Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Interview- Heart of Stone by Dakota Willink

What inspired you to become an author?  

I always considered writing a pipedream until a few years ago.  Then I met someone locally that wrote and published.  She was a wife and mother of three – and just as busy as I was.  It was then that I realized that I needed to stop making excuses and just do it.  So I did.  

Do you have a specific writing style?  

I write romance, so I tried to keep the overall tone appropriate for my audience.  I strived to ensure that the narrative and conversations were clean and concise so that it was an easy read.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  

It’s not so much a message, but more a lifestyle accuracy.  So often I read books that portray the wrong idea about what BDSM is, giving so many woman false notions. That can be a let down for those expecting something that isn’t, not to mention potentially dangerous.  BDSM is not supposed to be abuse, and while my book only touches on the mild aspects of the lifestyle, I did a ton of research to make sure that I depicted it correctly.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?  

The book is completely fictional, with the exception of a few minor tidbits that I pulled from my personal experience.  In Heart of Stone, Alexander mentions stumbling across a man playing a guitar in Venice.  That actually happened my husband and me in Venice.  We listened to the musician play for hours and purchased his CD’s.  In addition, La Biga is a very real place in Rome, Italy.  It’s located near the Roman Colosseum, and a favorite stop for my family when we travel there.

What books/authors have influenced your life? 

I would probably have to say two novels by Steven Saylor – Roma and Empire.  After reading those books, I became infatuated with all things related to Rome and his writing persuaded me to travel to Italy multiple times.  There’s just something magical about the ancient city.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?  

I actually have two.  J.K. Rowling is the first – her creativity, imagination, and writing style is awe-inspiring.  Emma Campion is the other – her attention to detail and the historical accuracies in her novels is something to be revered.

What book are you reading now?  

Right now, I’m not reading anything (much to my dismay). The release of Heart of Stone has kept me extremely busy, on top of trying to complete Stepping Stone.  However, I am looking forward to reading the last Crossfire novel sometime soon.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?  

Stepping Stone (Book 2 in The Stone Series) and Set in Stone (Book 3 in the Stone Series).

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?  

The setting for Heart of Stone is New York City, and I took a trip there at Christmas time in 2014.  I walked the streets for hours on end, trying to find the perfect location for Krystina’s apartment and Alexander’s Penthouse.  I researched real-estate prices, took note of the smells in the air, and absorbed every detail about Washington Square Park. I fell in love with NY at Christmas time while I was there, and plan to incorporate the holiday season in the third book of The Stone Series.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book? 

It’s funny you should ask that… I, like my heroine in Heart of Stone, can feel the sound of music.  I have used it many times for inspiration while I work.  That being said, I thought it only fitting to give credit where it is due, and included this list at the end of my book. The creativity of these various artists helped to shape mine. Some songs were mentioned specifically in my book, while others were only songs that gave me inspiration for setting the scenes.

Here it is:

“Wait Up (Boots of Danger)” by Tokyo Police Club (Champ)

“Hurricane” by Thirty Seconds to Mars (This Is War)

“Rocky Road To Dublin” by Dropkick Murphy’s (Live on St. Patrick’s Day)

“Stompa” by Serena Ryder (Harmony)

“Blue Jeans” by Lana Del Rey (Born to Die)

“Samba Pa Ti” by Tadeusz Machalski, self-released (Guitar Collection)

“Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys (AM)

“Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood (I Love You)

“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (The Downward Spiral)

“Catch and Release” by Silversun Pickups (Swoon)

“Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira (Oral Fixation, Vol. 2)

“Desire” by Meg Myers (Make a Shadow)

“BTSK” by MS MR (Secondhand Rapture)

“Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine (Ceremonials)

“Breathe” by Of Verona (The White Apple)

“Sanya Seiran” by Riley Kelly Lee (Shakuhachi Honkyoku - Japanese Flute)

“Howlin’ For You” by The Black Keys (Brothers)

“Beauty of Sadness” by Spiky (Whimsical Fantasy)

“Silence” by Delerium (feat. Sarah McLachlan), DJ Tiësto (The Best of Delerium)

“Breathing Underwater” by Metric (Synthetica)

Heart of Stone
The Stone Series
Book 1
Dakota Willink

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Date of Publication:  December 27, 2015

ISBN:  0997160314

Number of pages:  458
Word Count:  133,464

Cover Artist:  Dakota Willink

Book Description: 

Krystina Cole was a girl on a mission.  She had big dreams and aspirations, none of which included a man by her side.  She knew better than that – at least until she met Alexander Stone, the New York billionaire real estate tycoon.  She saw the way that he looked at her, and the dark promises in his eyes.  She was curious about his world and all that it entailed. But the shadows of her past haunted her, making her afraid to explore possibilities that she could never before have imagined…

