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Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet author Staci Stallings

Some of you may remember Staci Stallings for her contributions to my collection of writer's devotionals, Words To Write By. Please join me today as I interview her.

1. Please tell us about your current project. What influenced or motivated you to start it?"

Well, I have a lot of current projects because I've recently put ten going on eleven books on Kindle and Nook. Some of these have been out in print. Others were serial-blogs. So I'll pick one of those.
Like many of my stories, "Deep in the Heart" started as a dream. I don't even remember too much about the original dream. All I know is I woke up one morning with a name. It was very clear in my head, and I knew exactly what the guy looked like though honestly, I do not remember ever having seen him before. I got up, went to the Internet, typed the name in, and there he was--the exact guy I was picturing. (Weird. I know!)
So I kind of started with him. I knew it was set in Texas, and I wanted the title to reflect Texas but not be overt. I'm sure you've heard the song "Deep in the Heart of Texas," right? Well, it fit.
"Deep in the Heart" is the story of Maggie Montgomery, a young woman who life has not played fair with. She's struggling to make it to her next meal and desperate for a job, she applies and gets the nanny position at the mansion of a Texas billionaire. On her first moments there she meets the handyman who turns out to be much more than she ever expected. It's a fun story, but one that will make you think about how you treat people when really, you know so very little about them.

2. How much of your own experiences influences your characters?
It's not so much my experiences that influence stories--as in, "Oh, I did this, I'll put that in." Rather it's more that I experience life differently as I write and that goes into the story. One of the ways that happened in this story was there was a Bible verse: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. --Ephesians 2:8
I knew I wanted to use that verse somewhere in the book because it fit so well. I finally put it at the end. Just after finishing the book, a friend gave me a little journal. That verse was on the front. It was like confirmation that it was supposed to be in the book. Those kinds of things happen all the time with my writing. I will start having a verse or a theme follow me around, OR after I write it, I will get confirmation that that was supposed to be in there. It's more like my real life has a sort of existential conversation with my writing life if that makes any sense.

3. What themes exist in your stories that you hope the reader sees?
That broken isn't permanent if you will give all the pieces to God and let Him love you back into a new whole.
Broken comes in a lot of ways: Death of a loved one, addiction, past mistakes, not knowing God, disappointment, betrayal, abuse, and so many others. And there are so many broken, hurting people out there who don't know how to get out of the yuck they are in. I think my stories give them a glimmer of hope and maybe point them in a direction they had either abandoned or never knew was there.

4. What gives you the most difficulty in your writing? What comes easiest?
Marketing is hard. Not because it's hard, but because it takes so much time. Beyond that... What comes easiest is whatever I just finished. What comes hard is what I have to do next.
Seldom does God let me in on what comes next. It is literally almost always a step out into the darkness with Him saying, "Trust Me. Just trust Me." When I'm writing, I don't usually have a plan so every twist and turn has me as confused and as concerned about where this is headed as it does the reader. Many times I'm left going, "Okay, Holy Spirit, where is this going?" But I've found, whatever step He puts in front of me--whether that's writing the next scene, doing the next interview, publishing the next book, or whatever... as long as I take those steps, when I look back, I see the profound wisdom of why He had me do what when.
So, what's the hardest thing? Learning to trust God in this moment.

5. What will your next project be?
Right now, I'm working on a story about a dyslexic writer. Really. I didn't know he was dyslexic at first. I thought he was a loner, but about 50 pages into that story, life stopped me. During that writing pause, my own son was found to have dyslexia. When I went back to writing, I started noticing that with Jake (my character) although I could "see" the stories he was writing in his head, he was always very careful not to show me his computer screen. It was only after we found out my son's issues that I realized why. Jake was just like my son--incredibly creative and intelligent, but writing and particularly spelling was a huge challenge for him. It's been an interesting ride with that book ever since.

6. What do you do for fun, other than reading and writing?
I play the guitar, the piano, and the drums (although I play the drums badly!). I play with a couple of local choirs. I also volunteer for fundraisers at my kids' two schools as well as directing the VBS plays each year and teaching Sunday School. I also love to watch movies and listen to music. Oh, and my one "surprise" fun thing is playing Wii Snowboarding--don't ask... I don't understand that one either.

7. What advice would you give other authors?
Write your heart. Unless you are really only in it for the money, don't let anyone talk you out of your voice or your stories. It's really easy in this industry to be told that "right now they are only buying..." fill in the blank, historicals, contemporary, suspense, etc. But if that's not what you write, don't follow the crowd. I started writing Contemporary Christian Romance before there even WAS such a thing. About three years later that genre burst onto the scene. If I'd been trying to write to the market, I would've been writing things that were not me and then I would have completely missed the genre I really loved.
TRUST WHAT GOD IS TELLING YOU TO DO. Take the step He is asking you to take--whether that makes sense with what the world says or not. God doesn't do things the way the world does. He always does them better. Follow Him. Ask Him to guide you. Be willing to follow what He tells you. That is the best advice I can give.
Oh, and be nice to everyone. You never know where life is going or where your writing will take you. It's much better for people to remember you as the person who was nice to them when you had no idea who they were. :)
Thanks for the opportunity, Robin! It's been great!

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:
Spirit Light Moments -- One moment with God each day

Facebook Author Page at:

Staci's Bookshelf:

Spirit Light Books--The Blog


Follow Staci on Twitter @StaciStallings

Come on over for a visit…

You’ll feel better for the experience!


Lilly Maytree said...

Great interview! Nice getting to know you, Staci, and wonderful encouragement to hear how you are following the Holy Spirit each step of the way. Especially when some of these "writer paths" take such courage to walk down. But it sounds like you've had some amazing adventures along the way!

Robin Bayne said...

Thanks for stopping by Lilly!