Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.
At the moment I have a worldwide Blog Tour underway for TouchStone for play with an exclusive bonus chapter. I have been asked time and time again by readers for the story from Ayden Stone’s point of view. Well, this is it. An insight into what makes this sexy-as-hell, media magnate tick and what it is that draws him to the beguiling Miss Parker. For those readers who have already read TouchStone for play, I’m gifting the bonus chapter via my monthly Newsletter, ‘Romancing The Stone.’ They can sign up for it HERE.
Who or what inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere: other contemporary novels, the classics, poetry, music …
I’ve had The Story of Us in my head for a couple of decades but it took the arrival of FSOG and the possibility of introducing my characters to a new community of readers. More importantly, it was Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard that brought about the resurrection of Beth and Ayden’s love affair. I felt the time was right to fuse epic romance with suspense and sensuality. The result has been a 21st century fairy-tale for grown-ups, encompassing many of the allusions associated with this magical genre.
Has a dream every inspired any of your stories?
Absolutely! Some of my best chapters have been the result of semi-conscious dreaming first thing in the morning. It starts with a scene then I hear dialogue. These moments of inspiration are very precious to me. It is as if I am tapping into the characters psyche, channeling, letting them speak through me. These are the times when I reach for a pad and a pen and scribble down my notes before their voices fade. Ha! They have been quiet for a while but something tells me they still have secrets to share …
What advice do you have for writer’s just starting out?
Firstly, the best advice I can give to writers just starting out is to take your time; produce the best book you can in terms of structure and the actual quality of writing. Because of good promoting, the demand was such for my first book TouchStone for play I released it too soon. It was not the polished article it is today! It’s a mistake made by many novice writers who self-publish and one that can be easily averted with good editing and proof-reading.
Secondly, I would say get your ARC’s out there to bloggers for reviews. They are experienced readers and will give you feedback. Also good review can help you to promote the book and draw attention to it in an already overcrowded marketplace.
Do you outline your stories or just go with the flow?
Anyone who has read my books will tell you that my plots are intricately woven and the smallest of details has significance or can be symbolic; a photograph, a possession (ribbon, marbles, a ring) even a throwaway comment can foreshadow an approaching event. Readers have enjoyed re-reading the trilogy, seeking out those light-bulb moments they may have missed on first reading. Readers have an opportunity to chat about their reading experience in the TouchStone Family Circle on Facebook.
Funnily enough, I don’t write down an actual plot. I hold it in my head and string it together like a picket fence; I then go back and insert the connecting laths until it stands erect with a sound foundation and appealing appearance, stretching out from the prologue and as far as the reader envision but hopefully not predict.
What does your writing space look like?
I lay claim to a study in my home. At the moment I have bits and pieces of paper and notes strewn around. I work mostly from here and use my pc where all things TouchStone are stored. Occasionally I will use my laptop but I prefer to be left to my own devices in my study. Quite often you will see a collection of glasses. I usually wait until have a a set of four or more before I take them downstairs. LOL If you remember the film Signs, that will give you an idea of what my writing space looks like!
What are your three favorite books including the authors?
Now that is a hard choice to make. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice has to be up there. What an awesome writer she is; wonderful characterization and one hell of a storyteller wrapped up in a historical paranormal novel. The idea of the vampires and their aristocratic ways and limitless power is something I have consciously drawn upon in TouchStone for play – Ayden doesn’t have a penchant for human blood but he is ruthless and powerful. Thankfully, like Louis he is sensitive underneath that impenetrable exterior and it takes the gentleness Beth Parker, the love of his life, to break through it.
I consider Sylvain Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not only does it delve into the darker side of human nature but it depicts an unforgotten love that defies time. Two lost souls find each other and experience the kind of devotion we dream about. If the romanticism wasn’t enough, the allusions to Dante and Beatrice are simply exquisite, helping to turn the trilogy into a masterpiece. I loved the literary references and have made use of many of the classic in my books: Austen, Brontë, Machiavelli, Coleridge and Shakespeare to enhance the emotional content of a scene.
Choosing a third is difficult so I’m saying the most recent book I have read: Gone Girl. I admire Gilliam Flynn’s writing style and her character development is such that you feel you know then personally. It was cleverly constructed and I enjoyed the trick she played with the reader by using a parallel narrative.
You asked for three but I must mention Tiffany Reisz. I have always admired her writing style and become very fond of her characters. Even though BDSM is not what I’m about as a writer, I can appreciate how she creates a world where it is the norm; she draws you in and plays around with your emotions so skillfully. I love Nora.
