SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.
WORTH: It may sound cliché, but I really am one of those people who say they’ve always loved to write. From the time I was very young – keeping diaries, writing what would be considered editorial letters to no one in particular, writing poetry for myself, ghost writing on behalf of my dolls – all those things, until I got to high school and started writing poetry during class. I loved taking liberty with essays, writing what felt good to my ear and my heart (whatever the grade may have been as a result). It was in fact my Freshman English teacher who told me I had a wonderful way with words.
I wanted to be a lot of things growing up that wove around the want to be a writer. By the time I graduated from high school I was debating between going off to New York to be a dancer and attending college to become a writer. After my mom asked what I’d do if I broke my leg, I opted for the journalism degree as my route to becoming a writer. (I was also a member of the University of Missouri-Columbia Golden Girls dance squad to help satisfy my need to perform.)
After college, I started as a reporter and eventually gravitated to corporate communications, marketing, etc. Along the way, I realized that my desire to be a writer, specifically a novelist, had not gone away. But, it wasn’t until I linked up with my critique group in 2004 that I pushed myself to finish the book I started in 1998 and dropped in 1999. That’s when I accepted what I really wanted to do with myself and my talent.
SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?
WORTH: Where Souls Collide on its face is the story of a woman who’s had a bad dream, what that nightmare means in her life, and how she can prevent the murder she thinks she’s foreseen. Beneath the surface of that plot line, however, Navena Larimore is struggling with the fact that she comes from a long line of women with known psychic gifts. She’s a new millennium woman who wants to make it on her own credentials and not lean on this so-called power to succeed in life. She’s also a woman who struggles with love – as many women do. She’s been complacent in the relationship she fell into, which works for her until Maxwell comes along to make her remember what she’s missing. Professionally, she works in Michigan where the economy lags behind the rest of the nation. Her company is facing bankruptcy and everything she’s worked for in her career is at stake. The paper’s leadership is faced with some tough decisions and brings in an outsider as Navena’s boss to revitalize the paper. That new boss, of course, is her old love, Maxwell McKnight, who desperately wants her back. Navena’s challenge is to unravel the conflicting struggles presented by her professional, personal and psychic lives and weave them into a fulfilling outcome for herself and the man she loves.
SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
WORTH: I hope the story makes people think. I’ve developed a set of Readers Guide questions that you can find on my web site. They ask things like, have you ever been in love with someone you couldn’t have, do you believe people have spiritual twins the way they say we all have a physical look-alike, how far would you go to see love through. These are topics that bubble beneath the surface of the book and help support the ending that Navena creates for herself.
SORMAG: Do you ever have a hard time letting go of a character after the novel is finished?
WORTH: Well, I was blessed in that Where Souls Collide is my first completed manuscript and my debut novel. So I can honestly say that before I finished the book I already had half a dozen ideas in my head for the next book. And by the time I made it through the revision process I was good and ready to undertake something new. Now that I’m wrapping up my second book, I’m just as excited to bring some of my other ideas to life.
SORMAG: What do you feel is the key to writing convincing characters?
WORTH: I hope that’s something I’m continually learning. I think strong writing overall is important. For me, characters should have defined personalities, but they should be human – they have some type of flaw. You can sympathize or empathize with whatever their goal or quest is in the story. And they should have obstacles that they can overcome in ways that are consistent with the premise of the story.
SORMAG: What makes your writing style unique?
WORTH: I love the plotlines in suspense and horror novels (like Dean Koontz), but I love the poetry of Maya Angelou and the literary prowess of Toni Morrison. I’m a big fan of the Twilight Zone and a softy for contemporary stories like Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan. I think all these elements influence my style. I write to an internal rhythm and because I’m broadcast trained, I write for the ear as much as for the eye.
SORMAG: What are you doing to promote your book?
WORTH: A lot. One of the good thing about my day jobs I’ve held is that they’ve been writing-based and marketing focused. So I came into publishing with that know-how. I started a web site when I re-joined my critique group three years ago – about a year before the book was even finished. Many people wait until their book is about to be released to establish an online presence. But I’ve been building my e-list and establishing relationships all along in preparation for my eventual release. I’ve purchased media lists, distributed electronic press kits, contacted African American bookstores and book clubs across the country. I have a MySpace site, ran an ad in Romance Sells and am now promoting here at Shades of Romance. I belong to several writers’ groups and I listen to what published authors say has given them the biggest bang for their promotional buck and I use those marketing tactics when I can. Even with the background I have, this is a lot more work than the actual writing!
SORMAG: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
WORTH: That I didn’t have a good initial grasp of the genre I wanted to write (or whether I wanted to write genre fiction). I didn’t understand the “rules” of publishing – writing query letters, a synopsis, the submission process, etc. I didn’t have a good feel for plotting and structure. Making sure you have a black moment, inciting incident, etc. Throughout my learning curve, I think my membership in Romance Writers of America was extremely beneficial. Even though I don’t write formulaic or traditional romance, there are a variety of sub-groups writers can join to help improve their craft.
When the first book was finished, I think I was surprised by my own tenacity; how I managed to see my dream through while balancing three kids and a full time job.
SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?
WORTH: Not much. These days I just try to make sure I sleep more than four hours a night. In putting aside my writing for so many years to focus on my family, I realized that this is what I do for myself. I write. It’s worth it.
SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
WORTH: Readers can write me at P.O. Box 31-2456, Detroit, MI 48231. Or they can email me at email@example.com or through my web site at http://www.stefanieworth.com/. I love to hear from people and try to get back to everyone as soon as I can.
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