Thursday, November 17, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Stephanie Casher

STEPHANIE CASHER is a freelance editor and author of multicultural women’s fiction. Her debut novel, When Love Isn’t Enough, has been earning rave reviews, and was a finalist in Dan Poynter’s 2011 Global eBook Awards in the category of Multicultural Fiction. She has a BA in Sociology with a Minor in Education from UC Santa Cruz, and won the Dean’s Undergraduate Award for her Senior Honors Thesis “Negotiating Identity and Cultural Capital: The Social and Structural Factors Affecting the Educational Attainment of Bi-Racial Men of African-American Descent.” In December 2010, Stephanie partnered with authors James W. Lewis and Omar Luqmaan-Harris to form The Pantheon Collective (TPC), an independent publishing company. TPC has published four books to date, including the award-winning novel SELLOUT by James W. Lewis.

Currently living in Santa Cruz, California with her partner and two cats, Stephanie tries to spend as much time as possible in nature. When she’s not climbing mountains, swimming in the ocean, or wandering through the forest, she spends her free time dabbling in Astrology, hanging with her amazing nephews, and meditating on how to make the world a better place. To placate her inner gypsy, Stephanie travels extensively in search of inspiration.

How did you start out your writing career?

I actually started writing as therapy. :) I’ve been journalling since the 7th grade, and have always found writing to be quite cathartic. When I was in my mid-20’s, frustrated with my misadventures in dating, I decided to write a “novel” depicting what I wanted my life to look like when I was thirty. An extended wishing exercise of sorts. At that point, I never really intended to try and get the book published, but a friend of mine who is also an artist read some chapters and proclaimed, quite persuasively, that this was my “path” and that I needed to drop everything and finish my book, ASAP. I took his words to heart and set off on this crazy journey into the writing world!

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned so many things from this process. WHEN LOVE ISN’T ENOUGH is actually my second completed novel (I completed SOUL MATES, the sequel, first), so the most important thing I learned was not to write novels in a series out of order! But I also learned that great books are never written on the first draft... the greatness emerges through the editing and revision process. I have a great respect for editors, and deep gratitude to everyone who provided feedback on the early drafts of my novel.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted to tell a relatable, real-life love story. I grew up reading romance novels and watching soap operas, and have a sincere appreciation for both genres and the escapism they provide. But for some reason I felt compelled to tell the story of what happens if you DON’T get your happily ever after, and how to heal, move on, learn, and grow from those experiences. I feel those messages are important as well, especially for young girls.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite because all my characters are special to me for different reasons. But Damion was fun to write because he encapsulates a lot of qualities I always imagined in my “dream guy.” He is a true hero, that rare selfless man who does everything right, most of the time, yet is chronically underappreciated. I can relate. ;)

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

Honestly, how well the book has been received, and how emotional folks can get over my little characters! I’ve read some reviews that made my heart swell with pride, and received emails from folks that just blew my mind in terms of their level of connection and engagement. I mean, I definitely have my own favorite authors where when I finish one of their books, I just cannot stop gushing to anyone who will listen about how wonderful it was... But I never really dreamed that folks would be gushing like that about ME. That part has been really cool, and the most pleasant of surprises. :)

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love everything about writing. Being able to dive into another world of your own making is just... magical. I’m a control-freak, so my make-believe world is one of the few places in my life where I have total control (well, at least until my editor gets her hands on the manuscript, lol). What I hate is not having enough space and quiet time to dedicate to writing. I’m totally one of those writers who would be quite happy all by myself in a little cabin in the woods, with no phone and no internet, just drinking coffee, reading, and writing. But alas, the “real world” demands that I make money to pay all these bills that keep showing up in my mailbox, hence the day job, publishing company, and freelancing. All of that leaves very little time left over for my own writing. :(

What is one thing you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I’d known that traditional publishing wasn’t the only pathway to becoming a successful, published author. In starting my own publishing company, I’ve learned that this path is ultimately more fulfilling, and financially lucrative, than if I had gotten a book deal with a traditional publisher. I retain more creative control over the product (once again, the control-freak in me couldn’t be happier), keep more of the profits, and get to experience success on several different levels. With the rise of ebooks, the game has completely changed, so being in bookstores (the few we have left) isn’t essential to sell books. Granted, this route is a LOT of work, but so far it has been incredibly satisfying.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

The biggest DO is to definitely invest in having your manuscript professionally edited, especially if you plan to self/independently publish. As authors, we’re just too close to our work, and we can’t approach the manuscript objectively the way a fresh set of eyes can. And we owe it to our readers to put forward the strongest, cleanest, body of work possible.

The DON’T would be, don’t give up on your dream. It may take longer than you want or imagined, but if you keep pushing and keep working, you WILL get there.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Oooh, that’s a tough one. I think I might have to say Elizabeth from Eat, Pray, Love because taking the time to spend a year having adventures abroad sounds so amazing to me. I would love to take an extended vacation to Italy and Indonesia, though I might substitute India with someplace like Brazil or Australia or Thailand. :)

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Granted, I don’t have much spare time these days, but I love to travel, and I love being out in nature. Whether I’m relaxing on a beach, or strolling through the redwoods, those are the moments when I feel most at peace. My life moves really fast, so I take every opportunity I can to slow it all down. It keeps me sane.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Everyone can find me on Facebook, so I interact with a lot of readers there. More and more people are finding me on Twitter as well. I also love attending book fairs and festivals when I can because 1) I love to travel and 2) it gives me a chance to meet folks in person, which I really enjoy.

Our theme for this month is MEN IN LITERATURE. What male author are your reading?

Since I moonlight as an editor, I’m currently reading author James W. Lewis’s work-in-progress. James is a fantastic writer, and author of the award-winning novel SELLOUT, which follows three individuals and the consequences they experience dating outside their race. His sophomore effort, A HARD MAN IS GOOD TO FIND, is an erotic comedy. It was released in June 2011 and is just hilarious. I highly recommend both.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That love is the answer to most of life's questions. :)

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book is SOUL MATES, the sequel to WHEN LOVE ISN’T ENOUGH. The novel rejoins our characters (Samantha, Tony, Damion, Faby, and the gang) about seven years later. A lot has happened since the last time we saw them, and they’ve all moved on in some surprising (and startling!) ways. SOUL MATES also introduces a new male protagonist, Jake Clayton, who is throwing his hat in the ring to win Samantha’s jaded heart. I’d say the question at the root of this novel is -- what do you do when you discover you have more than one soulmate???

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)



Samantha’s second year of college started with heartbreak and betrayal. Lost, lonely, and robbed of all joy, she’d completely given up on ever finding love again when a chance encounter put her in contact with the man who would change her life.

Tony never believed in love at first sight – until he laid eyes on Samantha. But within moments of meeting her, he knew without a doubt that she was the woman he was put on this earth to love. There was only one problem – Angela, his girlfriend of five years.

Tony doesn’t want to hurt Angela, with whom he shares a rich history, but his connection to Samantha is undeniable. Angela, however, is not about to let the love of her life go without a fight.

When desperation takes a tragic turn, a chain of events unfolds that changes the course of all three of their lives forever. It is a heartbreaking tale of true love, terrible timing, impossible choices, and how you find the strength to go on when you discover that, sometimes, love just isn’t enough…

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