Pre-Launch party is
and her book?
Tell us some stuff about yourself like where you are from, your family, your job, your hobbies, etc?
I?m proud to say that I?m a native Texan, born and raised in Dallas. Growing up, I spent a lot of time on my grandparent?s farm located in the small Czech town of Frydek, just outside of Houston. At one point, I was determined to be a farmer, just like my uncle. In fact, I recall begging my parents to let me take home a baby chick that I promised to care for in our backyard. Unfortunately they said no, so I settled for planting a small patch of corn instead, which by the end of the summer grew taller than me.
Although I?ve called Texas home for 39 years, I don?t have much of a twang. That?s because I?m also a city girl at heart. I love traveling to big urban centers like New York and Chicago. My husband and I have also spent time in Europe and have a soft spot for Paris. We are fearless travelers and have no qualms about packing up our family of four for a 12-hour trek to Florida or elsewhere. If our boys remember anything about their childhood, we hope that their parents? spirit of adventure stands out.
I?m naturally a high achiever, which first became apparent in elementary school. Any sport I took up would result in a MVP trophy. Put a bat in my hand and I could almost guarantee you a home run. Give me a basketball and I?d run up the score. I was physically stronger and bigger than most girls, so off the court I felt awkward and shy. But sports helped give me confidence and a positive sense of self. By the time I was 14, I landed the lead role in my school musical, marking a significant turning point in my young life.
My drive to succeed continued to grow in high school, where I juggled AP courses, varsity basketball, track and, yes I?ll admit, even cheerleading. At Southern Methodist University (SMU), I dove head first into my studies and campus life. By my junior year, I was president of my sorority and a staff reporter for the student newspaper, The Daily Campus. After receiving my journalism degree in 1995, I built a successful 16-year corporate communications career, working for such Fortune 500 companies as JCPenney and Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Lead by my passion for writing fiction, I finally left the corporate world last year to pursue my dream as an author?the hardest, yet best life decision I have ever made.
I place a high importance on physical fitness, so I?m on my bike every chance I can get, riding long distances at a time. Exercise not only helps keep me young and in shape for my kids, but I also use it as a way for clearing my mind?an essential part of my writing process and emotional health.
When I?m not writing or enjoying my family, I?m either on my bike, catching up with friends or holed up somewhere with my nose in my Kindle. I also have a passion for gardening and getting dirt under my nails. Like exercise, I often use gardening to cure my writer?s block. There?s just something about a repetitious, mundane task like pulling weeds or pruning shrubs that helps clear away the noise of life, which if left unchecked, can chronically block an artist?s creative flow.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
While riding my bike and gardening help me decompress, right now my favorite way to relax is napping with my three-year-old son, Luke. I get great comfort in listening to the soft ebb and flow of his breathing, which always lulls me to sleep without fail.
How long have you been writing?
I?ve been writing in some way, shape or form for nearly 25 years. At 16, I wrote my first serious essay on the death of my father when I was nine?and I cried through the entire thing. Not only did that essay help me get accepted to the colleges of my choice, but it caught the eye of my English teacher?an Ursuline nun?who encouraged me to pursue a writing career. Importantly, penning that emotional essay awakened within me a passion for writing?and a desire for creating stories that are intense, psychological and deeply moving.
While studying journalism at SMU in the early 90s, I wrote for the campus newspaper and also served as a member of the editorial board staff. During my senior year, my peers selected me to write a controversial editorial piece in support of a charter for an openly gay fraternity. Although the editorial received its fair share of negative responses from the conservative student community, it was one of the most riveting experiences of my early writing career. And thus my eye for controversy was born.
In the corporate world, I used my writing skills to support top company executives, including the chairman and CEO, for whom I often wrote speeches and talking points for press conferences and high-profile interviews. I became an expert in corporate reputation and brand image, as well as in corporate social responsibility and environmental issues. But somewhere along my journey to the corner office, I began feeling unfulfilled and uninspired by what corporate America had to offer. By the time I was 30 and pregnant with my first child, I had written my first novel, Sawtooth, a story about a break up gone bad, which is unpublished. A few years after that, I wrote LITTLE 15: A Dark Tale of First Love, followed by a screenplay adaption of the same name.
