Interview with Renee Stevens

Today we welcome Renee Stevens to my website. She has recently had a wonderful book published by Dreamspinners Press, called No More Hiding. Below is an interview with Renee.

Enjoy.

Taylin:  No More Hiding looks to be really interesting and a story that many will identify with. What was the inspiration behind it? 

Renee:  I hope people enjoy it. You see, or hear, so often about custody battles and how the mother is most likely to win custody. I just kept thinking, what if a gay dad was to win custody, and the ex-wife didn’t like it. Things similar to this happen all the time, a non-custodial parent kidnapping their kids. I did a search on percentages just the other day, and in a 2013 article, the FBI website stated: “An analysis of all FBI child abduction cases where a motivation was known shows that custodial-motivated abductions—in which a son or daughter is taken against the will of the child and the custodial parent—have increased from 9 percent in fiscal year 2010 to 50 percent in fiscal year 2012.”  For No More Hiding, I wanted to explore that, despite it not being a warm/fuzzy topic.

Taylin:  Wow, I knew that mother’s usually won custody, but I had no idea of the actual percentages on child abductions. I can see why you would want to explore it the way you did.

I can only imagine the feelings you went through while writing No More Hiding. With that in mind, what journey of emotions are we likely to experience while reading No More Hiding?

Renee:  Based on what others have said, including those who edited it, most people are likely to run the gamut of emotions. There were times my editors were asking if we could kill one of the characters. There are “aww” moments and happy moments, and then again there are those moments that readers will either simply tear up or actually cry. I freely admit that there are scenes in No More Hiding that I bawled as I wrote them.

Taylin:  I love a story that makes me experience a range of emotions. They’re my favorites.

It says in your bio that you initially started writing in your teens. What sort of stories did you write then?

Renee:  No laughing, but the first story I ever tried writing was about a killer mountain lion named Tom. I think I was in 7th or 8th grade at the time and my English teacher was great. She read what I had written so far and encouraged me to keep writing. Killer Tom never got finished and when I look back on it now, I cringe at all the mistakes in it. Later on in my teens, 9th grade through High School, I focused mainly on poetry.

Taylin:  Believe me I’m not laughing. In fact I had an ‘aww’ moment at that. Kudos to your English teacher for encouraging you.

Have your tastes in reading and writing changed since your teens?

Renee:  Oh, definitely. As a teenager I’d read the Nancy Drew series as well as the Hardy Boys. I was also really into reading The Babysitter Club books. I even enjoyed many of the stories that we had to read for school, such as those by Shakespeare, and then when I got into High School, I really got into Mythology. Now, my favorites to read are shifter stories along with some contemporary, and I’m even starting to enjoy some Sci-Fi books.

Taylin:  That’s some range. Classic, I loved the Hardy Boys – especially the series. They were among my teenage crushes. Gotta say I am a bit of a Sci-Fi nut, so am with you on reading that.

How has your writing style changed since your teens?

Renee:  I’d have to go back and look at everything I wrote back then, but I don’t write much poetry anymore. I’ve learned as I’ve gone along, and I think the biggest change in my writing style comes from knowledge as to what I did wrong back then. I’ve learned what head hopping is, I’ve learned about Author Voice, and I do my best now to keep those two things out of any story I write.

Taylin:  Experience brings knowledge, and that does change you.

You have written mostly contemporary stories. What other genres have you written in and are there any you would like to delve into in the future?

Renee:  I have actually written a vampire novel as well as a vampire short story. I’m actually currently revising the novel in hopes to submit it. I’ve also delved into shifter stories. I have one dragon shifter novella that I self-published and I have quite a few shifter short stories in various stages on my computer.

Taylin:  Cool. Good luck with the vampire story. I’m guessing your love of mythology steers you toward the shifter stories.

How did you discover the world of M/M?

Renee:  I honestly can’t remember exactly how I came across it, but if I remember right, the first M/M story I ever read was by Sara Bell and was called “The Magic In Your Touch”. At the time, I was writing M/F stories, but I also knew that with all the stories out there, getting anything published or noticed would be quite the challenge. After reading “TMIYT” I wondered if I should try writing M/M stories. I decided to give it a shot, with some encouragement from some great friends I’d met, and wrote Eternity. I’m the first to admit that Eternity is a bit rough, but people did enjoy it and then I was hooked.

Taylin:  What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

Renee:  Revising. It’s easier for me to write a story from scratch than to revise. I think that’s because I already know where the story has gone, plus there’s the little cringe worthy moments when I look at something I wrote and do the whole “Really? What was I thinking?” Unfortunately, as I learn more, revising is a necessary evil.

Taylin:  Oh God, I’m in total agreement with you there. Revising is a bitch.

If you were to give a little advice to aspiring writers what would it be?

Renee:  There’s a couple things. The first, and most important, is to never stop learning and trying to improve.

Taylin:  Amen to that. Excellent advice.

While reading, is there a word or phrase that makes you cringe and why?

