Thursday, 22 August 2019

Interview with Stephanie Douglas

Love Music : Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and moved to Seattle when I was 21 to perform theater. It was one of the best times of my life.Seattle has incredible talent and a thriving theater community. I loved the entire experience, however when I look back I realize my favorite parts were creating full-fledged backgrounds for my roles—writing out my character’s history, relationships with others in each scene, struggles, hopes and dreams, etc. And singing, well…singing transports me out of any challenging day and makes a great day even better. 


Love Music : Music is a unique component of your book Callasandra Fractured—what inspired you to incorporate music into the reading experience?

Music is used throughout the story to convey hidden messages to a resistance group as well as to provide cover for characters sharing secrets and important information. I was about half-way through writing the story when I heard a song by the band,Bitter:Sweet. I thought the singer’s voice sounded similar to how I imagined a character named Marissa would sound. In that moment, I thought, Wouldn’t it enhance the feel of the story, if readers could hear the music in real-time as they read the book? From that moment forward I decided I would figure out a way to make that happen.


Love Music : I’ve never heard of music being added to a book that isn’t an audible book. How did you find musicians and make it possible for people to hear the music? 

To my knowledge adding music to a non-audible book hasn’t been done before. The hurdle of figuring out how to add the music was initially a bit overwhelming, so I decided to hold off on the “how” and focus on creating the music. I knew I wanted each song to convey the feel of the scene. I consulted with a local musician, to map out how to create a soundtrack on a tight budget. Through our conversation, he shared a site where you can post a gig or project, and, in my case, musicians would bid for the job. When I selected a musician whose music sample fit what I was looking for, I shared details of the scene and the length of time I anticipated the song would last for the average reader. It was a fascinating process and the music was outstanding. I worked with musicians from all of the world:the Unites States, Italy, Serbia, Venezuela, Germany, Japan, the UK, and more. 


Love Music : What would you say the biggest challenge was from a music perspective? 

I would have to say the number of learning curves to bring the full soundtrack to fruition was the biggest challenge. Writing songs with vocals, recording, editing, and mixing the vocals with instrumental tracks, communicating to the musicians what I was looking for from an instrumental perspective, sound editing, and on and on.Fortunately, I have a tenacious personality, so I took a deep breath and focused on one song at a time – teaching myself along the way. I am very proud of how the music turned out. I think the music is incredibly beautiful and just as I had envisioned, creates an immersive, cinematic feel to the story. It was worth the long hours and the 3 A.M ah-ha moments!


Love Music : So how did you make it possible for readers to hear the music?

A couple of Saturdays a month, I meet with my best friend for what we call our Sanity Saturdays. We have lunch and then sit under a beach umbrella near the pier in Huntington Beach, California. On one of these occasions, I was talking through various scenarios for making the music experience available in real-time. I suspected there would be readers who’d prefer to read the story without music, so it was important to make the music optional. I also anticipated other readers would be intrigued by this innovative reading experience. As we were brainstorming, the idea of using hyperlinked QR codes came to me—they are optional, I could include them in both the hard copy and electronic versions of the book, and they look amazing. 



Love Music : Wow…it sounds intriguing! I’m always curious how writers come up with story lines for their books...what inspired you to write Callasandra Fractured?

It started with a nightmare, actually. I dreamt of waking in the middle of the night and walking down the stairs of a Victorian-style home. The color of the night had a deep purple hue to it and as I reached the bottom of the stairs, I found myself facing a living room with a 1920’s style couch. Suddenly the trunk of a tree burst through the ceiling, without debris and then disappeared only to come through the ceiling from another location—like a puppeteer was causing the tree trunk to come through over and over. I awoke with my heart racing and an adrenaline rush. I don’t know why it was so scary to me, but for weeks I couldn’t shake the dream. I thought how scary it would be to wake up and have one thing in your environment be unexplainably different, like the trunk of tree appearing in the living room. And then I imagined how terrifying it would be for a 16-year old girl to wake up in the middle of the night, find a tree in the living room, and then discover everyone she knew and loved were gone. This became the opening scene of the story.  I have loved reading since I was three years old and have entertained myself and friends with my creative writing over the years, so I decided to dive in and write this story.


Love Music : What did you love about writing the story?

My favorite part about writing the story was how it unfolded. This may sound strange, but the book seemed to write itself. As I wrote each chapter of Callasandra Fractured, it was like watching a movie and trying to capture everything I was seeing and hearing as it played out. I looked forward to discovering what would happen next. The story is filled with twists and turns and fascinating characters. It is about a teenage girl named Cassi, who comes to the terrible realization that nothing is as it seems. Her family is missing and as the story unfolds, Cassi discovers a dangerous family secret and finds herself surrounded by enemies. In order to hide her identity, Cassi becomes Callasandra and must find the strength and courage to fight for her life and the ones she loves.


Love Music : Did you ever experience writer’s block?

Great question! Yes, there were times I experienced writer’s block and it surprised me a little when it would happen. The story would be moving along seamlessly and then suddenly screech to a halt. I was about half-way through the story the first time I experienced writer’s block. After several days of getting nowhere, I realized the issue I faced was the plot of that part of the story was too broad and I needed to be more strategic and specific. I also hadn’t fully visualized the scene. Once I took the time to identify what the characters needed to accomplish and envision the environment, my inner movie began playing again.


Love Music : Did you always want to be a writer?

Hindsight is 20/20 as the saying goes, so looking back I probably did always want to be a writer. I learned to read at 3 years old and was an avid reader throughout my childhood. When I was 5 years old I had a matching card game with famous authors. I loved that game and played it until the cards were frayed. I remember reading the Jane Eyre and Wuthering heights when I was 12yrs old and dove into Stephen King as a teenager. I would write many stories to entertain myself and then fell in love with singing in high school. Singing became the love of my life and my focus became performing. Writing stayed with me however, as I mentioned, I loved creating the stories of my characters. When I dove into writing Callasandra Fractured, I realized writing stories combined with music is exactly what I’d like to do for the rest of my life. It’s magical. 


Love Music : It’s been great spending time with you. Your books sounds fascinating. How can people find you and follow you online? 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. It has truly been a pleasure! 

My website is www.Callasandra.com. People can also find me on Instagram at st3phaniedouglas or on Facebook @CallasandraFractured

Lastly, Callasandra Fractured, the book and soundtrack, are both available at Amazon



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