What is your writing schedule like? Do you listen to music when you do?
I prefer writing early in the morning, starting before dawn. But since having kids, I?ve had to evolve my writing schedule to fit the demands of a growing family. The last few years have challenged both my patience and sanity in this area, but I keep telling myself that my kids will only be young once and that it?s important to enjoy every moment of their childhoods. During the summer, I only have a couple hours in the morning while my sons are at camps to blog and update my social media. Right now, I reserve the early morning hours for riding my bike for about 10 miles or so. When my kids go back to school in the fall, I look forward to getting back to a regular writing schedule and discipline.
Morning pages?or three pages of long-hand, stream-of-consciousness writing?take precedence in my daily writing practice. I?m a firm believer in Julia Cameron?s teachings in her best-selling book, The Artist?s Way: A Spiritual Journey to Higher Creativity. In it, she encourages artists from all disciplines to begin each day with this creative meditation technique.
Music plays a key role in my writing routine, helping to immerse me into a world of my imagination. I often select music that evokes a strong sense of emotion to help me reach to the depths of my soul. The Yo-Yo Ma station on Pandora is one of my favorites, which features a variety of classical and modern composers. I played the piano growing up, so classical music is deeply familiar and soothing to me. Depending on the story, I might also look to my favorite bands to help put me in the right emotional mood. In fact, I wrote Little 15 almost in its entirety while listening to Depeche Mode, one of my favorite bands of all time. In fact, Depeche Mode?s ?Little 15? was a big inspiration for the story and title of my novel.
?Questions about your book:
Tell us the name of your book and what it is about.
The full title of my novel is Little 15: A Dark Tale of First Love. It?s story about a high school basketball star, her coach and their torrid affair.
In your book you talk about Abuse or addiction, sometimes both, what made you write about this?
Although I really can?t point to one reason, years after I graduated from high school I found out that one of my coaches had made several inappropriate passes at a friend of mine (which included phone calls). I was shocked. I considered him one of the kindest coaches at our school and never in a million years did I think that he would do something like that. Just the thought of him bothering my friend made me sick?and angry ? angry that I had trusted him so much. In fact, we all had. Luckily, my friend told her mom and he stopped calling her. But I guess her mom never told the school officials (or so I hope) because he kept coaching there for several years after. I can?t imagine how many more girls he might have done this to, or worse, how many of them might have fallen for his charms.
I also heard rumors of this happening to kids I knew at other schools?and some of the stories were much worse. It?s disturbing how these predators are able to get into the heads of these kids?right under the noses of school administrators and parents. Sadly, improper relationships between teachers and students, coaches and athletes, happen more than we think, yet often go unnoticed. Little 15 could be a story about anyone?you, me, the babysitter down the street, the teen bagger at the grocery store, or the MVP on the soccer team.
Told through the eyes of 15-year-old Lauren Muchmore, I wanted Little 15 to reveal a very different side to these sex scandals not always captured by the media?a point of view that I believe is also underserved in literature and film. Pop culture loves the predator mind. But what do we know of the victim? What causes a student to fall into a relationship with a teacher or coach? As an artist, I challenged myself to create a believable situation that would make a 15-year-old girl vulnerable to this type of abuse. In doing so, I threw all kinds of conflict at my protagonist, including an abusive father, an emotionally unavailable mother and an older sister seething with bitterness and hate. In my mind, all of these factors drive Lauren into the arms of her coach, a man who provides her with a false sense of protection and love.
Although the plot of Little 15 isn?t taken from my life, I have experienced at one time or another many of the same emotions that my protagonist goes through?the dizzying feeling of love?s first crush, infatuation, desire, guilt, shame, isolation, passion, desperation, anger, jealously, fear, etc. In fact, we all have known these emotions to differing degrees in our own lives, making it easy to forge an emotional connection to this character-driven story.
?Other than that, I relied mostly on news coverage on this type of abuse?and my own imagination.
?If you came across someone who was in the shoes of your lead character (I know that sometimes this is you the author), what would you tell them?
