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  • Anna P.

Indie Support Sunday: Cristina Santos

Every now and then, I get to feature someone on my blog that I’m incredibly fond of. And it brings me so much joy! Some of my favorite kind of friendships have been made while screaming over romance novels in the DMs of other brilliant humans. That’s how Cristina Santos and I got to know each other, or at least that’s my memory of how it happened. I saw the gorgeous cover for her debut, Lost Love Found, followed her and now here we are. Cristina’s a bundle of fun and her writing is exciting, and not to forget steeeaaaamy, so obviously we hit it off.


Another great thing about making friends with fellow authors? They sometimes honor you with early drafts of their books to beta read. So I’ve already had my chance at reading and enjoying Sparks Still Fly, the second in Cristina’s Love in LA series. If you loved Elaina and Adam, you’re going to be obsessed with Maeve and Owen.


I highly recommend adding Cristina as a friend and an author in your life, because she’ll send you random DMs to check in and read your books and scream about them in your messages too.


Both her books are available right now in Kindle Unlimited!


BEING AN AUTHOR

Who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve always told myself stories. It was something that calmed me down, helped me fall asleep, and just naturally happened when I people watched. They were almost always love stories. I hadn’t picked up a book in years, and when I rediscovered a love of reading and discovered romance novels for the first time ever, it just felt natural to write down one of my stories. Now I hope Inever ever stop!


What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author? 

The best part is getting to do something that truly lights me up from the inside out. I’ve had a lot of careers in my nearly 40 years on this earth, but this one is without a doubt my favorite. The worst? The imposter syndrome. I question my abilities and my place in this new-to-me world every single day! It’s such bullshit.


Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?

I just really felt like I needed my story to be out there. It didn’t matter to me if it became something that made me real money or if a publisher validated my title of ‘published author’ or not.


When you’re not writing, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?

Listen to music, read romance novels and watch rom-coms. Specifically, I listen to Taylor Swift, read my favorite indie romance authors and watch 90’s and 00’s romantic comedies.


If you were to recommend books to me (in any genre), what would they be?

Anything by Mariana Zapata. She’s not called the queen of slow burn for nothing. Chloe Liese’s books because they’re funny and sweet. B.K. Borison’s Lovelight series for the warmest, gooiest feelings inside. They’re all comfort reads for me, and books I read for comfort, inspiration and to just generally feel good!


What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?

  1. Just start writing, even if you have no idea how to form a story.

  2. Find a community of people who can encourage you and who you know will lift you up on the hard days.

  3. Write the stories you want to read, not the stories you think other people want.

  4. Don’t listen to every piece of advice you hear. If writing every day is for you, great. If you want to follow writing formulas, go for it. But if that shit doesn’t suit you, just do what does.

  5. Never compare your journey to someone else’s. It’s not worth it.


ROMANCE AS A GENRE

Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in? What is your favorite thing about the genre?

I don’t think I could write anything else. I love love stories. I always have. I love the hope, the warm and fuzzy feelings, the intimacy of getting to know characters in a way we don’t get to in other genres.


If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?

I honestly have no idea. It’s sort of romance or bust for me.


What are your most and least favorite tropes?

Most favorite: friends to lovers, enemies to lovers and found family. I could keep going. There are so many tropes I love!

Least favorite: any time there’s even a hint of infidelity, accidental pregnancy (though this has been done SO right by some authors), unnecessary miscommunication


What are some tropes you want to write in the future?

Accidental pregnancy! Haha! I also want to write age gap and maybe something a little taboo!


What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?

Infertility, marriages in crisis, more realistic sex scenes that don’t alway end with both people having orgasms, racism, bratty kids. I’m sure I have more. The last one was inspired by real life events. 


If you write open door romance, why did you choose that and what inspires your sex scenes?

I chose to write open door because I personally lived a LOT of years carrying so much shame around my sexuality. Romance books helped me in a way nothing else ever has before, and to be perfectly transparent, my marriage is much, much better thanks to open door romance novels. My characters inspire the sex scenes because I really try to make them make sense for their personalities, where they’re at in their relationship and their current emotional states. 


YOUR BOOKS

What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?

Book 1, Lost Love Found, started as a very therapeutic practice for me. I wrote the prologue first (which isn’t actually in the book now) based almost entirely on my own experience of losing my first love to suicide. I wanted to write a story of hope after loss, of love despite it, and of friendship at the center of it all. Elaina and I had very different experiences post our traumatic losses, but we both got our happily ever afters in the end. I honestly don’t know where the whole celebrity thing came from, but I dig it.


Can you briefly tell me about your books?

Lost Love Found is about exactly that—finding love after losing it. For Elaina it was her first love at the age of 18. For Adam it was someone he cared deeply about betraying him. These two start out as strangers who form a quick, wholesome friendship, who then end up fake dating for a very short while because the real feelings come out and Elaina isn’t good at faking anything.


Sparks Still Fly continues the series with Owen, ex-Marine and Elaina’s big brother and Maeve, Hollywood actress and Elaina’s best friend. She falls first, but after he leaves her with no explanation after a night together, her heart hardens. Owen openly and unabashedly loves Maeve and wants to make it up to her. They end up accidentally getting married at Adam and Elaina’s bachelor/ette party and that’s when the fun begins.


Untitled book 3 will end the series with Rafael and Charlotte, frenemies to lovers who need one another for their special talents. wink wink


Do you already have a favorite character from the stories you’ve written?

Hands down, it’s Rafael. He’s funny, shuts toxic masculinity down with how he loves his brothers and friends, and has the biggest heart. I am obsessed with him.


If you were to cast your book for a movie/television show, who would you cast in the lead roles?

Elaina: Lucy Hale

Adam: Jake Gyllenhaal 

Maeve: Margot Robbie

Owen: Kellan Lutz


How much of yourself do you put into these characters?

I’ve been told by people who know me personally that Elaina’s inner dialogue sounds just like me. And it’s true. All of my FMCs carry a piece of me inside them.


What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?

A marriage in crisis due to secondary infertility where the FMC rediscovers her sexuality in romance novels. This one will hit VERY close to home, so I’m going to take my time with it.


Is there one common element that readers can find in all your stories?

I hope they will all have the element of hope, family, and of love beyond the romantic type.


What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?

Sparks Still Fly, Book 2 in the Love in LA series is almost finished and book 3 has already been started. Owen and Maeve’s story is a second chance romance with lots of heavy emotions thrown in. Raf and Charlie’s story is my most anticipated book so far. I’m really looking forward to writing a lighter story, hopefully with less of the emotional heaviness of the first two, but who knows what will happen! They’re frenemies who need one another’s help, and they’ll bring out the best in one another while becoming best friends who have sexy times together.


When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?

I hope with all of my books that readers will see little bits of themselves in my characters and feel connected to them. Even if in the smallest of ways by relating to how a character takes their coffee, I always hope for connection.


AUTHOR’S CHOICE

  • Paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks or audiobooks

  • Contemporary, fantasy, historical or romantic suspense

  • Single or Dual POV

  • Standalones, series or standalones in a series

  • Open door, ajar door or closed door romances

  • Music or silence when writing

  • Plotter, pantser or plantser

  • Water, tea, coffee or….wine?

  • Cold or warm weather

  • Write better in the morning, afternoon or night?

  • Illustrated or photo cover?


Make sure you’re following Cristina on Instagram and TikTok. You can also order signed copies of her books from her website!

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