Interview: Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Today I’ve got an interview with indie author Stacey Wallace Benefiel, creator of the Zellie Wells trilogy. But before we start talking to Stacey about Glimpse, Glimmer, and Glow, I’m going to tell you how I met Stacey.

Having heard a buzz about Glimpse, I took myself over to Smashwords to buy a copy. There, in the spirit of supporting a fellow indie, I decided to try out the little tweet button on the side there that tells the world, “I’m looking at such-and-such by so-and-so on #Smashwords [link].” I’d never done that before.

Well, next thing you know, @Christel42 tells me that she followed my link and thinks this author is a long-lost friend from college. Christel is a friend I had only “met” a few weeks before when @kaitnolan suggested she might be willing to beta read Hush Money for me. And that was why she was following me, to see the link, to Google the friend, to get back in touch…and then we all lived happily ever after.

I was happy too because I got a great read and a cool new friend.

Here’s a great little blurb:

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual. As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death.

Here’s what I had to say about it:

This was a very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the two different character viewpoints, and seeing their mutual attraction. The author has an authentic teen voice which manages to create a vibe between the main characters that is undeniably sensual, and yet layered with a kind of young and clueless innocence that’s very sweet. The psychic concept on which the story is based felt fresh and had some nice surprises (nice for me, not always for the characters). I look forward to continuing reads in this series.

And now, on to the interview…

Glimpse, Glimmer, and Glow

Part of what I think is awesome about the Zellie Wells trilogy, is that, within the realm of paranormal romance, Zellie has an unusual ability which is portrayed in a way that’s very unique and refreshing. Do you remember what got you started in that direction and how you developed Zellie and her family?

You know, I don’t remember exactly how Zellie’s abilities came about.  It’s been five years since I finished the first draft of Glimpse and it has been through a lot of edits since.  My goal was to write a paranormal that didn’t have vamps, werewolves, faeries…any of that stuff because I’m not good at research (Okay, I’m super lazy) and I didn’t want to piss people off by not getting mythology right.  It had to be completely made up from my own brain.  I started off with something I thought was cool and a little bit controversial for a pastor’s daughter to have-visions of the future.  The rest of the abilities materialized as I wrote.  I tend to get myself in the weeds and then just write myself out of it.

Have these books be long in the making, or was this sudden inspiration?

Glimpse was a long time in the making-I had two kids between the time I wrote it and when I published it!  Glimmer and Glow-I’ve always had an endgame.  I may be crappy at plotting, but I always know how they are going to begin and end.  Compared to Glimpse, Glimmer and Glow have happened in a blip.

When you started with Glimpse, did you know that you had a trilogy on your hands?

Glimpse was originally much shorter and I sort of had a plan to write six short novels-like Gossip Girl sized.  However, when I started submitting it to agents I got slapped on the hand for trying to pitch novellas.  So, Glimpse became twice as long and I figured I could tell the whole story in three 50K-ish books.

Are there any spin-offs planned, more books about the Society?

Because Glimpse started out as more of a Family Saga type novel than strictly YA, I have lots and lots of backstory on Grace, Mike, Becky, Paul, Grandma Rachel, and Aunt Hazel.  At this point I feel like the Grace/Mike story has sort of played out through Zellie and Avery.  I do have some straight up crazy notes for a Rachel/Hazel prequel set in the 60’s that I might do something with.  I would love to do a Ben spin-off, but maybe more episodic novellas.  Ack-I just can’t give too much away on that one! J

Glimpse is out, Glimmer is in the latter stages of editing now, and Glow is on the horizon. Do you have projected release dates for the second two books in the trilogy?

Glimmer will be out in e-book and print November 1, 2010.  I’d like to be done with Glow by April and release it in June 2011.

What are your post-Glow writing plans?

Deep depression? J  I’ve got a bunch of beginnings of things on my hard drive.  A PNR novella series about human sacrifices and their guardian angels- although I’m going to start working more on that in the next couple of weeks.  I started writing a very dark, very adult novel when I was having a hard time getting Glimmer to cooperate.  I’m kind of skeeved that those characters live in my head, but I feel like it could be really good if I could get over myself.  It’s called The Perv and it’s about sex offenders.  Yeah.

I also want to try my hand at writing a YA romance about completely normal kids.  Daring, I know.

Like me, you didn’t set out to be a YA author on purpose. What happened?

Zellie wasn’t always the main character of Glimpse.  The original version paralleled her mom and Mike’s story along with her own.  So, they were all teenagers, but in two different times, obviously.  One publisher I sent it too told me there was too much stuff about adults in it for it to be YA, but that was what she thought it should be.  I Googled just what the hell constituted a YA novel and I mostly agreed.  I cut, OMG, I cut sooooo much.  And voila!  Glimpse became YA.  Since then I’ve realized that half the books I like to read are YA, so I think I’m in good company.

Tell me about your self-publishing experience…

My self-publishing experience has been very positive.  Getting to be involved in every aspect of the work is amazing and I’ve met so many awesome people!  I’m super cheerleadery about it.

You recently wrote a blog post on why you went indie. Are do you fall into one of the indie camps: I’m hoping to be picked up by NY vs. I’m indie forever? Or are you more of a put it out there and you’ll decide what happens if it happens?

