Jen: Today we welcome the fabulous Mariah Stewart to Romancing the Book. Mariah, will you share a short bio with us?
Mariah: Mariah Stewart is the award-winning, New York Times and USAToday bestselling author of thirty-five novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. A native of Hightstown, NJ, Mariah lives amidst the rolling hills of Chester County, PA, with her husband and their two rescue dogs. Visit her website at mariahstewart.com, and friend her on Facebook at Author Mariah Stewart.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Mariah: THAT CHESAPEAKE SUMMER is the ninth book in my Chesapeake Diaries series. Readers have been asking for Dan Sinclair’s book for a long time – everyone seemed to be finding their happy-ever-after except poor Dan. He’s a widower raising two kids while running the Inn at Sinclair’s Point with the help of his mother, Grace, who is a major character in the series. I really wanted a happy life for him – it was more than time for him to start the next chapter of his life – but it just wasn’t happening. Then Jamie Valentine began to form in my head, and I knew right away, she was meant for Dan. Getting them to realize that they belonged together wasn’t easy. Jamie was dealing with some highly emotional issues following the death of her mother, and Dan had his hands full with his fifteen year old daughter (who was so easy with when she was a little girl and still her daddy’s little girl – before she became a teenager with a mind of her own!). Love was the last thing on either Jamie or Dan’s minds, but as we all know, love charts its own course!
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Mariah: I have to write them down! I never remember those wonderful bolts from the blue, even though I always promise myself that this time, this idea is so good, I couldn’t possibly forget it – but then I do. It helps for me to be awake when those moments strike, however. Too many times I’ve awakened from a sound sleep with THE GREATEST IDEA EVER and written it down on a pad I keep next to the bed – only to find the next morning something like Rummkla! Fliwistti! Dawkella isjostku scribbled on the tablet. No, I have no idea what any of that might mean.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Mariah: Truthfully, it’s all challenging. I don’t find any aspect of the process easy. Oh, the ideas for the books come easily enough – it’s the actual execution that’s hard! The first fifty to one hundred pages are the most difficult for me: I’m still getting to know the characters and how they relate to each other. The last hundred go quickly – it’s like a snowball rolling downhill. The most rewarding moments come when the story is finished, my editor loves it, and I hold the finished book in my hands! Even after thirty-five books, that is always a Moment.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Mariah: Most of my characters seem to know who they are when they show up – they tell me their names. Sometimes I do have to dig for secondary characters names.
My very favorite character name story concerns a character in the Mercy Street series. She was one I had not planned on – to this day don’t know where she came from, but as I was typing along, there she was, speaking to Robert Magellan in a very authoritative manner. I felt she was older, someone important to him, but not a relative, and I did not know what to call her. None of the names I tried out seemed to fit. So I kept typing, leaving the space for her name blank. A grandmother-type figure, but not Robert’s grandmother, someone he loved and trusted and respected, but again, not a relative. The more she spoke, the more I learned about her – but I still didn’t know her name. Right about then, I got an email from a reader, and as soon as I saw her name, I knew: it was perfect. It was HER. I wrote back to the reader and begged her to let me borrow her name for my character, and thankfully, she said yes. And so, Trula Comfort finally had a name.
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point? What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Mariah: Selling my first book! Making the New York Times list that first time was – and still is – huge, and a moment I’ll never forget. But selling that first book, MOMENTS IN TIME, and seeing it published – was the biggest thrill. The book was published on Valentine’s Day, 1995, and I’d been part of a big signing at Borders in Springfield, PA. The signing was great – over 100 copies of that book sold, and I was euphoric. My husband and I had planned on celebrating by going out to dinner with friends, but somehow, no one had remembered to make reservations. Every restaurant we stopped at had at least an hours wait, because, hello? Valentine’s Day! We ended up ordering pizza from our favorite place and washing it down with champagne in our kitchen. Somehow, it seemed the perfect end to one memorable day.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Mariah: Right now, I’m trying to decide which of three books to write first, so I’m playing around a little with each. I love the stories and the characters, soI keep going back and forth between the three! It’s almost time to flip a coin!
Follow Mariah’s Tour:
►6/22: Harlequin Junkies
►6/23: USA Today’s Happy Ever After
►6/24: Reviews from the Heart
►6/25: Booked on a Feeling
►6/26: From L.A. to LA
►6/27: From the TBR Pile
►6/28: Abigail Books Addiction
►6/29: Romancing the Book
►7/1: Four Chicks Flipping Pages
►7/2: The Lovely Books
►7/3: Sara’s Organized Chaos
►7/6: Reviews by Crystal
►7/8: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
►7/10: Emily-Jane’s Book Corner
►7/13: Literary Gossip
►7/19: Ramblings from this Chick
►7/26: Svetlana’s Reads