Here she is people!! The author of the guy that, well… pretty much made us crazy fan-girls! Kellan. *sigh* Almost like Travis. Or should I say… just like Travis? Well, at least in the “bad-boy-in-love” kind of way. Intense, emotional, and will do anything for the girl he wants, but then again… there is that “bad-boy” issue to contend with. Ahhh… who am I kidding? That’s why we read these. We love that!
So!? Do you guys want some “dirt” on what happened behind the scenes with these stories? Yeah you do!
*slight spoiler alert* If you haven’t read these books yet, proceed with caution. While the important stuff might not necessarily be completely divulged below, those of you *new* to these books should go into them clueless. MUCH more fun and devastating that way 😉
Maryse: I had just recently been recommended Thoughtless and Effortless, and LOVED both books to death (and it appears that my readers do too)! I was taken aback by how popular the series already seems to be, and how many positive comments you’ve already amassed. It’s like a best kept secret, that so many already knew about! How long have these stories been available? How did I miss these?
S.C.: Thank you very much! Thoughtless was first published on FictionPress.com in the summer of 2009. There are so many amazing stories on that website that I really wasn’t expecting mine to be found, let alone read. But I slowly started gathering a small fan base, which grew a little more with every book that I posted after Thoughtless. Things didn’t really start taking off until I started posting my stories on Feedbooks.com though. Nicky Charles encouraged me to use the site, and after seeing how professional her stories looked as ebooks, I had to try it. I was AMAZED by the response and the thousands and thousands of downloads…still blows my mind really.
So much support for Thoughtless started pouring in—and so much encouragement for more of Kiera and Kellan—that I began to seriously contemplate writing a sequel. I started working on it in earnest last winter, but I hadn’t planned on releasing it to the public, since I wasn’t sure if the story would be as emotional and entertaining as the original. Then a certain “omelet”scene amused me so much that I had to share it with my readers. Most of them thoroughly enjoyed the story—and are still demanding more of K&K—so I’m very happy that I released it.
Maryse: Ah!! Nicky Charles. We love her too (and now even more so for her encouragement)!!
I read that Thoughtless was your first creation. How long did it take you to write it, and how hard was the writing process with this first time attempt?
S.C.: From the very first days of dreaming about it, to finally writing “The End,” it took about six months. Writing the characters and dialogue was easier than I thought it would be. It was like watching a movie playing out in my head… all I had to do was keep up. But there were some tricky parts.Keeping track of timelines and everybody’s schedules, for one—I researched actual courses and times for all of Kiera’s classes. It wasn’t necessary, I know, but it helped solidify the characters for me to base them in as much reality as I could. Also, remembering grammar rules was a challenge… it’s been a while since I’ve been in school. I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years, but I still have a lot left to learn. I try not to get too bogged down with the mechanics of writing through…it zaps the creativity.
Possibly the hardest thing about writing Thoughtless was the way I wrote it. I wrote all of the major scenes first, then came back and connected them all together later. But when the characters started evolving and growing, I started inserting scenes, shuffling things around, changing when and where other scenes happened, and removing scenes that didn’t work anymore. For instance, the slap heard around the bar originally happened at their house… right in front of Denny, and the confessions scene happened right afterwards in their driveway,and didn’t include much of Kellan’s back story… since I hadn’t written the scene that inspired his tragic childhood at that point. It was a good learning experience though, and every story that I’ve written since Thoughtless has been more linear – chapter one to the end. I’ve had a lot fewer rewrites that way.
Maryse: What inspired you to write it? How did Kellan and Kiera come to be?
S.C.: Lots of daydreaming and lots of music listening. Music is huge for me when I’m writing. One of the major reasons that Kellan is in a band is because I saw him so clearly while listening to some of my favorite songs by One Republic, The Fray, Linkin Park, etc. He’s still the one character that is picture perfect in my mind, thanks to those bands. For a while he was just my no-name fantasy singer, someone I thought about while running on the treadmill… then I came across my inspiration for Denny. He’s based on an Australian actor, and was so darn cute… I started imagining some poor girl having to choose between the two boys. Well, one fantasy led to another, and since I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even tried dabbling with it a time or two before, I took a moment and jotted down the“Espresso Stand” scene. Yep, that was the very first scene I wrote.I’m really not sure what that says about me, lol.
Maryse: The espresso stand scene was the first?! What intensity! The moments outside leading up to it too, with that whole emotional desperate conversation. WOW! You started off with a bang! Tee hee! Woops, no pun intended, but it fits, so I’m keeping it 😉
I heard about (and then felt a terrible need to read) the “original” ending of Thoughtless. Honestly, while the original was quite striking, I’m SO glad you changed it to what it is today. First because OMG, how heart-wrenching was that!? Especially considering how difficult and poignant the book already was. But even more importantly, because now you can (and have) made it a series! Can you explain your decision for originally writing such an ending? Was that ending your plan all along while you were writing it (some serious shock value!), or did it come to you bit by bit until you arrived at that ending decision?
