November’s In the Spotlight Author: Shiela Stewart


Hello and thanks for stopping in! Sit back and chill as you read my interview with Shiela Stewart.

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in  her interview contest!

K: Let’s get this interview started, Shiela! What was your first official attempt at writing a story for publication? What happened to the story? Was it published, put away to use parts in other manuscripts, or did you realize it was a lost cause and put it in the “drawer” for sentimental reasons?

SS: I’ve been writing for so long that I’ve accumulated over 50 novels so when I decided it was time to find them a home, I chose three of my favorites at the time and submitted them. Boy did I learn fast. Every publishing house I submitted to rejected them. After a year and plenty of heartache later, I submitted a story to a contest and to my surprise, I was chosen as one of the top three finalists. Though my book didn’t win, I was encouraged to submit other stories. Feeling more positive than I had in a long time, I submitted Kidnapped. The editor sent it back to me with a long list of places to go to learn how to write a proper novel and said once I fixed the novel up to send it back. She worked with me, helping me get that novel publish-worthy and finally three months later I was given a contract.

A lot had to be done to make it publishable, aside from grammar. Originally written as a comedy/farce, I was asked to make it more romantic and add in more serious aspects to it. Though I hated ripping my book apart, I did it.

K: Wow, 50 novels? That’s amazing!

What part about writing do you hate and love the most?

SS: Research. LOL I find it tedious and I would much rather spend my time letting the characters in my head loose than look for information. But any author knows an essential part of writing is getting your facts right.

K: Most writers have a must-have of some sort in order to write. For some it’s music, for others like me it’s a cup of coffee. What’s your must have when you sit down to work?

SS: Definitely music. I have to have it playing while I write or I just don’t feel the flow. I particularly listen to dance or electronic music which doesn’t have a lot of lyrics to it but a whole lot of beat.

K: Your Darkness Series has eight books in it. What made you decide to focus on vampires as the paranormal theme? Why not werewolves, ghosts or some other paranormal element?

SS: The Darkness series came about through a thought that a total eclipse of the sun would be a perfect time for vampires because they could step out of the night and capture humans during the day. It spiraled from there. Originally, Seducing the Darkness was a stand-alone but when my editor at the time suggested I make it a series the ideas just rolled from there. In my series, a ritual is cats during the eclipse which not only cloaks the city of Jacob’s Cove in darkness but brings forth the king of all vampires who happens to be one hell of a nasty SOB. For an entire year, the city is cast in darkness and my heroes and heroines fight to bring the sun back and take down the vamp who started it all.

K: Tell us about your vamp, Basil. What was the inspiration for his character?

SS:  This is probably going to date me but what the hell. LOL The name is what started it all. When I was a little girl, my parents would watch Sherlock Holmes and the name, Basil Rathbone stuck in my head, so I decided to keep the first name and alter the last to come up with, Hawthorn. When I sat down to write Seducing the Darkness, the name just popped into my head. My Basil is nothing like Sherlock Holmes, but I loved how classy the name sounded and just had to use it.

Basil is a very strong determined man and when he loves, he loved wholly. The only child of the two original vampires, Rajanna and Avadur, Basil is the prince of vampires. His father stole him from his mother at a very young age and cast a spell to lock Rajanna in the Realm of Mystics, a sort of heaven for vampires. Avadur was not a nice man and often tortured his son. Basil swore he would never be like his father and thanks to his father’s doctor who kidnapped him and took him away from the cruelty, Basil grew up with a kind heart. Unfortunately, he made a poor leader of his kind and his nemesis, Chaos began to take over leading the vampires.  When Basil met Trinity, he knew instantly she was the one for him and when she agreed to become his in body mind and soul, he thought he’d finally found true happiness. They did, until his father comes back into the picture and threatens everything he holds dear.

blue eye Pictures, Images and PhotosK: These are two lines from your second Darkness book:

A sign of their impurity.

Can you tell us what this is about? Is this a running theme in this particular series?

