What makes you buy a book? There was a lot of factors to make you pick a book and put it into your shopping cart. Of course, one of the reasons was an eye-catching cover. They said don’t judge a book by its covers, but I can’t help myself. Cute and catchy covers are my kryptonite.

Hence, I put Shipped from Angie Hockman on my shopping cart. That was the first novel from her that I read. I never know who she is. I never heard about her before. I didn’t read the review or get a glimpse from Goodreads. Later I found that I love her book. Behind the cute cover, she also portrayed the social issue through the funny banter between her characters. She put the issue in a very subtle and nice way.

Then, I fall in love with her writing.

Her books are a complete package. All of the must-have-check about chick-lit are in there. Lovable hero and heroine, enemy-to-lover trope, workspace trope, and holiday! We can get all of that inside one book.

Plus, the social and woman issue. That issue as a backstory makes her story stand out among others.

I got shipped to her books. Let’s get to know more about Angie Hockman. And … please, read her books.

Where it all started

Do you know that she used to be an English teacher for eighth grade at an independent school in Virginia? This is what inspired her to go into writing 12 years ago. I began reading books on the craft of writing and chipping away periodically at a young adult fantasy novel, which I never actually finished,” she said. Then, in 2015, after her son was born, she decided to be a writer.

She said, “I didn’t want to look back when I was older and say “what if I’d only…” or “I wish I would have…” I wanted to throw all the effort and determination I could muster behind my dream of writing stories others might want to read—stories that would hopefully make people smile and laugh and swoon and maybe even bring them some small slice of joy—so I drastically shifted my mindset and adopted a more disciplined approach to writing.”

Because of that mindset, Angie decide to write every day. She pushed herself to go out of writer’s block. She prioritized getting the words on the page, even when she was exhausted from working at her day job and caring for a cranky toddler.

“Ten months later, I completed my first book, a romantic suspense novel. That first completed book never got published, but it allowed me to hone my craft, landed me my first literary agent, and got me far enough along on the path to publication to fuel my desire to keep going and give me hope that one day I might achieve my goals. Three years after that, my second completed novel, SHIPPED, was published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster,” she said. Wow, what a long and winding journey!

Shipped was her debut. But it’s written beautifully. I like her character development, also her writing style. She got a strong debut under her belt. “To be honest, when I wrote SHIPPED my biggest dream at the time was simply to see it in print someday. The publishing industry is notoriously difficult to break into, so I was careful not to get my hopes up when my literary agent took it on submission to publishers. Then an offer of publication came from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which blew all my expectations out of the water. I feel so lucky for all the support Gallery Books has shown my debut novel (and subsequent novel, DREAM ON), and I’m deeply grateful for all the folks who’ve taken the time to read, share, and review my book. I’ve been blown away by the reception to SHIPPED, and thrilled that readers have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it,” she said.

Despite having a full-time job, Angie felt she was lucky enough to have a great support system to help her while finishing her books. “Luckily, I’ve been able to reduce my day-job hours to part-time, which has given me more to focus on writing while juggling all of the mom, life, and home responsibilities. I also have an incredibly supportive husband, who picks up the slack around the house and takes on more than his fair share of chores when I’m on deadline and family that lives close by who routinely helps with our son (dropping him off and picking him up from school several days a week). Without that support system, I’m not sure how I could do it!” She said.

SHIPPED Yourself

I fell in love at the first page with Shipped. I don’t need another reason to enjoy all of her books. One of the reasons why I love it so much is because there’s a social and women issue inside. Besides, I love Graeme. The man who supports his woman, the male-feminist-book-boyfriend.

Let’s talk more with Angie.

How long does it take for you to write Shipped?

Angie: It took me about a year to write SHIPPED. I had been working with a literary agent, but we decided to amicably part ways. She referred me to several other agents she thought might be interested in SHIPPED, and I began querying agents for representation. About six months later, I ended up signing with one of the agents she recommended, Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency. Jessica worked with me on a final round of edits to get the manuscript into tip-top shape before taking it on submission to publishers. About three months after SHIPPED went on submission, I received an offer of publication from Gallery Books…and the rest is history!

