Stacy Juba – Sink or Swim

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is Sink or Swim, a mystery novel with a touch of romance. It’s about Cassidy Novak, a former reality show contestant who attracts a stalker after returning to her normal life as a personal trainer.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’ve been writing since childhood and published my first novel at age 18. I’ve also worked as a fitness trainer, journalist and a publicist, and am trained as a Reiki healer, something I do just as a hobby.

What inspired you to write this book?

Since reality shows are so much a part of our culture nowadays, I wanted to explore what might motivate an ordinary person to appear on a show and how this brush with fame changes her life. Since I’m a mystery novelist, I put it into the context of a mystery story.

How did you choose the title?

In the book, Sink or Swim is the name of a reality game show in which contestants serve as crew members aboard a Tall Ship. The losers, including my character Cassidy, must walk the plank once it’s their time to leave the show. The phrase also has double meaning, as it represents Cassidy’s struggle throughout the novel – will she prevail or will her stalker?

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

It took a few years to find a publisher, even when it was agented. I did several rewrites during that time, based on feedback from editors. One editor wanted the entire book to take place during the taping of the reality show, but I was firm that I wanted it to be about what happens after the show has ended. I did the rewrites that made sense, and kept submitting. Mainly Murder Press accepted my first mystery novel, Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, for publication and they later accepted Sink or Swim also.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I’ve been writing stories since third grade, and by fifth grade, was writing a mystery series. Since I was very introverted, my teachers encouraged my talent in writing. I had my first novel published at 18, which cemented my interest in book publishing.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I like to read over the pages I wrote the previous day, and then consult my outline to see what’s happening next.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I often browse through baby name books for first names and telephone directories for last names, and choose the names that feel right.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I learned a lot about fleshing out a character, as I needed to give my heroine, Cassidy, a mix of strength and vulnerability. I spent a lot of time working on developing Cassidy’s internal thought and getting into her point of view, so readers could understand why she was acting in a certain way even if they didn’t entirely agree with her.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I worked really hard on my path to publication, and there isn’t much I’d do differently, other than get my books on Kindle sooner and to not take the rejections so personally.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I read a wide variety of books, especially now that I have two e-readers. I like mysteries, romantic suspense, romance, and contemporary fiction. I’ve been reading a lot of Jodi Picoult, Darcia Helle, Maria Savva, Claire Cook, Lisa Gardner, Joy Fielding, and Meg Cabot. They are very different authors writing in all different genres, but their books always grab me from page one.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m working on re-issuing my out-of-print young adult novel, Face-Off, about feuding twin brothers competing on the same high school hockey team. I’ll be releasing a new paperback this year, along with e-book versions, and I’m also polishing up the sequel Offsides. I also have a young adult paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn coming out in January 2012 from Mainly Murder Press.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

To find a critique group or a few regular critique partners, to take some on-line classes in editing and writing, to develop your marketing and Internet skills, and to learn what’s happening with e-book self-publishing so you’re fully informed about the industry today and can decide which route you’d like to pursue.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

For my adult novels, most of my readers are women who enjoy contemporary mysteries with a touch of romance. I also write young adult novels and children’s picture books, so women who read my adult books often buy my kids’ books for their children or grandchildren.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

They can visit my web site at http://stacyjuba.com/blog/ for excerpts, reviews, book trailers, and free downloads, and they can also click the contact tab to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, which comes out a few times per year.

Sink or Swim is available on Amazon.com.

Readers can also follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/stacyjuba