Welcome, today we are talking with Sadira Stone! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, let’s delve into who you are. Some of the questions may be untraditional but you’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.

Can you share a little something about Sadira Stone that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?

My pen name comes from an earlier chapter in my life. In my twenties, I performed as a belly dancer, gigging regularly at parties and businesses. I was usually hired by some guy’s wife or secretary to surprise him on his birthday. In I’d flutter, skirts flying, coin belt jingling, big fluffy wig bouncing. (Not much else bounced—I was very thin back then.) I’d recite a little poem praising the birthday boy for all his fine qualities, then perform to the lilting strains of my giant boom box. It was common practice to adopt a stage name to deter creeps who might otherwise hunt you down.   

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Since I was ten or so, though I didn’t try writing a novel until my late forties—too busy working full time and raising a family. I’ve always been a bookworm, so why not write my own? 

How long have you been writing?

Going on ten years now.

What have you found most challenging about it?

Honestly, the discipline and focus are challenging for my squirrel brain. Coffee helps. So does the Pomodoro method: set a timer for 25 minutes and write, allowing zero interruptions. No checking social media, no daydreaming, just write. Then get up and do something else for at least five minutes before diving in for another session.

What does writing do for you? Is it fun, cathartic, do you get emotional or exhausted when you write?

Oh, it’s definitely therapeutic. We all fantasize about that perfect zingy comeback, about that nasty person getting their comeuppance, about hard-headed loved ones finally listening and really understanding us. I get to do all that on paper. 

Describe what your writing routine looks like. Are you disciplined with a strict schedule or do you have to be in the mood?

I roll out of bed, pull on gym clothes, and dive in. Some days I tackle correspondence first—emails, social media, blog posts, etc. Once the coffee rush hits, I try to spend that peak focus time on my work in progress. On a good day, I’ll write until early afternoon. 

Did you go into writing thinking that it would be a hobby or a job?

Job—one that I love. 

What inspires you?

Like so many writers, I’ve read entertaining books published by the Big Five and thought, “I could do as well.” There’s also a joy in exercising your creative muscles and your imagination. I think that creative impulse is vital to our mental health. My outlet is writing; another’s might be cooking or gardening or weaving or painting or…

Let’s move on and give readers some insight into your personal life.

 What is your favorite:

  • Animal – Goats. My Nana raised them. They’re smart and hilarious.
  • Food – Cheese is my kryptonite.
  • Movie – How to choose? How about French Kiss?
  • TV show – Cop dramas and courtroom dramas.
  • Singer – Bonnie Raitt, Beth Hart, Melissa Etheridge
  • Author –Too many to list! Tessa Dare, Damon Suede, Lauren Dane, Shelly Laurenston, Alicia Rai, Alyssa Cole, Helen Huang… I like stories that balance angst, humor, and plenty of spice while remaining upbeat overall.

 What are your pet peeves?

Rude drivers! Put down your phone and pay attention! Use your turn signal! Don’t try to pass on the on ramp or off ramp! Washington drivers are awful. Grrr.

 Who is your hero?

Teachers, like Lizbeth Marr, my high school drama teacher, who truly inspire and encourage their students. 

Give us one thing on your bucket list.

Winning a RITA

What would readers find surprising about you?

I’ve lived in Germany longer than I’ve lived in the U.S.

If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?

My dad, his father, and both grandmothers. 

Any bad habits?

See above: squirrel brain.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

I was driving home from a belly dance gig, in full sparkly regalia. A cop pulls me over—this is Alabama in the 80s. I think, “I am so getting out of this ticket,” expecting the usual Good Ol’ Boy cop. The police officer strides up to my car and, with a perfect poker face, eyes me up and down, then asks for my license and registration. Lady cop, tall, elegant, and not a bit impressed with my fancy outfit. Served me right.

Now that our readers know who Sadira Stone is let’s get down to the business of your book, Runaway Love Story, book 2 in your, The Book Nirvana Series.  How long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was completely finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?

About a year. This is book two in the Book Nirvana series, so the setting and main characters were already in place. Doug, the hero, doesn’t get the girl (woman, actually) in book one, so I wanted to give him a chance at finding his mate. The title refers to the fact that both main characters are runners, and to the viral Twitter story that complicates their connection.

Please tell us a little bit about, Runaway Love Story.

Set in/around an indie bookshop in Eugene, Oregon, RLS features Laurel, a tall, lanky runner and aspiring gallery owner who loves art but believes she has no talent. Her biggest fault: when the going gets tough, she runs away. On her way to San Francisco, she detours to Eugene to help her great aunt Maxie move into assisted living. 90 years old with flaming red hair (what’s left of it), wacky outfits, and a wicked sense of humor, Maxie is the only member of Laurel’s family who supports her artistic dreams.

Doug Garvey, a high school history teacher, is the quintessential beta hero: also tall and lanky, with a shaved head and golden scruff, he’s resourceful, supportive, and his smile turns his bony face into something dazzling. On a run along the Willamette River, he rescues Laurel from a gang of teens harassing her. Their connection sizzles, but she’s just passing through, convinced a sparkly, big-city career is what she needs to be happy. And he’s tethered to Eugene, where he cares for his elderly parents.

Sparks fly. So do clothes. But the clock’s ticking down to good-bye—until unexpected success, a viral Twitter story, and a long-overdue confrontation with her parents shake Laurel’s assumptions about success and happiness.

What was your hardest challenge writing this book?

In writing a series, you have to stick with the timeline and parameters set out in book one. 

What kind of research did you have to do?

Well, I had to visit Eugene, Oregon! I’ve scoured that town from top to bottom via Google Earth and visited key sites in the story, especially Alton Baker Park and the riverside running paths. I also had to research photography, running gear, historical erotica (for the bookshop), graphic design, Alzheimer’s symptoms, local brewers… 

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

Both are plain-spoken, down-to-earth types, though Laurel’s trying to wear sophistication like a costume. Both are athletic, comfortable with their bodies, and deeply connected to someone suffering from dementia.

How many books do you plan to write in the series, and can you tell us a little bit about book 1, Through the Red Door?

For now, I think book three will be the last, though I may add a novella featuring Darcy, an important character in books one and three. I’m eager to move on to a new series centered around a neighborhood tavern in Tacoma, my hometown.

Through the Red Door is Clara’s story. Widowed owner of Book Nivana, she’s struggling to keep her shop afloat. Her best chance: the shop’s extensive collection of historical erotica, kept behind a locked red door. Her late husband curated that room, and she’s not yet ready to face the painful memories triggered whenever she steps through that door. But when her dastardly landlord raises the rent, she finds the help she needs in two men: Nick, a visiting professor who reignites passion she thought she’d never feel again, and Doug, a local guy who makes her feel safe and comforted. Choosing between them is wrenching. Just when she makes her choice, she uncovers a scandal that shatters her trust. Meanwhile, her shop’s about to go under… 

Any other works in progress?

Book three in the series features Margot, Clara’s young shop assistant, and Elmer, a cocky, bearded ceramics artist introduced in Runaway Love Story.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Learn your craft. Take classes, read craft books, and find critique partners to ensure your inner vision of your story translates well on the page. Be open to constructive criticism. Yeah, it’s your story, but consider the feedback you get from readers—especially from those who know your genre well.

Final words?

Thanks so much for this opportunity to meet your readers!

Please include the following links:

Website:  http://sadirastone.com

Blog:  http://sadirastone.com

Email: sadira@sadirastone.com

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