InD'Introduces: Zia Westfield!


 Writers need a lot of space for all the characters who take up residence in their heads.

I’m Zia Westfield. My job as a writer is figuring out which of those characters has a compelling story to be told. Since a dead body is often involved in whatever I’m thinking, romantic suspense is where I’ve flexed most of my writing muscle. I’ve also had fun with paranormal romance where my love of quirky characters can be on full display. See my tipsy leprechaun or my talking misgendered duck. Lately, I’ve moved into historical romance. This is new ground for me, so I’m working on establishing my voice and style in this vibrant genre.
I’ve been writing seriously since my youngest son was born, some 21 years ago. But like all writers, my story starts well before that—in the second grade, in fact, when I discovered mysteries. Honestly, if it had a good story, I was hooked. From Shakespeare to African-American lit to Spanish playwrights in my Spanish class, I read and read. As far as I was concerned, authors were magical beings, and I could never aspire to join that club.
That sentiment was tested when I went to Japan after college. English books were at a premium and not easy to get. I reread the few I owned and created my personal versions of how the characters lived on. When I returned to Japan after grad school, I brought one suitcase full of books. I wasn’t taking chances. Since my husband had his obsession over manga he’d collected over the years, he understood my need.
Then my husband was transferred to London. Suddenly, I was surrounded by the historic buildings and place names that I’d only read about in Regency novels. Talk about the swoon factor! We lived within walking distance of Regent’s Park and half a block from Abbey Road Studios. Okay, that’s a different century of history, but history is everywhere in England. The possibility of writing nudged me. It seemed ambitious as I’d given birth recently to my first son. Still with baby in tow, I attended a luncheon in which Philippa Gregory was the featured guest, and a talk by Inspector Morse mystery author, Colin Dexter (with papa babysitting). Maybe, I could do it.
It wasn’t until we were back in Japan and son number three came along that I began to shift from reader to writer. It wasn’t easy finding time and there were plenty of rejections along the way. I joined with another writer, and we collaborated on several paranormal romance suspense stories under the name Gabriella Hewitt. When my partner decided to move on, I kept writing. I contracted Killer Secrets and I haven’t looked back.
Although my sons are grown, my job as a professor is busier. Being creative after hours in the classroom is a challenge. But those characters in my head won’t be silenced for long. Eventually, they want their story told and I’m here to do it.