Saving... but who saved the book?
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Where did you grow up, and where do you live now? I was born and raised in Los Angeles, moved to the South Bay when I met my husband, and then relocated to the Conejo Valley when my oldest son, Jason, started middle school.
Ah, hence the picture. So if Jason's your oldest, do you have other kids, or any pets? I have two sons. Jason graduated Rutgers, and stayed there, while my youngest, Brian, is about to start design school. I’ve never owned a cat but may get one. I lost my goldendoodle, Norman, last year, and my labradoodle, Maddie, is lonely. Look for my tribute to Norman in the back of my book.
What a shame. We had a standard poodle, then got a black lab after he died. Losing a pet is so hard, and I'm sure it's hard for the remaining pet too.
Do you have any favorite authors? My son Brian is gay and I wanted to be there for him, to guide him. So I turned to gay romance novels. I’m now completely addicted to them. People who live in the LGBTQ+ community have much higher hurdles they have to scale, so the love they share is much deeper than straight couples. Most of the time they’re better than mainstream books. NR Walker is my favorite M/M author. I also love Riley Hart, Lucy Lennox, Alexa Land, and Pandora Pine to name a few. When I read “straight” romance novels, I tend to lean toward Contemporary and romantic comedy. My favorite M/F author is Sandi Lynn. Other one-click authors are Adrianna Locke, Corinne Michaels, BN Toler, and Kristen Callahan.
You sound like a very supportive mom. Did you always want to be a writer? Until three years ago, I never read a book that I wasn’t required to read.
Intriguing... Eleven years ago, my son Brian went away to summer camp. My husband and I decided to take advantage of our time off, hopped in my car and took a road trip up the West coast, from California to Washington. We were in Oregon, nine hours away, when the call came in that Brian had had a seizure. It was the hardest drive of my life. Thankfully, we got in touch with my mother, so I knew he wasn’t alone. When I got there, I was a basket-case, and that’s where the double-edged sword of having my mother there came into play. She handed me a little blue pill, to calm me. She then gave me a few more. She also gave me the name of a “dirty” doctor and told me what to say. The little blue pill was Xanax.
Wow... By the time I ended my addiction, which was eight years later, I was, not only taking twelve to fourteen milligrams a day, I was also hooked on over a dozen prescription drugs. In 2014, I traveled to Ireland and ran out of most of them. The withdrawal was so bad, I spent the entire time there in the hotel room. When I got home, I was in the doctor’s office bright and early the very next day. Six months later, I was back in the same boat. The only difference was, this time I was still in California. That was when I said, “Enough is enough,” and flushed every other pill I had. In hindsight, it was completely the wrong way to quit. Three years later, I still feel the effects, especially when I’m stressed.
Then, what inspired you to write? Dani and Ean inspired me to write. Six months after I stopped the pills, I was in bed in that space between consciousness and sub-consciousness when Dani and Ean came to me. The best way I can it describe is…like watching a movie. I felt their pain with such intensity it took my breath away. I got up, opened notes on my iPhone, since I didn’t own a laptop, and my thumbs got to work.
What would you say is unique about your books? Aside from adding details that make it seem like you’re watching a movie, I love quotes, or as my husband calls them, Squotes. It’s something you’ll see throughout my book. You also don’t find many books on the market where the main characters share chapters. Originally, I had five, but, over time, I narrowed it down to two. In the scene where Ean quotes Dani, mimicking her slurring her words, I actually slurred into my phone and let autocorrect do its thing. Also, in my second book, Josh talks with his mouth full. I shoved a bunch of crackers in my mouth and repeated his words. It was both messy, and effective.
What a neat idea. You keep surprising me. But what are some of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? Keep your ears open and your mouth closed. Ideas can come from anywhere. And it really does take a village. I originally published my book August of last year. When the reviews came in, I not only read them, I got in touch with the people who wrote them. Best. Move. Ever! I got great advice and made a ton of new friends. It’s because of them that I re-opened Saving Each Other and spent the last four months revising it. Look for their names in the acknowledgment page.
And, don’t even get me started on the amazing women who helped me make my book what it is today, Stacey Blake, Judy Zweifel, Francine LaSala, and Sara Kocek.
I have some amazing friends who help me too, and a cool writers' group that keeps me inspired with things to write. Do you ever struggle with writer's block? Writer’s block isn’t an issue for me. Saving Each Other is the first in a series of five books. I wrote my second book, Saving Them, a month after my first, and I also wrote it in a month. The last three in the series, Saving Ourselves, Saving Christmas, and Saving Maybe, are partially written and completely mapped out. Going back to “ideas can come from anywhere,” I was in San Francisco last year and met an amazing man, who sadly was homeless. While talking to him, a sequel series, The Finding Series, played out in my mind. It’s all their kids.
