Monday, May 7, 2012

The Scribe, Staci Stallings

             For the next few days, my guest will be Staci Stallings. Staci is a very diverse writer as you'll see from my interview with her below. But first, if you don't know a lot about Staci, here's her brief bio:

     So what's Staci's latest book all about? So glad you asked!

   Just out of college and completely alone 
      in the world, Maggie Montgomery has one shot left to save her life from an abyss of poverty and hopelessness. Clinging to the last shred of fuel and hope, she arrives at the mansion of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayers. Although Maggie is clearly not what Mr. Ayers and his wife have in mind for a nanny, they agree to hire her temporarily until they can find someone more appropriate to fill the position. However, Maggie's whole world is about to be up-ended by two way-over-scheduled children and one incredibly handsome hired hand. As she struggles to fit into a world she was never made to fit in, Maggie wonders if she can ever learn to become a perfect version of herself so she can keep the job, or is she doomed to always be searching for a life she can never quite grasp?

      Keith Ayers despises his life. As the son of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayers and the fiance to a Senator from Texas' daughter, it looks great on the outside, but inside, he is dying. He would vastly prefer to manage and train his father's racehorses. However, everyone else thinks that is beneath him. He needs to get into industry and build on his father's success. Suffocating under the constrictions of his life, he meets Maggie who begins to teach him that wealth and power is not everything in this life. But can Keith defy the most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart?

"This is more than a romance.  The author cuts straight to the heart of God–love.  God is love. Even through unexpected tragedies.  And we can overcome evil with good–by His love."
--Betty Anne Bantz



      Staci, what genre do you write in? (Historical, contemporary, romance, etc.)
I write Contemporary Christian Romance as well as Bible Studies and collections of short non-fiction stories.

 What motivates you?
I love to write.  I love words. I love stories, and I have come to be incredibly fascinated with how God puts them altogether. To me, writing is like breathing and breathing is living.  When I write, God speaks to me in ways that I can't always hear Him otherwise through the static of life.

  How does your faith affect your daily life?
I've been through some gut-wrenching tragedies in the last five years--my church burning down, my brother committing suicide followed by my brother-in-law doing the same two years later.  Without God, I wouldn't have made it.  He is my best friend, and there is nothing in the world that means more to me than that relationship.  It animates me, it gives me strength and so much peace.  As my 9-year-old son says, "Seriously Mom, what do people do that don't believe in God?"  I don't know. I really don't..       

How much spirituality do you weave into your story?
I often say that if you took God out of most of my books, there would be no book left.  In fact, I've gotten one-star reviews that said the characters required "CONSTANT input from God."  To me, that' s a compliment. 

 What message do you hope to convey to readers, either in this latest book or in all your books?
In "Deep in the Heart," I think the message is:  We all have hurts and scars--even if we've gotten very good at covering them up.  We've all had painful things happen in our past, but it is not our past that defines us.  It's our present and how we choose to use that present to shape our future that ultimately decides our destiny. 

Do you believe there is evil in the world and, if you do, how do you portray it in your novels (or do you portray evil in your novels?
There is absolutely evil in the world, and it comes in many forms.  Some evil will attack physically--for example, in abusive relationships.  The evil in those relationships tears everyone in them down.  Its goal is to confuse, harm, and destroy.  Other evil attacks more subtly in the form of mental manipulation and emotional blackmail.  In "Deep in the Heart," Keith is being controlled by those in his life.  Others in the story use the shame of his past, the fear of his present, and this dangling of "if you just do this thing I want you to do, then you'll be good enough and I'll love you" to convince him to make disastrous decisions for himself that he KNOWS are wrong.  That's the kind of evil that is present in most of my books--the kind that may actually look really good on the outside, like it "just wants what's best" for the character, but when you get underneath it, you see it for the insidiousness that it is.

 Is or was there a person in your life who made a remarkable difference in your writing? Who (if you want to disclose his or her identity) and why?
Several of them actually.  One was my second grade teacher who recognized and pointed out my gift for writing.  Then I had two teachers--one in 7th grade and one in 9th--who were fabulous at grammar.  They gave me a solid foundation to build upon.  Finally from 10th-12th grade I had a phenomenal teacher who worked with me not so much in English but in journalism for contests. I would write a story, she would bleed on it... but then she did one thing that made all the difference... she sat down with me on every, single story, and we walked through WHY she made each change.  In doing so, I learned not just the basics of grammar but how to write and craft a story that stood out from all the others.  It paid off too.  I won the Texas U.I.L. Featurewriting contest my senior year, and since then, I've gone on to have five books on the Amazon Best Sellers' lists.  So they must have done something right!

 What’s next for you as an author? Any books in the hopper?
I have a new book coming out at the end of May that I'm really excited about.  It's called, "To Protect & Serve."  It's the story of a group of firemen and the women who love them.  I'm really excited to see what everyone thinks of this one as it has been near and dear to my heart for a long time now. I'm so excited to get to share it with the world!

Thanks so much for having me, Andrea!  It's been wonderful!

      Keep in touch with Staci:
      Spirit Light Books--The Blog
      Romance Novels:

      Follow Staci on Twitter @StaciStallings

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