This is Stephanie Van Orman. She has been writing novels for 25 years and she writes romance novels with suspense, intrigue, fantasy, mystery and so much love! She used to write books under the handle Sapphirefly and wrote on fanfiction.net and fictionpress.com. In the past few years, she’s taken the leap and become an independent novelist. She can’t wait to entertain you with her stories!
So tell me how do you write a story? What’s your process?
When I get an idea for a new story, I usually just sit on it and I don’t tell a soul what I’m thinking about. Slowly, I’ll mark the incidents I want to have happen like marks on my arm starting at my shoulder. When I have enough marks that I’m touching my fingertips and I can’t quite keep all the incidents straight in my mind, I know it’s time to get writing.
An interesting tradition and I am certain, a very unique one.
A lot of ideas are good without being particularly good material to build on. This process stops me from getting too excited and helps me plan out something solid before I have wasted too much time at my keyboard.
What makes a good romance in life as well as in fiction?
I have written the kind of romance where the perfect man falls in love with our heroine and sweeps her off her feet so that she can’t see the ground. I’ve also written the kind of romance novel where our man is undeniably flawed and yet our heroine is still willing to die for him. In most romance novels, the man needs to be handsome, muscular, intelligent, wealthy and affluent. I like to break that as often as possible, by making him a few things the hero should never be. I want a love affair to be something that violates our desire for perfection. That’s what makes it seem like real love.
So you explore drama in your books as well as your personal relationships?
I wouldn’t say that. A romance novel needs to be about overcoming challenges. Almost all of my books urge the reader to forget about searching for perfection and instead grasp the love that is in front of you. My love life is smooth because I’m good at overcoming romantic challenges. Would you want to take advice from someone who had a rocky romantic life?
You have a way with words – when and how did you discover writing was your vocation?
I have always struggled with finding something good to read. When I was 13, I got the idea that if you can’t find the book you want to read, you’re going to have to write it yourself. My first few attempts at writing books were not good, every bit as bad as the things I rejected reading. I got the hang of it around book 12, and now my books are thrilling. They became so thrilling that I forgot how to do other things and now I write full time.
Can you summarize what have you learned about writing since your first attempts?
A good basic tip is that if you’re editing your book and you’re bored, no one else will want to read it. If you’re not on the edge of your seat (on your eighth reading) then it probably isn’t good enough. There’s a lot of competition in writing and people have an insane amount of choice. It doesn’t need to be good. It needs to be outstanding.
Define outstanding for a romance novel?
For starters, you need characters that are interesting, likable, and even attractive to you. In order to keep the reader interested, you need to make them care whether or not the two lovers are going to get together. It needs to become of paramount importance to the reader. I have skipped out on a lot of books moaning, “I don’t like him and I don’t like her and I don’t care if they end up together!” I have to care and if I’m the writer, I have to get the reader invested. That’s how you get someone to read all night and go to work the next morning with baggies under their eyes that their cover stick doesn’t cover.
How hot are your hot scenes?
I write with teenagers in mind, so not as hot as you’d think. When I think of my best hot scenes, I think of ‘Behind His Mask’ where Kalavan gets Serissa to strip him in front of the court. I think of when Hades gets Stella to stab Sethos in ‘Kiss of Tragedy’ five seconds before she makes out with him on the bed. It’s not just a love scene, it has an edge.
How do you create tension between lovers?
That is probably the most natural thing in my writing. I have always liked romance more than any other genre. It’s as simple as breathing. If you want to get into short cuts, someone can see someone kissing someone else and look jealous, or they can see the other person partly (or completely) undressed, or in some other compromised situation where they’re vulnerable. In real life, it’s rarely more complicated than just a glance.
What’s the gap between romantic books and reality?
In one, you’re reading a book and in the other, you’re not. Okay, it’s more complex than that, but a lot of writers intertwine their romance novels with their personal experiences. It’s a little inevitable, but I never do it on purpose. It’s fiction. I have a non-fiction book available about my love life if anyone is interested called ‘A Little like Scarlett: A Partial Autobiography’.
That’s very interesting! You felt comfortable to share your love life with your audience?
More than comfortable. It was more like something I absolutely had to do.
Because every author MUST tell any story she has that is unusual. If anything happens that is out of the ordinary, she MUST write it and share it.
Yes. When you have a talent you don’t have a choice.
What unusual romance happened to you?
The biggest reason I wanted to write the book is that my college roommates acted like they had no idea what a girl’s life was like when she was popular with men. They thought it was all cherries and roses with no downswings. Their complete ignorance of the difficulties of popularity and beauty made me want to tell the story of what happens in real life when a woman is exactly what every man wants.
You talk about being popular as if it is a personal tragedy?
It’s not really that. A lot of it is intentionally funny. It’s a collection of short dating experiences. I wanted to write it to explain my situation to women who were unsympathetic toward me.
Give me an example of a short dating experience that you find hilarious?
There was a boy who lived down the street from me who was very popular. I had friends who used to come to church with me just to watch him bless the sacrament. I enjoyed the company, but I didn’t see what they saw in him. He was adorable, the cutest thing really, but if I had to describe anything more about him, I would be at a loss.
One foggy, icy day I was walking home from school for lunch and this guy was walking five steps behind me. Four steps behind me. Two steps behind me.
And I just couldn’t help myself.
I slipped on the ice and he caught me, much to the fluttering of my heart.
I love this memory because when I intentionally slip on the ice or do a baseball slide; I do so with intention. If he had not caught me, I would have cracked my head open. Instead, he helped me up, and I felt like the little devil I knew I could be and walked the rest of the way home with him.
It was a fun day.
Maybe not hilarious, but pleasant and enjoyable.
Many thanks to Stephanie for a pleasant and enjoyable time together!