Shannon Stacey interviews Executive Editor Angela James


Shannon Stacey is the author of eleven published works, nine of which were edited by the comma-killing, wandering body part-snagging, action tag-loving Angela James. Shannon’s current Carina Press release, Exclusively Yours, is their ninth book together and has a lot fewer commas now than it did when Shannon wrote it.

1. If I could go back in time and rewrite any one of the classics, I’d give Gone With The Wind a happily ever-after-ending. (And have Ashley Wilkes get murdered in the first act, causing Melanie to develop an opium addiction that would make her a great deal more interesting and…oh wait. Back to you.) If you could go back in time and edit any one of the classics, which would be it be and why?

Um, none of them, because I’m an editor not an author and me trying to rewrite anything would be tragic! And I’m afraid your follow-up question can’t be which books I’d go back and re-edit, because I’ll have to plead the Fifth. I’d like to hear more about your plan for Gone With the Wind, though. You could do for Gone With the Wind what that author did for Pride and Prejudice. Something having to do with zombies. And maybe some shifters and vampires thrown in. We could make millions! Let’s chat. I’ll have my people call your people.

2. How important is an author’s social media profile to you? If you’re on the fence about acquiring a manuscript, can an author who’s successfully using social media tip you toward buying? Conversely, if an author’s “behaving badly” in public via social media, will it tip you against buying? (No, that’s not three questions. The second two are subquestions.)

I should never have assigned this interview to you, cheater.

I do look at authors’ social media proficiency: blog, Twitter, Facebook, website and look to see what they’re doing to build their brand. A really strong, positive author brand can tip me in favor of an author because it says to me they’re willing to put in the time and effort to their business.

And I have rejected authors who have publicly behaved unprofessionally online via their social media profiles. Publishing is a business where authors, editors and publishers work (or should work) intimately with one another, and where we need to depend on each other for professional courtesy and patience. If an author has already shown publicly they don’t mind letting loose in an unprofessional way, rather than being smart about managing their brand, then that’s one sign that a comfortable working relationship may be difficult.

3. Have you ever harbored a secret desire to write a novel yourself?

I don’t think it’s a secret desire. I grew up reading and I think for many people, a natural extension of having a love of books is having a desire to be able to write one. People have often asked me if/when I’m going to write a book, but the truth is, I don’t seem to have been blessed with the fiction novel gene. It’s actually one of the things I love about books, the awe I feel at the worlds and characters other people have created, wondering how they DO that and do it so well. So I probably won’t be writing a fiction novel anytime soon.

Now, non-fiction, that’s another story…

4. What’s your secret for working from home? Does self-discipline come naturally to you, or do you have a routine that helps, such as work clothes on work days or a specific place in the house you work?

I’ve been working from home long enough that I’ve learned to be disciplined about my time. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if I’d spent all my time working from home goofing off instead!  I have a job and I have duties, I have people who are depending on me to get that done. If I’m not disciplined, they don’t get done and people will notice and then I won’t have a job (motivation!) So I don’t have any choice but to be disciplined. Added to that, I think having discipline shows respect for what you do, and for the people who depend on you, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for my peers, my co-workers, my authors and my freelance contractors so I try not to let them down.

During the week, I work during the day (from about 8a-4:30p) while my daughter is at daycare and husband is at work. Because my brother has moved in with us and taken over the room that was my “office” I work either in the living room or dining room. I don’t turn on the TV during the day (because I’m at work) and I don’t feel as though I also need to be doing housework just because I’m at home. Because really, I’m at work (sense a trend in my mantra, here?) Like a normal office job, I allow myself a day every so often to do something out of the ordinary, like go out to lunch, but otherwise, I’m at work.

The hardest part for me is actually separating from work, because working from home, you never truly leave work. So even though my main workday is during the day/week, I also work in the evenings and on the weekends. I often have to force myself to stop.

I guess the main trick is not to think of it, or allow other people to think of it, as you being at home, but to keep reminding them you’re at work, and that they shouldn’t expect things of you that they wouldn’t expect of anyone else at work. If they can’t do the laundry at work, you shouldn’t be expected to either!

5. If you weren’t married and could date any Star Wars or Star Trek character, who would it be and why? (And no, you cannot cheat and substitute Firefly. Or Doctor Who. Or Battlestar Galactica.)

You cheated in question #2 so I have a free pass. Despite my love for the shows you mentioned, I would date Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(Note from Shan: Angel? Ew. Spike, baby. It was all Spike.)

(Note from Angela: Yeah, you’re also the one who roots for Juan Pablo Montoya as your favorite Nascar driver. I rest my case.

(Note from Angela part 2: –though I do admit that Spike would be my second choice)

Bonus question: If a writer aspiring to be a Carina Press author wanted to make you wiggle in your chair, what would he or she send you?

