Stefanie Sloane’s path to publication has culminated in a stunning debut, the kind that encourages writers everywhere to keep working on their stories. Her historical regency trilogy, the Regency Rogues, will be back-to-back releases from Ballantine, due to hit shelves in May, June, and July 2011.
A native Northwesterner with the pale skin to prove it, Stefanie credits her parents’ eclectic reading habits—not to mention their decision to live in the middle of nowhere—for her love of books. A childhood spent lost in the pages of countless novels led to college, where Stefanie majored in English.
No one was more surprised than Stefanie when she actually put her degree to use and landed a job in Amazon.com’s Books editorial department. This savvy, Internet editorial wunderkind lived the American dream as the 30th employee at Amazon.com and made history at the same time, participating intimately in the building of one of history’s most successful online businesses.
Stefanie spent six-plus years with Amazon.com before retiring to concentrate on her own stories. She currently resides with her husband and two active girls in Seattle, where she dedicates time to animal rescue organizations as well as the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. When she’s not writing, mothering, or volunteering, she enjoys going for long walks with her two dogs, having coffee with friends, and working her way toward becoming a yoga goddess.
Your dream of selling a book came through in a big way. You received a three-book contract from Ballantine. When did The Call come? Where were you, and what were you doing at the time? How did you react to the news? Shrieking, sobs, or sighs?
There were shrieks, and sobs, and barking—oh my! My agent had sent the partial out to several editors and told me to be patient. This is like asking my terrier, Coco, to be still. But I did my best and tried everything to keep my mind off the submission process—even cleaning the kitchen.
I was scouring the sink when my agent called with the news. Insert shriek number one. Which caused Coco to bark. Which then caused Charlie, the chocolate Lab to bark. Insert second shriek—though this one was technically more of a yell—at the dogs. To stop barking. Then I realized just what was happening—not the barking, the offer, that is, and teared up. Insert sobbing. Which led to more barking. I’m pretty sure that mine is the loudest call story on record.
With your penchant for words and your educational background, I’m guessing you’re a person who was born with a pen in her hand. Am I right?
Oddly enough, no. I was always a voracious reader and very much enjoyed English classes throughout my school years, but I entered college as an art history major. My plan was to become a curator—a dream that fell by the wayside after I literally slept my way through one of my core art classes. The viewing of art was one thing—the discussion of art, a completely different thing altogether.
So I looked for a major that involved the most amount of time doing what I loved—reading. That’s how I found my way to the English department at my small university. It was the creative writing classes that really clicked and had me thinking “huh, suddenly things make sense.”
What part have your English degree and your experience working for Amazon.com played in your success?
The English degree gave me the foundation needed to work my way into the editorial department at Amazon.com. And my time at Amazon.com gave me the contacts that I used to secure an agent who then landed my first book deal. So, short answer, my degree and Amazon had everything to do with me becoming an author.
Would I have sold if I’d never worked for Amazon.com? Yes—because I’m just that stubborn once I set my mind to something. But my education and work experience were a tremendous help, without a doubt.
How did you transition from working for Amazon.com to writing stories fulltime? Did you juggle the job and writing for a while, or did you boldly declare your intention to be a published author and submit your resignation?
My transition involved a lot of sleep to begin with, as my tenure at Amazon had left me tired. With a capital T. That was pretty much my plan—sleep, eat, and spend time with my family.
Eventually, I started work on a chick lit novel that I’d been thinking about for some time. I finished the book, gave birth to my second daughter, and absorbed the disappointment of the book being rejected by every publisher within the space of 18 months. I wish that I could say that there was more sleeping at this point, but with a newborn, no dice.
Flash forward five years—I know! That’s a long time. But in between, my father died, we built a house, I started a consulting business, and the girls became increasingly more mobile and loud. That’s when I started writing the Regency Rogues series—and I haven’t stopped since.
A back-to-back trilogy release is way cool, but I’m curious how such an event comes about. Please enlighten us. And I gotta know, how do you produce books so quickly?
Bottom line, I wanted a contract for a quick release trilogy. I’d watched the market and knew that such an approach really did jumpstart an author’s career. But you don’t go into such a negotiation with guns blazing—actually, I probably would have.
But my agent is amazing—and strong, which helped when she had to tie me to my chair and make me listen to reason. In addition to the partial of The Devil in Disguise, we submitted a synopsis for book two and book three and made it very clear that I would bend over backwards should they have any interest in accelerating the typical publishing schedule.
So we didn’t push. We didn’t beg. We were professional, accommodating, and smart—everything that you need to be to write and promote a quick release trilogy. And, thankfully, Ballantine agreed.
As for producing the books so quickly, that’s a really good question. I’ll be honest: I’m not the most disciplined of people. And, let’s face it, life happens. So writing three books in eighteen months was hard. Painful, actually. But the opportunity that the quick release trilogy offers is one that no one should pass up. The best advice I can give to an author who needs to write quickly is manage your time well. Really. Well. Because there’s no margin for error.
What have you learned from your rapid rise to fame that would help those eager to land their first contract as well as those preparing for the release of their debut novel?
