Behind the Books – An interview with author Kate Stewart

by Maryse on October 25, 2017 · 7 comments

in Behind The Books

<— Drive is one of my latest favorite books ever, and now we get a behind the scenes look into the very book that had us on the edge of our seats, with butterflies in our stomachs, our heart in our throats, and tears in our eyes. And you know what? I absolutely LOVE this author (and have loved her since I read her equally angsty Room 212 – Thank you, Amy!!!!! Oh yes, it’s my book twin that introduced me to this author’s brand of romance).

You guys… she rocks my world, and I just LOVED getting to know this side of her through this interview.

And now you get to, too. :)

Maryse: So Kate… this one really touched so many of us deeply. Affected us emotionally, and made us feel as if we were the heroine. What influenced you to write such an incredibly emotional, raw and tumultuous love story?

Kate: Life. I have lived through Stella’s predicament of being in love with two men simultaneously. I thought of this book fifteen years ago. It was originally going to be titled Radio. The first concept was Stella would be listening to a mixed station and pinpointing her memories to whatever came on next. Thank God for modern technology. I think it made the book so much better in execution through song choice by using a playlist. I waited a very long time to open this box. I feel like I decided to write it at a time where I could look back at my choices objectively. Ninety percent of this book is fictional. But some of the scenarios aren’t. I did get that phone call from my best friend on a blind date. She did attend my exes wedding. But those things happened quite often with both men. The concert happened too. I found them both in a crowd of twenty thousand. Unreal. Other facts and small tidbits are true to life. A lot about Stella and her emotions were very much me. I’m the puker and crier. Music has always been my outlet, my driving force as it is for a lot of people.

Maryse: GASP!!!! What a small world to have actually seen them… I love that you used your own experiences and feelings to bring this story to life. Because it was real. It felt SO real. And even with the real-life moments, were there any surprises along the way? Either in the writing process, or the aftermath? 

Kate: The aftermath is a huge surprise. I knew I was taking a risk attempting to write two worthy heroes and keeping them worthy. I’m sure it’s been done before, but it was new for me. I was never tempted to taint either in a way they weren’t redeemable. I didn’t want the choice clear. I wanted it to be as hard as it could be, realistic. But, what surprised me most is the connection the readers had to Stella. I’m stunned and tearing up just thinking about it. It was important to me to have her understood, especially when it came to her emotions and how she felt about music.

Maryse: Oh yes, I connected to her, heart and soul. I couldn’t blame her for any of her decisions, and indecision  Considering the circumstances, how could I? Did you know the outcome from the get-go, or did you let the story and characters lead the way?

Kate: Originally, I knew I wanted to make both worthy, to try to make it an impossible decision. But I was actually leaning more toward the one who got left behind. It killed me to let him go. But it was the character growth that helped me make the final decision.

Maryse: KATE!!!! I WAS IN LOVE with the one that got left behind. I was okay with either choice, but ohhhhh how I wanted HIM to be the one. I’m so glad to know you felt it that way, too. But I agree with your (Stella’s) decision in the end. It made it that much more authentic to me. The heart wants what the heart wants (and in this case, both choices made sense).

Any worries about how this story would be received (fears regarding reader reactions, or certain decisions, and/or twists that you made that you second guessed? Or that you’re happy about?) Any “alternate endings” that you contemplated? 

Kate: I was definitely worried about reader reactions. It was a given writing this kind of story. But in the end, and much to my surprise and elation, I found readers were more team Stella, and that, to me, is the greatest compliment to the book. That they understood that it was possible for a woman to love two men, and they rooted for her.

Maryse: This story felt so authentic, was so relatable to me (and many of my fellow readers) regarding the heartache, misunderstandings, feelings of abandonment and indecision on so many personal levels. It almost seems like you’ve experienced this yourself. Did this story and/or characters come from (or were from) real-life experience? 

Kate: This book was very much about my experience with love. It’s all I know about love. It’s pieces of me, some facts, a lot of fiction and my own personal opinion about what love and it’s consequences feel like. I have definitely lived the hard parts. But they were worth it.

Maryse: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. That is, of course, dependent on perspective and how soon after the heartache that comes into play. ;) Any scenes that hit you hard, or made you exceptionally happy? What is your favorite part? 

Kate: The first kiss was a favorite. I was living that as I wrote it. I remember getting giddy after I finished that scene. I wanted it to be something special.

The parts that hit me the hardest were the chapters Drive, and Wasted Time. I actually designed the story around being able to use both songs. And the fact that The Eagles played in 2010 was such a bonus. I have never cried so hard writing a scene as I did with Wasted Time. And for me, that was a good sign.

Maryse: Yes, you were feeling it as much as we did. I love that! And the “playlist” sure helped me really get into the passion, and repair of it all. Music is such an important part of this story, not just in regards to the character’s jobs and passions, but to the reader, to instill the actual emotional “feel” of each chapter. How does music influence your own life? We’d love to know your favorite songs. Any songs you can’t listen to at all, even though you absolutely love it? Any memories of your first favorite song as a child or teen that you’d like to share? 

Kate: Music is so easy for me. Much like Stella, it’s my therapy. I repeatedly listen to a song to draw out the emotion and fuse it into my writing. Drive by The Cars, is my favorite song of all time. I loved the double play in meaning for the title of the book. Also, the entire playlist is made up of all my favorite artists and their music. I have eclectic taste. I LOVE IT ALL. But I have to say my favorite is old rap. I am a mega fan of Eminem (stalker circa 1999-2010), Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie, 50, etc. But play a tune, any tune, and I could probably pinpoint what it is within a few notes.

