Interview with Dakota Willink   1 comment


Today’s interview is with Dakota Willink. Welcome to the blog. Welcome to the blog, Dakota. Tell us something about yourself.

Dakota WillinkI am a self-employed writer and editor, and the author of Heart of Stone, a contemporary romance novel. I reside in the Buffalo, NY area. I wasn’t always a writer, but have a degree in business and worked in retail sales for many years. Over time, I wasn’t happy with my career choice. I had always dreamed of writing a book, but never believed that “real” people could do it. In 2013, I finally gathered enough courage to turn my dreams into a reality and began to put words on paper. Eventually, I began to describe my life as a book. Everything I saw or heard throughout the day intertwined with my imagination for the creation of future writings. Fortunately for me, my husband pays the bills. Writing is now my official career, but there isn’t a lot of money in it when you first start out.


No, there isn’t. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

I always wanted to write, but considered writing a pipedream until a few years ago. I met someone locally who wrote and published a couple of novels. 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. When my husband read what I had been working on, he became my biggest fan and encouraged me to quit my job to focus solely on finishing Heart of Stone. I published the novel in December of 2015.


Tell us about your writing process.

I am someone that just writes whatever comes to mind. I once tried outlining the framework for my book, but found that it gets in the way of the creative process. I’m the type of person that will just think of an idea, and then let the words flow. I never let the lack of a computer at my fingertips get in the way, and I can often be caught dictating ideas to Siri when I’m driving and my imagination strikes.


Ah, so you’re a pantser. From one pantser to another … there’s nothing wrong with it. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favourite thing to write about is romance, although I’d like to try my hand at fantasy or paranormal one day.

As for reading, the last time I stayed up all night reading a book was when the last Harry Potter book was released – I am a huge fan. As for other books, I read so many genres and have quite a few favorite authors. Sylvia Day, Ken Follett, Emma Campion, Steven Saylor, Dan Brown, and Shayla Black are amongst them.


What are you passionate about?
That’s a long list…I’m passionate about a lot of things – politics, reading, writing, the importance health & fitness, animal rights. But my biggest passion is my family. I’ve been married for 16 years to a wonderful man and we have two amazing teenagers. Everything I do is for them.


What is something you cannot live without?
Coffee…I swear, since the release of Heart of Stone, it’s been my lifeline.


When you are not writing, what do you do?
As a mom of two very busy teenagers, I spend a lot time driving them to and from their various activities. I try to spend as much time with my family as I can. In the busy world that we live in, sometimes I feel like we don’t get enough of that. However, we own a boat and summer is right around the corner – I’m looking forward to making up some lost family time on the water.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?
I get inspiration from everywhere, but especially in music. I’m a lover of music, and appreciate the power and stimulating effect it can have on the brain. I often use lyrics and melodies to help me through bouts of writer’s block. At the end of my novel, you can find an author’s note that recognizes and thanks the artists that gave me inspiration.
What sort of research do you do for your novels?
I’ve had to do a lot of research, and not only online. I’ve actually traveled to complete some of my research. 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.


If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

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. In Heart of Stone, the reader can expect a mix of humor, drama, romance, and sexual angst.


Do you have a special place where you write?
It varies on my mood. Sometimes I write in my office, other times I write under a blanket on the couch. During the summer months, I like to sit on the front porch with my laptop.

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Heart of Stone (The Stone Series Book 1)I think I am more character driven. I like to be able to feel what the characters are feeling – emotion has a lot of power in a story.


I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Of course I’d bring a bunch of books – probably a mix between Colleen Hoover and Ken Follet. I’d also bring hiking boots and a camera. I’ve never been to Alaska, but I can only imagine the breathtaking images that I’d be able to capture.


So tell us about your book.

Heart of Stone went through many stages. I had initially written it from the heroine’s point of view only, and I added the hero’s viewpoint in later. Below is a synopsis of the story. However, this isn’t the synopsis that is written on the back of the book – this one has more detail and is usually reserved for publishers. This is the first time that I’m giving it out publically. I hope you enjoy!

Krystina Cole was a girl on a mission. As a recent college graduate, she was looking to establish a solid career in New York City. She had big dreams and aspirations, but the competition for marketing jobs in the city was fierce. After six months of relentless searching, she needed to take a break. Carving out a few hours of self-indulgence, Krystina planned to simply enjoy a cup of coffee and a book amidst the changing foliage of a beautiful autumn day. However, fate had another idea in mind for her – one that would upend the independent lifestyle that she worked so hard to maintain.

Alexander Stone, the New York real-estate tycoon, was amongst the wealthiest and most successful in the city. As the Chief Executive Officer of Stone Enterprise, a multi-billion dollar corporation that he built from the ground up, he was an expert on getting what he wanted. He understood the value of finesse, and the importance of patience and diligence to achieve the desired result. He relied on his naturally sharp instincts to guide him through life, and it had never failed him.

