes paranormal romance writer, Jeanne C. Stein.
Hi Ms. Stein, thanks so much for sharing this time with Darque Reviews! We’re looking forward to getting to know a bit more about you and The Anna Strong Chronicles.
JS: Thank you. It’s an honor to be asked. Your support to the writing community is a wonderful thing.
Can you tell us what drew you to writing, and was being an author the path you thought you’d choose for your future?
JS: I always loved to write—but I didn’t pursue it seriously until I moved to Colorado from San Diego ten years ago. That’s when I quit a full time day job to give the writing life a serious try. In Denver, I was lucky enough to connect with the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization. I joined a critique group and learned while I could always tell a story, I had a lot to learn about writing one. I’m still in a critique group and still learning.
The Anna Strong Chronicles is certainly a favorite series among paranormal romance readers. Can you tell us a little about The Becoming and Blood Drive? Where did the idea for the series come from?
JS: The series began as a straight mystery about a bounty hunting duo with the title Fair Game. It wasn’t until I met an editor of a small Colorado press who mentioned she was looking for vampire stories, that the idea to turn it into something else took hold. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself years before! I’ve always loved the genre. Once I started the series, I found they were the easiest books to write and by far, the most fun. The Becoming and Blood Drive were published first by ImaJinn Books, then picked up by Ace.
You must be as excited as the rest of us that The Watcher, the third book in the series, is getting ready to release from Ace Books in November. Can you tell us how many more books you have planned for Anna Strong?
JS: I hope to be able to write many, many more. Anna has a lot of stories to tell. I have signed a contract for the fourth and fifth books. In fact, book four, The Legacy, is completed and scheduled for publication next year.
What are you working on now? Do you have other projects in mind for the future?
JS: I’m about to start the fifth book. I do have other projects in mind (one involving a character in the story The Witch and The Wicked, which I see you have a question about so I’ll wait to answer.)
Do you work on more than one project, or do you prefer to focus on one at a time?
JS: I prefer to focus on one at a time. I’m learning, however, that it’s not always possible. I’d like to do at least one more book a year as well as one or two short stories. I so admire writers who can do two or three or four books a year. I’m not sure I’m that clever, but I do want to try my hand at new things.
You have a great short story titled The Witch and the Wicked in the recently released Many Bloody Returns anthology. Sophie is quite different than Anna, was it difficult to switch gears and develop Sophie’s character?
JS: Sophie was so much fun! The theme of the book, vampires and birthdays, was wide open. I have a witch, Belinda Burke, in The Watcher and originally thought I might want to reprise her. But she’s on the dark side of the force and the story I had in mind called for a lighter touch. I invented Sophie, who is Belinda’s sister—a good witch. She is a caterer to the supernatural community who also cooks up her own cosmetics on the side. When something happens at a vamp’s birthday party she’s catering, she suddenly has an idea for an anti-aging cream that not only stops the ageing process, but reverses it. I’ve had emails from readers saying Sophie needs a book of her own and I’m seriously considering it. Sophie will appear in the fifth Anna Strong book though.
Do you have a particular time of day that you set aside specifically to write?
JS: I write mostly in the morning. I’m an early riser. I’m generally at my computer by 5:30 or 6, work until 11, take a lunch break, work until 4. Of course, there’s always marketing interspersed with the actual writing. Email, blogs, travel to plan, etc etc. When I’m on deadline, I set a goal for myself of at least five pages a day. Weekends are not so structured, but I do try to write on Saturday and Sunday, too.
What genre do you enjoy reading? Who are some of your favorite authors and have they influenced your own writing in any way?
JS: I was just asked that very question by my editor for a spot on Penguin’s Sci/Fi Fantasy page! I have to say, Joss Whedon is the biggest influence. He is truly a master of dialogue and characterization. He’s the kind of writer I aspire to be. Then, in no particular order: Robert B. Parker (another master of dialogue); Sara Paretsky (V.I. was the first kick-ass female protagonist I ever read); Laurell K Hamilton (who really launched Urban Fantasy); J. K. Rowling (two words: Harry Potter); my critique partner, Mario Acevedo (though I always tease him because he won't write a REAL sex scene); newcomers Richelle Mead and Jackie Kessler. My top favorite Fantasy author: Charlaine Harris. Her Sookie books brought vampires out of the dark realm of evil and gave them a gentler face.
There are many more, but those are the top of the list.
Like most any job I would imagine that there are some days that are just harder to get work done. What do you do to unwind and get back into writing your story?
JS: I go to the gym three days a week for kickboxing classes. Believe me, punching and kicking a bag does wonders for stress. I take short walks in between class days. I’ve found that if I’m having trouble, physical activity that takes my mind off the problem does more to help me figure it out than staring at the computer and waiting for inspiration to strike. That old subconscious is a tricky but wonderful thing!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers before we say goodbye?
JS: Just thank you. Every time I walk into a bookstore and see my books on the shelf, or receive an email from a reader who loves Anna as much as I do, or can offer help to aspiring writers, I realize how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to realize my dream. It’s all because of readers. I will never take you or your gift to me for granted.
It’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much for joining us and giving us a peek into your world!
JS: Thank you, Kimberly. Your support is appreciated more than I can say.
PS Great website!
Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews