Thursday, 5 February 2015

An interview with author Stephanie N. Pitman

Here's a first for my blog - an interview with an author! Today, it gives me great delight to introduce you to Stephanie N. Pitman, author of the YA contemporary novel, HONORABLE DISGRACE, which was officially released earlier this week. I met Stephanie via an online critique group a couple of years ago, and I've had the honour* and privilege of reading an earlier version of her novel.

*Yes, that's the British spelling - you don't know how much I've had to resist referring to your book as HONOURABLE DISGRACE, Stephanie!

Here's the blurb about Stephanie's book:

Angie Adams joins the powerlifting team her junior year, but she has more in mind than just toning up - like getting closer to her crush, football star Cory Jacob, who, as luck would have it, is assigned as her spotting partner. When Angie's feelings are unexpectedly returned, her life is suddenly filled with the giddy electricity of first love. But why, then, does Angie get a little flutter when her older and very hot boss, Brad, looks at her? 

Angie seems to have everything going her way, until her world is torn apart by her sister's betrayal which leads to a brutal rape. Heartbroken and reeling in the aftermath, Angie has to find an internal strength to rival her record-breaking power lifts if she ever wants to feel worthy of love again.

And here's an extract from the opening chapter:

The weight of the barbell pressed into my palms as I strained to lift it, the crosshatch pattern marking my skin. Sweat made it slick and hard to hold. You would think the sweat was due to the fact I was lifting weights, but that wasn’t the case. At least not entirely. The deep blue eyes of my longtime crush, the unbelievably handsome, not to mention funny, Cory Jacobs, looked down at me. His hands hovered below the bar, spotting my hundred pound load. This close I could see flecks of green surrounding his black irises, his golden skin smooth over his prominent cheekbones.

“Fantastic, Angie.” His smile set my already elevated heartbeat to an almost frantic pace. “You can lift quite a bit for a girl.”

I pressed my lips tightly together at the sexist comment, but my distaste eased at the touch of his fingers as he tweaked my bicep. When Coach Harrington had paired us up that morning, an inexperienced lifter, myself, with an experienced one, Cory, I’d almost squealed with barely contained delight. I still couldn’t believe my luck.

It was the first day of practice for the powerlifting team. One downside was the time of practice. Before school. It was that, or not have a team.

And here's the trailer:

Okay, on with the interview!

HONORABLE DISGRACE, although fictional, was based on an actual event in your life. How hard has it been for you to write the novel, Stephanie, and did you find the process cathartic?

Stephanie: Yes, it was very healing. Honorable Disgrace is the book I never planned on writing. About 5 years ago, I woke from a nightmare about my ordeal. I’d had it before, but it was more frequent and more vivid than before. I thought I’d put my experience behind me, but I had only buried it. It wasn’t hard to write it, but it was hard to think about other people reading it and harder still to allow others to read it. Before writing Honorable Disgrace, my husband and a few friends, were the only ones who knew I’d been raped. I hadn’t even told my sister what had happened, the one who had put me in the situation where I was raped. But now I can talk about it and my hope is that through my book and the sharing of my experience, I may be able to help some other girl to know they are still beautiful and deserving of all the good things life has to offer.

I hope you achieve that, too. If there is one piece of advice you could give a girl who finds herself in Angie’s situation, what would it be?

Stephanie: It would definitely be to talk to someone. Don’t keep it in. It’s not your fault and whether or not you want justice for what happened, you need to talk so you can heal.

That is so true. What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Stephanie: Everyone has an inner strength that you’ll never know about unless you are tested. Did I want my test, my trial, to be this horrible? Of course not. But there are many other girls who have to endure it again and again and most often at the hand of a loved one. What I really want people to take away from this is terrible things happen to us all the time. The only control we have is how we choose to react to it. I have forgiven my sister for her part in my rape and I’ve also forgiven my attacker. To keep that anger and rage in my heart was a poison and the only way to truly recover is to forgive.

It can't have been easy to forgive - you are an amazing and inspiring woman, Stephanie.

Your main character, Angie Adams, joins the powerlifting team at school, which is something I haven’t encountered before in a YA novel. What research did you do to make these scenes authentic?

Stephanie: First, I was a weightlifter in high school. And I always wanted to be on the wrestling team, but my dad would have none of it. Powerlifting was not available as a high school sport when I attended.  So, Angie did a lot of the things I wished I had had the courage to do in high school. Like get the hot guy she’d been crushing on. And more importantly, fighting back and not remaining a victim.

Ah, I wondered whether you were writing from experience in those powerlifting scenes. Remind me not to get on your bad side!

Despite the dark subject matter, there are uplifting moments in HONORABLE DISGRACE. What’s one of your favourite lines or scenes in the novel?

Stephanie: Hmmm, good question. And tough to decide. I have to say when Cory takes Angie on their first official date. Cory has a lot of thoughtful surprises for Angie, which shows how much he does like her and perhaps how long he has liked her and when things get a little hot, a little too fast, he’s okay with Angie pulling back. And Angie actually falls asleep on him, too.

