April Hunt is the author of the ongoing Alpha Security and Steele Ops romantic suspense series and is hard at work on the first installment of her upcoming paranormal rom-com Supernatural Singles series. April lives in Virginia with her college sweetheart husband, two young children, and a cat who thinks she’s a human-dog hybrid.
Romantic suspense author April Hunt joins us this week to share advice on networking, writing your way out of a plot corner, and how she knows when her manuscript is ready to be sent off.
What do you love about writing romantic suspense and paranormal rom-coms?
Without a doubt, it’s the guaranteed happily ever after…and the twisty, turning road the characters have to navigate in order to get there. I sometimes feel guilty about putting my characters through hell, but the more they have to overcome, the sweeter it is when they’re finally able to leap over those obstacles and be together. Add in a Dwayne Johnson action plot and you have an adrenaline rush that would interest even my picky husband. My upcoming paranormal romantic comedy series (while definitely having an HEA) is less about the rush and focuses more on escapism—anything can happen.
How have you been able to balance the pressures of a nursing career, a family, and writing a book (or two!) a year?
I don’t sleep much (LOL). But in reality, I’m a night person. I’d much rather stay up super late into the night than get up early in the morning, so while I do write while my children are in school, I tend to get most work done when everyone has gone to bed. I have writer friends who are the exact opposite and call it a night at eight p.m. and get up at four in the morning—not me. Just the idea of that makes me cringe. I keep a notebook tucked into my purse on the off-chance an idea comes while I’m chauffeuring one of my kids around, and deadlines are my friend. Whether they’re set by myself or by my publisher, I do a lot better when I have a firm end-goal. I think it’s the nurse in me that is used to having a time-sensitive to-do list a mile long. There’s no other option than getting it done, LOL.
You’ve written multiple books in different series and the deals keep coming! Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration can come from anywhere: dreams, conversations, or something I see in person or on TV. And every book comes about differently. Sometimes it’s the plot that comes first, like in Fatal Deception (and believe me, I did not see COVID coming when I proposed it to my publisher nearly three years before the pandemic). Sometimes [inspiration comes] after a binge-watch of my favorite Netflix shows. Deadly Obsession actually started with one character—Zoey. Zoey was just one of those characters who was alive in my head from the start, and as I got to know her, everything else fell into place…where she lived, who she loved, her family, struggles.
But it was the WORLD of Not The Witch You Wed and my new Supernatural Singles [series] that came to me this time around. COVID had hit and I needed an outlet that didn’t involve isolation patients and the constant worry about work and the health of my friends and family. It was pure escapism and I have to admit that Not The Witch You Wed has been my easiest book plotted and first draft written to date. It was the book and series that my heart needed.
Have you ever written yourself into a corner or realized a plot point just wasn’t working? How did you overcome that?
Oh boy, have I! I used to be a complete “pantser,” [as with] my very first book, Head Pursuit. Outline? What was that? I sat down and went with the flow of the moment and let my fingers fly to whatever keys they wanted to. The end result led to a lot of pretty great character moments. I’ve also tried my hand at being a “planner.” I bought books, I broke out color-coded note cards and the oversized tri-fold board. Remember that lack of patience thing I mentioned? Planning only took me so far before I tossed it all up in the air and let my fingers fly anyway.
Is one way right and one way wrong? No. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because what works for one writer may not work for another. It all depends on how our brains and imaginations work.
I now consider myself a “planster.” I start the process of planning (my favorite source to refer to—even now after eight books under my belt—is Save the Cat by Jessica Brody). And once I have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of the book I want to write and its characters, I let my imagination go wild. It works for me.
Most of the time.
Sometimes you have an idea for a chapter or a scene and it’s wicked awesome and so perfect it makes you want to cry…but it doesn’t fit with the world you’ve created. You have to be prepared to cut-copy-and-paste it into another document and walk away until it does fit something you’ve written. It’s easy for me to say, but not easy to do. Even now. I think the most I’ve ever had to cut out of a working book and set aside was about 30,000 words.
Yeah, let THAT sink in, LOL.
When you’re preparing to submit a novel to your agent or your editor, what is the first and last thing you always do before handing it off and why?
First? Cross my fingers. Last? Pray (LOL). But while I DO do that, before sending it off, I edit, edit, and edit. My editing process is always evolving and what may work for one book may not work for another. When I make a pass through it and realize I’m doing more reading than “editing.” I know it’s ready for someone’s eyes other than mine.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about the process of having your first book published?
Traditional publishing takes a long time. Every step of it. Although I don’t think that was much of a surprise. I’ve always considered myself a patient person—because nurse—but publishing has definitely shown me that I’m not as patient as I thought, LOL.
Aspiring novelists are always told to network, network, network. So…what are your networking tips?
Writing is a very isolated field so it’s important to take advantage of as many interpersonal things as you can. Workshops, classes, and professional organizations are all great for networking in the business, and there’s an infinite well of information out there for writers in all stages of the author process.
Branding, marketing, and social media are always evolving, whether it’s the platforms themselves, or a shift in your own personal brand. I’m in the process of streamlining my own brand as I make the huge pivot from romantic suspense to paranormal rom-com. Some of it’s common sense. Most of it is trial-and-error. A lot of time you have to go with your gut feeling, try something out, and see if it sticks.
Lastly: What’s your favorite “page-turner”?
Narrowing this down is HARD, but I’d have to say Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man. It made me laugh-snort, cry, and swoon and was the epitome of perfection.
Check out April’s latest novel, Fatal Deception (Book 3 in Steele Ops series) on Amazon.
And follow April on social media here: