Today I’m interviewing author JM Stewart, author of contemporary romance with titles available from several publishers.
Thanks so much for having me, Linda!
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I’m a stay-at-home mom by trade. My husband and I have been married for 18 years now. I’ve been devouring romances since, gosh, probably around high school. I can’t actually remember when I first picked them up. I started writing them somewhere around 14 years ago, when my youngest was a baby. My first book published in 2010. That book has since been lengthened, revised and reedited, and is being republished by Berkley Intermix.
What’s the logline that describes your writing?
Passionate, heartfelt contemporary romance
Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
Characters. My plots are always character driven, so the plot itself requires me to know the character(s) first.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
A little of both. I start with a basic premise and some idea of a plot, because I have to have some idea of where I’m going. But even then, I don’t really follow a plot. I follow my characters, so much of the book is character led. I like to say I just take dictation. I go where I’m told. 😉
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
I really kind of need quiet when I write. Music can be distracting, because my toe starts tapping, and suddenly I’m singing out loud and the page I’m writing has gone forgotten. lol I like a variety, though, usually stuff that moves me, but mostly contemporary stuff. Some of my current favorites: Josh Groban, Rascal Flatts, Adele, Daughtry, Christina Perri, Bruno Mars.
What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?
Depends on the story and how much the plot requires it. For example, for Risking It All, I didn’t need much. I needed to know about what it’s like to be a detective, the adoption process and witness protection, but most of it I researched as I needed.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
Kind of. Risking It All and Whatever It Takes are both set around where I live, in Puyallup, Washington. But otherwise, no, not really. I wish.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
Take a break and let it sit for a day or two or five. In other words, however long it takes to get me out of my head. Then I come back to it. Often, when I get stuck it’s because I’m stressing too much about writing the “perfect” story and not listening to my characters. Taking a break allows me to de-stress and get my head back where it needs to be. I need to forget the internal editor and write the story. I can always revise. The perfectionist in me absolutely loathes this, so when I get stuck, it can often take me days to let it go.
What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
The final product. I’m always amazed at watching the story come alive. For Risking It All, I had a lot of edits/revisions to do. The changes weren’t extensive, but lots of small things needed to be added in order to fully flesh out the story. The overall effect, for me, when it was finished was like looking at a different book.
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
I’m up somewhere between 4 and 5 am most days. Just can’t sleep anymore. The older I get, the earlier I conk out, which means by the time 4 am rolls around, I’m wide awake. Lol From the time I get up until the time my kids leave for school at 6:30, I do promo (check email, check the street teams I’m on, including my own, check my calendar to see if I have a guest on my blog, write up tweets, etc).
The rest of the day is divided between household chores (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc), taking care of the dogs, and writing. But really, I write full time, from about 6:30 am until 2pm. The kids get home then, and the dogs get excited, and I like to catch up with my boys, so I take a break. IE: I can’t concentrate in noise, so I give in. lol I take another hour or so to write while I’m making dinner. After dinner, my brain is shot and my eyes are tired.
Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?
My current release (and the next two, actually) is a contemporary romance on the sweet and heartwarming side. I’m currently writing (and getting ready to submit) a contemporary series that’s a bit hotter than what I’ve written before. Not erotic, but I’ve turned up the heat quite a bit.
What’s your dream vacation destination?
It’s a toss-up between Hawaii and Paris. Paris is so romantic and the city has so much history. I’ve always wanted to go somewhere foreign, to visit someone else’s culture. But Hawaii is warm and beautiful, and I live in The Pacific Northwest. I’m tired of gray and I’m tired rain. So, somewhere sunny and semi warm would be a dream. lol.
Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?
Not while plotting. Though, I do like Pinterest. Most of the time, I just like seeing my story in pictures, because I’m a visual person, but it can also help when I need to describe something. So, in this case, I use it more for research. Like, for example, deciding what the heroine of my current work-in-progress wore to a formal function.
In what genre do you read?
Contemporary and historical. Historical is a pleasure read for me.
What resources do you use for picking character names?
Most of the time, my characters name themselves. But I like babynames.com for first and middle names. For last names, I look up a website on most common surnames. But in the last two series I’ve written, I had characters who came from specific roots. For example, the heroine of my current WIP is of Greek descent, so I had to research authentic names, in which case, Google is my best friend.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
Oh yeah. I love most animals, but I’m mostly a dog person. I’ve had them most of my life. We currently have two. Got them both from shelters when they were puppies. Misty is a Lab/Shepherd mix and Tiger is a Chihuahua/French Bulldog mix. Take a guess who runs the house. lol
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I hope they enjoy the stories. Though, honestly, I hope the stories touch them in some way. My favorite stories are the ones that touch me, that I can’t forget, and that’s what I always hope for. But really, in a perfect world, I want the reader to sit back and think, “Wow. That was a great story.”
She’s everything he wants…
For years, Kyle Morgan has hidden his true feelings from the gorgeous girl next door that he grew up loving and protecting. But when she shows up at his apartment in the middle of the night, desperately needing comfort and support, his iron will begins to waver…
…and the only thing he can’t bear to lose.
Kyle was always the big brother Cecelia Anton never had, but suddenly her goofy best friend has become a sexy man she can’t keep her thoughts—or hands—off of. As their deep connection melts into uncontrollable desire, Ceci is willing to put it all on the line for a shot at true love. Only Kyle is keeping a terrible secret about Ceci’s past that could destroy not only their lifelong friendship but their happily-ever-after…
“I need to know, Kyle.”
His answer sat on the tip of his tongue, but the voice of reason sounded in his head. Don’t say it. Whatever you do, do not say it. Just keep walking.
Her soft footsteps sounded behind him. “You can’t just do something like that and walk away and expect me not to question it. You blow hot and cold, do you know that? I know desire when I see it, yet you just keep walking away.”
“Ever think maybe I wanted to kiss you?” The words left his mouth on a hoarse whisper, and God help him, a desperate need to see her eyes seized him. He turned to find her directly behind him. She stared for a fraction of a second too long, heat and curiosity blazed in her eyes. A heartbeat later, a light blush stole into her cheeks, but she didn’t move, didn’t say a word.
Everything inside of him ground to a halt, his mind twisting off in another direction. I’ll be damned. If ever he needed a confirmation, there it was. Whatever had happened between them was definitely not one-sided.
From 5-star reviews:
“I enjoyed this book and I really enjoyed Kyle I just loved him.” — A Crazy Vermonter’s Book Reviews
JM writes passionate, heartfelt contemporary romance. She’s a wife, a mother, a spiritualist, and lover of puppies, and happily addicted to coffee and chocolate. She lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily-ever-after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her obsession.