Hello everyone! I’m Isabel Curtis, and I’m a 25 year old indie author. I started my writing career as a YA writer, but now I also write New Adult/Contemporary Romance books. I’ve spent my life mostly traveling, and reading, and during the past few years I’ve turned my passion for writing into an almost full-time job.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is called “Unexpected Love” and it’s the first installment in the “Unexpected” series. It’s a contemporary romance which features Olly, a college student, and Daniel, a lawyer: they fall (unexpectedly) in love but at some point life gets in the way and… you have to read the book to learn how it ends.
What do you have coming out in the future?
I have a few YA novels I plan on publishing in late 2016, yet right now I’m more focused on the new adult genre, so I’m writing a prequel and a sequel to the “Unexpected Love” book I published in September 2015. I also have a stand alone novel I plan on publishing in a year or so.
Is your book a stand-alone or a series?
The new adult contemporary romance book “Unexpected Love” is part of a series, called “Unexpected”, and I plan on having at least other four books in the series publishing within the next few months.
Why romance and what makes your particular brand of romance special?
I started reading lots of contemporary romances a while ago and I’ve been intrigued by this genre and style ever since. I began thinking of a story line which fit perfectly in this genre and I thought I’d give it a try. I like to take on new adventures and challenges. I already have the whole “Unexpected” series sort of outlined (there will seven books in total) and a new series called “The Interpreter” which I hope to get started in 2016. Both series feature very interesting characters that I try develop in a clear and sincere way throughout the whole narration, and the readers can truly relate to some big life choices they make, and even though the good guy might sometimes, in the end, turn out to be not so good it’s pretty easy for the reader to identify himself/herself with the character… which makes it harder to hate him. My books are not just romantic stories, I try to given them a more meaningful message that can be passed on.
Is romance the only genre that you write in or do you write in other genres? If so what other genres do you write in?
No, I began my writing career as a young adult author and I have published a YA coming-of-age book called “Before Life Happened” which is part of the “Before” series. I plan on writing both genres for a very long time, since I have lots of stories ready to be written both in the YA and NA romance genre.
Olly Biel decided long ago that love was just not in her plans, College was her only priority and nothing (and no one) was going to change that. There was no time for a relationship. That is, until Daniel Kingston came along and unexpectedly made her question everything she knew. But Daniel has a past, and it's about to catch up. Will he break her heart in the end?
Actually, anything can sort of trigger my imagination and lead me to create characters/stories in my head: a movie, a song, a poem, a book, an image…. As soon as the slightest plot idea is growing in my mind I let my inspiration take over and before I know it the whole book is coming to life.
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
Sometimes I find myself writing about “personal” experiences (in terms of dialogues or scenarios or places) I’ve actually lived or that have really taken place, but that’s a very minor part that influences my writing. In most cases it’s just pure imagination.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I translate, I run a blog, I read, I market my books, I travel, I take my dog out for a walk, I do lots of things. But no matter what I do, I’m always thinking about writing.
What was your road to publishing like? Tell us about it.
I decided to self-publish right away: I’ve never wasted my time looking for an agent or a publisher, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try that in the future. But I like the idea of self-publishing, doing your own marketing/promotion, choosing your own cover, having a closer relationship with the readers… It’s a pretty interesting world and I like it, plus it’s not that hard nowadays to self-publish (there are many platforms out there that make the process pretty smooth and easy). It’s all just a matter of marketing and promotion.
So once my first book was finished, I hired a professional proofreader and editor. In the mean time I created the book cover, I put online my author website, built a Facebook page and my twitter account along with some other social media networks to promote my books (ie. Goodreads) and within a month the book was available on most online stores. The initial promotion came from a Goodreads giveaway I started to promote the launch of my book, and the feedbacks were great!
How did you come up with the title of your book?
Strangely enough, titles come pretty easy to me. The fil rouge of the “Unexpected” series is - as you can imagine - having to face unexpected events. So in each book the protagonists find themselves experiencing surprising and unforeseen situations that lead to certain outcomes that they had not anticipated. “Unexpected Love” is all about Olly (the main character) who falls in love when she least expects it… but nothing ever goes the way we plan, after all. I’m enjoying writing this series because I get to create interesting plot twists which leave the reader always wondering what will happen next.
Do you read romance or do you prefer other genres?
I’ve started reading lots of romance at the beginning of last year, and I really enjoy it. Although I am also a big fan of coming-of-age YA novels and the dystopian genre.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Writer’s Block, for sure. Sometimes I know what I want to write, I just seem to lack the words. I know where I want to go, but I don’t know how to get there and it gets frustrating. I find myself wasting so much time just staring at the blank page, writing then deleting, writing some more and then deleting again. It can go on for days.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
I guess the easy part for me, for now, has been never running out of ideas for a new story. I’ve heard about writers who at some point in their career are stuck because they don’t know what they are going to write next, or what they want to work on because they have no inspiration. Fortunately, I’m never out of inspiration and ideas so that makes it easier to start a new project right away as soon as I’m finished with one. I think it’s very important for a writer to write, write, and write. Either if it’s just a blog post or a short random chapter. As long as if you have your inspiration by your side, you’re doing well.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
I don’t do the chapter-by-chapter outline strategy that some writers seem to love. I’ve tried that but it just isn’t for me. I usually just sit at my computer and let the words flow on their own. I might start a dialogue between two characters not having the slightest idea of where that’s going to take me, and I like it.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
It all began a few years ago, when I started have serious plot ideas for a book and I felt the need to start writing some scenes down. Then at some point I realized that my “ideas” could really turn into a full-length novel, so I said “why not?”. I started writing the whole book during my free evenings, and whenever I could take a break from my freelancing job (I used to be a full time translator). I felt like I had so much to say, and I decided that I didn’t want to keep it all to myself anymore.
What is your favorite quote?
Oh, there are so many I’m having a hard time choosing just one. It depends I guess on my mood, but right now there’s a quote by Sophocles that’s popping into mind:
“I have no desire to suffer twice, in reality and then in retrospect."— Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
Do you have any advice for other writers and what is it?
First of all, I’d say: read a lot. Read books from authors who write the same genre as you, books like the one you plan on writing, and even other types of books. Just read.
Get a website, a Goodreads page, a Twitter account and a Tumblr blog.
Then, DO hire a professional proofreader/editor to help you with any typos or grammar errors you might have missed, readers hate that kind of stuff and might influence their reviews.
But in the end the best advice I feel like giving is just this one: write, and do it for yourself. If you feel that’s your vocation, don’t give up.
Wild Card Question.
As an author, what is the one question that you wish people would ask you, but no one ever has and what would your answer be to that question?
Why did you decide to publish under a pen name?
This is a pretty interesting question, I would sort of have to psychoanalyze myself and try to figure out why I don’t want people to know who is the real person behind the books I write. I’m about to give you a pretty complicated and messed up answer, so I apologize from the beginning if you won’t be able to follow my train of thought. Just know that it makes total sense to me.
Truth is, no one in my family knows about this passion of mine and when I started writing I never told anyone that this was what I really wanted to do. I guess time passed and it became harder to let them know about my “parallel life”. They just think I sit at my computer all day working… they just don’t really know what I work on. Creativity never really blossomed in my house, so I grew up believing that writing could never be regarded as a “job”.
Writing shows so much about the author: his/her most deepest thoughts, fears, ideas, personality… writers put so much meaning into their words that it makes them so raw and open, and vulnerable… and this scares me. If strangers read my thoughts, that’s okay because to them I’m just a writer, someone they do not know. When I read, I barely take into consideration the author, I care more about the characters and their story - and I guess my readers do the same with my books. But letting your friends and relatives read your mind through your writing gives them so much more insight on who you really are, and it gives them some kind of power over you that I do want them to have. I guess we could say that I don’t care what a stranger thinks about me, but I do care what those close to me think.
To my readers, I’m a writer.
To my family, I’m a person.
Plus, I like having a double life.
It makes my days so much more interesting.
Writing is my private world, and only those who do not know they are accessing it are welcome.