Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a Michigan girl, born and bred, and I still live here with my husband. I’ve been writing since I’ve been old enough to pick up a pencil. My grandfather was a phenomenal storyteller, sharing anecdotes from the good old days, always making people laugh. He knew where to pause, had the best comedic timing…I wanted to entertain people just like he did. I’m not much good at performing for people, but I could certainly pick up a pen and tell tales that way!
I’ve written dozens of books, and On Edge is the first one I’ve published. It won’t be lonely out there for long, though. There are many more to come!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
On Edge is a book about being successful when you love what you do, and it’s set in the sport of figure skating. I’ve had a passion for the skating since my youth, and even took a few lessons! Aside from the grace and athleticism, I’ve always been amazed at the passion and focus these senior competitors have for the sport. They don’t skate to win, they don’t skate to make money. They skate to skate.
That’s such a good lesson to learn. Do what you love, put your heart into it and the rest will come. Young adults should consider that as they go through school, and adults should be reminded before they spend entire lifetimes doing something that doesn’t bring them joy. Amidst the murder, mayhem and romance in On Edge, my protagonists learn that winning shouldn’t be their final goal – it should be happiness. They aren’t necessarily one and the same.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I wish I could tell you something funny! I don’t really have any unusually habits, but I do really “get into the zone” when I’m writing and can focus on nothing else. Once when I was preparing a book for an agent, I slept very little and ate Rice Krispies pretty much every meal. Of course, I came down with the flu! Now I try to force myself out of the zone so I can search for protein and veggies. I also try to exercise. Writing is a very sedentary job, and moving around helps the ideas flow!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I’m usually influenced by writers who create strong, solid characters. Doing so has always been my greatest challenge, and I respect those authors who do it well. As a romance writer, Nora Roberts does an excellent job of driving her plot through characterization and character decisions. William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway have been longtime favorites for this same reason. Sidney Sheldon has always dazzled me with his cleverness, and if you haven’t checked out Spencer Quinn and his Chet and Bernie series, you should, because all the stories are told from the point of view of Chet, who’s a dog!
Writing isn’t just books though. If you want to see some great writing, turn on the BBC and watch the new Sherlock series, which is about to debut its third season. Or listen to a Johnny Mercer lyric, like “Moon River.” There’s great work everywhere. Writers shouldn’t restrict themselves to exploring just one medium.
What are you working on now?
My latest book follows a young woman on vacation to Venice, Italy, where she’s determined to figure out the next steps in her life. Before she can even start straightening out those details, she gets tangled in some crazy events set into motion seventy years before by a man in a World War II concentration camp. Suddenly, she finds herself on the run, with a map. Not only do the bad guys want to catch her, but the good guys think she’s the bad guy, and they want her too! Her only way out is to figure out how to read the map, get her hands on what’s hidden there, and use it to bargain for her freedom.
There’s romance, suspense and self-discovery. It’s a fun book to write!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m new to this, so I’m figuring it out as I go! So far I love Awesomegang.com. I’m following the site on Twitter and Facebook and supporting my fellow authors! I also enjoy goodkindles.net. They have this “Show me a Random Book” button. I keep hitting it and buying more books. I hope it works on other readers as well as it works on me!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Keep writing, and finish your projects! If you have finished work, you’re that much farther ahead than the thousands of authors who start something and then leave it in a drawer. There’s no agent or publisher that can do anything with a half-finished work.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advice I ever got was from my screenwriting teacher, Dr. William Vincent, at Michigan State University. He said, “The first act is where all the action gets rolling – and it has to be done in the first ten minutes of the movie!” That applies to books, too! I try to get the action rolling in the first twenty or so pages of my book and get that reader hooked.
What are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh. It’s the story of three women who are, at some point in the narrative, married to Ken Kimble. You see and understand Kimble through the eyes of the three women. I have about 120 pages to go, and I’m finding it very interesting. The women are trying to figure Kimble out, so he’s a bit of a mystery to the reader. It’s a fascinating approach! I’m really enjoying it and will definitely recommend it to others.
What’s next for you as a writer?
More writing, of course! Whether it’s a novel or a short piece for my blog for executive assistants, I want to be writing as much as I can.
What is your favorite book of all time?
My favorite book of all time is Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell created such wonderful characters, and set them in a time that fascinates me. I can read the book and watch the movie (which is a masterpiece of writing in itself) over and over again. I never get tired of it.
Author Websites and Profiles
Stephanie Gillett Amazon Profile