Exclusive Interview with

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When did you start writing?

I've been writing all my life. I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by books, and my Mum taught me how to read before started school. I think I was maybe seven or eight years old when the penny dropped that someone *writes* the stories. That's when I knew I would be a writer myself one day.

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What makes writing your passion?

It's the love of Story. As it happens, I've settled into steamy romance and thrillers as my niche. If truth be told, that's because those genres are where the money is, and this is my living. But the genre is incidental. I *love* stories. And if there's anything better than reading a good story, it's writing one.

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How long have you been writing?

As I said, I was eight when I knew I wanted to be an author. However, I grew up, life got in the way with all the usual 'stuff': university, marriage, a career and all the rest. Then, my partner and I stepped off the treadmill, moved to Spain and that gave me the freedom to do what I always wanted: to write for a living as a professional author.

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What was the feeling when you published your first book?

Abso-lutely-freakin' amazing!
There's *nothing* like the feel of seeing your first book go live.
Since then, I've published well over a hundred titles, but 'The First Time' is always special.

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What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

I want my characters to *live* inside the heads of my Readers. Consequently, while my stories and characters are strictly fictional, I always try to measure their words and actions by, 'Is this believable?' or 'Would he/she really do this?'
To make a story work, characters have to resonate, to take the Reader *there*. While my stories are romantic adventures and fantasies, I try to make everything that happens in them possible, and the behaviour of my characters true to that situation.

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What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

Hmmm... Tough one...
Marketing's not my first love, but if you write for a living, marketing is one of the realities.
I suppose, if pressed, what annoys me most are authors who think that their word is some sort of holy writ. These are *stories*. People read them for fun. If you're lucky, you write them for fun. Authors who take themselves too seriously have lost the plot (pun intended ,-) )

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How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

I've only ever once suffered from writer's block, and that was very recently when I joined in with a fundraiser anthology for Save the Children Ukraine.
I'd intended to write a short story. Nothin elaborate - maybe three or four thousand words.
It didn't happen. Nothing I wrote matched up with the sheer awfulness of what we're seeing unfold out there. After five attempts and re-starts at my story, I gave up on it. Instead I wrote a poem for submission to the anthology then took a couple of days off to clear my head and get back to my WIP.

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We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

Keep writing. If it works, do more. If it doesn't work, try something new: a different genre, a different POV, even a change of pen name and a fresh start. But keep writing.

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If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

I'd have told her that, one day, she'd *Do It*.

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Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

I always read my reviews. A writer learns much from good feedback including, among other things, what the Readers want more of.
The bad ones, if it's a valid point, I take it on board. If it's trolling, I ignore it. I get enough good reviews to have faith in what I produce.

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What is the feeling when you get a good review?

Yeah! *Pumps Fist*

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Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

All the time. I'm not young, in my 60s as I write this. but that means I have a lifetime of experiences and anecdotes. Some good. Some not so good. But all are material for life-like stories and characters.
To paraphrase, 'All the world's a source'.

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Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

There's a bit of me in two of my heroines: Charlotte and Kirstie.
Kirstie in particular, with her rescue dogs and adventurous outlook, was a reflection of me in my single days.
Charlotte - well, Charlotte wanted to go to university to qualify as an engineer. And that's what I did, in the days when I held down a 'proper job'. Another part of my life experience which found its way into my stories.

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What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

A difficult question to answer:
Short answer - YES. Because the cover is the first things most potential readers see. It has to capture the genre of the story and the brand of the author in a single image so that anyone seeing it feels inclined to click.
But I also try to capture that shades of the story in my covers. I make my own, and for the most part, I'm pleased with them.

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Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

I do connect, yes. I try to answer all messages sent to me - which is *lots*.

However, I also have a Facebook group, and that is where I meet up and chat with my followers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/simonessecretrosegarden/

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How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

Appreciate? It's the glow of a warm puppy getting his ears scratched.

Recognized? It's never happened. lol!

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Who is your favorite author? Why?

Believe it or not, I grew up reading fairy tales, science fiction and fantasy. My long-term favourite would have to be Tolkien

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What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

I don't measure myself that way. Comparing yourself to other people is a way of breeding contempt to those 'lower' or 'jealousy' for those higher up the ladder.
My target is to make a comfortable living.

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Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

I've thought about it sometimes. But really, I prefer to write new stories, not rework old ones.

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If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

Happy in my own skin. no ambitions to change.

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What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.

I've only been trolled rarely. The one that stands out in my mind was having a really good stab at me for writing erotic romance and, THEREFORE, encouraging others to behave in certain ways. At the end, he threw his dummy out of the pram and told me I was 'Beyond Redemption'
So, I wrote that into my Bio.