I sound like a stuck record when I say this, but 2022 has seen so many fantastic bookstagrammers become published authors. And I feel so lucky to be sharing the same space as them! One of those bookstagrammers is Victoria Wilder (you might also know her as @romancebookvibes!) Earlier this year, she released her debut Peaks of Color and the book was glorious in all the ways. It was sexy, steamy, funny, charming and was everything I loved about the romance genre. I was lucky enough to read an ARC and then spend the next few months connecting with Victoria.
Two days ago, Hide and Peak, the second book in her debut series released. It combines a little bit of romantic suspense with deliciously high heat and tropes that will have you champing at the bit for. I cannot recommend Victoria’s stories enough and if you’ve had her two books on your TBR for a while, now is a good time to start reading them.
Also an avid reader, Victoria has included some great recommendations below that I think we should all check out. More than that, keep scrolling to get to know this incredible author and human and then give her a follow. You won’t regret it.
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
Joan Wilder and Jack T Colton. They’re not the only reason, but they definitely played a part. I was definitely way too young, but my grandmother let me watch Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas and if you’ve never seen it, it’s about a romance author who goes on this wild adventure to rescue her sister and finds her HEA along the way—similar to what she writes about.
I never really thought, “OH! That’s what I’m going to be,” but that became my all time favorite movie. It probably still is to this day, so I’d like to think that it played a part in this entire idea of becoming a romance author.
The “okay, I’m doing this” moment really happened after I started diving back into reading. I found romance books about two-ish years ago and I fell into a mad-love with them. When I was trying to find more, I stumbled into the Bookstagram universe. I started writing my own mini reviews and doing photo edits—and you know this, Anna, how incredible it is to be able to spark friendships and meet authors. If I had never found this community I don’t think I’d be published right now, maybe writing, but not publishing my second book.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
In my opinion it’s elite. Romance has so many tropes and sub-genres that really there is something for every single taste. At the core of it, romance is about connecting, love, and that ‘feel it in your gut’ chemistry. Any type of entertainment where love, sex and all the pieces that make or allow those things to happen, is and should be, revered.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
A few reasons, first and foremost, I wanted to be able to really do it. I knew my writing was good enough and that my ideas for stories were too, but I didn’t want to wait and have someone tell me it wasn’t. At the core of it I’m not a patient person. When I decided I wanted to do it, that was it, I was doing it. That also kicked me in the shins when I was sending out my first ARCS for Peaks of Color. I was so darn nervous.
I also knew that I could do enough to get my own hype moving. Before I published, I was in public relations and marketing. My career was built on connecting with communities, talking to journalists and pitching ideas. I wasn’t intimidated by the marketing component.
Another reason is that I respect the hell out of indie authors. Now, with Amazon KDP especially, it’s a way for unknowns to become known and accessible readers. But, I had watched an author, maybe on TikTok and forgive me but I do not remember who it was, but she really opened my eyes to what indie authors opened up even before KDP and before indie authors were recognized as doing something “different”. The idea that we wouldn’t have books with omegaverse, harem romances, why choose, monster rom, PNRs, taboo and thousands more, if traditional publishing was the only option for readers. That stuck with me.
I don’t think traditional publishing is awful by any stretch, but I also realize that traditional publishers are a business. And they’re going to sign and publish books that sell according to current trends. When an author wants to try something that isn’t on that trend, it’s not going to get published, or at least not easily. Anyway, that was long-winded, but I respect the hell out of the indies that paved the way for tropes and sub-genres may have never happened had they not gone ahead and published on their own.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
It’s really the same answer for both best and worst. You are responsible for EVERYTHING. Writing, finding an editor, marketing, cover design, formatting, promoting, your own author branding, etc. It’s incredible to have that complete control over your own brand, story, and all the pieces involved. But it’s also hard to balance.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
It’s becoming full time. I’m working my hardest to make sure I can continue to have this as my full-time gig. I never understood the “follow your dreams” slogan, because I didn’t have this big bold thing I wanted to do when I was growing up. I did the responsible thing, went to university, figured out a career, worked hard, climbed the right ladders, hit title and salary thresholds and those were my goals. I was proud of them. I loved the company I worked for, but then I got really burned out. It wasn’t immediate, but I found myself just really unhappy. I didn’t want to talk myself into being okay with that.
I have no idea if this writing and publishing thing will stick, but I feel differently about it. LIke maybe this was/is my thing. The big “follow your dream” thing I never knew was lurking. Maybe I’m just a late bloomer, but here I am now. Doing the dang thing, and I hope that working hard will allow me to do this full time from here on out!
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at? Watching movies and reading romance are both things I absolutely enjoy. Both of those things have brought me to other things I genuinely love. You already heard about where Romancing the Stone led me, but I also have ended up completely loving kickboxing and JiuJitsu. That one is far more recent. I read 5 Rounds by Nikki Castle, connected with her on Instagram and just totally fell in love with her main character, Remy. Nikki and Remy are also retired MMA fighters/trainers and I loved how badass and strong they are. I just had a year where I said I’m going to go for it. Do all the things that intrigued me. So about a year ago now, I found an MMA gym in town and I fell in love with all of it. So, when I’m not writing or hanging with my kids, I’m trying to get my tail to the gym to hit some pads and bags.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in? Mystery/Thriller for sure. But I think there would have to be some kind of romance woven throughout.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
This is probably the hardest question on here. I love so many books, but there are some that just stand out and these are the ones that I’ll always recommend.
