To celebrate the publication of Hard Deal we got chatting to Mills & Boon Dare author Stefanie London! We talk about her journey to getting published, her favourite fictional characters and more…
Can you tell us about Hard Deal, what is it all about?
Hard Deal is the second book in the Melbourne After Dark series, but it takes place at exactly the same time as Unmasked. This series is about two women who sneak into a high-society masquerade ball to catch their targets. One girl gets the right guy, and one girl gets the wrong guy.
Hard Deal is the story of the girl who gets the wrong guy. When Imogen sneaks into the ball to get evidence her sister’s fiancé is cheating on her, Imogen accidentally ends up taking pictures of the wrong guy. And when their encounter leads to a steamy kiss, she’s mortified to discover the man behind the mask is actually her office nemesis and the source of her most frustrating crush ever.
If you could sum it up in 3 words. What would they be?
Playful sexy banter.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes! I wrote my first book at age 5 and it was about cats. Most of my jobs after university involved writing in some capacity, such as writing newsletters, training manuals, policies, speeches and presentations etc. I even ran a beauty review website for several years. But eventually I knew I had to try my hand at writing a book. It was the biggest goal I’d ever set myself and I’m so glad I got over the initial fear of how hard it might be, because it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
What was your journey to getting published?
My journey to publication was a total whirlwind. I’d joined the Harlequin Forums in late 2012 because I knew I wanted to write a romance novel. In November that year, I participated in NaNoWriMo and started work on my first manuscript (then titled Love en Pointe). After writing around 30,000 words during NaNo, I took several more months to finish and polish the book.
In early 2013, I saw a Harlequin Mills & Boon competition where authors could get feedback on their work. I submitted my blurb, and while I didn’t place in the top three, the editors liked the sound of my story and requested the manuscript. Three rounds of revisions and eight months later—after wearing down the refresh button on my keyboard and spending many nights checking my phone at 3am to see if the editors in London had emailed me—I got “The Call” and a two-book contract with Harlequin Mills & Boon. Love en Pointe was renamed Only The Brave Try Ballet and came out in July 2014. Since then, I’ve published over twenty books and am happy to say I still love writing romances with all my heart.
What’s your writer’s block cure?
I don’t really get writer’s block, but sometimes I find myself at a point in the story where I can’t clearly see the way forward. I’ve found the best thing is to walk away from the computer. I make a coffee and allow myself some time to read. Often clearing my head is enough to get my creative brain working again and then, if I’m still stuck, I brainstorm all the possible directions the story could take. Usually, there’s one that feels right. Since I’m not much of a plotter, I sometimes go down a rabbit hole with the story but it always serves a purpose in teaching me something about the character or plot.
What are you reading at the moment?
Currently I’m reading The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, His Million-Dollar Marriage Proposal by my dear friend, Jennifer Hayward, and writing craft book Verbalize by Damon Suede.
Who is your favourite fictional love interest/hero?
Jon Snow! I can’t get enough of Game of Thrones and the fact he married Ygrette in real life just makes me love him even more.
Who is your favourite fictional heroine?
Sophie Dalton from Only With You by Lauren Layne. She’s kind of a hot mess, but she’s trying really hard and just wants to be herself, even if everyone else is trying to make her change. I love plucky stubbornness in a heroine. Loved this book so much!
Who is your ultimate author icon?
It’s so hard to pick only one! I’ve had the incredible opportunity to meet so many authors since I started writing, and they all inspire me in some way. It’s not an individual author I admire, so much as the type of author. I look up to those who bring positivity to the writing community, who encourage others and offer a helping hand. I admire those who share their experiences and wisdom with other writers, and view us all as people working toward our dreams rather than as each other’s competition. Most of all, I admire those who are dedicated to their craft, and who truly want to give their readers an incredible experience with each and every book.
Thanks to Stefanie for chatting to us and don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of Hard Deal!