Maryse: Would you like to share with us, your most favorite book (or books) ever?

Kate: The Bronze Horseman Trilogy-I lived in those books for weeks. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Maryse: YES!! Book #1 had me in ALL sorts of knots. Perfect choice! Have you read anything this raw and tender, that touched you the way this one touched us? With flawed characters but that we love so much anyway, despite their mistakes, because they are human? 

Kate: Amy Harmon’s Making Faces was my first memorable read and ugly cry. I turned the last page utterly spent and looked around my living room wondering how I could possibly go on. Since then there have been several books that have touched me like that. Jewel E. Ann manages to get me every time. She writes flawed, original characters who make plenty of mistakes and manages to get me to relate. In my eyes, that’s true talent. Her latest, When Life Happened, set the bar for me in a way. I have several indies I subscribe to regularly for the same feels. I’ve become a HUGE fan of my peers. They are an incredible inspiration.

Maryse: Oh I loved both of those!

I also LOVED the nicknames in “Drive”. Grenade was perfection for her… and the two of them together. Completely explosive. Tell me about that… 

Kate: I played on Stella’s naïve view of the world, mixed with Reid’s bitterness. It just developed into a tit for tat. That was the building block. And deep down I think Reid wanted to believe again. To see the world through her eyes. She was his hope, in a sense. And he was her fascination. He was the epitome of the rags story she wanted to see become riches. But they connected deeper than that, and that’s where the love began. The attraction wasn’t first. I love that about them as a couple. It was noted, but it wasn’t the basis.

Maryse: It was a delicious slow burn, and I enjoyed that she was fixated on other stuff, and he was more of an annoyance or a curiosity at first. Her happy go-lucky self vs. his brooding, jaded nature. And yet, she felt that need to connect with him, at least on that friendship level. And you gave ti to us. Let us get to know him, as her, gently. Developed that eventual crush and fascination. As did I.

Do you think there will be more coming out by way of spinoffs (*ahem* you know what I’m referring to) or perhaps novellas (or missing scenes) detailing some of the later revelations that came to light?  

Kate: I’m contemplating this. I really want to do the characters justice. I must be on fire for a book in order to write it. Right now, I’m doing a little plotting, but no set plans yet. It would be a great disservice to readers to just throw a book together because they want more of the characters if my heart’s not in it. So, I’m thinking on it. But I already miss them, so I’m crossing my fingers it comes to me.

Maryse: YAY!! Yes, only write it if you’re feeling it, because then… we’ll be feeling it, too!! Thank you so much Kate for giving us an extra peek into your awesome love story. *hug* :D

P.P.S. Check out her super-fun “author confession” ➔ Author Confession – Kate Stewart confesses a few of her author “quirks”

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy October 25, 2017 at 11:15 PM

I’m fangirling right now.

And I don’t fangirl.

*passes out*

Nay October 26, 2017 at 3:38 AM

Squee! Me too, Amy!

Wonderful interview, Maryse! I started boohooing all over again just reading it! Like it said last week, the 2 songs in Drive that were perfect for me were Drive, of course, and the biggie was the Eagles’ ‘Wasted Time’; At that point, I was a weeping pile of goo!

This book affected me in ways I can’t even understand!

Nay October 26, 2017 at 3:47 AM

Ugh — correction: “Like *I* said last week…”

That’s what I get for trying to type at 3:30 in the morning! lol

Lisa Aiello October 26, 2017 at 7:39 AM

Awesome interview. It is always amazing to connect with an author and understand what prompts them to write, and the story behind the story. And I get all fangirl-y when an author likes one of my reviews on Goodreads. When Kate liked my review, I think I swooned a little!!

Tessa October 26, 2017 at 9:31 AM

I wanted the one left behind too! The playlist was pretty eclectic, which I loved! Though, I ended up singing rather than reading so I had to stop listening. :) I absolutely loved the book.

Kimberly October 26, 2017 at 11:21 AM

I have a book that’s been written in my head for a few years that touches on the difficult choice Stella faced in Drive. I even have the follow up stored in the old coconut, including book outlines, titles and characters names. I also have a pen name URL purchased that is collecting electronic dust. While my story does not take place in the music world, I did plan to start each chapter with a song quote to set the mood for each part of the story.

After reading Drive, I can safely say the story will likely remain in my head and not on any pages because I need to leave the storytelling to the pros like Kate. WOW, I just loved this book and connected so personally to how fond memories can be triggered by the first few bars of a song. This book also gave me the old school indie feels which have been few and far between in the last couple years. For the record, that while I loved both men, I tried to not love #2 and was totally Team #1 ;)

I would also like to add that like Lisa, I find it endearing when an author takes the time to acknowledge a review or social media post. I know that the volume of posts after a new release must make that difficult but it truly is a nice and classy touch.

Thanks Maryse for the great interview and thanks Kate for a story that has stayed with me for days!! LOVED ♥

Kooloo October 26, 2017 at 4:45 PM

Wow that was fantabulous!!! Esp the fact some of the story was based on her for realz life and the fact she loves old school rap – Yup she’s my home girl yo yo

But the Hourseman Triology COME ON what is it with this book and everyone! Ok so I still have not read it *gasps*
I KNOW RIGHT….. maybe I’m scared it won’t live up to the hype

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