How lucky am I to have the lovely, scintillating, and ‘Best-Selling’ Siera London as my June author of the month? Her LunchTime Chronicles are scrumptious enough to finish during your break and her stand-alone novels take romance to new, hot levels. I had the good fortune to work with Siera on a writing contest and was super-impressed by her willingness to mentor new writers and assist existing ones.
Janet Irvin: Welcome, Siera, to my author’s nook. Let’s settle in and get right to the heart of the matter. 🙂 In a good romance novel, backstory is everything! How does your personal backstory—22 years as a Navy nurse—inform your writing?
Siera London: Hmm, this is an interesting question because I’m not sure the backstory is everything. Like in every great story, the backstory reveals elements of character, plot, and motivation, but no reader wants to be weighed down in the past. I’m no exception to the rule.
My time in military service fed my curiosity to explore new people and places. As a benefit, I’m comfortable taking some risks in my storytelling, venturing off a single path while leaping over others. I suppose it’s why I write across genres about all people. With my healthcare background, I’m attracted to stories that heal and unite, because that’s my calling in this lifetime (I hope to have more than one life, like my cat).
JEI: You describe yourself as a natural storyteller. How did you gravitate to the romance genre?
SL: Of all the genres, romance and horror both hinge on the reader’s emotional experience, something I look for in a great story. Since I actually am scared of the stuff that goes bump in the night, romance was the safest choice, haha!
JEI: Did you have mentors or writers who inspired you?
SL: Oh my goodness, yes! Great writers have to be great readers, first. I credit my junior high school reader teacher, Mr. Christine for challenging me to summarize Stephen King’s Thinner during my summer reading class. He fostered my love of books, especially genre fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Brenda Jackson, Susan Elizabeth Philips, JR Ward, Lee Childs, Talia Hibbert, Mary Wine, Naima Simone, PT Deutermann, Neil Gaiman, Priscilla Oliveras, LaQuette, and Robyn Carr.
JEI: Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Beverly Jenkins speak about her writing journey as a Black woman writing romance. Would you comment on how publishing has changed, opened up, become more accessible? Or are there still strides to take?
SL: Wow, you really are hitting these questions out of the park. This is a dynamic question (very author specific) with a fluid answer. The simple answer is, yes. Traditional publishers have more diverse authors in their catalogs.
But, diverse authors still receive smaller book advances compared to Caucasian authors. This means a diverse author has to write faster and churn out more books to earn the same income.
With smaller and shorter marketing campaigns from traditional publishers, diverse authors may have to use their advances not as income, but as marketing dollars to increase the visibility of their brand during new releases. Translation: it can take significantly more years for an author of color to break out in a crowded marketplace.
Also, traditional publishers, bloggers, book influencers, and book clubs rarely promote, share, or recommend books with diverse cover images and storylines with the same enthusiasm as our Caucasian counterparts. Specifically, Black booktokkers and YouTubers’ digital content is suppressed at a higher percentage than whiter, lighter contributors across social media platforms.
JEI: You are a prolific writer with multiple series. How do you keep your characters straight? How do you continue to create original plots?
SL: Stories exist all around us! In fact, with the 24-hour news cycle and social media addiction, I would argue we are inundated with stories. The challenge as a creative? Deciding which story YOU have to tell the world.
To date, I have nine separate series, that for the most part, are interconnected. Keeping my characters straight is easy—they are people, like you and me. Just like I don’t confuse my daughter with my nail technician, my characters are a creative extension of my voice—they each embody a part of me.
As far as tracking my characters, I use Trello boards for each story. Trello is basically, a digital note card program where I track characters, setting, plot, and marketing for each book.
JEI: Where do you see your writing going in the next five years? More paranormal? More Lunchtime Chronicles?
SL: For the next 18 months, I’m completing a small-town romance trilogy sure to delight pet lovers for Hachette’s FOREVER imprint. The first book, Fake It Till You Make It, features former Army officer, now small-town veterinarian Eli Calvary, returning home to West Virginia to save the Calvary family homestead.
I started Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA curriculum in January. During the course of the 2.5-year program, I’d like to write a science fiction duet and a paranormal trilogy.
I also teach classes on book marketing, author brand building, and crafting a profitable series. Yeah, I’m going to expand my lecture and workshop opportunities.
JEI: Who are you currently reading?
SL: Oh, you sure you want an answer? I always read (or listen to) my own work. This month, it’s Cindra, my paranormal urban fantasy tale.
My usual is to alternate between craft and genre fiction titles. The goal is to complete one book each week. I have a 100% success rate, lol.
First, Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. Second, Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her.
Third, Robert Crais’ The Monkey’s Raincoat.
And, the finale for the month, Peter Dunne’s Emotional Structure.
JEI: My reward for meeting deadlines or to soften rejection is chocolate. What is your favorite comfort food?
SL: Hands down, chocolate anything!!! Cake, cookies, body scrub—I intravenously ingest chocolate.
USA Today Bestselling Author
Fiction writer of heroines you know, heroes you love, and romance you feel.