I am super excited to share a short interview and excerpt from author Felicia Blaedel. Her goal is to write love stories between real, messy characters and her debut novel Chasing Pebbles just released on June 4, 2020! Read on to learn more about her, her writing process with a toddler added to the mix, and how she includes authentic characters in her story.
1. What initially drew you to the romance genre? Do you read romance primarily or was this something new?
Yes, I primarily read romance, new adult and young adult. When I was younger, I read more fantasy, but the romantic subplots were still important to me. I started reading a lot of indie romance after I got my first Kindle in 2016. I was going through a rough time, and I sought out romance novels as a distraction. I was happily surprised by the many well-developed stories with relatable characters I found. I realised that romance could be a lot more than just an easy fluffy story to enjoy by the pool.
2. What are some of your favorite romance tropes or inspiration?
My favourite trope is friends to lovers, which is probably why Chasing Pebbles is a friends to lovers romance as well. I love the history, shared memories and connection between the characters, and I feel like it helps make the story feel real. Also, the slow burn tension, angst and the shift from friends to more is so enjoyable to both read and write. I also enjoy light enemies to lovers (I’m not a fan of dark romance) and fake relationships a lot, and I generally prefer slow-burn over instant attraction. However, I’ll buy whatever Sarina Bowen and Penny Reid write without even checking the blurb.
3. You mention that you want to write messy, flawed characters. What are some ways that you’ve been able to do that in your book?
It’s important to me that my characters feel authentic and real. I don’t believe perfect people or perfect love exist, so I create characters that make mistakes and learn from them. I want to write redeemable bad guys and flawed good guys. I also find it interesting that most people have opposing or contradicting personality traits which can be incredibly hard to transfer to a character without creating confusing, but something I find essential. For instance, Frida my heroine in Chasing Pebbles, she’s both flirty and incredibly loyal, she’s feminine and a tomboy, she’s compassionate and stubborn. Soft and strong.
4. Why did you select the new adult age for your novel?
I think it’s a fascinating time to write about because you’re just starting to be independent and I find that shift interesting. It’s about figuring out where you belong and what makes your heart happy. And I guess, I like knowing that my characters find their passions at a youngish age, they feel real to me so them going after their dreams makes me happy. I can also relate to having to rediscover who you are after high school, as it at least for me wasn’t the best experience and a place where unwanted labels and gossip thrived.
5. You have a small toddler, right? How does that affect your writing?
I think everyone with small children knows you have less time to do what you want, and even though that’s frustrating at times I also think it makes me more determined about how I spent it. I feel like I get a lot done with the time I have, and I’m focused on my goals. It’s also important for me to show my son that you can go after your dreams. But yeah, some days I need to avoid hearing about my author friends word counts because I’m so behind. It’s a lot about adjusting expectations which isn’t my strong suit as change generally feels hard for me. But I’ve learned that it’s much more fun to pluck dandelions or explore the forest when I’m present than when I’m stuck in my head and my to-do lists.
6. During your writing journey, you mention that you still feel that writing is “right” for you despite how hard it can be to juggle in life. What does that feel like and how does it motivate you to keep writing?
I started writing again as an adult in a period where I was really struggling. I had an awful job, and it was my first full time job after graduating so that certainly felt like a let down after working really hard to get good grades. I was stressed and my anxiety was out of control. I also felt like I was on some career path I was supposed to have an interest in, but mostly I just thought adulting was so hard and depressing. I started writing again for my own sake as a way to process. I wrote an (unpublished) novel about a young woman with anxiety that was so high functioning that people didn’t always notice when she felt like she was drowning. I’ve realised that writing helps me process my emotions. I’m highly sensitive and I often have a hard time deciphering what I’m feeling, but when I write, even if it’s not correlating to my life, it still taps into all those feelings and it makes me lighter. When I started talking to other indie authors and identifying with being a writer it gave me a better self-understanding and sense of purpose.
7. How did you make the transition from writing to actually deciding to self-publish?
I decided to write in English and pursue self-publishing when my son was just a newborn. I’m Danish and until that point I’d only written in Danish, but I just realised that I needed to make things happen. I didn’t feel like sending my novel to publishing houses and waiting months to hear back. I wanted to be in control, and I wanted to decide when. I love the writing community on Instagram; I made some amazing friends there and learned about self-publishing.
