Susana: What inspired you to start writing?
Amber: When I was in the third grade, my parents moved the family to the Gulf Coast of Alabama. After taking several tests, it was determined that my reading levels were too low and that I needed to be placed in a reading comprehension course in order for me to catch up with the rest of my classmates. I had a very patient teacher who taught me that reading doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be fun and enjoyable. This is around the time I discovered my love of the written word, storytelling, and writing in general. It makes sense since every writer you meet is normally always an avid reader as well!
Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Amber: I’ve learned over the years that writer’s block is an excuse. For me, it’s a combination of procrastination and perfectionism. Learning what writer’s block really was for me has helped tremendously, as well as a quote from bestselling romance author Nora Roberts: “You can’t fix a blank page.” I’m also at a point where I can no longer afford to sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. When you’re up against a deadline, you simply MUST sit down at the computer every day and WRITE, no matter what that page(s) looks like. And Nora’s right – I can fix a bad page much quicker than I can fix a blank one.
Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Amber: It depends on the story. In some cases, it’s the plot and in others it’s definitely the protagonist. Setting also is a big story influence for me. Usually, though, what happens is I come up with a “what if” scenario that creates great conflict between protagonists. The characters usually develop quickly around this and so does the plot framework and scenes.
Susana: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Amber: I’m an ingrained plotter. I’ve tried pantsing because most of my favorite authors are admitted pantsers. Plotting is my bread and butter, though. It’s the method I always go back to. I’m not a full-out outliner…. I like some things within the book to develop a bit more organically than that. But when I start writing, I pretty much know my characters inside and out, their conflict and how that conflict is going to resolve itself in the end.
Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Amber: In a way, A Place With Briar is a bit of a tribute to my upbringing. It takes place in my hometown, Fairhope, Alabama, a beautiful small town on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay minutes away from Alabama’s white-sand beaches. I’ve spent my life in the South and I loved finally being able to allow a setting and a cast of characters to embody the spirit of the South. Although the hero and heroine, Cole and Briar, and the situation they find themselves in are not based on anything or anyone in real life, there are very small echoes of my own courtship with my husband, which happened on the Eastern Shore and the Gulf Coast. I can attest to the fact that it is the ideal place to fall in love. Travel + Leisure Magazine even went so far recently as to name Fairhope one of “America’s Most Romantic Towns!”
Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?
Amber: Yes, I recently signed a two-book contract with Harlequin for two more Superromance novels to follow A Place With Briar, my Superromance debut. These two follow-up titles will involve some of the colorful secondary characters readers meet in Briar and Cole’s story. One of the first pieces of feedback I received from Harlequin about this book was that the editors cared almost as much about what happened to the secondary characters as they did about the hero and heroine. I always planned for A Place With Briar to be the first in a series, but this information from the editors really helped me decide whether or not I actually should go through with it.
Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Amber: Ah, what didn’t I want to be when I grew up? LOL. Initially, I wanted to be an English/Language Arts or Literature teacher. I actually studied for a year to be a teacher before I realized that I was meant to be writer. If I hadn’t been called to writing, I might have been a marine biologist. I’ve lived on the water all of my life – whether it was the bay or the Gulf or the lake where I spent my childhood summers. In high school, I took a marine science course and was really absorbed by the material. I have a few issues with vertigo and seasickness, however, so I’m not sure how great my sea legs would have been in the field. Aside from writing now, I am still passionate about our waters, inland and offshore, and here and there I like to take an interest in conservation when I can.
Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?
Amber: IRELAND! I’m sorry; did I say that a little too loudly? LOL. After my hometown series wraps up after four books, I’m most likely going to be doing a romance trilogy which revolves around three Irish characters. I’d love to visit Ireland to study the language and culture. My family has some strong Celtic ties as well, so it would be really fun to trace my ancestors’ footsteps back to Ireland and the Isle of Skye in Scotland. (Greetings from a Mighty McClure/MacLeod!)
Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one?
Amber: I mostly write contemporary romance. I’ve written western contemporary romance, as well, which is a lot of fun! I’m a fan of cowboys. The real-life kind, not the NFL team. I’m a big history buff, however, and I absolutely love historical romance novels. I read more of those, historical fiction and non-fiction than anything else so, naturally, as a writer I’ve branched out a bit into historical romance. At some point, I would love to be able to focus on the historical genre a bit more. But right now my niche is definitely contemporary romance. As much as I love reading historicals, Regencies, and Highland romance, I enjoy writing contemporaries most.
Susana: Every writer dreams of getting “the call.” What were you doing when yours came? Who got to hear the good news first?
Amber: My agent relayed the news to me. I had known that Harlequin was interested in A Place With Briar and I had done several revisions of the manuscript. The revisions had taken a while because I was pregnant when I received the initial notes from the editors and I had some major issues with morning sickness and fatigue. I was so happy and relieved when the Superromance imprint finally said “yes” because I felt like the revised manuscript represented some really tough months and my best work to date.
Susana: Describe the “perfect hero.” What about the “perfect hero” for you?
Amber: As a reader, the perfect hero is a man who is compelling, someone I care about instantly and never stop caring about from the start of the book to the finish. I’m also a fan of the wounded/damaged romance hero. A beard doesn’t hurt much either and, as far as contemporary romance heroes are concerned, maybe a tattoo…or two. LOL. The perfect hero for me personally in real life is a 6-foot-tall, bearded man with calloused hands, kind blue eyes and an even kinder heart who can build beautiful houses from start to finish and who rides motorcycles. This is, of course, my real-life hero, my husband. 🙂
Susana: What has been your biggest adventure to date?
Amber: My biggest adventure started in the spring of 2012. My husband and I tried for a long time to have a baby, and four years later we had all but given up when I realized that we finally would. That baby is now an adventurous toddler and he keeps us both very busy running after him and taking him to new places he can explore. Parenthood has definitely been my biggest and most cherished adventure to date!
Readers, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on what the “perfect hero” would be? Does your idea of the perfect contemporary hero differ from the perfect historical hero, like mine? And if you have a real-life hero, feel free to tell me what he’s like, too 😉
About A Place With Briar
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. (RT BOOK REVIEWS gives this book 4 STARS!)
“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.
About the Author
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.