Jamie Sterling

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I’ve been writing something since I was about five years old. I can remember hand-writing stories in a spiral notebook and bringing them to my parents to get their opinions. I took every creative writing class I could in high school and college, wrote for my school and local newspapers, and wrote whatever creative thoughts popped into my head. In 8th grade, I spent my free time in and after school composing a short, handwritten novel that was some sort of combination of all of my interests at the time woven into a crime thriller. I no longer have that notebook, but I can remember the story almost verbatim (but I won’t recite it unless I’ve had way too many drinks!).

I’m a fairly practical type of person so, while my heart wanted to be a novelist, I entered first into the world of journalism, and then technical writing. It paid the bills, but I warn you: if you do it five days a week and you don’t manage to exercise your creative writing muscles in some way with relative frequency, you might lose it. I nearly did—in my late 20s and early 30s, everything I wrote was about the latest software feature of my company, executive marketing material, or directions to perform this task or that task. I still had good ideas, but it seemed to get harder and harder to follow through and complete the works I started.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was suffocating that creative muscle.

As often happens, sometimes bad news turned out to be good news. I got fired from a job that took up all of my time, and I was devastated, thinking my career had been ruined. In order to keep food on the table, I took a long-term contract position as a technical writer with a major, to remain unnamed US corporation. Well, they may have had a requirement to have someone in this position, but they certainly didn’t have much work to go along with it. I had a couple of weekly tasks and, when a document came through, I had to review and edit it, but that added up to about 10 hours of work each week. The rest of the time was kind of boring, and I figured that my growth in the corporate world was over.

To my surprise, my boss literally took vacation from the day before Thanksgiving to the day after New Year’s. There was no development work permitted during this period, leaving me with absolutely nothing to do and no one to care. One day, I pulled out my personal laptop and starting writing. Eight hours a day, five days a week, I worked my way through the early chapters, doing everything I could to make believable characters and an engaging story. Even when my boss came back, he didn’t bother me very much, so I continued to sit in my little cubicle in the corner and pound away on the keyboard.

As usual, after about 25,000 words, I began to run out of steam. My characters became two-dimensional, quashing any conflict that might have driven the story, and I knew that this book would join all of the other ones in the “Books in Progress” folder on my laptop. Without having much else to do, I continued to plug away stubbornly, writing forced scenes that really didn’t work.

One day, I was reading a terrible passage in the book and wondering if I could ever make it work when I had an epiphany. Envisioning the scene as a movie in my head (which I always do when writing or reviewing any creative work), my heroine character turned toward me, anger etched all over her facial features, and yelled, “Why the hell would I not get mad about this?!”

This had never happened to me before. My character had become her own person and was speaking to me without any conscious direction on my part! Unsure whether I was having a breakdown, I entered her mind (or she entered mine, I’m still not sure) and the story just flowed. It might sound overly dramatic, but my fingers flew and I entered that zone where everything works. I couldn’t type her thoughts fast enough. And, once her part was over and it was the hero’s turn to respond, I asked him what he thought and allowed him to tell me. That’s the day I became a writer. I finished the book in the next four weeks, and that book is Captured Hunter, my first novel.

Now I’m still working a full-time position (with actual work!) and writing during my hour-long train commute to and from the office. My time to write is much more limited than those oddly glorious days, but that has helped me to better focus my time and energy, improving my writing. Whether I publish one more book or 20 more books, I now know that I’ll be writing for the rest of my life.

Visit my site at www.authorjamiesterling.com.

E-mail me at [email protected].

Q: What made you decide to write BDSM romance?

A: While it’s become more acceptable in mainstream culture, there are still a lot of misconceptions about bondage and domination/submission among the general public. I wanted to spread the message that people can be very normal and mainstream, mentally healthy, yet still be into varying levels of kink. Anyone you run into during your day could go home and tie up—or be tied up by—their partner.

Q: When do you find time to write?

A: My commute is very long (about 75 minutes) but I take the train, so it’s pretty easy to sit down, open up my tiny little laptop (which doesn’t even have a web browser), and spend the trip to and from work writing.

Q: In Captured Hunter, both of your characters are fairly ordinary people, rather than the billionaires and the princesses that are often in romance novels. Why?

A: While I respect the idea that readers want to escape into a fantasy of meeting a billionaire who just happens to be gorgeous and into their sexual desires, that’s obviously pretty rare. My characters are pretty much people you meet in real life, and they aren’t über-confident about what they want. They work very hard to overcome their flaws and foibles and make a relationship work—just like in real life.

Q: How do you develop your plot and your characters? Do you draw a story outline, or write a bio about the individuals, or something else?

A: I used to make these enormous and highly-detailed outlines from start to finish, and I never once finished a book that originated from these outlines. As the type of person who likes everything in its place and all loose ends tied up neatly, I found that an outline took the human element—that is, our penchant to screw up, do selfish things, behave boorishly, or any other of a thousand character flaws—and made for stories with robots who never made bad decisions. Once I learned to let my characters tell me what they wanted to do based on their personalities and backgrounds, I became a much better writer.

Q: What is the hardest part of writing?

A: Well, it’s several things, but they all come back to finding the time to write. I still work a full-time job and have to take care of a household, so exhaustion is a big one. Sometimes I’m just too tired to form the words. I’ll try very hard—I’ll force myself to sit in front of the computer, but soon my mind will drift and I’ll be totally out of the story. Or, if I had a really bad day at the office and I’m angry, my characters will shift into a very dark, evil mode, one that doesn’t really fit the person or the scene.

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