Interview With The Author: Stephanie Jane O'Neil - Picture Not So Perfect
Hello everyone! How are you guys doing? Today, I'm excited to share my interview with author Stephanie Jane O'Neil. I got to sit down with her to discuss her upcoming release, Picture Not So Perfect. It is an upcoming Christmas novella that I think everyone will want to keep their eyes on.
Picture Not So Perfect
November 19, 2021
Description: Christmas is a time we all cherish and adore, right? Not for 23-year-old photographer Holly, who after losing her mother on December 17th at the tragic age of 14, despises Christmas, and everything about it. Her love life is non existent, her friends list is practically zero, and she barely sees her family. Wanting to escape the holidays and the loneliness of her 4 apartment walls, Holly jumps at the opportunity to accept a photoshoot request from a family in England for 3 days. The request comes from charming Justin, who organises the photoshoot for his sister who is engaged, and his terminally ill grandmother.
Holly leaves her life behind and is unknowingly thrust into a world where Christmas, quite literally, throws up on her. To make matters worse, adverse weather conditions mean she may have to stay with the family and suffer through the festivities longer than she hoped.
After finding out about Holly’s dislike for Christmas, Justin makes a bet; he can make her fall in love with Christmas by the time she goes home. If he loses the bet, Holly keeps the family as a high paying client for life. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Will he succeed? Or will she continue to harness her bitter heart and miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime?
First of all, when is the official release date for your debut?
Picture Not So Perfect is officially out on November 19, 2021! Which is perfect to get into the Christmas spirit early, and maybe order as a gift for a book loving friend or family member!
What can readers expect from your debut?
Readers can definitely expect the magical feel of Christmas, one of my favorite times of the year! Even though it has heavy themes, it still retains the warmth and festivity of the holidays. And there is (of course) a lot of romance.
Where did you draw inspiration to write Picture Not So Perfect?
It all started as a dream, funnily enough. I woke up one day with the idea in my head, and next thing I know, I'm writing a Christmas novella in 26 days. I started in August and by September 1st I had the first draft of my novella complete.
The fundamental premise is loosely based on my personal life experiences. It's embellished, of course, but still follows the same issues. My mother died when I was 8-years-old, just before Christmas. Losing a parent that young is tragic, and it leaves you questioning a lot at a very young age. I wanted to write a story where my main character has this experience, where their life is thrown into turmoil without them even realizing it or knowing how to fix it.
How did you decide that Picture Not So Perfect would be your debut?
Great questions! It really was a spur of the moment decision. I have been writing a different novel for about 2 years, which I decided I wanted to be traditionally published, because it differs from any other book on the market. However, I knew I wanted to be a published author this year, and I wanted to write and share a unique story. As soon as I had the idea, I knew Picture Not So Perfect was it.
Did you pull from real-life experiences when drafting?
Yes, 100%. I used my experiences of losing my mother as serious inspiration. I'm also a photographer when I'm not writing or teaching, so I definitely had some inspiration and insight with Holly's profession!
My experience was different from Holly's, though, and it affected me in other ways. I flipped my experience onto its head and explored what it would be like if things were different.
Although I have a perfect relationship with my family and friends, and I'm in a very happy relationship, I'm not naive to admit that my life could have taken a completely different turn.
When you started writing your novella were you immediately aware that it was a special project?
Oh yes, absolutely. I felt like I was reconnecting with my mother, Tracey. As soon was the idea came to mind, I knew I had tow write it, and I did. Now I feel closer to her, and it feels like her memory will live on in whoever reads this book.
Are there any specific things you are hoping readers will take away from your story?
Life is too short to hold a grudge. It's precious and only happens once, so be happy and enjoy the cheesy tradition. Cherish the special moments with the people you love because you never know if you'll get another chance. Also, love is often right in front of you. You just have to let it in.
How has the process of preparing to publish your debut been different than what you expected going into it?
It was a rush. But an exciting one.I've got a strict deadline to publish in November and there is a lot to do. Off the top of my head, there is editing, betas, creating content, setting up preorders, and so much more. But I adore writing and everything that comes with it.
The response I've had since the announcement of this book has been incredible and has blown me away. I'm so excited to share this story with everyone and can't wait for you all to experience it.
What covers did you look toward for inspiration when coming up with yours?
The two main sources of inspiration for the cover are Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella and Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed.
There were also a lot of Christmas books I came across while researching, but there are too many to name! I really wanted the Christmas feel, with the snow and the Christmas tree, and for it to look like an advent calendar with the windows and other aspects.
If you don't mind me asking, who designed your cover?
The amazing Danielle Greaves! Her Instagram is @agenuineopinion , and I couldn't have done it without her! She has been a godsend, and I recommend her to any author coming to me to ask about covers.She has gone above and beyond for me, and I just think she's amazing.
Do you have any authors you look up to as a writer? Someone who inspires you in particular?
I have a lot of authors I get inspired by, but the ones who keep me motivated are definitely Sarah Sutton and Abbie Emmons. If it wasn't for their writing sprints, I think I would still be writing this novella!
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