I'm thrilled to feature an interview today with my friend and fellow platypus enthusiast Stacey Jay. She's got a brand new YA novel out, Romeo Redeemed, the sequel to her bestseller Juliet Immortal. Without further ado...
1. Without giving too much away, can you tell us briefly what Romeo Redeemed is about?
Romeo Redeemed is a “bad boy meets bad girl and finds true love and renewed faith in humanity” story. There are plenty of supernatural twists and turns, but at its core it’s a love story and one of my favorite that I’ve written to date. I really hope my readers enjoy it!
2. Did you discover anything surprising about yourself or your characters while writing Romeo Redeemed?
I had to let Romeo be bad. In my early drafts, I kept trying to make him more likable from the start, but the scenes weren’t reading true. When I went back and let him be transformed more gradually, the book finally started to “click” for me.
3. How do you develop your books? Do you have any set process, habits or rituals?
I start with an in-depth synopsis (10-15 pages) and then move on to a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. I usually end up keeping a little over half of those chapters by the time I’m done with all of my rewrites.
4. Say your fairy godmother has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book; where would you want to go and why?
To Palmorola Island off the coast of Italy. I’m writing a book that is set (in part) on the island and I would love to spend a few weeks there basking in the sun and making words. *sigh* Now you’ve got me daydreaming, Jody…
5. How long did it take you to write Romeo Redeemed?
It took about three months to write the rough draft and about the same amount of time to revise. I used to do both more quickly, but I’m slowing down in my old age.
6. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t like to talk about my work in progress until it is finished and/or I place it with a publisher. I’m afraid if I do that the idea will enter the collective unconscious and someone else will write it before I can.
7. Do you ever experience writer's block and if so, how to you overcome it?
Yes, I do, and I tend to muscle through it, hating myself the entire way. But looking back on finished books, I’ve learned that those scenes I write when I’m feeling “blocked” and hating myself aren’t any better or worse than what I write when I’m feeling awesome-sauce about my work. So I just keep going, like Dory from “Finding Nemo.” I just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
8. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
And if you ever get to the point that you’re feeling frustrated with it all, take a week off to go refill your creative well. Go for long walks, spend the day at a museum, go on an adventure and do something you’ve never done before—all of these things have helped me become inspired about writing again after a grumpy, frustrated patch.
9. What genre do you find the most difficult to write and why?
Serious, contemporary teen books. I’ve tried a few times, but the gritty contemporary stuff always makes me very sad and I have to stop before I spiral into a despair pit. Reality is harsh. I prefer to torture my characters in a fantasy-laced world.
10. Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Right now…focusing on one project. I’m all over the place and can’t seem to hone in and finish anything. It’s a problem, but I’m sure I’ll overcome it as soon as the deadline for my next book gets a little closer…
11. If you had to have one word or phrase tattooed on your forehead for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Breathe, love, repeat.
12. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My dad. He passed away when I was 19 and I never got to have a conversation with him as a full-fledged adult. I’d love to spend a dinner chatting with him about life and showing him pictures of the two beautiful grandsons he never had the chance to meet.
13. If you could travel into the past or future, where would you want to go? Why?
Well, I’d definitely choose the past. I’m afraid of the future. I’m afraid of what humanity is doing to our planet, and the suffering we’re going to bring upon ourselves and the rest of the creatures on Earth if we don’t pull out heads out of our bums and make some big changes in the way we live and do business. As far as how far back in the past…maybe the late 1960’s? I’d love to hang out and be part of the flower power generation for awhile.
14. If you had to compare yourself to an animal, which one would it be? Why?
A platypus. Because I often feel like the last remaining member of an extinct genus. And I’d really like to be a mammal that lays eggs rather than giving live birth. (I’d have at least two more children if that were the case.)
15. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m a morning person. I do my best work when I can get up early and go straight to my desk without talking to anyone except the coffee pot.