Author Zara Stoneley has been writing stories for just about as long as she’s been reading them. She sold her first erotic novel to Xcite Books in 2012, and since then has had her hot romances accepted by several publishers, including HarperCollins. Her stories have featured on romance and erotic best-seller lists in the US and UK.
Zara divides her time between a country cottage in the UK and a Barcelona apartment, and loves her family, sexy high heels, sunshine, good food and wine, coffee, cats, horses, dogs, music, writing and reading – but not necessarily in that order! She likes her heroes just how she likes her coffee – hot, strong and moreish.
Thank you so much for having me over today Nikki, writing and wine are two of my favourite things to talk about! (Work slightly less so – it’s an interruption to the other two!)
Q. It’s a pleasure to have you here! And I am soooo jealous of the part-time living in Barcelona thing; I love Barcelona so much most of my first book is set there! But anyway, enough about me, tell us about your writing.
Well, I’ve been lucky enough to have had stories accepted by several publishers. Xcite books were wonderful enough to give my career a kick start when they requested the full for my entry to their competition at the Festival of Romance in 2012. That book, ‘Forfeit’, will always mean a lot to me.
I write a mix of contemporary and erotic romance – I suppose the main word is hot! Over the past couple of years (my 2 year April anniversary of publication is fast approaching!) I’ve self-published a series of three books, and also had a couple of novellas, a few short stories which are in anthologies, and four novels published. I write for adults (men and women have said they’ve enjoyed them, but the main market is women), and like my stories to be true to life, so there’s lots of heat but also a touch of humour and a sprinkling of sadness in there I hope! I’m currently working on a longer ‘bonk-buster’ style novel which I hope will appeal to anyone who likes a fun, fast, racy story.
My stories have been published by Xcite Books, Breathless Press and most recently HarperImpulse (a Harper Collins imprint). I’m also excited that one of my earlier books is now also with a New York publisher and will be out in paperback in the States in the summer. I don’t have an agent, but finding one is on my wishlist. All offers gratefully received!
Q. I can’t believe how many books/stories you’ve had published in 2 years! Phew! I’m impressed… So what about your most memorable writing successes and rejections?
Having my first book, ‘Forfeit’ accepted and then published has to be a high, and being told that a NY publisher wanted my second published book for distribution was also very exciting. Seeing my first self-published book simultaneously hit the #1 spot on an Amazon UK best-seller list and the #3 spot on an Amazon US best-seller list was also absolutely amazing. And then being accepted for publication with HarperCollins has made the last couple of years a whirlwind of highs! I’ve also just been accepted by the RNA as a member, so I’m looking forward to being able to improve my writing and have lots of fun along the way!
Rejections are best forgotten! And I’ve not yet had one that has been particularly humourous or entertaining – I’m hopeful that one day I might!
Q. Welcome to the RNA then… I love being a member. And your top three tips for writers?
1. Find your voice. When I first started writing I was trying to write what I thought people wanted. Entering a new genre, erotic romance, meant I had no preconceptions and I just let it flow. It was an eye-opener and made a huge difference to my writing – I got published for one.
2. Treat is as a business. I write because I enjoy it, but to succeed you need to apply the same dedication, determination and discipline (wow, 3 d’s) that you would to any other jobs.
3. Keep going despite the knock backs and don’t expect too much too soon. It can be a slow and difficult journey, but it’s worth it. Self-belief pays a huge part, as a writer you’re an artist and not everyone will appreciate what you do.
Q. Amazing tips Zara, thanks. So, tell us about your work. Do you have a day job? What’s a typical day for you and what do you love and/or hate about it?
I used to work in IT and consultancy, but it was a full on career with no time for writing. I now work part-time as a PA to pay the bills and spend the rest of the time writing. What’s a typical day? Tricky question! If it’s a writing day then I start off with doing a packed lunch for my teenage son and waving him off to school, then it’s coffee (essential) and checking emails, social networks etc. I don’t have a strict routine though as it depends very much on my mood, interruptions, whether I have deadlines or promo to do etc. I do though try and write at least 10k words a week, but one day might be planning, tweaking and the next just getting words down. If I’m in the zone I can write for a few hours without a break, but more normally I flit between writing, checking the internet then going back to writing. I think it stops the words and ideas from getting stale. The human mind isn’t designed to concentrate on one thing for hours at an end.
I love having the freedom and time to write. I hate having to stop writing when I’m in full flow – which is usually at inconvenient times like in my lunch break, or after midnight! I think at the moment I’ve got the best of both worlds – writing can be lonely, but my job forces me out of my imagined world. I get some exercise walking to work, and some interaction with real people!
Q. Sounds like you have a fantastic balance between writing and work 🙂 So, lastly, tell us what your favourite wine is?
I love wine! At home in the UK my favourite is Pinot Grigio, I used to be a big Chardonnay drinker but as I’ve got older I’ve found that Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are too heavy for me so I head for the crisper drier wine. I also find it very hard to say no to champagne! When I’m in Barcelona I tend to go for red wine though – something nice and full-bodied (no rude comments here please) and of course lots of Cava!
You’ve got me salivating – heading off to the wine rack now, haha! Thanks for stopping in Zara, great to get to know you a bit better 🙂
And you can find out more about Zara at www.zarastoneley.com on her facebook page, or via twitter @ZaraStoneley, or on her blog (and she also has a blog under the name Susie Medwell where she promotes non erotic books, and blogs about Barcelona and writing). Please stop by – she loves to meet new people!
As for me, I’m following in Zara’s footsteps and will be appearing over at Michelle Betham’s blog tomorrow in a Meet the Author feature so please do go over and check it out at http://michellebethamwriter.blogspot.co.uk. It’d be great to see you there…
I’m ramping up the promo very soon for the release of my first full length book Crazy, Undercover, Love next month – squee – so expect to see more of me around, if not on here then in other places! I’ll be posting dates and places about a blog tour soon.
Until then, happy reading and writing, Nikki x