Shannon Stacey’s first foray into the world of romance novels came from her mother’s private stash. Though she still fondly recalls her favorite authors, she took to writing romance herself and today is releasing her 21st novel, Love a Little Sideways—a story she completed in-between family ATV rides.
Zola: Love a Little Sideways, your most recent romance, is your seventh installment on the Kowalski family. Where did you draw inspiration for such a lovable and true to form family? Can we expect more novels on the Kowalskis in the future?
Shannon Stacey: I have a large extended family that, despite a mish-mash of personalities, is very close. We laugh a lot, even through the hard times, and that’s something I bring to the Kowalski family. There are two more books in the series after Love A Little Sideways, thanks to readers who wanted happily-ever-afters for friends of the Kowalski family. While Liz is the last single Kowalski, we’ll definitely see the family again.
Zola: Before falling head-over-heels for Drew, protagonist Liz Kowalski moves back to her hometown in the aftermath of a relationship gone sour. Could you relate to Liz on the path to finding your Prince Charming?
SS: I did move back to New England after a relationship went sour, but I didn’t meet my husband until after that, so Liz and I don’t have much in common there. None of the heroines in the Kowalski series are drawn directly from my past experiences, but I think it’s inevitable that situations I or people I know have lived through will find their way into a book. As a writer, I’m going to have a stronger emotional connection to a scenario I’ve experienced, either personally or through a loved one, so it’s more likely to find its way to the page.
Zola: You’ve said your two favorite activities are writing happily-ever-afters and riding your four-wheeler. How did you get into riding ATVs?
SS: About ten years ago, I urged my husband to buy an ATV because I’m a firm believer a spouse/parent needs to get away from the family once in a while. He started riding with some friends, but then he made the mistake of letting me ride it. It wasn’t very long before I had my own machine and refused to be left behind. From then on we’ve four-wheeled as a family, but he has snowmobiling as his “me time”. My sons and I prefer reading as a winter activity.
Zola: You’re a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and have written contemporary, historical, and erotic romances. How did you first get into writing romance stories? Did you have a favorite romance author or book growing up?
SS: I’ve written for as long as I remember, but I started writing romances in my teens, after a painful trip through bad horror and worse poetry. Once I began sneaking my mom’s romance novels out of her room (as so many of us did), I fell in love with the genre. I started with historical romances, particularly Jude Devereaux, but eventually started reading every romance I could get my hands on. The author I’ve loved the longest, though, would be Linda Lael Miller.
Zola: Have your sons and husband read any of your books? Have they ever served as inspired characters you’ve written?
SS: My sons haven’t, but my husband has read all of the books in my Kowalski series. The Kowalski kids are a little more rowdy than my sons, but there are bits and pieces of them in the book. It’s the same with my husband. None of the heroes are my husband, but there are glimpses. He loves his family, is great with kids, and hates the rare occasion he has to let me drive.
Zola: What can you tell us about your next novel, Snow Day, which comes out on New Year’s Day?
SS: Snow Day is an anthology I was thrilled to write along with two other fabulous authors, Jennifer Greene and Barbara Dunlop. The three stories are all tied together by a sudden storm in Tucker’s Point, Maine, and it was my first time writing a connected story. My novella, “Heart of the Storm”, is about Brody Rollins, who has reluctantly returned to his hometown to meet his sister’s newborn son. He thinks he’s going to get in and get out, but he ends up at the emergency shelter with his sister and nephew…and the woman whose heart he broke. I loved Brody because he has to face the emotional impact of seeing Delaney again, but also come to terms with his past, his parents, and the community.
Zola: Are you working on any other exciting projects for 2014 that readers should look out for?
SS: 2014 will also bring two more books in the Kowalski series so those friends can have their happy endings! Taken With You is about Hailey Genest, the town librarian and friend of the Kowalski family, and releases April 29th. And in Falling For Max later in the year, Max Crawford decides it’s time to find a wife. If only it was that easy.
Zola: Looking forward to these great reads coming up—thanks for chatting with us, Shannon!
SS: Thank you so much for inviting me to talk about Love A Little Sideways and my future releases!
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.