Sabrina, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down for an interview. I'm thrilled to feature your books here and at Romance Reviews Submitted by Authors. In fact, we have two fantastic reviews coming up for your books over there so I'm so excited for you as we start into a Sabrina Devonshire weekend! Welcome!
Since reading your book, The Open Water Swimmer, I’ve considered myself a fan. I’ve always loved to swim so any novel with swimming at the heart of the plot will definitely gain this reader’s attention. However, your book was different from others I’ve read, specifically in comparison to other novels that would potentially fall in the sports romance category. I don’t want to provide spoilers for your readers, but would like to know the story behind the story. Will you give us a little insight on where you came up with the idea for the plot and if anything specifically triggered some of the elements and/or events you included in The Open Water Swimmer?
In addition to writing novels, I write magazine features; primarily on health and fitness topics and competitive swimming. The 10K open water swimming marathon was introduced as an Olympic event in the 2008 Beijing Games. I wrote several features on open water swimming that year and became a bit obsessed with the sport. When I saw a headline about an open water swimming death, I thought what if I jumped off that premise and made it end more favorably? And so I did.
I absolutely love the water—swimming enhances my mood, inspires me to write, improves my health and keeps me very fit. So I swim hard in the pool most days of the week and often compete in Masters swimming meets. I’m also a certified scuba diver. But I’ve never done distance ocean swimming for a variety of reasons—I get hypothermia easily in cold water and suffer chronic fatigue after endurance training. I also get dreadfully motion sick in a choppy sea. So beyond the few one or two mile open water races I swam in La Jolla and Waikiki, it was sheer joy to live vicariously through Jeff Dickson and break all my own physical limitations through his character. I hope my book brings more attention to this thrilling sport, which many people don’t even know exists.
Sabrina, you have a strong writing voice, one that is distinctly your own and shows that you know who you are as a writer. How long have you been writing? Take us back to the start of your writing career and tell us about your journey.
I kept a journal as a youth and even wrote a mystery story when I was eight involving tree forts and squirrels. No, I won’t ever be publishing it J
I always dreamed of being a writer, but was told repeatedly it wasn’t a practical career, so I abandoned the idea until seven years ago, when I found myself suddenly unemployed. My ultra-supportive husband asked me, “What do you really want to do now?” and I told him I wanted to work as a fitness professional and try to publish magazine articles and books. He instantly gave me the “thumbs up” sign, which he always does when it comes to chasing down my dreams.
I was hired as a personal trainer/instructor at an active adult community in January of 2005 and published my first article in the Arizona Daily Star—a travel feature about Peru— in May of that same year. Since then, in an effort to hone my craft, I’ve enrolled in local writing classes and writing workshops across the country and even once in Prague. Now, I continue to train a well-established clientele, write regularly for three national magazines, and have four published novels.
3. Tell us about a typical writing day. Do you listen to music while you work? Do you follow a set schedule when you’re writing? How many hours per week do you normally write?
This answer should provide some comic relief…There is no typical writing day for me. I prefer to sit outside with my laptop because I tend to write better with plenty of light and fresh air. I usually find music and television too much of a distraction, but occasionally I’ll listen to some light Jazz, such as Paul Hardcastle (for some reason, just that name sounds so enticingly phallic, it sets a nice tone for writing some erotic scenes J). Depending on my work schedule at the gym, what’s happening with my family, and my mood, my writing schedule changes daily. I try to write fresh material when my energy level is high and will write into the night and even cut back on other work when inspiration levels soar. For magazine and book writing combined, I probably write about 25 to 40 hours per week.
4. I’m always interested in hearing other authors describe their writing process. Describe what happens for you when you decide to write a book. Do you plot out your story and use outlines or do you just sit down and start writing whatever comes to mind?
I’ll read a headline, watch a video, or see a photograph or painting somewhere and suddenly inspiration strikes. Once the spring board for the story is in place, I just sit down and write and usually the characters tell me how to run with the ball from there.
