Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Today's post has been a while in the making. If you have read any of my book reviews, you will know this author. A.M. Westerling sent me a book back in 2018; that was the first book I got from her. Since then I have received all of her books and loved each one. So for today's post, I am going to be sharing an interview I had with her. Now, this interview is not your typical sit-and-ask questions as we live in different cities, but rather I emailed a list of questions to her and she simply sent me her responses back. Enjoy!!
1. Introduce Yourself:
I’m A.M.Westerling and I write historical romance although I am currently working on a contemporary cowboy Christmas romance just to stretch my writing wings. I’m married and we have two wonderful sons, two gorgeous daughters-in-law, and an adorable granddaughter. Oh, and two grand dogs, both rescues. I live in Calgary which is a beautiful city close to the Rocky Mountains known, among other things, for its Calgary Stampede and chinooks in the winter! I love spending time outdoors whether it’s going for a walk, working in my garden, or camping. I’m an avid fan of the Calgary Flames and Calgary Stampeders. Add that to my list of being outside, I’m a long-time Stampeders season ticket holder and nothing beats sitting in the stands with a beer and a hotdog watching my team play.
2. What made you decide to be a writer?
I have to admit I never had this burning desire to be a writer, it just sort of happened. I’d read one too many lousy books and thought I could do better. You don’t know if you don’t try!
3. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
The flexibility. I can write when I want, where I want (laptop!!) and how often I want. I also enjoy doing research as history is fascinating. Finally, I love the world building and using my imagination. I know I’ve done my job when the characters take over and the book writes itself.
4. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
In my previous work life, I was a chemical engineer in Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
5. What is your favorite childhood book?
I can’t remember the author but the title was Riding Horse Summer. I also enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
6. How do you select the names for your characters?
Ah, the internet is a wonderful thing. Over the years I’ve collected pages with Viking names, medieval names, and Regency names. I pick the ones I like.
7. What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I’ve acquired a number of general history reference books that I use i.e. books on the English language, castles, furniture, and clothing through the centuries, and of course, you can find a lot of things online. I try and stay away from Wikipedia. How long I spend on research depends on the book. For example, Barkerville Beginnings, Book 4 of BWL Publishing’s Canadian Historical Brides series required a lot as it had to be historically accurate. So perhaps two weeks altogether? I’d say I usually spend a couple of afternoons thumbing through and reading snippets of reference material before I start. I highlight and print sections that I think I’ll need and that goes in my manuscript file folder for future reference. As an author of historical romance, I have to remember that I’m not writing history books, I’m writing romance. It’s my job to provide just enough details to make my reader feel as if they’re living in that era.
8. How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
It didn’t. 😊
9. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
No, although I don’t read much as I don’t want it interfering with my voice.
10. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yeah, I think it can happen although I’ve never really had to deal with it. Sometimes I’ve sat down at the keyboard and stared at the blank page but when I review the previous chapter or pages that I’ve written, that’s usually enough to get me going. My characters will nudge me in the right direction if I’ve developed them properly. As far as starting a book from scratch, I always have one scene in mind that I start with. Sometimes it’s the opening scene as in Barkerville Beginnings when Rose realizes she has to leave Victoria, or sometimes it’s halfway through the book, as in the slave auction in my Viking romance, A Heart Enslaved.
11. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have one completed manuscript, the first book I ever wrote. It’s now on rewrite number 3 but I doubt it’ll ever get to print. Honestly, I cringe when I think I subbed it to several editors! I also have a half-finished Viking romance that’s set in L’Anse aux Meadows. That one required a lot of research and I am in awe of how resilient those early Vikings were.
12. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or good ones?
Of course, I read my reviews! If they’re good, I walk around the rest of the day with a smile on my face. Nothing beats a good review from someone you don’t know and it makes all those hours at the keyboard worthwhile. As far as the bad ones, I look at what is said and take note if someone else has made the same comment. If so, it’s obviously something I need to work on. But at the end of the day, a bad review is just one person’s opinion. I don’t like everything I read either!
13. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
14. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written eight novels and two novellas. Gosh, hard to pick a favourite but there are a couple I’m particularly proud of. Barkerville Beginnings for one as I loved my heroine Rose, a single mom in a time when having children out of wedlock was frowned on. The other would be A Heart Enslaved as I think I did a good job depicting the Viking era and the struggle between my Christian heroine and my pagan hero.
15. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?
Robert McTague, the red-headed, bearded Scot from Barkerville Beginnings. He is the gold mining partner of my hero, Harrison. The partnership is short-lived as Robert returns to Scotland to deal with a family matter. I like to think he encountered a few adventures on his return.
16. What is your kryptonite as a writer?
Social media. I need to do it to promote myself but it’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole. Then there’s the internet which I think I’ve mentioned earlier in this interview….. LOL
17. Do you play music while you write -and if so, what’s your favorite?
No, I like the house to be quiet. However, if there’s a Flames game or an NFL game, I’ll have it on in the background.
18. What book (or books) are you currently reading?
I’m reading Saturday’s Child by Rosemary Morris, a fellow BWL Publishing author. Next up is a book a reader recommended to me, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Yikes, that one looks long!
19. As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?
Hmmm. Sorry, drawing a blank on that one.
20. What made you choose BWL to publish your books?
They chose me, actually! The publisher wanted to take on a local Canadian author and somehow found my website. They’re a fabulous publisher to write for, very supportive of their authors, and very open to what I want to write. I particularly love that BWL is a small, independent multi-genre Canadian publisher.
21. What advice would you give someone wanting to be a writer?
Sit down and start writing! Find a local writer’s group to hang out with, take a few online courses to hone your craft, and just keep typing.
22. Do you have any new books coming out?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m working on a contemporary cowboy romance novella, tentatively titled Candy Cane Kisses, that will be part of, “A Cowboy This Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology." That will be coming out in October 2023. Once I finish that, I’ll get back to the Viking romance in L’Anse aux Meadows as BWL has expressed an interest in it. I won’t have that finished until sometime next year so it will be a while before it comes out. I also have a few scenes sketched out for another Regency-era romance but that one is still a twinkle in my eye, as the saying goes. 😉
Books by A.M. Westerling
(These are the reviews that I did)
I can't wait to read the next books from A.M. Westerling. Hopefully one day I can actually meet her in person :)
Find A.M. Westerling on Facebook
Find A.M. Westerling on BWL Publishing