Some time last year, I got an email from an author who'd just got a book accepted by my publisher Vagabondage Press. She wanted to ask a few questions etc, and we corresponded and it seemed rude not to invite her over for a cup of tea and slice of cake to celebrate the release of that book, Day for Night. So...
Welcome to my blog Stacey. Although we've been emailing for a while, I don't know much about you - so tell me a bit about yourself? And your book?
Stacey: Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Annalisa! I'm very happy to be here.
Hmm...let's see. Well, I was born in San Francisco but my family moved to Los Angeles when I was about five or six. I still miss San Fran and its atmospheric moodiness compared to the eternal yellow sun of L.A. I write about the annoying "beautiful weather" a lot, and I'm sure people who have to live in blizzard conditions would like me to shut up. I lived in New York for several years, where I met my husband in Brooklyn. He's also a writer. I haven't had a pet in at least 20 years, and I really miss having a cat.
My novel Day for Night is based on a short story I wrote several years ago that I had a lot of fun writing, so I extended it into a novel. It's about a wannabe actress in L.A. who stumbles upon an alien abduction taking place in the laundry room of her apartment building, and her life turns upside down from there. Then, worse, she discovers the world is populated with vampires also. In order to "fight back" against the aliens, she takes some extremely hard-core actions, making very important decisions while being dead drunk. It's all tongue in cheek and meant to be comical; it's how I would react if I suddenly discovered how paranormal the world really is.
A: So, do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?
S: I not only do not have a plan for the zombie apocalypse, I would probably be one of the first ones to be ambushed and consumed. No doubt I'd be reading my kindle somewhere, and one of them would just walk up behind me and tear my jugular out.
A: I'm not sure I'd be much use either! At least you'd be doing something you loved :-)
S: Yes, I might die with a smile on my lips!
A: Is this your first novel, or do you have lots of manuscripts squirrelled away under your bed/in the attic?
S: I have four other novels, but the first three were all hand-written during high school. I haven't even looked at them since then. I'm afraid of what I'll find. The fourth one, though, isn't too terrible; I wrote that one during college. It's about a girl with anorexia nervosa. My husband read it years ago and said it was one of "the most relentlessly depressing" things he's ever read. But he didn't say it was bad!
A: That's interesting because I'm working on a novel that was recently rejected on account of it being 'relentless depressing'. I'm trying to make it less so.
S: It's hard to do; when a topic isn't very cheerful, it's hard to "make it less" depressing somehow.
I guess Cormac McCarthy was famous enough to get "The Road" published, because from the minute you open that book to the day you close it, it's depressing beyond all understanding!
A: What was it about Day for Night that made you want to query it? And how long did you query before Vagabondage Press accepted it?
S: The short story Day for Night was quickly accepted and the editor said that everyone there loved it. I enjoyed writing it because it wasn't depressing, and this along with the magazine's response to the short story was enough encouragement for me to expand it into a novel and send it out.
My dreams ended very quickly once I began to query agents, though. I think I queried for over a year and received maybe two responses back, both of them positive, but ultimately saying, "But, uh...no thanks!" Eventually I gave up on agents and just queried publishers that accepted unagented manuscripts. Four accepted me within a three-month period compared to the year of no answers from agents.
A: Wow, FOUR. You have just made every single one of my readers (and me) jealous! Was there anything about the publishing process that you didn't anticipate?
S: You know, I haven't been surprised by anything. It's sort of gone the way I imagined, all of it. Except for the social media part. Even though I knew ahead of time that I'd be expected to help with marketing, it didn't prepare me for the depths of my incompetence in that area. I was basically "off the grid" until the publishing process. I wasn't even on Facebook anymore. I was on it years ago but it felt like opening a door to a dark room and having bats fly out at my face when people from the past would pop up and say hi. It's been a challenge readjusting my thinking in that area. But evidently, writers can't be hermits anymore these days!
A: I totally get that! What are you working on next?
S: I was working on a sci-fi story, but it's proven to be more difficult than I think I'm ready for right now. Hard-core sci-fi definitely is NOT my forte; I think you need to do it justice by being accurate and doing lots of research. And then I also read a lot of advice on the internet about sequels that said, basically, "You need to be writing your sequels...NOW." So the sci-fi is on a back burner while I map out Day for Night II or whatever it'll be called, and probably several more. It feels a little premature to me, like how can you start writing sequels when nobody's read the first book yet? It feels arrogant. But I guess preparation can't hurt. I'm probably over-thinking it.
A: I think writers have to be a little arrogant. We have to assume people want to read our work, or we wouldn't even get started! And finally, do you have any little rituals, foods, music etc that you need in place while you write?
S: I actually can't write with music playing, unless it's instrumental only, and very low in the background. I wish I had some elaborate and interesting rituals that I could tell you about like I have to be sitting high up in a tree during a lunar equinox with a pad and a special pen that a Tibetan monk gave me in order to write, but I don't. I just need quiet more or less, and a bag of potato chips will never be rejected!
