Q&A with Amber Leigh Williams
Q In what ways had being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
Q In what ways being shy or introverted helped your writing career?
A A part of the shyness goes back to my upbringing because from a young age I was really pushed by parents and grandparents to be polite. I’m a southern girl from a long line of southerners so I was taught to cultivate very ladylike behavior. I took that with me as I grew up and as I began writing. Professionalism is a huge part of my upbringing, too. I inherently knew when it was time to speak up and promote or approach an agent/editor at a conference and when to fall back and keep quiet. Not all publishers teach their authors what it is to be a professional so you see them arguing against reviewers who didn’t like their book or even editors and losing respect and, sometimes, their contracts. I felt like I knew all this early on without others having to tutor me how to behave as a professional.
Q What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
A While I love being alone and having that “me” time, sometimes the isolation can be damaging. You lose sight of what’s really happening in the world and that isn’t good. As a writer, sometimes it’s difficult to balance “your today” with “your character’s today.” It’s not good to lose touch with the people around you and what’s going on in the world and the balancing act between my writing life and my personal and family life has been a journey in and of itself.
Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?
A I’ve learned that getting outside my comfort zone leads to some of my best choices. The most extreme thing I ever did in my personal life that seemed to shock a lot of people was date someone outside of that tight circle I lived in and who was probably my polar opposite. The guy was a risk-taker whereas I never took risks with anything. He worked for a living; I was still in school. He rode a motorcycle, which were frowned upon in my home. As soon as I met him, I grew as an individual and came out of my shell. Two years later, I married him. He was also the first person to wholeheartedly encourage me to follow my dreams and begin writing full-time.
The risks I’ve taken in my writing life have been equally important. I’d never read a western romance before I came up with the concept for my first, Blackest Heart. I had also never written a novella. It turned out to be the best thing that I ever did because Blackest Heart and its two sequels – Bluest Heart and Bet It On My Heart – have been the stories and characters readers have most openly embraced. I get more fan letters from people who love the hero of Blackest Heart, silent cowboy Judd Black, than anything else. A similar experience happened more recently in the last two years when I began branching away from my comfort zone by writing paranormals. It opened up countless worlds I can’t wait to write about, and my first paranormal manuscript got me a literary agent!
Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?