Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stacia Kane & Stacey Jay discuss imperfect protagonists, cowriting, and drop the F bomb

Happy release day, addicts! We're psyched about all of the fantastic novels hitting the shelves today (even though we've already read several of them). But now, our friends will be reading them too and we can discuss them without spoiler worries and read through all of the new reviews.

During our Stacia & Stacey Giveaway Hop, the authors provided us with a chat where they asked each other questions, discussing topics such as their characters and starting out in the writing business.

We provided a portion of this chat during the initial post for our giveaway, but now we want to give everyone a chance to read the rest. 

We hope you enjoy it! 

Stacia: If you click on the "Chats" line in your gmail menu, it'll bring up old chats, and you can open them and see how the formatting goes.
Stacey: How about we chat and then you copy and paste for me? *bats eyelashes* *is delicate and needs to be coddled today*
Stacia: Lol, no problem, I can do that.
Stacey: My hero
Stacia: Let me go pee first, since I totally should have done that before. 
And yes, I am.
Stacey: This is going in the interview. That you pee a lot
Stacia: Hahahahahah!
Stacey: I pee a lot too. This could get ugly. Go. Pee. I'll sit here and drink coffee so I can pee later.*drinks coffee**drinks coffee*
Stacia: Yay! I just peed, and later you'll pee! There's that psychic connection again.OMG we are both women who sometimes pee.
*We-have-trouble-staying-on-task chitchat eliminated*
Stacey: And now I'm going to ask you a question. Ready?
Stacia: Okay!
Stacey: So, people say that Chess and Annabelle have a lot in common, that they, too, are women who both pee and are in other ways soul sisters. Would you agree? I have my thoughts. Of course. But interested in your take.
Stacia: Lol. I think they have a lot in common, yeah, totally. I mean, aside from the obvious. Because to me it's not what they do--as far as having a dependency or habit or whatever--that makes them similar so much as the fact that they're both, maybe, representative of types of women who don't always get represented?
Stacey: Yes. I get that.
Stacia: I mean, it seems sometimes women, especially in genre fiction, are really given narrow parameters and there's only a very narrow field of "acceptable" qualities/behavior. And I think Chess and Annabelle both step out of that field to some degree. I think that's why the readers who've connected with them have connected SO STRONGLY, so much more--from what I've seen--than with other characters they love and care about. Because Chess and Annabelle reflect another side of women that isn't often found in books…a side that many women identify with but can't find. So they really connect with that, because finally here's a character like them, even if they don't have the kinds of issues Chess and Annabelle have.
Stacey: The part that isn't always perfect. Or strong.
Stacia: Yes. They're not perfect. And I don't think reading them makes the reader wonder what's wrong with them that they don't agree with what the heroine is doing or don't understand why they're getting upset or whatever. If you know what I mean. Instead of reading about an unrealistically perfect woman they can never hope to be, they see that actually, who they are is okay and there are still people who will like/love/care about them even though they aren't perfect.
Stacey: Exactly. We all have moments of weakness. What's interesting to me is seeing a character who is in a hard place trying to sort things out for herself, to make her own way. If the character starts out as a super hero, where does she really have to go from there?
Stacia: YES.
Stacey: And I think there is HUGE pressure for women to present this perfect, modern, feminine image.
Stacia: YES.
Stacey: We must be strong and tough and take no prisoners and look great in a mini skirt while we do it. I didn't want to write that woman. I wanted to write a woman who wasn't interested in being that woman.
Stacia: And we must also love kids and want babies and be great with animals and heal the sick and all of that, too.
Stacey: And work in a soup kitchen.
Stacia: And YES, again. As a writer a character like that just isn't that interesting. Someone who's just so cute and adorable and nice just...other people can write them, and that's great and they can be really fun/interesting to read, but to me as a writer they're just not challenging. I'm not really interested in getting in their heads.
And yes, they must do charity work, of course. It's also best if their paying job is something like social worker/teacher/nurse so they devote their lives to taking care of others.
Stacey: Okay, so I typed a bunch of stuff, but I don't know where to go with this.
Help meeeeee....
Stacia: Okay, what did you type?
Stacey: Stuff. Why don't you ask a question, lol.
Stacia: Okay, damn, I had a couple of really good questions for you, I'm trying to find the file.
Lol, sorry, got totally distracted for a minute by an ad for the new season of MAD MEN.
Stacey: Lol.
Stacia: I hate that they won't even show us teeny-tiny clips from it! Not even a still image! AAARGH!
*more chitchat cut, conversation begins to take turn for the depressing because discussing MAD MEN does that to people*
Stacey: Okay, should we try to get back on track?
Stacia: The sad/weird thing is, remember when we started out?
Stacey: When we started out I was so optimistic. 
Stacia: Me too. 
Stacey: I also felt very safe behind my pen name.