What’s the inspiration behind Henley and Graeme’s characters? They are so nice, I love them 🙂

Angie: That’s a great question! Henley was largely inspired by the many smart, ambitious women I feel lucky to have as friends in my own life. Also, as funny as it sounds, Henley’s propensity to keep task lists (and feel like she can’t rest until every item is checked off) was inspired by my husband 🙂 He’s very task-oriented as well, so I drew inspiration for that aspect of her personality from him. As for Graeme, I’m not sure there was any one source of inspiration for his character. At the end of the day, I knew I wanted to write a “cinnamon roll” love interest—someone caring, kind, and attentive (and smokin’ hot!). A man who wouldn’t feel threatened by Henley’s ambitions, but rather support her in her career aspirations. Graeme’s character grew organically from there.

In Shipped, you share about your experience in Galapagos that inspired you to write Shipped. How do you put your experience inside the fictional story?

Angie: I had the incredible opportunity to travel to the Galapagos Islands in 2016 on a ten-day expedition-style cruise. I was already familiar with the islands and the opportunities they afford to have up-close-and-personal encounters with wildlife, but I never imagined how profoundly the experience would touch me on a personal level. To have the chance to hike amongst endemic marine iguanas and past nesting waved albatross, snorkel with endangered Galápagos penguins, spot giant tortoises roaming in the wild, and more…and have the wildlife not be afraid of me…it gave me this feeling of being connected to nature and the larger world—a feeling that hasn’t left me. A couple of years later, when I decided to write an enemies-to-lovers romance set in the Galapagos Islands, I felt moved to translate this life-changing experience to the pages of my story. Revisiting the daily journal I kept during my trip in addition to the hundreds of photos and videos I captured, I strove to capture the magic of the Galapagos Islands for readers—and illuminate the importance of protecting this incredibly special, unique place.

Your books are unique. How did you get the idea to write?

Angie: Thank you! I draw inspiration from my own life experiences and interactions. Beyond that, I like to start with the nugget of an idea—like setting a romance on a cruise to the Galapagos Islands—and ask myself a lot of “what if” questions. Like, “what if the main characters weren’t on vacation…what if they worked for a cruise company instead?” What if they don’t like each other? What if they meet for the first time in person on the ship? What happens then?” And on and on 🙂 So, no special secret! Just lots of brainstorming, letting my mind wander, drawing from my own experiences, and “what if” questions.

Could you share your writing method?

Angie: I’m a “plotter,” which means I like to do a lot of brainstorming and outlining before I sit down to write. Sometimes my characters take me in unexpected directions in the middle of writing, but generally, I always know up front exactly where I want my characters to start, the overarching journeys I want them to have, and where they’ll finish in the end.

What is the secret to writing a fun and engaging conversation between your characters?

Angie: Great question! Writing compelling dialogue and engaging banter is an art, and there are tons of articles and books out there that can advise on the craft.

Now, let’s talk more about her second book, DREAM ON.

How did you get the idea to write Dream On?

Angie: Ironically enough, DREAM ON was inspired by a dream. A couple of years ago, I had this very vivid dream that I met someone who immediately became my platonic soulmate—we just hit it off so thoroughly and immediately. And when I woke up, for a split second, I was so happy that I had this person in my life. And then in the next second, I was crushingly disappointed when I realized, “oh yeah, that was a dream…they’re not real.” This got me thinking…what if this dream wasn’t platonic, and a woman dreamed she was in love with a man who doesn’t exist but she’s convinced he’s real? How might that come about? And then, what happens if it turns out he is, in fact, real and she meets him? Thus, Dream On was born.

What is the hardest book to write (so far) and why?

Angie: I’d say my second book, DREAM ON, was the hardest to write, but that’s probably because I wrote it during the pandemic. Trying to write a romantic comedy at the height of a pandemic when you’re not feeling particularly romantic or funny was a bit of a challenge. My writing pace ended up slower than with SHIPPED, but in the upshot writing DREAM ON gave me something to think about besides the grimness of the state of the world and gave me a reason to smile.

If you can choose from all of your male characters, who do you want to date in real life? Why?

Angie: I think my husband might be mad if I answer this question, lol! But since we’re talking fictional book boyfriends, I’d have to say one of the characters from DREAM ON (I don’t want to say which one so as not to spoil anything from the book!). I adore Graeme too though—he’s an absolute peach—so he’s a very close second.

