AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: AMBER LEIGH WILLIAMS
Taking a moment to chat with Amber Leigh Williams…
That would be the final installment in my western romance trilogy, Bet It On My Heart. It is Book III in the Wayback Ridge saga from The Wild Rose Press, which features the dysfunctional Ridge siblings: Stella (Blackest Heart), Casey (Bluest Heart), and Keefe (Bet It On My Heart).
Tell us a little about Bet It On My Heart and what inspired you to write it.
Keefe Ridge’s bronc-busting days are nearly over. Despite that and the fact that he is slowly making his dream business venture a reality, Wayback’s wildest cowboy doesn’t see any reason to settle down. He is even willing to bet that marriage isn’t in the cards at all for him.
Agent Calli Morlani came to Wayback on a mission: to bring Stella Ridge back to Hollywood. When Stella refuses, she dares Calli to take in some local color and see what Wayback has to offer. Whether that includes Stella’s devastatingly charming brother becomes irrelevant once Calli finds herself in bed with him – in more ways than one…
Will it take a tough city girl to make the Wayback playboy finally fall long and hard? Or will Keefe give Calli a reason to stay? Place your bet!
It seemed only natural to tell Keefe’s story after I completed work on Bluest Heart. I needed a strong female lead for Keefe because any other woman wasn’t going to be able to make the wild cowboy of Wayback fall hard. I wanted to bring in a total outsider to West Texas culture. Who better than tough Yankee and born-and-bred cityslicker Calli Morlani? And, by extension, throwing a complete unfamiliar into ranching country and straight into the arms of a hot cowboy was just plain fun!
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I always know who my characters are and what their predicament is. A lot of story concepts start with the question “What if?” and build from there. I plot mostly by character so oftentimes a plotline will bend to the hero/heroine’s motivations. In romance especially, I don’t think it would believable any other way.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
Reading Nora Roberts’s books had a profound impact on me. Not only because they’re romance. Nora’s writing is very three-dimensional and burrows deep into the spirit of the characters. Up to that point, I’d been naturally gravitating toward writing romance through several YA novels. It didn’t take much of a leap to go from that to my first romance manuscript, which was published last year as Forever Amore with Black Lyon Publishing.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
If I don’t love a character, I move on very quickly to another. It’s hard to pick a favorite and none of them are perfect, but I’d have to say that my silent cowboy, Judd Black, from Blackest Heart is near perfection, as far as I’m concerned. He’s lingered in my head long ago Blackest Heart’s completion and subsequent launch from TWRP. I’m told he was key in Blackest Heart’s 1st Place Novella finish in the 2009 More Than Magic Contest and placement in THE WAY BACK HOME western romance paperback anthology.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and wish was different?
It took six revisions of Forever Amore for me to be truly satisfied with the hero. It was a pain to have to go through that many transformations with him, but I’m very satisfied with the way he turned out…and I think his heroine is too
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
My contemporary romance, which is still in revision, features a hero with a motorcycle and takes place in my hometown. The heroine goes on her first motorcycle ride in the book and everything that goes through her head went through mine on my first motorcycle ride with the man who would become my husband on the same road six years ago.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
In high school, I was a member of the dance team and the marching band flag corps. My senior dance classes at the end of the day were the perfect way to de-stress. I wish I’d taken my love of dancing more seriously and pursued it on a professional level. I was a gymnast at one time, too, but I sustained a serious spinal injury in a car accident and wasn’t able to compete anymore afterward.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Books. I stock up on my TBR pile and buy books way faster than I read them. For some reason, I feel happiest when I’m surrounded by books. All those worlds and voices just waiting to be explored makes me giddy.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
A cold glass of sweet tea and lip balm. I’m Southern so the glass of sweet tea is for obvious reasons, but if the writing’s going well, I nibble on my lower lip, which makes the lip balm a must.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Yes, actually. I listen to mostly classical and movie instrumentals while writing. With my paranormals, though, I needed something grittier and adrenaline-induced to get me through action sequences and help set the tone. I developed a soundtrack for each book in the series, which turned out to be a great tool for getting further into each character’s head.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
After watching Justified, I’d have to say Timothy Oliphant for Keefe. And nobody could play Calli other than Marisa Tomei.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
My husband and I had just returned home from dinner at my parents house. It was late in the evening and for some reason, I just had to check my email. And there it was, sitting in my inbox. He heard me squeeing like crazy and joined me in a happy dance! Although I’d just seen them and it was late, I couldn’t wait until morning so I called my parents.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was fourteen. It was Nora’s Carnal Innocence. I remember it vividly because I feel like it changed my life.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m working on several projects at the moment: a contemporary revision and my second historical, a Regency romance. I love Regencies so I’m very excited about this. An agent just signed my paranormal series and I can’t wait for more news on that!
Where can readers find you?
My website is http://www.amberleighwilliams…com
my blog can be found at http://amberleighwilliams.blogspot.com
Readers can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Facebook profile is http://www.facebook.com/amberleighwilliams.
I blog every Monday at The Roses of Prose (http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com)