“How do you recognize your soulmate?
In glittery 1980’s Los Angeles, Beau Kellogg is a brilliant Broadway lyricist now writing advertising jingles and yearning for one more hit to compensate for his miserable marriage and disappointing life.
Amanda Harary, a young singer out of synch with her contemporaries, works at a small New York hotel, while she dreams of singing on Broadway.
When they meet late at night over the hotel switchboard, what begins will bring them each unexpected success, untold joy, and piercing heartache ... until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.
STEALING FIRE is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love.”
STEALING FIRE was a Quarter-Finalist (Top 5%) in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
The phones were ringing off the hook, and it was after three. And Amanda was tired.
She disposed of all the calls; she didn't think she could be bright and bubbling tonight. As she started to put down her headset, she realized she'd left one call on hold; the red light winked tantalizingly at her. She pushed the button, and was startled to hear a light, clear whistle delicately sounding one of her favorite old songs.
For a moment, she just listened. Then she started to hum along, filling in the words where she could remember them.
The whistling stopped, and the voice she'd come to recognize and dread pushed out at her. "So you know it."
"It's one of my favorites." She hummed a few more bars, hesitatingly. "I've known it for years."
"Remember the title?" It was a challenge.
"`Bursting Bubbles'." That was easy. She remembered the scratchy old record that Josie had broken years ago. Even now she felt a small pang at losing it. "From a show called The Life and Times."
"Well, well. I'm impressed. Two points for you."
"And for you, 704. Are you into trivia games?"
He chuckled. "So you know who I am. That makes you one up on me. I don't know who you are."
"Why do you want to know? Gonna complain to the boss?"
"I wanted to thank you. I don't often have a chocolate shake for breakfast, but it really hit the spot this morning. I never get service like this, not even at the Lorelei."
- Where did you get the idea for the novel?
Actually, STEALING FIRE is highly autobiographical, the most personal book I’ve ever written. I started writing it while I was in the middle of a highly charged relationship much like the relationship between Amanda and Beau in the novel. The relationship was going wrong, and I was very young and had no idea what to do about it. Being a writer, whenever something was important to me, the way I dealt with it was to write it down. So I sat down at the typewriter (yes, I started it that long ago) and began to type. I had no plan, no outline. I just started typing, and words started coming out. And as I kept typing, a story began to form.
- Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
For a long time I didn’t have a title. I didn’t even have a book; I called the collection of loose pages I was typing my ‘baby novel’. It didn’t have a structure; it didn’t have an outline. I hadn’t bothered with any of that; it was just scene after scene—and not in linear order—pouring out of me.
At some point—and this is probably years after I first started writing it—I found a book called TOTAL LOVING, by the same author who’d written the bestseller THE SENSUOUS WOMAN. She quoted a nineteenth-century author named Delphine de Girardin who said what I found out later was a very famous quote:
“To love one who loves you
To admire one who admires you
In a word, to be the idol of one’s idol
Is exceeding the limit of human joy.
It is stealing fire from heaven.”
I thought it was beautiful (still do) and immediately took the title STEALING FIRE, because to me it absolutely captured how Amanda and Beau felt about each other. And the book was never called anything else; no one, including agents or my publisher, ever asked me to consider changing it.
- Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it?
Actually, I didn’t pick much of anything about this book, including the genre. From my first impulse to sit down and start typing, it was meant to be a love story. All the other incidents in the book lead back, sooner or later, to the relationship. But I’ve also written love stories before and have read a ton of them, including category romance. So it was something I always liked to read, which made it that much more interesting to write.
- Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
I think this past summer (2013) has been probably the most exciting time of my writing career. From early May, when I signed my first contract with Drake Valley Press, to the end of August, I’ve been on a real roller-coaster ride (it hasn’t let up yet!) I’ve signed contracts for books before, and I’ve published books before, but this is really the best. I’m with a publisher who treats my books with tender loving care and who really wants to see my name become a standard brand in fiction. I’ve been surrounded by people who want only to make the product better or help me get the word out more effectively. It’s been fantastic!
What I look forward to even more is reaching a whole new group of readers who don’t know my work and who I hope will love what I do. I have three new books out in the next few months: STEALING FIRE; FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition (a revised edition of an earlier novel, a time-travel thriller about the JFK assassination, which marks its 50th anniversary this year); and REALIZING YOU (with Ron Doades), a self-help NOVEL, for which I actually invented a new genre. Hoping readers will find at least one and go on to all three!