Your first book was quite successful. Have you ever felt burdened by that fact and is it affect your next book?

Angie: Maybe a little bit, lol! It’s easy to enter the writing scene as an unknown author because no one has any expectations of you, so by default you surpass everyone’s expectations. Now that expectations are out there, I certainly feel some pressure to achieve the same level of success with subsequent books. However, my mantra has always been to focus on the things I can control and ignore the things I can’t. Whether future books are as successful or well-received as SHIPPED is out of my control; the only thing I can control is writing the best story I can, which is what I strive to do.

Social and Woman Issues Inside Your Favorite Chick-lit Novel

Yes, let’s write with a cause! The story is very light, but you can find a social issue there. Eg: climate change, sexism in the workplace, misogynism, feminism, etc. Another reason to read her book: I’m all in for badass female characters.

In Shipped, you write about a social issue, eg ecotourism, global warming, and sexism in a workplace. What is the reason behind this?

Angie: As I mentioned, for my day job I work as the manager of conservation and education programs for a sustainable, small-ship cruise line, so topics like ecotourism, environmental conservation, and climate change are near and dear to my heart. In writing SHIPPED, it was incredibly important to me to bring issues like conservation into the story, especially in the context of a place like the Galapagos Islands, where conservation plays such an integral role in the health of the islands and the wildlife that calls them home.

In Shipped, you also write about gender equality and feminism but it’s very smooth. That’s what I like about it. Is there any specific message that you want to share with your readers?

Angie: One of my favorite things about being an author is that I can write stories with themes I find significant, and then hold up those stories as a mirror for readers to reflect on their own lives and experiences. In incorporating sexism in the workplace into SHIPPED, I wanted women reading the story who have experienced similar treatment to know they’re not alone and feel empowered to stand up and claim a seat at the table. Art mimics life, but I think it also influences and inspires real-life action. If even one woman reading SHIPPED identifies with Henley’s experience, or feels empowered to take action or make a change in their own life, then huzzah—mission accomplished!

Do you agree with: even though chick-lit is a fun read but as a writer, it’s better to put some social issue to complete the story?

Angie: Hmmm, good question! Is it “better” to write/read stories that contain social issues in addition to romance? I think it depends on the person. Some folks prefer light, zero-angst stories that focus 100% on romance and not much else, and that’s entirely okay! Other people, like me, tend to prefer stories that explore real-life issues or heftier topics alongside romance. I write the kind of stories that I like to read, but at the end of the day, I say read what you like to read or write what you like to write…there’s a book out there for everybody and an audience for every book 🙂

What I adore about your book is the way you write your female character. Henley is a badass heroine. What do you want to share with your readers through your female characters?

Angie: I love writing smart, strong, driven women characters because I hope to inspire folks, particularly young women, who read my books to become a “Henley” or “Cass” in their own lives—if they’re not already! Critically look at your life and ask yourself what makes you happy. Go for the promotion. Stand up for yourself and fight for what’s right. Don’t be afraid to chase your goals and dreams. Be open to love. Surround yourself with supportive, uplifting friends. And enjoy every moment of live that you can!

Do you have any social issues that you want to share in your upcoming books?

Angie: I’m not sure yet…you’ll have to read to find out 😉

How to write a social issue inside a romcom novel? I want to learn about that.

Angie: I recommend making it organic to the story and tied closely to your characters and their journeys. Nobody likes to be lectured to (readers included!), so be careful not to introduce “soap box” moments in your story, which can come across as preachy. But as long as your issues/themes are integrated with your story, your characters, and their motivations and introduced with a light touch, it can be effective.

Do you have something to say to your Indonesian fans?

Angie: Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading! I appreciate my readers across the world so very much, and I’m grateful that in the sea of books out there you chose to pick up mine. I hope when you read my books, they make you smile, swoon, and sigh happily into the night!

Last question, what’s next from Angie Hockman?

Angie: I’m currently working on my next book, another standalone romantic comedy. It’s not under contract yet so I can’t say too much about it, but you can count on it having a feisty, driven heroine, cinnamon roll hero, swoon-worthy banter, strong female friendships, and a location that feels more like a character. Stay tuned!

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