Give me a brief summary of your life till now (education, work, friends, etc.) and how it led you to write.
I earned a degree in English in Britain before moving to the States. My mother is white, and my father is African. He’s retired military, so we spent a while moving from one country to another. I’ve lived in a range of places including Ghana, France, Portugal, the Middle East (for a short time) and Asia, before finally settling down during my school/college years in the south of England. We ended up in Ohio shortly after that, and I moved to California ten years ago. So, traveling and culture has been something of a mainstay for me!
I’ve had a variety of jobs. I worked retail for most of my time in college (and grew to hate it, 😆) and have had a series of office jobs, including as a subeditor for two magazines which are now defunct.
What attracted you to writing romance? Are there other genres that interest you?
In a wider sense, I think fiction helps us understand more about ourselves, whether it’s through film or TV or theater. The main question of “Why are we here?” is the single most inexplicable question we pose as human beings. What’s our sense of purpose? Most believe that since we can’t answer that question to any degree of satisfaction, then we may as well just enjoy ourselves while we’re on this planet. I subscribe to that notion 100%. I think, therefore, if the key to living life to the fullest is developing strong relationships to others (whether it’s romantic or platonic), then that goes some way to explaining our lives and desires. So, it comes as no surprise probably that romance intrigues me. Why do we fall in love? More importantly, how do we know we’ve found love when we think we’ve found it?
I find that absolutely fascinating.
For example, for anyone reading this who is in a relationship — can I ask: are you really in love with your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend? If so, how do you quantify that? I’m a firm believer that love might not exist, and that it’s not a singular thing at all. It’s a fusion of respect, kindness, and likability. So, in that respect, love isn’t a thing. I’m keen to explore the issue of love and how people react to it. I like the idea that love is an amalgam of a few things forming one massive feeling. If we can like someone, and then not like them, then surely it follows that we can love, and then not love. Or fall out of love.
Discovering that love doesn’t exist sound alarming, but if you give it more than twelve seconds it’s actually kind of reassuring, and it takes the pressure off, and we can have more fun with life.
Outside of romance, I do enjoy a good thriller, I must admit.
All your stories are based on people you know. Do you plan to write stories with characters you create from scratch? Will you be writing longer stories or novels?
So far, they’ve been based on real-life events and characters. If you read the author notes at the end of each book, you’ll see the genesis of each story. Of course, they’re based on true stories and characters, but I retain the right to use a certain artistic license for them (in other words, I change the material to suit my needs). Each character is a fusion of people I’ve known — in some cases they’re me! — and so in that respect, they’re their own character. I’m new to the author thing at the moment, so it’ll be shorts for the time being until I can establish myself as a writer and see what the appetite and demand are for my work.
You’re from England but base your stories in California. Do you plan to author stories grounded in other locations? If so, where?
Accent-wise and constructively speaking, I guess you can say I’m from England. I wasn’t born there, though, and only spent about twelve years growing up there. I love California. It’s where I live with my husband, and I can’t see myself moving any time soon. I’m sure future works will be based in other countries and cities. But for the time being — and at least for the Love Languages series — they will be set in the fictional town of Anywhere (which is more of a prophetic setting rather than me trying to be all clever).
How do you research your stories? I know you base them on people you know, but it’s clear you did research as well.
I guess it’s two things. One, the stories and adventures from my life, and two, the tropes and structures from other published works in media. I’m a firm believer in trusting yourself as a writer. And also write what you want to write, as it gives you that extra edge.
What’s your writing routine? Do you have a dedicated office, or do you write at the kitchen table? Do you write longhand or type everything? Do you outline your stories or let the characters take you where they want to go?
So far, I write on my laptop. Sometimes it’s at home — if my husband is away. Other times, I might use the wifi at the coffee store, plug in my earphones, and type away. I’ve had a few people peer over and read what I’m writing at the coffee store. If you’re one of those people, please don’t do it. It’s very off-putting 😆. I always type everything, and as long as I have a decent starting point and end point, I’m usually good to go. I try not to outline every little thing because then I’ll feel as if I must stick to it, and if I think of something better, I won’t use it. I can’t do that to my readership — or myself.
Do your characters speak to you? Do they tell you to go in a different direction than you’d planned?
Yes, for the reason I outlined above. There have been a few occasions where I thought a book would go one way, but then it took a totally different direction. My fifth book, Valentine’s Day, had a different ending which I completely rewrote. I won’t spoil it, but the original ending — inspired by the truth — was a bit meh. I reread it, and thought “No, this is no good,” and invented the new ending.
What writers do you admire, past or present?
I’m a fan of Danielle Steel and Margaret Atwood – two names that jump out immediately. Also, Jane Austen and Janet Evanovich.
What’s your next project? What’s the timeline?
The sixth book in the Love Languages series — Mia Culpa. It’s a bit grittier than the five previous entries, and the lead character – Mia (duh!) – is faced with a dilemma, as she’s dating two guys. One of them is going to be overjoyed, and the other is heartbroken, and it really focuses on her conscience over the whole shambles she’s gotten herself into.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like least?
The best thing about being a writer is that I’m my own boss. The worst thing about being a writer is that I’m my own boss. For example, if I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, all I have to do is say “Oh, Wendy, is it okay if I have another hour in bed?” and Wendy will say, “Yeah, go on, that’s fine.” I’ve had many bosses in my lifetime, but I’ve discovered that the most demanding and unfair boss is me. Honestly, I’m such a bitch sometimes. None of my other bosses have gotten under my skin. I usually mutter something unkind under my breath and walk away. But this new boss – me – I can’t escape her. If I don’t do what we agreed, she’s hanging around me like a bad smell. She can get under my skin and push me into a depression. So, it’s always a good idea to keep Wendy the Boss happy, otherwise …
What little personal quirk would you like to reveal to your readers?
I am beyond shy. I’m not writing for fame. The money is nice, but my chief motivator is to tell great stories – and it’s always nice to have people get in touch and tell me how they’ve enjoyed my books. I think this is the ideal route for me from now on, career-wise. I am in full control and can let out as much information about myself as I want.
Contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org