Monday, August 18, 2014

Q&A with "Falling for Max" author Shannon Stacey

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your new release, Falling for Max?

Falling for Max is the ninth book in my Kowalski family series, and it’s about Max Crawford and Tori Burns. Max is single, has great couches, a big TV, and loves to have people over to watch sports, which is how he’s eased into friendships in Whitford. He’s also the resident man of mystery, since nobody knows what he does for a living down in his basement. Tori moved to Whitford to escape her parents’ acrimonious divorce and works part time at the diner to offset the lack of a social life working from home can cause. When she finds out awkward, shy Max is trying to find himself a wife, Tori decides to help him because she genuinely likes him. But she might found out too late that she likes him more than she thought.

2. What is it about the Kowalski family that people love?

I think they feel really authentic, as if you could run into them at the local diner or at a gas station. They’re blue-collar folks who work hard and play hard. They love their children, respect their parents or parent-figures, and love to laugh. I think they’re people we’d want to hang out with in real life.

3. Why did you decide to bring together your two recurring characters, Tori and Max?

I knew I’d end up writing Max’s story as soon as he was introduced in All He Ever Dreamed, the sixth book in the series. It was something of a surprise when I realized Tori, who was meant to have a walk-on role, was the woman for him. She’s very curious and frank, and isn’t made uncomfortable by Max’s awkward attempts at conversation. She likes him and decides to help him find a date which, of course, goes sideways on her.

4. Is the town of Whitford modeled after the New England town you live in?

Whitford is quite a bit smaller than the town I live in, and my town only has about 3,500 residents. It’s actually very, very loosely modeled after a town in central Maine I’ve visited, but I’m reluctant to say which because people familiar with it would shake their heads. It’s more about the feel of the place and having a point on the map to use when determining how long it takes to drive to the hospital or airport than modeled after the location. 

5. Why do you think people love small town romance novels so much?
One of the things I personally love about small town romance novels is the cast of characters. As a reader, I get to know everybody in the community and become invested in, not only the hero and heroine, but the people around them. Returning to a small town series is like returning to a town I’ve enjoyed visiting or reconnecting with friends.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I barely remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I think it was a Little House on the Prairie book that caused me to make a connection with an author’s name when I was maybe six or seven and I was told that, yes; people get paid to write books. From that moment on, an author was all I ever wanted to be. It wasn’t until I discovered romance novels as a young teen that I knew what I wanted to write. (I write horrible poetry and horror. Trust me.)

7. What else do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love being at campground with my family. Besides hitting the ATV trails, there’s something refreshing about sitting around a campfire with friends, or playing cards in the gazebo. We generally make the drive up to the northern part of New Hampshire every other weekend from May to October, but this summer we spent ten days there and it was wonderful. Other than that, I watch too much television, with a special weakness for reality shows.

8. How would you describe your voice and writing style?

I really wish I could remember who said it, but I’ve heard that authorial voices are like accents—other people can hear them, but you can’t. I think my voice and writing style probably reflect my general view of life, which I share with my family: humor, love for family, respect. I’ve had readers tell me I do a good job of balancing lightheartedness and emotion for a fun, romantic read.

9. What’s the best part of Max’s quirky personality?

The heroes of the Kowalski series have all been fairly confident, sure-of-themselves men who could bring the charm when it suited them. They “walked tall” in their worlds, so to speak. Max has never found it easy to interact socially, which leads to awkwardness and has made forming relationships in the small town of Whitford somewhat difficult. Showing what a great guy he is through Tori’s eyes was fun to explore.

10.  Tell us a little about your social media presence. How is it different now connecting with readers as opposed to before social media?

When I contracted my first book in 2005, blogging was the “it” social media platform. Writers were networked by, and readers could find us by, blog rolls and group blogs. Now conversations are much more immediate and casual. Blog posts tend to limit the conversation to that post’s topic, while Facebook and especially Twitter lead to more organic conversations that don’t smack of promotion. Writing’s a solitary endeavor and having “water cooler” discussions is a sanity-saver!

11. What’s your main source of inspiration for developing the Kowalski series?

The Kowalski series began when I started writing a romance just for my own pleasure, filled with things I loved, like camping and four-wheeling and s’mores and bug spray jokes. Eventually I realized that if I enjoyed it, so might others, and it became Exclusively Yours, the first book in the series. 

12. Which of the characters in this novel do you feel the most drawn to?

While I enjoyed writing Tori, I’d have to say I’m most drawn to Max. He’s somewhat inspired by several people who are very important to me and his desire to find a woman who’d love him just the way he was really struck a chord. I love all of my book couples, but writing his happily ever after was particularly sweet for me.

13. Do you have any say in what goes on your book covers?

I’ve been incredibly lucky with the Carina Press art department’s ability to take a form on which I’ve noted pertinent, but random, details about the books and return with such wonderful covers. If there’s something I feel strongly about, they do their best to make it happen but, overall, I think Carina Press and Harlequin are brilliant at marketing—including book covers—so I trust in their vision for the series.

14. Where is your favorite place to brainstorm and write?

I have an office in my home, complete with normal office things like a desk, filing cabinets and comfortable chair for writing. I even go in there once in a while—usually if I need to print something—but I do almost all of my writing on the couch in the living room with my dogs snuggled up next to me. A lot of my brainstorming is done while driving, either my vehicle or while out on the ATV trails. And in the shower, of course. Writers trying to work out plot issues tend to be very, very clean.

15. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

“Quit worrying/whining/obsessing and get back to work.” — Jaci Burton, whenever I’m worrying/whining/obsessing over things I can’t control.

16. What are you working on next?
I have a holiday novella, “Her Holiday Man”, releasing in November, and my editor and I are tossing around some ideas for a new series. I hope to have good news to announce very soon!

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler.  From May to November, the Stacey family spends their weekends on their ATV's, making loads of muddy laundry to keep Shannon busy when she's not at her computer.  She prefers writing to laundry, however, and considers herself lucky she got to be an author when she grew up.

You can contact Shannon through her website, where she maintains an almost daily blog, or visit her on Twitter, her Facebook page, or email her at

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