My interview today, on Monday Musings, is with multi-published author, Stephanie Cage. Djinn and Tonic, Stephanie’s new Fantasy novella, was released just last week.
Pleased to have you here, Stephanie. Tell us, who is Stephanie Cage?
I’m a British author of romance, born and educated in the south of England and now living in the beautiful county of Yorkshire. My books are published by The Wild Rose Press and Crimson Romance, and I once won a holiday to Sicily in the Woman’s Own Short Story Competition (a writing competition run by a major UK women’s magazine and sponsored – as you might guess – by a travel agency).
Congrats on the win, and how exciting for you to go to Sicily! Do you live in a city or small town, and what places do you most like to visit?
I live in a large town—not quite a city—in Yorkshire, England and my favorite places to visit nearby are the pretty seaside towns of Scarborough and Whitby (the latter is famous for its Goth festival, which is why I chose it as the setting for Djinn and Tonic). I also like travelling abroad, especially anywhere with sea and sun—I love Australia and hope at some point to set a book there.
I love to travel too, and hope someday to visit your lovely part of the world, as well as Australia. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Apart from going to the seaside, I also love theatre and dance. Nowadays I just dance socially for fun, but at university I was on the dance team, and competitive ballroom dance provided the inspiration for my first full-length book, Perfect Partners. My husband and I are also crazy about musicals and it’s rare for more than a few months to go by without us seeing a show of some kind (in fact, he blogs about musical theatre at http://www.wheresthatmusical.co.uk)
Hubby and I enjoy the occasional musicals too, but our single try at dance lessons sadly didn’t end well, lol. As writers, we’re usually also voracious readers. Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
I couldn’t possibly narrow my choice down to one favorite book or author but I do have a few ‘comfort reads’ I return to again and again, including several from my childhood, like Tamora Pierce’s Alanna (the story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy and becomes a knight of the magical realm of Tortall). Apart from those, my favorite book is usually the last really good book I read—at the time of writing, that’s my friend Angela Wren’s debut mystery novel, Messandrierre.
I’d also struggle to come up with a single favorite. What is your favorite genre to read? Is this the genre you write?
My reading tastes are very eclectic—I love everything from romance, fantasy and science fiction through to crime and thrillers by the likes of Jeffery Deaver and Lee Child. My writing is a bit more focused as I mainly write romance although I like to bring in elements of the other genres I read.
I have eclectic reading tastes too. More fun that way! How long have you been writing and how did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve written ever since I can remember, and writing is less a decision I made than a part of who I am, like being petite, brunette and somewhat argumentative!
I like you! (And not just because you could be describing me in that sentence) When did you first become published?
My first novella, Desperate Bid, was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2010, but even as a kid I wrote articles for hobby magazines (I must have always had eclectic tastes, as I can remember writing for both The Young Lacemaker and a computer club newsletter) and when I was a teenager I had two stories printed in a local newspaper. One was a twist on the Cinderella story entitled ‘After the Ball’, and I’ve picked up the fairy tale theme again recently in my story ‘Music to Her Ears’, which is a modern twist on Goldilocks published as part of the collection Modern Magic.
You must have the most wonderful imagination. Are you a plotter or pantser?
I’m more of a pantser—I’d hate to know the whole story in advance as I enjoy the process of allowing it to unfold. Having said that, I usually know a few milestones before I start writing, and I am increasingly realizing the benefit of having some idea of how I’ll get from one of them to another so that I don’t end up writing myself into a corner!
Ah, yes, I can relate. So, as a pantser, what comes first, plot or characters?
I usually start with an image or a what-if question, which leads me to the characters, and they in turn determine the rest of the plot. Djinn and Tonic started with the question, would you really want a genie to grant all your wishes? I had the idea of a fashion photographer setting up a magic-themed shoot, and inadvertently summoning a djinn, and then having to deal with the results of her wishes being granted. As I got to know Sal and thought about what kind of wishes she’d make and what consequences they might have, that drove the rest of the story.
Such a fun premise. Describe your hero and heroine in Djinn and Tonic.
Sal is a fashion photographer who generally wears black and likes to be invisible. Despite her passion for photographing all things dark and dangerous, she’s actually very conventional at heart. In her line of work, she’s met too many self-absorbed, beautiful people to be taken in by a pretty face. Ash is more than just a pretty face: he’s a stunningly handsome male model with exotic eyes and jet black hair. He’s also a paranormal being with the ability to grant wishes, and as he’s still getting to grips with human conventions, life around him gets quite interesting at times.
Is this a stand-alone story or part of a series?
At present it’s a stand-alone although I’d quite like to write another story featuring Sal’s friend Harriet—she’s a fashion designer, a bit of a romantic and a believer in fairy tales, so I can see her meeting someone more down to earth, and the sparks flying.
I hope you write it, because sometimes these friends need to tell their own story. Tell us more about Djinn and Tonic.
As fashion photographer Sally Purdew sets up her studio for a special shoot, she wishes for the perfect male model, and he appears. Sal just wants to win at the Alternative Fashion Awards, but her model, Ashtad, is a djinn with the power to grant her wishes and turn her into anything she wants to be. From the pretty English town of Whitby to a tropical beach, Ash whisks Sal away on a magical trip neither of them can forget. When Sal finds herself falling for Ash, she has to decide: do they have a future together, or will his magic always come between them?
We’d love to read an excerpt.
Sal let out a gentle whistle. Her hands twitched around the shiny new digital SLR camera she had on loan from her friend Simon, who owned the camera shop. Normally this was the only sort of equipment she’d be caught drooling over, but she had a feeling the guy who’d just walked through the door would have the same effect on her.
He had straight dark hair that swung past his shoulders, and piercing eyes that shimmered somewhere between blue and violet. His deep damson-colored lips were so sharply outlined against his pale skin that she’d have sworn the make-up artist had already got to work on him. That alone would have been enough to set an alternative fashion photographer’s fingers twitching on the shutter button, but then there was the leather. Sal had always been a sucker for Goths, and she saw a lot of them around town as well as in the course of her work, but this model was something else. Lean legs encased in smooth black gleamed under the lights, and the tight trousers gave her a good idea what else there was worth drooling over.
You don’t fall for models, she scolded herself.
The midnight eyes turned in her direction and a warm glow spread across her cheeks.
“I am Ashtad Parisa, and I never walk away from a challenge.” His voice was accented, but clear and beautiful. He strolled toward Sal and offered her his hand.
Great. A weird, gorgeous foreign guy who could read minds. That was all she needed.
Really good stuff. What can we expect from you next? Are you working on anything new?
I’m working on edits for a fun novella called Paris Proposal. It’s about a girl who goes to Paris for New Year expecting her boyfriend to propose, only to find herself dumped instead. As she drowns her sorrows in a Paris nightclub, she meets a mysterious Frenchman, and has to decide whether this time round she can trust her first impressions.
Where can we find you and your books on the internet? Please share your links with us.