Sunday, February 22, 2015

Interview with Anna J Steward, author of Asking for Trouble on #PrismBookTours

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

Asking for Trouble (Tremayne Family, #1)Asking for Trouble
(Tremayne Family #1)
Anna J. Stewart
Adult Contemporary Romance
February 17th 2015 by Berkley InterMix

The Tremaynes are one of the most prosperous families in Lantano Valley, California. But money can’t buy everything—especially when it comes to love…

Morgan Tramayne has a heart of gold, but to keep her children’s charity afloat she’s had to resort to some less than legal means: donations from a notorious cat burglar who targets the wealthy. It’s only a matter of time before Morgan’s criminal connection blows up in her face—especially since her undeniable attraction to the man heading the investigation keeps putting her in tricky situations.

Former police detective-turned-investigator Gage Juliano has two goals: salvaging his career and nabbing Lantano Valley’s present-day Robin Hood. But when he meets a beautiful, curvaceous woman who’s more interested in helping others than amassing a fortune like the rest of the town’s residents, Gage finds his desires pulled in an unexpected direction…

Note: This novel contains some mature content.

Please welcome Anna to Colorimetry!

Tell us a little about how you got started as an author and how you came up with the idea for this book?

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Laura. I think I was a born storyteller. I always had imaginary friends or was making up fantastical tales, plus I've had a book in my hand for as long as I can remember. In the 70's, there wasn't the selection of YA novels there are now, so I dived into the mainstream fiction realm pretty early and was reading Stephen King by age 8. Once I discovered romance novels, however, I knew that's what I was meant to write. Around that same time, some friends and I started writing mini-romances featuring our favorite rock stars or movie stars (an early form of Fan Fiction I suppose). From there...writing was all there was for me.

ASKING FOR TROUBLE was actually the very first novel I ever finished. And I wrote it on a typewriter (that should tell you how long ago that happened). The idea was originally about Nemesis, the cat burglar stalking the wealthy citizens of fictional Lantano Valley, California, but as I learned more about writing and plot and conflict, I knew I needed another angle and additional characters. One night I was watching a St. Jude infomercial (I was a Danny Thomas fan from way back) and the idea of a children's charity/treatment center seemed the perfect thing for my heroine to fight for. The resulting circumstance asked the question what wouldn't Morgan Tremayne (my heroine) do to fight for those she loved. And who would be the worst possible person for her to fall for? A cop. The rest of the puzzle came together soon after.

Nice... I love seeing how the pieces came together individually to make the whole.

Where do you get your ideas for characters? In particular, did you steal some characteristics from yourself or people you know for the main characters?

For me, I get an image first. There's a scene, a face, something that triggers an idea. It's typically the heroine who appears in my head to begin with and, funny enough, my life-long collecting of dolls comes into play. Each of my heroines has a Barbie representation sitting on my desk. The middle-range ones (not the beach Barbies and not the super duper expensive ones), but the Black Label dolls that have such different features and postures. I know her when I see her...and have been known to stalk Internet shopping sites for just the right one (if I can't find her in my collection).

For my heroes, I tend to shop around Pinterest and end up with a Hollywood inspired face (I've recently formed an obsession with Matt Bomer from White Collar).

Alas, I don't tend to use characteristics from people I know. I have been known to use some people who rub me the wrong way as villains. I think a lot of authors do that. At least I hope so! Eesh. I hope I'm not that strange. The one aspect of myself that tends to sneak into each of my heroines is their independence. There's a fine line between self-sufficiency and well, being so strong a reader can't really get behind the character. This is why I'm grateful for my critique partners. They tell me when to reign my heroines in.

All that said, I think each character has formed in its own time and in its own way. For instance, I have one character (from a paranormal/Urban Fantasy novel I wrote) that exploded in my brain during a quiet walk through a local art gallery, a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. I saw my heroine, knew what she was wearing, feet kicked up on a table and high leg leather boots. With a knife. Still gives me chills when I remember that. But so far...she's the only one to materialize in that way.

How awesome that you have a Barbie collection!! What a fun, unique way to picture a character... much nicer than choosing people you know. Characters that explode on the brain are also awesome.

Which author/authors or particular books have inspired you?

Nora Roberts. Stephen King is a close second, but it was Nora's romances that made me fall in love with the genre. I read an early Silhouette romance from her when I was in high school and have since read everything she's ever written. She's still the one I go back to when I get stuck or need inspiration.