8. You mention a bit about wanting to push the romance genre forward and get rid of some of the stigma associated with it. How does that play a part in your story and what you hope readers get out of it?
I find it odd that people have so many prejudices and ideas about what romance is and what it isn’t. I don’t understand why books about love are less worthy or make people say things like “that type of literature” , call it a guilty pleasure or just look shocked when I share my love of romance. Chasing Pebbles is a love story, but it’s also a story of friendship, about choosing your family, about self-discovery and self-worth, about forgiveness, stigmas, bullying, courage and trust. Both my main characters and my side characters have their own stories, their own development. Love can be healing and magical; having the right person by your side does make a big difference. It’s not a necessity and some battles you’re the only one who can fight, but I think it’s a genuine desire for many people to be a team. I hope my readers will find Chasing Pebbles relatable. I hope they’ll find Oliver and Frida authentic. It’s in many ways also a story about coming to terms with our past and changing the stories we tell ourselves. It’s about embracing who you are, all odd, silly or contradicting parts.
9. What have been the challenges and your favorite parts about your writing journey?
I think the most challenging has been believing in myself, but it’s something I’m slowly learning. After all, it’s pretty necessary if you want to self-publish. One of my favourite parts has been finding something I’m passionate about, it changed so many aspects of my life and just made me a happier person. I also love writing about all these characters that live in my mind, and it feels amazing to tell their stories (or more accurately, they’re telling me). Another favourite part has also been connecting with other authors.
10. Do you have any quirks or interesting habits as part of your writing routine?
I get ideas at the most random times, so I have notebooks everywhere (a good reason for buying new ones often, my favourite at the moment is mint green with gold pineapples.) When I don’t have a notebook at hand, I text myself ideas. And since i’m Danish but writing in English, I type ideas out in a mix of both. If someone picked up my phone and looked through my correspondence with myself, I’m sure they would think it was a secret code that’s how much sense it makes.
11. Has COVIS-19 changed anything about your writing journey? If so, how have you dealt with it? If not, how do you stay motivated?
For most of the lockdown phase, I was in book-launch/ administrative mode, and that has been both good and bad. Good in the sense that I could easier get things done at odd hours on little sleep than if I was writing, but bad because I didn’t get to process my COVID enhanced anxiety through creating. Mostly it just changed that I got behind on work as I had my son home with me all day. Toddler hugs and nature walks did help on all the weirdness of the world though.
Chasing Pebbles Blurb
Frida left her hometown a year ago. When she suddenly finds herself without a place to stay for the summer, she is forced to go back. A stubborn, foolish part of her wants to show them that she can’t be broken. She’ll hold on to her anger, push the nostalgia away even if the scent of seawater and beach-roses is making it difficult.
Ever since Frida left, Oliver’s life has been a little lonelier and a little greyer, despite him staying busy to distract himself. When he realises that Frida, his favourite human, the one person who was always up for his shenanigans is coming home, he knows he has to make it right.
She’s hurting, and so much is left unsaid. Oliver might only get one summer, but he’s determined to make it memorable. Frida is afraid to trust. Oliver can’t let go of his guilt.
Neither of them is prepared for how everything can feel the same and yet so, so different.
Chasing Pebbles takes place in Denmark; it’s a new adult friends to lovers romance with a nerdy, talkative hero and a stubborn, compassionate heroine.
Chasing Pebbles is book one in the Without Filter series and it’s a complete standalone.
Felicia Blaedel is a Danish indie-author who writes quirky, heartfelt romances with real, flawed characters. Felicia also reads whenever she has a free minute and she never leaves her house without her Kindle. Felicia lives in Denmark with her husband and son.
When Felicia isn’t doing something bookish, she enjoys drawing, dancing (mostly at home with her toddler, sometimes at the gym, rarely at a nightclub), cooking (for the most part) and travelling.
She also tends to buy anything with dinosaurs, and she loves to-do lists and personality tests.
Felicia also hangs out (too much) on Instagram where she posts pictures about her indie-author life, cute dresses, coffee mugs, musings about anxiety, book recommendations and much more. She would love it if you come by and say hello @feliciablaedel or at her website www.feliciablaedel.com.