Ask the Author: Janet Walden-West
What would you like readers to know about you?
I split my time between being a weird dog show chick, family, and dreaming up kissing books. Sometimes kissing books set in the real world, sometimes kissing books with chupacabras, but always featuring boss-girl heroines.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
I pitched SALT+STILETTOS as Top Chef meets Sweet Home Alabama with a stubborn, publicity-phobic American Samoan chef breaking into the South Beach fine dining scene, and a determined image consultant hired on a deadline to turn him into a star. And there are certainly plenty of cutthroat foodie moments, culture clashes, and bonding over Spam. However, it’s also about dealing with body image issues, trying to protect privacy in a world more and more dominated by a nothing-is-off-limits mentality, and defying poverty and society’s expectations.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
Reality food shows. Fashion. The media’s conception of what is and isn’t a permissible body type. How food represents culture and community.
Mostly though, I wanted readers often shoved to the margins to see themselves on the page, and as the heroes and heroines.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Brett and Will were a lot of fun to write, especially the early tension since they are very much opposites in personality and goals. That made for lots of sparks as they clashed.
My favorite scene came later in their story though. Over a wardrobe fitting gone wrong, both realize their first assumptions about the other were dead wrong. Will feels comfortable enough to share his anxieties with Brett, a moment that allows her to trust him with her own past.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Unlike many authors, I can’t say I always dreamed of being a writer. I was always an avid reader, and even as a kid, could happily spend summer vacation getting lost in books. But to me, authors were these mythic creatures on a pedestal. I didn’t actually begin writing until about ten years ago. However, the list of books I loved and writers I admire is never ending—I think Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydian and Jane Yolan’s Pit Dragon Trilogy were the first fantasy books I read, and are responsible for my falling in love with the genre. Later, Terri Windling, Emma Bull, and Charles de Lint’s Borderland universe was my introduction to Urban Fantasy. And of course, I always loved stories with romantic elements, especially a complicated, slow burn romance.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Go for it. Seriously—don’t be afraid, don’t wait for some mythical point where you have more free time or the perfect marketable idea—never self-reject.
The best technical advice I can give is to join the writing community, whether it be online or in person. Ask questions, read writing blogs and craft books, share your work with critique partners, and embrace revisions.
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