Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with Author Stephanie Churchill

16 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author Stephanie Churchill

Available from Amazon US and Amazon UK

In this gripping sequel to The Scribe's Daughter, a young woman finds herself unwittingly caught up in a maelstrom of power, intrigue, and shifting perceptions, where the line between ally and enemy is åsubtle, and the fragile facade of reality is easily broken.

Today I would like to welcome author Stephanie Churchill:

Tell us about your latest book

My first book, The Scribe’s Daughter, introduced readers to two sisters, orphans living a hand-to-mouth existence in a dirty back alley of a large city. A mystery of the sisters’ family is introduced, and as the story continues, we follow the tale of the younger sister, Kassia, as she uncovers those mysteries, experiencing a wealth adventure, trauma, and hardship along the way.

My latest book, The King’s Daughter, tells the story of the older sister, Irisa. Just like her younger sister, she gets caught up in the mysteries surrounding her family’s history, but along the way she uncovers more than she bargained for. Set against the backdrop of a vast landscape, from dirty back alleys, to mountain vistas, to glittering palaces, The King’s Daughter tells a tale woven through with political intrigue, honor, family, love, and betrayal.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My preferred writing routine and my actual writing routine are quite different things! If I could arrange my life any old way I pleased, somehow having managed to tell the world to stay outside my shark-infested moat and not bother my seclusion, I would work on marketing and promotion for a bit each morning, then take care of life’s business until lunch, and finally have the freedom to spend my afternoons pondering and writing before picking up my two children from school.

I know so many other authors who, having plenty of other things to do in a day, end up writing into the wee hours at night. However, I am NOT a night owl. When my day is done, my day is done. I can’t even think, much less be creative in the evenings, so all my writing work must get done with the sun still in the sky. I do work from home, so I am generally able to get in a couple of writing hours during the afternoons, three or four days a week, though sometimes more if I am lucky.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Get into it because you love it, because you have stories bursting from your brain, not because you want to get rich and become a best-seller. While those are fine goals, the reality often proves to be different. Once you start off with the proper motivation, just keep at it. Keep doing it, day after day, week after week, taking a long-range view of the career. You likely won’t be a success overnight, if at all. I see my writing career as a marathon, not a sprint. Play nice and make friends with other authors, ask for help, and give help in return. If you are persistent, you can make something of it... assuming you write good books, of course!

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I wish I had a good answer to this. For now I rely on social media and word of mouth, though I have done some paid advertising which doesn’t seem to have helped much. My long-term hope is that a longer back list will bring new readers as they work through all my books. Most importantly though, I support other authors and cross-promote. At the end of the day, even if I don’t sell as many books as I’d like, I hope I can help others along their path. We’re all in this together!

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Since I write a hybrid of fantasy rather than something as exacting as traditional historical fiction, research is something that informs rather than defines my writing. I often tell people that my books are “fantasy that reads like historical fiction” because there are no fantastical elements in my books. Instead, the settings and cultures in my books echo real historical places and times without actually being historical or containing any history. Any research I do serves to give the books a certain feel, but it’s up to me whether or not I use what I come across.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

As many authors know, more often than not one’s characters, or even the story itself, hijacks all good intentions by taking on a life of its own. The characters whisper their thoughts and desires into our ears, and then we can’t do much more than hang on for dear life and try to be the best scribe possible. When I was working on the first draft of my first book, The Scribe’s Daughter, circumstances turned dire for my main protagonist, Kassia. She found herself in a situation where, if I was going to be honest about my writing, lead to a very traumatic experience for her.

It was so horrendous that I stopped writing for a couple of weeks, knowing full-well that she had to go through it, but not knowing how I was going to pull it off sensitively while remaining authentic and transparent. I ended up confiding in a few people, one a highly seasoned author, and another who had personal experience similar to Kassia’s. After a lot of wrestling and struggle, I committed to the scene, and in the end, it turned out to be the most significant piece of character development I could have come up with, as it provided motivation and purpose for the rest of the book.

What are you planning to write next?

I set up the end of The King’s Daughter to write a prequel, telling the story of Irisa and Kassia’s parents. Once I set to work on a draft outline for my ideas, I kept getting tapped on the shoulder by characters from the previous book. They made a compelling case to continue their story. So for the time being I have set aside the prequel and have begun work on a third book about the sisters, continuing the story from the end of book two, The King’s Daughter. It will inter-mingle the various threads of character and plot from the first two books, bringing them together into one tale told together.

Stephanie Churchill 
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About the Author

Stephanie Churchill grew up in the American Midwest, and after school moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a paralegal, moving to the Minneapolis metro area when she married. She says, 'One day while on my lunch break from work, I visited a nearby bookstore and happened upon a book by author Sharon Kay Penman. I’d never heard of her before, but the book looked interesting, so I bought it. Immediately I become a rabid fan of her work. I discovered that Ms. Penman had fan club and that she happened to interact there frequently. As a result of a casual comment she made about how writers generally don’t get detailed feedback from readers, I wrote her an embarrassingly long review of her latest book, Lionheart. As a result of that review, she asked me what would become the most life-changing question: “Have you ever thought about writing?” And The Scribe’s Daughter was born. Find out more at Stephanie's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @WriterChurchill.

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