Stacia: But it seems like the battle lines weren't so finely drawn then.I think the writer/reader community was friendlier then.
Stacey: Yes, I think so. Or maybe I was just more naive. I think it could also be that our place in this world changed.
Stacia: True, that could be it too.
Stacey: We started out as unpublished smut writers. We transitioned into UF and YA, two much more competitive writing worlds. More critical, as well.
Stacia: I think people tend to see us as being "bigger" than we are. Like the fact that we got books onto shelves means we're rich and successful.
Stacey: AHAHAHA! Yes. Yes.
Stacia: I gotta say, from here this doesn't look much like success.
Stacey: Successful. AHAAHAHA<--more hysterical laughter.
Stacia: Yep.                                                                                  Stacey: It's certainly more pressure
Stacia: The standards are higher. And then there's us being women, which means they're even higher. I've seen men say outrageous things and nobody cares.We're depressing.
Stacey: We totally the fuck are. Let's cuss a bit, shall we?
Stacia: Okay, let's be more fun.
Stacey: Fuck fuckity fuck.
Stacia: Yes! Fuck, yes.
Stacey: FUCCCCKKK!!!! I like saying fuck. I don't get to do that as much in my Young Adult work.
Stacia: So I remember...did I reply to your beta-reader/CP request, or did you reply to mine?
Stacey: I don't remember. I've given birth since then. And moved four times. But I remember I was so excited.
Stacia: You were "*a different last name*" then. :)
Stacey: I was. So, yes, also gotten divorced and remarried since then. I've known you longer than my old man.
Stacia: Ha! yes! And we both had little ones; Faerie was only a few months old (or was I pregnant with her?)
Stacey: She was only a few months old, I believe. And you were breastfeeding constantly, lol. You typed one handed.
Stacia: Hahaha, yes! She breastfed constantly for pretty much the first year of her life, lol.I just remember we traded first-three-chapters, and I was so excited when I read yours because I thought they were so good and fun, and our voices seemed similar.
Stacey: Yes. Me too! I remember I thought you could write a hell of a sex scene and I needed to step up my game. Which I liked. Being challenged. Growing as a writer.
Stacia: I'd traded mss with a few other people--not from Passionate Ink, but just people I'd met online who also wanted to write/liked to write--and was really worried, because I'd seen some really bad writing/gotten some really lame critique.Along the lines of "This is grate! Keep going!" Which is nice but, you know, not helpful.
Stacey: Not very helpful, no. I liked that you had criticism.
Stacia: I just remember that not only was your characterization so great, you totally cracked what was wrong with my first scene in a nanosecond and your suggestions made it a million times better.
Stacey: And I was so flattered that someone so smart was willing to put up with me. Lol. You really are so smart. 
I think I have a good feeling for structure. Sometimes. On Wednesdays. Sometimes Saturdays.
Stacia: I had no conflict, remember? My H/h were just bantering, and it was amusing but they seemed kind of stupid for not actually talking about the situation. Hahaha, and I thought you were clearly so far ahead of me as a writer that I was so flattered you actually would spend time with ME.
Stacey: Omg, you were so crazy. Lol. I was such a newbie. I knew NOTHING.
Stacia: Neither did I! I had, like, one book on writing romance, that was written in like 1984.But yes, I am crazy smart. Lol.
Stacey: You really are. It's intimidating sometimes.
Stacia: Oh, please. Yes, I'm the Stephen Hawking of urban fantasy.
Stacey: *spits tea* And funny too.
But I like looking back. It’s inspiring
Stacia: It is, isn't it?
Stacey: Because we both had SO FAR to go and so much to learn, but we did.
Stacia: I know! I can't believe it!
Stacey: We challenged each other and we kept learning about the business and now, here we are...seven years later? Is it seven? Eight?
Stacia: It is seven, yes. Almost exactly, because Faerie turned seven in December.
Stacey: I could never have imagined we'd be doing an interview together about our published UF series back then. I was hopeful, but I never REALLY thought something like this could happen.
Stacia: I know, me either!
Stacey: This is the happy part. Lol.
Stacia: It is, isn't it? I was gonna say, at that point I just hoped to sell to {big epublisher}. I remember when you did and being really excited for you, but also thinking "That's it, she's going to leave me in the dust now."
Stacey: I never thought that. Ever. I had a feeling about you. *feels so good to be right*But I think beginning writers should take heart. And realize what a good CP and a support system of other writers can do for you.
I have to pee
We all pee
Stacia: Lol, no worries, I have to cook a hamburger for Princess, so I'm popping up/sitting down.
It totally is a point about what a good support system can do, and also what a good CP can do. Because in a good strong CP relationship you grow together and keep learning from each other.
*a short break is taken*
Stacia: Here I am!
