Let's welcome Sierra Shipley!
Sierra is a debut steamy contemporary romance author and a personal friend of mine. That's right! I know her in REAL life!
Sierra Shipley is a born and raised Midwest girl and spends her days with her lovable rescue pup, Trip. Her ideal day is spent drinking coffee, reading, and dreaming.
Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
I think, whether we intend it to happen or not, authors often put aspects of themselves into the characters they create. I can admit that it was freeing to be able to put parts of myself on the page mixed up with this character that I so easily related to. It can also be a tad embarrassing! My beta reader, who is a great friend of mine, called me up after she read the draft of my book. She told me specific times while reading when she went "Oh, that's totally Sierra." I had to laugh and admit that at that moment, that character was 100% me!
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Hallie Bennett is a close friend of mine! We've been friends for over 10 years and still keep in almost daily contact. She has been so helpful in guiding me through this process and has been pushing me to write for years. I'm so grateful to her!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Seeing as I write contemporary, honestly not much. I build my characters first and then figure out which areas suit them best.
What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?
At first, the whole thing! I've been wanting to write my whole life but never did. I would come up with ideas and begin to start the story, but eventually, it would fall flat, and I would drop it entirely. Actually starting - and finishing- a story is a feat for me. Just accomplishing that has made me so proud of myself.
If you're planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?
I have so many plans! Anyone that knows me, gets that I am a planner. I also love a good series, so both things go hand in hand. I was already building sequels and expanding the world before I had even gotten halfway through the draft of my first book.
If you could spend the day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
Amy Daws and Sarah J Maas. I cannot get enough of either one of these authors. SJM has taken control of my life when I was introduced to ACOTAR in 2020. Since then, I have read (and reread) all of her series. Amy Daws is a newer obsession. I absolutely ate up her Harris Brothers series and many spin-offs with that series, and I recently finished her Wait With Me series. Her books never fail to have me laughing out loud!
Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing?
I just recently experienced this. I have a very large, very cuddly dog with the silliest personality. I was literally right in the middle of a spicy scene when he demanded to go outside. He will stand there and bark, groan, and rub against me (yes, like a cat) until he gets what he wants. I had to "pause" the scene to let him outside.
If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?
While crafting Holden, I pictured Michiel Huisman a la Daario Naharis from Game of Thrones. The long wavy hair, the beard, his build... so obviously it has to be him.
What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?
I think what has helped me the most, is writing everything down before I even start typing. I have a designated "writing" notebook. In it, I have written down each of the couples, their character traits and quirks, and even an overview of where their story will go. I think this is what has helped me to actually complete a story since I already know where it's going.
Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you see yourself?
Absolutely. I don't particularly feel skilled or proud of many things. Compared to others, I don't feel like I have accomplished much in my life. This feeling of "being behind" or "unaccomplished" is something that helped push me to follow my dream of being a writer. When I was able to put "the end" at the end of my first novella, I had tears in my eyes because I had finally accomplished something. Even if no one reads my stories, I am so proud of following through with my dream.
Where did you get the idea for your first book and/or series?
It was really a "let's see what I can come up with" type of situation. I knew I wanted my MCs to meet at a club, I knew that I wanted them to get stuck together, and I knew that he had to have a reason to not live in the same city as her. What would bring these two characters together? Let's put them in a club! Why would he be there? Well obviously, he should be buying the club, so that means he should be a billionaire because why not? Everything sort of came together from there.