PEPPER WINTERS: THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN FINAL DEBT WAS TO IGNORE OUTSIDE INFLUENCES
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Few days ago Pepper Winters released Final Debt, the sixth part of her popular Indebted series. The master of Dark romance is recognized worldwide for her books and made it into New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today International Bestseller. We are honored to host our next talk with Pepper Winters and to say welcome to Land of Books.
– Pepper, what is your book Final Debt about?
– It’s the finale to a long running series about a six-hundred-year old contract over two English houses. Debts have to be paid for circumstances that happened in the 1500’s. The story is set in modern day England and is a Dark Romance told with new debt in a volume. I can’t give too much away about Final Debt as it would spoil the other books. However, the first book DEBT INHERITANCE is free on all online platforms.
– How did you decide to write the story around Indebted series?
– I was inspired by a trip to England to visit family. I went to Waddeson Manor in Buckinghamshire and the family feud and romance bloomed from there. I based Jethro Hawk’s estate Hawksridge Hall on the manor. You can visit any time of year in the UK
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Making sure I stayed true to the characters, managing to tie up every loose end and generally ignoring outside influences to complete the story I’d envisioned.
– Tell us something more about your main characters? Are they close to someone from your real life?
– No, they’re completely fictional. However, Nila Weaver suffers vertigo which I suffer sometimes, too. So there are elements of me inside the pages. Jethro Hawk comes across as a bad guy but once you get to know him, he has many facets to explain how he is.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– Each book takes about 6-8 weeks from first sentence, three edits, 6 beta readers, and publication.
– What the readers will find in your Monsters in the Dark series?
– A love story between a French businessman and a woman who was on vacation with her boyfriend and was kidnapped. She’s trafficked and ends up as Q’s slave. There are a lot of twists and turns, and just like Jethro Hawk, Q Mercer comes across as a villain. However, not everything is as it seems.
– Would you describe the first reaction when you saw your name in NY Times bestselling list?
– I was rather shell-shocked. To be honest, I’m still rather amazed at the success I’ve been able to enjoy. I’d always hoped and dreamed for success with my writing but never believed I’d managed to hit the NYT 4 times, USA 13 times, and Wall Street Journal twice in under two years. I’ve been very blessed.
– Who are you (Would you describe yourself with few sentences)?
– I’m normal…at least I think I am. I’m a complete introvert (as most writers are) and can’t stomach large crowds. In the past 18 months, I’ve done 9 signings (Scotland, Australia, USA, Canada) I’m incredibly grateful I was able to travel for work and visit incredible readers but it really showed me how much of an introvert I am. It drained me a lot. I love to be quiet, spend time with my husband and house rabbit and generally prefer to stay at home or travel to a tropical island rather than party with loud noises.
– What are your writing habits?
– I have rather strange habits. Most days I can do upward of 10,000 words. I’m very lucky to be a fast typist. I love the process of creating and spending time in fictional worlds and writing is a joy rather than a chore. Most days I’ll write and market and be on facebook for upward of 8 hours a day. This past year I’ve written over 7 full sized books equaling over 800,000 words. I’m hoping 2016 will mean a bit less of a manic workload.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your book?
– Yes, very. I’m blown away that people have enjoyed my series and supported me so kindly. It blows my mind to think hundreds of thousands of people have read my work and thousands have contacted me directly to say they enjoy it. Nothing is more rewarding.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I think the best promotion is to write a good book. I focus on both plot and character and aim to have a soul-wrenching connection and love story which really affects the reader. If a reader FEELS the story, they’re more likely to remember and share the news. It makes a book have a longer shelf life and also means more trust to read the author’s other titles even if they’re in different genres.
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– Yes, the sequel to RUIN & RULE (SIN & SUFFER) will be out on the 26th January 2016 released by Grand Central, Hachette. And a new book called UNSEEN MESSAGES is my first non-dark romance. I’ll be having a cover reveal on the 20th December and remaining rather secret about it until release. However, I can say that this is a book I’ve been dying to write forever, am putting everything I can into making it as best as it can be, and have high hopes for its reception. The mini blurb is as follows:
There is a message for everything. From handwritten to verbal, seen and unseen. Messages exist all around us.
But what if you don’t see?
What if you don’t understand?
What if by ignoring the message, your life is never the same again?
– Why you select dark romance genre for your literary field?
– I love getting into the head space of my characters. Like I said, I’m a very character driven writer and the harder situations the plot deals with the more emotion and intensity I can draw forth. I’ve loved every second of writing Dark Romance, however I’m also looking forward to branching out. I also have a non-dark series coming in 2016 which will be revealed in February 2016 and again I have high hopes.
– Would you describe your Top 3 ingredients for making a thrilling sex scene in a novel?
– The chase / build-up. I much prefer writing the little touches, lingering glances, and building anticipation rather than the actual sex scene. It’s those little things that build the action from a simple pleasure to a page-melting relief.
The connection between the characters: There has to be chemistry and it has to be believable.
The aftermath: There has to be a point and plot moving reason why they had sex and that reason has to then be contorted and strained to ensure the love and hope the reader feels then turns back to angst and anticipation for the next big scene.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– Instead of doing this (as I can’t think of anything) I’ve copied and pasted a few questions from a previous interview which were never published.
– Are you self-published?
– I started self-publishing in August 2013 and by March 2014, I was contacted by Grand Central (Hachette) to work with them. I agreed and accepted an advance to deliver two books in the Motorcycle Genre to be released worldwide on the 7th July 2015.
– Did you have a background in writing before you began to publish in this genre?
