- Anna P.
Indie Support Sunday: Sonia Esperanza
I remember scrolling through Instagram one day and coming across the cover and blurb for Hijacked. Everything about the book called to me, so I picked up a copy of the ebook and then in early 2021, I read it. And since then, I’ve been hooked onto Sonia Esperanza’s storytelling and the characters she’s created.
Hijacked was the first in the Love, Philly series that went on to have two more books and I was so lucky to read ARCs of both of them before they came out. And like the first one, I was completely swept away by the lyrical way in which Sonia wrote her stories, the complex and three-dimensional characters she created and the emotions she evoked in me. Her heroines are smart, funny, sexy and beautiful. And her heroes are swoony, dreamy and the best guys ever. Isn’t that what we all want when we read romance?
Currently working on her first sapphic romance, Sonia’s Instagram is filled with beautiful graphics to support her own work as well as authors she’s reading. And I don’t think I’ve met anyone who is as big a fan of Taylor Swift as Sonia is, either. Sonia’s also been reading a lot of queer romances that I’ve been adding to my TBR, and you could too!
All three books in Sonia’s Love, Philly series are out now and available in Kindle Unlimited.
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
When I was 10, my mom actually went to see a psychic and they told her that I would be gifted with my hands. It only took a short while to realize that gift was writing. I’d always had trouble expressing myself out loud and writing was a way to say what I had to without making myself uncomfortable.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
I grew up extremely sheltered. I was in my early 20’s before I even discovered the romance genre. I’d always read YA fantasy just to get my romance fix. But once I discovered the genre, I never looked back!
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
Rejection sucks. Lol. No, really, I think the main reason is the control of every single aspect. I love the freedom I get to do things my own way. Cover, graphics, release dates, deadlines.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
There are so many good things about being an indie author. The community, both the creators and consumers, is so supportive and just always there and it means the world. The worst part is definitely visibility. Some days it feels hopeless but that's when I turn to the best part: the community.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
One the side. As much as I love writing stories and sharing them with the world, writing hurts my brain after a while and I physically cannot write more than a few hours a day and I’m happy with that!
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
I just love consuming stories in any form so if I’m not writing, I’m either reading, watching, or listening to something.
If not romance/or subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
Definitely thrillers. I’m obsessed with thrillers and actually plan to write one someday!
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
The Roommate by Rosie Danan is my favorite book ever. I love books that push the envelope and speak on issues that desperately need speaking on and The Roommate does this flawlessly. To list a few more: Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon; Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur; The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel; Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Read read read. I actually suggest getting into audiobooks. Especially if you’re a rereader. There are some books I listen to the audio at least twice a year, and knowing the story so well I can step back and study the author’s writing.
Don’t compare yourself to established/already published authors. This is something I struggled with before releasing my debut novel. My advice is if you’re ever feeling this way is to think about the book you love the most and if you’re brave enough check the reviews. Any given book is going to the best past of one person’s day and the worst part of another’s.
If you’ve heard the saying (which I’m pretty sure you have since I see it floating around every day) that your first draft is going to be trash, dumpster fire, hot mess, etc., I beg you to think about it differently. Your first draft is the bones of your story. Bones that are strong and sturdy and absolutely not deserving of being thrown away as the above words might suggest.
Write what your heart is dying to say. You’re going to have to rewrite and reread a hell of a lot for you not to be obsessed with your characters and story.
Lean on your community. The indie community is full of knowledge and heart and I guarantee you they’ll be thrilled to help you in any way they can.
Can you briefly tell me about the books you've published so far?
I’ve published three books in the Love, Philly series. Hijacked, The Tipoff, and Bad Decisions.
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
This is so hard because I’m so soft for all of them and they all have a part of me in them. But if I have to pick, it would be Annie (the heroine from my debut novel Hijacked). She’s just a character who jumps off of the page and I fell in love with her instantly.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
Reading two books, I think, is how I got my start. In these two books, I saw myself (a plus-sized Latinx woman) in a romance or just in general fiction for the first time and the feeling of being seen is one I cannot put into words. The book was Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid. The second book was Grip by Kennedy Ryan in which a few sensitive topics are discussed. I like to joke that I write progressive romance but it is true. I love writing diversely and I love addressing topics, even if they are uncomfortable, that need addressing.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
Just all of my insecurities. Lol. I do put a lot of myself into my characters. They have my quirks, my weaknesses and strengths, my passion and drive, just all look a little differently.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
Above all else: seen. More often than not, I write a ‘reputation’ type of love (yes, this is a nod to TS). I don’t really write characters with bad reputations; but there is this sense that all my characters have where they never thought love could be possible (for them) because of who they are or what they’ve been through or how others had treated them up to this point. And I love having their soon-to-be partner sweeping in and loving them just the way they need.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I have two books planned that follow an asexual character and an aromantic character respectively and being ace, I’m really excited to pour my heart into them!
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
IWBMP is my next book. It’s a little break before I dive into the second half of the Love, Philly series. It’s a lesbian romance set in college in a small town following two women who have kinda sorta forgotten how to put themselves out there when it comes to love.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
I love an age gap and an enemies to lovers story. I more often than not loathe the friends to lovers trope and the sibling’s best friend one, too but I’ve been proven wrong with those tropes, too.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I already wrote a ‘when in Vegas” which was one of my top “out there” tropes. Next to that, I’m dying to write a twin switch.
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
There are a lot of great books out there that touch on topics that should exist in all forms of life. I love seeing women’s bodies being discussed (abortion; infertility; periods, etc.). Romance is fiction, of course, but I think we should treat it carefully. We don’t want to set these insane expectations of women like other media platforms. I think we have the tools and the bravery to depict people in a true and honest fashion.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
The sex positivity! It has honestly been a life changer for me.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single and Dual POV
Standalones or series (series of interconnected standalones)
Music or silence while writing (it works both ways but usually depends on the scene)
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl
Illustrated cover or photo cover
Follow Sonia on Instagram and TikTok, and check out all her books on Goodreads!