We’re going to be doing more author interviews in the future. This week, we’re starting with one of our favorite indie romance authors – Samantha Westlake.
You can get a free book from her when you sign-up for her newsletter, which is absolutely free. She’s giving away A Billion Little Clues to people who subscribe.
Melinda Gaines, overworked personal assistant, is cursed with permanently bad luck. Her boss keeps making unreasonable demands, and no guy has seen the inside of her apartment in months. But when Melinda is sent to a party at the CEO’s house, she ends up on a romantic, moonlit balcony with an unnervingly handsome stranger. Melinda is convinced that her run of bad luck is over. That is, until she finds that her latest crush is being accused of murder…
Now, on to the interview!
- How long have you been writing/reading romance novels?
I’ve been writing romance novels for three years, now, but I’ve been writing in some form ever since I was a child! I always loved reading stories from my favorite authors, and dreamed of the day when I’d be able to tell my own.
- Who is your favorite romance author right now – and why?
Right now, I’m really enjoying reading some lighter, more humorous romance novels – trying to hold on to summer for as long as I can! I’m reading Sophie Kinsella, Kristan Higgins, and Meg Cabot.
- Can you share something about the first story you ever wrote? What about your first novel?
The first story I ever wrote was a ridiculous fantasy tale that I never even managed to finish! I kept on adding in new plot twists, building the story up – until I realized that I didn’t know how it could end! That first story really taught me the importance of outlining.
My first novel was an exploration of romance – I didn’t know how it would be received, whether readers would love it or hate it. As it turned out, readers loved it and clamored for more!
- Do you believe characters or the plot is more important?
I believe that both are important for a good story – a plot needs to keep the characters moving forward, and the characters have to be interesting and realistic enough for readers to care about them! I focus on creating strong characters, challenging them to grow into their best selves over the course of the story.
- Do you outline your novels or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Definitely outline! I’ve failed every time I tried to write a novel by the seat of my pants. Now, I’ll plot out the story chapter by chapter – although I still sometimes start writing before I’ve got an ending, because I’m so excited to tell the tale!
- If you could live in one of your novels, which one would it be?
Oh my goodness, I’d definitely choose the world I created in Tomcat, a bad boy romance I wrote last year! The hero lives in an old mansion, filled with dusty antiques just waiting to be discovered. I’d love to explore that huge, historical house – while accompanied by the cat that also resides on the property, of course!
- Why should readers check out your books if they haven’t already?
I’ve read far too many romances that just fall flat, don’t feel real. In my books, I really work to make sure that the characters feel realistic, that they have flaws. After all, none of us is perfect – but we all want to improve! I love writing that journey of improvement and watching my characters grow and mature.
Plus, my male heroes are always extra sexy!
- Any other romance book recommendations?
No specific recommendations, but always be willing to give a new romance book a chance. Sometimes, an indie author will surprise you!
- Do you prefer eBooks or print books – and why?
I like them both – at different times! When I’m traveling, I love the ease of ebooks, carrying a dozen novels in my book bag. But when I’m curled up at home under a blanket, my cat purring at my feet, there’s something that just feels wonderfully nostalgic about turning physical pages with my fingertips.
- What genre do you write in most?
Definitely romance! I’ve often thought of trying to write a science fiction or fantasy story, but the world-building always scares me off. I do enjoy telling a tale of love, so romance is where I’ll stay!
- What do you love about that genre?
I think that, out of all genres, romance really encourages characters to grow. We meet characters with flaws at the start of the story, and we get to come along as they persevere and overcome those challenges. We, as the reader, get to grow with our heroes and heroines.
Also, everyone loves a happy ending, that warmth of watching two friends fall in love!
- Where do you find your inspiration for writing?
All around me! My favorite place to write is at a coffee shop, watching the flow of humanity all around me as I write. Everyone passing through the coffee shop has their own life, their own hopes and dreams, and I would love to write stories about all of them.
- How many words do you write per month on average?
I probably write a lot more words each month than end up published! I usually write, more or less, one novel per month.
- What project are you working on now.
Right now, I’m polishing my newest novel, GIVE ME AWAY, getting it ready for release! It’s a really heartwarming story about finding love in the strangest places – and realizing that a best friend might turn out to be your soulmate, there for you all along.
- Favorite animal?
Giraffes. They’re just so tall!
- Any advice for aspiring writers?
Spend one third of your time studying those that you admire. Spend the other two thirds of your time trying to emulate them. It’s a mistake to just write blindly without a goal, but so many writers get swept up in side projects – social media, websites, add-ons – when they should be writing!
In the end, the writing always matters most.
- How do YOU define love?
For me, love is finding that person who knows your thoughts, what you’re going to say before you do it. Love is being with a person, having an idea – and then they speak up with that same idea before you can say anything! Love is a lazy Saturday morning, cuddling up in bed with matching cups of coffee and watching the sunlight slowly creep up the far wall.
- What is the hardest part of writing?
For me, the hardest part of writing is the editing. One author once called it “killing your children”, which sounds accurate to me. I love everything that I write, and it’s so hard to cut parts – even if it’s for the sake of the story!
- What is the most fun part of writing?
The most fun part of writing is watching as characters take on a life of their own. I’ll start with a vague idea of a character, and I get to watch as they pick up their own quirks and personality, right on the page in front of me! Often, I realize things about myself because I see those same facets echoed in my own characters.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Remember that romance, like ice cream, comes in many flavors. Just because you don’t enjoy a story packed wall-to-wall with sex, it doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with a softer, more gentle book about finding love after experiencing a personal disaster. Keep reading, and you’ll find your favorite flavor.
- More About Samantha Westlake
I’ve been writing since my father gave me my first laptop as a child – a huge, bulky, ten pound monster that died twenty minutes after detaching the power cord. I’ve moved out to the West Coast, living near the Pacific Ocean, but I spend most of my days sitting in my favorite local coffee shop, writing and watching people hurry by.
All of my books are listed on my website at www.westlakepublishing.com. In addition, readers who sign up for my mailing list can receive a free book to try – no cost, no risk – and have chances to be the first to read my latest and greatest new novels.