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 trusted instincts betrayed him at every turn. Even though he knows that he shouldn’t, Alexander can’t help but to want her. Krystina was like the forbidden fruit, immune to his charms and wealth, fighting his advances every step of the way. She went against his rules and everything that he valued – control and discretion holding the upmost importance.
Unable to control her, he knew that she was a risk. But that only served to make her that much more appealing. She unknowingly changed everything that he had ever known about dominance and desire. Intrigued, he cannot help but begin the relentless pursuit to gain her affection, something that he has never once had to do before with a woman. He only knew that he had to possess this one, regardless of the consequences, so he made her an offer that she couldn’t refuse.

Krystina saw the way that Alexander looked at her. She was able to see the dark promises hidden in the depths of his lethally stunning blue eyes. She wanted him. Desperately. And the realization of that fact was a tough pill for her to swallow. But the shadows of her past haunted her, making her terrified to explore possibilities that she could never before have imagined. She was flawed and damaged, relying on carefully built walls to protect her from the scars of her past. Yet somehow, Alexander Stone had the ability to easily crack through them. He was beautifully dangerous, a white-hot flame that she was drawn to and couldn’t resist.

She was curious about his clandestine world and all that it entailed, but her subconscious was telling her to run. She knew better than to give in, for caving to Alexander would mean giving up everything that she had worked so hard to overcome. Nevertheless, making the decision to deny him was a difficult one. Not only did he stir up feelings and emotions that she had longed buried, but he also offered her the job opportunity of a lifetime. Refusing him physically and emotionally might protect her heart, but she risked losing so much more in the process.

Taking a chance, Krystina begins to explore her attraction to Alexander. It’s an arduous struggle, as Alexander does everything he can do to control her, while she does everything to thwart him. But through it all, neither one can deny the carnal need that burns between them. With only one look, the air in the room around them seemed to sizzle, like the wick of a time bomb waiting to go off.

However, Krystina and Alexander are clinging to the secrets of their pasts, and neither of them is willing to compromise. Krystina’s hardened heart makes emotional surrender a hard limit. But for Alexander, revealing his past could have devastating results.
As Alexander pulls Krystina further into his provocative world, they begin to realize exactly how different they are and trust becomes more important than ever before. Entangled by their secrets, they try to defy the odds. Determined to make their newfound relationship work, Krystina lets go of her heartbreaking past and bares her soul, only to be disappointed when Alexander still desperately clings to his.

In an attempt at compromise, Alexander gives Krystina a front row seat to his alternative lifestyle by taking her to a private BDSM nightclub. She is exposed to a dark underworld that is beyond her wildest imagination.

She finally begins to understand what it means to truly submit – full surrender, complete abandonment, and irrevocable trust. Conflicted over whether or not she could give Alexander her absolute submission, she tries to separate her curiosity and desire from the bizarre situation before her. Until suddenly, Krystina’s past and present unexpectedly collide with the arrival of her long ago boyfriend, the reason behind her heart of stone. Now the lines are blurred. Should she allow her past to control her future? Or should she let her passion for Alexander take her beyond her limits to the sharpest edge of obsession?


Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?
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.
What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?
I want them to feel satisfied that reading my book was time well spent. I also hope that they can connect with the characters as much as I did.
What influenced your decision to self-publish?
It just seemed the easiest way to go, especially because I had no idea where to start with publishing houses. However, since the release of my book, I learned a lot. I’ve since sent queries to various publishing houses and have received responses from a few that are interested in picking up my title. Now, I just need to decide where I’m going in the future.


There are people believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

It’s so easy to self-publish now, that I think some “brick and mortar” publishers will struggle to survive. However, for the reader, buying a book written by an unknown self-published author can have risks because just about anyone can publish today. It becomes a crap shoot – you could end up buying a mismatched story with poor editing, or you could land your new favorite author. Because of this, I don’t think traditional publishing will ever go away. Too many people shy away from Indie authors, thinking that only traditionally published authors are worth reading. I personally don’t choose a book that way – I am a review reader. That’s why it’s so important for readers to write them.
I agree totally about the reviews. What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?
The author has total control.


Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?
We miss out on promotion, exposure, and time. Publishing houses give all of that to their authors – they promote, they know how to get books in front of the right reviewers, and they give the author time to simply write the next book. Independent authors have to do all of their own promotions (which can be costly), and they have to sort through endless websites to find reviewers. It’s very hard work. At the end of the day, there is little time left to write.


Who designed your book cover/s?

I designed my own cover.
Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I am an associate member of Romance Writers of America. So far, it’s been good, as their resources are endless and everyone is willing to help each other out.
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.


Where can readers find you and your book?

Website –

Email –

Heart of Stone on Amazon

One response to “Interview with Dakota Willink

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  1. Reblogged this on Daermad Cycle.


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