Author Interview with Jamie Sterling!
Hi, Jamie Sterling, welcome to the Indie Publishing Group website! Introduce yourself to us. Tell everyone who you are, where you’re from, what you enjoy doing, your hobbies and interests.
My name is Jamie Sterling. I live in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley and, while I’m not from here, I’ve grown to appreciate all that this area has to offer. I work in Manhattan and, yes, the commute is a killer, but being on the train gives me a lot of time to write, so I consider it a decent trade-off.
If I had to pick a few words to describe myself, I’d use orderly, passionate, eclectic, and curious. I realize those words are all over the map, but so am I in some ways.
I love karate (although I haven’t actively trained in a while) and have tried my hand at golf (I’m terrible). I go to the gym even though I don’t really enjoy it. I am also an aviation enthusiast (I have my private pilot’s license), a wine “sampler” and collector, and an amateur astronomer.
When did you start writing and why?
I’ve been writing since 4th grade. I remember being announced as a school-wide essay winner and, even though I can’t remember the topic, I do recall how much I enjoyed the process of crafting a story. That was the first time I thought I might want to write in some way as a career.
I started writing my first book by hand in 8th-grade by hand in a three-ring binder. I did a lot of it in study hall and during other free times, and one of my teachers was sure that I was writing some kind of account of my experiences in school. Unfortunately, he was way off – it’s a very cheesy work about a young hero basically saving the world. It’s buried deep, deep in my closet and will not see the light of day unless I become very, very famous.
I struggled to complete my first book for years, mostly because I like things to be orderly and organized, and I couldn’t figure out how to make the conflict necessary for a story. Four years ago, I was about 20,000 words into my latest attempt, and I realized my story was bogging down and I was probably going to fail again. But then the oddest thing happened. I was looking at the scene in my head (as I always do), not sure what to write next, when the female main character turned to scowl at me and say, “I would never have said that. Why would you think I would say that?” I looked around me, convinced I was going bonkers, but I was alone. Not sure what else to do, I asked her what she should have done, and she told me. I’m still not convinced that I haven’t developed some sort of disorder, but that instance taught me my most valuable lesson; to let my characters be who they are. I may create them, but then I have to let them go to live their lives in the pages of the book. That moment led to my first book, Captured Hunter, and now that’s how I work.
Which is your favorite book you have written and what gave you the idea for it?
My favorite book is always the one I just finished! Seriously, I do think it’s better than my other two, but that’s really because I’ve gotten better at my craft as I’ve gone along. But it’s also a departure from my first two books. They were erotic romances with a BDSM theme, but this one is more like an action/suspense romance.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
My first book, Captured Hunter, actually came to me while I was walking back from lunch at work. I was having a terrible time coming up with a name for the book and for the male main character. I was trying for a long time (and failing) to come up with a name for the MC, so in my free time I started doing the alphabet – all the male names I could think of that started with “A” and then all the names starting with “B” and so on. I got to H and was pretty discouraged with those names – I thought of “Huey” and then decided to move on to I when “Hunter” popped into my head. Immediately, I thought, “His name will be Hunter, and she will capture his heart.” So instead of the Hunter doing the capturing, he gets captured, and I had it.
Binding Contracts was pretty easy because I wanted both MCs to be constrained by rules and the business world they live in, only to break free from such limitations. It also has the word Binding in it, which hints at the BDSM aspects.
The title for Love at Point Blank Range has a lot of meanings in the title. First off, it combines two primary elements of the book – romance and action. It also suggests that love is right in front of the main characters. And the contrast of the two terms – the gentleness of love and the violent, gun-related point blank range – will make people stop and take notice.
What are some of the themes of your story?
The strongest theme is triumphing over self-doubt. I think every one of us lets our own doubts about our abilities and worth getting in the way of what we can accomplish. We have self-doubt about being accepted for who we are and what we want, and Self-redemption is the other thematic aspect. We aren’t perfect, but most people strive to be good, and that counts for something. Accepting that you will make mistakes and that you can ask for – and receive – forgiveness is crucial to learning who you are as a person.
What’s your process when you sit down and decide to start writing a book and do you have a system?
I need a really strong idea that appeals to me. As I mentioned above, once I have that starting idea and a vague concept of where I want to end up, I let my characters tell me what’s going to happen. I’m a pantser because my nature is to have everything all tidied up, so I have to let my characters be the disorganized ones in the relationship.
Who are some of your favorite characters and why?
In Captured Hunter, I really like Stephanie. She is smart and sexy and comfortable with being smarter than most men, and she won’t settle for being coddled. She’s overcome some serious odds to be a top-notch astronomer, and she’s proud of herself. I imagined her, outside of the story, occasionally leaning back in her office chair, looking at her doctorate and the awards she’s won, and indulging in a self-satisfied smile.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jennifer Probst is my inspiration in the romance genre. I’ve known Jennifer personally for many, many years and know how hard she worked to become one of the best at her craft. I’m in awe of her skill as a writer and I do what I can to emulate her while retaining my own style and voice. She has always offered advice and encouragement to me, and getting that from such a superstar is such a lift.
I’ve been a huge Tom Clancy fan for years, but not for the reasons everyone might suspect. I know he is the antithesis of romance, but the way he builds his characters, both heroic and antagonistic, is fascinating. You feel like you know Jack Ryan or John Clarke, and that brings out such strong feelings when those characters succeed or fail. The way he weaves their personalities into the minute details of the action (he knows everything about the gun the character is shooting, or how the plane they are flying on works) puts you right in the action.
I also enjoy Edgar Allen Poe. His story plots have a timeless quality, even though the language is of the period. He also manages to build suspense like no one I’ve ever read. It’s almost as if he wrote to ensure that you won’t put it down once you start.
Have you got anything you’re working on now?
I’m working on another romantic action/suspense. I just started it, so I’m not sure exactly where it’s going yet, but that’s half the fun. I find that action and suspense are great vehicles for moving the story along, and they also bring out the real essence of the character. It’s my personal belief that people act like their true selves when they are in crisis situations (i.e., life and death emergencies) or when they are drunk. I don’t think a book about a bunch of drunken characters will be that interesting, so it’s action and suspense to the rescue.
If you could have any superpowers what would they be?
I would like to be able to put a shield around me to block out people when I want or need some space and time to myself. I have a strong introverted streak and I can’t get enough time where I can isolate myself, cut out the noise of life, and just be alone. My writing time does give me some of that but, as weird as it might sound, when I’m writing I’m with my characters, and that means I’m not truly alone.
If you could travel to any location in the world where would you go?
I like my history, and I love the idea of seeing where history happened, so I think I’d want to go to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. I’ve read so many books about it that I now have to see how much room the attacking planes had to set up their torpedo runs, Battleship Row, the Arizona memorial, and so many other things.
As a close second, I’d like to go to Base Camp of the South Col Route to Mt. Everest. I am in no way interested in trying to climb it, but I would like to see the highest point in the world with my own eyes.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?
Realistically, I’d like to have a successful, part-time writing career while I continue to work my regular job. Of course, the true desire is to be a full-time writer making a great income, but I like to make my dreams realistic so that I have a good chance of achieving them. If I ever get to my idea of part-time success, maybe I’ll set a new goal for the next five years!
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