Really anything that TL Swan writes I will devour. Our Way is probably my favorite and I absolutely have reread it.
I adore Melanie Harlow’s Bellamy Creek series,
Elizabeth O'Roark’s The Devils series.
Oh! And Say You Swear by Mehghan Brandy still has me in a state of awe.
Mr. Brightside by Abby Millsaps is a fantastic M/M romance that I just smiled at the entire time.
Anyway, the more I read I find more I love. This question really is impossible to answer.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
I was given great advice that I’ll share: Don’t just say you’re writing. Say you’re publishing. Set dates for yourself to have your manuscript completed by and stick to them.
Find a developmental editor that will make your story better—line and copy are obviously important too, but every author could use someone who will help make their story even more incredible. Find that person or people (Could be a dev editor, could be a really wonderful alpha reader, but treat those roles as people you hire. Not just a friend doing favors—deadlines, dates, etc. are important)
Connect with other authors. If you can find a way to connect with authors at different stages of their careers it’ll help you understand different aspects of it all. Someone who is writing their second series is able to share different experiences than someone who just published their second book. Or, find author groups on FB that align with your genre.
Keep writing. All the things that seem overwhelming, they’re not going anywhere unless your writing is happening.
Don’t compare yourself or your successes to others. Everyone is on their own journey and at a different pace. Cheer your colleagues on, but don’t get bogged down with comparisons. (I’m still reminding of myself of this advice regularly)
Can you briefly tell me about your books? Peaks of Color is a spicy small town romance set in Strutt’s Peak Colorado where you meet the Riggs Family, a gaggle of men and one incredible woman named Everly, who’s been a boss in the boardroom, but now she’s bored in the bedroom. With a little bit of coaxing from her best friend and throwing her list of perfection to the wind, she decides she’s going to have a little fun with the sexy new photographer whom she just hired. The only problem is, he’s not interested, or so he says. It’s a workplace, forced proximity romance that’s spicy and romantic.
Hide and Peak (released on December 2nd) is an enemies to lovers, second chance, sister’s best friend romance. And it has an incredible twist that, if you read Peaks of Color, you don’t see coming. You meet Giselle in Peaks of Color as the loudmouth, brash best friend with some enemies-level chemistry with the oldest Riggs brother, Henry. What you don’t know in Peaks of Color is that Henry and Giselle met years prior and Giselle isn’t who she says she is…
Of your book(s), who is your favourite character?
Lawrence (Law) Riggs is my favorite. He’s the youngest brother and he hasn’t gotten his story yet, but I love how he’s folded into his siblings' lives. And if you really pay attention I think readers will see him evolve in all of these books leading to his own story. And Giselle, she’s a non-apologetic badass woman who tattoos and puts people in their place. She’s the FMC in Hide and Peak, she’ll have a role in every story. It’s impossible not to have her folded into every book in Strutt’s Peak because she is one of those characters that shocks your system a bit, but you can’t help but fall in love with.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I went to Telluride, Colorado a decade ago and it’s still one of the prettiest places that I’ve been. It was cute and beautiful, but had a small town vibe to it. Strutt’s Peak is loosely based on my short time there. How I came up with the stories? I don’t know. I get some ideas and start writing. From there it develops on its own. Once I have that started then I can look at it from a big picture perspective and start feeling out the plot.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
There are always little pieces. Maybe it’s a way they phrase something or a feature that stuck with me from someone I know or knew. None of my characters are me, but there’s always a piece that, if you really know me, you’ll find that.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
I want them to go through a range of emotions. If a reader can get excited, laugh, cry, get the kitty flutters, and fall a little bit in love (either with the MMC, FMC or the love story) then my job is done!
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I have an idea about time that just can’t seem to go away. How we perceive it, how it affects the loves of our lifetime, etc. It’s a story I want to tell eventually. We’ll see!
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
Yes! I am starting the third book in The Riggs Romance series. This one will be Michael’s book and if people read the extended holiday epilogue from Book 2 (Hide and Peak) then they’ll also get a sneak peak of some of the key tropes!
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
Honestly, I don’t have a least favorite, but I typically don’t go for bully romance. That is usually my last pick. But I’ll try anything if it’s written well. My favorite is probably single dad / nanny.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
Why choose or harems!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
I’d love to see more novellas around different times of year. I adore the holiday novella thing, but I also feel like I’d love some great summer vacation novellas. I love that Lee Jaquot has her novellas, The Four Leaf and Liberty Falls, etc where it’s time of year or seasonal holidays. I’d love to see more of those!
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
The community it builds. And even beyond Instagram or on social media. If you meet a fellow romance reader in real life or if you find out a friend reads romance, it’s like a right of passage in my eyes. Like, “oh yes, you’ve passed GO.” I also love that it can show readers a new way to look at love and sexuality. It’s not about being over sexualized, but moreso about stifling stigmas about sex, attraction, kinks, and expectations.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones or series
Music or silence while writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl
Illustrated cover or photo cover