Because I’m so busy with the administrative side of running Carina, I don’t have much time in my schedule any more for editing. I do read a lot of submissions, but I generally pass the ones I love/acquire to the freelance editors. I really love editing, though, so I continue to work with a few authors, though not much more than a book a month. The genres that are most going to catch my eye and convince me to edit a book from the slush pile are space opera (I’m still waiting for someone to write me a western-flavor space opera a la Firefly and Captain Tightpants!), futuristic romance, steampunk (I was asking for this 5 years ago, long before it was “in” so why stop now?) and erotic romance of any sub-genre, but I have a soft spot for good BDSM erotic romance because it’s so difficult to find.

Though I do find myself reading some longer submissions because of the genre, if you’re writing a novella in any genre, I’m most likely to grab it out of the slush pile and read it, and most likely to keep it for editing myself, because novellas fit much better into my schedule!

All that said, there are always books and authors who I’ll try to edit (Hi Nora, call me!) because I want to keep editing, as it’s something I love and don’t want to get too rusty at!

* * *

You can find Shannon at her website or running amok on Twitter and Facebook. Her next book, Undeniably Yours, releases from Carina in October. You can find Angela pretty much everywhere (the hard part’s getting her to sit still), but Twitter and the Carina Press Facebook page are good places to start.

35 thoughts on “Shannon Stacey interviews Executive Editor Angela James”

  1. MJ Fredrick says:

    Yup, Angel for me, too.

  2. Spike for me. Though if we can expand it to the entire Whedon oeuvre, it’s Cap’n Tightpants all the way.

  3. Kate Johnson says:

    Good, that means Spike’s all mine.

  4. Kym says:

    Great interview, guys. I was especially interested in Angela’s work-from-home discipline. I do have “office hours,” but I’m one of the freelancers who loses track of my day and winds up working late at night because I do wash dishes and do laundry in the middle of the day.

    And Shannon, I just finished Exclusively Yours. You guys do great work together. I loved it!

  5. Shannon_Stacey says:

    Thanks, Kym!

    Sorry, Susanna, but Cap’n Tightpants can’t be an option…because he’s mine. ALL MINE.

    Come on! There has to be more Spike fans out there!

  6. Shannon Stacey, congrats, you’re so talented.
    Great interview, thanks to both of you for sharing. Now, we know more about Angela James.
    Angela, maybe it’s time you create a fan page, I’m serious, you should.
    Speaking of which, Angel all the way! You guys can keep Spike, I prefer the alpha bad boys.

  7. Angela James says:

    Joanna, I have Facebook, Twitter and a website/blog of my own. If anyone wants to know anything about me, it’s out there, I think :P

  8. Angela James says:

    Also, I should have said there’s a longstanding joke between my husband and I about Angel. Should he ever come knocking on my door, I have permission… Haha!

  9. Bonnie Dee says:

    Whaaat? I thought it was a myth that anyone actually preferred Angel over Spike. Really? I mean really? Even when I watched the Angel show it was for every other character besides Angel. The only time I liked him was when he trotted out his over-the-top Angelus act.

    Anyway, good to know the pertinent details about Our Miss James. Thanks for doing the interview Shannon

  10. “Also, I should have said there’s a longstanding joke between my husband and I about Angel. Should he ever come knocking on my door, I have permission…”

    Ah, the free pass list. Not sure I should confess who’s on mine. Suffice it to say that barring time travel, my husband has nothing to worry about…

  11. Angela James says:

    Kym, I was thinking about your comment, and I think I should say that it wasn’t always that I was so disciplined about a work schedule. The first year or two were especially rough, as Josh and I both had to change our mindsets about what I was doing at home. I had tremendous guilt about not doing laundry, dishes and cooking during the day until I realized that Josh wasn’t doing those things at his job, of course I shouldn’t be either!

  12. Kathy Ivan says:

    Great interview. I understanding working at home and being disciplined since my day job is exactly that, working at home. Just like Angela said, you have to treat it like any other job, where you do your work during your working hours; not your laundry, not your dishes, etc. It’s hard in the beginning but it can be done. Once that’s finished, then I get to the fun stuff–writing.

    As for choosing Angel or Spike–why should I have to choose? I say have ’em both–at the same time–what could be better? :-) Both “bad boys” can bring their alpha selves over to my doorstep anytime!

  13. ErinW says:

    See, I’ve known Angie “IRL” for years… and still learned some new things about her from this interview!!

    And I’m a new Shannon Stacey fangirl who looooved Exclusively Yours! Is the next book, Undeniably Yours, related? (I just might do cartwheels if you tell me this is going to be a series!!)