You need to be all about the book. It’s so easy to get lost in everything surrounding the words—from promotion and contracts to bestseller lists and, well the list goes on and on. Lose focus on what’s important, and you lose everything.
Stefanie’s Debut Novel
Please tell us about The Devil in Disguise.
William Randall, the Duke of Clairemont, is a wicked rake with little regard for society—a most unlikely suitor for the prim and proper Lady Lucinda Gray. But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot and to do this, the notorious “Iron Will” must get close to Lucinda, and convince her that he’s a man worthy of her attention. It is a simple enough task to use his devilish charm to seduce her, but William never would have guessed that he’d become enthralled by the lovely Lady Grey—or that he’d lose his own heart in the bargain.
Beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Lucinda has managed to gracefully sidestep even the most persistent suitors. Until the Duke of Clairemont, that is. His rugged features, sinfully sensuous mouth, and piercing eyes are as alluring as the champion thoroughbred he tantalizingly offers in exchange for the honor of courting her, and she finds it hard to resist either temptation. The feelings he stirs in her both excite and arouse, urging her on despite the very real danger he represents. But when the truth is revealed, will Lucinda risk her heart and her life for a chance at everlasting love?
Reactions and Reviews
“Smart, sensuous, and sparkling with wit… spectacular!” – Julia Quinn
“Captivating… With her fresh, original voice, Sloane will charm her way into readers’ hearts.” – Susan Wiggs
“Fabulous… everything readers of Regency romance crave.
– Amanda Quick
“An engaging, refreshingly original storyteller.” – Stephanie Laurens
“Stefanie Sloane writes utterly delectable and seductive Regency romance!” – Teresa Medeiros
Your list of endorsements includes some of the biggest names in Regency romance. How did you secure the support of these bestselling authors?
The easy answer is that they’re friends—or at the very least, acquaintances. But it’s a little more complicated than that. While at Amazon, I worked hard to build a highly successful romance program. Along the way, I took special care to value my customers—readers and authors alike—to behave professionally, and to tirelessly advocate for the genre. So when I contacted these amazing women and asked for their help, they said yes. Karma in action!
You’ve already received a number of glowing reviews, including four stars from Romantic Times. Which reviews have meant the most to you, and why?
Oh, it’s impossible to choose. Because I’m a reader and former reviewer, I have the unique experience of seeing it from both sides—in other words, reading for the sheer pleasure of reading, and reading with the added responsibility of helping people to decide whether a book is right for them. Both types of reviews mean the most because it involves someone’s time, their opinion, and their passion.
Stefanie’s Journey Continues
Your first trilogy will be in readers’ hands this May, June, and July. What can they look forward to next?
The next three books are part of the Regency Rogues series and feature a thoroughly exciting cast, including a female Corinthian—unheard of until now—a genius agent masquerading as a lack-wit, and a widow who knows too much. I’m having a ball writing these three and hope that readers will love them as much as I do.
Let’s Learn a Little More About Stefanie
Since Stefanie “shudders when asked her favorite anything,” and since I don’t want to make a guest feel shaky, I’ll take another tack. 🙂
Chinese food, Italian food, Mexican food, or…?
I love Mexican food. Seriously. Love it. I think that I could eat guacamole every single day and never tire of it. And enchiladas. Tamales too. Ugh, now I’m hungry.
Shoes, clothes, accessories, or…?
Dogs. I know, you’re thinking “dogs?” I volunteer at my local shelter, have rescue dogs of my own, and, honestly, have always been a dog person. Because of this, I know a lot about dogs—their behavior, their breeds, etc. So when I’m out and about, instead of noticing a woman’s designer bag or a man’s sports car, I notice their dogs. I cannot see a Bassett Hound and not smile. Bulldogs too. Ok, now Coco and Charlie are jealous, so terrier mixes and labs too.
Beaches, Mountains, Desert, or…?
Anywhere quiet. Seriously. I mowed our small city lot last weekend. It was kind of sunny, moving toward grey. A little windy with a smattering of rain—you know, Seattle. Once I’d finished, I sat on the steps and looked out at the yard I see every single day. My dog Charlie wandered over and sat next to me, the only sound being his sniffing the wind. It was beautiful and perfect in only the way such a quiet moment can be.
Chocolate, ice cream, cookies, cake, or…?
Oh, this is easy: chocolate cake. There is nothing quite like a good slice of chocolate cake. In fact, I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast. And lunch. Dinner as well. Why wouldn’t you love something that can multi-task like that?!
Stefanie’s Question for You
Keli, thank you so much for inviting me to chat. Now, for you readers out there, were you always the type of person who knew exactly what you wanted to do with your life—and actually stuck to the plan? Or were you like me, a little unclear until a few missteps brought you to destiny’s door?
Stefanie has generously offered to give away a signed ARC of The Devil in Disguise.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Stefanie by May 9th and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. On May 10th I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well as in a comment and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address.
Congratulations to Diane Diamond, winner of the drawing.
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Open to those with U.S. and Canadian addresses only.
Learn More About Stefanie
Visit her website ~ www.stefaniesloane.com
Friend her on Facebook ~ Stefanie Sloane, Historical Romance Author
Follow her on Twitter ~ @stefaniesloane