This week I was lucky enough to sit down with fellow author and editor at Pandamoon Publishing, Regina West, to discuss writing, editing and her latest book, The Long Way Home, which releases July 30th. I was also fortunate enough to read an advance copy of West’s book and I’ll go ahead and admit it now: yes, it’s a tried and true Romance novel and yes, I actually really liked it (the first one in this genre that I’ve EVER read all the way through and liked). If you’re interested in the book, but don’t usually read Romance, that alone should tell you that this book has a lot more going on than just bodice ripping…. Curious? Keep reading!
The Long Way Home
Forty-two-year-old Twilah Dunn has it all: an exciting life in the big city of L.A. and a thriving ad agency she owns with her fiancé/business partner. But one phone call changes everything and leaves her with a dead dad, a cheating fiancé, and a score to settle.
Twilah returns to her small hometown in North Carolina determined to sell her father’s horse farm and use the money to buy her business out from under her cheating fiancé. Twilah’s plans change when she sees the farm’s dilapidated state. She can’t bear the thought of selling it that way.
Against all reason, she abandons her fast-paced, metropolitan life and moves into her childhood home to restore it to its former glory. But she knows she can’t do it alone.
She hires sexy, forty-something cowboy Aidan Perry to help her. Soon, she can’t keep her mind or her hands off him. But she’s heard the rumors of his dark past, and she was burned before by mixing business with pleasure.
Will Twilah push through her fear and let herself love Aidan? Will his mysterious past prove too dangerous? Has she really left Los Angeles behind? For some, the path home is straight and narrow, but others take The Long Way Home.
And now a little conversation!
Steph Post: The Long Way Home will be released in a little over a month! How excited are you right about now?
Regina West: I’m excited and super nervous. I really can’t wait to hold my book in my hands, with a cover and a real binding and everything. I’m also excited that I’ll actually have readers! I can’t wait to connect with them.
SP: You consider yourself a romance writer and The Long Way Home is a contemporary romance novel. What draws you to this genre? Have you ever written in any other genres?
RW: In the best romance novels, love is messy and complicated but always wins the day. The female lead may be far from perfect, yet she becomes extraordinary in the eyes of her lover. And where else can you get whole chapters devoted entirely to sex? Romance gets my heart and mind racing, so I love reading AND writing it.
That said, I have dabbled in other genres, primarily literary fiction. I wrote a short story once that accidentally morphed into horror. But in everything I write, I find myself examining the complexities of relationships and the human need for love.
SP: One of my favorite aspects of your novel is that while it stays true to the romantic genre, your characters are very unique and unpredictable. What is your process for developing characters in your work?
RW: If I’m really, really lucky, a character will pop into my head fully formed, but that rarely happens. Often, I’ll get a visual and some dialogue. Then it’s a matter of getting to know this character who just introduced him/herself to me. I’ve imagined riding in the car with them: what radio station would they choose? What would we talk about? Are they chatty or taciturn? Would they tell me about the person they love or be cagey?
If a particular character trait like sweetness, loyalty, intelligence, etc. is forefront, I’ll borrow mannerisms and modes of thought from friends of mine who also display the same trait.
Eventually I end up with a whole, multi-faceted character.
SP: In addition to being a novelist, you are an avid blogger. I just read one of your posts on “Twinkie Novels” and loved it (and not just because I have a dog named Twinkie). Can you explain to my readers what Twinkie novels are and your thoughts on them?
RW: I don’t know if I’d call myself an avid blogger. I have a love/hate relationship with my blog in that it’s a great way to get my voice out there and connect with other people, but it also consumes time I could spend writing novels.
Anyway, I have a serious sweet tooth. Twinkies themselves don’t rank high on my list, but sweets, especially pastries, are my go-to comfort food. Dessert is super yummy and lots of fun, but it isn’t very nourishing and, in large quantities, can make you feel sick. I realized that the same is true for my reading choices. Reading light books with light themes (i.e., Twinkie novels) can be a lot of fun, but they do little to nourish or inspire my writing. For that, I turn to literature.
I believe both are necessary. All work and no play…
SP: As if novelist and blogger weren’t enough literary hats for you, you are also an editor at Pandamoon Publishing. How is the experience of editing someone else’s work different from writing your own stories?
RW: Editing someone else’s work is much easier. Since I don’t know the story and I’m not attached to the words, I quickly see what needs to be fixed and have no problem changing or deleting things. The most important factor is keeping the author’s voice.
When I’m editing my own words, it’s very hard to be detached and view the writing as a reader might, so I miss a lot of stuff. It truly pays to have someone else edit your work.
Although it sounds dorky, I really enjoy the process of editing. It’s very left-brained and detailed, which I find fun, but more importantly, there’s nothing like helping authors make their work the best it can possibly be.
SP: Once The Long Way Home is published, do you have your sights on any writing projects in the near future? Care to give us all a hint on what you’re working on?
RW: I have a six-book paranormal romance series in the works. It falls into the Twinkie category, which means it’ll be a lot of fun, but there are deeper themes running through it of redemption and right and wrong. Oh and lots of sex and naughtiness, of course. :-)
Want to know more about Regina West? (of course you do!)
As a child, Regina West loved to peruse the fantasy worlds that filled her imagination. She created characters, places, events and even wrote some of her stories down. In recent years, she truly found her niche in the romance genre and embarked on her first novel, The Long Way Home.
She comes from a long line of romance readers. Anytime her mother and grandmother had a moment of quiet, they immersed themselves in whatever paperback romance they’d picked up that week. So it is fitting that Gina has chosen romance as her favorite genre for both reading and writing.
She grew up in North Carolina, spent a few years moving around the U.S., but has settled in beautiful Colorado. She spends her days working for a non-profit organization and her evenings hanging out with her two smartypants boys. In the middle, she manages to squeeze in writing, editing, classical guitar and knitting. Currently, she’s working on a six-book paranormal romance series.
One day, she hopes to leave winter behind forever and retreat to Tahiti to live in a yurt and while away the hours writing and sipping umbrella drinks.
And be sure to check her out at:
Facebook: Page: https://www.facebook.com/reginawestromanceauthor
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