Rising Star Spotlight: Stacy Gold


Tell us about Stacy as a child, where did you grow up, what was life like?
I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia in the 70s and 80s. By the time I was ten I was your typical feral latchkey kid spending my after school time building forts outside, reading, and watching cartoons. My parents owned a Veterinary Hospital so I grew up surrounded by a menagerie of animals, and have always had at least one dog. In the summers, when I wasn’t running around in the woods, wading in creeks, or swimming at the local pool, I was either helping out in the animal hospital or reading.
Did you love to read and/or write stories?
 I didn’t start writing any kind of fiction until about seven years ago, but as a kid I loved to read more than anything. I could regularly be found with my nose buried firmly in the thickest book available. My home life was pretty tumultuous so it was my favorite escape, especially in fall and winter. I adored books about any kind of survival, and survival in the outdoors was always a particular favorite. I loved and reread Swiss Family Robinson, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Where the Red Fern Grows, the Lord of the Rings series, and Gone with the Wind over and over. I also wrote poetry and personal essays, and was always happy to be given any kind of writing assignment at school. Which eventually translated into me writing marketing materials for the outdoor gear shop I worked in, then again to promote my services as a veterinary software trainer. From there I started writing articles for outdoor magazines, catalogs for outdoor companies, and eventually all kinds of marketing materials for all kinds of companies. For quite a few years I even taught copywriting classes. All the while I always spent as much time playing hard outdoors as possible.
Tell us about your "original" job at a nonprofit mountain biking organization.
Well, I’d actually say that was my last real job. Prior to that I ran my own marketing and copywriting firm for almost 15 years. When I decided to close my marketing business, I took some time off to figure out “what I wanted to do when I grew up“. When the opportunity came up to work for a mountain biking organization, I decided to focus my marketing skills promoting something I’m passionate about. So I ended up working as Communications Director for a few years, handling all communications, the membership program, fundraising, and events. It was a blast and I was able to help grow the organization significantly. This allowed us to build more trails, teach more classes and camps, and get more people out enjoying nature on bikes. While I eventually burned out from doing three peoples' jobs (as one typically does at a nonprofit) I loved spending my writing time focused on the outdoors  —  and getting paid to ride my mountain bike at least some of the time.
What made you decide to write novels instead?
When I had my marketing firm, for the first time in my life I didn’t have the time to read novels. All I read were business books and magazines because I simply couldn’t afford to put everything on hold for three or four days when I got sucked into a good story. During the time I took off between my business and working at the nonprofit, I rediscovered my love of reading and also stumbled across contemporary romance. I was blown away. At one point, I was raving about a romance novel to my husband, and he said, “Maybe you should write one of those.“ I scoffed at the time. A few years later I blew out my shoulder and couldn’t go biking or skiing or paddling with everyone else. Home alone and bored one Saturday, I came up with an idea for a book and started writing it purely to entertain myself. About halfway through my first draft, I realized I enjoyed writing fiction far more than I’d ever enjoyed writing nonfiction. I've now published three novellas and a boxed set with The Wild Rose Press, and my first full length contemporary romance, Wild at Heart, will be out May 2nd.
What was the transition to being a novelist like?
It was hard. Quite a bit harder than I expected, honestly. While I had already developed my own voice and I knew how to write a good sentence — and even tell a decent story — almost everything I had written was less than 20 pages long. Most of it was much, much shorter than that. And none of it had anything to do with characters, plot arcs, or sex and love. It took me four years, and numerous edits and rewrites on my first novel (that I ended up stuffing firmly into the circular file), to learn to write fiction well enough to get my first novella published. I also can’t say enough about having an amazing critique partner, reading craft books, and attending writing workshops whenever possible. And I'm still learning and getting better. Maybe some people are able to write a great novel right out of the gate, but it took me a few years just to figure out my process — then more time to produce a story I could be proud of.
Why did you choose Contemporary Romance?
 When I first stumbled across romance novels as a teenager, I found them very off-putting. They were all historical bodice rippers, and I didn't think Fabio was sexy (despite what my mother said). I also never wanted a man to rescue me. I wanted to create my life on my own terms, and maybe, if I was lucky, I would find someone to share it with. Plus, my early career and life choices living in the mountains and working on trails and rivers and in ski shops were anything but typical. Luckily I met my husband whitewater kayaking. He wasn't threatened by me or my skills and definitely didn't want me to quit the activities I loved. So now, twenty-five years into our very happy relationship, I want to write about independent women finding love and having healthy relationships with men who aren’t intimidated by their capabilities. Men who are more than happy to support them as they strive to achieve their own goals and dreams, all while making them feel loved, adored, and of course, satisfied in bed.
How do you incorporate your love of the outdoors in your books?
All of my books are set in the outdoors, and typically center around women competently doing adventure sports I do myself, in settings I’ve spent time in. Also, my degree is in Outdoor Resource Management and Environmental Education, and I spent six years working for the Forest Service in my twenties. So, I try to use those experiences to share the sense of awe and wonder of being out in the wilderness, as well as the self-confidence and joy of being able to take care of yourself in the woods. All three of my award-winning Emerald Mountain novellas are based at a fictional ski resort in Washington State, and my latest release centers around two people solo backpacking sections of the Pacific Crest Trails in search of themselves and what they want out of life. I've got plans for more steamy outdoor adventure romances featuring mountain biking, rafting, and kayaking as well, and love making nature a character in my stories that impacts the plot. There's nothing quite like two people stuck out in the middle of nowhere, and having to somehow rely on each other, to spark a good, steamy romance! 
What are your dreams for the future?
I believe in the power of representation in the media, so I'd like to have a platform to show people making different choices with their lives than trying to climb the corporate ladder or marry a millionaire. Choices that are ideally better for them and the planet. I’d also like to help shift the focus of contemporary romance from the typical alpha male to more independent and competent female characters who aren’t in need of rescuing. Give me all the cinnamon roll heroes! In fact, in Wild at Heart, it's the guy who ends up being the "damsel in distress" and the woman who comes to his rescue.  Maybe having more books showing the wonders and value of nature, and badass women choosing less-than-standard paths in life, will make a difference in the world. Or at least to somebody. I know it would have meant a lot to younger me.