Stephanie Kepke (Author Interview)
Please tell us a little about yourself, the romance subgenre(s) in which you write, and your newest book.
I’m a former music journalist and copywriter, but I’ve always written fiction. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl – I can’t think of any career I’d rather have. It’s so rewarding when a reader feels a connection to my work.
I write in the subgenre of Women’s Fiction. My latest release is Goddess of Suburbia, which came out this past August.
What inspired you to write romance fiction?
There’s nothing more interesting to me than the dance between two people falling in love, already in love or rediscovering love – all themes I’ve explored in my work. There’s such an incredibly rich tapestry of emotions to mine for romance stories – joy and heartbreak comingle in all good romances.
Tell us about your favorite hero from one of your stories. What do you love about him?
It’s hard to choose between Zach from A New Life (a new dad who’s all too human, but truly loves his wife, even if he doesn’t always know how to show it) and Ben from Goddess of Suburbia (a sexy bad boy rocker turned music teacher). I guess I’d have to choose Ben – I spent years writing and refining him and I love that he’s willing to wait for Max, while she figures her life out. I also love that he can apologize and, of course there’s his willingness to be completely vulnerable. That to me is so sexy.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
My favorite part of writing is discovering the emotion at the heart of the story – I love writing stories that make my readers feel something (one of the biggest compliments I’ve received in a review is that my stories are “so real, it almost hurts,” from Comfy Reading blog). If my eyes well up with tears while I’m writing, I know I’m onto something good.
What stories do you have in the works right now?
I am working on a novel, Feel No Evil, about a rape survivor, Kate, whose attacker, Vin, shows up decades later as someone she may know on Facebook. Seeing Vin’s face again threatens the “normal” existence Kate has worked so hard to build as a wife and mother. That book is a bit of a psychological thriller, with a hefty dose of romance, as Kate turns to an old friend for comfort when her marriage threatens to crumble.
I also am early on in a novel (untitled) about a single mother of a son battling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who is trying to get back into the dating world a few years after her husband committed suicide. She falls for a man who seems completely wrong on paper, simply because he connects with her son and reaches him like no one else can.
Finally, I have a book coming out on January 11, 2016 from The Wild Rose Press, You & Me. In it, forty year old Alex Spencer has given up on love after escaping from an abusive relationship. Alex’s daughter is her whole world, but as Valentine’s Day approaches, Alex searches for her high school sweetheart who has seemingly disappeared. Alex longs to find him and find out if love is sweeter the second time around.
An award winning writer and blogger, Stephanie’s second grade teacher told her she should be a writer and she hasn’t wavered in her path since. In her past life – before kids – Stephanie was an arts reporter and music journalist. She spent her twenties listening to loud rock bands (including her drummer husband’s) in bars all around Boston and New England. She lives in New York on Long Island with her husband, three boys and two slightly crazy rescue dogs (one of whom is three-legged). She lives in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound and loves to her toes in the sand.
Suburbia meets scandal in this hopeful and honest portrayal of that moment in every woman’s life when it’s time to make a change, even if that means risking losing it all. Goddess of Suburbia by Stephanie Kepke is a must-read for women looking to reconnect with their passions and live authentically. When pillar of the community and PTA mom, Max, allowed her husband, Nick, to record a sex video of them on his cell phone, she thought of it as simply a way to keep Nick interested and entertained during his frequent business trips. But suddenly, Max is trending everywhere–her video lighting up the blogosphere and Twitter, thanks to the fact that she’s a genuine, imperfect woman. Now the paparazzi are chronicling her every move; her daughter wants to disown her; and her marriage has completely fallen apart. Just as things can’t get any more chaotic, Max’s college boyfriend, shows up two decades after he broke her heart. Now Max must learn to stop going through the motions of her life on auto-pilot and start living authentically, or risk forever being a suburban lemming running towards the cliff of old age.
The paparazzi start trailing me the moment I pull out of my driveway at 532 Rockwell Circle. My street sounds fancier than it is—mostly ranches and capes dot the landscape of postage stamp size lots. It’s a slice of blue collar nestled in this mostly upper-middle class Long Island town. My neighbors have never seen a line of paparazzi follow anyone, and they certainly have never seen the paparazzi follow a worn out mom dragging her cranky son to ShopRite for eggs and milk. One of my neighbors glances up from watering her mums and stares at the spectacle, jaw slack, until small muddy puddles form at her feet.
It is an achingly beautiful October day. It’s the kind of day that reminds me why autumn is my favorite season—blue skies and no humidity. There’s the tiniest bite of a chill in the air, mild enough though that the sweatshirt jackets necessary this morning will be stuffed in backpacks by this afternoon. I would love to take a detour, take my four year old son, Sam, to the playground. I would love to catch him at the bottom of the slide, give him a push on the swings while he pretends to be on a spaceship, valiantly pumping his little legs. Only I can’t. I constantly glance in my rear view mirror. Are they still there? Where will these pictures end up? How much more can my family take? Like the silver spheres of a pinball machine, these thoughts bounce around my brain.
In the parking lot I shield Sam from the cameras exploding like flashes of lightning around us as we try to make our way into ShopRite. He is gripping a handful of my shirt in each fist, his face pressed into my stomach. His voice is muffled as he wails, “Why are all these people around us, Mommy? Why are they keeping us from going in the store?”
I’m breaking out in a sweat, panicking that I might not actually be able to get food for my children. My heart is hammering in my chest and I’m beginning to feel a bit speckly as I beg the faces behind those massive lenses, “Please, back away. You’re scaring my son. We just need to get food.” One photographer steps back a few feet, letting us by. Maybe he’s a parent, maybe he just feels bad for me. Maybe, he’s realized I’m not that interesting…