About Vivienne Westlake:
Vivienne Westlake has been reading and writing romance since the age of fifteen. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and when she’s not plotting stories about sexy heroes and sassy heroines, she’s buying a book on British history, watching the latest teen vampire show, doing an art project or singing karaoke with friends. Vivienne is an active member of Romance Writers of America, Romance Divas, and Indie Romance Ink.
What inspires you to write?
Sometimes I’m inspired by a song. For example, I got the idea for my book, Lady Northam’s Wicked Surrender, from the song “If It Kills Me” by Jason Mraz. As I listened to the song, I got the feeling of a man who was in love with his best friend’s wife. Over time, the story changed and evolved, but that was the impetus.
In general, I love writing because it gives me a creative outlet. I’ve always had stories and character ideas running through my head. Writing gives me a chance to live in someone else’s head, to do and see things I normally wouldn’t be able to.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m what they call a pantser. When I start a new book, I usually write a few paragraphs of a summary and make some notes on possible scenes or character motivation, but it’s very loosey goosey. I also like to look at photos of actors and models that might resemble my characters. Most of the time, I don’t really know where I’m going until I start writing. Sometimes, this gives me messy first drafts because I meandered my way through a story. I often re-write my opening a few times because I’m not always sure where to start the story when I begin writing a book.
With Lady Northam’s Wicked Surrender, I wrote the story, sat on it for a few months and then revised and edited it. With The Lady’s Wicked Proposition, I revised as I went along and then edited the book. I always send my books out to other writers for a critique and then to a copy editor before I publish. Each person catches different things and it helps me to catch any continuity errors or random typos that appear in a manuscript. My grammar is usually pretty clean on the first draft, so my initial critiques focus more on things like characterization, plot, or repetitive words and phrases.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t speak to my characters directly while writing. I sometimes hear conversations in my head while I’m doing mundane things and then if I can, I go and write notes so I can keep track of it. But for the most part, I learn about my characters while I’m writing the story.
What advice would you give other writers?
A lot of times when I get stuck, it’s either that I’m stressed out or it is because I’ve lost enthusiasm for the story or scene. Sometimes just by deleting the last scene where I left off, I can regain my footing and find something more interesting to write about. Because I fly by the seat of my pants when writing, I have times where I write a big scene and then afterward, I’m not sure what will happen, so I’m kind of feeling my way around in the dark. Sometimes, just by throwing out that scene and starting again, I can get back into the groove. Don’t be afraid to pull out a scene or change the POV if you find yourself floundering.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Prior to publishing my first book, I was doing the submission rounds on a Victorian novella. I hated the long wait times and the long, repetitive cycle of either rejection or revise-and-resubmit requests. I felt like my career was stagnating and after hearing of a few friends who successfully self-published their books, I decided to try it, too.
Initially, my goal was just to put something out for myself, so that I could feel like I was a “real writer” and had made some sort of progress in my career. I also liked the idea of having complete control over the cover, marketing, and content of the book. I’d heard horror stories about authors who got no marketing support from their publisher and I thought at least with self-publishing, I retain control over everything. Succeed or fail, it would be on my own steam. I was free to change anything at any time. When I started in 2011, self-publishing was more of a risk. While authors were beginning to talk about their options, many were still determined to succeed with traditional publishing or digital publishing. I’m glad I made the leap. It’s been a topsy-turvy ride, but very rewarding.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think more authors will opt to self-publish. Some authors hate doing the production and marketing work themselves, so I think we’ll find new companies sprouting up that specialize in helping authors with book covers, formatting, and distributing their work. Not vanity publishers, but more service providers who offer a one-stop shop for a nominal fee or low royalty percentage.
My hope is that Apple’s iBooks will keep growing and provide fair competition for the ebook market. Amazon will continue to dominate the industry and Barnes and Noble may finally decide to sell Nook Press to Kobo or another large company. While I’d love for B&N to stick around, they just don’t seem to have the passion for the ebook market.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Historical Romance and Erotic Romance
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.