Monday, 25 February 2013

Interview: Stephanie Cage

What have you had published?
‘Perfect Partners’ is my first full-length novel, and I have one novella, ‘Desperate Bid’, published with The Wild Rose Press.  Before that I mostly wrote short stories and poetry.  I’ve won story competitions in two magazines –Woman’s Own and Yorkshire Ridings Magazine – and both winning stories were published.  I’ve also written some business reports and articles, but they’re not quite so interesting! 
What genre(s) of book do you write?
I’ve dabbled in all kinds of things, and I’m still quite experimental with my short stories, which include science fiction, fantasy and horror, but the focus of my longer fiction is always contemporary romance. 
What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote ‘Desperate Bid’ because I was curious to imagine what it would be like to hand over control of your life to another person.  At the start of the story Alex is fed up and somewhat tipsy and he and his flatmate decide to put his life up for sale on an online auction site.   Then, when Sarah places the winning bid on him, he has to live with the consequences.  And, of course, Alex and Sarah turn out to be very attracted to each other, but things are a little awkward because of the power dynamics between them.  That’s the area I particularly wanted to explore in the story, although I also loved writing the song lyrics (Alex is a musician and Sarah a music lover – just one of the ways they’re great for each other). 
How long did it take you to write “Perfect Partners”?
Forever!  I started it back when Strictly Come Dancing was quite a new thing and nobody was sure whether the public’s fascination with ballroom dancing would be a flash in the pan.  The first draft was very rough and mostly focussed on Redmond and Lisa and their relationship.  I put the manuscript away for quite a few years, then took it out and submitted it to the RNA New Writers’ Scheme.  The feedback I got helped me not just to polish the story, but to rewrite it completely, with much more drama surrounding Lisa and Red’s experiences in the competition.  That was the version accepted by Crimson Romance. 
What is the working title of your next book(s)?
I tend to have a lot of projects on the go.  The working title of the sequel to ‘Perfect Partners’ is ‘A Step in the Right Direction’ and I’ve written about 30,000 words of that. I’m also editing a short Christmas romance with the working title of ‘The Santa Next Door’, and in last year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I completed the first draft of a sequel to ‘Desperate Bid’ called ‘Desperate Measures’, but I haven’t started editing it yet. 
When and why did you begin writing?
I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t write.  I’ve always loved fiction and when I was very young I used to invent Enid Blyton-esque adventures involving me and my friends, so it was a natural progression from that storytelling to putting my stories on paper. 
Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
I don’t have an agent but I do go through publishers rather than self-publishing.  I know you lose some control that way, but I like having the support of professional editors, cover designers, etc, and I’ve been lucky that my two publishers – The Wild Rose Press and Crimson Romance – are both very supportive and easy to work with. 
What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
Finding time for it!  It’s so easy to put off until another day, but if I put it off for too long I get very grumpy, so I’m trying to be more disciplined about fitting writing in regularly around my day job.  
What do you do in your spare time?
I read a lot and I enjoy watching films and going to the theatre, especially to see musicals.  I’ve been in amateur productions of Anything Goes and Sweet Charity, and I’d love to do more performing.  I enjoy swimming and ice skating and have recently taken up Zumba (as recommended by Darcey Bussell). 
Who is your favourite author?
I never know how to answer that question because there are so many books I love in different genres.  Possibly Louise Bagshawe because I always come back to her books when I need a pick-me-up.  I especially love ‘The Movie’ because it’s so glamorous and exciting.  
What’s your favourite genre to read?
I probably read more romance than anything else at the moment, but I also enjoy fantasy, science fiction and crime.  I’d get bored if I had to stick to one genre! 
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The main thing I always advise writers to do is read – but not just to race through books to find out what happens at the end.  It can be hard when you’re enjoying a story to stop and ask yourself how the author is drawing you in, why their characters are so convincing and what you like about the settings and writing style, but you can learn so much from that sort of thoughtful reading. It’s well worth taking the time, even if you have to go back through the book a second time to do the analysis. 
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just to say thanks for inviting me to be interviewed.  I’ve enjoyed it - the questions really made me think!  

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