Esther J. Santiago Rodríguez, Fiction Panelist
S.C. Stephens is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author for the Thoughtless series. Thoughtless is a romance novel that focuses on angst-filled love triangle, self-discovery, exploring dreams and learning how to love. Other of her best selling works are: the Rush series, Collision Course, Conversion series and It’s All Relative. Currently, Stephens is in the process of releasing a new novel titled Under the Northern Lights.
I came across S.C Stephens’ Thoughtless series while I was still in high school, and the first book of the series became special to me. I kept reading Thoughtless over and over, and I loved it so much that inspired me to pursue writing. Also, (spoiler alert!) Denny’s speech to Kiera towards the end about being her “safety net” (which is one of the scenes I kept rereading) changed how I viewed relationships at the time. Stephen’s writing holds a message that still impacts me, and I share it with others. So when I say that interviewing S.C. Stephens is like a dream, it truly is! Never in eons would I have imagined that this opportunity would have been possible.
I sent S.C. Stephens an inquiry at her website, and I closed my laptop dreading my request would be drowned in thousands of emails. Fortunately, Stephens replied and I came to tears. After a frantic call of excitement with my mother, I realized that it was truly happening. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors.
E:What inspired you to write Under the Northern Lights (coming soon) which follows the story of a female wildlife photographer (Mallory) who is rescued by a mysterious mountain man (Michael) when her plane crashes in the midst of a storm on the way to her annual trip to Alaska?
S: At the time I was thinking up new stories, my boyfriend and I were watching a lot of off-the-grid type survival shows. I couldn’t help but wonder what drove a person to live in such isolation, and I started dreaming up different scenarios. An idea came to me that I loved, and I started writing Michael and Mallory’s story.
E: Have you considered doing a crossover between books? Perhaps, Kellan Kyle, the male lead character from Thoughtless (who is also the lead singer of the band, the D-Bags) appearing in another of your series?
S: It’s not something that I’m opposed to doing, so long as it happens organically and makes sense for the story. I actually did try including the band in a story once—just a brief mention—but I ended up deleting the scene. It took me out of the story I was trying to write.
E: One of the methods that I use to fight against writer’s block is listening to music. I try to pick a song that fits the mood of the piece I’m writing because it helps me visualize the scene better. Do you enjoy listening to music while you write? If so, what’s your writer’s block playlist?
S: I usually write to music. It helps me get into the right headspace. Over the years, I’ve found that certain melodies help with different types of scenes. For action scenes I’ll put on Youth of the Nation by P.O.D. For dramatic moments I’ll listen to Save Your Goodbye by Mike Posner. And for an overall good vibe I’ll put on Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People or Cool Kids by Echosmith.
E: Did you ever feel like quitting writing? Was there a moment that you considered “writing” was simply a dream?
S: When I first started writing, it was just a hobby, a way to escape from the world. It was definitely a dream job, and I never truly thought it would be my career. I honestly didn’t think anyone would ever read my book, and I was astonished when people started reading it–and loving it! I’m awed and amazed that I get to do this for a living now.
E: What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
S: The only real advice I have for aspiring writers is to keep writing. The process can be frustrating, the criticism difficult, and the revisions seemingly endless, but you just have to keep going. The end result is well worth the tears.
Stephens’ words “the end result is well worth the tears” capture the essence of being brave enough to follow your dreams, as cliché as “following your dreams” may sound. It is so encouraging to read how an author you admire thought of writing just as a hobby, and now has achieved so much. Also, it is exciting for me personally (and I admit I laughed a little) to know Stephens enjoys listening to Foster the People, considering I saw them in concert last summer. I am sure there is no greater satisfaction than pursuing what you love and reaching it. I exhort you fellow writers to, as Stephens said, “keep writing.”