*Note* Shelley's book is a bit hotter than the books I normally mention here on my blog. This one is not for the young'uns. But if you're a fan of the heat, it may be for you. (And if you like spicy, stick around after the interview, because Shelley will share one of her favorite spicy chili recipes!)
First, a little bit about Shelley's debut novel, the steamy firefighter romance, BURN ME:
Burn Me by Shelley Watters
Author: Shelley Watters
Genre: Adult Romance
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Publication Date: April 29th 2014
When Katrina Hale's brother dies in a house fire, she's determined to prove she's stronger than everyone thinks she is. But grief can do strange things to a person and Katrina knows all too well how the death of a loved one can change a person. As the romance in her current relationship fizzles, she focuses on her work and fights the undeniable attraction she has for Greyson Neal.
Firefighter Greyson Neal is the type of guy girls dream about. But Greyson isn't interested in other girls. He wants the one woman he can never have: Katrina. As the two struggle with their feelings, Kat must choose between her career and her heart, and fight to keep them both when an arsonist threatens to take it all away.
BURN ME is an adult contemporary romance with a strong mystery/suspense plot. The story follows Katrina Hale, a firefighter with the Chandler Fire Department and her battle between what her heart wants: fellow firefighter Greyson Neal, and her dream career: firefighting. Kat doesn’t need a hero, she is one. But when her worlds collide, she has to choose between her heart and her career, and battle for both when an arsonist threatens to take it all away.
What inspired this story?
Nanowrimo, plain and simple. I usually write YA, but read a LOT of romance. I wanted to spread my wings with a contemporary romance, and since I have a tiny thing for firefighters (translated HUGE), it was only natural that I chose them as my focus. I’ve always been fascinated by firefighting, and wanted to delve into their world. I made a lot of firefighter friends along the way, who inspired me to ensure my firefighting scenes were as technically accurate as possible. The result is a story that I hope will draw in both romance readers as well as mystery fans, and that ever-elusive male reader. ;)
Tell us about your journey to publication.
Over the course of my writing career, I’ve been agented twice, both of whom I parted on good terms with. After licking my wounds for nearly a year, I entered a twitter pitch contest and the fabulous Georgia McBride from Swoon Romance requested the manuscript. Later she made an offer of publication.
Do you have any rituals or habits that help you get into the writing zone?
I have to have music on or I can’t get in the zone. And unless I’m trying to squeeze some words out during daylight hours, no lights on. It helps to minimize distractions because it’s just me and my laptop.
What was the most difficult scene to cut in revisions?
There’s a funeral scene that was originally the opening to BURN ME. I loved that scene, and it was such a beautiful and sad scene and really showcased the firefighting brotherhood. But in the end it didn’t set the right pace so it had to be cut. It still shows itself in the book, but not in the whole glory it originally was.
Was there ever a time when you seriously considered giving up on writing?
Yep. After each split with an agent, I questioned my ability to write, and if I even wanted this. I took a long hiatus, but ultimately this is my passion and I always came back to it.
Do you have any advice for new writers trying to get published?
I realized on my journey that in order to make it in this industry, the most important thing (aside from writing a fabulous book) was to never, ever give up. No one is going to do this for you, no one is going to go “Hey, that manuscript in your drawer? I want to publish it.” You have to keep writing, keep putting yourself out there, keep submitting. Be patient, it takes the right combo of the right manuscript in the hands of the right agent, who puts it in the hands of the right editor to make a book a success.
Do you have any tips or advice for writers who have already been published?
Don’t forget who got you to this point: your readers.
JR Ward, Nora Roberts, Tolkien
Favorite writing fuel?
Nuts: almonds and cashews.
Favorite music to listen to while writing?
Depends on what I’m writing. At the moment it’s Lana Del Rey and Florence and the Machine.
Favorite way to unwind and recharge when you hit a writer’s block?
Oh! That's my favorite way to get over the writer's block too. I totally binge-read when I'm stuck. Thanks for chatting with me! And good luck with your book!
As promised, here is Shelley's hot chili recipe, inspired by her book. Because what goes better with firefighters than chili?
BURN ME Chili recipe:
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground Italian turkey sausage
2 cans light red kidney beans, undrained
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 medium jalapenos, diced (leave seeds and veins in if you like extra hot)
1 clove garlic
½ medium white onion, diced
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Brown the ground turkey and sausage in a skillet. Drain fat and add to crockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir. Cook covered on low for eight hours.
Shelley Watters grew up in Tucson, Arizona and currently resides Chandler, Arizona. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Sociology with a focus on Women’s Health Issues and continued on to get a Master’s certificate in Public Health Epidemiology. After serving many wonderful years in the public health sector as an Epidemiologist, she left the field to raise her family and re-discovered a long-lost passion: writing. While her days are filled with extra-curricular activities, her nights are devoted to slinging words across the page. Her novels sizzle with the heat and passion that only growing up in the southwest can bring.