As part of our Exploding Hearts series, we’re interviewing as many romance novelists as possible between now and Valentine’s Day. Let your heart grow three – or even fourteen – sizes this February and check out these authors’ books, from the sweet and inspirational to the spicy hot.
Sophia Ryan is the author of the contemporary erotic romance novels 6 Days of You, Dirty Little Secret, She Likes it Irish, Sin City Alibi and Only Forever. As Sophia tells it, Only Forever is her favorite book – and it almost didn’t get published because it touches on the subject of marital infidelity. Although several publishers loved the story, they were squeamish about readers’ potential reactions, but Wild Rose Press took a chance and published her story in 2016. As Sophia points out, “The book doesn’t present infidelity as a good thing, only as something that can happen in even a loving marriage when a couple loses sight of what’s most important to them.”
We recently had a chance to interview Sophia about her writing and influences. Here’s what she had to say.
Who are your top 5 authors or influences, and why?
The first romance novels I read were my mom’s old LaVyrle Spencer and Janet Dailey romances. I loved their down-to-earth characters and simple but engaging and heartwarming stories. As an English major, I’ve read a lot of literature, so I like Faulkner, Twain, Eliot, Brontë. Their styles were vastly different, but they all knew how to tell a good story. Contemporary writers I read include Maya Banks, especially her erotic historicals, and Megan Hart, whose books make you feel like you’re in the story with the characters. For quick, fun, new-adult stories, I like Lauren Layne, who writes young, fresh, uber-contemporary relationships that show love in bloom. That’s way more than five, but I have a lot of favorites, and enjoy different genres.
What fuels your writing?
If you mean what keeps me writing, it’s the voices in my head… characters telling their stories. You’ll probably hear this from a lot of writers, but writing is now an obsession with me. I go through withdrawals if I’m not writing. I enjoy it, so it makes me want to do it. If you mean how I get my ideas, it’s also the voices in my head! Also, everything going on around me gives me ideas for stories, for characters, for dialog. And I read a lot, too – for pleasure but also to learn about good writing, the flow of it. Even not-so-good writing has a lesson to teach.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
For my work-in-progress, I had interviewed my dad and a few of his relatives about their life growing up on a family ranch/farm, and from their memories, my first cowboy-rancher love story emerged. I’m in the editing stage now, and I really love the story shaping up between Charleigh and Josh.
My latest published book, Only Forever, which came out last year, combined some of my favorite things: Ireland, archaeology, ghosts, magic, soulmates, passionate love, and difficult choices we all have to make to find happiness. It’s my absolute favorite book. And I fell completely in love with the Irish sex god, Ian McCanna.
Do you have a favorite quote about the writing process?
“The secret of it all is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place.” –Walt Whitman
How (if at all) does your geographic location influence your writing?
My book-in-progress is set in eastern New Mexico, which is predominantly farms and ranches, but I live in the state’s largest city. It’s the first time I’ve set a book in this state, so my location hasn’t really influenced my writing.
As a romance author, what inspires the types of stories you’re drawn to tell in your books? And what kinds of books do you enjoy reading?
Many of my stories delve into the issue of trust, but then I guess a lot of romances do. Another common theme I’ve tapped was where something breaks up the couple but they come back together when they realize they belong together. Those are the kinds of books I read, too. I love to read ghost stories, so my next book might need to venture into that realm. Although Only Forever did have a ghost thread in it, so I’ve already dipped in a toe.
What’s your writing routine like? Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?
I plot in my head then dump it onto the page (screen). I don’t really outline, but I do conjure up an idea of what the story is about, who the characters are, where they’re going, what their goals and motivations are, and how they’re going to end up, and I keep it in my head.
How much time do you usually spend researching a novel before you begin writing?
I don’t let the need to research guide my writing. I write and then I research when I need to. I did a lot of research for Only Forever because I didn’t know a lot about Ireland or archaeology or tea leaf reading. It was incredibly interesting and fun! I continued my research throughout the course of writing the book because I kept finding that sections needed richer details. It’s why the book is so long.
Do you have any talismans, charms, superstitions or music that inspires or helps you to write, and what’s the story behind them?
I wish! That would make a fun story! But, no. I don’t. I just open my document, find where I left off, and start. I do like to listen to music while I write, but no particular style or piece.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’m a writer-editor by career, and my degrees (BA and MA) are in professional writing, so even if I weren’t a novelist, I’d still be a writer. I guess if I hadn’t gone that direction, though, I’d like to be an archaeologist or geologist or scientist. As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut but, oh, the math!
What are some of your hobbies or sports of choice when getting out from behind the desk?
I’m a yoga and hiking fanatic, and I also swim and lift weights, so I like to work out and be active. I also like to read and write, spend time with friends and family, and learn more about the fine art of microbrewed beer tasting. Albuquerque is home to some top microbreweries, so it’s a delicious hobby to have.
What are you currently working on, and why will it melt hearts?
I’m working on a cowboy/second chance/secret baby contemporary romance set on a ranch. The hero is a sexy cowboy… need I say more? Ha! The former lovers are forced to work together and, of course, they soon realize they never got over each other. Their journey back to love is filled with twists and turns, but they prevail because they learned from their past mistakes. Throw in the secret baby and watch the cowboy’s heart melt. Love triumphs again.
Want to win a copy of Only Forever?
Just leave a comment below before February 14th at midnight (PST), and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win. Drawing will be held on February 15th, with one winner chosen randomly. Be sure to include a valid email address with your comment!