Please welcome the wondrous Stephanie Grey to the StudioBlog, where we’ll be chatting about all sorts of things, including her book, Division Tennessee, which sounds great. Without further ado, let’s go!

Studioenp: Silence or noise when writing?

Stephanie: I prefer background instrumental music. I listened to jazz guitar when I wrote my first release, A Witchly Influence. For Division Tennessee, my latest novel, I listened to Classical Goes Pop on Pandora.

 

Studioenp: Cool! What’s your latest release?

Stephanie: Division Tennessee. Wild Dreams Publishing, my publisher, is releasing it on June 1st, 2018. It’s a fresh spin on the zombie genre where, rather than the story taking place at the beginning or in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, it is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Society is under Reconstruction, much like what the USA saw after the Civil War. Zombie Response Team, or ZRT, is based in the capital of each state with branches throughout to cover the cities attempting to rebuild. Divided into teams of four, each one is led by a team leader and their job is to eliminate any remaining threats from the undead.

Hordes suddenly appear out of nowhere and, during their search for the source of the outbreaks, Team Mayfair discovers a plot that could throw the entire town of Pine Valley into chaos. Will they be able stop whatever is causing the outbreaks and save Pine Valley or will the zombies spread and yank the world back into war?

 

Studioenp: Wowsers. Really does sound fab. How did the plot come about for it?

Stephanie: Candidly, the plot came about as I wrote it. I enjoy dystopian novels and thought it’d be fun to write my own zombie tale. I wrote the first scene and it wasn’t until I got to the third one where Team Mayfair is introduced that I decided I had more depth for the direction I wanted to take. I didn’t want it to be about blood, gore, and death. Don’t misunderstand me, there are those things, but I wanted to focus more on the relationships people have as they’re healing from a war that nearly destroyed the world.

I had an overall idea by the end of the third scene of what I wanted to do and, like most writers, little twists and turns just popped up along the journey. These characters are so real in your head, and the best justice you can do is really bring them to life on paper for others to love as much as you do.

 

Studioenp: Agreed! How long did it take you to write it?

Stephanie: I took me eight years to complete it, but I wasn’t working on it that entire time. It was Christmastime and I was working in the office on site for a general contractor. Almost everyone was away for vacation while I was alone in the office. There was a skeleton crew outside, and I had no other tasks left to do. Sitting at my computer, I took advantage of my time alone and wrote the prologue to what would become Division Tennessee. I had always loved to write and, feeling exhilarated, continued to write the opening scene of chapter one.

After that, I emailed a copy of it to myself and didn’t get back to it for eight years. I had started working in the evenings as an assistant MMA coach, so my days and nights were filled. Even my weekends were dominated with work because I was always out of town to coach fights or jiu-jitsu tournaments. I did that until I decided to move to Nashville and, while I was no longer a coach, I still went to work as a project assistant during the day and trained at night at a MMA gym near my new home.

I got married, and my husband was stationed in Hawaii. I had an awful experience with a local company and quit and was really at a loss. For the first time I wasn’t super busy each day. My husband asked me what I wanted to do, and I honestly didn’t know. I went through my old files and found my story that I had started so many years prior and dragged out an old notebook where I promptly began writing notes. They’re basic notes that every writer has: character names, features, their quirks, etc. I had always wanted to write a book and I was hesitant to tell my husband that this was what I wanted to do. I was standing at the sink washing dishes and just blurted out, “I’ve been writing again. I want to finish this. I want to write a book.” He was extremely supportive and, about seven months later, Division Tennessee was completed.

 

Studioenp: Excellent that you have such great support. What’s next on your writing list?

Stephanie: I completed a novel, The Immortal Prudence Blackwood, but it’s undergoing revisions and tweaks at the moment. When I’m not working on that, I’ve been writing for my fourth project. This one is different for me because it’s set in a realistic world where there’s no magic or a dead human trying to eat you or a mysterious immortal creature. I watched Fried Green Tomatoes recently and decided that I could also write a Southern tale and that’s what I’m doing. (Sorry, Mom, you’re going to need your waterproof mascara if I do my job correctly.)

 

Studioenp: LOL. Plotter or panster?

Stephanie: I am one hundred percent a pantser. I tried to write an outline for my fourth project because I was inspired by someone in my writers’ group. The woman had displayed a wall filled with sticky notes painstakingly showing every moment that was going to happen as well as a five-page character backstory and explanation for each character she had created.

That’s definitely not my style. I found myself getting bored knowing what was going to happen, which is a ridiculous thing to say because it’s coming out of my own head, but not everything is supposed to make sense. I kept the overall plot points but scrapped my outline. The best way to describe this feeling is thinking of William Wallace shouting, “Freedom!”

 

Studioenp: Em’s a punster, so she can relate. What is your go-to form of procrastination?

Stephanie: Online window shopping. I don’t shop often, but I seem to really enjoy putting items in a bag and then moving on before actually making a purchase. God, it’s such a waste of time.

 

Studioenp: But a satisfying one. How many hours per week do you write?

Stephanie: I get to write around twenty hours a week. Sometimes it’s more and sometime it’s less. It just depends on what’s happening that week.

 

Studioenp: Yes, life gets in the way! What’s one genre you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t—and will you ever write it?

Stephanie: I’d really love to be able to write a great psychological thriller, but I’m realistic. It’s not going to happen. I’d be afraid that people would see the outcome from miles away and, honestly, I don’t want to write another book that’s so serious. I have a quirky sense of humor that’s seen in both A Witchly Influence and Division Tennessee. When I wrote The Immortal Prudence Blackwood, I took it very seriously because it’s about a serial killer. It was tough to write and, while I’m proud of my work, it’s a challenge I don’t want to take again.
 

 

Studioenp: What’s the best book you’ve written?

Stephanie: The best book I’ve written? Shhh, they’ll hear you. I can’t answer that. That’s like asking me which of my two cats is my favorite. I honestly couldn’t say because I’m proud of all of them.

 

Studioenp: Good for you! Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, and we wish you oodles of success with your books.

Dear readers, today we have banoffee pie for those who like a bit of nana, and raspberry roulade for those who don’t. Or you could take a slice of each, we’re not watching. Enjoy!

Blurb for Division Tennessee:

Three years have passed since the zombie outbreak almost destroyed the world. Humanity fought back and the Zombie Response Team was created, an organization that has numerous divisions throughout the United States that are dispatched to destroy the dwindling undead population.

Division Tennessee Team Leader Elisabeth Mayfair, an Abnormal who gained superhuman abilities after she was bitten, has noticed an unsettling pattern: an uprising of zombies in the small town of Pine Valley. Elisabeth and her team are tested to their limits as they face hordes that appear out of nowhere, a plot that will throw Pine Valley into chaos, and betrayal as they search for the cause of the outbreaks. Will they be able to discover the source in time or will the virus spread and be the downfall of humanity?

About Stephanie Grey:

Stephanie Grey can often be found writing at her desk, one of her cats curled up by her feet. She isn’t necessarily a crazy cat lady yet, but that’s only because of the limitations her husband has put on the amount of pets that they have.

She is originally from Tennessee where she obtained a degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University. These days she lives in Hawaii where she avoids the ocean because she doesn’t like being so low on the food chain once she is standing in ankle-deep water. She does, however, enjoy hiking, riding the mountain bike trails, and viewing the gorgeous sunsets.

Writing has always been present in Stephanie’s life. From a young age, she has been writing short stories for her family to enjoy. When she entered high school, she decided that she would one day write a full-length novel. She finally achieved her goal and completed her first novel on November 1, 2016. She continues to write and hopes to be able to share her stories with the world for many years to come.

 

  

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