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1.What or who inspired you to start writing?
I think it was the lure of a good story. When I was a little girl, I was reading a story in my literature textbook and I just felt this pull toward storytelling and began writing down ideas of my own. It opened up this storytelling pocket in my mind that hasn’t run dry since.
2.How did you come up with ideas for your books?
It could be anything. A book I’m reading. Something someone says or a story they tell that I twist and turn in my mind. It then snowballs and gives itself its own life. Songs have done the same thing in the past. A picture in a magazine, even. My latest book, A PLACE WITH BRIAR (Harlequin Superromance) started out with a place, my Gulf Coast hometown, Fairhope, Alabama. If I don’t have an initial character(s) or setting, though, I usually start with a “what-if” scenario which I can create conflict around easily and build the story from there.
3.How would you describe a Superromance novel? Please use your own book for examples.
These are contemporary romance novels with lots of romance, powerful emotional components and a guaranteed happily ever after for the hero and heroine. A PLACE WITH BRIAR has all that. The characters go through a lot to reach their HEA. The hero, Cole, in particular has to redeem himself in order to earn both a place in his son’s life and the love of the heroine, Briar. I love writing for the Superromance line J
4.What expertise did you bring to your writing?
I was an English/Language Arts major so, naturally, I’m a spelling and grammar stickler. I’m a bit of a history buff, too, which came in very handy when I wrote my historical romance, FOREVER AMORE. I’m also very interested in heritage and ancestry. I use this in my October 2014 Harlequin Superromance, MARRIED ONE NIGHT. The hero and heroine borrow a few interesting stories from my family tree. Someday I’m hoping to use my interest in marine biology for a story, but I haven’t found one where it would be useful yet. Also, the Scottish Highlands. I have family history there and you can’t beat kilted heroes. If I ever do write historical romance again, it’ll likely be set in the Scottish Highlands or the Isle of Skye and Dunvegan Castle where my mother’s family comes from.
5.What would you want your readers to know about you that might not be in your bio?
One scene in A PLACE WITH BRIAR was inspired by my first motorcycle ride. When I met my husband, he was nineteen and I was eighteen. He rode a motorcycle and invited me on a drive one day. I couldn’t resist. There’s a scenic highway in my hometown where the book takes place that overlooks the bay. It was sunset. The view was unbelievably gorgeous. And all the more so that I was on a motorcycle with this beautiful man hunk, LOL. The heroine of A PLACE WITH BRIAR experiences something very similar. The hero, Cole, takes her for a ride on his Harley Davidson along the same route. It’s one of my favorite scenes J
6.As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
A PLACE WITH BRIAR launched a series about my hometown. The second book, MARRIED ONE NIGHT, will be released in October of this year. I’ve just started work on the third book and notes for the fourth. Then I plan to write a western romance trilogy based in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Cheers for writing hot cowboys!
7.If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
This is a tough one because I put my characters through a lot before they reach their HEA. All of them carry their own burdens or grief. I have to say that though she isn’t based on me in any way (other than the fact that we both grew up on the bay and her hero owns a motorcycle), I think I’m most like Briar from A PLACE WITH BRIAR. But it wouldn’t be so bad to be her cousin, Olivia Lewis from MARRIED ONE NIGHT, just for one day. Her hero is a charming British novelist who comes to Fairhope to woo her. His character was inspired by actor Tom Hiddleston J
8.Do you belong to a critique group? If so how does this help or hinder your writing?
I once worked very closely with critique partners. I have enormous respect for my peers in the writing industry, and I learned a lot both as the critiquer and the critique-ee. Over the years, I’ve grown a little more private about my work while it’s in progress. I don’t mind passing along the manuscript when it’s completed for feedback here and there. But it’s difficult for me to work at the speed I need to (especially when I’m up against a deadline) when I’m nervously waiting on word from a CP on a previous chapter. So for now the only people who see my work before publication are my agent and editor. I don’t even let family members read the books before their published anymore. It’s not that I don’t trust them or that I’m afraid of what they might say. I just want the story to be the best that it can be before I lay it in their hands.
9.When did you first decide to submit your work? Please tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?
It was almost ten years ago. I was in college at the time but eventually I wanted to become a writer full-time. In order for me to do so, I knew that I was going to have to start sending proposals to agents and editors who dealt in the romance industry. If not simply to see if my books were ready for publication, it was to see whether not I was taking them in the right direction. I made the decision on my own but I was encouraged heavily by those around me – my husband, my parents, and the few others I had let read my work at the time. My father gave me a book by Evan Marshall called The Marshall Plan for Getting Your Novel Published. It helped me learn the ins and outs of the submission process. He also gave me my first edition of Writer’s Market. It was his way of showing his support and I’ll never forget how much the gesture and the books meant J
10. What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)
The best advice has always been to never, never give up. Like I said, it’s been almost ten years since I set out to be published by a company like Harlequin and I only just achieved that with A PLACE WITH BRIAR.
The worst advice involved a debate over plotting vs. pantsing. I’m a plotter by nature. But shortly after I started writing full-time, someone in the industry who was respectable and had earned several accolades told me that the best stories were created by pantsing. This person believed that pantsing was the only way to create because it’s the closest a writer comes to free-writing. I’m all for organic storytelling. I admire anyone who can sit down and write by the seat of their pants successfully. But I wasted several years writing myself into a corner because I tried to make pantsing work.
The best advice I can give to writers is to, of course, never give up but also to write the book the way that’s most comfortable for them. I’ve learned that there’s no right way to write a book so long as it is written.
11. Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I’m a plotter so I know exactly how the story starts and ends when I start writing. In order for the words to flow, I have to know how to get from point A to point B in the plot. I don’t really outline, but I have detailed notes to guide me through the story structure so that I never write myself into a corner.