My message would be this:
No matter what people have told you, or what people may have said, the thing you went through was absolutely, positively NOT YOUR FAULT. That teacher took advantage of your trust and confidence in the worst way possible. He/she used his position of authority to manipulate you into doing something that was hurtful and wrong. This teacher committed a crime and should be held accountable to the highest degree of the law.
I can?t imagine the pain you must have gone through and are still going through right now. You must feel so confused and scared, and that is OK. I want you to know that what happened to you doesn?t have to define your future. You don?t have to do this all on your own. There are people who can help you work through the pain and help you heal. Therapy is a good first step. It?s OK. You can take it slow. Be kind to yourself. God is with you and loves you unconditionally.
Do you do any special fund raising for these issues? Or are you involved in any specific groups that help others that have been involved in these issues?
No, not at this time.
What did you hope to accomplish when you wrote this book?
I wrote this book as a cautionary tale about the dangers of romantic relationships between teachers and students. I hope to raise awareness of this issue and the irreversible damage it can cause in a teen?s life.
I also hope that Lauren?s story will help start a dialogue between parents and teens. In fact, I?ve had several readers comment that this is a book that every parent and teen should read:
?Little 15, is an extremely well written novel that provides the cautionary tale that all teen and parents should heed. Not only does this story speak to the events that have become far too common in todays news, but it also serves as a sounding board that I imagine so many young girls could easily identify with.??Author Thomas Amo, An Apple For Zoe
?If you?ve been a teen, if you care about teens, if you have a teen you want to talk to, read this novel.??Author Sheela Deeth, A Flower Child
?[Reading Little 15] definitely makes me want to have an open relationship/conversation with my daughter when she turns 15.??Reader Jenny Martin
Most importantly, though, I wrote this story to inspire readers to think twice before passing judgment on Lauren or other teens like her, and to better understand the pain of walking in their shoes.
Your other work:
What else have you written?
I?ve written a screenplay adaption for Little 15, which my agent is currently shopping to film executives in Hollywood. I?ve also written another novel called Sawtooth, a psychological thriller about a break up gone bad, which is unpublished.
What projects are you working on now?
In addition to blogging and visiting book clubs, I?m straddling two novels at the moment (a good problem to have, right?). One is called The Last Homily?a story about a forbidden love affair between a priest and a Sunday school teacher. The other is titled The Creek Don?t Rise?a riveting story about a mother of five suffering from post-partum depression in the dust-bowl era.
To Contact Stephanie Saye:
Web site/blog: www.stephaniesaye.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Saye/e/B0062X3P38
We sat in silence for a long time on the cold stone floor of her bathroom, numb to a circumstance neither of us knew how to handle. Here I was 15 years old and pregnant, without a clue as to what in God?s name I was going to do next. For the life of me I didn?t know when the baby would be born or how long I?d be pregnant or even when the right time would be to go see a doctor. Plus, I wasn?t even sure how the baby would come out of me, how big it would get or worse, being so young if I?d even survive the birth.
But June didn?t give me much time to ponder these questions that day. Instead she reminded me of a girl named Felicity at Pope Pius who had gotten herself pregnant during her senior year. Felicity and her boyfriend, who also attended the school, chose to disclose the pregnancy to their parents and school officials. Because of their voluntary ?confession,? the school decided against expulsion and instead pledged to graduate them as planned. So their sin was forgiven in a sense, but certainly not forgotten?at least not where Felicity was concerned. Over the next few months, Felicity continued to attend classes as her belly swelled, forcing her to trade her uniform skirt for maternity clothes and her life for one of constant ridicule.
?Don?t you remember how we made fun of her?? asked June as I stared blankly at the wall unable to function. ?Don?t you remember how someone wrote ?whore? in permanent marker on her locker??
And I did remember, because I was among those who would stare at her in the halls when she passed or whisper secrets behind her back. I, along with the rest of the school, slowly crucified her each day, making sure she paid for her mistake ? her unspeakable, dirty sin.
Truth be told, we were no better than Felicity. I was no better, now that I found myself staring in disbelief at a dipstick and reeling in the same dimension of shock that had befallen her. In fact, I was much worse?worse for judging her without considering how it felt to be in her shoes. And certainly now, as I contemplated my next move, I found myself walking in them, surprised by how easily they fit.