It is my honor, my dear readers, to present to you my esteemed teammate at Black Velvet Seductions, the one and only STEPHANIE DOUGLAS!!!
Stephanie’s work spans the entire gamut of literature, from horror to romance to gothic suspense … and back again. She is not only one of the most prolific authors I know, but also one of the most versatile.
So let’s a take a peek at her latest release, ‘Fright Club’!
Evelyn Walker is a simple library technician in the bustling city of Toronto. It’s an unusual time, as supernatural creatures have woken from their slumber and made themselves known, fighting for the same rights as mortals, running businesses, even raising families. Evie keeps out of the supernatural business, living the “normal” life, until one hot July night when the library stays open for a specific visitor—a vampire. She finds herself thrust into a new world with new rules, fighting to stay alive, all the while locked in the cold embrace of the undead love of her life.
It was a long while at the police station, so long that Rick and I just decided to skip out on dinner and go back to my place. I obviously wasn’t in the mood for earth-shattering sex, so he just curled up on the couch with me, watching late night TV until I fell asleep. – Line from Stephanie Douglas’ ‘Fright Club’
Meet Evelyn, a librarian.
Whoops, ‘scuse me … ‘library technician’.
Welcome to the world of ‘Fright Club’!!! Now, let’s be honest here. In a post-Anne Rice world, it’s very hard to be original when it comes to vampires and werewolves. The appeal of such fare is not that it’s particularly original, but rather that it’s comfortingly tried and true.
So yes, the setting’s pretty familiar.
When one chooses to work within a tried-and-true genre, it’s best to pull out all the stops in regards to characterization. And this is where Stephanie Douglas NAILS it! Evelyn is not exactly the type of character that you’d expect to find in a horror-laced novel. What I loved most about this story was the bait-and-switch. You think it’s gonna be a love story involving two particular characters, but it may or may not work out that way.
And that’s all I’m gonna say. Spoilers, you know?
As a bonus, I LOVED Alistair the werewolf! He was just a low-key, blue-collar kinda dude. I felt like I’d love to sit down with him at the bar, and drink beer with him.
Also, I loved that the tale revolved around the characters, their personalities, and their interactions. So many paranormal tales are absolutely awash with gratuitous sex, and honestly …? I’m not over-fond of that. While the erotica genre is perfectly appropriate for pervasive sexual content, I find it distracting in paranormal. For every chapter you spend describing sexual encounters, you sacrifice pages that you could have spent on character development. While sex scenes are occasionally appropriate in literature—sex being a part of life, after all—at the end of the day, sex is just that: a part of life, not the whole thing. The nuances of human nature, on the other hand, encompass the entirety of human existence. That’s why I love to read about them, and it’s in this department that Stephanie TOTALLY delivers! ‘Fright Club’ is a decisively character-driven tale, and I adore it for that.
‘Fright Club’ is a story set within a well-established genre. The setting is immediately familiar, and that, my dear readers, is simply the nature of the beast. Stephanie Douglas is an author whose work I know fairly well, and I can tell you that she is a very original thinker. It just so happens that—this time around—she made a willful decision to go down a road that others paved for her.
But when it comes to the characters and the plot, well DONE!!! ‘Fright Club’ … yeah, it’s a five-star read.
Check it OUT!!! The setting is familiar. The story is not. You’ll love it!
(All opinions and statements contained in this interview are solely those of the author providing them, and may not necessarily reflect my own. – Virginia)
When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?
I have always had an active imagination, telling stories for entertainment purposes (mostly my own!). In high school I received awards in the English contest, but my thirst to tell stories was through visuals, so I tried to focus on film, and upon graduating I went to film school. It was while I was there that I discovered I am really not too great at directing, which was my aspiration, so I was going to fall back on screenwriting because I was receiving praise for my abilities. That was ultimately unfulfilling, even in film school. I couldn’t see myself doing it as my job. So, I decided to try my hand at writing a short story as an exercise in July of 2008, while I was still in fourth term. Everything kind of snowballed & went downhill from there!
What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?
My first published work was self-published through a vanity publisher, a sweet vampire romance titled “Out of My Grave” in 2010. Ultimately, I think I really shouldn’t have gone that route, as I was still trying to figure out how to tell a story and kind of who I was in both writing & life. I can’t take it back, so I just own it, and it was a learning experience. Gotta start somewhere.
How do you balance writing with your personal life?
Easy! I have no personal life! Haha. My work takes up most of my time, and I’m one of those writers that if I’m not actively writing, I’m always thinking about writing. I even think of scenes before I go to sleep and some of my dreams end up novel ideas. I’m kind of in this 1000% and it’s just part of my personality now. I’m the crazy author friend & cat lady.
Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?
I have used real people in my life for character references or “based on” purposes. I’ve started to shy away from that though because some people are flattered, some not so much. Rather than make waves, I try to just go with interesting aspects of a person for the character.
Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?
My mum is my sounding board for ideas. If I get stuck, I know I can just sit and start talking about my story and we’ll eventually figure it out. But I do have friends I go to when I need help too, some of my writer friends, especially Eileen Troemel! She’s been a wonderful mentor for me and is always a gem when I’m stuck.
Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?
I usually write down all the ideas I get in an actual notebook my mum bought me one year for Christmas, it has a little typewriter on it in gold. When I have a good amount of them, I transfer to my laptop, do up little blurbs for them. I usually let the ideas kind of sit for a while, then go back and read them over. Some of them I keep, some of them I bin. Having said that, I have a lot of files I’m pretty jazzed about. But it’s hard to juggle new ideas when you also have a series or multiple series going on, because readers want more books with the established characters. Hopefully I’ll get to them!
Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?
I’m afraid to write a character that I can’t say I identify with, honestly. For instance, someone not of the same ethnicity or sexuality. Mainly because I feel like those stories should be told by those particular writers. I worry about being considered a hack for writing a character and not being able to represent them, but then again…I feel there’s not enough representation for the LGBTQI+ spectrum, as well as ethnicity or even just cultures other than North American or white European. I do have an Annabel Allan project that features the heroine being mixed, white & Chinese, and the lovely Estelle Pettersen helped me with confidence in that project so, so much! I think research makes a big difference, as well as getting feedback and proper education from that minority in literature. It’s another story I hope to get to soon.
Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?
I try to ignore that stuff while I’m writing. I just let the Muse talk and write down what they say. Sometimes I end up with something that appeals to certain groups or demos, but I never aim for it. I usually write what I want to read or what I’m inspired to attempt. “Fright Club” came about when I was reading The Southern Vampires series (True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse) and Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I love that urban fantasy genre and the character of Evie came to me. So, I started writing it. I had a blast doing it too, and now I have ideas for multiple installments and the second book written.
Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?
I have a memoir I’m working on, mainly because it’s a great way of keeping details of my memories. I lost my grandmother when I was twelve, and we were very close. She’s actually the reason I want to be successful as a writer. She used to make up stories for me and even wrote a novel in the 70’s, tried to get it published, but was ultimately rejected. I still have the rejection letter. I kind of want to do it for her, as well as myself. But there are memories of her I want to keep fresh, so I write them down. I don’t know if I’ll ever release it, but it’s nice to have to look back on.
Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?
As I said, writing is kind of my personality now. I definitely don’t see myself as “normal” but I feel the tormented part was just a phase in life that I’m now beyond. I’m definitely driven though, very ambitious, so I try to make my work a priority.
Do you drink? Why or why not?
I do not drink, never have. I honestly have never been drunk before, or even tipsy. I dislike the taste of alcohol, so it’s never really been in my lifestyle. I’ve also never done drugs either. I think the “why” for that is just that I’ve never been interested. It’s not something I’ve been eager to try or do.
Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?
I am a single Pringle right now, though I have found that most of the people I have dated often are uncomfortable with the fact that I write for a living as well as the subject matter I write about. I don’t know if it’s the thought of being a character reference/the fact that real events often inspire me that deters them, or because my life is kind of public due to my work. Everyone knows me as both Stephanie Douglas and Annabel Allan, which is a bit of a damper on the love-life.
If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?
I would actually love for my NOLA vampires in The Raven Series (under R. M. Draven) to either be a film or a TV show. I just think that history and vampires hasn’t really been done enough—it’s mostly modern settings, like in “Fright Club”. But I do have hopes for “Fright Club” to be adapted too, as I feel it would make a pretty epic franchise.
How does your life experience influence your writing?
I think experiences shape who we are and we’re constantly growing and changing as people. I don’t think we’re ever the ultimate “this is how I am” because things change and people change. I think I try to keep that in my stories. We don’t stay the same forever and that goes for characters too. They grow, they develop. That’s part of the reason I rewrote the third instalment in the Smoke Chaser series, “Fireline”. I’ve grown as a writer and a person, so I could see how it wasn’t working. The characters didn’t grow with me, so I had to change that. I think it’s much stronger now having made the changes.
Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?
I definitely just write. In The Raven Series, I was trying to keep it just the paranormal element, but by the fifth instalment, I added fantasy elements as well. I think again, it’s all about growth, and setting the expectations and rigid structure isn’t going to really let something grow to its full potential. A story should not only grow up, but out.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?
I usually make a quick playlist on how I’m feeling before I start the script. Sometimes if I need more music, I put my music on shuffle, try to see if there’s a song that has a certain beat that feeds the Muse. Sometimes it surprises me! For “The Beast of Bradley Downs” it was all playlists from high school, dark, gritty, metal. But when I did the Smoke Chaser series, it was all 90’s pop. Usually for when I do historical settings, I end up on a classical and opera kick.
Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?