SS: Only the three original vampires have the crystalline blue eyes. It signifies their royal lineage. Along with the distinct eye color comes great powers. Only the three, Basil, Rajanna and Avadur possess them. Those powers include the ability to read minds, control minds, shapes hift, the ability to move and control objects…just to name a few. Basil also has the ability to use the earth at his advantage such as causing tornadoes and wind storms. When one of them sires a new vampire, they pass a small portion of those abilities. Diluted. Mind control, the ability to transport themselves are two of the abilities they possess. Their eye color also changes but not to the beautiful blue of their royal sires but more of a blue-green. As those vamps sire, the eye color become diluted to eventually become a pale yellow. Chaos, Basil’s nemesis, is particularly annoyed by the fact that he doesn’t have the blue eyes. He thinks of himself as Avadur’s son because he was loved more by the king than Basil was. He has a lot of resentment toward Basil and that is the main reason he resurrects the King and causes the darkness.

K: I’ve noticed some interesting names in your series such as Basil, Gabriella, Sienna, and Slasher, which aren’t typical names a reader finds in fiction. Care to share how you came up or picked these names?

SS: I would love to. Given that I started the book with Basil and Trinity, two unusual names, I felt I needed to carry on with that theme in the rest of the books. I did a search on baby names and instead of starting from the beginning and the most popular, I started from the last and worked my way back. I didn’t want typical names because most of my characters aren’t typical. Especially Gypsy. She’s a little sex obsessed. LOL Chaos, believe it or not came from watching Get Smart in my youth. I always loved the line, “This is Kaos. We don’t shush here!” I decided my bad guy had to have that name (spelling changed) and what better name could a villain have then Chaos. J

K: You don’t see many erotic romance series go beyond five or six books. Did you find it difficult to come up with two more books to continue the plot and characters or was this series one of those writing flukes that happens to some of us that took on a life of its own?

SS: I have a habit of not being able to let go of my characters and stories. J As I said, when the idea of making it a series was stirred in my mind, it went on a roll. But I also knew that I would have to wrap up the darkness and bring back the sun at some point. The last two books in the series deal with life after the sun has returned.

K: When you’re not writing, taking care of the family, running errands, or cleaning, what hobby do you have that you enjoy?

SS: I love creating in every form practically. I like to sketch, paint, do murals and home décor. I also love knitting and crocheting. Anyone need an afghan, I’m your girl. LOL

K: I like to crochet too, but I only crochet during the cold months and when the mood strikes. I find it’s a great way to relieve stress.

SS: Another one of my hobbies is working in my flowerbeds in the summer time. I love flowers of every kind and I am always designing new spots to put them on my yard.

K: Every writer has goals from little ones that range from a daily to monthly basis to long-term goals that stretch years ahead. Do you have a daily word count goal you try to reach? What is your long-term writing goal?

SS: The past two years have been absolutely nuts for me. The publisher who originally contracted my Passion series and Darkness series kept me on a very short schedule. I was releasing a novel every two months so I had to be diligent in my writing. I would often spend a good ten to twelve hours a day writing, editing and promoting the series. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Right now, my goal is to write at least three chapters a day. I have a story that I am working on now that I want to submit to Harlequin. I would like to have at least one print book with them at some point in my career.

K: Can you tell us a little about the next manuscript you will be submitting?

SS: The Demon series was originally written several years ago. It has always been one of my favorites because it came to me in a dream that was so intense it stayed with me for days. I wrote like a madwoman possessed and in no time, I had not only completed the first novel, Awaken the Demon, but two others in the series. The series is a tale of three generations of demons working for Satan as soul gatherers. Each generation attempts to break free of their contract and some with dire consequences.

Awaken the Demon is about a billionaire, Draco Starr, searching for a woman who was born from a demon and a witch. He’s been collecting souls for Satan for decades and has grown tired of it, and he sees this as his opportunity to break free. Satan wants the woman because her humanity prevents him from controlling her soul like he does all of his demons.  

