Simone Leigh – Writer of intelligent, romantic steamy fiction
It is a great pleasure to welcome Simone Leigh, author of Erotic romance and Thrillers.
Hello, Simone! Before we learn more about your books and the first book in The Lover’s Children series, Winter Wedding, here are a few questions that will help your readers learn more about you and your amazing writing journey.
Paige: Why do you write (romance) and what drew you into this genre before you started writing?
Simone: In truth, I never expected to be a romance writer. It happened kind of accidentally.
Not becoming a writer, you understand. That was anything but accidental. I knew by the time I was eight, that one day I would earn my crust by writing. But specifically, an author of steamy romance? I never saw that coming.
In fact, I was no kind of writer in any professional sense until about six years ago. ‘Real Life’ got in the way right through most of my years. I did write; stories, poetry… all sorts, but I never tried to do anything serious with it until I left the UK.
I’m English you see, and like most of the English, I pursued the dream of owning my own house. I went to university, got a ‘proper job’, mortgage, got married…. all of that stuff. Later, I ran my own business, pet-friendly holiday cottages, and that was fun for a while.
And then, 2007 struck. Suddenly, everything stopped being fun and I found that, instead of being a home-owning, self-employed worker, I was a mortgage slave. I literally could not work hard enough to pay for it all. And when you start paying mortgages using your credit card, there’s something wrong.
How did we solve it? Easy. We left the UK.
So, now I live in Spain. The climate is brilliant, the people are great, and property is a fraction of the price it is in England. So, it’s easy to live well on not-a-lot.
The long and short of it all is that I was free to start writing, and I did. With the specific aim of becoming a professional (for which read, ‘paid for my work’) author, I started writing books about the thing I knew I could write about best: dogs, specifically, rescue dogs.
It was great fun, but I earned very little. At the time, I knew almost nothing about how the Amazon system works, or internet marketing, or any of that kind of thing. And I knew nothing about how to connect up with my audience; how to find my readers. So, I wrote my books, published them and then listened to the crickets.
People bought a few of my books, read my work, said how much they enjoyed it, and then moved on.
I now lived full time in Spain, but my partner was still hopping backwards and forwards to the UK, sometimes for weeks at a time. And he was complaining of being ‘lonely’ (if you get my drift….).
So, one night, I sat down and wrote him a little story, to ‘keep him company’. It was called ‘Charlotte Chastised’, and the title tells you most of what you want to know about the plot.
He loved it and asked for more. So, I wrote more.
And, in a spirit of adventure, I designed a book cover, picked a pen name, put my story up on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents and… it disappeared into a black hole. It never sold a copy. Not one.
By now, I was beginning to realise that I was missing something; that there was some expertise I needed. So, I signed up for lots of free courses on marketing, how to work with Amazon, how to make a living using the internet, and finally, issuing the Yorkshire war-cry of ‘How Much?!?’, I signed up for a paid course on ‘How It’s Done’.
It cost me five hundred bucks, but it’s been the best money I ever spent, and I’ve never regretted one cent of it.
A few weeks later, I took ‘Charlotte Chastised’ down from Amazon, rewrote it with new character names, book cover, title, and a fresh pen-name, but apart from that, using exactly the same story, and applying what I had learned, put it up on Kindle for free.
This story is now up on my backlist as ‘The Master’s Maid’, the first installment of the ‘Bought by the Billionaire’ series.
I wanted to see if anyone would download it.
Lo and behold, it downloaded by the hundreds. I was so thrilled.
Then, I wrote a follow-up: ‘The Master’s Contract.’ Again, I put it up for free. Would people who had read my first story, go on to read the sequel?
Yes, they would. And they did…
The final step: I wrote the next in the sequence, ‘The Master’s Courtesan’, and this time I put a price on it. And Hallelujah! It sold. Not, of course, by the hundreds, the way the freebies did, but in respectable enough numbers that I could call myself a paid author.
And that, Ladies and Gents, is how I became a Romance Author.
