1. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
When I first started writing Prince of Hearts, it had a different title and was a straight historical romance. I was never quite able to finish it. Then I read my first steampunk book and something clicked in my head. I suddenly knew why I was never able to muddle through to the end of my novel. It was because it was meant to be a steampunk romance! So last summer, I sat down at my computer, pulled up my old unfinished novel, and went wild. As much as I love reading historical romance, I also love paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy, so I just decided to do a mash-up of all of my favorite things and throw them into Victorian London.
My success so far has been surprising and very gratifying. I just write what I like, and I guess there are people out there who like the same thing. I would describe my books as “Victorian Steampunk Romance”, with a heavy emphasis on the romance. I think where my books are the weakest is in the actual gadgetry that is part of my steampunk universe. I am not mechanically minded at all, so that is always difficult to convey to readers. However, my books’ focus is always on the romance and the HEA. Lovers of historical romance, paranormal romance, and steampunk seem to be attracted to my titles.
2. Tell us a little about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork.
When I published my first book on a whim last summer, I did my own cover art [gasp]. It looked okay, and it was a fun project for me to do. But it was my absolute first foray into any sort of graphic design … and probably my last. Here it is:
It is a very basic job, done on my old MacBook right before it died. Looking back on it, I am amazed that anyone bought my book with that cover. I know I probably would have rejected it on sight, because I am guilty of judging books by their covers all of the time. But surprisingly, people did buy my book despite itself. So when I had some spare pocket change from my first sales, I started to shop around for a professional cover artist. I’d been seeing so many great covers out there, I wanted one of my own for my next novel.
I found a cover designer whose work I liked. Her name is Clarissa Yeo at http://yocladesigns.com, and she took the idea I had envisioned and ran with it. She did such a good job, I asked her to do a coordinating cover for my first book. She just completed my third book cover for Thief of Hearts and was very accommodating while we searched for just the right model with just the right color hair and freckles. I had to put the smack down on several model choices by Clarissa, but I finally found one that looked just like my heroine. I have received a lot of positive feedback about my covers from my fans. I think I hit upon a great formula and plan on using Ms. Yeo for not only the rest of the books in this series, but also all of my books in the future.
By the way, once I uploaded the new cover for my first book, Prince of Hearts, I saw a significant increase in sales. So my tip for new authors is to get a sleek professional cover done right off the bat. Appearances matter!
3. What are you writing at the moment?
I wish I was writing my third book, Thief of Hearts. Unfortunately, I have had to put it on the back burner while I finish my coursework for my M.A. in Piano Performance! I am currently in the middle of my comprehensive exams (a lot of writing, but not of the Steampunk variety) and practicing for my juries. Prokofiev and a writing career just don’t mix.
However, I will get down to business on May 1st after my semester ends. I plan on publishing Thief of Hearts in August come hell or high water. The beauty of self-publishing is that there is no lag time between finishing a book and publishing it. So while I finish up my Master’s, I have been focusing on brainstorming for Thief of Hearts and marketing for my other books in my spare time. I am chomping at the bit to get to May, however. I want to just get in the zone and write, write, write!
4. What are you reading?
I’ve been reading a lot of m/m romance lately. It’s a newly emerging genre, and it’s hot, fresh and fearless, whereas straight romance for me has become a bit static and trite (probably because I’ve read way too much). Some great intro authors to this genre are Eli Easton, Amy Lane and B.G. Thomas. All of these ladies (and gent) are on auto-buy for me.
5. Favorite author/book?
This is a tough question. I love many authors across many genres. But I would have to say my favorite book of all time is Jane Eyre. I could read it a thousand times and never tire of it. However, I have to admit that Charlotte’s sister’s book, Wuthering Heights, is probably my least favorite book of all time. Ugh. I loathe it with the same intensity that I love Jane Eyre.
6. Can you remember one of the first things you wrote?
The first story I wrote was an illustrated book starring a mouse named Patches. I was about eight and was obsessed with An American Tale.
7. Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre? How did it turn out?
Actually, my discovery of the historical romance genre was an instance of stepping outside of my comfort zone. I had been something of a literary snob up until that point. I have a Master’s in English Literature and was working on my doctorate for a while and had always sneered at the “bodice ripper” genre as a matter of principle. But I suppose some hidden romantic deep inside me was always looking for a chance to break free. From the moment I read my first historical romance when I was 27 or so, I was a goner. I’ve never looked back. It was Lisa Kleypas’ Dreaming of You, and I still consider it one of the finest romance novels I have ever read … and I have read probably thousands at this point. Becoming a voracious reader of historical romance, as well as paranormal, YA and NA romance really inspired me to write my own books.
8. What is your writing environment like? Do you write with a pen and paper, or on a computer? Do you need quiet or music in the background? Do you have a pet who gets in the act?
Once upon a time I handwrote my stories in notebooks, but now I write exclusively on my computer … and occasionally my iPad when I have a moment of inspiration. I have terrible writing habits. I wrote both of my books in bed with my rat terrier, Penny, snuggled up at my feet, and Pandora Radio set on the Sia station. For my next book, I will have to contend with my new dog, Emma Sweet Pea, on top of Penny. She’s a mini-schnauzer rescue, and she demands a lot of petting.
9. How do you get past writers block or distractions like the internet?
I don’t. I am terrible at being a focused writer. I am always being distracted by social media, television, and reading other books … not to mention my job and school! The only thing that gets my butt in gear is having a deadline. When I wrote my second book, A Dark Heart, last fall, I had made a promise to my readers that I would have it published by the end of November. I knew there was absolutely no way I could break that promise as a professional and a fledgling writer trying to attract and keep a readership, so that really motivated me to block everything out and get into the writing zone. Failure to do so was simply not an option. I have made the same sort of deal with myself for Thief of Hearts by announcing to the world that I plan on publishing it in August. Without a deadline, I would dither around for years.