Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An Interview with FB Editor Rhonda Stapleton

Today I'm chatting with Freya's Bower Associate Editor, and my YA critique partner, Rhonda Stapleton.

Amanda: Welcome Rhonda. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Rhonda: Hello - my name is Rhonda, and I'm a peanut butter cup-a-holic. Seriously, I'm an editor for Siren Publishing and Freya's Bower/Wild Child Publishing. I'm also an editor for Thomson West, a legal publishing company. I have a Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in English. I'm divorced with two crazy children and a wonderful boyfriend, and I have all of my Christmas shopping done. bwahahahaaaaaa - you know you're jealous...

Amanda: Christmas shopping? Sheesh. I don't even bother to think about that until mid-December. Maybe it's good I don't have kids. LOL! So, Rhonda, how did you get your start in writing?

Rhonda: When I was in elementary school, I wrote a brilliant, stirring story about Pocahontas and won an award for it. Since then, I was hooked. I've always been a writer, even if it was mostly just in my head, at first. I'm one of those neutoric people who will have a whole conversation with someone in my head that never actually happened. There were several times I was ticked at someone for what they said to me in my head. At that point, I figured it was either time to go to therapy or try writing. Well, writing is cheaper, so it won out.

My first novel was a chick lit that took me two years to complete. It didn't start as a chick lit - it started as short contemporary, then gradually evolved into chick lit when the lines I was targeting starting dying off (i.e., Flipside, Temptation). My second novel, a YA, is about 20 pages from the end and has only taken about 3 months to write...that's a bit more reasonable.

Amanda: I know what you mean. It took me two years to write my first full-length manuscript but only a couple of months to write the second. Funny how that works, huh? Anyway, how did you make the jump into editing?

Rhonda: Just as much as I love writing, I love editing. In undergrad and graduate school, friends were always giving me their papers to clean up. I worked in the writing center as a tutor during grad school to help fund my schooling, and that was awesome. Eventually, it spread into editing manuscripts. I do quite a bit of freelance editing, as well, which helps fund my peanut butter cup addiction.

Amanda: LOL! What do you look for in a story?

Rhonda: I love compelling characters. If they're memorable and unique, all the better. I love snappy dialogue and fun plot twists, too. I don't have a particular genre that I love more...if the writing is strong, I don't care - it can be historical, horror, romance, or whatever.

Amanda: What do writers do that immediately turn you off?

Rhonda: Turn-offs - I dislike when writers rely too much on crutch words (e.g., using "as" or starting sentences with "ing" too much). I also don't like when dialogue is too bogged down with excessive tags or action, or when writers use proper names frequently (or even worse, the ever-dreaded info dump, where the author uses dialogue to catch the reader up on stuff the characters already know, so they have no good reason to be talking about it). Basically, make the dialogue realistic!! That's one of my pet peeves.

I don't like one-sided characters, either. Don't be afraid to let your characters make mistakes, snap at other people, be cranky, or do dumb stuff. They're people, after all. On the flip side, don't be afraid to let your "bad guy" have a softer side or do something that's not wholly evil.

Amanda: What are your favorite genres to read?

Rhonda: I try to read widely - it keeps my mind fresh and actually benefits my writing, as well as my editing. I love literary fiction, sweeping sagas, historicals (I'm on a big kick right now of Henry VIII-era historicals, revolving around Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth, etc.), horror (well-written, and not just gory for the sake of gore), and humor. I adore funny books that make me laugh.

Amanda: And what about your favortie genres to write?

Rhonda: I like writing chick lit and YA. I find that's my general tone, so I just kind of aligned with it.

Amanda: Me too. Who are your favorite authors?

Rhonda: Oooooh, this one is hard. I love Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds (swoon), Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, Phillipa Gregory, Sophie Kinsella, and many, many more...

Amanda: What are you working on at the moment?

Rhonda: I'm currently wrapping up the first draft of my second novel, a YA paranormal chick lit. I'm also doing freelance editing, and I offer self-editing workshops.

Amanda: Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. And I can attest that your YA paranormal chick lit totally rocks, but you need to finish it! I need to know what happens! LOL!

Thanks for coming to chat with us today!

Posted by Amanda Brice :: 7:17 AM :: 15 comments

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