– Yes, I’ve ALWAYS written. From a very young age I was interested in Creative Writing and never stopped living in my imagination. I left school and became a flight attendant for a while before opening my own business in Sydney. Life got in the way and it wasn’t until Dec 2008 that I purchased my first laptop and turned a hobby of writing into an obsession. I became addicted and self-taught a lot as I’d left school at sixteen to follow my passion of travel. I wrote two books before I had the belief it was good enough to be read by strangers and self-published Tears of Tess (my fifth book) in August 2013. It soared up the charts and in one month changed my life completely.
– What were your initial goals for this career?
– To hit top 100 on Amazon and make a year’s salary by doing something I loved. Those were my only two goals. Once Tears of Tess did well, I expanded those goals to getting on to the USA Today Bestseller List, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. I’ve been lucky enough to achieve those goals.
– Overall, what has been—or still is—the hardest thing about being a writer?
– Having thick skin. One stars are inevitable and will happen no matter who or what you write.
– What are your current goals in this writing genre?
– My goals have become rather lofty. I would LOVE a TV show for the Indebted Series and a Movie Deal for Monsters in the Dark Trilogy. I would love to hit #1 on Amazon overall. I want to give my family all lump sum cash gifts to make their lives easier. I would love to help others achieve their dreams. And I would love to enjoy my life more now that I’ve worked so hard.
– On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most difficult), how difficult is it to launch a career in this field/genre?
– I’d say 8-9. It’s the ‘ice-berg’ syndrome. They only see the tip, not the work below the surface. When you make it, people think you did it overnight. They expect you drank some magic potion that sent you soaring up the lists and cast a spell on readers to buy your book. It can look like sudden success, but it definitely is not. THOUSANDS of hours goes into writing, plotting, developing yourself as an author. It’s never ending. Not only do you have to be an author, but also a marketing manager, an editor, cover artist, agent, website designer, social media guru, and self-publishing genius. Sure, some are able to type a book in two weeks and upload and BAM, success. But that wasn’t how it was for me. It took me eight years from taking my writing seriously, to getting a single penny from publishing.
– Is this work more fulfilling than your previous career?
– Hell YES. Can I swear on here? I just did. A thousand, billion times YES. I was born to write. The End.
– What would you say are the most outstanding benefits of this career, vs. your previous (or more conventional) careers?
– Making my dreams come true. Literally. I hoped and prayed for this and to have it come true blows my mind. I get to write while warm and comfortable in my home. My husband no longer has to work. We get to travel for business. I’ve made some incredible friends online. And set us up financially for the rest of our lives. It truly has been like winning the lottery. However, just like winning the lottery it can end tomorrow, so save your money or invest wisely.
– What were (or are) the biggest surprises for you, in this unique career? (And what should I have asked you about that I did not?)
– There isn’t really anything that is a surprise as I’d researched this business months and months in advance. I became friends with authors knee-deep in publishing and learned from them. I guess the main thing for me is that my family (at the beginning) didn’t know why I wasted so much time writing. It wasn’t making me money, storylines stressed me out, and I was constantly nose-deep in a notebook with my characters instead of living my life. Writing became my world and only my very supportive and understanding husband understood. Even now they still don’t truly get how I’m on the New York Times List etc when I just sit in my lounge and write. Now, they understand that this career isn’t a job choice but a soul-driven-need to create.
– What is your advice for those who would like to try their hand at writing?
– I would recommend the following:
*Research other successful authors in the genre you want to release in.
* Follow the top 100 on Amazon and study their cover design, blurb and tag lines, and fashion yourself on their success.
* EDIT EDIT EDIT. I have two editors on each book and STILL there are errors. I also recommend you teach yourself how to edit so you can ensure your drafts are clean.
* Don’t chase the market if your heart isn’t in the story. The only way to success is to deliver a book that affects people. If that’s a story that isn’t in a hot-selling genre, then write it anyway. You never know when that book might explode.
* Be polite and courteous. Never get an ego. Help others when they ask you questions. Participate in giveaways, competitions, and portray a kind professional presence online.
* Write consistently or have a goal of say XYZ number of words per week. Don’t get distracted online when you’re trying to work.
* Use services recommended by successful authors. There are a lot of options out there and not all of them are good value.
* Don’t publish your first book, unless you’ve written a lot before. I’m a firm believer that those 5 books that I wrote BEFORE I published Tears of Tess helped me learn how to be a better storyteller, how to self-critique, and grow as an author. You want to put out a quality product from the beginning as people remember if you don’t.
* Sign up to critique groups. Find like-minded authors and share expertise. Beta Read for each other and help push each other. Don’t let critique hurt you. The more amendments and improvements you do before publishing, the less likely of being slammed with hurtful one stars. Do everything in your power to deliver a clean, concise plot that you’re proud of.
* Most of all be ‘stickable’ if your first book doesn’t generate sales, keep going. Don’t get downhearted. Many authors have to write multiple books before getting an audience. But just remember, each book that doesn’t get noticed is another one in your back catalogue just waiting to be noticed when that ‘one’ book does.
Take a look at her books
Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1)
Quintessentially Q (Monsters in the Dark #2)
Twisted Together (Monsters in the Dark #3)
Debt Inheritance (Indebted #1)
First Debt (Indebted Series #2)
Second Debt (Indebted Series #3)
Third Debt (Indebted Series #4)
Fourth Debt (Indebted Series #5)
Final Debt (Indebted #6)
Indebted Epilogue (Indebted #7)
Ruin & Rule (Motorcycle romance)
Sin & Suffer (Motorcycle romance)
Je Suis a Toi (Monsters in the Dark Novella)
Super Secret Series