- What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
I’m reading ME & LEE, which is a nonfiction account of a woman who claims she was Lee Harvey Oswald’s lover in the summer of 1963. (Since researching FORWARD TO CAMELOT, I’m constantly attracted to books about the assassination.)The way she describes him is so different from what we’ve been led to believe he was, and she backs it up with tons of historical data and other facts she says she came to know at that time. Great stuff!
- What is your writing process?
To me, it always starts with the story idea, and the idea usually comes to me as a question that starts “What if … ?”
What if an actress from the year 2000 went back to Dallas in 1963 and was able to save JFK from assassination? (That’s the theme of FORWARD TO CAMELOT.)
What if a woman writer meets a local politician to whom she feels an immediate connection, and he asks her to manage his next political campaign? (That’s the theme of THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, one of my next novels.)
In other words, a bit of the plot usually occurs to me, and if it fascinates me enough to start asking myself follow-up questions and I start to get a sense of what the book could be, then characters naturally start to show up. Who would I need to tell this story? They come along, and they let me know how they fit in. And usually I start writing a scene here, a scene there—whatever feels clearest in my mind. After a few of those scenes, I know whether I’m excited enough about the story to want to continue.
- At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
I always try to write something personal. If they’re nice enough to buy it, I’m happy to do it. As for coming up with something to say… hey, I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be able to do stuff like that.
- What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I never mention this in my bio, but when I was four years old, I was on CANDID CAMERA, which at the time was a top ten show and hugely popular. Allen Funt and his film crew came to my nursery school looking for children to talk to, and we had several nice chats. The most famous one, which has been repeated for many years on the show, has me as my mother talking to Allen Funt as my father on a toy telephone. It was so popular that when Funt later wrote a book called CANDID KIDS, about the children he enjoyed working with most, I had 20 pages in the book. Apparently the viewer response was very positive, because the morning after the show first aired, my mother got a call from Paramount Pictures asking if she’d bring me in to audition for the part of the youngest daughter in a movie called PAPA’S DELICATE CONDITION (with Jackie Gleason). I was apparently the only non-professional child tested for the part. My mother was delighted with the response but told all the agencies and advertising people who wanted to work with me that she didn’t want me to turn professional.
- How do you react to a bad review?
I’m like all other writers, I’m sure—I’d love every single review to be five stars and effusive, and for every reader to go crazy for my books. But life just doesn’t work that way. I decided awhile ago that I couldn’t get upset when someone voiced an opinion I didn’t agree with. It was my choice to put a piece of work on the market. The readers have a choice whether to like it or not and whether to voice their opinion publicly. Since I chose to be a public figure (at least with my writing), I have to take the consequences of that choice in stride. Some people will love my work. Some won’t. My hope is that more will love it than hate it. But I can’t control that. All I can do is write the very best book I can and never cheat my audience.
- How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Honestly, it was a long time ago. I’m not sure I remember!
My first book was written under contract in 1988 and was the last book in a six-book girls’ series called BLUE RIBBON, about girls training for Olympic dressage. I remember being thrilled to get the assignment, even though the editor warned me it was a very tight deadline and could I write the book in a single month?
At that point I’d never finished a long piece of writing in my life. I’d never gone through the rewrite process with a professional editor. I had no idea whether I could turn in the book that quickly. So of course I answered without a moment’s hesitation, “No problem!”
And I made it, panting right down to the wire.
But that first day when I knew I was going to write my first book, I don’t know if I even went to lunch with a friend to celebrate. I know I burned up the phone lines telling people (this was way before the Internet or social networking), but as for cracking a bottle of champagne… I don’t think it happened.
Susan Sloate is the author of 20 published books, including FORWARD TO CAMELOT (with Kevin Finn), an alternative history of the JFK assassination, STEALING FIRE, an autobiographical love story, and REALIZING YOU (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre – the self-help novel. FORWARD TO CAMELOT was a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned for film production by a Hollywood company. STEALING FIRE was a quarter-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including RAY CHARLES: FIND ANOTHER WAY!, which won a silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards, AMELIA EARHART: CHALLENGING THE SKIES, a perennial Amazon bestseller, and MYSTERIES UNWRAPPED: THE SECRETS OF ALCATRAZ, which led to her appearance on a special for The History Channel in 2009, as well as books for five girls’ fiction series. As a screenwriter, she has written an informational film for McGraw-Hill Films and optioned two scripts to Hollywood production companies. As a sportswriter, she’s covered the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets. She’s also managed two recent political campaigns, founded the East Cooper Authors Festival (which put 18 professional authors in 17 area schools in one day) and serves on the Culture, Arts and Pride Commission of the Town of Mount Pleasant.
GIVEAWAY: Susan will be awarding a notebook perfect for journaling to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/06/virtual-book-tour-stealing-fire-by.html