After declaring her candidacy for President at age four, Deb Stover veered off course to play Lois Lane for a number of years. When she refused to blow Clark Kent’s cover, she turned her attention to her own Real American Hero and married him. Considering her experience with Heroes, redirecting her passion for writing toward romance novels seemed a natural progression. Since publication of Shades of Rose in 1995, Stover has received dozens of awards for her best-selling work, which includes over twenty titles in a variety of languages and formats.
HEART’S KISS INTERVIEWS DEB STOVER
by Denise Little
Denise Little: I met Deb Stover on my first weekend as a romance editor. I’d just started at Kensington Publishing, and that Saturday they put me on a plane to Colorado. “There’s a writer’s conference going on there. See what you can find,” they told me. One of the things I found was Deb Stover. I bought her first book Shades of Rose, as well as many others. I love her work, as well as valuing her friendship.
Deb, we met when we were both brand new in romance at one of the first Pike’s Peak Writers Conferences. I bought your first book. What are your favorite memories of a life in romance?
Deb Stover: The friendships I have made among other writers, editors, and agents are priceless. Over the years—decades, in our case—we may only see each other once a year or even less, but we still manage to stay in touch via email, on Facebook, or by phone. Some of my writer friends are as close to me as sisters. When my husband died in 2005, my first critique group held a fundraiser to help defray moving costs to relocate my children and I back to Colorado Springs. That’s family!
You, as an editor, know you can call me out of the blue and ask if I’m interested in sometimes bizarre projects, and you don’t hold it against me if I don’t have the time or inclination to take it on at that particular moment. How do I know that? Because you never hesitate to call again with the next one.
The Romance Writers bond is closer than that of other writers—at least, I believe it is. I remember a bookseller once doing a large multi-author signing in her store. She had the writers scattered all over the store instead of all at one table. She was shocked when we suggested it would be more fun and successful if she seated us all together at the front of the store. She said mystery writers would never allow her to do that. We Romance Authors love each other and enjoy sitting together. We did, and it was a grand success.
So it is the friendships, more than anything, that I treasure. I haven’t been able to attend conferences as often as I used to since my husband’s death, but I hope to be able to again in the future. I miss my Romance family.
DL: How has romance changed? Has it changed your writing?
DS: All publishing has changed with the explosion of “indie” publishing. In the bad old days when my first book was released, there was no such thing. Self-publishing was “vanity” publishing and had a terrible stigma attached. Now even well-established, best-selling authors have jumped on the indie trail. However, many indie authors have seen a huge drop-off in book sales over the last year or so. I believe book piracy plays a huge role in this problem. It’s crucial that the Authors Guild and other writers’ organizations be more aggressive in fighting this problem. For individual authors and agents, it’s like playing whack-a-mole.
As for my writing, the main thing that’s changed is my speed. I used to write three 100,000 word books a year. Now it takes me more than a year to write one. That has nothing to do with the change in publishing, and everything to do with health issues and the death of my husband.
I miss traditional publishing. Some authors enjoy publishing their own work, but I would much rather allow my publisher do artwork and publishing/marketing things, leaving me to write. The only books I’ve “indie” published are reissues of my backlist.
DL: How much of your real life creeps into your books, and vice versa?
DS: I think we’re all guilty of allowing our baggage to creep into our characters on occasion. My critique group will catch me sometimes and call something I’ve written a “Debism.” That said, I don’t deliberately preach in my books. I do include topics about which I am passionate. In Another Dawn, for example, I wrote about an innocent man sentenced to death. The opening scene has him in the electric chair. I am vehemently opposed to the death penalty. One reviewer wrote: “Another Dawn packs a powerful anti-death penalty punch without the sermon.” I’m very proud of that.
DL: You’ve written a lot of paranormal romance, as well as straight and historical romance. How does the writing change when reality takes flight?
DS: Freedom! Actually, that’s not true. It’s a serious challenge to the paranormal author not to allow magical elements to become a crutch. So in many ways it’s more difficult to balance the paranormal elements with reality. Our characters still must face their greatest fears to achieve their ultimate goal, but they need to do that without a crutch. In other words, the paranormal element shouldn’t make it easier for the character. This is one reason I dislike time travels in which the portal is a revolving door. I think there should be serious consequences for the leap through time. If a character is able to hop back and forth, where’s the conflict?
DL: Character seems to drive your stories. How do you decide which characters will work together and drive a book?
DS: I don’t think I decide. They pick me. My books always begin with a character in a situation and the “What if…?” question. That’s the fun part. In all seriousness, I’m a vehicle to tell their story. I feel as if I’m channeling it when I’m in the throes of first draft.
DL: How do you approach a new project?
DS: Repeat of previous answer. I see a character in a situation and it evolves from there.
DL: What’s your favorite book that you wrote and why?
DS: Another Dawn, I think, because it was a “gift” book that practically wrote itself. I ran across some notes and newspaper articles I had saved from a college political science class on the death penalty. I was arguing the con side. One article I had was about a young man who had survived the electric chair, and it included gory details about the process. Sadly, the state managed to do it again and was successful. I met Luke Nolan, put him in the wrong place at the wrong time as a young man. The book won many awards and is still available in digital format and in a 3-book volume titled Time’s Embrace.
DL: Which writers shaped you?
DS: Nora Roberts, Maggie Osborne, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Margaret Mitchell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck—many more.
DL: What are your desert island books? The ones you would keep with you if you got marooned?
DS: The Promise of Jenny Jones; Nora Roberts’ trilogies: Irish Born, Gallaghers of Ardmore, Sign of Seven; Gone with the Wind; Ashes in the Wind.
Copyright © 2017 by Denise Little.
Copyright © 2017 Arc Manor LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2017 Arc Manor