Renee:  Not so much a word or phrase, but head hopping makes me cringe every time I see it, especially in my own stories. I look back at some of my first stories and find myself going “Wait a minute, how would he know that?!” For anyone who doesn’t know what I mean when I say head hopping, it’s when you’re doing a scene or a chapter in one person’s POV (say your main character) and suddenly you have a block of writing that is giving the inner thoughts of an entirely different character. It can be confusing.

Taylin:  Agreed that can be annoying. Sometimes it can alter the whole perspective of a scene or chapter. That kind of thing can also make people lose interest.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Renee:  I have no intention of stopping writing. In the future, I plan to finish all those stories that are in various stages of completion. Right now though, I’m working on revising my vampire novel “Joined by Blood” in hopes to submit and publish it. 

Taylin:  Chuffed to hear that we will be reading more from you. I’m sure everyone will be keeping an eye out for your stories.

Now onto some more abstract questions.

Who is your favorite Disney character?

Renee:  Ouch, this is a hard one. When I was growing up I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid and would have said Sebastian, he certainly gave the cook a run for his money. Now, it’s a hard decision, because I love Disney movies and there are so many characters. If I had to choose one, and I’m assuming it doesn’t have to be an animated Disney movie, I think it would be Paul Walker’s character in Eight Below. I absolutely love his dedication to the dogs and his attitude of not giving up no matter what.

Taylin:  Ha ha, oh Sebastian, loved him. Cool with Eight Below.

If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Renee:  My brother and my grandpa. I miss both of them so much and would love a chance to get to sit down and talk to them. My brother died when I was 13 and my grandpa passed away that same year, 2 days after Christmas. We always said that Grandpa knew we needed him with us for Christmas, but he needed to be with my brother for his birthday.

Taylin:  Wow. I have a lump in my throat now.

And finally, in the Simpsons, which character do you identify most with?

Renee:  Lisa. Not really sure I can explain why, but that’s the one I’d say I identify most with.

Huge thanks to Renee for joining me. I have truly enjoyed asking and reading the answers to my questions. I hope No More Hiding is a blockbuster and I wish you all the best for the future.

If you haven’t already – go out and buy NO MORE HIDING – by Renee Stevens.

MORE INFO BELOW

***Available Now***

 

Dreamspinner Press – eBook

Dreamspinner Press – Paperback

Blurb

Phillip Jorgensen tried to live the straight life and ended up divorced. But he wouldn’t trade his two kids, Jacob and Samantha, for the world. His ex-wife has kidnapped them and he's been searching for them for six long years. But he’s not giving up—never, not for anything. His twin brother has encouraged him to start living again, but how is he going to find romance with all his baggage?

When he meets Vance Pierce at the new gym, Phillip sees a chance to find some happiness.

Phillip has to explain the whole sordid mess to Vance and pray that he understands that he’ll never stop looking for his children. That’s easier said than done. Telling Vance might be risky. Is their connection strong enough to convince Vance to stay? Or will he think that Phillip is too damaged to love? This is Phillip's chance at the life he never thought he could have. But is it possible?

Excerpt

“PLEASE THINK about what you’re doing.” Robert reached out and snatched Phillip’s tux jacket out of his hand. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Yes, I do.” Phillip took his jacket back and forced a smile for his identical twin brother. “You know how Mom and Dad are. They’re never going to give up until they have both of us married off.”

“How can you pretend to be something you’re not? You’re gay, Phillip. Just tell them. Put an end to this farce of a wedding.”

Phillip stopped in the act of putting on his jacket and smiled sadly at his brother. He wasn’t surprised Robert was trying to talk him out of getting married. This wasn’t the first time since he’d announced his engagement that they’d had this conversation.

“You don’t understand.” Phillip finished getting dressed and stepped forward until he stood toe-to-toe with his brother. “Mom and Dad will never accept me being gay, you know that. This is my only chance.”

“Your chance for what? Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me that you’re ready to live a lie for the rest of your life?”

“You’re acting like I don’t love her.” That was one thing Phillip could honestly say—he did love Janice. Maybe not in the typical way a man was supposed to love his wife, but he was sure he could make her happy.

“I’ve tried. God help me, I’ve tried to understand, but this is wrong in so many ways. Stand up to them. Tell them what you want, not what you think they want to hear. There’s other ways for you to have kids. You don’t have to get married to do that.”

“I can’t,” Phillip admitted. “You’ve always been the stronger of the two of us. You’ve never given a rat’s ass what Mom and Dad thought of you. I’ve always envied that. This is what I have to do, and as much as I’d like to have your support, I’m doing this either way.”

“You’ll always have my support. I just hope you don’t end up regretting this.” Robert touched his shoulder and smiled sadly.

“I know what I’m doing.” He did. Phillip wasn’t going into this marriage half-cocked. He’d thought about it a lot, and marrying Janice was what he wanted. He headed to the altar to do just that, his brother trailing behind him.

Author Bio

Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties.  Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal.  When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on GayAuthors.org in her capacity of admin and Anthology Coordinator.

Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters.  Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works. When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts.

When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors.  She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby.  Once back at home, it’s back to writing.

 

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