Stephanie Spangler is the author of Dark Designs, a paranormal fantasy centered around a magical legacy bestowed upon twin sisters and the sinister evil they must face.
Stefanie has always loved books and reading, and one day, she decided to write a book of her own. She lives in central Illinois with her husband and daughters. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s usually editing someone else’s book. But she also enjoys gardening, knitting, and forcing others to read her favorite books.
Since she’s an emerging writer, I had a few questions for Spangler – and she was forthcoming with her responses.
Thank you for interviewing with us today, Stephanie. Tell us about Dark Designs. How would you describe your book to those who are unaware it exists?
I am pretty sure that most people don’t know it exists, so this is a great question. 😊
It’s about two sisters, Ivy and Violet, who were raised by their grandparents after their mother leaves under rather mysterious circumstances. They’ve grown up in a small town, where everyone knows everyone’s business, but they’ve managed to keep a few secrets. The biggest one is that they’ve inherited magic from their grandmother.
They’re basically just trying to fit in while keeping a secret in a small town, but a man who has found dark magic of his own comes to town and threatens more than just their secret.
And what’s your story?
Like the Grant family in the story, I live in rural Illinois. I do not own an apple orchard, but I do have three really crooked apple trees that I obsess over. After college, I tried a few things and realized the career path I was on wasn’t really leading where I wanted to go. So I tried a few more things then settled into editing. I’ve been editing, mostly line editing, for indie authors for about five years now, and a couple of years into that, I decided to write my own book. And here we are!
Most of the time, I’m working in the dark after my kids’ bedtime, sitting on the raggedy couch in my living room because my daughters took over my home office and turned it into a playroom years ago. Since my oldest goes to preschool now, I sometimes get to work during daylight hours, and then, I’m usually at the library, lurking in the graphic novels section.
What was the best and worst part of writing Dark Designs?
I think the editing process is both the best and the worst part. For some people, the editing is what comes after, but for me, this was part of the writing because so much changed after the first draft. Getting the first edit back is terrifying because even thought it’s coming from a good place, it’s still criticism—and that’s hard. On the flip side, though, once that part was finished, seeing the improvements was really rewarding.
Is this a standalone or can we expect a series?
For now, it’s a standalone, but that might change in the future because several of the characters have unfinished business.
How do you get to know your characters?
Some of my characters are more or less composites of real people I know. So in a way, I’ve known them for a very long time.
Which character is your favorite and why?
He certainly wouldn’t be my favorite person in real life, but Charlie Logan was my favorite to write. He gives in to his urges, even when he can see it won’t end well for anyone involved, including him, and I’ve always been curious about what makes people like Charlie tick.
Three words that represent your book?
Magic. Family. Belonging.
What is your writing process?
My process is kind of all over the place. For Dark Designs, I started out pantsing, then decided I need to plot. Then got carried away into a lot more pantsing, which led to serious plotting during rewrites. And then there was more plotting during content edits.
What kind of research do you do for your book?
I researched Wiccan beliefs and practices to incorporate magic into the story, but most of the research I did involved small details that I felt went a long way to making the story more real.
I chose a setting a few years in the past for the story, so some of the research involved checking to see if things that are pretty common today would have existed during the story setting. It’s set in 2005, which isn’t all that long ago, but for me, it was difficult to separate what I know now from what I would have known then. For example, when I referenced an Amber Alert in the book, I had to make sure that existed in 2005.
Are there any authors who have inspired you to write?
I always enjoyed Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde stories when I was younger, and I would say those stories planted the seed for Dark Designs. I’m also a Charlaine Harris fan, and the small-town characters in her Southern Vampire Mysteries series made me think that there are readers out there who might be interested in urban fantasy that isn’t really urban at all. There are also plenty of indie authors I would love to be in the “also boughts” list with: Claire Farrell, Darcey Coates, Tamara Rose Blodgett, Craig Andrews… Basically, I’m just a little bit inspired by everything I read.
What is your writing kryptonite and how do you overcome it?
Time. I have to young daughters, and I work from home, so it seems there’s never enough time—for anything. Honestly, though, I don’t really know how to overcome it. I just accept that it takes me forever to finish writing things.
What does your writing space look like? We’d love to see it!
Any advice for fellow writers?
Beta readers or a writer’s group are great assets, and editors are a must. Embrace that process of changes that happen from the first draft to the final draft because it will make a difference.
Let’s ask a few fun questions. If you could assign a theme song to Dark Designs, what would it be?
“Sinister Purpose” by Creedence Clearwater Revival That would definitely be Charlie Logan’s theme song.
What is your favorite word?
Petrichor: A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather. Even though you won’t find this word in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary—not yet anyway—it is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. I like it because I enjoy words about experiences and sensations in nature.
What are you reading right now?
Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel is up next on my reading list.
If you could name a drink after your books, what would it be?
Hmm… an apple wine of some kind, probably, since the Grant family in the book run an apple orchard. Audrey’s Apple Wine, maybe? I’m bad at titles. Also, I just sort of assumed you meant an alcoholic drink. 😉
A lemur walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
“Hey, are the tacos ready?” He’s here for Taco Tuesday! I love tacos, but the rest of my family is sick of eating tacos. So I invite random primates over for tacos now.
Those are all awesome answers! Once again, a huge thanks to Stephanie Spangler for interviewing with us and for supplying us with a copy of her book. I hope you’ll check out AJ’s review of Dark Designs.
Curious about Stephanie Spangler?
Interested in purchasing Dark Designs?
Check out these links!