Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Zoe York, author of sexy small town romances Between Then and Now, What Was Once Perfect, and Where Their Hearts Collide.
Hi Zoe, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thanks for having me! I’m a lot like my readers: I’m a mom, and a wife. I work at a university, and I’ve been a long time romance reader. I’m pretty ordinary in every way, except I stay up late writing sex scenes! And I don’t care for chocolate.
I am really enjoying the budding romance between Karen and Paul in your latest novel, Where Their Hearts Collide. Give us some insight into Karen, what about her makes her so special to Paul?
Karen’s outgoing and friendly, and she rolls with the punches. She’s hard on herself, but in every other way she’s an eternal optimist, but funny, too. That natural positivity with a teasing edge is attractive to Paul, who has been weighed down for too long with the ugly side of life – in his work as a cop, and his difficult divorce. He’s drawn to her like a moth to a flame, and she gets him, so their relationship simmers at the friendship point for a while. Add in the fact that Karen bonds with his daughter, and when they finally come together their chemistry is something special, and Paul’s a goner. Even if he doesn’t want to be.
I enjoy a story where the heroine is sassy, like Karen and the hero has a bit of a brusque attitude like Paul. Why do you suppose that works in a romance?
It’s such a great fantasy, discovering the tender, emotional underbelly of a tough guy. And I think a lot of readers can identify with a heroine who keeps her man on his toes—and is loved for her attitude, not in spite of it.
What draws you to the romance genre?
I write it because I read it. I also like mysteries and thrillers, but 95% of my reading list is romances. I dedicated my first book to my sons, who remind me every day of the primacy of love, and that’s really why I read and write in the genre. Because love is central to the stories—the challenge of finding it, holding on to it, being true to it…there’s so much to explore. (And don’t worry, I didn’t ignore my husband. He’ll eventually get his own dedication, but for now, he’s top of every acknowledgement list).
Why do you write?
Because the stories are in my head, and once I started writing them down, I couldn’t stop. It’s become a part of my evening routine, and I love it.
What made you decide to sit down and actually write something?
I’ve been writing for a long time—since high school, actually. But my first romance novel attempt happened while I was on maternity leave, and I was doing a lot of reading. Reading begets writing, as they say! And if they don’t, they should.
How do you think you have evolved creatively?
When I started writing, I emulated authors that I loved. I wrote a small town contemporary romance set in New England, and started an urban billionaire book…but they felt like copies. (Neither of them will ever see the light of day) When I started What Once Was Perfect, my first book set in a locale I’m intimately familiar with, small-town Ontario, something clicked. I don’t believe that you should ONLY write what you know, but it’s a good place to start. Once I accepted that was what I needed to do, the story practically wrote itself. I’m still pretty new, so I’m sure my writing will continue to evolve, and I look forward to what next year will bring.
Do you have any advice for aspiring romance authors?
It’s a long haul. Have a plan that you revisit and revise regularly, but don’t give up. Seek out the stories of your favourite authors. Most of them have been exactly where you are. I cried when I listened to the RWA keynote addresses by Kristan Higgins and Cathy Maxwell this year (they’re available on the RWA website). Elisabeth Naughton and Marie Force are two other authors with compelling “stick with it” tales.
Also, learn from others. Join author loops and message boards, share your work and listen hard to the advice from others on the same path. But don’t expect to be discovered overnight. Readerships are built one fan at a time. Pay attention to your fans, too.
And write. Write series. Write short stories and novellas. Find group projects you can contribute to. Write works you can submit to a publishing house, and other works you might want to self-publish. Write a lot. Eventually, something will click and you’ll write something that will connect with readers. For most authors, this isn’t the first book you write, or even the first book you publish. (And yes, those are probably two different books!)
That is excellent advice! Where do you see publishing going in the future?
It’s changing so rapidly, it’s hard to say! Smart authors are going to have a finger in every pot: hybrid authors, we call them. Those that publish with digital first e-publishers, big NY houses, and self-publish as well. That’s certainly my goal. I’m really focused on ebooks right now, but I don’t think print is going away, and shouldn’t be ignored.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I have a mailing list on my website, which I use to send occasional messages about new releases and special deals—no spam! Also on my website is more about Wardham, and my books. I also interact with people on Facebook and Twitter, as well as Pinterest, and love connecting with new readers.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Zoe-York/e/B00DEW9HDM/
Thank you so much Zoe for taking the time out of your busy schedule to participate in this interview!
No, thank you!!! Great questions, especially the tips for aspiring authors. It wasn’t so long ago that I was unpublished and seeking out authors myself, and I’m grateful to those who shared some of their journey with me. Happy to pay it forward. ~ Zoe