Please help me welcome today’s guest, Stella Grae…
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I’m an English professor living in Lexington, Kentucky, but grew up in Tennessee. I’m a bibliophile and absolutely love teaching literature. I’m not married, but have a great partner who is very supportive of my writing. While I don’t have any pets, I do have books—shelves and shelves of books in my house. I’m thinking of getting a cat, but we’ll see. I’m still on the fence about that one. Cooking and trying new bourbons are my creature comforts right now, and I’m convinced that there’s nothing that cheese grits can’t make better!
Is there anything in particular you want to share about Just Call Me Confidence?
So, this will be an interesting answer because most authors pull some part of themselves into a work, even if it’s just their own personal fantasies. Just Call Me Confidence and its sequel, which I’m working on right now, were both born of a failed relationship. I was lonely in the relationship, but didn’t want to do anything stupid, so I created characters and situations that were based a little on reality, but twisted them to create the kind of relationship that I actually had wished I had had. Instead of doing the wrong thing I wrote it. The relationship fizzled, but fortunately, the plot sizzled.
What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?
For me, I think the most difficult part of writing any book is allowing the character to evolve organically, which is why I’m not a writer who outlines. I open a vein and let it pour out; I’m a pantser all the way! With erotica, the challenge is writing the love scenes. Not only do you have to find different words for different “things” or acts, but you endeavor to have some variety—just like in real life. I experiment a lot to make sure I’m getting it right—wink, wink.
What book have you read that you wish you had written?
I love, love, love Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. That is a hell of a piece of art. I’ve read it multiple times and every time I’m floored with jealousy. It’s a great example of how an author can completely intertwine all the points of view into one crazy, beautiful, creepy narrative. Adore Flynn as a writer!
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Just Call Me Confidence?
I’d really like for my readers to come away with the idea that you can rebrand and refine your confidence at any point in your life, especially if you’ve endured a rough patch. Sex appeal (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t get caught up in looking young; get caught up in being confident with who you are. It’s never too late to go after what you want!
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote, by far, is when Fielding, Jenna’s BFF, is comforting her after an unusual break up. Jenna is worried how Fielding and other people will see her. Fielding says, “I’ll never stoop to calling you a whore because you’re simply acting like a woman with a man’s morals.” That’s a perfect quote to me because even in 2023, sometimes women are held to different standards. Jenna and Fielding aren’t having any of that nonsense!
If you could spend time with a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? (PG-13 please 🙂
Hands down I would hang with Jenna’s BFF Fielding. She’s fun, flirty, dirty-minded, smart as hell, compassionate, and kind. She’s the kind of woman I’d like to be, and the kind who would take you to the adult bookstore for a toy if you didn’t have one—no shame in her game. Of course, she’d also hold you and feed you pizza and beer if that’s what you needed. I can imagine that if we spent the day together we’d hit a bar with great food for lunch (and dinner!), then spend time hiking, and try to go to a concert. It would be an epic adventure!
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I think the toughest criticism has always been any rejection—for any reason. As an author, you spend so much time preparing your book for the world and you dream big, then…rejection. One of the worst rejections came from an editor who said I should stick to writing what I know, which I think is awful advice because think of all the books that would never have come to be! The absolute best compliment came from an acquisitions editor for a very well known publisher (she’s acquired books that have sold millions of copies—squeal!) and she loved Just Call Me Confidence. She read it all, told me she loved the story and the characters, and said it reminded her of Sex and the City, but it was too spicy for the publisher’s line. It was a great compliment though! I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Oh, they definitely are based on real people, but my characters usually end up being an amalgam of different people—reality mixed with fantasy to fill in the gaps. Of course, you don’t want to be sued, so you do have to take what you create and mold it enough so that doesn’t happen. I’m not sure I could entirely create a character without a real-life inspiration.
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
I’m not really into celebrities, but I could totally be a stalker when it comes to famous authors. I once met Silas House at a book fair and was on cloud nine for like two weeks. He was very cordial and accommodating. He spoke to me a little bit about writing and signed my book.
How did you come up with the title?
Just Call Me Confidence originally had another title that was pretty naughty, so my editor said, “Look, the book will be thrown into the dungeons of Amazon if we don’t change the title.” So, I read and re-read the first couple of chapters and sketched out title after title until I honed in on that idea: confidence. I liked that the protagonist was kind of sassy and it just all came together. I penned the new title on a piece of scrap paper and I knew it was the one!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The most important message is just to be confident in who you are and don’t look back. Don’t have regrets, don’t yearn for a past time, just live in the now, in the moment, and love where you are.
How much of the book is realistic?
There are definitely some love scenes that I derived from experience, shall we say, but the relationships are totally fantasy, not to say it couldn’t happen. The most realistic parts are the scenes between Jenna and Fielding. That is best friend love at its finest. There’s a lot of comedy, too—laughing at the pains in life, which for me, is very realistic, and something I highly recommend.
With two men vying for her heart, Jenna Craig is ready to reclaim her confidence, but is she ready for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now?
I hold my breath and walk into the club. My skin swells with goose bumps and I hear the catch in my own nervous voice.
Inside these four walls I could meet my fantasy, my desire, and maybe even my destiny. Or, maybe just a really good time–just for tonight. I can do whatever I want to do because tonight, I’m free–in so many ways.
The bass pumps through my body while I scan the men and women, grinding in slow motion waves. A fever breaks out all over my body with a sudden mist of sweat collecting in the small of my back and between my breasts. I want that to be me.
My mind suddenly takes a Debbie-Downer side trip: Am I still young enough, hot enough, and savvy enough to start over? I know I’m not the prettiest woman out there, but that’s not what entices a man and keeps him coming back for more. It’s strength and substance, and those can only come from confidence, which is derived from experience. I have interesting sports stories. I can intelligently discuss, and have an opinion about politics, economics, and social issues. I’m educated; I have a real job. I’ve traveled, and I can cook. I’ve had a wide variety of experiences, which makes me interesting, and sexy-as-hell confident.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I can screw without hang-ups, unlike many of my younger sisters-in-arms. And apparently, that makes me hot, especially to the under-thirty-and-male crowd.
The guys here are too young to understand the difference, though, but I think, that’s kinda liberating…no explaining my past, no worry about the future. It’s all about the here and now. YOLO…
I laugh and smile, getting a secret thrill out of the college-aged guys sitting behind my friends and me, rubbernecking on us. The brown-haired clown in the group hijacks me with his hazel eyes and mouthes, “Call me.” Keep the drinks coming fellas, maybe you’ll get lucky, and you’ll definitely go broke trying.
My face aches from smiling so much. I think tonight proved something I’ve forgotten about myself. When I get a whistle or a double-take, or even a lingering look, I know I cannot deny it: For better or worse, I still have it. Just call you, huh, baby? Just call me confidence.
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-call-me-confidence-stella-grae/1142958506?ean=9781509248223
About the Author:
Stella Grae is an unassuming English professor, copyeditor, and copywriter living in Lexington, Kentucky. She’s the author of the short story “Power Play” that was originally published in the website erotica journal Oysters and Chocolate. In her spare time she enjoys sipping on bourbon, nibbling cheesy grits, and philosophizing about love and sex in her blog, “Bone Up,” which can be found on her website along with other sexy tidbits. This is her first erotica novel.
Amazon Central Author Page: