Author Stacy Juba writes in multiple genres, including adult mystery, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, young adult, children’s books. Today she sits down with us to play 20 (give or take) Questions. Learn more about Stacy at her website and blog.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I wrote my first story in third grade, and by fifth grade, I was writing my own mystery series. I first decided to try my hand at writing a novel when I was 16. The book, my young adult hockey novel Face-Off, was published when I was 18. That motivated me to continue writing novels.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
My journey was unusual as my first book was published when I was a teenager, after entering a contest. After that though, I went through years and years of rejection for my other novels. There were a lot of ups and downs. I was represented by an agent for a while and had many near misses with books going before pub committees. Finally, I sold my two adult mystery novels to a small mystery publisher. After Face-Off was published, it took about 18 years to get a second novel published. However, my articles were regularly published in newspapers and magazines throughout that time.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I’ve done everything. I was traditionally published by a large publisher and by a small press, and now I am focusing on indie publishing. I really like having control of the finished product and being able to set the price, and am grateful for all the opportunities that are available to writers nowadays.
Where do you write?
I write in my home office on the computer as well as on the go, using my AlphaSmart Neo word processor. Sometimes I write at the library or in the waiting room during appointments.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Silence is golden. I have trouble concentrating when I listen to music. I do like listening to it while I take breaks. I enjoy music from the 80s and 90s and bands like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Def Leppard. I enjoy some music from today, but I’m picky. One artist that I like is Katy Perry.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
My characters aren’t inspired by real people, but my settings and plots are inspired by aspects of my life. Twenty-Five Years Ago Today was inspired by my previous job as a newspaper editorial assistant. One of my tasks was compiling the 25 Years Ago Today items from the microfilm. I got the idea of having a newspaper editorial assistant stumble across a cold case on the microfilm.
Sink or Swim was inspired by the reality TV show craze. I made my protagonist Cassidy a personal trainer who works at a health club because I was an exercise science major in college and once worked for a gym. My most recent book was inspired by a family trip to a theme park. I’ll basically take an element that I “know” from my everyday life and weave it into a book, and from there my imagination takes over. I tend to set my books in small towns as I’ve always lived in small towns.
Describe your process for naming your character?
I’ll often use baby naming books and telephone directories, browsing for first and last names. I’ll know when I’ve hit on the right combination as it feels right. I’m careful to make sure I don’t have too many characters starting with the same letter in the same book, and I vary the amount of syllables in names. I’ve been known to change names of minor characters during my early drafts as I’ll suddenly realize a couple names are too similar. I want to make the characters stand out as individuals so the reader doesn’t get confused. Sometimes a name will have a symbolic meaning. For example, I chose Dawn as the name of the teenage psychic in my paranormal young adult thriller Dark Before Dawn as it represents light and she is involved in a struggle between good and evil. I chose Jaine as the name of the protagonist in my upcoming book Fooling Around With Cinderella because she feels like a plain Jane until she is made over as a theme park princess.
Real settings or fictional towns?
I am inspired by real settings, but I always change the name of the town. I didn’t want to worry about real buildings in the book being torn down, for example. I do set my books in the Northeast, though, as I grew up there.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Pepper, the mother of Sink or Swim heroine Cassidy Novak, is quite quirky. She has a big beehive hair-do and wears flashy colors, but her most annoying quirk to Cassidy is how she is constantly dating different men. She has even married a few of them.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I am super organized and have tons of lists, but I am very messy. My desk is messy, the kitchen counter is messy, and my bedroom dresser is messy. A former co-worker once told me that my work space was organized chaos.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Harry Potter series. I think it is a brilliant, well planned out series, and it was amazing how it captivated the attention of so many different age groups.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I wish I could go back and be less reactive. There have been times where my temper flared up or I stressed out about situations that weren’t worth getting all worked up over. I regret times I’ve taken out my stress on other people.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is when parents allow their children to join social networks such as Facebook and Instagram and share personal information and pictures in front of hundreds to thousands of strangers. It also bothers me when I see kids addicted to their devices in public. I think it’s fine for them to have devices such as iPods, but when you have a group of kids out at an ice cream place or being driven to the movies and they are all immersed in their devices rather than talking to each other, I see that as a problem.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My husband and children.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Greeting card clerk in college, in a discount greeting card department of a drug store. I’d spend a couple hours straightening all the cards and when I came in the next day, they would be all messed up again. That’s another of my quirks – it’s okay if I’m messy, but if someone else is messy, it drives me crazy!
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Since high school, I’ve always loved The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
Ocean or mountains?
Ocean. I’m not one to sunbathe on the beach for hours, but I enjoy taking walks on the beach. I find the ocean very peaceful.
City girl or country girl?
Country girl. I like to visit cities once in a while, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I am finishing up my romantic comedy/sweet romance novel Fooling Around With Cinderella and hope to have that out in 2014. I plan to write some spinoff short stories inspired by that book and also would like to finally finish Offsides, the sequel to my young adult hockey novel Face-Off.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I enjoy writing about characters that are at a crossroads, or a fork in the road. I have published books in different genres and for different ages, but the crossroads element is the common thread. I hope readers will stop by my website. I have some free reads available at: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/short-stories/, including a free mystery audiobook.
Twenty-Five Years Ago Today
Should we dig for the truth when Pandora's Box is a coffin of buried secrets? For twenty-five years, Diana Ferguson's killer has gotten away with murder. When rookie obit writer and newsroom editorial assistant Kris Langley investigates the cold case of the artistic young cocktail waitress who was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, not only does she fall in love with Diana's sexy nephew, but she must also fight to stay off the obituary page herself.