The rock star always gets the girl –
Hi, I’m Sian Ceinwen and I live in Western Australia with my husband and two kids. I started writing this in the third person but it was just odd. A little bit about me, I’ve enjoyed writing all my life, getting the worlds and characters in my head down for other people to enjoy is my passion.
Writing a book wasn’t something I ever thought I could really do but inspired by a song, I aimed to do it. With a lot of coaxing from my friends for me to finish it so they could find out the ending.
I released Gabriel and Ariana’s story, The Album, on March 14th, 2020. Harrison and Heather’s story, The Wedding, came out on June 6th, 2020. Sebastian and Lita’s book, The Baby, was released on November 18th, 2020.
The first book in the companion series, Gabriel’s Album, is available for pre-order and will be released on March 14th, 2021. It’s Gabriel and Ariana’s story retold from Gabriel’s point of view.
I hope that you will fall in love with the Cruise Control world the same way that I have.
And you want to know more about Sian?
Here’s what she said to me:
- 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?
I was inspired to write this story because of the song by The All-American Rejects called “Gives You Hell”. I just loved the idea of the ordinary girl who broke the rock star’s heart and went back to her ordinary life.
I also remembered when Maroon 5’s album “Songs About Jane” came out. I used to joke, “Whoever Jane was, she really did a number on somebody.” So, again, I liked the idea of the rock star writing an entire album about his ex-girlfriend.
Each chapter is a song from the album. It tells that specific part of their relationship, which I think is a bit different. And, of course, there’s a HEA. 😉
- How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it?
- Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
I’m big on Excel spreadsheets, so I have one with writing projects in it. I’ll write down in there any ideas or inspiration that I have for future books. I’m still writing my first book series, so for now I’m set. Once I started writing The Album (which Gabriel’s Album is the companion to), I planned out the four-book series with the other three band members as the focus of each.
- How long does it take to research a topic before you write?
- And for this book?
I was big into music in my youth, so this was a pretty easy topic for me to write about. There are definitely aspects of it that I needed to research, though. I tend to write character-driven fiction, so I’ll start writing, and then research anything that I don’t know about as I go.
- What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?
It’s funny you should ask, just the other day I asked a friend how writers managed before the internet! I’m lucky to be writing in an age where we carry the entirety of mankind’s knowledge in our pocket.
At the moment, I’m writing Harrison’s Wedding, which is the second book in this series and the companion book to The Wedding. In it, Harrison gets a custom signature guitar made. Two of my friends have lots of industry knowledge, one was able to tell me all about what a guitarist would want in his dream guitar, and another was able to give me industry information on brand deals, etc.
I then spent two entire days watching YouTube videos of guitars being made, and one about St. Vincent’s signature guitar, then factory tours and the website of a guitar manufacturer, along with articles about how they’re made. It was fascinating, and hopefully no luthiers come after me for it being unrealistic when the book is published! 😉
- How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police, medics etc when you say you want to write about them?
- Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?
Again, I’m extremely lucky to have an author friend whose day job is literally being a doctor. She’s been so helpful to me. She was looking up drugs for me at her work to tell me the effects and how they’re tested for, etc.
- If you need specialist knowledge to write a book, how do you obtain it? For instance, do you interview people? Go to the location? Use Google Earth? Apps?
As an example, I wrote a novella under a pen name where the hero lived in upstate New York. Well, I’m from Western Australia and have visited New York City precisely once in my life! I did a lot of Googling to find the right town to use, how far it would be to drive from the city, what the local restaurants and attractions are like, etc.
Most places have websites, these days, which makes it easy to do research!
- Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?
At the moment, I don’t have any desire to become traditionally published. I suppose, it would be nice to have that feeling of being a “real” author. But I love self-publishing. I get to do things like publish each book on the band member’s birthday. I have control over what I want to do with my stories and don’t have to answer to anybody except my readers, which I love.
- Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?
Unfortunately, not at the moment, but I’ve only just passed my anniversary of publishing anything. So, I still work a full-time job. Even though I’m making a decent amount from writing (which I’m incredibly grateful for!), as the sole breadwinner in our house, I would need to be able to completely replace my income before I could quit my day job.
The downside to self-publishing is that I have to pay out of pocket for covers, editing, proofreading, and marketing. The upside to still having a day job is that I get to claim it all on tax, at least. Yay?
- Or what is the funniest thing that has happened to you when writing / researching a book?