Even though I haven’t experienced “Writer’s Block,” I have times when I’m uninspired. My words come from my characters, their voices roll through me. So, for the times I can’t hear them, I found that stepping back usually does the trick. By the time I start writing again, the words are much easier to find. Brian helps too. He’s my official “name” man. Other than the main characters, he named everyone. Talking it out helps too. I bounce ideas off my best friend, Leslie, and after a half an hour, I’m good to go.
What do you think makes a good story? I’m a very visual person, I was an interior decorator in my last life, so I love books with a ton of imagery. I also love books with real places in them. It’s so much fun to stumble across one when I’m reading, and I always Google and bookmark them. It’s also why I only include real places in my books.
What was your greatest challenge in writing this book? You won’t see it, because I’m surrounded by such amazing women, but I suck at grammar! Like legitimately suck!
Where do you best like to write? I have a small deck off my bedroom. I bought an oversized chair from Costco, and spend my days writing with my laptop on a polka dot, pillowed LapDesk. I’m a night-owl, and find I write the best when the moon’s smiling in the night sky.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I could spend the day writing, and still want to read. My goal with Goodreads is 200 books. And, when I’m not reading, I can be found being creative in other ways. Brian designs fashion, and I love sewing with him. I also love designing jewelry, scrapbooking, and making gift baskets. Look for some of the fun give-aways, coming in the near future, many of them will be handmade.
And finally, what is the one book no writer should be without? One word…Thesaurus!
I agree, though in my case Microsoft Word and Google are my go-to thesauri (or thesauruses). Thank you for visiting, and I really enjoyed our interview. And thank you for the chance to read an excerpt from Saving Each Other, below.
Excerpt from Saving Each Other by Stacy Mitchell
The place D and I have been forced to go for counseling is called “OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center” and is about a half an hour away from my home. My mom insisted on driving me. And while she hasn’t read anything about the accident, she spent the entire ride, before my first session, alternating between trying to force me to read the articles flooding the Internet and trying to persuade me to attend the court proceedings. I’m not going to read what some scumbag has to say about my family and I’ve made everyone promise they won’t either. I’m also definitely not going to the trial. The minute I see the man who murdered my family, I’ll lose my shit and that wouldn’t be good for anyone, especially me.
“OUR HOUSE” usually holds group sessions, but because our sessions are court-mandated and high profile, D and I were able to meet separately with our counselor, Elizabeth Macintyre, on a one-to-one basis.
Since we’re both barely hanging on by a thread, Beth did something very extreme and very risky. She came up with the idea that connecting us with one another could help us get through the grieving process. Her thinking was that since we’re both going through the same thing, we could potentially help each other. She explained to us—that to her—this was worth the potential loss of her license.
She gave us each a new cell phone that contained only each other’s new phone numbers along with the first letter of our first names. She wanted us to have a dedicated line to one another and her only stipulations were that we only communicate through text message and never reveal our real names or other personal details. This I agreed to because I had absolutely no intention of ever contacting her.
Except today. Today I have to. So I turn on my phone and type:
D, this is E.
I can’t believe I’m actually doing this. I don’t see how it’s going to change anything but I can’t stand this anymore. I’m at my breaking point. I’m in constant pain. It feels like a huge band is crushing my chest and getting tighter every day. All I do is cry! Everybody’s been trying really hard to help get me through this, I know that. I just don’t have it in me to give a shit.
I lost it with my mom yesterday. Said things no son should ever say to his mother. All she did was ask me to move in with her, and I lost it. It got so bad that she ran out of the house crying with a very mad Riley on her heels. Sure she’s asked me before, but that’s no excuse. My dad laid into me, took Po, and left. I’m now truly alone; being sucked into an inescapable vortex of grief. I’m so lost.
They haven’t been by yet today and I hope they don’t come by at all; this way I can die in peace. I’m falling down the rabbit hole very quickly and that’s why I need to contact D, the only other person who could possibly understand what I’m going through.
So I continue.
I wasn’t planning on contacting you, but here I am. I’m sure you feel the same way since you haven’t reached out to me and I don’t blame you if you don’t respond. It’s been almost a month since my world ended, and let’s just say, unfortunately, suicide isn’t an option. Even though I really wish it were.
I push aside my tears but not my pain; it refuses to leave. I take a deep breath and keep typing.
I’m dying. With each second that passes, I keep dying more and more. I never leave my house, I just sit near the door waiting for their return. So yeah, I’m contacting you. Are you going through the same thing? Why did this have to happen? How am I ever supposed to move on or whatever the hell that even means.
Through my agony I type the plea that just might save my life.
I know I said I don’t blame you if you don’t respond, but at the same time, I really need you to text me back. I’m scared, sad, lonely, and extremely desperate.