What book are you currently reading?
I’m reading Beyond the Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block. She is a talented writer who produces vivid descriptions and lush prose that I can wrap my imagination around. It’s a compelling read and I am only three chapters in but I like the thirty six year old narrator, Catt. The book has been described as a sensual novel, characterized by isolation and darkness so I am looking forward to finishing it.
Is being an author your dream job? If so, how long have you been chasing the dream? If not, what would be your dream job?
Hell yeah! I would love to sit about for days in my bathrobe so that I might decanting the ideas in my head into one chapter after another. As I teach English to teenagers full-time, my time is very precious and I have to work smart, eat quickly and sleep less or nothing gets done. To be able to get up and plan my day around writing would be wonderfully liberating. It is my hope that one day I will be in a position to do just that. I am crossing my fingers and toes …
Is there a message in your book(s) that you want readers to grasp?
As The Story of Us is a modern fairy-tale, inevitably there are messages a plenty. Initially, in TouchStone for play I saw the book as being about true love and how so many of us assume it will arrive on our doorstep or is just around the next corner. Unfortunately, with the busy lives most of us lead we seldom know what is around the corner or stop to see what has arrived on our doorstep – unless we have ordered it. Love is something than, in real life, has to be sought out by most people. It can’t be taken for granted. In Beth’s case, while she patiently waits to be found, unbeknown to her the love of her life has been looking for her for most of his life. When he appears unexpectedly, there is an instant explosion, as their worlds collide; they are bewildered by it and only when they are ready to accept their fate, can they experience unconditional love: a love written in the stars!
When I was least expecting it, my wish found its way to a fateful star. Someone extraordinary succumbed to the gravitational pull: a mere mortal. That little piece of heaven was Ayden Stone.
In that one, defining moment my life changed forever.
As that love blossoms in TouchStone for giving so trust develops, secrets are shared and souls purged of guilt, allowing Ayden and Beth to give themselves to each other without fear or embarrassment. The conclusion to the fairy-tale is a culmination of all that has been magical in their fateful relationship. In TouchStone for ever, the readers is asked to consider:
What would you give to save the one you love?
Beth answers unequivocally: Everything!
The message to be considered in this epic trilogy relates to the nature of true love and reminds us that to be irrevocably in love means to put the one you love before yourself; to sacrifice yourself for them – to give EVERYTHING!
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
Dan Rizler was a very dank and dangerous character to write. He is the archetypal movie madman that we all love to hate. Some have compared him to Hannibal Lecter – minus the kidney beans, of course. Ha! He appears to be no more than a solitary odd job man working at Cambridge university but he leads a sinister double life; one fueled by his obsessive craving for Beth Parker. He lingers in the shadows, watching and waiting for his time to get his hands on her. Relaying his sociopathic thoughts was a challenge but one I enjoyed enormously. His inclusion took the story out of the realm of the predictable dominant man meets shy woman set-up and added a rich seam of suspense which readers have had to come through, breathless with anticipation and fearful of Beth’s safety.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I have always welcomed constructive criticism. I was a commercial journalist and a copywriter prior to coming into teaching so I am used to having to rethink ideas and make alterations and improvements – it’s all part of the learning process and having a professional approach to your work. I take criticism well from people I admire or from those who are in a position to give it. When someone gives a bad review it is usually because they either expected the book to be something else, wanted it to end differently or struggled with the concept. I have read lots of excellent books, good books and not so good books, but I have always thought that person has put their heart and soul into its creation and respected them for that, if nothing else.
Thankfully, I’ve had lots of good reviews and feel very blessed to have readers who have taken The Story of Us to their hearts. Just knowing that a reader ‘gets’ your work and wants to chat about it is a huge compliment; lengthy reviews are also a good indicator of a person’s enjoyment and a gratifying way of reshaping any authors day. From day one readers have spoken of all three books having a cinematic quality and that is a massive compliment; the fact they can visualize scenes to that extent makes me think I am doing something right!
Into 2015 I will try to continue to do more things right!! I can tell you that there are plans afoot to answer some of the questions left unanswered in TouchStone for ever. Beth and Ayden are eager to make themselves heard again. Ayden, in particular has been given a free rein with the bonus chapter and, those who know him will confirm, he is not the kind of man to keep quiet. Maybe it’s time the Stone genie was let out of the bottle …
Thank you to Blakely for this interview. I have had fun answering these question and introducing new and ‘old’ readers to the TouchStone trilogy and my creative process. X
You can find all of Sydney’s novels by clicking the covers below: