Lily: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Stefan. We liked reading Autumn Leaves. First, I’d like to ask a few questions about the book. What inspired you to write this story?
Stefan: I set out to write Autumn Leaves to explore what I hope are genuine personal challenges set against tragedy, lost love, and possible fulfillment. The gossamer wings of love can snare us and make two people content for life, or they can flutter away in a moment without any rational reason, if there is ever a reason why love fades. What I trust readers will appreciate is, regardless how long love touches us, those moments must be treasured without expectation of having it for years. A day of fulfilling love can be a lifetime of joy. Autumn Leaves demonstrates that.
Lily: It definitely touched my heart. Do the names of your characters have any special meaning to you?
Stefan: I strive to label my characters with interesting and unusual names that will stick in the reader’s mind. I do that with all my novels. In Autumn Leaves, I deliberately named Aviana as a symbol of inspiration and hope for Dural Sinclair.
Lily: Aviana is a beautiful name and stuck with me. What was the hardest scene for you to write?
Stefan: In the hospital where Dural’s daughter Daniela lay dying after being struck down by a car took some effort to write. I wanted to achieve a balance between sensitivity to the unfolding tragedy without descending into trite emotional narrative. I think I got it right.
Lily: I think you achieved what you were aiming for. Now, we’d like to talk about you as a writer. Do you like to outline or fly by the seat of your pants when writing?
Stefan: My background in IT demanded precision and accuracy in everything or things didn’t work. That discipline definitely influenced how I approached writing. With my short stories, I don’t generally plan in detail, but I do jot down sequential points to frame a skeleton for the plot. Sometimes, though, a story simply unfolds in one or two writing sessions. With a novel, the process is far more elaborate. I start with a series of outline points, develop a short outline, then research material for authenticity. That is always an interesting exercise, as I get to discover things I was not previously aware of in detail. Once I have all my material, I create a detailed outline, which can range from half-a-dozen pages to twenty. Everything is in there, and I begin to write with confidence that I have not overlooked something important. Like building a house, a novel needs a plan. However, once I start writing, my characters sometimes take me in unexpected directions, which often enriches the story. It is also fun to let my characters take charge … for a little while.
Lily: Sometimes characters really do drive the story. I can see how having a road map of sorts would be helpful, however. Where do you find inspiration strikes the most often?
Stefan: I have lots of ideas for possible short stories and novels. These simmer in the back of my mind, generated by life’s experiences, relationships, books I have read, fiction and non-fiction, and movies. Sometimes, though, an idea can strike from nowhere and I am hooked, driven to develop it into something. The problem I face is nurturing an idea I hope has not been hashed to death by other authors, and that is where some research is required.
Lily: Sounds like you’re surrounded by inspiration. Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. What’s your favorite movie?
Stefan: That’s a tough one, as no one movie I have seen can be termed my absolute favorite. I view movies across a wide range of genres, from WW II, westerns, naval, SF, and historical. What I look for in a movie above anything else is a powerful story with good acting. Sadly, these days directors I feel rely too much on mindless action, car chases, and computer animation, having lost the art of plotting, and actors are forgettable background props.
Lily: Sounds like you prefer the classics. If you lived to be 100, would you rather have the mind you had at 30 or the body you had at 30?
Stefan: Definitely the body! I would hate to lose all the hard-won experiences and lessons life has dished out to me. With a 30-yo body and things I know now, I would wreak havoc.
Lily: It would definitely make for a lively centennial year! What’s a hobby you wish you had more time/money for?
Stefan: International travel has always fascinated me, and I had the opportunity to visit many parts of the world. There are still places I would like to see, and if circumstances permit, I will see them.
Lily: I hope you get the chance. How can readers discover more about you and you work?
About Liliyana Shadowlyn
Liliyana discovered her love of reading at a young age. Her first words were, according to family legend, read and again. Actively pursuing her love of reading, she minored in literature at college. Over the years she’s held a myriad of jobs, all ending at age 25 when she suffered a minor stroke. Since then she has learned to embrace what she loves, including reading, ballroom dance, writing, studying various religious beliefs and mythologies, dressing up as a fairy for Renaissance Faires and nature. She is currently a housewife and practicing pagan, and has recently started cross stitch and is enjoying every minute learning. Her favorite advice to give: Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something.