“First rule of warfare. She who chose the battlefield had the advantage.”Salt + Stilettos – Janet Walden-West
After my recent review of Salt + Stilettos, I asked author Janet Walden-West a few questions about the book and her writing journey! With today being the launch of the book (April 21st), it’s a great time to get to know her a little better and to find out what’s coming next in her author journey.
When you’ve read through my review and interview with the author, make sure you enter the giveaway! You could win some great prizes based on the book – click here to enter! 🙂
- The book covers some topics readers may relate to, including Brett’s panic attacks and Will’s lack of confidence – how important do you think it is to cover these kinds of topics in a book?
Confession—until about eight years ago, I wasn’t a romance reader.
I had snuck and dipped into my mother’s historical romances (sounds familiar right?) and enjoyed the stories of flamboyant pirate queens and roguish Regency highwaymen. At least until my late teens. By then, I’d relegated romance to the not-for-me category. There were too many misogynistic uber-alpha males who only had had two emotions—manly anger and uncontrollable lust, and too many borderline non-consensual sexual episodes used as plot devices to explain why the naive, inept virgin heroine wasn’t a trollop for enjoying sex. There was also a glaring lack of diversity in ethnicity, geography, status, and gender.
My reintroduction to the genre was through a Courtney Milan contemporary. I was immediately sucked in—I saw myself and my friends reflected in her books. I knew then that I wanted to follow that lead, with (hopefully) 3D, relatable characters struggling and loving in our messy, unpredictable world. I want heroes who weren’t toxic, heroines weren’t helpless, and that consent isn’t taken for granted.* I think readers also want to see characters navigating and normalizing real world problems like mental health, unrealistic expectations and body dysmorphia, bigotry, the intersection of race, gender, and socio-economic status in stories and see the characters thrive. Stories like that give us—because writers are also readers – hope.
*Heroes and heroines covers cis and LGBTQIA+ relationships in this context.
- Did you enjoy writing Brett or Will’s character the most, and why?
Ooh, tough question.
They were both a lot of fun, and a challenge at the same time. I do think there’s a bit more of me in Brett—especially when she got her own ideas about how the story should go and went off-script on me. Wow, is she stubborn. 🙂
- What are you working on at the moment?
I write both contemporary romance and urban fantasy, so I usually have several projects going. Right now, I’m outlining the second book in the South Beach world, doing edits on an urban fantasy short story due out in June, and finishing the last book in an urbane fantasy romance trilogy that I hope to have out in the Fall.
- Which books and authors do you admire?
I have such a long list! There are so many amazing writers on the scene right now. Plus, I get to read for my critique partners, and read through about 200 manuscripts for Pitch Wars last year, and can say that there are tons of incredible stories coming out in the next 18 months.
In romance, I love Courtney Milan, of course. No one can write a steamy sex scene like Brighton Walsh. Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Xeni is A+ and her hero reminded me of Will. Alexis Daria’s Take the Lead series is hot and caters to my love of reality shows.
For SF/F, Rebecca Roanhorse is an auto-buy. So is Hailey Edward’s, especially her Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series, and the Potentate of Atlanta spinoff. She makes Savannah and Atlanta come alive and writes the most delicious slow burn romances.
- What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new authors?
Do the hard thing.
Sit down and outline the story that has been rattling around in your head forever.
Finish the story that has sat on your hard drive, a few chapters in, because you were afraid you’d somehow ruin it if you continued. Trust me, you won’t. You’ve got this.
Send your work out to other writers. It’s scary, and critiques can be hard, but it’s the best way to grow and improve.
I promise, the writing world is one of the most supportive, giving places out there. There are many authors paying it forward, continuing the tradition of writers helping writers.
About the author.
Janet Walden-West lives in the southeast with a pack of show dogs, a couple of kids, and a husband who didn’t read the fine print. A member of the East Tennessee Creative Writers Alliance, she is also a founding member of The Million Words craft blog. She pens diverse Urban Fantasy and inclusive Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance.
A 2X PitchWars alum, 2019 Pitch Wars Mentor, and Golden Heart® finalist, her debut multicultural Contemporary Romance, SALT+STILETTOS, is due out April 21st 2020 from City Owl Press. She is represented by Eva Scalzo of Speilburg Literary Agency.