So sweet! There are many different stages to the writing process, from giving personalities to your characters or plotting the story, to finishing the first draft or incorporating beta feedback. What stage do you enjoy the most?

Stephanie: Well, I’d have to say my least favorite is the first draft. I can’t tell you how many times I sit there staring at that blank space waiting for inspiration to strike. My favorite stage in the process has got to be revisions. I love going back once I’ve got all the groundwork done, and smoothing all the rough edges, making sure the plot runs smooth, the characters are fleshed and the descriptions are real, but don’t take over the movement of the story. Revisions are definitely the icing on top of the cake.

I agree - I definitely prefer revising. Most writers have more than one story they’re itching to get on page. What are you currently working on?

Stephanie: Yes, I fall into that category of more than one story. I have too many. I have a YA trilogy I’ve been working on for a number of years, which draws on a lot of Mayan mythology, but it is set in current day Montana. But most recently I started another YA for NaNoWriMo - which I failed to finish by the deadline. It can be hard to work on something new when you’re trying to get a book ready for publication J. That one is called Love’s Lock and is based in Paris. There’s danger, intrigue, romance, of course, and reincarnation. But on the back burner I have enough ideas for another five or six books, ranging from Mid Grade to New Adult.

Ooh, la, la!  Paris, eh? LOVE'S LOCK sounds very promising (hurry up and finish so I can have a read! J).

Many people express the desire to write a novel, but get no further than that. What support or tips did you find helpful to finish the first draft of your manuscript?

Stephanie: I am continually astounded by authors who create their own worlds and have so many depths within them. JK Rowling for one. Amazing. I don’t think I will ever be in league with one of those authors. For me, it helped that it was something I knew. That was one part of it. But still I don’t think I would have finished it without the support and encouragement of my writing friends. I have some pretty awesome friends. So, if you are serious about writing, get supportive people around you, and not just family, but supportive like minded people. I joined the SCBWI 6 or so years ago and I know that was instrumental in where I am today. You meet authors in your area, agents and editors looking for what you have to give and getting your foot in the door with them. I cannot express enough how important being part of a group like the SCBWI is. But even with all of that, you have to set SMART goals.

Yes, we live so much in a vacuum when we're writing - it's important to connect with other writers for support.

Writers are encouraged to read, read, read – not just in their genre, but to explore new ones, too. What sort of books do you like to read for pleasure?

Stephanie: Oh, I read. Boy, do I read. But I am guilty of not branching out. I love my YA fantasy books. Julie Kagawa, Andrea Cremer, Brandon Mull, Stephenie Meyers, Veronica Roth, Cassandra Clare, to name a few. But I do try to incorporate new ones in there every now and then. I love Stephen King and Gerald Lund, which as authors go, they are on complete different sides of the spectrum. John Grisham is another favorite. My goodreads bookshelf shows my somewhat eclectic interests.

I enjoyed sneaking a peek at your goodreads bookshelf - I might have to check out some of those YA fantasy books for myself. J

Okay, final question.  If you could go on a fictional (or non-fictional) quest - this blog is entitled Quest Seekers, after all! - wherever or whenever you like, what would you like it to include?

Stephanie: This is a tough one. My life is such an adventure already. I love the quests where you never know where you’re going to end up. Brandon Mulls Fabelhaven and Beyonder series come to mind, along with any of Jennifer Fallons books. Any quest I go on would have to have magic and fairies and other fantastical beings. And of course there would have to be a super, hot love interest with plenty of muscle. J  (Me: That quest gets my vote!)

Thanks so much for this, Annette. It has been a pleasure being part of our online critique group which includes many places in the US and across the pond. I am grateful for your part in helping me get to where I am with my writing and so glad I’ve got to know you. Can’t wait for your turn.

It's been a pleasure to interview you, Stephanie! Good luck with the rest of your blog tour and with the book itself.  J

If you have any questions for Stephanie, put them in the comments section below and she'll stop by later to answer them for you.


Stephanie's: Facebook   Pinterest   Website

Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @stephpitman11

Stephanie N. Pitman has taught preschool for over 12 years and is a motivated entrepreneur, currently operating two successful businesses with her husband, Travis. She is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel, a YA Contemporary, Honorable Disgrace, is based on her own story of overcoming the ugly side of life, betrayal and rape. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and an active member of the SCBWI. Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband of 16 years, and their two boys, visiting the beautiful splendor and diversity of their home state of Montana. Along with being an avid reader and dedicated writer, she enjoys pushing herself to her best by competing in triathlons, relay races, and half marathons along with being a Zumba and Yoga Instructor.



  1. Thanks so much Annette. I can't wait to go on that quest together :-)

  2. But there will have to be two hunks. We don't want to ruin our friendship fighting over the same muscley hero (I know, not a word.I'm taking creative license here.)

    1. You've thought this all out, haven't you? Lol!