Thursday, June 11, 2020

Garden Interview with Stephanie Kepke

Hello Stephanie

Tell us about you and your books

Do you plot or let the story unfold as you write?

I do let the story unfold as I write—I’m definitely not a “pantser.” I find plot development for me is a very organic process. I let the characters kind of decide where they will go and sometimes it surprises me. For instance, my Candy Hearts Series book, You & Me, was supposed to be a light, bubbly romance, but the main character, Alex’s, back story was a lot darker, and she was a lot more damaged than I first realized. That story just came out naturally as I was writing it. And I think the darker parts nicely balanced the sweetness.

Have you ever cried while writing a book?

Yes, I have. My next novel is very dark and tackles difficult themes. I had to really get into my character’s head and live her pain. It was difficult, but I think it results in a more powerful work.

When did you decide to become an author?

I decided to become an author when I was in second grade. I was eight years old when I wrote my first “book” about a mouse and an elephant who were friends. My teacher loved it and told my mother I should be a writer. I haven’t wavered in my path since. Thank you, Mrs. Hewsenian!

How do you deal with writer's block?

I love listening to music to help me break through writer’s block. I create a Pinterest soundtrack for each book I write early in the process. When I get stuck, I’ll listen to the soundtrack, and it often jump starts my creativity. There’s a lot of Ryan Star on my soundtracks. His music is incredibly inspiring—each song is like a little story. His lyrics open up A New Life and two of my other books. I’ve got some Matt Nathanson on each of my soundtrack boards—he also gets me in a writing mood. In addition to those two, my You & Me soundtrack has songs from really diverse artists—from Better Than Ezra to Mikey Wax to Pictures of You. Some of my other boards also feature artists as diverse as U2, Stone Sour, Seven Mary Three and Charlie Puth.

Are your books or characters based anyone you know, or events in your own life?

Since You & Me is part of the Candy Hearts series, the idea was sparked by the fact that my high school boyfriend sent me Candy Hearts every year from high school through college and beyond, even after we broke up. As soon as I saw the concept for the series, I knew I had to write a story about a woman whose first love sent her Candy Hearts—with a big plot twist. Since I’m still friends with my high school sweetheart, I asked him if he minded if his Candy Hearts habit was woven into a story—and, more importantly, if his wife would mind.

and for something personal...
Who do you see as a hero/heroine in your life?

All of the front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19 right now. I know healthcare workers who are risking their lives—doctors, nurses, a radiology technician, a hospital administrator—they’re all scared, but still showing up. I also admire every person going to work every day at supermarkets and other essential places.

Do you have a favorite quote?

I do have a favorite quote, and it’s been my favorite since I was a very young girl. It’s from the movie Ice Castles (1978): “Not trying is pointless and cruel. Not trying is wondering your whole life if you gave up too soon.” I had it taped to my bedroom wall, written on a piece of sky blue notepaper (which I still have). I think that quote has served me well as a writer, because it’s really easy to give up when you get rejections, but if you keep at it—and understand that’s just one person’s opinion—you’ll succeed.

Do you enjoy giving interviews?

I love giving interviews! I was a journalist for a long time and my favorite thing was getting a subject to open up. The first time I was interviewed about my writing by a local newspaper was seven years ago, and it was a bit surreal, but so amazing. Seeing my interview on the front page was a thrill.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Be nice to me, or you may end up as an unsavory character in one of my books!

Who's more fun, bad boys or perfect gentlemen? Or Bad Girl or a lady?

A combination of a bad boy and a perfect gentleman is the most fun! And if you think those couldn’t possibly exist, I married one. When I met him he was a drummer in a band (and still is now, though a different band), wore faded Levi’s, engineer boots, a well-broken in black leather biker jacket, and one earring. A crystal on a leather cord hung around his (very enticing) neck—this was 1993, after all. My friends all warned me he was a womanizer….but he held doors open for me, pulled out my chair, and only gave me one chaste kiss after our first date. He also waited until he knew we would be serious, which was over a year, to sleep with me, which was very gentlemanly indeed—and left me a bit impatient! I guess meeting the right woman can turn a bad boy into a gentleman (in fact, that’s the very subject of my next novella!).
As for a bad girl or a lady, bad girls are more fun… As the famous quote says, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” (Eleanor Roosevelt) But only a bad girl who is kind is more fun—a mean bad girl is no fun at all...

Where can we find you online?

Download You & Me on Amazon and other online retailers.

Stephanie Kepke
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GiniRifkin said...

Hi Stephanie: so nice learning more about you and your writing. Good quote! Checking out Ryan Star:).

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

So good to meet you. I enjoyed your interview.
Loved your quote.