S.C.: Lol, it was a bit harsh, I suppose. I remember exactly when I thought of that ending. I was quite a bit into the story, and not sure how I wanted it to end—girl with boy 1, girl with boy 2, or girl all alone. Then, while I was making dinner, the idea struck me that the girl could be killed off. It seemed a different and unexpected way to end it, so I started thinking about how that would go. Then I came up with the line, “He begged me for hours every day for forgiveness…and every day I granted it to him.” I decided to go with it after that, and even mapped out a series of books that followed that sad storyline. The first sequel was called “Fracture,” and was told in Kellan’s POV as he dealt with Kiera’s death.
Maryse: What was the response by your first-time online readers (on fictionpress), when they reached *that* ending?
S.C.: I had the tragic ending and the follow-up story finished long before I put Thoughtless up on FictionPress. I knew about halfway through posting the story that the ending was NOT going to go over well. I knew how much I loved Kellan, but I hadn’t anticipated the readers’ response to him…and they wanted him with Kiera. I had the biggest knot in my stomach when I posted the ending… just waiting for the hate mail to come in. And once I did post it, the handful of fans that I had at the time…gave their opinion. Most, as you can imagine, weren’t happy with the ending. Some of the Kiera-haters thought it was perfect. I really took every review to heart at that time, since I was happy/sad with the ending too.
Maryse: I can imagine. What influenced you to revise it to the current ending?
S.C: A few really well worded reviews on FictionPress showed me that an alternate ending to my tragic one was not only possible, but deepened the story. As I had a love/hate relationship with the ending anyway, I started to really think about changing it. Then a fan shared the song “Run” by Snow Patrol with me, and the beat and tone of it instantly gave me the idea for the current ending—where Kellan is singing about Kiera while she is wading through the crowd, watching him in awe. I fell in love with that scene and decided to change it for good. The fans have, in large, agreed with my decision.
Maryse: LOVED that scene. It was a soothing balm to my terribly broken heart. These characters felt SO real to me. The amount of emotional detail in each scene, their thought processes, the honest feelings (good and bad), the betrayals, and all of the game-playing, one would start to believe these moments were real. Did any of these situations, moments and/or heart-wrenching decisions in the novel stem from personal experience?
S.C.: I get asked this from time to time and it always makes me smile. I love that the story seems so plausible that people start to wonder if it’s real…means I’m doing something right. But, no, nothing in this novel comes from personal experience. The only similarity to my life is the fact that Kiera has some of my quirks and insecurities, but that’s about it.
Maryse: The main characters that most of us were rooting for, were partaking in so much deception. How hard was it to write such controversial characters? Did you receive any memorable comments you’re willing to share?
S.C.: My favorite parts to write were the ones with deception, guilt, angst… pain. The hard emotions are the easiest ones for me to see and feel. I find it fairly easy to put myself into every character’s shoes, and, since I know what everyone is thinking at every point in time, imagining their reactions to all of these torturous scenarios was very natural to me. I usually didn’t even have to think about it…just sit back, watch it play out in my head, and type as fast as I could.
As for comments, there have been so many great ones!! I love the reviews from people that have been in that situation, so they completely understand Kiera and her wishy-washy ways. And I’ve had several people tell me that it was like reading an autobiography of their lives. But my favorite comments are from the people who say that reading the story has changed the way they look at their relationship, or that it has made them reevaluate the love in their life. It is surreal to me that a fantasy in my head could move someone that much. And then, of course, the comments like, “God, I wish I’d never read this,” make me smile.
Maryse: Well, count me in the “thrilled to have read it” category! What an adrenaline rush those books were! And your characters. Specifically Kellan 😉 I saw your “version” of Denny on your Facebook page. HE WAS PERFECT. I wish I had seen him when I started the book, but I think I managed that very “look” for him in my head, anyway (good job at describing him!). Who did you see as Kellan? Any actors, models or musicians that “remind” you of him?
S.C.: Ah, everyone wants to know what Kellan looks like. Honestly, I don’t like to give too much detail on my various inspirations for him, since I love that everyone has their own version of the “perfect” man… and I’ve gotten some great pictures of some pretty darn attractive men as a result. And really, all of my original inspirations for him have faded into the background now that Kellan is so clear in my mind. He’s so much his own person to me now that nobody looks like him. Kellan…looks like Kellan. Well, except for this one random guy that I saw at the grocery store once. He was so eerily close to the Kellan in my head that it freaked me out! I wish I could have snapped his picture, but that would have been really awkward.“Hey, you look just like this fantasy guy I dreamt up…”
Maryse: OMG!!! That little tidbit was priceless!! That has happened to me a couple of times. Actually randomly seeing two different characters walking around in real life (for me, they were both from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and matched my how I envisioned “them” in my head perfectly). It is SO weird when that happens!
You mentioned how important music is to your writing process, and how much it inspires you. Since Kellan is one of my favorite book rock stars… (Oh! That reminds me! Thank you for writing rock star books – those are my favorite genre right now) … what does Kellan listen to? What are his favorite bands, favorite songs? What does he sound like? Any bands that “remind” you of him?
