It's funny how you meet people.
I started listening to the Self Publishing Podcast back in January, and it's been a huge influence on how I structure and run my book business. But when they ran their Fiction Unboxed series, it actually bumped me out of the "lone writer" headspace and bought me into a thriving community of indie publishers, all of whom have the same goals and dreams I do. These "Unboxers" have been a tremendous source of inspiration and information, and they've helped me learn and grow as an author.
This week, I had the privilege of swapping interviews with one of my fellow Unboxers, author Stacy Claflin (you can read my interview here). Stacy discusses her work in YA paranormal romance (aren't all YA romances paranormal?), and talks about some of her upcoming projects including her Gone series.
Tell me about your background. What got you into writing? What was "the spark?"
I've always been a storyteller. I would get into trouble as a kid making up stories and trying to convince other kids that they were real. I think I scarred my cousin for life with my "Cavity Monster" story!
Around the age of nine or ten I started writing chapter stories in spiral bound notebooks. In high school, I started writing my stories on floppy disks when my mom handed down her awesome green-screen computer. I still have most of my stories, though I wouldn't let anyone read most of them now.
In college, I used to write chapters and email them to a select group of friends. Always a fan of cliffhangers, I always got replies begging for the next chapter before I had even started it. I wish I printed those out. I can't even remember what they were about.
After college, I stopped writing fiction for about (mumble) years. I pretty much forgot about it and started a personal growth blog. It was pretty popular and won several awards, but my heart wasn't really into it. I took a course by another personal development blogger and discovered that I wanted to write and publish fiction.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Do you stick to a genre? If so, what is it?
So far I have, but that won't last long.
Up until now all of my books have been YA paranormal romantic suspense. Most of them are from my Transformed series and is about a girl who discovered that she wasn't the ordinary girl she always believed she was. It sounds like a typical story line from that genre, but I have so many twists and turns and little-known mythical creatures that there's hardly a dull moment.
I'm getting ready to publish a suspense trilogy about a kidnapped teen. It's different from my other books, but I think the suspense element keeps it relevant to my current readers.
The next genre I'm looking at is sweet romance, although I'm not sure at this point if I will publish under my name or if I'll use a pen name.
Tell me about your latest work.
My latest release is a standalone from my Transformed series. One of the side characters, Clara Erikson, is a fan favorite and I left some unanswered questions in other books that were answered in Hidden Intentions.
Clara has a secret from the love of her life - that she's a supernatural creature. She thought she would be okay hiding the truth from him, but when things get serious, she knows that she needs to tell him. She could lose him, but if she doesn't tell him, she definitely will.
I wrote it in such a way that a new reader can start there if they would like.
What's the most important aspect of your story: Character? Plot? Setting? Other?
For Hidden Intentions, I would have to say character because the main thing I was focused on was telling Clara's story. Plot is quite important, but the characters are the primary focus.
When it comes to the business of writing, how do you handle that? What's your marketing strategy?
It changes constantly. I'm in the business of studying the market - that sounds so professional, doesn't it? I'm a member of various online writing groups and I pay attention to what others share. Thankfully the indie community is so helpful. Even highly successful authors are willing to share what worked for them.
I think it's important to listen to people of all levels, and not just the top ones. It's like Hugh Howey says (to paraphrase), we should focus on those who are in the middle range, not the outliers like himself.
When compared to traditional publishers, what are the advantages and disadvantages faced by indies?
The advantages of being an indie author grow almost by the day. When I first started publishing in November 2012, I was somewhat apprehensive of saying that I was independently published. Today, I am fully proud to be an indie. I love how the perceptions of indies have turned around in our favor.
We have many advantages, the big one being rights to our books. I have a friend who has a book traditionally published and I've watched as she struggles to market her book. She has to ask permission before doing just about anything and she can't change the price, give away ebook copies for giveaways or review sites. I really feel for her.
I've been able to give away countless copies of my books, change the prices on a whim, sign up for any ad or promo that I want, and just last month, I changed the covers of five of my novels. I decided that day to change them, I put them together myself, and posted them. The best part? People love them and I've been told that they purchased my books just because of that one change. I could have never done that - especially in one day - with a traditional publisher.
Who is your ideal reader?
Someone who loves twists, turns, and suspense. All of my books have those elements, whether they're paranormal, romance, or not. My ideal reader also doesn't mind a bit of a teaser (not a true cliffhanger) at the end of a book and also in the chapters. They also love series, because that's what I write.
What's coming up? Anything you'd like to promote?
My Gone trilogy is coming this month (September 2014).
Macy Mercer only wants a little independence. Eager to prove herself grown up, she goes to a dark, secluded park. She’s supposed to meet the boy of her dreams who she met online. But the cute fifteen year old was a fantasy, his pictures fake. She finds herself face to face with Chester Woodran, a man capable of murder.
Distraught over his own missing daughter, Chester insists that Macy replace his lost girl. He withholds food, locks Macy up, and roughs her up, demanding that she call him dad. Under duress from his constant threats and mind games, her hold on reality starts to slip. Clinging to her memories is the only way of holding onto her true identity, not believing that she is Chester’s daughter.
You can read the (short) first chapter here.
How do we learn more about you?
You can learn everything you ever wanted to know about me (and maybe a little more) on my website: About Stacy
How important (or unimportant) are pants in your life?
They're quite important. I'm not sure how I would get along without them. Thanks for asking!
Stacy Claflin’s Author Bio:
I love writing, reading, and watching most anything paranormal or suspenseful. My favorite shows include Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Fringe, Pretty Little Liars, and Once Upon a Time.
I've been writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my story telling would get me into trouble when I would try to convince others that my stories were real.
When I'm not busy writing, I spend time with my family. I also run a home preschool and educate my kids from home.
Find Stacy and her work online: