With a publishing industry that is ever in flux, it can be hard for an aspiring author to figure out what information is relevant and what she needs to do to be successful. Recognizing this, literary agent Andrea Hurst and writer/blogger Cherise Hensley present a series of weekly interviews with publishing industry specialists. The AUTHORNOMICS Series features literary agents, editors, authors, marketing experts and more talking about their opinions on the publishing industry, writing, and what a writer needs to know.
AUTHORNOMICS Interview with bestselling author Sophie Moss
Sophie Moss is a USA Today bestselling author of five full-length romance novels. She is known for her captivating Irish fantasy romances and heartwarming contemporary romances with realistic characters and unique island settings. As a former journalist, Sophie has been writing professionally for over ten years. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she’s working on her next novel. When she’s not writing, she’s testing out a new dessert recipe, exploring the Chesapeake Bay, or fiddling in her garden. Sophie loves to hear from readers. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website sophiemossauthor.com to sign up for her newsletter.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing professionally?
I discovered my passion for writing in college and started writing my first novel when I was nineteen. After the release of my third book in 2013, I was able to quit my day job and start working as a full-time author. I am incredibly grateful that I’m able to do what I love for a living!
Do you have a writing process that works best for you?
I wake up at 5am, and I’m usually at the computer by 5:30am. My most productive writing time is between 5-10am so I write a lot during those hours. After that, I do as many one-hour writing sprints as I can until about 4pm with plenty of breaks to exercise, run errands, and work in the garden.
Why did you choose to go the series route with your novels?
I love reading series and I love writing them. Even though each of my books features a new couple’s love story, the couple from the previous book always plays a role in the storyline. I love getting to know the characters better. I love seeing how they evolve as a couple after their initial happily ever after. And, most of all, I love slipping back into a setting and community that I’m familiar with. I think that’s what a series offers readers—a comforting familiar place where we can reconnect with old friends.
In one of your blog posts, you address the fear of writing that next book. As a USA Today bestselling author, do you feel driven to keep outdoing yourself? How do you deal with the pressure to please your readers with each new book?
I absolutely feel pressured to keep outdoing myself. I take my craft very seriously and I do everything I can to improve my writing with each new book. I also take the promise I make to my readers very seriously. My readers have come to expect a certain type of story from me—a compelling plot, realistic characters with good morals and kind hearts, a sweet small town setting with a tight-knit community, and an emotionally satisfying ending. It’s very important to me that every book I write delivers that same experience and fulfills that same promise.
Your Seal Island Trilogy is rooted in the Irish myth of selkies. What attracted you to that folklore?
I spent a summer in Ireland when I was in college and fell in love with the country, especially the islands off the west coast. I knew I wanted to set a story there, but I wasn’t sure what it would be about until I returned to the States and discovered the movie, The Secret of Roan Inish. Captivated by the idea of mystical seals who could transform into beautiful women on land, I knew the selkie legend would be the perfect backdrop for a mysterious, magical romantic series.
Your first book in the Wind Chime series, Wind Chime Café’, is full of mouthwatering dishes. In your opinion, what makes food such a great addition to a story?
Wind Chime Café is a heartwarming story about finding love, healing, and community again after enduring a life-changing tragedy. Food brings people together. It sparks conversation. It offers nourishment and comfort. Kitchens are generally warm, welcoming environments where everyone gravitates to pick up some of that comforting, caregiving energy. Weaving cooking scenes and recipes into this book just seemed like a natural fit.
Your fans must love that you have included some of your favorite recipes from the book, and also have the option for them to submit some recipes of their own on your website. Have you ever thought about compiling your own cookbook?
No, but that’s a great idea!
What do your hometown of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the fictional settings of Heron Island have in common? What inspires you most about these coastal locations?
Heron Island is loosely modeled after Tilghman Island, a real-life island in the Chesapeake Bay only thirty minutes down the road from where I grew up. It’s a place known for sailing, fishing, and crabbing. It’s home to some of the last few hearty souls who still pull their living from the water. It’s one of the only places on the Eastern Shore that is relatively undeveloped. I’ve always been drawn to island settings, both in reading and writing. There’s something so soothing about being surrounded by all that water. The pace of life is slower. Neighbors look out for each other. Everyone knows everything about everyone. I recently moved back to the area where I grew up. I currently live in a tiny, coastal town similar to Heron Island and I feel so fortunate to be able to share the rich culture and traditions of this place through my stories.
In addition to your novels, you also write flash fiction. How does writing flash fiction compare to longer pieces?
I love writing flash fiction. It’s much more freeing than writing a novel because you can give into a creative impulse instead of worrying how each sentence is going to affect every little thing that comes after it. Novels take so much time and patience and thought. Flash fiction is really just a “flash” of inspiration I might get while walking or gazing out the window or finding a pretty picture on Pinterest.
Some of your books have been released as audiobooks. What steps did you have to take to make this a reality? How much involvement do you have in the conversion process?
Four of my titles are available as audiobooks, with a fifth on the way soon. I wrote a detailed post about the process on my blog last year, but in short, I convert my titles through the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), which is an online marketplace where authors can connect with professional narrators and recording studios to produce high quality audiobooks. My experience with ACX has been wonderful. I get to choose who narrates my book. I get to be involved in the editing process to ensure that the final product sounds exactly the way I want it to sound. And, just like with my self-published paperback and e-book titles, I get to retain the rights to my audiobooks. The publishing landscape continues to shift and change at speeds that make it impossible to predict what might happen in a few years, let alone the next six months. I am very grateful for any new opportunity that allows me to reach a new audience of readers while retaining full ownership of my works.
Can you tell us anything about the next book you’re working on, Wind Chime Summer? Any others in the works?
I’m super excited about Wind Chime Summer. The third book in the Wind Chime series features a female veteran struggling with PTSD, who learns to reclaim her passion for cooking (and life) on a Chesapeake Bay oyster farm.
Thanks so much for interviewing with us, Sophie!
Andrea Hurst has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. She works with both major and regional publishing houses, and her client list includes emerging new voices and New York Times best-selling authors. Andrea represents high profile Adult Nonfiction and well crafted fiction. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.
Cherise Hensley has an M.A. in English from the University of Idaho, where she taught composition courses. She graduated from Whitworth University with a B.A. in English and marketing and also has a copy editing certification from UC San Diego. She has interned with Andrea Hurst Literary Management as well as the Rock & Sling literary journal and has been involved in the production of other print media such as newspapers, magazines, and yearbooks. Cherise is a teacher, an editor, and a writer, who loves discovering new books to distract her from everyday life.