Friday, April 13, 2012

Interview with Gabi Stevens

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Gabi Stevens. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us again at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Wishful Thinking. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Wishful Thinking is the third book and final book in my paranormal romance series about fairy godmothers. Each book in the trilogy focused on an individual fairy godmother, and this one’s Stormy’s story. Born to magical parents, Stormy has no powers until her twenty-seventh birthday, and then she discovers she is chosen to be a fairy godmother. Suddenly her life as an artist is upended, and the magical Council assigns a guard to keep her from going rogue as the first two godmothers have done. Hunter Merrick is determined to keep Stormy in line—it’s his job and he does it well, but he doesn’t expect her to be so tempting. Of course, what’s a woman to do when someone threatens the magical world and the only way to save it is to join sides with the rogues? And what’s a Guard to do when his charge becomes a fugitive?

Wishful Thinking is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Every book in the series has “wish” in the title: The Wish List, As You Wish and now Wishful Thinking. My editor and I wanted titles that reflect the lighter tone of the stories, tied all three books together, and were familiar enough to readers to be easily remembered.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have loved stories with magic since I was a child. I grew up on the Brothers Grimm (and later went on to study them in college—even spending a year at the university they taught at in Germany), devoured the books by Edward Eager, and delighted in the Prydian Chronicles by Alexander Lloyd. Bedknobs and Broomsticks was always one of my favorite movies, and I watched countless hours of Bewitched and I Dream of Genie. Years passed, but I never lost my love of the paranormal. Then with the resurgence of magic thanks to JK Rowling, I thought it was time to write my own books about magic and people with magical abilities. And what better subject than the return to my first love of the Grimm Fairy Tales.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I am most definitely a pantser. The idea of an outline gives me hives. I know the basics before I sit down to write—the main characters and maybe one or two sentences about what happens in the book, but otherwise I let the story unfold as it appears in my head. It’s not the most efficient method—I took out two entire chapters in the rewrite of Wishful Thinking and replaced with content completely different than what existed in the rough draft, but the new stuff is much better and tightened and drove the story so much more. I don’t think I’ve written a book where I haven’t changed significant parts on the rewrite.

But cool things happened as well—the type of event I like to call my own magic. In Wishful Thinking, events come together with elements that appeared in the first book. I didn’t plan this out. The second book had even more such elements and when I discovered that all three stories came together in such a complex way, I was blown away because I really did not know it would happen. For example this was my sales pitch for the third book (sold at the same time as the first book):

Free-spirit Stormy Jones-Smythe lives in a loving community of artists, but when she is chosen as the third fairy godmother, the Arcani world forces its boundaries and expectations on her. Luckily even a rigid and strict bodyguard can’t contain her exuberance.

When pitching the first book, I had no idea Stormy would end up being a weaver, and that a tapestry, which appears in the first book, becomes an important element in the third. Weird, right? My husband dismisses the “magic” as simple the plot working in my own brain, and he’s probably right, but there are other examples as well. You can read Wishful Thinking as a stand-alone book, but there are definite threads that weave through all three stories.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

One of the best things about writing paranormal books is that you get to make stuff up. My rules for the magic, my rules for the world. If I want to make vampires sparkle, I can (What? That’s been done?)

However, the series is set in San Diego. I went to school there, my husband grew up there, my father-in-law still lives there. I love San Diego. I made sure to drive around my locations whenever I visited, I used maps and Google Earth to see the places, and I looked up a word I needed in Old English. I also used my knowledge of Latin for some of the spells. But I did check everything.

And, yes, the minke whale that appears in the story is based on an actual event that happened when I was walking along the shore in LaJolla. The entire boardwalk rippled with excitement, pointing at the whale, waiting to see it reappear on the surface of the ocean, and everyone was smiling. That was a magical moment in real life.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Of course, I love my hero and heroine, but I tend to enjoy my secondary characters best. In this book, I have to say Tank, my hero’s best friend, was the most fun to write. He is confident, sexy guy, who had me laughing almost every time he spoke. And of course the three old fairy godmothers. These three wise women are the guiding force for the young godmothers. They appear in all three books, but in Wishful Thinking, I have to say Hyacinth stands out. She delivers the best one-liners, and if I ever get to be her age, I want to be just like her.
One last mention about characters: In As You Wish, I had two special characters, Joy and Tommy, bakers who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). My daughter has IDD, and I’ve pledged ten percent of my royalties from that book to Best Buddies International, an organization devoted to building friendships for people with IDD.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

My characters pop into my head almost fully formed. I know who they are, how they think, what their likes and dislikes are. I know their backgrounds, but little of it comes out in the story except where relevant. So I don’t do character interviews or sheets. Stormy was one of my more difficult characters to write because she isn’t like me in so many ways. Above, I mentioned she is a free-spirit. I can only admire free-spirits because I’m not one myself. I love rules. And Hunter is a member of a military like group, the Guards. I have no exposure to the military mindset except what I have read. But I can conceive of believing in something so strongly you’d be willing to die for it. I love stretching myself into other lives—lives I haven’t experienced—and learning from my characters.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I have a list of authors who inspire me: Mark Twain and his wonderful wit, Isaac Asimov and his crisp story lines, Ray Bradbury and his use of language (oh, wow, his use of language puts everyone else to shame), Agatha Christie and her constant freshness, Christopher Moore, Stephen King, Malcolm Gladwell, Eloisa James, Teresa Medeiros, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mercedes Lackey, and the list could go on and on and on.

