Q & A
Chatting with Stacey
How did you become a writer?
It wasn’t easy. I was told from a very early age that, having dyslexia, I would never be a writer. How can that be, I wondered? Sure, I could barely read, and though I struggled and fought and cried every time I sat down to try, I still wanted to be a writer.
That probably sounds funny, but it’s true.
Eventually I believed these naysayers. I graduated with a communications degree from the University of Washington (where I became a voracious reader).
I worked in advertising, owned a coffee cart, went back to design school, got married, became an interior designer, moved out of the city, and gave birth to three beautiful daughters.
Looking into my daughters’ eyes made me think. How can I tell them that they can be whatever they want to be if I am too afraid to believe in those words myself?
I couldn’t, so I sat down at my computer, turned spell-check on, and started to write.
What is it like writing with dyslexia?
Embarrassing. I stump spell-check daily. Can you imagine? Word, Pages, it doesn’t matter what application I am working with, none of them can guess what I’m trying to spell. Thank goodness my husband is a spelling whiz. Some of the things I call him with are truly mindboggling. A sense of humor definitely helps, and a great editor doesn’t hurt, either!
How long does it take you to write a book?
Oh man, do you really want to know. Just joking. I guess the answer to that question depends on what else you have going on around you and how into the subject you are. Shanghaied, my first book, took three years. I decided to try and write that story with out an outline, which was very difficult. I probably wrote over 120,000 words by the time I was finished and then chopped out over half of it during rewrites.
Hush took me less then six months. This time I had an out line and really got to know my target audience. Knowing what and whom you are writing too really helps get your story on paper.
Whisper, the next book in the Lakeview series, took about six months as well. But don’t forget, I am just talking about the first draft. I usually work the story with an editor for another six months before it’s ready to be read by my publisher.
Do you ever get writers block?
Not really. I have the opposite problem. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to sit down at my computer and get my thoughts out there. Our youngest daughter had to set the alarm on my computer to make sure I wasn’t late to pick her up from school. Sometimes I even forget to eat lunch. When I’m really excited about something I’m writing I start eating chocolate. I also have a weakness for gummy bears during action sequences, which is why I’m a runner. The trails around our house are a great place to gather my thoughts before sitting down.
Any advice for would be writers?
Read, even if you aren’t good at it. Find a genre that really floats your boat and go for it. You’ll be surprised by what is out there.
Write, everyday if possible. Keep a journal or log your ideas in a notebook. Anything no matter how random could become a best seller.
Never, and I repeat never, let anybody tell you you can’t do something because you have a disability. Faith, courage and a good education can help you overcome any obstacle.
How can I contact you?
The best place to reach me is here. I promise to read everything you send. I might not be able to get back to you in a timely manner, but I will certainly try.
Who is Blakely really?
The character of Blakely is loosely based on our oldest daughter. I wish there was a real Max for her, but at this point she is still looking.
Where did you get the idea for Hush?
Every night, we gather around the table for dinner. On one such evening, several years ago, we were discussing the British royal family. “Well, there’s both Tudor and Middleton on my side of the family,” my husband informed our girls.
“Does that mean I could be a princess?” a much younger Blakely asked. “Only if several hundred people died first,” I told her. “But what if that happened? What if there was some sort of big family reunion and they all died?”
And the idea was born . . .
What motivated you to write Hush?
I wanted to do something with our oldest daughter. She had just started her first year at boarding school, and the loss of her in our day-to-day life was devastating.
So, I thought, I’m going to write a book for her, and if I’m lucky, she would help me.
I was lucky.
What about the setting? Was anything inspired by actual places?
There is an amazing place in British Columbia, Canada, called Shawnigan Lake School. I have never seen such an awe-inspiring campus, or group of teachers. Together with my memories of the boarding school I attended, (also situated on a lake) Brewster Academy, in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, I created Lakeview Academy.
Most of the events that take place at Lakeview were created in my head. The characters are mine as well. There is a real “Mrs. Middleton,” although that is not her name, and I am thankful for her wise and caring presence daily. And yes, “Mr. Middleton” really does play gin rummy with the younger girls in the house.