Thursday, August 30, 2012
Interview by Heather B. Moore
Below, I interview Stan Johnson who writes under Stan Crowe. I'm excited to say that his new book is out: THE CINDERELLA PROJECT
And yes, apparently men can write romance . . . And there is a Goodreads Giveaway open until September 7th.
Heather: Stan, tell us about your road to publication and how you ended up with publisher Breezy Reads.
My road to publication probably began when I was five. My mom entered me in a writing contest held by a local library. I won, and my book was printed and put on the shelves. By my senior year of high school, I started writing much more frequently, and really enjoyed the vent for my teen angst. That evolved through college until, in 2006, I finally self-published a little anthology of my short stories.
Connecting with Breezy Reads was a real piece of serendipity. Long story short, a Facebook friend turned out to be the proprietor of the company. I had sent her a chapter of The Cinderella Project on a lark (and sent the lark to her via e-mail), without knowing she had anything to do with publishing. She liked it, and kept asking for more chapters. Eventually, she asked for the whole manuscript, and not long after that started talking about publishing me through Breezy Reads. The rest is history.
Heather: Wow, sounds like serendipity! (Always looking for ways to use that word.) I noticed that you have a pen name as well, which I do, too. What is the reason behind a pen name?
I'll be honest: my publisher convinced me that the name "Stan Crowe" had more sex appeal (her words) than "Stan Johnson." Given the success of one "Russell Crowe," I agree with her (though I remember that Don Johnson had his day in the sun, once upon a time). In essence, my pen name serves pretty much the same purpose as yours.
My friend teases me about it all the time, though...
Heather: My brothers-in-law call me "HB" now--lovely, huh? So the question you'll probably get a million times from here on out . . . What's the writing process like for you? Is this your first novel? Your 10th?
Second question first. This is my first non-self pubbed novel. Prior to that I put out the aforementioned anthology (Tales from Taenaria), along with a short story in a separate anthology. I was also published on the website "365 Tomorrows" back in 2009. I have numerous other short stories and novel starts on forums and on my computer, if that counts for anything.
As for the writing process, well, "process" is an apt term. The process starts, of course, with a root idea. Often, those ideas come to me in dreams (I can relate to Stephenie Meyer on that point). After that, I mull it for a while, jot down some notes, etc. I'm a blend of planner, and "discovery writer." Typically, once I have a basic plot structure, I start laying down words and run with things. Drafting and copious changes tend to follow as I review, consult with alpha readers, etc.
The most challenging part of the process tends to be "locking on" to the characters. Once I have a good feel for who each character is--how they think, what drives, them, how they speak, their backgrounds, etc.--the rest flows a whole lot better, even if revisions become necessary because of a better understanding of a character (that happened when I was writing Ella in The Cinderella Project).
Heather: I completely agree. Once I know the "character arc" and what makes them tick I feel like I can write the story. Your book, THE CINDERELLA PROJECT, is a romance novel. Is this a genre you are going to stick with for awhile, or do you have other types of books you'd like to work on.
I'm opting for "C--all of the above."
Writing romance was an accidental thing for me. I entered a small, online writing contest with three, separate assignments. The final assignment became the original draft of The Cinderella Projct. It worked out far better than I expected, and encouraged me to continue exploring the genre. I expect I'll get better with it over time, but I think my debut is definitely a good start. In fact, I already have several other ideas waiting in the wings, not to mention the novel I'm working on now. I'll talk about that later, though.
My first literary love, however, is science fiction. More recently, I've grown to enjoy fantasy fic. I've got several ideas for novels in both of those genres. However, I'd like to really "brand" myself first, and the romance thing is working out well at the moment. Once I'm better established in that, I'll probably try my hand at those other genres, and see where I can go with them.
Heather: Branding is good advice for all authors, and then you can branch out into other areas. Tell us how you fit writing into a busy schedule of working, parenting, etc.
If I really knew the answer to that, I'd write a book about it which would likely immortalize me as an author because of the hordes of women who would buy it, desperate for the secret of finding "free time" amidst the craze of parenthood, working, extra curricular activities, and so forth.
Seriously, though, I write pretty much in fits and starts. I do block out specific times for writing, but writing at home is tricky at best. I'm lucky that my kids love me, but that translates into regular interruptions (a closed door only means "you must open this before talking to dad"). Thankfully, my wife has been incredibly supportive of my efforts, and finds ways to deflect the kids, and give me time alone to write when I'm home.
I guess writing in the midst of my life is just like doing pretty much anything else. It has been an interesting exercise in patience, determination and perseverance. I do spend a lot of time thinking and plotting my books when I'm not engaged in other things (i.e. when driving, showering, etc.)
Heather: Very true. Whatever you decide to do besides the "norm" can be tricky to fit in. What are you currently writing, and what's next on the horizon?
My current book is a bit more whimsical/mystical than The Cinderella Project. It's about a guy who (to put it politely) isn't exactly "The Fonz," if you know what I mean. Fate grants him one wish. Glad for the chance to turn around his flat-lined love life, he soon learns that there's wisdom in the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for--you might just get it." And trust me, he gets it.
The question is, can he get rid of it?
After that, I have a few other ideas lined up in the vein of "slanted fairytales," which is what The Cinderella Project was (as evidenced by the title). Though the idea is hardly new, I've learned that there are always fun, unique ways to tell classic stories, even if they've been told a hundred and one times. Or, I may choose to go with another idea that came to me just the other day.
Let's just say it's a broad, bright horizon, and I'm enjoying heading toward it.
Thanks for asking. :)
Heather: Thanks so much, Stan. Best of luck with the new book! (Check out purchase links below and Stan's author blog as well.)
Smashwords purchase link
Breezy Reads site