OBS Staff memeber Heidi had the chance to interview Kerri Stevens author of Stone Kissed. Read her review of Stone Kissed here.
When I was in New York City a couple years ago for a week-long Oriental dance workshop, I’d walk back to my hostel each night exhausted, dehydrated and more than a little loopy. I noticed all of the gorgeous faces carved in stone over the Manhattan doorways, and wondered what they’d seen over the years. While I didn’t actually hallucinate any of them talking to me, I also didn’t have the energy to shove the idea away as mere foolishness…and so the concept of talking statues was born.
How hard was it go get this novel published and do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
It was very difficult to find a home for Stone Kissed. My concept was off the beaten path. Agents and editors loved the idea personally, but as soon as they said, ‘How unique!” their faces fell because they feared it wouldn’t sell. Fortunately, I found an agent who said to me, “I believe in your story.” And Carina Press actively seeks creative tales that take risks. I think their strategy is working. I want to read fresh ideas.
My advice: #1. Your Precious Baby Manuscript is not your soul. If others recommend you change it, listen respectfully and play with their suggestions instead of rejecting them out of hand. #2 Be persistent. Most of the published writers you know have years of work and study under their belts before the first book goes to press. #3 Do what you fear. If the idea of finishing the book has you walking away from the keyboard, sit back down. If query letters make you sweat, study them and write one. My motto is “Leap, and love will catch you.” It applies to my characters and it’s my approach to work.
Is Stewardsville based on a real place or completely made up in your head?
I’ve spent my whole life in small towns. Stewardsville is a loving amalgamation of all of them. But the more I work on the stories in the series, the more Stewardsville diverges from my personal history and becomes its own character. If you’re ever on Route 52 through Southern Virginia, however, know that you’re close to a hidden place with magic in its stones, its water and its people.
I thought the idea of the statues being animated was fascinating and loved how it brought a new bunch of fun quirky characters to the story. Who is your favorite statue and why?
How can I name just one? I love Grandmere, the weeping woman, because she is unapologetic about who and what she is. I love St. Francis because he doesn’t care what people think of him (hmmm…I’m sensing a theme here…) But Brogan is the one I still think of after the story. He’s a gruff, loyal father-figure, but as a Green Man, he literally has no legs. He’s forced to watch his “daughter,” Delia, grow up from afar. He didn’t start out as a poignant figure, but I see him that way now.
Which character in the book do you most relate to?
Although it disturbs my best friend when I say it, I relate most to Cecily, the succubus. She’s got the same basic dreams and plans most of us have, but she can’t seem to get things right even when she tries. I know what it’s like to have great intentions and then find yourself knee-deep in a pile of garbage wondering what just happened. Of course, none of my mistakes or bad choices ever involve dead bodies…
What did you enjoy most in the creation of Stone Kissed?
Next to writing the first draft (which I do rapidly and find to be a real rush), working with my editor was the biggest treat. Deborah Nemeth is both kind and insightful. Writing is lonely. Having a partner who has the same goal you do–to create a great story for your readers–is a real pleasure.
Is this going to remain a stand-alone novel or do you plan to make it into a series?
I am working on a series of novels about the people–and creatures–of Stewardsville.
I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next. What are you currently working on and when can fans expect to see it?
Kelsey, Delia’s new best friend and bridesmaid is several months’ pregnant by the end of STONE KISSED. Right now I’m working on her story and hope to have it available soon.
If you could spend time with any author (alive or dead) who would it be and why? What would you expect to gain from that experience?
Thanks to Romance Writers of America and the internet, I’ve been able to talk with and study with some of the best in the business already. I’ve found even the biggest names to be unfailingly supportive and kind. Since I have access to the live ones already, I’m going to pick someone deceased: Eleanor Estes, children’s author of almost two-dozen books, including of one of my personal favorites, The Witch Family– a book unlike any other I’ve read before or since. I’d ask her what I ask everyone: How do you make it work? How do you balance the universe in your head with your here and now? I’d hope for a greater sense of connection with her. I think a sense of connection is what we all want from our favorite authors.
What is your favorite movie and why?
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I love the camera work, the colors, the lighting, the clarity and humor of the script, the way the beautiful is made ugly and vice versea, and the way the director takes time with his scenes and shots. It’s not fast-paced, but it’s perfectly-paced. And I could watch both Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood all day.
What else do you want readers to know about Stone Kissed? About you?
A book is a marriage between my intention as a writer and your experience as a reader. In a sense, every reader creates Stone Kissed anew. I enjoy hearing from readers about what they’ve taken away from the book and I’ve learned a thing or two about the story from readers. Writers want a sense of connection from readers, too–otherwise, we wouldn’t bother to try to publish.
So connect with me! Find me on facebook, on twitter, on goodreads and let’s talk books and reading and writing and fantasy and romance and all manner of delightful things.
Thank you for inviting me to spend this time with you.