Welcome, Staci Stallings!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I'm a mom and a wife, a daughter and a sister and a friend and in my spare time, I write. I also own two businesses, write three blogs, have founded an online writers' group. I edit for friends, market as much as possible and try to keep up with a house, three kids, two schools, eight cats, and a dog.
Q: Wow! Busy woman. Besides writing, what do you do in your "spare" or off time?
I love playing on the Wii, but not sit down kinds of games--the active kind. I love Walk It Out and snowboarding and skateboarding. I love how my Mii character can crash, jump back up again, and here we go. It's much better than being incapacitated in the hospital for the foreseeable future.
Q: People always say you should read what you want to write. Do you read much?
I do read and what most people would consider a lot. I just don't have nearly as much time as I would like to have to read. When I read, I mostly choose Christian nonfiction. I consider myself as much of a counselor as a writer. My characters are often stuck in situations, with a past and baggage that they just don't want to put down. I have to help them, or counsel them, through how to do that as they are living through whatever is going on. It's a lot like real people actually.
So I love reading books that help me do that, especially things that touch on God's Grace and healing mercy. Titles I've read in the last year or that I'm reading include "How People Change," "Instruments in the Master's Hand," and "Midwife for the Soul." They all give great insights into the journey through life and how we all go through trials and triumphs that change us and form us into God's handiwork.
Q: What is your all-time favorite story and why?
All time, hands down favorite is Cinderella. I love how the fairy godmother didn't so much change her as she showed her what could be. I think too often we get stuck in our little worlds, doing our daily chores which seem so overwhelming, and we stop believing in the dream. Oh, we have the dreams, but we stop believing we could ever get there. Then when we try, the world (stepsisters) knocks us down to size. But I truly believe that underneath us all is a princess, a beautiful woman who would captivate the prince so much that he would lose all track of time. I also think it's cool that when the prince lost her, he was willing to move heaven and earth and smell some really stinky feet just to find this one of a kind girl.
Ah, romantic AND inspiring! Who could ask for more?
Q: How do you come up with your stories?
Most of mine come in dreams or snippets of dreams. For as long as I can remember, I have put myself to sleep by playing "movies" in my head. They would start as a dream I really liked. Then I would fill in the details backward and forward from the part I had dreamed about, until I'd told myself the whole story. Now, I just write what I see on the "movie" in my head.
Q: Do you do anything special when you write to "get you in the mood" or "inspire creativity"?
Honestly, I could get lost in doing just that. I love to find pictures of my characters on the 'net and then put them together on documents. Him. Her. Him with her. Her and her best friend. The villain. Etc. I have even made videos with them.
I also put together a soundtrack for each book. I love music and love writing to music--whether it has words or not. I find songs that fit the mood of the book, or the characters, and I put those songs together. Then I play them as I write. It makes writing and getting into the characters' heads so much easier.
Q: So did you do that with this latest book?
Actually, that's how this latest book came about. I was writing another book, and I was getting pictures of the main character for it and finding songs. Well, the main character was a guy in a 90's boy band. I had a young lady working here with my kids at the time, and she had gotten interested in my writing process. So she would come in here each day to see what I had going. I started showing her the pictures I had of this guy. However, instead of being fascinated with him, she "fell in love" with another guy in the band.
She kept asking, "Yeah, but what's his story? I want to know what his story is." I finally got so frustrated that one day I said to God, "Okay, if I was going to tell his story, what would it be?" I honestly did not expect an answer. But with no pause at all, "To Protect & Serve" sprang to life on my movie screen in my head. Within a week, I was at a fire house asking about the best way to cut a vent hole in a roof. God truly does work in mysterious ways!
Q: It sounds like this one is about fires. Did you know a lot about fires and firefighting before you started?
If you saw me with a firestarter, you would laugh about that! I nearly burned down my church one time trying to light a candle with a match. So the first thing you have to know is I'm TERRIFIED of fire. I hate it and would not get close to one voluntarily if you paid me a million dollars. So how did I write about firefighters? Well, first I spent a couple of hours following a rookie firefighter around the fire station as he showed me every button and box and compartment on the whole fire truck.
Then he and about five of his friends walked me through every scenario I could think of. House fire. Someone trapped. Apartment fire. Getting into the gear. Getting out of the gear. Sleeping at the firehouse. And on and on. Thank goodness they were patient! When I sat down to write, I just had to rely a lot on the movie in my head (God) telling me what would happen and how.
After I wrote it, I sent it to a friend of mine who is an actual firefighter. One night I get this phone call and it's him, and he's mad that my husband let me go to a fire! "What was he thinking letting you do that? Don't you know how dangerous that can be?" It took me awhile to get him to calm down and awhile longer to convince him that I didn't actually GO to a real fire... though I'm not sure he even still believes me on that count because "I just don't know how you got that many details right without actually being there."
Q: So this book is about Christian firefighters?
This book is about firefighters who because of the danger of the job and because of past mistakes and present difficulties learn about God's grace and mercy and love. I think it really is our story maybe in a little more dramatic setting. But we're all trying to find our way--feeling quite lost and alone at some points. But God is always right there, waiting for us to give up trying to do it on our own and let Him give us a place of rest and comfort. It just so happens this is Jeff and Lisa's story of doing that.
For two days only (Aug. 15 & 16), you can get Staci's book, "To Protect & Serve" free on Kindle! Here's how...
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Staci has a special surprise for you today and tomorrow only...
FREE ON KINDLE TWO DAYS ONLY!
August 15 & 16
Staci's "Amazing!" novel:
To Protect & Serve
"Reading To Protect & Serve, I'm taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci's characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.
Oh, and the firemen in this story, they're smokin' hot! Especially the hero!"
--Debra, Amazon Reviewer
When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it's possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can't control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have...
Available as a free download from Amazon!
Where you can find Staci, http://stacistallings.wordpress.com/