The Write Way Café welcomes author D.C. Stone, who shares the discovery of her writing process and how her day job contributes to her writing projects.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
You know, I often feel awkward when I answer this question, because truth be told, I never was a big reader, nor did I ever think I wanted to become an author. My love for romance was something I discovered in my early twenties, and it wasn’t until six years ago that I really took a different look toward writing my own book.
I’ve been known to read at least two-three books a week, sometimes more if they are shorter. My most peaceful time, the moments I want to relax, are often behind a good romance novel. It got to the point where Mr. Stone was coming to me, baffled at the amount I’d be spending on books. And let’s not get started on how the librarians would make sure to get out of my way when I’d visit them.
The thought of writing my own book just evolved over time. I had characters in my head for days, books that I couldn’t let go of, and I thought, “I want to be able to give this to a reader, this feeling that they don’t want to put my book down or say goodbye to my characters.” The next day I picked up my laptop and the rest, as they say, is history.
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
Both books I’ve recently released, WHAT COULD HAVE and INTIMATE DANGER, are very near and dear to my heart and yet, they are very different stories. For the first few years of writing I struggled to find my voice, and subcategory of romance. It wasn’t until I sat back and really thought about what I’ve done with my life (I’m an internal affairs investigator for my 9 to 5, and have served in the military as a criminal investigator) that it really clicked and my subcategory was discovered. I write military romance and romantic suspense because those are the world’s I know. They are what I’ve been through, and what I’m in constant contact with.
The research behind INTIMATE DANGER involved me asking a lot of questions with different federal agents I work with, on top of doing hours and hours of reading on a case I had discovered. I wanted to find a way to translate a form of that investigation and crime into a romantic suspense book. At first, the book edged more toward a thriller aspect, but eventually, with tweaks from my former agent and editor, it became a beautiful and highly intense story.
WHAT COULD HAVE is based a bit on my personal background, at least that’s how I built my heroine in it. I’ve had close friends and other writers who know me often tell me of the resemblance as well. It’s a heady thing to know I got that right.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
I chose Nyack, New York as I used to work in that village a few years ago and fell in love. I tried to keep my setting in INTIMATE DANGER as close to Nyack as I possibly could, with just a few creative liberties. Anyone who picks up the book will notice a lot of the village’s same features and roads, though, and that was important to me so I could also have my readers fall in love with the same place. Mind you, this really is a village where police officers take time out of their days to help little old ladies cross the street. It’s lovely.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
My characters are a little of both. Each do have their own individual quirks that I relate to either myself or people close to me, but I do that because I love who those individuals are in my life and want to show others the same. (Bear with me here as I give a few examples and yes, I’m laughing as I explain).
For instance, Trent Rossi in INTIMATE DANGER is based not entirely, but partly on my husband. When I first met Mr. Stone, I thought he was entirely too cocky, and I told him as much. He then responded with, “Honey, there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness, but I know where I stand there.” It’s true, and now, ten years later I see it, too. Trent gives off this type of confidence in his book and is often described the same way.
Also in INTIMATE DANGER, there is a secondary character, Dwayne, who has his own story in INTIMATE FEAR, book two of the Empire Blue series. He’s based in part on my lovely sister-in-law. There’s a line in INTIMATE DANGER that I’ve heard her use before. And I tell you what, if you can identify it and email me, then I’ll give you a copy of INTIMATE FEAR for free.
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
I don’t think there’s any writer that doesn’t come into some sort of block in the process of writing their book. It always comes up, sort of like a little monster under the bed. I did face a few blocks with both books. With WHAT COULD HAVE I knew I had a book that I couldn’t categorize with Romance specifically. It had romantic elements, but it wasn’t a full out romance. That was a cause of concern for me because my readers have come to expect specifics from me and this was going out of my and their comfort zones. I tried to change the book, but in the end, I changed it all back because it became something I didn’t want it to be.
I found it prudent to remain true to myself and with what my characters had wanted, rather than forcing them in another direction. The story didn’t seem so pushy after that and their interactions flowed very nicely.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
You know, I have to say I will gobble up anything written by Julie Ann Walker and Joan Swan. These two authors give me so much inspiration to really get going and get my own work out there. I finish with one of their books and I feel as if I could move the world. Then, after I’m done moving the world, I pick their books back up and read them all over again. Julie Ann and Joan give me the same feeling I’ve always strived to give my readers: I don’t want to put their books down, and I want to read them again as soon as I’m done. They are two very talented and remarkable women.
What are you working on now?
I’m actually working on two separate pieces right now. One is the third book in my romantic suspense series, Empire Blue. This story is giving me an emotional tug of war with everything my characters are going through. And to top it off, I have a secondary character who is also doing his own form of struggling, in the K-9 pawed variety. It deals a lot with post-traumatic stress syndrome and it’s not only the human individuals that go through it. What I’m hoping to accomplish is a way of healing with all parties involved, that will also bring them together as a cohesive unit. It’s requiring a lot of research and questions to K-9 handlers I know, people I’ve served with, and veterinarians in the area. To say this is an icebreaker and a shock to them would be an understatement.
Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
I actually would love to try my hand at thrillers, but I don’t know if I’d be a good fit, because for me I love that romantic element in there. I have found that there is a fine line between thriller and romantic suspense, and if you edge too far one way, you lose everything you have for the other. There is no absolute scale that will allow you to keep one or the other and still be able to market it to both sides with readers. To step outside of the box that is romance would be a challenge I’d love to try—that is, after I have a few more years of writing under my belt. With my background, though, I do think it could be plausible.
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
Exactly what I’m doing now for my daytime job. I love investigations and solving the puzzle of “who done it?” Working through each of the steps within an investigation takes patience, an analyzing mind, and the ability to think outside of the box in order to try and see what the true motivation is for the crime that’s been committed. I’ve been in the world of Criminal Justice for fifteen years, and I hope to continue on that path for another fifteen. When I need a break from the harsh reality of those crimes and the people whose lives are being affect as a result, sitting down and writing a good romance is my way of escape. I get to give a happy ending when in my day job there typically aren’t any.
Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
My favorite hero/heroine are always the ones I’m currently working on, and at this moment, Chris and Jorja are no exception. Meet this guy who is a K-9 handler, who has secrets and worries that astound many, and then watch as this strong woman, who has fears of her own, come in to help Chris and his dog, DA, heal. It’s beautiful to see and humbling to write.
About D.C. Stone:
D.C. Stone is a romance author and full-time fraud investigator. She lives in the north-east with her incredibly supporting husband and two kids. She’ll deny any association with the grumpy cat that also resides in the house, but he is there, never-the-less.
After serving eight years of service with the United States Air Force, she went on to transition into the world of financial crimes and became a lead investigator for many years.
Reading has always been a passion of hers, getting lost in a good, steamy romance is one of her favorite past times. She soon after discovered her own love for writing and recreating stories and characters in her head.
Her writing concentrates on romantic with specifics in paranormal, suspense and erotica.
Now, when she isn’t trying to solve a new puzzle in the world of fraud, she is engulfed with coffee, her laptop, and all those crazy characters in her head. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, RomVets, RWA Kiss of Death, and the Liberty State Fiction Writers. She currently serves as the Vice President and 2014 Conference Chair for NJRW.
Come stop by on Facebook, Twitter, or her website and say hello!