Oh god, this might be too spicy, but last night I literally was Googling “male masturbation sound in shower” for my next book. I needed to know what could be heard over the sound of the shower running. I ended up searching on a *cough* different site to find out.
For those who are curious, the answer is that you probably won’t hear the sound, but you’ll hear the moaning. The more you know. 😉
- What do you read when you are ill in bed?
I’m always reading other indie authors these days. Or writing my own books/reading them back to edit them. A good romance always makes me feel better, though!
- What is your favourite genre?
Steamy contemporary romance. Hands down. I write rock stars, but I mostly read billionaires.
- If you could recommend a living author – who would it be? A dead author?
Living author would have to be Sophie Kinsella. As much as I steamy books, she’s probably my favourite author. Dead author…oooh, tough one. I still have a soft spot for Enid Blyton’s books, but that’s more in a sense of passing them on to my children.
- Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?
There’s no doubt about this one, it’s Liz Berry. When I was 10 years old, I stole my 15-year-old cousin’s library book and read it after he told me I couldn’t read it. That book was Easy Connections, and he was 100% correct that I shouldn’t have been reading it at 10! I have little doubt that it’s why I write rock stars, but it’s also why I make sure that consent is a running theme in my books. There’s nothing sexier than enthusiastic consent!
- In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?
Ooooh, if you haven’t read anything by Missy Johnson, check her out. Her books are absolutely hysterical.
- Have you ever tried to imitate another author’s style? And if so, why?
No. Not at all. No idea is new, of course, but I would never try to purposely imitate someone else’s style of writing. I think that would be far more difficult than writing what feels natural and comfortable to me.
- What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?
Sadly, my parents’ house burned down during a bushfire in 2014, so we lost everything. The only memories I have from my childhood are things that I happened to have been given and were at my house before our family home burned down.
- Do you have any pets?
Sadly, no! I used to have two Burmese cats named Sirius and Remus, but they both passed away a few years ago. We do plan to get pets when we move into a new house. Our current place isn’t set up for pets.
- Which of your books / series are you most proud of?
I only have the one series, and I love it so much. I can’t wait until the final book in the series comes out in October and everyone can see how it all ties together. The book I’m the most proud of is probably The Wedding. I think it’s the book that has the most raw emotion and I love it.
- What, in your life, are you most proud of doing?
Aside from my boys, it’s definitely writing my books. As much as it’s easy for me to write a book, I’m aware that it’s not something that a lot of people can do. Nothing makes me happier than getting feedback from readers and hearing how my books have made them feel something. To have people connect with my writing is a beautiful thing.
- Which is your favourite place to visit? Do you incorporate it into your books?
I like to visit my friends in the US, and I set my books there. During the pandemic, I’ve been travelling only within Western Australia, and it’s been nice to visit places I’ve taken for granted. I went to Margaret River for the first time ever, and it’s amazing…I can see why everyone raves about it! 😉
- If you could be any fictional character, which would you be? And why?
Captain Marvel, definitely. She’s the strongest Avenger, and totally badass.
- If you could choose to live in another country/town – which would you choose? And why?
My initial instinct is that I love Perth and would never want to live anywhere else…BUT I absolutely love the snow and skiing. So, if I could l live anywhere else, it would be in a ski resort somewhere like New Zealand, or Switzerland, or Canada.
- What would you take on a desert island to read if you could only take 3 books?
Ah, the joy of being a writer. It doesn’t matter which 3 books I take, because I can write stories in my head to keep myself entertained. It’s often how I get myself to sleep, by playing out scenes with my characters in my head.
However, I would definitely take “Can You Keep A Secret?” by Sophie Kinsella. I’m not sure what other books I would choose. I read lots of books in series, and I’d hate to have one of a series and not the others. So, I’d probably pick two random (hopefully long) steamy contemporary romances, then keep myself entertained otherwise.
- Do you people watch to find characters for your books? How do you do this?
Really, it’s more about observing people in general and how they interact with one another. I write about friendships, so I just think about how people talk and act with their friends.
I often joke that if I like you, your name will end up in one of my books. The only person who I asked for permission to use their name was my friend Cal, because I wanted to use his first and last name for the character because he’s got a cool name.
- What music – if any – do you think inspires you to write? Is it different for each novel or the same?
I make a playlist for each book. I start out by picking songs that I think will fit the theme and vibe of the book, then I’ll let Spotify play music based on that playlist. As I find songs that I feel fit the playlist, I’ll add them to it.
