Wednesday, December 21, 2011
FEATURED AUTHOR: Staci Stallings
A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.
How did you start out your writing career?
I've always had "movies" playing in my head. When I was young, I would put myself to sleep to them. The next night, I would remember where I had left off, "push play," and start from there. My writing career started because I kept "losing" favorite story lines, and when I finally had the time after my first child was born and I became a stay-at-home mom, I started writing them down. I gave those first few to some friends to read. They fell in love with them, and that's how it started.
What did you learn while writing this book?
How very vulnerable our kids are to the world and how diligent we must be in protecting them and listening to them. Their experiences are real, and we can't abandon them as we search for lives of our own. They need us as parents, as teachers, as adult friends to listen and to care and to help them--not to judge them or dismiss them.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
Although it's about high school age students and they will enjoy it, I want it to accomplish two things: 1) to give the kids the courage to stand up to the very real evils they are facing but more so, 2) to tell parents and teachers and administrators to WAKE UP and stop putting our students lives and spirits on the line by trying to keep the veneer of "everything's okay" stretched over our schools. If everything is not okay, we need to get in there and do something about it. PC doesn't work when our kids are being shredded in the land of bullying and threats.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
This is probably going to brand me or something, but I loved Sean, the hero. I'm far more like Robyn, the heroine, who is going to get in there and do something to fix things. But I truly loved Sean, the bad boy who has a heart of gold. I loved him trying to protect Robyn and how he went all out, but still trying not to let her know anything was wrong. He was fun to write because he was edgy but so sincere and wanting to be the good guy.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
That life is still life. I still have laundry to do (should be doing some now, but this is more fun). And I still have dishes to do and still have to go get the kids from school and a million other "life" things that were supposed to magically disappear when I got published.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love getting lost in the stories--whether I'm writing them or reading them. I love to just sit back and watch my characters as they grow and learn. The other night I was reading one that just came out on Kindle, and in the scene the heroine was being really obstinate, and I was like, "Come ON, Elizabeth! Give him a break!" My husband looked at me really funny and said, "Didn't you write that?" I said, "Yeah, but she needs to cut him some slack already!" I love that.
What do I not like? Trying to let readers know I'm here without sounding like I'm some kind of pushy salesman. I love my readers and I love talking with them about the books. It's getting them to go, "This sounds really good" and taking the next step to buy it that is the toughest for me. If I could just give the books out, that would be great. Unfortunately, it doesn't work too well like that.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
To let God work and enjoy the ride. I do that a lot better now than I ever did. Five to seven years ago, I was into the "making it happen" thing. Brought me a lot of misery. Now, it's just "let's see what God has in store for today." That's a lot more fun and I'm a lot more successful as well.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do believe in your voice and your style.
Don't try to fit yourself into everyone else's boxes.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
How awesome it is to hear that someone liked your book. Good reviews make me excited about writing more, and some days that's worth gold to me. Problem is, most people read the book, like it, but never think to leave a good review or to write in and say they liked it. Years later, I'll say something on Facebook or something and they'll go, "Oh, I loved that book. I've read it five times!" I would love to have a way to get them to tell me that when they read it so I can ask 10,000 questions about what they liked and why.
Think about your favorite television show. Part of the fun is watching it. Part of the fun is talking about it. I really like to talk about my books with people who enjoyed them.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
Cinderella--minus the stepmother, two stepsisters, and the mice! :) I just love the story of how she had this hard life, a sad life really, but she stayed beautiful on the inside. And although the dress and the glass slippers helped, if she was ugly on the inside, the Prince would never have fallen for her. I love that.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to Wii Snowboard. I love the sensation of going super fast down this wicked hill and jumping up on these things and doing these flips and jumps, and even crashing and burning. Then getting off and not having to spend six months in a full-body cast!
What do you do to interact with your readers?
Well, I'm on Facebook and I have a Contact Me page on my blogs. I reply to all comments on my blogs. I'm on Twitter. I do interviews on cool blogs like this one and talk to people there. Any way I can think to interact, I pretty much do and try.
Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?
YA (Young Adult) is only one of the genres I write, but I love it. I think teenagers have some of the most challenging, interesting lives that we just don't see because too many times they are either caricatured as materialistic brats or dismissed as having nothing to contribute to the conversation of humanity. Far from either of those, I love the spirit and the energy teens bring to life. I love how imaginative they are and how they are just ready to take on any challenge. And I love how the ones I know care so much about life--theirs and everyone else's.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
That God exists and that He's in our corner. Bad things happen. God doesn't cause those things to happen. Life takes care of that. Just like with parents. They don't cause the child to fall off the bike. Life does that. But a good parent is always there to pick the child up, to hold them, to make it better, and then to encourage the child to try again. They are also the first ones to cheer when the child makes that phenomenal leap into learning how. That's what God does for us, and that's what I know for sure.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
I'll give you a sneak peek of another series for YA that I have out right now. It's a three-book series (The Faith Series), and it's about this group of friends in college and how that group was built. You start out with Rebecca Avery who is this really quirky, fun girl but who kind of blends in with the woodwork. She meets up with Eric Barnett in this hilarious scene (one of my all-time favorites!), and he's this guy who nothing seems to be working out like it is for all of his friends. We start off following them, and then as others are added to the mix, we go through all kinds of ups and downs in their lives.
Those books are: A Work in Progress, A Little Piece of Heaven, A Light in the Darkness
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
I'm on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/staci.stallings.author
Email: staci_stallings (at) hotmail (dot) com
My blog: http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com and http://stacistallings.wordpress.com
Thank you so much for having me! This has been fun! Now, I guess I'd better go get that laundry done... *sigh*... but if you've read the interview and liked it, you can certainly leave a comment and then I'll have a reason to stay here just a little longer (I don't really want to do the laundry anyway!). That would be TERRIFIC! :)
Where do you turn when the watching eyes are everywhere?
Where do you go when no place is safe?
Who do you turn to when saying anything could get someone killed?
Who can you trust when “they” could be anyone?
Robyn Lockhart liked her simple but predictable life in the small Iowa town she grew up in. But when her mother moves them to the big city, Robyn has no choice but to brave the tumultuous high school she’s thrust into. Then, with barely a blink and as an outsider looking in, Robyn begins asking questions that no one seems willing to face. Is it possible to stay silent while simultaneously shouting from the rooftops that something is deadly wrong? And if you shout, beyond those watching every move you make, who will even hear?
“Stallings takes a much darker turn with this novel and she does so very well. The sense of desperation and anguish on the part of Robyn is palpable and you definitely find yourself sympathizing with her. Stallings has created a very memorable character here… an Atticus Finch styled hero who refuses to let threats stop her from seeking the truth and justice."
–Kevin Apgar, Fun With Dead Trees
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