Stacey: Hello! I got 100 words done. Not terrible. I had a hard time getting focused. Okay, so where were we?
Stacia: You had a hard time getting focused because you were thinking of mah awesomeness. :-)  We were about to move on to {big epublisher} and cowriting. If you want.                                                           Stacey: Lol. Okay. Sounds good.
Stacia: So you sold to {big epublisher} and I was Very Sad because I thought you were all big and pro now and wouldn't need the likes of me anymore.
Stacey: But you didn't tell me that!So did we cowrite first?
Stacia: Nooo, I didn't want to make you think of it if you hadn't already!
Stacey: Lol. I can't remember what happened next. You tell.
Stacia: Ha, okay. Well, we'd both already sold to smaller markets
Stacey: Yes, we had. Learning experiences for sure.
Stacia: Totally. But I was still working on BLOOD WILL TELL and I'd subbed it to {big epublisher} and was wait wait waiting.
Stacey: Oh yeah! Now I remember!
Stacia: Then {big epublisher} decided to do the anthos, and you asked if I'd be interested in doing one with you, since it could be subbed right to your editor and so I could skip the long waiting period.And we came up with that awesome plot, heh.
Stacey: Hee! Oh yes, and we sold it. Yes we did. So naughty, that one.
Stacia: I still love that story. 
Stacey: It's always been fun writing with you, and it was another thing that helped me grow as a writer. After working together I learned how little I grounded my characters in the scene. I didn't use the setting as fully as I should. I still struggle with that, but working with you helped me improve so much. 
Stacia: Oh, I learned so much from that. I remember being all panicky about straying from the outline we'd come up with and you were like, "Just go with it!" and it was so much better for me than just plodding along.And ha, I totally skimped on internal dialogue/feelings/emotions before. Then I'd get my section back with your edits and it was just so much more fleshed out. It was a big Show vs. Tell moment for me. I remember thinking, "Ohhh! That's how you do it!"
Stacey: I really used what I learned from you a lot in the Annabelle series. In the very beginning I started off trying really hard to make the setting as much of a living, breathing character as the rest of the cast.
Stacia: nods I totally noticed that; I did the same with Downside and the Church.Actually, most of what we did together taught me a lot about Show vs. Tell and expanding character.
Stacey: Yes you did. I remember reading your first Downside book when you were just starting out and thinking shit she's totally taken what she's best at up another notch. I was IN that world from the very first page. And the relationships were spot on too, of course. Especially Terrible. You know how much I love Terrible.
Stacia: Hee, I love him too. :)
Stacey: So now we don't co-write together anymore. :(  This gives me a sad.
Stacia: It's funny to me how dark our work was even back then. 
I know, me too. We should do that again.
Stacey: Yes, we should. I want to do something YA with you someday.
Stacia: That would be awesome. But we were definitely both moving into much darker stuff than we did when we started. There were elements of darkness in the beginning for both of us but we really grew into it.                                                                                                           Stacey: Yes. Absolutely. I had to learn not to shy away from those places.
Stacia: Yes, I totally had to learn not to be scared of that. I think in the beginning I was trying so hard to be someone else, to sound like someone else.
Stacey: Yes, I was trying to write a Betty Sue. And it felt wrong. I may look like a Betty Sue, but on the inside I am full of darkness and danger. *waggles danger fingers*
Stacia: Right. I was trying to write someone I didn't fully understand.
Stacey: lol
Stacia: Yes! me too! We are dangerous wimmins under the skin.
Stacey: Yes :).
Stacia: I didn't want to expose myself. And honestly I thought if I did I'd get rejected, which kind of brings us full circle back to the Downside books/Bayou books.
Stacey: It does.
Stacia: Because those are so intensely personal for me.
Stacey: Me, as well. I feel very lucky that I've had some readers really connect with Annabelle, and "get" her. She's a character who means a lot to me.
Stacia: Yes. I do feel really lucky for that, and really proud. It especially means a TON to me when I get emails from addicts or former addicts, or relatives of addicts, who say the books helped them heal or helped them understand what their loved one was going through.I just think it's sad that there's so much judgment out there, when men don't get the same kind of judgment for writing the same types of characters/issues/etc.
Stacey: Yes! That was a big part of my inspiration for Annabelle. I wanted to write a hard-boiled character like in the old mystery novels, but have her be a woman. I also wanted to start her out close to rock bottom. So she'd have a long way to climb out.
Stacia: The semi- or straight-up alcoholic male detective, yeah. Nobody ever talks about how awful he is or what a bad example he is or how the writer should be ashamed of himself.
Stacey: No, they don't!  Lol. But they don't like that in a girl. Or the fact that she wears the same clothes a lot. Rumpled in a man is okay. Rumpled in a woman is icky.
Stacia: Lol, Chess is slowly working her way to rock bottom. Her addiction is seriously starting to spiral. YES.