- Do you write at home or away from home? If at home, what does your space look like? Are you a tidy person?
- If away from home – where and why?
I write anywhere and everywhere. My friend got me into using Google Docs, so I’m able to write on my phone when I’m out. Otherwise, I’ll often use my laptop in bed or on the PC in our computer room. I write as often as I can, only my lunch break at work, I take my laptop into an empty meeting room, set a timer for half an hour, and write like mad.
- Do you keep a timeline and character traits pinned up on your wall? On post-its?
- If not how do you remember important items about your characters like height, weight, colouring, likes and dislikes etc?
As I said, I’m big on Excel spreadsheets, so I actually have a spreadsheet with the entire Cruise Control series mapped out. I like Excel because I can use formulas to get exact dates. I have a timeline of their lives over a fifteen year timespan from when they first met as teens through to when the last book ends.
- Were you inspired by any folk stories? If so which ones? And what was it about them that inspired you?
Only in the sense that I’m sure that reading them as a child inspired my love of storytelling and reading. I’ve just always loved spending time in book worlds.
- Should monsters /criminals be given a second chance? Can they be reformed? What is the best type of prison for them? (you can include paranormals here)
This is a tough question. I do believe that crimes have punishments and when people have done the time, they shouldn’t be punished further. I do believe people can change; however, some crimes are so heinous that you can’t imagine the person should ever be let loose on society again.
- Who is your favourite pirate and why?
Ugggggh, I hate myself but I’m going to say Jack Sparrow. Probably just in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was an epic performance.
- Do you enjoy sailing? On a lake or the sea?
- And what about tall masted ships- are they better than engines or?
I don’t hate it, but I’m not really a boat person. I’ll go out on a boat, and I love to swim, but I’m not so into boats that I have a personal preference about them!
- Has the pandemic inspired you with any new stories to write? If so, what is the story premise?
I made the choice not to include the pandemic in my books. I don’t know if that was unwise or not but I’d already started The Wedding, which begins on June 6th 2020, in January before we knew that it would turn into a pandemic! I like that people can escape reality into my books where the pandemic doesn’t exist.
- How many books did you write during Covid19/Lockdown?
I wrote four books, two novellas, and an accidental reverse harem last year! I definitely used writing as a way to escape.
- If you were asked to write a family saga which century would you place it in?
I’d almost certainly write it as a contemporary because it’s what I enjoy. It would be about some impossibly wealthy family and their trials and tribulations. Someone would get shot, and we wouldn’t know who did it until book three. I’m just spitballing here. 😉
- What about turning your best seller into a film or TV series – would you want to write the script or be on the production team?
I’m not a scriptwriter, so I wouldn’t want to write the script, but I would absolutely want to be involved in the production. I don’t know, I’ve just seen so many book to movie/TV adaptions that I’ve hated because they lost the essence of things that were important to the story and added things that weren’t.
- What about ‘snark’? is it good or bad?
Snark is amazing. I don’t think every character should be snarky, but there should be someone with some balls to speak up.
- Is it easy to write humour?
I think so. I basically just write the jokes and comments that I would make with my friends. I wrote something the other day that had me giggling for ages. It was Harrison making a joke that Gabriel would get a signature hair tie for his man bun. I’m giggling again, now. I guess you had to be there.
- How many of the accidents – funny or otherwise, or bad experiences in your stories are based on your own experiences? Or those of your friends?
Oooooh, I draw on my personal experiences a lot. On a lighter level, I give my characters some of my favourite foods to eat and activities to do.
On a deeper level, I definitely draw on bad experiences, as well. In one of the books, something happens that’s quite traumatic, and the character turns to alcohol to cope until they get help and are able to find healthier coping mechanisms to deal with it. That’s definitely something that I did in my past, and no, it wasn’t healthy for either me or the character!
- How easy is it to write a good sex scene? And do you have to have experienced these things do you think, to write about them successfully?
Ooooh, another good question. I hope my sex scenes are good! I think they’re pretty easy to write, and sometimes I think it’s better to have experienced things to know how they actually feel. I’ve read a lot of super unrealistic and cringy sex scenes before.
Something I see a lot are BDSM portrayals that come across as though the person has no real experience with it. If consent is key in vanilla relationships, it’s even more key in BDSM relationships. I think that’s definitely one sex aspect where it’s easy for people to write something that’s cliché and not even close to what it’s like in reality.
