Fragile but practical Shelby Stewart and ambitious, confident Astrid Ericcson just want to start their PR careers in 1980s Boston and maybe find a nice guy to hang out with. But long-buried memories of incest at the hands of her local hero stepfather keep interrupting Shelby’s plans, affecting her health one way after another. And when will she actually date someone her friends think is good enough for her?
Astrid thinks she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting but is forced to re-visit her career advancement strategy when her boss Brad takes the innuendoes to a whole new, scary level, threatening her job and her safety.
Suddenly, instead of taking charge of their lives, both women find themselves spinning out of control.
In this fast-paced story for the #MeToo generation, the women reach new highs and lows in life, work and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I’m not picky. Mostly, I just need a lot of desktop space so I can spread out my notes and post-its when I’m plotting a story. And I need two computer monitors; if you haven’t tried that yet, you should — it’s a life-changer!
Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Yes, but don’t tell my friends that! I often think of someone I know to get a basic physical description and personality in my head. It’s like a starting point for a character. But within a short time, the character has morphed into someone new who no longer looks or acts like the original.
Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No, I use my phone to take notes.
Which genre do you not like at all?
I’m not anti-romance novel. If I’m in the mood, that can work for me. But in general, I prefer to use my imagination for romantic scenes. In the Outlander series, there were times I wished Jamie and Claire would stop fooling around so we could get on with the fascinating story!
If you had the chance to co-write a book, whom would it be with?
I know so many people with fascinating stories to tell. I would love to bring their stories to life. Or my daughter, and maybe that will happen some day.
If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
All of them, because they are there! J
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I just try to pick something appropriate for the era and the character’s ancestry. Sometimes you can have fun with it though. The stepfather in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades has the surname Humbertson, after Humbert Humbert in Nabokov’s Lolita.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Kurt Vonnegut. I’d love to know if he was as concise and terse when speaking as he was when writing.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
There are so many good places to read…at the beach, in front of a roaring fire, curled up in bed. My favorite place as a girl in the farmhouse I grew up in was in the attic, tucked into an old padded chair, with an apple or two for snacks.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
If it’s a work day, I’ll be at my computer doing marketing consulting work for solar energy companies. If it’s the weekend, I’ll be walking my dog in the woods, sitting on the dock with my boyfriend, at a yoga class, or on the phone with a family member. I’m very lucky!
Thank you, S.M. Stevens
About the author
S.M. Stevens began writing during back-to-back health crises: a shattered pelvis and ovarian cancer. She has self-published Shannon’s Odyssey (Middle Grade) and the Bit Players series (Young Adult). When not writing, she provides marketing and PR to solar energy companies. She lives in New England.