Dr. House is awesome and sexy and nobody whines about how weak and selfish and what a user he is, although he's actually forged scripts from his friends' pads before. 
The double standard infuriates me.
Stacey: Absolutely.
Okay, so, should we try to tie something up?                                 Stacia: Yeah, I guess so.
Stacey: I have a question for you.
Stacia: Okay!
Stacey: Seven years ago we dreamed of being published. Where do you dream we'll be in another seven years? You go first.
Stacia: Oh, man. Still published! :) Or rather still publishing. I'd love to be making bigger sales. But I also want to make sure I'm still writing stuff that means something to me. I'd rather lose my career than write crap just to make a buck.  Your turn! Then I have a question for you.
Stacey: I'd love to still be publishing, but publishing less. One book a year. One book that I put everything into. Something that's as magical as I think the world can be on a good day. And I want to still be good friends. And I want to visit you in England and eat lots and lots of clotted cream together (if your ulcer can handle it). And lemon curd. And scones.
Stacia: Dude, my ulcer is fine with clotted cream and scones, so get your butt out here!
Stacey: Squee!                                                                         Stacia: Okay, here's my question.                                             Stacey: Okay
Stacia: It's kind of two parts. First, what do you think your dream project is; what do you really want to say with your work? And second, what would you like to see ME write? Then I'll answer. :)
Stacey: For myself--I want to write a story about transformation of a world. I want to write something that makes people believe that we don't have to live like this. That the world doesn't have to be so violent and sexist and shitty to the poor and the struggling. For all the jadedness of my early thirties, I remain an unrepentant optimist. I hope for better from this world for my kids. I want to help us get there.
Stacia: Aww...that's so touching. wipes away tear Heh, just teasing.
Stacey: *is not surprised by the smart ass* For you: I want to see you write a book about a young girl enjoying sex aimed at the YA market. Real sex. The way it really is when you're a teen and learning about yourself and your body and learning how amazing being with another person can feel. I've wanted to write a positive book about feminine sensuality for a long time, but I don't think I've got the unflinchingness to do it. I think you could. It would be a hard sell, commercially, but I think it would rock out and be a great thing for girls to read. It's okay to enjoy sex. We SHOULD enjoy sex, when the time and the person is right. I'm sick of everyone acting like it's dirty for a 16-18 year old girl to be enjoying discovering her sexuality.
Stacia: OMG, the funny/sad thing is, the MC in my YA now--you remember--is actually shit-scared of sex. Eep.
Stacey: Lol. That's okay. It is scary too.
Stacia: I actually think you'd be much better at writing that than me!
Stacey: I'm just saying it doesn't have to be. No way.
Stacia: I'd love to see you write that. I have no frame of reference for that, because the whole concept of sex freaked me the fuck out as a teen.
Stacey: Hm. I forgot that about you. You've come into your own so beautifully, lol.
Stacia: I have all kinds of weird hang-ups still!
Stacey: I'm just weird. No hang ups. ;).
Okay, well I'll think of something else I'd like to see you write. I’d like to see you write something funny. Something that makes people spit food when they read it. Because you are very, very funny.And funny is a challenge and you know you like a challenge. *dangles challenge carrot*
Stacia: Ha. I'd like to write funny but I think funny and dark don't always mix well.
Stacey: But I like funny and dark.
Your turn.                                                                                    Stacia: I'd love to see you write that teen sex thing, though. I was going to say I'd love to see you write something that empowers people, because I think that's always been an issue for you. I just want people to feel like they're not alone and it's okay to be who they are, but you always seem to have a passion for making them want to improve things and be stronger and better.
Stacey: I think you're right.  I am a fixer, sometimes when I shouldn't be.
Stacia: I think you would rock at some kind of non-fic for teen girls, too.
You are, totally.
Stacey: I just want people to know that they don't have to stay in the place they are, if they don't like that place. If they like it, then I'm cool. Unless they're killing babies or kittens. Or puppies, I guess, even though I'm not as in love with puppies as babies and kittens.
Stacia: Lol.
Stacey: So what about you?
Stacia: Like I said, I just want people to stop judging each other and realize that it's okay to be different.
Stacey: I think that's very you. 
I'm glad I know you. 
Stacia: Aaw, me too! 
Dude...I love you. I love that we've gotten to work together for so long.
Stacey: Me too!  It's pretty amazing.
Stacia: And you've made such a difference in my life and my career and I honestly wouldn't be where I am now--whether that's in such a great place or not, lol--without you.
Stacey: Aw man. Hugs. Your support has meant so much to me.
Stacia: Same here.
Oh, shit, I need to make Faerie a quesadilla.
Stacey: Okay. Go!  I'll talk to you later.
Stacia: Make sure you do!  Hugs & love, talk more soon!
Stacey: Bye!


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