I should clarify that I left BDSM (mostly) out of my main series, but have definitely got it in my reverse harem. 😉
- A challenge: Write 500 or more words including in it at least two of the following statements and 1 of the words.
- If my cat could talk it would say I was a …
- Feed me now or forever clear up when I poop in your shoe
- Pink? I am a tutu wearing cat but never pink!
- May your fur be rainbow coloured and your tail a feather
It’s been a long day at work, and I’m tired. I drive home in rush hour traffic, almost getting killed fifteen times on the way by people who want to lane hop. When I finally get to my house, I pull into the garage, turn off the car and drop my head on the steering wheel.
I jump in fright as the car horn sounds, echoing loudly around the garage. I sigh loudly, and get out of the car. As I reach the door to the house, I hear the sounds of meowing and scratching, and I smile.
“Hello, babies,” I say as I greet my cats.
Humpthingalong and Poopalicious, or Humpy and Poopoo, were named by my niece and nephew. Life pro tip: Don’t let children name your pets. Especially if one is young enough to still think poop jokes are funny, and the other is old enough to think sex jokes are funny.
I make my way to my bedroom with Humpy and Poopoo following me, talking to me as they do. I drop my bag in the closet, strip off my work clothes and bra, then put on a pair of sweats.
Poopoo is glaring at me while meowing loudly, and I know exactly what he’s saying. “Feed me now or forever clear up when I poop in your shoe.”
“Okay, Poops. I’ll get you both some dinner.”
They trail behind me as I head to the laundry where I get their cat food out of the cupboard. The meowing intensifies as I open the container and put a scoop into each of their bowls.
“Play nicely, boys,” I warn them as I put the food away.
Humpy has a habit of scarfing down his food, then eating Poopoo’s before he has a chance to finish it.
I head to the kitchen and pull out some chicken to cook for dinner. I grill the chicken and make a salad to go with it, putting the leftovers in containers to take to work for lunch tomorrow. I’m sitting at the table eating my meal when Humpy appears. He sits at my feet and meows at me to pick him up.
“I’m eating my dinner, Humpy. I’ll give you pats afterward.”
He meows again and I look down at him. If my cat could talk, he would say that I was a cruel person who doesn’t give him enough food or love. I feel guilty for leaving them at home while I was at work all day, so I scoot my chair back and allow him to jump onto my lap. I eat around him while he rubs his face against my arms.
“I love you, too.” I grin down at him.
When I finish eating, I encourage Humpy to hop off my lap before I take my dishes to the kitchen. I rinse them off before stacking them in the dishwasher and heading to the lounge room to watch TV.
I lay on the sofa and put a show in Netflix. It isn’t long before both cats are sitting on me and purring loudly as I pet them while I watch the show. I can feel myself relaxing with the comfort of my kitties, and I couldn’t be happier to spend the evening in their company.
(Side note: I really missing having cats, now!)
If you could be an animal which animal would you be? Give three reasons. You may NOT choose to be a dog or a cat.
I would be a dolphin. They’re wildly intelligent, and I love the water, so I’d be happy to live in the water!
- How many ‘packs’ should a hero have? Are 8 too many and what might a character lick off them? Why?
Hmmmmm, I like a 6-pack. Super muscly bodybuilder types are too much for me, but a sportsman with an 8-pack is fine.
Lick off them? Anything, really. Whipped cream is a classic for a reason!
- What music inspires you? And which instrument is best for which scenes?
Any type of music can inspire me, depending on the mood I’m going for, and the lyrics in the song. Obviously quieter more serious scenes require quieter and more serious music. I do love songs with mostly piano, it’s my favourite instrument.
50. There are supposedly a number of character arcs. I have listed some archetypes and some characters below as examples. Which of these following do you use most? Why? And do you have any to add? And which book would we find them in?
· Black Panther.
· Iron Man.
· Emma Woodhouse
· Elisa Esposito.
· Ebeneezer Scrooge.
· Bridget Jones.
I would say that I use Maturity and Alteration the most, but I have used Decline for part of one of the books. My favourite character arc over the series is Sebastian’s. I love that if you went straight from The Album to The Baby, you couldn’t imagine him as ever being the type of guy to fall in love with someone. You have to read The Wedding to see him as this amazing person who does love his friends very deeply in order to get it.
Well, that’s the last question. Thanks so much for interviewing me, I had a blast! 😊