A: Sometimes, simple is best! Thanks so much for joining me today, and good luck with your book.
S: Thanks for taking the time and having me on your blog, Annalisa. That was a lot of fun!
When reality TV star Rae Miller is kicked unceremoniously to the curb by her back-stabbing cast mates, she quickly realizes that revenge fantasies and unemployment are the least of her problems after she witnesses an alien abduction in broad daylight. Worse, after escaping a terrifying almost-abduction herself, Rae succumbs to a sexy Nosferatu’s silky assurances, becoming undead in order to up her alien Ultimate Fighting skills. Life is hard as a 38-to-40-something aspiring actress in L.A. Thank God for Jack Daniel’s and denial.Vagabondage Press // Barnes&Noble // Goodreads // Amazon
Stacey was raised in the San Fernando Valley but born in San Francisco, where she left part of her heart. She has worked on a dude ranch, coached gymnastics, and captions for the hearing impaired. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines in New York and L.A., including Ginosko and The Rag. She is currently working on the sequel to her novel Day for Night. She lives in “beautiful downtown Burbank,” as Johnny Carson used to say, with her husband who is also a writer. Visit her at https://staceyebryan.wordpress.com
Hi Annalisa and Stacey - interesting read and also how you two met - and interesting you're both published by Vagabonde Press ... good luck to you both - cheers HilaryReplyDelete
When writers reach out to each other (and bloggers, and people in general) you never know who you'll meet and how many friends you can make!Delete
Hi, Hilary. Yeah, I was floundering from day one trying to figure things out. Annalisa has been a Godsend. Thanks for your well wishes!Delete
I can relate - I wasn't on the grid either when my fist book was accepted. That was a big learning curve.ReplyDelete
I found a home with a publisher rather than an agent as well. I think smaller publishers are much more willing to take a chance. Lucky for us.
Congratulations on your first book!
And look how far you've come, Alex. You ARE the grid, as far as blogging goes :-)Delete
Stacey, meet Alex... one of the most amazing bloks in blogging!
Well, I can't wait to get there too. Case in point: I keep trying to reply as "Word Press" and keep putting in the Word Press address just like it says...and it tells me I have an illegal character in the URL! So that's why I'm "Unknown" now! I'll have to brainstorm this. Meantime, thanks, Alex!Delete
excellent interview and kudos to Stacey for her "quick" leap into getting published. Obviously a unique tale that captured the Vagabonde Press's eye. I too would be reading and captured in the zombie apocalypse, or my glasses would break. Anyway - fun chat, AnnalisaReplyDelete
Lol, these zombies are going to have an easy ride, aren't they?Delete
Haha. And...making me look crazy, NOW everything works and my picture pops up. Say what?! Thank you, Joanne. Annalisa's questions made it easy to *seem* interesting! :)Delete
Congratulations to Stacey! What a fun interview. Love the premise for the book. I can't write with music on either. I like my quiet.ReplyDelete
I'm lucky that I can write with most noise happening, including the dog barking at the postman!Delete
Hi, Christine. Thanks! Yeah, no distractions...at first. When I start writing, it's like walking on a tight rope....! Annalisa's lucky!Delete
Congrats. Four acceptances is great. Getting an agent is almost as tough as getting accepted by New York publishers.ReplyDelete
Yes, four is an amazing achievement! I agree that agents are getting just as tough as publishers, I have experience :-(Delete
Thanks, Sandra. I was shocked. I didn't think ANYbody would answer...ever!Delete
Lol, hi Sandra :-)Delete
Interesting interview, and congratulations on the new book! The only plan I have for the apocalypse is to post signs that say "Zombie Food" on my loud, annoying neighbors' front doors.ReplyDelete
Ooh, that's a good plan. I've got several of those...Delete
Haha. I have a couple of those too. Don't we all?Delete
Good to meet you Stacey. Your book sounds fun!ReplyDelete
Hi Carol, yes it does sound fun, doesn't it?Delete
Thanks, you guys. Good to meet you, too, Carol.Delete
Great interview, Annalisa. It's lovely to hear of your friendship. Great premise. Sounds like an interesting read. Wishing Stacey lots of success.ReplyDelete
It's lovely to make new writer friends - they're the people who really understand why you're so upset when you kill a character or make them marry the wrong person :-)Delete
Thank you for your well wishes, Nicola. It's been great getting to know Annalisa, and hopefully I haven't driven her crazy with all my questions!Delete
Potato chips:) Yes, snacks seem to help the creative process:)ReplyDelete
Yeah, I think the unconscious movement of hand to bowl and back to mouth helps when I'm stalling, trying to find that right word or phrase... :)Delete
What a fascinating, interesting guest visit by Stacey. It's awesome how your friendship came about. All the very best to Stacey.
I try to write with the minimal of distractions. Then, the dog takes over the keyboard and that's it for my writing.
Cheers and thanks again for this interview.
Thanks, Gary. Annalisa's the catalyst, of course, with the penetrating questions! It's funny that your dog takes over--usually that's the favorite activity of cats!Delete