A dream. No, seriously. I’ve never really been a writer. I’ve always been a reader. The writing bug officially hit me when my youngest was just a baby (he’s 14 now). I had a dream one night. It was really vivid. It was just a picture of a boy in a wheelchair, but something about it bugged me. I kept thinking, “There’s a story in there somewhere.” One day I decided to write it. It was a YA romance (because romance is really all I read), and it awful. lol But I eventually found a critique group of women who taught and encouraged me. I fell in love with the process.
What do you like best about being a writer?
Getting lost. That moment when the characters have become so real they over and the story takes on a life of its own. When it keeps me up at night and it’s all I can think about until I get it finished. That’s addicting.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing contemporary romance?
Well, in part, I’m a people watcher. I love to sit back and absorb the people around me. I’m fascinated by people. I was a psych major in college (never graduated, though). And quite a lot of my own experiences have ended up in my books. The heroine of Risking It All, for example. Ceci has PTSD. I hadn’t intended for her to get so much of me, but as her character developed, I realized that she and I were a lot alike. I have PTSD as well. So I used my own experiences to flesh out hers. I hope this doesn’t sound like a blatant plug, but I just did a post on this for another blog. I’m trying to keep this short, but if anybody wants to read more about this, the post is on Marlow Kelly’s blog.
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
Yes. I’m a spiritualist. Meaning, I believe life exists beyond this realm. Aka “I see dead people.” Actually, I hear them, and I communicate quite often by opening a Word document and typing out what I hear. I’m not entirely sure how it works with writing, but I’ve often suspected that I don’t write alone. It’s more the way I write. When I’m “in the zone” and the words just flow and characters take over and suddenly I’ve got an entire chapter I don’t remember writing. I wrote my last work-in-progress in 6 weeks. It came out so quickly I couldn’t keep up with it. I’m writing one now that feels as if it came from somewhere else. It wasn’t planned. This series was supposed to stop at 3 books, but a secondary character popped in book 3 and I just knew I had to write her story. This last book is a struggle to make it fit the rest of the series, but for me, the series won’t be complete without it.
You’ve written 16 novels and are working on a short (category length) romance. What’s your favorite time management tip?
Okay, you caught me on this one. I had to stop and think about how many books I’ve actually written, including the ones that will never see the light of day. lol As for time management? I’m laughing. I am SO not an organized person. Honestly, I fit in writing when I can. But I’m lucky. I don’t work outside the home, so I’m home all day anyway. So my tip? Take time when you get it. I often work in spits and spurts. In between doing laundry and dishes, etc. In fact, some of my best writing is during that hour while I’m cooking dinner. Take it when you can.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
I’m a bit of both. I need to know a few things before I can start writing. The basic premise and plot points, a few scenes. But I don’t write anything down and I get to know my characters as I write. I often say I just take dictation. So, often what I started with changes as I go along.
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Never give up.
Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it, or as you write, in general?
I actually can’t listen to music while I’m writing. I find the music too distracting. I need quiet when I’m writing or I lose my train of thought. I tend to use music when I need inspiration. So, I do have “theme songs” for most of my books. They tend to jump out at me. Suddenly I’m humming a tune and I realize the words fit the book I’m writing. My YouTube favorites list is full of songs like this. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find one that fits this book.
Tell me more about Risking It All.
Risking It All is a friends to lovers story. Kyle and Cecelia (Ceci) have known each other for most of their lives. Kyle was literally “the boy next door.” He’s been in love with Ceci for years, but he can’t ever tell her. He’s keeping a secret from her, something that haunts him, because he knows if she ever finds out, it could end their friendship. He keeps it, though, in part because he made a promise to her grandmother. But mostly because he worries if she finds out, it’ll do more damage than good. Deep down, Kyle’s a protector at heart, and he’ll do anything to protect her.
But as Ceci begins to search for the answers to her mysterious past, she comes to him for help. His walls begin to crumble when he realizes she’s beginning to feel more than just friendship for him, too. So for me, this story is about their journey into finding each other and Ceci’s journey into finding herself.
How about an excerpt from Risking It All?
For a moment, she stared, her eyes searching his, then she straightened her shoulders. “Why’d you kiss me?”
Panic curled through him, sending his pulse pounding into his rib cage. Damn. Why hadn’t he expected her to ask that? But he couldn’t answer it. To do so would be tempting fate. An intense need for distance seized him. Half afraid he’d lose his mind and do something else he’d regret, like pull her into his arms and show her why he’d kissed her, he shot to his feet.
He flashed her a smile he knew had to look as phony as it felt. “Headache’s better. Thanks.”
He didn’t wait for a response but strode toward the yard.
“I need to know, Kyle.”
His answer sat on the tip of his tongue, but the voice of reason sounded in his head. Don’t say it. Whatever you do, do not say it. Just keep walking.
Her soft footsteps sounded behind him. “You can’t just do something like that and walk away and expect me not to question it. You blow hot and cold, do you know that? I know desire when I see it, yet you just keep walking away.”
“Ever think maybe I wanted to kiss you?” The words left his mouth on a hoarse whisper, and God help him, a desperate need to see her eyes seized him. He turned to find her directly behind him. She stared for a fraction of a second too long, heat and curiosity blazed in her eyes. A heartbeat later, a light blush stole into her cheeks, but she didn’t move, didn’t say a word.
Everything inside of him ground to a halt, his mind twisting off in another direction. I’ll be damned. If ever he needed a confirmation, there it was. Whatever had happened between them was definitely not one-sided.
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00FFFSZB6
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FFFSZB6
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/risking-it-all-jm-stewart/1116985780
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
About the Author: JM Stewart is the author of passionate, heartfelt contemporary romance. She’s a wife, a mother, a spiritualist, and lover of puppies, and happily addicted to coffee and chocolate. She lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband, two sons, and two very spoiled dogs. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily-ever-after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her obsession.
Thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.
Thanks so much for having me, Sharon!