Aimee O’Brian, author of Steal My Heart, a hot, contemporary romance with elements of mystery and suspense
- Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?
Steal My Heart has been percolating in the back of my mind for years. What might happen when a woman plans to act out her sex-with-a-cat-burglar fantasy with her new boyfriend? What if her plans were to go awry in a deliciously naughty way? I never thought I’d be brazen enough to write this novel, but the boldness of my protagonist drew me in. I’ve always had a strong first-person voice and decided to showcase that by writing a hot, fast-paced, contemporary romance with a heroine who knows what she wants, isn’t afraid to admit it and is willing—at least to herself—to own her mistakes.
- How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
I don’t know how many times I’ve been rejected, but it’s a lot, so I choose not to count them. Those rejections taught me to be a better writer and to have a tough skin. I started seriously writing in 2011 and joined Romance Writers of America a year later. That’s where I really learned my craft and made the contacts I needed to begin submitting. I went from form rejections, to the occasional encouraging note, to personalized feedback. Overall the agents and editors who rejected my work were generous in their comments, and it made at tremendous difference. I finished four novels over eight years—not counting partial and abandoned manuscripts. Steal My Heart is my fourth completed novel and the first to be published.
- Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?
Knowing I needed affirmation that my work was ready for publication, I chose not to self-publish. Each rejection was the impetus I needed to get better. Entering contests also provided valuable feedback. I never ruled out self-publishing, but I didn’t want to put my work out there before it was ready. Once accepted, this book went through three rounds of edits: developmental, copy-editing and proofreading. I’m grateful for the expertise of my publisher and editors, who not only made the story better and me a better writer, but caught mistakes I missed. One such mistake was assuming the signature of an artist I referenced was legible. The copywriter of her own initiative looked up the signature and let me know that my characters wouldn’t be able to read it off a painting. This required I rewrite the dialogue in that scene for accuracy. So to the writer considering self-publishing, I’d advise investing in professional editing. I know my book is much improved because of it.
- What do you read when you are ill in bed?
When I’m ill and don’t want to think too hard but want immediate gratification and distraction, I go straight for smart, sassy heroines in pretty dresses. For me, this usually translates into a historical romance.
- What is your favourite genre?
I read primarily romance. It’s what I want to write, so I immerse myself in all its subgenres: contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, and paranormal. I enjoy its many heat levels, everything from sweet to hot. I’ve been known to veer off into science fiction and mystery, but still crave that happily ever after.
- What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?
I love perusing my college papers. I was so smart. Sometimes I wonder at the vocabulary I used. I was quite the literary writer. But the ability to write a superlative essay does not translate to commercial fiction. I was quite stunned at how difficult it was to write a romance. Romance writers make it look easy. The easier a story is to read, the harder it is to write. What did translate from school was the drive to write well. University classes taught me to work hard and to work on deadline.
- Do you have an unusual hobby?
I don’t how unusual it is, but I love visiting museums. I can get lost, literally, in a museum for hours. I recently visited the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and had to leave after three hours. It was heart-breaking. I could’ve spent days there.
I also really like being on the water. Every time I go on vacation, I find myself on a boat. I love harbor cruises and ferry rides. And windy days on the water are the best!
My website http://www.aimeeobrian.com/ is a testament to both of these activities.
Having lived in both California and Texas, Aimee O’Brian now resides in the beautiful wine country. With her three children grown and experiencing their own adventures, she and her husband are free to explore the world. When she’s not reading, writing, or planting even more perennials in her garden, she can be found stomping through ancient ruins and getting lost in museums.