Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

an unexpected direction… - Asking for Trouble (Tremayne Family #1) by Anna J. Stewart

From Goodreads: "Great book, wonderful story, characters that leap off the page begging you to root for them, and wrestling for for time on a page. Wow. If this is the first book to the trilogy, look out Lantano Valley, you'll never be the same again."


The Tremaynes are one of the most prosperous families in Lantano Valley, California. But money can’t buy everything—especially when it comes to love…

Morgan Tramayne has a heart of gold, but to keep her children’s charity afloat she’s had to resort to some less than legal means: donations from a notorious cat burglar who targets the wealthy. It’s only a matter of time before Morgan’s criminal connection blows up in her face—especially since her undeniable attraction to the man heading the investigation keeps putting her in tricky situations.

Former police detective-turned-investigator Gage Juliano has two goals: salvaging his career and nabbing Lantano Valley’s present-day Robin Hood. But when he meets a beautiful, curvaceous woman who’s more interested in helping others than amassing a fortune like the rest of the town’s residents, Gage finds his desires pulled in an unexpected direction…

Thank you, Mrs.Anna J. Stewart
Novella vs Novel: Which is your favorite one and how different are they to write?
If you had asked me this before 2013, I would have said novel writing was my preferred length. Since venturing into writing novellas, however, (my first was a Harlequin Heartwarming, THE CHRISTMAS WISH, 11/14), I've found something empowering in writing them. Aside from being shorter and faster, in a way, they really challenge me as a writer. The conflict has to be there from the instant the story begins. The pacing has to be tighter and the story streamlined without putting so much detail in that you can't wrap it up in under 100 pages or so.

That said, there's nothing like really getting into the bones of a character and novels allow me to do that. There's more leeway for introspection on the part of the hero and heroine and I can cast a wider net with secondary characters and setting and even subplots. Novellas jump start me. Novels sustain.

What is the biggest minus of our days' romantic literature? Why?
Oh, there are two big misconceptions about romance in my opinion. One, that writing romance is easy; that writing a romance is as simple as following a formula and everyone can do it. That's bull. Not everyone can do it, but beyond that, writing romance is complicated and tough and frustrating, because we're dealing with the one thing all readers experience--emotions. We have to get it right because readers expect us to. 

Secondly, and I could be opening a can of worms here, but I honestly think there's still the misconception that romance novels are all about the sex. They're not. Sex is a part of life, but it's not the only part of life just as for most sub-genres of romance, sex enhances the story (when it's incorporated). It's not the story.

I write both sweet (meaning very little to no sex/intimacy at all) to spicier stories. For me, both as a reader and a writer, romance novels are about two people overcoming obstacles, coming around to the other person's point of view, and character growth. Sex makes things more complicated, more interesting, more stressful and even more romantic, There's more at stake when two people have become that intimate with one another. But to generalize romance as being all about sex? There's little that irritates me more.

What does it take and how hard is it to write a good romance story?
It takes determination and being willing to continue to learn your craft. I'm always on the lookout for a new class or new information that will make my writing better. If I don't grow as a writer, my stories won't get better and my writing will become stale and predicable. Two things that can kill a readership. Without a good story, I don't have anything to sell.

What makes a good romance? It's all about the conflict. And I'm not talking about a situation that can be resolved with a conversation. Conflict is a clash of belief systems. Conflict stands in the way of what someone wants. It's what is keeping the hero and heroine apart despite their desire to be together. Without conflict, the story's over at the end of chapter one or after the first discussion. You have to make your characters earn their happily ever after (even when all you want as the author is for them to be happy).

Growing up in a world without age categories for books, what do you think about YA, NA, A etc age classing?
I grew up in the 70's and 80's during a time when there weren't many YA books beyond Sweet Valley High so I dropped pretty early into mainstream fiction. I started reading Stephen King when I was 8 and never once did my mother say no to a book or say I couldn't read something because I wasn't the right age (a gift I will never be able to repay). I began reading romances soon after starting high school and never looked back. Discovering romance was my door to the future--it's what told me what I was meant to do. I'm not a parent, so my opinion is just that, my opinion. The age classing can be a good guideline but I don't think it should define whether someone outside those age ranges should be reading those stories. Readers are readers. Simple as that.

What do you believe and what your characters believe about finding true love?
I'm a romantic at heart (I think most romance writers and readers are), but I'm also a realist. I believe in the concept and the possibility. A number of my friends are married to (or with) the loves of their lives and it reaffirms my faith in real life happily ever after. I know it can work--I also see that it is a lot of work. I think that belief seeps into my characters. I don't know that I could write a character who had a head in the clouds idea of true love; that seems ripe for disappointment and a reality check. But I know it exists. I've seen it.

