Author: Stephanie Burkhart
Book Title: Dark Shadow
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Question: Please tell us about yourself.
Steph: I grew up in New England where there was plenty of snow in the winter and tons of humidity in the summer. When I was 18, I joined the US Army and they shipped me off to Germany where I had a front seat to the fall of the Berlin Wall. My husband and I were married Denmark in 1991 and settled in Southern California. I have a B.S. in Political Science from California Baptist University. Currently, I'm a 911 dispatcher for LAPD, I adore chocolate, enjoy a good cup of coffee, and I'm a proud mom of a boy scout and a cub scout.
Question: When and why did you begin writing?
Steph: I was six when I saw an episode of the Electric Company. It was a kids' show in the 1970's. One of the segments was about Spiderman so I took paper and pencil to the kitchen table and would draw comic books based on the Spiderman excerpts. During high school, I focused on poetry and short stories and when I was in the Army, I worked on longer stories.
I can't really explain the why except to say it's a passion inside me that must come. Writing is an expressive, enjoyable outlet. It never gets old or dull, and there's always something new to explore.
Question: Are you a full time writer or part time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Steph: I would consider myself a part time writer. I hold a full time job with LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. Not only that, as my boys get older I find myself dedicating more time to their activities and I still have to clean the house.
Organizing my writing time gets more challenging every year. I usually take pen to paper during down time at work (since we aren't allowed computers) and at the house, I type up what I've written. I'll write in the car when going on a long trip or I'll write at home on my day off. I prefer to write in the morning when I've had two cups of coffee.
Question: What do you do when you're not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Steph: I chuckle because I'm usually very busy. I teach religious education for my church on Mondays. It's the 1st grade and I find working with the children very rewarding, but the prep work involves lesson planning and obtaining my resources. I also teach the Little Church on Sundays as my schedule permits. I help out as an assistant den leader for my son's cub scout den so I'm always prepping outings. I enjoy reading, walking, racquetball, going to the movies and watching Pawn Stars, but rarely do I find the time, (or babysitters) for those activities. Well, maybe Pawn Stars. (wink)
Question: Tell us your latest news.
Steph: I'm in the editing phase of "A Lady Never Lies," Book 3 in my Windsor Diaries steampunk romance series. I'm also working on a short story for the upcoming writer's digest annual competition. I'm also firming up some story ideas I've sketched out, working on a "cozy" mystery/suspense called "Bad Wife" and getting back to work on a romantic suspense I started, "Hunt for the Margrave's Lace."
Question: How can we find you?
Steph: Here are my links:
YOU TUBE CHANNEL:
Question: What genre do you write and why?
Steph: I write several genres: romance, mainstream/literary, horror, and children's stories. The inspiration for my children's stories have come out of my interaction with the kids from my religious education classes. It's such a reward to see the world through their eyes.
I haven't written any horror stories in a while, but I do enjoy a good scare. I'm more of a "demon-you-don't-know-girl," than the demon "within" writer, though I find "within" stories tend to tap into more raw, poignant emotion.
Two my mainstream/literary short stories, "Spontaneous Decision" and "Made in America," earned 8th place in the Writer's Annual Digest Contest. It's fun to explore topics that everyday people struggle with.
The bulk of my novel work is romance. I write paranormal, steampunk fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary stories. The attraction of romance writing is delivering the HEA. I'm a hopeful person in general, despite the gloom we see on a daily basis. I'd like to think that love can overcome any challenge which is what I enjoy depicting in my stories.
Question: Do you outline before you write? If not, what's your initial process?
Steph: I do outline, but it's very rough and loose. I outline a start where the main characters are confronted with a problem, and then I outline an end. I usually outline 3 chapters at a time once I start writing in case the characters want to do something else.
Question: What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Steph: The characters. I have rough ideas of what I want my characters to do. For example, hero must save space station from a biological weapon. Then I work on my hero and the supporting cast, i.e., heroine, sidekick, villain, friend, mentor, etc. Once I firm up, I flesh out my idea into a plot remembering to include inner conflict, external conflict, sexual tension, etc.
Question: How did you decide how your characters should look like?
Steph: I cast my characters. That really helps me to visualize their appearance and their quirks, especially when I'm writing. For "Dark Shadow" I cast Alex Meraz for "Helios" and Camella Belle for "Vivian."
Question: Tell us about the current book you're promoting.
Steph: "Dark Shadow" is a sensual novella set in the distant future. Kal Raines runs the Borealis, a space station owned by the bad guys, the TPP. (Trans Protectorate Police) My heroine is Vivian. She runs a bar on the station called "Korn." Helios (my hero) is sent to the station to investigate the TPP. They're testing a biological weapon. Can Helios destroy the weapon and keep Vivian safe?
Question: What do you look for in a book you read for fun?
Steph: I want the book to stimulate my imagination or take me to another time and place. I want to escape. Take me on a journey.
Question: What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Steph: I'm not a big fan of first person present tense so the writing has to be very strong for me to stay with the book. I’m reading "Divergent" now and it's written like that, but the writing is sharp and the story is intriguing. I keep turning the pages.
Here's a Blurb for "Dark Shadow:"
The TPP have developed a new destructive weapon and intend to test it on the Borealis Space Station. Helios Talon, a Rebellion freedom fighter from Pith, is dispatched to the station to discover the extent of the weapon's development and stop it if necessary. He's also given a personal mission from his sister, Persephone: keep Vivian Melendez, the owner of Korn, safe from an unknown assassin. Helios and his cousin, Athena, arrive on the Borealis and discover the TPP are ready to test the weapon. He's got to act fast, but when Helios meets Vivian, distractions complicate his plan. Can he overcome his challenges and save not only the feisty Vivian, but the station, too?
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Enjoy this excerpt:
He cupped her cheek and felt his mind connect with her again. "I'm not ashamed to work for the Rebellion. The TPP are ruthless and careless with life. The Rebellion is growing and soon it will be strong enough to overtake the TPP."
"I can't deny the conviction I hear in your voice."
"When I believe in something or someone, I'm in one hundred percent. It wasn't easy growing up on Pith, then watching the TPP rape my world. They killed my parents."
"That's your reason for being a rebel?"
"No, my motivation. I still have relatives on Pith. I still want to live there when the fighting is all over." He quieted and offered her a wistful smile.
"Anything else you want?"
"A family of my own one day."
She paused. At one point in time she had wanted that, too. The knots lessened in her stomach. Helios drew close. Impulse took over. His lips skirted hers. His warm breath and spicy scent made her feel protected. Vivian leaned against him. Her lips brushed against his. He tasted of honey and berries -- and chocolate. The seductive sample he offered fueled her body, urging her to savor and enjoy.
She placed her palms flat against his muscled chest and her heart skipped a beat. She never felt so safe, so wanted.
Then reality struck. This was only a moment. She wasn't TPP or a rebel. Her home was here with Sally and Korn. Adonis sounded like he wanted more than she could offer, and Benares was not going to ruin her life again.
She pushed Helios away and broke off the sweet, heartwarming kiss, but discovered she was breathless and couldn't look away from him. Adonis managed to confuse the heck out of her.