# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hello, my name is Skara Gray. When I’m not working my tech job at a FAANG company, I write romance and suspense novels. I’ve written a standalone romance suspense novel, Seeing Red, about a woman who moves to NY for a fresh start and lands in an interview with the disappeared bad boy from her hometown. I’ve also written 2 out of 3 books in a sports romance fighter series. The first is titled, In His Corner, and is about a college girl who falls from grace and finds herself in a world with the king of the fighting underground. The novel is laced with themes of addiction and realistic scenarios of both romantic and familial conflict that readers have come to love. It has almost 2M reads on Wattpad. The second book, Against The Ropes, centers around a younger fighter who is up and coming and his tumultuous relationship with his coach’s daughter who is hiding something from her past. This book is coming to Amazon in June!
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I am most inspired by complex characters who have many sides to them that emerge and recede throughout the book. I really like creating a sense of suspense and sexual tension (where relevant) as well as weaving in dark and realistic themes alongside romantic love stories. I like to think that the books I write give me an opportunity to briefly live another life and to fully submerge myself in that world. That’s only something that I feel writing (or reading!) can accomplish.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I think creative block or writer’s block is creativity without discipline. I always try to jot down my ideas, either in my phone or on the computer, before I sit down to write. That way, I’m never going to a blank screen with a blank mind. I also force myself to stick to my writing schedules (I’m not perfect!) even when the words are not flowing or the writing is not as good. You can always go back and edit and rewrite but the most important thing is building the habit of daily writing and discipline. You can’t expect to write perfectly every time you sit down at the computer, but the key is writing anyway.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Definitely plot holes and loose ends…building something up for your characters only to never mention or resolve it again. Readers are very detail oriented! They’ve read a lot of great books and know what to expect. That’s why I like writing on platforms like Wattpad or tapping beta readers as I create a new book. They help you find things you may have overlooked as you focused on your main plot line or character arc.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I think that bad reviews and negative feedback are very helpful when critically looking at your own work. The more you put yourself out there, the more negative reviews you will get. You have to remember that readers aren’t talking about you, they are talking about your book. You’re never going to please everyone but I’ve definitely found that repeated areas of negative feedback have brought my attention to things that I can either improve in the book at hand or in my next book. I am a professionally trained designer and have always worked in competitive tech environments, so criticism is just part of the creative process.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I think it’s a balance for sure. It’s very important to know the expectations and trending topics in your writing area, so that you can know when to go against the grain and do it in a strategic way rather than an uninformed way. But at the end of the day, if you don’t love what you’re writing then it will be very hard to put your best foot forward. I don’t love every book from beginning to end. My emotions change throughout the writing process, but I do love my characters and I do try to stay true to the ideas that keep me up at night or that I daydream about. But even the most genuine ideas require some element of rework and discipline when creating a book that people will want to read. Doing your due diligence about trends and readers preferences is very important and will make your work resonate better with audiences. Write what you want to read and you will find that many people want to read the same thing as you!
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
I think that you should lean into your emotions to have the most effective writing sessions. If I’m feeling angsty or romantic, I let myself focus on those scenes rather than having to write in order or write the thing I had originally planned to work on that day. Allow yourself to leverage your emotions toward your work. If you are not feeling very inspired one day, focus on a chapter that helps move the story along and is more about detail and place setting than about character development or plot twist. Doing this will translate your own emotional journey to your work and make the book very dynamic instead of one note.
# What are your plans for future books?
I have two parallel paths as I look at my future books. One is continuing to write romantic suspense novels, my next being Below the Belt in my sports romance fighter series. I also have two new books as part of Amazon’s new Kindle Vella. One is titled, Sold to the Boss, and is a narcos / cartel romance. The other is titled, Broken Record, and is a contemporary romance about a quirky alternative music producer and a dominant record executive.
But my other path is writing more true novels, domestic suspense and submitting this work for traditional publication. I am in the very early stages of my first novel of this kind. I am so grateful to the romance / smut genre because I feel that it is an incredible opening for newcomers, both in terms of reader sentiment and opportunity, and it has given me the confidence after completing 3 full-length novels, to know that I can write more advanced literature like I’ve always dreamed about. My tip to writers: don’t put pressure on your first novel being your best or your biggest! Just write and learn and you will grow faster than you can imagine.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I am in my mid twenties, I got married during COVID, I work at a FAANG company as my day job and love what I do (but love writing more!) and I live in Texas.