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Interview with Zia Westfield

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself?
A. I teach English as a foreign language at a university during the day. I'm an Italian-American married to a Japanese. I've lived in Japan for twenty-five years with my husband and raised three sons here. San Diego is my home away from home.

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. I hope to. I am wrapping up my next title, Killer Vows, and then I plan to work on another anthology novella.

Q.3 How do you come up with the title of your books?
A. The first book in my Deadly Encounter series revolves around the secrets of the past. At the same time, there was a serial killer on the loose. And so, Killer Secrets was born. After that, Killer seemed a good fit to identify the series to readers. After that, I released Killer Lies, and then in October 2019, Killer Deceptions.

Q.4 Among all the protagonists of your titles, who’s your favorite and why?
A. Oooh, that's tough. I loved Jack Donahue the male protagonist in Killer Secrets. He was walking a straight path while under the shadow of his father's corruption. And he had no idea how to deal with Gemma when she walked into his life. I also have a soft spot for Joe Vanetti, the protagonist in Killer Deceptions. That story touches on the Italian side of me.

Q.5 What about the supporting characters? Who does think is dearest to you?
A. Angie's family was a hoot to write in Killer Deceptions. From her nonna (Italian grandmother) to her younger sister, she was surrounded by love and nosiness. In a completely different genre, my recent novella, Bewitching the Wolf, has Oggie, a drunken leprechaun that caused quite a few chuckles.

Q.6 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite among them?
A. When I first published, I partnered with a friend, and we published under the name Gabriella Hewitt. Our first book was romantic suspense set in Puerto Rico. We then moved into the paranormal genre and published two novellas Out of the Shadows and Shadow Visions which incorporated Aztec mythology. When my partner decided she didn't want to write anymore, I continued on my own. So far, I have three romantic suspense in the Deadly Encounters series, one paranormal light romantic suspense novella, and I'm sure many more to come.

Q.7 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. Being able to get into the male POV, and really portray them realistically.

Q.8 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
A. I wish or maybe not. There's always a formula in the sense that you want to deliver the kind of story your readers expect. But, there is no magic plug character A in slot B which leads to outcome C. As much as I try to outline and plot, I often end up writing by the seat of my pants!

Q.9 How do you select the name of your characters?
A. Sometimes a name pops into my head. If I have a certain ethnicity in mind, I might check out baby book names. The name has to feel right or the character won't lift off the page.

Q.10 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
A. I'd like to do more paranormal romance stories. I'd also like to start another romantic suspense series. And maybe one day, I'll sit down and write a cozy mystery. I love those, too.

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
A. Yes. They don't always understand it, but they're happy that I'm succeeding as a writer.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. Yes. There are so many reasons writers can't write. In my case, my day job takes a lot out of me. When I'm tired and going from deadline to deadline in the office, it can be hard to sit down at night and be creative. I might give myself a break, but never for long. At some point, I force myself to sit in front of the screen and produce something even if it's junk. Eventually, my muse kicks in, and the flow gets going. But it's never an easy process.

Q.13 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
A. I don't have so many, so yes, I do. I've been fortunate that the book reviews I've received have been positive. As for a bad review, I'm a teacher. My job is to help my students improve their English skills by pointing out what they do well, and what they need to work on. Constructive criticism is always worth getting. But I'd probably absorb it over a good glass of red wine.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I wish I did! That would make me so much more interesting than I am. I write at my dining room table because that's all the space I've got. I write much more with a cup of Peet's coffee next to me, and I tend to write scene by scene.

Q.15 Do you hide any secrets in your book that only a few people will find?
A. Since I usually have the main mystery and a sub mystery in my stories, I think there's plenty there to keep readers busy. At least, I hope so!

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. Right now the Romance Writers of America, a professional writers' organization that represents romance authors, is going through a tumultuous time over issues of racism. No writer should be treated differently because of who they are or who they choose to write about. Nor should writers be lazy, and fall back on stereotypes when describing their characters. We all win when we help one another. Holding others back only diminishes ourselves.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A. Keep writing, work on perfecting your craft, and don't give up.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Ichiro. He has tremendous discipline, which combined with natural talent led him to the top in his field. I will never have that degree of focus since I'm a scatterbrained middle-aged woman. But I would love to understand how he does it. Then we could compare notes on me being an American in Japan, and him being a Japanese in America. It could be fun!

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. I have many fond memories and a well-worn copy of Where the Wild Things Are because imagination powers our world. With imagination, we have hope, joy and the ability to transcend our reality. As a child, I never went anywhere without a book, and each book was an exciting adventure.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. It's been challenging. Working full time and maintaining a steady output of books has really pushed my productivity and energy levels to the edge. Today's book publishing requires lots of social media presence, and there simply aren't enough hours in the day for me to do it all. But writing is a big part of who I am. As long as there are stories in my head, I will continue to write them down and hope that readers fall in love with the characters just as I do while writing them.

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  1. Thank you so much for featuring Zia Westfield on your great blog! It's a fun interview and greatly appreciated. :)

  2. Zia,
    This is a wonderful interview. Yes, your leprechaun Oggie is quite a handful. Keep up the wonderful writing.

  3. Good interview Zia. I loved Killer Secrets. So steamy and suspenseful. I would highly recommend it. I'm with Callie on Oggie. He was a handful.

  4. This was interesting. I have Killer Secrets and can't wait to read it!

  5. Excellent interview, Zia and Books Charming! I wondered about your Gabriella Hewitt persona, Zia. I enjoyed those books!
    (This is Dee S. Knight, not anonymous)

  6. Lovely interview Zia. Thanks, Books Charming for featuring Zia. She is a great author and I hope to hear more from her.


  7. A great interview Zia, as always I am waiting for your next story. I love your books