Alexander Stone was a man who knew how to get what he wanted.  He understood the value of finesse, and the importance of patience and diligence to achieve the desired result. He was successful and wealthy, relying on his naturally sharp instincts to guide him through life.  But a chance run in with Krystina Cole quickly turned his world upside down. Her quick wit and firecracker attitude was the complete opposite of what he wanted in a woman, and his instincts failed him at every turn…

However, both Krystina and Alexander are clinging to the secrets of their past, and neither of them are willing to compromise.  Krystina’s hardened heart makes emotional surrender a hard limit.  But for Alexander, revealing his past could have devastating results.


After unwrapping the cellophane from the platter, I moved over to the minibar to choose a bottle of white from the wine cooler.  I perused the selections, trying to decide what would pair best with the cheeses.
Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay? Both will go nicely, but which would she prefer?
I glanced over at Krystina, intending to ask her if she had a particular wine preference.  However, she had a look about her that made me pause, and I didn’t want to interrupt the picture that she painted before me. 
She was running one delicate hand over the wooden top of my dining room table.  She wore a soft smile on her lips, appreciating the craftsmanship of the design.  She looked beautiful sitting there, feet up on the chair, seeming completely at ease.  And in that moment, I realized that she had never before looked quite like that in my presence.  She had never appeared so completely relaxed. 
So unguarded.
I stood there studying every beautiful line of her captivating face.  Seeing her that way, it was almost hard to believe she was capable of so many smart remarks and witty comebacks.  Perhaps her sharp tongue and contentious behavior was a defense mechanism, one that she relied on when she was uncomfortable.  If that were truly the case, then I would need to take corrective actions to remedy that problem. I had to calm her, or else I’d never get through the weeks ahead.
Since when do I think long term about these things?
The idea was novel for me and I was stunned to discover that I liked the idea of her being here more regularly. In my space.  With me.  It was a distressing sort of feeling.
This can all go to shit at a moments notice.  Take it one step at a time.
A change of tactics was needed, for Krystina’s sake as well as my own. My normal methods of operation would have to be thrown out the window.  Attempting to take control by laying down the law would only backfire, so I began to construct a new plan – one that would make Krystina feel more at ease.  Once she was relaxed, I would begin to work on her trust by giving her what she’s been asking for. 
Full disclosure. 
Krystina would have no doubts about what I wanted from her after tonight.  She would know exactly who and what I was.  She would either run, or she would stay.  If she stayed, then that’s when the true test would come into play – tonight I would discover if Krystina could put away that independent mind of hers long enough to pass her first lesson in submission. 
Finally feeling like I had somewhat of a solution to Krystina’s argumentative nature, I turned my attention back to the wine selection.  Smiling to myself, I settled on a bottle of Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling.
Sweet.  Like her.
I grabbed two crystal wine goblets and went back to the dining room, focused on the mission ahead.  I could only hope that Krystina would keep herself open to what I had in mind.

About the Author:

Dakota Willink is a self-employed writer and editor, and the author of Heart of Stone, a contemporary romance novel. 

She has always had a passion for reading and writing. From the time she was an adolescent, she enjoyed curling up with a good paperback, reading genres that ranged from thriller and fantasy, to mystery and romance.  She always dreamed of one day writing her own book, but had put her aspirations on hold to focus on her family and a career that would pay the bills. 

Although she earned a degree in business and had built a solid reputation in retail sales, her heart continued to be with fictional characters – whether they belonged to a favorite author or if they were just stories that she made up in her own head.  

In 2013, Dakota gathered enough courage to turn her dreams into a reality. In between playing chauffeur to two very busy children and working her job during the day, Dakota began to put words on paper.  Eventually, she began to describe her life as a book.  Everything she saw or heard throughout the day, intertwined with her imagination for the creation of future writings.  By 2014, with the support of her husband and two children, she gave up the security of a steady paycheck and began working on her first novel full time.

Dakota Willink is a lover of music, and appreciates the power and stimulating effect it can have on the brain.  She often uses lyrics and melodies to help her through bouts of writers block.  At the end of her novel, you can find an authors note that recognizes and thanks the artists that gave her inspiration.

Dakota resides in the Western New York area, where she enjoys spending time with family, her two Labrador Retrievers, and her spoiled rotten cat.  During the summer months, she can often be found on a boat, soaking up the sun on the Great Lakes with her family. 

Official Website:  http://www.dakotawillink.com