  14. Kati says:

    Angel or Spike? Put your hands together my friend. That’s a delicious sandwich….

    I’m just sayin’.

  15. Julie says:

    Why do you have to choose between Angel and Spike? Can’t I have them together? I’d love to be in the middle of all that salty goodness. :)

  16. Julie Particka-Klumb says:

    Now I really feel like I failed you with that space western ;-)

    I prefer the Angel/Spike sandwich option myself. When one gets too emo, there’s always the other one :)

  17. Angela James says:

    Oh, Julie, don’t feel that way. It just came at the wrong time for me. So far, I’ve only been able to edit three books and two of those are from authors I have established relationships with (Shannon being one). The other I acquired and by the time I realized I was probably too busy to edit it, I didn’t want to give another editor the short deadlines. But I keep telling myself that will all change and I’m going to have more time!

  18. Julie Particka-Klumb says:

    LOL I just meant that the space western version was so bad that I changed the genre and re-wrote it.

  19. Melissa Johnson says:

    Spike, please.

    Just thinking, if Bjork shows up at my door, my husband has permission…

  20. Lori says:

    Angel. Nom nom nom.

  21. Liz Fichera says:

    GONE WITH THE WIND with zombies? I think you’re definitely onto something! Excuse me while I start writing!

  22. I’m an Angel girl!!

  23. Kim says:

    Hmmmm. Between those two, I guess I’d have to say Angel, but he’s not on my list. I have permission from my husband for Daniel Craig, should he ever venture to Dallas in his James Bond tux and come looking for a chubby chick who’s a really good baker…

    As for working from home, I’m planning on giving that a try in a few weeks. We’ll see how that scheduling goes. I’m afraid I won’t be able to ignore the laundry at first, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. :-)

  24. Shannon I’m with you. Totally a Spike girl.

  25. Nora Weston says:

    Hi, Angela & Shannon! Fantastic interview…always lots of fun to be had on this blog.
    IF I were single, I’m afraid it would be Mal all the way! I love Firefly and still can’t believe I meet people who’ve never seen it. I’ve lost track how many times my family has watched it.

    Angela: If I’m the “Nora” you want to call you…I’d be very happy to! ( I just need a telephone number and the best time to call. Take care!

  26. Shannon_Stacey says:

    I’m glad Spike’s getting some love!

    Erin, thank you so much! (I’m very jealous you get to know Angela IRL.) Undeniably Yours is Joe’s brother Kevin’s story, so it’s a sequel to Exclusively Yours, though it stands alone. I hadn’t really planned to do a second book, but I wasn’t ready to leave the Kowalski family.:)

    My list has one name on it: Nathan Fillion. That way, whether I’m in a Captain Mal mood or a Castle mood, I’ve got my guy.

  27. Lara Kairos says:

    Great interview!

    So familiar with the challenges of working from home. Especially that now I have two jobs (an income-earning one and writing), a kid on a summer break and two competitive cats at home. Everyone thinks I’m available if I’m home! Wish I could be as efficient as Angela. :)

  28. Angela James says:

    lolol @ Nora. Clever!

  29. Your comment on not doing laundry at work is essentially the motto of all of us who work at home. Unfortunately, the part about never really being off work is the dirty secret :P

    That was a crazy fun interview. It is too bad and so sad that so many people are so misguided about men. If there is going to be a Whedon world sandwich, it is clearly from Dr. Horrible, not Buffy. Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris. Yow.

  30. My husband insists that Nathan Fillion should play the part of David in the I’ll Become the Sea movie. He’s totally wrong for it, but I’d be more than willing to let him audition. On the couch!

    (I’d appreciate your support of every part of this fantasy, up to and including the making of the movie, my being the casting director, and the eagerness of Captain What did you call him? Tightpants? That’s awesome.)

  31. Great interview. Angela–your work ethic while working at home is admirable. I’m constantly interrupted (maybe I’m allowing myself to get interrupted), especially in the summer with both kids home full time. I’ll try to be more disciplined like you. :)

    Shannon–I just read Exclusively Yours. LOVED it and decided I’ll just have to read more Shannon Stacey books. Imagine my delight when I found one of your older books already on my TBR bookshelf.

  32. Angela James says:

    @ Rebecca M. The Captain Tightpants reference is from Firefly. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch it immediately. I’m not kidding.

  33. Oh yes, I’ve seen Firefly. If Joss Whedon filmed an ant crossing the sidewalk, I’d watch it. Must have missed the CT reference somehow, but I should have known it came from the show. His writers have such a specific, smart voice.

  34. Stephanie Yarns says:

    Take one enchanted laptop that makes anything you type come true. Add in Captain Tightpants, Dean Winchester, and Angel. Mix continuously over high heat. I do mean continuously… Sigh

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