S.C.: Kellan’s a big fan of the classics—The Ramones, obviously, The Doors, Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Pretty much anything that Dean on ‘Supernatural’ would listen to, Kellan listens to. Lol, he even almost drove an Impala until I changed it to a Chevelle. As for the band, to me, the song New Divide by Linkin Park fits them perfectly—the voice, the music, everything. It’s exactly how I picture them. But I’ve had several other great suggestions thrown at me by fans and a lot of other bands sound right to me too. Like his looks, I love that he’s whatever the reader’s perception of “amazing” is.
Maryse: Can you hint at where you might be taking them, in book #3? How much Griffin and Anna will we be getting? (BTW: loving them!!). Maybe they can get their own book?
S.C.: No real hints to give as of yet. So far the story is only a handful of notes and a vague outline of things that may or may not happen in the final draft. I write very fluidly, with things popping into my head out of the blue that end up playing a pivotal part later on in the book. Sometimes things I’m sure are going to happen in the story don’t work by the time I get there. Sometimes I’m completely surprised by things that happen in the story. The notes in Effortless, for example. None of them were planned, and they turned out to be one of the fans’ most favorite parts. The last note especially. But I’m sure that Anna and Griffin will be in the third book a lot… they’re too amusing to leave out! I’ve tossed around the idea of giving them their own book…but…there are somethings that those two do together that I just don’t want to write about, lol.
Maryse: The NOTES!! YES!! One of my favorite movies of all time is P.S. I Love You. Those notes made me cry throughout the whole movie. I’m so glad you included something so touching, in this book. And like your readers, that last one… *sigh*. SO needed!!
Considering how captivating and entertaining these stories are, have you ever attempted in getting these published? If so, what has been your experience in the process?
S.C.: I did make a brief attempt to get an agent to look at Collision Course, but I gave upon it pretty quickly. Most agencies will only look at a short “query” letter, where you promote yourself and offer a brief synopsis of your book. I am not good at those and I hate writing them. Add that to the fact that my books are much longer than publishers are looking for, by thousands of words, and it seemed like too much of a long shot to me. Self-publishing seemed the way to go, and so far it’s been great! But now that I’m a bit more established, I might try again to get an agent.
Maryse: I see that you are in the process of getting these books edited and “readied” for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and other online book stores? I can’t believe you’ve been giving them away for so long! Knowing what I know about them now, and even beforehand (considering the enthusiastic recommendations I was receiving to read them) I would have easily paid for them. So what took you so long to finally decide to sell these? What helped sway your decision? Did you finally come to accept just how good they really are? 😉
S.C.: Thank you! I’m excited and nervous to switch from giving them away to charging for them. I originally put Thoughtless into print just so the diehard fans could have a hard copy…and so I could have one, of course. Then people started asking for it on Kindle. Since I had a perfectly edited manuscript, I started to seriously consider putting it up for sale with B&N, Amazon, etc. I was torn though. I didn’t feel good about charging some people for it when free copies were still available. Ultimately, I just had to make a choice. All or nothing, free or not free. Since I have two adorable children to take care of, I decided to go the not-free route. So far, everyone has been really supportive of my decision.
Maryse: Since I loved Thoughtless and Effortless, I want to read more of your work! Can you give us a quick synopsis of the other books/series that you’ve written? Any plans for future books?
S.C.: I hate writing the synopsis (see question #12), but here is my book list with some really simple summaries. As for future books, I’m currently working on a fourth novel in the Conversion series. I have several ideas in my head after that—the sequel to Effortless, a couple of new stories with brand new characters, a sequel to Not a Chance, and possibly, if there is enough of a story to tell, a prequel to Thoughtless centering on Kellan’s departure from Seattle and his first meeting with all of the other D-Bags. (Don’t hold me to that one though! It’s just an idea at this point.) As you can see, I’ll be busy for a while!
- Collision Course (The lone survivor of a car crash struggles with learning to live again.)
- Conversion (Woman attempts to date a man who is…a “little bit” vampire.)
- Conversion Book 2: Bloodlines
- Conversion Book 3: ‘Til Death
- It’s All Relative (A one night stand with unexpected consequences, and no, nothing as simple as a baby.)
- Not A Chance (Woman decides to date the man who steals herwallet…what could possibly go wrong?)
Maryse: For those who want to get started on your books, where can your books be found, and where can they find more information about you
S.C.: For the time being, my stories are still available for online reading at FictionPress.com (except for Thoughtless, which is only a preview of the first half or so). I’ll be re-releasing the ebooks for sale on Smashwords.com as they are ready. In the meantime, I’ll have preview copies available on Feedbooks.com soon. For more information, follow me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/SC-Stephens/122623531149513. Thank you so much for all of the support! I really appreciate it!
UPDATE: S.C. Stephens just sent me a couple of links where Thoughtless can be purchased as an e-book:
So girls! There you have it. The inside scoop on Kellan and crew, and the author with the wicked imagination. She literally doesn’t hold any punches!
So… I’m curious? Who *did* you guys see as Kellan? Links to pictures, please 😉 Tee hee!!