Sunday, October 11, 2015

PUYB Chats with Amber Leigh Williams, author of 'His Rebel Heart'

Amber Leigh Williams lives on the Gulf Coast. A southern girl at heart, she lives for beach days, the smell of real books, relaxing at her family’s lakehouse, and spending time with her husband and two children. When she’s not keeping up with rambunctious little ones and two large dogs she can usually be found reading a good romance or cooking up a new dish in her kitchen. She is represented by D4EO Literary Agency.

Her latest book is the contemporary romance, His Rebel Heart.

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About the Book:

Title: His Rebel Heart
Author: Amber Leigh Williams
Publisher: Harlequin (Superromance)
Pages: 380
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Being a single mother and successful florist is tough, especially when your new next-door neighbor is the man who shattered your heart. Eight years ago, bad boy James Bracken walked away from Adrian Carlton…and their unborn child. Now he's back. And Adrian's desire to protect her son from the truth of his biological father isn't enough to hide the wild blue eyes of father and son, or to keep Adrian from surrendering to the raw passion between her and James. But is he truly the changed man he claims to be? Maybe this time his rebel heart really is home to stay.

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Welcome to the book club, Amber!  Can we start off by having you tell us how you got started writing contemporary romance novels?
Amber: I remember reading my first contemporary series romance when I was fourteen. It was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts. I remember thinking that it had everything that I loved in one book and I wished I could write that way someday. Typically, a writer writes what they love reading and that’s true for me. I still love reading romance as much as I love writing it fifteen years later.
This is your 10th book if I’ve counted right.  You are so prolific! How many years was it between your first book published and now your present book, His Rebel Heart?
Amber: 10th!? Wow, I hadn’t realized. Thank you for pointing that out! I began writing full time in 2005-2006. My first book was published by a small press in February 2008. I’ve learned a lot since then. Thankfully, my publishing experience started when I was fairly young. It takes a while to find your voice and then it takes a few years after you publish to get a feel for the business. I’m glad I didn’t wait to pursue publication. I wouldn’t trade the wisdom of seven years for anything.
Do you believe a writer can only get better with each book?  How would that pertain to your own experience writing and publishing books?  Does it get easier or harder with each release?
Amber: I’ve learned that my only goal for myself while writing a book is to make it the best work that I’m capable of now. A few years down the road I might look back and think, “I could have done better.” That may be true for me with a few more years writing under my belt, but that won’t be true of me now because at the end of the book I know it’s my best work up to this point. A writer never stops learning or evolving. There’s always room for growth. There’s always another writer out there who you feel is better than you are. But I find feelings of inadequacy are much less confining if the only person I’m competing with when I’m writing is the writer I was yesterday. And though you learn more from each book, it doesn’t make writing the next one any easier because every book is a product unto itself – different plot, different characters, different themes. I don’t want to write the same book twice. That challenge is something I relish as well as something that haunts me. That’s why I don’t think writing is something I’ll ever get tired of.
I love contemporary romances as I know my readers do, too.  Can you tell us more about Adrian Carlton, the heroine in your book?
Amber: Adrian is a single mother and an independent business owner. In the past, she’s always gone for the wrong type of guy, the bad boy. When one of those bad boys comes back into town to redeem himself in her eyes, she’s horrified because this particular old flame happens to be her son’s father. I love Adrian’s character because her son, Kyle, is the most important thing in her life so she’s got that mama bear mentality that makes her fierce. Underneath the hard exterior, though, is someone who’s hurting and has never really taken the time to heal because since she became a mom she’s been focused entirely on her child’s happiness and providing for him. I find that very human. She was a compelling person to write and a heartbreaking one as well.
Can you tell us a little about the other supporting characters?
Amber: James Bracken, the hero, is sexy, edgy, large and in charge. However, for a long time he’s lived with this pressing guilt that he wants to absolve and he feels that the only way to do that is to return to his hometown where he made all those mistakes and to confront the ghosts of his past. One of those ghosts is Adrian. I love how finding out he is father changes him. It makes him even more of a man and that much more determined to clear his name and make Adrian see that he’s a changed man. The father-son relationship that emerges between him and Kyle is very touching and one of my favorite elements of the book. 
They say all books have at least one pivotal point when they just can’t put that book down.  What’s one of the pivotal points in His Rebel Heart?
Amber: For me, there’s so many. The story had me hooked from the prologue. Usually, I have to drill through a couple of chapters before a book really grabs me by the antlers and locks me into the words and pages. But this one had me from day one, especially when Adrian finds out that the person moving in next door to her by chance is James.
One question I know all our reader would like to know is, how did you get the book deal with Harlequin?
Amber: While still maintaining a level of professionalism, I simply wouldn’t let them take no for answer. I guess I just finally wore them down. I queried Harlequin for years before I got an agent. When my agent read my first contemporary romance, she asked who I wanted to pursue with it. I wrote it for Harlequin’s Superromance line so she sent it there and a few months later we had a nibble. The editors wanted a revision. Publishers like Harlequin like to continue working with their authors after they publish one book so I knew a revision was something of an audition. My editor liked the revision as well as the next book in the series so I was contracted for a third and I’m now working toward a fourth.
What’s next for you, Amber?
Amber: I’m currently writing the fourth book in my Superromance series. I’ve also been working on a historical romance. My next big writing project will be a western romance trilogy with more elements of suspense to shake things up a bit. After that, I think I’ll be ready to return to Fairhope, the setting of my current series with Superromance, and tackle the next generation of characters. There’s always a story, everywhere you look.

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