I have to mention Jodi Thomas and Lori Wilde. They have been special friends to me and have encouraged me and mentored me throughout the years. They always inspire me to try harder and to keep going when I have my doubts.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I made little bottles of fairy dust and miniature wands out of beads to give to readers. Did it work? Who knows, but I had fun making them and giving them away. And from what I’ve heard from those who received them, they loved them. Otherwise, I’d say blog appearances, reviews, and having a web presence is about the best thing you can do to promote yourself.

What do we have to look forward next?

My agent is pitching a series right now about a town in the Rockies that has unusual inhabitants. Cross your fingers. And I have an ebook out for Kindle and Nook (other formats are coming soon, I promise, and may already be there, if the lag time between this writing and its appearance is long enough) under the name Gabi Anderson. Temptation’s Warrior is a re-release of one of my backlist historical novels. No magic in it at all.

Thanks, Gabi!

To celebrate her book release, Gabi is offering a free book of The Wish List or As You Wish to two lucky commenters on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Gabi Stevens travels the world with her robotics engineer husband and her three incredible daughters (Reality: she went to Europe last summer with her family, but lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico). Because she is fluent in three languages and knows Latin, her abilities are in demand from many different factions (Reality: she has Hungarian relatives who needed her to translate to her family and students to whom she taught English and Latin) and her knowledge has helped numerable writers in their quest for publication (Reality: she has presented many writing workshops and has a critique group). Her latest novels feature fairy godmothers. Her current release is Wishful Thinking, from Tor books. Gabi claims no magical powers of her own. You can find her at, at her blog,, or on Twitter or Facebook, unless she’s off on one of her world tours (Reality: she’s at home with her two dogs).

Discover the magic:
Check out author’s website at or You can also find her at Facebook and Twitter. Buy Wishful Thinking April 24, 2012.


Anonymous said...

Good morning Gabi. Thanks for joining us again here. I think it's appropriate to have a paranormal author here on Friday 13th. I've gotten a late start this morning so the chocolate and coffee is a bit late. Sorry. I love the fairy godmother idea. Wish I had one of them myself sometimes. :) Since you're a panster-which would drive me crazy-how did you manage to keep things straight between the books? Enjoy your day with us and let me know if you need anything.

Gabi Stevens said...

Once I had the details of book one cemented, I just made sure that I didn't forget them for book two and three. I did use the previous books as resources for WISHFUL THINKING. For example, all three wands for the new fairy godmothers appeared in THE WISH LIST. I made sure to go back to the text before describing them again in AS YOU WISH and WISHFUL THINKING. In WISHFUL THINKING, Stormy doesn't have a choice in wands because the other two are gone, but her wand was destined for her anyway. But the description happened in THE WISH LIST. I also referred back to text for the description of the outgoing fairy godmothers. I knew what they looked like in my head, but just to be sure, I would always refer to the original description. I suppose it would have ben better organization to keep a series"bible" but I'm not that organized.

Linda Andrews said...

Hi Gabi,

I enjoyed the interview. I too am a fan of fairy tales. Is Tank a dog or a person? The books sound delightful. Will your new series also be paranormal?

Gabi Stevens said...

Tank (real name Oliver Bryant) is a person. But it would make a good dog's name. I have a dog, Tonks, but she's named after another literary character.
And yes, the new series is also paranormal. Now it just needs to sell (Hey, Universe, are you listening?)

Anonymous said...

Great interview Miss. Gabi. I have so enjoyed your first two books in the series. I love the lighthearted approach you take with the paranormal element in your writing. I must admit, the dark paranormal stories can be a bit draining. It's nice to see humor and the lighter side of paranormal in your work.


catslady said...

One of the best things about blogs is finding new authors. It sounds like a delightful series. Are the books stand alone? Great interview and I love many of the same authors.

Ann Duran said...

Hi Gabi,
I love San Diego and feel privileged to get to spend the summers there. It's wonderful to be able to world build and make things up--that's why I love writing in the paranormal genre.

Best wishes for your success!

Gabi Stevens said...

Thank you, Addison. Dark has its place, but I need light.
Catslady, Although the books are a series, I did intend for each book to stand alone. Each book has its own love story. I hope you check them out. Or win one!
Ann, San Diego is one of my favorite places in the world. I'm lucky enough to go visit fairly often.

Estella said...

I love stories that have interesting supporting characters!

Gabi Stevens said...

I love love love my secondary characters. They are allowed the freedom the main characters can't have.

bn100 said...

Congratulations on the book! Very nice interview. I like the title.