I actually have! My horror novel, “Summoned: A Battle With Darkness” was inspired by spooky things happening around my apartment. I also drew inspiration from my mother’s own experiences with the paranormal in the past. It’s just easy to sometimes fall back on reality, especially in horror. The real stuff is often the scariest.
Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?
I try to keep a disconnect unless I can’t avoid it. I want readers to be able to escape into the world I’m creating, so I try to keep real-world stuff out of it. Unless it’s something historical where the history is important, ie. The French Revolution or even the American Revolution.
Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?
It depends on what story I’m writing. I have found that lately, I write best in the afternoon and later in the evening. I try to follow a schedule while I’m actively working on a story, especially if I have a deadline. I also always have either a word count goal or a page count goal in mind when I start for the day, based on what my target is for the end product and that deadline.
What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?
I think it’s when a reader says to you how much they love a story you created. Especially if they go out of their way to tell you. I had a woman get in contact with me on my FB page, tell me how much she loved the Smoke Chaser series and what it meant to her. It blew me away, because she really could have just left it at a review, but she went out of her way and told me. It made my week, made me realize that I was actually reaching people.
Who is your favorite author, and why?
The late Anne Rice has always been my favourite author. I started reading her stories when I was ill and it required surgery, back in 2009. This was after I fell into writing, but she inspired The Raven Series and my love for New Orleans. Basically, it was sort of like fan fiction, in that I wanted more of Lestat in the 18th century…so I was like, okay, I’ll create my own vampire in the 18th century in NOLA. So, Eduard La Roche was born and he’s had a pretty adventurous time in the Quarter of 1775.
If you could pick anyone to narrate one of your books, who would it be?
I’m actually hoping that if “Edgeplay” gets the audio book treatment that Lilly Canon will do the narration for it. Sometimes, you meet someone and their voice just puts you in mind of your character. It doesn’t even need to be a big Hollywood celebrity, but a friend you meet through other friends. When I heard Lilly’s voice for the first time while doing her and Kyle’s podcast “Speak Seductively” I was just like, man! Ava’s voice sounds exactly like that. Sexy, sultry, yet confident and bold.
Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?
This is actually a tough question! I think my favourite character is Evelyn Walker from “Fright Club” and the Bite Scene series. I see her as a Rachel Weisz type, specifically from The Mummy (1999). It’s why I named the character Evie. She’s funny and relatable, yet has that charisma. I feel like she still has so much growing to do and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. For a film/TV adaptation…I don’t know, I don’t know who could play Evie. I think I’d like an unknown who just is Evie.
Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?
The only vacation I’ve taken as an adult was to NOLA and that was for research purposes. Other than that, it was Disney when I was a kid, and I wasn’t into writing yet. When I went to New Orleans it was basically trying to soak up everything I could about the French Quarter and the history, and I remember writing a chapter in the hotel as well. All the places I plan to visit (when travel is possible) are mainly for research purposes, so I’ll be writing a book in my head while I’m there.
Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?
I think I read similar fiction in that I read a lot of romance novels. If I want to disconnect from work (which is rare) I’ll read a saucy Highland romance. That’s kind of my go-to for shutting my mind down, I don’t know why. But there are genres I don’t read because I’m not too enthused about it, like sci-fi or certain fantasy stories. I guess because I don’t write those genres. I read to feed the Muse, so I end up giving them what they really enjoy, which is romance.
What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?
I watch the same movies over and over and over. Legit, I can watch certain films repeatedly. And I mean that in that, when it ends, I start it over again. I always joke with my mum, saying, “Let’s play a game. How many times can I watch X in a day?” It’s a compulsion due to my having obsessive compulsive disorder, but it’s also part of my process now, and again, just me! Haha.
What’s your favorite movie? Why?
I usually kind of lie with this question when I’m asked it! Haha. I usually say either Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Dangerous Liaisons. They arefavourites, don’t get me wrong, but if someone said I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, it’d be Jurassic Park. It was the first movie I vividly remember seeing in theatres. I think the VHS came out in the summer of ’94, so I got that for my birthday, my grandmother ordered it for me. I kind of went dinosaur crazy after seeing it and everything I owned was either JP or had dinosaurs on it. I even wanted to be a paleontologist too, from age 4 until high school, when interests shifted.
Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?
I’m kind of an inside person, haha. I would love to do signings and readings eventually, but my interaction so far has been strictly online. Hopefully, once things clear up with the pandemic, we can do book signings and events.
Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?
Pretty much everything I write needs some sort of research done. I did a lot of research on 18th century fashion, as well as the history in both France and NOLA for separate projects. I also did research on BDSM elements I’m not familiar with, stuff that I felt I wasn’t versed enough in to explain in the Goode Pain series. Sometimes it’s not only portraying things accurately, but also safely.
THANK you, Stephanie, for gracing the pages of virginiawallace.com today! And best of luck to you in the future!!!
ORDER STEPHANIE’S BOOKS (AND STALK HER) HERE!!!!