How realistic should a romance/mystery/detective story be? What are the traps of this genre?
I started out writing paranormal, and that is definitely not grounded in reality (but it's so much fun!). I think the romance/mystery/detective stories need to be pretty authentic while keeping their audience in mind. Some people love a good mystery without the tension of biting their nails while others can't get enough. I don't know that there's a right answer to this question. A writer should know the story they want to tell while keeping in mind the tone they set for their readers will carry on through subsequent books. You know if you pick up a Stephen King novel, you're going to get something scared out of you at some point. Pick up a cozy mystery? You're in it for the intrigue, not the blood. 

I think the trap authors fall into within any genre is letting someone else dictate where they think the story needs to go rather than being true to their own voice. I'm not talking editors or agents (for the most part). I knew, for instance, with ASKING FOR TROUBLE, that the suspense/mystery element had to be secondary to the family atmosphere. That's not to say I wouldn't write a story with blood and violence (and I will at some point), but I knew that didn't have a place in this series of books. As long as authors are true to themselves, they'll avoid the trap.

About the author:
You’ve met Anna J. Stewart (or someone like her) before. She was the girl who spun in circles on the playground hoping her Wonder Woman costume would magically appear before playing cops and robbers a la Charlie’s Angels–as Sabrina (she was the smart one). Anna was the girl in the back of the class with a paperback romance hidden in her algebra book (and yes, she failed algebra).

Growing up in the 70′s and 80′s meant there weren’t a lot of YA books, so she ventured early into mainstream fiction and read Stephen King’s CARRIE at the age of 8. Discovering Nora Roberts and romance novels early in high school opened her eyes to the wonders of storytelling and the beauty of a happily ever after.

So here she is, many years later with an English degree from CSU Sacramento, an RWA Golden Heart nomination behind her, countless stories in her head, and a serious addiction to STAR TREK, SUPERNATURAL, and SHERLOCK. She recently wrapped up a nearly 8-year stint working as assistant to NYTimes bestselling author Brenda Novak where she helped run Brenda's annual online auction for diabetes research. When she's not writing or reading (which she never has enough time for!), she's working on dollhouse miniatures and tolerating her overly-affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her).

Author's Giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway


smiles said...

I wonder how Morgan Tramayne met the cat burglar...Or how he knew she needed help. Interesting :)

Linda Romer said...

Asking for Trouble sounds great, i would like to read this book. Thank you

Anonymous said...

The cover is beautiful and the story sounds great. Adding ths to my to be read list !

Anna J Stewart said...

Hi everyone! Thank yo so much for the post! *waving to commenters*.

Hope you all enjoy ASKING FOR TROUBLE. Appreciate you stopping by. :)

Anna J Stewart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juana said...

I want to read this book. Story sounds like an A+ read.

Juana Esparza

Bella Martinez said...

Morgan is the kind of character you hope to meet in books. Plucky and strong, but with an inner core of sensitivity. Can't wait to read.

Natalie said...

Thanks for the interview! I noticed you started reading Stephen King books and I read his books as well.

katieoscarlet said...

Sounds like a good read and right up my alley as far as my type of genre.

Unknown said...

WOW, sounds like grand read. Divine. . OMG. Wow, prize Amazon gc is fab. & splendid. 2 fingers snap. It is tight, fly & off the chain. Thank you for the awesomeness, the contest, and generosity. Pick me, pick me! Dear Santa: I’ve been nice. My X-Mas wish this year is to win this contest. Starving artist here desperately needs the Amazon gc to shop and eat again.
Pick me, pick me! Your next winner!!! S

Berkeley Hapa said...

What a wonderful interview with all the details of the different writing processes for different genres. I agree that good romance is not formulaic and I only read ones that are well-written!

nurmawati djuhawan said...

thx u for hosting :)

debbie said...

I remember the sweet valley high books and how much I didnt like them. I love a good book that has romance and a realistic story. I know it's a personal taste thing but reading what you had to say about sex romance and conflict makes me more aware of what and why I look for a good romance story with strong interesting characters so I will be reading your book with great interest

Unknown said...

I am glad to read that Anna is a Star Trek junkie. I have watched every episode of every series and all of the movies at least 1 or 2 times. Glad to see another Star Trek fan.

Julie Waldron said...

This sounds like a good book & something I'd like to read. Thank you!

johnthuku0 said...

Beautiful cover and very nice interview. Thank you for hosting it.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great book!

Morgana DeLarge said...

I'd like to read it!

Betul E. said...

Love the interview!