Today we’re pleased to welcome Winter Austin to the 20QS spotlight.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Winter Austin perpetually answers the question: “were you born in the winter?” with a flat “nope.” Having returned to her hometown, Winter has stepped into the chaotic world of a full-time wife, mom, author, and employee. A lifelong Mid-West gal, Winter rediscovered her love of her beloved Iowa with its hot summers and snowy winters. She grew up listening to the captivating stories told by relatives around the table or a campfire. Since becoming a published author, she learned a mindset of a glass half-empty personality makes for a perfect suspense/thriller author. Taking her ability to verbally spin a vivid and detailed story, Winter translated that into writing deadly romantic thrillers. Combining her love of all things rural, agricultural, and military, she’s turned her small-town life upside down.
Born to Die is the second book in my McIntire County series, published on March 28. It’s Deputy Cassy Rivers and FBI agent Boyce Hunt’s book. Readers met Cassy — pronounced like Cass-ie — and Boyce in the first book, Atonement. These two have a history and just can’t seem to stay away from each other. When a bank robbery brings Boyce to Eider, Cassy finds herself doing her best to avoid him, and still do her job. Murder ensues, and the pair find that their cases are beginning to interlock. With each encounter, Cassy and Boyce must face their greatest fears, and the truth about their relationship.
Born to Die, like Atonement, came about due to some events that took place almost 10 years ago. It happened while my husband was deployed and I knew one day I’d write something about it. I’m not being specific because it’s a bit of a spoiler.
3. Please share a little about your previous books.
My first series was The Degrees of Darkness about professional barrel racer Cody Lewis and her Cajun detective, Remy LeBeau, and their tumultuous relationship that encompassed settings in Dallas, Fort Worth, and New Orleans. You can find all four books in a bundle, or separately at all e-retailers.
Atonement, is book 1 in The McIntire County series. It’s about Nic Rivers, her battle with PTSD, and finding a place and someone to love. This was a powerful book, and it’s the book in which readers are introduced to Cassy River and Boyce Hunt, the main characters of Born to Die.
4. Have you always written in the romance genre?
For the most part, yes. I lean heavily toward the thriller/suspense side of that genre, but you’ll always find romance in my books.
5. What or who inspired you to be a writer?
I have always had a drive and love of writing, and spinning stories in my head. So, it was just natural for me to head in that direction. In fact, when I was a toddler, my parents claimed I’d take the books that were read to me, and sit with the book in my lap and tell the story myself.
When I was in the fourth grade, I entered a short story that would get me chosen to attend a young writer’s conference. The teachers who chose my piece, and reading about Walter Farley’s, author of The Black Stallion books, start as an author when he was in his 20s cemented it for me. I wanted to be an author.
6. Where in the world are you?
I’m about as smack dab in the Midwest as one can get. I live in tiny town in Iowa, that if you were to blink driving through it, you’d miss it. I’m surrounded by crop fields, hog buildings, and cattle pastures as far as the eye can see. And I love every bit of it.
7. What do you love best about being a writer?
I can write books people love to read, that I would love to read. I can spend a lot of my day in my imagination and it’s not considered wasted effort. I can be a day dreamer.
8. What’s the biggest challenge being a writer?
Currently, it’s finding long periods of time where I can just write. I recently had to return to the workforce when my husband was finally able to switch jobs to do what he loves, teach. I have more leeway than I thought with my current job, but I also have four teenagers who’s activities tend to cut into my free time — and for me, my kids tend to take priority until they’re out of the house and living their own lives.
9. What’s your favorite romance trope?
The broken alpha hero — whether male or female — finding love with their complete opposite. And there better be a military, cop, or cowboy character in there.
10. What’s your typical writing day like?
That depends on my work day. If I have my morning open, I’ll try to get in some writing, then go to work, I have an hour-long lunch, so I sneak in some words then, come home, complete any tasks I need to housework wise while sneaking in author-related stuff. If my afternoon is open, then I try to write then. School year, I’m usually busy with school-related things with the kids. If it’s June-July, then it’s all 4-H fair stuff that eats up my free time.
Writing right now has no set time table for me, it’s get it in when I can. So Saturdays and Sundays are catch-up days in most cases.
11. Where do you usually write?
In a recliner/rocker in our living room. It’s the only chair that allows me to write at the right angle that doesn’t end up killing my back, shoulders, and neck.
12. When you’re writing, is it coffee, tea, soda, or water?
Coffee and water, occasionally hot herbal tea.
13. Do you have other creative outlets? If so, what?
Oh, boy do I ever. My de-stresser is to bake and cook. I tend to try new recipes all the time. And I’m the type to make things from scratch, I mean like, I make my own yogurt, soups, and tomato-based sauces. A family favorite is when I make any Louisiana-style foods, like gumbo, red beans and rice, or dirty rice.
14. What books are you reading now?
I’m getting caught up on my topling TBR pile. There are a few Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark-Hunter and The League books in there. An older Lisa Gardner book, Hide, and Kristen Callihan’s Soulbound.
15. Name three of your favorite television shows.
“The Big Bang Theory,” “Supergirl,” “Arrow”
16. If you could have dinner with any author — living or dead — who would it be and what would be on the menu?
Sherrilyn Kenyon — I’m in love with her Dark-Hunter and League series. And of course, New Orleans cuisine.
17. If you couldn’t be an author, what other job would you choose?
I’d be doing something in the agriculture sector, that’s for sure. What, exactly, I have no idea, probably something with animals.
18. What are you working on next?
Book 3 in The McIntire County series, titled Sins of the Father
19. Anything else you’d like to share?
My McIntire series has turned into a five-book series at this time. There is a possibility for a sixth book, but I’m waiting on the characters that would be a part of that book to make up their minds. All of the books focus on a character that works in the McIntire County sheriff’s department, in little old Podunk town of Eider, Iowa, where readers can learn that not all small-towns are picturesque; the people can hold dark secrets, dark enough to kill.
20. How can people find out more about you?
You can find me here: www.winteraustin.com, on Facebook under Winter Austin, and on Twitter @WinterAustin_.
Photos courtesy of the author.
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