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.