Local author Stacy Stauffer laughs about one of the amusing hiccups that comes with being a writer. “Have you ever written a word so many times it loses its meaning, and suddenly you look at it and go, ‘It can’t be right. There’s no way it’s spelled like that. There’s no way this means what I think it means anymore?’”

innovative sleep centersStauffer says, “I’ve always loved writing, and I started getting into creative writing and poetry in high school. I had an amazing poetry teacher, Ms. Gilmore, who was a huge encouragement. I always thought my thing was short stories and poems. I didn’t start writing actual novels until about six years ago. Prior to that I always thought writing a novel would be such a daunting task, so I never even tried, just because I had self doubt.”

stacy stauffer
Local author Stacy Stauffer poses with her late night writing companion, and family pet, Lucky. Photo credit: Shelly Lynn Metzger.

But the drive to create has helped expand the horizons of many artists. “I started getting more ideas, and it got to a point where poetry and short stories just weren’t covering it anymore,” Stauffer explained. She gave novel writing a shot, figuring a person never knows what might turn into their new favorite thing, and says that, “Writing novels has become my new passion.”

For the time being Stauffer writes as a hobby, printing all four of her books through the self-publishing platform Blurb. “I was comparing prices, and Blurb’s costs were the most reasonable I could find. The quality was beautiful, so I decided to stick with them.” As yet Stauffer has not sold anything, and says she “hasn’t had the desire to, but maybe one day I’ll start heading in that direction.”

Recently Stauffer branched out, and donated a copy of her novel “Fantastical” to the Timberland Regional Library, but mainly she likes to share her stories with family and friends. Her husband, James, is always the first to get a glimpse of Stacy’s handiwork as he helps her edit, bringing a “fresh perspective.” As the author Stauffer says, “I know what I’m trying to say, so my brain is automatically going to read it how it is in my head. But James helps catch grammatical errors and will tell me if something doesn’t make sense, or if I’ve repeated something. I greatly value his opinion. He tells me they’re great, but he’s also probably biased. Hopefully he would tell me if they were terrible.” Stauffer also sends copies of her work to her parents and grandparents. “It’s definitely not their genre, but they’ll read them anyway.”

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The written works of the Stauffer children, Sejun and Josafine, can be seen along side their mother’s novels. Photo credit: Shelly Lynn Metzger.

In describing the content of her work, Stauffer says, “I have too many strange ideas to write practical fiction. Only one of my novels is even set in a real place.” Preferring to delve into the fantasy world, Stauffer often draws inspiration from her dreams, and keeps a notebook in her nightstand. As a result, she says, “There are days I wake up with ideas written down that I don’t remember writing. Half the time my words are written over the top of each other because it’s so dark I can’t see what I’m writing, and I have to decipher what I wrote in the morning. A lot of times the ideas are totally ridiculous. In the middle of the night I’ll think, ‘Oh! That’s so great!’ and then in the morning I read it and go, ‘What was I thinking?’”

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Stauffer’s sense of humor comes out as she empathizes with her characters in the title of her inspiration notebook. Photo credit: Shelly Lynn Metzger.

A story begins, Stauffer explains, when I “have the same dream for a while. It’s usually some random thing I feel needs to happen, and the idea will build and build. Then I have to work on creating the characters from it and figure out how they got to that point.”

Her previous notebook was titled, “Ways to Make My Characters More Miserable… ” because she felt like all she did was, “torture my poor main character. Like literally, in one scene I tortured him. I get really attached to my characters, which is hard, because I know unpleasant things need to happen to them because you can’t write a book without conflict. So, there’s always an element of personal pain when I have to hurt one of my characters either mentally or physically. I feel for the most part, if I were to base my characters on people I know, I would feel too bad about some of the things must go through. I would feel the need to apologize to people. ‘You were this character, I’m sorry I broke his leg.’”

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Stacy Stauffer fills her notebooks cover to cover with dream ideas, character names, made up plants, and the occasional sketch. Photo credit: Shelly Lynn Metzger.

In addition to her dreams, Stauffer also draws inspiration through modern conveniences such as Google. “Hopefully anyone who ever goes through my Google search history will understand that I’m a writer. I’ve had to look up how long people can survive being buried alive and all sorts of scary murderer things that fellow writers would definitely understand, but others might think is crazy.” She also utilizes Pinterest, where she pins inspiration to secret boards, “so no one else has to be bugged by 30 pictures of medieval armor.” She likes to look up landscape images to help her solidify scenes. And in the case of “Fantastical” she pinned, “a lot of creatures like mermaids, dragons, and yetis. Some authors might sketch their characters and make them look gorgeous, but I can’t draw. In my notebook, I made a map of one of the places. My artistic talent is hilarious. It’s definitely nice living in the era of being able to look things up at the tip of your finger.”

Currently Stacy Stauffer is taking a pause from writing the third installment of the “Fantastical” series, and is instead focusing on another idea she woke up with. But she looks forwards to visiting with those characters again soon.

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