Missy Green is a woman running from an abusive relationship only to find herself working for a demon. If that wasn’t bad enough, she soon learns she is one as well, and Satan wants to control her soul.

The second book, Offer the Demon, is the story of Draco and Missy’s daughter Aurora who was born to collect souls. Aurora on the other hand wants nothing more than to be normal and not have to work for the dark lord and is willing to do anything to get out of her contract. When she meets and falls in love with Scott Monroe, she’s willing to do anything to be rid of her calling. Even if it means surrendering her powers for the man she loves. There is a huge conflict between Aurora and Satan at the end and though Aurora thinks she’s won, she’ll find out years later she has not.

The third book, Conquer the Demon, is about Mick Monroe, the son of Aurora and Scott. Mick has always been a gifted child of music. At a tender age he began playing the guitar and singing like an angel. What his parents don’t know is that Satan has been his tutor. What Mick doesn’t know is that he is the pawn to a very dangerous game that could bring Satan forth on earth.  It’s not until he meets up with a cop named Laci and her adorable son that he realizes where his life is turning. But standing up against Satan has consequences and Mick is about to find out that no one, not even the woman and son he loves are safe.

K: Sounds wicked-cool!

So…is there anything about the writing life you’d like to share with your readers to give them a glimpse of what it’s really like versus the glam that so many people thing we writers enjoy? lol

Also, what would be the first thing you’d tell to an aspiring writer who is thinking about testing the publishing waters?

SS: You want me to scare my readers? LOL My life is anything but glamorous. Most day’s I sit in my Lazy-Boy chair, tapping away at the keyboard while hard thumping music is playing not so quietly in the background. But before I begin my life as an author there are my mother and wife duties to get done. I wake at 7, drag my kids out of bed who are much too old for me to have to wake up in the morning (ages 21, 17 and 14). Wearing my favorite white fuzzy robe, I make my toast and coffee and listen to my daughter complain about it being too early. Once I get my younger two off to school, I set out to clean up after them which included, loading the dishwasher, wiping the counters, sweeping, vacuuming and dusting. I like a clean house. J When all of that is done, then I sit down and become the author. With laptop on my lap, kitty at my side, I begin to work. Not so very glamorous but I like it. J

What would I tell an aspiring author? Well, since I’ve done this quite often, I advise them to get to know the publishing industry. Join yahoo groups where publishers post their books, authors post their new releases and reviews and very importantly, find a critique group. Make sure you’re manuscript is in the best condition it can possibly be before submitting it. That where crit groups come in handy. They are all there for the same reason. They need help. In a critique group you can submit your story and they will give you great insight into what it needs to become a fabulous book. I learned so much from my crit group.

Also, you have to love writing because if this is just something you think you might be interested in doing, it will show in your work. The love of the craft shows in every word you put into your book.

K: Sound advice!

And it looks like you have a contest tied to this interview, no?

SS: I definitely do, Kiyara. One lucky commenter will be rewarded with a free ecopy of any one of the three books on display. Seducing the Darkness, Consuming the Darkness or Surviving the Darkness. Please leave your email address in your comment and a name will be drawn from those that post a response. Winner will be drawn this Sunday, November 22.

K: Oh, by the way, would you like to tell our readers about the upcoming chat we’re sharing at my yahoo newsletter (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kiyarabenoiti_hotromances) and anything you plan to do or offer that evening?

SS: I would love to, Kiyara. 

On December 12th, Kiyara and myself will be supplying the readers with some fabtabulous stories. It will be in a two part segment, each of us taking an hour to ourselves to boast about our books. After the two hours is up, we invite anyone to join us and share their fabtabulous books. Isn’t this a great offer? I will be sharing my latest two releases, Consuming the Darkness and Surviving the Darkness. And…I will also be holding a contest which will involve searching my website. Details will be given on the day of the chat. Want to know what you could win? How about a free copy of either Consuming or Surviving the Darkness (your choice) along with an adorable little vampire bear. Sound good? Then come on by and have some fun.

K: Great interview, Shiela! Thanks for being here!

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