And if you would like to read the above-mentioned stories for free, I suggest that you download ‘Bought by the Billionaire’ Box Set One, where you can learn all about how ‘Charlotte’s Chastisement’ turned into Elizabeth and Richard’s steamy romance.
Paige: Have you ever attended a writer’s retreat and where? If not, what would an ideal retreat look like for you?
Simone: Not something I’ve ever done. I live in a natural ‘retreat’ anyway. The electricity and water are ‘iffy’. The internet is anyone’s guess. But the surroundings are Paradise. No need for a ‘retreat’.
Paige: What kind of work environment do you like to work in? What are some things you must have in order to stay focused and what kind of distractions bother you?
Simone: I have my own office and I need peace and quiet. No music. No distractions. Just me – and my assorted dogs and cats.
What is often not appreciated is that a lot of the time, writers look as if they’re staring into space. Okay, they are staring into space. But that’s because the writing happens off-page. Sitting in front of the keyboard is not the biggest part of it. The biggest part is having the surrounding silence to talk to your characters. And to have them talk to you.
This is my office space one day when the cats decided to help out.
And here’s a day when it was rotten weather outside, and the office staff decided to take it easy.
Paige: Do you think you can change people with your stories and how?
Simone: Short answer. Yes!
And it astonished me when it came home to me just how much we writers can help people. I regularly get letters from readers saying that my stories help them, not just for entertainment (Amen!) but in their real lives.
I hate with a passion that moment when Hollywood stars and the like stand up, saying how they feel ‘humble’. But sometimes, it’s true.
I should explain – My stories go beyond ‘steamy’. They are explicit and dwell on ‘what to do’. If you want ‘Sweet’ Romance, then it’s not for you. But people have needs, and they are not always met, for a variety of reasons.
So many people lack that certain something in their lives: divorce, death, disablement… Unfulfilled, not truly happy, they live vicariously through the stories we writers weave, the characters we bring to life in their minds.
Here’re some sample messages I have received (reproduced by permission of the originators)
“Thank you so very much for the great books, I have never been a reader until I came across one of your books. I couldn’t put it down until I finish it, and then I downloaded every book you wrote read them over and over until you released another.
My friend and I use to read them together while we were going though chemo but we lost her to lung cancer last year so I’m carry on for her. So, as I said earlier thank you so very much for the great reads”. Margaret
“Hi there. I’m new to your books but I find them amazing and once I start to read one, I can not put it down.
I am disabled but still have a very high sex drive but since I became ill my husband has not made love to me he is my full time carer, and he thinks of me as a patient not his wife.
So, I started to watch porn so I could cum, but now I only need to read one of your stories and you transport me into your book and I have not cum so much or so powerful just by reading…
Anyway thank you so much for making my life a much happier one.”
“As I sit here thinking back… counting my blessings and what I am thankful for, I have to include YOU and your fabulous stories! I am thankful to have had Charlotte, James and Michael fill so many of my free hours. They have helped rekindle the hopeful romantic in this single 55-year old’s ♥️.” Terry
Paige: Finding details for your book can be hard even if you have a whole storyline written down. Let’s talk about names. How do you find the names for your characters? Is this a difficult process for you or do you keep it simple and just go with the first name that comes to mind?
Simone: Lol! – there is a hoard of information online for such things. Any internet search along the lines of ‘Top American names’ or ‘Favourite UK baby names’, or even ‘historical names 18th Century’, will bring up a mass of free resources for name research.
Not a problem 😊
Paige: Some writers enjoy writing dialogue, and some thrive on character descriptions and settings. In your process of writing, what do you enjoy writing about the most?
Simone: For me, I think it has to be dialogue.
This is, after all, the characters speaking through me to you.
When I have my ‘quiet time’, my characters talk to me all the time. I’m positively schizophrenic when I’m in writing mode. The trick is getting it through my keyboard so it comes out on the page sounding to you as they say it to me 😊
Paige: Is writer’s block real? What do you do when it hits and how do you stay prepared?
Simone: Never had the problem. So long as I have time to think and reflect, the words come.
Paige: How difficult/easy is it for you to write characters from the opposite sex? Is it hard to get inside a man’s mind and write from his POV?
