Zoe York - Military Romance with Heart
Zoe York is a thirteen-time USA Today bestselling author of military and contemporary romance. She lives in London, Ontario, Canada with her young family, and dreams of heroes in and out of uniform. As our Author of the Day, York tells us about her latest book, Love in a Sandstorm.
Please give us a short introduction to what Love in a Sandstorm is about.
Jenna's a Canadian midwife who met a soldier overseas, fell head over heels in love with him, and then is sent reeling when she finds out he's been injured, badly. She tracks him down in Canada and he's nothing like the man she met before, and he wants her to forget that they got married, wants her to forget him. But she can't. The book shows both sides of their romance, the first whirlwind affair while they're on leave together in Spain, and then the slower repairing romance when she comes to him in Pine Harbour.
What inspired you to write a love story about a soldier who came back from war broken?
A lot of my readers know that my husband is in the military, has been for twenty-two years. From being witness to his experiences, and those of other members of his unit, there's no way I could write a series of military romances without including more complicated stories of trauma and recovery.
Why did you pick Pine Harbour as the backdrop for your story?
I grew up close to that area of Canada, the Bruce Peninsula, and my family spends a lot of time there still to this day. It's gorgeous and a little bit wild, the perfect setting for romance.
How does Love in a Sandstorm tie in with the other books in the series? Can it be read as a standalone?
Sean and Jenna's story is told in two parts: the two of them meeting overseas and falling in love, and then adjusting to life back in his home town of Pine Harbour. The previous books in the series were about his brothers and friends, so they're all in the background of the Pine Harbour sections of the book, but it's very much a standalone in the series! At the end of the book, there's a satisfying HEA ending for them.
Sean and Jenna develop a whirlwind romance early in the story. Why did you make them meet this way?
Writing is often about finding the balance between reality and fantasy. The reality of being a soldier or midwife overseas is that you don't get a lot of time off. I knew I wanted them to meet in a refugee camp, and then travel together. So they didn't have a lot of time to fall in love. But out of that reality came this unexpectedly sweet storm of romance, not my usual style, but a joy to write.
What, would you say, makes military men so irresistible?
There's an archetype there that promises so much strength, so much stability. Like they'll be rocks when you need them to be. And as a writer, there's also something wonderfully delicious about breaking through that rigid exterior and getting to the gooey, secretly soft man underneath.
Did you work against a deadline for this book? How hard was it to stick to it?
I have an editor for all of my Pine Harbour books who schedules months in advance, so my due date to give her the book was my hardest deadline to meet--and truthfully, I make it barely and by the skin of my teeth. She often gets my books in pieces, with whole chapters empty except for a question like, "I don't know what should go here! Help?". And then she gives me her first round notes, I revise the book, and we do it again. It's agonizing, but by the time the book is on countdown to be released, it's lovely and polished and done, so the stress is all taken care of earlier in the process.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I do a lot of pre-writing on projects that are coming down the road. For example, I'm starting a new series set in Pine Harbour next year, the Kincaids of Pine Harbour, and even though I won't start writing that first book until December, I have about a dozen chunks of text, partial scenes, already collected. When I sit down to "write a book", the first thing I do is assemble all of those chunks and lay them out like quilt pieces and figure out what is missing. Then I start to stitch things together and write new words to fill in the gaps.
What are you working on right now?
A secret co-writing project with a British writer friend of mine, because I've always wanted to write a British protagonist, but this Canadian girl does not have the right voice for that. So we're working on it together. We'll probably announce it in January.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I'm everywhere. I love my Facebook reader group, the Wardham Ambassadors, named for my very first series (but it's findable by searching for my name, too). And Instagram is a ton of fun. My account is 30% travel photos, 20% food pictures, and 45% selfies and family photos. Once in a blue moon I remember to talk about books, but I think my readers like the real life pictures too.