Stacy Gold - Exciting Romance Full of Outdoor Adventure
Award-winning adventure romance author Stacy Gold gave up her day job as Communications Director of a nonprofit mountain biking organization to write sassy, steamy, contemporary romance novels. Her stories are packed with independent, kick-butt women finding love and adventure in the great outdoors. When Stacy’s not busy reading or writing, you can find her dancing, laughing, or playing hard in the mountains of Colorado with her wonderful hubby and happy dogs. Her latest novel, Wild at Heart, released on May 2, 2022. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about this book.
Please give us a short introduction to what Wild at Heart is about.
Set mainly on the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington State, Wild at Heart is a steamy, modern-day flip on damsel in distress romance where the heroine saves the "mansel in distress" hero deep in the wilderness. In a nutshell, overworked entrepreneur Jules Martinez can't be one more guy’s rebound girl. Evan Davenport lost his job and hates his life. Each hit the trail solo in search of themselves, but Mother Nature has other plans and keeps shoving them in each other’s paths. Usually naked. When sparks fly, can they find what they’re looking for together instead of apart?
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything that made you want to tackle this?
As an avid outdoorswoman who has been backpacking, skiing, whitewater kayaking, and mountain biking for more than 30 years, I really wanted to show a representation of a competent, capable, badass woman finding someone who loves her for all that and more. This is a book I would have loved to have read when I was younger and first chose to work and live and play in the mountains. Back then, there weren't a lot of women working as whitewater raft guides or ski technicians, and I dealt with a lot of naysayers — many of whom told me it wasn't proper work for a woman and that I wasn't feminine enough to ever find a man.
Tell us more about Evan Davenport. What makes him tick?
Evan is at heart a really sweet guy who doesn't like confrontation or making waves. He comes from the kind of wealthy family that sets a child's life and career path in stone before birth, and he's never known how to make his own choices or make his voice heard— let alone figure out what he really wants. At least not until he hits rock bottom and realizes he has to do something different with his life.
What makes Jules Martinez so special?
Jules is tough, and smart, and sarcastic, and isn't afraid to spend weeks on her own hiking through the wilderness. In fact, it's one of her favorite things. Right up there with spending time with her two best girlfriends. Like most of us, she's also a little bit broken and has been carrying too much baggage for far too long, even though she tries to pretend there's nothing wrong. Somehow, she has to learn how to trust a man and show her vulnerable side.
Why do you write adventure romance? What drew you to the genre?
Adventure sports have long been central to my own life, my career, and my love life (I met my husband 24 years ago through whitewater kayaking). It's what I like to do, and it's what I like to write about when I'm not doing it. Over the years, I've learned that you really get to know a person when you spend days far from civilization doing activities that could very well be life-threatening. Add in some juicy sexual tension and you've got the makings of a spectacular romance novel.
You were the director of a nonprofit mountain biking organization. How do your own life experiences inspire your stories?
A lot of reviewers talk about how my books really transport them to the place and they feel like they are there with the characters. That's because bits and pieces of my own adventures (and the people I've met along the way) end up in all of my books. For example, I've hiked at least 80% of the trail miles Jules hikes in Wild at Heart. So when I'm describing the setting, I literally close my eyes and take myself back to that very place (or somewhere very much like it), and remember how it looked and smelled and tasted and felt. When I write about someone doing an outdoor activity, I do the same. I know firsthand what it's like to hike with a pack until my thighs burn, and the way my chest swells with awe when I'm greeted by a view of Mt. Rainier at the top of a long climb. Or the sweet relief of soaking your sore feet in a clear, cold stream.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I speak fluent French, and some Spanish. I'm an excellent cook. I've also been a dancer since college, formally training in modern, ballet, and jazz for almost 30 years, plus I picked upswing, waltz, foxtrot, and a few other ballroom dances along the way just for fun. Injuries forced me to stop classical dance training a few years ago, so I took up tap dancing instead. I'll be performing two tap pieces with my class this weekend, in fact.
Do any of your characters ever go off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
All. The. Time. About halfway through writing Wild at Heart, Evan's brother John turned out to have a very different backstory than I originally envisioned. But I've learned I have to follow my characters. While I don't plot my books in advance, I do very detailed character background spreadsheets and really get to know them. So by the time I'm halfway through writing that first draft they're like real people, and all I can do is plop them into difficult situations and see how they react.
Wild at Heart contains a lot of humor. Why did you write it this way?
I love to laugh, I'm very sarcastic, and I believe a great romance novel gives you all the feels. You should laugh, you should cry, you should get worried or nervous, maybe a little turned on, and you should definitely get warm fuzzies by the end.
What did you have the most fun with when writing Wild at Heart?
I adored writing the meet-cute in this one. Really the whole beginning, where I've turned the tables and put Evan in a very vulnerable position more than once. It just flowed out, and the whole "the two of them keep meeting, usually naked" theme developed very organically to my great delight.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
I had the vision for the cover image very early on. I very much wanted this view from inside a tent looking out the tent door, and showing a couple's feet looking intimate. I definitely did not want an illustrated cover or a shot that showed people's faces or bodies. The overall cover design was so clear in my mind that I was prepared to grab my husband and go shoot it myself. Luckily, I found the perfect image and then my amazing designer Brian Kennard (who also did the interior layout of ``Wild at Heart), came up with the fabulous font and layout on the first try.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I've spent too many years as a keyboard jockey and had a few overuse injuries as a result. So when I'm writing or editing I dictate as much as possible, and I limit my time on a computer to between two and four hours each day. I split that keyboard time up throughout the day by taking breaks to walk my dogs, work out, run errands, or go for a bike ride.
What are you working on right now?
I've just started editing book two in my Wild Love series, Drive Me Wild. This series features three close girlfriends, and each book is one of their love stories. Wild at Heart is Jules, Drive Me Wild is Aly, and Wild About You will be Bryn's book.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
https://stacygold.com or on Twitter, FB, and Insta as @AuthorStacyGold