5. Have you ever experienced writer’s block and if so, how do you cope with it? Do you write yourself out of the block or do you walk away from what you’re doing and return to the book later?
Actually, I suffer from this malady quite often and sometimes I push through it by writing for several hours until something breaks and sometimes I just take on more magazine work or training clients until I feel creative again. A change of scenery or a bout of high-intensity exercise also sometimes helps.
6. Your books often include other locations outside the US. Have you traveled abroad or do you research the places you include in your books?
Travel thrills me and I’ve visited many of the places portrayed in my books. But I recently wrote my caving series, Love in the Labyrinths, without having visited Vietnam, by simply watching National Geographic videos about Mountain River Cave and reading library books. I also enlisted help from a beta reader who served in the Vietnam War and trekked all over the country. George told me my characters should go commando, since elastic on sweaty skin apparently enhances the growth of skin fungus. Getting people naked faster seemed like an excellent plan for this erotic suspense series. J
7. If a new writer approached you and told you they’d never been published but planned to self-publish their first book, what advice would you give them?
I would advise them to consult with a critique group and/or get a beta reader or two to take a look before they place their reputation on the line with something less than professional. Launching a career with a sloppy piece of work can kill someone’s chance for success. There are so many writers publishing with the ease of self-publishing and today’s market is super competitive. I think it’s very important to compose something that fits the genre and/or represents the “brand” the author is trying to establish. I have chosen to go the latter route myself, since my books don’t run midstream for the genres of contemporary romance, romantic suspense or sports romance. For example, most contemporary romance novels today feature billionaire men with influence and women who love to shop and enjoy long lunches while I take my readers out in the middle of a snake-infested jungle! And many suspense novels include only a stolen kiss or two whereas in my novels, my characters are always horny and whipping off their clothes in the most unlikely of places—on beaches, in caves, and even on tree trunks! But my readers enjoy the uniqueness of my stories, which I consider to be the Sabrina Devonshire trademark…
8. Tell us about your first acceptance letter. How did you choose a publisher, what happened after you submitted your manuscript, and how did you celebrate your manuscript acceptance?
I sent out queries, sample chapters and partials to many publishers I found on the RWA web site and when I got an acceptance from Extasy Books, I signed on. They struck me as personable and also offered a wealth of resources authors could use to hone their writing and understand the editing and publishing process. They also have one of the best small publisher web sites out there. I’m especially impressed with the quick click Kindle download option.
9. What are you working on now? Tell us a little about what you have coming soon, too.
My first self-published title will publish late this month or in early October. Seaside Seduction is written entirely from the male point-of-view.
Here’s the blurb:
Wealthy defense systems CEO Nicholas Gallero spots a mysterious woman in the Sea of Cortez while whale watching from the patio of his Cabo San Lucas mansion. When he realizes she’s in trouble, he rushes to save her. He’s instantly attracted to the voluptuous dark haired Selena Gomez. When Selena says she doesn’t remember how she ended up in Cabo, he invites her back to his house. Business as usual ends and his suspenseful romantic adventure begins.
10. Do you have specific career goals in mind? Where do you picture yourself in five years? How about ten years from now?
I want to make the USA Bestseller list with at least one title within the next two years and be well-known enough to get frequent invites to speak at conferences. I hope to present on wellness as often as other topics because I see a lot of authors coping with needless pain and disability due to bad lifestyle and work habits.
11. Let us know where we can find you on the web:
My books, new releases, blog posts, and more can be found at www.sabrinadevonshireromances.com You can also sign up for my newsletter here. I encourage readers seeking email notification of new releases, conferences I’m attending, and giveaways to sign up to receive these infrequent announcements.
You can also connect with me on Twitter @SabrinaDevonsh1 or Facebook
Thanks so much for being here with us, Sabrina. I look forward to following your career and reading more of your work!