When I first published Glimpse it was because I just wanted to do something with it.  I thought it was good and didn’t see the sense in letting it live on my computer.  My plan was to see what happened and then try and sell Glimmer and a newly revamped Glimpse together to NY.  That is not how I feel anymore.  I’ve had a great response to Glimpse and thoroughly enjoyed writing Glimmer.  I don’t want anyone to come along and eff that up.  I’m doing just fine on my own, thank you.  Now, foreign rights, tv or film rights, those are different.  I’ve always thought Glimpse would make a great television show.  They can use the old Everwood sets.

What advice would you give an indie author on the fence?

My first inclination is to say, “Stop being a big fat chicken. The world will not explode if you put something up on Smashwords.”  But, some people are delicate flowers.  To them, I would say, it makes me happy.  Don’t you want to stop getting rejection letters from interns and let the readers decide if they like your work or not?  Adjust the dreams you think you’re supposed to have.  Make your own way, you won’t regret it.

Did you format your own work for Smashwords, Amazon Kindle, and your CreateSpace print release? How was that experience?

I do format my own work.  I’m not a very computery person, but I at the very least can format so that it’s readable.  There were many tantrums the first go around. It will be much easier with Glimmer. I’m particularly proud of the print layout.  I think it looks lovely.

About Stacey

I’m a Midwestern chick.  I was born in Indiana, but grew up in Columbia, Missouri.  I’ve always written and done theatre.  I have degrees in English, Theatre, Culinary Arts, and floral design.  I’m still trying to pass my medical transcription final so I can work from home as an MT. I don’t embarrass easily and will perform a kick ass interpretive dance to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” whether drunk or sober.

Your Twitter moniker is @MomJeans1975. What’s that about?

That is me being a smartass and thinking I’m pretty dang funny.  It just makes me laugh.  I have a collection of “mommy” essays that is tentatively titled, “Bury Me in My Mom Jeans When I Die.”  It’s not professional and people don’t know it’s me half the time, but y’know, live a little peeps.

Vital stats:

Married, how long, how met or any interesting tidbit you’d like to offer, or not

Rob and I have been married for eight years, together for eleven.  We met while working at Tower Records in Marina Del Rey, CA.  He’d published a book of poetry that we sold at the store and I read it and pretty much decided that he’d be the guy I would marry.  We moved in together after dating for three weeks and that’s that.

Kids?

We have two kids.  Our oldest, Gus, will be 4 in November.  Our daughter, Arlo, will be 2 in December.

Pets?

We have two dogs-Ophelia and Chief and two cats-Simon and Willis.  Ophelia, Simon, and Willis have been with me since I was 20.  They are all on the verge of dying any day now and I am in denial.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

When I was in college one of my roommates and I were maids at a Ramada Inn in Eugene, OR.  This was the early ‘90s and The Grateful Dead toured in Eugene.  Cleaning rooms that 12 hippies and all of their assorted dogs and drugs had stayed in was just about the least fun ever.  I’ve also been a cook in an Alzheimer’s facility.

What are your non-writing interests? Any on-going projects? Play any musical instruments? Dance a mean tango or sew a fine seam?

My non-writing interests are community theatre, cooking, and reading.  I am the most terrible seamstress in the world.  I got a D+ on the apron I made in Home Ec.  I can play the piano, clarinet, and oboe.  I’ve always wanted to play the drums, though.  For my 40th birthday I’m considering going to Rock n Roll camp to fulfill that dream.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Stacey. I did! She’s funny and fun to hang out with, and so are her characters. Buy Glimpse, and go follow Stacey all over the place.

Glimpse is available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats and on Smashwords in a variety of ebooks formats.

Stacey can be found at her website, on her blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

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7 Comments

Filed under author blog, book review, books, Guests, interviews, romance, self-publishing, writing

7 responses to “Interview: Stacey Wallace Benefiel

  1. Kait Nolan

    It’s on my to read list. I’m trying to work my way through some of the physical books first to make SOME SPACE in my house….

  2. Thanks, lady! We’ll have to do this again sometime. 😉 P.S. Christel was the roommate that worked at the Ramada with me!

    • Maybe we should get our characters together, have a mixer. “Joss, did you destroy another kitchen?” “Well, that Benjamin guy really got on my nerves.” “Thank you!” Avery cuts in, “haven’t I been saying?” Zellie steps forward, “I got this.” :rewind:

  3. christel42

    Omigod! The hippies. I had totally blacked out that whole facade! I think we only worked there for like 3 weeks or something? All I can remember was the excess of pubic hair in the bathrooms. *shudders* I can personally afirm the interpretive dancing. Stacey’s awesome at that! *flashback to I Touch Myself dance in the Maxi Pad*…..And OMG the pets are still around?!? Wonder if Ophelia’d remember me from 15 years ago?!?

    Oh Hi, Susan! LOL Sorry, I digressed a bit there. Glimpse is made of awesome! BUY THE BOOK! Even my Mom loved it! If that’s not a resounding affirmation, then I don’t know what is!

    I love how you two interviewed each other on the same day! Coolness! 🙂 I can’t thank you enough for the random hooking up of long-lost friendship! *It’s A Small World plays in my head* This whole experience has been the highlight of my Summer!

  4. A character soiree would be awesome. Destruction + Making Out= Good times.

    Christel-I can easily see how you would have blocked out our time as motel maids. And yes, all the pets are still around! Except Ripley, he died in 2006.

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