Simone: I worried about this when I first tried it. My first stories were all written from a female POV (for the avoidance of doubt, yes, I’m female).
When I first wanted to write from a male POV, I passed several chapters by a male author friend, to ask him, did it feel right to him? His answer was yes, so I carried on.
Nonetheless, I haunt online sites such as Quora and others, looking for posts asking questions like, “What does it feel like to a man when he…” (fill in the dots…)
Paige: If you could travel to any place in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Simone: I wouldn’t move. I live in Paradise.
Paige: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? What did you learn along the way?
Simone: I can’t say my first book changed my way of writing. But the on-going ‘journey’ has.
I started out by writing what came into my head. Over the years, I’ve studied the ‘craft’ of writing and storytelling. I’d like to think my stories and my writing are much better than when I began, six years ago.
For me, the hardest part of writing a story is the first phase – getting the story down. Getting the parts/scenes/logic in place so the story is told.
After that, it’s the editing process: making the words sing. Bringing the characters to life. Making the scenes, the places, the emotions more vivid, more visceral. I love that part of the creation process.
Nothing pleases me more than readers who tell me ‘I felt as if I was there.’
Paige: Name three things that you always carry in your bag.
- Phone/tablet complete with Evernote and camera, so anything that occurs to me can be jotted down and will sync with my laptop when I get home.
- Cash/bankcards/ID/passport – anything else that goes missing is an afterthought.
- Sachets of English mustard.
Paige: Imagine yourself on a deserted island. All your basic human needs are met, such as food, water and shelter. What two items would you want to have with you and why?
- It would still be my phone, complete with Evernote.
- Second item – solar powered phone charger.
Paige: And finally, how would you encourage someone to continue writing after they’ve received a rejection letter?
Simone: Go self-published. I was self-pub from Day One. And publish wide. Do not rely on the almighty Amazon to do everything for you.
You don’t have to give up your control, your income and your authority to some third party. You can do it all yourself if you are willing to learn new skills.
The old (and current) argument by trad publishers against self-pub is that ‘There are no gatekeepers.’
That’s utter rot. The gatekeepers are the readers. If you writer quality stores and take the trouble to learn marketing skills, you’ll get there.
And publish your stores everywhere you can: Nook, Apple, Kobo, Google, the new rising phone apps from Asia: China, India, Singapore and the rest.
Don’t rely on Amazon alone. They’re a great power, but they are a commercial company and will look after their own interests before yours. Don’t agree to exclusivity with any one publisher unless you have a really, really good reason to do so (like a seriously large advance payment).
And always read the contract. Be ready to argue your corner. And don’t sign it if you are not happy with it.
Thank you, Simone! It was a pleasure to chat with you.
Who’s Simone Leigh?
Although English, Simone spends much of her time in Spain.
Here, she divides her time between working on her tan, decorating her beautiful villa, writing hot romance and thrillers, and swimming naked in her swimming pool.
According to a recent internet troll, she is ‘Beyond Redemption’.
Her series, ‘The Master’s Child’ was Winner of the 2019 ‘Page Reaper’ Readers’ Choice Awards in the BDSM and Ménage categories.
Say hello and connect with Simone right here:
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Simone’s book Winter Wedding, A Steamy Winter Wedding Tale Of Romance And Friendship, is available now! And it’s FREE!
Kirstie and Ryan
They love each other…
They’ve waited for this…
They’ve worked for this…
It’s their day…
What could go wrong?
Praise for Winter Wedding
“As always you’ve done it again. Makes it feel like family. Just goes to show what true friends should be like.” Donna Henderson
“Absolutely love reading books by Simone Leigh! She grabs your attention in every page which makes you feel as if you are another character in her story. 100 stars 😊” Angie Vazquez
“Kirstie and Ryan and their wedding day, it is all hands on deck to make this special. I loved how Simone Leigh blended everyone together to make this happen. I was captivated from the first page, it was not exactly what I was expecting having read other books but I loved it all the same. This was a great story and the characters were wonderful and hopefully there will be more of these characters popping up……Loved it.” CathyLynn