12. Do you have any hobbies and does the knowledge you've gained from these carry over into your characters or the plot of your books?
My biggest hobby is reading. There’s nothing more inspiring to me as a writer than a good book. Before our son was born in 2012, my husband and I went for long drives on his motorcycle when the weather was nice. That lent itself in a big way to A PLACE WITH BRIAR and the hero and heroine. The advantage of setting a series of books in my hometown is that I get to recreate some of my favorite town events, like the Lighting of the Trees Festival which brings in the holiday season in Fairhope. You’ll find a festival scene in MARRIED ON NIGHT when it launches in October.
13. Do you have an all time favorite book?
I have a long list of favorites. The J.D. Robb books, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon, Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind, The Diary of Anne Frank, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont, The Hours After by Kurt and Gerda Klein, Betina Krahn’s Enchantment, and Teresa Medeiros’s The Devil Wears Plaid. Nora Roberts’ Irish trilogy and her MacKade brothers series. I could go on and on, LOL.
14. Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your book?
I just finished the last revision for my October Superromance, MARRIED ONE NIGHT, which is the second book in my hometown series. I’m very excited about this one! Right now I’m writing the third book in the series and plotting the fourth. All these books involve the colorful cast of characters I introduce in A PLACE WITH BRIAR, which has some of my favorite secondary characters. They demanded to have their own stories and my editors at Harlequin heartily agreed. I just signed a two-book contract from the Superromance line so that I can write Briar’s cousin Olivia’s story (MARRIED ONE NIGHT) and their friend Adrian’s (no title yet).
15. What is your favorite reality show?
Dancing with the Stars. I recently stopped watching the Bachelor/Bachelorette. I’ve become exasperated with it over the last couple of years. The problem with reality television is that more often than not it creates so many negative feelings. When I take the time to watch something, I want to feel good about it. Dancing with the Stars still does that for me.
16. Who is your favorite actor and actress?
Right now I have to say that my favorite actor is Tom Hiddleston. There’s just something about Tom. He’s the perfect English gentleman and a compelling actor. I just think he’s endlessly fascinating and I’m pretty sure I could stare at pictures of him and Chris Hemsworth all day. Is there a job where this is a requirement? If so, please sign me up! LOL. As for actresses, I like Anne Hathaway’s movies, mostly I think because she reminds me so much of my younger sister. It’s easy for me to sympathize with whatever character she plays.
17. Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?
The climax of A PLACE WITH BRIAR was very difficult to write. I knew what it would be from the moment I started writing the book because the hero, Cole, sets out from the beginning to do an under-the-table investigation of the heroine’s inn and its finances in order to find any weaknesses. His ex-wife wants the inn’s real estate for her own gain and she’s leveraging Cole’s visitation with his son in order to make him agree to her demands. Cole doesn’t expect to fall in love with the innkeeper, but he does. He falls hard for Briar and though the last thing she needs with her family business’s debts piling up is feelings for a man as mysterious as Cole complicating things. They grow close, but toward the end she finds out about his betrayal and it’s one of the most gut-wrenching scenes from both of their perspectives. I needed a large glass of wine to get through the initial draft of it. But one of the best parts of the book is seeing how Cole devotes himself to earning Briar’s love and forgiveness and redeeming himself.
18. Anything else you might want to add?
A PLACE WITH BRIAR earned a 4-Star review from RT Book Reviews! (This is my first RT review so I’m over the moon!) Here’s a review snippet:
“Great description and engaging characters make this story an entertaining read. Cole is nicely developed and his despair over losing his son and Briar’s worry over the potential loss of her inn are both well drawn. The secondary characters, such as Briar’s tenants, are also quite fun and nicely crafted.”
Amber Leigh Williams
He's in some serious trouble….
Cole Savitt does not want to deceive Briar Browning. But if he hopes to see his son again, he has to find the weaknesses in her charming bed-and-breakfast, then get out of town fast! But the quaint inn isn't the only thing charming him….
Cole's straightforward plan becomes anything but when he begins to fall for the beautiful innkeeper. Suddenly everything's on the line—his future with his son, a chance at happiness and the love of a good woman. Cole must rethink his priorities…and the stakes have never been higher.
“There’s something you need to know….”
Cole’s lips curved as he turned back to the bike. “I know.”
“You do?” Briar asked, sounding astounded.
“You’ve never ridden a bike before.”
“Is it that obvious?” she asked, rubbing her palms on her jeans.
“A little,” he said wryly. “Just lean with me into the turns. And hold on.”
Hell, if he didn’t coax her on now, she’d probably run for her life. And while that might have been better for the both of them under the circumstances, he found himself jerking his thumb behind him, motioning for her to get on.
After a brief pause, Briar dropped down her visor and stepped to the bike. Gripping his offered hand for balance, she climbed on behind him and placed her feet on the small passenger pegs.
Just this once, he was going to give Briar Browning the ride of her life. God help them both.
Amber Leigh Williams lives on the Gulf Coast. A southern girl at heart, she loves beach days, the smell of real books, relaxing at her family’s lakehouse, and spending time with her husband, Jacob, and their sweet, blue-eyed boy. When she’s not running after her young son and three, large dogs, she can usually be found reading a good romance or cooking up a new dish in her kitchen. She is represented by Joyce Holland of the D4EO Literary Agency.
Visit her on the web at www.amberleighwilliams.com.
You can also find her on Twitter (@AleighWilliams) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/amberleighwilliams).
Buy links for A PLACE WITH BRIAR:
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Place-Briar-Mills-Boon-Superromance-ebook/dp/B00FTQIM64/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392412584&sr=8-1&keywords=a+place+with+briar