Other influences? Jude Devereaux (have you read KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR?!), Sandra Brown, and Sherrilyn Kenyon (her Dark Hunter series). Storytelling doesn't get any better.

Personally, authors Brenda Novak and Melinda Curtis have had a tremendous impact on me and my pursuit of writing. This would not be happening without their encouragement and guidance. They never let me forget or lose sight of my dream.

Nice. Such good company!

What were some of your favorite reads of the past year?

I don't have as much time to read as I used to (and it breaks my heart!). On the way home from a conference last year, I read Alyssa Alexander's THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK--a historical romance, which I don't tend to read a lot of. I fell back in love with the genre. It was spectacular.

And I might be biased, by Mel Curtis' Hollywood RULES series (AMBER RULES is the first one) is so much sexy fun and she's also writing some fabulous sweet romances with her Harmony Valley and Bridesmaids series. Oh, I was lucky enough to get an early copy of THIS HEART OF MINE by Brenda Novak. I think it's her best Whiskey Creek book to date. Hits every emotion in the bank.

Great books to add to my To-Read list. I do enjoy the Whiskey Creek series. I'll have to make sure I have This Heart of Mine. Thank you!

For the aspiring writers out there, can you tell us something about how you develop your plot?

So funny. I just gave a workshop on this to my local writing group a few months ago.

For me, it starts with the name. I have a general idea of the type of story I'm going to write when I get started, but until that name locks into place, there's no moving forward. I tend to spend a lot of time with THE CHARACTER NAMING SOURCEBOOK. It always amazes me how a name I could never use for one story works perfectly for another. From there, I open the HEROES & HEROINES: 16 ARCHETYPES by Tami Cowden & friends. It's the first step in figuring out their conflict--their clash of belief systems as Mary Buckham would say. The plot kind of comes out of those explorations (unless the plot comes first, in which case, the other elements fall into place a bit easier).

For my TROUBLE books, there's the over-arching criminal aspect which was both fun and frustrating to write, which meant research. I'm not a criminal (thank goodness!) and figuring out the financial ins and outs of banking required numerous Q & A sessions with one of my best friend's husbands (he was very patient, LOL). I now know more about security systems, rock climbing, and computer hacking than I really should. I'm sure the NSA has my computer under surveillance with all my searching online. Bonus, though. Writing these books gave me a great excuse to watch a bunch of heist movies and TV shoes (hence my obsession with Matt Bomer from WHITE COLLAR).

While I always swear I'll plot out the book before I start, inevitably the story goes somewhere I don't expect. It's nailing down the conflict that keeps me on track, even when I'm cursing myself for not doing a scene by scene plot. I might hate it while I'm slogging through it, but having that creative freedom to see where the plot and characters take me, makes the words flow faster. But that's me! Every writer needs to figure out what works for them. And that's the most important lesson I've learned in the last few years. Trust yourself. The rest will follow.

Thank you for sharing your method!!  It's great to get a peak at the "bones" underneath the story and how they might've come together.  I'd love to attend your workshop. :-)

Anna, thank you for visiting here today!!  It's an honor to promote Asking for Trouble on the tour.

You’ve met Anna J. Stewart (or someone like her) before. She was the girl who spun in circles on the playground hoping her Wonder Woman costume would magically appear before playing cops and robbers a la Charlie’s Angels–as Sabrina (she was the smart one). Anna was the girl in the back of the class with a paperback romance hidden in her algebra book (and yes, she failed algebra).
Growing up in the 70′s and 80′s meant there weren’t a lot of YA books, so she ventured early into mainstream fiction and read Stephen King’s CARRIE at the age of 8. Discovering Nora Roberts and romance novels early in high school opened her eyes to the wonders of storytelling and the beauty of a happily ever after.

So here she is, many years later with an English degree from CSU Sacramento, an RWA Golden Heart nomination behind her, countless stories in her head, and a serious addiction to STAR TREK, SUPERNATURAL, and SHERLOCK. She recently wrapped up a nearly 8-year stint working as assistant to NYTimes bestselling author Brenda Novak where she helped run Brenda's annual online auction for diabetes research. When she's not writing or reading (which she never has enough time for!), she's working on dollhouse miniatures and tolerating her overly-affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her).

Tour-Wide Giveaway

$50 Gift Card (Winner's Choice of Amazon, BN or iTunes)