Stephanie Chong-Interview and Giveaway with the Author
With the release of The Demoness of Waking Dreams, The Reading Cafe is happy to present the author Stephanie Chong.
TRC: Hi Stephanie and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of your latest novel in the Company of Angels series-THE DEMONESS OF WAKING DREAMS.
Stephanie: Thanks so much for having me here!
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Stephanie: I worked as a lawyer at a top-tier Canadian firm and completed five university degrees before landing my dream job: romance novelist. My degrees include a J.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s in Creative Writing from Oxford University.
When I’m not writing, I like to travel and spend time outdoors. I live in Vancouver, Canada, with my husband and our pug, Dexter.
TRC: How much do you feel your education and background have helped you with the research and challenges of writing a novel?
Stephanie: Each stage of my education and experience has helped – and hindered – in its own way. Studying and practicing law taught me how to problem solve and how to work hard. My Ph.D. gave me the confidence to tackle a book-length project. My doctoral thesis was 300 pages long, and I finished that before I wrote my first novel. Doing a Master’s in Creative Writing helped me begin to think of myself as a “real” writer. I learned a lot about the craft of writing, and started to find my voice as a writer.
My education has also presented certain challenges. For one thing, it took me a long time to get the courage to follow my dreams and make the transition to working as a novelist.
Obviously, many wildly successful authors never finished college. Being talented, smart, hard-working and passionate about writing fiction are the only qualifications you need.
TRC: What was the catalyst that sparked your desire to write?
Stephanie: Like I said, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. My parents read to us a lot when we were little, and I read voraciously a young child. I guess it was the wonder and excitement I found through books that made me want to write my own stories.
TRC: What challenges did you face in writing this series e.g. travel, logistics, research?
Stephanie: When I originally planned the series, I picked locations and things I already knew pretty well. Book I is partly set in LA, where I’ve spent a lot of time because my sister lives there. Book II takes place mostly in Venice, a city I’ve visited three times. I didn’t make a trip back for the book, but I did extensive research and reading.
Book III is set in France. I lived in Lyon as an exchange student during law school, but had not been to France since 2006. So I took a trip earlier this summer. I traced the path the characters take in the novel. It was an interesting way to travel – the writing provided a focus I’d never had before, and it made me look at places and their history in an entirely different way.
TRC: Would you please tell us about the premise of your COMPANY OF ANGELS series?
Stephanie: In the raging battle against the demon ranks, a group of Guardians called the Company of Angels watches over the souls of mankind, as the angels themselves journey to understand true love.
TRC: THE DEMONESS OF WAKING DREAMS is the latest release in the Company of Angels series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Stephanie: The Demoness of Waking Dreams is the story of a forbidden desire between a demon and an angel.
Luciana Rossetti is a Rogue demoness on her annual hunt for a human sacrifice to the devil. Guardian angel Brandon Clarkson is sent to track her down. An ex-cop with a tough-guy exterior, Brandon is highly intelligent and an expert at his job: safeguarding humankind.
In the lavish and labyrinthine city of Venice, their passion ignites. Their love changes each of them profoundly, yet threatens to destroy them both.
TRC: Did you face any difficulties getting your series to publication?
Stephanie: No. In fact, it was the opposite. I finished my first novel in September 2009, then met my editor at a conference in October 2009. A little over three months later, I had an agent and a three-book deal with Harlequin MIRA.
However, I’ve had plenty of other struggles, both as a writer and as a human being. For example, my “easy” publication story came after I worked on my fiction writing for six years. I wrote for a long time before I dared to submit anything for publication. I took night classes in fiction at community colleges for several years before starting my Master’s in Creative Writing.
There’s no way to get around hard work, and there’s no way to avoid adversity. But hard work and adversity make you who you are – they shape your character and make you stronger.
So, to those writers struggling toward publication: persevere.
TRC: If you could virtually cast the characters of your series, using actors and models, whom would you cast for the major players in the storylines?
Serena St. Clair: Jennifer Lawrence
Julian Ascher: Ian Somerhalder
Luciana Rossetti: A young Monica Belluci
Brandon Clarkson: Channing Tatum at his most intense and brooding
TRC: What do you have planned for the next installment in the series?
Stephanie: Book III follows the adventure of the hero and heroine across France. Both main characters are new – readers haven’t met them before – but there are recurring characters and plotlines from the previous books. Beyond that, I don’t want to give too much away! Keep your eyes out for Book III in 2013.
TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon for many authors. Would you please tell us how you handle the stress and anxiety of writer’s block?
Stephanie: I’m a devotee of Julia Cameron’s The Writer’s Way, which provides a lot of exercises for working through blocks. She recommends freewriting three pages every morning. That is pretty much the only way I can start any day in which any useful writing gets done.
Recently, I’ve picked up two great recommendations from fellow author JT Ellison: Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Both of these books offer advice on how to deal with creative blocks.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas between other authors, or with friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Stephanie: My wonderful editor, Valerie Gray. I could go on forever about what a rare blessing it is to work with a great editor. The Demoness of Waking Dreams is dedicated to her. The book would not exist without her persistence and creative guidance.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Stephanie: Book III.
Tenderloin. Confession: I’m a recently lapsed vegetarian, after eight meatless years, including three years of veganism.
Ice cream. See above.
Favorite TV Show
Band of Brothers
Gone with the Wind
Last Movie You Saw
The Hunger Games, for the second time.
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Milk. Again, see above.
Do you have any pets?
A pug, Dexter. He’s one of those dogs who thinks he’s human, and likes to participate in human activities.
TRC: Stephanie, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your successes. You are a very gifted writer.
Stephanie: Thanks again!
Stephanie and Cara are offering a giveaway of her novel WHERE DEMONS FEAR TO TREAD ( book #1 in the Company of Angels series) to (up to) 10 lucky registered members at The Reading Cafe.
1. To be eligible for the giveaway, you must be a member at The Reading Cafe. If you are not a member, please register using the log-in at the top of the page, or by using one of the social log-ins.
2. If you are using a social log-in such as Twitter, please leave your email address with your comment as Twitter etc does not allow for email address info.
3. Giveaway open to continental USA and Canada only.
4. Giveaway from September 11-14, 2012